The Week in Weed – January 21, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

It was a relatively quiet week in cannabis this week, and here at Stratcann we covered: changes at the CRA that will make intra-provincial B2B cannabis sales easier, a new report prepared for Health Canada looking at access to medical cannabis, and an Ontario Cannabis Store bug in the new flow-through ordering system that gave some retailers early access to new SKUs.

We also shared news that Vancouver’s famous Sunset Beach 4/20 celebrations might be back on and under new management, issues with odour complaints at a BC indoor facility, and a new study from Oregon that says aroma, not THC, is the main driver of quality.  

Industry trade shows always have a bit of a jubilant, celebratory air to them, but this year’s Lift Cannabis Expo in Vancouver (held last weekend) saw producers urging reform to taxation, reported Business in Vancouver. Check it out for some data from C3’s George Smitherman and Tantalus Labs’ Dan Sutton, who are leading the charge for tax reform. High Times also gave the Vancouver Lift Expo some attention. 

The Toronto Sun made flashy headlines this week characterizing a report from FINTRAC that was released last September as if it was new information. The prohibitionist paper made the (slightly dramatic) claim that “drug dealers still control 33 percent of the cannabis market.” The flip side of that stat is that the legal market accounts for around 2/3rds of all sales, reflecting the industry’s steady progress in displacing the illicit market.

In BC, Prince George-Mackenize Liberal MLA Mike Morris spoke with Vista Radio about this, saying that it remains a problem in his riding. He’s calling for stepped-up enforcement against illegal stores, including those in First Nations communities.

Mississauga-based publication, The Pointer, reported this week that the city’s Board of Trade is urging council to drop their existing ban on retail stores. Mississauga is likely the biggest municipality to have opted out of cannabis retail, but Mayor Bonnie Crombie and the city’s economic development community seem keen to finally change that. 

Marketing industry trade publication, Strategy, was looking at the evolution of marketing strategies in the cannabis industry, with contributions from marketing professionals Paul Lawton of Sister Merci, Rebecca Brown of Crowns, and Dave Bigioni from Brave Strategy. All three offered interesting insights into how their work has developed and changed over the first four years of legalization. 

Inflation and the cost of living might be factors for a decline in cannabis sales last month, as consumer spending declines across the board. Cannabis sales declined by 4.3 percent in December, with total sales of around $373 million.  

Nunavut’s NNSL Media published an interview with Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson this week, who was calling for more education and addictions treatment in the territory (particularly for Indigenous residents) while acknowledging that he thinks cannabis has been handled “fairly responsibly” in the north. 

Layoffs at Canadian cannabis companies are moving beyond our own borders, with Tilray announcing a 25 percent reduction of the workforce at their Portugal facility, affecting 49 employees, MJBizDaily reported. Following its merger with Aphria, Tilray had two European facilities, both intending to serve the German market. The move is being described by the company as a “rightsizing.”

A former WeedMD employee and a former mutual fund dealer in London, ON, were fined a total of $75,000 for their parts in an insider trading scheme, the London Free Press reported this week. The pair were accused of tipping off clients to the company’s purchase of a greenhouse before that information was made public. 

Retail sales in cannabis stores in Canada in November were up 13% from last year, but down 4.9% from the previous month.

And lastly, a study from the University at Buffalo compared cannabis marketing policies in Canada and among U.S. states and found US marketing policies regulating cannabis advertising and marketing severely lacking compared to Canada.