The Bis Weekly News Update – May 5 to 11

Welcome to May, everyone!

Weather (get it?) you’re on the east coast, the west, or somewhere in the middle, we can all agree that it’s better now that we’re past our April showers and can smell the sprouting buds.

Cannabis isn’t taking a spring break though and neither are we here at The ‘Bis. This week the first Tokyo Smoke opened in Toronto, RCMP have withdrawn a release on a dispensary bust in Halifax, and more. It’s the The Bis Weekly News Update for April 5 to May 11.

Tokyo Smoke’s huge new cannabis store opens in Toronto

Photo: Peter Nolan-Smith

The former location of the HMV flagship store is taking customers again. While the new tenants aren’t selling any records, those leaving may want to put some on once they get their purchase home.

Toronto-founded cannabis retailer, Tokyo Smoke, is opening its doors at 333 Yonge Street, May 6.

There’s a grand opening event going on today as well, as any customer (with proper ID) can stop by for light refreshments and browse a reported 104 strains available for purchase.

Entrepreneur and winner of one of the city’s five cannabis licences, Colin Campbell, partnered the brand to open a location in the old record shop near the corner of Yonge and Dundas.

Tokyo Smoke began as part of the city’s cannabis scene in 2015 as a coffee shop owned by Alan and Lorne Gertner. Since legalization, the store’s parent company HIKU Brands, has been purchased by Canopy Growth, the country’s largest cannabis producer by market cap, and runs four licensed dispensaries in Manitoba and two cafe locations in Toronto.

Halifax RCMP walk back statement calling cannabis edible potentially fatal to children

Photo: RCMP

RCMP have re-issued a press release on a recent raid of an unlicensed dispensary in Halifax, after the original notice contained “references and opinions” beyond their capacity to make.

According to police, during the early morning of May 6, RCMP’s Halifax division executed a search warrant at a cannabis storefront at 1920 St Margaret’s Bay Rd. in Timberlea, Nova Scotia. This is listed as the location of the Timberleaf Alternative Healing Society.

The release says that the branding of the business as a medical dispensary as a “marketing ploy.” Calling the assertion that they only sell to medical patients a “lie and they will sell to anybody.”

Police wrote in the original release that over $60,000 of cannabis and related products were seized and some, specifically Lego-shaped cannabis gummys, were being marketed to children. Police say the gummy is listed as containing 500 mg of THC and could be a “fatal dose for a child.”

Other claims in the release include the that the business has made almost $1-million since the beginning of 2019, while spending only $50,000 in expenses; that unregulated cannabis and accessories are subject to no quality control and potentially contain harmful and toxic solvents; and that residents living on properties near unlicenced dispensaries are at “risk of firebombings, robberies, and the many crimes that often go along with illegal cannabis sales.”

The updated release is significantly shorter.

It makes no mention of the dangers of unregulated sales, estimations of monetary benefit for the store’s ownership, nor marketing and potentially lethal impacts on children.

The assertion that the dosage is potentially fatal was picked up by CBC, and run in the headline of a now amended story. However, the claim of potentially fatal doses of cannabis is one that even Health Canada and the United State’s Drug Enforcement Agency have published reports refuting.

“We had issued a news release early in the morning yesterday, regarding a search warrant and seizure of cannabis storefront in Timberlea,” Cpl. Lisa Croteau, the RCMP’s Halifax Public Information Officer, wrote in the updated release. “The release included reference and opinions that were outside the scope of Nova Scotia RCMP to comment on.”

One Colorado city just voted to decriminalize magic mushrooms

Photo by Søren Astrup Jørgensen on Unsplash

The residents of Denver, Colorado voted this week to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.

The vote in the US city was so close that yesterday, May 8, numerous news outlets following the election predicted that the initiative would fail. As late ballots were counted, the margins thinned and the totals rounded out to 89,320 votes for decriminalization to 87,341 against.

In the months leading up to the city’s local election, advocates were able to obtain the legally-required amount of signatures to add what would come to be called initiative 301 (I-301) to the ballot.

Psilocybin mushrooms is a broad term that applies to a number of species of mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogenic chemical. They have been used in medical and traditional ceremonies for thousands of years, but more recently in experimental forms of therapy and by recreational users.

According to documents Committee for the Denver Psilocybin Initiative (DPI), the proposal on the ballot read as follows:

Shall the Voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance to the Denver Revised Municipal Code that would make the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority, prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older, and establish the psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance?

“Instead of punishing those convicted of possession with criminal offences, police will deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible, imposition of criminal penalties on persons 21 years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms,” reads a detailed breakdown by the DPI on I-301.

The organization also notes that psilocybin is considered to be one of the least dangerous drugs, has been used successfully in the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses, and is non-addictive.

The Drug Policy Alliance notes that in nearly all cases, psilocybin mushrooms are listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, “making it illegal to cultivate or possess psilocybin producing mushrooms for either personal consumption or distribution,” in the United States.

The Denver vote will have no impact on federal and state laws within Colorado.

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