Medical-cannabis patients who use illegal cannabis dispensaries
instead of turning to other legal and black-market sources do so
because they feel safe at these shops and like that they have reliable
supplies of the specific strains they want, according to new research
from the University of British Columbia.
Rielle Capler, a PhD student and the study's lead author, said the
results can help give Ottawa and provincial governments an idea of
what consumers want as they look toward legalizing the drug some time
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Dianne McIntosh is continually alarmed by the teens who come into her
Vancouver office telling the psychiatrist that they use cannabis to
treat their mental-health issues because it's a natural - and harmless
- - substance.
"It's a natural product? So is tobacco, so is alcohol, these are all
natural products," Dr. McIntosh said. With the federal Liberal
government saying that cutting down on teen cannabis use is a core
reason it is pushing to legalize the drug next year, Dr. McIntosh and
a panel of three other experts are gathering in Richmond, B.C., on
Sunday to clear the air about the dangers young people face when using
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With cannabis legalization on the horizon next year, the federal
government must make it easier to study the potential medical benefits
of the drug and evaluate how ending prohibition might affect society,
according to an open letter to politicians from dozens of the
country's leading academics and public-health researchers who study
"Under widespread global prohibition, cannabis research has been
limited by the criminalization and stigmatization of cannabis use and
users, leading to substantial gaps in knowledge around the harms and
benefits of both medical and non-medical cannabis," reads a letter
sent Monday to federal lawmakers on the letterhead of the BC Centre on
Substance Use, an organization funded by the provincial government to
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Educating teenagers about the safety of recreational drug use is an
age-old conundrum for Canada, one at the forefront as the country
pushes ahead with legalizing marijuana by next year
The ad shows four pretty young women laughing as their convertible
rips past the picturesque Rockies on a warm sunny day, the driver -
eyes narrowed slightly - joyfully passing a doobie to her friend.
In the next one, a hip young guy with high-top dreadlocks pinches a
smouldering joint (backwards) in one hand and adjusts the car stereo
with his other as his date leaves her house and approaches in a red
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One of Canada's largest medical cannabis producers says it will fund a
Nova Scotia man's ongoing legal fight to have his marijuana
prescription paid for by his employee-insurance plan - the latest move
in a nationwide push by industry, patients and their advocates for
more widespread cannabis coverage.
Aurora Cannabis Inc., a publicly traded grower based in Alberta,
announced this week that it will bankroll elevator mechanic Gordon
Skinner's coming defence this fall in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
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Cannabis has been identified as a potential substitute for users of
legal or illicit opioids, but a new Vancouver-based study shows the
drug may also help reduce people's cravings for another highly
addictive substance: crack cocaine.
Scientists at the BC Centre on Substance Use tracked 122 people who
consumed crack in and around Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over a
three-year period and found they reported using that drug less
frequently when they opted to also consume cannabis.
"We're not saying that these results mean everyone will be able to
smoke a joint and forget the fact that they are dependent on crack,"
said M.J. Milloy, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the centre
and senior author of the study. "What our findings do suggest is that
cannabinoids might play a role in reducing the harms of crack use for
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The leaders of British Columbia's three main political parties have
all spent time on the campaign trail praising its craft-beer industry,
but none has said much about one of the other most popular intoxicants
widely produced throughout the province: cannabis.
Ottawa is expected to legalize the drug as early as July 1, 2018,
which means provinces and territories must get to work solving
contentious policy issues of regulating the wholesale distribution and
retailing of cannabis.
Critics worry B.C. could fall behind other regions of Canada and lose
its advantage as a province whose illegal-cannabis industry has long
put millions of dollars into the pockets of thousands of underground
growers and sellers.
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A siege-like atmosphere pervades cannabis shops still in operation as
they contend with threats from armed thieves, and the city
After the battering ram smashed through the front door, the officers
quickly rounded up everyone and handcuffed them inside the small shop
at Yonge and Wellesley.
The customers were soon let go, but Neev Tapiero, the owner of
Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM), Toronto's oldest dispensary, was
held under arrest for three hours and charged with drug trafficking as
part of a one-day crackdown on 43 marijuana dispensaries last May.
Federal drug prosecutors have since stayed or withdrawn charges on 36
of the people nabbed in the citywide sweep while another 10 still face
trial for selling marijuana outside Ottawa's mail-order system for
registered medica lcannabis patients.
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New marijuana bill relies on recommendations of McLellan's panel; she
also works with 'go-to' advisory firm in the industry
As the federal government prepares to legalize marijuana, questions
are being raised about a former Liberal minister's role in shaping
that legislation while working for a prominent law firm poised to
capitalize on the lucrative new industry.
The new bill being unveiled Thursday in Ottawa relies heavily upon the
recommendations of a federal task force chaired by former Liberal
deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, a senior adviser at Bennett Jones
LLP. In addition to promoting itself as the "go-to" advisory firm in
the marijuana sector, Bennett Jones and a dozen of its lawyers are
listed on securities documents as being granted stakes in one of the
companies positioned to profit from legalization.
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Ottawa's plan to legalize marijuana by next year could hit serious
roadblocks across the country, as provinces and territories are
expected to have different approaches to solving complicated policy
issues such as where to sell cannabis and how much to tax the drug.
The government signalled this weekend it expects to roll out
legislation before April 20 - a day cannabis is celebrated across the
globe - and that the recreational use of the drug would reportedly be
legalized by July 1, 2018.
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The majority of Victoria's illegal pot shops have applied for the
city's special new business licence, but more than a dozen not engaged
in the process could soon face court-ordered injunctions aimed at
shutting them down.
At the same time, the local health authority says a recent anonymous
complaint about the cleanliness of one of these dispensaries has led
to it outlawing the controversial sale of baked goods and candies in
these stores, an issue that a city bylaw created last year purposely
did not address.
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A former Liberal cabinet minister who recently chaired a panel guiding
Ottawa's push to legalize cannabis says police everywhere should
enforce the existing prohibition of marijuana, despite several
communities in British Columbia choosing to regulate - not raid -
illegal pot shops.
Anne McLellan, head of an official task force that submitted
recommendations to Ottawa on how best to legalize cannabis, said
Thursday that Vancouver crafted Canada's first municipal marijuana
bylaw in response to what was a "growing difficult situation for them."
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More than half the medical-marijuana patients in a new study said they
use cannabis to help them get off heavier prescription drugs, with the
largest percentage saying pot acts as a substitute painkiller for opioids.
The new research, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal
of Drug Policy but funded by a licensed cannabis grower Tilray, adds
to a small body of science that suggests patients are effectively
using marijuana to replace opioids, a class of legal and illicit
painkillers that has led to an ongoing crisis that killed hundreds of
Canadians last year.
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The Supreme Court has ruled that specifically trained officers can be
experts in drugged-driving trials
Police officers trained to recognize if drivers are high can be
treated as experts in drugged driving trials without a preliminary
examination of the evidence, the Supreme Court has ruled in a decision
that could help expedite such prosecutions once marijuana is
The 5-2 decision in the case of an Ottawa motorist comes as the
federal Liberal government prepares to bring in a law legalizing the
recreational use of pot this spring, with a rise in cannabis-impaired
driving singled out as a key risk to public safety.
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An illegal cannabis dispensary in Toronto has filed a suit in Federal
Court to enshrine its right to sell the drug to its patients, alleging
Canada's current mail-order medical marijuana system does not provide
reasonable access to pot.
Phytos Apothecary and Wellness Centre alleges that, despite a Federal
Court ruling last year overturning the medical marijuana rules to
allow patients to grow cannabis at home, the current system still
creates "significant and undue burdens" for thousands of sick
Canadians trying to get reasonable access to the drug of their choice.
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Vancouver's approach to regulating illegal marijuana dispensaries is
working, says the councillor who helped develop Canada's first
municipal pot licensing regime, even if almost half of the stores
continue to operate outside the bylaw.
Councillor Kerry Jang, point person for the governing Vision Vancouver
party on the marijuana file, said that regardless of how long it takes
to shut down these rogue shops, the city's regulatory program - not
police raids - is paying off. The strategy is meeting the city's
public-health goals of stamping out sales to minors and cutting down
on the armed robberies now plaguing Toronto's illegal dispensary sector.
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Nova Scotia's human-rights board has ruled that a man suffering from
chronic pain must have his marijuana prescription paid for by his
employee-insurance plan, with advocates saying the decision opens the
door for patients across Canada to push for similar cannabis coverage.
Gordon Skinner, from a community just outside Halifax, had argued that
he faced discrimination when he was denied coverage by the Canadian
Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Plan. He has been using medical
cannabis to treat pain from an on-the-job car accident that forced him
from work as an elevator mechanic more than six years ago.
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Toronto and Vancouver have taken different approaches to dispensaries
selling ahead of legalization
David Malmo-Levine has had numerous run-ins with Vancouver police in
more than two decades fighting for the legalization of marijuana, the
most intense being the time he says he was dragged by handcuffs while
attempting to block a raid of a downtown cannabis seed store in the
So, he said he was pleasantly surprised in May, 2015, when police
returned several thousand dollars worth of bongs and cannabis products
that had been stolen by a man who smashed a stolen minivan through the
storefront of his illegal East Vancouver dispensary.
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Canada's organized-crime groups and gangs are much less likely to
produce and traffic marijuana than they are other illicit drugs such
as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, according to a new federal
study that tracked drug violations from police forces in four cities
across three provinces.
The new report from Statistics Canada analyzed all drug-related
violations over a two-year period in Victoria, Vancouver, Regina and
Waterloo, Ont., and found that police linked organized crime to 39 per
cent of all cannabis-trafficking charges and 6 per cent of cases
involving the production of marijuana.
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A new U.S. government-funded report showing clear evidence cannabis is
an effective remedy for those with chronic pain underscores the need
for more research into how marijuana can help fight the deadly opioid
crisis ravaging North America, according to one of Canada's leading
A report released Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering and Medicine outlined nearly 100 conclusions about the
benefits and harms of cannabis on a range of public health and safety
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