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Health concerns over vaping cast haze over cannabis market expansion

KELLY GERALDINE MALONE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 16th, 2019

Public health concerns over vaping have cast a haze over expansion excitement in the cannabis market.

The production and sale of cannabis derivatives — edibles, extracts, topicals and vape products — become legal Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the legalization of recreational cannabis.

Licence holders need to give 60 days notice to Health Canada that they intend to sell the products, so they won’t land on store shelves until mid-December.

Some cannabis companies in Canada are anticipating a substantial increase in sales, but Christopher Carlsten said he would have liked to see legalization of cannabis vaping products postponed, or at the very least have significantly more public education about it.

“These products get out there and then we chase our tails trying to figure out what’s going on, why we are seeing the toxicity, and then try to regulate retrospectively, which is a dangerous way to do things,” said Carlsten, head of respiratory medicine at University of British Columbia.

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment apparently linked to vaping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the number of confirmed and probable cases of the severe pulmonary illness jumped to 1,299 across 49 states, including 26 deaths.

It has said at this stage “no one device, product or substance has been linked to all cases.” But health authorities there are urging people to stop using electronic cigarettes, specifically for products containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a compound found in cannabis.

Vaping is a new trend and is constantly changing, so Carlsten said experts are just beginning to understand its impacts. Studies are showing short-term effects include swelling and heat damage to the lungs. Long-term, Calsten said, it has also being linked to emphysema.

“Their variability is just too great, the uncertainty is just too great, and I haven’t seen any particular product that has clearly been shown to be safe,” he said.

Health Canada will not be delaying the legalization of nondried-flower pot products over the concerns. There are regulatory controls for products to lower risks and Health Canada said in an email it will be able to respond to emerging health issues in a timely manner.

Ingredients in inhalable cannabis extracts will be restricted, including vitamin E acetate, which is a focus of investigation in several U.S. cases

“I am hopeful that we don’t see any knee-jerk reactions here in Canada towards prohibiting the sale or preventing the sale of these products,” said John Arbuthnot, CEO of Delta 9 Cannabis.

Delta 9 — a cannabis producer, processor and wholesale distributor based out of Winnipeg — has already been focusing much of its resources on preparing to bring vape pens and cartridges to market.

Arbuthnot said he is “very bullish” or invested in vape oil and is confident Canadian regulations will ensure the product is safe.

“Clearly the industry is very concerned, or should be, that vape cartridges will be suspended,” said Chris Damas, author of the BCMI Cannabis Report, a cannabis stock newsletter.

He said there has been significant investment by major cannabis companies to produce vape cartridges that can process concentrated cannabis.

It’s expected to become a lucrative product for legal companies who are struggling to push out persistent producers in the black market.

The Cannabis Council of Canada has said illicit vape market in Canada is estimated to be worth roughly $1 billion.

British tobacco giant Imperial Brands signed a $123-million investment deal with Auxly Cannabis Group over the summer. The London-based company has increasingly focused on e-cigarettes and vaporizers and the infusion of capital will bring that technology to the Canadian cannabis company.

Pax Labs, the American vaping company that created the Juul e-cigarette, partnered with four companies — Aphria, Aurora, Organigram and Supreme Cannabis — to provide a pen-and-pod system for cannabis concentrates.

“We are excited about the coming changes in regulation that will allow us to cover new and novel products … This agreement is one of many steps Aurora is taking to be ready for the new market opportunities,” Darren Karasiuk, chief commercial officer of Aurora, said in a news release in June.

Companies are hopeful consumers will be reassured that by following regulations their products are safe, Damas added.

Health concerns may have put a wrench in rollout plans for Canadian cannabis producers, but Damas said the result may actually be users moving to the legal market for vaping cartridges en masse.

“It’s definitely been a negative for the stocks,” he said. “But in a six- to nine-month period this will be reconciled.”

Premier Ford to make announcement in Kenora, Ont.

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 16th, 2019

KENORA, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement related to infrastructure today in Kenora, Ont.

Ford is set to speak at a local electrical firm this afternoon alongside Greg Rickford, the minister of energy and northern development and mines.

The premier has been laying low for weeks, making himself available to answer journalists’ questions just once since the federal election campaign began in mid-September.

The provincial legislature was initially meant to return from its summer break early last month but Ford extended the break until after the Oct. 21 vote.

His name has nonetheless come up frequently throughout the campaign, with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau trying to paint Ford and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as cut from the same cloth.

Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives won a majority last year, has seen his popularity plummet since then, with recent polling showing his approval ratings in the 20s and 30s.

Man critically injured in Hwy. 401 crash involving transport truck

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 16th, 2019

A man believed to be in his 30s remains in hospital after a crash involving a transport truck that closed a section of Highway 401 overnight.

Provincial police were called to the westbound collector lanes approaching Islington Avenue just after 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said a car hit the back of a transport truck.

The driver was taken to a trauma centre with life-threatening injuries. He was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

All the westbound collector lanes on the 401 were closed for more than seven hours while police investigated and the crash was cleaned up. The lanes reopened around 5:30 a.m. The express lanes remained open.

There’s no word on what caused the crash at this point.

Ontario high school teachers to hold strike vote

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 16th, 2019

The union representing thousands of public high school teachers in Ontario said Tuesday it will hold strike votes in the coming weeks, blaming the Progressive Conservative government for what it calls a failure to address key issues in contract talks.

Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation president Harvey Bischof said voting will begin Oct. 22 and finish Nov. 15.

“After five days of bargaining in total … the government and school boards have refused to engage in any substantive discussions,” he said.

Bischof said more bargaining dates are scheduled later this month and in early November, but noted the strike vote doesn’t necessarily mean teachers will walk off the job.

“Lest anybody believe we are signalling some break off of negotiations, no, that’s not the case at all,” he said.

Contracts for most of Ontario’s education sector workers expired on Aug. 31 and negotiations are at various stages.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement that a strike action would hurt students, especially the most vulnerable in the classrooms.

“My message to our labour partners is to always put kids first, and continue to work with us in good faith to make sure kids remain in class each and every day,” he said.

Last week, the union representing 55,000 education workers in Ontario reached a tentative deal with the government shortly after giving a strike notice. Under the deal, CUPE agreed to a one per cent wage increase and secured millions in government funding to restore as many as 1,500 jobs cut by the Tories.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips has said that the province will stick to its plan to cap public sector wage increases as it enters key contract talks with teachers.

The OSSTF has opposed the wage increase cap, instead asking for a “cost-of-living adjustment” based on a formula linked to the Consumer Price Index. The current rate of that increase would come in around two per cent but that could change if the economy sputters, the union argues.

Bischof said the government is refusing to engage in meaningful discussions about some of the most important issues, including staffing levels in schools.

Earlier this year, the government ordered school boards to start increasing class sizes, moving to an average for high school from 22 to 28 students over four years. Class sizes for grades 4 to 8 will increase by one student per classroom, from 23 to 24.

Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer has said the move would see 10,000 fewer teachers in the public school system over the next five years.

The high school teachers’ union recently took the rare step of releasing all of its bargaining proposals in a bid to have “transparent” negotiations with the government.

NDP education critic Marit Stiles said the Tory government needs to take the talks with OSSTF seriously.

“It’s a really sad state of affairs if the government and minister of education are not rolling up their sleeves and working hard to try to deal with the substantive issues and impact our children’s education,” she said.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner urged the government to address the concerns raised by the teachers in good faith negotiations.

“I commend the union for being transparent about their bargaining position and for making it clear that cuts to education are a direct threat to high-quality public education,” he said in a statement. “Now it’s the government’s responsibility to listen and be willing to back away from their cuts.”

Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes, Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 15th, 2019

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is barnstorming New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Tuesday, while his Conservative rival Andrew Scheer does the same in Quebec.

The difference is that Trudeau is spending his time in ridings the Liberal party is hoping to keep in the federal election on Oct. 21, and Scheer is hitting areas the Conservatives are hoping to pick up.

Trudeau’s Liberals won all the seats in Atlantic Canada in 2015, so any campaigning he does there is defensive.

He’s in Fredericton and Riverview, N.B., before moving on to Cumberland-Colchester, Masstown, New Glasgow and Halifax, N.S., where he’ll end the day with a rally.

Scheer’s day begins in Quebec City, where he’ll lay out another element of his plan for his first 100 days in office if the Conservatives form a government, and then he’ll visit Trois-Rivieres and the Montreal suburb of La Prairie — two seats held by Liberals and one by a New Democrat.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto, and the Green party’s Elizabeth May is talking about the Greens’ tax plans in Kamloops, B.C.

Vehicle involved in Scarborough hit-and-run found abandoned

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 15th, 2019

A vehicle believed to be involved in a hit-and-run that left a 20-month-old baby with serious injuries has been found abandoned.

Toronto police say the suspect Dodge Journey was located just before 6:30 p.m. in the area of St. Clair Avenue East and O’Connor Road.

Officers also were able to capture security footage of a suspect fleeing from the abandoned vehicle.

The hit-and-run occurred at the intersection of Pharmacy Avenue and Ellesmere Road just before 11 a.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Police say three people, including the toddler who was in a stroller, were standing on the south curb when they were struck by a car travelling eastbound on Ellesmere as it failed to stop at a red light, crossed through the intersection and mounted the sidewalk. The toddler suffered serious injuries while the other two women, a 37- and 57-year-old, were also injured.

Three occupants of the vehicle got out before fleeing the scene.

Police are still looking for three persons of interest in connection with the incident: Cory Munroe, 49, Derek Desousa, 34, and Amanda Rioux, 30, all of Toronto.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

1 injured in 2-vehicle crash in Brampton

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 15th, 2019

A man is in hospital after a two-vehicle crash in Brampton overnight.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at Bovaird Drive and Torbram Road just before midnight.

Police said the driver suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.

The other driver remained at the scene and wasn’t injured in the crash.

Police said a light pole was also knocked down in the crash.

Bovaird remains closed in both directions from Sunnymeadow Boulevard to Mountainash Road, and Torbram is closed from Peter Robertson to Prospect Gate while police investigate.

Child injured after crash involving GO bus at Dufferin and Finch

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 15th, 2019

A child, believed to be 13 years old, has been rushed to hospital after a crash involving a GO bus.

Emergency crews were called to Dufferin Street at Finch Avenue West just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.

A tanker trailer and a van were also involved in the crash.

Police said the male teen, who was a passenger in the van, has a serious leg injury.

Police also have a male at the scene who was driving the van who they believe is also 13 years old.

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