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New Canadian Prime Minister promises to legalise marijuana

by papapuff » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:31 pm

Lobby well underway in Alberta to influence final decisions of cannabis legalization

Many issues to resolve as province takes first steps in legalization of cannabis

By Kim Trynacity , CBC News Posted: Oct 04, 2017

Moments after Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley unveiled the proposed Alberta Cannabis Framework, the Alberta Liquor Store Association issued a news release urging the government to allow its members to sell marijuana.

Association president Ivonne Martinez said in a statement, she strongly supports the government's position that alcohol and cannabis not be "co-located."

But Martinez went on to explain that liquor stores are already zoned for retailing controlled substance and reconfiguring stores with a separate retail unit to sell cannabis would not be difficult.

Ganley told reporters Wednesday the government is undecided if cannabis should be distributed through government-owned-and-operated stores or through privately-run stores, saying both systems have benefits.

Ganley noted if government ran the retail stores, it would have greater control over the cannabis black market and may be better at keeping cannabis from minors.

But Ganley acknowledged private operators could set up a system more easily and would keep additional cost and risk away from the Alberta taxpayer.

"Here in Alberta we don't presently retail pretty much anything at the government of Alberta, so we would have to put a lot of systems in place in order to do that."

Another consideration is how government could earn revenue from cannabis sales in future, Ganley said.

Anti-tobacco laws

A coalition of health organizations is encouraging the provincial government not to let anti-tobacco legislation take a back seat to cannabis legalization.

Campaign for a Smoke Free Alberta is urging the province to proclaim sections of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act that restrict the sales of certain tobacco products to minors.

Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking & Health, said sections of the act have been "stalled" while attention is focussed on cannabis.

Hagen is also concerned that focus on cannabis will "re-normalize" smoking.

"To a five year old, it doesn't matter whether it's someone smoking cannabis, or e-cigarettes, or a water pipe or a real cigarette. It's all smoking," Hagen said.

"Over time those impressions weaken the resolve of children, and they do contribute to the uptake of tobacco use among kids."

Impaired driving concerns

The United Conservative Party (UCP) is calling on the government to offer greater detail on its plan.

"The NDP government must provide immediate answers about combating cannabis on the black market," wrote UCP Mike Ellis in a news release.

Ellis, a former police officer, is also concerned about how police will be able to test for the presence of cannabis in impaired drivers.

The Edmonton Police Service says it isn't in a position to comment on the cannabis framework at this time, but will likely meet with the government in the near future.
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by papapuff » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:34 pm

The Globe and Mail

Canada is right to move away from the shortsighted banning of edible cannabis

OCTOBER 4, 2017

Sylvain Charlebois is dean of the Faculty of Management and professor in distribution and policy at Dalhousie University. Simon Somogyi is an associate professor of food value chains in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University.

If all things go to plan, as of July 1, 2018, legal-aged Canadians will be able to walk into a store, experience a perhaps not-so-friendly retail environment and buy cannabis. Federal and provincial government leaders are working out how and in what form you will be able to buy it.

Edible items containing cannabis ("edibles") are prepared food products, such as cakes, muffins, candy and drinks. This category also includes the possibility of purchasing a restaurant meal that contains cannabis. Edibles initially were to be banned under Bill C-45, the act to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but this was recently amended to allow these goods. This will take place one year after regular cannabis is legalized in Canada. So it seems Ottawa has changed its mind and, arguably, for some good reasons.

First, if the retail price point of legalized cannabis remains unknown, the black market could expand. As a result, edibles could become more readily available to the public, which is less desirable. By allowing edibles on the market, oversight regarding quality, safety, dosage, packaging, labelling and other important aspects of food distribution is more plausible.

Secondly, until just recently, legislation stated that the only form of cannabis available for purchase would be dried plant material for smoking and that edible products would, for the time being, be banned. Most experts agree that ingesting cannabis is better than smoking it. Not allowing edibles would have sent the wrong message to the public, possibly inviting many consumers to consider the black market for a healthier choice. Meanwhile, Health Canada is informing Canadians that edibles are the only form of safe cannabis consumption. This would have made the whole thing quite awkward for the government.

Thirdly, of course, are the various types of products which could cause harm to children. Food innovation, free of any regulatory framework, can lead to a mess. This is what the state of Colorado went through in 2014 when it legalized marijuana. Child-friendly food products could become more common, exposing children to harmful products. Candies, gummy bears, suckers and drinks, are forms of edibles that are already being produced and which are very attractive to children.

A recent study from Dalhousie University shows that almost 60 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the access children will have to cannabis come July, 2018. That same study also showed that 46 per cent of Canadians would try cannabis-infused food products, if they became available on the market. The temptation clearly exists among consumers. Most, driven by curiosity, will likely try to purchase products on the black market.

The banning of edible cannabis products was plainly shortsighted. Canada has a well-established food processing and food-retail industry. These industries, whether food manufacturers or restaurants, are not only accustomed to producing consistent, high-quality products but also used to following phytosanitary and food-safety regulations. It should be of little challenge for them to create and deliver safe and quality assured cannabis, as long as regulations are clear and predictable. They are just waiting for the official government go-ahead to capitalize on what is considered by many to be a highly lucrative market. It is not going to happen any time soon, but allowing edibles will give a chance for the market to adapt to and manage a potential cascade of cannabis-infused food products.

Much work remains, but it will all be worth it and is something the Canadian public deserves.

Giving edibles more attention in the legislation is good news for everyone.
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by papapuff » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:00 pm


Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Lead Peers in Pot Accounts

By Doug Alexander
October 5, 2017, 6:00 AM PDT

Alterna first among credit unions as recreational use looms

RBC is reviewing its policies after shunning the industry

Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank are emerging as the banks of choice for Canada’s burgeoning marijuana industry, even as some lenders shun the sector.

With less than a year to go before Canada plans to legalize recreational pot in July, and 16 years after making it legal for medical use, Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion are providing business accounts to at least 21 cannabis companies, according to interviews with 45 firms tied to the drug. Alterna Savings and Credit Union Ltd. is top among co-operative lenders.

Canadian banks are warming to an industry avoided by banks in the U.S., where marijuana is outlawed federally. Most U.S. banks have refused to do business with pot companies to avoid accusations of money laundering and other criminal violations that could bring jail time.

Canada’s recreational pot sales are forecast to reach C$6 billion ($4.8 billion) by 2021, surpassing the C$1.3 billion estimate for the mature medical marijuana market. Ontario’s government is already forging ahead with plans to set up its own weed stores, though using the drug for pleasure still carries a social stigma in many circles.

“Different lenders have been quicker than others to move into this industry, but this is understandable as public perceptions are still evolving," Basem Hanna, chief executive officer of Mississauga, Ontario-based TerrAscend Corp. said by email. “There could be a significant first-mover advantage to the financial institutions that are getting involved with the legal cannabis industry already."

Bank of Montreal provides accounts to at least a dozen companies, including Aphria Inc., CannTrust Holdings Inc., and Invictus MD Strategies Corp., as well as investment firms Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. and CannaRoyalty Corp.

Monitor Industry

"We provide deposit accounts and related services to businesses operating legally within this emerging sector on a case-by-case basis," spokesman Paul Gammal said in an email. “We will continue to monitor the industry and consider offering further services as it matures."

Toronto-Dominion, Canada’s largest lender, is banker to at least nine producers including MedReleaf Corp., Cronos Group Inc., TerrAscend and Beleave Inc. The lender assesses banking and loan applications from businesses in any legalized industry on “a case-by-case basis," bank spokeswoman Elizabeth Lewis said.

Bin Huang, CEO of Victoria, British Columbia-based Emerald Health Therapeutics Inc., said the company won over Bank of Montreal by explaining the industry and directing its local bankers to the federal government’s Health Canada agency to prove Emerald is legal. Huang says she hasn’t had any issues with the Toronto-based lender or other banks, but said that’s not the case for many others in the industry.

Risk Adverse

“There has been a reluctance from the big banks because they are really risk averse and there’s also some confusion and misunderstanding," she said. “We’re legal, we’re licensed but they still think when you’re in the cannabis business that that’s just a grey area -- that’s the misperception and it takes time to educate."

Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia are among those that shut out pot companies, and both have shuttered accounts of those in the industry. Changing rules may prompt them to reconsider.

“RBC currently does not provide banking services to companies engaged in the production and distribution of marijuana," spokesman AJ Goodman said. “We recognize that the legislative landscape is evolving and we are undergoing a review of our policies."

Scotiabank spokesman Rick Roth said that “should there be significant change to industry legislation or regulation, we will revisit our risk assessment and make risk policy adjustments if warranted.”

While many banks have shied away, credit unions have stepped up. Alterna has embraced firms dropped by banks.

Legitimate Business

“This is a legal, legitimate business and therefore it should be able to be provided the appropriate banking services," Alterna CEO Rob Paterson said in a phone interview. Ottawa-based Alterna provides banking to about half of licensed producers, according to Paterson. “The licensed producers are very sophisticated and structured, so they’re easy to actually do business with," he said.

Clients include Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc., Canada’s two largest producers by market value, and Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd., which secured a C$5 million credit line in September. Canopy turned to Alterna after Royal Bank withdrew services from what was Canada’s first publicly traded pot stock.

Credit Agreement

Cannabis companies may miss out on the benefits of dealing with big banks, including better access to debt financing, more favorable terms and their investment-banking expertise. Still, MedReleaf landed a C$20 million credit agreement with “a major Canadian bank" in April, the Markham, Ontario-based company said in a filing. CEO Neil Closner wouldn’t disclose the bank’s name, but says the commitment could signal changing sentiment.

“It has sort of broken the ice and another one might follow, provided that it’s a business that makes sense," Closner said in an interview.

The big banks are also staying away from investment banking in the sector. That gap’s been filled by smaller firms such as Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., Clarus Securities Inc. and Mackie Research Capital Corp. which have provided services including stock sales and reverse takeovers. MedReleaf’s C$100.7 million IPO in May was led by GMP Capital Inc., while CanniMed Therapeutics Inc.’s C$69 million IPO in December was led by AltaCorp Capital Inc.

Part of the banks’ reluctance may simply be the industry’s size and profitability. Three-quarters of the 73 publicly traded companies have a market value below C$100 million and only a handful are profitable, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“As a few of the larger ones begin to make more money -- or make money at all -- I think some of the banks will line up and get more interested," Closner said.

— With assistance by Jen Skerritt
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by papapuff » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:33 pm

Canada's largest grower 'comfortable' with federal government's pot tax plan

Questions remain about how pot tax will affect black market drug sales

By Catherine Cullen, CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2017

The federal government's plan for a 10 per cent "sin tax" on legalized recreational marijuana sales sounds good to the head of Canada's largest, publicly-traded marijuana producer.

"This is sort of at the mid-to-low point on the models we ran. It's a comfortable number. It works," said Bruce Linton, founder and CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. He notes that it's lower than the excise tax on other "optional or luxury products," such as alcohol.

The federal government laid out its pot taxation plan on Tuesday during a meeting with the premiers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed an excise tax of $1 per gram of cannabis for pot sales up to $10, with a floor of 10 per cent of the total price for pot selling over $10, once the drug is legalized in July 2018.

That tax would be in addition to the federal and provincial sales taxes. So while the total amount of taxes paid will vary from one province or territory to another, it could mean a combined tax rate of roughly 25 per cent in several provinces. All while the legal product tries to compete with black market producers who won't pay any tax at all.

But Linton isn't worried.

"We are able to sell our product now at about $7.50 a gram and we charge GST or HST on top of that even though it's a medicine. To think it could retail for $10 and have the taxes embedded … that's not a big stretch. And that's at or below the average black market price."

He believes legal producers will have an added advantage because they will be able to grow in larger quantities, while illegal producers have to contend with potential arrest. On top of that, he argues Canadians will prefer a regulated and legal source of cannabis over the uncertainty of an illegal product.

Trudeau has repeatedly said one of the main reasons he wants to legalize pot is to cut off a source of funding to the black market. He has referred to the "shady character in a stairwell," as well as street gangs and gun runners who profit from the illegal market.

Tax not 'unreasonable,' says former pot czar

Colorado decided to allow legalized possession of marijuana in 2012 and opened up the market to storefront sales in 2014. The state's former director of marijuana co-ordination, Andrew Freedman, said that while there is still a black market, much of it is people who are growing in large quantity to sell out of state, where he says profits are four times higher.
When Colorado legalized, its tax rate approached nearly 30 per cent, though about half of that was a wholesale tax paid by retailers. He thinks Canada's proposed taxation plan is just about right.

"It doesn't seem unreasonable to me."

Freedman said it's important to consider the goal of taxation.

"My goal would be to ensure that the product continues to be expensive enough as to not create more users who are likely to abuse the drug. A roughly 25 per cent tax is likely to keep at least initially the prices at a fairly high rate, not too cheap to bring a whole bunch of new entrants into the market."

But he says the real issue is less the tax and more the cost of producing recreational pot. In Colorado, the price has dropped "precipitously" because it's become cheaper to produce.

Market will dictate price

While Canadian officials have said it is important to get the price of legal pot right, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers of Justice and Health, Bill Blair, told CBC News that ultimately the market will dictate the price.

He notes that in places where there is a total government monopoly on retail pot sales, the government will have control, but he believes market forces will have the final say.

"If you want to be competitive with the organized crime sales price, you've got to respect the market that sets that price and you've got to come in below it."

Blair also notes that other jurisdictions have set taxes even higher. Washington state, for example, has 37 per cent tax on marijuana and related products.

Tax plan 'ridiculous'

But not everyone is sold on the government's taxation plan.

"I think that's ridiculous," said Anindya Sen, director of the master of public service program and an economics professor at the University of Waterloo.

He cites the Colorado experience as evidence that Canada's proposed taxation levels are too high.

He notes that Colorado does still have what he calls a "thriving" black market and attributes that to higher taxation levels in the state.

"According to data which I've seen, sometimes all it takes is a dollar or a dollar and a half to result in a significant black market."

In an open letter to Blair that he co-authored for the C.D. Howe Institute, Sen argued that there should be an overall tax of 10 per cent on legalized marijuana and that it should be evenly distributed between the federal and provincial/territorial government.

At that price, he and his colleague estimated 90 per cent of the marijuana market would be legitimate.
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by papapuff » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:44 pm

Intervention in cross-border beer case could affect plans for provincial cannabis monopolies, says Jodie Emery

by Amanda Siebert on October 5th, 2017

Will a Supreme Court of Canada case dealing with interprovincial alcohol import limits have implications for provinces that plan to monopolize legal cannabis? Jodie Emery thinks it might.

In 2012, Gerard Comeau was stopped by RCMP and fined almost $300 for carrying 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor from Quebec to his home province of New Brunswick. That amount exceeded the personal import limit of 12 pints of beer or one bottle of liquor set by New Brunswick's Liquor Control Act.

Last year, New Brunswick provincial court Judge Ronald LeBlanc ruled that the import limit was unconsitutional and acquitted Comeau based on Section 121 of the 1867 Constitution Act, which says that goods from any province "shall…be admitted free into each of the other provinces."

Provincial prosecutors have taken their appeal to the highest court in Canada and say that if the acquittal is upheld, it could "redesign Canadian federalism" as we know it.

When the Canadian Constitution Foundation contacted Emery's husband, Marc, asking for his support in the cross-border beer case a few months ago, they wondered how the appeal's outcome might set legal precedent for interprovincial import and export of other products, like cannabis.

Lawyers said there was a possibility that the case could be relevant to companies like the Emerys' own brand, Cannabis Culture—but it wasn't until Ontario announced its plan to impose a monopoly on the province's legal marijuana market that the idea of intervening in the case began to pick up steam.

"It raised the eyebrows of our lawyers, who said that, in general, it [Ontario's plan] didn't seem fair," Jodie Emery told the Straight by phone on Monday.

On September 8, Ontario ministers made the announcement that the province would create a provincial cannabis control board that would oversee the retail sale of cannabis through 150 government-operated storefronts by 2020, with 40 shops set to open by July 2018.

Illicit-dispensary operators were told during the announcement that they would be shut down in the months leading up to legalization. The plan for a government monopoly has received widespread criticism.

Last month, Jodie Emery signed an affidavit—regarding her concerns about the legal and financial ramifications of the Supreme Court appeal—on behalf of Cannabis Culture, which supports the movement of products between provinces free of restrictions or tariffs.

Cannabis Culture has applied to be an intervenor in the case on behalf of 28 other corporations and warns in its application that if restrictions on participation in the legal market are too strict, the illicit market will thrive.

Speaking specifically to Ontario's proposed distribution framework, Emery said that exisiting businesses would suffer under such a controlled approach.

Not only that, she said, but those interested in starting new business in the industry would be dettered from participating.

"If the government is in control of the market, then a lot of the opportunities are lost," she said.

She also argued that Canadians favour free-trade agreements and that other provinces still deciding on a framework should consider the potential consequences of implementing regulations that are "too prohibitive".

In the event that Comeau's acquittal is upheld, the argument could be made that Ontario's proposed monopoly on cannabis is "unconstitutional", she said. This would give entities like Cannabis Culture an opportunity to file an action against provinces like Ontario.

For now, Emery awaits the Crown's decision on whether or not to grant Cannabis Culture intervenor status. More than a dozen other organizations have also filed requests to intervene in the case, including the Alberta Small Brewers Association, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Consumers Council of Canada, and Fed Ex.

The Crown isn't required to decide on applications by a certain date, but the Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for December 5 and 6.

Jodie Emery is currently on bail after being arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking, possession, and two counts of possession of proceeds of crime in connection with Project Gator.

Others charged in connection include her husband, Marc, as well as Chris Goodwin, Erin Goodwin, and Britney Anne Guerra.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:31 am

Ottawa trims its pot plans; amends bill to legalize marijuana

Rachel Aiello, Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer

Published Friday, October 6, 2017 9:38AM EDT

OTTAWA –The House of Commons Health Committee has completed its study of Bill C-45, the government’s bill to legalize marijuana, and has made some tweaks to the government’s proposal, including cutting out the height restriction on homegrown marijuana plants.

The original version of the legislation proposed by the government stated that when growing marijuana plants at home, the maximum plant height would be 100 centimetres. Now, any references to a specific height have been removed from the bill.

During the marathon testimony that saw more than 100 witnesses come before the committee, the point was raised that if a plant owner let their plant grow one centimetre too tall, they’d become a criminal.

Despite a wide range of other serious concerns about the legislation—from the impact on youth and the bill staying silent on edibles, to provinces and police forces’ preparedness—no other substantive amendments were passed.

The committee spent several hours over Monday, Oct. 2 and Tuesday, Oct. 3 considering amendments. The Liberal majority defeated the amendments proposed by the NDP at committee, while the Conservative members voted against all proposed amendments as they are opposed to marijuana becoming legal.

The committee did make more than 20 other mainly technical changes to Bill C-45, including adding the definition of a medical emergency as it relates to a psychoactive substance, for the purpose of exempting people from any potential charges if they call for help.

The legislation will also now be reviewed and reported back to Parliament three years after coming into force.

Other tweaks made were to the wording around promotion and ticketing; and it makes a related amendment to the Non-smokers’ Health Act, to address concerns around marijuana in the workplace. The committee added a definition of work space to essentially be any indoor or outdoor space where employees perform duties of their employment.

The government is eyeing July 2018 as their target to have marijuana legalized in Canada.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:36 am

News Nugs: Alberta releases framework, Horgan slams tax idea, LPs create Canadian Cannabis Co-op, and more

by Amanda Siebert on October 5th, 2017

It's been a busy week for cannabis news.

Earlier this week, the Cannabis Act underwent changes at two meetings held by the Standing Committee on Health in Ottawa, where members conducted a clause-by-clause review of the legislation.

An amendment to regulate the sale of edible cannabis products was passed by the committee, but will not be implemented until July 2019. Policy makers said the extra year would give them more time to decide on how to regulate edibles.

The committee also opted to remove the 100-centimetre limit on homegrown plants.

Yesterday, the province of Alberta announced its proposal for a legal cannabis framework following a lengthy public consultation.

As expected, policy makers in our neighbouring province want to set the minimum age for cannabis consumption at 18, to put it in line with Alberta's legal drinking and smoking age.

The distribution of cannabis will be regulated by the province, and will mirror its existing alcohol distribution system.

Cannabis will not be sold in conjunction with tobacco, pharmaceuticals, or alcohol, and retail outlets that sell cannabis will be subjected to rules that will limit hours of operation and location.

The province will continue to seek feedback from Albertans until October 27 on whether or not it should introduce government-owned and operated retail stores, licensed and regulated private sales, or a mix of both.

Late last week, the Montreal Gazette reported that Quebec will set the legal age for consuming cannabis at 18, a decision questioned by some policy makers because neighbouring Ontario has set the legal age to 19. (It's quite common for young Ontarians to cross the border to Quebec to purchase alcohol, and some are concerned that the same will occur for cannabis.)

Like Ontario, Quebec has said it will create a Crown corporation that leans on the preexisting framework of its liquor board to oversee all cannabis distribution.

While convenience store owners in Quebec lobbied heavily to be included in the province's framework, all retail sales of cannabis will be under the control of the province.

Neither Alberta or Quebec have indicated what their provincial tax structure might look like, but at Monday’s First Ministers Meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's proposal for a shared federal and provincial tax structure ruffled the feathers of a few premiers—including our own.

Premier John Horgan told media in Victoria yesterday that while ministers had a "rigorous" discussion about cannabis legalization, he had not expected the PM to bring up taxation.

"We were surprised to learn that the federal government also believes, not only do we need to control and regulate the distribution of marijuana, but they see it as an opportunity to raise revenue, and that was a shock to everyone at the table," he said.

Horgan added that premiers "made it abundantly clear" that they were concerned with the costs of legalization for provinces and local governments, and that they "didn't see a role for the federal government" when it came to taking revenues from cannabis—especially when they could potentially fund public education, distribution systems, and other priorities associated with implementing legalization.

While undecided provinces continue to grapple with options for the retail sale of cannabis, 12 Canadian licensed producers have joined forces to create the Canadian Cannabis Co-op in hopes of implementing a private retail system in provinces that don’t go the “Ontario” route.

In a press release, the Co-op stated that it was prepared to "make a significant investment in Alberta to create a turn-key retail solution to address the challenges of safe, regulated supply and socially-responsible cannabis retailing."

The co-op seeks to act as “one of many” private retail channels in Alberta, should the province opt to include private retailers in its framework.

Current members of the Co-op include ABCann (Napanee, Ontario), Aphria (Leamington, Ontario), Bonify (Winnipeg, Manitoba), CannTrust (Vaughan, Ontario), Cronos Group (includes Peace Naturals in Simcoe County, Ontario; Original B.C. in the Okanagan Valley; and Whistler Medical Marijuana Company in Whistler), Emblem (Paris, Ontario), Emerald (Victoria, B.C.), Hydropothecary (Gatineau, Quebec), MedReleaf (Markham, Ontario), Newstrike (includes Up Cannabis in Oakville, Ontario), Organigram (Moncton, New Brunswick) and Tilray (Nanaimo, B.C.).

Any Canadian licensed producers are welcome to join the Co-op.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am

MTL Blog

Canada Post To Start Delivering Marijuana

Cannabis to your doorstep.

Michael D'Alimonte · October 06, 2017

Canada Post, the Canadian crown corporation that is the nation’s main postal service, has said it will start delivering marijuana after legalization.

The announcement was made at a conference in Montreal yesterday, with a representative from Canada Post saying the company will deliver cannabis to Canadian homes.

A director of strategy and e-commerce mentioned that Canada Post already delivers a controlled substance (alcohol) for the SAQ and LCBO, so the company is equipped to handle marijuana.

Canada Post claims it is already able to check the age and identity of individuals, a requirement if marijuana is going to be sent to doorsteps.

Whether or not anyone will want to deliver marijuana using Canada Post remains to be seen, as the company admits a formal study on the potential popularity of cannabis-delivery with Canada Post users hasn’t been performed.

Existing Canada Post users may not be too keen on marijuana delivery, but something tells me a lot of people who never used snail mail will be enticed to if cannabis is something they can send and receive, legally.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:43 am

Yahoo News Canada

Calgary cannabis community gives government resounding thumbs up on draft pot rules

CBC CBCOctober 5, 2017

Members of Calgary's cannabis community are excited to see the proposed framework for Alberta's marijuana legislation, and they're giving it a resounding thumbs up despite many questions remaining unanswered.

On Wednesday, the government released the draft rules, which reference a legal age limit of 18, as well as other details such as how much can be purchased at once — 30 grams — and where people will be permitted to smoke and vape.

​Jeff Mooij, owner of the 420 Clinic in Inglewood called the rules "the best framework for legalization" he had seen so far.

"If it's about getting rid of the black market, the NDP and the province of Alberta just did a much better job than any other province," Mooij said.

Where will the weed come from?

Mooij has been involved in the consultation process to this point and the Alberta government has asked him to meet with representatives Thursday to hear more of his thoughts.

While the government has left the possibility of government-run stores on the table in the framework, Mooij said he's confident they will opt for the private-run option. Mooij said it would be an economic boon for the city and province.

He's also expressed interest is opening a chain of his stores to meet demand.

But other questions remain aside from who will be in charge of selling the marijuana, namely supply.

Steady supply a concern

Come July 1, marijuana demand is expected to skyrocket as recreational use becomes legal. That has some on the medicinal side of things concerned.

Kait Shane, the spokesperson for Natural Health Services, which has offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, said while they are thrilled with most aspects of the proposed framework, steady supply is an area of key concern.

"It's amazing how many times we have patients come in and say how much cannabis has changed their lives," Shane said.

"If that is yanked out from under them at this point, that does alarm us just a little bit. But we're really hoping that the powers that be will consider that when they're making whatever rules they're going to make around who gets what as far as distribution goes."

Key questions in need of an answer

Myles Leslie is an assistant professor with University of Calgary's School of Public Policy who focuses on health and social policy. He said he will be watching two issues most closely.

First off, the proposed rules for limits on possession in public — set at 30 grams in the framework. Leslie said it makes little sense to quantify the legality of marijuana.

"I don't understand how that's enforceable," he said.

"You can have 12 bottles of wine, as long as they're not uncorked in a public place, you could have 500 of them because it's a legal substance."

The second issue for him as well, is supply. He said Shane has good reason to be concerned regarding supply distribution to medical dispensaries because rules haven't been set out that would prioritize who will have orders filled by the federally monitored supply chain. And there certainly won't be enough to go around at first.

"I don't know if the growers are going to be able to ramp up to demand and keep pricing where [the government] needs it to be, so that the black market can't continue to undercut," Leslie said.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:53 am

October 6, 2017

Some Manitobans worry province is falling behind on cannabis plan for July 2018

By Zahra Premji
Reporter Global News

As the anticipated July 1, 2018 legalization of marijuana date comes closer, some Manitobans wanting to take part in the business are expressing frustration.

The province of Manitoba said work continues on the cannabis plan and that nothing is being stalled, but Manitoba has not revealed any of its plans.

Ontario and Alberta have both started rolling out their own.

On Wednesday, Alberta said weed will not be sold in stores that handle alcohol or cigarettes and that it will be sold in specialty shops. The legal age to buy pot will be the same as the legal drinking age, 18.

In Ontario, the plan released last month explained it will sell marijuana in 150 government run stores, with 40 of them hoping to be open by summer. The legal age in Ontario will be the same as the legal drinking age in the province, 19.

But in Manitoba, more questions than answers.

“They are dragging their heels,” Canadian Cannabis Advocate, Steven Stairs, said.

Stairs said the province needs to start hammering out a plan and showing its cards so Manitobans can start preparing.

Jeremy Loewen is the owner of Hemp Haven and he said he’d like to delve in to the cannabis business, but he’s far too confused to know if and when he can.

The province said nearly 60 Manitobans have put together production and distribution proposals.

However, unlike neighbouring provinces, decisions in Manitoba have not been made on how many shops, who will run them, or even the legal age to purchase.

“All options are on the table as far as what distribution will look like,” Minister for Justice, Heather Stefanson, said.

Steven Stairs said Manitoba is known for appreciating and highlighting small businesses, but he feels the lack of explanation on what the cannabis plan is is hindering some small businesses from being able to grow.
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by papapuff » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:54 pm

Black market will thrive if Alberta government runs marijuana stores, says mid-level dealer

'If it goes Ontario's model, I become richer. If they do private, they have a chance to compete'

By Dave Dormer, CBC News Posted: Oct 08, 2017

The black market will continue in Alberta if the province goes with a government-run sales model for recreational marijuana when it's legalized next year, predicts a mid-level dealer who has been selling dope in Calgary for nearly 20 years.

"If it goes Ontario's model, I become richer," said the dealer, who spoke to CBC Calgary News on the condition of anonymity.

"If they do private, they have a chance to compete."

The dealer says he got started about 20 years ago, selling to friends and classmates as a way to fund his own supply. He says he began treating it like a business about seven years ago and now averages about 150 kilograms in sales annually.

Legislation introduced by the federal government aims to legalize marijuana in Canada by July 2018.

The province of Ontario's framework for recreational marijuana received criticism when it was announced in early September. The plan will see cannabis sold in just 80 government-run stores across the entire province to start, which will be expanded to 150 stores by 2020.

The minimum age to buy and consume there will be 19.

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, said in a statement that having limited retail outlets "will do virtually nothing to combat the huge illegal market."

Several prominent cannabis activists were also critical of the plan, including Eric Nash and Wendy Little, two Canadian cannabis industry consultants who tweeted their concern about the lack of cannabis stores being opened by the province.

Pot will also be available online in Ontario, but deliveries will require a signature and proof of age.

By comparison, Alberta's draft framework was unveiled by Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley last week. It calls for:

A minimum age of 18 to buy or consume marijuana.

Public possession limit of 30 grams (with no limit on possession in private residences).

Allowing up to four plants to be grown per household, up to one metre high.

A ban on smoking and vaping marijuana in vehicles, even for passengers.

No online sales.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will serve as the central wholesaler for all products, but Ganley said the province has not yet decided whether stores will be privately run or operated by government — and that decision will affect what happens to the black market, says the dealer.

"In my opinion… if you have a free market, the government not controlling it and [businesses] battling it out, you will have better prices, 100 per cent," the dealer said.

"Better prices, better innovation. That's the only way."

Another unanswered question is whether products like marijuana oils and edibles will be available for recreational sales.

The NDP government is calling for feedback on the draft rules until Oct. 27. Legislation will then be presented by the end of the year, including whether to use a public or private model.

Negotiations between the provinces and federal government around taxation — which will play a factor in the final price — likely won't be finished by then, said a Ganley spokesperson.

The federal government has proposed a 50-50 split of tax revenues, which Ganley has said won't work. Since it's the province that will be covering a majority of the cost to set up and run the system, she argued, it should be the province getting a majority of the tax revenues.

Ganley has also said she doesn't think initial revenues will be enough to cover the start-up costs.

Ontario officials have indicated they'll be aiming for a price of $10 a gram, but that may be too high, figures the dealer, who said he charges between $6 and $8 a gram.

"If they're looking at $10 or $11 grams in nondescript packaging that only [is sold during] the hours of the LCBO, they're going to get destroyed," he said.

"[The black market] is going to be half the price of what they can do it. That's what the government is not understanding … these [dealers] are ahead already, they have better product and clientele and people that are knowledgeable."

The U.S. experience

Taxes on marijuana in Washington State totaled 75 per cent when it was first legalized in 2014, and coupled with supply issues, drove the price up to nearly $25 US a gram, which allowed the black market to thrive.

The tax rate has since been adjusted to 37 per cent and the price has dropped to around $6 US a gram, curtailing illegal sales.

In Colorado there's a 15 per cent excise tax on marijuana, along with a sales tax of 15 per cent (which was raised from 10 per cent earlier this year) and a state tax of 2.9 per cent, for a total of 32.9 per cent.

The average price of recreational marijuana in Colorado is about $6 US a gram.

That seems to be striking the right balance, says Lewis Koski, who was director of the marijuana enforcement division for the state of Colorado when it was legalized. He's now a lecturer at University of Colorado Denver and co-founder of a consulting company that helps local and state governments with policy implementation.

The evidence of that balance, says Koski, is the fact a large majority of sales have moved from the black market to legitimate stores.

"We did a demand study and found the total demand for the entire state was around 131 to 133 metric tons," he said.

"We estimated in there what part was medical and what part was going to be serviced by the commercialized, licenced and medical retailers and what part was going to be done by the black market still.

"What's interesting is, in the year since that study was published, the regulated market, between medical and retail, the licenced businesses, they're on track to produce that much or more, so what that tells us is … to a large extent the regulated market is probably meeting the local demand."

The price of marijuana also continues to fall in U.S. states where it's now legal. According to numbers released by the state of Colorado, the price of marijuana there has dropped from about $2,000 US a pound in January 2015 to about $1,300 US a pound today.

And total revenues from marijuana taxes, licences and fees in Colorado were more than $158 million up to the end of August this year, according to numbers released online, which are the most recent statistics available.

Prices are similar in Canada, says the dealer, sitting between $1,300 and $1,500 a pound, but that's in Canadian funds.

Black market still exists

The black market still exists in U.S. states where marijuana is legal, but it has morphed somewhat from street-level sales to wholesale distribution to neighbouring states where it remains illegal, says Koski.

That could happen in Canada too.

"If there are a number of U.S. states that have a demand for marijuana, there's a potential for Canadian marijuana to be diverted," he said.

"If the black market is changing their business patterns because they're disrupted by the regulated marketplace, they may be interested in moving it to other areas where it's illegal. The black market is less likely to pay attention to the boundaries between countries."​
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by papapuff » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:40 pm

20,000 ideas and counting: British Columbians offer feedback on legal cannabis

Premier hints at private and public sales, while feedback forum open until Nov. 1

By Chad Pawson, CBC News Posted: Oct 09, 2017

The B.C. government has received more than 20,000 responses from the public on questions concerning how legal marijuana should be regulated and sold in the province.

And it's only halfway through its public consultation on how to implement non-medical cannabis distribution in the province, once the federal government makes it legal in July 2018.

The B.C. Cannabis Regulation Engagement closes on Nov. 1. and is asking for feedback on the minimum age to buy cannabis. It's also asking for public input on these topics:

Personal possession limits
Public consumption
Drug-impaired driving
Personal cultivation and distribution
Retail models

Following the first minister's meeting in Ottawa last week Premier John Horgan hinted at the direction B.C. is heading on legal cannabis.

"We are going to be looking at what I believe will be a mixed-model," Horgan said, which means the drug could be sold at private and public stores, like pharmacies or liquor stores.

That was good news for Paul Finch, with the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, which represents B.C. Liquor Store employees.

"We are very encouraged that they are moving on this, that they are starting to consider it," Finch said.

"We think that it's a responsible consultation process they are engaging in."

The government says no decisions will be made until after public consultations wrap up.

'Cat is out of the bag'

When decisions do come, existing marijuana businesses are banking on their ability to remain open, despite currently operating illegally under federal rules.

"With the quantity of dispensaries already getting licensed in municipalities like Victoria and Vancouver, the cat is kind of out of the bag," said Travis Lane with the B.C. Independent Cannabis Association.

Lane and others are supportive of the government's consultation process and have been making submissions, highlighting how illegal dispensaries have already developed an efficient distribution system for cannabis.

The government says one of its main priorities with provincial regulations is to keep criminals out of cannabis.

It also wants to protect young people and keep roads safe.

"All of these changes will require careful thought to ensure the right balance is struck for moving forward," a government statement said.
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by papapuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:03 am

Joint discussions: N.L. says it should get more than half of any federal marijuana tax

Too early to start counting on revenue from legal marijuana sales, says finance minister

CBC News Posted: Oct 10, 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador's finance minister says the province should get more than half of any federal tax on cannabis.

​Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the federal government had proposed a tax of $1 per gram of cannabis for sales up to $10, rising to 10 per cent of the total price for pot selling at a higher price, with the money split 50/50 between the provinces and the federal government.

Provincial Finance Minister Tom Osborne told CBC's Central Morning on Friday that it's still early in discussions, but the provinces should get more than half.

Majority of costs will be borne by province: Osborne

"The majority of the costs related to the implementation of the sale of cannabis will be borne by the province, including regulations, the distribution, justice and health-care issues, social issues, so we would certainly expect a greater proportion of the tax."

But Osborne added it's too early for the province to say what it would consider a more equitable split, but a committee with representatives from nearly every government department is figuring that out.

"We're assessing the costs of setting up the infrastructure, the regulations, the distribution, and the other issues related to the sale of cannabis," he said, noting that discussions between the federal government and the provinces will continue. "Once we get a better understanding of the costs associated, we'll be in a better position to say what that split should be."

Ultimately, he acknowledged, the split will be up to the federal government, but he said Ottawa knows where the provinces stand.

"I think the federal government are well aware of the fact that the provinces believe that the majority of the costs will be expected to be carried by the provinces. Therefore, the majority of the tax revenue from the sale of cannabis should go to the provinces."

Too early to count on revenue

Osborne said it's also too early for anyone to assume legal cannabis sales will be much help in turning around the province's finances, given the expected costs and the fact it needs to be sold at a price low enough to prevent illegal trade from continuing to flourish.

"We're not even certain at this stage whether this is going to provide a revenue to the province," he said. "There are a number of costs associated with this, and that's what the interdepartmental committee are still trying to iron out and determine."
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by papapuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:30 am

Ottawa Sun

Medical patients should come first if there is a marijuana shortage, says patient advocate


An advocate for medical marijuana users says patients are concerned their supply is going to be pinched by the looming demand for recreational weed.

It’s a worry sparked by an inconvenient truth: if Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, as planned, by next summer, there probably won’t be enough pot to go around.

Health Canada says it expects growers to give priority to medical patients who rely on cannabis for everything from chronic pain to insomnia.

But an organization representing medical marijuana patients says the government needs a policy to ensure that happens or sick people might be at risk when the market opens up to a flood of social users.

“It’s important that these products continue to be available as we head into legalization,” said Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, an education and advocacy organization. He said he hears from patients who are worried.

“It’s concerning that there is no specific supply guarantee for medical cannabis patients. We are really advocating for Health Canada as well as the industry to ensure that the medical market is fully supplied, to ensure patients have reliable, consistent access.”

Private growers licensed by Health Canada to sell to medical users will also supply the recreational pot market. Many growers are expanding as fast as they can. Health Canada is approving licences more quickly: the department streamlined the procedure for obtaining them and hired more staff.

Still, some analysts say there won’t be enough marijuana for everyone by July 2018, when the federal government has promised recreational pot will be legal.

Zaid says medical patients already have trouble obtaining what they need. Health Canada says that, overall, there is enough medical marijuana available. However, growers can run out of particular strains or products, Zaid said.

The number of people signing up for medical marijuana is also increasing rapidly. There were about 200,000 patients registered in Canada at the end of June, compared with about 30,000 just two years earlier. The number has been growing by about 10 per cent every month, according to Health Canada.

Will those patients get first dibs on the cannabis supply?

In a statement, Health Canada said it expects growers will “prioritize sales to individuals who require cannabis for medical purposes over non-medical sales.”

“Health Canada would continue to closely monitor patients’ access to cannabis for medical purposes during implementation of the proposed legislation. The Department will continue to work with patients and their advocates to ensure that individuals have reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes.”

Six growers surveyed by the Sun, including three of the largest — Tweed, Aurora and Aphria — say they will take care of their medical patients.

“We know this is on people’s minds, based on feedback and chatter on social media,” said Jordan Sinclair, spokesman for Tweed in Smiths Falls.

“Patients are worried about it.”

Tweed’s parent company, Canopy Growth Corp., has promised that sales to any patients signed up by July 1, 2018 will be given priority over recreational cannabis sales. The company will track how much and what type of cannabis medical patients use, and reserve that amount, said Sinclair.

Tweed recently signed an agreement with New Brunswick to help supply that province with recreational pot. If other provinces move to lock in their supply, Canopy Growth will be in a better position to forecast its inventory precisely, said Sinclair. The company is growing quickly and has facilities across the country.

Aurora, another major grower, is building a huge greenhouse at the Edmonton airport. Like Canopy, it’s preparing to supply both the Canadian recreational market and customers overseas.

Aurora recently began selling in Germany, and hopes to add other European countries as they legalize medical cannabis, said executive vice-president Cam Battley. There is a huge global demand for quality, regulated medical cannabis, and Canadian companies have the chance to become leaders in supplying it, he said. Canadian growers are already exporting to a handful of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Chile and New Zealand.

However, Battley emphasized that Aurora will sell to medical patients in Canada first. “We’ve made that commitment very strongly and we’ve been repeating that for two years now.

“Some people have been skeptical that (growers) will prioritize medical sales, but for us it’s non-negotiable.”

Christina, a 42-year-old Ottawa woman who buys medical marijuana from Aurora to help with chronic pain and PTSD she suffers after a major car crash, said she’s concerned that prices might go up if there’s a shortage.

She enjoys “compassionate” pricing from Aurora, paying less per gram because she’s low-income, surviving on disability payments. Christina didn’t want her last name publicized because there is still a stigma surrounding cannabis use. She was relieved the company has promised to sell to patients first. “I believe them.”

Hydropothecary, a Gatineau grower, has a “guaranteed supply” policy for its patients, and that will continue, said CEO Sébastien St. Louis. “We wouldn’t put a patient in a situation where they register with us and we don’t have a product.”

The Canadian government plans to maintain a separate stream for medical patients. However, there may be some changes. “Additional details on how the licensing, production and medical access regime under the new Act would be administered are being developed,” according to Health Canada. “Once developed, the Government plans to consult broadly on the proposed licensing regime with the provinces and territories, industry, Indigenous peoples and other interested stakeholders.”

Some in the industry expect the government will allow medical marijuana to be sold at pharmacies. Now it’s only available online, directly from the growers. Growers and patient advocates are also lobbying hard for medical marijuana to be exempt from all taxes.

The pot shortage

How long will it take for Canada’s cannabis growers to supply enough pot for both medical patients and recreational users?

One cannabis analyst estimates that might happen around 2020. That’s when the market will reach “equilibrium” — supply will equal demand — in the best estimate of Greg McLeish, an analyst for brokerage firm Mackie Research Capital Corp.

The black market will “continue to be the principal source of supply for the majority of recreational users for the foreseeable future,” according to his Sept. 20 report.

McLeish used a variety of government and private studies to estimate how many people use recreational pot now, how many may try it after it’s legal, how much the medical market will grow, and how much cannabis growers will be able to supply.

He estimates the combined demand for both medical and recreational marijuana in 2018 will be 795,000 kilograms — a market value of $6 billion.

Licensed growers now have funding in place to increase their production capacity to more than 720,000 kg a year, he estimates. But it takes time for companies to build or expand facilities, obtain rigorous Health Canada approvals and harvest the crops.

Growing cannabis at that magnitude is unprecedented, said McLeish’s report. Companies will face regulatory and operational risks. “A whole new industry is being built from the ground up.”

McLeish is critical of Ontario’s decision to sell marijuana through the LCBO, saying that will not curtail the black market. There will be 40 to 60 stores to start, growing to 150 stores across the province by 2020, as well as online sales. That will leave the market underserved and ignores the importance of good customer service, said McLeish’s report. “Recreational consumers want to be buying from knowledgeable ‘budtenders,’ not LCBO employees that lack an understanding of the cannabis culture.”

And what will happen in July, when the government has promised recreational pot will be legal? “There are going to be lineups,” said McLeish in an interview. “There are going to be shortages.”
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by papapuff » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:32 am

Calgary Sun

Unions back government cannabis stores


The Alberta Federation of Labour is calling for the NDP government to set up a system of government-owned and operated cannabis stores in the province when recreational marijuana becomes legal next year.

With Alberta's policy framework for legal cannabis released earlier this month, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the province will only allow stand-alone stores to sell legal weed but it is still weighing whether to set up government-owned facilities or leave retail to the private sector.

Businesses looking to move into the recreational marijuana field in 2018 are opposed to a public system for cannabis sales, as are the province's three main opposition parties.

But AFL president Gil McGowan said government stores are the best option to create good jobs and bring the greatest financial return to provincial coffers.

"The government should keep the broader public interest in mind and, in determining that interest, they should look at things like public revenue and health and safety and job creation as opposed to just the narrow interests of investors and the potential owners of stores," he said in an interview.

The AFL, the umbrella group for organized labour in the province and an affiliate group with the NDP, is presenting a submission to the government under consultations that will run until Oct. 27.

As it considers its options, the government says a private retail system for cannabis likely would be more flexible in meeting consumer demand and would provide more economic opportunities for small business.

On the other hand, the province says government-owned stores would provide a greater level of oversight of marijuana being bought and sold and would likely generate more government revenue in the long run. A public system would require significant upfront costs for the cash-strapped government, however, potentially putting taxpayers dollars at risk.

Alberta has not had government-owned liquor stores since they were privatized under the Klein government in the 1990s. Proponents say the large network of private liquor stores in the province provides a model for marijuana retail once the Trudeau government follows through with legalization on July 1, 2018.

Peter Pilarski, president of the Canadian Cannabis Chamber, a legal marijuana industry group, argued this week that a government-owned system would also mean higher costs, in part due to unionized wages.

McGowan, however, says liquor privatization in Alberta is an argument for a public system for cannabis, saying that the Alberta government has given up substantial revenue over the last two decades. In 2012, the left-leaning Parkland Institute issued a report saying Alberta had forgone $1.5 billion since the early 1990s and the government had the lowest per-capita take from liquor of any province.

The labour leader also makes no bones about the fact that he is interested in seeing unionized government workers responsible for cannabis sales.

"I think it's clear that the jobs in Alberta's privatized liquor system are far inferior to the jobs that existed before privatization," said McGowan, who fully expects government workers in cannabis stores would be represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees or another public sector union.

"That would be a positive outcome both for the workers and the broader public, because people who are paid better, have better job security and have at least a few benefits are also going to become more robust workers and in turn support the economy."

The AUPE, the primary union for Alberta government workers, declined to comment.

Under the NDP's framework, stores that sell legal marijuana will not be allowed to also sell liquor, tobacco or pharmaceuticals. The legal age for consumption will be 18.
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