Canada Still Hashing Out Cannabis Act Details

Canada Wants More Time To Review Cannabis Act

In an interview last Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that recreational cannabis is on track for summer. This promise comes despite significant push-back from Canadian senators for a delay in the implementation of the new law. Officials claim that they may need up to a year for consultations with indigenous communities before implementing the Cannabis Act.
The committee in charge of the talks say the government needs the extra time to ensure “culturally sensitive” materials are available to indigenous peoples to warn of the risks of consuming cannabis. Officials also want to finalize negotiations for revenue sharing with First Nations before the law goes into effect. First Nations government representatives want to make sure they get a fair share of the millions of dollars in taxes Canadians expect to come in.
Beginning in 2018, all cannabis providers in Canada must be authorized by Health Canada to provide dried marijuana, fresh flower, or cannabis oil to patients. The government has created a list of all authorized providers under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. The list is available to review and download on the Health Canada Website.

Some Providers Aren’t Fully On Board

Health Canada takes compliance seriously. They have a number of enforcement tools including suspending or revoking licenses. Non-compliance can also lead to prosecution so providers have a major incentive to conform to the regulations.
Despite the ramifications, there are approximately 300 medical marijuana providers across the territories operating illegally. Law enforcement is aware of them and taking action to shut them down. But until the Cannabis Act is passed and implemented, dispensaries don’t have to follow standards so shutting down bad actors is a challenge.
The lack of oversight means that many Canadian dispensaries obtain their product from the black market. Patients needing clean medicine put themselves at risk when purchasing from these providers. So many patients bypass the mess and grow their own. But there are still many rules and regulations Canadians need to learn and follow when growing their own medicine.

Patients Have Some Protection

Medical users aren’t allowed to let others smoke, import or export their cannabis, seeds, or derivatives. That includes things like hashish, concentrates and even resin. It doesn’t matter if they grew it themselves or if they purchased it from a licensed provider, sharing is strictly forbidden.
But if you so happen to have marijuana seeds on hand and a medical license, you are in luck. In 2016, a British Columbia judge ruled that medical cannabis users are allowed to grow at home. With the right documentation from the Government, some Canadians are allowed to grow marijuana seeds for medical use legally.
However, until the Cannabis Act is finalized, it is still illegal to produce and distribute marijuana for recreational purposes. This makes the delay a major concern to people trying to get ahead of the curve. Another year of debating can lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue and thousands of patients without access to safe products.

Do you think the delay in implementing the new Cannabis Act is justified? Is Health Canada doing the best thing for patients and the population at large? How do you think the government should handle the situation? Let us know in the comments section!



5 Reasons People Smoke Recreational Weed

There are way more than 5 reasons people use marijuana recreationally.

It doesn’t matter if it’s because MMJ patients don’t get to keep their guns or because you don’t want a paper trail. Some people use weed without getting a medical card. We call these people recreational users and believe these are the top 5 reasons they smoke weed.
While medical patients smoke weed to cure cancer or leukemia, recreational stoners usually smoke for one of the 5 reasons on this list. Some may buck the trend and not conform, but I hope these modern day unicorns are compelled to let us know in the comments how they diverge.

Chilling out

Modern life is full of bullshit that you kind of have to deal with. Mouthing off at work will get most people fired which leads to a host of bad experiences. But that doesn’t make dealing with the crap coming your way any easier. Without a release valve, tension builds until you want to explode at something.
So people smoke to help them deal with the stress of things like exams, getting a divorce or a hard day of work. These people decide to smoke weed instead of lash out destructively in other ways. In a day when a diploma increasingly requires bullet dodging abilities, having a non-violent way to unwind that won’t destroy the body is pretty attractive.

Improving media5 reasons

Everybody knows that smoking weed makes most movies better. Plays, operas and concerts also benefit from toking on some sticky icky. Getting high makes short term memory pretty much worthless. But this is a benefit because it allows you to experience a familiar event as though it were new.
Do you remember what it was like to hear your favorite song the first time? How about a joke so dumb you can’t stop laughing at how bad it is? Now imagine getting that experience over and over and you will begin to understand. Weed makes bad movies hilarious and great movies bend minds in the best of ways.

Dealing with annoying people/situations

We all know that one person who makes your blood boil just by being in the same room as you. We’ve all also wondered if we should smoke before dealing with a terrible situation you simply need to be present for. High stress situations like visiting in-laws or getting a roommate dealing with ‘personal space’ issues often demand a level of calm unavailable to an active mind.
Instead of spending the entire party thinking about how you want to even the score, getting high can give you the ability to simply think about something else. It’s hard to be mad at someone when your thoughts are consumed with the fact that cheese is just moldy milk. Especially when you start trying to figure out to turn expired milk into cheese.

To get off something else

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam applauds visitors during the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

People will try all sorts of things to get over an addiction. Most treatments perform little better than chance. But amazingly, recent scientific studies show that cannabis significantly promotes opioid addiction recovery.
The effects are strongest when the weed is dosed out by doctors instead of by drug dealers. But even the seeds and stems peddled by the U.S. government show signs of actually helping people. The anecdotal evidence for getting off common vices like cigarettes and alcohol is also pretty compelling.

Because it’s better than other drugs

There are a ton of drugs on the market. MDMA, crack, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, caffeine, and a million others constantly compete with weed for users. But marijuana beats them out for several reasons. The biggest reasons are that weed is cheaper, less harmful, easier to get a hold of and can be dropped at any time.
The lack of hangover and ability to stop using at any time make weed especially nice. Unlike alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, prescriptions and club drugs, nobody has ever died from marijuana alone. So when times get tough, cutting out weed is as easy as not buying it.

Do you agree with our 5 reasons people smoke recreational weed? Know someone this list describes perfectly? It’s OK if you fall into more than one group. Let us know how this list stacks up to your experience in the comment section!

rec mari

Recreational Marijuana Grow: Starting Out

There are a few fundamental steps to starting a new business.

Whether you are starting an investing firm or a marijuana grow, there are a few key steps to making a dream into a business reality. Read any business startup book or ask any successful entrepreneur and you will more or less get the same list.
The list goes a bit like this: write a business plan, find a location, work out the business structure, get licensed, establish infrastructure, contract with partners, and finally promote the hell out of it. Fail in any part of that list and the consequences are dire. But some of the risks and challenges in the marijuana industry are unique to recreational growers and those are what I want to focus on.

Barriers to success in the recreational marijuana market are growing. Wall of weed

Oregon recently did away with all residency requirements related to ownership and investment in recreational pot. This means that people don’t have to live in Oregon to start their application process (unlike other states). Outside investors can channel money into operations based in Oregon and never have to physically be at the property.
There are also no formal capital requirements like there are for fast food franchising or insurance underwriting. In essence, if you can pass a background check, have a spot, and pay the annual fees (starts around $5000 a year) you can get licensed to grow weed in Oregon. This is a big change from the previous rules that had strict rules for who could even apply.
On the surface, these kinds of changes seem like they are great for small business and to some extent they are. Yet competition and rising prices are forcing many long time producers to rethink how they do business. Costs for laboratory testing have skyrocketed as lawmakers impose new restrictions and tests be performed. Less than a year ago, the average price for testing was between $300 and $500. Today that number is closer to $3500.

Cannabis is moving away from Mom and Pop.marijuana grow

The rising cost of testing is only one area where weed growers are feeling pinched. The incredible level of regulation and reporting that recreational growers are faced with is enough to make anyone pullout their hair. Add to that the delays caused by having thousands of producers and only a handful of laboratories and regulators to sign off on permits. Yet some states can handle the influx better.
While it can take up to 18 months to get through the licensing process in Washington (who has merged their recreational and medical programs), it might only take 10 months to get permitted in California. The long delay is enough to derail many individuals who simply don’t have the time or money to push things along or adjust to changing regulations.

Compliance is a big and constantly changing part of a marijuana grow.Tracking Product

Washington State’s cannabis regulations change on a monthly basis and the same can be said about Oregon. The Oregon legislature even added four new marijuana bills recently which caused the two governing bodies to scramble to write rules around them. For the first time in the 17 year history of the Oregon medical program, growers are required to report online. At the same time, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is changing concentration limits for edible products.
If the idea of; constantly redesigning packaging, testing costs growing by orders of magnitude, waiting for close to a year before getting to start making money, and the extreme amount of reporting required doesn’t excite you then you might want to rethink getting in. No matter which state you try to start a recreational grow, a marijuana grow will have to deal with these challenges in addition to finding a good spot.

Remember that location is key.Location (Cosmic Depot)

The old adage “Location location location” holds true here. In states like Washington and Colorado, there is no difference between a medical and recreational grow since they merged their markets. In states like Oregon though, there is a patchwork of friendly and unfriendly marijuana jurisdictions. Yet even in states where the systems are merged, finding a good spot for a marijuana grow is tough.
Even where weed is welcomed, zoning rules and time, place and manner restrictions prevent growing weed in certain areas or neighborhoods. It is also important to remember that growers must submit Land Use Compatibility Statements (LUCS) during the permitting process. New York entrepreneurs must demonstrate they’re in control or possession of the buildings, land or premises to cultivate, process and dispense marijuana,or they will have to put up a $2 million bond.
Even after finding a suitable location, growers must remain vigilant. Many operations worry about getting shut down after a school moves into an area after the grow was established. Most states view the marijuana establishment as ‘grandfathered in” but normally come to a conclusion on a case by case basis. Yet schools and zoning work to limit a marijuana grow.

Marijuana grows are transitioning to the recreational market. marijuana grow

In states like Washington they don’t have much choice as the markets have officially merged. States like Oregon decided to keep their medical programs unchanged. So only medical producers are still subject to two-year residency restrictions. Medical producers (unlike recreational) officially can’t make profit so are limited on how much they can earn.
The increased profitability for farmers producing recreational product presents a real incentive for growers to switch to recreational. This further compounds the issues of increased competition, increasing testing costs and the difficulty in finding a decent location. Yet these challenges don’t seem to be slowing down or going away any time soon.
Even in states where medical and recreational systems are both in place, legislators and business owners are preparing for the merging of the systems. The increased taxes generated by licensing and fees has to be paid whether a business succeeds wonderfully or fails horribly. Don’t forget to factor in states perpetually looking for ways to generate additional revenue.

The recreational market is growing but not bull bong

NerdWallet recently conducted a study. They found that if all 50 states legalized cannabis today, it would generate a collective $3 billion a year in taxes. With those kinds of figures running around post recession, it is easy to understand why states would actually be considering legalizing marijuana. It is also easy to see why a mom and pop marijuana grow is at such a disadvantage in the recreational market. Even though they are the lifeblood of the medical market.
Corporations like Pfizer, Monsanto and Phillip Morris all have a vested interest in controlling cannabis production. With a collective fortune that would rival most nations, these corporations have leveled their might at taking control of production.

The deck is stacked against a small marijuana grow.growing weed

Take a small business owner growing in a barn and can only produce one pound each harvest. It may take that farmer $900 to produce a pound of weed and another $400 for packaging and delivery. Add the $3500 for testing and that farmer has to charge $4800 per pound to break even. Additionally, that farmer doesn’t get tax cuts like most businesses do. But we can ignore that for now since neither will the corporation.
An international corporation like Nike or Apple can produce that same pound of cannabis (due to economies of scale) at close to $600. They could spend about $200 on packaging and delivery (because they own factories that already make packaging). The corporation has to pay the same $3500 for testing but can test close to 20,000 pounds at once. Which adds about 17 cents to the cost of each pound. This makes their pound cost $800.17.
There is no reason Apple can’t play hard ball either. They could start a sister marijuana grow company to put most small farmers out of business.  Why not decide to take no profit and cut prices by 16% to stimulate demand for their product? A corporation can also file hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers like Monsanto is known to do. A company could also simply break the law and pay any fines they incurred in the process like BP does.

The game is designed for big players.Trichome Teaching

Now a dispensary can choose to pay $4800 or $800.17 per pound. If they choose the small farmer, they are limited on how much they can obtain. If they run out for any reason, there simply isn’t any more for the farmer to sell. The corporation on the other hand can produce more than a single dispensary can ever go through. They can simply send another pound if needed.
Dispensaries will choose the lower cost option or go out of business. Economic drivers and current US regulations work to force businesses to pursue the lowest cost option. If they don’t adjust (especially in a market that is overcrowded by competitors) they will go out of business.
It seems everyone is starting a marijuana grow. The low bar for entry and the extreme reporting requirements mixed with the challenges of a flooded market and international money make becoming a grower a risky business. Surely many will make millions of dollars before the large corporations squeeze out the little guys. Most will simply waste the little money they have trying to chase a dream that has been legislated and sold into oblivion.
Thanks for reading.


Governor of Vermont Veto's Pot Bill

Just when Vermont was about to make history, the governor stepped in.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, is vetoing a bill to legalize marijuana. His reasoning may be odd but at least he isn’t fundamentally opposed to legalized weed. But he is sending the bill back to the legislature for changes.
“We must get this right,” Scott said at a press conference. He then said something that makes people familiar with climate deniers and religious zealots groan.”I think we need to move a little bit slower.” He was quick to clarify that is views cannabis “through a libertarian lens” so isn’t trying to prevent legalization in principal.
Scott claimed that his actions are due to concerns about detecting and penalizing impaired drivers. He also cited protecting children, and the role and makeup of a Marijuana Regulatory Commission as areas he felt the bill didn’t do well enough.

When the door closes, look for a window.

“I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction.” The governor said. He plans to send recommended changes to the Democratic-majority legislature. If they address his concerns, the governor claims “there is a path forward on this issue.” One point that the governor wants defined is “how impaired is too impaired,” according to the governor’s communications director.
He also wants the legislation to define what devices might be effective at detecting people high on marijuana. But police “do not yet have reliable roadside toxicology tests that can say for sure if someone’s too high to drive in the way a breathalyzer or blood test can show if someone’s too drunk.”
Despite recreational use being illegal up till now, the Vermont Department of Health found that the state has among the “highest prevalence of marijuana use” in the country. The Vermont DOH also claims the state has the most users across all age groups, and the second highest of all states among those age 12 to 25.

Vermont was almost 9th and 1st.

If the bill hadn’t been vetoed, Vermont would have become the 9th state to legalize recreational marijuana. But it would have been the first to have done so via a legislative body. Everyone else has used a public referendum. In November, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voters legalized recreational pot.
Vermont joints Arizona voters as the only states to have rejected it. But the Green Mountain State looks to be a lot closer to getting adjusted legislation passed. Partly because of the cooperation of the state house and senate on this issue so far. While it was difficult to come to a compromise before, the governors demands seem to be road bumps instead of roadblocks.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have pending legislation to legalize marijuana for adults. And more than half of states allow medical use of marijuana. Hope is not lost for Vermont though. With a few tweaks, the legislation may be able to make it back to the governor’s desk. Only this time, let’s hope he actually signs it.

Oregon on Track to Make a Lot of Money from Retail Cannabis Taxes

Oregon on Track to Make a Lot of Money from Retail Cannabis Taxes

The Oregon retail cannabis market has traveled a rough road since being legalized back in 2014. When the citizens of the state voted to legalize retail cannabis for adults over the age of 21, there was already an existing medical marijuana program in the state. In 2015, on October 1st, medical marijuana dispensaries in the state were able to start selling a limited selection and quantity of cannabis to retail consumers over the age of 21.
The Money is Rolling In Already
When sales began in October there were no immediate taxes applied to the sale of retail cannabis. This changed on the 1st of January when the state implemented a 25% sales tax on all recreational cannabis sales in the state. So far since January when they started collecting taxes, the state has collected almost 25.5 million dollars in taxes from retail or recreational marijuana sales. This figure was released on October 22nd by the Oregon Department of Revenue and includes the sale of all marijuana-based products, including marijuana-infused edibles which went on sale in June on the retail Market.
The 25% tax that is currently being charged on retail recreational sales in the state is expected to decrease to just 17% on October 1st. This is when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission takes over the regulation and oversight of the recreational market. The state is estimating that by the end of the year they will have collected roughly 44.4 million dollars in marijuana taxes. Not too shabby for the first year of taxed sales in the state!
According to estimates, it is going to cost the state almost 29 million dollars to regulate marijuana of which 12 million will be covered by retail cannabis taxes. The remaining balance will be covered utilizing the money that comes from licensing marijuana businesses in the state. Whatever is left from the marijuana taxes at that time will be distributed according to the original laid out formula in the law.
Where All the Money  Is Going to Go
The law states that 40% of the taxes will go to the state’s common school fund and 20% of the taxes collected by the state will be used for mental health, drug, and alcoholism services. 15% of the left over taxes will go to the Oregon State Police, 10% will be going to city law enforcement and 10% will go to county level law enforcement officers. The remaining 5% will go to the Oregon Health Authority for early intervention, prevention, and treatment services for alcohol and drug abuse.
image credit: