Tag: Laws

Ontario Hypes Penalties for High Driving While Awaiting a Reliable Test

It’s one of the loudest talking points among those who dread Canada’s impending legalization of cannabis: How will law enforcement handle the presumed influx of high drivers soon to be flooding Canadian roads?

On Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke publicly on the topic, announcing enhanced penalties for those caught operating motor vehicles under the influence of cannabis, with the harshest penalties reserved for young drivers, novice drivers, and commercial drivers.

“We had a goal to balance the new freedom that people in Ontario will have to use cannabis recreationally with everyone’s expectation that it will be managed responsibly,” said Wynne.

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Specifics of the upped penalties come from the Canadian Press, which reports young and novice drivers (with a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence) caught driving high will face licence suspensions of three to 30 days and fines between $250 to $450. Similar fines await operators of commercial vehicles found driving high, along with three-day licence suspensions.

“Overall, under the proposed changes any driver who registers a fail on a roadside screening device would be fined anywhere from $250 to $450,” reports the Canadian Press. “The current fine is $198. Drivers who refuse to provide a sample for a roadside test face a $550 fine under the proposed law, up from the current $198 fine.”

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The perennial problem with tracking high driving: Authorities still lack a reliable roadside test for cannabis impairment, primarily due to cannabis’s ability to remain detectable in bloodstreams days and even weeks after impairment has waned.

The proposed best hope: oral test strips, which would examine THC levels in saliva and are currently awaiting approval by the federal government. (However, as the Toronto Star notes cryptically, “It’s unclear how effective they will be in cold weather.”)

As always, stay tuned.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

“Exchanging Prohibition for Extreme Regulation”: Toronto Braces for New Cannabis Reality

A month before Project Claudia began, Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would introduce legalization legislation in the spring of 2017.

On the heels of this announcement, the dispensary market in Toronto, which had previously been operating in relative obscurity for decades, exploded. “There was this little period where I promise you it felt like cannabis was legal in Toronto,” says Cory Thompson, who owns two dispensaries in the city. “There was this overall feeling that cannabis was legal in Canada. Like quasi. It’s coming. We’re there. It’s all good. Then boom. The raids start. They start swarming all the dispensaries.”

“I wanted to be a patient and patient provider at the table but they aren’t even listening to us.”

dispensary owner and MMJ patient Cory Thompson

Thompson has multiple sclerosis and in 2012, while confined to a wheelchair, he began studying the medical potential of cannabis. Intrigued, he sought out a compassion club which secured him affordable access to the plant. He purchased a pound of bud, turned it into oil, and a few days later, his big toe moved. He skipped his next doctor’s appointment. Three weeks later, he was out of the wheelchair and moving with the assistance of a walker.

During his recovery, Thompson had to travel long distances to pick up his medicine, making trips that were often difficult and exhausting. It was enough to push him into business. With a partner, he opened a compassion club of his own, with reduced prices for medical patients. After a few years of operation, the club was raided and shut down.

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“It’s frustrating,” he says. “If you want weed you can go get it but if you want medicine, and you need it at an affordable rate, what I call dignified access, that’s few and far between.”

For the time being, Thompson is optimistic that his dispensaries will remain open. He is extremely thorough with his client screening, checking paperwork and medical records and calling doctors, but he’s not sure what the future holds. The threat of robbery or raid, Thompson says, even for those doing their due diligence, is a thought that never really goes away.

“It’s fucking trying, man. It’s not what I signed up for. I thought we were going to get regulated. I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be a voice for the future, for regulation, for patients voices to be heard.

“I wanted to be a patient and patient provider at the table but they aren’t even listening to us.”

Shocking News from Ontario

(John Hryniuk for Leafly)

Last week, things got worse for dispensary owners. The Ontario government unveiled their plan for legalization. The province intends to restrict sales of legal cannabis to 150 government-run stores and a government-run website. Like vermin, the independent dispensaries will be eradicated.

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Almost immediately, the announcement prompted anger and disappointment. “Prohibition is not being lifted,” Harris says, “They are exchanging prohibition with extreme regulation.”

“This is a tyrannical plan from the provincial government,” says Jack Lloyd, a Toronto-based cannabis lawyer. “It’s a ridiculous plan and it doesn’t respect the cannabis culture that exists. It doesn’t respect the cannabis community that exists. It’s an attempt to deracinate our entire community and it doesn’t respect patients’ rights.”

Lloyd is not interested in the recreational side of the issue. The government can have that, he says, “but medical cannabis dispensaries are vital and patients deserve to be able to go to a storefront dispensary to be able to access their medicine.”

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“Prohibition is not being lifted. They are exchanging prohibition with extreme regulation.”

dispensary owner Trevor Harris

Last month, in Ontario Superior Court, Lloyd argued that dispensaries cannot be prohibited from operating when the government’s current medical cannabis system is broken and can’t keep up with demand. He was fighting on behalf of the Hamilton Village Dispensary, which had been ordered to shut down by the City of Hamilton. The judge sided with Lloyd, ruling that the dispensary could stay open as long as they were supplying medical cannabis to patients with a valid prescription.

A similar case will be before the courts next week in Toronto. What happens there will impact how the city handles dispensaries moving forward. “If they win there, the city is going to be forced to license them,” Lloyd says. “This is the big fight.”

Paul Lewin is one of the lawyers involved in that case and, like Lloyd, he’s frustrated by the proposed Ontario regulations.

“This plan is not very popular across a large part of the cannabis community,” he says. “[The dispensaries] are going to be driven further underground, which of course makes things less safe for Toronto. Prohibition has that effect, you drive industry further underground. So instead of well-lit stores on main streets in which they are security guards and tested products, it’s a little more old-school, which is a little less safe, but I don’t think they’re going away. The cannabis community has suffered through 100 years of prohibition and they are resilient.”

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Lewin, who represented many of the employees who were caught up in Project Claudia, says that the raids disproportionately affect young working Canadians.

“These are very serious charges that are being laid against these young people,” he says, “Some of whom were having a hard time finding a job, some who are medical patients and have great sympathy for other medical patients and have valuable knowledge and skills. They are facing very serious jeopardy. They are still Harper-era mandatory minimums on the books. I think it’s really irresponsible to be using the criminal law in this way.”

It is difficult to identify the motivating force behind the raids, though they are some popular theories.

(John Hryniuk for Leafly)

“I think it’s being pushed by higher ups,” says Paul Lewin. “I can tell you that many cops are not very excited about these raids and realize that it’s really a very low policing priority. This is being pushed from above. Dispensaries have been operating openly in Toronto for about 20 years and no one cared too much about them until we started to get closer to legalization. Ironically, it’s on the eve of legalization, when the government announces their plans for legal cannabis, that they want to launch an enforcement summit to shut down dispensaries? They’re most concerned now? When it’s about to be legal? Which really tells you what their priorities about. They’ve got this public health fig leaf that they are trying to hold up but it’s not about public health, it’s about them making money and protecting their turf.”

“It reeks of cronyism. (LPs) are using the police to enforce their business plan. It’s terrifying.”

cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd

Some point to Canada’s licensed producers (LPs), the federally approved growing operations whose relationship with the dispensaries is acrimonious, at best. Many of the LPs are staffed with board members with political ties and individuals who were once waging the war on cannabis and are now putting themselves in a position to cash in once legalization arrives.

Former Toronto Police chief Bill Blair is handling the legalization file for Trudeau’s government. Kim Derry, who served as deputy chief under Blair, is the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario. Former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman is also employed by the company. Canopy Growth, the largest publicly-traded medical marijuana company in Canada, was founded by Chuck Rifici while he was CFO of the Liberal Party of Canada.

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“It reeks of cronyism,” Lloyd says. “The problem is they are using the police to enforce their business plan. It’s terrifying, to be frank. And mark my words they are going to go through and arrest literally hundreds of Canadians under the age of 25, who believe in the cannabis plant and work in this world and really would never have anything to do, or never have any interaction otherwise, with criminal law.

“They could have very easily, simply licensed all the existing dispensaries and that would have solved this problem. Instead, they’ve elected to declare war on a group of political activists, moderate civil disobedient activists, cannabis enthusiasts and cannabis legalization activists. They are just arresting the culture. To say that it’s draconian is an understatement.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

The Cole Memo: What Is It and What Does It Mean?

“The Cole Memo” is a phrase that often comes up when discussing cannabis and politics, but many people, even more knowledgeable cannabis consumers, aren’t entirely sure what it is or what it means for the cannabis industry.

What Is the Cole Memo?

In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis for adult use. By August 2013, both states were deep in the process of drafting rules and regulations for the nascent industry. With the new state laws at odds with federal law in an entirely unprecedented way, state attorneys looked to the federal government for guidance.

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The Cole Memo was a document originally drafted by former US Attorney General James M. Cole in 2013. Cole issued a memorandum to all US attorneys that was published through the Department of Justice on August 29, 2013. The memo indicated that prosecutors and law enforcement should focus only on the following priorities related to state-legal cannabis operations:

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

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It was modeled after a similar memorandum issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in 2009 that directing US attorneys to “not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

The Cole Memo represented a significant shift in the federal government to de-prioritize the use of funds to enforce cannabis prohibition under the Controlled Substances Act towards a more laissez-faire, hands-off approach.

After the memo was issued, most federal prosecutions were halted unless they met the listed criteria. A notable exception was the case of the Kettle Falls Five, a family that relied on cultivating medical cannabis as part of a collective garden in Washington state in 2015. The family was cultivating plants for five patients, but the plant number exceeded the 45-plant limit. After firearms were found on their property, the entire family faced five federal drug charges, of which four were dismissed.

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Since the issuance of the memo, federal cannabis prosecutions have petered off in legal states. In August 2017, the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety appointed by Jeff Sessions found no new policy suggestions, and its report stated that officials should continue to oppose rules that block the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Michigan to MMJ Dispensaries: Close by Dec. 15 or Risk Licensure

BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan on Wednesday gave medical marijuana businesses until Dec. 15 to close or potentially risk not obtaining a license under a new regulatory system aimed at increasing oversight and imposing new taxes on the industry.

The decision means registered patients will have to grow their own cannabis or obtain it from caregivers — as allowed for under existing law — until the state issues the licenses, likely in the first quarter of next year. It will accept license applications starting Dec. 15.

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After learning of the decision, a new state licensing board dropped a member’s proposal to tell shops they would not get a license if they stayed open beyond this Friday — which had been blasted by patients, shop owners and others. They expressed concern, however, with the new deadline as well, questioning how some patients will buy their marijuana.

“Continued operation is a business risk as they may be shut down by law enforcement or denied licensure.“

Andrew Brisbo, MMJ bureau director

The dispensaries — which are not explicitly addressed under a 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana laws — have gone unchecked in some municipalities and have been blocked in others under a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that questioned their legality.

A five-tiered licensing system is being developed under a 2016 law that further regulates medical marijuana. It will impose a new tax and establish licenses to grow, process, sell, transport or test marijuana.

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Andrew Brisbo, director of the state’s medical marijuana bureau, said dispensaries still open after Dec. 15 will face a “potential impediment to licensure.” Three months affords enough time for existing operations to wind down their affairs and for patients to connect with caregivers, he said.

“The department will not shut down facilities,” Brisbo said. “However, continued operation is a business risk as they may be shut down by law enforcement or denied licensure.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Iowa AG Tells Agency to Halt Portion of Medical Marijuana Law

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An unusual attempt by Iowa to work with another state to transport medical marijuana oil across state lines is on hold amid legal concerns it could invite scrutiny from the federal government.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office advised the Iowa Department of Public Health this month that it should not implement a small section in Iowa’s new medical marijuana law that requires the state, before the end of the year, to license up to two “out-of-state” dispensaries from a bordering state. Those entities would have been expected to bring cannabis oil into Iowa in order to sell it.

That’s considered illegal under federal law, which categorizes marijuana as a type of controlled substance that is prohibited from being moved across state lines. But during the final hours of the legislative session in April, some Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature suggested adding the language to open the door for a partnership with a neighboring state like Minnesota.

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The development is not expected to impact other provisions in the law that call for establishing an in-state production system for cannabis oil by the end of 2018. Still, some GOP lawmakers expressed frustration with the news because the provision was also aimed at creating more immediate access to cannabis oil. Currently, Iowans have no way of getting the product within the state.

“If that provision doesn’t work out, then people will have to wait another year, and that’s disappointing.”

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, noted in a statement that no matter what the Legislature had decided, the state still would have been in violation of federal law.

“As I’ve said before, the federal government needs to act on this issue or let the states do their work,” she said, adding, “The out-of-state distributors are the quickest way to supply sick Iowans with a product that doctors say could be beneficial. If that provision doesn’t work out, then people will have to wait another year, and that’s disappointing.”

At least 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Possessing, manufacturing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In 2013, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum offering assurance that states could proceed with medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution, in part by avoiding agreements that would move marijuana from one state to another.

“This is just another example of lawmakers overcomplicating something for the sake of overcomplicating it.”

Justin Strekal, NORML political director

Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in an email that if a state program authorizes or encourages diversion from one state to another, “it is possible that state’s program may come under increased scrutiny from the federal government.” He said the halt on implementation should remain “until the federal government provides further guidance regarding state medical marijuana programs.”

Justin Strekal, political director for the pro-marijuana group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as NORML, said few states have attempted what Iowa tried to do, though data is limited.

“This is just another example of lawmakers overcomplicating something for the sake of overcomplicating it, rather than implementing a system that actually serves their constituents,” he said.

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It’s unclear how President Donald Trump’s administration will deal with medical marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned marijuana is a dangerous drug and said he’d reconsider existing marijuana policies.

Sally Gaer, of West Des Moines, has lobbied for years for Iowa to allow more access to medical marijuana. Gaer, whose adult daughter uses cannabis oil, said lawmakers could have put Iowa’s medical marijuana program in jeopardy by adding the language.

“I’m so frustrated with this,” she said.

The out-of-state dispensaries provision is tucked into the second-to-last page of a 20-page law, and is separate from requirements that Iowa license up to two cannabis oil manufacturers in Iowa and up to five dispensaries to sell it in-state. The oil would be supplied in Iowa by the end of 2018. Smoking marijuana remains prohibited.

If state attorneys had decided out-of-state dispensaries must be licensed, it could have worsened an already tight timeline for launching the overall program. A new medical marijuana board met last week to help with requirements that Iowa license its manufacturers by December. The dispensaries must be licensed by April.

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Rep. Jarad Klein, who was floor manager for the medical marijuana legislation that became law, was surprised to learn the provision on the out-of-state dispensaries wasn’t moving forward. He said he would seek guidance from Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was lieutenant governor when the law was passed.

Klein, a Keota Republican, emphasized Upmeyer’s point that the setup was aimed at ensuring that while the in-state production system gets up and running, people could access cannabis oil.

“Between now and us having that, sick people need their medicine,” he said.

A Reynolds spokesman referred all questions to the public health department.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Some days, I wish I did.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Here’s How Canada Could Decriminalize Marijuana Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Vermont’s Supreme Court to Consider Cannabis ‘Sniff Test’

Vermont’s highest court is set to consider a case involving whether the simple smell of cannabis constitutes legal grounds to search and seize a driver’s vehicle.

In 2014, police in Vermont pulled over driver Greg Zullo, claiming his license plate was partially obscured by snow. After approaching Zullo’s car, a state trooper claimed he could smell cannabis and asked to search the vehicle. Zullo refused. So the trooper seized the car and towed it—leaving Zullo stranded eight miles from home in the dead of winter.

The stop has already cost trooper Lewis Hatch his job. “You have again placed your personal pursuit of drug detection above all else, including your duty to follow orders and your duty to properly and thoroughly document objective legal justification for your actions,” Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn wrote in a letter to Hatch five months before the officer was fired, relying on documents indicating Hatch had a history of conducting illegal searches.

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Infographic: Know Your Rights When Driving With Cannabis

Now, in a case that could set sweeping precedent statewide, the Vermont Supreme Court will consider whether the stop was warranted—and whether the simple smell of cannabis can justify a search.

The case also turns on race. The ACLU of Vermont is representing Zullo, who is black, and argues the traffic stop was motivated at least in part by the color of his skin. A snow-obscured license plate isn’t a violation that allows officers to pull over a driver in Vermont, and studies—including some out of Vermont—have found that black men in particular are more likely than others to be searched after traffic stops.

“We question why the officer choose this particular car to pull over when almost every single car would have been in the same situation. The one difference that stands out is Greg’s race,” Lia Ernst, an ACLU attorney representing Zullo, told the website VTDigger in May. And Mark Davis, a reporter at Seven Days who’s been following the case, told Vermont Public Radio that Hatch, the former trooper, appeared to have a history of disproportionately targeting black men.

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Zullo, who was 21 at the time of the stop, was left to pay a $150 towing fee. When authorities eventually searched the vehicle, according to the lawsuit, they found a grinder and a pipe that police said contained cannabis residue. Zullo was never ticketed or charged with a crime.

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After the suit was initially filed, Superior Court Judge Helen Toor ruled against Zullo, writing that the smell of cannabis alone—a so-called sniff test—does indeed provide probable cause to search a vehicle. “Vermont’s decriminalization statute explicitly states that it leaves unchanged marijuana’s ability to furnish probable cause,” she wrote. “The national consensus is that the mere smell of marijuana supports probable cause.”

In response, the ACLU appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor established the “plain smell doctrine” in a 1982 opinion involving a traffic stop. The officer smelled cannabis on the driver, which led to a search of his car and the discovery of cannabis in the trunk.

O’Connor’s opinion in that 1982 case, United States v. Haley, didn’t establish the plain small doctrine nationwide. The court left it open to each state to adopt or dismiss the doctrine.

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In many states, court precedent has indeed maintained that the smell of cannabis suffices as probable cause. Others, including Michigan and Montana, have expressly rejected it.

And as laws change, more states are beginning to second-guess the rule. In Colorado, for example, an appeals court recently held that the smell of cannabis alone isn’t enough to justify a vehicle search. Courts in Arizona and California have issued similar opinions, although in July 2016 the Arizona Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s opinion and reaffirmed that smell alone could justify a search in that state.

A ruling in the Vermont case isn’t expected until at least next year.


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How to Get a “Social Marijuana Use” License in Denver

On November 8, 2016, Denver voters passed Initiative 300, which directed city officials to create a four-year pilot study for what would be the United States’ first social marijuana consumption program. Such a program would allow Denver businesses and event planners to apply for licenses to allow public consumption of cannabis at everything from yoga studios to coffee shops to street fairs.

Since then, city officials have worked to bring the pilot study into existence while citizens have fretted over specifics. “Will the newly adopted regulations for the first-in-the-nation ‘social use’ program provide measured protection for patrons and neighbors of businesses that take part, as city officials say?” asked the Denver Post on June 30. “Or are the rules for consumption areas so restrictive that few businesses and event organizers will want to bother?”

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This week Denver officially opened the application process for “Designated Consumption Area” licenses. To answer the Post’s question about whether the rules will protect communities or repel applicants, it appears to be a little from column A and a fair amount from column B.

For those interested in applying for a Designated Consumption Area (DCA) license, here’s your non-exhaustive to-do list.

Complete Your Application

This may seem like a no-brainer until you realize that a “complete application” includes:

  • A criminal-history records check conducted by the FBI for the applicant AND anyone who owns 5% or more of the entity being proposed to host the DCA
  • A red-lined floor plan showing the location of the designated consumption area within the business
  • Proof that the DCA complies with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act
  • A valid zone-use permit and recent certificate of occupancy for the host venue
  • “Evidence of community support”—specifically, a letter of support (or at least non-opposition) from an eligible neighborhood association, which is defined as “a registered neighborhood organization as defined in the Revised Municipal Code that has been in existence for more than two years”
  • A “responsible operations plan” including a detailed explanation of how employees will monitor and prevent over-intoxication, DUI, underage access, and illegal distribution of cannabis
  • A documented employee-training program addressing all components of the aforementioned responsible operations plan
  • A “community engagement plan” as defined in the Denver Revised Municipal Code
  • An “odor control plan” as provided in the Denver Revised Municipal Code

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Honor the Proximity Restrictions

“No Permit shall be issued within 1,000 feet of any school, child-care establishment, any alcohol or drug treatment facility, or any city-owned recreation center or city-owned outdoor pools,” read the rules, so confirm and document your proximity distances along with your application. Also off-limits for DCA licenses: Any location with a liquor license, and any licensed marijuana establishment. (Which means bars and dispensaries must stay out of the social-smoking game for now.)

Narrow Your Social Dabbing Dreams

The guidelines specifically forbid the use of propane torches at any Designated Consumption Areas, so if you’re going to allow dabbing, it will have to be done with an e-nail.

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Have Money

Every application must be accompanied by a $1,000 application fee.

Good luck, Denver applicants! We’re rooting for you!


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Australian States Split on Medical Cannabis

Access to cannabis for people with terminal illnesses and chronic pain was delayed last week when the New South Wales (NSW) state government blocked a law that would have decriminalized possession of marijuana for those suffering from serious medical conditions.

The legislation, which would have decriminalized possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis in cases where it was being used to treat chronic pain, was introduced by the opposition Labor party and blocked by the majority Liberal Legislative Assembly. Despite the fact that the proposed law grew out of the recommendations of a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into the use of cannabis for medical purposes, no bipartisanship was present when it was voted down.

“By refusing to pass this legislation, the NSW Government has put up an unnecessary hurdle for sufferers of terminal and chronic illnesses.” NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley said in a statement.

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“It is deeply disappointing that the Government has denied legislation that will restore dignity to those people seeking temporary relief from the pain and suffering of their affliction. Those who are suffering from terminal and serious medical conditions deserve sympathy and support—and they should not be treated like a criminal for seeking respite from relentless and unwavering illness,” Foley continued.

“We are particularly concerned that the government has done little to ensure a consistent supply of regulated and affordable product.”

Sen. Lisa Singh, Tasmania

Further south, in the island state of Tasmania, another Labor politician has taken up the cause of medical cannabis in a different way. Sen. Lisa Singh has been campaigning in the senate for a quicker and more consistent cannabis licensing program.

In a speech to the Australian senate last week, Singh urged the government to enable the establishment of the medical cannabis industry in Tasmania. Specifically, she wants to ensure that the global opioid supplier Tasmania Alkaloids (which has partnered with medical cannabis company AusCann) can secure a closed-loop cannabis production chain.

“Closed-loop production is key to a successful Tasmanian medical cannabis industry,” Singh said, “The opportunity to grow, manufacture, and distribute directly from one location alleviates legitimate security concerns.”

Rather than focus solely on patient access issues, Singh is also eager to realise the economic benefits of a thriving medical cannabis industry in her state. “Tasmania is ideally positioned to become a manufacturing base both for the domestic and international markets in medicinal cannabis,” she said, “The Australian domestic market for medicinal cannabis has alone been estimated to be worth AU$100 million a year.”

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“If Tasmania is able to seize the opportunity of becoming a global leader in the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis, then there will be similar substantial economic benefits to reap for my home state like we have from cultivating the world’s legal opium crops,” she said.

But before that economic dream can be achieved, Singh says the federal government needs to develop a more consistent application of its medical cannabis laws across states.

“We are particularly concerned that the government has done little to ensure a consistent supply of regulated and affordable product, or to drive consistency across states on the legal treatment of people currently accessing medicinal cannabis.” Singh told Leafly.

The Tasmanian senator isn’t the only politician taking up the torch for the medical cannabis industry. Victorian Minister of Agriculture and Regional Development Jalaa Pulford recently visited medical cannabis facilities in Canada with CannGroup CEO Peter Crock.

This state-level support for medical cannabis is good news for growers and patients in some parts of Australia, but frustration will continue to rise in states like New South Wales if their governments continue to block efforts to extend compassionate treatment to medical cannabis patients.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.