City brandishes court order to threaten remaining dispensaries

At a spartan Queen West storefront on a sunny afternoon, more than 20 people sit shoulder to shoulder, waiting to be served by one of several busy employees. Eden, the Bellwoods-adjacent marijuana dispensary, is already seeing some of the overflow effects of last week’s court ruling that shut down a group of Toronto dispensaries for violating zoning bylaws.

The Ontario Superior Court granted the City’s request last week to close operations at Toronto’s remaining Canna Clinics—a chain of marijuana dispensaries—while the matter remains before the courts. For the City, the court order means another way to fight illegal marijuana dispensaries in what has become a costly game of whack-a-mole. For other Toronto dispensaries, it means more business, at least in the immediate future.

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Why does this beer taste bad? Laws vary on clean taps in New England

HAVERHILL — A rookie line cleaner disconnected a keg, dismantled the faucet and keg coupler, and connected the cleaning can to one of the lines that link kegs to taps at the AMVETS bar here. Sporting a pair of protective rubber gloves, he ran an alkaline solution through the draft line and began washing the disassembled parts with the same teal-colored cleaner, while his more practiced colleague narrated like the voice-over of a surgical drama.

It was a routine draft-line cleaning — the first stop on the men’s route through Northern Massachusetts. While the faucets air-dried, military veteran Shaun Murphy described the microscopic beasts that breed in lines left unchecked. “I can walk into a place and smell whether the taps are clean,” said Murphy, who since 2013 has been cleaning lines for Tibs Taps, a company that installs and maintains draft beer systems; he placed his fingers under the water that now ran through the lines, turning from green to clear as the chemicals dissipated.

While rare, there has been at least one documented case in Massachusetts where a beer distributor failed to flush out the caustic cleaning solution from the draft lines, injuring a patron who suffered burns on her throat. Like the one that Tibs Taps uses, many cleaning solutions now contain color pigments to easily identify whether the lines are completely free from the solution before drawing beer from the tap.

Massachusetts law places responsibility on the bar or restaurant, rather than the distributor, for ensuring draft beer lines are clean and safe, but like similar laws in most states, the regulation is relatively unenforceable until an individual files a complaint or the business is subject to inspection.

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Will Canada turn on or tune out to psychedelics as medicine?

Current studies on addiction, anxiety and depression are exploring the benefits of psilocybin and a variety of popular party drugs as possible therapies

Experimental research on psilocybin, the active compound responsible for the “magic” in magic mushrooms, suggests it has potential for treating alcohol and tobacco addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder and end-of-life anxiety.

While these studies may signal good news for people who are resistant to other forms of treatment, most trials involve only 10 to 20 participants, which means that their clinical significance remains unproven until more research can corroborate their findings. That’s easier said than done.

UBC professor Mark Haden chairs the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is currently conducting a study administering MDMA to PTSD patients during psychotherapy sessions. Its hypothesis is that MDMA’s efficacy in treating PTSD may be due in part to its ability “to produce a sense of calming empowerment, not painful stress, as the individual reflects on the traumatic experience,” Haden says.

He explains that the study required “four years of back-and-forth with Health Canada” in order to receive approval. The research is subject to frequent government inspections, and the MDMA used in the study costs $75 per dose.

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