Thursday marked the first anniversary of REC legalization. Among many articles assessing the year in review, some found the results of legalization relatively positive, while others defined legalization by its ethical failures, and still more noted consumers dissatisfied with prices, quality, and product availability.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation, The Star, Maclean's, The Leaf
In 2018, police made 34,441 arrests under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and 1,370 arrests under the Cannabis Act—the lowest such numbers since 1969-1970.
Statistics Canada, Twitter—Chris Goodwin
Physical REC stores are the engine for most sales, and because outside of Alberta the REC retail rollout has ranged from slow (Quebec) to protracted (Ontario), that's kept sales low. However, having opted against a central-warehouse distribution system like Ontario's, Quebec's SQDC monopoly became profitable in Q1 of its second year.
The Conversation, Bloomberg
Indigenous cannabis sellers remain "in legal limbo" thanks to a complex patchwork of Supreme Court decisions regarding First Nations' rights. CBC Indigenous
With 9,200 people employed (and numbers increasing) in an industry that contributes $8.26B to the Canadian economy and plenty of taxes, aspects of legalization can be celebrated as successes. Other smaller-ticket achievements include a faster (though more restrictive) Health Canada licensing process, and provincial and municipal governments softening on retail and processing. Those good things help offset the parts of the last year that stank:
Botaniq, Bloomberg, Twitter—CannaTom
The industry remains frustrated and confused with Health Canada's strict-yet-vague advertising regulations. Among the unclear regulations that came into effect on Thursday are new rules limiting REC retail logos and brand elements to no larger than 300 square centimetres, or about the size of a shoebox lid--but without clear guidance on the places that rule was to be applied.
The illicit market remains "vibrant" according to virtually all estimations, helped by minimal REC retail rollouts and prices nearly half that of the legal market.
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As of this October 17, extracts (and vape pens), ingestibles, and topicals are now legal for licensed parties to produce and sell—once they get Health Canada approval on new products. That'll take some time--minimum 60 days.
Globe and Mail, CTV News, Financial Post
Edibles are experiencing an uptick in interest as a result of the US vaping-illness (VAPI) crisis. A new Ipsos poll found 63% of Canadian cannabis users are concerned about the safety of vaping, while 73% say they're likelier to use ingestibles instead of vaping.
Ipsos, The Star
Edible and beverage products will likely come to market later, and they will be limited to a maximum of 10mg THC per package. There will be no stronger-dose edible products for MED patients.
Globe and Mail, CBC British Columbia
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Quebec always has to do things its own way, which is why my home province will be banning all extracts with more than 30% THC—effectively banning all extracts and vape pens.
Despite la belle province's confused feelings about legalization, Quebec's REC users prefer the illicit market for the usual reasons: Montreal's delivery services are fast, friendly and cheap, while visits to SQDC outlets (all of which close at 9:00 pm) require waits in long lines. Those who shop at the SQDC are generally happy with the crown corporation, however. (Meanwhile, at least you can smoke cannabis outside in Montreal. Quebec City has given 97 tickets and $150 fines to people smoking cannabis in public places.) Leafly, Montreal Gazette, Ici Radio-Canada—French
In the midst of its own troubles, SQDC principal supplier Hexo announced the launch of Original Stash, a budget brand boasting the lowest-cost legal REC in Canada with 28-gram bulk bags selling for $125.70 with sales taxes included, or $4.49 per gram (less than half the national average of more than $10 per gram). These are the first one-ounce (28 gram) REC packages available in Quebec.
The Ontario Cannabis Store announced it was consulting with LPs and REC retailers about "increasing private sector participation in the delivery of [REC] to stores across Ontario." This will likely eventually end the OCS's central warehouse and role in wholesaling, and allow LPs to sell directly to retailers. It would also make the brick-and-mortar REC retail sector fully private.
Scandal-plagued LP CannTrust announced it will destroy $12M in unlicensed biological assets and $65M in unlicensed inventory in order to regain regulatory compliance.
New Cannabis Ventures, CBC Business
With cannabis stocks at their lowest point since 2017, industry investors are desperate for good news. They found it in Aphria's report of their second profitable quarter, despite analyst predictions of a coming loss.
Bloomberg, PR NewsWire, Bloomberg
Real-estate company RE/MAX released its 2019 Cannabis Survey, concluding the cannabis industry is resulting in localized housing-market "micro-booms" in communities surrounding major cannabis production sites like Smith's Falls and Leamington. The result has been spiking prices and some housing shortages.
NewsWire, Re/Max Huffington Post
Contrary to rumours Health Canada would stall legalization of vape pens, those products became legal this week along with edibles and topicals. Nonetheless, some doctors are warning Canadians against using even legal, regulated REC vape products.
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