The Week in Weed – December 3, 2022

| Kieran Delamont

This week on Stratcann, we covered the big goings-on of Canadian cannabis—the much-awaited opening of farmgate applications in BC, the move by Manitoba regulators to repeal the 6 percent social responsibility fee for retailers, and tax confusion around cannabis nurseries, but that wasn’t all—here’s what else was going on.

The Cannabis Council of Canada (C3) has called on the federal government to provide “immediate financial relief” for the legal cannabis industry and end the “stigmatization” of legal cannabis that allegedly limits progress on the key public health aims of legalization. Meanwhile, The Royal Gazette explored the balance Health Canada must take between industry and public health.

If you’re looking for the alternative philosophy, the Green Party of Canada have chimed in as well (not that they hold much sway over the industry or Health Canada, mind you…) with some interesting recommendations, including limiting the sale of products with more than 10% THC to people over 25 years old and even stricter packaging recommendations. 

More likely to be taken seriously, however, are their calls for increased mental health funding for youth, which one imagines might likely be a trade-off for any regulatory relaxations coming out of the review.

On the subject of industry woes, Business Insider published a report looking at how large Canadian pubcos are trending away from cannabis and towards non-cannabis beverages in an article bluntly titled: “The world’s largest cannabis companies are gobbling up beer brands and striking deals with top athletes to hawk energy drinks because they’re struggling to profit off pot.

Uncharitable title? Perhaps. But it quotes investment analysts describing Canopy Growth’s core cannabis business as “a sideshow” and highlights Tilray’s efforts to rebrand from a cannabis company to “a global consumer packaged goods company.” All in all, it paints a picture of something we’ve known up here for a while: those big names from 2018 are no longer the main characters of Canadian cannabis. 

But they’re not out just yet: Canopy Growth announced a corporate shake-up this week. They’ll be breaking out their Canadian cannabis operations into a stand-alone business unit, while laying off 55 staff, reports The Canadian Press. They’re also bringing in Dave Patterson to serve as president. Patterson is the former chief commercial officer of Indiva, who has had a lot of success in the edibles category that the folks at Canopy likely hope can be replicated. Details of the layoffs were not released. 

Over at MJBiz Daily, Solomon Israel covered the state of Canada’s “shrinking medical cannabis market,” asking if it offers lessons to other countries—namely Germany—who are looking to launch their own recreational cannabis markets. He spoke with Brett Zettle of Zyus Life Sciences and Deepak Anand of Medical Cannabis Canada, who offered their thoughts on ways to protect the medical market from being cannibalized by the recreational one.

Staying on the European continent for a moment, a Swiss legal cannabis pilot has encountered a snag—their domestically produced product keeps failing pesticide tests, and the program is now looking to Canadian exports to keep the pilot going. 

As it more closely targets value consumers (with new brand launches we mentioned last week), New Brunswick’s Organigram saw a tidy spike in revenues in the most recent quarter, reports MJ Biz Daily: a 19 percent quarterly increase to $45.5 million for the quarter and $145.8 million for the year, with the latter representing an 84 percent growth in sales. While the bulk of their business remains recreational flower, the biggest growth came in their international exports and recreational extracts, each recording more than 1,000 percent growth for the quarter.

And finally, in retail news, the Canna Cabana retail chain is moving to monetize its existing loyalty program with the launch of Cabana Elite—a $5 per month membership that builds on their Costco-esque Cabana Club membership program, launched about a year ago. The upgraded tier offers 50 percent off delivery, discounts on house brand merch, flash sales, and partnership deals. Canna Cabana’s parent company High Tide was recently named Canada’s top revenue-generating cannabis company by New Cannabis Ventures, and this move looks to capitalize on clear momentum for the company.