Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Will Canada's New Cannabis Laws Create a New Border Problem?

With Canada legalizing adult-use marijuana, effective October 17, 2018, it is expected that Canadian citizens will partake in this new industry, either through consumption or investment means. While the substance may be legal in Canada, and a few U.S. states that border Canada, crossing the border could become difficult. 


In an interview with The Star Vancouver, Len Sanders, a Washington based immigration attorney, explained how the federally controlled U.S.-Canada border has begun to classify those in the marijuana industry as "drug traffickers." He went on to say that this enforcement applies to people involved with the actual plant, such as growers, users, and dispensary owners, to people who have either directly invested or their investment will be used in the cannabis industry. He mentions how the CEO and two employees of Keirton Inc. (a large agriculture equipment manufacturer)  were stopped at the border and moved to a secondary location only to be told that they were banned for life from entering the United States. Keirton Inc. was not the only group to face this punishment. In an interview with the Financial Post, Sam Zneimar was banned for life simply for investing in U.S. based marijuana companies. 

 In this current administration, U.S. citizens have seen a big push for more enforcement at our Southern border and a new wave of keeping America "safe". But will the same hold true on the other side of the country? In both interviews the offending party expressed sympathy for the poor border patrol agent that was made to enforce this law. These articles both mention a civil interaction between a "drug trafficker" and a border patrol agent and an unfortunate outcome. The U.S. has yet to tweet about the "drug traffickers" that are attempting to get into the U.S. through Northern points of Entry. 

 --Loren D. Elkins


With the legalization efforts coming out of Mexico, it should be interesting to see how those investors will be greeted at the border.                         

September 27, 2018 in Business, Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Finance, International Regulation, Law Enforcement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Employment law and marijuana: The view from the Great White North

AaaAmerican states that have legalized marijuana have been wrestling with the question of how to deal with it in the workplace.  On the one hand,  employers have legitimate reasons to want employees to refrain from using it on the job.  On the other, medical marijuana raises issues regarding discrimination against those with medical conditions.

While the American courts have been addressing things in a piecemeal fashion, all Canadian provinces and territories will have to deal with the issue beginning on October 17, which is Day 1 of the new Marijuana Era there.  Employment lawyer Patrick Essaminy of Montréal's Stikeman Elliott LLP  discusses the looming issue on an interesting new podcast.  There is a lot of good discussion, but Essaminy points out some of the difficulties employers will have in dealing with employees who are impaired at work.  What should employers do?

This is a very interesting question and a great challenge for employers in that, unlike alcohol testing, testing for cannabis is tricky. The first priority for employers should be to ensure that their workplace is safe and that any employees that are demonstrating signs of impairment be managed accordingly.

In the world of law enforcement officers rely on the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, also called the SFST. Drug recognition experts are highly trained under the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program and employers can certainly decide to implement testing based on these sophisticated programs. However for now, we can talk about the standard signs of impairment which by the way can be the result of cannabis use, but also in other cases it can be when someone is simply fatigued or overworked.

Given that random testing or testing without proper justification is difficult in Canada, we recommend that employers manage situations of potential impairment by properly training their managers to recognize signs of impairment, whatever the cause is, and to act upon these signs by meeting with the employees, and if necessary removing the employees from the workplace in order to protect both the affected employee and any other people that may come into contact with that employee.

Some of the signs that employers need to be sensitive to in assessing whether someone is impaired include the following: glossy or red eyes; slurred speech; poor coordination; lack of focus or concentration; someone who is easily irritable or demonstrates inappropriate or emotional responses. Other signs may include an unsteady posture, someone whose personal hygiene or appearance is getting worse, someone who has a delayed reaction or appears to have an increased appetite while at work.

I want to emphasize that all of these signs should make an employer proactively react, but it does not mean that the employer can conclude automatically that an employee is impaired as a result of the use of cannabis. That said, the obligation of an employer is to ensure health and safety at the workplace and therefore the cause of the impairment is not the relevant immediate concern in this case. There may be other situations where an employer may be reacting to a near miss, an incident, or a serious accident, which will warrant specific testing and that is a whole different topic.

--Frank Snyder



September 16, 2018 in Business, International Regulation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Canadian pot investors face potential US entry problems

AaaMarijuana will soon be legal in Canada, but is still illegal in the United States.  This means that those who are involved in cannabis businesses in the Great White North may find themselves running into trouble at the U.S. border as they attempt to enter the country.

Over at MarketWatch, reporter Jeremy C. Owens runs down some of the issues:

Todd Owen — a senior officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, overseeing border operations — told Politico in an interview published Thursday that border agents would still seek to permanently ban any foreign visitor who admits to working or investing in the cannabis industry, or admits to have taken the drug, even after recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

MarketWatch confirmed that stance in an email exchange with a CBP spokeswoman, who said investors could face a permanent ban from entering the U.S.

“Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” spokeswoman Stephanie Malin said in a statement.

In a follow-up exchange, Malin confirmed that investing in publicly traded marijuana companies, including those traded legally on U.S. exchanges, is considered “facilitation” of illicit drug trade under CBP policy.

“That’s the first [time] I’ve actually heard them say a Canadian-only enterprise is an illegal enterprise for U.S. entry purposes,” said Scott Railton, a lawyer at Cascadia Cross-Border Law in Bellingham, Wash.

. . .

Lawyers who spoke with MarketWatch said guards at the border have the freedom to ask any questions they deem fit.

”They have really absolute power, in a nutshell,” Preshaw said.

At least until the situation in the U.S. changes, those entering from Canada will have this issue.  But it would be incredibly dumb for such visitors to lie to U.S. border agents.  Investing in a marijuana business may prevent you from entering the U.S.  Lying about it will get you entry into the U.S., but as a resident of a federal corrections facility.

--Frank Snyder


September 15, 2018 in Federal Regulation, International Regulation, Law Enforcement, Recreational Marijuana, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Preventing youth access to weed: Canada's approach


Canada's policy of allowing marijuana to be delivered legally has brought up several tough questions. According to Perrin Grauer, writing for The Star, the questions are mainly about how the government will prevent the drug from getting into the hands of minors.

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Board (BCLDB) says that a valid ID will still be required for verification purposes at the point of delivery before the cannabis is released into the customer's possession. 

The packages are also being sealed in odor-proof containers, with nondescript external packaging. The goal of these policies is to prevent recreational cannabis use from causing undue harm to children. Michael Bramwell, a Vancouver father working in law enforcement, suggested that legalization may ultimately make children safer in relation to cannabis use.

“If you’re restrictive, (kids) are gonna go behind your back,” Bramwell said in an interview in August. “Kids are still getting drunk at bush parties. Or when they do hit (legal) age, they’re going to go buck wild, and go too crazy.”

Bramwell emphasized that he does not feel as if there’s nothing to worry about. Rather, he hopes legalization will take some of the glamour of taboo out of cannabis use, and make safe, educated engagement with drugs an easier topic for families to broach.

“(The) prohibitive mindset is not the best way to handle parenting,” Bramwell said. “With anything. Including marijuana.”

Other countries considering legalization of marijuana and allowing its legal delivery may be able to look to Canada to determine whether they should use similar methods as well. 

--Alex Bennett

September 13, 2018 in Drug Policy, International Regulation, Law Enforcement, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

One border, two approaches

AaaThe traditional picture of the US-Mexico marijuana trade involves drug cartels bringing Mexican weed into the US.  But according to a piece from San Diego's KPBS, Mexico’s Demand For Potent California Marijuana Creates Southbound Smuggling, the flow increasingly is going the other way.

California’s cultivation of marijuana has created an unprecedented phenomenon: southbound smuggling of the drug across the U.S.-Mexico border.


Mexico’s demand for potent California strains is on the rise as Mexican drug cartels have mostly failed to make a competitive homegrown product.


“If you’re in Mexico, and you want the best marijuana out there, there’s only one place to get it,” said Matthew Shapiro, a San Diego-based attorney who specializes in marijuana. “There’s no such thing as high-quality Mexican weed.”


California’s initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use could further boost southbound smuggling, experts on both sides of the border told KPBS. It would make it easier for Tijuana residents with visas or dual citizenship to access California’s more potent strains — and bring it back to Mexico.


It’s illegal to move marijuana from the U.S. to Mexico, just as it’s illegal to move the drug from Mexico into the U.S. But it’s easier to smuggle southbound. At the San Ysidro Port of Entry, drivers can cross the border into Tijuana without ever stopping to speak with a Mexican official.

This shift in perception has become a motivating factor in the recent changes to Mexico's own drug laws, including a suggestion by a Mexican government official back in February that Mexico may consider legalization:

"Colorado, California and the other states that have legalized marijuana have in some ways put the U.S. in a really awkward position," said David Shirk, a Mexico security analyst and professor at the University of San Diego. "On one hand, we are telling our friends like Mexico we want you have to have a zero tolerance policy on illicit drugs while at the same time we have let the camel's nose under the tent when it comes to marijuana."


The U.S. and Mexico, both signatories of United Nations counternarcotics treaties, have cooperated in drug busts and marijuana eradication efforts for decades.


"There is a significant contradiction in current U.S. policy that Mexico and other countries will begin to use as a basis for modifying their own drug policies," Shirk said.

 --Loren D. Elkins

September 11, 2018 in Drug Policy, International Regulation, Law Enforcement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Canadian Department of National Defense to regulate military members' cannabis use

AaaThe Canadian military is planning ahead for the October 17 legalization of cannabis to take effect, by beginning to draft rules to regulate soldiers' cannabis use. For example, some would be banned from using cannabis at least 24 hours before they handle loaded firearms, among other things. 

Global News reports

According to an internal draft of the military’s cannabis policy, members will be banned from consuming marijuana eight hours before duty, once it’s legalized.

In some situations, both consumption and possession of cannabis would be banned, including when a military member is deployed to an international operation, except for a period of authorized leave.

Cannabis would also be banned in any vessel, vehicle and aircraft under the military’s authority.

Developing policy for military members' use of cannabis gives one more insight into the many regulations that must take shape to successfully integrate a country into a cannabis-legal era. 

--Manda Mosley Maier 

September 9, 2018 in International Regulation, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Big Pharma Collects Most Canadian Cannabis Patents

AaaThat's the title of a new look at the about-to-explode Canadian market for marijuana conducted by Grow Biotech and New Frontier Data.  In one sense this isn't surprising--big companies have big R&D budgets and big patent-prosecution operations.  On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of patents for something that's still highly illegal.  From the study:

Seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are major multi-national pharmaceutical companies, according to a joint research project between Washington D.C. based New Frontier Data, the global authority in data, analytics, and business intelligence for the cannabis industry, and London based cannabis bio-technology firm, Grow Biotech .

“Big Pharma’s inevitable entrance into the Cannabis space has arrived.  The top nine medical conditions for which Cannabis can be used as an alternative treatment could cannibalize as much as $20 billion in U.S. pharmaceutical sales in the next two years. As more medicinal applications for the plant are discovered, and more physicians and patients integrate cannabis into treatment regimes, the potential impact of cannabis on healthcare will continue to grow for years to come,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer.

Leading Canada’s Cannabis Patent Race

CIBA-GEIGY AG (Switzerland): 21
PFIZER PRODUCTS INC. (United States of America): 14
GW PHARMA LIMITED (United Kingdom): 13
MERCK SHARP & DOHME CORP (United States of America): 11
OGEDA S.A. (Belgium): 7
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT (United States of America): 6

With Canada poised to be the first G-7 country to fully legalize cannabis, firms have been racing to secure protectable intellectual property (IP) before the market launches an adult use market later this year.  Notably, pharmaceutical firms are among the leading cannabis patent holders in Canada. These patents, which would have been difficult to enforce while cannabis remained illegal, will become enforceable post-legalization, giving the patent holders a key strategic advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

--Frank Snyder

September 6, 2018 in Business, International Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Critics question new Canadian marijuana saliva test


The Canadian government has approved a new saliva test for drugged driving.  Not everyone seems to be happy with it, especially because it doesn't seem to really work well below about 40 degrees F.  I understand there are parts of Canada where it sometimes gets colder than that . . . .

--Frank Snyder


September 4, 2018 in Drug Policy, International Regulation, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Cannabis legalization and healthcare costs: Public policy options

Policy QuestionWith the Great White North bracing for greatly increased cannabis availability,  Canada's Policy Options magazine has a thoughtful new article on how to minimize the potential health risks, Pulling levers to mitigate health costs of cannabis.  The authors are Rebecca Jesseman and Matthew Young from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.  From the article:

Legalization of cannabis in Canada has potential benefits — lower criminal justice costs, new government and private revenue sources — but we must also recognize the public health costs of cannabis use. It’s vital to ensure that governments at all levels use the available policy levers to reduce these costs.

A very helpful graph notes the various "levers" that policy-makers can use to help change consumer behaviors.  The authors continue:

Canada has the chance to provide international leadership for a public health approach to cannabis. Realizing that opportunity means applying the available policy levers based on the evidence we currently have and calibrating them according to the evidence we gather after legalization. It means prioritizing public health over revenue generation something we have not done well with alcohol. It means providing Canadians the information they need to make responsible, educated decisions about cannabis use by scaling up prevention and education initiatives and promoting guidelines for lower-risk cannabis use. It means equipping our health system to support those who encounter problems with use by addressing existing gaps in tools and information for primary care providers. It means improving and increasing specialized services for youth, Indigenous people and those who live in rural or remote communities. Protecting public health also involves protecting public safety, which includes improving education and enforcement capacity to reduce cannabis-impaired driving.

Cannabis has been the most commonly used illegal drug in Canada and internationally for many years. Legalization provides an opportunity to reduce the many costs of a criminal justice approach. It also comes with the risk of increasing public health costs if we fail to make good use of the policy levers available at all levels of government by investing in effective prevention, education and treatment programs. Many countries are looking to Canada to inform their own decisions about cannabis regulation. We have an opportunity to demonstrate that legalization does not have to lead to commercialization. What’s more, it can be an opportunity to reduce public health costs by opening the door to a better understanding of the risks and benefits of use, and to honest dialogue with youth and other consumers about reducing those risks.

--Frank Snyder

August 24, 2018 in Drug Policy, International Regulation, Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 20, 2018

UK MMJ Update

Good Morning Britain: Medical marijuana is making a move in the United Kingdom.  Here's the video.



August 20, 2018 in Drug Policy, International Regulation, News, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canada looking at "Uber for Pot"

Weed-carIf it's too much trouble to go to the dispensary, an Edmonton company wants to bring it to you.  It's open question, though, whether Alberta officials will allow it to launch.  The Canadian Broadcasting Company has the story:

Called Save the Drive, the business is set to launch a mobile application when cannabis becomes legal Oct. 17.

CEO Chanel Graham sees a need for the service among medical users who are ho mebound, can't drive, or among recreational users who are intoxicated and unable to drive.

"This is something that would be needed and in demand in Canada," Graham said. "And it's something that we can offer to keep drivers off the road."

The company would employ three full-time and six part-time employees and then at least 200 drivers who are paid per delivery.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will have to decide whether it wants to keep its monopoly or open things up to competition.

--Frank Snyder


August 20, 2018 in Business, International Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News, Politics, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Marijuana production in Canada expected to grow

Canada Cannabis FlagCannabis production in Canada seems to be looking up, as at the country's top  licensed marijuana producer, Canopy Growth Corp., is set to double its production. Reuters reports that growers are rushing to ensure product to all Canadians who will be legally capable of purchasing recreational marijuana by July of next year.  Canopy's substantial increase, which will involve a C$21 million investment to upgrade its facility, is in response to an unexpected shortage in supply.  From the report:

“This is a very big leap, in terms of our output, our capacity, our footprint,” Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth’s CEO, said in an interview.


Canopy Growth is currently licensed to produce 31,000 kilograms of marijuana and related products, and aims to triple that by July next year, the deadline the federal government has given provinces to make pot legal for all.


The deal gives Canopy 450,000 square feet of greenhouses that can be immediately added to its existing 350,000 square foot facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. It is also building an additional 200,000 square feet of greenhouse capacity on its existing property.


Linton said that a 250,000 square foot greenhouse should be able to produce around 10,000 kilograms of marijuana annually, which at an average sale price of C$8 a gram could bring in C$80 million.

The company says it is expanding beyond Niagara to other parts of Canada and expects 3 million Canadians to use legal recreational marijuana next year. It also has partnerships with medical marijuana companies in Brazil and has been exporting marijuana to Germany for sale in German pharmacies for over a year.

Canopy may be expanding in Canada, but the company says it intends to stay far away from United States market due to uncertainty in a country where all aspects of marijuana are federally illegal. 

-- Erin Milliken 

September 9, 2017 in Business, International Regulation, Medical Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Britain's Times Favors Full Drug Decriminalization

ABritain's largest newspaper has endorsed the recent Royal Society of Public Health proposal to decriminalize all illegal drugs.  Here's a an editorial take on the proposal from The [London] Times:

Would it ever make sense to jail a chain smoker for smoking or an alcoholic for touching drink? On the basis that the answer is no, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is urging the government to decriminalise the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs. This is radical advice, but also sound. Ministers should give it serious consideration.


Prosecutions in Britain for small-scale personal cannabis use are already rare. To this extent the new proposals would not do much more than bring the statute book up to date with the status quo in most parts of the country. But the change the RSPH has in mind would go much further. It would push Britain into a small group of countries that have switched from regarding the use of drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy as a health issue rather than one of criminal justice.


This is not a switch to be taken lightly, nor one the Home Office under present management is likely to take without sustained pressure from elsewhere in government. Yet the logic behind it and evidence from elsewhere are persuasive. Indeed, the government should be encouraged to think of decriminalisation not as an end in itself but as a first step towards legalising and regulating drugs as it already regulates alcohol and tobacco.


The RSPH’s model is a drug decriminalisation initiative in Portugal that is now 15 years old. Since 2001 possession of even hard drugs in Portugal has meant at most a small fine and, more likely, referral to a treatment programme. It does not earn the user a criminal record. More importantly, as of last year the country’s drug-related death rate was three per million citizens compared with ten per million in the Netherlands and 44.6 in Britain. Recreational drug use has not soared, as critics of decriminalisation had feared. HIV infection rates have fallen and the use of so-called legal highs is, according to a study last year, lower than in any other European country.


The Times suggests that the ultimate solution is to move to a legal supply chain for all of these drugs -- a step that the authors of the report didn't quite get to.

June 18, 2016 in Decriminalization, International Regulation, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 17, 2016

British Health Group Advocates Decriminalizing Pretty Much Everything

ATwo private British public health groups have released a new document calling for decriminalization of marijuana and all other "illegal drugs."  nd The Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health, two organizations whose membership works in the public health field, have released Taking a New Line on Drugs, which recommends that the U.K. take law enforcement out of drug policy at the possession level, while keeping it up against those who manufacture and sell the stuff.  The paper's executive summary sets out the suggestions:

From a public health perspective, the purpose of a good drugs strategy should be to improve and protect the public’s health and wellbeing by preventing and reducing the harm linked to substance use, whilst also balancing any potential medicinal benefits. RSPH is calling for the UK to consider exploring, trialling and testing such an approach, rather than one reliant on the criminal justice system. This could include:

a. Transferring lead responsibility for UK illegal drugs strategy to the Department of Health, and more closely aligning this with alcohol and tobacco strategies.

b. Preventing drug harm through universal Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in UK schools, with evidence-based drugs education as a mandatory, key component.

c. Creating evidence-based drug harm profiles to supplant the existing classification system in informing drug strategy, enforcement priorities, and public health messaging.

d. Decriminalising personal use and possession of all illegal drugs, and diverting those whose use is problematic into appropriate support and treatment services instead, recognising that criminalising users most often only opens up the risk of further harm to health and wellbeing. Dealers, suppliers and importers of illegal substances would still be actively pursued and prosecuted, while evidence relating to any potential benefits or harm from legal, regulated supply should be kept under review.

e. Tapping into the potential of the wider public health workforce to support individuals to reduce and recover from drug harm.

There's some special pleading here, of course -- turning things over to the health authorities means more money and jobs for health workers.  And decriminalizing without maintaining penalties against those who make and sell the stuff isn't going to do much to harm the criminal gangs involved in the trade.  

Still, an interesting take on the subject.

June 17, 2016 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, International Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Marijuana Legalization On the Other Side of the Border(s)

ALegalization proponents often seem to forget that whether or not to permit cannabis sales isn't just a problem of national policy.  Cannabis is illegal very nearly everywhere in the world under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, and any country that legalizes is in violation of its treaty obligations.  Mike Adams of High Times has this very nice piece on the potential treaty problems for Canada and Mexico if they want to pursue legalization.  The whole thing is worth a read.  Some highlights:

    Before Canada, Mexico or any other country can legalize marijuana across their respective nation, governments must first show the United Nations General Assembly later this year how they plan to make it happen while remaining in compliance with several international drug treaties.

    A briefing memo sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, suggests that the northern nation will have to divulge a plan to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana without violating three treaties, all of which make the possession and manufacture of the cannabis plant for recreational purposes illegal worldwide. 

    . . .

    International law expert, Errol Mendes, a professor at the University of Ottawa, says that while the Canadian government basically has to tell the tale of “why it feels it has to do it,” the outcome, even if the debate is highly successful, will still result in marijuana legalization taking “many years” before it sees the light of day.

    The three treaties that would need to be amended before Canada or any other nation could effectively end prohibition are: The Single Convention on Narcotic Drug of 1961; The Convention of Psychotropic Substances of 1971; The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

    The note implies that a number of other countries interested in reforming their drug laws will also be forced to plead their case.

    "At the meeting, several South American countries as well as Mexico wish to discuss what they perceive as more effective policy approaches to respond to the current realities of the drug problem, which could include decriminalization/legalization of illicit drugs, harm reduction, and/or a call to renegotiate the international drug control conventions."

January 8, 2016 in International Regulation, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Canada's Health Minister "Outraged" at Decision of "High" Court

Not everyone in Canada seems to be thrilled by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision that it, and not the Health Ministry or other agencies of government, is the final authority on what medicines it is appropriate for patients to take.  Initial reactions from Health Canada aren't supportive, according to this CTV piece:

    Health Minister Rona Ambrose says she is "outraged" by the Supreme Court of Canada decision that expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond dried leaves, to include cannabis oils, teas, brownies and other forms of the drug.

    In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that users should not be restricted to only using the dried form of the drug. They said the current rules prevent people with a legitimate need for medical marijuana from choosing a method of ingestion that avoids the potential harms of smoking it.

    But Ambrose says, despite recent court rulings in favour of the use of marijuana, her government maintains that cannabis has never been proven safe and effective as a medicine.

    "Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence," she told reporters in Ottawa.

    "So frankly, I’m outraged by the Supreme Court."

    She said Thursday’s decision, as well as prior court rulings that permit the use of medical marijuana, give Canadians the impression that the drug has been shown to be effective, when it has not.

    "We have this message that normalizes a drug where there is no clear clinical evidence that it is, quote-unquote, a medicine," she said, adding that never in Canada’s history has a drug become a medicine "because judges deemed it so."

June 12, 2015 in International Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Canada's Constitutional Right to Bake Marijuana Cookies

The case is Regina v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34, and it holds that Canadians have a fundamental right to use medical marijuana under section 7 of the Charter of Rights, and that this liberty includes taking THC in whatever form the patient chooses. 

It's a very odd opinion from an American perspective.  The findings about the relative value of smoking  marijuana vs. ingesting it in some other form were made by a single trial judge -- not on a record compiled by an expert agency with access to all relevant data.  And the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously found that so long as there was some basis in fact for the trial judge's opinion, it is a "fact" that ingesting marijuana is superior to smoking, even though Parliament apparently thought differently.

Now, I don't disagree with the trial judge or the Supreme Court's opinion on the relevant merits, but in the U.S., despite our constant kvetching about activist judges, courts can't do this sort of thing.  We have administrative agencies (the FDA, the DEA, etc.) that are required to go through lengthy notice-and-comment procedures to set rules.  Moreover, Congressional power over interstate commerce means that a Congressional determination (apparently unlike a determination of the Canadian Parliament) is entitled to extreme deference unless it infringes on some fundamental individual right -- and taking non-FDA-approved medicine isn't a fundamental right.

An interesting question is that if there is a fundamental right to take marijuana in a form not approved by Canadian regulatory agencies, there should be one to take opium derivatives in the same way.  After all, Canadian law allows physicians to prescribe morphine in certain forms -- it would seem to be an infringement of liberty, under the opinion, for the state to prohibit users from taking it in some other form.

Like most insular Americans, I don't know enough about Canada to know how this is going to be received or what the fallout will be.  But it's a big win for MMJ users in the Great White North.

June 12, 2015 in International Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Canada Supreme Court: All Forms of MMJ Are Legal

I haven't seen the opinion yet, so I have no idea what the legal basis for the ruling is, but Canada's highest court reportedly has determined that restrictions on the types of medical marijuana available to patients are invalid, so Canadians can get their weed through edibles as well as smoking it.

    Medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally use all forms of the drug, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled.

    Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana, not only smoke it.

    Cannabis oil is now permitted instead of only "dried" marijuana, meaning people can bake it into food products.

    The case began in 2009 when a baker from the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada was charged with trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.

    Former head baker of the club Owen Smith was caught baking 200 pot cookies, CBC reports.

    A British Columbia judge acquitted Mr Smith and gave Canada's government a year to change laws around extracting marijuana. The case then wound up in the Supreme Court.

    A protestor in CanadaCanada has had a complicated legal journey with marijuana

    Restricting people to dried marijuana for medical purposes has been declared "null and void" by the court.

    Now, Canadians who qualify to use medical marijuana can have products like cannabis-infused cookies and tea.

    Medical marijuana is used for medical ailments such as Crohn's disease, seizures, HIV and nausea. In Canada, physicians decide who is eligible to use it.

    The court ruled that prohibiting possession of non-dried forms of marijuana is "contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; the effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety".

It will be interesting to see the basis for the ruling.  In the U.S., perhaps unlike Canada, judges aren't the ones who get to decide on what will or will not protect health and safety.

June 11, 2015 in International Regulation, Medical Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 6, 2015

British Deputy P.M. Talks About Spliffing

Both British politicians and British reporters are, well, different.  Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democratic leader and Deputy Prime Minister in David Cameron's government.  Mr. Clegg is a prominent supporter of marijuana legalization.  But it's hard to imagine any senior American politician being quite as vocal about it.  Here's a report in The Times on some sort of joint appearance between the Deputy P.M. and billionaire Sir Richard Branson:

    The problem with talking about drugs is that it always leads to harder stuff. For years, Nick Clegg has been talking about the decriminalisation of cannabis. But mere soundbites are no longer enough. Yesterday he increased his use of verbiage tenfold, when he appeared with Sir Richard Branson to talk about drugs in a windowless basement at Chatham House.

    It was, I have to tell you, spliffing.

    First, and it is a first, Sir Richard was not dressed up as anything but himself. I had hoped that he would be dressed as a spliff, which, of course, he has famously told us he shared with his son on his gap year. (The son’s gap year, not Sir Richard’s, though observers may wonder if he is on a permanent gap year.)

    I regret that Nick’s habit of talking about drugs is now out of control. He never used one word when 100 would do. His big theme was that the war on drugs is a failure and that we must treat drug addicts instead of jailing them. He has lost count of the number of Tory and Labour politicians who agree with him privately.

    The sheer amount of words was too much for Sir Richard. “I fancy some drugs!” he shouted. “Can anyone get me a coffee?”

    They could. Sir Richard cradled his cup of caffeine-fuelled liquid in both hands as he listened to yet more Nick opinions.

    “A young teenager, who has acted foolishly like so many teenagers do, and is caught in possession of a drug, shouldn’t have a mark against their name which means they can never be a lawyer, or never be a nurse, or a doctor or even a taxi driver,” said Nick.

    Nick said such a thing was “crackers”. I felt that “crackers” must be drugs code for something, although the worst thing Nick did as a teenager was to get drunk and set fire to a bunch of cacti — in Germany. There is always a European angle to every Lib Dem story.

    “It’s fascinating listening to this conversation,” observed Sir Richard, forgetting, perhaps, that he was actually on the panel, in front of us, cradling his cup of caffeine. “I was reading the other day the transcripts from 1932 when alcohol prohibition existed in America. It was almost word for word the same debate.” I looked at Nick, his mouth already parted, and doubted that very much.

March 6, 2015 in International Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Brazil Mulls Allowing Cannabidiol

"Brazil will soon look into the possibility of legalizing the use of a marijuana derivative to treat people suffering from severe seizures."

    ANVISA, the country's Health Surveillance Agency says in a statement posted on its website that the "reclassification" of marijuana derivative cannabidiol, which is banned in Brazil, will be discussed starting next month.

    The statement came Friday, one day after some 40 people protested in Brasilia to demand the legalization of cannabidiol.

    Some people resort to a clandestine network of illegal marijuana growers in Rio de Janeiro state that extract cannabidiol and donate it.

    It is that network that supplies Margarete de Brito with the cannabidiol she gives her 5 year-old daughter Sofia, who was born with a genetic mutation that causes seizures.

    "They won't even let you pay the shipping" she said.

    Brito said that since starting treatment with the substance over a year ago her daughter's seizures have decreased dramatically and she stopped taking another medication that left her drowsy.

    Earlier this month, the Federal Medical Council that regulates the medical profession in Brazil authorized neurologists and psychiatrists to prescribe cannabidiol to treat epileptic children and teenagers who do not respond to conventional treatment.

    Brito, a lawyer and a director of the association that represents medical marijuana users, praised the council's decision but said it should have recommended the national production and medical use of cannabidiol and other marijuana-based substances.

    Nelson Nahon, the vice president of the Rio de Janeiro State Medical Council, said there is not enough research or information on cannabidiol in Brazil to guarantee its safety and effectiveness.

    "We must be careful with any new product for any treatment," he said. "To be approved and commercialized, medication must go through several phases, in-vitro testing and animal testing. Then it must be tested on consenting humans."

December 20, 2014 in International Regulation, Medical Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)