CANADIAN CANNABIS IN 2017

Canada’s Liberal government announced on April 20 this year that it would be introducing new legislation next spring. A nine-member task force nominated by the provinces and territories will be talking to provincial, territorial and municipal governments, native people, youth and health experts on the subject to determine the intricacies of how the regulation and accompanying legal jargon will unfold around the law.

The task force will be chaired by Anne McLellan, a former deputy prime minister under Paul Martin who has been publicly anti- cannabis for years. Of the eight other task force members, five are doctors so make of that what you will.

The panel is expected to report back to the government by November before legislation is introduced in spring 2017. Regarding cultivation, medical marijuana patients in Canada are no longer limited to getting the drug from a licensed producer. Under new laws, patients can grow their own cannabis to fill their prescription or get someone else to grow it for them. Judge Michael Phelan said in his Feb. 24 decision those rules that “limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one’s own marijuana or choose one’s own supplier” restricted patient liberties under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He gave the federal government six months to come up with new rules which were adopted on August 24 earlier this year. The immediate future for recreational cultivation doesn’t look good, though the government is looking to the task force for advice on this one too.

THE EARLY RAVIN GETS THE BUDS

Cannabis legalization began in Alaska long before Ballot Measure 8 legalized medical marijuana in 1998, and even longer since Proposition 2 effectively legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. The truth is, Alaska was the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana; believe it or not, growing cannabis has been legal in Alaska since the 1970’s.

A long time ago Anchorage attorney, Irwin Ravin decided to challenge Alaska’s marijuana laws in an unconventional manner. It all started on October 11, 1972, when Irwin Ravin was intentionally arrested for refusing to sign for a traffic ticket while carrying cannabis on his person. Thanks to Alaska’s Constitutional right to privacy, the result was a 1975 ruling known as Ravin vs. State by the Alaska Supreme Court that stated that Alaskans could have cannabis in their home for personal use.

Subsequently a 1990 Ballot Initiative attempted to recriminalize marijuana in Alaska, but the court held up the Ravin ruling claiming the same constitutional right to possess for personal consumption citing that possession of less than one-quarter pound of marijuana was unconstitutional. The amount of marijuana allowed at your home was limited to one ounce in June 2006 by the Alaska State Legislature.

To this day, the laws in Alaska regarding cannabis are still very complex and flat out confusing. Depending on who you ask about the legality of cannabis in the state, they will probably tell you a different story regarding exactly how much you can possess; but one thing is for sure, Alaskans have been legally growing and possessing since 1975.

YES ON 64–LET’S GET IT RIGHT

Multiple, separate cannabis initiatives were filed in California for the 2016 ballot this fall, but Proposition 64 was the only one to qualify. California Proposition 64, the California Cannabis Legalization Initiative, will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot as an initiated state statute. A “yes” vote supports legalizing recreational cannabis and hemp under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes.

A “no” vote opposes this proposal legalizing recreational cannabis and hemp under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes. In 1996, California became the first state in the nation to legalize medical cannabis when voters approved Proposition 215; and in 2010, voters were given the chance to vote on the legalization of recreational cannabis with the appearance of Proposition 19 which was ultimately defeated. California voters were first presented with a cannabis-related ballot measure, also called Proposition 19, in 1972. The measure would have decriminalized marijuana use and possession for people 18 years of age or older upon voter approval.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in California, but recreational marijuana is illegal. Proposition 64 was designed to legalize recreational marijuana and hemp under state law and establish a 15 percent sales tax as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for qualifying medical marijuana sales and cultivation. The initiative was also designed to prevent licenses for large-scale marijuana businesses for five years in order to prevent “unlawful monopoly power.”