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Washington Cannabis: Then and Now

Cannabis has come a long way since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively outlawed the substance. The Controlled Substances Act followed the repeal of the Marihuana Tax in 1971, keeping the drug illegal and making it a Schedule I substance. It wasn’t until 1998 that Washington State made the drug legal for medicinal use to help treat certain conditions. 

Brief history of Cannabis in Washington 

The history of legalization in Washington began in 1998 when voters passed Initiative 692 (I-692), which allowed patients suffering from terminal illness and certain debilitating conditions to possess and consume marijuana. It took almost a decade later, in 2007 for lawmakers to define how much a patient could possess. The decision was that a patient could possess a 60-day supply, which was defined as 24 ounces and no more than 15 plants. Still, for the most part, the sale and commercial cultivation of the plant remained illegal. 

In 2012, voters in Washington decided to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. This provided for the regulation of the product at a state level as well as the taxation of cannabis

Back when it was only legal for medical users, one had to visit a doctor authorized to prescribe the drug. Then, a patient could possess only enough product to last 60 days, as noted above. However, one had to live in the state and have an in-state physician to obtain a medical marijuana card. Possession of the drug without the card was illegal. 

Now, anyone can walk into a dispensary or a dab bar or a cannabis bar and partake in cannabis. A prescription is no longer necessary to possess the drug, however, only those possessing a medical marijuana prescription can grow the drug. 

Another effect of legalizing recreationally is that prices have fallen. In just three years, prices for cannabis fell a staggering 67%, with further decreases in price predicted. 

Ways to Consume Cannabis

Along with legalization, a host of related industries have sprung up to help people consume cannabis in different ways. The most popular way, of course, is rolling the dried flowers into a paper, known as a joint, and smoking it. Rolling papers come in a variety of lengths and now can be made from differing fibers, including CBD hemp papers for that additional medical kick.

Another way to consume cannabis that is growing in popularity is vaporization. One of the most popular vapes for medical use are the Volcano Vaporizers. Volcano Vaporizers can use a whip, which is a long piece of plastic tubing through which the vapor from heating dried buds is drawn. The vaporizer can also be used to fill a plastic bag with the vapor, which is then inhaled. 

Box mod vapes also are a growing way to ingest marijuana. Dry herbs can be placed in a vaporizer specifically created for the purpose. Cannabis concentrates like CBD oils or waxes or THC concentrates can also be placed into the atomizer or tanks of certain box mods to allow the vaporization of oils. 

Edibles are another way to consume cannabis that is popular among medical patients. Edibles are popular for many reasons, one of which is they do not have the negative stigma of smoking joints and people feel that they are healthier overall. Edibles also have a longer period of relief, though they take longer to kick in than smoking or vaporization.

Another way to consume cannabis is via a hookah. With this method, dried herbs are placed into a bowl at the top of the device and then combusted, with the smoke being drawn through small tubes. Some hookahs allow for multiple people to smoke at once by drawing through multiple hoses. 

Legalization in the state has not been a smooth road. Although the 2013 Cole Memo of the Obama Administration provided that Federal law enforcement would not become involved in states that had voted to legalize cannabis. However, in 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the memo, to the dismay of both Republican and Democrat congressmen in states where the drug was legal. 

Cannabis is now legal for recreational purposes in 9 states and Washington, D.C. There is hope that the drug will soon be legalized nationally, following countries like Canada and Uruguay. 

Author

Michael Jacobs is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points 

 

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Ottawa to speed up approval process for pot producers

The federal government is getting ready to drastically speed up its licensing process to increase the numbers of companies that are authorized to produce marijuana for the recreational market that will open up in the first half of 2018, sources said.

A senior federal official said that in addition to tabling legislation to legalize marijuana on Thursday, the federal government will announce a push to authorize new producers of marijuana. At this point, there are 42 companies that have the necessary authorizations from Health Canada to produce marijuana for medical purposes across the country.

The official said the current holders of licences will have a head start once the market is opened up to recreational users, but added that the federal government will add staff and resources at Health Canada to speed up the approval process for new producers

A key concern is ensuring that the supply of marijuana will meet the demand for the drug once it is legalized by the unofficial deadline of July 1, 2018. As Ottawa works toward squeezing out illegal producers of marijuana, federal officials are worried that a shortage of cannabis would hurt their plans in the initial stages of legalization.

Another priority for the government will be to ensure that there is a broad variety of producers of marijuana serving the recreational market, and not just the existing network that includes many large-scale facilities.

“It’s obvious that the producers who are already licensed have an advantage going in. But there is also a clear desire on the government’s part to have a mix of big and small producers,” said the federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of the tabling of the legislation.

“There is a great deal of awareness to the needs of smaller producers in the government,” the official added.

Federal officials said the government will table its legislation on Thursday, but that a number of key issues will only be addressed in the rules and regulations that will be unveiled at a later date.

Ottawa will give itself broad powers to oversee the production of marijuana and to design rules on the marketing of the product, which are expected to be similar to the ones that govern Canada’s tobacco industry.

The federal government will leave the provinces and territories entirely in charge of overseeing the distribution and sale of marijuana, in line with Canada’s alcohol regime.

“We are going to let them make their own choices on the sales side,” the federal official said. “It’s going to be similar to the situation with alcohol. In Alberta, it’s in the hands of the private sector, whereas in Quebec and Ontario, it’s run by the state.”

After it is tabled in the House, the legislation to legalize marijuana will be studied in committee. At the same time, the provinces will be expected to develop their own plans to distribute and sell the product.

The federal government will also be working to develop an “interim system” by which marijuana would be available across Canada even if some provinces do not develop their own distribution mechanisms quickly enough. Sources said the project remains in development, although Canada Post could deliver recreational marijuana by mail, as it currently does with medical marijuana.

The federal legislation will be inspired in large part by a task force led by former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, which proposed a complete legalization model in a well-received report last year.

The task force urged the government to allow Canadians to buy or carry 30 grams of marijuana for personal use, and to grow up to four plants at home. The task force also recommended a system that would feature storefront sales and mail-order distribution, and allow a wide range of producers to operate legally, including “craft” growers and the current producers of medical marijuana.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already endorsed one of its key recommendations: that marijuana should be legal for people who are of legal drinking age – 18 or 19 years old, depending on the province they live in.

Original Article: DANIEL LEBLANC, Ottawa — The Globe and Mail, Published Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017 12:31PM EDT

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Liberals to announce marijuana will be legal by July 1, 2018

The Liberal government will announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018.

CBC News has learned that the legislation will be announced during the week of April 10 and will broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force that was chaired by former liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.

Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief who has been stickhandling the marijuana file for the government, briefed the Liberal caucus on the roll-out plan and the legislation during caucus meetings this weekend, according to a senior government official who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity.

Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, briefed the Liberal caucus on new marijuana legislation, which leaves the provinces to decide how marijuana is distributed and sold, according to a senior government official. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Provinces to control sales

The federal government will be in charge of making sure the country's marijuana supply is safe and secure and Ottawa will license producers.

But the provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set price.

While Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana, the provinces will have the option of setting a higher age limit if they wish.

4 plants per household

As for Canadians who want to grow their own marijuana, they will be limited to four plants per household.

Legalizing marijuana was one of the more controversial promises Justin Trudeau made as he campaigned to become prime minister.

 

But in their platform the Liberals said it was necessary to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana" in order to keep drugs "out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals."

The Liberals had promised to introduce legislation by the Spring of 2017. Announcing the legislation the week of April 10 will allow the party to hit that deadline.

Raids raise questions

Trudeau referred again to that rough timetable a few weeks ago when he said the legislation would be introduced before the summer. But at the same time he also warned that it wasn't yet open season for the legal sale of marijuana.

"Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply," Trudeau said in Esquimalt, B.C. on March 1.

That warning became more concrete a week later, when police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities carried out raids on marijuana dispensaries and charged several people with possession and trafficking, including noted pot advocates Marc and Jodie Emery.

Trudeau's promise to legalize marijuana was seen as one of the reasons for the Liberals' strong showing among youth voters in the 2015 election. 

But at the NDP's leadership debate in Montreal Sunday, which was focused on youth issues, several of the candidates pointed to marijuana legislation as an example of a broken Liberal promise.

"I do not believe Justin Trudeau is going to bring in the legalization of marijuana and as proof that ... we are still seeing, particularly young, Canadians being criminalized by simple possession of marijuana," said B.C. MP Peter Julian.

Federal marijuana legislation to be introduced in spring 2017, Philpott says

Original Article By David Cochrane, CBC News Posted: Mar 26, 2017 9:00 PM ET

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A former Liberal cabinet minister who recently chaired a panel guiding Ottawa’s push to legalize cannabis says police everywhere should enforce the existing prohibition of marijuana, despite several communities in British Columbia choosing to regulate – not raid – illegal pot shops.

Anne McLellan, head of an official task force that submitted recommendations to Ottawa on how best to legalize cannabis, said Thursday that Vancouver crafted Canada’s first municipal marijuana bylaw in response to what was a “growing difficult situation for them.”

But the former minister of public safety, health and justice in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin said other cities should not follow suit before the current laws change, echoing what the federal government has repeatedly said when asked about the rise of illegal dispensaries.

“Nobody would deny that there are some practical problems at street level, absolutely, nobody denies that,” said Ms. McLellan, who was in Vancouver speaking at Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus on the work the task force did last year.

“Cities should wait until the law changes instead of making their own rules now and hoping to adapt them to a federal framework later on,” she said. “I cannot advocate that anybody break existing laws. We are a nation of law-abiding citizens.”

Ottawa is expected to table legislation this spring that will legalize and regulate recreational marijuana over the next two years. While the stores are still illegal under federal law, they have proliferated in cities such as Vancouver and Victoria, where local politicians argue their rules can eventually be adapted to any national framework regulating the storefront sale of the drug.

All dispensaries and compassion clubs across Canada still operate outside the federal government’s medical-marijuana program, which permits about 30 industrial-scale growers to sell dried flowers and bottles of cannabis oil directly to patients through the mail.

The federal government has said its two core priorities behind legalizing the recreational sale of marijuana are: to keep the drug out of the hands of young people and to stop the flow of money to organized criminals involved in the production and sale of the drug on the black market.

Vancouver’s approach to regulating its dispensaries stands in stark contrast to Toronto’s, where police and politicians say a continuing crackdown has become more urgent as these pot shops have become a magnet for violent thieves because some owners are reluctant to report robberies.

Civic and provincial politicians across the country are waiting on the coming legalization bill to give some guidance as to where the drug may be sold once it is legalized.

Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang, architect of the local dispensary bylaw, said he was disappointed in Ms. McLellan and Ottawa’s rhetoric, noting they both appear to be eschewing the public-health approach of his city, and that of other communities in B.C. also licensing these illegal stores.

“It’s sort of like we’re in purgatory,” he said Thursday. “And when you’re in purgatory, it’s not about allocating our resources, it’s about advocating what’s right for our citizens – that’s what Vancouver has done.”

He said he wants Ms. McLellan to push federal ministers to implement the new legislation faster because local governments across the country are wasting millions of dollars containing the grey cannabis market.

“When it comes to resources, the federal government better provide good resources for us to help enforce and help manage what they want us to do,” said Mr. Jang, a clinical psychiatrist. “Otherwise, we’re going to be back to square one.”

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has long advocated that cities deserve to receive some of the eventual tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales if they are expected to enforce federal cannabis laws.

The federal Liberals have said any pot proceeds would be directed to addiction treatment, mental-health support and education programs, and that provinces and territories will also have a significant say in how cannabis revenues are spent. A recent study from the parliamentary budget watchdog predicted that about 60 per cent of marijuana taxation will flow to the provinces.

Ms. McLellan, now in the public-policy division of Bennett Jones, one of the Canada’s leading law firms operating in the cannabis sector, said different communities have different concerns about the drug, as evidenced by Toronto and Vancouver’s contrasting approach to dealing with illegal dispensaries.

Original article by: MIKE HAGER, VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail. Published Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017 10:04PM EDT

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As investors flock to Canada’s burgeoning marijuana sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is signaling recreational pot sales aren’t imminent.

Lawmaker Bill Blair -- the former Toronto police chief leading Trudeau’s legalization effort -- confirmed a bill is due in parliament this spring, but it won’t be the last hurdle as ample regulatory work remains. The federal government will take its time and work with provinces, territories and cities to build a framework and develop specific regulations, he said.

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The government is also looking for ways to control production, distribution and consumption of legalized marijuana, while testing it for quality and keeping it out of the hands of minors, Mr. Blair said.

“We will take as much time as it takes to do it right,” Mr. Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s justice minister, said in an interview Monday. “I’m pretty reluctant to suggest a specific time frame, frankly, because I don’t know how long this will take in each of our 10 provinces and three territories.”

Mr. Blair’s comments come as Canada’s nascent marijuana industry balloons, with investor optimism being fueled by analyst estimates that recreational sales could start as early as 2018.

The government’s plan to introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 “could pave the way for the legal sale of recreational cannabis by 2018,” Canaccord Genuity analysts Matt Bottomley and Neil Maruoka said in a November research note. Canada’s recreational pot industry has the potential to reach $6-billion in sales by 2021 if legalization occurs along “expected timelines,” according to the note.

Canopy Growth Corp. became the first marijuana unicorn in 2016 and had a valuation of $1.9-billion on Monday. Other producers, including Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Aphria Inc.Inc., have seen their share prices surge more than 400 per cent in the past 12 months.

Canopy shares fell as much as 7.5 per cent in Toronto while Aurora tumbled 5.1 per cent and Aphria slid 3 per cent.

Dampened Buzz

“If they delay, there’s going to be a lot of eggs that are going to break in this business,” Chris Damas, an analyst at BCMI Research in Barrie, Ont., said by phone Monday. “The valuations are extreme.”

Licensed marijuana producers are in the midst of expanding their capacity and there will be a “huge amount” of excess cannabis if Canada delays legalization, Damas said. The analyst said Mr. Blair’s previous comments suggest it’s unlikely the government will introduce a bill by June and companies with huge valuations “won’t have any serious business” if the recreational market takes longer to come to fruition.

“There could be a lot of disappointment,” he said.

In a separate interview Monday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Mr. Blair said the government was going to design a legalized marijuana system that included measurement and testing of products, as well as enforcement. While the proposed legislation is due this spring, “it’s not sufficient to simply come forward with a bill,” he said.

The government may also explore ways to direct revenue from marijuana sales to funding additional drug treatment, including for fentanyl as Canada grapples with an opioid crisis, he added.

Since taking a position on legalization ahead of the 2015 election, Trudeau has gradually turned toward emphasizing safety, saying regularly it shouldn’t be easier for youth to buy marijuana than to buy beer. Putting the file in the hands of a prominent law-enforcement veteran is another signal the government is approaching legalization with an eye to tight regulation.

Blair declined to comment on whether the regulations could be finalized by 2018 -- an expected election year in Ontario, home to Canopy and other companies -- or 2019, when the next federal election is scheduled.

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation issued a report in December that recommends the Canadian government regulate the production of marijuana while provinces control the distribution and retail sales, including through dedicated storefronts with well-trained staff or by mail.

Original Post: JEN SKERRITT AND JOSH WINGROVE

Bloomberg News, Published Tuesday, Mar. 07, 2017 2:10PM EST

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