Dec 7, 2017
Dec 7, 2017
The Loblaw-owned drugstore chain is the largest in Canada with more than 1,200 stores and had applied through Health Canada for a license to sell medical cannabis last year. The company had been on the hunt for a medical marijuana brand manager. The drugstore chain had said at the outset it wanted to sell, not produce, medical cannabis.
“We have an impeccable record cultivating and producing high-quality, medical-grade cannabis,” Aphria’s CEO Vic Neufeld wrote in a statement Monday evening. His Leamington, Ontario-based company was one of the first firms granted a Health Canada license to cultivate and sell medical cannabis when the department first launched its cannabis regime in 2013. Since then, the number of licensed producers has ballooned to 79, although experts have said there will need to be hundreds more in order to meet the demand of the future recreational market.
If approved, the Shoppers Drug Mart deal with Aphria would last for five years and require the drugstore to purchase a minimum amount of cannabis every year, Neufeld said during a teleconference on Monday. Neufeld added that Shoppers Drug Mart is interested in medical cannabis and not recreational cannabis, at least for the time being.
Further, the deal is not necessarily exclusive to Aphria as the drugstore may pursue similar deals with other licensed producers.
Aphria is slated to supply the company with dried bud and a selection of oils.
“Pharmacists should play an important role in the safe and informed use of medical cannabis,” a Shoppers Drug Mart spokesperson told VICE News in an email on Tuesday. “As the federal and provincial governments finalize their respective cannabis frameworks, we remain optimistic that they will allow pharmacists in stores, in communities to apply their professional care to medical cannabis patients. ”
Until the legal recreational market opens, only people with valid medical prescriptions for cannabis can purchase the product in Canada through a licensed producer, which must distribute it through the mail. There are more than 130,000 registered medical cannabis patients in Canada.
Earlier this year, another licensed cannabis producer, CanniMed, announced it had entered into a distribution agreement with PharmaChoice, a cooperative of pharmacies.
The Cannabis Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate last week. The bill is overwhelmingly backed by the general public and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and is expected to pass by July 2018 or earlier.
“I think it is broadly recognized that criminalizing cannabis has been a failure,” said a sponsor of the bill Senator Tony Dean of Ontario, as quoted by CNN Money.
Annual sales of recreational marijuana in Canada could range between $2.3 billion and $4.5 billion by 2021, according to an industry website Marijuana Business Daily. However, the Canadian weed market, even with full federal support, will not catch up to US revenues.
Industry analysts expect US sales of recreational cannabis to total $7.1 billion to $10.3 billion in four years. Selling marijuana is being legalized in the country on a state-by-state basis. The figures do not reportedly cover expected estimated revenue from medical marijuana sales in either country.
It took US states nearly a year to implement the legalizing reforms and create a retail and tax infrastructure. Canadian authorities are planning to launch government-supported online sales, which were initially aimed at backing the country’s medical marijuana industry.
Ganja Express, Buy My Weed Online, and Emerald Health Therapeutics are currently selling a whole range of cannabis products to medical marijuana customers. The product list includes traditional marijuana that’s sold by the gram as well as concentrates and edibles.
The farm has hired extra workers to increase production of marijuana from the current 14,000 pounds to 134,000 pounds by the end of 2018.
One of Canada’s most prominent marijuana activists has taken aim at former police officers who have entered the country’s fledgling cannabis industry, saying it was “hard to stomach” that those who spent years sending people to jail for pot offences are now poised to profit as the country moves towards legalisation.
“It’s a mix of hypocrisy and pure profiteering,” Jodie Emery told the Guardian. “They made a living off tax dollars for trying to keep people out of the cannabis business and now they’re going to position themselves to cash in.”
Her remarks come as legislation aimed at legalising recreational marijuana by 1 July 2018 was passed in the House of Commons. The bill will now head to the Senate, paving the way for Canada to become the first country in the G7 to fully legalise the drug.
Former public servants, politicians and law enforcement officers have gravitated towards the sector, which analysts say could eventually be worth somewhere between C$5bn and C$10bn annually.
The most controversial of these would-be entrepreneurs is Julian Fantino, a former Toronto police chief who once likened the decriminalisation of marijuana to legalising murder and, just two years ago, declared his complete opposition to legalisation.
Fantino recently announced that he would helm a company that connects patients to medical cannabis among other services. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada.
A former Conservative MP, Fantino was also part of a government that sought to crackdown on marijuana offences, passing legislation stipulating mandatory jail time for those caught with six plants or more.
At the launch of his company, Aleafia, last month, Fantino waved off questions about his past views. “Days gone by, we all had a certain attitude and certain perception of things being what they are and what they were,” he told reporters.
Fantino said he had embarked on a “fact-finding mission” after being approached by Afghan war veterans who wanted access to marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and pain. “[I] learned a lot about this whole space and medical marijuana and that to me was the conversion, if you will, to enable us to be more helpful to people who are not presently attaining the kind of results from their medication, which is usually opiates.” Fantino did not respond to a request for an interview with the Guardian.
Emery described Fantino’s message as deeply offensive. “I’m always happy to see our opponents admit that we were right by adopting our messaging and what we’ve been saying for so long,” she said. “But it’s hard to stomach when he isn’t saying that he’s sorry for arresting people for cannabis, he’s not saying sorry for ruining lives and trying to prevent access to patients and veterans for all those years.”
In many ways, it’s much more fun to serve as Official Opposition than in cabinet. You can feign outrage over omnibus bills, since you are no longer in the position of writing them.
You can scold ministers for resorting to pre-programmed talking points in question period, having finally been freed from the obligation of reciting your own. And you can attack the government’s lack of transparency, having emerged from the protective fortress that insulated you from all sorts of opposition attacks for the better part of a decade.
Sure, you might spend your evenings crying into a bottle of scotch, wondering when exactly you became everything you once despised, but when the sun comes up that shame disappears — replaced with a roughly two-year-old sense of righteousness.
It’s not all fun, though. At some point, you need to move beyond being a party defined simply by being in opposition. This is particularly important when you’re in that post-electoral-defeat soul-searching period, when you’re trying to figure out how this “new” party distinguishes itself from the old.
The majestically dumb comments Conservative MP Peter Kent made about marijuana earlier this week, however, suggest that the Tories’ re-branding efforts are not going particularly smoothly.
During debate over Bill C-45, the Liberals’ pot legislation, Kent suggested that growing marijuana at a home where children could ostensibly get at it is “virtually the same as putting fentanyl on a shelf within reach of kids.”
“Having plants in the home, it’s just as wacky, it’s just as unacceptable, it’s just as dangerous for Canadian society,” he added.
That is wrong, obviously: fentanyl is 10 times more potent than morphine, and opioid-related deaths have exploded in Canada. Marijuana, on the other hand, makes you feel funny.
It is true that some people do weird things under the influence, but most just end up eating too much and creating depressions in their couch cushions.
Kent clarified that he understands the chemical distinction between marijuana and fentanyl in a subsequent interview with Vice News, saying, “I’m quite aware that cannabis is not the equivalent in terms of its deadly opioid content.”
Then he added: “THC, if kids consumed one way or the other, deliberately or accidentally or as a joke, and became intoxicated, they’re just as at risk at home or on the street as they would be — the outcome could be just as deadly.”
If I’m following correctly, Kent is saying that it is just as deadly to be dead from a marijuana-related accident than it is to be dead by a fentanyl overdose. Which I suppose is true.
Kent, I am certain, must know how ridiculous this sounds. After all, the last Conservative MP to make such outlandish rhetorical flourishes about marijuana — Julian Fantino, who compared weed to murder — went on to head a medical marijuana company.
The best-case scenario here is that Kent is clumsily trying to appeal to the roughly one-third of Canadians who have reservations about legalized marijuana (and the worst-case scenario is that he truly thinks this all sounds reasonable).
The Conservatives have long taken very weird, hyperbolic positions when it comes to marijuana.
In 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users could consume pot in ways other than smoking it — thus allowing for oils, teas, consumables, etc. — Health Minister Rona Ambrose said she was “outraged” by the ruling.
Previous federal regulations only allowed for medical marijuana to be sold dried, meaning that lung cancer sufferers and children with epilepsy, for example, basically had to smoke weed if they wanted medical marijuana relief. The Supreme Court, sensibly, recognized that six-year-olds who depended on cannabis to control their seizures should not be smoking joints. The health minister, apparently, did not (or at least, she did not publicly).
The Tories, it would seem, have progressed roughly not at all since then.
Which, on the one hand, is fine: if the Conservatives want to double down on social conservatism — at least as it relates to marijuana — all the power to them.
The problem is that, with his comments, Kent has presented them as socially conservative without a clue.
Ah, well. Where’s that scotch?
Posted: Nov 17, 2017
When the federal government announced it would be legalizing marijuana, it left it up to the provinces to licence the product and oversee its distribution and sale. This has prompted provinces and territories to come up with their own plans to sell pot before July 1, 2018, when marijuana is scheduled to be legalized under federal legislation.
Here’s a look at which provinces have laid out their plans and which are still working out the kinks.
British Columbia hasn’t unveiled its plan, but NDP Premier John Horgan has indicated he’s looking into a “mixed model” in which both private and government-run stores would sell marijuana.
Horgan has also suggested that current illegal pot retailers already operating in the province may play a part, though it’s not yet clear if that will happen or how it might work if it does.
In Alberta, a bill has been introduced that would make the government responsible for any online retail marijuana sales. But the private sector isn’t being shut out — retail locations would be operated by private companies.
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would be responsible for oversight of private retail, and details on licensing will be available early next year, the province said.
The bill would set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18, the same as the province’s legal drinking age. It would also ban the sale of cannabis alongside alcohol, pharmaceuticals or tobacco.
People who want to consume pot will face some limits in Alberta — the new legislation outlaws use in places ranging from schools and daycares to hospitals, CBC’s Michelle Bellefontaine reported on Thursday as Rachel Notley’s government outlined its plan.
Premier Brad Wall’s government hasn’t rolled out its plan, saying it’s still reviewing its options and gathering feedback from its online public consultations.
The delay in the release of a plan has irked the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), which has complained that municipalities are unable to prepare.
In Manitoba, the province has said it will pursue a “hybrid model” for selling marijuana. The Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) will regulate the purchase, storage, distribution and retail of cannabis while the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) will secure and track supply of cannabis sold in the province.
But as in Alberta, the private sector will be responsible for selling the product.
Premier Brian Pallister, who has previously urged federal lawmakers to slow down the legalization process, recently said he doesn’t know yet how many stores will be allowed, CBC’s Kelly Malone reported. He also suggested that private retailers may be able to sell pot online, but there’s been no real detail on that front at yet.
Another unknown in Manitoba is what the legal age to buy pot will be.
As the CBC’s Mike Crawley reported, the Ontario government plans to open stand-alone stores, all run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). But people shopping at the stores won’t be able to browse the aisles and grab what they want, the province says. Instead, there will be a behind-the-counter setup similar to what’s seen now when buying cigarettes.
The initial rollout includes 80 stores, but the province says online shopping will cover the province.
As it is for alcohol purchases, the minimum age to purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario would be 19. Buyers in Ontario will also face limits on where they use marijuana, with a ban on use in public places.
Under Quebec’s proposed legislation, buyers will need to be at least 18 years old (like several other provinces, this age mirrors the legal age for buying alcohol).
Among other things, the legislation would bar people from growing cannabis for personal use at home and would limit smoking to the same places where people can currently light up a cigarette.
CBC’s Kalina Laframboise reported that under the proposed plan, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will buy pot from a producer and deal with transportation and storage of the product.
There will be 15 stores scattered around the province, and online sales will also be on offer.
The province’s public health minister seems to expect some tinkering as the legalization process unfolds.
“It’s not the end, it’s the only the beginning,” said Lucie Charlebois. “It’s certain that we will have to adapt.”
New Brunswick has laid out how it intends to proceed, and CBC’s Jacques Poitras reports that users can expect limits.
Under the province’s proposal, there will be no smoking in public places and there will be a limit on how many grams a person can carry, Poitras reported last week when the province presented its plan.
At home, people can store however much they like, but they have to keep it in either a locked-up room or a locked container.
Up to 20 government-run stores will be established with strict policies in place: they will be located at least 300 metres away from schools, they will only display products under glass, and customers will need to show identification to prove they are of legal age before they can even get in.
But what the legal age will be isn’t clear. There’s also no word on what the stores will be called or what the price will be, but we do not that online sales will be allowed.
The province has said it will be revealing its plan in the next few weeks. An online survey with around 2,600 respondents found that 53 per cent preferred 19 years old as minimum age to purchase and consume.
The survey also found that 73 per cent supported pot-specific dispensaries. There was more mixed responses when it came to online or mail orders, and selling drugs in pharmacies or at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, the CBC’s Geoff Bartlett reported.
The government has said that it hoping to unveil its marijuana plan by the end of 2017. The premier has suggested he’d like to see a plan that’s in step with the rules in nearby provinces.
The P.E.I. government also released a public and stakeholder survey regarding the issue of marijuana. It expects to present draft legislation on the issue in the spring.
The Yukon government continues to develop its plan and may look to the results its own online survey to help guide its policies.
How exactly things will unfold isn’t clear, but Health Minister Pauline Frost said in a news release last week that people living in the territory favour a “public health approach” to legal cannabis.
According to the survey, about 45 per cent of respondents said 19 should be the minimum age to buy pot, which matches the minimum age in Yukon for buying alcohol.
The government in the Northwest Territories has also has been holding public consultations and will be looking at the results of its own online survey.
The public feedback included things like a minimum age of 19 and a call for rules restricting smoking pot in public, particularly around kids.
According to the government, respondents were divided on whether communities should be allowed to put local limits in place.
The Nunavut government has not yet unveiled its plan or released the results of its survey regarding pot legalization.