Canada edition / April 22, 2020
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1 COVID CHANGES HOW WE BUY, AND WHY

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COVID-19 presents an enormous challenge for an industry already suffering from a shortage of capital, but carefully planned digital marketing may have a better chance than ever of developing consumer interest in brands.
MJ Biz Daily

Industry watchers believe LPs with lots of cash are best prepared to survive the crisis. Canopy and Cronos (which has no debt on its books) both have plenty. Meanwhile, inventory surpluses have gone from being a problem to an advantage.
Twitter--@chernandburn, Marketwatch

As COVID stokes worries about domestic food security, the call is rising to convert 3M square feet worth of unused cannabis greenhouses to growing vegetables.
Financial Post

This week on the podcast
Swapcast Consummation with The Wondering Jews

In this episode, we reciprocate our podcast swap with Portland’s Wondering Jews. In our turn, Alex and Donny quiz the WoJews’ Roy and Josh on how they came to effortlessly blend Talmudic study and cannabis love. Plus: The Man Who Legalized Cannabis.

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2 4/20 IN ISOLATION

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Last year, Canadians celebrated their first legal 4/20 with coast to coast parties. This year's 4-20 was all online, with streaming smoke-sessions over Zoom and other platforms, some puns and poetry, but no physical gatherings, and police on hand to make sure. Vancouver's Sunset Beach remained empty.
Twitter--@pipercourtenay, @sistermerci, Youtube--UrbanRemo, Twitter--@RootCreative_,  Journal de Montréal--In French, CBC British Columbia,

Since everyone's online, this 4/20 was an opportunity for new projects to drop.

If you're missing the togetherness of the cannabis community, don't forget there are only 100 slots in this year's grassroots legal home-growing competition the 4 Plants Cup, and some are reserved. Might as well sign up now.
Twitter--4PlantsCup

3 CANOPY CONTINUES RETREAT, CLOSES FACILITIES ON 3 CONTINENTS

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Canopy Growth announced it was closing cultivation facilities "across the world." This round of cuts affects its Tweed Grasslands greenhouse in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and facilities in New York State, Africa, and Colombia. The move cut 85 full-time positions (six of which were in Yorkton).
New Cannabis Ventures, CBC News, MJ Biz Daily, BNN Bloomberg

The news broke six weeks after Canopy shuttered two greenhouses in BC, laying off 500 workers.
MJ Biz Daily, Vice

PRE-ORDER "THE CANNABIS DICTIONARY!

4 ONTARIO ONLINE SALES UP 600%

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Mikey O. / Creative Commons

Consumers buying online from the Ontario Cannabis Store drove an increase of as much as 600% in REC sales at the beginning of the COVID crisis.
BNN Bloomberg,

OCS chief commercial officer Cheri Mara predicted sales would eventually stabilize, but would be higher on average than before. During an Ask-Me-Anything on Reddit, Mara told one questioner the OCS has worked with LPs to cut the range of THC/CBD percentages listed on the site down from 10% to 6%. (Hence products will have no greater ranges of THC than "19% to 25%" THC, as opposed to "15% to 25%.")
Reddit

The OCS plans to move to a new warehouse better equipped to handle both 2.0 products and clones, and is discussing the possibility of selling their own white-label products with two REC retailers. As of this week, Ontario had 54 REC stores and a stunning 189 "in progress."
Twitter--@itsdgc

5 SQDC MAY TOP $300M IN 2020 SALES

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Jesse Staniforth

Quebec's crown monopoly REC retailer the Société Québécoise du Cannabis reported quarterly sales of $110.8M between October and December, placing the SQDC on the path to top $300M in its fiscal year.
MJ Biz Daily

  • The SQDC booked a total profit of $18M over the first three quarters of fiscal 2020.
  • Online revenue represented 6.5% of sales ($7.3M) in the most recent quarter.

Both the SQDC's online and brick-and-mortar sales have increased in recent weeks, but the crown corporation does not share its sales figures and refused to say whether the increase was "weak, moderate, or important," or which products were most popular.
La Presse--In French

Quick Hits

  1. Winnipeg police busted an illicit REC company called Dr. Kush that used insulated courier bags from food-delivery apps in order to escape detection.
    CBC Manitoba, Global News, The Province

  2. Shoppers intervened to foil an attempted robbery at (an apparently unlicensed) Farm Assists dispensary in Halifax.
    Global News, Chronicle Herald

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6 GOOD NEWS FOR VALENS, APHRIA

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pttgogofish / Creative Commons

Extractor Valens reported the fourth straight quarter of profit, continuing to reap the reward of being one of the largest extractors in the country. Edibles, beverages and topicals mostly use extracted cannabinoids.
Newswire, MJ Biz Daily

  • Valens reported $31.9M in Q1 revenue, up from last quarter's $30.6M and last year's Q1 revenue of $2.2M.
    Cannabis Retailer
  • The amount of biomass extracted declined to roughly 20,000 kg from 24,426 last quarter, and 26,625 the quarter before that.
  • The company warned COVID-19 would likely decrease workforces, cultivation output, and demand for extraction.

Aphria reported Q3 revenue of $144.4M (with $5.7M in profit), in contrast with last year's Q3 revenue of $73.6M.
PR Newswire, BNN Bloomberg

7 CANNTRUST DELISTED ON NYSE, TSE

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Scandal-plagued LP CannTrust will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on April 27. It will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange on May 6. The move is part of CannTrust's bankruptcy filing.
Canada.com, MJ Biz Daily

In other corporate news:

RavenQuest BioMed is set to lose the last of its Health Canada licenses. The company lost access to its Markham, Ontario production facility, leading Health Canada to revoke its license. Last month, RavenQuest BioMed lost another license in Alberta over non-payment of rent.
The Deep Dive

REC retailer Fire & Flower announced it would receive $10M from Alberta crown lender ATB Financial.
New Cannabis Ventures

US online REC marketplace Dutchie, which operates in several provinces, began taking Visa and Mastercard.
Forbes

Debate raged on Twitter about whether LPs who criticize Health Canada on social media should reasonably expect to have their applications delayed.
Twitter--@Kieley Beaudry

8 CANADIAN INTERNAL FREE TRADE IS A THING

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Creative Commons / Can Pac Swire

On top of having complex free trade agreements with other countries, Canada has to harmonize trade rules between provinces under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). Governments at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels have begun discussing including REC in the CFTA, though any agreement will be delayed by the pandemic.
MJ Biz Daily

  • Chief among sector concerns is the array of provincial/territorial and federal taxes, which the industry would like to see made uniform.
  • Sector players hope they can argue for a single national excise stamp (rather than each province having its own).

Quick Hits

  1. Despite Canadian legalization, social media rules governing cannabis are still confusing, though Facebook has been talking with NORML Canada about it.
    Inside the Jar, Twitter—NORML Canada

  2. Apparently Canadians have a "high shopping problem."
    Finder

9 OUTDOOR GROWS GET GO-AHEAD, CHP DELAYED

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Creative Commons / Peewubblewoo

The COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to cut into the planting season for LPs with licences to grow outdoors.
MJ Biz Daily

Separately, Health Canada's plan to discuss the proposed "Cannabis Health Product" (CHP) designation for CBD products and other non-intoxicating REC products has been pushed back. The deadline to nominate an advisory committee has been delayed to May 11.
MJ Biz Daily, Twitter--@Matt_Lamers

Quick Hits

  1. High Hopes, the program offering MED to residents of Vancouver's Downtown East Side as an opioid-reduction measure, is attempting to enter the legal market. The organization is shifting to connecting patients with home- and micro-growers.
    StratCann

  2. Canada attempted REC legalization once before, in 2003, under the Liberal government of prime minister Jean Chrétien. Here's how that project failed.
    GrowthOp

10 BEVERAGES ARE STILL OUT THERE

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Randi Hausken / Wikimedia Commons

REC beverages are rolling out at a glacial pace, likely in part to the difficulty of discerning consumer preference for a product that hasn't existed very long. This week, a variety of new REC drinks arrived at the Ontario Cannabis Store and online chatter picked up as all 2,700 cans sold out in under 24 hours).
Cannabis Retailer, Twitter--@WhatsMyPot

In Other 2.0 Product News:

Quebec's SQDC announced its first hashish was available. (It quickly sold out.)
Twitter--@SQDC, @AurelienBrnrd

Quick Hits

  1. After consulting with university students, Montreal cannabis-education portal VoxCann found they had specific concerns about cannabis—such as using REC consciously and not as a means of avoiding responsibilities. VoxCann's report is here.
    Twitter--@VoxCann, Google Drive
  2. Young people in northern BC are consuming less cannabis than they were 15 years ago.
    CKPG Today