Locations of Ontario’s first four recreational cannabis stores announced
The Globe and mail – THE CANADIAN PRESS
The locations of Ontario’s first four provincially run cannabis stores have been announced.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Cannabis Store say the shops will be in Guelph, Kingston, Toronto and Thunder Bay.
The agencies say the locations comply with local zoning rules, minimize proximity to schools and factor in where illegal dispensaries are currently operating.
Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana and will set the legal age to purchase it at 19.
Room to grow: Legalization means opportunities for pot companies big and small
Tori Floyd, Yahoo Finance Canada Thu, Mar 22 9:23 AM EDT
When recreational cannabis is legalized in Canada later this year, the country is going to be facing a “welcome problem.”
“We have a unique and welcome problem in this industry,” says Allan Rewak, Acting Executive Director of the Cannabis Canada Association. “We will not have enough cannabis to supply the industry post July.”
In Sept. 2017, Mackie Research Capital Corp. issued a report estimating that Canada would require approximately 795,000 kg of marijuana in order to meet demand in 2018, The Financial Post reports, but estimated the capacity of producers at the end of 2017 to be at about 100,000 kg.
“The amount of invested capacity today and that is expected to be built up for the foreseeable future, that will not catch up to demand for another two years,” says Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift, an online platform that allows for medical marijuana users to share reviews about cannabis products, and educates consumers about their cannabis purchasing options.
“We’re expecting say until 2021, 2020, a healthy two years after July, during which demand will outstrip supply.”
Olaru says that while the apparent “arm’s race” for producers and retailers to lock down supply chains appears to favour big companies like Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis and Aphria Inc., the demand will benefit everyone.
“It’s evident that the larger players are being rewarded because they’re the most stable,” says Olaru. “The government is saying they want to secure the largest players because they want to be prepared for this scenario they know nothing about.”
“It’s important to understand that these [large producer agreements] are simply the beginning,” says Rewak.
Just like Canada’s $22.1 billion-alcohol industry, the recreational marijuana market is poised to be made up of larger producers that retailers can turn to for a stable supply of product, and smaller ones that will help cater to a niche, craft range of tastes and lifestyles. With the recreational marijuana market in Canada expected to be worth between $5 billion and $10 billion, there’s a wide array of business opportunities for companies who seek them.
In February, Ontario held a “supplier prep day” in Toronto, open to all 90 currently-licensed producers from across the country. The event, hosted by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and its marijuana subsidy the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp., helped to show that there is space for companies of all sizes in Canada’s upcoming recreational marijuana market.
“The process for procuring cannabis supply for the OCRC will be open to all Canadian licensed producers,” LCBO spokesperson Nicole Laoutaris told The Financial Post. “The OCRC has not yet entered into any supplier agreements.”
While Ontario, as well as Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and Manitoba have opted for government-run liquor control board stores, other provinces including B.C., Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan will sell through private licensed retailers.
The diversity of approaches has meant that startups like Canwe Growers, an Ontario marijuana producer that is in the process of getting their production license, will be able to find retail space for their product. Operated by New Maple Holdings, Canwe applied for a license last July, received their security clearance this past January, and are now in the final stages of the review process.
Co-founder of New Maple Karim Nehme says that smaller companies will be able to stand out against the big players just like in the booze industry.
“If you look at beer, there’s something like 1,500 beer companies, all the larger players and all the craft brews,” says Nehme. “But they all came along, they did something different, and managed to grow.”
“We’re trying to focus on quality, no matter the size of the company,” adds New Maple CEO Tegan Adams. “To set ourselves apart, we’re focusing on the quality of the grow, and the quality of the team.”
New Maple and Canwe are currently in the process of developing their product lines, but part of their strategy will be focusing on lines targeting women, and products that would appeal to a broad female audience as well.
Hiku Brands is also focusing on a niche customer experience, targeting the sophisticated and refined cannabis consumers.
“I think the high quality experience will win,” says Allan Gertner, co-founder of Tokyo Smoke, which formed Hiku Brands alongside DOJA Cannabis in January. “I think ultimately consumers pick their products based on brands.”
The vertically-integrated Hiku produces its marijuana through DOJA in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, sells through its Tokyo Smoke stores (and holds one of four retail licenses in Manitoba through that brand), and operates the cannabis digest Van der Pop. Gertner says that offering tailored experiences to consumers is critical in these early days, as dedicated recreational brands and retail experiences begin to evolve.
“Consumers are still searching for information and education, so the in-store experience will be critical in helping teach consumers,” says Gertner.
Supplying the demand
While the dearth of cannabis growing capacity in Canada is good news for the companies trying to find their place in the market, it’s a source of worry for licensed producers who are trying to plan distribution for their limited supply.
“The anxiety is will we have enough capacity to meet demand, not whether we’ll be in the market,” says Mike Gorenstein, CEO President and Chairman of Cronos.
Cronos, which was founded in 2012 ahead of the 2013 medical marijuana legalization in Canada, also grows cannabis in the Okanagan Valley, and operates under several brands, including the medical marijuana brand Peace Naturals. Gorenstein says that his biggest concern is making sure the medical users are taken care of ahead of the recreational ones.
“If there’s a limited amount of building material when you’re building a new community, you should probably build a hospital before you build a bar,” says Gorenstein.
“What I’m very cognizant of is what happens if we overcommit to recreational and suddenly our medical patients don’t have access.”
Gorenstein stresses that the strains produced for the medical market won’t necessarily be the same ones produced for the recreational one, but there’s still a finite amount of space in which to grow plants, regardless of the intended use.
“Most of the announcements you’ve seen, these aren’t binding supply amounts, and they’re significantly lower than the anticipated demand,” says Gorenstein.
“There is a huge shortage, and the issue is getting the capacity.”
“There are a lot of well-funded producers that have been around since 2013, and they’re not producing that amount today,” he adds. “The idea we’re going to suddenly get to 100,000 kilos is a little farfetched.”
Even with supply issues looming large, producers across the country are eager to be involved in the burgeoning industry.
“This is our chance as a country to define an industry and a social movement that will take off around the world,” says Gertner.
“I’m excited about the chance to be part of that. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change people’s lives.”
Toronto judge rules drug law constitutional at time of Project Claudia pot raids
The judge was asked to consider whether the marijuana laws were valid in May 2016 when Toronto police conducted raids on pot dispensaries as part of Project Claudia.
The crackdown on city pot dispensaries in May 2016 was on solid constitutional ground, based on a Toronto judge’s decision released Friday.
The decision means the case of a compassion club owner charged with marijuana trafficking will be heading back to court this fall, when the drug will be legal across the country.
Justice Heather McArthur was asked to decide whether the laws were valid in May 2016 when Toronto police conducted raids as part of Project Claudia.
Lawyers representing Marek Stupak, one of more than 90 people charged, argued his charges should be dismissed because Sect. 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the law under which he was charged, breached his charter rights because a valid program making medicinal pot readily available did not exist in 2016.
He was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.
The judge summarized numerous legal decisions relating to medical pot dating back to 2000, including a February 2016 court ruling that found the federal marijuana regime violated the charter and was therefore “of no force or effect.” However, the judge suspended the declaration of invalidity for six months. New medicinal pot regulations came into force on Aug. 24, 2016, before the suspension period expired.
The suspension had the effect of extending the life of Ottawa’s medicinal marijuana program, McArthur wrote. So, “individuals charged with marijuana offences during this time frame can be … prosecuted and convicted. That finding is sufficient to dispose of this application,” she said Friday reading from her eight-page ruling.
Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young, who argued the application with co-counsel Kendra Stanyon, said there is no avenue for appeal so the next stage will be for the court to hear whether the accused, and others, were legitimate medical providers and exempt from the law.
“I would much prefer not to use the administration of criminal justice for that purpose, but that’s probably where we’re headed,” Young said outside the courtroom.
A silver lining is that the ruling “gives us an opportunity to show Canada what some of these people were doing to help sick people in the absence of a government program that was working efficiently. Some of these people should be proud of what they’ve done, not criminalized.”
The strange times in which we live means the case is scheduled to return to court in October when marijuana will be legal.
“This whole thing can be seen as a supreme waste of time, I would have said the raids were a supreme waste of time,” Young said. “There’s a real disconnect between government policy and what’s actually happening in terms of enforcement of criminal law.”
Stupak, who operates Social Collective (So Co), said Friday while he’s disappointed by the decision he will continue his legal battle. He said he has been catering to the medical marijuana market for more than 20 years, selling pot to patients at an affordable price.
The Toronto Star Story – Click Here
Trudeau government avoids defeat on key pot bill vote
Senators voted 44 to 29, largely along partisan lines, to send bill to 5 committees for further study
By John Paul Tasker, CBC News Mar 22, 2018 4:24 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 22, 2018 8:05 PM ET
The Liberal government avoided a disastrous result for its marquee marijuana bill Thursday, as the legislation to legalize recreational cannabis passed a key stage in the Senate. It’s now headed to five separate committees for further study.
Senators voted 44 to 29 to pass the bill, largely along partisan lines, at second reading. A defeat would have killed the bill, forcing the government to start over again in the House of Commons with new legislation, all the while jeopardizing plans for full legalization by summer.
All 28 Conservative senators present in the chamber voted against the bill. Virtually all Independent senators — most of them appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — sided with the government.
Independent P.E.I. Sen. Mike Duffy was the lone hold-out and voted with the Conservatives. And, in a rare move, Speaker George Furey, who usually refrains from voting, voted to move the bill to committee.
“I think it’s an important statement by the majority that this bill must advance,” Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate, told reporters after the vote.
“This is a bill that is of high interest to the Senate. There are many issues to be dealt with, and it’s important that second reading passed tonight so the Senate could get on with its study, meeting with experts, and deciding if the bill can be improved in any fashion.”
Independent Ontario Sen. Tony Dean, the bill’s sponsor in the Red Chamber, said he’s happy the “exceptionally unusual” move by Conservative senators to block the bill failed.
“I’m happy that we have the decision I think Canadians expect of us. We’re here to do work, examine the legislation, hear from experts, provide our advice and judgment,” he said.
Larry Smith, the Conservative leader in the Senate, said his caucus stood against the bill on principle, adding it’s “not our job” to support government legislation. He said the Tories plan to move amendments to address some of their key concerns.
Some in government were worried about the prospect of a loss because two Senate committees are out of town this week, meaning some Independent and Liberal senators who support the bill were not scheduled to be present for the crucial vote.
But some senators flew back to Ottawa late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning so they could be on hand to back the bill and stave off an embarrassing defeat for the Liberal government.
Non-affiliated Alberta Sen. Grant Mitchell, the government’s liaison — who works as a whip without some of the same coercive powers normally afforded to a partisan caucus — and Independent Quebec Sen. Marc Gold, the liaison for the Independent Senators Group, were busy working the phones encouraging senators to show up in Ottawa Thursday.
“They are making a special effort to fly back here if they need to, so they can be here and vote according to how they believe the vote should go,” Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, the leader of the Independent Senators Group, told reporters earlier Thursday.
“As soon as we heard that there was a possibility of a blocked vote on the part of the Conservatives and that there was the possibility that they, the Conservatives, might run the risk of defeating a bill at second reading — which would be extraordinary — we wanted to communicate that with our members so they could make their own decision about coming back and be part of this historic decision.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had urged senators to pass the bill, saying illegal cannabis use — a $7 billion industry that funnels funds into the hands of organized crime, according to government figures — will continue unabated without the benefit of federal regulations.
“It does not protect our young people, and it sends billions per year to organized crime and street gangs. We need a new system,” he said. “That’s why we are pushing forward with legalization and control of marijuana and I’m confident that all Canadians, including the senators, will understand that.”
Harder, the Liberal government’s point-man in the Senate, said Thursday morning he simply wasn’t sure he had the votes to get the bill over the line today.
When asked after the vote if he was relieved the result went his way, Harder said, “I always breathe a sigh of relief when the Senate acts responsibly.”
Scathing reviews of cannabis bill
Conservative senators have delivered scathing condemnations of the legislation that will legalize the recreational use of cannabis in this country.
Tory senators say they worry the legislation will endanger youth, increase smoking rates, complicate the work of police officers, lead to a backlog of court cases for possession offences and do little to curb black market sales of the drug.
“It’s a piece of shit. It doesn’t protect people, it will not exclude organized crime from the production. So, most senators say this bill was written badly,” Conservative Quebec Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu told reporters Thursday ahead of the vote.
“We have to rewrite the bill. It will be a good exercise for us. Every article must be amended.”
Smith balked at Independent Quebec Sen. Raymonde Saint-Germain’s claim that the Conservatives’ opposition is motivated strictly by partisanship.
“I think that is inappropriate. The issue is, it’s up to the government if it wants to progress its legislation. It has to get its members to come and vote,” he said. “They have to get their troops organized to make sure they get the vote they want.”
Conservative Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, the caucus whip, said government efforts to marshal Independent senators — and fly them back to Ottawa for a vote — prove that the ‘Independent’ label is a farce.
“Justin Trudeau’s biggest problem is his independently appointed senators have been told they’re independent for so long that now some of them are starting to believe that,” he said.
“Tell me how they are not whipped. Senators were out of the province and they were flown home today for the vote. That’s what I would call being whipped. You check the definition of what a whip does and that’s exactly what they do, and that’s exactly what they did.”
We should treat heroin like other prescription drugs
Every morning, Kevin Thompson takes a short stroll from his apartment to the Crosstown Clinic, where he signs in, gets his prescription medicine, then sits in a small room and injects it before heading off to work.
He follows this routine up to three times a day, and has done so virtually every day for more than a dozen years.
The medicine is diacetylmorphine, the medical term for prescription heroin.
“It saved my life. No question, it saved my life,” Mr. Thompson, 47, says emphatically.
Mr. Thompson has been a heavy user of street drugs such as cocaine and heroin since his early twenties. He was at college, studying hairdressing, when he was robbed and lost all his money, and ended up homeless. To get by, he started selling drugs, and soon became his own best customer.
“I’m not sure exactly how I got into drugs, but I sure did get into them,” Mr. Thompson says with a laugh.
He became addicted not only to drugs, but to the “hustle” – the high-octane, high-risk lifestyle of dealing, stealing, and shooting up over and over again.
In 2005, Mr. Thompson was recruited to participate in an academic study known as the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), which tried to determine if diacetylmorphine worked better than methadone. NAOMI morphed into SALOME (Study to Access Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness) and eventually into a special-access program run out of the Crosstown Clinic.
Along the way, the former Conservative government tried to shut down the initiative, resulting in lengthy court battles, but a small program remains.
Mr. Thompson is one of 91 people prescribed diacetylmorphine, while another 24 get hydromorphone, and a couple of dozen others have transitioned to oral drugs such as methadone, Suboxone and slow-release liquid morphine.
The philosophy behind the program is simple: It reduces harm – to drug users and to the community.
Heroin substitution is designed for intractable users who have failed repeatedly at rehab and other harm-reduction measures such as methadone.
Mr. Thompson, who was getting up to 400 milligrams of diacetylmorphine three times daily – “enough to kill a horse,” in his words – has never overdosed, nor has he had complications that are common with street drugs.
He also gave up the hustle, meaning he long ago stopped shoplifting, breaking into cars and other things he did to afford his next hit.
“I went to jail a lot, but I haven’t been to jail in eight years,” he says.
Nor does he make regular visits to the emergency room, which were common when he lived on the streets and suffered routinely from violence, infectious disease and other health problems that accompany addiction.
“I’ve got my own place. I’ve got a scooter. I’ve got a full-time job. I even have a five-year relationship,” Mr. Thompson says.
“If I was your neighbour, you wouldn’t know I was on dope.”
The “dope” he takes now is a prescription drug supplied by the state. It costs approximately $25,000 a year per person – $10,000 for the drug itself and $14,750 for the operation.
It’s expensive for Crosstown Clinic to operate because the rules are onerous. Diacetylmorphine is imported from Switzerland and prescribing, dispensing and storing it requires elaborate paperwork and tighter security than some banks. Prescription heroin users must come at specific times, receive a precise dose, inject in the supervised facility, and the unused product is destroyed.
That cost would be a fraction if we were more pragmatic and treated heroin like other prescription drugs and expanded the program, allowing economies of scale.
It is estimated that about 500 people in Vancouver alone could benefit from heroin-substitution.
The research that has been carried out over the years shows this harm-reduction approach saves money because long-time drug users such as Mr. Thompson previously used an average of $48,000 annually in health-care and criminal-justice services.
Those base economic calculations don’t take into account that people are kept alive and lead productive lives.
Mr. Thompson, for example, oversees an overdose-prevention site on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Working at the coal-face of the opioids crises, he has lost track of how many people he has had to revive with naloxone and how many friends he has lost because they used contaminated street drugs.
“I kind of feel guilty sometimes because I’m getting help and others aren’t. It makes me sick to know we could be saving lives and we’re not.”
The federal health minister says the government is working with a variety of organizations and levels of government to find solutions to the opioid crisis. Ginette Petitpas Taylor says Ottawa will boost treatment options for drug users.
America Is Giving Away the $30 Billion Medical Marijuana Industry
Why? Because the feds are bogarting the weed, while Israel and Canada are grabbing market share.
The NIDA license, Doblin says, is a “monopoly” on the supply and has starved legitimate research toward understanding cannabinoids, terpenes, and other constituents of marijuana that seem to quell pain, stimulate hunger, and perhaps even fight cancer. Twice in the late 1990s, Doblin provided funding, PR, and lobbying support for physicians who wanted to study marijuana—one sought a treatment for AIDS-related wasting syndrome, the other wanted to see if it helped migraines—and was so frustrated by the experience that he vowed to break the monopoly. That’s what led him to Craker.
In June 2001, Craker filed an application for a license to cultivate “research-grade” marijuana at UMass, with the goal of staging FDA-approved studies. Six months later he was told his application had been lost. He reapplied in 2002 and then, after an additional two years of no action, sued the DEA, backed by MAPS. By this point, both U.S. senators from Massachusetts had publicly supported his application, and a federal court of appeals ordered the DEA to respond, which it finally did, denying the application in 2004.
Then, in August 2016, during the final months of the Obama presidency, the DEA reversed course. It announced that, for the first time in a half-century, it would grant new licenses.
Doblin, who has seemingly endless supplies of optimism and enthusiasm, convinced the professor there was hope—again. So Craker submitted paperwork, again, along with 25 other groups. The university’s provost co-signed his application, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) wrote a letter to the DEA in support of his effort.
He’s still waiting to hear back. “I’m never gonna get the license,” Craker says.
Pessimism isn’t surprising from a man who’s been making a reasonable case for 17 years to no avail. Studies around the world have shown that marijuana has considerable promise as a medicine. Craker says he spoke late last year at a hospital in New Hampshire where certain cannabinoids were shown to facilitate healing in brain-damaged mice. “And I thought, ‘If cannabinoids could do that, let’s put them in medicines!’ ” He sighs. “We can’t do the research.”
Another sigh. “I’m naive about a lot about things,” he says. “But it seems to me that we should be looking at cannabis. I mean, if it’s going to kill people, let’s know that and get rid of it. If it’s going to help people, let’s know that and expand on it. … But there’s just something wrong with the DEA. I don’t know what else to say. … Somehow, marijuana’s got a bad name. And it’s tough to let go of.
Back in 1990, Ethan Russo was a practicing neurologist who’d grown frustrated with his pharmaceutical options. “It occurred to me I was giving increasingly toxic drugs to my patients with less and less benefit,” says Russo, now one of the world’s leading experts and advocates for research in marijuana medicine. “It caused me to go back to a childhood interest in medicinal plants and see if there were alternatives.”
In 1996, when California became the first state to allow the use of marijuana by prescription, Russo saw an opening. With the support of—who else—Doblin and MAPS, he wrote a protocol and prepared for what he hoped would be a formal clinical trial using cannabis to treat migraines. Obviously, he’d need to use NIDA-supplied marijuana. You can’t do research acceptable to the FDA with marijuana grown illegally, as is all marijuana not grown at Ole Miss.
NIDA twice rejected his applications to use its pot, but then the FDA assumed oversight of what it calls “investigational new drug” applications, and Russo got his approval. In the eyes of the FDA, his study was promising enough to warrant a clinical trial. “With any other drug, I would have been able to begin work on the trial the next day,” he says. But the use of cannabis, and only cannabis, required a second “public health service review,” according to a rule instituted in 1998 to, ostensibly, facilitate more research. In reality, it did the opposite. NIDA denied Russo access to its cannabis. “Despite the fact that the FDA had approved it,” he says.
Around the world, cannabis research was a growing field. Russo began to write and publish on the subject, and in 1998 he was recruited as a consultant by a British startup, GW Pharmaceuticals Plc, founded by two physicians who’d been granted a license to cultivate cannabis by the U.K. Home Office, which oversees, among other things, security and drug policy.
Doblin’s ultimate goal isn’t to compete with GW Pharmaceuticals. Should the NIDA monopoly ever end, he says, a number of companies will surely want to grow marijuana “to make extracts in nonsmoking delivery systems that can be patented”—that is, pharmaceuticals. This is a good thing, in his estimation. “But MAPS is focused on developing a low-cost generic plant in bud form,” he says. In other words, he wants specific varieties of marijuana, not derivatives thereof, to be FDA-approved.
Many people expect the Republican-controlled Congress to follow its recent tax overhaul by looking for ways to slash costs in Medicaid and Medicare. Legitimate research into the medicinal properties of marijuana could help. Studies show that opioid use drops significantly in states where marijuana has been legalized; this suggests people are consuming the plant for pain, something they could be doing more effectively if physicians and the FDA controlled chemical makeup and potency. A study published in July 2016 in Health Affairs showed that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative “fell significantly,” saving hundreds of millions of dollars among users of Medicare Part D.
“The marijuana plant in bud form, if we can get it available by the FDA, is going to be incredibly cheap,” Doblin says. His Israeli partners, Better by Cann Pharmaceuticals, can produce organic, high-potency trimmed marijuana for roughly 65¢ a gram, or $18 or so per ounce. “When you’re talking about kicking people off of health insurance and reducing Medicare and Medicaid costs, we better find a way to provide medical relief to people at a low cost,” he says.
Russo agrees. He now lives in Washington state consulting for several biotech startups working on cannabis projects. “Let’s face facts: This is a very technologically advanced nation with a great deal of talent. There is no way, shape, or form that the dangers of cannabis warrant this kind of control,” he says. “There are issues. There are side effects. Anyone who tells you differently is simply inaccurate. However, the kinds of problems related to cannabis administration are totally controllable. And it is a much safer drug than many, if not most, pharmaceuticals that are currently being approved.”
He’d just returned from an industry conference in Medellín, Colombia. “I think that there’s a greater chance of significant clinical cannabis research coming out of Colombia in the coming years than there is in the U.S.,” Russo says. “Why would people allow this loss of business in a situation where, clearly, Americans could be preeminent?”
Among those who’ve advised Craker is Tony Coulson, a former DEA agent who retired in 2010 and works as a consultant for companies developing drugs. Coulson was vehemently antimarijuana until his son, a combat soldier, came home from the Middle East with post-traumatic stress disorder and needed help. “For years I was of the belief that the science doesn’t say that this is medicine,” he says. “But when you get into this curious history, you find the science doesn’t show it primarily because we’re standing in the way. The NIDA monopoly prevents anyone from getting into further studies.”
Coulson blames the Obama administration for not acting sooner, creating a situation in which the decision on granting new growing licenses was passed down to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has publicly declared his belief in the dangers of marijuana. The NIDA monopoly is now his to change. “Sessions has a 1930s Reefer Madness view of the marijuana world,” Coulson says. “It’s not realistic, and it’s not what rank-and-file DEA really are concerned about. DEA folks have moved beyond this.”
“I guess I take a nationalist approach here,” says Rick Kimball, a former investment banker who’s raising money for a marijuana-related private equity fund and is a trustee for marijuana policy at the Brookings Institution. “We have a huge opportunity in the U.S.,” he says, “and we ought to get our act together. I’m worried that we’re ceding this whole market to the Israelis.”
Which doesn’t mean there’s no intellectual property left to grab. Research into the chemical makeup of marijuana is still new, but there are at least 160 cannabinoids and as many as 500 terpenes and flavonoids in the plant, all of which can be separated out, mixed, and matched. CBN is thought to aid sleep. CBG may have anticancer potential. One Israeli researcher has synthesized 22 different versions of THC to treat specific neurological conditions. “There’s reason to believe there’s a cornucopia of medicines in there,” Kimball says—medicines that, in theory, are patentable.
At foreign labs, and even at state-licensed operations in Colorado and Washington, plant scientists are growing genetically modified varieties that optimize for certain properties. The majority of their work is focused on increasing potency for recreational use—getting people high—but these companies are learning how to cultivate and engineer plants using increasingly sophisticated methods.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud ElSohly, director of the Marijuana Project at Ole Miss, is growing limited varieties, outdoors, while trying to keep undergrads from breaching his security. (At one point, students were caught using fly rods to cast over the fence and steal buds.) It took ElSohly three years to get DEA permission to grow a strain high in CBD, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid thought to have many healthful properties. The key ingredient in GW Pharmaceutical’s epilepsy drug, it may have promise as an anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic.
“I am the most restricted person in this country when it comes to production of cannabis and different varieties,” ElSohly says. “In Colorado and Washington or any other state where people don’t have to get any approval from anybody, they just do it. They have the freedom to experiment. I don’t have that freedom. My hands are tied. It’s ridiculous.”
It appears that none of the 25 applications to grow marijuana for purposes of medical research have gone anywhere. (The DEA won’t comment on this or release the names of the applicants.) Craker has yet to get a single call or email about his methods or motivations. No agent has come to inspect his facility or ask questions about security.
He marvels at the power of bureaucratic inertia: “The federal government can be so stubborn. To me they’ve closed their minds.” Craker can’t grow marijuana, but he does lecture about it in his plant medicine classes. “I go through the scenario of what we’ve tried to do,” he says. Ultimately, he says, some of those students may have to do the work he’s been wanting to do for 20 years. “My generation has passed, and we haven’t made it. But it’s going to happen. I just can’t believe it’s going to be forever.”
Senate deal on cannabis bill timeline means no sales before August
Leaders in the Senate have reached a deal on a timeline for the legalization of cannabis — a schedule that pushes the start of retail sales past July 1, the date that has been floated in the past as the government’s target.
Peter Harder, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s point-man in the Senate, and Larry Smith, the Conservative leader in the upper house, have agreed on a path forward for Bill C-45, CBC News has confirmed.
While Harder had wanted a vote at third reading in May — the last legislative stage before a bill receives royal assent — that vote will now be held on or before June 7.
Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told members of the Red Chamber last week that it will take 8 to 12 weeks to get the retail system up and running after the legislation receives royal assent. That means Canadians probably can’t expect to buy legal weed before early August.
“There’s no exact date but, if you do the math, you’ll see it won’t be July 2018,” Petitpas Taylor told reporters Thursday. “Cannabis legalization is not about a date, it’s about a process … We want this process done as seamlessly as possible.”
Tories are ‘quite pleased’ with new timeline
The delayed timeline is a victory for Conservatives, who have demanded more time to study the implications of legalizing a drug that has been outlawed for more than 100 years. A senior Conservative source, speaking on background to CBC News, said they were “quite pleased” they secured more time from the government through these negotiations.
“The table has been set for what we’ve asked for all along — a thorough examination of the bill,” the source said. “There’s lots in the legislation that is of concern to us.”
The Conservative source said a “handful” of amendments to the bill are expected in the intervening months.
“It’s not a matter of what’s being done. It’s a matter of how it’s being done.”
- Tory senators not inclined to rush debate on bill to legalize cannabis
- Research lacking on medical marijuana, new prescription guideline suggests
Conservative senators are worried the legislation will endanger youth, increase smoking rates, complicate the work of police officers, lead to a backlog of court cases for possession offences and do little to curb black market sales of the drug.
Defenders of the bill — including its sponsor in the Senate, Independent Ontario Sen. Tony Dean — say the government does not have the luxury of time. They say illegal cannabis use — a $7 billion industry that funnels funds into the hands of organized crime, according to government figures — will continue unabated without the benefit of federal regulations.
This week, Harder floated the idea of invoking time allocation to shut down debate and force a vote if Conservatives stalled the bill’s passage beyond a reasonable date. That option is off the table now that all sides have agreed to this timeline.
“This should give stakeholders, governments, businesses, law enforcement agencies and other Canadians a timeline for how and when the bill will be ultimately dealt with by the Upper Chamber,” Harder said in a statement Thursday.
The legislation will be sent to five different Senate committees for further study — an unusual move.
The Red Chamber’s social affairs committee will take the lead and review the legalization framework in its entirety, while the Aboriginal peoples committee will look at how the bill affects Indigenous peoples. The legal and constitutional affairs committee will focus on criminal measures; much of the bill deals with changes to the Criminal Code.
The Senate agreed Thursday to send parts of the bill to the national security and defence committee to review the bill’s implications for the country’s police, and to the foreign affairs committee to review how the bill will affect Canada’s international obligations, including changes required at the border after cannabis becomes legal.
A Gram a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.
73.7% of people successfully replace or reduce intake of pharmaceuticals with medical marijuana
In a recent report by Doctor Francis D’Ambrosio, medical marijuana patients most successfully replaced medication with marijuana for a variety of different conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Medical marijuana is utilized by a wide variety of patients, and 40 different conditions were named. With prescription opioid abuse costing US citizens an estimated $78.5 billion per year, could medical marijuana be the answer not only for patients’ health but for the economy?
The report surveys patients from the Francis D’Ambrosio medical practice, where we find out more about what conditions patients use cannabis for, their preferred ingestion methods, the feeling they seek when using cannabis, and if they have used cannabis to replace or reduce their intake of any other prescription medications. In total 4,276 people were surveyed who live in and around California.
You can read the full report here.The key findings from the report are summarized below.
- Cannabis is most often used to replace/act as an adjunct to opioids and antidepressants.
- Men and women use cannabis in almost equal amounts – 53.7% vs. 46.3%
- For those who answered the question, women tended to prefer using CBD-heavy products & strains and edibles.
- Most people get their cannabis from a dispensary
- Delivery was the next most common access point for cannabis,
- followed by “Friend”. Home growing is not common.
- Blue Dream and OG Kush were definitely the most popular strains.
- Girl Scout Cookies, Grand Daddy Purple (GDP), Gorilla Glue #4, Jack Herer and Sour Diesel were also very popular.
- Most medical marijuana users tend to be in their 30s. For CBD, however, the median and mean age is 41.8 and 44.0 years-old respectively.
- Most patients use less than 3 grams a day.
- Most patients use cannabis daily.
- Smoking cannabis was by far the preferred method of ingestion – 41.7% chose this method. Edibles and vaping were the next most common, with 28.0% and 27.9% of users preferring this method
- Many people appear to use cannabis in order to relieve pain and anxiety, as well as to relax and get to sleep.
- Indicas are used more frequently across the board and are used to relieve pain, anxiety, depression, relax the muscles and so on.
About Doctor Frank:
Dr Frank D’Ambrosio is one of the US’ leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform. Through his medical practice, he aims to empower and educate people on the benefits of the substance for countless ailments.
Five years ago, Dr Frank became fascinated with the science of cannabis and it’s success in relieving medical conditions such as depression and head trauma. He began to explore the possibilities of marijuana as medicine. After 30 years of treating and operating on patients, many of whom would never find relief from their chronic pain, Dr Frank decided to dedicate his practice to helping patients through medical cannabis. His practice now counsels patients all over the country, daily, on the use of marijuana to manage pain.
Dr Frank has been featured in The Independent, LA Weekly, Civilized Magazine and Cannabis Culture amongst other media titles.
Stay connected at:
Doctor Francis D’Ambrosio said “Cannabis/marijuana is one of the most misunderstood and underutilized medications. Even though cannabis has been used for over 15,000 years by a wide variety of different cultures it’s not been given its due in the world of medicine.”
Granny Storm Crow Lists Updated
Updated Lists Go here – Granny Storm Crow Lists
Legalization will be delayed … August?
Read more go to – IN THE NEWS
House passes pot legalization bill — but Senate could be a ‘wild card’
Medical marijuana has NO public health risks and should not be withheld from patients, WHO declares after months of deliberation
- The WHO has declared medical marijuana is beneficial for cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases
- The organization found the drug is not addictive and holds no public health risks
The World Health Organization has declared that CBD – the relaxant property of cannabis used in medical marijuana – should not be a scheduled drug.
As legalization of cannabis has spread rapidly across the United States and around the world, health officials have cautioned that we do not have enough research to rule out any down sides.
But today, after months of deliberation and investigation, the WHO has concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) is a useful treatment for epilepsy and palliative care, and does not carry any addiction risks.
While the organization is set to run a fuller review of cannabis next year, assessing all cannabis-related substances, physicians and the cannabis industry have been poised awaiting this decision to deny scheduling for months.
Had the WHO chosen to schedule the drug, it could have hamstrung physicians from prescribing medical marijuana globally.
The report, published today, also recommended imposing the strong restrictions available on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which has killed thousands of people in America’s drug addiction epidemic.
‘There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care,’ the report said.
‘Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components.’
In conclusion, the authors wrote: ‘Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions.’
They added that ‘current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol’, and declared that taking medical marijuana will not lead to addiction to THC, the psychoactive property of cannabis that induces a ‘high’.
Speaking to Daily Mail Online, Raul Elizalde, the Mexican father who became an unlikely face for cannabis as he fought to get his epileptic daughter treatment, said he was overcome with emotion.
He is responsible for driving the Mexican government to legalize medical marijuana so his first-born daughter Grace, who once suffered hundreds of seizures a day, could access CBD. Now, she suffers a few seizures a day.
‘I’m ecstatic that these international health leaders agree that CBD is a substance that should not be scheduled and has therapeutic value for a variety of medical conditions,’ Elizalde, founder and president of HempMeds Mexico, told Daily Mail Online on Wednesday.
‘We look forward to continuing our conversation about its many benefits in 2018.’
Speaking last month about his family’s experience venturing into the world of medical marijuana, Elizalde admitted he had never considered the medical benefits of a drug which has caused mayhem and agony in his country.
But after medications and surgeries proved futile for Grace, he and his wife, from Monterrey, a conservative and traditional region in the north of Mexico, decided to try CBS.
‘It has changed our life,’ Elizalde told Daily Mail Online.
‘I never thought I would be doing this, that cannabis would be part of our life. But Grace changed everything. Now I know that just taking CBD is like taking a health supplement. It is not a replacement for her treatment, but it has changed her life.’
Story from Daily Mail UK Click here – Daily Mail UK
Cannabis could prevent mental decline in up to 50% of HIV sufferers, study finds
- Marijuana reduces the inflammatory white blood cell count in HIV patients
- Up to 50% of patients are at risk of mental decline due to ongoing inflammation
- The drug makes sufferers have inflammatory cell levels close to a healthy person
- More than 1.1 million people in the US have HIV but one in seven are unaware of it
- Some 29 states legalize marijuana for medical use and seven recreationally
Cannabis could prevent mental decline in up to 50 percent of HIV sufferers, new research reveals.
Patients who use marijuana have fewer inflammatory white blood cells, which are involved in the immune system, a study found.
This could save infected people from mental decline, which affects up to 50 percent of sufferers due to ongoing inflammation in the brain as a result of the immune system constantly fighting the virus.
Lead author Professor Norbert Kaminski from Michigan State University, said: ‘Those who used marijuana had [inflammatory cell] levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV.
Study author Mike Rizzo added: ‘This decrease of cells could slow down, or maybe even stop, the inflammatory process, potentially helping patients maintain their cognitive function longer.’
More than 1.1 million people are infected with HIV in the US, of which one in seven are unaware they carry the virus.
Some 29 states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical use, of which seven also allow the drug to be taken recreationally.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analyzed blood samples from 40 HIV patients, some of which were cannabis users.
They isolated inflammatory white blood cells, which are involved in the immune system, from the blood samples.
The researchers then assessed the effect of a chemical in marijuana, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives the drug its hallucinogenic effect, on the aforementioned cells.
‘Those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person’
Results reveal HIV patients who use cannabis have fewer inflammatory white blood cells, which could slow the mental decline that affects up to 50 percent of patients.
Professor Kaminski said: ‘The patients who didn’t smoke marijuana had a very high level of inflammatory cells compared to those who did use.
‘In fact, those who used marijuana had levels pretty close to a healthy person not infected with HIV.
Mr Rizzo added: ‘This decrease of cells could slow down, or maybe even stop, the inflammatory process, potentially helping patients maintain their cognitive function longer.’
The researchers believe their findings could also help to treat other conditions related to inflammation in the brain such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
The findings were published in the journal AIDS.
Liberals reach deal with the provinces on sharing pot tax revenue, with price pegged at about $10 a gram
Agreement gives provinces 75% of tax revenues from legal cannabis sales, caps federal share at $100M
By Kathleen Harris, David Cochrane, CBC News
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has worked out a deal on sharing pot tax revenues, and says marijuana will be competitively priced at about $10 a gram to shut down the black market.
An agreement announced Monday gives the provinces and territories 75 cents of every dollar collected in excise tax levied on cannabis for the first two years. That’s a significant increase from the 50-50 split the federal government had proposed last month.
Liberals reach deal with provinces on sharing pot tax revenue
Under the deal reached during a meeting in Ottawa with Morneau and his provincial and territorial counterparts, the federal portion of tax revenues will be capped at $100 million a year. That figure is based on a projected $400 million a year in total tax revenue, with any dollars collected above and beyond that shared by the provinces.
“After two years, it’s time to rethink the approach to make sure we’re getting it right,” Morneau said.
Finance ministers agreed on a plan to keep the price low to drive out the illegal black market and move to a legal, regulated one. With one dollar, or 10 per cent taxation per gram, the expectation is that legal marijuana will be priced at about $10 a gram with all taxes included.
- How the provinces are planning for pot legalization
- Legal pot could see justice costs climb, not drop, Notley says
Startup costs for implementing the regulated regime will be shared by all levels of government for public health and safety, and Morneau projects that the federal government will spend at least $700 million a year to try to get the legal program off to a strong start.
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said there is already a large demand for illicit cannabis, and he expects the legal market will grow “substantively” after the first few years. But the primary focus right now is not on generating revenue, but on recovering costs for the required upfront investments to set up distribution networks and public health and safety measures.
“We want to take the appropriate measures now to combat the illicit market, get it out of the system, then go forward to see how we can deal with revenue,” he said.
Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão said his province will likely take in about $60 million in tax revenue annually, but that will not cover the expected costs of implementing the program.
‘Getting the balance right’
Heading into the meeting with Morneau in Ottawa, provincial ministers had insisted on a greater portion of tax revenues because the provinces and municipalities will shoulder the majority of costs for police enforcement, health care and education programs once marijuana becomes legal in July.
Asked about the deal this afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated that the objective is to restrict access to young people and to remove profits from criminals.
“That means getting the balance right in terms of both pricing and the ability to properly monitor it in our communities,” he said.
Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said the provinces are assuming the bulk of costs, risks and responsibilities, from roadside testing and police training to dealing with mental health issues.
“We’ve never seen this through the lens of revenue generation. For Manitoba, the focus has always been on safety,” he said. “This is a federal policy on a federal time line.”
‘A lot of work ahead before July 1, but this formula is a good start’
Morneau said the finance ministers also made strides in other areas, including a commitment to ensuring authorities know who owns which corporations in Canada and to harmonize corporate record requirements between jurisdictions, and to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan for parents who lose income due to the birth or adoption of a child, and those with disabilities or spouses who are widowed at a young age.
CBC Full Story Click Here – $10 a Gram
Canada Just Passed The Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Canada made history last night after passing a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, which puts Canada on track to become the first G7 country to repeal cannabis prohibition. The bill — which was introduced last April by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government — passed by more than a two-to-one margin as 200 members of parliament voted in favor of the legislation while only 82 opposed it.
Supporters included Trudeau’s Liberals as well as the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party.
Canadians won’t be able to celebrate by lighting up just yet though. The bill won’t come into law until the Senate has signed off on it. And if you’re getting impatient with the process, you’re not the only one. Prime Minister Trudeau’s point-man on pot has told the upper chamber not to drag their feet on the legislation.
“The Senate will bring its sober reflection to this bill and I think it’s really important to help us get this right,” Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair told CTV earlier this month. “But we also expect to work as diligently as everyone else in the country has and in recognition that delay is unacceptable.”
That’s because the status quo is bad for public health, Blair explained. While campaigning for legalization during the 2015 election, Trudeau repeatedly stressed that prohibition had failed to eliminate the black market for marijuana and to keep cannabis away from kids. The prime minister echoed those remarks again yesterday after the bill was passed.
We’re one step closer to legalizing & regulating marijuana. #BillC45 means less money for organized crime and harder access for our kids. Tonight, it passed third reading in the House and it’s now headed to the Senate.
His government hopes to accomplish both of those goals through legalization, which will take effect by July 2018 if the Senate is onboard.
The Cannabis Act
In its current form, Bill C-45 (‘The Cannabis Act’) would repeal prohibition for adults, setting the minimum age to buy marijuana at 18, but each province and territory will get the final say over the legal age in their jurisdiction. The bill allows individuals to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana at a time. And they can grow up to four plants in their dwelling (as long as the province okays home growing).
The provinces and territories will also determine where and how dried marijuana and cannabis oil is sold in their jurisdictions. Selling cannabis edibles like brownies and cookies isn’t part of the current bill, but it is expected to be brought into the legalization framework within a year of repealing prohibition. Each region will also get to decide their own tax scheme, although the federal government plans to impose an excise tax of $1 per gram of cannabis on sales up to $10, and a 10 percent tax on sales over $10.
Bill C-45 also contains numerous penalties aimed at eliminating the black market for marijuana. Selling marijuana without a license, exceeding the possession limits, advertising cannabis and buying illicit cannabis products are all violations of the law that come with punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment. And any crime involving a minor is subject to some of the harshest punishment. Adults caught selling marijuana to minors face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
For more on the bill, click here.
Bill C-45 makes Canada the second country to legalize recreational marijuana (after Uruguay). Although the law isn’t expected to go into effect until July 2018, most provinces have already released draft regulations for what their regulations and retail markets will look like. Here’s a breakdown from coast to coast.
British Columbia: B.C. hasn’t announced its regulations yet, but it’s expected that they adopt a hybrid model that allows private cannabis retailers to operate alongside a crown corporation, which is the same way the province handles alcohol sales.
Alberta: Alberta plans to sell recreational marijuana at privately operated stores that will be overseen by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. The province will control online sales through a government website. The legal age will be set at 18 — the minimum age for purchasing alcohol in the province.
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan is expected to release their regulations sometime during the winter of 2018.
Manitoba: Manitoba will also sell recreational marijuana at privately owned stores overseen by the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corp. The province hasn’t decided on a legal age yet.
Ontario: Canada’s most populated province plans to open 40, provincially-operated cannabis stores next year, which will grow to 150 crown outlets by 2020. They have no plans to allow private retailers. The legal age will be set at 19, which is the same minimum to buy alcohol in Ontario.
Quebec: Le belle province plans to sell recreational marijuana at the Société Québécoise de Cannabis (SQC), a provincially-owned corporation that will be overseen by Quebec’s liquor control board (the SAQ). The legal age will be set at 18, which is the same minimum to buy alcohol in the province. And unlike other regions, Quebec plans to prohibit home cultivation.
New Brunswick: New Brunswick plans to sell recreational marijuana in provincially owned retailers overseen by NB Liquor. The legal age will be set at 19, which is the same minimum to buy alcohol in New Brunswick. The province will allow residents to grow marijuana at home, but the government’s proposed bill would require them to keep their plants and the rest of their stash locked up in a container or a room — much like with firearms.
Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia plans to release their regulations by the end of 2017.
Prince Edward Island: PEI plans to review input from the public and local stakeholders while developing regulations over the winter of 2018.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Canada’s easternmost province plans to license private retailers that will be regulated by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). People living in remote regions of the province will also be able to purchase recreational marijuana online or at select NLC locations. The legal age will be 19, which is the same minimum to buy alcohol.
Yukon: The Yukon plans to have at least one, provincially run cannabis store open for business by July 1, 2018. But most Yukoners will likely have to order their cannabis online. The territory’s government plans to oversee the importation, warehousing and transportation of marijuana, but they are considering allowing private retailers to distribute it alongside a crown corporation. The legal age will be set at 19, which is the same minimum age to purchase alcohol.
Northwest Territories: The Northwest Territories plans to let individual communities decide whether to uphold or repeal marijuana prohibition through public plebiscites, which are also used to determine whether or not to allow alcohol in their jurisdictions. Retail sales will be handled by the NWT Liquor Commission, which will stock marijuana alongside liquor at outlets while offering an online mail-order service for remote regions. The legal age will be 19, which is the same minimum for purchasing alcohol in the territory.
Kirk Tousaw’s statement on Ontario’s cannabis monopoly scheme
by Sep 22, 2017on
As you know, the Ontario government recently released its plans for retail cannabis distribution in the province. In effect, that plan sets up a government monopoly on all retail sales. Ontario intends to open 150 cannabis stores throughout the province and to implement an in-province mail order system separate and apart from the existing LP direct-to-consumer mail order system that is currently in place.
The choice of a government monopoly largely though not completely (alcohol can and is sold by private stores in the province) mirrors Ontario’s approach to alcohol. It is also decidedly unlike virtually all other jurisdictions that has legalized cannabis for adult recreational consumption.
In addition, the Ontario government threatened to crack down on those operating outside its monopolistic system. It is unclear whether this crackdown will come by way of law-enforcement utilizing the CDSA or the criminal law power retained in the upcoming Cannabis Act to raid, arrest, and prosecute those operating, for example, private cannabis dispensaries.
Another tool at the Province’s disposal is the use of the civil courts, and the city of Toronto and Hamilton are already attempting to use the court system to shut down dispensaries. Tousaw Law Corporation is actively defending cases in both jurisdictions on Charter grounds as well as arguing that doing so is outside the jurisdiction of the municipal governments. We have had one success and were able, in Hamilton, to rebuff the city government’s attempt to obtain an interlocutory injunction (an injunction granted prior to the end of a trial) against a medical cannabis dispensary.
I believe that Ontario’s plan is misguided and doomed to fail for a variety of reasons. This memorandum attempts to illustrate some of the problems with a monopoly approach in the context of an existing and vibrant cannabis industry coupled with existing lawful supply chains by licensed producers who sell currently via mail order direct to medical consumers in Ontario.
First, it is decidedly unlikely that there will be sufficient supply in the lawful production system to meet consumer demand when legalization is implemented. Even if every licensed producer in the country, including those licensed between now and July 1, 2018, were to devote its entire production capacity to servicing only the government of Ontario, there would still be insufficient amounts of cannabis on the shelves. Several of the larger licensed producers have already indicated that they will prioritize their existing medical consumers over the recreational market. Two of the largest (Canopy Growth and Organigram) have signed Memorandums of Understanding promising to supply New Brunswick with cannabis post-legalization. This dramatically limits the possible supply available to Ontario residents.
Related to these chronic supply shortages is a simple economic reality. It is clear that Ontario seeks to cash in on the upcoming recreational cannabis market. This is likely because Ontario has one of the largest sub-sovereign government debts in the entire world. Putting aside questions about how that debt was accrued and whether the Ontario government is even capable of running a recreational cannabis industry profitably, if it does seek to increase its revenue, it will of necessity use its purchasing power to attempt to obtain cannabis at significantly lower prices than retail. It will then tax and markup that product before sale to the consumer.
There appears to be no real financial incentive for existing licensed producers to sell cannabis to the Ontario government at wholesale pricing when they currently have enough customers in the medical side to sell every gram produced at a retail price point. Furthermore, the federal government has signaled that in provinces that do not implement their own retail distribution systems, the licensed producers will be permitted to sell direct-to-consumer via mail order as they have been doing for medical patients. Again, there appears to be little economic incentive for licensed producers to sell at wholesale pricing to the Ontario government when they are at capacity meeting the demand at retail pricing to their mail order clientele.
Another significant issue is the potential that residents of Ontario will be faced with higher price points for the purchase of cannabis in Ontario’s monopoly stores than they would if they were medical patients obtaining from licensed producers directly. This could lead to a situation, such as that alleged to be occurring in California and elsewhere, in which there is widespread participation in the medical system by persons who are not necessarily consuming cannabis for medical purposes. If insurance begins to cover medical cannabis this problem will be exacerbated. An individual consumer able to find a supportive physician might be able to access cannabis at significantly reduced cost via mail order instead of purchasing from Ontario’s stores.
Another significant problem with the Ontario model is it simply does not contemplate enough stores. At the height of the dispensary boom in Toronto there were in excess of 100 dispensaries operating and they had lines out the door. That was just one city. Granted, the largest city in Canada, but that demand is not going to decrease after legalization. If anything, it will increase. The idea that 150 stores are sufficient in a province as vast and populous as Ontario is absolutely ludicrous. By comparison, there are 650 LCBO operated alcohol stores in the province of Ontario.
Ontario may respond to the criticism of not enough physical storefronts by pointing to its mail order system. However, there are currently dozens if not a hundred or more online dispensaries operating in Canada. There are 50 licensed producers selling via mail order direct-to-consumer today. With this range of choices available to the consumer, there appears to be no reason why any consumer would purchase from the Ontario mail order system, particularly when that system is likely to be charging the highest prices.
Of course, because the Cannabis Act currently does not include edibles or other derivative cannabis products, the Ontario system will also not include those products. While this is a flaw of the federal government’s program, the ripple effect will undoubtedly impact Ontario’s intended market. Again, with so many other options available to consumers, it is fundamentally unclear why anyone would prefer to purchase at a CCBO with a limited range of products at higher prices than what one can obtain in the gray or black market.
Furthermore, because the province plans to ban advertising and require plain packaging, the consumer will not be exposed to the range of products available from the government stores. The purchasing experience will be boring. Product knowledge will be limited and any CCBO employees with cannabis sales experience will need to disclose participating in the unlawful industry, because that is currently the only way to obtain storefront cannabis sales experience. The cannabis industry is vibrant, colorful and exciting now. Ontario’s plan to make it boring and generic can only backfire as consumers seek out interesting and fun experiences rather than plain packaging and industrial stores.
In terms of enforcing its monopoly, given the massive failure of repeated police raids and special project files in the city of Toronto to put an end to the illegal dispensary industry there (and similar failures elsewhere), it is significantly unlikely that anything that occurs post-Cannabis Act will eliminate that existing consumer pathway. To enforce its monopoly, then, the province will need to engage in police state tactics that are incredibly draconian and destroy lives and infringe the liberty of the citizens of the province.
Any dispensaries which continue to exist in Ontario once the Wynne government’s plan comes into force will likely only have a viable defense to CDSA or Cannabis Act criminal charges on medical and compassionate grounds. At present and after the Ontario plan comes into force there is still a powerful argument to be made on behalf of storefront medical cannabis dispensaries. If the ACMPRs are ruled unconstitutional insofar as they have failed to implement Justice Phelan’s (of the Allard case) vision of ‘reasonable access’ then it may be possible to force government to license and regulate private storefront medical cannabis dispensaries. To be able to best make out medical cannabis arguments if necessary to do so, dispensaries should take steps to have policies in place to demonstrate restriction of clientele to medical consumers. One way to do so is, for example, to improve compliance with the medical cannabis guidelines set forth by the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, though that is not the only method.
The Ontario plan has drawn significant criticism from pundits, industry leaders, some Ontario municipal leaders and Ontario’s other political parties. Ontario is conducting provincial elections on or before June 7, 2018. I urge interested persons, particularly those operating dispensaries in the province, to increase political advocacy and organizing efforts. Encourage your clientele to become or increase their political participation.
Critical to this effort are (a) joining local riding associations; (b) voter registration drives; (c) attending all-candidates meetings; (d) voter turnout efforts on election day.
In addition to political advocacy, Tousaw Law Corporation, spearheaded by our Ontario primary counsel Jack Lloyd, will be exploring all possible legal avenues. We have filed intervention pleadings in a case called R v Comeau, currently pending in the Supreme Court of Canada. That case involves a challenge to interprovincial trade barriers in the alcohol industry and is the first major challenge to these trade barriers in almost 100 years. While the effect of Comeau may not directly impact Ontario’s plan, if neighboring provinces enact working recreational retail systems, Ontario may feel market pressure to liberalize its current approach. Other legal challenges may exist, and we are exploring various options should it become necessary to litigate these issues in the criminal or civil courts of Ontario.
Mysterious symptoms and medical marijuana: Patients are looking for answers
Globe and Mail – August 19th, 2017 – Grant Robertson
Scott Wood had been losing weight for weeks, and it was starting to scare him. His skin developed strange blistering rashes, his muscles ached constantly, and his lungs burned. He couldn’t stop coughing, and he was spitting up gobs of thick, clear mucous that looked like Vaseline.
But the worst day came in October when Mr. Wood, 53, a family man and military veteran, collapsed at the grocery store. “I walked about five feet, and I couldn’t get a breath,” he said. “I was down on my hands and knees in the parking lot.”
He ended up in the emergency room that week – the first of seven trips to the ER over a span of six months – but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It was only later that he began to suspect what was really going on.
Mr. Wood, a former military police officer, had been consuming medical marijuana that, unbeknownst to him, was contaminated with several dangerous pesticides banned by Health Canada.
A doctor had prescribed the marijuana from a federally regulated drug company in September to treat a serious back injury Mr. Wood suffered while serving. At first, it was a godsend, allowing him to stop taking opioid painkillers and get on with his life.
Then, suddenly, in a matter of weeks, “my health went sideways,” he said.
He stopped taking the marijuana soon after the mysterious symptoms began. It wasn’t for another few months that the company supplying his prescription, Organigram Inc., revealed a problem: nearly all of its products from the previous year were unfit for consumption, and were being recalled due to chemical contamination.
The company, one of about 50 federally licensed medical marijuana producers in Canada, had been caught selling products tainted with two banned pesticides: myclobutanil, a chemical used to kill mildew, and bifenazate, an insecticide prohibited for use on certain types of plants, including cannabis.
The recall has impacted thousands of people, and raised questions about oversight and quality control inside Canada’s new federally regulated medical marijuana sector – particularly as the government prepares to legalize the drug for recreational use next year, creating a multibillion-dollar industry. It is one of the most sweeping new policy decisions the federal government has undertaken in years, ending nearly a century of prohibition on cannabis.
In a bid to minimize concerns about the recall, Organigram told its customers there was nothing to be concerned with: the risk of adverse health consequences, it said, was “remote.” The company, which grows the product at an indoor facility in Moncton, N.B., said it had no idea how banned pesticides got into its products.
But to Mr. Wood and others who had become seriously ill, something was wrong.
“When I heard that response, I thought, ‘Come on – you have almost a year’s worth of marijuana, and you don’t know?’ As a former police officer and investigator, when you give an answer like that, it doesn’t sound very credible. Especially when you’re in a business that is dealing with people’s health,” Mr. Wood said.
“Basically, my thoughts were, okay, let’s see if that’s true or not.”
So Mr. Wood gathered his remaining prescriptions, and those of a military colleague whose health had also taken a turn for the worse. Instead of returning them in the recall, he reached out to The Globe and Mail, which arranged for the prescriptions to be tested at a federally licensed laboratory that is among the most experienced facilities in the country at screening for pesticides.
The results of the tests shocked him. Mr. Wood’s prescriptions not only contained the two banned pesticides that triggered Organigram’s original recall eight months ago, the samples also contained three additional pesticides that are outlawed by Health Canada for safety reasons.
In addition to the myclobutanil and bifenazate that were previously known, Mr. Wood’s samples contained significant amounts of imazalil, tebuconazole, and a carbamate pesticide.
Imazalil is used to eradicate root rot, and is not to be inhaled. Tebuconazole attacks fungi outbreaks, but can damage the endocrine system in humans. Carbamate pesticides kill bugs by targeting and disrupting their nervous systems.
But the number of banned pesticides found in the product wasn’t the only problem.
In one of Mr. Wood’s samples, the level of bifenezate detected was nearly double the amount Organigram claimed was present in the recall – back when the company told patients there was nothing to worry about.
The results have called into question the inner workings of Canada’s booming marijuana sector since Health Canada began doling out highly coveted production licences four years ago, while reassuring consumers that companies in the lucrative new industry would not be allowed to put profits ahead of safety.
The tests have also ignited a bitter war of words between Mr. Wood and the company, which disputes his findings.
Organigram sent product samples from its own archives to be screened at a lab of its choosing, and said those tests showed no signs of any additional pesticides.
Not satisfied with that response, though, and growing increasingly concerned about the problem of illicit pesticide use inside a supposedly quality-controlled industry, Health Canada conducted an unannounced inspection of Organigram’s facility, and gathered archive samples of its own to have screened.
Those tests, completed in August, also did not find the additional pesticides contained in Mr. Wood’s samples, raising questions about the discrepancy between the results.
The company believes the new allegations are false. Mr. Wood believes customers aren’t being told the truth about what they were exposed to – that the archive samples kept in storage at Organigram have been whitewashed, and don’t match up with what people like him actually consumed.
Through social media, Mr. Wood has assembled a database of hundreds of people across Canada who are all reporting the same mysterious health problems: searing abdominal pains, fatigue, blistering rashes, painful aching muscles, lung problems, constant nausea, and – curiously – coughing up a strange clear, thick, mucous.
“You’ve got all these people, they don’t know each other, they all have the same symptoms,” Mr. Wood said. And while there has been no determination, “Something’s not right. Somebody needs to look into this.”
Organized crime’s interest in the illegal pot business is going up in smoke
There wasn’t much need to smuggle pot into the country when Canadian cannabis connoisseurs liked the homegrown stuff better, experts say.
Once a relatively safe, profitable business for outlaw bikers and mobsters, organized crime is moving away from the marijuana market because legalization and home-grown pot are making any gain not worth the risk, experts say.
The market share in the pot business for organized criminals has already slid as pot-loving “disorganized criminals” perfected their horticultural skills. There wasn’t much need to smuggle pot into the country when Canadian cannabis connoisseurs liked the homegrown stuff better, experts say.
The days when Hells Angels and mobsters enjoyed a strong hand in Canada’s marijuana trade will be just a hazy memory by the time pot is to be legalized next year, according to some experts.
“A pretty small part of the marijuana industry today is what I call organized crime,” said criminologist Neil Boyd of Simon Fraser University — a change from a few decades ago, when big-league criminals thrived in the pot trade.
That’s a major shift from the mid-2000s, when outlaw bikers worked with traditional Mafia groups to move into exporting Canadian marijuana, according to Kash Heed, former B.C. solicitor general, minister of public safety and West Vancouver Police chief. Most of that product was exported to the U.S., Heed said.
Rick Ciarniello, a Canadian spokesperson for the Hells Angels, politely brushed off questions about whether the world’s largest outlaw motorcycle club has a position on legalized marijuana.
“Some are prone to believe all the police hype and propaganda,” Ciarniello said. “If that is to be believed, the Hells Angels must have such a position. The fact is; the hype and propaganda is wrong. As such, the short answer is no.”
The efforts of organized crime to control the pot trade have been undermined for the past three decades by “disorganized crime,” according to Alan Young, an associate professor at the Osgoode Hall law school. Many of these are green-thumbed potheads growing marijuana for friends.
Others are in it for the money but don’t resort to traditional organized crime hallmarks of corruption, collusion and violence, Boyd says: “They’re really just business people.”
Legalization of marijuana in some American states has cut the demand to smuggle it south. In Colorado and Washington State, where marijuana was recently legalized, pot prices have dropped almost 50 per cent over the past year, Boyd says, and lower prices mean less incentive to break the law.
“I suspect there’s not going to be much money in cannabis at all,” Boyd said. “I think things are changing.
“I think they (organized criminals) already have been withdrawing from the market.”
A veteran says organized crime is entering a period of readjustment — and potential new opportunities — regarding marijuana in Canada. “They’re all trying to get into the legal side of it,” says the officer. “They have so much money they can manipulate the stock. Any criminal wants to legitimize his business.”
Small-scale cultivation of pot would likely be allowed, much like it’s now legal to make limited amounts of beer or wine for personal use. Amateur enthusiasts should be allowed to grow four plants per household, according to the Final Report of The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation.
Former Toronto police Chief Bill Blair is the Liberal’s point man in shaping marijuana legislation. He declined to be interviewed for this article.
In Toronto, police will continue to crack down on illegal marijuana dispensaries until the law is changed, spokesperson Mark Pugash said, adding that marijuana at some pop-ups has been found to contain pesticides, mould, rat feces and insecticide.
Experts agree it will be a mistake for the government to overtax pot and drive the price up, as this will create an opening for criminals.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly supports the push to regulate illegal pot pop-ups. In a meeting with the Star’s editorial board in December, Trudeau said: “We haven’t legalized it yet. Yes, we got a clear mandate to do that. We’ve said we will. We’ve said we’re going to do it to protect our kids and to keep the money out of the pockets of criminals.”
Toronto Star July 22, 2017
From Canadian MAP INC
LEGAL AGE FOR POT USE LIKELY TO BE SET AT 19
EDMONTON – Ontario is on track to set the legal age for recreational marijuana use at 19, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
Wynne told the Star the age of majority should be the same for pot as it is for booze once the federal government legalizes cannabis next July 1.
“I have a hard time imagining Ontario will have a lower age for pot than we do for alcohol,” she said in an interview at the close of the annual premiers’ conference here.
The legal age for drinking beer, wine and spirits has been set at 19 in Ontario since 1978.
It’s impractical for the province to have a higher legal age for consuming cannabis than for alcohol, the premier added.
“I think that would be a challenge,” Wynne said, as a smoky haze from British Columbia forest fires blanketed Alberta’s capital. Her comments came as Ontario holds online consultations at Ontario.ca/cannabis, where citizens can fill out a survey until July 31, and through public hearings as the province develops its strategy.
As other provinces have, Ontario must decide where cannabis will be sold and where it can be used; set an age of majority and protect both road safety and public health.
The online survey asks participants a number of questions: if they support 19 as the age of majority for marijuana; if landlords and condo boards should be able to restrict pot smoking on their premises; whether cannabis should be sold through government or private retailers or a mixture of both, and whether stronger penalties are needed for drug-impaired driving.
Wynne said she is keeping a close eye on what standards Quebec will set, given that the two provinces share a boundary easily crossed by thousands of people every day, particularly in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
“It must be the case,” Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said at the premiers’ conference, when asked if Ontario and his province should establish the same age of majority for cannabis.
Couillard quipped “imagine the traffic” imagining the circumstances if the ages were different, in light of the fact that several bridges connect the nation’s capital to Quebec across the Ottawa River.
Quebec’s legal drinking age is now set at 18, a year lower than Ontario’s and that of most other provinces. Alberta and Manitoba have also set 18 as their age of majority for alcohol.
A federal task force last year recommended 18 as the minimum legal age for recreational cannabis product and said Ontario and other provinces may want to set the age to 19 to match its age of majority for alcohol.
The Canadian Medical Association called for a minimum age of 21 for legal consumption of marijuana, saying its use at younger ages can damage teenagers’ brains.
CBC News May 26, 2016
Toronto police raid pot shops suspected of trafficking
CTV News May 25, 2016
Police Crack down on marijuana dispensaries across the GTA
Huffington Post article: Quito Maggi
Why did the chicken cross the road? goes the old joke, with the obvious answer being, to get to the other side. Sadly, not all of lifes questions have such simple and obvious answers.
We recently learned that the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, sent a letter to the Licensing and Standards department asking them to study and make recommendations on regulating medicinal cannabis dispensaries in Toronto. This came just a day after Mayor Tory visited a dispensary himself to get a first hand look at the operation.
So, why did the mayor visit and ask city officials to study this, and then immediately begin issuing warning letters from Licensing and Toronto Police ahead of any report all ahead of even letting the standards committee to weigh in on the issue? I wish the answer were simple.
We learned yesterday that Cannabis Canada, the trade association that represents Canadas Licensed Producers of medical marijuana, has been lobbying the city quite extensively. But these efforts have been ongoing now for some time why the urgency to crack down now? Again, the answer is not as simple as wed like it to be.
Cannabis Canada has been providing any media outlet who asks with the following facts:
The legal pot industry got its start in 2014, when Ottawa introduced legislation requiring medical marijuana patients had to buy their product from licensed producers. There are currently 31 companies with licenses, 18 of which are in Ontario.
The truth is that the legal pot industry started long before 2014. It started in 2001when Health Canada instituted the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) which was replaced by the current Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) regulations. MMAR licenses are still legally recognized as valid due to ongoing litigation, most recently the Allard decision.
The Allard Decision
On Feb. 24, 2016, Justice Phelan of the Supreme Court of Canada in B.C released his decision on the Charter challenge commonly referred to as The Allard Decision. Justice Phelan concluded as follows:
The Plaintiffs liberty and security interest are engaged by the access restrictions imposed by the MMPR and that the access restrictions have not been proven to be in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
About dispensaries, the Court says the following;
Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties submissions, I find Ms. Shaws evidence to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access.
Justice Phelan in his ruling gave Health Canada and the Government of Canada six months to replace MMPR regulations or amend existing MMPR regulations to fall in line with his findings. On March 24 2016, the health minister announced that the government would NOT appeal the decision.
So, here we stand with current regulation being deemed unconstitutional, with new regulations expected to be unveiled by Aug. 24, 2016 and the Mayor of Toronto is asking staff and Toronto Police to enforce an unjust law. The law, the regulations for medicinal marijuana, are still in force until such time as the new regulations are in place, mind you they are legally defensible, just not morally so.
The law is fluid, and what is legal one day may be illegal the next or vice versa. What does not change is right and wrong, justice and injustice. Sometimes it takes society a very long time to recognize an injustice. Once an injustice is recognized, defence of what was legal prior to a determination of justice is morally reprehensible.
So Cannabis Canada lobbies the mayor, the law is only in force until August (when its likely access to medical marijuana will expand beyond the current MMPR mail-order) and a 1,000-per-cent markup model will be instituted. The 31 licensed producers are worried about competition, as many hundreds of millions of dollars in future business are at stake billions once a legal recreational model is brought in.
So, why did the Mayor cross the road? Why is he asking city staff and police to enforce a law that has been deemed unconstitutional? Why is he not recognizing the authority of the Supreme Court or his duty to uphold the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The money, of course. It was simple after all.
Group calls on Ottawa to puff $25M into medical marijuana research
TORONTO — A group comprised of doctors, patients, health charities and scientists is urging Ottawa to invest $25 million over the next five years for research into the health effects and potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana.
In a report released Wednesday, the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable highlighted the lack of reliable, peer-reviewed Canadian-based research into marijuana as a potential treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions.
As our country embarks on a debate about the legalization of recreational marijuana, we should not lose sight of the need to invest in medical science and proper trials to better understand the impacts and effects of medical cannabis, roundtable chairman Dr. Jason McDougall, a professor of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said in a statement.
Physicians and patients are left with uncertainty about the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis and particularly the potential to bring relief to those living with chronic pain.
The group identified three priorities for funding:
— Basic science: To have a better understanding of how medical cannabis affects disease progression, physiological function and is processed by the body.
— Clinical science: Peer-reviewed studies that focus on safety, efficacy, dosing and administration of medical marijuana.
— Health services and policy: Exploring issues such as equitable access to medical cannabis; how to manage and market medical marijuana in the context of legalization; transferring knowledge about the product to health providers and the public; and its social and economic impacts.
The Arthritis Society, a member of the group, also announced the creation of the Medical Cannabis Strategic Operating Grant, an annual commitment of at least $120,000 towards research into the effects of medical marijuana.
The charitable organization is also doubling its commitment to medical cannabis research to $720,000 over the next three years.
Patients with chronic conditions seeking relief face unfair barriers due to the lack of proper medical research (into cannabis), said president and CEO Janet Yale.
The election of a new government that has voiced its support for science and evidence-based policy-making creates an ideal opportunity to commit to the sort of rigorous understanding of medical cannabis that should have occurred long ago.
From Metro News