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Canada: Public Safety Minister Says Ottawa Has No Plan For Blanket

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
Hamilton Spectator, 18 Apr 2017 - OTTAWA - The federal plan to legalize recreational marijuana does not include the general amnesty for past pot convictions some would like to see, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Newly tabled legislation would allow people 18 and older to publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form.
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CN NS: Halifax Landlords' Concern Growing Over Legalization

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
Metro, 18 Apr 2017 - Property owners plan around issues like ventilation, insurance Landlords' main concerns with marijuana legalization in Nova Scotia are around protecting tenant's health and possible damage to buildings, says one advocacy group.
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CN ON: OPED: The stone cold truth: Marijuana Clouds Reality

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
The Record, 18 Apr 2017 - There's something quasi quaint about the federal government introducing legislation to legalize marijuana. News reporting on the budding bill has generously employed terrible puns to create a sense of giggling excitement about it. A Canadian Press story advised that all of Ottawa is "buzzing" at the audacity that dope represents.
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CN ON: Editorial: A Pot Revolution Comes To Canada

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
The Record, 18 Apr 2017 - In case you missed it, the federal government has just sown the seeds for a full-blown social revolution in Canada. Last Thursday, just before the Easter long weekend started, the Liberals tabled legislation that will legalize and regulate the production, sale and use of recreational marijuana in this country starting in the summer of 2018.
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Canada: Oped: As The Legalization Of Marijuana Looms, How Will

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 18 Apr 2017 - When recreational marijuana users gather on April 20 for Cannabis Day, they will have something else to celebrate: much anticipated legislation which decriminalizes marijuana in Canada. Last Thursday, the federal Liberal government tabled the Cannabis Act. While this legislation sets out the path forward for legalizing recreational marijuana, the responsibility for more detailed laws relating to distribution and sale will rest with the provinces. All of these moving parts are expected to come together by July, 2018. In the meantime, Canadian employers have questions about how to respond to this changing legal landscape. This uncertainty also extends, to a somewhat lesser degree, to the Canadian judicial system. Coincidentally, on April 3, 2017, an Ontario Superior Court judge declined to grant an injunction striking down a random drug testing policy sought by the union representing employees of the Toronto Transit Commission.
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CN MB: Column: Trudeau's Pot Law Makes It Open Season On All Drivers

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
Winnipeg Sun, 18 Apr 2017 - Irony, hypocrisy and cops. Nothing good can come from this trio when all three are put in play. On Monday morning, for example, with no reference to his late father being the moving force behind it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement celebrating the 35th anniversary of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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CN ON: London 420 Rally To Fete Budding Legalization

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
London Free Press, 18 Apr 2017 - The vibe at this year's 420 rally in London will be more celebration than demonstration. Hundreds of marijuana activists plan to gather Thursday at Victoria Park for the yearly event that champions cannabis culture and pushes for the drug's legalization.
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Canada: Column: What Was Justin Smoking?

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 18 Apr 2017 - Legalizing pot is trickier than it looks, and the Prime Minister might soon be wondering if the hassle is worth the price Justin Trudeau's vow to legalize marijuana - made without much thinking, one suspects - was one of his signature campaign promises. It was intended to brand his party as progressive, youthful and enlightened. And the time seemed right. Most Canadians agree that it's time to make it legal.
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Chronicle AM: NV Syringe Vending Machines, Good and Bad CO MJ Bills, More... (4/17/17)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 20:47

Nevada will soon see the first syringe vending machines in the country, the Colorado legislature responds to a threatened federal crackdown -- for better and worse -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is moving forward with plans to drug test Medicaid recipients, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

A Majority of American Adults Have Tried Marijuana, Poll Finds. A new Marist/Yahoo poll finds that 52% of American adults have tried marijuana at least once, and that 56% find the drug "socially acceptable. The same poll has support for legalization at 49%, with 47% opposed.

DC Marijuana Activists to Hand Out Free Joints on Capitol Hill for 4/20. The same folks who brought legal marijuana to the nation's capital are planning to hand out more than a thousand free marijuana joints on Capitol Hill Thursday, 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday. Anyone over 21 who has a congressional ID is eligible for the free weed, said DCMJ. The activists said the action was meant to life the "special interest smokescreen" blocking marijuana reform in Congress.

Homeland Security Chief Says Marijuana "Not a Factor" in Drug War. DHS Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is "not a factor" in the country's drug war and that "arresting a lot of users" will not solve the country's drug problems. Kelly responded to a question about whether legalizing marijuana in the US would help or hinder his work attempting to interdict drug shipments to the US. "Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war," Kelly responded, adding later: "It's three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south." And rather than arresting users: "The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation. And then law enforcement. And then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the south."

Colorado Social Consumption Bill Dies. A bill that would have set up the country's first statewide law allowing for on-premises marijuana consumption at licensed businesses is dead, with legislators citing fear of a federal crackdown for its demise. The House voted last Thursday to amend Senate Bill 17-184 to remove the provision that would have allowed adults to bring their own weed to businesses and consume it on-premises.

Colorado Senate Approves Bill to Shift Legal Marijuana Inventories Over to Medical Marijuana in Event of Federal Crackdown. The state Senate has approved Senate Bill 17-192, which would allow adult-use marijuana businesses to transfer their inventory to medical marijuana status if a federal crackdown on adult-legal weed happens. The bill now goes to the House.

Nevada Legislature Still Faces Heavy Load of Marijuana Bills. The legislative session marked its first key deadline last Friday when all proposed bills had to have passed out of their committee of introduction or be declared dead. And fourteen marijuana-related bills remain alive, including one, Senate Bill 302, that would allow dispensaries to begin selling marijuana to any adult beginning in July. Click the link for the rest of the bills and their status.

Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Killing Decrim in Memphis and Nashville. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) last Friday signed into law House Bill 173, which bars cities in the state from crafting marijuana penalties lesser than state law. The bill was a response to moves by the state's two largest cities, Memphis and Nashville, which had passed municipal decriminalization ordinances.

Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Regulators Finalize Medical Marijuana Rules. The state Medical Marijuana Commission last Tuesday gave final approval to rules governing dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The rules must still be approved by the legislature, which has passed some legislation that appears to conflict with them. The legislature only has until May 8 to modify the rules or the state will be out of compliance with the Medical Marijuana Act, which is now part of the state constitution.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Alabama House Approves Tougher Penalties for Heroin, Fentanyl. The House voted last week to approve harsh new penalties for the possession and sale of heroin and fentanyl. In a unanimous vote, the chamber approved a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession and increased penalties for trafficking, including a mandatory life sentence without parole for trafficking 10 or more kilos of either drugs. The bill is House Bill 203, which is now before the Senate.

Maryland General Assembly Passes Package of Heroin/Opioid Bills. The Assembly last week approved a package of bills aimed at tackling the state's heroin and prescription opioid crisis. One bill would create 24/7 drug treatment centers for addicts, increase reimbursements for drug treatment, and ease access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. A second bill would create drug awareness programs in schools and allow school nurses to stock and dispense naloxone. A third bill would require doctors to follow best practices when prescribing opioids, while a fourth bill increases prison sentences for people convicted of fentanyl offenses. The bills now await the governor's signature.

Asset Forfeiture

Arizona Governor Signs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) last week signed into law House Bill 2477, which requires a higher evidentiary standard before police and prosecutors can seize assets from suspects. Instead of a "preponderance" of the evidence, cops must now provide "clear and convincing evidence" that the assets are linked to a crime.

Drug Policy

New York City Council Passes Bill to Coordinate Drug Policy Among City Departments. The city council recently passed legislation to create a coordinated municipal drug strategy. The bill empowers the Mayor to designate a lead agency or office to convene stakeholders including city agencies, outside experts, and communities impacted by drug use to develop a city-wide, health-focused plan for a coordinated approach in addressing issues related to drug use.

West Virginia Legislature Passes Bill Creating Drug Policy Office. A bill that would create an Office of Drug Control Policy within the Department of Health and Human Services has passed both houses of the legislature and awaits the governor's signature. The measure, House Bill 2620, passed last Friday, the final day of the session. Gov. Jim Justice (D) has fifteen days to sign the bill.

Drug Testing

Wisconsin Governor Moving Forward With Plan to Drug Test Medicaid Recipients. Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Monday posted his proposal for moving people off state Badgercare Medicaid, which includes a provision requiring drug screenings for Medicaid recipients. People suspected of illegal drug use after screening would be ineligible for coverage until they are tested. People who test positive would be offered drug treatment, while people who refuse the test would lose benefits for six months.

Harm Reduction

Nevada Becomes First State to Install Needle Vending Machines. In a bid to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hep C, a needle exchange program in Las Vegas is now providing clean needles in vending machines. The Las Vegas Harm Reduction Center worked together with the Southern Nevada Health District and the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society to install the new machines. Each client will be limited to two kits per week, with the kits including syringes, alcohol wipes, condoms, and a needle disposal box.

International

Canada Unveils Plan for Legal Marijuana Sales by June 2018. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Thursday filed legislation designed to implement marijuana legalization by June of next year. The bill would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana and would allow the federal government to regulate producers, while the provinces would regulate sales to consumers. Other issues, such as pricing, taxation, and packaging are still to be worked out.

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Canada: Canadian Leader Unveils A Bill To Legalize Recreational

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
New York Times, 14 Apr 2017 - OTTAWA - Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation on Thursday to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. Many nations have either decriminalized marijuana, allowed it to be prescribed medically or effectively stopped enforcing laws against it. But when Mr. Trudeau's bill passes as expected, Canada will become only the second nation, after Uruguay, to completely legalize marijuana as a consumer product.
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CN AB: Column: Don't Forget About That Omnibus Bill

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
Edmonton Sun, 14 Apr 2017 - The Liberals' hot-boxing of a marijuana smokescreen It was a brilliant if not cynical move on the part of the Trudeau Liberals to table their marijuana legislation during the same week they thumped down a 294-page omnibus budget document like those contemptible Harperites were so prone to doing.
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CN AB: Column: Justin Trudeau Is Telling Our Young People That It's

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
The Calgary Sun, 14 Apr 2017 - This week, the Trudeau Liberals introduced The Cannabis Act, legislation that will legalize the recreational use of marijuana. I am opposed to this legislation and I will vote against it, but the Liberals will use their majority to pass it.
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CN ON: Editorial: Pot Rules Should Go Light On Marketing

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
The Enterprise-Bulletin, 14 Apr 2017 - If you're old enough, you may remember a time when buying alcohol in Ontario involved walking into a bland, warehouse-like building, filling out a slip of paper and handing it to a clerk who disappeared behind locked doors to retrieve the booze you were looking for. No flashy signs, no staff recommendations for libation of the month. No critics' choice signs dotting the gleaming rows of bottles. Depending on what's in federal legislation expected Thursday, initial legal sales of marijuana may look something like those old days.
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CN ON: Editorial: Good Start, But Pot Law Needs Work

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
Ottawa Sun, 14 Apr 2017 - The federal government's proposed bill for legalizing marijuana expands police powers, sets new mandatory penalties for illegal possession, and boosts prison sentences for lawbreakers. That all sounds pretty tough. But the legislation also downloads some difficult decision-making on to provincial authorities, and from there on to municipalities and local police. That part's going to be tougher.
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CN AB: Pot Timeline 'Ambitious'

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
Edmonton Sun, 14 Apr 2017 - Notley wants consultations on marijuana policy It's going to be challenging to get the province ready for the federal government's deadline of July 1, 2018, for legalized marijuana in the country, says Premier Rachel Notley.
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Canada: Five Things To Consider About The Plan To Legalize Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
Prince George Citizen, 14 Apr 2017 - OTTAWA - The Liberal government introduced long-awaited legislation Thursday to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but many of the finer points and logistical questions remain unanswered or up in the air. Here are five of them: 1. What happens if a U.S. border guard asks if you have ever smoked marijuana? Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was asked that question - whether the Liberal government had sought assurances from the U.S. that someone who admitted to using cannabis legally would not face the same fate. Each country sets its own rules, said Goodale, but he suggested Canada might get on the phone if it became a big deal. "If there appears to be a pattern of examination at the border that just does not accord with appropriate, professional, reliable, consistent conduct, then obviously that's the sort of thing that we should raise at a governmental level to make sure people are treated appropriately." Canada, he added, would also "make the very strong point" that its new legal regime would be better at protecting children and keeping illegal cash away from organized crime. "Our system will actually be the better one."
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Canada: OPED: Is This The End Of The Black Market?

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 07:00
Globe and Mail, 14 Apr 2017 - The bill to legalize marijuana is a victory for public health, but the goal of eliminating an illegal supply will be a tougher challenge. Marijuana was criminalized in Canada in 1923. There was no debate in the House of Commons, just the statement, "There is a new drug in the schedule." The prominent Edmonton magistrate Emily Murphy had written a book about illegal drugs in 1922, concluding of marijuana, "… there are three ways out from the regency of this addiction: 1st - Insanity. 2nd - Death. 3rd - Abandonment. This is assuredly a direful trinity."
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Trump Drug Czar Nominee: Tough on Colombian Peasants and US Marijuana Users

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 20:00

President Trump will name Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino (R) to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office), CBS News reported Tuesday. The White House gave no official comment, but sources told CBS that an official announcement would come soon.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marino's legacy of legislative achievements around drug policy offers little comfort to reformers looking for signs that the "law and order" theme of the Trump administration may not be as bad as it sounds. Marino is a former prosecutor now in his third term in the House. His 2016 Transnational Drug Trafficking Act expands the ability of US prosecutors to use extraterritoriality to go after international drug traffickers, but while the law is touted as aiming at "kingpins," but observers south of the border have argued that the law "targets people on the lowest rungs of the trafficking ladder, i.e. Colombia's coca farmers." Marino has also been a reliable vote in opposition to marijuana reform in Congress.

Marino's rural congressional district has seen rising concern about heroin and opioids, and he serves on the House bipartisan committee combating the opioid epidemic. A bill he was an author and key supporter of in that area may suggest a more complex picture -- the 2016 Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which supporters characterized as balancing the needs of patients, the pharmaceutical industry, and law enforcement, but which critics describe as a means of undercutting the DEA's ability to hold pharmaceutical drug distributors accountable for the diversion of large amounts of opioid pain relievers.

The ability of pain patients to have access to the drugs that can help them is a continuing -- and under-covered -- issue in the debate around prescription opioids. So is the ability of physicians to appropriately prescribe them within running afoul of regulatory authorities or even drug enforcement authorities. If Marino's bill reflects a concern with such issues, or a more general willingness to treat DEA pronouncements on such matters with skepticism, that could be useful. Conversely, however, the nation is also in the midst of a much more well-covered increase in the misuse of opioids. ONDCP has a role to play in promoting public health measures that can reduce overdoses and the risk of addiction. If Marino is too deferential to the preferences of big pharma lobbyists, while otherwise hooked on hard-line drug war approaches, opportunities to advance positive approaches for reducing the risks that go with opioids may be squandered.

In the fight over the 2016 Act, Marino, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Regulatory Reform, clashed repeatedly with DEA Office of Diversion Control head Joseph Rannazzisi. In a 2014 conference call with congressional staffers, Rannazzisi warned that the bill, backed by a pharmaceutical industry lobbying campaign, would protect corporations engaged in criminal activity.

"[If t]his bill passes the way it's written we won't be able to get immediate suspension orders, we won't be able to stop the hemorrhaging of these drugs out of these bad pharmacies and these bad corporations," Rannazzisi recalled telling them. "What you're doing is filing a bill that will protect defendants in our cases."

Rannazzisi's opposition infuriated Marino, who ripped into the veteran DEA official's boss, then-DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart at a congressional hearing later that year.

"It is my understanding that Joe Rannazzisi, a senior DEA official, has publicly accused we sponsors of the bill of, quote, 'supporting criminals,' unquote" Marino said. "This offends me immensely."

A week later, Marino and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) demanded that the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General investigate Rannazzis for "intimidating" members of Congress. Rannazzissi was replaced and retired in October 2015.

Marino's record is good enough for anti-marijuana crusader and former ONDCP advisor Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (Project SAM). "My understanding is that Tom has a deep understanding of the issue and is excited to get started," he enthused to CBS News.

But it's not good enough for anyone interested in a truly progressive approach to drug policy.

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CN NF: Consulting On Cannabis

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 07:00
The Telegram, 13 Apr 2017 - Parsons promises public consultation soon on legal marijuana The government will start public consultations within the next month or two on how to implement marijuana legalization in Newfoundland and Labrador, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said.
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Senators' False Claims Pave Way for Dangerous Drug Bill [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 19:48

The two octogenarian senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are up to one of their favorite pastimes again this year. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have reintroduced a perennial bill that would increase penalties for drug dealers who sell products designed to entice children.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]If the bill were to become law, anyone who knew or "had reasonable cause to believe" that a "modified controlled substance would be distributed to a minor" would be looking at a 10- to 20-year prison sentence.

But the bill, the "Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act of 2017" (Senate Bill 739), is seemingly justified more by urban myths than facts and, critics say, both unnecessary and more likely to be used against real-life sellers of marijuana edibles than mythical strawberry-flavored meth dealers.

"There are many instances of of drug dealers altering flavor and packaging of cocaine or methamphetamines to appeal to children," Feinstein tweeted as the bill rolled out late last month.

"Law enforcement reports that drug dealers frequently combine drugs with chocolate or fruit flavors or package the drugs to look like candy or soda to attract youth," the senators claimed in a joint statement. "For example, there are reports of candy bracelets containing ecstasy; gummy bears laced with Xanax; and candy laced with THC."

"Cynical criminals take advantage of drug trends in the general population to market dangerous illicit drugs specifically to kids," Grassley added in a separate press release. "It could be marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine or something else. The criminals are innovative, and the law should keep up with them. Federal law should make crystal clear that marketing potentially lethal drugs to kids will have steep consequences."

The problem for Feinstein and Grassley, who have unsuccessfully filed the bill three times before, is that the crisis they wish to solve largely doesn't exist. The first time around, they were inspired by media reports of strawberry-flavored meth, but those have been roundly debunked as myths.

Some of their other claims are even more ludicrous. "Gummy bears laced with Xanax" seem only to be found on the furthest fringes of the web (a Reddit user subforum, to be precise) dedicated to bored drug hobbyists with too much time on their hands.

And the "candy bracelets containing ecstasy" claim appears to be based on a misreading of raver culture percolated through a concerned parents group.

"People (especially at Raves) have started wearing bracelets lined with ecstasy as opposed to the old candy bracelets kids used to wear," warned something called Careful Parents. "Much like the candy bracelets of old, people can eat the drug right off the bracelets. Google images of these bracelets for a better idea of what they look like and be on the lookout if your kids like to go to Raves."

But that warning was based on a 10-year-old story about rave culture in the Seattle Times -- a story that indeed mentioned bracelets and ecstasy and "candy kisses" (the sharing of beaded bracelets), but did not claim that the bracelets were made of ecstasy. The wearing of colorful bracelets is part of rave culture, but ecstasy bracelets are a myth based on misunderstanding.

The idea of drug dealers peddling candy-flavored drugs to kids may be an old bugaboo, but it just doesn't make much economic sense, said Sanho Tree, director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

"Those are not popular commodities to sell to children," he told ATTN:. "Why risk already severe penalties for some kid's lunch money?"

"This reminds me of the horror stories that you hear every Halloween -- where you have people handing out these infused products to children," Daniel Shortt, an attorney who focuses on cannabis law at the firm Harris Bricken, told ATTN:. "There's really no data supporting that that happens."

While candy-flavored meth or ecstasy bracelets are mythical, marijuana edibles and beverages are not. They are sold legally under state laws in medical and adult legal marijuana states, but the text of the bill could certainly be interpreted as aiming at them as well. It specifies that it would apply to people who sell federally illegal drugs to minors that are:

Combined with a beverage or candy product,Marketed or packaged to appear similar to a beverage or candy product, or

Modified by flavoring or coloring to appear similar to a candy or beverage product.

"That's broad," Shortt said. "I worry about how that could applied to marijuana-infused edibles."

Edibles are often infused in candies, cookies, and chocolates, as well as brightly packaged beverages. It's not strawberry-flavored meth dealers who are likely to be caught up if this bill ever passes -- since they don't exist -- but people selling pot brownies and the like, in the black market or in the legal pot shop, who sell to minors, either knowingly or inadvertently.

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