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POLITICS
   

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Thousands Compete to Win One of 25 Ontario REC Retail Licenses

Ontario launched its retail lottery for the 25 REC retailers that will be allowed to open in the province on April 1. Applicants across the province submitted their bids on Monday. Lawyer Trina Fraser noted between 9,000 and 35,000 aspirants entered the contest, clogging the system and slowing it down. Consequently, the deadline was extended by an hour, from noon to 1pm Wednesday.
CBC News, Bloomberg, Financial Post, Twitter, Ottawa Citizen

Neufeld to Leave Aphria: Report

Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld announced he would step down when the company found someone to replace him, just as the company was about to release its quarterly report.

  • Neufeld was replaced as chair of the company’s board of directors last month. He will also step down as a member.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall

Focus Groups Pleased with Health Canada Packaging

The final report from the consulting firm hired by Health Canada to run focus group testing on cannabis packaging, is now available.

  • Those with negative views of cannabis were pleased to see warnings about negative health outcomes.
  • Those who indicated positive opinions of cannabis were less likely to believe the content of the health warnings.
    The Leaf
  • Consulting firm Earnscliffe found those familiar with or positive toward cannabis “sought clearer evidence of harms or risks in the statements to improve their credibility — simply stating facts (statistics) was not all that persuasive or credible.”
  • All participants, however, favoured messages warning against cannabis while pregnant, driving under the influence, and adolescents using cannabis.
  • In general, focus-group participants found the language clear. Reaction to Health Canada’s plain packaging was “generally favourable.” The packaging was especially popular among 18-to-24-year-olds, who found it “somewhat understated, neutral, sleek, and, in some groups, cool.”
    The Leaf
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Canada's Cannabis Expert
Warns Our Time Will Pass

Government of Canada cannabis expert Ernie Small says Canada had better enjoy its moment as world cannabis leader, since once Central and South American producers enter the field we’ll no longer be able to compete.

  • A key problem, he noted, is that most of Canada’s growers are self-taught and work inefficiently. US cannabis industry leaders agreed.
  • Small is principal research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where in the 1970s he studied close to a hectare of cannabis in Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm, a large government farm located on the border between the centre of Ottawa and its suburbs.
  • His research helped develop a system of botanical classification separating hemp (less than 0.3% THC) from illegal cannabis.
  • I was born in a hospital across the street from the Experimental Farm and lived in a house a block away. Growing up, I heard stories of my parents’ friends in the 1970s sneaking around the corn fields of the Experimental Farm looking for the hidden government cannabis plantation. I’m not sure if they were connected with the theft of 50 plants that caused the project to be canceled, but the legend of the “Experimental Farm weed” is one many Ottawans of my generation heard growing up from their ex-hippie parents.
    CBC Ottawa, Financial Post

Washington Post Discovers
Illegal Market Still Exists

The Washington Post published a report on Canadian cannabis legalization, noting the “black market is still going strong.”

Illicit Cannabis Much Cheaper

Per Statistics Canada’s fourth quarter crowdsourced cannabis prices, legal REC costs on average $9.70 per gram, compared with $6.51 on the illicit market.
The Leaf, Surrey Now Leader

  • Though I don’t doubt these numbers to be true on average, last weekend I bought an eighth of DNA Genetics Lemon Skunk at the Société Québécois du Cannabis for a visiting family member and paid roughly $35. Afterwards, a close friend who works for one of Montreal’s larger illicit cannabis delivery services reported with some surprise that their service sells eighths at the same price.

Quick Hits

1. The chief statistician of Statistics Canada deemed cannabis the number one data issue of 2018.
Growth Op

2. Canadians may have spent as much as $240M on cannabis in Q4 2018.
Seeking Alpha

3. Lobbyists working on behalf of a variety of cannabis and ancillary companies have registered with the government of Canada. Among the companies represented are Invictus, security system designer 3 Sixty Secure Corp, law giant Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Aphria, and Ascent.
iPolitics

4. A report from Public Safety Canada predicted positive outcomes resulting from legalization would include decreased numbers of Canadians entering the criminal justice system, and a decrease to organized crime.

5. NextLeaf Labs’ Tom Ulanowski reported that during a Health Canada conference call, the government agency confirmed all cannabis oil oral sprays will need to be packaged to deliver doses of equal to or less than 10 milligrams of THC. Droppers or syringes will be banned.
Twitter

6. Whether or not cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is on the rise, it’s getting more media attention.
CBC Calgary

7. The Leaf surveyed the array of cannabis reviewers appearing online post-legalization.

8. Leafly breaks down the rules for cannabis use in national and provincial parks.

9. A survey of Canadian cannabis users found the most popular activities to pair with getting stoned were eating, watching TV and movies, and having sex.
The Star

Editor Note

Happy new year WeedWeek Canada readers!

It's been a busy few weeks:

  • Donnell Alexander has been hitting stride at WeedWeek California. It's already the best way to keep up on the other most important market and it's just going to get better. Subscribe for free today.
  • If you haven't been listening to the WeedWeek podcast, you're missing out. This week Donnell and I mix it up with cannabis journalist extraordinaire Amanda Chicago Lewis. On the episode dropping Monday, we talk to Cat Packer, who, as head of L.A.'s cannabis agency, arguably has the toughest job in weed.
  • Donnell is doing great things with our social media as well: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.
  • WeedWeek now offers some of the most attractive advertising opportunities in cannabis. Check out our NEW media kit and contact ellen@weedweek.net and john@weedweek.net to learn more.
  • We're hosting our first event, WeedWeek Recharge, on Friday, February 8 in L.A. It'll be a great crowd and A-List speakers like attorney Hilary Bricken, Pruf Cultivar's Jeremy Plumb, CannaRegs CEO Amanda Ostrowitz, Baker Technologies' Roger Obando and Hemp Ace Joy Beckerman. Request an invitation at hello@weedweek.net. To learn about sponsorship opportunities contact ellen@weedweek.net and john@weedweek.net.

Lots more is We've got lots more exciting things coming but in the meantime send feedback. Questions? Comments? You can reach me at alex@weedweek.net
Thanks for reading,
Alex

P.S. WeedWeek Canada editor Jesse Staniforth is at the Lift Conference in Vancouver this weekend. If you're there, you should say hello: Jesse@weedweek.net

New Podcast Episode

WeedWeek Podcast
65. A Very Canadian Pot Scandal with Jesse Staniforth

Jesse Staniforth, Editor of WeedWeek Canada, updates Alex and Donnell on breaking Canadian stories. There is no lack of scandal: Cannabis giant Canopy Growth fired founder and CEO Bruce Linton and CannTrust, a major licensed producer, is estimated to lose C$350 Million for ignoring the law. New regulations limiting THC in edibles exacerbate the over-packaging crisis. The country continues to battle the illicit market which is now also available online and is known by the cool name "MOMS" (mail order marijuana sites). Plus, Alex and Donnell discuss Jay-Z's partnership with Caliva.

Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud

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BUSINESS
   

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Wikimedia, Public Domain

Shortages Could Last Three Years: Rifici

How long with the supply shortage last? Chuck Rifici of Auxly Cannabis (and co-founder of Canopy) said it could last as long as three years.

  • Rifici cited companies making enormous expansions to their production sites, which will require them to remodel their operations to meet their new scale.
  • Not everyone is as pessimistic: Retailer High Tide’s CEO said the shortages were improving weekly. Financial Post


Newstrike’s Tragically Hip–co-owned brand Up Cannabis announced a recall of 1,428 seven-gram jars sold in Alberta. The company says it is a precautionary recall due to mould and microbial contaminants.
CBC Toronto

Up Cannabis Recall

Newstrike’s Tragically Hip–co-owned brand Up Cannabis announced a recall of 1,428 seven-gram jars sold in Alberta. The company says it is a precautionary recall due to mould and microbial contaminants.
CBC Toronto

Are LP Fees to MED Clinics Kickbacks?

The practice of MED LPs paying substantial “referral fees” to cannabis clinics that prescribe their products is coming under fire. These payments may represent a major portion of clinic revenue, but ethicists have called them kickbacks.
Financial Post

Quick Hits

1. Indiva announced if it does not win one of the 25 REC retail licenses in Ontario’s lottery, it wants to sell its already-designed stores as franchises to lottery winners.
CBC London

2. US cannabis distributor MJIC, currently designing a “cannabis superhighway” in California to ease supply chain woes, plans to go public in Canada by March via a reverse takeover.
The Star

3. CanniMed Therapeutics was Canada’s first LP before founder Brent Zettl sold the company to Aurora for $838M in 2018. Now Zettl has rejoined the sector with extraction company Zyus Life Sciences.
Globe and Mail

4. Aphria, Canopy, and Aurora all filed CBD trademarks in the US.
Elephant Journal

5. Aurora predicted its Q4 revenue would be between $50M and $55M.
Global News

6. Though short sellers claimed they could not find Aphria’s Jamaican production site in their attack-documents last month, Bloomberg located the fully operational facility outside Kingston.

7. The Globe extensively profiled Andy DeFrancesco, a major Aphria investor who was named in short-sellers’ reports assailing the company.
Globe and Mail—Paywall

8. After its big year, Tilray’s 180-day contractual lockup period is ending and its stock may suffer as investors sell shares.
Forbes—Alan Brochstein

9. US analytics firm Headset raised USD$12.1M, supported by a USD$3.1M investment from Canopy Rivers.
MJ Biz Daily

10. Health Canada and the RCMP are continuing to investigate the 200 kilograms of unlicensed cannabis found in Bonify’s possession.
London Free Press

11. Shoppers Drug Mart’s online MED portal opened, but only to Ontario residents. To date, the company has supply agreements with ten LPs.
Bloomberg, Daily Hive Grow

12. WeedMD announced it was partnering with fast-food chain Pita Pit to develop a service helping Canadians to open their own cannabis stores.
NewsWire

13. Seeking Alpha congratulated itself for having predicted legalization would be chaotic and less successful than hoped.

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Editor Note

Thank you to WeedWeek's Patreon Supporters! Sam Cornwall
Co-Founder/Photographer, Cannabis In Color Boutique Photo Service for the Industry, providing Custom and Stock Photos. 
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Find us at cannabisincolor.com and InstagramPamela Hadfield Co-Founder, HelloMD HelloMD: The largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers HelloMD on InstagramFacebookSpencer Vodnoy CEO, Critical Mind Inc. Adelanto, CA Affiliations: CA State Bar; Board Member, Adelanto Growers Association Critical Mind, Inc. is a Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Manufacturing Facility located in Adelanto, CA. Providing the highest quality Cannabis products. Compliance without Compromise! criticalmindinc.com

Pamela Hadfield
Co-Founder, HelloMD HelloMD: The largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers
HelloMD on InstagramFacebook

Spencer Vodnoy
CEO, Critical Mind Inc. Adelanto, CA
Affiliations: CA State Bar; Board Member, Adelanto Growers Association

Critical Mind, Inc. is a Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Manufacturing Facility located in Adelanto, CA. Providing the highest quality Cannabis products. Compliance without Compromise! criticalmindinc.com

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PROVINCIAL
   

ALBERTA

Alberta Health Services refused to accept a donation of $6,000 raised by the Calgary Cannabis Club to honour the memory of late homegrown-MED activist and cancer sufferer Rick Beaver, who received “exemplary treatment” at the AHS’s Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
Global News, Calgary Sun

  • The organization said they were in the process of developing a policy for donations from cannabis organizations.

The provincial moratorium on new REC retail licenses may cost retailers $13M in unfilled leases, and lead to 1,800 layoffs.
Calgary Herald

Alberta’s first seeds went on sale last week and already some are sold out.
The Star

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Unlicensed dispensaries that remain open in Vancouver may be subject to fines or even jail.
CBC Vancouver

  • The province’s new Community Safety Unit, designed to enforce cannabis law, is not yet up and running. However, the existing BC Supreme Court decision calling for unlicensed dispensaries to close will make it easier than simple bylaws for police to jail those who refuse to close.
    Vancouver Sun

BC is considering launching its own cannabis production licensing, though lawyers suggested without federal permission to grant cultivation licenses, doing so would be very difficult.
MJ Biz Daily

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Wikimedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Thivierr
Marc Emery, 2007

Self-appointed “prince of pot” Marc Emery’s unlicensed dispensary chain, Cannabis Culture, announced it would shut down three locations in Vancouver following defeat in BC Supreme Court.
Straight Cannabis

Despite the strain of the continuing product shortage, retailers are still eager to open across British Columbia.
Business in Vancouver

Hundreds of cannabis businesses are opening in response to REC legalization, said a representative of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which is in its fourth year of offering cannabis-business curriculum.
Vancouver Sun

BC might be ideal for a cannabis tourism industry.
The Straight Cannabis

Vancouver’s first licensed REC retailerCity Cannabis Co—opened, followed by Evergreen Cannabis, which was licensed to open in late December but chose to delay until last weekend.
Global News

ONTARIO

The Ontario Public Sector Employees’ Union, a staunch opponent of both Doug Ford and his government’s decision to privatise cannabis retail, revealed the government’s secret cannabis warehouse is located in Oakville, along with the name of the company running itDomain Logistics—which the Ford government had previously declined to make public.
Twitter—Richard Southern (680 News Reporter)

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John Tavares
Giorgio Mammoliti

Controversial former Toronto City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti—a close associate and supporter of now-dead mayor Rob Ford—began a new position as Director of Government Relations for Green Growth Brands. Ontario cannabis activists expressed disappointment.
The Star, Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, Twitter—Various

There are still roughly 16 illegal dispensaries in Toronto, and a representative of the city said closing them was “a complex process involving a number of steps.”
CBC Toronto

Two dispensaries in the Wahnapitae First Nation, an hour north of Sudbury, were raided by the Reserve’s Anishinabek Police along with the Ontario Provincial Police, who seized $110,000 worth of flower, edibles, and concentrates, and charged six.
CBC Subdury

  • The presence of Anishinabek Police means the raid was approved by the Reserve’s Chief and Band Council, though this does not necessarily mean it was supported by the community’s residents.
  • After Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory’s Chief and Council OK’d a raid in their territory conducted in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police in the summer of 2017, residents reacted with outrage and made it clear they would not support further raids. Since that time, Tyendinaga has become Canada’s unlicensed dispensary hotspot, with some 40 retailers in the community—roughly one for every eight residents.
    In Quinte, CBC Indigenous

The Ottawa International Airport introduced a cannabis-disposal bin for international travellers, but people haven’t used it much.
CBC Ottawa

QUEBEC

Canopy said it has increased its shipments to Quebec by 66% since October. Aurora increased its shipments by 30%. The SQDC says it is still having problems with supply, and some Montrealers are opting to shop at unlicensed dispensaries in Kanehsatake Mohawk Territory.

  • Kanehsatake’s dispensaries are supplied by Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario, four hours away, but low prices and wide selection entice some shoppers from Quebec to make the eight-hour round trip.
    Growth Op
  • Meanwhile, as neighbouring Mohawk community Kahnawake prepares to implement its own laws regarding cannabis, it continued raiding dispensaries in the Territory.
    Montreal Gazette

Landlords have until January 15 to ban their tenants from smoking cannabis in their dwellings, but some lawyers argue they don’t have the right to prevent tenants from using cannabis provided they don’t disturb others. All tenants have the right to contest a modification to their leases.
CityNews

Quebec’s impaired drivers are more likely to have methamphetamines in their systems than cannabis.
TVA Nouvelles—In French

Three SQDC outlets will be allowed to open Wednesdays, but none of them is on the island of Montreal. Other SQDC stores are only open from Thursday to Saturday for the time being.
Montreal Gazette

MARITIMES

Cannabis NB began laying off 60 seasonal contractors, full-time, and part-time employees, due to supply shortages.
CBC New Brunswick

PRAIRIES

The first dozen cases of illegal cannabis possession since legalization are arriving in Manitoba courts.
Winnipeg Free Press

THE NORTH

Over Christmas, Yukon RCMP stopped 325 vehicles and charged nine Whitehorse-area drivers with impaired driving—all related to alcohol, none related to cannabis.
Yukon News