Markers Insurance Introduces Canada’s First Guaranteed-Issue Insurance Product Covering Medical Cannabis

Markers Financial Inc. (“Markers Insurance” or the “Company”), a division of Evergreen Pacific Insurance Corporation (“EPIC”), announces it is introducing Canada’s first guaranteed issue insurance product for individuals providing coverage for medical cannabis prescriptions. The Company plans to launch its individual product, followed by a group product for companies wishing to provide such benefits to their employee group, by August 15, 2018.

Robert Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of EPIC, commented, “our introduction of insurance coverage for medical cannabis will go a long away toward supporting a more legitimate, patient-centric approach to patient care in Canada. We anticipate a very positive market reception in August.”

Similar to the way in which dental insurance is administrated in Canada, medical cannabis producers licensed by Health Canada will be paid directly by the insurer, such that patients will never be out of pocket for the cost of their prescriptions. Policies will be customized to each insured’s actual requirements, with no caps or restrictions based on pre-existing conditions. All medical cannabis producers licensed by Health Canada are eligible to participate in this program. In late May, the Company began the process of enrolling licensed producers as both medical cannabis suppliers and channel sales partners across Canada, and this process is ongoing.

About Markers Insurance

Markers is a Canadian insurance agency and is headquartered at 400-1500 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada. The products marketed and sold by the Company will be underwritten by the Canadian insurance industry. See www.markersinsurance.com.

About EPIC

Evergreen Pacific Insurance Corporation Ltd. is a financial-services holding company. EPIC owns, operates, and invests in businesses involved in designing, developing and distributing highly innovative insurance products and risk management solutions. See www.evergreenpacific.ca

The information contained in this news release is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to issue or arrange to issue, or the solicitation of an offer to issue, securities of Evergreen Pacific Insurance Company Ltd. (EPIC) or other related entities. The information contained herein is not investment or financial product advice and is not intended to be used as the basis for making an investment decision. The views, opinions and advice provided in this news release are provided for information purposes only. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information, opinions and conclusions contained in this news release. Except for statements of historical fact, this news release may contain certain “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the statements are made, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. This news release does not constitute an offer of shares for sale in the United States or to any person that is, or is acting for the account or benefit of, any U.S. person as defined in Regulation S under the United States Securities Act of 1933 (as amended the “Securities Act”), or in any other jurisdiction in which such an offer would be illegal. Evergreen’s shares have not been and will not be registered under the Securities Act.

SOURCE Evergreen Pacific Insurance Corporation

Legalization Of Recreational Cannabis In Canada: Real Estate Trends

The recreational cannabis industry has always existed. But, if all goes as planned, a new one will be born in Canada this summer, anointed with the blessing of the laws of the land.

Business owners, operators, investors and advisers have long realized the potential implications of what is to come. The global business consultancy, Deloitte, has projected the size of a legal, recreational retail cannabis market in Canada at nearly $9 billion per year, which figure swells to over $20 billion if the ancillary market for cannabis related products and services is included. There has already been a “green rush” by equity investors into medical marijuana companies, which, of course, will become the major players in the new recreational market, with more than $466 million raised in Canadian capital markets in 2016 alone.

Prices for cannabis stocks soared into late 2017, leading to a flurry of “cheap” M&A activity (i.e. stock exchanged for stock with little or no cash involved – see, for example, the recent acquisition by Aurora Cannabis Inc. of MedReleaf Corp.). At the same time, increasing numbers of financiers have got involved too, in many instances offering financial assistance to licensed producers looking to expand and acquire cannabis production and refinement facilities. Even one of the big five Canadian banks (BMO) has finally jumped on board, recently participating in a $175 million “bought deal” securities issue.

With legalization not far off, we are also seeing both the private and public retail channels ramping up their physical locations. While all jurisdictions offer production licences, currently only some will offer retail licenses (e.g. Alberta will allow privately run stores whereas sales in Ontario will occur only through provincial liquor control board outlets). In any case, the retail landscape is set to change dramatically across the country over the next five to 10 years as a result of these new laws.

Residential landlords will also feel the impact of the new legislation as it will now allow tenants to grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal use. This creates obvious safety and potential damage concerns for landlords since, for example, each unit of a multi-unit apartment could now, in theory, contain a small scale grow operation.

As expansion and consolidation in the burgeoning marijuana industry continue and as Canadian companies focus on scaling up operations to meet post-legalization consumer demand, from a bird’s eye legal perspective, we anticipate the following real estate trends to continue:

  1. Increased acquisition and disposition of real estate as a result of increased M&A activity
  2. Increased acquisition of real estate for production, refinement and retail purposes
  3. Increased financing from all levels (including potentially all Schedule 1 banks once risk exposure decreases when legalization occurs) for the above purposes
  4. Increased leasing (and sub-leasing) in the commercial real estate sector, with numerous special considerations and issues to be dealt with in any lease of space to a cannabis-related industry player.
  5. Increased push from residential landlords, with respect to marijuana growth and use restrictions, to i) revise proposed legislation and ii) amend leases.

Of course, most of these new laws were enacted under the guise of protecting youth from the hard criminals who push illegal substances. As with any government initiatives, they are replete with political risk with respect to implementation. Nevertheless, legalization itself seems certain, even if the specific timing does not.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Canadian Health Insurance Company to Cover Medical Cannabis

Excerpted article was written by Allison Tierney 

A major Canadian health insurance company will soon cover medical cannabis. Sun Life Assurance Co. is set to add medical cannabis to its group benefits plan on March 1. It will be the first major Canadian insurance company to take this step.

“Sun Life’s approach reflects current evidence-based clinical knowledge regarding the medical use of cannabis,” Sun Life said in a release on Thursday.

“As this has become something our clients—being the individual companies known as plan sponsors—have been asking us about more and more, we have moved from the stage of evaluate and review, to now offering it as a benefit for medicinal purposes,” Dave Jones, senior vice-president of group benefits at Sun Life, told the Globe and Mail.

The yearly maximums for those who will be covered through Sun Life for medical cannabis range from $1,500 to $6,000 per person per year. Medical cannabis will be an optional coverage through Sun Life, which insures more than 22,000 companies in Canada. Sun Life currently lists the following conditions and symptoms as being eligible for coverage: cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and for patients in palliative care. There will be a prior approval process for those seeking coverage.

Justin Loizos, owner-operator of the compassion club Just Compassion in Toronto, has officially been a medical cannabis patient since 2012. Loizos uses cannabis as a medicine because he has MS and post-traumatic stress disorder. He estimates he would spend about $80,000 per year for his medical cannabis if he didn’t have access to wholesale pricing through the compassion club he owns.

“I own and operate a dispensary—the only reason I can afford my medicine is because of this,” Loizos said.

Loizos said going through the current legal system rather than the grey area his dispensary operates in isn’t an option to for him right now because what’s offered would fall short of his needs and wouldn’t keep him out of the hospital.

Loizos said the average grams used for medical cannabis patients would be significantly lower than his needs, however, as he describes himself as an “oddity.” He estimated it would be three to five grams per day for an average medical cannabis patient, whereas he uses around 40 grams per day (though it can vary depending on his medical needs).

Loizos said Sun Life’s coverage would likely cover only about a gram per day.

However, Craig Jones, the executive director of NORML Canada, said that he’s hopeful the cost of cannabis will go down after Canada’s cannabis legalization and regulation are put into action this year. NORML Canada is a non-profit that “aims to eliminate all civil and criminal penalties” for private cannabis use.

“It’s likely that the cost of cannabis will decline and—once people figure out which strains work best for which conditions—they’ll have no problem accessing through government vendors or from friends,” Jones told VICE via email.

Jones said it’s essential that more good-quality research is conducted on cannabis. He said that doctors are slow to pick up on new therapies such as cannabis—in part due to its stigmatization, but also because there needs to be more quality research and the results of such in the public domain.

“NORML Canada has long held that the full potential of cannabis is yet to be discovered—and with legalization and the end of bureaucratic obstacles, we may be on the verge of a whole new research era,” Jones said.

“I expect that insurers will expand availability as we learn more about what cannabis therapies work for which groups and conditions,” Jones told VICE. “We are at early days. Expect the unexpected.”

Sun Life’s coverage will categorize medical cannabis under “medical services and equipment” rather than under a drug benefit since it does not have a drug identification number (DIN). Medical cannabis does not have a DIN since it has yet to be approved by Health Canada under the Food and Drugs Act.

For Loizos, medical cannabis has greatly improved his life. Proper dosage level has meant that he has greatly reduced his number of hospital visits for MS-related issues, including being able to avoid potentially dangerous therapies such as those including large amounts of IV steroids.

A next step forward, Loizos said, is for provinces’ disability support programs (such as Ontario’s ODSP) to cover costs—not just a gram per day, but whatever amount a doctor prescribes—of medicinal cannabis.

“Sun Life taking this first step is gigantic,” Loizos said. “Even if it’s a gram a day or whatever, it’s not a joke, it’s showing that a major staple in our medical community has accepted cannabis as medicine and is allowing coverage. That’s very positive.”

VICE

Licensed marijuana producer Aphria Inc. signs deal to buy Nuuvera Inc.

By Armina Ligaya

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Licensed marijuana producer Aphria Inc. has struck an $826-million deal to buy Nuuvera Inc. to fuel its international expansion efforts, marking the latest move by a Canadian cannabis company to extend its global reach while U.S. competition is kept at bay.

The cash-and-stock deal to buy the Toronto-based medical cannabis firm builds on a partnership between the companies as it combines Aphria’s production with Nuuvera’s expertise in cannabis processing and extraction.

Nuuvera, which is in the final stages under Health Canada’s process to become a licensed marijuana producer, has business relationships in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, including a license to import medical cannabis to Italy for sales to domestic pharmacies.

“In all, this positions us to grow internationally and realize the potential of these emerging cannabis markets,” Aphria chief executive Vic Neufeld told analysts on a conference call Monday.

Many Canadian licensed marijuana producers have been racing to international markets that have larger populations, and market demand, than at home.

The latest examples include Canopy Growth Corp.’s plans announced in December to establish a 40,000-square-metre production facility in the Danish city of Odense, with the aim of exporting product to other federally legal jurisdictions in the European Union. Meanwhile, Aurora Cannabis Inc. is also retrofitting a greenhouse in Odense and said announced earlier this month it won a tender to supply medical cannabis to the Italian government through the country’s Ministry of Defence.

But the recent change in marijuana policy tone in the U.S., where pot remains illegal at the federal level, has further reinforced Canadian marijuana companies’ advantage on the world stage for now.

In December, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo which suggested the federal government would not intervene in states where the drug is legal, opening up the door for several states to legalize pot for medical and recreational purposes. But in a new memo, President Donald Trump’s top law enforcement official said he would let federal prosecutors where cannabis is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal law.

Analysts say this guidance introduces additional uncertainty and suppresses the rise of large U.S. marijuana companies to challenge Canadian players as they expand globally.

The Aphria-Nuuvera deal is also the latest sign of consolidation, less than a week after Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis reached a friendly billion-dollar to acquire rival licensed producer CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. for a mix of cash and stock in the biggest acquisition the marijuana sector has seen. As well, earlier this month Aphria announced a deal to buy B.C.-based Broken Coast Cannabis Inc., a transaction valued at $230 million.

Analysts expect consolidation to accelerate in the sector ahead of the legalization for recreational use of marijuana this summer.

Under the terms of the deal, Nuuvera shareholders will receive $1 in cash plus 0.3546 of an Aphria share for each share they hold. Based on Aphria’s 10-day volume weighted average price of $21.15, the offer is worth $8.50 per share.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including approval by Nuuvera shareholders. Nuuvera shares closed at $7 on Friday, while Aphria shares finished last week at $20.16.

Assuming Aphria closes its acquisition of Broken Coast, that it also agreed to buy using stock and cash, Nuuvera shareholders will own approximately 14.8 per cent of the combined company.

Marijuana in the workplace: What is unsafe?

By Andrea Furlan, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto and Nancy Carnide, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Work & Health, University of Toronto

THE CANADIAN PRESS

This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

___

Authors: Andrea Furlan, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto and Nancy Carnide, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Work & Health, University of Toronto

When marijuana is legal later this year in Canada, many Canadians may consider smoking weed on their way to work, or stepping out to purchase it during their coffee break.

How will this impact workplace productivity, and health and safety _ especially in occupations involving driving or operating heavy machinery?

The federal government’s commitment to legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2018 raises occupational health and safety concerns for many employers.

At the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), we have been reviewing the effects of various drugs that act on the central nervous system including marijuana on workplace injuries, deaths and near-misses.

What is striking is how little high-quality evidence there is on the impacts of marijuana in the workplace and how inconsistent the existing data is.

We urgently need high-quality observational research studies to be able to better understand the effects of marijuana on work. We also need to develop an accurate measure of impairment for use in Canadian workplaces.

No published studies on legalization

As far as we’re aware, no published studies to date have examined the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on the workplace.

The only data we’ve seen is from a report released in 2017 by a large private drug-testing company in the United States. It found that the rates of positive cannabis tests in Washington and Colorado in 2016 outpaced the national average for the first time since the two states legalized cannabis in 2012.

But these rates were based on the number of tests conducted, so it’s not clear whether this reflects an increase in the number of employees testing positive.

Workplace injuries and accidents

Several studies have examined the impact of marijuana use on workplace outcomes, but with mixed results.

Some have found associations between marijuana use in the workforce and work absenteeism, reduced productivity, job turnover, disciplinary measures, workplace accidents and injuries, unemployment and interpersonal conflict.

However, other studies have found no association with some of these outcomes. Overall, the evidence to date is quite inconsistent.

In 2017, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a major report on the health effects of marijuana use, including impacts on injuries and accidents in a workplace setting.

Based on six studies, the review did not find enough evidence to either support or refute a statistical link between marijuana use and occupational injuries or accidents.

No indicator for acute impairment

Some of the inconsistency in the research that does exist may be due to differences in study design and methodologies and difficulties in conducting this type of research.

Also, much of the evidence in this area comes from post-accident investigations, where the workers involved are tested for marijuana or other drugs following a workplace incident.

These kinds of cases tend to be more publicized, but rigorous research with control groups (i.e., those who did not have an accident) is needed to understand whether there are more accidents among those using marijuana compared to those who are not.

And even though workers may test positive for
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their urine, that doesn’t necessarily
mean they were impaired at the time of the accident. Marijuana
remains in the system for quite some time. So someone can use
marijuana on Friday night and come into work on Monday no longer
impaired, yet test positive for marijuana use.

There is no consensus as of yet on the levels of THC detected in fluids that indicate acute impairment.

Slower driving reaction times

Often, the findings of studies measuring the impact of marijuana on driving are extrapolated to work settings, to understand the potential hazards of marijuana on workplace safety. But even in the area of driving research, there is much still to be understood.

Researchers know marijuana use impairs driving, but it’s not yet clear how it does so. What is consistent among the studies published is that reaction time is slower, so people also drive slower.

Also, it isn’t clear to what extent you can extrapolate driving-to-work situations. Driving is a learned activity that many people do almost on auto pilot. Drivers’ brains are often multi-tasking; many people are talking or doing a secondary task while behind the wheel.

That kind of activity may be similar to some work situations, but not to others.

New research directions

We have very limited data on the extent of workplace cannabis use (e.g. during work, on breaks and in the hours prior to beginning a work shift) and impairment among workers in both the U.S. and Canada.

To address this gap, we have recently received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, along with Dr. Peter Smith, to conduct a survey of Canadian workers.

We will measure the current magnitude of cannabis consumption at work, reasons for workplace use, perceptions of its effects on work and availability in the workplace.

It will also be important to study the potential health impacts on workers involved in the production of cannabis. Some researchers in Washington State are beginning to look at this, with an initial focus on the effects of UV radiation.

Finally, one of the key avenues for future research will be to identify an accurate measure of impairment for use in workplaces. This is something that the workplace community is particularly keen to see.

(TSX) In short marijuana, the United States and listing on the TSX/TSXV do not mix

Article by Neil Wiener

On October 16, 2017, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) issued Staff Notice 2017-0009 regarding listed companies engaged in the marijuana business, whether directly or indirectly, in the United States. At the same time, the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) issued a Notice to Issuers virtually identical to the TSX Staff Notice. It is well-known that recreational cannabis has been legalized in certain American states (in alphabetical order, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) yet remains illegal at the federal level in the United States. The TSX Staff Notice and TSXV Notice to Issuers clarify the position of the two Exchanges in light of this legal conundrum. In short, marijuana, the United States and listing on the TSX/TSXV do not mix.

The TSX Staff Notice states the general rule that a TSX-listed company must act in compliance with the rules and regulations of all regulatory bodies having jurisdiction over it. The Staff Notice notes that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act, such that it is illegal under United States federal law to cultivate, distribute or possess marijuana, and that financial transactions involving proceeds generated by, or intended to promote, marijuana-related business activities in the United States may form the basis for prosecution under applicable U.S. federal money-laundering legislation.

According to the Staff Notice, companies listed on the TSX with ongoing business activities that violate United States federal law regarding marijuana are not in compliance with the requirements of the TSX. These business activities may include, among other things, (i) direct or indirect ownership of, or investment in, businesses engaged in the cultivation, distribution or possession of marijuana in the United States (which the Staff Notice refers to as “Subject Entities“), (ii) other commercial arrangements with Subject Entities (presumably, a joint venture, a “streaming” deal, or other similar contractual arrangement), (iii) providing services or products that are specifically designed for, or targeted at, Subject Entities, or (iv) commercial interests or arrangements with entities (CSA) engaging in the business activities described in (iii).

The Staff Notice sets out that the TSX will contact its listed companies by the end of 2017 for a comprehensive review of their marijuana-related activities (if any) in the United States. If a listed company engages in activities that are contrary to TSX requirements, the TSX has the discretion to delist that company. In short, if a TSX-listed company grows or distributes marijuana in the United States, invests in another business that grows or distributes marijuana in the United States, or provides services or products for businesses that grow or distribute marijuana in the United States, the company faces the prospect of being delisted from the TSX.

However, it’s not all bad news for companies in the marijuana industry. The Staff Notice concludes by stating that the TSX continues to welcome listing applicants in the marijuana sector that operate within Canada and comply with applicable Canadian law. Presumably, the TSX will also welcome listing applicants engaged in the marijuana business in other countries in which such activities are legal, provided that the listing applicant can demonstrate to the TSX that it is in compliance with all applicable laws of those jurisdictions. However, until further notice, companies listed or applying for listing on the TSX or TSXV will have to stay away from either marijuana or the United States.

For those Canadian companies with marijuana activities in the United States (for example, a company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange), the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued CSA Staff Notice 51-352 Issuers with U.S. Marijuana-Related Activities on October 16, 2017. Similar to TSX Staff Notice 2017-0009, the CSA Staff Notice notes the discrepancy between U.S. federal and state law as it relates to the use and sale of marijuana. In short, CSA staff believes that how a company with U.S. marijuana activities ensures compliance with U.S. state-level regulatory frameworks forms an important part of that company’s continuous disclosure record.

The CSA Staff Notice sets out specific disclosure requirements for issuers with marijuana-related activities in the United States, which will apply to continuous disclosure documents such as an annual information form or management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A), and to a prospectus in the event of a public offering. For example, CSA staff expects that an issuer will explain in these documents “whether and how the issuer’s U.S. marijuana-related activities are conducted in a manner consistent with any U.S. federal enforcement priorities”. For those issuers with direct involvement in the cultivation or distribution of marijuana, CSA staff expects in particular that the issuer will outline the applicable regulations of the U.S. states in which the issuer operates and confirm how the issuer complies with applicable licensing requirements and the state regulatory framework. This is more than boilerplate disclosure. Canadian issuers with marijuana-related activities in the United States will have to take cognizance of, and comply with, these specific disclosure requirements. Failure to do so could lead to a request from CSA staff for re-filing of the disclosure document (e.g. annual information form or MD&A) or appropriate enforcement action.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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