Canada edition / July 14, 2020
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My Last WeedWeek Canada Newsletter

Dear readers, subscribers, and friends,

After two and a half years and over 100 editions, this will be my , last WW Canada newsletter. It will also be WeedWeek’s last Canada newsletter, at least for now. The company has recently made a number of strategic moves, and when I told Alex my plan to step away from the Canada newsletter, he took it as a sign to focus on the U.S. I’m sad to see the end of WeedWeek Canada, but also genuinely pleased to end on such a high note. We’ve put out some of our best newsletters in recent months and I’m proud to uphold that high standard through our final publication.

Going forward, I plan to stay as close to WeedWeek as I can, but I’m no longer going to be poring over the news quite so intensely. That will give me the opportunity to do more research and investigative reporting, which is the work I’m most passionate about. I plan to pitch those stories to Alex and WeedWeek first, and I’ll continue helping Alex and other team members on investigations and projects. You can continue to follow their work by connecting with them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Thanks also to everyone who’s subscribed to and read this thing into which I poured so much of my life, and thanks to everyone who ever answered last-minute questions for a story. This job would have been an awful lot harder had I not been surrounded by so many kind and helpful people. We’ll all be seeing one another again soon, I’m sure. 

Jesse

1 SECTOR IRATE AS ONTARIO CANCELS DELIVERY

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Public Domain

As we finished last week's newsletter, news was breaking that Doug Ford's Conservative Ontario government had reversed its pandemic policy of allowing private REC stores to deliver directly to customers. Click-and-collect online ordering for in-person pickup will not be affected. Crown corporation the Ontario Cannabis Store will again have a monopoly on REC delivery.
MJ Biz Daily, BNN Bloomberg

The cannabis sector was widely critical of the decision, beginning with Ontario's many new REC retailers struggling to get their stores open in an ongoing pandemic. NORML Canada said forcing customers back into stores is an unncessary public health risk.
CBC Toronto, Twitter--@CalyxTrichomes, @NORMLCanada

2 THE WAIT IS THE HARDEST PART

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Public Domain

An aspiring toronto REC store owner applied for a Retail Store Approval (RSA) in March, but the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says she'll get it in September. (She'll have to pay rent on her storefront until then).
The Star

Though the AGCO hasn't formally set a cap, it began planning in January to license five stores per week. Consultant CannDelta reported the Ontario Government has since ordered the number capped at five per week, though critics say the AGCO could and should license many more.
BNN Bloomberg, Twitter--@CannDelta, @ProfMJArmstrong

In BC, publicly traded REC retailer Choom (with 18 stores in three provinces) appealed Vancouver's rejection of its plan to open a REC store in the Coal Harbour neighbourhood, but the appeal contained allegedly forged letters from local businesses supporting the store, signed by bogus employees.
Vancouver Sun

3 SECOND CUP OPENS FIRST REC STORE

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Shuets Udono / Creative Commons

Aegis Brands, parent company to coffee-shop franchise Second Cup, opened its first Hemisphere Cannabis REC store in Toronto.
BNN Bloomberg

In Other Sector News:

Canopy cut 30 more employees at their Smiths Falls, ON headquarters, following 200 job cuts in April (44 of which were in Smiths Falls), and 500 jobs cut in BC in March. The company's head office still employes roughly 1,500.
MJ Biz Daily, Inside Ottawa Valley

Aurora and Aphria considered a merger, but the deal fell through last week over compensation for the board and senior executives.
BNN Bloomberg

Hexo announced it will begin selling MED in Israel through a two-year agreement with Israeli MED company Breath of Life. Israel recently overtook Germany as the largest international MED importer.
Globe Newswire, the Deep Dive, MJ Biz Daily, Marketwatch

As the number of shareholder lawsuits against LPs mounts, directors' and officers' liability insurance  is getting more expensive and harder for LPs to attain.
Insurance Journal

Business Insider considered the downfall of cannabis digital media company Civilized, which folded in December and still owes back pay to former employees and freelancers.
Business Insider

BMO Capital Markets has long been one of the only major banks to deal with the sector. This week, chief operating officer Chris Taves joined the board of directors of LP MediPharm Labs.
Globe Newswire

4 NB MAKES RETAIL LOOK EASY (FINALLY)

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Christopher Craig / Wikimedia Commons

After flailing so dramatically through its first year that a University of New Brunswick professor designed a class to study its failure, New Brunswick crown REC retail monopoly Cannabis NB marked its second profitable quarter in a row, raising its quarter-over-quarter profits from $500,000 to $1.4M (on $16.3M in sales, a 78.7% year-over-year increase).
CBC New Brunswick, Global News, StratCann

In Other Provincial Retail News:

Legal REC sales have increased in Newfoundland and Labrador as pandemic concerns lure customers from the legacy market. Increased online sales in March, April, and May jumped 233% year over year.
CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

5 INVENTORY STATS AND OTHER NUMBERS

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Public Domain

LPs have larger inventory stores than ever--as of April, cultivators and processors had 620,144 kg (1.4M pounds) of unpackaged inventory. LPs, retailers, and wholesalers also held an additional 85,014 kg of packaged inventory. As of February, cannabis overtook lettuce as the Canadian crop with the 4th greatest harvested area.
MJ Biz Daily, Twitter--@Matt_Lamers

Health Canada began publishing monthly sector updates after a March-to-June pandemic pause. In their newest report, dry flower holds a 73% share of total REC sales, extracts (including oil-vape pens) held 14%, while edibles and beverages held 12%. StratCann's David Brown considered the numbers in greater detail in a Twitter thread.
StratCann, Twitter--@drowbb

In a different kind of bleak statistic, Black and Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately targeted for simple possession of illicit cannabis under the Cannabis Act. Since the Act was passed in 2018, 1,454 people have been charged for violating it.
CityNews, Twitter--@ChrisGoodwin79

The prohibition-leaning Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction published its survey of "Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms, 2015-2017," in which it revealed the principal cost of cannabis use was criminal enforcement of prohibition.
CCSA, Twitter--@ProfMJArmstrong

6 SHOPPERS LAUNCHES REAL-WORLD MED STUDY

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Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Creative Commons

Pharmaceutical giant Shoppers Drug Mart (part of the Loblaw family of companies) partnered with the University Health Network and Toronto General Hospital director of pain services Dr. Hance Clarke to launch a study on MED effectiveness.
Chronicle Herald

In Other MED/Research News:

Canopy is backing away from "pure pharmaceutical drug development," saying the challenge of getting Drug Identification Numbers (DINs) for MED is too great.
MJ Biz Daily

MED registrations with Health Canada have begun to slowly decline, though registrations for personal production and designated production have continued to grow. StratCann explains the numbers here.
Twitter--@WhatsMyPot, @Drowbb, Globe and Mail, StratCann

New research from the University of Montreal found young adults consuming cannabis were twice as likely to commit acts of violence, though Jean-Sébastien Fallu, a psychology professor at the same university, noted the study did not control for alcohol consumption.
Université de Montréal--In French, Twitter--@JSFallu--In French

Dr. Jenna Valleriani and a team of major names in harm-reduction and MED research published their work exploring grassroots efforts to give free MED to marginalized people who use other drugs. The abstract is online, but Valleriani's Twitter thread explaining the project is a more illuminating read.
Science Direct, Twitter--@Jennav5

7 TOO LITTLE CBD, LOTS OF THC

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Jesse Staniforth

The U.S., U.K., and parts of Europe have been gripped with consumer fervour over CBD products, while Health Canada continues to treat CBD as a controlled substance. The result? Mat Columbro, co-founder of compliance consultants Vindica, noted the Ontario Cannabis Store stocks only two high-CBD flower products. However, Columbro noted the emergence of some low-priced CBD oils.
CSP Daily News, Twitter--@MatColumbro

Consumers want high-THC cultivars they know will get them high. That's created incentive for producers to shop around from lab to lab for the highest THC reading they can find, and engage in other skullduggery.
StratCann

Quick Hits

  1. This thread of suggestions for changes to the industry revealed no shortage of issues the sector has yet to deal with..
    Twitter--@CannadaEd_

8 BC FEUDS OVER CANNABIS POSSIBILITIES

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Calkan / Wikimedia Commons

Craft growers and their advocates continue to argue for BC to implement a "craft cannabis policy reset." They believe the craft movement could create thousands of jobs and urge the provincial government to sign off on a plan to bring 30% of licensed MED growers into the craft REC system.
Vancouver Sun

BC minister of public safety Mike Farnworth announced an update to orders giving BC's anti-cannabis squad (the "Community Safety Unit")the power to target the landlords of buildings in which unlicensed dispensaries operate.
Twitter--@drowbb, Stratcann

Quick Hits

  1. Hydro-Quebec announced it would give preferential electricity rates to greenhouses within the province—including those growing cannabis. The plan will hopefully reduce energy costs for growers as much as 40%.
    Montreal Gazette

  2. Alberta’s cannabis wholesaler stopped carrying REC chocolates for the summer months due to products melting. The Ontario Cannabis Store could learn from them. (BC’s cannabis regulator has refrigerated trucks.)
    MJ Biz Daily, Twitter--@CoreyHerscu, @DrowBB

  3. If you’re an Ontario LP hoping to profit from farm-gate sales, lawyer Trina Fraser explained the fine print.
    Twitter--@TrinaFraser

9 NWT DISCOUNTS ON ALL REC BY 10%

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Jesse Staniforth

The Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC), a territorial REC monopoly, announced it was reducing all REC prices in the territory by 10% in order to make legal product more competitive with unlicensed REC.
MJ Biz Daily, Cannabis Retailer

In Other Northern and Indigenous News:

Iqaluit's potential first physical REC store, Nuna Cannabis, entered the public notice period. Iqaluit had success opening a beer and wine store to undercut spirits bootleggers in the territory, and hopes similarly to draw consumers from the illicit market.
Cannabis Retailer, Nunatsiaq News

Tupa's Joint in Vernon BC is a complicated situation: it's an Indigenous-owned store operating outside the reserve. However, owner Cory Brewer, a member of the Okanagan Nation, says that because the store is located within his people's traditional territory, a series of Supreme Court decisions suggest it should be allowed to operate.
Vernon Morning Star, APTN

 

10 POLICE CHIEFS CALL FOR DECRIMINALIZED POSSESSION

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Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Arguing "being addicted to a controlled subjstance is not a crime and should not be treated as such," the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CAPC) called on the federal government to decriminalize small amounts of all illicit drugs for personal possession.
CBC Politics, Global News