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Vape Illness Spooks Sector Before Legalization 2.0

Public Domain

As the US vaping crisis continues, the Canadian cannabis sector worries the health scare will stifle the regulated vape-pen industry before it can even become legal.
Reuters, FinFeed

  • A second Canadian case of VAPI (vaping-associated pulmonary illness) appeared in Quebec. This is the first "confirmed" Canadian VAPI case (the other, in London, is "suspected"). Both cases were related to nicotine products.
    Ici Radio-Canada—In French
  • Health Canada warned Canadians who use vaping devices to "monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness."

Many struggling companies hoped legal extracts and the anticipated vape-pen boom would turn their fortunes around, as the Cannalysts' Craig Wiggins told Bloomberg. (That's why companies have been stockpiling low-grade flower.)
GrowthOp, Bloomberg

Social media posts warned a batch of shatter made by illicit Canadian extracts-seller Phyto is contaminated with something (possibly pine resin, or silica) that leaves white grease on dabbers' lips. Others warned of the same issues with Green Goblin–brand illicit shatter.
Twitter—Val Thornton, Dan Goulet, Bohn681

In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, 15 US physicians who biopsied the lungs of VAPI patients repudiated suggestions that oil accumulation in the lungs (such as many suspected was the product of vitamin E oil) is a cause. "Instead," one author noted, "it seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents."

  • Data analysts Headset (who have advertised on WeedWeek) found US legal sales of vape-pens has declined since the beginning of the scandal, but suggested that because most illness has been associated with illicit products, sales may rebound as customers switch from bootleg vape carts to the legal market.

For more on the vape crisis, subscribe to the primary WeedWeek newsletter written by Alex Halperin.


Conservatives to Quebec: "Legalization Sucked"

Though cannabis has largely gone unmentioned during this election campaign, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer chided prime minister Justin Trudeau over legalization during the French language debate. Though Scheer has been quiet on the subject of cannabis, Quebec—the primary audience for the French debate—is markedly less canna-friendly than the rest of the country, and Scheer's hoping to expand Conservative seats in the province.
Business in Vancouver, Leafly

  • Responding to the moderator's question, "Do families have reason to worry about the legalization of edible cannabis?" Scheer said, "Mr. Trudeau passed this bill [hastily]. He ignored the worries of premiers, of the provinces, of health experts, and families."
  • Scheer argued Trudeau promised to get cannabis out of criminals' hands and reduce youth consumption, "and those two things there, they continue to exist. The justification doesn't match the results." He said his party would "invest in research" to make certain "medical professionals know the consequences of consuming cannabis. […] We will focus on eliminating dependence [on drugs]." TVA Nouvelles—Video in French, My Translation

In July 2019, the Canadian cannabis sector's GDP was $8.26B (in 2012 dollars). The licensed industry's GDP was $3.85B, while the unlicensed industry's GDP was $4.16B. The legal cannabis industry has grown 185% since legalization, and the illicit sector has contracted by 21% since that time. Twitter—David George Cosh, CTV Election

Quick Hits

  1. Banks haven't recovered from the CannTrust meltdown: not only are they less eager to make investments, but some won't even let legal REC/MED businesses open accounts.
    Financial Post, Business in Vancouver
  2. Hopefully striking a mortal blow against the Indica-Sativa divide, Leafly debuted a new graphic system of visual classification for cultivars (many of which are hybrids) indicating THC and CBD content (with shapes) and terpene content (with colours), as well as general potency.
    The Star, GeekWire

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New Products Coming, Or Not

Public Domain, Amazingly

In two weeks, cannabis ingestibles, extracts, and topicals will be legalized, and the first products will hit the market 60 days from October 17.

Based on US prices, some rosin varieties will sell in Canada for more than $200 per gram, while hybrid CBD-CBG products are beginning to appear on the US market.
Twitter—bROSIN Co.

Aurora government relations manager Kym Purchase noted, "The number of seniors using cannabis has increased ten-fold." Judging from conversations with my older family members loath to smoke anything, many more seniors may be waiting to try 2.0 products.
Twitter—Ontario Chamber of Commerce

The Canadian Health Food Association pushed back against Health Canada's plan to classify CBD products as Cannabis Health Products, saying consumers shouldn't have to buy CBD only from REC retailers. Hemp producers argue regulations are unreasonable and constraining.
Hemp Industry Daily, MJ Biz Daily, Grizzle, GrowthOp

Quick Hits

  1. If your grandparents are a lot more eager than you expect to try MED, just go with it. If not, mention MED could reduce the number of pills they take.
  2. During an episode of Cannabis Update Podcast, investor "Ethical Grasshopper" noted between REC and MED, "We’re kicking out 3-5 million units of virgin plastic as an industry every month across the country."
    Twitter—Cannabis Update Podcast

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Ontario Retail Update

An Ontario appellate judge dismissed the motion for an interim stay of the REC retail lottery by 11 disqualified lottery winners, saying it would likely harm the public interest. That means the process of licensing and opening Ontario's next 42 stores will continue.

Last week's news the Ford government is considering allowing LPs to sell directly to retailers has insiders excited even as stocks fell on the news of impending procedural shakeup.

Wes Weber, co-owner of illicit Toronto dispensary chain CAFE and former ace counterfeiter, may get 16 months in prison after he pled guilty to violating an Ontario Securities Commission order banning him from trading securities for 15 years.
CBC Toronto

Quick Hits

  1. Jeffrey Brodie who lived upstairs from evicted Toronto dispensary CAFE, won't be allowed to go home, since, the judge noted, that would essentially reopen CAFE.
  2. Where in the Canadian cannabis sector is Globe reporter Jameson Berkow?
    Globe and Mail


LPs Still Merging, Acquiring

OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology

Canopy pushed further into the US CBD market with its acquisition of US energy-drink maker BioSteel Sports Nutrition. The company bought 72% of BioSteel for an undisclosed amount in an all-cash transaction and will produce a line of CBD-infused sports drinks like BioSteel's pink beverages enjoyed in the dugout by most of my favourite baseball players.
Globe and Mail, Bloomberg

Quick Hits

  1. Canadiana nerds will be stoked both the name and logo of REC retail buyers' co-op the Saskatchewan Weed Pool refer to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, formed in 1923 to get farmers fair prices for grain.
    CBC Saskatoon
  2. Organigram shut down and cleaned two of the cooling towers at its Moncton production facility after finding "elevated bacteria counts"—seemingly synonymous with a New Brunswick report identifying western-Moncton cooling towers as the source of a legionnaire's disease outbreak.
    CBC New Brunswick


First Nations Leaders Ask Ottawa for Exemption From Cannabis Act

Jesse Staniforth

First Nations leaders argued that no matter who wins the coming election, that government will need to give First Nations jurisdiction over cannabis law within their territories.

Quick Hits

  1. Tyendinaga Legacy 420 dispensary worker/journalist Jordan Brant spent August buying only legal cannabis and documented spending and product quality. The amount of cannabis he consumes in a month cost $642.82 from the Ontario Cannabis Store—and $360 from his dispensary in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
    Twitter—Jordan Brant
  2. Pot-stocks pugilist Betting Bruiser reported the Ontario Cannabis Store is offering product procurement for Cannabis beverages at rates of "$2.50 335ml can, $2.75 473ml tall can, $8.15 750ml bottle—Effectively making it 2x-3x more expensive then Beer."
    Twitter—Betting Bruiser


Data: Cannabis At Work Isn't a Problem

Despite widespread employer anxiety ahead of legalization, most Canadians didn't start getting baked before work on October 17.
CBC Ottawa, Business in Vancouver

Quick Hits

  1. How has legal REC and MED affected Atlantic Canada? There are long waits for MED, doctors warn against youth using REC, and employers remain nonsensically afraid legalization will mean employees are "too wasted to work."
  2. Trina Fraser thumbed through the Quebec Superior Court decision quashing the provincial home-grow ban. The Court noted Quebec has the right to limit home growing to fewer than four plants, but not to ban growing outright.
    Twitter—Trina Fraser


Queens Cardiologist: MED isn't Medical, REC Effects Are Not "Net-Positive"

Public Domain

Queen's University vice-dean (clinical) and cardiologist Dr. Chris Simpson told the Canadian Stroke Congress THC may encourage development of blood clots connected to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure. A press release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation announcing Dr. Simpson's statement also worried about cyclical vomiting, and the potential for edibles to be overconsumed by those who don't wait long enough to find out if they're working.

  • "The harm seems to greatly exceed any potential benefits," Simpson said. "There is this huge popular misconception about cannabis, driven by social media and the cannabis industry, that it is a medicine or it is harmless."
  • Simpson, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, claimed smoking a joint raises the risk of heart attack within an hour as much as shovelling snow would.
    Ottawa Citizen
  • Responding to criticisms on Twitter of his comments, Simpson said, "There is a lot of promise for CBD, but THC-rich products (particularly combusted) probably do more harm than good."
    Twitter—Dr. Chris Simpson

Quick Hits

  1. Want to buy the one REC retail store in Whitehorse? Do you have $87,000?
    Yukon Tender Management System
  2. Impaired driving hasn't increased in Saskatchewan since legalization.
    Discover Estevan


Disappointment Reigns over Retail

A Kelowna man bought a TerrAscend Haven Street prerolled joint and after trying several times to light it, realized it contained a piece of a desiccated pencil and no flower at all.
Kelowna Now

  • The retailer (a Hobo Cannabis store) and the BC Liquor Distribution Branch both said the pencil was the LP's problem.
  • TerrAscend published a statement announcing they were launching an internal investigation. They reiterated on Twitter, "We do not use any wood or pencils in our production space and as such are conducting an investigation to determine the source of the material."

A Twitter user reported finding mouldy buds in a 3.5g package of Canopy's Tweed Baker Street cultivar.
Twitter—Brian MacDonald

Women's MED advocacy group SheCann noted complaints from their membership that THC content of established cultivars has been decreasing batch over batch.

Quick Hits

  1. Despite its products being under glass and behind a counter, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis has lost $1,500 worth of product to assiduous thieves.
    Ici Radio-Canada—In French


Gene Simmons Still Costing Invictus

Vancouver MED LP Invictus reported a $4.6M writedown on the entire value of Simmons's company Gene-Etics Strains, which Simmons sold to Invictus in 2019 for USD$2.5M in cash and 6.5M Invictus shares.
Globe and Mail

Quick Hits

  1. Total bummer: Corrections Canada intercepted three packages containing 780 grams of dry flower dropped by drone into Kingston's Collins Bay correctional institution.
    Global News

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