Welcome back! We may have been off for a week, but the weed news never sleeps, so there's a ton to get to.
First off, the big story is apparently that there is no story. The media is freakingoutabout the lack of mentions of marijuana in the Liberal government's first budget. Call me a realist, but did people really think that it was going to be in the first budget? Every indication has been that this is not a "hurry up" offence when it comes to cannabis reform.
In the meantime, a petition is going strong looking to help apply pressure on the government to end prohibition... in BC at least. The Georgia Straight reported that a petition started by the Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has gained steam, with much of the support coming from the west coast. Since the article was published, the burden has been taken up a little more by the rest of Canada but of the 15,629 people that have signed so far still over 39 percent come from the country's most weed-friendly region.
Banking on Recreational Weed
One group of people seemingly assured that legalization is around that corner are some of Canada's licensed cannabis producers. Sonoran Weekly Review reports that Tweed, Canada's Tim Horton's of medical marijuana, has announced that they have been approved by Health Canada to open a new facility in Niagara On The Lake. This allows Tweed to produce 1,200 additional kilograms of cannabis on top of the3,500 kg they were already licensed to produce, and raises question of who is going to buy all this weed? The Medical Marijuana program is expanding daily and Tweed is Canada's largest LP, but the number of patients in the program still sits at just over 34,000 patients and the bulk of cannabis produced sitting in storage. This seems to indicate that they're aiming for something larger. This, coupled with the recent announcement of a deal struck with Snoop Dogg to brand Snoop's weed products in Canada, Tweed maybe looking at a recreational market on the horizon.
Tweed isn't the only LP heading towards those big recreational candy mountains: There's also Moncton, New Brunswick's OrganiGram, which has the support of the province's premier. Last week, Premier Brian Gallant announced a three-year, $990,000 payroll rebate program that will see the company add an additional 113 employees. Denis Arsenault, CEO of OrganiGram said in a statement:
"Our industry has the potential to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for growth and economic development as we move towards a recreational marketplace."
For his part, the Premier said: "We are pleased to see more opportunities for people to work right here, in New Brunswick."
The people of Toronto are apparently not un-pleased to see the presence of the less-than-legal side of the Canadian medical marijuana industry. According to a poll conducted by the National Post, 57 percent of the people in Toronto are chill with the grey market cannabis dispensaries that are quickly becoming a fixture of the city retail-scape. The poll would also seem to indicate that Torontonians want safe access to cannabis and cannabis products for medical patients.
Good to Grow Our Own (Again)
Are your green thumbs tingling? Because, just in time to plant that victory garden, the government looks set to let us grow medical marijuana again! The CBC reported on Health Minister Jane Philpott's announcement that the government will not appeal the federal court ruling in the Allard case. The court agreed with cannabis growing patients enrolled in the government's former system that the current medical marijuana system in Canada that forbids people from growing their own is unconstitutional. Now the government will respond with provisions made for people to grow their own... so get ready to get planting!
Extract Ups and Downs
It wasn't all good news for medical Cannabis patients in Canada last week. Four-year-old Kyla Nuessler, a child with intractable epilepsy, had her Charlotte's Web CBD oil seized at the Canadian border. As VICE News reported, the non-psychoactive cannabis derived medication was able to help reduce her 300 daily seizures to one a week, and she is now left with just a month supply. Although similar oils are available in Canada, the child's grandparents feel that the American product is the most consistent and best compared to the domestic ones that they have tried.
The positive news is that more and more extract artists are entering the field and refining the process of extracting trichomes like THC and CBD in professional-level grey market laboratories in Canada. Many people using cannabis medicinally now rely on these people for the medicine they consume. I went with the Daily VICE team to a clandestine gathering of some of Canada's most well regarded extract producers for an extract tasting that was raising money to provide cannabis oils to cancer patients who use it in the course of their treatment.
Oils and various other forms of so-called concentrates are the future of cannabis. Consumers on both the recreational and the medical sides of weed are gravitating to the more consistent and potent way of consuming the plant. Production of many of these requires introducing a solvent to the plant, with the butane derived BHO currently being the most popular way of make it. For every person making it safely in lab conditions there are at least that many trying to find an entry to this lucrative emerging market. The increasing popularity of using concentrates in pre-loaded e-cigs, dosing edibles, or just consuming it on its own as a dab, is exposing the dangers involved in producing some of them.
The dangers of working with a solvent like butane were tragically illustrated by a horrific explosion and house fire in Markham, Ontario. The CBC reported that local law enforcement has charged three people in connection to the explosion of the home "drug production lab where THC resin was being extracted from marijuana." Two of the charged, along with their three children and a responding cop, had to be taken to hospital to due to injuries suffered in the blast that levelled the family home. Police want people to keep their eyes open for other such labs and with the demand for cannabis extractions, I think this may be something that we see more of.
While we wait for cannabis reform to help fix this and a host of other problems...
Until next week, pass the dab rig on the left-hand side.
Follow Damian Abraham on Twitter.