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Medical cannabis patients anxious and fearful over supply shortages

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Can’t find any weed to buy for a party this weekend? Don’t complain.

Canadians who use cannabis for medical reasons are being hit by shortages in a far worse way.  

“It’s actually more than a supply issue, really it’s something of a health crisis now,” says James O’Hara of the patient advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana.

O’Hara says Canadians with cannabis prescriptions to help with seizures, anxiety and other serious health problems are emailing his organization, upset by “out of stock” signs at their regular provider’s website or retail location.

“Unfortunately, there are no regulations in place to actually guarantee supply for the medical market,” O’Hara points out. 

‘I’m a patient’

Bryan Wakefield of Thunder Bay, Ont. has been unable to place an order for three weeks. He says he uses cannabis to manage his ADHD and borderline personality disorder.

“I’ve been on the phone today, trying to figure out which licensed producer I can switch to,” the 39-year-old says with frustration. “I’m a patient, it’s not like I’m ordering a microphone off Amazon and I’m upset because I got the wrong colour.”  

Dan Goulet of Kitchener, Ont. works for a cannabis producer and even he can’t get his medicine. “My company doesn’t have the CBD oil that I use,” he says. In the two weeks he’s been unable to access cannabis supplies, he says he’s been experiencing “bad health effects” from a digestive disorder.

Meanwhile, 67-year-old Peter Prete of Thunder Bay is glad he was warned ahead of time to prepare for the shortage. A friend who works for a large cannabis producer that he declined to name, tipped him off that the focus would be shifting to the recreational market, and that he should stock up.  

Dan Goulet of Kitchener checks the Ontario Cannabis Store every day, but can’t find a supply of the CBD oil he needs to control his concussion symptoms. (CBC News)

“I ordered a s–tload, if you’ll pardon the expression,” he says, noting that since he started using cannabis he’s been able to reduce his reliance on the prescription medications he regularly takes for an array of “old man” maladies. “I told my friends to do the same, to place big orders, but they didn’t listen and now they’re out of luck.”

Diverting supply

Many medicinal users suspect that licensed producers have been seduced by the much larger recreational market, and have prioritized shipments to that sector.

The director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, which represents 85 percent of the country’s cultivators and medicinal suppliers, says the opposite is true.

“If anything we’re seeing adult consumer-use cannabis being repackaged and reallocated to ensure medicinal demand is met first,” says Allan Rewak.  

But he acknowledges there are issues right now. “Every time a patient is waiting, that’s a problem.”  

Rewak says a combination of factors have led to difficulties with the medicinal supply.

Demand for medicinal cannabis “skyrocketed”  prior to the Oct. 17, possibly due to concerns from patients that recreational users would deplete inventory — and those orders depleted medical inventory

James O’Hara of the patient advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana says access to medical pot has become a bit of a ‘health crisis.’ (Gosia Wozniacka/The Associated Press)

The industry is under stress during a time of transition, to try to increase staff and respond to overwhelming recreational demand.  

“Medicinal patients are and will be our priority,” Rewak insists. “Every company that’s part of our membership is working seven days a week, 24 hours a day to make sure the supplies get out the door.”

Lack of transparency

Patient advocate James O’Hara isn’t satisfied by the industry’s reassurances.  

“No one’s really communicating with patients and saying, ‘hey look, in 12 weeks or six weeks or three weeks you’re gonna be fine.’ That contributes to the anxiety that patients have, because they’re now in a realm where they just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

In Thunder Bay, Bryan Wakefield agrees. “They’re not being very transparent,” he says. “No solutions are coming from the LPs, no one is saying ‘this is what we’re doing to improve this.'”

He’s also not impressed with the government’s treatment of medical patients. “Health Canada is very hands-off with this, and that’s very frustrating,” he says.

In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for Health Canada says: “The numbers tell the story: at the end of September 2018, licensed producers had reported to Health Canada … that they had inventory on hand of more than 90,000 kilograms of dried cannabis and 41,000 litres of cannabis oil. In contrast, preliminary estimates of retail sales to date from publicly available information, while strong, represent only a small fraction of that available inventory.”

If that’s the case, the trouble experienced by many medical patients remains a mystery.  

“We never had any complaints about delivery before legalization,” says O’Hara. “What’s changed?  Only one thing.”

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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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