Countries Where Marijuana is Legal or Decriminalized

Being a foreigner traveling around the world doesn’t mean you should ignore international cannabis laws. Even though cannabis is legal or tolerated in some countries, you must realize that it is still prohibited in many parts of the world. 
Here is a list of countries that will allow you to pair your travel experience with cannabis use without any worry.

Uruguay is the most liberal of all

The avant-gardism of Uruguay makes it the first country in the world to allow people to consume cannabis anywhere they like. Very flexible on the consumption of the euphoric plant, it is the first country in the world that decided to fully legalize cannabis at the end of 2013. Marijuana can thus be bought over the counter without any hassle. Its production, distribution, and consumption are totally legalized. However, according to the law, every consumer must choose a well-defined means to obtain cannabis. They can cultivate it themself, buy it in a drug store or join a cannabis club. Each consumer can buy a maximum of 10 grams per week.

Check the state laws before visiting the United States

The United States has its own dose of controversies and debates about medical and recreational uses of cannabis. The legalization of cannabis in the USA depends on the decision of each state. Residents of Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and California voted to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. This decision could modify the cultural and economic conditions of the states while affecting the American nation as a whole.

Before the above-mentioned states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington had all legalized, regulated and taxed recreational marijuana use by adults, in a similar manner to that of alcoholic drinks. Washington D.C. also legalized the possession of cannabis and its cultivation for personal use.

Ganja is controlled even in Jamaica

After years of debate and decades of illegality for smokers, the Jamaican Parliament authorized, under certain conditions, the consumption of cannabis and the possession of 57 grams of marijuana per person since February 2015. That was a historic decision for the island of Bob Marley where “ganja”, as it is called there, is highly consumed by the Rastafarians.

Considered either as a religion or philosophy, the Rastafarian movement is very popular in Jamaica. The followers consider “ganja” as a sacred herb that allows the soul to rise. They consider it harmless and has been asking for its legalization since long. Today, they can consume ganja while practicing their religion.

Small quantities of marijuana are allowed for consumption in Argentina

The consumption of cannabis is decriminalized in Argentina. It is common to come across youngsters who consume marijuana in public places although this is prohibited. However, the sale or cultivation of cannabis still remains illegal.
The same laws on marijuana can be found in other South American countries, including Peru, Colombia, and Mexico.

The Netherlands is the paradise of cannabis

Dutch lawmakers agreed to legalize the production of cannabis and the Netherlands remains the Eldorado of cannabis for many Europeans. In February 2017, the Dutch MPs adopted a law that legalizes the production of cannabis.

Since 1976, the country has been practicing a more accommodating policy on soft drugs, although culture is not allowed until now. However, plantations will be subject to strict control at several levels: farmers must first obtain authorization from the Ministry of Health before submitting their products for quality surveys. After that, the production and the annuity will be subject to the discretion of the public authorities and to tax. Coffee shops will now receive delivery by certified persons who will make pre-wrapped packages of five grams.

Cannabis is cheap in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the consumption of the marijuana is legal in a therapeutic framework since 2013. Cannabis use has been tolerated for recreational purposes for almost 3 years. You can have up to 15 grams of marijuana and up to 5 grams of hashish. The Czech Republic welcomes cannabis aficionados every year for a big festival known as Cannafest. However, Prague is not in the phase of becoming the new “Amsterdam” since the opening of coffee shops is strictly forbidden.

Cannabis is tolerated in small quantities in Italy

Italy is one of the most progressive countries in Europe in terms of cannabis. In addition to its domestic production of therapeutic cannabis, Italy is rather lenient with small drug users. Since 1993, legislation on the recreational use of all drugs has been relaxed. In a citizens’ referendum, the Italians voted for the decriminalization of possession of drugs. People with small quantities (<5 grams) are no longer subject to criminal penalties. Even if the possession of cannabis is modestly punished, it is still illegal under international laws. On the other hand, cannabis use is not an offense in itself.

However, massive cultivation of cannabis is criminalized. The Italians have the right to grow a cannabis plant at home without any reprimand, as long as there is no evidence that the owner is trafficking and the number of plants remains reasonable.

Private consumption of marijuana is tolerated in Spain

In Spain, the law penalizes the consumption of cannabis in public but remains silent on private consumption, which is therefore tolerated. Consumer clubs have used this legal vacuum and swarmed in recent years. But since June 2017, cannabis users’ clubs are now authorized and regulated by a law in Catalonia, the second most populous region in Spain. The regional parliament of Catalonia, with a population of 7.5 million, has adopted a law detailing the conditions under which they can operate and formally authorize them.

Drugs are a health issue, but not a criminal issue in Portugal

Portugal has decriminalized cannabis for more than 15 years now. In fact, the Portuguese government took the initiative in 2001 to decriminalize the possession of all drugs, including hard drugs, if they are found in very small quantities. This decision was taken as drugs are viewed as a health issue rather than a criminal issue in the country. Instead of arrests, those found with drugs are sent to medical panels consisting of a psychologist, social workers and legal advisor for appropriate treatment.

Cannabis is used in Cambodian cuisine

Whether it is in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or Nepal, consumption of cannabis is widespread in this region of the world. But it is easier to smoke and eat it in Cambodia as it is traditionally incorporated into the Cambodian cuisine. If you are visiting the country, do not miss the marijuana-laced pizza.

Nimbin the symbol of Australian marijuana

Nimbin is a village near Byron Bay which is the symbol of the Australian legalization activists. Inhabited since the 70s by a community of hippies, the consumption of cannabis is tolerated in its streets. In Nimbin, you can easily buy marijuana and all its derivatives, such as butter cookies from Marrakech, in public places. Every year a large gathering takes place where people from all over Australia come to request legalization throughout the country.

South Africa is on hold

The debate on the legalization of cannabis is raging in South Africa. A court in the Western Cape Province considered the criminalization of cannabis as unconstitutional in late March. Susanne, a young single mom, is convinced of the usefulness of the plant. For several months, she has given a new treatment to her seven-year-old son with Costello’s syndrome, a rare disease that causes physical deformities and intellectual deficit. The South African Parliament has two years to decide whether to adapt legislation.

Be discreet in Morocco

Any use of cannabis is illegal in Morocco but drug tourism brings a lot of money to the country’s economy. As such, police controls are rare. However, you have to be careful. If you get caught red-handed, you will land into trouble.

Canada will legalize recreational use in 2018

While most of the United States and some countries in South America have already authorized cannabis for medical use, several other countries are preparing for decriminalization. In April 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his bill to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Its sale will be legal as from July 1, 2018, and each province will determine the terms and locations of sales according to their convenience. Households will be allowed to grow up to 4 plants.

Other European countries are becoming lenient

This great movement of cannabis consumption has influenced Europe as well. Twelve countries decriminalized the use and possession of cannabis: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Croatia, and Slovenia. If you are caught possessing or consuming cannabis, you will incur a fine only.

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Las Vegas Pot Testing Lab’s License Suspended by State

Officials confirmed a Las Vegas marijuana testing laboratory has been suspended.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein says the department on Aug. 24 suspended the license of G3 Labs LLC.

Klapstein says the Nevada Department of Agriculture tested marijuana samples from the lab but determined no product recalls will be necessary.

Klapstein says she can provide no other details about why the lab was suspended.

State law requires cannabis companies to have samples of their products tested by licensed independent laboratories.

G3 is the first marijuana business in Nevada to have its license suspended since recreational marijuana possession became legal Jan. 1. Tax Department Director Deonne Contine says this shows the state is diligent in regulating the marijuana industry.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Pot lounges neither required nor wanted

While marijuana-industry written Question 2 passed statewide last November, it was defeated by voters in both Carson City and Douglas County.

Recreational marijuana is now “legal” throughout Nevada, but localities are free to choose to license, or not to license, commercial marijuana establishments. In Douglas County, a unanimous county commission chose to “zone out” all commercial marijuana establishments. By contrast, Carson City’s board of supervisors is in the process of approving commercial recreational marijuana establishments—retail, cultivation and manufacture.

In states outside of Nevada that “legalized” marijuana, local communities have been cautious or resisted marijuana commerce. While Colorado voters “legalized” marijuana statewide, the vast majority (73%) of the state’s cities and counties banned commercial recreational marijuana in their jurisdictions. Similarly, Oregon “legalized” marijuana statewide, but 89 cities and counties have banned all commercial marijuana activity. In Massachusetts, the 91 communities in the state that voted against legalization have been given authority by the state legislature to prohibit commercialization.

California voters “legalized” recreational marijuana in 2016. The initiative passed overwhelmingly in affluent and politically “liberal” areas like Palo Alto and Marin County. However, local officials in both these communities banned commercial marijuana establishments. The cited reason for the prohibition: “quality of life.”

In comparison, Nevada stands alone among the states in an unprecedented rush to “Early Start” recreational marijuana sales that began on July 1. In passing Question 2, Nevada voters were assured recreational sales would begin six months later, on Jan. 1, 2018, after adoption of permanent regulations.

The haste in commencing recreational marijuana sales was urged by Nevada’s medical marijuana licensees. They claimed that medical-only marijuana stores lost money and only with recreational sales would they make a profit. The “Early Start” program was effectively a marijuana industry “bail out,” announced without public hearings or vote of approval by the governing Nevada Tax Commission.

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The hurried approach to recreational marijuana licensing at the local level in Nevada can be seen in the case of North Las Vegas, a predominately low income city with a high percentage of “at risk” youth. North Las Vegas city officials have already licensed 52 marijuana establishments—retail, cultivation and manufacture.

A request from the Las Vegas Review-Journal for names and ownership interests of marijuana establishments in North Las Vegas was denied. City officials based their refusal on an August 3 Nevada Supreme Court decision holding marijuana ownership records are “confidential” and unavailable to the public.

In contrast to marijuana, ownership interests for gaming and liquor licensees are held to be public records. Keeping ownership information confidential makes it impossible for the public to scrutinize government officials for conflicts of interest. The Nevada Press Association formally protested the withholding of marijuana ownership information by North Las Vegas city officials.

A new opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau holding that nothing in Nevada law prevents a business from establishing a lounge or hosting a special event where recreational marijuana is used, is creating the latest marijuana controversy. The opinion, requested by Sen. Tick Segerblom, came after the legislature defeated his bill in the last session to do expressly that. Segerblom argues that local governments should be allowed to license Amsterdam-like “pot lounges” and other public uses.

Gov. Sandoval disagrees with the legal opinion entirely and requested review by the Attorney General. Among Sandoval’s concerns — putting Nevada in direct conflict with requirements of Federal law in the “Cole Memorandum” guiding handling of marijuana in states where it has been legalized.

None of the four other states where marijuana is legal for recreational use-Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon—currently allow “pot lounges”. The three other states where legalization regulations are being finalized—California, Massachusetts and Maine—are not currently considering “pot lounges.” If approved, Nevada would stand alone.

Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa and was president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy in 2016

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Nevada suspends Las Vegas pot testing lab’s license –

First marijuana business in Nevada to have its license suspended since recreational marijuana possession became legal.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials confirmed a Las Vegas marijuana testing laboratory has been suspended.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein says the department on Aug. 24 suspended the license of G3 Labs LLC.

Klapstein says the Nevada Department of Agriculture tested marijuana samples from the lab but determined no product recalls will be necessary.

Klapstein says she can provide no other details about why the lab was suspended.

State law requires cannabis companies to have samples of their products tested by licensed independent laboratories.

G3 is the first marijuana business in Nevada to have its license suspended since recreational marijuana possession became legal Jan. 1. Tax Department Director Deonne Contine says this shows the state is diligent in regulating the marijuana industry.


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Nevada County’s commerce lags behind in economic recovery

Empty storefronts. Vacant office buildings. Proposed large-scale commercial developments that recede like mirages.

It’s tempting to see nothing but doom and gloom when surveying the state of commercial real estate in Nevada County.

But the picture is not dramatically dismal, say local commercial real estate professionals.

Nevada County won’t be mistaken as a monolith due to its geographic and economic diversity. Western Nevada County has multiple distinct retail locations, including the cities of Nevada City and Grass Valley, as well as the communities of Penn Valley and South County. And the office, retail and industrial markets also have distinct factors driving their respective vacancy rates.

One trend that holds true across geography, and can generally be applied to residential and commercial real estate, is that Nevada County lags behind national and even Northern California trends.

Highland Commercial Managing Broker Lock Richards analyzes national and local commercial real estate market activity on a quarterly basis, and in his mid-year report noted that favorable market conditions are not translating into commercial real estate sales. He found western Nevada County lags appreciably in appreciation in comparison to Bay Area and Truckee/Reno in the last few years.

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But Richards says the county is positioned for greater profit potential than surrounding areas.

Nationally, Richards says, the economy is doing well, with inflation still low and values rising. Much of the distressed commercial inventory from the recession has been sold off, with less new building going on nationwide.

“Locally, the recession hit across the board, with values declining 40 percent,” he said. “Vacancies increased, unemployment increased — probably in the reverse order. Those effects didn’t start turning around until the middle of 2015; Nevada County lagged the recovery in the Bay Area for years. We’re just at the start of recovery; it has been really slow, but steady.”

That lag time, Richards said, means Nevada County is positioned for accelerated growth. There are roadblocks, however — the same that plague the residential real estate market.

“Vacancy rates are falling,” he said. “We do have a limited new supply, because the cost to build has gotten so (high) due to codes and regulations and government fees. The risk has been too high compared to the profit potential.”

Some purpose-built projects are under construction, such as Tractor Supply Company, but no spec building — building with the intention to place the property on the retail market for sale.

“Lenders are more restrictive now on spec builds, and developers are being more conservative,” Richards said. “You have to know what your end game is.”


It’s a challenging time, say local builders.

On a macro level, said Daniel Swartzendruber of Tru-Line Builders, commercial real estate and development follows the housing supply.

“For a while, we haven’t had a lot of residential development happening in the county or cities,” he said. “As far as building new, that just doesn’t happen unless there’s a demand. What we’re seeing right now is a depressed market for real estate. Commercial buildings are going for $120-$150 per square foot when it costs more than that (to build new).”

The lack of residential inventory has a domino effect into the commercial market, Swartzendruber said.

If developers could build new, mid-sized houses that were more affordable, he explained, then homeowners in smaller, entry-level homes would be more likely to move up, freeing up that critical piece of the real estate market puzzle. The rising cost of new construction has been a factor, with the cost to build in California increasing 20 percent in the last five years, he said.

And in Nevada County, Swartzendruber said, when you also add the minimum lot size restriction of an acre and a half, building new midrange housing doesn’t pencil out for developers.

As an example, he said, people might plunk down $100,000 for the land, $30-40,000 for an architect and as much as $40-50,000 in fees.

“You’re pushing $200,000-plus just to get started,” he said. “When you have that kind of capital investment, (you’re) building a bigger house, otherwise it doesn’t pencil out.”

But, he said, most of the buyers out there are averse to spending more than $750,000 for a house, adding, “a lot of that product just sits on the market.”

So, he said, with the residential real estate market stalled out, businesses are averse to relocating, and there is no or little demand for commercial development.

“I think we’re going to see slow development for the next three to five years, until more housing gets built,” Swartzendruber said.

The general contractor predicted more remodeling of existing business space rather than new builds since there is plenty of vacant office space. As with residential builds, it’s difficult to make the numbers work for new commercial projects. Changes to electrical code, for example, have led costs to more than double, and material processes keep increasing as well,

“It becomes a little bit tougher to make something pencil out,” Swartzendruber said, adding if construction costs more than $250 per square foot and existing office space is renting for less than $150/square foot, a bank likely won’t loan the money.


A recent uptick in storefront vacancies in downtown Grass Valley, in comparison to a currently vibrant downtown core of Nevada City, was recently reported in The Union and spurred social media discussion as well.

Some commenting saw parking as the problem, while others cited the high cost of renting space, the rise in online shopping and the need for a mix that attracts both locals and tourists.

That situation likely will improve in the near future, however.

“It ebbs and flows over the years,” Lock Richards said. “It’s a natural cycle.”

Richards predicts that the legalization of recreational marijuana will eventually have a major impact on economic growth throughout the county.

“It’s going to happen,” he said, pointing to the city of Santa Rosa, which has been filling its industrial vacancies with “cannabusinesses.”

“We get a couple of calls a week from different cannabis groups because we deal in industrial land and zoning,” Richards said. “Nevada City jumped on (the cannabis market) and they will get the benefit from that, approving uses and a dispensary, so different aspects of that industry can happen there.”

According to Richards, Nevada City has been seeing a dramatic increase in commercial real estate prices, likely because of cannabis, citing a jump in value on one property sold as a potential dispensary site from $500,000 to $800,000. Even if the buyer doesn’t get the single dispensary license the city plans to soon grant, they could potentially use it for other cannabis-related business, such as testing or the manufacturing of edibles, or even indoor cultivation, he said.

“There are not a lot of vacancies in Nevada City — there’s a demand for more space,” said Gary Tintle, who owns a number of buildings in Nevada City and elsewhere in the county.

Tintle owns the long-vacant Alpha Building, which greets visitors to Nevada City as they come off the freeway and turn up Broad Street. He said he put the potential sale or renovation of the building on the back burner for more than a year, adding he currently is working with a potential buyer for the entire 22,000 square feet.

If that doesn’t pan out, he said, he plans to start developing it next spring, breaking it into smaller retail spaces. Tintle said he already has extensive renovation drawings and that he has the city approvals he would need, calling it a “shovel-ready” project.

“There’s a huge amount of interest,” he said. “The Alpha has got a lot of potential.”


Richards expressed optimism for continued growth in Nevada County.

“In our area, relative to Truckee, Sacramento and the Bay Area, the returns are higher by a couple hundred basis points (used to express differences in interest rates and other percentages in finance),” he said. “For example, cap rates (the ratio of net operating income to property value) are 5-6 percent in the Bay Area, and are 7-8 percent here. Investors looking for higher returns will start to look in our area — there’s more value, more upside. It could improve the future of the commercial industry.”

Richards is convinced that rents will keep creeping up and Nevada County will see more commercial development activity.

“As the population grows, we will attract more retail,” he said. While big national retailers have “bigger fish to fry,” he added, there is room for mid-level retail, such as Kohl’s, at a center like the proposed Dorsey Marketplace project in Grass Valley.

Richards argues that Nevada County’s office vacancy rate — which currently stands in the 13 percent range — is not as bad as it might seem. That percentage is artificially high, he said, because of the former Grass Valley Group vacating its 150,000 square feet of office space in 2014.

“If you took that out of the equation, the rate would be about 7 percent. … Less than 10 percent is fairly healthy,” Richards said.

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Las Vegas pot testing lab’s license suspended

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials confirmed a Las Vegas marijuana testing laboratory has been suspended.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein says the department on Aug. 24 suspended the license of G3 Labs LLC.

Klapstein says the Nevada Department of Agriculture tested marijuana samples from the lab but determined no product recalls will be necessary.

Klapstein says she can provide no other details about why the lab was suspended.

State law requires cannabis companies to have samples of their products tested by licensed independent laboratories.

G3 is the first marijuana business in Nevada to have its license suspended since recreational marijuana possession became legal Jan. 1. Tax Department Director Deonne Contine says this shows the state is diligent in regulating the marijuana industry.

Construction worker dead after falling in hole

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Authorities say a construction worker at a southern Las Vegas job site has died following a 20-foot fall.

KVVU-TV reports that the worker appears to have died upon impact Monday morning.

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The Clark County fire department says the worker had been sandblasting pipes in the area.

The worker then returned and fell at least 20 feet down into a hole.

It’s unknown why the worker returned to the area.

Las Vegas police and the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

The state investigation could take up to six months.

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Las Vegas Dispensary Pays Tribute to Art and Marijuana

Acres Cannabis

The Place:

Acres is hard to miss—just look for the bright, “framed” floral murals outside the 18,000-square foot facility. This artistic vibe carries over into the shop, with custom-created purple plush furniture and chandeliers in the waiting room. Another set of murals create a proscenium-and-backdrop effect in the sales area, where products are tidily displayed by brand.

After making your purchase, check out Acres’ collection of marijuana memorabilia, from Reefer Madness posters to vintage copies of High Times, or peek into the glassed-in kitchen, where edibles are made in-house.

The Product:

Acres carries their namesake house brand (grown in a greenhouse in Amargosa, NV, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas), and has a deal with Cowboy Cannabis (look for the chewing tobacco-style packaging). Other brands include Matrix NV, BaM, Greenway, Social vape pens and Wana gummies, among others. Acres’ edibles—which include cookies, popcorn and donuts—have an extra flair. “Our chef was a pastry chef at the Wynn, so her edibles are to die for,” says Acres Manager Amy Castaldo.

“In this market, the more creative you get, the more intrigued people are and they want to come. Because it’s Vegas, it’s big, it’s exciting . . . there’s not a facility like this in your hometown.” – Amy Castaldo, Acres Manager

Acres cleverly infuses the toppings rather than the baked goods, making for much fresher products. “Before going recreational, we sold all flower, all day, and I couldn’t move an edible to save my life,” Amy recalls. “Now, I can’t keep an edible or a vape pen on my shelf!”


Like the industry itself, Acres has plans to expand—and not just in terms of square footage. “In this market, the more creative you get, the more intrigued people are and they want to come. Because it’s Vegas, it’s big, it’s exciting . . . there’s not a facility like this in your hometown,” says Castaldo. The museum will continue to add items, there are plans to have scheduled demonstrations in the kitchen, and “we are going to work with the city to get an on-site consumption lounge,” Castaldo explains, “like the House of Blues for cannabis, with events and concerts.” Another plan is to add a vendor area, where customers can get better acquainted with new products. “We will be doing the Marketplace at Acres, where cultivators and producers will be able to come in and staff their booth with their employees,” she explains.

Acres Cannabis Las Vegas

Location: 2320 Western Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102 | (702) 399-4200

Store Hours: Mon-Sun: 10am-12am|Instagram: @acrescannabis | Twitter: @AcresCannabis


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L.A. set to be hot market for marijuana. But there might not be many places to smoke it

Los Angeles lawmakers are laying the groundwork for what is widely expected to be one of the hottest markets for marijuana in the country, one that could bring more than $50 million in taxes to city coffers next year.

The city is drafting rules to allow greenhouses that grow cannabis, industrial facilities that process it, and new shops that sell it for recreational use, not just medical need.

But anyone expecting L.A. to become the next Amsterdam may be disappointed: It has held back, so far, on welcoming cafes or lounges where customers could smoke or consume cannabis.

That has troubled some marijuana advocates and attorneys, who warn that even after California legalizes the sale of recreational pot, many tourists and renters could be left without a safe, legal place to use it in Los Angeles.

“It’s ridiculous that the city doesn’t consider that,” said attorney Bruce Margolin, executive director of the L.A. chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Margolin said he was offended that even as cannabis was on the verge of local legitimacy, “the City Council is still treating marijuana users like criminals.”

The question is one example of the thorny debates that Los Angeles faces as it crafts new regulations on cannabis businesses, an industry still in limbo between California and Capitol Hill.

Under draft regulations released earlier this year, it would be illegal for L.A. pot shops and other cannabis businesses to allow marijuana consumption on site.

It is also illegal, under state law, to consume it in a public place. And smoking pot will remain illegal anywhere that cigarette smoking is banned. At a recent city hearing, several speakers complained that could leave tourists and renters in the lurch.

Tourists “can’t smoke it outside. Can’t smoke it in a hotel. Can’t smoke it in a rental car,” said George Boyadjian, president of 420 College, which provides seminars on cannabis business regulations. “Where are these people supposed to use their cannabis?”

The obvious place, for locals, would be at home. But while Californians can generally use marijuana on private property, renters may not be able to smoke it inside their apartments if their landlords forbid smoking of any kind. And some cannabis attorneys fear that zealous landlords could also target tenants for using marijuana if their leases prohibit illegal activity in their apartments.

Under some leases, “you can be evicted for committing a federal crime,” said cannabis attorney Pamela Epstein, owner and founder of Green Wise Consulting. Epstein argued that if Los Angeles doesn’t want those renters to smoke marijuana outside, it needs to give them a designated place to go.

The idea alarms critics of the marijuana industry, who argue that such venues would become a nuisance and drag down property values.

“Most people don’t even want a marijuana store in their community, let alone a place where you can actually consume,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposed the California measure to legalize selling recreational marijuana. He was skeptical that Californians would have trouble finding somewhere to smoke.

Even if they do, “I don’t think we should be in the business of facilitating places where people can get high,” Sabet said.

The Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs argued that permitting marijuana to be consumed at businesses would ramp up the risk of intoxicated driving.

Los Angeles Police Protective League President Craig Lally agreed, saying it is difficult for police or users themselves to know if someone is too high to drive.

And UC San Francisco clinical professor of psychiatry Peter Banys argued that cities should hold off on allowing any “consumption cafes” until there is better research on intoxicated driving.

“There are questions that simply haven’t been answered,” Banys said.

Margolin said the idea is hardly new, pointing to the famed shops of Amsterdam. San Francisco already allows consumption lounges at a small number of medical marijuana dispensaries, and as it prepares for recreational pot, a city task force has recommended allowing cannabis consumption at retailers.

In Colorado, Denver is launching a pilot program to allow bring-your-own marijuana consumption at some businesses that do not sell pot or alcohol, though it has yet to process any applications. And Alaska and Nevada have also started exploring similar ideas.

Although some private cannabis clubs have quietly operated in California cities, local governments have been slow to officially embrace “social use” because it isn’t as familiar to them as other kinds of marijuana businesses, said Jolene Forman, staff attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group opposed to the war on drugs.

Forman argued that a lack of legal spaces to smoke could have unintended consequences, such as pushing renters or tourists to turn to edibles that are harder to detect. Switching to edibles, in turn, could make it harder for new users to determine how much they should consume.

“If you give people spaces where they can safely smoke or vape, there is no risk of that,” Forman said.

When California hammered out state rules for permitting recreational marijuana, it left the door open for local governments to allow cannabis consumption at retailers as long as the facilities are restricted to people 21 or older, keep marijuana consumption out of sight of younger people or the public, and do not offer up alcohol or tobacco as well.

West Hollywood has been drafting rules to allow lounges where marijuana can be consumed. In July, the West Hollywood City Council invited a panel of experts to weigh in on cannabis regulation. Among them was Cat Packer of the Drug Policy Alliance, who warned that “if consumers and patients don’t have a place to consume, they’re going to do it outside.”

“So if you don’t want them consuming outside, I think it makes sense to give them a space where they can consume responsibly,” Packer said, pointing out that consumption could include applying lotion or eating chocolate.

Packer now heads L.A.’s Department of Cannabis Regulation, but it is city lawmakers who are making decisions about those rules. Many Los Angeles City Council members said they had not yet considered the issue of allowing cannabis consumption at businesses, which has taken a back seat to other concerns such as where pot shops can locate.

“The full force of our attention is on creating the requirements for cultivation, manufacturing, testing and retail businesses,” Caolinn Mejza, a spokeswoman for City Council President Herb Wesson, said in a written statement. “As time goes by we will deal with other issues and concerns.”

Packer added that the city regulations are likely to continue to evolve with time. “This is the beginning of the conversation,” she said.

One councilman said he was open to the idea of cannabis lounges.

“It’s hard to say you can’t smoke in your home — especially for medical marijuana, where people have real needs — and yet we won’t let you smoke somewhere else,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who has concerns about how secondhand smoke affects tenants. “Either people need to be able to smoke in their apartments or they need some other places set aside.”

Koretz added, however, that the city should first scrutinize the hazards of people driving while high. Those concerns were echoed by Councilman Mitch Englander, who said if Los Angeles considers allowing marijuana consumption at businesses, the overriding question must be, “Can they be regulated in a way that they would be safe?”

Cannabis business attorney Hilary Bricken said she was disappointed, but not surprised, that many cities seem to fear that cannabis bars will encourage “bad behavior.”

Bars serving alcohol are everywhere, Bricken said, “but there’s clearly different treatment of cannabis, in a way that really doesn’t give cannabis a chance to be a responsible activity.”

Twitter: @LATimesEmily

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From a Broken Home to a Cannabis Millionaire

Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Brayden Sutton, CEO of Friday Night Inc., overcomes the odds to propel the cannabis industry forward.

Brayden Sutton left home at 15 years old and never looked back. He credits cannabis for literally saving his life and it’s also provided a solid living for his young family.

Sutton’s father, a pilot, was the captain of air traffic control for the Vancouver Airport, the second busiest airport in Canada and drank alcohol in excess to deal with the stress of having people’s lives in his hands. The alcoholism led to divorce and Sutton’s dad took off, leaving the family when he was 12. His mother asked for rent to help pay expenses and at this point Sutton had had enough, and rented a suite across town to get away from the broken home, all before he had finished the ninth grade.

“I was living the life of a 25-year-old at only 15,” he said. “You can only imagine. Hard drugs were prevalent at that time and many friends were addicted and overdosing to street drugs and synthetic opioids on a regular basis. I got out and moved to Calgary to start a new life away from it all.  I wanted a healthy mind and body.”

Sutton has suffered from diverticulitis and arthritis his entire life. His mother, a nutritionist, had always shunned allopathic Western medicine and raised her children without drugs and addressed illnesses with holistic measures, always trying to identify the root of the issue, rather than just bandaging it with pills.  They lived a healthy and alternative lifestyle and never sought out medical advice or visits to the doctor, according to Sutton. Later in life, Sutton has also successfully helped several others get off benzodiazepines and similar anxiety medications with a healthy, consistent cannabis regime. And he continues to hear stories like this from others who have a health-focus around the plant.

“Being on traditional pharma to treat my maladies caused me other, sometimes even worse health problems, not to mention it made me a zombie,” said Sutton, who became one of the youngest cannabis patients in Canada under the federal medical cannabis program (MMAR) in 2003 at age 19.

This was also the same year his father died of alcohol consumption. Though estranged from his family, Sutton attended his father’s funeral and met a young lady on that trip to Vancouver. He didn’t know it at the time, but she became his future wife. “We started living together three months after we met and had a daughter a year later and married a year after that.” Not a conventional road to marriage, but not much about Sutton is conventional.

Sutton, now 32, remained a cannabis user through high school and supported himself, eventually landing at Suncor, an oil and gas company, where he worked as an IT analyst. He began to realize that investing was the only way he was going to get ahead in life; so he started tracking Suncor’s stock and began to teach himself about capital markets and became an avid investor before turning 20 years old.

His passion for the benefits of cannabis only increased as he got the anti-inflammatory relief he sought for his major stomach issues with no side effects. He became a crusader for the plant as his passion and knowledge grew, and he began making a living by investing wisely in Canadian cannabis start-ups. He was the first 20-year-old angel investor in the space before he had even heard the term.

In March of 2009 when the equity markets around the globe bottomed from the crisis, he switched gears by becoming a dedicated equity analyst and full-time investor, focusing on this new sector. He called for caution on the early cannabis companies, and was the only person he’s aware of who was doing this over eight years ago on Twitter and elsewhere.

Sutton caught the attention of the very first, and still highest regarded CFA dedicated to the space; Alan Brochstein of 420 Investor and New Cannabis Ventures and he became Brochstein’s only Canadian cannabis analyst providing intel and boots on the ground through 2014. He later worked on the inception and IPO of Supreme Pharmaceuticals, an advanced Canadian medical cannabis company, currently growing for the Canadian Federal Government in a 7-acre greenhouse. His work in the public cannabis industry continued with stints at Aurora Cannabis, Invictus MD and CannaRoyalty Corp. and he provided financial advisory to countless others – both public and private.

“Canadian health care is horrid,” he said. “The idea that federal government-run health care and socialized medicine works is the biggest lie going. It’s a completely broken system and patients have needed to find other alternative options to treat their ailments away from the government and traditional Western medicine. That’s why legalizing cannabis in all its forms and uses has been imperative for Canada.  It’s already saved thousands of lives and alleviated much misery. I am living testament to its life saving properties and its ability to get people off their prescription pain killers.”

This belief led him to found, a not-for-profit educational company with a long history and 15 contributing MDs and PhDs, all with health issues themselves and looking for alternative ways to treat diseases and illnesses — both mental and physical.

His appreciation for the medicinal properties of cannabis grew to include the adult-use aspect as well. This led to him founding his latest venture in 2017, Friday Night Inc., a cannabis lifestyle company focused on creating experiences and memories for a lifetime.  He’s proud of the industry professionals he’s brought together. “We provide expertise and capital and only work with best-of-breed teams,” said Sutton, who is president and CEO.

The Canadian public company owns and controls cannabis and hemp based assets in Las Vegas through majority ownership of two companies, a licensed medical and adult-use cannabis cultivation and production facility that produces its own line of unique cannabis-based products and manufactures other third-party brands and a producer of hemp-based, CBD products, thoughtfully crafted of high-quality organic botanical ingredients.

Sutton has chosen to focus on Las Vegas, to be “where the puck is going to be,” so to speak. Nevada’s recreational market opened on July 1.

“With almost fifty million visitors a year in a very dense area, it’s potentially the biggest marketplace in the world,” Sutton said.

The company was the very first to get a production license in Clark County, Nevada and is taking advantage of the already very hungry market. “I believe we are still in the first inning of cannabis with at least 20 years of growth to go.”

Sutton is a testament to resilience and personal perseverance becoming a self-made millionaire by the age of 30. He had zero financial help, no guidance and no inheritance. “I could have easily become an opioid addict and be dead by now,” he said.  “Cannabis not only saved my life, it also deeply enriched it.”

Running a public cannabis company and being a devoted family man takes up most of Sutton’s time, but when he does get to sneak away, he prefers to keep his feet on the ground, and loves anything with two wheels. He’s been an avid cyclist his whole life. “It started with BMX and dirt bikes when I was a kid, now it’s mountain bikes, road bikes, racing sport bikes, you name it – I love them all.”

Both of Sutton’s uncles followed in their father’s footsteps, as Brayden’s father did, and fly commercial jets for a living. His grandfather was a decorated war hero and a pilot his entire life. Brayden took flight in his own way, shunning the aviation path he had grown up in and carved his own way in the world. He is truly a rags to riches story, but Sutton remains humble, remembering his bleak beginnings, putting an emphasis on wise asset allocation early-on as the primary reason for his financial success.

“Anyone can get lucky, or catch a wave and make a million dollars. But the real test is what you do with the money, staying grounded and being able to turn it into 2, 3 million dollars and creating a real nest egg for your family,” he said. “I had somewhat of a lost youth, but eventually everything comes full circle. I still believe that the choices and decisions we make fully determine the outcome of our lives, it’s not the cards you were dealt, but how you play them.”

Sutton is not only a great example of a cannabis entrepreneur in it for the right reasons, but proof that it’s not where you come from but where you wind up.  Clearly, the sky’s the limit for Brayden Sutton.

By Bill Bongiorno

TELL US, do you have a cannabis industry success story to share?

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