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Can legal edibles take off

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Slowly and unevenly, legal cannabis edibles are starting to appear across Canada.

Many Canadians have told pollsters that they’re interested in trying edibles, and producers hope that ‘Cannabis 2.0’ will turn their businesses around after a rough first year.

But to succeed, legal edibles will have to hold their own against three sources of competition: the illegal market, customers themselves — who can make their own edibles in some cases — and the much cheaper gel caps and oils that have been available since legalization. 

Illegal edibles

The mail-order marijuana (or MOM) sector has been selling edibles for a while now.

However, their offerings tend to be very powerful — far more than federal rules would allow legal producers to sell.

 

This chocolate bar, for example, has 300 mg of THC, which would be overwhelming for an inexperienced user. (“Begin with 1/4 of the bar and allow 30-90 minutes before ingesting any more,” the seller advises.)

By contrast, legal edibles can’t contain more than 10 mg and typically come in 5 mg or 2.5 mg strengths.

In practice, what that means is that the MOMs cater to heavy users with high tolerances, and the legal market serves new or occasional users who may find that 5 mg is all they want or need.

“An experienced user, someone who is used to having 100-milligram dosages, is not going to be all that interested in a 10-milligram product,” says Brock University professor Michael Armstrong.

Jenna Valleriani, executive director of Hope for Health Canada, thinks the public needs an idea of a “standard dose” of THC, similar to a unit of alcohol. New users, who may not understand what a given number of milligrams of THC means for their personal experience, need guidance. 

“I think for most consumers, especially naïve and new consumers, they’re looking at 10 milligrams and that doesn’t really resonate as anything. It doesn’t really have a lot of meaning,” Valleriani says.

 

“I think that 10 milligrams is too high for a standard dose. The standard dose should be a lot lower, around 2.5 to 5 milligrams.”

 

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Valleriani agrees that legal edibles will have little appeal for heavy users.

“For users who need higher doses, really their only option is to buy those products illegally, or make them themselves so they can make them more potent.”

Low-dosed legal products do tend to protect inexperienced people from overconsuming, she argues.

“Generally policy is meant to safeguard the most amount of people. And most people are not actually cannabis users, so they don’t have that experience.”

However, that does leave the problem of how heavy users can be coaxed to start buying from the legal market.

Producers are just starting to cater to cost-sensitive heavy users: Hexo, for example, sells a bargain-priced 28-gram bag of dry flower in Ontario and Quebec.

“If you’re a heavy user, you’re going to feel that price more,” Armstrong says. “Getting products priced into the black market range, like Hexo started doing in October, with a $4.49 product in Quebec. We need more of those.”

Valleriani thinks legal producers will eventually be allowed to offer higher-strength edibles.

“It’s going to take time, and developing better products. Once these products are unrolled, and nothing catastrophic happens, I think that there will be movement there to be able to loosen up those regulations.”

In the meantime, buying the legal equivalent of the $26 black-market chocolate bar linked above would involve buying 30 chocolate bars from the B.C. Cannabis Stores for $209.70 plus shipping. (That goes a bit over the legal shipping limit, and also involves buying 480 grams of chocolate, or over a pound.)

 

Homemade edibles

Until they sold out, the B.C. Cannabis Stores were selling THC-infused cookies for $6 each.

Most of that price, of course, reflected the 5 mg of THC in the cookie, rather than the other ingredients.

But cannabis oils have been available since Day 1 of legalization. A bottle of oil containing 250 mg of THC costs about $30 at the Ontario Cannabis Store now, which works out to 60 cents for a unit of 5 mg.

Given that you can use the oil, plus normal baking ingredients, to make your own edibles in your own kitchen, there would seem to be no reason to spend anything close to $6 on a cookie with 5 mg of THC, if that’s what you want.

 

But both Armstrong and Valleriani doubt that many consumers will bother — it’s on a long list of things, like home canning and changing the oil on your own car, that most people could do but don’t.

“It’s similar to growing, right,?” Valleriani says.

“Even though we’re allowed to grow so many plants at home, a lot of people simply don’t do it, because it requires a little bit of effort and I think the same thing goes for making edibles on your own, as well. People do it sometimes. Most people maybe do it once or twice, if that, but generally people aren’t really taking advantage of that.”

Armstrong thinks that most people will put convenience over savings.

“If you can make a cookie that gives adults the taste they like and gives them the high they like, then they might be more willing to pay that $6. They’re willing to pay that price because it gives them exactly the sensation they want.

“They could make it at home, but there are lots of things they could make at home but they just buy off the shelf.”

Oils and gel caps

One surprise of legalization was that consumers had almost no interest in the oils and gel caps which for a long time were one of the few alternatives to dry flower. Producers produced too much, retailers stocked more than it turned out they could sell, and Canopy took an $8 million hit last year when provincial wholesalers returned millions of dollars’ worth of product that few people seemed to want.

Perhaps part of the problem is their look and feel: they look like something you might buy at a pharmacy, which is not surprising since they were originally developed for medical patients.

However, in a zero-charm sort of way, they’re the cheapest edible products legally sold.

For example, the B.C. Cannabis Stores sells a soft candy with 5mg of THC for $3, but 5 mg gel caps for a price that works out to 80 cents each. (You could measure out some oil and get the price down to 60 cents.)

“I wonder if most people are that aware in breaking down the cost/benefit saving,” Valleriani says. “People whose job it is to know — they’re medical patients and they’re on strict budgets — they probably make it their business to know.”

“People are simply not doing the math.”

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Goldman Sachs moves to full ownership of China securities JV

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Goldman Sachs said on Sunday it received approval from China’s securities regulator to take full control of its mainland securities business.

The U.S. bank said it would buy the remainder of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities Company Ltd (GSGH), and rename it as Goldman Sachs (China) Securities Company Ltd.

The migration of its onshore business units to GSGH from Beijing Gao Hua Securities was underway, it added.

“This marks the start of a new chapter for our China business following a successful 17-year joint venture,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

It becomes the second Wall Street firm to be granted approval to shift to full ownership of its securities business after JPMorgan Chase & Co moved to 100% in August https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/jpmorgan-gets-beijings-approval-first-fully-foreign-owned-brokerage-2021-08-06.

Securities businesses in China typically house investment banking, research, equities and fixed income businesses.

Unlike most of the other China JVs, Goldman had day-to-day operational control of its business even with its minority ownership.

Lucrative underwriting fees on equity and bond transactions – especially initial public offerings (IPOs) – in China’s expanding capital markets has been the driving force for Western banks to increase stakes in their mainland business.

Full ownership could allow foreign banks to expand their operations in the multi-trillion-dollar Chinese financial sector, and better integrate them with their global businesses.

Morgan Stanley currently owns 90% of its securities joint venture with partner Shanghai Chinafortune Co Ltd after increasing its stake https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/morgan-stanley-nears-full-ownership-china-ventures-with-stake-buys-2021-05-28 in May.

China’s regulators had examined Goldman Sach’s application to move to full ownership https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/goldman-sachs-signs-pact-wholly-own-china-joint-venture-2020-12-11 since the bank flagged its intention to buy out its partner in December.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Stephen Coates)

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From Canada? Want to go to the U.S.A.? Better have the right vaccine – Boing Boing

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The last couple of years have been hard on Canadian Snowbirds. Many of us, myself included, are used to heading south in the fall, to escape the icy bullshit of a Canadian winter. Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, a lot of us have been trapped, north of the wall, since March 2020. 

I’ve been fine with this. 

When the land border was closed down to everyone but essential travellers, my mindset was that if I was going to get sick, I’d just as soon do it in my own nation where healthcare is free (yeah, we pay our taxes, but still.) Then, last winter, the vaccines started to roll out. By early spring, both my wife and I had been injected with two doses of Pfizer’s version of the brew. We breathed a sigh of relief and began to hope that we might, one day soon, be able to start our travels again. I’m sure that lots of other folks did too. Unfortunately, depending on where in Canada they live, it wasn’t a sure bet that they’d wind up with two doses of the same vaccine. In the rush to get as many Canadians vaccinated against the plague as possible, many provinces started mixing and matching whichever vaccines that they had on hand.

So, you could wind up with Pfizer for your first jab and Moderna for your second. It’s cool, they told us. Mixing vaccines affords tons of protection, we were assured. Why, we’d all be able to get back to our lives in no time… provided said life doesn’t include travelling to one of many countries where vaccine mixing is considered to be a dangerous load of bullshit. You may have guessed by now, that America is one of those countries.  

From The CBC:

…at the same time the U.S. reopens the land border, it will start requiring that foreign land and air travellers entering the country be fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesn’t recognize mixed COVID-19 vaccines — such as one dose of AstraZeneca, and one dose of Pfizer or Moderna — and hasn’t yet said if travellers with two different doses will be blocked from entry when the vaccine requirement kicks in.

So that sucks. 

According to the CBC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might soon consider changing their stance on mixed vaccines. I’d like to think that a crap load of data on the effectiveness of mixed vaccine dosing will play into such a decision. No matter how badly folks might want to head south for the winter, Americans deserve to be as safe as they can be. 

In the meantime, I suspect that, just like last fall, many snowbirds will wind up on Vancouver Island, where I hang my hat, these days. It’s warm enough here that living in an RV is both possible and comfortable.

But I’ll tell ya, it’s a far cry from kicking back in the trade winds on the cusp of Texas’ southern border.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

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Travel industry, health experts applaud U.S. decision to allow travellers with mixed doses – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The organization representing Canada’s tourism industry is applauding the U.S. government’s decision to allow Canadian travellers with mixed vaccine doses once the border opens in November.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that travellers with “any combination” of two doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “are considered fully vaccinated.”

Beth Potter, who is president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says the announcement is “really good news.”

“What it does is it provides a little bit more clarity, and this is something that we’ve talked about a lot. We know now that if you’ve got that mixed dose, as of November you’re going to be able to enter into the United States,” she told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

Infectious disease expert Isaac Bogoch of the University Health Network in Toronto says allowing mixed dosed travellers is “a smart and data driven approach.”

“This will be a huge relief to many Canadians who did the right thing and got vaccinated and even took those mixed and matched vaccine approaches. It’s safe, it’s effective, and now there’s a recognition of this,” Bogoch said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Saturday.

“I’m really happy to hear this. It’s about time.”

This announcement came after the White House confirmed that the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico would be open to fully vaccinated tourists by Nov. 8.

On the American side, the U.S. Travel Association also applauded the Biden Administration’s plans to reopen the border.

“Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions,” said association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement on Friday.

“We applaud the administration for recognizing the value of international travel to our economy and our country, and for working to safely reopen our borders and reconnect America to the world.”

But while the U.S. won’t require Canadians to show proof of vaccination to cross, returning to Canada requires a negative PCR test conducted at most 72 hours before crossing the border.

PCR tests can cost upwards of $200. The Canadian government does not accept rapid antigen tests, which can be had for only $40.

Brian Higgins, a New York congressman whose district includes the border cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, wants to see Canada drop the COVID-19 PCR test requirement.

“I think that the U.S. decision to allow Canadians coming into the United States without a test again underscores the potency of the vaccine,” Higgins told The Canadian Press on Friday. “I would like to see that reciprocated by our Canadian neighbours.”

However, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that Canada will continue to require PCR tests so long as the Public Health Agency of Canada advocates for it.

“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that advice has evolved as new evidence and new data is available. We’ll continue to follow the advice in the Public Health Agency Canada​,” he said in an ​interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

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