October 2016 NORML Canada Newsletter
Karma Cup Fights On
The Karma Cup event went extremely well, in spite of a last minute attempt by the City of Toronto to cancel the event. The original venue received a threat from Municipal Licensing and Standards which resulted in the event having to move on short notice. Regardless, organizer Sarah Sunday found a new location at the last minute, and the event went off perfectly. Read about the entire event here:
Fantastic vendors, and an incredible competition involving the elite members of the cannabis industry. NORML Canada was honored to participate by having a conference, held at Vapor Central, and featuring panel discussions moderated by Craig Jones, Alan Young, Paul Lewin, Craig Jones, Abigail Sampson, John Vergados, Jack Lloyd, and Edgar Bernal-Martinez. The NORML Canada Conference panels were as follows:
Moderator: Paul Lewin, Panel: Civil Disobedience, Featuring: Hilary Black, Amy Brown, Don Briere, and Dana Larsen.
Moderator: Alan Young, Panel: The Future of Legalization, Featuring: John Conroy, QC, Hilary Black, Jodie Emery, Ian Culbert, and John Fowler.
Moderator: Abigail Sampson, Panel: Women and Cannabis, Featuring: Lisa Campbell, Sarah Gilles, Charlene Freedom, and Tracy Curley.
Moderators: Jack Lloyd and Edgar Bernal-Martinez, Panel: Dispensary Policy, Featuring: Neal Hanniman, Adam Greenblatt, and Erin Goodwin.
Moderator: John Vergados, Panel: Craft Cannabis, Featuring: Mat Beren, Jose Dominguez, and Sarah from House of the Great Gardener.
NORML Canada wishes to thank everyone involved in this fantastic event. We are honored to be given the opportunity to participate, and wish to thank all of our panelists for their time, insight, and contributions. Huge thanks should go to Tracy Curley for finding the conference a new home in the face of profound discrimination from the City of Toronto after the original venue was cancelled. Thank you all so much. The movement is lucky to have you.
Women’s Panel at NORML Canada National Conference
On the second and final day of the year’s annual conference, NORML Canada hosted a panel discussion on the unique issues women face in the cannabis industry.
Speakers Lisa Campbell, Sarah Gilles and Charlene Freedom (along with surprise speaker, Tracy Curley) have each contributed to the progression of women working in the space, and offered their perspectives on the evolving role of women in cannabis culture.
While women in both the regulated and underground markets continue to experience unique challenges (all speakers shared stories of sexism, misogyny, stigma and intimidation) the accomplishments, passion and perseverance of women in the cannabis industry is outstanding.
As caregivers, gatherers and organizers, women have been in the forefront of the cannabis movement, with some of the first cannabis businesses in Canada having been founded by women. With legalization on the horizon, more and more women (“powerhouses” Ms.Gilles calls them) have come forward to claim their space and empower other women to do the same.
Ms. Freedom reflected on one of the biggest changes she’s noticed in the cannabis industry, the growing presence of women “(there have been) so many opportunities for women in the last two years, more women are coming out to events where it used to be all men.”
Ms. Campbell notes that having a legalized cannabis industry provides protection and safety for women looking to enter the space “The face of the cannabis consumer is changing as legalization comes, and more & more women feel like it’s a safe space to start their business, to be creative entrepreneurs.”
The complete panel discussion can be viewed at: http://dankr.ca/2016/10/26/women-grow-norml-conference/?age-verified=6a59846275
Special thanks goes to Tracy Curley and Sarah Sunday for providing a forum for women in cannabis to speak. Their courage and tenacity in keeping the Karma Cup event alive in the face of extreme discrimination from the City of Toronto is commendable. They are bastions in our movement.
Shoppers Drug Mart Applies to Become Distributor of Medical Cannabis
After months of speculation, the largest pharmacy chain in Canada has submitted its application to join the increasingly corporatized medical cannabis industry in Canada. According to a Spokesperson from Shoppers Drug Mart, they have applied to be a licensed producer exclusively for the “purposes of distributing medical marijuana.”
Shoppers Drug Mart currently operates 1,200 locations around Canada, including Pharmaprix in Quebec. Lobbyists in the industry have been trying to influence the federal government for the past year to use the pharmacy distribution model as the dominant distribution model for the medical cannabis industry claiming that they have experience distributing other controlled substances.
Shoppers Drug Mart is owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. During this year’s annual general meeting in May 2016, chairman Galen Weston stated support for the introduction of the distribution model for dispensing medical cannabis via “bricks and mortar pharmacies.”
The industry claims that allowing medical cannabis to be dispensed through pharmacies would increase access, safety, quality and security for Canadian medical cannabis patients.
For other major competitors such as Rexall, there is still far too much uncertainty within the industry, particularly the ambiguity of what the legal situation will ultimately be for both medical cannabis and for recreational cannabis, and its potential distribution models.
Owners and Employees of Six Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Fined by Courts
The City of Toronto announced on October 20 that six employees and owners targeted during Project Claudia on May 26 have pleaded guilt to Planning Act and Licensing By-law charges.
The six dispensaries are WeeMedical Dispensary, Tweeder, 416 Medicinal Health, The Scarborough Dispensary, UP! Café, and York Dispensary.
The City of Toronto announcement indicates that given the guilty pleas and convictions, the Ontario Court of Justice has imposed sentences between $1,000 for an employee of a dispensary to $4,000 for the owner of a dispensary. Additionally, the Courts have imposed “Prohibition Orders under the Planning Act and the City of Toronto Act, Probation Orders under the Provincial Offences Act, and Closing Orders under the City of Toronto Act.”
As per the City of Toronto announcement, the “Closing Order” indicates that the property location is immediately closed “for any business use involving the sale of any form of edible marijuana foodstuffs intended for human consumption” for up to two years. The fines were imposed by the Ontario Court of Justice with the purpose to deter repeat offences and to ensure that defendants are no longer involved in any form in medical cannabis dispensaries since they remain illegal in Toronto.
Furthermore, the city claims that residents, local Business Improvement Areas and other community leaders have been “expressing their concern about the illegal storefront marijuana dispensaries over the last number of months.” Therefore, the City of Toronto has reiterated that it will continue to investigate and take law enforcement action against owners, operators, and employees of these “illegal marijuana dispensaries, as well as property owners where the dispensaries are located.”
The statement concluded with the fact that there are still 210 charges currently before the courts.
The official statement may be found here:
As always, NORML Canada lives on support from donors. If you want to join NORML Canada in its efforts to promote fair and just cannabis laws in Canada, please donate today.