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By the ounce  

Exorbitant cannabis fees

The cost of doing business can be revealing.

Take West Kelowna. It has three basic tiers for business licence renewals:

  • One at $60 a year
  • A second at $135 a year that takes into account a fire inspection
  • A third at $360 a year that considers a need for both fire and policing.

Cannabis stores fall into the third category – along with body rub parlours, escort services, and nightclubs.

To its credit, West Kelowna is by far one of the most affordable places in the Okanagan to renew a business licence as a cannabis retailer.

Other communities in the Valley single them out with sky-high fees.

Across the bridge in Kelowna, the yearly business licence renewal fee for a cannabis store is $9,465.

Pressure is mounting for municipalities to consider treating them equitably.

Earlier this month, Vancouver councillors voted to lower that city’s whopping $34,000 yearly fee.

(In contrast, Vancouver liquor stores pay $429.)

Sarah Ballantyne, who owns Spiritleaf Vernon, wrote a letter earlier this month to Mayor Victor Cumming requesting the city consider lowering its fees.

“As you know, the Cannabis Retail Application fee for the City of Vernon is $5,000 and the Cannabis Business Licensing fee is set at $2,000/annually,” wrote Ballantyne. “This fee is much higher than any other business licensing fee in Vernon.”

She argues a liquor store similar in size to her cannabis store would pay a much lower rate of $185 per year.

Ballantyne says keeping the fee so high is unreasonable.

Vernon’s $2,000 renewal fee is more than double any other renewal fee — except that of a casino, which is also $2,000.

The City of Vernon says its administration will be reviewing the fees and reporting back to council. That report is anticipated later this year.

“City fees are supposed to be commensurate with the cost to provide the service,” says city spokeswoman Christy Poirier.

“When the renewal fee of $2,000 was recommended and adopted, the city had the experience of over a dozen retailers in the community pre-legalization.

“The service process required a great deal of staff time through various departments, including Planning, Building and Licensing, Bylaws, and sometimes Fire, which led to the fee that was recommended.”

It’s clear that there’s still a ways to go before cannabis retail is treated just like any other business.

Municipalities in the Okanagan should look to Penticton, where the yearly business license fee for a cannabis store is $180 —the same as other retail stores.

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. Find print copies of the oz. magazine at Spiritleaf locations around the Okanagan, Green Gaia in Penticton and Summerland, as well as Lake Country Cannabis. Email the author at [email protected].



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What is Cannabis 3.0?

We spoke with chief operating officer at The Valens Company, Chantel Popoff.

With Cannabis 3.0 on the horizon and Valens’ acquisition of edibles maker LYF, the Kelowna company is well positioned to offer consumers cannabis products that fit into their every-day life.

They’re poised for growth in Canada and beyond.

the oz. – What exactly is Cannabis 3.0?

Popoff – Essentially 3.0 products focus on bringing the benefits of cannabis derivatives into more mainstream health products already present in consumers’ homes.

Some examples would be:

  • THC or CBD-infused bath bombs
  • THC-infused lip balm
  • THC or CBD-infused honey
  • CBD-infused topical creams.

These are not just for pain relief, but also every-day items such as moisturizers.

Essentially, the more advanced we get in cannabis products, the more mainstream or the more regular common items in the household are going to be carrying cannabis derivatives. 4.0 will see an even broader spectrum of cannabis infused deliverables made available to the consumer.

the oz. – How do companies prepare for this evolution in cannabis?

Popoff – Be able to predict what consumers are looking for by watching the trends that have happened down in the U.S. California is a great example.

Companies were offering cannabis-infused products such as skin creams, moisturizers, and every-day food items such as salad dressings, honey, and coffee over three years ago — these are things consumers have in their every-day lives and now they want the benefits of cannabis infused into them.

Consumers don’t want to have to change their habits or their day-to-day routine, rather they just want to do a direct substitution of cannabis infused products into their everyday purchasing habits.

The success of being able to position yourself to support 3.0 comes down to innovation, quality and consistency.

the oz. – How many products has Valens now released in total?

Popoff – We’ve manufactured just over 190 different SKUs across nine different product categories within the space. Because we do both white-label manufacturing as well as manufacturing for other LPs, we’ve really been able to focus in and gain experience in a broad spectrum of different categories, which really is what led us to looking at LYF as a great partner for Valens and a great next stepping stone to be able to jump into a vertical we weren’t already playing in.

the oz. – When and how did LYF actually come to Valens’ attention

Popoff – They’re located just down the road from us, so from a geographical perspective, the location made a lot of sense.

We looked at LYF early on as a potential manufacturer for us simply because they had an expertise in novel product creation. They were looking at infusion technologies and different white-label manufacturing very similar to what we do here but focused on the food space.

The thing that made LYF different to us in our eyes versus other edibles manufacturers is that they focused on the broader spectrum of products.

LYF was focused on manufacturing every-day foods that support more of the 3.0 categories, such as desserts, energy bars, fruit, nut and seed mixes, things that were more specialized and more CPG (consumer packaged goods) aligned.

Currently, LYF holds capabilities to produce things such as real fruit gummies, caramel-filled bars, peanut butter cups, candies, granola products — but they’re also looking at the different consumer trends that clients are after, such as plant-based, sugar-free, and natural ingredient offerings.

They’re also looking at raw ingredient or raw processing, which is very important in the market today.

Being able to add our S?RSE Technology, which is water-soluble technology, into those products makes it not only more shelf stable but also tasteless and odourless, which is very important for folks somewhat hesitant getting into cannabis edibles because of potential cannabis taste and smell.

the oz. – How many people are employed by Valens?

Popoff – We are at just over 250, and we’re growing quickly. We expect to have close to 300 employees by the middle of summer.

the oz. – What is Valens doing to position itself for a more global market?

Popoff – We’ve been focusing on the international scene for quite some time. We have received our import and export licences for products in Australia and we’ve also completed our first successful shipment to a partner that we have in Denmark for an R&D initiative.

We are looking to obtain our EU GMP certification in our new K2 facility which is expected in fiscal 2021. We are going to continue to focus on quality and consistency and making sure that we have the necessary proceeds in which to grow.

We recently closed a bought deal financing for total gross proceeds of almost $40 million, with $32 million of those proceeds to be used for M&A and business expansion opportunities in international markets.

the oz. – What is the one change that Health Canada could make to current regulations that would most benefit the industry as a whole?

Popoff – I think there are two changes that would benefit the industry. The first would be increasing the THC limit per pack from the 10 mg allowed today to 100 mg per pack that are commonly found in the US market.

That would be a win-win — not only for ourselves and other manufacturers — but also for consumers because it drives the price down and margins up, allowing for more units or more serving sizes per pack.

In addition, we would love to see the continued growth and deregulation of CBD. In the United States, CBD infused health and beauty products are available almost everywhere as over-the-counter items.

The more that we can make CBD a mainstream ingredient, the more consumers will benefit and the more the market will benefit. It also provides an additional category for CPG and wellness companies to play in.

the oz. – We look forward to seeing what you cook up.

The first Valens/LYF formulated products are likely to be available sometime this spring.

Popoff says the team at LYF has a few secrets, so expect to see cannabis offerings that are outside the box.

Find print copies of the oz. magazine at Spiritleaf locations around the Okanagan, Green Gaia in Penticton and Summerland, as well as Lake Country Cannabis.

Email the author at [email protected].



Straight-roll joint pioneers

Manufacturing cigarette-style joints isn’t as easy as you might think.

It took cannabis producer Redecan two years of R&D to create the process of manufacturing their highly popular straight-rolled joints — and even longer to really nail it.

“I remember when I transitioned from tobacco to cannabis, I was a little bit naïve,” says Redecan co-founder Will Montour in an interview with the oz. “The first thing I thought was, ‘OK, we’re going to throw some cannabis into this machine and we’re going to get joints.’'"

The 10-packs of tight little joints with cardboard filters are unique in the Canadian cannabis market; all others are cone shaped.

Redees have steadily increased in popularity to become the bestselling pre-roll, with millions manufactured to date.

“It is interesting and people wonder how and why we’re the only ones on the market with them,” he says. “That I don’t have an absolute answer for.”

However, his best guess is Redecan’s ownership team, made up of the Montour, Redekop, and Hill families.

They have lots of experience both manufacturing tobacco products and cultivating cannabis.

The Redee, they say, is the perfect marriage of the two.

As for how they’re made, Montour is reluctant to go into details about exactly what happens in their Ontario manufacturing facility, located in the Niagara Region.

“We have a retrofitted cigarette roller,” he says. “That’s no secret. That is the only way you’re going to get that signature straight-rolled joint with the filter applied.”

But some parts of the process are proprietary.

Montour says people have been trying to figure out how they’re manufacturing Redees. As of yet, there is nothing close.

THC BioMed announced the production and shipment of the first ever filtered joints, made using a cigarette machine at their Kelowna facility. However, there is no sign of them being carried yet in any stores.

While others play catch up, Redecan has packed their joints with Outlaw, Cold Creek Kush, Wappa, God Bud, and Shishkaberry strains.

They’ve also continued to hone the process.

“We’ve completely perfected the weight of the joint, the draw of the joint; what you’re getting every time is consistency, a smooth burn, a nice clean burn,” he says.

In return, sales are going through the roof, he says.

“It’s finally getting some of the recognition it deserves.”

Redecan has launched a campaign to promote the Redee, called “A Perfect 10”— as that’s how many come in a pack.

Join hundreds of cannabis insiders and sign up at okanaganz.com for the oz.’s weekly newsletter. Look for a copy of the February/March edition of the oz. print magazine at select cannabis retailers throughout the Okanagan.

Email the author at [email protected]



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A mish-mash of pot reviews

It’s that time again!

Here’s another mish-mash of some of the latest legal cannabis products we’ve tried at the oz.

BC Organic Apple Toffee

Simply Bare’s BC Organic Toffee is night and day what we were getting at the start of legalization.

Its smell was milder than expected, yet it’s sweet and light which matches its candy apple taste.

Vaping this bud produces nice clouds even at lower temperatures. A thick and heavy porcelain jar goes a long way in keeping the flower fresh.

The trim could have been better, with some leafy bits still attached. At 18.87% THC, the effect isn’t overpowering.

Here's a video review.

Summit 10

Summit 10 Lemonade Iced Tea from The Valens Company is lemony fresh, with a Nestea vibe.

It’s made with black tea, and only contains seven grams of sugar in each 355 ml bottle. Valens’ S?RSE Emulsion Technology really shines through in Summit, as there’s no cannabis taste or smell at all, and the onset is quick.

Summit 10 packs 10 mg of THC and less than one mg of CBD. This will be a great summer sipper.

Here's a video review.

Legend Chocolates

Chocolate used by Legend comes from renowned Canadian master chocolatier Bernard Callebaut.

They offer plain dark chocolate and milk chocolate, as well as flavourful varieties; raspberry, orange, candy cane crush. Each bite-sized 10-gram bar is infused with 10 mg of THC. It’s scored into four pieces (2.5 mg of THC each). There’s no hint of cannabis taste.

Legend’s offerings are some of the most affordable cannabis chocolates out there.

Pipe Dream

Pipe Dream by Broken Coast is top shelf. My sinuses were seriously tingling from vaping the 22.2% THC Sativa-dominant proprietary cultivar. It put me in a creative space. The BC-grown bud is dank and dense.

I got four nice buds in my eighth, including two really pretty ones. The smell is bright, with hints of ... nostalgia. The dominant terpenes are myrcene and caryophyllene.

Ace Valley Gummies

Gummies by Ace Valley are an old-school flashback. Sweet and dense, they’re square shaped with Ace Valley’s logo embossed on one side. Each package includes two gummies.

There are three varieties available, grapefruit, blueberry lavender and raspberry. They have different THC to CBD amounts.

These gummies were more substantial than the variety of soft chews we’ve sampled lately. They lasted longer in the mouth and had a more satisfying bite.

Here's a video review.

Visit theounce.ca for more reviews, as well as cannabis news and features. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.



More By the ounce articles

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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.

 

 



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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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