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Agriculture

Pot-based medical pet products closer to fruition as research grows

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TORONTO — Canadian pets are a few steps closer to getting their paws on pot-based medical treatments in Canada as more cannabis companies research marijuana’s efficacy for companion animals.

Canopy Growth Corp. is the latest medical marijuana company to enter the potentially lucrative pet market with its announcement this week that it will embark on a Health Canada-approved clinical trial to research the use of cannabis-based products to treat animal anxiety.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Dr. Shane Renwick says there’s been a flurry of cannabis-related pet health research as Canada’s laws on recreational cannabis crystallize ahead of legalization on Oct. 17.

The association’s national issues and animal welfare manager expects there to be more clinical trials in the pipeline going forward.

“We hope that there will be the research required to allow safe registered products on the market in the not-too-distant future… It will offer alternatives in a lot of cases to medications we’re currently using for a variety of conditions,” Renwick added. “So it’s an exciting potential that we see.”

Dr. Renwick said the association’s members have fielded many queries from clients asking about treating their pets ailments, such as pain, with cannabis. However, there is no legal avenue for veterinarians to prescribe pot, unlike for medical physicians, and not enough clinical evidence to support it, he added.

The association is hopeful that Health Canada will eventually approve some cannabis-based veterinary health products that its members can prescribe for their pet clients, and each clinical trial approval brings them “one step closer” in the process, he said.

Many cannabis companies have been positioning themselves to cash in on the drug’s potential for pets as the country prepares up to for legalization of cannabis for adult use this fall.

Canopy on Wednesday announced it got the green light from the Veterinary Drug Directorate of Health Canada for its research into the use of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, enriched oil to treat anxiety in certain animals. The research will be conducted by Canopy Animal Health, a division of Canopy’s affiliated research arm.

“The use of natural-occurring cannabinoids as a therapy for companion animals is a logical new forefront of medical discovery… These trial approvals mark a significant milestone on the journey of making cannabis-based drugs accepted and recommended by veterinarians,” said Marc Wayne, managing director, Canopy Health Innovations, in a statement.

CannTrust Holdings Inc. in April entered into a letter of intent with Grey Wolf Animal Health Inc. to develop cannabis products to support the well-being of pets. B.C.-based True Leaf Medicine in 2015 established True Leaf Pet Inc. to produce hemp-based products for sale worldwide.

True Leaf said that in its 2018 fiscal year, sales of pet products totalled $1.4 million, up 280 per cent from the previous year.

It’s tough to quantify the size of the nascent market for cannabis products for pets.

In 2017, sales of cannabis products marketed for pets at medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries was nearly $7 million in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, according to BDS Analytics. In Colorado, sales of pet products grew 49 per cent in 2017, versus growth across all product categories at 15 per cent, it said.

The pet pot segment growth, however, comes from an initially low base and its hard to gauge demand, said Greg Shoenfeld, vice president of operations for BDS Analytics, based in Colorado. However, in an increasingly competitive cannabis landscape, catering to pets can be a differentiator, he said.

“Being able to develop a presence with the pet loving consumer could be a point of strength,” Shoenfeld said.

Renwick believes there is a “huge” demand for safe, tested cannabis-based products for pets. The CVMA has been advocating that veterinarians should have the same ability as medical physicians to prescribe them as well.

“Our pets are living longer, generally, cancer and other illnesses can produce a good deal of pain and discomfort for animals near the end of their lives,” he said.

“And owners today are much more cognizant of wanting to alleviate any suffering that animals might endure.”

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press






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Agriculture

Constellation Brands spending $5 billion to increase stake in Canopy Growth

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SMITH FALLS, Ont. — Constellation Brands has signed a deal to invest $5 billion in Canopy Growth Corp. to increase its stake in the marijuana company to 38 per cent and make it its exclusive global cannabis partner.

Under the agreement, Constellation, a global producer of beer, wine and spirits, will acquire 104.5 million Canopy shares at a price of $48.60 per share.

Canopy shares closed at $32.15 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve come to better understand the cannabis market, the tremendous growth opportunity it presents, and Canopy’s market-leading capabilities in this space,” Constellation Brands chief executive Rob Sands said in a statement.

“We look forward to supporting Canopy as they extend their recognized global leadership position in the medical and recreational cannabis space.”

The investment follows a deal last year that saw Constellation acquire a nearly 10 per cent stake in Canopy for $245 million.

The agreement Wednesday will see Constellation nominate four directors to Canopy Growth’s seven-member board of directors.

Constellation is also receiving 139.7 million new warrants, which are exercisable over the next three years. If Constellation exercises all of its existing and new warrants, its ownership in Canopy would exceed 50 per cent.

“Our business can now make the strategic investments required to accelerate our market position globally,” Canopy chairman and co-chief executive Bruce Linton said in a statement.

“Constellation’s concentration of global cannabis activities exclusively through Canopy, coupled with the investment and its expert capabilities in brand-building, marketing, consumer insights and M&A will be a huge benefit as we look to expand our portfolio in Canada, the United States and emerging cannabis markets around the globe.”

The investment, which is expected to close by the end of October, is subject to customary closing conditions, including Canopy shareholder approval and regulatory approvals.

The investment deal came as Canopy reported a loss of $80.3 million or 40 cents per share for the quarter ended June 30 as it continued to ramp up its operations ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada later this year.

The loss compared with a loss of nearly $9.1 million or six cents per share a year ago.

Revenue for the three-month period totalled $25.9 million, up from nearly $15.9 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

 

Companies in this story: (TSX:WEED)

The Canadian Press


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Bernier touts himself as the only politician to want truly free trade with U.S.

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OTTAWA — Conservative MP Maxime Bernier says he’s the only politician in Ottawa who supports truly free trade with the U.S., and while it’s not his role to negotiate NAFTA with U.S. President Donald Trump, he thinks it’s “sad” he’s the only one who wants to put supply management on the trading table.

In the weeks following Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s decision to strip Bernier of his critic role, the Beauce MP has maintained a pretty low profile.

But as trade tensions increase between Canada and the U.S., the staunch advocate of ending Canada’s supply management system for milk, eggs and poultry — a program popular with dairy farmers in Quebec, including in his riding — feels compelled to speak up.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, he said every political party in Ottawa wants to keep the very system that Trump wants axed, and that intransigence is preventing Canada from reaching a deal.

The U.S. administration has frequently lashed out at Canada’s system for controlling the price and supply of dairy, eggs and chicken  — but Canada has adamantly and repeatedly insisted that’s not on the table.

In a fundraising email sent recently to supporters, Bernier wrote that he’s the “only politician in Ottawa who says we should sit down with Trump and start meaningful negotiations, instead of playing politics with the 20 per cent of our economy that depends on trade with the US.”

When asked in the interview what Scheer might think of his email blast, Bernier quickly interjected, “But that’s the reality. That’s the reality.

“I’m the only one who supports real free trade with the U.S., I’m the only one who is against a trade war with the U.S., and I’m the only one who wants to be sure that we’ll have a better economic prosperity for our country,” he said, adding the Conservatives “must not” support the government in its trade war with the U.S.

He stops short at wanting in on the talks.

“My role is to try to convince the government, my party, the politicians in Ottawa, that their position is wrong,” he said.

Bernier questioned why his party would support a “socialist policy” and said the dairy, poultry and egg producers are holding the economy hostage.

“We just need to convince the government and it’s sad that I’m the only one. The only elected member of Parliament who’s speaking for 35 million Canadians on that issue and now the government, they’re putting our economy at risk with that position.”

In June, Scheer removed Bernier’s critic title after Bernier posted a controversial chapter of his forthcoming book on his website — a book he had already agreed to postpone “for the sake of maintaining harmony in our party.”

The chapter accuses Scheer of signing up “fake Conservatives” for the sole purpose of defeating Bernier in the Conservative leadership race. In April, Bernier promised to shelve the book’s publication indefinitely, but the offending chapter resurfaced the following month in the midst of a string of pointed attacks from Trump on how Canada treats U.S. dairy producers.

Bernier said he respects Scheer’s decision to remove him from the shadow cabinet but says he won’t change.

“I’m a Conservative. I’m speaking about conservative values, conservative principles. I’m fighting Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s socialist policy. I’m a real conservative. So I must have the right to speak about it and convince more members and more Canadians.”

Bernier said he hopes the party will adopt a new approach on supply management at the Conservative convention in Halifax later this month, noting a handful of riding associations have put resolutions forward for consideration.

Conservative MP James Bezan said he “disagrees completely” with Bernier’s comments on the Tories’ trade strategy, adding supply management is party policy.

Bezan said he wishes Bernier would “show some loyalty to our leader.”

Brock Harrison, a spokesman for Scheer, would only say: “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians jobs and the overall health of our economy are at stake with NAFTA. It would be the top priority of a Conservative government to get the best deal for Canadians.”

Janice Dickson , The Canadian Press




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