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This Week in Cannabis: Top Stories From Across Canada From Feb. 15-21

This week in cannabis, CFAMM’s #DontTaxMedicine campaign ramps up, Toronto tries to ban child-friendly edibles and vapes, Ontario’s retail training program fumbles, right out of the gate, and more.

We’ve rounded up this week’s top stories from across Canada.

D-Day for Battle Against MED Taxes

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) ramped up its #DontTaxMedicine campaign on multiple fronts this week. They began with a full-page ad in the Ottawa Citizen demanding the removal of excise and sales taxes from medical cannabis, supplemented by billboard/bus-stop ads around Toronto.

A video-truck displaying Aurora’s Cannabis Tax Ticker, showing the more than $120-million Canadian MED users have paid the government in taxes on prescription cannabis since 2014, parked in front of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Toronto-Centre riding office. Finally, members of all three major parties (including traditional cannabis foe Marilyn Gladu) joined Brazeau Seller cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser in a press conference on Parliament Hill, stressing that Canadians do not accept taxes on medicine.

Before the campaign, I spoke to CFAMM founder Jonathan Zaid (now Aurora’s director of advocacy and corporate responsibility) for WeedWeek Canada. Zaid made no secret of the plans to press the Liberals hard to remove taxes from medical cannabis ahead of both the 2019 budget and the fall election. “Medical cannabis is not a product where the government should be trying to restrict access to reduce consumption,” he told me. “If a physician is prescribing a certain amount of cannabis, then a patient shouldn’t be further restricted from that access because of an arbitrary sin or excise tax on it.

This week’s attention-getting calls for tax-free MED may well be the harbinger of a whole year of aggressive efforts from medical advocates. You can join in by writing a letter to your MP at CFAMM’s  Don’t Tax Medicine website.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health: “Ban Child-friendly Edibles or Vapes”

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa pushed the federal government to ban all cannabis edibles that could appeal to children. These include everything from candy-flavoured cannabis vape products to candies and gummies in shapes or colours that might be attractive to children.

She said she was responding to the high rate of accidental cannabis-intoxication cases in the US, in which edible products have been in many cases scarcely regulated in both packaging and dosage potency. Health Canada’s packaging regulations, however, will make it nearly impossible for children to mistake cannabis edibles as ordinary candy, gummies, or baked goods.

The proposed 10mg cap on THC per package, which the industry has complained as too low for many, will meanwhile make it significantly more difficult for anyone to accidentally ingest a massive dose of THC. Nonetheless, Dr. de Villa stressed it was important to think first of how children will interact with edibles. Accordingly, she asked Ottawa to ban ads for vape products any place children might encounter them, and also to ban “marketing materials showing cannabis use in movies and video games.”

American Cannabis Opponents Enraged by Proposed Cannabis Store at West Edmonton Mall, Locals Much Less Concerned

Aurora plans to open its first REC retail store in the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. The decision provoked a response from US-based anti-cannabis activists group

Smart Approaches to Marijuana
, whose Virginia-based Chief of Staff Luke Niforatos complained to CTV News “If there are kids that are congregating at the mall there absolutely should not be a marijuana shop anywhere around there.” Locals interviewed about the shop, however, expressed no concern about it. The mall already has a liquor store, several tobacco shops, and a casino.

To Do List


Mary Jane Brunch

VANCOUVER, BC – Hear from experts have real talk on what sex is like with Cannabis lubes, and share tips and tools at this brunch event taking place at Hervana on Feb. 23. Mary Jane Mimosas, granola, Tarot reading and, ’grammable flower walls are included in the ticket price that ranges from $35 to $40.

HempFest Winnipeg

A festivus for the rest of us! Newcomers and seasoned veterans are welcome at HempFest Winnipeg happening Feb. 23 and 24 at the RBC Convention Centre. Savour cannabis cooking demos with Chef Allan Pineda, watch a bong come to life with glassblowers from Box Car Studios, hear inspiring talks led by industry leaders, and peruse the dozens of exhibitors!

New Moon Cannabis Ceremony

VERNON, BC — Taking place at Flower Of Life Integrative Health on Feb. 27, set your intentions and go deep into meditation with cannabis as a spirit plant medicine teacher and ally. Feel free to bring a pillow, blanket, water bottle, yoga mat, and any other ceremonial items. Admission costs $25.

Find more cannabis events in Canada. Check out our monthly round up.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image
Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.

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