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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.”

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.

CBC Story with Health Minister

For a pot smoker in pain, no help is on the way

ALWYNNE GWILT – Published August 11, 2007 – Updated March 27, 2017

Sitting back on a comfy couch in her Burlington residence, Alison Myrden looks ready for battle. Two long braids are tucked under her black cargo cap, while sunshine hits her sparkling nose stud and glints off of her fierce amber eyes.

She’s passionate, ready to fight for her fellow multiple sclerosis sufferers.

A few weeks ago, though, Ms. Myrden’s lustre was lessened after she was denied a summer student – one of five hired to give companionship to MS sufferers – by the Burlington chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. The reason they gave her? The university students could be harmed by the marijuana she continually uses to control the savage pain in her face and help her walk.

“I don’t get depressed, but this one really hit me hard,” she says, her voice gruff.

Ms. Myrden, 43, has been fighting to help medical cannabis gain credibility for nearly 10 years, making headlines along the way. She was also once involved in law enforcement, working with young offenders who were often nailed for drug use.

“Then I’d go home and smoke [marijuana] It was completely hypocritical,” she says. She was diagnosed in 1992 at the age of 28, but continued in law enforcement until 1995.

After quitting her job when the disease caused her to lose feeling below her knees, she started using pharmaceuticals more heavily. Nowadays, without marijuana, she needs to take 32 pills and 2,000 milligrams of morphine a day to manage her pain, which makes her sleepy and unable to communicate easily. But with 20 to 28 grams of marijuana a day (one of the heaviest allowances in the country), she can cut her pill use by two-thirds, yet still remain wakeful and alert.

Ms. Myrden is hardly alone. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Increasingly, sufferers of the disease are turning to cannabis use to alleviate their pain, since medical heroin or opium can cause nausea and other unpleasant side effects.

Cannabis use has been regulated by the government since 2001 under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. The program, which has nearly 2,000 patients, gives licences allowing those approved to carry certain amounts of marijuana, while often also giving growing privileges to a family member. With approval, marijuana can be smoked, eaten, made into tea or ointment, vaporized, or sprayed into the mouth.

Nonetheless, doctors, aid groups and lawyers all say that this country is far from where it needs to be on acceptance of marijuana as a drug therapy.

“Everyone sort of rolls their eyes and winks at you, but I think people have to start treating it as a serious drug that helps people,” says Dr. Allan Gordon, director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Ms. Myrden’s lawyer, Alan Young, a York University law professor who’s led the charge on medical marijuana approval, said he’s surprised that the MS Society reacted this way, because it “has been quite supportive of marijuana research.”

But Robyn Halliwell, the interim director of the Burlington MS Society who delivered Ms. Myrden the news, said she’s trying to find balance between the rights of her staff and the needs of a client. “While we want to respect the rights of Alison to seek medical marijuana treatment, I believe there are five other people who have rights and should expect to work in a safe environment,” she says.

The program is meant to increase social activity for MS sufferers. Ms. Halliwell considers her request analogous to asking a person to stop smoking cigarettes in front of a volunteer, as per the smoke-free work-environment regulations. And while she said she’s not aware of any studies the MS Society of Canada has been doing on medical marijuana and has not read any studies on the therapy, she stressed the point that neither the summer students nor she are medically trained or allowed to handle it.

“Whether or not that is her pain reliever, the fact is, we’re still exposing our students to something where they could become high,” said Ms. Halliwell, who discussed the issue with a pharmacist and the national MS Society before making her decision.

Ms. Myrden now relies on her mother, Joyce, to help her out with making baked goods that contain the marijuana, a format that helps ease her nausea, allowing her to get a solid night’s rest.

Her lawyer, Mr. Young, says “mixed messages” in the legislation cause confusion about marijuana use. “If Alison were able to secure a tablet that had the same products in it, they wouldn’t blink,” he says. Since the Conservative government has moved away from decriminalization, they are unlikely to support a strong medical marijuana program, Mr. Young points out.

As well, as part of budget cuts last September, the government decided not to renew the medical marijuana research program, citing savings of $4-million over the next two years.

Ms. Myrden is hopeful the government will one day catch up with the apparent beliefs of the rest of Canada, which was recently found by the United Nations to have the highest usage rate of marijuana in the industrialized world.

Finally, she said, she wishes everyone could just get along and find a solution, because she doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else.

“I don’t want to fight the [MS Society of Burlington] I don’t have the energy to,” she says wearily.

“[But]people like me are going to be coming for a long time in this country and they have to get used to us, because we have rights too.”

Click here for – Globe and Mail Story

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.

Story from Daily Mail UK Click here – Daily Mail UK

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.

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.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said he expects the market for legal marijuana will grow ‘substantively’ after the first few years. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

‘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. 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.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau)

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.

Provincial Update

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.

Nunavut: Nunavut has also finished their public consultations but draft regulations haven’t been released yet.

Story from – Civilized Life

Kirk Tousaw’s statement on Ontario’s cannabis monopoly scheme

by  on 

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 casevision 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 Dispensariesthough 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.”

Globe and Mail

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

‘Compassion clubs’ should be legal, says lawyer

CBC News Posted: Jan 27, 2006

A lawyer says Ottawa should authorize “compassion clubs” to supply marijuana to people who qualify under the government’s medical program.

Allan Young says the federal program creates licenced users of marijana, but does not allow them to buy it from a source of their choosing.

“The biggest problem is a supply issue,” he said. “It turns on whether medical users should be compelled to purchase their medicine from a government supply, which only supplies a limited strain of cannabis.”

Compassion clubs are private establishments where people can buy marijuana for medicinal use. Young says technically they’re illegal, but that none have been successfully prosecuted.

Young’s comments come in light of the case involving New Brunswicker Lynn Wood, who was convicted last year of trafficking marijuana. She claims she was operating a compassion club.

FROM FEB 21, 2005: Pot cafe´ owner found guilty of trafficking

Wood’s appeal is scheduled to be heard Feb. 23.

The Justice Department has an interest in this case because it’s one of 23 cases that challenge the federal marijuana laws, and Wood’s could be the first decision to come down.

Wood has declined to speak to news oulets before the appeal is heard.

Alison Myrden, a client of Young’s, is a licenced user because marijuana eases the pain of her multiple sclerosis. She prefers the high-grade pot available at compassion clubs over the kind she would get from a government source.

“I don’t want to break the law anymore than anybody else does,” she said. “These compassion clubs are our bread and butter. We have no place else to go. Nowhere else to shop.”

CBC News – Click Here

Toronto Star July 22, 2017
From Canadian MAP INC


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, 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.

The Simple Reason Behind Torontos Marijuana Dispensary Crackdown

TORONTO   Weed the North.

Queen’s Park turned into a big puff of smoke Saturday afternoon as some 20,000 marijuana activists gathered near the King Edward VII statue, before rallying together and walking in the 18th annual Global Marijuana March through the downtown core, spliffs in hand.

While the federal Liberals made a campaign pledge to legalize marijuana, many of the parade-goers felt like the federal government was dragging its feet.

“Thousands of people are still facing criminal charges,” said the event founder Neev, who refused to give his last name. “It should be legalized, it should be cheaper. It’s so expensive because it’s not legal yet. I appreciate the Liberals wanting to do it right, but the rollout is so slow.”

The Toronto event was one of the 100 marijuana parades scheduled in cities around the world. The crowd, some dressed up in costumes — a man was wearing a Superman bong mascot outfit – peacefully made their way across Bloor St. W., down Yonge St. before heading west on Wellesley St. back towards Queen’s Park, leaving behind them a cloud of smoke.

“Free the weed!” some chanted.

Burlington resident Alison Myrden, 52, joined the march in her wheelchair. She said smoking medicinal marijuana has allowed her to live with less pain while coping with progressive multiple sclerosis – an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.

“It was the world’s worst pain in my face and head, 24 hours a day,” she explained. “I used to take 32 pills a day, 2,000 mg of morphine a day, heroin, then cocaine. It was 1990 when my doctor recommended medical cannabis. Now, I’m still going strong, but I’ve got a violent pain in my ear right now because I can’t afford a source.”

Michael “Puffdog” Thomas started growing his own cannabis plants in 1974 and now runs a vapour lounge in St. Catharines. He said the network of growing dispensaries in the GTA are at risk of criminalization because the only legal way to get weed right now is by mail through a licensed producer authorized by Health Canada.

“I’m tired of this war. It’s a war against peace,” he said. “Let’s not put people in jail over a plant.”

$25 Million from Ottawa to research Medical Marijuana

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