Tag Archives: legalization

Canada just became the 2nd country in the world to legalize marijuana

Canada marijuana

Jeremy Berke  25 m

  • Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana nationwide. Legal sales are set to begin October 17.
  • The bill passed Canada’s Senate 52-29 on Tuesday evening.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during his 2015 campaign to legalize marijuana.
  • Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

Canada is the second country in the world to legalize marijuana, paving the way for recreational sales throughout the country.

Canada’s Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday evening approved the revised bill 52-29, making Canada the first G7 country to legalize marijuana. Uruguay did so in 2013.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that legalization would officially take effect on October 17, citing provincial requests for more time to develop retail infrastructure.

“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau said in a tweet on Tuesday evening. “Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”

What the bill does

Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, legalizes marijuana but leaves it up to each province to decide how to sell it. Some provinces, like Ontario, are planning on provincially run outlets, while others, like Alberta, will open up marijuana retail to the private sector.

The federal government set a minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana, though some provinces have indicated they will raise the age to 19, mirroring liquor-purchase laws. The bill makes the distribution and sale of marijuana to minors an offense.

marijuanaIt’s Canada’s moment. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Recreational sales are expected to begin in eight to 12 weeks, according to Reuters.

The bill was part of a promise that Trudeau’s Liberal Party made during the 2015 campaign to keep marijuana out of young people’s hands and move the illicit market into a regulated framework.

“I’m feeling just great,” Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in Canada’s Senate, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada. The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government.”

Activists applauded the move

Cannabis activists cheered the move on Wednesday morning.

“Canada should be applauded for taking bold and decisive steps towards ending the failed prohibition of marijuana,” Hannah Hetzer, the senior international policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “Canada’s progress will galvanize support for drug policy reforms in the US and all around the world.”

Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, echoed Hetzer’s sentiment.

“We applaud Canada for showing federal legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” Altieri said in a statement.

Marijuana stocks are surging

Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

The Canadian Marijuana Index, an aggregate measurement of all publicly listed marijuana stocks in Canada, was up 3.3% as of 10:45 a.m. The overall North American index, which includes US stocks, was up 2.3%.

Golden Leaf Holdings, a cannabis company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, was the biggest gainer, with the stock surging 6.8%.

Legalized marijuana is expected to be a boon for Canada’s economy. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, one of the country’s largest banks, predicts that Canada’s legal marijuana market will be a $6.5 billion industry by 2020.

Several Canadian marijuana firms, including Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth Corporation, are seeing a wave of investor excitement around marijuana legalization. Marijuana companies have been capitalizing on that liquidity to go on acquisition sprees.

Read more cannabis industry coverage:

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“…Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t.”

Image may contain: text

Kevin James

Yesterday at 10:59am ·

I want to thank the non informed for the Cannabis Act… you’re insistence that legal is best is the gift earned.

I spoke for years about repeal vs legal…

— now I’m done & another wayseer abandons the masses due to tiredness

Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t. Most people “say” they want their freedoms restored, even as they deliberately stab themselves–and everyone else–in the back by begging for more statutory enslavement, and REFUSING to end the problem, somehow “believing” that not ending the problem, and always making it worse, is somehow going to end the problem.

So let’s look at the BULLSHIT NON-OPTIONS that people “believe” means they get their freedoms back, as opposed to the REPEAL of the statutes, which actually WOULD end the persecution once and for all:

1) “Decriminalization” is NOT repeal. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

2) “Legalization” is what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

3) “Re-legalization” is two letters prepended to what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

4) “Tax and regulate” will create more statutes, more regulations, more licenses, more fees, and create more problems and more “criminal charges.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

5) “Regulate like _____” is just a different way to say “tax and regulate.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

6) “Hemp ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

7) “Medical ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

8.) “Government control ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

9) “Corporate control ONLY!” is financial in nature, and is ENTIRELY motivated by profiteering. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

10) “Government/corporate partnership control ONLY!” is actually OVERT FASCISM. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

There are several other “NOT REPEAL” options that people keep sucking up as “the ONLY solution”, even as they continue to “say” they want their freedom restored.

How can you ever hope to restore your own freedoms while you REFUSE to remove the statutes that took them away, and keep pushing for MORE STATUTES to further control your life in more intrusive ways?

How long are you going to keep paying for more of *your* own enslavement?

Are people EVER going to just wake up and see the truth that’s been staring them in the face for DECADES already?!?

CONTINUE READING…

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“Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations.” HOW THE UNITED NATIONS IS STEALING OUR “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS” TO GROW FOOD AND MEDICINE THROUGH THE U.N. CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS AND AGENDA 21.  LINK

https://www.facebook.com/iammkjm/posts/10214522031938895

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For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge

Alain Miville de Chêne Entrepreneur, investor, student and lover of life.

During the last 125 years, governments all over the world have repeatedly appointed commissions to analyze the use of marijuana and provide recommendations. All major inquiries, among them the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report (1894), the Laguardia Committee (1939), and the Le Dain Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (1972), have come to essentially the same conclusion: as with any human activity, overuse is not good for you, but since pot is mostly used moderately, and the harmful consequences are rather minor, it is not worth making a big fuss. They especially agree that using the criminal justice system to limit its use is both futile and harmful to society.

For a very long time we have known all we need to know about marijuana, but we have strangely and stubbornly refused to act on that knowledge. Something is imprisoning our mind. Why do we persist in resisting reason?

A poster for Ray Test’s 1942 drama “Devil’s Harvest.”

Morality laws

Morality laws try to limit or eradicate permanent features of all societies: sex (adultery), sex (homosexuality), sex (sodomy), sex (prostitution), sex (pornography), sex (you get the idea!), gambling, and mind-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana and more.) Journalist H. L. Mencken summed it up nicely when he wrote: “Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

Moralists latch on to some behaviour they fear or loathe, then hijack the criminal code in an attempt to magically will it out of existence, all the while blinded to the inefficacy of their solution and to the harms generated. When the behaviour doesn’t go away, because it has existed forever and there is no reason it should disappear now, the simplistic response is to squeeze harder.

Deep down, moralists know that their position is contrived. Therefore, to remain impervious to facts, they shun impartial studies. Instead of being guided by reason, they use it to justify their fixed beliefs and emotions. Their preferred method of communication is creating fear through propaganda.

Corbis via Getty Images “Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell” movie poster.

Harms in perspective

Since the 1920s we have been programmed to fear schizophrenia, car accidents, dropping out of school, cancer, gateway to other drugs and immorality in general. I took the time to survey the main purported harms, and it is always the same story: weak or non-existent consequences which are insignificant in proportion to other common life problems. For example, tobacco killed around 39,000 in 2002, alcohol killed around 4,200 in 2002, and more than 2,450 died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Nobody died from marijuana.

The real and grave harm comes not from the product itself but from passing through the criminal justice system. In 2013, Canada registered its millionth arrest for marijuana possession. What good did that do? Why all the suffering? A criminal record or even an arrest record can bar a person from many types of jobs and easily deny their entry into the United States, even 24 years later.

The prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. lasted from 1920 to 1933. It took the U.S. 13 years to learn the lesson that it doesn’t work. Our society still hasn’t learned this one after almost a century.

Legislating in the land of fools

The underlying hypothesis behind all this is that laws will make people behave as desired.

Countless articles discuss if pot should be sold to 18 or 21 year olds in order to protect youngsters. Currently, pot is not authorized at any age, yet anyone who wants it can get as much of it as they want. Why on earth would a number on a new statute book change this stubborn fact? Of course, it makes sense to limit sales in shops to persons of a certain age, but there’s no reason to expect setting an age limit in the law will “protect the young.”

Try to entertain the possibility that you might be enthralled by propaganda.

The spectre of high-strength marijuana is regularly brandished: today’s pot is not what was available in the sixties. It is way more dangerous, therefore its THC content should be legislated. Why do we forget that the high strength stuff has been available for centuries? It is called hashish. It was available in the sixties, and it still is.

By all means, let us establish lawful limits on all the parameters we want (age, THC concentration, number of plants grown at home, etc.) in order to make life easier for a lot of people, but we should stop thinking that everyone will from then on follow the new rules. They won’t.

Look at how it works with opioids. No laws were changed recently, yet the consumption of illegal opioids is rising and deaths from fentanyl are at an all time high. People will take or abandon drugs for reasons other than the laws on the books.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

“…the riskiest pot is coming from the black market—which could be an argument for expanding legalization”

Marijuana: Why Dangerously Potent Pot Is Making People Lose Their Minds and Memories

Homegrown2017

By Jessica Firger On 10/19/17 at 4:44 PM

High-potency pot is causing psychiatric issues, including addiction and memory problems. New strains of the recreational drug have higher levels of the active chemical and not enough of another compound that keeps the drug safe. And as a new study this week documents, the riskiest pot is coming from the black market—which could be an argument for expanding legalization. 

The new report, published this week by Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K., tested 50 samples of cannabis in the city of Manchester. The study was conducted by Volteface, a London-based policy think tank seeking reform for marijuana laws to improve safety of the drug by making it legal, and thus limiting demand on the local black market. All of the samples had high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of the drug that produces the “high,” and inconsequential amounts of cannabidiols (CBDs), the protective compound of the drug that prevents marijuana from becoming unsafe.

Pot that is high in THC carries a greater risk of psychiatric problems, including psychosis, addiction and memory impairment. One study, for example, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry evaluated cannabis use in 280 people and compared them to a control group of 174 non-cannabis users. The study found that people who experienced their first psychotic episode were more likely to have used a higher THC potency form of the drug.

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Amir Englund, an expert in cannabinoid psychopharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, tells Newsweek that the low levels of CBDs exacerbate the issues caused by high levels of THC. Additionally, frequent users often become tolerant to cannabis and slowly need a stronger product to get as high as they used to, he says.

“Because both THC and CBD are made from the same material in the plant, more of one means less of the other,” he says. Some recent research, he says, has shown that people using strains of marijuana that are also high in CBD—not just THC—are less likely to have mental health problems than those who opt for strains that have low CBD but high THC content. Some experiments he’s conducted show that CBD can counter the negative effects of high doses of THC in healthy volunteers.

Growers, he says, are cross-breeding plants to favor THC production over CBD. But the decision isn’t influenced only by the market’s demand. In many instances, it’s determined by the grower’s bottom line. “Some of the reasons why these varieties are more popular include the fact that they are more cost-effective to produce (more total drug-yield per plant) and more popular among frequent users,” says Englund.

A number of other factors also affect the potency of pot. According to Leafly, there will always be some variation when multiple growers cultivate the same strain because environment, growing technique and genetics all impact the composition of the plants.

A report published in 2015 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found the problem isn’t only with illegal sales. Labeling on regulated cannabis is often misleading, and the strain purchased could have higher or lower levels of potency than the label leads a consumer to believe.

“High THC, low CBD cannabis dominates the UK’s illicit market as it has a rapid growth period up to maturity and can be grown indoors,” the researchers write. “This enables those selling cannabis to make the greatest profit and presents the lowest risk. While popularity of this product is undoubtedly high, this may well be due to the fact that no other product is easily available and consumers have neither the access to nor the experience of any alternative.”

In other words, pot purchasers should look beyond the name—as nice as Black Beauty and Northern Lights may sound—and find out more about what they’re smoking. 

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

Marijuana activists cuffed after lighting up at U.S. Capitol

Protesters smoke marijuana on steps of the U.S. Capitol to tell Congress to ‘De-schedule Cannabis Now’, in Washington, U.S. April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By Ian Simpson | WASHINGTON

Two dozen red-hatted protesters gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to call for easing federal marijuana laws, but police snuffed out the party by arresting four of them after they lit up joints.

The activists, who carried marijuana-leaf flags and a sign saying “Let DC Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” were calling for coast-to-coast legalization of the recreational use of marijuana and protections for those who use cannabis for medical reasons.

The protest included the recitation of Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Rastafarian prayers on the lawn outside the domed national landmark.

But police swooped in and arrested the foursome as soon as they lit up in front of a crowd of media and sent smoke wafting across the grounds.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law and is banned from federal property like the Capitol, while more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot for medical or recreational use.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed

U.S. voters back legalization by a margin of 60 percent to 34

percent, the highest level of support for legalized pot ever

recorded by the survey.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has said that it might ramp up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana use, setting up potential conflicts in states where the drug is legal.

Adam Eidinger, a protest organizer who recited a Jewish prayer before being arrested, told reporters that the sacramental use of marijuana on federal land deserves protection under the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

“Meaningful marijuana legislation is something that a majority of Americans are demanding,” he said. Capitol Police had no immediate comment on the arrests.

The protest was aimed at urging the Republican-controlled Congress to make cannabis legal and to lift a ban on the District of Columbia’s regulation of marijuana. The Constitution gives Congress oversight power over the district.

Activists also want lawmakers to keep intact a budget provision that bars the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with states implementing medical marijuana laws.

Last week, police arrested several activists, including Eidinger, who were distributing joints near the Capitol to generate support for reforms.

(This version of the story has been refiled to corrects spelling in headline to “Capitol” instead of “Capital”)

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

CONTINUE READING…

Ahead of marijuana legalization, activists call on feds to forgive past pot offences

Travis Lupick on April 12th, 2017 at 11:23 AM

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The federal Liberal government is expected to table legislation to legalize recreational marijuana on Thursday (April 13), exactly one week ahead of the world’s annual 4/20 celebration of all things cannabis.

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The proposed law will be debated in Parliament. Then it’s likely that each province and territory will require some time to work out regulatory details.

In the meantime, long-time advocates for marijuana reform want to know if Ottawa has any plans to provide relief on past offences.

Just last month, Canada’s most prominent marijuana advocates, Jodie Emery and her husband, Marc, were charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of the proceeds of crime.

In a telephone interview, Jodie said that once the new laws come into effect, she wants the federal government to look at expunging records of crimes that are no longer crimes.

“We should have amnesty, pardons, and an official apology from the government,” she told the Straight.

Other advocates have made similar calls.

“A great way for Justin Trudeau to show leadership on cannabis would be to announce amnesty for simple possession when tabling new law,” Victoria lawyer Kirk Tousaw posted in an April 11 message on Twitter.

At the same time, Jodie painted a bleak picture of how she predicts the Liberals’ regulatory framework for marijuana will work.

“We know the government will not apologize for prohibition because we know they intend to maintain it,” she said. “The form of legalization that they are going to put forward is really just an economic opportunity for a select few people while everybody else continues to be arrested….Growers and dispensaries will continue to be criminalized and they will introduce even tougher penalties for people operating outside the legal system.”

The Straight asked Justin Trudeau about amnesty at a campaign stop in Vancouver in August 2015.

“That’s something that we’ll be looking into as we move forward,” he said. “There has been many situations over history when laws come in that overturn previous convictions, and there will be a process for that that we will set up in a responsible way.”

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Toronto dispensaries once owned by the Prince of Pot will all shut down this weekend

A former Cannabis Culture location, renamed the Village Dispensary, on Church Street will close its doors this weekend.

 

After police raids, former owner Jodie Emery says government is clearing way for legal producers

CBC News Posted: Apr 07, 2017 11:20 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 08, 2017 10:20 AM ET

The last of the former Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Toronto, once synonymous with Marc and Jodie Emery, will close this weekend after becoming a frequent target of police raids — a consequence the marijuana activists blame on the government’s support of licensed producers. 

The dispensaries were making pot available in contravention of the law, until recreational marijuana is actually legalized by the government, a process expected to happen in July 2018.

But former owner Jodie Emery said she believes dispensaries in Toronto have been raided more frequently in the past year because the federal Liberals want to keep the recreational weed market clear for the licensed producers already selling medical marijuana. 

“We’re seeing a government and corporate push to exclude the pioneers, to literally put us in handcuffs and throw us into cages while they move in to open up their own shops to sell their own pot.”

Mtl Pot Dispensaries 20161215

Jodie Emery, right, said the raids on recreational dispensaries have punished the activists who have fought for legalization. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The pioneers of pot

The Emerys divested themselves of their Cannabis Culture shops in Toronto on March 10, as part of their $30,000 bail conditions on possession and drug trafficking charges. 

Jodie Emery said the couple decided to open the storefronts to fund their activism — and because she believed the franchise model would be successful once Ottawa legalized pot. 

“We wanted to have our spot in this industry, because we’ve earned it and we deserve it …after 10 years of being broke and suffering through prison and court,” she said.

Jamie McConnell, Cannabis Culture general manager

Jamie McConnell, the owner at the Village Dispensary, said he’ll keep doing this somewhere else. (CBC)

The 461 Church St. location was reborn as the Village Cannabis Dispensary after the Emerys sold it to Jamie McConnell, the store’s former manager.

McConnell said his landlord will no longer rent to the dispensary, something he said has happened because of pressure from the police raids and the city.

“I was planning on being here forever, my goal was jail or the landlord locking me out. It looks like the landlord locked me out.”

He said he believes it’s better to have marijuana “activists and users” sell the products than licensed producers, because they know first-hand what makes a quality product.

“I don’t know what the government’s going to do as far as legalization, but I’m not going to stop.”

Legal producers also took risks: lawyer

But Andrea Hill, a corporate and securities lawyer with the firm SkyLaw who represents several regulated marijuana firms, said the dispensaries have been shut down because what they’re doing is illegal. It has nothing to do with the regulated medical marijuana industry.

And those licensed producers have been pioneers in the industry as well, she said. 

“They’ve put themselves on the line just as much as anyone else,” the lawyer said. “If a business is operating outside of the law and it can’t make it and it has to shut down I think that means that the law wins — and that people who play by the rules win, at the end of the day. I think that’s a good thing.

CANADA MARIJUANA/REGULATIONS

The Liberal government is expected to make recreational pot legal by July 1, 2018. (Julie Gordon/Reuters)

Corrections
  • An earlier version of this story indicated that recreational marijuana is expected to be legalized by the federal government this July. In fact, it is expected in July 2018.

    Apr 08, 2017 8:23 AM ET

CONTINUE READING…

Spannabis 2017: Lessons On Spain’s And Barcelona’s Marijuana Industry

By Hilary Bricken

Mar 20, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Spain flag cannabis

From March 10th through 12th, I was in Barcelona attending Spannabis. My firm’s Barcelona lawyers constantly get inquiries from serious international businesspeople wanting to start a cannabis social club or some other sort of cannabis business in Spain. And with more than 200 medical marijuana social clubs in Barcelona alone, I wanted to go there to meet with key industry players to learn more about what is going on with marijuana in Catalonia’s capital city and in the rest of Spain.

Barcelona and medical marijuana felt to me like some combination of California, Oregon, and Washington seven years ago. Namely, it feels like an unregulated, quasi-commercial gray market chock-full of “collective” non-profits and rotating patient members, unclear laws, and inconsistent enforcement of those laws. For a breakdown on the current medical marijuana laws in Spain and in Barcelona, go here. This unclear and pioneer atmosphere was also in full force at Spannabis, which was in many respects just like pretty much every other marijuana trade show/expo I’ve attended in the United States: light on serious education about marijuana laws and regulations and heavy on promoting marijuana consumption and on seeking to preserve the counter-culture. But with cannabis cups and consuming events dwindling in the U.S. from increasing state marijuana regulations, I would be remiss if I did not mention how the Spannabis fairgrounds managed to maintain a steady cloud of overhanging marijuana smoke from its more than 3,000 attendees who openly and consistently consumed despite the presence of law enforcement.

Spannabis had only a single panel on the legality and rules surrounding Barcelona’s (mostly medical) marijuana social clubs and the panelist gave little detail or explanation about the law that enables cannabis clubs to operate. That panel was made up of one criminal defense attorney telling attendees about the national and local government’s conflicting policy positions on health and law enforcement and the rights of individuals to consume cannabis for medical use. Needless to say, since our cannabis lawyers represent the business side, I didn’t find this panel very helpful. More importantly, this panel served as just another indication that Barcelona and Spain as a whole have just not yet really “arrived” yet as destinations for those seeking to form and operate a cannabis business fully compliant with local (in this case Barcelona), provincial (Catalonia), and federal (Spain) laws.

But as many in the industry there were quick and emphatic about telling me, the cannabis scene in Barcelona and in Spain is slowly maturing and slowly getting “more legal.” As we wrote just last week, the regional Parliament of Catalonia has proposed reforms in line with a 2014 initiative advocated by Regulacion Responsible in advance of the 2014 Spain national elections. The initiative’s aim was to create a framework for the national reform of cannabis laws to permit regions like Catalonia and cities like Barcelona to set their own cannabis policies. Though the 2016 legislative initiative stalled, it has recently reemerged and anticipation is building for a revised version of this bill that would mean increased regulation for legalized marijuana businesses on a regional basis. Given the inconsistent enforcement of current laws (within both Catalonia and Spain) and the lack of meaningful or comprehensive business regulations, such reforms cannot come soon enough to better protect and give more structure to those cultivating and distributing marijuana for and to patients. Patients would also benefit from such regulation as it would increase both transparency around the sourcing of cannabis products and cannabis quality assurance standards.

Even though marijuana social clubs in Spain exist in a risk-laden gray area, it’s clear that manufacturing and distributing CBD is a popular and, more importantly, legal practice in Spain and Barcelona (in contrast to the United States). Indeed, the majority of booths on the exhibitor floor at Spannabis focused on hemp seeds (there was even a company there from Humboldt County) and CBD-based products. Manufacturing and distributing cannabis paraphernalia or equipment used for consuming, cultivating, or handling are also legal and ancillary companies are alive and well in Barcelona, just like in most of the U.S. This is why foreign investors looking at Spain are mostly focusing on financing, starting, managing, or assisting ancillary companies and not so much on marijuana social clubs, all of which are non-profit because of existing laws prohibiting commercial “trafficking.” The Arcview Group (well-known for angel investments in ancillary marijuana businesses) held an investor meeting in Barcelona for the first time last week.

Barcelona’s medical marijuana marketplace remains immature and risky (these were the words used by many of those with whom I spoke while I was in Spain), but it no doubt has tremendous potential. Once local governments in Spain are given the freedom (and they might soon) to take the reins on cannabis regulation and to create a better business atmosphere for cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors, Barcelona will no doubt quickly become a major marijuana city in terms of popularity, investment, and access.


Hilary Bricken bio photoHilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken, PLLC in Seattle, and she chairs the firm’s Canna Law Group. Her practice consists of representing marijuana businesses of all sizes in multiple states on matters relating to licensing, corporate formation and contracts, commercial litigation, and intellectual property. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry in 2014, Hilary is also lead editor of the Canna Law Blog. You can reach her by email at hilary@harrisbricken.com.

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Prince and princess of pot are expanding their dispensary empire, whether it’s legal or not

Cannibas Culture

 

Sunny Freeman | February 3, 2017

Jodie Emery struts through the hazy hallway of Cannabis Culture’s flagship Toronto store, through a 15-person deep checkout line, and then past the extracts, pre-rolled joints and display jars of bud into the lounge area where a group of pot enthusiasts is sparking up.

It is just after noon on a Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Cannabis Culture owner makes several attempts to call her husband, Marc, a famous marijuana legalization advocate, to wake him up. The Prince of Pot likes to sleep in, she explains, because he works past midnight, which is closing time at his shop in Toronto’s gay village downtown.

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Marc emerges half an hour later. He joins employees behind the counter to recommend strains and weigh portions for the rapidly growing lunchtime rush. Marc is focused on the Toronto flagship locale he owns, while Jodie oversees the franchising and most other aspects of the business. 

“This is what legalization looks like,” Marc said. “That’s exactly what we want to present to the government: You can go and do your rules and your thing and we’re going to do our thing.”

Many in the scene consider the Emerys weed royalty and the couple’s hard-fought decades-long dream of legalization may be on the cusp of fruition. But even as the government pursues legislation to set up a legal recreational market, the question of whether dispensaries such as theirs will be allowed to operate above ground hangs in the air.

Depending on the specific wording of the legislation, Canada’s prince and princess of pot could very well be excluded from the opportunity to earn a legal living in a recreational marijuana market that is expected to be worth as much as $22.6 billion annually.

In the meantime, a plethora of ganjapreneurs are looking to gain a foothold in the coming pot economy through the only current legal path, by becoming a Health Canada licensed medical marijuana producer. Many more are simply opening dispensaries on the sly, hoping to fly under the radar as they count down to legalization.

The Emerys worry licensed producers will monopolize the commercial system, but even if they are shut out, it will not deter the defiant outsiders from their aggressive expansion plans. 

The couple is relatively new to the dispensary business, jumping in less than two years ago with their first store in Vancouver and deciding to expand last year at the request of interested investors.

“When the opportunity came up to start dispensing cannabis I thought why not? If everybody else is doing it why shouldn’t we after all we’ve done?” Jodie said.

It’s a decision that has paid off so far. The crowd at Cannabis Culture’s flagship dispensary was just an average weekday, and sales spike on weekends. This location, one of 18 franchises, can pull in between $30,000 and $40,000 a day.

One man calls out to Jodie to say he’s one of her 38,000 Twitter followers. Another guy thanks Marc for his years of sacrifice to the cause, which include a five-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison.

For a guy who sometimes gives pot away for free, Marc keeps a keen eye on performance metrics and knows the exact headcount of customers they had last Friday: 1,783.

“You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that’s a good cash-flow business,” he said.

It could be even better if dispensaries like his become legal.

A task force report on legalization has recommended the government allow storefront locations in addition to the current mail-order system and acknowledged a majority of people who participated in the consultation process prefer a distribution system that includes dispensaries.

Related

Yet it remains unclear whether new government legislation will allow a place for the 400 or so dispensaries already operating.

The shops, most of which maintain at least an ostensible medical purpose, argue that they fill a gap for consumers by providing in-person advice, fostering competition and keeping prices low.

Marc has set an ambitious goal of opening 200 locations by the end of 2017, whether they are legal or not.

“Those questions to me are irrelevant, we just do what we do. We’re going to keep doing it. As long as the law is wrong we will disobey,” Marc said. “After prison, I didn’t want to be relegated to irrelevancy so I had to take the lead in provoking the authorities by opening up retail shops.”

And provoke he does.

Marc was most recently arrested just before Christmas, when cops raided six Cannabis Culture locations in Montreal, the day after he made a splashy debut in the city by bestowing free “nugs,” or marijuana buds, on throngs of admirers. Similarly, the flagship Toronto location opened a day after raids shuttered dispensaries across the city last May.

How police handle dispensaries varies widely across in the country, no more so than in the country’s two biggest markets. Vancouver has opted for a licensing system while Toronto police continue to crack down and raid dispensaries, citing public safety concerns.

Emery wears his 289 arrests, eight raids and five years in prison as a badge of honour. After all, the raids attract media attention and that attracts even more customers.

“Raids are just part of doing business. They’re annoying and they certainly set you back, but ultimately the police are wrong and we’re right,” he said.

Raid-related expenses, including covering the costs of lawyers for any employees who get arrested, have been built into the cost of doing business.

Those questions to me are irrelevant, we just do what we do. We’re going to keep doing it. As long as the law is wrong we will disobey

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkMarc and Jodie Emery’s Cannabis Culture store on Church Street in Toronto. The couple, considered pot royalty, can’t keep up with the requests they have for franchise licences for their business model.

But the Emerys also have to think about the more mundane aspects of growing a franchise business, such as how much of a cut they should take. Jodie has been studying the Subway sandwich model and working with a franchise lawyer to help figure it out.

Cannabis Culture’s model asks for a $10,000 investment up front, plus a royalty of six per cent for the first six months, rising to seven per cent afterward. But she thinks they might be lowballing it. Subway, by contrast, asks for $15,000 upfront and a 12.5-per-cent royalty each month.

Cannabis Culture franchises can take in anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000 a day depending on their location, but about 60 per cent of that goes back into the stores, mostly toward buying new product, Jodie said.

Like all dispensaries, Cannabis Culture currently operates outside the law, so the Emerys have established their own guidelines: they don’t record customer information, do not require a doctor’s note and ask customers to show ID to prove they are over 19.

HST is tacked on to all prices and payroll taxes are collected, Marc said. He estimates they have turned over about half a million in taxes to the government.

The details of their supply chain are, somewhat understandably, sketchy. Jodie said much of the product comes from brokers who get it from those with medical growing licences. Many of the connections have stood for decades.

She equates the growers to farmers at a local market. They are proud of their product and would like to come forward, but prohibition forces them to stay in the dark.

Product quality is mostly assessed by a sight and smell test by store employees. But bigger locations such as the flagship store owned by Marc work with a lab to test strains for pesticides, mold and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in pot, and cannabidiol (CBD), the ingredient said to have therapeutic effects. The tests can cost about $150 each, prohibitively expensive for most small-time operators.

My feeling is if I am not allowed to sell marijuana after all the work I’ve done this far, then who does have that right?

Tyler Anderson/National Post

Tyler Anderson/National PostMarc Emery, owner of Cannabis Culture, speaks with customers at his store on Church Street in Toronto. Like all dispensaries, Cannabis Culture currently operates outside the law.

Despite some unusual costs factored into the underground business, interest in Cannabis Culture and the Emerys runs high among investors — a diverse group that includes fellow activists as well as deep-pocketed business-types — who don’t seem to be deterred by dispensaries’ questionable legal status.

“‘I’ve got hundreds of franchise request emails coming in from all across Canada and even the U.S.,” Jodie said. “People are begging and I can’t even get back to them.”

Cannabis Culture’s brash business style irks some other dispensary owners worried that the Emerys’ in-your-face promotion style could turn off Canadians who are on the fence about legalization and the role of dispensaries within the system.

But Jodie is dismissive of their critics: “They’re looking at Cannabis Culture with a bit of green in their eyes saying you guy are big corporate cannabis now.”

Meanwhile, the Emerys are also feeling squeezed from the publicly traded licensed producers that they believe are trying to monopolize marijuana and shut them out of a free market. The Emerys say the market is big enough for all types of players — especially theirs.

“We’ve paid our dues. My feeling is if I am not allowed to sell marijuana after all the work I’ve done this far, then who does have that right?” Marc said. “And I don’t believe anybody else has that right over me.”

Financial Post

sfreeman@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/sunnyfreeman

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North Americans Spent $53.3 Billion On Marijuana Last Year, Most Of It Illegally

The industry “just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels,” a new report says.

01/17/2017 06:20 pm ET

Ryan Grenoble Reporter, The Huffington Post

A new report estimates consumers spent $53.3 billion on cannabis in North America last year.

The first-of-its-kind analysis, compiled by ArcView Market Research, spans legal, medical and illegal marijuana markets across both the United States and Canada. At around $46 billion, the illegal market constituted 87 percent of marijuana sales in 2016 (a decrease from 90 percent in 2015), dwarfing both medical and legal sales.

The marijuana investment and research firm provided a 25-page executive summary of its fifth annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets to The Huffington Post Tuesday, ahead of the full report’s release in February.

Arcview projects the legal marijuana market will expand from its current $6.9 billion to $21.6 billion by 2021, as California, Massachusetts and Canada expand their cannabis sales, and medical sales begin in Florida. The $6.9 billion figure is itself a 34 percent increase in just one year from 2015.

Assuming the projections hold, the five-year growth rate for legal marijuana from 2016 to 2021 would fall just short of that seen by broadband internet providers from 2002 through 2007, which expanded at around 29 percent per year, from around $7 billion to north of $25 billion.

Unlike most of the billion-dollar industries that preceded it, marijuana is in a unique position, ArcView argues, because the market doesn’t need to be created from scratch ― it just needs to transition from illicit to legal channels.

“The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history,” Arcview Market Research CEO Troy Dayton explained in an emailed statement.

“In contrast to comparable markets with fast growth from zero to tens of billions in recent decades such as organic foods, home video, mobile, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesn’t need to create demand for a new product or innovation ― it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels.”

In states that have moved to tax and regulate the drug, the black market has decreased rapidly, the report found. Colorado’s black market, for instance, accounts for about one-third of all cannabis sales, with the majority having transitioned to legal marketplaces.

ArcView found the cashflow going to drug dealers and cartels has diminished accordingly, helped in part by the shrinking “illegality premium” for the product once demanded by the black market. 

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