Canada to legalize weed! It’s official. The Canadian government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. It has two bills: one concerning the regulation of the industry, and another that addresses impaired driving. Those over 18-years-old can possess 30 grams of cannabis (just over one ounce) and can grow up to four plants at home. The new legislation comes down hard on selling marijuana to minors, which is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. CBC News
The new legislation relied on the recommendations of a federal task force chaired by Anne McLellan, a former Liberal deputy prime minister. McLellan is also a senior adviser at Bennett Jones LLP, which is promoting itself as the “go-to” law firm for the marijuana industry. Many of its lawyers own stakes in Supreme Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded medical marijuana company. “The dual role is drawing criticism from people inside and outside the industry, who question whether it is appropriate.” The Globe and Mail
Canada joins Uruguay on the international stage. Uruguay was the first country in the world to fully legalize adult-use. Canada will be violating international drug treaties when it introduces its legal market. Efforts to change those treaties have failed in recent years. Vox
Before legal sales can begin, provinces and territories will be left to work out the regulatory details for cannabis markets within their borders. Provinces can also set a higher age to buy legal weed. Several police forces throughout the country are currently testing screening devices that detect THC in saliva. The government is also considering plain packaging rules for the industry. The New York Times
A positive roadside saliva test would lead to collecting blood samples. Having two to five “nanograms per milliliter of THC content in the blood” would be a criminal offense punishable by fine. Having more than five nanograms per milliliter would be a “serious hybrid offense.” MassRoots But these limits are not supported by science. An AAA report from last year found that similar laws in U.S. states were “arbitrary.”
Some marijuana insiders chose to cash out before the legislation was announced. Executives at Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. sold at least $5.7 million and $8.8 million in shares, respectively. “The sales were a mix of shares insiders already held and the exercise of options. The profit taking comes as the country’s burgeoning marijuana market has ballooned in value in recent months.” Bloomberg
Sessions threatens criminal justice reforms. For years, some conservatives have been urging for criminal justice reforms, arguing that policies like mandatory minimums are a relic of the failed war on drugs. But attorney general Jeff Sessions opposed such reforms in Congress, and has signaled that he wants to return to inflexible sentencing laws and lengthy prison terms. The Huffington Post A deep dive into Sessions’ career shows what could portend at the Justice Department: “Sessions prioritized drug cases of all sizes, taking on prosecutions typically left to state authorities and often meting out long federal sentences… [His] policies helped southern Alabama establish a federal drug conviction rate that was almost four times the national average.” Mother Jones
‘We are nervous.’ Some legalization supporters and industry leaders are bracing for a crackdown. The advocacy group Americans for Safe Access is conducting “raid trainings” for cannabis businesses to prepare them for the possibility. “We do have tools that they can use to be safe if there is a federal raid and make sure that they get through that experience safely,” said the group’s director. Fox News The Colorado Senate advanced legislation that would allow recreational marijuana to be reclassified as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown. The Denver Post The Colorado House also backed off from plans to regulate marijuana clubs, saying the move “would have invited a federal crackdown.” The amendment still must pass a final vote. The Associated Press
Weed in entertainment. Last year, it seemed that cannabis was having a more mainstream moment as TV networks and streaming services picked up marijuana-themed shows. Now, several pot-themed series that were previously in development have fallen by the wayside. While HBO renewed High Maintenance, MTV canceled the Snoop Dogg-produced Mary + Jane. Variety Wiz Khalifa is launching a weed-farming mobile game on 4/20. ‘Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm’ will give players “a glimpse into the future of legalized cannabis.” A.V. Club Icelandic band Sigur Rós is teaming up with cannabis producer Lord Jones for Wild Sigurberry cannabis-infused gumdrops “inspired by the flavors of foraged Icelandic berries.” Pitchfork
‘What being a defense lawyer taught me about the war on drugs.’ Locking Up Our Own, a new book penned by a Yale law professor and former public defender, “puts a human face on the harsh realities of the drug war.” In an excerpt from the book, James Forman, Jr. details the absurd sentencing guidelines for non-violent drug offenders. One of his clients, who was busted for buying $10 worth of heroin, faced 60 years behind bars. Vice
Word on the States
- In Colorado, a new cannabis church will open its doors on 4/20. Denver officials are scrutinizing out-of-state CBD product sales. A look at a social smoking club in Denver
- In New Mexico, a state district judge ordered the health department not to penalize a dispensary over a rule violation.
- In Michigan, the state is gearing up to regulate the medical marijuana market.
- In Arkansas, the medical marijuana panel approves of regulations.
- In Nevada, a look at which marijuana bills have made the cut so far.
- In Illinois, Chicago democrats push legalization in the state legislature.
- In South Dakota, medical marijuana supporters are emboldened by legalization in North Dakota.
- In Maryland, the Black caucus issues an “ultimatum” on medical marijuana.
- In New Hampshire, a U.S. senator from the state is concerned about decriminalization.
- In Iowa, an MMJ bill faces a major roadblock in the House.
- In Florida, medical marijuana laws languish in the legislature.
- In Texas, the Dallas city council votes to decriminalize cannabis.
- In Louisiana, the New Orleans district attorney thinks decriminalization is “stupid.”
Word for Word
“There is a reason the 18th Amendment, the one outlawing liquor, was the only one ever repealed: Prohibition doesn’t work. You cannot arrest people out of wanting what is bad for them. But, as we’ve seen with liquor and tobacco, you might be able to educate, legislate and persuade them into wanting it less.” – Leonard Pitts, Jr. for the Miami Herald