Tag Archives: pot

Up, up and away


Cautioning prudence to investors desperate to cash in on the next, big thing is not much different than spitting into the wind. For reasons that should seem obvious, you are bound to regret it.

As it happens, the Cassandras of the financial world are few and far between whenever the market smells red meat in the air. Are we now heading into this mortally treacherous territory thanks to the impending legalization of pot for recreational use in Canada?

Last week, Moncton’s OrganiGram, a medical marijuana producer, confirmed plans to build out its production capacity to 26,000 kilograms of the stuff (about 9,000 kg more than its current output) annually. Meanwhile, according to a report in this newspaper, the company has “made some new friends in high places. Trailer Park Boys, the hit Canadian comedy TV show, will be collaborating with the cannabis company on an exclusive strain of marijuana as soon as it becomes legalized.”

Said OrganiGram’s chief commercial officer, Ray Gracewood: “We need to be strategic about the opportunities that will be afforded to us with the advent of recreational use in Canada. Brands will play a key role within the cannabis market space, and we’re devoting the thought leadership and developing our strategy well in advance of these expected changes to ensure we’re prepared.”

Elsewhere, despite their mindful-sounding public statements, the industry’s “thought leaders” are licking their chops without actually knowing how the shape of their emerging business will solidify.

According to a piece in Cantech Letter, “Already setting new record highs for months, shares of Canadian marijuana stocks have reached lofty new territories after California voted to legalize marijuana. On Tuesday, (November 9) while many were mulling the shocking surge to the White House by Donald Trump, the state of California passed Proposition 64, which will allow residents 21 years and older to buy and possess up to one ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The new measure will create an environment for state-licensed businesses to set up retail marijuana sales. With a proposed 15 per cent sales tax, the state is expected to take in an added $1 billion in tax revenue from legalization.”

Indeed, as the CTV reported last week, “Shares in Canopy Growth Corporation (based in Smith Falls, Ontario) saw its value hit $17.86, double its level from a week earlier, before falling again. The total value of the company’s stocks briefly hit $2 billion, twice what it was a few days before. Stock in Aurora Cannabis, based in Alberta, jumped to $3.95, up from around $2 a week earlier.

Mettrum Health Corp. also saw its trading stopped twice, while Supreme Pharmaceuticals Inc. and OrganiGram Holdings Inc. had their trading stopped once each.”

All of this feels vaguely familiar. Enthusiasm for the “new” and the “exciting” is a permanent feature of market capitalism. As with virtually everything within the realm of human volition, it produces both good and ill effects. On the one hand, ventures obtain access to badly needed capital for expansion and product innovation. On the other hand, too much hot blood can generate bubbles, which have a nasty habit of bursting when you least expect.

The age of legal “Mary-Jane” in New Brunswick is about to dawn. That’s great, as far as it goes. We could use the business boost in this province. But let’s not forget that all industries take time to mature. We want them to survive and thrive, despite the fickle headwinds that conspire to knock them down, cold and stoned.

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One columnist’s excellent adventure


I always knew I left the employ of the Globe and Mail too soon. Now, I have real evidence that my failure to become a national columnist of weight, gravitas and fulsome wordiness has robbed me of the opportunity to obtain contact highs in the rocky mountains of Colorado.

There, we find the Globe’s Margaret Wente, provocateur-cum-commentator extraordinaire, hanging with some producers of perfectly legal pot, (“In the Weeds”, May 16, 2015).

God, what an assignment!

Give a Russian sailor a bottle of vodka, a credit card and tell him that downtown Halifax in the springtime is his for the plundering, and. . .well, that’s just about the only circumstance that beats what dear, old MW recently encountered in Denver, which is, by the way, “magical at dawn.”

I’ll bet it is, but do go own Ms. Wente: “Along the western horizon, the snow-capped mountains are bathed in pink from the glow of the rising sun. The sky is turning purest blue. The air is crisp and clear, and you can see forever. What a great place to get stoned.”

She goes on (and on, and on, and on. . .hey, is that my hand in front of my face, or just another snow-capped mountain?): “In Colorado, recreational marijuana was legalized on Jan. 1, 2014. Denver now has more pot stores than it has Starbucks. Anyone over the age of 21 can walk into a store and choose from hundreds of varieties of flowers, nibbles, marijuana-infused drinks, oils, ointments and pain patches, as well as a growing array of wax and other supercharged hard-core products. There’s even a sex lube for women, which promises to deliver the most mind-blowing experience of your life.”

Okay. . .too much information even for the stoners in our midst. Still, I get her point. She’s having fun “researching” this business. More power to her.

Except, of course, until recently, Ms. Wente belonged to a strident cohort of Canadian commentators who adamantly refused to accept the logic propounded by sociologists, psychologists, several important lawmakers (both former and current) and almost every cop who ever ran a beat.

For years, they have insisted that decriminalizing marijuana, regulating it as a controlled substance, would save millions of dollars in tax-funded law-enforcement costs and just about as many kids from underserved, breathtakingly damaging incarceration courtesy of the state.

Here’s what The Times of Israel said just the other day: “Signalling a possible shift in attitude towards the recreational use of marijuana, police chief Yohanan Danino called for the government to reassess its current policies in light of growing calls from lawmakers and the public against prohibition of the drug.”

Reported the Times: “Speaking to high school students in Beit Shemesh, Danino told them they will be ‘surprised to hear’ current police policy on cannabis. ‘More and more citizens are demanding marijuana use be permitted,’ he said. ‘I think it’s time for the police, along with the state, to reevaluate its traditional position.’”

So do I. And so, now, does Ms. Wente. Sort of.

“I inhale. . .gingerly,” she writes. “After two or three draws, my cough subsides and I feel relaxed and happy. My entire body seems lighter. The effect is like three or four glasses of chardonnay, but without the heavy, woozy feel. It’s nothing like the stoned sensation I remember, when all I wanted to do was curl up into a fetal position and eat jelly doughnuts.”

Then, she heads home to Toronto, presumably to the waiting arms of her husband who, without a bag of pot at the ready, kisses her on the cheek.

Now, that’s a contact high.

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Common sense up in smoke?


Those who argue that marijuana should be legalized, though tightly regulated, because the prohibitions against its use don’t work are only half-right. It all depends on one’s definition of the word, “work”.

If we acknowledge that the law contorts the evidence that cannabis is safer than either tobacco or alcohol, that it succeeds in making criminals out of otherwise peaceable citizens, that it reinforces crusty stereotypes about shiftless stoners, and that it costs Canada’s judicial system millions of dollars a year that could be spent in more productive ways, then we must also acknowledge that the law works marvelously well to utterly ill effect.

Just ask any cop.

This week, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) passed a resolution that would give officers the discretion to levy fines for simple holding (pending, of course, federal approval).

The text of the ruling reads, in part, “The CACP believes it is necessary to expand the range of enforcement options available to law enforcement personnel in order to more effectively and efficiently address the unlawful possession of cannabis. The current process of sending all possession of cannabis cases pursuant to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to criminal court is placing a significant burden on the entire Justice System from an economic and resource utilization perspective.”

According to CACP President Chief Constable Jim Chu in the accompanying news release, “It must be recognized. . .that under the current legislation the only enforcement option for police, when confronted with possession of cannabis, is either to turn a blind eye or lay charges. The latter ensues a lengthy and difficult process which, if proven guilty, results in a criminal conviction and criminal record.”

The Association stops short of calling for decriminalization. (In fact, it goes out of its way to support the legal status quo). Nevertheless, its declaration reflects what is increasingly becoming mainstream opinion about the drug in law enforcement, medical and even political arenas.

“As four former attorneys-general of British Columbia, we were the province’s chief prosecutors and held responsibility for overseeing the criminal justice system,” Ujjal Dosanjh, Colin Gabelmann, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant wrote in a commentary for The Globe and Mail earlier this year. “We know the burden imposed on B.C.’s policing and justice system by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition and the role that prohibition itself plays in driving organized crime.”

Indeed, they added, “Under marijuana prohibition, violent criminals are provided a protected market that enables them to target our youth and grow rich while vast resources are directed to ineffective law enforcement tactics. Meanwhile, Canada’s criminal justice system is overextended and in desperate need of repair.”

The solution, they insisted, is to regulate the “cannabis market”, which could, they claim, “provide government with billions of dollars in tax and licensing revenues over the next five years. These dollars are in addition to the enormous cost savings that could accrue from ending the futile cat and mouse game between marijuana users and the police.”

None of which would matter one iota if marijuana were the resident force of social evil that conservative ideologues claim. But the preponderance of evidence is, at best, inconclusive. Several recent studies have suggested correlations between mental illness in young people and cannabis use. Others conclude that the more likely causes of psychological disease are genetic and socio-economic, and that it is virtually impossible to select these factors out of the equation.

As long as the law prohibits marijuana use, we, as responsible citizens, are obliged to obey. Certainly, legal channels should never, under any circumstances, facilitate the drug’s availability to minors.

But in a responsive democracy, laws that confound common sense and good governance must be questioned. Especially when they work exceedingly well to achieve everything except that for which they are intended.

It’s not for nothing, perhaps, that health authorities in both Canada and the United States – where weed is also broadly illegal – report that pot smoking is up by several orders of magnitude since the turn of the decade.

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Justin Trudeau’s pot smoke and mirrors

If mystery still shrouds federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s reason to suddenly and forthrightly support legalizing marijuana, one need only check out the CBC story posted to the Corp’s website last week for elucidation.

Scroll down through the statements and declarations, past the partisan reactions and mealy-mouthed disclaimers, and you arrive at the heart of the matter right below the counter that indicates this relatively short item generated a whopping 3,499 comments in less than 48 hours. The temper of many of the remarks tells you all you need to know about Mr. Trudeau’s political acuity.

“I have to give it to Justin Trudeau on this one since he has the guts to stand up and say what people want to hear even if they disagree,” writes STIL SMOKING. “The cons walk that fine line of poll results and reaction then change what they said and say they didn’t say what was printed.”

Adds toothpainpick, “I look forward to legalized marijuana. Legalization of marijuana will open up recruitment into our police forces across the country and allow current members to consume it, should they wish. This should reduce the alcohol driven militarized mentality of our present forces and perhaps lead to a more thoughtful intelligence in the administration of law upon our streets.”

Meanwhile, HS1979 wastes no time getting to the point: “I will be voting Liberal. Well done, Justin Trudeau!”

Well done, indeed. But not for the reason most advocates of legal pot might assume. Until, quite literally just the other day, Mr. Trudeau evinced almost no interest (at least, publicly) in sanctioning soft drugs – certainly not as a plank of Liberal party policy. In fact, his pronouncements tended to fall well within the mainstream of political thinking, which remains far less enlightened than public opinion on the subject of  cannabis use.

As recently as last year, Mr. Trudeau say weed is “not great for your health” as it “disconnects you a little bit from the world.” Three years ago, he told a magazine interviewer “It’s not your mother’s pot.” It’s stronger and, he said, “We need all our brain cells to deal with our problems.”

Well, maybe not all our brain cells, after all.

Last week, while in British Columbia (otherwise known as spliff central), Mr. Trudeau declared to assembled members of the media, “Decriminalization is a great first step (but) I’m in favour of legalization as well, because we control it, tax and regulate it, we allow for development of a medical marijuana industry,” before adding carefully, “I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage people to use it. . .but in terms of respecting Canadians and their choices. . .and following where the science leads us is a responsible way of government.”

It’s a line of reasoning from which we may infer that any other position, from any other political party, is disrespectful of “Canadians and their choices”, anti-scientific and an irresponsible “way of government”. Or, as Mr. Trudeau, himself, observed, “The Conservatives base their approach on ideology and fear. I prefer to base my approach on evidence and best practices and I think that is what Canadians will respond to.”

If recent polls are any indication, he’s right. His fellow citizens generally support legalizing marijuana just as they generally disapprove of the hard-line elements in Conservative Party’s social agenda.

Observers on the right of the political spectrum think Mr. Trudeau has given Prime Minister Harper a cudgel with which to beat him. They’re also right. But, in this case, it won’t matter.

By aligning himself with the majority opinion, Mr. Trudeau forces his political enemies to defend the minority position. The more they fall for the bait, the more ridiculous they appear in the eyes of the voting public.

Here’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay sounding like a bewigged, 19th Century barrister, full of bluff and bluster, as he told the CBC last week: “Our government has no intention of legalization. I would think Mr. Trudeau should look at other areas in which we can end violence and drug use and end this societal ill. . . I find it quite strange frankly that Mr. Trudeau would be talking about legalization as a priority at this time.”

Strange? Perhaps. Crazy? You bet – like a fox.

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