This week in Cannabis: A US law firm is suing US Customs over its authority to ban Canadian cannabis workers, Health Canada warns that the self-attestation “age gates” found on websites with cannabis promotions “may be easily circumvented by youth,” and Hobo Recreational Cannabis is drawing complaints from poverty advocates who argue the name of the yet-to-open chain of cannabis retail is a slur against homeless people.
We’ve rounded up this week’s top stories from across Canada.
US Law Firm Sues US Customs Over Lifetime Bans for Canadian Cannabis Workers
Since well before legalization, the US border has been stressful for Canadian workers in the legal cannabis industry who risked being banned from the US for life for their involvement in a product that is federally illegal in the United States.
Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP believes US Customs and Border Protection don’t actually have the legal authority under US law to ban residents of other countries, and the firm has launched a lawsuit demanding Customs and Border Protection hand over the documents upon which it decided its policy of bans.
The lawsuit is happening because—according to Davis Wright Tremaine lawyer John McKay, a former US Department of Justice Attorney—there is no transparency about who has the legal authority to ban citizens of other countries from entry.
The lawsuit demands access to information proving whether the CBP is acting on authority granted by congress, whether the agency is acting according to any other policies, and whether the CBP’s policies and procedures have been brought into effect according to Congressional rules. The law firm filed a Freedom of Information Act demanding the CBP hand over documents on which the legal case for banning cannabis workers is based, and their lawsuit claims the CBP failed to respond to the suit or apply for an extension in responding.
The Next Challenge for Micro Cultivators: Business Insurance
Another hurdle for growers hoping to acquire micro-cultivation licenses is insurance. According to an article in Insurance Business, opinions differ about how easy micro-cultivation insurance will be to get. Some argue that because liabilities for micro-cultivators are the same as for LPs, only on a much smaller scale with differences in coverage limits, it’s essentially the same game. However, cannabis insurance specialist Kevin Lea of Calgary’s Fuse Insurance argued that underwriters are not yet as comfortable insuring micro-cultivation sites as they are with LPs, due to reduced security requirements for smaller sites and the lower average business experience of micro-cultivation operators.
Lea argues there are not yet many insurers willing to take on cannabis businesses, making the insurance market specialized, though he doesn’t expect it will be like that forever. Even at the moment, getting insurance for a micro-operation is far from impossible, he notes.
“It’s out there in the market and it’s something that can definitely be done,” he says. “As the cannabis insurance market continues to soften and more new entrants come into the space, existing players are starting to relax some of their underwriting standards and pricing. However, this has been a difficult process and I think it would take only one or two notable claims within the industry for this to harden the market.” Canadian Underwriter will devote the next two weeks of their podcast to the intricacies of insuring cannabis businesses.
BC Business Conglomerate Hopes “Hobo Cannabis” will Evoke Wanderlust, Not Homelessness
One of the first adult-use cannabis retailers to get licensed in Ontario will be called Hobo Recreational Cannabis, a name that quickly drew a variety of complaints from poverty advocates, who argued the name was a slur against homeless people.
The Hobo Recreational Cannabis brand is owned by Vancouver’s Donnelly Group, operators of bars, clubs, and barbershops in that city as well as Toronto. Harrison Stoker, VP Brand and Culture for Donnelly, defended the name as evoking “a sense of wanderlust, and [implying] a passion for the journey over the actual, final destination,” and he said he did not believe the name evoked “a vagrant or homeless person.”
The company has plans to open eight Hobo Recreational Cannabis stores in British Columbia. At the moment, public cannabis use is illegal in five provinces as well as the Yukon, meaning, poverty advocates argue, cannabis has been criminal again for those without homes.
To Do List
Canadian Cannabis Wedding Expo
CALGARY, AB – The ever-expanding niche Cannabis market has reached the bridal world. The Canadian Cannabis Wedding Expo happening on Mar. 16 at Clique Hotels & Resorts will give couples the chance to engage with traditional wedding vendors and specialty cannabis brands, to learn how to incorporate cannabis into their wedding day in classy and tasteful ways. Admission is $10.
Hell’s Kitchen Party
TORONTO, ON – Puff Mama presents this Paddy’s Day dinner and comedy show featuring headliner Sam Norton and sets by Cormac McGuinness, Morgan O’Shea, Bobby Knauff, Dave Burke, Jamieson Donnell, Drew Grav, Max Sheldrick and Shawn Hogan! Advance tickets are $20 and include an Irish buffet dinner and show.
Full story is available here.