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Published: Mon, 25 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:01:04 -0400


Brickbat: Stifling Intellectual Competition

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Following a 14-month investigation, Canada's Competition Bureau has closed a probe of three groups accused by environmentalists of making misleading claims about global warming. But the bureau says it may reopen the investigation if it receives new information.

Canadian Cops Claim They Won't Be Ready for Marijuana Legalization by 2018

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:55:00 -0400

(image) The Canadian government plans to legalize marijuana by July 2018, fulfilling a pledge made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before he was elected prime minister. But police are urging Parliament to delay the legalization effort, insisting they need more time to learn how to enforce the new laws.

"We are asking that the government consider giving us more time to have all the legislation fully in place which will allow us to properly train, prepare for implementation on Day 1," Mike Serr of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police told a parliamentary health committee this week.

This request was reinforced by testimony from Kevin Sabet, a longtime drug warrior who runs a major anti-legalization organization in the U.S. Sabet insisted that only those looking to go into business in the marijuana industry want the process to go quickly.

Tell it to the 160 people a day arrested in Canada for pot possession.

Serr's argument is similarly silly. His group brings up the role of "organized crime" in the marijuana trade, as if not understanding how criminalizing a product criminalizes those trading in it.

Nevertheless, Canadian officials—like their counterparts in Colorado and Washington—intend to institute strict "security screenings" for those looking to enter the marketplace, making it harder for black-market entrepreneurs to go legit. They also want tight regulations of the industry, including sales taxes, licensing fees, and packaging requirements.

The parliamentary committee also heard testimony from the director of Washington's state liquor and cannabis board, Rick Garza, who said legal marijuana businesses were able to compete with the black market once legal prices fell to $10 per gram. According to Garza, legal prices in his state are down to about $7.50 a gram. The clear lesson: Canada should let black marketeers come in from the shadows, not create a heavily regulated parallel industry.

Canada's public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, says the government plans to stick to its 2018 timetable for legalization.

Brickbat: Let's Go Fly a Kite

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Steve Polansky has been flying kites on Toronto's Woodbine Beach for more than 20 years. But he says a city worker recently told him flying kits at the beach is against the rules and threatened him with a $300 fine if he kept it up.

Brickbat: Nobody's Talking

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, canceled a panel discussion on "The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses" following protests. Officials said they did not think they could protect public safety if the discussion took place.

Five Cities That Got F*cked by Hosting the Olympics

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:30:00 -0400

Every four years with the Olympics, municipalities compete to host the winter and summer games and virtually always plunge their cities and sometimes even their home countries into massive debt and insolvency. Why? Because host cities inevitably spend double or more over initial estimates, fewer people show up than expected, and the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, takes bigger and bigger cuts of TV and other revenue streams. Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist says that a typical Summer Olympics generates up to $6 billion in revenue, at least half of which goes to the IOC. Winter Games generate even less money despite often being more expensive to host than Summer Games. Cities routinely claim that whatever money they spend on new facilities will stimulate the local economy for decades to come. With the recent announcement that Paris will host the 2024 Summer Games and Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Games, here are five cities that got fucked by hosting the Olympics. Athens, Greece, 2004. Athens is the birthplace of the ancient games that inspired today's modern municipal money pits. Its 2004, Games cost $16 billion, or 10 times the original estimate. By 2010, more than half the venues built for the event were underused, completely empty, or literally falling apart. Sochi, Russia, 2014. At $50 billion, the Sochi Winter Games cost more than all previous Winter Olympics combined, paid for by a dwindling supply of Russian petro dollars and gold bullion. Boris Nemtsov documented that $21 billion went to "embezzlement and kickbacks" for businessmen friends of Vladimir Putin. Nemtsov was later assassinated. Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 2016. Plagued by low ticket sales partly due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, the Rio games ended up costing $20 billion rather than the $13 billion backers claimed. The Olympics were hosted on the heels of the 2014 World Cup, which also cost a ton of loot, and the showplace Maracana stadium, which got a $500 million makeover, was "largely abandoned" soon after the games and had thousands of seats ripped out by vandals. Beijing, China, 2008. The Beijing Games cost $42 billion, a record at the time, even though Amnesty International charged that the Chinese government used forced labor to build many of the venues. The IOC didn't mind the stratospheric costs or crackdowns on dissent, though: It awarded Beijing the 2022 Winter Games. Montreal, Canada, 1976. The mayor of Montreal declared that the Olympics "can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby." Unfortunately, it took Montreal 30 years to pay off its debt just for the main stadium built for the 1976 Summer Games. If there's good news here, it's that cities seem to be wising up: Paris and Los Angeles were the only two cities to bid on the 2024 Olympic Games and IOC was so anxious that there wouldn't be enough applications for 2028, that it pre-emptively awarded it to LA. But just like with professional sports teams that extort tax dollars and subsidies for stadiums that never pay back their inflated costs, it's likely the Olympics will keep finding new suckers for one of the oldest scams in sports. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie, and based on an article by Ed Krayewski. Camera by Jim Epstein. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.[...]

NAFTA Must Include Gender Justice Among Goals, Says Canada

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:59:00 -0400

"Canada's idea of a fair trade deal seems very different from President Trump's," observed The New York Times on Monday. That's quite an understatement. Canada's idea seems very different from what most Americans think of when they hear "free trade" or "free markets." As Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland explained yesterday, the country wants to "modernize" the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include "progressive elements." As it stands, the 23-year-old trade treaty between Canada, Mexico, and the United States—enacted to eliminate barriers to open economic exchange, such as steep—already comes with conditions that go beyond reducing trade barriers. NAFTA lays down rules regarding the three countries' labor standards, agricultural sanitation measures, agricultural production practices, intellectual property rights, and other trade-adjacent issues. But as we head into NAFTA renegotiations this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his administration want to expand the rules to include sections on gender issues, climate change, and indigenous rights. Freeland said such changes would move NAFTA from a "free trade" deal to a "fair trade" one. While she didn't get into specifics, we can look to a recently renegotiated trade deal between Canada and Chile for guidance. The new pact includes a chapter "acknowledg[ing] the importance of applying gender perspective to economic and trade issues" and confirming "the intention of both parties to enforce their respective international agreements on gender from a rights perspective," according to a press release from the Canadian government. It also "provides a framework for Canada and Chile to cooperate on issues related to trade and gender, including women's entrepreneurship and the development of gender-focused indicators," and it "commits both sides to the creation of a trade and gender committee that will oversee cooperation and share experiences in designing programs to encourage women's participation in national and international economies." At best, it's a toothless public relations move that will only serve as a boon to bureaucrats. At worst, it's a dealbreaker for Donald Trump, who has already threatened to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA. And if that's the outcome, it's terrible news for the U.S. employment rate and for the economy overall. (Canada, meanwhile, has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if Trump insists on scrapping a dispute-settlement section of the deal.) Regardless of what ultimately comes to pass, Canada's plans highlight the creeping imposition of "social justice" goals into all facets of politics and economics. That's a troubling development, especially for supporters of small government, no matter how much one might supports those social aims more broadly. For a full list of Canada's recently-released NAFTA wants—including some proposals that really are related to freeing trade, such as a measure to kill "Buy American" rules for construction projects and a call to ease work visa requirements—see the Toronto Sun.[...]

Brickbat: Better Offer

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Adi Astl just wanted some stairs on a steep hill in Toronto's Tom Riley Park. City officials told him it would cost $65,000 to $150,000 to build stairs there. So he went in and built his own for $550. Officials then declared those stairs a hazard and tore them down. They now promise to build a set of stairs there, and they say it will only cost $10,000.

Amazon Prime vs. Government: The Private Sector Does It Better

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:00:00 -0400

In the U.S., Amazon Prime is just another convenience of modern life. But for many residents of Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory, it's a lifesaver. Nunavut is roughly the size of Western Europe, yet it has a population of only 37,462. Iqaluit, the territory's capital and largest city, has just 7,740 residents. Nunavut isn't connected to the nation's highway system, so fresh food must be flown in daily at a very high cost. Ships can move larger amounts of freight to the region, but only during the warmest months of the year, when ice does not block ports. Prices in local stores reflect this reality. A liter of Coke can cost CA$10, equivalent to $7.90 in the U.S. A pack of diapers can cost CA$70. But those willing to pay CA$80 a year for an Amazon Prime membership can find items for far cheaper than they would in local stores. That same pack of diapers, for instance, can be found at around half price. Some of Nunavut's smaller settlements are no longer eligible for Prime's free shipping because their remoteness makes shipping there unprofitable, but in larger settlements, such as Iqaluit, Prime is a welcome alternative to the highly expensive goods found in local shops. The Canadian government has for decades tried to mitigate high prices through subsidy schemes that cover "nutritious food" and basic necessities. The first scheme, called the Food Mail Program, subsidized Canada Post's shipping operations in northern regions. This was replaced a few years ago with Nutrition North, a program that directly funded certain retailers. Both programs have been criticized for their cost and inefficiency, yet many worry that without the subsidies, prices would be even more exorbitant. The region's unaffordability rests on decades of discriminatory policies and government regulations. The native Inuit people used to live a nomadic, subsistence lifestyle that was well-suited to the harsh environment. Since agricultural development wasn't possible, mobility was key to finding food. Over 60 years ago, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) began to kill off thousands of Inuit sled dogs under the guise of animal control, claiming that many of the dogs were diseased or dangerous. In 2010, an Inuit-led truth commission, while critical of the RCMP's actions, stopped short of saying that this was a deliberate effort to "urbanize" the Inuit by taking away their main mode of transportation. But that, nonetheless, was the effect. No longer able to maintain their nomadic lifestyles, those who lost their dogs became "dependent on welfare and store-bought food," according to the commission report. In places like Iqaluit, many residents feel a constant tension between the desires to preserve tradition and to forge a modern Inuit identity. Many of them did not ask to live in these planned communities, but now they must find a way to make it work. One way to make it work was the sealskin industry. Hunting seals has long been part of the Inuit way of life, but it took on renewed importance in the wake of the forced urbanization. The money made from sealskin helped offset the high cost of living in Nunavut and gave people the opportunity to continue their hunting traditions. Unfortunately, this economic boon was short-lived. Environmental activists successfully lobbied the U.S. and Europe to ban the sealskin trade, using disturbing imagery of hunting practices to rally the public behind their efforts. Some exemptions were enacted for the Inuit, but the bans decimated the industry. Unemployment, poverty, hunger, and high rates of suicide are now the norm in Nunavut. Perhaps this is why many residents are skeptical that Amazon Prime's free shipping will last forever. It just seems too good to be true. With all that's happened to indigenous communities in Canada and around the world, such pessimism is understandable. Government food subsidies have never [...]

Canada Claims Authority to Censor Your Internet Searches

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 16:15:00 -0400

The Canadian Supreme Court today ruled the country has the authority to demand Google censor and remove links to certain web pages or online content. The idea that governments can force Google to deindex links to pages is unfortunately not new (see the European Union's "right to be forgotten"). What matters internationally in this case is the government is forcing Google to remove links from searches regardless of where the Internet user is. That is to say: Canada is demanding the authority to censor the internet outside of its physical borders and control what people who are not Canadian citizens can find online. Today's court ruling declares that because the Internet doesn't have any borders, when Canada decides Google has to censor content it should be a global order: "The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates — globally." The case involves copyright and intellectual property claims. A tech firm was accusing another firm of stealing and duplicating one of its products and selling it online. Google was asked to deindex the links to the firm accused of stealing so that it wouldn't show up in search results. Google complied with court orders, but only for searches from within Canada. Canada's Supreme Court sees geographical limits (even virtual ones) on its ability to censor speech as "facilitating" illegal commerce rather than a speech issue. Here's a paragraph from the ruling that should give folks pause: This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods. Canada has hate speech laws. Does it follow that Canada should require Google to deindex pages containing what it deems "hate speech" in the United States? If Canada does not because it acknowledges limits to its reach as a nation is it "facilitating" something unlawful? The court notes Google removes links due to court orders based on content and still doesn't seem to see an issue in a country's boundary of authority: [Google] acknowledges, fairly, that it can, and often does, exactly what is being asked of it in this case, that is, alter search results. It does so to avoid generating links to child pornography and websites containing "hate speech". It also complies with notices it receives under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Pub. L. No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2680 (1998) to de-index content from its search results that allegedly infringes copyright, and removes websites that are subject to court orders. The court, in justifying its ruling, is unwittingly bringing up problems with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is intended as a tool for fight online piracy and intellectual property theft by making it easier to remove copyrighted material through an ownership claim process. It is also prone to abuse. People abuse the DMCA's "take down" process in order to try to censor speech, critiques or commentary, they find objectionable. It can be as minor as trying to censor critical video game reviews, or extend as far as criticizing another country's leaders. Ecuadorian officials once attempted to use the DMCA to censor criticism of government actions. Google itself has stepped in to try to help users fend off abusive DMCA take-down requests. Invoking other forms of legally recognized internet censorship is not, perhaps, the defense Canada's Supreme Court is looking for. A closer examination highlights the potential for abuses. And claiming the authority to censor Google links everywhere in the world is a decision begging to be abused. Read the cou[...]

Cory Doctorow on Cyber Warfare, Lawbreaking, and His New Novel 'Walkaway'

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:37:00 -0400

Cory Doctorow, author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Little Brother, and Makers, is a three-time Prometheus Award winner, an honor bestowed on the best works of libertarian science fiction. In his most recent book, Walkaway, the super rich engineer their own immortality, while everyone else walks away from the post-scarcity utopia to rebuild the dead cities they left behind. Reason Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward spoke with Doctorow about cyber warfare, Uber-style reputation economics, and that most overused and poorly understood of sci-fi themes: dystopia. Edited by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Mark McDaniel and Krainin. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Katherine Mangu-Ward: Do you think that the underlying conditions of free speech as it is associated with dubious technologies, are they getting better or worse? Cory Doctorow: There is the—there is a pure free speech argument and there's a scientific argument that just says you know it's not science if it's not published. You have to let people who disagree with you—and who dislike you—read your work and find the dumb mistakes you've made and call you an idiot for having made them otherwise you just end up hitting yourself and then you know your h-bomb blows up in your face, right? And atomic knowledge was the first category of knowledge that scientists weren't allowed to freely talk about—as opposed to like trade secrets—but, like, scientific knowledge. That knowing it was a crime. And so it's the kind of original sin of science. But there's a difference between an atomic secret and a framework for keeping that a secret and a secret about a vulnerability in a computer system. And they're often lumped together. I was on a family holiday. We were on like a scuba resort in the Caribbean, in a little island called Roatan in Honduras. And there was this family of D.C.-area spooks. Like multigenerational. And Grandpa what had been like with USAID when the tanks rolled on Hungary and in Budapest. And all of the kids worked for undisclosed three-letter agencies. And so we're like sitting in in the pool one day and talking about cyberweapons and cyberwar. Katherine Mangu-Ward: Like you do. On vacation. Cory Doctorow: On vacation. That's what I do. That's my idea of a good time. So the guy said like, "Well what about cyber weapons? Like why shouldn't we develop cyberweapons? Why shouldn't we a cyberwar?" And I said, "There's a difference between a secret bomb and a secret vulnerability in a computer operating system." Because if I invent the h-bomb, it may be unwise. But keeping the physics of the h-bomb a secret does not make Americans more vulnerable to atomic attack than disclosing it. Maybe it would help them at the margins build slightly better bomb shelters. But it's really—it's not the same thing as me discovering a vulnerability in Windows and saying, "It would be great if I could attack former Soviet bloc countries or countries in Middle East or jihadis or drug runners by keeping this vulnerability a secret and assuming that nobody else discovers that vulnerability and uses it to attack the people I'm charged to protect." That mistake calls into question the whole scientific enterprise. Because we really only know one way to make computers secure and that is to publish what we think we know about why they're secure now and see what dumb mistakes our enemies and friends can locate and help us remediate. And so you end up in this place where these vulnerabilities—that you are blithely assuming won't be independently rediscovered by your adversaries and exploited against you and yours—end up getting exploited against you and yours. And not just by state[...]

Brickbat: Fascinating

Wed, 03 May 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) In Winnipeg, Nick Troller has had a personalized license plate on his vehicle that reads "ASIMIL8" for the past two years. Around it he has a frame that says "We Are the Borg" and "Resistance is Futile." But now, Manitoba Public Insurance has demanded he return the license plate. It says two people have complained the word "assimilate" is offensive to indigenous people.

Trump Targets NAFTA, But Will an 'Update' Just Be an Excuse for More Government Meddling?

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:45:00 -0400

(image) President Trump's push on trade and NAFTA this week appears more motivated by the symbolic 100 day mark emphasized by Trump and the media than any coherent approach to trade neogtiations.

The Trump administration followed up the imposition of a 20 percent tariff on Canadian lumber—a long-standing stalking horse for the timber industry—earlier this week by floating the idea that the U.S. would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which liberalized trade between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Shortly after, the White House announced that in phone calls with Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Trump "agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time" and that the two leaders " agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries."

As Republicans alarmed by the prospect of a NAFTA withdrawal speculated yesterday, the threat was a "negotiating tactic" to bring Mexico and Canada to the table or otherwise extract a better deal. Yet there's little indication either Mexico or Canada needed such a push for new negotiations. The election of Trump, who campaigned on a protectionist platform that was one of a few principles he's held on to consistently for decades, sufficed.

The perception of bringing Mexico and Canada to the negotiating table over NAFTA can be chalked up as a victory, but it doesn't contribute to any clarity on what might happen next. Trump has not articulated what kind of "improvements" he wants to negotiate. His trade views are mostly based on the idea that foreign competition is bad, and that returning Americans to factory jobs would make America great again. The whole thing could just more noise signifying nothing, a tactic explained in the Art of the Deal.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told senators the administration was interested in "updating" NAFTA, not not withdraw from it, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told Politico. Given the prevailing anti-trade mood in Washington, it's doubtful that such an update would involve reducing government interventions instead of increasing them.

The troubling migration of anti-trade rhetoric from left to right is nevertheless unsurprising. It's easier to convince people their problems are caused by foreigners than by their own government's policies, and more politically beneficial for those deploying such rhetoric in a quest for public office, especially when politicians who understand that free trade benefits everyone are unwilling or unable to articulate it effectively.

Related: Have Republicans Turned Against Trade? We Asked Them.

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Trump's Lumber Tariff Shows He is a Depressing Continuation of the Status Quo

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:20:00 -0400

The Trump Administration announced yesterday that it would be slapping tariffs averaging 20 percent on soft-wood lumber coming from Canada (they're not sending us their best trees you know), marking the first substantive protectionist action taken by the Administration. The dispute over Canadian lumber exports to the US is a long simmering one between the two NAFTA partners. But to read some media accounts of the event, one would think this was a unique triumph of Trumpain aggression. The news aggregator Axios described the move as a "big win for Steve Bannon." The Huffington Post, while saying the tariff was expected, still managed to find itself shocked at "the enthusiasm with which the new American administration flung itself into the lumber hostilities." Even the New York Times ran with a headline describing the lumber dispute as a "new trade front." In fact, cheap Canadian lumber is one of the oldest boogeyman in the US timber industry, right up there with the fiendish agropelter. As such it makes more sense to view this latest action by Trump as another case of the president being a depressing continuation of the status quo, as opposed to a nightmarish departure from it. As far back as the 1980's US timber interests have been raising their old saw about stumpage fees charged to Canadian loggers. In Canada, most logging is done by private companies on public land, for which they must pay a "stumpage fee" to the government. The US timber industry's claim has always been that these stumpage fees are artificially low, and as such amount to an unjust subsidy to Canadian lumber. The first investigation of these fees by the US Commerce Department in 1983 found that they did not amount to an unjust subsidy, temporarily thwarting the US lumber industries plan to impose countervailing duties on their northern competition. But following a toxic combination of a more aggressive Commerce Department and a better funded, better organized industry effort, the US government started to see things a different way. In 1986, the Commerce Department reversed itself and sought to levy a 15 percent tariff on Canadian wood. That decision 1986 action has since set off some three decades of US tariffs, Canadian protest, and international arbitration before both NAFTA and WTO courts, who have mostly sided with the Canadians. Full-blown trade war has generally been avoided through bi-lateral agreements that see the Canadians voluntarily reduce their exports in exchange for the US lumber industry agreeing to not pursue countervailing tariffs. However, these bi-lateral agreements have always been temporary band-aids on this long simmering trade dispute, and their expirations has seen the reapplication of US tariffs in both 1992 and 2001. The latest of these bi-lateral agreements expired back in October 2016. In June 2016, President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a joint statement saying that they were committed to finding a "durable and equitable solution" on the issue of lumber imports, but despite the two's supposed bromance, no deal was forthcoming. Thus when the US-Canada deal did expire in October, the US Lumber Coalition fulfilled its historic role of filling a countervailing duty claim with the US Department of Commerce. And now the Trump administration is sticking closely with historical precedent and siding with US lumber. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a short statement yesterday saying that his department had found it necessary to levy some $1 billion in import duties on Canadian lumber, adding that "his is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement." Also true to form is the Canadian response, in which their Ministers of Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs have promi[...]

New Bill Will Make Canada the Second Country to Legalize Marijuana

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 10:01:00 -0400

(image) Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kept a campaign promise by introducing a bill that will make Canada the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The government expects legal sales to begin by the middle of next year.

Trudeau's bill, which will be managed by Liberal M.P. Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, closely tracks the recommendations of a government-appointed task force that delivered its report in December. The national government, which already licenses more than 40 producers of medical marijuana, will regulate cannabis growers, while provincial governments will decide the details of distribution. Advertising and marketing will be stricly regulated at the national level, as with tobacco.

Trudeau's bill sets a minimum purchase age of 18, but provincial governments can set a higher age if they choose. Every U.S. state with legal marijuana has picked 21 as the cutoff, tracking the drinking age, which in Canada is 18 or 19, depending on the province. Adults, however defined, will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams (about an ounce) at a time and grow up to four plants per household.

"The production of cannabis outside the regulated regime remains a serious criminal offense," Blair said yesterday. "Trafficking of cannabis outside the regulated distribution system...will remain a serious criminal offense. And this legislation...creates a new offense, a very serious offense, with a penalty of up to 14 years, for trafficking cannabis to a youth." Blair argued that a legal distribution system in which retailers are held accountable for verifying that their customers are adults will be more successful than the current policy of uniform prohibition at preventing sales to minors. "Today the decision to sell or not to sell to that child is often being made by a gangster in a stairwell," he observed.

National legislation allowing nonmedical use of cannabis seems to conflict with anti-drug treaties, which demand strict regulation of marijuana. "These conventions require that parties employ criminal sanctions for the possession, distribution, and consumption of non-medical cannabis," notes a new report from the Global Health Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. "In the current Canadian context, legalizing cannabis would violate these conventions." The report argues that legalization in Canada could qualify for a "scientific purposes" exemption from treaty obligations if it is framed as a scientific experiment.

Brickbat: Shame on Your Name

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Nova Scotia's Registrar of Motor Vehicles says Lorne Grabher's last name is "socially unacceptable." Lorne had a personalized license plate made with his last name for his father back in 1991. Since then, the plate has been used by three generations of the family. But the registrar's office say they got a complaint about it last year and have told Lorne he can no longer use it.