Check out this short video we put together of the footage of Hempology 101 mascot Herb running the Times Colonist 10K marathon. Big thanks to the Bong Station team and the Photo and Video takers. Despite getting a late start, and it being a windy day, Herb hit the bong and ran the Marathon: An amazing job by Ted Smith.
With the legalization of cannabis just around the corner in Canada, there is a great deal to discuss. Giving stakeholders an opportunity to debate various points regarding the use, production and distribution of cannabis should contribute to the public discourse. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the International Hempology 101 Society will begin hosting monthly presentations in Victoria, B.C. relying on its newspaper, the Cannabis Digest and other media to share the highlights.
Regulations controlling the cannabis industry could range from tight rules favoring large companies to policies that ensure minimum standards exist that encourage small businesses to flourish. While other jurisdictions have legalized cannabis, providing some examples of how cannabis can be regulated, there is no obvious path the Canadian government will take. Since it appears a lot of the decisions will be made by provincial governments, there is good reason to focus the conversation in Victoria.
Cam Birge with other Hempology Guest Speakers
Since it started over two decades ago, the International Hempology 101 Society has held a wide range of events to help bring awareness to cannabis and the faults of prohibition. Having organized many conventions, lectures, rallies, book signings and press conferences, hosting monthly hour long discussions will be easy. The format will be simple, two guests will be invited each month to speak about a pre-determined topic, with opportunities for the audience to ask questions.
These gatherings will be hosted by Cam Birge, known locally for his work with the Sensible BC campaign. In 2013, he lead the local drive for signatures, renting a downtown office to coordinate efforts in the region. His keen business mind will ensure none of the speakers get away with a vague or incomplete answer.
Topics will range each month from economic impacts, medical uses, government policies, legal challenges, industry developments, and cultivation. There are many local entrepreneurs working with cannabis and so many other professionals, professors, doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc, that there will be no shortage of speakers. Video recordings will provide those unable to attend a chance to watch later.
Posters and press releases for each monthly will be released as details of the speakers are confirmed. The first monthly cannabis conversation will be on May 12 at noon at the downtown public library. The public is welcome, it is free to attend but donations are welcome. For more details please email email@example.com.
After over 20 years of using various dates to raise awareness about cannabis on International Medical Marijuana Day, a day with special meaning for many cannabis patients in Canada has been chosen to celebrate. Last year the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous decision protecting the rights of patients who choose to use cannabis extracts on June 11 in the trial of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club. It only makes sense to move the date of the IMMD to this meaningful day.
Since June 11 is generally a nice day, we hope to encourage individuals and activist groups across the world to host picnics in public parks so patients and their supporters can gather to share some cookies or other treats. In Victoria, the International Hempology 101 Society will host a picnic starting at 4:20 pm on Sat June 11 at what is known as the Mushroom Tree in Beacon Hill Park (near the bandshell). As opposed to other years, the intent of these picnics is not to protest but is meant to provide a safe space for patients to enjoy their medicine with others.
Certainly sharing cannabis cookies on International Medical Marijuana Day is nothing new. The idea came to me in 1999. With little warning, I made 101 cookies and handed them out at a rally in the inner courtyard of the downtown public library in full view of a police officer and the press. When I showed up with 420 cookies the next year, things did not go so well. I was arrested and eventually convicted by a jury of possession for the purposes of trafficking THC. My sentence was 1 day in jail, which was really less than 3 hours.
The origins of International Medical Marijuana Day go back to Nov 15, 1994 in Washington DC and other cities across the USA. After learning of this, we started to organize events on Nov 15, 1995 to coordinate with activists down south but no solid contact was made. In fact, a several years ago we learned US activists were organizing a week of events in Feb and we tried to do the same here but again failed to make direct contact with organizers across the border. A few years ago we simply moved IMMD to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, in a desperate attempt to direct people away from alcohol and over to a greener, more friendly product.
Over the years we have tried many different approaches to raise awareness about medical cannabis. Since 2002, the City of Victoria has officially acknowledged International Medical Marijuana Day with a proclamation that makes several statements directing citizens to respect patients choosing to use cannabis as medicine. It is our hope that other civil rights activists will learn how easy it is to request their city council do the same this year, much like other activists have used proclamations to raise awareness and public support for their causes.
Our society has also organized a silent art auction on IMMD for many years, as we have almost been constantly fighting in court. We will be encouraging organizers of other picnics to hold small auctions or raffles to support a local court case or patient that has suffered the wrath of the law. This year we will likely organize both a silent art auction at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club and a raffle at the picnic, though we have not yet decided where the funds will go..
Anyone interested in organizing a picnic in their area for International Medical Marijuana Day should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posters have been made available with a space to add the location, making it easy to print and distribute. Start organizing now if you wish to help organize a picnic on June 11, as it will come up fast.
Canadians who are ill, and who believe they are obtaining relief from cannabis, have a constitutionally protected right to grow their own medicine. So said Justice Michael Phelan of the BC Federal Court on February 24 2016. At least that’s how I read it. Based on evidence presented by plaintiff Neil Allard and three other Canadian patients, as well as through written presentations by criminology professor Susan Boyd, president of CAMCD Jamie Shaw, and others, Phelan struck down Health Canada’s MMPR. The MMPR, for those new to the subject, allowed patients to buy by mail order only from about 29 federally licensed Canadian producers. In 2014 the MMPR replaced the MMAR, regulations that had allowed patients to grow for themselves, or to appoint someone to grow for them. The judge has given Health Canada six months to give patients a better system. The Trudeau government could appeal the decision, but as the defense’s case was poor, an appeal seems unlikely—one hopes. Truth to be told, the Liberal Health Canada is a stranger.
In any case, this is what the judge said.
1. There is a paucity of scientific evidence on medical cannabis. In the absence of scientific evidence, patient anecdotes are an acceptable substitute. Patient testimony is therefore accepted as true. More generally, cannabis is accepted as having medicinal value. (I may be mistaken, but I think that’s a first, both on the subject of anecdotes, and on cannabis as a medicine. Perhaps like many of us, Justice Phelan spent one too many days having to listen to Health Canada under Harper.)
2. It is accepted that some patients need access to particular strains that they grow for themselves, and whose supply cannot be guaranteed by an MMPR-like system. (Actually, I’m not sure such supply can be guaranteed by any market system.) It is accepted that home growing is cost effective, and that some patients cannot afford what is on the market. It is accepted, in addition, that there is therapeutic value in having a personal garden. (Recognizing both the need for particular strains, and the therapeutic value of growing them has to be a first as well. This judge is our friend.)
3. ONE HAS TO BE LOGICAL. The law forbidding home gardens was premised on the idea that home gardens are unsafe both for patients and the general public. But there is no factual basis for this idea. It is possible, in a regulated system, for patients to grow cannabis at home safely. Thus to deny them the right to grow is arbitrary.
4. Similarly, the MMPR was put in place ostensibly to improve patient access to medical cannabis. But it did the opposite. The MMPR was meant to increase patient safety. Instead, it caused patients to live in fear of arrest and prosecution. These facts, too, make the MMPR arbitrary.
5. Patient access to medical cannabis has to be a primary concern of any future lawmakers. (That’s a clear order to Health Canada, to take off the 3-D prohibition glasses.)
Given these points, what can Health Canada do? Here is what it cannot do. It cannot forbid medicinal home gardens. And it cannot force patients to buy what they can ill afford. So it cannot rely solely on an absurdly expensive to run, mandated set of suppliers.
It cannot restate the idea that home growing is dangerous. Neither it nor its expert witnesses have factual records to show that this notion is true. It cannot to stick with its previous claims that cannabis is not a medicine. The BC Federal Court accepts that cannabis has medicinal value. It cannot rant about the weaknesses of anecdotal evidence. The court has accepted this evidence.
Justice Phelan noted that under the MMAR, Canadian patients were accorded a calculated daily allowance that is high by international standards —18.22 grams/day. Other nations, Israel and The Netherlands, for example, allow 3-5 grams/day. Why this is the case, he says, is unknown to the court, and any reasons offered have been “highly speculative.” But he raised no alarm, and made no suggestion that this allowance needs to be revisited.
It is widely known that the generous growing allowance produces a surplus, and that this surplus is sold through medical cannabis dispensaries. If Justice Phelan understands how this works he didn’t say. But he did say that he took seriously Jamie Shaw’s written testimony that the dispensaries have been the “heart” of access for most patients. He didn’t go so far as to say: I ‘heart’ dispensaries. But he might just as well have. Enhancing access was his main goal. And of course, city councils here and there are beginning to license dispensaries. So unless I’m mistaken, dispensaries have just moved another step toward to legitimacy; Health Canada would be hard pressed to try ordering them to shut down.
But it cannot un-license or otherwise eliminate the LPs either.
So within the allotted six-month time limit, these are the moves open to Health Canada. It will not be able to reinvent everything, and will have to make use of systems already in place.
1. Re-institute the MMAR or something like it. Re-instate growing rights arbitrarily taken away from some MMAR growers, and allow new patients to apply. On this matter, Health Canada has little choice.
2. Re-institute the right to grow, regulate it, but reduce the allowable number of plants, perhaps with an eye to starving dispensaries of supply. I can see the last regime trying that. Such a policy, however, would encourage more unregulated supply, hardly a step toward safety.
Lead Lawyer John Conroy
3. Accept and recognize the value of dispensaries, and allow city councils to regulate them. Recognize that the MMAR/dispensary system serves patients well, and harms no one.
4. Or let patients grow, say nothing at all about dispensaries, and just leave them alone. But that is a cruel option, as it leaves dispensaries vulnerable to police harassment.
5. Allow the LPs to market their products through the pharmacies that wish to sell them, or through dispensaries that are willing to accept them, or to the American or any other foreign market, if that can be arranged.
6. Allow and encourage the LPs and the MMAR/dispensary systems to explore ways to work together. Let those who are willing be friends and trading partners.
7. Cultivate good will. Institute a program designed to educate doctors on cannabis medicines, set aside funds for research, and conduct some research. Show some humility, and engage in self-education.
Anything more stringent than the above will drive the industry further underground, start more court challenges, and make Health Canada look as fervently biased and incompetent as some of its expert witnesses. Rona Ambrose didn’t seem to mind looking fervently biased, but the current minister, Jane Philpott, might.
We don’t know this new government. They campaigned on the idea of liberalizing cannabis laws, but thus far one hears nothing on what this idea means. Will the new Health Canada show compassion and liberality? Will it demonstrate an understanding of cannabis as medicine, or of patients’ needs? Will it recognize the expertise of medical cannabis activists? Will it show respect for the courts? If it can’t do any of these, we will see more absurdity… in the short run, anyway. Attitudes are changing. Laws on medical cannabis are bellwether to cannabis laws in general. The next six months will tell us if this newly elected crew has brought with it a new spirit, or is just trying to look trendy.
Regulating Medical Marijuana Related Businesses in Victoria
The City of Victoria is currently exploring potential regulations for the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce community impacts of these businesses, while maintaining access to medical marijuana.
For the next three weeks, residents and business owners are invited to learn more and share feedback through an online survey and an open house and town hall.
About Medical Marijuana:
Medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada. Under current Health Canada regulations medical marijuana can be prescribed and then ordered from a licensed producer. Mail order is the only approved way to purchase medical marijuana.
Although some storefront retailers are currently selling marijuana, none have a Health Canada licence that permits this. The federal government has indicated that they will be exploring options to legalize marijuana during their term.
Over the course of the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of marijuana-related businesses operating in the City of Victoria. It is estimated that there are currently 30 medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria, with approximately 26 of these operating as storefront medical marijuana retailers.
Public Input to Date:
In the fall of 2015, community concerns and benefits relating to the storefront sale of medical marijuana were identified. Over 80% of survey respondents seemed generally supportive of moving towards the regulation of medical marijuana-related businesses. There was strong support for:
-standard security measures
-discreet signage and advertising
-limiting the number and location of storefronts selling medical marijuana
-focusing on customers with a medical need
-some concern about developing regulations for an activity that is currently not legal in Canada.
The proposed regulations distinguish between several different types of medical marijuana-related businesses:
storefront medical marijuana retailers: includes any business selling medical marijuana to customers directly from a retail storefront. These include non-profit compassion clubs and for-profit businesses.
businesses that keep marijuana on the premises: includes bakeries and other production facilities and storefront medical marijuana retailers. It does not include Health Canada-authorized licensed producers, which are already subject to stringent federal regulations regarding facility construction and security.
medical marijuana-related businesses: includes all medical marijuana-related business types, regardless of whether they keep or sell marijuana on the premises. This includes paraphernalia shops, medical marijuana consulting services, storefront medical marijuana retailers and medical marijuana bakeries or production facilities.
The City is considering the following regulations:
Proposed Regulations to address health and safety concerns:
a) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow individuals under the age of 19 on the premises.
b) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not advertise or promote the use of marijuana to a minor, including through product displays, names, logos or other signage. Minors should not be able to determine that a business is selling medical marijuana based on signage, displays or advertising that can easily be viewed by a minor.
c) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not sell any food products other than tinctures, capsules or edible oils.
d) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must post health and safety warning signs on the premises, such as:
- Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada.
- Products have not been authorized for sale under the Food and Drugs Act. They have not been assessed for safety or efficacy to treat or prevent any disease or symptom.
- Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of marijuana products.
- For use only by adults 19 and older. Keep out of reach from children.
e) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not deliver or mail products to customers.
Proposed regulations to address neighbourhood impacts:
f) Storefront medical marijuana retailersmust be at least 200 m from schools and other storefront medical marijuana retailers. (In practice, this would be accomplished through changes to the City’s zoning regulation bylaw. There are a number of factors that would impact whether or not rezoning would be required for existing retailers.)
g) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow the consumption of marijuana on the premises.
h) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must install and maintain an air filtration system to ensure odour impacts on neighbouring properties are minimized.
Proposed regulations to address security concerns:
i) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not be open for business between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
j) No other business can be conducted on the premises of a storefront medical marijuana retailer.
k) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must implement the following measures to deter criminal activity while the business is open to the public:
-At least two employees must be on duty, and
-Windows must not be blocked
l) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must submit the following as part of their initial business licence application and on each renewal:
-A security plan
-Police information check for the applicant and every on-site manager
-Proof of a security alarm contract
-Proof of ownership or legal possession of the premises, including the written consent of the landlord if the premises are leased
m) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must implement the following security measures:
-Video surveillance cameras must be installed and monitored.
-A security and fire alarm system must be installed and monitored at all times.
-Valuables must be removed from the business premises or locked in a safe on the business premises at all times when the business is not in operation.
n) The proposed business licence fee range for storefront medical marijuana retailers has been determined based upon an estimate of the costs required to administer this type of licence, on a cost recovery basis.
Proposed annual licence fee:
0) At this time, it is anticipated that the annual licence fee for storefront medical marijuana retailers would likely be between $4,000 and $5,000.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are officially allowed within the City of Port Alberni—at least as far as the municipal government is concerned.
The votes remained the same as they have since the issue was first raised after WeeMedical opened its doors at the end October 2015 despite the public hearing preceding the council meeting. Mayor Mike Ruttan and Coun. Denis Sauve voted against regulating dispensaries and the other five councillors voted for regulations.
Over 40 people had packed council chambers earlier on Monday evening to voice their opinions—and the speaker’s list was split 9-8 for and against.
“Does council have the right to make these regulations?” asked Neil Anderson.
“Why are we doing this? We’ve got the cart ahead of the horse. It’s ass-backwards,” said new resident Fred Mann.
“Under the current law of the country of Canada, is what we’re doing here legal?”
“Under the current federal law, medical marijuana storefront dispensaries are not legal,” said city planner Scott Smith.
Local realtor Chuck Beyer spoke out in favour of regulations.
“What are the opportunity costs of not licencing these places? If you go a couple blocks from here and these stores are not open, the demand will simply be met by residential homes,” said Beyer.
“The police can’t possibly take care of it anymore… and politicians don’t lead, they follow. They stick their finger up in the air and they see which way the wind is blowing.”
Aaron Brevick, who owns a dispensary on Athol Street, raised concerns over privacy regulations.
“I’m not a big fan of the open glass storefront policy that’s being mandated. I believe that people should have the choice of privacy,” said Brevick. He wasn’t the only one to raise that concern
Lee Green from Nanaimo said that due to the current stigma on medical marijuana usage, people are embarrassed to buy it and deserve their privacy. Green suggested a frosted glass storefront instead of a clear one.
At the regular council meeting later on Monday night, council voted to approve zoning bylaw regulations as follow:
• dispensaries are allowed in general, service, highway commercial and core business zones
• dispensaries are not permitted within 1000 m of each other or 300 m of schools
• dispensaries must be dispensaries only—no shared use
• no ATMS
Approved business bylaw regulation include:
• all dispensaries, even non-profits require a $220 business licence
• store fronts must be transparent
• no minors
• signage to indicate product is unregulated
• an understanding that city bylaws do not mean compliance with senior government laws
Fines of $100-150 per day can be levied if the above requirements aren’t met, Smith said.
DENVER — We all know what to do when we find expired milk in refrigerators. But what about expired marijuana edibles?
As Colorado’s burgeoning pot industry continues to grow, it’s a question some have asked.
Usually, you can do the smell test to figure out if something has gone bad.
The answers might not be so obvious when it comes to expired marijuana edibles. But Denver’s Department of Environmental Health said many of the same rules apply.
Whether it’s milk that has gone bad or an edible whose expiration date has come and gone, both generally won’t make you sick.
“When it’s past its prime, it’s going to develop spoilage organisms, things that might cause mold, an off taste. But those are not the same types of organisms that make us sick,” said Danica Less, spokeswoman with the Denver Department of Environmental Health.
Instead, expired edibles won’t be at their peak of freshness or quality. But what about THC, the ingredient that induces a high?
“The THC level pretty much remains the same. What changes after the expiration date is the consistency of the edible product itself,” said Stan Zislis, the owner of Silver Stem Fine Cannabis.
Still, he said he won’t sell expired product. He said most vendors will pick it up and destroy it according to state regulator guidelines.
“Generally, it has to be ground up with general waste, rendered unusable,” Zislis said.
But what about expired edibles at home? Just like spoiled milk or yucky yogurt, toss it in the trash.
But if you don’t want to throw away good money on sometimes pricey pot products, Lee said you can freeze them and stop the clock to preserve the quality.
But some edible users said their goodies aren’t around long enough to expire.
Lee said the organisms that make people sick like salmonella and E. coli come from contamination and not the natural process of decay.
So, generally, the most danger you’ll find from expired edibles is breaking a tooth on a rock-hard gummy.
The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), which held its national convention in Calgary last week, says the current Industrial Hemp Regulations need to be changed.
Under the current rules, Canadian farmers are only permitted to harvest the seeds and bare stock.
CHTA Executive Director Kim Shukla says although hemp contains low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, there is another beneficial cannabinoid known as cannabidiol or CBD that is contained in other parts of the plant.
“That has been shown under research to have some pretty significant beneficial health impacts,” she said. “This is being supported by research studies that have been done in Canada and abroad.”
In a CHTA press release, Dr. Steve Laviolette of the University of Western Ontario states, “Cannabidiol may serve as an effective treatment for devastating psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, emerging evidence is revealing potential benefits of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy.”
Shukla says other jurisdictions, including parts of the US, are permitted to harvest other parts of the hemp plant, which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage.
“What’s really quite frustrating is that Canada has been the leader in hemp production for the past 15 years. It’s a market advantage that we have but we are very close to losing that advantage because of these antiquated regulations under which we operate,” she said.
CHTA is asking for immediate action from the newly elected Liberal government. Shukla is hoping the Liberals stance on legalizing marijuana will have on positive impact on the hemp industry.
She estimates losses to Canadian farmers to be in the billions of dollars.
Dispute about right to grow individually and wrangling between government bodies could be among issues
Many groups don’t see full recreational marijuana program in the next 12 months
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – From celebrations to threats of protests against Prime Minister Trudeau in a little over a month, many pot advocates are worried the push to legalize marijuana in Canada will be a total mess.
“There are going to be a lot of things for the Trudeau government to reckon with. A lot of people are hoping this is going to be an easy process but so far, we haven’t received many details about how he’s going to make this happen,” says Rachel Browne, a reporter for VICE News, which has put out a piece extrapolating on the difficulties around repeated promises to “legalize, regulate, and restrict” access to marijuana for recreational use in Canada.
“There’s an ongoing dispute about the right to grow individually. The big companies in charge of creating and distributing medical marijuana right now do not think people should have the right to grow their own plants,” Browne tells NEWS 1130.
“There are also concerns about medical marijuana and the rights that patients have. If they have to go to the recreational markets, there are questions about how that will override their medical needs.”
She also points out there will be a lot of wrangling between Health Canada, Public Safety, and the Department of Justice.
“There’s also a concern that there will possibly be a monopoly in the cultivation and supply of marijuana. But I have heard that the group representing many dispensaries is now starting to communicate with Health Canada, which they weren’t able to do under the Conservative government. There are new voices the government will now have to reckon with.”
The prime minister has said it could take years to get through the legalization process and many of the groups Browne spoke with don’t see a full recreational marijuana program within the next 12 months.
“But a lot of advocates I’ve talked to think Trudeau could immediately strike cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and there could be bigger discussions when it comes to the ongoing raids on dispensaries and the criminal charges that continue to be laid for marijuana-related offences,” she says.
“Some of the people I spoke with said they rallied together to help Trudeau get into office, hoping this would get done quickly. I’ve heard the term ‘revolt’ used. Some advocates say that if Trudeau comes to Vancouver anytime soon, they will hold protests.”
The head of Sensible BC is among those demanding the Liberal government immediately stop arrests for cannabis possession and personal cultivation.
“We are seeing arrests and raids with police waging a pointless battle against medical marijuana access. It’s pretty shocking that we are seeing this accelerating under Trudeau, which is something we didn’t expect,” says Dana Larsen, who says pot users will legitimize weed their own way.
“I am encouraging people to start growing cannabis in their outdoor gardens this spring. Everybody should be growing a half dozen plants whether or not it’s legal. This campaign isn’t about waiting for politicians to do the right thing, it’s always been about us moving forward and ‘overgrowing’ the government, civilly disobeying these laws,” says Larsen.
New Justice Minister asked to set up legal framework
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on Canada’s newly appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould to look into implementing marijuana legalization in the country.
In a mandate letter written to Wilson-Raybould, published on Friday, Trudeau asked her to collaborate with other ministers to “create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
But challenges involving the regulation of edible marijuana, and drug-impaired driving, could still hinder the legalization process, Lewis Koski, Colorado’s director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division, told the CBC. Colorado is one of four U.S. states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized.
“It’s going to be a lot harder to implement than you think. It’s going to take a lot longer to do it. And it’s going to cost more than you think,” Koski said.