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Cannabis IQ: Possession amnesty debated, buzzkill in Quebec and more – National




Here’s what we learned this week:

What will happen to the half-million Canadians who have criminal records for marijuana-related offences?

The federal government has hedged, half-promising some kind of amnesty.

“We’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those folks who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said last year. “We will move forward in a thoughtful way on fixing past wrongs that happened because of this erroneous law that I didn’t put in place and that I’m working hard to fix.”

WATCH: Trudeau discusses amnesty for marijuana possession

Until this week, though, nothing resembling an actual bill had appeared in the Commons.

But on Thursday, Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin introduced a private member’s bill that would “expunge” (or erase) records of people who have been convicted of simple possession of marijuana (ie. quantities for person use, not trafficking.)

Victoria MP calls on federal government to expunge criminal records for minor cannabis possession

“People tell me they can’t coach their kids’ soccer team or chaperone a school trip all because they have criminal record for possession of a small level of cannabis,” Rankin said

The process would be free, unlike a pardon application, which costs $631.

It’s more complicated than it sounds, though. As we reported last year, Canada’s national criminal database can’t clearly break out people with a record for possession of marijuana from other drug possession offences, so an amnesty will be a labour-intensive, one-by-one process. 

Why a Canadian marijuana possession amnesty is harder to implement than it sounds

WATCH: Newly-elected CAQ MNA Geneviève Guilbault says the party has been clear that the legal age for marijuana should be 21 – and not 18.

In brief:

  • François Legault, Quebec’s incoming premier, says he’ll follow through on a campaign promise to raise the province’s minimum age to buy and possess cannabis from 18 to 21.  Coming just 11 days before legalization, the move would need a last-minute legislative change to take effect. The change would move Quebec from having one of the lowest cannabis ages in the country to the highest — the minimum age will be 19 in most provinces. Is it practical at this point?
  • Also in Quebec: Many municipalities, like Quebec City and Lévis, are banning public consumption. (As happened in Halifax, several local councils in Quebec started out debating a cannabis bylaw and ended up with sweeping restrictions on tobacco as well.)
  • Transport minister Marc Garneau confirms that Canadians will be able to take up to 30 grams of cannabis with them on domestic flights. (This is sometimes described as a “small amount,” but really isn’t.) Why would you want to? Well, provincial laws typically don’t allow residents to order pot from outside the province, but will allow them to bring it with themOne thing you must absolutely never do, though, it take your pot on an international flight. Signs reminding travellers of this are appearing in airports across the country, and Vancouver’s says it may install an amnesty box
  • Alberta will have 17 bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores opening on the morning of October 17: six in Edmonton, three in Medicine Hat and two in Calgary. Over the nest year, that’s expected to expand to a network of 250 stores.
  • Nova Scotia’s only standalone cannabis store unveiled its sign this week in Halifax.
  • Remember the Toronto company that wanted to hire people to test marijuana for $50 an hour? Ten days after the posting went up, they have almost 20,000 applications.
  • New cannabis users under legalization will be risk-averse, middle-aged and interested in low-dose products, Deloitte predicts. (Microdosing has been popular in U.S. states that have legalized. That market included, we were told, included “moms with young children at home … looking to take the edge off.“)
  • New Brunswick’s local governments want 44 per cent of provincial cannabis revenue, but there’s no deal in place, along with no clarity about who will form the provincial government.

WATCH: New Brunswick municipalities grapple with marijuana legalization

You wanted to know:

  • How is the Ontario government going to safeguard the personal information it collects on its online ordering and delivery system until a brick and mortar store can open in April 2019? Second, who will have access to this information? Will U.S. Customs?

The question mentions Ontario, but the answer applies to all eight provinces, plus the Northwest Territories and Yukon, which will have a government-run online retail system (all of them except Manitoba and Saskatchewan).

The provinces have been very conscientious about making sure their ordering information (goods X have been paid for and should be shipped to customer Y at address  Z) will be processed in Canada and not retained after it’s needed. IDs will be checked at the door, but no record will be kept of the customer’s identity.

The more difficult problem is the credit card data that’s created as part of an online transaction. Your credit card data is held on servers in the United States, where your data has no legal protection. The provinces have addressed this in different ways — Alberta and Nova Scotia may have the best solution, entering the transaction in such a way that it doesn’t clearly relate to cannabis. Nova Scotia cannabis purchases, for example, will be identified as ‘NSLC,’ the acronym of the province’s liquor stores.

Ontario and B.C. say they have a solution, but we haven’t seen it yet and they won’t say what it is. Quebec cannabis sales will be identified as SQDC, for the Société québécoise du cannabis.

Will your cannabis credit card purchases be visible to U.S. border officials? (Some might, some won’t.)

  • What’s the date for cannabis edibles/drinkables to be made available?

There’s been quite a lot of confusion about this.

Edibles that are pre-made as food products (everybody likes to talk about gummy bears) won’t be seen until some time next year, when the feds have had more time to write regulations.

However, cannabis-infused oils (in all provinces) and gel caps (in most provinces, that we’ve found) will be for sale on Day 1. So if you want a cannabis pumpkin spice latte, you couldbuy a pumpkin spice latte and drop some cannabis oil in it.

A caution, though — pay very careful attention to dosing. The oils that will be for sale are very concentrated products. A 90 ml bottle of oil will contain most of a year’s worth of daily microdoses.

Gel caps take a lot of the guesswork out of the process. Standard sizes will include 2.5 mg — more of a microdose — and 10mg. (They won’t be as nice as the high-end chocolate versions available in some U.S. states — the experience will be more … pharmaceutical — but will have the same effect.)

Powerful cannabis oils don’t involve smoking, but are ‘much trickier’ to get right

  • Just wondering what the laws will be in regards to selling marijuana clones (live plants) to the public?

As far as the federal Cannabis Act is concerned, you’ll be able to buy live marijuana plants (no more than four per household) on the morning of Oct. 17.

The problem will be finding someone to sell them to you. Storing dried flower and gel caps is a fairly simple problem — caring for live plants is a more complicated one, and one that cannabis retailers seem to want to avoid, at least at first.

Given all the complexities of the early stages of legalization, it’s hard to blame them. (Seeds will be available in some provinces.)

In provinces with private-sector retail, it wouldn’t be surprising if some stores specialized in being cannabis nurseries as time goes on.

You can buy live pot plants when they’re legal — at least in theory

Send us your questions



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


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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