Tag: adult-use

Dear Justin: I Beg Your Pardons

Hello Justin! The holiday season is just a few weeks away, which means it’s time for kindness, love, and most importantly, forgiveness. Ah forgiveness, a healing exchange that dissolves contempt and resentment, unburdening us from the wrongdoing of others.

Your office’s silence on pardons and amnesty for ‘cannabis criminals’ is an action unworthy of your family legacy.

You’ve shown you understand forgiveness, Justin. You’ve begged forgiveness of our Indigenous Peoples, and apologized for Canada’s conviction of those found guilty of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts—a law loosened in 1969 by your father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who historically said, “I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

And yet, despite your understanding of forgiveness, I’m worried you lack the ability to practice it meaningfully. Your office’s silence and side-stepping concerning pardons for cannabis charges and amnesty for those currently convicted or incarcerated for soon-to-be-legal cannabis crimes is an action unworthy of your family legacy.

Earlier this year, Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale said, “The Trudeau government is not considering a blanket pardon for people with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug [marijuana]…It is important to note that as the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected.”

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I realize there’s concern of a cannabis free-for-all gripping our society as we approach July 1, but this is about logic: If a person is arrested in possession of 30 grams of cannabis or less sometime in the next six months, is it really reasonable for that person to be charged? Is ethical or even practical to entangle them in the legal system? And should those convicted and/or currently imprisoned for such a crime—one that will soon be totally legal—really continue to live in a criminalized world? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I’d sure love to know why.

While I’m chasing down explanations, brace yourself for a future interrogation on the newly announced excise tax—a one dollar per gram tax that’ll apply not just to recreational sales but also medical cannabis. Do you seriously want to make it more expensive for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic pain to access their medicine? Are we really that worried about healthy people faking sick to access a legal drug?

62% of Canadians would support a blanket pardon for cannabis possession offences.

Just for fun, let’s project ourselves into the future: The year is 2045, your own child serves as Prime Minister because this is how we choose leaders now. They stand before a media scrum to deliver a heartfelt apology to Canadians whose lives were derailed by cannabis offences, before the drug became legal. I suspect this vision is not Pierre-approved.

Your government’s reluctance to face this issue makes me think they haven’t read the recent Nanos Research poll indicating that 62% of Canadians would support a blanket pardon for cannabis possession offences. That’s 10% higher than your latest approval rating, by the way. So how do you put into practice what we, the people want? Simple, blame it on the scientists.

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Researchers at the C.D Howe Institute released a report asking the government to consider pardons as well as dropping outstanding charges to achieve a practical, sensible goal: to free resources for the legalization process itself. And while we’re at it, C.D Howe also wants you to consider pardoning people who have been convicted for illegal possession of cannabis but have no other convictions, and have not been charged with any other Criminal Code offence. Humane, practical, forward thinking, modern and it saves money? Our next Prime Minister Trudeau would be proud.

Now I’m not a fancy, non-profit think tank, but I would ask that you add streamlining the pardon process to your list of things to consider. As it stands, this is a rigorous (and confusing) application process that can begin only five years after a sentence is completed. This time-served, half-decade hangover effectively makes the road back to employment in our desperate job economy all the more difficult to survive.

The charges are piling up, the legal system continues to bloat beyond its capacity, the law is indeed erroneous, and the time to fix it is now.

I will give you half marks for hinting that your government would look into changing the laws. But you only did it when pressed by a constituent who challenged you face-to-face at an event.

“We will change the law,” you replied. “We are taking the time necessary to get it right. Then we will move forward in a thoughtful way on fixing past wrongs that happened because of this erroneous law that I didn’t put in place and that I’m working hard to fix.”

Justin, the charges are piling up, the legal system continues to bloat beyond its capacity, the law is indeed erroneous, and the time to fix it is now.

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And though cannabis-related offences have been on the decline for the past five years, there were still 55,000 offences in 2016 alone, and about 61,000 in 2015. Without a plan for amnesty and streamlined pardons, Canada faces a great risk: crippling citizens, many of whom are youth, who are simply victims of poor timing and government shortsightedness.

So, this holiday season, instead of dodging the question, you need only stop and ask yourself if you want to be remembered as a leader who will need forgiveness for his unfair actions, or one who applied reason, compassion, and practicality to allow many Canadians to avoid being meaninglessly embroiled in the legal system.

As they say over at C.D Howe, just “consider” it, okay?

Kate

California’s Legal Cannabis Countdown: What’s Coming by Jan. 1

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California has published the rules that will govern its legal marijuana economy in 2018, giving businesses and consumers a glimpse into the future.

But there are important steps before legal recreational sales kick off on Jan. 1, and even more uncertainties about how the marketplace will function. Warning: Don’t count on being able to stroll into your local dispensary on New Year’s Day to celebrate with an infused cookie or a joint.

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Why Are the Regulations Important?

They form the framework of the new cannabis economy, estimated to be worth $7 billion. Can you make animal-shaped edibles? No. Transport products in a drone? No. But retailers can be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a dense stack of rules that includes fees for licensing (nearly $80,000 annually for a large grower), how cannabis will be traced from seed to sale and testing requirements to ensure customers get what they pay for.

Can I Buy Legal, Adult-Use Cannabis on Jan. 1?

For most people, probably not. It will vary place to place, but many cities are not prepared. Even though the state regulations went out Thursday, the Bureau of Cannabis Control is still developing an online system for businesses to apply for operating licenses. California is working out technical bugs and hopes it will be ready in early December.

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San Francisco Almost Certainly Won’t Be Selling Cannabis on Jan. 1

“There certainly will be licenses issued on Jan. 1,” said Alex Traverso of the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

“The state dropped the ball big time. This should have been done by June, July.”

Donnie Anderson, Los Angeles grower and retailer

But there’s a snag: To apply for a state license, a grower or seller first needs a local permit, and many cities are struggling to establish those rules, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the biggest markets.

“I think the state dropped the ball big time. This should have been done by June, July,” said Los Angeles grower and retailer Donnie Anderson. “I don’t think this is going to be ready.”

Other places, like Kern County, have banned commercial cannabis activity. At the same time, San Diego is among the cities that have local rules in place and are ready for legal sales. Palm Springs is planning for cannabis lounges, where recreational marijuana can be smoked on site.

A Gradual Start

For six months, the state is allowing businesses to bend the rules a bit, recognizing it will take time for the new system to take hold. During that period, businesses can sell products that do not meet new packaging requirements. Retailers can sell inventory that does not meet new rules for ingredients or appearance.

At an industry conference in September, California’s top marijuana regulator sought to ease concerns that the state would move quickly on enforcement against operations without licenses. If authorities are aware a business has applied for a license “I don’t want you to have anxiety that we’re out there and we’re going to be enforcing everything right away,” said Lori Ajax, who heads the state cannabis bureau.

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Everything Is Temporary

Even if you get a license, it will be temporary — good for 120 days. In some cases, there can be a 90-day extension on top of that. During that time, the state will review a business’ credentials and information submitted in the license application, such as financial records and investors in the business.

The regulations issued by the state this week are temporary, too.

Many Challenges Remain

Key pieces of the legal cannabis system are still in the works. A massive tracking system that will follow plants from seed to sale is in development, but officials say it will be ready at the start of the new year. It’s not clear if enough distributors will be available to move cannabis from fields to testing labs and eventually to retail shops, possibly creating a bottleneck between growers and store shelves.

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The Looming Illicit Market

No one knows how many operators will apply for licenses. While medical marijuana has been legal in California for over two decades, most growing and selling occurs in the black market. Come Jan. 1, officials hope those growers and sellers will join the legal pot economy.

But there are concerns many might continue business as usual to avoid new taxes, which could hit 45 percent in the recreational market in some cases, according to a recent study by Fitch Ratings.

“The existing black market for cannabis may prove a formidable competitor” if taxes send legal retail prices soaring, the report said.

Alberta Will Sell Cannabis Through Private Retailers and a Government Website

The Alberta government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will see private retailers selling cannabis at brick-and-mortar stores and the province conducting online sales starting next July, when the federal government legalizes cannabis for recreational use.

The minimum age for cannabis consumption will be 18 years old.

The provincial government says this hybrid model of sales is a response to the wishes of people who took part in an online consultation and survey.

At a press conference, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said her government has been required to make “a major shift” in a short amount of time. She said the Trudeau government has set “an ambitious deadline” for legalizing recreational cannabis.

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“At the end of the day, we had to choose between moving forward and anticipating that we’ll be ready or just leaving it to the federal government. We felt it would be better to move forward with a framework that reflects Albertans’ concerns and values,” she said.

Some other highlights of Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis:

• The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will obtain and distribute legal cannabis to the private retailers as it now does with alcohol.

• The province has determined that cannabis will not be sold in places that sell tobacco, liquor or pharmaceuticals—but has yet to release details about how the private stores will operate.

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• Smoking or vaping cannabis will be banned in the same public places where smoking is currently banned, including bars and restaurants.

• Consumption of cannabis will also be banned on hospital grounds and in places where children gather, including schools, daycares, pools, playgrounds and sports fields.

• The minimum age for consumption will be 18 years old.

• Adults will be allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis at any given time.

The government has the power to allow cannabis cafes and lounges to exist but there are no plans for that yet.

How to Be High in Las Vegas: Let’s Gamble!

Nov 15-17 brings the annual Marijuana Business Conference to Las Vegas. The huge cannabis industry convention is expected to draw 14,000 guests from all over the world. In advance of MJBizCon—and in celebration of Nevada’s freshly legal recreational cannabis market—Leafly presents a four-part series for cannabis fans ready to make the most of their time in Vegas.

Cannabis and Games of Chance Are Good Old Friends

(mecaleha/iStock)

“It’s not talked about much, but (cannabis) is pretty pervasive in the poker culture.”

Dutch Boyd, three-time World Series of Poker champion

It’s true: Cannabis has been part of the gambling experience for many years for many people, from giggly high folks plugging away at penny slots to the three-time World Series of Poker champion Dutch Boyd.

“It’s not talked about much, but [cannabis] is pretty pervasive in the poker culture,” Boyd told Leafly this summer, happily allowing that both his recent championship and the post-win “Thriller” dance he performed on the casino floor were at least partially inspired by cannabis.

Still, just because cannabis use exists in the gaming world doesn’t mean casinos welcome or allow it. Even with recreational use now legal, cannabis remains forbidden in casinos, which adhere to federal law, which still classifies cannabis as an illegal Schedule I narcotic.

This anti-cannabis stance of casinos isn’t a pose—ask Isaac Dietrich, former CEO of the cannabis news and information site MassRoots, who this summer was removed from the Wynn casino on the supposition that his gambling money was potentially profit from a federally illegal enterprise.

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So what are cannabis-loving gamblers to do? Furtively imbibe somewhere that’s not a casino, then get their discreetly high butts to a gaming floor?

I’m not here to tell you what to do. For that, let’s turn to Christopher Lee Womack, a poker player and licensed cannabis wholesaler in Colorado, who testified to the rightness of combining cards and cannabis in his own life—“It allows me to have an intoxicating buzz while still being able to think clearly”—and offered these tips for cannabis fans interested in exploring Vegas gaming

1. Take a class. “Pretty much every casino offers free classes on gaming basics,” says Womack. “Get real high and take a craps class, or a blackjack class. Classes are usually every morning at 7, 8, and 9 am, and students are sent away with a matched bet of $15-$20 to get themselves started. If it’s been a while since you played a game, go to a class! Casinos want you to gamble, they want you to have fun, and they’re ready to help you do both.”

2. When establishing your highness, stick to energizing, brain-awakening strains. “Stick to your sativas,” Womack says. “They’re gonna keep you calm and aware and relaxed. You just want to have your wits about you, and I find leaning toward the sativa side helps.” Any particular strain he likes for card-playing? “I like Flo. It has a great flavor, great look, great smell, and is just a great bud.”

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3. Set a gambling limit and stick to it. “Being high and gaming, you want to be cautious, you want to be safe,” says Womack. His top recommendation: setting a strict dollar-amount you’re willing to gamble (i.e. willing to lose) and sticking to it. It doesn’t matter if your limit is high or low—what’s important is compliance with a foreordained logical decision, to keep you out of the magical-thinking zone when things go good or bad.

4. Stick to what you know. “You want to have fun while you’re high, so don’t do anything crazy like play a game you’ve never played before,” Womack says. “Don’t go play high limits all of a sudden when you’ve only got $1,000 in your pocket. It’s about entertainment and fun. If you win some money, that’s great.”

5. Get very high and spend $5 in the slot machine of your choice. Christopher Womack has nothing to do with this tip, it is all mine. By some intricate miracle of targeted commerce, Las Vegas is home to 50 million slot machines, the best of which are high-tech multimedia explosions on a theme, and there is literally something for everyone. Love Downton Abbey? Enjoy the official slot machine, featuring looped video clips from the show and a thrilling orchestral swell upon each win. Love Dolly Parton, Sex and the City, Tim McGraw, Ellen DeGeneres, or the 1992 mob comedy My Cousin Vinny? Vegas slot machines have got you covered. And again, set a limit and stick to it. You’re here for fun, not to lose your shirt to a one-armed Real Housewives-themed bandit.

California Releases Emergency Cannabis Regulations

California is racing toward the launch of a state-regulated cannabis market, with sales set to begin Jan. 1 despite a number of unanswered questions.

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On Thursday, with less than a month and a half before the program is slated to be up and running, state regulators unveiled a long-awaited package of emergency rules that will guide the industry through the transition ahead. We’re poring over those documents and will update this page with key takeaways from the newly released guidelines.

Have questions? Let us know in the comment section.

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Emergency Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations

The Bureau of Cannabis Control released the following package of documents on its website:

This story will be updated.

How to Be High in Las Vegas: Eat Food

Nov 15-17 brings the annual Marijuana Business Conference to Las Vegas. The huge cannabis industry convention is expected to draw 14,000 guests from all over the world. In advance of MJBizCon—and in celebration of Nevada’s freshly legal recreational cannabis market—Leafly presents a four-part series for cannabis fans ready to make the most of their time in town. 

Las Vegas Is the Entertainment Capitol of the World. This Includes Your Mouth.

From sensuous dining experiences to hardcore munchie indulgences, Las Vegas is loaded with seriously pleasurable experiences for people who eat. This is especially true for people whose senses are enhanced by cannabis, which can make peanut butter on a saltine taste like ambrosia so God knows what it can do to the professionally impressive fare of Vegas.

To find out, I got myself blissed out on a series of infused pre-rolls from the downtown branch of Canopi, waited for the munchie itch to hit, then steered myself towards a series of Vegas eateries, starting with…

Burger Brasserie

A Burger Brasserie burger (but not the one that costs $777) (Courtesy of Burger Brasserie)

Located in the mini-Eiffel-Tower-enhanced Paris Las Vegas Hotel, Burger Brasserie bills itself as a “sports bar with a French twist!”—cheeseburgers are available with brie, and instead of cheerleader outfits, hostesses dress in lingerie. It’s like the fanciest Applebee’s you’ve ever seen, staffed by Vanity 6.

It’s like the fanciest Applebee’s you’ve ever seen, staffed by Vanity 6.

It’s also perfectly great, with a vast menu offering something for everyone, from hot dog sliders and onion rings served with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-flavored ranch to the legendary 777 Burger, featuring a Kobe beef patty topped with pancetta, goat cheese, seared foie gras, Maine lobster, and served with a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne (cost: $777).

En route to a show at the nearby Bally’s and unwilling to clobber my munchies with a full-on, potentially sleep-inducing feast, I ordered sensibly, restricting myself to a $14 cheeseburger with a veggie patty and zero milkshakes. Among the jilted shakes: the Cap’n Crunch, featuring vanilla ice cream, Cap’n Crunch cereal, and Captain Morgan spiced rum; and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate, featuring both name-checked ingredients plus amaretto.

As is morally correct, Burger Brasserie’s veggie burger featured the classic Morningstar Farms-style patty preferred by everyone who’s ever smooshed a fancy chef-made veggie patty out the sides of an artisanal bun. Yes, flavor is important, but so is structure, and if your veggie patty can’t withstand a human bite without crumbling, you suck.

The food was good, the menu offered something for every budget, and the service was speedy. Though that might’ve just been the servers trying to keep warm in their camisoles.

Cravings at the Mirage

Cravings buffet, AKA Six Flags for your mouth. (Courtesy of Mirage)

Vegas is famous for its all-you-can-eat buffets, and I sought out one of the most beloved: Cravings at the Mirage, where $30 buys you access to an expansive universe of food plus unlimited beer and wine (!).

Our plan of attack for the buffet: Aim for stuff we’d never make for ourselves at home.

Billed as “the Ultimate Buffet,” Cravings is essentially Six Flags for your mouth. Along its walls reside eleven cooking stations, each representing a distinct locale and a crowd-pleasing approximation of its cuisine. (The “Latin” station features a taco bar, the “Asian” station offers sushi, and the three-quarters of the earth covered by water is repped by The Fishmonger.)

With me at Cravings was my guy Jake, who was also very high and pitched a sensible plan of attack for the buffet: Aim for stuff we’d never make for ourselves at home.

For Jake, this meant early Thanksgiving at the Cravings carving station. He returned with sliced turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and mac n’ cheese and returned for seconds. “Hot sliced meat is what carnivores come to buffets for,” he explained.

For me, it meant a tightly focused exploration of Foods Made Soggy by Cheese. From the Latin station, I got a small plate of queso-drenched tortilla chips. From Italy, a sensible platter of fettucine alfredo. From Jake’s plate, a thief’s portion of mac n’ cheese. And from the Cheesebread Fjord—essentially a make-your-own pizza party with fancy bread—I concocted a portion of pain au soggy frommage.

At the dessert bar, I took revenge on all the shakes I neglected at Burger Brasserie by assembling a Vegas-scaled soft-serve ice cream concoction, loaded with every ridiculous thing I could throw at it with a plastic scoop. I ate a third of it, and felt no guilt. Also, neither Jake nor I took advantage of the free all-you-can-drink booze, but we look forward to the unlimited dab bars of the future.

Spago

Spago: Home of killer prawns, famous movie scenes, and occasionally Siegfried! (Courtesy of Spago)

Located in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace—the upscale mall featuring outlets by Cartier, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, plus a Gap and Cheesecake Factory—Spago is the creation of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, and hailed as the spark that ignited Vegas’ current fine-dining scene.

It’s also the site of a crucial scene in the terrible movie Showgirls, and after seating us, the maître d noticed me craning my neck to look around the sprawling dining room. “Is there something I can help you with?” he asked, with professional politeness.

The maître d was all grace, even though I’d essentially asked, “Can you point me toward the ditch where they shot that porno?”

“Um, there’s a scene in the movie Showgirls…”

“Right over there, sir,” he said, gesturing toward the very table where Nomi and Cristal commiserated sexily over doggie chow. The maître d was all grace, even though I’d essentially asked, “Can you point me toward the ditch where they shot that porno?”

This was but the first magical moment in my Spago experience.

Offering “seasonal cuisine with global influences,” the Spago menu was, on the day I visited, skewing Italian, so I ordered a classic Caesar salad and the spicy linguine with prawns. Both were straightforward and deeply, perfectly delicious, in that there’s-a-reason-some-chefs-are-worth-$75-million way.

The prawns in particular—grilled to surface crispness and exploding with flavor—sent my high-as-hell ass straight to heaven, with each bite providing a feeling of absolutely certainty that there is nothing better than this.

And then I notice Jake, sitting across from me with his eyes fixed on something over my shoulder. I turn to look, still chewing, and find myself looking in the eyes of a man who very much resembles Siegfried—of “& Roy” fame, but Roy’s not here, just Siegfried, his identity confirmed by his spangled blazer, flowing locks, and luxurious, believe-it’s-me gaze. “I am Siegfried,” his eyes say. “You’re welcome.”

As Siegfried wafts past, I swallow the last of my narcotic prawn, my ultimate Vegas experience unlocked.

San Francisco Almost Certainly Won’t Be Selling Cannabis on Jan. 1

SAN FRANCISCO—If you booked a New Year’s trip to San Francisco—the birthplace of medical cannabis in America and the first city in the country to experiment with the concept of retail sales—in order to celebrate the dawn of the recreational marijuana era in California, it’s time to update your itinerary.

“It’s embarrassing that we probably won’t be ready on Jan. 1.”

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors failed to come to terms on regulations for the nascent industry at a meeting Tuesday. Amid criticism and controversy—and bowing at least in part to pressure from vocal neighborhood activists opposed to retail sales—the lawmakers elected to delay further discussion of cannabis rules for two weeks, until Nov. 28.

The move means San Francisco will almost certainly be sitting on the runway Jan. 1, when California’s first state-licensed cannabis stores open for business.

“It’s embarrassing that we probably won’t be ready on Jan. 1,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) told Leafly.

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After a solid majority of California voters legalized adult-use cannabis last November, the onus has shifted to California cities and counties to pass rules for how and where retail marijuana stores and other cannabis businesses would be allowed to operate. Many of the state’s thousand-plus existing medical marijuana dispensaries are eligible for state permits to sell either medical or recreational marijuana under new regulations—but only if they also receive local approval.

The earliest the city could see a licensed store open for business is Jan. 5.

San Francisco lawmakers were scheduled to decide on a pair of proposals Tuesday, including one with zoning controls so strict it would have made it next to impossible for any new cannabis retail outlets to open in the densely populated city.

Barring extreme parliamentarian gymnastics, the very earliest the city could see a licensed store open for business is Jan. 5. Likelier than that, some observers say, is lawmakers passing the buck to voters, who could be asked to approve commercial cannabis rules at the ballot in June’s primary election.

“We’ve already had three … hearings, and we haven’t been able to move anything forward for these past two weeks,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, sponsor of a proposal that would have allowed San Francisco’s roughly three-dozen existing medical dispensaries to start selling cannabis to all adults 21 and over on Jan. 1 under provisional permits.

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Concerns over racial and socioeconomic equity scotched that proposal—a competing proposal was just as unpalatable to Sheehy and other supporters of the marijuana industry. That plan included stricter-than-ever land-use restrictions, including prohibitions on placing retail marijuana outlets near day-care centers and as a complicated web of neighborhood carve-outs, local caps on dispensaries, and other various other restrictions.

“We’re still stuck on land use—and we didn’t even talk about it” on Tuesday, an incredulous Sheehy told Leafly News on Tuesday evening. “We have not been able to move anything forward for two weeks, and with Thanksgiving coming, I don’t see how we’re going to move anything forward in the interim.”

“We have the exact situation we were trying to avoid: a fire drill.”

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)

Another possibility: Either the cannabis industry or marijuana-hating agitators collect signatures and put competing referendums before voters next June.

At a press conference prior to the Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors vote, Wiener, the state senator and a former San Francisco lawmaker, threatened a ballot initiative if the restrictive proposal passed the board.

Before Wiener decamped to the state Legislature, he put in place a system to ready San Francisco for legalization, creating a task force responsible for recommending rules to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors on how to regulate recreational sales. The task force presented its findings in January.

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“And as far as I can tell, a good eight or nine months went by and nothing happened,” Wiener told Leafly News. “Now we have the exact situation we were trying to avoid: a fire drill.”

It’s a surprising and demoralizing setback for the legal cannabis industry in San Francisco, where 74% of voters supported Prop. 64, last year’s legalization ballot measure. Medical marijuana has been openly sold and dispensed in San Francisco since the early 1990s, years before California first-in-the-nation statewide medical-marijuana initiative passed in 1996.

The city isn’t alone in its slow, reluctant approach to legalization. As of Tuesday, none of California’s major cities have put regulations in place for the first day of sales, although San Diego may be the closest. In the Bay Area, the only dispensaries that say they are guaranteed to sell to all adults 21 and over, no medical-marijuana recommendation required, are in Berkeley.

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Of the three other states to legalize adult-use last November—Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada—only Nevada, where retail dispensaries opened on the Las Vegas Strip in July, has recorded a sale.

Cannabis industry advocates present at Tuesday’s hearings saw the delay as a blessing. No regulations are better than bad regulations, they said—for now, at least.

“At this point, we just need good policy,” said Stephanie Tucker, a consultant active with the San Francisco Cannabis Retail Alliance, a loose organization of medical-cannabis dispensary permit-holders. “If that means we have to go to the ballot, we go to the ballot. This can’t go forward in its current form.”

“We have to be able to grow as an industry,” she added. “We’re not even five minutes old, and all they’re thinking is restriction, restriction, restriction.”

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Others say the fumble by San Francisco—with its massive 4/20 celebration every year, its cannabis-friendly atmosphere, and a long history of leadership on weed—sets bad precedent in California, where dozens of the state’s 400-plus cities have passed severe restrictions or bans on commercial marijuana activity in advance of the legal market’s launch.

“San Francisco should not be setting a bad example and encouraging more communities to do the same,” Wiener said. “The rest of the state is looking at San Francisco, and if San Francisco is shutting down this industry, why would any other city do differently?”

Canada Wants to Tax Medical Cannabis. Get Ready for a Fight.

The Trudeau government’s proposed cannabis tax plan has angered provincial governments—who don’t believe tax revenue should be split evenly between Ottawa and the provinces—but they’re not the only peeved parties.

Medical cannabis patients and producers feel strongly that Ottawa should not be applying an excise tax on medical cannabis — full stop. They say medical cannabis should be exempt from taxation just as most other prescription medications are.

“This proposal feels totally wrong and unfair to medical cannabis patients.”

Jonathan Zaid, Executive Director of CFAMM

 Jonathan Zaid, executive director of CFAMM

In an interview with Leafly, Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), noted that the majority of Canadians can’t get reimbursed for the cost of medical cannabis because insurance companies don’t cover it as standard practice—and that creates a financial burden.

“Patients are struggling to afford their medicine and this tax would just compound the problem,” he said, adding that many people who rely on medical cannabis are on disability.

“The government’s stated rationale behind this proposal is that they don’t want people feigning illness to acquire cannabis or abusing the system in any way. But that isn’t a legitimate argument for creating an extra burden on the more than 200,000 medical cannabis patients in this country.”

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The head of Toronto-based Apollo Cannabis Clinics, which provide medical cannabis prescriptions for people with chronic pain, depression, PTSD, and other conditions, says the proposed tax could contribute to a growing public health problem—the opioid crisis.

“Many of our patients are using medical cannabis as a tool to ween off opioids, or as an alternative to opioids altogether, which comes with a significant financial burden to the patient, considering most opioids are covered by insurance and medical cannabis is paid for out of pocket,”  said Bryan Hendin, founder and president of Apollo, to Leafly.

“Adding an additional tax for medical patients on top of the sales tax already charged, is not going to help patients switch to medical cannabis for their chronic pain or other conditions. In fact, it might drive patients back to using opioids entirely. With the opioid crisis in Canada, this is a step in the wrong direction.”

Taxing medical cannabis “is not in line with the taxation of medicine in Canada,” says John Fowler, CEO of Supreme Pharmaceuticals.

Many of the country’s licensed producers have also voiced objections to Ottawa’s proposal, which would add an excise tax of  $1 per gram of cannabis or 10 per cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher.

John Fowler, chief executive officer of Ontario-based Supreme Pharmaceuticals, told Leafly that Ottawa’s proposal to add roughly one dollar per gram to sales of cannabis for recreational use is “reasonable,” but believes taxing medical cannabis in the same way “is not in line with the taxation of medicine in Canada and presents a risk that certain patients may not have access to cannabis for financial reasons.”

Colette Rivet , executive director of the Cannabis Canada Association, which represents licensed cannabis producers across the country, believes medical cannabis should be exempt from excise tax and sales tax just as other prescription drugs are. She told Leafly she would like the federal and provincial governments to “ensure medical cannabis is affordable.”

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“We support Ottawa’s efforts to bring forth a reasonable tax structure for the sale of adult-use recreational cannabis,” added Jordan Rodness, marketing manager at Emblem Cannabis, which is also based in Ontario, “but we strongly believe that medical cannabis should be zero-rated. We support groups like CFAMM that are championing this message, and will continue to do so.”

CFAMM has already mobilized in the fight against the proposal. It created an online petition that drew more than 600 signatures in just one day. “The overwhelming response from patients speaks volumes about their concerns over the government proposal,” said Zaid.

His organization is also bringing together several stakeholders—what he describes as a “coalition of voices”—to approach the government. Ottawa is holding consultations on the proposal and has asked interested individuals and organizations to submit written comments by December 7. CFAMM also plans to reach out to individual lawmakers.

Zaid’s conviction is unwavering. “This proposal feels totally wrong and unfair to medical cannabis patients,” he told Leafly. “Canadians have a fundamental right to have access to affordable medicine.”

Wisconsin Governor Candidate Favors Legalizing Cannabis

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic candidate for governor Matt Flynn says if Wisconsin voters want to legalize marijuana, he’s all for it.

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Flynn on Tuesday called for the Republican-controlled Legislature to put a non-binding referendum on the November 2018 ballot asking if there’s support for the legalization and sale of marijuana.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he was open to legalizing medical marijuana, but a Democratic bill to do that has languished.

If it would pass, Flynn says as governor he would push the Legislature to follow through.

There have been small signs of movement in the current Legislature among supporters of legalizing marijuana. A bipartisan bill introduced this year would have loosened penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

And Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he was open to legalizing medical marijuana, but a Democratic bill to do that has languished.

Gov. Scott Walker opposes cannabis legalization.

How to Be High in Las Vegas: Go See a Show

Nov 15-17 brings the annual Marijuana Business Conference to Las Vegas. The huge cannabis industry convention is expected to draw 14,000 guests from all over the world. In advance of MJBizCon—and in celebration of Nevada’s freshly legal recreational cannabis market—Leafly presents a four-part series for cannabis fans ready to make the most of their time in town. 

The Entertainment Capitol of the World Just Got More Entertaining

Las Vegas exists to delight and amaze.

That Las Vegas should now be home to legal recreational cannabis feels cosmically apt.

That this particular destination should now be home to legal recreational cannabis feels cosmically apt. With its density of sensory pleasures—from dazzling theatrics to ostentatious buffets to the great parade of gawkworthy humanity that is the Strip—Vegas seems the perfect playground for the cannabis-enhanced. So I got myself to Vegas, got high on legal cannabis, and ventured out to a handful of Vegas shows, starting with…

She’s giving you everything, every night, people. (Courtesy of Vegas.com)

Staged in the 7,000-seat AXIS auditorium at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Jennifer Lopez’s All I Have is the multimedia superstar’s first Las Vegas residency, and the mere fact of its existence is a testament to the rightness of her superstardom. (Complacent superstars do ad campaigns that require lounging in couture for a weekend. Ambitious superstars do Vegas residencies that require delivering the goods live onstage several times a week for months.)

J-Lo wields her stardom with the joy of a hungry newcomer.

It is my delight to report that J-Lo delivers, wielding her stardom with the joy of a hungry newcomer. Her pleasure in the sheer doing of it is contagious. A high-tech, career-spanning tour of all things J-Lo, All I Have features 23 songs, two languages, a parade of backup dancers in ever-morphing costumes, and multiple blockbuster set changes—at one point a Brooklyn subway car storms the stage, with J-Lo splayed across the bow like a glamorous Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road.

One great advantage that residencies have over tours is technical stability. Free of nightly builds and strikes, residencies can get ambitious with set and tech design in ways too intricate for touring shows. At virtually every moment of All I Have, the show offered something delightful. Perhaps the most dazzling moment came when Lopez passed singing duties to a backup dancer, stripped down to lingerie, and writhed purposefully for several minutes on a chaise lounge. (Do you know why 48-year-old zillionaires writhe semi-naked onstage? BECAUSE THEY WANT TO.)

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Lopez danced (awesomely; remember In Living Color?), sang with help from backing tracks that enabled the awesome dancing, and made all seven thousand of us feel like we were at a relatively intimate club show. My only disappointment was my own issue: During J-Lo’s time onstage, Puerto Rico was suffering through a period of deadly neglect from the U.S. government, and I longed for this daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants to rip the government a new one. But she’s such a pro the most she said about current events was, “We need more love in this world!”

Does All I Have hold any special delights for high people? Not explicitly—but God knows my ability to smile and sway through a couple dozen similar-sounding J-Lo hits was greatly enhanced by cannabis.

James Brown, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves…kind of. (Courtesy of Bally’s)

I cannot tell a lie: I bought tickets to this show because RuPaul told me to. Not directly—it was on his podcast, where he raved about the low-tech, low-glitz, raucously winning pleasures of this decade-spanning soul revue starring “America’s Greatest Soul and Motown Impersonators.”

Solid Gold Soul is a low-tech show loaded with moments that are truly thrilling.

And so I joined the small but enthusiastic crowd in Bally’s Las Vegas’s  Windows Showroom—a low-ceilinged conference room with a stage along one wall and stackable banquet chairs extending out before it. On the stage: a generation-spanning, four-person band, composed of pros who’ve toured the world with music’s biggest names, and here tonight to lend their skills to a parade pf alternately transcendent, delightful, heartwarming, and hilariously ramshackle approximation of ‘60s soul superstars.

On the marquee: James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Sam Cooke, and more. Among the cast: Pete Peterkin, an America’s Got Talent alum with a knack for channeling Ray Charles, and Grady Harrell, an actor who played brother Jackie in the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream and dazzles here as an effortlessly dexterous and appropriately gorgeous Jackie Wilson.

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RuPaul wasn’t lying: By Vegas standards, Solid Gold Soul is a low-tech, almost rough-hewn show. But it’s also got moments that are truly thrilling, where the goofy hindrances bounce off the amazing talent to create the most impressive spectacles.

Is it good for high folks? Ask the 14 minutes I lost to mulling the deeper meaning of being driven to cry real tears by a man performing Four Tops covers in a polyester wig.

Frederic Da Silva: Do not be skeptical of his ear piece. (Courtesy of Bally’s)

In the interest of a well-rounded sample group, I deliberately steered myself toward a show outside my natural circle of interest: Paranormal: The Mind-Reading Magic Show, performed by the family-friendly mentalist Frederic Da Silva, who took the stage of Bally’s Windows Showroom in shimmery black menswear and headset mic to spin the mind-reading magic he’s perfected over the past 25 years.

‘Paranormal’ is a testament to the power of professional showmanship.

For those open to paranormal fascination, Da Silva’s show will be a goose-pimply thrill ride. Da Silva’s not just a mind-reader and card-predictor, he’s also a feeling-transmuter, bringing a pair of audience members onstage to tickle one with a feather and causing the other to feel it.

For non-believer me, Paranormal is a testament to the power of professional showmanship, and watching Da Silva expertly manipulate the attention of the room through rhythmic speech, light mime, careful set-ups (“Here is the young man who was earlier skeptical of my ear piece!”), and a Moby-ish background soundscape was its own thrill.

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I’d also eaten part of a highly dosed cannabis candy bar, purchased off the medical menu at Reef Dispensary, and strong enough to slowly but steadily transform me over the course of the show into a very high human. This resulted in me being ferociously engaged with everything happening onstage, while living in perpetual fear of being tapped for audience participation.

I made it out unscathed, but it seems worth a warning: If you are someone for whom cannabis creates a vortex of insularity, avoid shows where your high ass might get dragged onstage in front of magic-loving families.

Beatles LOVE: one of the greatest experiences a human high can have.(Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil)

Beatles LOVE is the Cirque du Soleil production set to an all-Beatles soundtrack, staged in a custom-built showroom at the Mirage and described as “a rock ‘n’ roll poem brought to life by a cast of world-class aerialists, acrobats and dancers.”

‘LOVE’ is a nonstop pleasure machine, perfectly aligned with the sensory enhancement that comes with cannabis.

It is also one of the greatest experiences a high human can have. From the dazzling physical rigor of the circus artists to the inexhaustible pleasures of the Lennon/McCartney songbook, LOVE is a nonstop pleasure machine, and perfectly aligned with the sensory enhancement that comes with cannabis.

Set in a high-tech wonderland of Beatle-y totems (screaming Beatlemaniacs! Blue Meanies! Colonel Sousaphone!), the plot-free show is basically an excuse to watch amazing circus acts while luxuriating in Beatles melodies.

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Among the visual amazements: trombone stilts, tricycles pedaled by empty boots, a tap-dancing Jimi Hendrix, little kids in white masks and hard plastic Beatles wigs, a full-sized VW bug that breaks into pieces and is spun around on sticks, and two and half minutes of extreme rollerblading set to “Help!”

As for the show’s cannabis-friendliness: During the preshow, a vagabond clown blows smoke from (scentless) incense at audience members, ensuring them, “It’s medication!” GO HIGH OR NOT AT ALL.

5 Tips for High Folks Attending Vegas Shows

1. Aim for “Visual Spectaculars!” From high-tech diva shows to the Blue Man Group to the cornucopia of Cirque du Soleil productions, Vegas is rich in shows featuring world-class professionals working very hard to amaze you, and it is their job to succeed.

2. That said, don’t be afraid to check out a lower-marquee show. Not everyone can swing the cost of Vegas’ big-ticket shows, and there’s plenty of joy to be found in Vegas acts that don’t break the bank. See Solid Gold Soul and Paranormal above, or the many mid-price magic, comedy, and music shows that abound around Vegas.

3. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go. As in quicksand and Congress, nothing travels fast in Vegas, especially humans, who are steered through complicated rotundas, block-spanning skybridges, and seemingly never-ending rush-hour traffic. What’s more, it’s all fascinating to look at, especially if you’re high, so consider showing up early enough to behold the attendant wonders of the show-hosting casinos.

4. Show up on time. The show time on the ticket is the literal start time of the show. Of the four shows I attended, only J-Lo started later than the announced time AND SHE’S J-LO.

5. Prepare to deal with drunks. Las Vegas is a liquor city, with free drinks in casinos, open drinking in the streets, and a fair amount of boozy aggression in the air. While waiting in line for shows, I witnessed three drunken flare-ups, of the “You gonna say sorry for bumping into me???” variety. Prepare your high self by practicing inner tranquility and a few drunk-calming phrases, such as “I’m so sorry! And may I say you look wonderful tonight?”

Next up: Being High in Las Vegas: Fine Dining, All-You-Can-Eat Buffets, and Other Thrill Rides…

Lead Image: Wirepec/iStock