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Report on Business Cannabis Professional Fri., Sept. 6: CannTrust layoffs; clues in vaping illnesses; Edmonton police raid illegal shops; Canopy Rivers on TSX

annabis Professional’s daily roundup of industry news. View archive here.

CannTrust laid off around 180 employees, reducing its workforce by 20 per cent. New York State’s Health Department said it suspects Vitamin E Acetate may be the cause of vape and e-cigarette-related respiratory illnesses that have occurred across the U.S. Edmonton police have seized cannabis and issued fines to unlicensed businesses. Canopy Rivers said that it will begin trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange next week.

– Mark Rendell

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CannTrust lays off 180 staff

CannTrust Holding said late Thursday it was laying off about 180 people following repeated problems with both its product and how it has been produced. “We have made the extremely difficult decision to restructure our workforce to reflect the current requirements of our business,” said Robert Marcovitch, interim head of CannTrust Holdings. The layoffs amount to about 20 per cent of the company’s workforce.

In August, the Ontario government’s cannabis retailer said it would return almost $3 million worth of cannabis to the company after determining that some of the products didn’t live up to the terms of its supply agreement.

The move by the province’s crown corporation in charge of wholesale distribution and online pot retail was the latest setback for the cannabis producer, which continues to be under investigation by Health Canada.

In July, CannTrust disclosed the federal regulator’s findings that the company was growing cannabis in unlicensed rooms in its greenhouse in Pelham, Ont.

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- Canadian Press

New York State suspects Vitamin E Acetate is the cause of vape-related respiratory illnesses

The New York State Department of Health suspects that the additive Vitamin E Acetate may be the cause of the wave of vape and e-cigarette-related respiratory illnesses that have occurred across the U.S. in recent months.

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The Health Department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory has been investigating 34 reports from New York doctors of “pulmonary illness among patients ranging from 15 to 46 years of age who were using at least one cannabis-containing vape product before they became ill,” the department said in a news release on Thursday.

“Laboratory test results showed very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed by the Wadsworth Center as part of this investigation. At least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing,” the department said.

The department released photographs of products it said contained Vitamin E Acetate, which included the black market brands Dank Vapes and Chronic Carts.

“Vitamin E acetate is a commonly available nutritional supplement that is not known to cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, the Department continues to investigate its health effects when inhaled because its oil-like properties could be associated with the observed symptoms.”

Last Friday, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control issued a warning against using vapes and e-cigarettes, after reports of 215 people in 25 states with respiratory illnesses apparently linked to vaping. Health Canada issued a warning about vaping on Tuesday, although said that no cases of vape-related illnesses have been reported in Canada.

– Mark Rendell

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Edmonton police seize pot, fine eight unlicensed businesses

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said it seized roughly $1,500 in cannabis products that were being sold illegally from three separate businesses in late-August, and fined a total of eight for selling without a licence. In addition to seizing products from three businesses on Aug. 21, Edmonton police fined eight a total of $48,000 for business licence and zoning bylaw offences.

Though the monetary value of the products is small, the move underscores the challenges that the legal industry and law enforcement face nearly one year after recreational pot was legalized in Canada. Alberta has by far the most licensed adult-use cannabis retail stores in the country, but illegal marijuana purchases still make up the majority of sales as the legal industry slowly ramps up.

“With edibles coming soon, we want to remind all workers in the cannabis industry that if you’re selling any cannabis products without a licence, including those that contain CBD, businesses can be fined up to $50,000, and individual workers can face a fine of up to $10,000,” said Cst. Dexx Williams, EPS Cannabis Liaison.

- Marcy Nicholson

Canopy Rivers to start trading on the TSX

Canopy Rivers Inc. said that its class A subordinated shares will begin trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on September 9. The venture capital firm, which takes minority investments in cannabis and cannabis-related companies, currently trades on the TSX-Venture exchange.

Rivers’ shares will continue to trade under the ticker ‘RIV.’

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- Mark Rendell

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