The Week in Weed – May 6, 2023

| Kieran Delamont

This week on Stratcann we covered some questions from the Manitoba NDP’s finance critic, who wonders where all the legalization-related revenues went (as the government seems unable to tell him), shared our exclusive inside tour of the OCS DC, reported on Health Canada’s extension of some COVID-19 measures, as well as challenges producers are having selling into Alberta, news that the Victoria Cannabis Buyers’ Club will be suing the government, as is an Indigenous retail store owner, and BC’s search for a good weed photographer. Elsewhere in the Canadian cannabis industry world of weed…  

Cannabis bought in Madawaska First Nation will soon be subject to its own sovereign tax scheme, the band government announced this week. The move comes after the Blaine Higgs government pulled out of tax-sharing agreements with Wolastoqey First Nations groups in the province in 2021; in response, the band is levying its own taxes on tobacco and cannabis, which they say will be about half of what you’d pay off-reserve. Madawaska First Nation is currently home to at least a few retail stores, although one shared with StratCann on Facebook that they do not charge a sales tax. 

The first handful of applications for retail stores in Mississauga is starting to roll in, and as Global News reports, the first horse out of the gate is Pop’s Cannabis, who have applications in for two stores and are preparing a third. “I think we’re better now than where we were (in 2018),” said Pop’s president Ryan Dymond. We know how to sort of resonate with the communities; we understand the stigmas.”

Just down the highway, Brampton city councillors want a bit more control over retail in the city, reports the Brampton Guardian. Coun. Michael Palleschi said that the council’s decision to allow stores back in 2018 was made under the (slightly bizarre) assumption that cannabis legalization “wasn’t going to be a huge thing.” It’s the usual issues, of course: too many stores, too close to schools, et cetera, et cetera. 

Entourage Health, formerly WeedMD, reported a $123-million loss for 2022, and expressed concern that they may eventually run out of cash to burn, reports MJBiz Daily. Likely of significant concern are their revenue numbers: the company only sold $54.5 million in that year, substantially lower than its costs. 

An employee of a large illegal grow-op was handed a suspended sentence of two years probation and 240 hours of community service by a St. Catharines, ON judge, the St. Catharines Standard reports. The 54-year-old woman was charged after police seized around $16 million worth of cannabis and cash; her lawyer contends that she was a mere “gardener” in the operation, not one of the masterminds. 

A West Vancouver man was also given two years probation after police caught him acting as a delivery driver for Stöni, a black-market cannabis delivery operation operating in Vancouver and Winnipeg. He was represented by cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd, who described him as a small player in a larger operation. “My guy is in a broken-down Toyota delivering stuff when he gets told to deliver it,” he said. The man has since started working as a delivery driver for a legal retailer. 

The BC government is seeking to have a Denman Island home they say was connected to illicit cannabis products to be forfeited as proceeds of crime.

Some attendees of the Vancouver 420 rally this year say they feel misled by event organizers, with many wanting their money back. 

In Quebec, La Presse reported on police frustration with illicit operators utilizing medical cannabis authorizations to sell into the black market. Six suspects are the subject of targeted warrants: police alleged that they used at least 22 certificates of authorization to produce cannabis for medical and personal purposes issued by Health Canada and used them to cultivate cannabis on a large scale for the purpose of exporting it to the United States. 

CBC Manitoba published a story this week including comments from several independent retailers in the Prairie province who say they are struggling under the weight of high fees and long delivery times. The article included comments from Mistik Cannabis Co. co-owner Melanie Bekevich, Jupiter Cannabis owner Tom Doran, and John Arbuthnot, CEO of Delta9, all of whom have areas they’d like to see provincial action on. 

The Mantioba NDP say they want to look at allowing public cannabis consumption in the province. The PC government says they would impose such a measure. “It might be normalized, but it’s still not legal in public places. So that will still be enforced. That’s not part of this,” said Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Minister Lori Carr. 

Retailers in Ontario continue to petition the province to ease up on their window display restrictions, with comments from Hempire House co-owner Sharlene Locha, Shane Clarke, owner of Smokey Daze, and a spokesperson for the AGCO.

Saskatchewan’s Weed Pool announced they have set up shop now in BC. The company will seek to be a third-party warehouse and distributor for cannabis growers and retailers in BC. 

A new study out of McGill University has provided more evidence of medical cannabis’ efficacy in treating cancer pain. Research led by Dr. Antonio Vigano found that patients using cannabis as part of their treatment tended to take fewer opioids and were better able to manage their pain. 

And finally: it’s not quite deep-fried butter at the State Fair, but it might be close. A Los Angeles restaurant, known for its experimentation with cannabis in the past, is now serving deep-fried cannabis leaves. Delish interviewed chef Michael Magliano about that dish, and others in the rapidly developing culinary cannabis world down stateside—an industry many would like to see up north, too. Happy snacking!