Saturday, March 11, 2017

On Medical and Recreational Marijuana.

Someone was telling me about medical marijuana. I’m a bit of a skeptic in terms of some of the claimed benefits.

It might reduce inflammation, it might kill pain or restore the appetite of someone wasting away from the nausea related to chemotherapy. The marijuana liquids may be of some use to those whose lungs are shot, and yet I strongly doubt that it has much ‘healing powers’. It’s not going to cure your cancer, in spite of stories on Facebook that claim otherwise. Corporate interests will be producing a product. Their claims for the efficacy of this drug aren’t very credible in my opinion, especially when it is presented as a be-all, cure-all sort of a product.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is one aspect of an ongoing debate, the legalization or decriminalization is another.

If medical marijuana is a legitimate medical expense, then it will also be a legitimate medical deduction on your income taxes. The world really has changed, when people are saving their receipts for an income tax deduction. And if a person is a client of the Ontario Disability Support Program, at some point, one must expect that it will turn up in the ODSP Approved Drug Book, which all physicians in Ontario refer to when prescribing for clients of the ODSP. That’s because medications are expensive. ODSP clients are covered for the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan, (OHIP), there are drug benefits, and there are also eye-glass and dental benefits. Simply put, doctors don’t want to prescribe something the patient can’t afford and probably won’t buy, and so they refer to the book. The other thing is, they're looking for generics, as the ODSP buys on price--hence the prevalence of bug-juice like Larazepam.

So, at some point, the ODSP will be buying medical marijuana for those who have been prescribed the drug. People’s insurance companies will be paying for medical marijuana.

Hospitals may have to dispense it to in-patients, and provide smoking areas, or more likely rely on the liquid forms of the drug.

If police pull over a vehicle and the driver has medical marijuana in their possession, and the proper medical license to show the officer, there’s not much they can do except make an assessment of the level of impairment. Does the car smell like smoke? Are they slurring their words, are the eyes all pink? What answers have they provided to certain basic questions? 

Did they seem evasive…are there other drugs or alcohol present? What about persons of minor age in the vehicle. The list goes on.

Many prescribed meds can lead to diminished capacity to operate motor vehicles and heavy machinery. If you are impaired, the marijuana might be legal—what you did with it may not be.

You can still get in trouble, you can still break the law, and presumably, you can still lose the license to consume medical marijuana. Attempting to enter another country where it is not legal will still be an offense in that country.


Some (or much) of the same holds true for the legalized or decriminalized use of recreational marijuana.

The day that recreational pot use is legalized, the typical corporate landlord will probably be sending all tenants a letter and a legal document. They will lay out a new set of rules (more accurately, the first set of rules), regarding the growing of recreational marijuana in their buildings. If tenants refuse to sign and return such a document, the landlord may very well initiate eviction proceedings. Because they know what you’re going to do, don’t they?

Bear in mind, you don't have to actually grow dope to get evicted. All you really have to do is refuse to sign the document.

Homeowners may have the legal right to grow four pot plants on their own property.

Proposed legislation states that it must not be visible to the public. If someone can see into your backyard and they see pot plants, you may very well get a visit from the police or by-law control officer.

This goes double for people that want to grow pot on the apartment balcony—it must not be visible from the street, presumably from other tenants’ balconies, and not easily accessible to children or underage persons.

Now, if you want to grow pot in the bedroom closet, imagine, if you will, how the landlord is going to enjoy paying the electricity bill on that. While some apartments have separate meters for each unit, many don’t.

The landlord already has the right of inspection. It’s in the typical lease.

With 24 hours notice, they can come in, inspect the smoke alarm, change the battery, etc. If you’ve given notice, they can inspect, or they can show it to prospects with proper notice.

In the future, staff will be using their noses. They’ll try and determine if you’re growing pot, ‘against the terms of the lease’. This is all no-brainer stuff and yet a lot of the more immature or irresponsible tenants will be inclined to take a chance. Landlords are just going to love the jury-rigged, lash-up electrical systems that will be used in some cases. Their insurance company won't like it much either.

They’re not going to like the smell of pot plants wafting through the entire building.

The pressure on the landlord to jack rents across the board will be considerable given that their electrical bills are going up, up, and up some more…

A simple little change in the law reveals a rat’s nest of further implications, all or most of which must be anticipated before the law can even be written.


Read this previous post on marijuana legalization in Canada.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Will Canada's Cannabis Reform Look Like?

Cannabis Training University, (Wiki.)

Ian W. Cooper

What will Canada’s new marijuana laws look like?

For one thing, it won’t be a free-for-all. Most dope will be grown by corporations, although individuals may be allowed a small number of plants for personal use.

Part of the delay lies in working out the details, but on day one of simple legalization, stores will open and there will be product on the shelves. That’s pretty much a given.

For anyone without a license to produce from the government, cultivation, distribution and trafficking will still be offences.

Personal users will probably be allowed something like an ounce of pot in their possession for personal use only. Selling, distribution, and production of anything much more than that, will still be offences.

People under 21 or even 25 will not be legally able to procure or consume marijuana products. Persons who procure for them, will still be committing an offence. It’s a simple codicil to existing laws prohibiting contribution to the delinquency of a minor.

Smoking pot in public buildings, or in public places, will still be illegal, but then right now it’s illegal to smoke tobacco in any public building. The fines are pretty hefty as well. 

Anti-tobacco lobbyists have pushed these laws so far that smoking at a ball game at a public park is illegal. Where I live, (Ontario), it is illegal to smoke within nine metres (about thirty feet), from the door of a public building. (A mall, an office tower, privately owned, are considered public buildings due to the large number of people coming and going.)

It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle when there are children under a certain age (sixteen) in the car.

The same would obviously apply to marijuana consumption. It would still be an offence to operate a vehicle under the influence or impairment of alcohol or any drug. Many painkillers have a specific warning on the label, against operating heavy machinery while taking the medication. Marijuana smokers might be subject to sobriety tests or even blood tests if, in the case of accident or collision for example, it is believed that the use of the drug was a factor in the accident.

Many employers will ban smoking of any kind in the workplace. This would apply to marijuana as well.

David Shankbone, (Wiki.)

The time frame for bringing this legislation to fruition is unclear. However, there are a host of issues involved. Just getting the production and distribution system up and running will take time, and it would be done with proper regulation and oversight—regulations that haven’t been written yet.

At first glance, it seems unlikely that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the Beer Store would be involved in sales. Those retail operations are long-standing and it might be unwise to disrupt things that already work well enough.

It seems far more likely that a new, specialty type of store will emerge. Some of the stores will be pure corporate entities, chain stores with a particular brand emphasis. They may resemble dispensaries, but the need for medical marijuana distribution and licensing will obviously go away under simple legalization for personal use.

Some may stem from mom-and-pop single-outlet retailers, the typical head or smoke shop already familiar to most readers.

All other restricted drugs would still remain illegal. If a carload of six people all had a few grams of marijuana on them, and one person was found to be carrying a half a gram of coke, meth, unauthorized medications, (i.e. Oxycontin without a prescription) that one person would still get in trouble with the law. Police would still have the right and the duty to enforce traffic laws, and if they pull you over, and if they have any reason for suspicion, they would still have the right to search the car, and to ask a lot of questions. If they’re getting the wrong sort of answers, they still have the right to pat you down for their own safety. They also have the right to search the car. If you refuse and ask to speak to a lawyer, there’s a good chance you will be arrested, the car searched and impounded and you can call your attorney from the jail. (This part of the law is a bit more complex than that but it’s not the main point.)

Heroin, speed, hallucinogenics like mescal, LSD, psillocybin (magic mushrooms), would all still be illegal.

Landlords would be able to determine if a building was smoking or non-smoking. It’s private property, and if a person wants to live there, they sign a lease and live by the agreement they have entered into. In that sense, not much will change.

Anyone that’s ever lived in an apartment building has smelled marijuana in the halls. Staff come and go. They cannot be unaware of it. Yet the police need a complaint. People have rights. Cops, generally speaking, do not go door to door, knocking on doors and giving a good sniff—if anybody cares to answer the door in the first place.

Basically, they need specific information before they can really do much.

I don’t expect a whole lot to change there. The police will have a certain amount of time to go after more serious crimes, including more serious drug crimes. This will vary from department to department. For entities like the DEA (admittedly a U.S. institution), and the RCMP, Customs and Immigration, etc., looking for importers, or grow ops, and major distributors is a big part of the job. In the future, there will be little reason for people to try and import marijuana into Canada. For the average municipal or provincial police officer, simple pot crimes takes up so much time in a day but no more—they’re also out there busting shoplifters, drunk drivers, investigating traffic accidents, break and enters, and the always popular domestic disturbance, which certainly the DEA isn’t interested in.

It’s not in their mandate.

Asking around, the general consensus on the street (for what that’s worth), is that this is probably not going to happen overnight.

The odds are it will probably happen, in some form, before the next federal election.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

One Hot Bedtime Snack.

Holy, Schmoley.

Ian W. Cooper

Tonight’s bedtime snack is really something. We had some leftover Bush’s Beans, some leftover chili, and a couple of teaspoons of leftover, home-made beef gravy. We chopped up a couple of slices of slightly-gone onion. We put in a segment of frozen red pepper. We sprinkled that with a bit of salt, even more freshly ground black peppercorn, and then hit it again with our new garlic salt and chili shaker, also with a grinder-head on it, which we got for a buck and a half at a local dollar store.

On the bottom of the mess tin, before we threw anything else in, were a couple of frozen beef wieners, cut up with a sharp knife sort of thing.

Hopefully that won’t kill us.

And if that don’t make you crack a real good sweat about two a.m., I don’t know what will.

But this, I think, is one of the reasons for our longevity around here.