The Bis Weekly News Update – April 7 to April 13

It’s that time again.

The week has closed, and The ‘Bis is back with another cannabis news roundup. It’s been an interesting week in Cannabis (when is it not!?) as the Ontario government has released its plans to allow more cannabis retail locations, the founder of Joe Fresh’s company is investing in cannabis, and more.

Strap in and stay in the know with The Bis Weekly News Update for April 7 to April 13.

Ontario’s Budget 2019 gets (a little) green

Photo by Richard Kidger on Unsplash

Ontario released its provincial budget on Thursday, and while little of the document had much to do with cannabis, a few pages were spared for the issue. The most prominent of which being increasing the amount of private cannabis retail stores allowed to operate within its borders.

In a section titled “A Responsible Approach to Opening Cannabis Stores across Ontario,” the Ontario Progressive Conservative government blames ongoing shortages on the “federal government’s mismanagement” of the cannabis file and lays out their plan to ramp up the number of licensed retailers.

“By choosing to throw open the doors to cannabis legalization without first taking into account the reliability and sustainability of the national cannabis supply,” the document reads, “the federal government is failing to curb the growth of the illegal cannabis market while also creating widespread business uncertainty for the people and businesses seeking to make a living in this new industry.”

Now, Doug Ford’s government wishes to move in a direction of open licensing that will only be limited by the cannabis market’s potential. Currently, the PCs have only chosen to license 25 business to distribute cannabis legally. The only other legal source is through the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website.

To aid in the ease of obtaining these licenses, the Ontario government says once they feel the feds have made substantial progress on addressing supply issues they will develop a process that will allow the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to “pre-qualify operators that seek to enter the market and participate in future allocations of retail store authorizations.”

According to the document, the pre-authorization process will include:

  • The payment of a fee or obtaining a standby letter of credit;
  • Financial information, including information about corporate structure and affiliates;
  • Criminal and other background checks; and
  • Information confirming lease or ownership interests in potential retail store locations.

The PCs note that when the licensing process opens again it will include municipalities with a population of less than 50,000 and First Nation communities.

Joe Fresh founder and Dragon adds more cannabis to his portfolio

High Park Ventures, a private investment company under chairman Joe Mimran — the former Dragon’s Den entrepreneur and Joe Fresh clothing founder — is sinking $15 million into a private placement investment with Pivot Pharmaceuticals.

According to a press release, the closing of the deal will see Mimran join Pivot’s advisory committee along with High Park’s CEO Krisztian Toth, who will join Pivot’s board.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe Mimran to Pivot’s advisory committee and receive the investment from High Park Ventures,” said Pivot’s CEO, Dr. Patrick Frankham. “With the investment and support provided by the High Park Ventures Team, we are able to implement and accelerate our initiatives.”

This isn’t the first pot-related venture for Mimran, who also invested in Tokyo Smoke’s parent company, Hiku Brands, and — after the company was acquired — sits as an independent director on Canopy Rivers.

High Park Ventures itself also has experience in the cannabis space. The press release credits the team as founding NettaGrowth International Inc., who obtained the first license to produce medical cannabis with THC for commercial use in Uruguay. NettaGro was sold to Khiron Life Sciences Corp. on January 25, 2019.

“We are excited to work with the Pivot Team,” said Toth, on her new role,” and assist them with the development, commercialization and branding of premium quality cannabinoid-based nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals and leveraging the worldwide rights of their patented drug delivery technologies.”

Toronto’s second cannabis store is now open

Screen capture taken from Google Maps

he second legal cannabis retailer is now open in Toronto. After being issued their operator’s license just days before the first day of legal cannabis retails, April 1, retailer Ameri has opened the doors to customers.

According to reports from CBC, the store, located at 20 Cumberland St., has opened up shop in the same location as a former MMJ Dispensary. Residing inside Toronto’s affluent Yorkville area, Ameri is a short walk from the Royal Ontario Museum.

The opening doesn’t appear to have been garnered the same fanfare as the city’s first location, The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., which managed to make it on the list of the 11 stores that opened on the first day of legal sales across the province, and drew a significant crowd of customers and media alike on opening day.

The report says the store opened on Sunday, April 7. Lines were not wrapped around the street corner, as with their nearby competitor, but pictures show several people waiting for the store’s opening. CBC, and other news outlets, only identify employees by their first name, reportedly to prevent potential problems when travelling to the United States.

Ameri has no public social media or a website. Nor is it registered on Weepmaps, an app that helps users find both licensed and unlicensed dispensaries.

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