Tag: legalization

Michigan Legalization Measure Poised to Qualify for 2018 Ballot

Little more than a week after Detroit voters chose to loosen the city’s strict limits on medical cannabis dispensaries, advocates in Michigan have announced that an even bigger game-changer is headed for the ballot: statewide adult-use legalization.

The Committee to Regulate Alcohol like Marijuana this week announced that it has gathered more than 360,000 signatures to qualify an adult-use legalization measure for the 2018 ballot. While the signatures have yet to be validated by the state, the number of signatures gathered is far greater than the 252,523 required by law.

The group still has to pay off $30,000 in signature-gathering expenses before organizers can submit the truckloads of signed petitions to the Secretary of State, the Detroit Free Press reports. The campaign said Thursday that it is preparing to announce the signature turn-in on Monday, Nov. 20.

The initiative, as currently available on the group’s website, would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over and set up a system to regulate and tax cannabis businesses. Consumption would be allowed only in private homes.

The measure would also legalize industrial hemp under state law.

Tax dollars would go to public schools, road projects, and local governments that “opt in” by allowing cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdictions.

Cannabis has been getting a lot of political play this month, the Free Press reports, including from five candidates running for governor. On Tuesday night, at a bipartisan debate in Ypsilanti, four Democrats and one Republican said they supported legalization. The candidates were Republican Evan Space and Democrats Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Bill Cobbs.

“When five main candidates are talking about supporting the (legalization) proposal, we’ve gone mainstream,” Lansing-based attorney Jeff Hank said after the event, according to the Free Press.

Earlier this week, the National Cannabis Industry Association, a legal-cannabis trade group, threw its weight behind the Michigan campaign.

“As the country’s second largest medical marijuana market, Michigan has the opportunity for serious job and economic growth in the adult-use cannabis industry,” Executive Director Aaron Smith said in a statement. “The 2018 ballot initiative put forth by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol combines some of the best practices and regulations from around the country and we are excited to take part in supporting this effort.”

The state’s medical cannabis industry is currently the second-fastest growing business sector, according to law firm Vicente Sederberg. That industry, made legal under a 2008 voter-approved law, is currently in the process of transitioning to a statewide licensing model, with state regulators set to begin accepting license applications on Dec. 15.

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.


Leafly List: The Top Cannabis Dispensaries in British Columbia, Fall 2017

“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.


The Best Cannabis Strains and Products for Every Situation

• 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.

Quebec’s Cannabis Regulations: 8 Takeaways

On Thursday, Quebec’s Liberal government tabled Bill 157, the legislation outlining the system of sale and distribution for legal cannabis in the province. Though Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois describes it as “an evolving plan” which is “not the end,” since “it is certain we will have to adapt,” some facts about it are now fixed.

A crown corporation will be created to sell cannabis products on behalf of the Government of Quebec.

The purpose of the legislation, reads the text of Bill 157, is “to prevent and reduce cannabis harm in order to protect the health and security of the public and of young persons in particular. The Act also aims to ensure the preservation of the cannabis market’s integrity.” Certainly the law’s ability to do that will be up for debate, as critics are already attacking what they see as the legislation’s faults.

Here are eight of the most important factors introduced by Bill 157.

1. The legal age for consumption of cannabis in Quebec will be 18, which was previously semi-confirmed by Liberal government sources in late September. This is in line with the recommendation of the Canadian Pediatric Society, which acknowledges that THC can be harmful to a child’s brain development, but underlines that the brain develops much less between the ages of 18 and 21.


Leafly List: The Top Cannabis Dispensaries in British Columbia, Fall 2017

2. A crown corporation, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC), will be created to sell cannabis products on behalf of the Government of Quebec. The SQS will be administered as a subsidiary of the Société des Alcohols du Québec (SAQ), which distributes alcohol in the province. However, SAQ storefront outlets primarily sell wine and spirits, since lower-alcohol content beverages (beer, wine, and malt liquor products) are legal for sale in grocery stores and dépanneurs. The SQS will be the sole body permitted to sell cannabis products under law. It will also be the only organization allowed to buy, transport, and store cannabis from licensed commercial producers. No forms of cannabis will be approved for sale privately.

Quebec will begin by opening only 20 cannabis storefronts across the province.

3. Though Quebec has a population of 8.3-million, the SQC will begin by opening only 20 storefront locations across the province for the sale of cannabis. However, cannabis will also be available for sale online, provided that it is delivered by Canada Post and signed for by someone of legal age. By contrast, alcohol is available in 406 SAQ outlet locations across Quebec. Unlike SAQ outlets, the 20 SQC storefront locations will not allow minors to enter. No cannabis products in SQC will be accessible to customers without employees handing them over, and no cannabis products are to be made visible from outside the outlets. Each SQC outlet must install a sign on or close to its door including a warning from the Minister of Health “concerning the harmful effects of cannabis on health.”


The Best Dab Rig for You

4. While the law does not explicitly outlaw edible cannabis products (in fact acknowledging the possibility of “edible and non-edible” products being subject to government regulation), it does criminalize any attempt to modify the flavour, aroma, or colour of cannabis products. (Au revoir, flavored vape pens.)

5. Despite federal law allowing home-growing of up to four plants of no more than one metre in height, home-growing of cannabis for personal use will remain outlawed in Quebec, and all commercial growing of cannabis will remain illegal except in companies licensed by the government.

Smoking cannabis will be legal in palliative care hospices with designated smoking areas.

6. Smoking or vaping cannabis will be illegal wherever smoking tobacco is illegal under Quebec law, limiting cannabis consumption  more or less to private homes, as well as unenclosed public parks. Also off-limits are obvious locations such as schools and child-care facilities, as well as pubs, taverns, bars, bingo halls, and “enclosed spaces where sports, cultural or artistic activities, or similar activities are held.” However, smoking or vaping cannabis will be legal in palliative care hospices with designated smoking areas. Fines for smoking or vaping cannabis in “an enclosed space” other than a private residence will range from $500 to $1,500, while fines for those who do so in an enclosed space that is also an educational institution or child-care facility will range from $750 to $2,250.


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

7. There will be “zero tolerance” for driving under the influence of cannabis. Police will be able to take saliva samples from drivers and potentially impound vehicles for up to 90 days if any presence of cannabis or other drugs is detected in drivers’ saliva. However, there is no ready means available to measure blood-cannabis levels, and recent studies suggest no reliable means exist for exact measures of cannabis intoxication such as are available for alcohol.

Quebec repeated its demand to the federal government to delay the deadline for cannabis legislation at least one more year.

8. On Wednesday, in the leadup to tabling Quebec’s cannabis legislation, the Liberal government of Premier Philippe Couillard repeated its demand to the federal government to delay the deadline for cannabis legislation at least one more year. Health Minister Lucie Charlebois and Finance Minister Carlos Leitao declared that the provincial government would not accept a 50/50 split of cannabis tax revenues with the federal government, and Charlebois argued the two governments needed more time to figure out how to divide cannabis tax revenues. Ottawa previously ignored a similar request by the Quebec government in June.

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


“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.


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Nevada, Summer 2017

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.”


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

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.


Confusion Coming With California’s Legal Cannabis

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.


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

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: 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.


Recreational Marijuana Rules Rile Cannabis-Friendly San Francisco

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.


California Unveils Temporary Licenses to Allow Early 2018 Retail Sales

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.


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

“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.


Confusion Coming With California’s Legal Cannabis

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.”


Leslie Bocskor: Nevada ‘Best Regulatory Framework in the World’

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.”


A Guide to Canada’s Medical Marijuana Program

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.”


Leafly List: The Top Cannabis Dispensaries in British Columbia, Fall 2017

“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.


Liberty, Jobs, & Freedom: How Cannabis Became a Conservative Issue

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.

Recreational Marijuana Rules Rile Cannabis-Friendly San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Famously pro-cannabis San Francisco, where the 4/20 marijuana holiday is celebrated with a group smoke-out on Hippie Hill, is having a surprisingly difficult time establishing regulations for the broad legal market coming to California in January.


Confusion Coming With California’s Legal Cannabis

Writing local rules in the cannabis-friendly city has taken a contentious turn as critics, many of them older Chinese immigrants who oppose marijuana use, try to restrict where products can be sold.

“Cannabis is effectively legal now and the sky hasn’t fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false.”

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy

Divided San Francisco supervisors are scheduled to take up the issue at a board meeting Tuesday, where they may vote on a stop-gap measure to allow the sale of recreational cannabis through existing medical marijuana outlets on Jan. 1 as they continue to figure out where to allow new stores.

The possibility of overly strict regulations has businesses fretting over access and some San Franciscans wondering what happened to the counter-culture, anti-Prohibition city they know and love. The smell of cannabis being smoked is not uncommon in certain neighborhoods and parks.

“Let’s be honest: Cannabis is effectively legal now and the sky hasn’t fallen. A lot of the information people have been given is completely false,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who uses medical marijuana to mitigate pain from older HIV medications.


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

He and others are calling for keeping recreational retail stores 600 feet (183 meters) away from schools, comparable to the radius required of stores that sell liquor or tobacco. Medical marijuana dispensaries are required to be at least 1,000 feet (305 meters) away from schools and recreation centers that primarily serve minors.

But some Chinese-American organizations have pushed back, calling for an outright prohibition on retail stores in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They want future retail stores to be at least 1,500 feet (460 meters) away from schools, child-care centers and any other place minors gather. Supervisors are considering a 1,000-foot (305-meter) buffer that cannabis advocates say is too restrictive for a city as compact as San Francisco.

“We’re not just legislators. We are group therapists for 850,000 people.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin

Ellen Lee, family social worker at the nonprofit San Francisco Community Empowerment Center, which has helped lead the protests, said most of the people opposed to recreational cannabis are elderly and speak little to no English. She said children are impressionable and must be protected from a drug that remains illegal under federal law, and she is frustrated by elected officials.

“We have been meeting with them and talking to them,” she said, “but they are not listening.”

Chinese-Americans are an integral part of San Francisco’s history and they carry political clout in a city where one-third of its 850,000 residents are Asian and Chinese-Americans are the largest Asian sub-group. The mayor is Chinese-American, as are other elected officials in the city.


6 Ways to Advocate for a Pro-Cannabis Local Government

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said Monday he has a holdover measure that will allow 46 existing medical marijuana facilities to sell to adults while the board takes more time to hash out zoning regulations. He said that would allow people plenty of places to buy cannabis come Jan. 1.

Peskin, who represents the Chinatown district, said he expects the board will come up with a resolution that satisfies most people in the diverse city.

“We’re not just legislators. We are group therapists for 850,000 people and understanding what their concerns are, whether we agree or disagree, and addressing them respectfully is very important in the legislative process,” he said.