Why is cannabis so expensive in some provinces?

To evaluate cannabis legalization‘s progress and success, Canadians need good information about legal product sales. Unfortunately, most provincial cannabis agencies keep results overly secret. And some publicly available estimates lack precision. One example of cannabis agency secrecy made the news last week. An investigation found cannabis oil prices vary “wildly” between provinces. Inter-provincial price differences […]

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Dem Debate: Sanders doubles down on legal weed. Bloomberg worries about the lack of science.

The Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina on Tuesday revealed fissures in how the candidates view marijuana reform, with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg doubling down on his opposition to legalization and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) facing questions about the logistics of his plan to legalize in all 50 days on the first day of his presidency.

The exchange began when a moderator asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) whether Sanders’s proposal to use executive action to legalize cannabis nationwide on the day he takes office and also expunge prior marijuana convictions was realistic.

“It is realistic to want to legalize marijuana. I want to do that too,” Klobuchar said. “I also think you need to look back at people’s records. You maybe can’t do that on day one, as he said. I think you want a process that you go through because there are too many people that have things on their records that stopped them from getting jobs.”

The senator went on to say that legalization should be coupled with investments in substance misuse treatment.

Klobuchar touched on a point that experts told Marijuana Moment in a recent analysis of Sanders’s plan. While advocates have celebrated the fact that Sanders has made cannabis reform a major part of his campaign, legal experts have questioned whether a president could unilaterally lift the prohibition of marijuana immediately, and they also pointed out that states would likely continue to enforce anti-cannabis laws regardless of a change in the plant’s status under federal law.

Bloomberg, who is one of just two candidates on the stage who opposes marijuana legalization, was then pressed on his record of characterizing cannabis as an addictive drug that has not been adequately researched. The former mayor has also recently faced criticism over a recording that recently surfaced showing him justifying racially disproportionate cannabis arrests during his time in office.

“The first thing you should do is we should not make this a criminal thing if you have a small amount. For dealers, yes. But for the average person, no,” Bloomberg said. “You should expunge the records of those that got caught up in this before. Number two, we’re not going to take it away from states that have already done it.”

But he went on to say that “you should listen to the scientists and the doctors. They say go very slowly, they haven’t done enough research and the evidence so far is worrisome. Before we get all our kids — particularly kids in their late teens, boys even more than girls — where this may be damaging their brains, until we know the science, it’s just nonsensical to push ahead,” he said.

“But the cat’s out of the bag,” he said. “Some states have it, you’re not going to take it away. Decriminalize the possession.”

Sanders then got a chance to argue that his plan is a realistic solution to ending the drug war.

“We have a criminal justice system today that is not only broken, it is racist. We’ve got more people in jail than in any other country on earth, including China. One of the reasons for that is a horrific war on drugs,” he said. “I do believe that on day one, we will change the federal Controlled Substances Act which, if you can believe it, now equates heroin with marijuana. That’s insane.”

“We’re going to take marijuana out of that and effectively legalize marijuana in every state in the country.”

“What we are also going to do is move to expunge the records of those people arrested for possession of marijuana,” the senator, who was the first major presidential candidate to call for legalization during his earlier 2016 bid, said. “And I’ll tell you what else we’re going to do. We’re going to provide help to the African American, Latino, Native American community to start businesses to sell legal marijuana rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market.”

Biden, who like Bloomberg opposes legalizing marijuana but backs more modest reforms such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records, sought to join the exchange as moderators were going to commercial. “I wrote the bill that set up drug courts,” he said, before getting cut off.

Earlier in the debate, Biden tore into businessman Tom Steyer, saying that as an investor he “bought a system that is a private prison system” that “hogtied young men in prison.”

Steyer shot back by calling out Biden’s role in shaping and passing crime policy legislation that includes harsh drug penalties.

“You wrote the crime bill,” he said, “that put hundreds of thousands of young black and Latino men in prison.”

Bloomberg also took heat over the use of stop-and-frisk policing tactics during his time as mayor.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that the policy was racist “in effect it was because it was about profiling people based on their race.”

“The mayor even said they stopped white people too often and minorities too little,” he pointed out.

“I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness,” Bloomberg said. “I’ve met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.”

Featured image: New York, NY. 02.21.2020 (Shutterstock)

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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Elizabeth Warren Might Have the Best Marijuana Legalization Plan Yet.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unveiled a plan for federal marijuana reform on Sunday, calling for legalization as well as a series of policies aimed at righting the wrongs of the drug war and promoting involvement in the legal industry by communities harmed by prohibition.

In the “Just and Equitable Cannabis Industry” plan, which Warren’s campaign shared with Marijuana Moment ahead of a town hall event in Colorado, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate slams the “racist ‘War on Drugs’ policy” perpetuated during the Nixon administration and the mass incarceration that has followed.

She also introduces noteworthy ideas, such as using her executive authority to begin the federal legalization process within 100 days of taking office, respecting the sovereignty of other nations to legalize marijuana, protecting immigrants who participate in the legal industry, empowering veterans to access medical cannabis and ensuring that corporations aren’t able to monopolize the market.

Further, the Warren plan promotes unionization in the marijuana industry, protecting Indian tribes’ authority to enact their own reform programs and lifting a current ban so that Washington, D.C. can use its local monies to implement legal marijuana sales

“Even as the federal government has held fast to its outdated marijuana policy, states have led the charge in adopting thoughtful, evidenced-based marijuana policy,” the six-page document says. “And what have we learned in the eight years since the first states legalized marijuana? Legalization works.”

The senator details the progress of the legalization movement and the economic potential of the industry, and she argues that access to cannabis has been shown to play a role in mitigating the opioid epidemic. All that said, she notes that marijuana arrests have continued to increase nationally — and they continue to be carried out on racially disproportionate basis — and so comprehensive reform at the federal level is a goal she is pledging to pursue starting day one if elected president.

“It’s not justice when we lock up kids caught with an ounce of pot, while hedge fund managers make millions off of the legal sale of marijuana. My administration will put an end to that broken system.”

“Legalizing marijuana is about more than just allowing recreational use, or the potential medicinal benefit, or the money that can be made from this new market,” the Warren plan says. “It’s about undoing a century of racist policy that disproportionately targeted Black and Latinx communities. It’s about rebuilding the communities that have suffered the most harm. And it’s about ensuring that everyone has access to the opportunities that the new cannabis market provides.”

Warren’s plan for marijuana reform.

Warren’s proposal is two-pronged. The first objective is to “address the disproportionate enforcement of our drug laws.” Here’s how she plans to accomplish that:

  1. Urge Congress to pass comprehensive marijuana legalization bill such as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which cleared the House Judiciary Committee last year. “We need full legalization, as quickly as possible,” the plan states.
  2. Should Congress not follow suit, Warren says she will use her executive powers to begin the process of descheduling marijuana within her first 100 days in office. The senator is promising to appoint heads of the Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration and Office of National Drug Control Policy who support legalization and says she will “direct those agencies to begin the process of delisting marijuana via the federal rule-making process.” Additionally, Warren is pledging to reinstate Obama-era guidance directing federal prosecutors to generally respect local cannabis laws.
  3. Expunge prior cannabis convictions. Again the candidate cites the MORE Act as an ideal vehicle for that policy change, stating that it would also “prohibit the denial of federal benefits, such as housing, because of the use or possession of, or even a past conviction for, marijuana.”
  4. Ensure that immigrants are not penalized over marijuana convictions or participation in a state-legal cannabis market. That’s “because any equitable and just cannabis economy must also include immigrant communities,” she says, slamming a Trump administration move declaring that those who use cannabis do not have the “good moral character” needed for citizenship.
  5. Encourage the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to research the therapeutic potential of cannabis for service members and allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans. She is also pledging to end a current policy that blocks veterans from getting home loans “for no reason other than being employed in their state’s legal marijuana industry” — an issue she recently filed Senate legislation on.
  6. Deschedule cannabis to promote “serious research into the potential benefits and drawbacks of medical marijuana [that’s been] largely blocked by outdated federal laws and policies”and allocate funds for such studies.
  7. Lift the appropriations ban that prohibits Washington, D.C. from using its local tax dollars to implement a regulated cannabis market. While there’s been widespread interest in removing the congressional rider at issue, eliminating the policy hasn’t received much attention on the presidential stage until now. Warren says she will “encourage the District to develop a legal market that includes impacted communities and fulfills the racial justice goals of the original referendum” that voters approved in 2014.
  8. Warren says she will “streamline and remove unnecessary administrative barriers that impede economic growth on Tribal lands, respect tribal jurisdiction over tribal businesses, and promote forward-looking efforts to ensure full access to new and emerging economic opportunities, including in the cannabis industry.
  9. Respect the sovereignty of other nations that opt to legalize marijuana. The senator promises she will “support the legalization of marijuana in any nation that wishes to do so and fully support our neighbors exercising their sovereignty when it comes to their internal drug policy.” She further says that U.S. officials need to “recognize the role our War on Drugs has had in destabilizing Latin America – a root cause of migration to the United States.”

Warren’s second broad objective as described in the plan is to “prioritize opportunities in the cannabis industry for communities of color and others who were harmed by the failed policies of the past.” That will involve:

  1. Working to support unions, including those representing cannabis workers, to enhance collective bargaining rights. “As president, I will safeguard the organizing rights of working people and make it easier for unions to secure contracts and assert their rights in the cannabis industry,” Warren says. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), another 2020 candidate, also raised this issue last month, imploring employees at a major marijuana business in Illinois to vote in favor of unionization.
  2. Freeing up banks and financial institutions to service cannabis businesses. Additionally, Warren says she will direct her administration “to investigate discrimination in cannabis-related capital lending that prevents many aspiring entrepreneurs of color from securing needed loans.”
  3. Promoting participation in the legal industry by minorities and women — something that Warren says the MORE Act would accomplish. She also says she would “mitigate the high permitting and licensing fees that prevent many aspiring entrepreneurs of color from starting a cannabis business.”
  4. Preventing large corporations from overtaking the marijuana industry and working to “protect consumers by closely regulating the safety and marketing of marijuana products.” Like Sanders, Warren points specifically at tobacco companies as examples of businesses that shouldn’t be able to enter the market. “We’ll make sure Big Tobacco can’t muscle in on the fledgling marijuana industry,” she says, adding that her administration will “use anti-trust laws and federal oversight to prevent consolidation in the cannabis industry that drives up prices, restricts new businesses from entering the markets, and lowers quality.”
  5. Allowing individuals with prior drug convictions to participate in the marijuana and hemp industries. “I will remove collateral sanctions associated with federal convictions for activity that is no longer criminalized and encourage states to do the same,” the senator says.

“For four decades, we’ve subscribed to a ‘War on Drugs’ theory of crime, which has criminalized addiction, ripped apart families — and failed to curb drug use,” the plan states. “Legalizing marijuana and erasing past convictions won’t fully end the War on Drugs or address its painful legacy, but it’s a needed step in the right direction.”

“As we move to harness the economic potential of a legalized cannabis industry, we must ensure that the communities that were harmed by the War on Drugs — disproportionately communities of color — are fully included in the opportunity and prosperity that legalization will create. I support investing federal and state revenue from the cannabis industry into communities that have been disproportionately impacted by enforcement of our existing marijuana laws.

“Legalizing marijuana gives us an opportunity to repair some of the damage caused by our current criminal justice system, to invest in the communities that have suffered the most harm, and to ensure that everyone can participate in the growing cannabis industry. We have an opportunity now to get this right, and I’ll fight to make that happen.”

Warren also calls out former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in her proposal, stating that the country “cannot allow affluent and predominantly white hedge-funders and capital investors to hoard the profits from the same behavior that led to the incarceration of generations of Black and Latino youth.”

“Boehner, who declared that he was ‘unalterably opposed’ to legalization while in Congress, now profits handsomely as a lobbyist for legalization even as others continue to live with the consequences of a prohibition he defended,” she points out, referencing the former speaker’s role as a board member at the cannabis firm Acreage Holdings.

While Warren’s plan repeatedly cites the need to broadly address the harms of the broader drug war, her proposals are exclusively focused on cannabis policy changes. While she and Sanders have been strong champions of marijuana reform, drug policy advocates have emphasized the need to expand reform to other illicit substances, as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have by proposing decriminalization and legalization of all illegal drugs, respectively.

In terms of her marijuana reform agenda, however, experts who spoke to Marijuana Moment recently have indicated that Warren’s 100-day plan would probably be legally and practically more realistic that Sanders’s most recent proposal to use an executive order to legalize marijuana in all 50 states on day one of his presidency.

While Sanders initially proposed something similar to Warren — appointing key officials within his administration who would pursue legalization during his first 100 days in office — he shifted gears last month and pledged to deschedule cannabis on his first day in the White House.

Last year, Warren laid out a criminal justice reform plan that called for marijuana reform, as well as the legalization of safe injection sites where individuals could use illicit substances under medical supervision — a move also backed by Sanders.

Warren and Sanders might have differing approaches to marijuana legalization, but what’s clear is they stand in stark contrast to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom are the only contenders in the Democratic race who remain opposed to ending cannabis prohibition.

Featured image from Shutterstock. 

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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Cronos Group delaying release of its latest financial results

TORONTO — Cronos Group Inc. is delaying the release of its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. The cannabis company says it has had a delay in the completion of its financial statements. It did not further explain the cause of the postponement, leaving investors and analysts worried. Cronos had been scheduled to release its results […]

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Trees Cannabis director: $1.5 million penalty for illicit cannabis sale

Well, the hammer has finally dropped. Alex Robb, the director, and general manager of Trees Cannabis has been issued a notice of administrative monetary penalty (NAMP), by the province’s nascent Community Safety Unit (CSU), for $1.5 million, for the sale of illicit cannabis. The fine, issued on January 20, marks the first known penalty levied […]

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Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to sell cannabis at 14 more outlets

HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation plans to sell cannabis at 14 more of its outlets within the next year — more than doubling the number of places to buy pot across the province. Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey announced Friday that renovations will begin as soon as possible, with some of […]

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Supreme Cannabis layoffs: A deeper look

The Supreme Cannabis Company (TSX:FIRE) became the latest Canadian cannabis producer to announce layoffs Tuesday – an epidemic of cost cutting measures spreading across an industrial environment full of well-backed cultivators who have all struggled to turn a profit. By Supreme Cannabis’ own count, they laid off 33% of their corporate staff and 13% of […]

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The Supreme Cannabis Company cuts about 15% of its workforce, adopts new structure

TORONTO — The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. says it has cut about 15 per cent of its workforce. The Toronto-based Supreme cannabis says it slashed about one-third of its corporate positions and 13 per cent of operational ones. The move comes as the company adopts a new structure aimed to accelerate revenue growth in Canada. Supreme’s […]

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Legal dabbable extracts – Why misconstrued potency shortfalls cannabis customers

Although dried cannabis flower became available back in 2018 with federal legalization, consumers were forced to wait over a year for the release of any vaping products. Over the past month, vape pens have slowly begun to hit the market, but in contrast, there is still little to no dabbable extracts for sale legally – […]

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Nepal lawmakers seek to legalize growing, using marijuana

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Ruling party lawmakers have proposed legalizing marijuana in Nepal, where it has been used for generations and was famed during the counterculture ’60s. Forty-six members of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal filed the proposal in Parliament to legalize the production and use of marijuana, party lawmaker Birod Khatiwada said Monday. He […]

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