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  1. Canada plans to legalize weed – but will those convicted of crimes get amnesty? Activists argue that without amnesty, many from marginalized communities will continue to feel the effects of outdated laws Leyland Cecco in Toronto Tue 8 May 2018 People smoking marijuana during a 420 event in Toronto, as legalization of cannabis approaches this summer. Photograph: Arindam Banerjee/Rex/Shutterstock As Canada prepares to legalize marijuana this summer, politicians are facing growing calls to grant a blanket amnesty for people convicted under the existing drug laws – many of whom belong to marginalized groups. Since the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was elected in 2015 on a manifesto promise to legalize cannabis, more than 15,000 people have been charged over marijuana-related offences – joining close to 500,000 Canadians with marijuana convictions on their criminal record. Activists argue that without an amnesty, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to feel the effects of outdated laws whose enforcement has had a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and the poor. Last week, the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty launched a petition asking the government to consider pardons for possession charges. The group hopes to gain at least 5,000 signatures by the end of May. Canadian marijuana advocate blasts ‘hypocrisy’ of ex-police cashing in on cannabis Annamaria Enenajor, a Toronto-based lawyer and director of the campaign, said the sprawling legislation tabled by the government makes no mention of existing marijuana convictions, which can have long-lasting effects. A possession charge can show up in job applications and can affect approval for government housing, volunteer opportunities or scholarships, said Enenajor. “The criminalization of cannabis is so drastic and disproportionate to people’s lives.” Meanwhile, numerous studies have shown that Canada’s current statutes on drug possession are not equitably applied. “Drug laws are enforced by the police – and we know that the police are not immune from racism and discrimination,” said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah of the University of Toronto. Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives, said: “White and black communities use cannabis and other drugs at similar rates, but black communities have been disproportionately targeted for police stops, cannabis arrests and incarceration.” The discrimination manifests in pre-trial detention and sentencing disparities: in Canada, the black community is incarcerated at a rate three times higher than the general population, she said. Trudeau has himself admitted to smoking marijuana as a sitting MP, and last year admitted that family resources and connections helped his younger brother, Michel, avoid a marijuana possession charge. Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015 on a manifesto promise to legalize cannabis. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters In January, the public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, said the government was “weighing all the legal implications” of a pardon. But there remains a significant logistical hurdle in implementing any blanket amnesty. The database system used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not always indicate the drug seized during an arrest. In order to expunge a felony or misdemeanour record, officers would have to manually scour the database to determine the specifics of the drug offence and then vacate the conviction if it fell under the new laws. Canadians currently have the option of petitioning the government to have the charges dropped, but must pay a fee of $600 and wait five years – a system which critics argue continues to penalize marginalized groups. Justin Trudeau: father's influence made my brother's marijuana charge 'go away' Advocates for an amnesty in Canada point to swift moves by state governments in the United States following legalization as a useful model. In the weeks following the legalization of cannabis in California, San Francisco’s district attorney expunged thousands of felony convictions related to cannabis possession. Cities such as Seattle and San Diego have also moved to clear away records of marijuana possession. Owusu-Bempah said that in addition to blanket pardons, a handful of US cities have directed the increased tax revenues to communities hardest hit by previous laws – a model he believes could also benefit communities in Canada. Currently, people with criminal records are unable to work in the burgeoning cannabis industry, a policy that hits heavily policed communities especially hard, said Maynard and Owusu-Bempah. “It’s one thing to expunge someone’s criminal record,” said Owusu-Bempah. “It’s much more useful to try and mend the very real problems caused by drug prohibition.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/07/canada-marijuana-cannabis-legalization-amnesty-drug-laws
  2. Where is amnesty in the federal government's plan to legalize cannabis? Toronto lawyer Annamaria Enenajor has launched a campaign urging the government to "right history's wrongs" by expunging personal possession charges by Amanda Siebert May 17th, 2018 Getty Images Last week, two international media outlets published articles about the notable absence of amnesty in the Canadian government's plan to legalize cannabis. “Canada plans to legalize weed – but will those convicted of crimes get amnesty?” asked The Guardian. Al Jazeera posed a similar question in its headline: “Can Canada undo ‘injustice’ of cannabis possession convictions?” While it’s a topic that the Liberal government has carefully tiptoed around since Justin Trudeau first made the promise of legal cannabis in 2015, it’s one Toronto lawyer Annamaria Enenajor is determined to bring to the forefront of the nation’s discourse on legalization. The criminal and regulatory lawyer and member of the legislative committee of the Criminal Lawyers Association of Ontario said after taking a “deep dive” into Bill C-45, she was taken aback by its lack of forethought in one area in particular. “One thing that stood out to me about this legislation is that there is a complete absence of any mention of the horrific and disproportionate impact that the criminalization of cannabis has had on Canadians in marginalized communities, particularly African Canadians, low-income individuals, and young people,” Enenajor told the Straight by phone. Since The Cannabis Act was tabled, Enenajor has been speaking about amnesty at conferences and events, and was approached in the fall of 2017 by a group of individuals who were interested in rallying behind her message. It was then that she decided to create a campaign to make amnesty “a central issue” to legalization. “I was disappointed that the Liberal government seemed to be dragging their heels on the question of pardons and were very non-committal about this,” she said. “Rectifying the harms that have been done by the criminalization of cannabis is central to this legislation, and yet it’s nowhere to be found.” In creating the campaign Cannabis Amnesty, Enenajor has endeavoured to communicate to Canadians that the forthcoming legislation will leave behind thousands if not tens of thousands of individuals who have trouble obtaining jobs, crossing the border, and maintaining a decent quality of life because of a simple pot possession charge. (The campaign seeks amnesty for those convicted of personal possession.) “The impetus for the legalization of cannabis, the reason that we’re here and that we’re having this discussion, is because we all realize that criminalization is doing more harm than good,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to continue the same strategy that we’ve been using, that we’ve recognized has failed—it doesn’t make sense to plow forward into the future without trying to fix our failure, and overcriminalization is our failure.” Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is a criminologist, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, and a Broadbent Institute fellow studying the intersections of race, justice, policing, and drug policy. He supports Enenajor’s campaign for amnesty and told the Straight that legalization without amnesty would be unjust—but not a surprise given Bill Blair’s haste to say pardons were “off the table” when he was first asked about amnesty back in 2016. Referencing a VICE News investigation published in April, Owusu-Bempah said there is now substantial data that shows that black and Indigenous populations have been disproportionately arrested for cannabis offences, “literally from coast to coast.” “Previously we had anecdotal data, or we had findings from the Toronto Star that said black people were more likely to be charged,” he said. “Now we can see that from Vancouver to Halifax, it has been black and Indigenous people that have been disproportionately harmed.” And those harms are not to be taken lightly: Simple possession charges can create barriers that limit a person’s access to everything from employment to travel and in some jurisdictions, even social housing. Enenajor said it’s not unthinkable that people who have a simple possession charge on their record often get sucked into the system, and end up engaging in more criminal activity. “The reason for that is because what a criminal record does is it closes opportunities for legitimate gainful employment,” she said. “This is a huge barrier because we know that people in marginalized communities have fewer opportunities for meaningful employment to begin with.” She added that with the stigma around cannabis so high in the United States, a possession charge makes it impossible to cross the border. Illustrating this point, she recalled the testimony of a cross-border lawyer at a Senate panel last month, who told senators he had clients with possession charges turned away at the border consistently, but others convicted of manslaughter who were allowed entry. When asked what sort of approach the federal government could take to rectify the issue of historical overcriminalization in Canada, both Enenajor and Owusu-Bempah pointed to cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle, where individuals who have been most harmed by prohibition are actually able to reap the benefits of participating in the industry. “To remove the stigma attached to cannabis and through the process of legalization, these cities have actually created a space to use that legislation for a purpose of redressing these historical wrongs that were inflicted on vulnerable communities,” Enenajor said. “[In Oakland,] they did so by making sure half of the licences for the production of legal cannabis were allotted to what they would call ‘equity applicants’, people that have cannabis convictions or come from neighbourhoods that have been overpoliced for cannabis.” What Bill C-45 does instead, she said, is amplify the exclusion of those with criminal records by prohibiting them from participating in the legal economy. “What you’ve got is an activity that a very large amount of the Canadian population has admitted to doing, including the person who holds the highest office in the country—Trudeau,” said Owusu-Bempah. “But if you’ve done certain other things with the plant, you won’t be able to work for a company in the legal industry. That’s really hypocritical, and it adds insult to injury in many ways, especially given the high number of former law enforcement involved in the industry.” If there’s one Canadian cannabis activist who has been vocal about the issue of amnesty and the hypocrisy of former law enforcement profiting from a substance they once villainized, it’s Jodie Emery. Emery is also lending her support to Enenajor’s campaign, and predicts a groundswell of support from Canadians, “because everyone knows someone who smokes pot or possesses it”. She called it “an easy sell” given the vast majority of cannabis-related offenses are for possession alone. “The whole message of amnesty or an apology or forgiveness of any kind gets thrown to the wayside because it doesn’t fit the Liberal legalization talking points,” she said. “On one hand Bill Blair says it’s one of the great injustices of this country, the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws and the way it harms marginalized communities—but he and Trudeau continue to say that law enforcement must enforce the law, that people engaged with cannabis are still criminals and should be charged.” Despite the mixed messages, she predicts Trudeau will “dangle the carrot” of amnesty for those charged with possession in his campaign for a second term as prime minister. Beyond the issue of amnesty, Enenajor and Owusu-Bempah both expressed that they did not expect the practices of law enforcement that result in disproportionate arrests among people of colour to slow under Bill C-45. “The policing practices that have created these racial and other disparities aren’t going to be eliminated just because cannabis has been legalized,” said Owusu-Bempah, noting that while arrests for possession have generally gone down, in some areas, racial disparities among arrests have increased. Enenajor hopes that by spearheading the campaign for cannabis amnesty with the support of people like Jodie Emery, Ian Campeau, and others, Canadians will let the government know that amnesty is a crucial piece to legalization by signing the Cannabis Amnesty petition. “These are people who don’t have a voice at the legislative table, who don’t have organizations that represent them aggressively, who don’t have lobbying power in Ottawa, and it’s very easy to largely ignore them because they are on the periphery of society,” she said. “If we don’t address it head on in C-45, we’re just amplifying the marginalization, because we’re allowing members of society who have been in many instances at the forefront of prosecuting and arresting these individuals to make obscene amounts of profit from this market.” https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1075391/where-amnesty-federal-governments-plan-legalize-cannabis
  3. notsofasteddie

    Medical Marijuana Update

    Medical Marijuana Update by psmith, May 16, 2018 Medical marijuana could expand in Louisiana and New Jersey, CBD cannabis oil gets regulated in Michigan, and more. Louisiana Last Wednesday, the Senate approved adding qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The Senate voted 25-9 to approve House Bill 579, which adds glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, PTSD, and Parkinson's Disease to the state's list of qualifying conditions for the use of medical marijuana. It also voted 21-10 to approve House Bill 627, which adds autism spectrum disorders to the list. The bills have already passed the House, but must be approved there again after changes were made in the Senate. Michigan Last Thursday, the state announced it will regulate CBD cannabis oil as marijuana. State regulators announced that CBD cannabis oil products will be covered by the state's medical marijuana laws. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs declared that state law allows for the use of CBD cannabis oil -- if it comes from marijuana plants, not hemp plants. "We received lots of questions about if CBD was going to be regulated along with marijuana and how hemp plays into that," said department spokesman David Harns. "Now is the right time to send out an advisory bulletin." New Jersey On Tuesday, a bill was filed to expand the state's medical marijuana system. Responding to Gov. Phil Murphy's (D) call to reform the state's medical marijuana program, a trio of state senators has filed a bill that would allow more dispensaries and grows to open, as well as permitting more medical professionals to recommend the drug to their patients. The bill, Senate Bill 10, is not yet available on the legislative web site. Pennsylvania On Monday, the governor approved university research on medical marijuana. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has given the go-ahead for eight universities in the state to start studying medical marijuana. It would be the commonwealth's "first step towards clinical research" on the drug. He formally declared them to be "Certified Academic Clinical Research Centers." Utah Last Friday, the Mormon Church ups the ante in fight against medical marijuana initiative. The church last Friday doubled down on its opposition to the medical marijuana initiative set for the November ballot. The church released a seven-page memorandum raising dozens of complaints it says "raises grave concerns about this initiative and the serious adverse consequences that could follow if it were adopted." [For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.] https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2018/may/16/medical_marijuana_update
  4. Historic Canadian Theater May Be Converted To High-End Dispensary You may soon be able to buy marijuana at one of Canada’s most iconic buildings as Canadian cities evolve with legalization. By Burgess Powell May 15, 2018 Wikimedia Commons A major marijuana manufacturer has begun the permitting process that would turn one of Calgary’s most iconic theaters into one of the coolest dispensaries in Canada. Not only would the location be historic, but the dispensary would, reportedly, be high-end. Here’s how Calgary’s downtown is evolving with legalization. The Palace Theatre Is One of Calgary’s Most Iconic Landmarks Built in 1921 (during the height of classic Hollywood), the Palace Theatre hosted music, vaudeville performances, and showed a wide selection of movies. According to the Calgary Herald, William Aberhart, who was the Premier of Canada, first broadcasted on behalf of the conservative Social Credit Party from the theater. The Palace Theatre featured its last movie, though, in 1990. And a few years later, it became a historic landmark. Since then, the building’s facade, the marble stairway, the ceilings, or any other of the theater distinctive features have been untouchable without provincial approval. Next, the Palace became a late ’90s nightclub, renamed the Palace Nightclub. The mid-2000s brought hockey to the theater, which assumed its old name as a sports arena. Today, it’s is a multi-purpose event space that shows movies, hosts talks, and concerts and can be rented out privately. With immaculately preserved details and a great sound system, the main space continues to be one of Calgary’s most iconic gathering places. A Dispensary Could Be The Latest Use For This Historic Space In an official statement released yesterday, Alberta-based Westleaf Cannabis officially announced their bid to take over part of the space. “Westleaf is currently evaluating a number of Alberta-based locations for our retail stores, including the Palace Theatre,” it reads. On April 24th, Westleaf Cannabis submitted an application to open a dispensary in the Palace Theatre. They applied to open a “cannabis store,” which would allow them to sell both weed and weed paraphernalia. “Cannabis cannot be consumed on the premises,” the application specifies. However, “[The permit] also allows for counseling on cannabis use.” This doesn’t mean that the Palace Theatre will be closing and fully converting to a dispensary. So far, Westleaf plans on opening a dispensary in an unused portion of the theater. For the time being, it looks like the rest will remain an event space. Would A Marijuana Business Diminish Its Historic Character? Westleaf is conscious of the Palace Theatre’s historic significance. In their official statement, they explain, “As part of retail strategy, all locations will stay true to the roots of the community in which we operate while respecting the location’s history and heritage.” The Calgary Heritage Authority seems to agree with their approach. Executive director Josh Traptow told High Times, “A heritage building being used for anything is great. The Palace Theatre is already a vibrant part of Calgary […] and the downtown. Heritage buildings have always gone through a cycle in terms of economic development and economic changes. This is just part of the cycle of the economy of the world.” The Palace Theatre’s evolution from cinema to dancehall to hockey venue to a dispensary is all part of its natural evolution. Plus, talk of a dispensary has already garnered national attention and further interest in preservation. Competition is Steep for Dispensary Licenses The thought of a centrally located marijuana retailer in a historic building is getting a lot of buzz. But the licensing process is far from finished for Westleaf. Alberta is one of a minority of provinces that permits private pot retail. The only facet the government will control is online sales and, of course, the registration process. Plus, Alberta has some of the highest weed smoking rates in Canada. This is due to the province’s large young adult population. This translates to great business opportunities, but intense competition. According to CBS News, Alberta is only issuing 250 marijuana dispensary licenses in 2018. They must be 100 meters away from one another and school zones. Additionally, cities and towns can set individualized, more strict rules for marijuana sales. For instance, Calgary itself could ban outdoor marijuana smoking and many places are allowing landlords to prohibit weed use. What’s Next For the Palace Theatre Dispensary Though Westleaf has completed the first step of the process, there’s no guarantee that they will get a permit. One of the things that could slow down or stop the development process would be if they wanted to renovate certain aspects of the space. “If it’s altering or changing any of the regulated heritage portions of the building, the province would have to approve those changes,” Traptow said. “For example, if they wanted to add another entrance, […] they’d have to get the province to sign off on those changes.” When asked more specifically about the Palace Theatre’s dispensary, Druh Farrell, Calgary Ward 7 City Councillor responded, “Not sure about the Palace plans. We have so many cannabis applications I’m just stressing that we make sure they follow the rules.” https://hightimes.com/news/historic-canadian-theater-converted-high-end-dispensary
  5. A gold-rush attitude won’t help Canada’s marijuana industry Jeanette VanderMarel Contributed to The Globe and Mail Published May 17, 2018 Jeanette VanderMarel is co-founder and president of Good & Green, a late-stage applicant for a federal license, and co-founder of The Green Organic Dutchman. In the 19th century it was gold rushes in British Columbia. In the 20th century it was the discovery of oil in Alberta. In the 21st century, it will be the growth of cannabis across Canada. For good and bad, Canada has been shaped by a series of singular, transformational events. In each case, the economic boom and ensuing social impact has challenged Canadian society and tested the ability of governments and courts to recalibrate policies, laws and expectations. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the pending legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Not surprisingly, there has been tremendous focus on the approval date for Bill C-45. But as that day approaches, it’s increasingly clear how much remains to be resolved – and the risk imposed by the complicated process that still lies ahead. Currently, Canada has a unique opportunity to position itself – and federally licensed legal Canadian cannabis companies – as world leaders in a global sector that is forecast to be worth $60-billion a year by 2028. Just as we leveraged our early expertise and experience in mining and energy after the initial booms in those sectors, we can do the same with cannabis. If, that is, we get it right. One of the primary challenges is the inevitable urge to appease all the different industry players’ interests in the initial sweep of legislation. If we want to assume that global leadership role, there is no room for continued grey areas in Canada’s cannabis sector. Colorado provides a powerful example of what can go wrong when legalization is done too broadly and too quickly. Since cannabis was legalized there in 2014, the state has spent considerable time re-regulating and trying to claw back the initial scope of the law including changes to packaging, zoning, contaminant testing and staff training. That may mean that Canada needs to move toward cannabis legislation with foresight in envisioning the future. Canadians need a controlled and regulated industry to ensure we keep cannabis out of the black market and away from children. To apply the long-time mantra of cannabis consumers: Start low and go slow. It’s essential, for example, to be fully committed from the very outset to eliminate the booming illegal black market that neither adheres to federal government standards of quality and safety, nor monitors who has access to cannabis. Canada is creating a new industry with tax paying legal companies and taking employees out of the underground economy into real jobs. One of the proposed changes in Bill C-45 is the right to grow four cannabis plants per residence. In the right horticultural hands, a cultivator claiming homegrown status along with the allowed limit of four plants, could produce up to thousands of dollars-worth of cannabis a year. This will likely find it’s way to the black market. Then there is the issue of distribution. Yes, the provinces have shared their blueprints for retailing recreational cannabis. But what will happen to the large number of illegal dispensaries – and their black market online counterparts? Who will crack down on these operators and how consistently will the rules be enforced? The issues also extend to where cannabis can be legally consumed. Given the growing trend of living in high-rise condominiums and apartments, how will the air be filtered to ensure that cannabis smoke doesn’t enter other households – especially those where there are children? Legalization may lie in federal hands, but many of the crucial decisions that affect the use of recreational cannabis fall under municipal and provincial jurisdiction. And as we already know from experience, that can lead to very uneven market management and enforcement. To fully capitalize on Canada’s positive reputation and international “brand” these details need to be addressed – or at the very least considered. If we want to show the world how to do this right and assume a leadership role, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that as many loopholes as possible are anticipated and blocked. Canada can and should continue to be the role model to the world for a responsible cannabis industry. If we allow the urge to be everything to all people all at once, pending legislation could cost us our potential domination of a lucrative international industry. Given the gold-rush mentality pervading the cannabis sector right now – and this applies to individuals, companies and governments – there’s an overriding sense of urgency to move ahead with legalization. It is time to legalize recreational cannabis, but we have to get it right. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-a-gold-rush-attitude-wont-help-the-marijuana-industry
  6. Inside Shopify’s strategy for dominating the booming cannabis industry Jeremy Berke Fri May 11, 2018 Shopify will handle online cannabis sales for the province of Ontario. David McNew/Getty Shopify wants to dominate online cannabis sales in Canada. The e-commerce giant recently inked a deal with the government of Ontario to handle online cannabis sales for the provincially-backed Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation. Loren Padelford, a VP and GM at Shopify who's charged with heading up the company's cannabis push, discussed the company's strategy in an interview with Business Insider. Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce giant with a market cap of over $15 billion, is setting its sights on dominating the booming cannabis industry. In February, the company inked a deal with the province of Ontario to power all in-store, online, and mobile marijuana sales in the province, immediately making it a major player in the cannabis e-commerce sector. Like liquor sales in Canada's most populous province, cannabis will be sold solely through provincially-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) outlets rather than privately-owned dispensaries, handing the provincial government — and its private sector partners — a monopoly over millions of potential customers. For a public company like Shopify, there's much less risk involved in providing services to the cannabis industry in Canada, which is set to legalize cannabis at the federal level later this year, than in the US, where the federal government's attitude towards cannabis is still unclear. "One of the biggest things is how fast this market is going to develop," Loren Padelford, a VP and GM at Shopify who's charged with heading up the company's cannabis retail strategy, told Business Insider in an interview. "Retail is in this massive transformation in general — we think as this becomes legal and pushes out to the market it's going to just dynamically change." Cannabis is a huge opportunity The opportunity is huge. A recent report from CIBC predicts that legal cannabis will be a $6.5 billion industry by 2020 in Canada alone, eclipsing liquor sales. All those sales will generate over $1 billion in earnings for the private sector, according to the bank. Ontario, where Shopify is starting out is a massive market: The province has 13.6 million people — almost 40% of Canada's population — including Toronto, Canada's largest city and financial center. Ontario's GDP is over $830 billion, meaning if it were a US state, it would have the fourth largest economy, rivaling Florida's and just behind New York's. The OCS is planning on establishing a number of brick-and-mortar stores, and it'll also allow the online sale of cannabis, which is where the entire retail industry seems to be moving. 'A natural fit' between Shopify and Ontario's cannabis retailer "This is really kind of a natural fit because the cannabis industry are about to become very large retailers," Padelford said. "This is about providing a retail technology platform, which is where we've been since our inception and giving that same flexibility and reliability, and scale to a brand new industry that's going to be very large overnight." Shopify's software will also be used to display product information and handle transactions in physical OCS stores as well, the company said. Padelford said that Shopify first dipped its toes into the cannabis industry a few years ago, working with some of the big Canadian cannabis producers, or LP's, to help distribute medical marijuana. As the federal government worked on legislation to legalize recreational cannabis nationwide, the opportunity was "clear," Padelford said. When the Ontario government started looking for private sector partners to help roll out cannabis sales, "they quickly realized, you know, how much experience we had in retail, and how powerful our platform is," Padelford said. "They needed technology and a platform and a partner who could scale as quickly as they needed," he added. While Padelford wouldn't say whether Shopify is setting its sights on the US — an even bigger market where cannabis is available for adults to purchase through private retailers in many states— he did say that the company is "having discussions with players all over the world." "I think our focus right now is Canada because we have clarity," Padelford said. "Canada is much farther down the path." http://www.businessinsider.com/shopify-plan-dominate-marijuana-industry-2018-5
  7. Liquor Depot's name change reveals ambition to dominate alcohol, cannabis market in Alberta Submitted by Marijuana News Fri, 05/11/2018 Corporate giants, like Anheuser-Busch, may enter cannabis trade if they decide a profit can be made, prof says. The name change of Liquor Stores N.A., which owns the Liquor Depot chain, to Alcanna this week represents the company's intent to expand into the Canadian cannabis market alongside Aurora Cannabis, the second-largest cannabis grower in Canada. "They're our business partner," James Burns, vice-chair and CEO of Alcanna, told CBC News. "It gives us one of the top, most incredible-leading, fastest-growing cannabis producers in the world." Alcanna — a portmanteau of alcohol and cannabis — reflects the company's vision of having two separate divisions of alcohol and cannabis, since legislation will likely bar the sale of the two in the same building. Alcanna, the largest publicly traded alcohol retailer in North America, boasts a star-studded board of directors. Chair Derek Burney is a former political strategist to Brian Mulroney's government and a former ambassador to the United States. Derek Burney, Canada's former ambassador to the United States, is chair of Alcanna's board of directors. Board member Karen Prentice, widow of former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, was an executive vice-president for Enmax and worked on the Alberta Securities Commission. The decision to diversify into the cannabis business was a no-brainer for Burns. He said in America, where the company has stores in states that have legalized cannabis, they've seen liquor sales drop as much as 10 per cent. "When a new product comes in that affects the product we sell, it made sense to us to be involved in the retail of that product as well," Burns said. "Same customer, in some senses." 'A natural fit': business prof Kyle Murray, the vice-dean of the University of Alberta's school of business, said he'd be surprised if liquor retailers didn't invest in the cannabis market. "It seems like such a natural fit," Murray said. "Their ability to grow their current business is fairly limited, [so] they have to look for new opportunities to grow." Alcanna has 25 years of experience working with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission and regulations around the sale of alcohol, which Murray said will give these companies a head start. "I think what it is is just saying, 'Hey look, we have this competency — we're the leader in retailing alcohol, and this new business seems like it's going to be a lot like alcohol so we'll probably be pretty good at that as well.' " Kyle Murray, of the University of Alberta's school of business, says being the first industrialized country to legalize recreational marijuana will give Canada an advantage in the emerging international market. Murray said he's not worried the partnership will smother competition, because the two companies are relatively small compared to some of the large retailers in Canada, like Canadian Tire. What is more interesting, he said, is watching those large companies with experience in retail to see if they're going to join the cannabis business. "There are lots of companies out there that are good retailers — how many of them are going to want to get into the cannabis business? I think that's a pretty short list," he said. Bigger companies with more capital have the ability to wait out the market and jump in if they think there's money to be made. A company like Anheuser-Busch, for example, could acquire a company like Aurora for about two or three per cent of their market cap, Murray said. Aurora Cannabis is a significant player in Canada, but Murray says he's waiting to see if larger Canadian companies want to jump into the industry. "There's a lot of risk there [for big companies] — reputational risk and just unknowns in how big the market will be," he said. "It's not clear that they need to rush in." Nonetheless, the current deal is a major move locally and one that Burns said can put Alberta on the map for both alcohol and cannabis sales. "With us and Aurora together, as you say, one plus one equals three sometimes," Burns said. "We're proud Albertans and we think from our base in Edmonton we can take on the world." http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-canada-cannabis-liquor-store-aurora-1.4657870
  8. notsofasteddie

    Medical Marijuana Update

    Medical Marijuana Update by psmith, May 09, 2018 A pair of Missouri medical marijuana initiative campaigns have handed in lots and lots of signatures, a federal appeals court upheld a DEA rule that CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance, the Utah initiative campaign gets organized opposition, and more. National Last Wednesday, a federal appeals court upheld a DEA rule on marijuana extracts. A three-judge panel on the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a DEA rule stating that marijuana extracts, including non-psychoactive CBD, are Schedule I substances. The Hemp Industries Association and others had challenged the rule, arguing that DEA overstepped its bounds by scheduling substances, such as cannabinoids, that were not classified as illicit under the Controlled Substances Act. On Tuesday, House committee advanced a Veterans Affairs medical marijuana research bill. The House Veterans Affairs Committee Tuesday unanimously approved a measure that aims to increase VA research on medical marijuana. The bill would specify that the agency has the ability to research the herb for conditions including PTSD. The measure is part of a package of bills lawmakers hope to pass this month. Arkansas On Monday, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the licensing imbroglio. The state Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear oral arguments on a judge's decision to prevent the state from licensing medical marijuana cultivation operators. The judge had ruled that the licensing program violated the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana after a complaint from a business that failed to get a license. Georgia On Monday, the governor signed a bill allowing CBD cannabis oil for PTSD, intractable pain. Gov. Nathan Deal (R) on Monday signed into law House Bill 65, which adds PTSD and intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions that can be treated by CBD cannabis oil. Louisiana Last Thursday, the House killed a medical marijuana expansion bill. The House on Thursday voted down House Bill 826, which would have allowed any pharmacist in the state to open a medical marijuana dispensary. Instead, the state will maintain the status quo, which allows only nine pharmacies in the state to dispense medical marijuana. On Monday, a medical marijuana for autistic children bill advanced. A bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana for children with severe autism has passed the House and, now, a vote in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. House Bill 627 now heads for a Senate floor vote. Michigan On Monday, state regulators recommended approving 10 new qualifying conditions. The state's Medical Marihuana Review Panel has recommended the approval of 10 new conditions that could qualify people to use medical marijuana. That's out of a list of 22 conditions people had asked the panel to review. The conditions include obsessive compulsive disorder, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, Parkinson's, Tourettes, spinal cord injury, autism, and chronic pain. The recommendations now go to Shelly Edgerton, the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, who has until July 10 to make a final decision. Missouri On Tuesday, the Senate gave initial approval to a medical marijuana bill. The Senate Tuesday gave initial approval to House Bill 1554, which would allow people suffering from specified serious illnesses to use non-smokeable medical marijuana. The bill has already passed the House and now goes to the Senate Committee on Health and Pensions for a second reading. If it survives that, it then goes to the full Senate for a floor vote. Last Friday, two initiative campaigns handed in lots and lots of signatures. New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure, the folks behind a pair of medical marijuana initiatives (they differ only on how regulations would work and where tax dollars would go), announced last Friday that they had handed in roughly double the number of signatures they need to come up with 160,000 valid voter signatures. Find the Cure said it had handed in more than 300,000 signatures, while New Approach Missouri said it had handed in more than 370,000. Although initiative petitions occasionally see half of their signatures get disqualified, it's far more typical for them to lose a third. If both initiatives make the ballot, the one with the most votes on election day wins. New Hampshire Last Thursday, the Senate effectively killed a bill to allow patients to grow their own. The Senate on Thursday refused to pass a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own plants. Instead, the body voted to send House Bill 1476 to interim study, effectively killing it for the session. Utah On Monday, organized opposition to the medical marijuana initiative emerged, including the DEA. Organized opposition to the Utah Patients Coalition's medical marijuana initiative has emerged, and it includes a local DEA task force, raising questions about a federal agency interfering in a state-level ballot question. Drug Safe Utah is recruiting paid canvassers to try to get voters who signed initiative campaigns to retract their signatures. Its members include the Utah Medical Association and the DEA's Salt Lake City Metro Narcotics Task Force. On Tuesday, the "Right To Try" CBD medical marijuana law is now in effect. A limited medical marijuana law is now in effect. Under House Bill 195, which passed in March, terminally ill patients will be able to access CBD cannabis oil under a provision that expands the state's 2015 Right to Try Act. Also now in effect is House Bill 197, which establishes a medical marijuana cultivation program in the state. Both of these laws could soon be irrelevant, though: A much broader medical marijuana initiative will be on the ballot in November. [For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.] https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2018/may/09/medical_marijuana_update
  9. Quebec May Create Festival Drug Testing Programme to Reduce Drug Harms Avinash Tharoor 11 May 2018 Source: Flickr The government of the Canadian province of Quebec has authorised state-led research into the benefits of allowing people to test their drugs at festivals. In early May, Quebec's health ministry declared that they had authorised the $100,000 study, which will be funded by Health Canada’s Program on Substance Use and Dependence, according to a report by Vice (in French). The study will investigate the potential outcomes of allowing people to have their drugs tested at nightlife venues, festivals, and LBGT+ venues. Researchers will undertake a literature review, consult with experts, and then undertake field research by analysing substances at festivals. A ministry spokesperson, Noémie Vanheuverzwijn, said that the study will conclude in 2020 and then make recommendations to the Quebec government for the creation of a pilot substance testing programme. As Vice reports, the practice is currently illegal in Canada unless the service provider is granted an exemption by the government. GRIP Montreal, a Quebec-based non-profit organisation that works to reduce the risks and potential harms of drug use, has stressed that drug testing could save lives if permitted in the province. "With the fentanyl crisis we're having right now, there is a great risk to recreational drug users and we might have many overdoses and even deaths if the situation is not handled," Jean-Sébastien Fallu, GRIP Montreal's founder, said in 2017. Indeed, drug testing elsewhere in Canada has revealed the prevalence of fentanyl – a highly potent opioid linked to hundreds of overdoses across the country - in batches of other drugs at music festivals. According to ANKORS, a harm reduction non-profit in British Columbia, the drug was found in several tested batches of MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine at the province’s Shambhala music festival in 2017. Aside from revealing the presence of contaminants like fentanyl, drug testing can also help people estimate the purity and strength of their drugs – allowing them to make a relatively educated decision of how to dose, or whether to take any at all. The Loop, a UK-based organisation, has trialled drug testing services at several festivals, and their findings show that knowing the contents of a drug batch can significantly change a person’s decisions. Among the estimated 1,500 people who the Loop have provided services to, around 150-300 chose to dispose of their drugs. "We're taking 10 to 20 per cent of drugs out of circulation," described Fiona Measham, The Loop’s director, "the police are pleased, users are pleased, and paramedics are pleased. We're told we reduce drug-related medical incidents on site by 25 per cent". As a range of new drug policy measures are implemented across Canada - including the opening of new drug consumption rooms, the legal regulation of cannabis, and the free provision of overdose-reversal medication naloxone in Quebec pharmacies - evidence suggests that the provision of drug testing could be another progressive step in reducing drug harms. TalkingDrugs has published safer use information for: MDMA Cocaine Fentanyl https://www.talkingdrugs.org/quebec-drug-testing-programme-in-canada
  10. Loblaws Announces Plans to Sell Cannabis in Newfoundland & Labrador Harrison Jordan May 7, 2018 (Courtesy of Loblaws) The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador has today announced a list of 24 retail sites in the province of “qualified applicants” that have made it to the next round of licensing to sell recreational cannabis, and one applicant has 10 of those approved sites. A Loblaws spokesperson said the cannabis would be sold behind the counter in small, existing tobacco shops 'adjacent but separate' to the grocery stores. The Loblaw Company, which owns a significant number of supermarkets in Canada, has earned the provisional pass by the provincial government at 10 of its Newfoundland grocery stores, including in the municipalities of Bay Roberts, St. John’s (two locations), Mount Pearl, Gander, Conception Bay South, Carbonear, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, and Stephenville. According to the Financial Post, a company spokesperson said the cannabis would be sold behind the counter in small, existing tobacco shops “adjacent but separate” to the grocery stores. While it has been widely reported in the past months that Galen Weston-headed Loblaws was in the running to sell medical cannabis, it was not publicly known until today that they were in the running to sell recreational cannabis. Now, the Canadian grocery giant appears to have made an about-face and said yes to recreational cannabis—at least in the province of Newfound and Labrador. Loblaws and its collection of grocery stores make the company arguably the largest supermarket provider in Canada, and this could very well be the beginning of a larger pan-Canadian distribution of cannabis retail sales by the company if all goes well in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company owns Shoppers Drug Mart, which has established deals with four licensed producers to be become a distributor of medical cannabis to patients across Canada. Other applicants that the province has deemed a “qualified licensed cannabis retailer applicant” include three locations of company Cape D’or, two of Canopy Growth Corporation, and one at each of Holyrood Medical, The Herbal Centre, The Healthy Vibe, Dee Dee’s Shope, Holdings, Thomas H Clarke, The Healthy Vibe, Tobin’s Convenience, C & K Rentals Ltd. In addition, the First Nations reserve of Miawpukek Mi’Kamawey Mawi omi also has a qualified location in Conne River. https://www.leafly.com/news/canada/loblaws-announces-plans-to-sell-cannabis-in-newfoundland-labrador
  11. Canada plans to legalize weed – but will those charged with crimes get amnesty? As Canada prepares to legalize marijuana this summer, politicians are facing growing calls to grant a blanket amnesty for people convicted under the existing drug laws – many of whom belong to marginalized groups. Since the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was elected in 2015 on a manifesto promise to legalize cannabis, more than 15,000 people have been charged over marijuana-related offences – joining close to 500,000 Canadians with marijuana charges on their criminal record. Activists argue that without an amnesty, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to feel the effects of outdated laws whose enforcement has had a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and the poor. Last week, the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty launched a petition asking the government to consider pardons for possession charges. The group hopes to gain at least 5,000 signatures by the end of May. Annamaria Enenajor, a Toronto-based lawyer and director of the campaign, said the sprawling legislation tabled by the government makes no mention of existing marijuana convictions, which can have long-lasting effects. A possession charge can show up in job applications and can impact approval for government housing, volunteer opportunities or scholarships, said Enenajor. “The criminalization of cannabis is so drastic and disproportionate to people’s lives.” Meanwhile, numerous studies have shown that Canada’s current statutes on drug possession are not equitably applied. “Drug laws are enforced by the police – and we know that the police are not immune from racism and discrimination,” said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah of the University of Toronto. Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives, said: “White and black communities use cannabis and other drugs at similar rates, but black communities have been disproportionately targeted for police stops, cannabis arrests and incarceration.” The discrimination manifests in pre-trial detention and sentencing disparities: in Canada, the black community is incarcerated at a rate three times higher than the general population, she said. Trudeau has himself admitted to smoking marijuana as a sitting MP, and last year admitted that family resources and connections helped his younger brother, Michel, avoid a marijuana possession charge. Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015 on a manifesto promise to legalize cannabis. In January, public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the government was “weighing all the legal implications” of a pardon. But there remains a significant logistical hurdle in implementing any blanket amnesty. The database system used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not always indicate the drug seized during an arrest. In order to expunge a felony or misdemeanour record, officers would have to manually scour the database to determine the specifics of the drug offence and then vacate the conviction if it fell under the new laws. Canadians currently have the option of petitioning the government to have the charges dropped, but must pay a fee of $600 and wait five years – a system which critics argue continues to penalize marginalized groups. Advocates for an amnesty in Canada point to swift moves by state governments in the United States following legalization as a useful model. In the weeks following the legalization of cannabis in California, San Francisco’s District Attorney expunged thousands of felony convictions related to cannabis possession. Cities such as Seattle and San Diego have also moved to clear away records of marijuana possession. Owusu-Bempah said that in addition to blanket pardons, a handful of US cities have directed the increased tax revenues to communities most impacted by previous laws – a model he believes could also benefit communities in Canada. Currently, people with criminal records are unable to work in the burgeoning cannabis industry, a policy that hits heavily policed communities especially hard, said Maynard and Owusu-Bempah. “It’s one thing to expunge someone’s criminal record,” said Owusu-Bempah. “It’s much more useful to try and mend the very real problems caused by drug prohibition.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/07/canada-marijuana-cannabis-legalization-amnesty-drug-laws
  12. Canadian Veterans Plan Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Funding Cuts Veterans Affairs Canada have significantly reduced the daily allowance of medical marijuana that veterans may have. And now, the veterans are fighting back. By A.J. Herrington Published May 8, 2018 Shutterstock A group of Canadian veterans is planning to file a lawsuit over medical marijuana funding cuts by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). In May of last year, the VAC reduced the amount of medicinal cannabis it would cover. Before that, the VAC would permit vets to use up to ten grams of medical marijuana per day. But the VAC dropped that permitted daily allotment to just three grams. When the cut was enacted, more than 2,500 veterans nationwide had received permission to use more than three grams per day. The advocacy group Veterans for Healing in Oromocto, New Brunswick is organizing the legal action. The vets plan to ask the court to rule that the VAC failed to live up to its responsibilities with the reduction. David Lutz is the attorney representing the vets. He told local media that the veterans want the VAC to cover enough cannabis to eliminate the need for prescription drugs. They would also like to see the court restore funding for medical marijuana to previous levels. “We are asking for a declaration by the court that reducing from 10 grams to three grams is a violation of the government’s obligation to the veterans,” Lutz said. “We need to make a new law here.” Jamie Keating, a veteran living in St. John, will be a named plaintiff in the suit. He said that the VAC needs to honor its commitment to care for vets. “It’s not about money, it’s about doing what’s right,” said Keating. “You can’t just cut vets off cold turkey when something works. If it was opiates, they wouldn’t be able to just stop.” Soldiers Are Using Cannabis to Treat PTSD Veterans like Keating are using medicinal cannabis to treat a variety of serious health conditions. Vets are finding relief from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and anxiety with medical marijuana. So much so that prior to the cuts, payments for medical marijuana had grown to $60 million per year. That made cannabis the most expensive item in the VAC’s drug coverage program. But while costs for cannabis increased, payments for opioids and benzodiazepines dropped. Seamus O’Regan, the Minister of Foreign affairs, said the cut in the medical marijuana benefit was more about science than money. “We still have a heck of a lot of research to do when it comes to cannabis use and how it affects PTSD and other mental-health conditions,” O’Regan said. To prepare for that argument in court, attorney Lutz said he is compiling anecdotal evidence on the efficacy of medical marijuana. He and his staff are in the process of interviewing up to 100 vets to learn about and document their experience with medical marijuana. Lutz noted that the vets participating in the lawsuit had to start taking other drugs when their coverage for cannabis was reduced to three grams daily. “The theme here is plants, not pills,” Lutz said. “Medical marijuana has replaced every pill that these people were on before. I expect to be able to demonstrate that,” he said. Ron Forrest is a vet who uses cannabis to treat PTSD and chronic pain. He also plans to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit. He said that for some veterans, access to medical cannabis is a matter of life or death. “There was no reason for VAC to cut us back that drastically,” he said. “We had people kill themselves.” https://hightimes.com/news/canadian-veterans-plan-lawsuit-medical-marijuana-funding-cuts
  13. Prime Minister promises not to delay cannabis legalization Justin Trudeau says government is pushing forward despite recent headlines suggesting a delay in passing the Cannabis Act By: Solomon Israel Posted: 05/3/2018 3:15 PM Last Modified: 05/4/2018 4:22 PM | Updates Recent news headlines foretelling a delay in the government's efforts to legalize and regulate cannabis caught Canadians' attention this week, but new comments made Thursday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggest the federal government is pushing forward with its plan. On Wednesday, The Canadian Press news agency published an article with the headline, "Trudeau won't say whether Liberals will delay cannabis legalization." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters before entering the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press/) The article, which appeared in news outlets across Canada, said the Prime Minister "was non-committal on the question of whether his government would bend to a call from the Senate's Aboriginal Peoples committee to delay the measure by as much as a year." The story was premised on brief comments made by Prime Minister Trudeau to reporters as he entered a Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday. Here's Trudeau's full statement in English, which followed a similar statement in French: "We have been focused on legalizing marijuana because the current system hurts Canadians. It gives easy access to young people and quite frankly, funds criminal organizations to the tunes of billions of dollars a year. We'll continue to consult with a broad range of Canadians. And as our Parliamentary Secretary, Bill Blair, says regularly, legalization is not an event, it's a process, and that process will continue." "We're going to bring in legalization as we've committed to this summer on schedule." -Prime Minister Justin Trudeau But in a scrum on Thursday afternoon, the prime minister clarified that his government plans to stick to its current timeline for legalization. "We're going to continue to move forward," Trudeau told reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons. "We're going to bring in legalization as we've committed to this summer on schedule." Asked specifically whether he would delay legalization to address concerns from the Assembly of First Nations, the prime minister repeated the message. "We have been talking about this since well before we formed government. We have been working with our partners across the country on making this happen and we are going to be moving forward this summer on the legalization of cannabis," he said. Marijuana law 'on track': Pro-legalization Senator Sen. Tony Dean, who is sponsoring the government's Cannabis Act in the Senate, also said Thursday that legalization is proceeding apace. "Where this goes, and how it goes, will be a conversation between the government and Indigenous leaders, not the Senate," said Sen. Tony Dean. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press files) "It's on track for September," Dean told The Leaf News. "I expect to see legal cannabis in Canada in September, and so do a few million other people." Even though the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples called on the government to delay its plan to legalize cannabis in a report on Tuesday, Dean said many many of the concerns raised in that report go far beyond the scope of the Cannabis Act, and can only be addressed by the government. "Where this goes, and how it goes, will be a conversation between the government and Indigenous leaders, not the Senate," said Dean. Certain recommendations from the Aboriginal Peoples committee could still be addressed by the Senate in time for a fall legalization deadline, he said. "There's an interest in funding commitments, there's an interest in access to licences for (cannabis) producers, there is an interest in culturally specific educational initiatives. Those things are all important. None of them is going to take a year." "I expect to see legal cannabis in Canada in September, and so do a few million other people." -Sen Tony Dean The delay amendment proposed by the Aboriginal Peoples committee, along with amendments proposed by three other committees, will ultimately be voted on by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology over the coming weeks. Amendments approved by the committee will then be voted on by the Senate as a whole, along with any other amendments moved by individual senators. "I think there would be probably six or seven sitting days to do that in the Senate chamber," said Dean, who described a June 7 deadline for a final vote as feasible. "If a group of senators sets out to chew up the time in that process, that would obviously be concerning." Legal cannabis not a major election issue, says professor Even if the federal government were to delay cannabis legalization, it likely wouldn't matter to the vast majority of Canadian voters, said University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman. Cannabis legalization helped boost youth voter turnout in the 2015 election, but "other Canadians didn't give a damn about it," says Nelson Wiseman. (Supplied) Cannabis legalization helped boost youth voter turnout in the 2015 election, he explained. "But other Canadians didn't give a damn about it," he said. "They saw what's going on in society more broadly, they're familiar with the fact that (cannabis is) legal in some places in the U.S., they're familiar with the fact that police and the courts aren't enforcing it as aggressively as they did twenty, thirty years ago. That isn't what they were voting on." The next federal election is scheduled for October 2019 at the latest, and Wiseman said it will be driven by images of the leaders. "Who do you trust more? Who are you more confident in?" https://www.theleafnews.com/news/prime-minister-promises-not-to-delay-cannabis-legalization-481669943.html
  14. notsofasteddie

    Medical Marijuana Update

    Medical Marijuana Update by psmith, May 02, 2018 There is no joy in Idaho, a California bill to protect patients' employment rights advances, Utah Democrats endorse medical marijuana, and more. Arkansas Last Friday, justices agreed to expedite the medical marijuana licensing case. The state Supreme Court has agreed to speed up its review of a ruling that has blocked the issuance of the state's first medical marijuana grow licenses. Some 220 medical marijuana dispensary applications are also on hold, and the state argued before the court that getting the licenses rolled out is a matter of significant public interest. California Last Wednesday, a bill to protect patients' employment rights advanced. The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee voted last Wednesday to approve Assembly Bill 2069, which aims to end employment discrimination against medical marijuana patients by treating medical marijuana the same way current law treats prescription opioids and other drugs, by granting it "reasonable accommodation" under the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act. The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Idaho On Sunday, medical marijuana petitioners gave up. There will be no medical marijuana initiative in Idaho this year. The head of the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association says she has stopped collecting signatures and dissolved the group to care for her ailing son. The group needed 36,000 signatures by Monday and wasn't close. Missouri Missouri House Passes Smokeless Medical Marijuana Bill. The House on Tuesday approved House Bill 1554, which would allow terminal patients and patients suffering from debilitating conditions to use a smokeless form of medical marijuana. The bill now heads to the Senate. Utah On Saturday, the state Democratic Party made support for medical marijuana a platform plank. At the state party convention last weekend, the Democratic Party added medical marijuana to the party platform. A ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana is likely to be on the ballot in November. [For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.] https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2018/may/02/medical_marijuana_update
  15. Colorado’s first-in-the-nation marijuana “tasting rooms” bill heads to Hickenlooper’s desk Concept would allow adults to vape, consume edibles at current recreational marijuana retailers By Alicia Wallace and John Frank The Denver Post PUBLISHED: May 3, 2018 Brennan Linsley, AP File In this Dec. 31, 2012 file photo, Rachel Schaefer, of Denver, smokes marijuana on the official opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club, where a New Year’s Eve party was held in Denver. Licensed marijuana “tasting rooms” could be operating in Colorado by this time next year if Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a first-of-its-kind bill that state lawmakers sent to his desk Thursday. The bill allows adults at current recreational marijuana retailers to consume small amounts through edibles or by vaping — as they might a flight of fine whiskeys or craft beers. House Bill 1258 would be another vanguard moment for a state that implemented first-in-the-nation adult-use cannabis sales back in 2014. Industry observers say it also shows that Colorado is taking baby steps toward a statewide regime for social marijuana use. “It’s a way to wrap our brains around what the regulatory structure would look like for public consumption,” said Peter Marcus, spokesman for Terrapin Care Station, a Colorado marijuana dispensary chain that supported the bill. Colorado law prohibits marijuana consumption in public spaces; however, the state is home to several unlicensed cannabis clubs. Also, the city of Denver has started issuing licenses after a voter-approved initiative for marijuana social-use establishments. Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, said Colorado would break ground with the legislative-approved social-consumption regulations. The concept greatly differs from pot clubs, he said, in that it is limited to current recreational marijuana retailers and does not allow customers to share or bring their own pot into the consumption area. “You really just get to sample what that dispensary or provider has, so it’s really more of a tasting room,” he said. One problem the legislation hopes to address: the limited options for tourists and others to consume marijuana and how that often pushes it into public view in parks and sidewalks. “This is a way so tourists aren’t consuming on the sidewalks, which was something that was never intended by Amendment 64 (of Colorado’s constitution),” he said. While some regulations, including purchase limits, would be subject to the Marijuana Enforcement Division rule-making process, the accessory consumption establishment bill does prohibit food, smoking, alcohol, employee consumption, free samples and BYO cannabis. For a business to land an “endorsement” for a tasting room, it also would need to get the blessing of its local municipality. Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said the legislation is a “natural evolution” in Colorado’s regulation of the pot industry. “I think this moves the ball forward in allowing the industry to do some sort of consumption … but does it in a way that I would say is pretty conservative,” he said. “It’s actually pretty limited.” Attempts to create regulations for full-fledged marijuana social clubs have foundered. Last month, a Senate committee killed a bill to establish a marijuana consumption club license. Last year, a legislative bid for cannabis clubs was scrapped after Hickenlooper bristled at the idea. Allowing social-use clubs would fly in the face of Amendment 64’s prohibition of public consumption, Hickenlooper said. Additionally, he said the maneuver would violate Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act. Notably, Hickenlooper cautioned that expanding marijuana’s presence in Colorado might not be wise, given the uncertainty of how the federal government may choose to enforce the Schedule I substance. A Hickenlooper spokeswoman said the office is still reviewing the bill approved Thursday. The idea for marijuana tasting rooms, however, has been more palatable for some state regulators. The Marijuana Enforcement Division, which opposed this year’s cannabis club legislation, is neutral on HB 1258. MED director Jim Burack called the approach “incremental” and “responsible.” Not all view the tasting rooms concept in that manner. The Clean Indoor Air Act concerns have not dissipated — the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, or ACSCAN, are among the groups opposing the bill. Smoking would be prohibited in the marijuana accessory consumption establishments; however, consumers could consume marijuana concentrate via edibles or oil-filled vapor inhalation devices. “The person there is inhaling this second-hand emission,” said R.J. Ours, Colorado government relations director for ACSCAN. “It isn’t vapor. It’s chemical aerosol.” The combustion and subsequent inhalation of a processed chemical mixture create concerns that include irritants and carcinogenic effects, he said. ACSCAN and other opponents plan to submit a formal veto request. Marijuana public use/on-site consumption in other states Alaska — Banned, but rule-making is in process for a consumption endorsement for marijuana use in dispensaries. California — Not allowed anywhere smoking is banned; however, on-site consumption is permitted with city approval and allowed in private clubs or private events. Colorado — Statewide “open and public” use banned; however, local policies have created “private club” exemptions. The city of Denver legalized non-smoked marijuana use in licensed businesses. Maine — Allows for licensure of “social clubs” where retail marijuana products are sold. Legislation has been proposed to limit social use. Massachusetts — Draft regulations proposed for on-site consumption for licensed marijuana businesses, potentially in combination with another service such as yoga studios and spas. Nevada — No public use allowed, but definition of public spaces does not include retail marijuana stores. Oregon — Prohibited. Washington — Prohibited. Source: National Conference of State Legislatures https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/03/colorado-marijuana-tasting-rooms-bill
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