Tag Archives: Recreational Marijuana

First cannabis convention show works to dispel fears, answer questions

Show organizer has plans to take show across CanadaBy: Gail Harding

One of the organizers of a cannabis convention being held at the Moncton Coliseum says it’s hoped that it will help educate anyone with questions about medical marijuana use.

“We really wanted an atmosphere where people could feel comfortable asking questions, getting the right information,” said Diane Smirl. “We developed this show specifically for those people.” 

Connect with Cannabis Show organizer Diane Smirl says the show will provide the right information to those who need it. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The Connect with Cannabis Show is the first one to take place, but Smirl says the plan is to take it across Canada.

She said it’s time to bring the conversation about cannabis out of the back alleys, now that the federal government has a plan to legalize it.

“This is a room full of experts regardless where they’re from, these are all licensed users, they’ve been through the process.”

Dispel fears

Chris Backer, vice chair of the Halifax-based Maritimers United for Medical Marijuana, is one of the vendors.    

“It’s nice to dispel people’s fears and give people useful, valuable information that they can go then to their doctor with.” 

Chris Backer, vice chair of Maritimers United for Medical Marijuana says the show will help dispel fears. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Backer said being able to educate people in a convention setting is a positive step.

“We have an opportunity to learn about it properly.” 

Smirl said while some booths feature novelty items like pipes and bongs, others have information to share. 

“Anything that can be sold in a retail location that’s legally licensed can be sold here. Anything that’s not licensed for retail won’t be sold here.”

Seeking answers

Anne Newcomb-Thibodeau said she came to the show looking for answers after she recently switched to medical marijuana to treat her chronic pain.

Despite it being prescribed by her doctor, Newcomb-Thibodeau said she still didn’t know much about it but was finding the show beneficial.

“If you’re new to it, where do you go to get your answers?” she asked. 

The Connect with Cannabis Show continues until Sunday. 

How high will the price of legal pot be?

Government agencies and private analysts are already crunching the numbers

By: Solomon Israel

If the Canadian government wants to end black market marijuana sales, it will have to make legal marijuana a more attractive option to consumers. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

The federal government has said it time and time again: marijuana legalization is meant to snuff out the black market and keep profits out of the hands of criminals.

To achieve that goal, the government has to grapple with a tough question: how much should legal weed cost?

We now know that the provinces will be responsible for setting the price of legal marijuana. In its November 2016 report, the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation explained why pricing will be a tricky balancing act.

“Taxes should be high enough to limit the growth of consumption, but low enough to compete effectively with the illicit market,” wrote the task force. “Mechanisms such as a minimum price should be used to prevent predatory pricing, if necessary.”

What black market marijuana costs

It’s hard to establish a definitive price for a black market item, but illicit dispensaries in Toronto regularly sell a single gram of marijuana for $10.

November 2016 report from the Parliamentary Budget Office, however, offers a more in-depth analysis of black market marijuana prices across Canada. The report used data from PriceOfWeed.com, which collects user reports about marijuana purchases and makes them available in a searchable database.

One gram of dried marijuana bud, with a $2 coin for comparison. The size of a gram varies depending on the density of the bud. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

After running the data through its own statistical analysis and regional weighting, the PBO reported that one gram of marijuana cost an average of $8.32 between February 2015 and August 2016. After adjusting for the bulk discounts common to black market marijuana transactions, the PBO’s figure rose to $9.36 per gram.

Average prices were lower in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, and higher in Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and the territories.

What legal marijuana costs

As of March 17, the average price of marijuana from Health Canada-licensed producers was $9.12 per gram, according to Brad Martin of CannStandard in Calgary.

Martin is a medical marijuana user who started tracking prices to identify the best value.

“I’m not seeing too much fluctuation since I’ve started,” he said, referring to prices from legal, licensed producers.

Unlike the black market, Martin said, most licensed producers don’t offer bulk discounts, although it’s common to see shipping discounts on bulk orders.

Marijuana prices actually rose soon after legalization in the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, said Martin, due to supply shortages. After the shortages were addressed, prices plunged.

“I don’t anticipate seeing something in the magnitude that we saw in the states, specifically because the market size is smaller and because we’ve taken some mitigation measures on it,” said Martin.

According to data from marijuana market intelligence firm BDS Analytics, a gram of marijuana bud cost $6.46 US in Colorado in January. The average price per gram in Oregon was $8.56. Both prices reflect bulk discounts, however — a single gram purchased at a dispensary would cost more.

What happens after legalization?

A November analysis from Canaccord Genuity estimates average prices for the total legal market (medical and recreational) will stay steady around $8 per gram until 2019 or 2020, with illicit prices remaining slightly higher, between $8 and $9 per gram.

Post-legalization demand could exceed supply and keep prices stable for a time, wrote Canacord Genuity analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka. That’s because Health Canada is relatively slow to approve licences for new producers, they said, and it takes a long time to set up a fully operational growing facility.

After legal production catches up to demand, they wrote, “the average price per gram of bud will begin to slowly decline.”

What about taxes?

We don’t yet know how much the government will tax retail marijuana sales. Those taxes, which could be applied at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels, might be lower for medical users (a common practice in U.S. states where marijuana is fully legal).

But if the government wants to bust up the black market, those taxes can’t raise the price of legal marijuana beyond the price of illicit marijuana. Ottawa knows it, too.

“[Seeking] to displace the illicit cannabis market requires the establishment of a legal market that is competitive with the existing illicit market, including safe and reasonable access, price, variety of product choice and adequate consumer education,” advised the task force on legalization.

“Therefore, excessive restrictions could lead to the re-entrenchment of the illicit market.”

Original article can be found here

Legalizing marijuana will hurt Canadian alcohol sales, study predicts

Some U.S. brands saw 4.4% drop in sales when states legalized pot. 
By: Jerri Southcott. 

 In the United States, beer sales declined in areas where cannabis became legal. (CBC)

The legalization of marijuana may cut into beer and other alcohol sales across Canada, a study by the firm Deloitte says. 

“If marijuana is legalized in Canada, we will see a decrease in purchases of beer, wine or spirits. So that’s something that the alcohol industry is going to have to understand and think about and try to anticipate what that means,” said Mark Whitmore, who co-authored the study on recreational marijuana. 

Some of the study’s findings show that about 80 per cent of current cannabis consumers rarely mix the drug with alcohol and they’re also drawn to marijuana for the same reason people choose alcohol: to have fun or help connect with others. 

Beer sales fell up to 4.4% in U.S.  

Recent reports show domestic beer sales fell in Colorado, Washington and Oregon after pot was legalized, with sales of Coors Light and Bud Light dipping as much as 4.4 per cent. 

Matthew Bellamy, associate professor of history at Carleton University and a brewing historian, believes Canadian beer sales will fall after the legalization of weed. 

 Legal marijuana may cut into beer sales in Canada, a Deloitte study shows. (CBC)

“The Canadian brewing industry has passed through many of the same phases in its evolution as the industry in the United States,” he said. 

“Like its counterpart south of the border, Canadian brewing emerged as a significant industry between 1865 and 1915; went through the dark years of prohibition from about 1915 to 1930; experienced a renaissance between 1930 and 1945; witnessed the emergence of a national brewing oligopoly after the Second World War; saw the onset of a craft beer revolution in the early 1980s; and underwent significant restructuring since 1990 due to globalization.” 

There will be competition 

Justin Zinck of Garrison Brewery in Halifax says the legalization of marijuana is certainly on their radar, but argues the decline in sales in the U.S. is limited to beer sold in retail establishments, not to bars and restaurants. 

Zinck said they have to be ready for the day when consumers will have a choice of spending their money on alcohol or pot. 

Garrison has been in the craft beer business for 20 years and Zinck says they plan to stay the course and advertise quality over quantity to maintain their hold on the craft beer market. 

“You’re trying different things; the marketplace is the market. It’s our job to make sure that we’re the best craft brewery we can be and market ourselves the best way we can and make people enjoy our product the best,” he said. 

“So it’s our job to realize there’s a new player in the game, we have to up ours as well. Just like if there was a new craft brewery coming along, we have to up our game.” 

Original article can be found here

Ottawa councillor says marijuana won’t be sold in current dispensaries

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says delay in legal framework frustrating.
By: Ryan Tumilty. 

 Product on display at the Cannabis Culture location on Bank Street. The dispensary opened Feb. 22, 2017. 

Ottawa city councillor Mathieu Fleury said he’s frustrated by news that it could be another 15 months before there is a legal framework for marijuana sales. 

Reports surfaced this week that the federal government intends to have marijuana legislation in place by July 1, 2018. 

Fleury has said previously that the dispensaries operating in Ottawa now won’t be the way marijuana is sold legally, and he is frustrated about the resources they’re consuming now. 

He said this news is just a continuation of that problem. 

“It feels like we have been in that grey area for over a year now, so its frustrating but there are no new pressure points,” he said. 

He said if the government waits until 2018 it won’t change anything for the dispensaries, which are — and, he believes, will remain — illegal. 

“It’s a reminder that buying marijuana within those dispensaries is the same as buying marijuana off the street,” he said. 

Fleury said when the time comes he hopes the city will regulate locations for marijuana dispensaries and have them in regulated stores.  

“We prefer having a model like the LCBO, understanding it won’t be in the LCBO,” he said. 

An independent panel reviewing marijuana legislation concluded that it should not be sold in places where alcohol is sold. 

“The product will be sold as a controlled substance just like it is for alcohol,” said Fleury. 

He said police have begun to warn landlord of dispensaries that they can’t just look the other way and he hopes the dispensaries will find it more difficult to operate. 

Original article can be found here

Marijuana producers lobby Ottawa ahead of legalization legislation

By: Alexandra Posadzki. 

 Medical marijuana is ready for shipping is pictured January 21, 2016 at Tweed Inc., one of the marijuana producers lobbying the federal government.DAVE CHAN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL. 

Several licensed marijuana producers have penned a letter to Ottawa, urging the federal government to allow them to brand their products and provide medical cannabis on a tax-free basis. 

The seven producers – Tilray, Tweed, Mettrum, CannTrust, Green Organic Dutchman Holdings, RedeCan Pharm and Delta 9 Bio-Tech – are lobbying the government ahead of the week of April 10, when legislation legalizing recreational use of the drug is expected to be introduced. 

A federal task force has recommended requiring plain packaging for cannabis and advertising restrictions similar to those placed on the tobacco industry. 

But in their letter, the licensed producers argue that preventing them from branding their products will make it tougher for them to compete with black market operations such as illegal dispensaries. 

“Brands allow professional companies to separate themselves from less scrupulous competitors,” says Brendan Kennedy, president of B.C.-based marijuana producer Tilray. 

Some health advocates have argued that restricting branding and advertising is necessary in order to ensure that users are aware of possible health risks associated with the substance. 

Another concern is that cannabis producers could use advertising to compel widespread usage of the drug, similar to what occurred with tobacco and alcohol in the past. 

But the licensed producers say they aren’t looking to lure people into consuming marijuana. Instead, they wish to use branding and in-store advertising to educate users about various strains and their impacts, according to the letter. 

“No one in this industry is looking to repeat the same mistakes as tobacco or alcohol,” says Kennedy. “No one wants to see a Joe Camel of this industry.” 

Cannabis producers also take issue with the tax force’s recommendation that medical and recreational cannabis be taxed the same amount. 

This would “unduly burden” medical cannabis patients, according to the companies, who argue that medical cannabis should be sold tax free. 

“Other pharmaceutical products aren’t taxed,” says Kennedy. 

Original article can be found here

Toronto police raid 4 marijuana dispensaries

Raids follow report of Ottawa’s intention to introduce marijuana legalization bill next month. 
By: Sammy Hudes, Staff Reporter. 

 Toronto police also raided Cannabis Culture locations across the country, including this location at 461 Church St., in Toronto, last Thursday. (JESSE WINTER / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO). 

Toronto police raided four marijuana dispensaries Tuesday, charging nine people with drug-related offences, just days after reports that Ottawa would introduce legislation next month to legalize pot by Canada Day 2018. 

Toronto police spokesperson Const. Victor Kwong said the raids weren’t meant to target average marijuana users. 

“I know that it seems like we’re just shutting down places for marijuana, but it’s no different than people would expect us to investigate a grocery store if they were selling things that were not tested to be safe for consumption,” Kwong said Wednesday. “It’s been a while now since we’ve charged anyone with simple possession, like, you know some guy walking around with a joint.” 

Rather, he said, police are responding in cases where the city has notified them about locations with more widespread issues. 

“It’s when we’ve been notified by the city that there are contraventions to the zoning and bylaws,” Kwong said. “It’s when undercover operations have shown that they don’t check for age, for any other type of medical need or credentials and when they’re selling things that have not passed any type of safety inspection. That’s when search warrants are applied for.” 

The raids occurred between 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The first took place at Buds 4 Life on Broadview Ave. south of Gerrard St. E. Five people were charged with drug-related offences, and one also faces weapons charges. 

Police said they seized 1,146 grams of marijuana, 51 grams of “shatter,” a cannabis extract, 21 grams of hashish, two concealed steel expandable batons and $15,190. 

Cassandra Higgins, 26, Robertha Johnson, 25, Victoria Robbins, 23, Melanie Marshall-Lazou, 25, and Brennan Steinberg, 30, were each charged with possession of an illegal substance following the Buds 4 Life raid. 

They were also charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds obtained by crime. Steinberg was additionally charged with two counts of carrying a concealed weapon. 

At 6 p.m., police raided Canadian Green, at Bloor St. W. and Lansdowne Ave., and Village Cannabis Dispensary, on Church St. south of Maitland St. No arrests were made at either location. 

Police raided The Open Dispensary at 801 Queen St. W. at 8:20 p.m. and four people were charged with drug-related offences. 

“It’s crazy for so many reasons,” said Toronto lawyer and cannabis advocate Paul Lewin. He said it was “morally wrong” for police to carry out the raids as the federal government gets set to legalize marijuana and blamed the Liberals for not having an interim enforcement plan as it studies how to do so. 

“They’ve really created a complete mess for police and prosecutors throughout the country,” said Lewin. “This is at a time in which we have scarce judicial resources. Police budgets are tight, courts only have so much time, we only have so many judges and so many prosecutors and we’re going to waste court time with this?”  

Moments before police arrived at Village Cannabis Dispensary on Tuesday, patron Froses Berkovitch described the atmosphere as “very peaceful.” 

“There was music playing. There wasn’t any loud talking. Everybody was just mellow,” he said. “But as soon as that happened, everybody came out and people filled the street.” 

Several police officers were seen still inside the dispensary at about 7 p.m., while nearly a dozen people protested outside. 

Berkovitch said that as he was getting ready to leave, police showed up and told patrons that if they were not working there to leave immediately. Police then brought in a bucket to fill with marijuana and proceeded to raid the store, he said. 

Berkovitch streamed the event in real-time via Facebook Live and put out a call to action. 

Mark Harrison, a manager at the Village Cannabis Dispensary, said police took about 10 pounds of their product. 

The dispensary was formerly known as Cannabis Culture, and had already been raided this month. That brand was co-owned by prominent marijuana activists Marc and Jodie Emery, who were arrested on a number of drug-related charges March 8. 

The Emerys were granted bail with several conditions, such as being barred from going to any Cannabis Culture location or other dispensary, and from facilitating or participating in running any Cannabis Culture shop. 

Harrison said staff members purchased the store on Mar. 9 and changed the name following the Emerys’ arrests. 

With files from Hina Alam and Andrej Ivanov 

Original article can be found here

Former Mountie teaching safe workplace marijuana use

Ed Secondiak says adjustments in someone’s position might be required

Ed Secondiak wants employers to be informed about medicinal marijuana as well as the implications of recreational legalization so they can respond appropriately in the workplace. (Julie Gordon/Reuters)

Ed Secondiak thinks workplaces need to educate their employees on safety with regards to cannabis in light of increased use and pending legalization.

The former RCMP officer said the goal isn’t to punish people, but to be proactive to avoid unintended consequences of marijuana use, like workplace accidents.

“We’re not concerned about whether it’s illegal or legal. Our concerns more so are the impact on the workplace, in particular with safety,” said Secondiak, who is president of the occupational health company ECS Safety Services.

Medicinal marijuana use is on the rise and the federal government has promised legalization legislation.

Rules similar to alcohol, except … 

In light of that, Secondiak said there can be confusion about who can smoke marijuana before work.

He said the rules around recreational pot use are no different than regulations on alcohol. The substances are different, but intoxication at work remains the same.

However, he noted, people are prescribed pot and may need to use it at work.

‘We’re trying to make sure people go back home with all the parts they came to work with.’
– Ed Secondiak, ECS Safety Services

The level of impairment varies from person to person based on factors such as the amount consumed, the method of consumption and their level of tolerance.

“In many cases you actually have to go through a trial and error to see how it’s affecting that employee,” said Secondiak.

Employers should be open to discussing marijuana at work so they can collaborate with employees to find the best solution for everyone, he said.

Extra care with ‘safety sensitive positions’ 

Secondiak said it’s important that people don’t work in “safety sensitive positions” if they’re using recreationally or medicinally. A safety sensitive position is one where accidents, injuries or fatalities can happen, such as a machinery operator or a medical professional.

“We’re trying to make sure people go back home with all the parts they came to work with.”

Ed Secondiak has given several presentations on drug use in the workplace across Canada and says he’s witnessed a decline in workplace accidents in the aftermath. (Robert Short/CBC)

Employers may need to accommodate medicinal marijuana users who do work in safety sensitive positions by finding them a different role or examining types of leave, he said.

He noted it often comes down to whether or not the individual can do their job and that often depends on how complex the job is.

On Tuesday, Secondiak will give a talk at a Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board event in Saskatoon.

Original article can be found here

People Will Die From Cannabis Dispensary Raids

By: Dana Larsen 

Canada’s ongoing war on cannabis causes harm and death in many ways. There’s the people sometimes injured and killed in cannabis raids, there’s the people who suffer or die because they don’t have access to cannabis medicines, there’s the murderers and violent criminals all across the country who won’t ever face trial because our courts are clogged with pot cases, and there’s the increased opioid overdose deaths that come when dispensaries are not available. 

This last point is especially relevant right now, as Canada is in the middle of a fentanyl crisis, with many deaths every day across the country. One effective way to fight this crisis is to increase access to cannabis! 

Two major studies in the US have found that the states which have cannabis dispensaries have much lower rates of opioid use and deaths. 

A major study in 2015 found that states with legal cannabis dispensaries had up to 31% lower rate of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses. Researchers noted that the longer the legal cannabis dispensaries were in place, the more the rate of opioid-related problems declined. 

This makes sense, because cannabis is often used as a pain reliever, just like opioids are. When people have easy access to a safer pain-reliever, cannabis, they are less likely to use the more risky one, opioids. 

This confirmed a 2014 study which found that states with medical cannabis dispensaries had a 25% lower rate of opioid overdose deaths. 

It’s important to note that the 2015 study confirmed that it was specifically dispensaries that reduced overdose deaths, and not just any form of medical cannabis access. “We find no impact of medical marijuana laws more broadly,” concluded the 2015 study. “The mitigating effect of medical marijuana laws is specific to states that permit dispensaries.” 

A third study, published last year, found that in American states with medical cannabis access, “the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly.” This means that when cannabis is available, fewer doctors prescribe opiates, and fewer patients use them. 

The evidence from these three major American studies is clear. Cannabis dispensaries reduce opioid use, and can prevent up to a third of opioid overdoses in their communities. In the midst of a nationwide fentanyl crisis, cannabis dispensaries are saving lives every single day. 

If we’re going to have “evidence based” laws and policies in Canada, then we should recognize that Canada needs much more cannabis access, and we need it now. If Trudeau’s Liberals are serious about the opioid crisis and saving lives, they should announce an immediate moratorium on dispensary raids. 

Canadians can’t wait as more years pass and the death toll continues to climb. We need action from Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. The war on dispensaries must end today. 

Original article can be found here

‘High time’ for police to prepare for pot legalization

There’s demand across Canada to get officers trained to recognize drug impairment
By: Darren MacDonald

With laws allowing the legalization of marijuana in Canada expected sometime this year, Greater Sudbury Police are trying to prepare for the impact on law enforcement. File photo. 

With laws allowing the legalization of marijuana in Canada expected sometime this year, Greater Sudbury Police are trying to prepare for the impact on law enforcement. 

Police Chief Paul Pedersen said Wednesday that currently, there are no drug recognition training courses available in Canada. That’s a problem considering officers will be tasked with detecting drugged drivers. 

“The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police of Sudbury all agree that one of the things we’re going to need more of in this country as marijuana becomes legalized is what’s called drug recognition experts,” Pedersen said.  

“They are officers who are specifically trained to find drivers who are impaired by drugs. Right now, Sudbury has a very limited number of those officers. And right now in Canada, there isn’t a drug recognition training program. We have to send our officers to the States to learn how to become drug recognition experts.” 

That training, as well as manuals and policies governing the detection of drug impaired drivers, will be important tools police will need soon, he said. 

“We know, from coast to coast, we’re going to need that in Canada in time before the legislation comes into effect,” he said. 

While there was speculation that legalization would happen early in 2017, the federal government now says that legislation will be introduced this year, but won’t come into effect right away. 

“The new legislation would come into force after being passed by Parliament and once regulations have been developed,” says a post on the federal justice ministry’s web page.  

“These regulations would set out the details of a new system for access to cannabis. For example, they would define who could produce and distribute marijuana, standards for labeling and packaging, and important safeguards to restrict access to keep it out of the hands of children.” 

For his part, Pedersen neither he or other police chiefs have been told when legalization will actually take place. 

“I haven’t received any formal update that gives me any more insight than the general public has from the newspapers.”

Original article can be found here

Employers want Ottawa’s help to deal with marijuana-smoking workers

Lack of hard science on marijuana impairment and testing raises concerns among employers over safety
By: Dean Beeby

 Some employer groups are asking Ottawa not to legalize recreational marijuana until workplace safety issues are resolved. (CBC) 

More stoned workers will be showing up in Canada’s workplaces with the coming legalization of marijuana, but companies have few tools to cope with potential safety risks.

That’s the message from some employers, who say they’ve received no assurances from Ottawa so far that the new pot regime will include workplace safeguards.

“We’re caught in a potential Catch 22: how do you protect the worker and those around them as well as deal with legalized marijuana?” said Cameron MacGillivray, president of Enform, a Calgary-based oil-and-gas safety group.

“It is a pressing concern for the industry because of the … potential catastrophic impacts of somebody doing a critical safety job when they’re impaired.”

The Liberal government is expected to introduce legislation by the summer making recreational marijuana legal, at a time when the science of detecting and measuring impairment is incomplete.

 Cameron MacGillivray, president of the oil-and-gas safety group Enform, wants the federal government to convene an expert panel to review the science around measuring and testing for marijuana impairment in the workplace. (Enform)

Marijuana is not a new arrival in the workplace, and over the last decade, the legalization of medical marijuana has already made cannabis a more frequent job-related concern.

Full legalization, however, is expected to boost the number of employee users. That’s based on spikes in the number of users in Colorado and Washington after recreational pot was made legal there.

“The landscape has changed,” said George Waggott, a labour lawyer with McMillan LLP in Toronto, who represents employers.

“The stigma of using marijuana, such as it might have been, is going to be nearly eliminated.”

A federal task force report on legalizing and regulating cannabis, released Dec. 13, highlighted “workplace safety” as an issue, especially in the fields of health care, law enforcement, transportation, construction and resource extraction, such as mining.

Under review 

“Employer groups called for more guidance from federal, provincial and territorial governments about appropriate workplace drug use and drug testing policies,” it noted.

But there were no concrete recommendations, other than to encourage more scientific research on impairment and as well as further consultations with the provinces on the “development of workplace impairment policies.”

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said the government is working closely with the provinces and territories to “come up with a framework that will address substance abuse at work.” But she said those consultations are broadly based.

“I think legalization of marijuana is renewing our conversation about substance abuse at work, and I am very, very seized of the issue. But I think there’s more to do than just look at marijuana,” Hajdu said in an interview with CBC News.

 Officials in Employment, Workforce Development and Labour — now headed by Minister Patricia Hajdu — have argued against new regulations for marijuana in the workplace, according to a document obtained by CBC News. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Enform wants the federal government to declare a prohibition against the use of marijuana in safety-sensitive workplaces and for a pre-determined period before workers show up on the job.

It also wants an expert panel to examine and report on how to reliably measure marijuana impairment in workers before full legalization occurs.

An internal document, however, suggests federal officials are not inclined to take any special measures with regard to marijuana in the workplace, preferring to leave the ball in the employers’ court.

A July briefing note for then-employment minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, says “it would be premature to make new rules or introduce legislative or regulatory amendments, which may place the labour program and our stakeholders at odds with emerging jurisprudence, until the issues are settled.”

“The upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana may require employers to update their alcohol and drug policies to include marijuana use and provide parameters around it as it relates to the type of work being done,” the note says.

The document, obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act, also acknowledges that testing devices and protocols are still under development.

Special cases 

Currently, random alcohol and drug-testing is permitted in Canadian workplaces only in special cases, where there are demonstrable safety risks. However, employers can prohibit drug and alcohol use in the workplace, with some exceptions for medical marijuana patients.

 Labour lawyer George Waggott says identifying impairment from marijuana use is the biggest challenge for employers. (McMillan LLP)

Some labour lawyers say they expect no significant changes to those rules, even with the arrival of legalized recreational marijuana.

Rather, the real challenge will be accurately measuring work-related impairment from marijuana, because the science is murky compared with a much clearer understanding of the effects of alcohol, the most commonly abused substance in the workplace.

“The impairment question is the bedrock of where this will be fought,” says Waggott.

Another employer group representing federally regulated companies is also pressing Ottawa not to legalize marijuana until the measurement issues have been sorted out.

Derrick Hynes, executive director of FETCO, an employers’ association comprised of federally regulated transportation and communications firms — including the CBC — addressed his concerns to the marijuana task force in a submission Sept. 5.

In it he said the government should delay legalization until experts agree on an established definition of marijuana impairment and “the technology exists to test for impairment to this standard in a proven and reliable manner.”

‘It’s what makes marijuana different. There is no “road side test” to determine impairment.’
– Derrick Hynes, executive director of FETCO

“It’s what makes marijuana different,” Hynes said in an interview. “There currently is no ‘roadside test’ to determine impairment. And further, there is no legislated standard for what level constitutes impairment in an individual.”

Toronto employment lawyer Peter Straszynski agrees that the quality of testing methods for marijuana is a problem. But he says the current legal and regulatory regime around drug-and-alcohol prohibition in the workplace and around random-testing may be adequate.

“We do have some framework in place,” he said in an interview. “It’s not obvious they will have to change it.”

But Hynes argues the legalization of recreational marijuana is exactly the right moment for Canada to consider a comprehensive system for random testing in the workplace.

“This is a logical time to have that conversation.”

Original article can be found here 

Aurora Begins Construction on 800,000 Square Foot “Aurora Sky” Expansion

Aurora presents Aurora Sky (CNW Group/Aurora Cannabis Inc.)
World’s Largest, Most Advanced, Automated Cannabis Production Facility Strategically Located in Leduc County, Alberta



VANCOUVER, Nov. 30, 2016 /CNW/ – Aurora Cannabis Inc. (the “Company” or “Aurora”) (TSXV: ACB) (OTCQB: ACBFF) (Frankfurt: 21P; WKN: A1C4WM) is pleased to announce that it has broken ground, and initiated construction on an unprecedented 800,000 square foot production facility. To be known as “Aurora Sky”, the new hybrid greenhouse facility, with a footprint larger than 16 football fields, is expected, on completion, to be the largest, most advanced and most automated cannabis production facility in the world. Situated on 30 acres of leased land in Leduc County, Alberta, management anticipates Aurora Sky to be capable of producing in excess of 100,000 kilograms of high quality, low cost cannabis per year. The location of the new facility provides unrivaled access to transportation, industrial infrastructure, power, water, gas, and courier services.

The Company, which currently operates a 55,200 square foot purpose-built facility in Mountain View County, Alberta, has selected a closed-system, hybrid greenhouse concept of Dutch design for the expansion. This system will give Aurora’s cultivation specialists precision control over all critical environmental variables to ensure production quality is consistent with the Aurora Standard. The high level of automation at Aurora Sky, management believes, will provide for ultra-low per-gram cost of production. In addition, the modular nature of the design will allow for a rapid construction process, minimizing the risk of potential delays, with completion of the new facility targeted for October of 2017. Construction of the facility’s pre-engineered structure has been underway in the Netherlands since October, 2016.

Massive Scale, High Quality, Low Cost Production

“Our objectives are very clear: to build the largest production capacity, with the highest production quality and the lowest production cost,” said Steve Dobler, P. Eng., President. “We spent the past year evaluating and selecting the world’s best design concept for cannabis production on a massive scale. We are confident that the Aurora Sky project will achieve all of our key objectives, and further establish Aurora as an innovator and world leader in the cannabis sector.”

World-leading Design and Supply Partners

The Aurora Sky project team includes designers and suppliers with impressive track records from the very best greenhouse projects around the world, collectively holding several patents and protected design integration techniques, including  Larssen Ltd, KUBO, Verkade, PDI, PB Tech, Codema and PRIVA.

Design features of the Aurora Sky project include:

  • Forced air, bottom-fed positive pressure grow facility with supplemental sun through a specialized glass roof, optimizing micromole levels for cannabis health and yield.
  • The latest in anti-reflective and diffusion glass technologies resulting in greatly reduced fan leaf shadows.
  • Meticulously placed glass in a 4-sided rubber gasket system, minimizing heat and CO2 loss, while eliminating odor escape.
  • Self-cleaning glass with snow melt technology, providing 365-day optimum supplemental sun.
  • All steel in facility will be white powder coated for maximum reflection and GMP compliant cleanliness.
  • A separated condensation system to remove humidity issues common to cannabis growth.
  • Exterior walls with the optimum combination of insulation and light penetration.
  • Rainwater harvest and full re-use technology with the latest UV and mechanical filtration technology.
  • Unique heating and cooling systems for climate uniformity, which balance temperature, air flow and humidity to avoid vapour pressure deficits.
  • Double, self-adjusting, wire driven screens for maximum energy savings, plant protection and 99.9% effective blackout.
  • Highly flexible, component-based, multiple-stage water filtration, irrigation and nutrient delivery with full recirculation and cultivar-specific feeding systems.
  • Electronic, automated climate control.
  • Full “seed-to-sale” tracking systems.
  • Fully automated, mobile platform growing system ensuring plants are positioned optimally for climate, irrigation, light, and growth at all stages.
  • Deployment of cranes and conveyors throughout the facility, providing efficiency and a safe work environment for employees.
  • Latest lighting technology with hybrid HPS and LED installation.
  • Establishment of the world’s first industrial scale Plant Tissue Culture process specific to cannabis.

Additional Expansion Proposed at Mountain View County Location

Concurrent with construction of Aurora Sky, the Company will be proposing a significant, additional production and processing expansion at its existing location near the Village of Cremona, in Mountain View County. On November 23, 2016, after four months of discussions, community engagement and four public meetings hosted by Aurora, the municipal Council of Mountain View County approved a re-designation of Aurora’s current property as a Direct Control District, allowing for the option to expand, subject to Council approval of development plans.

The proposed Mountain View County expansion, would be devoted, in part, to the establishment of a centre of excellence for the propagation of cannabis starting materials for the Leduc County greenhouse and Health Canada licensed home growers. It will also allow for additional cultivation of high-demand medical cannabis strains, large scale expansion of Aurora’s processing of cannabis oils and other derivative products, as well as high-technology upgrades to the Company’s packaging operations.

“It is important to us that we expand responsibly in Mountain View County, where the Aurora story began,” said Terry Booth, CEO.  “Having now received re-designation approval from Council, we will continue with plans to increase and enhance our presence in the County, with additional investment, employment and economic development. Our rate of growth, with rapidly increasing demand for Aurora’s high quality cannabis products, clearly justifies our expansion in both Mountain View County and Leduc County. The Aurora story, and our contribution to the Alberta economy, will now continue to evolve in at least two jurisdictions in this province.”

About Aurora

Aurora’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc., is a licensed producer of medical cannabis pursuant to Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) and operates a 55,200 square foot, expandable, state-of-the-art production facility in Mountain View County, Alberta, Canada. Aurora trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “ACB”.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,

Terry Booth

This news release contains certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of such statements under applicable securities law. Forward-looking statements are frequently characterized by words such as “plan”, “continue”, “expect”, “project”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “potential”, “proposed” and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions “may” or “will” occur. These statements are only predictions. Various assumptions were used in drawing the conclusions or making the projections contained in the forward-looking statements throughout this news release. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the statements are made, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. The Company is under no obligation, and expressly disclaims any intention or obligation, to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law.

The TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE Aurora Cannabis Inc

Original article can be found here

Future of Cannabis Culture dispensaries up in smoke after police raids

“Our livelihood, our brand, our money, our inventories all gone!” says owner Marc Emery, after co-ordinated police operation shuts down storefront marijuana shops in Toronto and franchise’s head office in Vancouver 

 Cannabis Culture’s Queen West location was closed after Friday’s police raids. 

The faint smell of marijuana smoke hung in the halls of Old City Hall on Friday, as dozens turned out for the bail hearing of Cannabis Culture dispensary owners Marc and Jodie Emery.

The “Prince and Princess of Pot,” were arrested, along with business partners Chris Goodwin, Erin Goodwin, and Britney Guerra, on Wednesday night and charged with raft of marijuana-related offences, including trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime. The arrests were part of Project Gator, a nationwide operation co-ordinated by Toronto police specifically targeting six Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto and Hamilton, and Cannabis Culture’s magazine offices in Vancouver, where no charges were laid but computers seized. Two Cannabis Culture stores in Ottawa were also raided, though police say those were not connected to Project Gator.

Police seized more than 65 kilograms of cannabis and 2.4 kilograms of concentrates, as well as more than $250,000 in cash, ramping up a police war on dispensaries that has been escalating in recent weeks as the Trudeau government, which has promised a recreational marijuana regime by spring, continues to drag its feet on legalization.  

It’s unclear why Cannabis Culture was targeted. One might interpret Project Gator as a final swipe by the police at the Emerys, who have had a long history of facing off against law enforcement as the faces of the legalization movement in Canada. The couple were front and centre during last May’s Project Claudia raids, with Jodie Emery crashing the police press conference at City Hall to protest the police action. 

But a number of armed robberies of dispensaries in recent months, including at a dispensary on Eglinton West in midtown February 15, has sparked renewed calls from local politicians to shutdown the operations.

And while the Emerys were released Friday, there will be questions about the future of their storefront franchise, which boasts some 19 locations in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

As a condition of their release, both Marc and Jodie Emery must not aid in the operation of their businesses. The Emerys were given two weeks to extricate themselves from the day-to-day operation of Cannabis Culture or risk violating the terms of their release and being sent to jail.

There are no clear answers on how the stores will operate without the involvement of the Emerys, who have been the face of the franchise. But the couple seem prepared to comply with the terms of their release for now. 

“Jodie and I can no longer be involved with Cannabis Culture stores or the brand, despite it being the culmination of 24 years of hard work and struggle,” wrote Emery in a Facebook post late Friday, that he says was written in an internet cafe after police seized their phones and computers. “You won’t find me at any Cannabis Culture stores, or any dispensary, for that matter. Our livelihood, our brand, our money, our inventories all gone!” 

Emery writes that plans are in the works for a cross-Canada tour in May, but the couple’s current bail conditions forbid them from leaving Ontario. 

According to Emery, Cannabis Culture employees are “keen to take over” the businesses.

Certainly, by Friday afternoon, even before the Emerys had been released, Cannabis Culture’s Church Street store had re-opened, with staff openly defying the police by selling a special strain, “OG Gator,” as a middle finger to the police operation.

“We’re going to re-open every time,” said Chris, an employee at the store, who did not provide a last name. He, along with other employees and the store manager, were present during the raids, but not charged. It was another twist in a day full of them.

What should have otherwise been a fairly routine bail hearing was marked by confusion from the start. First scheduled for 10 am, the start time was pushed back an hour to accommodate the large crowd of supporters in the courthouse. Proceedings were delayed again, because the defendants had not fully read the 50-page summary setting out the charges against them. Shortly after noon, the court learned that the Justice of the Peace assigned to the court had become ill and needed to be taken to hospital, delaying proceedings until after 2 pm, when another justice could be found. All five were eventually released at around 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Emerys will appear in court again on April 21. Their lawyer had initially proposed April 20 (also known as 420, the day reserved for the annual smoke-out at Nathan Phillips Square), but moved the date at Marc Emery’s immediate – and passionate – objection. 

Original article can be found here

Jodie Emery forced to give up Cannabis Culture

Canada’s “Princess of Pot” has been dethroned.

After her recent arrest along with husband Marc at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport as part of a sting operation targeting Cannabis Culture outlets across the country, Jodie Emery has been set free but with cruel and unusual bail conditions.

Including giving up her life’s work with Cannabis Culture.

In a Facebook post, she recounted her ordeal to supporters:

“I’m finally free, along with my beloved husband and friends, after I spent two long nights in remand and then a women’s jail here in Toronto. It was horrific and degrading and unjust, being stripped naked twice, caged in numerous cells, and put through that entire ordeal but now I know first-hand what so many hundreds of thousands of people have suffered and experienced at the hands of sadistic prohibitionists.”

In order to be released on bail, I am no longer allowed to be the owner and operator of Cannabis Culture — including the magazine, headshops, and vapour lounges. I cannot attend any location, not even our 307 West Hastings Street headquarters, where I’ve spent 13 years devoting my life 100% to ending cannabis prohibition and the drug war worldwide. My advocacy won’t end. My activism won’t stop. But it will all be done as the individual Jodie Emery, not as part of Cannabis Culture, which utterly breaks my heart.

We have had everything taken from us by these actions of the Toronto Drug Squad, Toronto Police, and the Trudeau Liberal government but we have survived cruel injustices before, and we will survive this massive effort to destroy us and our hard work. And I know I can live in peace, knowing that we have NEVER hurt anyone — it’s the prohibitionist government and police who have hurt and even killed millions of people in their drug war — and knowing our decades of activism work has helped millions of people worldwide. The aggressors and oppressors are the evil-doers… we’ve only every been peaceful and passionate in our campaign for true cannabis freedom.

Tomorrow, we hope to get phones so we can speak with family, friends and loved ones. For now, I want to say thank you to everyone who supports us, and I promise that I will NEVER stop pushing for liberty for our people, our culture, and our plant. That’s been the goal all along, even those long hard years of Marc’s 2005-2014 extradition battle and imprisonment, when we had next to nothing, but still gave our all to the marijuana legalization movement.

Sending love to everyone who fights alongside us for freedom.”

Original article can be found here