Tag: Politics

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.

California’s Legal Cannabis Countdown: What’s Coming by Jan. 1

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California has published the rules that will govern its legal marijuana economy in 2018, giving businesses and consumers a glimpse into the future.

But there are important steps before legal recreational sales kick off on Jan. 1, and even more uncertainties about how the marketplace will function. Warning: Don’t count on being able to stroll into your local dispensary on New Year’s Day to celebrate with an infused cookie or a joint.

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Why Are the Regulations Important?

They form the framework of the new cannabis economy, estimated to be worth $7 billion. Can you make animal-shaped edibles? No. Transport products in a drone? No. But retailers can be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a dense stack of rules that includes fees for licensing (nearly $80,000 annually for a large grower), how cannabis will be traced from seed to sale and testing requirements to ensure customers get what they pay for.

Can I Buy Legal, Adult-Use Cannabis on Jan. 1?

For most people, probably not. It will vary place to place, but many cities are not prepared. Even though the state regulations went out Thursday, the Bureau of Cannabis Control is still developing an online system for businesses to apply for operating licenses. California is working out technical bugs and hopes it will be ready in early December.

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“There certainly will be licenses issued on Jan. 1,” said Alex Traverso of the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

“The state dropped the ball big time. This should have been done by June, July.”

Donnie Anderson, Los Angeles grower and retailer

But there’s a snag: To apply for a state license, a grower or seller first needs a local permit, and many cities are struggling to establish those rules, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the biggest markets.

“I think the state dropped the ball big time. This should have been done by June, July,” said Los Angeles grower and retailer Donnie Anderson. “I don’t think this is going to be ready.”

Other places, like Kern County, have banned commercial cannabis activity. At the same time, San Diego is among the cities that have local rules in place and are ready for legal sales. Palm Springs is planning for cannabis lounges, where recreational marijuana can be smoked on site.

A Gradual Start

For six months, the state is allowing businesses to bend the rules a bit, recognizing it will take time for the new system to take hold. During that period, businesses can sell products that do not meet new packaging requirements. Retailers can sell inventory that does not meet new rules for ingredients or appearance.

At an industry conference in September, California’s top marijuana regulator sought to ease concerns that the state would move quickly on enforcement against operations without licenses. If authorities are aware a business has applied for a license “I don’t want you to have anxiety that we’re out there and we’re going to be enforcing everything right away,” said Lori Ajax, who heads the state cannabis bureau.

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Everything Is Temporary

Even if you get a license, it will be temporary — good for 120 days. In some cases, there can be a 90-day extension on top of that. During that time, the state will review a business’ credentials and information submitted in the license application, such as financial records and investors in the business.

The regulations issued by the state this week are temporary, too.

Many Challenges Remain

Key pieces of the legal cannabis system are still in the works. A massive tracking system that will follow plants from seed to sale is in development, but officials say it will be ready at the start of the new year. It’s not clear if enough distributors will be available to move cannabis from fields to testing labs and eventually to retail shops, possibly creating a bottleneck between growers and store shelves.

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The Looming Illicit Market

No one knows how many operators will apply for licenses. While medical marijuana has been legal in California for over two decades, most growing and selling occurs in the black market. Come Jan. 1, officials hope those growers and sellers will join the legal pot economy.

But there are concerns many might continue business as usual to avoid new taxes, which could hit 45 percent in the recreational market in some cases, according to a recent study by Fitch Ratings.

“The existing black market for cannabis may prove a formidable competitor” if taxes send legal retail prices soaring, the report said.


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 Legalization Measure Poised to Qualify for 2018 Ballot

Little more than a week after Detroit voters chose to loosen the city’s strict limits on medical cannabis dispensaries, advocates in Michigan have announced that an even bigger game-changer is headed for the ballot: statewide adult-use legalization.

The Committee to Regulate Alcohol like Marijuana this week announced that it has gathered more than 360,000 signatures to qualify an adult-use legalization measure for the 2018 ballot. While the signatures have yet to be validated by the state, the number of signatures gathered is far greater than the 252,523 required by law.

The group still has to pay off $30,000 in signature-gathering expenses before organizers can submit the truckloads of signed petitions to the Secretary of State, the Detroit Free Press reports. The campaign said Thursday that it is preparing to announce the signature turn-in on Monday, Nov. 20.

The initiative, as currently available on the group’s website, would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over and set up a system to regulate and tax cannabis businesses. Consumption would be allowed only in private homes.

The measure would also legalize industrial hemp under state law.

Tax dollars would go to public schools, road projects, and local governments that “opt in” by allowing cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdictions.

Cannabis has been getting a lot of political play this month, the Free Press reports, including from five candidates running for governor. On Tuesday night, at a bipartisan debate in Ypsilanti, four Democrats and one Republican said they supported legalization. The candidates were Republican Evan Space and Democrats Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Bill Cobbs.

“When five main candidates are talking about supporting the (legalization) proposal, we’ve gone mainstream,” Lansing-based attorney Jeff Hank said after the event, according to the Free Press.

Earlier this week, the National Cannabis Industry Association, a legal-cannabis trade group, threw its weight behind the Michigan campaign.

“As the country’s second largest medical marijuana market, Michigan has the opportunity for serious job and economic growth in the adult-use cannabis industry,” Executive Director Aaron Smith said in a statement. “The 2018 ballot initiative put forth by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol combines some of the best practices and regulations from around the country and we are excited to take part in supporting this effort.”

The state’s medical cannabis industry is currently the second-fastest growing business sector, according to law firm Vicente Sederberg. That industry, made legal under a 2008 voter-approved law, is currently in the process of transitioning to a statewide licensing model, with state regulators set to begin accepting license applications on Dec. 15.


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.

The Roll-Up #9: We’ll Stop the Boone’s Farming of Cannabis

The Roll-Up features Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader in a Friday morning roundtable about the week’s top cannabis news.

Leafly Podcast

Episode 9: We’ll Stop the Boone’s Farming of Cannabis

This week: While the cannabis industry convenes in Las Vegas, we’re stuck home getting news-drunk on breaking stories about food: Infused seafood, flavored cannabis, adult Cap’n Crunch milkshakes, and the pleasures of wet bread.

What, are you not familiar with the show? Every Friday, Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader dissect the week’s top stories in cannabis with analysis, arguments, jokes, and obscure cultural references.

The Roll-Up: It’s a news and culture podcast that hits the sweet spot between stoned and scholarly.

Previous Episodes:

Stories Mentioned In Episode 8:

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About Our Music:

The theme song for The Roll-Up is “Turn Me On,” from the EP of the same name by The Shivas. Check out their music on iTunes. For more about the band, see their home page, theshivas.org.


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.

Charges Reinstated in Michigan Medical Marijuana Case

KIMBALL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court again has reversed a decision and reinstated charges against a man who was accused of running illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in the state’s Thumb region.

The court says James Amsdill knew the legality of marijuana sales was unclear and was also aware that state police didn’t view his Blue Water Compassion Center as legal. The court says, “Prosecution is more than fair under the circumstances.”

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A judge in St. Clair County twice dismissed the case, the last time on grounds of entrapment. The case was filed in 2013, long before Michigan lawmakers created a system to allow certain marijuana dispensaries to operate legally.

Licenses could be issued by spring.


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.

Boston Man Says Offensive Comments Misconstrued

BOSTON (AP) — A Boston man who said veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder should “get over it,” and described breast cancer patients as “cadaverous” in apparent opposition to a medical marijuana dispensary in the city’s swankiest shopping district says his comments were misconstrued.

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Oliver Curme at a Tuesday zoning board hearing said the dispensary would draw “undesirable elements” who would end up “scaring off the clientele” of Newbury Street’s high-end shops and restaurants.

The comments shocked both opponents and supporters of the dispensary.

Curme said he was so over the top he thought people would understand

Curme told New England Cable News he used satire to mock dispensary opponents, and said he actually supports it.

Curme, who lives around the corner from the site, said he was so over the top he thought people would understand, and apologized if anyone misinterpreted him.

The dispensary was approved.


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.

When California Needs Cannabis Laws, it Calls This Highway Patrolman

During his 28 years with the California Highway Patrol, Tom Lackey spent much of his career on the overnight shift, “working as other people were asleep.”

Tom Lackey is emerging as the go-to Republican on cannabis issues. The former cop is now defending California’s legal, regulated system.

He cruised highways near the Southern California desert communities of Palmdale and Lancaster, responding to accidents and arresting drunken drivers or others impaired by substances ranging from booze to prescription drugs to hard narcotics.

Lackey long opposed marijuana legalization, including California’s adult-use initiative last year. He saw cannabis as just one more intoxicant that could make the roads less safe.

These days, Lackey, 58, is a Republican State Assemblyman, elected in 2014 and lauded by the California Police Chiefs Association two years later as its “Legislator of the Year” for his advocacy of measures to combat drugged driving.

Lackey’s bill would make CHP responsible for keeping cannabis in-state.

He is now sponsoring legislation that would empower his former agency – the California Highway Patrol – to lead state law enforcement efforts against unlicensed cannabis traffickers shipping millions of tons out of California on interstate highways.

But Lackey’s story isn’t just a predicable tale of another tough-on-cannabis cop.

For starters, he’s no die-hard prohibitionist. In fact, Lackey is emerging in Sacramento as the state’s go-to-Republican on cannabis policy in a deep-blue state with America’s largest marijuana economy.

Even as Lackey advances a plan to target illicit traffickers, he’s evolved into an ebullient advocate for a state-regulated cannabis economy.

That’s largely due to an epiphany Lackey experienced a few years ago, when the wife of his longtime CHP patrol partner battled cancer.

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‘I Became a Believer’

“My perspective changed because I had a personal friend who had her third battle with breast cancer and she had a real need for medical marijuana,” Lackey said in a recent interview. “There are people who have the need for the unique things that cannabis brings. I wasn’t a believer. I became a believer.”

‘Without this structure in place, it’s advantage black marketers. Clearly, we need to wake up.’

Tom Lackey, California state assemblyman

In July, Lackey penned an opinion piece for The Hill, Washington DC’s political outlet, arguing against federal interference in state-regulated cannabis economies.

He touted his work representing law enforcement agencies while helping craft the package of state medical marijuana regulations signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. Those MMJ regulations, which are being woven into the state’s new regulatory framework, are scheduled to take effect in early 2018. “If done thoughtfully and deliberately, the public safety benefits of a well-regulated cannabis market could work well in states across the nation,” Lackey wrote.

He also endorsed the tax revenue benefits of “sensible cannabis policy reform.”

“Protecting California’s right to regulate a legal cannabis industry within our borders,” he wrote, “is not a ‘red or blue’ issue.”

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Keeping Cannabis in California

In September, at the close of California’s 2017 legislative session, Lackey introduced Assembly Bill 1733. The bill, still light on details and due to be reintroduced in January, is based on Lackey’s belief that California Highway Patrol officers policing interstate highways have a role to play in protecting intrastate commerce.

Lackey’s bill matters because California grows four times as much cannabis as it consumes. A crackdown on that out-of-state diversion is likely coming.

The measure would direct the CHP and patrol officers operating out of 102 California field offices to coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies to target out-bound shipments of marijuana from traffickers with little interest in complying with a state-regulated market.

His bill also calls for law enforcement collaboration in identifying potentially illicit transportation of cannabis that crosses county lines in California without state or local license under the regulated industry.

“Without this structure in place,” Lackey said, “it’s advantage black marketers. Clearly, we need to wake up.”

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20% Stays, 80% Leaves the State

California’s farms have long been renowned for shipping cannabis across America as illicit operators seek maximum profits from inflated street prices in states with strict marijuana prohibition or tighter restrictions on permitted cannabis sales.

Khurshid Khoja: Shrinking black market helps licensed growers.

In January, an economic study commissioned by the state Department of Food and Agriculture estimated that California residents consume 2.5 million pounds of cannabis annually. The report said that’s less than one-fifth of the state’s estimated 13.5 million pounds in total production, meaning that more than 80 percent may be headed elsewhere.

Lackey said a coordinated law enforcement effort, with the CHP directing efforts to share information between police agencies, is needed to protect legal operators, California’s tax revenues and public safety. He also says he doesn’t want the Justice Department, under anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to exploit black market trafficking as an excuse to target California’s legal market.

“Unless we can convince the federal government that we’re doing our due diligence, we’re asking for problems,” he said.

Growers Are Considering the Bill

Cannabis advocates are cautiously mulling whether to support his bill on grounds that improving inter-agency police communications could stop wrongful raids on state- and locally-permitted cannabis operators.

Last summer, the California Growers Association industry group complained over the lack of information sharing after armed game wardens for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife raided cannabis farms in the north coast Emerald Triangle that were in the process of obtaining local cultivation and state water permits.

Lackey recognizes that cannabis is not like alcohol, and considers CBD ‘a real blessing’ for medical patients.

“There is nobody really going after this (black market) activity in a strategic manner,” said Hezekiah Allen, a former Humboldt County cannabis farmer who is executive of director of the California Growers Association. “From our perspective there is one word that makes this bill palatable – collaborate – because already this year we have seen people in… permitting programs subjected to paramilitary raids.

“We’re not quite ready to have an opinion on this bill. But we are interested in guidance on what law enforcement may look like in the age of regulation.”

Attorney Khurshid Khoja, a board member for the California Cannabis Industry Association, wants more details on Lackey’s proposal and his organization hasn’t taken a position. But he is also cautiously intrigued.

“Anything that helps to curb the black market is a boon to licensing taxpaying businesses,” Khoja said.

Meanwhile, John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Narcotics Officers Association, said the organization supports the bill. He says the CHP-coordinated effort could identify businesses that pose as compliant state operators while secretly diverting cannabis into the illicit market.

“You’re going to have people using the cover of their license to in effect ship out of state,” Lovell warned.

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‘I Want to ID Impairment, Not Use’

For his part, Lackey said, the bill needs to be negotiated and built-out in the upcoming session. It currently provides no additional funding for the black-market enforcement push and lacks details on how police coordination would work.

Last summer, Lackey also introduced legislation that, if resurrected next year, could appoint the state’s highway patrol commissioner to head a task force on identifying field testing techniques to detect drugged driving, including for cannabis.

Lackey supports research into saliva-testing technology that can detect THC. But he also expresses concerns over whether the test results may determine actual impairment, not just residues in the body. He calls for more thorough study.

“Cannabis is different,” Lackey said. “It’s not like alcohol. I want to identify impairment – in bold letters – vs. simple usage.”

On a personal level, Lackey admits he hasn’t a clue as to what impairment may feel like. He neither drinks nor expects to try cannabis anytime soon.

But he has come something of a cannabis student. He says he reads up on the medicinal benefits of non-psychoactive cannabis CBD, “a real blessing,” he calls it. He eagerly shares the story of the wife of his former patrol partner finding relief through marijuana.

And he expects to stay involved in cannabis-related legislation as California’s regulated market matures.

“There are some people who hear the word ‘cannabis’ and want to run away,” Lackey said. “It’s one of those issues we need to understand. So we’ve got work to do.”

“I may never consume it. But it’s kind of habit forming for me in a different way.”

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