Tag: adult use

New Zealand to Hold Marijuana Vote Under New Leader Ardern

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand is poised to slash immigration, rethink trade deals and vote on legalizing marijuana under a new government that takes office next week. After nine years of conservative rule, liberal Jacinda Ardern was confirmed as the nation’s next prime minister on Thursday, following negotiations after a close September election.

Ardern’s Labour Party will be joined in a coalition by the small, nationalist New Zealand First party and will also get support from the liberal Green Party. The incoming government has not yet released details of its plans, but a number of things could change based on the coalition’s campaign promises and comments from Ardern.

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Cannabis Referendum

Ardern said Friday the country would hold a referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana at some point over the next three years. She didn’t say whether she favored legalization but said the current system wasn’t working well.

“I’ve always been very open about the fact that I do not believe that people should be imprisoned for personal use of cannabis,” Ardern said. “On the flip side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.”

Ardern said she wanted to hear the view from New Zealanders and figure out the correct wording for the referendum before taking a stance.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Maine Governor Proposes Pushing Back Legal Cannabis Sales Until 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Republican governor is proposing that lawmakers consider simply delaying recreational marijuana sales, instead of passing a legislative re-write of the voter-approved marijuana law.

The Maine Legislature is set to return Monday to consider a re-write offered by a legislative committee handling marijuana implementation.

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Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said he is sponsoring Gov. Paul LePage’s bill to delay recreational marijuana sales to January 2019. Lawmakers had previously pushed back implementation to February.

Fredette said there are concerns about the committee’s proposal and lawmakers having the time to read the 70-page bill, which would also delay sales until 2019.

Advocacy group Legalize Maine said the committee’s bill would make it harder to set up marijuana businesses. The bill would require towns to “opt in” to the adult-use marijuana market.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

What Can Canada Learn from the US When it Comes to Cannabis Legalization?

In less than a year, The Cannabis Act will fulfill Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to make adult-use recreational cannabis legal nationwide. While many Canadians are excited for legal cannabis, plenty more are concerned about just what that legal system will look like, and what its potential pitfalls are.

US legalization has yielded a wealth of data on everything from traffic fatalities to underage use to enforcement costs, addressing many of Canada’s key concerns.

Recreational cannabis might be brand new to Canada, but plenty of US states have blazed this particular trail already. Indeed, many of the concerns being raised by Canadians are the same ones raised in Washington and Colorado in 2014. Since then, nine US states have legalized recreational cannabis.

These early-adopter states have yielded a wealth of data, on everything from traffic fatalities to underage use to enforcement costs, addressing many of Canada’s key concerns about legalization. While legalizing cannabis on a national scale is a challenge unique to Canada, there’s a lot to be learned from the US.

How Much Does Enforcement Cost?

Toronto Mayor John Tory has claimed that legalization will result in drastically increased law-enforcement costs for cities. His theory is that “a big part” of enforcement costs will fall to municipalities, which will face major increases in the cost of business licensing, by-law enforcement, and policing. Tory supports a special levy on cannabis to offset these costs.

US cities haven’t seen the astronomical rise in law-enforcement costs Toronto’s Mayor Tory is predicting.

However, US cities haven’t seen the astronomical rise in enforcement costs Tory is predicting. Washington’s largest city, Seattle, requires only about 3-4 dedicated employees to regulate cannabis. Those employees don’t represent a burden on the budget, as the city’s cost to regulate cannabis is only about $500,000 for 2017. It might make Tory happy to know that Seattle is also slated to get a $700,000 cut of cannabis taxes from the state this year, which he also called for in Toronto. As far as policing goes, legal cannabis doesn’t seem to be changing the budget process much.

“I can’t speak to this without data,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the Seattle Police Department’s communications director, but offered that, “We’ve had some significant cases [since legalization], but those are the same types of cases we’ve always had.”

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He’s previously stressed that his agency is primarily concerned with curbing youth access, busting big illegal grow ops, and enforcing DUI laws. Enforcement involving legal cannabis is not the SPD’s mission, according to Whitcomb.

Furthermore, contrary to Tory’s claims, cannabis legalization actually frees up law enforcement resources. According to a Drug Policy Alliance report from July 2015, written one year after the state’s first recreational cannabis sales, cannabis arrests decreased by 63%, from 6,196 in 2012 to 2,316 in 2014, with each arrest representing a cost of $1,000-2,000 to the government.

In general, legal cannabis more than covers the cost of regulation and enforcement.

In general, legal cannabis more than covers the cost of regulation and enforcement. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), the agency that regulates cannabis in Washington and handles all legal cannabis enforcement, had an annual operating budget of $34 million in fiscal year 2016, including $13 million for enforcement. Cannabis taxes and fees brought in $189 million, about six times more than the agency’s entire budget. About $90 million of that excess cannabis revenue went to funding the state’s Basic Health program to provide insurance to low-income families.

In Colorado, they’re really rolling in it, it seems. The city of Aurora was famously able to raise so much extra tax from the cannabis industry that it earmarked $4.5 million for homelessness programs. A report by the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation found that Colorado netted $66 million and $96 million in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal years, respectively, after accounting for enforcement and regulation.

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The prognosis for Canada cashing in is pretty good, too. According to a report by the C.D. Howe institute, Canada could rake in as much as $500 million USD per year from legal cannabis. That report also includes only the existing state and federal taxes, meaning that if cannabis is subject to an additional excise tax, as it is in most U.S. states where it’s legal, Canada could see even more tax revenue.

What’s the Deal with DUI?

Though low-level possession arrests are down in legal states, the question of how to deal with drivers who may be under the influence of cannabis remains a thorny one. According to the aforementioned DPA report, overall traffic fatalities decreased in Washington post-legalization, although no causality was established.

Regardless of whether cannabis causes more accidents, no one wants more people driving under the influence, no matter what substance is influencing them. Though every state has provisions regarding cannabis DUIs on the books, none can claim to have developed an effective enforcement method yet.

Of all the questions facing Canada, how to regulate DUI might be the one for which the US has the fewest answers.

In Washington, the limit is five micrograms (ug) per milliliter of blood. It’s the same in Colorado. These limits, while well-intentioned, have been confusing. For one, it’s nearly impossible to tell if that 5 ug was from five minutes ago or five days ago, as cannabis can linger in the bloodstream well after its effects have worn off.

Beyond that, it’s nearly impossible to tell how profoundly 5 ug might affect someone, because individual tolerances vary so widely with cannabis. Some people can ingest 800mg, take the bus to downtown Seattle, and film a Nazi being punched, while others eat 100mg and think they’ve become one with the wallpaper. As the director of traffic safety and advocacy for AAA, Jake Nelson, told the Washington Post, “There is no reliable number that has any meaningful value in terms of predicting impairment.”

Assessing impairment in Canada has previously fallen to Drug Recognition Experts, officers trained to perform field evaluations of suspects who might be driving on drugs. AAA prefers the DRE system, but Canada’s is woefully inadequate even for their current need.

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“The problem is that there are fewer than 600 trained DRE officers in Canada,” an article in the Ottawa Citizen concluded. “An assessment conducted in 2009 estimated that Canada needs between 1,800 and 2,000 and the training system isn’t equipped to pump out trained officers any faster.”

If Canada does decide to ease the demand for DREs with a ug/ml limit, it’ll face the same criticisms of the legal limits used by US states. Of all the questions facing Canada, how to regulate DUI might be the one for which the US has the fewest answers.

How Do You Keep It Away From Kids?

One of the other major objections raised by opponents of cannabis legalization in both the US and Canada has been that legalizing cannabis normalizes it in the eyes of teens, and ultimately leads to an increase in underage use. Legalization proponents argue that putting cannabis in tightly regulated retail outlets actually deters underage access.

Studies seem to support the latter view, with post-legalization surveys of teenagers in both Colorado and Washington showing steady rates of cannabis use or even slight declines.

If Canada’s 18+ age restriction is as vigorously enforced as age limits in the US, an increase in underage use from legalization seems unlikely.

Though Hamilton police chief Eric Girt complained in a town hall this summer that cannabis products in Colorado were “being marketed to kids” and cautioned that the same could happen in Canada, it’s worth noting that the state has had strict advertising rules in place to prevent any marketing efforts that might appeal to minors since 2013. Manufacturers are not allowed to use any packaging that appeals to children, and no cannabis business can advertise in a location frequented by minors: malls, arcades, sports venues—the interpretation is pretty broad. Ads can only be placed in publications or broadcast outlets for which “reliable evidence” exists that less than 30% of the audience consists of minors.

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Nearly the same rules are in place in Washington, and Canada’s bill includes similar language. If Canada’s 18+ age restriction is as vigorously enforced as age limits are in the US, an increase in underage use from legalization seems unlikely.

Indeed, it might even lead to the slight reductions enjoyed by US states who have legalized and regulated cannabis. While minors can always ask an older sibling to sneak them something from the store, it’s still an extra step they didn’t have to take before. Dealers definitely don’t check ID.

Can Legal Cannabis Compete With the Black Market?

Speaking of dealers, many of the concerns around tax rates in Canada are about more than just the cost of enforcement. Regis police chief Evan Bray told the CBC that he was worried tax rates on cannabis would be too high, which he theorized would be a boon for the back market.

Those concerns are not entirely invalid, as legal states have struggled to completely eliminate the black market. In Washington, the relatively high 37% state excise tax on cannabis has been cited as a major factor in the black market’s persistence. However, through increased volume and improved efficiency, legal cannabis has achieved price parity with the black market in many instances.

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However, many states have far lower tax rates. Maine has proposed a 20% tax, Oregon only takes 17%, and Massachusetts is even lower at 3.75%.

That said, one of the other major reasons the black market persists in the US is the piecemeal nature of legalization, which simply shunts drug dealers from one state to another. Even within legal states, certain cities and counties have banned legal cannabis, creating pockets of demand for the black market.

While the black market has persisted in the US, the cannabis-driven violent crime scare Jeff Sessions is constantly crowing about simply isn’t supported by data. Violent crime has decreased overall in both Washington and Colorado since legalization.

Legalization Is Looking Pretty Bright for Canada

Overall, legalization looks pretty good. Rather than exacerbating problems of youth access and violent crime, legalizing cannabis seems poised to alleviate them—and to raise quite a bit of tax revenue while doing it. Though it is still unclear how best to regulate cannabis DUIs, legalizing cannabis has at least pushed forward the study of how cannabis affects driving performance, and created a demand for devices that can reliably measure cannabis intoxication on the side of the road. A pilot program to study the efficacy of roadside saliva tests is already underway in Canada.

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There is still the difficult question of how to handle the international drug enforcement treaties to which Canada is a party, and whether that process might delay legalization. Domestically speaking, however, if things play out like they have in the U.S., legalization looks to be a win.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Nevada’s Second Largest City to Begin Cannabis Sales This Week

Las Vegas’s most populous suburb will allow the sales of adult-use cannabis beginning Friday, following a vote by the Henderson City Council on Tuesday to approve the applications of five adult-use marijuana dispensaries.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, the five dispensaries will be able to begin selling recreational cannabis legally. The development comes three months after the state began allowing adult-use cannabis sales, after considerable back-and-forth between city officials and cannabis advocates.

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The five dispensaries awarded licenses were The Source, Essence Cannabis Dispensary, Nevada Medical Marijuana, Jenny’s Dispensary, and The Dispensary.

Henderson, located about 16 miles southeast of Las Vegas, is Nevada’s second largest city, with a population of just under 300,000.

On Jan. 1 of this year, Nevada legalized up to one ounce of cannabis flower or up to an eighth of an ounce of THC concentrates by adults over 21 following the passage of Ballot Question 2 in November’s election.

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Legal sales kicked off in the state on July 1, but Henderson enacted a six-month moratorium back in February that was set to expire in August. It was then extended through last month.

As a condition of approving the local licenses, the Las Vegas Sun reports, City Councilman Dan Shaw requested that the five approved dispensaries secure banking services within the next six months so its easier for the city to track and receive tax payments.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

7 Mandatory Toronto Food Experiences for High Folks

According to Vogue, Toronto is the city that all food lovers should be flocking to. According to Prime Minister Trudeau, the entirety of Canada will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis by July 1, 2018. According to me, these are the seven Toronto food experiences no cannabis-enhanced human should miss.

1. The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles

Are you a sweet-and-savoury appreciator? Head directly to Toronto’s iconic Kensington Market, where the Dirty Bird is serving up the classic southern American sugar-and-spice dish of chicken and waffles. This space is super casual, with limited seating. More often than not, there will be a line-up but trust us, it’s worth the wait because the fried chicken is golden and tender, and the waffle on-point. Since opening, the Dirty Bird has become known for their signature dish ‘the ODB,’ which has heaps of boneless dark meat piled on top of a maple buttered waffle and dressed in a sweet and tangy sauce. You won’t be able to get the fork into your mouth fast enough. (79 Kensington Ave, 647-345-BIRD)

2. Seven Lives Tacos

(Courtesy of Britney Townsend)

One of the best taco joints in Toronto, period. Seven Lives serves up fresh, authentic tacos that are bigger than most and stuffed full of unique amazements. Our pick? Their legendary Gobernador topped with smoked tuna, shrimp, and queso cheese. Key facts: Seven Lives takes cash only and almost always has a line. Order your tacos to go, grab a seat on an outdoor bench, and chow your way to heaven. (69 Kensington Ave, 416-393-4636)

3. Junked Food Co.

(Courtesy of Britney Townsend)

If there’s such a thing as Munchie Heaven, Junked Food Co. is it. The fare is ridiculous and fun, like big cups of cookie dough or sandwiches made with waffles. But what you really want to get your hands on is one of their Smash Bags. What is it? Well, it’s when Junked Food takes a snack-sized bag of Doritos, rips it in half, and spoons in delicious toppings like cheese, lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce, pico de gallo, and jalapenos. Best in show: the Mac Smash, which also has a hefty heap of—you guessed it—mac and cheese. (507 Queen St W, 647-343-5326)

4. Hollywood Cone

(Courtesy of Britney Townsend)

If you have a sweet tooth, you absolutely must visit Hollywood Cone, a larger-than-life take on all things ice cream located right in the middle of Queen Street West. Hollywood’s classic Mutant Shakes are huge thick handspun creations involving toppings like cheesecake and brownies and ranging in price from $10.99 to $18.99 (and totally worth it). Want something healthier? Try the epic 18-inch banana split, boasting multiple bananas, voluminous ice cream, chocolate AND caramel drizzles, topped off with a dollop of whipped cream. (1167 Queen St W, 647-350-2662)

5. NomNomNom

(Courtesy of Britney Townsend)

What kind of Canadian list would this be without poutine? While poutine is famously a Montreal street snack, some places in Toronto have nailed it and NomNomNom is one of them. Their menu offers a slew of different poutine variations but you’ll want to stick with the classic traditional here, which is everything you’ve ever dreamed of: squeaky cheese curds, thick brown gravy, just the right amount of salt. The portions are generous and shareable, and the service is quick and friendly. Best part? While this poutine stand is served out of a storage container street truck, NomNomNom is open year round for all your poutine cravings. (707 Dundas St W, 647-636-0707)

6. When The Pig Came Home

(Courtesy of When The Pig Came Home)

For those craving Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches outside the confines of Montreal, this deli in Toronto’s West End has you covered. With a small lunch counter and outdoor bench seating for four, this deli will make virtually every one of your sandwishes come true. From porchetta to peameal bacon, this place offers it all and does it well. Try their house-made hot sauces and mustards on your sandwich or live with regret forever. (3035 Dundas St W, 647-345-9001)

7. Street meat

(Courtesy of Britney Townsend)

Hot-dog street vendors are a key part of the Toronto’s character and life. As in New York, you can’t walk a few blocks without running into a cart offering up spicy Italian sausages or thick all-beef hot dogs with a ridiculous array of toppings and sauces. Working all hours of the night and in every season, Toronto’s hot dog vendors valiantly serve up the best street meat you’ve ever had—especially if you’re wandering around high and hungry. (Anywhere in Toronto)


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Colorado Hits Billion Dollar Sales Mark in Nine Months

According to data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the Rocky Mountain state sold over $1 billion dollars in cannabis through the first nine months of 2017.

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It took the state 10 months to reach the billion dollar mark in 2016. Sales totals through the first nine months of this year have reached a total of about $1.1 billion—the highest amount of total sales to date in the country.

When comparing the data to last year, through 9 months of sales Leafly found that Colorado totaled $942 million, with the totals in 2017 so far showing there was over a $100 million dollar increase in sales from the same time period, totaling $1,118,207,832.87 in sales.

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Through the first nine months of 2017, Colorado has seen a fairly steady increase from the year prior, with the state routinely breaking its total sales record in the past 6 months–first in March, and then in July, when the state totaled more than $136 million in total cannabis sales, when combining adult-use sales and medicinal marijuana sales.

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The state initiated a different taxing structure in July 2017, with the special sales tax rate for recreational marijuana sales increasing from 10% to 15%. The new law exempted adult-use cannabis sales from the 2.9% standard state sales tax rate.

Medical marijuana and accessories are still subject to that 2.9% special sales tax rate, however.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Two Cannabis Proposals Head to the Ballot in Michigan

Michigan will be one of the select US states with cannabis on the ballot next month, as two separate proposals make their way to voters on Nov. 7.

As the MetroTimes reports, neither proposal would go so far as to legalize cannabis for adult-use, but both aim to ease restrictions on the state’s existing medical marijuana industry.

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The first measure would do several things. It would significantly cut down on the distance a cannabis facility can be from parks, day care centers, liquor stores, churches, and other dispensaries, reducing that distance from 1,000 feet to 500 feet. It would also allow the centers to stay open an hour later, extending mandatory closure times from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The second measure, described as “a proposal to amend the Detroit zoning ordinance, chapter 61 of the Detroit city code, consistent with the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act,” which would apply state zoning rules to the city of Detroit and allow growers and secure transporters to operate in certain additional industrial districts within the city.

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Neither proposal is expected to make sweeping changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, but rather are aimed at easing back some of the regulations originally put in place when the state legalized medical marijuana.

Adult-Use Proposal Hits Signature Milestone

MetroTimes also reported an update for the Committee to Regulate Marihuana Like Alcohol advocacy group, which is trying to put an adult-use legalization measure on next year’s state ballot. The group has reportedly passed the 300,000-signature mark as it heads into the final stretch of signature gathering.

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The group needs 252,000 valid signatures by Nov. 22 to put the ballot question on next year’s gubernatorial ballot. The extra signatures are aimed at giving them plenty of wiggle room should any of the signatures be invalidated.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Data Dive: Alaska Cannabis Sales Continue to Rise

The Alaska Department of Revenue is reporting record highs sales figures for August. The state collected $694,364 in cannabis taxes during that month, which is the most collected to date.

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August’s numbers also mean that it is the sixth consecutive month in Alaska that the state has set a new record for wholesale cannabis sales.

Cannabis sales continue to progress nicely, as summer tourism really helped ratchet up sales in the state. Also, it should be noted that the average amount of taxes paid by each cultivator has declined in recent months, as the total number of taxpayers in the cannabis industry grows.

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In August, the state recorded 734 pounds of cannabis bud sold by growers to retail stores. 444 pounds of other cannabis plant parts were also sold during the month.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis in a Distinct Society: Quebec’s Idiosyncratic Grapple with Legalization

Quebec does things differently, for better or for worse. As everyone knows who has moved to Quebec from another province only to discover they now have to file two sets of taxes, this is a province that prefers to maintain control of its affairs. As Quebec approaches cannabis legalization, that habit is once more evident.

In spite of its late-night joie-de-vivre image, Quebec has significantly less enthusiasm toward legal cannabis than anywhere else in Canada.

Already, Quebec is an outlier in the field of cannabis. In spite of its late-night joie-de-vivre image, Quebec has significantly less enthusiasm toward legal cannabis than anywhere else in Canada. In May, a CROP poll conducted on behalf of Radio-Canada revealed an inversion of national attitudes toward legal cannabis in Quebec. Only 40% of respondents were in favour of legalization, while outside of Quebec 58% support the move. Meanwhile, only 27% of respondents supported the sale of edible cannabis products, compared with 40% of respondents outside of Quebec.

There are a variety of theories for this lack of support, most prominent among them the possibility that reduced French-language media coverage of US recreational markets has prevented potential supporters from seeing the benign results of a legal recreational system in action. Others argue that the drive to decriminalize as a means of undermining organized crime receives less support in Quebec because of a deep cynicism across a province marked by decades of organized crime scandals at its highest levels of government (present and past). Perhaps Quebeckers are too fatalistic to imagine anything will hobble organized crime.

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These attitudes may reflect the fact that Quebec is the only province in which charges for cannabis possession and trafficking have actually continued rising in recent years. Though the fleur de lys and the cannabis leaf were once inseparable in many Canadians’ minds, the province’s days of official laxity toward cannabis prohibition began changing two decades ago.

Quebec is the only province in which charges for cannabis possession and trafficking have actually continued rising in recent years.

In the mid-1990s, Quebec issued 30% fewer possession charges per capita than anywhere else in the country, but by the end of the decade, official attitudes hardened into the present counterintuitive legal direction. Across the country, possession charges have drastically declined over the last year alone, yet according to the CBC, possession arrests and charges in Quebec are unchanged since 2015, following an upward trajectory that began in 1998. In 2016, Quebec charged 36% more people per capita with possession than anywhere else in Canada.

This is the atmosphere that shrouds the ongoing debate over how Quebec will approach its end of legal cannabis. Yes, it will certainly legalize its own way—but the National Assembly spent the month of September in deep debate about what that way should be.

The Age Issue

Despite Quebec historically offering the youngest legal age in North America for alcohol consumption (18), the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), the most conservative of the province’s four major parties, argued that Quebec’s legal age for cannabis use and purchase should be 21. Ontario, immediately to the west, had already decided its legal age will be 19, the same as its drinking age, which many have argued will simply drive cannabis business an hour out of Montreal to the Ontario border for those not yet 21.

Liberal government sources confirm that Quebec’s legal cannabis consumption age will be 18.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, of the provincial Liberal party (somewhat less conservative than the CAQ), responded to CAQ leader François Legault’s demand by saying, “Does he seriously think he will prevent youths from 18 to 21 from smoking pot? Get real. I think they are smoking already and will continue to smoke.”

The Liberals spent the month leaning toward offering cannabis for sale to those aged 18 and up, in line with the guidelines of the Canadian Pediatric Society, which does not believe cannabis presents significant risk to the mental development of people over that age. Medical-specialists’ group Le Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec, meanwhile, argued the age should be 21.

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They were supported by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which published an editorial in May by the Journal’s interim director Dr. Diane Kelsall arguing that “the act’s provisions appear starkly at odds with the objective [of health and public safety], particularly for Canada’s youth.” In a follow-up interview with the CBC, Kelsall said, “We’re just very worried that we’re conducting a national experiment and unfortunately the guinea pigs are kids.”

This position was supported by CBC Radio personality Dr. Brian Goldman, host of popular medical show, White Coat, Black Art. In a blog post titled “Why Legal Marijuana Will Hurt Our Kids,” Goldman suggested that cannabis consumption by people in their 20s is correlated with psychosis—though he also acknowledged, in the same post, that legalization has so far neither increased nor decreased the use of cannabis by young people.

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“Canada has one of the highest rates in the world of young people using marijuana,” he explained, in a passage that did not seem to support his argument that legal cannabis would increase harm to young people. “As many as 60 per cent of 18 year olds have tried it at least once…Researchers doubt that bill C-45 or any law for that matter will curb the use of cannabis by young people.”

Dr. Jean-Yves Frappier, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at Montreal’s Hôpital Ste-Justine, spoke on behalf of the Canadian Pediatric Society. Noting that tobacco and alcohol both have detrimental effects, Frappier said, “We think 18-year-olds should be allowed because you drink, you vote, you can buy tobacco and alcohol.”

“The debate on this issue must be oriented toward the fight against cannabis.”

the Coalition Avenir Québec

Frappier underlined that the brain develops much less significantly between the ages of 18 and 24 than during adolescence, and that cannabis’s detrimental effects on brain development are the product of “regular, constant use,” which normally takes time to ramp up, making 18 a medically reasonable time to begin allowing adults to buy and use cannabis. The Canadian Pediatric Society, however, also suggested limits on the potency and amounts of cannabis available to users between the ages of 18 and 21.

On September 29, unnamed Liberal government sources informed Radio-Canada and the CBC that Quebec’s legal cannabis consumption age would be 18.

On hearing the report, CAQ justice critic Simon Jolin-Barrette cried foul, telling the CBC that it would be more beneficial to “start an awareness campaign among young people about the effects of the drug,” rather than making it legal for people to purchase before the age of 21.

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Jolin-Barrette was one of the key figures in drafting the cannabis proposal the CAQ unveiled on September 13. Having briefly surpassed the Liberals in popularity this summer, the CAQ remains the most powerful opposition party in the province, and their proposal argues that “the debate on this issue must be oriented toward the fight against cannabis.” The CAQ proposal also demands the Liberal government “take the hard line” in order “to limit the perverse effects of cannabis use.” Claiming cannabis “has adverse health effects,” the CAQ explains that its proposed regulatory framework is designed to “deliberately combat consumption of this drug […and] restrict marijuana use as much as possible.”

Growing Issues

Two weeks ago, La Presse created a stir when they reported that, seemingly following on the CAQ’s call for a “hard line” approach, the Liberal government would not allow citizens to grow marijuana at home, contrary to the federal plan to allow citizens up to four plants of no more than one metre in height. This follows pressure from law-enforcement groups that claim the four-plant limit would be impossible to enforce.

The government has not decided whether to outlaw home growing, but complained that the move toward legalization was happening too fast.

Controversial Liberal Health Minister Gaétan Barrette—a former star candidate for the CAQ—announced that, in fact, the government had not decided whether or not to outlaw home growing, but complained that the move toward legalization was happening too fast.

“I understand the federal government wants to get this out of the way before the election,” he said at the beginning of a two-day Liberal Caucus in mid-September, “but socially it’s going too fast.”

In addition to bemoaning the potential difficulty of governing home cultivation, Barrette complained about the federal plan’s failure to address cannabis derivatives.

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“Oils, hashish, pot muffins, you laugh, but there is a wide array of these derivative products,” Barrette said. “A law has to be applicable. How do you control this? It cannot be settled hastily.”

The Parti-Québécois, another opposition party of the centre-left, released a position paper saying that individuals should be limited to two plants, rather than four, and that landlords should have the right to prevent tenants from growing or consuming cannabis on their property.

Quebec’s Liberal government has suggested it will set the price for dried cannabis flowers at $7 or $8 per gram.

In mid-September, Ontario—which, unlike Quebec, does not allow the sale of beer or wine in corner stores and supermarkets—announced its plan to offer cannabis only through outlets similar to its Beer Store and Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores. That move has been controversial, but even more controversial is a proposal to offer dried cannabis flowers at a baseline of $10 per gram—a decision that many critics say recreates prohibition pricing.

“[W]hat we want to counter, to halt to the maximum, is the black market,” Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois told a press scrum. “So if our prices are not competitive with the black market, we will be in trouble.” To that end, the Liberal government has suggested it will set the price for dried cannabis flowers at a more competitive baseline of $7 or $8 per gram.

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Liberal Finance Minister Carlos Leitão stressed throughout the summer that the Québec liquor control board (la Société des Alcools du Québec, or SAQ) would not be tapped to sell cannabis. Unlike other provinces, Quebec allows dépanneurs (corner stores) and grocery stores to sell beer and wine, while spirits and more upmarket wines can only be purchased at government outlets.

(Heidi De Vries/Flickr Creative Commons)

This left convenience-store chain Alimentation Couche Tard angling to enter the cannabis business. The company, which owns nearly 600 Couche Tard and Provi-Soir stores in Quebec, also owns the Mac’s, Circle K, and On the Run brands across the rest of Canada, for a total of some 2,000 holdings.

Couche Tard Executive Chairman Alain Bouchard has criticized the use of Crown corporations to control cannabis, and has hired a lobbyist in the hopes of working his company into the future of Quebec’s cannabis industry. However, he complained in September that the government remained unresponsive.

“They do not even want to talk to us, so I think it is a shame,” Bouchard said to The Canadian Press.

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However, if the news affirming the legal age of 18 went according to the party line so far, the same government sources reported a surprising about-face on Leitão’s promise not to sell cannabis through the SAQ liquor-control board. Rather than allow the sale of cannabis alongside alcohol and tobacco in dépanneurs and supermarkets, the province will establish an independent corporation for the sale of cannabis, which will itself be controlled by the SAQ. This, despite an Oracle poll of 5,000 Canadians from September 25, which showed 65% of respondents supported the sale of cannabis from licensed growers in the private retail sector.

There is no word about when the Liberal government will formally table its bill, but it is widely expected to be coming in the month of October.


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Trudeau Proposes a $1-a-Gram Tax on Canadian Cannabis

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has brought forth his most detailed proposal yet for Canada’s impending recreational cannabis market, proposing a tax of one dollar a gram on adult-use cannabis when once recreational sales begin in the summer of 2018.

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The proposal—announced yesterday at a press conference in Ottawa— specifies a dollar-a-gram excise tax on cannabis sold for $10 a gram or less. Cannabis products priced higher than $10 a gram would be subject to a 10% tax. As for how the revenue would be split up, Trudeau said the federal government would split the tax revenue 50-50 with provincial governments.

“Nobody’s mindset on this approach is about bringing in tax revenue,” Trudeau said, specifying that the main point is to defeat the black market and keep everyone safe from illicit dealers.

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Trudeau added that from the beginning, the whole legalization movement came from a public health and safety standpoint, with the PM repeatedly citing the need for a system that will protect “our kids.”

Next up: A December meeting of federal finance ministers to discuss the taxation of cannabis.

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Stay tuned, and for now, here’s full video of Trudeau’s announcement.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.