Are the Trudeau Libs downloading more corruption?

Update on my post The Great Canadian Cannabis Bandwagon Coming to a Town Near You! (Nov. 2/16):

With two weeks left until their Nov. 30 deadline, there’s still no word on when or whether the fed task force studying the pros and cons of allowing the recreational use of marijuana has completed or submitted its report.

I emailed the task force secretariat for an update and received this brushoff yesterday:

The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation will submit their report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Health in November 2016. It will be made public at a time to be determined by the three ministers.

My initial blog concerned a marijuana grow op on 28th Avenue in Ile Perrot which isn’t listed among the 36 growers you’ll find on Health Canada’s interactive map (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/list-eng.php)

Turns out it’s not the only unlisted Quebec producer.
Sûreté du Québec sources have confirmed they are aware of ‘several’ in the province although the sole licensed operator on the Health Canada map is Gatineau-based Hydropothecary.

So what, right?

What emerges is proof of a two-tiered approval system for legal grow ops. One we can see on Health Canada’s interactive map, those 36 licenced commercial producers. The other is a covert system of grey-area grow ops operated by persons who are authorized to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes, either locally or nationally (Health Canada’s words, not mine). Nothing about these tier-two grow ops is public — size, location, ownership, clientele, product testing and certification – nothing.

Yet a 24/7 Health Canada hotline allows police forces to check whether an officially unlicensed operation has a licence to grow.

I get this from a series of questions I submitted to Health Canada, beginning with whether it’s possible for a medical/experimental marijuana producer to operate legally without a licence.

My other key question was whether it’s possible for a licenced medical/experimental marijuana producer to conduct operations without being listed on the Health Canada map.

The following comes from Anna Maddison, a senior media relations advisor :

Only producers who are authorized by Health Canada to produce and sell to the public may sell or provide dried marijuana, fresh marijuana, cannabis oil  or starting materials (e.g., seeds and plants) to eligible persons. There are only 36 authorized commercial licensed producers, as per the list you referenced on Health Canada’s website: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/list-eng.php. 
 
With the introduction of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in August 2016, individuals who have the authorization of their health care practitioner can apply to Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.  
 
All persons registered or licensed by Health Canada must abide by the law and operate at all times within the limits set out when they are registered or licensed by Health Canada. Individuals are authorized to produce and possess for their own medical purposes only and it is illegal for them to share, provide or sell what they have produced with anyone else.
 
Health Canada supports law enforcement representatives by providing a dedicated phone line that is accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week to confirm, when necessary, that specific individuals are authorized to possess or produce a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes. Anyone who suspects the occurrence of activity that may violate a law should contact their local law or municipal enforcement authority.
 
Is there a limit to the number of licenced producers in a given area?

No. The regulations do not establish a limit on the number of licensed producers, or persons who are authorized to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes, either locally or nationally.

What are the regulations concerning notification of neighbours?
Are local and/or regional law enforcement and municipal authorities notified of licence applications on their turf?

Prior to submitting an application to become a licensed producer of cannabis for medical purposes, the applicant must provide a written notice to local authorities to inform them of their intention to submit an application. The notice must include the applicant’s name, the activities for which the licence is sought (i.e., that activities are to be conducted in respect of cannabis), the site address at which the applicant proposes to conduct those activities (and of each building on the site, if applicable), as well as the date when the application will be submitted to Health Canada.
A notification must be provided to:
–      the local police force or Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment responsible for providing policing services to the area in which the proposed site is located;
–      the local fire authority of that area; and
–      the local government (e.g., municipality.)
The same information must be provided to local authorities upon a change of status to the licence, such as issuance, suspension, revocation.
There is no requirement for licensed producers, or applicants to become a licensed producer, or persons registered with Health Canada to produce limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, to notify neighbours or surrounding residents or businesses. 

Are licenced producers required to obtain business or other permits from their local governments?

Licensed producers are required to comply with all applicable provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including zoning restrictions, fire and electrical safety and waste management.

Can they intervene (i.e. do they have the right to oppose a permit application)?

During the application review process, municipalities may provide information to Health Canada regarding a specific application.  Health Canada considers all relevant information when making a decision to issue or refuse a licence. Municipalities can use the tools at their disposal, such as zoning and bylaws, to set parameters for the production of cannabis.

What I get from this is that anyone who wants to set up a grow op can apply for a medical-exemption permit and go into business as long as they have the blessing of their municipality. Health Canada’s blanket protection ensures they don’t get asked too many questions.

It’s doubtful the public will raise a fuss about people growing marijuana, what with the pendulum swinging toward the legalization of recreational use across North America. My problem with what I see is that it opens the door to recriminalization, in the form of municipal corruption. What’s to prevent a corrupt council from approving a grow op without the public’s awareness, let alone consultation?

I expected greater transparency from the Trudeau government. I didn’t expect them to use the pot file to download even more corruption possibilities on the provinces._dsc0033

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Trump’s Credibility Bank

 

Now that we’ve dispensed with the handover niceties, let’s take a hard look at what really happened Tuesday. It boiled down to credibility.
In politics, credibility is like a bank account that allows only withdrawals, starting the day the account holders are elected.
Trump and the Republicans won big because the Clintons and the Democrats had no more credibility left. Eight Obama years and the previous eight under Clinton pretty much blew their cred wad.
In the cold light of the day after, it would seem it didn’t matter what Hillary Clinton has said over the past two years. What stuck with voters was her lack of credibility. Nothing else can begin to explain why the combined efforts of the Obamas, Clintons, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and a parade of pop culture celebs failed to sway undecideds and abstainers.
As for Trump’s credibility account, it’s as full as it’s ever going to be – and withdrawals started today.
Clinton will not be indicted, let alone locked up.
That Mexican wall? Dream on.
NATO and NAFTA? Don’t bet against them.
The Muslim ban? Watch him try.
Tax breaks for the middle class? Sure.
Repeal Obamacare? There are 20 plus Republican governors whose states are happier with what is than what was because it costs them less. If Trump and his team can’t come up with something better before scrapping the Affordable Care Act, shit will fly. Republican shit.
The Supreme Court composition? Roe vs. Wade revisited? We’re talking about what differentiates America from sharia-law states where women are stoned for being raped.
It will take just one 12-year-old incest rape mother to force the U.S.S. Trump seriously off course with his evangelicals.
Because here’s Donald J. Trump’s new reality in the United States of Nonstop Campaigning.
The Republicans hold the Senate 51-47 (including two independents who vote with the Democrats), a bare majority. The midterm elections take place Nov. 6, 2018, when 33 of the 100 seats will be at stake. Of those 33 seats, 25 are held by Democrats and those two independents, while eight are currently held by Republicans. You can guarantee the Democrats will be using Trump’s first 730 days to wage a merciless, relentless campaign to force a turnover.
The Republicans hold the House 239-193. On Nov. 6, 2018, all 435 seats will be contested. Again, the Democrats will concentrate their efforts on winning control of Congress.
If Trump receives –and heeds – wise counsel, he won’t repeat Obama’s principled mistake of trying to build bipartisan consensus for his Affordable Care Act. Trump will ram his agenda through the Republican-controlled House and Senate in the 20 months he’s guaranteed an absolute majority.
So there it is. Trump has less than two years to remake America. After that, he risks becoming just another lame-duck American president at the mercy of the folks who run the credibility bank.

Walking wounded or living dead?

Venture capitalists will tell you the worst investments are the walking wounded, enterprises that neither fly nor die but bleed cash and stagger from crisis to crisis. The challenge is determining whether they’ll ever come back. Wouldn’t it be more merciful to end the suffering?

Postmedia is long past that. It’s the Undead. Dead man walking. A corporate zombie waiting for a financial stake through the heart from banks, investors, shareholders – everyone with skin in the game of weighing $650M in debt against the dream of actually recouping some of their losses.

What’s Postmedia worth if it’s carved up and the chunks sold? CEO Paul Godfrey said in September selling assets wasn’t on the table. That was during discussion of a debt restructuring proposal to convert $648M in old debt into $325M in new debt at a marginally lower interest rate. The proposal was accepted, wiping out $200M in shareholder value in exchange for a $50M annual reduction in interest payments made possible by an injection of cash from a U.S. venture capital firm.

So what, you say? It’s more of the same bad drug that poisoned Southam, Hollinger, and Canwest, beginning with convergence: the asinine notion that one can achieve economies of scale by merging radio, television and print newsrooms and firing all those redundant bodies. Wave after unholy wave of wannabe media barons and their financial dogsbodies looking to boost shareholder value have succeeded in silencing hundreds of community voices across Canada. What they haven’t destroyed, they’ve burdened with debt and stripped of human assets to the point that even the Montreal Gazette, an enterprise with intrinsic value, may not survive the final cuts.

I can’t help laughing when I hear pundits holding out hope that federal regulators will ride to the rescue. We thought so too when we went to Industry Canada’s Competition Bureau with proof TC Media was attempting to stifle competition. The complaint followed Quebecor’s surrender after a four-year war of the weeklies with TC. Quebecor sold 74 weekly newspapers, some of them essential voices in their respective communities, to TC for $75M. TC merged some with theirs, sold others and placed half up for auction. The Competition Bureau could have imposed tougher measures on TC to ensure the survival of the orphans. It chose not to.

We hear about the plight of the Postmedia dailies, and with reason. But what about all those little weeklies Postmedia obtained from Quebecor? We’re talking about papers all over Canada, many of them in small towns and rural communities fighting for survival. What hope is there for a little community weekly whose reporter is the only neutral face at the monthly council meetings?

The disease isn’t confined to print. Parallel processes are underway in radio and television, with newsrooms slashed and content generation centralized. No wonder the Canadian media-consuming public isn’t consuming mainstream media – everything reads and sounds the same because we’re losing the diversity of voices. Government bailouts will do nothing to reverse the damage generations of bad management have caused.

It’s not just me. Friends say they stay better informed about what’s happening in North America when they’re getting their news via the BBC, TV5, Eurovision and Al Jazeera’s successor. CNN Asia is infinitely better than the Americentric mother ship.

Many of us have stopped reading newspapers because smartphones, tablets and apps are more convenient. I pay for the electronic New York Times and Globe and Mail because they’re must reads for original-source junkies like me. La Presse, CBC, Torstar, CNBC, BBC and L’Observateur fill in the blanks. Why read one newspaper when you can triangulate the daily truth for yourself?

I feel guilty about not taking the Gaz. It was my mom and dad for the 10 years I worked there. I know and like a lot of its people and wish them well. But until it improves its website and paywall terms, I’m not buying. From the sad sounds coming from Postmedia’s boardroom, I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Great Canadian Cannabis Bandwagon Coming to a Town Near You!

 

There’s a marijuana grow op located on a quiet cul-de-sac off 28th Avenue in Ile Perrot.
It hasn’t been busted so it would appear to be a federally licenced medical marijuana producer.
But nobody at Health Canada will confirm that.
Its neighbours learned of its existence only after it began operations.
Their beef isn’t with the operation itself, but with the increase in traffic.
Ile Perrot’s mayor reportedly told concerned residents the town needs the revenue.

A Sûrèté du Québec employee at regional headquarters in Vaudreuil-Dorion told me the SQ is aware of the locations of all licenced grow ops in the county, but refused to confirm this was one of them, or whether it even exists.
Our conversation two weeks ago was bizarre.
“You’re aware of the locations? Plural? How many marijuana grow ops are there in Vaudreuil-Soulanges?”
“I can’t say because they’re federally licenced. They’re not our responsibility.”
“But you know where they are?”
“We know which ones are legal so we can shut down those that aren’t.”
“So you’re telling me this one is legal?”
“I didn’t say that.”

Today I followed up with detachment commander Capt. Ginette Séguin. How many licenced grow ops are there in Vaudreuil-Soulanges? How does the SQ determine whether a grow op is licenced?

Séguin, off to her new posting in Quebec’s remote Abitibi,  declined to answer any of my questions and referred me to Health Canada.

According to Health Canada’s website, there are 36 licenced producers of medical marijuana in the entire country. Specifically, a licence permits the holder to “sell or provide dried marijuana, fresh marijuana, cannabis oil, or starting materials to eligible persons,” eligible persons being the roughly 50,000 Canadians with a doctor’s prescription enabling them to purchase from one of those 36 licences producers — or grow their own.

Health Canada’s interactive map shows Quebec’s sole licenced producer as Gatineau-based Hydropothecary.

I called Hydropothecary to ask whether they had branch operations elsewhere in Quebec.
Their spokesman told me their only operation is in Gatineau. However he said it was possible others might be operating pending licensing approval.
Isn’t that like running a blind pig while waiting for a Regie des alcools permit?

As I write this, there’s no transparency on the issue of who is growing what and where with whose permission. While the SQ is enthusiastically busting grow ops, including a bunch in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, police forces in Toronto, Vancouver and other major Canadian cities are turning a blind eye to the dispensaries where untested infested pot is sold to whoever comes through the door with a medical marijuana prescription. Wherever all that pot is being produced, it’s not in licenced facilities.

Sometime this month, the federal government’s marijuana task force is expected to table its recommendations concerning the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis. Canada’s medical marijuana industry expects the Trudeau Liberals to move quickly to adopt enabling legislation which would replace current regulation of medical marijuana production.

With what, we don’t know, but we’re getting hints, such as Loblaws’ application for a distribution licence for its more than 1,300 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada. We can pretty well bet competitors will follow. (Jean Coutu Group operates 417 stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario. Pharmasave includes 550 independently owned stores in nine provinces. Uniprix operates 375 pharmacies in Quebec.)

The provinces — currently excluded from any potential tax windfall — will fight to the death to ensure they get the lion’s share of the cut by limiting the sale of recreational weed and derivatives to outlets under their control. Think LCBO, SAQ and their equivalents across the nation.

In other words, everyone and their cousin is poised to leap onto the Canadian recreational cannabis bandwagon the minute it starts rolling. Until then, the cannabis industry is keeping a low profile for fear of jinxing the deal. Hydropothecary’s Julie Beun had this to say: “At this point, we are awaiting the report and have no plans to comment on it until after it’s been assessed.”

However back in June, the CEO of NHP Consulting, Brian Wagner blogged this prediction:

“…recreational cultivation, distribution, sale and consumption, will be regulated and controlled as of late 2017. We anticipate that once the report of recommendations is made available in November this year, that there will be a flurry of new interest in applying to be a producer under the MMPR (medical); it is highly likely that MMPR producers will be grandfathered into recreational cultivation/distribution once the new regulations are published.”

Wagner expects current laws will continue to be enforced until new laws replace them. This means police will continue to shut down all but currently legal sources — licences producers.

What will this new gold rush mean to our communities? I sent the following questions Nov. 1/16 to Health Canada and to the B.C. offices of Cannabis Growers of Canada, the industry’s largest lobbying group:

– Is it possible for a medical/experimental marijuana producer to operate legally without a licence?
– Is it possible for a licenced medical/experimental marijuana producer to conduct operations without being listed on the Health Canada interactive map listing the 36 licenced producers?
– Is there a limit to the number of licenced medical cannabis producers in a given area?
– What are the regulations concerning notification of neighbours?
–  Are all licenced producers required to obtain business or other permits from their local governments?
– Do local/regional law enforcement authorities have the right to oppose a permit application?
– Are local law enforcement authorities notified of licence applications on their turf? If so, can they intervene?
– Are local and regional municipal authorities notified of licence applications on their turf?  If so, can they intervene?

The CGC website (https://cannagrowers.ca) describes itself as “an association of cannabis businesses in Canada that are dedicated to building a free and fair craft cannabis economy. It was founded on the belief that every Canadian has the right to access high-quality, locally grown cannabis from a craft cannabis producer of their choosing, and that the best way to legalize cannabis is to empower local entrepreneurs to create jobs and support their local economy.”

“The Cannabis Growers of Canada is an association of cannabis growers, dispensaries, resin extractors and other product experts, who are dedicated to creating a set of strong industry standards to govern the craft cannabis marketplace. It was founded on the belief that a vibrant craft cannabis marketplace can provide safe, tested product to be enjoy across Canada.”

Stickhandling licensing applications from prospective medical and experimental marijuana producers and processors has become an industry unto itself. One enterprise you’ll find at the top of a Google internet search for ‘medical marijuana licences’ is NHP Consulting Inc.
NHP’s website offers a basic primer on Health Canada’s small print. For example:

“Producers can only grow marijuana indoors and under heavy security precautions. Health Canada does not regulate the manner in which marijuana is grown otherwise, albeit to limit which fungicides can be used on the plants. End product must be tested for microbes and heavy metals, and be within the product specifications. The model was heavily adapted from a pharmaceutical approach. Producers cannot sell face to face, and must ship finished product by mail or courier (or secure transport) to the patient’s doctor or residence.”

NHP bills itself as a one-stop shop for anyone looking to licence a natural health product, food, OTC drug or medical device. Given the intricacies of Health Canada’s licensing process, it’s not surprising people pay for advice. Here’s NHP on experimental grower’s licensing:

“Two licences are required if a facility wishes to cultivate and processes marihuana for experimental purposes.  There are similarities between both applications. The average wait time for Health Canada to begin the review of these types of applications is 8-10 months.

NHP Consulting’s Wagner continues: “There is a specific application in order to cultivate marihuana for scientific purposes, and a separate application for processing manufacturing derivatives or transporting product to another location.  These applications are governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act and its Regulations.  For both applications, the person in charge of the project requires a degree in a relevant science.  In order to qualify for a licence to cultivate, a full description of the research project will be required, security measures will have to be put in place, and record keeping procedures drafted.

“A Dealer’s Licence is required to process cultivated marihuana (such as creating extracts or derivatives) for the purpose of research.  As with the licence to cultivate, the site will require physical security measures and you will require a Qualified Person In Charge (QPIC) with a degree in science (better still, a pharmacist or practitioner).  As stated above, you will have to submit all record keeping procedures that will be evaluated by Health Canada prior to approving the Dealer’s Licence.”

And then there are the licencing requirements for derivative manufacturing. Here’s NHP’s synopsis:

“The two derivatives in marijuana considered therapeutic are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD’s).  The cleanest method to prepare a derivative from marijuana is super critical C02 extraction.

“As a result of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, individuals authorized to possess marijuana under the MMPR may now possess marijuana derivatives for their own use. Based on this decision, Health Canada has issued a section 56 class exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), allowing licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil (under the MMPR).  The licensed producer must hold a supplemental licence issued by the Minister of Health for the purpose of authorizing the activities in relation cannabis oil.

“The two derivatives in marijuana considered therapeutic are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD’s).  The cleanest method to prepare a derivative from marijuana is super critical C02 extraction. Other methods to extract isolated THC and CBD include the use of organic solvents (toxic and flammable).  You can further purify or concentrate the oil using chromatography.

“There are new rules for preparing and labelling the derivatives that must be taken into consideration prior to obtaining the right to produce the derivatives (oils).  There is a maximum allowable concentration, specific label requirements, and formulation implications concerning the amount of active per dosage unit and the use of non-medicinal ingredients.  There is also a requirement for enhanced documentation, including details of the extraction process.”

To summarize, Canada is on the verge of legalizing recreational use of cannabis. When and if that happens, it will trigger an unprecedented scramble for production licences. Who gets them, and the conditions attached will be of personal interest to any Canadian with concerns about recreational drugs, who owns or rents a property next to one of these facilities or has any other stake in the process. A mayor’s lame assertion that his town needs the revenue won’t suffice.