Liberals Will Review Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Newly appointed Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (@Puglaas) confirmed earlier this month that the new Liberal government will review the use of mandatory minimum sentences, which were originally introduced by the former Conservative government.

It is expected that the review of the mandatory minimum sentences will be part of a larger revamped approach to the criminal justice system. It is important to recall that one of the bad laws introduced by the Conservative government was a six month mandatory minimum sentence for growing six or more plants for the purpose of trafficking.

NORML Canada plans to follow this review closely as we continue to encourage the Liberals to ensure reasonable access for all adults and for children whom a doctor has prescribed or recommended medical access.

Edgar Bernal-Martinez, @EdgarBMZ

RCMP Order Marijuana Dispensaries in Nanaimo, BC to Close Down

On December 1, 2015 three dispensaries in Nanaimo, BC were raided by the RCMP.

On November 12 medical marijuana dispensaries in Nanaimo, BC were handed orders by the RCMP to cease operations within seven days.

“I am notifying you that you have seven calendar days to comply with this notice or you will be subject to police enforcement including the arrest of all employees and patrons on site and the seizure of all offence-related property from the premises,” says the letter signed by Sergeant Rob Christenson of the Nanaimo RCMP.

While retail sales of medical marijuana are still illegal in Canada, some municipal governments like Vancouver have chosen to regulate dispensaries instead of shutting them down.

At a recent meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, cities voted in favour of a resolution to declare they have the authority to license dispensaries. Dispensaries had until midnight on November 19 to close down.

Edgar Bernal-Martinez, @EdgarBMZ

Supreme Court Ruling in Mexico Could Open the Door to Legalizing Marijuana

The Supreme Court in Mexico ruled that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use in the case of four citizens who had challenged the federal law. While the ruling by the Supreme Court does not necessarily repeal the current federal drug laws, it does provide a precedent for potential legal actions that could end up re-writing them.

The decision was the conclusion of the work done by four individuals in Mexico. They formed the group called ‘Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsible y Tolerante – SMART’, which stands for ‘Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Consumption.’ The group applied to the Mexican drug regulatory agency for a license to use marijuana but was turned down, as they had expected.

Their appeal of that decision eventually took them to the Supreme Court. As it stands, this ruling applies only to those four individuals. For marijuana to become legal at the federal level in Mexico, the justices in the court’s criminal chamber will have to rule the same way five times, or eight of eleven members of the full court will have to vote in favour.

Edgar Bernal-Martinez, @EdgarBMZ

Drug Policy Alliance’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C.

On November 18 – 21, 2015, the Drug Policy Alliance hosted their bi-annual International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C. With over 1500 people from 71 countries in attendance, the conference agenda reflected the diversity of a growing movement around drug policy reform across the world.

Attendance included a variety of activists, researchers, policy makers, politicians, and organizations, including NORML U.S. chapters (, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (, MAPS (, Open Society Foundations (, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (, Insite Vancouver (, and LEAP (

Cannabis, not surprisingly, was the central focus of many informative panels, with a range of topics that looked at criminal justice reform, models of cannabis regulation around the world, current medical cannabis research, and ensuring inclusion along lines of race and class in our discussions of potential legalization regulation and industry. These important conversations served as a clear indication that cannabis is the cornerstone of the modern drug policy reform movement.

As Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the DPA, reminded us, drug policy reform is truly a movement for freedom and liberty – “freedom from oppression, freedom from fear, freedom from incarceration, freedom from racism, freedom.” We look forward to continuing our fight for freedom in 2016 with our allies across the globe. Check out a short video recap of the conference here: (

Jenna Valleriani, @jennav5

Vancouver Gang Unit Apologizes for Tweets Warning About “Shatter”

Vancouver Gang Unit Apologizes for Tweets Warning About “Shatter”
The Vancouver Police Gang Crime Unit has apologized after inaccurately posting on the lethality of shatter on their Twitter page.

The Tweet, which has now since been deleted, read “Parents!!!! Please educate your children on the dangers of ‘shatter.’ We can not [sic] lose any more young people to senseless overdoses.”

Shatter, a refined, concentrated extract of cannabis may contain 80-90% or more THC. Although potent, Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall said there’s no connection between shatter and fatal overdoses of any kind.

“If you had enough of it, it could cause anxiety attacks, it could make you very stoned, some people get paranoid, it’s been associated with psychosis, but I don’t think it’s been associated with a fatal overdose,” said Kendall.

The real dangers of shatter comes from its production, sometimes done in makeshift home labs, which involves using solvents, butane, and other combustible materials during extraction, says Dana Larsen, director of Sensible BC.

“These kind of products that are very potent should not be the first way you enter into cannabis use, but parents do not have to be worried about children dying from marijuana overdose. That is not a legitimate concern at all,” he said.

“Shatter or dabs or wax or butter, or whatever you want to call it, these products are very pure and very potent, but they don’t cause anybody to die.”

Abi Sampson, @HiHeidiHigh