Canada edition / June 10, 2020
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1 BLACK LIVES MATTER, IN CANNABIS AND EVERYWHERE

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5chw4r7z / Creative Commons

As protests over the American police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor extended across the U.S. and into Canada, so did the calls for the cannabis industry to take a stand on police violence against Black people. As in the U.S., Canadian cannabis prohibition has a long history of anti-Black racism--with Black (and Indigenous) people disproportionately targeted for cannabis-related arrests.
Medium, Policy Options

  • NORML Canada, under executive director Caryma Sa'd released a statement arguing anti-Black racism in cannabis  was "not solved by legalization" as few Black people hold any power in the legal market.
    Twitter--@CarymaRules
  • Citing one complaint that REC retail was not "aligned with our family-oriented demographics, needs, values and interests," lawyer Matt Maurer noted the prevalence of complaints that licensed REC retail will attract "outsiders" who will increase crime (rather than raising property values, which REC retail appears to do).
    Twitter--@MattPMaurer, Toronto Storeys

The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty attracted attention with their demand of expungements for all Canadians with cannabis records, rather than the Liberal government's limited record-suspension program.
Cannabis Amnesty

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2 WHAT’S BREWING AT ONTARIO’S PROVINCE BRANDS?

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Province Brands is the rare REC beverage company that sought to make cannabis more like alcohol. Rather than infuse beverages with THC, Province said it would brew a THC-powered beer from the cannabis plant.

The company hasn't brought any products to market, however. WeedWeek editor Alex Halperin reports:
WeedWeek

"Before Canada legalized cannabis drinks in late 2019, [CEO Michael "Dooma" Wendschuh] said Province beers would be available once it could legally sell them. Post-legalization, [during a January presentation], he didn’t specify when they would reach shelves. The company has announced at least six product partnerships for an array of beverages. As far as I’ve been able to determine, none have gone on sale.

"...Dooma often said Province sought to “change the world,” but none of the [six] company insiders [who commented for the story] expressed confidence he would bring its flagship beer to market. Anyone thinking of investing in the company “just needs to ask the right questions, and they will see it is all smoke and mirrors,” a former employee wrote.

Dooma did not respond to requests for comment.

Read the whole thing.

3 OCS DROPS SALES NUMBERS

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The Ontario Cannabis Store voluntarily disclosed its first fiscal year's sales numbers in a richly detailed report released this week.
OCS

Between April 2019 and March 2020:

  • Ontarians spent $385.1M buying 35.1M grams (35 tonnes) of legal REC, both online and in stores.
    Bloomberg
  • Of that, consumers spent $313.7M on 27.9M grams in retail stores, and $71.4M on 7.2M grams via OCS.ca.

The median price of OCS products declined 25% last year, and is now at $8.56/gram online and $10.84/gram in stores--compared with $8.23/gram on the illicit market.
Toronto Star

Dry flower dominated with 79% of sales, followed by pre-rolls. Aurora led the sales of dry flower both online and in stores, coming second after Flowr in pre-roll sales. Aphria's Soleil sold the most oil. Though the report covered only the first three months of 2.0 products, some companies are emerging as market leaders.
MJ Biz, GrowthOp

Lawyer Trina Fraser noted though the report seems exhaustive, it contains no information about the OCS's online retail pricing strategies and wholesale markups.
Twitter--@trinafraser

Also profiting from the COVID-19 sales surge was British Columbia, whose March sales jumped  eightfold year-over-year from $2.84M in 2019 to $23.5M in 2020.
Business In Vancouver, TVA Nouvelles--In French

4 BEVERAGES BATTLE FOR POSITION

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Leo-setä / Creative Commons

Among REC beverages, there are those produced as-is by LPs (such as Canopy's Houndstooth & Soda), and those "infused" by adding water-soluble cannibinoids. The latter category includes The Green Organic Dutchman's popular powder "infusers," the Veryvell line of concentrated cannabinoid drops from Molson Coors and Hexo's joint venture Truss Beverages.

Because beverages with 2mg THC per can have little effect on those with higher tolerances, some REC stores recommend consumers add additional THC. Beyond making REC beverages stronger, these water-soluble concentrates are usually significantly cheaper.
GrowthOp

Canopy's CEO David Klein argued new data finding consumers shifting from beer to lower-calorie drinks like hard seltzer bodes well for the REC beverage sector, since most REC beverages have few calories.
Youtube, Yahoo Finance

Alberta announced the country's first REC beverage recall.
MJ Biz Daily

In Other 2.0 News:

Winnipeg's 98-year-old company Cavalier Candies is 20% owner of  Edibles and Infusions, which aims to become the largest infused-gummies producer in the country.
Winnipeg Free Press, Delta Optimist

The first edibles made without cannabis distillate appeared on Ontario Cannabis Store shelves, produced by privately held New Brunswick LP Tidal Health.
Twitter--@WhatsMyPot

5 BELEAVE HEADED FOR BANKRUPTCY, LINTON OUT AGAIN

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Public Domain

Toronto LP Beleave announced its application for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, becoming the 10th Canadian cannabis company to file for bankruptcy in 2020.
Newswire, MJ Biz Daily, Twitter--@itsdgc

In Other Corporate News:

Ousted Canopy co-founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton was again ousted, this time from his role as executive chair of US multi-state operator (MSO) Vireo. Linton admitted he is "not everyone's favourite flavour," and can be "a pretty demanding guy" when he brings his own money to the table.
Newswire, Yahoo Finance

Weeks after accepting less than half what they paid for an Ontario greenhouse, Aurora sold off its 23% stake in AlCanna for $27.6M--after paying $138M for the stocks in 2018.
MJ Biz Daily

After closing bell on Friday, Aphria migrated its shares from the NYSE to Nasdaq's Global Select Market.
MJ Biz Daily

After a strong year, Valens is repositioning itself as an "manufacturer" rather than an "extractor."
Newswire, Twitter--@BettingBruiser

Organigram is producing flower at $0.53 per gram--not as cheap as outdoor growing, but significantly cheaper than other indoor growers.
CanTech Letter

Some analysts worry investments by big alcohol and tobacco companies in the sector have hindered LPs more than they've helped. Meanwhile, an executive-search firm reviewed 96 LPs and found the companies with better-compensated executives performed worse.
The Deep Dive, THCNet

6 INDUSTRY DEMANDS REGULATORY FEE RELIEF FROM OTTAWA

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Public Domain

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce's National Cannabis Working Group asked the federal government to cancel a regulatory fee equal to 2.3% of companies' annual revenues for the next three quarters to allow companies to recover from COVID-19.
BNN Bloomberg

Quick Hits

  1. After having his complaint dismissed, a Newfoundland man fired for using MED off the clock is headed back to arbitration after the Court of Appeal found his employers failed in their duty to accommodate him.
    The Telegram
  2. An unconscious Canadian man was found in the Detroit river with 265 pounds of "suspected marijuana" attached to his body by a tow cord. Glen Mousseau was previously arrested May 10 and told police he used a submarine to carry drugs across the border.
    CTV News

7 STUDY: CBD FOR PSYCHOSIS NEEDS MORE RESEARCH

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Mat Colombro / https://twitter.com/MatColumbro/status/1237116590065319937/photo/1

A recent literature review by researchers at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal found even as there are strong suspicions CBD may help regulate psychosis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, there is not yet enough proof of that CBD is useful for the condition. The review considered eight studies comprising 210 subjects.
La Presse--In French

 

A Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal literature review of eight studies with 210 subjects,

In Other MED News:

MED shows promise in treating crohn's disease. Here's an infograph.
Greencamp

Scholars published research into therapeutic and non-therapeutic cannabis use by people in Vancouver who use other drugs.
PLoS One, Twitter--@S_l_lake

Quick Hits

  1. The Canadian Paediatric Society wants doctors to talk to adolescents about cannabis use, and issued guidelines for clinicians in approaching those discussions.
    Globe and Mail, CTV News
  2. Since legalization, there have been 15 product recalls due to incorrect THC content, with some products as much as five times stronger than labelled.
    Calgary Herald

8 REC USE INCREASED DURING LOCKDOWN: IS THAT BAD?

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Atomicity / Creative Commons

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jonathan N. Stea tried to capture the nuance of Canadians' increased REC consumption during the pandemic.
Global News

  • He noted cannabis is "relatively safe," but "cannabis addiction exists," and healthy coping skills are generally better to help "cope with uncomfortable emotions" rather than "acutely intoxicating substances."
    Twitter--@jonathanstea
  • There's no evidence of any increase of at-work cannabis use--in fact, the number of workers reporting cannabis use before work has fallen from 26% before legalization in 2018 to 21% this year.
    Canadian HR Reporter

Quick Hits

  1. Some edibles, vapes, and beverages contain palm oil, the production of which damages rainforests and may accelerate climate change. Now consumers are demanding LPs remove the ingredient or label it.
    StratCann
  2. Canada exported more dry flower (3,740 kilograms) in 2019 than any previous year, and nearly all of it went to Germany.
    MJ Biz Daily

9 BRANDING WITHOUT ADVERTISING IS HARD

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The real GoG / Creative Commons

In the U.S., the best-known cannabis brand is Leafs by Snoop (presently being sued over its name by the Toronto Maple Leafs), followed in third place by Marley Natural. Celebrity endorsement is a powerful branding agent, but Health Canada regulations ban any cannabis product depicting a person, character, or animal, real or imagined. That means LPs must integrate celebrities into their companies by selling them shares.
Twitter--@NickPateras, Vancouver Courier, GrowthOp

REC store chain Hobo Cannabis, owned by pub/restaurant megacorp Donnelly Group, tried to distinguish itself with a "we're not for everyone" hiring campaign that sought to address continued complaints their name was offensive ("Our name was chosen with a sense of wanderlust [...] shared by wayfarers who rode the newly developed railroads in the late nineteenth century"). Twitter mocked them.
Vancouver Magazine, Twitter--@TheMattFenton, @FeralMiller, @MarusHWeber

OCS user interface manager Omeed Asadi released May's 12 most-searched-for brands on the OCS website.
Twitter--@oasadi

10 ONEIDA NATION ON THAMES RAGES AGAINST OPP RAIDS

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Nick3501 / Creative Commons

After the Ontario Provincial Police raided six illicit dispensaries located outside Oneida of the Thames Nation (near London, ON), protestors affiliated with dispensaries from the community occupied a Band Council administration building.
London Free Press

  • The reserve itself is currently closed to outsiders due to COVID-19, meaning dispensaries cannot sell to non-Native customers as they usually do. Many of the protestors were connected to a group of dispensaries on land belonging to the Nation but located off the reserve, within OPP jurisdiction.
  • On Thursday, claiming the Nation's Chief and Council requested their intervention, the OPP raided the off-reserve dispensaries and charged six. Apparently enraged by claims that Chief and Council collaborated with the OPP, protestors stormed an administration building. They were accused of intimidating staff and damaging property.
    Toronto Sun
  • Chief Jessica Hill denied those OPP claims, saying she didn't call the police and was not warned about the raid.
    CBC London