Tag: legislation

Iceland Gets Cooler with Proposal to Legalize Cannabis

Cannabis legalization could be making its way to the beautiful country of Iceland, as a member of Parliament for Viðreisn, or The Reform Party, has proposed a bill for the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Pawel Bartozek, a Reform Party MP, has put forth a bill in Parliament that would establish a marketplace for recreational cannabis. The bill seeks to set up rules on production and sales, and decriminalize cannabis consumption.

According to the Bartozek’s personal website, he based his legalization bill on the handbook How to Regulate Cannabis: A Practical Guide, released by the UK advocate group Transform.

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If passed, Bartozek’s bill would legalize cannabis production, sales, and consumption by citizens 20 and older, while restricting cannabis packaging to plain gray containers and forbidding all cannabis advertising.

“I hope that the bill will be an icebreaker that spurs the debate and that it will ultimately lead to us ceasing the punishment of people for consuming this specific substance,” Pawel told the Iceland Review.

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On his website, Bartozek wrote that decriminalization would be progress, “but if the production and sale remains illegal, we miss the opportunity to control access, protect children and minors, and to tax consumption.”

So far, the bill has gained some support in the Parliament, as Sigrún Ingibjörg Gísladóttir, a fellow member of Viðreisn, and two members of the Pirate Party, Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson and Jón Þór Ólafsson.

This is a developing story, stay tuned.

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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.

Peru Could Legalize Medical Marijuana This Year

Peru has taken the first step towards legalizing cannabis by approving a bill that would allow the production and importation of medical marijuana.

The post Peru Could Legalize Medical Marijuana This Year appeared first on Leafly.


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.

Detroit Voters Will Have Say in Cannabis Regulations

Detroit voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the region’s cannabis industry in November, when newly proposed regulations appear on the local ballot. The changes, which would amend existing medical marijuana rules, include allowing dispensaries to open near liquor stores and expanding cultivation in the city’s industrial areas.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the amendments would:

  • Opt Detroit into the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and establish standards to regulate caregiver centers through the city’s Building, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department regarding issuance, renewal and revocation. It also removes the jurisdiction of Detroit’s Board of Zoning Appeal.
  • Amend the definition of a Drug-Free School Zone to correspond to federal and state law that requires dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, colleges and public libraries
  • Would allow dispensaries to open within 500 feet of another dispensary. They would also be allowed to open within 500 feet of exempt religious institutions where religious services are conducted regularly. The current ordinance requires facilities to be more than 1,000 feet from churches and other dispensaries.
  • Would allow dispensaries to open near liquor, beer/wine stores, child care centers, arcades and parks. The current ordinance does not allow them to be open near any of them.
  • Would allow dispensaries to stay open until 9 p.m. Currently, they’re required to close by 8 p.m.

Current zoning restrictions in Detroit have made it difficult for would-be dispensary operators to nail down an appropriate location. One of the proposed changes would help address that obstacle by amending rules in order to allow growers and “secure transporters” to open in the city’s M1-5 industrial districts.

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In Detroit, M1, or limited industrial districts are found along major and minor thoroughfares with older, usually vacant buildings. Generally speaking, this district is intended as a buffer between business and residential districts with more intensive industrial uses.

The cannabis advocacy group Citizens for Sensible Cannabis, which circulated petitions for the initiatives, filed a lawsuit last month against the Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and the City of Detroit Election Commission, after officials said a measure to change zoning regulations would not appear on the November ballot, according to the Free Press.

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Elections Director Daniel Baxter, however, confirmed to the Free Press on Friday that the two proposals will indeed go before local voters on Nov. 7.


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 Hampshire Decrim Kicks In On Saturday

Starting tomorrow, you will not face jail time for simple cannabis possession in any New England state, as New Hampshire becomes America’s 22nd state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession, as new law will officially take effect on September 16.

The new lower penalty was introduced during the last legislative session by Rep. Renny Cushing (D), who led a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the New Hampshire House. The bill passed the House with a vote of 318-36, while the Senate amended and approved it on May 11 with a vote of 17-6.

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The House would ultimately go on to pass the Senate version by a voice vote on June 1, and Gov. Sununu signed it on July 18.

Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it was refreshing to see Gov. Sununu get behind cannabis decriminalization.

“The governor and Legislature both deserve a lot of credit for moving the state forward with this commonsense reform,” Simon said. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.”

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HB 640 reduces the penalty for cannabis possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce from a criminal misdemeanor—punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000—to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense, with a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense.

‘Don’t learn your lesson?’ Well, a fourth offense within three years of the first offense could end up resulting in a charge of a class B misdemeanor—still though, no possibility of jail time.

“There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and Granite Staters are ready to see it treated that way. A very strong majority of state residents support ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

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Simon was optimistic that New Hampshire would continue to build on this momentum and eventually legalize the adult use of cannabis.

“New Hampshire lawmakers should continue to follow their constituents’ lead on this issue,” he said. “Every state in New England is either implementing or strongly considering legislation to regulate marijuana for adult use. It is time for the Legislature to develop a realistic marijuana prohibition exit strategy for New Hampshire.”


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.”


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.

California Lawmakers Pass Bill to Restrict Edibles

California lawmakers have backed legislation to prohibit the sale of marijuana edibles shaped like a person, animal, insect or fruit.

The bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday is an attempt to prevent cannabis-infused sweets from appealing to children.

Brown vetoed similar legislation earlier this week that sought to define standards for packaging that would not appeal to children. The governor says his administration is working on regulations to packaging and labeling marijuana edibles.

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California voters legalized marijuana for adult use last year and the state is preparing to begin sales at state-licensed stores next year.

Critics of AB350 say kids are attracted to sweets regardless of the shape.

The measure was written by Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield.


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.

‘Get the Criminal Elements Out of the Sale of Marijuana’: The Week in Cannabis Quotes

Plenty is happening all over the world—from brutal hurricanes and earthquakes to savage wildfires—but the cannabis conversation continues with a mix of setbacks, czar appointments, and Speedos. Here’s a roundup of quotes from the past week.

“One treatment option I have advocated for years would be placing nondealer, nonviolent drug abusers in a secured hospital-type setting under the constant care of health professionals. Once the person agrees to plead guilty to possession, he or she will be placed in an intensive treatment program until experts determine that they should be released under intense supervision. If this is accomplished, then the charges are dropped against that person. The charges are only filed to have an incentive for that person to enter the hospital-slash-prison, if you want to call it.”

– Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee May 18, 2016 (the quote is over a year old, but this week President Trump announced his appointment of Marino as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or “White House Drug Czar,” as it’s informally known)

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“If we eliminate this right of the states to basically legalize the medical use of marijuana and put it in the hands of those people who I have just described…[will these people be] honest businessmen who are going to be held accountable and held with transparent type of operations? No. They will be replaced by whom? They will be replaced by drug dealers. They will be replaced by the Mexican drug cartel. That’s who’s being helped if we eliminate this provision that has been part of the appropriations bill for the Department of Justice for the last three years.

Why are we thinking about transferring those billions of dollars now in this industry directly into the pockets of the drug cartels? That’s what the vote is. The vote is not ‘Oh, we’re gonna stop anybody from using marijuana, because marijuana is bad.’ That’s not the vote. That’s not the result of the vote. The result of the vote will be billions of dollars immediately transferred into the pockets of the drug cartel. That’s what will happen.”

– Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) addressing the House to keep the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment alive. On September 6, the House Rules Committee rejected the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

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“We will make it harder for young people to access marijuana than it is now because right now Canadian kids have easier access to marijuana than just about every developed country in the world, and secondly, we will get the criminal elements out of the sale of marijuana and the tremendous profits around that.”

– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talking to the Global Okanagan about how the Canadian government is on track to legalize adult-use cannabis by summer 2018. 

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“Some days, I wish I did.”

– New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a Democratic mayoral debate against his opponent, Sal Albanese. De Blasio was talking about how he doesn’t smoke cannabis but did “once or twice” while attending NYU.

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“It was midnight. I was trying to get a cab hime from Grosvenor Square to Notting Hill Gate and I was standing on the corner, laughing maniacally. No cab would stop for me. I had to walk all the way home to Notting Hill.”

Michael Caine recalling the time Richard Harris gave him some cannabis that made him laugh so hard he almost “had a hernia”

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“I use medicinal cannabis, which is really important for pain and healing. It’s a plant that has been maligned for so long, and has so many abilities to heal…I will do what I can to encourage it. It’s an important part of treatment, and it should be available. I use it for the pain and it’s also a medicinal thing to do – the research shows it’s really helpful.”

– Olivia Newton-John during an interview with News Corp, in which she shares how medical marijuana helped her while she battled breast cancer

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“Lots of people honking their horns, waving at me. It’s been mostly positive.”

– Jeffrey Shaver of Kitchener, Ontario. Shaver has been protesting outside the Kitchener courthouse while wearing a Speedo and holding signs that read “Return My Bong” and “Return My Marijuana.” He is a legal medical marijuana patient who was arrested five months ago on possession charges, and he wants his confiscated bong and cannabis back.


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.

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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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.

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.”


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