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New Canadian Prime Minister promises to legalise marijuana

by papapuff » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:50 am

Let the Nunavut gov't know how it should legalize marijuana

Community consultations could happen as early as this summer, says justice minister

By Jane Sponagle, CBC News Posted: Jun 01, 2017

Nunavut could hold broad community consultations on marijuana legalization legislation before September, according to the territory's justice minister.

The territory is facing a tight deadline to pass the law by July 1, 2018. That's when the federal government hopes to have marijuana legalized across the country.

"Go out and talk to groups, organizations, hamlets; get their input, concerns; hear what they have to say. Maybe get some good recommendations on how to proceed," Keith Peterson told the Legislative Assembly Wednesday.

Peterson told CBC News the group could also talk to Nunavut Tunngavik and the RCMP.

The consultations would be held by the interdepartmental working group. It's made up of staff from the departments of justice, health, family services, finance, as well as economic development and transportation.

The working group will look at logistical issues, like how marijuana will be sold, along with health and legal issues.

Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak wondered if the sale of marijuana would have similar regulations and restrictions as alcohol.

"Some communities in Nunavut have chosen through local option votes to prohibit the possession or sale of alcohol, while other communities have chosen to restrict the possession of this substance through alcohol education committees."

Peterson said it's complicated.

"Probably more complex in Nunavut given our geography and our distribution network," Peterson said, referring to the territory's two liquor warehouses in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet. That means Nunavut can't sell marijuana at a liquor store like what some jurisdictions are considering.

Tight deadline

The information gathered in the consultations would be used to prepare a plan to hit the July 1, 2018 deadline.

That plan will help the next government. The already tight timeline is made tighter by the October 30 territorial election.

The new government will only have two sittings before marijuana will be legal.

Peterson told CBC News the goal is to make the July deadline, but the next assembly might need a back-up plan.

"For example, could we take some existing legislation and tinker with that to have something in place just for the time being until we have the necessary legislation in place," he said.

Peterson says although there is not a lot of time, proper consultation still needs to happen.
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:53 am

Lethbridge Herald

Mayors press Trudeau Liberals for help to handle legalized marijuana


OTTAWA – The mayors of Canada’s biggest cities say they need a slice of the tax windfall from legal marijuana to cover what they describe as significant costs associated with enforcing a signature initiative from the federal Liberals.

They raised their concerns with cabinet ministers this week, pressing the case that some tax revenues from sale of the drug must filter down to cover costs associated with land-use issues, business licensing applications and enforcement once the purchase, sale and recreational use of the drug is no longer illegal.

The parliamentary budget officer estimated in a report last year that sales tax revenue to federal and provincial governments combined could be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million in the first year of legalization, depending on the price put on cannabis and usage.

“We’re not in a position to collect any (taxes),” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, chairman of the mayors’ group, said in an interview this week.

“One conversation that we think is important to have is support for local governments dealing with the costs of enforcement.”

It would be up to local police to enforce impaired driving laws, provisions about sales to minors and any necessary bylaws for dispensaries that open up in communities. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said cities are asking the federal government for more details as early as the fall about how the law will impact them.

“We also need some clarity around the law, so that we can be prepared to deal with dispensaries, many of whom think that they, as soon as this (bill) passes, can just open anywhere they want,” Savage said.

Several mayors say they feel the Trudeau Liberals are moving at breakneck speed, leaving them little time to prepare for the new regime. The Liberals hope to make marijuana legal by the summer of 2018.

“The one thing that, of course, concerns me is the timing of how quickly this is occurring, especially given that I certainly have concerns about likely increased costs to policing,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

“Depending on how it’s rolled out, depending on where the revenues are being collected and by whom could play a role in helping us address our concerns and what we expect are going to be increasing costs to policing.”

The government’s legalization bill, C-45, was being debated at second reading in the House of Commons on Friday, blocks away from where thousands of delegates were gathered for the annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Trudeau addressed the gathering in the morning after the official start of the annual meeting, focusing on what local leaders describe as an opioid epidemic in their communities.

Health officials and political leaders have been sounding the alarm about a dramatic spike in opioid deaths across Canada – the focus of a national summit in Ottawa last fall that pulled together experts from across the country.

In his speech, Trudeau said governments won’t rest until they turn the tide of the crisis, pointing to the government’s latest budget as evidence of the government’s interest in addressing the problem: The budget included $110 million over five years for a national drug strategy.

“The opioid epidemic has touched the lives of countless Canadians, in one way or another,” Trudeau said.

“We must come together to address this crisis and that’s why we’re working with our provincial, territorial and municipal partners to find lasting solutions.”
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:55 am

Medicine Hat News

Alberta seeks online ideas as it implements legalized marijuana use


CALGARY – Alberta is looking for feedback on weed.

An online survey is asking Albertans for ideas and suggestions on the best way to implement Ottawa’s plan for legal recreational use of marijuana.

Alberta is trying to determine the best way to oversee distribution and sale of cannabis while protecting children and the public.

The survey starts now and runs for two months.

The government will be doing in-person surveys at summer festivals and there will also be stakeholder meetings.

In April, the federal government introduced legislation proposing adults 18 and older be able to legally buy and cultivate small amounts of marijuana for personal use starting next June.

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says the issue is multifaceted and time is short.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us and important decisions to make,” Ganley told a news conference Friday.

“While there are many things to consider in the months ahead, our government’s focus throughout the process will remain on three key aspects: keeping profits away from criminals, keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, protecting our roads (and) workplaces, and public health.”
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:08 am

The Globe and Mail

Ottawa urged to withdraw from UN drug treaties ahead of pot legalization

OTTAWA — The Canadian Press
Published Friday, Jun. 02, 2017

Opposition parties and international legal experts are calling on Ottawa to say what it plans to do about three UN drug treaties that pose a conundrum for the Liberal government and its plans to legalize cannabis by the summer of 2018.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent says Canada’s international reputation is at stake, adding the government should pull out of the agreements rather than violate the letter of the treaties.

“The government has a position to legalize (cannabis) which contravenes the terms of those three treaties and so the government should be upfront and respect the signatories to the treaty and withdraw,” Kent said.

“We would condemn the government allowing Canada to go into violation of the treaties.”

Canada faced a similar decision when it decided to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, Kent said, noting the Conservative government pulled out in 2011 under the legal terms of the treaty. Kent was environment minister at the time.

“The bottom line is, we believe Canada ... should be principled with all of its dealings with the international organizations with which we have treaties and agreements,” he said.

Canada is currently one of more than 185 parties to three United Nations drug-control conventions — the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Steven Hoffman, director of a global strategy lab at the University of Ottawa centre for health law, policy and ethics, also believes Canada should withdraw from the treaties, saying it would send a strong message about progressive Canadian drug policies.

“Canada can’t pick and choose which treaties to follow without encouraging other countries to do the same,” Hoffman said in an interview.

“If we are deciding not to comply with our international legal obligations under the UN drug-control treaties, we are indirectly encouraging other countries to disregard international laws as well.”

It is in everyone’s best interest to have an international legal system that all can count on, he added.

“Canada can withdraw from these treaties, which themselves are old, out of date, and not reflective of current science and choose to actually even rejoin if it wants to with a reservation saying that we are OK with following the general concepts of these treaties except for their application to cannabis,” he said.

NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor said his party has been calling for the federal government to indicate its plans for the treaties because Canada must give notice before next month if it still intends to legalize cannabis by July 2018.

“We have to give some type of notice because we’re changing our laws and they will no longer be in accordance with the directives of the treaties,” he said.

Canada should not set a precedent of being in violation on treaties because it failed to give appropriate notice, he added.

“I just simply want to know, before July 1 of this year, do we have a plan?” MacGregor said. “Are we going to withdraw or are we going to let the treaties continue as they are? We need to have an answer.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland would not say when the federal government will announce how it plans to address the treaties and said Canada is compliant with its international obligations right now.

“We are currently examining a range of issues, including our international commitments,” said Alex Lawrence, Freeland’s director of communications.

Documents obtained early last year by The Canadian Press said all three treaties require the criminalization of possession and production of cannabis and that Canada needed to explore how to inform the international community of its plans to legalize marijuana and review steps to adjust obligations under these conventions.
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:24 pm

National Post

More than 15,000 people charged with pot possession since Trudeau elected in 2015

Maura Forrest | June 2, 2017

More than 15,000 people have been charged with possession of marijuana and more than 2,000 have been convicted since the Trudeau government was elected in October 2015 on a platform to legalize the drug.

The prosecutions have continued despite the Liberals’ commitment to make pot legal by July 2018, though it seems the numbers may have dropped since they took office.

“The fact remains that we still have people receiving criminal convictions for a substance that the government intends to legalize,” said NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor, who requested the figures tabled in the House of Commons this week. “(The Liberals) realize the effect a criminal record has on people’s lives.”

Between October 2015 and April 2017, nearly 7,000 people aged 25 and under were charged with marijuana possession, and 774 were convicted, according to numbers from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

More than 8,300 people older than 25 were charged, and 1,361 were convicted.

The total numbers are likely even higher, because in Quebec and New Brunswick the prosecution service only deals with offences being investigated by the RCMP, not other police agencies. It also doesn’t prosecute offences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act in all provinces.

The number of convictions could also increase significantly, as half of the prosecutions are still in progress.

The NDP has been urging the government to decriminalize marijuana as an interim measure until it’s legalized.

“I have always maintained that (prosecutions are) a sincerely unfair practice to continue on the road to legalization,” MacGregor said.

“I just feel that there could have been a different way to approach this.”

The Liberals tabled their pot legislation, Bill C-45, in April, and plan to legalize marijuana by July 2018. They are selling the law as a way to protect minors and to cut off profits to organized crime.

“Until Bill C-45 becomes law, the existing laws regarding cannabis remain in effect,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told the National Post in a statement. “The decisions to arrest and prosecute reside with the relevant police forces and with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.”

Still, it seems the number of possession charges may have declined since the Liberals were elected.

According to Statistics Canada, about 21,000 people were charged with cannabis possession in 2015, a drop of about 3,000 from the year before. Official figures for 2016 will be available in July.

In comparison, the prosecution service is reporting a total of 15,300 charges in the first 18 months since the 2015 election.

But that’s just because certain police detachments have become more lenient about enforcing marijuana laws, MacGregor said, including in his home riding on Vancouver Island.

In other places, he said, “the police are coming down still quite hard on marijuana possession charges,” which he finds unfair.

“The justice that is meted out to you depends on where you are in Canada.”

During a forum with VICE Canada in April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that the government might consider pardoning some Canadians with marijuana convictions after pot is legalized.

“We’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those folks who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal,” he said.

In that interview, he disclosed how his father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, used his “connections” to make marijuana charges disappear against younger brother Michel in 1998.

A recent poll by The Globe and Mail/Nanos Research shows that 62 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support pardoning those with criminal records for pot possession.

But the Liberals have been reluctant to say any more on the matter.

During debate of the new bill in the House of Commons on Thursday, Health Minister Jane Philpott said it would be “premature” to consider amnesty for people with previous convictions.

As for decriminalization, she said, it “would not in fact address our policy objectives here, which are to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and to keep the profits out of the hands of criminals.”

MacGregor said he plans to keep pushing the government for a clearer position on past convictions.

Legalizing pot was a major campaign promise from the Liberals. The bill is going through second reading, but is not expected to pass before the summer.
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:14 pm

Quebec to table marijuana bill in fall, following provincewide public hearings

Province's public health minister says federal legislation lacks specifics, such as guidelines for pot's sale

CBC News Posted: Jun 05, 2017

Quebec announced Monday it will table cannabis legislation in the fall, after holding extensive public consultations.

Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said the province will meet with national and international experts before carrying out public hearings across the province.

There will also be a consultation with Indigenous groups, in which Quebec Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley will take part.

Recreational cannabis is expected to be legalized across Canada as of July 1, 2018.

When the announcement was made in April, Charlebois said the federal government failed to provide detailed guidelines for its sale.

"We have to prepare ourselves to better face the issues that we consider to be priorities, notably those concerning health and security for all," Charlebois said in Monday's statement.

As far as how cannabis will be taxed in Quebec, Charlebois said "everything is on the table."

Safety 1st

In a recent survey, Quebecers were shown to be less receptive to the proposed legalization of cannabis than are people in the rest of Canada.

A CROP poll conducted on behalf of CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada, showed the biggest fear people have about legalization is the possible increase in road accidents.

Charlebois said road safety is one of the issues to be addressed in the consultations, in the hope of finding practical solutions.

Other issues include public security, as well as the distribution and sale of cannabis.

Consultations will begin at the end of August and run until mid-September. Quebecers can register to take part, starting June 21.

Quebecers who aren't able to attend in person will be able to have their say online.

Charlebois said these consultations are essential for the government to be able to make the "best decisions possible for all Quebecers."
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 05, 2017 4:33 pm

Toronto's public health chief wants pot possession decriminalized now

Dr. Eileen de Villa urges Ottawa to immediately decriminalize possession of recreational marijuana until legislation to legalize it comes into force in July 2018.

By BETSY POWELLCity Hall Bureau
Mon., June 5, 2017

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health wants Ottawa to immediately decriminalize possession of recreational pot until legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis comes into force in July 2018.

“Given that cannabis possession will soon be lawful in Canada, it is recommended that the Board of Health urge the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of non-medical cannabis for personal use,” says a new report by Dr. Eileen de Villa.

Her report on approaches “to protect health and minimize harms of use” notes how the criminalization of cannabis use and possession impacts the social determinants of health.

As well, people arrested and convicted of pot possession can face long-term consequences, including access to employment, housing, social stigmatization and economic status.

Unless the federal government acts, young Canadians will be disproportionately affected during this intervening period, the report states.

“Based on current rates, there will be approximately 59,000 charges and 22,000 convictions for simple possession before cannabis is legalized in Canada.”

The recommendation is one of about a dozen contained in the report that will be discussed at next Monday’s board of health meeting.

The other recommendations include asking the federal government to:

Set the minimum age of purchase for cannabis at 19 to align with the minimum age for legal purchase of alcohol in Ontario. Ottawa has set 18 as a minimum age for buying pot, but has given the provinces and territories the authority to increase the age but not lower it.

Require comprehensive “plain packaging” and labelling rules for all cannabis products, as are currently being proposed in the federal legislation.

Establish measures for cannabis law enforcement such as equity training, to ensure fair treatment of groups disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Strengthen regulations on marketing and promotion of cannabis with more comprehensive prohibitions that address advertising in movies, video games and other media accessible to youth.

The medical officer of health also believes the province should establish a provincially controlled agency for the retail sale and distribution of recreational pot, separate from the LCBO, and establish a social responsibility program.

She would also like Queen’s Park to prohibit smoking and vaping of cannabis in public places and prohibit pot use in motor vehicles.

Under the proposed legislation, the federal government will be responsible for the production of cannabis. The provincial and territorial governments are responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and enforcing systems to oversee the distribution and retail sale of cannabis, the report notes.

The provinces may develop legislation requiring additional conditions on matters such as use in public places, growing cannabis at home, minimum age of purchase, and drug-impaired driving, it says.
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:30 am

Roadside drug-testing devices worked well in pilot project: Public Safety

OTTAWA — The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Jun. 06, 2017

The federal government says new pilot-project results suggest roadside testing devices can be successfully used to detect drug-impaired driving.

Police officers from seven jurisdictions across Canada collected over 1,140 saliva samples using two kinds of devices between mid-December and early March.

Public Safety Canada says officers reported that the screening devices were easy to use in various weather, temperature and lighting conditions.

The test results are the latest development in the federal plan to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Under recently introduced legislation, police would be able to demand a saliva sample from a driver if they reasonably suspected the person had drugs in their body.

Should the saliva test lead police to believe an offence has been committed, they could order an examination by an evaluating officer or the taking of a blood sample.
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:57 am

Ottawa Sun

Will legalization lead to massive pot shortages? Experts say yes

Demand expected to be high


Inside a nondescript building in an industrial park in Carleton Place, construction crews are building growing rooms for cannabis plants.

RockGarden Medicinals is the third medical marijuana grower to pop up within an hour's drive of Parliament Hill. The mother-son team behind the business is hoping to be awarded a licence from Health Canada this summer.

It's part of a green rush of grow-ops as Canada moves to legalize recreational marijuana. The federal government's target date is July 1, 2018.

But don't plan a Canada Day 2018 shopping bonanza at your local pot shop yet. Canadians may be more likely to find empty shelves — in provinces where stores are even up and running — and shortages.

That's because there will not be enough marijuana produced to meet the demand, say a range of cannabis industry experts.

Canada's medical cannabis growers now supply about 170,000 patients, and many producers regularly sell out or run short of strains, says Aaron Salz. He was the first investment analyst on Bay Street to specialize in Canada's cannabis industry, and is now a consultant to some of the big growers.

The industry won't be able to expand quickly enough to immediately supply all the Canadians who might want to buy recreational marijuana, he says.

Between four million and six million Canadians will use cannabis recreationally next year, says Health Canada, drawing on estimates from both government and private sources.

In 13 months, when "the taps are turned on" for legal recreational pot, says Salz, "We are going to have a supply shortage. I'm highly confident of that.”

A shortage would compromise one of the government's major goals in legalization: stamping out the black market.

Health Canada recognizes the problem. In late May, the department announced it was streamlining the process and almost doubling the number of staff assigned to review applications for growing licences. The changes also make it easier for the 45 existing producers to expand. But while applications will be handled more quickly, the rigorous requirements for safe production and security still apply.

It typically takes anywhere from six months to three years to build a growing facility and bring it up to full production, experts say. Health Canada is giving priority to 137 applications that have passed the initial screening, and some already have facilities built. But the department says it's impossible to estimate how long each application will take to process or what the production capacity will be of new growers, which is "highly variable and difficult to forecast."

In the past, obtaining a growing licence typically took millions of dollars and several years. Health Canada has said it wants to open the market to smaller growers, though.

Cannabis consultant and investor Paul Rosen agrees there won't be enough time to ramp up the heavily regulated industry quickly enough. "I think we will be critically short." In the meantime, Canadians will continue to rely on traditional ways of obtaining pot — from their dealers, he says.

Many ancillary businesses, who supply everything from specialized lights to security systems for the industry, would also not be able to meet demand for their products if there was a massive expansion of legal grow-ops in one year, says John Prentice, president of Ample Organics. His company provides "seed to sale" software for the industry.

"It's actually a pretty desperate problem. As far as I'm concerned, we're going to be in pretty rough shape come July 1 (2018)."

Some existing producers are expanding, including the Tweed company in Smiths Falls. Construction crews are going full speed to more than double the production capacity at the old chocolate factory.

Legalization is a process, says Bruce Linton, the CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., which owns Tweed. "There won't be 14,000 (marijuana) stores on Day 1. For some period of time, expect there will be more people who will want to buy cannabis than can access cannabis."

Estimating both supply and demand is tricky.

Prentice suspects that federal surveys underestimate how many Canadians use marijuana, because of the stigma surrounding the drug.

"I don't know If I'd respond honestly if some guy asked me (in a survey) 'Hey, do you smoke weed?'"

On the other hand, demand may be tempered by consumers who aren't interested in buying dried weed and cannabis oil, the only two products that will be available at first. Industry insiders assume Canada will follow trends in the American states that have legalized pot, where edible products such as cannabis cookies and gummy bears, concentrates and cannabis creams are increasingly popular. All those products are sold at illegal dispensaries and online outlets in Canada.

It's also not known where marijuana will be sold, or how much it will cost. The provinces are in charge of distribution and supply, and none has made any decisions yet. A federal task force recommended stores with knowledgeable staff, but some in the industry doubt whether all provinces will adopt that idea, especially right away. The federal government can take over sales and distribution in any province that hasn't done so, probably by mail order.

If pot isn't sold at stores in all provinces, that could put a damper on demand, says Chuck Rifici, a pioneer in the Canadian cannabis industry who is CEO of Nesta Holding Co., a private equity firm focused on cannabis.

On the supply side, the numbers look insurmountable.

By the time pot is legal, Canadians will be consuming 655,000 kilograms of recreational cannabis a year, according to a report by the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Salz estimates that medical growers now collectively produce 80,000 kg a year. They have capital funding in place to expand that amount to about to about 400,000 kg to 500,000 kg.

But even under ideal expansion circumstances without "execution risk" — anything from delays in construction to trouble getting financing — it would take two to three years for producers to supply enough cannabis to meet demand, he says.

The same thing happened in the U.S. states that first legalized recreational pot. It took two to three years after legalization to increase the supply, say both Salz and Rosen.

Rosen says the Canadian government's "slow, steady" approach to legalization is the correct one. It's important to be thoughtful when creating a huge new industry and to strike a balance, he says.

If the government moves too quickly, it will lose track of the regulatory process, which some call the "gold standard" in the world. But if regulations are put into place too slowly, the government will lose market share to illegal pot sellers.

It may take several years to stamp out the black market in marijuana, but "we are going to win," says Rosen. "The white market is going to overtake the black market. It just won't be on July 1, 2018."
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:00 am

June 6, 2017

Uruguay sets path for Canada on marijuana legalization within international treaties

By Andy Blatchford The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Uruguay‘s envoy to Ottawa says his small South American country has opened up some breathing room for marijuana legalization within international treaties that have outlawed recreational pot for decades.

Ambassador Martin Vidal credits his country, the first to legalize recreational cannabis at a national level, as something of a trailblazer for countries like Canada that are planning to embark on the same path.

The Trudeau government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.

Canada and Uruguay must comply with three United Nations drug-control treaties, to which each is a party. The conventions criminalize the possession and production of non-medical cannabis.

The ambassador said Uruguay, which first passed its marijuana legislation in 2013, has spent several years persuading partners that legalization places a strong emphasis on public health and human rights.

Vidal says the challenging task has forced Uruguay to put its international credibility on the line – but he insists there have been small signs of movement.

“We see not that the tide is turning, but the international community’s allowing this issue to be part of the discussion,” Vidal said at Uruguay’s embassy in Ottawa.

“Considering the Canadian process is a few years behind (Uruguay’s), they will probably come to this discussion with some very difficult first discussions already passed.”

While Vidal acknowledged the progress so far has only been “very minor,” he’s encouraged because it can take many decades for rules of this nature to budge.

Progress, he added, has come in the form of more countries showing a willingness to discuss the issue. The wording of declarations from international forums has also shown increasing openness, he said.

Vidal said Uruguay’s goal has not been to change the minds of other countries about cannabis, but to get them to accept that there are other ways to approach drug control.

Along the way, Vidal said Uruguay hasn’t tried to impose any law changes and has only called on member states to allow for more room to manoeuvre within the current legislation.

“Some other countries have joined us in this discussion and others in the future – maybe Canada will be one of them – will find that it’s not that the path is already clear, but we have facilitated a lot because we worked very hard in the last years to introduce this perspective,” said Vidal, whose country is home to about 3.4 million people – about one-tenth Canada’s population.

Ottawa has also emphasized the importance of legalization for public-health reasons. The government’s primary goals are keeping pot out of the hands of youth and marijuana profits out of the black market.

But before Canada can develop a regulated, recreational marijuana market many issues still need to be addressed – from distribution, to taxation, to public awareness, to policing.

The to-do list also includes navigating international treaties.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said when it comes to legalized pot the feds are examining Canada’s international commitments.

“We are committed to working with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking,” Alex Lawrence wrote in an email.

“Canada remains fully compliant with its obligations under the international drug treaties at this time.”

Political rivals and legal experts have urged the Liberal government to explain its plans for three United Nations drug-control conventions. Some have warned that Canada’s international reputation is at stake and have called on Ottawa to withdraw from the treaties rather than breach them.

Canada and Uruguay are currently party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

A briefing note prepared for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and obtained early last year by The Canadian Press said Canada would have to find a way to essentially tell the world how it plans to conform to its treaty obligations.

Canada has also received direct input from Uruguay, which has shared its legalization experience with Ottawa. The countries’ co-operation on pot will continue with an upcoming video conference between officials to discuss Canada’s legislation, Vidal said.

“There are lessons to be learned.”
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by papapuff » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:09 pm

Pot legislation does not fail Canada’s youth. A criminal record does

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Jun. 10, 2017

Jenna Valleriani is a strategic adviser for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Rebecca Haines-Saah is an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.

On May 29, the Canadian Medical Association Journal released an editorial criticizing the government’s approach to the protection of youth in the proposed Cannabis Act. The legislation, which was introduced in April, will create a legal regulated market for adult access to non-medical cannabis in Canada. The editorial took issue with the Act’s mandated minimum age of at least 18. It argued that the minimum age should be raised to 21 and use restricted until age 25, concluding with: “If Parliament truly cares about the public health and safety of Canadians, especially our youth, this bill will not pass.”

This is part of an ongoing narrative which misrepresents what it means to take a “public health approach” to drug regulation. While not neglecting individual and population-level health protection measures, fundamental to a public health approach is an emphasis on the costs of having a criminal record for cannabis possession for young Canadians, especially when criminal charges are unequally distributed amongst black and Indigenous youth, and youth who have socioeconomic disadvantages.

As outlined by the Federal Task Force, the rationale for legalization is not solely about individual-level health outcomes as potential “harms,” but also the social and legal harms associated with criminalization and prohibition. Rather than point the hypothetical finger to the “tragedies” of “lives derailed” and continuing to anchor the idea of risk solely within the individual, the author neglects the social complexities – and multiple risk factors – of how problematic use of any substance develops for youth. As we currently find ourselves in the middle of an overdose epidemic in Canada where young people are dying in unprecedented numbers, we need to critically assess our approach, face uncomfortable truths, and ask who we are actually protecting with the prohibition of drugs.

We shouldn’t ignore that Canadian young people currently have the highest prevalence of use compared to other countries under our current model of drug control which, in theory, is meant to completely restrict youth access. In reality, it creates a robust and unregulated market with easy access for all ages. While it’s easy to declare that young people simply shouldn’t use cannabis, it is well documented that this isn’t a realistic or successful approach to drug prevention. The logic is flawed when our answers point only to restrictions and abstinence, and leaves out evidence-based drug education that includes equipping adolescents with strategies to avoid harmful use, beyond a focus on abstinence-only.

A critical misrepresentation in such medicalized arguments to prevent potential “harms to the developing brain” is that the evidence has yet to conclusively establish cannabis as the sole cause of structural changes to the brain associated with diminished cognitive outcomes for youth. In most studies, the effects of cannabis use are almost always comorbid with alcohol and other drug use, and often related to differences in socioeconomic status – which have potential impacts on brain development in and of themselves. Firm conclusions that cannabis by itself is explicitly damaging to the developing brain are difficult to assess. A similar lack of evidence exists to suggest cannabis is a primary cause in the development of schizophrenia. Rather, cannabis may be one of several risk factors, or these outcomes could be a reflection of pre-existing differences which lead some young people to more substance use and risk-taking behaviours. What is continually overlooked is that the majority of young people who use cannabis do not experience these severe, negative effects.

It is frustrating to observe that in discussions about youth and cannabis use, the professional bodies that speak for the medical community in Canada have continually neglected an issue that is at the very crux of the need for drug policy reform: setting regulations which give equal weight to the “real life” harms and lifelong societal costs of criminalization. It should not be forgotten that the actual targets of this discussion are young adults (i.e. not children), who fall between the ages of 18-25 – adults by every marker of society. Setting high age limits on access and telling young people to “just say no” will not accomplish either goal of deterring youth use or reducing harms as this is simply doing more of the same that created our current situation. By now it should be abundantly clear that we do not share the pessimism – or the fears – expressed by the CMAJ editorial. Rather, we believe that legal regulation of cannabis provides a context for having new and different conversations with the young people we care about, using approaches that respect the agency of young adults to make informed decisions.
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by papapuff » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:34 am

'It's extreme': Proposed legislation says pot producers can't sponsor events, as some do now

Tobacco industry also used to sponsor festivals before regulations changed

By Haydn Watters, CBC News Posted: Jun 11, 2017

A few Canadian festivals are making money through sponsorships with licensed pot producers. But this could be the last summer you see them at fests as proposed legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use would also ban producers from sponsoring events.

It's a scenario that's played out before with tobacco. The federal government cracked down on advertising and sponsorships through the late '90s and early 2000s

Cigarette maker Du Maurier used to be the marquee sponsor for the big jazz festivals in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax before ad regulations were put in place and they were banned from sponsoring. That meant lost money for festivals.

Health Canada confirms it hope to establish the same sponsorship restrictions that are on tobacco now.

"Under the proposed act, everyone, including licensed cannabis producers, would be prohibited from promoting cannabis or cannabis accessories through the sponsorship of festivals or other events," said Eric Morrissette, a spokesperson for Health Canada. The government hopes to clear the parliamentary and procedural hurdles to make pot legal by July 1, 2018.

And though marijuana producers may not be shelling out the millions of dollars the tobacco industry once did, it's still a loss for events which rely on sponsor money.

"I think it's extreme," said Olivia Diamond, Pop Montreal's director of brand partnerships. In 2016, the music festival was sponsored by both Tweed and MedReleaf, two medicinal marijuana producers hoping to raise awareness about the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

"I just think it's a total loss for the customer," she said of the proposed ban. "It's something that people want to know more about."

Pot producers eager to follow rules

Diamond eschews the tobacco comparison.

"We're not looking at something like cigarettes. This is something with a real medicinal use," she said, pointing to other medical advertising. "When I go to a Montreal Canadiens game, I can see a Viagra billboard."

The fest plans on following whatever rules are put in place, but hopes legislation is reconsidered so events can continue working with licensed producers.

One of those producers, Canopy Growth (which owns the Tweed brand), has sponsored other events like the Rideau Paddlefest, the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Big Bike ride and charity events. The company also runs its own music festival in August on its front lawn in Smiths Falls, Ont.

"It's the least of our concern," Canopy Growth's Jordan Sinclair said of the proposed sponsorship ban in an email. "We're talking about the birth of an exciting industry, so we're not spending much time focusing on the things we won't be able to do."

Sinclair figures the company hands out about $50,000 a year — a modest amount but greatly appreciated by the festivals and events. He said Canopy Growth is willing to cut off sponsorships if they become banned as the company has "no intention of breaking any of the rules."

'We aren't the Snoop Doggs of the world'

CannTrust, another licensed marijuana producer, has sponsored Toronto's Pride celebrations and attended as an exhibitor to raise awareness and educate attendees on Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. But the company has avoided partnering with others.

"We aren't the Snoop Doggs of the world," jokes Robyn Rabinovich, CannTrust's marketing manager. "Our focus isn't really advertising to the patient, it's clearing the fog ... we don't have that huge salesman going out."

In 2016, Tweed partnered with rapper and cannabis aficionado Snoop Dogg to sell Leafs by Snoop-branded marijuana in Canada.

Rabinovich said there have been crackdowns on what they are allowed to do or say — for example, she said they aren't allowed to use testimonials from customers who use their products.

"It's frustrating seeing those that are operating outside of those standards," she said, pointing out dispensaries that are breaking the rules.

"We're just happy to work within the regulations."

With files from Solomon Israel
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:46 pm

After pot is legal: Doctors urge province not to forget marijuana can do harm

New Brunswick Medical Society makes 14 recommendations to government for making legal marijuana less risky

By Elizabeth Fraser, CBC News Posted: Jun 12, 2017

New Brunswick doctors say only a Crown corporation with strict monopoly control should be allowed to sell recreational marijuana in the province.

Whether NB Liquor or some other corporation takes charge of sales, the retail marijuana business should not be subject to profit targets or take place alongside the sale of alcohol or tobacco, the New Brunswick Medical Society says.

"We have to remember there are great potential harms that come from marijuana use," Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said Monday.

The professional association accepts that marijuana will be legalized, but it has made recommendations to the government that suggest the New Brunswick government take a breath as it contemplates the impact on the province.

The federal Liberals are expected to introduce legislation soon that will make marijuana legal by July 2018.

Provinces will be responsible for some regulatory areas, such as how the drug can be advertised and who can sell it.

Calling marijuana "an inherently harmful substance," the medical society made 14 recommendations to government for regulating the sale of the drug when it becomes legal. The goal is to minimize harm, particularly to young adults, the group said.

​The recommendations cover everything from law enforcement to distribution and retailing concerns.

One recommendation says the group believes marijuana shouldn't be sold to anyone under 25 but knows it may be necessary to adopt 21 as a minimum age to discourage illicit purchases.

"It's harmful to the developing brain whether that's in fetuses or in young adults," Murphy-Kaulbeck said.

As with tobacco and alochol, she said, it's important to educate young people about marijuana.

"As a parent you go forward and try to teach your kids that even though something's legal, legal doesn't equate [with] safety," she said.

The medical society recommends marijuana and tobacco be sold in plain packaging.

Public health an issue

"Tobacco's is a very harmful substance," she said. "If we're going to move forward with marijuana at 21, tobacco, in my mind, would follow right behind."

Murphy-Kaulbeck said the province is looking for the potential for profit from legalized marijuana, but she expressed optimism that provincial leaders will consider the medical society's recommendations.

"I do believe they're looking for guidance ... they care about the public health as well," she said.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:12 am

Local Xpress

June 13,2013

Police chief: Marijuana legalization expected to hit Cape Breton police budget

How much it will cost depends on a wide range of factors, including regulation details and the number of users after legislation kicks in next year, Chief Peter McIsaac said Tuesday.

by: Tom Ayers

SYDNEY — The national legalization of cannabis will cost the Cape Breton Regional Police Service more money for equipment, training and enforcement, but officials aren’t yet sure how much more.

Chief Peter McIsaac told the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s board of police commissioners Tuesday that federal legislation on recreational pot use is expected to kick in July 1, 2018, but the details on growing, retailing and enforcing regulations are still being worked out.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in relation to this ... but it’s going to impact on the provinces and it’s going to impact on the municipalities and our communities here,” he said.

“I just wanted to put this on your radar, because it’s going to impact us in so many ways.”

McIsaac later told reporters that many of the issues were raised at a symposium in May held by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre.

“When it becomes legalized, this stuff is going to be cultivated somewhere, it’s going to be cultivated within your communities, it’s going to be regulated, it’s going to be inspected, it’s going to be consumed, so the municipalities are going to be the ones that are dealing with it on a day-to-day level,” he said.

“Although the federal government is legislating it, they’re going to regulate it back to the provinces. Now how the provinces are going to do that going forward, whether they’re going to regulate it like alcohol and tobacco and control it, I suspect that’s going to happen, but nobody knows.

“But the bottom line is this stuff is going to be within the municipalities ... and it’s going to impact the resources, human resources, and physical things like zoning and where you can put it.”

The Cape Breton police service already has four officers trained in drug impairment recognition, which McIsaac said cost a lot of money, because the only training available is in Phoenix, Ariz.

However, he said, the service could need up to a dozen officers specially trained to recognize and test for drug impairment, and the RCMP are testing roadside screening devices that police will also need to buy.

The devices can detect the presence of drugs, including the active ingredient in marijuana, but they don’t measure impairment, said McIsaac. That means officers will need to do further, time-consuming investigation and conduct blood samples before charges can be laid.

“I can tell you it’s very expensive,” he told police commissioners. “Right now, the federal government only pays for a portion of the cost ... and I can tell you that at the national level, we’re asking for funding and for this federal government to provide that, because it’s going to become an issue of public safety concern.

“I can tell you, as chief of police in this jurisdiction here, it concerns me in other areas, too, because when uptake happens ... I’m going to have more people tied up that are not on the streets, doing evaluation tests, to the point where we may be coming back to this council asking for an increase in officer funds.”

How much more money will be needed is an open question, for now, McIsaac said, because no one knows if more people will be consuming cannabis products or whether police will see a spike in impaired driving incidents.

“We’re not sure what the uptake is going to be. Just speaking from a rational point of view, you suspect that we’re going to have more incidents and, for me, I think four (drug-recognition trained) officers is not going to be enough to deal with this.”

It’s possible that sales and licensing of cannabis products and marijuana may result in revenue for municipalities, said McIsaac, but that’s not certain yet, either.

Studies have shown cannabis is harmful to young people, especially ages 12 to 25, he said, but the federal legislation will come with strict regulations that will take that into account.

Currently, children have easier access to marijuana than they do to cigarettes, said McIsaac.

“This is going to be legalized right across the country and I see that as a positive point right now, because Canada leads the world in relation to young people consuming cannabis,” he said.

“The new legislation will have some very strict regulations ... so I view that as a good thing, because although you’ll always have criminal organizations that offset legal supply, when you legalize it, it’s less apt to be falling into the hands of young people.”

Despite impending legalization, McIsaac also said police will continue to enforce drug laws that include marijuana and cannabis products.

“The laws are on the books right now and we don’t have any other option. If someone is in possession of marijuana, or a certain amount of over 30 grams for trafficking ... yeah, it’s business as usual.

“Until those laws are amended, we’re required to follow the legal framework that’s defined by the Criminal Code of Canada.”
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:14 am

CTV News

Couche-Tard hires lobbyist in bid to sell cannabis

CTV Montreal
Published Tuesday, June 13, 2017 11:27AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 13, 2017 1:02PM EDT

Alimentation Couche-Tard is interested in selling cannabis in its stores and has hired a lobbyist to secure its consideration in Quebec’s distribution model.

The depanneur chain has hired TACT Intelligence-conseil to help lobby to sell marijuana products.

Former health minister Yves Bolduc’s chief of staff Marie-Ève ​​Bédard has been hired for a year to push for the plan.
She will earn less than $10,000 for her work.

The goal to get weed into deps comes in conjunction with federal Bill C-45, which aims to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018. Though it is federal legislation, it is up to the provinces to determine how it will be distributed.

Couche-Tard says it wants a responsible selling model and hopes to be included in the distribution model.

Couche-Tard operates a network of more than 2,000 stores in Canada, from the Maritimes to Western Canada.
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