Tag: Canada

The Ontario Proposition: Details and Feedback from the Scene

The Ontario government today announced that recreational marijuana will be sold only at dozens of province-run stores and through a province-run web site after the federal government passes legislation legalizing recreational cannabis next July.

The province also announced that the sale of marijuana will be restricted to those 19 years and older (a year above the minimum age recommended by the federal government’s cannabis task force) and that the consumption of marijuana will not be legal anywhere but in private residences.

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This makes Ontario the first province to establish a plan to manage the sale and distribution of cannabis—a task that has been delegated to the provinces by the federal government.

Forty cannabis stores will be up and running when recreational marijuana becomes legal across the country next July.

During today’s press conference, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi also said the government is committed to shutting down the dozens of dispensaries currently operating in the province illegally. “Dispensaries are not legal now and will not be legal under the new model,” said Naqvi. “They will be shut down. If you are operating a dispensary, you are now on notice.”

He said provincial officials will meet with municipalities and law enforcement officials to create a plan of attack.

“Dispensaries are at a crossroads in Ontario with many storefronts choosing to shut down,” Lisa Campbell, of the Toronto-based Cannabis Friendly Business Association, said in response to today’s announcement. “There will be a long battle in the coming years ahead, which will be fought in courts. We have been fighting the government retail model for two years now, but the writing was on the wall.”

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Forty cannabis stores will be up and running when recreational marijuana becomes legal across the country next July, Sousa said, with another 40 opening within the next twelve months. He said he expects 150 marijuana stories to be operating in the province by the end of 2020. (For comparison, Ontario is home to 651 liquor stores.)

Pricing and taxation have yet to be determined, but Sousa said the price of cannabis in the stores will be low enough to discourage consumers from buying it on the black market.

“Currently the LCBO is the largest buyer of wine globally, which means they could easily be the largest buyer of weed in the near future,” said Campbell. “This has huge implications internationally as we are currently negotiating NAFTA. Having a government monopoly on distribution hopefully means stronger trade negotiations for cannabis. Ontario and California are trade partners, so potential for future LCBO import could be enormous.”

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Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana Takes Aim at Quebec

Though the province is restricting consumption of recreational marijuana to private residences, it has not ruled out allowing it to be consumed elsewhere in the future. Sousa said the government could look at that possibility down the road.

In coming up with its new policy, Naqvi said, the province looked at the American states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Based on those observations, he said, he believes the province has come up with a “safe and sensible framework.” “The experience of those states has shown us that it’s better to start off with strong controls and re-evaluate later,” added Sousa. He added that the province’s goal is to “supplant the illicit market.”

“While it’s easy to see the negative there are many future possibilities,” said Campbell, “including licensing cannabis use in bars, lounges and restaurants once the federal government sorts out the final details.”


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 Shocker: Province to Restrict Legal Cannabis Sales to 150 Government-Run Stores and One Website

One of the great questions leading up to Canada’s 2018 legalization of adult-use cannabis is how individual provinces will handle their Trudeau-given duties to hammer out details of the newly legal plant’s distribution and sale.

“Online sales will begin next July.”

Today, Ontario gave us a shocking example of what such provincial hammering might look like, unveiling a plan that would restrict sales of legal cannabis in the province to 150 government-run stores and a government-run website—a move that would completely outlaw the province’s thriving, beloved, and, yes, illegal independent dispensaries.

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Other details of the plan, announced today at a joint press conference held by Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Health Minister Eric Hoskins, and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi in Queen’s Park: the aforementioned 150 government-run cannabis stores will be overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and sales of legal adult-use cannabis will be restricted to those 19 and above (the same as liquor).

“There will be 80 LCBO weed stores in place across the province by July 1, 2019 and another 70 by 2020,” reports the Toronto Star. “Online sales will begin next July.”

Some backstory and speculation: This summer, Ontario conducted an as-vast-as-possible survey of its citizens, seeking their opinions on cannabis, to help steer the province’s official cannabis guidelines. “[The survey will carry] lots of weight,” Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi told the CBC in July. “It’s important from our perspective to hear directly from Ontarians.”

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Torontonians Love Their Dispensaries. Why Is Mayor Tory Dead Set Against Them?

The results of this Ontario survey are still being digested, but in a Forum Research survey conducted in April 2016, 52% of Ontario respondents expressed the opinion that the best place to sell legal cannabis would be dedicated cannabis dispensaries. More recently, a survey conducted by Nanos Research in July 2018 found that 55% of Ontario residents preferred cannabis be sold by licensed private retailers rather than province-run liquor stores.

Clearly, Ontarions love their non-LCBO cannabis dispensaries—so why is the government, which made so much noise about valuing citizens’ input, killing them dead? Perhaps the dream is to incorporate everything people love about independent dispensaries into the forthcoming government shops. Or maybe it’s just a middle-finder to the illegal dispensary scene and any and all who appreciate it.

Stay tuned for on-the-ground reporting from 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.

How Are Canadian Patients Using Medical Cannabis?

This article is sponsored by Tilray, one of the largest and most sophisticated producers of medical cannabis in the world. Tilray is dedicated to providing safe, consistent, and reliable products to patients and furthering clinical and observational research examining the therapeutic potential of cannabis.


It seems like every day brings a new study about the ways medical cannabis can be used in healthcare. But how are patients already accessing medical cannabis, and in what form? And more importantly, how is it impacting their quality of life? A new study led by Philippe Lucas, Vice-President of Patient Research & Access for Tilray, and Leafly’s own Nick Jikomes, PhD, provides some of the first answers to these questions.

Tilray’s Philippe Lucas presents data from the company’s latest patient research. (Courtesy of Tilray)

The Tilray Patient Survey 2017 saw the company partner with academics and researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, McMaster University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria on the largest survey of Canadian medical cannabis patients ever conducted, tracking the responses of 2,032 patients across Canada.

Patient Preferences

Medical marijuana patients who responded to the survey were a median of 40 years old, and men outnumbered women almost two to one. About one in five respondents (22%) had private insurance, but just 3% got financial assistance to help defray the cost of their medical cannabis prescription.

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Respondents were more or less evenly split between their preferences for indica (25%), sativa (22%), and hybrid strains (21%)—just ahead of users who had no preference at 17.5%. High-CBD strains were favored by just 14.5% of respondents, but CBD-heavy varieties made a strong showing among respondents who used extracts and concentrates—50% looked for a high-CBD strain in those products.

Medical Cannabis Instead Of…

Nearly 70% of users reported that they substituted medical cannabis for a previously prescribed medication. The leading substance that medical cannabis replaced? Opioids (36%), with antidepressants (21%) and other pain medications following close behind.

“In 610 mentions of opioid medication, 59% of patients stopped using these painkillers completely, and another 18% cut their consumption to a quarter or less,” said Lucas, the lead author on the study. “This suggests that cannabis may already be playing a harm-reduction role in the current opioid crisis.”

Tilray cannabis oil capsules. (Courtesy of Tilray)

These findings are consistent with US-based research by Bachhuber et al. (2014) showing a nearly 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths in medical cannabis states compared to neighboring states that did not allow the medical use of cannabis.

It wasn’t just prescription drugs that cannabis helped patients phase out, though. Nearly a third of participants (31%) reported that using medical cannabis had helped them cut their tobacco use, and half of those respondents had quit using tobacco altogether. In addition, 44% of those surveyed reported that medical cannabis helped them consume less alcohol, and 26% said that cannabis products served as a substitute for illicit drugs.

The study also found that the two main conditions that drive patients to seek medical cannabis were chronic pain (38%) and mental health issues (40%), including anxiety and insomnia.

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Although cannabis use for medical purposes is gaining acceptance as patients choose it for a variety of health challenges, it doesn’t fit the traditional “take two and call me in the morning” format of other prescriptions. With so many ways to work medical cannabis into a healthcare plan, researchers asked participants how they prefer to get their daily dose.

Flower Power

Despite the variety of delivery methods now available for medical cannabis, respondents tended to stick with a classic: flower was far and away the most popular choice for patients. Most patients (74%) used cannabis on a daily basis, and average consumption was about a gram and a half every day, translating to just over 19 ounces a year. A lot of that was consumed as joints, the most popular method of smoking medical cannabis. 

A package of medicinal flower. (Courtesy of Tilray)

But while traditional flower was the most popular form of cannabis among Canadian patients, new ways of ingesting it are growing in popularity. Almost half (47%) of participants reported that their main cannabis delivery method was non-smoking. Vaporizers, including gear like e-nails and vape pens, were the favored method for 31% of respondents.

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Bringing up the rear, juicing was the least popular method of consuming cannabis, with just 0.2% of survey takers calling it their primary method of use. Topicals like oils and salves just edged it out as the most popular forms of cannabis consumption among 0.3% of patients.

Cannabis may already be playing a harm-reduction role in the current opioid crisis.

Philippe Lucas, Vice-President of Patient Research & Access, Tilray

Takeaways

The data patients shared with researchers demonstrates that the long-held promise medical cannabis holds for treating a broad array of conditions is starting to be realized. In particular, the initial findings of this study highlight the potential of medical cannabis to help address North America’s opioid crisis by providing a safer substitute in the treatment of chronic pain. Now, authors of the study are drafting the data into a number of academic publications that will help to better understand and contextualize the results.

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“I’ve had the privilege of working with medical cannabis patients for over 20 years, and it’s an honor to be able to share their experiences through studies like the Tilray Patient Survey 2017,” Lucas said.

Disclaimer: Tilray and Leafly are both subsidiaries of Privateer Holdings, Inc.


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.

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana Takes Aim at Quebec

Medical cannabis advocates are gearing up for the Quebec government’s public consultations on legal marijuana. Last weekend in Montreal, Daphnée Elisma, Québec representative of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and pictured below, led a discussion group for medical-cannabis patients of Montreal’s Santé Cannabis clinic. Her goal was to help them prepare, formulate, and articulate their comments during the government’s consultation process (which runs in different cities until mid-September), whether they plan to attend in person, or whether they will write letters if they are to unwell to be there physically.

Photo credit: Sasha Brunelle

“I explained to them how to present themselves on the different issues in the rights of patients who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” she told Leafly, noting that principal among her concerns are issues relating to distribution and taxation. “We’ve been asking the government to think about patients when they plan the legislation, and to have a different tax system than the recreational market for the medical users. Right now we’re being taxed, and it’s unfair for users to have to pay taxes on cannabis for medical purposes. When you go to the pharmacy and buy something prescribed by a doctor, you don’t pay taxes on that. Patients who use cannabis for medical purposes still have to pay that tax, and it’s a barrier to access. We have people on welfare using medical cannabis, and they have to choose either to eat or to buy their medicine. We’d like the government to fix that issue.”

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During the session, she noted, one of the issues that patients raised several times was the need for improved research into medical cannabis.

“Patients with chronic conditions face unfair barriers when it comes to making informed decisions on the uses of cannabis for medical purposes due to the lack of clinical medical research,” Elisma said. “We need more funding to support the onerous licensing requirements that researchers are facing at the moment. By taxing the recreational market, the Quebec government would be able to use the tax revenue from cannabis as a source of funding for education and research.”

Quebec has one of the highest barriers to medical cannabis in Canada.

She also called on the government to pour funds into cannabis education—both for medical school students, and for the public, stressing the need to lessen stigma against medical cannabis users.

At the moment, Quebec has one of the highest barriers to medical cannabis in Canada. The guidelines for prescribing cannabis from the Collège des médecins du Québec (Quebec College of Physicians) note that “[t]he use of cannabis for medical purposes is not a recognized treatment” and “an unrecognized treatment can only be used within a research framework.” Before a physician can prescribe medical cannabis, they must first prescribe other forms of cannabinoids—which some find harsh and disorienting. If the patient wishes to receive medical cannabis after that, they must also receive a “complete medical assessment.” Few of these obstacles exist for patients being prescribed opioid painkillers.

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“There is not enough scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of cannabis dried for medical purposes,” the Collège des médecins du Québec’s Press Relation Leslie Labranche told Leafly. “The current state of knowledge as well as the rare studies and evidence on the subject leave physicians perplexed. That’s why physicians in Québec may prescribe cannabis within [the] cannabis framework.”

In January, the Montreal Gazette reported that some of the city’s clinics were turning to doctors located outside of Quebec, for whom the process of prescribing cannabis is significantly less onerous. According to the Collège des médecins du Québec, it is against the law for a doctor outside of Quebec to prescribe cannabis to a patient in Quebec.

“We have issues with the Collège des médecins,” said Elisma. “They don’t consider cannabis an approved drug, and they’ve been saying for years that cannabis is not backed by any research. That’s not true. We know there’s a lot of research that’s been done in the past, so we’re asking the government to do more research in order to get a more correct picture of the medical value of cannabis. We’ve seen research showing improvement for children with epilepsy treated with CBD. The population needs to know this—how things like CBD affect the body.”

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Labranche reported that the Collège des médecins du Québec is partially supporting the project “The Quebec Cannabis Register: A Research Database on the Use of Dried Cannabis for Medical Purpose,” led by Dr. Mark A. Ware, McGill University Health Centre and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids.

While the Collège des médecins remains conservative in its approaches, Elisma is optimistic about the provincial consultations. In June, she joined doctors, researchers, scientists, and government functionaries in the two-day Forum of Experts on Regulation of Cannabis in Québec. Both an advocate and a patient, Elisma relies on three grams of vaporized cannabis per day to help her cope with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which she developed following having a cancerous tumour removed from her breast. As such, she grounds her activism in personal experience.

“The fact that they’re having public consultations, this to me is a good sign,” she said. “It shows the government wants to start a conversation between experts and patients. This is why an organization like Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana is working so hard to move this discussion forward. This happens slowly, but I have a feeling we’re going to get somewhere. People are ready to express their feelings about the value of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and the obstacles they’ve faced over the years to accessing it.”


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.

Tilray Secures Portugal License, Plans EU Expansion

Tilray, one of Canada’s largest licensed producers, has secured a license to produce medical cannabis in Portugal. Earlier this morning, the company announced that Government of Portugal has issued the Nanaimo, BC-based LP a license to import cannabis genetics and cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.

The company also said it would invest up to €20 million (C$29.2 million) in a European Union campus based in the BIOCANT Research Park in Cantanhede, Portugal, an agricultural and biosciences hub between Porto and Lisbon. The first phase of the project, expected to be completed by the spring of 2018, includes an indoor laboratory and genetics bank, outdoor cultivation sites, a 10,000-square-meter greenhouse, and a 1,500-square-meter processing facility.

Tilray is owned by Privateer Holdings, the Seattle-based private equity firm that also owns Leafly.

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“For the past two years we’ve been working hard to find the right location for cultivation, processing, and research facilities to serve rapidly growing demand for high-quality medical cannabis products in Europe,” Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy said in a statement released by the company. “Portugal has the ideal climate to cultivate cannabis, a highly-skilled health care workforce, and a vibrant research community. It’s more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective to supply European patients from Portugal than from northern climates.”

The Portuguese license and facility continues the Canadian company’s global expansion, which includes subsidiaries in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

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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 Vancouver Experiences for High Folks

From scenic vistas to culinary indulgences, Vancouver is blessed with an invigorating mix of natural features and human-made concoctions to delight those under the sensory-enhancing spell of cannabis. Numerous Vancouver attractions are known to everyone and their step-dancing monkey, but here are a few places and experiences that are a little under-the-radar, less touristy, and totally worthy of your attention.

Whytecliff Park

(Maxvis/iStock)

The clothing-optional Wreck Beach is the obvious, more accessible sea-and-sand mecca. Whytecliff Park, perched out in the northwestern suburb of West Vancouver, is much, much farther out there—but those who make the trek are rewarded with arresting seascapes and views of the islands of Howe Sound. With over 15 hectares to traverse, there are a few trails, rugged shorelines, picnic spots, rocky outcroppings, and pebbled beachfronts. Upon low tide, you can walk along a rock-strewn tombolo to the tiny Whyte Island while examining local inhabitants like starfish that call this lush marine sanctuary their home.

The Galley Patio and Grill

(Courtesy of The Galley Patio and Grill)

At this under-the-radar spot, you can feast upon unobstructed views of the waters and North Shore while chowing down on Jamaican jerk chicken burgers, Baja fish tacos, wild B.C. salmon salad, black bean and roasted squash tostada, local beer, and Canadian wine. It’s “cheap ’n’ cheerful” mode here, with casual patio seating and décor. As remote as it is out at the Jericho Beach Sailing Centre, be warned that the patio does draw a full deck on sunny days. Nonetheless, inside seating is available should Raincouver crash the party.

Outdoor and Indoor Yoga

(Courtesy of The Mat Collective)

There’s no shortage of yoga in the birthplace of Lululemon Athletica. Heck, there’s been all forms and variations imaginable here, including paddleboard yoga, aqua yoga, acrobatic yoga, cat yoga, bunny yoga, men’s yoga, and—yup—even beer yoga. While there aren’t any designated cannabis yoga classes, what’s stopping you? When the weather’s behaving, self-directed yogis can soak in the city’s natural setting as they practice anywhere from well-known spots like Kitsilano Beach or Queen Elizabeth Park to West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park or South Vancouver’s Riverfront Park on the banks of the Fraser River. Indoor options include local chain Yyoga (various locations), which offers a spectrum of classes spanning hot yoga and hatha to warm yin and meditation.

Foot Massage

(KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)

As the city’s Asian Canadian population has grown, so have Asian cultural resources and businesses. Case in point: reflexology. While Westerners focus on bodywork for relaxation, Chinese massage traditions zero in on the feet, and any number of Chinese-run massage centres offer foot massage that will send the cannabis-enhanced on a mythic journey of emotional sensation. Although the interiors at some Big Feet locations are bare-bones, their rates are almost half of those at Western spas. For nicely appointed décor, check out Toe to Soul Relax Lounge (three locations). Newbies may find the experience ticklish or awkward but the experience can be quite sensational, even soleful. (Groan. I’m sorry.)

The Rio Theatre

(Courtesy of The Rio Theatre)

Commercial Drive is antithetical to its namesake, as its unique array of independent shops and eateries anchor a politically progressive, culturally diverse, queer-friendly neighbourhood. After an afternoon of browsing there, peace out at the Rio Theatre, just off the Drive. As one of the city’s last single-screen movie theatres, it serves up an eclectic array of films from cult hits and second-run flicks, and also hosts live events: burlesque, comedians, variety shows, musical acts, and lots more. Most importantly, the concession stand offers beer, wine, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

International Village Mall

(Courtesy of International Village Mall)

Vancouver has a wealth of surefire choices for sensory stimulation, from Science World and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre to the Richmond Night Market and the Pacific National Exhibition. But if you wanna go the David Lynchian route, head directly to International Village. Straddling Gastown and Chinatown, this itchy dreamscape of a mall offers an off-kilter, semi-awkward mix of hip draws, vacant storefronts, and quirky shops. For visual stimulation, there’s Japanese dollar store Yokoyaya 123 and nerd haven One Stop Shop Cards and Games. For tactile fun, there’s Catfe, an appointment-only café featuring cats up for adoption. Feeling munchy? Eateries vary from the casual, paleo Caveman Café to the sleek, new Black Lounge, or there’s the second-floor, Asian-oriented food court, with everything from Thai and Sri Lankan food to bubble tea. Wanna chill? The third-floor multiplex screens everything: blockbusters, arty fare, foreign flicks (Filipino romances, anyone?). It’s almost always empty, which gives you plenty of room to do your own thing.

Pacific Spirit Park

(Tamas-V/iStock)

The majestic, internationally acclaimed Stanley Park gets all the glory and deservedly so. Alas, it’s a tourist magnet. To do as the Romans do, try Pacific Spirit Park, a 874-hectare nature preserve that separates the University of British Columbia at Point Grey from the rest of the city’s West Side. Here, you can immerse yourself in “forest bathing,” as the Japanese call it, as you trundle along the 73 kilometres of hiking trails and bog boardwalks enveloped by sprawling woods. With only occasional dog-walking residents, joggers, or horse-and-riders passing by, it’s a prime setting for communing with nature. Bonus: the park includes the aforementioned clothing-optional Wreck Beach.


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.

Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis? Toronto’s Unfounded Fears Underscore the Need for Regulation

As summer enters its final few weeks, the number of fentanyl overdoses in Toronto continue to climb. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Abused recreationally on its own, fentanyl is also added to other hard drugs (mostly heroin and cocaine) to increase their effects.

However, even a small dose of fentanyl can be lethal. Over three days in late July, Toronto reported 20 suspected fentanyl overdoses and four deaths. The numbers continue to increase in the greater Toronto area and across North America. (A recent New York Times story noted the staggering 540% increase in U.S. fentanyl deaths over the past three years.)

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All of the above explains why concern spiked after an August safety alert from London, ON suggested that fentanyl could be found in cannabis. Jointly issued by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Addiction Services of Thames Valley, and the London Police Service, the safety alert came with a special warning from Dr. Christopher Mackie, Middlesex-London’s medical officer of health, who recommended that all cannabis users carry naloxone kits to prevent accidental fentanyl overdoses.

Almost immediately, cannabis advocates began questioning the alert. One area of contention: the sole impetus for the warning came from patients at a treatment center for opiate addiction “who…reported only smoking marijuana,” and were found to have traces of fentanyl in their urine.

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Eric Shepperd, a London cannabis activist, raised flags about the nature of such self-reported claims, noting that patients could be lying about their drug usage out of fear of repercussions. But the operators of the treatment center stand by their procedures.

There have been no reported cases of fentanyl being found in cannabis.

“We use a best-practice standard called ‘motivational interviewing,’ which promotes a transparent relationship between practitioner and client and does not perpetuate the myth that clients lie for no reason,” explains Linda Sibley, executive director of Addiction Services of Thames Valley to Leafly. “There is no expectation of abstinence and no costs to answering honestly about other drug use….There is little reason to doubt the client’s self-report.” Sibley stated that the results from the screenings could just be an anomaly. “We were very surprised as well and are not suggesting that it is in marijuana regularly but there was a positive test in this clinic,” she said. “We live in a complicated world so I believe it is prudent to warn in case.”

The key takeaway of Toronto’s would-be public-health scare, confirmed by Toronto Public Health spokesperson Susan Shepherd: There have been no reported cases of fentanyl being found in cannabis.

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Despite this fact, some fear the publicity brought by such a public-health scare could influence or erode support for legalization. Activists like Eric Shepperd worry this type of fear tactic can lead to greater restrictions. “Unfortunately, scares like these will nonetheless muddy the water, possibly leading to over-legislation,” said Shepperd.

Others see something of a silver lining in Toronto’s dubious safety alert. “I think quality control issues—including the use of banned pesticides and presence of mold in unregulated black-market cannabis—provide more support for the emergence of a legal recreational market in Canada,” said the University of Toronto’s Akwasi Owusu-Bempah to Leafly.

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Owusu-Bempah’s optimistic reading echoes a previous statement made by Toronto Public Health’s Susan Shepherd: “One of the key benefits of cannabis being legalized and regulated in Canada is to ensure we have a quality controlled product that doesn’t contain any toxic contaminants/adulterants or unwanted drugs.”

With legalization on the horizon, now’s a good time to reflect on the baseless fears that led to the criminalization of cannabis in the first place. May Toronto’s imaginary public-health scare remind us that regulation and production standards are a better guarantee for public safety than fear and hearsay.


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.

At BRNT Designs, Four University of Alberta Students Aim to Build a Better Bong

For many people, college is where they first encountered and learned to properly handle a bong. But for a quartet of students at the University of Alberta, college is where they hatched and began prototyping their plan to build a better bong—an easily cleanable rig designed to withstand humanity’s tendency to drop things, yet stylish enough to warrant display in the home.

Thus began BRNT Designs, which found the four UAlberta students—two mechanical engineering students, two business students—working with the vice dean of the business school to help make their dream bong a physical and commercial reality.

BRNT’s first project: the Hexagon, a ceramic bong with a striking, angular design that’s engineered to be dishwasher- and freezer-safe as well as drop-resistant. (That’s it pictured above.) This fall, BRNT will be launching an online crowdfunding campaign to fund the Hexagon. This week, I talked to BRNT CEO Simon Grigenas and Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Feltham about their bongly ambitions and histories and the challenges of navigating the sporadically legal recreational cannabis marketplace.

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LEAFLY: Let’s start at the beginning—what was your first experience with any sort of bong?

SIMON: My first experience was when I was much younger, with a bong I made myself. I was at a buddy’s house, and we cut up a two-liter plastic bottle and made something with that. The first bong I ever purchased came from the corner-store head shop, where I picked out the cheapest glass bong I could find. A month and a half later, I knocked it over and it broke, and that was that.

Simon, Andrew, and the Hexagon prototype

ANDREW: I just recently started smoking, and my first experience with a bong was with Simon’s rig.

SIMON: Our prototype BRNT bong is now our go-to dab rig. We’ve been working with different prototypes for the past year, and we’ve really grown fond of this one we’re using now, which has a quartz banger in it.

Did your previous experience with bongs supply you with a list of complaints and shortcomings you knew you wanted to address with your own bong? 

SIMON: I was the one who had the most experience with cannabis use. I’m a medical marijuana patient in Canada, and I’m treated for a head trauma I had a few years back. So I brought all my knowledge of bongs—having difficulty cleaning glass bongs in the past, having trouble with bongs breaking or falling of a coffee table and cracking. Those are some of the things I wanted to change. And then there was the experience of the past five years, reading about cannabis accessories, putting ice in your bong. I wanted to be able to cool smoke even more, by ensuring our bong is freezer-safe.

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This Guy Just Made Your Bong Ten Times Better

What’s been the most surprising bump in the road in the prototyping of your bong?

SIMON: Finding engineers. We have two engineers in-house, and we also worked with contracted engineers. And a lot of them didn’t have a lot of experience with cannabis. You have to bring all your knowledge to them, show them what you’re looking to do, and really work back-and-forth to make sure the design suits the functionality. It was tough, and we went through a lot of prototypes—different 3-D printed designs and ceramic models—to figure out exactly what the user will have in their hand.

What’s been the biggest challenge in regard to design and functionality?

ANDREW: I’d say the most difficult thing has been heat resistance—working with thermal shock to determine how thick the bong walls need to be, and how the holes are designed on the down-stem, and integrating all those things in a piece that can still go in the dishwasher and freezer

It’s easy to talk about a bong in the abstract. When the Hexagon becomes reality, will you send us one so we can see how it all panned out?

SIMON: Absolutely!


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.

Here’s How Canada Could Decriminalize Marijuana Right Now

Why don’t you just decriminalize it already? As Canada preps for the July 2018 legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis, that’s the message the federal government has been getting from the opposing New Democratic Party as well as cannabis advocates across the country.

The longstanding call for decriminalization may soon land upon more sympathetic ears. The government is shuffling out physician Jane Philpott from her position of Minister of Health (a role she held since the Liberal federal election in 2015), and replacing her with Ginette Petitpas Taylor, a member of the party’s caucus who was also first elected in 2015.

If the new Health Minister wanted to immediately decriminalize cannabis, it would very much be in her power to order so.

Before becoming a politician, Petitpas Taylor was a coordinator of the Victim Services Program at a small-town New Brunswick RCMP detachment, but it appears she has little experience in the fields of health or cannabis. After the announcement of her appointment, Petitpas Taylor was asked about her beliefs on marijuana legalization by CBC News. In response, she said she still needed to be briefed on the matter. (She also admitted having smoked cannabis a few times in college, “and that was it.”)

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We have no indication that Petitpas Taylor will go against Justin Trudeau’s negative comments on immediate decriminalization, which he says would  embolden the black market. In addition, the bureaucrats that worked at Health Canada in the past will almost certainly remain there, and they actually wield more control of the process than one might think.

Still, it’s fun to at least ponder the federal government decriminalizing personal use of marijuana, and how such a scenario would play out.

If the new Health Minister wanted to immediately decriminalize cannabis, it would very much be in her power to order so. Section 60 of Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances allows the Health Minister, through the governor in council, to order the addition or removal of drugs from the Act’s drug schedules as they see fit.

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This mechanism sprang into action in 2015, when the health minister of the ruling Conservative party added salvia, a highly psychoactive but short-lasting mint, as a substance to the drug schedules. The Health Minister could theoretically issue such an order for a schedule change for cannabis, making its simple possession decriminalized effective immediate.

One complication of “decriminalization” is that the term has a variety of meanings. Recently, news outlets across the world reported that Oregon was “decriminalizing” small amounts of hard drugs such as heroin. In reality, the state changed some drug-related penalties from felonies to misdemeanors. (Still a good move, no doubt.)

Under decriminalization, current illicit dispensaries would still feel the long hand of the law, since trafficking offences would remain.

This most common form of “decriminalization” can be found sprouting up in states across the USA, with some states implementing civil fines for possession of small amounts of cannabis, replacing the criminal charges that stood before. Some jurisdictions have done away with any punishments, and other states like Colorado, Washington, California, and Oregon have gone past decriminalization and actually legalized a vibrant recreational marijuana sales market.

Still, most Canadian advocates adhere to the notion of decriminalization found in a 2016 motion by NDP Member of Parliament Murray Rankin, which sought to decriminalize only the possession of small amounts of cannabis, as opposed to altering the current criminal sanctions around cultivating cannabis.

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For Canadian decriminalization, a personal limit of 30 grams seems about the right place to peg it. That’s the limit proposed in Canada’s upcoming legalization bill for public possession, and that figure has long been a part of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as a limit that restricts the maximum punishment available to prosecutors (possession of over 30 grams is treated more harshly).

What would immediate decriminalization look like for Canadians and the grey-market dispensaries that are currently sprouting up across Canada?

If Canada adopted decriminalization, it’s possible that anyone found in possession of a small amount of cannabis would get off scot-free (or at most get slapped with a ticket). It’s likely that that the offences of trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking would remain, no matter how little cannabis is found on a person. That means that any indicators of trafficking such as scales or baggies would still land the individual with a charge even if they possessed a small amount.

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Under decriminalization, current illicit dispensaries would still feel the long hand of the law, since trafficking offences would remain. The raids being conducted now on dispensaries would continue.

Even the federal Cannabis Act—which will legalize recreational adult-use cannabis in mid-2018—will continue to outlaw the possession or distribution of “illicit cannabis,” defined as marijuana that was neither grown legally by an individual nor sold through a provincially-authorized retailer.

Is decriminalization going to happen in Canada? It’s becoming a popular approach, and to the new Health Minister, we only have two words: Your move.


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.

‘Dear Justin’: A Loving Correspondence with the Prime Minister, Episode 2

Dear Justin,

What a summer! Parliament hasn’t been in session since June 21 and yet we’ve both been so busy. Me lying awake at night, reflecting the horrifying news cycle, and you attending summits in Europe, basking in the glow of your Rolling Stone cover, and meeting with narcissistic (probably Nazi) morons with nuclear codes. Good times!

Are you looking forward to officially getting back to work this fall? You have so much to do this session. From what I’ve seen in the news lately, revamping the country’s impaired driving laws will be among the first things on your to-do list. You and our Minister of Justice will have your hands full making good on the promise to “strengthen existing drug-impaired driving laws and create a regime that would be amongst the strongest in the world, particularly where cannabis is legal.”

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While we’re on this topic, I must admit I feel very conflicted about it. Of course, reckless, impaired, distracted, and rage-fueled driving that needlessly puts others in harm’s way makes my blood boil. But I’m worried about what appear to be uninformed marijuana impairment limits, and the ineffective tools that will be used to detect impairment.

Impaired driving makes my blood boil. But I’m worried about the ineffective tools that will be used to detect impairment.

What’s more, I’m baffled by the glaring absence of any laws addressing the growing number of drivers hitting the road on opioids or simply on their phone. After all, eight out of ten collisions are the result of distracted driving. Should this not also hold a place within the new regime?

I see your dilemma. There is a lot of cognitive dissonance in the world and public opinion doesn’t always align with that same public’s actions. Every politician, no matter how handsome, will at some point, patronize the public’s fears with laws and penalties regardless of their reason, efficacy, or even fairness. And now we are doing this dance on the issue of impaired driving, n’est-ce pas?

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I’m on your side, Justin. I really am. I’ve seen firsthand how an impaired driver can decimate a person’s future. But if the new regime is to be effective, it must use tools grounded in good science and be practiced fairly. As of this writing, it does neither.

The roadside testing methods proposed to catch and deter stoned drivers look good in theory and on paper. But in (evidence-based) practice, they are conceptually promising at best. While saliva tests remain in the testing phase, blood tests—which determine if a driver’s body contains the 2 nanograms to 5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood required for them to be labelled impaired—are questioned by experts who know two important things:

  • THC can remain in the blood above the legal (though flawed) limit for sometimes weeks after cannabis use, long after any and all impairment has waned, particularly in frequent users
  • This information makes blood testing for THC a flawed and unscientific approach to testing.

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That leaves Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), specially trained officers who conduct roadside tests to determine if there are probable grounds to conduct further testing (i.e. blood tests). There are only about 578 DREs in Canada—not nearly enough to go around even if the blood-test problem were solved. Is that why you intend to give these and other officers new authority to administer mandatory alcohol impairment testing on drivers without cause?

Be honest, somebody is Trojan Horse-ing here, right? While the media and public are focused on high drivers and lowering of the legal alcohol limit (which I’m all for, by the way), a critical change to roadside alcohol testing is tiptoeing in undercover.

As your Government of Canada website explains, the proposed mandatory alcohol screening provisions would “authorize law enforcement officers who have an ‘approved screening device’ at hand to demand breath samples of any driver they lawfully stop, without first requiring that they have a suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.” And as I exclaim at my kitchen table, “What the hell, man? Are you serious?”

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Permit me to play this out for you, real-world style. This change could mean that if a cop stops a sober person for a broken taillight and doesn’t like their attitude, gender, or colour of skin, that officer can detain them without cause and administer a breathalyzer.

“Well, if they’re sober then what’s the big deal?” I hear the masses crying.

First of all, thank you, white people, for sharing your opinion. Second—and this is important—the proposed changes also indicate that the Crown will no longer be required to submit to defense lawyers any information about the maintenance of a breathalyzer device. This is worrying, because machines known to be in need of service could be used in tandem with an officer’s authority to test without reasonable suspicion to target certain people.

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Now, I’m not a paranoid person, but you can’t seriously be asking me to put blind faith in law enforcement or politicians who can take a look at what’s inside my body without having any reason at all.

What I’m saying is what you should be thinking, Mr. Prime Minister: These changes have the potential to be profoundly abused in the same the way roadside THC tests could be abused. What happens when mandatory testing is inevitably expanded to include testing drivers for marijuana, a drug we already know can stay in users’ systems for weeks after high times are over? What happens when those users’ are deemed “impaired” and punished?

I can’t say it any better than the CMHA’s Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Report: “Because the technology to detect an individual’s level of impairment due to cannabis is still in development at this time, CMHA Ontario recommends a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis consumption in any motorized vehicle in order to ensure road safety during this time of transition.” CMHA, an organization concerned with public health and reality-based prevention in the same way I wish our government would, refreshingly acknowledges that reliable and fair tests just aren’t there yet.

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The Minister of Justice’s priorities aren’t wrong, Justin. They’re just improperly calibrated. No one wants impaired drivers on the road but you need to find solutions like say, scientifically validated roadside computer simulations, that aren’t lacking in efficacy at the time they become law. Our laws can be the toughest in the world but if they aren’t accurate and fair, and if they don’t acknowledge the real and growing danger of distracted driving, we’re just missing the point.

Now rest up. You’ve got a big a year ahead you.

Until next time,


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.