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Expertise / Sectors / Cannabis

On October 17, 2018, Canada officially brought into force the legalization of recreational cannabis following the 2016 Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). The Canadian cannabis market has developed into a fast-evolving and expanding sector that is predicted to exceed C$23-billion. The talks about legalization and the opportunities it entails have been an ongoing conversation since it was initially proposed, and these discussions will continue as we navigate our clients through the newly legalized industry.

Blakes has vast experience supporting clients entering new and developing areas in Canada. Combined with our expertise in the agribusiness and life sciences sectors, our Cannabis lawyers are well-positioned to advise producers, retailers, financiers, technology providers and others servicing medical marijuana and recreational opportunities (including with respect to hemp and edibles and concentrates) in the cannabis market. We also advise clients in other sectors whose businesses are impacted by the legalization of cannabis. 

With respect to the pending changes to cannabis laws in Canada, our Cannabis lawyers work closely with the Blakes Public & Political Law team. With decades of experience, the team includes highly regarded lawyers who regularly represent both public entities and private companies dealing with the public sector. Our team also includes counsel who previously served as federal, provincial and municipal public officials in several jurisdictions. Blakes lawyers possess leading expertise regarding government and public-sector issues, including within the industry, and maintain solid working relationships with an extensive network of government advocacy professionals and government contacts, enabling us to efficiently solve challenging issues as they arise.

Our Cannabis lawyers are part of a national and multidisciplinary group with cannabis-specific experience and expertise, geared to providing clients with the full range of services required to navigate the fast-moving and evolving cannabis market in Canada. The group is comprised of lawyers who have experience in the legalities of cannabis, including with respect to hemp, medical marijuana, edibles and concentrates, vaping, cannabidiol (CBD) and cultivation, among others. Our lawyers are able to advise on financing, public offerings, M&A, regulatory, advertising, labelling and marketing, licensing and regulation, antitrust, legislative process, lobbying compliance, real estate issues, environmental concerns, channel distribution, tax, international trade, anti-money laundering, outsourcing, class actions, employment law and workplace issues, information technology, and intellectual property matters related to plant breeders’ rights, patents, trade-marks, copyright, industrial designs, and trade secrets.

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Recent Experience

Capital Markets

  • Tilray, Inc. on its C$419-million acquisition of FHF Holdings Inc. (d.b.a. Manitoba Harvest) from Compass Group Diversified Holdings, LLC and other shareholders of Manitoba Harvest

  • Cronos Group Inc. in connection with the C$2.4-billion strategic equity investment in Cronos Group by Altria Group, Inc.

  • Tilray, Inc. on its C$70-million indirect acquisition of Natura Naturals Holdings Inc., the parent company of a licensed cultivator of cannabis

  • The initial purchasers for Aphria Inc.’s US$350-million private placement of 5.25 per cent convertible senior notes

  • Bespoke Capital Acquisition Corp. on its US$350-million initial public offering as a newly organized special purpose acquisition corporation

  • Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. in connection with the initial public offering of North America’s first marijuana exchang​e-traded fund, Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF.

  • Cannabis Growth Opportunity Corporation on all legal aspects of the initial public offering.

  • Cronos Group Inc. on offerings totalling $140-million of common shares.

  • An independent investment bank, in connection with a private placement of common shares by a global cannabis company and its related going-public transaction by way of a reverse take-over.

Corporate Commercial/M&A

  • Cronos Group on its US$300-million acquisition of Redwood Holding Group

  • Tilray Inc. on its acquisition of 420 Investments Ltd. for up to C$100-million

  • Maricann Group Inc. in connection with a $42.5-million non-dilutive streaming transaction.

Financial Services

  • Tilray, Inc. on its cross-border initial public offering in the United States
  •  A major Canadian bank on the financing of a licensed producer of medical marijuana, including regulatory landscape, industry risks and financing considerations specific to the cannabis industry.

  • A licensed producer of medical marijuana in connection with risk mitigation and other anti-money laundering controls in relation to providing the producer with banking services.

Marketing & Regulatory

  • Computershare Trust Company of Canada on regulatory advice about cannabis and corporate trust services.

  • Various licensed producers of medical marijuana on regulatory matters (including security requirements, pesticides, use of online portals for medical documents, patient registration issues), marketing (including the sale of ancillary products as well as cannabis) and advertising (including use of social media).

  • Various clients in the health-care industry on initiatives and programs with patients or physicians, health-care compliance (including interactions with physicians and clinics), clinical trials, privacy, anti-spam, antitrust, as well as consumer complaint, recall and product liability matters.

  • Various ancillary businesses on the sale of products in the cannabis industry, including regulatory and marketing and advertising issues.