Cannabis in the news May 1, 2019

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News on cannabis stocks and on developments in the industry haven’t let up in today’s volatile markets. Here are this week’s stories that we believe will mean most to you as a Canadian investor.

  1. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) aims to add as many as 17 product types to its sales catalogue when the federal government opens up the market later this year to “edibles,” according a report from BNN Bloomberg.
    The news organization points to sources familiar with the provincial organization’s plans. The Ontario effort, likely duplicated by government sellers in other provinces, is meant to satisfy strong anticipated demand for cannabis-infused beverages. That enthusiasm will likely extend to a wide variety of products now prohibited.
    The Ontario move is a way to counter the appeal of black-market edibles already available to Canadian consumers.
    Those products include edibles, such as chocolate, soft candy, hard candy and baked goods, and topical lotions, creams and bath oils.
    The next phase of pot legalization will come one year after dried and fresh cannabis flower, pre-rolls, oils and capsules became legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018.
    The OCS, which declined to confirm the specific product list obtained by BNN Bloomberg, said it will work with licensed cannabis producers to ensure availability on its website.
    “Closer to the regulations being finalized, OCS will issue a product call for the forms of cannabis scheduled to become legal, such as edibles and concentrates,” an OCS spokesperson told BNN Bloomberg in an email.

  1. Alcohol and cannabis companies are now working together to press for changes to proposed rules on producing, marketing and selling cannabis-infused beverages.
  2. Members of The Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance argue that a proposed ban on the production of cannabis drinks at any facility producing non-cannabis beverages will saddle them with unnecessary and duplicative costs.
    That restriction would also present a barrier to entry for smaller firms, said Paddy Finnegan, an alliance member. He points to the advantage that it may offer black market competitors.
    The group launched in April with 10 member companies, including Truss Beverages, the Molson Coors-Hexo Corp.-joint venture.
    The alliance is also arguing for less stringent marketing rules that would let companies use terms like “wine” and others related to alcoholic beverages. In addition, members are lobbying for permission to tap existing alcohol brand and product names for their pot-infused drinks.

  1. The Ontario College of Pharmacists has now made cannabis education mandatory for its members—an acknowledgment of the growing use of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
    The province’s pharmacists will have until March 27, 2020, to complete the accredited course, which should better prepare them to answer the growing number of patient queries. Those questions are expected to spike as cannabis edibles become legal in the fall.
    The association launched the first of such courses last month, covering a pharmacist’s ethical, legal and professional responsibilities when it comes to pot.
    The course also details the benefits and risks of cannabis, dosage forms and common side effects.

  1. The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) is facing new pressure from another Toronto-based exchange for U.S. cannabis listings.
    Columbia Care Inc., which has operations in 14 U.S. states and territories plus Malta, will begin trading Monday on Toronto’s NEO Exchange under the symbol CCHW. The company will list via an acquisition by Canaccord Genuity Growth Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, with a valuation of about $1.4 billion.
    Until recently, the NEO Exchange has been largely focused on exchange-traded funds and SPACs, but has begun to attract small cannabis companies, including Halo Labs Inc. and Maple Leaf Green World Inc.
    The exchange’s success highlights the growing competition for CSE in the fight to win big U.S. firms. They increasingly are looking to list in Canada as a way of raising funds for expansion. U.S. federal restrictions on cannabis prohibit similar listings in that country.
    Still, NEO considers itself a mainboard exchange and has more-stringent listing requirements than the CSE, according to Jos Schmitt, the exchange’s chief executive officer.
    As a result, says Columbia Care Nicholas Vita, his NEO listing offers a smoother pathway to a potential listing on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq if U.S. federal marijuana laws change.

  1. A new study suggests more than a third of young adults may use pot and nicotine products together, providing a challenge to public health officials as cannabis legalization spreads.
    The U.S. study raises questions about the potential increase in tobacco use resulting from cannabis.
    “There is growing concern that as more states legalize marijuana, there also will be an increase in tobacco use because the two substances may be used together,” said Joan Tucker, lead author of the California study by the RAND Corporation. “Co-use of cannabis and tobacco could reverse some of the progress made on reducing rates of tobacco use.”
    Published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Tucker and her team  surveyed young adults who used cannabis and tobacco, or nicotine, together in some way (either using one right after the other or by mixing the products together).  The findings suggest poorer functioning and more problematic behaviours among those dual users compared to those who did not mix the two.
    While combining cannabis and tobacco is more common in some other countries, the practice is growing in the U.S.
    National data show that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to use cannabis, tobacco or nicotine products than any other age group.

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