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OPINION: Canada will legalize pot, after arresting a bunch of people for pot offences first


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.

Marijuana Legalization 20170413

Canada intends to continue arresting, prosecuting and criminalizing Canadians who commit this minor and non-violent offence. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

 

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.

 

Wilson-Raybould has not explained why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

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.

 

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How a Cannabis Expert Sneaks Weed Past the TSA


How a Cannabis Expert Sneaks Weed Past the TSA

By: Patrick Allan – Lifehacker – April 17. 2017 – Tips for flying within the US

So you’re about to hop on a plane, but you want to bring your legally acquired medical marijuana product with you on the flight. It’s a very sticky icky situation, but here’s what one expert recommends

If you’re thinking “Won’t you get in trouble?!” the answer is maybe. Marijuana is legal in a lot of places in the U.S. now, especially for medicinal purposes, and TSA doesn’t actually look for drugs—it’s not their job. There are no drug-sniffing scanners in those conveyor belt machines, and they aren’t chomping at the bit to bust you for having weed-infused honey. Their focus is on safety and finding dangerous items. Plus, the TSA has relaxed a little on the matter for a few years now, and some major airports are now even considered to be “medical marijuana-friendly.” For example, you can fly domestically within the state of California carrying eight ounces or less of medicinal marijuana or equivalent in cannabis product as long as you have a state-issued card.

That said, things can get complicated because the TSA is a federal program. Marijuana is still illegal according to federal law, no matter what a state’s laws say, and the TSA says local law is not relevant when it comes to handling such matters. They don’t treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana since federal law provides no basis for it. The whole federal vs. state law thing is a mess, but if you want to try and understand it all, Last Week Tonight had a great rundown of the situation. So what’s that mean for you, a well-to-do novice smuggler? Well, TSA may not be looking for your weed, but they might refer the matter to a law enforcement officer if they happen across it during security screening, even if you have a state-issued card. Then whatever happens is up to the responding law enforcement officer. They might confiscate the item, or possibly arrest you. This should go without saying, but try at your own risk.

If you are going to try, though, there are ways to do it right and increase your odds. Basically, you just need to make it so TSA won’t happen across it during routine checks, which is actually easier than it sounds. Over at The Cannabist, Joel Milton, the chief executive of Baker, a tech company that helps dispensaries build their brand and engage with their customers, shares his best tips:

  • Don’t bring any liquid cannabis: TSA is always on the lookout for liquids of any kind, so avoid the infused drinks and elixirs. Bringing a liquid under the 3.5 ounce limit is better, but still not ideal since they’ll be looking more closely.
  • Use odor-sealed packaging: If you’re bringing flowers, or even some edibles, keep them sealed in containers that don’t let any stink out. If they can smell it at all, you’re not getting it through. Pack it along with snacks and food items so it blends in.
  • Don’t try too hard to hide it: TSA and their machines are looking for anomalies. As Milton points out, shoving a container of it into a jar of peanut butter is going to look very suspicious on a scanner. Same goes for shoving a vape pen into the battery compartment of your laptop and other such hideaways. They’ll want to pull those things out and check them. Milton says it’s better to keep the amount very small and to hide things in plain sight.
  • Eat an edible before you fly: If you’re not comfortable flying with it on your person, just down a treat before you go through security. Just know your limits and don’t eat too much.

Milton explains he’s had his bags searched several times by TSA, usually because of an errant water bottle, but he’s had things hidden in plain sight that went overlooked. Remember, TSA are looking for very specific things. If they don’t see that stuff, they want to move things along as fast as possible.

Still, keep in mind, if it’s found by a TSA agent, things might not work out. But as long as you’re careful, not trying to smuggle a brick of it, and not flaunting it around like an idiot, there’s no reason you should have any trouble. TSA makes the final call on whether an item is allowed on the plane or not, so be smart and don’t give them a reason not to allow it.

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Justice Minister defends proposed 14-year maximum sentence for providing cannabis to minors


Justice Minister defends proposed 14-year maximum sentence for providing cannabis to minors

By: Bill Curry – Globe and Mail – April 16, 2017

A prison sentence of up to 14 years for providing cannabis to youth is shaping up as one of the early points of contention as the Liberal government prepares to defend its landmark legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, makes clear in its opening passages that the main purpose of the legislation is to prevent young people from accessing cannabis.

Those opening statements are backed up with stiff penalties, including imprisonment for up to 14 years for providing marijuana to someone 17 or under.

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould defended that provision during an interview with CTV’s Question Period, which aired Sunday.

“We want to ensure when we legalize cannabis in this country that we keep it out of the hands of kids and do everything that we can in order to make that happen,” said Ms. Wilson-Raybould. “I am not going to apologize for the strict penalties that we’ve put in place in this legislation.”

The penalties for providing marijuana to a minor would be much more severe than those currently in place in relation to alcohol. In Ontario, for instance, the sale of alcohol to a minor carries a maximum sentence of one year.

In the state of Colorado, where legal marijuana stores have been operating since Jan. 1, 2014, selling alcohol to minors is treated as a misdemeanour offence in a similar way to Ontario.

For marijuana, only individuals aged 21 or older are allowed to buy or possess cannabis products in Colorado. As it relates to providing marijuana to minors, the state set four levels of offences based on the quantity of product as well as whether or not the minor is more than two years younger than the adult. The potential sentences range from six months to 32 years.

Craig Jones, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada (NORML Canada), said the penalties in the Canadian bill for providing marijuana to someone 17 or under simply don’t make sense.

Mr. Jones said it would be highly unlikely that a judge would impose such a penalty. He also said groups like his would challenge the provision in court as unreasonable.

“For the last 50-odd years, governments have put out this scenario of this trenchcoat-wearing, fedora-clad stranger hovering around the perimeter of schoolyards selling drugs of all kinds to children,” he said. “But the truth is that most kids who acquire cannabis get it from their siblings or a friend a couple of lockers down the hallway. I just can’t envision a scenario in which a judge thinks that a 14-year sentence is applicable to what is probably, in most cases, a first offender. It just struck me as a kind of ridiculous thing that will get amended in committee review.”

The government tabled the 144-page bill on Thursday before the House of Commons rose for a two-week recess. The government also tabled a related bill, C-46, that updates impaired driving laws.

Conservative Senator Vern White, the former chief of police in Ottawa, said he’s not concerned by the 14-year maximum sentence. He said that because there is no mandatory minimum sentence, judges will use their discretion.

“I’m fine with it because really it’s [for] an extreme case,” he said. “I think judges will take into account the age difference, whether or not they were friends, whether the buyer was a frequent buyer. All that kind of stuff is still going to be considered.”

Other offences currently in the Criminal Code that carry maximum 14-year sentences include producing child pornography, attempting to leave Canada to commit terrorism and aggravated assault of a peace officer.

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How to legalize marijuana, without ever saying ‘marijuana’


How to legalize marijuana, without ever saying ‘marijuana’

What’s in a name? Why Liberal ministers stuck to a script on pot

By David Cochrane – CBC News – April 14, 2017

There is a superstition in the acting world that William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is cursed, so actors avoid saying its name inside a theatre to avoid bad luck.

They refer to it instead as “the Scottish play.”

On Thursday, you would have been forgiven if you thought there was a similar superstition around speaking the word “marijuana” in the National Press Theatre.

Four cabinet ministers and the parliamentary secretary who has headed up the government’s marijuana legalization efforts spent close to an hour taking questions and outlining their plan to legalize and regulate marijuana without ever uttering the word.

They referred to it instead as “cannabis.” Forty-five times, in fact.

They were asked questions that used the word “marijuana.” They were asked questions that used the word “pot.” But in each and every answer, the ministers pivoted to the word “cannabis” with a level of discipline that suggested intent.

One might have developed the impression the government was dancing away from the word “marijuana” on the day it made good on its promise to table marijuana legislation.

As it turns out, that was the case.

‘Parochial words’

“Cannabis is the term that the (federal) task force used. We are moving away from ‘marijuana,’ which seems to be a more parochial word that is used in terms of cannabis,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told CBC Radio’s The House.

The government has freely used the word “marijuana” in the debate around this public policy choice. As recently as April 11, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used it in question period — even throwing in a “joint” for good measure.

“We are legalizing and controlling the sale of marijuana with two goals in mind,” Trudeau told the House of Commons. “First is protecting our young people from the easy access they have to marijuana right now. It is easier for a teenager to buy a joint than a bottle of beer.”

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Cannabis Culture stores remain open across Canada despite Toronto closures


Cannabis Culture stores remain open across Canada despite Toronto closures

A statement from Jeremiah Vandermeer, Cannabis Culture’s chief of operations, and the magazine’s editor-in-chief

By: Jeremiah Vandermeer – April 12, 2017 – Toronto Now

CANNABIS CULTURE – They arrest our staff and leaders. They raid our stores and lounges to steal and destroy our property. They try to kill what our company represents and erase our existence – but no army, politician or police force can stop an idea whose time has come.

I am sad to announce that all of our Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto and Hamilton have been forced to close their doors. Unfortunately, repeated raids, arrests, and threats to our landlords by authorities in Ontario have made it impossible for us to remain there until the laws have changed.

However, all of our Cannabis Culture stores outside of Toronto and Hamilton remain open for business!

The arrest of Jodie Emery – Cannabis Culture’s Chief Executive Officer – and the rest of the CC Five has been a hard hit for us. Jodie and Marc have been forced to remove themselves from the company due to restrictive bail conditions set by the Toronto police.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite his promise to reform our cannabis laws, continues to destroy the lives of our citizens by waging an unscientific and disastrous drug war. Alarmingly, the government has promised to increase criminal enforcement of marijuana restrictions even after “legalization” .

Cannabis Culture lives on and will maintain our quest for real marijuana legalization.

We will continue to stand up and fight for the decriminalization of our cannabis community at home and abroad – a peaceful community that has existed internationally for decades, flourishing in business and culture despite the risk of stigmatization and imprisonment.

We will likewise continue to speak out against increasing attempts to hijack and monopolize the budding legal cannabis industry and lobbying efforts by stock market marijuana companies to criminalize their competitors.

Activists and medical patients have fought for years to reform draconian drug laws, and have made major gains by winning cases and overturning bad laws in the Canadian courts. Canada’s Licensed Marijuana Producers now profit heavily thanks to the work activists have done for years in opening the doors to reform. Sadly, many of these companies seek to close the door behind them now that they have made it through the regulatory crack.

Started by Marc Emery over 20 years ago, Cannabis Culture has engaged in civil disobedience by breaking unjust laws and setting an example of what real, all-inclusive cannabis legalization should look like at our head shops, lounges and dispensaries – and we won’t stop until peaceful pot-lovers are truly free.
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Psychiatrists ask Liberals to keep cannabis illegal up to age 21


Psychiatrists ask Liberals to keep cannabis illegal up to age 21

By: Josh Dehaas – CTV News – April 13, 2017

Citing evidence of the risks to developing brains, the Canadian Psychiatric Association is urging the government to outlaw sales of cannabis to people under the age of 21, and to restrict the quantity and potency of cannabis products that can be purchased by people aged 21 to 25.

The CPA’s position puts them at odds with the Liberals’ task force, which recommended in December that marijuana and other cannabis products be legalized for those 18 or older.

The Liberals’ legislation to legalize recreational pot use is expected to be tabled Thursday.

The CPA says it based its position on the fact that the brain continues to mature until the mid-20s, and research suggests cannabis use interferes with brain development in a multitude of negative ways, including:

  • Aspects of cognition, including attention, memory, processing speed, visuospatial functioning and overall intelligence
  • Increased risk of developing a primary psychotic illness in those individuals who are vulnerable
  • Links between cannabis and depression, anxiety disorders and the onset of other mental illnesses
  • Possible adverse effects on the development of babies whose mothers use it while pregnant
  • An increased likelihood of dependence among those who start using younger.

The Canadian Medical Association, which favours legalization in general, has also recommended that the legal age for marijuana consumption be set at 21 with more potent products restricted until age 25.

The CMA said a position statement issued last fall that 25 would be the “ideal minimum age” for legal purchases but that 25 was unrealistic.

The CMA identified the health harms of marijuana as including:

  • Addiction
  • Cardiovascular effects
  • Pulmonary effects like chronic bronchitis
  • Mental illness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Higher incidence of psychosis disorders like schizophrenia
  • Injuries from impaired driving

Stocks in companies planning to capitalize on marijuana jumped in December when the Liberals’ task force recommended a minimum age of 18.

Jeffrey Lizotte, CEO of Next Wave brands, said at the time that the stock buying happened because most companies had expected the minimum purchase age to be set at somewhere between 21 and 25.

“Luckily they took a more evidence-based approach,” Lizotte said. “They understand that most consumers are aged 18 to 25, so if you exclude them from this market they’ll go to the black market.”

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Ottawa to speed up approval process for pot producers


Ottawa to speed up approval process for pot producers

BY: Daniel Leblanc – The Globe and Mail – April 11, 2017

The federal government is getting ready to drastically speed up its licensing process to increase the numbers of companies that are authorized to produce marijuana for the recreational market that will open up in the first half of 2018, sources said.

A senior federal official said that in addition to tabling legislation to legalize marijuana on Thursday, the federal government will announce a push to authorize new producers of marijuana. At this point, there are 42 companies that have the necessary authorizations from Health Canada to produce marijuana for medical purposes across the country.

The official said the current holders of licences will have a head start once the market is opened up to recreational users, but added that the federal government will add staff and resources at Health Canada to speed up the approval process for new producers.

A key concern is ensuring that the supply of marijuana will meet the demand for the drug once it is legalized by the unofficial deadline of July 1, 2018. As Ottawa works toward squeezing out illegal producers of marijuana, federal officials are worried that a shortage of cannabis would hurt their plans in the initial stages of legalization.

Another priority for the government will be to ensure that there is a broad variety of producers of marijuana serving the recreational market, and not just the existing network that includes many large-scale facilities.

“It’s obvious that the producers who are already licensed have an advantage going in. But there is also a clear desire on the government’s part to have a mix of big and small producers,” said the federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of the tabling of the legislation.

“There is a great deal of awareness to the needs of smaller producers in the government,” the official added.

Federal officials said the government will table its legislation on Thursday, but that a number of key issues will only be addressed in the rules and regulations that will be unveiled at a later date.

Ottawa will give itself broad powers to oversee the production of marijuana and to design rules on the marketing of the product, which are expected to be similar to the ones that govern Canada’s tobacco industry.

The federal government will leave the provinces and territories entirely in charge of overseeing the distribution and sale of marijuana, in line with Canada’s alcohol regime.

“We are going to let them make their own choices on the sales side,” the federal official said. “It’s going to be similar to the situation with alcohol. In Alberta, it’s in the hands of the private sector, whereas in Quebec and Ontario, it’s run by the state.”

After it is tabled in the House, the legislation to legalize marijuana will be studied in committee. At the same time, the provinces will be expected to develop their own plans to distribute and sell the product.

The federal government will also be working to develop an “interim system” by which marijuana would be available across Canada even if some provinces do not develop their own distribution mechanisms quickly enough. Sources said the project remains in development, although Canada Post could deliver recreational marijuana by mail, as it currently does with medical marijuana.

The federal legislation will be inspired in large part by a task force led by former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, which proposed a complete legalization model in a well-received report last year.

The task force urged the government to allow Canadians to buy or carry 30 grams of marijuana for personal use, and to grow up to four plants at home. The task force also recommended a system that would feature storefront sales and mail-order distribution, and allow a wide range of producers to operate legally, including “craft” growers and the current producers of medical marijuana.

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Kitchener marijuana dispensary reopens after raid


Kitchener marijuana dispensary reopens after raid

By: Greg Mercer – Waterloo Region Record – April 10, 2017

KITCHENER — Just weeks after it was raided by police and its employees carted away in handcuffs, an illegal marijuana dispensary is open again under a new name and “new management.”

The former Green Tree Medical Dispensary at 650 King St. E. in Kitchener was shut down March 10 as part of a police crackdown on the unregulated storefronts that have been popping up around the region.

Signs for Green Tree, part of a national chain with a shadowy ownership based in British Columbia, remain on the building — but a handwritten message taped to a desk inside the business’ front entrance says it’s now called Herbal Leaf.

The employee said she couldn’t say who the new management was or answer any other questions, explaining that “some random guy on the street” asked her if she wanted a job at the store, and she took it. The shop reopened on Sunday.

Four employees arrested last month in the raid at the same store, meanwhile, are out on bail and facing two counts each of drug trafficking. All of them are in their 20s or late teens, and at least one of them is seeking legal aid to help with their defence.

Police seized $26,800 worth of marijuana, $5,400 worth of hash and $17,000 in cash. The owner of the business has not been charged.

With the federal government saying it wants to legalize recreational marijuana use by July 2018, it’s an unusual time for the marijuana industry in Canada. While police have been pressured to enforce the rules as they exist, others have tried to get an early jump on what’s believed to be a multibillion-dollar market.

But police say there should be no confusion around the legality of storefront dispensaries like Green Tree — they remain against the law.

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It could be legal to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana under bill to be tabled Thursday


It could be legal to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana under bill to be tabled Thursday

Highly anticipated pot plans will be made public on Thursday

By Catherine Cullen – CBC News- Apr 10, 2017

When marijuana becomes a legal recreational drug in Canada, the Liberal government wants Canadians to be able to hold up to 30 grams without fear of running afoul of the law, Radio-Canada and CBC News have learned.

That is just one of several details about what will be included in the federal government’s marijuana legislation, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday, according to a senior government source.

Other elements that will be contained in the upcoming bill include:

  • Introducing penalties for selling cannabis to minors and driving while under the influence of marijuana — both of which were contained in the Liberals’ election platform.
  • Rules that will set limits on how marijuana products are marketed, which are expected to be similar to the limitations on alcohol and tobacco.
  • Funding for a public awareness campaign.
  • The approval of roadside saliva tests to detect drug use.

Drugged driving presents a particular challenge. The cannabis task force noted that roadside tests to determine whether a driver is impaired because of pot use are still in development. Public Safety Canada has been working with police in several cities to run pilot projects on different roadside detection tests.

As CBC News has previously reported, the Trudeau government’s goal is to make legalization a reality in Canada on or before July 1, 2018.

Legalization was a Liberal campaign promise in the 2015 election campaign. Both as Liberal leader and later as prime minister, Justin Trudeau has pitched to Canadians that legalization will make it harder for young people to access pot and will take profits away from organized crime.

It’s expected the government will follow a lot of the advice provided by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation.

According to recent reporting by CBC News, that will include:

  • A minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, though provinces and territories will have the option of setting a higher age limit.
  • Allowing Canadians to grow four marijuana plants per household.
  • Licensing of producers, as well as ensuring the safety and security of the marijuana supply, will be a federal concern.
  • Provinces and territories will set the price for marijuana and decide how it is distributed and sold.

Much to discuss

Many of those suggestions will be hot topics of debate.

The Canadian Medical Association has suggested the legal age to buy marijuana should be 21, arguing that would limit damage to developing brains.

Home-growing is not a popular subject for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. That group says it will put added demand on police and make it harder to keep the drug away from children.

Medical marijuana companies have seen their stocks surge and sometimes plunge along the path toward legalization in Canada.

However, both the chair of the government’s task force and the parliamentary budget officer have warned that legalization won’t necessarily be a major cash cow for governments, particularly in the first few years.

The prime minister has already suggested that any government revenues from marijuana sales won’t go toward fattening the federal bank account. Instead, Trudeau has said the money could go toward addiction treatment, mental health support and education programs.

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Police find massive rain forest of cannabis in North London


Police find massive rain forest of cannabis in North London

By: Simon Robb – Metro.co.uk – April 10, 2017

Police have uncovered an ‘Amazon rain forest’ of cannabis plants on a busy high street in North

Beyond an entrance shielded by metal shutters, a room was found crammed with the sprouting plants that almost reached the ceiling.

Officers, who broke into the building, took pictures of the space that was kitted out with fans and overhead lighting.

A 39-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the raid at an address in Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park on Friday.

Finsbury Park Police tweeted: ‘The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed we executed a drugs warrant yesterday, enlisting the help of our method of entry colleagues.

‘Inside the address we found #finsburypark’s own Amazon rainforest! It’s taken some time but now all of the drugs have been seized.’

A Met Police spokesman said: ‘Police in Islington executed a warrant at an address in Stroud Green Road, at 8:57am on Friday, 7 April.

‘A large quantity of suspected cannabis plants were found and seized.

‘A 39-year-old was arrested in connection with this incident. He has been released under investigation. Enquiries continue.’

Supply and production of the Class B drug is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

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Pot on a plane? TSA reverses course after briefly saying it’s OK to fly with cannabis


Pot on a plane? TSA reverses course after briefly saying it’s OK to fly with cannabis

The official website said flying with medical marijuana was no problem – before changing its mind after 24 hours. Legally and practically, the picture is confused

For at least 24 hours, it appeared that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had officially declared what many had suspected all along: if you have a prescription, you can fly with marijuana.

The TSA website’s “What Can I Bring?” page – listing items allowed and banned from plane travel – amended their “Medical Marijuana” section on Tuesday so that a bright green “Yes” appeared next to “checked” and “carry-on bags”.

By Wednesday afternoon, that same page disappeared for a few hours, then returned with a red “No”.

“We’re sorry for any confusion. A mistake was made in the database of our new ‘What Can I Bring’ tool,” the TSA tweeted in response to marijuana-reform advocates celebrating the apparent change in policy.

The incident has only added to the confusion surrounding whether marijuana users have anything to fear in bringing pot on to a plane. Currently, there are only six US states that ban cannabis in all forms. With 13% of citizens reportedly saying they consume the drug regularly, there are now millions of Americans who find themselves in a legal gray area when they travel with cannabis.

State marijuana laws differ in minimum age, medical versus recreational usage and amounts allowed. Plus, marijuana is still very much illegal in nearly all contexts under federal law.

While some travelers are overcome with paranoia at the thought of flying with weed – like the Hawaiian man who assaulted a TSA officer and tried to flee the airport to keep them from finding the joint hidden below his groin – it’s not uncommon to hear stories of people confidently walking through security with marijuana in their pocket.

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Canadian? Curious about cannabis? Here are some answers


Canadian? Curious about cannabis? Here are some answers

What you need to know about legalization in 2018, from taxes to home cultivation

By: Solomon Israel – CBC News – April 2, 2017

Full legalization of marijuana appears to be on track for July 2018, which will make Canada just the second nation in the world after Uruguay to completely legalize the cultivation, sale and possession of the drug for medical and recreational purposes.

With lots still unknown before the legislation is unveiled, Canadians have questions about how legalized marijuana will work.

Government spending spree?​

“There’s plenty of discussion about the tax revenue,” wrote Charlie Crabb. “But how will that money be spent? What’s been discussed so far?”

Taxes could be shared between the federal government (responsible for licensing and regulating producers), provincial governments (in charge of setting prices and determining how marijuana is sold), and municipal governments (which can tax within their own jurisdictions).

The federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommended the federal government “commit to using revenue from cannabis as a source of funding for administration … research and enforcement,”  as well as “a source of funding for prevention, education and treatment.”

Still, the task force felt that “revenue generation should be a secondary consideration for all governments, with the protection and promotion of public health and safety as the primary goals.”

Expect the federal government to keep those recommendations in mind as it prepares for legalization.

What gets legalized next?

Josh Rambeau asked: “Do you think that this legalization, if positive results are seen, might open the door for further legalization of other drugs?”

In January, Toronto-area MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning he believes all illegal drugs should be decriminalized and eventually legalized.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau closed the door on that idea on March 2, when he said his government was not considering legalizing any other illicit drugs.

How much can your garden grow?

“Under Harper we could have six plants,” wrote Mark Hagg. “Under Justin we can only have four.”

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

The Liberal government said it plans to limit home marijuana growers to four plants per household, in line with the task force’s recommendations. (The task force also recommended that plants be limited to 100 centimetres in height.)

The current medical marijuana regulations in Canada went into effect on Aug.24, 2016. Those  Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations evolved from court challenges to previous regulatory regimes.

The first regulatory system was implemented in 2001, before Stephen Harper’s government took power. The next took effect in 2013, during Harper’s tenure. Those rules would have prohibited home growing, but were ultimately reformed after a successful court challenge.

The current rules for growing marijuana for medical purposes are complex. The amount of marijuana that can be grown by a registered patient depends on how much marijuana they’ve been prescribed per day. The government explains the rules — but in short, registered medical marijuana users in Canada can be allowed to grow much more than just six plants.

How young is too young?

Tommy Skinner asked, “What do you guys think the legal age should be?”

As CBC journalists, we don’t take a position on that question. But CBC has revealed that the federal government will set the minimum legal age to use marijuana at 18. The provinces will be able to increase that age if they like.

In U.S. states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the minimum age for marijuana use is 21, in line with the minimum age for buying and using alcohol.

If the provinces set different ages for marijuana purchases, as they do for buying alcohol, young Canadians could end up seeking out jurisdictions where they’re old enough.

Getting high on your own supply

“Do you think many people will take advantage of the ability to grow their own plants?” asked Ricky Clow.

We don’t know, but it’s easy to imagine some Canadians will want to try their hands at cannabis agriculture once it’s legal. Data on legal home growing in the U.S. remains scarce.

Keep in mind: Canadians may be less enthusiastic about growing marijuana at home if the regulations turn out to be strict.

In Colorado, for example, residents who grow for recreational use are allowed to grow up to six plants per state resident over the age of 21. Home growers have to take security measures like growing their plants in a completely enclosed and locked area.

To read the entire article and watch the Q&A click here

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Investors Cheer New Cannabis Bills


Investors Cheer New Cannabis Bills

New cannabis bills are flooding the halls of Congress

By: Jeff Siegel – Wealth Daily – March 30, 2017

Last week, I commented on Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s 5-minute speech to Congress where she made her case for the federal decriminalization of cannabis.

Well, this morning a few more level-headed lawmakers introduced new measures to reform cannabis policy and support cannabis businesses.

As reported by the National Cannabis Industry Association, these reforms were introduced by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives that are looking to resolve tension between state and federal cannabis laws. Check it out …

The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017, introduced in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to take normal business deductions like any other legal business. Currently, the law prohibits cannabis businesses from deducting expenses related to sales.

“Cannabis businesses aren’t asking for tax breaks or special treatment,” said Smith. “They are just asking to be taxed like any other legitimate business. NCIA and its members appreciate this strong support for a fair approach, and we’re especially proud to newly gain that support from Rep. Curbelo.”

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), would regulate marijuana like alcohol by inserting marijuana into the section of the U.S. Code that regulates “intoxicating liquors.” It would give oversight authority to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and would establish a permitting system to cover the cost of that oversight.

The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap (RAMP) Act, introduced by Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer in their respective chambers, covers a broad range of issues at the federal level, including banking and tax fairness for businesses, civil forfeiture, and drug testing for federal employees. The two Oregon officials see the provisions in this bill, collectively, along with the other two bills introduced today, as the “Path to Marijuana Reform.”

The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, introduced by Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer, contains the provisions included in the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act and the Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

Although the introduction of these measures is the beginning of what is likely to be a long and frustrating process, never before have we seen this level of support in Washington. This is actually a very big deal, and as investors in the cannabis space, we are not only paying close attention, but we’re letting our representatives know how we feel, too. I hope you’ll join us in the continued fight against cannabis prohibition, which, without a doubt serves as a violation of human rights.

 

To read the entire article click here

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Half of cancer patients using cannabis, say doctors


Half of cancer patients using cannabis, say doctors

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It’s a highly charged issue, and when it comes to medicinal cannabis, New Zealand – like many countries – is grappling with what to do about it.

Users have reported dramatic health benefits, and now some oncologists have told The Nation between 40 and 60 percent of their patients use it.

And support for its decriminalisation is coming from some unlikely quarters – such as Grey Power.

So rare and deadly is Dawn’s* type of cancer, she wasn’t given the option of chemotherapy.

“It’s a horrible, aching, umm piercing, stabbing pain,” she told The Nation. “Mostly I’ve got it on my left side, my tumours on my left side and they’re rubbing up against my plura.”

After beating breast cancer, she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She has 12 growing tumours – the pain is unrelenting and relief is hard to find.

“I’m probably in a unique position because I’ve tried everything.”

She had been on high doses of morphine and oxycodone to control her pain.

“I would get lots of hot and cold sweats… I get withdrawals,” Dawn said.

“It was okay for a while because I thought, ‘oh yes, I haven’t got the pain’. But the tumours were growing, so the more the pain came back, the more I’d have to take. So I was trying to stay at a level so I didn’t feel like I was too over the top, because I’ve been told I can take twice, three times as much – the amount that I take at the moment, I can only just function.”

There were other side-effects too. She says she became anti-social, and she lost a kilogram a week for 30 weeks.

“Once you haven’t got the pain, you forget about it. But when you’ve got the pain, it’s in your body, it’s in your brain, it’s just excruciating and ridiculous. And you think, all I want to do is get rid of it.”

If her life was ruled by the four-letter word of pain – then it’s been another four letter word that’s brought her some relief: dope.

“I vape the medicinal cannabis and I don’t find that onerous at this stage, and my family and friends think it is absolutely hilarious that I should be vaping. Am I allowed to say that?

Dawn is clear – she’s not a fan of cannabis for recreation. She never tried it, and doesn’t believe it should be legalised.

Using it now in its medicinal form is a last resort.

“There’s nothing left for me. There’s no other treatment. It’s about managing my pain.”

“If mum didn’t take medicinal cannabis, I truly believe that she wouldn’t be here,” said her daughter Toni, a medical student.

“The changes that I’ve seen in mum have, I would describe them as miraculous – but they’re just too good to be true that the medical system doesn’t believe it’s possible. But I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and it is.”

She’s crowdfunded money to make a documentary based on evidence based benefits of medicinal cannabis.

“Since I went public with the crowdfunding for this resource documentary about cannabis as a medicine, I’ve had huge feedback from medical practitioners, GPs, specialists and there’s not been any bad feedback.

“In fact there’s been about 12 or 15 doctors who have told me that they do help their patients to get it.

“There’s lots of doctors putting their neck on the line for these patients, and try and help them get access to something that is available overseas, and if these doctors who are providing access for their patients were to be found out, would probably be struck off.

“All they want to do is provide best practice for their patients, which is what we’re taught to do as practitioners.”

Doctors onside with medicinal cannabis

Dawn and Tori aren’t the only ones speaking out. Helen Kelly told The Nation last year about how medicinal cannabis was the only thing that helps her sleep through the night after cancerous tumours broke her back.

Anna Osborne too says taking medicinal cannabis has helped her while undergoing chemo, and a growing number of medical professionals are supporting their calls.

“I don’t want to see desperate people turned into criminals,” says oncologist Anthony Falkov.

Dr Falkov says 40 to 60 percent of his patients are using medicinal cannabis, and it may have benefits beyond pain relief.

“Essentially most patients use it firstly because they hope it’ll work and improve their cancer control rates, and that’s a very important thing that’s been missed in this debate about medical cannabis. It may well increase cancer control rates.

“Secondly, they’re using it for pain, and thirdly they’re using it basically for appetite stimulation, and a lot of them are using it for anxiety and nausea and vomiting.

He wants to see cannabis treated like any other serious medication.

“What I’d really like to see is not widespread legalisation of every form of cannabis, but allowing doctors to actually ask patients about their cannabis use; record what they take; evaluate the effectiveness of various products and actually be allowed to use cannabis in research protocols with cancers that are subject to normal ethical approval; going through ethics committees, and subject to normal clinical trial constraints.

“All I’d like really is for cannabis to be treated like any other medication.”

And there’s support from another unlikely quarter.

“Because our group has loved ones suffering from cancers, degenerative diseases, aches and pains, we are advocating for the inclusion of the homegrown cannabis plant to be added to our list of choice of treatment,” says Beverley Alridge of Otamatea Grey Power.

And there’s support from another unlikely quarter.

“Because our group has loved ones suffering from cancers, degenerative diseases, aches and pains, we are advocating for the inclusion of the homegrown cannabis plant to be added to our list of choice of treatment,” says Beverley Alridge of Otamatea Grey Power.

The Otamatea Grey Power branch is petitioning the Government to decriminalise cannabis for medicinal use.

“We never considered it. We had other issues like roading and things like that, and we started seeing that people around us were dying and they were dying in extreme pain, and people were getting sick,” she said.

“So we did all this research and found that cannabis is this wonderful plant. So no, we didn’t actually go looking for cannabis – we went looking for solutions, herbal solutions that would actually be able to cure us, because there was no pharmaceutical drug that would be able to help us.”

One of the arguments against the use of medicinal cannabis is that some patients – particularly young people, or those with mental health issues – could misuse it. The clinicians The Nation spoke to agree that it’s not for everyone, but in their experience, patients use it responsibly.

“These patients have tried prescription medicines and haven’t had success, and now use marijuana in judicious dosing,” said Rick Acland, former medical director at Burwood Hospital.

“I am impressed that people don’t seem to use it in an escalating manner.”

Dr Acland says 20 to 30 percent of his patients use it for spinal cord injuries. He believes New Zealand could follow a similar system to Canada.

The Canadian system works like this: patients can grow their own, get a grower to supply them or get government-supplied cannabis.

There are similar schemes in other countries like Israel, Uruguay, Finland, the Australian state of New South Wales, some US states and Washington DC.

The World Health Organization is also taking a look at reclassifying medical cannabis under international law.

To read the entire article click here

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High court legalises marijuana for private use in South Africa


High court legalises marijuana for private use in South Africa

BY: Business Tech – March 31, 2017

In a landmark ruling The Western Cape High Court has declared that it is an infringement to ban the use of dagga by adults in private homes.

In making the ruling on Friday, it has allowed for the possession, cultivation and use dagga at home, for private use, noted News24.

“Acton, Prince, and 18 plaintiffs applied to the court for the Criminal Prohibition of Dagga Act (sections 4b and 5c), read with certain sections of Part III of Schedule 2 of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, to be declared unconstitutional.”

These sections make it a crime to possess a drug, unless it is for a variety of medical reasons, meaning it was criminal to use marijuana in the country.

In addition to the decriminalisation of marijuana, the court also ruled that Parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act, as well as the Medicines Control Act within the next 24 months to reflect the ruling.

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5 Routes the Cannabis Industry Could Take to Get Around Federal Banking Restrictions


5 Routes the Cannabis Industry Could Take to Get Around Federal Banking Restrictions

By: Andre Bourque – Entrepreneur – March 27, 2017

 

Federal banking regulations effectively trap the legal marijuana industry in its cash-only, black-market history. Current rules keep cannabis-related businesses in a regulatory gray area that discourages the investment necessary to grow.

The current problem dates to the 2013 Cole Memo, written by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and directing Federal prosecutors on how to interpret the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in states that have legalized marijuana. The Cole Memo reiterated that, “Congress’s determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.” In general, the guidelines established a hands-off federal enforcement policy toward businesses that were in compliance with state law.

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s 2014 statement on Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) took the logic from there. FinCEN puts the burden on the bank to perform due diligence on marijuana-related business customers to see if that investigation “implicates one of the Cole Memo priorities or violates state law. This is a particularly important factor for a financial institution to consider when assessing the risk of providing financial services to a marijuana-related business.”

Such financial services include checking, deposits, savings, credit card administration, funds transfers, lending and all the services necessary to running a business. For practical purposes, this largely limits cannabis businesses to operating on a cash-only basis, complicates recordkeeping, taxes and security.

The statement from FinCEN lists what banks must do to avoid working with businesses posing as legitimate but acting as fronts for criminal enterprise in need of money laundering.

What’s a cannabis biz to do?

Banks can smell the lucrative potential of the cannabis industry in the states that decriminalized medical marijuana and/or adult-use recreational cannabis. Here are the big banking changes in the works to bring the cannabis industry in from its cash-only pariah status.

To read the entire article click here

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