Cannabis Jobs are Booming

Jesse Staniforth
HEXO Master Grower Agnes Kwasniewska

The cannabis sector employs 10,000 Canadians, paying an average of $29.58 per hour, which is $2.55 higher than the national average.

  • The number of Canadians working in cannabis rose 266% in 2018, with 58% of cannabis jobs in agriculture.
    Aldergrove Star
  • Industry officials are confident that despite 2018’s snags and shortages, 2019 will be a big year for Canadian cannabis.
    Calgary Herald

At Border, Some Seizures, But Few Bans

US Customs and Border Protection reported that in November, they seized 20.5 pounds of cannabis in 197 interactions along the Canadian border. The previous November, they seized 7.6 pounds in 123 incidents.

  • The number of Canadians turned away from the border has not increased dramatically. CBC Politics
  • An immigration lawyer told cannabis-sector workers to be aware of their rights at the border and frame their work as contributing to American industry. The Straight

MMA Fighter Battles MED Stigma

Public Domain/US Marine Corps

Mixed martial arts fighter Elias Theodorou is protesting anti-doping rules that prevent him from using MED he has been prescribed for bilateral neuropathic pain.

  • Theodorou noted opiates like Vicodin are approved and can be used right up until fight day.
  • "Beyond my fight in the cage, my biggest fight is not against one man, it's the fight against the stigma of medical cannabis," Theodorou told ESPN.
    CBC Radio

Science-based Legalization Wins UK Praise

British medical journal The Lancet praised Canada’s science-based legalization strategy.

CAA Poll: Canadians Worried about Stoned Drivers

A Canadian Automobile Association survey found Canadians worried there would be a holiday surge in impaired driving.

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Green Growth Attempts Hostile Aphria Takeover

Ohio lifestyle-cannabis and dispensary company Green Growth Brands launched a $2.8B hostile takeover attempt against Aphria.
CTV News

  • Green Growth CEO Peter Horvath, formerly COO of Victoria’s Secret, said his company proceeded to a hostile approach after initially attempting a friendly takeover, to which Aphria never responded.
    Financial Post, CNBC
  • GGB said it has a “meaningful toehold position” in Aphria, with its offer supported by investors who own 10% of the company’s shares. If Aphria investors endorse the deal, they will own 60% of the combined company, while GGB shareholders will own 34%.
  • In a statement responding to the proposal, Aphria argued GGB’s offer was based on an inflated valuation of its own shares. Newly installed Aphria chair Irwin Simon, who took over the position from CEO and director Vic Neufeld on Thursday, said, “The Board has determined that the GGB proposal, as it currently stands, significantly undervalues the company.”
    NewsWire, StockWatch
  • Hindenburg Research, one of two short-sellers who released a damning report about Aphria in early December, argued the takeover wasn’t “hostile.” Instead, they noted GGB’s second-largest shareholder was Green Acre Capital, on whose board sits Aphria CEO Neufeld, and accused the companies of conspiring to “generate the appearance of demand.”
  • “Aphria has invested directly in the fund and therefore already owns a significant stake in GGB,” noted Hindenburg. “GGB recently listed a current Aphria board member on its own board of directors. Other recent GGB directors have obvious affiliations with Aphria and its related persons.” Green Growth, Hindenburg argued, is “largely a worthless entity with numerous signs of Aphria related-party influence.”

Edibles Regs a Christmas Gift to Industry

The industry reacted warmly to last week’s draft regulations on cannabis edibles, beverages, concentrates, and topicals.
London Free Press

Bonify Scandal Widens, Execs Sacked

Bonify’s recall continued spreading on Christmas Eve, with the announcement the company was recalling 14 additional lots of products, many of them for reversed cannabinoid values on their labels. It was unclear whether the recalled product was part of the illicit stock the company allegedly purchased from out of province and passed off as its own product.
Health Canada, Winnipeg Free Press, Global News

  • To the amazement of many, Bonify will not lose its license for procuring 200 kilograms of cannabis “not authorized for sale” and passing it off as the product of licensed production. James E Wagner clinical lead Dan Goulet noted "The loss of a license doesn't happen over night. It's kinda like a court case where there's going to be a review, Bonify will get to say their piece/dispute information, etc. [...] It could be up to 6 months before the license is lost. That said, [Health Canada] has still suspended sales."
    Twitter—Travis Lane, Dan Goulet
Public Domain

Hemp Producers--and Thieves--Still Have much to Learn

Many believe growing hemp for CBD is a quick path to getting rich, but harvesting CBD on a broad-acre scale is a new practice and no one’s really certain how to do it most effectively.
The Western Producer

Tiny Company Claims
Massive CBD Oil Supply

Attempting to position itself as “the world’s largest cannabis oil producer,” Burlington, ON’s Instadose Pharma (a subsidiary of Montreal’s Excellence Health Group) claimed it was ready to sell 2M litres of CBD oil it had harvested in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 200,000 farmers on 100,000 hectares of land.
Financial Post (Business Wire Press Release)

  • Instadose CEO Grant F Sanders claimed the oil was 99.7% pure and available at US$102.50 per litre, rather than the standard $2,800 per litre—a reduction of 96.3%.
  • Reactions online were skeptical. Cannabis Compliance’s Deepak Anand noted the wording of the press release betrayed a misunderstanding of who was allowed to import CBD oil into Canada. Others expressed concern over the ethics of cannabis grown in the DRC. Twitter, Facebook

Green Christmas for Many Canadians

Winnipeg REC retailers reported strong sales over the leadup to Christmas, with buyers noting that legalization has pushed cannabis use out into the open.
CBC Winnipeg

Quick Hits

Public Domain

1. Seeking Alpha identified four companies—AlCanna, National Access Cannabis, Choom Holdings, and Inner Spirit—as “the miserable group” of REC retailers, having lost between 35% and 70% of their equity value in the past six months.
Seeking Alpha

2. Tilray’s deal with pharma giant Sandoz/Novartis last week was overshadowed by its deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV—but because the MED sector has so much room in which to grow, the pharma deal will likely be the one to generate impressive profits.
Toronto Star

3. It's common for MED producers to own MED clinics in which doctors prescribe their products: TerrAscend owns Solace Health Networks. Invictus owns Leaf Wise Clinics. While some see the arrangement as a conflict of interest for doctors, whom they believe should be independent from companies that produce medical products, the practice is legal and widespread.
National Post

Jesse Staniforth
HEXO 1M sq-ft greenhouse under construction

4. HEXO received initial licenses for its 1M square-foot facility outside Ottawa—roughly equivalent in size to 20 football fields.
Globe NewsWire

5. Head-shop owners are struggling against competition from REC retailers—who sell the same cannabis accessories as they do, but are allowed to do so alongside actual cannabis. In Calgary, some are calling for a ban on REC stores selling accessories in favour of cannabis and cannabis-based products alone.
Globe and Mail—Paywall

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Former Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High child-actor Rebecca Haines-Saah (who played mean-girl Kathleen Mead) has become a leading researcher on youth cannabis use out of the University of Calgary.
CBC Calgary


Vancouver’s Evergreen Cannabis, a “mom and pop shop” run by a husband-and-wife team, learned on Christmas Eve it would be the first REC retailer in Vancouver to receive its licenses. The store plans to open Saturday, December 29.
The Straight, Vancouver Sun, Global News

Though some worried BC would keep track of illicit dispensaries that remained open after October 17 and block their applications for icenses, BC Independent Cannabis Association president Courtland Sandover-Sly reported the province is licensing both those that continued operating after REC legalization, and those that closed in advance of it.

A BC Hydro worker fired for allegedly stealing electricity to power a licensed grow-op should get his job back, said the BC Labour Relations Board.
CBC Vancouver

The RCMP raided a “large-scale” cultivation and butane-extraction site in a Squamish Valley barn, arresting one.
CTV News


Caroline Mulroney

Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney defended her government’s scaling back the number of REC retail licenses across the province from unlimited to 25, saying “We don’t want retailers in Ontario to take the step of opening a store and finding that they’re going to have to cut hours and take other mitigating steps to deal with this [supply shortage].”
Globe and Mail—Paywall

The province will announce the details of its lottery for 25 REC retail permits on January 2. KPMG has been enlisted to oversee the lottery.
Twitter—Trina Fraser, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

The City of Hamilton is asking for community input on REC retail before January 9.


High school students in the Témiscamingue region, eight hours northeast of Montreal, may live in rural isolation, but they’re informed about cannabis—and they’re sick of adults trying to scare them away from cannabis with exaggerated threats and no acknowledgment of cannabis’s positive side.
Radio-Canada—In French

Neighbours of a Société Québécoise du Cannabis store in suburban Quebec City complain the store’s customers monopolize parking spaces and leave packaging waste in their wake.
TVA Nouvelles—In French


A Newfoundland Supreme Court judge spared a man caught with three kilograms of dried cannabis from prison time, quoting Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’” as he gave the man a suspended sentence.

  • The man, Nicholas Murphy, claimed he was only a middleman for another party he would not name. Murphy faced a potential life sentence, though the Crown instead recommended 18 to 24 months. Justice Donald Burrage rejected the call for prison time, saying, “To now send him to prison would be entirely counterproductive and, in my view, contrary to the interests of justice.”
    CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Manitoba Conservative premier Brian Pallister is considering expanding his government’s ban on public cannabis consumption to include oral sprays, oils, and capsules. Pallister was unaware until recently cannabis oil—and oil-based products including oral sprays and capsules—became legal this year, and are not part of edibles legalization due next October.
CTV News

As a large Tweed store opened in Regina on December 21, 18 local retailers are discussing forming a co-op to give themselves the buying power they need to compete with a store backed by one of the country’s biggest LPs.
Global News

Saskatoon raided a MED dispensary, ticketing five.
CTV News


The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act contains a provision allowing First Nations Reserves to request the Ontario Cannabis Store not deliver REC products to their communities.

  • While some First Nations (often those in southern communities) are open to REC products, others in isolated northern locales are less at ease with REC in their communities. Oji-Cree First Nation Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, 580 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, became the first Reserve to ban OCS deliveries, while others have indicated they will follow--though the next reserves to join the ban may be in southwest Ontario, rather than the North.
    London Free Press

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