Canada plans to pardon past pot possession convictions. There are worries about a lack of weed on the newly legal marijuana market. A former Canadian Army captain who fought alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan has been jailed for 75 days due to a decades-old Canadian cannabis conviction (that has already been pardoned). Also: A former Canadian prime minister is joining the board of an American cannabis company. 🍁
Canada to pardon past pot convictions. It’s the first day of legal weed in Canada, and the federal government is moving to pardon Canadians with cannabis possession convictions. Bill Blair, the government’s point person on cannabis, said that they had been waiting for legalization before announcing next steps. The Toronto Star The government intends to grant pardons and not record expungement or amnesty to individuals who were convicted of possessing 30 grams or less of cannabis. The 30-gram limit is the amount that Canadians are allowed to possess under the new legalization law. CTV News The public safety minister said that legislation is coming. It’s still unclear what the pardon process will be. BuzzFeed News
The man who made history. Ian Power, a 46-year-old Newfoundland man, made the first legal pot purchase at a cannabis shop in St. John’s. “I’m having a plaque made with the date and time and everything. This is never actually going to be smoked. I’m going to keep it forever,” said Power, who is excited for the stigma against cannabis consumers to change. “A lot of things first happen on the mainland … but to have it happen in St. John’s? That’s epic.” CTV News But getting legal weed still isn’t going to be that easy. “Already there are worries about a shortage of legal cannabis for sale in the early months of legalization and a lack of retail outlets, leading to a possible boom in the illicit marijuana trade the new law is designed to thwart.” The Washington Post Cannabis producers say the new government excise stamps are holding them up. “Among the issues were that the stamps arrived late, that they didn’t fit certain producers’ package sizes and that they had to be manually glued…” Financial Post
Businesses are (somewhat) ready. A Wall Street analyst predicts huge growth thanks to the country’s move to legalize marijuana. “The new view lands as the legal cannabis industry continues to log record rates of growth,” combined with interest from mainstream brands and large capital raises. Marijuana Business Daily But despite all the hullabaloo, the shares of publicly traded cannabis companies were down during premarket trading on Wednesday. “Cannabis company stocks did not receive a lift from Canada’s legalization. Shares of Tilray were down 6 percent, while those of Canopy had fallen 7 percent.” In the long-term, investors are betting that new markets will open up with policy changes. The New York Times Delivery companies say they’re ready to handle the influx of “high-value, age-restricted parcels.” Global News
What Canadians are saying… Ross Rebagliati, the Olympic snowboard gold medalist, is advocating for the World Anti-Doping Agency to remove cannabis from its list of banned drugs. Rebagliati’s gold medal was taken away from him when he tested positive for traces of cannabis, but it was reinstated because marijuana was not on the list of banned substances at the time. “If athletes are allowed to consume alcohol and tobacco let them have weed. It is the only thing that is good for you of those three things,” he said. Reuters Cannabis advocate and icon Tommy Chong recounted smoking pot for the first time at a downtown Calgary jazz club in the late ’50s. While he had hoped to return to Calgary to partake in its first legal marijuana sales, the actor and comedian said he has lost his passport. Calgary Herald
Meanwhile, just south of the border… U.S. rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) said Congress is in talks with the Department of Homeland Security to address marijuana issues at the U.S.-Canada border. “Congress could see a vote on a new law aimed at tackling Canada-U.S. border complications posed by the legalization of cannabis in Canada after next month’s midterm elections.” “I’m hoping that [DHS] come[s] up with some suggestive legislative language. Otherwise, we’ll run with our own,” said Correa. CBC News Such a bill is sorely needed for Canadians that have run into trouble with U.S. authorities. A former Canadian army captain has been jailed for 75 days due to a decades-old cannabis conviction in Canada for which he has already been pardoned. Demetry Furman was trying to get a green card after marrying his American wife, who has previously served in the U.S. military. Cynthia Furman said her husband has been transferred from jail to jail — now, she has no idea where he is being detained. Demetry was an artillery captain who fought alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Globe and Mail 🔒
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Help a Reefer Dad. Longtime cannabis activist Rick Cusick is suffering from health issues and needs a liver transplant. “The infamous donor list… may not welcome a person with my personal history. I haven’t drank alcohol in 34 years and never smoked cigarettes, but my public lifestyle might kick me down the list,” he writes on his GoFundMe campaign. Cusick has raised more than $11,600 of his $15,000 fundraising goal so far. GoFundMe
Legalization efforts in the U.S. U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has come up with a plan for Democrats to lead on marijuana reform after the midterms. His plan depends on the “blue wave” taking back the House in November. Despite widespread public support for the issue, Democratic leaders in Congress have been less enthusiastic about cannabis reform. Forbes The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received more than 2,100 comments from the public on international marijuana laws. While most of the published comments support marijuana reform, there were some detractors as well. Marijuana Moment
Opportunities for journalists on the cannabis beat. Word on the Tree’s editor talked to journalism trade publication Poynter about covering the cannabis beat. “‘For cannabis publications, there can sometimes be a lack of journalistic ethics.’ Conversely, she pointed out that for mainstream publications, there is still a habit of quoting substance abuse experts, or law enforcement officials. ‘There’s this idea that they still need something negative for balance.'” She heartily agrees with fellow cannabis journalist and weed newsletterer Alex Halperin, who encouraged journalists to join the beat: “I would just say, come do it! It is a drug and has goofy elements, but it’s a real industry. There are so many great stories.” Poynter
U.S. cannabis company snags former Canadian PM. Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining an American cannabis company’s board of directors. Acreage Holdings says the move will be official next month, when the company plans to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange. Mulroney will “join other prominent former U.S. politicians in the board of Acreage, including former House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, and former Massachusetts governor William Weld.” Ottawa Citizen
Elsewhere around the world… The U.K. government is moving towards allowing medical cannabis. But Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in addiction at the University of York, warns that the move could create false hope for patients. GPs could be inundated with requests for the drug, even though they are not authorized to prescribe it. Patients could face lengthy wait times as they seek a specialist who is authorized to prescribe medical cannabis. BMJ A lawmaker in Thailand says that an overwhelming number of people support decriminalizing marijuana and researching medical cannabis. Assemblymen plan to hold another public hearing on the issue this month. Thai PBS World
On drug prohibition. An investigation into MDMA overdose cases in the U.K. “found a trail of ruined lives and unjust treatment, where sharing drugs with friends can turn teenagers into heartless ‘death dealers’, regardless of whether they intended to cause harm or could easily have died themselves.” Vice Professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College David Nutt penned an op-ed urging countries to re-evaluate the UN approach to drug control. “Let logic and evidence prevail!” he writes. Hear hear! ScienceNordic
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, regulators are expected to award final licenses to cannabis testing labs this week. Springfield’s city council took its first steps towards regulating adult-use marijuana businesses.
- In New York, Albany’s D.A. described the drug war as a failure and expects it to take a year or two for the state to legalize recreational marijuana. Five former NYC probation commissioners call for an end to marijuana testing of those on probation and parole.
- In Utah, the medical marijuana legalization initiative lost ground among voters, but still has a slight majority of support according to polls. Federal prosecutors indicted three Utahans for using black-market marijuana proceeds to fund other businesses.
- In North Dakota, opponents to the legalization initiative have raised more money than supporters.
- In Michigan, the governor signed a bill to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic drinks.
- In Rhode Island, regulators approved a petition to allow medical marijuana for children with autism.
- In Louisiana, the state’s first crop of medical marijuana is being harvested but regulatory hurdles are hampering patient access.
- In Arkansas, cannabis regulators met with a consulting group to discuss scoring applications.
- In Pennsylvania, local police are auctioning off a former marijuana grow house and will use the proceeds to fight the drug war.
Word for Word
“As a cynical harbinger of the harms inherent in a capitalist society, particularly toward the already under-resourced, I fear MDMA’s arrival as a prescription medicine for PTSD will simply be as the most glowing product in the growing cottage industry for trauma treatment that only the rich and comfortable can access. I worry that we have no real plan of ensuring that it is available and accessible to the people that in many ways, need it the most… Even a seemingly powerful unique treatment like MDMA therapy won’t reach its potential if we don’t ensure that all people who need it can access it.” – Kevin Franciotti for Slate