NORML Canada: August 2014 Newsletter
Greetings Cannabis Law Reform Community
In this month’s newsletter:
Earlier this month the New York Times made history when it ran the first ever cannabis ad. The full-page ad was paid for by the website Leafly. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Leafly, Leafly boasts itself to be the world’s largest cannabis information resource, providing users with reviews, links to dispensaries, and up-to-date news and information regarding cannabis.
The ad campaign is ironically titled “Just Say Know,” evidently playing on the well known, “Just Say No,” anti-drug campaign introduced in the 1980’s, and popularized by Nancy Reagan. The ad displays two people, a man and a woman, preparing to begin their day, along with the captions, “Ian chose an indica cannabis strain to relieve his MS symptoms,” and “While fighting cancer, Molly preferred a sativa cannabis.” The ad aims to dissolve stigma surrounding cannabis, displaying relatively average people incorporating it into their normal routines.
Without a doubt this is a tremendous indicator of the changing socio-cultural tide, and friends, we are moving forward. A congratulations is in order for Leafly for taking the initiative to execute such an ad, as well as for the New York Times, not only for displaying the ad, but for coming out in support of legalization; thank you both!
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On August 14th British Columbia’s highest court ruled that a recent government ban on cannabis edibles was unconstitutional as it restricts access to alternate forms of medical cannabis.
Although medical cannabis has been legal since 2001, federal law only permits the production and sale of dried cannabis; and strictly prohibits the production and sale of edible forms of cannabis. This ruling was challenged in 2001 when a B.C. resident was charged with trafficking when caught baking cannabis infused cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, a medical cannabis dispensary in B.C. The resident was acquitted in 2012 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the ban on cannabis edibles was overly strict and unconstitutional.
The most recent ruling came after the government brought the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal for retrial. Needless to say, this is another victory for Canadian medical marijuana patients.
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After a recent report that Health Canada had approached three doctor’s groups to sign onto an anti-marijuana advertising campaign, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau came out in opposition stating, “We know that Canadian taxpayers are getting extremely frustrated with the fact this government tends to use public money for ads that do more for its partisan aims than for actual public service.”
According to the report, Health Canada had approached the Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada; the organizations would not have to pay for the $5-million campaign, and yet, would still have their logos and endorsements incorporated into the ads.
A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said, “nothing political about ensuring parents and youth know the dangers of using drugs.” Trudeau agreed with Health Canada’s message that marijuana use in young Canadians is dangerously high but said the government shouldn’t pay for the ads, and stated that Canadians want a debate based on logic and evidence when it comes to marijuana laws in the country. Trudeau has claimed that he is not advocating greater availability for youth, but rather that a proper discussion should be had on how to make the laws more effective, as it is well known that despite prohibition Canada has one of the highest youth marijuana-use rates in the world.
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President Juan Manuel Santos has publicly declared support for new legislation to legalize marijuana for medicinal and therapeutic use. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Juan Manuel Galan, whose father was a Presidential candidate assassinated in 1989 by cocaine traffickers.
The South American nation has experienced decades of violence as a side effect of the War on Drugs, but Santos has not only admitted publicly to past use, he has also been a proponent of a new shift in re-examining current prohibitionist drug policies. Santos described the shift in this Bill specifically as “a practical, compassionate measure to reduce the pain (and) anxiety of patients with terminal illnesses, but also a way of beginning to strip from the hands of criminals the role of intermediary between the patient and the substance that allows them to relieve their suffering.”
The War on Drugs has had a very negative impact in the South American region as violence has erupted among traffickers seeking to satisfy the profitable demand for drugs. A drastic shift in drug policies in this region is further evidence that prohibition has failed us at a global level.
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Two more Canadian Medical Marijuana producers have gone public and listed their stock at the Toronto Venture Exchange offering an alternative to Tweed Marijuana Inc. (TWD) in this emerging Canadian market. Both Bedrocan (BED) and Organigram (OGI) were listed in the exchange as of August 25th.
Bedrocan is a licensing partner of long-time Dutch medical marijuana producer Bedrocan BV, which currently supplies the Canadian company’s product and exports to other countries in Europe. Bedrocan, which received its license from Health Canada in December 2013, is building a 52,000-square-foot growing facility in the Greater Toronto area that it expects to complete by the end of the year. It has 1,100 registered patients across the country.
Organigram is based in New Brunswick and is Atlantic Canada’s first MMPR licensed, organic Medical Marijuana producer. OrganiGram has a 20,000-square-foot facility in a Moncton, with the capacity to produce 100,000 grams of organic medical marijuana a month, and aims to serve patients in Eastern Canada and Quebec.
It is worth noting that Canadian Medical Marijuana producers appeal to U.S. and global investors because the program is regulated at the Federal level by Health Canada and this contrasts with the current framework in the United States, where medical marijuana is illegal at the Federal level, yet nearly half of its states have recognized its medicinal benefits. Health Canada estimates that the market will grow to $1.3-billion over the next decade.
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