The UK Could Use Massachusetts as a Template for Weed Legalization



The UK Could Use Massachusetts as a Template for Weed Legalization


vice news


The state’s alternative model of social justice could become the roadmap for a new ethical approach to cannabis reform.



This article originally appeared on VICE UK.



The official body that’s overseen the legal cannabis regulatory process in Massachusetts has now given the much anticipated “commence operations” notice. 

It has taken two years for the Cannabis Control Commission’s rollout of this rather unique model for cannabis reform. On entering one of the new cannabis stores, customers are directed to either an express line, for experienced connoisseurs, or a line for “full service,” where a “budtender” will helpfully guide and educate as to the effects and assorted flavors of their products.

There are also private consultation rooms, which are a state requirement, for customers wishing to flick through education materials. Legal retail outlets are said to look more like an Apple store than a typical cannabis dispensary.

It was in November of 2016 when voters in Massachusetts said yes to Question 4 on their ballot paper, agreeing to legalize cannabis, and on November 20, this year two retail stores opened their doors to consumers aged 21 and over. Five Cannabis Commissioners were appointed in Massachusetts to oversee the framework around setting up this new industry, and their expertise included backgrounds in public health and safety.


Massachusetts has placed a firm emphasis on its “social equity” program, which is designed to ensure that people from ethnic communities —most notably black people and those with Latin backgrounds—are not excluded from the new industry.


Much like the UK, the US has disproportionately enforced the drug laws, with people of color receiving a higher rate of arrest and prosecution. Previous convictions for cannabis have now been expunged in Massachusetts for this very reason, to try to ensure that previously harmed demographics have a chance to move on and potentially thrive in the industry. The Cannabis Control Commission points out on their website that race disparity in drug convictions also impacts families and communities.


New cannabis markets seem to be blooming, but grassroots activists across the globe are growing wary about this new industry being dominated purely by financial interests and inherently lacking diversity. Those who have historically been harmed by drug laws, or those who have put decades of effort into making sure reform has taken place, could be in jeopardy of being side-lined by new investors, some of whom have previously opposed legalization, such as high-profile examples like John Boehner, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.



With an eye on making sure diversity is present in Massachusetts, small businesses are to be given a foothold too. Micro businesses could also be allowed to embark on a home delivery service—an initiative that’s currently being considered—but regardless of that specifically, small, locally-owned businesses are definitely being discussed.


“The biggest challenge for me has been ensuring that our measures are effective in including small businesses and owners of different backgrounds,” says Shaleen Title, one of the commissioners. “I hope that we will see progress once we launch our first-of-its-kind social equity program this year. Passing that program was definitely the highlight for me.”


All licensees are required to submit a diversity plan, as well as a plan to positively impact communities that have been disproportionately harmed by drug prohibition.

Members of the disabled community will also have access to the new cannabis industry.


“Every single business licensed by the Commission must include in their application a diversity plan to promote equity among people of different backgrounds, specifically including people with disabilities,” says Title. “The key, for me, is to continually collect data from the communities we are seeking to serve and to be flexible and address their concerns and challenges.”

As global discussions around cannabis reform heat up, there are already cannabis industry functions and networking seminars taking place across the UK and Europe. Concerns are growing from grassroots activists who detect that, despite laying the groundwork through decades of activism, their own entry into a legal market may be usurped by those who have only recently surfaced and have big enough wallets to invest at the early stages.


Massachusetts could become a template for a new ethical approach to cannabis reform. This is why it’s crucial for all new territories to start a social equity conversation right from the very start, and at a grassroots level.




Two arrests after Potters Bar cannabis factory raid



Two arrests after Potters Bar cannabis factory raid


BBC News


Cannabis plants


Two people have been arrested after a cannabis factory with a crop potentially worth £95,000 was found.

Hertfordshire Police said they attended a property on Willow Way, Potters Bar at about 14:55 GMT on Tuesday.

More than 230 cannabis plants were found in “well set up operation”.

A man, 31, and a woman, 35, were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of a controlled drug and released under investigation.


Cannabis plants



Highly hazardous butane gas canisters, used to make cannabis oil were also found, police said.

Officers believe the plants had been grown for “some time” as the property had “evidence of previous harvests”.

Ch Insp Steve O’Keeffe said: “This looks like it was a well set up operation that would likely have put large amounts of illegal drugs on to the streets.

“These kinds of factories use large amounts of water and electricity and often these are siphoned from other people’s supplies and can cause damage or fires to surrounding properties.”




Cannabis with street value of £2 million seized during searches in Belfast



Cannabis with street value of £2 million seized during searches in Belfast


Four men and one woman being held for questioning


Cannabis with an estimated street value of £2 million has been seized following a number of searches across Belfast. Five people were also arrested.

Those arrested included four men aged 59, 46, 39 and 28 and a 34-year-old woman.


They were arrested in the south and east Belfast areas on suspicion of offences in relation to the supply of these drugs and a number of immigration offences.

They have been taken to Musgrave Serious Crime suite for questioning.


Speaking on Friday about the operation Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton said detectives from PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit, assisted by local police officers and colleagues from Immigration and Enforcement, carried out searches at seven addresses across Belfast on Thursday.


“As a result of this operation cannabis with a potential street value of £2 million was seized. This is a significant haul and demonstrates our commitment to removing dangerous drugs from our communities. We are following several lines of enquiry, one is a potential link to a Triad organised crime gang and another is potential links to paramilitary groups,” he said.

“As we approach the festive party season I want people to think about where their money is going before they hand over cash for recreational drugs.


“Many people who spend money on a casual transaction at the weekend think that it isn’t harming anyone else; the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is it illegal to purchase these drugs but it fuels the local drug trade which causes irreparable damage and loss to many families and individuals whose lives it destroys. When you hand over money for a small amount of drugs at the weekend, this contributes to the violence and intimidation inflicted by merciless crime gangs. It can go towards buying a gun used in an attack against someone who has a drug debt; or a get-away car used in a crime,” he added.


photo on link







Cannabis farm discovered by police in Gloucester today



Cannabis farm discovered by police in Gloucester today


The warrant was issued after a member of the public tipped police off about the activity at the house.




Police have seized 168 cannabis plants from a property in Gloucester today.

A warrant was issued to investigate the property after intelligence came in from a member of public.

The mass haul of plants were found in four rooms of a terraced house in Tredworth this morning.


A police spokesman said: “A 39-year-old man of Gloucester has been arrested on suspicion of drugs manufacture production of class B.

“Anyone with suspicions of drug activity can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously.”



The Serious and Organised Crime Team tweeted the haul with the hashtag #happyfriday after the successful cannabis farm find.

The tweet said: “Gardening duties this morning following a successful warrant in Gloucester. 1 arrested. #happyfriday ”


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Vegetarian cannabis restaurant ‘to redress outdated stereotypes’



Vegetarian cannabis restaurant ‘to redress outdated stereotypes’


Canna Kitchen founders want to “educate society” and say it will open customers’ eyes so they experience the plant in new forms.


Canna Kitchen


The team behind an eatery dubbed Britain’s first vegan and vegetarian cannabis restaurant say their aim is to “redress outdated stereotypes” about the drug.

The menu features food and drinks infused with legal and non-psychoactive organic cannabinoid products containing the compounds CBD, CBG and CBN.

The team describes cannabis as a “versatile and powerful herb, packed full of flavour and fragrance, with a whole range of natural therapeutic benefits”.

They were inspired by research claiming the plant can boost appetite, tackle pain, and help with digestive problems and reproduction issues as well as stress and memory loss.

Founder Sam Evolution wants Canna Kitchen in Brighton to “educate society” and said it will open customers’ eyes so they experience the plant in new forms and don’t just see it as a recreational drug.


Canna Kitchen


The restaurant, which opens to the public on Saturday, will focus on healthy food made from organic local produce.

Mr Evolution said: “Our mission is to spark a larger conversation around cannabis, to assist in educating and re-informing society’s perceptions of the plant.

“The Canna Kitchen aims to achieve this by offering people an opportunity to experience the plant in a form that may be new to them.”




Sam Evolution and Charlotte Kjaer


Head chef Charlotte Kjaer is experimenting with dishes including Zaa’tar roasted cauliflower, hemp heart tabbouleh, smoked aubergine, sesame Cavolo Nero and buckwheat and beetroot pancakes served with refreshments like non-alcoholic hash beer.

She said: “I enjoy to cook with the seasons and in harmony with nature, a diet rich in seasonal plant-based food is not only nutritious for the body, but also beneficial for the planet.

“I aim to create honest, balanced and vibrant food.”


Mr Evolution said there has been overwhelming support with many people “keen to see the plant receive the acknowledgement it truly deserves”.

But there had also been criticism from some who “seem to struggle with separating outdated definitions of the plant”, he said.

He is confident his restaurant is the first of its kind, adding: “I researched heavily into any other legal restaurant establishments in the UK, and aside from a pop up in 2015, I could find no other projects of this nature.”





Mislabelled cannabis product prompts Kamloops woman to file lawsuit

Mislabelled cannabis product prompts Kamloops woman to file lawsuit

Kimberly Webster thought she was consuming a high-CBD, low-THC product, but that wasn’t the case

A Thompson Rivers University student is taking B.C. Cannabis Stores to court.


In a notice of civil claim filed on Tuesday (Nov. 27), Kimberly Webster alleges she was sold a mislabelled product on Oct. 18, and as a result, “was unable to perform her day-to-day activities” and “suffered personal injuries.”

Webster bought was she believed was a CBD oral spray, one with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, according to the claim.


A month later, on Nov. 20, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) emailed Webster and told her the Hexo product was incorrectly labelled.

“When consumers are not properly informed of the contents of the products being sold, and deprived of the information required to make informed decisions, it leads to inadvertent and unknown risks being taken by consumers,” reads the notice of civil claim. (Webster allowed others to use the spray as well.)


KamloopsMatters has reached out to Webster but has not heard back. In a Nov. 21 Facebook post, Webster shared her frustrations.

“That’s great for those who want to get f**ked out of their tree, but what about those who were using this for exam stress?” she writes. “What about those who were feeling anxiety and attempted self-treatment with ‘safe’ ‘know-what’s-in-it’ government marijuana? Those people unknowingly ingested a high level of a substance that impairs MEMORY. And the government didn’t announce it until a month later.”


The court document says the defendants (Attorney General, LDB, Hexo and B.C. Cannabis) “were negligent in failing to warn the plaintiff.”


Webster stopped using the product right after she learned of the mishap.


The claim alleges Webster suffered from anxiety, trust issues, anguish, distress, mental suffering and expenses.

“Injuries have caused pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and prospective earnings, and the plaintiff will continue so to suffer in the future,” states the notice.


Canadian Weed Giant Backs Medical Marijuana Trials in U.K.

Canadian Weed Giant Backs Medical Marijuana Trials in U.K.


One of the world’s biggest cannabis growers is preparing to fund clinical trials of marijuana-based drugs in the U.K. that could help jump-start the nascent British market.


Canopy Growth Corp., the Canadian pot producer, and a consortium of investors said they’re putting 7.4 million pounds ($9.5 million) into testing medical cannabis for treatment of pain and opioid dependence. Beckley Canopy Therapeutics Ltd., a U.K. firm partly owned by Ontario-based Canopy, will conduct the tests.


While the U.K. legalized medical cannabis earlier this month, adoption has been slow. Companies such as Canopy are in the process of getting permits to import the drug, doctors need to learn about when to prescribe it, and government guidelines limit the potential for widespread applications. Clinical research will help facilitate wider acceptance of cannabis by the medical community, according to Mark Ware, Canopy’s chief medical officer.

“All eyes are focused on the U.K. right now to see this program move forward,” he said in a phone interview. “The discussion has gone from zero to 100 in the space of a few months.”


Canopy contributed about one-third of the funds for the project, which is expected to start early next year. The rest of the money came from a group of investors including Manx Financial Group Plc Chairman Jim Mellon, Richard Reed, co-founder of juice company Innocent Drinks, and biotech entrepreneur Annalisa Jenkins.

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