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Does Cannabis Contribute $6 Billion to Canada's Economy?

We are about to find out

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One of the numerous reasons countries have put forth, over the years, for legalizing Cannabis, has been simply it was a massive source of economic activity that wasn't taxed. While you have to pay sales tax on everything, from shoes to a beer, the money being handed to drug dealers was not contributing to the government's finances. So when Canada was getting ready to legalize, (More on that here) the Director general of Statistics Canada had to figure out, while it was still illegal, how much this was contributing to Canada's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

NPR's excellent planet money podcast, the indicator, did a great interview back in January with James Tebrake, the director general of Statistics Canada, asking him how he went about it which is worth listening to in its entirety. What's interesting more than anything is where they got their information from initially.

1. Health studies: These have been done for years on how many people smoke weed. The Canadian government has been running them for years and the most recent study says that around 4.6 million people aged 15 years or older have used weed in the previous 3 months. Which is around 15% of the population. Canada has close to 36 million people. The same studies showed the amount of cannabis consumed and places the number at around 700 tons annually.

2. Priceofweed.com: How much are they paying for that weed? Well that was taken from a variety of sources but the most interesting was priceofweed.com, which is a fun website where people self report how much they paid for weed and in what area of the world. It's clearly not as good data as say sales receipts generated by credit card companies, but it's what they had to work with. Also it's worth spending time on that website, it's fascinating.

3. Law Enforcement data. The reason this mattered more than anything was simply to figure out how much of that weed was grown in Canada. When you are doing economic analysis and forecasting you need to know if these goods are made locally or coming from out the Canada. From the sample size of drug busts, specifically those along the border, they were able to say that Canada is a net exporter of Cannabis.

All in all saying that the illegal market for Cannabis is around $6 Billion. Now that legalization has taken place in Canada, only the second country to do so, we will find out how accurate that forecast was. Of course Canada regulates everything heavily so Cannabis wont be any different. The current plan will involve a heavy excise tax and only be sold in designed stores owned by the same company that owns Canada's liquor distribution companies. Which is a state owned government monopoly on the sale of liquor. Which means their will be a significant amount of people who will probably opt to buy the cheaper weed that will be sold outside of the system.

Over the next year we will find out how accurate these estimates proved to be will be shown over the next year. Which will be a signifigant argument one way or the other if the United States should follow suit.

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New Netflix Series "Murder Mountain" Is A Must Watch!

One of the newest shows added to Netflix this month, "Murder Mountain", takes a hard look at Humboldt county, California, the epicenter of cannabis cultivation in the United States.

When most people think of marijuana, they think of being stoned and getting the munchies, but in this 6 part mini-seres we learn that not all things cannabis are warm and fuzzy.

Since 1977, Humboldt County, a quiet, remote stretch of land in the heart of what is known as the "emerald triangle"(Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties), has consistently reported more missing people per capita than the entire state of California.

While there are simple explanations to some of these disappearances, the cold hard truth is that a large portion of them can be tied to the black market marijuana industry (which continues to flourish despite the legalization of recreational cannabis last January).

Why do so many people that work on cannabis grows in Humboldt go missing? It is hard to pinpoint the cause in each case, but over the years it has been proven that young kids will flock to the area in hopes of making big money on marijuana, only to find out the harsh reality of life on a grow. Long hours of hard labor, very little pay and the possibility of being subjected to violence and abuse.

With over 15,000 illegal grows and the black market booming, it is no surprise these workers, known as "trimmigrants", make the trek to the emerald triangle despite all the well known negative aspects of the work.

Murder Mountain focuses on one individual in particular, Garrett Rodriguez, who moved to Humboldt to work on a cannabis farm so he could afford to take over his family property in Mexico. Despite finding success in Humboldt, it wasn't long before Garrett's phone calls to his father stopped, leaving his family to wonder what had become of him.

Watch the trailer below!



Montanha Mortal (Murder Mountain) | Trailer da temporada 01 | Legendado (Brasil) [HD] www.youtube.com

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New York State Association of Counties Preps for Legal Pot

Yesterday morning, Steven Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties, appeared on the Capital Press Room with Susan Arbetter.

In response to Governor Cuomo's Address at the New York City Bar Association on Monday, Acquario weighed in on Cuomo's plan to legalize marijuana across the state.

While cannabis would provide counties with much needed resources for education and public assistance, executive director Acquario was not exactly "championing" this cause, due to the severity of the opioid epidemic that has taken over the lives of many New Yorkers.

Acquario said "this is a major shift in public policy and we have been combatting an opioid epidemic, it's confusing, it's a confusing issue to teenagers and families in New York." He goes on to say "to introduce marijuana policy during a drug crisis is confusing, there are a lot of issues surrounding the legalization of recreational marijuana, this issue needs to be engaged with local governments."

Another issue he raised concerns the use of the term "recreational" with cannabis. There is a lot of pushback using this word as it makes people fearful that impressionable children will be encouraged to use cannabis or try it for the first time, because it is now considered a "recreation."

According to Acquario, the largest area of concern is public health, specifically, the issues of teen access to cannabis, the regulation of the clean indoor air act, and coordination with Big Tobacco. "We are telling kids that it is not ok to smoke tobacco, but that it is ok to smoke marijuana?" He makes an interesting point here, one that definitely requires consideration before we unleash a multibillion dollar drug market on one of the most populous states in the country.

It is also important to get the tax structure right, Acquario references California, where there is a massive black market of marijuana, as a result of the state's failure to appropriately set tax rates on the sale of cannabis. It is important that Governor Cuomo learn from the mistakes of the other states that have legalized cannabis, New York is a huge state with enormous potential for revenue, which all hinges on our ability to get the program right from the beginning.

What is the counties role in all of this? Consumer protection and public health. the New York State Association of Counties has met with the Governor and voiced their concerns. It is now up to Governor Cuomo and his handpicked team to take New York to the forefront of the recreational cannabis market in the U.S.



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NJ Announces Approval of 6 More Medical Pot Dispensaries

Doubles Program

Despite having such a hard time moving forward with legalizing recreational cannabis, today the state announced the approval of six more medical marijuana dispensaries.

This move has doubled the size of the program and couldn't have come sooner! The second half of 2018 has been rough for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey, who have been hit with product shortages and lots of red tape which has significantly slowed down progress of the medical program.

According to a report by NJ.com, the following six locations will be open for business:

NETA NJ, LLC. - Phillipsburg, NJ

GTI New Jersey, LLC. - Paterson, NJ

Verano NJ, LLC - Rahway, NJ (grow), Elizabeth, NJ (dispensary)

Justice Grown - Ewing, NJ

MPX New Jersey - Galloway (cultivation), Atlantic City (dispensary)

Columbia Care New Jersey - Vineland

These 6 businesses were chosen out of a staggering 146 that applied during the august application period. Each business will still need further approval from the Department of Health before their status is finalized.

Included in the steps for final approval are background checks, approval from the municipality the business plans to operate in, as well as full compliance with all regulations adopted by the medical program in New Jersey.

"Six very strong applicants were selected, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses," Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said. "We will meet with them early next year to refine their timetable for growing product and opening their doors."

Elnahal continues "We are committed to an equitable expansion of supply to meet growing patient demand, and these new locations will reach patients that currently have to travel longer distances to obtain their therapy."

Hopefully, this is just the beginning for New Jersey. With a program that has added more than 20,000 new patients in the last year, it is imperative that a reliable supply chain be established. The question on a lot of people's minds, will Governor Phil Murphy make good on one of his biggest campaign promises by legalizing marijuana for adult use in the state?