Tens of thousands of Connecticut residents are in line to have their records cleared after the state’s Democratic governor announced Tuesday that he is expunging low-level cannabis possession convictions.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said in a press release that records “in approximately 44,000 cases will be fully or partially erased” next month by way of “an automated erasure method.”
“On January 1, thousands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” Lamont said in a statement. “Especially as Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations.”
The expungements are part of the state’s year-old cannabis law. In June 2021, Lamont signed a bill that legalized recreational cannabis use for adults and established the regulatory framework for a legal marijuana market.
As in other states and cities that have lifted the prohibition on pot, Connecticut’s new law contained a significant social justice component, with provisions to award the first retail licenses to individuals from areas most adversely affected by long standing drug policies, and to clear the records of those with certain marijuana-related convictions.
“That’s why I introduced a bill and worked hard with our partners in the legislature and other stakeholders to create a comprehensive framework for a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous unregulated market and support a new, growing sector of our economy which will create jobs,” Lamont said after signing the bill last year. “By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states.”
On Tuesday, Lamont’s office spelled out how the expungements will work in practice.
Residents “who have had their records erased may tell employers, landlords, and schools that the conviction never occurred,” the release said, while also providing details on eligibility for expungement.
“Convictions for violations…for possession of under four ounces of a non-narcotic, non-hallucinogenic substance imposed between January 1, 2000, and September 30, 2015, will be automatically erased on January 1, 2023,” the governor’s office said, adding that people “included under this provision of the law need not do anything to make these convictions eligible for erasure.”
The governor’s office said that the “Clean Slate automated erasure system is expected to be fully implemented during the second half of 2023,” implementation of which “involves significant information technology upgrades to allow criminal justice agencies to send and receive data to determine who can have their offenses erased and to update record systems.”
Other violations, including the following may also be erased, though individuals will have to file a petition to a court: “Convictions for violations of … possession of less than or equal to four ounces of a cannabis-type substance imposed before January 1, 2000, and between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021; Convictions for violations of … possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia for cannabis imposed before July 1, 2021; [and] Convictions for violations … imposed before July 1, 2021, for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, or giving or administering to another person a cannabis-type substance and the amount involved was under four ounces or six plants grown inside a person’s home for personal use.”
A Buddhist temple in Thailand is even quieter than usual these days after several monks there failed a drug test.
Agence France-Presse reports that a total of four monks “including an abbot at a temple in Phetchabun province’s Bung Sam Phan district tested positive for methamphetamine on Monday.”
Boonlert Thintapthai, an official in the central Thailand district, told Agence France-Presse that the “temple is now empty of monks and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making” after the four monks were sent to a drug rehabilitation clinic.
“Merit-making involves worshippers donating food to monks as a good deed. Boonlert said more monks will be sent to the temple to allow villagers to practise their religious obligations. Thailand is a major transit country for methamphetamine flooding in from Myanmar’s troubled Shan state via Laos, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. On the street, pills sell for less than 20 baht (around $0.50). Authorities across Southeast Asia have made record meth seizures in recent years,” Agence France-Presse reports.
The raid of the temple comes at a turbulent moment for the country and its enforcement of drug laws.
“It’s a no,” Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in the summer when asked whether recreational pot use would be allowed. “We still have regulations under the law that control the consumption, smoking or use of cannabis products in non-productive ways.”
But the cannabis cafes have been a boon for the country’s tourism industry, with foreign travelers eager to catch a buzz in the southeast Asian state.
That, too, has drawn pushback from the Thailand government.
After the new law was passed in June, Anutin said that the goal was never to open the door for recreational use.
“Thailand will promote cannabis policies for medical purposes,” Anutin said at the time. “If [tourists] come for medical treatment or come for health-related products then it’s not an issue but if you think that you want to come to Thailand just because you heard that cannabis or marijuana is legal … [or] come to Thailand to smoke joints freely, that’s wrong. Don’t come. We won’t welcome you if you just come to this country for that purpose.”
“Cannabis was removed from the Public Health Ministry’s Narcotic list on June 9, but no policies have been launched to control the use of cannabis for personal pleasure,” a spokesperson for the doctors said. “This lack of [legal] direction makes cannabis more accessible for children and teenagers.”
The group of doctors argued that “government and related departments should stop threatening people’s health as soon as possible.”
“The use of cannabis for medical purposes should be under control for the best benefits and safety as the government claimed from the first place,” the group said.
A new poll released on Tuesday shows that nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe that cannabis should be legal in some form, with a strong majority saying that recreational marijuana should be legalized for adults. The survey, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center last month, was published online on November 22 after being administered during the first half of October.
The results of the poll, which were essentially unchanged from a similar survey conducted in April 2021, showed that 88% of American adults surveyed believe that marijuana should be legalized. More than half (59%) said that medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis should be legal, while nearly a third (30%) said that cannabis should be legalized for medicinal use only. Only one in 10 respondents said that marijuana should be illegal in all cases.
Support For Legalization Varied By Age
Support for recreational marijuana legalization was sharply divided by the age of the poll’s respondents, with only 30% of those 75 and older believing that all forms of cannabis should be legalized. By contrast, 72% of those 18 to 29 years old said that both recreational marijuana and medical cannabis should be legalized, while 62% of respondents age 30 to 49 said the same. Just over half (54%) of adults aged 50 to 64 said both recreational and medical marijuana should be legal and 53% aged 65 to 74 agreed.
The new survey also found varying levels of support for marijuana legalization based on the political affiliation of respondents. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said that they believed that marijuana should be legal for both recreational and medical use and another 21% said that only medical marijuana should be legalized. Among liberal Democrats, 84% said both forms of cannabis should be legal, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of moderate and conservative Democrats said that they held the same view.
However, less than half (45%) of Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican said both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis should be legal, with an additional 39% saying only medical marijuana should be legalized. A majority (60%) of moderate and liberal Republicans said that both medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized, while less than four out of 10 (37%) conservative Republicans said both forms of cannabis should be legal.
Poll Taken After Presidential Pardons Announced
The new poll was conducted after President Joe Biden announced on October 6 that he would pardon all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession and encouraged state governors around the country to take similar action. At the same time, the president directed the U.S. attorney general and the head of the Department of Health and Human Services to examine the rescheduling of cannabis under federal drug laws.
About three weeks following the completion of the survey, voters in five states decided on ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in the November midterm elections. The legalization bids succeeded in Maryland and Missouri, while similar proposals in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota were rejected by voters.
The new Pew Research Center poll, which was conducted October 10 through 16, also identified different levels of support for marijuana legalization among different racial groups. A majority of white (60%) and Black (68%) adults were in favor of ending the prohibition on both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis. By contrast, less than half of both Hispanic (49%) and Asian (48%) respondents said that they were in favor of full legalization. The survey’s overall results are similar to a recently released Gallup Poll that also showed strong support for legalizing marijuana. In that survey, which was taken between October 3 and October 20 and did not differentiate between medical cannabis and recreational marijuana, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said that they favored legalization, tying a record high for the poll. A Monmouth Universtiy poll released last month showed similar support.
Spanning across 35 subgroups divided by ideology, religiosity, and age, the majority of nearly every demographic supported legal cannabis in the U.S. with just two exceptions: Older conservatives ages 50+, and “people who attend church weekly.”
Gallup recently released a poll with the latest data conducted on Oct. 3 to 20. Study results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,009 adults living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The list includes people from all walks of life, male and female, Democrat and Republican. Per usual, landline and cell phone telephone numbers were selected using random digit dial methods.
And using this and combined data gathered over the past five years—2018 through 2022—they released a stronger aggregated analysis of demographic differences in views about pot legalization, which they say is better than providing data from one poll alone.
Holding steady for the past two years, a record-high 68% of Americans across the board said they support legal pot. That number remained unchanged since the poll was conducted in 2020 and 2021.
Gallup Results Across Ideologies
People with no religious preference topped the list at 89%, liberals closed in second at 84%, Democrats at 81%, young adults close behind at 79%, and those who seldom or never attend religious services next at 78%.
The only subgroups that did not favor legal pot by majority are those who attend church weekly at 46% and conservatives at 49%—however younger conservatives ages 18 to 49 favored pot legalization slightly. Baby boomer conservatives, however, are a different story.
“Americans have grown much more supportive of legalizing marijuana over the past two decades, but support appears to be leveling off for now, not showing any change in the past three years,” wrote Jeffrey M. Jones in the poll report.
Protestants and Catholics showed equal support for legal pot at 60% each. It appears that college education changes attitudes to be more positive about cannabis: graduates supported legal pot more than non-graduates, with 69% and 66%, respectively. Stay in school, folks.
“While majorities of most major subgroups are in favor of legalizing marijuana, there are a few holdouts—-namely, political conservatives and regular churchgoers,” he continued. “Small segments of the population (in particular, older conservatives) are still disinclined to think marijuana use should be legal. However, younger conservatives and younger moderates are more inclined than their older counterparts to think cannabis should be legal. As such, in future decades support for legalizing marijuana can be expected to continue to grow as newer, likely more pro-marijuana, generations replace older generations in the U.S. population.”
Suburban residents supported legal pot the most at 72%, more than city residents (67%) and rural residents (60%). Men were also slightly more supportive of legal pot (70%) than women (65%).
The Growing Support of Legal Pot
In 1969, the first time Gallup conducted this poll, only 12% of Americans said cannabis should be legal. That number has gone up steadily, stalling briefly amid the “Just Say No” fever movement of the ‘80s, but climbing to 68% where it stands today.
The polls show the normalization of cannabis use in America, which is light years away from prior generations.
Time is ticking for the generations that do not support legal pot, which shrinks consistently each year. Younger conservatives—who now support legal pot—are replacing their older counterparts and pretty soon, the ballot boxes.
Download the PDF of a complete list of Gallup’s poll responses here.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said this week that the current occupant of the office is determined to get cannabis legalization over the line.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz secured a second term in Tuesday’s election, beating Republican challenger Scott Jensen 52% to 45%. That wasn’t the only good news of the night for Walz. Democrats in the state flipped the state Senate, giving the party control over the entire legislature.
Ventura, who served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, said on his podcast that Walz gave him a call on Wednesday––and shared some news that will excite legalization advocates in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
“The sticking point for cannabis in Minnesota were Republicans in the (Senate),” Ventura said, as quoted by local news station Fox 9. “Well, they lost it now, and the governor reassured me that one of the first items that will be passed — Minnesota, get ready — cannabis is going to have its prohibition lifted. That’s the news I got today.”
Ventura endorsed Walz in his re-election campaign last month, and the former governor said the incumbent reached out to thank him for his support.
Ventura also said that Walz “invited him to attend the future bill signing ceremony,” according to Fox 9.
“The thing that honors me is I’ve been invited to when the bill gets signed,” Ventura said, as quoted by the station. “The current governor, he said, ‘This started with you, so you deserve to be there and see it come to a close over 20 years later.’”
Walz has long spoken in favor of legalizing cannabis for adults in the state. In January, he and his lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, introduced a budget proposal that included marijuana legalization.
The proposal included “a tax on marijuana, a measure to expunge non-violent marijuana-related convictions, the creation of a Cannabis Management Office and resources for substance-abuse prevention and treatment,” according to the Minnesota Reformer.
Democrats in the Minnesota state House have pushed legalization measures for years.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler helped pass a legalization bill in that chamber last year.
“The failed criminalization of cannabis has resulted in a legacy of racial injustice that can no longer go unaddressed,” Winkler said in a statement following its passage in 2021. “Adults deserve the freedom to decide whether to use cannabis, and our state government should play an important role in addressing legitimate concerns around youth access, public health, and road safety. Veterans and Minnesotans with serious illnesses like PTSD deserve better access to our medical program, which is not working well for most people. It’s time to legalize, expunge, and regulate.”
Walz not only has the legislature now on his side, but polls have shown that Minnesota voters are also ready to end pot prohibition in the state.
A survey from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in September found that 53% of voters in the state support the legalization of recreational pot use, while just 36% said they were opposed to the idea.
Residents of The Show Me State approved Amendment 3 to legalize recreational cannabis on Nov. 8. The Missouri Constitution will now be amended to allow for cannabis sales, possession, consumption, delivery, and manufacturing. Additionally, it automatically allows anyone convicted of a non-violent cannabis crime or offense to be release from incarceration, or to clear their records via expungement.
The amendment will also implement a 6% tax on cannabis, which will be allocated to fund veteran healthcare, drug treatments, and the public defender system. (Local governments may implement a sales taxes of up to 3%.)
The campaign to legalize was led by Legal MO 2022, which raised $5.6 million to help make legalization a reality in Missouri. According to the campaign, projections show that annual cannabis sales revenue could reach up to $40.8 million, with local governments seeing at least $13.8 million.
Residents may also have up to six cannabis flowering plants, six non-flowering plants, and six clones (under 14 inches tall), as long as they register as a cultivator with the state. Plants are allowed as long as they are located inside a residence, or a locked space. If it’s found in public view, growers can receive up to a $250 fee, and the confiscation of their plants.
Cannabis in New York City is now legal. New York State legalized cannabis this past week, but the city that never sleeps has people excited. Some estimate the NYC cannabis industry is worth $4.2 billion, making it one of the largest cannabis markets in the world. Details of NYC Legalization New Yorkers can now possess up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes. They can also possess up to 24 grams of cannabis oil. But that’s out in public. […]
Knowing that cannabis legalization is just around the corner, one can only help but wonder, what will be the next drugs to become legal? And when will it happen? Well, weed isn’t even legal yet so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But considering we’re in a sort-of psychedelic renaissance with both policy and public opinion shifting in favor of these compounds, it’s not very off-base to assume that some of them will be more widely accessible one day. What might be next on the list? Let’s take a look.
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Possible timeline for cannabis legalization
It’s only a matter of time before cannabis is fully legalized, although sometimes it can still be difficult to picture… especially for those of us stuck living in very restrictive prohibition states (I’m looking at you, Midwest and Deep South). But exactly how long is that timeline? Some believe it could happen as early as the end of this year. As much as I would love to see that happen, I’m not sure it will be quite that soon. However, for a few different reasons, I do think we could see weed completely legalized sometime in 2023, or by early 2024 at the latest.
First, we have midterm elections coming up and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives (as well as 35 of the 100 Senate seats) will be contested, and federal cannabis legalization depends largely on who controls congress. It does seem that republicans currently have the edge, especially as voters continue to worry about inflation other economic issues, but that may not matter as we have been seeing a growing number of pro-cannabis republicans, both in office and constituents.
Next, we have a handful of states that plan on putting recreational cannabis up for a vote in November. Should they all pass – and it’s likely they will – that will put us over the tipping point with more than half of our states having passed adult-use marijuana laws. It doesn’t sound like much… only a few more states with legal pot, what’s the big deal right? Well, it has many implications for the government so it’s actually a huge deal.
If more than half the states in our country are openly defying federal law (and many more are towing the line with medical pot), that makes our government look very weak. The last thing a government wants is to look like it has no control over its people. Another thing the government is not too keen on is looking hypocritical. Despite being hypocritical nearly all the time, the more obvious that is to voters, the less trust people have in their government, and the more likely they are to rebel against it.
On October 6th, President Biden issued a sweeping, unconditional pardon for anyone who has been convicted of simple cannabis possession under federal law. While this is amazing and long overdue news, it does set a very confusing legal precedent. From this point forward, how can people continue to be arrested and charged with cannabis-related crimes that everyone else got pardoned for? It’s hypocrisy to the max, and the only possible thing this could lead to is the government eventually being buried in lawsuits.
All that said, it’s safe to say that pot will likely be legal soon. How soon exactly is up for debate, but once again, I imagine that within a year, we’ll see the changes we’ve been fighting for. And once cannabis is no longer prohibited, it will be time to push these decriminalization and legalization efforts on to new substances.
Effective dose vs lethal dose ratios
When looking up how drug prohibition works and what some of the parameters are for legalizing various compounds, a concept that came up frequently was “effective dose vs lethal dose”. This is referring to the dose it takes to get high versus the dose it takes for the drug to kill someone, and how that ratio compares to other drugs.
For example, the lethal dose to die on alcohol is only 10 times the dose needed to get drunk. Compare this with psilocybin, which has a lethal dose that is estimated to be 1,000 times higher than the effective dose, or even ketamine whose lethal dose is 38 times higher than the effective; one can easily ascertain that psychedelics – both natural and synthetic – are relatively safe.
Follow the money
Although our overlords would like to have us think that they are keeping certain substances illegal for reasons like the one I listed above, the reality is, it’s mostly related to money. The government receives a substantial amount of money from several industries that benefit from the prohibition of cannabis and psychedelics. These include oil, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, big tobacco, the for-profit prison industry, and so on.
All these industries are funneling hundreds of millions (possibly billions) of dollars to government representatives and lawmakers through political donations, lobbying, and various other types of corporate interest payments. Knowing this makes it easy to conclude that many of the laws we have in place are there to serve the best interests of the corporations that pay our government, rather than the citizens they were elected to represent.
Taking that into consideration, what can we expect as far as future drug legalization? Honestly, it’s hard to say. On one hand, we’re already seeing policy changes on a smaller scale with a growing number of cities across the country that have decriminalized different psychedelic drugs. Look at Ann Arbor, Michigan, whose city council voted unanimously to decriminalize all entheogenic plants back in September 2020. That includes ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and truffles, mescaline-containing plants (excluding peyote), ibogaine, and other plants with hallucinogenic properties that are still considered illegal under state and federal law.
Ann Arbor is probably the most progressive example, but many other cities have decriminalized at least one psychedelic compound, psilocybin being the most common. Based on that information, it’s safe to assume that recreational psychedelics legalization will follow the same path as cannabis reform.
On the other hand, it does seem unlikely that many of these drugs will be legalized for widespread adult-use… why would the government want to give us that much power over our own happiness and well-being? Yes, cannabis will be totally legal soon, but that took decades of rebellion and we’re still not quite there yet. What’s more plausible is that the government will try to legalize the majority of psychedelic compounds for pharmaceutical use only, since big pharma spends the most on political lobbying and it’s easier to get medical legalization bills passed anyway.
It’s likely that drugs such as MDMA, ketamine, and LSD will be used largely in therapeutic settings, whereas we may see more of a push at the grassroots level to decriminalize/legalize plant-based entheogens for all, since it’s harder to regulate or ban something that grows from Earth.
Public opinion on psychedelics
With so many policy changes happening on the psychedelics front, it seems pretty obvious that the general public is opening up to the idea of using them, at the very least, in therapeutic settings. In a recent poll by internet-based analytics company, YouGov, it was determined that roughly 28% of Americans have tried one or more psychedelic drugs (of the seven polled) at some point in their lives.
The largest number of people reported having tried LSD (14%), followed closely by psilocybin (13%). Next, nearly one in ten claimed to have used MDMA (9%) and mescaline (8%). A smaller but still significant number say they have used ketamine (6%), DMT (6%), and/or salvia (5%).
Interestingly enough, the study found that support for legalizing psychedelic drugs still remains low, despite how many people claim to have tried them. This is especially true among people 65 or older, religious individuals, and those living in rural areas. The people most likely to support psychedelic drug reform were those who have tried them before (naturally), people with postgraduate degrees, 30- to 44-year-olds, and people living in the western United States.
Overall, 54% of Americans do support allowing more research into psychedelic substances, particularly to use for military members and veterans suffering from PTSD – doubling down on the earlier sentiment that it’s often easier to legalize drugs in a medicinal context.
What’s on the horizon for legal drugs?
Psilocybin: A lot is going on with psilocybin at the state-level, which leads me to believe that it will be one of the first drugs to possibly be decriminalized or legalized following cannabis. For example, this November, Coloradoans will vote on the Natural Medicine Health Act (NMHA or Initiative 58), which would legalize psilocybin (as well as a handful of other entheogens) for use in approved healing centers.
Additionally, the safety profile of mushrooms is much better than most other drugs, both psychedelic and otherwise. A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacologyfound that only 0.2% of shroomers (or 19 out of 9,233) end up in emergency rooms after use, and these adverse incidents are almost exclusively psychological in nature, meaning they resolve themselves once the high wears off a bit.
Ketamine: Standard Ketamine has only received approval for use as an anesthetic, but there is a huge market for off-label use. Also, a different form of ketamine called esketamine (S-ketamine) has been legalized to use in the treatment of depression. Another type of ketamine called arketamine (R-ketamine) is currently undergoing research and will likely be approved for therapeutic use in the very near future as well. For reference, S-ketamine and R-ketamine are two halves of a whole – the whole compound being standard (or racemic) Ketamine. Individually, these compounds have similar effects and benefits as racemic Ketamine.
MDMA: Again, we’re looking at Colorado as a glimpse into the future of drug legalization, this time with MDMA. The most recent news to come out of the state is the passage of HB 1344, which essentially legalized the use and possession of MDMA by prescription only. It won’t go into effect until the federal government also legalizes it, but once that happens, Colorado has already laid the groundwork for a functioning medical MDMA program.
This is only one state, but more will follow suit. And the more states we have doing this, the more pressure it puts on the government to legalize pharmaceutical MDMA. Additionally, MDMA has proven to be quite effective at treating PTSD. The VA (Department of Veteran’s Affairs) launched clinical trials earlier this year to test its efficacy and safety, compared to the standard available treatments.
It’s hard to say exactly how soon any of this will happen; but we do know that eventually, it will. It’s inevitable. Not only are more and more studies coming out to back up the use of psychedelics in therapy, but the industry is growing before our eyes. Some of these companies are already publicly traded. If anything, this indicates that psychedelics are heading down the same path as cannabis, but at an even faster rate. In my opinion, the above three will be first up for decriminalization/legalization. What are your thoughts? Drop us a line in the comment section below!
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Canada’s Liberal Party government launched a review of the country’s legalization of cannabis on Thursday, four years after the country became the world’s second to legalize marijuana for adults. Canada legalized marijuana with the passage of the Cannabis Act in 2018, five years after Uruguay became the first country to legalize cannabis for adults in 2013.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference on Thursday that the review will help legislators and other policymakers determine if cannabis legalization is meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians.
“Through this useful, inclusive and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market. I look forward to receiving the panel’s findings,” Duclos said.
The Cannabis Act mandated that a review of cannabis legalization be conducted three years after the law was passed. The review, which is being initiated one year later than required by the legislation, is required to study the impact of cannabis legalization on Indigenous people, the cultivation of cannabis in housing complexes, and the health and cannabis use patterns of young people.
“Our government legalized cannabis to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly minors, and to displace the illegal market,” added Duclos.
Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a co-chair of the all-party cannabis caucus, said that the review can help reveal the shortcomings of the groundbreaking Cannabis Act, which made Canada the first country in the northern hemisphere to legalize recreational marijuana.
“We have been, in many ways, world leaders in advancing sensible drug policy and legalization and regulation of cannabis is an example of that,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who co-chairs the all-party cannabis caucus, at a press conference. “But we didn’t get it perfect, we didn’t get it exactly right for the first time.”
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett agreed, noting the review is designed to focus in part on the mental health implications of cannabis legalization, particularly among the young.
“Young people are at increased risk of experiencing harms from cannabis such as mental health problems, including dependence and disorders related to anxiety and depression,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett. “While a lot of progress has been made on the implementation of the Cannabis Act and its dual objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety, we need to assess the work that has been done and learn how and where to adjust to meet these goals.”
Protecting Youth and Displacing the Illicit Market
When Canada’s Liberal government passed cannabis legalization in 2018, the stated goals of the Cannabis Act included protecting the health of Canadians and displacing the country’s illicit marijuana market. The review will help officials determine how effectively the legislation is meeting those goals so far.
“We are going to displace the illicit marketplace. It’s only a matter of time and you are going to, over the next three years, five years and 10 years, see those numbers shift,” said Erskine-Smith. “The legal marketplace will be where Canadians continue to turn.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the review, saying that the comprehensive evaluation would help foster the growth of the regulated cannabis market.
“However, to effectively displace the illicit market and protect the public health and safety of all Canadians, law enforcement, businesses, industry and all levels of government will need to continue to work together,” the Canadian Chamber of Commerce National Cannabis Working Group said in a statement.
The mandated review has been expanded to include an investigation of the social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act, the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana and the effects of reform on minority communities and women. Erskine-Smith said that including the additional areas of focus in the review is responsible for the government’s failure to meet the three-year deadline specified in the legislation.
“Getting the scope of the review right was much more important than the timeline,” he said. “If we’d followed the legislation to a ‘T’ — both in relation to the three-year timeline, but also the considerations that are set out in the legislation — we would have missed a major opportunity to get this right.”
The review will be conducted by a panel of experts led by Morris Rosenberg, a former deputy minister of justice. The government has not yet named the remaining members of the review panel.
The panel will hear from members of the public, government officials, Indigenous groups, youth, cannabis industry representatives, and medical cannabis users. The panel will also hear from leaders in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement, and health care.
“I look forward to working with the panel and to providing evidence-based advice to ministers to strengthen this particularly important piece of legislation and advance public policy in this area in Canada,” Rosenberg said Thursday.
For two months, Minnesota residents have gotten a taste of legal marijuana sales. Now, a new poll shows they are ready for the real thing.
The new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 survey, which was released on Sunday, found that 53% of registered voters in the Land of 10,000 Lakes support the legalization of recreational cannabis use, while 36% of voters said they were opposed. Eleven percent of Minnesota voters said they were not sure, according to the poll.
The findings come in the shadow of a new state law that took effect in July that permitted the sale of food and drink products that contain a small amount of THC.
The new law slipped through the cracks in the state legislature, catching consumers and even some lawmakers off guard when the edibles hit shelves this past summer.
It was written by Democratic state House Rep. Heather Edelson, who said her intention was to place rules and standards on hemp-derived products that were underregulated.
“There were these products that essentially didn’t really have regulations on them. But people were consuming them,” Edelson said at the time.“They were being sold all over the state of Minnesota, and a lot of them in gas stations.”
Under the new law, food and beverages with .3% THC may be sold so long as the cannabinoid has been derived from legally produced hemp.
That cleared the way for a slew of new edibles sold in Minnesota, prompting some local governments to impose their own restrictions on the sale.
Some Republican lawmakers said they were blindsided and that they had no idea the bill would result in the sale of edibles.
“I thought we were doing a technical fix, and it winded up having a broader impact than I expected,” Republican state Sen. Jim Abeler said at the time.
The findings from the new survey, which was conducted last week, suggest that voters in Minnesota want to go even further with cannabis reform.
As Minnesota Public Radio reported, support “for legalizing cannabis cuts across age groups, voters’ geographic location, level of education, race and gender, with majorities backing the plan across those categories,” although legalization “faces greater opposition among Republicans, with just under 65% of those who identified as Republicans opposing the proposal to make cannabis available for recreational use, compared to 29% of GOP voters who support it.”
The poll was conducted September 12-14 and is based on interviews with 800 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.
The Minnesota legislature is currently split, with Democrats controlling the state House and Republicans holding a majority in the state Senate. The state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, has expressed his support for the legalization of recreational cannabis use for adults.
In his office’s budget proposal in January, Walz called on the legislature to legalize recreational pot use and establish a new Cannabis Management Office to regulate sales in the state.
The governor’s budget proposal would dedicate “25 million dollars toward the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Minnesota,” FOX9 reported.
The Cannabis Management Office would “be tasked with developing a framework for legal cannabis in Minnesota,” the station reported, and the $25 million in earmarked funds “would also pay for grants for ‘individuals entering the legal cannabis market.’”
On April 20 this year, Walz reiterated his support for the policy.
“It’s time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota,” Walz said on Twitter.
Walz is up for re-election this year. His Republican challenger, Scott Jensen, has said he is in favor of bringing the legalization question before Minnesota voters on the ballot.