Expect longer border waits after marijuana legalization, CBSA report warns
The legalization of marijuana could lead to longer waits at Canada’s border crossings as officers deal with “cannabis tourists,” warns an intelligence report obtained by Global News.
The declassified Canada Border Services Agency document also said that illicit exports of marijuana “are expected to increase” after legalization, putting additional strain on officers.
“Unless exemptions are made for personal amounts of marijuana, cannabis legalization may increase workloads for officers and translate into longer border wait times, particularly at land borders,” it said.
Border delays will be particularly bad during summer months as visitors arrive for outdoor festivals, concerts and 4/20 cannabis events that occur every April 20, said the report by the CBSA’s Intelligence Operations and Analysis Division.
A declassified version of the Intelligence Briefing, titled “Cannabis Legalization: Implications for the CBSA and Canada,” was disclosed to Global News under the Access to Information Act.
Global News has previously reported that experts were concerned about the impact of legalization on the border. But the report confirms the government’s own border agency has the same worries.
The seven-page document shows the CBSA is trying to anticipate the fallout of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pot legalization plan, expected to come into effect later this year.
“Legalization of cannabis products will likely not lead to significant decreases in enforcement actions at the border as exports are expected to increase and travelers are likely to continue to cross the border with personal quantities,” it said.
The report said the main issues border officers will face are “cannabis tourists” arriving to use marijuana, impaired drivers and travelers carrying small amounts — unaware that taking marijuana across the border will still be illegal.
While the government has said legalization would hurt organized crime groups, the report said a black market will continue to exist for marijuana products that exceed the cultivation and potency limits set by the law, and crime groups will likely step in to fill the gaps.
The CBSA also said that as start-up companies begin large-scale production, the supply of marijuana products would outpace demand — a scenario crime groups could exploit by exporting the surplus.
Should crime groups find their profits undermined, they will simply shift to smuggling other types of drugs such as opiates, according to the report. Demand for hashish is also likely to outstrip domestic production, meaning illicit imports from the United States will continue.
The CBSA said it would have to update its agreements with partner agencies on import and export issues, and train officers. “Officers will require additional training to detect and determine intoxication levels due to suspected consumption of marijuana.”
By Stewart Bell and Patrick Cain Global News
TORONTO — Sun Life Financial Inc. is adding medical marijuana coverage as an option for its group benefits plans, signalling an insurance industry shift and growing acceptance of the drug that bodes well for Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector.
The Toronto-based insurer’s president and chief executive Dean Connor said the move was influenced by rising interest from Sun Life’s employer clients.
“Medical marijuana has become a very important part of their treatment program and pain management program,” said Connor, referring to patients who have cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or those requiring palliative care.
Currently, the vast majority of registered patients must pay for medical marijuana out of their own pockets. But the move by Sun Life, which provides health benefits coverage to more than three million Canadians and their families, or one-in-six Canadians, could set a precedent for other insurers.
The new offering comes as the country moves to legalize cannabis for recreational use later this year and as the number of registered medical marijuana patients grows. There were more than 235,000 medical marijuana patients in the system across Canada at the end of September 2017 — the most recent date for which data is available — more than double the roughly 98,500 a year earlier, noted Vahan Ajamian, a Beacon Securities Ltd. research analyst.
“The insurance companies have been getting pressure to cover this as a regular medicine,” he said.
Meanwhile, pharmacists and pharmacies have also been warming up to cannabis.
Shoppers Drug Mart has lined up supply agreements with licensed producers, conditional upon Health Canada’s approval of its application to dispense the drug. The Canadian Pharmacists Association and two Quebec groups representing the industry have also said that pharmacies should play a leading role in medical marijuana’s distribution.
Jonathan Zaid, the executive director of patient advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, said Sun Life’s enhanced coverage comes after years of litigation to gain acceptance for medical marijuana.
“Although there may not be immediate benefit for patients as specific plan sponsors will need to purchase the coverage, this move will make covering medical cannabis simpler than today’s exception process and speaks volumes to the broader acceptance and legitimacy of medical cannabis,” he said.
A number of plan sponsors have moved to cover medical cannabis costs over the years, Zaid noted, including the University of Waterloo’s student union, the Arthritis Society, Loblaw Companies Ltd., the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), and the Labourers’ International Union of North America. Those plans have varying eligibility criteria and levels of coverage, he added.
Starting March 1, plan sponsors with Sun Life will have the option to add medical cannabis coverage to extended health-care plans, ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 per covered person per year.
Medical cannabis coverage will be available for specific conditions and symptoms associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS, and palliative care.
In order to qualify for coverage, Sun Life plan members must meet specific criteria including an authorization letter from a physician and registration with a medical marijuana producer licensed with Health Canada.
Sun Life will also conduct periodic reviews of the growing body of clinical research supporting the use of medical cannabis for other conditions, and update its criteria if necessary, the company said in a document updating their client base of 22,300 plan sponsors.
Although this coverage does not encompass the full range of conditions and it is unclear how many businesses will use it, the insurer’s new offering is a positive development for Canada’s licensed medical marijuana producers, said Ajamian.
“Anything that makes it easier/cheaper for patients to get access should result in more patients, more volume, and (especially if it’s free) potentially more pricing power for producers,” he said in an email.
Manulife Financial Corp., one of Canada’s biggest insurers, offers medical cannabis coverage to clients on a selective basis, a spokesperson said.
“Manulife is supportive of clients that want to consider introducing medical cannabis as an option,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We also recommend that clients put limits and some management controls in place as this is an emerging market that is quickly evolving.”
As acceptance among insurers and employers appears to grow, a landmark battle over coverage of medical marijuana that helped add to the public conversation remains in the hands of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
In October 2016, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Canada elevator mechanic Gordon Skinner went before the province’s Human Rights Tribunal over his union’s denial of coverage for his prescribed medical marijuana. The Nova Scotia man was injured in a motor vehicle accident in August 2010 while working, and was later prescribed medical cannabis to help with chronic pain. In January 2017, the tribunal ruled that the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund discriminated against Skinner, and ruled that his employer must cover medical marijuana.
The union took the case to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal last fall, and Skinner is now awaiting the final ruling, said his counsel Hugh Scher.
Scher is optimistic about the outcome and noted Sun Life’s new offering is “a very positive development in the sense of recognizing the efficacy of medical marijuana, and attempting to provide for a means of enabling employers and insurers to address that need.”
Companies in this story: (TSX:SLF, TSX:MFC)
Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press, Feb. 15, 2018.
10 Things to Anticipate in the Cannabis Space in 2018
Predicting what will happen in the cannabis world is very difficult to do from year to year. Every new year brings new opportunities for cannabis industry growth in states that have already reformed their cannabis laws, as well as the possibility of more states legalizing cannabis for adult and/or medical use.
This year was a big year for cannabis, despite not being an election year. Legal states are estimated to bring in $655 million in state taxes on cannabis retail sales by the end of 2017. The cannabis industry now employs as many as 230,000 people via full and part-time jobs. Youth cannabis consumption rates are not rising in the post-legalization era and other doomsday predictions made by cannabis opponents prior to legalization are proving to be unfounded as time goes on.
The cannabis movement’s momentum has never been greater than it is now, and that momentum will continue to build with no end in sight.
What will 2018 bring in regards to cannabis reform efforts and the cannabis industry? Below are 10 things to watch for in the new year.
1. More states will likely legalize cannabis for adult use
2018 is an election year, and at least one state is expected to vote on cannabis legalization. The Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 360,000 signatures in an effort to place adult-use legalization on the 2018 ballot. 70% of the signatures will need to be valid if the initiative is to be put in front of Michigan voters in November 2018.
If approved by Michigan voters, Michigan’s legalization initiative language, would:
- Legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis while not at an adult’s* residence, with up to 15 grams of that being concentrates
- Legalize possession of up to 10 ounces of cannabis at an adult’s residence, plus any cannabis that was legally cultivated at the residence
- Legalize the cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants per each adult’s residence address
- Create a taxed and regulated system for adult-use cannabis sales
It’s quite likely that 2018 could see cannabis reform history made with the first-ever legalization of adult-use cannabis via legislative action. Vermont became the first state to see its legislature approve adult-use legalization via legislative action in 2017, however, the measure was vetoed by Vermont’s Governor.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott recently stated that he felt ‘comfortable’ with plans to legalize cannabis in early 2018. Such a move is far from guaranteed, but with strong support in Vermont’s Legislature and a Governor who now feels better about cannabis legalization in his state, it’s definitely something to watch for next year.
New Jersey is another state that appears to have a great chance of legalizing cannabis via legislative action in 2018. New Jersey’s outgoing Governor Chris Christie is one of the biggest cannabis opponents in the nation and has made it no secret that he would veto any cannabis legalization bill that came across his desk. Fortunately for the residents of New Jersey, there is a new Governor coming into office soon, and he strongly supports cannabis legalization. Incoming New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made cannabis legalization a key part of his campaign leading up to his election victory and stated in his victory speech that he wants to see cannabis legalized in New Jersey ‘within 100 days of taking office.’
Whether or not New Jersey will actually pass a legalization bill within 100 days of Phil Murphy taking office is tough to say for sure, but it is a fairly safe bet that New Jersey will legalize cannabis by the end of 2018. What New Jersey’s legalization model would look like is not clear at this time, which is also true with the state of Vermont. Cannabis supporters will have to wait and see if/when either or both states approve a legalization bill.
2. More states will likely legalize cannabis for medical use
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 29 states have legalized cannabis for medical use. Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico have also legalized medical cannabis. Some of those states have operating medical cannabis industries and others are in the rulemaking or implementation phase.
Seventeen other states have passed cannabidiol-specific (CBD) medical cannabis measures, but those are not included in the NCSL’s tally of medical cannabis states because CBD-specific laws are oftentimes merely symbolic. Only Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, and South Dakota prohibit all forms of medical cannabis.
One state has already qualified for a 2018 vote on medical cannabis. Oklahoma turned in enough valid signatures in 2016 to make a ballot, but not the 2016 ballot. The exact date on which Oklahoma voters will vote on medical cannabis is still undecided, but a vote will absolutely occur in 2018. Oklahoma’s Governor is currently mulling whether to place the initiative on the June 2018 primary ballot, or the 2018 general election ballot in November.
Utah is a state that has already legalized cannabis in CBD-only form. Utah was the first state to pass a CBD-specific measure (2014). A signature gathering effort, led by the Utah Patients Coalition, has been ongoing since June 2017. The effort has until April 15, 2018 to gather at least 113,143 valid signatures in order for the comprehensive medical cannabis initiative to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. The signature-gathering effort is well funded and is expected to be successful. A recent poll shows 73% support for medical cannabis legalization in Utah.
Multiple efforts have been underway in Missouri to put medical cannabis on the ballot in 2018. Missouri was very close to placing medical cannabis on the 2016 ballot, however, the campaign fell short by just 23 signatures. That endeavor, led by New Approach Missouri, is back for a 2018 effort. As of October 21st, New Approach Missouri was on pace to reach its goal of collecting roughly 265,000 signatures.
A second medical cannabis initiative in Missouri has stated that it has already gathered over 150,000 signatures, and if so, appears to be on its way to making the 2018 ballot. A third medical cannabis initiative is also gathering signatures in Missouri with the goal of making the 2018 ballot. It is unclear how many initiatives will be on the ballot in Missouri, but at least one of them is likely to be successful in doing so if not all three.
3. Support for cannabis nationwide will likely continue to increase
Gallup has been asking adults in the United States the following question since 1969 as part of its annual poll:
“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”
The results from the original poll conducted in 1969 were depressing. Just 12% of poll participants answered ‘yes’ to the poll question. From the late 1980’s into the mid-2000’s support slowly climbed. In 2006 the number of poll participants that answered ‘yes’ to the poll question was 36%.
With only a couple of exceptions, support has grown significantly year after year in the poll. Gallup’s poll this year found a record 64% of poll participants answering ‘yes’ to the poll question. One fact from the poll that particularly raised eyebrows was the jump in support among Republicans from just the year prior. For the first time in the poll’s history, a majority of Republicans answered ‘yes’ to the poll question, reflecting a 9% jump compared to the year prior.
The increased level of support for cannabis legalization has been paralleled in the last decade by the rise of the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry used to be a cottage industry and so it was easier for cannabis opponents to downplay industry successes. With the cannabis industry now operating legally at the state level in a growing number of states, the benefits of a legalized and regulated cannabis industry are undeniable.
A voter does not have to be pro-cannabis use to be pro-cannabis reform. Twelve percent of Americans self-identified as being a current cannabis consumer according to a separate Gallup poll, with 45% of poll participants stating that they had consumed cannabis at some point in their life. That’s obviously less than the 64% that support legalizing cannabis. As legalization continues to succeed and the industry continues to increase in size, support will continue to grow among demographics that have historically opposed cannabis reform.
4. Adult-use cannabis sales will begin in California and Massachusetts, more than doubling the size of the industry
Right now adult-use cannabis sales are occurring in Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada. Adult-use cannabis sales are expected to begin in California on January 1st of next year and in Massachusetts in mid-2018.
The combined population of all five states that currently allow adult-use sales is roughly 20.6 million people. The combined population of California and Massachusetts is over 46 million people. When adult-use sales begin in California and Massachusetts, the size of America’s cannabis industry is going to grow exponentially, and not just because of the size of California and Massachusetts’ combined populations.
California is the number one tourist destination in America, and as such, it will generate a considerable amount of cannabis sales from people that are visiting from prohibition states.
Massachusetts does not have nearly the population size that California does, but it is essentially going to be a cannabis industry island surrounded by a sea of prohibition states. The only other state on the entire East Coast that has legalized cannabis for adult use is the state of Maine, which shows no indication of an adult-use framework going into place any time soon due to a veto of a cannabis industry regulation bill by its Governor this year. Even when Maine begins allowing the selling of cannabis for adult use, it will not have a significant impact on Massachusetts’ market.
Boston is going to be a top destination for cannabis tourism, with people flooding in from surrounding states and beyond to make legal cannabis purchases. California and Massachusetts have more than twice the population as Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada, but their combined cannabis industry market sizes are going to more than double the size of the current adult-use market.
5. Colorado’s cannabis industry growth will start to level out
Colorado has the distinction of being the first state in America to legalize cannabis, beating out Washington State by a couple of hours. Not surprisingly, Colorado is also the first state to allow sales of cannabis for adult use. Adult-use sales began in Colorado on January 1, 2014. Washington did not start adult-use cannabis sales until July 2014.
A substantial reason why Colorado was able to begin sales sooner than Washington State is that whereas Colorado already had a regulated system in place for its medical cannabis industry, Washington did not. Having the framework already in place for medical cannabis sales gave Colorado a big edge in getting its adult-use industry off the ground faster.
Since 2014, both states have sold a tremendous amount of cannabis, but Colorado is still looked at by many as the national leader for adult-use cannabis. Colorado’s industry has generated a tremendous amount of revenue for the state of Colorado via taxes and fees. Below is a year-by-year breakdown:
- 2014 – $67,594,323
- 2015 – $130,411,173
- 2016 – $193,604,810
- 2017 (Jan-Oct) – $205,080,035
If current trends persist in November and December of this year, Colorado will finish out 2017 with roughly 246 million dollars in taxes and fees generated. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that the rate of state revenue growth in Colorado is slowing down and at some point, it will level out. When that becomes the case there will be year-to-year fluctuations going forward, but exponential growth will cease to occur. This will be a mathematical trend that will occur in every state that legalizes cannabis and ramps up its legal cannabis industry until it reaches capacity.
That’s not to say that Colorado’s industry is hurting. Colorado’s industry is very strong by every measure. However, exponential growth is unsustainable in any state and any industry, and eventually, Colorado’s cannabis industry will hit its ceiling. 2018 could be the first year that we see this occur in Colorado, especially with California and Massachusetts coming onboard with adult-use cannabis sales.
Colorado’s industry may be leveling out, but it is still a glowing example of how cannabis can be legalized and a regulated industry can be implemented with no major issues. Other states will continue to look to Colorado as a standard to emulate, and Colorado will continue to generate enormous sums of cannabis taxes and fees that help fund many state programs.
6. FDA approval of Epidiolex
In late 2017 GW Pharmaceuticals (based in London) submitted an application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval for a pharmaceutical drug called Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a medicine designed as a treatment for seizures associated with two Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (two types of epilepsy).
Unlike Marinol, which is a synthetic cannabis-type medicine, Epidiolex is plant derived. Marinol received approval from the FDA and is currently scheduled as a Schedule III substance. If Epidiolex receives approval from the FDA, it could be on sale across America by the end of 2018. An answer as to whether GW Pharmaceutical’s application was approved or denied is expected sometime in mid-2018..
An approval by the FDA for Epidiolex would have a major impact on the emerging cannabis industry as well as future reform efforts. As previously stated in this article, a number of states have approved CBD-only laws. A big argument against such laws is that they do not help people that need to use CBD, in that they often do not provide legal ways to obtain CBD products. That would obviously change with an approval for Epidiolex.
Cannabis supporters could (and should) certainly argue that medical cannabis programs should provide protection and safe access to the entire cannabis plant and its derivatives. However, it will be a harder sell to lawmakers and voters that are hesitant to embrace more comprehensive medical cannabis reform.
Makers of non-pharmaceutical CBD products will have to compete on an uneven playing field if/when Epidiolex is approved. Whereas non-pharmaceutical companies cannot export their products across state lines, GW Pharmaceuticals will be able to sell Epidiolex in pharmacies across America. Also, doctors will be encouraged to promote Epidiolex to patients during doctor visits, which is something that rarely occurs for non-pharmaceutical cannabis products.
GW Pharmaceuticals would be prevented from promoting Epidiolex for any other conditions other than Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, but clinical trials are underway to test Epidiolex on other conditions. CBD has been found to treat all types of conditions from traumatic brain injuries to nausea.
It’s quite possible that Epidiolex could be prescribed for a number of conditions in the near future. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Epidiolex if approved, could become a ‘go to’ cannabis product across America, which would obviously have a huge impact on the cannabis industry.
7. The cannabis industry will become more crowded
For a long time, the cannabis industry operated in grey areas of the law. As such, one of the main ingredients for success was simply being willing to take the risk of starting a cannabis company. Demand for cannabis has always been strong, but for a number of years, supply was limited. Those days are gone in legal states.
The level of competition in the cannabis industry is now at a fevered pitch, and will only continue to increase in the future. Oregon is the top example when it comes to the increased level of competition in the cannabis industry. Oregon does not have residency requirements for cannabis business license approval and does not have a cap on the number of licenses issued (although there are industry bans in some parts of Oregon).
As of December 4, 2017, Oregon had received 3,178 applications for cannabis business licenses. 1,814 of those were for cannabis producer licenses. 733 of the applications were for dispensary licenses. More and more people are jumping into the cannabis industry every day, which is reflected in every Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) license statistical update, as the OLCC also regulates Oregon’s cannabis industry.
Other legal states have a higher barrier to entry than Oregon does and have various policies in place that help limit the number of licenses that are issued. But California, which is going to be the biggest state for the cannabis industry by far, will be like Oregon in that it will not have a cap on licenses. Competition is going to be fierce in California as a result. Many pundits are already predicting an oversaturation of supply in California.
Even in states that do have more stringent cannabis industry license approval criteria, competition is still very strong for the limited number of licenses that are up for grabs. In states that have a limited number of licenses, or plan to if/when cannabis becomes legal, application fees are very costly and with no guarantee of winning one or more licenses.
The cannabis industry is the fastest growing, sexiest industry on the planet right now so it should be no surprise that so many people want in on the action. As with all industries, there will come a point in the cannabis industry where competition becomes so strong that entrepreneurs get pushed out of the industry because they can’t compete.
But, unlike many other industries that have grown at an exponential rate, the cannabis industry does not appear to be ‘on a bubble.’ With only five states allowing adult-use sales right now, the industry has a tremendous amount of room left to grow in size. Opportunities for entrepreneurs will be abundant throughout 2018 and beyond.
8. Canada will legalize cannabis, and Canadian companies will continue their head start in the international cannabis market
Ever since Justin Trudeau was installed as Prime Minister of Canada, there has been a push towards cannabis legalization. Trudeau campaigned on a platform that included cannabis legalization, and a goal date of July 1, 2018 was set for Canada to end cannabis prohibition. A legalization bill has already been passed by Canada’s House of Commons late November 2017.
The Senate is expected to pass legalization as well, but nothing is guaranteed. With that said, it would be a dramatic development if legalization stalled in Canada’s Senate given the way legalization has been progressing with our Northern neighbor. Canada’s provinces will each regulate cannabis in their own way with some similarities and overlap.
Unlike the United States, Canada has a national medical cannabis industry already in place. The largest cannabis companies in Canada dwarf the largest cannabis companies in America, and with legalization on the horizon, large Canadian companies will likely continue to grow in size.
Canadian companies are not only beating American companies at the national level, they are also gaining a huge head start on the international market. Canadian cannabis companies now export products to Australia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Malta, and New Zealand. Plans are also underway for exports to begin in South Africa in the near future.
The combination of a nationally regulated industry and the ability to legally export cannabis products give Canadian companies a distinct advantage over companies in the United States. Canadian companies are not just focused on business at home and on other continents. They are also jumping into the United States market, which creates further competition in the American market. Expect this to continue throughout 2018.
9. The cannabis consumer experience will continue to evolve
It wasn’t that long ago that being able to visit a dispensary to purchase cannabis was considered revolutionary. The cannabis consumer experience has continued to evolve throughout this decade, and 2018 should be a particularly ripe year for a cannabis purchasing experience revolution.
Cannabis tourism is not a new phenomenon, but it has certainly become more of a ‘thing’ as more states have rolled out legal adult-use cannabis sales and cannabis-friendly lodging options have increased via companies like Airbnb. This will continue throughout 2018. California is the top tourist destination in America, and with adult-use sales beginning in early 2018, more tourists are going to be planning their vacations around the legal cannabis experience.
Just as cannabis tourism is set to ramp up in 2018 in America, so too will cannabis delivery services increase in 2018. Cannabis deliveries have existed for several years now in various legal states, but as time goes by it will become a very common thing in states that allow legal cannabis sales. Just as people regularly get pizza and Amazon orders delivered to their homes because of the convenience factor, the same will be true for cannabis.
This year, the cannabis industry witnessed the opening of the first cannabis drive-thru in America. A dispensary named Tumbleweed opened the country’s first drive-thru dispensary in Parachute, Colorado in April of 2017. The drive-thru building was previously a carwash, which is an ideal location due to legal requirements of cannabis transactions taking place out of public view. Other drive-thru locations have popped up in Colorado and Nevada, and that is something that we will likely see more of in 2018.
Social cannabis consumption is something that is likely to spread in 2018. Denver became the first city in America to pass a measure legalizing social cannabis consumption in 2016. The law was implemented in 2017, and the City of Denver is now accepting applications for venues that wish to allow on-site cannabis consumption. Other parts of Colorado along with California, Alaska, and Oregon are considering similar reform measures, with a good chance of passage occurring in 2018.
Massachusetts is the only state so far to adopt a regulatory framework for social use. At the end of 2017 the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted unanimously to approve rules that would allow on-site cannabis consumption at venues such as ‘cannabis cafes’ and spas. Social-use regulations in Massachusetts have to be finalized by mid-March (2018), with cannabis businesses expected to open in Massachusetts in July 2018.
10. The demand for craft cannabis industry will continue to increase in 2018
The cannabis industry was a cottage industry for a number of decades, as stated previously in this article. The transition to a robust regulated cannabis industry has been tough for many cannabis industry veterans, with some being able to navigate the turbulent waters better than others. With enormous sums of investment dollars flooding the industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small cannabis companies to operate.
But, that’s not to say that there is no demand for quality cannabis products produced by smaller companies, often referred to as ‘craft cannabis.’ The term ‘craft’ has been applied to many products throughout the years. The craft beer industry is the most akin to the craft cannabis industry.
It will be harder to measure the size of the craft cannabis industry compared to the craft beer industry because the definition of what constitutes craft cannabis is much less concrete than it is in the alcohol industry. The alcohol industry defines craft breweries based on brewery size, the percentage of ownership by actual brewers, and the volume of product produced. Similar standards have not been adopted by the cannabis community so far, but they will eventually, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen in 2018.
Sourced from: https://www.seedtosaleshow.com
By Staff The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “next summer,” and not July 1, is the date cannabis will become legal across the country.
Excerpts of an interview Trudeau gave the TVA network in Quebec were broadcast Tuesday, with the full interview to be shown Wednesday night.
READ MORE: Canadians could pay at least $1 per gram in weed tax, plus GST: feds
Trudeau shook his head when interviewer Pierre Bruneau asked him why he was so obsessed with July 1 as the date for the cannabis legislation to become law.
The prime minister said it “would not be July 1,” but that it would be “for next summer.”
“The date will not be July 1, I can assure you of that,” Trudeau said. “I don’t know where that date came from.”
Several provinces have asked the federal government to delay passing the legislation in order to give them more time to prepare.
A statement issued by the Health Department last month said, “as previously indicated, the government of Canada intends to bring the proposed Cannabis Act into force no later than July 2018.”
Until last month, he was the top international anti-drug official in the U.S. Now he says it is likely that the federal government will have to reclassify marijuana as more states enact legalization.
“Let the experiment advance. Consider its positive and negative effects,” William Brownfield, who resigned only weeks ago as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said in a new interview.
“Let’s see how many other states advance in this direction because we are a democracy and for the moment we do not have a consensus position. In California, the most populous state, they voted for legalization, but in Texas, the second most populous state, they have not even wanted to consider it. When the conclusions are drawn, it is likely that substances may be reclassified.”
That’s a remarkable statement coming from someone who was in charge of representing the U.S.’s position in the global drug war for more than six years, as Brownfield was until a few weeks ago.
But even as he acknowledges it may soon be time for the government to remove marijuana from Schedule I — the most restrictive category in federal law, which is supposed to be reserved for substances with a high potential abuse and no medical value — don’t mistake Brownfield for an anti-prohibition activist.
“I am not a fan of legalization,” he said in the new interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Brownfield did acknowledge, however, that legalization is an “experiment that allows us to observe and learn.”
Even while citing traffic accidents and emergency room visits allegedly associated with cannabis, and arguing that local governments’ desire to generate revenue from legal marijuana sales “doesn’t seem like anything healthy,” he clarifies that he’s “not saying that [legalization] is a failure.”
“But,” he says, “I insist that we must be able to adjust policies to ensure that they do the least possible harm.”
Brownfield, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Venezuela and Chile during the Bush administration, made headlines in recent years by shepherding along a new U.S. posture on drugs under President Obama. While the country historically pressured other nations into maintaining a prohibition approach, that became more difficult once U.S. states started legalizing marijuana.
“How could I, a representative of the government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?” Brownfield asked in 2014, when Colorado and Washington were the only states to have ended prohibition. That number has since quadrupled.
Also in the new interview, Brownfield sharply criticized comments his former boss, President Trump, made about Colombia’s role in the war on drugs.
Trump threatened to “decertify” the country as a partner in drug policy last month, a move that could have harsh consequences for fiscal aid and trade between the two nations.
To decertify Colombia would have been “a fundamental error, counterproductive, false, and very stupid,” Brownfield said, adding that it would be “nonsense, an insult, an insult to the hundreds of Colombians who have given their lives” in the drug war.
All Brownfield quotes in this story were automatically translated by Google and then cleaned up with the help of a few fluent Spanish speakers.
Published 3 weeks ago on October 24, 2017 By Tom Angell
Photo courtesy of M a n u e l
Sourced from: marijuanamoment.net
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has created a website to keep the public updated on their process of preparing for the sale of legal cannabis by July 2018.
The website, lcbocannabisupdates.com, provides introductory information to the general public to help understand the steps the LCBO is taking to find the 40 initial cannabis store locations that the province has said they intend to have in place for legalization. The province intends to have 80 stores by 2019 and ‘up to’ 150 stores by 2020.
Although still short on specifics, the website contains a FAQ section that says the government plans to train all employees selling cannabis in the LCBO to know about the products and related safety information relating to them.
It also states that the Government of Ontario will be choosing locations for their first 40 stores with the goal of reducing the amount of illegal stores, “including dispensaries,” that are currently operating in Ontario.
Municipalities identified for a location will have an opportunity to have input in the process.
The age limit for consumption and possession in the province will be 19 and all cannabis sales will be through employees, not direct-to-customers sales, via traditional vending machines, for example.
Sourced from: Lift News – https://news.lift.co/lcbo-unveils-retail-cannabis-website/
So far, all the states that have legalized marijuana have done so through grassroots petitions and ballot initiatives meant to bypass risk-averse lawmakers in state houses.
California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have all followed Colorado and Washington either to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana or, at a minimum, to decriminalize possession and consumption of small amounts of the drug.
But 2018 may be a tipping point — the moment when the momentum of pot makes it impossible for state lawmakers to avoid. State legislatures are poised to begin passing marijuana reform laws next year. The taboos against smoking dope may go up in a cloud of narcotic smoke.
Lawmakers must still juggle serious public safety issues, even as they eye what they hope will be new revenue streams from pot that they don’t want flowing to neighboring states.
Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Jersey all devoted serious debate to this in 2017, and their state legislatures could send legislation to their governors next year to sign into law.
Vermont is the only state legislature to pass a legalization measure, although Democratic Gov. Phil Scott vetoed it.
With recreational use and sales opening within months in Canada and Massachusetts, neighboring states feel compelled to study and implement new public safety measures. Beyond that, however, lawmakers in these states are also emboldened by polls showing public support for recreational use.
Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency, believes 2018 could be a tipping point.
“What I was hoping was the rest of the states would say, ‘OK, we’ve got Washington, and we’ve got Colorado, let’s wait and see what happens so we can make an informed decision one way or the other,” said Gorman, whose Denver-based organization supports federal and local anti-drug policing. “Either it wasn’t as bad as the anti-marijuana folks said it was, or, ‘My God, this is disastrous, we don’t want this for our state.’”
But Gorman’s longtime adversary in the recreational legalization battle, Brian Vincente, an attorney who has been a leader in Colorado’s decades-long fight over legalization, thinks otherwise. “I think we’ve probably cleared the tipping point,” he told the Washington Examiner. “I think when California and Massachusetts came on board and legalized — I mean, California’s such a massively recognized global economy and Massachusetts, this puritanical, historic state — I think those two for me signaled that it’s the beginning of the end for prohibition.”
What develops next in pot policy is likely to be shaped by data from the early legalizers, Colorado and Washington, by how it is interpreted, by how legislatures respond to legalization as opposed to citizen ballot initiatives, and by whether the federal government will step in.
If Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Jersey make moves, and even if only one or two other voter-based initiatives passed, fewer states would remain that didn’t share border with a state with legal marijuana. Some people thought Colorado and Washington were “experiments” and would remain highly quarantined, but it was an illusion.
Getting a clear “before and after” picture of the effects of legalized marijuana isn’t easy. Some experts have suggested that a comprehensive picture could take 20 years or more to become clear because data can be affected by so many other sociological factors.
“What I hear from Colorado is that, they say, you need to wait a couple years. Because the data sets right now are very immature and we don’t really know as much as we’d like to know,” said Vermont State Rep. Scott Beck, a Republican.
Beck’s concerns about “immature” data are well-founded. For example, one of the first comprehensive studies on the effects of legalization was published by the Colorado Department of Public Safety in March, 2016. It began with a strong caution:
“It is too early to draw any conclusions about the potential effects of marijuana legalization or commercialization on public safety, public health, or youth outcomes, and this may always be difficult due to the lack of historical data. Furthermore, the information presented here should be interpreted with caution. The decreasing social stigma regarding marijuana use could lead individuals to be more likely to report use on surveys and to health workers in emergency department and poison control centers, making marijuana use appear to increase when perhaps is has not.
“Finally, law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys continue to struggle with enforcement of the complex and sometimes conflicting marijuana laws that remain. Thus, the lack of pre-commercialization data, the decreasing social stigma, and challenges to law enforcement combine to make it difficult to translate these early findings into definitive statements of outcomes.”
Just four months before pot sales began in Colorado, Dr. Larry Wolk became the executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Wolk says he’s often in contact with officials from other states and other countries, and says the number one piece of advice he gives them is usually the same, and it is about data.
“Conceptually, stop thinking about this as a ‘starting from zero’ — you know, if it’s not legalized — to some dramatic number as a result of legalization,” Wolk said. “So recognizing, what’s the base use of marijuana amongst adults and kids.
In Colorado, public safety concerns have broken along two lines: Concerns about the effects on those underage, whether it’s direct use by teens or children being born with THC detectable in their systems, and concerns about public safety on the roads, mainly because of people driving while stoned.
Perhaps nothing has confounded policymakers more than the inability to measure impairment due to marijuana use quickly in the same way a breathalyzer gauges a driver’s blood alcohol level, which is a reliable measurement of impairment. Not only does the absence of a similar testing tool make roadside analysis difficult for law enforcement, it also makes studying the issue murky as well.
Complicating those factors is the notion, which many experts say is incorrect, that marijuana “impairment” on driving can be measured like alcohol.
“Peak impairment does not occur when THC concentration in the blood is at or near peak levels,” a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted. THC is the active compound in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive effects. “Peak THC level can occur when low impairment is measured, and high impairment can be measured when THC level is low.”
A January release by the Colorado Department of Transportation noted that traffic fatalities were up 24 percent since 2014, the first year that recreational pot was legal. But the word “marijuana” never appeared in that release, and officials never singled out any overriding factors for blame. The same release noted that those figures came during a population boom and also said, “The rise in fatalities is part of a national trend. Fatalities are up nationally by about 8 percent.”
Beck says legislators in that state have struggled with what to do about drugged driving, absent any test similar to a breathalyzer.
“Now we’re basically talking about having officers doing ‘driving under the influence’ tests roadside, which is kind of a throwback to the ’70s and ’80s, ‘walk the line, touch your nose,’” Beck said.
“It’s subjective. How’s it going to fare in a court of law? How does an officer determine whether it’s alcohol, or THC, or some other substance? We have trained many people in the state to be drug recognition experts. But I don’t think we have enough of them that people are confident that we can identify all these people.”
Especially concerning to Beck is that Vermont will have to deal with an increase in drugged drivers whether or not the state decriminalizes marijuana because tit has drivers on its roads from Massachusetts and Canada, where dope will be legal.
Effects on underage people
Supporters of legalization in Colorado have promoted a pair of studies they say show no increase in teen usage.
The state’s “Healthy Kids Colorado” survey polls 17,000 youth. From 2013 to 2015, the percentage of youth who said they had used marijuana once in the last month inched up from 20 percent to 21 percent, and that 21 percent is comparable to the national average.
Even though there was an uptick from 20 to 21 percent over two years, scientists have said this isn’t “statistically significant.”
“There’s some corridor of variability or error when you do any kind of study,” Wolk explained, “and so the reason why we say not to make much of the small increase that occurred the one year which then actually was followed by a small decrease is that, that’s within the corridor of variability that … researchers say is what’s attributed to chance.”
The other study on teen use of marijuana showed a similarly small increase, but relied on a much smaller sample.
Opponents of legalization, meanwhile, highlight statistics from a Pueblo-based hospital showing about a third of all babies tested have shown a presence of THC in their systems.
Tom Tancredo served as a congressman from Colorado for five terms, and ran for president in 2008 on a hardline immigration stance. But he lent his name and voice to pro-legalization radio ads in the run-up to the 2012 vote. He says he’s lost friends over this and says he would also support legalization again. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that lawmakers must consider secondary effects. Babies born with THC in their systems are a prime example, he says.
“I think that that should be dealt with legally,” he told the Washington Examiner. “Because I believe that’s child endangerment. And I think people should go to jail for that. Again, I don’t care what you do to yourself, as an adult, but I certainly care what you do to those who are not.”
Wolk says there is no data that proves that a mother passing THC to her baby is doing more harm, or as much harm, a mother using alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy. The studies are lacking in part because the federal government’s labeling marijuana as a “Schedule 1” drug has prevented many labs from getting the strict permissions needed to do marijuana testing.
“We know enough to say there’s not a lot in the way of short-term or acute harm if a baby is born to a THC-positive mom, but there’s likely the potential that it does affect or impact the developing brain,” Wolk said.
“So, obviously, our policy statement based on all available research we have says that pregnant mothers and breast-feeding mothers should not be using marijuana, period.”
Taxation and competition
Some state lawmakers in Vermont and Rhode Island who support either decriminalization or retail legalization often suggest that part of the “inevitability” they feel about the issue is something akin to the “domino theory” from the Cold War era. Once a single region “falls,” then so do neighboring regions. It sets off a chain reaction that can’t be stopped.
There’s also a “funding paradox” for states looking at decriminalization as opposed to full-on commercial sales and legalization. If a state decriminalizes pot rather than legalizes it and collects revenue from taxing it, it feels it’s missing out on money for road safety and education and prevention programs for youth.
“In general, our state has no taxing capacity left to run our programs, to educate our children,” said Republican Vermont State Rep. Heidi Scheuermann. “Even [former] Gov. [Peter] Shumlin said that a number of years ago, and that’s still a fact.
“So, if we’re going to create new needs, as a result of — whether it’s decrim or legalization of marijuana, we’re going to have to find some revenue somewhere to do that.
“I don’t know if it has to be done all at once, though,” she added, noting that she’s depending on a study commissioned by the governor to draw conclusions and find solutions.
Other lawmakers appear to be succumbing to the fear of missing out.
“When Massachusetts goes to a tax-and-regulate structure next year, anybody who’s interested in accessing marijuana can easily go to Massachusetts,” said Rhode Island State Sen. Joshua Miller, referring not only to the way Colorado taxes pot sales, but also oversees virtually every detail regarding cultivation and distribution, which includes tracking every plant grown with its own barcode. “Then it becomes more of, the revenue is either going to be Massachusetts’ revenue or Rhode Island’s revenue. And those that think it’s a good idea or a bad idea have a different reality to also consider.”
Miller, a Democrat, compared the potential for new tax revenues through a tax-and-regulate structure to the expansion of state lotteries in the ’80s, or casino gambling in the ’90s. When neighboring states adopt the new revenue, other states find it hard to resist.
Competitive pressures come back to Colorado. Its pot revenues, such as they are, could deflate as soon as other states legalize. So a state can be left with the costs of marijuana legalization, but see its revenue hopes dashed.
“There’s three times as many people in Los Angeles as there are in the state of Colorado. Now that California has legalized marijuana, I do think they’re going to be taking the helm in a lot of ways,” Vicente said.
Those who have opposed all movements toward new leniency with marijuana say the taxation lure will remain a Faustian bargain.
“There has been some extra [tax] money, no doubt about it,” Gorman said. “Where we missed the boat is, what is it costing us, what are the societal costs? And if you look at alcohol and tobacco, and you say ‘highly taxed products,’ the taxes only cover about 10 to 12 percent of societal costs, that’s probably not a good investment. And we don’t know that yet with marijuana. But we will down the road. And if we use illegal drugs as an example, we’d have to say the odds are it’s not going to be a good investment for us.”
The federal void
All of this state action comes in a broad federal void. Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ dislike of liberalizing of marijuana laws, little action has come from the Department of Justice to roll back activities by states.
Sessions sent a letter to Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in August asking him how the state was responding to a report of increases in traffic deaths, youth consumption, and emergency room visits.
The response came not only from the Colorado governor, but the state’s Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (popular in her party for joining a lawsuit against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan). She and Hickenlooper vigorously defended the state’s marijuana laws, telling Sessions, “When abuses and unintended consequences materialize, the state has acted quickly to address any resulting harms.”
Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying organization dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition, says the quick adoption of recreational marijuana by other states is pushing the federal government into a corner.
“The states don’t care anymore what the federal government says or doesn’t say. And so, they’re just moving along doing their own thing,” Murphy said.
Elected officials at the federal level seem uninterested in diving into the issue. The Washington Examiner reached out to representatives on Capitol Hill from Rhode Island, Vermont, and Michigan (where a ballot issue could appear in 2018), and none would comment.
Still, the nation will get a clear preview of just how far legal pot may go, and how willing states are to continue to challenge federal laws, when voters cast ballots in New Jersey this November. Voters there will choose a successor to long-time marijuana foe Gov. Chris Christie. The candidates there have drawn a clear distinction between themselves. The Democratic candidate is ready to work on loosening the state’s marijuana laws, and the Republican candidate is firmly opposed.
The legislative hurdle appears to be the most comprehensive test for supporters of legalization. If elected representatives and senators in any of these states can find compromise on a bill, and if a governor of a state feels he or she can sign such a bill into law, then supporters of legalization believe the fight against marijuana prohibition will effectively be over.
“We’re at the precipice of actually legalizing it, I believe,” said New Jersey State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a leading advocate for adopting a retail structure based on Colorado’s. “So, we might as well be at the head of the pack instead of at the rear, like we have been on so many other issues.”
By GFarma News – October 23, 2017
The budding marijuana industry is spurring new research around cannabis that will have long-term effects on a variety of fields, from farming to new medicine, as companies look for solid scientific data on the substance.
With the looming legalization of recreational pot next summer, and the expansion of licensed medical marijuana producers, scientists at the University of Guelph say more organizations are turning to researchers for help growing better plants.
The Ontario university has a long horticultural research history and some of its staff and students are already deep into the study of medicinal marijuana.
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On Friday, a team of two environmental science professors and a graduate student published a research paper — one they called the first of its kind and the first of many to come — about optimizing the growth of medicinal cannabis indoors.
The study looked at the rate of organic fertilizer in soilless products holding cannabis before it flowered and the optimization of tetrahydrocannabinol — the primary psychoactive part of cannabis — and cannabidiol, which has been touted as a potential treatment for certain forms of epilepsy.
“There is hardly any scientific information on how to produce these plants and now there is so much interest in this area,” said Youbin Zheng, who led the study funded by a licensed medical marijuana producer as well the federal government.
Words such as “OG kush” and “grizzly” — types of marijuana strains — have now appeared in a scientific journal, this time in HortScience, and there’s more to come.
Zheng and fellow professor Mike Dixon have a series of studies in the pipeline that examine the effects of irrigation, lighting, fertilization and soilless technology on cannabis growth as they try to bring scientific rigour to marijuana research.
Building on anecdotal evidence
Dixon is blunt when reflecting on the current cannabis research landscape.
“Much of the work now is largely based on anecdotal bulls–t from people who think they have it all figured out and did all their research in their basements,” he said.
The idea now, he notes, is to take the medicinal marijuana world from the backwoods to pharmaceutical-grade production.
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Dixon has been part of pioneering research into the growth of plants in space and is using that knowledge and technology to help grow better medicinal marijuana. He plans to leverage the windfall of research money coming in from cannabis companies for his work.
“I’m shamelessly taking advantage of the cannabis industry sector’s investment,” he said.
“The bottom line is we’re developing technologies that will allow Canadians to exploit production systems in harsh environments.”
Marijuana production companies — there are more than 60 approved by Health Canada now — need a “huge number of trained scientists,” Zheng noted.
Then there are the potential medical applications associated with marijuana — there are more than 150 compounds found in cannabis that need to be explored, Dixon said.
Another big area is vertical farming — where crops are grown in stacks in vast warehouses with artificial lighting, either in solution or with soilless products — that can allow cold-climate countries to grow food year round, Dixon said.
The results of research on marijuana — driven by interest from the cannabis industry — could be applied to other areas, he explained.
“The funding isn’t coming from food, which has the lowest possible margin as a commodity, but pharmaceuticals,” Dixon said.
“But we can use this research to develop life-support technology, as in food, which can become an economic engine for a country like Canada that will carry us for the next 300 years.”
The dean of the Ontario Agricultural College, at the University of Guelph said the cannabis industry is also expected to help draw new students to the school’s programs.
“One of our greatest challenges is recruiting people into our programs because people typically don’t understand the fact that agriculture and food are high-tech, high-growth sectors and demand an awful lot of people for really interesting careers,” said Rene Van Acker.
“The cannabis industry is doing us a favour by drawing a lot of attention to the sector and drawing attention to the fact it is a high-skill, high-tech area.”
© The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press
Onerous regulations appear to be negatively impacting the cannabis business growth in Canada.
Specifically, current organizational structures may be too strict to allow production to meet demand for cannabis oils and extracts. While the number of applications for cannabis licensing continues to climb, many entrepreneurs are skipping the step of extraction, presumably in a move to limit potential liabilities by keeping initial operations to the basics of production and distribution.
Tyler Nvquvest of Business Vancouver cited a recent Health Canada report which shows a growth in the cannabis oil sector of more than 871% between April 2016 and March 2017, and pointed out the overall lack of cannabis oil production licenses – only 18 of the 51 licenses granted by Canadian authorities include a plan to produce and sell oil:
“The regulatory system is not structured to solely license companies exclusively focused on oil extraction, said Rosy Mondin, executive director at the Cannabis Trade Alliance of Canada. Oil extraction carries extra restrictions and regulations governing dosage and application.
“‘The way the system is set up is that it is a complete seed-to-sale license,’ said Mondin. ‘If you want to process oils, you are forced to cultivate [marijuana].’
“…’When you look at consumption trends in the U.S. and use [them] as predicators to Canada, the prediction is that consumption of extracted oil and oil-based products is going to increase 198,000% over the next five years,’ Mondin said.”
While Canada is currently losing out on the cannabis oil market due to regulatory hurdles, that will likely change in the near future. Over regulation and supply chain bottlenecks have temporarily plagued other marijuana markets, but the cannabis community is creative and persistent and elected officials like tax dollars. We can expect advocates and politicians to work out some common sense solutions, especially as legalization becomes more mainstream in Canada.
Keep up with the latest in Canada’s cannabis business development! Join the International Cannabis Business Conference in Kauai, Hawaii on December 1-3, 2017, and Vancouver, British Columbia in June 24 and 25, 2018.
Author: AMBER IRIS LANGSTON- Date: OCTOBER 3, 2017