Despite special regulations, entrepreneurs hope to take bite of Canada’s marijuana edibles market
Mom and pop edible makers ‘deserve a piece of legalization,’ says organizer of pop-up marijuana food market
By Solomon Israel – CBC News – April 23, 2017
Amid all the uncertainty about the federal government’s plans to legalize marijuana by mid-2018, a culinary mystery stands out: How will marijuana-infused food products, commonly called “edibles,” fit into the legal regime?
Ottawa has signalled that regulations governing the sales of edibles won’t be ready by the time recreational marijuana becomes legal. But if the huge demand for edibles at 420 celebrations in Toronto’s pot-friendly Kensington Market is any indication, the government needs to start cooking up those regulations, and fast.
Crowds of people packed into a “Green Market” pop-up event on April 20, where vendors sold homemade edibles, ranging from lollipops and cookies, to gourmet fudge, biscotti and even cannabis-infused Chex Mix.
Business was booming.
‘Mom and pop’ businesses
“A lot of these businesses are for patients, by patients,” said Lisa Campbell, a co-founder of the event and an advocate with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association.
“And that’s what we’re trying to tell the government, is that we’re not some criminal network,” she said. “It’s literally mom and pop edible businesses that want a piece of legalization and deserve a piece of legalization.”
‘A responsible alternative’
To pro-cannabis campaigners like Campbell, the Project Claudia raids deprived medical marijuana users of a way to get their medication. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the right of legal medical marijuana patients to access marijuana in edible forms, following a court challenge from B.C. cannabis activist and edibles baker Owen Smith.
Harriet, who was selling artisanal marijuana-infused fudge at the Green Market under the name “Mrs. Fudgemaker,” is one of those patients. She eats a small piece of fudge each morning to help control her rheumatoid arthritis.
“The side effects from the medications that are often prescribed are worse than the diseases themselves,” said Harriet. CBC News has agreed not to use Harriet’s last name.
“Prescriptions are handed out way too commonly, and I think that needs to be addressed. There needs to be an alternative, but a responsible alternative.”
Edibles won’t immediately be legal for sale
The recently tabled Cannabis Act doesn’t specifically mention edibles, but the proposed legislation does lay out the laws that could eventually cover the marijuana oils and extracts used to make them.
Separately, though, Ottawa has said edibles won’t immediately be legal for sale once the Cannabis Act becomes law.
In an online Q&A, the federal government said it “will need to take an appropriate amount of time to develop and implement regulations that will result in safe edible products eventually coming to market.”
Only marijuana buds, oils, seeds and plants will be legal for sale when the law takes effect.
“Following the coming into force of the Cannabis Act, the Government will develop and publish regulations — in line with the Task Force recommendation — to permit the sale of edible products,” the document says.
Craft cannabis movement
Those recommendations from the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation include banning products that could have visual appeal to kids, requiring childproof packaging, implementing standardized serving sizes, and limiting the maximum amount of psychoactive THC per product.
“I think that the task force has a pretty good idea of what they need to do,” said a medical marijuana user who was selling marijuana-infused “Cannabiscotti” at the Green Market. CBC News has also agreed not to identify her by name.
“I felt really good about the report. I felt that [task force chair Anne] McLellan had listened to the patients who were there and really understood about the craft market, as far as both recreational and medicinal,” she said.
By “craft market,” the Cannabiscotti-maker was referring to small producers of homemade marijuana goods, like herself.
In the end, she observed, much of the regulation around who gets to make edibles will likely fall to the individual provinces. But she said she hopes the federal and provincial governments will leave room for the small operations.
“For years, the craft brewers, the craft vineyards fought to be able to sell outside of the LCBO and the Beer Store,” she said, adding there is “not really a difference at all” between craft brewers and artisanal cannabis producers.
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Portland mayor decries 4/20 marijuana giveaway
PORTLAND, Maine — The mayor of Portland said he’s disappointed by a free pot giveaway in Monument Square that drew a long line of people and a cloud of smoke.
Under state law and city ordinance, marijuana can’t be used in public, but the crowd enjoyed it anyway, uninterrupted.
“Well, we didn’t have a lot of complaints, but I don’t think we want our police department wasting a lot of resources on this,” Mayor Ethan Strimling said. “The war on drugs has never been successful.”
Strimling said he was disappointed by the event and believes it was irresponsible.
“If someone was out there handing out free shots of alcohol, I think people would have a similar reaction, saying this isn’t what we want to have happening in the middle of the city,” he said.
Crash Barry drew a crowd of about a hundred on Thursday afternoon, when he handed out free marijuana, along with copies of his new book “ Marijuana Valley.” It was a celebration he shared with a variety of people, from bartenders and homeless folks to lawyers and doctors.
“I’m giving everybody a present of a book and one gram of cannabis in celebration of Maine’s first, legal 4/20, which is kind of like Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day all rolled together for the cannabis community,” Barry said Thursday.
It’s the first “holiday” since Maine voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, allowings adults age 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces. Retail sales won’t start until February at the earliest, but it’s perfectly legal to give away.
When Barry ran out of the 225 individually packaged samples, he began giving out loose buds from his own stash. The remaining line of about 50 people cheered this move. When that was gone, Barry gave the throng a foot-long joint to share among themselves.
Barry said he plans to return next year to host the event again.
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Opposition wants price tag for government’s cannabis tracking system
By: Kristy Kirkup – The Canadian Press – April 20, 2017
OTTAWA — The federal government is coming under fire from the opposition Conservatives for failing to disclose how much a cannabis tracking system will cost — just one of a host of proposed changes to be ushered in along with the legalization of marijuana.
Health Canada said the system would be designed to collect information about pot products from licensed producers, distributors and retailers, adding it would not track individual cannabis users.
The department also said it would allow businesses and regulators to trace all products and address recalls.
“They want to put a pot registry in, but they are not telling us about how much it is going to cost,” said Conservative health critic Colin Carrie. “It is just basically more shady behaviour when it comes to this file.”
The tracking would help to ensure cannabis is not being diverted to illegal markets, Health Canada said in a statement, given the government’s stated and oft-repeated goal of limiting organized crime’s footprint in the pot trade.
“Mandatory product track-and-trace systems are common features in other jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for non-medical purposes,” the department said.
The specific requirements of the system still need to be developed, Health Canada added, noting similar systems are used in the U.S. to gather information about cannabis products.
The department did not say how much the proposed tracking system would cost — only that it intends to offset such costs through licensing and other fees.
The government’s marijuana legislation tabled last week also failed to offer specifics on tax measures for the legalized regime.
Alistair MacGregor, the NDP’s justice critic, said he is surprised the government can’t offer more information.
“On the day this bill was announced, they did bring out the minister of national revenue,” MacGregor said. “One of the biggest questions we have is the cost of implementing not just this registry but all of the enforcement measures; How much of this is going to be downloaded on to the provinces?”
On Thursday, thousands across the country are marking are annual pot celebrations known as 4-20 though some marijuana activists are expressing concern about the government’s legalization efforts.
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The Vancouver 420 Classic 2017 held high expectations but was met with aggression, intimidation and harassment by Vancouver’s finest.
Robert Moore informed the VPD of the protest and its intention to proceed, months in advance. VPD Detective Rolland confirmed with event organizer’s that the VPD was aware of the protest, intentions and plan ahead of time and Det. Rolland confirmed the event could proceed as outlined.
In a clear bias, the VPD spent its energy at the 420 Classic harassing organizers and vendors alike and attempting to move everyone to the sunset beach location.
In a stark and marked difference, at the Beach location, Vancouver Police helped vendors set up.
At 4:00 am event organizer’s arrived, approximately 40 Vancouver Police were on site to stop set up.
The main stage set-up was denied due to “safety concerns” from nearby steps.
VPD would not allow a tent to be constructed over sound equipment to keep it safe for pedestrian traffic and dry from wet conditions.
VPD told event organizers that music had to be shut down by 5pm.
Special Guest Stars, Head, were unable to perform due to stage setup being denied.
VPD stood in front of Howe and Robson and intimidated people as they attempted to unload for set up.
The VPD moved vendors to the sides to prevent ease of access and in an attempt to minimize the protest’s effectiveness.
VPD would not let an ice cream Vendor unload their ice cream machine, deemed the equipment a “crush hazard”.
Vendors were told if they set up they their tents that they would be removed by city engineers.
Vendors were instructed by the VPD to move their tents to Sunset Beach, effectively increasing foot traffic and damages at the location.
Sunset Beach was covered in mud and other unsafe, slippery conditions.
And most disturbing of all the ASSAULT ON CANNABIS ACTIVIST, ROBERT MOORE
VPD J. Harris assaulted Cannabis Activist, Robert Moore, by grabbing his arm and forcibly moving his person.
We are calling for an inquiry into J. Harris’s conduct and for his dismissal.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
CALL NOW TO REPORT
VPD Police Standards Number is
Video of the incident to be uploaded soon!
Where is cannabis legal and which countries have the harshest penalties for using marijuana? All you need to know
Prison time, hard labour and DEATH are among the most severe penalties
By: Sophie Roberts – The SUN UK – April 19, 2017
WHETHER or not cannabis should be legalised is a debate has raged on for decades.
With Weed Day fast approaching, there’s no doubt that protesters will continue to fight for the decriminalisation of the drug.
So are there any places that marijuana use is decriminalised and where can smoking a spliff lead to the death penalty?
Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis and the law…
Where is marijuana legal?
Even though the majority of nations have banned it, a significant number will not prosecute for the personal use of cannabis.
In Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Canada, Croatia and Macedonia it is legal for medicinal purposes in some form, and in Turkey for the cultivation for the same purpose.
In Uruguay, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington in the US, Spain, Slovenia, Netherlands, Jamaica, Columbia and Chile it is legal or decriminalised in some form.
Where are the harshest marijuana laws in the world?
In Japan, the Cannabis Control Law can dish out a five year prison sentence for smoking a single joint… along with hard labour.
Similar sentences are dished out for possession in Malaysia and Indonesia.
While weed smokers in the Philippines aren’t immediately thrown in jail, if you’re caught with the drug you are sent to rehab for at least six months.
Repeat offenders can face a prison sentence for between six and twelve years.
If you thought these punishments were harsh, they’re nothing compared to the penalty given to those who deal the drug.
Those caught trafficking or selling marijuana (even in small quantities) can be sentenced to DEATH in the UAE, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
In 2012, an unnamed Brit, 21, faced capital punishment in Abu Dhabi for dealing 20g of the weed worth £262.
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Canada will legalize pot, after arresting a bunch of people for pot offences first: Neil Macdonald
By: Neil Macdonald – CBC NEWS OPINION – April 19, 2017
“Too many Canadians,” declares the Liberal Party of Canada on its website, “end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts” of marijuana.
Enforcement of cannabis law, it continues, “traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses.”
Well said. Courageous, even. Huzzah.
So. What’s the government’s solution?
Well, it intends to continue arresting, prosecuting and criminalizing Canadians who commit this minor and non-violent offence, at least for another year or so. Young Canadians are particularly vulnerable to arrest.
Why keep criminalizing? Good question, and the CBC’s Carol Off asked it during an interview with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, after the government revealed its legislative plans last week.
In response, the minister delivered this clanging non-sequitur:
“Well, we’re working on delivering our campaign promise to legalize cannabis, strictly regulate and restrict access to it with the ultimate objective to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. . . ”
So Off asked again: Why another year?
Wilson-Raybould’s reply: “Well, we first of all, I completely respect the parliamentary process and will certainly monitor this piece of legislation as it as it moves through.”
If that sounds like gibberish, it’s because it is.
True to form, this government has written down a series of talking points, in this case, trying to make it sound like it’s cracking down on pot rather than legalizing it. And Justin Trudeau’s ministers are sticking to the messaging from party central like a child reciting Dr. Seuss.
Not once in that As It Happens interview did Wilson-Raybould explain why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly (see the Liberal party’s website statement) for another year.
Instead, literally every second time she opened her mouth, she re-spouted the line about “strictly regulating and restricting access.” Off asked eight questions. Four times, Wilson-Raybould robotically reverted to the same phrase.
‘Not a free-for-all’
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a parliamentary lifer who mastered the art of repetitive dronetalk sometime back in the last millennium, was out peddling more or less the same line, but with an added warning: Not only will the government continue to criminalize Canadians for what it considers a trifling offence, enforcement will be vigorous.
“Existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected,” Goodale declared. “This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all.”
Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a “free for all” also went unexplained
And Goodale went even further. All those Canadians who were prosecuted successfully in the past for this trifling, minor, non-violent offence will continue to bear the burden of a criminal record, even though this government says such prosecutions were wrong and is moving, albeit slowly, to strike down the law.
Goodale was explicit: there will be no blanket pardon. Again, no explanation. He was too busy administering stern warnings about continued enforcement, and, of course, “strictly regulating and restricting access” once the law is finally changed.
All of this is to satisfy conservative Canadians who, even though they probably can’t explain it, continue to believe smoking pot should be a crime.
‘Addicted to prohibition’
Craig Jones, director of the Canadian chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says that “after 50 years of intense propaganda, we are essentially addicted to prohibition. It’s the only way we know.”
Jones points out that cannabis was criminalized by fiat in 1923, with no discussion or debate in parliament. Interestingly, he says, the first actual arrest for possession wasn’t until 1947.
That’s probably because several generations ago, Canadians regarded cannabis as an innocuous herb with some medicinal value, not a drug that turns good children into fiends.
“Your average family doctor a century ago probably knew a great deal more about the therapeutic value of cannabis than a doctor today.”
As for the government’s strange desire to keep arresting and prosecuting Canadians for possession, Jones says: “It’s hard to extricate yourself from a policy error.”
Crossing the border
But back to Off’s interview with the justice minister. She raised another excellent question: Once cannabis is legal in Canada, what should Canadians answer when asked by U.S. border agents whether they’ve ever used it?
Because admitting it at the border can result in being barred from entering the U.S. for life, even though many states have now decriminalized cannabis, and eight states have outright legalized it.
Wilson-Raybould could have said something sensible, like: “The government of Canada will press the Trump administration to understand that after legalization in Canada, millions of Canadians will be placed in an impossible situation at the border, and we need a clear understanding between our nations.”
Instead, somewhat weirdly, she started talking about what a great job Ralph Goodale is doing keeping Canada’s border safe, then strongly advised anyone crossing into the United States to tell the truth if asked about pot use. Then said she looks forward to “continuing conversations” with Jeff Sessions, her extreme-law-and-order American counterpart.
Now, it could be that Wilson-Raybould was subversively advising Canadians that if every one of us who has ever smoked pot starts declaring it at the border, it would jam traffic to a halt and the Americans, in the interest of continued commerce, would likely stop asking the damned question.
But, given that she’s a minister in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, that’s unlikely. What she probably meant to say was that marijuana would be strictly regulated and access restricted.
Because, of course, this can’t just be a free for all.
To read the original article click here
On April 20, A Lot More Businesses Win Than Marijuana Sellers
By: Debra Borchardt – Forbes – April 18, 2017
You might think that only marijuana businesses like dispensaries benefit from the unofficial cannabis holiday of April 20, but it turns out that many other establishments join in the fun.
Foursquare looked at foot traffic trends among its users during last year’s 420 events and did indeed confirm the obvious: dispensaries saw business jump 76%. Foursquare’s technology is able to register users of the app as they enter an establishment and they don’t have to “check-in,” making the data mining a pretty seamless effort. Their analysis also revealed that on April 20, traffic at top fast-food chains increased by 20% and pizza places popped by 11%. Sarah Spagnolo, editor-at-large of Foursquare said, “We also observed a significant increase in visits to both nightlife spots (8%) and liquor stores (36%). Even pubs were up by a whopping 92% compared with the prior week.”
While some cities in states with legalized marijuana have official events, many cannabis consumers have nowhere else to go other than these venues to celebrate the holiday. They also may just want to continue the celebration and a bar is an obvious choice.
Denver recently considered implementing a law that would allow for public consumption of cannabis in social settings, but the governor decided that with the new administration in Washington, such a law could draw unwanted attention to the state. “Given the uncertainty in Washington, this is not the time to be … trying to carve off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana,” Gov. John Hickenlooper told The Denver Post.
Foursquare data also suggests that legalized marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean a state’s nightlife is going to suffer. It seems cannabis consumers aren’t following the stereotype and staying home to get high and hang out on the couch. The company did a deep dive into data from 2015 to 2016 in Oregon, which legalized adult-use marijuana sales in 2015. “Interestingly enough, nightlife spots in Oregon (which includes every type of bar, lounge, club and brewery) were unaffected during this time period,” Spagnolo said. “In fact, they experienced a 3% growth in year-over-year foot traffic, right on par with national nightlife industry trends.”
Dispensary patrons, it turns out, like to go out for beer with the favorites being draft beer, pale ale and IPAs. They are also big fans of Asian food and frequent dumpling and ramen spots. Cannabis consumers in Oregon are surprisingly quite an active bunch. “They are more likely to visit ski resorts, climbing gyms, stadiums and bike shops than average Foursquare users,” Spagnolo explains.
So, if you are wondering who these dispensary goers are, Foursquare looked at the four states where adult-use marijuana is legal to get a better idea of the dispensary demographics. It turns out that 46% are millennials between the ages of 21-34, while 23% are baby boomers over the age of 55. Tourists account for 31% of the visits as they indulge in a freedom not allowed in their home states.
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Cannabis compound may halve seizures for patients with severe epilepsy
By: Honor Whiteman – Medical News Today – April 19, 2017
Researchers from the Ohio State University found that individuals with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) who took cannabidiol every day for 14 weeks saw the frequency of atonic seizures fall by more than 50 percent.
Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, involve a sudden, brief loss of muscle tone.
Study co-author Dr. Anup Patel, of the College of Medicine at Ohio State, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th annual meeting, held in Boston, MA.
LGS is one of the most severe forms of epilepsy. The condition involves multiple types of seizures, including tonic, atonic, atypical absence, and myoclonic.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the onset of LGS normally occurs between the ages of 3 and 5 years, and the condition is estimated to affect between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 100,000 children in the United States.
There is no cure for LGS, and the condition is extremely challenging to treat, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Anti-epileptic medications, such as valproate and lamotrigine, can help to control seizures, but many children who initially respond to such drugs develop tolerance to them later on.
However, the new study from Dr. Patel and colleagues suggests that cannabidiol may be a promising treatment strategy for LGS, after finding that the cannabis compound more than halved atonic seizure frequency in patients with the condition.
Cannabidiol and epilepsy
Cannabidiol is one of the more than 80 cannabinoids, or active chemicals, present in the cannabis plant.
Research has suggested that cannabidiol has therapeutic potential, with studies linking the chemical to reductions in anxiety and improvements in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions.
Studies have also indicated that cannabidiol may be a promising treatment strategy for epilepsy.
Dr. Patel and team decided to explore this association further by conducting a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that assessed the effect of cannabidiol on patients with LGS.
The study involved 225 patients of an average age of 16 who had around 85 atonic seizures each month as a result of LGS.
All patients had failed to respond to an average of six anti-epileptic medications, and during the 14-week study period, they were using an average of three anti-epileptic drugs.
Throughout the duration of the study, patients were required to take either 10 or 20 milligrams of cannabidiol or a placebo every day, in combination with their current medications.
Atonic seizures more than halved with daily cannabidiol
Patients who took 10 milligrams of cannabidiol daily experienced a 37 percent reduction in atonic seizures overall, and 36 percent of these patients saw their atonic seizures reduced by at least 50 percent.
The effect was stronger with the higher cannabidiol dose; patients who took 20 milligrams of cannabidiol daily experienced an overall atonic seizure reduction of 42 percent, while a minimum of 50 percent reduction in atonic seizures was found for 40 percent of these patients.
Among patients who took the placebo, there was an overall reduction in atonic seizures of 17 percent, while 15 percent of patients saw their atonic seizures reduced by at least half.
Compared with patients taking the placebo, those taking cannabidiol were up to 2.6 times more likely to report improvements in their overall condition, say the authors.
Around 94 percent of patients taking the higher cannabidiol dose and 84 percent taking the lower dose experienced side effects, the researchers report. However, the researchers say that the majority of these side effects were mild to moderate, with the most common being a reduction in appetite and sleepiness.
Overall, Dr. Patel and colleagues believe that their results indicate that cannabidiol may be beneficial for patients with LGS.
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Teens Say Decision To Legalize Hasn’t Changed Their Views On Cannabis
By: Nicole Thompson – Civilized Life – April 17, 2017
Some teens say their likelihood of using marijuana hasn’t changed since the Liberal government announced details of its legalization plan – though they say it’s made them more aware of information on both sides of the debate.
Government officials announced last week that cannabis would be made legal for recreational use by July 2018, and those aged 18 and over will be able to buy and grow a small amount of the drug for themselves.
But even as marijuana becomes more mainstream, several teens said their opinions about the drug have remained the same.
Julio Gonzales, 19, said he enjoys using marijuana in moderation, and he doesn’t expect that to change – even smoking pot feels less rebellious than it once did.
He said that in school, he was taught that marijuana was dangerous.
“They kind of classified it with a lot harder drugs like LSD or cocaine, you know? So there was always that kind of ’villain-y’ look at it. It being really bad for you,” he said.
He expects that the curriculum might change a bit, but he said he thinks teachers will still advise against teens using the drug.
He said he knows there have been studies that suggest marijuana use in teenagers can be harmful, so he’s in favour of legislation that restricts minors from smoking.
“I guess it’s also kind of hypocritical of me,” he said, adding that he smokes because he finds that it helps him concentrate on schoolwork.
Ellie Labbancz, who will be 14 next month, said the news of legalization hasn’t changed her thoughts about pot either – she is still staunchly against it.
She said she understands some of the positive arguments for access to marijuana, including that it could reduce drug trafficking and crime.
But overall, she said people could still abuse the drug, and that doesn’t sit right with her. She’s worried about the negative health effects, especially on young people’s brains.
Canadian Psychiatric Association President Dr. Renuka Prasad said in a statement put out on Thursday that early and regular cannabis use can affect memory, attention, intelligence and the ability to process thoughts. He said it can also add to the risk of mental health issues among people who are already vulnerable.
The CPA position statement on marijuana cites studies that suggest marijuana can interfere with the maturing process the brain goes through in adolescence. It recommended an age limit of 21, as well as quantity and potency limits for those under 25.
Todd Goncalvez, 18, said his opinion hasn’t changed in light of the legalization promise, and it’s not likely to make a difference in opinion – or frequency of use – among his peers.
“I don’t see how legalizing weed will make much of a difference in terms of limiting access to those under the legal age, since it’s already so widely available to kids as young as Grade 8 or 9,” he said.
During the legislation announcement Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale noted that Canadian teenagers are “among the heaviest users in the western world.”
The Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs survey in 2015 – the most recently available data from Statistics Canada – suggests that 20.6 percent of Canadians between ages 15 and 19 had used pot in the past year. Nearly 29 percent of people in that age group had tried it at some point in their life.
But in spite of the new legislation, Goncalvez said he thinks people are more likely to look at marijuana they way they look at cigarettes.
“Just like alcohol and cigarettes are legal and considered mainstream, weed will still be considered a ’cool’ thing to do,” he said.
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The Liberals have lied – their pot plan is not legalization
BY: Jodie Emery – Ottawa Citizen – April 17, 2017
The Liberal government finally introduced its highly anticipated marijuana legalization legislation. But this proposal is not legalization – it is continued criminalization, with new harsher laws designed to punish even more people.
Canadians want marijuana to be legal because they grew tired of seeing family and friends arrested and charged, then denied job opportunities and travel rights. They became frustrated seeing police spend their tax dollars every year going after people for pot, when they should be solving serious crimes such as murder, assault, rape and theft.
Decades of studies note that the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry already exists in Canada despite decades of prohibition. People grow it, sell it, and consume it in massive quantities. And they’re not gangsters; in fact, justice department court statistics acknowledge 95 per cent of growers are otherwise law-abiding citizens with no connection to organized crime.
Some unsavoury people may be involved in the pot industry, but blame that on the government: their prohibition policy increases the value of cannabis, which makes it attractive to certain groups eager to make money. If coffee were banned tomorrow, organized crime would get into the coffee bean business. Prohibition manufactures crime where none would otherwise exist.
Under this legislation, we will see continued arrests for possession, growing and selling; harsher penalties, ranging from 14 years to life in prison for various offences; no pardons or amnesty for Canadians with criminal records; continued dispensary raids and arrests; and a new reefer madness propaganda campaign.
How is this “legalization”?
The Liberals have simply proposed decriminalizing small amounts of personal possession (30 grams) and plants (four, and they must be very small), which they won’t even allow right away. That means tens of thousands of citizens will continue to be victimized by laws most people agree is unjust.
This legislation doesn’t restrict access to kids either. It just criminalizes more Canadians by enforcing extremely harsh penalties. Many young adults will face long prison sentences just for sharing a joint with their friends. How does this “protect our kids,” or anyone at all?
It seems the legislation simply legalizes a licensed producer oligopoly. Licensed producers exist because patients, growers and dispensaries were arrested, charged and won in court; Health Canada’s medical marijuana information sheet states they only allow licensed producers because courts ordered them to do so.
Licensed producers are supposed to serve patients across Canada, but they are unable to supply that demand. How can they possibly feed the recreational market? They can’t. Canadians already know where to get cannabis, and they will continue to obtain it the same ways they always have.
Legalization was supposed to bring the existing industry out of the shadows and into the light, but this legislation will keep it in the dark, and deny people the opportunity to transition into the legal industry. You can’t become a legal producer if you have a criminal record. In contrast, Oakland, California offered reparations to drug war victims by allowing them entry into the legal pot industry.
This is not legalization. It’s Prohibition 2.0, and beneficiaries include licensed producers who have managed to effectively lobby – and even hire – Liberal marijuana task force members and government officials. Reports say Anne McLellan’s law firm advises licensed producers; no wonder her task force recommended licensed producers be the only legal growers.
Mark Ware, also on the task force, was hired by Canopy Growth, founded by the Liberal party’s former chief financial officer, Chuck Rifici. Many cops and politicians are involved in these companies, making a lot of money while encouraging law enforcement to arrest their competition.
Legalization should mean the end of criminalization – not continued prohibition. I support reasonable regulation of cannabis, but this legislation is not reasonable.
It’s prohibitive, punitive and will not achieve any of its stated goals. Once again, the Liberals have lied, and Canadians will pay the price.
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