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Canada

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 24, 2016

    flag_of_canadaA federal court in Canada ruled today that government officials cannot prohibit physician-authorized patients from growing their own supply of medical cannabis.

    The decision strikes down regulations enacted in 2013 that sought to take away patients’ longstanding authority to grow personal use quantities of cannabis. The court opined that the regulations unduly infringed upon patients’ liberties and that they were “not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

    The judge’s ruling provides Parliament with six months to create new rules governing the regulation and distribution of medical cannabis in a manner that no longer requires patients to obtain medicine solely from federally-licensed, private third party providers.

    NORML Canada‘s John Conroy served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, while NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano served as an expert witness and filed an affidavit in the case.

    Canadian officials first legalized the physician authorized use, possession, and home cultivation of medical marijuana in 2001. Those regulations were significantly amended in 2013 in a manner that sought to prohibit qualified patients from continuing to receive cannabis from Health Canada or from growing it themselves.

    Last year, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to amend Canada’s marijuana laws in a manner that regulates the plant’s use and sale for all adults.

    Text of the decision, Allard et al. v Canada, is online here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate October 20, 2015

    legalization_pollLiberal Party candidate Justin Trudeau has defeated incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper to become Canada’s next Prime Minister. Trudeau’s win is expected to usher in a new wave of political priorities, with marijuana legalization nearing the top of the list.

    From the Liberal Party’s website:

    We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.

    Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.

    Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.

    To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.

    We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.

    We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.

    In his quest to become Prime Minister, Trudeau actively campaigned on a platform that included taxing and regulating marijuana.

    “What is very clear right now is that Mr. Harper’s current approach is making marijuana too easy to access for our kids, and at the same time funding street crime, organized gangs and gun runners,” Trudeau said.

    The Liberal leader also said he would “work with the provinces to makes sure that the control and regulation of marijuana is done in a way that is responsible.” And he repeatedly stated, “”My focus is on making it more difficult for young people to access it.”

    While a concrete timeline has not been provided as to when Canadians can expect a legal and regulated marijuana market, Trudeau has promised to get to work on the changes “right away”.

    For more information please contact our NORML Canada chapter, here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 21, 2015

    Chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year report reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and do not experience an increased risk of serious side effects, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pain.

    Researchers at McGill University in Montreal assessed the long-term health of 216 medicinal cannabis users with chronic non-cancer pain who consumed a daily standardized dose (12.5 percent THC) of herbal cannabis compared to 215 controls (chronic pain suffers who did not use cannabis). Subjects in study were approved by Health Canada to legally use medicinal cannabis and consumed, on average, 2.5 grams of herb per day, typically via inhalation or vaporization.

    Investigators reported that daily cannabis consumers possessed no greater risk than non-users to experience “serious adverse events.” Specifically, researchers identified no significant adverse changes in consumers’ cognitive skills, pulmonary function, or blood work following one-year of daily cannabis consumption. Medical cannabis consumers did report elevated risk of experiencing “non-serious adverse events” (e.g., cough, dizziness, paranoia) compared to controls; however, authors classified these to be “mild to moderate.”

    Pain patients who used cannabis reported a reduced sense of pain compared to controls, as well as reduced anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

    “Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile,” authors concluded.

    The study is one of the first to ever assess the long-term safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis. A prior health review of patients receiving medical cannabis monthly from the US federal government as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program similarly reported that cannabis possesses therapeutic efficacy and an acceptable side-effect profile.

    Full text of the study, “Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study,” appears online here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director April 19, 2013

    The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada announced via Marketwired:
    NWA Canada Prohibition CarTERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – April 18, 2013) – On Saturday April 20(th) , activists and cannabis enthusiasts will gather in cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Yellowknife. It is hoped the events will be a watershed moment for cannabis law reform as Canadians seek to follow their American counterparts and end the social injustice of cannabis prohibition.

    This year, the annual nationwide 420 celebrations are entirely sponsored by lottery winner Bob Erb.

    When Bob Erb started buying lottery tickets in the early 1970s, ending the war against cannabis may have seemed more likely than hitting the jackpot.

    On November 2, 2012, four decades of playing the lottery paid off: Bob Erb won a $25,000,000 jackpot. Two days later, Canadian laws regarding cannabis changed too as mandatory minimum sentencing for cannabis offences came into effect.

    To some, winning the lottery would mean retiring from a life-long career of cannabis activism. But to a man who describes the criminalization of cannabis as the “biggest social injustice” of his lifetime, the money meant a chance to do more.

    Bob Erb has championed social justice issues, including cannabis law reform, for decades. He has seen firsthand the harm and waste caused by cannabis prohibition, and has set about making change. Particularly, he has tried to create change from within: in 2001 he ran as a Marijuana Party candidate in the BC provincial election and the following year he ran for mayor. Both times his message was clear: its time for a change on cannabis.

    Looking to the future, Bob has pledged one million dollars to fund national campaigns to end the criminal prohibition of cannabis and enact positive regulations regarding use, production and consumer safety. His goal is to see a pro-reform party elected in the next Canadian federal election.

    So far, Bob Erb’s contributions to the cannabis reform movement can be felt nationwide. In February he had a conference in his hometown of Terrace, BC. The conference brought together activists and policy experts from across Canada to discuss strategy for the future.

    As a result of the conference, Bob committed one million dollars to legalize cannabis in Canada and pledged support to various reform organizations including Sensible BC, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, NORML Canada, Stop the Violence BC and the 420 rallies.

    This Saturday, tens of thousands of Canadians will gather from coast to coast advocating cannabis law reform. Hopefully, individuals will feel part of something bigger than themselves or the local rally they attended.

    Bob Erb’s generosity has jump-started a national campaign to elect a new government ready to undertake modern approach to cannabis regulation. Advocates are confident cannabis law reform will be an issue in the next federal election. This year’s 420 rallies will be a call to voters and the beginning of a movement in the name of Bob Erb.

    NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada

    Kelly Coulter

    (613) 331-1489

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 29, 2012

    A majority of adults in both Canada and the United States believe that cannabis ought to be legal, according to a two-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll of 1,005 randomly selected Canadian adults and 1,002 randomly selected American adults.

    In the online survey of representative national samples, a majority of Canadians (57 percent) and Americans (54 percent) support the legalization of marijuana. Sixty-six percent of those polled in both countries said that they anticipate that cannabis will be legalized within the next ten years.

    Respondents strongly opposed the notion of legalizing any other illicit substances besides marijuana.

    Respondents in the Northeastern region of the United States expressed the highest level of support for legalizing marijuana (61 percent), while those in the South voiced the least level of support (51 percent). Nationally, 65 percent those age 18 to 34 backed legalization; 49 percent of respondents age 35 and older did so.

    In Canada, men (64 percent) were more likely than women (50 percent) to call for the legalization of cannabis. By contrast, Americans’ support for legalization was nearly equally among genders (55 percent male support versus 53 percent female support).

    The Angus Reid results are similar to those of other national surveys — including those conducted by Gallup, Rasmussen, and YouGov — showing that more Americans now support legalizing the adult use of cannabis than support maintaining its prohibition.

    [UPDATE! A separate nationwide poll released today by CBS News finds: “For the first time since CBS News began asking the question, as many Americans now think marijuana use should be legal as think it should not.

    “Support for legalizing marijuana inched up slightly from 45 percent in September to 47 percent today. … Another 47 percent think it should remain prohibited. A year ago, a slight majority of Americans, 51 percent, opposed legalizing marijuana use. … While 51 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents support legalizing marijuana, 66 percent of Republicans oppose it.”

    It adds: “Eighty-three percent of Americans favor allowing doctors to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses, the poll shows – up from 77 percent a year ago and 62 percent back in 1997. A majority of Americans of all ages – as well as most Republicans, Democrats, and independents – favor allowing this.”]

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