WeedWeek

POLITICS
   

Record Suspensions Not Enough, Activists Demand Convictions Expungements

Wikimedia Commons / Foreen

NDP MP Murray Rankin again demanded the Liberal government follow US jurisdictions that have completely expunged cannabis convictions, rather than the more cresort to the less reaching record-suspension program proposed in Bill 93.
CTV News

Age Gates Too Porous
for Health Canada

In a letter to all cannabis sellers, Health Canada threatened those using age gates on their websites, saying gates “may be easily circumvented by youth.”
Vancouver Courier

  • REC retailers told the Globe and Mail they had not received the letter, which demands license holders “immediately assess their online promotional content, and where necessary, implement additional steps to ensure youth cannot access promotional content.”
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  • Aleafia‘s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Verboa noted, “Interesting given the provinces also age gate the same way [see above image--ed.], not sure how this protects youth? It’s silly. Also we have alcohol adverts with 'natural fruit flavours” in pink bottles that we allow as far as regulations go.
    Twitter—Michael Verboa

Lawsuit Questions US Border's
Right to Ban Entry

US law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is suing Customs and Border Protection for refusing to provide proof of its authority to ban workers in the Canadian cannabis industry for life. The plaintiffs, who work with many companies in the sector and see the bans as a threat to expanding their business, claim the practice is illegal.
The Star

  • The suit demands access to information about whether the CBP is within the scope of its congressional authority, whether the agency’s actions are based on policies or procedures, and whether the agency’s policies and procedures are compliant with congressionally determined rules.
    MJ Biz Daily

Quick Hits

  1. MED oil sales have been rising steadily since REC legalization, with 5,000 kg sold in January versus 4,400 in October. Sales of dried MED flower declined from 1,890 kilograms in October to 1,770.
    Bloomberg
  2. Brock Business professor Michael J Armstrong said the first reported tax revenues from cannabis prove the plant will not be the windfall many were expecting.
    National Post
  3. Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana argued the 10% cannabis excise tax is pushing MED users to buy illicit cannabis. CFAMM CEO James O’Hara and PureSinse CEO Malay Panchal argued the sector should make MED a priority.
    Waterloo Record, Guide to Cannabis
  4. After two months of consultations, no one knows exactly how edible regulations will take shape, though some believe Health Canada won’t deviate much from the regulations as they were first proposed.
    Calgary Herald
  5. Mothers who believe cannabis makes them more patient and empathic parents have been sharing their experiences on Facebook groups.
    New Strait Times
  6. Knowledgeable BC cannabis researcher/breeder Ryan Lee answered questions in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session (hosted by the Cannalysts) about cannabis genetics and breeding.
    Reddit

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BUSINESS
   

Hexo Acquires Newstrike in
Extremely Canadian Deal

Scott Alexander / WikiCommons

Quebec-based LP Hexo will buy Newstrike Brands, (parent of Up Cannabis) in a $260M all-stock deal—supported by the Tragically hip. Hexo's partneship with Molson to brew REC beverages makes this perhaps the most Canadian of all the sector’s mergers and acquisitions to date.
Financial Post, Bloomberg

  • Though Newstrike once traded for $4.37, Hexo bought the company for $0.47 per share, in a deal many believe suggests the end of inflated prices for mid-sized companies.
    Globe and Mail
  • Financial Post reporter Vanmala Subramaniam noted the two companies’ latest quarterly earnings “show a cumulative revenue of just under $10M/quarter but say that this deal will propel that number to $400M annually by mid-2020.”
    Twitter—Vanmala Subramaniam
  • The deal was advised by the Royal Bank of Canada, its first-ever involvement in a cannabis transaction.
    Bloomberg
  • Hexo reported a $4.3 Q1 loss with revenue of $16.2M, versus $9M loss and $1.2M revenue a year ago.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall

REC Sales Dropped in January

According to Health Canada’s Cannabis Demand and Supply – Initial Report, LPs’ January supply of “finished” dried cannabis is increasing while adult-use sales went down 4.5% between December and January.
MJ Biz Daily, Bloomberg

  • GTEC Holdings founder Norton Singhavon wondered whether, instead of a general supply shortage, “the reality is there is a shortage of what consumers actually want, and an oversupply of what consumers do not want?”
    Twitter—Norton Singhavon
  • A factor exacerbating shortages, Hexo CEO Sebastien St-Louis said, was that “All the LPs, including Hexo, greatly underestimated the amount of packaging infrastructure and logistics and employees and space that it would take to actually do fulfillment.”
    Canada.com

Billionaire Peltz Joins Aurora,
Investors Celebrate

US billionaire Nelson Peltz, co-founder of Trian Fund Management and chairman of Wendy’s, joined Aurora as a strategic advisor, in exchange for the option to purchase roughly 20M Aurora shares at $10.24 apiece. Analysts said his presence increased the likelihood of strategic partnerships.
MJ Biz Daily

Still a Lot to Work Out for Insurers

When it comes to insurance, micro-cultivation facilities face risks identical to those faced by LPs, just on a smaller scale.. Kevin Lea of Calgary’s Fuse Insurance said underwriters were less comfortable with micro sites and the “reduced security standards required,” compared to LPs, and it would take one or two significant claims before micro-cultivation insurance becomes easy to get.
Insurance Business

Quick Hits

  1. Aurora, Canopy, and other LPs are lobbying TMX Group, owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, to allow investors to invest in US cannabis companies despite federal illegality. The US market is huge and lucrative, though it remains uncertain whether TMX will risk breaking US laws to allow Canadian firms to invest in it.
    Business Insider
  2. Investors who wish to short Tilray can find few shares available to borrow. Tilray's borrow fees are as high as 110%.
    Bloomberg
  3. Health Canada court documents revealed the reason Ascent Cannabis, and its subsidiary Agrima Botanicals, had their licenses suspended was connected to the sale of oil, oil capsules, vape products, and concentrates, when the company’s ACMPR license neither authorized oil production nor allowed sales to clients or other LPs.
    Twitter—MMJ Investing
  4. After a partnership over a single REC retail location, Canopy CEO Bruce Linton did not say what his company’s next moves with convenience store Giant Couche Tard would be. However, he told a SXSW audience, “Our goals are global and it is difficult to be more global (than Couche-Tard) in terms of local business. [...] We’re looking at where the legislative framework is changing, and this company operates a lot of stores," said Linton, who went on to suggest they might sell CBD products via Couche Tard stores, rather than THC products.
    Financial Post, La Presse—In French
  5. Massive US data firm Nielsen Holdings will collect information about cannabis consumption habits, prices, and product trends from consumers as well as cannabis retailers and wholesalers. The company formed a strategic alliance with Deloitte and Headset for the project.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall, Benzinga
  6. The country’s first Indigenous-owned LP—Seven Leaf of Akwesasne Mohawk Territory (see also Ontario news, below, for Akwesasne updates)—is growing its first harvest for Health Canada approval, and hopes to have products on the market by June.
    MJ Biz Daily
  7. Two thirds of southwestern Ontario LP Eve & Co.’s employees are women, including three quarters of managers.
    London Free Press
  8. Kelowna, BC extractor Valens GroWorks has tripled its cannabis and hemp extraction capacity ahead of the legalization of concentrates and edibles, but warned there will be an extraction bottleneck as LPs desperate to scale up overwhelm extractors.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  9. Some Nova Cannabis retail stores in Alberta offer DNA testing to determine in advance how consumers’ genetic composition will determine their response to THC.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  10. A Niagara Falls woman, working with a Guelph University professor of food science, has developed PotAway, an electrolysed-water spray she claims absorbs cannabis odours.
    The Star
  11. A Twitter user complained that of 12 legally-purchased seeds of Tweed‘s Baker Street cultivar, 11 were hermaphroditic rather than feminized and could therefore not be grown to yield proper buds. “12 seeds, 1 keeper. Never had this crappy of results from ‘black market’ seeds.”
    Twitter—TheStockOmen

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PROVINCIAL
   

ALBERTA

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is looking to sign more supply agreements with LPs. The provincial body has signed agreements with 19 suppliers to date but reported it has received less stock from suppliers than expected, and doesn’t expect future shipments to arrive for some time.
Calgary Herald

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbians in the Okanagan area are at odds about whether to allow a cannabis production site to be developed on local Agricultural Reserve Land, with some believing it will benefit the area economically, and others arguing it will destroy the agricultural land and lower real-estate values.
CBC British Columbia

One of the people pushing for a BC Small Cannabis Producers and Processors Co-op is travelling around the province to pitch the idea to growers. The advantages of a co-op, he argues, comes on lower insurance prices, easier access to financing, and opportunities to buy as a group for lower prices.
Castlegar News

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Neuroforever

The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in cannabis mean it’s a much smellier crop than tomatoes (emitting 57 grams of VOCs per kilogram mass versus tomatoes’ 1.5 grams, and Christmas trees’ 11 grams). A city air-quality planner’s report given to Metro Vancouver’s climate action committee says it’s most important to control these emissions during flowering, harvesting, drying, and curing, as well as possibly during packaging.
The Straight

Vancouver edibles chefs want to make their city a culinary destination.
The Straight

The sky has not fallen“ since legalization in Kamloops.
This Week

ONTARIO

Though REC lottery winners are required to open on April 1 or face enormous fines, four in Toronto and the GTA have not yet announced their locations for 15-day public-comment periods. Another five stores have public comment periods ending March 19 and March 27. Accordingly many of the 25 REC lottery winners may not open on time. Ontario remains the only province or territory other than Nunavut without physical stores.
Ottawa Citizen

The Leaf discusses the stakes for Ontario ahead of its first REC stores.
The Leaf

Roughly 20 workers in the Ontario Cannabis Store voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, calling for job security, more hours, and better scheduling.
The Star, MJ Biz Daily

One of the province’s first licensed REC retailers will be called Hobo Recreational Cannabis, which drew complaint from homelessness advocates. The store is owned by Donnelly Group, which owns bars in Vancouver and Toronto. Donnelly VP Brand and Culture Harrison Stoker said the name “evokes a sense of wanderlust, and implies a passion for the journey over the actual, final destination [...] over a vagrant or homeless person.”
Vice

Donnelly VP Brand and Culture Harrison Stoker said the name “evokes a sense of wanderlust, and implies a passion for the journey over the actual, final destination [...] over a vagrant or homeless person.”
Vice

Jean Gagnon / Wikimedia
The Byward Market

The group managing Ottawa’s ByWard Market asked the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to protect the ByWard Market brand by preventing REC retailers from using the Market’s name in their own.

  • “It is a rather family-friendly, old, agricultural-type brand that we're trying to keep that way,” said Jeff Darwin of Ottawa Markets.
  • Trina Fraser pointed out that (though these brands don’t use the ByWard Market name), “nothing says 'family friendly' like establishments such as Bare Fax, Beerocracy, Tequila Jack and Bourbon Room.”
    Twitter—Trina Fraser
  • I spent most of 1992 through 1996 hanging around the cafés and bars of the Market. While the area is a lovely fruit and vegetable market during the day, in which my late grandmother did her Saturday morning shopping at dawn for decades, at night the area was known for its drunken violence and hard drugs.
  • A window into the inebriated chaos of the area at night can be found in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything with a former manager of the ByWard Market McDonald’s, best known as the setting for the video of a massive brawl in which a member of the crowd is shielding a baby raccoon. It is not safe for you to read at work.
    Reddit, YouTube
  • The REC store planned for the Market announced it cancelled its plan to call itself ByWard Market Cannabis, and would instead be called Fire & Flower York Street. It will be located across the street from family-friendly brands Liquor Store Party Bar and Whiskey Bar No. 112.
    CBC Ottawa

Toronto’s Ontario Craft Beer Festival will partner with longtime stoner lounge Hotbox Café and cannabis marketing firm Detonate to mount a “Pot-io” at the festival—itself part of the massive annual Canadian National Exhibition in August—upon which attendees may smoke or vape.
NewsWire

  • It will be the first legal cannabis consumption lounge in Ontario—a victory for Hotbox’s Abi Roach, whose lounge was banned from allowing vaping as part of updated the Smoke Free Ontario Act.
  • No cannabis will be for sale, but Roach will have a team of experts to answer cannabis-related questions, and will sell paraphernalia. Since the Pot-io will be part of the Canadian National Exhibition’s existing smoking lounge, they will not need a new license.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall, Leafly
Jok2000 / Wikimedia Commons
Sudbury's Big Nickel

Though they could have opted for North Bay, Thunder Bay, or Sault Ste. Marie, both winners of the REC retail lottery in the northern area of the province have opted to open in Sudbury, leaving those three other cities without a REC storefront. Sudbury, at least according to legend, can probably handle two stores.
CBC Sudbury, Stompin’ Tom

Six Nations, the most populous First Nation in Canada, passed its own cannabis-regulation law following long community consultations. The text of the law—not yet available online—explicitly states it aims to "prevent interference by external law enforcement into Six Nations domestic affairs," and that licenses issued by governments outside Six Nations “[have] no validity within Six Nations.”
Hamilton Spectator

Amid several weeks of tensions over raids of dispensaries in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory (and a series of other political issues in the community), locals associated with the disputed dispensaries say they’ve been detained by Canadian Border Services trying to cross through the Cornwall border checkpoint. Akwesasne contains land on both sides of the Canada-US border, requiring residents or visitors must pass through a checkpoint. The owner of one of the dispensaries in question claims he was beaten up by Border Services employees after being arrested related to outstanding charges laid by the Akwesasne Mohawk Police.
Ottawa Citizen

QUEBEC

Slightly fewer than half of Quebeckers—48%—consider occasional cannabis consumption socially acceptable, according to a major government cannabis survey.

  • In the first edition of its Quebec Cannabis survey, the Institut de la statistique Québec surveyed more than 10,000 Quebeckers aged 15 and up about their feelings on cannabis between March and June of last year.
  • Men (53%) were more likely than women (44%) to accept occasional cannabis use.
  • Up to 83% believe cannabis is detrimental to memory, focus, and decision-making abilities.
  • More than half (55%) consider occasional tobacco use socially acceptable, while 93% considered alcohol socially acceptable.

The province opened its 13th Société Québécoise du Cannabis store in Montreal suburb Brossard. Immediately trade union le Syndicat canadien de la function publique filed a request to represent its workers.
Global News, La Presse—In French

  • The SQDC will also open an outlet this summer in west-end neighbourhood NDG, while stores in the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships—two areas popular with vacationers in fall, winter, and summer—will open this spring.
    Global News

JUUL Labs called on the Quebec government to raise the age for e-cigarettes and other vaporized nicotine products—like those they sell—from 18 to 21 alongside cannabis. “Quebec's regulatory environment must both recognize and support the harm reduction potential of these products, while preventing young people from accessing them,” the company said in a press release.
Le Lézard—In French

MARITIMES

Though it won’t cover smoked cannabis and the list of illnesses that qualify is short, New Brunswick’s workers’ compensation board became the first in the country to cover the costs of MED last year. The program has helped patients get off of opioids, but critics complained about a cumbersome application process and argue it should extend to smoked cannabis.
CBC New Brunswick

PRAIRIES

Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf / Wikimedia Commons

An amendment proposed by Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives will make it illegal to possess more than 30 grams in a public place, or to possess any cannabis outside of its federally regulated packaging. The amended rule could be enforced by both police and taxation officials. The Progressive Conservatives have enough seats to pass the bill but may postpone or amend it.
CTV News, Winnipeg Sun

Manitoba’s minister of growth, enterprise, and trade said the government’s goal “remains for 90 per cent of the population to have access to retail (cannabis) within a 30-minute drive, within two years of legalization.” That will mean working with municipalities in small communities to find new locations, and find vendors in rural areas interested in opening REC retail stores for smaller population centres.
Chronicle Herald

Saskatchewan police have laid seven cannabis-impaired driving charges since October 17, and 596 alcohol-impaired driving charges.
CBC Saskatchewan

Regina REC retailers are encouraging customers to return their packaging for recycling via the Terracycle cannabis packaging recycling program launched in partnership with Tweed.
CTV, The Leaf

THE NORTH

The entrepreneur behind Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories’ first cannabis cultivation facility hopes to break ground by the summer. He anticipates an 18 month process of getting licensed, but has the support of Yellowknife City Council.
CBC North

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