Canadians Aren't Using More Cannabis since Legalization (Except in Quebec)

The number of Canadians using cannabis has remained stable since legalization, according to Statistics Canada.

  • 4.6M Canadians, 15% of the 15+ population, said they’d used cannabis in the past three months.
  • Nearly half of users said they used REC, while one quarter used MED.
  • Only 26% of REC users bought legally.
  • Nineteen percent of Canadians said they planned to use cannabis in the next three months, higher than those who reported recent cannabis use.
    CBC Health
  • For 76% of respondents, the most important consideration in buying cannabis was quality and safety. Only 38% prioritized getting the lowest price.
  • More than 620,000 Canadians use cannabis medically, which means 30% more than the 479,100 Canadians who have a doctor’s referral for cannabis are self-medicating.
    The Leaf News
  • Consumption is increasing in Quebec, which has traditionally polled as the province least open to legalization. Ten percent more Quebeckers have consumed in the last three months than in the previous three.
    TVA Nouvelles—In French

Lawyer to Ontario Bar: Cannabis Act Youth Provisions Unconstitutional

Lawyer Emma Rhodes argued the Cannabis Act’s provisions for youths may be unconstitutional under the Youth Criminal Justice Act due to differences in sanctions for the possession of cannabis and cannabis plants.

  • Adults are criminally liable for possession of more than 30 grams, while youths are criminally liable for possession under five.
  • “The Youth Criminal Justice Act says that a young person cannot face a higher sanction than an adult for the same offence,” Rhodes told the Ontario Bar Association, “Not only do they face a higher sanction, they also face criminality for something that adults cannot have criminality for.”
  • Rhodes nonetheless does not expect constitutional challenges to the Act.
    Canadian Lawyer

CBD Trials Don't Reflect CBD Products Available in Canada

Getty Images

A plant scientist calling him- or herself Terp Ferguson noted of the 173 clinical trials on CBD ongoing in the US, 95% have doses exceeding 100 milligrams per day.

  • “There is a giant gap between the anecdotal use of CBD and quantities being clinically investigated,” Ferguson said. “At this price, one would need to pay $180/day.”
  • Ferguson summed up that doses of CBD in clinical trials are greater than are available legally, and high-dose pure CBD is largely unavailable in Canada.
  • General practitioner Dr. Shelley Turner noted, “I have patients that would like to increase their dose of #CBD, but cannot afford it.”
    Twitter—Terp Ferguson, Shelley Turner

Quick Hits

  1. Some legal US states are temporarily lowering cannabis taxes to support legal businesses competing with the illegal market. But Canada has no plans to follow suit.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  2. Canadian Border Services reminded Canadians they can’t carry MED into Canada without a Health Canada exemption, not just a doctors' recommendation.

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Researchers Tamp Down Expectations

A report from a cannabis researchers Brightfield Group modeled the Canadian cannabis industry in 2021 based on REC sales since legalization and concluded the industry would be worth $5B—not $7B or $8B as others have predicted.
Financial Post

Namaste Fires CEO

Online accessories retailer Namaste fired CEO Sean Dollinger—whose September share-pledge party (featuring Snoop Dogg and models dressed as sexy nurses) resulted in Tilray cutting its ties with the company. Namaste also plans to sue Dollinger, and assess its strategy.

Excise Stamps Still a Sticking Point

Jesse Staniforth

According to Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, excise stickers remain a critical stumbling block for LPs. The stickers continue to arrive without adhesive and each LP must determine how to affix them.
The Leaf

  • Lawyer Kirk Tousaw added, “another complicating factor is having 10 different retail regimes in place with many provinces/territories preventing producers from forming direct relationships with stores or having #farmgate sales.”
    Twitter—Kirk Tousaw

Health Canada Pulls
Bonify's Sales License

Health Canada suspended Bonify’s sales license as punishment for procuring illicit cannabis and passing it off as its products. As well, Health Canada forwarded the case to both the RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency for further investigation.
CBC Manitoba

Tetra Bio-Pharma Shuts Down Studies Due To Mycotoxins in Raw LP Cannabis

Tetra Bio-Pharma announced that in December it temporarily suspended its Phase 3 clinical research studies (into the epain and quality of life for ffects of smokable cannabis on terminal cancer pain and quality of life) after the raw cannabis it received from Aphria (which owns 20% of Tetra) tested positive for mycotoxins permissible under the Cannabis Act, but not under food-grade Good Manufacturing Practices.
Press Releases

  • The Globe and Mail noted this indicated a gap between testing for food and drug products and for cannabis. Cannabis is not tested against as rigorous a standard for mycotoxins as other food and drugs, which could means cannabis could become contaminated by toxins for which LPs aren’t presently testing.
  • Health Canada would not respond to questions whether it would upgrade its testing standards for cannabis.
    Globe and Mail

Aphria Board Rejects Hostile Takeover, Green Growth Undaunted

Aphria’s board recommended shareholders reject Green Growth Brands’ hostile takeover bid as “undervalued and inadequate” and “exploitative.” Some shareholders agreed, while others see GGB as an impressive company that would give Aphria exposure to the US market. GrowthOp

  • Financial Post reporter Vanmala Subramaniam added on Twitter, “My sense was [among Aphria shareholders] there seemed to be a general lack of real enthusiasm for both companies.”
    Twitter—Vanmala Subramaniam
  • GGB continued its takeover attempt in spite of Aphria’s rejection.
    MJ Biz Daily

Will Beverages Make REC
Competitive with Alcohol?

Getty Images

Cannabis hasn’t yet caused declining alcohol consumption, but some believe THC beverages will change that. Lots of LPs are working to develop cannabis beers that act like alcoholic beers in terms of sensation onset time.
Global, Bloomberg

  • Can this even be done? I’ve heard privately from some execs at beverage-connected LPs who claim the science is irrefutable, while execs outside beverage-connected LPs say it won’t work as THC won’t behave in the body the same way alcohol does, even if it’s made water soluble.
  • Other critics note that REC is a different experience than alcohol, and users may find they prefer alcohol over cannabis for things like weekend group socializing.
  • Business Insider's Jeremy Berke added that other obstacles between the beverages and the mass market is that they’re expensive, and not allowed in bars.
    Twitter—Jeremy Berke

Quick Hits

  1. A PwC Canada report on mergers and acquisitions argued, “With recreational cannabis now legal in Canada and medical cannabis rapidly expanding internationally, 2019 will be a pivotal year to show investors a return on capital.” The report suggested Canadian companies are the best suited to pioneer the industry in other countries headed for legalization.
    The Province
  2. A week into legalization, 95% of consumers across four provinces were unaware which REC brands they had purchased. Branding experts say this is due to Health Canada’s strict packaging regulations.
    MJ Biz Daily
  3. All-stock transactions are encouraging “grossly overvalued” deals, said Portfolio Management Corp managing director Norman Levine. “You can offer whatever you want because it’s not cash.”
  4. MED producers are realizing they can save money by relocating production to countries warmer than Canada.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  5. Continuing a tradition of hostility to cannabis that has included stripping accounts from licensed MED businesses, most of Canada'sthe major banks continue to shy away from dealing with cannabis.
    The Province
  6. Last November, Health Canada gave Agrima Botanicals and its parent Ascent Industries time to provide reasons why they should not have their license revoked. This week, HC rejected the reasons and said it will move ahead with stripping the company of its licenses.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  7. Canopy Rivers completed a $17.4M equity investment in CanapaR Canada, whose subsidiary CanapaR Italy manufactures and processes CBD oil and isolates.
    Globe NewsWire
  8. Auxly canceled its joint venture with MED producer FSD Pharma due to what it described as “contractual breaches relating to FSD Pharma's management and staffing obligations of the JV facility [under construction], as well as significant concerns regarding certain aspects of the buildings' infrastructure.”
  9. A member of Hexo’s board made a court application to force six telecommunication companies to identify several users of the Stockhouse discussion board whom he alleges have made slanderous and defamatory statements about the company.
    La Presse—In French
  10. PEI’s only LP, FIGR said it’s developing more ecological packaging for its products.
  11. Aurora’s Cam Battley called Air Canada out because its Maple Leaf Lounges were classifying the Aurora website as selling “Illegal Drugs” and blocking access to it.
    Twitter—Cam Battley
  12. Green Relief is the world’s only MED producer using aquaponics, a process that uses fish waste as fertilizer for plants that then clean the water in which the fish live.
    CBC Business
  13. The Toronto Maple Leafs head office believes Snoop Dogg’s Leafs By Snoop trademark is too similar to the stalwart-if-perpetually-defeated NHL franchise’s branding.
    CTV News

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Calgary’s Canna Cabana and Nova Cannabis both offered a variety of REC products on sale at 50% off. Reddit posters debated whether the Cannabis Act actually allowed point-of-sale locations to offer discounts on cannabis, or just promotional information.

A traffic stop outside Banff led police to 148 kilograms of illicit cannabis, along with psychedelic mushrooms, shatter, edibles, and $11,000 in cash.
CBC Calgary


The City of Vancouver plans to crack down on dispensaries after the BC Supreme Court decision ordering unlicensed dispensaries to close. Noting the absence of physical MED stores, the ongoing supply shortage, and the value of MED in easing the opioid crisis, activist Dana Larsen said, “This is the wrong time to have a dispensary crackdown.”
CBC British Columbia

Pamela McColl, chair of anti-cannabis lobby group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said she had approached the Vancouver school board to encourage them to stock THC-testing swabs with which they can determine whether students are using cannabis. Lawyer Kyla Lee noted this would likely lead to minorities being targeted, while “courts have recognized that children have privacy rights even while in school, and those privacy rights are heightened when it comes to their personal property.”

Vancouver’s park board commissioner is calling for sales of cannabis to be banned at this year’s 4/20 event.
Vancouver Sun

BC’s health officer called for decriminalization of possession of small amounts of all drugs.
Globe and Mail—Paywall



Gary Hatt, one of the five Greater Toronto Area winners of the REC retail lottery, was disqualified for breaking the lottery’s rule 2.b, which says winners may not change their ownership structure or corporate structure in a way that changes control of the company.
AGCO, Bloomberg

Cannabis retail is not for the faint of heart,” said Cannabis Compliance’s Brenna Boonstra, noting that between now and April 1, Ontario REC retail lottery winners need to secure a location, design a store and renovate it, install security, hire and train staff, order products, and make sure the store is compliant with all regulations. Most onlookers believe few lottery winners will be open on time, while a few lottery winners believe they’ll be open as soon as they’re allowed.

Ontario released its demanding inspection and pre-inspection criteria for REC retailers.

The province debuted CannSell, an obligatory four-hour training course for REC retailers developed by Lift & Co. in partnership with MADD.
The Star, Straight Cannabis

The province also launched its wholesale website for REC retailers to buy from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

The OCS announced six new supply agreements with LPs as well as 11 accessories providers.
Blackburn News

REC retailer High Tide announced it was partnering with one of Ontario’s REC retail lottery winners to open its first store in the province, though the company did not specify how much they paid for their minority share, nor in which region of the province the winner was located.
Business Insider (Press Release), Twitter—Jameson Berkow

  • Lawyer Caryma Sa’d pointed out the terms of the lottery may be voided by such a partnership. “There are no minority stakes in a sole proprietorship. You are locked into how you presented yourself in the original lottery application.”
  • Meanwhile, despite having won no licenses nor partnered with no winners, other retailers are buying up desirable retail space to be ready for the opening of more REC retail licenses, anticipated later this year.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall

Band police in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory raided two REC dispensaries, one of which claimed it was licensed to sell cannabis. The Territory has its own cannabis regulations, including its own licensing process.
Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

The Ottawa neighbourhood of Wellington West, where I grew up, will be home to the city’s first legal REC store.
CTV Ottawa


More than 20 pediatricians specializing in adolescent health signed an open letter dismissing Quebec’s proposed plan to raise the age for cannabis use from 18 to 21, which they said would “have an inverse effect than that which is predicted on adolescents and young adults.” The reason for legalization, they said, was not that cannabis is a harmless substance, but rather that it can be more easily controlled when it’s legal.
La Presse—In French

Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services

Following news that provincial poison control centres have seen three times as many excessive-cannabis cases since legalization, Quebec launched a $1.5M campaign to warn about cannabis that will run ads in movie theatres, TV, radio, and online. Aimed at 15- to-35-year-olds, the ads are nonsensical and bizarre in a bid to attract attention.

The Quebec government’s plan to raise the age of REC consumption and purchase to 21 means the provincial company will lay off 15 workers (including three full-time workers) who are below 21.
Métro—In French

The SQDC website crashed for a while on Tuesday, thanks to an update that “took longer than expected.” For those Quebeckers who do not live near the 12 SQDC retail locations, the website is their only means to access legal REC.
Journal de Montréal

Two more SQDC stores have unionized.
La Presse—In French

Kanehsatake Mohawk Territory, outside Montreal, has nearly as many dispensaries (11) as the whole province of Quebec (12), due to a lack of local police that leaves the community’s Chief forced to call traditional Kanehsatake enemies the Quebec provincial police la Surété du Québec. (I explained this in a little more detail in a post last fall.)
Journal de Montréal—In French


New Brunswick reported it has only received 53% of the products it has ordered to date, due to continuing supply shortages. Cannabis NB has only been able to keep 11% of its products consistently in stock.
MJ Biz Daily

A Halifax woman who uses MED for her MS had her driver’s license suspended and her car impounded after a Draeger DrugTest 5000 showed the presence of cannabis in her system, but she passed an inspection by a drug-recognition expert.

A couple in Bridgewater, NS, were sentenced to several months in prison (to be served on weekends) for routinely giving the woman’s 13-year-old son cannabis to smoke and calling him “a pussy” when he coughed. National Post

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