Jeff Sessions Blames Marijuana for the Opioid Epidemic

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is blaming an old foe of his for the opioid crisis: marijuana.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation to the Reagan Alumni Association this week, Sessions argued that cutting prescriptions for opioid painkillers is crucial to combating the crisis — since some people started on painkillers before moving on to illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl. But then he expanded his argument to include cannabis.

“The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addiction starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number; they had it as high as 80 percent,” Sessions said. “We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs too.”

It’s true that, historically, a lot of opioid addiction started with prescribed painkillers — although that’s changing. A 2017 study in Addictive Behaviors found that 51.9 percent of people entering treatment for opioid use disorder in 2015 started with prescription drugs, down from 84.7 percent in 2005. And 33.3 percent initiated with heroin in 2015, up from 8.7 percent in 2005.

Where Sessions, who once said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” went wrong is his suggestion that marijuana leads to heroin use — reiterating the old gateway drug theory.

SOURCE: Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/8/16987126/jeff-sessions-opioid-epidemic-marijuana

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Nova Scotia to Decide on a Minimum Age for Legal Marijuana

Mark Furey says his department is analyzing the results of an online survey last month.

He says 31,000 people responded to the survey, which ran between Oct. 6 and Oct. 27.

It sought public opinion on issues including legal age, and where marijuana should be purchased and used.

Earlier this week, New Brunswick proposed legislation that would set the minimum age at 19.

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SOURCE: The Canadian Press. (November 9, 2017). CTV News. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/legal-marijuana-n-s-to-release-minimum-age-and-retail-model-by-year-s-end-1.3670936

Health Canada to Receive Majority of Marijuana Legalization Funding

Health Canada will receive the bulk of the more than half-a-billion dollars the federal government has earmarked to get the recreational marijuana industry ready for its July 2018 legalization target, according to a breakdown of the funds provided by the department of finance.

Ottawa said in its fall economic statement last week that it would provide $526 million in new funding, spread out over five years, to Health Canada, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and Public Safety Canada, with an additional $20 million coming from existing or internal sources.

Of the total, $432 million will be dedicated to Health Canada, $68 million to the Mounties, $40 million to the CBSA and $6 million to Public Safety, the finance department said.

The funding is “to ensure there is appropriate capacity to license, inspect and enforce all aspects of the proposed Cannabis Act (the legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana) and to undertake robust public education and awareness activities,” the update said.

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SOURCE: Zochodne, G. (October 31, 2017). Health Canada to receive bulk of federal government’s funding for marijuana legalization. Retrieved from http://business.financialpost.com/business/health-canada-to-receive-bulk-of-federal-governments-funding-for-marijuana-legalization

LCBO to Open 150 Legal Recreational Marijuana Shops by 2020

Fourteen Ontario municipalities — including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and Hamilton — will have the first LCBO-run recreational marijuana stores.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which runs the new Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), announced the first wave of 40 stores on Friday.

While the exact locations remain to be determined, Barrie, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Windsor will also have the legalized weed stores.

“Over the coming weeks, staff from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO will meet with staff at the identified municipalities to discuss the guidelines and process for sitting stores and local interests,” a statement read.

“The guidelines will achieve our objectives of protecting youth by ensuring stores are not in close proximity to schools, while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market,” the LCBO added.

“As part of the engagement with municipalities, when a specific store site is identified, a public notice will be posted online here and at the physical site. The public will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments on the intended site before it is confirmed,” it continued.

“Additional municipalities intended for stores by July 2018 will also be identified. Consumers in all regions of Ontario will have access to cannabis through an online channel.”

The news came two days after Attorney General Yasir Naqvi tabled the landmark Cannabis Act to prepare Ontario for the federal legalization of recreational marijuana on July 1.

That bill paves the way for 150 standalone LCBO-run shops by 2020.

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SOURCE: Benzie, R. (November 3, 2017). LCBO announces first 14 cities to have legal recreational marijuana shops. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/11/03/lcbo-announces-first-14-cities-to-have-legal-recreational-marijuana-shops.html

Ontario Marijuana Control Board and Storefronts

The Ontario government announced Friday that it will create a cannabis control board and open up to 60 storefronts in the first year to manage the sale and distribution of marijuana in the province.

Latest Ontario pot plan includes online ordering, 150 stores by 2020, and restricting marijuana sales to those 19 and older (a year above the minimum age recommended by the federal government’s cannabis task force report in December).

The stores selling marijuana to the public will not be housed inside existing LCBO stores as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had previously suggested.

In April, legislation was introduced in the House of Commons to legalize and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana on or before July 1, 2018.

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SOURCE: Crawley, M., Thibedeau, H. (September 7, 2017). Ontario to create cannabis control board, open up storefronts. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ontario-to-create-cannabis-control-board-1.4280073

Ontario Government Considering $10 a Gram For Legal Marijuana

The Ontario Government is considering a retail price of around $10 a gram for legalized marijuana.

That $10 fee — estimated after New Brunswick signed deals with two suppliers last week — is on the radar as officials here determine a price for recreational marijuana when it becomes legal next July 1, says Finance Minister Charles Sousa. “It’s certainly something we’re giving consideration to,” Sousa told reporters. “We’re trying to work with all of our colleagues across Canada,” Sousa said, noting federal and provincial finance ministers will meet later this year on pricing and taxation levels. “The intent is to have some uniformity with these prices across Canada.” It’s crucial to have prices in line with neighbouring jurisdictions and to “ensure it’s not overly expensive” to avoid fueling illegal sales in the underground economy, Sousa added.

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SOURCE: Ferguson, R. (September 20, 2017). Ontario considers price of $10 per gram in government stores for marijuana once it’s legalized next summer. Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/09/20/ontario-considers-price-of-10-per-gram-in-government-stores-for-marijuana-once-its-legalized-next-summer.html