Alaska: Regulators Move Forward With On-Site Consumption Rules

ALASKA: State regulators have voted in favor of plans to permit on-site marijuana consumption at designated retailers.

Under the plan, licensed retailers could designate specific areas for on-site consumption by their customers. Customers would not be permitted to bring their own cannabis.

Retailers who wish to permit on-site consumption would need to apply for a special license from the state.

It is anticipated that state lawmakers may also weigh in on the issue in 2019.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at: (202) 483-5500.

Health Canada Releases New Data On Cannabis Use In Canada

2018 Survey provides a snapshot of Canadians’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to cannabis before the law changed

CANADA:The old approach to cannabis did not work. It let criminals and organized crime profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it has been easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.

To address these issues, on October 17, the Government of Canada legalized and strictly regulated access to cannabis. To track Canadians’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards cannabis, the Government of Canada is examining how usage changes from year to year. Standardized and comparable data are needed to evaluate the impact of the new cannabis legislation and to develop policy and program initiatives, including public education and awareness activities.

Between May and July 2018, Health Canada asked almost 13,000 Canadians about their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to cannabis, including their cannabis use and driving behaviours after consuming cannabis. Results from the 2018 Canadian Cannabis Survey released today provide a snapshot of Canadians’ views and habits related to cannabis several months before the Cannabis Act came into force:

  • how much and how often they used cannabis,
  • where they got it from,
  • what forms of cannabis they consumed,
  • the extent to which they were accepting of cannabis use,
  • what they thought about its potential to be habit forming, and
  • whether they believed cannabis could affect someone’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

The Canadian Cannabis Survey contributes to the foundation of information needed to measure and monitor the impacts of the Government’s cannabis legislation. It also complements previously collected data on the prevalence of cannabis use in the general population.

These survey results reinforce the Government of Canada’s continued public education efforts on the facts around cannabis, as well as on drug-impaired driving, to support Canadians in making informed decisions on cannabis use.

The Canadian Cannabis Survey was designed to seek a greater number of respondents who use cannabis in order to obtain more detailed information on cannabis use in Canada, such as frequency of use and methods of consumption. As such, it is important to note that the Canadian Cannabis Survey is not a general population survey and its results are not representative of the Canadian population.


Ontario Moves Ahead With Plan To License Cannabis Lounges

CANADA: Initially, the province of Ontario – Canada’s most populated area – planned to institute a categorical ban on public smoking which would have restricted consumption to homes. However, that proposal harbored various shortcomings, including exposing children to second-hand smoke.

Additionally, people living in buildings that ban smoking would have no place to smoke.

Trina Fraser, an Ottawa Lawyer who specializes in cannabis trade laws believes that such restrictive regulations would force people to smoke in undesirable places like their cars.

The proposed cannabis lounges could lag behind legalization legislation, which is expected by July.

The Ontario regulations would have provisions for both public lounges and smoking spaces in apartment and some business buildings. Additionally, pot smokers would be allowed to smoke in cigarette smoking zones, and other forms of marijuana, including edible varieties would be allowed in all hotel rooms.

If passed, marijuana producers, as well as sellers of smoking devices stand to benefit significantly, with more people finding it comfortable to smoke marijuana in an acceptable setting.

Tourist populations would also find it easier to sample Canadian pot.


Colorado Has Backed Off Plans For Marijuana Clubs

By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

COLORADO: Colorado lawmakers have backed off plans to regulate marijuana clubs, saying the state would invite a federal crackdown by approving Amsterdam-style pot clubs.

The state House voted Thursday to amend a bill that would have set rules for how private pot clubs could work.

It was a dramatic reversal. Bring-your-own pot clubs had bipartisan support in the Legislature, and the measure had already cleared the GOP Senate.

But lawmakers bowed to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who repeatedly warned lawmakers that he would veto a club measure if it allowed indoor pot-smoking. The governor also warned that clubs, and a separate proposal to allow pot delivery, might invite intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Given the uncertainty in Washington, this is not the time to be . trying to carve off new turf and expand markets and make dramatic statements about marijuana,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post last month.

Sponsors of the club bill said that they had little choice but to back off, leaving Colorado with its current spotty club landscape.

Colorado already has about 30 private pot clubs, according to legislative analysts, but they operate under a patchwork of local regulations and are sometimes raided by law enforcement.

Clubs in Colorado frequently operate in a similar manner to pot clubs in states where pot isn’t legal, with small groups meeting up to smoke in a secret location members sometimes call “Dave’s House,” a reference to an old Cheech and Chong skit.

The House amendment passed Thursday effectively removes club regulations, and the remaining bits of the bill are relatively minor. The bill could face yet more changes before a final vote. Lawmakers who bemoaned the club bill’s demise cited U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has hinted that states violating federal drug law won’t be tolerated.

“I’d like to see (a club bill) that goes much further, and that does a lot more, but in a year with Jeff Sessions, a small first step is better than no step at all,” Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer said.

Not everyone agreed with the change, saying Colorado is wimping out by backing off.

“It only makes sense to allow people to have a place to where they can (smoke marijuana) where it’s controlled and confined,” said Republican Sen. Tim Neville, who sponsored a separate club bill that failed because it would have allowed clubs to sell the marijuana people would smoke, similar to a bar selling alcohol.

“We have legalized marijuana. Where do we want people to use it if not at home? On the street?”

The Colorado bill would have made it the first state to regulate clubs statewide

Alaska pot regulators decided earlier this month to delay action on a measure to allow on-site pot consumption at marijuana dispensaries, or “tasting rooms.”

Ballot measures approved by voters last year in California, Maine and the city of Denver would allow either on-site pot consumption or so-called “social use” clubs, but regulations for how those clubs would work haven’t been settled.

Spokane Police Give Out Few Marijuana Citations

WASHINGTON: Riverfront Park might be the worst place to get high in Spokane.

Data from Spokane Municipal Court shows marijuana users are far more likely to be fined for consuming pot in public by a park security guard than by a Spokane police officer, though they’re unlikely to get a ticket at all.

Citywide, law enforcement officers have written 28 tickets for public consumption of marijuana since March 2013, when an ordinance prohibiting public consumption was added to the city code. Only six of those tickets were written by Spokane police officers, who say they’re usually too busy with other calls for service to deal with pot smokers.

“You’re seeing what the numbers are. That should be indicative of how much of a priority marijuana enforcement is for us,” said Spokane police Capt. Brad Arleth, who oversees the department’s downtown precinct.


The Fiasco In Denver: Putting The Cart Before The Horse

By Keith Stroup

COLORADO:  The embarrassing episode this week in Denver, when the sponsors of a city-wide initiative to legalize marijuana smoking in some bars and lounges withdrew their initiative, even after qualifying for the ballot, reminds us of the need to thoroughly vet these types of projects – especially those with the potential to set-back the legalization movement if they fail – before moving forward. This was an impulsive act that should never have seen the light of day – at least not in 2015.

While I am not privy to the actual discussions that led to the launch of this ill-fated campaign in Denver, one can imagine a couple of friends sitting around one night, smoking some good weed, and convincing themselves that now is the time to expand on the legalization plan in effect statewide in Colorado, by allowing for smoking in bars in Denver. It is a natural next-step for Colorado and the other legalization states.

Most smokers favor the option of bars or lounges where marijuana smokers can gather to socialize outside the home, so the intent of the initiative was admirable. We should not be limited only to smoking in our homes. There is no valid reason for such a limitation, and it really reflects the remaining stigma many non-smoking Americans still associate with the use of marijuana – that it may be tolerated in the home, but is somehow an offense to society to permit smoking in a public venue.

Pro-Pot Group Drops Ballot Campaign To Allow Marijuana In Denver Bars

COLORADO: A pro-marijuana group is withdrawing its ballot measure to allow pot in Denver bars and plans to work instead with the city council and the business community on devising a law on social use in commercial establishments.

Mason Tvert, who led the successful 2012 campaign permitting recreational marijuana use for adults, said in a press release Thursday that his latest group, the Campaign for Limited Social Cannabis Use, had submitted more than twice the number of signatures required for the November ballot.

A Pain In The Bud: The ‘Legality’ Of ‘Coffee Shops’ And Other Marijuana Consumer Venues And Events In The U.S.

WASHINGTON:  Those who have been to Amsterdam may know a thing or two about Dutch “coffee shops.” Though these shops operate in a legal gray area, they still attract droves of foreigners who come to buy and use marijuana in a pleasant coffeehouse setting. Think Starbucks, but with patrons rolling joints or consuming edibles instead of drinking lattes and eating bagels. No state with legal marijuana here in the United States has embraced the coffee shop model, though that may change soon since there are increasingly fewer places in which one can consume marijuana outside one’s own home and, sometimes, not even there.

Most states with robust marijuana regulations (in line with the Cole Memo) prohibit using cannabis inside any state-licensed marijuana business. Those states also usually require that cannabis only be consumed outside the view of the public. In both Colorado and Washington, using marijuana in most hotels, clubs, and bars is also forbidden under both public consumption and general smoking laws. Even cherished Cannabis Cups and competitions are feeling the heat from increased state marijuana regulations surrounding public consumption, prohibition on open containers, and operational licensing. Both Washington and Colorado essentially confine consumption to one’s actual residence. Since many rental apartments and HOA-controlled condos already forbid smoking or any federally illegal drug activity, many marijuana users are left without a lawful venue in which to indulge.

A number of private entrepreneurs are trying to solve this venue problem. For instance, in May, the Colorado Symphony hosted three nights of “Bring Your Own Green” (BYOG), with its “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series.” Entrepreneurs in both Colorado and Washington have advertised for and sought to provide private marijuana clubs, “Bud and Breakfasts,” cannabis-friendly hotels, marijuana-focused travel agencies, and “canna crawls” for touring state-licensed marijuana businesses. Toke’n Brush even puts on a marijuana-friendly painting class. But are these sorts of events and offerings legal under state law?

Proposed New Law Aims To Allow Cannabis In Bars And Clubs, But Is That The Best Way To Socially Smoke Pot?

COLORADO:  It’s a busy afternoon at The Lazy Lion, a members-only marijuana club in this notoriously conservative city. Inside the windowless one-story building in an industrial part of town, attendees who’ve paid the club’s $5 daily membership fee line up at a glass bar to acquire bags of marijuana or take hits from one of the establishment’s water pipes, for which they hand over a cash “reimbursement” (under Colorado law, people aren’t allowed to consume cannabis at locations licensed to sell marijuana).

Colorado Springs has banned recreational-marijuana shops in the city, but its zoning laws allow for private clubs, which is where establishments such as The Lazy Lion fit in. These sorts of gathering places are desperately needed, says the club’s general manager, Aaron Stone. “A lot of time on the retail side, people leave the stores with misinformation, and don’t know how to use what they buy,” he says, noting that in its two-and-a-half year run, The Lazy Lion has played host to job interviews, homework sessions and even post-wedding celebrations.

But would Colorado tourists or marijuana novices really feel at ease inside a place such as The Lazy Lion? And if not, where should people go to consume cannabis with their peers? Marijuana, with its pass-the-joint cultural heritage, has always been a social drug. But so far, recreational-marijuana laws have steadfastly avoided dealing with the social parameters of cannabis use. Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana have outlawed public cannabis consumption, but what about consumption behind closed doors and among consenting adults? It’s a conundrum that has major financial and social implications for the developing legal marijuana industry.

A proposed Denver initiative aims to solve the problem by allowing establishments like bars to permit limited marijuana consumption on the premises, but people are torn as to whether marijuana use should be segregated in separate-but-equal cannabis establishments or integrated with other vices such as alcohol.