The Week in Weed – Feb 18, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

Over the past week in weed, StratCann brought you coverage of the OCS’ announcement of their move to a fixed markup model later this year, an op-ed by head of Cannabis NB Lori Stickles, concern among advocates about a failed promise of a review of the medical cannabis system, and the news that Sundial Cannabis was laying off around 85 employees

What else was happening this week in Canadian cannabis? 

The big story that had many news outlets talking came from Parliament Hill this week, where executives from some of the big cannabis companies (and at least one craft grower) held a joint press conference calling on the federal government to lower their tax burden and loosen the regulatory regime, which they say has the industry in “peril.” The press conference featured comments from Pure Sunfarms’ Mandesh Dosanjh, Crystal Cure’s Jonathan Wilson, and C3’s George Smitherman, who warned that mass layoffs like those seen at Canopy could continue. 

Layoffs were also (belatedly) announced at Aleafia Health this week, who announced that they had cut 20 percent of their full-time staff in December—around forty positions. 

In the Ottawa Business Journal this week, Rob Thomas brought us a profile of two former Canopy Growth employees who founded Hi Five Sensory, a sensory testing operation. The pair see sensory testing as a growth opportunity as many big producers are cutting in-house testing as they look to trim costs. 

All of this business turbulence comes in the context of wider market pricing shifts, and one of the biggest is the overall decline in the price of wholesale flower—which was down 40 percent in 2022, reports MJBizDaily. The per-gram cost of bulk flower fell to $1.06 CAD last year, the lowest it has ever been, as sellers shift to sell off their large inventories. 

The Winnipeg Free Press covered news that Delta9, Manitoba’s largest cannabis company, has now entered the export market after exporting around 100 kilos of cannabis into Australia. According to company CEO John Arbuthnot, producers can fetch between three to four times the wholesale price by exporting to markets like Australia, Germany, and Israel. 

A market that a couple of Canadian LPs have been making moves into lately is the American beer market, and this week booze industry news outlet VinePair took a look at how the two markets—cannabis and alcohol—are interacting and how brewers are reacting. The coverage sprang from the somewhat surprising finding from the U.S. late last year that alcohol and cannabis had “a complementary relationship…not a substitutive one that some brewers have been bracing for.” 

After Oro-Medonte Township’s bylaw restricting cannabis production was shot down—a story we mentioned in last week’s news roundup—the town is now digging its heels in, and CTV covered a move by CIty Hall to appeal that decision. The town’s mayor and a community coalition are sticking to their fight to see producers better manage odours.

With so many stores now operating, it’s easy to forget that some parts of Ontario are still retail-cannabis-free. In Fergus, ON, one man is trying to get Centre Wellington’s council to reverse their 2018 decision to opt-out of cannabis retail, CTV reports

Retail chain High Tide have parted ways with its CFO, the company announced this week. In the same announcement, they said that they were refiling two years’ worth of financial results, citing “typing errors” in the numbers. The statement did not make clear whether the two things were related in any way.

Researchers from the Université Laval announced that they were launching a large-scale study on cannabis use during pregnancy. Researchers want to “fill in the gaps” in knowledge around cannabis and pregnancy, and are working with a $2.3 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to do it. 

And finally, in fun news, a weed-dispensing vending machine developed by Ontario’s BMC Universal Technologies is making its debut—albeit in Colorado, not here at home. The vending machine is now in use outside an Aurora, Colorado dispensary, and was a huge hit when it premiered at MJBizCon last fall.