This past week on StratCann, we covered Surrey city council’s new proposal for the city to regulate cannabis stores, and that Council sent the report back to staff to make changes before it would consider it further. We also covered Aurora closing its sale on a former cannabis greenhouse, Vancouver’s High Hopes launching a cannabis substitution project, and another look at how the media continues to misreport issues relating to hospitalizations from edibles.
Outside of StratCann’s coverage, the big news this week was the Canadian Press story on the BC Supreme Court approving a cannabis ‘fire sale’ as Tantalus Labs entered bankruptcy, with the CRA stayed from taking any actions against Tantalus with respect to cannabis stamps and cannabis inventory. Court documents show Tantalus with more than $14 million in debt to creditors and other companies, including $4 million to the CRA.
The Tyee uncovered an auditors’ report from 2022 that says BC’s provincial agency responsible for ensuring that licensed cannabis retail stores follow the law is understaffed and lacks key tools. The 26-page report, Compliance and Enforcement of Cannabis Retail Stores, made 14 recommendations that the in-house government auditors said would improve the program and make it more efficient and effective.
Some cannabis retailers in Saskatchewan expressed frustration at competing with what they say are unregulated cannabis retailers selling unregulated products on First Nations land in the province, including one store that made headlines recently. Local First Nations store owners say they are governed by their own regulations.
Natoaganeg First Nation in New Brunswick announced a new therapy program run by the Gitpo Spirit Lodge, which has received $1.2 million from Health Canada for two years. Dr. Shelley Turner, a member of Pimicikamak First Nation in Manitoba and an expert in medical cannabis, will educate healthcare providers on the use of medical cannabis for this therapy, also called cannabinoid therapy. CBC reports that in Turner’s practice, she starts patients on THC and CBD in one-milligram increments.
A new research paper out of Ontario says there is an association between non-medical cannabis legalization and emergency department visits for cannabis-induced psychosis. The article attributes this increase to something it calls “cannabis commercialization.” While the abstract doesn’t note why they chose this start date, the timing correlates with when edibles became more common in both the legal and illicit markets (March 2020–September 2021). Increases were seen only for those above the legal age of purchase.
In financial news, Tilray released their Q4 financials, showing a net revenue increase of 20 percent, and a net loss of USD$120 million in the fourth quarter compared to the net loss of the prior year quarter. Cannabis gross margin for Tilray increased to 61 percent in the quarter from -36 percent in the previous year’s quarter, which the company attributes to contributions from the HEXO arrangement. Tilray says its market share in Canada is about 13 percent.
On the other hand, Quebec-based producer Cannara Biotech reported Q3 2023 net revenue of $15.9 million and $39.3 million for the first nine months of 2023, a 57 percent and 63 percent increase respectively, compared to the three and nine-month period in 2022. Cannara sells under the brands Tribal, Nugz, and Orchid CBD. The company primarily sells in Quebec but has products in BC, Ontario, and Alberta.
Meanwhile, The Deep Dive had fun swimming amongst the schadenfreude that is the collapse of the once-mighty Canopy Growth—a fun read for anyone who has followed the highs and lows of this sector.
In cannabis banking news, Turtle Island News reported that the Six Nations Cannabis Commission (SNCC) has been unable to find a bank willing to work with them. The SNCC has licensed three retail stores within its territory. The regulator issued its first production licence to Bloom Cannabis last year.
“I’ve met with every bank across Canada, including credit unions,” said Kathy Mair, the Six Nations Cannabis Commission’s (SNCC) chief commissioner. “Everybody takes me along, and everybody says they can help, and then something comes up, and they can’t. Nobody is willing to go against the banking charter.”
A new medical cannabis access platform, MyMedi.ca, announced its initial product offering on its website, launching on August 1, with more than 30 brands. MyMedi says it’s providing “continuity of care” for Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart patients following a partnership between Avicanna and Shoppers Drug Mart signed in March.
GrowerIQ, a seed-to-sale tracking system based in Canada, announced it was partnering with the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority (BMCLA), the island’s regulatory body for the medicinal cannabis industry, to manage tracking and reporting of all cannabis production there for the next five years.
Big news in the US this week, Mastercard told financial payment companies they must stop allowing US customers to buy cannabis with its debit cards. Mastercard said the move comes after it found some stores accepted debit payments despite the federal ban.
Uruguay has sold more than 10 million grams of cannabis in the six years when first legalized. Authorized pharmacies in Uruguay have sold 10,693,210 grams between July 19, 2017, and July 19, 2023, according to the IRCCA, the agency that oversees both medical and adult-use cannabis. People can buy three different types of cannabis in the country, with varying amounts of THC and CBD, with the highest level of THC at 15 percent—not much below the averages shown by analytical testing of supplies in the US and Canada.
As of February in Uruguay, 5 grams of legal cannabis from a pharmacy costs approximately $400-450, or about $15 Canadian. There is a 10-gram per week purchasing limit, with three exclusive modes of access that someone must choose: buying through a pharmacy, growing at home, or growing as part of a cooperative.