WeedWeek
A note from our editor

Welcome to the new WeedWeek!

When I started writing WeedWeek in 2015, sales were about to begin in Oregon, the third REC state, and it was possible to pack all of the week's developments into a single email. This redesign and expansion reflects that as the cannabis industry grows in wealth, reach and influence, a single email is no longer sufficient.

Not that we want to overwhelm you. Whether you're a cannabis executive or a curious on-looker, WeedWeek aims to be the essential publication for following the green rush. And we want to keep you up to date without wasting your time.

In addition to Jesse Staniforth's WeedWeek Canada, today we're launching WeedWeek California, by Donnell Alexander. Throughout the week, Donnell, Jesse and I will be posting original reporting and analysis on a gorgeous new WeedWeek site, which we'll unveil within days.

Doesn't this newsletter look great? All credit goes to Marquee and their Proof publishing platform, which us writers have barely begun to explore. We're gonna have some fun with it.

WeedWeek advertisers will never have any influence on WeedWeek's editorial content, but we're proud to offer them some of the most attractive native advertising and other promotional opportunities in cannabis media. Plus, there will be swag, events, and lots more. To learn more write to partnerships@weedweek.net

The green rush is a captivating story, touching on the great themes of the human experience. We'll be watching with arched eyebrows, goofy grins and sometimes both at once.

- Alex Halperin

PS If you'll be at MJBiz Con in Las Vegas this week, we hope you’ll help us celebrate our expansion with a party produced by Arcane Revelry. Sign up for the guest list here.

block.alt_text ? block.alt_text : ''

POLITICS
   

Report on organized crime overblown?

Following Radio-Canada's EnquĂšte report that unnamed major LPs have ties to organized crime, Health Canada said it had no evidence of any LP with criminal connections, and the country's top seven LPs and all denied any ties to organized crime. (MarketWatch)

Ad Law Deprives Kids of News

Postmedia, which owns 140 newspapers across Canada, including the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Sun and numerous other dailies—as well as cannabis-news platform the GrowthOp—ended its Newspapers in Education program which sent free papers to schools because the papers carry cannabis ads, which cannot appear in venues open to minors. (CityNews)

MED Activists Feel Abandonned

A MED activist claimed Tilray, Canopy, Aurora, and Peace Naturals abandoned MED users for REC customers, and encouraged MED users to "vote with their wallets" by switching providers.

Cannabis Abuse Declines

Ontario saw "problematic" cannabis use decline between 2010 and 2016 even as daily cannabis use increased, according to a study by the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (CMAJ)

Quick Hits

  1. With legalization, lawyers with cannabis addictions may feel more comfortable seeking treatment. (Canadian Lawyer)
  2. Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer suggested his party would raise the national age for cannabis use above 20 and give provinces control over home growing. (Toronto Sun)
  3. While a study found heavy cannabis use was linked to strokes, a doctor believes cannabis may help stroke sufferers. (Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen)
  4. MADD Canada is polling its membership to find out whether they will support the organization in demanding increased penalties for cannabis-impaired drivers. (Radio-Canada—In French)
  5. USA Today noted Canadian LP greenhouses are producing safer cannabis than existed in the illicit market.

New Podcast Episode

WeedWeek Podcast
48. Weed on Wall Street with Business Insider's Jeremy Berke

New York-based reporter Jeremy Berke joins Alex and Donnell to discuss how Wall Street banks are wading into the green rush. Plus, a few words on data firm Headset’s partnership with mainstream data juggernaut Nielsen and the accounting giant Deloitte.

Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud

BUSINESS
   

An Abundance of Shortages

Shortages of legal cannabis may continue into 2020, in part due to the difficulty for LPs in meeting Health Canada standards.

Stocks Gonna Stock

Cannabis stocks rose as Michigan voted to legalize REC, Utah and Missouri legalized MED, and pot-hating US Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned. (CBC Business, Financial Post)

Rich on (Rolling) Paper

Sixty nine percent of all takeovers in the cannabis sector this year were all-stock deals. Only 1% of deals were made with all cash, which is in shorter supply in the industry due to banks and traditional investors hesitating to buy in. (Bloomberg)

The next challenge for LPs will be securing intellectual property patents on cannabis genetics. (Financial Post)

Four major LPs will report their earnings next week, and will be measured primarily by their production costs, selling prices, and expenses. (Bloomberg)

Meet the MOMs

The illicit market has moved online. Mail-Order-Marijuana (MOM) sites offer cannabis cheaper than provincial sources—and they offer order illegal products like edibles and concentrates. (Waterloo Region Record)

Insuring the Crop

Another US underwriter—Falvey Cargo Underwriting—has entered the Canadian insurance market, offering coverage for cannabis moving through the supply chain. (Canadian Underwriter)

Aphria announced an agreement with Rapid Dose Therapeutics to create oral cannabis strips. The deal follows Aurora, which partnered with CTT Pharmaceuticals in April, in developing this style of delivery. Aphria will begin producing oral strips in 2019. (Press Release, Midas Letter, CTV News)

TerrAscend took the blame for mislabelled products that drew complaints from Ontario consumers. Products were inadvertently labelled with higher THC content than they contained. (CBC Toronto)

The Second Cup, in partnership with National Access Cannabis, plans to begin developing two of its cafĂ©s in Alberta into REC dispensaries, and “has started a strategic review” of its other cafĂ©s, including some in Ontario, to consider whether they may be ideal for conversion as well.

  • Under provincial laws, cannabis retailers may not sell products unrelated to cannabis, and consumption will not be allowed. (CBC Business, Bloomberg)

South of the Other Border

Mexico's progress toward legalization may boost Canadian LPs. (Globe and Mail—Paywall, CanTech Letter)

Organigram's Chief Commercial Officer blamed Health Canada regulations for the industry's controversial overpackaging. (Globe and Mail, Chronicle Herald)

Quick Hits

  1. Canopy announced a partnership with Brink's, which will provide logistics and cash-management.
  2. Vancouver LP C21 investments received the first license from Ukraine to import and distribute CBD. (Growth Op)
  3. Trina Fraser said real estate lawyers are reporting new warranties added to purchase agreements promising properties have never been used for cannabis cultivation. (Twitter)
  4. Following Shopify, tech firms are looking for a foothold in cannabis. (Globe and Mail)
  5. For farmers, deciding to grow cannabis is a complicated decision. (Financial Post)
  6. Head shops are thriving thanks to legalization. (Brockville Recorder & Times)
  7. Molson Coors believes non-alcoholic cannabis beverages could be a $3B market. (Beverage Daily)
WORKPLACE
   

Training differs widely from province to province for cannabis retail workers.

  • Some provinces train employees with programs developed by Lift & Co and MADD, while others have developed programs of their own. (Globe and Mail)
  • As I noted last week, some employees of the SociĂ©tĂ© QuĂ©bĂ©coise du Cannabis (who receive 20 hours of training, some of the country’s most detailed) complained they were not taught about cannabis so much as they were taught how to warn customers against cannabis-associated harms. (Vice Quebec—In French)

Legalization means more women will join the cannabis industry, argued the CCO of a female-focused paraphernalia brand Van der Pop.

Hey man, don’t bogart that WeedWeek

Click here to share WeedWeek

IN THE PROVINCES
   

Alberta

An online survey of Albertans found no Calgarians older than 55 ordered cannabis online from the provincial Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis board. No records are available of sales per age group by Alberta’s private REC retailers. (Globe NewsWire)

The province's hemp farmers hope their crop will be "the next canola." Canola has been enormously profitable for Alberta, and demand for it continues to grow. (Calgary Herald, Alberta Farm Express)

Alberta will not include cannabis in its tourism campaigns. (Calgary Herald)

B.C.

Vancouver's incoming mayor said the city won't immediately crack down on unlicensed dispensaries and small grow-ops. (Vancouver Sun)

The New York Times profiled disgraced Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who was temporarily stripped of his gold medal in 1998 after testing positive for cannabis. Today, he runs Legacy, which sells cannabis paraphernalia, and Ross's Gold, which sells bongs and dab rigs.
Cannabis remains a banned substance in sports, though no one believes it enhances performance. (CBC Sports)

Cannabis consultant Travis Lane ordered 16 strains from the BC Cannabis Store and found them small, flattened, odourless, and lacking trichomes. (Twitter)

Ontario

A hacker breached Canada Post's delivery tracking tool and accessed data on 4,500 Ontario Cannabis Store customers. The OCS said the information gleaned from the breach was limited, but critics said it is a bad start for provincial online REC sales. (National Post, Motherboard, Globe and Mail, CBC Toronto, The Star)

Ontario opens applications for REC retail stores on December 17, reports Deepak Anand.

The Guardian reported on consumer complaints the federal government, through its provincial-wholesaler-model, "forced a monopoly on both the supply and delivery on cannabis products, then failed to deliver."

Ontario retailers are scrambling for commercial real estate in a repeat of Alberta's April-May rush, which saw as-yet-unlicensed companies signing ten-year leases at dramatically increased rents. (Globe and Mail—Paywall, CBC Calgary)

One of two Toronto police officers who ate an edible during a raid, became intoxicated, and called for backup pled guilty to attempting to obstruct justice, and resigned from the force. The judge called him a "complete idiot."

Ottawa Police raided two dispensaries. An Ottawa Police representative on Twitter stressed to me dispensaries were warned to close before October 17 under threat this would take place.

  • Windsor police also raided a dispensary and laid their first charges under the Ontario Cannabis Act. (Windsor Star)

Quebec

Quebec’s Lobbyists' Commissioner is monitoring lobbying by the cannabis industry. At present, only 23% of cannabis lobbyists in Quebec are formally registered. (Le Devoir—In French)

The Montreal Gazette profiled the companies supplying the Société Québécoise du Cannabis.

Addictions advocates and other activists assailed the conservative CAQ government for reversing plans to open a SociĂ©tĂ© QuĂ©bĂ©coise du Cannabis outlet near Montreal's Berri-UQAM metro station (a hotspot for drug traffic), saying the decision was made "for ideological and political reasons." (Le Devoir—In French)

  • The aggressively anti-cannabis CAQ halted all plans to open new SQDC stores when it was elected in October, and is re-evaluating the location because it is too close to a university. The CAQ plans to change the cannabis law and force SQDCs farther away from schools. (CBC Montreal)

The new Montreal municipal budget includes $5M to create a Montreal police force squad to crack down on illicit cannabis. (City of Montreal—In French)

Businesses adjacent to SQDC outlets in Montreal complained about the SQDC's lines and the smell of cannabis smoke. (Global News)

Representatives of the 12 SQDC locations have somehow submitted 14 applications to unionize, and various unions are fighting over who will represent the SQDC workers. (Le Droit—In French)

Some buyers are illegally reselling SQDC cannabis on classified-ads site Kijiji, or charging a premium to wait in line and buy cannabis for others. (La Presse—In French)

Kahnawake Mohawk Territories traditionalists decried the community's embrace of legal REC, saying the substance is not a part of traditional Mohawk culture and should be used only as medicine. (Montreal Gazette)

A patron at a Normandin Family Restaurant in Levis, Quebec, threatened to murder a server who refused to let him smoke cannabis at his table. (TVA Nouvelles—In French)

Maritimes

Provincial opposition parties accused a Newfoundland cannabis lobbyist connected with the provincial Liberal party of getting sweetheart deals for his clients Canopy and Biome. (CBC Newfoundland)

The maximum fine in Newfoundland for an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is $500, while the maximum for open cannabis in a vehicle is $10,000. (Twitter)

On Monday, 10 of New Brunswick's 20 Cannabis NB stores were closed due to product shortages. On Tuesday, two more closed. (Global News)

Those who want to keep kids from using cannabis should spend less time and money dissuading them and focus on creating ways to keep kids occupied, a Denver psychologist speaking in New Brunswick said. (CBC New Brunswick)

Prairies

To date, only five of the 51 retailers who won cannabis permits in Saskatchewan's retail lottery have actually opened stores. (CBC Saskatchewan)

A Meta Cannabis store in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation is likely the first licensed on-reserve REC retailer in Canada. 11 of 12 employees are members of the Opaskwayak Nation. (CBC Manitoba, Winnipeg Free Press)

The North

Nothing cannabis-related seems to have happened in the North this week.

In sad news, Iqaluit's Northmart grocery store suffered an enormous fire that destroyed most of its goods. It’s one of three food markets in that community, where food must be flown in from the south and standard items are priced between two and five times what they would sell for in southern cities like Montreal or Ottawa. (CBC North, Business Insider)