The Marijuana Report – March 15

Losing farmland to… farming

In the District of North Okanagan, B.C., a cannabis grow-op application is facing strong public opposition. The proposed facility would be located on 2.3 acres of farmland, but the cannabis would not be grown in the soil. Instead, marijuana plants would be grown in a large indoor facility, and some local residents say the concrete floor of the building will ruin the soil for good.

The application has been sent to the Agricultural Land Commission – a tribunal set up to protect agricultural land in B.C. – which should take around 60 days to issue a ruling.

Cannabis Compensation

Workers Compensation Boards are grappling with the reality of medical marijuana. While some provincial boards do cover medical marijuana claims, getting approved for coverage is not easy. Melissa Ellsworth of Nova Scotia recently won a tribunal ruling – after five years – to become one of only 10 people covered in the province. New Brunswick covers the most claims at 71. The Canadian Forces, on the other hand, covers medical marijuana for more than 7000 vets.

First Nations

The Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan has filed a statement of claim against the Saskatchewan and federal governments over the right to regulate the sale of marijuana. Based on the principle of self-governance, the First Nation wantsOI a declaration that they have the right to sell and regulate cannabis, and that federal marijuana laws do not apply on their land.

In Akwesasne, Ontario, indigenous-owned cannabis producer Seven Leaf is hoping to get their pot to market by June. Lewis Mitchell, a former police chief, is the director of Seven Leaf, reflecting the transformation of cannabis from contraband to crop. In Canada, that is. The Akwesasne reserve straddles the Canada-US border, and while marijuana is legal in Canada, it remains very much illegal in New York State. Past high profile drug busts have given Akwesasne a reputation for smuggling. It’s a reputation that doesn’t sit well with residents.

For sale: Cannabis… shop.

Six provinces allow private retailers to sell cannabis, but getting a license to do so is not easy or quick. Predictably, licensed retailers can now sell more than just cannabis – they can also sell themselves.  New Leaf Emporium, one of two licensed retailers in Moose Jaw, SK, recently sold for $1.6 million in cash and stocks to National Access Cannabis Corporation (NAC). NAC already operates 21 stores in Alberta and Manitoba, and plans to leverage existing supplier relationships and sales infrastructure as it expands into the Saskatchewan market. 

According to the CBC, NAC has also considered partnering with some of the 25 businesses in Ontario who (literally) won the cannabis license lottery. Under Ontario law, those cannabis licenses cannot be transferred, but that hasn’t stopped a rush of investors from looking for partnerships – reportedly offering up to $5 million dollars for the opportunity to share in the profits.