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Will medical marijuana users shift to legal pot? This producer is ready if they do

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The packaging room at Emblem Corp. is a hive of activity as white-suited staff members wearing hairnets and masks carefully measure out exactly one gram of marijuana then seal it in small, white jars.

Those fragments of dried cannabis flower are destined to be some of the first sampled by consumers in Ontario and Alberta once marijuana becomes legal in Canada next Wednesday.

Legalization presents both an opportunity and a potential problem for Emblem, which has focused on medical cannabis production in years past. As it expands into recreational products, it’s also preparing for the idea that some of its traditional customers might start self-medicating. 

But the mood at the plant, just outside of Brantford in Paris, Ont., is upbeat as legalization day approaches.

« This is a watershed moment in our history, we’re the first, first-world nation to legalize cannabis, this is a huge deal no matter how you cut it, » said Jordan Rodness, director of product strategy during a tour of the facility.

The packaging room was busy during a tour of the facility Thursday as staff sealed marijuana in small, white jars. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

« The excitement in the room is nuts. People are so engaged in this work and so excited to be participating in this moment. It’s been amazing. »

Excitement, sure, but CEO Nick Dean admits there is some concern a segment of their 5,000 customers might suddenly skip the doctor and come up with their own treatment plan using recreational products.

Jordan Rodness, is the director of product strategy for Emblem, he described marijuana legalization is a watershed moment for the industry. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Still, he’s optimistic that working with insurance companies to cover medical cannabis, along with educating physicians and the public, will make up for the difference.

« Ultimately whenever someone has an ailment, whether you’re suffering from shoulder pain because you used to be the quarterback on your high school football team … or you’re having anxiety, typically the first place we go is to our physician, » he explained.

« I believe that’s going to be the case and as more and more physicians are educated on the benefits of medical cannabis I think we’ll continue to see more and more prescriptions. »

Packagers carefully measure out exactly one gram of marijuana into small jars as part of Emblem’s recreational offering that will be shipped to sites in Ontario and Alberta ahead of legalization Wednesday. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

What sets Emblem apart, according to general manager Jeff Keyes, is that i’s a « closed-box system » where the conditions in five rooms packed with about 500 plants each can be completely controlled to churn out consistent products.

That means everything from light, humidity and even CO2 levels can be monitored and tweaked as needed.

« Our focus here has been on quality, not quantity, » said Keyes. « We’re growing in rooms where we can control 135 different factors. »

Emblem has five growing rooms packed with approximately 500 plants each. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

The facility currently employs 65 people, and is already working on an addition where they’ll work on researching and developing oils, sprays and tablets that aren’t currently legal for recreational use in Canada, but are in other countries.

Once that addition is complete, they plan to employ more than 100. Jobs at the include everything from unskilled workers to highly specialized scientists trained in disciplines like botany.

The company has mainly been focused on producing medicinal products, but plans to contribute to the recreational market too. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Dean said opening Emblem’s doors was about showing consumers it’s not some basement grow-op.

« We wanted to show that it’s incredibly professional, that it’s a sterile environment, it’s pharma-grade, we’re producing high quality and consistent products for both patients and consumers. »



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Queen’s University homecoming marred by large, unsanctioned street party – Kingston

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Queen’s University homecoming is an opportunity for past graduates of the school to catch up and reminisce.

Heather Kellington-Dudley, a 1968 arts graduate, says that’s what she was doing when she arrived in Kingston on Friday and toured the university campus.

“I just walked around the old campus and thought, ‘I don’t remember those trees being so tall. I don’t remember the buildings being misplaced. How come I can’t find my way around?’” she said.

There are dozens of events taking place at the university over the weekend.

Saturday’s big draw was the Queen’s Golden Gaels football game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Sarah Indewey, head of Alumni Relations at Queen’s, says the events are set to continue through the evening.

“We have the reunion street festival coming back for its fourth year, (a) very exciting headliner — the Sam Roberts Band — and in addition to Sam Roberts, there’s also some students and alumni bands that will be playing beforehand,” she said.

Indewey says 3,700 alumni registered in advance for homecoming celebrations, with many more registering once they arrived at the university.

However, the unsanctioned street party that has been taking place along Aberdeen and Johnson streets, spilling onto University Avenue, is not part of the official celebrations.

Hundreds of revelers were on the streets before 10 a.m., drinking and partying.


READ MORE:
Dalhousie braces for homecoming weekend

Shortly after 11 a.m., Kingston police closed Aberdeen Street to traffic, Staff Sgt. Brian Pete told Global Kingston.

“We were unable to keep Johnson Street from University sort of eastbound — we had to close that down because someone was definitely going to be hit by a car,” he said.

Pete says police are disappointed with the volume of people partying on the streets just north of the university campus.

“There was a significant amount of work done pre-homecoming with lots of different partners, including ourselves, the city, Queen’s, alumni relations and many more,” he added.


READ MORE:
Police, university ready to enforce new party bylaw for Queen’s homecoming

Kingston Fire and Rescue and Frontenac County Paramedic Services were kept busy throughout Saturday responding to numerous calls.

According to Pete, there have been several injuries reported.

“I’m unaware right now of the significance of (the injuries), but some of them were from flying projectiles — I believe glass bottles,” he said.

Pete says there was also a report of an individual falling.

“We had an issue of a shed today on Aberdeen Street; I don’t think it collapsed but I think someone fell off it,” he said.

A five-year downward trend on alcohol-related arrests during the unsanctioned street parties may be coming to an end.

Police will have an even greater presence overnight, as the street party is usually larger at night than during the day.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Political dynasties at stake as B.C. voters cast ballots in municipal elections

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Some political dynasties are at stake in Metro Vancouver as municipal elections take place across British Columbia today — the country’s first municipal elections of the year.

CBC News will have full coverage throughout the day, including local radio specials in the evening starting when polls close at 8 p.m. PT, as well as live coverage on Facebook and extensive resources on our website. 

This is the first province-wide municipal vote since new campaign finance rules that limit corporate and union donations were implemented last fall. 

It’s also an election that will see big change in some Metro Vancouver cities, where more than a dozen long-term mayors are not seeking re-election.

But even in cities where incumbents remain, there is potential for major change as residents struggle with rapid growth, a housing crisis, ongoing gang conflict and transportation woes. 

(Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Change coming for Vancouver

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was one of the first to announce he would no longer be in the seat he has held for a decade.

Robertson says he has no regrets as he leaves behind a prosperous city with an extensive cycling network. He also passes along a housing crisis, which affects municipalities across the province, that has been a big issue in the election.  

Robertson’s municipal party, Vision Vancouver, chose not to run a mayoral candidate after the one they had chosen, Ian Campbell, stepped down four days before nominations closed.

Unlike most large cities in Canada, Vancouver doesn’t have a ward system. Instead, politicians form parties that run candidates on council, the school board and park board. Montreal also has municipal political parties.

From left to right: Wai Young, Shauna Sylvester, Kennedy Stewart, Ken Sim and Hector Bremner are some of the mayoral candidates running in Vancouver.

The vacuum left behind after Robertson’s decision not to run ushered in a flood of candidates aligned with nine civic political parties, some of them splinter groups from more established parties, and several candidates running as independents. 

There are 158 candidates on the city’s long ballot — 21 of them vying for top spot. 

Long-term incumbents at risk in Surrey, Burnaby

In Surrey, the region’s second most populated city, Mayor Linda Hepner is also stepping down.

Her party, Surrey First, has been in power for a decade with a stronghold that currently includes all seats on council.

There are eight people running to replace her. Tom Gill is running as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate. Bruce Hayne was with the party but has formed his own, Integrity Now.

And former mayor Doug McCallum has stepped back into the limelight 13 years after he was last in office. 

Candidates for mayor of Surrey are, from top left to bottom right: Pauline Greaves, John Wolanski, Rajesh Jayaprakash, Imtiaz Popat, Doug McCallum, Franç​ois Nantel, Bruce Hayne and Tom Gill. (City of Surrey)

Some of the main issues in Surrey include concerns about an ongoing gang war and whether the city should form its own police force (it’s currently serviced by the RCMP). 

Candidates and voters are also divided over a planned $1.65 billion light rail transit system, with some keen to replace it with the faster SkyTrain system already implemented in parts of Metro Vancouver.

In Burnaby, the epicentre of the country’s battle for and against the Trans Mountain Pipeline, former firefighter Mike Hurley is challenging incumbent mayor Derek Corrigan and his party the Burnaby Citizens Association.

Corrigan has served council for 31 years. He is a staunch opponent to the pipeline. But many have criticized him for « demovictions » that have razed affordable rental homes in favour of new, higher-priced condominiums. 

Hurley, a political novice, is campaigning on a promise of revisiting how the city manages growth.

Victoria and Vancouver Island

In the provincial capital, it’s shaping up to be a three-way contest for the mayor’s chair between incumbent Lisa Helps and two challengers without previous electoral experience: business consultant Stephen Hammond and political consultant Mike Geoghegan.

In 2014, Helps unseated the last mayor, Dean Fortin, by only 89 votes

Victoria has shed its sleepy reputation as home to « newlyweds and nearly deads » and ushered in a more urban, modern vibe.

But the rising popularity of the city has seen skyrocketing rents, pushing housing and affordability to the top of the agenda. How people get around a busier city is also shaping up to be a ballot box issue.

Affordability is a major issue across Vancouver Island, with tent cities popping up throughout the region. 

Okanagan and the Southern Interior

The Okanagan is B.C. ‘s traditional and reliable conservative heartland.

It is changing, however. This election, the municipal campaign in Kelowna is a battle over the city’s identity. And the two men leading the race personify the possibilities.

Colin Basran’s tenure as mayor has been marked by growth and development, but urban problems like homelessness and crime have followed that success.

Kelowna mayoral candidates, from left, Bobby Kennedy, Colin Basran, Bob Schewe and Tom Dyas debated leadership, inclusiveness and the issue of homelessness in an election forum hosted by CBC Kelowna and UBC Okanagan. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Enter Tom Dyas, promising a return to the Okanagan’s more conservative roots — he’s a no-nonsense, tax-cutting, small businessman reminiscent of the valley’s Socred past.

Meanwhile in Penticton and Vernon, the growing homeless population and each city’s response has dominated the discussion.

In smaller communities, where there are few condos and little foreign investment, the election has been fought on the traditional questions of transparency, taxes and accountability.  



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One dead in Kennedy subway station stabbing

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A man is dead after being stabbed in Kennedy subway station Saturday night, Toronto police say.

Toronto paramedics responded to reports of a stabbing inside Kennedy subway station in Scarborough at around 5:15 p.m. When paramedics arrived, they found one man had been seriously injured.

Toronto police say a fight broke out between two men inside the station, with one man receiving stab wounds.

The victim, a 25-year-old man, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to Toronto paramedics.

Police have arrested one male suspect in the parking lot of Kennedy station. The subway is closed at Kennedy station so the homicide unit can continue their investigation.

Shuttle buses are operating both ways between Warden subway station and Scarborough Centre and picking up and dropping off passengers at Kennedy station.

Marjan Asadullah is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @marjanasadullah



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