By the ounce  

Cannabis and coronavirus

Initially, COVID-19 was merely an inconvenience for stoners.

With panicked shoppers buying out all the isopropyl alcohol, we couldn’t clean our bongs or vapes.

As infections spread, it’s fast becoming a much larger problem for everyone, including in the cannabis community.

For starters, the pandemic is causing the cancellation of events.

One of the country’s biggest cannabis events, 420 Vancouver, announced it was taking a hiatus.

“Though 4/20 is a protest, it is not a protest against health officials, and it makes sense to help them protect the public from the outbreak of an infectious virus,” said 420 Vancouver organizers.

Locally, the Growing Summit in Kelowna has also been postponed.

The conference, which was to bring together legacy and legal growers, was scheduled for March 31 and April 1 at The Laurel Packinghouse downtown.

“It was important to make a decision given the news of the last 20 hours,” organizers said in an email.

Many conferences set for Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere internationally, have been postponed or cancelled.

Cannabis sales, meanwhile, have spiked as consumers begin to stockpile. It’s a trend being seen all over the country.

Spiritleaf in Vernon said it has seen an uptick in sales, adding they are taking steps to protect staff and customers from COVID-19.

“We have removed our sensory jars as these sample containers are handled frequently by staff and customers,” said the store in a statement posted to Instagram.

“We want you to know that our store is and always has been cleaned regularly, and touched up throughout the day by our amazing staff, ensuring all high-traffic areas are sanitized regularly.”

Spiritleaf offered a few tips for people staying home:

  • Stock up — you’re allowed 30 grams of cannabis per transaction.
  • Call in your order to speed the process up in store.
  • Use a local delivery service with a 19-plus driver.

As the pandemic drags on, it’s likely that cannabis stores will be forced to close. It also has the potential to lead to a weakened legal supply chain due to a shortage of masks and gloves — requirements for staff at licensed producers.

Keep in mind that for many, cannabis is medicine. Health Canada suggests filling prescriptions and ensuring you have a good supply of the medications you need.

While the purchase and carry limit is 30 grams, you can have as much as you want at home.

Here are five practical tips:

Don’t pass the Dutchie: Now is not the time to share the same joint or vape with others. We are being advised to create social distance to slow the spread and flatten the curve.

Don’t panic: Getting paranoid about things while high is not fun. If you’re aware that you tend to overthink things negatively, then take a break or switch to CBD strains.

Don’t sellout: Those who own weed stocks are panic selling. Portfolios across the board are hurting, so don’t dump all your investments while they are plummeting. Markets recover, like people after they get sick.

Do prepare: The infection rate is said to be 30-70%, so make sure you are gradually building up your pantry, closet and freezer with things you will use. Having the munchies and no food is not fun.

Do relax: If you can work from home now, enjoy the experience. If you’re in the position to take a vacation or sabbatical, this is the time. Creating social distance also means you can spend time at home with family without the pressure to always be on the go.

The Growing Summit hits downtown Kelowna: March 31-April 1

Cannabis summit coming

An upcoming conference in downtown Kelowna will bring together legacy and legal cannabis growers.

Organizers of the Growing Summit, held on March 31 and April 1 at The Laurel Packinghouse, say this is a perfect time to make key connections at “a pinnacle-moment” for the industry. 

“An important focus of the conference is networking and building community,” said Stephanie Ostrander, chair of the summit’s planning committee.

“We recognize this is how craft growers will succeed in this corporatized industry – by working together and building buying power, sharing the cost of services like QA (quality assurance), accounting, security and information-sharing.”

In the early days…

To many, it became brutally apparent early on in legalization that the evolution from conspicuous grow-ops to big ol’ mechanized factories was going to be bumpy. Poor quality flower from some of the biggest names – fill in the blank(s) – left even the staunchest supporters grumbling.

Yes, there were diamonds in the larf: 7Acres, Whistler Cannabis Co., Tantalus Labs. But overall, large-scale factories weren’t ideal due to the often underwhelming quality and higher price compared to the black market. 

Now with Cannabis 2.0 products more widely available, competition is even tougher. That means consistent quality is paramount to bringing repeat business. Those who buy the majority of buds are the discerning type. Craft cannabis is definitely a thing.

A conference in the heart of the B.C. Interior to talk about how to grow really great pot is a timely event for anyone serious about gleaning insight.

B.C. bud has a reputation for a reason. 

The venue itself is a historic symbol of the Okanagan Valley’s growing prowess. And maybe you’ve heard of a little place called Nelson.

Fun and games

Keep in mind that the Growing Summit isn’t like an HR conference… no offence to HR people.

It’s a cannabis conference and this isn’t all serious business. There is fun to be had hanging out at “the sidewalk scene.” 

This event does draw some of the finest growers so expect to be handed a sample or two. 

All meals are served at the venue and there are plenty of opportunities to make friends. 

If you are interested in going, use the promo code “420S” for 20% off the price; food is included. 

(If asked, say you heard it from the oz.)

Quick hits

Hobo is king of cannabis in Vancouver. Take a tour of their Vancouver flagship store. the oz.

He shoots, he scores! Eight-year-old wins $200 worth of cannabis products at youth hockey tournament. CTV News

Cannabis can be a leader in gender equality. The Cannabis 101 Podcast interviews Her(b) founder Gill Polard. the oz.

Dad jokes

I got an email from Google saying "At Google Earth, we are able to read maps backwards!" and I thought;
"That's just spam!"
A priest, a minister, and a rabbit walk into a blood bank...
The rabbit says, “I think I might be type o.”
I asked my sheepdog how many sheep we had, he said 40.
"What? We should only have 37!" I replied.
"I know" he said, "I rounded them up."


Email questions or tips to [email protected] 

A mug o' cannabis tea

Settling in for the night is more pleasant with a cup of tea.

This week, I sipped on a mug of CBD-infused Everie Peach Ginger Green Tea. It tasted… well, just peachy, and it felt warmly pleasant. It even got a giggle out of me.

I shared a literal pot with my partner; we both felt the evening cup had a mellow calming effect with a light high. It came on delightfully fast.

There is 10 mg of CBD and a tiny amount of THC in each of the three bags that came in the package. 

Another Hobo location 

Vancouver’s cannabis retail market now has a leader by numbers.

Hobo Cannabis, a retail venture of Vancouver-based Donnelly Group, now has majority market share in Vancouver, with the launch of its fourth location.

The store is in Vancouver’s shopping district on Robson Street. It’s the company’s fifth location in B.C. — as Hobo operates one of the only two stores currently open in Kelowna.

Hobo is expanding, too. It has three upcoming Ontario locations, including the first legal cannabis retail store in Timmins, as well as a location in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market and another planned in the suburb of Nepean.

The shop Hobo had initially opened in Ottawa is no longer listed among its properties. 

THC breathalyzer is hard

Apparently, it’s not easy to develop a roadside cannabis breathalyzer test. 

Researchers at UBC Okanagan have been working on it for years. There is now a race to get to market, but there are still roadblocks to the detection tech becoming ubiquitous.

Engineering Prof. Mina Hoorfar, who runs UBC Okanagan’s Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Lab, has been working on a device for several years using her ‘artificial nose’ technology.

She supervised a study of the five leading styles of THC breathalyzers that are either currently commercialized or under development. The review was led by doctoral student Hamed Mirzaei.

“Despite its large potential, breath analysis still has several technical difficulties,” says Mirzaei.

“A healthy person can exhale a complex mixture of inorganic gases and many of these chemicals are from sources such as smoking, food consumption, bacterial microflora, work environments and medication.”

In other words, we ain’t there yet.

Five minutes and you’re high

Edibles can take forever to kick in, which is a drag when you want to get a buzz in the evening, but have to consume much earlier. 

It’s an unpredictable science that can put you in a weird situation.

However, major cannabis producer Aphria says it has drinks that get you high in five minutes flat.

The company’s scientists say they’ve developed water soluble “beverage enhancers” that cause a quick kick into the effect.

Email questions or tips to [email protected]

Cannabis 2.0 products are proving popular in the Okanagan

High-flying cannabis retail

It takes less than 24 hours for cannabis gummies to sell out at Spiritleaf in Vernon.

Green Gaia in the South Okanagan and the Lake Country Starbuds are both seeing similar trends, as well as massive demand for new discreet and potent vape cartridges.

Cannabis 2.0 products are proving popular in the Okanagan — albeit, in short supply.

At Spiritleaf in Vernon, Sarah Ballantyne says her store has been burning through new products.

“With gummies, I can’t keep them in stock,” she says. “I get them on Thursday and they’re sold out by Friday afternoon. It’s always the first to go.”

Retail stores are limited to buying one to three cases of each item (depending on how fast they are to purchase them from the provincial distribution channel).

Ballantyne says chocolate sales are doing really well, especially now that there are more varieties. 

Recently, the first set of teas arrived; still, customers are asking every day about the availability of other cannabis beverages.

“Word got out there that they’re going to be so new and so different – and faster acting,” says the Spiritleaf franchise owner. “Everyone is really curious to try them.”

Vape fear now a mist

With the spate of lung illnesses linked by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to black market products, new legally approved vape cartridges are flying off the shelves.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well those are doing,” she says. “They’re safe to use. They’re all Health Canada approved.”

The trends are similar throughout the Valley.

Green Gaia, which has locations in Summerland and Penticton, says their Cannabis 2.0 market is "massive."

“We can’t keep up with stock!” says co-owner Katerina Bakalos.

She says the new vape products are very popular, particularly Kolab-brand carts.

Demand is also high for Aurora Oasis Gummies, as well as Tweed and Tokyo Drift chocolates. 

At Starbuds in Lake Country, co-owner Gavin Meehan says customers are very interested in vape cartridges.

“We find people are loving them,” he says. “We have 10 different ones.”

Blue Dream was their recent bestseller. Others that are selling well include: White Widow, Lemon Riot, and Northern Lights.

Meehan has seen gummies sell out quickly and a steady demand for sea salt and caramel flavoured chocolates. 

BLK MKT review

I had a chance to try Wedding Crasher from BLK MKT.

I wanted to see what the hype was about after the company drew quite a bit of attention with its controversial tagline.

Purchased from one of my favourite local retail stores, it was dated Jan. 4, 2020 — the most recently packaged flower I’ve gotten yet. What I’d hoped would be sticky and dank, was disappointingly dry.

Still, it made up for that shortfall with its sweet scent and potent effect.

Four neatly trimmed buds tumbled out of the small, hefty container. It certainly presents as a high-quality product.

The taste is deliciously sweet and herbal when vaped, and the 21.5% THC Indica-dominant hybrid has a mellow effect on me. 

It’s not the cheapest weed on the market at over $50 an eighth – but if you’re looking to treat yourself, it’s in the field with Whistler Cannabis Co. 


The first provincial government cannabis store in the Okanagan opened its doors this morning in Penticton.

BC Cannabis Stores also has locations planned for Kelowna, West Kelowna and Vernon.

The Penticton store will employ up to 15 people.

Email questions or tips to [email protected]

More By the ounce articles

About the Author

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. — a cannabis newsletter that covers the growing legal weed industry from the Okanagan Valley.

He has been a journalist for nearly two decades, working in newsrooms all over Canada.  

David is active as okanaganz on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Subscribe to the email newsletter at okanaganz.com.

An ounce of info goes a long way.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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