Marijuana Politics

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Ontario hasn’t learned all its lessons from the previous pot licence lottery

The Ontario government has announced it will allow 50 more cannabis shops to open in October. Eight are allotted to First Nations reserves. The other 42 will be chosen by lottery. Unfortunately, the government has learned only some of the lessons from its previous cannabis lottery experience last January.

The announcement of more stores is good news for the fight against black markets. Ontario has trailed other provinces on that goal because it lacks enough legal retailers.

Statistics Canada's latest retailing report confirmed the value of physical stores. Ontario's legal recreational cannabis sales totalled just $7.7 million in March, when only online sales were available. That jumped to $19.7 million in April after the first dozen shops opened.


Ontario to issue 50 new pot shop licences under new vetting process

Ontario will issue 50 new cannabis retail licences this year, a move aimed at expanding legal pot sales in the country's largest marijuana market while helping to stamp out the illicit industry, the provincial government announced Wednesday. 

The province plans to issue 42 new licences for private-sector retailers who successfully pre-qualify to be part of a new lottery system later this month. The remaining eight licences will be allocated for outlets in First Nations communities. 


Fake cannabis labels circulating in Saskatchewan

The symbols found on the packaging of legal recreational cannabis for sale in Saskatchewan are hard to miss: A red octagon with the letters THC and a stylized cannabis leaf; a white and yellow warning label advising users to keep the product out of the reach of children. 

But these symbols can also be found on illegal cannabis disguised to look like the legitimate product. 

Now, at least one member of Saskatoon's legal cannabis community is advising customers to use caution when ordering cannabis online, because while the product and website might look legitimate, they could be making an illegal purchase.

Chase Ruttig is an assistant manager with Prairie Records in Saskatoon.


Canada passes law to speed pardons for pot possession

The Canadian government passed a law late on Wednesday that would allow its citizens with a criminal record for marijuana possession to be pardoned without any cost and expedite a process that previously could take up a decade.

The new bill is aimed at shedding the “burden of stigma” and removing barriers for employment, education, housing, volunteering and travel for people with records for simple possession of cannabis, Senator Tony Dean said in a statement.

The bill titled C-93 follows Canada’s legalization of the sale and recreational use of marijuana and cannabis products last year, making Canada the first industrialized nation to legalize recreational cannabis.


Canada reports C$186 million in cannabis taxes since legalization

In the first report, the Government of Canada says it earned C$186 million from taxes on legal marijuana products in the first five and a half months after the legalization of recreational use on October 17. In 2019 alone, the government has collected a total of C$107.1 million from general and excise taxes at both the federal and provincial levels.

The provinces have accumulated C$79 million in excise taxes, while the federal government has raked in excise tax revenue of C$19 million so far in 2019.

In its release, the government indicates that revenue from general taxes is expected to rise for the remainder of 2019 as more cannabis stores open their doors across the country.


First pot, then magic mushrooms? Decriminalization is spreading

As cannabis legalization spreads across the globe, another mind-altering drug is trying to follow in its tracks: magic mushrooms.

Denver voted in May to decriminalize the fungus that contains psilocybin, a psychedelic compound popularized by ’60s counterculture. Oakland, California followed Denver’s lead a few weeks later and Oregon is trying to get a similar measure on the ballot for 2020.


Legislators to discuss marijuana laws, opioid crisis at conference in Sioux Falls

Water quality, marijuana laws and the opioid crisis will be topics of discussion among legislators gathering in Sioux Falls this week. 

Legislators from the Dakotas, Minnesota and Manitoba are meeting this week to hear from experts and discuss cross-border policy issues during the annual International Legislators Forum, which is being held in Sioux Falls this year. The forum, in which eight legislators from each jurisdiction meet, grew out of the 1997 Red River flood and is facilitated by the Consensus Committee, a public policy nonprofit based in Bismark, N.D.

"It's a way of trying to solve problems and try to minimize partisan politics," said Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, who helped organize this year's forum.


Not your pot? Could this still be a problem for drivers transporting passengers carrying cannabis?

A recent court ruling out of Newfoundland and Labrador could have implications elsewhere in the country for those driving or having control of a vehicle in which cannabis is being transported, especially if not theirs and without their knowledge.

While the lower court ruling is not binding in Newfoundland and Labrador or other provinces, it may make it harder for prosecutors across Canada to obtain convictions for provincial cannabis transportation offences where the driver did not know there was cannabis in the vehicle. Canadians charged with such offences now have a persuasive case that their lawyers can point to in order to try to convince a judge to dismiss the charges or at least mitigate their sentence upon conviction.


Global marijuana trade is still five to seven years off, but Canada aims to be world's cannabis king

Cam Battley believes that in the not-too-distant future, his company — one of Canada’s largest licensed producers — will be exporting a “significant chunk” of the cannabis it is growing domestically.

“We have a massive market over in Europe, even in Latin America,” says Battley, chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis Inc. “These countries are legalizing medicinal cannabis one by one but they’re not growing as much as us. They’re going to need product, and we’ve already got the ball rolling on exporting.”


Canadian cannabis companies facing harsh rules for new drug formats

Call it the gummy conundrum.

Canada released its regulations Friday for new cannabis formats that will become legal this fall, including edibles, beverages and vape cartridges. The government crafted rules aimed at keeping the drug out of the hands of minors, so it wasn't surprising to see producers will be prohibited from selling products "that can reasonably be considered appealing to a young person."

But the vagueness of that phrase has led to some head-scratching.

"A cookie is appealing to a kid, so can I make a cookie? Can I make a brownie? What do you mean by appealing to kids?" said cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser, a partner at Brazeau Seller Law in Ottawa.


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