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Cannabis Constitutional Crisis? – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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Has the UK sparked a constitutional crisis in Bermuda by blocking cannabis legalization?

The tiny North Atlantic archipelago consists of 181 islands. They are a British overseas territory but has elections and makes its own laws.

It is rare for the UK to intervene like this.

What Happened?

Cannabis Constitutional Crisis?

On Tuesday, as Liz Truss became the new British Prime Minister, officials in Bermuda found out the Cannabis Licensing Bill was not becoming law.

Unlike Canada, which has a governor-general appointed by the prime minister, Bermuda’s Governor is UK-appointed.

Like Canada’s governor, this position is usually nothing more than a rubber stamp on legislation. However, on Tuesday, the Governor of Bermuda said: “I have now received an instruction, issued to me on Her Majesty’s behalf, not to Assent to the Bill as drafted.”

The reason?

“The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs concluded that the Bill, as currently drafted, is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda.”

Referring to international anti-drug conventions dating back over sixty years ago.

It’s unknown whether the new British PM made the decision herself. Still, as a former foreign secretary, she likely had a hand in it.

Cannabis Constitutional Crisis in Bermuda 

Independence from Britain has always been an issue in Bermuda. Still, this recent intervention to block cannabis legalization is one step too far.

Bermuda’s attorney general Kathy Lynn Simmons said on behalf of the government that the UK’s intervention was “disappointing, but not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions.”

“The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process.

“The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 general election platform commitment.”

The Bermuda Premier David Burt previously said, “If Her Majesty’s representative in Bermuda does not give assent to something that has been passed lawfully and legally under this local government, this will destroy the relationship we had with the United Kingdom.”

Bermuda’s opposition party has called cannabis legalization a “smokescreen” to push for independence.

What the Hell, Truss?

Cannabis Constitutional Crisis?

This intervention against Bermuda’s democratic process is one of Liz Truss’ first moves as new British PM.

While some may roll their eyes and think “typical Conservative,” the truth is more puzzling. Liz Truss has supported cannabis legalization in the past. If the UK were ever to legalize, they have their greatest chance right now with Truss as prime minister.

So what happened? It’s too early to tell or to speculate. But, as is always the case, money and lobbying probably played a big part.

Or maybe someone’s playing a long game. Perhaps provoking a constitutional crisis in Bermuda was the point.

Details of Cannabis Bill That Led to Constitutional Crisis in Bermuda 

The Cannabis Licensing Bill would have established a new regulatory bureaucracy if it had received royal assent. They would have managed cannabis business licenses and made policy recommendations for future changes.

Cannabis would have been legal for adults over 21 years old. They would have been able to possess up to seven grams. Cultivation licenses were also to be available.





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Cannabis Topicals: Consumer Trends – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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What’s up with cannabis topicals? Why aren’t they more popular?

Cannabis topicals make up less than 1% of total cannabis sales in North America. And its popularity is slowly decreasing in both Canada and the US.

Why?

They have greater bioavailability than capsules, for instance. You can find near-instantaneous relief by directly applying cream or gel to sore or infected areas.

But this also explains why cannabis topicals aren’t as popular. 

As flower is the largest category, and pre-rolls are one of the fastest growing, it’s safe to assume most people are smoking or vaping cannabis. 

Cannabis-infused topicals are cannabinoid therapy, but not in the same physiological way smoking or vaping cannabis is.

Fortunately, Headset has put together a report that looks into consumer trends with cannabis topicals. The data is theirs; the interpretations and comments are my own.

Market share of Topicals in North America

This graph looks at the market share of topicals compared to other cannabis products.

As you can see, topical products aren’t that popular. They account for a small share of total cannabis sales in both the US & Canada.

From January through August 2022, topicals make up only 0.5% of the total Canadian cannabis market.

And this is a 9% market share decrease from the previous year. 

For the US, this January-August 2022 period saw topicals account for 0.7% of total cannabis sales. A 3.4% reduction in market share.

Market share over time

This graph looks at market share over time. In the US, topicals peaked at 1.89% in 2018. Since then, market share has been decreasing and has levelled off.

Market share has been decreasing in Canada, as well, levelling off at about 0.7%,

In Canada, topicals peaked at 0.85% in December 2021. Possibly because of the holiday season and novelty gift buying. Because by August of this year, sales decreased to 0.52%

Cannabis Topicals in states & provinces

Across Canada, topical popularity differs from province to province

Alberta has the highest share of any province, with 2.7%.

This is five times the national average. Ontario & BC also have higher than national average sales.

Saskatchewan lowers the national average, making topicals 0.1% of all cannabis sales.

Florida wins first prize in the US as the highest topical market with 1.3% of total cannabis sales. Florida is the largest medical cannabis market in the United States. 

No doubt because of the older adults using CBD cream. (Older adults tend to use topicals more than younger adults, as seen in the data below).

Topical use is also high in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize, back in November 2012.

Cannabis Topicals Price Volatility in Canada

This graph looks at the average price of topicals since 2021 in Canada. 

Prices are comparable between the US and Canada, where the average topical price in the US is $26.70. In Canada, it’s $31.25 or $25.71 in US dollars.

Where Canada differs is in price stability. Especially over the past two years.

In Canada, the price of topicals fell in 2021 to the point that by August 2022, there was a 12.3% decrease. 

In other words, what was once a $40 cream is now only $33.

The lowest average price came in December 2021, when retailers priced topicals at $28.44. Since then, prices have been on a slight but steady upward trend.

Price of cannabis Topicals in the US

This graph shows the average price of topicals in the US which has been much more stable and predictable. 

Since the beginning of 2020, the average price has stayed around $26-27. There has been a slight increase of 1.4% as of August 2022.

What kind of Topicals do people buy?

Cannabis Topical

What kind of topicals are popular in the US and Canada? Which are the highest-selling according to the data?

Lotions, salves, gels and cream have been the most popular.

In Canada, these products make up 60% of total sales, while in the US, these products account for 74.6% of total topical sales.

Canadians also seem to like cannabis-infused soaks, scrubs, and bath salts. (The bath salts you put in your bath, not THC-infused synthetic cathinone).

CBD is Raison d’état for topicals

Cannabis Topical

Topicals are the most popular when they have CBD in them. 

CBD is anti-inflammatory and good for the skin. It works on pains, aches, and cramps and has neuroprotective properties. 

So, how popular are CBD products in Canada and the US?

In Canada, 92.7% of topical products had CBD either exclusively or mixed with THC and other cannabinoids.

In the US, 79.4% of topical products contain some CBD. However, it’s worth noting that Americans can buy CBD-only products practically anywhere (depending on your state). 

Thanks to Donald Trump signing the 2018 Farm Bill into law, Americans can easily access legal CBD products online.

Across the border, the Canadian government handicaps consumers with the legal cannabis access system. Retail varies from province to province, but overall, both levels of government keep CBD prices artificially high.

Nevertheless, products with a balanced THC-CBD ratio of 1:1 are the most popular in both countries.

US consumers prefer CBD products containing more THC because the data doesn’t show non-cannabis store CBD purchases. So when Americans come to a cannabis store for a topical, they want it to have THC.

That’s why THC topical products with 300mg of THC or more are the most popular in the US and account for 1/3 of topical sales.

But again, the different access systems skew the market data.

For example, CBD isolate sales account for 30.9% of topical sales in Canada. Compared to 7.1% of sales in the US. 

Americans can purchase CBD isolates from anywhere, including online, where the Canadian government restricts consumers to legal access points set by federal and provincial governments.

Demographic preferences

Cannabis Topical

This last graph shows the different age groups and how that accounts for topical sales. 

Not surprisingly, older people prefer to use topicals than smoke flower. 

Females are more likely than males to shop for topical products, which is also not surprising, as females make up a large part of the non-cannabis topical market.

Baby boomers account for 16.1% of all topical sales, whereas they only make up 4.6% of the total cannabis market.

In contrast, female consumers in the generation Z category make up 3.6% of topical sales.

Conclusion

Topicals and flowers may be contracting in the cannabis space. Still, other products like pre-rolls and beverages are gaining market share and popularity.

Trends and consumer demand always change, so nothing here should be considered long-term. 

It may be common in a few years for many cannabis consumers to have a nanoemulsion processor in their homes to make their own cannabis drinks.

This change in consumer trends and market technology would likely see decreased sales in the beverage market. This might coincide with topicals increasing in popularity as more baby boomers discover the healing and soothing powers of cannabis topicals.

It all depends on the consumer. 

In a free market, the consumer votes with their dollar. No one rises to the top unless they arrange the resources necessary to satisfy consumer demand. 

Footnote(s)

https://www.headset.io/industry-reports/cannabis-topicals-an-analysis-of-category-trends-data





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A Conservative Cannabis Act?  – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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Is it possible a Conservative Cannabis Act can fix the damage of Justin’s legalization?

On October 17th, 2018, the government of Canada legalized cannabis with strict conditions on who could sell it, how to access legal products, and how much you could grow for personal use.

This top-down public health scheme split BC Bud into two camps. Those who wanted to follow the rules and try to become legitimate. And those who saw the corporatization of their medicinal herb and said, “no, thanks.”

Four years later, even large licensed producers are worried about the future of the cannabis industry. It seems you can’t take a public health approach and have a thriving commercial sector.

The two are incompatible, as evidenced by the continued existence of the illicit market.

Canadians aren’t buying moonshine made in bathtubs. Alcohol regulations across the country are liberal enough to prevent black markets.

This truth is so evident that only the “right-wing” parties of the country understand this. Unfortunately, only one of them is capable of winning the next election.

And it’s led by a leader who believes drugs are inherently harmful and that “addicts” need treatment and recovery.

A Pierre Poilievre Conservative government likely won’t touch the Cannabis Act with a ten-foot pole. But let’s say they do. What would a Conservative Cannabis Act look like?

The Cannabis Act is Already Conservative

A Conservative Cannabis Act? 
Joseph Copley/Canva

If we travel back to, let’s say, 1972, and I told you Canada would legalize cannabis in 2018. Then I explained how the regime looked. You might wonder: did the Conservative Party legalize cannabis?

Traditionally, liberals have been for individual rights. A true, small-L liberal government would legalize cannabis for the same reason they don’t ban abortions: you own your body.

Wanna fill your lungs with cannabis smoke? That’s your prerogative. Just as you have every right to evict a trespasser using your uterus, rent-free.

Liberals, in the classical sense, are about decentralization.

We already have laws on the books to deal with the legal cannabis industry. There’s no reason to create a task force or an “expert panel,” to study the issue.

Health Canada does not need to enforce the rules.

If the Conservative Party legalized cannabis, they would do it for all the reasons Justin Trudeau’s Liberals outlined in 2015.

We gotta protect the children. We gotta remove the profits from criminal gangs.

Cannabis legalization, as envisioned by the Cannabis Act, is an egalitarian idea. A conservative reaction to the failure of the drug war as it pertains to weed.

Justin’s legalization is a Conservative Cannabis Act. From the erroneous claims about public health and safety to the anti-marketing, plain-packaging, child-resistant plastic containers legal cannabis is sold in.

The Cannabis Act fits squarely into the conservative camp. 

Will Justin Run on the Weed Ticket Again? 

Justin Trudeau could face an election when this Cannabis Act review wraps up in 18 months. He could run the weed ticket again, as that’s the only real success he’s had with young people.

And young people are leaving the Liberals and NDP in droves to join Poilievre’s common sense revolution.

We know Justin loves using wedge issues to divide Canadians amongst themselves.

The Cannabis Act review might suggest increasing the 10mg edible THC limit to displace the black market. But public health busybodies won’t be for it because it doesn’t protect “the children.” 

What do you think Justin will say? He’ll go wherever the polls lead him.

We know what Poilievre will do. Despite his condemnation of public health for lockdowns and vaccine passports, he’s on board with their addiction, recovery, and treatment rhetoric.

Fortunately, if this is part of Justin’s reelection plan, I don’t think it’ll work.

For starters, it’s not 2015 anymore. Justin’s “sunny ways” have come and gone without anybody noticing they were here to begin with.

It’s 2022, and people are struggling with the cost of living. Liberal commentators talk about inflation not being an election issue if (or when) Canadians go to the polls in 2025.

But that’s ridiculous. The people saying this are those who didn’t see the inflation crisis coming. And when it hit, they called it “transitory.”

The reality is we’re entering the stages of economic depression the likes the world hasn’t seen since the 1930s.

Suppose Justin tries to run on a more liberalized legalization scheme. 

It’s unlikely that young people living with their parents or putting 80% of their income into their living costs will care.

What Pierre Poilievre Told Me 

A Conservative Cannabis Act? 

I don’t see a Poilievre government touching the Cannabis Act.

If the 18-month review wraps up in time for an election, perhaps a Poilievre government will implement its findings. Part of that continuity of government, where Harper’s medical cannabis regulations aren’t so different from Justin Trudeau’s conservative Cannabis Act.

What will Pierre Poilievre do? I decided to ask him. It took over a month for a reply by e-mail. And I suspect this was probably a staffer or a bot, not Pierre himself.

Nevertheless, he signed his name to it, so this must be his opinion.

He wrote: “Dangerous and addictive drugs tear families apart, promote criminal behaviour, and destroy lives. Instead of making it easier for drug addicts to consume drugs, the Liberal Government should support treatment and recovery programs to get addicts off drugs.”

(Which, on further inspection, is taken verbatim from what Harold Albrecht said in the House of Commons on February 26th, 2019).

So basically, the same narrative when Ottawa and B.C. announced the decriminalization of drugs like opioids and cocaine.

Of course, politicians are going to politic.

I don’t expect Poilievre to have an opinion on cannabis legalization anymore than he has on abortion or gay marriage.

These topics aren’t worth disrupting the narrative that Liberals raise the cost of living while Conservatives will bring it down.

Anything counter or irrelevant to this narrative won’t see the light of day. That is the nature of democratic politics.

A Conservative Cannabis Act

Courtesy of GreenCuisineCBD.com

Can a Conservative Cannabis Act bring down the cost of living? It sounds a little ridiculous, but it’s a subject I’ve covered here before.

Centuries of selective breeding have split the cannabis sativa genus into two identifiable crops: consumable cannabis and industrial hemp.

Hemp may be the most sustainable crop on the planet. It certainly is one of the fastest-growing. It requires little water, no pesticides, and returns nutrients to the topsoil. 

Instead of banning plastic bags and straws, the government can promote hemp-derived plastic with targeted tax breaks and subsidies. 

Hemp is suitable for textiles, as well. Our current approach uses cotton, which requires pesticides that build up in the soil and contaminate drinking water.

Deforestation is a problem solved by hemp farming. 

Hemp farming can also supplement our oil production and eventually overtake it. Hemp biodiesel isn’t some fringe, unworkable idea.

A Conservative Cannabis Act could look at cannabis and hemp as undeveloped resources. 

Essential for protecting the planet’s topsoil and conserving Canada’s resources while reducing plastics, pollution, and waste.

All without a carbon tax.

Poilievre’s Conservatives may not make this an election issue this time around. But this is the way if they want to decimate the Liberals and NDP in future elections. 

The Liberal Cannabis Act treats cannabis as a drug worse than heroin and subjects it to taxes and regulations that end up doing more harm than good. 

A Conservative Cannabis Act could work to conserve the environment. 

Footnote(s)





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George Smitherman on Cannabis in Canada – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana

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If you believe Justin Trudeau sold cannabis in Canada out to a Laurentian Elite, then George Smitherman is your boogeyman.

A former politician and now licensed producer, he’s also President and CEO Cannabis Council of Canada (C3). 

When the Trudeau government announced a review of the Cannabis Act, C3 released “Five Big Asks.”

They are:

  1. Address the financial viability of Licence holders by fixing the excise tax, provincial distributor mark-ups and fees.
  2. Level the playing field with the illicit market.
  3. Allow Licence holders to communicate with consumers, including about the effects of cannabis.
  4. Eliminate costly “red tape” and unnecessary “Nanny State” regulations.
  5. Strengthen patient access to medical cannabis.

Except for #2, these are all reasonable asks.

But what about #2? 

What does “level the playing field” mean? I asked George Smitherman this, and here’s what he said.

George Smitherman on “Levelling the Playing Field” with Illicit Cannabis 

George Smitherman on Cannabis in Canada

Just when you think Justin’s Liberals couldn’t be any more incompetent, you discover new depths. 

The C3 doesn’t like illegal cannabis stores in the GTA for obvious reasons. They’re also not big fans of illicit online sales and delivery. 

Their call for more enforcement is entirely logical from their viewpoint.

“I can’t use a website,” George tells me over the phone, “If I’m in the licensed industry, I can’t sell my weed for delivery across the country via website.”

Why aren’t the police doing something? They are, as you can tell from the headlines. Police tend to go after the source, not the retailer.

But George’s problem is that he’s got bureaucrats breathing down his neck (although he didn’t use such blunt language).

“We’re playing by the rules,” George Smitherman says. “We’re paying all the fees. And it’s expensive, it’s not cheap.”

The problem is the Cannabis Act isn’t worth the trouble. Get licensed, and you’re regulated to death by public health busybodies. “The regulators and the lawmakers have nothing but attention for you,” says George. 

Or don’t get licensed and risk fines and imprisonment. And since the legacy cannabis market has an extensive history with the latter option…

George on BC Bud 

George Smitherman on Cannabis in Canada

George Smitherman agreed that the federal government could displace the cannabis black market. If they addressed #1 and #3 of the “Big Five Asks” (dialing down the taxes and regulations).

Our disagreement was on what that would entail.

I am undoubtedly part of the “regulatory liberationists,” who would like to see a commercial cannabis industry.

George Smitherman is “practical” and wants incremental steps to balance public health with a profitable cannabis sector.

Nevertheless, Health Canada has made it clear it thinks its micro-licensing scheme is the proper path forward for BC Bud.

C3 agrees, “We believe that the amount of growing space for micros needs to be increased,” says George.

And while he does try to be mindful of the different cannabis cultures, especially on the West Coast, George ultimately says he doesn’t think the grey market exists.

“I think that’s just fuzzy branding,” he says.

It’s one thing to be a small mom-and-pop farm, but not going through the legal means becomes a problem at some point.

Ultimately, it’s a disagreement over testing and safety. As evidenced by some impure cannabis from illicit markets, it seems restrictive regulations are better than no regulations.

And not doubt a lot of Ontario‘s black market weed sucks.

But in British Columbia? Especially in the smaller connoisseur market? The lack of regulations has created a culture of customary rules. And this cannabis tests just fine with or without Ottawa’s bureaucracy.

George on the “Nanny State” Cannabis Regulations 

George Smitherman on Cannabis in Canada

What does that mean when George Smitherman and the C3 ask the government to eliminate costly red tape and unnecessary Nanny State cannabis regulations?

George Smitherman is admittedly “motivated” by the public health goals of the Cannabis Act. Removing Nanny State regulations is about increasing the THC limits on edibles.

“It’s missing the mark for the regular consumer of cannabis edibles,” says George. If the government is serious about displacing the black market, “they need to raise the edible limit.”

But as for delegating production licenses to the provinces? George isn’t aware of any movement to make this happen. He is critical of the idea we need to start over again with less focus on public health.

“Obviously that’s not the approach of the Cannabis Act, but I definitely get where those arguments are coming from.”

George on the Cannabis Act Review

George Smitherman Cannabis

What does George Smitherman think of the Cannabis Act review? The same thing we’re all thinking: hurry up!

We agreed that small producers and manufacturers suffer under excise taxes and prohibitive regulations.

Won’t they be bankrupt by the time this cannabis review wraps up?

“Cynically, I might say, anything that starts late is in a bad spot,” he says. “If 18 months of a report results in that report being sent somewhere else for consideration, that’s not a formula for the timely response that the sector needs.”

We can agree on urgency. And both George and I are pleased to see the review board will at least listen to consumers and the industry rather than narrowly define the scope of its mandate.

In Summary

Justin Trudeau promised to license, restrict, and regulate cannabis. His government managed to license it. They certainly regulate it to death. 

But restrict? That was always an impossible feat. You can’t dictate consumer demand.

This Liberal government isn’t likely to remove cannabis regulatory gatekeepers. Therefore, the illicit market will likely have no incentive to join the legal regime.

And so guys like George Smitherman and the C3 will continue to call for greater cannabis enforcement. 

In the words of Ringo Starr, “Everything government touches turns to crap.”

Footnote(s)

https://cannabis-council.ca/media/bcgeu





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