Another week of exciting and interesting developments in the cannabis industry of Canada. Things aren’t slowing down. Shares are down all over but investment and momentum is stronger than ever.
This week has been a strange one as the Catholic Church of BC made their opinion known, survey data came back (from our poo), Ottawa named a marijuana minister and more. Thanks for sticking with us here, for The Bis’ weekly news roundup.
The federal government has expanded the role of Member of Parliament Bill Blair, giving him new responsibilities directly related to the Cannabis Act.
In an order from the Privy Council of Canada, the feds designated the “Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction… as the Minister for the purposes of the Cannabis Act.”
Blair, the former police chief for the City of Toronto from 2005 to 2015, has been the point-person for the Liberal’s weed policy since the move to legalization began.
Raised in Scarborough, he served 39 years with the Toronto Police Force, the last decade as its Chief of Police, according to his parliamentary biography. Blair was elected the Member of Parliament for Scarborough Southwest in October of 2015 and served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, before his current appointment in 2018.
Yes, you read that right.
From March to August 2018, the organization has been using a breakthrough technique called wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) in several major Canadian cities to determine a rough estimate of cannabis use in the population.
They did this because they believe the stigma surrounding pot is causing people to underreport use.
The project is still experimental, but the first stage of the results are in.
From March to August 2018, what StatsCan calls “one of the world’s largest” continuous WBE tests took place at 15 wastewater treatment plants in five large urban centres across the country. Those included Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Halifax, which represents nearly 8.4 million Canadians
The total “load” for all wastewater treatment plants had a combined weekly average of about 4.5 kilograms, or the weight of a normal sized house cat.
The agency also attempted to produce estimates of total cannabis consumed in tonnes per year and grams per day. A tricky thing to do from THC content alone since it varies from strain to strain.
Using cannabis with a 12% THC (a low or midrange strength), the total estimated consumption for 2018 can range between 400 and 1,600 tonnes of dried leaf a year. Using the number of admitted users in the National Cannabis Survey for 2018, this would equal a rough consumption of 0.9 grams a day.
According to a recent report released by Tidal Royalty, a company that helps finance cannabis start-ups, not all Canadians are interested in alternative methods of getting high.
Overall, 38% of Canadians are open to alternative methods of cannabis consumption, with nearly a third (30%) expressing interest in trying foods infused with cannabis.
Age is a big factor when it comes to wanting to try new things as Millennials are the most likely age group to try edibles — 42% of millennials would try cannabis-infused foods compared to 36% of Gen Xers and just 16% of Baby Boomers.
Beautiful British Columbia also tipped the scales when it comes to eating their smoke. The west coast province was the most interested in edibles, with 39% admitting they like to give cannabis-infused foods a try.
Ontario was close behind, as 42% are open to alternative methods of consumption, with 33% looking forward to edibles and 23% expressing interested in infused beverages. Québécois were the least interested, with 22% open to alternative consumptions methods.
Canada’s cannabis industry is experiencing a labour shortage. In the five years since there has been a large scale legal market for medical pot, and the recent legalization of recreational sales since October, companies have had trouble finding candidates that can deal with the sometimes punishing and difficult conditions required in large-scale greenhouse labour.
Some companies are solving this problem by hiring foreign workers. Through Canada’s Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP), a system that allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW) when Canadians and permanent residents are not available, licensed producers have been finding relief from a growing shortage of talent and bodies.
One Ontario licensed producer, Aphria, with a large greenhouse facility in Leamington is doing just that. According to a recent report in Bloomberg, the SAWP allowed Aphria to hire about 50 temporary workers from the Caribbean and Guatemala with plans to bring in up to 100 more.
“Those are really hot, humid months and working in a greenhouse, as much cooling and airflow as we can provide, is still pretty darn hot in July and August,” Vic Neufeld, Aphria’s CEO is quoted as saying.