The Week in Weed – April 29, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

Another busy week in weed news at StratCann, with our coverage of Organigram challenging Health Canada’s ruling on edible extracts, the OCS launching a Social Impact Fund, Cannabis NB expecting the first private retail stores later this summer, some regulatory changes for retailers in BC, research into a newly identified fungus affecting cannabis roots, and our exclusive visit to the OCS distribution centre.  

Beyond that, there were several other interesting stories across Canada.

News from the North! The first commercial cannabis grown in the Northwest Territories is “weeks” away from hitting shelves, reports CBC. They spoke to the folks at Boreal Cannabis, the first licensed cannabis grower in the territory, who are bringing out their GasBanana cultivar soon. 

In New Brunswick, Huddle ran a feature on Stewart Farms’ new farmgate location, the fifth cannabis farmgate store in the Picture Province. 

Global News had coverage of last weekend’s BC Cannabis Summit, where the potential for a cannabis tourism industry was, apparently, the topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Susan Dupej, president of the Canadian Cannabis Tourism Alliance, was quoted talking up the market for cannabis-friendly tourism options. 

The First Nation Leadership Council says that the BC government must stop excluding First Nations from the benefits of the cannabis industry, and is calling for changes to the current laws, arguing they have inherent rights to oversee, process, sell, and consume cannabis within their territories.

There’s an interesting case in court in Ontario, where four Chinese-Canadian growers are facing charges under the Cannabis Act for an apparently illegal medical cannabis grow. Their lawyer says that the four “took steps they thought were needed to operate a legal marijuana grow operation.” 

Officers seized 1,654 cannabis plants, which was under the maximum 1,752 the four licence holders were allowed to grow. The licences allowed for indoor growing, and police contended the greenhouse systems being used did not constitute an indoor operation.  All four received conditional discharges. Local media reports that all four still possess medical cannabis grow licences.

“Where they failed, in this case, was in the belief that a plastic greenhouse with a steel frame constituted a permanent structure,” said a lawyer for the four. “This has been proven to be wrong. This is not a permanent structure and that is where they were in violation of the Cannabis Act.”

Two illicit stores were recently raided in Moncton NB, as well. 

Montreal police blew a lot of smoke with an announcement that they had broken up a “contraband cannabis ring” around some local high schools. Pot dealing? At a Montreal high school? This is one for the detectives at Vingt-et-un Jump Street. 

They might start dealing, legally, in Centre Wellington (a county north of Guelph, ON) soon, reports Guelph Today. A councillor in the township, Bronwynne Wilton, is putting forward a motion to reconsider their initial decision to opt-out from legal retail. “I think that residents deserve to have access to a legal and regulated substance,” said another supportive councillor. 

The Pointer also covered some local reactions to Mississauga’s recent retail rule change. 

The Victoria Times-Colonist has been producing a regular supply of reefer madness-tinged op-eds lately, including this latest one by Monique Keiran, fretting about how little we apparently knew when we legalized—though it takes a left turn seven paragraphs in, deviating into a history of drug law boondoggles stretching back to the 1800s. 

The Globe and Mail ran a similar opinion piece expressing concern about impaired drivers

A sign of the times if there ever was one, Tilray has landed itself on a list of the biggest…craft beer producers in America, reports MJBizDaily. The company went on a beer buying spree in 2020, 2021, and 2022, and it appears to have worked, landing them 9th on the Brewers’ Association list of the largest craft brewers in the United States. 

MJBizDaily also had an analysis suggesting that the size of Australia’s medical cannabis market could soon surpass the size of Canada’s. The medical market “continues to experience brisk growth in patients and sales, and experts say the market could even surpass Canada’s medical sector this year,” they write. Sounds a bit like the massive run-up seen in Canada’s market in the early days before legalization. 

And finally, Ben and Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are going green. The pair have launched Ben’s Best Blnz, “a nonprofit cannabis line with a stated mission of helping to right the wrongs of the war on drugs,” the Associated Press reports. Much to their credit, this is nothing new from Ben & Jerry’s—the company has been a long-time advocate for racial justice reform around cannabis. 

Lastly, H/T to Deepak Anand for giving us a head’s up that the Dutch Minister of Health, Ernst Kuipers, tweeted on April 22 about his recent visit to Canada to learn more about our cannabis industry and regulations. The government in the Netherlands is looking at establishing more regulations around its own quasi-legal cannabis industry.