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Canadians spent 4.6 billion dollars on marijuana in 2017
OTTAWA, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) — Almost five million Canadians spent a total of 5.7 billion Canadian dollars (some 4.6 billion U.S. dollars) on consuming marijuana in 2017, an average of about 1,200 Canadian dollars each, Statistics Canada said in a report on Thursday.
The figure is one of the main takeaways of the report that attempts to quantify the size of the market leading up to legalization this summer.
Some 90 percent of the 5.7 billion Canadian dollars on marijuana last year were for illegal, non-medical purposes, and a number of assumptions, models and sparse data sources related to the production of the mostly illegal cannabis industry, the report said.
It also estimated that Canadians imported about 300 million Canadian dollars (roughly 240 billion U.S. dollars) worth of illegal marijuana last year while Canada exported 1.2 billion Canadian dollars worth of illegal cannabis last year, Statistics Canada revealed.
Statistics Canada back-dated its data to 1961 and calculated that the price of marijuana has, on average, increased by about 3.3 percent each year. The price of marijuana was 7.5 Canadian dollars (six U.S. dollars) a gram last year.
Medical marijuana goes to interim study committee
The Indiana House unanimously passed a resolution that would have an interim legislative study committee take up the issue of medical marijuana.
The committee, which would meet later next summer or fall, will explore whether there are medical benefits to the use of marijuana, which is currently classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Should medical marijuana be legal in Indiana?
The resolution also urges that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule II drug, which says that although the drug has a high potential for abuse, there are medical uses. Marijuana is currently in the same class as LSD and heroin while drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines are Schedule II drugs.
“Under a Schedule I drug, it says there are no medical benefits and it is highly addictive. It is very difficult to do deep scientific studies,” said author of the resolution, Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne.
Lehman said they are asking the study committee to look at what medical benefits come from marijuana and to find a delivery method other than inhalation and ingestion.
Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, co-authored the resolution and addressed the negative stigma surrounding marijuana. He presented physical examples of aspirin, cigarettes and alcohol, which he said are all substances that can have negative effects, but can still be purchased.
“Hey, it’s not the boogie man. The horror stories we are hearing aren’t true,” Lucas said.
Lucas and others who spoke noted that medical marijuana can help veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“There are veterans out there who want to see this. 22 veterans every day take their lives because of PTSD, depression, anxiety,” Lucas said. “What do we do? We prescribe them drugs that may cause suicide. That’s insane.”
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the resolution to study medical marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean it will pass in the future.
“I think we just need to know a lot more about it before we do anything and my mind can be changed,” Bosma said.
Lehman said that just because medical marijuana is going to a study committee, that doesn’t mean they will never hear from it again.
“I think this is something that all Hoosiers have said, ‘it’s time to move forward,’” Lehman said.
Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
Judge weighs ban on smoking medical marijuana
TALLAHASSEE — After spending more than five years pleading with the Florida Legislature to legalize medical marijuana, Cathy Jordan and her husband, Bob, were back in Tallahassee on Thursday.
But this time, the Bradenton couple appeared in a Leon County courtroom, asking a judge to overturn a state law that bans patients who qualify to use medical marijuana — like Cathy Jordan, who has suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease for more than three decades — from smoking their treatment.
Florida voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment authorizing patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use pot, if their doctors order the treatment. The Legislature in June passed a law to carry out the constitutional amendment, which was largely bankrolled by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan.
The law bans smoking medical marijuana, something Morgan, Jordan and their lawyers argue violates the constitutional amendment.
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers heard arguments Thursday focused on a state request to have the case dismissed, with the Jordans seated beside lawyers Jon Mills and George Coe, who represent the plaintiffs. Cathy Jordan, other patients and People United for Medical Marijuana, the political committee led by Morgan, are suing the state over the smoking prohibition.
State Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby told Gievers that banning marijuana smoking was within the Legislature’s realm.
“The plain language of the medical-marijuana amendment authorizes the Legislature to enact laws consistent with the amendment. Here, the Legislature has enacted a law that embodies reasonable health and safety concerns in compliance with the amendment,” Nordby argued, adding that “there is no express requirement that smoking has to be allowed” in the amendment.
Mills, a former House speaker and former dean of the University of Florida law school, agreed that the Constitution doesn’t expressly require the Legislature to allow smoking.
“It doesn’t. It doesn’t require the Legislature to do that because the Constitution itself allows smoking. There’s no need for the Constitution to say, ‘Legislature, you may allow smoking, or must,’ ” he said.
The Constitution allows smokable marijuana in a variety of ways, including how marijuana is defined, Mills argued.
The constitutional amendment relied on the 2014 definition of marijuana in Florida criminal law, which includes “all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not.” That includes whole-flower marijuana, which is used for smoking, according to Mills.
The state also argued that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs lack standing.
But Mills maintained that Jordan has standing to sue because she has a debilitating illness that qualifies her for marijuana use under the Constitution, and that her doctor has authorized her to use smokable marijuana as a treatment.
“The Constitution was designed for people like Cathy Jordan. Cathy has ALS, and she’s been treated with medical marijuana. I believe that’s plenty,” Mills told reporters.
The state smoking ban is “inconsistent” with the language of the Constitution, which provides a process to determine whether an individual may qualify for “medical use” of marijuana, Mills argued. By prohibiting smoking, the Legislature is substituting its judgment for that of a Florida doctor, a conflict with the process laid out in the Constitution, Mills maintained.
“This is the controversy. The controversy is whether the statute has denied access,” he said.
Morgan has repeatedly argued that a provision in the constitutional amendment authorizing lawmakers to ban smoking of marijuana in public places means that smoking is permitted elsewhere.
Even if smoking marijuana is prohibited in public places, “you can’t restrict smoking inside when there’s a medical condition that justifies it,” Mills said after the hearing.
Gievers on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to a separate marijuana-related lawsuit filed by Joe Redner, a Tampa strip club owner who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, challenging the state’s prohibition against patients growing their own marijuana.
In her order denying the state’s request to dismiss the Redner case, Gievers wrote that the 2014 statutory definitions of marijuana “make clear that the plaintiff’s interpretation of the meaning of words used is supported, and justified,” a finding Mills said supports his case.
After hearing Thursday’s arguments, Gievers said she would try to issue a ruling quickly.
Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Bob Jordan related the couple’s lengthy battle over his wife’s treatment.
Deputies raided the couple’s Manatee County home in 2013 and confiscated marijuana plants. But prosecutors decided not to charge the Jordans after Norm Kent, their lawyer, convinced them Cathy needed the pot to treat her disease.
Cathy Jordan has to smoke whole-flower cannabis because she can’t use vaporizers, Bob said.
“The vape makes her gag. If she gags, it can kill her,” he said.
Cathy Jordan has consulted with more than 30 neurologists, and none have told her to stop smoking marijuana, which has successfully treated her condition for about two decades, her husband said.
“The Legislature has taken the place of doctors telling us what we can and cannot do,” Bob Jordan said. “We voted for a constitutional amendment so we couldn’t be prosecuted for smoking cannabis. We’re still in danger.”
Indiana House recommends study committee look into legalizing medicinal marijuana
Indiana House Calls for Study of Medical Marijuana
[unable to retrieve full-text content]"I'm not up here to sell cannabis as being the end-all-be-all magic bullet. It's like anything else: it works for some, it doesn't work for others," Lucas said. "One of the biggest challenges we as a legislative body are going to face is coming through all the smoke, all the fear mongering, all the stigma, the …
Source: Indiana House Calls for Study of Medical Marijuana
Why a Pot 'Breathalyzer' Won't Work
[unable to retrieve full-text content]It's really tricky to measure how much marijuana a person has used on a given day — and how impaired their driving may be as the result of that use — a new opinion piece says. Amid the more widespread legalization of marijuana, there are calls for a roadside test — similar to a Breathalyzer — to …
Source: Why a Pot 'Breathalyzer' Won't Work
NSLC searching for cannabis suppliers ahead of legalization
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is starting to search for cannabis suppliers as it prepares for the legalization of recreational marijuana this summer.
The Nova Scotia government has appointed the NSLC as the retailer of recreational marijuana in the province.
The corporation says it wants to hear from licensed cannabis producers interested in becoming a vendor partner.
“In order to be ready for the summer launch date, we have a lot of work to do and it is going to happen quickly,” said the NSLC in a document posted on the Nova Scotia government’s tender website.
“For that reason, we wanted to reach out to the supplier community as soon as possible in the process.”
The NSLC says a more formal expression of interest process will begin next month.
The document also gives some insight into what kind of products will be sold in stores and online. It indicates that the NSLC expects to sell cannabis in five sub-categories:
- Dried flowers
- Clones and seeds
- Oil extract
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have all set their legal age for marijuana at 19, but they are taking different approaches to selling it.
The New Brunswick government announced in the fall that a subsidiary of NB Liquor will operate 20 stores in 15 locations across the province when recreational cannabis is legalized.
P.E.I. will also sell marijuana at standalone outlets run separately by its liquor commission, while Nova Scotia has decided that pot will be sold alongside alcohol in some NSLC stores.
As for suppliers, New Brunswick has already signed deals with four companies: Nuuvera Inc., Organigram, Canopy Growth Corp., and Zenabis.
According to the Prince Edward Island government website, the province is entering into agreements with three companies: Canada’s Island Garden, OrganiGram, and Canopy Growth Corp.
With files from The Canadian Press
Developing a roadside test for marijuana intoxication isn't as easy as it sounds
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
As the movement to legalize marijuana in the United States gains momentum, researchers worry about keeping the public safe, particularly on the roads. Recent studies in which marijuana users took controlled doses of cannabis in the lab have identified new biomarkers that can be used to estimate a person’s recent cannabinoid intake. But, using those markers to judge cognitive and behavioral impairment is complex, say toxicologists in a commentary published on January 25 in a special issue of the journal Trends in Molecular Medicine on biomarkers of substance abuse.
“There is no one blood or oral fluid concentration that can differentiate impaired and not impaired,” says Marilyn Huestis, who spent over 20 years leading cannabinoid-related research projects at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s not like we need to say, ‘Oh, let’s do some more research and give you an answer.’ We already know. We’ve done the research.”
Alcohol can impair a user more than cannabis, and indeed, the risk of an accident while driving increases in proportion with blood alcohol concentrations. But pot is different: many variables can affect how impaired someone is at any given concentration of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive agent in cannabinoids. Whether it is inhaled or consumed, or whether the user titrates their own dose, can affect the level of impairment. And pairing cannabis with alcohol makes the high higher, and the alcohol buzz last longer.
Another problem is that THC quickly leaves the bloodstream. Previous research by Huestis has shown that while an occasional user is impaired for 6 to 8 hours, blood THC concentrations can be effectively zero after 2.5 hours. And on average in the United States, it takes from 1.4-4 hours after a crash or traffic stop to administer a blood test. “If someone is driving impaired, by the time you get their blood sample, you’ve lost 90% or more of the drug. So, we have to change what we do at the roadside,” says Huestis.
Long-term daily cannabis users, like those who use marijuana for medical reasons, also present a challenge for developing roadside protocols. THC accumulates in the tissues of the body and then slowly releases over time, meaning that chronic users can test positive for cannabis even after 30 days of abstinence. Psychomotor impairment can be observed three weeks after the last dose. “You want people to be taking medicinal cannabinoids and now you know that their driving is going to be impacted,” says Huestis. “So how do you handle that problem?”
Huestis, like most researchers, doesn’t support a legal driving limit for cannabis like the one in place for blood alcohol concentrations. Instead, she advocates for well-trained police officers who can identify the behavioral signs of impairment and less invasive biological marker tests, which could be immediately performed at the roadside to confirm the presence of a cannabinoid. To that end, recent research has identified new blood and urine markers, and tests using breath and saliva markers are being developed.
The implications go beyond driving. These new markers and tests could also be used to assist in treating drug dependence, in determining appropriate therapeutic levels of medical marijuana, and for monitoring women who want to stop using cannabinoids during pregnancy.
Huestis, who also owns a toxicology consulting company with her co-author, Michael Smith, isn’t opposed to legalization. But she does want to make sure that marijuana’s status as a legal drug and a medicine doesn’t make us complacent. “Cannabis probably is less dangerous to use than alcohol,” she says. “There’s less morbidity and mortality associated with it, but there’s still a lot of problems. And we as a public are not recognizing this.”
Explore further: With legal pot comes a problem—how do we weed out impaired drivers?
More information: Trends in Molecular Medicine, Huestis and Smith: “Cannabinoid Markers in Biological Fluids and Tissues: Revealing Intake” http://www.cell.com/trends/molecular-medicine/fulltext/S1471-4914(17)30229-0 , DOI: 10.1016/j.molmed.2017.12.006
Hedge fund says cannabis stocks will either collapse or we should all move to Canada and grow pot
A multibillion-dollar hedge fund is not high on marijuana stocks.
Lakewood Capital Management, led by Anthony Bozza, revealed short positions in Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, according to the firm’s fourth-quarter investor letter sent Wednesday and obtained by CNBC. The firm has about $5 billion in assets under management.
“It has been hard to come across a retail investor rag or stock blog without hearing about some way to play this theme, and countless web sites are now devoted to investing in this exciting industry,” Bozza wrote. “Despite recent mania around the legalization of recreational pot in California, there is a little problem: none of these companies sell at all into California (or anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter), since that would, of course, be illegal.”
Bozza notes that much of the “appeal” surrounding these stocks recently stems from “regulatory momentum, constant press coverage, growing public acceptance, an absence of large incumbents and an enormous, rapidly expanding market opportunity.” But, he adds, that the barriers to entry for the industry are very low and that the number of licensed producers in Canada is growing rapidly.
Bozza estimates that Canopy Growth’s production capacity can be recreated for less than 150 million Canadian dollars and Aurora’s for CA$100 million. Canopy Growth’s market cap is around CA$6.6 billion, while Aurora’s is CA$6.2 billion.
“Simply, we believe it is not a matter of if, but when these stock prices collapse…otherwise we should all be moving to Canada and growing pot,” Bozza wrote.
For its part, Aurora was not troubled by the Lakewood position.
“We don’t worry too much about shorts,” said Cam Battley, the company’s chief corporate officer. ” Shorts on us and other companies in the sector have been forced to cover repeatedly.”
Bozza said that Lakewood’s net return for 2017 was 8.3 percent with “nearly everything” working on the long side. The firm’s shorts were a bit more challenged.
Like other long-short equity hedge fund managers, Bozza remains frustrated by the way the market is measuring growth versus value stocks. Higher-valued growth stocks outperformed value stocks again last year, he said.
“This dynamic has created ongoing challenges for many investors that employ value-oriented long approaches as well as stock-specific short selling approaches like we do here at Lakewood,” Bozza wrote. “While I unfortunately have no idea when value investing will be particularly ‘in vogue’ and when higher-valued stocks may once again sharply lag the broader market (as they have historically done), I am certain such an environment will inevitably return.
Bozza also disclosed a long investment in BMW.
Lakewood declined to comment. Canopy and Aurora did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Illinois Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Marijuana Legalization
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cited a racial disparity in enforcement of laws against the use of marijuana as the reason she now favors legalization of the … Preckwinkle made her assertion during a public hearing Monday in Chicago about legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois.
Source: Illinois Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Marijuana Legalization