Embassy Headlines, Issue 139

Cannabis [HEH]

The Endocannabinoid System and General Practice Training Programs are soon to be married in Australia.

In the meantime, as we wait for clarity, there’s always your local dealer/healer who knows a bit about your CB ones and your CB twos. At least he/she doesn’t put their career before duty of care and the Hippocratic Oath.

A General Practitioner is (supposed to be) a medical doctor who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education to patients.

The Embassy Headlines are a selection of recent articles from news services and media sources primarily concerning Cannabis issues, the consequences of prohibition and the challenges for law reform. Here are the selected headlines for this week.


Bali Nine: Vigil hears emotional statements from Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Ben Quilty and Alan Jones call for mercy [ABC]

A vigil in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has heard emotional statements from the pair, who say the “compassion and kindness from people forgiving our stupidity” has made them feel “truly blessed”. Indonesia has delayed transferring the Bali Nine pair from Bali’s Kerobokan prison to the island where they are due to be executed, and says it is “almost certain” the Australians will not face the firing squad this month. On Wednesday night vigils were held across Australia in support of the Australians, including at Toongabbie in western Sydney, which was read a letter from each of the men.


Cannabis users call on police union for support [EchoNet Daily]

Medical cannabis users are calling on police unions to ask their members whether they support the use of therapeutic cannabis. The Australian Medical Cannabis Users Association has expressed outrage over the destruction of cannabis discovered in the northern rivers last week. The Association said people were disgusted at the ‘blatant waste of taxpayers money as much as the senseless waste of these crops when the NSW government is grappling with supply issues’. MCUA founder Gail Hester said law-abiding citizens would lose respect for the law if the police pressure on Nimbin continued. ‘Nimbin is fast becoming known as the medical cannabis capital of Australia,” she said. ‘I was appalled by such a high police presence, including a drug testing bus. It amounts to shooting fish in a barrel. ‘The govt promised compassion. It promised the terminally ill protection from the law. Where is it? ‘MCUA members from across Australia go to Nimbin looking for information. Terminally ill NSW patients seeking “safe” access to raw material under the TICS scheme, flock to Nimbin looking for “carers”.


The most potent pot economies in the world [Fortune]

Here are the biggest pot economies in the world, according to data compiled by the Rand Corporation. Rand ranks these countries not by total size of the market for cannabis, but by the percentage of GDP devoted to cannabis in each country, as this measure gives us a better idea of the depth of popularity of the drug in each country. You’ll notice the U.S. doesn’t make the cut. While Americans spend more on pot than any other developed country, the U.S. also has the largest economy in the world. When you compare American pot purchases to its massive economy, we only spend 0.14% of our total income on the drug, good for 14th place.

  • 1. Latvia—0.64% of GDP
  • 2. Australia—0.47% of GDP

Any way you cut it, Australia’s cannabis market is huge. In nominal terms, the Rand Corporation estimates that Aussies spend roughly $3.2 billion per year on pot, even though it is illegal to possess the drug across the country. Penalties for marijuana use vary from state to state, with some jurisdictions issuing fines for those caught with small amounts, while getting caught in others might lead to mandatory treatment.

  • 3. Czech Republic—0.45% of GDP
  • 4. Slovenia—0.36% of GDP
  • 5. New Zealand—0.35% of GDP

The perils – for civilians – of police getting too close [Sydney Morning Herald]

In about 60 per cent of such cases, the ultimate victim had a disabled perception of reality caused by serious mental illness, or was affected by alcohol or drugs. In most such cases, they were not presenting any clear and present danger to other people, or to police, until police adopted their “never take a backward step” tactics. I suspect the tendency for matters to boil into violent and sometimes fatal confrontation is being aggravated by the increased availability to police of sub-lethal weapons, such as batons, chemical spray and Tasers, and to the fact that these, often are inadequate to defuse matters that got out of hand primarily because police went for the firm and controlling, rather than the calming option.  Perhaps – though I doubt it – there are more and more people disabled by drugs or alcohol making trouble for police at any given time. Public drunkenness, and street assaults occur a tiny fraction of that which was common 50 years ago. It is suggested that ice and some other modern drugs more quickly fuel uncontrollable crises than in earlier times, but this has to be weighed against evidence suggesting the level of random public violence has been continually declining for at least a century. (In 1920, for example, the Razor gangs of Darlinghurst caused more lasting grievous injury in a typical week than in an average year these days.)


Experts discuss therapeutic potential of medical cannabis in a symposium organized by MUHC [News Medical]

While debate about recreational marijuana use continues, researchers are investigating the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain, spasticity, and a host of other medical problems. In a symposium organized by the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) as part of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting held this week in San Jose, California, world-renowned experts from North America and the U.K. share their perspectives on the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and explore the emerging science behind it. “We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers,” says Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC, in Canada. As a pain specialist Dr. Ware regularly sees patients with severe chronic pain at his clinic in Montreal, and for some of them, marijuana appears to be a credible option. “I don’t think that every physician should prescribe medical cannabis, or that every patient can benefit but it’s time to enhance our scientific knowledge base and have informed discussions with patients.”


Cypress Hill’s B Real to open up medical marijuana dispensary [Guardian]

Cypress Hill’s B Real has revealed details of a medical marijuana dispensary he is opening up in California. The rapper won the right to open a dispensary in Orange County after being selected by lottery, along with five others, from a list of 630 applicants. Talking to Billboard, B Real claimed that his musical background put him in a “unique position” to make the dispensary a success. He said: “I definitely want it to be eye candy, eye-popping, eye-catching, an experience. We want it to be a place where you can come get quality meds responsibly and all that stuff, but we want it to be an experience as well.” He added that he was open to the idea of live performances there, saying: “I think mini concerts in there would be good, have some artists that are legalization-friendly, like for instance Snoop Dogg [and] 2 Chainz.” B Real has certainly been putting the work in. Recently, he took third prize for “best sativa flower” in the Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, California.


MPP’s Mason Tvert Talks Tourism with “Fox & Friends” [MPP Blog]

MPP’s Mason Tvert was a guest on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends this morning to discuss a story out of Colorado regarding marijuana use and tourism.


New US Drug Czar is Better Than Predecessors [Drug Policy Alliance]

The drug czar’s office has long functioned as a cheerleader for punitive drug policies. As someone who has been engaged in drug policy reform efforts most of my adult life, I can easily recall the forcefulness with which former drug czars like John Walters and Gen. Barry McCaffrey advocated in defense of zero tolerance policies without any regard to the scientific rationale for these policies or the destructive impact they have on individuals and communities. However, under the Obama administration, the drug czar’s office has made a notable shift in rhetoric and tone. This week, U.S. Senateconfirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michael Botticelli to become the next director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position informally known as “drug czar.” Since joining ONDCP in 2012, Botticelli has served as ONDCP’s acting director and its deputy director. In the three years that he has played a leadership role in the drug czar’s office, Botticelli has demonstrated his commitment to advancing more science-based and compassionate drug policies. In public remarks, Botticelli has emphasized the need to expand treatment to people who need it, reduce stigma associated with drug use, and reduce collateral consequences following a conviction.


David Nutt: Treat patients with ecstasy, cannabis [The Scotsman]

Cannabis and ecstasy should be available for treating pat­ients in Scotland, according to one of the UK’s top psy­chiatrists.Controversial former UK drug tsar Professor David Nutt says a pioneering revamp of laws on illicit drugs could see Scotland leading a new neuroscientific enlightenment that will benefit society as a whole. “Scotland has consistently led the world in science, partic­ularly in the development of pharmaceuticals and in the philosophy of science and the brain – through Enlightenment-era thinkers like David Hume and John Stuart Mill, and now in the present day through endeavours to change drug and alcohol policy based on science rather than on simple political motives. My call for a neuroscience enlightenment resonates with this grand tradition of free thinking and could lead to much improved healthcare dev­elopments in Scotland using new treatments such as cannabis, psychedelics, MDMA and related compounds.” Nutt was famously sacked from the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs by then-Home Secretary Alan Johnson after suggesting that horse-riding was statistically more dangerous than taking ecstasy. Banning certain drugs is dep­riving patients and doctors of “extremely useful” therapies for chronic pain and illnesses including cancer, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and irritable bowel syndrome, he says.  This is because difficulty in obtaining the drugs makes it almost impossible for scientists properly to investigate their potential, thwarting dev­elopment of new treatments.


Cannabis: Promise, risk and controversy [BBC]

Cannabis is bad for you, cannabis is good for you – confused?  That’s not surprising. Complicated and controversial, cannabis is revealed by recent science to have a dual personality, with a dark side and a more positive one. Radio 4’s PM programme is this week running a whole series on cannabis, and the debate surrounding it. Key to understanding this strange plant are two of the ingredients that make it up, known by their initials as THC and CBD.  I asked Professor Val Curran of University College London to describe how they work and she came up a memorable answer: “In a way, THC and CBD are a bit like yin and yang. The THC makes you stoned, but it can also make you anxious. It can also make you feel a bit psychotic, and it will seriously impair your memory. “The other side of the yin/yang is CBD, which has almost the opposite effects. CBD calms you down, it has anti-psychotic properties and it also offsets the effects on memory, so that on CBD-containing cannabis you’re less likely to forget what’s going on.” So the first step to understanding cannabis is to realise how it can vary, how different types contain very different quantities of these polar opposites, with dramatically different outcomes.


Cannabis party called Cista launched in UK to campaign for drug law reform ahead of elections [The Independent]

A new cannabis political party has been launched in the UK in the hope to push reform of laws prohibiting sales and possession of the class B substance. Cista, which stands for Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol, wants to legalise weed as it believes that the so-called “war on drugs” has only benefited criminals by driving production and distribution underground.


Uruguay drug czar: Medical pot will cost more than recreational cannabis[Cannabist]

Uruguay is taking its time with the implementation of its legal, regulated recreational cannabis sales — something that has been delayed a number of times by the nation’s government. But now there’s a new twist to the South American country’s plan, one that will surprise legalization advocates and anti-pot opposition alike. In Uruguay, medical marijuana will cost more than recreational pot, according to multiple sources. Drug czar Julio Calzada told El Observador about the unusual price structure, and a National Drug Council spokesman confirmed the news to The Global Post. One reason that kind of pricing comes off as odd: The government would be charging more for medicine than they would drugs meant for recreational use, indicating an unusual emphasis. Another reason: It goes against everything the legalization movement has seen in the U.S., where medical prices are often half of their recreational counterparts in Colorado and Washington shops.


Patrick suffers from spastic attacks – One joint makes all the difference for him [Hemp Institute Austria]

Patrick had a car accident 10 years ago and suffers from frequent spastic attacks. Watch this video from the Hanf-Institut with English subtitles which proves in 90 seconds that cannabis is a valuable medicine. Natural cannabis is still illegal in Austria, with no exception for sufferers like Patrick. We aim to change this. Video: Spasms – without and with cannabis.This video is free for redistribution as long as you provide a link to the Hanf-Institut.


Why marijuana makes you hungry: Cannabis munchies mystery solved by Yale scientists [International Business Times]

The neurons involved in appetite suppression are the same ones that give you the “munchies” when taking marijuana, scientists have discovered. The munchies is the uncontrollable urge to eat after using cannabis. This link between cannabinoids and appetite has long been known, but exactly what happens in the brain has remained a mystery. However, scientists at the Yale School of Medicine have found a group of nerve cells called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons are responsible for the increase in appetite. Speaking to IBTimes UK, lead author Tamas Horvath said: “There is a phase – about 90 minutes into it – that all of a sudden you have this interest in food. Whatever food is in front of you – mainly sweets though – and it’s important to ask if they go hand in hand or are separate responses.” The study, published in the journal Nature, used mice to examine the brain circuitry that promotes eating by manipulating the cellular pathway that mediates the drug’s action on the brain. They ended up finding the opposite of what they expected. “We were shocked,” Horvath said. “We didn’t mean to find what we found. It was a simple controlled study where we wanted look at these neurons where we suspected they should be off, to see if they were off, and under these conditions if cannabinoids induce feeding. We found they sped up, which was a shocking surprise for us.” The researchers found that the same mechanism that normally turns off feeding becomes the driving force behind the munchies: “It’s like pressing a car’s brakes and accelerating instead,” he said. “We were surprised to find that the neurons we thought were responsible for shutting down eating, were suddenly being activated and promoting hunger, even when you are full. It fools the brain’s central feeding system.”


Frequent discrimination tied to increased substance use risk [Clinical Psychiatry News]

Perceived high levels of discrimination are associated with an increased risk of substance use and mood disorders among African American and Caribbean black adults, Trenette T. Clark, Ph.D., and associates report.  In a cross-sectional study of 4,462 respondents, Dr. Clark and associates found that adults who reported experiencing “chronic discrimination” were four times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder or illicit drug use disorder than were those who experienced “low discrimination.”


The secret ways women used pot throughout history [Fusion]

Ever wondered what it would feel like to slather a mixture of lamb’s fat and cannabis all over your naked body? The sensation was a familiar one to European women, once upon a time. While the U.S. is only now starting to explore modern medical uses of marijuana, for centuries, women around the world have harnessed the magical green leaves to relieve pain, make sex better, and even attempt to manage STDs. The jury is still out on how safe and effective these remedies were, but perhaps they’ll inspire new research into cannabis’ potential today. Here’s a quick tour through pot’s lesser-known history with the ladies.


Is Your Family’s Health Being Traded For Profit? [Bought Movie]

New BOUGHT Documentary Exposes Ugly Truth Behind Vaccines, GMO’s and Big Pharma… You’re about to see how Wall Street has literally “BOUGHT” your and your family’s health. The food, vaccine, drug, insurance and health industry are a multi-BILLION dollar enterprise… focused more on profits than human lives. The BOUGHT documentary takes viewers deep “inside the guts” of this despicable conspiracy… Featuring exclusive interviews with the world’s most acclaimed experts in research, medicine, holistic care and natural health… Bought exposes the hidden (and deadly) story behind it all.


Astronauts could grow CANNABIS on the Red Planet, hints British Mars One finalist[Mirror]

A budding British astronaut has indicated that astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars might be able to grow cannabis aboard their spaceship. Ryan MacDonald, a physics student at Oxford University, is one of five Brits named among the finalists for the Mars One mission, which will send a team on a mission to settle on the Red Planet. He suggested it may be possible to use the spacecraft’s soil-free “hydroponics” plant-growing system to grow the green stuff on Mars. The Mars One team willnot be coming back to Earth, so any spaceship will be equipped with the means to grow food – or weed.


 

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