Tag: Laws

Dear Justin: I Beg Your Pardons

Hello Justin! The holiday season is just a few weeks away, which means it’s time for kindness, love, and most importantly, forgiveness. Ah forgiveness, a healing exchange that dissolves contempt and resentment, unburdening us from the wrongdoing of others.

Your office’s silence on pardons and amnesty for ‘cannabis criminals’ is an action unworthy of your family legacy.

You’ve shown you understand forgiveness, Justin. You’ve begged forgiveness of our Indigenous Peoples, and apologized for Canada’s conviction of those found guilty of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts—a law loosened in 1969 by your father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who historically said, “I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

And yet, despite your understanding of forgiveness, I’m worried you lack the ability to practice it meaningfully. Your office’s silence and side-stepping concerning pardons for cannabis charges and amnesty for those currently convicted or incarcerated for soon-to-be-legal cannabis crimes is an action unworthy of your family legacy.

Earlier this year, Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale said, “The Trudeau government is not considering a blanket pardon for people with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug [marijuana]…It is important to note that as the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected.”

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I realize there’s concern of a cannabis free-for-all gripping our society as we approach July 1, but this is about logic: If a person is arrested in possession of 30 grams of cannabis or less sometime in the next six months, is it really reasonable for that person to be charged? Is ethical or even practical to entangle them in the legal system? And should those convicted and/or currently imprisoned for such a crime—one that will soon be totally legal—really continue to live in a criminalized world? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I’d sure love to know why.

While I’m chasing down explanations, brace yourself for a future interrogation on the newly announced excise tax—a one dollar per gram tax that’ll apply not just to recreational sales but also medical cannabis. Do you seriously want to make it more expensive for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic pain to access their medicine? Are we really that worried about healthy people faking sick to access a legal drug?

62% of Canadians would support a blanket pardon for cannabis possession offences.

Just for fun, let’s project ourselves into the future: The year is 2045, your own child serves as Prime Minister because this is how we choose leaders now. They stand before a media scrum to deliver a heartfelt apology to Canadians whose lives were derailed by cannabis offences, before the drug became legal. I suspect this vision is not Pierre-approved.

Your government’s reluctance to face this issue makes me think they haven’t read the recent Nanos Research poll indicating that 62% of Canadians would support a blanket pardon for cannabis possession offences. That’s 10% higher than your latest approval rating, by the way. So how do you put into practice what we, the people want? Simple, blame it on the scientists.

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Researchers at the C.D Howe Institute released a report asking the government to consider pardons as well as dropping outstanding charges to achieve a practical, sensible goal: to free resources for the legalization process itself. And while we’re at it, C.D Howe also wants you to consider pardoning people who have been convicted for illegal possession of cannabis but have no other convictions, and have not been charged with any other Criminal Code offence. Humane, practical, forward thinking, modern and it saves money? Our next Prime Minister Trudeau would be proud.

Now I’m not a fancy, non-profit think tank, but I would ask that you add streamlining the pardon process to your list of things to consider. As it stands, this is a rigorous (and confusing) application process that can begin only five years after a sentence is completed. This time-served, half-decade hangover effectively makes the road back to employment in our desperate job economy all the more difficult to survive.

The charges are piling up, the legal system continues to bloat beyond its capacity, the law is indeed erroneous, and the time to fix it is now.

I will give you half marks for hinting that your government would look into changing the laws. But you only did it when pressed by a constituent who challenged you face-to-face at an event.

“We will change the law,” you replied. “We are taking the time necessary to get it right. Then we will move forward in a thoughtful way on fixing past wrongs that happened because of this erroneous law that I didn’t put in place and that I’m working hard to fix.”

Justin, the charges are piling up, the legal system continues to bloat beyond its capacity, the law is indeed erroneous, and the time to fix it is now.

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And though cannabis-related offences have been on the decline for the past five years, there were still 55,000 offences in 2016 alone, and about 61,000 in 2015. Without a plan for amnesty and streamlined pardons, Canada faces a great risk: crippling citizens, many of whom are youth, who are simply victims of poor timing and government shortsightedness.

So, this holiday season, instead of dodging the question, you need only stop and ask yourself if you want to be remembered as a leader who will need forgiveness for his unfair actions, or one who applied reason, compassion, and practicality to allow many Canadians to avoid being meaninglessly embroiled in the legal system.

As they say over at C.D Howe, just “consider” it, okay?

Kate


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.

Alberta Will Sell Cannabis Through Private Retailers and a Government Website

The Alberta government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will see private retailers selling cannabis at brick-and-mortar stores and the province conducting online sales starting next July, when the federal government legalizes cannabis for recreational use.

The minimum age for cannabis consumption will be 18 years old.

The provincial government says this hybrid model of sales is a response to the wishes of people who took part in an online consultation and survey.

At a press conference, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said her government has been required to make “a major shift” in a short amount of time. She said the Trudeau government has set “an ambitious deadline” for legalizing recreational cannabis.

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“At the end of the day, we had to choose between moving forward and anticipating that we’ll be ready or just leaving it to the federal government. We felt it would be better to move forward with a framework that reflects Albertans’ concerns and values,” she said.

Some other highlights of Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis:

• The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will obtain and distribute legal cannabis to the private retailers as it now does with alcohol.

• The province has determined that cannabis will not be sold in places that sell tobacco, liquor or pharmaceuticals—but has yet to release details about how the private stores will operate.

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• Smoking or vaping cannabis will be banned in the same public places where smoking is currently banned, including bars and restaurants.

• Consumption of cannabis will also be banned on hospital grounds and in places where children gather, including schools, daycares, pools, playgrounds and sports fields.

• The minimum age for consumption will be 18 years old.

• Adults will be allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis at any given time.

The government has the power to allow cannabis cafes and lounges to exist but there are no plans for that yet.


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.

Quebec’s Cannabis Regulations: 8 Takeaways

On Thursday, Quebec’s Liberal government tabled Bill 157, the legislation outlining the system of sale and distribution for legal cannabis in the province. Though Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois describes it as “an evolving plan” which is “not the end,” since “it is certain we will have to adapt,” some facts about it are now fixed.

A crown corporation will be created to sell cannabis products on behalf of the Government of Quebec.

The purpose of the legislation, reads the text of Bill 157, is “to prevent and reduce cannabis harm in order to protect the health and security of the public and of young persons in particular. The Act also aims to ensure the preservation of the cannabis market’s integrity.” Certainly the law’s ability to do that will be up for debate, as critics are already attacking what they see as the legislation’s faults.

Here are eight of the most important factors introduced by Bill 157.

1. The legal age for consumption of cannabis in Quebec will be 18, which was previously semi-confirmed by Liberal government sources in late September. This is in line with the recommendation of the Canadian Pediatric Society, which acknowledges that THC can be harmful to a child’s brain development, but underlines that the brain develops much less between the ages of 18 and 21.

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2. A crown corporation, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC), will be created to sell cannabis products on behalf of the Government of Quebec. The SQS will be administered as a subsidiary of the Société des Alcohols du Québec (SAQ), which distributes alcohol in the province. However, SAQ storefront outlets primarily sell wine and spirits, since lower-alcohol content beverages (beer, wine, and malt liquor products) are legal for sale in grocery stores and dépanneurs. The SQS will be the sole body permitted to sell cannabis products under law. It will also be the only organization allowed to buy, transport, and store cannabis from licensed commercial producers. No forms of cannabis will be approved for sale privately.

Quebec will begin by opening only 20 cannabis storefronts across the province.

3. Though Quebec has a population of 8.3-million, the SQC will begin by opening only 20 storefront locations across the province for the sale of cannabis. However, cannabis will also be available for sale online, provided that it is delivered by Canada Post and signed for by someone of legal age. By contrast, alcohol is available in 406 SAQ outlet locations across Quebec. Unlike SAQ outlets, the 20 SQC storefront locations will not allow minors to enter. No cannabis products in SQC will be accessible to customers without employees handing them over, and no cannabis products are to be made visible from outside the outlets. Each SQC outlet must install a sign on or close to its door including a warning from the Minister of Health “concerning the harmful effects of cannabis on health.”

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4. While the law does not explicitly outlaw edible cannabis products (in fact acknowledging the possibility of “edible and non-edible” products being subject to government regulation), it does criminalize any attempt to modify the flavour, aroma, or colour of cannabis products. (Au revoir, flavored vape pens.)

5. Despite federal law allowing home-growing of up to four plants of no more than one metre in height, home-growing of cannabis for personal use will remain outlawed in Quebec, and all commercial growing of cannabis will remain illegal except in companies licensed by the government.

Smoking cannabis will be legal in palliative care hospices with designated smoking areas.

6. Smoking or vaping cannabis will be illegal wherever smoking tobacco is illegal under Quebec law, limiting cannabis consumption  more or less to private homes, as well as unenclosed public parks. Also off-limits are obvious locations such as schools and child-care facilities, as well as pubs, taverns, bars, bingo halls, and “enclosed spaces where sports, cultural or artistic activities, or similar activities are held.” However, smoking or vaping cannabis will be legal in palliative care hospices with designated smoking areas. Fines for smoking or vaping cannabis in “an enclosed space” other than a private residence will range from $500 to $1,500, while fines for those who do so in an enclosed space that is also an educational institution or child-care facility will range from $750 to $2,250.

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7. There will be “zero tolerance” for driving under the influence of cannabis. Police will be able to take saliva samples from drivers and potentially impound vehicles for up to 90 days if any presence of cannabis or other drugs is detected in drivers’ saliva. However, there is no ready means available to measure blood-cannabis levels, and recent studies suggest no reliable means exist for exact measures of cannabis intoxication such as are available for alcohol.

Quebec repeated its demand to the federal government to delay the deadline for cannabis legislation at least one more year.

8. On Wednesday, in the leadup to tabling Quebec’s cannabis legislation, the Liberal government of Premier Philippe Couillard repeated its demand to the federal government to delay the deadline for cannabis legislation at least one more year. Health Minister Lucie Charlebois and Finance Minister Carlos Leitao declared that the provincial government would not accept a 50/50 split of cannabis tax revenues with the federal government, and Charlebois argued the two governments needed more time to figure out how to divide cannabis tax revenues. Ottawa previously ignored a similar request by the Quebec government in June.


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.

How to Be High in Las Vegas: Let’s Gamble!

Nov 15-17 brings the annual Marijuana Business Conference to Las Vegas. The huge cannabis industry convention is expected to draw 14,000 guests from all over the world. In advance of MJBizCon—and in celebration of Nevada’s freshly legal recreational cannabis market—Leafly presents a four-part series for cannabis fans ready to make the most of their time in Vegas.

Cannabis and Games of Chance Are Good Old Friends

(mecaleha/iStock)

“It’s not talked about much, but (cannabis) is pretty pervasive in the poker culture.”

Dutch Boyd, three-time World Series of Poker champion

It’s true: Cannabis has been part of the gambling experience for many years for many people, from giggly high folks plugging away at penny slots to the three-time World Series of Poker champion Dutch Boyd.

“It’s not talked about much, but [cannabis] is pretty pervasive in the poker culture,” Boyd told Leafly this summer, happily allowing that both his recent championship and the post-win “Thriller” dance he performed on the casino floor were at least partially inspired by cannabis.

Still, just because cannabis use exists in the gaming world doesn’t mean casinos welcome or allow it. Even with recreational use now legal, cannabis remains forbidden in casinos, which adhere to federal law, which still classifies cannabis as an illegal Schedule I narcotic.

This anti-cannabis stance of casinos isn’t a pose—ask Isaac Dietrich, former CEO of the cannabis news and information site MassRoots, who this summer was removed from the Wynn casino on the supposition that his gambling money was potentially profit from a federally illegal enterprise.

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So what are cannabis-loving gamblers to do? Furtively imbibe somewhere that’s not a casino, then get their discreetly high butts to a gaming floor?

I’m not here to tell you what to do. For that, let’s turn to Christopher Lee Womack, a poker player and licensed cannabis wholesaler in Colorado, who testified to the rightness of combining cards and cannabis in his own life—“It allows me to have an intoxicating buzz while still being able to think clearly”—and offered these tips for cannabis fans interested in exploring Vegas gaming

1. Take a class. “Pretty much every casino offers free classes on gaming basics,” says Womack. “Get real high and take a craps class, or a blackjack class. Classes are usually every morning at 7, 8, and 9 am, and students are sent away with a matched bet of $15-$20 to get themselves started. If it’s been a while since you played a game, go to a class! Casinos want you to gamble, they want you to have fun, and they’re ready to help you do both.”

2. When establishing your highness, stick to energizing, brain-awakening strains. “Stick to your sativas,” Womack says. “They’re gonna keep you calm and aware and relaxed. You just want to have your wits about you, and I find leaning toward the sativa side helps.” Any particular strain he likes for card-playing? “I like Flo. It has a great flavor, great look, great smell, and is just a great bud.”

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3. Set a gambling limit and stick to it. “Being high and gaming, you want to be cautious, you want to be safe,” says Womack. His top recommendation: setting a strict dollar-amount you’re willing to gamble (i.e. willing to lose) and sticking to it. It doesn’t matter if your limit is high or low—what’s important is compliance with a foreordained logical decision, to keep you out of the magical-thinking zone when things go good or bad.

4. Stick to what you know. “You want to have fun while you’re high, so don’t do anything crazy like play a game you’ve never played before,” Womack says. “Don’t go play high limits all of a sudden when you’ve only got $1,000 in your pocket. It’s about entertainment and fun. If you win some money, that’s great.”

5. Get very high and spend $5 in the slot machine of your choice. Christopher Womack has nothing to do with this tip, it is all mine. By some intricate miracle of targeted commerce, Las Vegas is home to 50 million slot machines, the best of which are high-tech multimedia explosions on a theme, and there is literally something for everyone. Love Downton Abbey? Enjoy the official slot machine, featuring looped video clips from the show and a thrilling orchestral swell upon each win. Love Dolly Parton, Sex and the City, Tim McGraw, Ellen DeGeneres, or the 1992 mob comedy My Cousin Vinny? Vegas slot machines have got you covered. And again, set a limit and stick to it. You’re here for fun, not to lose your shirt to a one-armed Real Housewives-themed bandit.


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.

California Releases Emergency Cannabis Regulations

California is racing toward the launch of a state-regulated cannabis market, with sales set to begin Jan. 1 despite a number of unanswered questions.

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On Thursday, with less than a month and a half before the program is slated to be up and running, state regulators unveiled a long-awaited package of emergency rules that will guide the industry through the transition ahead. We’re poring over those documents and will update this page with key takeaways from the newly released guidelines.

Have questions? Let us know in the comment section.

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Emergency Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations

The Bureau of Cannabis Control released the following package of documents on its website:

This story will be updated.


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.

Jury Acquits ‘Nice Guy’ Who Admitted Selling Cannabis to a Cop

Tom McCain is a retired Air Force master sergeant. He is also a retired Georgia peace officer, retiring as the chief deputy of Johnson County. He is now the executive director of Peachtree NORML and fights to end the injustices caused by marijuana arrests in Georgia. He has vowed to end marijuana prohibition in Georgia.


LAURENS COUNTY, GA—Last month I watched a trial jury do the right thing and let a defendant go free—despite the fact that, by the strict letter of the law, the man was guilty. It was an uplifting experience. I want to share it with marijuana reform advocates and anyone else who cares to read it.

I’m elated about it from the perspective of an old cop turned marijuana legalization advocate.

At issue is jury nullification, which occurs when a jury returns a not-guilty verdict despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding.

I’m relating this story from the perspective of my observations as a retired cop who has sat through and participated in hundreds of court proceedings. I’m elated about it from the perspective of an old cop turned marijuana legalization advocate.

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The Case

During late 2012 and early 2013, the Area Criminal Enforcement (ACE) team of the Dublin, Georgia Police Department (DPD) conducted a series of operations targeting street-level drug dealers. A drug enforcement agent out of South Carolina was hired by DPD, and ACE put him to work in an undercover capacity.

The agent created a cover character called “Luis,” an electrical worker, according to court documents. DPD purchased an old beater vehicle and loaded it up with spools of electrical wire and tools to solidify the cover. Then they sent Luis out to drive through the neighborhoods of Dublin, GA, in hopes of getting illicit drug dealers to interact with him. He was equipped with a Bluetooth earpiece with a camera to record the interactions.

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During the operation, Luis made two transactions with defendant Antonio Willis, who was later arrested in a roundup of everyone from whom Luis had bought drugs.

The Jury

Jury selection started with 42 Laurens County citizens. The prosecutor asked if anyone thought marijuana should be legal. Six of the potential jurors said yes. The prosecutor, who had the ability to throw out nine potential jurors, threw out all six.

The final jury was composed of six white jurors and six black jurors, and included the son of a Dublin detective and the mother of a Laurens County sheriff’s deputy.

Prosecution and Evidence

The case finally came to trial nearly five years after the first alleged sale. The prosecutor presented three witnesses; Sgt. Eric Roland, who was the lead supervisor of the operation; Cpl. D.J. Flores, aka “Luis”, the undercover agent; and Sgt. Brian Scott, who tested the marijuana.

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Both Roland and Flores testified that, during the operation, Roland was within a half-mile or so from other officers and stayed in touch through an open cell phone line. In the first alleged buy, the earpiece’s camera and audio malfunctioned, leaving no visual or audio evidence of the transaction. Both Roland and Flores testified from field notes and incident reports in the first transaction, and their testimonies regarding the first transaction were largely consistent. Later testimony, however, would cast doubt on whether or not it was actually Luis’s first contact with the defendant.

In the second transaction, video and audio from the earpiece shows Antonio Willis taking money from Luis at a mobile home park, getting on a bicycle, riding off into another part of the park, and returning with a small bag of what police determined to be cannabis.

There were no objections to evidence collection procedures or submission into evidence of the video. The cell phone conversations in both of the transactions were either not recorded or at least not introduced into evidence.

All of the officers who testified had 15+ years of experience and testified in a professional manner.

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The Defense

Catherine Bernard, a public defender who also runs a private practice, was assigned to Willis’s case. In her opening statement, she planted the idea of entrapment in the jury’s minds. During her cross-examination of Roland and Flores, she indicated that their methods were sneaky and deceitful. She urged the judge to issue a not-guilty verdict, or at least instruct the jury on how to read the entrapment claim. The judge rejected both efforts.

Bernard was left to present the only evidence she really had: the defendant, Antonio Willis. The judge informed Willis that he was not required to testify in his own defense and that he would be subject to cross-examination by the prosecution. Willis chose to take the stand.

Multiple times during the trial, Willis admitted he had obtained cannabis for Luis.

Willis testified that he had met Luis once before the alleged transactions, at the mailboxes of the mobile home park. He and Luis, he said, had a general kind of conversation. He’d asked Luis—who he thought was, in fact, an electrical worker—about putting a good word in for him with his boss. The story corresponded somewhat with testimony from Flores about his methods for developing rapport with subjects in an operation, but Flores said that interaction with Willis happened during the first, unrecorded transaction.

Asked later about how he met Willis, Flores didn’t deny meeting him by the mailboxes prior to the transactions. He said only: “Not that I recall.”

Flores also testified that the first thing out of Willis’s mouth during the second transaction was “How much do you need?” Willis contradicted that, saying the first thing he asked about was a job.

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Bernard then asked that the video of the transaction be replayed. In it, the first question Willis asks when he exits his home to meet Luis was, “Hey, did you talk to your boss about that job?” It directly contradicted the testimony of Flores.

Multiple times during the trial, Willis admitted he had obtained cannabis for Luis. At one point he said something to the effect of, “I’m a nice guy. I’d probably do it for anyone who needed it.”

Closing Arguments

While Bernard was barred from bringing up entrapment during her closing remarks, she pointed out the inconsistencies in Flores’ testimony.

The prosecution, for its part, argued that there was video evidence of the crime—and that the defendant himself admitted guilt. As part of the closing, the prosecutor ranted about the dangers of cannabis use, claiming that it leads to property crimes and the use of other drugs.

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The Verdict

Just 18 minutes later, the jury returned a not-guilty verdict on both counts.

Disclaimer and Personal Observations

These are my recollections of the trial, and this narrative is a synopsis of those recollections. I didn’t take notes other than mental ones.

From a retired cop’s perspective, I thought Willis was cooked. I had seen some skeptical looks from some members of the jury during the testimony from the prosecution’s witnesses, but I thought Willis’s admission that he indeed provided the cannabis would be impossible to overcome.

It is my hope that prospective jury members across the country will recognize that they have the power to nullify the nation’s harsh and wrongheaded cannabis laws.

The jury’s return after only 18 minutes reinforced that belief. Guilty verdicts sometimes come quickly, but in all my time in courtrooms, I have only seen one other jury return a not-guilty verdict in such a short a period. That was a moonshine case in Johnson County.

When the court clerk read the verdict, I was shocked. The judge asked the foreman if it was a unanimous vote, and the answer was yes. It was then that I realized this was jury nullification, pure and simple.

Sure, Bernard’s aggressive defense of her client made a difference. But video evidence doesn’t lie—and Willis even admitted his guilt under oath. A jury in Middle Georgia returned a not-guilty verdict in a marijuana sale case despite nearly unimpeachable evidence. The verdict, in other words, likely came as a result of the jury’s moral disagreement with the law itself—or at least how it was applied in Willis’s case.

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It is my hope that this case receives wide exposure, and that prospective jury members across the country will recognize that they have the power to nullify the nation’s harsh and wrongheaded cannabis laws, whether through a unanimous not-guilty verdict or by simply hanging a jury and causing a mistrial. It is my hope that everyone arrested, especially for simple cannabis possession, will take their case to a jury trial. And it is my hope that district attorneys in Georgia and other states will grow tired of seeing cannabis cases and decide to stop prosecuting them.

A version of this story originally appeared on the Peachtree NORML website. It has been edited and reprinted here with permission from the author.


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.

Canada Wants to Tax Medical Cannabis. Get Ready for a Fight.

The Trudeau government’s proposed cannabis tax plan has angered provincial governments—who don’t believe tax revenue should be split evenly between Ottawa and the provinces—but they’re not the only peeved parties.

Medical cannabis patients and producers feel strongly that Ottawa should not be applying an excise tax on medical cannabis — full stop. They say medical cannabis should be exempt from taxation just as most other prescription medications are.

“This proposal feels totally wrong and unfair to medical cannabis patients.”

Jonathan Zaid, Executive Director of CFAMM

 Jonathan Zaid, executive director of CFAMM

In an interview with Leafly, Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), noted that the majority of Canadians can’t get reimbursed for the cost of medical cannabis because insurance companies don’t cover it as standard practice—and that creates a financial burden.

“Patients are struggling to afford their medicine and this tax would just compound the problem,” he said, adding that many people who rely on medical cannabis are on disability.

“The government’s stated rationale behind this proposal is that they don’t want people feigning illness to acquire cannabis or abusing the system in any way. But that isn’t a legitimate argument for creating an extra burden on the more than 200,000 medical cannabis patients in this country.”

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The head of Toronto-based Apollo Cannabis Clinics, which provide medical cannabis prescriptions for people with chronic pain, depression, PTSD, and other conditions, says the proposed tax could contribute to a growing public health problem—the opioid crisis.

“Many of our patients are using medical cannabis as a tool to ween off opioids, or as an alternative to opioids altogether, which comes with a significant financial burden to the patient, considering most opioids are covered by insurance and medical cannabis is paid for out of pocket,”  said Bryan Hendin, founder and president of Apollo, to Leafly.

“Adding an additional tax for medical patients on top of the sales tax already charged, is not going to help patients switch to medical cannabis for their chronic pain or other conditions. In fact, it might drive patients back to using opioids entirely. With the opioid crisis in Canada, this is a step in the wrong direction.”

Taxing medical cannabis “is not in line with the taxation of medicine in Canada,” says John Fowler, CEO of Supreme Pharmaceuticals.

Many of the country’s licensed producers have also voiced objections to Ottawa’s proposal, which would add an excise tax of  $1 per gram of cannabis or 10 per cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher.

John Fowler, chief executive officer of Ontario-based Supreme Pharmaceuticals, told Leafly that Ottawa’s proposal to add roughly one dollar per gram to sales of cannabis for recreational use is “reasonable,” but believes taxing medical cannabis in the same way “is not in line with the taxation of medicine in Canada and presents a risk that certain patients may not have access to cannabis for financial reasons.”

Colette Rivet , executive director of the Cannabis Canada Association, which represents licensed cannabis producers across the country, believes medical cannabis should be exempt from excise tax and sales tax just as other prescription drugs are. She told Leafly she would like the federal and provincial governments to “ensure medical cannabis is affordable.”

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“We support Ottawa’s efforts to bring forth a reasonable tax structure for the sale of adult-use recreational cannabis,” added Jordan Rodness, marketing manager at Emblem Cannabis, which is also based in Ontario, “but we strongly believe that medical cannabis should be zero-rated. We support groups like CFAMM that are championing this message, and will continue to do so.”

CFAMM has already mobilized in the fight against the proposal. It created an online petition that drew more than 600 signatures in just one day. “The overwhelming response from patients speaks volumes about their concerns over the government proposal,” said Zaid.

His organization is also bringing together several stakeholders—what he describes as a “coalition of voices”—to approach the government. Ottawa is holding consultations on the proposal and has asked interested individuals and organizations to submit written comments by December 7. CFAMM also plans to reach out to individual lawmakers.

Zaid’s conviction is unwavering. “This proposal feels totally wrong and unfair to medical cannabis patients,” he told Leafly. “Canadians have a fundamental right to have access to affordable medicine.”


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Maryland May See Medical Cannabis This Month, but Diversity Issues Loom Large

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — After a four-year wait to provide medical cannabis to patients, the drug could be available to Marylanders as early as this month, according to industry stakeholders.

“I think we could see product in November, with increase in December and a steady flow from all operators in the new year,” said Wendy Bronfein, the marketing director for Curio Wellness, a company in Lutherville, Maryland, awarded two licenses to cultivate and process medical marijuana.

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However, racial diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry is wanting, and some lawmakers said they are planning to introduce a bill early next session to grant licenses to African-American business owners.

A disparity study ordered by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in April and due in December focuses on whether minorities who sought a license in the cannabis industry were at a disadvantage.

The study was prompted after the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus raised concerns about the lack of African-American involvement in the industry.

Of the 321 business owners granted preliminary licenses to grow, distribute or process the drug, 208 were white men or women and the remaining 113 identified as a member of a minority group or as multiracial. Of these, 55 — about 17 percent — were black men and women, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

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“It’s shameful in a state like Maryland where we have one-third of the population of the state, one-third is African American,” said Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

“These licenses will go to, in large part, African Americans.”

Del. Cheryl Glenn

As the General Assembly’s January session approaches, members of the Black Caucus told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service they have begun drafting a bill that would award 10 new licenses for growers and processors specifically targeted at African-Americans interested in the industry.

They will move forward with their legislation regardless of the outcome of a Hogan’s disparity study, Glenn said.

“I will bank on it that we’ll come away from the table with five new licenses for growers and five new licenses for processors that will be awarded based on the results of the disparity study. What does that mean? That means these licenses will go to, in large part, African Americans,” said Glenn.

A weighted scoring system will give businesses an advantage of being awarded a particular license if they have a certain percentage of African-American ownership, Glenn said.

A “compassionate use fund” will be part of the legislation in order to make medical marijuana affordable for patients in Maryland. The fund will be financed based on the fees that licensees in the industry must pay, Glenn said.

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“Marijuana is still an illegal drug, according to the federal government. Your insurance will not pay for marijuana even though it is medical marijuana. So what does that mean? That means it becomes a rich man’s struggle. We’re not gonna have that,” said Glenn, whose mother died of cancer and is the commission’s namesake.

Marylanders who are insured through the state’s Medicare and Medicaid programs will not be covered for medical cannabis, said Brittany Fowler, spokeswoman for the Maryland health department.

The legislation has been numbered Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2, and should gain initial approval as an emergency bill during a joint hearing by the House and the Senate during the first weeks of the session — which is scheduled to start Jan. 10 — Glenn said.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said they intend to use the upcoming election as leverage for the bill.

“Next year is election year, so timing is everything. I am very, very sure that this is going to be taken care of,” Glenn said.

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Cannabis companies have said that the drug is likely to be available to patients this month.

ForwardGro Inc., the first licensed medical marijuana grower, successfully passed the state’s cannabis assessment this year, said Darrell Carrington, the medical cannabis director of Greenwill Consulting Group LLC.

Patients will be able to get cannabis in a variety of forms such as lotion, pills and transdermal patches, said Michael Klein, the chief operating officer of Wellness Solutions in Frederick, Maryland.

Maryland is considered to have one of the slowest medical cannabis rollouts in the nation.

The industry has been projected to open toward the end of the year, according to Brian Lopez, the chairman of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

“The industry is starting to move forward,” Lopez said late last month. “We hope we are going to have another 20 to 30 dispensaries by the end of the year and at that point we will have an industry that is starting to receive product consistently around the state. But with that we are going to also, I’m sure, see some growing pains.”

Maryland still faces a wide range of challenges as the industry starts up. The commission has not decided how to regulate how dispensaries will serve out-of-state patients, deal with the green waste from the cannabis, or address fraudulent activity within the industry, said Lopez.

“I’m sure we are going to hit road blocks, but we plan to work through them in a very consistent manner and with diligence,” Lopez said.

Maryland is considered to have one of the slowest medical cannabis rollouts in the nation, hampered by several delays that arose during the four-year process since it was legalized.

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Stakeholders in the industry have pointed to the lack of funding of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in its beginning stages, and to lawsuits filed against the commission, as major stumbling blocks.

In 2016, GTI — Green Thumb Industries — a Bethesda, Maryland-based company that was originally awarded pre-approved licenses as a grower, filed a lawsuit against the commission for retracting its licenses in order to create geographical diversity.

The commission, which as of mid-2017 had 10 new members, made the decision to retract the license from GTI after the Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh stated in 2016 that the commission must ensure geographical diversity when choosing applicants.

GTI attempted to work with the Black Caucus to reverse the decision during the 2017 General Assembly session through legislation, which would have awarded them a license, said Delegate Pamela Queen D-Montgomery, financial secretary for the Black Caucus.

The legislation failed in the last 90 minutes of the session and there were no additional medical marijuana growing licenses given to any companies owned by minorities, Queen said.

The Legislative Black Caucus earlier this year asked Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert, and Speaker of the House Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, to reconvene the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry. However, the request was denied.

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In another lawsuit against the commission, filed in October 2016 by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a predominantly African-American owned business, Judge Barry Williams ruled in May that if he finds that the commission unlawfully disregarded racial diversity during the application process for licenses he reserves the right to revoke the licenses of those who were pre-approved.

This could ultimately shut down the industry, according to John Pica, a lobbyist and attorney representing Alternative Medicine Maryland.

Frosh also had said it would be unlawful to seek racial diversity in the application process without there being a history of racial disparities in the nascent cannabis industry.

“While it is still too soon to say for certain when we can expect a final analysis, we are encouraged and grateful to collaborate with these offices as we pursue this important work,” said Medical Cannabis Commission Executive Director Patrick Jameson, who announced his resignation from the commission on Thursday.

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Queen said she thinks that a major issue that negatively affected the industry was the poor funding the commission initially received from the state.

When the panel was created as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission in 2013, its purpose was to oversee academic medical intuitions in distributing medical marijuana. However, the institutions were unwilling to distribute the drug because it is illegal under federal law.

In 2015, when the commission was recreated as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, they were given a greater responsibility to evaluate and certify businesses to grow, process and distribute the drug.

The commission received $140,795 in fiscal year 2015 and $2,540,331 in fiscal year 2017. The increase of funding over time was used to hire more employees, contractual labor, office spaces that can support the growing staff, travel expenses and to pay Towson University for scoring license applications for the industry, according to Maryland Department of Budget and Management.


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.

Hybrid Models and Lock-Boxes: Manitoba and New Brunswick Reveal Cannabis-Plan Details

The Manitoba government today introduced a hybrid model for the distribution and sale of recreational cannabis. Once legalization hits next July, the province will regulate the supply of the cannabis but private retailers will sell it.

Manitoba government will regulate the supply of cannabis but private retailers will sell it.

When he unveiled the plan at an afternoon press conference, Premier Brian Pallister stated that the goal was to take over 50% of the recreational cannabis market within a year of legalization and, ultimately, to wipe out the black market. When asked if that was feasible, Pallister responded by referring to Winnipeg’s NHL franchise: “The Jets would like to win every game but they don’t.”

Pallister, who has openly criticized the date Ottawa has set for legalization, repeated his belief that the legalization timeline is “too tight. A year from now we might be saying it would have been better if we had taken a bit longer.”

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Pallister also dismissed as “silly” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposal to split tax revenue from the sale of cannabis evenly between the provinces and the federal government, noting that the provinces alone will be required to foot the bill for many costs related to the legalization of cannabis.

Key points of Manitoba’s announcement:

  • The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, a government agency that regulates gambling and the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages, will secure the cannabis supply and keep track of it but private retailers will sell it.
  • The province is now accepting applications from private retailers hoping to open one or more outlets to sell recreational cannabis. Bids must be submitted by Dec. 22.
  • Successful applicants will have to meet a “wide array” of government stipulations regarding matters such as distance from schools, insurance, and staffing.
  • The province is looking for retailers who will be able to expand as the need arises.

Ideally, 90% of Manitoba residents will be within a 30-minute drive of a retail cannabis outlet.

  • The province didn’t reveal how many retail outlets will open but did say that, ideally, 90% of Manitoba residents would be within a 30-minute drive of an outlet.
  • The province is open to online sales of recreational cannabis because officials would like to see a “broad range of coverage and availability.”
  • Cannabis and alcohol won’t be sold at the same outlets
  • The province didn’t reveal the age at which individuals will be able to purchase cannabis legally. The drinking age is 18.

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New Brunswick Offers Details of Its ‘Cannabis Control Act”

Earlier in the day, New Brunswick introduced proposed legislation that touches on issues such as the legal age for consumption of recreational cannabis, possession, and impaired driving.

In New Brunswick, cannabis in private homes must be stored in a locked container or locked room.

“I think just the fact [the laws are] there, it creates awareness and just awareness in itself is a good step forward in order for people to understand we are serious about keeping children and youth safe and having those products out of their hands,” the province’s health minister, Benoit Bourque, said.

Key points of New Brunswick’s newly unveiled Cannabis Control Act:

  • A person must be at least 19 years old to purchase cannabis
  • Cannabis cannot be consumed in public places
  • In private homes, cannabis must be stored in a locked container or locked room
  • Individuals who grow their own cannabis on private property, whether indoors or outdoors, will be required to secure their plants
  • The Motor Vehicle Act will be amended to include immediate short-term roadside suspensions for drivers found to be drug impaired.
  • Police will conduct a three-step test to detect drug-impaired driving. It includes checking saliva for THC — a process that has been widely criticized as unreliable.


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.

Licensed Producers in Ontario Concerned Over Polluted Lands

Licensed cannabis producers in Hamilton, Ontario are at loggerheads with city officials over where their grow-ops will go.

The tussle began last month, after Liberal MPP for Hamilton Ted McMeekin and several city council members suggested restricting where medicinal cannabis growers will be able to set up greenhouses once the product is legalized.

“Any contaminants or pollutants could cause devastating crop failure, and we could not give this to our patients whatsoever.”

Ian Wilms, vice-chair of Green Organic Dutchman

Growers are critical of city council’s suggestion that they build on old industrial land instead of prime farm land, claiming the air pollution would kill their product. Representatives from Beleave and Green Organic Dutchman told the CBC that such a move would be “catastrophic.”

Ian Wilms, vice-chair of Green Organic Dutchman, told the city council’s planning committee that “any contaminants or pollutants could cause devastating crop failure, and we could not give this to our patients whatsoever.” He says as per the company’s Health Canada license, any product that is compromised must be destroyed.

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Wilms stressed that growers want to be in rural areas where air quality is better. Nevertheless, city councillor Lloyd Ferguson has suggested a limit on grow-ops in rural areas, stricter regulation, and a priority for growing food over cannabis.

Councilor Matthew Green was skeptical of the air-quality claim, noting that grow-ops are indoors and can create environments that keep out air pollution.

Councilor Matthew Green was skeptical of the air-quality claim, noting that grow-ops are indoors and can create environments that keep out air pollution.

There are currently four licensed medicinal marijuana corporations in the Hamilton area, but that number is likely to spike once cannabis is legalized in July 2018.

“If we planned properly, we could create an industry here—a green economy” on industrial land, said Councilor Green, noting that both Beleave’s and Green Organic Dutchman’s planned Hamilton expansions are that of “multinational corporations” rather than a “family farm.”

Green Organic Dutchman wants an additional 150,000 square feet to its current 7,000 square foot facility, while Beleave wants to expand its 14,000 square foot operation by an additional 80,000 square feet.

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Both companies said they would find other spaces to develop if the restrictions are imposed by the city council.

Bill Panagiotakopoulos of Beleave told Global News that the Ontario municipalities Welland, Burlington, and Caledonia have already approached them for business.

Last month, McMeekin told the Hamilton Spectator he wants industrial-sized marijuana greenhouses to stay away from land that’s fit for cultivation.

“You shouldn’t be building greenhouses on class 1 agriculture land,” said McMeekin. “You should do it on class 3 or 4 land where you can’t grow anything.”

He suggests licensed growers look to northern Ontario to build their businesses, since the region could use the jobs and economic growth.


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.