In one year, Canadians spent $908M on legal cannabis

OTTAWA — Canadians spent about $908 million on non-medical cannabis in the first year since legalization, but online sales dropped as more brick-and-mortar locations opened, said Statistics Canada .

Canadians spent $907,833,000 on non-medical cannabis between October 2018 and September 2019, the agency said, which works out to $24 per capita.

READ MORE: Cannabis and driving study casts doubt on zero-tolerance limits for THC

Canada legalized cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018, becoming the second country in the world — after Uruguay — to legalize the drug. Demand initially appeared to outstrip supply as retailers warned of a pending shortfall of product.

Over the year, demand appeared to be highest in the sparsely populated Yukon where sales per capita led the other provinces and territories at $103, according to Statistics Canada. It was not able to provide data for Nunavut _ the only area without a physical store.

Prince Edward Island sales per capita were the second highest at $97, while B.C. ranked lowest at $10.

Throughout the year, Canadians’ access to cannabis stores increased. The number of retail stores jumped from 217 this past March to 407 in July, according to the agency.

Alberta boasts the highest number of stores at 176 and B.C. took second place with 57 stores. Nunavut had the fewest with zero, followed by Prince Edward Island and the Yukon, both of which have four.

READ MORE: Cannabis vaping products won’t be sold in Quebec, N.L. in January

Nineteen per cent of Canadians lived three kilometres from a cannabis store as of July 2019. Thirty per cent lived 30 kilometres away and 45 per cent lived within 10 kilometres.

Albertans enjoyed the closest proximity to a store of any province, with half of the population living within three kilometres of a cannabis outlet. That figure rises to 63 per cent for five kilometres and 70 per cent for 10 kilometres.

Ontarians lived the furthest from cannabis stores on average. Nine per cent of the population resided three kilometres from a cannabis store. Eighteen per cent lived five kilometres away and 33 per cent were 10 kilometres away.

As the number of physical stores increased, the share of online sales dropped from 43.4 per cent in October 2018 to 5.9 per cent in September 2019.

READ MORE: Constellation executive David Klein named new CEO of Canopy Growth

“While online cannabis retail ensures access to all Canadians regardless of proximity to a physical store, accessibility continues to improve as more stores open across the country,” wrote Statistics Canada in its paper.

As of July, Canada had 407 cannabis retail stores, with the most being located in Alberta.

About 45 per cent of Canadians live within 10 kilometres of a cannabis store as of July, but that figure shoots up to encompass 70 per cent of the population in Alberta.


Canadian cannabis group appeals to Trudeau to help fix industry challenges

By Matt Lamers – November 14, 2019

An industry group representing Canada’s biggest cannabis companies is appealing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help address some of the industry’s most persistent challenges.

In a letter sent to Trudeau on Nov. 9 and made public Thursday night, the Cannabis Council of Canada highlighted a number of areas in need of improvement, including a tax on medical cannabis and banking issues that are stymieing legal businesses.

The group wants Trudeau to task his new cabinet with finding solutions.

The re-elected prime minister is set to appoint his new cabinet next week.
The council also requested a meeting early in the new year among cannabis CEOs and senior Trudeau officials, the leader of the civil service and heads of relevant departments.“We believe this meeting is integral to ensuring the government understands the pressures and opportunities facing the industry,” the letter notes.

Canada’s adult-use cannabis industry got off to a rocky start in late 2018, facing immediate headwinds, involving:

  • Retail build-outs.
  • Supply challenges.
  • Banking access.
  • Illicit market proliferation.
  • Taxation on medicine.

While some of those have been addressed in part or in full, challenges remain.

The Cannabis Council of Canada’s members includes Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, which both reported disappointing earnings Thursday.

Among the issues the group would like addressed:

• National stamp: The council requested the incoming minister of revenue and finance address problems involving excise stamps.

“The current system of stamps designated for each province and territory has proven to be an expensive resource burden on the cannabis industry,” according to the letter.

“A pivot to a national stamp would also help mitigate supply issues in smaller jurisdictions and allow license holders to flexibly move product where there is demonstrated and/or urgent demand.”

• Medical tax: For the incoming minister of health, finance and revenue, the industry body urged that the excise taxes on medical cannabis eliminated.

The council said the current regime presents “serious barriers” to access and renders medical cannabis products unaffordable for lower-income Canadians.

• Illicit market: The Council asked the incoming ministers of public safety, finance, border security and organized crime reduction to discourage the proliferation of illegal online cannabis dispensaries.

The group suggested that ministries collaborate with provincial and territorial counterparts to increase enforcement and further restrict access to youth.

“We recommend that the government prioritize the closure and removal of both illegal brick and mortar stores, and actively seek out and shut down illegal online cannabis dispensaries,” the letter stipulates.

• Banking: Legal cannabis businesses continue to struggle to access regular banking services, which essentially acts as a competitive barrier to the legal cannabis industry.

The group said improvements “can be achieved in partnership with Canada’s banking sector to ensure legal cannabis businesses are given access to basic fiscal resources in order to grow their operations.”

• Export blueprint: To realize the potential for Canada’s regulated cannabis products in international markets, the Council recommended ministers develop a comprehensive medical cannabis export framework for launch in the next 12 months.

“This framework would serve to ensure the Canadian cannabis industry’s global competitiveness while adhering to the health and safety objectives of Health Canada,” the letter’s authors wrote.

• Licensing: The industry body recommended a review be undertaken of Health Canada’s timelines for license amendments and research applications.

The group cited ongoing delays in research license approvals for academics.

Story from Marijuana Business Daily


Canopy Growth – Pot company Canopy Growth reports bigger loss on charges

NOVEMBER 14, 2019

(Reuters) – Canopy Growth Corp reported a bigger quarterly loss on Thursday, as the Canadian pot producer was hit by restructuring charges.

U.S.-listed shares of the company were trading down 3.3% at $17.89 in premarket trading.

The company said it took a restructuring charge of C$32.7 million in the reported quarter for returns, return provisions, and pricing allowances primarily related to its softgel and oil portfolio.

“The last two quarters have been challenging for the Canadian cannabis sector as provinces have reduced purchases to lower inventory levels, retail store openings have fallen short of expectations, and Cannabis 2.0 products are yet to come to market,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Zekulin.

Canada’s cannabis market is facing a supply glut as producers ramp up their production to dominate the nascent industry, while retail outlets in key provinces remain few.

Canopy has been investing in new product lines including vape products, beverages, CBD beauty products and other derivatives, gearing up for the so-called cannabis 2.0.

Cannabis 2.0 is the legalization of marijuana derivatives including edibles, beverages, extracts and vape pens which took effect last month, with sales expected in mid-December.

The biggest Canadian marijuana producer by market capitalization said it sold 998 kilograms of dried medical cannabis in the second quarter, down 41% from the year-ago quarter.

The Ontario-based company reported a wider net loss of C$374.6 million ($283.12 million), in the second quarter ended Sept. 30, from C$330.6 million, a year earlier.

On per share basis, the company reported a loss of C$1.08.

Net revenue rose to C$76.6 million from C$23.3 million.

Story from Reuters News


‘Playing with fire’: What to know if you’re getting on a flight with cannabis

BY ERIC STOBER GLOBAL NEWS
Posted November 8, 2019

Flying within Canada with cannabis isn’t against the rules — but it may not be the smartest decision, according to an immigration lawyer.

The issue arose this week when a domestic Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver was diverted to Seattle. Some passengers on the flight reportedly raised concerns about whether they would be penalized for carrying the plant, even though it’s legal in Canada.

Les Saunders, a U.S.-based immigration lawyer, says that travellers might want to leave their cannabis products at home, even if travelling within Canada.

READ MORE: Flying high: rules surrounding passengers carrying cannabis at Canadian airports

“It’s playing with fire,” he said. “Canadians have to be careful when they’re on flights back and forth across Canada. I wouldn’t carry any of that stuff if I was a Canadian travelling by airplane.”

Saunders says the consequence of U.S. customs finding your cannabis could be a ban for life from the country, even if you weren’t meant to enter the U.S. or are in a state that has legalized cannabis, such as Washington state, because cannabis is still a controlled substance federally.

“It’s a lifetime bomber,” he said.

Saunders says he sees similar cases all the time when Canadians accidentally enter the U.S. by car.

In those cases, they get what’s called a “zero-tolerance fine,” which is about $500, according to Saunders, and the border agent will deem the person inadmissible because they were found in possession of a controlled substance.

It is currently legal for adults to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in Canada, but illegal to cross the border with any cannabis products.

Cannabis products are already becoming more ubiquitous as different demographics give them a try — Saunders says seniors are starting to use it to treat arthritis — and will become more varied once edibles and lotions hit Canadian store shelves in December.

One option for air travellers who find themselves unexpectedly across the border with cannabis is to get rid of the stash on the plane, according to Saunders, but he’s not sure airlines can allow people to do that.

READ MORE: Travelling to Singapore? You may be drug tested for cannabis, Travel Canada warns

Ultimately, Saunders says it’s the personal responsibility of passengers to know what could happen, but the Canadian government and the airlines have a moral obligation, if not a legal one, to warn passengers of the risks of carrying cannabis products.

Currently, there are no warnings about cannabis products in the terminal for domestic flights, according to Saunders, but there are for international flights.

However, Air Canada’s website does warn customers about the possible consequences of carrying cannabis on domestic flights if the flight is diverted.

“If you are refused entry into a country because you have cannabis in your possession, you alone will be responsible for the consequences, including for payment of your return trip home,” the website reads.

In the recent example of the Air Canada flight on Nov. 3, passengers had to clear customs due to a mechanical issue found on the plane and had the option to stay in a hotel, but the airline says there were no reported issues clearing customs.

“I wouldn’t want to be one of those people,” Saunders said.

Story from Global News


Congress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans

By Paul Armentano, Opinion Contributor —

 Americans in 33 states and the District of Columbia have legal access to medical marijuana under a doctor’s authorization. But this same access is often lacking for many military veterans.

That is because the current policy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explicitly prohibits V.A. physicians “from completing forms or registering veterans for participation in state-approved [medical marijuana] program[s].”

Some members of Congress have sought for years to change this policy. In 2016, majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate approved an amendment in the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would have ended this discriminatory policy.

Nonetheless, Republican leadership decided to remove the language during a concurrence vote. In 2018, similar language was approved by the U.S. Senate, but was later removed during conference committee negotiations.

This legislative session, Senate Bill 445 (sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz) and House Bill 1151 (sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee): The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act are pending in Congress.

Passage of these measures would, for the first time, allow doctors affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs “to recommend, complete forms for, or register veterans for participation in a treatment program involving medical marijuana that is approved by the law.” Similar legislation, HR 1647: The Veterans Equal Access Act (sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer), is also pending in the House of Representatives.

House and Senate legislation to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research “of the effects of medical-grade cannabis on the health outcomes of veterans diagnosed with chronic pain [or] post-traumatic stress disorder” is also pending.

Continued congressional intransigence on this issue is unacceptable. Emerging evidence indicates that cannabis can potentially mitigate many of the symptoms plaguing our nation’s veterans.

Most recently, data published this month in the “Journal of Psychopharmacology” reported that those with a clinical diagnosis of PTSD who consume cannabis possess significantly lower rates of severe depression and suicidal ideation than those who do not.

Separate studies — such as those reported herehere, and here — report that chronic pain patients reduce their use of opioids following access to medical cannabis therapy. Other studies have shown that cannabinoids can mitigate the frequency and intensity of trauma-related nightmares in military personnel.

For these reasons and others, veterans’ advocacy groups are increasingly going on record in support of federal policy changes. According to nationwide survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 75 percent of military veterans “would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.”

The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, has adopted a resolution urging the “United States government to permit V.A. medical providers to be able to discuss with veterans the use of marijuana for medical purposes and recommend it in those states where medical marijuana laws exist.”

It is time for Congress to grant physicians affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs the same discretion as other doctors in medical cannabis states. Politicians should no longer put politics ahead of the health and well-being of America’s military veterans, some of whom may potentially benefit from medical marijuana.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). He is the co-author of the book, “Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?” and the author of the book, “The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws.”

Story from The Hill


Canopy Growth announces joint venture with Drake

Drake now majority owner of More Life Growth, which plans to sell cannabis and related products

Thomson Reuters – Nov 07, 2019

The biggest of Canada’s new brand of marijuana producers will join forces with Toronto-born rap star Drake to launch a fully licensed joint venture in the city to produce and distribute cannabis, the two sides said on Thursday.

Under the deal, the multi-Grammy award winner will take a 60 per cent stake in a subsidiary of stock-market listed Canopy Growth, which produces cannabis in Scarborough, Ont.

Canopy and Drake said the venture, called More Life Growth Co., would be “centred around wellness, discovery and overall personal growth.” Canopy will own the remaining 40 per cent of the subsidiary.

“Drake’s perspective as a culture leader and entrepreneur combined with Canopy Growth’s breadth of cannabis knowledge will allow our new company to bring an unmatched cannabis experience to global markets,” CEO Mark Zekulin said in a statement.

Drake teased the announcement earlier this week with an Instagram post and Toronto-based public relations campaign.

U.S.-listed shares of Canopy, which last year drew a major investment from Corona brewer Constellation Brands, rose around three per cent in early trading.

More Life Growth, in a trademark application from Dream Crew IP based out of West Hollywood, Calif., plans to sell cannabis, dried plants, herb teas and clothing products.

Drake is just the latest in a list of celebrities who have partnered with Canadian cannabis companies since the country approved the use of recreational marijuana.

Canopy Growth has previously announced assorted partnerships with Martha Stewart, Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg.

Story from – CBC


Will more legal pot stores snuff out the black market? Probably not, heavy users say
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Ontario Chamber of Commerce suggests more private stores will increase convenience

Philip Lee-Shanok CBC News

It’s a basic tenet of retailing: if you want to reach more customers, you need more locations. And according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, that principle applies to pot just as much any other product.

The chamber says people in this province are open to allowing a bigger role for private industry in providing convenient access to cannabis, if it helps get rid of the black market — pointing to a Nanos survey conducted online at the end of October.

The poll, released Thursday, suggests 51 per cent of Ontarians would favour allowing private-sector companies to purchase, distribute and sell cannabis, with the province’s oversight. But not everyone’s convinced it will get rid of the illegal market, especially heavy smokers like Abi Roach.

“On product quality, price and convenience, right now, my drug dealer wins on all those things,” said Roach, who is the owner/operator of the Hotbox Cafe — a spot in Toronto’s Kensington Market where you can spark up a joint with your meal, even though you can’t buy cannabis there.

“He has a quality product at a much cheaper price and a much more convenient manner. And he’s authentic. I like him, I connect with him and I know him personally,” she told CBC Toronto.

And she says allowing the cannabis industry to have more involvement won’t change that.

‘It’s not their jam’

“These stores are very much geared towards, you know, the soccer mom. They’ll smoke a joint at a party, whereas the real consumer, the people who are still using the unregulated market, it’s not their jam. It’s just not the kind of atmosphere that they’re looking for.”

But according to Daniel Safayeni, director of policy for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the newly formed Ontario Cannabis Policy Council, easier access to legal weed could eventually get users like Roach to go legal.

“Ontarians are looking for increased convenience to be able to purchase from legal entities and legal means,” said Safayeni, adding that Ontario’s 25 brick-and-mortar shops for 14.6 million people aren’t nearly enough to present a viable option to the illicit or unregulated market, although 50 more stores were slated to begin opening in the province last month.

“We’re unfortunately not going to be able to do that with limited retail presence and we’re not going to be able to do that in the absence of an efficient retail market that can compete with the illegal markets,” said Safayeni.

In comparison, Alberta has 301 stores for a population of just over four million.

As seen in other provinces, Safayeni says access and convenience is improved when the private sector plays a greater role in the purchasing, distribution and retailing of cannabis.

Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of Business of Cannabis, which conducts research and hosts events on everything to do with weed, says convenience and access are key factors for many potential new consumers.

“It’s really a challenge in Ontario that it’s not convenient to buy [legal cannabis] unless you happen to be within walking distance of Queen Street West in Toronto,” he said.

Rosenthal says the Ontario government has been criticized pretty heavily in the year since adult recreational use became legal and it recognizes that to bring people into the regulated market, more retail options are needed.

The province announced it is considering a click-and-collect system that would allow consumers to buy products online and then pick them up at a government store. Also, licensed producers could be allowed to sell to the public directly at their main production sites.

But Rosenthal says those who have been consuming cannabis longer have priorities other than simple convenience.

“It’s not as if their source for cannabis closed down on October 17th, 2018. They still have that source. They may buy from the legal shop or they may buy from their source,” he said, adding it’s a minority of cannabis users who consume a majority of the cannabis.

And when it comes to those regular users, Rosenthal agrees with Roach: quality, price and convenience really matter.

For her part, Roach would like to see more small operators like her get a chance at transitioning to the legal market.

“We have to turn away 200 people a day and send them down the street because we can’t sell cannabis,” she said, adding that she’s not thrilled with the lottery system the province used to license the new stores.

“And the fact that I have to send those customers to a lottery winner who put $75 into a hat and then sold that licence for $15 million to some large corporation makes me want to vomit.”

Story from – CBC


Exhausting, expensive and cruel – this is what it’s like to travel abroad for medical cannabis

As a pharmacist, I can pass through customs with ease. But desperate patients bringing the legal medicine back without the right documents risk arrest, prosecution and imprisonment

Chris Ashton – November 7, 2019 – The Independent UK

Last week I made a gruelling journey to the Netherlands to pick up medical cannabis prescriptions for several patients. I woke up at 4am for the 7:45am flight to Amsterdam, then took an hour-long taxi ride to the Transvaal Pharmacy in The Hague, arriving a little after noon.

The Netherlands has the regulatory systems and infrastructure in place to ensure that, with the right documentation, fulfilling the prescriptions was simple. Returning to the UK that evening I declared the medicines to customs officials who checked all my documents and the prescriptions. Fortunately, I was waved through, medication in hand, ready to deliver to our patients.

As a pharmacist, this has been my professional life for nearly two decades. I understand how medicines work and I am fluent in the burdensome paperwork required to obtain them, and how to deal with any of the difficult, but necessary, questions from other pharmacists and customs officials.

However, it can be a very different story for the dozens of patients and parents who make this expensive, time-consuming, and for the less mobile, physically challenging, trip to fulfil their prescriptions every year.

The news is peppered with examples of parents who have also made the risky journey to obtain the medicine – Emma Appleby and her daughter Teagan, Lisa Quarrel and her son Cole, Tannine Mongtomery and her daughter Indie-Rose, worried mothers simply seeking treatment for their children’s severe epilepsy.

Sometimes they succeed in bringing the medicine home, sometimes they fail. Even if they are successful, the limitations on the amount of medicine that can be imported means it’s never long before they have to make that same trip again, and again, and again.

At Luton Airport one of the officials told me that in the last year she had seen many patients making this journey, often without the right documents. Her hands are tied – without the right papers, the best-case scenario is the medicine will be confiscated, the worst is the prospect of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

The journey alone is exhausting, but to return empty handed with a seriously ill child in tow, facing prosecution for the ‘crime’ of trying to obtain a legal medicine is unimaginable. Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality for parents and patients who suffer from conditions that do not respond to conventional medicines and are often seeking their “last resort”.

It does not have a well-established medical use, unlike morphine – another controlled drug – so importers need two licenses to get a medical cannabis prescription into the UK, one from the MHRA – the medicines regulator – and one from the Home Office at a combined cost of £155 per month, every month.

Not only do patients carry the financial burden, with some being forced to re-mortgage their home, but it can take up to 28 days in between prescriptions for the licences to be granted. Patients being forced to spend four weeks waiting between prescriptions, unsure that they will be able to get the medicine they need, simply isn’t good enough.

There is no single solution to overcoming the cumbersome and bureaucratic experience patients face. A clear first step would be to allow the import of medical cannabis products as we do for unlicensed controlled medicines.

Licensing costs would be minimised and stock could be held in the UK ready to supply patients. Controls for this process are already proven and in place, and it would bring welcome relief from the financial burdens placed upon these desperate families.

We also need to face up to our double standards. The UK is the world’s largest exporter of medical cannabis, but we lack the regulations and infrastructure to develop a domestic industry as other countries have.

Beyond the clear economic benefits this could bring, imagine the pressure we could lift from those suffering if they were able to access safe, proven, NHS-approved treatments without the fear of arrest or bankruptcy.

Whatever the outcome of the general election, those leading the country will be faced with a simple choice: continue to put patients and their families under enormous physical and emotional stress, or do right by them and make medical cannabis truly accessible to patients with unmet medical needs.

Chris Ashton is the Chief Pharmacist for Lyphe Group

Story from The Independent UK


Air Canada passengers ‘abandoned’ to deal with delays, cannabis possession after diverted flight

Penny Daflos – Reporter – CTV Vancouver
November 7, 2019

VANCOUVER – More than 200 Air Canada passengers on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver found themselves unexpectedly in Washington State earlier this week, with little help from airline staff as they scrambled to make arrangements and figure out what to do about cannabis products.

Flight AC 125 re-routed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport late in the evening Sunday after foggy conditions kept it from landing at YVR and other Canadian airports. The airline says a mechanical issue that came up as the 787 Dreamliner was grounded necessitated the removal of passengers from the aircraft altogether.

Harold Wax, a frequent traveler, was on the flight and said passengers began discussing potential issues with customs, considering few passengers were likely to have brought passports or visas for what was scheduled as a domestic flight.

“I said to my neighbour, ‘I wonder how many passengers on this plane have cannabis or CBD on them and weren’t anticipating landing in the United States,’ and her eyes literally popped out of her skull and she said ‘I have CBD oil on me for my bad joints,’” Wax told CTV News Vancouver.

While it’s legal for adults to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in Canada, officials have warned that no one should cross international borders with it, especially to a country like the U.S., where some states have legalized the drug, but the federal policy remains strictly opposed to cannabis.

“They risked lifetime bans from the United States and the only way to overcome that is hundreds of dollars of a special fee each time they seek entry,” said Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.

He believes airlines like Air Canada should do more to protect passengers, suggesting they have an obligation to do so.

“As soon as Air Canada pilots are aware of emergency landing in the United States two things should happen,” said Kurland. “First, they should alert the passengers of an immigration customs search of material in their possession, that will include cannabis. Second thing, keep those washrooms open for as long as possible because people who are in possession of what’s legal in Canada have to decide: do I want to risk lifetime ban in the United States, or do I want to just trash my stash?”

“We’re on our own”

For Wax, a long-time security consultant, he was more concerned about the lack of support from Air Canada after three hours spent waiting on the tarmac.

“On the plane they’re telling us get off the plane, get off, customs and everything will be ok, there’ll be someone waiting for you on the other side – but not only is there nobody there, now you’re stuck,” he said. “You can’t get back through security, there’s literally nobody there to help us and we’re on our own. It definitely felt an abandonment from Air Canada.”

The airline sent an email statement to CTV News, which reads in part: “Air Canada is handled by a partner company in Seattle, and special, exceptional arrangements were immediately made for the U.S. authorities to enable all customers to clear customs without the usual documentation. We were advised there were no issues during the customs clearance process.”

But Air Canada also acknowledges there was only one staffer at the airport to handle baggage, customer service duties and customs issues. It says “they returned to the desk to advise customers that arrangements had been made for people to proceed directly to local hotels where accommodations had been secured. Air Canada agents from YVR were also sent to Seattle to assist customers.”

Wax said passengers had to make their own arrangements and was told by a customer service agent on the phone that they would be reimbursed later.

“I’ve got the means to fend for myself, but I guarantee there’s other people on this plane that either don’t have credit cards, don’t have money. What are they going to do? You’re kind of leaving people in the lurch,” he told the agent.

Story from CBC


Quebec raises legal consumption age for cannabis to 21

Tracey Lindeman in Ottawa –

New law, which goes into effect 1 January, is intended to ‘protect’ teens and their developing brains, said junior health minister

The day cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018, the line outside of Quebec’s government-run pot shop in downtown Montreal ran hundreds deep down multiple city blocks.

At least some of those enthusiasts will be gravely disappointed after a new law passed by the provincial government has raised the legal consumption age from 18 to 21. The change, announced this week, is intended to “protect” teenagers and their developing brains, according to the junior health minister, Lionel Carmant.

The new law, which comes into effect on 1 January, also prohibits the consumption of cannabis on public roads, in bus shelters, under big-top tents and in playgrounds. These changes take effect this week.

No other province in Canada has a legal cannabis consumption age over 19.

When campaigning for the seat of Quebec premier last year, the Coalition Avenir Québec party’s leader, François Legault, promised to increase the age limit for cannabis. A government spokesperson said 65% of Québécois agreed with the new age limit.

Quebec’s stringent cannabis laws are unique in the country. The province also prohibits people from growing their own at home, it has one of the lowest allowances for home storage of processed cannabis and it also prohibits the sale of edibles, which only became legal in Canada this month.

The government is also in the process of appealing against a ruling in a legal challenge to its no-home-growing law. In September, a Quebec court judge said the law was invalid because it trespassed on federal rights given to Canadians. Quebec has vowed to fight that ruling.

Despite these laws, legal cannabis has been extremely popular in the province – and lucrative for the government. In its first five months of operation, the government cannabis store network (SQDC) sold $71m worth – 9.9 tonnes – of the stuff to Quebec consumers.

Opponents to Quebec’s new age limit say that the law is unfair and that it will encourage the sale of grey- and black-market cannabis.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a spokesman for official Opposition party Québec Solidaire, said that it creates “two classes of adults”.

The legal age to vote, buy cigarettes and drink in Quebec is 18.

Story from – The Guardian


Demand for illegal cannabis still high, 1 year after legalization …

More Canadians are buying cannabis from illegal sources than legal ones, according to Statistics Canada

One year after the federal government legalized recreational marijuana, 60 per cent of Canadians are still buying the drug on the black market or from sources that are not entirely legal, according to Statistics Canada data.

The Liberal government’s main argument for legalization was a push to take the drug out of the hands of children and the profits out of those of criminals.

And although the percentage of illegal sales has steadily been going down since Oct. 17 of last year, the black market today remains a $4-billion-a-year industry, according to numbers from Statistics Canada.

Those illegal sales can take many shapes.

Jay LeBourque opened a lounge the day after legalization. In exchange for buying a sticker, at a price that can range anywhere from $3 to $30, he offers his clients cannabis — it’s a gift, he says. That’s how he tries to get around the law.

“I’m pushing it, yeah,” said LeBourque, who owns and operates Touch of Grey in Moncton.

“Because I do not agree with it.”

LeBourque said he feels the government-operated stores are failing to deliver a strong product at a competitive price.

Cannabis NB is currently the only authorized retailer of recreational cannabis in the province, and consumers have complained of high prices.

LeBourque doesn’t grow his own cannabis, and he admitted to buying it from someone who harvests it illegally.

“I’m allowed to give the whole country 30 grams a day,” he said. “I’m in a grey zone.”

What’s clear is the demand for illegal cannabis hasn’t vanished overnight.

In the second quarter of 2019, Statistics Canada estimates Canadians spent $918 million on illegal cannabis. That’s compared to $443 million for legal recreational cannabis during the same period, and $150 million for medicinal products.

Government ‘naive’

Those numbers don’t shock Rodney Wilson, director of the New Brunswick Craft Cannabis Association.

“The black market was a low production cost cottage industry slash side hustle that had strong customer relationships, that were supported by a multi-level distribution network that had been developed over decades,” said Wilson.

“And for the government to think that by just passing some laws and regulations, that such a formidable and ubiquitous competitor, you could take market shares from them, was naive.”

Wilson is applying for a licence from Health Canada. He’s building a nursery to house 4,000 plants by next summer and wants to be a craft cannabis grower.

He’s doing business with three “legacy growers” — people who were growing cannabis before it became legal — and Slim Hippie Farms is providing the space.

To get the small grow room up to code, it costs $500,000. And that’s just to grow the plant. Someone else will harvest his crop.

Though he has chosen the legal route, he said many don’t have the money.

“They just cannot afford to comply with the red tape,” he said. “The cost to comply with that is astronomical.”

Story from CBC


The good, the bad and the ugly from Canada’s first year of legal pot

By David George-Cosh

Nearly a year ago, Canada became the second country in the world – and the first developed nation – to legalize recreational adult use of cannabis. For decades, the drug operated in the shadows, vilified by law enforcement and policymakers as a gateway to the criminal world. But times have changed. Cannabis is better known as an agricultural product than a gateway drug and has many applications in the medical and recreational market. Today, more than three dozen countries have legalized cannabis for medical use while dozens more have decriminalized marijuana, spurring billions of dollars in investment into the once-maligned drug.

BNN Bloomberg takes a look at how the end of cannabis prohibition has fared in Canada, warts and all.

The Good

Cannabis emerged as a growth driver, contributing $8.26 billion to Canada’s economy as of July while accounting for 9,200 people currently working in the sector, according to Statistics Canada. Legalization also opened the door for research funds to fine-tune how the cannabis plant’s various cannabinoids can be used to treat pain, anxiety, and cancer, among other ailments.

From a public policy standpoint, legalizing pot gave the government an opportunity keep cannabis out of the hands of youth while collecting tax revenue – even if it’s lower than what was first expected – and make sure it doesn’t stay in the underground economy. Also, by regulating the product and setting standards on how legal cannabis should be produced, pot users will be able to consume the drug safely without any unknown additives.

Momentum to federally legalize cannabis in the U.S., the world’s largest market, has moved in a positive direction. Several states have legalized recreational use of the drug and more are on the way over the next year, while new legislation moves through U.S. Congress to allow U.S. cannabis companies to conduct financial services without fear of penalty.

The Bad

For all the optimism that legalizing pot brought, the industry encountered several headwinds over the course of the year getting products into the hands of customers. Indeed, finding a store was a challenge given the delayed rollout of sales locations across the country, notably in Ontario. The province currently only has 24 pot stores open thanks to a lottery process which was recently mired in a legal battle as well as the provincial government’s insistence that there wasn’t enough supply in the market to fulfill stores.

The jury is arguably out on whether there’s enough cannabis in the Canadian market to fulfill demand; or, more importantly, if there’s enough cannabis that people  actually want. There are signs now that pot producers are growing nearly enough legal cannabis to meet annual demand. Anecdotally, it appears that consumers typically prefer dried flower products that contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical compound in cannabis that gets you “stoned”. The problem? The bulk of products available in the market are believed to contain less THC than what consumers could obtain in the black market, which continues to flourish despite legalization.

In late June, Canopy Growth Corp. co-CEO and Founder Bruce Linton was unceremoniously given his walking papers. Linton, who also served as the industry’s de factor spokesperson, was let go after executives at Canopy’s largest shareholder, Constellation Brands Inc., grew frustrated with the pot giant’s overspending and lack of profitability. Since then, Linton has become an investor, advisor and board member of several emerging U.S. and Canadian cannabis companies.

Canopy wasn’t the only cannabis company to stubbornly post losses during the first year of legalization. Dozens of publicly-listed cannabis producers reported quarter after quarter of disappointing earnings, bucking the lofty expectations made a year earlier.

The Ugly

It’s been a rough year for investors in the cannabis space over the past year, especially those who’ve clung to their positions. Many cannabis stocks are broadly trading around 52-week lows as the sector continues to get pummelled by setbacks and regulatory uncertainty.

CannTrust Holdings Inc. became a lightning rod for controversy, and a poster child for regulatory risk, this summer after announcing its operations were found to be non-compliant by Health Canada. A steady drip of negative headlines weighed on the company, notably news that cannabis was produced in unlicensed rooms, apparently hidden behind fake walls to avoid detection by Health Canada inspectors and amid allegations that seeds sourced from the black market entered the company’s production facility. CannTrust’s CEO and chairman were dismissed and its ability to sell and produce cannabis is now suspended by Health Canada as the company looks to get back to a state of regulatory compliance.

CannTrust’s woes came several months after short-sellers alleged self-dealing among Aphria Inc. insiders as well as claims the company paid inflated prices for Latin American assets. The development decimated the Leamington, Ont.-based pot producer’s value and led to the resignation of CEO Vic Neufeld and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani a month later. A special committee later determined the price paid for acquisitions was within an “acceptable range”, but there were certain conflicts in the boardroom that weren’t properly disclosed.

Meanwhile, vape products that contain THC were identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as playing a significant role in an outbreak of severe lung illness. The THC vape products are suspected to be behind more than 1,000 people suffering vaping-related illness, as well as 28 deaths. As a result, the FDA warned consumers to avoid using THC vaping products until the outbreak can be contained.

What’s next?

While dark clouds currently circle above the cannabis space, there are some reasons to be hopeful that better days are ahead. Higher-margin products including cannabis-infused edibles and topicals will soon hit the market, giving consumers more choice on how they use cannabis while providing producers with a much-needed revenue boost.

There will also be a lot more cannabis stores eventually open in Canada, which should also bolster sales and help drive people away from the black market. And while the illicit market is unlikely to be eradicated anytime soon, some analysts believe there’ll be an oversupply of pot in Canada, which would cause prices to decline.

Story from BNN Bloomberg News


Puff luck: Provincial pot websites have hugely uneven supply and selection

Our survey of the sites found ridiculously irregular inventory across the country, reflecting problems in the market as a whole

Claire Brownell – September 19, 2019

At midnight on Oct. 17, 2018—the second it became legal to sell cannabis—Christopher Duffitt was ready. His store, Puff Puff Pass Head Shop, opened its doors to a lineup of customers in Clarenville, Nfld., a town of 6,300 people northwest of St. John’s. But it quickly became clear that the business wouldn’t be open for long.

Duffitt had assumed his would be the only legal cannabis shop in the small town of Clarenville when he applied for a licence, but the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation approved another retailer in a gas station. Newfoundland allows big corporations such as Loblaws and Esso to sell marijuana in their stores and—more importantly—lets retailers negotiate directly with cannabis producers. Small players like Duffitt have to compete for limited supply with much bigger, better-resourced competitors. Duffitt had heard the producers were giving the corporate retailers first dibs on the best weed, leaving him with boxes of weak buds that no one wanted and none of the stronger stuff that was actually in demand.

In January, Duffitt hung a sign on his door announcing he would close his shop for good on the 31st. “Due to government’s (Newfoundland Liquor Corporation) over-regulation of this industry and their inability to control the suppliers which have shown favouritism to the corporate sites … we have no choice but to close up shop,” the sign read. “The private independent sites are suffering as a result and we are the first casualty.”

Duffitt is not the only Newfoundlander struggling with the province’s approach to cannabis legalization. The Atlantic province has the biggest cannabis supply problem in the country, exclusive data collected and analyzed by Maclean’s shows. No province or territory has done a perfect job of making cannabis legally available for the first time, but our data reveals that Canadians who live in some provinces enjoy a much better selection of products at lower prices than others.

READ: What Canada’s plan for regulating legal marijuana gets wrong

In a prepared response, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation noted provinces and territories across the country have struggled with supply shortages since legalization. The response said the regulator was unaware of any unfair advantages enjoyed by corporate retailers and told cannabis producers they must treat everyone the same regardless of size.

But Duffitt says if he had known then what he knows now, he would have never opened the store. “It was an education for me,” he says. “I probably lost $20, $30, $40,000.”

The entire cannabis industry has been receiving an education over the past year. Retailers, cannabis producers and Statistics Canada now have crucial information that was completely unknown at launch, such as the scale of consumer demand and the prices shoppers are willing to pay.

Statistics Canada regularly releases data on the cannabis industry, such as month-over-month sales in each province and estimates of the size of the legal and black markets. Yet the agency doesn’t collect data on selection and availability. Because a limited number of companies are allowed to grow the cannabis that’s approved for sale, supply shortages are a major problem for legal retailers. Provinces and privately owned shops all compete for that short supply, seriously affecting their ability to compete with the black market.

To paint a fuller picture of the options available to Canadians who want to buy legal weed, Maclean’s collected data on dried flower cannabis for sale at all 10 provincially and territorially run online cannabis stores. That’s every province and territory except Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavut, where private retailers are allowed to set up e-commerce shops. There’s more to the legal market than these government-run online stores, but experts who reviewed the data said it reflected what they had been hearing about supply problems in various jurisdictions. We are publishing statistics from July 10, which we ensured was a typical day by comparing the numbers to those collected on other days throughout the summer.

To make sense of the numbers, it helps to understand how the provinces and territories present legal cannabis for sale online. Each store offers various brands of marijuana, and the number of dried flower products ranges from just five in the Northwest Territories to 338 in Alberta. Most of the time, the store will offer each product in a variety of standard weights, similar to how a liquor store may sell the same brand of vodka in 375-millilitre, 750-millilitre and 1.13-litre sizes. Some, none or all of those weights could be in stock at any given time.

With a few exceptions, the provinces with the largest populations have the widest product selections and the highest percentage of in-stock weights. In Alberta, 78 per cent of the product weights listed in its online store were actually available for purchase; B.C. kept 69 per cent of weights in stock. Meanwhile, the smaller provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland struggled, with just 51 per cent, 47 per cent and 20 per cent of the product weights listed on their e-commerce sites respectively available for purchase.

Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of the news and analysis company Business of Cannabis, says the larger provinces have leverage in negotiations for the scarce supply of legal cannabis because they’re buying in such large quantities. Meanwhile, the smaller provinces are cutting smaller deals for smaller markets. Newfoundland has a small population to begin with, and without the government acting as a wholesale buyer, its retailers are left making purchases that are the least lucrative for producers.

“The bigger provinces have better bargaining power,” Rosenthal says. “The retailers have basically none, because they’re one-offs or two-offs, especially out east.”

In its response, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation said it’s not responsible for the low percentage of in-stock products on its website. Unlike its counterparts in other provinces, the liquor board doesn’t buy cannabis products wholesale or manage the inventory available on its online store. Its site acts essentially as a portal connecting consumers to producers; producers ship directly to the buyers. “Given the infancy of the industry, [licensed producers] are trying to gauge the appropriate inventory levels needed to supply e-commerce customers,” the statement said. “As the NLC evaluates this new industry, you should see product offerings [on the site] better align with inventory.”

There are exceptions to the rule of larger provinces having better product availability. The Northwest Territories and the Yukon managed to keep 100 per cent of the weights they offered in stock, although that’s a lot easier to do with an extremely limited selection of five and 26 products, respectively. And the province with the highest percentage of in-stock weights was not a big province like Alberta or Ontario—it was Nova Scotia, which had 96 per cent of the weights it offered for 99 products available. Greg Engel, chief executive of the licensed cannabis producer OrganiGram, says the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation got a lot of things right from the get-go by leveraging its expertise as a regulator and retailer of alcohol to have its physical stores ready to open in October 2018.

Then there’s Quebec, a larger province that on July 10 had 89 products available and just 43 per cent of the weights it offered listed in stock. Availability was as high as 56 per cent on other days we examined. Éliane Hamel, a spokeswoman for the Société québécoise du cannabis, says the regulator has focused on securing deals with producers who can deliver a high quantity of product as opposed to a large selection and says it has received good customer feedback: “This offer seems to satisfy our consumers if we refer to the positive comments published on websites.”

There are signs not every customer in Quebec is satisfied, however. Shortly after legalization, the province’s government-run stores shut down three days a week to keep them from completely running out of stock. Ottawa-based cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser says the provincial government’s proposal to ban the sale of topical creams and most cannabis edibles when they become legal is likely affecting the regulator’s negotiations with licensed producers. “While you have a shortage of supply, you’re probably going to allocate that supply to the provinces where you have the ability to sell your full range of products,” she says.

READ: The grandfather who bought Canada’s first legal weed (near as anyone can tell)

It’s less clear how Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut, the two provinces and one territory that don’t have government-run online stores and allow private retailers to operate e-commerce sites instead, compare. Lacey Norton, vice-president of retail at Canopy-owned Tweed and Tokyo Smoke stores, works with all three jurisdictions. Norton says the ability to operate online stores as a private retailer doesn’t affect sales much—less than 10 per cent comes from e-commerce—and is mostly useful for marketing purposes. She expects sales will pick up as supply improves and customers need less help selecting products.

There’s no countrywide data available on the percentage of cannabis sales coming from e-commerce, but Statistics Canada’s monthly provincial sales numbers suggest that Canopy is not the only legal retailer generating the vast majority of its revenue from brick-and-mortar stores. The numbers show a correlation between physical stores per capita and revenue. For example, when Ontario opened its first 25 legal retail stores in April, total sales shot up from $7.6 million to $19.6 million.

Several experts cited privacy concerns and the ability to ask knowledgeable staff questions as reasons why Canadians seem to overwhelmingly prefer to buy their legal weed in person. But an internet search for the phrase “buy marijuana online Canada” suggests another explanation. That search returns page after page of links to black market retailers who offer cannabis at much lower prices than those found at the legal online stores.

Two long-time Toronto-based cannabis activists and entrepreneurs, Abi Roach and Chris James, say they know a number of business owners who have given up on ever getting one of Ontario’s limited number of retail licenses and opened illegal online dispensaries instead. Police tend to focus more on shutting down physical dispensaries, so illegal online stores have a lot working in their favour.

Illicit online vendors can sell higher-quality weed obtained from black market sources with none of the supply issues plaguing the legal industry, no costs associated with regulatory compliance and a much lower risk of running into trouble with the law. And despite stiff competition from the black market, legal marijuana is much more expensive, thanks to limited supply and the cost of staying on the right side of strict regulations.

If provincial governments don’t loosen their regulations and make it easier for entrepreneurs to open legal cannabis stores, says James, the lucky few with licences are eventually going to find themselves completely unable to compete. “They don’t know the threat that’s looming online,” he says. “They’re just happy to have a store. They’re selling out of product every day, so they don’t even realize it’s peanuts . . . compared to what’s being sold online.”

Still, James hopes to become one of those lucky few with a licence. He says he shut down his lucrative black-market online cannabis businesses, including the delivery service Weedora, in the hopes of getting a chance to run a legal store. However, the decision—like Duffitt’s in Newfoundland—hasn’t worked out for him so far.

READ: 13 things you’ve probably wondered about marijuana but were too afraid to ask

James opened a shop in downtown Toronto called Coffee and Cannabis, making do with sales from the coffee in anticipation that he’d get a licence to sell the cannabis. Then Ontario’s provincial government announced it would give out licences at random, announcing the winners of its second lottery on Aug. 21. James didn’t get a golden ticket—but an address associated with Cafe, a Toronto dispensary shut down by police, did. Coffee and Cannabis is now closed for renovations as James holds out hope that he’ll get a licence eventually when the province realizes a system that rewards people who have no experience, or are active participants in the black market, is a bad idea.

James is livid about the money he’s lost trying to play by the rules while Ontario rewards those who haven’t bothered. “It’s been a complete reversal,” he says of his life as a black-market vendor compared to life as a would-be legal cannabis entrepreneur. “I didn’t get into it for money, but it’s gone from where I was making enough to survive and pay my bills and pay my rent to, now, I’m just losing money waiting for the government to get its act together and hoping I’ll recover that money in the long term.”

Unlike Duffitt, James isn’t giving up for now. But if Canada’s various levels of government don’t fix the supply issues plaguing legal cannabis, and the patchwork of regulations plaguing would-be legal retailers, more like him will.

Currently, the black market still reigns supreme. It accounts for about 80 per cent of the country’s annual $5.9 billion in household spending on cannabis, according to Statistics Canada. A lot needs to change before legal weed takes its place. Until then, expect the “closed” signs on businesses like Cannabis and Coffee and Puff Puff Pass Head Shop to remain up.

Story from Macleans


Next federal government needs to amend Cannabis Act, say First Nation chiefs
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Some leaders worry status quo could lead to conflict

Jorge Barrera – CBC News – Sep 29, 2019

The next federal government needs to amend the Cannabis Act so First Nations can have jurisdiction over the industry on their territories, to seize its economic potential and avoid potential conflicts, according to some Indigenous leaders.

First Nations were left out of the jurisdictional equation when the Liberal government passed its cannabis law, which put regulation of distribution and retail in the hands of the provinces while Ottawa oversees production.

This left them at the mercy of provincial decisions when it came to opening dispensaries on reserve — a situation rejected by many bands who see provincial governments as interlopers in a nation-to-nation relationship they believe should be strictly with Ottawa.

Alderville First Nation Chief Dave Mowat, whose community near Peterborough, Ont., has 13 unlicensed cannabis shops, said the next federal government needs empower band councils.

“There has to be a political will to amend the [Cannabis Act] so we can have a firmer footing, one that recognizes our jurisdiction and recognizes who we are,” he said.

Mowat said he worries that the status quo would lead to police action and conflict.

“I don’t want to see a raid happen on the reserve. Someone will get hurt if that happens,” he said.

“There are sizeable investments that have been made in some of these shops that could lead to serious altercations if that happens.”

Mowat, who was elected in July, said his band council is working on a law to regulate the industry in the community.

In Mowat’s view, the province has no jurisdiction on his First Nation. He said their law will be as strong or stronger than Ontario’s.

“Everyone wants to live in a safe community and I also want to see the community itself reap some of the benefits as well,” he said.

Several First Nations across the country are drafting or have passed their own cannabis laws, but it remains unclear whether they’ll be able to enforce them.

‘Behind the eight-ball’

Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation, near North Bay, Ont. said the next federal government can’t drag its feet on the issue because community members will lose patience.

“My political capital with our own nation members is going to wear thin and it may be the tobacco scenario all over again,” he said, referring to Ottawa’s decades-long battle with First Nations over cigarette taxes — which led to multiple raids in the 1990s and the criminalization of untaxed tobacco sales under the Harper government.

“Again, Canada and the provinces will have put First Nations behind the eight-ball,” he said.

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says Ottawa needs to amend the Cannabis Act. (Erik White/CBC)

McLeod said there are no cannabis shops in his community yet, but the band has supported a member’s application to the province for a licence. It also passed a cannabis law modelled after Ottawa and Ontario’s laws, that is tailored to the First Nation’s needs.

“We are serious about accessing the economy, but what is stopping us is the legislation of the federal government and the fact that they wrongfully delegated the responsibility to the provinces and left First Nations communities out of the fold,” he said.

“This could have been easily worked out prior to the legalization of cannabis … but it wasn’t and now here we are once again — in the era of truth and reconciliation but 153 years after Confederation we are still being left out of the economy and we are being forced into either black markets or grey markets once again by mainstream Canada.”

There have been several raids on dispensaries on or near reserves this year in Ontario. Most were in First Nations with one or two dispensaries. The latest was earlier this month in Wahnapitae, about 45 kilometres north of Sudbury, where the Anishinabek Police Service raided two shops.

As of May of this year, there were about 79 unlicensed dispensaries in 23 First Nations across the province, according to an Ontario Provincial Police presentation posted on the website of the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario.

That same presentation, however, acknowledges that First Nations have certain “sovereign rights” and that band councils direct “enforcement actions.”

‘An extreme situation’

No other First Nation has seen such explosive growth in the cannabis industry as Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a fiercely independent community about 60 kilometres west of Kingston, Ont.

It has about 30 dispensaries which have triggered an influx of cash, employment and economic development — along with increasing vehicle traffic and safety concerns.

“We need something in our community that is going to take care of our community as a whole, not just certain portions of it,” said Doug Brant, who was on a committee working on a band cannabis law.

“We have to have some sort of regulations, some sort of bylaws, zoning, whatever it takes … we are in an extreme situation.”

On Sept. 12, the band council presented a proposed cannabis law to regulate the industry from seed to sale.

But it got a skeptical reception from some.

“We all are in agreement that we need some kind of rules and regulations,” said Jamie Kunkle, owner of Smoke Signals dispensary.

“The format they are offering, that’s not the one.”

Even if Tyendinaga passes a law, it’s unclear whether it could enforce it, said Larry Hay, a former Tyendinaga police chief who was hired as a consultant on the issue.

“Prosecution may require the federal government to accept these laws,” said Hay.

Sara Mainville, with the Olthuis Kleer Townshend law firm, helped draft Tyendinaga’s proposed law. She said the Cannabis Act is “watertight” and leaves no opening for First Nations jurisdiction.

However, she said it is possible to devise a legal strategy to push back against provincial jurisdiction.

“Coupled with very careful strategy we do think there is a solution here,” she said.

“We definitely need the governments to see the writing on the wall … and allow First Nations the authority to control cannabis. That is the only way out of this quagmire.”

Story from – CBC


Toronto firm to build world’s first ‘magic mushroom’ research lab

By David George-Cosh

Field Trip Ventures Inc., a Toronto-based firm aimed at using psychedelics to treat mental illness, is planning to build the world’s first legal research and cultivation facility for psilocybin-producing mushrooms.

“The mental health options that we have today are broken,” said Mujeeb Jafferi, Field Trip’s president, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg at the company’s downtown Toronto offices. “This is something that provides an alternative to traditional anti-depressants which may not have worked for some people.”

The company, whose founders include several former Aurora Cannabis Inc. senior executives, will begin construction on a 3,000 square-foot research lab this month in the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, where psilocybin-producing mushrooms are legal, said Jafferi.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Jafferi said the university will assist with providing the company research staff and academic advisors.

Field Trip’s work in exploring how psychedelics – which include psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA – can be used to treat anxiety or depression comes amid growing public sentiment toward the drugs.

In the past year, several U.S. cities such as Oakland and Denver have decriminalized psychedelics, while former Canopy Growth Corp. co-chief executive Bruce Linton announced plans to become a director at Mind Medicine, Inc., another Toronto-based company looking to establish safe psychedelic-assisted treatments for mental illnesses. 

Those drugs remain classified as illegal Schedule 1 controlled substances in the U.S., although proponents of psychedelics believe focusing on medical treatments could see the narcotics follow a similar path that led to the legalization of cannabis in Canada.

Field Trip’s Jafferi believes the Jamaican research lab could provide a better understanding of how some of the 180-odd mushrooms known to contain mind-altering molecules work as it aims to enter them into clinical trials.

“One of the goals is to build a library of psychoactive fungi and developing scalable commercialization options,” said Jafferi. “We know of a few alkaloids based in these mushrooms but there’s a lot we don’t know yet.”

Aside from developing its research lab, Field Trip also plans to open a series of clinics in Toronto, New York, London and Los Angeles where doctors will be able to prescribe ketamine and monitor patients seeking mental health treatment, Jafferi said.

He added that unlike cannabis, which can be used as medicine in an “as-needed” basis, there is already documented research from the 1970s that suggest psychedelics are an effective treatment for mental health when they are prescribed in a controlled and safe setting.

“It’s not that far out for us to see doctors prescribing some psychedelics for a particular mental health disorder,” Jafferi said.

Story from Bloomberg News


What are vaping-associated illnesses and why are doctors concerned?

Medical community starting to realize vaping can be a ‘chemical insult to the lungs’

Traditional drug dealers are still formidable competitors in U.S. states where cannabis is legal. Governments planning for huge tax windfalls and investors expecting rapid market-share gains have to adjust to a slower burn.

Legalization of cannabis in California, currently the world’s largest recreational pot market, has been bumpy. Restrictions on adult use were lifted in January 2018 and the Californian legislature projected $1 billion in annual state and local taxes from cannabis sales within a few years. …

Read FULL Story in the Wall Street Journal


Lottery for next wave of Ontario cannabis stores being held today

Those chosen have until Aug. 28 to pay licensing fees, and provide a letter of credit for $50K to regulator


Calgary Folk Fest offers first ever legal cannabis consumption area

Jordan Kanygin , Video Journalist – Published Thursday, July 25, 2019

Calgary’s Folk Music Festival is celebrating its 40th birthday in 2019 with something that its never had before, a legal cannabis area.

In what is a first for a public event in Calgary, cannabis users will be able to smoke in a designated area at the back of the festival grounds.

“Given our audience, I think it made sense,” said Kerry Clarke, the festival’s artistic director.

“It made sense to accommodate some people who like to smoke, but to also accommodate the people who don’t like to be around it.”

Consumption will be allowed in the small fenced-in area, which is covered with signs indicating tobacco smoke and any other drug than cannabis is not allowed.

Folk fest worked with Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) and Calgary bylaw to make sure the area complies with provincial and city rules. Extra security guards had to be hired to watch the consumption area.

“It’s a place for people to go and safely consume, but there are a lot of restrictions to it,” Clarke said, pointing out it’s nowhere near the festival’s beer garden.

Clarke says festival organizers plan to make a decision on the cannabis site at future festivals based on feedback from concert-goers.

Folk fest welcomes about 53,000 people over the course of the weekend, with about 12,000 people per day. It runs Thursday through Sunday.

Story from CTV


Could magic mushrooms be the next drug legalized in Canada?

Elianna Lev – Yahoo Canada News –

Now that Canadians have access to legalized cannabis, a Vancouver-based activist is focused on administering another substance that’s said to have both medicinal and recreational benefits: magic mushrooms.

Dana Larsen is behind the Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary, an online shop that sells microdoses of psilocybin, the psychoactive component in magic mushrooms. Larsen explains that the shop sells 25 ml, 50 ml and 100 ml doses – about five to 10 per cent of what you’d take if you wanted to experience hallucinations.

“The idea behind microdosing is to get the medical benefits of mushrooms without the intensity or psychoactivity you’d get in a bigger dose,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “You use it a few times a week for a couple of months. It’s anti-addictive – you can’t take it everyday or it’ll stop working.”

While magic mushrooms are illegal in Canada, psilocybin is being studied for its potential to treat mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, amongst others.

In the U.S., Denver and Oakland have decriminalized magic mushrooms. In Canada, there’s currently no therapeutic products containing psilocybin that have been approved.

Despite this, Larsen intends to open a storefront in Vancouver, similar to the one he opened for cannabis several decades ago. People interested in ordering from his online store must submit a notice of diagnosis for one of the ailments psilocybin is believed to help with, along with photo ID. The dispensary only sells to customers within Canada.

Larsen says Vancouver police are aware of his activities but he doesn’t expect much engagement with them since they’re busy focused on more pressing matters, like the fentanyl crisis.

“I don’t think the VPD has much interest in spending the time and resources to come after me when I’m only selling microdoses to people with a confirmed medical need,” he says, adding that Health Canada and other levels of enforcement could potentially pose challenges in the future.

“Hopefully no one out there thinks microdosing is really an issue to bother cracking down on me on this” he says. “But there is definitely a risk involved.”

The future of psilocybin in Canada

Jordan Donich, a Toronto-based criminal lawyer, says in order for magic mushrooms to go the same route as cannabis, it will need to get political support.

“That’s how cannabis became legal,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “That’s what has to come from the grassroots of it, if it’s going to be legal.”

He says if there is political support to legalize magic mushrooms, the process will have to shadow the same process that cannabis went through to be fully legalized for recreational and medicinal consumption.

“It will probably have to follow the same blueprint that cannabis went through,” he says. “Not only for consumption but all the other ways it can impact the laws, like driving.”

Donich says that if a substance is proven to have medicinal benefits, it’s quite likely that it could be legally consumed for that purpose. The question is, are we going to have the same kind of public acceptance and accessibility as we do with cannabis?

“Then we have to ask ourselves from a policy perspective, is it a slippery slope,” he asks. “From a broader, policy objectives: What does it mean for crime or productivity?”

If magic mushrooms are the next substance to be legalized, voters are going to have to put a candidate in power for it to happen, Donich says.

“Because if that’s what the voters want, that’s the way it should be and that’s where it starts,” he says.

Larsen says some activists will be in court later this year to challenge psilocybin prohibition under Section 56 of the controlled drug act, which allows people to be exempt from any of the drug laws, and is typically used for research purposes.

“It will take years but I expect that this legal challenge will lead to a change in the law, especially for microdoses, when there’s no psychoactivity,” he says. “I find it hard to see a lot of opposition to that.”

Story in Yahoo News


New Roadside Cannabis Test Approved for Use in Canada


Medical Cannabis Users Feel ‘Elbowed Out’ By Canada’s Legalization

The lack of supply concerns Canadians who rely on the medicine.

Jon Rumley – Senior Front Page Editor, HuffPost Canada


Legal weed: Should past crimes be cleared?

Mike Bebernes Editor – Yahoo News 360 – J

What’s happening: On Tuesday, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. The legislation also includes a provision that will allow nearly 800,000 people to have existing offenses for buying or selling marijuana scrubbed from their records.

Several other states that have legalized pot have created similar methods for pot-related convictions to be either reduced in severity or cleared completely. There are roughly 600,000 marijuana arrests a year in the United States.

Why there’s debate: Proponents of these measures argue that people shouldn’t continue to be punishedfor having committed acts that are no longer illegal in their states. Some also make the case for expunging records on social justice grounds, given the significant racial imbalance among those who are convicted of drug crimes.

Others believe expungement makes economic sense, because it alleviates the expense of incarceration and makes it easier for former offenders to join the workforce and contribute to the tax base. Those who were punished when pot was illegal, some say, are left out of the booming marijuana industry, since most states that have legalized marijuana bar anyone with a criminal record from participating in the legal weed business.

Opponents of the idea argue that the convictions should stand because the offenses were crimes at the time they were committed. There is also, of course, significant resistance to marijuana legalization in general.

What’s next: Legal marijuana use seems likely to spread to even more states in the near future. Illinois was the first state to pass full legalization through the legislative process, rather than passing the measure through voter referendum. Lawmakers in states that are considering bills to legalize or decriminalize marijuana use, such as New York and New Jersey, have made expungement of pot offenses a core part of the debate.

Perspectives

Marijuana convictions can have a severe impact on people’s lives

“No one should underestimate how much even the most minor of misdemeanor convictions — including marijuana or trespassing or any kind of conviction — can affect someone’s ability to get a job, to get housing and to function fully in society.” — American University law professor Jenny Roberts to NPR

It’s unfair for people to still be punished by old laws when others are able to profit off new ones

“Before a single Wall Street-loving yacht owner makes another dollar off a demonized plant with long-known medicinal properties, every single person who was thrown into the criminal justice system for enjoying it should get their lives back as much as possible.” — Simon Moya-Smith, NBC News

Marijuana shouldn’t be legal

“Marijuana’s risks are different from opioids’, but they are no less real. Let’s remember that hard truth as we listen to promises that allowing the use of this drug will do no harm.” — Alex Berenson, New York Times

Pot arrests hold people back from making economic progress

“Once arrested, men and women are ensnared in a Kafkaesque system that critically compromises their ability to succeed and participate in society. An arrest record can prevent them from obtaining employment, housing, student loans, and litany of other collateral consequences.” — Khalil Cumberbatch, New York Daily News

Clearing records would help fix the racially imbalanced impact of the war on drugs

“Marijuana use in the U.S. is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet, on average, blacks are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.” — Kevin Aldridge, Cincinnati Enquirer

Racial inequities in criminal justice won’t be fixed by changing marijuana laws

“The research bolstering the argument that the disparities reflect discriminatory law enforcement is squishy at best, as is the claim that legalization in other states has made a substantial difference in reducing the disparities.” — editorial, Asbury Park Press

Past marijuana convictions are causing people of color to be left out of the growing legal cannabis industry

“Marijuana legalization and the businesses that profit from it are accelerating faster than efforts to expunge criminal records, and help those affected by them participate in the so-called ‘Green Boom.’ And the legal cannabis industry is in danger of becoming one more chapter in a long American tradition of disenfranchising people of color.” — Jenni Avins, QZ

Clearing a conviction should happen automatically or be easy

“The problem is the mechanism for getting one’s marijuana record expunged varies from state to state, and in most places it ranges from burdensome to nearly impossible.” — C.J. Ciaramella, Reason

Clearing pot convictions would not make a meaningful difference in incarceration levels

“It’s fair to say that marijuana prohibition — and even the war on drugs more broadly — is not the major driver of mass incarceration.” — German Lopez, Vox

Yahoo 360


Alison knows better:

#educationisthekey #themoreyouknow …

Is it safe to take magic mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms have been found to have minimal harmful effects and could potentially benefit those with depression. But they remain illegal, and there is a big risk if you eat the wrong type

The solution

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College, London, explains that psilocybin is similar to LSD, but weaker, and mimics serotonin activity in the brain. It reduces brain activity in information transfer centres such as the thalamus, which sits just above the brainstem. The thalamus tells the brain what movement and sensations it is detecting. Whatever the mechanism, shrooms can make you euphoric, at one with the world and searingly insightful. Colours and geometric patterns may be vivid. Carhart-Harris says magic mushrooms are not really recreational drugs: “It’s more a drug of self-exploration,” he says. The environment, though, is essential to having a positive experience – people need space, a “sober sitter” to take care of them – and they may need reassurance that they are not going mad. Carhart-Harris prefers the term “challenging experience” over “bad trip”: mushrooms can cause anxiety, panic and depersonalisation – but studies show people still value the experience as meaningful.

Studies do not show increased mental health problems from habitual use – unlike the effects of cocaine or cannabis. A BMJ article by psychiatrist James J H Rucker argues that psychedelic drugs may actually help depression and that there is no association with psychosis. A paper in science journal PLoS One found no evidence of flashbacks (such as hallucinations or panic attacks) from sole mushroom use. Mushrooms aren’t habit forming and are far less toxic to our internal organs than heroin or cocaine. However, you should not take them as they are against the law, and this article is not promoting their use in any way. I am also keen to point out that there is a big risk of accidentally taking the wrong kind of mushroom – psilocybin mushrooms are safe, but others, such as Amanita muscaria, are toxic and can destroy your kidneys or can even be fatal.

Carhart-Harris researches into the benefits of psychedelic drugs on depression, and says that most experiences on mushrooms are positive – people generally know they have taken something and that they are not going out of their minds. The effect is different, he says, to when people unknowingly take these drugs. And while mushrooms are illegal for everyone, young people in particular should stay away. “They are not for teenagers,” he warns. “They make you psychologically vulnerable and you need the capacity to make sense of the experience.”

The Guardian


First pot, then magic mushrooms? Decriminalization is spreading

As cannabis legalization spreads across the globe, another mind-altering drug is trying to follow in its tracks: magic mushrooms.

Denver voted in May to decriminalize the fungus that contains psilocybin, a psychedelic compound popularized by ’60s counterculture. Oakland, Calif., followed Denver’s lead a few weeks later and Oregon is trying to get a similar measure on the ballot for 2020.

Advocates say mushrooms have untapped medical potential that could be as big as cannabis, particularly for treating depression and addiction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted “breakthrough therapy” status in October to Compass Pathways Ltd. to test the drug for treatment-resistant depression, expediting the development process. The London-based company says it’s now proceeding with a large-scale clinical trial in Europe and North America.

In recent years, researchers at New York University found psilocybin caused a “rapid and sustained” reduction in anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer. And psychiatrists at Johns Hopkins University discovered mushrooms can help people quit smoking. Another study found the psychedelic can also help with alcohol dependence.

“The medical and therapeutic applications are becoming incontrovertible in a world where depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions,” said Ronan Levy, a former executive at Aurora Cannabis Inc. and co-founder of Toronto-based Field Trip Ventures, a startup focused on therapeutic psychedelics including mushrooms.

Levy believes it’s only a matter of time before others — including many former cannabis executives — realize the potential of psychedelics and start to look for investors. Interest is already starting to grow in some fields. Sanjay Singhal, the founder of Audiobooks.com, is funding research into psilocybin and other psychedelics, including a planned study into microdosing at the University of Toronto’s Center for Psychedelic Studies.

Unlike cannabis, however, research into psilocybin’s medical applications is limited by the fact that the drug remains illegal virtually everywhere. Denver, for example, has made personal use and possession of mushrooms “the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority” but selling and distributing the drug is still illegal.

This has been challenging for psychotherapists like Bruce Tobin, a registered clinical counsellor in Victoria who specializes in treatment of anxiety, depression and emotional trauma.

Tobin has asked the Canadian government for what’s known as a Section 56(1) exemption, which gives researchers and physicians access to substances that are prohibited under the country’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. He believes there are about 3,000 people in Canada suffering from end-of-life distress who aren’t responding to other depression treatments.

“This is a group for whom it’s literally true that they have nothing left to lose, and our argument is that for these particular people, psilocybin counts as a reasonable medical treatment for them right now,” even before advanced clinical trials have been completed, he said.

Tobin doesn’t expect to be successful but is prepared to go to court to fight the decision, much the same way marijuana advocates did in the landmark cases that led to medical pot legalization in 2001.

Although he sees the cannabis rulings as setting “extremely strong legal precedence” for psilocybin, he doesn’t want to see mushrooms follow the same path to legalization as pot. The high from mushrooms lasts longer and can be much more intense than cannabis and sometimes accompanied by hallucinations, nausea and the risk of a “bad trip.”

“I’m a little uneasy that there are many entrepreneurs in Canada that see psilocybin as the next big thing, and I want to discourage that,” Tobin said. He sees the drug as one part of an ongoing psychotherapy process that should only be done under the supervision of a specialist, and believes some people should never take psychedelics at all.

“I don’t want this to sound too literal, but between cannabis and psychedelics, it’s sort of the difference between conventional and nuclear weapons,” he said. “I don’t see psilocybin as something that will become legal in Canada or necessarily ever should be.”

Toronto Star


Cannabis edibles available for sale legally in mid-December

New cannabis products — like edibles, beverages, topicals and extracts — will be for sale legally in Canada in mid-December.

Regulations will come into effect on Oct. 17, and the products will be available two months later, Radio-Canada has learned.

Details on the final regulations and timeline will be released Friday by Health Canada.

It’s expected a limited selection of products will appear gradually in physical or online stores. Federal licence holders must provide 60 days notice to Health Canada of their plan to sell the products, and distributors and retailers authorized by provinces or territories will need time to purchase and obtain the new products and make them available for sale.

When dried cannabis became legal for recreational use last October, Ottawa continued its consultations on rules for edibles and other products. The consultations ended in February. Ottawa indicated at the time that regulations on cannabis edibles and concentrates would come into effect on Oct. 17, 2019.

The new regulations will give authorized distributors and retailers access to three new classes of cannabis products:

  • Edibles (candy, baked goods).
  • Cannabis extracts.
  • Cannabis “topicals” (ointments, oils, makeup).

Greg Boone, CEO of the P.E.I.-based cannabis firm Dosecann, said he’s excited the regulations have been finalized. For the past three years, he said, his company has been preparing for this announcement.

“That will get us into the full production of these edibles or value-added products,” he said. “And the goal is to build inventory to be able to satisfy the market that we believe exists across the country for these types of products.

“Things such as vape pens, potentially topicals, and edibles such as chocolates and potentially gummies. Those types of products will eventually be rolled out.”

What’s allowed, what’s not

Cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages and cannabis products containing tobacco, nicotine or caffeine will be prohibited.

Health Canada will maintain strict rules on labelling to prevent companies from making the products more attractive to young people.

The packaging and labelling must have a clear cannabis symbol, a health warning listing the product’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidol (CBD) content, limited use of logos and colours and child-resistant packaging.

Critics have voiced the fear that edibles resembling candy might be too attractive to children. The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommended a ban on any cannabis product that could appeal to children — such as those resembling popular food items or that are packaged to look like candy.

No cannabis in restaurants

Once the new regulations are in place, cannabis companies will be able to offer concentrates such as resin or cannabis oil for vaping. Vaping products with scents that could appeal to children would not be permitted.

Restaurants will not be allowed to serve food containing cannabis.

The market for this next-generation category of cannabis products is forecast to be worth about $2.7 billion annually,  according to a Deloitte report released earlier this month.

The Deloitte report said about 50 per cent of edibles users surveyed said they planned to consume cookies, brownies or chocolate at least once every three months.

With anticipated demand so high, the government’s plan to roll out regulations in October gives the industry time to build inventory.

Since cannabis was first legalized last year, supply shortages have persisted in many provinces. The introduction of edibles could drag out those shortages for years.

Anticipating robust demand, companies like Dosecann have been stockpiling cannabis for use in research and in edible products.

“We’re holding back or acquiring product basically to turn into oil, which we will put into our value-added products, where we see greater potential for profitability,” Boone said.

He said he expects his company of 45 employees will more than double in size by the end of the year.


Oakland residents won’t be busted for using ‘magic mushrooms’ and other psychedelic drugs

You may not see them popping up in dispensaries yet, but Oakland just allowed the use of “magic mushrooms” and other natural psychedelics.

On Tuesday, Oakland’s City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the use of ‘shrooms and other natural psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs, including cacti, becoming the second city in the country to take this step.
The drugs still aren’t necessarily legal, but the resolution means police cannot impose criminal penalties for using the natural drugs or use any city funds to investigate or enforce the criminal penalties. Even people currently being prosecuted for these kinds of drugs are now off the hook, according to the resolution.
Denver was the first city to enact this kind of ordinance, in May. But Oakland’s goes further: where Denver’s ordinance was focused on ‘”magic mushrooms” — which contain psilocybin — Oakland is decriminalizing any plant or fungi that has hallucinogenic or pschedelic properties. That’s a first for any US city, but it doesn’t apply to drugs such as LSD or MDMA, which are synthetic.

Backers are hoping it saves the city money

The resolution was introduced by City Council member Noel Gallo and backed by Decriminalize Nature Oakland, a group that promotes natural psychedelics for health benefits.
In Gallo’s agenda report, he referenced the use of peyote in Native American communities. The evening of the resolution’s signing, over 100 people testified about the way natural psychedelics have helped them.
Gallo is from a Native American family, and he told CNN these kinds of natural psychedelics were familiar to him while growing up in Oakland.
“We didn’t go to Walgreens for medication,” he said. “My grandma had plants in her backyard that would heal us.”
He also said that implementing the resolution would reduce the resources Oakland police use in investigating these crimes, so they could focus on more pressing matters in the city instead.

The drugs have been shown to have health benefits

The push for decriminalizing these natural psychedelics comes following research that they have health benefits, notably for people experiencing mental health issues, such as depression.
Last year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that psilocybin, which is in ‘shrooms, have medicinal benefits and a low risk for abuse.

See Story at CNN


Denver voters approve decriminalization of ‘magic mushrooms’

Already awash in legal marijuana, Denver endorses psilocybin as a mind-altering option

Voters in Denver approved the nation’s first referendum on decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms Tuesday. Though it took election officials until Wednesday afternoon to tabulate the vote, 50.6 percent of the 176,000 voters picked “yes,” and 49.4 percent voted no.

The voters endorsed a change in Denver law that will require police to make arresting people for personal possession or use of psilocybin mushrooms “the lowest law enforcement priority in the City and County of Denver.” The final vote total still must be certified by Denver election officials.

“We’re sending a clear signal to the rest of the country,” Kevin Matthews, the leader of the “Decriminalize Denver” movement, which placed Initiative 301 on the ballot, said. “that America is ready to talk about psilocybin. We have work to do, we’re ready for it and we couldn’t be happier.”

In early returns, it appeared the measure might not pass. City residents had three weeks to cast votes, and a large number of votes submitted on Tuesday enabled the yes votes to reverse a 4,700-vote deficit in the final count.

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado, the mushroom referendum affected only Denver. Hallucinogenic mushrooms remain illegal in Denver and the rest of Colorado, and selling them will still be a felony. They also remain a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. Matthews said they would not have been available in the city’s cannabis dispensaries and should still be used carefully.

The initiative also establishes a review panel to analyze the public safety, administrative, fiscal and health impacts of the decriminalization of mushrooms.

Denver’s law enforcement community was not thrilled by the prospect of more readily available hallucinogens. The Denver Police Department declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D), who was leading in his bid for a third term in a race that was still undecided Wednesday, said he opposed the initiative, and Denver District Attorney Beth McCann (D) also voiced opposition.

Kevin Matthews led the campaign for magic mushrooms in Denver, called “Decriminalize Denver.” (Hyoung Chang/DP)

“We’re still figuring out marijuana, and even though things are going well so far, we’re still measuring the impacts on the people of Denver,” McCann said. She said she feared that, if the measure passed, Denver would attract more drug users and mushroom-influenced drivers would create havoc.

After the measure passed, McCann’s spokeswoman, Carolyn Tyler, said the prosecutor supported the review committee created by the referendum and “we’ll study how it’s going to affect the city.” Tyler noted that “the language in the initiative is open-ended and it will take us some time to implement next steps,” including figuring out how a section about not funding prosecution of mushroom cases would be interpreted. Tyler said the measure would not change much in the district attorney’s office because “we are not putting people in jail for low-level possession.”

But a number of studies have shown that psilocybin can have positive, lasting effects on depression, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions and anxiety. Matthews said his own experience with mushrooms had helped him overcome major depression.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has granted “breakthrough therapy” status to study psilocybin for treating depression. The FDA describes breakthrough therapy as designed to expedite development of a drug after preliminary evidence shows “the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy.”

Matthews said psilocybin has been shown to help reduce dependence on opioids. “Given our national crisis with opioids, that’s a big one,” he said. He also noted that a large, and rising, percentage of the American populace is taking medication for mental health. “It’s pretty clear” from the FDA granting psilocybin “breakthrough status,” Matthews said, “that the federal government knows we need some other solutions as well.”

The Denver Psilocybin Initiative raised about $45,000 in support of the campaign, advertising mostly on social media and posters around Denver, and it gathered more than 9,000 signatures to get Initiative 301 on the ballot. There was no organized opposition.

Early totals on Tuesday night had the mushroom referendum trailing by as much as 55 percent to 45 percent, but by 1 a.m., the margin had narrowed to about three percentage points. The final total was released about 4:30 p.m. Mountain time.

“What an amazing 22 hours,” Matthews said. “We’re really looking forward to creating a positive relationship with city officials in Denver and working with and educating Denver residents, and being part of the continuing conversation.”

“No one should be arrested or incarcerated simply for using or possessing psilocybin or any other drug,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. ““If anything, this initiative doesn’t go nearly far enough. Given the scientific and public support for decriminalizing all drugs, as Portugal has done successfully, we need broader reforms that can scale back the mass criminalization of people who use drugs.”

Washington Post – Magic Mushroom Vote Denver


Health Canada allows more religious groups to import psychedelic ayahuasca

Published Wednesday, May 8, 2019 5:04PM EDT 

Health Canada has granted more special exemptions to religious groups in Ontario and Quebec to import a controversial hallucinogenic brew.

The agency has so far allowed five groups to use ayahuasca, a brew with psychoactive ingredients, without the fear of legal repercussions.

The first two ayahuasca exemptions were granted to groups in Montreal in 2017 — the Eclectic Centre for the Universal Flowing Light, also known as Céu do Montréal, and the Beneficient Spiritist Center União do Vegetal.

Three more exemptions were granted to the Ceu da Divina Luz do Montreal in May 2018, the Église Santo Daime Céu do Vale de Vida in Val-David, Que. in December 2018 and the Ceu de Toronto in November 2018.

The exemptions are valid for two years and are renewable.

Ayahuasca is otherwise illegal in Canada because it contains prohibited hallucinogens dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmaline.

“These exemptions provide these applicant’s designated members, senior members and registrants with the authority to possess, provide, transport, import, administer and destroy Daime Tea (ayahuasca), as applicable, when carrying out activities related to their religious practice, subject to the terms and conditions of the exemption,” Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette told CTVNews.ca.

Canada’s federal health agency has the ability to exempt people and substances from aspects of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for medical, scientific or public interest purposes.

Details of the exemptions, such as policies and procedures related to the use of Daime tea, are private and confidential to the applicants, Durette said.

Ayahuasca has been used by indigenous people in south America for centuries as a sacrament in shamanic ceremonies.

The ceremony is usually accompanied by purging, which includes vomiting and diarrhea, which is believed to release built-up emotions and negative energy.

Some mental health professionals believe the drink could have benefits in treating depression or addiction under strict controls.

Ayahuasca ceremonies have become popular with tourists in Peru, where it is legal.

Over the past decade at least 11 tourists have been killed in incidents linked to traditional medicine in South America, according to news reports.

In a study published in August 2018 in the journal Frontiers, 13 volunteers took dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, the naturally occurring psychedelic that is the primary ingredient in ayahuasca.

Most volunteers confirmed seeing or being surrounded by a brilliant light, mirroring reports of so-called near-death experiences in which people claim they felt a sense of inner peace and an out-of-body sensation of passing into another realm.

Most study volunteers said they were engulfed in a sensation of warmth and felt a vibration in their bodies. Others reported encountering foreign entities with a sense of emotion and gratitude.

CTV News


Retailers struggle to keep CBD on shelves in Canada

‘I don’t think the licensed producers really realized how popular CBD was,’ says one business owner

Retailers across Canada are struggling with a shortage of all cannabis, but there’s one product they’re especially desperate to keep on shelves: cannabidiol or CBD, a non-intoxicating extract vaunted for its purported health benefits.

The extract, most commonly sold as oil, has been promoted as a natural cure for pain, anxiety and insomnia, despite limited medical research. Many customers are coming in asking for it, especially first-time and older users, store owners say.

“I don’t think the licensed producers really realized how popular CBD was, so there’s none available, really,” said Krystian Wetulani, founder of City Cannabis Co. in Vancouver.

“When something becomes available on the cannabis wholesale ordering sheet, everybody tries to get all that’s available. It’s like a race. That’s one of the biggest opportunities we’re facing in the legalized market.”

Companies are ramping up hemp growth to produce the trendy extract, but observers expect the shortage to persist until late this year. Meanwhile, scientists are working to separate the hype from reality when it comes to medical claims about the drug.

While licensed producers were preparing for legalization last year, they assumed most of the demand was going to be for cannabis high in THC, the intoxicating ingredient, said Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow.

The buzz around CBD grew with the passage last year of a U.S. law known as the farm bill, which allows for the growing of hemp for the purposes of extracting cannabidiol, he said. Similar regulations came into effect in Canada in October.

But it was the U.S. law that drove up media coverage and social-media influencer chatter, Malik said. Kim Kardashian West recently posted on Instagram about her “CBD baby shower,” where she invited guests to make cannabidiol-infused salt scrubs and body oil.

“Because of the farm bill passing, the sexiness or the in-vogue profile of CBD went through the roof,” said Malik. “The demand side just blew up and caught everyone by surprise, on both sides of the border.”

Chef Travis Petersen adds THC distillate to geoduck crudo dishes during a multi-course cannabis-infused meal in Vancouver last year. The 34-year-old former MasterChef Canada contestant will then dose the forthcoming multi-course dinner with the appropriate amount of THC and CBD. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Extracting CBD from hemp, which is low-THC and high-CBD, is more affordable because the crop can be grown outdoors on a large scale under Canadian rules that are less restrictive than those for producing high-THC marijuana, Malik said.

Biome Grow has partnered with CBD Acres, which Malik said will supply his company with up to 20,000 kilograms of cannabidiol concentrate annually in order to serve Canadian and international markets.

The CBD shortage affects jurisdictions across Canada, said provincial distributors in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“There has been a significant learning curve for licensed producers as they transition into supplying a new market,” said B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch in a statement. “Licensed producers are working towards becoming more efficient, however many of their expansion projects have not yet been fully ramped up.”

‘It has been a challenge’

The branch added it expects supply to increase in the second half of 2019 as expansions come online and more producers receive licences to enter the marketplace.

Beverley Ware, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp., said while it has “CBD-leaning” products, it has not been able to consistently carry pure CBD oil due to the national shortage.

Customers looking for CBD products would prefer not to smoke them and don’t want the added THC, said Darrell Smith, spokesperson for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp.

“It has been a challenge to source a steady supply of these products as they are often reserved for the medical cannabis community,” he said.

Research into health benefits limited

Despite the hype, research into the health benefits of cannabidiol has been fairly limited, said Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a psychiatrist at McGill University who has studied the drug.

Gobbi’s team published a study in the journal Pain last October that pinpointed the effective dose of CBD for safe relief of pain and anxiety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved a CBD drug to treat children with severe epilepsy.

But more research is still needed, particularly on CBD’s effects on anxiety and insomnia, Gobbi said.

Some patients who try it experience no effects and studies have also indicated a placebo effect in some people with anxiety, depression and pain, she added.

“Today there is a dominant culture of cannabis, a dominant culture of everything that is natural is good. This is why … cannabidiol is so popular.”

CBC- CBD Shortage


MIKE SMITH “BUBBLES” FROM THE TRAILER PARK BOYS STARTS A GO-FUND-ME FOR FAN WITH CLUSTER HEADACHES AKA ‘SUICIDE HEADACHE’ TREATMENT

Hi folks, it’s Mike Smith/Bubbles from the Netflix series ‘Trailer Park Boys’ here. I’m starting this GoFundMe campaign for a long time Trailer Park Boys fan, and now our friend, Tom Termeer.

Tom is from London, Ontario, Canada and he suffers from what a lot of doctors refer to as ‘the most painful disease known to science – Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalgia, or more commonly known as the Cluster Headache, or ‘Suicide Headache’. It’s a very rare condition that affects .01% of the worlds population, but it is aptly nicknamed the suicide headache because the pain can be so intense that, in many cases, people afflicted by it simply aren’t able to withstand the pain, and take their own lives to escape it.

And if you watch the video below, you can begin to understand why.  Since 2005, Tom has been suffering from the chronic version of this disease, which means he endures this excruciating pain on a daily basis, often multiple times a day, for anywhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours, per attack. Just take a minute to think about that. Every. Single. Day. Multiple times. Since 2005.  Since getting to know Tom better over the past several months he’s been truly inspiring to me.

During the precious moments he has where he isn’t suffering through one of these horrendous episodes, he uses that time to help the people around him, including working tirelessly to help the homeless. Meeting him, talking to him, and seeing first hand not only what he endures on a daily basis, but seeing the lengths he goes to help other people, despite his own condition, has been a truly humbling experience.

There is no known cure for this disease. BUT there is a clinic in NY that I’ve arranged to send Tom and his wife to, that is going to perform a promising new stem cell procedure on him, which hopefully will give him some much needed relief and healing. He deserves this chance to have any amount of improvement for his quality of life. Every penny I raise from this page is going directly to Tom’s treatment and any follow ups that we can arrange.

I’ve also setup a page at: www.cameo.com/bubblestpb where, if you haven’t seen it yet, you can pay to have celebrities record you a personalized shoutout.  I thought this might be a fun way to give something back to you hardcore Trailer Park Boys who wanna donate, so every penny I raise from selling cameos will also go to Tom’s treatment. On behalf of myself, and Tom, thanks for taking the time to read this and for anything you’re able to contribute! Every dollar counts!! Bubbles 😎

GoFundMe – Bubbles


Man challenges Ontario pot rules, says they exclude those with disabilities