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Marijuana News Roundup: Canada Government Launches Bill to Legalize Marijuana

Paul Ausick

Last Thursday, the government of Canada introduced legislation in the country's parliament that would permit adult use of marijuana. The bill's introduction fulfills a campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize recreational pot use in the country.

If the law is approved (as expected), Canada becomes only the second country to legalize cannabis. Uruguay fully legalized pot in 2013, but implementation has been slow, largely because the government is maintaining tight control over how marijuana can be marketed and sold.

In Canada, the federal government will regulate growers, but each province will work out its own system for distribution and sales. In addition, the federal government will have to sort out a myriad of related issues such as international drug treaty agreements.

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The federal law would make purchase and possession of about an ounce legal for any Canadian over the age of 18. And that's another bone of contention. A network of drug rehabilitation centers called Portage wants the age for legal purchases to be set at 25. The provinces may set the age higher than 18, but not lower.

The government hopes to have a system operating by summer 2018. Because the country has already legalized marijuana for medical use, licensed growers already exist which should help speed up implementation. The Canadian legislation would also allow non-Canadians to take part in the market without a residency requirement. According to the Financial Post, consultancy Deloitte reckons the industry could be worth CDN$22.6 billion.

That's not a slam-dunk, however. We noted last week a new study that indicates pricing of legal marijuana, including taxes, could determine whether or not legal marijuana delivers the hoped-for tax revenues that all governments expect.

Wine Industry Finds a Companion in a Competitor: Marijuana
Legal intoxication is big business and getting bigger. More states have legalized marijuana, leading some in the alcohol industry to regard it as a threat to their profit margin.

Those concerns are warranted in some cases. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where recreational use has been legal for several years, beer sales are down, mostly among mass-market brews. The liquor industry opposed several marijuana legalization initiatives last year and has expressed fears for its bottom line.

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The fine wine industry, however, has not panicked. Despite occasional efforts to pit wine and weed against each other, people in the wine business exude an air of mellow acceptance that the two substances can coexist in harmony.

"People are trying to say there is a threat, but I really haven't talked to any wine industry person yet who actually sees it that way," said Tina Caputo, a freelance wine and food writer, who in August will be a moderator at the first Wine & Weed Symposium. The event, a wine industry initiative, will explore possible business opportunities in California, which legalized recreational marijuana use in November.

Read more at The New York Times.

Oxford University Researchers to Explore the Potential Benefits of Medical Marijuana
You know studies into the uses of marijuana have hit the big time -- academically speaking, at any rate -- when the University of Oxford in England gets involved.

Oxford, about as far removed from the stereotypical laid-back marijuana culture as an institution can get, has decided to jump in a big way into research of the potential, untapped benefits of cannabis. The university will focus on cannabis for treatment of pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases. The goal is to unlock new medical uses for marijuana.

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"Oxford will seek to identify new medical therapies through research into the molecular, cellular and systems mechanisms of cannabinoids," according to a news release from the university.

Read more at Entrepreneur.

How Marijuana Created Some of the Best Bargains in the NFL Draft
Hours before the 2016 NFL draft was set to begin, potential No. 1 overall pick Laremy Tunsil had a problem. A video of him smoking what appeared to be marijuana from a gas mask was published on his Twitter timeline, followed by embarrassing leaks of private conversations with Ole Miss staff members.

Suddenly, one of the draft's top player's prospects dwindled. He slipped through the top 10 picks before landing at the 14th spot with the Miami Dolphins. The difference between the contract he signed and the one Jared Goff earned at the No. 1 spot was significant — a $17.5 million gap.

That could turn out to be one hell of a deal for the Dolphins. It wouldn't be the first time a little weed helped an NFL team make out like a bandit at the NFL draft.

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Tunsil struggled at times but still put together a solid rookie campaign in 2016. He's got a lot of work to do to catch up to three of the draft's biggest pot-smoking bargains. Randy Moss, Warren Sapp, and — at least according to urban legend — Dan Marino — all rebounded from collegiate issues that tanked their prospect stock to stage Hall of Fame careers on the gridiron.

Read more at SBNation.

Hackers Are Holding Instagram Pages of Pot Businesses Hostage
Hackers who prey on high-traffic Instagram accounts, often those belonging to celebrities or pop culture icons, have found new victims in the high-dollar world of legal marijuana, industry observers say.

Anthony Carbone, a marketing and security consultant who specializes in Instagram, says hackers have exhausted take-overs of accounts belonging to actors, sports stars and the like. "This is happening [to marijuana-related accounts] because the hackers have gone through all the celebrity accounts and exotic car pages in the last year and a half," he says.

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Hackers demand ransoms of $2,000 to $25,000 depending on the number of followers a victim claims, according to Carbone. The cost can be worth paying for businesses that rely on Instagram to make money, he says. Instagram itself can help users recover accounts, but sometimes not before greater losses mount.

Read more at LA Weekly.

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