By admin | July 18, 2016
David “ Guppy Fish “ Easterbrook was a life-long chaser of love and life, who made himself known from coast to coast for his Rainbow suspenders; roller-skates and Coon-skin hat; his dapper, silver adorned chapeau; his moustache; Guppy-Goo; and Wibble-Tokers, for the consumption of world class Cannabinoids.
He started his Cannabis and Spirit journey one fateful Valentines-Day when he returned home from the air-force, and joined his friends to sit in his friend’s newly done up hot rod. They fired it up to listen to it run, and then someone passed around a joint, his first…well, let’s just say he started fast ‘cause it was DMT cured.
After enjoying watching things fly through the car, and blasting the radio until the car ran out of gas, he fell in love with Mary Jane and the hippie lifestyle.
He was already the Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer type, but this really started him on his biggest adventure. It took him all the way to places like Woodstock, Rochdale College, and Shambala. He finished his journey, making a world of difference in the Vancouver cannabis scene, or “Vansterdam.”
He had always been known for his genuine love for photography, creativity, love, and of course, Cannabis. He had spent a lifetime learning the various methods of growing and extracting Cannabis, and became best known for his product, made of a mixture of premium extracts. He called it Guppy-Goo. The fun, and the funky glassware almost always guaranteed to leave you on the floor, or at least leave your head spinning.
His special recipe for spreading goodness was based on recognizing the hurt and damage in others, and on sharing genuine love, support, and respect. Most importantly, he shared the truth, even when it hurt. He always did so in the gentlest way possible because he knew that “we have all been there.” He could always be found doling out tokes, hugs, and sage advice at his usual haunts: the Vancouver Seed Bank, The New Amsterdam Café, and the Cannabis Culture Lounge.
He loved nothing more than watching others grow, and did all that he could to support everyone the same way that they supported him.
Some of his greatest achievements involved helping to instill love and camaraderie in the community, and running a Cannabis friendly studio that hosted the 1st Kush Cup. It was the first, open to the public, indoor, 4:20 market in Canada. He opened a dispensary, and hobnobbed with some of the biggest names in the scene, like Timothy Leary, Woody Harrelson, and his long time hero, Tommy Chong.
David finished his journey last December when he lost his battle with lung cancer. In the end he was surrounded by loved ones, and comforted by knowing that he had spent a lifetime spreading hope and wellbeing in his community.
He will always be remembered for leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy with a toke, a hug, and his favorite saying: “Thank you for being a part of my dream.”
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By admin | July 4, 2016
People that do not even smoke cannabis know that BC has some of the best herb in the world. For decades cannabis farmers have illegally used first hidden valleys, and then basement hydroponic setups to produce volumes of high grade herb. But with legalization on the cusp those days are soon coming to an end. Or are they?
At this stage the Province of British Columbia has a unique opportunity to create a flourishing cannabis industry. But it could go very sour. There is a lot of concern that Licensed Producers under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations will be the only legal growers under the new rules, and that government owned stores may be the only legal places to purchase cannabis products. If the cannabis community wants to have any hope of influencing the government’s direction; if we want to move away from models that benefit large corporations, and towards regulations that encourage a robust craft industry, then we need to start doing more than holding 420 rallies and opening dispensaries.
Recently I had tea with a few friends working in the provincial government. From that conversation it became clear to me that the cannabis culture that has lead the movement is not well prepared for the massive changes that are under way. As the government moves to legalize, new waves of entrepreneurs and investors are applying mounting pressure on politicians and bureaucrats to create laws that would tightly restrict who can grow and sell the herb. If the activists that fought so hard for legalization want a reasonable set of regulations, they need to make a sincere effort to make sure legalization allows formerly illegal operators to become part of the new scheme. Excluding those who have been working in the cannabis field for decades will bring massive problems.
The province cannot do much yet to prepare for implementing legalization. It must wait until the federal government’s task force, announced on the last day of June, completes its work in the fall. That task force is comprised mostly of law enforcement, doctors and lawyers, with the exception of outspoken anti-prohibitionist Dr Susan Boyd. Of course the federal government will not be bound to accept everything this panel suggests when it introduces legislation to legalize in the spring of 2017. Still, the recommendations will be highly persuasive.
“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, supported by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Health, has created a Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (“the Task Force”). The Task Force is mandated to engage with provincial , territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, and experts in relevant fields, including but not limited to: public health, substance abuse, criminal justice, law enforcement, economics, and industry and those groups with expertise in production, distribution and sales. The Task Force will provide advice on the design of a new framework. The Task Force will receive submissions from interested parties, including individual Canadians, consult widely, listen and learn, and commission any necessary focussed research to support its work. It is supported by a federal secretariat and will report back to the three Ministers on behalf of the Government in November 2016, on a date to be determined by the Ministers.” 1. (LINK)
To the dismay of cannabis activists, another person with a long history of supporting tough drug laws is leading this panel, Anne McLellan. “Ms. McLellan served four terms as the Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre, during which she was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Natural Resources.” 1. (LINK)
The government website fails to mention that the company she now works for, Bennett Jones, has been hired by several LPs, clearly putting her in a conflict of interest. Hopefully the rest of the task force will have a more open mind about the subject and be willing to take the time to listen to everyone who wishes to provide input into the process.
The public has been given until Aug 29 to make written submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also surveys about different components of legalization at
A concerted effort needs to be made by the entire cannabis community to educate this task force about the wide range of benefits a robust industry will provide and that any attempt to tightly control the sale of cannabis will result in high prices and a flourishing black market. It is not clear if there will be any public hearings. Let us make our voices count, if we can.
There are several areas in which this task force needs to provide clear guidance. An example is the issue of driving after smoking or eating cannabis. Indeed, some of the most important decisions will be made by the provinces. However, since no province but BC has a large existing industry ready to supply the recreational market, it appears likely that most other provinces will depend on LPs to supply government operated stores. The only province with a realistic chance of creating a system that includes and encourages a craft cannabis industry is BC.
One of the reasons that a BC industry appears feasible is the proliferation and licensing of dispensaries in most major cities in the province. Though a few areas have resisted storefront operations, the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and others are creating bylaws to allow the sale of cannabis, connecting many cannabis organizations more closely to their communities. While this helps dispensaries to get a foot in the door, it does not ensure that they will be included in the province’s upcoming legal scheme. For this reason the clubs need to work harder than ever.
Dispensaries face a huge challenge if they are to exist in their current form. Medical cannabis is likely to be strictly controlled by the MMPR, even in provinces that allow the sale of small scale producers outside of the MMPR. And LPs will eventually be able to sell their products in storefronts of some type. Traditional compassion clubs will either have to desert their mom and pop growers for an LP, or merge into the recreational market, if possible.
There is an important job, however, that the province can begin to tackle right now. It can start thinking about educating the public about the various uses of cannabis. While drug education is generally a federal matter, there is no doubt the public school system needs to prepare to teach kids about cannabis and how to use it properly. Unfortunately we can expect a new wave of propaganda about the harms of cannabis on the youth, with a focus on the dangers of consuming cannabis before being fully mature.
If the federal government is serious about removing so-called organized crime from the cannabis industry, it would be best off creating low barriers for people trying to enter the market. By allowing everyone interested in selling cannabis to get a license, the government will give the market the power to set the prices based upon supply and demand. Giving opportunities for ordinary citizens to enter into the industry will push gangs out of the cannabis scene, and make room for good jobs with medical benefits.
Organized crime will only stop its involvement in the cannabis industry if the price drops 75-80%. Such a drop will only happen in a lightly regulated market. If the prices of cannabis for consumers remains even close to where they exist now, there will be a lot of incentive for those without licenses to continue growing and selling cannabis illegally. When consumers are paying $2 or $3 per gram very few gangs will bother to keep working in the cannabis field. They will be forced to become legitimate business people, or to focus on other revenue sources.
Creating a strict regime to control the sale of cannabis will backfire on the Liberals. If the task force is a hollow show; if it is meant to give everyone the impression they listened to the public before they recommend no one but LPs can produce cannabis, then we will continue to see patients suffer, dispensaries raided, corporations take over, and organized crime make a lot of money. What we really want to see is real dialogue, real cooperation. What we fear is more struggle, disappointment and lost opportunity.
The federal government should be listening to the experience of those that know the most about this plant and its culture. Instead it is treating those working in the cannabis community like criminals until the very last minute. Is it planning to hand over control to large companies? It will be a shame to see the government create such tough new regulations that many of us continue to operate outside of the law, consuming vast and valuable legal resources, while minimizing the benefits cannabis has to offer. Many of us are making great efforts to inform the government about this plant, and we want nothing more than to help draft reasonable laws that ensure a bright future for government, industry, consumers and the general public.
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By admin | June 28, 2016
I have begun to suspect that that the minds of some contemporary regulators are under the control of demons. I offer the following examples.
In September 2015, the State of California passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), a comprehensive State licensing system. The Act requires the State to establish new agencies, and for this process, two years is the estimated time. So, although the MMRSA is now law, it will be in effect only in 2018. Meanwhile California medical cannabis activists are readying themselves for a fight.
The MMRSA establishes a set of official distributors, and a set of official labs. If this system is allowed to stand, it will work as follows. Every grower will have to hand his/her cannabis to a distributor, who will send samples to a lab. If the end product is bud, and it passes inspection, the distributor executes a contract between the grower and dispensaries. If the end product is infused oils or edibles, the distributor executes a contract with a manufacturer. Every manufacturer, too, will have to hand his/her medicine to a distributor, who will send samples to a lab. If they pass, the distributor executes a contract between the manufacturer and dispensers. If there are more steps in the chain, there are that many more trips to and from distributors. The labs, the distributors, and whatever else is needed to maintain the MMRSA, are to be paid for through an assessment of a 15-35% tax on the product at each point in this series. The new system will easily double, and possibly triple the cost of medical cannabis in California. Patients will not be able to afford this increase, and will need to find underground sources. If they do so in sufficient numbers, the legal supply system will collapse.
This plan has been called greedy. It certainly is that. It is also indiscriminate, as dispensaries that have adequate in house labs, and who regularly sell excellent, well tested medicine, must still bear the cost of another lab. But the problems don’t stop there. The MMRSA is an attempt to exert absolute control over California’s medical cannabis supply chain. Absolute control differs dramatically from ordinary control. Ordinary control can be achieved through voluntary systems of negotiation and compromise between players in an industry. Absolute control can’t be achieved at all; and where the attempt is made, it is destructive. The plain fact is: absolute control is a demon; its proponents are compelled to destroy what they are building. Put simply, they are possessed.
Medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington State have been ordered to close by July the 1st. That’s just a few days away. In April 2015, the State passed Senate Bill 5052. This Bill permits only recreational dispensaries, licensed through the newly formed Liquor and Cannabis Board. Some dispensaries, however, will carry medicinal products.
Washington State has had a medical cannabis law since 1998. In recent years patients have been permitted to join collective cannabis gardens—in practice, dispensaries. These outlets functioned informally; they were not regulated, and did not pay taxes. But they worked. Patients got affordable medicine, and were generally happy. In 2011 a Bill to legalize and regulate the dispensaries passed in both the State Senate and the House, with bi-partisan support. But the Governor vetoed it. At the same time the State approved Initiative I-502 to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. When the Initiative passed in 2012, the State handed control to the Liquor Board. When sales opened in 2013, the Liquor Board began to gripe. It resented competing with the garden/dispensaries, and has lobbied successfully to eliminate them.
It is possible in Washington State to apply to the Liquor and Cannabis Board for a license. But the requirements will certainly rule out garden collectives. They give priority to shops that have been paying taxes, and are on record as having applied in the past for an I-502 recreational license. As of April 2015, 1900 applications for licenses had been submitted, and none granted.
The new law exempts patients from sales tax, but imposes a new 37% excise tax, sharply increasing the cost of their medicine. It also reduces drastically how much they can grow and store. Like its California cousin, this plan is greedy and indiscriminate. It is also an attempt at absolute control; its writers are possessed, hell-bent on driving the trade back underground.
When in 2014 Health Canada established its Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), soon to be extinguished, it handed Canadian doctors the responsibility to prescribe or recommend cannabis to their patients. In English Canada this event created confusion and hostility. Doctors were unprepared to recommend a medicine they’d never studied, and few were willing to participate. In Quebec matters proceeded differently. The Quebec College of Physicians created a patient registry; in Quebec, to obtain legal cannabis patients must sign up, and agree to take part in ongoing cannabis research. Much of this research is conducted at McGill University’s Health Centre, overseen by medical expert and researcher, Dr. Mark Ware.
Progress has been slow. Of the 160 doctors who have applied to participate, only 23 have been authorized. And of the 3,000 or more patients in Quebec, only 500 have joined. Everyone loves research. But few want to be forced into it. Spokespersons from Quebec College of Physicians say they are not looking forward to legalization, as legalization will improve access to cannabis, and compromise the registry. Here the will to control negates the ‘do no harm’ rule. These doctors must be possessed.
Canada’s Federal Liberals, now in power, are working on a plan to revamp the medical marijuana rules, and to legalize cannabis for recreational use. They will present the medical plan in late August, and the recreational-use Bill in the spring of 2017. Meanwhile they have rejected a Bill to decriminalize in the interim, meant to stop arrests. Instead they have opted to allow raids on medical dispensaries. And they have opted to permit arrests of individuals until the new Bill passes, probably some time in 2018. That’s two more years of government mandated misery.
The Liberals want control over timing. So deeply possessed are they, they have begun to speak in tongues. They have said, for example, that they will be arresting Canadians to protect the kids. Does this sound like English or French?
Absolute Cleanliness. License Producers in Canada are required to grow plants indoors in a sterile environment, tending them in sterilized white monkey suits, caps, and facemasks. A single spider mite or undesirable microorganism introduced into such an environment will create havoc in hours; it will have no competition. The regulators were possessed by a cleanliness demon. This system of growing cannabis is burdensome and expensive, and produces medicines no one can afford. It also produces the occasional spot of mold. There is no such thing as absolute cleanliness.
Absolute Tracking. In some States regulations require every single cannabis plant to be labeled and tracked from seed to sale. What if the new Trudeau Liberals try this? You have to wonder about such a plan. Do we track every tobacco plant destined for the cigar factory? Every grape destined for the wine maker? Every rye plant destined for the distiller? Absolute trackers of cannabis plants are possessed.
Absolute Obscurity. States that have legalized have placed severe limits on advertising. Basically, it’s no ads. I’m not a fan of advertising, but a ban on ads in an ad-crazed world will not work. Cannabis producers want the same privileges as beer, wine and whiskey producers. Absolute obscurity is demon’s dream.
Absolute Invisibility. Similarly, no regulator wants to allow patients and cannabis fans a space for public consumption. No vape lounges, no cannabis in parks. The consumers are to make themselves absolutely invisible. But of course, they can’t. There is no such thing.
The plain fact is, we are beset with governments possessed by demons of the absolute. It might be possible to conduct an exorcism with the aid of a few puffs of cannabis, and a mushroom or two. But given the personalities involved—prohibitionists at heart—this solution seems far off. A better plan is for activists to perfect their knowledge of spells. At the same time, they should fundraise for protests and court challenges. Cannabis will become legal when the demons have gone home.
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By admin | June 3, 2016
Everyone knows by now that Toronto police raided 43 cannabis dispensaries on Thurs May 26 but it is still not clear to everyone who influenced the chief of police in his decision to create Project Claudia. Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are all washing their hands clean from the decision making process. Tweed, a Licensed Producer, is apparently training Toronto police how to determine whether or not a suspect is in possession of cannabis legally obtained by an LP versus black market herb, giving many reason to believe large LPs are pushing for police action on illegal dispensaries. But aside from the police, who always seem keen to arrest people, who pushed for these raids?
The real accomplice in these raids in the little known Public Prosecution Services of Canada. This is the group mentioned by chief Mark Saunders in the press conference but those asking questions did not focus on it, instead pointing to political pressure as the reason for the sudden heavy show of force. Clearly these raids would never have occurred if the PPSC was not fully in support of spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money seeking convictions for both trafficking cannabis and possession of proceeds of crime.
This is not the first time the PPSC had pushed for criminal charges in cases that have a questionable likelihood of success of conviction and where the public interest is not clearly in support of seeking convictions. In the case of Owen Smith, former head baker of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, it was obvious at several points that the PPSC is out of control in its relentless pursuit of cannabis convictions. After appealing the case all of the way to the Supreme Court of Canada they lost a unanimous decision that forced the government to make changes that should have been implemented after they lost in the lower courts. Instead of dropping the case before trial, leaving the law unchallenged, these lawyers pushed their frail arguments before the courts as far as they could until the whole country could see how profoundly backward the medical cannabis programs are.
So what is the PPSC? According to their webpage:
“The creation of the PPSC reflects the decision to make transparent the principle of prosecutorial independence, free from any improper influence.”
“The relationship between the Attorney General and the Director is premised on the principles of respect for the independence of the prosecution function and the need to consult on important matters of general interest.”
“Safeguarding the Director’s independence is the requirement that all instructions from the Attorney General be in writing and published in the Canada Gazette. In turn, the Director must inform the Attorney General of any prosecution or planned intervention that may raise important questions of general interest, allowing the Attorney General the opportunity to intervene in, or assume conduct of, a case.”
Since nothing has appeared in the Gazette there has been no formal efforts on behalf of the federal Liberals to pressure the PPSC for police raids on dispensaries, nor do other levels of government have direct influence on crown lawyers. On the flipside, it does not appear that the director of the PPSC informed the AG that these raids were planned. If the AG, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was contacted it is unlikely she would have agreed to raid less than half the dispensaries in one city without directing crown lawyers to shut them all down across the entire country.
The same sudden rash of raids on dispensaries happened in Naniamo, BC late last year, with 3 of 11 clubs getting robbed under the guise of a warrant in one day. All of the clubs reopened soon after the raids and that city is now preparing to license dispensaries, due in part to public pressure in support of storefront clubs. It does not seem like any trials will even start as a result of these raids, despite the PPSC being fully supportive of each one.
With legislation to legalize cannabis less a year away, the federal Liberals are looking very weak for dragging their feet while so much police and court time is being used prosecuting people for crimes that will be soon become highly sought after jobs. If the Liberals want to earn any respect from the public on this issue, they need to reign in the director in charge of the Public Prosecution Services of Canada before more police raids and lengthy trials waste valuable government resources hurting people helping patients. Letting zealous crown lawyers and police that care little about human rights set the tone for legalization is making Justin Trudeau look very bad.
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By admin | April 29, 2016
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.
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By admin | March 31, 2016
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.
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.
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By admin | March 18, 2016
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.
Edit these International Medical Marijuana Day Graphics
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By admin | March 10, 2016
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.
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.
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By admin | February 11, 2016
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 full engagement summary is available here: Medical Marijuana Engagement Summary Report.pdf [PDF - 7.9 MB]
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.
Further details about these proposed regulations are included in this Governance and Priorities Committee report: Medical Marijuana Nov 19 Report.pdf [PDF - 3.4 MB]
Have Your Say:
The next step is to collect broad community feedback about these proposed regulations relating to the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria.
Community members are invited to share their feedback through a survey and an open house and town hall this February on February 22.
Open House and Town Hall
Learn more about the proposed regulations at an Open House and then share your feedback directly at a Town Hall with Mayor and Council.
Date: Monday, February 22, 2016
Open House: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Town Hall: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Victoria City Hall, 1 Centennial Square
You can complete the survey here. It will be open until midnight on Friday, March 4.
Thank you for your interest in this important topic.
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By admin | February 1, 2016
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.
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