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Ontarians gobble up cannabis edibles

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Ontario cannabis shoppers scooped up thousands of edibles and vape products within an hour of them going on sale for the first time on the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website.

The online retailer experienced 2,000 transactions on Thursday in the hour after 70 products–cannabis-infused chocolates, cookies, soft chews, mints, tea and vapes–were made available at 9 a.m. local time.

Some products sold out within a half-hour, said the cannabis distributor’s spokesperson Daffyd Roderick.

“At 8:59 a.m., we had 3,000 people in the lobby hitting refresh, waiting to get online, so there was obviously some excitement in the marketplace,” he said.

“We were sold out of soft chew products within 25 minutes.”

The rollout is part of Cannabis 2.0, where the country is allowing a second wave of products like edibles, extracts and topicals to hit the market following the October 2018 legalization of cannabis in Canada. The frenzied pace of sales online Thursday comes after the products first appeared on store shelves last week. Such items were approved for sale in Canada in mid-December, but several provinces, including Ontario, delayed their rollout.

When the OCS website was first launched and the first round of cannabis products went on sale in 2018, Roderick said the site experienced “high demand,” causing online deliveries to take as long as five days to arrive. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in the first 24 hours the OCS processed 38,000 orders.

Roderick said the online debut of the edible and vape products went well, but acknowledged that there were “a few bumps.”

“Because there were so many people simultaneously refreshing, their page would drop and then they would hit refresh a couple times and they would get back,” he said.

When shoppers Thursday did make it through to the site, which was down between 12:01 a.m. and 9 a.m. to prepare for the launch, Roderick said they were most interested in soft chews.

Several packs were priced for between $6.65 and $12.35 and came in flavours such as raspberry vanilla, peach mango, pineapple orange, apple green tea and grapefruit hibiscus.

Roderick figured there popularity stemmed from soft chews having a “convenience factor” and because “not everybody loves chocolate.”

There were only three kinds of chocolate left for shoppers by noon, when The Canadian Press reviewed the website.

Roderick would not share when more stock would arrive or how much of each product was available for sale, but said its allotment is equal to physical stores and the distributor has a limited supply it has been provided with by licensed producers.

“We know that they’re doing their best to ramp up their production capacity and like everyone else, we’re waiting and watching for when those products are going to come,” he said. “The producers are very interested in getting these products to market, so they’re working as quickly as they can.”

The OCS expects cannabis topicals, concentrates and beverages to be sold in the coming months.


Vapes, edibles and tea to arrive at legal Ontario cannabis shops today

Ontario’s cannabis distributor says dozens of new marijuana products will be available in retail shops starting today, but supplies will be limited.

The Ontario Cannabis Store unveiled 59 new items, including a variety of vapes, edibles and a tea.

The products will be available in the province’s legal cannabis retail stores and on the OCS website on Jan. 16.

The distributor estimates that products will be in short supply until March as manufacturers ramp up production to meet demand.

The number of products will grow to 100 in the coming months as they receive regulatory approval.

The OCS says the new selection will help it combat black market sales across the province.


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New vaping promotion ban comes into effect in Ontario

shutterstock_1373776301A ban on the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations comes into effect across Ontario on January 1st, as the province mulls further changes to keep the items away from young people.

The regulations were announced by the Progressive Conservatives in the fall, in response to research that shows vaping is on the rise among young Ontarians.

The new rules will bring vaping regulations in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco advertisements, but will still allow the products to be promoted in specialty shops open to those 19 and older.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement that the government intends to take further action in 2020, but did not provide additional details.

“Ontario continues to review the research, trends and emerging evidence on the use and health effects of vapour products to inform future policy decisions,” Hayley Chazan said.

“We expect to put forward additional regulations to protect youth in the new year.”

In early December, Elliott said the government was considering a ban on flavoured vapes, as well as examining the nicotine content in the products and where they should be sold.

With the new regulations banning promotion, Ontario joins seven other Canadian provinces which have introduced similar restrictions.

The province was set to ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores in 2018 under the previous Liberal government, but the Tories paused those regulations after taking office.

At that time, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco – which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation – asked the Ford government to ban display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stores across Ontario.

The groups said such advertising would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers.

On Monday, the campaign’s director said the latest move by the government is a positive step, but there’s more to be done.

“We’re playing a dangerous game with our kids because while there are many expressions of concern, and some indication of actions from both levels of government, we don’t actually have any substantial changes of any kind in Ontario,” Michael Perley said. “With every week that goes by, there are more young people who are taking up vaping and getting addicted to nicotine.”

Perley urged the government to ban flavoured vaping products, which he said encourage young people to take up the habit. Ontario should also raise the legal age to vape to 21 from 19, he said.

“If we don’t get on with this in the next month or two and have some rules in place, the problem will continue to get worse,” he said.

NDP health critic France Gelinas said the province is behind other jurisdictions when it comes to vaping regulations, and she has introduced a private member’s bill to address the problem. The bill, if passed, would prohibit the promotion of vaping products, regulate flavours, set a maximum amount of nicotine per vape, restrict sales to specialty shops, and require Ontario Health to prepare an annual report on vaping usage and health effects.

“This bill sets up firm obligations on the Ministry of Health to prevent Ontario youth from picking up vaping and becoming addicted to nicotine,” Gelinas said in a statement. “When it comes to protecting young people from e-cigarettes and vaping, Ontario is woefully behind the pack.”

 


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Carbon tax rebate amounts reduced in four provinces

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 10.44.00 AMThe federal government has decreased the carbon tax rebates Canadians can expect in the new year in three provinces that have not adopted carbon pricing models that meet federal requirements.

The government has also added Alberta to the mix after that province’s United Conservative party repealed the previous government’s consumer carbon tax.

The biggest drop in the rebate will be in Saskatchewan, where the federal Finance Department says a family of four will qualify for rebates totalling $809 in 2020, down from the $903 that was projected last year.

In Ontario, the rebate for a family of four has been set at $448, down from $451, while families in Manitoba will receive $486, a decrease from $499.

A family of four in Alberta will see a rebate of $888 in 2020.

The rebates are meant to offset the added consumer costs resulting from Ottawa’s carbon tax of $20 per tonne of carbon emitted into the atmosphere for 2020, rising to $30 per tonne in 2021.

The Trudeau government has maintained that most households will receive more money back through the rebates than they pay in carbontaxes on things such as gasoline and home-heating fuels.

The carbon tax scheme was introduced earlier this year as a way to encourage Canadians to use less carbon-based products, thereby reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Here are the rebate amounts for individuals and families, by province, in 2020, according to a government statement:

Ontario:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $224

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $112

Each child under 18 – $56

Baseline amount for a family of four – $448

Manitoba:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $243

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $121

Each child under 18 – $61

Baseline amount for a family of four – $486

Saskatchewan:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $405

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $202

Each child under 18 – $101

Baseline amount for a family of four – $809

Alberta:

Single adult or first adult in a couple – $444

Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent – $222

Each child under 18 – $111

Baseline amount for a family of four – $888


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Ontario considering ban on flavoured vaping products, health minister says

The Ontario government’s concern for young residents is prompting it to entertain the idea of banning flavoured vaping products, the province’s health minister said last week, as another Canadian province finalized its own prohibition on the popular items.

Christine Elliott said Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is concerned about the spike in youth vaping and is looking at a variety of measures to address it.

“We do know there is more to be done so we are taking a look at the flavoured vapes,” she said. “We are looking at the nicotine content in vapes. We are looking at where vaping products should be sold … we will be taking more steps, absolutely.”

The minister’s statement came the same day Nova Scotia’s health minister announced that province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices starting April 1, 2020.

Randy Delorey said the move is aimed at promoting a smoke-free culture in a province where vaping rates have been growing, especially among young people.

Elliott said her advice to young people is to not start vaping, adding that some of the products – featuring enticing flavours such as cotton candy and peach juice – appear to be targeted to a young audience.

“We don’t know the long-term health effects of them,” she said of the products. “We are studying them now, but it’s not a benign substance. It’s not peach juice. You need to be very concerned about using these products.”

Vaping proponents say it is a safer alternative to smoking and can help people quit that habit.

Ontario said last month it would ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations, a measure that will come into effect next month.

The province’s previous Liberal government was set to implement similar measures that would have kicked in last July, but the Progressive Conservatives paused those regulations shortly after taking office.

Health authorities in Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping. In the United States, health officials have reported 1,604 cases of vaping-related illnesses, including 34 deaths.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. issued an updated statement regarding the outbreak of lung illness linked to vaping.

It said it has identified vitamin E acetate as a “chemical of concern” among people with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injuries.

The CDC said Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive and thickening agent in THC-containing vaping products.

Elliott issued a ministerial order to public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease earlier this fall.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said Thursday that Ontario should follow Nova Scotia’s lead and ban flavoured vaping products.

“Given the number of teens vaping now that’s becoming a huge issue and we need to stop that,” he said.


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Vaping backlash: Nova Scotia bans flavoured e cigarettes, Ontario mulls the same

A nationwide clamp down on vaping continued Thursday as Nova Scotia announced a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, while Ontario hinted that it may soon do the same.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices in regulatory changes that take effect April 1, 2020.

“This decision is in response to our concerns about the growth in particular of youth vaping,” said Delorey.

Though Nova Scotia has drastically reduced youth smoking rates in the last 30 years, that progress has been stalled by the popularity of flavoured vaping products, he said.

“This is not just about reducing vaping access and use, but it’s also a means to stem potential transfers into traditional tobacco usage as well,” Delorey said.

Between 2017-18, the number of young people smoking and vaping in Canada increased for the first time in several decades, Delorey said.

A recent survey conducted by Smoke Free Nova Scotia suggested 95 per cent of young Nova Scotians who vape said they preferred flavoured juices – and 48% of those surveyed said they would quit if flavours were banned.

A 2016-17 survey suggested 37% of Nova Scotia students in grades 7 to 12 had tried vaping at least once – one of the highest rates in Canada.

Delorey said the province plans to roll out a public education campaign and more vaping legislation next year. Under Nova Scotia’s current law, e-cigarette products cannot be sold to anyone under 19.

Delorey wouldn’t tip his hand on what further restrictive steps would be included in new legislation, but said he has taken notice of what’s being done in other provinces. He said it’s also important that any potential changes align with steps taken at the federal level.

“It doesn’t make sense to duplicate the legislative and regulatory framework between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, so what’s being done at the federal level will have some influence and impact on what we decide to do here provincially,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Ontario’s health minister said her province is also considering a ban on flavoured vaping products. Ontario has already said it would ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations beginning next month.

“We do know there is more to be done so we are taking a look at the flavoured vapes,” Christine Elliott said. “We are looking at the nicotine content in vapes. We are looking at where vaping products should be sold … we will be taking more steps, absolutely.”

Ontario Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the province should follow Nova Scotia’s example and ban flavoured vaping products.

“Given the number of teens vaping now that’s becoming a huge issue and we need to stop that,” he said.

New restrictions on vaping were recently adopted in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The P.E.I. government passed legislation last month that sets the highest age limit in the country, raising the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.

The legislation also bans certain flavours of e-cigarettes and restricts where the products can be sold.

In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that would boost the provincial sales tax on such products from seven per cent to 20 per cent.

Earlier this week, Newfoundland and Labrador banned the introduction of cannabis vape products when pot consumables go on sale later this month.

In November, several health advocacy groups called on the Nova Scotia government to take urgent action to curb what they called a youth vaping epidemic.

Kelly Cull, of the Canadian Cancer Society, called Thursday’s move an “excellent first step.”

She said she’d like to see upcoming legislation raise the minimum age to 21, restrict where e-cigarette products can be sold, cap nicotine levels, and ban online sales.

Robert MacDonald, president and CEO of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, said the province should also consider taxation as a means to reduce vaping.

“We’ve seen that in tobacco (and) it’s reduced rates,” said MacDonald.

In the United States, 47 deaths have been attributed to vaping, and 2,000 cases of severe lung disease have been reported.

Thirteen cases of vaping-associated lung illness had been reported in Canada as of Dec. 3. So far there have been no deaths.


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Ontario’s anti-carbon tax stickers here to stay

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 10.32.57 AMAnti-carbon tax stickers will stay up on gas pumps as “a matter of transparency” while Ontario continues its court fight against the federal levy, the province’s energy minister said.

Greg Rickford defended the Progressive Conservative government’s controversial decal as a way to provide people with important information on the carbon price, a measure he referred to as “job-killing.”

A government law forcing gas station owners to post the stickers came into effect at the end of August, weeks before the start of the federal election, and they will stay up even now that the vote is over, Rickford said.

“The sticker campaign will certainly remain,” he said. “We believe that as a matter of transparency consumers have the right to know where those cost pressures are. Look, over the course of time, retailers … have not hesitated in many instances to put a pie chart on their gas pumps to let people know where those costs are.”

The Progressive Conservative government has been waging a legal and public relations battle against the carbon tax since taking power last summer. Their efforts include the new legislation, which threatens to impose a fine of $150 against gas station operators who fail to display the stickers.

Rickford said no gas station owners have yet been fined, and inspectors are currently only issuing warnings.

The stickers have been criticized as forced speech by opposition politicians and Ontario’s Chamber of Commerce, who have called on the government to stop the program.

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford said in August that voters would determine the fate of the legal challenge on the Oct. 21 federal election. But last week, following the federal Liberals’ re-election, the Tories said they would proceed with the court challenge of the tax. Rickford reiterated that commitment this week.

The government has earmarked $30 million for its fight against the carbon tax, which includes the legal case it is taking to the country’s top court and the sticker campaign.

A spokeswoman for federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canadians sent a clear message in last week’s election that they expect their leaders to work together on issues like affordability and cutting pollution.

“Canadians know that protecting the environment, growing the economy and making life more affordable go together,” Sabrina Kim said in a statement. “That’s what they expect, and we will continue to deliver on our commitments.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government should drop both the sticker campaign and the legal challenge immediately.

“It’s a waste of money. It’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of resources all so that the premier can fight against any kind of commitment to deal with climate change,” she said.

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser said Ford promised to let voters decide and they didn’t give him the answer he wanted.

“He killed a plan for climate change and he’s trying to kill another one and he has no plan,” he said. “That’s not helpful to Ontarians.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the Ford government “should just essentially drop this politically motivated lawsuit that he has no hope of winning anyway.”

The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.

The carbon tax is expected to cost a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022. Residents of provinces with the tax will be getting rebates on their income tax returns that start at $128 annually and increase for people with spouses or dependents at home.

 


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Ontario to ban promotion of vaping products in gas stations, convenience stores

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 9.16.36 AMOntario announced Friday it will ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations, a move critics said does not go far enough to protect the health of young people.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said she made the decision in response to new research that showed vaping is on the rise among youth in the province.

“That’s a big concern to me,” she said. “I know that is a big concern to parents and families and I’m concerned about the potential health effects the increase in vaping has brought forward so we are starting with this prohibition of advertising.”

Elliott said the ban takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Ontario was set to ban the advertising of vaping products in convenience stores under the previous Liberal government but the Progressive Conservatives paused regulations that were to come into effect on July 1, 2018 shortly after they took office.

The province’s change of direction Friday comes as health authorities in Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping. In the U.S., health authorities have reported 1,604 cases of vaping-related illnesses, including 34 deaths.

No single ingredient, electronic cigarette or vaping device has been linked to all the illnesses in the U.S., but most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana.

Last month, Elliott issued a ministerial order to public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease.

“My responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our young people and that’s why we’re moving forward now with this ban,” she said.

The province will still allow vaping to be promoted in specialty stores and cannabis shops, which are open to people aged 19 and older.

The government will make the change by amending a provincial regulation to bring it in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco promotion.

Ontario now joins seven other Canadian provinces that have introduced similar restrictions on vaping promotion.

A year ago, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco – which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation – asked the Ford government to ban display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stores across Ontario.

The groups said at the time that it would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers, and on Friday its director applauded the move by the government.

“It’s pretty clear the government has looked at the evidence that has been published on youth vaping on how it’s growing in Ontario since they legalized promotion in retail settings,” Michael Perley said. “The evidence says they need to do more to stop messaging to young people … that these products are normal and just like candy and pop that kids go into convenience stores to look for.”

Perley praised the provincial ban as going further than current federal limits on advertising to youth, which he describe as too subjective. But he said the Tories should limit the sale of the vaping products to the hundreds of specialty shops which already exist across the province and have the expertise to help adult smokers.

“Smokers will get much better advice there than in a convenience store with line-ups and clerks who have never been trained on this issue,” he said.

NDP health critic Frances Gelinas said the Tories should never have paused the previous government’s bill to prohibit the practice.

“We’ve taken one tiny step,” she said. “But there are so many more steps that need to be taken to make sure that we don’t have this entire generation addicted to nicotine.”

Gelinas said the province should push forward with further reforms, including limiting flavours aimed at attracting children to vaping and limiting sales to specialty stores.

Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.

The president of the Vaping Industry Trade Association said the voice of that sector has not been heard by the Ford government and called the ban “disappointing”.

Daniel David said the ban will prevent smokers from becoming aware of an option that is less harmful than tobacco.

“We strongly support measures that will restrict youth access, however this must be balanced to ensure that adult smokers still have access to these products,” he said in a statement.


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LCBO Convenience Outlets opening in select c-stores across Ontario

As part of the Provincial Government’s plan to deliver more choice and convenience for consumers when it comes to alcohol, several new Convenience Outlets are now open in Ontario convenience stores. The LCBO continues to invite businesses in select communities to apply for LCBO Convenience Outlet status with its Request for Proposal (RFP) now through October 8, 2019.

The Caledon Enterprise reports the Esso Station at Charleston Sideroad and Cataract Road in Caledon Village is up and running with “a small selection of liquor, wine, beer and ciders, including a cold fridge for some chilled varieties.” The Shell Station at Airport Road and Highway 9 in Mono Mills is “expecting to stock shelves in two to three weeks,” while, Palgrave Variety at 17210 Highway 50 in Palgrave started selling LCBO products on Sept. 5.

The Provincial government announced in June that the LCBO would authorize approximately 200 LCBO Convenience Outlets by spring 2020. Retailers in 302 communities interested in becoming authorized to sell beverage alcohol can access the RFP and download an application package here. Sixty stores were to open by now and up to another 90 by the end of 2019, with the remainder opening in spring 2020.

Established in 1962, The LCBO Convenience Outlet program (previously the Agency Store Program) provides access to beverage alcohol products to communities that do not otherwise have convenient access to an LCBO retail store. At the moment, there are more than 200 outlets across the province. The latest plans by the provincial government would see that number double.

All applicants that meet the requirements for an authorization will be entered in a lottery for each community. Those selected will be eligible to operate as LBCO Convenience Outlets.


Ontario takes legal fight over federal carbon tax to Supreme Court

Ontario is taking its fight against the federal carbon tax to the country’s top court.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek says the province is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision from Ontario’s Court of Appeal that found the carbon pricing scheme is constitutionally sound.

The Progressive Conservatives say the carbon charge is an illegal tax and a violation of the Constitution because it allows the federal government to intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

Ontario’s top court ruled in a split decision in June that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, enacted in April, is within Parliament’s jurisdiction to legislate in relation to matters of “national concern.”

The filing to the Supreme Court comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said last week that the fate of the province’s carbon tax court challenge would be decided after the federal election.

Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are all in the midst of legal challenges against the carbon price.