Tag: Legal

Toronto’s Dispensaries and Lounges Address the City Council

Several members of Toronto’s cannabis community addressed the city council today to voice their opposition to the proposed moratorium on unlicensed dispensaries and cannabis lounges. This gathering was in response to announcements made on Sep. 8 by the Ontario Provincial Government, which stated that law enforcement will make efforts to close all unlicensed cannabis operations within one year.

The closure of these establishments will clear the way for a fully government-run system overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

abi roach toronto city council meeting

Abi Roach speaking to the Toronto City Council. Credit Colin Bambury.

Abi Roach, owner of one of the most popular cannabis lounges in the city, the Hotbox Cafe, and director of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association (CFBA), presented a thorough analysis to show the Toronto City Council that Torontonians need vapor lounges.

“The private dwelling consumption scheme the Province of Ontario is planning to roll out is simply not feasible for the City of Toronto,” Roach told the council.

Roach went on to add that 50 percent of the housing market in Toronto consists of rental units, 90 percent of which are non-smoking. These figures pose a problem for the many people who want to consume but have nowhere to do so considering public consumption will remain illegal.

“Are landlords expected to allow cannabis smoke in apartments that have no cigarette smoking rules? Will this take into consideration neighbors, roommates, and others living in close proximity to units occupied by cannabis consumers?” asked Roach.

Roach then went on to outline the “vast tourism market” that exists in Toronto, which will undoubtedly grow once legal cannabis is available. These potential marijuana customers will take advantage of Toronto’s many hotels and other accommodations, most of which are completely non-smoking and at odds with the proposed consumption rules.

“People who live in urban centers simply do not have the luxury of private, outdoor space. Our parks and streets will become consumption spaces if cannabis lounges are forced to lock their doors, not due to a lack of respect to the rule of law, but simply out of necessity,” added Roach.

Councillor Jim Karygiannis asked Roach if the federal or provincial government consulted her on the “LCBO model,” to which she replied bluntly: “Absolutely not, they don’t care.”

lisa cambell toronto city council meeting

Lisa Campbell speaking to the Toronto City Council. Credit Colin Bambury.

Next up to speak was Lisa Campbell, who is one of the founders of the Green Market, a popular craft cannabis farmers market in Ontario. Campbell was speaking on behalf of privately owned, currently unlicensed dispensaries in Toronto that serve the community by providing access to medical cannabis. These businesses are subjected to constant law enforcement due to their illegal status and scheduled to be terminated within the one-year timeline given by the government.

“The fact that the Ontario Government has decided that they would like to take our jobs and distribute cannabis is actually a sign of normalization,” said Campbell. “We are starting from a restricted framework but there’s lots of room to create diverse licensing.”

Campbell went on to talk about how the government’s proposal for a rollout of storefronts over the next few years will simply not be enough to fill consumer demand. She also stated that the municipal and provincial government has been completely unresponsive to local cannabis businesses trying to be a part of the legal framework.

“If we are not going to have private storefront dispensaries because the city has decided [along] with the province and federal government to shut us all down, in order to eliminate the black market you need to provide opportunities to integrate the existing grey market with licensing so we can be compliant,” said Campbell.

Campbell reminded the council that the unlicensed community wants to be compliant with the city and government to provide safe access but “without having conversations and engaging stakeholders meaningfully in dialogue, that’s impossible.”

Jodie Emery speaking to the Toronto City Council. Credit Colin Bambury

Jodie Emery speaking to the Toronto City Council. Credit Colin Bambury.

The incredible list of speakers who presented to the council today went on and on, including testimony from patients, dispensary owners, and activists like Jodie Emery.

In brief interviews with Marijuana.com, Roach, Campbell, and Emery all commented.

(Marijuana.com) Did city councilors listen with open ears and open minds to the issues at hand?

“I believe there were receptive Councillors who were open to our messages, especially Jim Karygiannis,” said Emery. “There were a number of very persuasive arguments and statements from speakers. The media is also paying attention, so our message is being heard even if it’s not yet being adopted by officials.”

“[Councillors]  listened to some with open ears and minds. Some topics got more attention,” said Roach on the day’s proceedings.

It was Lisa Campbell who had the most optimistic view for the future of cannabis regulation in Canada’s largest city.

“There were many powerful deputations today and councilors and civil servants were all listening,” said Campbell. “While dispensaries may remain under attack, council understands that provincial storefronts are not enough to satiate the appetite for craft cannabis in Toronto.”

Cover photo courtesy of Paul Bica

 

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Michigan Dispensaries Face Tough Decision Over New Regulations: Close or No License

Michigan marijuana businesses hoping to stay operational in the “gray area” before the state begins issuing licenses received some bad news on Tuesday.

Michigan lawmakers unveiled the new regulatory framework they hope will be the most effective method of oversight and tax revenue generation but warned current cannabis shops that staying open before the application process begins on Dec. 15 could put their chances of obtaining one of the highly-coveted licenses at risk.

The state isn’t requiring the shops to close, but Andrew Brisbo, Director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Bureau, warned shops that stay open through Dec. 15 could face a “potential impediment to licensure.”

Owners and employees of currently operational Michigan dispensaries are not the only ones who will feel the effects of these new rules, as over 218,000 medical marijuana patients in the state will now have to grow their own medicine or find a reliable caregiver in the absence of shops that must now shut down in hopes of thriving in the future marketplace.

Dispensaries were not specifically addressed in 2008 when Michigan passed medical marijuana laws — some cities and towns turn a blind eye while others outright ban the businesses activity.

Regulations developed last year for Michigan’s medical marijuana industry call for a licensing system with five tiers, including licenses to grow, process, sell, transport, and test marijuana.

The application fee for a license will cost marijuana business owners between $4,000 and $8,000. License fees for a variety of different cannabis businesses will vary between $10,000 and $57,000, though a “Class A” cultivation license fee will remain capped at $10,000 by law to ensure there remains a place in the market for small businesses to thrive.

 

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California Smells Trouble, Bans Marijuana Drone Delivery

California lawmakers are working to beat a Jan. 1 deadline for the implementation of legal marijuana, and there are some very interesting inclusions in the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s newly-released licensing program regulations for businesses.

While the legal cannabis industry is poised to create a plethora of new jobs in California, one sector that apparently won’t see much growth is marijuana delivery drivers — unless they want to get their commercial driver’s license. The newly-unveiled guidelines mandate that “cannabis goods will be required to be transported inside commercial vehicles or trailers.” The regulatory guidelines go on to include bans on marijuana delivery or transportation via “aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.”

Were drones actually delivering weed in California and I wasn’t taking full advantage of that spectacle?

Well, technically no, but there were already struggling companies such as Eaze teasing the service to cash in on some futuristic publicity. Here you go, I guess.

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In January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that over 670,000 drones had been registered with the government, which likely accounts for a fraction of the drones actually owned (or built from spare parts) and being flown everywhere. FAA Chief Administrator Michael Huerta estimates that by the year 2020, nearly seven million drones will be owned in the United States.

With the steep rise in drone availability (and affordability), businesses are chomping at the bit to start using the flying robots to their advantage. Amazon is already testing its upcoming Prime Air service that aims to deliver products purchased online to their not-so-patiently waiting customers in 30 minutes or less.

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You have an idea how popular this service would be if you’ve ever waited around on a Saturday in Orange County, California for a weed delivery. While half of Huntington Beach waits for Timmy in his Corolla to get done with his chicken nuggets and finish the rest of his route, a drone could be doing fly-by product flips around the clock.

While the ban on drone delivery for weed companies is somewhat puzzling, some of the other restrictions make total sense. Allowing cannabis to be delivered by “human-powered vehicle,” which is either a car from the “Flintstones” or a bicycle, seems dangerous for the operator, as any bike rider with a backpack may become the target of robbery attempts. California will require all marijuana deliveries to be conducted by licensed retailers, who must hand-deliver the product to the customer, so you can forget about self-driving delivery vehicles as well. Retailers will also be required by law to equip each delivery vehicle with GPS tracking capabilities.

The FAA has actually loosened the restrictions on drone flight in recent years to make it easier for businesses to incorporate the technology into their future plans, even providing exemptions to laws that require drones be flown within the line of sight of its operator — a severe hindrance to corporate adoption. The new business-friendly rules require operators to obtain a specific drone-flying certification and never fly their drone at speeds over 100 miles per hour or at elevations over 400 feet off the ground.

So, if other legal businesses can use drones to deliver their goods, why can’t the weed industry? Only reasonable explanation I can come up with is the Bubba Kush aroma may distract other pilots in the air.

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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 »