The Bis Weekly News Update – January 4 to 10

As the early part of 2019 continues to tick on by, more progress is being made in the world of Canadian cannabis. From coast to coast to coast (don’t forget the north), the cannabis industry continues to grow and expand.

This week there’s one of the country’s largest cannabis conferences happens in Vancouver this weekend, one retail hopeful is setting up shop in downtown Toronto and more. This is The ‘Bis weekly cannabis news roundup. 

The Vancouver Lift Cannabis conference is this weekend

One of Canada’s biggest and most highly-anticipated cannabis trade show is coming to Vancouver next weekend.

The Lift & Co. Cannabis Expo is back in the city, offering wall to wall opportunities to meet and learn from those working in Canadian pot.

The event is geared towards everyone from patients to consumers, industry professionals, and investors. It’s set to feature over 200 exhibitors from around the world, informed speakers, as well as representatives from major companies across Canada and the world.

There’s also going to be live cooking and growing demos, a TVape lounge, as well as a cannabis career fair, giving attendees the chance to learn all about this new fast-paced industry.

Taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West it is $55 for weekend pass and $20 per day.

Fire & Flower sets up shop in downtown Toronto

An upscale cannabis retailer with locations across Saskatchewan and Alberta has set its sights on one of the country’s most desirable retail environments, downtown Toronto.

The company, Fire & Flower, has kept a lid on public statements about moving storefronts into Toronto. Only a short still of a blurry Toronto skyline posted to their Instagram stories indicates that they will “see you soon, Ontario.” However, as revealed in a report by Retail Insider, Fire & Flower is setting up shop in an affluent Toronto shopping district.

Signage for their location at 95 Bloor Street West is already up, occupying the space formerly belonging to Strellson, a menswear retailer.

The Bloor Street West location offers both visibility from Yorkville Avenue, Cumberland Street and Bellair Street as it sits in the middle of the intersection of Bloor and Bellair. The location offers its tenants two floors of display area, for a full 3,600-sq-ft of retail space.

It is located directly across the street from the new Hermes flagship store and neighbours other high-end tenants including MCM, COS, Holt Renfrew Men and Dolce & Gabbana, according to CBRE Limited, the real estate brokerage listing the property.

The move comes in the wake of an Ontario government decision to only approve 25 private cannabis locations in April 2019. The stores will be selected by a random lottery and overseen by a third party.

This Friday will see the names of the 25 Ontario dispensaries revealed

All this week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has been taking applications in their lottery to license the first 25 legal cannabis storefronts in the province.

When the newly-elected Ontario PC government decided to switch to a private model of cannabis sales in 2018, the onus was on them to develop regulations and licensing for their self-imposed April 1, 2019 deadline.

The Ford government chose to license 25 storefronts to start in order to avoid the shortages that have plagued many other provinces, including Alberta and Quebec.

EOI applications will be accepted online from 12:01 am EST on January 7, until 12:00 pm EST January 9, 2019. The AGCO says there is no advantage or disadvantage to when an application is submitted during this timeframe. The lottery will be held on January 11 and is being overseen by KPMG Canada, one of the world’s largest auditing companies.

To participate in the lottery, potential applicants are required to pay a non-refundable EOI fee of $75.

The AGCO rules state that potential applicants should be prepared to sell cannabis by April 1, 2019, and be ready to comply with requirements under the Cannabis Licence Act, its regulations, and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

Businesses must also be “committed to act in accordance with the AGCO’s mandate to ensure that Ontario’s cannabis retail environment operates with integrity, honesty, and in the public interest.”

After being selected, businesses chosen in the lottery will have five business days to submit a Retail Operator Licence Application including a non-refundable $6,000 fee payment, while also providing a $50,000 letter of credit.

With some businesses already carving out retail space in Toronto, the announcement of lotto winners on January 11 can’t come soon enough.

Shoppers Drug Mart’s online store has gone live

Shoppers Drug Mart is now the latest in a growing list of legal weed dealers, having officially launched cannabis sales today, January 8.

Just don’t expect to see OG Kush next to the baby aspirin anytime soon, as Shoppers will only be selling cannabis online. Those looking to partake should head to Shoppers’ new online cannabis portal,

“As trusted medication experts, pharmacists have an important role to play in the safe and informed use of medical cannabis,” said Jeff Leger, president, Shoppers Drug Mart. “Medical cannabis, like any prescribed medication, requires the same level of counsel from a healthcare professional. As medical cannabis is increasingly prescribed to Canadians for its therapeutic benefits, our goal is to enhance the service and support that patients receive through this process.”

Currently only providing service to Ontario, the site offers a selection of cannabis to medical users. You cannot order from the site without the proper Medical Document — a form, similar to a prescription, obtained through a medical physician — and going through a simple but multi-stage process.

Patients in Ontario can bring their document to a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy, where their staff will process the information. According to the release, specialized advisors from the Shoppers Cannabis Care Centre will contact patients, review their medical history and any contraindications based on current medications, and provide support with online registration and strain selection.

This is a standard process that medical cannabis users in Canada have to take to receive medicine and is not unique to Shoppers. There is no timeline offered by the site for how long this process could take.

According to the company, the Shoppers Drug Mart Medical Advisory Board, a “panel of independent medical experts from across the country who provide guidance and advice on new clinical evidence,” have developed clinical algorithms to help their advisors select the correct strain based on the prescriber’s recommendation.

Shoppers Drug Mart has currently signed agreements with ten licensed producers and also begin providing products and medical accessories for cannabis.

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