cannabis

Therapeutic CBD oil doesn’t belong under restrictive Cannabis Act

The federal election is behind us, and all Canadians are probably pretty thankful for that.

That said, in what was arguably Canada’s most irritating, and cynical, election, no one spoke about Canada’s cannabis market. The opposition parties did not take aim at the Liberals for their mistakes, nor did the Liberals really use legalization as a talking point on their legislative success. Now that we have a minority government, it is important that this new government enacts change to make Canada’s cannabis market more open and consumer-friendly.

Much has been said regarding the issues with excise taxes, the federal government’s overly paternalistic marketing and packaging rules, and burdensome production regulations that have handcuffed producers. All of these missteps have hurt the attractiveness of the legal market, and that only benefits those who are selling cannabis illegally.

One mistake made in the Cannabis Act that hasn’t gotten any coverage is the federal government’s failure to differentiate appropriately between THC and CBD.

For those who don’t know, CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. On its own, it has a variety of medicinal and wellness uses. CBD can be used for pain in patients with disorders such as fibromyalgia and can be used to prevent seizures for people who suffer from neurological disorders such as epilepsy. It can also be used to treat common issues such as joint pain, inflammation, and act as a sleep aid. Most importantly, CBD is not an intoxicating substance like THC.

Because CBD products are not intoxicating, and have a significantly lower risk profile, they shouldn’t be treated the same as cannabis products with THC. All that would be required to right this wrong would be to remove non-intoxicating CBD products from the Cannabis Act altogether.

Quite simply, any CBD product with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 per cent (the U.S. legal standard) should be treated as a natural health product, and exempt from the rules and regulations of the Cannabis Act.

Removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would have several immediate benefits for consumers. The first is that it would exempt CBD products from the overly heavy-handed marketing, branding and plain packaging restrictions set out in the Cannabis Act. Having cannabis regulated in the same way as tobacco was a huge mistake, given the differences in risks between products. Regulating cannabis like tobacco was a mistake, but treating CBD products like tobacco is downright comical.

Beyond the chance to peel back federal paternalism, the removal of CBD products from the Cannabis Act would allow for products to brand their desired impact, something that is currently, and irritatingly, illegal for all cannabis products. The current prohibitions are a huge disservice to consumers because they prevent them from being presented with more product information when making purchases. Public policy should encourage informed consumer decisions, not actively prevent them. Removing CBD from the Cannabis Act would allow for these products to free themselves from the silliness of the act’s marketing regulations, which will serve to empower consumers.

In addition to giving consumers more information through appropriate marketing and branding, removing CBD from the act would significantly increase consumer access. As it currently stands, non-intoxicating CBD products are only available via outlets that are licensed to sell cannabis.

This is problematic because for many consumers, the rollout of storefronts has been horrendous, with the government-run online alternatives taking days to deliver product. Removing CBD from the act would, overnight, allow for these products to be sold alongside other natural health products. It would also allow for products to become available in cities and towns that made the misguided decision to ban cannabis retail within their boundaries, as in Ontario. Increasing points of sale for CBD products would increase consumer access, which could help steer people away from the black market alternatives that currently exist.

Whether in co-operation with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, or Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, Trudeau needs to make changes to CBD regulations. Removing CBD from the act would be simple, and would actually be in line with concessions Health Canada has already made.

When the new regulations were announced for edibles, extracts and topicals, Health Canada explained that the excise tax would only be applied based on THC level, which means that CBD topicals, edibles or extracts wouldn’t come with any excise tax whatsoever. Removing CBD from the act would be a straightforward and consistent continuation of that regulatory correction. Most importantly, it would be a correction that would benefit consumers nationwide.

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

Ontario to allow cannabis retailers to sell online and over the phone

Cannabis retailers will soon be able to sell products online or over the phone for in-store pick-up as the Ontario government adopts a “click-and-connect” sales model to expand access to legal marijuana.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips announced the proposed changes in the government’s fall economic statement Wednesday, saying they will decrease waits for cannabis and help combat the black market.

The shift comes as the Progressive Conservative government pledges to lift a cap it imposed on the number of cannabis stores in Ontario.

“All of the provincial jurisdictions are learning and trying to make sure that we take the best approach,” Phillips said. “Our priorities are getting rid of black market cannabis and safety in our communities.”

The government had initially said there would be no cap on the number of retail pot shops after cannabis was legalized. That decision marked a change of course from the previous Liberal government, which created the Ontario Cannabis Store and had planned to tightly control cannabis sales through government-owned stores similar to the LCBO.

But a supply shortage prompted the Tory government last December to cap the initial number of pot retail licences to just 25 so operators would be able to open.

The number of legal pot outlets in Ontario is increasing from 25 to 75 this fall.

The government also said Wednesday it will allow licensed producers to have retail stores on each of their production sites to further increase access.

The Tories had planned to allow that after coming to power in 2018 but did not enact the necessary regulations when the supply shortage caused them to cap the number of retail stores.

The government said Wednesday it will amend legislation and provincial regulations to make the changes but has given no immediate timeline when they will take effect.

Omar Yar Khan, a vice president at strategy firm Hill+Knowlton who advises cannabis sector clients, said the changes will help encourage customers to move from the black market to legal retailers.

“In an era where customers are used to an Amazon Prime experience … anything the government can do to allow these legal markets to reach consumers on channels they’re already on is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Khan said the government needs to uncap the retail market if it wants to continue to fight the illicit market.

“They need to move fast on that, and I think they will,” he said.

One consumer advocacy group praised the move towards “click-and-connect” sales but said the government could have gone further.

“It makes the legal market more consumer-friendly by increasing access and allowing consumers to place orders and pick them up … but it would be that much better if they coupled that with the ability for stores to provide deliver services,” said David Clement, manager of North American affairs for the Consumer Choice Center.

Clement said the changes that allow pot producers to open retail space could create a tourism industry around cannabis.

“If you go to brewery or a distillery, often you can take a tour or talk to the master brewer,” he said. “That on-site selling opportunity has been used to provide consumers with other experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov, 6th. I was posted on Yahoo Finance here.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SMAT CANNABIS POLICIES CLICK 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 green rush is already here and we need smart cannabis policy to direct it

This week, 60 Minutes ran a report on the failure of cannabis policy in California, specifically the marijuana-rich region of the Emerald Triangle. Though California legalized cannabis beginning in 2017, the region has created a special conundrum for law enforcement and regulators.

The northwestern region of the state, with its ideal growing climate, grows an estimated 70% of the nation’s cannabis. A good chunk of that, as you can guess, is sold illicitly in states where cannabis is not yet legal, recreationally, medically, or otherwise. 

Much more, 78% of all cannabis sold in California is estimated to be grown illegally, beyond the reach of taxes and regulations. Police have seized more than $30 million worth of cannabis, and are spending more time policing cannabis now than when it was illegal. It’s a disaster.

On a recent trip to New York, I saw California brands and products for sale in an illegal dispensary just off Times Square. Supply is liquid and flexible, even if the regulations are not.

And herein lies the problem.

The impressive growth of the national black market of THC cannabis is enabled by its legality in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but cemented by burdensome regulation and taxes that discourage consumers from using the legal market.

That’s why we need to transition urgently to smart cannabis policy, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape, and eradicates the black market.

Consumers know why current policies have failed. States, counties, and municipalities view cannabis as a cash crop for public budgets rather than a new consumer product. High taxes at all levels of production and sale, as well as expensive fees, licenses, and local prohibitions on dispensaries make it a racket.

Comparing prices alone easily nudges consumers to buy the cheaper, illicit products. The same issues plague Canada, which legalized cannabis just one year ago, but where 42% of cannabis purchases are outside the legal system. That’s a problem no one in government is addressing, much less discussing.

The regulatory burden faced by growers and retailers alike erects immense barriers to entry, practically guaranteeing the emergence of a new generation of scofflaws not seen since the days of Prohibition. This enables low-quality and sometimes harmful products to reach consumers, without significant testing or verification for pesticides or other chemicals.

California’s problems will soon migrate to Massachusetts and Michigan, cobbling together their regulatory regimes to tackle the green rush but not adapting the lessons learned from the western experience.

The culprit isn’t regulation or taxation per se, but rather an unbalanced and uninformed cannabis policy that puts the state’s tax earnings ahead of the consumer experience.

The same issues are beginning to plague the CBD and hemp market, the non-intoxicating cannabis derivatives quietly legalized via the 2018 Farm Bill. 

With little to no clarity from the FDA, states such as North Carolina will ban different forms of CBD, much to the detriment of farmers converting millions of dollars’ worth of fields to hemp production, and to consumers relying on CBD to address anxiety, pain relief, and depression. This is a national problem, rather than limited to states with recreational cannabis markets.

This is compounded by the DEA’s Schedule 1 classification of cannabis, more severe than opioids or cocaine, making it illegal for legal cannabis firms to establish legitimate bank accounts, take out loans, and offer public shares of their businesses. Not to mention the myriad of issues that force dispensaries to deal in cash for transactions, tax payments, and equipment procurement.

Thankfully, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are close to passing the SAFE Banking Act to alleviate these concerns. But bad cannabis policy at the state and local levels still exists. And that’s bad for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Nascent cannabis companies should be able to establish brands and consumer loyalty, comply with reasonable and smart regulation, and not face unreasonable tax burdens. That will make the experience much better for consumers, and it’s the only way to eradicate the black market and ensure smart cannabis policy.


By Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a writer, consumer advocate, and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

$1.1 billion worth of cannabis sold in Canada’s first year of legalization

One year after the legalization of recreational cannabis, Cannabis Benchmarks, a company that tracks cannabis prices, estimates that Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately 1.1 billion dollars worth of pot in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.

According to Statistics Canada, licensed retail outlets sold more than $100 million worth of pot in July, the fifth straight month that sales hit an all-time high.

However, some industry analysts believe those numbers would be much higher if not for the many stumbling blocks the industry has encountered in the first year of legalization. They cite several problems, ranging from non-compliant packaging to the failure of some producers to increase cultivation capacity in time to meet demand. But according to many analysts, the number one problem has been the regulators.

An article published by the Motley Fool, a financial services company, said federal regulators were not prepared to handle legalization of recreational cannabis. Health Canada had more than 800 cultivation, processing, and sales applications when the year started, but took several months or more to review them, the article stated. That “kept cultivators, processors, and retailers waiting in the wings to meet [consumer] demand.”

“There are many risks involved in overseeing cannabis and Health Canada tries to manage risk,” Alanna Sokic, a senior consultant for Global Public Affairs, told Leafly.  “The industry runs at breakneck speed and government does not.”

“Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately $1.1 billion worth of cannabis in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.”

Cannabis Benchmarks

Sales figures should be higher

Analysts have criticized some provinces for being slow to approve retail licenses. In Ontario and Quebec, for example, there are so few brick-and-mortar stores that many consumers are faced with the prospect of buying cannabis online—an unappealing option for the many consumers who want to see and smell their product before buying it legally—or getting it on the illicit market.

Many of them have chosen the latter route. The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Canada’s most populous province has completely botched the rollout of the cannabis retail market according to analysts. After Doug Ford became premier of Ontario in June 2018, he announced that his government would award cannabis retail licenses through a lottery system. Two lotteries have been held so far.

This system has been fraught with problems, including inexperienced winners and concerns that some of them have sold their licenses on the illicit market.

“If you needed a brain surgeon, would you pick one through a lottery? Cannabis retail is best left to those who are knowledgeable and reliable,” BCMI Cannabis Report author Chris Damas told Leafly.

There are also indications the lottery system has been gamed by big players. A physical address was required for each entry. In the second lottery, in August, the average number of entries per each winning address was 24. One address was entered into the lottery 173 times. Each entry cost $75.

The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Some of the applicants are so unhappy with the system they have taken their case to court. Eleven of them won the right to apply for a retail license through the second lottery but were later disqualified for not providing required documents by the regulator’s deadline. They responded by asking the court for a judicial review. The province’s plan to hold another lottery was suspended until Sept. 27, when the court dismissed the applicants’ request.

There are now just 24 retail outlets in a province that has a population of more than 14 million. “Ontario could support a thousand stores—and that’s a conservative estimate,” Damas told Leafly. “The provincial government blew it. If Ontario was punching at the weight it should be, Canadian sales numbers would be much higher.”

The Ford government attributes the slow rollout of retail to supply issues at the federal level. They say stores might go out of business if they open while there is limited cannabis supply. But as David Clement of the Consumer Choice Center stated in The Globe and Mail, the province doesn’t have the same approach when it comes to granting alcohol licenses for restaurants, bars, or clubs even though there is a high failure rate (60%) for these businesses.

Also, all the provinces are dealing with the same supply issues, yet some have done a much better job of establishing a cannabis retail market. For example, there are more than 300 retail outlets in Alberta, even though the province’s population is just 4.3 million—less than a third the size of Ontario’s population. Alberta outlets sold $124 million dollars’ worth of cannabis in the first eight months of legalization while Ontario outlets sold $121 million.

They key to Alberta’s success is its comparatively free-market regime, say analysts. The province’s regulatory body is the sole distributor of recreational cannabis just as it is in Ontario. However, in Alberta, anyone can apply for a license to open up a retail location. The opening of retail outlets is driven by market demand.

‘Gong show’ will get sorted out

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t,” Damas said. “It has been a fiasco in certain provinces,” he said, referring to Ontario as well as Quebec, which has 22 stores and a population of eight million.

But Damas and other analysts are optimistic about the future of cannabis retail in Canada. Economist Trevor Tombe at the University of Calgary said in a tweet that “the gong show” in Ontario will get sorted out. Indeed, the province just announced it was launching consultations aimed at getting the private sector more involved in cannabis storage and delivery.

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t.”

Chris Damas, BCMI Cannabis Report author

“If you look across Canada you will see a patchwork of regulation. Some provinces are performing much better than others because they have prioritized access,” Sokic told Leafly. “In the past year, some lessons have been learned. Provinces who haven’t prioritized market access are considering it so that they can accomplish their objectives. I think the future looks bright.”

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.

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

The Unlikely Saving Grace of British Cannabis

The global crusade against cannabis is finally beginning to falter. As the attitudes of citizens and lawmakers alike begin to soften, the prospects of full legalisation have gone from a stoner’s pipe-dream (if you’ll pardon the pun) to very feasible in only a couple of years. With a fifth of the US legalising the plant for recreational use, alongside Canada and Uruguay, as well as numerous European states opting to decriminalise its use, progress has been quick and promising.

This is cause for optimism. Newly-legal markets in the US and Canada have already seen booms in market growth and innovation, not to mention the positive effects of decriminalisation on the harm felt by users. In decriminalising or outright legalising cannabis, legislators in such countries have helped foster an environment in which entrepreneurship and consumer well-being are welcomed and encouraged.

But there’s still work to do. In many countries, reluctance to embrace cannabis is preventing them from enjoying the benefits felt by more committed nations. Legislators are, all too often, unable or unwilling to properly ride the green wave, preferring instead to watch from the pier.

Italy, for example, is a victim of this lack of commitment. Vagueness surrounding the legality of Italian hemp and cannabis has made it far more difficult for entrepreneurs and investors to know where they stand, damaging their confidence and potential to create a flourishing market. As such, progress has been far slower in Italy (a country which once held the number two spot worldwide for industrial hemp production), than in countries which are more willing to commit.

In the UK, the story looks rather familiar. Despite the nearly four-decade long prohibition on medical cannabis being overturned by Home Secretary Sajid Javid last year, access to the drug is still hampered by heavy-handed restrictions and high costs. Patients will have to wade through a sea of bureaucracy and extortionate bills to have access to the drug legally, rendering any benefits this would have over continued use of the black market very hazy.

Growers and entrepreneurs, too, are deterred by legal ambiguity. With the British government reluctant to go any further than this somewhat-legal medicinal cannabis, the country is at risk of following Italy’s footsteps and missing out on what seems poised to be one of the most promising markets of our time.

There is a silver lining though. While patients and consumers may have their wellbeing overlooked by the government in Westminster, an unlikely source shows far more promise when it comes to protecting their welfare. Across the UK, members of the police are beginning to relax their approaches to cannabis offences.

Rather than prosecuting those caught with small amounts of the drug, many police officers are instead opting for warning and recommendations for how to quit. This has prompted accusations that the police are pushing for de facto decriminalisation outside of the realm of legislators.

In practice, however, such action might be the saving grace for British cannabis consumers. A more relaxed approach from police allows for a far safer environment, with police attention shifted to the darker, truly criminal side of the market, and away from nonviolent consumers.

Moreover, the controversy surrounding this ‘blind-eye’ approach could be just the thing needed to get the ball rolling on higher-up decriminalisation. Rather than shell out thousands for legal medicinal cannabis, or to risk buying on the black market, some are now pushing the cause of growing the plant at home for treatment of certain ailments.

While the British cannabis scene is still hampered by a stubborn government, changing attitudes from law enforcement could revitalise the debate on harm-reduction and smart drugs policy, all the while making life easier for consumers. It may be early days, but there’s hope that legislators will see sense in the police’s decision.

Légalisation du cannabis à des fins médicales ou récréatives

Suite à l’annonce en décembre 2018 du gouvernement luxembourgeois de procéder à légalisation de la vente et de la consommation du cannabis à des fins médicales ou récréatives, le LCGB a rencontré le groupe de travail international Consumer Choice Center (CCC) en date du 25 avril 2019.

En tant qu’organisation internationale en contact avec les législateurs au niveau mondial et entre autres, avec les institutions de l’Union européenne, le CCC a exposé au LCGB ses préoccupations quant à cette légalisation et a souligné l’importance que la vente et la consommation du cannabis fasse l’objet d’un encadrement légal bien réfléchi.

Sur base des études réalisées dans certains Etats américains et au Canada, les représentants du CCC, David CLEMENT, Yeaël OSSOWSKI et Bill WIRTZ ont souligné la nécessité de mettre en place un cadre légal avec une politique de prix et de taxation raisonnable permettant de diminuer le recours au marché illégal de la vente du cannabis.

Le LCGB a profité de l’occasion pour se renseigner plus en détail sur la législation canadienne en afin de déterminer si un tel modèle est transposable au Luxembourg ou non et quels sont les impacts positifs ou négatifs pour les consommateurs. A noter qu’il faudrait d’abord tirer un premier bilan sur l’utilisation du cannabis médical, autorisée depuis début 2019 au Luxembourg et sur la consommation de chanvre, déjà possible dès à présent, avant de légiférer en la matière.

Read more here

Préparation à la légalisation du cannabis au Grand-Duché

La conférence concernant les recommandations accompagnant le processus de légalisation du cannabis au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, donnée par le Consumer Choice Center (CCC) vient d’avoir lieu. Ce CCC défend les droits des consommateurs dans plus de 100 pays avec pour mission de les informer et les encourager à se mobiliser.

Beaucoup de questions se posent encore. – M.M.

Yaël Ossowski, journaliste et directeur adjoint du CCC, a insisté sur l’importance d’une transition intelligente de la légalisation, en s’inspirant de l’exemple des États-Unis et du Canada afin de tirer les leçons positives et négatives qu’un tel processus implique.

Read more here

Cannabis au Luxembourg : « Éviter les erreurs du Canada »

À cause des taxes trop élevées sur le cannabis, entre 30 et 40% des consommateurs se tournent toujours vers le marché noir, ont souligné les spécialistes canadiens. (photo Tania Feller)

Des représentants canadiens de l’Agence pour le choix du consommateur sont venus à Luxembourg pour aider les décideurs politiques à faire les bons choix en matière de légalisation du cannabis.

Membres de la direction de l’ONG Consumer Choice Center (l’Agence pour le choix du consommateur, ou CCC), David Clement et Yaël Ossowski sont venus plaider pour une politique réglementaire intelligente en matière de légalisation du cannabis récréatif. Guidés par le porte-parole de l’organisation, le Luxembourgeois Bill Wirtz, les deux Canadiens vont aller à la rencontre des décideurs politiques pour les mettre en garde «contre certaines erreurs à ne pas commettre».

À la veille d’un voyage au Canada du ministre de la Santé, Étienne Schneider, le CCC rappelle que son premier objectif est «d’étouffer le marché noir», et qu’il ne sera pas atteint au Canada au vu des taxes trop élevées que le pays a choisi d’appliquer sur le cannabis. «Entre 30 et 40% des consommateurs se tournent vers le marché noir, car les prix y sont plus attractifs», témoigne David Clement.

Il paraît donc capital pour les activistes du CCC, comme ils se définissent, d’appliquer une taxe très modérée sur les produits pour éradiquer le marché parallèle. Dans certaines provinces canadiennes, ces taxes cumulées peuvent s’élever à 30%, ce qui décourage les consommateurs de se fournir légalement. Aux États- Unis, l’Alaska n’impose pas de TVA et la Californie reste modérée avec 15% de TVA sur le cannabis. Certes, le Colorado avec ses 30% de taxe a engrangé 245 millions de dollars de recettes fiscales, «mais elles ne devraient pas être le seul objectif de la légalisation du cannabis», insiste David Clement.

Contre le « paquet neutre »

Autre recommandation : autoriser la consommation sur la voie publique partout où le tabac est également toléré, contrairement à ce qu’a décidé l’État du Colorado et l’État de Washington où la consommation publique demeure illégale. Pourquoi ? Parce que les personnes à plus faibles revenus sont souvent locataires et les propriétaires leur interdisent souvent de fumer dans les logements. Les deux représentants canadiens se targuent d’avoir réussi «grâce à (leur) action» à faire changer d’avis le gouvernement de l’Ontario sur ce sujet.

«Malheureusement, l’absence de salons de consommation de cannabis est une occasion manquée de l’exemple canadien», estime le CCC alors qu’ils présentent plusieurs avantages : on peut y contrôler l’âge légal des consommateurs et ils permettent de fumer dans un lieu protégé, évitant ainsi aux gens d’être gênés par les volutes dans les lieux publics.

La vente aux non-résidents reste un point très discuté quand on évoque la légalisation du cannabis récréatif puisqu’il s’agit d’éviter un trafic transfrontalier. Là encore, une telle clause de résidence profite au marché noir.

Autre erreur figurant sur la liste du CCC, celle qui consiste à restreindre voire interdire le marketing pour le cannabis et le Canada l’a commise en préférant le «paquet neutre». «Nous voulons que les consommateurs prennent des décisions éclairées lorsqu’ils achètent une substance intoxicante comme le cannabis», défend le CCC. De plus, un paquet neutre permet aux criminels «de faire passer plus facilement leur produit pour un produit légal», et ainsi de brouiller les pistes. Mettre une marque sur un emballage, c’est éviter la contrefaçon et fidéliser le client si le produit est bon.

Simplifier la production

Enfin la production, c’est l’autre gros morceau de la future législation qui est très attendue. «Un bon régime réglementaire garantit que l’offre peut suivre le rythme de la demande, ce qui est vital pour détourner le consommateur du marché illégal», souligne le CCC. Cela signifie qu’il faut éviter les lourdeurs administratives et la réglementation très restrictive d’un pays comme le Canada. Les règlements de sécurité et la masse de formalités sont tels qu’ils ont découragé certains candidats de se lancer dans la culture du cannabis. «Au Québec, les magasins publics de cannabis ont dû fermer du lundi au mercredi en raison de pénuries d’approvisionnement et donc 35% des consommateurs sont restés fidèles au marché noir», indique le CCC.

Les coûts de construction des installations qui doivent respecter les exigences strictes établies par le législateur canadien empêchent un plus grand nombre de producteurs d’être sur le marché. Le CCC préconise un processus simplifié, mais encore il devrait être possible de s’approvisionner auprès de fournisseurs d’autres pays qui ont déjà une réglementation sur le cannabis.

«Si la légalisation est exécutée avec tiédeur et s’écarte de ces recommandations, nous craignons que des options illégales demeurent», conclut le CCC. Mais en les suivant, «les États peuvent s’assurer un marché du cannabis favorisant à la fois le choix et la sécurité des consommateurs».

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