Five months into legalization, there appears no end in sight for the supply shortage causing a freeze on license issuing for cannabis retailers in Alberta.

“I can't even hazard a guess of when we'll finally get this store open,” said Fire and Flower’s Nathan Mison.

While Mison said his store is also dealing with municipal red tape, part of his problem is an issue numerous retailers across the province also face: “There's 75 stores currently open in Alberta but there's 500ish in the queue.”

He added: “There's lots of people sitting like ourselves that have stores built-out, hired employees, are waiting to open and are waiting for the go ahead from AGLC.”

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis announced a moratorium on retail licences in November.

Since then, the agency has only issued 10 in all of Alberta.

The head of Alcanna’s Nova Cannabis doesn’t expect the industry to stabilize for another year or two.

While paying rent on an empty store is possible for the bigger players, CEO James Burns said some of the smaller retailers are struggling.

“We get a lot of calls all day from people with stores and licences wondering if we want to buy their (leases) because they want to get out,” Burns said.

The AGLC said there is no update on the moratorium. It is unable to provide interviews during an election season.

Mison said he was optimistic about change coming soon, but that there are other factors to worry about—like Ontario brick-and-mortar shops opening next week.

“Ontario, of course, is a 14-million person market, so do licensed producers lose product to Ontario, therefore exacerbating the supply challenge?” he asked.

“We are all waiting for the consequences of that.”

With files from Nicole Weisberg