The Week in Weed – Feb 25, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

This week on StratCann, we shared new figures from Stats Canada showing Canadians purchased $4 billion worth of cannabis in 2021. Federal and provincial governments earned $15.2 billion from the control and sale of alcohol in the same time frame.

We also shared stories published on sales data from Nova Scotia and Quebec, a piece about Ghost Drops ditching retail in favour of a processing facility, and more in-depth coverage of a brewing class action against Canadian banks

There was a lot going on elsewhere, too, as we’ll cover in our roundup of the week in weed. 

First, the numbers: last year was a big year for cannabis sales, which grew nearly 18 percent nation-wide, according to data released this week by Statistics Canada. MJBiz and Postmedia’s The Growth Op also covered these new numbers.

But despite news of welcome sales growth, many are still asking where the industry is headed. The Globe and Mail published an in-depth feature by Vanmala Subramaniam, reporting from Smiths Falls, ON, looking at how the town is reacting to Canopy Growth’s impending facility closure. It included comments from local Tory MP Scott Reid, who floated the idea of a new cannabis company stepping in to take over the former Hershey plant. 

In Calgary, the Herald ran a story on the record number of retail license cancellations—68 in 2022, versus 19 in 2021. Reporter Bill Kaufmann spoke to a few retailers who spoke about the effect of kickbacks, direct delivery bans, taxes, and a “five-year race to the bottom,” according to one shop owner.

Cannabis producers are still weighing how to respond to margin cuts at the OCS wholesaler, The Canadian Press reports. The move is expected to put $35 million back into the industry this year, and companies like Canopy Growth are now weighing how much, if any, of those savings should be passed on to consumers. 

The head of the OCS still sees a lot of room for growth and competition in the cannabis market despite rising retail closures. In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, OCS president David Lobo said that new municipal markets and a still-growing retail segment make for a strong industry outlook. 

Curiously, Lobo also said in the interview that he’s expecting “regulations that forbid cannabis-infused beverages from being sold in bars or restaurants to evolve.” Something to keep an eye on, in light of our own recent coverage of the consumption lounge question (although probably nothing anytime soon).

Speaking of consumption lounges, some good news: the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has found a new home, says founder Ted Smith. The unlicensed medical dispensary and smoking lounge was facing an eviction from their previous location and is now moving “a few blocks away.” Unlicensed though it may be, it’s nice to see a plucky institution from Canadian cannabis history finding a way to keep on going.

You know who’s not happy about the state of cannabis? Local anti-cannabis crusader Debra Ann D’Alessio of the Cornwall Standard-Freeholders’ community editorial board—that’s who. Legalization? A disaster! “Almost daily I pass by pot users on the street, scenting the sweet smoke of cannabis. Sometimes I get to smell it in a nearby backyard,” she writes. “I shake my head because cannabis is here to stay in Canada. There are too many people making money.” Damn that sweet smell and the livelihoods it sustains.

In light of major layoff announcements in recent weeks and months, MJBizDaily’s Kate Robertson looked at whether such cost-cutting measures (both in Canada and the US) will actually help the cannabis industry or not

Is there an election in the air? Do you want some political punditry with your pot? Over at The Hub, former advisor to UK PM Boris Johnson, Blair Gibbs wrote an op-ed this week looking at how Pierre Poilievre could craft a message around cannabis legalization

Canadian veterans and their families want to see more research on medical cannabis and the mental health challenges that veterans commonly encounter. A new report by the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families and the Mental Health Commission of Canada suggests that, as veterans are one of the most consistent groups using medical cannabis, more research should go into long-term effects. 

Ontario producer Phoena announced on Friday that CEO Greg Guyatt was resigning and being replaced by Corné Melissen as Interim CEO.

And finally, to send you off into the weekend (and possibly into the next dimension), Tilray-produced brand Good Supply just announced the release of a new infused pre-roll that they’re calling MONSTERS: a 2.38g joint, infused with BHO, coated in extract, and dipped in kief. According to the company, it is the strongest pre-roll in the country, containing 1,000mg of THC.

Happy Weekend!