Over the last 20 years, public opinion has shifted in favour of decriminalizing marijuana. In fact, a 2015 Forum Research poll found that a whopping 68% of Canadians are in favour of relaxing regulations.

In the 2015 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada recognized that the current prohibition approach to marijuana is not working and committed to legalizing, regulating and restricting access by April 2017. In June 2016, the long-awaited task force, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, was announced, with a mandate to design a new framework for legalization and regulation. The report will be delivered in November 2016 and legislation is slated to be introduced in the spring of 2017.

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How much is “too much”?

Realizing there’s a lack of evidence on how marijuana use may affect a person’s ability to drive, researchers in Alberta are trying to establish how long it takes for the cognitive effects of cannabis to exit the system on the average person. They acknowledge that it can take up to seven days for some verbal learning impairments to dissipate, but like alcohol, it’s difficult to gauge because everyone’s tolerance level is different.

Researchers in Edmonton began recruiting study participants but need more – read more here, or sign up to be a part of their study.

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A piece of the (pot) pie

As more and more details are released by the federal government about the impending marijuana legalization, more and more questions are being raised by its municipal counterparts. The Government of Canada has now agreed to a 75/25 revenue split, so the provinces and territories receive the bulk of the funds generated by pot sales, but the municipalities want to know how those funds will be dispersed.

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson is proposing the monies go towards the additional policing that will be required to offset this new line in the budget and other big city mayors agree. Read more here.

Buying the bud

With only eight months to go until marijuana is legalized in Canada, the province of Alberta is now establishing where people will be able to purchase it in cigarette, oil and loose form, both online and in-store.

If the proposed bill is passed, online sales will be controlled by the provincial government. Privately owned companies will be able to sell to consumers in person but will be governed by the same AGLC regulations and laws that apply to liquor and tobacco sales.

Click here for full details.

Make your voice heard!

The province of British Columbia wants to hear from you – they’ve created a survey to gather your thoughts, opinions and suggestions regarding provincial legislation surrounding next year’s marijuana legalization.

Let them know how you feel about distribution, minimum age, public consumption and a host of other topics that will help mould the laws that will take effect next July 1st. Click here to complete the survey and make your voice heard!

Home Shopping Network for Weed?

When nearly everything you’d ever need is available to buy online, some licensed cannabis retailers are wondering when they’ll have the same opportunity. And although the government of Alberta has been clear that online distribution is still a long way off, if at all, a new co-op group postulates that by doing so may help eliminate the black market.

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So You Want to be a Marijuana Distributor

Provinces and territories across Canada are starting to publicly reveal their proposed legislation regarding how, and to whom, marijuana is sold and regulated.

Although Alberta is recommending the minimum age coincide with the existing legal drinking age of 18, who will be able to sell it is still very much up in the air, and there are mixed reactions from both the public and private sectors. The good part? They’re asking Albertans to weigh in to help make final decisions.

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Higher Education

As the date for marijuana legalization looms closer, some post-secondary institutions are looking to better equip young entrepreneurs who are looking to set up shop in the industry.

Niagara College in Southern Ontario will offer a program launching in the fall of 2018, while a community college in New Brunswick already offers a horticultural course that teaches students the skills they’ll need to work in the unchartered trade of commercial cannabis.

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Weeding Through the Bureaucracy

With next year’s pending legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada, and the myriad of still unanswered questions surrounding it, some local growers in the Kootenays worry about their long-standing businesses that account for approximately 40% of Canada’s weed supply.

Green Room Society’s president and CEO, Frederick Pels, weighs in on the possible implications of privatizing the industry.

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Whose responsibility is it anyway?

With the onset of legalized marijuana use in Canada on the horizon, you’d need more than binoculars right now to see it for all the unanswered questions still standing in its way. Inquiring minds, and private dispensaries like Green Room, want to know, “whose responsibility is it anyway?”

As you can see from the table above, there are many aspects of legalization to consider, and many levels of government to get involved. The federal government, for example, will focus on the “bigger picture” facets, such as establishing possession limits, advertising and packaging, production and age requirements.

Provincial governments will be tasked with establishing workplace safety rules, retail models and regulations around distribution and wholesaling, while working in tandem with the federal government on laws around impaired driving, public health, education and taxation.

Working with MADD CEO Andrew Murie, Green Room is helping determine how to effectively track the offense of impaired driving and discussing potential risks before they become a safety concern for its clients, and the public at large.

Municipal governments will also have a say in education and taxation, and will cover retail locations and rules, laws around public consumption of cannabis and cannabis products and land use/zoning laws for production facilities and dispensaries.

Green Room has already taken measures to ensure the safety of their customers, and their staff. They are currently developing their own code of conduct, comprehensive training manual, child-resistant packaging and processes for mandatory criminal record checks to correspond with all levels of government.

In Support of Cannabis

While the Government of Canada moves forward with its legislation to legalize marijuana in 2018, there are still discussions and popular debate about what the effects might be. But for fun, let’s look at some celebrities who’ve offered an opinion on this subject. From Barbra Streisand to the Dalai Lama, read about their, and other prominent folks’, personal reasons why they say “yes” to legalization.

Calling all Albertans!

Have a say about cannabis legalization in your province by completing the cannabis legalization survey. This survey closes July 31, 2017.  Click here to take the survey.

Medical Marijuana: The Socio-Economic Side of the Story

When it comes to marijuana, the subject raises all kinds of ethical and moral questions about its merits, benefits and societal impacts. It is clearly a moral and ethical debate, as much as it is about health and wellbeing and economic impacts. This article looks at the subject through the lens of the potential impacts on human wellbeing and community quality of life. Read more in this Speech delivered by Mark Anielski to the Vancouver Board of Variance on October 5, 2016

Mark Anielski an economic strategist specializing in measuring well-being and happiness of nations, communities and businesses. He is the author of the best-selling, award-winning book The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth, the co-founder of the economic policy think-tank, Genuine Wealth Inc., and for ten years, was the founding professor of corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship for MBA students at the University of Alberta’s School of Business. He has also advised governments around the world, as well as Canadian municipalities, on quality of life indicators and well-being-based measurement and management systems.

Towards a healthy, regulated dispensary model

The Green Room strongly urges the Federal Government to adopt a regulated dispensary model for safe, responsible and effective distribution of medical marijuana. Green Room’s submission to the task force includes cannabis as a safe alternative to opioids, several recommendations that protect Canadians and support better health outcomes for those with chronic conditions. Read more: Towards a regulated dispensary model

Dispensing of Medical Marijuana

The economic, societal and health benefits for Canadians of a legalized, regulated and taxable dispensary system for medical marijuana are huge. Based on the model currently used in 17 US states, legalized marijuana in Canada could see a dramatic reduction in fatal opioid overdoses, reduction in crime and enforcement costs and tax benefits in the billions of dollars. Read more: Dispensing of Medical Marijuana

ICES Report: Opioid Use and Overdose...

In an ICES Report from July 2016, Tara Gomes and David N. Juurlink review issues related to opioid misuse, abuse and premature overdose death. Read more: ICES Report – Opioid Use and Overdose: What We’ve Learned in Ontario

Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana...

This discussion paper was released by Ottawa to outline the objectives for a new system, and specific issues and options on which the government, through the task force, is seeking advice and input from Canadians. Read more: Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana (Government of Canada)

Fiscal Impacts of Cannabis Legalization

Avery Shenfeld from CIBC World Markets Inc. reviews the fiscal impacts of Cannabis legalization in the January 2016 issue of Economic Insights. Read more: Economic Insights – January 2016