Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Agriculture

One month after legalization, illicit cannabis shops doing brisk business

Published

on

If you like this, share it!




  • TORONTO — The three surveillance cameras and the steady flow of people in and out of the small, nondescript grey building are the only hint of the brisk business this downtown Toronto cannabis dispensary does behind closed doors.

    Once inside, two men behind a white desk under a vintage chandelier ask patrons to provide government identification and fill out a membership form. Then, customers are allowed to enter another room through a steel door, where an array of pot products are on display in a glass case.

    When asked what has changed since Canada legalized on Oct. 17, one staffer said: “We’re just busier.”

    Among the many shoppers on Thursday, a fourth-year university student said he preferred to buy from this dispensary to avoid the delivery problems that bedevil the provincial cannabis store. Also, he didn’t want the transaction to appear in his banking records.

    “It’s just too much of a hassle… it’s all about convenience for me,” he said.

    It’s been nearly a month since recreational pot was legalized across Canada, and despite raids by local police departments and government warnings to illegal pot shop operators to shutter their doors or face consequences, the black market continues on.

    Product shortages, delivery delays and other problems plaguing the roll-out have not helped, said Martin Landry, an analyst with GMP Securities.

    “It hasn’t been perfect… And probably as a result the shift away from the black market has not happened as fast as most expected. But I think that’s short term.”

    Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use on Oct. 17 with the elimination of the black market as one of the Liberal government’s main goals.

    There was little expectation that it would disappear quickly, as the illicit market has survived in U.S. states like Colorado and Oregon years after legalizing recreational pot.

    Statistics Canada estimates that during the fourth-quarter of this year there will be 5.4 million people wanting to purchase legal cannabis and 1.7 million continuing to buy illicit pot across Canada. Spending on pot during that period may range from $816 million to $1.1 billion while purchases of illegal cannabis may range from $254 million to $317 million, the agency estimates.

    But getting users to switch from illegal sources hinges, in part, on whether the legal offering is a competitive one.

    Meanwhile, in addition to limited amounts of legal pot products, cannabis-infused edibles are prohibited from sale until 2019.

    In Ontario, where privately run brick-and-mortar cannabis stores won’t be ready until next April, and British Columbia, which has just one government-run pot store, illicit shops continue to draw in clientele.

    The Weeds Glass and Gifts stores in Vancouver are “hyper busy right now,” said its owner Don Briere.

    His chain of stores in Vancouver are benefiting from the closures of other illicit dispensaries but also because B.C.’s lone legal store is located more than 350 kilometres away in Kamloops, B.C.

    “How are you going to service five million people in British Columbia with one store that is nowhere near the population centre?” Briere said in an interview.

    Briere shut down nine of his shops across the country but is servicing clients online and keeping his four Vancouver shops open while awaiting the outcome of ongoing litigation. Other dispensaries have also decided to keep their doors open while waiting for their license applications to be processed.

    Still, the stiffer penalties under the Cannabis act As of Oct. 17, which include a first offence fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of as much as six months, coupled with the potential to be blacklisted from pursuing legal retail options have prompted several to shut down.

    For example, the Green Room Society Dispensary on Spadina Avenue in Toronto has white paper covering up the glass windows and door. In the window, written on the paper in black marker it says: “Come say high on April 1st.”

    The Ontario government warned in the days before legalization that black market operators must shut down or risk being barred from ever obtaining a legal retail license under the province’s private system.

    Landlords in Ontario also face hefty fines for allowing illicit dispensaries to operate on their properties, putting further pressure on owners to close up shop, said Matt Maurer, a partner at Torkin Manes and vice-chair of the firm’s cannabis law group.

    Others across the country have been forcibly compelled by law enforcement to shut their operations down.

    In Port Alberni, B.C., the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided two pot shops on legalization day for not having provincial licenses. A day later, police and inspectors from Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. raided a dispensary in St. John’s.

    There were 92 illegal cannabis storefronts in Toronto on Oct. 16, prior to legalization, according to Bruce Hawkins, a spokesman for the city’s municipal licensing and standards department. That number has been whittled down to 21, as of Nov. 6, due to shutdowns of their own accord or by the city and police, he added.

    Maurer has been approached in the year leading up to legalization and afterwards by dispensary owners seeking a license to operate a legitimate cannabis business, as the risk of being an illicit operator is heightened, he said.

    Post-legalization, the provincial and territorial governments have a vested interest in shutting illegal pot shops down, he said.

    “Every sale at an illegal dispensary is another dollar not going to the provincial government,” Maurer said. “So why would they tolerate that any further?”

    — With files from Liam Casey

    Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press



    If you like this, share it!

    Agriculture

    Average family to pay $400 more for groceries next year, report estimates

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • The average Canadian family will pay about $400 more for groceries and roughly $150 more for dining out next year, an annual food price report predicts.

    Food prices will rise between 1.5 to 3.5 per cent in 2019, according to the report from researchers at the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University. That means the average family of four will spend $12,157 next year — up $411 from 2018.

    Vegetables will see the biggest price jumps — between four and six per cent for the category, according to the report.

    Meanwhile, meat and seafood prices are expected to fall, with the meat category to decline by one to three per cent and seafood costs to remain the same or fall up to two per cent.

    Since 2015, the team has predicted prices in those two categories would rise as high as six per cent each year.

    “This is a bit of a risk for us… We’ve never done that,” said Sylvain Charlebois, one of the lead researchers and a professor at Dalhousie University, referring to anticipating a decline.

    But the team is confident in its prediction.

    They believe there’s an oversupply of meat, he said, and Canadians are eating less animal protein. Instead, they’re showing more interest in alternative proteins, like quinoa and lentils.

    The plant-based protein trend is evident in recent manufacturer and restaurant moves as well.

    Meat processors Maple Leaf Foods Inc., for example, acquired two companies in this niche in recent years, Lightlife Foods and Field Roast GrainMeat Co.

    At the same time, fast food chains have started adding vegan and vegetarian options to their menus. A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. even temporarily sold out of its Beyond Meat patties shortly after adding them to its menu.

    Industry watchers have attributed the demand for plant-based protein to millennials, health-conscious baby boomers and concerns around antibiotic use in agriculture.

    A turning point for animal protein, though, was 2014 when beef prices started to rise dramatically, said Charlebois.

    Between December 2013 and December 2014 the monthly average retail price for one kilogram of ground beef rose more than 26 per cent, according to Statistics Canada data. For comparison, the price advanced about 3.5 per cent from December 2012-13. It reached a record high of $13.23 in October 2015.

    “It really spooked consumers,” said Charlebois, adding they started substituting plant-based protein into their diet.

    Butchers and grocers will likely take it easy on beef prices next year in an effort to bring people back to the red meat, he said.

    Consumers’ embrace of plant proteins will help push vegetable prices higher next year, as will the weather, according to the report.

    “Fruit and vegetables are some of the most perishable, fragile food products that are on the grocery shelf,” said Simon Somogyi, a lead researcher on the report and a University of Guelph professor.

    They’re particularly influenced by climactic events, like the El Nino expected to occur this winter, he said, which can result in warmer and drier conditions, and create shortages in the supply chain.

    As far as which vegetables may see the biggest increases, it’s difficult to know what produce item will become the next cauliflower, Charlebois said. The cruciferous vegetable saw soaring prices per head in 2016.

    Charlebois points to lettuce and tomatoes as possible candidates for big price fluctuations. Meanwhile, Somogyi said produce imported into Canada is more susceptible to weather events and the corresponding price changes.

    The report predicts more modest increases for bakery (one to three per cent), dairy (zero to two per cent), fruit (one to three per cent) and other food items, such as non-perishables, not covered by the other categories (zero to two per cent).

    Restaurant prices will rise between two and four per cent, according to the report, mainly because operators’ labour costs increased as several provinces and territories boosted their mandated minimum hourly wage recently.

    The researchers’ predictions for 2018 were fairly accurate. Fruit prices, which they estimated would rise between one to three per cent, stayed stagnant — the only category where they missed the mark.

    Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.

     

    Companies in this story: (TSX:MFI)

     

    Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    Agriculture

    $1.75B in mystery money could let Ottawa to start compensating farmers soon

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — The federal government says it plans to spend $1.75 billion by March without having said what the money is for, though at least some of the cash is likely to go to farmers hurt by new trade deals.

    The government remains tight-lipped about how it will use the rest of the “non-announced” spending it allowed for in last week’s fall economic statement.

    In all, the government has made room for $9.5 billion worth of still-to-be-unveiled commitments over the next six years.

    A government source says some of that will go to dairy, egg and poultry producers, whose protected domestic markets were opened up to more foreign competition under new North American and Pacific Rim trade deals. The source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The fall statement said the government is still talking with farmers and processors about compensation for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the recently ratified Asia-Pacific trade pact known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

    The negotiations will determine the size of the final package and how the money will be rolled out over the coming years.

    In 2016, the Liberal government dedicated $350 million to help dairy producers deal with the impacts of Canada’s trade agreement with the European Union. The amount included a five-year, $250-million fund for milk producers and a second program worth $100 million for cheese-makers.

    Looking ahead, Ottawa is also facing litigation related to Indigenous issues, including land claims, that could draw on some of the money.

    Most of the yet-to-be announced funding has been dedicated to the later years of the projection, with $2.1 billion set aside for 2021-22, $1.85 billion for 2022-23 and nearly $2.8 billion for 2023-24.

    One possible use for the cash: national pharmacare.

    The governing Liberals have put together a group of advisers to consult Canadians and to explore options for a national program. The council is due to report in 2019, when the topic of pharmacare is likely to become an issue during the federal election campaign.

    A spokesman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau argued the list of the government’s funding commitments in the fall update is comprehensive.

    But Pierre-Olivier Herbert noted some measures cannot be disclosed yet due to cabinet confidentiality or because ministers have yet to make a decision. Issues of national security, commercial sensitivity, or litigation or certain matters related to trade agreements must also be kept under wraps, he said.

    “The net fiscal impact of these confidential or sensitive measures is rolled up and presented at an aggregate level and will be detailed in due time,” Herbert wrote in an email.

    Thanks to the stronger economy, Morneau had more than $20 billion in extra fiscal room over the coming years to work with, compared to the forecasts in last February’s budget. But he chose to announce new initiatives — including billions of dollars worth of tax incentives for corporate Canada — that will use up all that space and then some, contributing to slightly larger annual deficits beginning next year.

    The document contained Ottawa’s long-awaited plan to help the country compete with the U.S. for investment dollars. It came in response to major American tax and regulatory reforms that many in the business community warn have eliminated Canada’s edge as an investment destination.

    The package includes new write-offs that are expected to lower federal revenues by about $14 billion over the next half-decade all by themselves.

    The fall update also contains no timeline to eliminate the Liberals’ shortfalls, which are now projected to be higher than $18 billion in each of the next couple of years.

    The opposition Conservatives and some economists have criticized the Liberals for not providing a date to balance the budget. There are warnings the government could face big fiscal challenges when the next economic downturn arrives.

    After the 2015 election, the Trudeau government abandoned vows to run yearly shortfalls of no more than $10 billion and to balance the books by 2019. Instead, it has focused on reducing the net debt-to-GDP ratio — a measure of how burdensome the debt is — each year.

    Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press



    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    december, 2018

    wed21nov - 21decAll DayAlberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum - Deck the Hall 31 Days of Giving-31 Days of giving(All Day) Event Organized By: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

    sat15dec10:00 am- 4:00 pmParkland Garden Centre Craft and Market Sale10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    sat15dec12:00 pm- 6:00 pmArtisan Market Sale for Nuit Blanche Winter CarnivalArtisan Market12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

    sat22dec10:00 am- 4:00 pmParkland Garden Centre Craft and Market Sale10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    mon31dec - 1jandec 317:00 pmjan 1- 2:00 amBlack & White ballRed Deer\'s Party of the Year!7:00 pm - (january 1) 2:00 am

    mon31dec - 1jandec 317:00 pmjan 1- 1:00 amOne Eleven Grill New Year's Eve with Claude Godin and his Groove EnsembleCall 403.347-2111 to reserve for New Year7:00 pm - (january 1) 1:00 am

    Trending

    X