EXCLUSIVE|Liberals to announce marijuana will be legal by July 1, 2018

EXCLUSIVE|Liberals to announce marijuana will be legal by July 1, 2018

Provinces will have right to decide how marijuana is distributed and sold, CBC News has learned

The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.

CBC News has learned that the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief who has been stickhandling the marijuana file for the government, briefed the Liberal caucus on the roll-out plan and the legislation during caucus meetings this weekend, according to a senior government official who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity.

blair-marijuana-20160224                 Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, briefed the Liberal caucus on new marijuana legislation, which leaves the provinces to decide how marijuana is distributed and sold, according to a senior government official. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Provinces to control sales

The federal government will be in charge of making sure the country’s marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.

But the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set price.

While Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, the provinces will have the option of setting a higher age limit if they wish.

4 plants per household

As for Canadians who want to grow their own marijuana, they will be limited to four plants per household.

Legalizing marijuana was one of the more controversial promises Justin Trudeau made as he campaigned to become prime minister.

But in their platform the Liberals said it was necessary to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” in order to keep drugs “out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals.”

The Liberals had promised to introduce legislation by the Spring of 2017. Announcing the legislation the week of April 10 will allow the party to hit that deadline.

Raids raise questions

Trudeau referred again to that rough timetable a few weeks ago when he said the legislation would be introduced before the summer. But at the same time he also warned that it wasn’t yet open season for the legal sale of marijuana.

“Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply,” Trudeau said in Esquimalt, B.C. on March 1.

That warning became more concrete a week later, when police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities carried out raids on marijuana dispensaries and charged several people with possession and trafficking, including noted pot advocates Marc and Jodie Emery.

Trudeau’s promise to legalize marijuana was seen as one of the reasons for the Liberals’ strong showing among youth voters in the 2015 election.

But at the NDP’s leadership debate in Montreal Sunday, which was focused on youth issues, several of the candidates pointed to marijuana legislation as an example of a broken Liberal promise.

“I do not believe Justin Trudeau is going to bring in the legalization of marijuana and as proof that … we are still seeing, particularly young, Canadians being criminalized by simple possession of marijuana,” said B.C. MP Peter Julian.

 

SOURCE FROM By CBC News, by David Cochrane.

Marijuana stock euphoria: Should you join the wild ride?

Investors in Canada’s nascent market for legal marijuana saw stock prices swing wildly this week – and weed growers were delighted to exploit the frenzy by raising tens of millions of dollars.

But beyond this week, what does the future hold for Canadian pot producers? The industry is not only gearing up for the Liberal government’s legalization of the recreational marijuana market, but also grappling with what is happening south of the border.

Last week, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana but it’s unclear what tack U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will take on cannabis.

“With these things [marijuana stocks] so hot right now, you have to really be careful,” Bruce Campbell of StoneCastle Investment Management said on Market Call. “If I was buying, it certainly wouldn’t buy in one big chunk.”

WEED’S WILD WEEK

Shares in Canopy Growth Corp (CGC.TO), which says it sold more than a tonne of weed in its latest quarter and harvested 1.7 tonnes, soared from $9.34 a share last Friday to almost $18 this past Wednesday in frenzied trading. On the same day, halts were triggered on several Canadian cannabis stocks. By Friday morning, Canopy shares dropped to $13.59, still up 45 per cent on the week and representing a market value of $1.5 billion.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.V) – whose “garden is home to thousands of happy plants growing in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, sipping fresh mountain water in gentle breezes and basking in ideal lighting conditions” – closed at $2.12 last week, jumping more than 50 per cent to $3.37 a share this Friday.

Meanwhile, shares in Aphria Inc (APH.V) climbed from $4.64 last week, to hit $6.41 on Friday.

TRUMP’S EFFECT ON POT

Investors betting on the advent of a large recreational market in Canada should see weed stocks move higher over the next year, but there will be big price swings on the way, Khurram Malik of Jacob Capital Management said.

“It’s risen a little too quickly for our comfort,” Malik said in an interview with BNN on Thursday.

“Yes it’s a speculative sector, yes it’s a high-risk sector, yes it’s a highly volatile sector. But if you’ve got a two- or three-year investing horizon it’s not a bad time to get in [on marijuana stocks].”

Investors will also have to weigh the implications of how marijuana regulation develops in the U.S.

While U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has said states should be allowed to decide their own cannabis policies, he’s also a close ally of Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor is said to have presided over the transformation of the city into “the marijuana arrest capital.” And, Vice President-elect Mike Pence has backed tough punishment in Indiana.

Canopy Growth chairman and CEO Bruce Linton told BNN that the continued federal ban south of the border means his company has a powerful competitive advantage because it will let Canopy lock up intellectual property.

U.S. producers will remain “fractured and fragmented… they can’t patent and they can’t trademark,” Linton said.

He added that Smith Falls, Ont.-based Canopy has valuable technical knowledge and strong brands such as Tweed, which it touts as “approachable and friendly, yet reliable and trusted.”

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But Commodities guest Chris Damas, publisher of the BCMI Report, warns that U.S. growers have plenty of expertise.

“Methinks they are pretty good at growing marijuana down in California and even in the wetter climes of Washington, Oregon and Colorado,” Damas said in an email to BNN.

“Recreational cannabis legalization in the four states that voted for it last Tuesday has nothing to do with Canada, except as a potential competitive threat. That market is already being satisfied – either illegally, or via co-ops.”

Still, investing in makers of the drug may be too much to stomach for some investors.

Gordon Reid, president and CEO of Goodreid Investment Counsel, told BNN in an interview on Thursday that he’s avoiding marijuana stocks, partly because they carry too much social stigma for many of his clients.

“Just as with cigarette smoking and other socially sensitive issues we want to be on the right side and we feel we have made the right decision,” Reid said.

WILL THE EUPHORIA LAST?

Meanwhile, in time-honoured fashion, executives in this hot sector have been quick to take advantage of investor interest.

Supreme Pharmaceuticals (SL.CD) sold $50 million worth of convertible debentures garnished with share purchase warrants exercisable at $1.70 per share for  three years. As of Friday, its stock traded at $1.81. The debentures are convertible at just $1.30 a share.

OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI.V) sold 9.9 million shares at $3.55 for proceeds of $35 million. The shares traded at $3.88 on Friday.

Aphria last week sold $35 million worth of stock at $4.

Damas of the BCMI Report warns that the euphoria may not last, especially when Trudeau actually unveils his legalization scheme.

“The overblown potential of the ‘recreational’ cannabis market potential misreads Justin Trudeau and the Liberals’ intent. Trudeau has repeatedly stipulated that decriminalization has been proposed to make cannabis LESS available, not more, especially to youths,” Damas said.

He adds: “Position disclosure: We do not own cannabis stocks presently.”

 

SOURCE: By Andrew Bell, BNN.ca

Canadian Marijuana Stocks’ Trading Halted Amid Panic Buying And Selling

The hottest stocks in Canada right now are in the medical marijuana business.

So much money is flowing into marijuana stocks on the TSX that trading had to be halted multiple times Wednesday due to excessive price increases — followed by excessive price declines.

It’s largely due to the U.S. election last week, in which four states — California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine — legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Canada’s medical marijuana producers, as well as some investors, see potential for expansion into the U.S.

More than one-fifth of Americans now live in states where weed is fully legal.

originalWorkers in a grow room at Tweed, a medical marijuana company in Smiths Falls, Ont., March, 2014. Tweed, now a subsidiary of Canopy Growth, set up shop in an abandoned Hershey chocolate factory. (Photo: Joe O’Connal)

Canopy Growth Corp., the first publicly-traded cannabis company in Canada, soared last week to become the country’s first business of its kind to reach a $1-billion valuation.

On Wednesday, the company’s value soared all the way to $2 billion, the National Post reports — before giving up all those gains, and then some. It was the most heavily traded stock on the TSX Wednesday.

Trading in Canopy was halted five times yesterday, BNN reported. Its shares rose as much as 33 per cent from open, then fell as far as 27 per cent, before closing down about 15 per cent for the day.

“Any time there’s more media attention to the sector it brings in more investors.”
— Jason Zandberg, PI Financial

Numerous other companies had their shares halted as well, including Aphria Inc., Aurora Cannabis Inc., Mettrum Health Corp., OrganiGram Holdings and Supreme Pharmaceuticals Inc., BNN reported.

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada says it halts trading whenever a stock’s price changes by more than 10 per cent during a five-minute period.

Some weed stocks saw massive jumps of more than 50 per cent, Bloomberg reported.

“Any time there’s more media attention to the sector it brings in more investors,” marijuana analyst Jason Zandberg of PI Financial told the news service.

“We found that there’s been a lot of interest from U.S. investors. They have a difficulty in investing in the sector given the weird framework that’s in the U.S. where it’s illegal at a federal level.”

The federal Liberal government has said it will introduce marijuana legalization legislation in the spring of 2017.

Canopy CEO Bruce Linton told Bloomberg he expects the Liberals to set up a system where marijuana will be sold through government-run outlets like liquor stores.

“We can probably carry a tax burden of 25 per cent or so and end up in the consumer hands on a still cost-competitive basis, with a superior product,” Linton said.

 

SOURCE: By Deniel Tencer, The Huffington Post Canada

 

Canadian marijuana companies may not be savvy investment just yet

Investment experts urge caution, despite recent high valuations for Canadian marijuana producers

medical-marijuana-competition Experts warn that amid the relatively new industry’s explosive growth, not every company will achieve long-term success. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

Canadian medical marijuana producers are in the spotlight, thanks to high share prices and a more than $1 billion valuation for Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp. So should Canadians consider the country’s booming marijuana sector as an investment opportunity?

Not necessarily, say investment experts.

Pat McKeough, chief investment officer for TSI Wealth Network in Toronto, said a number of his clients have asked about marijuana stocks. But “none of them” have struck his team as anything they would recommend.

Amid the relatively new industry’s explosive growth, not every company will achieve long-term success, he said.

“When cars first came out, they were a wonderful invention, and there were about a hundred companies at one point… but only a handful survived into the 1920s,” McKeough said.

South of the border, Alan Brochstein, founder of 420 Investor and New Cannabis Ventures, has been following Canadian medical marijuana producers closely for several years.

Part of the recent uptick in valuations for Canadian producers like Canopy Growth stems from the U.S. election, noted the Texas-based marijuana industry expert, with recent volatility in American stocks encouraging investors to look at the Canadian market.

Seven U.S. states also voted last week to legalize some form of either recreational or medical marijuana.

The current high valuations “aren’t sustainable,” Brochstein said, meaning average investors need to be careful.

As recently as July, Canopy Growth was worth less than a third of its current billion-dollar valuation.

“It’s the largest cannabis company we have here in Canada and, quite frankly, the largest in the world now,” Khurram Malik, head of research at Jacob Capital Management, told CBC’s Metro Morning. “The reason it’s reached a billion dollars in the last little while is because Canada has turned the page from being a medical cannabis market to getting ready for recreational cannabis.”

But Malik and Brochstein both said that despite hopes of recreational marijuana becoming legal next year, it likely won’t happen until 2018.

The findings from a federal task force will be published at the end of the month, Malik noted. Those will be the blueprint for legislation next year.

“Expect the stocks to be pretty volatile from now until then,” he said.

 

SOURCE: By Lauren Pelley, CBC NEWS

Legal pot in Canada could sell for $5 a gram — or less

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Uncle Ike’s Budget Bud is the cheapest pot we’ve found anywhere.

A product line of a Seattle, Wa.-based marijuana retailer, it lives up to its name at US$99 an ounce. That works out to $4.76 a gram Canadian, and it would put the cost of a joint in the $1.50-$2 range.

But you get what you pay for, an email from Washington State-based marijuana writer Steve Elliott makes clear.

“It smokes more harshly and burns the throat a bit more than the expensive stuff,” he writes.

There’s more leaf material making up the weight than with a higher-priced product, he explains, and “it’s not exactly ‘bragging rights’ material if you get it out in front of your friends.”

On the other hand, though the journey is rougher, the destination is much the same:

“The high is often comparable to more expensive weed, but … the taste is nowhere near as fine.”

Under legalization, how cheap could marijuana get? At the low end, in the $5 a gram range, says Bruce Linton, CEO of  Canopy Growth, a large medical marijuana growing facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., which plans to produce recreational pot after legalization.

The cheapest medical marijuana is sold in that price range now. Medreleaf’s cheapest strains for medical customers are $5 a gram. (Medreleaf, a Markham, Ont.-based grower also sells low-THC trimmings, leaf material left behind when buds are prepared, for $3 a gram.)

Aphria, a grower in Leamington, Ont., starts at $7.20. The lowest-priced strain from Tweed, a Canopy Growth company (Boaty McBoatface), is $6.

Canopy tried pricing medical pot at $5, but couldn’t make money on it, Linton says:

“We found that it was a great way to introduce and bring patients on, but it’s not a sustainable price at which you can run a business.”

Washington State applies a 37 per cent excise tax to recreational pot, so the profit margin on Budget Bud must be tiny. (Uncle Ike’s didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

For many years, Canadian provinces have imposed minimum prices on alcohol for a combination of public health and tax reasons. (Basic distilled spirits can be produced very cheaply: a 750ml bottle of vodka costs $6.75 for a distillery to make, but retail prices start around $25.)

But with a parallel illegal marijuana market still in place, governments can’t afford to price legal pot too high, Linton argues.

“You could pick any big number as a minimum price. You don’t actually achieve anything for public health — you achieve the opposite, because the product will be supplied, but by suppliers who have no obligation to test, or not use pesticides or fungicides. It’s a tricky piece of work.”

Earlier this month, the Parliamentary Budget Office estimated that the pre-tax price of legal cannabis wouldn’t go below $6.67 a gram, with a mid-point estimate around $7.50.

At least the second number is about right, Linton says: “So far in the medical space, by making it market-based, it has sort of levelled in the range that the government estimated.”

“There will probably be some stuff which is five bucks, (but) I suspect that you’re going to find an average price of $7-$8 a gram.”

 

SOURCE: News  Global News, by Patrick Cain. (National Online Journalist)

LICENSED PRODUCER GETS NEARLY $1 MILLION FROM NEW BRUNSWICK GOVERNMENT

Legislative_Assembly_of_New_Brunswick.jpg

Government licensed cannabis producer OrganiGram will receive up to $990,000 from the New Brunswick government in the form of payroll rebates, over the next three years.

The government funding comes with the condition that OrganiGram double its workforce to employ 86 people.

In a release, Premier Brian Gallant said he was pleased by his government’s commitment to provide the licensed producer with growth.

“Our industry has the potential to be a once in a generation opportunity for growth and economic development as we move towards a recreational marketplace,” said OrganiGram CEO Denis Arsenault. “We are from New Brunswick and we’re excited to invest at home.”

In a press release, the company stated it has plans for expansion into the recreational marketplace as the government moves toward legalization. Currently, licensed producers are only able to grow for medical purposes.

The funding comes from Opportunities NB, a government organization that provides support services to businesses in the province.

Opportunities NB will offer rebates of up to $8,761 for each new job created and maintained by OrganiGram, with the total value not to exceed $990,000.

OrganiGram is the only licensed producer in Atlantic Canada.

The 8 Ways Canada Can Legalize Marijuana

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1. Repeal the prohibition on possession and personal cultivation of cannabis.

This the most important first step and could be done very quickly. We are calling for the Liberal government to immediately stop all arrests for personal possession and for growing cannabis for personal use. There is no need to keep busting people with a bag of cannabis or a few plants when legalization is just around the corner.

2. Repeal Section 462.2 of the Criminal Code, which bans literature and harm reduction devices like waterpipes and vaporizers.

Unbelievably, bongs and waterpipes are still banned in Canada, and stores still get raided by police for selling these items. (See here, here and here for example.) Books which promote the use of cannabis are also still banned. It makes sense to repeal these silly laws right away.

3. Permit patients or their designated grower to provide medical cannabis as recommended by a physician.

This third point is related to the recent court decision which has reaffirmed the right of patients to meet their own medical needs by growing their own cannabis as recommended by a physician. We don’t want the government to appeal this decision, and instead to act quickly to ensure that patients can keep growing their own cannabis as needed.

4. End police raids against community medical cannabis dispensaries, and enable their municipal regulation, as per the position of the Union of BC Municipalities.

There are hundreds of community medical cannabis dispensaries opening in cities and towns across Canada. Generally they are operating openly without problems, but in some areas the RCMP has been threatening them or launching raids. Many cities are licensing these dispensaries, but the federal laws are unclear.

The Union of BC Municipalities has asked the federal government to confirm the power of cities to license and regulate dispensaries, and we support that move happening right away.

The next four points are things which we want the Liberals to put into place within one year.

5. Completely end the prohibition of cannabis, by removing it entirely from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

To truly end cannabis prohibition, cannabis needs to be removed entirely from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Laws and regulations around cannabis should be similar to the laws around alcohol, tobacco, food products and herbal medicines.

6. Allow farmers to harvest and sell the cannabinoid-rich resin from their plants, as per the recent resolution of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.

Canadian farmers already grow large amounts of cannabis, mainly to produce seeds for food products. These farmers also produce large amount of CBD-rich resin which they are forced to destroy.

The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance has asked the government for permission to harvest and sell this resin for medical purposes, and this would provide a large amount of low-priced CBD for patients in need.

7. For those convicted for a cannabis offence under the CDSA, on a case-by-case basis: Grant a full pardon and amnesty for past offences, expunge criminal records and release all prisoners currently serving time.

Ending cannabis prohibition must also make right the mistakes of the past. When we legalize cannabis we must not forget those who are still in jail now for cannabis, or the many Canadians with cannabis criminal records. We want a quick and easy process for Canadians to apply to have their cannabis criminal records expunged.

8. Permit Provinces, Territories and First Nations to decide how they want to tax, regulate and distribute cannabis as needed.

This final point is that we don’t want to see a restrictive federal program in place for cannabis. Like alcohol and tobacco, legal cannabis falls mainly under provincial jurisdiction. We want to see the provinces, municipalities and first nations being responsible for regulating the sale of cannabis.

This will also open up the possibility of different systems, enabling different regions to experiment with different models as we figure out the best model for legal cannabis.

 

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca