Shoppers Drug Mart granted licence to sell medical marijuana online


Shoppers Drug Mart has been granted a licence to sell medical marijuana online.

Health Canada’s list of authorized cannabis sellers and producers has been updated to reflect that the pharmacy can sell dried and fresh cannabis, as well as plants, seeds and oil.

A website has been set up by the company, which says that patients « with a valid medical document will soon be able to purchase a wide selection of medical cannabis products » from Shoppers.

A spokeswoman for Shoppers’ parent company Loblaw Companies Ltd. said it’s too soon to say when people will be able to start making orders.

She said the company is still working through a « technical issue » with Health Canada.

The company was granted a medical marijuana producer licence in September, after initially applying in October 2016.

Shoppers has said that it has no interest in producing medical cannabis, but the licence is required in order to sell the product to patients.

Under the current Health Canada regulations for medical pot, the only legal distribution method is by mail order from licensed producers direct to patients.


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Medical marijuana users left stranded as legalization pinches supply – National


A week after recreational marijuana slot gacor was legalized, cannabis supplies for medical users have almost vanished at one licenced producer. And stocks at others are thinner than they were a few months ago.

Nanaimo, B.C.-based licensed producer Tilray had no medical cannabis available at mid-day Wednesday, though it had one oil for sale later in the afternoon.

“It makes it pretty difficult,” says Tilray customer John Campbell, 72, of Owen Sound, Ont. “Where it leaves me is that I’ve got to find another source.”

Campbell says he has suffered from chronic pain since surgery he had in 2009. He started by controlling his pain with fentanyl, but disliked it — “Fentanyl scares me. I’m totally scared to death of it.” His doctor switched him to hydromorph contin, and he has been gradually able to cut his dosage by over two-thirds by using cannabis oil, and hopes to cut it further.

“When your body gets accustomed to a specific product, and you’re buying it from a specific company, it gets adjusted to it. To try to change over to another supplier makes it difficult.”

WATCH: Medical marijuana users worry cannabis tax will price medication out of reach

As recently as August, Tilray seemed well-stocked with a selection of oil and dried flower.

Tilray saw higher demand from medical customers in the leadup to recreational legalization, the company says. After it sent them e-mails warning them of a possible shortage, a rash of buying worsened the shortage.

“We have received an unusually high volume of orders on Tilray medical cannabis products this month,” said spokesperson Chrissy Roebuck in an e-mailed statement. “In anticipation of a potential stock-out of whole flower, we proactively informed patients of this temporary supply interruption which resulted in an additional high volume of orders on oil and capsule varieties, as well.”

In an e-mailed statement, Health Canada pointed to a sharp increase in licenced production capacity: 89 new facilities have been licensed in the last 16 months and another 179 allowed to expand.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians who require cannabis for medical purposes have access to a legal and quality-controlled supply,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau wrote.

“While there is no regulatory requirement for licensed producers to prioritize sales to individuals who require cannabis for medical purposes over non-medical sales, it is expected that they will do so. In fact, a number of existing licensed producers have committed publicly to doing so.”

WATCH: Medical marijuana users fear impaired driving laws once cannabis is legal

Medical cannabis was rationed in the past, argues Ottawa lawyer Trina Fraser.

“There used to be a restriction on the amount you could purchase in a 30-day period, and that’s been removed. While that’s a good thing, because it did create supply uncertainty for patients, and that’s the reason it was removed, suddenly the buying levels doubled or tripled.”

And it would be unhelpful to try to bring it back, she argues.

“You’d be doing that on the basis of assumptions that patients would continue to buy exactly what they’re buying now in exactly the same quantities that they’re buying now, and that they’re not going to make a different choice. It can’t be done.”

It’s legally possible for producers to import medical marijuana (they can’t import recreational marijuana), because of uneasiness about the quality of the imported product, Fraser says.

On Twitter, the company said it was hoping to restock by the end of October.

But buying up a large supply is only open to those who can afford it, Campbell points out.

“You’d have to have an awful lot of money to do that. When I purchase mine, I usually buy three bottles at a time. They don’t last a week, and that’s $269 for those three bottles. I’m on a limited income, and that’s quite difficult.”

WATCH: Why is the medical community so hesitant to endorse the pharmaceutical properties of marijuana?

Other licensed producers seem to be doing better than Tilray, at least for now.

Spectrum, Tweed’s medical division, still has a selection of gel caps, oils and dried flower, as does Aphria, though some of its strains are sold out. Aurora and WeedMD have a selection of oil and flower, as does Medreleaf, though many of its medical products are sold out. Maricann is offering two oils and a flower, down from three oils and two flowers on Oct. 12.

Will imported marijuana ease a shortage after October 17?

“Legalization has opened the door for these companies, and they left the medical users in a place that was not anticipated or wanted,” Campbell says.

“They wouldn’t be in the business if it wasn’t for medical marijuana.”

WATCH: Is there a place for pot in treating MS?

The solution is for Health Canada to approve more production facilities, Fraser argued.

“What they can do is help people get through this supply crunch by actually issuing some licences.”

“There are five or six hundred applications for production facilities pending with Health Canada, and that number’s probably going to increase before it decreases.”

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


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Toronto police shut down five marijuana dispensaries, vow to close more


Toronto police have shut down five pot shops in a co-ordinated raid Friday afternoon.

Police spokesman Gary Long says the drug squad charged and released eight people under the new provincial cannabis legislation.

It is only legal to buy marijuana in Ontario from the province’s online website and police Chief Mark Saunders vowed to shut down illegal dispensaries after marijuana became legal on Wednesday.

Ontario will be issuing licenses to operate dispensaries, but that system won’t be in place until April 1, 2019.

On Wednesday, police raided two dispensaries on Vancouver Island and on Thursday police raided a pot shop in St. John’s.

Long says police will continue their enforcement of illegal pot shops.

« Those who choose to stay open are doing so at their own risk, » he said.

Long said police worked with the city to use new powers in the provincial legislation to shut down the dispensaries.

The city’s executive director of municipal licensing and standards told The Canadian Press last week it would use those powers to help close the dispensaries that remained open after legalization.

The province offered existing dispensary owners an amnesty — they would still be able to apply for the coveted provincial retail licenses if they closed down before marijuana became legal on Wednesday.


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What does legal cannabis mean for Canada’s marijuana political parties?


They’re single-issue parties and often considered on the fringe of the political landscape.

Some would see the party names on the ballot and wonder if they were for real. Although the one thing they stood for has been accomplished, they’ll tell you the fight has just begun.

“Right now we’re going to celebrate victory and then we’re going to double down,” Ken Kirk, leader of Alberta’s Marijuana Party, said.

Kirk has been the leader of the Alberta Marijuana Party for 15 years; he uses marijuana to control his epilepsy.

“I might actually have a chance of living beyond 70, unlike the rest of the males in my family who had epilepsy, because I have marijuana,” Kirk said.

The party isn’t currently registered as a provincial party, but they have run candidates in Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary in the past, all fighting for legalization.

But for Kirk, it’s not “mission accomplished” with legal marijuana hitting store shelves across the country this week. In fact, Kirk believes provincial marijuana parties are gaining new relevance post-legalization.

“Most of the regulations for marijuana are going to be provincial in nature, and this means the provincial regulations are going to have to be monitored,” Kirk said.

Cannabis IQ: Everything you need to know about marijuana and your health

Meanwhile, the federal Marijuana Party is also preparing for life after legalization.

Based in Montreal, leader Blair Longley has been at the helm since 2004. Their party has primarily focused on reversing cannabis prohibition, and apart from the single issue of legalization, the party has no other views or policies; candidates are given the freedom to express their own views on other issues.

“The Marijuana Party is made up of a whole bunch of eccentric individuals who do their own thing,” Longley said. “Apart from saying cannabis shouldn’t be criminalized, they didn’t have to agree on anything else.”

At the federal level, the party is concerned about possession limits, restrictions for smaller marijuana producers not yet licensed by the government, as well as the differing policies between provinces.

“Outside of the area that it’s legalized, it’s way more criminalized than ever,” Longley said. “It’s not remotely close to what we’d like to see happen, or what we’ve been arguing for.”

Calgary cannabis stores open on historic day

Like Alberta’s marijuana representation, the federal party is also trying to regain steam. In the year 2000, they had candidates in 73 ridings, and won 0.52% of the national popular vote; in 2015, they only had eight candidates.

Their main obstacle is gathering 250 valid membership declarations to Elections Canada every three years. Longley said if they can get the declarations, he wouldn’t be surprised if the party ran candidates in 2019.

But even if their concerns and support don’t translate into seats come election time, one expert believes the parties can still have a voice politically.

“They actually function more like interest groups than political parties, but they are registered parties,” said Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at MRU. “They raise money, they conduct research, they propose policies and they advocate for the government to change policies.”

Back in Alberta, Kirk is planning on doing exactly that. He told Global News on Wednesday that the party is planning on setting up a social committee, re-registering as an official party, and begin fundraising, all to have a voice at the table.

“Bascially, we’re going to have some Marijuana Party marijuana parties,” Kirk said. “So we can finance activism and monitor the provincial regulations.”

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


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It’s business as usual for this Mohawk First Nation’s marijuana stores while court challenges planned


In one of the production rooms of Legacy 420, the first marijuana retail outlet to open in the Mohawk community of Tyendinaga, Seaira Maracle, 28, brews a cannabis ointment based on a traditional recipe for arthritis.

She scoops the substance from a stainless steel double-boiler and pours it into glass jars.

« I learned it from my Elders, from my grandfathers, » said Maracle, whose job title is alchemist.

The Legacy 420 facility also includes a kitchen and a laboratory where everyone wears white lab coats and features a massive glass contraptions for extracting oil from cannabis.

And, like more than 31 marijuana stores operating throughout this community, which sits about 200 km east of Toronto, it will keep its doors open, selling the ointment along with more than 60 cannabis products, after the new federal and provincial laws come into force Wednesday.

Jason Brant is the chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police. (CBC)

Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Chief Jason Brant said his officers won’t be moving on any of the cannabis stores.

« We are still looking for direction from the legislative body here on the territory, » said Brant.

Brant said his force’s resources are limited, putting any thought of a cannabis enforcement operation out of the question for now in a territory that bristles at the presence of the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Tyendinaga police have a total of seven officers and one works per shift, he said.

« To do something of this magnitude — we can’t do it with this many people, if in fact we were going to do it at all, » said Brant.

Ontario delay presents opportunity

For Tim Barnhart, owner of Legacy 420, Ontario’s decision to delay licensing private cannabis shops until April 2019 presents a lucrative opportunity for business in Tyendinaga.

« We are not fools, we see a trend and a lucrative market we can utilize for the next six to 12 months, » he said.

« We are going to take that. »

Barnhart employs about 43 people with a payroll of $3.7 million. He said his operations generate about $20 million in revenue a year.

Tim Barnhart, owner of Legacy 420, plans to keep operating after Oct. 17. (CBC)

Barnhart said that his operation meets all the aims of the federal law, including age restrictions, product quality control, a closed production and retail loop to keep out organized crime along with a high level of security.

If his compound, which is ringed by metal fencing topped with barbed-wire, is ever raided, he plans to open up the next day and launch a constitutional challenge.

« We have been assured by lawyers that we are constitutionally sound, » said Barnhart.

Constitutional challenge planned

Seth LeFort, a Tyendinaga member who was charged with trafficking last November after police in Six Nations, Ont., raided his dispensary there, said he is planning a constitutional challenge to Canada’s new pot law as part of his case.

An officer from the Six Nations police aims an assault rifle during a Nov. 16, 2017, raid of the Mohawk Medicine herbal dispensary in Six Nations. (Submitted by Seth LeFort)

LeFort said he would have faced a fine in the thousands of dollars on a guilty plea, but he chose to launch the constitutional challenge as a matter of principle.

« The issue I am raising is we have an inherent right as Onkwehón:we [the people] to make medicine and to have an economy, » said LeFort.

« We have a right to add new technology and knowledge to our medicine chest. »

LeFort said he believes the new cannabis law will be a back door to charge tax on reserve through arrangements between the provinces and First Nations that want to cash in on the business.

Tyendinaga is 200 km east of Toronto, near Kingston, Ont. (Google)

« This cannabis thing is a smokescreen for the real issue, which is our land and taxation, » he said.

LeFort said his Brantford, Ont., trial is scheduled for next February and the filing deadline for his constitutional challenge legal arguments is set for Nov. 2.

Ontario laws may be open to challenge

Sara Mainville, a partner with Toronto law firm Olthuis Kleer Townshend, said a court challenge of the federal law may prove futile.

Mainville said there were parallels between the new pot law and the legalization of gambling by Ottawa in the 1970s which delegated regulatory authority to the provinces.

A 1996 Supreme Court ruling involving two Ontario First Nations seeking to self-regulate gaming concluded there was no general self-governing right in Section 35 of the Constitution, which enshrined Aboriginal and treaty rights. Mainville said the court determined a First Nation needed to prove that the specific activity was regulated in some form before contact and in continuity to the present day.

Mainville believes Ontario’s laws may be open to a challenge because the province gave itself the exclusive right to be the wholesaler and regulator of the cannabis industry.

« I think the province is overreaching, » she said.

« It is my strong belief that provincial governments have to work with First Nations to figure out how laws could work because First Nations hold the governing authority. »

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief Donald Maracle speaks with community members after a cannabis meeting Monday evening. (CBC)

Community works on its own rules

Tyendinaga’s government, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte band council, held a community meeting Monday evening to discuss the need to pass an interim cannabis law to prevent Ontario’s rules from applying on Wednesday.

Coun. Josh Hill said passing an interim band law was the best way to protect the territory until community consultations produce a final version. He said the leadership met with Ontario officials last Friday and were told the province would not be taking any drastic measures against the community for now.

« It’s in everyone’s best interest to try to find a solution to this by talking, » said Hill.

Jamie Kunkel, the owner of Smoke Signals dispensary, said he’s willing to hold his nose and work with a band developed regulatory regime if it means keeping local control of the industry.

« If it’s reasonable…then I’ll probably license it, » said Kunkel, who has franchised out into other First Nations.

Some community members at the meeting expressed frustration with the amount of traffic and disturbances in the community — including three cases of suspected arson — they see as connected to the cannabis industry.

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Band councillor Josh Hill says talks are ongoing with Ontario over marijuana. (CBC)

The police said there is no evidence the three incidents have anything directly to do with the cannabis business and suggested the increased traffic may also be due to lower gas prices on the reserve.

Tammy Brant, 49, voiced her concerns during the community meeting. One of her two sons has worked at a cannabis store, but she doesn’t see it as a viable career goal. While the pay, in cash, is often good, there are no benefits that come with employment like disability or employment insurance, she said.

Brant said the industry has expanded with little regard for community impact.

« We haven’t been respected as a people at this point, as a community, » said Brant, in an interview.

« Just those who are specifically benefiting from it right here, right now. »


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Marijuana legalization in Canada begins at midnight in every time zone


Marijuana will become legal in Canada at the stroke of midnight in its time zone farthest to the east.

From there, legal weed will cascade to each province and territory every hour — with the exception of Atlantic Canada, where marijuana will be legalized a half hour after it happens in Newfoundland.

Marijuana coverage on

The drug is being legalized under the Cannabis Act, which comes into effect on Oct. 17.

The act states that people who are aged 18 years or older can possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in its dried or “equivalent non-dried form” in public.

You can also share up to 30 grams of cannabis with other adults.

READ MORE: Cannabis IQ — here are all the legal ways to consume pot in Canada

The act also stipulates that people can buy “dried or fresh cannabis or cannabis oil” from provincially-licensed retailers; where there aren’t brick-and-mortar retailers, you can buy it online from “federally-licensed producers.”

People can likewise grow up to four cannabis plants per home from “licensed seed or seedlings.”

They can also make cannabis-infused food and drinks at home, “as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products.”

The interior of a Cannabis NB retail store is shown in Fredericton, N.B., on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

The act, however, severely restricts underage people from possessing cannabis.

You could face a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail if you give or sell cannabis to a youth, or if you use a youth to commit a “cannabis related offence.”

These are new criminal offences.

READ MORE: Legal cannabis use could still get you banned at the border, U.S. confirms

Just because marijuana will be legal, however, doesn’t mean that there will be licensed retailers available to sell it in every province and territory.

In Ontario, for example, there won’t be any physical retailers open — only an online store.

Meanwhile, in B.C., there will be only a single provincially-licensed retailer open in Kamloops; the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is looking to locate to other locations in that city.

However, anyone wishing to purchase marijuana in Vancouver can try an unlicensed, privately-run retailer.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has advised dispensary owners to shut down if they wish to operate legally.

However, Vancouver Police Department (VPD) spokesperson Sgt. Jason Robillard told Global News he was “not aware of any plans for the VPD to shut down any unlicensed privately-owned cannabis shops at least in the near future.”

Here are Canada’s provinces and territories where marijuana has been legalized, and where it hasn’t yet:

Newfoundland — not legal

Cannabis NL logo.

Cannabis NL

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Labrador — not legal

Cannabis NB logo.

Cannabis NB

When cannabis becomes legally available to purchase on Oct. 17, 2018, residents can make their purchases at 12 Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores across the province.


Quebec, all of Ontario except for the far west — not legal

A security guard stands in front of a new Societe Quebecoise du Cannabis (SQDC) store before a media preview Tuesday, October 16, 2018 in Montreal. The legal sale of cannabis begins in Canada on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.


Ontario Cannabis Store logo.

Ontario Cannabis Store

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, western Ontario, most of Nunavut — not legal

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen speaks during a press conference in Winnipeg on October 15, 2018.


Alberta, Northwest Territories, parts of eastern British Columbia — not legal

Alberta Cannabis logo.

Alberta Cannabis

British Columbia, Yukon — not legal

A security guard walks outside British Columbia’s first legal B.C. cannabis store in Kamloops, B.C. Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Canada will legalize cannabis nation wide on Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018 allowing stores across the country to open and legally sell cannabis and cannabis products.


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


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Thanks to Doug Ford, the sky’s the limit for marijuana in Ontario


Ontario’s cannabis conundrum is coming out of the closet.

Come Wednesday, marijuana will waft across our parks, jogging trails and beaches with impunity. For better or for worse, the pungent odour will float in the open air — while weighing down our public spaces.

The smell of marijuana will soon be present in all of our public spaces thanks to Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, Martin Regg Cohn writes.
The smell of marijuana will soon be present in all of our public spaces thanks to Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, Martin Regg Cohn writes.  (DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If you have forgotten the stale aroma of cigar or pipe smoke in our past, brace yourself for a trip back in time as the smell of cannabis wends its way into your nostrils, even if it’s too far away to inhale.

Thanks to the federal Liberal government, dope has been decriminalized.

But thanks to the provincial Progressive Conservatives, marijuana has been liberalized — far beyond what Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had announced. Where once dope was driven underground, now the sky’s the limit in Ontario.

Rather than restrict sales to an initial 40 government-owned outlets, the Tories have opened it up to as many as 1,000 privately run stores. Instead of limiting its use to private dwellings, now you can toke joints just about anywhere you can puff cigarettes — and in far more places than you can guzzle a bottle of beer, wine or spirits.

Premier Doug Ford clearly has strong views about the entrepreneurial component of cannabis sales, but relied on Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, the chief law officer of the Crown, and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, the chief guardian of the treasury, to foist it on municipalities.

City governments will have until January to opt out of private cannabis stores in their jurisdictions, after which they will be locked in for all time. It amounts to local buy-in by default, because municipalities can hardly take it upon themselves to be cannabis-free any more than they can declare themselves dry zones.

Marijuana store too close to your school? Not the province’s problem, talk to your local mayor.

Smell of weed turning your children’s soccer field into a zombie zone as the players gasp for breath? Queen’s Park can’t help, it’s up to your local city hall.

No one ever said it would be easy for the province to find the middle ground between the freedom to consume marijuana and the right to be free of its smell. Instead, Queen’s Park is not only passing the buck, but adding costs to regulatory authorities at all levels.

By enabling a private sector free-for-all, municipal authorities will have to play whack-a-mole in scrutinizing appropriate locations (no special cannabis zoning restrictions allowed). And provincial regulators will have to enforce underage sales (no one under 19) by private owners motivated by the profit motive, rather than the unionized, public sector staff that would have operated outlets controlled by an LCBO monopoly under the previous Liberal plan.

That go-slow approach, which proved broadly popular in public opinion polls, would have restricted cannabis to private dwellings (where permitted). The PC government now argues for a misleading equivalency between cannabis and tobacco, concluding that people should be able to toke cannabis anywhere they can puff on a cigarette.

That false analogy is oblivious to the differences between odours (cannabis smells travel far and wide), and intoxication (alcohol consumption remains banned in many public places where toking weed will be permitted).

No one is suggesting these decisions are easy. But the provincial government has decided to duck.

Off-loading in-store sales on the private sector, and downloading implementation onto municipalities, makes for a cheaper rollout as Ontarians start to roll their own weed. But when problems arise, it will be much harder to rein in.

Notwithstanding the premier’s penchant for cloaking himself in the guise of family values on matters such as sex education, he is relying on a fig leaf to camouflage his naked expediency on cannabis consumption. Amid the haze, it is not so much an ideological decision as a political dodge.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn


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No federal party will turn back the clock on the legalization of marijuana


OTTAWA—It is not a drill. When legal cannabis hits the shelves in Canada on Wednesday, it will be there to stay.

Come next year’s federal election, no party will be committing to turn back the clock on Justin Trudeau’s signature policy; not even the Conservatives who spent the last campaign painting nightmare scenarios about the legal sale of marijuana and who would have no qualms about doing away with other major parts of the Liberal legacy.

Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.
Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.  (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If Andrew Scheer became prime minister, he would waste no time in dismantling the Liberal climate change infrastructure. A Conservative federal government would turn its back on carbon pricing and lighten the regulatory burden on pipeline owners.

It would reverse the bid to make the Senate more independent and resume appointing partisan members committed to supporting the government agenda to the Upper House.

But Scheer would not kill the nascent legal cannabis market..

It would of course be hard for the Conservatives to continue to prosecute the legalization of cannabis with a minimum of credibility when some of those who toiled on their front bench or in their government’s backrooms have now become poster people for the cannabis industry.

Given the significant amount of money and labour that has gone into the opening and the operation of this new market, this was never a policy that could or would be reversed on a dime.

When the Liberals first adopted a resolution in support of the legalization of cannabis at the party’s 2012 convention, few believed it had the potential to become a fait accompli a mere half-a-dozen years later.

The party was leaderless and languishing in third place in the House of Commons. The best some Liberal strategists could think of saying about the cannabis resolution was that it sent a signal that there was still some policy life on their political planet. The worst was that it could lead scores of voters to dismiss their party as too irresponsible to be returned to government.

Yet support for the legalization of marijuana among the Liberal delegates cut right across the age spectrum. That was a rare clue that the proposal might turn out to be more than a one-convention wonder.

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the need for governments to acquire a so-called social licence for the projects and the policies they support.

But in the case of the legalization of cannabis — as in that of assisted dying — the federal government of the day did not so much create the circumstances for social acceptability as take advantage of its existence.

An Abacus poll published on Monday reported little public resistance to the new status of cannabis. Most Canadians will not be dancing in the streets when marijuana stores open for business on Wednesday, nor will they be rushing to the barricades to protest.

Read more:

Opinion | Walkom: Legalizing pot is about politics — and big business

Investing in cannabis will be hazy in the short run

I was 14 when I first realized how readily available cannabis was. The fact that it was an illegal substance did not factor in my decision to take a pass on trying it. By all accounts, my experience is par for the course for most adult Canadians.

It won’t be easier to purchase cannabis under the new regime; at first in fact it will often be harder. The main change is that it will no longer be illegal. And as a result, scores of people, many of them young, will no longer risk being saddled with a criminal record. Over time, smoking weed may become as uncool as smoking tobacco.

That is not to say that the politics of marijuana will fall right off the radar. But much of the action — at least over the first few years — will be taking place in the provinces.

As it is now configured, the legal cannabis market is really a patchwork system featuring almost as many approaches as there are provinces.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. At some point, best practices will surface and — in an ideal world — be replicated.

For instance, Quebec — under its incoming CAQ government — is planning to take as close to a prohibitionist approach as possible. Premier-elect François Legault would raise the legal age to buy cannabis from 18 to 21 and make it illegal to smoke weed in public places. Ontario is taking a more liberal approach.

The next few years will tell which of the two comes closest to meeting the policy objectives of eradicating the black market and ensuring that less cannabis finds its way into the hands of Canadian teenagers.

But under any scenario, getting an informed take on the big post-legalization picture will take longer than the 10 or so months between now and the next federal election.

Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert


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Chiefs of police weigh in on readiness for legal marijuana


The president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police will speak about police readiness with recreational marijuana set to become legal on Wednesday.

CBC will stream the press conference with Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer live at 11 a.m. PT, 2 p.m. ET. 

The association has recommended that 2,000 officers receive specialized training in drug recognition in order to meet the federal government’s promise of cracking down on drug-impaired driving.

But 10 days ago a senior government official said only 833 Canadian police officers have been trained as drug-recognition experts.

While the government has introduced three new criminal offences involving cannabis-impaired driving, they all require a positive blood test from a suspect before a conviction.

Most Canadian police forces are not equipped to draw a blood sample at a police station.


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


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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