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6-month Delay for Medical Marijuana Permits Stressful: MD

Location: 
Canada
Patients seeking to use medical marijuana are being forced to wait as long as six months by Health Canada because a backlog of permit applications, says British Columbia's Dr. Gwyllyn Goddard. Because of the delays many patients buy pot illegally while they wait for the official government permit.
Publication/Source: 
CBC Radio-Canda (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/08/31/bc-marijuana-medical.html

Canadian Medical Association Journal Article Sides with Drug Injection Site

Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal slams the federal government for its efforts to shut down Insite in downtown Vancouver, Canada's only safe injection site for drug addicts.
Publication/Source: 
CBC Radio-Canda (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/08/30/con-insite-cmaj.html

Canada's Conservatives Try Again with Mandatory Minimum Drug Bill [FEATURE]

Canada's Conservative minority government hopes the third time is the charm for its controversial measure to increase sentences for marijuana cultivation and introduce mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. Now known as S-10, the measure will be taken up by the Senate when it returns from recess at end of next month.

Parliament Hill, Ottawa (math.nist.gov)
The bill is designed to "send a message" that "if you sell or produce drugs, you'll pay with jail time," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said when re-filing the bill in May.

Under the bill, anyone growing six or more plants for the purpose of drug trafficking could face a mandatory minimum six month jail sentence, with a one-year mandatory minimum for up to 200 plants and two years for up to 500 plants. Hash makers also face a one-year mandatory minimum.

The mandatory minimum sentences could be increased by half if any of a number of aggravating factors are claimed. These include whether a weapon was found on the premises, if minors were involved, if the location was unsafe, and whether pot production posed a danger to the public in a residential area.

The Conservatives' bill comes even as crime rates in Canada have fallen to a 30-year low and with majorities supporting marijuana legalization in recent polls.

"This is a terrible bill," said Jacob Hunter of Why Prohibition?, a web site set up by opponents of the bill to encourage online activism and social networking to defeat it. "I think the single worst provision is the 18-month mandatory minimum for making one pot brownie if the police can show you shared it with friends."

"The Conservatives have less than a third of the popular vote, and they think they have a mandate for these draconian measures," said Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa law professor and head of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy.

Last year's version of the bill, known as C-15, made it through the House of Commons with the support of the Liberals, but was softened slightly by Liberals in the Senate. But before the amended measure could pass, Prime Minister Harper ended the parliamentary session, killing the bill for the year.

In power since the 2006 elections, the Conservatives have been unable to win enough seats to form a majority government. Right now, the Conservatives hold 143 seats of the 307 in the House of Commons, with the Liberals holding 103, the Bloc Quebecois 51, and the New Democrats (NDP) 51.

That means the Conservatives are once again going to have to win over members of other parties to pass S-10. With the NDP and the Bloc both in solid opposition, the Conservatives will have to pick up support from the Liberals, but whether they will be able to do so remains to be seen. Last time, Liberal support got the bill over the top in the House, but this year, the Liberals are preparing for a possible called election in the fall or winter and may have had an infusion of spine-stiffener on the issue.

"The Liberals are running around like the cowardly lion," said Oscapella, who expressed dismay at their lack of principle. "There is no sign yet that they are doing anything other than kowtowing to the government on this issue."

"Last time the Liberals did support C-15 in the House, but modified and delayed it in the Senate," said Hunter, who was slightly more positive about the Liberals. "They were terrified of being soft on crime. This time, I'm hearing the Liberals won't be so easily cowed. They feel they can counter the soft on crime attack by attacking the Conservatives on cost. It will be a purely political decision for the Liberals."

Noting that the parliamentary budget office has set the price-tag of S-10 at $10 billion, Hunter said the high cost would be a wedge to use against the bill. "This has emboldened the opposition to attack the Conservative's law and order crime agenda as too costly," he said. "Plus, crime is a historic low, and these mandatory minimum policies have been tried in the US to poor effect."

In the Senate, Conservatives do have an outright majority of 54 of 105 Senate seats -- if the two Progressive Conservative senators are counted. The Liberals have 49 seats, and there are two independents. Conservative strength in the Senate may explain why the Harper government decided to place S-10 in the Senate instead of the House of Commons.

Opponents of S-10 are gathering their forces. They will have months or perhaps even a year to mobilize opposition as the bill moves through the parliamentary process.

"There is a lot of opposition to this bill in the media, which is coming out strongly against mandatory minimums and in favor of ending the war on drugs," noted Oscapella. "Yet the government wants to plow ahead. Faced with strong opposition, the more adamant they are that they will succeed," he said.

"This is all the more depressing because for years, the excuse was that the US would never let us do drug reform," the Ottawa attorney continued. "Now the rhetoric and the attitude in the US is changing, and this would be a time for us to move forward, but we're set to move backward. It's like George Bush came to Canada."

NDP MP Libby Davies, the party's drug policy critic, has been a stalwart in the fight against earlier incarnations of the bill and is likely to do so again. While, the East Vancouver MP was out of the office this week, Davies spoke out against the new bill back in May when it was introduced.

"I have been working at every turn to stop this failed, George Bush style war-on-drugs Bill that proposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes," Davies said. "My NDP colleagues and I voted a resounding no when this bill was introduced in the House as Bill C-15, but it was passed with the support of the Liberal Party. Now we have a second chance to stop this wrong-headed and costly legislation. The Conservatives’ iron fisted approach that criminalizes drug users is taking Canada in the wrong direction."

Why Prohibition? and other activist groups are preparing protests across Canada on October 2, as well as bombarding parliament and the government with messages opposing S-10. And that will be just the beginning of the campaign.

It looks like the Liberals hold the key to whether S-10 passes or fails. In the months ahead, expect the pressure on them to increase dramatically. And let's hope for the Conservatives that instead of third time is the charm, it's three strikes and you're out.

ottawa, ON
Canada

What if California makes marijuana legal?

Location: 
Canada
California's Proposition 19 on whether to legalize marijuana has fueled a debate among bloggers and pundits over this question: Because Canada exports a large percentage of its marijuana to the United States, could legalization in the U.S. cripple the Canadian economy?
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/What+California+makes+marijuana+legal/3375437/story.html

Police Raid of Medical Cannabis Dispensary Puts Patients at Risk (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: August 5, 2010

Police Raid of Medical Cannabis Dispensary Puts Patients at Risk

Yesterday, Cannabis as Living Medicine (CALM), one of the most well- established medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada, was raided by police in Toronto for the second time in five months. In the last couple of months, a dispensary in Guelph, another in Iqaluit, and several in the province of Quebec were also raided.

Canadians for Safe Access, a national patient advocacy organization, is denouncing these raids. The result is that thousands of Canadians suffering from MS, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis and other critical and chronic illnesses have lost an important source of their medicine, laments Rielle Capler, a researcher and co-founder of the organization. They will have to go to the streets or suffer without their medicine. Capler adds, Rather than leave these dispensaries vulnerable to police raids, CSA is calling on Health Canada to work with them to develop regulations that would ensure their protection as well as the highest quality of care for patients. Our government should be supporting patients to access the best possible medicine, and supporting the organizations that are providing this vital service."

While the use of cannabis for medical purposes is constitutionally legal in Canada, the Federal Governments program, which provides licenses to patients for legal possession of cannabis, does not provide an adequate legal source of this medicine. Government statistics show that only about 800 of the 4000 licensed medical cannabis users access the governments supply, which is considered by many to be inferior. Research indicates that over half of license holders acquire their cannabis from dispensaries, which currently supply high quality medicine to an estimated 20,000 Canadians with critical and chronic medical conditions.

Medical cannabis dispensaries, also know as compassion clubs, have played a vital role supplying safe access to cannabis for the critically and chronically ill in Canada for over 12 years. These organizations provide access to a variety of high quality cannabis strains and preparations that can effectively alleviate pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, and other serious symptoms. Compassion clubs are also at the forefront of academic peer-reviewed research on medical cannabis in Canada. Well-run dispensaries are appreciated by patients, accepted within communities, and their work has been lauded by various court  rooms across the country.

Contacts:

Rielle Capler 604-818-4082- rielle@telus.net Philippe Lucas 250-884-9821 phil@drugsense.org

Location: 
Canada

Marijuana legalization may harm Canada's export economy

Location: 
Canada
A thriving marijuana industry has aided Canada's economy, but it is almost completely dependent on U.S. exports. Various agencies and economists agree that marijuana is Canada's largest cash crop ($20 billion per year) and the industry employs 250,000 in British Columbia alone. Now, political shifts in the U.S. and at home are now threatening this boost to Canada's economy.
Publication/Source: 
The Guardian (UK)
URL: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/aug/05/marijuana-industry-canada

Prisons: Marc Emery in Solitary Confinement for Podcast of Prison Phone Call

Canadian "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery hasn't even been formally sentenced yet, but he's already being punished for what he does best: opening his mouth for the cause of marijuana legalization. Emery's wife, Jodie, told Canada's CNews Saturday that Emery is now in solitary confinement for violating prison rules.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/emeryprotest1.jpg
Marc Emery
According to Jodie Emery, she recorded his calls from prison and played them as a podcast on the couple's Cannabis Culture magazine web site. That violated a prison rule that phone calls can only be made between a prisoner and the intended recipient and cannot be directed to a third party.

Jodie Emery said Marc had read the prison rules and did not think the podcast would be a violation. Now he will spend at least a week in solitary pending a hearing to determine the full extent of his punishment.

Emery, Canada's most famous legalization activist, pleaded guilty May 24 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, the culmination of a five-year battle between Emery and Canadian and US authorities to extradite and prosecute him for selling pot seeds over the Internet. Two of Emery's employees arrested along with him, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, earlier copped pleas and received probationary sentences to be served in Canada.

Emery plowed the profits from his business back into the legalization movement, earning the wrath of the drug prohibition establishment in both countries. When Emery was busted in 2005, then DEA administrator Karen Tandy gloated in a press release that it was "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement."

Under federal prison rules, Emery is allowed 300 minutes of phone calls a month and he can communicate via email through a closed computer system called CorrLinks, under which he can log onto a computer and compose a message that is read by prison officials before they send it over the Internet. Emery had used CorrLinks to post numerous dispatches from the gulag, but now, he is denied those privileges and could lose them for up to two months.

Emery will remain in the Seattle-area federal detention facility until his formal sentencing September 10. Then he will be transferred to the federal prison at El Reno, Oklahoma, where prison officials will decide where he will be sent to serve his time.

Emery's campaign to avoid extradition has now shifted to a campaign to persuade Canadian authorities to allow him to serve his sentence there, as has typically been the case with Canadians convicted of offenses in the US. But the Conservative government has in recent years begun to refuse to accept Canadians imprisoned on drug charges in the US.

Marc Emery in Solitary Confinement in American Federal Gulag; Podcast of Prison Phone Call Broke BOP Rules

Canadian "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery hasn't even been formally sentenced yet, but he's already being punished for what he does best: opening his mouth for the cause of marijuana legalization. Emery's wife, Jodie, told Canada's CNews Saturday that Emery is now in solitary confinement for violating prison rules. According to Jodie Emery, she recorded his calls from prison and played them as a podcast on the couple's Cannabis Culture magazine web site. That violated a prison rule that phone calls can only be made between a prisoner and the intended recipient and cannot be directed to a third party. Jodie Emery said Marc had read the prison rules and did not think the podcast would be a violation. Now he will spend at least a week in solitary pending a hearing to determine the full extent of his punishment. Emery, Canada's most famous legalization activist, pleaded guilty May 24 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, the culmination of a five-year battle between Emery and Canadian and US authorities to extradite and prosecute him for selling pot seeds over the Internet. Two of Emery's employees arrested along with him, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, earlier copped pleas and received probationary sentences to be served in Canada. Emery plowed the profits from his business back into the legalization movement, earning the wrath of drug prohibition establishment in both countries. When Emery was busted in 2005, then DEA administrator Karen Tandy gloated in a press release that it was "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement." Under federal prison rules, Emery is allowed 300 minutes of phone calls a month and he can communicate via email through a closed computer system called CorrLinks, under which he can log onto a computer and compose a message that is read by prison officials before they send it over the Internet. Emery had used CorrLinks to post numerous dispatches from the gulag, but now, he is denied those privileges and could lose them for up to two months. Emery will remain in the Seattle-area federal detention facility until his formal sentencing September 10. Then he will be transferred to the federal prison at El Reno, Oklahoma, where prison officials will decide where he will be sent to serve his time. Emery's campaign to avoid extradition has now shifted to a campaign to persuade Canadian authorities to allow him to serve his sentence there, as has typically been the case with Canadians convicted of offenses in the US. But the Conservative government has in recent years begun to refuse to accept Canadians imprisoned on drug charges in the US.
Location: 
Seattle, WA
United States

Marijuana: Canada's "Prince of Plot" Pleads Guilty, Accepts Five-Year Prison Sentence

Canada's most famous marijuana activist is now serving a federal prison sentence in the US. Erstwhile Internet pot seed seller Marc Emery appeared in federal court in Seattle Monday to accept a plea deal that will see him most likely serving five years in prison for his efforts.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marcandjodieemery.jpg
Marc and Jodie Emery (courtesy Cannabis Culture)
Emery and two employees, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in 2005 for allegedly selling pot seeds to customers in the US. After Rainey and Williams were able to plea bargain probationary sentences to be served in Canada, Emery himself accepted a plea bargain to avoid the possibility of losing at trial and serving up to life in prison if he did.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Under the agreement reached with prosecutors, they will recommend a five-year sentence. But the sentencing judge is not bound by that agreement and, if he orders a harsher sentence, Emery has the right under the plea agreement to renege and go to trial. Formal sentencing is set for August.

Then DEA administrator Karen Tandy hailed Emery's arrest as "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade, but also the marijuana legalization movement," a move that added fuel to claims by Emery supporters that he was being prosecuted for political reasons.

Emery certainly had been a thorn in the side of prohibitionists everywhere, dating back to battles in the 1980s over whether High Times could be sold in Canada. In the 1990s, Emery emerged as a major force in the legalization movement, with his cafe and BC Marijuana Party headquarters in downtown Vancouver serving as his command center.

Emery made millions selling seeds and plowed most of the proceeds back into the legalization movement, funding marijuana parties and other activism in the US, Canada, and overseas. He remains undaunted by the specter of five years behind bars and is vowing to continue his fight from within the American drug war gulag.

Emery and his supporters are urging the Canadian government to take action to allow him to serve his sentence in his home country, as is usually the case, but has not been the case for some drug suspects under the ruling Conservative government. To find out more about Emery, his case, and the campaign to get him home, visit Cannabis Culture, the magazine he founded and which his wife, Jodie, now manages.

Shortly before Emery was extradited last Thursday, Jodie Emery accused the Canadian government of helping the US government try to "silence the most vocal opponent of the drug war." But the US government will find, as so many have before, that nothing you do will make Marc Emery shut up.

Canada: Marc Emery Extradited to United States

Canada's "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery was extradited to the US Thursday morning. He had been imprisoned in Canada for the last 10 days after Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson signed extradition papers. He is now a prisoner in a federal detention facility, where he awaits a court hearing Monday in Seattle.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/emerytour1.jpg
Marc Emery, on his Farewell Tour last year
Emery faces five years in prison in a plea agreement reached with prosecutors last fall. He and two of his employees, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, had been indicted in 2005 by a Seattle grand jury for selling pot seeds over the Internet to customers in the US. Rainey and Williams earlier reached plea agreements that allowed them to serve probationary sentences in Canada.

Emery has been a relentless campaigner for marijuana legalization and, before his arrest, plowed hundreds of thousands of dollars into the movement. The DEA infamously gloated at the time that it had brought down a major legalization advocate, a move that allowed Emery supporters to plausibly argue his arrest was politically motivated.

Emery and his supporters continue to agitate for his freedom, but now, their more immediate goal is to get him transferred to Canada to serve his sentence. That was once a standard practice for Canadians imprisoned south of the border, but the Conservative government has limited its use in recent years.

Emery supporters Thursday demonstrated in downtown Vancouver and blocked traffic. The campaign is calling for global protests Saturday in a Worldwide Rally to Free Marc Emery. For more information about how to help Emery's campaign, visit the magazine he founded, Cannabis Culture.

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