Releaf Magazine
19Nov/140

Oxford names ‘vape’ 2014 Word of the Year

The Oxford Dictionaries named "vape" 2014's Word of the Year.

Oxford defines the verb as "to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device." It was added to the dictionary in August. Vape can also be used as a noun for the e-cigarette and for the act of inhaling itself.

"You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year," Oxford explained on the OxfordWords blog announcing the decision.

Runners-up included:

Bae: n. used as a term of endearment for one's romantic partner.

Budtender: n. a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.

Contactless: adj. relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc., to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.

Indyref: n. an abbreviation of "independence referendum," in reference to the referendum held in Scotland on Sept. 18, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" Voters answered: No.

Normcore: n. a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.

Slacktivism: n., informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.

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18Nov/140

U.N. says state legalization of marijuana violates international law

By Jessica Chasmar
The decision by some U.S. states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana violates international law, the U.N. anti-narcotics chief said Wednesday.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has vowed to fight state-by-state legalization in Washington next week, Reuters reported.

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” the Russian diplomat said.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told Fox News that Mr. Fedotov is technically right but has no leg to stand on.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “Fedotov is going through the motions. … but the decision’s already been made.”

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has said it was giving individual states leeway to carry out their own laws. Residents of Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., voted Nov. 4 to allow for the recreational use of marijuana, following the path already paved by Washington state and Colorado. Pro-legalization advocates have now set their sights on California and Massachusetts to join the legalization movement.

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VIA Washington Times

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17Nov/140

Is America ready for marijuana vending machines?

BY MIRANDA GREEN

PICTURE BY THEO STROOMER

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The legalization of recreational marijuana in four states and Washington, D.C., has opened the door to a slew of enterprising businesses such as marijuana food trucks, cannabis cooking classes and potentially….pot vending machines.

Bio-tech company Kaneh Bosm is working to bring Automated Dispensary Machines—or ADMs—to the U.S. and Canada. The company’s plan is to fix what it says are some noticeable issues plaguing the current marijuana dispensary industry—such as disappearing inventory, improper handling of the product and loss of the cash-only profits.

“It’s such a simple elegant solution to dispensing this product,” said Michael Martinez president of the company. “In a nut shell dispensers are very similar to a deli. There are a lot of products open behind and in front of the counter. There’s a cleanliness issue there as well as a loss issue. If it’s sitting there open, it’s drying out, the product is losing weight and it’s getting oxidized.”

He says the ADMs can fix all of these problems as well as provide convenience for customers on the go.

Think of them as tricked-out vending machines that can hold multiple cannabis varietals, edibles and other products such as THC spray. Kaneh Bosm does not build the ADMs but distributes them through a manufacturer in Europe.

If introduced in North America, buyers will be able to scan their IDs into the machines to prove they are of legal purchasing age and then choose the product they want from an LED screen. Some specialty machines will be equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS locating technology, so customers with apps can find the nearest location. All the machines will have special climate control options to ensure that cannabis is kept in prime conditions.

In addition to their practicality, Martinez hopes the machines could give customers peace of mind.

“From a medical side—particularly suffers with AIDS who have a compromised immune system—it’s a big deal for them to have other people handling their product,” he said.

The sealed, pre-weighed products in the ADMs would get rid of that problem.

An ADM will cost $40,000, but Kaneh Bosm is planning to offer leasing agreements to dispensaries that will run about $2,000 a month, depending on the chosen bells and whistles.

The ADMs might seem like a big upfront expense, but, Martinez says, they will save businesses in the long run. First they can replace traditional employees who have to hand-measure orders. And second they could potentially run 24/7 depending on local regulations. That money, he says, could add up.

“If the machine sells 1 lb per day—and they do that 360 days a year, that’s 1.6 million in gross revenues just out of the machine,” Martinez said.

Kaneh Bosm is not the first company to market marijuana vending machines. In 2010, entrepreneur Vincent Mehdizadeh patented a product in California called Medbox.

While the product is not yet available for public use, Mehdizadeh told Adweek in July it is being used behind the counter as a secure safe by dispensaries. Mehdizadeh said he won’t offer Medbox as customer-facing product until “social sentiment catches up to us.”

Kaneh Bosm on the other hand, is moving full speed ahead.The company just started to rollout its trial ADMs in Canada. It has yet to offer any systems in the United States but is currently fielding interest.

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VIA WPTV

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14Nov/140

Meet The 8 Hottest Publicly Traded Marijuana Companies

With pot now legal in two states for the past year,and decriminalized, conditionally legal, or medically prescribed in many more, ganja startups are gaining traction — and the growth potential is huge, if other states legalize. So far this year, pot stocks are up 147%, handily beating the S&P’s more modest gains, according to consulting and financial services firm Viridian Capital & Research.

Which companies are doing well? Viridian has created a cannabis industry report that tracks the progress of publicly traded companies in the emerging sector. For now, they’re all trading over-the-counter, but watch for that to change.

It’s a Wild West atmosphere in the sector, given that the product is still, ahem, mostly illegal. A few pot companies were forced to cease trading in recent months, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) continues to actively discourage investors from putting money into cannabis stocks. Some pot startups lack professional management, a board of directors, or proper financial controls, Viridian notes — so due diligence is important.

Despite all the reasons to avoid pot stocks, some cannabis companies are impressing investors. Viridian categorizes publicly traded the companies into ten business types. Three are off to a slow start this year — cannabis-related real estate, security services, and software — while the rest have seen at least one company’s stock double in value or more.

The hottest area right now is, unsurprisingly, consulting (up 665% sectorwide through the third quarter of 2014). No doubt plenty of businesses want advice on how to get into this line of work. In second place is cannabis-related biotechnology (up 339%).

It’s no surprise that several of the hot stocks out of the gate aren’t startups, but established businesses switching their focus into cannabis. Investors do love a track record.

Which companies had the best stock returns in the first three quarters of 2014? Here’s a rundown, with top performers listed first (full disclosure: I do not trade any over-the-counter stocks):

1. Novus Acquisition & Development (+3,100%) — This red-hot, Miami-based consulting company provides a medical cost-savings plan for people who’d like to receive alternative medical treatment — namely, cannabis. For less than $20 a month, subscribers receive steep discounts on the cost of their prescribed weed. Last month, Novus rolled out its Medplan benefits network to states where medical pot is legal, and hired another sector startup, organic grower TKO Organics, to grow and dispense its patients’ ganja in seven states.

2. Abattis Bioceuticals Corp. (+1,600%) — Hailing from Vancouver, B.C., Abattis provides cultivation systems, extraction equipment, and consulting services to growers. The company raised $3 million in private placements this year, and went on an acquisition spree. Abattis snapped up fertilizer formulas from one company, a majority interest in marijuana testing-lab Phytalytics, and a one-third stake in a payments company. Last month, though, Abattis filed suit against former Phytalytics executives, whom it alleges formed a rival company.

3. United Cannabis Corp. (+1,025%) — This cannabis consulting and product-making firm has been providing consulting to medical marijuana companies since California first allowed prescribed pot in 1999. United is seeking to patent a super-strong marijuana pill it’s developed. The Denver-based firm even snagged a consulting gig last month for Jamaican government officials contemplating decriminalization moves. (Who knew it wasn’t legal already?)

4. Cannabis Sativa Inc. (+969%) — Products maker Cannabis Sativa recently bought pot research and development firm Kush and named former two-term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson president and CEO of the merged company. Johnson, a sometime Libertarian party presidential candidate, is joined by chairman Steve Kubby, who’s been a Libertarian candidate for governor of California.

Cannabis Sativa markets its wares under the name “hi,” starting with its hi lozenges. Bet a lot of other pot startups will be wishing they grabbed that branding first, or their snappy slogan: “products of higher consciousness.”

5. mCig, Inc. (+244%) — Seattle-area herbal cigarette and vaporizing-device maker mCig is adapting its pocket-sized technology for marijuana use. These devices have the advantage of allowing users to inhale the vaporized product, rather than lung-damaging smoke.

6. Greengro Technologies (+225%) — In March, retailer Greengro of Anaheim, Calif., raised $875,000 in a private placement. The company acquired retailer Vertical Hydrogarden and reopened the store in March, as the first in a planned franchise chain. Greengro is also doing a multi-stage purchase of a construction company, for future expansion. As in most product industries, the retail side is huge — this is the biggest sector in Veridian’s marijuana-stock index.

7. TerraTech Corp. (+157%) — This established Irvine, Calif.-based grower and retailer is moving into marijuana cultivation, and had the biggest fundraising of any public company in the sector, closing a $6.5 million debt facility in February. TerraTech is developing a research and cannabis extraction facility aimed at the medical marijuana market. The company is also collaborating with vaporizer firm Vaporin to create cannabis-product vending machines for the medical market.

8. Mentor Capital, Inc. (+155%) — Silicon-Valley investment firm Mentor dates to 1985, but now it’s moving out of cancer cures and into marijuana in a big way, with a $23 million fund. The company buys substantial stakes in cannabis companies, such as the $2 million in funding that went to industry marketing and research firm The Cannabis Advocacy Machine in June. Mentor also provided $100,000 in seed funding for Nevada Cannabis Ventures, which aims to be a first-mover in that state.

On the down side, Mentor last month filed suit against one marijuana edibles company, Bhang Chocolates, for the return of $1.5 million.

No doubt there’s massive consolidation ahead in all these varied sectors of the cannabis economy, as startups scramble for their piece of what is so far a modest-sized market. But if states continue to legalize and decriminalize, these early movers in the space are well-positioned to flourish.

It’s not often that an entirely new industry emerges in the U.S. economy, so some investors are clearly willing to gamble that they might pick a big winner in the pot sweeptstakes.
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VIA Forbes

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13Nov/140

Gov.-Elect Charlie Baker will ‘vigorously oppose’ marijuana legalization

Massachusetts Governor - Elect Charlie Baker,lfet speaks with reporters following a meeting with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, right at City Hall Friday . ( MARK M.MURRAY / THE REPUBLICAN ) (The Republican file photo by / Mark M. Murray )

BOSTON - Governor-elect Charlie Baker pledged to "vigorously oppose" the legalization of recreational marijuana, even as he plans to move forward with the implementation of medical marijuana.

Supporters of legalized marijuana have already started laying the foundation for a 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. Similar ballot questions passed in Colorado and Washington in 2012.

Baker, asked about the issue in an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com in Boston on Monday, said, "I'm going to oppose that and I'm going to oppose that vigorously ... with a lot of help from a lot of other people in the addiction community."

Baker, a Republican, said many people dealing with addiction believe marijuana use is a "significant first step" toward addiction to other drugs. "There's a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it's just plain bad," Baker said.

Massachusetts, by ballot vote, has already approved the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and the use of medical marijuana. However, although the medical marijuana ballot initiative passed in 2012, so far, no dispensaries have opened. Medical marijuana advocates have complained about the slow pace of the licensing process, which has been marred by problems. Several applicants whose licenses were approved were later found to have problems with their applications – for example, applicants mischaracterized their local support or had problems with marijuana dispensaries in other states. The process resulted in several lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.

Baker declined to comment on his next steps regarding the licensing process or the provisional licenses granted by the administration of outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat. Baker said he needs to learn more about where the process sits today and about the pending legal challenges. He reiterated comments he made on the campaign trail that he is disappointed the administration did not consult with experts in pain and cancer treatment.

Baker indicated that he will move forward with trying to get the dispensaries open. "I think waiting is a bad idea. There are clearly people who are looking for Massachusetts to get its act together and move forward on this," Baker said.

Baker also stressed his commitment to addressing opiate addiction – which has become a big issue over the last year after a spate of overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The state legislature passed a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing drug addiction by requiring insurers to cover substance abuse treatment and implementing new regulations regarding data reporting, the development of abuse-deterrent drugs and more. Baker, a former health insurance executive, said one issue that he thinks the bill did not adequately address is the frequency with which doctors write prescriptions for addictive pain medication. "I want to have a very open and frank discussion" with health care providers about the abuse of pain medication, Baker said.

On health care more generally, Baker said the state needs to do more to create transparency in health care pricing. He said today, different providers provide the same health care services with the same outcome, but the price differences can be 300 or 400 percent. "The state can do a lot more with the information it's already collected to make that case. I also think at some point we should get to the point where people have to post their prices," Baker said.

Patrick's administration did recently unveil a new website that links to cost estimator tools provided by all of the state's insurers, where customers can search for the cost of common procedures performed by different doctors based on the provisions of their health care plan.

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Via Mass Live

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12Nov/140

The Problem With New York’s Marijuana Policy

While running for office, Bill de Blasio promised that as mayor he would amend the practice of singling out young black and Latino men for unfair and, in some cases, illegal arrests for possessing minuscule amounts of marijuana. Though the charges are often dismissed, the arrests can cost people their jobs and access to housing or the prospect of joining the armed forces.

Mayor de Blasio tackled part of this problem on Monday when he announced a new policy under which people found with tiny amounts of marijuana would typically be issued a ticket akin to a traffic summons, instead of being arrested and charged with a crime.

The policy, however, does not reach the fundamental problem of discriminatory policing that disproportionately affects minorities, even though whites use marijuana at similar levels. Moreover, by shifting marijuana cases from the regular courts into the summons system, which does not identify the accused by race, the city loses the ability to track the disparate impact that petty marijuana prosecutions are having on minority communities. The city has to make the summons system more transparent.

This is not the first effort to reduce unnecessary marijuana arrests. In the 1970s, the State Legislature barred police from arresting people for possessing trivial amounts of the drug unless it was being smoked or displayed in public. The number of arrests plummeted to fewer than 1,000 in 1990. But, by 2011, the number had risen astronomically to 50,000. Part of the increase was related to the police illegally charging people with “public possession” after tricking them into emptying their pockets during street stops.

Arrests dropped to 28,600 last year after the police commissioner at the time, Raymond Kelly, told officers to stay within the law. Mr. de Blasio felt compelled to reduce arrests even further after a report last month showed that in some months his Police Department made more low-level marijuana arrests than were made during comparable periods in the Bloomberg administration. The analysis also showed that 86 percent of the people arrested were black or Latino.

Under the new program, people found in possession 25 grams or less of marijuana that is in public view — and not being smoked — would, in most cases, be given a ticket. That’s better than being arrested. But a trip to summons court can also lead to a permanent record and a nightmare encounter with the police system. Courts can issue bench warrants for people who miss court dates, who then can be arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted and held for days in jail waiting to go before a judge.

A class-action suit pending in federal court has also raised serious questions about the fairness of the summons system as a whole. The plaintiffs in the case, Stinson v. City of New York, assert that nearly 700,000 summonses were issued in recent years by officers who lacked probable cause and were acting under pressure to meet quotas.

On the face of it, the new marijuana enforcement system should be more rational than the old. But it is still flawed. The only way to judge its success or failure is to find out what happens to the people who are exposed to it. And that requires making the summons court system much more transparent.
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Via The NY Times

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9Nov/142

Colorado Residents Get A “Marijuana Tax” Refund

Thanks to TABOR, Colorado's taxpayer bill-of-rights law, tax revenue that comes in over a certain threshold is mandated to be returned to the taxpayers. Colorado is expecting excess revenue this year, as Governor John Hickenlooper has said, and a rebate will be in order.
Why? Well, partly because taxes raised from the sale of marijuana have fueled the government's coffers above and beyond what had been expected:

Gov. John Hickenlooper's proposed $26.8 billion Colorado budget, unveiled Monday afternoon, includes two rebates for taxpayers.

A $30.5 million rebate for new marijuana taxes is coming. Total state marijuana revenue was different than what was projected in the election blue book for 2013's Proposition AA. Because the estimate was off, under TABOR, the state must refund the money being collected or ask voters again to keep it.

I had previously written about the dangers of expecting larger-than-projected tax returns, especially for something that is in part a "sin tax", but it does look like Colorado has outperformed its expectations here. Caution is still needed, however: this isn't a reason to overproject tax revenue for the next year going forward when it comes to marijuana. Sin taxes are unpredictable, and sin taxes based on a newly-legal activity likely to be more so.

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VIA Townhall

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7Nov/142

Marijuana on the march in the US: in which states can you smoke weed, and which states will legalize it next?

Wave of ballots could see the recreational use of the drug legalized in nine states within three years

The move to allow the recreational use of pot across the USA is gathering pace following a wave of referenda across the country.

By the end of 2016 the drug could be legal in nine states if voters back the move in ballots planned for Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.

Earlier this week Oregon and Alaska joined Washington and Colorado in allowing people to smoke pot. Washington DC also backed the move - although Congress could, in theory, still reverse the decision.

The medical use of cannabis is already legal in 23 states and they were joined by Guam, the first American territory ease its cannabis laws, in a vote earlier this week.

In addition several towns across the USA also backed moves to allow pot smoking within their own boundaries.

Voters in South Portland, Maine backed the move - joining its neighbour Portland in doing so.

Similar local initiatives were backed in six towns and cities in Michigan - Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Voters in two major conurbations in New Mexico - Alburquerque and Santa Fe - also overwhelmingly backed a change in the law.

In doing so the towns have set local police a quandary, with officers having to choose whether to continue to enforce state laws banning marijuana or local statutes which allow it.

“What we have here is a patchwork situation with police in some areas enforcing local ordinances and not arresting people with small amounts of marijuana and others still applying state bans,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst with Marijuana Policy Project.

Meanwhile in California, possession of up to an ounce of pot is treated in the same way as a speeding ticket with a fine - but no criminal record.

This is significant because even a minor criminal conviction can lead to problems getting a job, loan, student place or a home.

With many of the country’s older voters having been pot-smokers in the 1960s, there appears to have been a sea-change in the American public’s attitude towards pot.

Bill Clinton, for example, ran into trouble after admitting he had smoked pot as a student at Oxford - although he rather lamely added that he did not inhale.

Rand Paul, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is known to have a relaxed view on cannabis - having promoted an amendment to deny the Drug Enforcement Agency funds to pursue growers of legal medical marijuana.

Barack Obama made no attempt to deny he had smoked pot in his youth. Asked whether he had inhaled, he replied: “I inhaled frequently, that was the point.”

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VIA The Telegraph UK

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5Nov/142

Voters Lit Up for Marijuana in the Midterms

“You did it! Isn’t this amazing?” Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said to a room full of supporters in Portland on Tuesday night after being reelected. But he wasn’t celebrating his own win, he was celebrating another victory for legal pot.

“You knew we could do better than the failed policy of prohibition,” Blumenauer said.

Voters in Oregon on Tuesday chose to follow Colorado and Washington state in passing a ballot measure that will create the country’s third legal market for recreational marijuana. Measure 91, which passed with 54% of the vote, makes it legal for residents 21 and older to possess and grow marijuana, and tasks the state liquor control commission with regulating the substance.

A similar proposal in Alaska remained to be decided as of late Tuesday night.

Legalization advocates also won a victory in Washington, D.C. With nearly 70% of the vote in favor, residents in the nation’s capital adopted what some industry experts call a “soft legalization” measure. While the District won’t have a regulated market like Oregon, it’s now legal for residents 21 and older to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants at home, as well as give 1 oz. of marijuana to someone else, without payment. Selling pot is still not allowed.

The D.C. news comes with caveats for residents ready to celebrate: the new rules apply only to those who live in the three-quarters of D.C. that is not on federal land, where the substance remains verboten. Congress also has the power to step in and supersede the actions of D.C. officials.

Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize medical marijuana, joining the District of Columbia and 23 states. But legalization advocates lost a their battle for a similar proposal in Florida. After deep-pocketed advocates on both sides spent millions, the measure to legalize medical pot got 57% of the vote but needed 60% to pass. Big spenders like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who shelled out $98 in the 2012 elections, donated roughly $5 million to defeat the measure. For now, this bellwether remains more purple than green.

South Portland, Maine, legalized marijuana in a somewhat symbolic vote, while voters in Lewiston, Maine, shot down a similar proposal. The measure makes it legal for residents to possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana, though consuming or displaying weed in public remains illegal. More important, the drug remains illegal on a state and federal level, and the measure did not address taxation or regulation of a legalized market. Portland, Maine’s largest city, passed a similar measure in 2013.
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VIA Time

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4Nov/142

Medical marijuana applicant takes Health Canada to court

Grow facility near Mission, B.C., fights back after being denied a license

A B.C. company is taking Health Canada to court after the department denied it a licence to produce medical marijuana. The backlogged application process 'has essentially come to a standstill,' a lawyer says. (The Associated Press)

Health Canada’s troubled medical-marijuana program is again under fire, with the launch of the first court challenge by a company denied a government licence to grow the product commercially.

Lawyers for New Age Medical Solutions Inc., which has a grow facility in rural British Columbia, filed a motion in Federal Court last week against Health Minister Rona Ambrose, asking that a judge review the decision not to grant a licence.

The company, founded and run by marijuana activist Sam Mellace, applied almost a year ago to become a licensed producer, under new Health Canada rules that are creating a billion-dollar commercial industry.

Health Canada rejected the application Aug. 10, saying the firm had not hired an acceptable quality-assurance specialist.

Mellace retained the Toronto firm Chaitons LLP, which is seeking the court’s permission to extend a deadline for legal action. Papers were filed last week. Mellace could not be contacted and his lawyer declined comment.

An Ottawa lawyer who specializes in assisting companies with their grow applications to Health Canada said the case may trigger other legal challenges from companies denied licences.

“I know, speaking to many applicants, that nobody really wanted to be the first one,” said Trina Fraser. “The barn door is open now.… There’s a feeling there’s strength in numbers.”

Health Canada swamped

As of last month, 226 applications had been refused, said Health Canada spokesman Sean Upton, who confirmed the department has been advised of the legal challenge.

Health Canada has been swamped with more than 1,100 applications from firms wanting to cash in on an industry the government says could be worth $1.3 billion in a decade.

Only 22 licences to produce have been issued, none in the last few months, while some 291 are still in process. (About half of all applications have been returned as incomplete.)

Fraser said the approval process has slowed to a crawl, prompting other complaints to Health Canada as investors get nervous about whether there will be any payback.

'They're burning through money like crazy,'—Trina Fraser, Ottawa lawyer for firms seeking medical-marijuana production licences

“Everybody’s going bananas, out of their minds, frustrated with the process,” she said.

“A lot of these applicants have already started or finished construction, they’ve got investors to answer to, and they’re burning through money like crazy.”

Canada’s commercial medical marijuana industry kicked into high gear in April this year. The department has dramatically changed the rules of supply, from a cottage industry in which approved patients grow their own or buy from small producers, to a free-enterprise system with no limits on the number the large-scale growers charging what the market will bear.

The changeover has come with problems, including a so-far successful court challenge that allows some patients to continue to get their supply under the old rules, three product recalls and complaints about the initially high cost of medical marijuana in a free market.

Company may shut down

Mellace has a 6,000-square-foot facility near Mission, B.C., now empty and not in production. He said he has invested some $1 million in the project, half of it for research and development, and that he planned to employ between 60 and 150 people.

Rona Ambrose 20140818

Health Minister Rona Ambrose speaks to the Canadian Medical Association in Ottawa in August. The minister is being taken to Federal Court after a company was refused a medical marijuana production licence. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“The failure of the minister to issue the company a licence is highly prejudicial and will cause the company to have to shut its operations,” says the court filing in Toronto.

Many of the 291 firms with pending applications for a lucrative production licence have their own grievances, as an opaque approval process leaves them guessing about when, if ever, they’ll get a licence.

“They’re changing the rules as they go,” said Fraser, who has acted for or spoken to dozens of applicants. “There was certainly a first-mover advantage because the bar is much higher now.”

Health Canada, she said, has cranked up security requirements since the first wave, leaving firms now in a “never-never land, security-clearance abyss.”

Many businesses still in the queue are hurting financially, their lawyers say. Simply assembling the paperwork for a credible application is about a $50,000 investment, followed by leasing costs for facilities and payroll, which can drive costs over a million dollars.

Fraser cites documents she obtained under the Access to Information Act as showing that what had been a two- to three-month application process in 2013 has become an 18- to 24-month ordeal, partly because new security requirements appear to have created a backlog at the RCMP, which does inspections under the new program.

Vancouver lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who has worked with many applicants, agrees that Health Canada’s processing has ground to a halt.

“The application process has essentially come to a standstill and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people that want to be growing and selling medical marijuana to sick Canadians that have had their applications disappear into the void.”

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VIA CBC News

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