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San Francisco’s trendiest coffee roaster is now making a $12 marijuana-infused cold brew


San Francisco’s trendiest coffee roaster is now making a $12 marijuana-infused cold brew

BY: Melia Robinson – Business Insider – March 16, 2017

A Bay Area pot startup has made it even easier to “wake and bake,” with a new marijuana-infused cold-brew coffee.

Somatik, an artisanal pot-products company founded in 2016, teamed up with boutique roaster Ritual Coffee to create the drink, which hit cannabis dispensary refrigerators in January. An eight-ounce bottle retails for $12.

“Cannabis is a lot like coffee in that … everyone has their routine. I wanted to show that you could actually build a routine around cannabis that [keeps you] functional and does help you,” says Christopher Schroeder, founder of Somatik.

Somatik Featuring Ritual Coffee uses coffee beans grown in western Colombia — steeped for 12 hours in cold water to produce a robust, silky concentrate — and 15 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. Drinking the whole bottle would be the (very) rough equivalent of taking a few hits off a joint.

The Bay Area has long been a breeding ground for innovative coffee roasters, from venture-capital darling Blue Bottle Coffee to family-run Philz Coffee. More recently, another industry the area is famous for — marijuana — has moved towards artisanal products as the market matures. Entrepreneurs like Schroeder are optimistic that craft weed will become the new specialty coffee — a lucrative business.

Somatik Featuring Ritual Coffee pairs the two trends in a product that aims to be high-quality and discreet. Schroeder, a former product manager at wearables company Jawbone, wanted to create something his family and friends would find approachable.

“You could have it at your desk and no one’s going to be like, ‘Oh, what are you doing?’ But also, you could talk about it and it does help normalize it. You’re not smoking a joint or ripping a dab. You’re just drinking something that tastes really good,” Schroeder says.

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LUXURY CANNABIS IS OFFICIALLY HERE


LUXURY CANNABIS IS OFFICIALLY HERE

By: Lauren Alexis Fraser – March 13, 2017 – Harpers Bazaar

The fashion industry has never been one to hide its infatuation with marijuana. Designers like Alexander Wang, Vetements, Jeremy Scott and more have embraced stoner culture in past collections with everything from weed grinder necklaces to pot print motifs. But now, fashion is finally ready to upgrade from cannabis prints to the real deal.

Enter Beboe, a new luxury cannabis brand making high-end products for a more sophisticated weed consumer. Founded by Clement Kwan (former president of YOOX) and renowned tattoo artist Scott Campbell, Beboe’s products—which so far include a vaporizer and pastilles—come in luxe packaging meant to be taken to different social settings from dinner to late night cocktails to afternoon tea (yes, this pot is chic enough for afternoon tea). The cannabis-infused products are made with a low dose blend of THC and CBD suited for both seasoned smokers and newbies.

“We hope to further along the end of prohibition by building sophisticated products and brands to attract a more sophisticated consumer. This is what we hope will be the catalyst in forging into this new frontier,” Kwan said in a statement from the brand.

And the story behind how Beboe was born is a surprisingly sweet one. The brand’s name was derived from Campbell’s grandmother, Be Boe, who baked marijuana brownies for his mother as she battled cancer during his childhood.

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Employers want Ottawa’s help to deal with marijuana-smoking workers


By Dean Beeby – CBC News Mar 15, 2017

Lack of hard science on marijuana impairment and testing raises concerns among employers over safety

More stoned workers will be showing up in Canada’s workplaces with the coming legalization of marijuana, but companies have few tools to cope with potential safety risks.

That’s the message from some employers, who say they’ve received no assurances from Ottawa so far that the new pot regime will include workplace safeguards.

“We’re caught in a potential Catch 22: how do you protect the worker and those around them as well as deal with legalized marijuana?” said Cameron MacGillivray, president of Enform, a Calgary-based oil-and-gas safety group.

“It is a pressing concern for the industry because of the … potential catastrophic impacts of somebody doing a critical safety job when they’re impaired.”

The Liberal government is expected to introduce legislation by the summer making recreational marijuana legal, at a time when the science of detecting and measuring impairment is incomplete.

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People are giving their pets cannabis to cure their illnesses


With more people turning to medicinal marijuana to ease their ailments, others in the US are now using it to treat their pets.

Sick animals are being fed cannabis-based extracts, ointments and edibles to treat everything from arthritis to anxiety.

But the substances are not regulated and the health benefits have yet to be tested on animals, according to CNN.

Brett Hartmann gives his two dogs, Kallie and Brutus, a dose of liquid cannabis with their meals everyday.

Asked if he is just drugging his dogs, he said: ‘I beg to differ. I feel like this is botanical, this is plant medicine.’

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Company Caught Selling Tainted Marijuana Can’t Trace Source of Contamination


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Cannabis Conversations continue. MP Blair on a Federal Roundtable Tour


In early spring, 2016, the Government of Canada announced a Task Force to undertake research and consultation with Canadians on the subject of cannabis legalization and regulation. ‘Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation’ (TFCLR) was born and consultations were undertaken June 2016 – November 2016 throughout the country.

MP Bill Blair (Scarborough-South West), in his role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was the government’s point person for TFCLR.

The final report of the ‘Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation’, was published Nov. 30, 2016.  MP Blair is continuing an outreach tour on the subject of cannabis through more roundtable forums in various communities across Canada, including Sault Ste. Marie, where he stopped on Monday, Feb. 27th, 2017.

“The Task force did a number of round tables, principally with people from four sectors; Justice, Public Safety, Public health and Problematic Substance Use. They were gathering evidence and speaking with a number of people in those sectors, including Medical Associations, asking for their advice and then making recommendations to the government. That process took place from June – December of 2016.  Now that we have received the recommendations from the task force, based on the evidence, the government has to now make some decisions.”

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Donald Trump vs. marijuana: Here’s who will win


By Adam Bierman – CNBC – Feb 27, 2017

By now, many have seen the headlines: “White House Spokesman Predicts More Federal Action Against Marijuana” (NPR), “White House: Feds will step up marijuana law enforcement” (CNN), “Marijuana entrepreneurs try to stay calm after Spicer comments on weed” (CNBC). It is hard to believe a minute and a half out of an hour-long press briefing could cause so much commotion.

Let’s examine what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer actually said. He essentially said two things. He distinguished medical marijuana from adult use, and he believes “you’ll see greater enforcement” of the Controlled Substance Act against recreational use.

Mr. Spicer did not say there were any imminent actions from the U.S. Department of Justice, the agency charged with enforcing federal law. In fact, he said the question of enforcement would be better addressed by the DOJ itself. Mr. Spicer was stating what he believes.

Here’s what I believe. I believe Mr. Spicer’s acknowledgement that the president supports state’s rights when it comes to medical marijuana is a positive development. Mr. Spicer also referenced the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, first passed in 2014, which currently prohibits the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

“The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” Mr. Spicer said.

So at least on the question of medical marijuana, there seems to be broad consensus. Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and accounts for about three quarters of the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.

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Australia Approves Immediate Medicinal Cannabis Trade


By LANAI SCARR | February 21st, 2017

Australia will now allow cannabis trade for medical use

Sick Australians with some of the worst ailments will no longer wait months for relief or be forced to turn to the black market to access medicinal cannabis with the government green-lighting the legal sale of marijuana products for medical use in Australia.

Health Minister Greg Hunt will on Wednesday announce companies will be permitted to apply to distribute cannabis oils and medications locally, establishing an immediate legal marijuana trade.

 

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News Corp Australia understands the government has been actively discussing the issue with half a dozen companies who are ready to distribute immediately.

Last year the federal parliament passed laws to legalize medicinal cannabis use in Australia for patients with painful and chronic illnesses.

Those include cancer patients, HIV sufferers and people with severe epilepsy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, among others. However the rules vary from state to state as to approved conditions and ages.

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Patients desperately wanting access to the drug for relief currently require a letter from their GP or an approved prescriber.

Due to no available legal market in Australia, until now they were forced to import medicinal cannabis products from overseas or turn to the black market. Importation from overseas often meant cannabis products were unable to be received for months due to regulatory paperwork and compliance. Patients were also forced to obtain an importation permit for each specific importation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

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Ohio’s first cannabis college aims to give students an advantage in the medical marijuana industry


By: News 5 Staff – News 5 Cleveland – February 19, 2017

Ohio’s first cannabis college aims to give students an advantage in the medical marijuana industry

 

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – The Cleveland Cannabis College is the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio.

Located in Independence, it will be the epicenter for education and training related to medical marijuana. Since Ohio passed a bill to legalize the use of medical marijuana, conferences and groups have continued to pop across the state.

The college will offer training and educational courses about medical marijuana laws and its history. Classes about horticulture will also be offered.

Educators at the college believe students will get a job six months after graduating. Once the medical marijuana laws are finalized, students will be ahead of the learning curve.

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3 Weed-Friendly Wedding Planners Tell Us All About Planning Cannabis-Infused Nuptials


By: Ivy Jacobson – The Knot – April 20, 2016

3 Weed-Friendly Wedding Planners Tell Us All About Planning Cannabis-Infused Nuptials

Since recreational marijuana has been legalized in four states, couples are now looking for ways to incorporate cannabis into their nuptials—and these are just the planners to help.

It’s true: Because of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, some 4/20-loving couples are now looking for ways to include weed in their wedding day—from bud bouquets to special edibles at the reception. And while we don’t expect it to become as popular as, say, the signature drink at cocktail hour, the weed-friendly wedding planners and experts we talked to gave us reason to believe that we can expect to see more of it over the coming years.

Name and Company: Niki McDonald, LoveandMarij.com, based in Colorado

Sound Bite: I’m a New York City native who came into the cannabis industry by moving out to Colorado to direct and produce MSNBC’s Pot Barons of Colorado. After spending eight months on the ground in Colorado learning the ins and outs of the legal cannabis industry, I created Love and Marij to shatter outdated stereotypes and show how legal cannabis can pair with class at upscale events.

How long have you been in the wedding industry? Wedding planning: 2012; cannabis wedding planning: 2014

What are some different ways you’ve incorporated weed into weddings? In legal states, the sky’s the limit! You can light up in your limo, put buds in your bouquet, serve a signature strain, hotbox your hotel, serve a bud bar with your open bar, give ganja gift bags and beyond.

Have there been any challenges finding weed-friendly vendors to participate in weddings? While cannabis remains federally illegal, and with state laws constantly in flux, many wedding vendors have a desire to integrate cannabis into their day, but don’t want to assume unnecessary risk. Other vendors want to service their cannabis clients but feel as if the taboo of marijuana will paint them in an unfavorable light with their non-cannabis clients.

Love and Marij is working to marry the cannabis industry with the wedding industry. In states where recreational cannabis is legal, we’re working with state cannabis regulators and the state police to bring clarity to cannabis laws, allowing more vendors to comfortably exercise their legal right to work with cannabis.

Though efforts like the Cannabis Wedding Giveaway and the world’s first Cannabis Wedding Expo, which was held last January in Denver, our mission is to unite the brave pioneers of the cannabis wedding movement and create to prove to the world that cannabis can coexist with class.

Who are some of your favorite weed-friendly vendors? The Cultivating Spirits experience is my personal favorite bachelor/bachelorette or rehearsal dinner experience. It’s not about “getting high”—it’s paring a small hit of specific cannabis strains to bring out the flavor of food, wine and craft beer. The Herbal Chef trained under Southern California’s top chefs in Michelin-star restaurants and has prepared some of the most incredible infused meals I’ve had to date. And Cannabis Concierge Events is an expert cannabis event planner who can make your wildest cannabis dreams come true. If getting a buzz isn’t your thing, there are hundreds of ways to use the cannabis plant for medicinal wedding day befits from CBD (Cibaderm Cannabidiol) based skin care products to transdermal patches that can take away the pain of high heels or dress slacks.

What’s been your favorite weed wedding feature? Our favorite cannabis wedding innovation has been the concept of a cannabis wedding registry service at legal cannabis dispensaries. My favorite part of planning my own wedding was the upscale treatment large department stores give you when you’re signing up for your registry and I wanted to replicate that luxe treatment in dispensaries. Through Love and Marij’s cannabis registry service, you can make an appointment with a dispensary’s top budtender to help you select your signature strain. We’ve started the process in Colorado and are about to extend the service into other states

What are your favorite fun edibles to create at the reception? In lieu of champagne, I love the idea of a sparking cannabis toast with Dixie Elixirs. Companies like Sweet Grass Kitchen and Julie’s Natural Edibles offer low-dose strain specific edibles so guests can achieve an intended feeling. If you’re a chocolate lover, s’mores made with Incredibles chocolate makes for the perfect nightcap!

For anyone looking to serve up edibles as an alternative to smoking at their wedding, we highly recommend hiring a budtender for the evening to properly administer dosing. For guests that are new to edibles, the most common mistake is having too much, too soon. To guarantee a good time, our recommended milligram dosage is 3 to 5 mg of THC for a first-time consumer. For many tipsy people with a sweet tooth, it’s hard to practice self control. Since it can take up to two hours to fully feel the effects of an edible, a budtender will help your guests avoid the common mistake of thinking they’re ready for seconds before they truly are.

While homemade edibles can make for a sweet personal touch, save your baking for home. For a large group of guests, our advice is to stick with licensed edibles manufactures that print their lab results on their products. This will better regulate the potency of what your guests are getting.

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More Than $1-million of Tainted Medical Marijuana Destroyed


| February 15th, 2017

Over 1 million dollars of tainted cannabis destroyed but this time it wasn’t the police, this time it was done for safety.

More than a million dollars of medical marijuana has been destroyed so far amid the fallout from a tainted cannabis scare hitting the government-regulated sector, as patients’ fears grow that Health Canada has no way of knowing how big the problem actually is.

Canopy Growth Corp., which recently acquired Mettrum Ltd., said on Tuesday that it has written off about $800,000 of costs owing to a series of product recalls Mettrum announced starting in November.

Those recalls came after Mettrum was caught with a banned pesticide and known carcinogen in products that were sold in 2016. A former Mettrum employee told The Globe and Mail that he witnessed staff spraying plants with myclobutanil as far back as 2014, despite knowing the chemical is prohibited, because it emits hydrogen cyanide when heated.

To evade detection, he said, staff hid the pesticide in the ceiling tiles of the company’s offices when Health Canada inspectors visited the site, aware that the department wasn’t testing the plants for banned chemicals.

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Mettrum’s recall is one of several to hit the sector after OrganiGram Holdings Inc. was also caught selling products containing myclobutanil, forcing it to recall and destroy several hundred thousand dollars worth of product.

While Health Canada has since attached new conditions to the licences of Mettrum and Organigram, requiring them to test products to prove they are clean, the federal department told The Globe it is not placing those same restrictions on the broader industry, which is made up of 38 companies – and is essentially left to police itself.

Health Canada announced last week it would subject the industry only to random tests, but that has left patients wondering which companies they can trust– since Health Canada has no way of proving which products are clean, without requiring more stringent and consistent testing.

The Globe and Mail has asked Health Canada for an explanation as to why it doesn’t feel regular testing is necessary, particularly in light of the recent recalls, and is awaiting a response.

Most of the $800,000 writeoff at Mettrum is related to marijuana that needed to be destroyed, Canopy chief executive officer Bruce Linton said; however, some of that money was to cover the costs of testing products to see which had been exposed.

OrganiGram revealed a few weeks ago that its recalls have cost slightly less than $500,000. OrganiGram CEO Denis Arsenault couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, but one analyst said the bulk of that figure is also believed to be from product that had to be destroyed.

After The Globe revealed in late December that Mettrum’s recall was due to myclobutanil, a fact that neither Health Canada nor Mettrum included in their official public announcements, OrganiGram issued a recall days later that was also due to myclobutanil. A third company, Aurora Cannabis Inc., which purchased a bulk shipment from OrganiGram, also issued a recall.

At a cost of nearly $1.3-million dollars so far, the combined recalls at OrganiGram and Mettrum make up the most costly quality-control issue to hit the nascent sector. The federal government launched the medical marijuana industry in 2014 as a way to provide clean and safe pharmaceutical-grade marijuana to patients, including to those prescribed it by their doctors to treat conditions such as pain associated with cancer, complications from multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder

The recalls have exposed a glaring lack of oversight by Health Canada, and raised questions about the government’s response to the problem. Myclobutanil is approved for use on some foods, because the chemical is safely metabolized by the digestive system. However, when smoked, it enters the bloodstream directly through the lungs. Known to emit hydrogen cyanide when burned, myclobutanil is banned on plants that are smoked, including tobacco and cannabis. Its manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences, recently issued a statement saying the product is unsafe for such crops.

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Health Canada said in September it had a zero-tolerance policy for contaminants such as myclobutanil, known among growers as an illegal shortcut to saving crops from mildew infestations.

But when the pesticide was discovered at Mettrum and OrganiGram, Health Canada and the companies played down the problem. Mettrum and OrganiGram told clients the chemical was approved for use on fruit, giving the impression of safety, while Health Canada referred to the residue detected as “trace amounts” that are “low risk.”

A top U.S. toxicologist questioned Health Canada’s response, saying it and the companies “have no idea whether or not that’s true,” because there is no scientific data to support those assurances.

“Ultra low doses can have all kinds of biological effects, especially over longer periods of exposure,” said Warren Porter, a specialist in molecular and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Armed Robbers Hit another Toronto Cannabis Dispensary on Wednesday


CBC News | February 16, 2017

Police were called to the Canna Clinic Wednesday evening after reports of an armed robbery

Armed robbers hit another Toronto pot dispensary, this time on Eglinton Avenue West late Wednesday evening.

Multiple men entered the Canna Clinic dispensary at 527 Eglinton Avenue West shortly before 9 p.m., according to Toronto police.

One of them took out a gun, sending staff and customers running. The suspects themselves fled on foot after grabbing an unknown amount of merchandise.

No one was injured. Police searched the area, but did not find their suspects.

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Shattered glass outside the Canna Clinic’s front window is seen on the ground outside.

 

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Marijuana dispensary still planning to open in Prince George despite closure by RCMP


By Andrew Kurjata | February 14th, 2017

Although the mayor and RCMP have said marijuana retailers in Prince George will be treated as illegal businesses until new federal laws come into place, a pot dispensary hopes to start selling to customers in northern B.C. soon.

WeeMedical opened a ‘Wellness Centre’ in downtown Prince George on February 3.

It was closed three days later when RCMP and city officials found they were operating without a business licence and had illegal drugs on the premises.

Cannabis dispensary Manager James Brown acknowledges it was a rocky start, but believes the time is still right for the venture.

“Prince George and the surrounding area needs a dispensary,” he said shortly after the shutdown.

WeeMedical

WeeMedical Wellness Centre announced its Prince George opening in a Facebook post, Feb. 3. It was shut down by RCMP, Feb. 6. (WeeMedical Facebook)

Brown said he’s now applying for a business licence to reopen as a site to sell cannabis paraphernalia and related products, but ultimately he wants to sell medical marijuana to people with legal prescriptions.

To do this, he plans to connect with local advocates to petition city hall to begin regulating pot dispensaries using zoning rules ands and business licences, a model pioneered by Vancouver and Victoria.

Past clashes

This is Brown’s first venture into marijuana retail, but WeeMedical already has several locations in B.C., with mixed levels of cooperation from local government.

The municipality of North Delta denied WeeMedical’s application for a business licence multiple times, and won a court case preventing it from operating.

In response, the store shut down and reopened under a different name.

WeeMedical

WeeMedical changed its name and storefront after the B.C. Supreme court served it a permanent statutory injunction preventing it from operating. (WeeCare Med Delta/Facebook)

In Chilliwack, a Weemedical Wellness Centre was operating with a licence to sell marijuana accessories but, as reported by the Chilliwack Progress, the licence was revoked after council received complaints that cannabis was being sold as well.

When asked about retailing marijuana when it is still against the law, Brown said the laws themselves are the problem.

“You cannot get a business licence because there’s none,” he said.

“So either you have to come in and try to do a soft approach, trying to work with the council, work with the community, or a dozen of us come in here and just open up.”

WeeMedical ATTN PATIENTS

In Delta, WeeMedical appealed to its customers to support the business with a posting on its front door and photos shared to the Facebook page. (WeeCare Med Delta/Facebook)

Brown said he’s convinced people opposed to marijuana of its medical benefits before, including his own mother.

“My mom has Crohn’s [disease],” he said. “She was really against cannabis, for years. And I just educated her: I bought her books, I showed her videos… and now she sleeps properly. She’s fully functioning.”

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Men’s Wearhouse Founder Reveals How Smoking Marijuana for 50 Years Changed His Life


By Melia Robinson | February 13th, 2017

Men’s Warehouse founder George Zimmer has a penchant for speaking his mind

The 68-year-old serial entrepreneur was fired from Men’s Wearhouse, the company he founded 40 years earlier, in 2013 over differences with the company’s board.

“You know, one of the very small reasons — and I say small — would be that I tended to be kind of a renegade or somebody who said what he thought,” Zimmer told Business Insider about his firing. “That made the board of directors increasingly uncomfortable.”

Zimmer has since launched a tuxedo rental company, Generation Tux, and is channelling his candour into marijuana activism.

Zimmer donated $50,000 in 2010 to an ultimately unsuccessful California ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. He’s spoken at cannabis conferences in California and Nevada, two states that fully legalized pot in 2016. This week, he’ll add Oregon to the list when he gives the keynote address at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference on February 15.

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On lending his iconic, gravelly voice to the marijuana legalization movement, Zimmer said, “It was just one of those little things that I did over my life that pissed people off.”

Zimmer says he smoked weed for the first time while attending Washington University in St. Louis in the 1960s, and he continues to use cannabis. He told Inc. magazine in 2016 that he used to inhale “anything that combusts” and that he once smoked six joints in an hour with the spiritual icon Ram Dass.

Through the years, he used the drug as a crutch as he weaned himself off alcohol. It’s been 35 years since the recovering alcoholic had a drink, and he credits much of his success to his ability to “transfer the addiction” from a potentially dangerous drug to a more benign one.

Researchers have yet to take a definitive stance on whether marijuana — a Schedule I drug that is illegal under federal law — is safer than alcohol. While there is no lethal dose of marijuana, an estimated 88,000 people die in the US every year of alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“The fact is — and I mean the scientific fact — [marijuana] is less toxic and dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, which are the main drugs in the United States,” Zimmer said.

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(Master grower Ryan Douglas waters marijuana plants at Tweed Marijuana Inc. in Smith’s Falls, Ontario.Reuters/Blair Gable)

Zimmer was inspired to speak out about his marijuana use after seeing how the drug had been demonized for decades. In the 1939 film “Reefer Madness,” for example, a group of teenagers succumb to violence, murder, and hysteria after lighting up the green stuff.

“I’m just following a kind of lifetime passion of mine to help correct this myth,” Zimmer said.

He says that in addition to reducing his dependence on alcohol, marijuana might have even helped him cope after Men’s Wearhouse gave him the boot.

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Cannabis industry opposes call for plain packaging and bans on advertising


By Laura Kane, The Canadian Press | February 14th, 2017

Cannabis industry opposes call for plain packaging and bans on advertising

VANCOUVER — Garfield Mahood has spent 30 years fighting for the Canadian government to require plain packaging for cigarettes.

So, the long-time non-smokers’ rights activist says he doesn’t have much faith in the government’s ability to regulate and restrict the marketing of marijuana.

“They identified tobacco products as a cause of disease back in the 1950s,” said Mahood, president of the Campaign for Justice on Tobacco Fraud. “They’ve never been able to bring this epidemic close to a conclusion.

 

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“What would give you faith that health departments are going to effectively regulate any health problems related to these other drugs?”

As the Liberal government prepares to introduce legislation to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” before this summer, one area that the cannabis industry and public health advocates are closely watching is whether it will allow companies to brand and promote their products.

A task force appointed by the federal government recommended it require plain packaging and a limit to advertising similar to the restrictions on tobacco. But licensed producers of medical marijuana argue that cannabis isn’t as dangerous as tobacco and that branding and marketing are necessary to attract consumers from the black market to the legal industry.

Mahood began advocating for plain packaging on tobacco in the mid-1980s. Governments over the years declined to implement it until 2016, when Health Minister Jane Philpott vowed to ban branding on cigarette boxes and a bill was introduced in the Senate.

The aim is to strip the industry’s ability to attach “sophistication and allure” to its products, said Mahood, and to prevent it from detracting from public-health warnings.

While there is a lot that researchers still don’t know about marijuana, it’s not a benign substance and there are health risks, said Rebecca Jesseman, a senior policy adviser at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which supports plain packaging.

The inhalation of any hot vapour into the lungs is harmful and can lead to cancer, while edible products have been linked to over-consumption and increased emergency room visits in Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal, she said.

“It’s much easier to be more restrictive from the outset and then loosen the restrictions as you learn, than it is to start out with looser regulations and try to make them more stringent,” she said.

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Cam Battley, executive vice-president at Aurora Cannabis, said he would never call a psychoactive substance completely benign. But he said marijuana is more benign than alcohol or tobacco.

“There are millions of Canadians who purchase cannabis. What the federal government is trying to do is get people to switch over from the illegal and unregulated market to the regulated market,” he said.

“If they want to do that, it makes sense to allow us to state who we are, to establish our brands, to justify why it makes sense for consumers to go through the legal system instead of going to somebody they know in the neighbourhood.”

In terms of advertising, Battley said he believes that cannabis should be treated essentially the same as liquor, a sector where companies cannot show people using the product in commercials or target underage individuals.

The federal task force recommended that plain marijuana packaging be allowed to include the company name, strain name, price, amounts of psychoactive ingredients and warnings.

But that information isn’t enough to ensure people can buy the product they want, said Mark Zekulin, president of Tweed, a subsidiary of Canopy Growth, the largest of Canada’s publicly traded marijuana companies.

“If you try to compare five different whiskies, they’re all going to be 35 per cent alcohol or 40 per cent alcohol, but at the end of the day they’re all very different,” he said. “Cannabis is probably more diverse.”

A ban on branding and advertising could create a more level playing field between large licensed producers and smaller “craft” growers, said Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

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Langford Mayor Upset Over Reopening of Marijuana Dispensary


By Michael D Reid | February 12th, 2017

 

Langford mayor Stew Young says he’s madder than hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.

“I am not going to turn a blind eye to something illegal,” said Young, referring to the fact that the Green Tree Medical Dispensary, which sells marijuana, had reopened on the weekend. It had been shut down by West Shore RCMP on Jan. 17, the day after it opened.

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“It is still illegal and the police will do their job, but the federal government better get it’s act together, because I’m fed up with the top politicians in the country saying we’re going to legalize pot and it’s turned into a free-for-all in the meantime,” said Young, adding it’s up to West Shore RCMP to take action. “I will never go to a policeman and say, ‘Do not uphold the law.’

A spokesman for West Shore RCMP said on Saturday that police were aware Green Tree, operating without a business license, had reopened and they were continuing to investigate.

West Shore RCMP said when Green Tree was first closed that it’s illegal for medicinal marijuana dispensaries or compassion clubs to sell marijuana to the public, regardless of whether customers have medical licences to possess marijuana or the vendor has a licence to produce.

“Businesses and/or individuals operating in contravention of the CDSA and Health Canada regulations may be subject to investigation and criminal charges in accordance with Canadian laws,” said West Shore RCMP spokesman Const. Alex Bérubé.

Despite a stop work order from the City of Langford posted on the door of the business at #108-688 Granderson Rd., an illuminated OPEN sign listed  operating hours as 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily.

A staffer at Langford’s only storefront marijuana dispensary confirmed it had reopened but declined further comment.

West Shore RCMP investigators conducted a compliance check before shutting it down the first time, said spokesman Const. Alex Berube in a news release.

He said officers observed evidence of possible offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Some marijuana was seized.

“You can’t say this is an election promise and then just do nothing,” said Young, referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to eventually legalize and regulate non-medical cannabis use.

While the federal government has said it plans to introduce legislation this spring, it could be 2018 before it is implemented.

Since there still is no solid plan in place in the meantime, it’s making life difficult for municipal politicians, bylaw enforcers and police, said Young.

He has told a dozen applicants for marijuana storefronts that  Langford will not consider granting business licenses until federal legislation is in place.

“With no regulations in place, they’re creating a big problem. They’ve really let down the public on this,” he said.

He said it was absurd that, while Health Canada regulates production of medical marijuana by producers across Canada who distribute their producxt by mail, there are no regulations for storefront operations.

“What knowledge [about medical marijuana] does some guy setting up a shop in Langford have?” he said. “Licensed producers are not supplying these pot shops. There are no licensing agreements yet.”

He said “the feds could solve this in one month” if pharmacies were permitted to sell medical marijuana from licenced producers approved by Health Canada.

“It should be distributed through a doctor or a pharmacy,” added Young, who says he has no trouble with the concept of decriminalizing marijuana.

“We just don’t know where these guys are getting their marijuana. It could even be from organized crime for all we know.”

Jonathan Henrikson, who operates the online Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Vancouver Island directory, said he learned through his Facebook page that the Langford dispensary had reopened.

 

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