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Feds' marijuana task force rules out storefront weed

by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:13 pm

PC government isn't ready to answer pot questions

Manitoba wants more time to review recommendations on regulations for legal weed

By Sean Kavanagh, CBC News Posted: Dec 13, 2016

Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson says she welcomes a report to the federal government on legalizing marijuana, but that doesn't mean the Progressive Conservative government has an opinion on it yet.

A task force has made 80 recommendations to the Liberal government on how to go forward with the legalization of pot, including suggestions about who can consume it, where it can be purchased and how it's packaged.

In a hastily put together news conference, Stefanson admitted the province was just starting to review the recommendations and is looking to Ottawa to be more specific about its plans for legislation.

"We need to focus on ensuring there is direction. The next stage on this is from the federal government. We need to get some clarity on that," Stefanson said.

Stefanson said there are many issues that are unresolved, from potency to packaging and where pot might be sold, and she is hoping the federal government doesn't rush it.

Manitoba to Ottawa on pot: Slow down

"We are hoping that they don't move forward too quickly in terms of introducing legislation on this until we get clarity on certain matters, especially when it comes to things like impaired driving and so on," Stefanson said.

That position is what Premier Brian Pallister has spoken about publicly in recent weeks.

The province has established an internal task force made up of several government departments, including Health, Justice, Agriculture and Crown Services, as well as Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Stefanson said. The government will look closely at both the federal recommendations and what's been learned by officials and stakeholders in Manitoba, she said.

"We are going to get this right. This is a very important issue facing Manitobans and indeed Canadians, so we are going to review those recommendations. We will establish a distribution mechanism here. We will work with a task force internally here, and we will work with stakeholders across the province."

Offiicials in the previous NDP government leaned toward selling marijuana using staff trained to recognize intoxicated people, prohibit underage use and inform customers of the risks.

Stefanson could not be specific on the provincial government's position on whether it would restrict the sale of marijuana near schools or whether legalized pot should be sold in generic packaging.

The most important goals for the province are to protect children and youth from exposure to the product, minimize harm to users and keep impaired drivers off the roads, she said.

Manitoba also needs to work with the other provinces to get the rules harmonized as much as possible, Stefanson said.
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by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:42 pm

Nanaimo News Bulletin

Battle over future of legal marijuana in B.C. just starting

by Jeff Nagel - BC Local News
B.C. posted Dec 13, 2016

A federal task force's road map to legalize recreational marijuana sales would leave the problem of exactly how pot dealing should be regulated to the B.C. government.

The 80 recommendations released Tuesday urge separate retail storefronts to sell pot, rather than allowing sales through existing liquor stores or outlets that sell tobacco, but what form retailing should take would be left to the provinces, presumably in consultation with municipalities.

It 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."

It's yet to be seen how the Trudeau government will translate the recommendations into federal legislation to meet the election campaign promise to legalize pot.

The B.C. government has given little sign so far of where it leans on exercising provincial jurisdiction over legal pot.

Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said government officials have been studying the issue and said the province's top priority will be public health and safety, including the protection of children and curbing drug-impaired driving.

"It's early in the process," Morris said. "Whatever tax regime we bring in we have to make sure that it's not going to promote the illicit distribution of cannabis across British Columbia or Canada."

He said existing dispensary operators will have to conform to whatever final regulations are set by the province. "I can see many of them shutting down."

NDP MLA Mike Farnworth accused the B.C. Liberal government of failing to consult the public sooner.

He said outstanding questions include whether the province would share any pot revenue it gets with municipalities.

"There are key questions around what the kinds of products are that can be sold," Farnworth said. "In Washington State you can only sell dry edibles, but in Oregon you can sell a much broader range – ice cream, for example."

Would the province allow municipalities that don't want legal marijuana outlets at all to refuse them?

"I think that will be a debate," said B.C. lawyer and pot reform advocate Kirk Tousaw. "Municipalities are going to react to these things in different ways. This is a step and there are battles to come. And that is probably one of them."

Tousaw said the proposed framework is generally "a win" for all involved, particularly established dispensaries and licensed producers.

But he took issue with some proposed regulations.

Home growers would be allowed to grow up to four plants up to 100 cm tall themselves for personal use. Tousaw called that limit arbitrary with no logic behind it.

"You can grow one plant two feet tall with hundreds of branches under a giant net that never reaches 100 centimetres tall but produces more cannabis than 50 plants," he said.

And a proposed 30-gram limit for personal possession is at odds with the fact there is no such limit for alcohol, Tousaw added.

"You can back a pickup truck up to a liquor store and buy enough booze to kill a small town."

The task force calls for tight regulation of cultivation for commercial sale to track product from seed to sale, to keep it from entering the black market and to allow for health-based recalls.

That would appear to undermine the dream of pot reform advocates for much more liberal policies that favour new startups, not just big corporate producers.

Tousaw said he still hopes an exemption could be created for small craft growers to sell their pot the way wineries do in their on-site stores or at farmers markets.

The report calls for more work with the provinces to determine how legal pot would be taxed, with an equitable distribution of revenues.

It recommends that more potent high-THC pot be sold at higher prices or with extra taxes.

Larsen said Ottawa must not go so far as to kill the industry before it gets off the ground.

"The main way to solve most of the problems with cannabis prohibition is to make sure legal cannabis is cheaper than it is now," he said. "If they try to tax it too much, if they try to put extra taxes on high potency marijuana and things like that, it just perpetuates the black market."
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by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:37 pm

Calgary Herald

Locals high on Ottawa's marijuana legalization guidelines

Published on: December 13, 2016

Federal recommendations on legalizing cannabis are planting sturdy policy seeds, say local authorities.

Task force suggestions that provinces and municipalities have considerable control of how marijuana is produced and sold, that it not be purchased in liquor stores, and buyers be at least 18 years of age, drew good reviews from Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley.

“It makes it a little bit better for Alberta because it makes it a model other provinces are developing,” said Ganley of the recommendation pot be sold in shops other than liquor stores.

She said a minimum age of 18 is a realistic one given most of the drug’s users now start in their teens with illegal cannabis.

“If you’re trying to bring the illegal market to a legal market, you need to bring the majority of those people along with you,” said Ganley.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi was cautiously receptive of a four-plant home grow limit and retail recommendations but said he’s leery about legalization as well as many unknowns in the unfolding cannabis policy.

“We really needed this federal government framework in place but we will continue to engage with the province on the stuff that impacts the city,” said Nenshi.

“It’s complicated stuff and whether or not you are in favour of legalization — I’m not sure that I am — the city nonetheless has to be ready for it.”

The city still has to work out details with the province on how the drug is retailed, said the mayor.

A city official who’s been forced to shut down dozens of cannabis grow operations due partly to fire safety and health violations said the four-plant limit is modest enough to reduce those problems.

“It really is about the number of plants when we have an issue with humidity that leads to mould … with a small number of plants those concerns are going to be lessened,” said Wayne Brown, of the city’s building regulations office.

But those who operate Alberta’s private liquor stores say they fear the federal report will leave them unfairly shut out of selling pot.

The industry is well-prepared to assume that responsibility, said Ivonne Martinez, Alberta Liquor Store Association president.

“It ignores the solid track record Alberta’ private liquor retailers have earned when it comes to responsible sale of controlled substances,” she said, adding the group will continue lobbying its position.

Drug law reform advocate Keith Fagin said the blueprint’s a positive step, particularly its call for quality control, cannabis lounges and greater education.

But he said limitations to home growing could be a problem.

“One fly in the ointment is the amount of plants allowed and the grow height of a metre,” said Fagin, executive director of the group Calgary 420.

A large cannabis grower that is making Alberta the centre of its production efforts said the recommendations bode well for consumers and suppliers.

“This is very positive — there’s a lot of meaty and important stuff here,” said Cam Battley, executive vice-president of Aurora Cannabis Inc.

If adopted, the guidelines would only strengthen the company’s plans to open a second large grow operation in Alberta next year that would employ a further 200 people, he said.

Aurora already runs a 55,000 sq. ft. growing facility northwest of Calgary that’s created about 80 jobs.

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by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:41 pm

Federal pot recommendations draw mostly positive reviews in B.C.





Published on: December 13, 2016

Recommendations released Tuesday by the federal panel on legalizing recreational marijuana were greeted positively, if cautiously, by B.C. businesses with a stake in the issue.

The committee is recommending Canadians 18 years and older be allowed to buy marijuana in stores or online, or grow their own with a limits of four plants a person.

The committee, headed by former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, says recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco, and there should be diversity of production beyond the small number of existing, licensed medical-marijuana producers.

It recommends that commercial production should be monitored with a “seed-to-sale tracking system” to prevent diversions to the black market.

For Vancouver’s existing dispensaries operating under the city’s grey-zone licensing system, the recommendations appears to give them an opening to keep operating under federal regulations as storefront retail locations.

“We are very, very pleased, very, very happy,” said Jessika Villano, manager of the Buddha Barn, a non-profit compassion club dispensary at 2179 West 4th Ave. in Kitsilano. “It means there will continue to be a very safe place for our customers to come to.

“We were concerned liquor stores might be allowed to distribute cannabis. We’re medicinal, not on the recreational side, and we would have hated to see that happen.”

Buddha Barn, which got its Vancouver business license in October, has been in operation for three years. It is a non-profit dispensary, meaning its license cost $1,000.

For-profit dispensaries pay $30,000 for a business license.

“And it’s great it’s not being packaged up with tobacco,” Villano said. “Cannabis has its own energy. You can’t compare it to alcohol or tobacco.

“We were nervous, scared, and now ultimately we’ll see exactly where goes in the provincial election. I feel like it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

Kerry Jang, a Vancouver city councillor, called the federal recommendations “mostly positive” and said he appreciated that it upheld the city’s right to distance pot shops from schools, community centres and other shops,

But Jang took fault with a recommendation that recreational pot could be grown at home, noting that would be under the regulation or control of the local government.

“They don’t say how we’re going to pay for that,” Jang said. “All we see in the report so far is they’ll work on ‘capacity building,’ but we don’t know what that means. We’re going to be very aware of any downloading of … the policing costs or enforcement costs from the new legislation.”

The federal panel also recommended the sale of edible marijuana products, as long as they are not packaged to target children.

That’s important, Villano said, because a lot of sick people are not able to prepare their own edibles.

“And having deliveries allowed, that’s amazing as well.”

She said Buddha Barn has one customer in the Discovery Islands who has MS and just recently got diagnosed with cancer.

“She lives on her own, the chances of her making it to Vancouver are very, very slim, but we can’t deliver right now or we’d lose our licence.”

But one critic called the recommendations reckless.

“This is going to take out a generation,” said Pamela McColl of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an advocacy group that opposes legalizing cannabis for fear it will get into the hands of children. “We are going to find a way to sue them.”

She compared the potential harm to people under 25 to damage thalidomide caused Canadian babies in the early 1960s.

“It’s exactly the same, as far as case law. This is a disaster for the country.”

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Morris said the province is reviewing the federal report and it is too soon to know how marijuana might be sold here.

He said B.C. would focus on safety as its guiding priority in establishing provincial rules.

“We’re looking at the distribution part for the provincial government,” he said. “The thing that’s foremost in mind for us is the health of British Columbians. We want to make sure that this is a healthy product for everybody and that everybody is safe in using this. ”

The Ministry of Finance is calculating the potential revenue that could flow to B.C. from a marijuana tax. But Morris had no specifics.

“Whatever tax regime that we bring in, we have to make sure that it’s not going to promote the illicit distribution of cannabis across B.C. or Canada. So it’s pretty early in the process. I don’t know what the tax regime is going to look and what kind of revenues are going to be generated from that.”

Morris said he wasn’t even sure B.C. could raise enough money in taxes to cover the costs of increased enforcement and health services.

The government will also “have to be mindful” of the federal report’s recommendation that marijuana not be sold with tobacco or alcohol, where possible, said Morris.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union had proposed selling marijuana inside government liquor stores.

Morris rejected the idea that local governments might be on the hook for costs associated with enforcing bylaws on marijuana.

“We’re looking at provincial legislation that’s going to deal with the distribution of cannabis within the province,” he said.

“So there will be provincial responsibilities. The bylaw issue for local government could extend to exactly what they have in place now: location, zoning and those types of things. But I don’t see an added burden on municipal governments.”

Some pharmacies also see a role for their outlets to play.

“You already have, in a nutshell, a very sophisticated and closed loop system within the pharmacy channel to ensure the safety of (marijuana),” said John Tse, vice-president of pharmacy at Richmond-headquartered London Drugs.

London Drugs hasn’t taken a position on the recommendations for recreational distribution, Tse said, because too many of the details are unknown. However, he said pharmacies would be able to plug in ready-made procedures and professional knowledge to help in the control of recreational use.

Tse said his company supports recommendations that sales of recreational marijuana be restricted to those over 18, or aligned with a province’s age limits for tobacco or alcohol use, and that provinces be involved in the regulation of distribution.

“The security of our supply chain is already in place nationally,” Tse said. “Chain of custody (with pharmacies), that’s already in place. Reportability, that’s already in place.”

Tse argued that London Drugs pharmacies shouldn’t be ruled out of the sales equation although the company’s stores still sell tobacco.

B.C.’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, was on the panel that wrote the federal report and said recommending the age of 18 for marijuana legalization was a pragmatic compromise between health research and the reality that young people are demographically the largest user.

“If you look at who is smoking cannabis, it is largely youth and tends to peak between the ages of 20 and 25,” he said.

“So banning smoking by the age group 19 to 25, who are the heaviest users and smoke most of it, is basically going to criminalize them all. You don’t want people who are ignoring the laws but neither do you want drive them to the black market.

“Pragmatically it made sense to put it at the age of majority.”

Though the federal report recommends a minimum age of 18, Kendall said B.C. should choose 19 because it aligns with the current legal age for alcohol consumption.

“You could always move it up over time,” he said. “I’d like to see the age of tobacco moved up to the age of 21.”

B.C.’s College of Physicians and Surgeons recommends doctors who prescribe medical marijuana only do so for patients older than 25, who don’t have a personal history or family history of psychosis, aren’t pregnant, and who don’t have an active substance abuse issue.

The Canadian Medical Association doesn’t recommend prescribing marijuana at all, until there’s better evidence.

Kendall more research needs to be done on the health effects.

“I would say the evidence is really less than clear,” he said.

“However, there is evidence that the earlier age at which you start smoking cannabis and the more you smoke, the less well they do in society and school. But, probably, the same thing goes for alcohol.”

Kendall said psychoactive substances, like cannabis, could precipitate a psychotic break in someone with a developing mental health issue.

The federal report argued against the idea of selling marijuana alongside tobacco and alcohol.

While it may ultimately be up to the B.C. government on where to sell it, Kendall said he’s made a strong recommendation to the province against the use of public liquor stores.

“We think the alcohol model is really a commercial one, promoting alcohol,” he said. “Putting it a liquor store would really turn it into a commercialized, promotional market, and also potentially encourage the co-use of the two substances, which is not desirable.”

He noted none of the other provinces or U.S. states allow the co-sale of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.

Kendall also said the report’s recommendations for clear packaging and labelling for edible cannabis products would mean less options than seen in some U.S. states.

“If you are going to have edibles it’s not the whole range of edibles you can see in Colorado and Washington,” he said.
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by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:29 pm

Vancouver Sun

Ian Mulgrew: Marijuana recommendations change focus to provincial regulation


Published on: December 13, 2016

The political debate about cannabis regulation matured into adulthood Tuesday with the release of a federal report on marijuana legalization.

After a year-long study, nine Liberal appointees made more than 80 recommendations with nary a snigger to frame the legal regulatory regime for the recreational use of pot.

Leave the Cheech and Chong jokes in the vape-room; it’s no longer about cracking wise over slacker potheads.

It’s now a serious discussion about policy choices and legislative reform to end the 1923 criminal prohibition of cannabis.

The key ideas in their thoughtful 106-page document are that purchase and use should be restricted to adults 18 and over, there should be provision for personal growing of pot, advertising and promotion should be restricted as with tobacco, and workplace and driving laws need to be updated.

Among the underlying themes were keeping pot products out of the hands of children and providing evidence for policy discussions around addiction, health and social concerns.

None of this was dramatic considering a handful of U.S. jurisdictions have already blazed a trail on legalization and more are following their lead.

But it was a refreshing attempt to push the Canadian conversation about drugs towards verifiable data and away from ideological cant on both sides.

Unsurprisingly, the report said the present medical marijuana program will remain unchanged but may need tweaking depending on the final face of the new legalization scheme.

On the other issues, the experts, who volunteered their time, made suggestions that generally have broad support among the cannabis cognoscenti.

They believe well-regulated production, distribution and taxation can displace the massive illegal market. Getting the profits out of the pockets of organized crime is a major goal.

But the devil will be in the details of the distribution programs and the tax rates.

I thought the most controversial point was panel chair Anne McClellan’s urging of continued enforcement of the criminal laws until new legislation is in place.

Those exploiting the transition period to legalization have led to the “establishment and proliferation of illegal activities,” the report noted.

Stand right up Vancouver City council and the brazen “dispensaries” earning windfall profits along with their black-market “suppliers”!

Be that as it may, it seems unfair to me and begs a constitutional challenge about the unequal and capricious enforcement of the law when you can laugh all the way to the bank here but in Toronto or Nelson end up in jail.

The suggestion that production remain for the time being in the hands of federally licensed corporations producing medicinal cannabis will irk some, too.

Yet that’s why the stock market jumped.

Such an approach would be a huge boon to the fledgling industry — offering it privileged access to a burgeoning market while also allowing it to offer a broader range of products.

Across this province, expect the many guerrilla gardeners and their passionate customers to lobby for small-scale production offering unique products similar to farm-gate wine operations.

The task force acknowledged that.

“We heard from a great many parties that they wanted a diversity of producers, and we agree with that,” chair McClellan said.

That’s why the focus turns now to the provincial and territorial governments that will create and oversee the distribution networks.

They will decide what legal cannabis looks like at street level.

Already, this report rejects proposals from Ontario and B.C. to piggyback cannabis on existing public-sector liquor operations on the basis that alcohol and cannabis sales should be kept separate.

The “dispensaries” movement will be happy with that.

The linchpin, however, will be tax rates.

Experience in the U.S. shows that if legal cannabis is taxed too heavily, the subterranean market continues to flourish.

When all this change will happen is unclear.

The federal government promised legislation this spring. But that must go through the parliamentary process while each provinces must also write interlocking legislation and create a distribution system.

There remains a lot of work to be done to correct a near century-old mistake.
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by papapuff » Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:42 pm

CTV News

Decriminalizing pot would only help organized crime: Blair


Daniel Otis, Writer

Published Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Decriminalizing marijuana in advance of full legalization would only aid organized crime, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair told CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday.

“Decriminalization doesn’t achieve any of the public purpose aims of reducing the social or health harms of marijuana use,” the current Scarborough-Southwest Liberal MP added. “It makes it easier for kids to access. It facilitates the criminal market.”

Blair was responding to NDP calls to decriminalize cannabis. The NDP states that it is unfair for Canadians to receive criminal records for recreational pot use when full legalization is on the horizon.

Blair, who serves as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has been tasked with implementing the Liberal government’s campaign promise to legalize pot.

On Tuesday, a federal task force released a framework report to help guide that process. Amongst its recommendations, the report suggests storefront and mail-order sales to Canadians over the age of 18. Marijuana is expected to be legal in Canada for recreational use in the spring of 2017.

“I’m really pleased with the work and the very comprehensive way in which they approached a very complex and challenging subject, and I think the recommendations will be very, very helpful to this government as we go forward,” Blair said of the report.

Blair underscored that the report consists of recommendations and is not a blueprint for legalization.

“We want to reduce and restrict the access that children have to marijuana and to take the profits away from organized crime and to take the steps necessary to protect the health of Canadians,” he said. “Right now, the decision to sell marijuana to kids is done by a criminal in a stairwell somewhere. It’s a lot easier for a kid to buy marijuana today than it is to buy tobacco or alcohol.”

Blair, who spent three decades as a police officer before serving as Toronto’s top cop between 2005 and 2015, says he fully supports his government’s stance on cannabis.

“Right now, Canadians, and particularly Canadian youths, use marijuana at higher rates than any other population anywhere in the world,” Blair said. “The current system of prohibition is not helping to keep it away from kids and it is facilitating enormous profits by organized crime – and organized crime is responsible for a lot of the violence and victimization that takes place in our communities.”
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by papapuff » Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:15 am

Times Colonist

Legal pot urged for age 18-plus; Island industry embaces reforms

Katie DeRosa , Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist

DECEMBER 14, 2016

People age 18 and up should be allowed to legally buy marijuana through storefronts and mail-order but probably not in the same locations where alcohol and tobacco are sold, a federal task force is recommending.

Vancouver Island’s cannabis industry is welcoming recommendations from the task force for legalization of marijuana, but the B.C. government is urging Ottawa to proceed with caution.

The task force, headed by former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, recommends allowing dedicated places such as lounges for the consumption of cannabis products, and calls for restrictions on public smoking of tobacco products to extend to cannabis.

The proposed regulations were, for the most part, lauded by former Victoria city councillor Philippe Lucas, now vice-president patient services and research for Tilray, a producer of medical marijuana in Nanaimo.

Marijuana production should be regulated by the federal government by issuing licences, similar to the system used for medical marijuana, the task force report said.

Lucas said he’s pleased to see the task force wants quality control maintained. “Consumers want to know how their food is grown, they want to know how their cannabis is produced and they want to be assured that there’s quality and safety standards in place, and that there’s proper labelling in place.”

Lucas said he “strongly agreed” with the recommendation to separate alcohol and marijuana sales. “We don’t encourage the co-mingling of use of these products,” he said.

However, he said he disagreed with the recommendation that all marijuana products should be in “plain packaging” listing only the company name, strain name, price, potency and warnings. “We really think that branding will help differentiate high-quality products from low-quality products available through the legal system and it provides a better ability to educate consumers.”

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union continues to advocate for the sale of non-medical marijuana through the province’s liquor distribution and retail system. Union president Stephanie Smith said government liquor stores are already an age-controlled environment and staff have a proven track record of checking identification.

Smith said regulating the sale of marijuana will likely fall to the provinces, as is the case with alcohol. “Setting up a completely new parallel system would be incredibly burdensome.”

Mike Morris, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said his ministry will review the 80 recommendations through a “public health and safety lens.”

“Our 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,” Morris said in a statement.

The report said production needs to be monitored with a “seed-to-sale tracking system” to prevent diversions to the black market.

It recommends more study to determine links between THC levels and traffic crashes while developing a national education strategy to stress that cannabis consumption causes impairment. The task force also recommends government support for development of a roadside drug screening device.

Morris said the “report acknowledges that the road to sound public policy and a responsible regulatory framework will be long and is best approached with caution.”

The endorsement of cannabis lounges was exciting news for Ashley Abraham, owner of Victoria’s Green Ceiling, which offers space for pot consumption for $5 an hour.

“It seems they’re recognizing the need for consumption spaces,” Abraham said. “They’re not wanting to mix it with alcohol which is really great for me because that’s been my standpoint, that this is an alternative to the bar scene.”

Green Ceiling has been fined seven times for allowing consumption on site, contrary to the City of Victoria’s regulations for cannabis retailers.

Abraham is disputing the fines and hopes that if the recommendations are adopted by the federal government in the spring, the city will change its bylaws.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said once the province takes over regulation of marijuana distribution, the city will likely scrap its cannabis bylaws. “That way we’ll have a comprehensive approach across the province, not one jurisdiction to one jurisdiction,” Helps said. “Our regulations were meant to fill a vacuum. We were waiting for the federal government to show leadership.”

Trees Dispensary community liaison Alex Robb said he was impressed with the report and hopes the federal government follows through with the recommendations. “I think it’s a very rational approach. I think it’s what many in the medical cannabis community as well as the community of cannabis users would like to see,” Robb said.

Even though the report recommends production of marijuana for recreational purposes follow the system in use for medical marijuana, it urges the federal government to eventually allow “craft” and outdoor production under strict security.

Robb said opening the door to smaller craft producers makes sense and “is a nod to the British Columbia cannabis industry.”

“Ultimately, it’s the same product. People who want it recreationally, they want the same quality as people who want it medically,” Robb said.

— With The Canadian Press

City of Victoria pot bylaws

City of Victoria staff say 24 of the estimated 39 marijuana-related businesses in the city have applied for rezoning.

Under city policies, business licences will not be issued until rezoning has been approved. In the interim, a cannabis retailer may operate while taking steps toward rezoning, but is expected to come into compliance with business licensing requirements, which include: no cannabis consumption on premises, operating hours restricted between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and a maximum of two display signs without images.

Marijuana retailers are also expected to meet strict security and ventilation requirements. No one younger than 19 is permitted on site.

A city spokesperson says the focus has been on gaining compliance from the dispensaries since the regulations came into effect. All have received letters advising them of the regulations and how they will be enforced.

Eight tickets have been have been issued, including seven for consumption on premises — all to Green Ceiling — and one for operating outside of permitted hours.

— Bill Cleverley
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by papapuff » Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:57 am

Don't hold your breath: fully legalized pot could still be years away

Legalizing pot is just the 1st step before the more complex task of regulating its use and sale

By Peter Zimonjic, CBC News Posted: Dec 14, 2016

Legislation to make pot legal will hit the House of Commons come spring, but the day when recreational marijuana becomes officially available to buy across the country could still be years away.

"I think one of the things we were struck by was how complex this transition actually is, and not only in terms of drafting legislation at the federal and provincial levels and putting in place all the infrastructure and training, but the psychological transition," former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan told CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton.

"Going from something that has been prohibited for decades, to a world where it's a legalized product, sold in a regulated market — so the transition is going to be enormous," said McLellan, the chair of the federal government's cannabis task force.

The Department of Justice Canada will first have to embark on a widespread effort to change the Criminal Code and other related federal laws — that effort will kick off in the spring. But what that new law will look like and what kinds of challenges it will face as it moves through Parliament remain a mystery for now.

"This is just the task force report. I mean, obviously it should be influential, but the government could go in a different direction," said Eugene Oscapella, professor of law at the University of Ottawa.

That was certainly the case with the federal government's assisted-dying law. A Commons-Senate committee report tabled in advance of the assisted-dying law called for a much more permissive bill than the Liberal government introduced and passed.

Many are wondering if that could be the case again this time.

"They are going to introduce a bill. Who knows if it's going to buy the recommendations in this report. Please remember it's just recommendations. They might say, 'We like some, we don't like others.' A lot of them are in provincial jurisdiction anyway," said NDP MP Murray Rankin.

Oscapella said the federal government needs to start by sitting down and deciding exactly what parts of the legalization regime will fall under federal jurisdiction and what parts will be provincial.

'A huge practical problem'

Once the federal laws have been changed, Health Canada will have to design a regulatory system for weed, and all this has to happen before the provinces and municipalities figure out how to build a distribution and enforcement system.

"The capacity required to regulate the size of this new market — that is just a huge practical problem that is going to have to be overcome," said Neil Boyd, author of High Society, Legal and Illegal Drugs in Canada and professor of law in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.

Boyd notes that the two main purposes of the move to end cannabis prohibition were to take the market away from organized crime and to keep the drug out of the hands of young people.

But if one province, for example, restricts the sale of weed to a mail order service, while a neighbouring province has a network of retail shops selling the drug, would people start moving it across borders, and if they did, would that be illegal? Or would it simply keep the illegal market open?

Who polices what?

Another concern Boyd raises is the costs of regulation. If regulation increases the price of marijuana well above the current black market price, would cutting out criminals still be possible?

Oscapella said it's one thing to make cannabis legal, but policing the regulations is a separate question. If someone is operating outside those new laws, are they committing a criminal offence, or a regulatory infraction?

If police have reason to believe a person is growing five plants instead of four, as recommended in the task force's report, would police have the same search and seizure powers they do now, or will those have to be changed as well?

These are questions Canada's police forces will want to have answered.

"There has to be a balance between accessibility and control because one objective that we have … is to address the organized crime, to make sure that we can take them away from the distribution and the point of sale as much as possible," said Mario Harel, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

"This balance of accessibility and being able to grow, or to be in possession, I think it's a delicate balance that the government has to address in their future bill," he added.

A long road ahead

Rankin said the parliamentary process, let alone the regulatory one, could take a long time to complete.

"You bring a bill in, it goes to committee, three readings … House and Senate. When will we have law? And when will they proclaim the law? It could be years from now," he said.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and the government's point man on pot legalization, concedes the effort will take time.

"The only precise time frame that we've committed to, is our minister of health has said she will bring legislation forward in the spring of 2017," Blair said.

"We know we've got a great deal of work to do to pass that legislation and even more work to put the regulatory framework and all of the infrastructure that will be necessary in order to do this right, and I will tell you; we are committed to taking the time to do it right."
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by papapuff » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:00 pm

The Globe and Mail

Ottawa should require marijuana to be lab-tested to ensure safety: task force

The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016

As Canada prepares to become the largest jurisdiction in the world to legalize recreational marijuana, a federal task force has told Ottawa it should also require the product to be lab-tested, safe to consume and free of harmful contaminants such as bacteria, mould and dangerous pesticides.

That recommendation was part of a report released on Tuesday that will be the basis of new legislation expected in the spring.

The call from the Federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization for mandatory product testing and accurate depictions of potency on packaging comes after concerns were raised over a lack of regulations and consumer protection in the cannabis dispensary industry, which has proliferated this year leading up to legalization.

A Globe and Mail investigation last summer revealed that one-third of nine samples of cannabis obtained from store-front dispensaries in Toronto contained potentially harmful bacteria or mould and would not have met Health Canada safety standards, and posed particular risks to people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.

A subsequent Globe investigation revealed that Health Canada had been warned that dangerous chemicals not approved for human use, such as the pesticide dodemorph, had been found in samples of dispensary cannabis sold in Vancouver, although Health Canada did nothing about it, citing a lack of regulations.

In its announcement on Tuesday, the federal task force said it wants product safety and lab testing to be “a cornerstone” of the new regulated system.

“The Task Force agrees that the new regulatory framework should ensure that products meet rigorous safety and quality standards in order to protect public health and safety,” the report said.

“Only approved fertilizers and pesticides should be allowed; potentially hazardous moulds should not be present.”

The report also called for packaging to have accurate depictions of the drug’s potency, including THC and CBD levels.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, gives marijuana its intoxicating effect, while CBD, or cannabidiol, is sought for pain relief or to manage conditions such as epilepsy.

The Globe’s investigation uncovered wild inaccuracies in the levels of THC and CBD in marijuana sold at store-front dispensaries, which have sprung up by the hundreds across the country, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.

In September, Health Canada acknowledged the department was concerned about the findings and consumer safety. “The test results provided to the Department by your paper bear this out,” Health Canada said in a statement to The Globe.

The task force made a similar acknowledgment in its report, saying “the media shone their light on issues of quality and regulatory gaps,” which helped shape the recommendations.

Among the key problems raised by The Globe’s investigation was the fact that the country’s accredited labs – often used to test consumer products from food to cosmetics – were not allowed to test marijuana for safety on behalf of the public, including patients who used it for medical reasons. The lab that tested for The Globe did so as a public service on condition that the newspaper would not identify it.

Health Canada began to change those rules in August, giving the labs the right to test legally for registered medical patients. Now the task force report has called on the government to expand the number of facilities capable of testing so that proper consumer protection can be assured.

“The mandatory product testing recommended by the Task Force is intended to minimize the risk of contaminated products entering the market and to verify the information on labelling, in order to help consumers make informed decisions,” the report said.

“This will require sufficient laboratory testing capacity to ensure that the products manufactured meet specific quality standards and that the stated potency for specific products is accurate.”

The task force, chaired by former deputy prime minster Anne McLellan, spent several months consulting industry and the medical community on how to build the regulations for legalization. Among those groups, The Canadian Nurses Association urged the government to ensure good manufacturing practices and consumer protections in an industry that is expected to be worth billions of dollars.

“There was widespread agreement among stakeholders and experts that strict controls are necessary to assure product quality, security and safety,” the report said.
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by papapuff » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:32 pm

650 CKOM News Talk Radio

Saskatoon police chief reacts to panel recommendations on legal pot

By 650 CKOM December 14, 2016

Imagine someone is pulled over by police. A breathalyzer test comes back showing the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .07, just under the legal limit of .08.

Now, imagine Canada has decided to copy the U.S. state of Colorado's regulations on THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. In Colorado, anyone with more than 5 nanograms of active THC in their blood can be charged with driving under the influence.

Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said he wants to know what happens when that driver, already found to be driving with a .07 BAC, also has 4 nanograms of THC in his blood. Technically, the driver is just under the legal limits set for both substances.

"But the issue is those two combined, the alcohol and the marijuana, does that put you in an impaired spot?" Weighill asked 650 CKOM host David Kirton.

Weighill said these types of tricky hypotheticals will have to be addressed as the federal government pushes ahead with legalization.

A federal task force released a report Tuesday with recommendations on how Canada's legal marijuana market ought to be structured.

The report recommended retail sales of marijuana to people over the age of 18, with supplies available in storefront locations and by mail order. People should also be allowed to grow up to four of their own marijuana plants, according to the report.

Weighill said he would reserve judgment on the report until he has a chance to read the full document. But he said impaired driving remains his biggest concern, given that there is no test to determine impairment by alcohol and marijuana in combination. He said there are also difficulties with detecting if someone's been smoking pot, as there is no quick, accurate roadside test.

"We have a great system set up for alcohol. Alcohol is pretty well the same on most human bodies, at a .08 or so you start to become impaired. But it's different with marijuana," he said.

Weighill said, realistically, legalization likely wouldn't take effect until 2018. He said he hopes to see efforts continue to develop better technology to test drivers.
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by papapuff » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:42 pm

Pot rules released by federal task force panel

Posted By: Mary Griffinon: December 13, 2016


The Liberals promised legalization during the last election campaign.

It’s now up to Ottawa to decide if it will act on today’s recommendations.

So far, the response is cautiously optimism.

Mary Griffin reports.

The federal marijuana task force finally released its recommendations for legalizing pot.

“We are only the second nation to move forward in this way.”

Among its key recommendations; the legal age for consumption set at 18 years.

It says sales should be regulated by provinces to prevent ties to the black market.

The task force also suggests allowing marijuana sales through storefronts and mail-orders.


It feels like a celebration at Victoria’s only marijuana vapour lounge.

“I’m excited about a lot of things discussed in the report. I feel like it took more realistic approach to this than I was initially expecting.”

Customer Jesse Brigdam stopped drinking alcohol a decade ago in favour of marijuana, and is happy with what he’s hearing.

“There’s a lot of people that come here that have social anxiety, health issues. But they use this as either a pit stop to medicate and get on with their day or just a place to socialize.

And I think important.”

Provincial government’s will oversee distribution, including sales and potential tax revenues. B.C.’s Solicitor General Mike Morrison says it’s too soon for specifics.

“We have to make sure that it’s not going to promote the illicit distribution of cannabis across British Columbia or Canada.

So, it’s pretty early in the process. I don’t know what the tax regime is going to look like and what kind of revenues are going to be generated.”

Victoria’s 38 pot shops are a growing headache for local politicians, who’ve struggled to regulate the industry.

Mayor Lisa Helps is relieved.

“I’m very relieved to hear that the province and the federal government are going to be taking over the retail regulations.

That will take a lot off our plates. And I don’t think it should have been on our plate in the first place.”

Until its legal, the Green Ceiling owner keeps accumalating fines from the city.

“So it’s seven tickets in total they’re $500 each.”

The federal government is expected to introduce its marijuana legislation later in 2017.
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:32 pm

Victoria's pot rules backed in task force report

Proposed marijuana rules leave city on hook for enforcement, Victoria mayor says

By Deborah Wilson, CBC News Posted: Dec 14, 2016

For Victoria mayor Lisa Helps, this week's federal task force recommendations on marijuana sales look a lot like the regulations her own city council approved in September.

Age restrictions, a ban on advertising and buffer zones to keep shops far from schools and parks are among the measures urged by the panel appointed to advise Justin Trudeau's Liberal government on legalizing pot.

"We're not way out there in terms of our approach. That's a good thing," Helps told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

Even with this first step towards a national framework for legalized marijuana, Helps said Victoria remains on its own in enforcing regulations.

'Until legislation passes there's still a vacuum'

"Until legislation passes there's still a vacuum," she said. "We couldn't wait for something to be done, in terms of the proliferation of these cannabis dispensaries."

For existing marijuana storefronts in Victoria, the city now requires a lengthy rezoning process that costs $7,500 and could take seven or eight months.

If successful, the business is then allowed to purchase a $5,000 business license.

"We've put a regulatory regime in place. That will stay in place until we get further direction from the federal government and the province," Helps said. "That couldn't come soon enough."

While the task force urged distribution of legal pot through stand-alone dispensaries or by mail-order, Helps said she thought it would recommend the sale of cannabis through pharmacies.

Pharmacy sales would be 'easier for everyone'

"I think that probably would have been easier for everyone," she said. "There's a lot of work for local governments to do, even with the federal government and provincial governments stepping in.

"We'll certainly be on the ground with enforcement and certainly there will need to be rezoning applications just as there are for liquor stores."

As for enforcing any federal rules on products and THC levels, Helps said, "We really can't regulate that at the city level. "The labelling of medical substances is way beyond municipal jurisdiction."

Helps said she's not concerned about the prospect of having to change the city's regulations as the senior governments draft their own versions.

"We've made clear that this is not permanent. We're waiting for the provincial and federal government to make decisions," she said.

To hear the full interview with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on CBC Radio One's On the Island go to Victoria's pot rules backed in task force report.
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:53 pm

Truro Daily News

Nova Scotia’s marijuana strategy shrouded in smoke

Metro Halifax
Published on December 15, 2016

The Nova Scotia government has formed two working groups to get into the weeds of marijuana legalization, but the province’s plans remain a little hazy.

federal task force on marijuana legalization released a report this week recommending mail-order and storefront sales to people over the age of 18, with a 30-gram limit on personal possession of recreational pot.

The report contained more than 80 recommendations about how legalized marijuana should be produced, regulated and sold.

Premier Stephen McNeil, and three departments heading a federal-provincial-territorial working group on the province's marijuana legalization strategy, will not comment on any of them.

The Departments of Justice, Health and Wellness and Finance and Treasury Board are the senior officials in a working group on the legalization, and regulation of cannabis in the province.

"We’ve just received the report and are reviewing the task force’s recommendations,” Sarah Gillis, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said in a statement Wednesday.

Officials at the premier's office, the health department and the finance department declined to comment on the task force's findings, referring Metro back to the Department of Justice.

Nova Scotia also has an “interdepartmental” working group looking into marijuana policy, which includes representatives from across government, said Gillis.

The inner workings of the working groups are clouded.

Gillis could not be reached by the end of day Wednesday to clarify each working group’s role in crafting policy.

According to the Toronto Star, Ontario has 12 provincial departments working to roll out a cannabis strategy.

Despite some Nova Scotians’ high expectations, it may still be awhile before legalized marijuana reaches a store near you.

Gillis said the provincial government is waiting on Ottawa to pass legislation before determining the details of how legalized marijuana will be sold and what impact it could have on tax revenue.

"The federal government has significantly shifted policy on cannabis," Gillis said. “Nova Scotia will ensure that the health and safety of all Canadians, especially children and youth, remains a top priority."

More than half of Atlantic Canadians pro-pot legalization for personal use: survey

More than half of Maritimers support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a survey.

Corporate Research Associates released a survey Wednesday that found 53 per cent of Atlantic Canadians were pro-pot legalization for personal use, up from 49 per cent in Nov. 2015.

The results marked the first time a majority of participants on East Coast supported recreational marijuana legalization since the tracking study began in 2012.

The study found 41 per cent of Atlantic Canadians surveyed opposed legalizing weed for recreational purposes, unchanged since the previous survey.

More people had made up their minds on the issue, according to the results, since the percentage of participants who reported that they “do not know or do not have an opinion on the matter” decreased to six per cent from 10 per cent last November.

Support for recreational marijuana use is higher in Nova Scotia, the study found, while Prince Edward Island was on the lower end of the scale.

More than eight in 10 Atlantic Canadians are in favour of medical marijuana legalization and support is consistent across region, according to the survey.

The results are based on a telephone sample of 1,502 adults in Atlantic Canada. The survey was conducted between Nov. 7 and Dec. 1 this year, with a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 95 out of 100 times.
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:10 pm

The Globe and Mail

Pot chains make plans to expand across Canada ahead of legalization

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016

The entrepreneurs behind Canada’s two biggest chains of illegal marijuana dispensaries say they will continue to expand the number of their storefronts aggressively across the country while the federal and provincial governments take the next two years to fine-tune new laws to legalize the substance.

A day after an independent panel provided Ottawa with a road map for ending the prohibition on recreational marijuana that could include dispensaries, MP Bill Blair, the government’s point person on the issue, warned that, in the meantime, anyone selling marijuana outside the federal mail-order system is breaking the law and police could raid their stores.

But those behind two Vancouver-based chains say the new report indicates they will have two years of challenging the existing cannabis laws – and police departments’ appetite for enforcing them – during which they plan to open more than 100 new stores across Canada. They say they are willing to comply with future regulations and hope to join the regulated sector once the federal laws change, but Mr. Blair said it is too early to say whether the new legal system will allow dispensaries to participate.

“We’re scaling up right now and I believe we could have as many Cannabis Culture [dispensaries] as there are Starbucks,” said Jodie Emery, who is in Montreal opening eight shops to add to an empire of 12 franchises. “I know that sounds crazy, but I feel it’s only fair if marijuana is available as much as that recreational drug [coffee].”

She said investors are lining up to open the retail outlets, which sell to any adult.

“One of our investors has decided to open up franchises in Montreal, and we get requests from all across Canada to open in basically every city,” Ms. Emery said.

Montreal police said this week such dispensaries are not permitted under federal rules governing medical marijuana and that they might intervene if laws are broken. Mayor Denis Coderre said federal laws should apply to the outlets, but cautioned that new marijuana laws are on the way next spring.

Police across the country have reacted differently to illegal storefronts. Many communities policed by the Mounties crack down on dispensaries soon after they open.

In cities such as Vancouver and Victoria, local politicians have opted to regulate rather than raid, and plan to modify their bylaws to accommodate the new federal rules.

Don Briere, who runs Canada’s biggest chain of illegal marijuana dispensaries, with 21 locations in British Columbia and Ontario, said he is opening a franchise in Montreal before the end of this year and hopes to have more than 100 by 2018.

“It’s not just me, there’s thousands of us, really thousands of people, that want in [on the dispensary business],” said Mr. Briere, who was sent to prison for heading marijuana grow operations in the 1990s.

Mr. Briere said he expects $17-million in sales this year and pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in harmonized sales tax each month. He said the biggest challenge to his expansion plans is finding landlords.

Often, he and his franchise partners, who pay $50,000 to open a Weeds store and begin buying from his suppliers, must pay an extra six months in rent that is forfeited if the store is raided or seized.

“It’s kind of a sin tax,” said Mr. Briere, who often reopens his stores the day after police shut them down.

Mr. Blair said on Wednesday that dispensaries remain illegal and that the current laws must be enforced.

“Each police service has the responsibility for public safety and I would leave it entirely up to them how they utilize their resources to maintain the safety of their communities,” Mr. Blair said.

Kirk Tousaw, a Nanaimo-based lawyer who helped win a constitutional challenge that led to the overhaul of the medical-marijuana system this summer, said the federal task force clearly recommended a role for dispensaries in any legal cannabis distribution model.

“I don’t see any good reason why the provinces would want to create a parallel and competing system as opposed to bringing dispensaries into a regulated system,” Mr. Tousaw said from Saskatoon, where he is defending a compassion club that was raided last year.

“Out of the shadows and into the light.”

With reports from Carrie Tait in Calgary and The Canadian Press
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by papapuff » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:59 pm

December 15,2016

Barrie councillor OK with storefront pot sales, if legalized

Barrie Advance
By Janis Ramsay

A federal task force set up to examine the legalization of marijuana is recommending selling cannabis in storefronts.

And as long as it's legal, that idea sits fine with Ward 2 Coun. Rose Romita.

The task force was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to study how marijuana could be legalized and 80 recommendations were made Tuesday.

“It’s still not legal,” Romita said Tuesday. “But when or if it even becomes legal, they are suggesting selling it in storefronts. I’m fine with that.”

In the past, Romita wasn't a big fan of illegal pot shops downtown. Back in September, she was happy to see police shut down Sunrise and Med West in her ward.

“It doesn’t matter what they’re selling, it’s an illegal operation," Romita said at the time of the raid. "The cops had to do what they had to do. If you need medical marijuana, you get it through the proper means. Period. With no licence, it was only a matter of time. Time’s up.”

Romita said, before the raids, another dispensary was planning to open on Innisfil Street.

“I hope this is loud and clear: don’t come,” she said.

But this week, Romita said if recreational marijuana consumption becomes legal, provinces could put an age restriction on consumers. She is suggesting 21.

“The one concern is if the province makes it 21 or 25, the 18-year-olds would go to the street still looking for it,” Romita said.

But she believes 18 is still too young.

She also agreed any tax money should be poured back into education.

The recommendations also suggested products with higher amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) retail for a higher price.

“I think if it’s legal, everything should be documented and (the distributor) has to be licensed,” Romita said. “I would add it to the separation bylaw, same as tattoo parlours and payday advance businesses.”
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