Lobby Organisation Hopes to Promote “Intelligent Legalisation” in Luxembourg

According to the government’s coalition agreement, the legalization of recreational cannabis is due to occur within the next five years.

The Consumer Choice Center is a US lobbying body which lobbies the freedoms, rights, and interests of consumers. In its own words, the organization “empowers consumers to promote science, choice, and freedom in the marketplace.”

The organisation has decided to present its measures and experiences of an “intelligent legalisation of cannabis” to the Grand Duchy. Deputy director Yaël Ossowski highlighted that cannabis consumers especially appreciate new innovations and an intelligent legalisation.

The CCC’s Canadian representatives wanted to demonstrate the Canadian model to Luxembourgish authorities. As a result, they are visiting the Grand Duchy over three days to show the Canadian perspectives, rationale, and experiences of legalization through press conferences and meetings. The representatives are meeting the LSAP and the trade union confederation the LCGB to spread their ideas in the hopes that the government will orientate its path around their findings.

However, Minister of Justice Felix Braz and Minister of Health Etienne Schneider, whose ministries are charged with legalization, are not participating in the meetings.

Read more here

About CCC

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) empowers consumers to raise their voice in media, the Internet, and on the streets and facilitates activism towards a more empowered consumer. Learning from the successes of its parent organization, Students For Liberty, the CCC will bring the struggle for consumer freedom to the next level.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We monitor closely regulatory trends in Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice.

Are excise taxes killing Canada’s cannabis market?

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

Much has been said about Canada’s roll-out of legal cannabis. The system thus far has been riddled with hiccups, supply shortages, prohibition-style penalties and significant limitations on consumer access. All of that aside, one of the most glaring issues with Canada’s cannabis framework is the way in which it is taxed, specifically, the excise taxes that are applied to medical and recreational cannabis.

Currently, both have a 10-per-cent excise tax, or $1 a gram, whichever is higher. The first major problem with the tax amount is that it is applied to medical cannabis, meaning patients are paying sin taxes on their prescribed medicine. Deliberately making medicine more expensive is disastrous public policy and categorically unfair.

On the recreational side, the excise tax has the immediate effect of inflating the price of legal cannabis. For recreational consumers, legal cannabis has federal and provincial sales taxes (upward of 15 per cent in some provinces), the 10-per-cent excise tax and local boutique taxes such as Manitoba’s 6-per-cent social responsibility tax. It becomes increasingly harder for the legal market to crowd out the black market when consumers in some provinces face a tax rate of 29 per cent. To achieve the goal of beating the black market, the legal market has to be able to compete with black market prices. Adding 29 per cent to a consumer’s bill certainly isn’t going to help in that regard.

The Trudeau government’s most recent budget did address the issue of cannabis excise taxes. Unfortunately, it didn’t reduce the excise tax on recreational cannabis, or remove it from medical cannabis. Instead, it announced that edible cannabis will be taxed based on its THC potency, at a rate of $0.01 per milligram of total THC in the product. This is yet another blow for medical patients. New research on cancer patients who use cannabis shows that they prefer oils and extracts, as opposed to dried cannabis, and that the most effective for relief are products with high THC potency. The new taxation for edibles, extracts and oils directly targets these patients, and makes their preferred form of medicine more expensive. Medical cannabis shouldn’t be taxed, but if it is, it certainly shouldn’t be taxed for potency.

In addition to the effect the excise tax has on recreational affordability and medical treatment, the system also causes logistical problems. As noted from a variety of licensed producers, the excise tax sticker process has led to numerous headaches. Producers have reported that some excise stickers weren’t adhesive, while others noted that sizing wasn’t appropriate. In addition, the simple process of automating the stamping of products has been complicated. U.S. companies that make the machinery to automate the process have been reluctant to sell to Canadian companies because they fear their own governments will reprimand them for entering the cannabis market. These issues inflate costs, which are then shouldered by consumers and patients, and limit access.

Excise tax stickers are certainly a pain for licensed producers, but a much larger and significant problem is how the stickers are administered, and the consequences on legal sale. The producers pay excise tax when the products they package are delivered to the point of sale (a licensed retailer). From that point on, the product bears the excise tax stamp of whatever province the retailer is in, and cannot be sold in other provinces. This means the legal recreational market will continue to struggle with fluctuations in demand, because once a product is available in one province, it can’t be sold anywhere else.

For example, if the government retailer in Nova Scotia wanted to buy excess product from the Ontario Cannabis Store to help meet consumer demand, it could not because of excise stamps. The same goes for private retailers. An owner of a private outlet in Alberta could not move excess product to a storefront in Manitoba, even if the same person owned both stores. In fact, Alberta takes this insanity one step further and prohibits the movement of products between stores within the province. The issue of landlocking legal product means the market can’t correct for misallocations, and that retailers, whether government or private, can’t properly react to shifts in consumer preferences. Excise taxes make cannabis more expensive, but they now make it less available, which is a double-whammy in favour of the black market.

Cannabis legalization is catching fire throughout the United States, emerging in Europe, and even taking hold in South America and Africa. Canada could be a global player in the internationalization of cannabis, but that is only possible if the industry and Canada’s domestic market aren’t being forced to function with their hands behind their back. Excise taxes and the way they are implemented are creating immense hurdles, all of which disadvantage recreational consumers, the domestic industry and medical patients, and prevent Canada from flourishing in the emerging global cannabis space.

Originally published at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-are-excise-taxes-killing-canadas-cannabis-market/

About CCC

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) empowers consumers to raise their voice in media, the Internet, and on the streets and facilitates activism towards a more empowered consumer. Learning from the successes of its parent organization, Students For Liberty, the CCC will bring the struggle for consumer freedom to the next level.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We monitor closely regulatory trends in Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice.

Policy Primer on “Smart Legalisation” For Cannabis

By David Clement, Yaël Ossowski, Bill Wirtz, Fred Roeder

09 January 2019

Summary:

  • Legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational consumption has boosted consumer choice and, at the same time, successfully deterred continued crime and black market activity in several parts of North America. The Consumer Choice Center welcomes cannabis legalization as a step towards more consumer choice, but stresses the importance of smart regulatory policy in each jurisdiction where it is considered.
  • Thanks to our experience in working on cannabis legalization in several U.S. States and Canada, we would like to share the following lessons and policy recommendations for the dozens of European, South American, Asian, and African countries now considering legalization of medical or recreational cannabis.

Retail Regulation:

  • Allow private brick and mortar and online retail
  • Refrain from capping the amount of retail permits issued

Public Consumption:

  • Allow the consumption of cannabis in the same places where tobacco consumption is also legal
  • Allow for the creation of cannabis lounges and establishments

Selling to Non-Residents:

  • Allow non-residents to buy cannabis
  • Use resources to prevent substance abuse of minors and invest in education

Taxation:

  • Allow non-residents to buy cannabis
  • Use resources to prevent substance abuse of minors and invest in education

Number of Licenses for Growers to Issue

  • Avoid supply shortages through sensible by keeping regulations on growing cannabis low
  • Allow for a large amount of growers
  • Allow for importation of cannabis from legal, licensed producers from countries or states that have already legalized cannabis

Branding:

  • Refrain from branding bans, and follow Washington-style policies on brands and advertising
  • Allow for visible branding, making it possible for consumers to establish loyalty and rooting out bad apples

Conclusion:

More jurisdictions are now opting for the legalization of medical or recreational cannabis products. By following an approach of smart regulation and thus allowing consumers to access legal cannabis products in a more convenient and safe way than illegal cannabis products, black markets and organized crime can be eradicated.

If legalization is executed in a half-hearted approach that strays from these recommendations, we fear that illegal options will remain available and thus jeopardize public support for legalization overall. However, by following these guidelines, states can ensure they will offer a cannabis market that furthers consumer choice and safety.

About the Authors:

David Clement is an Ontario-native and North American Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center. He is featured regularly on Canadian TV, radio, and print media advocating for the smart regulation of cannabis. He holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Yaël Ossowski is a Quebec-born journalist who grew up in North Carolina. He is Deputy Director of the Consumer Choice Center and writes about consumer policy in English and French in both Canada and the United States. He holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the CEVRO Institute in Prague, Czech Republic.

Fred Roeder is a German Health Economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center. He has been consulting governments, non-profits, and the private sector on patient-centric healthcare reform and opening up healthcare systems in two dozen countries with a strong focus on emerging markets and post-communist countries.

Bill Wirtz is a journalist from Luxembourg, Policy Analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, and regularly writes in French, English, German, and Luxembourgish on consumer-related policies. He is a vocal supporter of cannabis legalization in his home country and is featured regularly in media outlets such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, Die Welt, and RTL.

Download Paper here.

About CCC

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) empowers consumers to raise their voice in media, the Internet, and on the streets and facilitates activism towards a more empowered consumer. Learning from the successes of its parent organization, Students For Liberty, the CCC will bring the struggle for consumer freedom to the next level.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We monitor closely regulatory trends in Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice.

CCC: Cannabis Legalization Campaign

Legalizing Cannabis for medical and recreational consumption has boosted consumer choice and successfully fought crime and black markets in several parts of North America. The Consumer Choice Center welcomes Cannabis legalization as a step towards more consumer choice and stresses the importance of a smart regulatory approach towards Cannabis legalization.

The CCC is active in the legalization debate in several US states and Canada. This includes coverage in The Globe and MailThe Toronto Star, and Detroit News.

CCC Testimony on Ontario’s Cannabis Rules

On October 12th, 2018 Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement testified at the Standing Committee on Social Policy to provide comment on Bill 36, which will determine Ontario’s cannabis regulations.

Public cannabis consumption ban in Ontario was reversed

On Aug. 13, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fideli announced the government’s plan for cannabis legalization. The keystone of the Progressive Conservatives’ policy was a reversal of the public retail monopoly model proposed by the former Liberal government, to instead opt for private retail province wide.

In order to disseminate the Consumer Choice Center’s position on why Ontario’s public consumption ban would have been detrimental to consumer choice, the CCC’s North American Affairs Manager David Clement published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail , which is largest printed newspapers in Canada. In his piece, he suggested either backpedalling on the ban or legalizing regulated consumption lounges.

On 26 September, Ontario reversed their decision to ban all public consumption for cannabis. This victory will contribute to the creation of a more equitable, just and consumer-friendly cannabis market in Ontario.

Cannabis Conclave

The Consumer Choice Center hosts a Cannabis Conclave in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, January 24th, 2019. We want to use this event to fuel the legalization debate in Europe and show how legitimate and mature this industry in parts of North and South America already is.

Policy Primer on “Smart Legalization” For Cannabis 

By David ClementYaël OssowskiBill WirtzFred Roeder 

Legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational consumption has boosted consumer choice and, at the same time, successfully deterred continued crime and black market activity in several parts of North America. The Consumer Choice Center welcomes cannabis legalization as a step towards more consumer choice, but stresses the importance of smart regulatory policy in each jurisdiction where it is considered.

Thanks to our experience in working on cannabis legalization in several U.S. States and Canada, we would like to share the following lessons and policy recommendations for the dozens of European, South American, Asian, and African countries now considering legalization of medical or recreational cannabis.

Download the full paper here.

November 2018 Wisconsin Poll

On November 18-19, 2018, the Consumer Choice Center commissioned a survey conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on important healthcare and cannabis issues in the state of Wisconsin.

The full results and methodology can be found here.

DOWNLOAD THE RESULTS HERE

About CCC

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) empowers consumers to raise their voice in media, the Internet, and on the streets and facilitates activism towards a more empowered consumer. Learning from the successes of its parent organization, Students For Liberty, the CCC will bring the struggle for consumer freedom to the next level.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We monitor closely regulatory trends in Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice.


It absolutely will not stop: A report from a Belarus rave

The article below is written by Piotr Markielau, founder of Legalize Belarus

Legalize Belarus PLUR rave took place in an abandoned bunker near Minsk on the night of September 30. The gathering marked 1-year anniversary of the campaign that is aimed at education about psychoactive substances and advocacy for decriminalisation of controlled substances in Belarus.

Political liberty can not maintain a sustainable society if people are not responsible enough. Freedom of choice requires responsibility for that choice. If one decides to take any substance, they bare full responsibility for the consequences of this choice. In order to take the decision consciously a person should have information and assume that unwanted effects can take place if safety measures are not met. That is why we believe that education and spreading information about potentially harmful activities is a necessary process for acquiring more civil rights and liberties.

Electronic dance music culture is associated and influenced by certain psychoactive substances like MDMA. People tend to drink a lot of alcohol at night parties. By making PLUR theme of the party we promote the idea, that regardless of what and how you take, you have to remain responsible for your body and for respecting freedoms of other people. PLUR stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. Respect for the freedom of others is the paramount rule of life that props up free society.

To organise a rave we found an old littered bunker near Minsk, presumably left from the Second World War. One day in advance we cleaned it, bringing out more that 20 bags of trash. We rented portable generator to power sound system, lights and smoke. The stage was in the deeper room with arched ceiling. We organised bar in a small passage room and a cloakroom in the other big room. It was +2°C that day and people made a small bonfire to warm themselves up outside. Around 30 people came before 3 a.m. when this number doubled.

In the middle of the party SOBR (Belarusian SWAT) broke into the bunker. This is the most elite special force in Belarus that took part in assassinations of Lukashenka political opponents in 1999-2002. We were stunned and felt like in a fairy tale. With loud music playing, these full-equipped soldiers with masks and machine guns emerged from the smoke and started to put people face down roughly. Police dogs were carefully inspecting us for illicit drugs. Around 25 officers from different departments and internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs took part in the operation. Approximately one hour later were convoyed to the local police department, where 5 people were fined 2 EUR each and one person fined 5 EUR for being drunk in a public place. After that, in 5 hours after detention, all were released.

This operation could cost thousands of dollars for the budget. Why did they do that? It seems like they didn’t even had a purpose to find us doing something illegal. They could take urine and hair of participants to identify if someone took drugs, but they didn’t. The whole action was aimed at intimidation of Legalize Belarus activists and people who attend our events. In the morning everyone knew that our rave was dispersed. This might not help us to attract more activists. But that’s who we are — we don’t afraid of acting provocative and talking radical thus expanding the boundaries of freedom. We believe in right things, and that will bring our cause to the point eventually.

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End the Drug War is a single-issue campaign produced by Students For Liberty and supported by partners to raise awareness about the failed War on Drugs and to show policymakers all over the world that the millennial generation is united against the violence, waste, corruption, and curtailment of freedom perpetuated by the drug war.

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