Week in Weed – April 8 , 2023

| Kieran Delamont

This week at Stratcann we covered a new report outlining some of the ways that Canada’s medical cannabis system is struggling, ranging from access issues to high costs to a lack of insurance coverage—issues that are pushing many medical patients into the recreational system instead.

We also covered new stats looking at how different generations are positioned in the legal market, a piece from Stratcann’s Tim Wilson on the tepid start to 2023 for the industry, and new rules BC is implementing to target illicit cannabis growers

In other industry news, a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto looked at second-hand THC inhalation, finding that indoor second-hand cannabis smoke can lead to THC levels in the body that temporarily exceed the federal legal limits for driving. The researchers also claim to have developed more accurate modeling to help predict how THC molecules behave in an indoor setting. 

Police in London, ON have had to call in reinforcements to help them probe and dismantle an illegal cannabis extraction lab found in a “posh south London home” this week. Police are describing the facility as “complex,” and were still working on dismantling the operation days after arresting one man in connection with it. 

Two Canadian cannabis companies, SNDL and Nova, are amending a deal (announced in December) that would originally see SNDL transfer 26 retail stores to Nova Cannabis. The agreement will now include 31 stores being acquired by Nova, and also restructured certain financial aspects of the transaction. 

Nova Cannabis announced its upcoming launch of Firesale Cannabis, a discount retail chain concept. Discount retail brands are nothing new, but interestingly, the company is describing the concept as a way to deal with “excess inventories” within the cannabis supply chain, sold at “outrageous discounts”—something resembling a factory liquidation store, but for Canadian cannabis products. The first store opened in Calgary this week, and the company says they have plans to expand into Ontario as well.

After industry stakeholders gathered last week to discuss the possibility of introducing cannabis retail to Surrey, BC, mayor Brenda Locke told the CBC that city staff were drawing up a proposal for council’s consideration—an announcement applauded by a few retail stakeholders. Lock shared similar comments with StratCann last month

On the other side of the country, a similar push to get Mississauga, ON to finally allow cannabis stores is tantalizingly close to the finish line, with a vote on lifting the ban heading to council on April 12. 

British Columbia recently announced a carbon tax rebate program for greenhouse operators—but cannabis companies are being excluded from the rebate, the province says.  

Canadabis Capital, who own the Stigma Grow brand as well as the processor Full Spectrum Labs, the retail store INDICAtive Collection, and 95 percent of Goldstream Cannabis, reported a 373 percent growth in income for Q2 ‘23. Their net income reported was $1.3 million on $9.6 million in quarterly revenue. 

An article in The Hill Times looked into the issue of federal cannabis excise taxes, speaking with Mercari’s Lisa Campbell, as well as Mercari clients like BC’s Weathered Islands Craft Cannabis and Newfoundland’s Atlantic Cultivation.

In international news, the German push to legalize recreational cannabis already seems to be pivoting a bit. Reports came out this week that the country was considering a smaller, more localized pilot project for legal weed rather than the full national legalization scheme in order to avoid potential conflicts with European lawmakers. 

And finally, your favourite NBA players might finally be allowed to spark up. A report from The Athletic suggested that cannabis will be removed from the drug testing rules in the collective bargaining agreement. 

More lucratively for those players, it also appears set to allow them to strike endorsement deals with cannabis and sports betting companies. Pro sports leagues have been dragging their feet for some time on cannabis legalization, with many players and fans critical of the leagues’ conservative attitudes toward cannabis, so it’s good to finally see some progress being made.