While the big ticket item to get people talking in Canadian cannabis is likely the announcement of the legislative review panel members, that’s far from the only thing going on this week in the industry. We can’t cover everything, so we also toured the news to catch you up on the latest in Canadian cannabis.
Canadian investors have lost a cumulative $131 billion on the cannabis stock market, according to law firm Miller Thomson, a calculation based on the performance of 183 publicly traded LPs. It’s estimated that there are 3 million active investors in the space, and the figure is prompting calls from some for the government to take regulatory reform more seriously. “It’s an industry that has been created by the Canadian government and, frankly, set up to fail,” Miller Thomson lawyer Larry Ellis told CTV News.
Among the changes the industry would like to see is a loosening of marketing restrictions, the Cannabis Council of Canada said this week in a submission to the legislative review. They don’t seem to be calling for a marketing free for all—rather, regulations that “allow cannabis companies and cannabis retailers to provide consumers with evidence-based information about the effects of cannabis products and the harm reduction benefits of lower THC flower and non-combustible product formats.”
And to round out a trio of news items about reform, Indigenous cannabis leaders who gathered in Vernon, B.C. over the weekend at the first annual Cannabis Harvest Gathering and Potlach are urging the government to grant more autonomy to the Indigenous cannabis industry, reports Vernon Matters. As we reported last week in a story on dispensary raids in Nova Scotia, the issue of sovereignty and cannabis between Indigenous peoples and the feds continues to percolate slowly, with no clear resolution in sight.
Highlighting the ongoing issues Canadians face when entering the US, a BC man faces a lifetime ban from entering the U.S. after border agents found a forgotten bottle of CBD oil in his car. In their coverage, CBC noted that many Canadian residents have found themselves facing similar bans. Just a few weeks ago, a woman who’d changed her name post-divorce found that doing so rendered her unable to cross the border due to a joint she got caught rolling – in the 1980s!
Cash-conscious consumers will have a new brand option as Organigram announced the launch of its new value brand Holy Mountain this week. The lineup will launch with two strains of dried flower as well as a pressed hash product produced at their Quebec facility. The value categories have done well for Organigram lately, with their Shred brand leading in the pre-milled category, and their Big Bag ‘o Buds lineup a best-seller in the 28g category, so it’s not entirely surprising to see them targeting this end of the market.
More options in the value category might be welcome news and help boost stagnant sales as Canadian households feel the pinch. Stats Canada’s monthly figures show cannabis sales from August to September were flat, with no month-to-month increases. Although three of the largest markets—BC, Alberta, and Ontario—saw modest sales increases from August to September, this was offset by declines in other provinces.
Manitoba also looks to be introducing legislation to repeal its social responsibility fee. The social responsibility fee (SRF) is a 6% regulatory fee paid by Manitoba cannabis retailers to “ensure they share in the social responsibility costs of cannabis legalization.”
In corporate news, the producer formerly known as WeedMD (now Entourage Health) is closing down its cultivation operation in Strathroy, Ont., laying off more than a third of its staff and sourcing all its product going forward from Hexo, reports MJBizDaily.
Over the last two years, there’ve been a lot of shakeups at the top of the company, and earlier this year, three leaders at the company were flagged for insider trading. But they’ve still got resources: just a few weeks ago the company was celebrating another $30 million loan from the LiUNA Pension Fund.
And finally, the US arm of Hexo’s canna-beverage joint venture with Molson Coors, Truss USA, announced this week that it was winding down operations, citing uncertainty over federal legalization and apprehension among retailers to stock their CBD products, reports Beverage Daily.
“There remains no near-term pathway to federal legalization, leaving uncertainty in the market,” the company said. North of the 49th parallel, Truss’ Canadian operations will remain unchanged, and the company has pointed to slow-but-steady growth in the beverages category as a bright spot.
~Kieran Delamont. Kieran is a writer and photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has written on the cannabis industry for The Walrus, This Magazine, The Outline, Leafly and others.