JAMESON BERKOW CANNABIS INDUSTRY REPORTER
PUBLISHED MAY 12, 2019
Marilyn Gladu (pictured above), federal Conservative Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, once recited an anti-pot poem on the floor of the House of Commons. She currently serves as the party’s health critic. If Andrew Scheer becomes Prime Minister (which recent polls show is a real possibility), and Ms. Gadhu retains her seat, she has a reasonable chance of being named federal Health Minister, and the de-facto head of the cannabis file.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Cannabis Professional, Ms. Gladu pledged her party would not reverse cannabis legalization. However, she did say a Conservative government would, among other things, take a harder line on regulatory enforcement, a softer approach to marketing restrictions for edibles and would consider banning home cultivation outright. What follows are direct transcriptions from Ms. Gladu on what her top cannabis-related priorities would be if she finds herself in cabinet later this year.
There is a real gap in Health Canada enforcing its regulations. Across the country we are hearing of people who either have a medical license that has been combined with other people and they are growing way more plants than they’re allowed. Or they haven’t done anything about the odour so they’re depriving their neighbours of enjoyment of their property because of the skunky smell, or they haven’t taken adequate security precautions. Definitely one of the things Conservatives will do is make sure regulations are enforced.
I don’t accept at the beginning that there are inadequate resources. I think there are lots of inspectors within Health Canada and it is a question of priority. It isn’t as if they need to go find out where there are concerns. People are forwarding letters through me to the head of Health Canada saying look at these locations, the police are saying they are not there to enforce Health Canada regulations but honestly, Health Canada is not responding to those things.
PREFERENCE FOR SUPPORTING LARGER PLAYERS OVER CRAFT GROWERS
The people who are large in this business, Canopy Growth and Tilray and Aurora, these are people who are adhering to the regulations, mitigating the odour, putting security in place, so the government is recognizing [through the cannabis licensing changes Health Canada announced last week] it would be better to have more of those and less of the, shall we say, one-stop cowboy that wants to put up a steel frame with plastic bags that doesn’t meet the regulations. Who is going to invest millions of dollars in a plant with no government certainty on licensing? I think that clearly was an error in judgement on the part of the current government. I think though, the intent to try to focus on those people that will obey the regulations, that is a good intent. There are multiple ways to get there and I think we do not want to exclude small craft growers, but why punish those that are paying the rules?
We don’t want to discourage small businesses, but on the other hand we have to balance that with the rights of the neighbours and the owners of property to have their rights protected. I think there is a sweet spot in the middle where you can encourage small craft growers, but let’s face it many of them have been operating illegally and have not been prevented from continuing to operate illegally.
Colorado five years down the road still has not gotten rid of organized crime, mostly due to the fact that they allowed for home growing and so they have huge issues with that. Washington state did it better – they took their medicinal marijuana system and extended that to recreational and they were able to reduce organized crime to less than 20 per cent of the market. We would definitely look at [changing the home grow rules]. This is an area where real estate folks are concerned about the mould that may be growing in people’s houses and who is responsible for paying for the audit that is needed before you can sell that property? There are people that own property that do not want their tenants to be growing marijuana in their property and they don’t have any rights under this current legislation. There is more to be done in that area. The federal government essentially gave everyone an individual right to grow [cannabis] in their home and there have been multiple people who are not happy about that. We’ve had the Indigenous people say that some of their nations want the ability to not allow anyone to grow.
FEWER PACKAGING RESTRICTIONS FOR INFUSED FOODS AND DRINKS
We need to learn from those that have already legalized edibles. We are [about to] come out with products that may not be competitive to the organized crime market that is already in place and has beautiful graphics and much higher levels of THC in their edibles, so you have to have a competitive offering. If you’re only allowing people to create edibles that are in plain white packaging that have a much lower dosage, will that be competitive in eliminating the organized crime market? I think that is a question that remains to be answered but it is certainly something we are going to be watching. The reality is, the government is trying to be well-intentioned about making sure it doesn’t fall into the hands of children but it is 30 per cent of the market today, it is being accessed by children. I think we need to not be naive and recognize that these products… when the competition is at a certain level and you’re trying to compete, you can’t do that with a less competitive offering.
MORE FOCUS ON ADVANCING LEGALIZATION GLOBALLY
There is really, still, a lot of border-crossing anxiety. We should be speaking more to our neighbours to the south and we should probably be having conversations with the United Nations because [legalization here] did break three treaties we have with them and I think there is an appetite in the world to update those treaties to reflect the change in world perspective on this issue. Those are steps as well that we would take. [Q: Are our diplomats not already doing that?] Jane Philpott when she was in the role was doing that role on the world stage with the UN on this file but then Bill Blair who took the file over has been, shall we say, distracted by the asylum-seeker issue and so hasn’t really done anything there.
Source: Globe and Mail.
JAMESON BERKOW – CANNABIS INDUSTRY REPORTER
PUBLISHED MAY 7, 2019
OTTAWA, May 8, 2019 /CNW/ – Health Canada is introducing changes to align the approach to cannabis licensing with the approach for other regulated sectors, such as pharmaceuticals.
Effective immediately, Health Canada will require new applicants for licences to cultivate cannabis, process cannabis, or sell cannabis for medical purposes to have a fully built site that meets all the requirements of the Cannabis Regulations at the time of their application, as well as satisfying other application criteria.
With respect to existing applications, Health Canada will complete a high-level review of applications currently in the queue. If the application passes this review, the Department will provide a status update letter to the applicant, indicating that it has no concerns with what is proposed in the application. Once the applicant has a completed site that meets the regulatory requirements, the Department will review the application in detail, in priority based on the original application date.
Health Canada is implementing these adjustments following a review of its current licensing process, which identified opportunities to better allocate resources. For example, more than 70% of applicants who successfully passed Health Canada’s initial paper-based review of their application over the past three years have not yet submitted their evidence package to demonstrate to the Department that they have a built facility that meets the regulatory requirements. As a result, a significant amount of resources are being used to review applications from entities that are not ready to begin operations, contributing to wait times for more mature applications and an inefficient allocation of resources.
To support applicants, Health Canada has made available additional guidance on the licence application process and on the regulatory requirements regarding Good Production Practices and physical security measures. The Department is also working to establish service standards for the review of applications, which will increase predictability for applicants. Health Canada will continue to provide enhanced support to Indigenous-affiliated applicants through its Indigenous Navigator Service. It will also implement additional measures to support applicants applying for a micro-class licence.
These changes are part of Health Canada’s commitment to the continuous improvement of its administration of the cannabis licensing program. Building on changes made in 2017 and 2018, the new approach responds to feedback from applicants about the time it can take to become licensed and the fact that there is now a larger number of applicants seeking to enter a growing and maturing legal market.
Since the changes in May 2017, Health Canada has licensed more than 129 new sites—nearly triple the number of sites licensed in the four years prior. There are now more than 600,000 square metres of space under active cultivation. Based on standard industry averages, this is enough cultivation space to produce approximately 1,000,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, which is roughly equivalent to independent estimates of the total cannabis (legal and illegal) consumed in Canada.
There are no changes to the regulatory requirements, including the rigorous security clearance process for key personnel and corporate directors. Furthermore, Health Canada will continue to inspect all facilities before a licence to sell products to the public is issued.
Health Canada will continue to work closely with new and existing licence applicants to ensure that they are aware of the new application requirements.
SOURCE Health Canada
For further information: Health Canada, Media Relations, 613-957-2983, [email protected]; Public Inquiries, 613-957-2991, 1-866-225-0709
On the eighth episode of The Fear of Science, hosts Jeff Porter and Daniel Chai talk about weed and weed culture with Terry Roycroft CEO of MCRCI and comedian Kyle Bottom. Find out what has changed after legalization in Canada and the advances in medicinal marijuana science.
‘The Fear of Weed’
Voting is NOW OPEN for the 2018 Canadian Cannabis Awards!
We are pleased to say the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre has been nominated as Top Clinic!
It is now up to our wonderful patients to help us win!
Go to: https://canadiancannabisawards.com/vote/
Under the ‘Products & Places’ category, select ‘Top Clinic’
Click ‘Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc.’
We want to thank each and every one of you for supporting us throughout the years.
Looking forward to many more years of assisting patients!
Winners will be announced at the CCA Gala on November 29, 2018 and posted online November 30, 2018!
The Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. is now open in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
MCRCI is now coast to coast across Canada after having opened our doors in Halifax.
We are excited to have the opportunity to assist patients on the East Coast offering our education and guidance in medicinal cannabis and Health Canada’s Access to Medicinal Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program.
MCRCI began our commitment to helping patients in 2010 opening our first location in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Since then we have been able to open our doors into 2 more BC cities, Vernon and Kamloops allowing us to help patients in the Okanagan Valley and surrounding areas.
Our move to Halifax has been something that we have been working toward since our initial opening in 2010. We are very proud to now have our feet on the ground on the East Coast! After spending time in Nova Scotia, our team has met wonderful individuals who we believe are a great representation of the patients we will be meeting moving forward.
We encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about cannabis as a medicine to contact us at our new Halifax location:
128 – 1535 Dresden Row
Phone: 902 405 5553
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 902 417 1413
Information released July 2018
For the full PDF version, please follow this link: Complete Provincial Breakdown for Cannabis Regulations – July 2018
Now here’s a study Canadian lawmakers should read as they consider Bill C46, which seeks to amend the Criminal Code with respect to drug-impaired driving.
A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that states with legalized recreational cannabis do not have a greater rate of car accident deaths than states where cannabis is illegal.
Conducted by doctors and researchers from the University of Texas-Austin and Rice University, the study compared car accident fatalities in Colorado and Washington, where cannabis is legal, to similar data from eight control states where the drug is still prohibited.
Researchers used a federal fatality reporting system to determine the annual number of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents over six years, between 2009 and 2015, in the 10 states.
By comparing year-over-year changes, they found that the number of fatalities did not increase after recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado and Washington, and was consistent with the number of deaths in the eight control states.
“This is the first time researchers have actually looked at the real-life effects to see if there have been any major population changes in injuries on the road after marijuana was legalized in these states,” lead study author Jayson Aydelotte told KTVU News in Austin last month.
In both Colorado and Washington, drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per millilitre in their bloodstream can be prosecuted for driving under the influence. Some marijuana lobbyists claim this is far too low, as frequent cannabis users can have residual amounts of THC in their bloodstream well above five nanograms—and for days after consumption.
Others argue the amount is too high, especially because the numbers determined are based on policy, instead of evidence of impairment.
Bill C46 currently outlines a limit of just two nanograms of THC per millilitre.
To put that in context, Canadian Olympian Ross Rebagliati won the gold medal for snowboarding in 1998 with more than eight times than what the federal government has suggested, at 17.8 nanograms per millilitre.
Sourced from The Georgia Straight, by Amanda Siebert on July 28th, 2017 at 11:00 AM
As recreational cannabis legalization draws closer, some companies are missing the mark when it comes to employer training.
Last Friday, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade hosted ‘Cannabis in the Workplace’—a discussion to address employer concerns regarding the changes to federal and provincial laws.
With a two-hour time limit, the event set out to answer the not-so-simple question: “What do employers need to be considering and how do they need to be preparing now for legal cannabis and the workplace?”
It’s important to note that while medical cannabis has been legal for nearly two decades, the number of Canadians now registered in the federal program has shot up to over 230,000, leaving employers scrambling to update their policies and educate supervisors.
Barring a few pot quips and iterations of uncertainty, the conference fell dramatically short of providing much clarity. What could have been an opportunity to outline cannabis-specific policy changes and accommodations for employees with medical prescriptions, dissolved quickly into a vague Q & A period urging employers to turn their focus toward risk mitigation and potential lawsuits.
To clarify the details, keynote speaker Solicitor General Mike Farnworth opened the luncheon with a bullet point overview of the new regulatory framework, in which he made it very clear that there will be zero tolerance for impairment in the workplace. “Employees have a duty to come to work sober and nothing about cannabis legalization will change that,” he said. The term ‘impairment’ stuck and dictated the conversation throughout the remaining panel discussion.
Right out of the gate, Dave Earle, CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, reaffirmed employer attention needs to stay on the issue of cannabis abuse in the workplace. “For employers that don’t believe you have a substance use issue in your workplace, I’m going to break it to you…you do,” he said.
While impairment is absolutely a pressing concern, especially in safety sensitive work environments, most of the policies the panel went on to address already exist to tackle substances like alcohol or prescription medication, even cannabis.
Taking on the human rights angle, Cindy Zheng, a lawyer with McQuarrie Hunter LLP, warned employers of potential violations where underlying medical conditions exist. It seemed the conversation was about to take the right turn, but after continuously linking cannabis with cocaine and alcohol, however, she failed to specifically address what it means to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship—the threshold set by the B.C. Human Rights Legislation.
Zheng went on to suggest employers fall back on existing alcohol and tobacco policies, until, that is, they run into discrepancies.
“We would recommend an outright prohibition on site,” she says. Later adding, “if there is a distinction, and I’m not saying there should be, but if there is, make sure you have an articulate and reasonable basis for that distinct treatment of cannabis.”
Excluding the fundamental distinction that should be made from a medical standpoint, the number of reasons to encourage employers to understand the difference between alcohol and cannabis are seemingly endless. Let’s start with addiction rates, behavioural tendencies and overall health implications, and see if we can find a “reasonable basis” somewhere in there.
Mike Kilgallin, a partner at Rober Greyell LLP, urged employers use their own judgement when it comes to swift action, or at least until science provides a more suitable alternative.
“While we may not be able to definitively prove somebody is impaired, we want to say “there is a risk” and we want to remove [that individual] from the workplace,” says Kilgallin.
“There are going to be a lot of level-headed employees who are going to understand [expectations] and who are going to not turn the lunch room into a hotbox,” Kilgallin added. “Focus on the small few, the ones who create problems.”
It wasn’t made clear if the trouble-makers he was referring to included medical cannabis patients or just potheads who now felt empowered by the new legislation to get stoned mid-shift. One would assume the latter, but since there was hardly any reference throughout the entire conversation to dealing with medical users, it was hard to tell.
One quick-fix posed by the panelists was the integration of a self-disclosure policy. Employees would be encouraged to go on record with their addiction and dependency issues in order to protect themselves and the company. The idea here is that if the issue is not disclosed pre-incident, they would not be entitled to safeguards like rehabilitation and graduated reintegration programs.
CEO of the Medical Cannabis Resource Centre Inc., Terry Roycroft, suggests this policy, made infamous by a lawsuit won by Elk Valley Coal in Alberta last year, won’t do much when it comes to cannabis. “That would be a very difficult thing to ask,” says Roycroft. “Most people aren’t going to consider even high recreational use an addiction.”
Roycroft, who is now in the process of helping several patients apply for cannabis coverage under their workplace medical insurance, says that companies have several options to work with their employees.
“There are products that can be prescribed by a doctor that will not get them impaired,” says Roycroft. Going one step further, one of the areas MCRCI specializes in is creating specific healthcare programs for individuals based on their condition and day-to-day demands. “We can work with their HR departments […] and make recommendations of when they could use psychoactive THC and when they would be safe to go back to work or safe to drive after that usage.”
Unfortunately, it seems some companies still have a long way to go before understanding the dire need to work with their employees in this new cannabis-friendly country. “Medical marijuana is just another substance,” said Earle. “You have to treat it like any other substance.” If that’s the level from which employers are to start their education, it will be a long and treacherous journey to a new workplace culture.
by Piper Courtenay on March 10th, 2018 at 10:00 AM
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.