The Week in Weed – Feb 11, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

On top of stories we covered on data scraping practices in Ontario, coverage of a new survey from the Canadian Cannabis Exchange, a lawsuit targeting Canadian banks for unfair treatment of cannabis businesses, and two recalls from Peace Naturals, a bombshell announcement was the talk of the cannabis industry this week when Canopy Growth disclosed the planned closure of its flagship in Smiths Falls with layoffs for 35 percent of the company’s workforce (covered in Stratcann here). 

In addition to this release, many outlets ran follow-up stories asking what the announcement might indicate about the health of the cannabis industry as a whole.  Ever the press darling, former CEO Bruce Linton surfaced in an interview on CityNews Ottawa’s The Sam Lamprade Show with some barely-veiled commentary on the post-Bruce era at Canopy. CTV ran a story that highlighted troubles with high taxes, with Canopy Growth CEO David Klein also blaming the illicit market. 

The Globe and Mail covered a Supreme Court decision that ruled that the location data of large medical cannabis growers is protected by privacy laws. The case had actually been brought on behalf of a Globe and Mail reporter who was seeking access to names and personal addresses of “individual people who were licensed to grow and possess industrial quantities of cannabis.” 

At least one of those grows is in Huron County, where this week the Wingham Advance Times reported that municipal officials are calling on the feds to make changes to the Cannabis Act that would require greater setbacks from neighbouring properties as well as asking for more municipal controls over where medical growers are allowed to set up shop. (The article also ran unpaywalled on Yahoo Canada.)

Also in the Globe this week was a brief data analysis looking at the halted expansion of Ontario’s retail cannabis sector. It noted that January was the first month where not a single new store opened its doors, concluding that “a reckoning may be coming.” 

The Canadian Press reported on Friday that Aurora Cannabis had completed a planned transformation, resulting in $340 million in annual savings…but added that they still ended the year with a $67 million quarterly loss. The transformation was supposed to be EBITA+ by the end of 2022.

BarrieToday covered a decision by the Ontario Land Tribunal that struck down Oro-Medonte Township’s proposed bylaw restricting cannabis production facilities in the area. The judge ruled that restricting cannabis operations did not meet the province’s goal of promoting agriculture and development. 

Following Stratcann’s coverage of the issue, MJBizDaily took its own look at the prospect of cannabis consumption lounges. Notably, it took a look at a different loophole being exploited: that of sensory testing labs functioning as quasi-consumption spaces. 

A lawsuit being brought by shareholders against HEXO and its former CEO, Sebastian St. Louis, has been dismissed by a Quebec Superior Court. Shareholders alleged that the company had misled investors between April 2018 and March 2020. 

Public retailer Cannabis NB posted strong sales numbers in their latest quarterly update. Sales in Q3 (October 3, 2022 to January 1, 2023) were up five percent to $21.6 million, while net income jumped by 21.5 percent to $4.8 million. 

The Growth Op had an interview out on Friday with Derrick Berney, CEO of Cannabis Wiki, who are set to put on their second edition of the Cannabis Wiki Expo in London, Ont. this June. More interesting is Berney’s take on southwestern Ontario, considered by many to be the ‘cannabis belt’, being an “underserved” market. 

Award-winning retail chain Superette have been saved from bankruptcy, with their assets being bought by SNDL as part of the chain’s CCAA proceedings. Superette spent much of 2022 in financial turmoil after buying Cannoe and Dimes Cannabis… which promptly went bankrupt by May 2022. 

In BC, the District of Lake Country is one of dozens of creditors owed millions in unpaid bills and borrowing by The Flowr Corporation.

And lastly, an Ontario tribunal ruled that the AGCO unfairly prevented Jodie Giesz-Ramsay (Formerly Emery) from refusing to issue a cannabis retail manager licence and directed the Registrar to issue a cannabis retail manager licence to the appellant without conditions.