Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Illogical Cannabis Pricing in Ontario

#Cannabis #Marijuana #Recreational #Pot #illicit 

The Government has come out with suggestive pricing for next year’s recreational Cannabis and it’s a choking display of idiocy to say the least.  Had there been a question on their legalization questionnaire about price, they might know that $10 a gram is basically full price in a market sector where the price scale has always been fluid.

By fluid I mean that almost all recreational Cannabis sold in Canada is priced to encourage you to buy more.  On most city streets the price starts at $10 per gram and that price goes down the more you buy.  My prediction is that the producers supplying the CCBO with the Cannabis will only offer it in the increments currently offered and thus will have a 5 gram minimum.  

In my area of Canada an ounce of good quality Cannabis costs $200.  This is the quantity most consistent users purchase and it works out to $7.15 per gram.  In one foul swoop the CCBO just priced themselves out of a large portion of their clientele.

Pricing a product above market value is not only shortsighted but in this case, it’s going to feed into an already existing marketplace of better priced product sold in smaller increments.  If you only have $10, you likely aren’t going to be able to buy legal Cannabis from the CCBO so there goes another large portion of their clientele.

In fact, where price is concerned the CCBO is sounding more like the Cannabis Boutique you’ll go to when you want to try something new or when you want to buy the perfect gag gift for that friend you’ve been saying should really smoke a doob!  But for the bread n’ butter pot smoker, for the cancer-sufferer making Phoenix Tears, or for the rest of the hard-working Canadians simply trying to catch an affordable buzz, there’s a good chance they’ll pass the CCBO and just meet buddy after work the way they do now.  My buddy used to deliver!    

Every great regulatory program begins with a first bill.  This is it and it will evolve but this display of utter ignorance to the reality in Canada is a bit of a buzz-kill to be honest.  I really thought they were listening.  I guess we’ll need to yell louder!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Grand Profitability of Cannabis

There's a woman in my city who is allegedly scripted forty-five grams of Cannabis a day.  Now, if this patient were fighting a serious ailment like Cancer and had to do so in a short period of time, I'd commend the Doctor who wrote it.  But it's not one script it's likely twelve to fifteen different scripts from that many different Doctors of eight to twelve grams each.  This is pretty easy to do actually, especially if you don't mind traveling or paying a few hundred bucks for one.  In Canada, the legal program is breaking new ground and saving lives and yet, there is absolutely no oversight from anyone of importance.

Licensed producers have been given free rein in so many ways.  Differing prices, different gram equivalencies, different carrier oils, different marketing swag, sign-up bonuses and welcome packages.  The gifts given upon registration to buy from one of Canada's licensed dealers is starting to feel like a toy in a happy meal.  The happiest meal you ever got!

Let me remind you, this is healthcare.  As a patient you can choose from now 44 different makers of your medicine.  None of it is paid for.  Some of it is discounted.  You can choose to pay $6 a gram or you can choose to pay $17.50 a gram.  Does price mean superior medicine?  And in that case, does financial disparity mean I must satisfy my need with medicine of lesser quality and efficacy?

Remember this is healthcare?

I don't even understand why they're given such freedom to decide such vital aspects of a medicine. It's as though Health Canada thought that passing the initial approval process was some indication that they were ready to provide medicine to all of Canada on a consistent basis with best practices and ethical standards.  Could any of them grow a cactus?  These corporations basically have a captive audience too.  They are fishing in a barrel as they say.  A barrel that coincidentally keeps getting smaller as more and more dispensaries are raided. Seniors are scraping by just so they can try a Cannabis oil that's mandated to be less than 3% active ingredient per milliliter.  From a business standpoint, these corporations should have to pay higher taxes because the customers are basically gifted to them by this outdated federal law.

And yet still every day new patients wait by the phone hoping to be booked for an assessment.  The appointment a new patient should have could be taken up by someone like the woman I mentioned above and no one would be the wiser.  At what point would OHIP start questioning numerous visits to legalizing clinics?  Is it like credit where your rating falters the more attempts to get legal you make?

The average monthly prescription is one gram per day for new users and depending on which producer you buy from and which ingestion method you choose, you could be looking at a range of about $150 - $525 per month for dried bud and about $175-$750 per month for oil.  So much profit on the prescription.  It's so counter to what the plant is really about.

The ACMPR is a beautifully crafted cyclically profitable entity that by now is helping to build revenue for businesses big, small, new, and old.  From greenhouse to packaging to shipping to swag this new program is a business dream.  So many players profiting from medicine.  So many patients now hooked on good health!

Hooked ... like fish in a barrel.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

BEER HERE but Please Drink Responsibly!!

I work in an office building sandwiched between the beer store and the liquor store.  I start at 10 am and so almost everyday I say good morning to the man sitting on his walker guzzling the largest can of beer he could buy.  I see the same people walking into the beer store with their empties and walking out again with them full.  I watch as pedestrians walk under the building I sit in, to drink the cans they buy next door.  Last week I watched as a father and son bonded while loading cases of empties into the cart to take in for the refund.  Working and living in this area positions me to see the desperation that exists around alcohol and my fellow Canadians.  The number of individuals I've passed counting change to use for booze is now too great to remember.  Sadly it's becoming normal for me to walk past this on my walk to and from work.

Whether due to brain receptors, societal conditioning, or merely due to its effects, alcohol is one of our most popular recreational substances.  Unfortunately though, alcohol is poison and if you were to take a cotton swab drenched in vodka and rub it on your neck every day for mere weeks, you'd feel what I mean.  Alcohol burns the uppermost layer of your skin upon contact.  Imagine what it's doing to our insides.

And I'm no prude nor am I sober.  In fact, about two weeks ago my work stress was elevated so I bought myself some vodka.  I've been having a little nip almost every night since then.  It dulls the thoughts and now, fourteen days later I almost crave a drink by the time I clock out of work.  Another thing I've noticed is that my tolerance is rising very quickly whereby two wee drinky-poos used to do it for me, I now need three.  Will I need four next week?  Is this the beginning of something for me? Am I drinking responsibly!?

Upon walking home today from downtown, I found myself choked by the rising number of points of sale for alcohol on the main drag.  More wine stores OPEN LATE!  More bars, more craft breweries with whopping alcohol percentages that should really come with a warning.  I often wonder if tending bar at a craft brewery requires different training since the beer you're serving can oftentimes boast twice as much alcohol as other beers.

But let's protect the children.  Oh the children and their growing minds!  I'll never understand how big Tobacco can sit back after having so many marketing restrictions placed on their poison to watch big Alcohol be allowed to sell and thus advertise WHERE THE KIDS ARE!  Have you checked out the beer aisle at Lobl@ws lately?  That is some clear and fog-resistant glass eh?  Sheesh, if only the frozen vegetable aisle could have the same expensive displays!  I wonder how many empty beer cans the staff of these grocery stores find.  I wonder how many school kids can be heard talking about sampling Dad's beer.

Why are we allowing select grocery stores to advertise that they sell BEER HERE?!  Does it matter that a fresh study published last week in JAMA Psychiatry concluded that the drinking habits in the U.S. amount to a public health crisis?  As for Canada, according to this report from 2015, Alcohol is the top risk factor for disease among Canadians aged 15 to 49.  So we're making it more accessible?
Last month Apple Ciders were added to the shelves of those select grocery stores in Ontario because popularity demands it.  We know that stress increases consumption, so as life gets stressful Canadians get thirsty.

Of course, in many ways it's fine that they market to us, warn us of the dangers, and allow us to decide.  But for me, reading "Please Drink Responsibly" signs affixed beside the Caramel-flavoured vodka feel somewhat disingenuous.  Honestly, the Cream Soda bevvie I tried last week was made so that I couldn't even taste the 5% alcohol it contained.  A kid could guzzle a dozen of those in no time.

Like I said above, I'm no prohibitionist but I am wise to the powers of many drugs, especially alcohol. It seems to many that Canada is dragging its feet on legalizing Cannabis, the safer option to alcohol. They're still not sure if we too can have Cannabis stores that are allowed to be OPEN LATE like the wine stores are with signs that say CANNABIS HERE!  Like alcohol, they could  warn us of the dangers, but allow growers to market to us and let us decide about Cannabis too.

In 2017 with a balanced Parliament, we should surely see the dangerous hypocrisy here.  As an aunt of a 14 year old, how recreational substances are marketed to my niece is of concern to me.  Rampant marketing, rising alcohol levels, and better access is not good for Canadian society and yet regulation for booze is getting more lax.  It's high-time we were real about Cannabis too.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Monetization of Cannabis in Canada

***this post was published here on Cannabis Life Network.

Canada has a single-payer healthcare system yet every step of getting legal to use medicinal Cannabis is monetized in some way.  From the first step of referral to the last click of purchase, you'll pay in some way.

If you get a written diagnosis from your Doctor, you'll likely have to pay for it.  If you want to buy a copy of your file, you'll pay for that too.  That one stings more since the bigger the file, the bigger the fee and you have no control over how many notes your Doctor made in said file.

If you go to some legalizing clinics in any Canadian city you'll pay to be assessed by a Doctor.  My buddy just paid $139 to Medi-Green simply to be added to the client roster.  When the clinic registers him to a licensed producer, they'll likely get some kick-back to say thanks.

If you wanted to use your medicine safely by vaporizing, your Doctor can write a letter of recommendation asking for health insurances to cover the cost, and you'll likely pay for that letter.

Once you've jumped through the hoops to be legal you'll begin paying to pay for your medicine. You can pay by credit, debit, or e-transfer --none of which is free!  You'll pay for it to be delivered and you'll pay tax on it too.

Canada has a single-payer healthcare system but you wouldn't know it.

And I'm sure if you asked our brave and balanced Parliament how the legal medical Cannabis program was doing, they'd say it was a great success.  But I ask you, how can it be a success when our own Health Ministry doesn't recognize it as medicine?

Many people believe that the medical program is nothing but a Trojan Horse for recreational.  As someone who believes all use is medicinal, I sit on the fence with this one but as I see producers, financial gurus, and dabblers in the stock market drooling at the potential money to be made, I can definitely see their point.

I mean, let's be real for a moment here:  Snoop isn't medicinal nor are the Trailer Park Boys.  Yet they are now the faces of two common producers of this medicine.  Can you imagine if Merck used a celebrity to market for them?  Wait, I guess they do but it's done as though the celebrity is a patient successfully being treated with that medication.  As much as Bubbles could Ricky could likely use a daily shot of CBD, it's never been implied that they are medical patients.

But of course we're all to believe that Health Canada's "no marketing" rules surrounding all of the legal producers is being followed and respected.  I made notes for this article with a pen from CannTrust and my breath and lips are currently smooth and fresh thanks to mints and chap stick from Emblem.  So the swag from the LIFT convention isn't marketing?  Right.

What they don't see is that the simple fact that these producers get to price their medicine however they wish, is clearly marketing.  Bedrocan's $5 grams was a brilliant marketing achievement as is MedReleaf's 'Rex' at $17.50 per gram.  Both price schemes play into different mindsets to profit an industry pretending to be medical until recreational begins.

Oh my bum gets sore from sitting on this fence.  I'm so happy to be a part of this program and for me, getting legal was an antidepressant in itself.  But we have to stop pretending that things are going well.  Patients can't afford this medicine yet nobody in a position of change knows this.  Or maybe they don't care.

It's the micro view vs the macro view.  How can you govern unless you see both?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The DIN: A Dangerous Safety Net

***This article was published here on Cannabis Life Network.

I work at a Cannabis Clinic that follows all of the rules.  Our Doctors get paid through OHIP to assess patients only after copious amounts of supporting documents are received.  Heck, sometimes I think we ask for more just to ask for more!

This is because our Doctors are also overly scrutinized by the CPSO.  Capping THC and limiting grams per day keeps them on their toes and ever aware that they're risking their license to help strangers use a plant.

A friend has been going through a stressful time at work.  Depression is ever close at hand in times like these so he went to his Doctor for help.  His Doctor couldn't see him so another stepped in. She gave him Clonazepam for immediate effect.

Immediate effect or immediate addiction?

What's more curious is this friend hadn't been to the Doctor this one replaced in 25 years.  There was no relevant medical history, no supporting documents to prove diagnosis or need for medication at all and she gave him one of the most addictive, sedative, and damaging meds created.  Zombie-pills.

If this guy came to my Cannabis Clinic, he would never have been booked for an assessment.  We'd make a file for him and we'd send requests for information to his Doctor, but no visits means no treatment notes, no medical history at all.  To be prescribed medical Cannabis you need relevant medical history and a clear diagnosis even though by toxicity it's safer than water.

What's the difference between Clonazepam and Cannabis?  A drug identification number or DIN.

The DIN is the medical industry's way of identifying drugs.  To get a DIN, the drug has to go through rigorous testing and studies so that its effects, side effects, and contraindications are known.  So knowing how addictive it is didn't deter this Doctor from prescribing it to my friend?  Why is that? Because with that DIN all she has to say is that the patient needed an anxiolytic.  The DIN protects the Doctor and the Pharmacist goes over risks and contraindications.  Easy-peasy.

The DIN is a dangerous safety net that allows too many of us to be harmed and addicted to meds that do no good.

Cannabis on the other hand doesn't have a DIN and if you talk to most Doctors outside of the Cannabis industry, they'll tell you there are no studies.  Absolute nonsense.  Humanity has been doing a Cannabis study for the past 5000 years.  And guess what?  By toxicity, Cannabis is the safest medication known to man.

Then why the fiery hoops?  Why do the Cannabis-curious have to prove diagnosis, list past meds, and give a urine sample to be given permission to try this uber safe plant while my friend got a highly addictive benzodiazepine that is incredibly difficult to withdraw from?

When you're stressed and on the verge of the dark hole of depression, you're like a hungry Sunfish biting at any therapy thrown at you.  Who questions the white-coats?  We do every single day through search engines and family friends, online forums and support groups.  As a member of this pack I feel that we are obligated to warn our fellow human about medications like this, and share the good news about Cannabis.

Lastly, only we can change Canada and these archaic prescribing mindsets.  When Cannabis was mentioned my friend says the Doctor acted like she didn't hear him.  She could have prescribed him Cannabis and capped his THC at 10% recommending high CBD and 1:1 strains only.  But the evil you know is better than ... a plant that has never killed anyone I guess and it's because of that stupid DIN.

Write your MP and your MPP and demand respect, research, and better access for Cannabis-curious Canadians.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Boots & Hearts with a Side of Cannabis?

Last weekend my bff Julie texted me by surprise saying that the song she had just listened to, made her think of me.  It was “Little Bones” by The Tragically Hip.  They’re our band, always have been. Heck, at age 18 Julie and I tried to sell fine art and gift ware listening to “Highway Girl” from their debut album, until the boss found out.  We’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ to the tunes of the Tragically Hip for as long as I can remember.

I grew up playing air guitar on the handlebars of my bike listening to lyrics that pulled at my heartstrings with their Canadian flavour.  I learned about my country through their lyrics province by province.  Early years of guitar riffs that played to my anger at our ineffective “Trickle Down” system;  then soon after riffs that played soft like the sway of Wheat Kings".  Leaf lovers, those living where the great plains begin, communities like Bobcaygeon, The Hip put these places on the map.  We thank them for it.

A little over a year ago, time stopped for many as the news told us about lead singer Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis.  I immediately tweeted for him to research whole plant Cannabis oil.  I know my friends did too.  I wonder now if those messages and the obvious outpouring of support for the use of this safe plant in his treatment, pushed the Hip to make this most recent announcement.

The Tragically Hip are partnering with Newstrike, a soon to be public producer of Medicinal Cannabis.  I work at Canadian Cannabis Clinics counselling new patients on the safe use of this plant in the same city that half of the band still live, so I feel a newfound connection to them.  These are individuals that anchor pride in the hearts of thousands of Canadians living in Kingston and the surrounding area.  I can’t help but feel hopeful that this venture will further breakdown the stigmatic barriers that keep locals from coming to our clinic for help.

As last summer’s farewell concert proved, these guys are more than they think they are.  Humans all over the planet watched and wept and wailed like we were locked in the trunk of a car.  Kingston rocked that night.  The Prime Minister ate somebody’s poutine in front of Sir John’s A’s Pub!  Gord put him on the spot for our Indigenous people too.  Rob’s glossy hair swayed, Johnny pounded with purpose on the drums, Paul and Gord grinding out the guitar chords that every hand in the place played in time.  The night the Hip said goodbye, may have been the most poignant and endearing act they ever played, further solidifying them as true representation of great Canadian talent.

The future is green and Cannabis is at every angle you look.  It’s nice to see involvement with people that hold the same core values as many of us, however varied they be.  Cannabis is about health and with The Tragically Hip partnering with Newstrike, we know we’ll be hearing more from them. That’s something for Canada to look forward to.

Welcome to the industry guys!  Reach out anytime!!

Raise the Wage to $15, Raise the Quality of Life!

Perfect example for the need for the minimum wage raise:

A friend of a friend of a friend just posted about a friend needing
to rent an apartment in the range of $700-$800 a month.

Let's say you make minimum wage and you're lucky
enough to work 40 hours per week.

$11.40 x 160 hrs/mo = $1824

less 20% income tax = $1460 net income per month

$1460 - $800 rent = $660 left

If you were to go to get credit they would calculate your
total debt service ratio.

With $800 rent and only rent, your TDSR is 44%

No credit for you!
No progress for you!
No car for you, no trips for you, no hotel stays for you!
No purchase between paychecks, no extras, no booze,
no chippies, no dime bags, nothing.

If you made more you could spend more.

But you can't even get credit so you simply can't spend more.

Dear business owners, we can't wait to spend more when
we make more.

Doesn't this excite you??

It really should excite you.