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Editor Note
Public Domain

After a thirteen-month thrill-ride of nonstop cannabis news, I (and WeedWeek Canada) will be taking a well-earned vacation next week, and we'll be back the week of April 8. In our absence, I strongly encourage you to follow the original WeedWeek as well as WeedWeek California. See you soon.

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POLITICS
   

And The Shortage Goes On...

Public Domain
Tennessee, 1946

Barron’s said the “great marijuana shortage shows no signs of letting up,” citing a report from US brokerage Cowen on five provinces that found the best online product availability was 61% (Ontario Cannabis Store), and products were far harder to get in less populous provinces like New Brunswick.

GPs, MDs Face Off with MED Advocates

Public Domain

A Global News story profiled family physician Dr. Sarah Giles’s objections to the presence of MED companies at the 2017 Family Medical Forum, an annual family-medicine conference organized by the College of Family Physicians Canada. Giles told Global, “Marijuana is the next OxyContin, where everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it’s not addictive, it’s harmless, it’s good.’ [. . .] I think we will look back at this time and just be like, ‘What the hell was going on?'”
Global News

Youth Cannabis Use Increasing
Since 2015

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7048972

Youth cannabis rates hit their lowest point in the 2014-2015 year and have been increasing since then, according to a study by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s School of Public Health and Health Systems.
Eureka Alert

  • “The problem was developing while legalization was being discussed, but well before concrete steps to change the law were taken,” said the study’s lead author.
  • The GrowthOp’s Emma Spears looked through the study’s findings in detail.
    GrowthOp

Quick Hits

  1. Alongside former Republican speaker of the house John Boehner, who received 625,000 shares (worth US $13M) in Acreage Holdings as a gesture of thanks for his “courageous” change of heart on cannabis, former anti-cannabis prime minister Brian Mulroney received 280,000, worth US$5.8M at the time of this writing (Thursday evening). Both sit on Acreage’s board.
    Twitter—Alex Halperin/WeedWeek
  2. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada partnered with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in providing $1.5M in funding for research into cannabis-based medicine for relief of MS symptoms.
    Daily Hive Grow
  3. A Twitter user pointed out the newly unveiled tax-per-THC-percent rates unveiled last week will favour edibles ($0.10 per legal 10mg edible), while the taxes immediately spike for concentrates ($10/g of hashish, vape cartridge contents, or shatter) and for tinctures/capsules ($1/g).
    Twitter—Aaron Anderson
  4. Cannabis Amnesty, in partnership with LP DOJA, launched its “Pardon Truck” in Vancouver ahead of a cross-country trip to push for legislation that will expunge cannabis possession convictions.
    Vancouver Sun
  5. A cannabis test by manufacturer Medicare for sale at Dollarama dollar-stores is not licensed or certified for domestic sale.
    Radio Canada—In French
  6. Half of respondents to the National Cannabis Survey reported they used cannabis for medical purposes.
    Huffington Post

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BUSINESS
   

New Austere MED Packaging

Aurora Cannabis

Health Canada’s new regulations on MED packaging came into force, subjecting it to the same strict no-adornment rules as REC products.

Cronos Revenues, Losses Up,
Shares Down

Cronos reported Q4 revenue (ending December 31, 2018) of $5.6M up 250% year over year. Its 2018 gross revenue of $17.1M was up 317% from 2017. The company lost $11.8M or six cents per share in Q4.
MJ Biz Daily, Twitter—Earnings Max

  1. During the earnings call, Cronos CEO Michael Gorenstein admitted that like other LPs, they are having processing difficulties, which has stalled the company’s growth.
  2. An executive from Marlboro-parent Altria Group, which invested $2.4B in Cronos in December, will be installed as Cronos CFO.
    MJ Biz Daily, Twitter—Earnings Max
  3. Grizzle head of research Scott Willis noted Cronos “only sold C$1.8mm of recreational cannabis last quarter for an average price of $3.50/gram (after tax). This is a $9 billion dollar company!”
    Twitter
  4. Cronos shares saw their biggest one-day decline following the reports.
    Bloomberg

Seth Rogen Launches
REC Brand with Canopy

https://www.flickr.com/people/22007612@N05

Canopy partnered with Pineapple Express actor/writer Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg (for an unspecified amount) to sell their Houseplant REC brand of dried flower, pre-rolls, and softgels.
CBC Business

  • Rogen and Goldberg will run the business, while Canopy will provide facilities and infrastructure.
    CTV News
  • Houseplant sent out a retro-tech publicity pack, including a USB drive contained in an old VHS box, and three vinyl records with songs selected to pair well with indicas, sativas, and hybrids. As far as I could tell, none of the records included “Give Me Another Joint” by Damn Sam the Miracle Man, “Let’s Go Get Stoned” by Ray Charles, or “Dopesmoker” by Sleep, which in my opinion just heaped oversight on oversight.

Anand: Supply Shortage
Didn't Keep LPs Out of Europe

Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of European cannabis company Farmako, suggested Canadian producers missed an opportunity for major export deals to Europe due to the supply shortage. Deepak Anand dismissed the assertion as “Absolutely incorrect. It's the inability of several Canadian companies to obtain EU-GMP which led to this deal not going through not a 'product shortage'. In 2018, no Canadian #cannabis company was awarded EU-GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice standards].”
Bloomberg, Twitter—Deepak Anand

US Bill May Cost
Canada Cannabis Advantage

Canadians should monitor the progress of the US’s Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which proposes to shield US banks from criminal consequences for working with cannabis companies provided they operate in compliance with state law. If the legislation goes through, writes the Financial Post’s Vanmala Subramaniam, the Canadian sector stands to lose its first-mover advantage.
Financial Post

Quick Hits

  1. Men hold 93% of the board possessions for the two-dozen leading Canadian LPs. The number has gone declined slightly from last year, when only 5% of board positions were occupied by women. In Canadian boardrooms outside the sector, women represent between 15% and 20% of membership.
    MJ Biz Daily
  2. An Ernst & Young study concluded the Canadian cannabis market will reach $11B in the next six years, and dried flower will give way to non-combustible products.
    MJ Biz Daily
  3. After drawing fire from across the sector last week for calling for a crackdown on illicit cannabis, Organigram CEO Greg Engel quickly clarified, “I wasn’t suggesting police enforcement.” Engel said he was calling for banking institutions and payment-processors to stop dealing with illicit sellers.
    The Leaf
  4. The RCMP will not charge Bonify with buying 200 kilograms of illicit cannabis—some of which interim CEO George Robinson characterised in December as tainted by yeast, mould, E. Coli, pesticides, and herbicides—and passing some of it off as its product.
    CBC Manitoba, Bloomberg
  5. Canadians don’t like buying their cannabis online.
    Global News
  6. The popularity of CBD oil and CBD products has greatly exceeded expectations and LPs are rushing to produce more.
    CBC Nova Scotia
  7. The Globe’s Mark Rendell interviewed Cannabis Compliance’s Brian Wagner on the company’s second anniversary.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  8. CannTrust is the latest to plan to grow outdoors, on a 200-acre space they aim to use to grow between 100,000 and 200,000 kilos of product entirely for extraction.
    MJ Biz Daily
  9. CBD has been a huge success as a tobacco substitute in Europe, where annual sales are predicted to hit US$1.7B by 2023. For Canadians hoping to invest in the European sector, however, a report from Brightfield Group cautioned the regulatory hurdles required to operate on the continent are significant.
    Globe and Mail—Paywall
  10. Last week, I mentioned that Natural Health Services, a MED referral clinic with locations in four provinces, had suffered a major data breach in which 34,000 patients’ records were accessed by hackers. Now a proposed class-action lawsuit has been launched against the company.
    The Leaf
  11. What makes the illicit market attractive to consumers is both its prices—in some cases nearly half that of legal cannabis—and its availability, since illicit-market buyers tend to buy 17.2 grams per purchase, more than twice what legal buyers buy on average.
    CBC Toronto
  12. SOL Investments, best known for its association with Aphria, is investing in US soft drink brand Jones Sodas, which may suggest future plans to develop cannabis beverages.
    The Province
  13. After finding more LP products full of seeds (an Organigram Critical Kush/City Lights pre-roll which he again found full of seeds and stems, and five out of eight CannTrust products containing seeds) cannabis reviewer Brad “PancakeNap” Martin found a product to praise in Broken Coast’s Northern Lights Haze/Galiano. “Broken Coast offers you a chance to see some really fine genetics, through the lens of an expert. I feel that’s worth the asking price,” Martin said.
    PancakeNap
  14. Molson-Coors warned shareholders that REC legalization may lower consumer spending on beer. In Canada, Molson Coors’ beer sales have been in decline, making the company’s 57.5% ownership of a joint venture with Hexo to make REC beverages critical to its survival.
    MJ Biz Daily
  15. Seeking Alpha called National Access Cannabisthe best cannabis retailer in Canada,” noting it has 23 stores in Alberta and Manitoba, and predicting the company will be well-positioned for the eventual end of the supply shortage.
    Seeking Alpha

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HelloMD: The largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers
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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

www.bananabros.com

PROVINCIAL
   

ALBERTA

The potential profit in cannabis is making Alberta farmers consider shifting crops from vegetables—but cannabis can be unforgiving, and there are a variety of factors that make cannabis a hard product for vegetable farmers to adopt as their own.
Alberta Farmer

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Residents in a Vancouver condo building protested as the illicit dispensary on the building’s ground floor applied to go legit. Whether the store is illicit or legit, they want it moved somewhere else.
Vancouver Sun

British Columbia will open 12 more provincially run cannabis stores in smaller communities around the province by late summer.
Vancouver Sun

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

Part of the reason the illicit market is so strong in BC is that unlicensed dispensaries are often better set up to serve low-income and homeless customers with portions of single grams and cheap pre-rolled joints (roughly $2, rather than closer to $6 for legal pre-rolls), neither of which are available under the legal REC system
Twitter—Mike Hager

ONTARIO

Getty Images
Premier Doug Ford and his late brother Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Not all Ontario REC stores will be able to open in time. Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Ontarians would have to “wait and see” how many REC retailers are actually able to open on April 1. “We will have stores open April 1 and I know that the AGCO is continuing to work to make sure that the 25 that have been approved get their stores open in a timely manner,” Fedeli said.
CTV News, The Star

Thanks to the random selection of REC lottery winners, some of Ontario’s larger small communities have been shut out of REC retail, including Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Thunder Bay.
Windsor Star, Global News

Toronto's Health & Wellness department debuted a video of a child making art for his mom out of her tampons, with the slogan, "Kids get into everything, so always remember to keep cannabis locked up and out of reach of children." Though this is generally good advice, the content of the ad raised criticisms—both from some like GrowthOp’s Emma Spears, who suggested discomfort with tampons was misogynist, and from others who noticed the double standard implicit in the group not extending the same warnings to potentially lethal prescription drugs and alcohol.
Twitter—Rebecca Haines-Saah, GrowthOp, BlogTO

  • The Toronto Health & Wellness tells parents never to consume cannabis unless "a non-impaired adult [is] present to take care of children," because "impaired adults may miss a child's cues for hunger or comfort."
  • The Health & Wellness department's guidelines on alcohol do not contain any advice to parents, do not counsel users to lock alcohol up around children, and do not suggest parents should have a non-drinking adult present when they consume alcohol.

Some Ottawans expressed concerns about the impending opening of REC retail across the city. Ottawa REC stores, meanwhile, expect massive lineups and some are planning entertainment and games for those waiting to get inside.
CBC Ottawa

As Windsor’s automotive industry declines, many hope to find work in the burgeoning cannabis industry.
CBC Windsor

After a protracted municipal battle, the city of Hamilton finally gave in and approved the Green Organic Dutchman’s 123,000 square-foot greenhouse.
Hamilton Spectator

QUEBEC

Montreal Liquor Store, 1945

The end of cannabis prohibition in Quebec mirrors the end of alcohol prohibition, after which Quebeckers were only allowed to buy two 26-oz bottles per day, served from behind the caged-counter of government liquor-control board stores. (See image above.) It took about 70 years before the Société des Alcools du Québec began treating their product as a desirable commercial good rather than something buyers should be ashamed of.
Radio-Canada—In French

Montreal LP Great White North Growers received three Health Canada licenses—cultivation, processing, and medical sales. Quebec has far fewer LPs than other provinces with similar populations.
The Province

Two scholars—one a sociologist, the other a McGill professor of psychiatry—cautioned the CAQ government against making definitive statements about the effect of cannabis on the developing brain, as they say too little evidence exists thus far to confirm or deny the existence of those effects.
Montreal Gazette

MARITIMES

New Brunswick craft growers hope they can make a name for the region as a hotbed of “artisanal” small-batch cannabis.
CBC New Brunswick

PRAIRIES

Manitoba complained it needed more supply if it wanted to beat the illicit market, though Health Canada claimed—again—there is no supply shortage.
CBC Winnipeg

Manitoba is following Ontario’s lead in finding REC operators for stores in the seven rural towns the province identified as needing licensed cannabis retailers: it will assign licenses by a random draw of names from a pool of 100 applicants that pre-qualified last year.
Winnipeg Free Press

  • Children like to imitate the actions of adults.” While the SKI does offer a page on alcohol and FASD, it begins by acknowledging “Most Canadians drink alcohol,” and its Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines refer only to the safety of the drinker, and does not discourage parents from drinking in front of children.
    Saskatchewan Prevention Institute

THE NORTH

An editorial in the Nunavut News called for more competition in the cannabis available to Nunavummiut, who until recently could only buy online from Tweed. A second online company, Agmedica, recently joined the market, but many want to buy from physical stores. It will be a while before Nunavut sees physical REC retailers, however. Nunavut finance minister George Hickes said he did not know when REC retail will begin in the territory.
Nunavut News

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