Canadian and Ontario politics are badly in need of some new voices; it has become painfully clear that if we really want real change, we need to stop voting for the candidate we think might win and start voting for the candidate who will best represent us. After all, if we don’t start voting for what we want, we’ll never get it!
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We need Green voices at the table, not just for today, but into the future. The Green Party is a grassroots party operating on a minimal budget; with your help we can run more robust campaigns, and elect more Greens!
“Between 2008 and 2011, according to the Department of Justice, Canada spent $311 million targeting illicit drugs, with a majority of that money going to law enforcement. Most of that was for the ‘war’ against cannabis (marijuana). Marijuana prohibition is also prohibitively costly in other ways, including criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime. Cannabis prohibition, which has gone on for decades, has utterly failed and has not led to reduced drug use in Canada.
“After analyzing the recommendation of the Canadian Senate’s 2002 Special Committee on Drugs and the examples of strategies used by some European countries, the Green Party of Canada has come to the conclusion that it is time to legalize the adult use of marijuana. Furthermore, the Greens believe that drug addictions should be treated as a health problem, not as criminal offences.
“Green Party MPs will:
Legalize marijuana by removing marijuana from the drug schedule;
Create a regulatory framework for the safe production of marijuana by small, independent growers;
Develop a taxation rate for marijuana similar to that of tobacco;
Establish the sale of marijuana to adults for medicinal or personal use through licensed distribution outlets;
Educate the public about the health threats of marijuana, tobacco, and other drug use;
Launch a public consultation on the decriminalization of illicit drugs, considering the current high costs of the law enforcement effort;
Provide increased funding to safe injection sites, treatment facilities, and addict rehabilitation.
Like the Green party, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.promised Legalization, although not in quite the same way :
“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
“Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.
“To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
“We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.
“We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.”
On November 21st, 2017 the Health Canada branch of the Justin Trudeau Government began a public consultation that will be open until January 19th, 2018. One might think the Government would undertake its public consultation before actually drafting legislation. A cynical citizen might suspect such a backward agenda might indicate the consultation was purely for show. An optimistic Canadian might think better late than never.
To legalize marijuana sales in Ontario, the GPO supports:
✅ Regulating and licensing small businesses and dispensaries to sell marijuana in a safe and controlled way
✅ Ensuring tax revenues from marijuana sales are used to fund education, mental health and addiction programs
✅ Creating more local jobs and boosting prosperity by supporting small businesses
But the Green Party is not in charge.
Canadian Cannabis Crackdown
Because cannabis was illegal before any sort of scientific testing was done, there has been precious little modern scientific study of the substance. What little study there has been suggests negative effects of cannabis are less harmful than many other substances that can be purchased openly and legally by anyone. Like aspirin. People can kill themselves with aspirin. But it is physically impossible for anyone to kill themselves with cannabis.
The worst health risks with cannabis centre around the fact that it is most often smoked in combination with tobacco, and we now know tobacco is hazardous to our health. And yet the Canadian Government only allowed patients access to edibles after another Supreme Court challenge.
“We believe, however, that the continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than does the substance itself or the regulated marketing of the substance. In addition, we believe that the continued criminalization of cannabis undermines the fundamental values set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and confirmed in the history of a country based on diversity and tolerance.”
— Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (2002) REPORT OF THE SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ILLEGAL DRUGS
And yet the Canadian Government promising cannabis legalization has increased it’s war on cannabis even more. They are cracking down on cannabis at a frantic pace in the lead up to legalization.
This is not right.
“I see legalizing [marijuana] or putting it in shops as trying to normalize narcotics, when the truth is there is nothing normal about it. It’s a mind-altering drug that causes impairments and like cigarettes is not healthy.”
Fantino says he understands the enticement of marijuana. It’s a new cash frontier where many people, including many former police officers and politicians, could get in on the ground floor. This helps explain why the marijuana lobby is so opposed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Trudeau might be their best chance to move this fight forward. With Harper, it’s dead.
“There’s a lot of money in it,” Fantino said. “Big money.”
He said he was offered “to fall in with a company” that wanted to pay him very well to simply lend his name to it.
Jerry Habuda, board of PUF Ventures
— Former Toronto Police officer, spent a large part of his career investigating drug crimes, including undercover work, surveillance, patrol at a community housing project, investigating those on bail for drug crimes PUF:Canadian Sec Stock Quote – PUF Ventures Inc
Joe Perino, board of PUF Ventures
— Former Toronto Police officer, 30-year veteran of the service who worked on the force’s drug investigations unit
Sandy Pratt, Chief Financial Officer, Emerald Health
— Worked at Deloitte (auditing firm involved in the senate scandal), Vice President of Business Development and Executive Financial Officer of the Royal British Columbia Museum, a Crown corporation About Emerald Health Botanicals
George Smitherman, THC BioMed, Alta Vista Ventures
— Former Ontario Liberal deputy premier; 30+ years public policy fields at Municipal, Provincial, Federal Level; Senior Advisor, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and Ontario’s Minister of Health How public officials got into the weed game
Ernie Eves, Chairman, Timeless Herbal Care (a Jamaican medical marijuana company)
— Former Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario, and
December 6th, 1917 was the day thousands of people died, and thousands more were injured in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Halifax Explosionwas the largest explosion the world had ever seen before the nuclear age. Today is the hundredth anniversary of that horrific event. But bad as it was, it was an accident.
The same can not be said for the tragic event of December 6th, 1989.
A disturbed young man deliberately murdered Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz at the École Polytechnique.
Because they were women.
I chose to use the roses because they were part of a candlelight vigil in on December 6th, 2016 in Chilliwack, BC. People across Canada continue to share in this sorrow.
Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.
Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.
Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.
The war on drugs put an end to medicinal cannabis in Canada..
But pain management has always been critically important for the quality of life of many who have suffered injury or chronic illness.
Although Canadians can access a wide variety of drugs through a doctor’s prescription, there are many variables. When it comes to medicine, one size does not fit all:
what works for some patients doesn’t work for others.
long term use can decrease the effectiveness of pain killers, and
addiction and other side effects can reduce a patient’s quality of life.
Even as the emerging 20th Century pharmaceutical industry exploded into a rainbow of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, analgesics and the like, not every patient or disease is adequately served by prescription medicines.
And so, illegal or not, in the latter part of the 20th Century, growing numbers of Canadians sought pain relief from cannabis.
“Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need.
“Compassion clubs exist to provide medical marijuana to people in need, but not all their members are licensed by Health Canada. While the clubs usually have their own strict guidelines for membership and providing cannabis—for chronic conditions, most clubs require a doctor’s note confirming a patient’s condition; for some conditions, a doctor’s prescription may be required—this does not make unlicensed members’ use legal. So, fear of prosecution is still a concern.
“Compassion club operations, in fact, are illegal under Canadian law.”
One day before the expiration of the court ordered time limit (July 30, 2001) the government implemented the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) (PDF). The MMAR created a framework that allowed (only) patients suffering from designated severe and extreme conditions to go through a lengthy and complicated application process that might result in a government license allowing them to possess and use marijuana legally.
Worse, the regulations failed to provide patients with any way to actually obtain a legal cannabis supply. This serious deficiency resulted in a succession of court challenges that eventually resulted in amendments that allowed patients to:
purchase dried marijuana from a single government supplier, or
grow their own, or
select a grower to grow cannabis for them
Many patients found the quality of theHealth Canada’s cannabis to be inferiorto cannabis available through Compassion Clubs or even the black market. The nonprofit BC Compassion Club (BCCCS) was founded in 1997, and has built a good reputation using knowledge and expertise to help patients find the best strain to address their health needs.
“Most of the harm associated with cannabis is actually due to the act of combusting,” notes [Jay Leung,communications coordinator for the BCCCS]. He adds that BCCCS has vaporizers for their clients to use, which produce the same effects as smoking without the health risks. The club also provides non-smoking options such as cannabis-infused oils and butter, tinctures (cannabinoids are extracted into an alcohol or glycerine base, then dropped or sprayed orally) and a variety of baked goods. And the dispensary sells items such as the vaporizers, forest-friendly rolling papers, glass pipes and more, which help members consume cannabis safely and effectively.”
When police found large amounts of cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in the apartment of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. At the time, Canadian Law only allowed patients to consume Medical Marijuana by smoking it in dried form in spite of numerous studies about the health risks associated with smoking.
In 2014 the Harper Government changed the regulations, replacing the MMAR with Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) on April 1st, 2014. The new regulations prohibited patients from growing their own, instead, they were required to purchase their supply of medicine from licensed commercial growers.
The 2015 federal election gave the Justin Trudeau Liberals a “majority” government with a mandate to legalize cannabis in Canada. The new government placed the legalization file in the hands of rookie MP Bill Blair, better known as Toronto’s top cop during the infamous Toronto G20. Understandably cannabis activists have not been reassured by this choice.
Given that Cannabis was criminalized here without anything resembling scientific evidence, debate, or even any need for such a policy in 1923, Canada has undertaken little or no legitimate scientific study of the prohibited plant. As a result, the scarcity of official empirical evidence frees opponents of legalization to make unfounded and often ridiculous claims in support of their own preconceived notions.
Frightening tales without any basis in fact repeated over and over during the decades of Cannabis Prohibition are blindly accepted by some. Sometimes even counsellors tell “friend-of-a-friend” stories— urban legends—about people dying from eating pot brownies.
There have even been cases like the one where a professional pathologist imagined someone died from smoking a joint. The reality is that there’s no evidence cannabis use has ever killed anyone. On the contrary, the evidence we do have indicates such a thing is not possible.
“7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.
“8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.
“9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”
Former sources of information once considered to be an authority in substance use are being questioned with good reason: “Reefer Madness” has taken on new forms to serve corporate special interests. As legalization approaches, the need for credible education is desperate.
In spite of promises of legalization by July 2018, heavy handed law enforcement crack downs on grey market dispensaries are justified by the government because Cannabis is still illegal.
But the “offense of compassion” committed by medical marijuana dispensaries’ clearly has public support. Justices tasked with sentencing the owners of these facilities are giving absolute discharges.
Producers Licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulationshave been recalling product mailed to patients. It’s the users who are suffering most. Unsurprisingly people seeking access through medical marijuana dispensaries are being pushed back into the black market. What is the point of that?
Grey market dispensaries, like the Toronto Compassion Club, have been managing physician prescribed access to medical marijuana since 1997. The majority of public safety concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the values which created these grey markets in the first place.
Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, told VICE she’s hoping there will be a constructive conversation about regulating recreational versus medical dispensaries instead of having knee-jerk policies put in place. NormlCanada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic.
The City of Kitchener has not been very responsive to those seeking permits to offer safe access to cannabis, or lounges for consumption. Dispensaries that had been operating within the region were threatened with fines. Some closed their doors, while others continued to supply patients until they were raided.
ACCA believes that craft cannabis, like craft beer, has a place in the market; their primary goal is to educate the public, which includes the acknowledgement there is good and bad everywhere.
“Everyone wants it (a lounge), but no one wants their name on it.”
— Tony Millar
Court decisions continue to uphold patient rights, while the the Minister of Health claims the government needs more time to work on designing an appropriate regulatory system to develop and implement regulations. ACCA acknowledges information provided by Health Canada is updated regularly, and cite current publications in order to maintain credibility.
Professor David Hammondat the University of Waterloo, has been a great resource for ACCA, with his graduate and student supervision. Hammond, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, focuses his research on chronic disease prevention and global health in the areas of tobacco control policy, health diets and obesity prevention, as well as harm reduction and drug policy. Professor Hammond is studying the effects of vaporizing cannabis, to better support students with related research interests in cannabis and harm reduction related research interests.
ACCA began hosting information sessions at UC VapeSeptember 15th 2017.
The first information night was inspired by Lisa Campbell’s presentation to the Toronto Business Licensing Committee and R v Smith.
The second information night included live demonstrations with a hydraulic rosin press by Rosin Artsand a live ice water extraction using Bubble Bags. These presses and bags will potentially be made available for rental in the near future. Another partner,Blue River will be the supplier of terpenes. According to their website, Blue River “offers the widest selection of award winning full spectrum essential oils naturally derived from whole plant cultivars. Our prices are based on grade, yield, and availability. Our pure essential oil products are designed to be used as a diluent for aromatherapy and vaporization.”
Abi Roach reminisced about when she started renting out a vaporizer back in 2003, to people looking for a place to consume their cannabis. The Hotbox Cafe in Toronto is celebrating it’s 14th year in operation. In the evenings “Hot Box Afterdark” hosts music and special events after 7pm. The Afterdark promotes itself as a great alternative to the bar scene. Abi spoke about how people need to consider what they’re advocating against, and that people shouldn’t have to get their pot from bikers.
Canna Relief, a product that will soon to be on shelves at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, was available for sample. The CBD drink is a specially formulated supplement containing a synergistic blend of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and 20mg of pure CO2 extracted CBD derived from hemp stalk and seed. CannaSafety are confident that CannaRelief will help you control and manage THC anxiety so that you can safely and therapeutically benefit from your personal medicine.
Patients First “Action Plan for Heath Care” [download PDF] aims to bridge the gap for patients to Access, Connect, Inform, Protect.
“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence [as a representative of the dispensaries] to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access,”
—Justice Michael Phelan, Reasons for Judgment (February 2016) Allard decision [download PDF]
“Municipalities seem to want to help, but don’t want to put themselves at risk” said Millar. Provinces are going to have to manage the regulatory aspects, but the proposed framework for new legislation does not leave room for the current market. On their website, the Liberal Party says “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”
New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars, along with a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, and a “robust” public awareness campaign.
“Because there were no advocates for the treatment of drug users prior to the late 1950s, it was easy for enforcement-related interests to implement harsh anti-drug legislation. This also meant that although drug users were often thought of as “sick,” imprisonment was a priority over treatment (Blackwell 1988:163).
“In addition, because habitual drug use was associated mostly with Chinese immigrants, many Canadians felt they were “immune from the effects of harsh drug legislation” (Alexander 1990:32).”
Canadians deserve evidence based harm reduction strategies. Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness is working with front runners in the early stages of a legal market, to provide the most up to date information, and in the near future, a place where the culture can thrive. Safe consumption sites will help integrate the shift in consciousness, as stigma is replaced by awareness.