Tag: Politics

Watch This: Various US Politicians Admit They’ve Tried Cannabis

The way politicians act, you’d think none of them have ever pulled up to the function with a joint in-pocket and a lighter in-hand. They’re so uptight; so overly serious; so ready to burn the world down all the time, but what about these trees? Are they ready to burn those down? According to this video of politicians admitting to smoking, the answer is yes.

In it you’ll find a plethora of former presidents and other political figures talking about their experiences with cannabis and how once upon a time (or multiple times), they did occasionally indulge in a little sesh. People like the GOAT Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders we already knew about, but it’s also pretty entertaining to see the Bush brothers discuss it and how they apparently can still get grounded by their parents. (Weak asses.)

Peru Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

After intense debate, the Peruvian Congress voted to legalize cannabis for medical use. The bill must be approved by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski before it becomes law.


Peru Could Legalize Medical Marijuana This Year

Legislative Bill 1393, which passed on a 67–5 vote with three members abstaining—was proposed by lawmaker Alberto de Belaunde. The measure would allow the cultivation and storage of medicinal cannabis products with oversight by a regulatory committee made up of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), as well as an appointed panel of cannabis experts.

The bill was introduced over the summer along with two other bills to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. It was pitched as a solution for suffering patients after law enforcement raided a community cannabis cultivation site last February. Ana Alvarez, a cannabis advocate and founder of the association Buscando Esperanza, had been illegally producing cannabis oil to treat her son Anthony, who suffers from severe seizure disorder Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, when the family’s home was raided.


Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Alvarez criticized another bill introduced by the executive branch that would have allowed the importation and sales of medical cannabis products, pointing out that it would be costly and inefficient to import expensive products from abroad, rather than allowing cultivation within Peru’s borders.

“Mothers are happy because it is already a step forward in this long journey. We expect self-cultivation to be allowed,” Alvarez said in support of the bill. “The import offers very high prices that would affect low-income families.”


The Legal International Cannabis Trade Already Exists, and We Mapped It

After being approved by the Health Committee on Oct. 11, Committee President and Congressman Eloy Narváez spoke out in favor of the measure. Defense Commission President Javier Velásquez Quesquén supported the measure in September, indicating that the cultivation and production must first be authorized by the executive branch through such institutions as authorized laboratories and the National Institute of Health.

The law will allow residents with certain qualifying conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and epilepsy, to use cannabis and its derivatives as part of a course of treatment. Belaunde said that regulations for the production of medicinal cannabis oil will be drafted within the next 60 days if approved by President Kuczynsnki.


State of the Leaf: Peruvian President Wants to Legalize MMJ

Kuczynski has been generally supportive of cannabis in the past, saying “Si quieren fumar su troncho no es el fin del mondo,” or “If they want to smoke [in moderate doses], it’s not the end of the world.”

Five Things Canada’s Cannabis Act Will Legalize Besides Possession

By July 2018, adult-use recreational cannabis is scheduled to become legal across Canada—and it’s not just simple possession that’s being legalized. Here are five cannabis-related goods and activities that Trudeau’s  Cannabis Act will make legal for adult Canadians.

1. Bongs, pipes and other accessories will finally be legal

Wait, what? Bongs are illegal in Canada?! Yes, technically, though it’s a law that’s rarely enforced any more. With the Cannabis Act, this law will be amended so that the sale and possession of cannabis accessories will finally become completely legal. (Well, almost completely legal—entities selling cannabis accessories will be subject to rules restricting the promotion and display of such goods, particularly in regard to youth exposure and access.)


7 Mandatory Toronto Food Experiences for High Folks

Under the Cannabis Act, individuals will be able to give—but not sell—up to 30 grams of cannabis to other adults.

2. Growing your own and giving some to an adult friend

Just like they have it in Colorado, Canadians will be able to grow their own cannabis. In the initial version of the bill, Canadians were to be limited to four plants and a 100cm height limitation. In the revised version, the 100cm limit has been removed, though the four-plant limit remains. Under the Cannabis Act, individuals will be able to distribute—but not sell—up to 30 grams of cannabis to other adults. This would allow individuals to grow a little and ‘gift’ some to a friend. Just not for money.


Trudeau Proposes a $1-a-Gram Tax on Canadian Cannabis

3. Wine cellars… but with cannabis

Under Canada’s legalization plan, there is no federal limit on the amount of cannabis one can possess privately in their own residence. What this little loophole may spur is anyone’s guess, but when I first mentioned this part of the proposed law on Twitter, I had more than one person exclaim that this could allow wine cellar-like cannabis collections. It probably wouldn’t look exactly like a wine cellar, but Canadian cannabis connoisseurs will be able to collect all the cannabis they can amass in their private residence—unless the country’s provinces decide to put such limits on it within their borders.

Under Canada’s legalization plan, there is no federal limit on the amount of cannabis one can possess privately in their own residence.

4. Weed weddings

Since states south of the border have legalized, cannabis-loving couples have been adding cannabis elements to their weddings. In Canada, throwing a cannabis wedding—where cannabis-infused products appear alongside alcohol at the bar and guests are given cannabis-flower parting gifts—appears to be something that will be legal. As long as you’re distributing under 30 grams to each guest–and as mentioned above, don’t “sell” it – you would not be violating the proposed federal law.

5. Personal extraction of cannabis using non-organic solvents

In 2015, a year after Colorado legalized adult-use recreational cannabis, the state followed up with a law banning the use of combustible organic solvents in cannabis extraction. In Canada, officials are restricting the use of organic solvents right out of the gate, but is otherwise allowing extraction of cannabis. It looks like the bill implicitly allows the use of non-organic solvents and solvent-free extraction devices, as long as you’re extracting it for your own use. (Look for Canada to see a rise in the sale of rosin presses and bubble bags.)


Ontario Government Aims to Sell Cannabis for $10 a Gram

So there you have it, five things the Cannabis Act will legalize beyond mere possession. A final word of caution: It’s possible that provinces and municipalities may enact their own offences and regulations closer to legalization date, so not everything is set in stone. (For example, there may be registration requirements for personal cultivation or other conditions.) Stay tuned.

Podcast: The Roll-Up #5: Lovely Chats With Border Guards

The Roll-Up features Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader in a Friday morning roundtable about the week’s top cannabis news.

Leafly Podcast

Episode 5: Delightful Chats With Border Guards

This week: The band’s getting back together! After a month of travel (Paris, Toronto, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Phoenix, New Paltz), the Roll-Up crew returns in full force. Dave (Toronto), Ben (Paris) and Bruce (all the rest) consider Melissa Etheridge’s beatific mug shot; Gord Downie’s epic passing; Calaveras County’s cannabis wars; the vindicated Kettle Falls Five; and the proper way for a cannabis expert to cross an international border.

What, are you not familiar with the show? Every Friday, Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader dissect the week’s top stories in cannabis with analysis, arguments, jokes, and obscure cultural references.

The Roll-Up: It’s a news and culture podcast that hits the sweet spot between stoned and scholarly.

Previous Episodes:

Stories Mentioned In Episode 4:


Melissa Etheridge’s Cannabis Mugshot Is Amazing


Thanks for Making Canada a Little More Strong and Free, Gord


California’s Calaveras County On Verge of Banning Cannabis Farms


Canadian Edibles Get a Green Light, Licensed Producers Rejoice


Las Vegas City Council Eyes Paraphernalia Rule Change

About Our Music:

The theme song for The Roll-Up is “Turn Me On,” from the EP of the same name by The Shivas. Check out their music on iTunes. For more about the band, see their home page, theshivas.org.

Ex-Surgeon General, SAMHSA Director Call for Federal Legalization

A newly formed group of physicians that include former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders and former director of the US Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Westley Clark believe “organized medicine” should be open to federally legalizing and regulating cannabis.

Elders and Clark co-authored an editorial published online recently in the American Journal of Public Health on behalf of the new group, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. David Nathan, the group’s board president and a New Jersey-based psychiatrist, also contributed to the editorial.


Federal Gov’t: Teen Cannabis Use Rate Drops to 20-Year Low

The editorial’s publication marks the first time “a major American medical journal has ever run a pro-marijuana opinion by an organization of prominent physicians,” according to a press release issued by the group.

In the piece, Elders, Clark, and Nathan called on professional medical groups—including powerful advocacy associations like the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics—to take  several actions regarding cannabis.

First, support the federal legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults.

“The government should oversee all cannabis production, testing, distribution, and sales,” the authors wrote. “Cannabis products should be labeled with significant detail,” including CBD and THC levels, other ingredients, and dosing instructions.


World Anti-Doping Agency Removes CBD From Banned Substances List

“We need to make sure this drug is regulated properly,” David Nathan said in an interview with Leafly.

Second, the group wants medical groups to lobby Congress and state lawmakers.

“We cannot abstain from the discussion,” the authors wrote. “The cannabis industry now advises lawmakers on cannabis regulation, and doctors must do so as well.”

“So far a lot of organized medicine has turned away, sticking to the dogma and pseudo-science of the 1930’s that got us to where we are now” Nathan said. “We are trying to break the stigma of speaking out in favor of legalization, and convincing other doctors you don’t have to be pro-marijuana to oppose its prohibition.”

“If nothing else, it would be important for these organizations to not oppose legalization.”

The group also suggested taking specific federal regulatory actions, including restrictions on marketing to minors, child-resistant packaging, as well as punishment for adults distributing to minors. These are all current features of state-regulated cannabis systems in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and other adult-legal venues.


Personalization Marketing for Cannabusinesses

The authors also called for taxation to fund research, education, prevention and substance abuse treatment. Those programs, they wrote, “should include public information for adults on the use and misuse of cannabis, and youth programs that emphasize the risks of underage cannabis use.”

“Prohibition sends the message that marijuana is dangerous for everyone, because it is illegal for everyone,” they wrote, “and children know that it is not true.”

“If we want our children to believe us when we say that cannabis can be harmful for them, our laws should reflect the difference in health effects of underage and adult use.”

They added that it’s high time for change. “The unjust prohibition of marijuana has done more damage to public health than has marijuana itself…The prohibition of alcohol was a success compared with our war on marijuana.”

“Fundamentally,” said Nathan, “prohibition was always a bad idea.”

Elders and other leaders formally launched the group last year to help doctors advocate against prohibition and for legal regulation. They publicly lobbied the National Football League to allow players to consume cannabis. Many former players have acknowledged the use of cannabis as a common practice to manage the pain that comes from playing one of the world’s most violent collision sports.


NFL Offers to Work With Players Union to Study Cannabis

Former NFL player Eugene Monroe serves as the group’s ambassador to the sports world.

Clark and Elders are both honorary board members. Last year Elders, Surgeon General under President Bill Clinton from 1993-1994, endorsed a proposal to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Clark led the treatment center for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from 1998-2014.

The group pitched their editorial to the American Journal of Public Health—as opposed to, say, The New York Times—because “we really needed to reach doctors in a very direct way,” Nathan said, “and in a way that physicians will respect and relate to.”

“Doctors for Cannabis Regulation is on the right side of history,” he added. “We are right and we know we are right.”


House Committee Blocks Move to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana

New Zealand to Hold Marijuana Vote Under New Leader Ardern

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand is poised to slash immigration, rethink trade deals and vote on legalizing marijuana under a new government that takes office next week. After nine years of conservative rule, liberal Jacinda Ardern was confirmed as the nation’s next prime minister on Thursday, following negotiations after a close September election.

Ardern’s Labour Party will be joined in a coalition by the small, nationalist New Zealand First party and will also get support from the liberal Green Party. The incoming government has not yet released details of its plans, but a number of things could change based on the coalition’s campaign promises and comments from Ardern.


Facing Pressure From Patients, New Zealand Moves Ahead on Medical Cannabis

Cannabis Referendum

Ardern said Friday the country would hold a referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana at some point over the next three years. She didn’t say whether she favored legalization but said the current system wasn’t working well.

“I’ve always been very open about the fact that I do not believe that people should be imprisoned for personal use of cannabis,” Ardern said. “On the flip side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them.”

Ardern said she wanted to hear the view from New Zealanders and figure out the correct wording for the referendum before taking a stance.

West Virginia Wants Your Thoughts on Medical Marijuana

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia health officials have released an online survey for people interested in obtaining medical marijuana.

A Department of Health & Human Resources news release says the survey results will be shared with the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in December.

State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta says the non-scientific, anonymous survey will provide insight about potential patient demographics, where they seek care and what conditions they are looking to treat.

Taking the survey doesn’t sign someone up for the program.


West Virginia Gov’s Defense of Medical Marijuana Has Us All Verklempt

Gov. Jim Justice signed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act in April after lawmakers passed it earlier in the month.

It permits doctors to recommend marijuana be used for medicinal purposes and establishes a regulatory system. No patient or caregiver ID cards will be issued until July 2019.

California’s Calaveras County On Verge of Banning Cannabis Farms

In California’s historic Gold Rush country, financially-suffering Calaveras County made a sizable wager on the Green Rush in the spring of 2016. It paid off handsomely. By welcoming and licensing medical cannabis growers, the county collected millions in dollars in taxes and fees from the locally regulated industry.

Calaveras County pocketed $3.7 million in cannabis permit fees in 2016, and $5m in cultivation taxes.

But now Calaveras, population 45,000, is having second thoughts. In a fiery Board of Supervisors meeting that stretched over two days Tuesday and Wednesday, angry citizens and conservative supervisors argued for a ban on commercial cultivation–while farmers and their supporters pushed back, wondering why the county’s warm welcome has suddenly turned cold.

Fiery cannabis opponents and outraged cannabis farmers packed the chambers and two spillover rooms, debating a proposed moved that could end one of the county’s few strong sources of revenue. Calaveras County pocketed $3.7 million in cannabis permit fees in 2016, and another $5 million in cultivation taxes in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

After two days of public vitriol, eccentric outbursts and, ultimately, confusion and paralysis, on Wednesday the Board abruptly postponed a decision in the great Calaveras County cannabis clash.

Licensed cannabis farmers Joan and Bill Wilson sport buttons supporting supervisor Jack Garamendi, the target of a recall for his support of a taxed, regulated cannabis industry.

The showdown, perhaps California’s most volatile example of local government anxiety over whether to accept and regulate cannabis businesses or to drive them off, will continue when the board meets less than a week from now, on Oct. 24.

If anyone needs to understand the passions simmering in Calaveras, the appearance Tuesday of Holly Johnson – the singing cannabis farmer – was all it took.

Seven hours into the first-day debate, Johnson strode to the podium with her guitar. She unleashed a protest chorus at supervisors wanting to ban her farm:

“So let me grow my ganja where it’s sunny

And I’ll keep on paying taxes and making money

I’m not going to go tearing down my garden, honey

‘Ain’t going to be treated that way”

Some supervisors decided they wouldn’t be treated that way, either. Seconds into Johnson’s three-minute concert, two anti-cannabis supervisors, Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp, stormed out of the board room.

Seconds into one citizen’s pro-farmer song, two anti-cannabis supervisors, Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp, stormed out of the board room.

Jack Garamendi, a supervisor who has been targeted by a recall drive over his support for maintaining Calaveras’ licensing and regulation of cannabis growers, lit into his colleagues when they returned.

“We don’t have a prohibition on singing,” Garamendi said. “We’re better than that. We need to let people express themselves and petition their government.”

Clapp rose to face one side of the audience – the people sporting “BAN” buttons – and shouted: “Sign the recall!”

A cannabis ban supporter brought her Old Glory hoodie to warm a chair.

Standing With Jack

The other side of the chamber wore buttons that said, “I stand with JACK.” They pleaded with supervisors to not cut off a lucrative revenue stream in cannabis taxes, particularly in a county that has lost nearly all other industries. The region’s gold mines, lumber mills, and cement factory all shuttered years ago.

Calaveras was also severely impacted by a scorching 2015 wildfire that destroyed 860 houses. Many of the charred lots soon bloomed with cannabis gardens as a means of economic recovery.

Back then, the county Board of Supervisors were more amenable to cannabis farmers. They approved rules permitting property owners up to a half-acre of commercial marijuana cultivation and up to 10,000 square feet of indoor growing in limited industrial zones.

More than 700 people applied for permits and paid $5,000 each in county fees, which funded new police and code enforcement officers. In 2016, 68 percent of county voters approved Measure C, which sweetened county coffers with a $2 per square foot tax on outdoor grown cannabis and $5 per square foot on indoor.

‘This will end in poverty and despair.’

Joan Wilson, a farmer who grows 3,000 square feet of cannabis on a county-licensed 20-acre parcel, came out to warn supervisors about the economic suicide of a “bait and switch” vote to bar commercial cannabis cultivation.

“The result of banning commerce that has already been allowed to operate would be devastating…ending in poverty and despair,” she said.

Don’t be swayed by ‘stoner karaoke,’ Bill McManus said. Ban the farms now.

Bill McManus, head of the Calaveras Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation, said neither tax revenue stream nor any boardroom “stoner karaoke” should deter supervisors from getting rid of cannabis farms.

McManus said the county’s cannabis experiment drew permitted guerrilla growers, criminal elements, environmental destruction and a shredding of the social fabric. “What the county has now is pure 100 percent chaos,” McManus said.

McManus’ social fabric claim carried more than a bit of hyperbole. But documents from county planning staff and the sheriff’s office showed that the county experienced a big influx of out-of-town cannabis growers after the 2015 fire and, again, when the county began accepting permits. So clearly a lot of newcomers have moved into the rural county, including many who arrived after the June 2016 application deadline had passed.

Sheriff: Legal Growers Reduce Illegal Grows

Calavaras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio warned that illegal cannabis cultivation would continue to thrive no matter how the supervisors voted. Without cannabis taxes, he said, his department would lack the manpower to go after criminal growers.

“If this goes back to a black market completely, I think we’re going to see more grows in the hills,” DiBasilio said. “I’m not advocating one way or another. I’m just stating facts: The illegal growers are not going away.”

‘I’m not advocating one way or another. I’m just stating facts: The illegal growers are not going away.’

Rick DiBasilio, Calveras County Sheriff

Since Jan. 1, the sheriff said his department – including a nine-member cannabis compliance team funded by money from fees on county permitted growers – has eradicated 52,000 cannabis plants from growers operating without county permits.

During that time, officers also seized $118,000 in cash, 225 pounds of processed cannabis, and 24 guns while making 50 arrests. In contrast, DiBasillo said he has had few problems with the county’s licensed cannabis farmers.

He said many of those licensed growers act as “eyes and ears” for sheriff’s investigators seeking to crack down on illegal cultivation and related environmental crimes, including siphoning water from sensitive streams and illegal dumping of toxins and pesticides.

The county, with three code enforcement officers funded by cannabis fees, filed abatement notices against 159 unpermitted gardens and issued 224 citations, seeking fines of $551,000.

Even under the best of financial circumstances, with the county using money from permitted cultivation to fund police and abatement programs, DiBasilio said it would take “three or four years” to drive illegal cultivation from the county’s secluded wooded landscape.

“Holy cow, we have had legal alcohol for years,” the sheriff said, “and there are still bootleggers.”

Maine Governor Proposes Pushing Back Legal Cannabis Sales Until 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Republican governor is proposing that lawmakers consider simply delaying recreational marijuana sales, instead of passing a legislative re-write of the voter-approved marijuana law.

The Maine Legislature is set to return Monday to consider a re-write offered by a legislative committee handling marijuana implementation.


Maine Lawmakers Leave Key Cannabis Questions Unanswered

Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said he is sponsoring Gov. Paul LePage’s bill to delay recreational marijuana sales to January 2019. Lawmakers had previously pushed back implementation to February.

Fredette said there are concerns about the committee’s proposal and lawmakers having the time to read the 70-page bill, which would also delay sales until 2019.

Advocacy group Legalize Maine said the committee’s bill would make it harder to set up marijuana businesses. The bill would require towns to “opt in” to the adult-use marijuana market.

What Can Canada Learn from the US When it Comes to Cannabis Legalization?

In less than a year, The Cannabis Act will fulfill Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to make adult-use recreational cannabis legal nationwide. While many Canadians are excited for legal cannabis, plenty more are concerned about just what that legal system will look like, and what its potential pitfalls are.

US legalization has yielded a wealth of data on everything from traffic fatalities to underage use to enforcement costs, addressing many of Canada’s key concerns.

Recreational cannabis might be brand new to Canada, but plenty of US states have blazed this particular trail already. Indeed, many of the concerns being raised by Canadians are the same ones raised in Washington and Colorado in 2014. Since then, nine US states have legalized recreational cannabis.

These early-adopter states have yielded a wealth of data, on everything from traffic fatalities to underage use to enforcement costs, addressing many of Canada’s key concerns about legalization. While legalizing cannabis on a national scale is a challenge unique to Canada, there’s a lot to be learned from the US.

How Much Does Enforcement Cost?

Toronto Mayor John Tory has claimed that legalization will result in drastically increased law-enforcement costs for cities. His theory is that “a big part” of enforcement costs will fall to municipalities, which will face major increases in the cost of business licensing, by-law enforcement, and policing. Tory supports a special levy on cannabis to offset these costs.

US cities haven’t seen the astronomical rise in law-enforcement costs Toronto’s Mayor Tory is predicting.

However, US cities haven’t seen the astronomical rise in enforcement costs Tory is predicting. Washington’s largest city, Seattle, requires only about 3-4 dedicated employees to regulate cannabis. Those employees don’t represent a burden on the budget, as the city’s cost to regulate cannabis is only about $500,000 for 2017. It might make Tory happy to know that Seattle is also slated to get a $700,000 cut of cannabis taxes from the state this year, which he also called for in Toronto. As far as policing goes, legal cannabis doesn’t seem to be changing the budget process much.

“I can’t speak to this without data,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the Seattle Police Department’s communications director, but offered that, “We’ve had some significant cases [since legalization], but those are the same types of cases we’ve always had.”


Price Theory: Can Canada’s Cannabis Law Defeat the Law of Supply and Demand?

He’s previously stressed that his agency is primarily concerned with curbing youth access, busting big illegal grow ops, and enforcing DUI laws. Enforcement involving legal cannabis is not the SPD’s mission, according to Whitcomb.

Furthermore, contrary to Tory’s claims, cannabis legalization actually frees up law enforcement resources. According to a Drug Policy Alliance report from July 2015, written one year after the state’s first recreational cannabis sales, cannabis arrests decreased by 63%, from 6,196 in 2012 to 2,316 in 2014, with each arrest representing a cost of $1,000-2,000 to the government.

In general, legal cannabis more than covers the cost of regulation and enforcement.

In general, legal cannabis more than covers the cost of regulation and enforcement. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), the agency that regulates cannabis in Washington and handles all legal cannabis enforcement, had an annual operating budget of $34 million in fiscal year 2016, including $13 million for enforcement. Cannabis taxes and fees brought in $189 million, about six times more than the agency’s entire budget. About $90 million of that excess cannabis revenue went to funding the state’s Basic Health program to provide insurance to low-income families.

In Colorado, they’re really rolling in it, it seems. The city of Aurora was famously able to raise so much extra tax from the cannabis industry that it earmarked $4.5 million for homelessness programs. A report by the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation found that Colorado netted $66 million and $96 million in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal years, respectively, after accounting for enforcement and regulation.


Leaked Document Reveals Ontario’s Conflicted Path to Legalization

The prognosis for Canada cashing in is pretty good, too. According to a report by the C.D. Howe institute, Canada could rake in as much as $500 million USD per year from legal cannabis. That report also includes only the existing state and federal taxes, meaning that if cannabis is subject to an additional excise tax, as it is in most U.S. states where it’s legal, Canada could see even more tax revenue.

What’s the Deal with DUI?

Though low-level possession arrests are down in legal states, the question of how to deal with drivers who may be under the influence of cannabis remains a thorny one. According to the aforementioned DPA report, overall traffic fatalities decreased in Washington post-legalization, although no causality was established.

Regardless of whether cannabis causes more accidents, no one wants more people driving under the influence, no matter what substance is influencing them. Though every state has provisions regarding cannabis DUIs on the books, none can claim to have developed an effective enforcement method yet.

Of all the questions facing Canada, how to regulate DUI might be the one for which the US has the fewest answers.

In Washington, the limit is five micrograms (ug) per milliliter of blood. It’s the same in Colorado. These limits, while well-intentioned, have been confusing. For one, it’s nearly impossible to tell if that 5 ug was from five minutes ago or five days ago, as cannabis can linger in the bloodstream well after its effects have worn off.

Beyond that, it’s nearly impossible to tell how profoundly 5 ug might affect someone, because individual tolerances vary so widely with cannabis. Some people can ingest 800mg, take the bus to downtown Seattle, and film a Nazi being punched, while others eat 100mg and think they’ve become one with the wallpaper. As the director of traffic safety and advocacy for AAA, Jake Nelson, told the Washington Post, “There is no reliable number that has any meaningful value in terms of predicting impairment.”

Assessing impairment in Canada has previously fallen to Drug Recognition Experts, officers trained to perform field evaluations of suspects who might be driving on drugs. AAA prefers the DRE system, but Canada’s is woefully inadequate even for their current need.


Cannabis in a Distinct Society: Quebec’s Idiosyncratic Grapple With Legalization

“The problem is that there are fewer than 600 trained DRE officers in Canada,” an article in the Ottawa Citizen concluded. “An assessment conducted in 2009 estimated that Canada needs between 1,800 and 2,000 and the training system isn’t equipped to pump out trained officers any faster.”

If Canada does decide to ease the demand for DREs with a ug/ml limit, it’ll face the same criticisms of the legal limits used by US states. Of all the questions facing Canada, how to regulate DUI might be the one for which the US has the fewest answers.

How Do You Keep It Away From Kids?

One of the other major objections raised by opponents of cannabis legalization in both the US and Canada has been that legalizing cannabis normalizes it in the eyes of teens, and ultimately leads to an increase in underage use. Legalization proponents argue that putting cannabis in tightly regulated retail outlets actually deters underage access.

Studies seem to support the latter view, with post-legalization surveys of teenagers in both Colorado and Washington showing steady rates of cannabis use or even slight declines.

If Canada’s 18+ age restriction is as vigorously enforced as age limits in the US, an increase in underage use from legalization seems unlikely.

Though Hamilton police chief Eric Girt complained in a town hall this summer that cannabis products in Colorado were “being marketed to kids” and cautioned that the same could happen in Canada, it’s worth noting that the state has had strict advertising rules in place to prevent any marketing efforts that might appeal to minors since 2013. Manufacturers are not allowed to use any packaging that appeals to children, and no cannabis business can advertise in a location frequented by minors: malls, arcades, sports venues—the interpretation is pretty broad. Ads can only be placed in publications or broadcast outlets for which “reliable evidence” exists that less than 30% of the audience consists of minors.


Alberta’s Cannabis Guidelines: 18 to Buy, Liquor Commission in Control

Nearly the same rules are in place in Washington, and Canada’s bill includes similar language. If Canada’s 18+ age restriction is as vigorously enforced as age limits are in the US, an increase in underage use from legalization seems unlikely.

Indeed, it might even lead to the slight reductions enjoyed by US states who have legalized and regulated cannabis. While minors can always ask an older sibling to sneak them something from the store, it’s still an extra step they didn’t have to take before. Dealers definitely don’t check ID.

Can Legal Cannabis Compete With the Black Market?

Speaking of dealers, many of the concerns around tax rates in Canada are about more than just the cost of enforcement. Regis police chief Evan Bray told the CBC that he was worried tax rates on cannabis would be too high, which he theorized would be a boon for the back market.

Those concerns are not entirely invalid, as legal states have struggled to completely eliminate the black market. In Washington, the relatively high 37% state excise tax on cannabis has been cited as a major factor in the black market’s persistence. However, through increased volume and improved efficiency, legal cannabis has achieved price parity with the black market in many instances.


Trudeau Proposes a $1-a-Gram Tax on Canadian Cannabis

However, many states have far lower tax rates. Maine has proposed a 20% tax, Oregon only takes 17%, and Massachusetts is even lower at 3.75%.

That said, one of the other major reasons the black market persists in the US is the piecemeal nature of legalization, which simply shunts drug dealers from one state to another. Even within legal states, certain cities and counties have banned legal cannabis, creating pockets of demand for the black market.

While the black market has persisted in the US, the cannabis-driven violent crime scare Jeff Sessions is constantly crowing about simply isn’t supported by data. Violent crime has decreased overall in both Washington and Colorado since legalization.

Legalization Is Looking Pretty Bright for Canada

Overall, legalization looks pretty good. Rather than exacerbating problems of youth access and violent crime, legalizing cannabis seems poised to alleviate them—and to raise quite a bit of tax revenue while doing it. Though it is still unclear how best to regulate cannabis DUIs, legalizing cannabis has at least pushed forward the study of how cannabis affects driving performance, and created a demand for devices that can reliably measure cannabis intoxication on the side of the road. A pilot program to study the efficacy of roadside saliva tests is already underway in Canada.


Ontario Government Aims to Sell Cannabis for $10 a Gram

There is still the difficult question of how to handle the international drug enforcement treaties to which Canada is a party, and whether that process might delay legalization. Domestically speaking, however, if things play out like they have in the U.S., legalization looks to be a win.