Month: October 2019

What should consumers know about cannabis edibles?

In the second season of the Netflix series Rotten, there is an entire episode exploring the world of cannabis edibles. It is highly recommended.

The documentary itself does a great job uncovering the latest innovations, the legal hurdles, and many questions left for consumers who want to try cannabis edibles where they’re legal.

Going beyond the documentary, what should consumers know about cannabis edibles?

Check out Rotten Season Two: “High on Edibles

First, we should make clear that markets are evolving as quick as the laws are being written.

Cannabis products containing THC, the actual psychoactive compound, remain a Schedule 1 drug per the Controlled Substances Act. This means the federal government believes cannabis (all strains) has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use, and there is a lack of safety even under medical supervision.

However, since 2018’s Farm Bill, industrial hemp has been legal, opening the door for cannabis strains that contain the non-psychoactive CBD to be sold around the country. I testified on this important subject at an FDA hearing this spring.

Therefore, though we’re mostly discussing THC edibles, there is also a booming market for CBD edibles in stores throughout the United States, the legality of which seems to be supported by the legalization of industrial hemp. It is a gray zone that has not been clarified by any federal law.

Therefore, for THC edibles, they’re only technically legal for general consumers in the eleven U.S. states (including D.C.) that have legalized recreational cannabis.

Though the states differ in regulation, the most mature markets are in California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, which have fully functioning legal markets that include edible cannabis products, topicals, and cannabis extracts.

CANADA

Canada legalized recreational cannabis in October 2018, but the first phase only included cannabis flowers, to be smoked or cooked into edibles by consumers.

My colleague David Clement has written about the problematic laws in Canada, which differ by province and will only allow edible products this year.

Though cannabis edibles and extracts will be technically legal by Oct. 17, 2019 (nearly a year after legalization), Health Canada rules require companies to inform the federal government of their plans starting on that date, at least 60 days before they can sell. So it’ll be December before we see any edibles, topicals, and extracts on Canadian shelves.

EUROPE

The only jurisdiction that has any legal market in (THC) cannabis is in the Netherlands, but it is far from a commercial market. Because the cultivation and shipment of cannabis are technically illegal, the Dutch system is actually also a gray area, one in which the government tolerates cannabis sales but gives very little legal legitimacy.

That said, many European countries have shops that sell edible CBD products, usually containing less than 0.3% THC in most countries. And several countries such as Germany and Spain do offer medical cannabis, including edibles, but only in highly regulated circumstances.

UNITED STATES

Returning to the legal THC edible markets for cannabis in the United States, and to the most mature markets mentioned above, legal products in these states have grown in popularity in the years since legislation.

The latest figures from 2017 in Colorado, for example, show that edibles and concentrates now make up 36% of cannabis sales, up from just 30.5% two years prior.

These edibles range in potency and form, but often are found in gummies, cakes, cookies, lollipops, capsules, chocolates, drinks, and much more. Cannabis “shake” – pre-ground flower – is often sold to be infused with food at home.

According to the market firm CBD Analytics, gummies are now the most popular edible item found in cannabis dispensaries. In the first four months of 2019, sales of gummies alone in California, Oregon, and Colorado amounted to more than $115 million.

The states differ in how many milligrams of THC they allow, but following Colorado’s rules, each package contains 10mg or 100mg, 10mg being the standard “dose”. It is recommended that newcomers not ingest more than 5mg during their first try. Too high of a dose will result in a strong effect on the user.

TESTING

Testing of edibles is a requirement in these jurisdictions, mostly for potency, dangerous substances, and pesticides, and the results of these tests must be made available to both regulators and consumers. Thus far, most testing is conducted by private labs, which must be licensed by the states.

TAXATION

Of course, THC cannabis products are highly taxed in the jurisdictions where they are legal. The average excise tax is 15%, but then one must also add significant sales taxes as well. The Tax Foundation keeps great documentation on the competing tax rates on cannabis in states where it is legal.

It is recommended that these jurisdictions keep taxation moderate, lest they push consumers back into the illegal market because of too high prices.

ADVERTISING AND BRANDING

Laws on advertising and banding also are quite different between legal jurisdictions for these products. As we have noted in our Policy Primer on Smart Cannabis Policy, Washington State has some of the better laws when it comes to how much information companies can share or how much branding they’re allowed to put on the packages for edibles.

More branding and the ability to advertise make it possible for consumers to establish loyalty and root out bad apples. They also give consumers better information on the potency of edibles, the form, tastes, and what the products are best used for. That’s crucial for consumer choice.

WHAT SHOULD CONSUMERS KNOW?

  • Only a handful of U.S. states have legal THC cannabis edible markets
  • CBD edibles, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, are now widely available around the country
  • Cannabis edibles range in potency and form
  • Testing of cannabis edibles is highly regulated and must be conducted to check for potency, dangerous substances, and pesticides
  • Taxes are generally very high, but should be moderate to encourage the legal market
  • Advertising and branding rules sometimes limit what companies are allowed to tell consumers

How Estonia’s cybersecurity strategy can help the EU cope with China

Fred Roeder, a German health economist and the managing director of the Consumer Choice Center, proposes Estonia to lead the European Union to a coherent cybersecurity strategy in order to protect consumers and businesses not only from cyberattacks from Russia but also from potentially much larger attacks and espionage from China.

Within the past twelve years, Estonia has emerged as a leading nation in the field of cyber defence and security. The cyberattacks of 2007 made Tallinn much earlier aware of the massive threat of online attacks compared with its larger NATO allies.

Especially under EU commissioner, Andrus Ansip (nominated by Estonia, Ansip was the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society from 2014 until July 2019 – editor), Estonia has been a driving force behind the European Commission’s new cybersecurity agenda. Estonia now needs to lead the European Union to a coherent cybersecurity strategy in order to protect consumers and businesses not only from cyberattacks from Russia but also from potentially much larger attacks and espionage from China.

China’s backdoors

The adoption of Internet of Things solutions and the highly anticipated rollout of very fast 5G networks will make consumers’ privacy even more vulnerable. The recent events in Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party’s reluctance to keep its commitments towards the rule of law are reasons why we must heed caution.

Some governments and manufacturers tend to be mostly concerned about competitiveness through low prices, which is important for consumers. However, we also care about privacy and data security. Therefore, a smart policy response is needed that would incentivise market players to give enough weight to consumer data security in Europe, all the while achieving that goal without undue market distortions and limiting of consumer choice.

n more than just one instance, the Chinese leadership has put legal or extra-legal pressure on private firms to include so-called backdoors in their software or devices, which may be exploited either by government agents alone or with a manufacturer’s help. As a response to threats like this, countries like Australia and the US went so far as to ban the Chinese network equipment manufacturer, Huawei, from its 5G networks.

Pressure on non-European suppliers to adopt the security-by-design approach

While some governments see bans as the best way to protect national security and consumer privacy, we know there is no single silver bullet solution for safeguarding privacy and data security. A mix of solutions is needed, and this mix will likely change over time.

Healthy competition between legal jurisdictions and between private enterprises is the best mechanism for the discovery of the right tools. But those working on cybersecurity solutions should also consider consumer interests. Keeping new regulation technology-neutral, and thus not deciding by law which technological solution is best, allows an agile framework for consumer privacy.

A Huawei phone (the image is illustrative/Pexels).

The EU’s current legal rules, like the General Data Protection Regulation, for example, do not provide sufficient clarity regarding liability of network operators for privacy violations made possible by hardware vulnerabilities. Thus, a clear standard of supply chain security must be defined.

Emphasising liability rules for using or reselling software or devices with vulnerabilities would give those rules more teeth and thus incentivise telecommunications operators and others to think about their customers’ privacy during their procurement decisions. This should, in turn, put pressure on non-European suppliers to adopt the security-by-design approach and to take pains to show that they have done so.

Smart regulation needed to prevent autocratic governments from spying on us

In solving the problem of unclear and ineffective legal rules on data security, we must take into account that technical standards should be as technology neutral as possible. Manufacturers from countries that are under scrutiny – such as China – might want to provide purely open-source technology in order to rebuild trust in their products.

Instead, the rules should be focused on outcomes and be as general as possible while still providing sufficient guidance. These standards should be possible to identify and adopt not just by the biggest market players who can easily devote significant resources to regulatory compliance. A certification scheme must be thorough in order to minimise the risk of any backdoors or other critical vulnerabilities.

5G 3.5 GHz cell site of Vodafone in Karlsruhe, Germany (the image is illustrative/courtesy of Tomas Freres/Wikimedia Commons).

The debate around 5G reminds us how vulnerable consumers are in a technologically and politically complex world and that cyber threats originate usually in autocratic countries.

Therefore, smart regulation is needed in order to protect consumers from data breaches and to prevent autocratic governments from spying on us. By continuing the legacy of commissioner Ansip’s leadership and strengthening the liability of network operators for technological vulnerabilities, both consumer choice and privacy can be ensured. Blunt instruments like total bans based on country of origin or regulators picking the technological champions should be seen as measures of the last resort.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

The scientific method is under attack

Assume a scientist were to tell you that a certain mathematical equation is demonstrably correct. You could twist and turn the equation in any possible way, yet you would always come to the same conclusion. Now assume this scientist had spoken at a conference once, and his or her hotel room had been paid by an industry which had a vested interest in the equation being true. A conflict of interest, some would say, yet you could only assume that it resulted in a distortion of his or her scientific work if you could show that the equation was false. No money in the world can change facts.

EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, is currently dealing with accusations of this nature. A European NGO called “Corporate Europe Observatory” (CEO) denounces the working group assessing the safety of gene drives – which is genetic engineering technology – as “compromised”. CEO claims that two-thirds of the working group have “financial links” to industry and organisations with vested interest in the matter of gene-editing.

However, EFSA responded to every single one of the concerns in a professional and detailed matter. The agency did not see a single instance in which the described “links” were of concern. For instance, CEO denounced the fact that Michael Bonsall, Professor of Mathematical Biology at Oxford University, has direct financial links with the British biotech company Oxitec. It turned out that the “direct financial links” were not financial investments with Oxitec, but research activities co-financed by the University of Oxford and Oxitec itself. In essence: these were public-private funded research projects between a private company and EU research grants.

But the work for CEO is done, so much so that EFSA’s devastating answer to their claims even now appears on their website. The scientists were smeared in the media, and no matter how many rebuttals the EU’s food safety agency would issue, much of the damage is already done. The headlines reading “food safety scientists accused of being bought” is all that these activists – who are sworn enemies of industrial agriculture – need.

The fact that gene-editing technologies could have a huge impact in reducing the death toll from diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus, is irrelevant to their quest.

A similar thing happened to French journalist Emmanuelle Ducros. The L’Opinion journalist is known for her columns on agriculture, calling out the unscientific work of environmental activists, and defending the scientific method against anti-GMO, anti-free trade, or anti-pesticide activists. Ducros was dragged through the mud by the French newspaper Libération and social media outrage ensued, all for moderating panels at industry conferences hat have a vested interested in the area of pesticides. Expenses were covered by these same interest groups. It remains a question of its own whether having your train journey and hotel room covered in a work context actually has that much of a powerful influence on your journalistic integrity. Never mind that the essence of what is backed up by evidence and what isn’t should be what determines that which can be reported as a fact.

For environmentalist NGOs, the Jaws (1975) quote “We are going to need a bigger boat” could easily be transcribed into “We are going to need a bigger smear”. The scientific method is under attack by those who do not believe in analysing and comparing evidence, but who claim that a spider web of industry groups have captured all the pro-science voices by bankrolling opinions. As a result, politicians legislate and regulate scientific innovations, and restrict consumer choice.

“What is your evidence?” is replaced by “Who funds you?,” and is killing the scientific debate. The consequences of that will be long-lasting.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Is the Cookie Law outdated and frankly just annoying?

Cookies are a basic part of how the Internet works but there’s hardly anyone I know that is in favour of pop ups on just about every website due to the EU’s Cookie Law. They store little bits of information about you such as when you are logged into a site, what you add to your shopping basket and all the useful things that personalise websites to you. Cookies are also used to track what you do on the Internet and can be used to link your activities across sites, for instance if your browse a flight for your next trip abroad, you might then see adverts for flights to the same destination on social media sites.

The EU hates Cookies with a passion as they’re big on protecting your personal information and that’s why a Cookie Law came into effect. It spawned horrible pop-ups on websites across the web which you have to click to accept or decline to whenever you visit a new site. The law was relaxed a little for implied consent but GDPR strengthened it and it’s back with a vengeance.

One of the reasons I detest the Cookie Law is because an increasing number of US sites refuse to bow down to the EU. Rather than installing Cookie Policy pop ups to infuriate 350 million US consumers, they’ve taken the attitude that it’s easier just to geo-block EU consumers and block them from even seeing their websites. That’s annoying.

Now, the Court of Justice of the European Union has decreed that “Storing cookies requires internet users’ active consent. A pre-ticked checkbox is therefore insufficient”. In a judgement that comes from German Court asking for an EU ruling (a country where it’s considered normal behaviour for a retailer to sue another claiming an unfair advantage if they don’t comply with every banal regulation going), the Court decided that the “consent which a website user must give to the storage of and access to cookies on his or her equipment is not validly constituted by way of a pre-checked checkbox which that user must deselect to refuse his or her consent”.

The Court went on to say that you have to tell the user how long the cookies will last for and and whether or not third parties may also have access to the cookies your site places on their computer. This is clearly information overload and best advice is firstly to not use Cookies where they are not needed but more importantly surely it’s time for the Cookie Law to change to acknowledge that Cookies are pretty essential to the Internet and that by using the Internet acceptance of Cookies can be implied to be accepted?

“The court has clearly established that current EU rules are outdated. Bombarding internet users with cookies isn’t user-friendly, informative, or productive.
 
When retrieving the information from your device, the website knows what particularly caught your eye, and they can improve their website structure or marketing based on this data. However, cookies can also be useful to the user, in that it stores your password, and keeps you logged into your favourite social media platform or airline account.
 
A well-reflected reform would put all cookie use under implicit consent, with the knowledge that users can use often free and already existing software that allows them to opt-out of all cookie use that they deem unsuited for them. This allows consumers to take their data use into their own hands, without an unnecessary and ineffective pop-up on every website.”

– Bill Wirtz, Senior Policy Analyst , Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Trump’s Medicare executive order

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS SEND LETTER ON VAPING — A coalition of 25 conservative groups is urging Trump to keep flavored e-cigarettes on the market, arguing the products are “essential to the success of vaping as an alternative to cigarette use long-term.”

Groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Consumer Choice Center and FreedomWorks argued the administration’s envisioned flavored vape ban would go against the White House’s deregulatory agenda and “destroy thousands of small businesses.” This comes as the White House abruptly organized, and then canceled, a meeting with conservative groups over vaping, which it said at the time would be rescheduled.

Read the article from POLITICO here.


For more facts on vaping, read our research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Transatlantic dialogue and not tariff war is the future of EU-US relationship

The World Trade Organization today has published a ruling giving the US the green light to impose punitive tariffs on the EU over the tariff on the EU subsidies for Airbus.

Luca Bertoletti, Senior European Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center says: “We hope policy makers will consider rejecting the use of tariffs to escalate the dispute between Airbus and Boeing. These tariffs will not only hurt the aerospace industry but also many other sectors and especially consumers. As there is a new European Parliament and very soon a new European Commission this is the right time for both EU and USA to bury the axe of war and restart the transatlantic dialogue” continued Bertoletti.

“The EU-US relationship is the strongest of the world and it should be based on common market challenges such as how to deal with growing authoritarianism in China, not on a commercial war among free nations which will just hurt consumers” concluded Bertoletti.

Originally posted here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

5G et santé : le lobbying à travers les fake news

Veiller à la sécurité de tous, c’est bien… mais empêcher le progrès en se basant sur de fausses informations, cela nuit à tout le monde.

Chaque technologie engendre un certain degré de scepticisme. Que ce soit la découverte de l’électricité, l’invention du train, ou l’arrivée du micro-ondes dans notre équipement de cuisine, des voix critiques posent des questions importantes sur la sécurité.

Le réseau 5G n’y fait pas exception. Cependant, à un certain moment, il faut accepter les résultats scientifiques.

En tapant « 5G » et « santé » sur les moteurs de recherches, vous trouverez plusieurs articles qui ne pourront pas vous donner des réponses exactes sur les implications de santé du réseau, mais qui vous suggèrent plusieurs scénarios fatalistes.

En voici quelques exemples :

Déploiement de la 5G : les risques pour la santé sous-estimés ?

5G, risques pour la santé… et la météo

L’arrivée du 5G comporte d’importants risques pour la santé

La menace que la 5G pose à la santé humaine

Et si la 5G était nocive pour la santé?

UE : La course vers la 5G risque de laisser de côté le principe de précaution au détriment de la santé

Réseau 5G : la course au haut débit au détriment de notre santé ?

Téléphonie mobile : les vrais dangers de la 5G

Que faut-il savoir sur le rayonnement de type 5G ?

Le type de rayonnement impliqué dans les communications sans fil se situe dans la gamme des ondes radio, et ces ondes transportent beaucoup moins d’énergie que les rayonnements ionisants, comme les rayons X et les rayons cosmiques, qui peuvent briser les liaisons chimiques dans l’ADN et mener au cancer.

Aux Etats-Unis, la Commission fédérale des communications (FCC) réglemente le nombre d’ondes qu’on peut émettre. Le seul effet biologique connu qui existe concernant les radiofréquences est l’échauffement : la température de votre corps peut augmenter dans ces conditions.

En revanche, les limites existantes sont de telle nature qu’elles permettent d’éviter ce risque d’échauffement. Si l’on respecte les limites fixées par les réglementations actuelles, il n’y a aucune conséquence biologique.

Il faut également ajouter que les fréquences 5G sont différentes de ce qui est supposé dans les médias.

Les opposants à la technologie 5G affirment que les hautes fréquences de la technologie rendront les nouveaux téléphones et les tours de téléphonie cellulaire extraordinairement dangereux.

La vérité est exactement le contraire, comme l’expliquent les scientifiques. Plus la fréquence radio est élevée, moins elle pénètre la peau humaine, ce qui réduit l’exposition des organes internes du corps, y compris le cerveau.

A quoi bon les mythes contre la 5G, alors ?

D’un côté, nous avons le scepticisme général et régulier des écologistes anti-progrès et des conspirationnistes anti-corporatistes. Une telle opposition ne pourra jamais être réfutée au moyen de preuves scientifiques.

D’un autre côté, nous assistons au scepticisme de la population générale, organisé par des médiums différents, dont le site Russia Today (RT). Aux Etats-Unis, le New York Times explique que RT America inonde les réseaux sociaux de messages anti-5G. L’idée serait d’arrêter les progrès des Etats-Unis, au profit de la Russie.

Bien plus simplement, les désinformations sont souvent au profit de certaines entreprises en concurrence.

Nous l’avons bien vu dans la discussion sur la connectivité des automobiles – 5G contre wi-fi : les constructeurs faisaient assaut de lobbying à Bruxelles pour convaincre l’Union européenne de soutenir l’une ou l’autre.

En juillet, le gouvernement allemand a ainsi publié sa position sur la question de ces technologies futures. Il se prépare à soutenir l’utilisation de la technologie wi-fi pour relier les voitures connectées, arguant que la technologie 5G n’est pas encore assez mature pour livrer des résultats.

Le document publié par le gouvernement allemand affirme que « l’industrie doit se concentrer sur la technologie qui utilise des signaux à courte portée, à base de wi-fi ».

En réponse, certains constructeurs automobiles se sont prononcés en faveur de la position prise par le gouvernement allemand tandis que d’autres ont estimé que Berlin devrait plutôt soutenir la technologie 5G.

La bataille du lobbying se livre à travers des organes de communication classiques. A ce niveau, il faut tout d’abord établir une base de faits vérifiables, afin de discuter sur une base de connaissances égales.

Dans le cas de la 5G, ce débat sera crucial pour le futur technologique de l’Europe.


Publié à l’origine ici.

Scroll to top