The ‘Bis weekly news update – July 28 to August 3, 2018

The world of weed in Canada is anything but boring. It’s been an exciting week for cannabis in the news.

Hexo has teamed up with one of the countries most successful brewers to created drinkable pot, police in Ontario make a huge bust of a licenced grow-op producing well beyond their limits and one cannabis retailer has upped the ante on hiring across the country.

These are the top pot stories for July 28 to August 3, 2018, on The ‘Bis.

Molson Coors Canada teams with Hydropothecary to create THC infused drinks

Molson Coors Canada and The Hydropothecary Corporation’s recreational brand, Hexo, have partnered together to develop a non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverage for the Canadian market following legalization.

The joint venture will be structured as a standalone start-up company with its own board of directors and an independent management team. Molson Coors Canada will have a 57.5% controlling interest in the JV, with HEXO having the remaining ownership interest.

The new company will combine the experience of Canada’s leading brewer with a recognized innovator in the fast-growing cannabis sector to explore the highly anticipated consumable cannabis market, which is expected to become legal in Canada in 2019.

“Canada is breaking new ground in the cannabis sector and, as one of the country’s leading beverage companies, Molson Coors Canada has a unique opportunity to participate in this exciting and rapidly expanding consumer segment. This new venture is consistent with our growth strategy and our commitment to being First Choice for Consumers and Customers by ensuring that Canadians have access to high-quality products that meet their evolving drinking preferences,” said Frederic Landtmeters, President and CEO of Molson Coors Canada. “We remain a beer business at our core.”

National Access Cannabis begins hiring blitz across Canada

National Access Cannabis, an Ottawa based cannabis retailer, is expanding its profile across the country and taking on a serious amount of new staff as it does.

Already a major player in the medical marijuana market, NAC has received publicity for their partnering with Second Cup to create the recreational brand Meta Cannabis Supply.

According to an article posted in the Ottawa Business Journal, NAC chief executive Mark Goliger says the firm expects to have 30 dispensary locations operating in time for the federal legalization.

Five of those locations will be in Manitoba, where the firm announced earlier this month it had secured retail licenses. More will be in Alberta, where the firm is waiting on permits before breaking ground.

“It could be up to 700 people we have to hire in the next three-to-five months,” he told the publication.

At the firm’s Ottawa headquarters, Goliger says a dozen “key employees” will be added soon in areas such as marketing, real estate development and HR. Elsewhere in Ontario, NAC is also rapidly scaling up operations at its newly-opened Toronto offices.

People charged with cannabis-related crimes is the lowest it’s been in 20 years

According to Statistics Canada, the instance of people being charged with cannabis possession has continued to decline for the sixth year in a row.

Police around the country reported that 13,768 people were charged with possession of up to 30g of cannabis in 2017. That’s a significant decline from the 17,720 people charged in 2016 and 25,819 in 2013.

The numbers have shown a downward trend since 2011, according to Stats Can’s ‘incident-based crime statistics.’

Veterans Affairs will not be lifting its cap on medical marijuana reimbursement

Veterans Affairs Canada has been expanding its medical marijuana program for the past several years, but according to documents obtained by the CBC, that practice is at an end.

“At the present time, there are no plans to change the maximum daily reimbursement limit of the three grams per day, or to amend the criteria for the exceptional approval for reimbursement of the more than three grams per day,” said Sandra Williamson, the VA’s senior director for health care programs.

In an internal departmental briefing note released in February, it was indicated that a review is potentially coming and referenced a directive from Treasury Board to report on the impacts of the new reimbursement policy.

“Due to the greater than expected use of the exceptional approval process, the lack of appropriate supporting documentation, and the large increases in grams being requested, a review of the policy, including the exceptional approval process, is being considered,” Deputy Minister Walt Natynczyk wrote.

The department has not commented publically on their plans.

Police raid licensed grow-op north of Toronto, seize $6.5M in cannabis

Investigators with the York Regional Police Organized Crime Bureau – Guns, Gangs and Drug Enforcement Unit have executed a search warrant at a licenced cannabis grow operation and seized 635 pounds of harvested cannabis and more than 4,000 plants, totalling a street value of $6.5 million.

On Thursday, July 26, 2018, officers with York Regional Police were assisting Township of King Bylaw, Region of York Public Health and Township of King Fire and Emergency Services with a safety inspection of a property located at 570 Strawberry Lane, following complaints from the community.

During the inspection, a large-scale cannabis grow operation was discovered. Further investigation revealed that there were three Health Canada licences in place that allowed for each licence holder or their designate to grow a total of 875 plants on their behalf for medical purposes.

On Friday, July 27, 2018, a search warrant was executed on the property, which included a house and 22 greenhouses. It was discovered the number of plants far exceeded the limit permitted by the licences and the cannabis was being grown in an unregulated, illegal and unsafe manner, with no quality control, environmental considerations or security measures.

Two men who were maintaining the plants have been charged.

“This criminal enterprise was operating well in excess of Health Canada authorizations to grow cannabis for medical purposes,” said Chief Eric Jolliffe. “Over and above the community safety risks associated to unsafe wiring and the use of chemicals, all too often, police are identifying personal and designated production licence holders that are growing excessive amounts of cannabis under Health Canada authorizations. The product is then diverted to the illicit market by organized crime groups to supply illegal dispensaries, export outside of Canada and trafficking in our local communities.”

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