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New Canadian Prime Minister promises to legalise marijuana

by papapuff » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:19 pm

cbc.ca



Nova Scotians will have their say on regulating pot, finance minister pledges

Public consultations likely to begin by late summer or early fall, says Karen Casey

By Jean Laroche, CBC News Posted: Jun 20, 2017

It's time for Nova Scotians to have their say on how the province should handle the legal marijuana trade, says Karen Casey, the province's new minister of finance.

Ottawa has said pot will be legal by July 2018 and has told the provinces to be ready to roll out rules to regulate sales by then.

Casey was in Ottawa earlier this week to meet with Canada's other finance ministers to share ideas and talk about how prepared each province is to handle marijuana sales, distribution and taxes.

The former education minister admitted she didn't know much about the subject before her new cabinet appointment last week.

"Very little," she said in response to being asked how much she knew about marijuana legalization.

"I'm glad I was available to go. You learn a lot by talking and listening and I did more listening than talking but I did learn a lot."

Consulting the public

The issue has been kicked around inside government for months — most notably by officials in the departments of finance, health and justice — but Casey said that discussion should move outside the bureaucracy to include the public.

"That is really the priority for the three ministers right now — to look at how we do that consultation, when we do it and what questions we ask, what information we want to hear from the public."

Casey wasn't sure if Nova Scotia would hold public meetings or follow the example of neighbouring Newfoundland and Labrador by offering an online survey.

"We have to determine if that's the best way for us."

Casey is hoping the consultation can start as early as late summer or early fall.

As for how much weight what Nova Scotians say will carry with this government, Casey's only commitment was to "respect what Nova Scotians say."
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by papapuff » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:22 pm

thestar.com



Wynne says Ottawa providing 'clarity' on weed

Things are a little less hazy now. The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

By ROBERT BENZIEQueen's Park Bureau Chief
Tues., June 20, 2017

Things are a little less hazy now.

The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

But in the wake of the federal-provincial finance ministers’ meeting on weed, Premier Kathleen Wynne says it is still too early to say how and where it will be sold here in the province once it is legal on July 1, 2018.

“We’re looking at different options. Nothing has been finalized,” Wynne said Tuesday.

The provincial secretariat made up of officials from 12 departments is studying a myriad of issues, including where recreational marijuana should be sold.

Wynne has always maintained that Queen’s Park will have some role in the distribution and regulation of cannabis, though she has moved away from previous musings about it being available at LCBO stores.

However, the illegal cash-only “dispensaries” that still exist on many Toronto streets will almost certainly be prohibited once the province determines its retail model.

“You will know that the work that’s being done on our government is focused on protection of people,” the premier told reporters at Amazon Canada’s headquarters on Bremner St.

“Protection of young people, protection of the vulnerable, and answering questions about safety — like road safety — and so we’ll continue to do that work,” she said.

On Monday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau emphasized to his provincial counterparts that the July 1, 2018 deadline was firm — a move welcomed by Wynne.

“We have more clarity now from the federal government on what they will be doing as of July 1, 2018 and we needed to know that, we needed to understand that. We’re working with them to work within that timeframe.”

Wynne noted cannabis will be high on the agenda for discussion at next month’s annual Council of the Federation meeting in Edmonton.

“We won’t have a final (retail) model, but certainly I expect that the conversation around the table will be about the work that we’re doing and what we are thinking and I will certainly be willing to share the thoughts that we’re having,” she said.

Morneau said Monday that tax rates on cannabis should be kept low to avoid encouraging weed users from buying black market products.

“What’s the taxation level that actually has that impact? We didn’t get to a conclusion on rates today. What we did talk about was the fact that revenues shouldn’t be our driving goal,” he said.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa pointed out that any tax bonanza would have to pay the costs of the new reality of legal weed, including road safety, public health, and education programs.

“We have yet to flesh that out, but it’s certainly something we want to make certain is accommodated as we proceed,” Sousa told the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.

Last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s task force on cannabis urged that any taxes are “high enough to limit the growth of consumption, but low enough to compete effectively with the illicit market.”
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:26 am

ottawacitizen.com



Experts offer advice for mitigating health risks of legalized marijuana

THE CANADIAN PRESS 06.23.2017

OTTAWA — Public health and medical experts are endorsing 10 new recommendations to help mitigate the health risks of using marijuana once it becomes legal in Canada.

The guidelines, published in the American Journal of Public Health, recommend — among other things — avoiding cannabis if pregnant or at risk of mental health problems, as well as delaying its use until later in life.

The project was conducted by the Ontario arm of the Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse — a national initiative funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Health Minister Jane Philpott says she welcomes the guidelines, saying her department considers them important to help cannabis users reduce health and safety risks.

In April, the federal introduced legislation designed to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.

Philpott says the government intends to bring the law into force no later than July 2018.
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:47 am

CTV News


New marijuana guidelines stress abstinence

VIDEO

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, June 23, 2017 9:30AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 23, 2017 1:04PM EDT

As Canada prepares to legalize marijuana next July, a panel of medical and mental health experts has released a set of guidelines to offer guidance to Canadians on how the use the drug safely.

Several health groups, including the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Public Health Association, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), unveiled Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines Friday, saying the recommendations represent “science-based” ways to reduce the health risks of the drug.

Among the recommendations:

ABSTINENCE

First among the guidelines is to not use cannabis at all.

“The most effective way to avoid any risks of cannabis use is to abstain from use,” the guidelines state.

AVOID IN TEEN YEARS

For those who do choose to use the drug, the guidelines advise they wait until they are older, since use of the drug before age 16 increases the risks for mental health, education or other related substance use problems.

MINIMIZE THE SMOKE

The recommendations also advise avoiding smoking the drug. Edible cannabis products eliminate lung problems, they note, but because the psychoactive effect can take longer to kick in, edibles may result in larger-than-intended doses.

For those who do smoke the drug, they are advised to avoid deep inhalation of the smoke, or breath-holding. Finally, the guidelines recommend avoiding synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2 and Spice.

AVOIDING DAILY OR FREQUENT USE

Frequent or intensive use increase the likelihood of several health problems, including brain development or functioning changes; mental health problems; and dependence, the guidlines state.

AVOIDING IMPAIRED DRIVING

“Cannabis impairs cognition, attention, reaction and psychomotor control — all of which are critical skills for driving,” the guidelines note, adding that the effects can persist for up to six hours.

SPECIAL RISKS

The guidelines recommend avoiding the drug during pregnancy or if there is a family history of psychosis or substance abuse.

The rate of cannabis use in Canada is among the highest in the world. More than 10 per cent of adults and 25 per cent of adolescents report having used marijuana over the past year. The paper also notes that approximately one-in-five people seeking substance use treatment have cannabis-related problems.

Dr. Benedikt Fischer, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and one of the authors of the recommendations, said it’s imperative to apply science to improve public health to prepare for the legalization of marijuana.

“It will not make cannabis use safe… but actually safer. And that’s a small but important distinction,” he told CTV News Channel Friday.

The recommendations focus on what is within the realm of choice and control of the user to make so that they are less likely to risk their own health or the public’s, said Fischer. He hopes governments, health and addictions organizations take the recommendations and promote them to the public, especially key and vulnerable groups such as young people.

Dr. Laurent Marcoux, President-Elect of the Canadian Medical Association, says because marijuana use carries “real health risks,” and mitigating those risks – particularly among young Canadians – must be a priority.

“The CMA continues to recommend a broad public health policy approach focused on preventing problematic drug use; ensuring the availability of assessment and treatment services for those who wish to stop using; and harm reduction to increase the safety for those who are using.”

The recommendations are published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:50 am

Business Day



Marijuana shortage could leave Canadians high and dry

23 JUNE 2017 - 12:07 JOSH WINGROVE AND JEN SKERRITT

Ottawa/Winnipeg — The biggest challenge for Justin Trudeau’s forthcoming legal recreational marijuana market is a shortage of the weed, the finance minister of Canada’s most-populous province says.

Ontario’s Charles Sousa said a supply crunch was discussed during a meeting with provincial and federal counterparts this week. Canada is aiming to legalise recreational marijuana in the next 12 months, the first major economy to do so. One analyst said he’s concerned the government could use a supply shortage as an excuse to delay rolling out the programme.

"Ultimately the biggest problem that appears after today’s discussion is one of supply," Sousa said in an interview this week. Finance ministers were told that demand is "quite high" for marijuana already in Canada, he said. "So we want to make certain that, when we do proceed, there is sufficient supply to accommodate the activity because what we’re trying to do is curb the illicit use and organised crime that now exists around it."

Trudeau’s framework for legalisation, unveiled in April, will rely on Canada’s provinces to set up sale and distribution regimes, while at minimum selling recreational marijuana by post beginning some time before July 2018. Key details, including taxation, remain up in the air.

Federal finance minister Bill Morneau has said he favoured a tax rate that would starve out the black market, one of the government’s key objectives. "That as a conclusion would lead us to say taxation rates have to be low," Morneau told reporters after the June 19 meeting, where he said they discussed the need for a "co-ordinated" approach.

Initial shortage

Canada’s burgeoning marijuana industry has ballooned in value amid optimism over Trudeau’s plan for recreational sales, which Canaccord Genuity Group said in November could reach C$6bn (about R59bn) annually by 2021. Combined demand for recreational and medical marijuana may reach 575,000kg by 2021, according to the report.

The government says a key aim is to shrink or altogether kill the black market, and any shortage of legal weed would hinder that effort. Trudeau’s plans also allow people to grow up to four plants in a home.

Companies are still in the midst of trying to build and expand their facilities and everything would have to go "perfectly" in order to have enough supply, PI Financial analyst Jason Zandberg said. Initial sales will probably be online and by mail as it would not be possible for the market to stock enough inventory in government dispensaries across the country.

Expanding patient lists are creating a shortage in Canada’s medical marijuana market as some producers stop taking new clients or sell out of certain strains, Zandberg said.

"There will be a shortage initially," the analyst said by telephone. "My concerns are that if that is used as an excuse to push the date of recreational legalisation back, there’s a danger that it slips into the next election cycle and doesn’t actually happen."

Canada had 167,754 registered medicinal marijuana users as of March 31, triple the amount from a year earlier. Supply shortages are already a problem for Canada’s existing legalised medicinal market, said Greg Engel, CEO of producer Organigram Holdings.

Companies "are building out additional capacity very actively and aggressively" for both the medicinal and recreational markets, Engel said. Organigram’s capacity is 6,000kg annually and will reach 26,000kg annually by the end of 2018, he said, though companies still did not know exactly what they could sell. "We do need clarity very soon from the federal government."

Production cycle

In May, Health Canada pledged to speed up its approval process for applicants seeking a licence to grow marijuana. The agency has been more responsive but it still takes up to a year for a new producer to ramp up production and get product to market, said Cam Mingay, a senior partner at Cassels Brock who follows the industry.

"I don’t know what anyone can do about it — you can’t force the plants to grow faster," he said when asked about a shortage. Approving more companies wouldn’t be a silver bullet. "You could approve 50 more tomorrow, and realistically they could probably be in production by the end of 2018 in any meaningful capacity."

While the government has issued a number of new licences, it may still take 12 months or more for new companies to start ramping up production, said Beacon Securities analyst Vahan Ajamian. The available supply has not kept pace with the growth in medical marijuana patients and it’s unclear what type of products will be available on the legal market in 2018 and the level of taxation, he said.

Rushed timeline

"On July 1, are millions of people going to go online and start buying legally or will there be a slow transition over the next five years from the black market to the legal regulated market?" Ajamian said.

Manitoba finance minister Cameron Friesen has expressed concern about the timeline, saying it is too rushed to implement a legal market for recreational marijuana by July 2018. Sousa said his government had no problem with the implementation date — which sets up the marijuana regime to kick in sometime around an election in 2018 in the province. Ontario is eyeing a number of options for setting up retail sales, Sousa said, though he acknowledged other provinces were at different stages.

"What we want is to basically be sure that all of Canada is able to implement and distribute at the same time," he said. "I think some provinces are still trying to come to grips with how to get it done."

With Erik Hertzberg

Bloomberg
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by papapuff » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:57 am

CBC.ca



'Cannabis lounges' included as part of proposed Edmonton bylaw change

City looking at 'proactive' steps prior to July 2018 legalization of marijuana

By Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC News Posted: Jun 23, 2017

The city of Edmonton is looking at a zoning bylaw change that could pave the way for the establishment of cannabis lounges if they are allowed after marijuana is legalized in July 2018.

In a report for city council, administration said these proposed amendments are a proactive step in getting ready for next year.

"This new classification is intended to differentiate this use from other eating and drinking uses already defined in Zoning Bylaw 12800 (for example, bar and neighbourhood pubs)," city administration said in a report for next week's public hearing.

"Other jurisdictions, such as Denver, have found it necessary to provide places for tourists to consume cannabis — cannabis lounges would provide a land use classification to accommodate this activity."

If passed, the bylaw change won't mean cannabis lounges will necessarily be established.

The province is responsible for setting rules on where and how cannabis is sold and where it can be consumed.

The Alberta government is consulting the public this summer through surveys and roundtable discussions. with a view to releasing a draft cannabis framework this fall.

More work will have to be done on issues like zoning, development permits and separation distances, the report added.

Alberta will be ready

The bylaw amendments also include a new use called "cannabis retail sales" to the bylaw. The report says this will it make it clear that these products won't be sold in convenience and general retail stores.

"These amendments will also ensure that future regulations for these uses can be applied from the outset, rather than creating the potential for legal non-conforming uses to result after federal legalization occurs," the report said.

The report noted the city has received 25 inquiries from people wanting to set up cannabis dispensaries.

The city doesn't intend to get involved with people who grow marijuana at home as that is covered by the proposed federal legislation. But city administration plans to keep an eye on it just in case.

City council is holding a public hearing on the proposed bylaw changes June 28.
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by papapuff » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:19 pm

Hamilton Spectator



Take cautious approach with pot revolution

OPINION

Jun 25, 2017

Everyone is making a big fuss about July 1 this year, the country's 150th birthday.

But next year's anniversary will have a far greater impact on the nation than this year's bash. That's the day the Trudeau government's landmark policy to legalize weed comes into effect.

July 1, 2018, will mark a sea change after almost 100 years of prohibition as Canada becomes the first G7 country to legalize and regulate the production, sale and use of recreational marijuana.

The change will affect most Canadians, even those who've never dreamed of lighting up a joint: parents, educators, people with medical conditions or mental health troubles, anyone who could potentially face the increased threat of those driving under the influence of marijuana.

Despite its significance, many details around this landmark policy change remain as hazy as a smoke-filled room.

Some provinces, such as Manitoba, have expressed deep dismay at the tight timelines Ottawa has set. The feds, however, have been clear the deadline for legalization is firm.

That insistence is unwise.

All parties agree creating a new regime governing legalized marijuana is an enormously complex task.

Issues to be addressed cover a broad range, from the clear evidence of harm to young brains, to the logistics of enforcement.

For example, some police forces are now testing portable screening devices to catch those who drive while impaired from pot. But each of the country's 180 police forces has just over a year to acquire the devices, train officers and establish protocols for their use.

Science provides clear evidence that the brains of young people continue to develop into their 20s and that young people who smoke marijuana are more prone to permanent and severe problems with mental ability and mental health. But details on how governments will inform kids of those dangers is still lacking.

The marijuana tax regime remains murky, too. Ottawa wants to keep cannabis taxes low, so people don't turn to illegal suppliers. Ottawa argues provincial policing and court costs could go down with legalization.

But provinces have made it clear they feel they should have most of the revenue, as they expect to shoulder many costs, from dependence treatment to policing of impaired drivers and sales to minors, to regulating sales outlets.

Municipalities have also chimed in, saying they will face new costs in land-use regulation, business licensing and policing.

There are worries about supply.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated 655 tonnes of marijuana could be sold in the first year after legalization. Licensed users of medical marijuana complain the current system is often out of stock.

Health Canada will have to work overtime to ensure there are enough legal producers to meet consumer demand or else criminals will fill the void.

Given the array of complex issues, Ottawa's first priority should be to ensure it comes up with the best possible regulatory regime.

Achieving that aims is far more important than meeting an artificial deadline.

John Roe
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:12 am

cbc.ca




Pot insider says dispensaries are 'dreaming' if they think they'll be part of legalization framework

Former provincial chief of staff makes predictions on the legal recreational marijuana industry

CBC News Posted: Jun 26, 2017

Omar Khan sat down with Matt Galloway on Metro Morning to discuss big questions that have yet to be answered in the federal government's push to develop a legal framework for recreational marijuana sales by July 2018.

Khan is former chief of staff to the Ontario health minister and he now works with the marijuana industry as vice president, public affairs of Hill + Knowlton strategies.

Questions and answers have been condensed.

Matt Galloway: How prepared is this country for legal weed?

Omar Khan: I think right now you have a patchwork of readiness. You have provinces like Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick who are fairly well advanced in terms of their thinking. And you have others, like Manitoba and Saskatchewan, who quite frankly are a little bit further behind.

MG: What are the big questions that still have to be answered?

OK: I think one of the points that's getting less attention is where will one be able to use marijuana. For example, you can walk down a public sidewalk and smoke a cigarette, but you can't walk down the sidewalk and drink a beer. I think that's a conversation that needs to happen.

MG: Do you think that people will be allowed to smoke marijuana in parks, if they can't have an open bottle of alcohol there now?

OK: There's a lot of evidence that suggests that harm associated with marijuana use is less than that associated with regular alcohol use. So I think it's something that the province of Ontario especially is going to be looking at as they move forward with their strategy.

MG: What about the sale issue?

OK: Since the government has set a fairly aggressive timeline for legalization — some have said, July 2018 — I think it's going to be very difficult for the government to have an up-and-running, bricks-and-mortar retail operation by this time next year essentially. I think the government is looking at three options: one would be a wholly government-run crown corporation a la LCBO; I think another option would be a heavily regulated system that gives out private licences for retailing; and then, the third option would be what we call a hybrid. Some private licences combined with a government-run system, similar to how beer and wine is distributed in Ontario.

MG: Which way do you think they are leaning?

OK: I know the Ontario government started looking at this seriously, right after the election of the Trudeau government. I know the attorney general, Yassir Naqvi, is working away feverishly to put together some options for cabinet to consider. I also know the premier is very big on consultation, so I suspect that before any plan is rolled out, there will be a robust public consultation.

MG: Can you have robust public consultation and still set up that regulatory body in time?

OK: I know they've been working at this hard for a year or so. The timeline's going to be a challenge no doubt. That's why I suspect that if there are going to be public consultations, as I presume there will be, they'll be rolling them out fairly shortly.

MG: Is the timeline too tight?

OK: It is what it is. Having worked in government, I know that sometimes you have to set a deadline to get everybody working away at achieving a goal. At the end of the day, what's important is that we are going to have legalized adult use of recreational cannabis in this country. And, industry, government, all involved stakeholders need to start working very fast to get this done right.

MG: You work with the industry now. What do they want to know?

OK: Like members of the public, they are waiting for more information about what the retail distribution model will look like. But I think industry is very interested in sharing some of their expertise when it comes to distribution. There are a lot of players who have a lot of experience dealing with controlled substances. So for example, pharmacies, care centres.

I want to give kudos to Mayor Tory who spoke out vigorously against the illegal dispensaries that are out there right now. The one question everyone needs to ask is, where are these people getting their supply? We have 50 licensed producers or marijuana in this country right now.

MG: So where are they getting their supply?

OK: I don't want to open myself up to defamation. But they're not getting them from the licensed producers because none of them would risk their licence by providing supply illegally.

MG: The assumption from many of the illegal dispensaries is that they're going to be part of the new regime.

OK: I think they are dreaming in technicolour. There is no way the province of Ontario or any other province is going to give a retail distribution licence to any entity that's involved in criminal activity.

MG: Do you really think we'll meet this deadline?

OK: The good thing [Finance Minister] Morneau has put out there is that if there's a province that isn't ready with an up-and-running distribution system next year, there will be a fallback, and I suspect that will be online sales.
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:23 am

Straight.com



Dana Larsen: Cannabis guidelines driving us to drink

by Dana Larsen on June 26th, 2017

Canada's health and addiction organizations have released new guidelines for cannabis users. Unfortunately their advice is biased against cannabis, and will promote heavier use of the more dangerous drug alcohol.

Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health recently joined the Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction to release new "Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines", which claim to teach people how to use cannabis safely and responsibly. A few years back, they put out similar guidelines for alcohol use.

When we compare their cannabis guidelines with their alcohol guidelines, we see that these health organizations are strangely downplaying the risks of alcohol while exaggerating the risks of cannabis.

The result of this skewed information will be to encourage more people to use alcohol, instead of the safer alternative, cannabis.

Cannabis harms versus alcohol harms

The cannabis recommendations begin with a lengthy list of all the harms they claim cannabis use can cause. They list "cognitive, psychomotor and memory impairments; hallucinations and impaired perception; impaired driving and injuries (including fatalities); mental health problems (including psychosis); dependence; pulmonary/bronchial problems; and reproductive problems".

That sounds pretty serious! It seems exaggerated to me, but I guess it's better to err on the side of caution.

Besides, I expected that their alcohol guidelines would really get into detail on all the health and social harms caused by drinking booze.

Umm, no. With alcohol, they just vaguely say "alcohol can harm the way the body and brain develop." And that's it!

They don't get into any details about how alcohol use is tied to many kinds of cancer, mental health problems, psychosis, hallucinations, fetal alcohol disorders, liver damage, increased injuries, domestic violence, sexual assault, traffic fatalities, reproductive problems, and a host of other health and social risks.

On their cannabis pamphlet, the list of potential harms is repeated a few times. On the alcohol pamphlet, the risks get half a sentence, and that's it.

Abstinence versus regular use

Let's move on to the actual recommendations. Surely they recognize that cannabis use is safer than alcohol?

Sadly, it's quite the opposite. Their first recommendation on cannabis use is "abstinence". They recommend just saying no and never using cannabis as the only way to protect yourself from any potential harms.

According to these "health experts", even a small amount of cannabis is harmful, and should be avoided entirely. But when it comes to booze, the word "abstain" is never used or even suggested!

Sure, they recommend no drinking while pregnant or doing something complicated like driving, but otherwise they never even mention the idea of a booze-free lifestyle. They don't even recommend that minors should abstain from alcohol!

It's as if they think alcohol is an inevitable part of life, while cannabis is a dangerous drug to be avoided. That's just bad advice.

Health benefits and medicine

The alcohol flyer even mentions that "drinking may provide health benefits for certain groups of people", something the cannabis flyer neglects to say.

Cannabis is a legally recognized medicine in Canada, currently being recommended by doctors for a wide range of therapeutic purposes. Yet the flyer makes no mention of any medicinal or health benefits of cannabis, saying only that "these recommendations are mainly aimed at non-medical cannabis use."

Why does the alcohol flyer explain that booze "may provide health benefits" but the cannabis flyer does not? Is this really the message Canada's health agencies are trying to send?

Alcohol's just fine for teens?

The second recommendation for safe cannabis use is abstinence again! This time for minors and young adults. They explain how the brain is still developing during your early 20s, and say that it's best to "delay taking up cannabis use until later in life".

With alcohol, they give no such advice. With teens and booze, they don't recommend waiting until "later in life" at all! They just say that "teens should speak with their parents about drinking.

If they choose to drink, "they should do so under parental guidance; never more than 1-2 drinks at a time, and never more than 1-2 times per week." (They don't recommend that teens talk to their parents about their cannabis use either, apparently that discussion is only to be held about alcohol.)

Note that this drinking advice is specifically for underage teens. If you're in your "late teens to age 24" they just say you shouldn't exceed the daily and weekly limits.

To be clear, nowhere on the "Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines" pamphlet do these health agencies specifically recommend that minors abstain from alcohol. They offer no minimum age below which alcohol should not be consumed.

Instead, Canada's health and drug agencies recommend that underage teens can drink booze a few times a week, and that adult teens can chug 15 drinks a week, and that's fine.

But with cannabis, minors and young adults should always abstain, and there's no call for a family discussion?

Another version of their alcohol guidelines does recommend that minors should delay drinking, but only until age 17!

It says "If you are a child or youth, you should delay drinking until your late teens." Well the "late teens" begins at 17, so they're telling us that it's OK to have a few drinks a week when you're still in Grade 11, but if you wait until a year after graduating from college to try a puff of cannabis, then you've still started up too soon? This is absurd advice to be giving.

Finally, with cannabis, they say that if you insist on using it, it's best to use cannabis only once a week. With alcohol, they say three drinks a day is fine, but suggest having "non-drinking days every week." So they're telling people that drinking alcohol five to six days a week is just fine, but using cannabis more than once a week is a serious problem? Once again, this is just awful advice.

Moderation is good, bad advice is dangerous

While encouraging moderation and responsible use towards cannabis is commendable, these guidelines are clearly biased towards alcohol, an approach that is not based in science or best practices.

Messaging around cannabis, alcohol and drug use can encourage abstinence and moderation, and that's not a problem. But these guidelines also need to include a reality check, and acknowledge that if anyone is going to choose to use a psychoactive substance, cannabis is by far the safest and most responsible choice.

Treating cannabis as a dangerous and deviant, while treating alcohol as normal and beneficial, is just bad policy and bad advice.

Dana Larsen is director of Sensible B.C., Your Voice For Marijuana Reform.
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by papapuff » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:45 am

Calgary Herald



Opposition parties put forward pot positions

James Wood, Calgary HeraldJAMES WOOD, CALGARY HERALD
Published on: June 25, 2017

Alberta’s conservative opposition parties are concerned about the tight time frame for cannabis legalization.

NDP Finance Minister Joe Ceci said last week that despite major decisions needing to be made, Alberta will be ready with a regulatory regime and won’t ask Ottawa for an extension to its planned July 1, 2018, date for legal cannabis to be implemented.

However, Wildrose justice critic Angela Pitt said in a recent interview that Alberta should contemplate joining Manitoba in formally asking for the legalization date to be pushed back.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Alberta to also ask for an extension on the deadline so we can get it right. This is a huge thing that is about to happen to our province, and the more time the better,” said Pitt.

Ottawa has rejected the notion of extending the timeline for what was a Liberal campaign promise.

Alberta’s NDP government has launched consultations on legal cannabis, looking at issues such as the legal age for consumption and where the product should be sold. The province must also create some sort of taxation regime for marijuana.

Opposition parties are themselves grappling with legal cannabis.

The Progressive Conservative caucus says it is still developing its position on what it called an “intricate topic.”

But at a recent local party fundraising event, PC Leader Jason Kenney warned that the provincial government must be “very deliberate and careful about the regulatory regime it adopts.”

He told reporters he would favour decriminalization rather than legalization of cannabis, but recognizes that legal marijuana is coming.

“I just think we need to ensure a strong provincial regulatory framework that ensures we don’t end up increasing the availability of marijuana to minors. I think you can have very negative health effects on adolescents and other public health implications,” he said.

Pitt said she believes the NDP is properly consulting on the issue, but Wildrose is doing its own consultations around marijuana as it prepares its policy response.

The party hasn’t settled on the suitable age for legal cannabis consumption, with Pitt acknowledging there is significant debate around the issue.

One position the party has determined however is that marijuana sales should be left to the private sector.

“We want to see it heavily regulated but we want to see the system similar to how our liquor stores are run,” said Pitt, referring to standardized training and centralized distribution centres.

The Airdrie MLA said, however, that liquor stores themselves should not sell recreational marijuana, with the party instead leaning toward stand-alone dispensaries for the product.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said he also favours retail operations dedicated solely to cannabis, rather than having it sold by either government stores or liquor stores.

Clark also believes the legal age for consumption should be 21.

“Keeping it out of the hands of older teenagers is wise,” he said.

Liberal Leader David Khan, however, said the minimum age for recreational cannabis use should be 18, matching Alberta’s legal drinking age.

“If it’s set higher, it will simply feed the black market,” said Khan.

jwood@postmedia.com
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by papapuff » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:23 am

Edmonton Journal



School boards grapple with impending legal marijuana

Janet FrenchJANET FRENCH
Published on: June 28, 2017

Never did Alberta School Boards Association president Mary Martin think she’d have a file labelled “Marijuana” among her advocacy documents.

As the July 2018 date for legal recreational marijuana in Canada approaches, every school board in the province will have to revisit policies and procedures, from student codes of conduct to rules about administering medication, said Kevin Andrea, superintendent of Whitecourt-based Northern Gateway Public Schools.

“There’s not one school board in the province that could say that we are ready now for this,” Andrea said Tuesday.

Boards are closely watching the Alberta government’s decisions about how and where pot can be consumed in public, the legal age for cannabis use and municipal decisions about where dispensaries can be located, said Martin, who is also a Calgary Catholic school trustee.


“Clearly, the issue of safety for our kids is paramount to school boards,” she said.

Edmonton Public Schools will have clear rules ready by next summer governing marijuana use on and off school property, superintendent Darrel Robertson told a May school board meeting.

“It’s not going to be acceptable to be at school under the influence of marijuana or any other substance,” Robertson said.

What the district lacks are presentations and other resources to prevent students from driving while drug impaired, or explaining the potential effects of cannabis on students’ health, Robertson said. Those lessons should be in Alberta’s new K-12 curriculum, he said.

Nearly 29 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds said they’d illegally used cannabis, according to a Health Canada survey in 2015.

More frequent use by students has been tied to poorer academic performance and increased absenteeism and is associated with memory and cognition problems.

Legalization hopefully gives teachers more chances to have frank discussions with students about cannabis use, said Rebecca Haines-Saah, a University of Calgary community health sciences professor who researches youth marijuana use.

Fear of legal consequences or suspension stops many youth from talking to school staff about the risks, she said.

Andrea has questions about whether the mode of consumption should matter — should schools allow pills or edibles, but prohibit smoking or vaping on school property? He worries policing underage marijuana use will fall to school staff.

School authorities have told the province’s cannabis secretariat they’re concerned about where pot retailers will be located relative to schools, said spokeswoman Jennifer Mitok in an email Tuesday. The government is mulling over whether those locations should be provincial or municipal decisions, she said.

The secretariat plans to release a “cannabis framework” in the fall outlining how Alberta will adapt to federal legislation, she said.

Several school districts said they won’t review their existing policies until provincial legislation is passed.

jfrench@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jantafrench
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by papapuff » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:26 am

Cambridge Times



Canada urged to share plans on drug treaties

NEWS Jul 05, 2017

OTTAWA — Opposition parties and legal experts are urging the Liberal government to be clear on how it plans to handle the legalization of cannabis while Canada remains party to three UN treaties that control and criminalize drug access.

Steven Hoffman, a York University professor who specializes in global health law, says Canada needed to give notice on July 1 if it intended to withdraw from the treaties, if it plans to stick to the proposed timeline to legalize marijuana by this time next year.

Hoffman says he is primarily concerned Canada will choose to be in violation on the treaties when cannabis is legalized, noting the current lack of clarity could cause confusion on the global stage.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's office says Canada has not withdrawn from the UN drug control treaties, adding it is examining a range of issues including international commitments.

But NDP health critic Don Davies says she is failing to acknowledge the government will no longer be in compliance with the treaties once cannabis gets the legal green light.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent agrees it is problematic the Liberal government has not shared its thinking, noting decisions should have been made public weeks ago.

By The Canadian Press
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by papapuff » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:22 pm

Toronto Star



Employers hazy on impact of legal pot: Survey

Survey of HR professionals says nearly half of workplaces not prepared for legalization of weed.

By LISA WRIGHTBusiness Reporter
Thu., July 6, 2017

Looking forward to pot being legal? Your employer likely isn’t, especially if you drive for work or operate heavy machinery.

With less than a year until recreational marijuana is slated to become legal in Canada, a new study by the Human Resources Professional Association reveals that many employers feel unprepared for the impact that increased drug use may have on the workplace.

Nearly half (or 45.9 per cent) of HR professionals do not believe their current workplace policies adequately address the potential new issues that may arise with the legalization and expected increased use of marijuana.

In fact only 11 per cent of respondents said their companies have a policy in place to address medical marijuana.

“Employers are concerned, and both governments and employers have a role to play to ensure workplaces are properly prepared for the legalization of marijuana on July 1, 2018,” said Bill Greenhalgh, HRPA’s chief executive.

In the report Clearing the Haze: The Impacts of Marijuana on the Workplace, the top concerns cited by company professionals include employees operating motor vehicles and heavy machinery, decreased work performance and attendance.

The study makes 10 recommendations to governments and employers in an effort to prepare them for the increased use of marijuana, and the effects that legalization will inevitably have at work.

They include asking Ottawa to maintain two regulatory streams for medical and recreational cannabis, that employers should explore the benefits of medical marijuana coverage and ensure employers are prepared to answer questions about coverage of medical marijuana in their extended health care plans.

“Governments must ensure that issues such as the legal definition of impairment — and how to accurately test those levels — are resolved before the legalization date,” Greenhalgh said.

“On the other hand, employers must continually update and communicate their current drug policies to employees so expectations are clear,” he noted.

A zero tolerance cannabis policy is problematic in the workplace because it “could cause discrimination against employees who use cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability,” the report states.

“We have heard from human resources professionals that strict policies and government guidelines will be critically important to safety-sensitive workplaces,” added Greenhalgh.

Unlike alcohol, there is no current consensus on safe limits for consuming cannabis, the study notes. “The effects of cannabis on individuals vary widely depending on the THC content (the active ingredient in marijuana), frequency of use, and other factors such as combined use with alcohol or other drugs.”

“While a year may sound like a lot to prepare for the legalization of marijuana, we are urging employers to act now. In terms of legalization on a broad scale, Canada is in uncharted territory,” said Greenhalgh.

“The sooner employers can communicate clear policies to employees, the better,” he added.
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by papapuff » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:32 pm

CBC.ca



Fort McMurrray to consider restricting marijuana use near schools and places of worship

‘I don’t want to have our kids at a bus stop and smoke being ingested by our youth,’ says councillor

By David Thurton, CBC News Posted: Jul 06, 2017

One Fort McMurray councillor wants to tighten the municipality's control over where marijuana can be consumed and sold, once the drug is legalized next year.

Coun. Sheldon Germain will introduce a motion on July 11 that could instruct staff to draft new parameters that could restrict the sale and consumption of cannabis near community centres, public events, places of worship and schools.

"Quite frankly, I don't want to have our kids riding in a school bus or at a bus stop and smoke being ingested by our youth." said Germain, who also works as a school vice-principal.

"I just want to make sure our community is ready and has the right bylaws."

In April, the federal government laid out its plan for the permitted use and sale of marijuana.

The plan states that vendors cannot sell marijuana to people under the age of 18, while provinces and territories can set a higher minimum age if they choose.

Provinces and territories will also determine how pot is distributed and how much it will cost.

'Let's do it in our public spaces'

Germain said his motion would allow the municipality to research and review its options for controlling marijuana through land use and clean-air bylaws.

"I think it's important for us as a municipality to ensure that we have the right bylaws that help support and make sure that legalization is done in a correct way," he said.

He wants to ensure residents can have a say in where marijuana dispensaries are located.

One such place that could see marijuana restrictions is Fort McMurray's Jubilee Plaza, the city's main downtown square.

On Wednesday, it hosted a farmers' market. Many merchants and shoppers there said they support marijuana legalization, but some said there needs to be restrictions on the drug's sale and use near schools.

"I think there should be restrictions," Hayley Goodwin said. "Just the same as [tobacco] smoking areas, there should be designated [marijuana] smoking areas."

Amy Thornhill said there's already too many unhealthy taboos about marijuana, and using city bylaws to regulate it further will only add to that.

She said bringing marijuana use out in the open as opposed to hiding it allows health authorities to monitor it more effectively.

"Let's do it in our public spaces," Thornhill said. "Let's have our community members out in the open in places that have a police presence and have another set of eyes."

Zero tolerance at the work site

This is not the first call for more regulation of marijuana use in and around Fort McMurray.

In April, Calgary-based work safety group Enform called for a "prohibition on the use, storage and sale of marijuana from the workplace or close proximity" to oil and gas facilities.

The group said research demonstrates marijuana can impair a user's judgment for as many as 20 days and that the drug is incompatible with the strict safety requirements of oil and gas sites.

Enform recommends a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the use of marijuana by oil and gas employees, the group said in a news release in April.
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by papapuff » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:40 pm

calgaryherald.com



Legal marijuana age should be 21, Canada Day debut the 'stupidest possible day:' Nenshi

Annalise Klingbeil, Calgary Herald ANNALISE KLINGBEIL, CALGARY HERALD
Published on: July 7, 2017

Calgary’s mayor blasted Canada Day as “the stupidest possible day” for the federal government to make cannabis legal and said he believes Albertans should be 21 before they’re allowed to purchase marijuana for recreational use.

Nenshi made the comments at a committee meeting on Thursday, at which elected officials attempted to grapple with the looming federal legalization of marijuana and agreed not to make any decisions when it comes to a stance on the minimum legal age of purchase in Alberta.

“I’m…advocating very, very hard with the federal government that July 1 is the stupidest possible day,” Nenshi said to colleagues.

“Bluntly, I’ve got a half million people on the street on the first of July and I don’t want a whole bunch of people, for the first time ever, going, ‘Oh let’s try this.'”

Nenshi later told reporters he may be overly paranoid, but he simply doesn’t feel like a public holiday is the best day to introduce such a major policy change.

At the meeting, elected officials also discussed how old Albertans should be before they can legally purchase marijuana — the proposed law tabled by the Trudeau government would allow Canadians over 18 to possess cannabis, though the federal bill provides provinces with the authority to set their own age limits.

“I’m very convinced by the science that says the use of cannabis on the developing brain is really a problem up until the early to mid-20s,” said Nenshi, who believes 21 should be the legal minimum age.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association recommends that Canadians should be 21 before they’re allowed to purchase marijuana for recreational use.

But Ward 11 Coun. Brian Pincott said he’s not concerned about setting the minimum age of purchase at 18, which is the same age Albertans can legally purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco.

“I have no problem with it being 18, I actually think that’s probably the most reasonable way to go,” Pincott said.

The province is currently gauging public opinion on key cannabis questions, including a minimum age, and has agreed to share Calgary-specific data with the city.

The city committee agreed Thursday until both the broader consequences of minimum age and Calgarians views are better understood, city council will not advocate for a specific age at which young Albertans can legally purchase weed.

Nenshi also said that as a university professor, he has concerns with dispensaries and lounges popping up on post-secondary campuses.

“I don’t want to see dispensaries on campus, I’d prefer not to see cannabis lounges on campus. That’s a very personal point of view, it’s not the city’s point of view, but I’d like to see a regulatory regime that makes that difficult,” the mayor said, noting the city doesn’t have zoning the ability to stop either from opening on provincially-owned university campuses.
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