50 Inspiring Women in 2020

For International Women’s Day, MESH/diversity and ORIGINS MEDIA HAUS have joined forces to highlight 50 women who inspire us! This is by no means a definitive list!

Eva Lau

Founding Partner at Two Small Fish Ventures

LinkedIn: Eva Lau

Eva Lau is an entrepreneur-turned-investor and one of the few women leading a venture fund in Canada. She is a tech-startup enthusiast and loves building the startup ecosystem in Canada.

Eva is the founding partner of Two Small Fish Ventures, which invests globally in early-stage, transformative tech companies with strong network effects.

Before starting Two Small Fish Ventures, she was Wattpad’s Head of Community and Content. She helped nurture and scale the Wattpad community from its infancy to become one of the largest online communities with tens of millions of monthly users around the world.

Pamela Draper

President & CEO at Bitvo Inc.

LinkedIn: Pamela Draper

Pamela Draper spent almost 14 years in investment and corporate banking at top-tier Canadian banks.

In various roles, she focused on raising capital for North American growth-oriented companies across industry sectors.

Fatima Zaidi

Co-founder, CEO at Quill Inc.

LinkedIn: Fatima Zaidi

Fatima Zaidi has had over ten years of experience in Business Development, Marketing, and Strategy. Prior to starting Quill Inc, she was the VP of Business Development for Eighty-Eight, a Toronto-based creative communications agency, where she was responsible for all inbound and outbound sales.

She was named one of Marketing Magazine’s top 30 under 30 marketers and brand developers for 2016, one of Flare Magazine’s Top 100 Canadian Women, and was a finalist for the 2017 Toronto Board of Trade Young Excellence Awards.

Eva Wong

Co-founder & COO at Borrowell

LinkedIn: Eva Wong

Eva Wong is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Borrowell, a Canadian fintech company that helps consumers make great decisions about credit.

She provides leadership to the Product, Engineering, Design and Data teams and is a member of the Executive Team. Eva’s career has spanned both the private and not-for-profit sectors, including roles at The OTF Group, Maple Leaf Foods, UNDP and Oliver Wyman.

Nina Iordanova

Co-Founder & CEO at Hello Iris

LinkedIn: Nina Iordanova

Nina Iordanova is fascinated by relationships and the many ways people connect. She is the Co-Founder & CEO of Hello Iris, a company that uses tech to build guided meditations for its clients based on psychometrics that help them explore their unique experiences in the world.

Her work focuses on looking at how people meet, couple, and fall in love at a fundamental level, helping to build a more connected world.

Caterina Rizzi

Founder at Hotline & Co-Founder at Breather

LinkedIn: Caterina Rizzi

Caterina Rizzi is a passionate believer in human centered design. She has made a career turning lofty goals and left field ideas into game-changing brands and experiences across the globe.

Her ability to read trends, innovate products and translate visions into viable strategies has set her apart and allowed her to work on several important projects and with leaders in major industries.

A strong proponent of the power of women, Caterina also dedicates her time working closely with female entrepreneurs to inspire them, help grow their businesses and achieve their goals.

Marie Chevrier Schwartz

CEO & Founder at Sampler

LinkedIn: Marie Chevrier Schwartz

Marie Chevrier Schwartz is the Founder and CEO of Sampler, the leader in direct-to-consumer sampling.

Marie started her career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson. From there, she had the opportunity to work at a venture capital firm in New York City. After a few years there, Marie came back to Toronto to merge her passion for marketing and technology.

Marie started Sampler with a vision to transform the way consumer packaged good companies distribute product samples. Marie is also the co-host of Tech Toronto’s newest community called: Retail TO and the lead of Retail Tomorrow Toronto, a one-week immersion event that brings US retailers and brands to Toronto.

Erica Pearson

CEO at Vacation Fund

LinkedIn: Erica Pearson

Erica Pearson is the Co-founder & CEO of Vacation Fund. She left the Capital Markets space to help people live happier, more balanced lives.

Her work at Vacation Fund provides creative and innovative companies experiencing turnover with the benefit of employees’ dreams, to retain the best talent and become the best place to work.

April Dunford

Founder at Ambient Strategy

LinkedIn: April Dunford

An engineer by training and now marketing advisor to tech companies around the world, April has worked on both sides of the tech divide for years.

Throughout her career that spans more than a decade, her work with fast-paced startups, such as Tulip Retail, DataMirror (acquired by IBM), Janna Systems (acquired by Siebel Systems), Sitraka (acquired by Quest software), and Watcom (acquired by Sybase) is a testament not only to her wealth of knowledge but also her dedication to the changing industry. In addition to her ongoing consulting work, she was an executive at several emerging startups and now an angel investor, board member, advisor, and mentor to dozens of tech startups.

Diana Goodwin

Founder & CEO at MarketBox

LinkedIn: Diana Goodwin

Diana Goodwin is Founder & CEO of MarketBox, a B2B SaaS product which enables service-based marketplaces and businesses to grow and scale their businesses.

Diana initially founded AquaMobile, an on-demand swim lesson provider which is now the largest of its kind in North America and Australia. She is considered a tech innovator and thought-leader in marketplace businesses, the gig economy and scaling businesses internationally.

Ugochi Owo

CEO at Flindel

LinkedIn: Ugochi Owo

Ugochi Owo founded Flindel as a way to improve customer experience in the e-commerce sector by changing how they process product returns.

Her company is one of the first startups in the Black Innovation Fellowship through the DMZ, a program that helps black entrepreneurs in the tech sector.

Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh

Diversity & Belonging Lead at Shopify

LinkedIn: Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh

Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh is the Diversity & Belonging Lead at Shopify. She cultivates a high impact and inclusive environment by empowering everyone to own culture.

She leads a team that guides diversity and equality initiatives that advance inclusion, so employees feel valued for their authentic voices and talents and are empowered to reach their full potential.

Shavonne also sits on Manifesto’s Board of Directors, a not-for profit organization that creates spaces that inspire, develop, and amplify diverse communities of young people through the arts, culture, and media.

Takara Small

Technology Journalist and Founder at VentureKids

LinkedIn: Takara Small

Takara Small is an award-winning entrepreneur, journalist and public speaker. She currently appears on Metro Morning as a technology columnist as well as an on-air tech expert for CBC and CTV.

She was previously the host/producer for the Globe and Mail startup podcast “I’ll Go First,” the number one technology podcast in Canada, and contributing editor for Fortune magazine.

She is also the founder and executive director of VentureKids Canada, a nonprofit that provides free coding classes and startup workshops to youth living in low-income and underserved communities in Ontario.

Nouhaila Chelkhaoui

Founder at Scale Without Borders and Program Lead at DMZ

LinkedIn: Nouhaila Chelkhaoui

Nouhaila Chelkhaoui is passionate about helping newcomer tech entrepreneurs access the abundant resources available in Canada to scale their startups globally. Her work at Scale Without Borders is to position it as a one stop shop for newcomer tech entrepreneurs.

Nouhaila is also the Programs Lead at the DMZ for the DMZ Accelerator, their flagship program, and the DMZ Women Founders programs. In this role, she helps tech entrepreneurs scale their startups into world class businesses that create global impact.

Heather Payne

Founder & CEO at Juno College of Technology

LinkedIn: Heather Payne

Heather Payne is the CEO of the Juno College of Technology, a post-graduate coding school that helps people quickly build a fulfilling career as a web developer.

In 2011, Heather co-founded Ladies Learning Code, a Canadian not-for-profit organization that runs popular workshops for women (and their friends) who want to learn computer programming and other technical skills in a social and collaborative way.

Ladies Learning Code has since re-branded to Canada Learning Code and has chapters in dozens of cities across Canada as well as thriving programs for youth.

Michele Romanow

Co-Founder & President at Clearbanc, Dragon on Dragon’s Den

LinkedIn: Michele Romanow

Tech Titan, Michele is the youngest ever entrepreneur to join CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den. She previously co-founded e-commerce platforms SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon) and Buytopia.

Michele is ranked in WXN’s “100 Most Powerful in Canada” and listed as the only Canadian on Forbes’ “Millennial on a Mission” list. She is a director on the board of Vail Resorts, Freshii, SHAD, Smith School of Business and League of Innovators.

Erin Bury

CEO & Co-Founder at Willful

LinkedIn: Erin Bury

Erin Bury is an entrepreneur, speaker, startup advisor, and former technology journalist. She is the co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform that makes it easy for Canadians to create a will in less than 20 minutes.

At Willful, Erin is responsible for driving the company’s mission to make it easier for Canadians to prepare for and deal with death in a digital age. Erin also named one of Marketing Magazine’s top 30 Under 30 marketers, journalists & PR pros in August 2012.

Siri Agrell

Executive Director at OneEleven 111

LinkedIn: Siri Agrell

Siri Agrell is the Executive Director at OneEleven 111. She was the former director of strategic initiatives for Toronto Mayor John Tory’s office, has joined OneEleven Toronto as its Toronto managing director.

During her time as director of strategic initiatives, Agrell worked with the local tech ecosystem, leveraging partnerships and facilitating procurement from companies like Ritual, Waze, and Miovision. She helped lead the overhaul of the city’s recreation registration system, the King Street Pilot project, and was responsible for federal intergovernmental affairs such as the Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside pilot, the Cities & Mental Health Summit, and the #TorontoStrong Fund.

Paula Kwan

Founder & Director of the Civic Innovation Office for the City of Toronto

LinkedIn: Paula Kwan

Paula Kwan served as the Founder and Director of the Civic Innovation Office for the City of Toronto.

Paula has built long-lasting trusted advisor relationships with small companies all the way through to Fortune 500 organizations across North America who have trusted her with their business pains and challenges, budgets, high expectations, and reputations.

Melissa Nightingale

Co-Founder & Partner at Raw Signal Group

LinkedIn: Melissa Nightingale

Melissa Nightingale is a founder and partner at Raw Signal Group. She is editor of The Co-pour and bestselling author of “How F*cked Up Is Your Management? An Uncomfortable Conversation About Modern Leadership.”

Melissa moved to Toronto after more than a decade in senior leadership roles in Silicon Valley. She has held executive roles at both Wattpad and Edmodo, where she led the marketing, community, customer success, and growth teams. She learned to boss on the job as Mozilla’s first Director of Global Public Relations.

Amanda Munday

Founder & CEO at The Workaround

LinkedIn: Amanda Munday

Amanda is the Founder and CEO of The Workaround, a parent-friendly workspace with childcare in Toronto. She is also the author of Day Nine: A Postpartum Depression Memoir, by Dundurn Press (March 2019).

She has received international media coverage, including being named an Inspirational Speaker in Forbes Magazine, and is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail. The sole owner and founder of The Workaround, Amanda is a skilled marketer and storyteller, with years of experience growing companies through online social channels, traditional marketing and public relations.

CG Chen

Founder at Ample Labs

LinkedIn: CG Chen

CG Chen is the founder of Ample Labs, a tech nonprofit committed to using technology to empower individuals facing homelessness. Chen is a community builder who cares about building a more inclusive, accessible and equitable tech sector that includes the most marginalized and vulnerable.

Prior to Ample, she was at ecobee designing mobile experiences for IoT devices. She has also worked at Tulip designing enterprise software for luxury retailers like Chanel, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Frank & Oak.

Sindhu Jawed

Founder of Jarsss and Process Manager at Skylight

LinkedIn: Sindhu Jawed

Sindhu Jawed is the founder of Jarsss, a woman-led e-commerce company dedicated to offering socially impactful leather goods to young professional women across Canada. Sindhu also works at Skylight, a tech company focused on reinventing the home renovation process.

Avery Francis

Founder & CEO at Bloom

LinkedIn: Avery Francis

Avery Francis has over a decade of recruiting experience, having hired thousands of people for some of the world’s best companies. With a specialty in high growth tech, Avery has worked with top startups to build out their talent strategies and bring their growth to new heights through hiring the best and brightest.

She has a mission to bring that knowledge to as many companies as possible, making the hiring experience more human and enjoyable for all. As a champion of diversity, inclusion and belonging, Avery has founded Bridge School as well as Bloom.

Avery Swartz

Founder & CEO at Camp Tech

LinkedIn: Avery Swartz

Avery Swartz is a Toronto-based entrepreneur, tech writer, digital marketing consultant, and speaker. She is all about helping businesses and charities use technology to achieve their goals.

Avery is the founder and CEO of Camp Tech, the digital marketing training company for small business. She acts as a digital advisor to a number of charities, including the Art Canada Institute and Canadian Cancer Society. Avery also started Gather North – a retreat for people of marginalized genders in tech, and is #5 on the Top 50 Women in Marketing list by Search Engine Journal.

Laura Fortey

Co-Founder & CMO at REITIUM

LinkedIn: Laura Fortey

As a real estate entrepreneur, Laura has bought, managed, renovated and sold her own investment properties, as well as investing in REITs and MICs.

Bringing more than a decade of expertise in the digital marketing space, from the early days of Youtube, Facebook and social media, Laura’s involvement in the tech sector and internet marketing has enabled startups and SMEs grow from ideation to multi-million dollar revenues.

Cathy Bawden

Inspector at Durham Regional Police Force

LinkedIn: Cathy Bawden

Insp. Cathy Bawden started off her tenure at north division by adding a new title to her resume — Champion for Children.

Bawden was honoured by the Durham Children’s Aid Society with a 2018 Champion for Children award this month, in recognition of her ongoing community partnerships and dedication to improving the lives of all residents.

She continues to inspire and empower youth within our community to be the change. Through her work as a diversity, equity and inclusion unit leader, she is positively contributing toward the wellness of our communities through respect, kindness, understanding and empowerment for all.

Nicole Tapscott

VP & GM at Casper

LinkedIn: Nicole Tapscott

Nicole Tapscott is an INSEAD grad, global business strategist, and multi-channel and consumer products expert based out of Toronto. Currently, she is VP and GM of Casper, Canada.

Nicole believes that there are unique, profitable and exciting ways to design business strategy which include innovation, technology, marketing and realistic implementation. She thrives on building and growing innovative companies that find ways to engage customers and employees alike.

Emilia Zboralska

CEO & Executive Producer at Pink Moon Studio

LinkedIn: Emilia Zboralska

Dr. Emilia Zboralska is co-founder and CEO of Pink Moon Studio, an end-to-end media company that focuses on out-of-the-box, premium, storytelling through both its branded and original content divisions.

Emilia is also the director of Ryerson’s media innovation incubator, the Transmedia Zone and the creative director of The Studio’s new event venue, HQ. A recipient of Ryerson’s Gold Medal, and the Communication and Culture Dissertation prize, Emilia’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and she has presented at conferences worldwide.

Marsha Druker

Founder & Director at Fuckup Nights Toronto

LinkedIn: Marsha Druker

Marsha Druker is passionate about  providing people with an experience and a place where they can go to expand their mind.

She is currently building Fuckup Nights, a community and speaker series that de-stigmatizes failure. Before getting into community building, she held various Marketing and PR roles in companies ranging from consumer packaged goods to tech startups. Marsha believes that community building is all about being a good listener and creating value – for event attendees, partners and team members.

April Hossain

Managing Director at Now Creative Group

LinkedIn: April Hossain

April is the Managing Director at Now Creative Group, an agency fuelled by entrepreneurial thinking and positive impact. They focus on strategic branding paired with quality content to share stories, create change, and enable growth.

Jodianne Beckford

Founder & Host of The E Project podcast

LinkedIn: Jodianne Beckford

Jodianne Beckford is a lifestyle, and portrait photographer who currently resides in Toronto, ON. Jodianne is the creator and host of The E Project podcast.

She began this project back in 2015 as a blog, while living in Ottawa. Jodianne soon realized how many amazing creatives were in the capital and wanted to share their stories in hopes to encourage fellow creatives. She was curious to know who was doing what, how they did it, and why they did it.

Natasha Kovacevic

Ph.D, Founder at xSensa Labs

LinkedIn: Natasha Kovacevic

Natasha Kovacevic, PhD, computational neuroscientist and award-winning innovator, founded xSensa Labs in 2017 with a vision to open new paths towards optimized human performance and consciousnesses and revolutionize the prevention and treatment of mood and cognitive disorders.

Prior to starting xSensa Labs, Natasha’s academic work focused on data-driven methods linking neuroimaging (EEG, MRI, MEG, CT), behavioral metrics, demographic and genetic data. She authored and co-authored over 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals and her data pipelines are used in neuroscience labs across the world.

Kate McKenzie

Founder at Worldview Projects

LinkedIn: Kate McKenzie

As an artist, innovator and champion for positive change, Kate McKenzie is not your average communicator. Kate brings to her work a results-driven approach and a passion for contributing to her community.

She is a sought­ after speaker because of her inspiring message of hope and experience in designing and executing successful community engagement programs. Alongside her work with Worldview Projects, Kate is also a co-director and producer of the documentary The Secret Marathon and an advisor at ATB Calgary.

Jessica Nudo

Partner at Nudo & Rook Communication

LinkedIn: Jessica Nudo

Jessica Nudo is a Media Strategist, Consultant and Content Creator that wears many hats and brings a wealth of experience that covers several fields of expertise.

Jessica is also the CEO of The Elevated Collective Inc., a female-powered, grassroots collective within the cannabis space that uses community and industry to eliminate stigma through storytelling, education, and advocacy.

Teija Bean

Creative Director at You X Ventures

LinkedIn: Teija Bean

Teija Bean is the Creative Director at You X Ventures, a human-centred, business driven design firm that believes people matter most in the digital products they create.

She is always striving to create a better product and user experience for her clients. Teija loves to work on unique projects where she can collaborate with a group and be part of the products evolution and success. Work culture is a very important consideration for her, striving to create environments that foster collaboration and mutual respect.

Áine Corby

Head of Production at Media One Creative

LinkedIn: Áine Corby

Áine is a Producer at Media One Creative with over 8 years of project and production experience in both media and live events. Áine has toured the world with numerous international performers, including Andrea Bocelli, Dead Can Dance and Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twin.

She has coordinated events in over 80 cities worldwide. Áine is passionate about travelling, trying new food, live music and getting outdoors, exploring all Toronto has to offer.

Cait Martin Newnham

Freelance Creative Producer

LinkedIn: Cait Martin Newnham

Cait Martin Newnham is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. She has reported on topics including health sciences, the environment, psychology, and sports for publications such as CBC News and SickNotWeak.

Marisa Tassone

Chief Operating Officer & Executive Producer at Contraverse

LinkedIn: Maria Tassone

Marisa develops world-class digital distribution apps that supports all major VR headsets and mobile platforms to showcase high quality narrative 360 video content to a global audience.

Contraverse is an end-to-end VR production and distribution company for innovative and exceptional story-driven virtual reality. We produce immersive VR experiences that immerse you in alternate worlds and put you in the perspective of the main characters in the story.

Cathy Simpson

CEO at TechImpact, Co-Founder UP+G

LinkedIn: Cathy Simpson

Cathy Simpson is the CEO of TechImpact and growing the TECH industry is key to the economy in Atlantic Canada. Cathy has had the pleasure of working for T4G Limited for the past 15 years and most recently led our People & Culture practice.

Her passion is creating and facilitating amazing learning experiences for women and teens, particularly girls. Cathy also founded UP+GO, a Social Enterprise focused on growing skills, awareness of and mentorship opportunities in leadership, STEM, and entrepreneurship.

Barbara Ells

COO at Venn Innovation, Inc

LinkedIn: Barbara Ells

With a background in the life science industry, Barb brings a wealth of experience in scientific research, product development, product management, and marketing communications to Venn.

While her primary responsibility as COO is development and delivery of business programming for our members, Barb truly is the tie that binds it all together. From client services to managing our day to day operations, Barb is at the heart of the Venn experience.

Bethany Deshpande

Founder & CEO at SomaDetect

LinkedIn: Bethany Deshpande

A highly motivated, big picture thinker, Bethany Deshpande has experience in community engagement, Northern environmental science, mathematics, and data analysis. She has a passion for entrepreneurship, art, and creativity.

Bethany Deshpande founded SomaDetech in 2016 to develop and commercialize a new way to measure milk-quality indicators, working with an inspiring team who challenge her and support her.

Elaine McKinnon

Financial Executive, East Valley Ventures

LinkedIn: Elaine McKinnon

Following a 20-year career in financial and operational roles in the IT and telecommunications sector, Elaine joined the start-up community in the province of New Brunswick and shares her passion for growth and innovation with new entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to market.

With a relentless focus on business fundamentals, financial discipline and risk management, Elaine is at her best when working with dynamic new leadership teams to scale their business and attract new investment. Her love of the start-up community is only surpassed by her passion for food and creating culinary delights for family and friends gathered around the dinner table.

Jenelle Sobey

CEO & Co-Founder, RIDDL

LinkedIn: Jenelle Sobey

Jenelle Sobey is motivated to build a sustainable, competitive and resilient world and believes the tech sector enables and scales those solutions to achieve that.

Jenelle is a co-founder and CEO at RIDDL, a tool that tracks, manages and measures impact investments and returns. In 2017, Jenelle was recognized as the National Emerging Leader in ICT, and was awarded St Francis Xavier University’s Young Alumna of the Year

Lara Wood

Vice President Customer Experience and Operations at CNB and ANBL

LinkedIn: Lara Wood

Over the last twenty years, a variety of roles have helped Lara build on a strong foundation in brand management and traditional marketing to incorporate operations, team development, project management and more.

Her personal and professional interest in digital and social media has also woven a specialty in this area into her overall experience. Lara believes broad experience beyond technical knowledge – team engagement, customer engagement and continuous improvement among them – are required to drive success in an omni-channel environment.

Dr. Lisa Toppin

Human Resources Consultant

LinkedIn: Dr. Lisa Toppin

Dr. Lisa Toppin is an experienced Human Resources Executive now leading as a consultant in Human Resources. She helps organizations design and implement learning and inclusion so that employees broadly can engage and grow.

She supports leaders in the practice of leadership integrating inclusive behaviours leading to diversity and ultimately innovation. Dr. Toppin believes that the strongest, most sustainable path to an innovative culture is through leaders that practice inclusion and programs that are self replicating that yield these outcomes.

Lisa Durnford

Associate, Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Office at BMO Capital Markets & Strategic Advisor for Venture Out

LinkedIn: Lisa Durnford

Lisa Durnford is a lawyer working in Anti-Money Laundering Regulatory Compliance Management at BMO Capital Markets. She helps manage their global regulatory requirements and outsourcing frameworks, and supports the team in driving efficiencies with how they perform their responsibilities.

Lisa has been a volunteer with Venture Out for three years, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting LGBTQA+ entrepreneurs and folks in tech to career opportunities, mentors, and each other. Lisa loves tackling a new challenge, incorporating creativity into every role, and helping teammates and communities grow in any way that she can.

Jennifer Couldrey

Executive Director at The Upside Foundation of Canada

LinkedIn: Jennifer Couldrey

Jennifer Couldrey helps people figure out how to make a difference through their businesses. She is a champion for ensuring Canadian tech has a positive impact.

Jennifer has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by WXN, Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders by Corporate Knights and one of Ryerson DMZ’s 30 inspirational women making a difference in tech. She is a connector of people and ideas, primarily in the Canadian tech ecosystem and in social impact.

Danielle Graham

Principal VP at Dream Maker Ventures

LinkedIn: Danielle Graham

Danielle is a Principal at Dream Maker Ventures, the first Canadian Venture Capital (VC) Fund founded by persons of colour and women, focused on investing in diverse, underrepresented, underestimated entrepreneurs.

She is a champion and advisor for women’s initiatives such as #MovetheDial, the Big Push, Dovetail Summit, the Canadian Women’s Network and GTAN WIT, the first angel group training program for female investors. She has been an important part of the angel community network, as a board member, investment officer and advisor to GTAN, the Angel Alliance, Holt Fintech Accelerator and the Laurier Startup Fund.

Emily Walsh

Principal at Georgian Partners

LinkedIn: Emily Walsh

Emily Walsh is a Principal on the Investment Team at Georgian Partners, a growth stage fund investing in software companies that leverage applied artificial intelligence, conversational interfaces and trust as business differentiators.

In addition to sourcing and leading new investments, she provides expertise to portfolio companies in the areas of operational efficiency, human capital and financial analysis. Prior to joining Georgian Partners, Emily was a consultant with McKinsey & Co where she led engagements in digital and cost transformation for clients in the finance and insurance industries.

Happy IWD2020!

Thank you to MESH/Diversity for co-producing this article with us!

MESH/Diversity is dedicated to building inclusive workplaces where the best people will want to work, and can thrive.

Driven by data, MESH uses behavioural analytics to tailor effective D&I strategies that can scale globally and across the talent life-cycle.

This article was originally published in https://www.quillit.io/blog-posts/50-inspiring-women-in-2020

Can you cook magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin edibles could replace CBD as the next big trend – but those looking to make their own at home should go slow, advocates say

Dried fungi are one option for those who want to cook magic mushrooms – a rising trend in the era of increased psilocybin microdosing. (Getty Images)

Every few mornings since the start of the pandemic began, Jessica Nudo has had a special morning ritual.

To start her day, the freelance writer and content creator occasionally mixes dried psilocybin mushrooms with cacao, spices, oat milk, and some other herbs and anti-inflammatories for a morning latte.

“I found that I couldn’t leave the house, so at least I could go on a bit of a ‘trip’, as cheesy as that sounds,” she says.

“I think, like cannabis, people are always led toward the black market – someone who knows someone will reach out to someone,” she says. “It’s still in the grey area.

“A lot of people are experimenting with it and then not talking about it because of the stigma attached. That hopefully won’t be a thing for much longer.”


With the explosion of the cannabis market, the edibles market has grown in tandem. On top of stoner classics like weed brownies, we’re now seeing CBD beverages, sweets in every flavour and style, and even full infused dinners hosted by big-name chefs.

However, ‘shroom aficionados have long advised users not to cook magic mushrooms, as the heat is said to degrade the potency of the active ingredients. But a few leading names in the mushroom world have recently refuted that theory.

The authors known as Virginia Haze and Dr. K Mandrake, who wrote The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible and the upcoming Psilocybin Chef Cookbook, say there’s currently no hard proof that heat degrades the potency of psilocybin.

“The advice to stay away from heat is largely anecdotal – that’s not to say that it’s wrong, but it is far from a proven fact,” the authors wrote in a recent Q&A.

“Our own experiences – we have made a LOT of shroom tea over the years, and have even baked it into brownies and things – have convinced us that any potency degradation with short heating is minimal, and even with longer baking times it doesn’t seem to affect it too badly, if at all.”

To keep everyone happy, the authors included both no-heat and low-heat ways to cook magic mushrooms in the upcoming book – but there’s also a risotto that uses blueberries for a flavour counterpoint, plus vegan burgers, pulled jackfruit tacos and a “shroomy grilled cheese”.

Jesionka takes a similar position: “You can cook out psilocybin, for sure, but the temperatures do range. Same thing with cannabis – you can cook it out if the temperature’s too high.

Jesionka’s specialty is chocolate-based products, though she’s also added psilocybin to salad dressings with (no-heat) infused oil, or made energy bites or smoothies.


Psilocybin has grown in mainstream awareness and acceptance – but so too, Jesionka says, has the number of people new to psilocybin who got a bit too cavalier with their first dose.

“If you have a bad experience once – like, say, with edibles, you’re not going to want to do it again,” she said. “We don’t want to just cook with psilocybin if we don’t know what’s going on. It can lead to a massive trip that someone’s not really expecting.”

In addition to improper dosing, poor mixing and distribution can lead to certain parts of the edible being far stronger than others. And the sugars in psilocybin can interact with food to cause digestive bloating.

“It’s really person to person. It’s very individual,” she says. “When people reach out to me and say ‘Ceile, I want to learn how to make this with psilocybin,’ they need to be educated as to how.”

Tea might not make for a super-flashy recipe, but Jesionka adds it’s a great place for newbies to start – it can be mixed with other herbs (ginger and mint are perennial faves) to help ease the nausea-inducing effects of psilocybin.

For her morning brew, Nudo uses a scale to measure out how much mushroom product ends up in a recipe. “I usually make something in the range of a 0.15 milligram to a 0.3,” she says. “That at least allows me to maintain a certain dosage, so I already know what’s in there. It basically eliminates all of the guesswork.”

But the ideal dosage and use method varies intensely, Jesionka says. As part of her consulting on psilocybin, she also points newbies to numerous articles and online sources so they can be as informed as possible about the trip they’re about to embark on – and suggests the same for anyone new to the drug.

“Research, research, research,” she says.

This article was originally published on https://nowtoronto.com/food-and-drink/can-you-cook-magic-mushrooms and also featured on https://www.straight.com/food/can-you-cook-magic-mushrooms

How to manage our alcohol and cannabis consumption in quarantine

There’s no doubt that isolation makes it easier to drink or smoke more.


In normal times, some beer and weed can be a bit of fun, an escape, or more seriously, for gauze over the real problems in one’s life. Now, in the pandemic era, we’re cut off from physical contact from our friends and family and the spectre of the virus hangs over every bit of news and conversation. Of course you’d want a drink.

The CBC reached out to liquor stores across the country, and while not all gave exact numbers for March, all revealed a large increase in the sales of alcohol. Quebec likened it to the Christmas sales rush, while B.C. “saw over-the-counter sales jump by 40 per cent in March compared with February, with bulk sizes of liquor, beer and wine up more than 120 per cent.”

Similarly, in mid-March, the Ontario Cannabis Store saw an 80 to 100 per cent increase in sales.

For those that are tempted, those that are dependent, or those that are struggling with addiction, however, this presents a real and immediate issue. When you’re cut off from the supports and routine that had been helping you back to recovery, what do you do?

“It’s really helpful to break down what has been helpful and try to keep those things,” says Dr. Leslie Buckley, the chief of addiction at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). “If you [are used to] a really structured day, try to build that again into your new schedule. That might mean new hobbies or crafts — some people are doing a lot of baking. It’s [about] trying to keep yourself busy and distracted.”

If exercise was what helped before, then maintaining some level of fitness is important. If lots of social interaction was critical to recovery, then that means picking up the phone and calling those most important to you. Every person has different strategies, what matters is knowing what works.

“Can you engage in relaxation techniques, can you reach out to family or friends for support?” says Nicholas Mitchell, the Alberta Health Services’ provincial director for addiction and mental health. “If you’re a person of faith, are there faith-based practices you can engage in?”

Buckley also suggests SmartRecovery, an online community of mutual support groups for addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous has been continuing meetings over Zoom, so if you find yourself in a scenario where you’re able to continue meetings virtually, Buckley recommends you do so.

Whether or not you are suffering from addiction, there’s no doubt that quarantine and isolation provides more opportunities to drink or smoke. There are not only feeling of loneliness and boredom, which can encourage alcohol and weed consumption, but also we may have more free time on our hands — parents who don’t need to drive their children around anymore, or people who no longer have to get up early for work.

“We can see a point in their life when drinking increased and we can see a reason for that like divorce, hard job situation or a loss,” says Buckley, referring to the patients he works with. “Sometimes, the way an alcohol problem develops is unseen by the person, where it goes from being more of an option or a choice and quietly changes as your brain adapts, and it shifts suddenly to more of an ingrained habit.”

One trick to help you drink less is to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, he says, which limits how much you can actually consume. While everyone has different preferences for their drink of choice, say, if you’re drinking hard liquor it would be a good idea to switch to beer, or from white wine to red wine.

“In the time of COVID-19 you’re not drinking in a bar or with other people,” says Buckley. “So you don’t want to start thinking about drinking during your regular activities, like watching movies. If you’ve only ever drank socially, you don’t want to start drinking during times you weren’t before.”

For anyone struggling with their consumption of alcohol or cannabis, Mitchell says that the coping strategies are the same.

“…[Alcohol and cannabis] tend to have similar patterns, there’s a social aspect for a lot of folks,” says Mitchell. “I wouldn’t suggest there’s different coping strategies. For whatever substance you’re using, you just want to make sure that you’re not unintentionally falling into a pattern of routinely using more.”

Jessica Nudo already worked from home before the pandemic, so she had some practice with managing her cannabis consumption before self-isolation became a thing.

“I think seasoned consumers who already smoke a lot of cannabis per day, if they’re patients, they have a certain threshold they’re used to and they don’t have a negative reaction,” says Nudo. “My own experience has been that yes it does give me anxiety, I think because I’ve been spending a lot more time online.”

To that end, she has mostly been consuming CBD and low-THC strains with a vaporizer, as that produces less psychoactive effects. Of course, like alcohol consumption, what works for one person may not for another. She has also been using yoga and Instagram Live workouts to compliment her consumption.

Generally, Buckley recommends checking out Canada’s low risk alcohol drinking guidelines, developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. To avoid long-term health risks, it suggests no more than ten drinks a week and two a day for women, and no more than 15 a week and three a day for men.

For non-medical cannabis use, CAMH has their low health risk recommendations. Mitchell also stresses that Alberta’s detox and treatment facilities are still open “for those that are healthy and don’t need to self-isolate,” as well as their 24/7 helpline.

This article was originally published on https://www.healthing.ca/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/how-to-manage-our-alcohol-and-cannabis-consumption-in-quarantine

How are Canadian cannabis companies protecting employees from COVID-19?

An employee with medicinal marijuana plants in the flowering room at Tweed INC. in Smith Falls, Ontario, on December 5, 2016. LARS HAGBERG/AFP via Getty Images

As health experts urge people to maintain social distancing, it remains to be seen how effectively Canadians can best practice this in the workplace.

As far as federal legislation goes, there is no law in place that “requires employers to provide workers with paid sick leave and only two provinces — Quebec and Prince Edward Island — offer paid sick leave,” National Post reports.

“These are tight times for the cannabis industry, but our people are our most important assets,” says Dan Sutton, CEO of B.C.-based cannabis cultivation company Tantalus Labs. The company is a frontrunner in the cannabis space in terms of implementing a policy to respond to a potential outbreak at work.

Additionally, there are benefits packages for salaried employees and the company is prepared to offer extended sick days. “If an hourly employee faces financial difficulties arising from a two-week absence from work, we are ready to have that conversation,” says Sutton. As for paid sick leave, “we intend to discuss that on a case-by-case basis as our team comprises only 43 people with over 70 per cent on salary that would entitle them to paid leave.”

Retail stores double up precautionary measures

Customer-facing roles are at greater risk, urging management to take additional precautions.

Apart from getting paid sick leaves, employees at Superette, an award-winning retail chain, can count on additional resources should a situation of self-quarantine arise, says Lauren Davie, vice president of retail and sales.

As far as preventing outbreak goes, vigorous hygiene standards are maintained at the flagship store in Ottawa — frequent sanitization of high touch points areas in the store such as the ID check, diner booths, budtender bar and others. The menu to make purchases, printed on paper and in plastic coverings, is wiped down with disinfectant after every customer use. The stores are equipped with additional hand sanitizer stations.

Management is also encouraging customers to check products online. “Customers can view our inventory menu online via Leafly, while in-store and their mobile devices as well. Our ‘click & collect’ is launching in the next few weeks and enables a quick and easy customer experience,” says Davie.

Elbow tap the new power handshake

“En route to a meeting on Thursday morning, I was surprised to see a man on TTC spray his entire body with disinfectant,” says Jessica Nudo, co-founder of Toronto-based Nudo and Rook Communications.

Nudo is taking a more common sense approach to her operations: It’s essentially business as usual, with a few adjustments. As a three-member team “we are lucky enough to work remotely and conduct a majority of meeting through conference calls. We learned last week from a client that elbow tap is just as effective as a handshake,” Nudo says.

Following suit is Toronto-based medical marijuana data company Strainprint Technologies Inc.

“We’ve reluctantly evolved from hugs and handshakes to ‘foot pumps’ and elbow touches,” says CEO Andrew Muroff.

Starting next week, all the 20 employees at Strainprint will work from home and depending on how things go, even longer. The company’s long had policies for both paid and unpaid sick leaves and regularly support staff that occasionally works from home.

According to Muroff, “We’ve never done it (work from home) before as a whole team, half of our team is remote anyway. The cannabis industry is so young, that I doubt anyone ever has ever tested this.”

Many companies still figuring it out

Canada’s largest cannabis company, Canopy Growth is monitoring the situation closely and has assembled a team to assess and provide global and regional directives. “Currently, we’re advising employees who are able to perform their duties from home to do so, and travel restrictions are in place,” says Jordan Sinclair, vice-President of communications and media.

As for Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis, all business travel has been paused and the staff has been advised to defer personal travel. Employees are being provided with the option to work from home as well. “We recognize that the situation is evolving and will continue to assess daily. Our production facilities remain fully operational and we have not experienced any disruptions to regular operations, including our existing supply chain,” says Michelle Lefler, vice-president of communications.

Following the World Health Organization’s announcement that the coronavirus has become a global pandemic, many companies are now actively testing operational protocols.

The 80-member team at Toronto-based cannabis tech company Ample Organics has decided to have its employees work remotely. “We’ve been watching the news over the last couple of days, observing what other companies have been proactively doing in light of COVID-19, and we have been trying to figure out the best course of action for our organization,” says Amy Prentice, director of PR and Communications.

On Thursday, the company determined that starting March 16 until April 1, employees are going to begin working away from the office. Prentice says, “After that, our team will receive an update from our leadership to communicate our next steps. This, we feel, is the best way for us to protect our staff and their extended families — and to cut down the spread of the virus.”

This article was originally published on https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-news/how-are-canadian-cannabis-companies-protecting-employees-from-covid-19


Inconsistent Pricing on Cannabis Extract Affects Wipeout of Illegal Market

The government set a goal to wipe out the illegal market, but due to an inconsistency of pricing in cannabis extracts, that objective is now at risk. A CBC News report uncovered that pricing for the same product could vary greatly from store to store, costing up to three and a half times more in one place over another.

The Analysis conducted, took into consideration 61 cannabis products in Ontario’s provincially run online store and compared them to the same merchandise in retailers located in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. After the research was complete, the analysis identified that 31 of the products held inconsistency in pricing, with some varying more than 50%.

Jessica Nudo, a cannabis consumer located in Toronto, expressed her suspicion on the price variations and has even been forced to ration her use due to it. Nudo claims to notice pricing in Ontario being on “the higher end of the spectrum” compared to pricing in Alberta and B.C.

According to Rishi Malkani, of financial consulting firm Deloitte, who has worked directly with provinces like B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, these price variations are normal and to be expected.

“Each of the provincial wholesalers negotiates separate agreements with the producers, so depending on what [the provincial government] thought in terms of how much they should buy, how much their demand is going to be, they’re going to be able to negotiate different kinds of discounts,” Malkani said.

However, Drug policy expert at Humber College in Ontario, Daniel Bear, makes it clear that irregular pricing is detrimental to the government’s goal of eliminating the illegal market.

“One of the primary reasons the government cited when legalizing cannabis was to reduce the black market,” said Bear. “When the prices are now wildly out of line with one another, that probably impacts trust quite a bit.”

Different prices on the same cannabis extracts ‘doesn’t sit well’ with customers

“When the prices are now wildly out of line with one another, that probably impacts trust quite a bit.”

Neither varying tax rates and provincial population can account for discrepancies in prices. HighGradeRoots / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Some provinces appear to be extracting a lot more cash from customers than others on the exact same products.

The price of cannabis extracts, capsules, sprays and oils vary wildly between provincially run cannabis stores, with Ontario consumers sometimes paying as much as three times more than those living elsewhere, according to an analysis by CBC News.

The analysis compared prices on 61 products in the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) in December 2019, with the same items from B.C., Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador, provinces where the government serves as both cannabis wholesaler and retailer.

For more than half of the products examined, the difference between the lowest and highest price across the country was more than 50 percent. Numbers show the same product cost three times as much in some stores than others.

Of the 36 products available in Ontario and B.C., 25 were cheaper out west. On average, Ontario reportedly charged almost a third more than B.C. for some of the same products. Similar disparities presented themselves in comparisons between Ontario and Alberta.

Of the 36 products available in Ontario and B.C., 25 were cheaper out west. / Photo: Sirisak Piyatharo / iStock / Getty Images Plus Sirisak Piyatharo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

“That doesn’t really sit well with me,” said Jessica Nudo, a partner at Nudo & Rook Communications who who relies on products from the OCS to help treat her migraines. “I’d consider myself more of a medical consumer with a touch on the recreation,” Nudo said.

Her own comparisons have also revealed that Ontario is “on the higher end of the spectrum” when it comes to pricing, she said.

Rishi Malkani, who works for consulting firm Deloitte, said there are many factors that affect price fluctuations, such as varying tax rates and provincial population, but that neither of those seem to account for the discrepancy. “The provinces are still kind of, you know, feeling out what’s selling, what’s not,” Malkani said.

Charging different prices for the same product doesn’t help consumer confidence in a regulated system or do much to deter illicit sales, said Daniel Bear, a drug policy expert at Ontario’s Humber College.

“One of the primary reasons the government cited when legalizing cannabis was to reduce the black market,” Bear said. “When the prices are now wildly out of line with one another, that probably impacts trust quite a bit,” he said.

“The whole basis of this system needs to be built on the idea that you can trust that a legalized product is fair, it’s coming from good sources and you’re not being price-gouged just to fill the coffers,” Bear added.

FILE: David Lobo, Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) VP Corporate Affairs and Stakeholdes Engagement and Chief of Staff during a briefing their office in Toronto, Ont. on Friday Jan. 3, 2020. / Photo: Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

The OCS has made no secret of its push for profitability after suffering losses of $42 million in its first six months or so of selling marijuana. “Our pricing is set in a manner that helps us cover our costs as an agency,” said David Lobo, vice-president of corporate affairs and social responsibility at the OCS.

“Ontarians expect that cannabis operations will pay for themselves and will not be subsidized by the province,” Lobo said.

The Ontario store, which is now on track to make a profit, has also dropped prices on more than 200 products since opening, many of which are oils, he said.

“As the legal cannabis marketplace continues to grow and stabilize, OCS remains committed to working closely with licensed producers to further bring down prices,” the agency noted in a blog post Wednesday. “Collectively, competitive pricing, quality and access points to strictly regulated cannabis products will further increase capture of the illegal market”

This article was originally published on https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-news/different-prices-on-the-same-cannabis-extracts-doesnt-sit-well-with-customers and https://calgaryherald.com/en/cannabis-news/different-prices-on-the-same-cannabis-extracts-doesnt-sit-well-with-customers/wcm/759536df-0003-4d11-859d-26e428f1904d/

Cannabis extract prices vary ‘wildly’ between provincially run stores

Inconsistencies could undermine governments’ goal of wiping out illegal market, expert says

Prices for cannabis extracts, capsules and oils in Ontario have Jessica Nudo rationing her use. She’s seen the price fluctuations and doesn’t know why one product would cost so much more in one province than another. (Michael Rich/CBC)

A CBC News analysis has revealed the price of cannabis extracts varies widely across Canada, with the same product sometimes costing two to three times more in one provincially run online store than another.

The inconsistencies, experts say, could undermine efforts to wipe out the country’s illegal market.

The analysis looked at the price of 61 cannabis capsules, sprays and oils available in Ontario’s provincially run online retailer in December 2019.

Those products were then matched with their counterparts from the online provincial retailers in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — provinces where the government is an official distributor and runs an online mail-order site.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan have direct-to-dispensary models, where licensed producers sell directly to retail stores, without the province acting as a wholesaler.

The analysis found that for 31 of the products, the price difference between the most and least expensive province was more than 50 per cent. In some cases the exact same product cost three times more.

Of the 36 products sold in both Ontario and B.C., 25 are more expensive in Ontario. On average, Ontario is charging 32.5 per cent more than B.C. for the exact same product.

A similar trend emerged when CBC News compared prices between the province-run stores in Ontario and Alberta. Of the 54 products the two online stores had in common, 42 cost more in Ontario, with customers paying an average of 33 per cent more.

A 15-capsule bottle of DNA Genetics’ Lemon Skunk 10mg softgels sells for $76.10 in the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). Though produced in Ontario, the same product sells for $29.99 in Newfoundland’s online store, $54.99 in Nova Scotia and $34.49 in P.E.I.

Alberta Cannabis charges $37.99 for a 30ml bottle of Symbl’s High THC Oil, which is also produced in Ontario. B.C. customers can buy it for $74.99, while the same product sells for $106.25 at OCS — 180 per cent more than the retail price in Alberta.

Cost of oils, sprays and capsules in Canada

CBC News compared the prices of 61 cannabis extracts available in provinces where the government acts as wholesaler and runs an online store.

For one Toronto consumer the price variations seem a bit fishy.

“That doesn’t really sit well with me,” said Jessica Nudo.

Nudo began using cannabis for her migraines pre-legalization.

“I’d consider myself more of a medical consumer with a touch on the recreation,” she said.

For health reasons, Nudo prefers to consume cannabis oils and capsules instead of smoking pot. But current extract prices are so high at OCS, she says she rations her use.

She says she too has compared Ontario’s prices with the online prices in Alberta and B.C., and found Ontario’s pricing is often on “the higher end of the spectrum.”

Some price variations are to be expected, said Rishi Malkani, of financial consulting firm Deloitte, who has worked directly with several provinces during their price and supply negotiations with licensed producers.

Some provinces hired Deloitte’s Rishi Malkani to help negotiate cannabis prices with producers. He says Deloitte’s research shows regions have different taste preferences, particularly with edibles. Products that sell well could become cheaper. (CBC)

“Each of the provincial wholesalers negotiates separate agreements with the producers, so depending on what [the provincial government] thought in terms of how much they should buy, how much their demand is going to be, they’re going to be able to negotiate different kinds of discounts.”

On top of that, varying tax rates among the provinces — PST, GST or HST — could make up as much as a 10 per cent difference in the final price. Some provinces include those costs into the display price; others add it at checkout.

Provinces with larger populations could get a better deal for buying in bulk — though that didn’t seem to be the case with the two aforementioned product examples.

The location of the producer also plays an important role, said Malkani, because of transportation costs: a product made in Ontario should cost less in Ontario than it does in Nova Scotia — theoretically, at least.

However, Malkani struggled to come up with an explanation for why a product produced in New Brunswick would be most expensive in neighbouring Quebec and second-most expensive in its home province.

“The provinces are still kind of, you know, feeling out what’s selling, what’s not,” said Malkani.

They’re working through inventory from the first round of wholesale purchases, he said, and suggested some provincial wholesalers may be heavily discounting certain products.

High prices can make buyers feel ‘gouged’

Inconsistent pricing from province to province is detrimental to the goal of wiping out the illegal market, says Daniel Bear, a drug policy expert at Humber College in Ontario.

“One of the primary reasons the government cited when legalizing cannabis was to reduce the black market,” said Bear.

“When the prices are now wildly out of line with one another, that probably impacts trust quite a bit.”

Research on the industry — which so far has been limited to dried flower cannabis — shows customers are willing to pay a bit more for legal product before turning to the illicit market, says Bear, but the margin is small.

If the legal product is anywhere between $1 and $3 more per gram, consumers will buy it, he said.

But when they can see with a click of the mouse that the same product is selling for $10 or $20 less one province over, it makes them more likely to look elsewhere.

“The whole basis of this system needs to be built on the idea that you can trust that a legalized product is fair, it’s coming from good sources and you’re not being price-gouged just to fill the coffers,” Bear said.

David Lobo, vice-president of corporate affairs for OCS, says prices have dropped on more than 200 products since legalization, 40 of those in the extract category: capsules, oils and sprays. (Tina MacKenzie/CBC)

OCS to turn profit after $42M shortfall

One of the reasons for higher prices in Ontario is the province lost $42 million in its first five and a half months selling cannabis.

“Our pricing is set in a manner that helps us cover our costs as an agency,” said David Lobo, vice-president of corporate affairs and social responsibility at OCS.

“Ontarians expect that cannabis operations will pay for themselves and will not be subsidized by the province,” he said, noting that OCS is on track to turn a profit in its first full fiscal year.

Lobo also said OCS has dropped the price on more than 200 products since legalization — 40 of which are oils and capsules.

WATCH: David Lobo explains how the OCS sets its prices

B.C. cannabis wholesale markup 15%

But critics say cheaper products don’t necessarily mean a healthier sales landscape.

In B.C., where prices are consistently lower, the province’s online store marks up all products, from dried flower to extracts and edibles, at a relatively low flat rate of 15 per cent.

While a lower mark-up sounds better for consumers, it’s making it hard for private retailers to turn a profit, said Unity Whittaker, a buyer for Vancouver’s Village Bloomery.

“How can a private retailer compete with the B.C. government when they’re the wholesaler and retailer?” she said. “The Ontario government is taking it out of the end consumer’s pocket, and the B.C. government is taking it out of the retailer’s pocket.”

Unity Whittaker goes over cannabis products for sale at Village Bloomery in Vancouver. Whittaker is the store’s buyer and tracks the cost from province to province. (Daniel Beauparlant/Radio-Canada)

Prices will stabilize: Deloitte

Since CBC News gathered the data, several provinces say they have lowered the prices of some extracts to improve sales.

Malkani says the legal marketplace is still a budding industry, and these inconsistencies are to be expected.

“I think we are watching in real time the evolution of prices,” he said, as retailers and producers see what consumers want and how much they are willing to spend. Despite the “turmoil” right now pricing should even out relatively soon.


  • A previous version of this story stated prices differ up to three and a half times from province to province. In fact, prices can cost two to three times more from one province to the next.
    Feb 19, 2020 11:58 AM ET

This article was originally published on https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/cannabis-extract-oil-capsule-spray-ocs-1.5459516

Inside Toronto’s new cannabis supper club that’s perfect for date nights

Here’s what to expect at the new high-flying dining series from the design-minded byMINISTRY brand

A secret, moveable feast has been doing the rounds in Toronto. The menu is unique, the guest list confidential and the venue, only a select few have access to — and only a few days prior to the event.

It’s the Enlightened Dining Club, a monthly, secret supper club hosted by the cannabis lifestyle brand byMINISTRY. The dining series aims to be about more than just getting high. And with a price of $100 to $150 per person, it will certainly be reserved for special occasions.

In a sneak preview, four such infused dining events were hosted in the city this month — The GrowthOp attended the third. The fourth event was a sold-out, ticketed event attended by 50 people at a gallery space in the western fringe of the downtown core of the city. The five-course meal was prepared by Ted Corrado, culinary director for byMINISTRY.

Most talked about dish of the night: A dessert comprising 5 mg of CBD (sativa dominant Green White Shark) and made of matcha white chocolate, and seabuckthorn mousse. byMinistry

“We are a design-forward company, so every dish was created keeping this element in mind,” says Corrado, who has previously worked in The Drake Hotel and the Royal Ontario Museum kitchen as head chef.

The dessert, for instance, was a “labour of love.” “The idea was to create a dish that goes beyond brownies and gummies. An elevated design, the dessert mimics the company logo and is something playful.” The guests were served piping hot creamy matcha sauce that was poured over the dessert to reveal layers of flavours inside.

The dining event was a collaboration with Toronto artist Dahae Song. byMinistry

Erring on the side of caution, Corrado chose to keep the cannabis dosage for the entire meal under 10 mg. “The first two courses had 5 mg of THC and the dessert, in an attempt to balance things out, was high in CBD. I wanted the guests to not only enjoy the night, but walk out feeling in control,” he says.

Guests said they appreciated the low dose.

“During the good ‘ol prohibition days, I was invited to two infused dinners and one infused brunch,” says Jessica Nudo, co-founder at Nudo & Rook Communications, who also attended the event. “In fact, I left one of these experiences feeling like I was going into cardiac arrest (it turns out it was just a very bad panic attack), so my low-tolerance self definitely appreciated byMINISTRY’s low-dose offerings,” she says.

Working within the confines of Health Canada’s strict regulations, the event was hosted at a private location, and reserved for attendees who were 19 years of age and older. No alcohol was served on site, and all attendees were asked to sign a standard legal waiver ,”which stated that no cannabis was purchased on the site, and that attendees were paying for the experience and our services,” says Corrado.

Squash on a bed of stracciatella cheese and garnished with compressed persimmon and nasturtium leaves. The dish has 2.5 mg of THC (sativa dominant Lemon Skunk). byMinistr

The February series will see Corrado teaming up with one of Toronto chef Matt Ravenscroft of Rosalinda. The pair will serve a plant-based infused feast, hosted in collaboration with Partisans, a swanky design studio in Toronto. Tickets can be purchased by signing up on the byMINISTRY website.

“The dining series is a great way to break the ice, whether it’s a date night or if you are looking to introduce your parents to cannabis for the first time,” says Casie Stewart, a Toronto-based blogger who attended one of the dinners.

“I am on a path of being Cali-sober, where I am more onto cannabis than alcohol and this is an ideal plan for a night out, where you can get together with friends and rather than going to a bar, where the music is always too loud, can hang out in a fun and interactive environment.”

Duck eggs on a bed of locally sourced wild mushrooms. The dish included 2.5 mg of THC (in this case, indica-dominant LBS Sunset). byMinistry

The supper club’s organizers aim to showcase ways cannabis can be a part of people’s lives. Every month, once such infused dinner will be hosted.

“My entire professional career has been about making experiences accessible to the public,” says Shauna Levy, former Design Exchange CEO and president, and now the CEO of byMINISTRY. “The idea with this supper club is to showcase that cannabis can be integrated into all these fields whether it’s design, fashion or culture.”

“You had a great night, really delicious healthy food, had a few laughs, and then the next day you are back to work,” says Levy. “We are starting in Toronto and will move from there. Ultimately, the idea is to go global.”

This article was originally published in https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-news/by-ministry-infused-cannabis-dinner

Pot Panel: Their picks of best TIFF films to watch and the best bud to watch them with

A mellow indica strain may be good for the Joker, but you don’t want to risk falling asleep in Endings/Beginnings

Joaquin Phoenix, seen at the 2018 TIFF, stars in Joker at this year’s TIFF. VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time ever, film fest-goers can legally indulge in a bit of bud before catching a film at Toronto’s world-renowned festival.

“With weed now legalized, it’s a perfect opportunity to have a night out on the town and buzz-out during one of the festival’s many exciting films,” said Jordan Watts, a budtender for The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co.

TIFF runs from Sept. 5 to 15, and The GrowthOp asked five cannabis aficionados what film they would like to see high, and their preferred cannabis pairing

Here are their recommendations:


The person Jordan Watts, budtender at The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. 

The film Watts recommends the new Joker film directed by Todd Phillips, and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Gotham’s clown prince. “This film will be different than previous Joker movies because it is an origin story,” Watts said. “The film follows Arthur Fleck’s journey into insanity as he transforms into Gotham’s most feared criminal.”

Cannabis pairing Houseplant indica offers a great body high, but it is mellow enough to handle the drama onscreen. Canadian movie star Seth Rogan and screenwriter Evan Goldberg are behind the Houseplant brand, launched with Canopy Growth Corporation this spring. Watts also has a favourite movie snack to tackle the munchies: popcorn and M&M’s mixed together. “It’s a little crazy, but so is the Joker.”

Color Out of Space

The person Nina Caputo, educator and key lead at Tokyo Smoke 333 Yonge St. in Toronto. Caputo has been working in the cannabis industry since legalization in October 2018.

The film Color Out of Space is director Richard Stanley’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror short story about a meteor that lands on the property of a New England family. Nicolas Cage stars as the family’s unhinged patriarch. “Stanley, Lovecraft and Cage. Need I say more? Itching to see this cosmic horror at Midnight Madness [The first screening is a Midnight Madness on Sat. Sept. 7 at Ryerson Theatre]. It’s going to be a wild one.”

Nicolas Cage attends the 2017 TIFF. He stars in Color Out of Space. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Cannabis pairing 48North’s Granddaddy Purple Pre-Rolls are a classic indica, described as a fusion of a heavy body high and a dreamy, euphoric and cerebral effect. “Keeping you on the edge of your seat the entire time,” says Caputo. “Plus, it’s perfectly rolled for you, which makes it convenient for a night out.”

The Lighthouse
The person Michael Leach, creative director and partner of Dynasty Cannabis in Toronto. Leach studied film and directed music videos earlier in his career. Dynasty Cannabis grew out of his passion for cannabis cultivation.

The film The Lighthouse, a Robert Eggers film staring Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson. Leach said visually The Lighthouse reminds him of a favourite filmmaker Béla Tarr. The Lighthouse is a psychological thriller shot on 35 mm black and white film. The storyline “follows the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers on a remote New England island at the turn of the 19th century.

Robert Pattinson stars in The Lighthouse. FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

Cannabis pairing Leach describes himself as “a bit of an old man” when it comes to cannabis, and he likes to stick to earthy, home-grown cannabis with a lower TCH. When entering a dark theatre, it is important to keep paranoia to a minimum. “I don’t want to freak out.” He chose two Flowr strains—BC Diesel or BC Delahaze.


The person Jessica Nudo, a consultant and media strategist. Two years ago, Nudo went on a women’s cannabis retreat called the Ganja Goddess Getaway (now known as Glowing Goddess Getaway), which increased her understanding of cannabis. “Since then, I’ve become a firm believer that you can sprinkle a bit of weed on any regular activity to enhance it, spice things up or just to become a little more present.”

The film Endings/Beginnings, from writer-director Drake Doremus, stars Shailene Woodley, one of Nudo’s favourite actors. Endings/Beginnings follows Daphne (Woodley) who, while getting over a bad break-up, gets caught in a love triangle with a free-spirited bad boy (Sebastian Stan) and his more stable, scholarly best friend (Jamie Dornan).

Shailene Woodley stars in Endings/Beginnings. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Cannabis pairing Tangerine Dream by San RafaelDancehall by Spinach or a Super Silver Haze will keep Nudo focused on the film. “I’d refrain from anything on the heavy indica, canna-spectrum because I wouldn’t want to risk falling asleep.”


The person Kendra Nicholson, content strategist, working in the cannabis industry since legalization.

The film Parasite is described as “a comedy without clowns and a tragedy without villains” from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. Parasite explores the social inequality of the haves and the have-nots in a dark comedy when one wealthy family opens up their home up to a family of grifters masquerading as the help.

Cannabis pairing Nicholson recommends Blue Dream, a strain high in myrcene, “which can open your mind; but is also cerebral enough to keep you reading between the lines in this subtitled masterpiece.”

This article was originally published on https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-culture/toronto-international-film-festival/cannabis-panel-picks-this-years-top-five-tiff-films-to-see-high-and-the-best-bud-to-watch-them-with and https://windsorstar.com/cannabis-culture/toronto-international-film-festival/cannabis-panel-picks-this-years-top-five-tiff-films-to-see-high-and-the-best-bud-to-watch-them-with/wcm/c0a31bfc-a920-434f-bc10-2cfd1f4d3536/amp/

Form and function: Campaign looks to ditch “stoner” label and show how cannabis has helped real people advance their health, functioning and quality of life

Attitudes towards cannabis are normalizing, but the hope is that personal stories will serve to kick stigma to the curb

Breaking the Stigma (BTS) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ending all stigmas—including the persisting one against cannabis use—that keep society from evolving. In late June, the group held the first of a series of private events to introduce people to the Breaking the Stigma: Cannabis campaign, a project about the healing journeys of medical and adult-use cannabis consumers, the everyday lives of patients and how they have and continue to battle stigma.

The GrowthOp spoke to Melissa Rolston (MR), founder of Breaking the Stigma and the group’s PR director, Jessica Nudo (JN), to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the campaign and what it is trying to accomplish.

How did BTS get its start?

MR: Back in 2014 when I was working in a dispensary. We had well over 5,000 members, and the majority of people that would come through were all medical patients. This was at a point when the MMPR, the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, was entering into the space, so we were in a massive transition phase. I am from a military family, so I had a family member that had a diagnosis where CBD would have been one of the best approaches for them to manage their symptoms and enhance their quality of life. However, they couldn’t get past the fact that this was illegal, even though we’ve had a medical program since 2001, and they didn’t want to be labelled a stoner.

BTS will host a safe space, allow people to hang out and connect with others in the cannabis industry and community, and set up a camera for people who want to share their stories.

Melissa Rolston is founder of Breaking the Stigma, which has launched a campaign to gather the healing journeys of medical and adult-use cannabis consumers, the everyday lives of patients and how they continue to battle stigma. Photo: Jessica Nudo Photo: Jessica Nudo

What do you hope to accomplish with BTS?

MR: Being able to create this kind of community and space will really help to diminish the stigma and allow people to just have relief and do it ethically, so that these patients have access to an alternative medicine that’s still going to provide them with the quality of life that they’re seeking. We’re not looking to monetize anything, [just to] create a space for community and for people’s voices to be heard.

Why did you choose this approach to try to break the stigma around cannabis?

MR: We want to be a hub where people can go and get the information and support that they require. It all just comes down to community. When your voice is heard, you feel better as a person, especially if you’re on a healing journey.

JN: It’s opening a portal to other conversations that we need to have that are related to other stigmas, so it’s like a stepping stone to navigating and healing these concerns and providing an outlet that can also be cathartic.

What kind of imprint did the stigma of the past leave on cannabis consumers of today?

MR: I’ve been a medical cannabis patient for years, and I had to deal with family members being like, “What the hell are you doing?” Now, to be in this environment where it’s acceptable, and everyone’s cool about it, it still doesn’t diminish the fact that you had to deal with, for so long, negativity from people that love you and that are supposed to be in your circle or support system.

JN: Even when the [medical] evidence is right there in your face, there’s this stronghold on the stigma against cannabis. It’ll take probably, I suspect, at least a generation to break through.

Jessica Nudo is PR director of Breaking the Stigma, which has developed a cannabis-specific campaign meant to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the perceptions and misperceptions that cannabis consumers face. Photo: Annie MacEachern

I think that the boomer generation, especially, is quite divided. You have a lot of people that are coming around, changing their minds, that were probably more likely to consume cannabis when they were younger. And then you have that other part of the generation that was just always bit stiffer and more resistant to either change or alternative forms of medicines, because the fear-mongering did a number on them.

What signs have you observed that indicate stigma around cannabis is falling away?

MR: In Canada, specifically since October 17, 2018, there’s been a massive mind shift with people more interested in approaching this from a therapeutic perspective. I’ll give you a perfect example: my great aunt, who has been having inflammatory issues and fibromyalgia. For years, I was telling her she should be doing CBD. She was always hard no. We were on a call the other day, and she wouldn’t stop talking about how excited she is to try CBD oil. That’s just a perfect example of someone who was dead set against it, and now we’re post-legalization, and she can’t wait to get her CBD oil in the mail.

To be able to tell those stories and help inspire people elsewhere in the world, to try to advocate and push for policy change, is what we want to do.

JN: I think that large public events having consumption spaces will be a great way to remove the stigma, because then it’s really putting us on par with people who consume alcohol.

This article was originally published on https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-culture/form-and-function-campaign-looks-to-ditch-stoner-label-and-show-how-cannabis-has-helped-real-people-advance-their-health-functioning-and-quality-of-life