A look at what 1 cannabis supplier could offer the N.W.T. this October

A look at what 1 cannabis supplier could offer the N.W.T. this October

Recreational cannabis is coming to the Northwest Territories, and a new stock offering by one of the companies selling pot is shedding light on the kinds of brands you can expect to see on the shelves.

B.C.-based Tilray Canada stated in its initial public offering, which is a company's first sale of stock to the public, that it had signed a supplier agreement with the Government of the Northwest Territories, meaning it will be one of several suppliers providing legal cannabis to territorial liquor stores.

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A spokesperson for the N.W.T. Department of Finance would not comment on the supplier agreement with Tilray, saying in an email that the territorial liquor corporation "is negotiating with several cannabis suppliers … and will not be making an announcement until all supply agreements are in place."

Owned by a Delaware-based parent company, Tilray Canada was one of the first legal growers and distributors of the drug in the country. It acquired one of the first Health Canada licences to produce medical marijuana back in 2014.

Since that time, it has expanded to provide medical cannabis in 10 countries around the world, including Croatia, Australia, New Zealand and Germany. By the end of the year, the company says it will have more than a million square feet in cultivation at their facilities in Canada and Portugal, including 40,000 plants at their global head office in Nanaimo, B.C.

'Adult consumption' products

Now Tilray is expanding its product line beyond medical products to include a range of "adult-consumption" products and lifestyle brands from a U.S.-based cannabis company.

Cost-conscious users might end up smoking "Dutchy" brand joints, which "targets the more frequent ... consumer," according to Tilray's filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

If you won't skimp on quality or want to flash your cash, "Head Light" offers "higher potency" products, while the "Grail" line offers "products derived from rare strains with exotic cannabinoid and terpene profiles."

They also have a brand aimed mainly at women, "Irisa," including flowers, oils, and tinctures with names like "Passion," "Balance," and "Dream."

Tilray also says in its filing that it expects edible cannabis products to be legalized "within one year" of the Cannabis Act coming into force. That means expanding its brands to include candy and snack products aimed at the "all-natural" and "intense flavour" markets.

Restrictions on advertising

However, there are rules that limit how companies can market cannabis. The federal government wants to restrict advertising that promotes misleading information and makes marijuana appealing to young people.

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, says cannabis products cannot be "associated with a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring."

Jared Mirsky, founder and CEO of cannabis branding agency Wick and Mortar, said Tilray's brands remain a bit "vague."

"When looking at Dutchy, they haven't really attributed much of a story to [the brand]," said Mirsky.

"Given the fact that these companies aren't allowed to allude to any type of experience … it makes it a little hard, rather harder, to purchase based on experience," he said. 

He added there's nothing in Tilray's branding designed to convince underage people to buy the product.

No agreement details

Tilray has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in research into the medical benefits of marijuana, including at the University of British Columbia and Toronto's Hospital for Sick Kids.

Tilray says it "always will be a medical brand," and will sell its recreational products through a subsidiary called the High Park Company.

High Park has already signed on with the Yukon government to provide recreational cannabis in that territory when the drug becomes legal. The company has also signed recreational cannabis supply agreements with Quebec and Manitoba.

But despite advertising the N.W.T. supply agreement to investors, neither Tilray nor the territorial government would discuss the agreement in detail — or what products specifically would be appearing on liquor store shelves after legalization on Oct. 17.

That hasn't turned off investors, though. Despite having never generated a profit in their four years of operation, Tilray secured $60 million in financing at its initial public offering.