NORML Canada: November 2014 Newsletter
Greetings Cannabis Law Reform Community
In this month’s newsletter:
On November 24, 2014 the Federal Court of Appeal heard the governmentís appeal of Justice Mansonís March 21, 2014 order and a cross-appeal on behalf of all medical cannabis patients in Canada. On March 21, 2014 Justice Manson of the Federal Court ordered that medical cannabis grow licenses valid as of September 30, 2014 would remain in effect pending the final hearing of the case which is scheduled to proceed in the Federal Court in February and March 2015. The governmentís appeal sought to terminate the March 21, 2014 interim order which kept personal growing alive pending trial. The cross-appeal sought to expand the temporary injunction to include all patients who require medical cannabis (not just those who had a valid license as of September 30, 2013), to remove the 150 gram limit on cannabis possessed away from storage site, and to permit changes of address. John Conroy (NORML Canadaís President) and Kirk Tousaw (NORML Canadaís B.C. Regional Director) argued the case on behalf of the patients. The court reserved which means a decision has not yet been made, but could be released in the coming weeks. For more information about the case see: www.mmarcoalitionagainstrepeal.com or www.johnconroy.com (MMAR Constitutional Challenge).
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health.
In October 2014, CAMH released a report promoting a health-based approach to marijuana. The report advises that legalization, combined with strict health-focused regulation, provides an opportunity to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use, adding that ‘criminalization heightens these health harms and causes social harms.”
In addition, the CAMH report establishes ten basic principles to guide regulation the legal use of marijuana:
For more details on the CAMH report, please visit: CAMH Cannabis Policy Framework
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With the rise of Licensed Production companies dominating the emerging industry of medical cannabis production and distribution in Canada, we are starting to see a research based agenda take shape. Recently, Tilray, a British Columbia-based Licensed Production company under the MMPR that is owned by a subsidiary of U.S.-based Privateer Holdings, announced they will be partnering with the University of British Columbia and funding research which investigates the use of cannabis for individuals suffering from PTSDóthe first large-scale clinical trial examining cannabis and a mental health disorder.
Pending approval from UBCís ethics board, Tilray is projecting a $350,000 research grant in addition to providing the cannabis (with a variety of THC and CBD levels) needed for clinical trials. The study will include 40 men and women suffering from PTSD, including veterans, first responders, and victims of sexual assault.
The lead investigator of the UBC-Tilray study is Dr. Zachary Walsh, a clinical psychologist, Associate Professor at UBC, and co-director of the UBC Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Walsh also acted as a principle investigator in a project titled, ìMedical Cannabis ñ Standards, Engagement, Evaluation & Dissemination (SEED)î; co-investigator on the CANARY study, a national study on the medical cannabis access regulations; and a principal investigator on a study that looks at the use of cannabis to alleviate symptoms of arthritis, among many other research interests.
Hopefully this is the beginning of an emerging trend where Licensed Producers are setting aside the substantial funding needed for clinical trials, pushing forward evidence that could help thousands of suffering Canadians. As Mark Ware noted at the International Pharmaceutical Academy (IPA) Conference in September 2014, ìThey†have a responsibility if theyíre going to develop, cultivate, and sell a herbal medication like cannabis, an obligation to do the research and help clinicians, like me, make informed decisions with our patients.î
NORML Canada is excited to see the outcomes of this partnership with UBC, led by prominent individuals in the medical cannabis research field. By supporting up and coming research on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, the greater legalization movement will benefit by having concrete evidence of actual potential benefits (with minimal harm) using clinical trials done by respected research institutions like UBC, working to widen the acceptance of cannabis more generally.
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Voters in Alaska and Oregon have voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, while voters in Washington, D.C. have voted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana this past November 4, 2014. Alaska and Oregon voters decided in favour of a pair of state initiatives to regulate the commercial production, sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults over 21 years of age. Elected officials in Alaska and Oregon should welcome the opportunity to bring these long overdue regulatory controls to the commercial marijuana industry.
In Alaska, an adult 21 and older will be allowed possession of up to one ounce and maintain six marijuana plants. In Oregon, an adult 21 and older will be allowed possession of up to eight ounces and maintain four marijuana plants.
Ballot Initiative 71 in Washington, D.C. was passed with 69.6% approval. The initiative essentially allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants, give up to one ounce of marijuana (without payment) to other adults 21 and over, and use or sell paraphernalia for the use, growing, or processing of marijuana. This is fantastic news and NORML Canada applauds the efforts of D.C. legalization advocates. However, Ballot Initiative 71 does not take effect until Congress has reviewed the proposed Act and passes it. This will likely occur in March 2015. Currently, the decriminalization regime which was passed in early 2014 is still in force, so possession of under 1 ounce of cannabis will still result in a $25 ticket, and the sale or possession of cannabis (in excess of 1 ounce), cannabis paraphernalia, or hash/concentrates can result in incarceration and hefty fines. To keep up to date on the fine work of cannabis legalization advocates in D.C. check out: http://dcmj.org/
Meanwhile, in California, nearly 60% of voters voted in favour of Proposition 47, which ìre-categorizesî felonies under simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of marijuana. Under the measure, Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records wiped out.
Unfortunately, the election results were not positive in the state of Florida. A state initiative to legalize medical marijuana (Amendment 2) obtained a majority with 58% in favour, but did not receive the over 60% support necessary to amend Floridaís constitution.
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In what seems like the most natural of moves in the emerging and exciting marijuana industry, the name Bob Marley will become the face of a new ìglobal marijuana brand,î called Marley Natural.
The brandís stated mission is ìto champion Bobís voice and his insight to help people realize the positive potential of cannabis for the mind, body, and spirit. Along the way, we want to help undo the suffering and injustice of cannabis prohibition around the world.î
The Marley family have teamed up with Seattle-based private equity firm Privateer Holdings to create Marley Natural. Privateer Holdings is the worldís first private equity firm investing exclusively in the legal marijuana industry and are the owners of Tilray, a Licensed Producer operating in Canadaís medical cannabis market: www.tilray.ca
Marley Natural will distribute marijuana-infused and hemp-infused topical creams, oils, accessories such as vaporizer pens and ìheirloom Jamaicanî strains of marijuana. Sales are slated to commence sometime near the end of 2015 in jurisdictions where the sale of marijuana is permitted.
The name Marley is a perfect fit within a burgeoning marijuana industry, and timely as well. ìMy husband believed ëthe herbí was a natural and positive part of life,î said Rita Marley, Bobís widow, ìand he felt it was important to the world. He looked forward to this day.î
Introducing: Marley Natural Fine Cannabis: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv9aieNT6x0
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As of November 19th the possession of cannabis, not in excess of 25g, is no longer an offence punishable by a prison sentence in New York City. Under the new policy those caught in excess of the designated amount will be fined for $100. The number of arrests for cannabis possession in NYC has fallen from 50,000, in 2011, to 28,000 in 2013, and given the new policy, should continue to decline into the future. However, despite this change, those caught smoking in public will still be charged with a misdemeanor (AKA summary) offence.
While many in NYC are commending Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner, Bill Brattonís step forward, not all are pleased. Michael Palladino, president of the Detectiveís Endowment Association claimed that this was, ì[Ö] another step in giving the streets back to the criminals.î Even more dramatically, Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeantís Benevolent Association, suggested that abandoning practices based upon making arrests for cannabis possession is, ì[Ö] clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.î
Why exactly Ed believes that a society which chooses to financially support its police officers by arresting otherwise law-abiding and non-violent citizens is ëcivilizedí remains a mystery. If it is a make-work program that is needed, then without a doubt the efforts of the NYPD are best directed elsewhere.
Regardless of the melodrama of some bureaucrats over what is a relatively anodyne policy adjustment (compared to other places in the U.S.), citizens of NYC should celebrate this victory and continue to push the cannabis movement forward!
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