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CFAMM and LPs lobby government to drop tax on medical cannabis

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) urged the federal government on Tuesday to remove all taxes from medical cannabis sales, after an excise was added to prescriptions when the Cannabis Act went into effect in October, 2018. Several licensed producers, many of which absorb the tax, also want the fees dropped.

LPs have much to gain financially if the tax is dropped. Aurora Cannabis Inc. said it has allocated $250,000 toward the effort this year, with most of this going to CFAMM’s #DontTaxMedicine campaign. “We will continue to absorb the excise tax until it’s gone,” said Cam Battley, chief corporate officer for Aurora.

Organigram’s Chief Executive Greg Engel said the New Brunswick-based LP financially supports CFAMM and The Cannabis Council of Canada (C3) in their efforts to have the excise abolished from medical sales.

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In its last quarterly reporting period, Aurora swallowed around $2.9-million worth of excise charges. Canopy Growth reported absorbing around $2.1-million and OrganiGram around $2-million.

“Our selling price in the medical market is lower than the adult recreational price at retail with us absorbing the excise tax cost and the medical products not having the mark-up and additional taxes on product that the provinces typically put on the product sold at retail,” Mr. Engel said.

The price that LPs fetch for medical cannabis, however, is significantly higher than sales to the recreational market. Calculations done by AltaCorp on Aurora, Organigram, Hexo and Aphria show the average selling price of recreational dried flower at $5.19 per gram versus $8.25 per gram for medical.

“We’re comfortable with our pricing. We’re neither the highest nor the lowest,” Mr. Battley said.

Tilray also said it has been actively involved in lobbying efforts to have the excise removed from medical cannabis.

“We are strong proponents of the Task Force recommendation on creating distinctive and separate systems for medical and adult-use cannabis, as we believe medicine should not be taxed in the same manner as an adult-use recreational product,” said Philippe Luca, vice president of Tilray’s Glboal Patient Research and Access.

– Marcy Nicholson

Namaste reaches settlement with Dollinger

Namaste Technologies Inc. has reached a settlement with its former chief executive who had taken legal action against the cannabis company over his abrupt firing earlier this month. The Toronto-based firm, which operates an e-commerce platform and a portal that connects patients with doctors, says as part of the agreement Sean Dollinger has withdrawn his application for an injunction against the company. Dollinger, who is also a co-founder of Namaste, has agreed to step down from all formal roles within the company, including as director, but will act as an adviser.

– Canadian Press

Beleave appoints four directors, replaces CEO, CFO

Beleave Inc. said Tuesday it is appointing three new independent directors and one inside director, and announced the departure of its CEO and CFO. The company said the appointments are intended to enhance the company’s focus on governance and emerging and capital markets.

The newly appointed independent directors are:
  • James (Jim) Wasserstrom: A native of New York and an expert in governance, compliance and internal control. 
  • Andrew Steane: Background in software sales, marketing, operations and governance with industry giants such as Microsoft and SAP.
  • Jason Wuttunee: A Crown prosecutor in Alberta who previously litigated commercial disputes and advised clients on matters concerning employment, human rights, fraud recovery, and general litigation matters. Mr. Wuttunee is also a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan.
  • Inside director, Kevin Keagan: Mr. Keagan brings more than 25 years experience in capital markets and financial services to provide oversight to the operation, expansion, and direction of Beleave’s communications and capital markets initiatives.

Beleave said Andrew Wnek, Bojan Krasic, Mark Miles, and Mark Heselton have resigned as directors, with Mr. Wnek and Mr. Krasic also resigning from their respective CEO and CFO roles, effective immediately. Executive chairman Vasilios Panagiotakopoulos was appointed by the board to serve as CEO, with Mr. Keagan being appointed to take on the role of interim CFO until such time as a permanent CFO is selected.

– Staff

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