Canada edition / June 24, 2020
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1 AURORA CLOSES FIVE FACILITIES, SLASHES 700 JOBS

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Lactoso / Creative Commons

Aurora announced it's closing five of its smaller production sites and laying off about 700 employees, cutting 25% of sales, general, and administrative staff "with immediate effect," and 30% of production staff over the next two quarters.
MJ Biz Daily

Executives were cut as well, including former chief product officer Shane Morris, and former director of corporate social responsibility Jonathan Zaid (founder of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana).
Twitter--@MJBizDailyIntl, @DrShaneMorris, @JonZaid, Newswire.

The five shuttered facilities represent roughly 40% of Aurora's costs, a Cantor Fitzgerald analyst told BNN Bloomberg.

The company does not expect any decline in production.
Global News

 

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2 APRIL SALES SLOW BUT STEADY

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Jay Carter / Creative Commons

Depending on whom you ask, April's REC sales either "slumped," "edged lower," or "remained strong" compared with March's pandemic-inspired surge. (American REC sales largely remained strong.)
Motley Fool, BNN Bloomberg, MJ Biz Daily, Bloomberg

  • April's $180.2M in sales were a slight decrease from March's $181.2M--a 0.6% decline eclipsed by the fact that March sales soared 19% over February's tally. At the same time, non-cannabis spending declined 26.4% in April.
  • Canadians spent $74.6M on legal REC last April. This year's total represents a 242% increase over last year.

A variety of reasons for the 0.6% decline in April are considered here.
Market Realist

3 CANOPY SEES $70B GLOBAL MARKET, BETS ON DRINKS

Canopy Growth predicted the global cannabis market will climb from some $10B to $15B today to nearly $70B by 2023--with 90% of consumption driven by the US, Canada, and Germany.
Yahoo Finance

To cut costs, company representatives warned further layoffs would follow the more than 800 jobs slashed since January. (Last week, MJBiz Daily revealed Canopy CEO David Klein was compensated at a rate four times times that of ousted co-founder/co-CEO Bruce Linton.)
BNN Bloomberg, MJ Biz Daily

4 HEXO SELLS GREENHOUSE AT UNCERTAIN LOSS

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Henrik Heino / Wikimedia Commons

Hexo sold its Niagara, ON cultivation facility for $10.25M, after halting production there last November.
Globe Newswire, CBC Hamilton, MJ Biz Daily

Quick Hits

  1. BC launched a program and how-to online guide to help prospective growers navigate all three layers of government to become licensed in the province.
    Vernon Morning, Twitter--@TrinaFraser

  2. In a federal-on-federal government lawsuit, information commissioner Caroline Maynard is suing Health Canada for refusing to give out the postal codes or home cities of federally licensed MED growers.
    Toronto Sun

5 MIGRANT WORKER ADVOCATES TARGET APHRIA

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Justice For Migrant Workers

Against mounting public outrage in Ontario about migrant workers' COVID deaths, activists circulated a video purporting to show poor housing conditions for temporary foreign farm workers at a bunkhouse operated by Aphria partner Double Diamond Farms.
The Star, CBC Windsor

Jason Longden, former CEO of struggling Pasha Brands--now the BC Craft Supply Company--was compensated a total $1,017,506 for six months of work last year. President, director, and executive chairman Patrick Brauckmann received $737,656 in compensation in 2019.
The Straight

  • Pasha lost $4.65M in the first quarter of 2020, with net revenues of $15,052, and employees went reportedly unpaid "for months."
    Twitter--@CosmicBlend

Financial analyst Aaron Salz warned capital remains scarce for cannabis companies, especially for startups and private companies, and those who can get it pay a premium.
Twitter--@StoicAdvisory

Namaste Technologies CEO Meni Morim resigned as a director of Calgary choclatier Choklat, of which Namaste owns 49%. Morim's resignation was due to "disagreements between [him] and the management of Choklat."
Newswire

Former Aurora CEO Terry Booth sold more than 60% (114,000) of his Aurora shares  for $2,013,468.
Twitter--@BettingBruiser

Organigram announced--as expected--it would change the name of its Trailer Park Boys REC brand Trailer Park Buds, which likely violated Cannabis Act prohibitions against celebrity endorsements.
Business of Cannabis, Twitter--@bofc_canada, @ChadFinkelstein

6 CLASS ACTION SUIT ALLEGES MISLABELING THC/CBD

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Ungry Young Man / Creative Commons

An uncertified class action lawsuit filed in Calgary accuses major LPs of selling products whose THC and CBD contents are "drastically different" than are listed on containers. Among the defendants are LPs (or related entities) Aurora, Aleafia, Hexo, Cronos, Tilray, Organigram, and Medipharm.
Cannabis Law Report, Global News, Twitter--@MattPMaurer

  • Plaintiff Lisa Marie Langevin bought a Tilray oil product but felt no effect on multiple uses. Lab analysis revealed the oil contained only 46% of the THC listed on the bottle. A second sample from the same lot contained 79% of the listed THC. (More details here.)
    Twitter--@WhatsMyPot
  • Samples by several producers were tested by an independent lab: six had THC levels dramatically different than the amounts listed on the package. Two were much stronger, as much as 119% the listed THC content. Others were weaker. These allegations have not been proven.
    Twitter--@Cain, @MattPMaurer

Defendants have yet to respond, but will likely argue the product contents were accurate at the time of packaging.
Twitter--@MattPMaurer

7 DISGRUNTLED BC RETAILERS FIND STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

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Public Domain

While emailing private REC stores about regulatory changes (including scrapping the rule that required REC store windows to be opaque), the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch inadvertently openly CC'd all of the province's private retailers, who quickly identified one another and created a Facebook group in which to vent frustrations. Some are angry the provincially owned BC Cannabis Store is allowed to sell the same product as they do, only at a discount--especially since it has a monopoly on online sales, others annoyed they shelled out thousands to block their windows. Still more want the right to deliver products directly to customers' doors, as has been allowed under emergency COVID measures in Ontario.
Powell River Now, Twitter--@UnityMarguerite, Castanet, CBC British Columbia

In Other Retail News:

New Brunswick will decide by the end of summer which LP will receive the province's REC retail monopoly. Premier Blaine Higgs and his conservative government decided to privatize the provincial monopoly last November, before Cannabis NB became profitable.
CBC New Brunswick

Ontario surpassed the 100 REC store mark and has moved past 110 Retail Store Authorizations. By lawyer Matt Maurer's count, Canopy's Tokyo Smoke has 10 stores, Canna Cabana has 7, One Plant has 8, Inner Spirit has 6, Hunny Pot has 6, and Hobo has 7.
MJ Biz Daily, Twitter--@MattPMaurer

Postmedia cannabis vertical the Growth Op initially published and then took down an opinion by editor Kate Robertson criticizing Toronto's newest Tokyo Smoke location for displaying the owner's collection of pieces by Banksy.
Twitter--@CosmicBlend, @KatieRowboat

Here's a portrait of Alberta's REC retail system, with its nearly 500 stores.
StratCann

Saskatoon REC stores, claiming their feared their ability to be competitive, failed to convince city councilors that they needed to restrict the number of new REC stores that will be allowed to open this fall.
CBC Saskatoon

8 NATIVE POLICE MAY RELAX DISPENSARY RAIDS

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JESSE STANIFORTH

On National Aboriginal Day, protestors picketed Anishinabek Police Services stations in Batchewana and Garden River First Nations to protest the APS's controversial raids on First Nations dispensaries. They argued police were failing to respect traditional Anishinaabe authority structures.
Dispensing Freedom

In other First Nations Cannabis News:

In Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, ON, a dispensary was burned to the ground during a dispute over REC retail in the First Nation. A Hereditary Chief called dispensary owners "invaders [...] trying to pollute our community."
Sarnia Observer

Ontario organization the Indigenous Justice Group demanded an investigation into why OPP claimed they raided dispensaries outside Oneida of the Thames First Nation in collaboration with Chief Jessica Hill, who denied requesting or allowing the raid.
St Thomas Journal

Williams Lake First Nation, in BC, broke ground on the province's first farm-to-gate cultivation/retail facility.
Williams Lake Tribune

Quick Hits

  1. Lawyer and NORML Canada executive director Caryma Sa'd argued the sector cannot avoid discussing racism since prohibition exists because of it, and contemporary drug policing reflects that heritage.
    Inside the Jar

  2. Vice asked all 45 major federally licensed producers for detailed diversity information about their managers and executives. Only 20 responded and of those, just two said they had visible minority executives or senior managers, though many were quick to argue they had gender parity.
    Vice

9 GIVING CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT

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Painjet / Wikimedia Commons

 As BC REC stores agitated for the right to deliver direct to consumers, Ontario extended its emergency policy allowing private delivery and curbside pickup until June 30. Delivery is very popular with customers and some retailers have debuted technology similar to Amazon and Uber Eats to smooth transactions for customers.
CBC British Columbia, Twitter--@TrinaFraser, Sudbury.com, Yahoo Finance

Hoping to be first to market in things not yet legal, some businesses offer what they imagine will be legal within a few years, such as chefs offering to prepare infused meals in your home.
CBC British Columbia

  • In Manitoba, REC retailer Delta 9 announced a partnership with the Manitoba Hotel Association to bring REC stores into Manitoba hotels. This is the first truly serious move toward REC tourism I've seen since legalization.
    Global News