12 May 2022 |

Weekly News Round-Up: The Green Paper

By Kaitlin Domangue

The Best Cannabis Business Models

Data Breach Hits 1,200+ Ontario Dispensaries 

Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) confirmed a data breach on Tuesday affecting more than 1,200 retailers in Ontario.

The information included the store’s name, license numbers, kilograms sold that month, kilograms sold that day, total units sold, whether it’s independently owned or a franchise, and plenty more. The leak didn’t involve consumer data. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed there is an ongoing investigation and charges will be pressed if they find who is responsible.

Ontario Cannabis Store is a government-run online wholesaler and retailer that, up until recently, controlled all of Ontario’s wholesale distribution. 

OCS is calling it a criminal matter, and not a failure of their IT or security systems. 

What I’m thinking 🧠

This isn’t the first data breach in legal cannabis history, nor is it the first time OCS retailers have been a victim of a data breach.

In 2018, almost 5,000 consumers were the target of a security breach affecting Canada Post – run by the Ontario Cannabis Store. This breach was a malware-based attack on the supply chain. 

Take a look at this quote from an anonymous Ontario retailer obtained by MJBiz Daily about the most recent leak:

“This is a breach of our OCS retailer agreement. If I were to breach my own OCS retailer agreement, I wouldn’t be allowed to sell weed anymore. What happens when the OCS breaches its own agreement? There’s no recourse here. The victims are retailers who are having their sensitive data revealed.”

The financial data revealed could compromise Ontario cannabis businesses. Stores with low sales could lose potential partnerships, while stores with high sales could be victims of theft. 

Incidents like this dissolve any trust retailers had in their government and leave operators wondering why the government is running the show at all, as their official presence and control of the market are supposed to prevent these things from happening. 

🔥 Hot take: If they aren’t preventing it, I don’t see a reason why cannabis can’t be 100% private. At least privately-owned businesses have a face and name behind them, whereas the only name behind OCS is the Ontario government. 

People can be held accountable – most governments can’t. 

Maine Patient Denied Medical Cannabis On Bail

A federal judge in Maine denied the request of a defendant, accused of illegal cannabis cultivation and money laundering, to use medical cannabis while out on bail. 

The defendant, Lucas Sirois, pleaded not guilty to a 15-count federal indictment in November 2021. He was accused of selling more than $1 million worth of cannabis to out-of-state receivers between 2018 and 2019. 

His request to use medical cannabis was denied, even as a state-licensed medical patient. Sirois was ordered to not violate state, local, or federal law. And we already know that cannabis violates federal law. 

What I’m thinking 🧠

This is just nuts, and I think we all know that.

It’s telling to see a judge pull out the ol’ “cannabis violates federal law” trope only when it’s convenient. And unfortunately, it’s not really a trope. It’s the law. 

With that being said, federal law is often overlooked: hence the medical or recreational cannabis programs that exist in nearly every U.S. state without federal interference. 

Mr. Sirois’ crime is entirely separate from his need to access medical cannabis, though we have to point out we don’t advocate for unlicensed operations because they hurt legal operations. Regardless, denying someone access to their medicine is a hard thing to wrap my head around. 

If I was court-ordered to stop using medical cannabis, I can’t tell you how drastically my quality of life would dwindle. 

We do have to wonder if the defendant would be allowed to remain using cannabis if he didn’t commit a cannabis-related crime. Our gut says yes, he would, because people on probation for a DUI are still allowed to drink – they just can’t go over a certain limit. 

Medical cannabis patients, with a doctor’s recommendation, apparently aren’t allowed to do the same as they undergo investigation for a cannabis crime. And that’s just another cold, hard truth of the injustice people in cannabis still face every day. 

Rectification for Missouri Cannabis? 

The Missouri House voted on Tuesday to publicize the details of cannabis business owners in the state. 

I’ve had an up-close and personal seat to the crap show that is Missouri medical cannabis licensing, given that I live in this great state (I really do like it). 

But. Missouri’s cannabis licensing process was less than ideal. On top of the state only awarding a limited number of licenses, there’s some speculation that money and politics played a role in who was awarded a license 🤯 Who would have thought? *cue eye roll* 

So, because of that, a sort of monopoly has ensued and entities are moving in on cannabis. Missouri’s constitution says entities with substantially common control, ownership, or management can’t hold more than five dispensary licenses. 

What I’m thinking 🧠

I’m excited and think this is exactly what Missouri cannabis needs. Transparency and accountability have been a huge pain point among license holders and the cannabis community in Missouri. 

There were hundreds of denied applicants over two years ago during Missouri’s medical cannabis licensing process. And for strange reasons. 

Dr. Paul Callicoat of Sarcoxie Nursery was denied a medical cannabis license and he’s since been battling the court to challenge the number of licenses allowed in Missouri. His suit was rejected by a Missouri appeals court at the beginning of this month. There have also been talks of FBI investigations into Missouri’s medical cannabis industry. 

The cannabis community has been understandably upset by the lack of transparency and political agendas associated with licensing in the state of Missouri. This bill would force that to come to halt. This is especially helpful as Missouri is expecting to vote on recreational cannabis in the upcoming midterm election.