Tag: Canada

Ontario: Want Licensed Cannabis Lounges? Weigh in Now!

The Ontario government last week released a list of proposed modifications to the province’s cannabis regulations, and is now seeking citizen input.

The new proposals could potentially legalize everything from cannabis use in boats and RVs to licensed cannabis consumption lounges.

The key theme among the new proposals: expanding where recreational and medical cannabis can legally be consumed. The existing draft of Ontario’s Cannabis Plan forbids cannabis consumption in all public places—essentially restricting legal use to private residences—but the new proposals could open things up considerably, potentially legalizing everything from cannabis use in boats and RVs to allowing for licensed cannabis consumption lounges.

“Ontario’s proposed regulations would also relax consumption rules in other areas,” writes Jacquie Miller in the Ottawa Citizen. “Tourists would find it easier to check out Ontario’s legal pot, for instance. People would be allowed to smoke or vape in any hotel room where cigarette smoking is allowed.”


Canadian Edibles Get a Green Light, Licensed Producers Rejoice

Legal cannabis consumption in parked RVs and hotels is nice, but the main point of excitement around Ontario’s proposed modifications is the prospect of licensed cannabis consumption lounges, the importance of which was recently underscored by cannabis activist (and grey-market cannabis lounge proprietor) Abi Roach.

By outlawing lounges, ‘You’re creating an unwelcoming environment for tourists and an uncomfortable home situation for families,’ says Abi Roach.

By outlawing cannabis lounges, Roach told Leafly, “You’re pushing people out into the streets and alleys, and their cars. You’re pushing people into more dangerous situations. You’re creating an unwelcoming environment for tourists and an uncomfortable home situation for families.”

Trina Fraser, an Ottawa lawyer specializing in cannabis law, agrees.

“If you’re not creating venues for people to consume cannabis, you are basically driving it into the very places you don’t want,” Fraser told the Citizen. “If somebody doesn’t want to get evicted from their (no-smoking) apartment, they might smoke in their car, and you don’t want them smoking in their car. But they are going to feel like, ‘I’ve got no choice. I’ve got no other place to go where I can use cannabis.’ That’s an issue.”


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

The Ontario government is seeking citizen input on the proposed modifications through March 5. Read the full text of the proposed modifications and submit comments here.

‘Beyonce Takes THC’: The Week in Cannabis Quotes

Another week, another bunch of people using their mouths—and sometimes their forefingers—to say things about cannabis. From Toronto snow graffiti to politicians’ proclamations, here’s a roundup of the week’s most notable cannabis quotables.

“New Jersey may legalize marijuana. Massachusetts already has. On the other hand, Attorney General Sessions says he’s going to end marijuana in every state. So you have the whole confluence of different information. I think we should fund [the Department of Health] to do a study. Let them work with state police and other agencies to look at the health impact and economic impact.”

– New York Governor Mario Cuomo, addressing the State Legislature and proposing a study to determine the impacts of legalizing cannabis in New York State


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

Late last year, the conservative Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch made a splash by coming out swinging for medical marijuana. This week, he lit up Twitter for removing glasses he’s not wearing.


Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?

Meanwhile in Colorado: What do legal cannabis dispensaries do for home values? The answer may surprise you!

“We went into the project and we weren’t really sure what to expect. We thought maybe there would be a negative impact. I think our takeaway after working on the project was that we don’t see a negative effect—we see results point to a positive effect.”

– James Conklin, University of Georgia real-estate professor and co-author of the study  ‘Contact High: The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices,’ which found that after Denver legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, single-family homes within 0.1 miles of a dispensary saw gains of 8.4 percent relative to houses located between 0.1 and 0.25 miles away. (Quote from The Cannifornian.)


The 9 Most Overhyped Cannabis Strains

And in Washington DC:

“This legislation will end this destructive war on drugs. Here on the first day, we have 12 co-signers, which is really remarkable.”

– US Rep. Barbara Lee, introducing the House version of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would end federal cannabis prohibition and help correct decades of injustice surrounding the discriminatory enforcement of marijuana criminalization laws in the United States


Is Cannabis Addictive?

To bring things full circle,  let’s close with another noteworthy snapshot from the streets of Canada:

Can Landlords Ban Legal Cannabis? Here’s What the Law Says

Adult-use recreational cannabis is scheduled to be made legal across Canada this summer. But not everyone’s celebrating. As legalization looms nearer, some apartment-dwellers are prepping for legal battles over tenant rights to follow. Not all tenants are looking forward to legalization and are not welcoming to the idea of legalized cannabis being smoked indoors.

With the Cannabis Act, the right to smoke cannabis, will be protected in a tenant’s right to reasonable enjoyment. But that doesn’t mean that landlords can’t impose restrictions.

Steven Lebow is one such tenant. A renter in Toronto, he’s tangled with cannabis-smoking neighbours in his building, who used heavily enough for Lebow to be able to smell the smoke from inside his apartment. (He even complained about getting a secondhand high.)

“It got to point that the cleaning help refused to clean the hallway as the smell was so strong,” Lebow told Leafly, noting that his complaints didn’t bring the results he hoped for.

“I tried with six different property managers over the course of several years,” he said. “Finally a strangely worded notice went out saying that there have been complaints about the odor of marijuana permeating the halls and units and asking if anyone has a medical reason for using it.”


This Canadian Staffing Agency Will Help You Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry

He never got an answer, and it wasn’t until his neighbours moved that the problem was resolved.

If Lebow’s neighbour’s were using cannabis medicinally, that would trump his right to take action. In a situation like Lebow’s, if smoke from an adjacent apartment caused damage or health concerns, he could argue about the reasonable enjoyment of his apartment.

So long as the method of consumption doesn’t present a risk to other tenants or to the building, the landlord’s right to restrict tenant behaviours is limited.

“Your right to do something in your unit even if it’s otherwise lawful extends only as far as it doesn’t have a substantial impact, or to use the legal term, doesn’t substantially interfere with the rights, privileges of the other tenants,” said Tom Halinski, a partner of the Municipal and Land Use Planning Group at Aird Berlis.By “substantial interference,” Halinski means any harm to other tenants or damage to the unit itself.

However, things get trickier when health is involved.

“You could theoretically have the cannabis user who is doing it for medical reasons and a person next door who perhaps has a medical condition that’s being made worse by the [smoke] and that’s tough,” Halinski said. “It would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis.”


Indigenous Cannabis: Revitalizing First-Nation Economies Through Legalization

Such clashes of rights seem to be a growing concern, as studies have shown that cannabis allergies not only exist but are on the rise. Beyond these are breathing concerns from smoke inhalation, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

When the Cannabis Act passes, the right to smoke cannabis, whether recreationally or medicinally, will be protected in a tenant’s right to reasonable enjoyment. But that doesn’t mean that landlords can’t impose restrictions or recommend ways to adapt the apartment.

If there’s concern about smoke damage or harm to other tenants, landlords could suggest tenants use concentrates or other smokeless methods.

“We might suggest, and have suggested, that weather stripping be installed under the door and, if need be, around the door of the complainant so that nothing’s coming in,” said Lesley Larion, a superintendent for a Toronto apartment building. “We accommodate the same requests for people who are offended by cigarette smoke, so I know what way it’s treated.”

Landlords could also restrict the ways in which cannabis can be consumed inside the apartment. If there’s concern about smoke damage or harm to other tenants, landlords could suggest tenants use concentrates or other smokeless methods.


Ex-Cops Are Cashing in on Cannabis. Is That Okay?

“In principle, that’s not really that different from saying, ‘Yes you can have a dog in your unit, but it has to be walked on a leash,” said Halinski.

But so long as the method of consumption doesn’t present a risk to other tenants or to the building, the landlord’s right to restrict tenant behaviours is limited.

The federal government will be leaving legislation for cannabis and housing to provincial governments to regulate through their own landlord and tenant boards.

Currently the Residential Tenancies Act does not contain specific legislation regarding cannabis or cannabis smoking. However, once the Cannabis Act passes, that could mean that the Landlord Tenant Board could develop new and different rules.

The federal government has not indicated they will be developing any legislation for cannabis and housing, and will be leaving it up to provincial and territorial governments to regulate through their own landlord and tenant boards.

Hamilton is already preparing for these concerns, promising to look at options such as an all-encompassing smoking ban for social housing through CityHousing Hamilton (CHH) by this spring. However, director of operations Ivan Murgic told the CBC that their solution could be as simple as asking any offending tenants to moderate their usage or to avoid smoking on balconies near neighboring windows.

5 Mandatory Montreal Experiences for High Folks

For at least two decades, cannabis-scented air has been a common part of Montreal’s olfactory character. At any time of day or night, you can walk down “The Main” (Saint-Laurent Boulevard) or Sainte-Catherine Street and smell someone enjoying a pinner on break from work, or out walking their dog, or concluding a business meeting. Yes, cannabis is still illegal here—at least until this summer’s deadline for national legalization—but the overall culture of our city is enormously cannabis-positive. If you’re coming to Montreal, here are five fantastic places to visit while high.

1. The Tam-Tams


Every Sunday during the summer, hundreds of people gather around the statue of George-Étienne Cartier in Jeanne-Mance Park to join in a massive drum-circle and attempt to hotbox the great outdoors. This has been going on at least since the early 1990s. Police are present but don’t bat an eye at people sparking a joint (they’d have to arrest all 400 people), so a massive cloud of skunk smoke hovers over the crowd from lunchtime till dusk. This makes it easy to find: If you’re in Montreal’s Plateau area, just follow the sound of the drums until you smell weed, and let your nose guide you home.

The Tam-Tams appeal to a particular type of cannabis consumers, those who identify with “cannabis culture.” This can be a turnoff—not everybody loves Bob Marley, hacky sacks, and white college students wearing Baja Hoodies in Jamaican colours. But if you like to get high with a crowd of other cannabis enthusiasts and explore the rhythmic textures of a hundred drums, you couldn’t ask for a better place to spend a Sunday.


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

2. Kondiaronk Belvedere, Mount-Royal

(undefined undefined/iStock)

Montreal is named for the large hump in its centre, Mount-Royal. This isn’t a mountain, exactly, but it’s enough. If the Tam-Tams scene is too busy for you, follow the Chemin Olmstead trail through the Frederick Olmstead–designed Mount Royal Park until you get to the gigantic staircase. This will require you to climb a couple of hundred stairs more or less straight up, but the reward for your effort is a fantastic view. The biggest and most famous lookout at the top of the mountain is the huge and stately marble Kondiaronk Belvedere, which is lighted at night. The view of the city from here is breathtaking, and if you want to play some music, hoof a hacky-sack around, or throw a frisbee, this is the ideal place to do it. It can be crowded in daytime, but thins out after dark.

Also: At the top of the stairs, there is a smaller path that veers off to the right—this leads around the crest of the hill to a series of tiny, secluded lookouts in the woods that offer even more stunning views. Don’t like crowds? Prefer the feeling of getting high in deep nature while looking out over a teeming city? This is your spot.


‘I Just Love Getting People High’: In the Kitchen With a Black-Market Edibles Maker

3. Poutine Heaven


If you’re not from Montreal, you probably haven’t had poutine. Sure, maybe you’ve had something called poutine, and that’s great. But the precise combination of fries, local cheese curds, and sauce brune is something that other cities never quite get right. Once the munchies set in and your tastebuds are dialed to delicious, Montreal offers you an imposing selection of poutine-speciality restaurants. I will offer here only four:

  • La Banquise: This legendary all-night poutinérie is so thick with grease that its floors are literally slippery. With a selection of 27 poutines, it frequently gets listed as the best poutine spot in Montreal by locals and visitors
  • Chez Claudette: A perennial also-ran, this casse-croute (snack bar) with more than 35 poutines was selected by the New Yorker’s Calvin Trillin as his favourite poutine in Montreal. Its fries are a little crispier than La Banquise’s.
  • Lafleur: This local chain of fast-food joints has McDonald’s-style benches and fluorescent lighting, making it a shade less welcoming than either of the above. However, they balance that out by cutting fresh fries around the clock from a bucket of potatoes and don’t change their oil very often. The fries are dense and heavy with a crisp outer edge. Importantly, Lafleur’s poutine only comes in one flavour: poutine.
  • Poutineville: Standard bearer of “the New Wave of Poutine,” this relative upstart offers a pub-like ambiance and build-your-own poutine menu, which is especially useful if your stoned-tooth has a craving for something wild (say, marinated eggplant and filet-mignon with brie and red-wine gravy, over house-special crushed potatoes). If the traditionalist snack-bar/fast-food quality of the classic joints doesn’t excite you, you can get inventive here.


Best Cannabis Strains for Sparking Creativity

4. Saint Joseph’s Oratory

(Olivier Bruchez/Flickr Creative Commons)

When Saint-Joseph’s Oratory was completed in 1967, it was (and remains) Canada’s largest church. In a city where exquisite church architecture adorns nearly every corner, the Oratory stands out as a singularly magnificent building, visible from much of the city. It’s stunning enough you don’t even need to go inside (and if you’re reeking of skunk, you may not want to). At all hours of night and day, you can walk around the grounds and gardens and the Stations of the Cross soaking in the immensity of Brother André’s faith. But venture inside is worth it: the gigantic building’s mid-century vintage means it’s designed like a Sistine Chapel imagined by Gene Roddenberry. Whether or not you’re religious, a visit to the Oratory is a far-out experience.


High Style: Inside Stylist Cary Tauben’s Creative Wonderland

5. Dollar Cinéma

[embedded content]

Are you the type of person who likes to get high and experience something bewildering? Take the metro out to the inner edge of suburbia, where you’ll find the post-apocalyptic Décarie Square Mall, legendary even in the 1980s for its high vacancy rate. Wander its surreal halls, past the Dollarama and the empty stores, and enter one man’s cinematic vision: Dollar Cinéma. Legendarily odd hair-loss miracle-cure promoter/cinema owner Bernie Gurberg took over Décarie Square’s two-screen movie house (abandoned in 1997) in 2004, and by most accounts he is the only person who works there. Dollar Cinéma’s lobby feels like his garage, kind of dingy and filled with thrift-store furniture but decorated with genuine enthusiasm. Admission at the Dollar Cinéma is now $2.50, but snacks remain a very enticing $1 each. Bernie takes the tickets, sells the candy, and apparently starts the projectors on the second-run movies he programs. In 2009, the Dollar Cinéma debuted the spectacularly strange VIP Room, a large storage closet filled with patio furniture and a large-screen TV on which Bernie plays DVDs of movies. There is no better theatre in the world in which to see The Room. This is disorienting enough sober, so be prepared.

The Canadian Government’s Curious Cannabis Slang

Wax, errl, purp, keef, rosin, boom, doobie, and budder. These are the words identified as “cannabis slang” in a recent social-media campaign by Health Canada. In the campaign, the government tweeted an image of a chalkboard covered with the terms, adding that “some words may not mean what you think.” The explicit moral: “Learn the slang terms for cannabis.”

If the campaign means to help parents decipher their kids’ lingo, it may not work if the terms aren’t widely used in the first place.

Ostensibly part of the government’s $10 million multimedia educational push before adult-use recreational cannabis becomes legal in 2018, the post faced scrutiny on  Canadian Twitter, with many commenters characterizing the featured words as uncommon, or at least not be as widely used as Health Canada suggests. If the campaign means to help parents decipher their kids’ lingo, it may not work if the terms aren’t widely used by Canadians in the first place.

First, “doobie.” This is indeed slang for cannabis, so the government got it right. However, whether it’s actually widely used by Canadians is up for debate, as is its status as a word that “may not mean what you think.” Almost everyone already knows that a doobie refers to cannabis. But maybe that’s just in my universe.


Less Moral Outrage, More Harm Reduction: Revamping Cannabis Education for the Age of Legalization

“Purp” ostensibly refers to the “purple strains of cannabis”: purple kush, purple haze, purple dragon, etc. But outside of referring to these particular strains, one would be hard-pressed to hear the term among Canadian tokers.

Keef is actually spelled “keif,” and denotes the resin-packed trichomes that collect within cannabis grinders. So this time the government got the word right but the spelling wrong.

‘I’ve never heard of any of these terms before,’ said one Twitter user.

As for some of the other terms, many commentators on Twitter were stumped.

“I’ve never heard of any of these terms before,” said one Twitter user.

Personally, I’ve never heard the alleged cannabis euphemisms “errl” and “boom”—and I’m not the only one. “Errl, boom… new to me,” wrote one Twitter user. And so I sought to find the basis of the Canadian government’s insistence that errl and boom are totally widely-used slang for cannabis in the Great White North.

It appears that “boom” comes from a 2003 United States Office of Drug Policy list of drug slang terms, which is no longer posted on the official government website but remains archived by a third-party site. Otherwise, there’s not much mention of this term online.


Love the Drug, Hate the Driver: Canada’s Pro-Cannabis/Anti-DUI Ad Campaign 

I was, however, able to find the mention of errl in a few different places, including Urban Dictionary and the Cannabist, which classify the word as slang for “hash oil.” Maybe it’s just not used in my neck of the woods.

By reaching for uncommon if not outrageous synonyms for cannabis, and putting them in the forefront of its public education campaign, Health Canada risks making itself a laughingstock within the established cannabis community. But if their goal was to get people talking, mission accomplished.

And it looks like the government may be listening. A new Twitter post from Health Canada on January 3 refers to blunts, pipes, and spliffs, terms that are much more familiar to the lexicon of cannabis consumers.

Saskatchewan to Sell Cannabis Through Private Retailers With ‘Good Character’

Breaking with precedents set by Ontario and Quebec, the Saskatchewan government will not have a monopoly on legalized cannabis, choosing instead to sell the drug through the private sector. The prairie province is the latest region to announce its approach to cannabis distribution, as Canada’s vague summer deadline for legalizations approaches. Here’s what we know about how things will be done in Saskatchewan when it comes to legally selling cannabis.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority will issue up to 60 cannabis retail permits to private retail outlets in as many as 40 municipalities and First Nation communities.

* The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) will issue up to 60 cannabis retail permits to private retail outlets in as many as 40 municipalities and First Nation communities across the province. The permits will be given to communities of at least 2,500 people, with larger districts given additional permits. CBC reports that the province’s largest city, Saskatoon, will be given the option of having seven licences, while Regina will receive six and cities with smaller populations—such as Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Lloydminster—will receive two. Eligible First Nations communities and municipalities will be given the chance to opt out from having a cannabis retailer in their community. The number of retail permits will depend on how many community leaders choose to opt out.


Random Testing, Million-Dollar Fines: Canada’s Cannabis Pesticide Crackdown

* Retail cannabis stores in the province will follow a similar model as private liquor stores. The private sector will be responsible for wholesaling and retailing cannabis, which will be regulated by the SLGA. Stores selling cannabis must do so from a standalone storefront, with the option of also having an online store. Stores are limited to only selling cannabis and related accessories. They also must be able to track and report cannabis inventory to help assure that customers have access to safe, legal product from regulated wholesalers.

Liscencees will be expected to meet ‘good character’ criteria as part of the permitting process.

* The SLGA will work with an independent third party to choose retail operators through a two-phase process. The first phase will screen candidates for financial capacity and the ability to track and report inventory. Phase two will see qualified applicants selected at random through a lottery. Those chosen will be expected to meet ‘good character’ criteria as part of the permitting process. Makowsky told the CBC that stores already selling cannabis might lose their means to the market under a lottery system. The province has not stated whether retailers will be able to buy supply from wholesalers outside Saskatchewan.


Ex-Cops Are Cashing in on Cannabis. Is That Okay?

* The CBC reports that an online survey set up by the province showed 45% of respondents wanted to see the stores run by SLGA. However, Gene Makowsky, the minister responsible for the SLGA, said the government didn’t want to spend millions of dollars establishing the infrastructure needed to sell cannabis. “It de-risks the taxpayer, certainly,” he said. “It’s an ill-defined market right now. We’re not sure what the future of that is going to be.” He added that the province would gain revenue from taxation and licensing fees, although those details have not been finalized.

* Details about application criteria and timelines, along with permit licensing fees and other related matters, will be finalized in the coming weeks. The province, which has a legal drinking age of 18, is expected to announce its minimum age for cannabis consumption by spring.

Random Testing, Million-Dollar Fines: Canada’s Cannabis Pesticide Crackdown

In the last days of 2017, most of the national news coverage was devoted to the bone-chilling cold that was sending even the hardiest souls in the Great White North running for cover indoors. But news of a different sort garnered some attention, too.

Prior to 2017, Health Canada wasn’t testing cannabis produced by LPs—the companies were trusted to monitor themselves.

The federal government announced it would fine licensed cannabis producers as much as $1 million per violation for using banned pesticides. It is among several penalties to be enshrined in the Cannabis Act, which is set to legalize recreational cannabis in July.

Health Canada’s response to banned pesticides will be “proportionate to the level of risk posed to the health and safety of Canadians, the degree of cooperation offered, the compliance history, the likelihood of the reoccurrence of the activity, and whether any other non-compliant activities are also observed,” Andre Gagnon, the agency’s media relations officer, told Leafly.

“I think it’s a positive step forward,” a consumer who had suffered health problems after smoking licensed cannabis told The Globe and Mail. “You would think the companies are all going to think twice before they use anything they’re not supposed to.”


Pesticides 101: Questions and Answers for Cannabis Patients and Consumers

The Health Canada announcement capped a 13-month period in which a handful of the licensed companies produced cannabis that was found to be tainted with banned pesticides — a development that forced regulators and producers alike to evaluate and change the way they did business.

In May, Health Canada announced that LPs’ cannabis would be screened for banned pesticides by an independent laboratory before being put on the market.

Ontario-based producer Mettrum announced recalls in November 2016, later confirming suspicion the product had been tainted by myclobutanil—a fungicide that, when burned, produces hydrogen cyanide, which interferes with the way oxygen is used in the body and can cause problems ranging from headaches and nausea to seizures, fainting and even death depending on the amount inhaled. That discovery was made during a second round of testing. Evidence of another banned chemical, pyrethrin, had been discovered in the first round of testing.

New Brunswick-based Organigram and BC-based Aurora announced recalls a few weeks later, when myclobutanil and bifenazate, another banned pesticide, showed up in shipments consumers had received from those producers. Aurora had purchased its tainted product from Organigram and discovered the pesticides through testing.


Leafly’s State-by-State Guide to Cannabis Testing Regulations

At the time, Health Canada wasn’t testing the cannabis produced by licensed companies—the companies were trusted to monitor themselves on that front — but the recalls spurred the government agency to action.

In February 2017, it announced it would start conducting random testing for the use of banned pesticides to ensure Canadians were receiving “safe, quality-controlled product.”

Health Canada ordered Mettrum and Organigram to submit their products to regular testing for banned pesticides and suspended, at least temporarily, the latter company’s organic certification.

Organigram and other LPs have launched investigations into how their product got contaminated and they’ve improved their testing measures.

Two months later, Health Canada conducted random spot tests of cannabis belonging to seven producers, taking leaf samples from plants in various stages of growth. Samples from two producers, Quebec’s Hydropothecary Corp and Ontario’s Peace Naturals, in Ontario, revealed the presence of myclobutanil or a known ingredient in pesticides (piperonyl butoxide).

In response, Health Canada revised its monitoring policy yet again. In May, it announced that licensed producers’ cannabis would have to be screened for banned pesticides by an independent laboratory before being put on the market.

Reaction to the pesticide revelations have ranged from heightened skepticism about the nascent cannabis industry to legal action.

A few months after Mettrum’s recall a Toronto law firm launched a class-action lawsuit against the producer’s parent company, Canopy Growth, alleging breach of its contract and negligence.


Indigenous Cannabis: Revitalizing First-Nation Economies Through Legalization

Shortly after the recall of tainted Organigram product, a law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia announced its intention to launch a class-action lawsuit against the producer, claiming it had breached its contract with customers by using unauthorized pesticides in product purported to be organic.

The claim was amended last month to include allegations that Organigram products made users sick before it was recalled. The law firm said it had been contacted by more than a hundred people saying the tainted cannabis had made them sick. The lawsuit will proceed to trial if it is certified in a motion next June.

To restore consumer confidence, Organigram and other producers have launched investigations to determine how their product got contaminated and they have improved their testing measures.

“Organigram has identified seven key initiatives to help ensure the quality and safety of its product,” Organigram CEO Greg Engel told Leafly. “These initiatives include steps to randomly test input materials received from outside suppliers, a comprehensive screening process for existing and new suppliers, pesticide testing of every lot of final product prior to packaging, installation of cameras within mixing areas and a full training program for all employees,” he said, adding that the company has also implemented a comprehensive quality management system.


Hostile Takeovers and Poison Pills: Canadian Cannabis Gets Combative

Engel also told Leafly that the company’s product has undergone independent third-party testing, as per its agreement with Health Canada, and that Organigram has given patients access to test results.

Despite the recent problems with pesticides, he is optimistic about the future for his company and for the country’s cannabis industry, predicting dramatic advancements in mass indoor growing technology and is enthusiastic about the legalization of recreational cannabis.

“The adult recreational marketplace will roll out beginning in July of 2018 and it won’t be perfect,” he says. “But much like our friends in legal US states, we’ll learn, adapt and improve with incredible pace.”

‘Whatever They Throw at Me, I’ll Figure It Out’: Abi Roach, Grey-Market Cannapreneur, Preps for the Legal Future

Abi Roach lives her life on the edge of the law. As the founder of Toronto’s popular cannabis lounge the Hot Box Café (tagline: “Serving potheads since ah…we forgot”), she’s become exceptionally familiar with the grey zones of current marijuana legislation.

“That’s the highlight of my life, to have the freedom to be me and make my customers happy by giving them what I love.”

“I’ve lived my life and operated this business by the white-grey line of the law,” Roach tells Leafly. “Whatever they throw at me, I’ll figure it out. Nothing I’ve ever done has been legal and nothing I’ve ever done has been illegal. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

The cannabis advocate and business owner spends a lot of time talking to local politicians and lobbying for the rights of cannabis users. It’s a role she stepped into out of necessity nearly two decades ago when she opened her first head shop.

Now, Roach runs a mini empire that includes Hot Box, a hydroponic store she co-runs next door, Spliff magazine, and a bud-and-breakfast and tour company in Jamaica. Unsurprisingly, she’s also a member of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association. And as Canada moves towards the legalization of cannabis, Roach suspects her overflowing plate will only get fuller.


Indigenous Cannabis: Revitalizing First-Nation Economies Through Legalization

From Street Fairs to a Kensington Storefront

Roach’s introduction to the world of cannabis started with hemp jewelry. Originally from Israel, Roach moved to Canada with her family as a tween, after her dad was offered a job in computer engineering. While attempting to assimilate to Canadian culture, she changed her name to Abi, which rhymed with her real name, and was partially inspired by the Beatles’ album Abbey Road. (The Roach part, also not her real name, came later.) Though she knew little English upon arriving in her new country, Roach says she picked it up in a matter of months, and now has no trace of an accent.

After regularly getting busted by the cops for illegally hawking her wares, Roach became a roaming kiosk.

As a teenager, she grew bored of her remote neighbourhood, so on weekends she’d head to Queen Street, which was a hub of stylish independent boutiques and popular bistros. There, she met a group of rogue vendors who’d illegally sell their wares on the corner of Queen and Soho. It didn’t take long for Roach to discover her entrepreneurial spirit, setting up a blanket on the street corner and hawking handmade jewelry. She soon learned about hemp, through other vendors who used the material to macramé necklaces and bracelets. Roach quickly cottoned on to the fiber’s other uses, thanks to a vendor named Robin Ellins, who now owns the Friendly Stranger head shop.

“I used to vend beside him and learned from him all about the informational side of cannabis,” she says.


How a Visionary Cannabis Producer Became This Canadian Town’s Biggest Employer

After regularly getting busted by the cops for illegally hawking her wares, Roach became a roaming kiosk. She’d show up at concerts, raves, and events with her jewelry, and often cannabis, to sell or barter. Sometimes, she’d swap her goods for an interesting story.

“It helped me perfect my retailing art over the years,” she says.

After years of unconventional hustle, Roach eventually went to art school, followed by a stint studying audio engineering. As the only women in her class, Roach felt isolated and decided it wasn’t the path she wanted to follow.

Roach now runs a mini empire that includes Hot Box, a hydroponic store she co-runs next door, Spliff magazine, and a bud-and-breakfast and tour company in Jamaica.

When she learned about a subsidized business program through Jewish Vocational Services, she applied and got accepted. Her pitch was for a music promotions company, but Roach mainly wanted to learn how to write a business plan.

After she completed the program, she took out a university fund her parents had set up in Israel and used it, along with her business plan, to apply to a bank for a government co-sign loan to start a business. She decided that business would be a head shop, since there weren’t many in the city at the time. To her surprise, the bank approved her pitch.

“I was totally open about what I was going to do, which was sell bongs and pipes and rolling papers,” she says. “They gave me the loan.”

In 2000, Roach-A-Rama was born. The head shop was located on a sleepy street in Kensington Market. After a discouragingly slow year, Roach was ready to close and find a new path, but a storeowner around the corner on Baldwin Street asked if she would be interested in sharing his space. She decided to give it another shot.


‘I Just Love Getting People High’: In the Kitchen With a Black-Market Edibles Maker

The new location proved to be blessing, with a spike in sales and customers. In the two years she worked out of the Baldwin location, she visited Jamaica and Vancouver, regions that had a more relaxed attitude towards smoking cannabis in public spaces.

“I went to [Vancouver cannabis lounge] Blunt Brothers and I was so impressed you could just show up, bring your weed, and smoke it,” she says.

When her retail-space partners announced they’d be pulling out of the lease with two weeks’ notice, Roach sprung into action. She applied for a food license, renamed her business The Hot Box, and turned the space into a lounge, which would eventually move to its current location on Augusta.

Fighting for Space to Safely Smoke

These days, Roach spends a lot of time meeting with local politicians about how Ontario’s cannabis legislation will affect businesses in the city. As it currently stands, the Ontario government will have a monopoly over cannabis sales, with all privately owned dispensaries and cannabis lounges deemed illegal.

“By eliminating lounges, you’re pushing people into more dangerous situations. You need us to stay open.”

Roach is working hard to get the message out that cities need private spaces for people to smoke their cannabis. She says the government isn’t keeping the streets safer by removing cannabis lounges, since they’re much more than places to hang out and consume weed.

“We also provide education, and by eliminating lounges, you’re losing that aspect of it,” she says. “You’re pushing people out into the streets and alleys, and their cars. You’re pushing people into more dangerous situations. You’re creating an unwelcoming environment for tourists and an uncomfortable home situation for families. You need us to stay open.”

Ontario recently passed its Cannabis Act with no amendments—any dispensaries operating illegally can face fines up to $1 million. As for cannabis lounges, the topic remains in bureaucratic limbo. The province has generally addressed cannabis in Bill 175, all-encompassing legislation that includes a prohibition on smoking in public places. Since lounges fall under that category, smoking cannabis inside one will technically be breaking a by-law.

Roach says the City of Toronto moved a motion that would give the Board of Health time to examine the impact cannabis lounges have on public safety.  Until that happens, nothing will change, and Roach appears unbothered when talking about how these impending changes will affect her business.


This Canadian Staffing Agency Will Help You Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry

“Everything takes time,” she says. “Even for them to come and hand out fines, that will take time. And there are loopholes we can use to get around—but I’m not going to reveal anything like that.”

As for the future, Roach plans to continue fighting for the rights of cannabis users while expanding her brand. Although she describes her business as “one of these stupid companies that never took anyone’s money and has built everything from nothing,” she suspects that will change over time.

“Now we’re on a different level and I’m ready to find the right person who wants to invest in this brand,” she says. “Our next mission is to find that perfect union.”

If she had to do it all over, there’s nothing Roach would do differently. When asked about career highlights, she says everyday is a highlight because she simply loves what she does.

“I can do whatever crazy things I want to do,” she says. “There is no board, or boss to tell me what to do. That’s the highlight of my life, to have the freedom to be me and make my customers happy by giving them what I love.”

Ex-Cops Are Cashing in on Cannabis. Is That Okay?

Naturally, Fantino, the former police chief, falls back on the old “I had to enforce the laws as written” argument to justify all the cannabis arrests and prosecutions he oversaw. But in a markedly confrontational interview with the CBC, he also said “you’re making a huge mistake if you believe that I put everyone in jail that I came across that had marijuana. I gave all kinds of people all kinds of breaks.”

Interesting take—and one that raises a few questions. For starters: On what basis did Fantino decide who deserved a break and who deserved to go to jail? If he gave people “all kinds of breaks” for cannabis as a police chief, why did Fantino go on to campaign for tougher penalties as a Cabinet minister? And how can he justify profiting off cannabis so soon after acting as a national spokesperson against legalization?

Asked all this and more, Fantino offered a refreshingly honest response:

“Now it’s being made a legal item and so therefore there’s no point in me arguing the issue.”

Or, as the Canadian news satire This Hour Has 22 Minutes put it:

Julian Fantino has never wavered from his true belief that Julian Fantino should make money no matter what Julian Fantino needs to say or do to make that money.

To this day, Fantino remains incapable of disavowing his past actions and statements, even though they’re diametrically opposed to the positions he now holds.

“You can frame it anyway you want,” he told the CBC, “but you will never be able to take away my integrity with respect to what I’m doing now and what I’ve done in the past.

You’re right about that Julian—no one can take from you something that never existed.


Changing Perspectives: A Q&A With Vermont’s Cannabis-Friendly Former Lawman

First Step: Apologize

Cannabis activist Jodie Emery—who, along with her husband Marc Emery, just accepted a plea deal for operating two unlicensed dispensaries in Canada—recently took to Twitter to decry “cops and politicians who opposed legalization and ruined lives and are now cashing in on legal weed, with no apology.”

In one epic thread, Emery rattled off (with links) the names of 17 prominent former law enforcers who’ve made that move, including a former head of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police, a slew of former police chiefs, a former federal criminal investigator, and the former head of the RCMP Drug Squad.


California Goes Legal: Updated List of Open Adult-Use Stores

Second Step: Acknowledge Your Privilege

What’s next? Jeff Sessions stepping down as US Attorney to become general counsel for the National Cannabis Industry Association? Don’t hold your breath (especially since science has proven that holding smoke in your lungs doesn’t get you any higher).

A New York state assemblyman gets off with community service and a $75 fine. Others go to prison.

As long as cannabis remains federally illegal in the United States, nobody from that high up in federal law enforcement is likely to get sucked into the Green Rush. There have been a few high-profile defections to Team Cannabis, though. Example A: the sudden and astonishing roadside conversion of New York Assemblyman Steve Katz.

In March 2013, Katz was stopped for speeding on his way to work. When the state trooper who pulled him over detected the scent of cannabis in his car, a search ensued, followed by a ticket for possession of “a small bag of marijuana”—a charge that was later dismissed after Katz completed 20 hours of court-appointed community service and paid a $75 fine.

A Republican and, at the time, a member of the State Assembly’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, Katz had been a staunch public cannabis opponent up to the moment of his bust. He’d voted against a statewide medical marijuana bill just a year prior.


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Southern California, Winter 2017

Timing Is Everything

How did Katz explain his sudden conversion? Well, first of all, he said, that was definitely the last time he was gonna vote to make cancer patients suffer through chemo without smoking a joint. Because before he got popped, Katz had already, allegedly, secretly made up his mind to vote his conscience—starting next time. His wife can totally back him up on that.

“I decided to vote what I believed to be the vote of my constituents,” he told Smell the Truth shortly after getting busted, by way of explaining his earlier no vote on the medical cannabis bill. “The day after that I told my wife, ‘Next year, I’m voting for medical marijuana because that’s what I believe in… I knew how I was going to vote a year before the police incident and I felt great about it.”

To steal a line from Dana Carvey’s Church Lady: Well, isn’t that convenient.

Also convenient for Katz: Unlike many of his constituents, getting busted for cannabis didn’t cost him his job, custody of his children, his student financial aid, much money or a day of his freedom. He didn’t even take a leave of absence from lawmaking or pretend to feel bad about getting popped.

Calling cannabis legalization “a core belief” from the time he was in college—except, you know, that time he voted against it—he described getting ticketed as a personal epiphany.

“You’re turning me into a criminal? You got to be kidding,” Katz reportedly thought when the state trooper discovered his stash. At that point, he recalled, Katz resolved to “not only be a champion for medical marijuana, and for its total legalization, but also to become part of the wave that’s building in the industry itself.”


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Northern California, Winter 2017

A Different Vote

To that end, Katz did indeed support the same medical marijuana bill he’d earlier opposed, the next time it came up for a vote. He also partnered with cannabis industry investment firm The Arcview Group in hopes of raising $10 million in venture capital to pour into the industry.

In 2016, Katz retired from the New York State Assembly and returned to his veterinary practice. He also announced the launch of Therabis, a full line of CBD-infused dog food and treat supplements that “harness the power of hemp to make your best friends feel better.”

Recently, Pet Age asked him about the company and his plans for the future.

“I’m fascinated with the science and medicinal potential for all the compounds found in the cannabis plant and intend to continue clinical research on all of them,” he said. “I hope and expect to see a spectrum of novel, natural medicinals, supplements and foods based on the extracted, fractionated cannabinoids we are currently studying, including CBD. This represents the future of natural veterinary medicine throughout the 21st century.”

How the Globe & Mail’s Fashion Editor Found a Home in the Cannabis Industry

Odessa Paloma Parker is a serious force in Canadian media and fashion. She first made a name for herself as a freelance stylist in Toronto,  working on shows like Entertainment Tonight Canada and co-founding the fashion magazine Plaid, which published from 2010-2012.  In 2014, Paloma Parker was hired as fashion editor for The Globe & Mail.

So it came as a surprise to many when the cannabis brand Tokyo Smoke announced they’d brought in Paloma Parker to head up their content team. It’s a smart business move, forwarding Tokyo Smoke’s mission of moving beyond just cannabis to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand.

“What consistently strikes me as very important is getting people to feel more comfortable talking about cannabis.”

Odessa Paloma Parker

In late 2017, Leafly had the opportunity to see Paloma Parker at Van der Pop’s ‘Women & Weed’ conference in Toronto, where she appeared on the “Weed in Fashion, Beauty & Design” panel to discuss how her prior experiences in fashion intersect with her current role in cannabis. This week, we phoned her to discuss it further.

LEAFLY: How did you come to work with Tokyo Smoke and what was it like to leave your editorial position with The Globe and Mail?

ODESSA PALOMA PARKER: I live around the corner from the Bellwoods Tokyo Smoke shop and went in after a friend’s recommendation. I loved what was going on in the shop. Alan [Gertner] happened to be there when I stopped in, and we got to chatting about the brand. I eventually wrote a story for the Globe about Tokyo Smoke and the changing landscape of the pot industry.

We stayed in touch because I was super-interested in what was happening in the cannabis industry, and when the opportunity to do content for the brand came up, it was really exciting for me. I’m still freelancing for the Globe because I love fashion, but it’s very invigorating to be working in an industry that has so much ahead of it—there’s so much optimism and growth potential.


This Canadian Staffing Agency Will Help You Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry

How do you feel like your experience in fashion might inform your work in the cannabis space?

From the Tokyo Smoke perspective in particular, the ‘innovations in design’ aspect is a definite crossover. I’ve also always taken diversity and inclusion very seriously in my stories, whether written or a fashion shoot, so I’m glad to be working with a team that also shares this vision. I think we are creating a very unique and distinctive voice with that in mind.

“I didn’t have any experience in the cannabis industry. My experience was entirely from a user’s perspective.”

Did you have any prior experience in the cannabis industry?

I didn’t have any experience in the industry. My experience was entirely from a user’s perspective, and as someone extremely curious about the industry’s current and evolving landscape. What consistently strikes me as a very important thing is getting people to feel more comfortable talking about cannabis, and asking questions because they want to know more about it. The questions I often get asked really reveal how much more of an effort needs to be made to educate adults who are interested in using cannabis, or who already do but don’t know the scope of their options.

What are some of the biggest challenges that women in the cannabis industry face?

I’m not sure I see there being any challenge that doesn’t exist in another industry, really. Women consistently have to overly assert themselves to get a seat at the table. What’s at least encouraging is that, in many ways, that table is still just being set.


High Style: Inside Stylist Cary Tauben’s Creative Wonderland

Do you think cannabis is a feminist issue?

I do. There are many ways in which cannabis use can address women’s health issues, from menstruation to menopause, and there needs to be more research and reporting done on it. Making women feel comfortable and at ease about accessing this information is crucial, and it’s what we’re trying to do at Van der Pop, Tokyo Smoke’s sister company.

What changes do you foresee happening when legalization comes into play next year?

For the public? Better access to quality bud and the ability to make choices about their health and well-being. In the industry? More competition, which will hopefully motivate us all to do a better and better job at what we do.

What are some cannabis products that you can’t live without?

I really love my Pax! I’ve recommended them to a few people this season. I also love the iridescent Grinder Card from Tokyo Smoke—it’s very swish in my opinion and makes a great gift. The Eves of Eden crowns are also really great. As for strains, Charlotte’s Web mixed with Afghan Kush is a new favourite combo for me.