Week in Review: Key Meetings in Canada, Possible Patient Boom in Nevada & DEA Speculation

, Week in Review: Key Meetings in Canada, Possible Patient Boom in Nevada & DEA Speculation

By John Schroyer and Omar Sacirbey

Canada’s legalization point man huddles with industry reps, a new Nevada patient processing office could produce a revenue jump for medical marijuana dispensaries, and speculation swirls that the DEA is poised to reschedule cannabis.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Sneaky Sneaky, Canada

The Canadian government’s point man on marijuana legalization, Bill Blair, recently berated unlicensed medical cannabis dispensary operators as “reckless” profit mongers who “don’t care” about the law or the health of kids and adults.

This week, though, he met quietly with advocates of illegal dispensaries, surprising some industry insiders.

Does that mean Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing for dispensaries to be the main distribution outlet for cannabis once it introduces legislation next year to legalize recreational marijuana?

Not really.

Some cannabis industry observers in Canada reckon Blair – a Liberal lawmaker and former Toronto police chief – is open to the idea of dispensaries selling both recreational and medical cannabis. But that’s not necessarily the model he wants to pursue, observers say.

Blair, who’s been sounding out marijuana industry representatives for their views, also is expected to consider the final recommendations of a newly created legalization task force. Those recommendations are expected later this year.

“It’s a positive sign,” said Paul Pedersen, a cannabis consultant with Greywood Partners in Vancouver, adding that he’d heard from lobbyists who met Blair that “he was receptive” to a dispensary distribution model.

But Jamie Shaw, a former president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, wasn’t so sure.

“Bill Blair does seem to have already made up his mind about dispensaries. But, again, hopefully when the task force sees all the evidence their decisions will be based on that,” Shaw said.

So what kind of system does Bill Blair want?

Jason Gratl, a medical cannabis attorney in Vancouver, thinks Blair wants:

  • Large private producers that are regulated by the federal government
  • Wholesalers that are owned by the provincial governments
  • And retailers that are provincially owned or merely regulated by the provincial governments

Pedersen, the cannabis consultant, reckons the provinces ultimately will be left to decide how they want cannabis distributed. Some, he added, will opt for dispensaries, like British Columbia, while others will let it be done through state-owned liquor stores, like in Ontario, where the liquor store employees union is powerful.

Nevada Patient Boom on the Way?

A patient processing office that opened recently in Las Vegas could be a revenue boon for Nevada’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

The center allows people with doctors’ recommendations to apply for and fill prescriptions the same day. Previously, patients had to mail their applications to Carson City. It took weeks to fill a prescription.

The new office is the product of a partnership between the state and the Nevada Dispensary Association.

The speedier approval process could translate into more MMJ patients, and therefore sales, for dispensaries – at least, that’s the hopes of some business executives in Nevada.

“It should, if anything, be a shot in the arm so to speak, just because part of the issue that’s swayed some people from becoming patients is the fact that it can take so long,” Matthew Gardiner, CEO of Nevada Pure, a Las Vegas dispensary, said. “You’re definitely going to see an increase month to month.”

Gardiner said that, conservatively, he’s hoping to see a 10%-15% boost in patient numbers in coming months.

Applications already have been pouring in recent months in Nevada, according to the state. In May, for example, 1,480 new applications were received, while in April 2,061 arrived.

Another development also is important for dispensary owners, on top of the new processing office and the higher patient counts: the fact that the dispensaries came together under the umbrella of the Nevada Dispensary Association – and that the state listened to their concerns, Gardiner said.

“It’s a huge leap in the right direction,” he said. “Yes, everyone’s a competitor to some degree, but we’re all coming together on the issues that matter.”

Gardiner hopes another reform will be forthcoming to shorten the wait times for prospective employees, who currently must endure a lengthy background check before they’re cleared for work at MMJ businesses.

To Reschedule or Not Reschedule …

It’s not every week that hundreds, if not thousands, of people in a given industry are preoccupied with a single news item. But that’s pretty much what the past five days or so were like for those in the cannabis trade, with many wondering whether or not the federal government is on the verge of rescheduling marijuana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration indicated in an April letter to several U.S. senators that it plans to announce a decision by mid-year on rescheduling marijuana, but gave no firm timeline. The agency wrote only that it “hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016.”

Many took that to mean the deadline for a decision is July 1, because that marks the end of the first half of the year. It also means it’s quite possible the agency could issue an announcement before next Friday.

The Santa Monica Observer then touched off several days of intense speculation with a report last weekend that the “U.S. Gov’t Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1.”

The speculation was rampant at the National Cannabis Industry Association summit this past week in Oakland, where many attendees were consumed with the possibility that the DEA may move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II.

The Santa Monica story, it turns out, quoted only a single anonymous DEA attorney who predicted the rescheduling move would happen by Aug. 1, and even led to a Snopes.com article that focused on whether or not the piece was reliable.

It is, of course, still very possible the DEA will make such a momentous change, and some even consider it likely. So stay tuned.

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at [email protected]

6 comments on “Week in Review: Key Meetings in Canada, Possible Patient Boom in Nevada & DEA Speculation

    With DEA rescheduling, patients will no longer expect to pay 100% cash for their medical cannabis. Instead, they will expect to use their health benefits to pay a copay and their insurance company will pay the balance. Insurers only reimburse healthcare providers that have undergone an objective accreditation process. This is the reason dispensaries are lining up to become NMMAO-accredited. Visit NMMAO.net for more information.

  2. Sober Observer on

    Further proof that Canada remains anti capitalist to keep all profits for Government:
    “Blair wants Wholesalers that are owned by the provincial governments; retailers that are provincially owned or merely regulated by the provincial governments”

    DEA will not reschedule Cannabis because it erodes their power and budget. Fact of Life.

  3. Trike Ohm on

    In the minds of policy makers, all that GOD created must be taxed and regulated. In the minds of voters lurk large and persistent questions.
    Who will stand on guard for non-commercial and personal use GROWERS?

  4. DevO on

    Schedule II is a worse situation in ILL. Have to get a new script EVERY freakjin time. That could mean a $200 doctor appt. as well for the script. The way it is now, there;s more freedom…..

  5. Peter on

    The DEA is an enforcement agency; just like street cops enforce laws. The cops don’t MAKE the laws, and then enforce them. There is something called the legislative process that’s missing here. Further, legislators should be getting their answers from the best sources, dependent on the issue. And then acting on that info. in the public’s best interest. In this this instance, the MMJ question: Why aren’t entities like the NIH, the U.S. Surgeon General, the AMA, the U.S. Public Health Service, or any other institutionally recognized/respected group, whether in this country or somewhere else…being relied upon for the solution/solid answers/recommendations?? If one followed the logic, cigarettes and other forms of tobacco would have been schedule 1 long ago. Right? It’s not a stretch, then, to say that the DEA is not really about what it’s acronym implies; but rather it is a “front-man/henchman” for special interests, eg: Among them: Big Pharma and their associated ( smaller scale ) henchmen: the police/prison guard unions ( whom are in many significant ways, against the public’s interest in ALL relevant matters of the human condition..) to execute on their corrupted agendas. The tragedy of it all, is that the DEA is a federal agency that is supposed to be looking out for the publics’ best interest. But, it’s not. The DEA is very likely biding its time at the behest of the aforementioned special interest’s; to maximize that particular special interest’s control and profitability in the case of MMJ. This is evidenced by the DEA’s changing of target dates for whatever it is they’re going to say about their stance. It’s a pretty good bet, that they will attempt ( as much as possible ) to pull the rug out from underneath most that are trying to legitimize this plant/industry; thereby re-criminalizing those that dare compete/get in the way of special interest control/profitability.

    The DEA is at the top of the heap when it comes to this kind of enforcement. But, the example that they’ve been demonstrating for decades, has been just gleefully emulated by local law enforcement unions/prison unions, whom don’t give a damn about the public welfare, in this regard. Just their paychecks/pocket books. And they don’t seem to care how the money gets there, either. So long as they get paid, it’s all good: “Hey honey, we have enough $$ to get that boat now..!” Off of whose back? And, for what for what good reasonThe moral/legal compass is non-existent. As a public health nurse, I’m thoroughly disgusted by how all of this mess has been allowed to persist, facilitated primarily by our executive and legislative branches, whom are also supposed to be having the public’s interest paramount to any other. The DEA is but a joke of an agency, that the public is supposed to take seriously. Because of what?? Cigarettes/alcohol not scheduled? For how long? I think it’s been pretty clearly established that Totto’s pulled the curtain on the DEA’s mechanizations by now. Yet, there they are. Doing what they’ve always done. It’s sickening.

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