Tag: Law & Politics

How to Combat a Government-Controlled Cannabis Monopoly

In early September, Ontario was the first of the Canadian provinces to announce its plans for a marijuana retail framework. To the chagrin of the unlicensed cannabis community, the government decided that a provincially-controlled system would be the best option.

Since that announcement, many participants in the Canadian marijuana industry have asked if there’s anything that can be done to allow for a private retail sector in Canada’s largest province.

Toronto Member of City Council Jim Karygiannis has been the most vocal supporter within government for a privately-owned dispensary retail option. He has also been highly critical of law enforcement, who are working to shut down unlicensed dispensaries at all costs.

“The City of Toronto is the largest municipality in Canada and should have taken the lead [on dispensary regulation]. We failed to listen to community stakeholders,” said Karygiannis in an interview with Marijuana.com. “We should have engaged the community, the medical marijuana users, the recreational users, and the dispensary [owners].”

Karygiannis added that the proper way to have gone about the process would have been to speak to the aforementioned groups and then take that information to the provincial government for review. He sees this as a necessary step because of the lack of connection the provincial and federal governments have with local communities on cannabis.

“[The provincial and federal governments]  don’t know the people on the ground. They don’t know the communities on the ground as well as the municipal governments do.”

The Councillor went on to say that the problem goes beyond a lack of communication with local citizens and the unlicensed cannabis community. By not trying to work with dispensaries, governments needlessly spend taxpayer dollars.

“We have a bylaw enforcement unit that goes around just shutting down cannabis dispensaries,” he said. “We’re wasting taxpayers’ money by having the enforcement unit, we are wasting taxpayers money by having the police go after [them,]  and we are also wasting money by taking these people to court. We should have done what happened out in Vancouver, we should have licensed the dispensaries.”

Karygiannis is also a vocal critic of the retail distribution model announced by the Ontario provincial government. He was quick to point out the downsides to not having dedicated staff from the cannabis community selling product at licensed dispensaries. Some of the issues he outlined include a lack of competition in the LCBO model, as well as the exorbitant tax and upcharges Karygiannis expects will happen in a government-run atmosphere.

“People who work in dispensaries are recreational and medical users. These people have the know-how to tell the [customers] this is the strain you should be buying.”

If the community would like to voice their opinions and try to mitigate the effects of a government-controlled monopoly on cannabis, what should they do?

“Any government decision can be persuaded to change, public opinion can shift. Folks should engage their MPPs (Members of Provincial Parliament), engage their municipal representatives, and say this is unfair and we want to change this.”

Karygiannis also suggested that the existing cannabis community should call their MPP and schedule a meeting with them. “Don’t have the discussion over the phone, go in person if you can.”

The legalization of adult-use cannabis is still nine months away. If a government monopoly on cannabis sales does not seem like a palatable option, contacting a member of provincial parliament is as easy as picking up the phone.

Photo courtesy of Exile on Ontario St

 

Start a Marijuana Business Today: CertificationClinics.com™ offers a comprehensive business model for recommending Medical Marijuana Certifications and/or Dispensary Ownership in your area. The CertificationClinics.com™ Business Support staff will educate you in every of the growing medical marijuana industry, providing you a fully operational and profitable enterprise. Learn More »

Minnesota Health Officials Debate Adding Autism, Nausea, and Dementia to List of Qualifying Conditions

Minnesota’s medical marijuana law was first passed in 2014, enacted in 2015, and revised to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2016. Still a work in progress, officials within the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will debate the expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program today – Tuesday, Oct. 10 – at the State Office Building in St. Paul Minnesota at 1 p.m.

Autism, nausea, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, and a host of other medical conditions will be considered as qualifying ailments by the MDH at today’s meeting.

Minnesota’s Active Cannabis Patients by Condition

Percentage of Minnesota medical cannabis patients by ailment

Percentage of Minnesota medical cannabis patients by medical condition

One of the more tightly regulated medical marijuana programs in the country, Minnesota’s current list of qualifying illnesses is limited to these 11 conditions:

  •      Cancer/wasting syndrome
  •      Glaucoma
  •      HIV/AIDS
  •      Tourette Syndrome
  •      ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
  •      Epilepsy
  •      Multiple Sclerosis, muscle spasms
  •      Crohn’s disease/inflammatory bowels
  •      Terminal Illness – life expectancy of less than one year
  •      Intractable pain
  •      Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Patient Base Grows

Minnesota grows "Active" patient base

Minnesota grows “active” patient base

Minnesota’s newly proposed expansion of qualifying conditions is anticipated to help cultivate a larger patient base for the state’s anemic program. According to the MDH, “as of September 28, 2017, there were 7,022 patients actively enrolled in the patient registry, an increase of 4,216 from the 2,806 enrolled on September 29, 2016.”

Those interested in helping add a “qualifying condition” to Minnesota’s list can petition the department of health on an annual basis – between June 1 and July 31. During that window of opportunity, the MDH accepts petitions for inclusion from the public.

 

Start a Marijuana Business Today: CertificationClinics.com™ offers a comprehensive business model for recommending Medical Marijuana Certifications and/or Dispensary Ownership in your area. The CertificationClinics.com™ Business Support staff will educate you in every of the growing medical marijuana industry, providing you a fully operational and profitable enterprise. Learn More »

Richard Branson: North America’s Opioid Crisis Calls for “Pragmatism” Over “Ideology”

Sir Richard Branson, the astute billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, is pleading for “pragmatism” over “ideology” in combating the scourge of North America – opioid addiction.

Branson, an entrepreneur and an advocate for social issues, is also a commissioner on the Global Commission on Drug Policy. A leader who employs more than 100,000 people and oversees the operation of more than 400 companies, Commissioner Richard is calling for sweeping policy reform in Canada and the United States.

A position paper by the 2017 Global Commission on Drug Policy titled “The Opioid Crisis in North America” encourages the decriminalization of illicit narcotics and the abolishment of all penalties – both civil and criminal –  for individuals who use recreational drugs.

Branson and the commission have also called for “the elimination of illicit drug markets by carefully regulating different drugs according to their potential harms.”

The commission’s position paper noted, “the most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation.”

As such, Branson and the commission have rolled out several policy recommendations:

  • Legally regulate the medical use of marijuana.
  • Stop the criminalization and incarceration of recreational drug users in Canada and the United States.
  • Eliminate and bypass criminal organizations by allowing pilot programs that create a legal regulation of currently illicit drugs.
  • Make proven harm reduction measures and treatment facilities widely available: Naloxone, low threshold opioid substitution therapy, heroin-assisted treatments, needle and syringe programs, and supervised injection facilities.
  • The de facto decriminalization of personal drug use at the municipal, city or state levels.
  • Increased research in critical areas including treatments for addiction to prescribed opioids and the psychological and socioeconomic links to opioid addiction.
  • Research the role played by fentanyl and its derivatives in opioid overdoses.

Defined by the 2017 Global Commission on Drug Policy, the “ad hoc Position Paper” underscores the fact that several studies have identified medical marijuana as an effectual substitute “for some opioid use.” And per the commission’s report, at least one study identified “states with medical marijuana access have 25% lower opioid addiction and overdose rates.”

64,000 Americans overdosed on opioids in 2016

America’s opioid overdose rate skyrockets

A beacon of hope for North America’s ostracized addicts, the report’s scientific notations identified another study that found doctors in medical marijuana states write 1,800 fewer opioid prescriptions annually. The commission’s suggested alternatives to combat North America’s destructive war on drugs would scale-back prejudicial law enforcement in communities of color and dramatically reduce America’s current overdose rate of 64,000 individuals annually.

Photo courtesy of Thierry Ehrmann

 

Start a Marijuana Business Today: CertificationClinics.com™ offers a comprehensive business model for recommending Medical Marijuana Certifications and/or Dispensary Ownership in your area. The CertificationClinics.com™ Business Support staff will educate you in every of the growing medical marijuana industry, providing you a fully operational and profitable enterprise. Learn More »