HEMP Embassy Headlines 161


Extreme Healthcare

Cannabis will go to retrial under tight security. Charged with ‘Causing moral perversion’, the plant remains in custody until the case reopens in a NSW hospital. The prosecution is confident that there will be enough evidence to justify continuing; The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, The NSW Police – Cannabis Eradication Unit and the budget for law enforcement.

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.

Medical cannabis trial: First details revealed [Sydney Morning Herald]

Thirty terminally ill people being cared for by Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital will take part in a new trial of medical cannabis, the government announced on Monday. University of NSW researchers will work with the hospital patients to examine what effects vapourised cannabis leaves and a form of pharmaceutical cannabis medication will have on people who are dying of cancer and suffering symptoms including fatigue, nausea and insomnia. Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward announced on Monday that the trial would be undertaken by palliative care specialist Meera Agar, who is also a conjoint associate professor at the University of NSW.

Australian-first medical cannabis trial begins in Hunter [Hunter Medical Research Institute]

The Hunter will be the initial recruitment hub for Australia’s first medical cannabis trial for terminally ill adults, following an announcement by Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward today. This trial is part of the NSW Government’s $9 million commitment to support medical cannabis clinical trials. Mr Baird said the first trial will play a critical role in helping to better understand what role medical cannabis can play in alleviating symptoms and pain in terminally ill patients. “We do not want patients or carers having to play pharmacist – that is why it is so important to explore the safest and most effective ways we can deliver compassionate care and improve the quality of life,” Mr Baird said. “Our trials will help to position NSW at the forefront of world-class research in this area and explore how we can complement the existing palliative care treatments and therapies patients receive.” Ms Goward said this first trial will be conducted by a research team led by the University of New South Wales’ Chief Investigator Associate Professor Meera Agar, working with a University of Newcastle/HMRI clinical pharmacology team based at the Calvary Mater Newcastle. That team is headed by Professor Jennifer Martin and Professor Stephen Ackland.

Cannabis research list (download) [Cannabis Medical World]

Do we hear politicians repeating the same lies?   “We need more studies.” Here are more studies than you can shake a stick at, as my Granny used to say.  Next time you hear some professional liar using this tactic, call them out.  Say, “We have over 15,000 studies on cannabis.  Have you read any of them?”  “Would you like the list?  I will bring it to your office.”  (then show up with the media in tow)  Then you can ask another question as you hand over the 1,000 pages: “Can you read?” This is a HUGE pdf file.  You can download the ZIP file using this link.

How a young man changed my mind on cannabis [Daily Telegraph]

There are some things that stay with you no matter how much time passes. Almost a year ago, I met a young man named Dan Haslam, and the look in his eyes that day is something that will remain with me always.  Dan was 23, planning a future with his wife Alyce; to have children and to start a hobby farm. He wanted to talk to me about the use of medical cannabis and what a difference it had made in his battle with cancer. Cannabis oil had allowed him to eat again and gain weight — something that felt a little like a miracle after chemotherapy had robbed him of his appetite. I soon found out a similar miracle had taken place just a little north from the Haslams in the Stevens household. Their daughter Deisha has a rare form of epilepsy that causes frequent seizure. Conventional medicine did not help. When they started her on cannabis oil they saw almost immediate results. There are few things more humbling than being faced with a parent prepared to do absolutely anything for their child. I saw it with Dan’s parents, Lucy and Lou Haslam, and with Deisha’s parents. Dan’s own dreams of a family and a farm will never be realised. I said my goodbyes to him earlier this year, standing in the dry grass of Tamworth along with his friends and family. But his legacy lives on and this week I am proud to launch Australia’s first medical cannabis trial for terminally ill patients. This is about hope and it is about compassion. Every step we take on medical cannabis will be built on the footsteps Dan left behind — this week we are taking an enormous leap forward.

Senators give medical marijuana the green light [Sydney Morning Herald]

Senators from across the political divide will endorse a bill to legalise medical marijuana despite warnings it could create a regulatory nightmare. Fairfax Media can reveal that a committee made up of Coalition, Labor and crossbench senators will strongly recommend that Parliament pass a cross-party bill to set up a medical marijuana regulator. Spearheaded by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale​, the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug. The bill was introduced into Parliament last November and sent to a committee in February. After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10. Sources say the committee will back the bill despite strong concerns from the Health Department. In its submission to the committee, the department said the bill would set up a new regulatory system that would create “complexity and uncertainty” and potentially clash with the Therapeutic Goods Act. Senator Di Natale last month conceded there were obstacles to the bill but insisted none of them were insurmountable. He pointed out other countries had managed to legalise medical marijuana without falling foul of the single convention, and said Australia could do the same.

Australia may legalize medical marijuana in August – report [RT]

A Senate committee representing all Australia’s major parties is preparing a Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill to legalize medical marijuana, despite warnings of regulatory complications with both Australian and international law, a report says. Today, over two-thirds of Australians support the idea of medical marijuana use and only 9 percent oppose it, a recent survey by Palliative Care Australia has found. The leader of Australia Greens, Richard Di Natale, initiated the bill in November last year. The committee received the bill in February and after conducting public hearings and attracting nearly 200 public submissions, it is set to present its report on August 10. The federal regulator will have the authority to oversee all matters of cannabis use, specifically production, distribution and medical use nationwide. “I can understand why someone like Medicines Australia might be opposed,” senator Di Natale said last month. “It doesn’t conform to the model of a traditional pharmaceutical and some people would argue it is a competitor.” Establishing a federal regulator is needed to overcome limitations of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which markets pharmaceutical products and doesn’t issue approval for herbal medicines, Di Natale said. Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed support for the bill last year, saying, “I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.”

Australia Next To Legalise Medical Marijuana In August [Unilad UK]

Australia could be the next nation to legalise medical marijuana as senators from all the major political parties are set to endorse a bill giving cannabis the green light. Led by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale​, a committee made up of Coalition, Labor and cross-bench senators will strongly recommend that Parliament pass the bill to set up a medical marijuana regulator. The Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug Down Under. After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10. As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, sources say the committee will back the bill despite strong concerns from the Health Department about potential clashes with existing acts – the Therapeutic Goods Act and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Health Department secretary Martin Bowles warned the bill leaves important legal and practical issues unidentified or unresolved, which he believes could lead “to the risk of regulatory gap, overlapping laws and a lack of clarity about the exercise of jurisdiction by agencies and possible inconsistency with other existing laws”. But sources say the department is just “flexing its muscles” because it doesn’t like the idea of an independent regulator it cannot control.

Medical marijuana: it’s time for Australian reform [Labor Herald]

The therapeutic benefits of cannabis for cancer, epileptics and multiple sclerosis patients requires major reform, allowing marijuana to be treated as a medicinal product rather than recreational drug. Australia’s existing regulation of cannabis needs reform to allow the drug to be used to treat medical pain and nausea, Shadow Assistant Health Minister Stephen Jones told Labor’s 47th National Conference today. Several states and territories, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, have taken significant steps when it comes to unlocking the medical benefits of this drug – but the commonwealth is missing in action. “There is evidence to show that medical cannabis can reduce the pain and nausea associated with cancer treatment. It may also help with controlling epileptic fits, multiple sclerosis, nausea associated with chemotherapy and other conditions,” the media release said. “But right now cannabis medicines can’t be prescribed by doctors. We need scientific verification and approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.” Cannabis should be treated like any other medicinal product and today’s resolution at National Conference is a vital step forward. The truth is, neither state nor commonwealth governments can go it alone. “We need commonwealth leadership to deal with the complex overlay of state and federal laws that deal with registration of medicines, cultivation, supply and use of prohibited drugs,” the release said. The registration of medicines is almost the exclusive domain of the commonwealth through theTherapeutic Goods Act. Possession, supply, trafficking and use of cannabis is prohibited in all states and territories by Crimes and Poisons Acts and replicated in commonwealth laws. Labor believes in a national approach based on medical science, not prejudice.

Medical marijuana one step closer in Queensland [The Age]

Medical marijuana is one step closer in Queensland after New South Wales announced its first adult trials with the drug will begin next year. Queensland announced it would join with NSW in decriminalising cannabis for medical use earlier this year, after previously taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the issue. The first of three trials will begin next year with about 30 adults at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital. Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said it was “an important step forward” and hoped to soon be able to provide relief to parents of children with conditions such as epilepsy. “Our commitment as a state is to support the use of medical cannabis for children with drug resistant severe epilepsy, we hope that will follow shortly after what is happening in NSW at the moment,” he said. “We are working with NSW in the development of those trials, but this is an important step forward in the important work that needs to be done, to make sure that medical cannabis is both safe and effective and when it comes to children, we need to be very careful that any drug and pharmaceutical that is used, is safe and effective and has limited side effects – hopefully no side effects at all.” But there is no time line as to when that will happen as yet. “We are working through that, hopefully that will be in 2016 as well,” he said. “But our commitment was to work in partnership with NSW, as Victoria’s partnership was, but this is an important thing in Queensland to know.  Work is happening, and that we are going into this important work to finalise those important trials.” The announcement of the trial saw Mr Dick deliberately front up to the pre-Cabinet doorsteps to speak to media in stark contrast to his colleagues, who have continued their avoidance of the tradition.

Petition Update: I promised Dan [Change.org]

29 Jul 2015 — I promised Dan before he passed away I would continue his fight until medicinal cannabis is decriminalised & accessible. But I need your help now to make that a reality. It’s just 2 weeks until a new law could be voted on that would regulate and effectively decriminalise medicinal cannabis for terminally ill patients.  Last year Tony Abbott said he ‘had no problem’ with medicinal cannabis – but so far hasn’t declared support for this new law. We could miss this biggest chance in our history to make medicinal cannabis a reality if he doesn’t show leadership now. Can you help urge him to publicly declare his support for passing this new law today? Leave a comment on one of his posts on Facebook to grab attention of his advisors:https://www.facebook.com/TonyAbbottMP Or leave a phone message with his office saying you hope he’ll back the medicinal cannabis bill: (02) 6277 7700 I’m ramping up this campaign over the next two weeks. I really hope you’re with me. So many terminally ill patients need this reform, and delays will only continue needless suffering.

Personal choice and community impacts [Parliament of Australia]

On 25 June 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into personal choice and community impacts to the Senate Economics References Committee for inquiry and report by 13 June 2016.  Submissions close 24 August 2015. Terms of reference:The economic and social impact of legislation, policies or Commonwealth guidelines, with particular reference to:

  1. the sale and use of tobacco, tobacco products, nicotine products, and e-cigarettes, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
  2. the sale and service of alcohol, including any impact on crime and the health, enjoyment and finances of drinkers and non-drinkers;
  3. the sale and use of marijuana and associated products, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
  4. bicycle helmet laws, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of cyclists and non-cyclists;
  5. the classification of publications, films and computer games; and
  6. any other measures introduced to restrict personal choice ‘for the individual’s own good’.

A Week on Drugs [ABC]

We’re lifting the lid on one of the most pressing issues in today’s society: drugs. This is a collection of stories from Australia and around the world, taking a look at the costs, the consequences and the continuing allure associated with drugs.

Decriminalising drugs [ABC]

In Australia we often hear our politicians talking about the War on Drugs – where the government cracks down and creates harsh penalties for users and dealers, putting people in prison. But that isn’t the only way to deal with the problem. In 2001, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One per cent of the population was addicted to heroin. They decided to decriminalise drugs completely, and instead of giving harsh penalties for drug users – they gave them a way out. Anyone found with an amount deemed less than 10 days use [one gram of heroin, 25 grams of marijuana leaves, five grams of hashish, 1 gram of MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamines (speed and meth)] are usually let off without a penalty.

‘Exciting’ development in medicinal cannabis debate [Stuff NZ]

Medical cannabis campaigner Rose Renton says news cannabis spray is to be considered for public funding is “exciting”. Pharmac, the agency responsible for deciding which medicines get subsidised, plans to discuss the Sativex spray with its primary clinical advisory committee, the New Zealand Herald reported. In April Nelson teen Alex Renton was hospitalised for seizures. His family campaigned for him to be given medicinal cannabis and in June he was prescribed Elixinol, a cannabidiol. Alex died on July 1 in Wellington Hospital. When the oil was approved for use in June, Alex was the first person in New Zealand to receive the cannabidiol in hospital.

Historical Medical Cannabis Policy Briefing [Scoop NZ]

United Patients Group, the leading medical cannabis information and education site, disclosed their participation in a history-making policy briefing held last week in Wellington, New Zealand with key members of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, United In Compassion New Zealand, world-renowned researchers and leading medical cannabis physicians. United Patients Group will act in an ongoing advisory and consultative capacity to the New Zealand working group in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to further explore and initiate potential phase 1 medical trials to examine cannabis as a possible therapeutic treatment in New Zealand. The esteemed invitation-only panel are made up of experts from across the medical cannabis care pathway and included New Zealand and Australian participants, along with several key experts from the United States, including United Patients Group. John Malanca, founder of United Patients Group commented, “We are honored to be a part of such a ground-breaking and historic effort and are incredibly impressed that the New Zealand government has listened to its constituents and are making a concerted effort to explore thoughtfully and swiftly the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Allows Marijuana Legalization to Move Forward in Nation’s Capital[Drug Policy Alliance]

A key US Senate committee passed a bill today allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries. These are just two of several marijuana reforms advancing in Congress.  Meanwhile sentencing reform is gaining steam, and the U.S. is shifting towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. “The stage has been set to end the federal government’s failed war on marijuana,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “A bi-partisan consensus has emerged in favor of reform.” Last November nearly 72% of D.C. voters approved a ballot measure making it legal to possess and grow marijuana for personal use. The campaign to pass Initiative 71 was driven by public demands to end racially-biased enforcement of marijuana laws and was seen as the first step at taking marijuana out of the illicit market. A broad base of community support from multiple civil rights organizations, faith leaders and community advocacy groups supported Initiative 71, viewing it as an opportunity to restore the communities most harmed by the war on drugs. After a political tug-of-war House Republican leadership was able to push through a controversial spending amendment that prohibited D.C. from legalizing and regulating marijuana sales, but the amendment allowed Initiative 71 to take effect. Thus, it is legal to possess, use, and grow marijuana in the nation’s capital but the sale of marijuana remains illicit and unregulated. D.C. officials, police, and drug policy experts have complained that Congress is undermining public safety by preventing the city from regulating marijuana, with some calling the situation “the dealer protection act.”

Marijuana Overdose Through Pot Edibles A Cause For Concern, Says CDC [International Business Times]

Days after an investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment determined that marijuana intoxication was the chief contributing factor in the death of a 19-year-old teenager in the state last year, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement calling for clear labels and limited portion sizes of marijuana edibles. The teen, identified as Levy Thamba Pongi — an exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo — died in March last year when he jumped off a balcony on the fourth floor of his building after consuming a marijuana cookie containing 65 milligrams (mg) of Tetrahydrocannabinol — the active ingredient in marijuana — which was over six times the recommended serving size of 10 mg of THC. “This case illustrates a potential danger associated with recreational edible marijuana use,” the CDC said, in the statement. “Although the decedent in this case was advised against eating multiple servings at one time, he reportedly consumed all five of the remaining servings of the THC-infused cookie within 30–60 minutes after the first serving, suggesting a need for improved public health messaging to reduce the risk for overconsumption of THC.” According to the CDC, edible marijuana products, such as cookies,  brownies and candies, account for approximately 45 percent of Colorado’s marijuana sales. Because absorption of THC is slower when ingested — compared to when it’s smoked — people tend to consume multiple servings before they start experiencing the “high” from the initial serving. “Consuming a large dose of THC can result in a higher THC concentration, greater intoxication, and an increased risk for adverse psychological effects,” the CDC said, in the statement.

10 Reasons Why Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition is about to Go Up in Smoke [Huffington Post]

When I first opened the D.C. office for Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in 2006, to bring representation of medical marijuana patients to our nation’s capitol, I was told by many it was not worth the effort.  A quick skim of the political landscape back then showed we would be facing a steep slope. Sure, twelve states had passed medical marijuana laws and  80% of Americans supported medical cannabis access, but the federal government refused to admit that medical cannabis patients existed.  The talking points from federal agencies were always “there is no such thing as medical marijuana,” and most members of Congress were paralyzed by fears of backlash or were dug into to refer madness. Flash forward 9 years…(and $500,000, 000 dollars of anti-medical cannabis federal enforcement later) and for the first time, we have comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in both the U.S. House and Senate. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS) Act of 2015 is the most comprehensive piece of federal medical marijuana legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress. This important bill would remedy the state-federal conflict over medical marijuana law, with far-reaching impacts, including:

  • Allowing state programs to continue without federal interference
  • Moving marijuana out of the Schedule I list
  • Removing CBD from the scheduling
  • Creating access to banking services for legal marijuana businesses
  • Ending the DEA-Imposed NIDA monopoly that blocks research
  • Allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to write recommendations in states that have a medical marijuana program.

Nine years ago, even I might have been pessimistic about passing a comprehensive marijuana reform bill through Congress. But, as previously impossible victories keep mounting I am confident we can do this.

Republicans are softening their stance on marijuana [MSN]

Attitudes in Washington may be shifting in favor of easing marijuana restrictions as health and business benefits become more apparent, but there are still major legislative obstacles ahead. Three bills that have been introduced to U.S. Congress this year—two with bipartisan support—would pave the way for a more accepting federal environment for cannabis. “With so many libertarian Republicans and states-rights conservatives, there has been more support from Republicans,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project said. “…They’re in favor of letting states set their own polices.”

Canary App Tells You If You’re Too Stoned To Drive [Disinformation]

If you’re a stoner and a driver you might want to check out the new app Canary being touted by NORML. Fast Company reviews: Last week, NORML, a group dedicated to legalizing marijuana announced a new iPhone app designed to prevent stoned driving. The app, called Canary, allows users to determine whether they’re in a suitable condition to drive. It runs through a battery of tests: remembering a sequence of numbers, balancing on one foot, playing a digital whack-a-mole game, and then estimating a time period of 20 seconds. By comparing the results against a personal baseline or a collective average, users receive a green, yellow, or red light assessing their level of functioning.

Marijuana industry faces new threat – bugs and pesticides [The Telegraph]

Conventional pesticides used to protect crops could pose a health threat if used to safeguard cannabis crops, experts have warned. Part of the problem is the gradual industrialisation of cannabis cultivation. When it was grown illegally in small quantities, bug infestation was a nuisance which had to be dealt with.  But with the crop moving from the basement to massive greenhouses, the financial consequences are potentially catastrophic.  Like any other crop, marijuana is vulnerable to bugs and mildew, but because it is smoked, at least one commercial fungicide is known to be dangerous when heated. Already the chemical, which can be used safely on grapes and hops. is banned for tobacco, because it is smoked.

Using Integrated Pest Management To Reduce Pesticide Usage [MedMen]

As the industry grows, and challenges pop up along the road, tougher regulation will inevitably follow. The companies that will survive these changes are the ones that effectively use the food production industry as a model and incorporate Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). One key GAP tool that cultivators can use to help reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides is Integrated Pest Management.Pests eat plants as they grow, decreasing plant yield and increasing costs.  Pesticides exist to fight these pests, but, if used improperly, can be dangerous to the environment and to consumers.  IPM is a holistic, integrated approach to fight pests with all available tools, leaning on environmentally sound and consumer safe methods as much as possible.  To do this, IPM focuses on the longer term prevention of pests and diseases by creating a sustainable crop protection system. A properly designed IPM strategy contains the tools necessary to sustainably maximize production while minimizing loss due to pests.

More Americans Than Ever Say They’ve Tried Marijuana, Gallup Poll Finds [Huffington Post]

The increase may reflect willingness to admit pot use. More than 40 percent of Americans admit trying marijuana, the largest percentage in more than four decades of polling, a Gallup survey found Wednesday. The 44 percent of people who say they tried marijuana is a significant jump from 1969, when Gallup first began asking the question. Back then, only 4 percent admitted trying the drug. By 1985, that figure had increased to 33 percent.  “The changes over time may reflect either an increase in the percentage who have tried the drug, or an increased willingness to admit to having done so in the past,” Gallup explained. A rising willingness to acknowledge marijuana use would line up with the dramatic shift of public opinion on marijuana over the decades, reflected in other polls showing record high percentages of Americans supporting legalization.  In April, CBS News found 53 percent in support of legalization, the most since CBS began asking the question in 1979. That same month, Fox News found a record 51 percent in favor of legalization. In March, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source on public opinion research, found 52 percent in favor. In 2013, Gallup found 58 percent for legalization, but a year later that number dropped to 51 percent.

Californian city to get ‘marijuana innovation zone’ [The Guardian]

The practice of land-use zoning (everything from residential neighbourhoods to heavy industry and retail) is well known to cities, especially in the US. But one city in California is due to see a highly (pun intended) unexpected addition to this: a marijuana zone. As Next City reports, the small city of Arcata has just become the first jurisdiction in the US to officially embrace the production of the plant in a proposed “medical marijuana innovation zone”. “City officials believe it would be the country’s first-ever land use designation specifically meant to promote and regulate the production of marijuana and cannabis-related products,” writes Josh Stephens. Areas on the edge of the town are being earmarked for the activity, due to concerns that the smell could disturb residents.

In rise of U.S. vape shops, owners eye new marijuana market [Reuters]

When Matt and Jen Osmun opened their vape shop in Bethel, Connecticut, last December, they didn’t expect to get a boost from the local medical marijuana outlet. “Sales are going really well, and getting better every month,” said Jen Osmun, who started the business with her husband, a former plumber, after he was injured in an accident. Most customers at Grassy Plain Vape & Smoke buy electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking tobacco, but a growing number are referred by medical marijuana commissaries in the neighborhood – the nearest is about five miles away. The Osmuns’ experience is becoming more common as the number of U.S. vape shops soars and shop owners seek to capitalize not only on the vaping trend, but on the more widespread, and legal, use of medical marijuana. Since 2008, the number of U.S. vape shops has grown to about 8,500, and the sale of electronic cigarettes and supplies climbed to $3.5 billion, according to Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog. She expects U.S. use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers to overtake combustible cigarettes in 10 years. Marijuana represents an additional lucrative market. IBISWorld, a market research firm, projects sales of cannabis for medical use to increase to $13.4 billion in 2020 from $3.6 billion in 2015, largely due to demand from an aging population with conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. GreenWave Advisors, an industry research firm, estimates marijuana sales could reach $35 billion in 2020 if all 50 states legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational uses.

Weed is probably not as bad as heroin ‘but I’m no expert’, says newly-appointed DEA leader [The Independent]

The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration sure knows his drugs, saying this week that marijuana is “probably” not as dangerous as heroin. In fairness, Acting Administrator’s remark came as a qualification for an initial reluctance to endorse the relaxing of cannabis laws, but was a little confused nonetheless. “If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is,” Rosenberg said. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.” He followed up with a curious analogy, likening smoking weed to being in a 30 mph car crash.

In Canada, Parents Vow To Give Their Sick Children Medical Marijuana — Even If Doctors Won’t [Vice]

“You have to go out there and find people who can give you what you need,” said Kendra Myhre, a mother in Alberta who was able to find a supplier for her toddler when her doctor refused to write a prescription. “You’d be amazed at the networking parents can do when they have children with such a fatal disability, and the ends they are willing to go to for their children,” she told VICE News. It’s cases like these that show the cracks that remain in Canada’s liberal medical marijuana regime and the hurdles licensed patients — especially children — still have to overcome when doctors hesitate to prescribe a treatment that isn’t supported by the health bodies that regulate them. The federal government says there isn’t enough medical evidence to support the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment, but Canada’s courts have ruled that Canadians should have access to it for medical reasons anyway. Most recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled patients could consume their medical cannabis however they choose. This has led to a situation where Health Canada has, begrudgingly, set up a system for licensed distributors to supply weed for people with prescriptions.

UK Police chief’s call to decriminalise people who grow small amounts of cannabis met with warm response from campaigners [The Independent UK]

The decision by Durham’s police and crime commissioner to effectively decriminalise people who grow small amounts of cannabis in their homes met with a warm response form drugs reform campaigners yesterday. Ron Hogg’s policy of de-prioritising the prosecution of small-scale growers earned criticism in some quarters, but was welcomed by those who argue that Britain’s current drug laws are failing. Lord Paddick, the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, called for police resources should be focused on going after dealers not those in possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use. The Liberal Democrat peer repeated his party’s manifesto call for responsibility of drugs policy to be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health, claiming “The war on drugs has failed and the Tories don’t know how to deal with it. Police resources should be focused on going after dealers, not those people in possession of small quantities of drugs.

UK Police will enforce drug laws in a way that is appropriate to the circumstances [National Police Chief’s Council]

The job of police officers is to enforce the law and they will use the range of options available to them when dealing with those found in possession of cannabis or who cultivate the plant. National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Cannabis, Assistant Chief Constable Bill Jephson said: “The issue of decriminalising any drug is a matter for Parliament. “As police officers, our job is to enforce the law and under current legislation drugs are illegal, on the grounds that they have been shown to be harmful. Cannabis production not only feeds a multimillion-pound illicit market, but it is also an increasingly potent and dangerous drug and it is also a key driver in other serious crimes – such as violence, human trafficking and modern slavery. There are a range of options for dealing with those found in possession of cannabis or who cultivate the plant that are proportionate to the individual circumstances.”

Slowly but surely, the Western world is coming down from the hallucinatory war on drugs [The Independent UK]

For all the failures of our political leaders, are we now starting to see the same kind of locally-led assault on prohibition as witnessed in America? The Government remains wedded to the disastrous old approach, as seen by its doomed attempt to ban legal highs (a market only created as an alternative to illegal ones). Yet at the same time tough cuts in public spending have given progressive police leaders the excuse to stop wasting precious resources on prosecuting people for growing or smoking cannabis. This is a welcome step. Mike Barton, Durham’s chief constable, has long been a brave and outspoken advocate for decriminalisation of drugs, pointing out prohibition failed to stop supply while funding organised crime. He also says, correctly, that alcohol is a far bigger societal problem. Now Hogg, a former police officer, says he wants to open a national debate and has written to the Prime Minister about the failure of current drug laws. Slowly but surely, the Western world is coming down from the hallucinatory war on drugs. Legalisation and regulation is safer for both users and society at large. One day we will look back with amazement at the idea of handing control of potentially-dangerous markets to the most lethal gangs on earth. These small steps in Derbyshire and Durham on cannabis are one more sign of progress towards a saner world.

Cannabis petition forces MPs to consider debating legalisation [The Guardian]

A petition calling for the total legalisation of cannabis in the UK has been signed by more than 125,000 people in just four days.  The response to anappeal hosted on the government’s official e-petitions website means MPs must now consider debating the issue in parliament. All petitions that reach 100,000 signatures are given such consideration. The petition’s success comes after a persistent campaign on social media, with activist-linked Twitter accounts around the world calling on UK-resident marijuana smokers to sign up.  The drive comes in the same week that three police commissioners said that, in light of budget constraints, they would not expect their officers to prioritise the pursuit of people growing cannabis plants for personal use. The petition was posted to the parliament website on Tuesday. By 6.30pm on Saturday it had reached 125,000 signatures, well exceeding the 100,000 needed for the government to consider debating the issue in the Commons. It calls for parliament to “make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal”. According to its accompanying text: “Legalising cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs.” The text describes the drug as “a substance that is safer than alcohol, and has many uses. It is believed to have been used by humans for over 4,000 years, being made illegal in the UK in 1925”.

A Petition Has Forced British MPs to Consider Cannabis Legalisation [Vice]

In excellent news for the salted snacks industry, a petition to legalise cannabis in the UK on Parliament’s website has garnered over 150,000 signatures, which makes it very likely that it will be debated in the House of Commons. The petition, which urges the government to “Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal”, argues that legalisation could potentially “bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs”. It reminds us that cannabis was only outlawed in the UK in 1925, and the stoner adage of “It’s safer than alcohol” – a phrase you may have seen on your ballot paper at the last election – is also present. Its success means MPs will consider debating the move in September.

The burning conservative case for legalising cannabis [The Guardian]

There is a solid conservative case for legalising cannabis. If there is one non-pejorative word that can define the past five years of Tory rule, it’s cuts. The legalisation and regulation of the cannabis trade could justify considerable spending cuts, as the current black market trade is a huge drain on our resources. The government spends upwards of £2bn a year fighting the war on drugs in England and Wales, and the cannabis trade is undoubtedly a huge reason for that, as cannabis is – by far – the preferred illegal drug in the country (approximately 29% of Brits have consumed it). The money and resources being allocated to police – for stopping, searching and arresting stoners – could essentially be scrapped overnight. Simultaneously the courtroom hours and prison cells assigned to cannabis farmers and sellers could be used far more appropriately and efficiently. Before May’s election, Cameron promised that he would create 2m jobs by 2020 and legalisation could contribute significantly to this. The government could create a new regulated industry with a pre-existing customer base of over three million. Five percent of the nation are regularly consuming cannabis and the revenue is being diverted to criminal gangs rather than legitimate companies or state coffers. From examining the success of cannabis legalisation in Colorado and Washington it is clear that there is a huge variety of jobs that reform can create: farmers, harvesters, deliverers, producers of related items (such as pipes), and even creators of cannabis edibles – like cookies – and concentrates.

Northern Ireland: Judge orders teenage cannabis-smoker to sketch him in court as punishment[International Business Times]

A judge in Northern Ireland proved the law is a black and white issue after meting out poetic justice, ordering a budding teenage artist who was caught smoking cannabis to draw him and solicitors. The 16 year old appeared at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court after he failed a drugs test on Wednesday (22 July). But when it came to punishing the suspected spliff-smoker, district judge Barney McElholm handed down what could be considered a sketchy punishment. Instructing the teenager to arrive at court with a sketch pad and pencil, McElholm said he must attend court for two hours a day for three days and draw the judge and solicitors. “You can draw me and the solicitors for two hours each day. Only me and the solicitors, and I will review the matter on Wednesday,” McElholm said, according to BBC Northern Ireland. Taking into consideration his confession for the cannabis offence, the judge warned “If you look stoned you will be arrested”.

Keith Richards still enjoys a cannabis joint for breakfast at the age of 71 [Mirror UK]

Hellraiser Keith Richards has revealed he still often kickstarts his day smoking cannabis – aged 71. The Rolling Stones legend told how he has been unable to kick his weed habit despite giving up his other vices. He admitted: “I smoke regularly, an early morning joint. Strictly Californian.” Rocker Keith told MOJO magazine: “One of the most pleasant things to watch is a map of America [showing States where cannabis is legal ], where it goes, green… green… green. “Whether it’s a good thing in the long run, I don’t know.”

High on the menu: cannabis spaghetti features at Italian foodfest [Reuters]

Any Italian will tell you: pasta is healthy and makes you feel good. But what about spaghetti made from cannabis? Farmers from southern Italy presenting their wares at a London food festival this week say their hemp pasta, oil and bread won’t get you high, but do provide a healthy, tasty alternative to the traditional, wheat variety. “Hemp food is truly organic,” said Marzio Ilario Fiore, 30, whose farm in the Molise region produces hemp oil and flour. “Hemp requires no pesticides, no fertilizers, and only moderate amounts of water.” Cannabis is most often associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana, but some strains of the plant can also be cultivated for food.  High-growing varieties called hemp, which contain negligible levels of the drug THC, have long been grown to produce food and other products. Italy lifted a ban on hemp cultivation in 1998. “My crop gets regularly checked by Italian police inspectors to ensure that THC is within the legal limit,” said Fiore, one of some 200 Italian food artisans in London for the three-day Bellavita (“Beautiful Life”) Expo. As well as spaghetti made from hemp flour, he provided tastings of hemp taralli – hard savory biscuits from southern Italy – and hemp oil, which has a distinctive, nutty flavor.

Why the Study Linking Cannabis to Bone Healing Was Likely Over-Hyped [Vice]

A new study claims that a component in cannabis may help heal broken bones, but that doesn’t mean you should smoke a joint the next time you find yourself in a cast or on crutches. Researchers at Tel Aviv University concluded that cannabidiol (CBD), a liquefied non-psychotropic component of the cannabis plant, makes broken bones heal stronger. But their study was small, and it wasn’t in humans; it was in a couple dozen rats. The results are preliminary at best, experts say. “Insofar as these studies go, it’s not the worst I’ve seen, but the numbers are, I would say, on the low side,” said Jeffrey Nyman, PhD, of the Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology. The study was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and has generated such pun-tastic headlines as “No Bones About It: Cannabis May Be Used to Treat Fractures” and “Joint Relief: Marijuana Helps Mend Broken Bones.” But lead study author Yankel Gabet, DMD, PhD, of Tel Aviv University, said it’s not clear how CBD heals bones in rats, let alone whether it would work in humans. “The main limitation is that this is the very first study on the matter and results have been obtained in animals only,” Gabet told VICE News/Med Page Today.

The latest on synthetic cannabis [Russell Webster]

Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the effects of cannabis and are the largest group of compounds monitored by the EU Early Warning System (EWS) on new psychoactive substances. ‘Legal high’ products containing synthetic cannabinoids have probably been sold as herbal smoking mixtures since at least 2006. These products do not necessarily contain tobacco or cannabis but when smoked, produce effects similar to those of cannabis. Recently, new liquid products containing synthetic cannabinoids have emerged for use with electronic cigarettes. They have been subject to innovative marketing approaches and are widely available on the Internet and in some shops in urban areas (often called ‘head’ or ‘smart’ shops). The number of substances, their chemical diversity and the rate of their emergence makes this group of compounds particularly challenging in terms of detection and monitoring. The EMCDDA provides an interactive guide which attempts to make the chemistry of synthetic cannabinoids more readily understandable.

Marijuana Pill Gives Med Patients ‘Cannabis Alternative’ [Greenrush Investors]

A Boulder marijuana company has produced a breakthrough marijuana pill that looks and acts more like traditional pharmaceuticals. The company, Wana Brands, has produced capsules called Wana Caps, that it says are an alternative to smoking or edible marijuana. “We feel like we are making an important step in giving patients another alternative in consuming cannabis,” said Wana Brands owner John Whiteman, in an interview with CBS 6 affiliate KCNC, in Denver. Wana Brands worked with Israel-based Cannabics to develop the first extended- release formula to make marijuana last up to 12 hours. The capsules are filled twice — first with a dose that kicks in almost immediately, and then with a dose that starts to work after about four hours, according to KCNC. Multiple sclerosis patient Hoot Gibson said the pills were the “most helpful things” he can take for his symptoms. “This lets you get the relief you need without hitting such a high level,” said Gibson.”You don’t have to worry being seen medicating in the ‘old fashioned’ ways,” he said. “The utility isn’t clear,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, who urged caution about marijuana that claims to be medicine.“We don’t have the medical knowledge to say that marijuana is useful to treat the vast majority of conditions that people are using it for,” he said. He also said that in the hands of a novice user or a child the effect could be harmful. The makers of Wana Caps said they think their product could offer a bridge to mainstream medicine.


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