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Simply Solventless reports seventh consecutive quarter of positive EBITDA

Simply Solventless Concentrates (SSC) brought in $502,536 in net revenue in the first three months of 2024 from gross revenue of $3.1 million and net revenue after taxes of $2.3 million.

The Alberta-based company is behind cannabis brands Astrolab, Frootyhooty and the recently acquired Lamplighter, all available in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan with infused pre-rolls and vapes. Simply Solventless acquired Lamplighter on January 17, 2024. The company is looking to enter Manitoba and hopes to enter BC soon. 

SSC says it has been experiencing rapid revenue growth, with average gross revenue of approximately $233,281 per month in 2022, around $581,117 per month in 2023, and  $1,033,334 per month in the first three months (Q1) of 2024. 

Excise tax on the $3.1 million in gross revenue for the first three months of 2024 was $823,959. The cost of goods sold in the net revenue of $2.3 million was nearly $1.2 million for a gross profit of $1.1 million. Adjusted EBITDA for Q1 2024 was $611,571. The company has reported positive adjusted EBITDA for the past seven quarters. 

This represents an increase in gross and net revenue for the company compared to Q1 2023. However, the company reported lower gross profit and net income than in the same period, as excise taxes were not listed as remitted in Q1 2023.

Net and comprehensive income was $502,536 in Q1 2024, compared to $758,828 in Q1 2023 and a loss of $1 million in Q3 2023. 

Salaries and wages also increased significantly in the most recent quarter (246%) compared to the similar period of 2023 due to a higher number of employees in sales and management roles.

SSC lists $9.5 million in raw material and processed intermediates in its inventory as of March 31, 2024, compared to $7.7 million as of December 31, 2023. The company says this increase is due to its acquisition of Lamplighter and in preparation for increased sales volumes.

As of March 31, 2024, SSC had a working capital surplus of $4.3 million, up from $3.7 million as of  December 31, 2023. 

“What we want to do is we want to bring solventless products to larger markets. And the largest markets in cannabis right now are infused pre rolls, vapes, and its predominantly flavoured distillate.”


Week in Weed – May 25, 2024

This week, we reported on the AGLC delisting more than 500 cannabis SKUs and new legislation passed in New Brunswick that gives inspectors more power to deal with over 100 illegal cannabis stores in the province (as well as two recent raids in the province).

We also looked into one of the bigger stories in the mainstream media, showing that senior Canadians have been increasingly ending up in the ER due to cannabis use. While much of the mainstream media spun this as being because of legalization, the numbers show this was increasing in the years leading up to legalization and has actually declined somewhat in the most recent years of data.

We also looked at Indiva’s newest quarterly report for Q1 2024 and took a deep dive into what it would look like to move the cannabis file from Health Canada to Agriculture.

In other cannabis news

A final application to open a cannabis retail store in Delta, BC, will be heard at a public hearing next week. If green-lighted, the store would be the ninth approved by council, but also likely the last as a city moratorium continues on accepting and considering any new applications.

Cannabis workers at the Friendly Stranger in Dundas, ON, have voted in favour of joining UFCW Local 175.

SNDL says Delta 9 is in default of certain obligations. Delta 9 disagrees. SNDL is demanding repayment of its 10% senior secured second-lien convertible debenture in the principal amount of $10 million. Frederico Gomes, an analyst with ATB Capital Markets tells the Winnipeg Free Press that there are financial terms on such convertible debentures that typically include covenants that the company maintains a certain ratio between debt to EBITDA or a minimum cash balance. 

New research from the International Journal of Drug Policy took a deep dive into “Canadian THC units” and the public health benefits of other jurisdictions adopting a similar approach.

The Canadian Cannabis Tourism Alliance released its plan to make Canada the cannabis tourism capital of the world.

Cult MTL reviewed 1964’s infused poutine from the SQDC.

Researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the University of Toronto, and ICES linked recent population-based survey data from over 11,000 youth in Ontario, Canada, to health service use records, including hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and outpatient visits, showing that teens using cannabis are at 11 times higher risk of developing a psychotic disorder compared to teens not using cannabis. 

Blacklock’s Reporter says in-house Department of Public Safety research shows that one-third of cannabis users are still utilizing the illicit market. This isn’t really new information to anyone following the sector, although Blackrock and other media outlets have pointedly framed this as if it shows that legalization has failed. 

Speaking of the illicit market in Canada, the OPP seized more than 5,000 cannabis plants and arrested two in Pembroke.

A 45-year-old woman from La Pêche, QC, was arrested and received a $500 fine after a witness contacted the police, mentioning that the driver was driving while smoking cannabis.

Meanwhile, cannabis impairment cases are few and far between in New Brunswick, says criminal defence lawyer David Lutz.

International cannabis news

Some cannabis companies and trade groups are pushing the US Congress to close a loophole in the farm bill that allows the production and sale of intoxicating substances derived from legal hemp (think Delta-8 THC and Delta-10). The hemp industry wants to leave the federal definition of hemp unchanged.

Another big story in the US this past week was new research published in the journal Addiction that shows the number of Americans who smoke cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis now exceeds those who drink alcohol as often

And finally, in a significant policy reversal, Thailand says it now plans to require permits for medical and research use of cannabis. The country’s Prime Minister has pledged to re-criminalize cannabis by the end of the year after it was decriminalized in 2022.


Auxly has best Q1 report ever, but still faces losses, growing concern

Auxly Cannabis Group Inc. had a great first three months of the year, with record revenue and margin and adjusted EBITDA in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 in previous years.

Despite this, the company still reported a net loss of $26 million for the three months ending March 31, 2024, an increase from a net loss of $10.2 million in the same period of 2023. The company attributes this increase in losses to the deferred tax expense on the conversion of Imperial Debenture into Shares, which was somewhat offset by improved gross profits and lower expenses. 

Revenue from sales of cannabis products in Q1 2024 was $38.4 million, up from $37.5 in the same period in the previous year. Excise on those sales was $13.1 million, compared to $13.6 million in Q1 2023. 

Auxly’s revenues for 2023 were primarily from dried flower and pre-rolls (59% of all sales). The rest of the sales were for cannabis 2.0 products (namely vapes, but also edibles, oils, and topicals). Most of these sales (approximately 76%) were in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. 

Gross profit was $9.5 million, compared to $7.9 million in the same period in 2023. Adjusted EBITDA was $2.2 million, compared to just $138,000 in the first three months of 2023. 

Wages and benefits declined to $4.3 million for the first quarter of 2024, compared to $4.7 million for the same period of 2023. These decreased expenses were reportedly related to Auxly’s “streamlining of operations and support staff.”

“Following a transformative year for Auxly, we have maintained our positive momentum in the first quarter of 2024 and are continuing to achieve profitable growth,” says Hugo Alves, CEO of Auxly. “Q1 2024 was the best Q1 in Auxly history across key metrics of revenue, gross margin and adjusted EBITDA. Our commitment to product quality, innovation and distribution excellence drove our top-line sales growth year-over-year, and our continued focus on operational efficiency and prudent capital management helped us deliver another quarter of adjusted EBITDA profitability. 

“This is all thanks to the collective efforts of our talented and dedicated employees, who work hard every day to make quality products that help our consumers live happier lives. As we head into summer, we are excited to offer consumers new and innovative products to enjoy like our new larger Back Forty 0.75g pre-rolls, which will also be available to consumers in Quebec. We look forward to another quarter of sustainable, profitable growth and, as always, we will remain passionately committed to our consumers.” 

Auxly’s brand portfolio includes Parcel, Back Forty, Foray, Dosecann, and Kolab Project. The company has secured listings and sold its cannabis products in all Canadian provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. In May 2024, Auxly also launched its first branded product in Quebec, the new Back Forty large format 0.75g three-pack pre-rolls. 

The Company also conducts wholesale bulk sales of dried cannabis to different licensed cannabis producers in Canada.

Auxly’s cannabis operations are located in Charlottetown, PEI, as well as Ottawa and Leamington, Ontario. The company does not currently have any active international operations or partnerships.

On March 28, 2024, strategic partner Imperial Brands PLC, which previously invested approximately $123.0 million in Auxly in 2019, completed its planned Imperial Debt Conversion. As such, $121.9 million of the principal amount under the Imperial Debenture was converted at an exercise price of $0.81 for 150,433,450 common shares in the capital of the Company. 

In addition, $1.5 million of accrued interest was converted and issued, on a private placement basis, into 90,882,667 common shares in the capital of the Company at a price of $0.017. Imperial and Auxly amended the existing amended and restated investor rights agreement dated July 6, 2021, between the parties to, among other things, remove the existing requirement that Imperial will use the Company as its exclusive cannabis partner.

On February 1, 2024, Auxly also announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to an amendment and extension of Auxly Leamington Credit Facility, led by the Bank of Montreal as administrative agent. That deal includes terms to extend the maturity date by two years until December 31, 2025, with an option for Auxly Leamington to extend the maturity date for an additional year by making a $2.5 million principal repayment by December 31, 2025.

The deal also updates Auxly’s EBITDA and other financial and operational covenants for Auxly Leamington, increased quarterly principal payments throughout the term, with the obligations of Auxly Leamington under the amended and restated credit facility to continue to be supported by a $33 million limited guarantee by Auxly and a pledge by Auxly of all its securities of Auxly Leamington.

The company reports it will have insufficient cash to fund its operations for the next 12 months if its sales and margins do not improve or if its general and administrative expenses increase. Auxly’s “ability to sustain profitability and positive cash flows from operations is subject to material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt upon the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” reads the report. 

Should they be unable to generate enough cash flow from financing and operating activities, the carrying value of Auxly’s assets could be subject to material adjustments.


Growing Relationships – Calgary 2024 Agenda

We look forward to welcoming you to Growing Relationships in Calgary, AB, on Monday, May 6!

Below are the details for our Growing Relationships attendees. Please read the details fully and email us if you have any questions. We suggest you bookmark this page and have it handy on your phone for May 6, we will not have paper agendas for you, but we will have signage at the event.

TIME

The doors open at 8:45am MDT for registration, networking, and a light breakfast; programming will begin at 9:30am. We will end around 4:30pm, and invite you to head over to the Canadian Cannabis Exchange after-party to keep the conversations going! Your ticket may show an early time because StratCann is located in BC… but rest assured, in Calgary, registration opens at 8:45am!

VENUE

Growing Relationships is at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel (110 9 Ave SE, Calgary). We will be in the Sunalta Room on the 2nd floor, with exclusive access to the rooftop patio. Look for signage in the lobby, and there is an elevator for anyone with mobility issues.

► Bring your government-issued ID, this is an age-gated event.

DRESS FOR THE WEATHER

We have exclusive use of the 2nd-floor Sunalta rooftop patio. This space will be available for informal networking throughout the day, and for the industry speed-dating if the weather cooperates. You may also wish to enjoy your lunch al fresco, so come prepared!

PARKING

The Marriott Hotel offers valet parking for a fee, and there are also (less expensive) parking lots nearby:

EVENT AGENDA

TimeMonday, May 6, 2024
8:45-9:30Registration & Light Breakfast
9:30-9:40Welcome & Introductions
Presentation
9:40-10:002024 Wholesale Cannabis Pricing Outlook
10:00-11:00Industry Roundtable Workshop
11:00-11:20Navigating the Green Frontier
11:20-12:30Industry Speed-dating
12:30-1:30Lunch
1:30-1:55Prizes & Presentations
2:00-3:00CannaTalks Panel: Navigating the Supply Chain
3:00-3:15Nutrition Break
3:15-4:15Retail Panel: Realities of Alberta Cannabis Retail
4:20-4:45Closing Remarks… and more Prizes!
5:30CCX Growing Relations After-Party – RSVP here to join!

INDUSTRY SPEED-DATING: how to prepare!

This is a fun and fast-paced experience! We strongly encourage you to perfect your B2B elevator pitch before you arrive: craft a concise 1-minute introduction to showcase your brand and what you offer. We’ll guide you through this activity with the goal of making impactful connections that can be further developed throughout the day and beyond.

AFTER-PARTY MIXER

Join the Canadian Cannabis Exchange as they keep the conversations going at the after-party on Monday, May 6. We’ll be at Calgary’s infamous Palomino Smokehouse (109 7 Ave SW), just down the road from Growing Relationships! RSVP here to attend.

TETHER EVENT

We’ve partnered with Tether as they deliver their Calgary Sampling Event the evening before Growing Relationships. Use promo code STRATCANN for 20% off any ticket type for you and your budtenders – grab your tickets here!

HASHTAGS

Help us keep the relationships growing, use the official event hashtags: #stratcannevents #growingrelationships

FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL REGULATIONS

Please note this event will adhere to all federal and provincial regulations. We appreciate your cooperation, participation and support.

Adult Only Event

This is an adult-only event (18+).

Please ensure you have your government-issued ID with you, or you may be denied entry.

THANK YOU TO OUR EVENT PARTNERS


Two of every five dollars spent on legal cannabis in Canada went to government coffers

Two of every five dollars spent on legal cannabis in Canada from 2022-2023 went to government budgets. 

The federal and provincial governments received $1.9 billion from cannabis sales in the most recent fiscal year, a nearly 25% increase from the previous year. 

The figures were shared as part of an April 19 post on cannabis in Canada, with figures from a recently released annual update from the federal agency. 

In addition to the $1 per gram excise tax applied to any cannabis sold into a provincial market—with 75% of this given to the provinces in which those products are sold—there are different provincial taxes and fees added to cannabis. In addition, many provinces manage cannabis distribution and/or sales, bringing in additional revenue.

The majority of sales of cannabis continue to be dried cannabis flower, accounting for about 65% of the $4.7 billion in sales in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Cannabis extracts, however, represented most of the nearly 16% growth in cannabis sales from the year prior: a 59% increase in sales within the extracts category. 

Fewer than 10% of adults in Canada consume cannabis on a regular basis

Canadians under about 45 were more likely to consume cannabis than those younger. About one-third of adults aged 18 to 24 years (38.4%) and 25 to 44 years (34.5%) reported using cannabis over the course of the previous 12 months, compared with just 15.5% of adults aged 45 years and older reporting cannabis use in the past 12 months. 

These figures were even lower for those consumers who used cannabis on a more regular basis. Only about 10% of adults aged 18-44 reported using cannabis daily or almost daily, about twice as much as those 45 and older. 

In comparison, about 75% of Canadians 15 years of age or older reported consuming alcohol between 2008 and 2017. This number was even higher for those between 20 to 24 years old. 

Of those who said they had purchased legal cannabis in the past year (2022-2023), 71.7% said they bought it exclusively from legal sources. Product safety was the most commonly provided reason for choosing legal cannabis at 38%, while convenience and desire to follow the law were 16.9% and 12.9%, respectively.

The 2022-2023 fiscal year represented the first year cannabis producers in Canada sold less cannabis than the year prior, a 2.9% decrease. Cannabis sales and supply may have reached a potential saturation point following several years of consecutive growth. 

Halifax smokes the most weed, but Toronto and Vancouver are catching up

In addition to surveying cannabis consumers, Canada has also used samples of wastewater in major cities to measure things like cannabis use since 2019. 

Based on these samples in Toronto, rates of users showed the most significant increase in cannabis, up 85.2% in 2023 compared to 2020, followed by the Metro Vancouver region, increasing 56% from three years prior. 

While Halifax has consistently had the highest average cannabis levels in wastewater nationally since data collection began, they had the smallest increase (+27.5%) among participating municipalities from 2020 to 2023.

Unsurprisingly, cannabis-related arrests have continued to decline in Canada since legalization in 2018. There were 10,824 total cannabis-related offences in Canada in 2022, with 67% of them related to the illegal import or export of cannabis, while just 12% were for possession. 

It is legal in Canada to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public. Cannabis can be transported in a vehicle but cannot be accessible to the driver.


Diteba Laboratories Inc. files notice of intent

Mississauga-based cannabis company Diteba Laboratories Inc. filed a notice of intent (NOI) on March 2 under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, listing more than $15 million in liabilities, including nearly $8.2 owed to the CRA.

The company blames its financial hardship on the resistance of provinces and consumers to new and innovative cannabis products and the “stubborn resilience” of the flower, prerolls, and vapes markets, as well as the illicit market. 

All creditors are barred from commencing or continuing any actions against Diteba until the creditors handle the proposal.

Diteba Laboratories Inc. has thirty days from the date of filing the NOI to make a proposal.

The company already underwent a court-approved sale and investment solicitation process (SISP) in 2023, which resulted in the sale of its scientific contract research business. The same was approved in October. Diteba also operates a white-label cannabis processing and distribution business.

The company processes and packages cannabis vape products, milled cannabis flower, pre-rolls (traditional and infused), and whole cannabis flower and sells cannabis under the Common Ground brand.


SNDL agrees to deal for four NOVA-operated Value Buds in BC

SNDL Inc. has agreed to assign its rights to own or operate four Dutch Love stores to Nova Cannabis Inc.

The move will give Nova a footprint in BC’s retail cannabis space. Nova currently owns and/or operates 96 locations across Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, primarily under its “Value Buds” banner.

SNDL is the largest private-sector liquor and cannabis retailer in Canada, with retail cannabis banners like Value Buds, Spiritleaf, and Firesale Cannabis. SNDL is also a licensed cannabis producer and one of the largest vertically integrated cannabis companies in Canada. SNDL also produces a private label product for Value Buds.

In November 2023, SNDL and Nova Cannabis announced their mutual decision to terminate the two companies’ implementation agreement from December 20, 2022, which would have, in part, seen SNDL vending into Nova’s retail network under the Value Buds, Spiritleaf, and Superette banners located in Ontario and Alberta. The pair of companies had previously attributed several delays in the implementation of that agreement to the continued review by one provincial regulator.

“SNDL remains committed to strengthening Nova’s retail position and the sustainability of its capital structure, as underscored by the extension of the credit facility,” said Zach George, CEO of SNDL, in a press release about the most recent announcement. 

“The assignment of four well-located cannabis retail stores to be owned or operated by Nova creates an opportunity for Nova to open its first Value Buds branded locations in British Columbia and highlights the benefit of SNDL’s M&A pipeline.”

As part of the assignment, Nova will issue to SNDL $8.179 million of Nova shares based on the 20-day VWAP of the Nova shares on March 28, 2024, subject to customary closing conditions.

The deal is expected to close by the end of April 2024. Adding the four Dutch Love Stores should bring Nova’s total store count to 100 and SNDL’s direct and indirect cannabis store count across all retail banners to 190. 

SNDL has also extended the maturity date of the $15 million revolving credit facility with Nova for an additional 24 months, to March 31, 2026, and has amended the revolving credit facility to remove SNDL’s right to demand repayment prior to the maturity date, subject to certain conditions.

“The updates announced further solidify SNDL’s continued support of Nova’s growth trajectory,” said Anne Fitzgerald, lead independent director of Nova. “We will continue to collaboratively pursue avenues that support Nova’s expansion and optionality with our partners at SNDL.”

In late 2022, Nova and SNDL had a tentative agreement that would have seen SNDL hand over control of 26 cannabis stores it owned under the Spiritleaf and Superette banners located in Ontario and Alberta. SNDL would also get exclusive access to Nova’s intellectual property, such as sales data, from its Value Buds retail brand.

The two companies have been repeatedly extending the closing of that partnership due to what they say is a review by one provincial regulator. The most recent extension is to November 30, 2023.

SNDL became Nova’s majority shareholder when it acquired Alcanna in 2022, Nova’s largest shareholder at the time. Similarly, High Tide, another sizeable retail cannabis business in Canada with more than 150 Canna Cabana locations across the country, reported sales from its own “Cabanalytics business data and insights platform” increased to $6.5 million in the third fiscal quarter of 2023 from $5.5 million during the same period in 2022.

Nova reported its first year of net revenue in 2023 as part of their most recent annual report. Revenue from Nova’s “proprietary data licensing arrangements” was $12.4 million for 2023, which was an increase of 125% from $5.5 million in 2022.

In its most recent annual report, SNDL reported an operating income loss of $112 million for its cannabis operations and net earnings of $4.9 million for its retail cannabis operations in 2023.

Countering its overall losses on its cannabis operations side, SNDL attributes its record results in revenue, gross profit, and cash flow within its retail cannabis segment in part to its own data program.

Despite these losses, SNDL says it is well positioned in 2024 given its recent acquisition of The Valens Company Inc., the closing of its facility in Olds, Alberta, and the transition of its remaining cultivation activities to Atholville, New Brunswick, and moving its manufacturing and processing activities in Kelowna, British Columbia.

British Columbia currently has a cap that allows a company to operate no more than eight cannabis stores, although the province has been discussing raising that limit

Related Articles


Media continues to misreport issues relating to illicit cannabis edibles

Following an incident in Halifax where several students under the age of twelve were taken to hospital after eating cannabis edibles, a new media report confirms the edibles were not legal. 

While the initial media reports did not note if the products were legal or illegal, the article referred to them as “labelled.”

A follow-up article from the Canadian Press shows a picture of what is clearly an edible from the illicit market, but the article itself predictably fails to clearly note the distinction between legal and illegal edibles and how they are packaged and sold, or the THC content of those products. 

This is an ongoing issue, with researchers, academics, and the media still seemingly unaware of how widespread these illicit, unregulated edibles are, packaged to mimic traditional candy and snack foods like Nerds, Doritos, Oreos, Skittles and many more. 

In this most recent incident in Halifax, at least five kids consumed the product after one child brought them to school. Four of those kids went to the hospital for their symptoms. 

One mother, a healthcare worker, said in an interview that her son threw up multiple times and had to be rushed to the emergency department. Another mother, who spoke to the Canadian Press on the condition of anonymity, said her child was taken to intensive care for treatment before stabilizing.

Despite the image shown in the article showing a package of “Nerd Bites” advertising at least 1,000mg THC, with each “bite” containing 200mg THC, the article itself does very little to clearly communicate that these are not products from Canada’s legal cannabis industry.  

A modicum of research would clearly show the author of the article that legal cannabis edible products cannot be packaged in such a way, do not resemble regular candies like Nerds, and can only come with 10mg THC per package, not 1,000.

Only halfway down the article does the author cite a comment from the NSLC that notes this discrepancy. But even then, the article doesn’t make the distinction clear or even attempt to do so. 

“A spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp., the only licensed distributor of cannabis products in the province, says it only buys from licensed producers who are regulated by Health Canada and the federal Cannabis Act. The law generally prohibits the promotion of cannabis, and packaging is to adhere to strict requirements including labelling, child-resistant containers, and plain packaging that must not appeal to youth,” reports the Canadian press, attributing the comment to a media representative for NSLC.

This type of lazy conflation of the significant difference between legal and illegal edible products is not new. Researchers and media in the past few years have breathlessly reported on hospitalizations of young people after they consumed cannabis edibles, often without an acknowledgement of how prevalent these types of highly appealing and very high THC products are in Canada, or the fact they only became common in Canada around the same time legal edible products began hitting shelves.

Such distinctions are obvious for those who actually understand the law in Canada. Legal cannabis edibles cannot mimic trademarked snack product brands, cannot contain more than 10mg THC per package, and are sold only through authorized sources. 

As long as the media, academics, and other researchers continue to misunderstand such an obvious distinction, people will continue to be encouraged to blame the legal market for what is evidently an issue with the illegal, unregulated market. 

This also continues to impact the legal market, as concerns with issues like young people presenting at hospitals after consuming edibles are used to maintain the current 10mg THC limit for legal edibles, while ignoring that these hospitalizations are more than likely due to much higher potency products that are far more appealing and accessible to young people.


Retail cannabis sales declined again in January after holiday spike

Retail cannabis sales in January 2024 dropped to their lowest in nearly a year, according to new figures from Statistics Canada

Cannabis sales reached a record high of $589 million in August 2023, followed by three months of decline to $505 million in November before jumping to $562 million in December. Then, in January 2024, retail cannabis sales dropped to $498 million, using seasonally adjusted numbers. 

Retail sales historically decline in the months following the Christmas shopping season, with cannabis being no different. 

Retail cannabis sales have increased on a year-over-year basis since legalization. Before the peak in sales in August 2023, the high water mark for the previous year was $511 million in December 2022, $414 million in December 2021, and $318 million in December 2020. 

While sales still show increases on an annual basis, the three-month decline in retail cannabis sales in 2023 was the steepest overall decline since legalization. The decline comes at a time when both the cannabis industry and the broader Canadian economy face challenges, with consumer spending in many sectors declining, including food and beverages and beer and wine. 

The number of retail stores across Canada also declined. As of March 2024, there were 3,690 (up from 3,682 in January) cannabis stores in Canada, excluding provincial online stores.

  • British Columbia: 512 public and private stores, either open or “coming soon”; an increase from 511 in January.
  • Alberta: 752, up from 749 in January.
  • Saskatchewan: 185 
  • Manitoba: 204, 120 of which are in Winnipeg (up from 198 in January)
  • Ontario: 1,778 listed as authorized to open
  • Quebec: 98 (down from 104 in January)
  • New Brunswick: 25 public stores, plus eight private stores and six farmgate stores for a total of 39
  • Nova Scotia: 49
  • PEI: 4 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 55 (from 52 in January)
  • Northwest Territories: 6 brick-and-mortar locations, plus 1 private online store
  • Nunavut: 1
  • Yukon: 6

Week in Weed – January 20, 2024

This week in Canadian cannabis news, StratCann asked why Trudeau seems to have forgotten about the fledgling cannabis industry. We highlighted the challenges facing the industry, reported on Ontario’s Safari Flower Group receiving CCAA protection, Aberta’s OGEN initiating the sale of its brand, intellectual property, product line, genetics, and declines in retail cannabis sales in fall 2023. We also explored Simply Solventless’ acquisition of Lamplighter and shared about GrowerIQ completing its acquisition of Ample Organics.

In other cannabis news in the past week…

A trial in Ontario Superior Court of Justice involved ten defendants raising a constitutional question about their ability to sell cannabis at stores on First Nations reserves without having the required licence or approval from their chiefs and councils. The trial is expected to conclude in February. 

Compostable packaging company TIPA announced it will be providing packaging for edibles brand Wyld for its products in the US and Canada beginning this year. Wyld introduced “Canada’s first compostable cannabis packaging” in 2021, with further compostable expansion in 2022.

Winnipeg Free Press did a write-up on Manitoba’s “controlled access” retail cannabis licence that allows cannabis to be sold in convenience stores. The author spoke with Kerri Michell of Farmer Jane, Omar Khan of High Tide, and a representative of the Liquor, Gaming, Cannabis Authority of Manitoba about industry concerns that such licences should be restricted to rural areas only. 

Radio Canada took a look at some of the unique cannabis edibles in Quebec, speaking with François-Olivier Hébert, research associate at the neuroscience axis of the University of Montreal Hospital Center (CHUM); Alexandre Poulin, co-founder of Gayonica; Geneviève Giroux, vice-president of supply and marketing at the Société québécoise de cannabis (SWDC); and Serge Brochu, professor emeritus at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal.

The Ontario Land Tribunal has provided a deadline of May 30, 2024, for cannabis producer Redecan to provide odour mitigation documents to the town of Pelham, where it operates a production facility, says the municipality’s former Cannabis Control Committee. The issue has been brewing for years in the community, with some outspoken residents frustrated by the smell of cannabis. Phoena (formerly CannTrust) was previously located in the community before closing its doors in 2023. 

A Halifax barista who spoke with the Halifax Examiner says he was fired after vaping medically prescribed cannabis (CBD) in 2022 while working at a local Starbucks. He says he is trying to raise awareness of the issue

After five years with Canopy Growth, Les Serres and Steve Bertrand, originally Canadian greenhouse tomato growers, say they have pivoted away from cannabis and back into produce—this time radishes. They also converted their former cannabis drying room to grow mushrooms (oyster and lion’s mane).  

Canopy Growth Corporation announced that it has entered into subscription agreements with certain institutional investors in a private placement offering of 8,158,510 units at a price per unit of US$4.29 for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately US$35 million

CordovaCann Corp. provided an update on its Star Buds Cannabis Co. retail operations in Canada. Star Buds has 11 locations in Canada and generated $3.5 million in revenue in the last quarter of the 2023 calendar.

Organigram announced the appointment of Karina Gehring to its Board of Directors. She is one of two directors (including Simon Ashton) designated by BT DE Investments Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of British American Tobacco (“BAT”), as nominees to Organigram’s board. The global tobacco giant has invested heavily in the New Brunswick cannabis producer

PEI will be opening it’s fifth cannabis store next week.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a BC man’s drug trafficking appeal relating to 101.5 pounds of cannabis found during a traffic stop, along with edibles, cannabis oil, and cash, despite the initial judge in the case ruling the search was unlawful. 

A civil forfeiture case in British Columbia involving a couple that Vancouver Police say are connected to a large cannabis oil extraction lab and a cannabis grow operation is raising questions about the province’s civil forfeiture process and police procedures. The case can be read here.  

Members of Winnipeg City Council backed away from a proposal calling for a ban on hookah lounges in the city, instead passing a motion calling on the provincial government to consider regulating herbal shisha the same way it does products like tobacco and cannabis, reports the CBC. City staff’s presentation to council included a jurisdictional scan of smoking bylaws in other provinces that, while not directly related to cannabis, intersect with similar challenges for any indoor inhalation of cannabis. 


Three month decline in retail cannabis sales in 2023

Cannabis retail sales continued to decline in Canada from a peak in August 2023, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.

Cannabis sales reached a record high of $589 million in the summer of 2023 before experiencing three straight months of decline, ending with sales of $511 million in November of the same year.

Sales in November 2023 were still higher than November 2022 at $445 million, and the same as the previous year’s peak of sales in December, which was also $511 million. All numbers are using retail sales at 2017 constant prices.

Cannabis sales have declined every November since 2020 before experiencing a boost in December and another decline in January and February, a trend seen in many retail sectors. In November 2022, sales dropped to $411 million from a peak of $471 million that August, before peaking at $511 million for the year. Sales fell to $442 million in February 2023.

While sales still show increases on an annual basis, the three-month decline in retail cannabis sales in 2023 was the steepest overall decline since legalization. The decline comes at a time when both the cannabis industry and the broader Canadian economy are facing challenges, with consumer spending in many sectors declining, including food and beverages and beer and wine. 

The number of retail stores across Canada also continues to grow, although the pace has slowed considerably compared to the first four years of legalization. As of October 2023, there were 3,682 (up from 3,654 in October) cannabis stores in Canada, excluding provincial online stores.

  • British Columbia: 511 public and private stores, either open or “coming soon”, a decline from 513 in October.
  • Alberta: 749
  • Saskatchewan: 185 (up from 176 in October)
  • Manitoba: 198, 115 of which are in Winnipeg (up from 194 in October)
  • Ontario: 1,778 listed as authorized to open (up from 1,770 in October)
  • Quebec: 104 (up from 98 in October)
  • New Brunswick: 25 public stores, plus seven private stores and six farmgate stores for a total of 38
  • Nova Scotia: 49
  • PEI: 4 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 52 (from 49 in October)
  • Northwest Territories: 6 brick-and-mortar locations, plus 1 private online store
  • Nunavut: 1
  • Yukon: 6

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OGEN initiates sale of brand, intellectual property, product line, genetics

OGEN, a cannabis company that recently announced it was shutting down, has initiated the sale of its brand, intellectual property, product line, and genetics.

The sale, announced on January 16, 2024, includes OGEN’s fully trademarked brand, IP assets, marketing plans, campaigns, and social media accounts. The sale is being facilitated by the Canadian Cannabis Exchange (“CCX”).

The sale also includes 77 SKUs sold in eight provinces, including pre-rolls, dried flower, and milled flower, in a range of packaging configurations. 

The selection also includes 13 cannabis cultivars for sale that Ogen says were developed through a 5-year pheno-hunting process and are supported by a collection of “historical potency results, rooted clones, and seeds.” 

For all inquiries about the sale, contact CCX here.

OGEN announced it was closing its doors in November 2023. Darren Brisebois, President of OGEN Cannabis, told StratCann that high taxes and regulatory fees combined with low margins meant the end of the road for the Alberta producer. 

Brisebois says the decision to close was not his; it was at the discretion of their lenders as well as pressures from the CRA.

The company, he said, which had to let nearly ninety employees go after hearing the news of receivership from their lender, had around 25,000 cannabis plants at various stages of production that had been scheduled for destruction. 


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Comparing attitudes about cannabis in US and Canada

A new research article argues sales of cannabis, especially edibles, are likely to capture an increasing share of the market as consumer interest increases and stigmas decrease.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Cannabis Research, compares and contrasts opinions on cannabis, cannabis use, and legalization in the US and Canada.

Unsurprisingly, both countries showed high levels of support for legalization, with three-quarters of Canadians and Americans (78% and 75%) reporting that they agree/strongly agree with legalization for recreational (adult-use) purposes. 

The report also says that usage rates among adults in both countries were similar as well, with 45% of Canadians and 42% of Americans confirming they consume cannabis. This number is higher than a recent report from Statistics Canada in 2022, which showed that 27% of people 16 years of age and older reported having used cannabis in the past 12 months, an increase from 25% in the previous reporting cycle.

This study was built around online surveys of those aged 19 and over, living in the USA or Canada for at least 12 months. In addition to their opinions on legalization, respondents were asked how they feel about being known for consuming cannabis, how often they consume cannabis, and for what purpose. 

They were also asked questions specifically about cannabis edibles. While Americans were slightly more likely to report consuming cannabis edibles and beverages (24.5% and 28.5%), Canadians were more likely to report using cannabis oils or tinctures (22% and 8.7%).

Cannabis oils, capsules and tinctures, the active ingredient in most edibles, have been allowed for sale in Canada’s legal, regulated cannabis market since 2016 (medical only until 2018), while edibles and beverages were not allowed until 2019 and not widely available until 2020 or later. Cannabis edibles and beverages in Canada are also subject to a limit of 10mg THC per serving and per package, while many US markets allow a greater amount of THC per package. 

Respondents were also asked if they intend to increase their purchases of edibles in the future and about their perceptions and concerns with edibles. Around 21% of American buyers reported they would increase purchases, compared to 13% of consumers in Canada. 

Respondents were also asked about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their cannabis use, a subject covered by other recent surveys and studies, with 14% of Canadian and 16% of US cannabis users reporting they consumed more often between April 2020 and April 2021. Canadians were more likely (63%) to express concern about the perceived risks cannabis edibles can present to children compared to Americans (51%). 

The researchers conclude that the market for dried flower will “stagnate and transition toward the edible market, as most health experts continue to discourage consumers from inhaling cannabis,” but argue there is a need for more education for the “canna curious” who may want to try these products but have various concerns. 

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Total unpackaged cannabis inventory, production space continue to decline

The amount of unpackaged inventory cannabis producers are sitting on has continued to decline from a peak in late 2022, while approved indoor grow space has been slowly declining from a peak in early 2020.

Approved outdoor production space has also declined from a peak in late 2021. Unsurprisingly, the estimated number of people employed on federally licensed cannabis production sites has also been declining from a peak in late 2021.

Dried flower still dominates cannabis sales, but cannabis extracts and edibles continue to slowly eat away at that market share.

While the volume of unpackaged, dried cannabis flower licensed producers have in their vaults is still over one million kilograms, that amount has been somewhat declining in 2023. The peak volume held by these processors was 1.3 million kilograms in October 2022. 

The most recent figures provided by Health Canada, through June 2023, show that figure sat at about 1.2 million, a decline of approximately 161,000 kilograms, or 13%.

While not a significant decline, it does show a trend of a long-standing cannabis surplus beginning to show signs of not only levelling out but even beginning to decline. This surplus of cannabis is a significant reason why prices have been dropping so significantly, often due to larger producers trying to offload large volumes from their vaults at cut-rate prices.

Unpackaged inventory of dried cannabis shows a similar decline, from a peak of ​​293,188 kilograms in October 2022 to 135,453 kilograms in June 2023. That number dropped even lower, to 110,290 in February of this year, a low not seen since January 2021.

Dried cannabis sales remain the most commonly sold product, with 53% of all medical and non-medical sales in packaged units, compared to 24% cannabis extracts and 22% cannabis edibles. 

Cannabis extracts packaged sales, via Canada.ca

Cannabis edibles and extracts continue to eat into that market share dominated by dried flower. In October 2020, dried cannabis sales represented 68% of total sales, with 6,989,846 packaged units sold. At the time, edible cannabis sales represented 17% of total sales, while extracts were 15%.

By March 2022, dried cannabis sales represented 58% of total sales, edible cannabis sales represented 23% of total sales and cannabis extracts 19%.

Edible cannabis packaged sales, via Canada.ca

Edible cannabis packaged sales continue to increase year-over-year, with large spikes in December each year. There were 4.4 million packaged units of edible cannabis sold in June 2023, compared to 3.8 million in June 2022 (medical and non-medical).

Packaged sales of cannabis extracts (medical and non-medical) have also been increasing, from 3.3 million in June 2022 to 4.9 million in June 2023. Meanwhile, packaged inventory of cannabis extracts held by producers, as well as provincial distributors and retailers, appears to be settling at around eight to nine million in each category. 

Sales of cannabis topicals, which are still a small fraction of the overall market, have also been increasing, with 76,000 packaged units sold in the medical and non-medical stream in June 2023, down from a previous peak in December 2022 of more than 81,000 units sold, and up from June 2022’s nearly 58,000 units sold (medical and non-medical).

However, the total inventory of topicals held by licensed producers, as well as provincial distributors and retailers, has been declining significantly, from a peak of 553,077 units in March 2022 to 333,438 units in June 2023.

The number of non-flowering cannabis plants in Canada’s legal, commercial industry continues to fluctuate seasonally, with spikes in inventory each May or June and declines later in the year. However, while the peak in May 2022 was 3.7 million plants, 3.5 million in June, 2021, and 3.2 million in June, 2020, the high listed amount for 2023 was just over 3 million.

While relatively low, overall, the number of cannabis plants sold in the medical and non-medical channels spiked in 2023 as more cannabis clones made their way into the non-medical “recreational” market. More than 10,000 cannabis plants were sold to medical and non-medical consumers in June 2023, compared to just under 3,000 in June 2022 (and fewer than 1,000 in May and July 2022, respectively).

The number of flowering cannabis plants has also declined, from a peak of 3.8 million in September 2022 to 2 million in June 2023.

The total amount of packaged inventory of seeds has also been declining, especially among provincial distributors and retailers, from a previous high of 136,767 packaged units in July 2021 to 59,699 in June 2023.

Sales of cannabis seeds continue to spike in the spring of each year, with 14,459 units sold in April 2022 and 14,784 sold in April 2023. The vast majority of these seeds were sold into the non-medical stream. 


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Canada’s cannabis regulations continue to evolve

Health Canada’s 2022–2023 Departmental Results Report shows the cannabis industry in Canada continuing to evolve and expand.

In the past year, the federal health regulator granted an additional 179 licences for the cultivation, processing, and sale of cannabis for medical purposes, 125 licences for research, analytical testing, and/or cannabis drug, and 120 for industrial hemp. The agency also granted 1,805 import and export permits, primarily for export. 

The number of Canadians utilizing the legal market has also increased, with the proportion of household spending on cannabis in the legal market growing from 9% in Q3 2018 to 71% in Q4 of 2022. 

Health Canada also continues to oversee the country’s medical cannabis framework. In April 2022, Health Canada published the Guidance on Personal Production of Cannabis for Medical Purposes, based on stakeholder feedback, outlining factors that Health Canada may use when considering whether to refuse or revoke a registration for personal or designated production of cannabis for medical purposes.

In addition, Health Canada has been seeking additional evidence from healthcare practitioners to substantiate or support authorizations for high daily amounts of cannabis, and communicated concerning trends to the appropriate healthcare practitioner, often the Provincial College of Physicians. 

Health Canada has been increasingly using its authority to refuse a request for authorization for medical cannabis if it was not supported by evidence and could be considered to represent a risk to public health and safety, especially if it is believed the cannabis was being diverted to an illicit market or activity.

Health Canada also made amendments to the Cannabis Act and its Regulations that came into force in December 2022 that sought to better facilitate cannabis testing by improving access to testing materials and broadening the educational qualifications for those responsible for testing cannabis at licensed sites, as well as increasing the public possession limit for cannabis beverages to better align with other cannabis products.

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In March 2023, Health Canada published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part I, seeking feedback on potential amendments to the Cannabis Regulations. The agency’s goal with these potential amendments is to streamline and clarify existing requirements; eliminate duplicative requirements; and reduce burdens where possible.

A public opinion research report that gathered information on the views and practices of patients and healthcare practitioners on access to cannabis for medical purposes was published in October 2022

In that report, Health Canada screened 91 instances of adverse reactions associated with cannabis products (24% required hospitalization and 4% were reported as life-threatening). The Department also published two annual reports highlighting adverse reactions involving cannabis products (October 17, 2018 – December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020).

In the past fiscal year, Health Canada also continued to conduct scientific assessments to characterize any possible risks associated with certain formulations or ingredients in cannabis products and responded to over 250 risk-related requests. 

In collaboration with research partners, the Department also published three peer-reviewed research reports: one of these issues was related to the pharmacological differences between different intoxicating cannabinoids; one on the characterization of by-products of components of cannabis vaping emissions; and one on the characterization of metal contaminants in cannabis vaping liquids.

Health Canada says it also continued to deliver public education and awareness campaigns in 2022-23. The Department updated and relaunched its Pursue Your Passion marketing campaign as both a virtual, ambassador-led program in schools and a teacher-led interactive lesson focussed on educating youth aged 13-15 on the physical and mental health effects of cannabis use. In March 2023, over 120 of these “ambassador-led sessions” were hosted in schools across Canada.

In May 2022, Health Canada also launched its s Reduce your risk: Choose legal cannabis campaign—a social media outreach campaign designed to provide Canadians with information on the risks of illicit cannabis products and how to recognize the differences between legal and illegal cannabis products. The campaign utilized web content, infographics, video, and various social media content.

Lastly, the Department also published two other resources to the Cannabis Resource Series—a set of public education resources built to provide Canadians with additional health and safety information related to cannabis: Growing cannabis at home safely and Cannabis accessories for inhalation: minimizing your risk when smoking, vaping and dabbing.

Health Canada also invested over $9.6 million in contribution agreements In 2022-23 through its Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) to support 24 projects related to the use of cannabis and its health effects, with a focus on youth and Indigenous populations. The majority of these projects were completed in 2022-23.

The federal health agency also led the development of multiple marketing campaigns on cannabis to raise awareness of the risks of cannabis and help prevent cannabis-related harms, especially to children.

Health Canada’s Indigenous Navigator Service, which supports Indigenous-affiliated applicants through the federal commercial cannabis licensing process to encourage Indigenous participation in the industry, supported an additional 13 licences for cultivating or processing cannabis to Indigenous-owned or affiliated applicants in 2022-23. This brings the total of licensed Indigenous businesses in Canada to 56. In addition, six licences were awarded in 2022-23 to Indigenous-owned or affiliated applicants to cultivate or process industrial hemp, for a total of 27.

Featured image via Organnicraft


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AGLC announces several rule changes for cannabis producers, retailers

Alberta has recently made several changes to its cannabis rules and regulations, including enabling self-attestation for age-gating for retailers, providing producers with more information about where their products are selling, and allowing cannabis stores to use specific terms in their signage. 

In two bulletins posted on October 13, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) informed retailers that the section of the Retail Cannabis Store Handbook (RCSH) that prevented the use of terms and images such as “chronic,” “stoned” or “high” has now been removed. 

The section had previously read: “Signage may not promote intoxication. Terms and images such as, but not limited to, ‘chronic,’ ‘stoned’ or ‘high’ are not permitted.”

AGLC also advised cannabis retailers in Alberta that they can now allow for self-attestation as a sufficient age-gating procedure for their websites and social media content.

Previously, Alberta had one of the strictest age-gating rules of any province in Canada, with retailers unable to show product information on their websites unless users had verified their age with an ID, either in-person or through an online form. Most provinces simply require a self-attestation, such as entering a date of birth or answering yes or no to a simple age prompt. 

Both changes are effective immediately. 

Earlier this month, AGLC also shared with producers that it would begin sending them reports detailing sales of their products on a regional basis. AGLC will also share an “Alberta Regional Report” detailing all AGLC sales to retailers of general product categories for the month on a regional basis. 

While producers will only receive the regional reports on their own products, the Alberta Regional Report will be available to all cannabis producers who sell in to Alberta. The report will be anonymized and will apply to any product supplied by at least four cannabis producers. 

British Columbia recently announced a similar program, although it goes even further, providing producers with sales information down to the specific store. 

AGLC also recently announced they had reduced the SKU listing fee for cannabis producers. Previously $1,500, the reduced fee to list a new SKU to sell into the Alberta market is now $250.

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Canada releases What We Heard Report on the Cannabis Act review

Canada has released their What We Heard Report on the ongoing legislative review of the Cannabis Act.

The report is a summary of what the five-person expert panel has heard over the past year as it engaged with almost 500 stakeholders in nearly 90 meetings across Canada. 

“We want to thank everyone who generously gave us their time and energy in sharing their perspectives and answering our questions,” said Morris Rosenberg, Chair of the Expert Panel. “We have heard a wide variety of perspectives throughout the consultations. A very rich and broad scientific literature was shared with us, as well as diverse lived and living experiences. We hope that we have captured the breadth and nuances of perspectives.”

The panel’s mandate was to look at the impact of cannabis legalization on different aspects of Canadian society and public health and safety, namely its impact on young people, on First Nations communities and peoples, and on peoples’ homes. 

In regard to public health, the panel says they heard concerns from public health officials and medical experts for more strict monitoring of the program and maintaining policies like the current 10 mg edibles limit. At the same time, industry stressed concerns that such strict limits impact their financial success.

In regard to the impact of cannabis legalization on young people, the panel says they heard concerns about emergency department visits for young people who had consumed cannabis and a need for more research on diverse populations of youth.

In their engagement with First Nations, Indigenous and Metis communities in Canada, panelists heard concerns about a lack of engagement with these communities, concerns around issues of jurisdictional authority, as well as concerns with the impact of legalization on these communities’ public health and safety. 

In regard to the impact of home growing on people’s homes— a concern repeated by many in the run-up to legalization—the panel says these issues were not commonly raised in their outreach. Some municipalities said they wanted to see a limit to the number of plants people can grow at home with a medical authorization. Some said they wanted more education on how to grow safely at home, especially indoors. 

In addition to these specific topics the panel was required to look into, they also heard feedback on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the Act, with industry expressing concerns about financial viability and a lack of enforcement against the unregulated market, and that some marginalized communities still face uneven enforcement of cannabis laws, even post-legalization.

They also heard from advocates for the medical cannabis market who called for more research into medical cannabis and more support to ensure the integrity of the medical cannabis stream.

The next phase of the Expert Panel’s work will include the development of their final report to be tabled in Parliament by March 2024, as well as continued engagement through the fall. 

The Expert Panel continues to welcome written submissions as it develops the final report. Submissions can be sent to [email protected]


Growing Relationships – Manitoba Agenda

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Growing Relationships in Winnipeg, MB on Monday, October 16!

Here are the details for our Growing Relationships attendees. Please read it through fully and reach out if you have any questions. We suggest you bookmark this page and have it handy on your phone for October 16.

TIME

The event is 9am – 5pm CDT. Tickets may show a 7am start because StratCann is located in BC and it automates timezones… but rest assured, in Winnipeg, the event is 9am-5pm!

VENUE

The event is at the Inn at the Forks Hotel (75 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB). We will be in the Forks Ballroom on the 2nd floor. There is an elevator for anyone with mobility issues, and signage in the front lobby.

PARKING

There are several parkades in the area, including the Forks Parkade. The cost is $2/hour at the pay stations via card only (no cash).

The two closest options are the surface lot on the north (back) side of the hotel, and the side of the hotel that faces the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. There is also a multi-level parkade right next door and many other surface lots located around the Forks.

PRE-PARTY

Street Sessions pre-party: Join Hundred Pound Hauling on Sunday, October 15 from 7pm-midnight at the Darling Bar. Growing Relationship Attendees: contact Sean ([email protected]) to get a promo code for a free ticket… before they sell out!

EVENT AGENDA

TimeMonday, October 16
9:00-10:00Registration, Networking & Breakfast
10:00-10:15Welcome & Introductions
10:15-11:00Industry Roundtable Workshop
11:00-12:00Weed-dating“!
12:00-1:00Lunch
1:15-2:15CANNAtalk Panel Discussion: Testing Discrepancies – how does it affect our industry?
2:15-2:30Afternoon break
2:30-4:00Producer & Retailer Panel: Exploring the issues unique to Manitoba’s cannabis industry
4:20Closing Remarks, prizes & wrap-up

HASHTAGS

Help us keep the relationships growing, use the official event hashtags: #STRATCANNEVENTS #GRMB23

DRESS FOR THE WEATHER

We have exclusive use of a 2nd-floor outdoor patio. Please ensure you have a jacket handy as the forecast looks sunny but chilly! This space will be available for informal networking throughout the day.

FREE PITCH FEEDBACK SESSION

We’ve partnered with Velvet Kavanaugh of Phenologic to ensure you are ready for “weed-dating” and highly encourage you to book your free session before they’re booked up!

Can you clearly communicate what sets your company apart in 1 minute? Most cannabis companies can’t, yet it’s crucial for connecting with your buyers. At the Growing Relationships ‘weed-dating’ session, you’ll get 1 minute in front of your audience to share what you are about and why they should buy from you. That minute goes fast!

I can help you with a free pitch feedback session. Get focused on what makes your company
stand out so retailers remember you and want to carry your products. Book your time today – space is limited.

BOOK HERE: https://calendly.com/itsphenologic/pitch-session

FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL REGULATIONS

Please note this event will adhere to all federal and provincial regulations, we appreciate your participation and support at this industry event.

Adult Only Event

Just a reminder that this is an adult-only event (19+), ID may be requested upon entry.

THANK YOU TO OUR EVENT PARTNERS


2023 Vancouver Island Farm Tour – itinerary

We’re looking forward to welcoming you on board at the Vancouver Island Farm Tour on Saturday, September 30!

Here’s the info you’ll need for a fantastic day out. Please read it through fully and reach out if you have any questions. We suggest you bookmark this page and have it handy on your phone as we approach September 30th!

SCHEDULE & BUS:

The itinerary is below for your reference. We will be departing on time, so please arrive early and follow instructions when it’s time to board at each of the tour stops. We don’t want to leave anyone behind!

Our comfy coach is climate-controlled, with an overhead compartment for storage, and spacious reclining seats. We recommend that you:

  • Use the bathroom before boarding
  • Bring a water bottle for the travel time
  • Help keep the bus clean! If the fields are muddy, we’ll do our best to provide a shoe-cleaning station prior to boarding.

PARKING & DEPARTURE:

We will meet at and depart from the Seed & Stone retail store at 616 Fort St. There are paid parking decks nearby should need to park for the day. 

Seed & Stone is kindly providing some coffee and breakfast treats before we board. Please arrive early to check-in and partake of some nosh – will be departing on time and can not accommodate late arrivals!

FOOTWEAR & CLOTHING:

The tour will operate rain or shine, so come prepared with appropriate clothing, outerwear and footwear. All farm visits and lunch will be outside, so layers and a rain jacket are recommended.

Please wear farm-appropriate footwear, which must be closed-toe. We will be walking through fields and uneven terrain, so let’s leave the fancy shoes at home!

GOVERNMENT ISSUED ID:

Please ensure you bring one piece of government-issued ID, which IS required in order to enter the gates of one of the farms we’ll be visiting. A valid driver’s licence or your provincial health card would work! Anyone without ID would need to sit this one out.

LUNCH:

Massive thanks to High North Laboratories, our Lunch Partner for the event! We have arranged a catered lunch for you at the beautiful Dabble Cannabis Co. farm, where you’ll have plenty of time to dine and take in the scenery. There is a swimmable lake if you feel inspired to take a dip!

RETURN:

We will return to the Seed & Stone retail store on Fort Street, where you will be invited in for an opportunity to browse/purchase products, including those from the local growers you just learned about on the tour!

TOUR ITINERARY

TIMEEVENT & LOCATION
8:30 – 9:00amSEED & STONE616 Fort St, Victoria
Check-in, Coffee & breakfast treats, boarding
9:00 – 10:00On the bus (approx. 45 min)
10:00 – 10:45ALTERNABIS – Shawnigan Lake
Farm tour
10:45 – 11:30GREAT GARDENER FARM – Shawnigan Lake
Farm tour
11:30 – 12:00On the bus (approx. 30 min)
12:00 – 2:30DABBLE CANNABIS CO – Duncan
Farm tour + catered lunch
Optional swim (no lifeguard on duty)!
2:30 – 2:45On the bus (approx. 15 min)
2:45 – 4:00PURA ANALYTICAL LABS – Duncan
Indoor lab tour
4:00 – 5:00On the bus (approx. 60. min)
5:00SEED & STONE
Retail store visit & surprises!

Massive thanks to our Event Partners for helping to bring events like these to the community. Share your appreciation by learning about their services and connecting on socials!


Police in Ontario seize thousands of cannabis plants from illegal facility

Police in Chatham-Kent, Ontario say they recently seized more than $6 million worth of cannabis from an illegal facility.

On September 8, 2023, members of the Chatham-Kent Police Intelligence Section, with the assistance of the Chatham-Kent Police K9 Unit, executed the search warrant on Story Street in Blenheim as part of an investigation.

Story Street is less than a kilometer long, with both homes and industrial buildings. Blenheim is located about an hour and a half southwest of London Ontario and three and a half hours form Toronto.

Police say they seized approximately $6.1 million worth of illegal cannabis plants in varying stages of growth. Although police did not specify how many plants were seized, police in Canada generally value a cannabis plant at $1,000 each. 

A 40-year-old Blenheim man and a 41-year-old Toronto man were both arrested and charged with cultivating illegal cannabis contrary to the Cannabis Act.

Both men were transported to police headquarters and released with conditions and a future court date of October 12, 2023.Such busts are not uncommon in Southern Ontario, or Chatham-Kent, specifically. In early 2021, Chatham-Kent Police said they had seized more than $25M worth of cannabis plants from four large scale illicit grow operations in the previous six months, including over $7,300,000 in cannabis in a raid of a large greenhouse in September 2020.

Vancouver cannabis store avoids penalties after employee sells cannabis to minor

A cannabis retailer in BC has avoided penalties after an employee sold edibles to a minor in a sting operation. 

A court has found that the company was not responsible for an employee failing to check the ID of a customer due to an extensive training program in place. While the employee was fired for their oversight, the retailer, Eggs Canna, did not have to face a $7,000 monetary penalty or shut down for seven days. 

Here is the sequence of events: On March 26 of this year, as part of an inspection, two BC Liquor and Cannabis Inspectors entered a cannabis store in Vancouver, including one “minor agent” who was only 18 years old. The age of legal access to cannabis in BC is 19. 

The “minor agent” then asked the employee if she could purchase edibles. The employee then directed the inspector to a display where the 18-year-old inspector selected what court records described as a package of Real Fruit Raspberry Chews containing THC 5mg per unit.

Although the staff member advised the minor agent of a 15 percent discount, they did not ask the minor agent what her age was, nor did the employee ask for any identification from the underage agent.

Once the two inspectors left the store with the purchased edibles, a third inspector entered the store, informed the staff member that he had sold cannabis to a minor, and asked for their Selling It Right certificate, which the staff member provided.

Two days later, on March 28, an inspector issued an electronic notice of non-compliance, which led to the issuance of a Notice of Enforcement Action (NOEA) dated April 4, 2023.

In court, the same inspector confirmed that the Licensee, Eggs Canna, had no history of non-compliance and that the contravention alleged in the NOEA was a first offence within a twelve-month period. Because of this, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch fine would be the lowest penalty as set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulation for a contravention of this nature, either $7,000 or a seven-day licence suspension. 

Eggs Canna opted, if found responsible, for a seven-day suspension. 

However, the court found that the owners of Eggs Canna had taken the necessary steps to train their employees to check for IDs as part of a three-day “New Hire Orientation” training program. Eggs Canna’s regional manager also confirmed that the employee who sold cannabis to a minor had been fired following the incident. Eggs Canna also had a policy in place at the time requiring employees to ask for the ID of anyone who appeared to be under the age of 40, and the store’s point of sale system included prompts to ask for ID.

Although the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch argued that Eggs Canna was liable for the employee’s noncompliance, the court ruled otherwise, finding the store had a “strict culture of compliance prohibiting the sale of cannabis to minors.”

The representative for Eggs Canna told the court that she would like to see BC’s regulatory branch more willing to work with industry in a more collaborative manner, using discretion, and not penalizing operators “for missteps as the regulatory framework evolves.”

Eggs Canna has three locations, two in Vancouver and one in Kelowna, and is a legacy-era cannabis retailer. 

Featured image of the interior of an Eggs Canna location.


Pineapple Express ends deliveries following Fire & Flower filing for creditors’ protection

Pineapple Express Delivery, a cannabis delivery company operating in several provinces, closed up shop in the wake of its parent company, Fire & Flower, filing an application for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

Businesses utilizing the service say they were given no notice of the company’s plans to close, and in the case of one province, were left searching for a replacement. An email to Pineapple Express seeking more information was not replied to. An email to Fire & Flower was returned with an auto-reply about the company filing for creditor protection. 

Fire & Flower completed their acquisition of Pineapple Express in 2022, with Fire & Flower’s then-CEO saying the acquisition of Pineapple Express Delivery “marks the final step in building what we believe to be the cannabis industry’s first end-to-end consumer technology experience.” The company paid more than $11 million for the delivery service. 

(note: This article has been edited to note F&F paid $11 million, not $2 million).

Pineapple Express was providing cannabis delivery services in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia. The day after Fire & Flower announced its application for creditor protection, the BC Cannabis Store, which uses the service for deliveries in much of the Lower Mainland, announced it would no longer be offering next-day delivery for customers in the Metro Vancouver area. Instead, delivery will only be offered through Canada Post. 

The announcement was made quietly the day after the provincial retailer temporarily suspended delivery for the Metro Vancouver area after experiencing delays with one of its third-party carriers.

BC had been offering next-day delivery since it announced a partnership with delivery service Pineapple Express in early 2022. The Metro Vancouver region includes Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Delta, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Langley, Port Moody, Surrey and White Rock, as well as parts of Maple Ridge, North and West Vancouver, and Pitt Meadows.

Fire and Flower e-commerce and delivery capabilities utilized its subsidiary Hifyre, a cannabis technology platform, and CannDeliv, a cannabis delivery software platform. A source with Hifyre tells StratCann they are still operating while under CCA. A source close to the issue says the move by Fire and Flower came as a surprise to those at Pineapple Express, which had its operations subsequently shut down across Canada. 

Fire and Flower had recently announced they were entering into a Master Licensing Agreement with Couche-Tard. Couche-Tard had, at the time, committed to developing Fire and Flower branded retail cannabis stores in Ontario. The first five Fire and Flower branded retail cannabis stores were to be opened adjacent to Circle K convenience stores in the Greater Toronto Area at locations which were previously operating as MC Cannabis Inc.


Canadian cannabis producers say the process to vet new products needs an overhaul

Cannabis producers in Canada say the process to notify Health Canada of new products is creating needless paperwork and a significant backlog.

The Notice of New Cannabis Product (NNCP) process requires cannabis producers to inform Health Canada of any new products they intend to sell. This notice must be sent to Health Canada at least 60 days before making those products available for sale. Although the process does not officially endorse products, it is intended to give the federal regulator a chance to review the compliance of products prior to reaching consumers.

But many in the industry say the process has become unmanageable for Health Canada, with insufficient employees or infrastructure to manage the thousands of new notifications producers often send in a shotgun effort to get ahead of the bureaucratic curve. 

Significant backlog

Health Canada tells StratCann that since the regulatory requirement for NNCPs first came into force on October 17, 2019, the regulator has received 86,337 Notices of New Cannabis Product and sent 18,979 requests for more information. These figures are current to April 26, 2023. Health Canada confirmed that eight employees are dedicated to administering this regulatory requirement. This would mean each employee would need to review about a dozen NNCPs per day.

Because of the enormous quantity of NNCPs that come into Health Canada on a daily basis, many products appear to go unnoticed for months, or longer, well after the 60 day notice period has passed and producers have shipped those products off to provincial and/or medical markets. 

Health Canada emphasizes that the NNCP process is not an approval process, which means these products can be available to consumers for some time before the federal regulator even notices them.

The most recent high-profile examples of this are the so-called “edible” or “ingestible” extracts: products like lozenges and gummies that some companies had been, in some cases, selling for well over a year before finally being told by Health Canada that they had to take them off shelves for violating the federal 10mg THC limit for edibles. 

In a similar issue in 2022, one company was told that their cannabis-infused freezies were not compliant, despite being nearly identical to another product that had been on shelves for about a year prior. Shortly after, the company that made the latter product, Radsicles’ Chill Pops, received notice that they also had to stop selling those products. 

Staying true to original names

Jonathan Wilson, the CEO of Crystal Cure, a cannabis producer in New Brunswick, says his company has had to change product names, often several months after they’ve been in the market. Although they didn’t have to pull existing products off shelves, they still had to change product names moving forward, which costs them time and money.

Another problem, he says, is that this can mean being forced to change a well-known “legacy” or black market cultivar name, like Runtz or Wedding Cake, so that they can be compliant with Health Canada’s rules around product names. 

In the case of Runtz, he says they ultimately changed the name to “Red Velvet Runaround” to reflect their frustration with the process. But this means they still have to take steps to communicate the original cultivar lineage and name. 

Crystal Cure’s description for their “Red Velvet Runaround.”

“We’ll tell people through other channels what the true name is because part of our story is to give props to the breeder,” says Wilson. “So now we just have to take one more step to tell that story and stay true to the original names and breeders.”

Wilson says he understands why Health Canada needs a process like the NNCP to monitor new products, but he thinks the system needs to be built in a way that takes into account how the industry will always have an incentive to send in numerous iterations of products in advance to save time in getting to market. 

“There are only going to be more. We’re all unveiling more kinds of products, and products are getting more innovative. This is not going to get any better as far as the number of products Health Canada will need to deal with. As an industry, that’s good. We want more innovation. So if they can’t handle it now, I can’t see how they will handle it going forward, and you’re going to have a mess of some truly non-compliant products on the market. They won’t be able to keep up and get them out.

“I don’t know if removing the process entirely would work because you’d have things going through that are truly non-compliant. I think cutting down some of the red tape needs to happen. They need to give us, the producers, better assurance that they have reviewed it within the 60 days so we aren’t being told months or even years later that we have to take something off of shelves. That’s not acceptable.”

“There are only going to be more….if they can’t handle it now, I can’t see how they will handle it going forward.”

Jonathan Wilson, Crystal Cure

Benny Presman, the founder and president of Weed Me, an Ontario-based producer with hundreds of different products on the market, says part of the problem with the process is simply that Health Canada is overwhelmed with submissions. While the process is a 60-day notice, he says his company has been told to change product names or branding after months, or even a year, of them being available for sale. 

Too much paperwork

“There are so many NNCPs. I think the process should be changed somehow. We don’t necessarily send many in, but speaking with others in the industry, as soon as they get an idea they will send every option and format to Health Canada.”

He doesn’t blame his colleagues who take this approach. It’s just a byproduct of how the system is built and part of why he thinks the regulator needs to revisit the process. 

One cultivar name they had to change was a traditional name, “Goliath,” which they ultimately had to rename as “Go Lie Eth,” then to “Goliat” (as a different LP got an approval under this name) and eventually to “Oliath” because Health Canada deemed the original name as a character from the Bible—the Cannabis Act does not allow products to depict a person, character, or animal, whether real or fictional. 

Weed Me’s Goliath packaging

Weed Me also had to deal with a name change for a Wedding Cake vape that had been available for around a year before they were told to change the name. 

Like Wilson at Crystal Cure, he says their goal is paying homage to the original cultivar names.

“We want to stay true to the original strain name. That’s our main priority and why we do this.”

Although they have never faced any demands to pull products from shelves, even renaming products costs time and money, something companies in this space don’t always have.

Health Canada will again be extending some of its COVID-19 related measures for the cannabis industry

In a memo sent to licence holders on May 4, 2023, Heath Canada says it will be extending certain administration and enforcement adjustments beyond the previously-set September 30, 2023 cut-off. 

The federal health authority has previously extended some of these “flexibilities” on several occasions. These had originally been put in place early on in the pandemic to give licence holders more options for compliance given some COVID-19 related limitations.  

Health Canada says it has now reviewed these measures and, after discussing with stakeholders, will be keeping several of these flexibilities in place beyond the September 30, 2023 deadline. Not all will be extended. Those being extended include:

1. Allowing licence holders to submit additional security clearance applications to fill key positions (responsible person, head of security, master grower, quality assurance person, and their alternates), provided that a rationale for the additional clearance is provided.

2. Activities that do not require physical possession of cannabis can be conducted off-site by licence holders, provided that all requirements of the Cannabis Act and its regulations are complied with, and records are kept and made available to Health Canada upon request. Specifically, the activities that can be conducted off-site are:

Quality Assurance

  • Investigating complaints received in respect of the quality of the cannabis, provided that a complete investigation can be conducted off-site.
  •  Batch record approval by the quality assurance person from a remote location, provided the quality of the cannabis can be adequately assessed without physical possession of cannabis before it is made available.

Facilitating Sale of Cannabis

  • Answering phone calls
  • Registering medical patients
  • Helping individuals to navigate a website
  • Providing product information
  • Taking orders
  • Fulfilling recordkeeping and reporting requirements
  • Entering data and information to comply with monthly reporting requirements for the cannabis tracking system

3. Witnessing the on-site destruction of cannabis by licence holders can be done virtually (using a camera or another device), provided that a copy of the video is retained and is included in the destruction records required to be maintained under the Cannabis Regulations.

4. Permitting holders of an import or export permit to use different ports of entry/exit than those indicated on their permits, provided that all other requirements of the permit are respected.

5. In situations in which a security clearance holder is required to accompany cannabis for off-site antimicrobial treatment or destruction, permitting the security clearance holder to not enter an off-site facility that is authorized, as per the Cannabis Regulations, to possess and produce cannabis. This is permitted so long as the security clearance holder otherwise accompanies the cannabis before it enters and, if applicable, after it exits the off-site facility. 

6. Permitting a packaging date on cannabis products that is plus/minus 4 days of the printed packaging date on the label, provided records of the actual packaging date are kept alongside other required packaging and labelling records as stated in Cannabis Regulations paragraphs 224(2)(b) and 225(2)(b), in the event of recalls. For more information on Packaging and Labelling requirements please consult the Packaging and Labelling Guide. 

Health Canada also notes that licence holders will be given “ample advance notice” in regard to administration and enforcement of these provision changes.

Measures that WILL end September 30, 2023

Previously, Health Canada had allowed medical cannabis producers to accept verbal attestations from patients when filling out their registration application to become a client for medical purposes, rather than requiring patients to provide a signature when they are not able to do so. This allowance will not be extended beyond the September 30, 2023 date. 

Health Canada also reminds stakeholders of their ongoing public consultation on potential amendments to the Cannabis Regulations, which is open until May 24, 2023. 

Health Canada is seeking feedback on potential amendments to the Cannabis Regulations around licensing, security measures, production, packaging and labelling requirements, and record-keeping for licence holders.

In addition, in a 60-day notice of intent published on Friday, March 24, the federal health authority that oversees the cannabis file said it’s considering potential amendments to the Canadian Cannabis Regulations that would seek to streamline and clarify existing requirements, eliminate inefficiencies in the regulations, and reduce administrative and regulatory burdens where possible. Some of these potential amendments relate to some of the pandemic flexibilities. 

The notice also points out that this proposal is separate from the current legislative review of the Cannabis Act, which is primarily focused on the societal impacts of cannabis legalization rather than a regulatory review.


Crossborder cannabis: Detroit to Windsor

Windsor, Ontario has been known as Sin City for as long as most can remember due to a history of rum running, strip clubs, and other forms of more socially permissive entertainment in Canada than in the US. So it was no surprise that when cannabis was legalized in Canada, many entrepreneurs saw a budding opportunity.

Four and a half years into legalization, and while it took a year and a half for the first retail store to open in Windsor during COVID in 2020, today there are roughly 50 open or opening, and 20 more in nearby Essex County.

Windsor shares a border with Detroit, and with Michigan and Illinois having legal medical and recreational cannabis and Ohio with medical cannabis, there are many American cannabis consumers within a three-hour drive of Windsor.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, sixteen percent of Americans consume cannabis, and with the 2021 populations of Illinois (12.67 million), Michigan (10.05 million), and Ohio (11.78 million), totalling roughly 35 million, there’s approximately 5.5 million cannabis users within the three states.

Grassroots Cannabis in Windsor, Ontario. Image via Google Maps

COVID Implications 

When COVID hit and borders closed, all non-essential visits dropped to almost zero – a significant blow to tourism from Americans, representing a 33 percent loss of the visitor market, according to Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI).

“As one of the most free-flowing routes for trade and visitation was cut off instantaneously… [tourism] essentially disappeared…” said Gordon Orr, chief executive officer of TWEPI.

Most out-of-market visitors spend twice as much as domestic customers, meaning that businesses relying on tourism took a double hit, or as Orr said, the tourism industry was hit first and hardest but will also take the longest to recover fully.

Pre-pandemic annual border crossings were 1.7 million, and when the border partially reopened with ArriveCAN and COVID restrictions, the region’s tourist visits only increased to 0.9 million. While most restrictions are gone today, the numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Cannabis Retailers Opening During Covid

Greentown Cannabis opened in June 2020 in downtown Windsor as the city’s second retail cannabis outlet. When cannabis was declared essential by the provincial government, owner Rob Katzman was amazed.

“Isn’t that amazing? Blew me away. But…cannabis is essential,” he said, adding that he was “glad they did.” 

“…it was one lucky thing that we stayed open…[my] other businesses were closed for…twenty-four months, but they allowed [cannabis stores] to stay open like beer stores and liquor stores,” he said. “We couldn’t let people come in the store, and we had to sell through a hole in the door, which made it more uncomfortable to do business, but we were open.”

With COVID restrictions now gone and a border fully open, Windsor cannabis retailers can eagerly cater to American clients, a welcomed change.

In 2020, Windsor Essex hotel occupancy dropped to 33% and climbed to 45% in 2021 before increasing to 51% in 2022, according to TWEPI. There are hopes that number will continue to grow this year.

Most retail business in the downtown Windsor core, where there are three cannabis retail stores, depends on tourists, specifically Americans, who, according to the local chamber of commerce, provide 25% of all revenues.

The impacts of COVID were significant on all local businesses, and this upcoming summer with no COVID restrictions is important for Windsor’s business, according to Rakesh Naidu, president and chief executive of The Windsor-Essex County Chamber of Commerce.

“…this upcoming summer will be the first opportunity for our local tourism sector to get back to pre-pandemic levels. But it’s challenging because we need Americans to know that the restrictions are gone, but we are hopeful,” he said.

Hempstarz, a cannabis accessories shop in Windsor. Image via Google Maps

Serving Americans

While Katzman only had the opportunity to serve an American customer once COVID border restrictions were eliminated, he now sees his customer base expand as tourists return to Windsor.

“[American customers] just started when the border opened, and they dwindled in. We saw American dollars a few at a time, and every week it’s steadily growing,” he said. “With American customers, they’re discovering cannabis in Windsor, and they’re rediscovering Windsor, which is a real positive thing, thank goodness.”

According to Katzman, Caesars Windsor and other entertainment venues help drive business, and he explained that he notices more American currency in his cash registers on the weekends, which is when American tourists typically visit Windsor.

“It’s weekend stuff.  I’ve taken to calling my controller…and [asking] how much U.S. currency we take in over the weekend,” he said. “We’re not seeing much during the week, but the weekend is getting stronger, and it’s encouraging.” 

A benefit of operating businesses in a border city is the currency exchange rate when it is in your favour, says Katzman, because when Americans spend in U.S. currency, “it’s a little bit of a boost…we enjoy the American currency.”

Unlike Katzman’s cannabis retail businesses, Scott Hackney, owner and operator of downtown Windsor’s Grassroots Cannabis Store, is not seeing significant US traffic post-COVID yet.

“US traffic is here but not like it used to be,” said Hackney. “I feel like a lot of businesses went out of business during COVID, there’s not a lot of bars [or] activities [to draw tourists] …and the traffic’s not there yet.” 

What’s the deal with all these SKUs?

When Americans do purchase in Windsor, they do so with a tourist mentality, according to Katzman, meaning smaller quantities that can be used and tossed if necessary at the end of a visit, but what really stands out is the quantity and quality of products to Americans.

“What the Americans don’t have that we have…is nine-hundred plus SKUs (stock keeping units),” he said, adding that Americans are “amazed” at the selection.

At Grassroots Cannabis Store, when Hackney serves American customers, they tend to purchase one single product: pre-rolls.  

“Pre-rolls, that’s it, one pre-roll,” he said. “They’re not really coming in and buying huge amounts.”

More to be desired on both sides of the border

Eric Birkner is a resident of Windsor who purchases cannabis on both sides of the border and often buys in America if spending the day.

He’d purchase more cannabis stateside if he could bring it home, but because that’s illegal, he feels it’s only worth it to purchase if he’s “spending an extended time across the border.”

“Honestly, I find [the products] substantially better [in Michigan],” said Birkner, adding that they’re “all fantastic.” 

Birker appreciates that there are more significant sales, bulk pricing, contests, and giveaways in Michigan.

“As far as what’s available, it’s everything we have here, but without the low THC caps on edibles,” he said. “I found most of the products that I tried to be comparable or better than the ones I’ve bought this side of the border.”

Richard C. Clement is a Detroit resident and cannabis consumer who has visited Windsor numerous times since the 1980s to consume then-illicit cannabis because it was safer for him to do so on the Canadian side of the border.

“I have been visiting Windsor…because it was safer to use my medicine there. While America was giving people long prison sentences for possession, Canada was always a safe haven and a wonderful place to enjoy the plant from God,” he said. “I am glad that there is different leadership in Ottawa, unlike what we had to deal with in America regarding cannabis reform.”

While Clement hasn’t had an opportunity to purchase cannabis legally in Canada because COVID prohibited him from visiting, he plans to soon and has been keeping apprised of what’s available.

Currently, the most significant barrier for Clement to visit Windsor to purchase legal cannabis is a concern that border services on either side might pull him into a secondary search which could result in an arrest.

At Grassroots Cannabis Store, Hackney hears from American customers that while vast product offerings are appreciated, the prices are significantly higher than in downtown Detroit, especially when it comes to vaporizers and disposable vaporizers.

All about that tourism

While it might not be obvious to those who don’t live in border communities, there is a strong reliance on the relationship.

“There’s no doubt that’s the relationship, and it’s of interest to us and good for the city,” said Katzman. “There’s a relationship between higher revenues and more American tourists, and I’m not embarrassed. I’m proud of Windsor because they’re coming over and getting really good products from businesses that are really organized.”

According to Katzman, Windsor has always had the opportunity to present services to Americans they can’t access across the river, whether it be drinking at 19 instead of 21, strip clubs that offer specialized entertainment, and now access to national cannabis in retail stores.

“People really get what they pay for in Canada, and it’s safe with every product inspected, whereas in a US state, you don’t really know what you could be indulging in,” said Katzman, adding that as more Americans visit the border cities to discover cannabis, it’s better not only for cannabis businesses but for the cities too.

Similarly, Hackney says a lot of downtown Windsor’s business is tied to tourism and “without that tourism, I don’t think there’s a lot of opportunities for sales to Americans.”

TWEPI’s chief Gordon Orr is “cautiously optimistic” of reports forecasting increasing tourism traffic but noted that to get to where we were pre-COVID, it will take “two to three more years of uninterrupted growth.”

But for Katzman today, he’s content with what he’s seeing in his cannabis retail stores.

“It’s just fantastic to see Americans discovering us,” he said.

Feature image via Google Maps


Peace Naturals recalls Spinach GMO Cookies pre-rolls from Ontario, Alberta due to inaccurate labels

Peace Naturals Project Inc. has recalled two lots of Spinach GMO Cookies pre-rolls sold in Ontario and Alberta. 

The recall is because the products were labelled with incorrect cannabinoid values, listing the wrong amounts of THC and CBD in the pre-rolls. 

Two separate lots were sold, one with 420 units of product from lot 008397, distributed to Ontario, and the other with 1104 units of product from lot 008406, distributed to Alberta. 

The packages contained ten .35-gram pre-rolls. 

  • The products sold in Ontario were labelled as having 0 mg/g THC (Total THC 260 mg/g) and 0 mg/g CBD (Total CBD: 0 mg/g). They should have shown 26 mg/g THC (Total THC: 228 mg/g) and 0 mg/g CBD (Total CBD: 1 mg/g).
  • The products sold in Alberta were labelled as having 29 mg/g THC (Total THC: 268 mg/g) and 1 mg/g CBD (Total CBD: 1 mg/g). They should have shown 29 mg/g THC (Total THC: 268 mg/g) and 0 mg/g CBD (Total CBD: 1 mg/g).

As of February 8, Peace Naturals Project Inc. had received only one complaint related to incorrect cannabinoid values on the product label. Health Canada has not, as of yet, received any complaints related to the recalled products. Neither Health Canada nor Peace Naturals Project Inc. has received any adverse reaction reports for the recalled cannabis product lot.

Health Canada reminds consumers who wish to return an affected product to contact the retail store where it was purchased.

Health Canada also reminds Canadians to report any health or safety complaints related to the use of this cannabis product or any other cannabis product by filling out the online complaint form.

Peace Naturals faced another recent product recall for inaccurately labelled pre-rolls, this time with the wrong amount of CBG listed.

Inaccurate labelling is one of the most common reasons for cannabis products being recalled in Canada.

Cannabis NB launches Good to Know education campaign

Cannabis NB, the cannabis regulator and retailer in New Brunswick, is launching a new public education campaign to inform consumers about the difference between legal and illegal cannabis. 

The Good to Know campaign is built around data Cannabis NB collected and released in 2021 that showed testing results from different licit and illicit products seized by police. 

The report looked at samples of several cannabis products obtained from markets in New Brunswick, including dried flower and edibles, and tested them for things like THC levels, moulds, heavy metals, and pesticides. 

Testing results showed that the actual THC level in illicit cannabis flower and edibles was often far below the advertised value, as well as having higher than acceptable levels of several microbiological contaminants and pesticides.

In comparison, the legal products also tested as part of the report showed samples well below acceptable levels for microbiological contaminants and pesticides. In most cases, THC levels for legal products were accurate, although some were slightly under and some were outside of acceptable deviation limits.

Seven illicit flower samples and six illicit edible samples were obtained from unlicensed New Brunswick storefronts, along with four legal flower types and five legal edible types from Cannabis NB.

According to Cannabis NB, the Good to Know campaign “promotes the fact that any product not sold by Cannabis NB in New Brunswick is not tested or regulated, nor are illegal vendors held accountable for the claims made about their products.”

The provincial regulator and retailer will be launching the program in the coming weeks on “various websites and social media apps with age-gated ads geared towards a 19+ audience.” 

Starting on Friday, November 18, the campaign will also include full window decals on a number of Cannabis NB stores throughout the province. 

Cannabis NB notes that the core focus of its retail model includes “youth protection, reducing the illicit market, and education, and safety. Cannabis NB stores offer a range of safe, legal products with a one-on-one guided retail experience.”

An example of window decals from Cannabis NB’s Good to Know campaign

Cannabis NB currently has 26 locations in 18 communities across New Brunswick and is in the process of expanding its retail model to include private retailers, pop-up stores, and cannabis farmgate stores

It is currently in the review stage for ten new private locations in the province. The most recent quarterly report shows the provincial agency brought in $4.8 million in profit from $21.7 million in revenue from July 4 to October 2, 2022.

Compared to the same quarter last year, sales of flower, extract, and accessories declined (13.8%, 26.9%, and 18.9% respectively) while sales of edibles, topicals and concentrates increased (42.8%, 130.1%, and 15.4%).

Image via cannabis-nb.com

Liberal MP listed as director of cannabis co. that owes nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes

A recent report in Blacklock’s Reporter contends a Liberal MP was listed as a Director at a cannabis producer that owes the Canada Revenue Agency more than $2 million in unpaid taxes and other deductions. 

The federal parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa Centre), was a director of Eve & Co in the past year, drawing employment income from the federally-licensed cannabis producer. 

Naqvi joined the Eve & Co board in 2020 and was elected as an MP in September 2021. According to one source close to the file, Naqvi left his role with the company prior to these bankruptcy filings. In October 2021, Jeannette VanderMarel replaced Yasir Naqvi on the board of directors. Naqvi resigned as a result of his election as a member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre in the recent federal election.

Naqvi, is also a former Ontario attorney general, and in this role helped oversee the province’s creation and launch of its cannabis sales program.

In March, Eve & Co filed for bankruptcy protection in the Ontario Superior Court. 

According to court records, Eve & Co owed the Canada Revenue Agency $1.9 million along with another $1,434,051 in unpaid excise tax, $267,932 in GST, and $206,660 in unremitted Canada Pension Plan payments and other employee deductions.

According to court documents, the producer also owes the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) $17.5 million on the mortgage of their Ontario facility, among several other creditors. The total debt is listed as $7,049,329.31.

According to Blacklocks, Eve & Co did not disclose what payments were made to Naqvi in his role as a company director.

H/T to Westernstandardonline.com


Cannabis NB introduces FarmGate program

August 20, 2021

Fredericton, NB – Today, Cannabis NB is pleased to announce it is introducing a new addition to its retail model. The Cannabis FarmGate program will allow licensed New Brunswick cannabis producers to sell their own products on-site at their facilities.  

“We are thrilled to launch this program in New Brunswick. There is growing interest from both consumers and producers for this type of initiative across the country and we believe this will create opportunities for the legal recreational cannabis industry,” said Lori Stickles, CEO of Cannabis NB. “The Cannabis FarmGate program will increase visibility for local licensed producers, and provide them with more opportunities to educate customers about their products at their own facility, while also creating potential tourism opportunities.” 

To participate in the program, eligible New Brunswick cannabis producers will submit an application to Cannabis NB for consideration. All cannabis products sold at an approved FarmGate store will be required to be grown, produced and packaged on-site and meet all federal regulations prescribed by Health Canada (including packaging and labelling, excise stamps, social responsibility, testing requirements etc.)

About Cannabis NB 

Cannabis NB, the only legal retailer of recreational cannabis for the province of New Brunswick, is a subsidiary of ANBL and manages retail cannabis sales for the Cannabis Management Corporation. The core focus of the retail model is youth protection, reducing the illicit market, public education, and safety. Twenty stores in fifteen communities offer a range of products with a one-on-one guided retail experience. Cannabis NB’s results are reported on a retail reporting cycle, which is typically a 52-week year. Retail reporting will result in a 53-week year occurring every 5 to 6 years. 

Media contact: Tom Tremblay, Public Relations Specialist, [email protected]  

Cannabis NB annonce la création du programme FarmGate 

Le 20 août, 2021

Fredericton, N.-B. – Aujourd’hui, Cannabis NB est heureuse d’annoncer qu’elle introduit un nouvel élément dans son modèle de vente au détail. Le programme Cannabis FarmGate permettra aux producteurs de cannabis autorisés du Nouveau-Brunswick de vendre leurs propres produits sur place, dans leurs installations. 

« Nous sommes ravis de lancer ce programme au Nouveau-Brunswick. Il y a un intérêt croissant des consommateurs et des producteurs pour ce type d’initiative à travers le pays et nous pensons que cela créera des opportunités pour l’industrie légale du cannabis récréatif », a déclaré Lori Stickles, directrice générale de Cannabis NB. « Le programme Cannabis FarmGate augmentera la visibilité des producteurs locaux autorisés et leur donnera plus d’occasions d’éduquer les consommateurs sur leurs produits dans leurs propres installations, tout en créant des opportunités touristiques potentielles. »

Pour participer au programme, les producteurs de cannabis du Nouveau-Brunswick admissibles soumettront une demande, à Cannabis NB pour examen. Tous les produits du cannabis vendus dans un magasin FarmGate approuvé devront être cultivés, produits et emballés sur place et respecter tous les règlements fédéraux prescrits par Santé Canada (y compris l’emballage et l’étiquetage, les timbres d’accise, la responsabilité sociale, les exigences en matière de tests, etc.)

À propos de Cannabis NB

Cannabis NB, seul détaillant légal de cannabis récréatif pour la province du Nouveau-Brunswick, est une entité d’ANBL et gère les ventes de cannabis au détail pour la Cannabis Management Corporation. L’objectif principal du modèle de vente au détail est la protection des jeunes, la réduction du marché illicite, l’éducation du public et la sécurité. Vingt magasins dans quinze collectivités offrent une gamme de produits avec une expérience individuelle de vente guidée. Les résultats de Cannabis NB sont déclarés selon un cycle de déclaration de vente au détail, qui correspond généralement à un exercice de 52 semaines. Le cycle de rapport de vente au détail donnera lieu à un exercice de 53 semaines tous les 5 ou 6 ans, le prochain exercice de 53 semaines ayant lieu au cours du présent exercice financier.

Personne-ressource pour les médias : Tom Tremblay, [email protected] 


EXKA

Fondée en 2018 par Maxime Paris, docteur en génétique moléculaire végétale et titulaire d’un MBA en commerce international, EXKA est la première entreprise québécoise spécialisée dans la recherche, l’innovation et le développement de produits pharmaceutiques à base de cannabis. 

SCIENCE VÉGÉTALE 

Antoine Boucher, directeur commercial, explique qu’EXKA se positionne dans une catégorie de services techniques et scientifiques avancés. L’activité principale de l’entreprise : la micropropagation, le stockage de matériel génétique et l’extraction.

Q : Quel rôle EXKA veut-elle jouer dans l’industrie du cannabis à court, moyen et long terme ?

RA : EXKA veut être un centre d’expertise essentiel pour l’extraction, un leader dans l’innovation génétique et un service essentiel pour toutes les entreprises du secteur.

INSTALLATIONS

Située à Mirabel, l’entreprise dispose de laboratoires de culture de tissus végétaux, d’un complexe de serres hybrides et d’une usine d’extraction agréée GMP/EUGMP.

EXTRACTION

Avec une capacité d’extraction de plus de 150 000 kilos par an, la branche extraction est le cœur de métier d’EXKA. La complexité de ces procédés exige des équipements de la plus haute qualité à la fine pointe de la technologie, d’où la certification GMP. 

Q : Quel est le but de l’extraction, que recherche l’entreprise et qu’est-ce qui est extrait des fleurs de cannabis ?

RA : Il existe trois techniques d’extraction chez EXKA. L’objectif est d’obtenir soit de l’huile de cannabis, soit du distillat.

La première technique d’extraction vise l’huile de cannabis brute en utilisant un procédé au CO2 supercritique. La seconde, par précipitation d’éthanol, consiste à extraire une huile hivernisée. Le procédé consiste à dissoudre l’extrait dans de l’éthanol, puis à faire baisser la température du mélange. Le froid permet de séparer les composés par des différences dans leurs points de fusion et de précipitation, explique M. Boucher. La troisième et dernière méthode d’extraction vise à obtenir un distillat avec un niveau de pureté supérieur à 95% de cannabinoïdes.

Q : Quels sont les avantages pour EXKA de se spécialiser dans l’extraction ?

RA : Nous sommes à l’aube d’une nouvelle industrie florissante. Les produits à base de cannabis ont un potentiel médicinal incroyable. Nous voulons devenir le premier centre d’extraction de biomasse pour les producteurs de cannabis au Canada et fournir au fabricant de nouveaux produits de cannabis une huile de cannabis de qualité pharmaceutique, fiable, reproductible et constante…

MICROPROPAGATION ET CLONAGE GÉNÉTIQUE

L’un des défis de l’industrie du cannabis est la prévention, l’assainissement et l’hygiène des installations. Les laboratoires in vitro (PTC Labs) permettent aux plantes de sortir sans insectes, maladies ou agents pathogènes, explique M. Boucher.

EXKA a une capacité de production de plus de 5000 clones par jour, ce qui équivaut à plus ou moins 1 à 1,5 million de clones par an.

Q : Pourquoi voulez-vous modifier génétiquement les plantes ? 

RA : Nous travaillons sur le développement de nouvelles génétiques supérieures. Les plantes sur lesquelles nous travaillons sont ultra vigoureuses et ont d’excellents rendements. Contrairement à la méthode classique, nous travaillons avec les cellules souches de la plante, ce qui nous permet d’améliorer l’espèce et donc d’améliorer la qualité des produits finaux.

La beauté, selon M. Boucher, est qu’EXKA peut travailler sur la génétique de son inventaire de plantes, certes, mais cela ouvre aussi un grand accès à la demande actuelle et future pour travailler sur des clones de variétés d’autres entreprises, ce qu’elles n’ont pas nécessairement l’expertise pour faire.

Q : Quels sont les avantages de ces services de clonage ?

RA : Le fait de travailler à partir de cellules souches offre une flexibilité inégalée qui nous permet de répondre à des demandes personnalisées très spécifiques. Par exemple, nous pouvons décider de la forme des plantes en fonction des besoins et des capacités des serres de nos clients.

LA GÉNÉTIQUE DANS LE NUAGE ?

L’obtention d’une excellente génétique est un processus long et coûteux pour de nombreuses entreprises du secteur. Comment pouvons-nous nous assurer que ce travail long et fastidieux est protégé ? EXKA offre la tranquillité d’esprit aux entrepreneurs en fournissant un stockage génétique pour les plantes.

Q : Comment fonctionne le stockage génétique ?

RA : Nous proposons de stocker en toute sécurité dans notre laboratoire PTC un explant des souches préférées de nos clients qui sert de “sauvegarde” de la génétique. Si quelque chose arrive sur le site de production d’un de nos clients, il sera assuré d’obtenir rapidement des plantes avec la génétique originale afin de relancer la production le plus rapidement possible.

10 SERRES

EXKA dispose de 10 serres hybrides reliées par des gouttières mais néanmoins indépendantes, couvrant plus de 28 000 pieds carrés, à partir desquelles il est possible de contrôler la lumière, la ventilation, l’humidité et les niveaux d’irrigation. L’objectif d’avoir 10 serres, explique M. Boucher, est de créer un cycle de récolte hebdomadaire.

Q : Pourquoi avoir des serres ? Prévoyez-vous de vendre des fleurs ?

RA : Non, l’intention d’EXKA derrière les serres est principalement à des fins de R&D. Tous les rendements de la serre doivent être extraits. Elles serviront également à tester de nouvelles variétés et à cultiver des clones pour les clients qui voudront des plantes de 6 à 8 pouces, et pas seulement des jeunes plantules. Les programmes d’hybridation et la production de semences pourraient également avoir lieu dans les serres.

Aider l’industrie

EXKA est convaincue, selon M. Boucher, que s’entraider dans l’industrie est le meilleur moyen de relever les défis d’un marché florissant. Nous espérons que la qualité des produits qui passent par EXKA fera une différence majeure sur les normes de l’industrie.

Cannabis retailer denies accusations made on social media

Representatives from Fire & Flower, a national retail cannabis chain, says there is no truth to an accusation circulating online that employees at one of their stores in Yorkton, Saskatchewan reported a woman for buying too much Cannabis to social services.

The accusation, which originally surfaced on a Facebook post in 2019 by the Saskatchewan Medical Cannabis Association, claimed that employees at the Yorkton store called police on a woman for purchasing too much cannabis. It is claimed that then police referred the call to social services who visited the woman’s house and took her children away. In the same post, the group says “legalization is just as bad as prohibition” and directs people to only use illicit dispensaries.

The claim resurfaced on social media again recently after the same Facebook group re-posted their previous post from June 2019. No evidence has been provided supporting these claims, with the Facebook group attributing the accusation to “a confidential informant”. Attempts to contact the group and their co-founder and spokesperson were not fruitful. 

“Recent social media posts have circulated claims originally made by the Saskatchewan Medical Cannabis Association in June of 2019 about our store in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The claims were fully investigated at that time – they were not true then and are not true now. Our staff have always treated all of our customers with respect and in the spirit of inclusion and support.”

Matthew Anderson – Fire & Flower

A representative from Fire & Flower did respond to a request for comment.

“Fire & Flower is proud of our record as an active and supportive member of the local communities where our employees live and work,” Matthew Anderson Vice President, Legal & Business Affairs and Corporate Secretary told StratCann via email. “Recent social media posts have circulated claims originally made by the Saskatchewan Medical Cannabis Association in June of 2019 about our store in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The claims were fully investigated at that time – they were not true then and are not true now. Our staff have always treated all of our customers with respect and in the spirit of inclusion and support.”

Anderson says Fire & Flower’s legal team will take action against the source of the claim.

“We support all Canadians’ rights to express their viewpoints through peaceful protest, but are disappointed that some have chosen to do so by disseminating blatantly false information. We take the circulation of defamatory claims very seriously, and will take appropriate action to stop their spread.”

MindiCANNA

COMPANY:mindiCANNA Inc
LICENCE TYPE;Micro culture
APPROACH:Intérieur, hydroponique, canettes de mer
TIMELINE:~4 mois (décembre 2019 to avril 2020)
COST:$450,000
FACILITY:Retrofit, 1400ft2

MindiCANNA est l’un des deux premiers microcultivateurs récemment approuvés au Québec. L’entreprise, qui exploite également un service de conseil aux demandeurs de cannabis, a décidé de franchir le pas et d’appliquer les leçons qu’elle a tirées en conseillant les autres à sa propre application.

Maxime Guérin, le directeur des affaires juridiques et du développement commercial de la société, déclare qu’ils sont enthousiastes à l’idée d’entamer la nouvelle étape du processus de licence et de commencer à se concentrer sur la culture de cannabis de qualité en petits lots après avoir aidé de nombreuses autres personnes à naviguer dans le processus de licence.

ESPACE INDUSTRIEL RÉAMÉNAGÉ

Leur installation, un espace industriel réaménagé utilisant plusieurs Sea Cans convertis en chambres de culture, leur a coûté environ 450 000 dollars pour la rénovation et l’équipement, dit Guérin, et contient actuellement environ 1 400 pi2 d’espace de floraison, et environ 400 pi2 de plus pour les plantes, les mères et les clones. L’installation fonctionnera avec une équipe de trois à quatre personnes à plein temps, et quatre ou cinq autres aideront à la récolte et à la taille une fois qu’elles auront atteint ce stade.

LA MICRO LICENCE EST TRÈS INTÉRESSANTE

Leur licence de microculture leur permettra de se concentrer sur des produits de qualité, tout en maintenant des coûts de production bas, dit-il.

« Lorsque vous regardez toutes les licences que vous pouvez obtenir, la micro licence est très attrayante, car vous pouvez vous concentrer sur la production, la rendre peu coûteuse et faire quelque chose qui est plus artisanal. »

« Nous pensons que l’accent doit être mis sur le faible coût de construction de votre bâtiment, les rénovations et tout le reste, afin que votre coût de production soit très faible ».

PRODUIT ARTISANAL DE NICHE POUR LE MARCHÉ QUÉBÉCOIS

En tant que l’un des premiers microcultivateurs au Québec, M. Guérin dit qu’ils sont enthousiastes à l’idée d’essayer de mettre sur le marché ce produit artisanal plus spécialisé, et que leurs discussions avec la province indiquent que le Québec est prêt pour ce genre de produits également.

« Nous savons avec certitude que la province s’intéresse aux produits artisanaux cultivés au Québec. »

Pour l’instant, cependant, ils veulent se concentrer sur l’introduction de matières premières dans leurs installations et sur la culture de leur première récolte, ainsi que sur la recherche d’un transformateur avec lequel ils pourraient s’associer et qui comprendrait le marché québécois.

« Nous savons que la province s’intéresse aux produits artisanaux cultivés au Québec. Nous devons donc passer par une autre société de production et nous assurer que la société de production avec laquelle nous nous associons comprend les besoins du marché québécois. Jusqu’à présent, nos discussions ont été très intéressantes, et nous pensons que nous parviendrons à un partenariat avec une société de production qui a cette idée en tête ».

Il souligne également que ce n’est que la prochaine étape de ce qui sera un long processus.

« Nous voulons prendre des mesures sûres sur ce marché et nous voulons d’abord nous concentrer sur la culture ».

SE CONCENTRER SUR LA CULTURE

« Les premières choses d’abord. Nous allons nous concentrer sur la culture pour le moment. Nous voulons prendre du temps, regarder ce qui se passe, afin de pouvoir obtenir les meilleurs produits et nous préparer aux besoins du marché. Je pense qu’en ce moment, tout le monde doit prendre du recul et regarder le marché parce qu’il y a beaucoup de changements qui vont venir avec la COVID-19, et en considérant les crises économiques qui vont suivre. Nous voulons prendre des mesures sûres sur ce marché et nous voulons nous concentrer d’abord sur la culture”.

« Cela a été un sacré voyage et nous sommes très conscients que ce n’est que le début d’un autre voyage à commencer. Il nous reste à le mener à la production, à passer tous les tests, à nous assurer que nous pouvons vendre nos produits, mais c’est un grand soulagement d’en arriver là pour pouvoir entrer dans le jeu avec les autres acteurs et dire que nous sommes pleinement dans ce secteur ».

LES CONSULTANTS QUI COMPRENNENT LE PROCESSUS PEUVENT AIDER

Malgré ces nouveaux départs, Guérin et le reste de l’équipe de MindiCANNA ont abordé le processus d’une manière tout à fait unique, puisqu’ils ont l’expérience de la consultation d’autres candidats. Cette expérience, dit-il, les a aidés à comprendre comment monter la meilleure demande dans un délai assez court, avec environ 5 mois qui s’écoulent entre la présentation de leur dossier de preuve et la délivrance de leur licence de culture.

Nous avons une bonne compréhension de la philosophie qui sous-tend l’obtention d’une licence en travaillant avec d’autres producteurs licenciés et en apprenant de ce qu’ils ont fait, cela nous a permis de bien comprendre le processus de Santé Canada.

Bien que certains le fassent eux-mêmes, et que certains consultants puissent donner une mauvaise réputation à l’industrie, M. Guérin affirme que travailler avec une agence de consultants qui comprend le processus peut absolument aider.

« Nous croyons qu’avec des professionnels comme nous, qui comprennent le processus et la façon dont Santé Canada voit les choses, cela facilite le processus. Mais il faut trouver les bonnes personnes. Il y a beaucoup de consultants sur le marché qui n’ont aucune formation juridique et parfois nous voyons et entendons parler, ou recevons des documents, de personnes qui n’ont aucune connaissance juridique. Nous nous rendons compte que parfois les gens paient trop cher pour quelque chose qui ne les aide pas à obtenir une licence ».

« Il n’y a pas de surprises, il faut juste être patient. Et bien sûr, si vos documents sont en règle et sont bons – si vous envoyez des documents que vous devez modifier trois ou quatre fois, cela va être, bien sûr, plus long que si vous le faites un coup par coup, et c’est ce que nous avons fait. »

OPPORTUNITÉS SUR LE MARCHÉ CANADIEN DU CANNABIS

Bien qu’il se garde bien de souligner qu’ils ont encore un long chemin à parcourir, M. Guérin voit beaucoup d’opportunités pour le marché du cannabis au Canada à mesure que l’industrie mûrit et que davantage de producteurs comme MindiCANN sont capables d’approvisionner le marché avec du cannabis artisanal de plus en plus spécialisé et en petits lots.

« Je pense que le consommateur en aura fini avec l’achat d’herbe de fossé provenant d’installations plus grandes, lorsqu’il aura accès à plus de “bud” de qualité et à quelque chose de meilleure qualité et qui a ce sens de l’artisanat. Je pense que c’est l’avenir du cannabis au Canada”.

Carl Richard, le maître producteur de l’entreprise, qui cultive le cannabis dans le cadre du RAMM puis de l’ACMPR depuis le début des années 2000, se dit enthousiaste à l’idée de commencer à commercialiser un produit de meilleure qualité pour aider le marché plus “connaisseur” qui achète encore principalement au marché noir.

Richard compare la transition vers un système commercial entièrement réglementé au passage du hockey de rue à la LNH. Selon lui, c’est la qualité du produit sur les étagères qui aidera le connaisseur à passer du marché noir au marché légal.

Comme le dit Richard, à la fin “Le plus important, c’est la plante !


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