Pubdate: Thu, 15 Dec 2016
Source: Toronto 24hours (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Inc.
Author: Sarah Hanlon
Page: A3


The weed world is a buzz after the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization
released over 80 recommendations for how the government should
regulate pot once it becomes legal here in Canada.

The task force created their report based on consultations with
current medical marijuana users, Indigenous communities, youth groups,
experts and governmental bodies from across the country. The nine
members of the Task Force, headed by Anne McLellan, also gained
firsthand knowledge from places who have already legalized cannabis -
travelling to Colorado and Washington State as well as receiving a
detailed outline from the government in Uruguay (the only country to
date that has a federal regulatory system for accessing cannabis).
And, while yes these are just recommendations, this is virtually the
ONLY information we have received from the government about how they
may move forward with legalization other than Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau's recent announcement urging police to enforce the current
marijuana laws - a stance that did not sit well for many.

So what did the government learn from their six-month-long task? Most
of it is common sense - and some of it is downright absurd. It's
almost like every great idea comes with a ridiculous caveat. But, the
prevailing reaction among stoners? It's a start!

Age of Requirement

On the common sense side of things, the Task Force recommends that
people 18 years and older be able to purchase legal cannabis. While
some public health experts suggested a minimum age of 25 to
accommodate a developing brain, the Task Force recognizes that any
higher of an age limit would negate the benefits of legalization since
evidence tells us the people who smoke the most weed are aged 18-24.

Edibles a Go

With recent crackdowns on edibles in Toronto and a ban on edible
marijuana sales under Vancouver's regulated dispensary model, many
wrote off any hopes of the government recognizing the value in
marijuana edibles. To many potheads' pleasant surprise, the Task Force
Report recommends that edibles be available, citing the huge demand
for them in Colorado and noting that edibles are a safer alternative
to smoking. Common sense takes a hit when they suggest a 10 mg THC
limit on such edibles, since most available right now range from 50
mg-200 mg. The report also suggests that edible cannabis treats "not
be appealing to children - such as candies and sweets." Since cannabis
needs high levels of fat in order to be absorbed into the body, being
"sweet" is the most manageable way for people to consume it orally.
There is a reason the pot brownie will never go out of style.

No LCBO? Room for Craft Cannabis

With recommendations that alcohol and tobacco not be sold together,
many people - users and teetotalers alike - are rejoicing in news that
the LCBO will not distribute legal cannabis. But this skeptical stoner
doesn't see the government monopoly giving up the opportunity that
easily. Yes, the report recommends that weed not be sold alongside
tobacco or alcohol, to prevent co-use "whenever possible," but it also
recommends the production and retail sales be regulated by the
province in collaboration with cities. Ontario's love affair with the
LCBO may still win out in the end. The good news is that the report
heard public demand for a diverse marketplace and recommends dedicated
storefronts as well as mail-order access. Another hopeful sign for
activists and entrepreneurs is the suggestion that governments use
"licencing and production controls to encourage a diverse, competitive
market that also includes small producers."

Support for Smoking Lounges

Perhaps the most practical recommendation is that of safe places for
people to smoke weed. As an employee at a smoking lounge, I know the
importance of these types of community building spaces. While,
unfortunately, the report does suggest cannabis and tobacco should be
treated the same in its ban from public places, it also urges
municipalities to permit dedicated places for people to use cannabis,
such as "lounges and tasting rooms."

Marketing Woes

If you're in marketing and looking for a new gig, the weed world ain't
the place. The task force's "think-ofthe-children" mentality is
pushing an anti-advertising stance when it comes to Canadian cannabis
in order to curtail use in people 25 and under. Packaging and
advertising rules currently used for tobacco are being suggested for
pot sales in Canada. Brands and logos will be allowed to help
customers distinguish legal weed from the stuff they got from 'their
guy.' Still no word on why the government makes money off the
advertising of alcohol sales to young adults.

Medical vs. Recreational

The report made sure to note that there should be a separate framework
for medical access to cannabis for patients in need. This is important
to activists like Jonathan Zaid, founder of Canadians for Fair Access
to Medical Marijuana, because as they see it, patients are already not
being as prioritized as they should be. The suggestion that the taxes
be the same for medical and recreational marijuana companies, however,
doesn't give much support to the Task Force's position. Another lapse
in judgment.

Grow Your Own

Green thumbs, rejoice: your garden plans just got a whole lot more
exciting! The report suggests the allowance of household marijuana
gardens similar to Colorado, Alaska and D.C. The difference? Those
places all allow for up to six plants while the task force recommends
a max of only four plants 100 cm in height. Just make sure you've got
your ruler handy.

30 Gram Limit

So how much weed can we get? Well, not that much. The report suggests
a maximum possession allowance of 30 grams ( just over an ounce).
That's like five Snoop-style blunts. For those of you who don't smoke,
an ounce to a pothead is like a 26-ounce bottle of vodka to a martini
lover. You really shouldn't drink the whole thing yourself, but among
a group of five or six, it seems like nothing. Plus, with the
allowance of home grows that would yield more than 30 grams,
fulfilling this mandate seems difficult if not impossible.
Criminalizing individuals who have more than 30 grams will threaten
the benefits of legalization.
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MAP posted-by: Matt