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This Week in Cannabis: Top Stories From Across Canada From Apr. 27-May 2

This week in Cannabis: SQDC stores in Montreal are piloting a new plan to operate week round after shortages caused temporary closures, the clock is running out for the Liberals to pass pardons legislation before summer break, and Indigenous-owned LP Nations Cannabis is set to  retrofit the abandoned mill in a former forestry hub in BC.

We’ve rounded up this week’s top stories from across Canada.

SQDC Extending Store Hours in Montreal

After announcing last week that it was raising its prices by 5% in order to “adjust to meet the reality of the market”—and weathering a storm of discontent from its customers—the Société Québécoise du Cannabis announced it will begin a pilot project of extending store hours in its downtown Montreal location.

Within two weeks of legalization last October, the SQDC was forced to announce emergency one-day store closures due to stock shortage. As the SQDC battled shortages of nearly 90% of its products (up to 98% at the downtown Montreal SQDC), the organization moved to close all SQDC stores between Monday and Wednesday.

In January, the SQDC allowed some stores (outside of Montreal) to open on Wednesdays, before opening all stores on Wednesdays in March. The downtown location will provide a bellwether for how well the crown corporation has rebounded from its stock shortage.

On October 17, the SQDC only opened 12 stores. JF Bergeron, CEO of the SQDC, told Quebec’s Assemblé National this week the SQDC would have 43 stores by next March, with 100 to 150 opening down the road.

Is Weed vs. Beer the New Culture Clash in Canada?

The Washington Post identified the front of a new culture war emerging in Canada: cannabis versus beer. While both has long been associated with Canadian inebriation, the culture war has become about who each product is associated with.

Though wealthy populist Doug Ford was widely reported to have been a hash dealer in his twenties, he famously gave a CNN interview with a bottle of vodka visible on his office desk, rose to office on promises of buck-a-beer, and made tailgating and public drinking pillars of his 2019 budget. Though born rich into a family that reportedly conceives of themselves as “the Canadian Kennedys,” Ford claims to be fighting “elites” (whom he imagines “drinking champagne with their pinkies in the air”) “for the little guy […] for the people.”

Trudeau was also born wealthy and famous, as the eldest son of a rock-star prime minister, but his politics run centre-left, merging teary-eyed progressivism with an unsentimental embrace of profits. The cannabis-vs-beer grudge match drastically simplifies each man’s position, which is precisely how these sorts of comparisons work.

Clock Running Out for Liberals to Passing Pardons Legislation

The same week as a coalition of 153 Liberal and 69 Conservative MPs voted to defeat NDP MP Murray Rankin’s private member’s bill calling for expungements of cannabis possession convictions, Conservative and NDP MPs told Montreal broadsheet Le Devoir they believe the Liberals intend to run down the clock on Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

If the bill isn’t passed in time for summer break, it won’t be passed in time for the upcoming general election in October.

“The fact that this half-measure arrives so late in the parliamentary session, when legalization has been one of the government’s flagship projects, it’s a pity to consider how this was left to the last minute and it’s possible we won’t have a resolution,” said NDP MP Matthew Dubé.

Indigenous-Owned Nations Cannabis is Hiring in Burns Lake, BC

For years, British Columbia’s forestry sector has been in decline, leaving whole communities suffering unemployment as mills and factories shut down. Cannabis boosters argue legalization may be a boon for those municipalities, because mill-towns like Merritt could easily be retrofitted to become cannabis growing-and-processing communities. After all, the industry’s biggest success story is Canopy, who moved in to Smiths Falls, Ontario’s abandoned Hershey Chocolate plant whose departure had devastated the small town.

Why not look to cannabis producers to help revitalize small municipalities gutted by the departure of major forestry initiatives? That’s the plan in Burns Lake, where Indigenous-owned LP Nations Cannabis intends to retrofit the abandoned mill that was once the community’s major employer and, with luck, turn a forestry hub into BC’s first cannabis town.

To Do List

An Introduction to Cannabis with Bethany Rae

LANGLEY, BC – Bethany Rae shares her own positive and negative experiences with cannabis to create awareness around responsible cannabis consumption at this Flower & Freedom event hosted on May 6 at KPU Langley. Tickets are $15 for the discussion covering topics such as: consuming cannabis without getting high, how to talk to your doctor about cannabis, cannabis for fitness, and more.

Cannabis Yoga Retreat

BRAGG CREEK, AB – Get away from it all, May 10 to 12 as best-selling author Darrin Yogi-D Zeer hosts this journey into high yoga training. Set in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the three-day retreat offers a creative mix of cannabis, yoga, movement, meditation, massage, hiking, good food, and good company. Tickets are $478.

Terroir Symposium

TORONTO, ON — Geared towards chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and hospitality professionalsm, this annual symposium will spotlight upcoming opportunities to incorporate cannabis into tourism and dining in Canada.

Are you hosting a cannabis event in Canada? Email canadaevents@leafly.com to share your event with the Leafly community.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image
Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.

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