Matt Gray from HERB (Globe and Mail Update)

With legalization coming, Toronto startup aims to blaze a trail in cannabis

With recreational marijuana legal in eight U.S. states and legalization only a year away in Canada, a Toronto-based startup has its sights set on dominating the global cannabis media market and becoming the central marketplace for buying weed online. However, the lack of legal clarity around marijuana advertising and online sales means the company’s business model isn’t a sure thing.

HERB, an online publication focused on cannabis culture, has expanded rapidly over the past two years. Since being acquired and rebranded in 2015 by Toronto entrepreneur Matt Gray, the website has grown from 100,000 unique monthly visitors to more than five million. HERB’s videos – which range from industry news to segments on how to roll the perfect joint – are viewed around 250 million times a month, according to the company, and its social media following rivals established online media outlets such as HuffPost and Vice.

At only 27 years old, Mr. Gray, co-founder and former chief executive of coding academy Bitmaker, has already seen success in the startup world, having sold Bitmaker to U.S. education company General Assembly. Since completing a round of fundraising in March, HERB has doubled its staff to 15 full-time employees and around 15 contract workers. Full story

Tax changes would hurt profitable businesses, opponents warn Ottawa

Opposition is quickly growing to proposed federal tax changes, as lawyers, accountants and major lobby groups are warning that profitable private corporations of all sizes stand to be negatively affected by new taxes on their investment portfolios. Full story

Plastic-versus-cash battle heats up after Visa, Mastercard deals

The dollar bill, that long-time rival of credit-card giants, is under attack once again. After years of fighting to get their cards accepted in stores, Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are stepping up efforts to get merchants and consumers to move to a cashless world. Full story

A digital farmers’ market brings local foods to Ontarians

Food wholesaler Flanagan launches an online e-commerce forum designed to connect small, local food growers directly with purchasing outlets Full story

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How can small businesses handle rising interest rates?

Small to medium-sized private businesses may be one of the most affected groups by the rate increase. Full story

Scarborough food company’s sweet success offends neighbours’ noses

Two summers ago, Chris Correia stepped into her backyard and took a whiff of her new neighbour. She was overcome by the smell of frying oil and spices enveloping her Scarborough property. “It just took your breath away,” she said. Full story

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