Tag: Canada

Leaf Forward Hopes to Be Canada’s First Cannabis-Biz Accelerator

Alex Blumenstein wasn’t sure what would come of Leaf Toronto, a monthly cannabis meet-up that he started with fellow Torontonians Brett Chang and Taylor Scollon earlier this year.

The trio of young adults started the monthly meetup because they wanted to get more involved in the industry. Between the three of them, they had years of communications and public affairs experience, and they saw a big gap in the Canadian cannabis sector.

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“When you look at the tech sector, if you want to get involved there’s a meetup every day of the week,” says Blumenstein. “In the professional legal cannabis field, there is not a super-accessible way to get involved on the professional side.”

Pitch session at Leaf Forward’s July boot camp.

Their first meetup in January 2017 featured Vic Neufeld, CEO of the licensed cannabis producer Aphria, and drew a large turnout, from leaders in the industry to curious newbies. Since then, they’ve built their Leaf Toronto community with monthly fireside chats, complete with free pizza and beer.

Now, Blumenstein wants to build on Leaf Toronto’s success with Leaf Forward, a new “business accelerator” initiative that he hopes will attract Canadian cannabis businesses and provide them guidance and mentorship.

“An accelerator program takes entrepreneurs who have early-stage businesses and gives them the resources they need to take them to the next level.”

“An accelerator program takes entrepreneurs who have early-stage businesses and gives them the resources they need to take them to the next level,” Blumenstein tells me. “You may have a business with a good idea, a great team, and an idea for a product or service. We bring in experts from the cannabis industry and from outside the cannabis industry who have built and scaled companies. We have this great network of industry leaders, people who are entrepreneurial, people who want to get into the business. We bring them all together, give them the support, mentorship, applicable lessons, all that sort of thing, to grow and raise money and be a successful business.”

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Currently Leaf Forward is in the first phase of its initiative: the boot camp.

Blumenstein launched Leaf Forward’s one-day boot camp for budding businesses in September 2017. At the premiere event, would-be weed entrepreneurs pitched the whole group, then went one-on-one with mentors in break-out sessions. “They get to have some questions answered on legal and regulatory side, have some help with their branding, fundraising, everything.”

With the ongoing boot camps supplying valuable feedback from businesses and mentors, the next step is turning Leaf Forward into a full-scale accelerator program. As it does, will Leaf Forward be putting resources into companies in exchange for equity, like CanopyBuilder and other cannabis accelerators in the United States do?

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“That’s likely the end goal,” says Blumenstein. “But we’re probably going to go through a few phases to get there. The idea is for it to be a full-scale accelerator where there will be some sort of equity take.”

Blumenstein believes he has just the right crew of Canadian talent to mentor the new businesses. “John Prentice is just fantastic. He built the standard of software [known as Ample Organics] for the Canadian cannabis industry. Mike Lickver, part of Cannabis Wheaton, has massive industry knowledge. And Jonathon Tonge is a startup guy so he brings good tech experience.”

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Why does Blumenstein think there hasn’t yet been a successful cannabis-based business accelerator in Canada?

“The real reason is that we’re early,” says Blumenstein. “We’re getting to the table early so people can start to think about what the opportunities are and we can start to guide them in the right direction—even though [with so much pending legislation] it’s not entirely clear yet what that direction will be.”


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.

Podcast: The Roll-Up #3: Dr. Oz and Fox & Friends

The Roll-Up features Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader in a Friday morning roundtable about the week’s top cannabis news.

Leafly Podcast

Episode 003: Dr. Oz & Fox & Friends

This week: With Ben in California, Bruce and Dave discuss Dr. Oz’s use of ‘Fox & Friends’ to lobby President Trump on opioids and medical marijuana. Also: Ontario floats $10 grams, Las Vegas puts cannabis lounges on hold, and we look at the data on cannabis and impaired driving.

What, are you not familiar with the show? Every Friday, Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader dissect the week’s top stories in cannabis with analysis, arguments, jokes, and obscure cultural references.

‘The Roll-Up’: It’s a news and culture podcast that hits the sweet spot between stoned and scholarly.

Previous Episodes:

Stories Mentioned In Episode 3:

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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.

Legalization Looms Large at Toronto NORML Conference

What do you get when you gather budding Canadian cannabis entrepreneurs, some of the top legal minds in the country’s marijuana space, and a legalization advocate-turned Liberal Party federal politician? The 2017 speaker conference for the Canadian chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, which took place September 9-10 in Toronto.

The NORML Canada conference couldn’t have come at a better–and more tense–time.

Hosted by the Vapor Central lounge, where patrons pay for a $5 membership fee to enjoy their cannabis with like-minded individuals, the NORML Canada conference couldn’t have come at a better–and more tense—time. The country’s Standing Committee on Health was prepping its hearings on the adult-use-legalizing Cannabis Act, and Ontario had just announced that legal cannabis sales in the province would be restricted to 150 government-run stores and one government-run website, effectively obliterating the province’s thriving and beloved dispensary scene. Tense times indeed.

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While some of the conference’s panels featured established, corporate licensed producers of legal medical cannabis, a majority of the conference’s speakers represented a new wave of cannabis advocacy– one that attempts to ensure that the voices of cannabis consumers and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs are not left out in the budding new regime.

One of the first talks was a fireside chat between NORML Canada director Abigail Sampson and cannabis entrepreneur Brittney Guerra, who was arrested earlier this year alongside Marc and Jodie Emery for her involvement in the Cannabis Culture franchise.

As a young woman, Guerra elbowed her way into a job in ad sales at Vancouver’s Cannabis Culture magazine. “It was my introduction into the industry, and it was so much fun. I was calling, hounding people, bugging other stoners—‘Look, I know you don’t like telemarketers, but I’m a cool weed one, so listen to what I have to say!’”

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In 2011, Guerra opened her own dispensary in Burnaby, British Columbia, which was eventually shut down by an RCMP raid. Guerra later moved to Hamilton, reconnecting with Cannabis Culture, which had transformed itself into a Canada-wide dispensary chain. Soon after, she oversaw the launch of Cannabis Culture’s Hamilton franchise, running the dispensary until another raid resulted in Guerra’s aforementioned arrest and she was barred from returning to the store as a condition of her bail.

If Guerra’s story shows anything, it’s that arrests won’t kill the determination and zeal of cannabis entrepreneurs. After the Hamilton Cannabis Culture arrest, Guerra persevered and opened yet another store in Hamilton, a cannabis-themed jewelry shop called Canna Gems.

“Canna Gems is interesting for me, because it’s the first business that I have owned that does not break any city bylaws or criminal laws,” said Guerra. “It’s my perfect little legal shop, but I never had as much fun as I did in the dispensaries.”

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At one point, John Conroy—the maverick cannabis lawyer that successfully fought the government’s shutdown of personal medical cannabis cultivation in the Federal Court Allard case—took the stage to encourage cannabis activists to continue pushing for a progressive version of legalization. Conroy was quick to hail activists like Guerra and the Emerys as catalysts for the change that has taken place in courts and legislatures around the country. “We lawyers can’t do things without people like them, who are willing to put their bodies on the line to advance the cause” said Conroy. “If people don’t get up and keep after it, it ends.”

Conroy told the crowd he was not a fan of the country’s legalization bill, which legalizes adult-use recreational cannabis but still contains around 45 criminal offences, including the possession of even a small amount of “illicit” cannabis. But he shared one encouraging insight, noting the he and other cannabis lawyers weren’t seeing the same number of cannabis- possession arrests they once were.

“I used to get hundreds of people charged with cannabis [possession] offences,” said Conroy. “I barely get any anymore.” 

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Encouraging Words from a Renegade MP

One of the most intriguing talks came from MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith, a former commercial litigator who, during his legal studies, researched the fight in the Canadian Supreme Court to legalize cannabis.

While he supports his party’s legalization plan, Erskine-Smith’s also been a renegade on this issue, lobbying Ministers and MPs for a Crown directive that would stop cannabis charges from being pursued pending legalization.

“I am very happy that we’re going to stop arresting people in 2018.”

MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith

He was also the lone Liberal MP to vote in favour of a failed motion to immediately decriminalize cannabis before the drug was fully legalized. “I will fully acknowledge that was a failure in advocacy,” he told the NORML crowd.

But Erskine-Smith would rather focus on success, and thinks the Cannabis Act is a step forward. “When you have someone like myself, a civil libertarian, and police chief Bill Blair also supporting the bill, I think it’s struck the right balance.”

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Erskine-Smith praised his party’s proposal to allow home-growing of up to four plants, but says there is more work to be done on the bill, including expedited pardons for past low-level possession convictions. He also noted the new law relies on the criminal law more than it should.

“No legislation comes out perfectly,” said Erskine-Smith. “I have a bit of record of disagreeing with my own party…but if you’d asked me five years ago if I would see legalization in my lifetime, I would’ve been skeptical. I am very happy to be disagreeing on details and that we’re going to stop arresting people in 2018.”

It left the crowd feeling hopeful that, despite the flaws of the bill, the country was taking steps in the right direction.

But the remaining objective is still clear for the activists who came to the conference.

“We need to get rid of the criminal law in this area completely,” said John Conroy, to loud applause.


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.

Ontario Government Aims to Sell Cannabis for $10 a Gram

Ontario’s still reeling from the announcement that legal cannabis will be sold only through 150 province-run stores and one province-run website (thereby obliterating the province’s beloved dispensary scene). But today brought a small ray of hope, with the CBC reporting that Ontario is aiming to sell its government-issued cannabis for $10 a gram.

Speaking yesterday at the Legislature, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa cited $10 per gram as “certainly something that we’re giving consideration to….The intent is to have some uniformity with these prices across Canada.”

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Last week, the government of New Brunswick announced deals with two cannabis producers that would provide the province with around nine million grams—9,000 kilograms—for the first year of legal cannabis sales, which is set to begin next July. According to the cannabis producers, the estimated retail value of the deal is $80 million to $100 million—which sets the price point in New Brunswick right around $10 per gram.

Though $10 grams sounds sensible, the illicit cannabis market in Ontario right now is actually lower than the $10 price point government officials have suggested. In Ontario, the average cost of a gram of cannabis is currently $8.64.

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Ontario cannabis advocates (including many dispensary owners) have said that if cannabis prices fall below $10 a gram, they’ll have the best chance of eliminating the black market. But if the price point is over $10 a gram, the black market may continue to thrive.

As always, stay tuned.


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.

How Cannabis Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic: An Interview With Philippe Lucas

Philippe Lucas has deep roots in Canada’s cannabis culture. After co-founding the Vancouver Island Compassion Society medical dispensary in 1999, Lucas applied himself to cannabis science, working as a graduate researcher with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia and serving as founding board member of both the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Canada and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. In 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his research on medical cannabis.

Philippe Lucas

(Full disclosure/fun fact: He’s also Vice President of Patient Advocacy at Tilray, the cannabis production company owned by Privateer Holdings, which also owns Leafly.)

Most recently, Lucas is the author of a new study: “Rationale for cannabis-based interventions in the opioid overdose crisis,” published last month in the Harm Reduction Journal. In the study, Lucas lays out a variety of roles that cannabis might play in combatting the opioid epidemic, which currently kills 38,000 people in the U.S. and Canada each year and ranks as the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

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His study added an important perspective to the growing body of evidence supporting the notion of cannabis as healing tool in the opioid crisis. That idea is quickly moving into mainstream thought, as we’ve seen recently with the public pronouncements of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and, just this week, Dr. Oz.

Over the phone from his office in Nanaimo, Lucas let me interrogate him about specifics of the study.

Dave Schmader: What inspired you to undertake this study?

Philippe Lucas: Whether it’s medical use or recreational use, cannabis appears to be having an impact on the rates of opioid abuse. This study is a summation of the evidence, and I’ve taken that summation to suggest three opportunities for cannabis to intervene in the opioid crisis.

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And those are…?

First is introduction—if physicians start recommending the use of medical cannabis prior to introducing patients to opioids, those patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use that all too often leads to abuse or overuse or overdose.

“Patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use.”

The second opportunity is reduction, for those patients who are successfully using opioids in the treatment of their chronic pain or other conditions but are worried about increasing their use of opioids over time. The evidence suggests you can introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment and reduce the cravings for opioids, therefore potentially steering people away and reducing the risk of opioid overdose and opioid dependence.

The third part is cessation. Once individuals have become dependent on opioids and they recognize that dependence and are seeking treatment for it through opioid replacement therapy like methadone and suboxone, you can potentially introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment to increase the success rate of the methadone or suboxone treatment. The reason this point is so important is that when people with an opioid dependence fail out of treatment, that’s the period where they become the most vulnerable to potential overdose. Replacement therapy has failed, they’re at their most vulnerable, and they go back to the illicit drug market, potentially risking overdose.

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A key concept in the study is the “substitution effect.”

Yes. The substitution effect is an economic concept that suggests that the use of one substance never stands alone. In fact, the use of one substance can affect the use of another. When it comes to psychoactive substances, the use of a substance can be affected by changes in price, changes in legality or regulatory access, or changes in the product itself in terms of potency. And that can really affect the use of another drug.

“In medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths.”

A 2014 study showed that in medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths compared to neighboring states that didn’t have medical cannabis programs. There’s a growing body of research showing that simply making medical cannabis available in a number of US states and in Canada has reduced rates of not just opioid use, but also the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances,

often leading to total abstinence of those substances. So we’re looking at cannabis as a potential therapeutic agent, but also as a harm reduction agent when it comes to problematic substance use. This evidence suggests cannabis could be an exit drug to problematic substance use and addiction.

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In the study you write, “Cannabis augments the pain-relieving potential of opioids and can re-potentiate their effects.” Tell me about re-potentiation.

Research suggests that when you use cannabis alongside opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, you seem to get a synergistic effect—a greater effect than you might have if each was taken individually. People who have been using opioids for some time sometimes have to increase their dose, and cannabis presents another option for physicians, so instead of increasing the dose of opioids they can instead prescribe medical cannabis as an adjunct treatment in order to keep the patient at a lower dose of opioids, thereby reducing the risk of overdose.

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Another study quote: “[I]t would seem logical to seek to develop policies and associated education strategies to increase physician support for cannabis for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of chronic pain.” This does seem logical. What are the chances of it happening?

Right now we’re facing this tremendous public-health threat around the opioid overdose crisis. Opioid overdose is the most common cause of accidental death in Canada and the US right now. The over-prescription of opioids seems to be leading the way, in that four out of five people currently injecting opioids say that they started by using prescription opioids. There’s an oversaturation of the market and an over-availability on the black market.

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I think that if we can shift prescription patterns by physicians—so that instead of first prescribing opioids and then, if those opioids fail, moving on to medical cannabis—we can modernize those policies and instead focus on introducing medical cannabis first. That’s based on all the available evidence, which indicates that it’s far less harmful than prescription opioids in terms of dependence and risk of overdose.

Right now in Canada and in US states with medical marijuana, physicians are encouraged to prescribe opioids first and if those don’t work, cannabis is considered as a third- or fourth-line treatment option. We need to flip that around and make cannabis the second-line treatment option and move opioids to third or fourth options if indeed cannabinoids are not successful.


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.

Ontario Hypes Penalties for High Driving While Awaiting a Reliable Test

It’s one of the loudest talking points among those who dread Canada’s impending legalization of cannabis: How will law enforcement handle the presumed influx of high drivers soon to be flooding Canadian roads?

On Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke publicly on the topic, announcing enhanced penalties for those caught operating motor vehicles under the influence of cannabis, with the harshest penalties reserved for young drivers, novice drivers, and commercial drivers.

“We had a goal to balance the new freedom that people in Ontario will have to use cannabis recreationally with everyone’s expectation that it will be managed responsibly,” said Wynne.

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Specifics of the upped penalties come from the Canadian Press, which reports young and novice drivers (with a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence) caught driving high will face licence suspensions of three to 30 days and fines between $250 to $450. Similar fines await operators of commercial vehicles found driving high, along with three-day licence suspensions.

“Overall, under the proposed changes any driver who registers a fail on a roadside screening device would be fined anywhere from $250 to $450,” reports the Canadian Press. “The current fine is $198. Drivers who refuse to provide a sample for a roadside test face a $550 fine under the proposed law, up from the current $198 fine.”

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The perennial problem with tracking high driving: Authorities still lack a reliable roadside test for cannabis impairment, primarily due to cannabis’s ability to remain detectable in bloodstreams days and even weeks after impairment has waned.

The proposed best hope: oral test strips, which would examine THC levels in saliva and are currently awaiting approval by the federal government. (However, as the Toronto Star notes cryptically, “It’s unclear how effective they will be in cold weather.”)

As always, stay tuned.


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.

New Brunswick Announces $90 Million Cannabis Buy

Among the many questions facing Canadian provinces as the country speeds toward its July 1 cannabis-legalization deadline: Where will all this freshly legal recreational cannabis come from?

Late last week, New Brunswick stepped up with an answer, announcing multimillion-dollar deals with a pair of federally licensed medical marijuana producers. New Brunswick’s Organigram Holdings will supply the province with five million grams of cannabis a year, and Ontario’s Canopy Growth Corp. will provide an additional four million grams per year.

Together, the two producers will sell New Brunswick over $90 million worth of cannabis annually. “As part of their supply agreements with New Brunswick, Canopy and Organigram said they will help fund public education or social programs,” reports the Financial Post. (The Post also notes that shares of both Canopy and Organigram rose on the day of the deal’s announcement, “closing up by 2.09 per cent and 16.74 per cent, respectively.”)

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Speaking to CBC News, Canopy Growth president Mark Zekulin expressed excitement about “one of the biggest drug deals in Canadian history,” while Organigram CEO Greg Engel noted the deal will require his company to double its number of employees over the next six to eight months.

Along with its humongous cannabis buy, New Brunswick also announced the creation of a new Crown corporation that will oversee—but not conduct—cannabis sales. “[T]he creation of this new provincial Crown corporation provides the flexibility and lays the groundwork for the eventual retail model once final decisions around that have been made,” Provincial Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said in a press release.

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This “Crown corporation” model has already drawn criticism, with Tory MLA Ross Wetmore telling the CBC that such a model requires the government to assume the costs of distribution and all liability for sales. “We don’t know how the sales are going to go, it’s going to be legal all across the country,” he said. “People aren’t going to flock to New Brunswick.”

Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Medical Society praised the arrangement as the best approach for regulating recreational cannabis sales. “We reiterate our recommendation that, unlike NB Liquor, the corporation managing the sale of cannabis should not be profit-driven or subject to a profit target established by the provincial government,” said Dr. Dharm Singh, president-elect of the society, in a statement to the CBC.

Stay tuned for specifics on how and where New Brunswick’s $90 million worth of cannabis will be sold (and for how much).


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.

“It’s Impossible”: Canadian Police Challenge Legalization Deadline

Many Canadians are pleased that the federal government is going to legalize recreational marijuana next July but others are not—and some of the most vocal critics of that date are those who will be responsible for enforcing the new laws.

The deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police made that abundantly clear on Sept. 12, when he appeared before the parliamentary health committee studying the proposed legislation. “If legislation is ready to go in July 2018, policing will not be ready to go in August. It’s impossible,” Rick Barnum stated plainly. He said the legislation represents “a great step” but added that it should be taken “slowly and properly.”

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Mike Serr, co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police drug advisory committee, asked members of parliament to consider giving law enforcement officials more time to get ready—a request that the association had submitted in writing days earlier.

Law enforcement officials say they need more time to teach police how to enforce the new laws.

Law enforcement officials across the country say they need more time to teach police officers how to enforce the new laws. They also need time to double the number of officers who are certified to conduct roadside tests for drug-impaired driving. In July, Canadian Association of Chiefs Of Police President Mario Harel said about 2,000 certified officers would be needed, more than three times the current total.

In an interview with Leafly, Wayne Kalinski, vice chair of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police’s substance abuse committee, explained that Canadian police officers have to be sent to Arizona to learn how to detect drug impairment in drivers. In addition to being time-consuming, it’s costly, he said, as is replacing those officers during their absence.

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Ottawa recently responded to the law enforcement community’s pleas for more resources by designating $274 million to help police and border officials cover costs stemming from the new law — but the timing was far from ideal. The money will start to flow after the legislation is enacted rather than before, which is when police say they need it.

Kalinski points to other problems that have yet to be addressed.

While a breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s blood stream, there is currently no equivalent device for detecting THC, he says, at least not one that has been given the stamp of approval by Canadian law enforcement officials.

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But even if there was such a device, how much THC would be considered too much? Though a driver with two nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood would be considered legally impaired under the new legislation, there is no scientific consensus on how much THC constitutes impairment. Also, that THC limit is low enough that a person could exceed it a week or two after ingesting cannabis.`

What if the federal government refuses to delay legalization?

As Barnum told the House of Commons committee, if legislation is enacted next July, police won’t be ready for six months to a year afterwards, creating a window of time during which organized crime could flourish. That would cause so much damage it would be “very, very hard [for law enforcement to] ever regain a foothold,” he said.

Kalinski told Leafly “police would continue to enforce laws as best they could” if the legislation was enacted in July but they are hoping the government will give them more time and resources.

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So far, Ottawa seems unwilling to budge on the legalization date. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa had given authorities “lots of time” to prepare for legalization and added that it was “time to move on.”

Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, who is now parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and who served as chair of the federal task force on marijuana legalization, recently told reporters he doesn’t have authority to approve or deny a delay but seemed to imply one wasn’t necessary. “I think it’s important that we focus on getting this job done as quickly as we are able. We have established a pretty tight timeline, a difficult timeline, but that challenge is I think an important one, and everybody is working hard to get it done.”

We want to get our people proper training and equipment,” Kalinksi told Leafly. “There is no point in enacting legislation without us being prepared. That would just put us behind the eight ball.”


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.

Podcast: ‘The Roll-Up,’ Episode 2, Utah Thinks It’s Punny

The Roll-Up features Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader in a Friday morning roundtable about the week’s top cannabis news.

Leafly Podcast

Episode 002: Opening the Hatch

This week: Bruce, Ben, and Dave wrap their heads around Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s pun-tastic defense of medical marijuana and Ontario’s plan to open province-run cannabis stores. Also: Leafly writer Gage Peake explains how the cannabis industry supports 149,000 jobs.

What’s this show all about then? Every Friday, Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader dissect the week’s top stories in cannabis with analysis, arguments, jokes, and obscure cultural references.

‘The Roll-Up’: It’s a news and culture podcast that hits the sweet spot between stoned and scholarly.

Previous Episodes:

Stories Mentioned In Episode 2:

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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.

“Exchanging Prohibition for Extreme Regulation”: Toronto Braces for New Cannabis Reality

A month before Project Claudia began, Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would introduce legalization legislation in the spring of 2017.

On the heels of this announcement, the dispensary market in Toronto, which had previously been operating in relative obscurity for decades, exploded. “There was this little period where I promise you it felt like cannabis was legal in Toronto,” says Cory Thompson, who owns two dispensaries in the city. “There was this overall feeling that cannabis was legal in Canada. Like quasi. It’s coming. We’re there. It’s all good. Then boom. The raids start. They start swarming all the dispensaries.”

“I wanted to be a patient and patient provider at the table but they aren’t even listening to us.”

dispensary owner and MMJ patient Cory Thompson

Thompson has multiple sclerosis and in 2012, while confined to a wheelchair, he began studying the medical potential of cannabis. Intrigued, he sought out a compassion club which secured him affordable access to the plant. He purchased a pound of bud, turned it into oil, and a few days later, his big toe moved. He skipped his next doctor’s appointment. Three weeks later, he was out of the wheelchair and moving with the assistance of a walker.

During his recovery, Thompson had to travel long distances to pick up his medicine, making trips that were often difficult and exhausting. It was enough to push him into business. With a partner, he opened a compassion club of his own, with reduced prices for medical patients. After a few years of operation, the club was raided and shut down.

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“It’s frustrating,” he says. “If you want weed you can go get it but if you want medicine, and you need it at an affordable rate, what I call dignified access, that’s few and far between.”

For the time being, Thompson is optimistic that his dispensaries will remain open. He is extremely thorough with his client screening, checking paperwork and medical records and calling doctors, but he’s not sure what the future holds. The threat of robbery or raid, Thompson says, even for those doing their due diligence, is a thought that never really goes away.

“It’s fucking trying, man. It’s not what I signed up for. I thought we were going to get regulated. I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be a voice for the future, for regulation, for patients voices to be heard.

“I wanted to be a patient and patient provider at the table but they aren’t even listening to us.”

Shocking News from Ontario

(John Hryniuk for Leafly)

Last week, things got worse for dispensary owners. The Ontario government unveiled their plan for legalization. The province intends to restrict sales of legal cannabis to 150 government-run stores and a government-run website. Like vermin, the independent dispensaries will be eradicated.

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Almost immediately, the announcement prompted anger and disappointment. “Prohibition is not being lifted,” Harris says, “They are exchanging prohibition with extreme regulation.”

“This is a tyrannical plan from the provincial government,” says Jack Lloyd, a Toronto-based cannabis lawyer. “It’s a ridiculous plan and it doesn’t respect the cannabis culture that exists. It doesn’t respect the cannabis community that exists. It’s an attempt to deracinate our entire community and it doesn’t respect patients’ rights.”

Lloyd is not interested in the recreational side of the issue. The government can have that, he says, “but medical cannabis dispensaries are vital and patients deserve to be able to go to a storefront dispensary to be able to access their medicine.”

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“Prohibition is not being lifted. They are exchanging prohibition with extreme regulation.”

dispensary owner Trevor Harris

Last month, in Ontario Superior Court, Lloyd argued that dispensaries cannot be prohibited from operating when the government’s current medical cannabis system is broken and can’t keep up with demand. He was fighting on behalf of the Hamilton Village Dispensary, which had been ordered to shut down by the City of Hamilton. The judge sided with Lloyd, ruling that the dispensary could stay open as long as they were supplying medical cannabis to patients with a valid prescription.

A similar case will be before the courts next week in Toronto. What happens there will impact how the city handles dispensaries moving forward. “If they win there, the city is going to be forced to license them,” Lloyd says. “This is the big fight.”

Paul Lewin is one of the lawyers involved in that case and, like Lloyd, he’s frustrated by the proposed Ontario regulations.

“This plan is not very popular across a large part of the cannabis community,” he says. “[The dispensaries] are going to be driven further underground, which of course makes things less safe for Toronto. Prohibition has that effect, you drive industry further underground. So instead of well-lit stores on main streets in which they are security guards and tested products, it’s a little more old-school, which is a little less safe, but I don’t think they’re going away. The cannabis community has suffered through 100 years of prohibition and they are resilient.”

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Lewin, who represented many of the employees who were caught up in Project Claudia, says that the raids disproportionately affect young working Canadians.

“These are very serious charges that are being laid against these young people,” he says, “Some of whom were having a hard time finding a job, some who are medical patients and have great sympathy for other medical patients and have valuable knowledge and skills. They are facing very serious jeopardy. They are still Harper-era mandatory minimums on the books. I think it’s really irresponsible to be using the criminal law in this way.”

It is difficult to identify the motivating force behind the raids, though they are some popular theories.

(John Hryniuk for Leafly)

“I think it’s being pushed by higher ups,” says Paul Lewin. “I can tell you that many cops are not very excited about these raids and realize that it’s really a very low policing priority. This is being pushed from above. Dispensaries have been operating openly in Toronto for about 20 years and no one cared too much about them until we started to get closer to legalization. Ironically, it’s on the eve of legalization, when the government announces their plans for legal cannabis, that they want to launch an enforcement summit to shut down dispensaries? They’re most concerned now? When it’s about to be legal? Which really tells you what their priorities about. They’ve got this public health fig leaf that they are trying to hold up but it’s not about public health, it’s about them making money and protecting their turf.”

“It reeks of cronyism. (LPs) are using the police to enforce their business plan. It’s terrifying.”

cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd

Some point to Canada’s licensed producers (LPs), the federally approved growing operations whose relationship with the dispensaries is acrimonious, at best. Many of the LPs are staffed with board members with political ties and individuals who were once waging the war on cannabis and are now putting themselves in a position to cash in once legalization arrives.

Former Toronto Police chief Bill Blair is handling the legalization file for Trudeau’s government. Kim Derry, who served as deputy chief under Blair, is the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario. Former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman is also employed by the company. Canopy Growth, the largest publicly-traded medical marijuana company in Canada, was founded by Chuck Rifici while he was CFO of the Liberal Party of Canada.

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“It reeks of cronyism,” Lloyd says. “The problem is they are using the police to enforce their business plan. It’s terrifying, to be frank. And mark my words they are going to go through and arrest literally hundreds of Canadians under the age of 25, who believe in the cannabis plant and work in this world and really would never have anything to do, or never have any interaction otherwise, with criminal law.

“They could have very easily, simply licensed all the existing dispensaries and that would have solved this problem. Instead, they’ve elected to declare war on a group of political activists, moderate civil disobedient activists, cannabis enthusiasts and cannabis legalization activists. They are just arresting the culture. To say that it’s draconian is an understatement.”


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