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Feds' marijuana task force rules out storefront weed

by papapuff » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:00 pm

Calgary Herald



Legalized marijuana may not curb organized crime, says Calgary police chief

BILL KAUFMANN

Published on: December 15, 2016

It’s not clear recommendations on legalizing cannabis will reduce his force’s work or even curb organized crime, Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin said Thursday.

While Chaffin said that while federal task force did a comprehensive job in crafting 80 recommendations for ending 93 years of marijuana prohibition, numerous uncertainties remain, including what role police would play.

“There’s still many unanswered elements yet to be determined, such as how much is to be mandated to which levels of government,” he said.

On the overall prospect of pot legalization that’s expected to be tabled in Parliament next spring, Chaffin said that trend and its medical marijuana cousin has already led to police reduce their work in closing down grow operations.

But he said new complexities arising from legalization could mean little relief for police that would enable them to focus on other policing areas.

“A lot of that grow-op work has gone away but we haven’t seen it create a massive human resource efficiency,” said Chaffin.

“It will still be an issue beyond the regulated legal amount … it may create new work.”

And he said hopes legalization will snuff out organized crime’s role in the marijuana trade aren’t a sure bet either.

“We have to see how that works, whether the black market has a role or doesn’t,” he said.

After two years of legalization in Colorado, pot-related arrests there have fallen but drug cartels have moved into the state to grow cannabis that’s then exported.

Chaffin said there are more technical-legal questions that’ll also need to be addressed.

What will be the permissible THC-blood level for driving isn’t yet known, nor how a recommended four-plant per home grow limit would be enforced, he said.

The same goes for a 30-gram legal cannabis possession limit favoured by the task force, said Chaffin.

“What’s the difference between 30 or 35 grams and is it a bylaw or police issue?” he said.

“I’d rather they do it right than fast.”

Drug law enforcement culture shock has been reduced by the lengthy discussion on legalization, said Howard Burns, president of the Calgary Police Association.

But he said a total adjustment will take some time.

“We’ve been trained to hunt down marijuana and we’ve spent an incredible amount of resources trying to eliminate things that will be sold in legal outlets,” said Burns.

He said the prospect of cannabis legalization brings some relief for police, who’ve already turned more of their focus onto battling deadly drugs like fentanyl.

But he insisted the campaign against pot hasn’t been a waste.

“I would certainly say the war was never won but perhaps it prevented some people from being exposed to it,” he said.

A recommendation to allow home-grows of four plants, said Burns, doesn’t seem compatible with Ottawa’s intention of protecting youth from the drug.

“It might be counter-intuitive … allowing people to grow it probably isn’t going to be helpful,” he said.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn
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by papapuff » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:00 pm

The Province



Cannabis Canada Association supports the report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation

OTTAWA, Dec. 16, 2016 /CNW/ - Cannabis Canada, the leading organization of Health Canada Licensed Producers of cannabis, commends the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation for its thorough and thoughtful approach to a complex issue and supports many of the recommendations contained within the report submitted to the Government of Canada. The Association looks forward to working with all levels of government throughout the process of legalization.

"Overall, the Task Force has succeeded in providing the federal government with a set of well-informed and comprehensive recommendations that will guide the development of legislation for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada Association. "Our membership is unanimous in the need to protect the health and well-being of Canadians. Effective education, ensuring product quality and safety, and keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth is paramount to achieving this, and will have the added outcome of shutting down the black market."

In developing legislation and regulations, Cannabis Canada encourages the Government of Canada to allow a level of product branding and advertising that in no way appeals to children or youth, encourages responsible use and provides information to consumers. "There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace. About a quarter of the inquiries Cannabis Canada receives are questions about where and how to obtain legal cannabis," added Ms. Rivet. "Allowing companies to brand and advertise their products will help consumers to distinguish safe, quality, legally-produced cannabis from black market product, and it will also help consumers to make informed decisions regarding different strains, levels of potency and characteristics."

In particular, Cannabis Canada supports the Task Force's recommendations in the following areas:

Minimizing Harms of Use, including a national minimum age of purchase, prohibiting products and packaging deemed to be "appealing to children", requiring re-sealable packaging that is childproof or child-resistant, requiring appropriate and comprehensive labelling, and developing and implementing a robust public education campaign.

Establishing a Safe and Responsible Supply Chain, including regulating production and drawing on the practices of the current medical system, seed-to-sale tracking, no co-location with alcohol or tobacco sales, limits on density and location of storefronts, and maintenance of the mail-order system.

Enforcing Public Safety and Protection, including an education campaign on the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving, applicable laws and the ability of law enforcement to detect cannabis use, and baseline data collection.

Medical Access, including maintenance of a separate medical system and supporting clinical research on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes.

About Cannabis Canada

Cannabis Canada is the leading organization of Canada's Licensed Producers of Medical Cannabis under Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

The Association's mission is to act as the national voice for our members in their promotion of industry standards; support the development, growth and integrity of the regulated cannabis industry; and serve as a trusted resource on issues related to the safe and responsible use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.

Members of Cannabis Canada share a philosophy of both patient-centric care and improved public health, and are committed to product safety and quality, secure and reliable access and the promotion of the safe and effective use of cannabis. http://www.cann-can.ca.

SOURCE Cannabis Canada Association

For further information: Colette Rivet, Executive Director, Cannabis Canada Association, colette.rivet@cann-can.ca, 613.407.1080
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by papapuff » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:14 pm

cbc.ca



OPINION

Revenge of the comment section: Getting lost in the weeds of legalizing pot

Federal task force recommends marijuana sales be restricted to those 18 and older

CBC News Posted: Dec 16, 2016

This week, the idea of legal marijuana became less hazy. Recommendations from a federal task force studying legalization were announced. Among them was limiting sales to those 18 and older. Proposals were also made for how the goods should be distributed and powers the provinces will have. Commenters largely came to a pro-legalization consensus, but got lost in the weeds of how it should be implemented.

Pot pragmatism

I was formerly on the decriminalization team but now don't really care at all about the path the government takes. However, I do think we need to be honest and pragmatic in the two main areas of concern Trudeau raises.

Legalization will not stop the current supply, it will just change it some. Depending on the tax rate, it will be very simple for the current supply to undercut the government price and to offer higher potency product for those who want that.

Legalization will not impact marijuana use by minors. Minors aren't stupid. If they want the product they will find ways to get the product. They get cigarettes and alcohol the same ways today. All they need is connection to a person a few years older and for a simple $5 or $10 transaction fee, they will get what they want.

I think our government is being incredibly naive if they honestly believe that legalization will stop the current supply and stop the use by minors.

Gordie Roberts

Pardons, not punishments

Personally have no interest in it but people are using it so let's stop punishing people. It's less harmful to society than alcohol and prescription drugs. Legalize ASAP.

And let's start handing out some pardons.

Thomas Crane

Pandora's box

Talk about opening Pandora's box. I find it funny that people say the revenue will help pay for the health costs. Talk about an endless cycle. And then the same people say it has no health risks.

Are we all going to get jobs as bud tenders to boost the economy? Do you really think with our draconian smoking laws you can smoke this inside or even outside? Good luck traveling across the border, because you know the searches will be longer and tougher.

James Frank

Potluck ads at the LCBO

So how does this help the average Canadian? Pot at the LCBO? I can just imagine seeing flyers of people getting together for the holidays or summer time with pot on the centre of the table. I'm sure that won't raise eyebrows. Maybe an employee telling you which pot goes good with fish or meat. I can enjoy a beer with a meal and not get drunk and no, I refuse to believe people have one puff or two for the "taste."

Lonnie Donnigan

Plenty of possibilities

This could go any number of ways. The medical professionals aren't all backing legalization, but most see the value of it. The war on drugs hasn't saved anyone, it has only made more money for drug manufacturers and distributors while creating major congestion in prisons, and draining resources for ineffective police budget increases.

Legalizing marijuana isn't going to turn everyone into lazy pot smokers. The people who argue things like that are very quiet when asked about alcohol.

If the age is going to be set at 25 ... it might work, might not, younger people will still find ways to get pot, after all, it's easy for people under 18/19 to get booze or cigarettes when they want them. My biggest problem with making pot purchases legal at 25 is that you should raise cigarette and alcohol purchase ages to match (for the exact same reasons) or don't bother.

Even if only half the population buys pot legally and the rest keep buying from drug dealers and/or grow their own, it'll still be more tax revenue, and a net positive for our economy.

I guess we'll see.

Alex Aghajanian

Pretty good timing

"The government has promised to table legislation in the spring 2017, but it could take much time for the bill to be studied and eventually pass into law."

Sounds a bit like the pipelines. I have a sneaking feeling that all these "passed" items will become fruitful right before the next election.

Karin Bougie

Reader comments have been edited for length and clarity.
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by papapuff » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:19 pm

CBC.ca



Vancouver Island cannabis growers high on legal pot prospects

Multi-billion-dollar recreational market beckons to medicinal marijuana companies

By Deborah Wilson, CBC News Posted: Dec 16, 2016

Licensed medical marijuana producers on Vancouver Island are already angling for expansion into a legalized recreational market as proposed new rules take shape.

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommended this week keeping a separate framework for supplying recreational pot to Canadians.

Meanwhile, two of the three dozen companies licensed to supply medical marijuana to Canadians are already laying the groundwork for diversification into the multi-billion dollar recreational market.

​Executives for Tilray, based in Nanaimo, B.C., and United Greeneries Ltd., in nearby Duncan, endorse the task force's main recommendations, including a minimum age of 18 for purchase of pot, a ban on advertising and sales through stand-alone outlets or mail-order.

Brendan Kennedy, president of Tilray, said the company will expand into recreational marijuana, but it won't be a simple matter of ramping up production.

Different branding for recreational pot

The company, which distributes its medical marijuana by mail, exports to Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

"We would enter the recreational market but we would enter it using a different brand than Tilray," Kennedy said.

"Similar product, similar production staff," he said, but "a completely different brand targeting adult consumers."

In contrast with Tilray's established business, United Greeneries Ltd. received customs clearance this week for its first one-kilogram shipment of cannabis seeds imported from Europe.

United Greeneries expects to start selling rooted cuttings of 30 different cannabis varieties by next April to retailers and individual consumers.

A 'first mover' into new market

United Greeneries just received its license in June to cultivate medical marijuana, but the company already has ambitious plans to become a "first mover in the Canadian recreational market," according to a release from its Australian parent company, MMJ PhytoTech Limited.

"Commercially for Canadian companies, this means a tremendous opportunity," United Greeneries CEO Andreas Gedeon told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

He called the task force recommendation to allow every adult Canadian to cultivate four plants of their own "a huge step."

Gedeon said it will be a huge challenge for Canadian companies but also a challenge to meet the demand for legal pot.

"The entire infrastructure for this recreational market needs to be built from scratch," Gedeon said.

For its part, United Greeneries aims to scale up production from 7,500 kilograms of cannabis by 2018 to 60,000 kilograms by 2022.

Black-market transition biggest challenge

Tilray's president says demand for recreational pot is already being met by the black market, and that's the biggest challenge.

"That market is roughly 70 times the medical market," Kennedy said. "So we're not worried about the medical market eroding.

"The real challenge is how that black market will transition into a fully regulated, restricted, taxed recreational market."
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by papapuff » Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:14 pm

calgaryherald.com



NDP 'will engage with Albertans' to decide marijuana minimum age: Notley

RYAN RUMBOLT
Published on: December 17, 2016

With cannabis legalization coming down the pipe in 2017, Premier Rachel Notley said input from Albertans will help set the minimum age to purchase marijuana.

Notley weighed in on weed legalization following a report released by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommending a national minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana. The report also said provinces and territories should be allowed to “harmonize” the minimum age for cannabis with their minimum age for purchasing alcohol and tobacco.

“Not everyone is going to agree, but I think it’s really important that we do engage (with Albertans) because I know lots of families are concerned about safety on (marijuana),” Notley said.

The report said that cannabis use during adolescence may be associated with effects on brain development. Alberta Liberal leader Dr. David Swann said the marijuana minimum age should be 21 years old, citing the same health concerns as basis for his recommendation.

“The Canadian Medical Association and the (Canadian Pediatric Society) have looked at the research and recommended 25 as the minimum age for marijuana access,” Swann said.

“I’m trying to find some reasonable compromise between what the task force is suggesting, is 18.”

Swann said he agrees with Notley’s plan to consult with Albertans before deciding on the minimum age, and Canada’s “prohibitionist approach” to marijuana has to change.

The task force looked at the minimum legal ages for tobacco and alcohol to help provide a framework for a marijuana minimum age. Most provinces and territories have a minimum age of 19, with only Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec setting their minimum age at 18.

Cam Battley, senior vice-president with Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis, the province’s only licensed producer of medical marijuana, and member of the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association board of directors, said there is a lot riding on how the provinces roll out legalization legislation.

“The premier’s comment, to me, emphasize that Alberta is taking a thoughtful and considered approach to legalization and that’s entirely appropriate,” Battley said. “Legalizing and regulating cannabis is the right public policy, but we have to get it right the first time.”

The report examined how marijuana legalization was handled in Colorado and Washington, where the state governments chose to align the minimum age for purchasing marijuana with the minimum age for purchasing alcohol at 21.

Notley said the largest demographic for marijuana users is between 18 – 25, and setting a minimum age higher than 18 might contribute to illegal sales of cannabis.

“If it’s not legal for (18-year-olds) then you actually continue to have a black market and all the negative things that are associated with that,” Notley said.

But Notley echoed Swann’s comments and the report’s findings that people under the age of 25 are at an elevated risk from marijuana use, specifically when it comes to brain development. Notley said the province will need to examine the report before coming to a decision about marijuana legislation.

The report said there are lessons to be learned from tobacco and alcohol control when it comes to marijuana, including reducing harm to high-risk users through active prevention, education and treatment.
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by papapuff » Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:49 pm

Huffington Post Canada



Jenna Valleriani
PhD Candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Program in
Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto


We Need To Stop Infantilizing Young Adults Over Cannabis Access

Posted: 12/19/2016

Since the Task Force announced their recommendations for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada last week, the focus has predominantly been on age restrictions, suggested in the report at 18 years old with provincial autonomy to mirror drinking ages.

While the media frames this as "Trudeau OK with Canadians as young as 18 accessing cannabis", I find myself questioning why we continue to speak about young adults who are 18 and 19 as if they are children.

Young adults in Canada who are 18 and 19 make many choices around their health, well-being, and lives, and 18 has been the age when we typically expect young people to engage in these choices: they can vote, join the armed forces, purchase alcohol and tobacco, purchase firearms, get married, have children, and so much more. In fact, in Ontario, age 16 is when youth can legally decide to live alone without a legal guardian, which also deserves a place in this conversation.

But decisions around cannabis use are where we draw the line?

While I don't typically like to use comparisons to alcohol and tobacco, they do provide a framework for assessment that most Canadians understand. In its most basic form, available scientific evidence shows alcohol and tobacco are much worse for one's health and has far worse societal ills, including the massive burden on our health-care system. This research also indicates that we have over estimated the harms of cannabis in the past, and underestimated the harms of substances such as alcohol.

We also need to be more critical of the research that links cannabis use and brain development, in addition to other cognitive impairments. This work has never established that cannabis was the cause of these outcomes, or if it's a part of a variety of vulnerability factors. Most of this work using language strategically, stating that cannabis was "linked to" or that it "may have" led to various outcomes. One study correctly explains, "it remains unclear whether such disadvantages reflect pre-existing differences that lead to increased substances use and further changes in brain architecture and behavioural outcomes."

I should also note that much of this research is done with populations of heavy, long-term cannabis users, which isn't a reflection of the typical, occasional cannabis user. While there is also concern about short-term impacts such as short-term memory impairment, there is also available evidence that shows these outcomes are reversed after a period of abstinence. We should hold organizations accountable to make these distinctions clearly to the public, without discounting the importance of this developing research.

More significantly, age restrictions do not reflect when it's safe to initiate use. Advocates of a higher age restriction on cannabis certainly would not also try to convince Canadians that 18 or 19 is a "safe" age to start smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. What age restrictions do represent is when young people are considered adults who can engage in rational decision-making and are responsible for their own well-being.

With all this focus on age restrictions, what's been notably absent from the conversation is discussions around the creation and implementation of realistic, fact-based drug education that gives people the evidence they need to make informed choices around consumption, without stigmatizing the use of cannabis itself. Where PSAs and abstinence-only education has been shown to be relatively ineffective, a new approach is clearly needed and should start now.

Further, we need to remember that high age limits in and of themselves do not deter young people and adults from using cannabis. High age limits would do nothing more than criminalize more Canadians, particularly when considering ages 18-29 is the highest cannabis using population in our country and they simultaneously hold the highest rates of cannabis related charges (with a majority for possession alone). In order to truly protect our young people, we should look to a model that tries to move as much illicit sales away from the black market and doesn't look to criminalize our young adults. If adults do want to use cannabis, it should come from a regulated, legal and transparent supply.

Make no mistake, 18 and 19-year-olds are adults by every measure in Canadian society. Setting this as the age limit for cannabis access is a common sense approach to the legalization of cannabis, because it truly serves to minimize harms and protect young people. We need to start thinking of "potential harms" with a wider lens, and prioritize the fact that the criminalization of Canadians for cannabis has shown to be far worse than use itself.
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by papapuff » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:15 am

The Globe and Mail



The future of the marijuana industry comes into focus

ANDREA HILL
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016

Andrea Hill is corporate lawyer with SkyLaw Professional Corp., a boutique corporate law firm in Toronto.

Comprehensive. Compassionate. Courageous.

The highly anticipated Final Report of the federal government’s Task Force on legalization of cannabis that was released this week is all of these things. The report is simply advice to the government, and none of its recommendations may ultimately be enacted. However, it is a valuable bellwether of public opinion and does a great job of compiling the important matters that any future legislation must address. If implemented, its recommendations could shake up the industry, leading to increased specialization by licensed producers who can currently do it all, more officially licensed roles for other types of businesses that must currently play a reactive role in the cannabis economy, and more opportunities for brand-new industry subsectors.

Keenly aware that it is mapping out new terrain that has been legally out of bounds for the entire lives of most Canadians, the Task Force had the courage to point out how ineffective prohibition of cannabis has been, and the compassion to consider the interests of society’s more vulnerable members in making its recommendations. Key to the cannabis business community, the report also provides a clearer direction for the country’s nascent marijuana industry while giving rise to interesting new possibilities for producers, distributors and retailers.

Some elements of the report should come as no surprise, such as the acknowledgment of vast popular support for commercial production being left in the hands of the private sector, and praise for licensed producers and their good production practices as overseen by Health Canada. Although the report contemplates a “diverse” marketplace that includes “small producers,” the concept of the licensed producer (in some form) is virtually taken for granted as the dominant means of production under a recreational cannabis regime. Investors seemed to concur, as share prices of some publicly listed licensed producers spiked after the report was released.

The report suggests cannabis retail outlets not be co-located with sellers of alcohol or tobacco, and therefore that cannabis should not be sold through liquor stores. The task force did not take a position on whether cannabis should be sold through private-enterprise storefronts or government monopolies. This would likely be left to the provinces to decide. However, the recommendation that some form of retail sales of cannabis be permitted, if enacted, could lead to the fragmentation of the producer’s licence as production is separated from distribution and sale.

Right now, a licensed producer may possess, produce, sell, provide, ship, deliver, transport and destroy cannabis. But just as Shoppers Drug Mart has famously applied for a limited (and hitherto non-existent) form of producer’s licence that would allow it only to distribute cannabis, we could see the creation of further iterations of a “cannabis licence” as the industry unfurls.

For example, the report considers the many components of a safe and responsible supply chain, encompassing production, distribution and retail. It is conceivable that entities that are not licensed producers but that form part of the distribution and retail elements of that chain may also eventually be required to be licensed in some form – from security and transportation providers, to seed-to-sale trackers, to retail handlers and even professional destruction services.

If licensing becomes more specialized, licensed producers may need to choose between continuing to perform all of their current roles or focusing on fewer of them. Specialization is a good thing – it lets businesses focus on what they do best. Licensed producers should be able to focus on growing if they want to, and other would-be participants who don’t want to be a producer (such as Shoppers) should be able to contribute the sophisticated skills that they have to the industry without being asked to take on a production role as well.

The report also considers the need to balance supply of cannabis against demand. It notes that a miscalculation of demand could create opportunities for illicit producers to fill the void. It also suggests that some elements of the current licensing process, such as security requirements, may be prohibitively expensive or difficult to implement, thus creating unnecessary barriers to entry into the regulated marketplace, and recommends that such requirements be reconsidered under a new regime.

However, this would not necessarily lead to more licensed producers: the report also contemplates that in aligning supply with demand in a recreational market, production controls could be implemented through such means as limiting the number of production licenses issued or the total amount of product that any one producer is allowed to supply. The enactment of either of these recommendations could significantly change the current regulatory landscape, in which the regulations do not limit the number of licenses that may be granted, and licensed producers are subject to individual production maximums.

The report is not a crystal ball, and none of its recommendations may ever be implemented into law. But as a compassionate and courageous distillation of thousands of Canadian voices, it demonstrates what’s working and what needs rethinking. For the cannabis industry in particular, it balances pride and confidence in the existing industry together with the suggestion that the future is very much still in our hands to create.
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:38 pm

Squamish Chief



Dispensary owners react to federal plan for pot legalization

A report recommends allowing people to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana

Jennifer Thuncher / Squamish Chief

DECEMBER 22, 2016

Squamish marijuana advocates say they are cautiously optimistic about the federal plan to legalize the drug.

Last week, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation report to the federal government laid out more than 80 recommendations that create a framework for legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use.

The report recommends sales should be restricted to those 18 and older, with a personal possession limit of 30 grams.

It also recommends allowing edibles with restrictions and that provinces, in collaboration with municipalities, should regulate the retail sale of cannabis.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said the District of Squamish will wait to see what shakes out in terms of the actual regulation when it is adopted and then, perhaps, adjust district guidelines.

“What we will have to do is look at what the feds will finalize… and then obviously figure out if we need to tweak any of our bylaws to fit with the federal regulations,” she said.

Council passed zoning and business licence guidelines to allow for storefront dispensaries in July.

Generally speaking, Heintzman said she liked the direction the report pointed government, calling the guidelines “intuitive.”

Cannabis should not be sold in liquor stores, according to the report, and it recommends allowing people to grow up to four plants for their own personal use.

Squamish’s Bryan Raiser, owner of 99 North Dispensary, said he found the recommendations “refreshingly civilized.”

“I’m pleased to see them quash the idea of liquor stores as it never made sense to force a recovering alcoholic to go into a liquor store,” he said, adding he looks forward to how the provision for marijuana lounges will play out.

Raiser also said he liked the plan to let people grow their own pot, though he questioned the limits on amounts it would be legal to grow and possess.

“I never did like numbers plucked out of the air, which is also why I take issue with the arbitrary 30-gram carry limit,” he said.

“All in all, I remain optimistic, but after sitting through over a decade of ‘committee recommendations’ I’m all too aware of how mangled things can get once it goes through the political and bureaucratic wringer.”

Tania Jackett, who owns Grassroots Dispensary Squamish and is on the board of directors of Cannabis Growers of Canada, said while the report “isn’t all bad, it’s far from perfect.”

In particular, Jackett said the Cannabis Growers of Canada cannot support recommendations to install “seed-to-sale tracking” and “taxing high-potency cannabis.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done to normalize cannabis and it’s various medical and industrial uses,” Jackett told The Squamish Chief.

“Where is the demonstrated harm with cannabis that justifies a strict ‘public health and safety’ regime? Will cannabis be governed like a firearm? Will paper criminals risk imprisonment for falling outside this new system?”

Much is still left to be done before marijuana is fully legalized, including devising a tax regime for the drug, according to the report.

The federal government estimates it could take two years for all the details to be ironed out.
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:41 pm

Rocky Mountain Outlook


New Banff shop for pot paraphernalia

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016 02:58 pm
By: Cathy Ellis

A company with medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver is the latest place in Banff to get marijuana products and paraphernalia.

It’s unclear, however, if Canna Clinic has any plans to turn its new Bear Street location into Banff’s first dispensary once the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana.

Selling and processing marijuana for non-medical purposes is currently illegal in Canada, but the federal government wants to legalize marijuana and the taskforce it appointed to study the issue last week recommended marijuana be allowed to be sold at storefronts.

Town of Banff planner Dave Michaels said the planning and development department approved a business licence application for general retail last week, but he couldn’t speak to whether it could legally be turned into a dispensary in future.

“Because we have no idea about what that legislation will look like, it’s impossible to say,” said Michaels. “However, when doing research, they do have dispensaries within Vancouver.”

A spokesperson for Canna Clinic did not get back to the Outlook.

Last week, a federally-appointed taskforce released a series of recommendations following its study on the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The task force recommended marijuana be sold in storefronts and by mail order.

In addition, the minimum age would be 18 and it must be sold away from schools and not with alcohol; and that people could carry up to 30 grams and grow four plants at home.

The Liberal government may choose to accept or reject the taskforce’s recommendations when it crafts pot legalization legislation, which is expected to be tabled in spring 2017.

Many municipalities are in the process of developing legislation to deal with anticipated new laws on production, distribution and sale of marijuana and related cannabis products in advance of announcements from the federal government next year.

Randall McKay, Banff’s planning and development manager, said the Town wants to be proactive and ensure the tools are in place within Banff’s land use regulations to manage this forthcoming federal legislation.

“Planning and Development has received a number of inquiries to date and it would be prudent to be prepared,” he said.

“Our plan is to research and consult with municipalities and develop legislative mechanisms within our Land Use Bylaw.”

Once a framework is developed, McKay said council would be able to consider any proposed changes.

He said council has not been briefed on the issue to date, only that the Town of Banff intends to develop tools.

“It is important to keep in mind that federal legislation takes precedent,” McKay said.

“Our role is to determine how the federal legislation will fit within the Town’s Land Use Bylaw and other regulations. We have yet to determine what it will look like.”
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by papapuff » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:56 am

Toronto Star



Recreational marijuana ruling creates foggy space for artisanal products

Everything from marijuana-infused barbecue sauce to medicated body rubs is available at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation Green Market.

By ALEXANDRA POSADZKIThe Canadian Press
Fri., Dec. 23, 2016

It’s Sunday afternoon and Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation is packed full of marijuana enthusiasts perusing tables of goods.

Everything from marijuana-infused barbecue sauce to medicated body rubs is available at Green Market, where artisans peddle their various craft cannabis products.

Such events, which sell to patients and casual users alike, operate within a foggy regulatory environment. Selling marijuana is illegal unless you are a large-scale producer licensed under Health Canada’s medical marijuana regime.

However, licensed producers are only permitted to sell dried cannabis flower and oils, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling last year that said Canadians have a right to access medical marijuana in all of its forms.

“We only carry products that are inaccessible in the current legal medical program,” says Lisa Campbell, Green Market co-founder and a marijuana consultant at Mobile Revolutions.

“So for patients we are the only place they can find edibles — it’s not available from any licensed producer.”

The year ahead is expected to be a pivotal one for Canada’s burgeoning marijuana industry, as the federal government is planning to table legislation in the spring that will lay out the ground rules for a legal, recreational market.

“Canada will be the first G7 nation, in 2017, to legalize, regulate and restrict access to recreational cannabis,” Brendan Kennedy, president of B.C.-based marijuana producer Tilray, says.

“The eyes of the world are on Canada, and it’s extremely important for Canada to get this right.”

There’s also a lot of money to be made in marijuana.

A report published by consultancy firm Deloitte in October estimates that legalizing recreational use of the drug could ignite a $22.6 billion industry in Canada. That figure includes sales of marijuana products as well as ancillaries such as security, transportation and testing labs.

“The real money is in recreational marijuana,” says Jay Currie, author of the book Start & Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop: Wherever it is Legal.

“So these guys who’ve got millions and millions of bucks invested in candy factories that have been turned into grow-ops really want to make sure that they have a big bite on the recreational side.”

Currie is referring to Tweed, which is housed in a former Hershey Chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, Ont., southwest of Ottawa. The marijuana production company is a subsidiary of Canopy Growth (TSX:CGC), and with a market value of roughly $1 billion, it is the largest publicly traded marijuana company in the country.

While licensed producers ramp up their production facilities in preparation for an anticipated surge in demand, boutique cannabis companies are also eager for a slice of the pot pie.

“I personally would like to see something like what they’ve done in California, where they have 17 different types of licences you can get, including microprocessing, which is probably the category that most small businesses would fall under,” Christa Schadt says.

Schadt founded Bliss, a company that makes marijuana-infused lubricants, while dealing with the symptoms of menopause.

Virginia Vidal, who sells teas that contain marijuana under the brand Mary’s Wellness, says the boutique industry provides consumers with far greater choice in terms of available products.

“I can’t see my 80-year-old grandma wanting to go and roll up a joint for the first time,” Vidal says. “But she’d be interested in trying the tea.”

Another matter that has yet to be settled is how cannabis would be distributed for recreational use. Under the medical program, licensed producers ship the product to patients via mail.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has mused about the possibility of having the LCBO play a role in selling recreational marijuana. But a federally appointed task force is recommending storefront and mail-order sales.

It’s unclear what that would mean for the hundreds of illegal marijuana dispensaries operating across the country, Currie says.

One possibility is that the licensed producers could sell their products through dispensaries, rather than setting up their own networks of stores, he says.

“To build out a set of dispensaries is not a cheap thing to do.”

While companies big and small prepare for the advent of a recreational market, consumers shouldn’t hold their breath. Expectations are people won’t be able to legally buy marijuana until 2018, at the earliest.

“There’s going to be some filibustering, I can only assume, from the Conservatives, because they were never in favour of this,” says Vic Neufeld, the CEO of Leamington, Ont.-based medical marijuana producer Aphria.

“Once the federal rules are enacted, then the provinces really have to take the federal rules and overlay that with their particular provincial rules, like where and how. That’s a long process.”
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by papapuff » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:16 pm

rabble.ca



As pot legalization nears, cannabis industry can't forget workers' rights

BY PAUL MEINEMA | JANUARY 4, 2017

When it comes to workplace safety and rights for cannabis workers in Canada, the recent report by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation leaves some labour advocates a bit dazed and confused.

The Canadian cannabis industry is poised to become a significant player in our economy, where thousands of hard-working men and women will earn their incomes, and, in the right environment, gain the means to support their families and further build their communities. With that in mind, our federal government is presented with an opportunity to help shape this industry and workplace of the future in a way that best reflects the needs, realities, values and aspirations of twenty-first century Canada.

That future must include comprehensive workplace safety and labour rights for every worker at every stage of the cannabis production chain.

Yet, the report's workplace safety recommendations appear to be squarely focused on "impairment," which is very important for the many retail workers who will soon light the way for front-end consumers in this rapidly budding industry, but it's a bit hazy how this focus will apply to the many other workers who grow and harvest the product.

As Canada's union for retail, food manufacturing and agriculture workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are well acquainted with the health and safety threats experienced by cannabis workers in the production stage, particularly in jurisdictions like Ontario, where little to no industrial health and safety regulations currently exist for the agriculture industry.

Laws in these jurisdictions must be strengthened to address labour concerns and conditions commonly found in the cannabis industry such as working in confined spaces and preventative measures to safeguard against occupational hazards caused by prolonged exposure to grow-lights, fertilizers and pesticides.

In the case of Ontario, where more than 60 per cent of the country's licensed producers and distribution operators are based, agriculture workers continue to be denied the right to join a union, which is a major factor in the tremendous precariousness and vulnerability of the province’s agricultural workforce. Connected to all of that, of course, is the grim reality that agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, with some of the highest fatality and injury rates year after year.

Workers who grow, harvest and transport the vegetables, fruits and livestock we consume should have the right to free collective bargaining. The burgeoning cannabis industry workers are no different.

In the United States, UFCW is proud to represent cannabis workers in a number of jurisdictions, including those where the use of recreational marijuana is legalized.

UFCW members south of the border work in dispensaries, coffee shops, bakeries, patient identification centers, hydroponic stores and growing and training facilities. Workers in the cannabis industry have ratified some of the strongest collective agreements in any industry, which include pension plans, health and welfare benefits, fair wages, and full protection of labour rights.

The federal government must seize this opportunity to lead by making workers rights a priority when discussing the future of the cannabis industry in Canada. It is imperative that strong health and safety laws be put into place to ensure safer and healthier workplaces. As well, the government should do its part to address the employment and labour conditions for all agriculture workers in Canada. No worker should be denied their rights regardless of where they work.

Paul Meinema is the National President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada). Paul's union activism spans four decades, proudly serving UFCW members and private-sector workers as a union organizer, negotiator, trustee and elected leader since the early 1980s.
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by papapuff » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:22 pm

Huffington Post Canada



Liam Massaubi
Repeat entrepreneur, investor and Aboriginal business consultant.


First Nations Should Explore Cashing In On Legal Cannabis

Posted: 01/04/2017

When people hear of First Nation communities, it is usually about a crisis, casinos or mind-blowing poverty conveniently hidden away in one of the world's richest continents. Or it is about on-reserve tobacco production, ranging from criticism of the supposed "free ride" for Indigenous people all the way to claims of organized crime and fraudulent production and sales. There is usually little painted positively, even though the success of businesses in some First Nation communities are truly impressive.

The emerging legalization of marijuana is an opportunity for continued and new business success in First Nation communities. As different parts of the U.S. have started legalizing the sale of marijuana (and Canada is on its way), cannabis capitalists are flocking to invest in dispensaries and other marijuana-related projects.

The marijuana industry is projected to reach $15.2B by 2020. It is attracting high profile investors like Peter Thiel, big corporations and musicians. You know there is money to be made and this is serious business when even Shopper's Drug Mart has applied to sell you marijuana.

This means that First Nation communities that do consider marijuana production and/or sales may face some of the challenges and accusations they have already experienced through production and sales of tobacco.

A quote by Dave Bryans of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) notes a new study that shows an increase in smokers' use of contraband tobacco in Ontario, stating that 32.8 per cent of the cigarette butts collected in the study were from illegal sources -- an increase of eight per cent from 2015.

"There are dozens of cigarette factories on reserves and an underground system of gangs to bring the product to buyers, including underage smokers," he states.

Bryans goes on to say that the continuing spread of illegal tobacco use should be a cautionary tale as the country moves to legalized marijuana. "It would not take much effort for factories now churning out illegal cigarettes to focus on pot production," he says.

In the article, Mr. Bryans feeds into stereotypes of Indigenous people, including that they are criminal and dishonest. He also neglects to mention that First Nation tobacco companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes per year.

I see his argument more as intended to protect his organization's piece of the pie under the guise of protecting youth and citizens -- taking the moral high ground of keeping organized crime in check.

The cautionary tale that I see is that the criticisms and attacks on Indigenous people used by large businesses and those representing Big Tobacco are likely to be the same that will be used to oppose First Nation production or sale of marijuana.

However, First Nation communities can begin now to get a sense of what they will need to address for entry into the field and to understand where opposition will come from. A good starting point is the discussion paper "Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana" on the Government of Canada website.

The federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation has signalled that their work, expected to be posted online in a final report in December, has been guided by the discussion paper. If that is so, it is highly likely that the approach noted in the discussion paper for "some form of private sector production with appropriate government licensing and oversight" will be the model chosen.

Any successful private-sector operation will have to address the areas noted in the discussion paper, including safe and responsible production and distribution, education and awareness, prevention/education activities and minimizing the harms of use. These may seem daunting, but there are already examples of where First Nation communities are demonstrating capacity to be stakeholders and leaders in what is ultimately big business.

For example, the Wahgoshig First Nation and an Ontario company called DelShen Therapeutics are converting a former forestry operation into a facility that will grow "pharmaceutical-grade" pot. The entire operation is expected to cost $18 million. In a press release, chief David Babin said the First Nation has chipped in $2 million of that cost.

First Nation communities in addition to Wahgoshig, such as the Penticton Band in British Columbia and Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, have explored production of medical marijuana for economic development to benefit their communities.

First Nation communities have some of the highest unemployment rates in North America. A major reason why is that many reservations are located far from jobs. Production and/or sale of marijuana will create local jobs for many who are in desperate need right now, but have nowhere in the community to work and/or who do not want to be transplanted away from their families, traditions and history in order to earn a living.

The jobs that can be created around marijuana are endless, including growing the plants themselves, creating marijuana products, security, distribution, cafes, retail and more. If the state of Colorado legalizing marijuana has showed us anything, it is that profits and the boost to the local economy is rapid.

With increased tourism, visits and business from the outside world, there are also possibilities for stronger relationships and understandings of First Nation culture.

The time for First Nation entrepreneurs to take advantage of the marijuana boom has never been better, and the resources are already there. They may have to face some others with vested interests raising the spectre that First Nation communities will somehow be a hot bed of organized crime if they enter the legalized marijuana field, but I can only say I trust most people would see through this. They will recognize that profits might actually go back into First Nation communities to lift them out of poverty, rather than into the pockets and profit of big business.

It will be important for First Nation communities who enter this industry to do good business, and make it count for their communities.
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by papapuff » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:33 am

Mondaq News Alerts



Canada: Why Short-Sightedness May Cost Marijuana Dispensaries A Fortune

Last Updated: January 9 2017
Article by Matt Maurer

The Federal Government has indicated that it intends to table recreational marijuana legislation by the spring of 2017. As we all know, politicians never break promises or deadlines. Even if the legislation is tabled in the spring it is widely anticipated that the changes will not be implemented overnight, with some predicting that the Canadian recreational marijuana market may not be fully open and legal until as late as 2019.

The recent release of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation's report has created significant buzz about many aspects of what Canada's new legislation regarding recreational marijuana may look like. The Task Force has made recommendations regarding, among other things, production, distribution, and limitations as to where cannabis may be sold. What they have not done is address how the government ought to handle previous convictions of possession, trafficking and production of marijuana that occur prior to the new legislation coming into force.

Currently, the only legal access to marijuana is for medical purposes in accordance with an exception found under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The only legal way to acquire medical marijuana is via mail order.

Despite this, cities and towns across Canada are seeing an increasing number of dispensaries open up shop. Even though it appears that the majority of these dispensaries will not sell without a medical prescription, and although many follow strict security protocols, in reality these dispensaries are operating illegally with many hoping to just "skirt by" until recreational marijuana is legalized. As indicated above, this might not be until 2019. Two years seems like an awfully long time to operate an illegal business while hoping not to be subject to criminal charges.

Current dispensary owners and operators looking to the future without considering the present face a significant risk of being criminally charged and, as a result, being potentially shut out of a multi-billion dollar recreational marijuana market before it has even begun.

While we cannot know with certainty what the new legislation will look like until it is released, the best bet for insights is to look to the existing Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. We believe that the federal government is likely to borrow heavily from the Regulations, which came into force in August, 2016 and address many of the shortcomings of previous medicinal marijuana regulations.

Under the Regulations, licensed producers may possess, produce, sell, provide, ship, deliver, transport and destroy marijuana and cannabis oil. In order to apply for a producer's license eligible persons (an adult ordinarily residing in Canada or a corporation with a head office in Canada) must submit lengthy applications including, but not limited to, proposed activities, sites, security measures and record-keeping methods.

Under the Regulations, the Minister must refuse to issue a producer's license if the applicant contravened a provision of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, its regulations, or the Food and Drugs Act within 10 years prior to the date of the application.

Running dispensaries illegally certainly runs afoul of the provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Dispensary operators across Canada have been arrested during police raids for offences such as marijuana possession, trafficking and possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime. Police in major cities have stated they have no intention on stopping, as raids continue even with legalization on the horizon.

If the new legalized recreational marijuana legislation has similar provisions to the existing Regulations with respect to grounds for refusal of a license, dispensary owners could face serious ramifications for non-compliance with the current law. Previous convictions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act could preclude current dispensary owners from obtaining licenses under the legal marijuana regime.

Current dispensary owners and operators who want a stake in the legal marijuana market would be well served to seek legal advice and evaluate preventative options before they have been raided and charged, by which time it may be too late. Diligent planning and corporate legal structuring could go a long way to ensuring that current dispensary owners do not get shut out of the multi-billion dollar legal marijuana industry once it finally arrives.

Originally published on Slaw by litigator Matt Maurer and Student-at-Law Whitney Abrams.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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by papapuff » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:14 pm

theglobeandmail.com



Canada’s marijuana industry needs innovation to thrive, not protection

FRANCES WOOLLEY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017

Frances Woolley is a professor of economics at Carleton University

The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation did not say, “create a marijuana marketing board.” Yet its recommendations would, if implemented, effectively impose a supply management system on cannabis. Suppliers would be licensed, and subject to production limits. These controls would be set so as to “align supply with likely demand.”

A marijuana marketing board would protect existing producers, and keep prices high. For the Task Force, this was precisely the point. They wanted to encourage “market diversity,” create “a space for smaller-scale production” and prevent “the development of monopolies or large conglomerates.”

The Task Force had good reasons to be concerned about small-scale growers. Producers squeezed out of the legal market might continue to produce and sell illegally, carving out a niche by offering a tax-free product and targeting underserved markets, such as youth and after-hours sales. One of the most important goals on the marijuana legalization agenda is keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth. Driving small producers underground could subvert that goal.

Yet, ultimately, a legal marijuana market based on small-scale production is doomed to failure. Absent severe penalties for illicit production, legal marijuana cannot compete with illegally produced weed on a price per gram basis. Legal “craft cannabis” growers will be producing essentially the same product, and using essentially the same technology, as reputable illicit dealers. Yet they will incur costs underground producers can avoid, such as payroll taxes, licensing fees, and regulatory compliance costs. What’s more, legal marijuana will be taxed. Suppliers of illicit weed will win any price war.

Legal producers can only out-compete illicit ones through the creation of high-quality, branded cannabis products. Fortunately, there is enormous scope for “upselling” and product differentiation in the marijuana industry. Cannabis differs, at a fundamental level, from drugs such as alcohol or tobacco. The various marijuana strains produce quite different “highs.” Ones with high levels of the cannabinoid CBD have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties, while those with more THC have stronger psychoactive effects, producing a “stoned” feeling.

Innovative U.S. companies are producing products such as Mr. Moxey’s Ginger Mints, with a high CDB/low THC cannabinoid blend that leaves your breath and perspective refreshed. They are differentiating their offerings by creating lower-potency products, such as Crescendo’s white chocolate THC truffles (with fresh lemon and a hint of juniper berries). It is the availability of these kinds of products that will induce buyers to switch to the legal market.

Yet building and branding a high-quality product requires research and development, investment in processing facilities, and money for marketing. Moreover, if marijuana processing is in any way similar to the processing of beer, tobacco, or other foods and beverages, it will be subject to economies of scale. Large producers, and ones with capital to invest, will be able to make a higher-quality product at a lower cost than smaller ones.

So, if the legal marijuana market is to be successful, it cannot entrench and protect existing suppliers. Out-competing the illicit market requires that consumers be able to access the best possible products at a competitive price. Suppliers who sell products consumers want to buy need to be able to expand at the expense of less efficient ones. Depending upon the technology of marijuana production, that might lead to the legal marijuana market being dominated by a few large producers.

Basically, marijuana regulators face a trade-off between protecting inefficient producers and raising revenue. Canadians will not be willing to pay more for legal marijuana than it would cost to obtain a comparable product elsewhere. When producers’ costs are relatively high, governments will have to impose lower taxes, because otherwise consumers will not buy in the legal market.

If the recommendations of the Task Force are implemented, the trade-off between raising revenue and protecting producers will become particularly acute, because Canadians will be allowed up to four plants per residence for personal use. This is why a marijuana marketing board may fail where milk marketing boards have succeeded: it is much easier to grow one’s own weed than produce one’s own cheese. Home production seriously limits any marketing board’s ability to protect producers and control supply.

The idea that marijuana legalization will lead to large-scale job creation, and big revenue windfalls, is a pipe dream. The legal market has to be efficient to out-compete illicit production, and efficiency is as likely to kill jobs as create them. The revenue raising possibilities of marijuana are strictly limited. The stronger argument for marijuana legalization is simply this: Canadians will be able to enjoy better-quality drugs.
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by papapuff » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:12 pm

Langley Times



Is Langley and Canada going to (legalized) pot?

by Troy Landreville - Langley Times
Langley posted Jan 13, 2017

Legalizing marijuana in Canada – once passed off as a pipe dream – appears to be gaining traction.

And in the wake of a 106-page report drafted by a federal task force on legalized recreational marijuana, advocates aren’t just blowing smoke.

The study containing more than 80 recommendations gives shape to a Liberal promise to the legalize recreational pot consumption and sales, with safeguards in place to restrict youth access and choke off the illicit market that fuels criminal enterprises.

The task force is recommending storefront and mail-order sales to Canadians 18 years and older, with personal growing limits of four plants per person.

Headed by former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, the report also notes that recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco, and that production should be monitored with a "seed-to-sale tracking system,” to prevent diversions to the black market.

It also leaves retail pot sellers, who have defied the criminal law to open medical marijuana "dispensaries,” well positioned, especially in cities like Vancouver that have already regulated them.

"I very much expect those dispensaries to continue to transition into the fully legal system as this goes forward," said dispensary owner Dana Larsen. "The question is where we get our supply from. I'm not opposed to buying cannabis from licensed producers if our current suppliers can become licensed."

Langley businessman Randy Caine hopes the task force’s recommendations will open honest dialogue.

Caine, 62, is the founder and owner of three HEMPYZ Gift and Novelties shops and also ran a Langley medical marijuana dispensary.

He opened his first HEMPYZ store in 2008 and expanded to a second outlet in 2011, both in Langley, before adding a third location in White Rock in 2012.

“It’s more the decriminalizing (of pot) rather than the legalization; I think that’s something that we really need to understand right away,” Caine said. “What they’ve determined, even within (the context of) harm reduction, is we need to look at these things… as a social health issue. For me, that’s the most relevant issue that’s come forward with this task force.”

Caine said “decriminalization is what we’ve done now, which is really quite wonderful.”

“It’s shifting the whole paradigm and thought,” Caine added. “Criminalizing somebody (for possession of cannabis) also leads to the dehumanizing of people. We’re now able to look at it (marijuana) in more of a humanizing way, which is how are we going to make it better for people than criminalizing, which will make it worse for people. So it’s a tremendous paradigm shift.”

Caine said he’s been a marijuana user most of his life, “which has meant that I’ve been an outlaw for 50 years of my life.”

His hope, seeing that these terms are now “so clearly defined,” is that municipalities — including both the City and Township of Langley — will be able to move forward with drafting regulations in the form of bylaws and local controls.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Caine said. “I’d like to believe that, socially, there’s some consensus that prohibition or criminalization has not benefited anybody.”

Caine enthusiastically promotes public consultation, in the form of initiatives such as forums and online questionnaires.

“This is going to create an opportunity to create binding regulations that will actually be better for the community,” Caine said. “Criminal sanctions haven’t worked; financial sanctions, that’s what keeps corner store (merchants) from not selling cigarettes to kids. Not that they’re going to go to jail, but they’re going to lose their store.”

To those who argue that legalizing pot will make another harmful drug accessible, along with alcohol, Caine has this to say: “It’s always been accessible, but the access people have had has been through criminal association. Whether you believe, rightly or wrongly, if a person ought to be using, what this is going to to do is resolve a lot of social ills, not just for the user but for the non user. It has tremendous relevance for all of us in our communities.”

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris called the report “comprehensive,” adding that the framework it outlines for legalizing cannabis in Canada will have many ramifications for B.C.

“We will take time to thoroughly review it and the 80 recommendations within it,” Morris said.

“First and foremost, we will approach our review with a public health and safety lens.”

Morris said the B.C. government’s foremost concerns are about keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, curbing drug-impaired driving and addressing any “implications that legalization may have for our continued efforts to end gun and gang violence on our streets, which is largely driven by the illicit drug trade.”

The minister noted that Canada has an unprecedented opportunity to pioneer national cannabis legalization while better protecting people under 18, those who consume cannabis for medical and other reasons, and other people from the potential implications of that broadened access.

Liberal MP John Aldag (Langley City-Cloverdale) said Canada’s illegal marijuana trade is a $6 billion, “perhaps higher” industry.

“The whole premise behind this is to take that cash out out of the hands of organized crime and to legitimize a substance that as we know in B.C. is everywhere in our communities,” Aldag said.

Aldag pointed out that Canadian teens have the highest use of marijuana consumption in the westernized world.

“So the sense is, by actually legitimizing it and putting better controls in place, we’ll be able to make it more difficult than it is right now (for teens to access it),” Aldag said.

Another aspect, Aldag noted, is with regards to the illegal marijuana trade, nobody really knows the level of THC or the amount of contaminants that’s being added to the pot.

“There will be some quality controls in the adult recreational market,” he said.

Potential legislation will also streamline and clean up the medical marijuana industry, Aldag added.

Conservative MP Mark Warawa has concerns about the study.

“The report and the recommendations are based on politics and not what’s good for country,” said Warawa, the MP for the Langley-Aldergrove riding.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows even occasional use of marijuana can cause serious negative psychological effects, Warawa said.

He also opposes setting the legal age of marijuana possession and use at 18.

“Why do that? Well, political reasons,” Warawa said.

The study recommends a personal possession limit of 30 grams, which Warawa says is excessive.

“How much is 30 grams? Thirty grams is 60 joints. So the government is saying you you can be 18 years old and walking around with 60 joints that’s worth $300, $400 in your pocket and that being legal. That’s very concerning.”

Warawa added, “I don't understand why the government would want to encourage an 18-year-old to walk around with 60 joints, smoke some, sell or share lots, and then drive a car. It appears the government doesn’t care about the health consequences on our youth or on public safety of those driving a car.”
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