HEMP Embassy Headlines 163 – 165

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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.


Health groups including AMA Victoria throw support behind medicinal marijuana [News]

Health experts have backed the introduction of medicinal marijuana in Victoria.  The Australian Medical Association Victorian branch was among health groups, patients and families to throw their support behind the use of cannabis in “exceptional circumstance”, in submissions made to the Victorian Law Reform Commission. The medical group called for a national approach to legislation and more research, but discouraged patients smoking the drug to avoid lung damage. Other groups to write to the commission included Cancer Action Victoria, the Legal Institute of Victoria and The Australian Lawful Use of Cannabis Alliance. Families needing the illegal drug for loved ones suffering from car-crash injuries, illness and chronic pain wrote to the inquiry describing a fear of being prosecuted for using marijuana. Multiple submissions detailed raids by police after turning to the illegal drug for treatment.


Fairfield doctor leads Australia’s first medical cannabis trial [Daily Telegraph]

Thirty terminal cancer patients could have their last days drastically improved thanks to Australia’s first medical cannabis trial. The groundbreaking trial, headed by Associate Professor Meera Agar, palliative care clinical director at Fairfield’s Braeside Hospital, will focus on helping terminally ill cancer patients who have lost their appetite. “This trial is a really big first step,” she said. “Eating is not just a medical problem. This is a trial about quality of life.”


Drug-related hospital stays in Australia 1993-2013 [UNSW National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre]

This bulletin presents data on drug-related hospital separations in Australia from 1993-2013 for the following drug types: opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis. A hospital separation is defined as an episode of care for an admitted patient, which may refer to a total hospital stay (from admission to discharge), or a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change of type of care, or transfer to another hospital. At the time of separation, a principal (main) diagnosis, and up to 40 secondary diagnoses may be made. The data presented in this bulletin include only hospital separations where opioids, cocaine, amphetamines or cannabis were determined to be the principal (i.e. main) reason for the hospital stay. The data presented will therefore be an under-estimate of the total number of drug-related hospital admissions.


US government says cannabis kills cancer cells [Telegraph]

The US government has confirmed that cannabis can kill cancer cells after the drug did so in tests on mice and rats, according to the National Cancer Institute. The development will provide further ammunition for pro-legalisation campaigners. On its website The National Cancer Institute, part of the US department of health, said: “Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids (the active ingredient in cannabis) may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells. “They may inhibit tumour growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumours to grow.” The studies in rodents show that cannabinoids may reduce the risk of colon, liver and breast cancer, and could make chemotherapy more effective. But researchers added: “At this time, there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy.”


Cannabis And Cannabinoids Cancer Treatment [Huffington Post]

A cancer advice website in the US, The National Cancer Institute, has featured a page offering information surrounding how cannabis and cannabinoids could potentially treat cancer.  The page has been compiled by an information body called Physician Data Query (PDQ), which is the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) comprehensive cancer information database.  The NCI stress that PDQ summaries are based on an independent review of the medical literature and are not policy statements of the government site.Cannabis, which is also known as marijuana or weed, has been used both recreationally and for medical purposes for years despite being illegal in many countries. The plant contains compounds called cannabinoids which, the website states, “may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment”.


Massive, Long Term Study Shows No Health Harms From Cannabis. Where Are The Headlines? [Cannabis Law Reform]

Long term cannabis use by teenage boys is not linked to later physical or mental health issues according to a very large, long term study published by the American Psychological Association. Where are the front page headlines, the hysterical editorials, the hand wringing, bleating and scaremongering from the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail? They seem to be very quiet on this one. To be fair the Mail has covered it but the leaders in anti-cannabis propaganda at the Telegraph have ignored it and so have the BBC. What a surprise! Even Jon ‘Skunk’ Snow, the latest journalist to sacrifice his integrity on the altar of reefer madness, is completely silent. No grandstanding opportunities on this one. This is a huge study of 408 males tracked from adolescence into their mid-30s.  The results have been published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and comprehensively demolish the many, much smaller, ‘snapshot’ studies that the Mail, the Telegraph and the BBC have given massive prominence to in the past.


Places with more marijuana dispensaries have more marijuana-related hospitalizations [EurekAlert]

People who live in areas of California with a higher density of marijuana dispensaries experience a greater number of hospitalizations involving marijuana abuse and dependence, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered. The National Institutes of Health-funded research, published online and scheduled for the Sept. 1 issue of the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, could be informative as more states consider legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. It is the first analysis of the statewide impact of marijuana dispensaries on abuse and dependence, as well as the first look at population characteristics associated with marijuana-related hospitalization rates.  “As marijuana is approved for medical or recreational use, we need to carefully consider where we allow dispensaries to be placed,” said lead author Christina Mair, Ph.D., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. “Our study indicates that there are real problems associated with a higher density of marijuana dispensaries in neighborhoods. More study and monitoring, coupled with thoughtful legislation and community discussion, will be prudent to ensure that marijuana laws have the fewest negative consequences for vulnerable populations.”


Marijuana Edibles May Have To Ditch The ‘Candy’ Label In Colorado [Huffington Post]

Edible marijuana products in Colorado may soon come labeled with a red stop sign, according to a draft of new rules released Wednesday by state marijuana regulators. The state may also ban the word “candy” from edible pot products, even if they’re sweets such as suckers or gummy chews. The new pot symbol – an octagon stop-sign shape with the letters “THC” to indicate marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient – would have to be on individual edible items, not just labels. Liquid marijuana products would be limited to single-serve packaging – defined aa 10 milligrams of THC. Regulators rejected an earlier proposal to mark edible pot with a weed-leaf symbol after a parents’ group complained the symbol would simply attract children, not dissuade them from eating the products. The proposed rules were released as the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division works on new guidelines for edible marijuana, which can be baked into cookies or brownies or added to a dizzying array of items from sodas, to pasta sauces, to granolas. The agency tried and failed last year to implement a requirement that edible marijuana have a distinct look when outside of its packaging, a requirement passed by state lawmakers last year amid concerns that some people were accidentally eating food infused with marijuana. The state already banned pot manufacturers from using cartoon characters on packaging or making “look-alike” products such as candies designed to mimic common foods. But the state has seen sporadic reports of people unknowingly eating pot. Perhaps most famous was a man hospitalized after unknowingly eating pot-infused chocolate at the 2014 Denver County Fair. The new edible pot rules face a public hearing before final adoption.


Ohio prepares to vote on marijuana legalization: which states will be next? [The Guardian]

Ohio officials approved a bid last week to get recreational and medical marijuana legalization on the 3 November ballot. Thus far, Ohio is the only state where voters will consider pot legalization in the 2015 election. But that’s not because many states aren’t already eyeing their own marijuana campaigns. In fact, a number of states, including California, Massachusetts and Arizona, are already laying the groundwork to legalize recreational pot. They just won’t put it on the ballot until 2016, lining up with the presidential election.


Legal Marijuana – Now and Then [Alcohol & Drugs History Society]

As of last week the political group known as ResponsibleOhio successfully secured enough signatures to put their controversial marijuana legalization measure on the state’s November ballot. In the coming months voters in the state (like me) will surely be subjected to campaigning from both supporters and detractors. Regardless of position, almost everyone agrees that the proposed Ohio measure is different from those already passed in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. Supporters will argue that is a good thing. They suggest the ResponsibleOhio plan is better than the current prohibition regime, that it will raise millions in tax revenue, and that limiting production to ten highly controlled grow operations will allow them to amply supply the market while ensuring less marijuana leaks into black markets or across state lines. Detractors will continue to assert that ResponsibleOhio’s plan will enshrine a constitutional cartel (or monopoly) on marijuana that benefits only its group of wealthy supporters, while allowing them to restrict the market and price to their control with limited regard to public health and safety. What we are highly unlikely to see in this debate, however, is a  look at historical cannabis regulations in the United States prior its federal prohibition in 1937. This is unfortunate, since there are perhaps some very interesting lessons to be learned from a period in which cannabis was generally legal but often restricted.


American Indian tribes plan to make marijuana a cash crop [Telegraph]

American Indian tribes are looking to become the beneficiaries of the “green gold rush” as the legalisation of marijuana spreads from state to state. With four states and Washington DC already allowing the recreational use of pot, and more expected to follow, cannabis cultivation is on the cusp of becoming very big business, especially with another 23 states already allowing pot to be used for medicinal purposes. This is very good news for American Indians with as many as 200 tribes understood to be considering growing cannabis on their land. They are able to do this because of tribal land’s unique legal status, which has enabled them to cash in on the lucrative casino business for over two decades. Now it is marijuana which is seen as a way of generating jobs on reservations and generating money for tribal administrations. The taxes on what is certain to be a lucrative cash crop will be used to support social services on tribal land such as schools, health clinics and old people’s homes. It is a matter of economic necessity in many cases, Stephen Pevar, lecturer in American Indian law at New York University, explained.


Weed dispensaries find legalization leaves them vulnerable to raids and harassment [The Guardian]

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the 23 states where medicinal cannabis is legal and Washington DC are operating in a tricky gray zone. On one hand, the states recognize cannabis as a legal medical substance. On the other, cannabis is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. As such, small, legal dispensaries can be wiped out by a single visit from law enforcement. “Under federal law – whether medical or not – it’s contraband,” says Lowry. “We have this unique situation in the history of controlled substances, where the Department of Justice is turning a blind eye to state-run medical programs as long as they are not engaging in the ‘eight areas of concern’.”  This list –issued by the US Justice Department – includes distribution to minors, revenue feeding criminal enterprises and violence, and the use of firearms in the cultivation or distribution of cannabis. If state law enforcement had seized New MexiCann’s plants and cannabis products, “there would be immunities – once you show you are a legal dispensary, if a product is seized it has to be returned,” says Lowry. “But when it’s a federal agency, which treats cannabis as an illicit contraband, that’s not the case. Federal law trumps state law.”


Marijuana Legalization 2015: Is It Time For The Cannabis Industry To Grow Up And Go To College? [International Business Times]

It’s a university far off the radar of the Princeton Review annual college rankings, yet it boasts more than 25,000 graduates, all lured by the promise of careers in the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Through sheer force of academia, marijuana-centric Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, is determined to foster a sense of legitimacy in a line of business that struggles with stigma. Oaksterdam University is part of a trend of cannabis universities that have opened their doors as fast as the industry has expanded. Administrators said pot programs are necessary to legitimize the legal weed market as marijuana legalization increasingly becomes the law of the land. But the training programs vary in credibility, prompting some marijuana advocates to question whether the intention is solely to cash in on the emerging cannabis market by duping vulnerable job seekers. “There are more and more schools popping up and opportunity breeds opportunists,” said Aseem Sappal, a dean at Oaksterdam.  The universities offer a variety of courses tied to the industry — dispensary management, medical marijuana patient relations, baking edibles — and award students a certificate of completion. Some students are looking to break into the business and open their own dispensaries, while others are lawyers and healthcare professionals looking to bolster their careers with more knowledge about the field.


Inside a farm-to-table cannabis tasting in California [The Guardian]

A new model has developed in California’s medical marijuana industry: farm-to-table. Long popular among foodies and other environmentally conscious consumers, one Bay Area startup is aiming to take advantage of the trend and embed it into the fast-growing cannabis industry.


California marijuana farmers face country’s first water-related regulations [The Guardian]

Regulators in California’s north coast region have passed the country’s first rules governing the water-related impact of marijuana cultivation. The new regulations will force pot growers to be responsible for any contamination of water or land degradation.  But, despite the 5-1 vote, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is unlikely to face a smooth roll-out of the new oversight and regulation. “This is going to be good in the long run, but getting all of us growers, especially the small ones like me, is really going to be hard to do immediately,” Robert Anderson, a small pot farmer near Santa Rosa who barely makes the cutoff for the new regulations of a 2,000-square-foot farm, said on Thursday evening.  He was quick to insist however that the downsides of implementation should not outweigh the need to ensure the environment is protected. “We wouldn’t be good pot growers if we didn’t want to keep the land in good shape.” The new rules will require pot growers with more than 2,000 square feet of land used for marijuana cultivation to register with the agency, or a third-party non-governmental agency or organization that has been approved by the regulatory body.  A number of issues including erosion control, water and wetlands buffers, irrigation runoff, chemical contamination and waste will be regulated under the new rules. Each farm will then enrol in an annual program based on three regulatory tiers determined by the farm’s characteristics and the water resources it uses.


California cannabis farms under threat from wildfires [Telegraph]

Cannabis farms in California are under threat from raging wildfires. More than 10,000 firefighters have been tackling a dozen fires in the north of the state including near the so-called Emerald Triangle, the largest cannabis growing area in the United States. The Emerald Growers Association, which represents cannabis farmers, said a dozen of its members had been evacuated. California is one of 23 states where cannabis is legal for medical use by patients with conditions including cancer. The billion dollar industry provides $100 million in sales taxes for the state annually. Growers warned the industry would be affected with reduced supply and higher prices. There were also warnings that smoke rising from cannabis farms could make people ill.


A ‘selfie’ or a body search [The Independent]

They are two incidents from the frontline of American police’s ongoing campaign against soft drugs. In one, a young woman claimed she was allegedly forced to pull down her trousers and endure a cavity search after an officer said he smelled marijuana in her car. In the second, a young man who was arrested for speeding and who reportedly admitted to having smoked marijuana before getting behind the wheel, was permitted to pose for a selfie with the arresting officer.


Scientists speak out against false cannabis claims [International Centre for Science in Drug Policy]

Many scientists are increasingly frustrated by the disregard of scientific evidence on cannabis use and regulation. To set the record straight, the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), a global network of scientists working on drug policy issues, released two groundbreaking reports today evaluating the strength of commonly heard cannabis claims. “State of the Evidence: Cannabis Use and Regulation,” is a comprehensive overview of the scientific research on major claims made about cannabis. It is paired with a summary report, “Using Evidence to Talk About Cannabis,” which equips readers with evidence-based responses to the claims.  “We are at a critical juncture, as more and more jurisdictions are reconsidering their policies on cannabis,” said Dr. Dan Werb, Director of the ICSDP. “Yet, the public discourse around cannabis is filled with frequently repeated claims that are simply not supported by the scientific evidence. Given that policy decisions are influenced by public opinion and media reports, there is a serious danger that misrepresenting the evidence on cannabis will lead to ineffective or harmful policy.”  To investigate this issue, the ICSDP convened scientists to conduct a review of thirteen oft-repeated claims about cannabis use and regulation. The review found that none of the claims were strongly supported by the scientific evidence.


Five tips for growing and selling marijuana like a pro – from a university instructor [The Guardian]

If you’ve had enough of your nine-to-five’s wearying toil, perhaps a change of vocation is in order. The Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver can recommend an intriguing alternative starting this September: selling pot. The shady-looking fellow on the corner will tell you that you hardly need a college diploma to sell weed for a living. But Kwantlen’s new 14-week online course will sculpt aspiring dealers into professionals in a robust – and newly legal – field. The course promises to be a rigorous survey of the landscape of marijuana production and sale, educating prospective growers in everything from irrigation to marketing.


Botanists conduct first large-scale genetic study of marijuana, hemp [EurekAlert]

A study by Canadian researchers is providing a clearer picture of the evolutionary history and genetic organization of cannabis, a step that could have agricultural, medical and legal implications for this valuable crop. “Even though hemp and marijuana are important crops, knowledge about cannabis is lacking because of its status as a controlled drug,” said Jonathan Page, a University of British Columbia botanist who co-led the first large-scale study of the genetic diversity of cannabis. The research was conducted together with Sean Myles, a population geneticist at Dalhousie University. Researchers looked at the genotypes of 81 marijuana and 43 hemp samples. Using the DNA variants in the cannabis genome, they were able to search for relationships between different plants. They found that cannabis plants, which consist of three species (C. sativa, C. indica and C. ruderalis), are often incorrectly labeled.


Novak Djokovic left ‘dizzy’ after ‘cannabis smell’ at the Rogers Cup [Telegraph]

Novak Djokovic advanced to the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal despite the off-putting smell of someone in the crowd smoking marijuana. The world No 1 comfortably beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4 but not before he had complained about the smell of cannabis.  He told the umpire: “Someone is smoking weed, I can smell it, and I’m getting dizzy. Somebody is getting high. Can you smell it? The whole place smells of it.”


Despite petition, government has no plans to legalise cannabis [The Guardian]

The government has responded to a 200,000-strong petition calling for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK by saying it has no plans to change the law. Legalisation would “send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people”, it added. However, the number of signatures the petition attracted means that MPs must consider debating the issue in parliament. All petitions that reach 100,000 signatures are given such consideration. The petition’s argument that legalising cannabis would bring in £900m in taxes and reduce policing burdens was also rejected by the government. It said such benefits would be outweighed by the cost of administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities, as well as drug prevention and health services.


Comment: The government’s response to the cannabis petition is fatuous, dishonest and misleading [Politics UK]

Over 203,000 people have signed the petition on the government’s website to “make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal”.  All petitions that pass 100,000 signatures are considered for a debate in the House of Commons and when MPs return from their summer break, the petitions committee will have a hard time refusing a debate on a petition that has double the required threshold. Yesterday the government published its response to the petition. It consists of the same misleading words the Home Office has been parroting for many years. They are also the same words which dozens of MPs have used to dismiss their constituents’ letters and emails on the subject. You can read the response in full here (and sign the petition, if you haven’t already done so). It is Home Office policy to mislead the public about cannabis.


UK government urged to decriminalise drug use and test regulated cannabis market [ITV]

A legal cannabis market should be tested and drug use decriminalised in order to try a radical new approach to drug use that focusses more on human rights laws, a group of MPs and peers has said. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reformcalled for an overhaul in global narcotics policy, saying the “war on drugs” and “blanket prohibition” approach had failed. It said experiments into possible models of regulated markets for marijuana should be “encouraged” among United Nations countries including the UK.


Eight courses high and rising: Amsterdam’s gourmet marijuana dining experience [The Guardian]

When was the last time you felt trepidation prior to eating in a restaurant? Not the social anxiety of a first date or dining with your boss, but a soupçon of nervousness about the food itself. I’m at Fraîche, a cosy restaurant in Amsterdam’s hip Jordaan district, where chefs and co-owners Noah Tucker and Tony Joseph are laying on an eight-course psychedelic dinner, $80 (£50) a head, for 25 invited guests. Alhough each course has been carefully tested for taste and potency over the previous few months, it is the first time they have all been combined in one dinner. We are guinea pigs. But we’re in safe hands. Tucker, a native New Yorker who relocated to Amsterdam, is a self-professed “highly functional pothead”. He has been cooking since the age of six, and attended culinary school on a US navy scholarship. Joseph is a specialist patissier from London who doesn’t touch drugs. As a longtime resident of Amsterdam, I am au fait with the upcoming cannabis ingredients (though I admit to being flattened by dodgy hash brownies in the past). In addition to three types of hashish and four varieties of bud, there are psychedelic truffles, the kanna and the Syrian rue: herbal novelties I am unfamiliar with. Manas Akdag from Test Lab, the city’s only non-governmental cannabis tester, is in effect our “weed sommelier”, and has advised the chefs which varieties work best with which dishes, explaining the difference between high-altitude Indica hashes from Nepal and Tibet, and low-altitude from Morocco, which weeds have high levels of THCV (fast-acting, short-lasting euphoric high) and other cannab-arcana. Is this safe? And is it legal? Well, yes and sort of. Amsterdam has a famously laissez-fumer approach to cannabis, but obviously those interested should refer to local laws and exercise personal judgment. It seems that kanna and rue are legal in Amsterdam, as are at least some truffles. Unlike the so-called legal highs coming out of China that have caused so much distress and political brouhaha, none of the herbs are toxic (many have medicinal qualities).


Do Icelanders really smoke more cannabis than anyone else? [Iceland Magazine]

While cannabis use has increased in Iceland in recent years, partially thanks to growing domestic production, Iceland is not among the countries with the highest cannabis use. The Daily Mail story is a recycling of a story which ran last year in international media,including the Washington Post. The UN figures were based on a misunderstanding. The UN used a survey performed by the Icelandic Directorate of Health in 2012. According to that survey which had a response rate of 58.3%, 35.9% of Icelanders 18-67 years old had at some time tried cannabis. Of those who said they had at some time tried cannabis 18.3% said they had smoked weed in the past year. It is this figure the UN, and the Daily Mail are using when they concluded that Icelanders set the world record in weed smoking. The correct figure would be 6.6%, which is the proportion of Icelanders who had actually smoked weed in the year 2012. This figure puts Iceland in the 29th place in cannabis consumption internationally.

See the comparison maps created by Recovery Brands, Drug Use in America vs. Europe:
http://recoverybrands.com/drugs-in-america-vs-europe/


Russian government regulator threatens to block Reddit over cannabis thread [The Guardian]

The Russian government’s technology and internet watchdog is threatening to block Reddit across the country if it does not remove a thread dedicated to growing cannabis. The federal service for supervision of communications, information, technology and mass media (Roskomnadzor) has taken to one of the largest social networks in Russia, VK.com, requesting the takedown, after it received no direct response from Reddit. Roskomnadzor writes that Russia’s federal drug control service opposes a particular subreddit, thought to be /r/trees, which “posted an article on the cultivation of growing narcotic plants”. The watchdog has also mocked up a “wanted” poster of Reddit’s alien mascot, and slighted the company for not responding to its emails, suggesting Reddit’s staff are “too relaxed during the August holidays”.


Russia’s internet watchdog goes to war with Wikipedia over cannabis page [The Independent]

The battle started in Chyorny Yar, a village of less than 8,000 inhabitants in southern Russia. There, a prosecutor was concerned about a Wikipedia entry about “charas”, a form of cannabis. The reasons for his concerns remain unclear – Chyorny Yar appears to have no problems with drug abuse – and no cannabis fields. Charas is a “hashish form of cannabis which is handmade in India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Nepal and Jamaica,” according to Wikipedia . After the prosecutor demanded the Russia-language entry be deleted, a court agreed. The row escalated. On Monday, Russia’s powerful internet watchdog – Roskomnadzor – asked service providers to block the page. Wikipedia, however, uses the https protocol for secure communication, which means that providers have difficulty blocking individual articles. Roskomnadzor responded by saying the whole internet encyclopedia would have to be closed to enforce the ban. That came into effect on Monday night. It was short-lived. On Tuesday, hours after users reported they were unable to access the site, Wikipedia was removed from a list of banned websites. Stanislav Kozlovskiy, executive director of the Wikimedia foundation in Russia, said: “We are not going to stop using the https protocol to make it easier for Roskomnadzor to censor Wikipedia.”


Chile Is About to Decriminalize Marijuana [AlterNet]

With its proposed changes to Ley 20.000 (Law 20,000), Chile joins a growing list of Latin American countries decriminalizing marijuana. The initiative, which would grant Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six marijuana plants at a time, was passed in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies on July 7 with 68 voting in favor and 39 against. The bill must first be adjusted by a health commission and then passed by the Senate before it officially becomes law, but strong support for cannabis legalization in the country illustrates that legalizing marijuana use appears to be the new norm in the Western Hemisphere and, once again, that the War on Drugs has been a failed campaign.


El Chapo: Escaped drug lord revered in home state [BBC]

A month ago, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most notorious drugs lord, escaped from Mexico’s highest-security prison through a mile-long tunnel. In his home state of Sinaloa, there’s a certain pride about the infamous capo, despite the violent crimes his cartel has committed. Some people say he should be honoured with a monument or chapel. Katy Watson reports from Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexico’s drug-trafficking industry.


Cannabis and the brain, two studies, one editorial examine associations [MedicalXpress]

Two studies and an editorial published online by JAMA Psychiatry examine associations between cannabis use and the brain.


Study finds nicotine changes marijuana’s effect on the brain [EurekAlert]

How scientists study the effects of marijuana on the brain is changing. Until recently marijuana research largely excluded tobacco users from its participant pool, but scientists at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas have found reason to abandon this practice, uncovering significant differences in the brains of individuals who use both tobacco and marijuana and the brains of those who only use marijuana. In a study that appears online in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, scientists report an association between smaller hippocampal brain volume and marijuana use. Although the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory and learning, is significantly smaller in both the marijuana group and marijuana plus tobacco group compared to non-using controls and individuals who use tobacco exclusively, the relationship to memory performance is unique.


The legal supply of cannabis [Russell Webster]

This is the seventh in a weekly blog series based on the findings of the 2015  annual European Drugs Report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In it, I explore new models being trialled for the legal supply of cannabis.


How To Complete A Marijuana License Application [MedMen]

This series will take a step-by-step look at the process of completing a successful marijuana license application.


 

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