Is money the answer to all problems? Will a big pot of cash provide the means to buy credibility in Cannabis research? How much money is spent each day on Cannabis in Australia?
The choice between paying a pharmaceutical company for drugs that are inferior, or paying a back yard healer for a herb that helps, is a decision controlled by law. Where does the money go? Spend a bit of cash to solve the problem.
The HEMP 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.
Australian couple donates $33.7 million for medical marijuana research [Mashable Australia]
A couple has made a whopping A$33.7 million donation to an Australian university for research into medical cannabis. The generous gift by Barry and Joy Lambert is the largest donation ever received by Sydney University, and the couple hopes it puts Australia at the forefront of medical cannabis research.
The grandparents of three-year-old girl with a rare form of epilepsy have made a $33.7m donation to the University of Sydney to fund medicinal cannabis research. Announcing their donation at the university on Friday, Barry and Joy Lambert said international research suggested their granddaughter Katelyn, who suffers hundreds of seizures each day, may benefit from medicinal cannabis treatment. A meeting with researchers at the university to discuss Katelyn’s condition, known as Dravet syndrome, led her family to believe that more detailed research needed to be carried out, Barry Lambert said. “Not only for the possible benefit of children with childhood epilepsy, like our Katelyn, but also for its potential benefits for a wide range of other conditions that may benefit from extensive research into the cannabis plant,” he said.
New South Wales is leading the world with its $12m medicinal cannabis research centre, the state’s premier, Mike Baird, says. The centre for medicinal cannabis research and innovation will be headed up by the NSW chief scientist, Mary O’Kane. It will seek to enable experts to share their world-class research and support the production of safe, reliable and affordable cannabis-based medicines. “All of us have been moved by the stories we have seen, people who are suffering in all types of situations and circumstances and there is clear anecdotal evidence medical cannabis is making a difference,” Baird said outside Blacktown hospital on Sunday. “We have said let’s get the best minds in the country working on this and that’s what the NSW centre of medical cannabis will do. It is clear that NSW is leading not only the nation, the Asia Pacific and indeed the world in this.” The centre will receive $12m over four years. It will work alongside partners such as the Lambert Initiative, which was established on Friday thanks to a $33.7m gift to University of Sydney from Barry and Jo Lambert. Their eyes were opened to the possibilities of medicinal cannabis through their granddaughter who suffers debilitating epilepsy.
Medicinal cannabis advocate to speak at Nimbin gathering [EchoNet Daily]
Paul Lawrence believes he is the luckiest man alive despite having had a tumour the size of a football removed from his spine. Mr Lawrence will be in the Nimbin Town Hall on Saturday 20 June to share his story of surviving two operations, over 20 hours each, to replace three vertebrae in his spine with other pieces of bone from his body. But the main thrust of his story will be how he has used cannabis to treat pain, where pharmaceutical drugs had failed.
Victoria to legalise medicinal marijuana [The Age]
A bill to legalise medical marijuana could be put to Victoria’s parliament before the end of next year, with the Labor government determined to reform the state’s drug laws. Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that the Victorian Law Reform Commission had been asked to submit a report in August next year to determine not if, but when and how the laws should change to allow terminally and chronically ill people access to medicinal marijuana. “It is my hope to have the bills into Victorian parliament before the end of the year,” Mr Andrews said on Friday.
A piece of Nimbin museum history finds a permanent home [Northern Star]
A piece of Nimbin’s iconic museum, which was destroyed by fire in August 2014, has found a home in the Lismore Regional Gallery. A photograph by internationally renowned photographer Laurence Aberhart has been acquired for the Gallery’s permanent collection capturing the essence of the Nimbin museum, thanks to a generous donation from the Trustees at Linnaeus Estate, Byron Bay. Gallery Director, Brett Adlington said the photograph depicts the Nimbin Museum from the inside where it housed an important historical record of the town’s counterculture dating back more than 40 years. “The landmark building was an icon of Nimbin, positively ramshackle on the outside and an endless maze of expressionistic activity within,” he said. Laurence Aberhart documented the Nimbin Museum during his residency at Linnaeus Estate in 2013.
Cannabis & Pain Study [University of Sydney]
CANNABIS USE AND PAIN EXPERIMENT. RECRUITING NOW!! Cannabis has been anecdotally linked to pain relief for centuries but little is known about the biology of cannabis and pain. In this study we aim to explore how cannabis use affects the body’s pain circuitry by comparing pain sensitivity between two groups of people:
Group 1: Non-cannabis using volunteers, and
Group 2: Regular cannabis users (for at least the last 2 years).
- You need to be at least 18 years of age
- Be a regular cannabis user (for the cannabis using group)
- Be prepared to submerge your hand into a cold bucket of icy water for up to 3 minutes
- Be willing to give blood samples to aid in interpreting differences in the biology of pain reactivity.
A white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporter accused of running a large cannabis plantation is suspected of selling his product to members of an Indigenous community in north Queensland, say police. John Lee, who came to police attention through his suspected links to the Rebels motorcycle club, was charged with cannabis cultivation after a raid in Cooktown allegedly found him with 206 plants and 2kg of bagged cannabis. The 49-year-old has a 10cm by 10cm swastika tattooed on his head and police found his large shed festooned with Nazi flags and at least 19 swastikas – including one on a wall fan – alongside confederate flags commonly associated with the Rebels gang. Inspector Brendan Smith of gang squad Maxima told Guardian Australia that police will allege Lee had sold cannabis to local Indigenous people, “which is quite interesting given he’s a white supremacist”.
Victorian authorities are failing to regulate potentially lethal forms of synthetic cannabis that are marked as “not for human consumption” and sold legally over the counter. The products, sold under names including Purple Haze, Blue Lotus or Train Wreck, have been linked to the deaths of three young people in Victoria. Toxicologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Dr Dimitri Gerostaloumos, said the inability to trace the chemicals meant it was unclear how many more deaths could also be linked to the products. “This is probably one of the greatest challenges for toxicologists, not only locally but internationally,” Dr Gerostamoulos said. “There are no clinical studies, no scientific literature associated with some of these compounds — and there are 300–400 of them — which makes it very difficult for toxicologists to detect.”
On thin ice [ABC]
The treatment situation in Australia is in stark contrast to measures taken by New Zealand, which in 2001 had one of the highest rates of ice use in the world—more than double Australia’s current rate. The head of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Ross Bell, told Background Briefing the New Zealand government initially further criminalised ice use, increasing sentences for drug dealers, investing more in customs control and banning the chemicals which are used for making methamphetamine, but that this ‘war on drugs’ approach didn’t work. When in 2009 the New Zealand government invested in treatment for addicts, the number of users started to drop. Today, New Zealand’s rate of meth use is half that of Australia. ‘We were able to make some real progress on meth because the underfunded treatment sector suddenly got resources that it should’ve always had,’ said Bell. ‘I’m really hopeful that one of the lessons Australia learns from the New Zealand experience is to put the health interventions, invest in health as a first rather than a last.’
The NZ teenager at the centre of a medicinal cannabis case has opened his eyes as doctors start to wean him off his sedation drugs. Rose Renton told ONE News her son is responding to voices as medical staff prepare him for the cannabis oil treatment which should arrive from the United States today. She says it will then take a few more days to see what the cannabis oil treatment does. Doctors treating Alex were given approval by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne earlier this week for the one-off use of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product from the United States.
Rick Ross arrested on misdemeanour marijuana charge [The Guardian]
Rick Ross may call himself the boss but that doesn’t mean he’s above the law. The rapper was arrested on Wednesday 10 June on a misdemeanour marijuana possession charge in Georgia, according to both Billboard and local Atlanta news station WSB-TV. Ross was allegedly in his car on a highway when he was stopped by a police officer for a window tint violation. The officer smelled marijuana in the car when Ross rolled down one of the offending windows, according to WSB-TV, and later uncovered five marijuana cigarettes in the Bentley. Ross was charged with one traffic violation and booked on one count of marijuana possession at Georgia’s Fayette county jail, and was “very cooperative” after the arrest, a Sherriff’s office spokesperson confirmed to Billboard. Perhaps his past as a corrections officer in his home state of Florida has given Ross an insight into life on both sides of the justice system’s counter. Billboard reported that Ross was likely to make bail quickly, and as of 7am BST on Thursday 11 June, he was back on Twitter with “hood billionaire” wisdom to impart.
The main anxiety small farmers in Humboldt expressed has a rational basis: A legal pot industry could very easily be dominated by big-time corporate producers that squeeze small farmers out of the business. In an unfettered free market (which some legalization activists favor), most of the small farmers in Humboldt would be out of work in no time. But how legalization is implemented can influence whether big corporations become dominant. The planned Ohio marijuana initiative is an example of the kind of corporate giveaway that would destroy the Humboldt farmers overnight: Ten rich investors are campaigning for all legal marijuana to be grown by just ten rich people (you will never guess which ten…). In contrast, the Washington State system issues many growing licenses with a cap on the size of grows, which allows small farmers a fair shot at becoming part of the legal industry. What California does regarding legalization is in the hands of the initiative writers and the voters, but any initiative that doesn’t make room for small cannabis farmers will surely encounter heavy resistance in Humboldt County.
Cannabis consumption is cause to be fired in Colorado, the state’s supreme court has ruled, despite the drug’s legal status and the appeal of a quadriplegic man who was fired for using medical marijuana. Six judges unanimously ruled that Brandon Coats was lawfully fired for failing a drug test in 2010. Coats’s former employer, Dish Network, agrees that he was never intoxicated while at work, but maintains a “zero-tolerance” drug policy. The case sets one of the first precedents for the uncertain status of marijuana around the country: a handful of states have legalized recreational marijuana, more than 20 have legalized medical marijuana under various conditions, but the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal Schedule-1 drug, alongside heroin and ecstasy. “There is no exception for marijuana use for medicinal purposes, or for marijuana use conducted in accordance with state law,” the court wrote. Under Colorado’s “lawful activities statute”, justice Allison Eid wrote in the opinion, “the term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute.”
My sympathies to all of the soon-to-be unemployed cannabis users in Colorado. Thanks to the wisdom of the Colorado Supreme Court, you can be firedfrom your job if you test positive for cannabis – even if you only get high on your day off and are a quadriplegic medical cannabis patient. Coloradolegalized medical cannabis 15 years ago and recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado since 2012. But that doesn’t matter. Test positive for cannabis, and your employers are well within their rights to fire you. The court ruled specifically that because cannabis is illegal under federal law, cannabis patients have no right to consume cannabis while they are off the clock. Pshaw. Whatever happened to personal freedom and small government? I’m still trying to figure out how the Colorado Supreme Court could let this happen. Maybe they don’t know that it’s possible to test positive for cannabis even when you aren’t stoned? Maybe they don’t know that Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island and Arizona, all have job protection laws for medical cannabis users. Also, do people that have prescriptions for other medicines, like Percocet or Klonopin, or Vicodin or Oxycontin get fired for having traces of those drugs in their system without a valid prescription? No, of course not: most places don’t even test for it, as it would violate your medical privacy.
10 Unique Cannabis Products You Have to Try [Colorado Pot Guide]
Marijuana’s new found legal status in certain parts of the nation has opened up the doors of opportunity for thousands of companies and entrepreneurs. No longer bound by a black market status, marijuana cultivators and product manufacturers are blazing new ground by creating unique, cannabis-infused products for an eager audience. Cannabis flower and edibles aside, these unique marijuana-infused products are sure to help you live the high life: Lotions, patches, bath salts, acne treatment, shampoo, lip balm, personal lubricant, toothpaste, toothpicks, and coffee pods.
There is new research on the use of marijuana as medicine in Colorado and a Marijuana and Health Symposium at National Jewish Health on Saturdayexplored nearly a dozen studies looking at using pot for things like seizures and insomnia. “I’d rather be illegally alive than legally dead,” said 15-year-old Coltyn Turner. Four times a day Coltyn takes his medicine. It’s cannabis oil used to treat his Crohn’s disease, an illness he’s been fighting since age 11, and up until last year it looked like a battle he was losing. “I was just on every pharmaceutical there was out there until I would up in a wheelchair,” Coltyn said. “He got sick and we had no other options,” Coltyn’s mother Wendy Turner said. Desperate for a miracle his parents moved him from the Midwest to Colorado in 2014 and turned to cannabis oil. “We thought, ‘Well, why not try?’ And it worked,” Wendy said. Their case was just one shared at National Jewish Health’s Marijuana and Health Symposium. “We are very proud of this program in terms of the potential,” said Ken Gershman with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said. Gershman says nine current and upcoming studies are looking at marijuana as a treatment for illnesses stretching from insomnia and inflammatory bowel disease to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Why patients’ stories matter from the CORE Marijuana Health Symposium [Cannabis Patients Alliance]
There are good days, and then there are really good days. Days when you think you’ve made an impact. Days that hover on the edge of greatness. For me, yesterday was one of those days. I was a presenter at the CORE Marijuana and Health Symposium at National Jewish. As the only one speaking without some sort of medical degree, I was very nervous. But I knew that I could speak to something nobody else on the agenda could: my experience as a patient talking with patients and other people about cannabis, and as a member of the Scientific Advisory Council who reviewed these grants. A news crew from local CBS Channel 4 was on the scene and did an excellent and compelling interview and report on Coltyn Turner, mentioned in my presentation and in attendance at the event. I can’t begin to express my respect and appreciation for this family and their willingness to share their story for the benefit of all patients.
While much of America is still stuck in a “Reefer Madness” mindset, the world of science has offered us a number of advancements regarding cannabis. Kalel Santiago of Puerto Rico is only nine-years-old, but he has already endured a lifetime of suffering. When Kalel was ten months old, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. After two years of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a triumphant victory over his cancer, Kalel was diagnosed with severe, nonverbal autism. “While he was in the hospital, we noticed he didn’t speak at all and had some behavior that wasn’t right, like hand flapping, and walking on his toes,” Kalel’s father, Abiel Gomez Santiago, told Yahoo Parenting. “But we waited until he was 3 and cancer-free to look at his behavior.” Over the years, Kalel’s parents tried various schools and therapies, including a surf-therapy school near their home with which they found some success. Ultimately, they discovered a treatment that would be life-altering: hemp oil, which Yahoo Parenting notes has been shown to ease symptoms of epilepsy and autism. The family took home a sample bottle of cannabidiol spray and began administering doses by mouth twice daily. After only two days, something miraculous happened: Kalel spoke for the first time in his life. Kalel’s continued improvements have even managed to shock Hemp Health, the company that produces the oil. “We were really amazed to hear Kalel’s progress, because what they are using is a lower-concentrate product,” said Miguel Feliciano, president of Hemp Health’s Puerto Rico distributor, Antonio & Associates. Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist who worked with Kalel at the surf-therapy school, is also amazed by the boy’s progress. “Like his parents, I am also in shock,” he told Yahoo.
Clients of a California marijuana dispensary have filed a lawsuit accusing police officers of excessive and unconstitutional actions during a raid last month. The suit was filed by attorney Matthew Pappas on behalf of Sky High Holistic, a nonprofit marijuana collective, against the city of Santa Ana, mayor Miguel Pulido and nearly a dozen other employees. The lawsuit also alleges the city showed favoritism in its system of awarding medical marijuana licenses. Surveillance video from the 26 May raid on Sky High shows police officers playing darts and one officer making demeaning remarks about a woman in a wheelchair with an amputated leg. Another officer can be seen eating what appears to be a pot-laced edible, according to Pappas, who released the video from the dispensary’s security camera to local media outlets OC Weekly and Voice of OC. According to the suit, officers caused more than $100,000 in damage to video surveillance equipment, safes, furniture, doors and other property during the raid.
US Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to Prevent DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws [Drug Policy Alliance]
In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted today by 21 to 9 to approve an amendment offered by Senator Mikulski (D-MD) to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration. The amendment mirrors one that passed the House last week 242-186, and was sponsored by Rep Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep Farr (D-CA). “What we’re witnessing today are the death throes of the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Michael Collins, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Last week the House sent a resounding message to the DEA and DOJ – stop the interference and let states legalize medical marijuana. Today, the Senate echoed that message.”
The spread of marijuana legalization in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska over the past few years means that more Americans can now legally buy and sell pot — but this has also given rise to a for-profit industry that may not have public health in mind. As legalization opponents and drug policy experts put it, this new massive industry will mimic the worst parts of the tobacco and alcohol businesses, marketing marijuana to heavy drug users and encouraging more use and abuse — outcomes that even staunch legalization advocates wouldn’t like. But while the commercialization of pot will cause new and sometimes unknown public health concerns, they pale in comparison to the United States’ prohibitionist regime, which has led to a sharp increase in pot-possession arrests — and a black market for illegal drugs that empowers drug cartels to commit violent acts in Latin America.
No evidence that medical marijuana legalisation leads to increased use in teenagers, says study[Independent]
A nationwide study in the United States has found no evidence that legalising the use of marijuana for medical purposes leads to increased use among teenagers. The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal showed no significant difference in adolescent marijuana use in 21 states with medical marijuana laws before or after implementation of these laws. In the study, Dr Deborah Hasin, Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Centre and colleagues examined the relationship between the legalisation of medical marijuana and adolescent marijuana use by looking at survey data from over a million students aged 13-18, between 1991 and 2014.
Medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally use all forms of the drug, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled. Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana, not only smoke it. Cannabis oil is now permitted instead of only “dried” marijuana, meaning people can bake it into food products. The case began in 2009 when a baker from the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada was charged with trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana. Former head baker of the club Owen Smith was caught baking 200 pot cookies, CBC reports. A British Columbia judge acquitted Mr Smith and gave Canada’s government a year to change laws around extracting marijuana. The case then wound up in the Supreme Court.
Ambrose ire all smoke, no fire [Vancouver Observer]
Rona Ambrose, Stephen Harper’s Minister of Health was “outraged” last Thursday by the Supreme Court of Canada when it approved oral ingestion of cannabis by other means than simply smoking it. And then she unanimously said that imposing this view on the Canadian public, in the restrained language of the courts, was “arbitrary” and therefore unconstitutional and void. Rona Ambrose is angry because the Supreme Court is making law that she disagrees with — but which most Canadians would accept as sensible. Frankly, if this government could calm down and be more logical then nobody would have to go to the Supreme Court in the first place. But since Ambrose is part of a government that negates all science except the science it approves of, where is a citizen to turn if not to the court system?
The Fight For Medicinal Cannabis Reaches The House of Lords [Peter Reynolds Blog]
Sometime after 3.00pm, tomorrow, Wednesday, 17th June 2015, Baroness Molly Meacher will ask a question in the House of Lords on the re-scheduling of cannabis to permit it to be prescribed by doctors for medicinal use. Watch it here on Parliament TV. Behind this is a report ‘Regulating Cannabis for Medical Use in the UK’, authored by Professor Val Curran of UCL and Frank Warburton of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform (APPG). This sets out an argument for moving cannabis from schedule one to schedule two or three, enabling doctors to prescribe it and facilitating further research on its therapeutic properties. It also endorses the central theme of CLEAR’s medicinal cannabis campaign – that UK doctors should be permitted to prescribe products from Bedrocan, the medicinal cannabis producer regulated by the Dutch government.
So why the decline in Cannabis use? [Cannabis Law Reform UK]
A couple of weeks ago the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction published a report on the rates of drug use in Europe (European Drug Report 2015: Trends and Developments) which contained an interesting snippet of information: Cannabis use in the UK is dropping and has been for the past 15 years. The reaction on CLEAR’s Facebook page was close to outrage with many people saying how it couldn’t be true because everyone they knew smoked, but perhaps it’s worth taking stock. Sadly there is little if any hard data to be able to study long term trends along with everything else to do with cannabis thanks to the workings of prohibition. Also it is important to remember those who denied the claims on our facebook page may not be wrong. Because of the workings of prohibition in truth no-one really knows what’s going on, there simply can never be accurate studies made of any illegal activity and it is as true now as ever: Most cannabis users don’t get caught and so never show on statistics.
Mexican authorities confiscate 41 tonnes of marijuana [The Telegraph UK]
Mexican authorities confiscated 41.6 tonnes of marijuana Saturday on the outskirts of Tijuana a major transit point for the US market. The marijuana was wrapped in individual bundles marked with different symbols. Gabriel Garcia, a General from the operation said “we are considering that these drugs were destined for different markets depending on the symbol that each bundle has. We believe that these drugs that these drugs normally comes from Sinaloa which is a state where criminals produce marijuana.”
The Use of Marijuana in the Rastafari Religion [Points Blog]
So how did ganja come to play such an important role within the Rastafari religion? Rastas believe that the Tree of Life mentioned in the Bible is the marijuana plant and that several other biblical passages further promote its use, such as “Thou shalt eat the herb of the field” (Genesis 3:18), “Eat every herb of the land” (Exodus 10:12) and “The herb is the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Despite what many think, Rastas actually condemn the use of marijuana simply to get high. Instead, it is usually used within religious ceremonies in a highly ritualised manner in order to enhance feelings of unity and help generate visions of a spiritual and soothing nature. Rastafari “reasoning sessions” are religious meetings that involve group meditation, and marijuana is used to help the follower go into a trance-like state. The marijuana is usually smoked in a pipe (or “chalice”) and a short prayer is always recited before it is smoked.
Richmond is about as far as you can go before you leave Sydney’s metropolitan area. It sits right in the middle of what the cops call the “meth belt.” This semi-rural area provides wide-open spaces, to the point where meth laboratories largely go unnoticed. It’s also where the NSW police have their Crime Scene Investigation Training Facility. Here, police trainees can investigate simulated crime scenes. They even have their own mock ice lab. On Monday, NSW police took us on a tour through their fake Breaking Bad operation. Detective Inspector Michael Cook, head of the NSW Police Drug Squad’s Chemical Operations Team, talked us through the steps of a crystal methamphetamine cook. This fake meth lab is used for training interstate police, as each state has a very different ice market, with distinct production methods. Cook outlined that in NSW, it is mainly commercial operations using the hypophosphorous method, in Western Australia the highly dangerous “Nazi” method is employed, whereas in Queensland it’s mainly small addict-based labs, producing for a group of friends.
Grafton, Parklea to house 1,000 new prison beds to deal with growing inmate population, NSW Government says [ABC]
A new jail will be built in Grafton and Sydney’s Parklea jail will be expanded under a plan to deal with New South Wales’ rapidly growing prison population. The announcement follows a significant downgrade of Grafton’s existing prison several years ago, and would lead to the delivery of 1,000 extra prison beds, Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy Grant said. He said the state’s prison population was reaching capacity at about 11,600, and a record $1.2 billion would be included in next week’s state budget to address a critical need for expansions and upgrades. Recent changes to bail laws had contributed to the pressure on the system by keeping more people in custody while they were before the courts, Mr Grant said.