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How Supply Chain Problems Have Impacted The Cannabis Industry

Adjusting to the new normal.

This story originally appeared on The Fresh Toast

Just as the cannabis industry was beginning to catch its stride, the world was swept into a panic caused by COVID-19. The ways in which the pandemic has affected the supply chain across industries has made life difficult for consumers of products across the board — and the cannabis industry has been no exception.

Here are just a few ways the industry has struggled through recent supply chain challenges.

RELATED: U.S. Cannabis Industry is 'Flourishing' In Spite Of (Or Because Of?) General Economic Downturn

Finding basic supplies is difficult

The process of providing consumers with cannabis products becomes that much harder when they can’t find the supplies necessary to manufacture and package them in a timely fashion. The products that are becoming harder for cannabis manufacturers to find include things consumers may never give a second thought to like the hardware that goes into vaporized cannabis products.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that most cannabis retailers rely on Chinese factories to produce those products since not many domestic factories are equipped to produce those types of products. Even though most Chinese factories are back to work, many have enacted social distancing policies that have made it difficult for them to produce the supplies at a rate efficient enough to keep up with demand.

Prices are unpredictable

Cannabis retailers can’t sell products that they can’t cultivate. One of the biggest obstacles currently facing cannabis retailers is the fact that supplies that make it possible to grow are becoming increasingly more costly. According to recent reports, volatility within the industry has led to many cultivators buying products like fertilizer, grow lights and other materials in bulk for numerous reasons.

The first reason is because there is a current 2-to-3 month delay in receiving products. Next is the fact that they’re hoping to avoid experiencing price hikes, which experts say are nearly inevitable. Even though the volatile market within the cannabis supply industry started at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, it’s showing no signs of ending any time soon.

Lack of new talent to problem solve

The challenges that the cannabis industry is currently facing are compounded by the complex regulatory nature of the industry itself. Making matters worse is that the industry is relatively new, so there are few people who have both the experience with navigating its highly regulated nature and experience with supply chain management. That presents the challenge of hiring new employees from different industries to manage supply chain issues which could lead to costly mistakes being made.

This is often the case because many newcomers into the cannabis industry don’t possess an accurate understanding of exactly how regulated cannabis markets operate. That costs cannabis retailers because not only are they still faced with the same supply chain issues they originally faced, but now they have to go correct their mistakes too which costs time and money.

For the most part, the challenges presented by the supply chain have yet to impact most recreational cannabis customers. Since the challenges cannabis retailers and product manufacturers are facing don’t appear to be going away anytime soon, the best case scenario is for them to be able to successfully adjust to a new normal. If they can’t sustain their business models as-is, there’s no telling what that means for consumers in the long-term.