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Canada Goes to Pot
Canada makes marijuana legal,
and a national experiment begins
Today, Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Anyone age 19 or older in 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories can buy up to 30 grams of pot, enough to roll some 60 joints. Quebec’s age limit is 18, but its newly elected government vows to raise the age to 21. Supplying marijuana to a minor is a federal crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
The Canadian government left it to its provinces to make the rules, which differ from place to place. Some will sell marijuana from government-owned stores, others from private stores, still others from a mix of both. Most Canadians can buy marijuana online from a government owned website.
Only marijuana seeds, flowers, and cannabis oil may be sold now. Edibles -- like pot-infused jelly beans, peanut butter, and coffee -- and other marijuana products cannot be sold until next year. Except in Quebec and Manitoba, Canadians may grow up to 4 plants per household.
Reactions to this major policy shift are mixed.
Industry spokesmen are thrilled. “The fact that we are moving away from a Prohibition model is a victory for human rights and social justice, an economic windfall for the Canadian economy, and a sign of social progress,” says a director at Canopy Growth, a marijuana producer valued at more than $10 billion.
Others not so much. The Canadian Medical Association Journal wrote that legalization is an “uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.” It calls for an end to the law if marijuana use increases.
Read New York Times story here. To learn what is legal and what is not in each of Canada’s provinces, read this New York Times story here.

Two viewpoints: Concerned citizens
The day Canada goes to pot
Under the banner of “A Grey Balloon Day For Canada – Legal Marijuana is Nothing To Celebrate,” concerned citizens are rallying to express their dismay over legalization. They are focused on the harms of marijuana on health, second-hand marijuana smoke exposure in the home, and drugged driving.
They worry that the federal government failed to produce a child risk assessment of legalization, an environmental impact study, or a thorough cost analysis.
“The government is barreling ahead with no evidence that its approach will reduce youth use or meaningfully curtail the black market, the stated goals for taking the country down the legalization path,” writes Pamela McCall.
Read her article in The Conservative Woman here.

Two viewpoints: The marijuana industry
Ahead of Canada’s big day,
forecast for cannabis industry gets a boost

Canada legalized marijuana for medical use in 2001 but greatly expanded the industry five years ago. A new projection, based on marijuana’s commercialization since then, believes legalization “’is the first step’” in establishing marijuana as ‘a key functional ingredient’ that will disrupt a group of consumer product categories collectively worth up to $500 billion,” according to Marijuana Business Daily.

The prediction is based on several factors: 
  • Big money invested in marijuana companies in Canada expected to reach $8 billion by the end of this year 
  • Big soft drink, alcohol, and tobacco brands getting into the business,
  • Big hits in the US, such as DEA giving permission to Canadian grower Tilray to export marijuana to the US for medical research.
During the first three quarters of this year, at least 40 US marijuana companies have been acquired by Canadian firms. Says one industry spokesman: 

“The time to invest in the U.S. is now. To the latecomers are left the bones.”

 Read Marijuana Business Daily article here.

Combustible and Electronic Tobacco and Marijuana Products in Hip-Hop Music Videos, 2013-2017

Researchers analyzed Billboard’s weekly top 50 R&B/hip-hop songs that also had music videos over a four-year period (2013-2017). Their goal was to assess whether and how many of the videos contained images or use of tobacco or marijuana products and implements that enable use such as hookahs and vaping instruments. 

Nearly half of the 796 music videos studied contained such materials.

The researchers conclude, “The genre’s broad appeal, use of branded products by influential artists, and rise of electronic product and marijuana use may contribute to a growing public health concern of tobacco and marijuana use” among adolescents and young adults.

Read JAMA Internal Medicine article here.

In Memoriam: Herbert D. Kleber, MD

It is no small irony that on the day Canada legalizes marijuana for recreational use comes news of the death of a scientist who not only helped revolutionize addiction treatment but fully understood that drug availability drives use and increases the number of people who need treatment.

Herb Kleber, MD, was a psychiatrist who insisted that addiction treatment should be based on scientific evidence rather than the moralistic, punitive measures practiced at the time he began his career. He also served as a mentor to many in the treatment and prevention fields and will be deeply missed by all whose lives he touched—patients, students, colleagues, and mentees. 

“Dr. Kleber was a pioneer in researching the pathology of addiction and in developing treatments to help patients reduce the severe discomforts of withdrawal, avoid relapse, and stay in recovery, says the New York Times.

His work at Yale, where he headed the medical school’s drug dependence unit, conducted research, and taught students, many of whom followed him into the treatment field, led to his appointment by President George H.W. Bush to become the nation’s first deputy drug czar, serving with William Bennett. Formally known as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the office coordinates efforts among all federal agencies that have some role in reducing drug demand or drug supply.

He left the White House to found the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (now the Center on Addiction) with former HHS Secretary Joseph Califano Jr. From there he was recruited by Columbia University to establish the center on substance use with his second wife, a prominent addiction researcher, who died in 2001. The center has become one of the largest and most respected research programs in the nation. 

“His legacy will be the trained generations of professionals who will carry on his work and the thousands of lives that have been saved,” said Mr. Califano.

Read Dr. Kleber’s obituary here.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action's website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

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The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor—Sue Rusche
Editor—Nicole Carter
IT Consultant—Lee Clontz
Social Media Coordinator—Margarita Eberline
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Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.
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