Legal marijuana just went on sale in Illinois.

Here are all the states where cannabis is legal.

USA Legal States for Cannabis


Why are Shrooms Illegal?

It’s been almost 50 years since shrooms were banned internationally, but recent developments suggest that the days of prohibition are numbered.

James McClure – July 15, 2020

Magic mushrooms are illegal in nearly every country thanks to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances — an international treaty developed in 1971 by the United Nations to prohibit the production, distribution, and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic substances. Since the Seventies, more than 180 countries have pledged support to the treaty.

But the United Nations doesn’t have the power or resources to police the streets in all of those countries, so the onus has been on each member state to develop its own laws to prohibit shrooms and other psychedelics.

Here’s how shrooms became illegal in America, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Why are shrooms illegal in America?

The United States was one of the first countries to prohibit psilocybin, but thanks to the efforts of psychedelic researchers and grassroots advocates, America might also become one of the very first nations to knock down prohibition through local reform legislation and nationwide FDA approval of psilocybin in assisted psychotherapy.

America officially outlawed shrooms in 1968 through an amendment to the Food, Drug and Narcotics Act known as the Staggers-Dodd bill, which banned the possession of psilocybin (the main compound in shrooms) as well as psilocin (the compound that psilocybin metabolizes into after being ingested).

Psilocybin prohibition, however, wasn’t seriously enforced until the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1971, which marked the beginning of America’s disastrous War on Drugs. Under the CSA, psilocybin and psilocin are listed alongside heroin as Schedule I drugs, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use—at least, according to the federal government.

Scientific research (both from present day clinical trials and pre-Drug War experimentation) and centuries of ritualistic use in indigenous communities, however, have proven otherwise. Classifying magic mushrooms as Schedule I defied the findings of psychedelic research from the 1950s through the 1970s, showing that mushrooms carried promise as a potential treatment for alcoholism, schizophrenia, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and other conditions.

Story from Double Blind


Group Calls for Canada to Decriminalize Drug Possession

Peter Zimonjic – CBC News

Two years after Justin Trudeau legalized cannabis, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says arresting people for having small amounts of other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, is “ineffective.”

As Canada continues to battle an opioid epidemic, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is calling on federal lawmakers to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal consumption.

CACP’s president, Chief Const. Adam Palmer, said it’s time to rethink how police and governments approach the use and abuse of illegal drugs in order to save lives.

“Arresting individuals for simple possession of illicit drugs has proven to be ineffective. It does not save lives,” Palmer said. “The CACP recognizes substance use and addiction as a public health issue. Being addicted to a controlled substance is not a crime and should not be treated as such.

“We recommend that Canada’s enforcement-based approach for possession be replaced with a health-care approach that diverts people from the criminal justice system.”

CACP is a non-profit that represents about 1,300 police chiefs from federal, First Nations, provincial, regional, transportation and military police services across the country.

Palmer said that, as an alternative to the criminal model, partnerships could be formed between social services, police, the health-care sector and governments to ensure drug users get access to the treatment they need.

The focus of police efforts, he said, should be on cracking down on drug trafficking and the illegal production and importation of drugs — a task the police are better suited to address.

Palmer said such a shift in policing would require changes at the federal level to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In 2018, the CACP tasked a committee with exploring the impacts on public safety and policing of moving toward decriminalization.

#defundthepolice

That report, delivered this month, concluded that substance abuse is a public health issue and that taking a public health approach to the problem would lead to lower rates of crime, overdoses and blood-borne diseases.

Palmer was asked about the #defundthepolice movement on social media and whether police forces in Canada are willing to see their funding diverted toward social services or health care.

He said that in Vancouver, where he serves as chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department, police are already looking the other way on cases of simple possession in order to focus resources on trafficking and production — so there may not be much money to divert.

Palmer did say he was willing to discuss the notion of redirecting police funding to other initiatives if all affected parties are consulted.

A statement from Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and Justice Minister David Lametti said they welcomed the “endorsement of a holistic approach” to dealing with the opioid crisis.

“We appreciate efforts made by law enforcement officers to consider alternative options to criminal charges for simple possession of illicit drugs in appropriate cases, and recognize the importance of reducing barriers to treatment, as well as integrated partnerships between law enforcement and health and social services,” the statement said.

The ministers went on to say that the federal government would continue to work with substance abuse experts, first responders and law enforcement to further their own public health approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic.

“Our government remains committed to advancing evidence-based responses to help reverse the trend of opioid overdose deaths and other substance-related harms in Canada.”

Story from CBC


LSD. Good for your health?

This Canadian researcher says it just might be — if you take enough

By Omar Mosleh – Toronto Star – Edmonton Bureau
Friday, Feb. 28, 2020

EDMONTON—Looking for a healthy trip? It turns out a massive dose of LSD might — and let’s really stress might — be just what the doctor ordered.

You may have heard of microdosing: When people consume psychedelics, usually LSD or magic mushrooms, in miniscule quantities for purported cognitive and mental health benefits.

But what about macrodosing?

A University of British Columbia adjunct professor and researcher into psychedelic drugs co-authored a study which examines the impact of people overdosing on LSD. It found that for three people, who consumed extremely large quantities of the drug —in one case as much as 550 times a normal recreational dose — didn’t have any long-term adverse effects and can actually have demonstrable health benefits.

But before you get too excited about trading in your acid reflux for acid flashbacks, the benefits are mostly for mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and substance-use disorder.

But in one of three cases examined in the report, a woman reported the LSD overdose helped her with physical pain in her foot that had bothered her for roughly 20 years.

The report cautions that the information is “novel” as no clinical trial research has been done with such quantities. The data is anecdotal, no blood or urine samples were available and the exact dosages were approximate.

Psychedelics are a class of drugs that produce mental, visual and auditory changes. The word has replaced the outdated term hallucinogen. LSD is one of the most powerful psychedelics and is one of the few recreational drugs measured in micrograms (one millionth of a gram).

“It wouldn’t pass ethics review because they would argue it’s not safe,” Haden explained.

So researchers decided to look at accidental overdoses. The people in the study reported taking anywhere from 1,000 micrograms to 55 milligrams, which would be the equivalent of a 550 times a normal recreational dose (about 100 micrograms).

In the first case report, a 15-year-old girl with bipolar disorder accidently consumed 1,000 micrograms of LSD instead of 100 due to a decimal point error when the supplier was diluting liquid LSD into a glass of water. Observers reported erratic behavior for nearly seven hours, including her lying in a fetal position with her arms and fists clenched and seizures.

She was transported to a hospital where she was treated for the seizure. The next day, something miraculous happened.

The girl’s father reportedly entered the hospital room and the girl told him “it’s over.” But she wasn’t referring to the LSD trip – she meant her bipolar disorder was cured.

“This case report documents a significant improvement in mood symptoms, including reductions in mania with psychotic features, following an accidental LSD overdose, changes that have been sustained for almost 20 years,” the report states.

The second case examines a 26-year-old woman who accidently consumed 500 microgram while two weeks pregnant. Her son is now 18 years old and healthy.

“The second case documents how an accidental overdose of LSD early in the first trimester of pregnancy did not negatively affect the course of the pregnancy or have …other negative developmental effects on the child.”

The report says she “blacked out” for roughly 12 hours and was vomiting frequently. But after the vomiting episode she reported feeling “pleasantly high.”

The next day, foot pain she had experienced since her early 20s as a result of Lyme disease was gone. She had been prescribed morphine for 10 years to contend with the pain.

“She continued microdosing LSD with daily morphine until January 2018, when she stopped the morphine and all other pain medications, as she believed that her pain was significantly reduced enough that pain medications were unnecessary,” the report states.

However, it states that she did experience an increase in anxiety, depression and social withdrawal after discontinuing morphine.

The report ultimately concludes that there appear to be “unpredictable, positive” effects ranging from improvements in mental illness to reduction in physical pain.

Haden said no one really knows why this is the case.

But he believes it has something to do with psychedelics allowing people to tap into what he calls “unconscious material,” our subconscious emotions and memories that we’re not aware of.

“We live our lives largely unconsciously,” Haden explains, using the example of when you’re driving to work and thinking about what you’ll make for dinner rather than your foot on the gas pedal.

When a person experiences trauma, it’s stored deep in the brain, Haden said.

“That stuff gets buried and we don’t have access to it. … And you can’t contain it or control it because it’s in your unconscious mind,” he said.

Enter psychedelics. Haden says this class of drugs has the ability to tap into the unconscious thoughts and feelings so they can be analyzed and addressed in a clinical manner. It’s part of a process he calls “psychedelic healing.”

It’s still unclear why these people reported health benefits from overdosing on LSD.

“My speculation is that it has something to do with new neural pathways,” Haden said, or an ability to effectively reset parts of the brain.

He hopes the report will encourage more clinical studies into the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs. He wants to see them eventually legalized and offered as a service by “psychedelic supervisors,” who could train people on how to use the drugs safely and offer therapy for conditions like depression and anxiety.

“The more we can observe, either anecdotally or through the lens of trial research, the benefits of psychedelics … if public opinion says these are not taboo anymore, these are something we can actually look at in terms of (therapy).”

Story from The Toronto Star


Ontario eyes OK’ing cannabis lounges, cafes

Toronto Sun – February 10, 2020

Premier Doug Ford’s government said it is considering allowing cannabis lounges and cafes as it moves toward an open market for pot in the province, and is asking the public to weigh in on the proposal.

The government said Monday it will consult on the possibility of so-called “consumption venues” as well as special occasion permits that would apply to outdoor festivals and concerts.

In a posting on its regulatory registry, which closes March 10, the government said it wants to hear from the public before committing to any direction, and gave no timeline to make changes.

“We are asking Ontarians to share their feedback as we explore certain expanded cannabis-related business opportunities as part of our responsible approach to protecting families and communities,” Attorney General Doug Downey said in a statement. “What we hear from the public and expert groups will help to inform possible next steps.”

The Progressive Conservative government has said its ultimate goal is an open cannabis market, but a supply shortage forced it to start with a limited lottery system for retail licences shortly after marijuana was legalized in 2018.

In December, the province announced it was doing away with the controversial lottery system that was criticized as a cumbersome process preventing the province from staying competitive.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said it has received more than 700 applications for retail operator licences since the system was scrapped on Jan. 1.

Downey said allowing greater competition in the retail sector will help combat the black market.

“Ontario continues to take a responsible approach to cannabis retail sales across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market while keeping our kids and communities safe,” he said Monday.

Robyn Rabinovich, a business strategy lead at strategy firm Hill+Knowlton who advises cannabis sector clients, said the proposal could legitimately help the Tories advance their goal of combating the black market by giving consumers another option to buy legal cannabis.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for businesses like cafes and restaurants to start making steps into the cannabis industry,” she said. “This could ensure it’s done in a regulated and safe way.”

Rabinovich said special occasion permits would give the government a chance to further regulate cannabis use in some public spaces and acknowledge the reality of post-legalization Ontario.

“If you’re at a music festival and you look around, it’s clear that cannabis is being consumed,” she said. “If they were to organize it and regulate it, it may not be in the presence of minors or be causing any harm to others at the event.”

Ontario’s previous Liberal government was exploring the idea of cannabis consumption lounges in 2018, announcing consultations just months before it was defeated in the most recent provincial election.

Story from The Toronto Sun


Famed investor Michael Novogratz said psychedelics will be the next ‘short-term bubble’ after cannabis — and predicts Compass Pathways will go public this year

Fresh News Now – January 29, 2020

Investor and crypto evangelist Michael Novogratz says medicine derived from psychedelic drugs will be the next “short-term” bubble at a hedge-fund conference in Florida.

Novogratz backed Compass Pathways, a UK-based startup working on bringing drugs derived from psilocybin — the active ingredient in magic mushrooms — to market.
He said he expects the startup to go public later this year.

Famed investor Michael Novogratz made a big bet on psychedelics — one he expects will pay off soon.

“I’m positive this will be the next short-term bubble because it’s such a positive story,” the former Goldman Sachs partner, hedge fund manager, and cryptocurrency evangelist said at the Context Summits conference in the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami’s South Beach.

To that end, Novogratz has backed UK-based Compass Pathways, a biotech working on bringing drugs derived from psilocybin — the active ingredient in magic mushrooms — to market.

“There’s an awakening that these old drugs, these old plants, magic mushrooms or ayahuasca or the Iboga root from Africa have real positive medicinal qualities,” Novogratz said.

Novogratz predicted the company will go public “before the end of the year.”

A spokesperson for Compass Pathways told Business Insider that “we are always looking at options to ensure continued growth and funding,” but that the company doesn’t comment on “speculation.”

The company raised a $32 million Series A funding round in October of 2018, per the data provider Crunchbase.

Psychedelic drugs hold promise for a range of ailments, from mental health to obesity

While the science is in its early stages, top-notch institutions like Johns Hopkins have developed programs to study the effects of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, and others on a range of ailments including depression, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and even smoking cessation.

Story from Fresh News Now


Move over, pot: Psychedelic drug companies gear up to list on Canadian stock exchanges

Companies developing treatments from LSD, ketamine and the active ingredient in magic mushrooms are finding interest from investors, including Kevin O’Leary

Bloomberg News – Kristine Owram – February 11, 2020

The first companies developing medical treatments from psychedelic drugs like LSD, ketamine and the active ingredient in magic mushrooms are gearing up to list on Canadian stock exchanges.

Mind Medicine Inc., which is undertaking clinical trials of psychedelic-based drugs, intends to list on Toronto’s NEO Exchange by the first week of March, said JR Rahn, the company’s co-founder and director. A NEO spokesman confirmed the listing, which is pending final approvals.

The company plans to list via a reverse takeover under the ticker MMED. It’s not yet generating revenue and is targeting a valuation of approximately US$50 million, Rahn said. Mind Medicine counts former Canopy Growth Corp. co-chief executive officer Bruce Linton as a director and Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary as an investor.

“Our ambition is to be one of the first publicly listed neuro-pharmaceutical companies developing psychedelic medicines,” Rahn said in a phone interview.

CLINICAL TRIALS

For those who are still getting used to legal marijuana, the idea of publicly traded companies working with psychedelic drugs like MDMA and psilocybin, which is derived from magic mushrooms, may sound a bit out there.

Yet a growing number of companies are conducting clinical trials of psychedelic treatments for everything from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder, and some have recently received the blessing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This has created a legal way for these companies to conduct research on otherwise illegal drugs, opening the door to public listings.

In late 2018, the FDA gave “breakthrough therapy” status to a psilocybin treatment developed by London-based Compass Pathways Ltd. for clinical depression, expediting the development process.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Mind Medicine is preparing a Phase 2 clinical trial into the use of a psychedelic called ibogaine to treat opioid addiction, which will be conducted in New York and governed by the FDA.

Compass Pathways declined to comment on whether it’s planning a public listing, but the company is “always looking at options to ensure continued growth and funding,” chief communications officer Tracy Cheung said in an email.

The Canadian Securities Exchange, which has become the go-to bourse for U.S. cannabis companies that can’t list in their home country, is also expecting listings from psychedelic drug companies in 2020.

The FDA has “given clearance for a variety of trials at this point and it looks like they are going to be expanding that framework,” said Richard Carleton, CEO of the Canadian Securities Exchange. “If that is the case then I’m certain we’ll see our first issuers probably before the middle of the year.”

INSTITUTIONAL CAPITAL

There’s growing investor interest in psychedelics, said Ronan Levy, executive chairman of Field Trip Psychedelics Inc. Field Trip is building a network of clinics focused on ketamine-enhanced psychotherapy, with the first one opening in Toronto next month and others planned for New York City and Los Angeles. It’s also conducting research into psilocybin at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

Last week, Field Trip closed a Series A financing round that raised US$8.5 million from a variety of investors including cannabis-focused asset manager Silver Spike Capital and Harris Fricker, the former CEO of GMP Capital Inc., which helped a number of marijuana companies go public.

The funding round attracted interest from all over the world, including “some very large Silicon Valley tech investors and entrepreneurs,” Levy said.

Field Trip is considering a public listing, although Levy also sees further opportunities to raise private funding, he said. Unlike cannabis, which remains federally illegal in the U.S., the work psychedelic companies are doing is legal. This creates “greater opportunity to access growth capital from private investors in the U.S. who may not touch cannabis,” he said.

It also sets the industry apart from cannabis, which has seen stock prices collapse amid slower-than-expected sales in Canada and ongoing federal illegality in the U.S.

“I think that the psychedelics industry could be much bigger than the cannabis industry because it’s going to attract institutional capital and already is starting to,” Rahn said. “It’s also going to be a more concentrated space because the barriers to entry are much higher.”

Story from – Bloomberg News


DC election board allows proposal to decriminalize psychedelics

The D.C. Board of Elections agreed Wednesday to allow the proposal to be put up for a citywide vote in November, news outlets reported.

The initiative aims to place the use of psychedelic plants, often referred to as magic mushrooms, among the lowest priorities for law enforcement.

The proposal now moves to a challenge period in which proponents must gather 25,000 signatures to officially place the measure on the ballot. The signatures need to be obtained by July 1, news outlets reported.

Melissa Lavasani proposed the initiative. She told news outlets that she suffered from depression after giving birth to her second child. She said psychedelic mushrooms helped ease her condition. Wyly Gray, a Marine, told The Washington Post that psychedelics helped him deal with post-traumatic stress after he returned home from serving in Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Story from The Associated Press – WTOP


Five things to know about munching on cannabis edibles

Vancouver Coastal Health is sharing a few reminders for those munching on cannabis goodies for the first time.

POSTMEDIA NEWS/Vancouver Sun – February 7, 2020

Curious about cannabis but not sure about smoking or vaping it? You could always try edibles.

With edibles now available through licensed dispensaries and more products expected throughout 2020, Vancouver Coastal Health is sharing a few reminders for those munching on cannabis goodies for the first time.

“We’ve seen for many years that it’s easy for people, especially those who have less experience with cannabis, to consume more cannabis than they mean to with edibles,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with VCH.

“Because the psychoactive effects of cannabis are a little different and take longer to kick in when digested, people often make the mistake of taking additional doses. But once the effects kick in, they can find themselves dealing with unpleasant sensations and feeling more impaired than they expected to be.”

Here are five things to know about munching on cannabis edibles.

Start small.

If you’re new to edibles, it’s best to start with a small dose and see how your body responds before increasing the amount you eat. Edibles can often pack a bigger punch than smoking cannabis so until you know what works for you, start small. Be sure to always check the THC levels in your edible and be mindful that a dose of 2.5 to 5 mg of THC is often enough for many. Cut an edible into halves or quarters if needed.

Wait and see.

Edibles might take a bit longer to kick in than smoking so be sure to wait and see before eating more. Be patient — wait at least an hour to feel the full effect. Ingesting edibles on a full or empty stomach can also affect the amount of time it takes to feel the effects. Plan ahead and be sure you’ll be in a comfortable place approximately an hour after ingesting your edible.

Avoid too much and avoid mixing.

Avoid eating too much cannabis, using strong extracts or mixing it with alcohol, as this can cause anxiety, vomiting and fainting for those unfamiliar with how their body will respond. Eating a meal before ingesting an edible can help moderate the intensity of any possible negative effects. In short, keep it simple until you know what to expect or what works for your system.

Don’t drive if impaired.

Health officials recommend not driving or engaging in other potentially dangerous activities when enjoying edibles, as cannabis can impair co-ordination, reaction time and other cognitive abilities. While the time it takes for the effects to wear off can vary from person to person, experts recommend waiting at least six hours after ingesting cannabis to drive.

Don’t panic.

This one will be hard but do your best. If you start to feel the effects and it’s not what you expected or you think you’re too high, don’t panic. Drink some water, eat something and find a safe place where you can get cosy and comfortable and wait it out. Ground yourself by laying down and taking a nap if you need to, or keep yourself near a washroom or bin if you think you might vomit. The effects should wear off between two to eight hours.

Other things to remember when ingesting cannabis edibles:

• Label and store all cannabis securely, particularly when many edibles look like regular food or candy. Store cannabis products away from regular food products and ensure they are out of reach from children and pets, to prevent accidental consumption.

• Be sure to obtain your cannabis from a legal source or a source that you trust.

• If you or someone you know doesn’t feel well after consuming cannabis, call the B.C. Poison Control Centre at 1-800-567-8911 or 604-682-5050. You can also call 911 or visit your local hospital emergency department.

Story from Vancouver Sun


Ontario to ban flavoured vaping products from being sold in convenience stores

Carly Weeks – Health Reporter – February 3, 2020

The Ontario government is moving to ban most flavoured vaping products from convenience stores and gas stations and cap nicotine levels in a bid to prevent young people from using e-cigarettes.

Health Minister Christine Elliott will present proposed regulatory changes to provincial cabinet members in the coming days.

The new rules won’t apply to specialty adult-only vape shops, which require proof of age to make a purchase, and sell only vaping products. Those stores will still be able to sell a variety of flavoured products and e-cigarettes with higher nicotine content.

Governments across Canada are wrestling with how to address youth vaping rates, which have soared in recent years. In December, the federal government announced it would ban most forms of e-cigarette advertising that young people could see, including on social media, and it has promised new flavour restrictions this year. The government has also suggested it might cap nicotine levels in vaping products.

Under the current federal law, companies cannot promote e-cigarette flavours that could appeal to youth, such as candy, dessert or soft drink flavours.

Health Canada recently singled out specialty vape shops as having “unacceptable” levels of non-compliance for federal vaping laws. In a December letter to retailers, the department said more than 80 per cent of specialty vape shops that inspectors visited last year were selling and promoting products in violation of federal law. The most common infractions were promoting flavours that appeal to young people and using testimonials or endorsements in product promotions. Under the law, testimonials or endorsements refers to using people, characters or animals in ads.

Only two other provinces – Nova Scotia and PEI – have moved forward with flavour bans. As of April 1, no retailer in Nova Scotia will be permitted to sell any flavoured vaping product other than tobacco or unflavoured e-cigarettes. Specialty adult-only stores will not be exempt. PEI is in the midst of consultations on vaping restrictions, and the province’s Health Minister has promised to ban flavoured products in the coming months.

Travis Kann, a spokesman for Ms. Elliott, said the province is finalizing its new policies, and will “take a balanced approach that keeps Ontario children and youth safe while also avoiding fuelling an underground market for unsafe vapour products.”

Under Ontario’s plan, convenience stores and gas stations would no longer be permitted to sell any flavoured e-cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco and menthol. The government also wants to limit the nicotine content of any vaping product sold by those retailers to 20 milligrams a millilitre, which is the same level the B.C. government has proposed.

Some vaping products now on the market come with nicotine concentrations as high as 59 milligrams a millilitre.

Ontario’s proposed changes would affect the big-name e-cigarette brands that sell primarily in convenience stores, such as Juul and Vype. Both companies sell single-use e-cigarette pods that come in flavours such as cucumber, mango, strawberry and vanilla. Earlier this month, Juul Labs Canada announced it would temporarily halt production of all of its e-cigarette flavours in Canada except mint and tobacco. The company said it would sell its existing stock of flavours, and manufacture no more until the federal government announces its new rules.

Darryl Tempest, executive director of the Canadian Vaping Association, which represents specialty adult-only vape shops, said he supports Ontario’s proposals. Restricting the products sold in convenience stores can help discourage youth uptake, but allowing the full spectrum of products in specialty shops helps provide options for adult smokers looking for a less harmful alternative, he said.

But Dave Bryans, chief executive officer of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, said the changes put the interests of specialty vape shops before those of convenience-store retailers. Mr. Bryans said he had a meeting with Ms. Elliott recently in which the association asked the province to adopt industry-wide restrictions such as banning the display of vaping products in all retail environments instead of restricting flavours.

“My fear is that the government’s not taking its time in understanding this,” Mr. Bryans said.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said restricting where flavoured e-cigarettes are sold could help reduce access and make laws easier to enforce. But he added that it would be better if Ontario applied its proposed new rules to the entire industry.

“What Ontario’s doing could be further strengthened with comprehensive restrictions on flavours for all stores, as well as nicotine levels,” Mr. Cunningham said.

Story from The Globe and Mail


The Trouble with Crime Statistics

It’s surprisingly hard to say what makes crime go up or down.


Cannabis edibles now available online through Ontario Cannabis Store

TORONTO – Ontario cannabis shoppers scooped up thousands of edibles and vape products within an hour of them going on sale for the first time on the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website.The online retailer experienced 2,000 transactions on Thursday in the hour after 70 products — cannabis-infused chocolates, cookies, soft chews, mints, tea and vapes — were made available at 9 a.m. local time.Some products sold out within a half-hour, said the cannabis distributor’s spokesperson Daffyd Roderick.

“At 8:59 a.m., we had 3,000 people in the lobby hitting refresh, waiting to get online, so there was obviously some excitement in the marketplace,” he said.“We were sold out of soft chew products within 25 minutes.”

The rollout is part of Cannabis 2.0, where the country is allowing a second wave of products like edibles, extracts and topicals to hit the market following the October 2018 legalization of cannabis in Canada.

The frenzied pace of sales online Thursday comes after the products first appeared on store shelves last week. Such items were approved for sale in Canada in mid-December, but several provinces, including Ontario, delayed their rollout.

When the OCS website was first launched and the first round of cannabis products went on sale in 2018, Roderick said the site experienced “high demand,” causing online deliveries to take as long as five days to arrive. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in the first 24 hours the OCS processed 38,000 orders.

Roderick said the online debut of the edible and vape products went well, but acknowledged that there were “a few bumps.”

“Because there were so many people simultaneously refreshing, their page would drop and then they would hit refresh a couple times and they would get back,” he said.

“It’s similar when you’re buying concert tickets or anything else where everyone is online trying to do the same thing at the exact same moment, so we did face some challenges but that’s completely sorted itself out now.”

When shoppers Thursday did make it through to the site, which was down between 12:01 a.m. and 9 a.m. to prepare for the launch, Roderick said they were most interested in soft chews.

Several packs were priced for between $6.65 and $12.35 and came in flavours like raspberry vanilla, peach mango, pineapple orange, apple green tea and grapefruit hibiscus.

Roderick figured their popularity stemmed from soft chews having a “convenience factor” and because “not everybody loves chocolate.”

There were only three kinds of chocolate left for shoppers by noon, when The Canadian Press reviewed the website.

Roderick would not share when more stock will arrive or how much of each product was available for sale, but said its allotment is equal to physical stores and the distributor has a limited supply it has been provided with by licensed producers.

“We know that they’re doing their best to ramp up their production capacity and like everyone else, we’re waiting and watching for when those products are going to come,” he said. “The producers are very interested in getting these products to market, so they’re working as quickly as they can.”

The OCS expects cannabis topicals, concentrates and beverages to be sold in the coming months.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.

Story from The Canadian Press


Ontario Cannabis Store to begin selling edibles online Thursday

By Shayla Vize – January 16, 2020

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will begin selling 70 new items online Thursday including cannabis edibles.

The new items have been tested by Health Canada and will be available for purchase starting at 9 a.m.

Among the new products are cannabis-infused chocolates, cookies, soft chews, mints, tea, and vapes.

Last Monday, the OCS began selling the items in-store.

OCS President Cal Bricker says he is hoping the expansion of products will help combat sales of cannabis through the underground market.

Story from CHCH


Ontario to scrap pot shop lottery system, will open more stores in new year

The Tories had initially said there could be up to 1,000 cannabis stores in the province


Puff in Public! Ontario Allows Adults to Smoke Weed Anywhere Tobacco Is Allowed

BY CHRIS MOORE – NEWS – SEP 27, 2018

ORIGINAL STORY – When Canada legalizes recreational cannabis next month, Ontarians and their guests will gain a freedom almost unheard of in countries and states with legal marijuana — the right to smoke pot in public. On Wednesday, Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli announced that the government intends to update the Smoke Free Ontario Act to require that cannabis tokers and vapers follow the same rules as tobacco smokers.

Under a new bill, pot smokers will be permitted to light up anywhere tobacco use is allowed, but must also abide by the same restrictions imposed on cigarette smokers. Smoking in enclosed spaces, within nine meters of a public building, or within 20 meters of a children’s play area will remain prohibited.

“In addition, the legislation would prohibit the consumption of cannabis in vehicles and boats that are being driven or under a person’s care or control, recognizing that in these circumstances cannabis poses risks similar to alcohol,” Mulroney stated, the Toronto Sun reports. Anyone caught violating these public smoking rules will be subject to serious fines, ranging from C$1,000 to $5,000.

“I’m sure that there will be a lot of complaints about the neighbour next door, but we’re aligning with the Smoke Free Ontario Act,” Mulroney said, according to The Globe and Mail. Earlier this summer, city officials in Edmonton, Alberta also considered the idea of allowing public pot smoking, but if Ontario’s new proposal passes, it will become the world’s largest territory to allow adults to spark up outside.

These new public smoking rules are certain to ease the minds of Ontarians living in rental properties. The province’s laws allow landlords to prohibit cannabis smoking on their properties, in order to protect the rights of tenants who wish to remain smoke-free, and many tenants began to despair that they would have no legal place to smoke up.

A similar situation is occurring in the U.S., where public pot smoking remains prohibited in every state, preventing renters and tourists from having a place to smoke legally acquired cannabis products. With the simple act of permitting public pot smoking (within reason), Ontario may well avoid these issues altogether.

The new smoking rules are also good news for the province’s cannabis industry. “There are major implications for licensed producers from a consumer marketing perspective,” Omar Khan, vice-president at cannabis consulting firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies, said to The Globe and Mail. “With the ability to now consume in public spaces, it’s a completely new ball game about how they will want to build brand awareness.”

Mulroney said that the province will begin selling weed online via the Ontario Cannabis Store on October 17th, the day that pot officially becomes legal in all of Canada. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has been granted the authority to license privately-operated cannabis stores, which are expected to open for business by April of next year.


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Cannabis smokers get more bong for their buck at bud-and-breakfasts with a different vibe

But the room isn’t just for her enjoyment. It’s seen a handful of visitors since Roach, the owner of the nearby cannabis-centric Hotbox Café, listed it about four months ago on rental website Airbnb as a “funky 420” space.

“The people are all super-cool,” she said, noting she has yet to have a guest that wasn’t pro-cannabis. “They get a bong in their room and a little tray of rolling papers and they love it.

“A lot of people who are coming are looking for unique experiences rather than just an all-inclusive hotel.”

The interest Roach’s space has generated puts her in a growing group of Canadians using “bud and breakfast” properties to cash in on the recent legalization of recreational cannabis.

On various rental and cannabis-centric tourism sites, the Star found dozens of “420-friendly” homes, including Muskoka cottages, a 54-hectare estate far north of Toronto and several condos, lofts and houses throughout the entire province.

Some promised hemp bedding, smoking lounges, access to pipes and bongs, enough space to throw a 40-person pot party and sometimes even “a complimentary gram.”

The rise of such listings is being aided by Ontario’s laws that allow cannabis to be consumed in private residences, though landlords and building boards can put no-smoking terms in leases.

Asked about its cannabis policies, Airbnb said only that “when users sign up with Airbnb they must certify that they will comply with local rules and regulations.”

Online classified listings site Kijiji Canada has also kept out of policing cannabis-related rental posts. However, the site saw a “slight spike” in rental posts using cannabis-friendly terminology in their titles following legalization, said Kent Sikstrom, community relations manager.

The freedoms afforded by such laws and platforms and the demand that cannabis-centric rentals are seeing have made Roach think about how she can offer even more to those travelling to Toronto to consume cannabis.

She has had a “bud and breakfast” property since 2012 in St. Ann, Jamaica, that promises “kushy accommodations” in rooms decorated with cannabis-centric textiles and furniture. It offers access to tours of cannabis farms; Bob Marley’s birthplace, Nine Mile; and local “mystical waters,” where you can “smoke a spliff and chill.” Roach even offers a “weedy wedding” package complete with a “green bouquet” and “ganja wedding cake.”

“The model can work in Canada,” she said. “We are actually in discussions with one location that would be sort of a multiplex and would have one layer with a store and a consumption area, and another layer with a three-bedroom bud-and-breakfast.”

Conrad Floyd, a Hamilton entrepreneur, has similar ambitions. He recently bought an “old burnt-down” hotel in the Lundy’s Lane area of Niagara Falls that he hopes to open as a cannabis-friendly inn by Canada Day.

He’s also at work on a Muskoka wakeboarding and cannabis retreat, and he is eyeing ventures in Caribbean markets planning to legalize the substance in the next year or so.

For now, he has listed on Airbnb two Hamilton units, above his former cannabis dispensary, that allow consumption of the substance. They are called “the Pink Elephant Hotel” — a reference to his favourite colour and a love of the animal that he shares with his father.

“We have had them operational for six months and they have been absolutely booked solid,” he said. “I saw the income from that and I thought, I need 40 to 50 more of these.”

Floyd said he has run into no trouble getting the Airbnb’s up and running and is excited about the possibilities his forthcoming properties could bring for people who want a nice place to consume cannabis while abiding by the law.

The excitement Floyd has around real estate and cannabis is one Lisa Campbell knows well.

She listed her two-bedroom home near Kensington Market on Airbnb as “420-friendly” for years before legalization.

“People can be shocked at the smell because I do consume cannabis in my house,” she said. “I didn’t want to have a guest that wasn’t comfortable with it.”

She recently moved out, but in her time offering the place for stays, she said guests mostly liked her welcoming attitude toward cannabis (aside from a family visiting from France with a young child, who didn’t understand what 420 signified).

Many guests loved that she could give them directions to nearby dispensaries and that she kept rolling papers, bongs and pipes on hand. They often returned the hospitality when they left by gifting her their leftover cannabis.

“I found cannabis guests to be better guests overall,” she said.

“I had some guests consume alcohol and had a huge party, and the police actually came. It was only when (guests) consumed alcohol that I had problems.”

Toronto Star


Critics say sticker shock at cannabis prices will push customers back to the black market

Matt Daisley said his first visit to a legal cannabis retail outlet in St. Catharines, Ont. this week ended without a purchase after he heard the prices and almost had a heart attack.

“I knew immediately that I would not leave the black market,” he said. “There’s no chance.”

The 60-year-old is a longtime cannabis user and visited The Niagara Herbalist to check out its government-approved marijuana options after the store officially opened Monday. But, when he went up to the counter to buy 3.5 grams of MK Ultra, he said he was asked to pay $45 plus tax and was rocked by sticker shock.

His complaint about the comparatively high price of legal pot was a routinely heard one from customers during the first week of legal retail sales in the province.

The Ontario Cannabis Store says its products are priced to compete with the black market but critics, including a professor at Brock University, say buying illegally offers those willing to take the risk significant savings, meaning legal prices will have to drop if they want to bring in more customers and cut out the black market. Police have also pointed to affordable pricing as an important tool to combat organized crime’s involvement in the drug trade.

Daisley claims he could buy as much as seven grams of MK Ultra for about $40 from an illicit vendor online.

That’s what he plans to keep on doing, he told CBC News, adding the laws around black market weed and the consequences for purchasing it are still vague so he’s willing to go public about his concerns in hopes the government and retailers will listen.

“I’m making a conscious choice to use the black market rather as opposed to the legal market. I understand the ramifications of that,” he said. “[But] what can they really do to a 60-year-old guy who’s smoked for the better part of 25 years every day?”

The price has to be right to defeat organized crime

The laws around cannabis use in Canada are still evolving and need to be tested in court, so there’s “some validity” to Daisley’s point, according to Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

He added police aren’t naive enough to think legalization means the black market will die overnight — especially if there’s a big price difference.

“I don’t know if the price is right,” he said, adding law enforcement officials have to trust the government to make those decisions.

“We’ve always recommended to them that if you don’t price the product at a market price obviously it does create pressures and black market activity.”

Cannabis has long been a source of income for organized crime in Canada, explained Couto, so police are concerned they’ll take advantage of the early stages of legalization to turn a profit.

“If we’re going to eliminate cannabis as a potential source to fuel criminal activities … obviously ensuring the product is accessible and is priced right is really important.”

Daisley said up his experience at The Niagara Herbalist was largely positive until he went up to the counter and found out how much he would be charged.

He said he’d prefer to purchase cannabis legally, but believes that, like him, the buying decisions for most cannabis consumers will be dollar-driven and the price tags raise questions about markup that will keep people out of legal stores.

Like comparing a ‘fine wine’ to moonshine

Hamilton-based cannabis consultant, Olivia Brown, disagrees. She says the quality legal outlets offer is worth paying for.

“I wouldn’t compare a $180 bottle of fine wine to moonshine just because it’s cheaper.”

Brown said the prices charged by private legal retailers are generally similar to those posted on the OCS online store, but added that, like gas stations, consumers could see a slight difference of $1-3 depending on which shop they’re in.

Still, Brown said she hears people complaining about the price of legal pot every day.

She agreed black market prices are lower than their legal counterparts, but pointed out government regulated cannabis is a big business that has to pay many employees and meet all sorts of standards.

“It’s very highly regulated, it’s very expensive to maintain and has huge operating costs.”

Brown also said cannabis is a product where you get what you pay for — there’s a reason the black market is so much more affordable.

“It’s probably grown outside by someone who may not know what they’re doing, they could be using pesticides or have all kinds of bugs or whatever,” she explained. “These people aren’t understanding the difference between really fantastic, lab-tested quality-grown, labeled, packaged  beautiful products.”

Offering more options for purchasing those high-quality, legal products is the only way to make sure black market usage is really curbed, according to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

The mayor’s comments came in response to recent criticism leveled at police and officials in Hamilton by Premier Doug Ford who said failure to shut down illegal dispensaries in the city was his “biggest frustration” when it came to cannabis legalization in Ontario.

OCS says legal cannabis is ‘competitively priced’

In a statement to CBC News a spokesperson explained the OCS buys its cannabis from producers licensed by Health Canada then sets a retail price, which can go up or down based on factors including market conditions, supply and the purchase price from producers.

“Armstong”- Michael Armstong, Brock University

Legal products are tested and “competitively priced” with the illegal market in mind, the statement read.

The spokesperson added the pricing structure for retailers allows them to set their own prices that “reflect their individual business models.”

On the OCS website MK Ultra, the same strain Daisley said he was trying to buy is listed from $12.85 / gram or $39.95 for 3.5 grams — though it does not appear to be currently available.

Customers need a discount option like ‘No Name’ weed

In the short term the limited number of stores in Ontario mean each location should be able to draw plenty of customers, but an associate professor at Brock University said big changes have to happen if government wants to compete for the long haul.

Michael Armstrong teaches at the Goodman School of Business and has been watching Canada’s foray into legalization closely.

“Absolutely the black market enjoys a big price advantage,” he said, pointing to a Statistics Canada report for the last quarter of 2018 showing the average price paid for legal, dried cannabis was $9.70, compared to $6.51 its illegal counterpart.

At some point, the pool of customers willing to pay up to 50 per cent more for a legal product will dry up and the stores will have to start appealing to people who are only willing to cough up something in the range of 25 cents more per gram.

Armstrong said the government has to be ready and offered a few suggestions for how to cut costs.

The first is lowering the overall production cost by going large scale, automating the process or moving growing operations outdoors. When those saving lead to a drop in price, the professor said provinces should lower their wholesale process so retailers can also sell for less.

Another obstacle is the federal government’s excise tax structure. Armstrong said excise tax currently varies by province, but the default is about $1 per gram minimum, which makes it tough to keep up with the black market.

“Even if a producer can make it really cheaply and a retailer is willing to sell it for a low price, that dollar is a big chunk.”

He argues the government should drop that minimum and just set the tax at 10 per cent.

Under that model a premium product could pay around $2 a gram in tax and an averageproducts could pay around $1, but retailers could offer a discount brand.

“Eventually the retail stores need to be able to sell something like a No Name cannabis, pre-rolled joints for maybe $5 a gram, maybe $3 bucks a half gram,” said Armstrong.

“To compete with the black market in the longer term absolutely we need some of the products priced low.”

MSN.com


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How Canada Legalized Weed

It’s one of Justin Trudeau’s few policy wins, but he doesn’t deserve all—or even much—of the credit. SHARE TWEET

Holy shit. We made it. Weed will be legal in Canada on Wednesday. Ninety years of cannabis prohibition in the garbage where it belongs. Savour this unforgettable moment—at least until you space on it ten minutes after your first legitimate draw.

Anyway, the dark ages are over now so let’s never dwell on it again. But it’s worth tipping our hats to everyone who helped make this happen. Before you take a toke on Wednesday, thank a medicinal cannabis activist, because they’re the ones who did all the legal legwork.

Cannabis was first outlawed in 1923 (largely based on racist reasoning). Although a 1972 Royal Commission recommended it be decriminalized, there was no legal thaw around its use until the turn of the 21st century. In 2000, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that a blanket ban on all cannabis consumption violated the constitutional rights of those who used it for medicinal purposes. Terrence Parker’s case is the thin end of the wedge that would eventually split apart cannabis prohibition in Canada. Once the federal government accepted that it would have to sanction some cannabis use (and production), full legalization was only a matter of time. (Roughly 18 years, as it turns out.)

In 2001 the federal government brought in the Marihuana for Medical Access Regulations, its first set of laws codifying legal cannabis use. This allowed licensed medicinal users to grow their own plants, or purchase flower from a licensed grower. Both Liberal prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin tried to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, but each were thwarted: the former by pressure from the US Drug Enforcement Agency, and the latter by the 2004 federal election.

But by the mid-aughts, the political will to liberalize drug policy in Canada had vanished. In the first year of his first minority government, Stephen Harper increased criminal penalties for possession and trafficking. Anyone illegally growing dope faced up to 14 years in prison.

While going extra aggro on non-violent drug offences was near and dear to Conservative hearts, neither legal precedent nor the national zeitgeist were on their side. The 2011 R v. Mernagh decision by the Ontario Superior Court gutted federal restrictions on cannabis so thoroughly it risked legalizing cannabis production all over Ontario and possibly the whole country. The ruling was overturned in early 2013 by the Ontario Court of Appeal, but it was clear by this time that the country’s cannabis laws were untenable.

The writing was on the wall by 2012, when the Liberals picked up full cannabis legalization as a party policy. The Conservatives, meanwhile, opted to double-down: they changed medical regulations to abolish all personal production licenses and force patients to register with licensed producers. Ironically, more than just setting the Crown up for a slam-dunk legal challenge, this sowed the seeds of a commercial cannabis industry by mandating mass cannabis production.

Regulations continued to fall apart in court. A Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2015 established that edibles, oils, and other concentrates were legitimate forms of medicinal cannabis, and thus legal to produce and possess—further bolstering and diversifying the production (and marketing) of cannabis in Canada.

By the time the Federal Court of Canada ruled in 2016 that medicinal users could grow their own supply, Justin Trudeau was prime minister and the full repeal of prohibition was already underway. But it does hammer home the point that legalization is an elegantly simple solution to this extremely stupid policy problem.

It’s difficult now to place the role legalization had during the 2015 election campaign. It wasn’t a central plank, but the promise of legal weed—along with electoral reform, deficit spending, peacekeepers, reconciliation, and a new Trudeau—helped to amplify the Liberals’ branding as the true champions of progressive Canadiana. Now it’s the twilight of Trudeau’s first term, and legal cannabis is one of the few landmark initiatives to actually be carried through. Perhaps it’s to help us cope with the about-face on everything else.

The journey of the Cannabis Act alone is another story. After a year of consultations with Canadians, in early 2017 the government brought in its first draft of weed law. (It also updated the Impaired Driving Act to vastly increase police powers to detect drugged drivers.) The Act set out the broad parameters of recreational use: anyone 18 and older can possess up to 30 grams in public, with the provinces able to tinker with that minimum legal age and whatever additional details they wanted. The whole thing sparked anticipation for a legalization date of July 1, 2018, but the Senate nearly torpedoed it at the 11th hour. The bill ultimately passed its final reading in June 2018—too late to save your Canada Day BBQ, but just in time to blow up your Halloween.

About the provinces: the feds get all the credit, but it’s the provinces doing all the heavy lifting. As a result, legal cannabis looks a little different everywhere in the country: legal age runs from 18 (Alberta) to 21 (Quebec), and in Manitoba and Quebec you won’t be able to grow your own plants. Also, in Ontario, the new Ford government spiked the old Liberal plan for a provincial monopoly less than a month out from the first day of legal sales. It will be sold in private stores, but not until sometime in April. Have fun!

So it’s been a long time coming, but here we are at last. Ironically, now that weed is legal it is likely to be policed more heavily than ever before. The cops can’t bust you just on account of holding a joint, but they can throw the book at you if try to buy in bulk or try to sell any on your own. Anyone who felt legalization should involve addressing the injustice of the drug war is justified in feeling less than euphoric about how many weed corporations are run by former prohibitionists—especially while those convicted under drug offences which no longer exist have no guarantees of amnesty.

The story isn’t over. The fight for amnesty continues, and legalization continues to unfold. Arguably the real cannabis boom is coming on October 17, 2019, when edibles are fully regulated. Beyond that, one hopes that the end of one ridiculous drug prohibition might be the begin of the end of them all. At a convention in Halifax earlier this year, Liberal membership signalled they would be interested in decriminalizing all drug use in Canada in the interests of harm reduction. The Liberal brass laughed it off—Trudeau has been emphatic that there is no interest in further changes to federal drug policy—but if the legalization of cannabis is successful it does seem to be the next logical step. North America remains mired in an opioid crisis, and Portugal has seen tremendous success in treating drug abuse as a social and medical problem instead of a criminal one. The prohibitions around medical use of other psychedelic drugs are also finally thawing; the therapeutic use of MDMA, LSD, ketamine, and psilocybin mushrooms may yet herald a revolution in psychiatry. This doesn’t mean we will ever see a day when the government is sanctioning a full-scale acid production and retail industry, but it does mean, God willing, we will someday soon reach a point where all drug war is relegated to a museum along with old film reels of Reefer Madness.

A more humane way to live together isn’t hard to imagine. All the easier, now, with a little bit of grass.