For all those with Open Minds!
Medical Marijuana Articles 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
Medical Marijuana has shown positive results for:
Relieving the Horrible Pain and Misery of Chemotherapy
Treating Glaucoma and Helps Prevent Blindness
Relieving the Painful Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Helping Control Epileptic Seizures and Parkinson's Disease
Relieving the Pain and Inflammation of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Slowing Alzheimer's Disease and Reducing Dementia
And Other Less Well Known Medical Problems
But the scientific support for these benefits is not as unequivocal
as medical marijuana advocates would like. Read the articles below.
12-18-18 New Zealand to hold cannabis referendum in 2020
New Zealanders will vote on legalising recreational cannabis in a referendum during the 2020 general election, the country's justice minister said. A vote was promised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party last year during cross-party talks, which helped to form a coalition government. It comes a week after lawmakers gave medicinal cannabis the green light. An opinion poll last year suggested two thirds of New Zealanders favoured legalisation. "We know when it will be, we have a commitment that it will be binding, and now it is just a question on filling in the detail from there," said Justice Minister Andrew Little, following a decision by the country's cabinet on Monday. New Zealand's left-wing Labour Party is part of a three-way coalition government, with the centrist Green Party and populists New Zealand First (NZF). The partnership was formed after inconclusive elections last year led to a hung parliament. The Greens have welcomed the referendum decision. "We've had countless opinion polls for decades now, confirming New Zealanders are positively well ahead of political action on the issue of cannabis law reform," the party's spokesperson Chloe Swarbrick said in a statement. "This binding referendum presents an opportunity to have the will of the people trigger meaningful legislative change," she added. However the NZF leader Simon Bridges called the vote was a "cynical" move to distract voters from other issues around the general election.
12-14-18 Cannabis: Big Tobacco joins the gold rush
Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, made its first move into the budding marijuana industry last week, said Tiffany Kary and Kristine Owram in Bloomberg.com. For $1.8 billion, Altria bought a 45 percent stake of Toronto-based marijuana producer Cronos, “on a simple premise: Cannabis is growing fast, and cigarettes are not.” With smoking rates in America falling and an increasing number of states legalizing pot, Canada, which legalized marijuana in October, becomes a “large laboratory for the nascent industry.” Altria also said it would kill two of its vaping products, fueling talk that a deal with vape-industry king Juul may be in the works.
12-11-18 Why are so many countries now saying cannabis is OK?
Around the world attitudes towards the use of cannabis are shifting. Mexico's new government plans to legalise recreational cannabis use, as does the incoming government of Luxembourg. Meanwhile, New Zealand's leaders are considering a referendum on what their approach should be. As public opinion - and that of governments - changes, it seems increasingly likely that other countries will follow, raising questions about how they work together to manage the use and supply of cannabis. What has led one country after another to move towards a relaxation of their laws and, in many cases, outright legalisation? It was only in 2012 that Uruguay announced it would be the first country in the world to legalise recreational cannabis use. In large part, the move was aimed at replacing links between organised crime and the cannabis trade with more accountable state regulation. Later the same year, voters in Washington State and Colorado became the first in the US to support legalisation of the drug for non-medical use. Under President Barack Obama, a critic of the US-led war on drugs, the US government stepped back from enforcing federal laws and effectively gave states a green light to explore alternatives. Eight more states and Washington DC have since supported the legalisation of recreational cannabis and penalties are softening elsewhere. The use of the drug for medical reasons is allowed in 33 of the 50 states. In many ways the jury is still out on the effects of legalisation on society and individuals' health, but there is no question that public opinion and government policy has softened. The tide has crept across the Americas, with Canada legalising the sale, possession and recreational use of cannabis nationwide in October.
11-26-18 Slow your roll on legal weed
Legalized weed is on the rise in the Americas. Recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada. Mexico may soon follow suit. Here in America, 10 states and D.C. now permit recreational use for adults over 21. Another 23 states have legalized medical pot. Even Republicans are coming around to the benefits. War on drugs diehards may soon need to flee to Europe to escape the sickly-sweet scent. Who'd have predicted that a decade ago? Two-thirds of Americans now support legalizing pot. The percentage of pro-pot Americans has more than doubled since 2000. It's one of the most stunningly rapid transformations of public opinion in modern American history. So, allow me to offer an unpopular opinion: Pot is bad. I know, I know. It can be hard to get worked up about a little grass. There are so many other frightening things to worry about, and most people seem to have bought into the argument that recreational pot will basically be fine, because after all, it's a lot less bad than alcohol (which still does a great deal of harm to society). Psychologically, the pot-vs-alcohol comparison is soothing. Most of us have lived with legal booze for our entire lives. It's not alarming to see beer at a ball game or wine at a dinner party. Perhaps pot will be similar, except less harmful because it's less addictive, less life-threatening, and less likely to fuel violent rage. Middle-class moms like me will go on fussing about sex and drugs, but maybe we just need to pour ourselves a glass of chardonnay and relax. Well ... I can't. Because marijuana really does bring with it some worrisome possibilities. Pot seems to affect the development of the adolescent brain, which may be a relevant consideration all the way through a person's mid-20s. At least in the short-term, pot impairs memory, executive function, and motor skills. Chronic cannabis use can in some instances trigger psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And it is addictive, even if moderately less so than some other drugs. All of these connections are controversial and (to date) understudied, so it's hard predict just how bad the problem is. Realistically though, that just underscores how alarmed we should be over this brave new world of weed.
11-15-18 Why is Canada running out of marijuana?
Cannabis retailers in Canada began to run low on supplies from the very first day of legalisation a month ago. How long are shortages expected to continue as the new market for recreational cannabis finds its feet?. In the early days of legalisation, James Burns was confident his company had enough product on the shelves of its five new cannabis retail stores, even though they only received half of their order from the provincial supplier. Now, he has had staff refreshing the government supply website in the early hours to snap up scarce new stock as soon as it's available, and is considering restricting store hours. "While there was product to order we were very comfortably getting a large amount of it," says Burns, the CEO of Alcanna, a company that owns a chain of private liquor stores in Canada and the US and, now, cannabis stores in the province of Alberta. "But obviously, when there's literally none there, it doesn't matter how big you are, there's just none there. If the government warehouse is empty, it's empty. There's nothing you can do." Since the first day recreational cannabis was legalised in Canada, there have been shortages. Newfoundland's Thomas Clarke was one of the very first retailers to sell the drug legally in Canada at the stroke of midnight on 17 October. He says he sold out that day and was out-of-stock for nearly a week. Clarke has since been able to get product onto shelves but says he can't order exactly what he needs from the provincial supplier. "They're dictating to me numbers and quantities and products that they have to send me, so I definitely don't get to get everything I want," he says. "But I've had just enough to not run out."
11-12-18 Medical cannabis: Death sentence prompts Malaysia to re-think harsh laws
A death sentence given to a young man selling cannabis oil to the ill has stirred debate in Muslim-majority Malaysia about its ultra-tough drug laws. The case has prompted calls for the country to become the first in Asia to legalise medical marijuana - but long-held stigma and a mostly conservative population means change could come slowly. Yuki describes smoking her first joint as a turning point in her life. She is willing to risk being thrown in jail rather than give up a drug that she says has worked for her unlike any other. She first turned to what Malaysians call ganja at 29, after a frustrated Google search in pursuit of something that might help ease chronic, crippling pain from hypokalaemia - or low blood potassium. Beleaguered by a litany of health problems, including diabetes, she decided to try the drug. It was the early 2000s and public discussion of medical cannabis use was non-existent in Malaysia, a country with some of the world's harshest drug laws. Cultivating a single cannabis plant at home can land you in prison for natural life, while possession of more than 200g is almost certain to result in a death sentence. But Yuki, now 41, was desperate to try it. She bought some marijuana and asked her husband to roll her a joint. "All the pain was gone so finally I could sleep, I slept like a baby," she said. When she woke up the next morning, she felt her appetite coming back and devoured a meal of curry and rice. She then smoked another joint, and for the first time in a long time, felt up to doing house chores. "I had two growing kids at that time, one was nine years old, the other was 11. The two of them needed my attention but I could not give it to them because I was so sick," she said. After years of using opiates to deal with pain caused by her various medical problems, she felt liberated. More than a decade later, and after several arrests - including one episode in which her entire family, including the children, were held in a jail cell - Yuki has put herself at the forefront of a campaign to reform Malaysia's drug laws. She says she's not scared - for her "it's either cannabis or die".
11-9-18 Next to legalize weed?
Mexico’s Supreme Court effectively overturned the country’s ban on recreational marijuana use last week, calling it unconstitutional in a pair of rulings. The high court ruled that pot prohibition violates adults’ fundamental right to personal development, which lets them decide which recreational activities to pursue, and that it isn’t justified by marijuana’s effects. Similar judgments were reached in three other cases from 2015 to 2017, and under Mexican law five decisions on a related subject set a binding precedent. Marijuana technically remains illegal in Mexico, but the rulings mean users are unlikely to be prosecuted. It’s now up to the Mexican Congress to rework the law to comply with the court; it could aim for full-scale legalization or legalize possession of weed but not sales.
11-7-18 Marijuana may change the decision-making part of teen brains
A new rat study hints at damage during adolescence. Marijuana use during teenage years may change the brain in key decision-making areas, a study in rats suggests. “Adolescence is a dangerous time to be insulting the brain, particularly with drugs of abuse,” study coauthor Eliza Jacobs-Brichford said November 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Jacobs-Brichford and colleagues gave adolescent male and female rats a marijuana-like compound. Afterward, the researchers found changes in parts of the brain involved in making decisions. Normally, many of the nerve cells there are surrounded by rigid structures called perineuronal nets, sturdy webs that help stabilize connections between nerve cells. But in male rats that had been exposed to the marijuana-like compound in adolescence, fewer of these nerve cells, which help put the brakes on other cells’ activity, were covered by nets. Drug exposure didn’t seem to affect the nets in female rats. “Males look more susceptible to these drugs,” said Jacobs-Brichford, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
10-30-18 Young people’s memories improved when they stopped using marijuana
A new study suggests that some brain impairment can be reversed. Taking a monthlong break from pot helps clear away young people’s memory fog, a small study suggests. The results show that not only does marijuana impair teenagers’ and young adults’ abilities to take in information, but that this memory muddling may be reversible. Scientists have struggled to find clear answers about how marijuana affects the developing brain, in part because it’s unethical to ask children to begin using a drug for a study. But “you can do the opposite,” says neuropsychologist Randi Schuster. “You can get kids who are currently using, and pay them to stop.” For a study published October 30 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Schuster and her colleagues did just that. The team recruited 88 Boston-area youngsters ages 16 to 25 years old who reported using marijuana at least once a week, and offered 62 of them money to quit for a month. Participants were paid more money as the experiment went along, with top earners banking $535 for their month without pot. The money “worked exceptionally well,” says Schuster, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. Urine tests showed that 55 of the 62 participants stopped using marijuana for the 30 days of the experiment. Along with regular drug tests, participants underwent attention and memory tests. Tricky tasks that required close monitoring of number sequences and the directions and locations of arrows revealed that, over the month, young people’s ability to pay attention didn’t seem to be affected by their newfound abstinence. (Webmaster's comment: More evidence that marijuana fries your brain.)
10-30-18 People who gave up smoking cannabis had a memory boost within a week
Cannabis use really does weaken your memory. People who gave up smoking the drug saw their cognitive abilities improve after just a week. Though cannabis has a reputation for making people less mentally sharp, it’s hard to know if the drug causes the problems or if people who smoke it have a worse memory to begin with. The only definitive way to find out is a randomised trial, where some people who don’t normally smoke cannabis take it up for months, but this wouldn’t ever get past an ethics board. So Randi Schuster at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston hit on the idea of a trial that asks existing users to stop and compares them with a control group who continue. Schuster’s team recruited 88 people aged between 16 and 25 who used cannabis at least once a week. Two-thirds of them, chosen at random, were incentivised with cash to quit for a month, with regular urine tests to keep everyone honest. At the start of the trial and once a week they took various mental tests. The quitters scored significantly better in memory tasks in the first week, and stayed at that level for the rest of the month. Those who continued using cannabis only improved their scores slightly over the month, probably because they were getting used to the tests, says Schuster. Brain-scanning studies have shown that regular cannabis users have lower amounts of a receptor in the brain that binds chemicals in the drug. This receptor is normally found at high levels in the hippocampus, part of the brain involved in memory, says Tom Freeman at the University of Bath, UK, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It makes sense that this is where we are going to see the impairments.”
10-24-18 Liverwort plants contain a painkiller similar to the one in marijuana
The THC-like substance may have medical benefits minus the same kind of high. A chemical compound found in liverworts may provide the pain and inflammation relief of pot’s THC but without the same kind of high. Both the molecule, called perrotetinene, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the mind-altering substance found in marijuana — have similar molecular structures, a new study finds. And lab tests with human brain cells and in mice revealed that, like THC, perrotetinene easily attaches to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, or molecular docking stations, dampening the effects of pain signals, researchers report October 24 in Science Advances. “Nobody really notices [liverworts] because they're so small,” says Douglas Kinghorn, a phytochemist at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Sometimes you find important medicinal compounds in plants from unexpected sources.” A group of Japanese scientists in 1994 discovered perrotetinene in liverworts, but the new study is the strongest evidence yet that the compound is a psychoactive cannabinoid. Previously, cannabis was the only plant known to produce such cannabinoids. So far, only three species of liverwort in the Radula genus — found in Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Tasmania— are known to produce the compound. Because the plants make so little of the substance, researchers have struggled to study its effects, until now.
10-19-18 Weed now legal
Canadians stood in line for hours outside weed dispensaries and then lit up celebratory joints on sidewalks after their country legalized the recreational use of marijuana this week, fulfilling a 2015 election pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This is awesome,” said Tom Clarke, an illegal weed dealer turned pot store owner. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.” Each province is setting its own rules for sales. Quebec, for example, has only government-run dispensaries, staffed with cannabis counselors who can advise customers on which strain to pick to induce relaxation or euphoria. In some provinces, including Alberta and Ontario, online sales will be allowed.
10-19-18 Cannabis in Canada: Shortages, fines and Girl Guide cookies
As Canada became the second country to legalise marijuana on Wednesday, some areas faced their first major challenge as supply failed to meet demand. Customers queued for hours. Some retailers sold out on the first day, and shortages continued on Thursday. Online shoppers also faced delays as the new law came into effect, with high volumes affecting websites. Customers were warned to expect shipping delays of up to five days, as a postal strike looms next week. But the change was also lucrative: more than C$660,000 ($506,000; £387,000) was reportedly spent on the first day in Nova Scotia, one of Canada's smallest provinces. Shortages were reported in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, and in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Queues were still present at many outlets on Thursday, as customers turned away on the first day came back to try again. Traders weren't the only ones to take advantage of legalisation. Nine-year-old Girl Guide Elina Childs manage to raise C$120 by selling cookies to customers outside a cannabis shop in Edmonton, Alberta. There are still some restrictions on cannabis use and it did not take long for the first penalties to be issued, with one driver in Manitoba receiving a fine of C$672 for smoking in a vehicle.
10-18-18 Cannabis in Canada: How it went down on Legalisation Day
Across the country, Canadians queued for the chance to buy recreational cannabis legally for the first time. The end of prohibition on Wednesday was marked by parties, park hangouts and non-stop media coverage. But some worried that legalisation would increase use, especially amongst youth, and create new safety problems. The shift in policy was a watershed moment for the country, which is now one of only two nations in the world where marijuana is legal. The first person in Canada to buy marijuana legally was Ian Power, who was first in line in the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador when the clock struck midnight. "It's been my dream to be the first person to buy the first legal gram of cannabis in Canada, and here I finally am," he said. Across the country, and hours later, Alex Smith was among the many leaving the BC Cannabis Store with a brown paper bag in hand. The province-run retail store in Kamloops, located in an unassuming strip mall, is currently the only legal store in British Columbia. Provincial officials boasted about its clean "west coast casual" interior and range of products. Mr Smith called the experience of shopping there "a little surreal". "For my entire adult life I've been a closet pot smoker, trying to hide it because I do tend to run in circles that don't consume cannabis that often," he told the BBC. "Now that it's legal - and actually going into a storefront like this - I felt almost relieved but also justified in smoking pot. It's OK now, in the government's mind at least." (Webmaster's comment: Now every one in Canada can be a Pot Head! What an glorious achievement!)
10-17-18 Canada becomes second country to legalise recreational marijuana
The first recreational cannabis to be legally bought in Canada was purchased at midnight on Wednesday (02:30 GMT) on the eastern island of Newfoundland amid queues of hundreds of people. Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 2001. But concerns remain, including about the readiness for police forces to tackle drug impaired driving. Information has been sent to 15m households about the new laws and there are public awareness campaigns. Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. They are responsible for setting out where cannabis can be bought and consumed. This has created a patchwork of more or less restrictive legislation across the country.
10-16-18 Half-hearted cannabis legalisation move leaves patients in limbo
Medical cannabis is to be available in the UK from November, but tight restrictions will drive patients to alternative sources, says Henry Fisher. Any government looking to regulate medical cannabis has to chart a careful course between implementing a system that it is too permissive, to the extent that it is simply a facade for non-medical use, and one that is too restrictive, resulting in a system that fails to provide for patients. In a policy shift that will legalise the sale of medical as of November, the UK government has chosen to steer far closer to the second option. Cannabis not produced for medical use in humans remains a class B, schedule 1 substance, prohibited under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. Cannabis-based medicinal products, however, will become schedule 2 medicines, with one major exception: In a bid to prevent confusion for police going about their everyday business, smoking cannabis will remain illegal, regardless of its origin. Those prescribed cannabis will not be permitted to medicate themselves with the aid of a flame. This legal wizardry has created a new alchemical transmutation: medicine will mystically change into an illegal narcotic at the point that it is combusted and inhaled. Getting the medication in the first place won’t be easy. Only specialists can prescribe the medication, following a referral from a GP. For the UK’s regulations to lead to even modest levels of patient access, a huge programme of education among healthcare professionals will be required.
10-16-18 Legal cannabis in Canada: Should pot convicts get amnesty?
As Canada legalises recreational cannabis, what happens to the 500,000 people with existing criminal records for pot possession?
10-15-18 Cannabis in Canada: Who wins and who loses under new law
Canada is about to become the second nation to fully legalise recreational cannabis. When prohibition comes to an end on 17 October, Canadian adults will be able to purchase and consume the drug from federally licensed producers. Canada is about to become the second nation to fully legalise recreational cannabis. When prohibition comes to an end on 17 October, Canadian adults will be able to purchase and consume the drug from federally licensed producers. The country has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, particularly among young people. Canadians spent an estimated C$5.7bn ($4.6bn; £3.5bn) in 2017 alone on combined medical and recreational use - about $1,200 per user. The bulk of that spending was on black market marijuana. Uruguay was the first country to legalise recreational marijuana, although Portugal and the Netherlands have decriminalised the drug. Here's a look at some of the consequences of this sweeping transition in Canada - and the potential winners and losers. Lawyers - winners. Landlords - losers. Global brands - winners. 'Craft' cannabis producers - losers? Cannabis researchers - winners. Justin Trudeau - winner. Canada's cities - losers?
10-14-18 Canada cannabis legalisation: ‘We know the world is watching
For many Canadians, the idea of legal cannabis once seemed a pipe dream. But from 17 October, Canada will become the first G7 country to give recreational cannabis the green light. It's following a trail first blazed by Uruguay in 2013. "It's becoming a serious industry," says one entrepreneur. Supporters say legalisation will bring new medical advances and help stamp out drug-related crime. But some critics argue that long-term use can harm people's health. Others worry about how it will be policed. So who are some of the so-called "ganjapreneurs" riding this new legal high? Vinay Tolia ran his own hedge fund before becoming chief executive of Flowr this year. He co-founded the cannabis producer with Tom Flow, an industry veteran who sold his last firm, MedReleaf, for more than $2.5bn (£1.9bn). Vinay says getting into the legal cannabis industry is "the right thing to do from a social level". "You can objectively see that the drug policies have been a failure," he says. "And why not study it? There are tonnes of medicinal benefits waiting to be discovered that are going to be hugely beneficial to a lot of people." Flowr runs an 84,000-sq ft facility in British Columbia where it grows plants under highly controlled conditions. By managing humidity, airflow and other factors in a sterilised setting more akin to a pharmaceutical lab, Flowr says it can mass produce cannabis that's of a consistent, high quality. "There is a lot of painstaking care in making the right plant," says Vinay. "[Cannabis] is very sensitive. You can have the same strains in two different rooms with a slightly different temperature and get completely different chemical compositions." Flowr has also teamed up with gardening industry giant Scotts Miracle-Gro, opening a research facility to study pot genetics and how the plant can affect users.
10-12-18 I smoke weed. I'm still a responsible parent.
I don't want to shock you, but more than half of the 55 percent of American adults who use some form of cannabis are parents. Of that half, 16 million have children under the age of 18. Let me repeat that: Many cannabis users are parents. With. Young. Children. Many pot-smoking parents, even if they live in a state where weed is legal, feel the need to remain anonymous, so you may not know about the legions of them because stigma still abounds. I hereby exit the weed closet and admit that I am a parent who occasionally enjoys cannabis. But before you call social services, please hear me out. We all know that alcohol is a part of parent culture. Hell, it's a part of the culture. Sunday barbecues go with beer. Mom's night out is at a local wine bar. Weddings, birthdays, baseball games — you name it, Americans like to drink. And most people would agree that it's OK for a parent to have a glass of wine, or even two, while parenting. Obviously, not while driving one's kids to art class. Obviously, not with breakfast. Obviously, not to any kind of excess, since that's unhealthy for everyone, and potentially dangerous. But in moderation, it's okay. I think the same is true for cannabis. Adults can consume it responsibly and still be good parents. They can hold down jobs, pay bills, feed and house their families, and provide emotional support. They can teach their kids the social, self-care, and intellectual skills life requires and they — we — shouldn't be stigmatized.
10-11-18 Medicinal cannabis will be available in the UK from next month
The UK Home Secretary has announced that doctors will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis from next month following a specially commissioned review. Doctors in the UK will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients from 1 November, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced. Javid had decided to relax the rules about the circumstances in which cannabis products can be given to patients, after considering expert advice from a specially commissioned review. The new regulations apply to England, Wales and Scotland, and follow several high-profile cases, including that of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, children with epilepsy whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil. Alfie’s mother, Hannah Deacon, was one of many campaigners to welcome the move. “Today is a momentous day for every patient and family with a suffering child who wish to access medicinal cannabis. We urge the medical world to get behind these reforms so they can help the tens of thousands of people who are in urgent need of help,” she says. Mike Barnes, the medical cannabis expert who secured the first long-term licence for its use for Alfie, says: “This announcement has transformed the position of the UK in this exciting and developing field.” He added that some of his medical colleagues were unsure about the benefits, but that “compared to many pharmaceutical drugs, whole plant medical cannabis products are remarkably safe and, as recent high-profile cases have shown, can produce dramatic improvements for patients.”
9-28-18 Legal marijuana: A bubble about to burst?
The legal marijuana industry has gotten high on fantasies of massive growth, said Jordan Weissmann at Slate.com. Stocks of firms connected with the cannabis business have been “ripping higher” this year, a sign that the market might be suffering from “reefer madness.” Just look at Tilray, an obscure Canadian medical marijuana producer that was briefly worth $20 billion last week—about the same as the 124-year-old Hershey’s. Tilray’s stock rocketed after the firm announced that the U.S. DEA had granted it permission to export plants to the U.S. for medical research. CEO Brendan Kennedy then appeared on CNBC’s Mad Money and pledged to viewers that legal marijuana would soon be a $100 billion industry. But Tilray is still a tiny, money-losing company—and the DEA granted it the right to provide weed only for a single clinical trial involving 16 patients. Tilray is simply “the most extreme example of the froth foaming all over the marijuana sector.” Legal-weed executives are boasting that the industry is going to be so big, it doesn’t matter how little money their businesses are earning today—or that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. “That’s classic bubble talk.”
9-28-18 Pot smoker statistics
Baby Boomers ages 55 to 64 are slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than young people ages 12 to 17, according to a new federal drug use survey.
9-28-18 High before you Die
State health inspectors are investigating a Maine seafood restaurant that tried to sedate lobsters bound for the pot with marijuana. Restaurant owner Charlotte Gill pumped weed smoke into the crustaceans’ water tanks, saying it keeps the creatures calm and makes “an unbelievable” difference in their meat. She stopped selling the “high-end lobster” after state officials objected, saying that medical marijuana can only be provided to people with a doctor’s prescription. “Lobsters are not people,” a state spokesman noted.
9-25-18 Seattle judges throw out 15 years of marijuana convictions
Judges in Seattle have decided to quash convictions for marijuana possession for anyone prosecuted in the city between 1996 and 2010. City Attorney Pete Homes asked the court to take the step "to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of colour." Possession of marijuana became legal in the state of Washington in 2012. Officials estimate that more than 542 people could have their convictions dismissed by mid-November. Mr Holmes said the city should "take a moment to recognise the significance" of the court's ruling. "We've come a long way, and I hope this action inspires other jurisdictions to follow suit," he said. Mayor Jenny Durkan also welcomed the ruling, which she said would offer residents a "clean slate." "For too many who call Seattle home, a misdemeanour marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity - good jobs, housing, loans and education," she said. A total of 30 states in the US now allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In Washington state, it has been legal for medical use since 1998. Currently, nine states (as well as Washington DC) have also legalised marijuana for recreational use, subject to regulations about growing and selling the drug. Across the US, marijuana trafficking arrests (for selling or distributing the drug in violation of bans or restrictions) are falling, according to the US government's own figures.
9-24-18 Wall Street's reefer madness
Weed is the new bitcoin. While the world of marijuana-related companies trading on U.S. stock exchanges is not large, one of the premiere examples had a roller coaster ride last week. Tilray, a Canadian-based medical marijuana company, first started publicly trading in the U.S. in mid-July. It bounced around $25 a share through mid-August, then shot up to a peak of $263 on Wednesday — roughly a ten-fold increase in about a month. Things got so crazy the Nasdaq actually halted trades in the stock multiple times that day. By Friday afternoon it had settled to around $130 a share. Other marijuana stocks, such as Canopy Growth and GW Pharmaceuticals, also surged recently, but not by nearly the same amount. And the whole ride still leaves Tilray with a market value somewhere in the vicinity of $12 billion — more than Macy's, for context. It's hard to see this as anything other than Wall Street betting that marijuana will soon be fully, or at least mostly, legal in America. And it's hard to see the specifics of most of these bets as anything other than foolish. Now, as mentioned, Tilray is based in Canada. The company's website describes its mission as “cultivating and delivering the benefits of medical cannabis safely and reliably." And Canada has actually already legalized recreational marijuana use, though the change doesn't take effect until October. In America, marijuana use is legal to varying degrees in some states, but remains illegal nationally. That means any American company that invests in marijuana runs the risk of bringing down law enforcement's wrath. Tilray and other Canadian firms (like Canopy Growth) have no such problems. But trace the saga of Tilray's rise, and it's pretty clearly about American enthusiasm.
9-18-18 Church protests halt Georgia cannabis law
Georgia's government has halted moves to legalise medical marijuana cultivation after protests led by the country's powerful Orthodox church. civil.ge news site reports. "False information is being spread, so we need to pay particular attention to informing the public, and then take the decision together," he said, adding that opponents of the cannabis bill had "misled" Georgians into thinking it meant all drug restrictions would simply be dropped. The interior ministry confirmed earlier this month that it wanted to approve the cultivation of medical cannabis strictly for export, emphasising that the sale of marijuana in Georgia itself "will remain a criminal offence", IPN news agency reported. The row over the seemingly-innocuous bill blew up in the wake of a dramatic summer of protests over police drug raids that activists said targeted gay-friendly night clubs in the capital Tbilisi. The libertarian New Political Centre Girchi party launched a legal challenge to the drugs laws on the back of the protests, and the Constitutional Court effectively decriminalised cannabis for personal use. The government denied any anti-LGBT agenda, but for the Church and its allies the whole question of drugs is tied up with their opposition to gay rights. Fr Andria Jaghmaidze, who often puts the Church point of view across to the media, told the BBC that "LGBT propaganda promotes a drastically liberalised drugs policy that contradicts Church teachings". The news about the cannabis cultivation bill prompted expressions of concern by senior bishops, culminating in a forthright sermon on Sunday by Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Orthodox Church.
9-19-18 Arrests in Georgia church for selling edible marijuana
Two women have been arrested after they were caught selling sweets and cakes containing marijuana in a church in the US state of Georgia. The marijuana edibles Ebony Cooper and Leah Pressley were offering included cereal treats, brownies and puddings, police say. The arrests occurred at an event the church, in the city of Savannah, was holding for local entrepreneurs. The pair were detained after the event and face felony drugs charges. In a Facebook post, the local counter-narcotics team in Savannah said they uncovered the women openly selling the marijuana/tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) edibles on social media sites and decided to approach them at the event. Police say Ms Cooper was displaying the drugs on a table at the event, although the church was unaware of the illegal activities. Marijuana laws in the US vary from state to state, with nine states and Washington DC having legalised the drug, but it is illegal in Georgia.
9-18-18 South Africa's highest court legalises cannabis use
South Africa's highest court has legalised the use of cannabis by adults in private places. Pro-marijuana activists cheered in the public gallery and chanted "Weed are free now" when the Constitutional Court gave its landmark ruling. In a unanimous ruling, judges also legalised the growing of marijuana for private consumption. South Africa's government's had opposed its legalisation, arguing the drug was "harmful" to people's health. It has not yet commented on the ruling, which is binding. Three cannabis users who had faced prosecution for using the drug brought the case, saying the ban "intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres". In his judgement, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said: "It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption." It will, however, remain illegal to use cannabis in public, and to sell and supply it. The Cannabis Development Council of South Africa welcomed the ruling, and called on the government to drop charges against people found in possession of the drug.
9-17-18 Here’s how many U.S. kids are vaping marijuana
Nearly 1 in 11 middle and high school students have used pot in e-cigs, researchers say. More than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students — or nearly 1 in 11 — have vaped marijuana, a new study suggests. Based on reports of teens’ e-cigarette use in 2016, researchers estimate that nearly 1 in 3 high school students, or roughly 1.7 million, have used pot in the devices. Nearly 1 in 4 middle school students, or 425,000, have done the same, the team reports online September 17 in JAMA Pediatrics. The numbers are the first nationwide estimates of teens’ and preteens’ use of marijuana in e-cigs, based on data from 20,675 sixth- to 12th-graders who participated in the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The most widely used tobacco products among U.S. youth, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat and vaporize liquids that usually contain nicotine (SN: 5/28/16, p. 4). But the devices can also vaporize dried marijuana leaves or buds as well as oils or waxes made from the plant’s primary active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The number of youth using marijuana in e-cigarettes isn’t surprising, says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a developmental psychologist at Stanford University School of Medicine who was not involved in the study. “It’s easy; it’s accessible; they can be stealthy in using it.” Vaping marijuana can be done more discretely than smoking a joint because there isn’t as much of the telltale odor, if any. And legalization of marijuana in some states has led to increased access to the drug, she says, and a change in social norms regarding the drug’s use.
9-17-18 One in 11 US teens have vaped cannabis, new study finds
One in 11 US teenagers has used a vapouriser to consume cannabis, according to a new study which calls it an emerging and dangerous trend. The findings of the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey of more than 20,000 middle and high school pupils found that about 9% had vaped cannabis. Applied across the US, that would mean two million young people have used a vapouriser to get high off the drug. Officials say vapouriser companies need to do more to prevent public harm. The report - which was published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) Paediatrics edition - suggests that more and more children are using the electronic device to inhale marijuana vapour. "The use of marijuana in these products is of particular concern because cannabis use among youth can adversely affect learning and memory and may impair later academic achievement and education," Katrina Trivers, epidemiologist and lead author of the study, told tech website The Verge. According to the study, 12.4% of high school students and 4.5% of middle school students, said they had vaped cannabis.
9-17-18 Coca-Cola 'in talks' over cannabis-infused drinks
Coca-Cola is best known for its eponymous caffeine-based drink, but the firm now appears to be experimenting with a different drug: cannabis. According to Canada's BNN Bloomberg, the drinks giant is in talks with local producer Aurora Cannabis about developing marijuana-infused beverages. These would not aim to intoxicate consumers but to relieve pain. "Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive cannabidiol as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world," Coca-Cola said in a statement. Cannabidiol, a constituent of cannabis, can help ease inflammation, pain and cramping, but has no psychoactive effect. It comes as Canada prepares to follow certain US states in legalising cannabis for recreational use, after years of permitting it for medicinal purposes. It has given rise to a large pot growing industry and some high-profile partnerships. Earlier this year, beer giant Molson Coors Brewing said it would make cannabis-infused drinks with Hydropothecary, while Corona-beer maker Constellation Brands invested $4bn more into pot firm Canopy Growth. A partnership between Coke and Aurora would mark the first entry of a major manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks into the market. (Webmaster's comment: We're well on our way to becoming a nation of Pot-Heads!)
9-14-18 No toking on duty
With the recreational use of marijuana becoming legal across Canada on Oct. 17, the Canadian military has announced tight new weed restrictions for service members. Certain personnel—including pilots, submariners, and flight surgeons—will be completely banned from using marijuana 28 days before reporting for duty. For all other troops, no use is allowed for eight hours before normal duty; for those handling weapons, the restriction is 24 hours. By contrast, soldiers must refrain from drinking alcohol for only six hours before going on duty. Marijuana will not be allowed on military aircraft or ships, or among troops deployed abroad. The new rules, said Chief of Military Personnel Lt. Gen. Chuck Lamarre, “will ensure that our men and women are ready at all times.”
9-11-18 Marijuana use among pregnant women is rising, and so are concerns
Solid data on the dangers of the drug to pregnant women and babies are hard to come by. I’m relatively new to Oregon, but one of the ways I know I’m starting to settle in is my ability to recognize marijuana shops. Some are easy. But others, with names like The Agrestic and Mr. Nice Guy, are a little trickier to identify for someone who hasn’t spent much time in a state that has legalized marijuana. A growing number of states have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. At the same time, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are using the drug in increasing numbers. A 2017 JAMA study described both survey results and urine tests of nearly 280,000 pregnant women in Northern California, where medical marijuana was legalized in 1996. The study showed that in 2009, about 4 percent of the women tested used marijuana. In 2016, about 7 percent of women did. Those California numbers may be even higher now, since recreational marijuana became legal there this year. Some of those numbers may be due in part to women using marijuana to treat their morning sickness, a more recent study by some of the same researchers suggests. Their report, published August 20 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that pregnant women with severe nausea and vomiting were 3.8 times more likely to use marijuana than pregnant women without morning sickness. So some pregnant women are definitely using the drug, and exposing their fetuses to it, too. Ingredients in marijuana are known to make their way to fetuses by crossing the placenta during pregnancy (and by entering breast milk after the baby is born). But what actually happens when those marijuana compounds arrive?
9-10-18 Swiss nurture cannabis for medicinal use
Mention Swiss farming and images of dairy cows spring to mind - not cannabis plants. But now the government says it wants to do more research into medicinal cannabis and make treatments with it more available. On a farm in lush green countryside, an hour from the capital Berne, Markus Lüdi proudly surveys his crop. It's almost harvest time, and this year, after the long hot summer, it's likely to be a good one. His plants are valuable - as shown by the high fence and electronic gate protecting them. Markus is actually a chemist, not a farmer, and his crop consists of hundreds of cannabis plants, which he uses to produce cannabis-based medicine. Switzerland has flirted with legalising cannabis for 25 years, without ever taking the plunge. Possession of the drug for recreational use has been decriminalised, but cultivating or selling large quantities of cannabis containing more than 1% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the key psychoactive element in the plant, is a crime. Not so for Markus, however, as his plants are designated for medicinal use. "We have a special permit from the Swiss Federal Health Office," he explains. This harvest will be turned into cannabis tincture, and cannabis oil. There will be enough to last several hundred patients across Switzerland for a year. And he can grow a 10% surplus, in case more patients are prescribed it. But Markus cannot export his products, despite demand from neighbouring Germany, where medicinal cannabis is permitted.
9-7-18 Breastfeeding and marijuana
Now that marijuana has become legal for recreational use in eight states, and for medical use in 30, a growing number of people consider the drug largely harmless. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has a simple message for nursing mothers: Don’t touch the stuff. The AAP examined 50 mothers who used marijuana, with children ranging from newborns to toddlers more than a year old, reports CNN.com. The researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in weed known as THC, could be detected in breast milk up to six days after use of the drug. While previous research has suggested that THC can cross to the fetus via the placenta, potentially affecting brain development, the AAP’s study didn’t look into how or whether the milk’s recipient could be affected. But the researchers concluded that until more is known, taking the drug while breastfeeding simply isn’t worth the risk. Study author Christina Chambers, from the University of California, San Diego said the findings should be a “call to action” for long-term research.
8-16-18 Corona beer owner to pour $4bn into weed
Corona beer owner Constellation Brands is set to pour some $4bn (£3.15bn) into Canada's top cannabis producer, Canopy Growth, in a deal marking the largest investment in the industry to date. Last year, Constellation injected $200m into Canopy in a deal to produce a non-alcoholic cannabis-based beverage. The alcohol firm wants to capitalise on the growing legalisation of the drug. On news of the deal, Canopy's Toronto-listed stock surged 30%, while on Wall Street, Constellation's fell 6%. The two firms said the investment would allow Canopy to expand its business reach "in the nearly 30 countries pursuing a federally permissible medical cannabis programme". Canopy, which has the largest legal cannabis production footprint in the world, currently produces cannabis-based oils and soft gel caps, among other products. With Constellation's latest injection of cash, Canopy plans to expand its suite of products to include edible bars, inhalers and pre-rolled items. It also wants to develop cannabinoid-based medicines that provide a safer alternative to some mainstream treatments for pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and psoriasis. "This [deal] marks the end of the warm-up in our sector... it's fully go-time," said Canopy's chief executive Bruce Linton on an investment call. Constellation, which makes and markets beer, wine and spirits in the US, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Italy, noted that governments around the world had already signalled a significant change in attitudes towards cannabis and cannabis-based products.
8-16-18 Dozens overdose in Connecticut park near Yale
Police have made three arrests after more than 70 people overdosed in a Connecticut city. Some 52 of the 71 overdoses happened on New Haven's downtown green, next to Yale University's campus, said Fire Chief John Alston. The first three overdoses were reported on Tuesday night and the tally steadily rose throughout Wednesday, officials said. New Haven officials said the substance was K2, a synthetic cannabinoid. The incident comes in the wake of a new report that found a record 72,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2017. One man arrested on Wednesday is suspected of a connection to some of the drugs that caused the overdoses, NBC News Connecticut reported. Dr Kathryn Hawk, an Emergency Department physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, said the K2 may have been laced with fentanyl, a potent painkiller, but police have yet to confirm this. No one has died, but two individuals were in a critical condition. On Tuesday night, emergency crews responded to three overdoses in New Haven Green park. Eighteen people collapsed on Wednesday morning within a span of three-and-a-half hours, officials said. Some of the people were unconscious - others were vomiting, hallucinating or experiencing high blood pressure and shallow breathing.
8-15-18 Snapshot: About One in Four Young Adults Use Marijuana
While 13% of Americans say they "regularly" or "occasionally" use or smoke marijuana, the rate is significantly higher among the 18 to 29 age group and is higher in the West than in other regions of the country. Marijuana is most popular among 18- to 29-year-olds -- about one in four (24%) adults in this age group report regularly or occasionally using it. This is on par with an average 22% of 18- to 29-year-olds across three surveys from 2015 to 2017 who answered "yes" when asked whether they do, or do not, "smoke marijuana." In both the latest and previous questions on the topic, use of marijuana is progressively lower in each older age bracket. Meanwhile, one in five adults living in the West (20%), where all coastal states have legalized recreational marijuana, use marijuana regularly or occasionally, which is about twice as high as in the other three regions of the country.
7-26-18 Cracking down on illegal cannabis with edible barcodes and blockchains
A start-up is tracing legal cannabis sold in the US to fight counterfeiting, using edible barcodes and a blockchain – the technology behind cryptocurrencies. The software behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin has found an unlikely use – stopping counterfeit drugs. Using edible barcodes and a blockchain, TruTag Technologies, based in Hawaii, believes it can track cannabis sold legally in the US. The firm tags cannabis edibles, such as brownies or lollipops, with tiny silica particles described as edible barcodes. The idea is that these barcodes are very difficult to imitate and can be scanned to reveal that a particular product is legitimate. Similar tags have been used for medication since 2016, and TruTag will carry out small-scale pilot projects with cannabis later this year once engineering development is complete. The company is discussing partnerships with several local and state legislators. The tags are created by etching a thin silicon wafer with a coded pattern of tiny holes. The wafer is ground into microscopic particles that retain the optical code of the original wafer, which are attached to the surface of the cannabis. Anyone can then read the codes with a special handheld optical scanner and check them online. The online portion of the system is a blockchain-based database developed by Tag-It Tec, based in Seattle. Blockchain is a form of digital ledger originally developed for cryptocurrencies that can publicly record information in a way that is difficult to tamper with. Once someone scans a cannabis edible, the Tag-It database shows the producer, place and date of origin of a cannabis product, confirming it is safe and legal. This makes the supply chain transparent say Lucas Scholl at TruTag Technologies.
7-25-18 An exclusive look inside the UK’s legal medical cannabis farm
As the row over medical cannabis usage in the UK continues, Amy Fleming visits the only people in the country with a licence to grow marijuana. IN A vast glasshouse in the south of England, cannabis cultivator David Potter is rubbing a plant labelled “Skunk #1” to unleash its unique faecal odour. He is surrounded by different varieties, all in heady bloom under the light sensors, ceiling shades and lamps at GW Pharmaceuticals’ cannabis breeding and medicine production facility. It is the only firm able to grow the plant in the UK. Wearing a white lab coat, he next coaxes out a lemon and pine aroma from a wild Afghan plant. You would never guess that it is a close relative of Skunk #1. Skunk #1 is used in the production of Sativex, the first marijuana medicine to be approved for use in the UK, which helps people with multiple sclerosis to manage muscle spasms. GW, where Potter is botanical director, sells the drug in 29 countries, making the UK the world-leading legal cannabis exporter. Another cannabis-based GW drug, Epidiolex, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration last month for the treatment of two complex childhood epilepsies: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex is the first cannabis-based drug to be approved in the US and is likely to get the nod for use in Europe in early 2019. The use of medical cannabis in the UK has come under increased scrutiny thanks to high profile cases such as that of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, whose mother illegally brought cannabis oil back from Canada to reduce the frequency of his epileptic seizures. The Home Office is now reviewing the law and has temporarily granted Billy legal access to the oil. Last week, the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products to people with certain medical conditions.
7-20-18 Push for legal weed, abortion
The jurist who may serve as Mexico’s next interior minister has said that she will seek to decriminalize abortion in the first trimester. Abortion is currently only legal in Mexico in cases of rape or to save the mother’s life. But Olga Sánchez Cordero, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s pick for the interior ministry, said women “should not be deprived” of the right to an abortion, and vowed to discuss the issue with Mexico’s 32 state legislatures. López Obrador’s Morena party took a majority in 22 of the state legislatures earlier this month. Sánchez Cordero also said she would push at a state level for legalizing marijuana use. “Canada has already decriminalized, as well as almost half of the states in the U.S.,” she said in a radio interview. “Why are we killing ourselves when North America and many European countries have decriminalized?”
7-20-18 Lebanese farmer: Growing cannabis should be legal
The Lebanese government is considering legalising cannabis for medical purposes. A farmer explains why he thinks this could "benefit everyone".
6-26-18 First cannabis-based drug approved in the US to treat epilepsy
Epidiolex has become the first drug derived from marijuana to win FDA approval in the US, and will be used to treat two forms of childhood epilepsy. It tastes of strawberry, but Epidiolex is the first drug approved in the US containing an ingredient from marijuana. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug on 25 June for the treatment of two rare but severe forms of childhood epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The active ingredient in the drug is cannabidiol, and it contains only a trace of the psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. In clinical trials, Epidiolex proved effective at helping people with these conditions control their seizures. “This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies,” said Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner. But he warned that the organisation would continue to punish illegal marketing of cannabidiol-containing products with unproven medical claims. The UK government last week announced a review into the possible use of marijuana-based medical products, in the wake of much public debate over the use of cannabis oil to treat epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals, which developed Epidiolex, expects a decision on European approval early next year. In 2010, it won UK approval to sell Nabiximols for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the first marijuana-based drug approved in the world. The company is also developing cannabis-based treatments for epilepsy, schizophrenia and glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer for which there are no reliable treatments.
6-22-18 Weed is legal
Canada’s Senate voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this week, making Canada the second country in the world after Uruguay to fully legalize the drug. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made legalization a central plank of his 2015 election campaign. “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau said. “Today, we change that.” The federal government will regulate marijuana production, and under-18s will be prohibited from buying the drug. Anyone caught selling to minors could face up to 14 years in jail. The new legislation will come into force in October. Canada’s legal pot market is expected to be worth $5 billion.
6-20-18 Canada's parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.
Canada's parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide. The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold. Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September. The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug's recreational use. Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013, while a number of US states have also voted to permit it. Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001. The bill will likely receive Royal Assent this week, and the government will then choose an official date when the law will come into force. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that until now, "it's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits".
6-19-18 Time to end the cruel ban on using cannabis therapy for epilepsy
Ill-conceived and outdated drug laws in the UK are denying children with severe epilepsy vital medicinal cannabis treatments. That must change, says David Nutt. The heartbreaking stories of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley highlight the ridiculous and cruel situation that parents of children with severe epilepsy are put in by the UK’s outmoded policy on cannabis medicines. Parents of both boys say cannabis oil is crucial to controlling fits but have faced official prohibition, including confiscation. Only now are government ministers talking about a rethink. This is a long-running injustice. Cannabis was a medicine in the UK until 1971 when it was made illegal by the Misuse of Drugs Act. The reason given was that cannabis was becoming a drug of misuse and that two London GPs campaigning for its recreational legalisation were prescribing it with the intent that patients smoke it for pleasure. The GPs were, quite reasonably, struck off, but the enduring ban on cannabis is problematic for two reasons. First, it failed to reduce cannabis use, because in the decades since the ban the number of cannabis users has increased over 20-fold. Second, it severely impeded clinical research. There is a lot of evidence from other countries that cannabis preparations can have a wide range of therapeutic effects, including in some forms of previously intractable epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome. The ban on cannabis has effectively stopped UK clinical research on this anti-epilepsy effect despite significant breakthroughs in UK pre-clinical research on the cannabis extract THCV – a powerful anti-epilepsy agent that has no psychoactive activity but for historical reasons falls foul of the act.
6-8-18 Quarter pound for every man, woman, and child
Oregon has halted processing new applications for legal marijuana businesses amid signs the industry is growing too quickly. The state now has a glut of 1 million pounds of weed—or a quarter pound for every man, woman, and child. State economists warned that Oregon now has few job applicants who can pass a drug test, indicating “a broader increase in drug usage.”
6-6-18 Take a look inside the world's largest legal cannabis farm
Canada is on the verge of legalising marijuana for recreational use. The BBC visited a huge cannabis farm in British Columbia, which the operators say is the largest facility of its kind in the world.
6-3-18 The truth about weed and the brain
It may make sense to legalize marijuana, said neuroscientist Judith Grisel, but Americans are being “astoundingly naïve about how the widespread use of pot will affect communities and individuals, particularly teenagers.” The research on marijuana’s effects on the brain shows that the ingredient that causes its “high,” delta-9-THC, can indeed dampen motivation and interfere with a successful life, as well as lead to “tolerance, dependence, and craving—the hallmarks of addiction.” In particular, the research on THC’s impact on the developing adolescent brain is “inconveniently alarming.” Teens who smoke weed regularly, studies show, have reduced activity in brain circuits critical to noticing new information and making decisions; they are 60 percent less likely to graduate from high school, “are at substantially increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism,” and are seven times more likely to attempt suicide. Recent studies even show that THC can turn on or off genetic expression in a teenager’s epigenome, making young users’ children “at increased risk for mental illness and addiction” years before they are conceived. Yes, it’s true that alcohol and tobacco also have caused great damage, but let’s not pretend that marijuana is “benign or beneficial.” And let’s not pretend that legalizing weed will be without costs.
5-29-18 'I want to produce the world's best cannabis'
In the blistering heat of the Coachella desert, armed security guards ensure there are no unwanted visitors at a gated industrial complex. The smell is a giveaway before you step inside the nondescript buildings. With dozens of fans whirring, and under bright lights, Lars Havens shows us thousands of cannabis plants being cultivated by his company, Del-Gro. Most of the seven-acre (2.8ha) site is still being developed but several rooms are already operational. Lars has been a nurse, a professional rugby player, mixed martial arts fighter, and a bar manager. Now he's hoping to capitalise on the world's biggest legal marijuana industry. On 1 January this year, California began licensing local businesses to grow cannabis for sale within the state. The total economic output from America's legal cannabis, worth $16bn (£12bn) last year, is forecast to grow 150% to $40bn by 2021, according to BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research. Last year, Aspen, Colorado, became the first US city to sell more marijuana than alcohol. "I moved out here to California to put forward a product that connoisseurs are going to be interested in," says Lars. "I want to produce the world's best cannabis." His product will have to be good, because legal producers will never be able to beat California's illegal dealers on price. Lars claims cannabis is the "most heavily taxed product" in the whole state, taxed at close to 40% when all the various levies are taken into account, and that this might be unsustainable. "I think you'll start to see some deregulation on taxes, because right now they're almost pricing themselves out of the market." California's new laws also made it illegal to export the drug out of state, raising concerns about overproduction. This has been a major problem in Oregon, where there's simply too much cannabis, and farmers have seen prices drop by 50%. It shows the difficulty and unpredictability of creating a legal market for something which is already available on the black market.
5-18-18 Estonia's Kanepi town adopts cannabis leaf flag after online poll
An Estonian town has taken a cannabis leaf as the symbol in its new flag following an online poll. Kanepi, a south-eastern town and region, derives its name from the Estonian word for marijuana, "kanep". Residents traditionally grew marijuana and hemp to turn into goods such as cloth, oil, and rope. However January's poll has generated controversy because the area has a population of fewer than 5,000 but there were 15,000 votes. Some 12,000 of the votes cast were for the cannabis symbol. The chairman of the town council, Kaido Koiv, said the decision was the result of a "very democratic" process, Reuters reported. At a town council meeting on Thursday, the local government narrowly approved the decision to adopt the flag: nine members of the council voted in favour of it with eight against. The municipality was created last July through the merger of three previously separate districts and residents were given the chance to vote on a new symbol to represent the district. The possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use in Estonia is a crime punishable with a fine.
5-17-18 Harsh: Europe’s cannabis died just as the first farmers arrived
Cannabis – the source of the drug marijuana – virtually disappeared from Europe just as farmers arrived, so they didn’t get the chance to grow it for another 4500 years. Cannabis – the source of the drug marijuana – grew wild across Europe at the end of the Stone Age, but by the time early farmers reached the continent it was vanishing. It seems Europe’s first farmers just missed out on the opportunity to cultivate cannabis and reap its benefits – including its mind-bending properties. Researchers often use ancient pollen from archaeological deposits to work out which plants once grew in a place. However, it’s difficult to do this for cannabis, because its pollen looks just like that of a related plant, the common hop. Now John McPartland at the University of Vermont in Burlington and his colleagues think they have a solution to the cannabis/hop identity problem. He argues that wild versions of the two plants grow in different environments: cannabis on cold grassy steppes, hop in warmer woodlands. If the other pollen trapped in an ancient deposit comes from steppe-like plants, McPartland says, we can assume any cannabis-like pollen really does come from wild cannabis. The team re-examined pollen data from almost 500 European archaeological sites, dating back between 18,500 and 1200 years. They concluded that wild cannabis grew across Europe deep in prehistory. But the continent warmed up between 10,000 and 7500 years ago, so steppe-like conditions gave way to forests – and cannabis gave way to the hop. “That’s global warming for you,” says McPartland.
5-2-18 High times: The Victorian doctor who promoted medical marijuana
Thanks to one man's researches, cannabis was drug of choice for ailments from migraine to epilepsy – until an unexpected twist led to its downfall. ON THE evening of 6 November 1838, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy received an urgent note from the hospital where he worked. Could he come immediately? One of his patients was exhibiting “very peculiar and formidable” symptoms. Alarmed, he rushed to the man’s bedside. O’Shaughnessy, assistant surgeon with the East India Company’s Bengal Medical Service, had reason to worry. The patient was one of the first human guinea pigs in his pioneering experiments with cannabis. A few hours earlier, the man had been given a modest dose of cannabis resin dissolved in alcohol. What might have gone wrong? To a scientifically inclined physician based in India, cannabis – or Indian hemp – was a prime candidate for investigation. It was popular as a means of intoxication, but local doctors also valued it as a treatment for a range of ailments. In 1813, one of O’Shaughnessy’s predecessors reported somewhat sniffily on the intemperate habits of those who indulged in the various preparations. But O’Shaughnessy believed cannabis would make a useful addition to Western medicine and decided to put it to the test. O’Shaughnessy wasn’t just a doctor: he was also a skilled analytical chemist with a modern approach to medical research. He had made a big impression with his meticulous analyses of blood and excreta from people with cholera during an outbreak in England in 1831. He showed that patients were dangerously dehydrated and that bloodletting – then standard treatment – did more harm than good. Two years later, O’Shaughnessy landed a job with the East India Company and set sail for Calcutta. For millennia, cannabis had been used as a medicine from Egypt to India and China. It had been a traditional remedy in Europe, too, but was hurriedly dropped after Pope Innocent VIII condemned it in 1484 as “an unholy sacrament”. By the 19th century, cannabis was largely forgotten in the West.
4-30-18 Why America will regret legalizing marijuana
The Democrats have a new moral crusade. It's youth-oriented and free of identity politics. It's got nothing to do with Trump, or Russia. Today's Democrats are fighting for your right to get baked. If you're skeptical, please understand that this is not just a plunge into unfettered hedonism. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) really said it all with his ostentatiously-titled Marijuana Justice Act, which decriminalizes the drug and also expunges older marijuana-related convictions. He's one of a growing crowd of Democrats who are lining up to tout the economic and moral blessings that might flow from legal weed. This is about freedom, they tell us. It's about opening opportunities to women and minorities. Frankly, we've just been very unfair to our spiky-leaved friend. The winds do seem to be changing on this issue, and not just among Democrats. President Trump, possibly in a peevish effort to snub his attorney general, has declared his willingness to "protect" states that have legalized pot. John Boehner, a longtime foe of marijuana, is now personally sitting on the board of a cannabis company. Proponents of legalization point to the tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenues that have sprung from Colorado's 5-year-old market. Everyone keeps repeating how the new laws have really "worked"; post-legalization, "the sky hasn't fallen." That's a disturbingly low bar. One wonders: Is empyrean collapse the only thing that might move Colorado to reconsider a decision that has filled the state with dispensaries, pot tourists, and rising numbers of homeless addicts? Changes in policy can be destructive even if they don't bring civilization to an end. If, as seems fairly likely, legal pot is soon available from sea to shining sea, how will our grandchildren view that decision? Will it seem to them that 2018 was the right time to throw open the gates to yet another recreational drug?
4-24-18 Stoner app lets cannabis users keep track of how high they are
A series of smartphone tests that score memory and reaction are intended to make cannabis use safer and lead to a better understanding of the drug. Dude, am I stoned? An app that tests memory, attention and reaction – traits that are often impaired by cannabis use – aims to answer that question by giving people a measurement of how well (or badly) they performed. Cannabis is now legal in a small but growing number of countries. Researchers at the University of Chicago made the app in the hope that it will make cannabis use safer, helping those who take it understand how the drug is affecting them. “One of our long-term goals is for the app to improve the safety of cannabis use by making individual users more aware of their impairment,” says team leader Harriet de Wit. Still in its trial period, the app – called Am I Stoned – is also designed to collect data from users, which the team thinks will contribute to the overall scientific understanding of how cannabis affects people. For example, there is some evidence that moderate cannabis might reverse brain aging in the elderly. The system was tested on 24 non-daily cannabis users who consumed a capsule containing either a placebo or 7.5 or 15 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in cannabis that intoxicates users. Participants then completed a range of tests designed to detect impairment on a computer and on a smartphone to test their motor skills and behaviour. “The effects of THC on performance may be subtle, so we need highly sensitive tasks to detect impairments,” says team member Elisa Pabon.
4-12-18 Marijuana eaten by mice, say Argentina police officers
Eight Argentine police officers have been dismissed for blaming missing drugs on mice. Investigators discovered 540kg (1,191lb) of marijuana missing from a police warehouse in Pilar, north-west of Buenos Aires. The city's former police commissioner, Javier Specia, and fellow officers told a judge the drugs were "eaten by mice". Forensic experts doubted mice would see the drugs as food, and would have probably died if they had eaten it. A spokesperson for Judge Adrián González Charvay said that according to experts at Buenos Aires University, "mice wouldn't mistake the drug for food" - and even if they did, "a lot of corpses would have been found in the warehouse". The police officers will now testify in front of the judge on 4 May. The court will decide if the drugs are missing due to "expedience or negligence".
3-6-18 Estonian district votes to get cannabis leaf flag
Citizens in an Estonian district have chosen the cannabis leaf as the symbol on their new flag and coat of arms, it's reported. The Kanepi municipality in southeast Estonia was created last July through the merger of three previously separate districts ;and as a result of the local government shake-up, residents were given the chance to vote on a new symbol to represent the district, state broadcaster ERR says. The overwhelmingly popular choice among the people of Kanepi was a design based on the cannabis leaf. According to ERR, "kanep" is the Estonian word for cannabis. Mayor Andrus Seeme told local media that the winning design received 12,000 of the total 15,000 votes cast, and said that he would respect the public's wishes. Cannabis is illegal in Estonia, however, government official Gert Uiboaed says that nobody will stand in any local authority's way if they want to use cannabis-based symbolism. "Cannabis has been used as a heraldic symbol for a long time," Mr Uiboed said. "It is up to the local government to decide exactly what symbols and ideas they want."
2-22-18 Budding narco-state
The Netherlands is becoming a safe haven for gangs that traffic drugs and people, the Dutch police union said this week. After the country softened its stance on marijuana in the 1970s, letting small amounts of weed be sold at so-called coffee shops, it grew into a hub for drug trafficking. Now most of the ecstasy taken in Europe and the U.S. comes from Dutch labs run by Moroccan gangs, and half of the cocaine consumed in Europe enters through the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Officers say they are overwhelmed by drug gang–related crime but are powerless to cut off the criminals’ revenue sources. Amsterdam’s police chief, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said his force spent up to 70 percent of its time tackling gang-related hit jobs.
1-19-18 Where weed is a branding opportunity
Canada’s most iconic indie band could soon become the face of legal marijuana, said Jeffrey Jones and Christina Pellegrini. The Tragically Hip, which toured and played for more than 30 years, until the death of lead singer Gord Downie from brain cancer last October, has invested deeply in the recreational cannabis industry. The band has a $30 million investment in Newstrike, a medical marijuana producer that could get a big boost later this year when the federal government legalizes recreational weed, fulfilling a campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Hip intends to “lend its unique rock vibe—one that, for many fans, evokes summers in Canadian Shield cottage country—to the marijuana brand.” Some Newstrike weed varieties might be named after Hip songs or lyrics, and vaporizer pens could be emblazoned with a Hip logo. Other weed-friendly artists have already partnered with legal marijuana ventures, such as rapper Snoop Dogg and the family of Bob Marley. And Hip lead guitarist Rob Baker says the move isn’t such a stretch for the band. It already has its own wine label, he says, and music, drinking, and toking are all activities that bring Canadians together. But Baker, 55, won’t be sampling any Newstrike products—he gave up weed a few years ago. “I felt,” he said, “like I hit my lifetime quota.”
1-12-18 Sessions targets legal marijuana
Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw the burgeoning legal marijuana market into turmoil last week by empowering U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal laws against pot in states where the drug has been legalized. Sessions, a fierce opponent of legalizing weed, announced he was scrapping an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from filing charges in some states because marijuana activity “is a serious crime” and the hands-off approach “undermines the rule of law.” Now it will be up to each of the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively they want to pursue weed cases. Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The announcement sparked a bipartisan backlash from lawmakers in states that have legalized marijuana. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow the use of pot for medical purposes; eight states have legalized recreational sales. Altogether, the legal weed market is expected to reach $9 billion by the end of this year, with some 4,500 medical and recreational shops across the country. But Sessions’ move could slow the industry’s growth if investors become leery of the shifting legal terrain. “It’s a really scary time for us,” said Jaime Lewis, who owns a Denver-based marijuana edibles company.
1-12-18 Legalizing marijuana
61% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, up from 57% last year and 31% in 2000. 70% of Millennials, 66% of Gen Xers, and 56% of Baby Boomers approve of legalizing marijuana. 58% of those older than 75 oppose legalization.
A Kansas lawmaker who opposes legal marijuana claims the drug has a bad effect on black people. Republican state Rep. Steve Alford told a town-hall meeting that marijuana was originally banned because African-Americans “responded the worst” to cannabis, owing to their “character makeup, their genetics.” Alford later apologized.
1-7-18 Weed wars: California county fights illegal marijuana
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced prosecutors are prepared to challenge states that have legalised cannabis. But in some, like California, the battle over its production is raging on.
1-5-18 Legal weed
California’s law permitting sales of recreational marijuana went into effect this week, making the state the sixth to legalize pot and creating the nation’s largest legal marijuana marketplace. Eager buyers lined up in the early hours of Jan. 1 outside dispensaries in cities, including San Diego and Berkeley, that have embraced the voters’ decision last year to legalize pot sales for adults over 21. But it could be some time before legal weed becomes widely available throughout the state, with pot sellers facing substantial bureaucratic hurdles as the state refines how to regulate sales. Many municipalities have yet to finalize their own rules for marijuana businesses, and others have banned sales outright. The new law is expected to generate at least $1 billion a year in tax revenue for the state. More than 1 in 5 Americans now live in a state where they can legally buy recreational marijuana.
1-5-18 Marijuana legalization is the next great winning issue for Democrats
Ditch the antiquated drug warrior nonsense and light up. Marijuana is under attack. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending former President Barack Obama's policy of allowing states to experiment with their own legal marijuana proposals. Instead, the issue will be left up to local U.S. attorneys, most of whom have been appointed by President Trump. At least some of the state-level experiments in fully legalized marijuana are at risk of going up in flames. Sessions is a longtime opponent of marijuana, so no one should really be surprised that he's going after legal pot. Still, it's a terrible new policy — and it opens up a big, easy opportunity for Democrats, who must ditch their antiquated drug warrior baggage and join Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in getting behind legal marijuana immediately. For one thing, legal marijuana is extremely popular, and getting more so by the minute. Gallup's poll shows support for legalization increasing from 40 percent in 2008 to 64 percent as of October 2017. It's also an excellent issue for driving youth turnout — support has increased among all age cohorts, but especially among millennials, 71 percent of whom supported legalization in October 2016.
1-4-18 Canadian cannabis grower Aurora heads to Europe
A Canadian marijuana maker is set to sell cannabis in several European countries after striking a deal with Denmark's biggest tomato producer. Aurora Cannabis is partnering with Alfred Pedersen & Son to produce cannabis for medical use in Europe. The greenhouses used for tomatoes can be converted to grow the drug as both plants have similar growth needs. The joint venture will focus on selling cannabis in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Aurora Nordic Cannabis will build a production facility that can produce up to 120,000kg of cannabis annually, Aurora said. Alfred Pedersen was granted a licence to cultivate cannabis from Denmark's Medicines Agency this week. The drug has become legal in Denmark as part of a four-year trial, allowing patients with illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis to obtain cannabis on prescription. It remains illegal for recreational use.
1-4-18 Medicinal cannabis: Australia aims to become top exporter
The Australian government has said it aspires to be the world's leading exporter of medicinal cannabis. The nation plans to change its regulations to join Canada and the Netherlands in selling products beyond a domestic market. Uruguay and Israel have announced similar plans. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the move would also help local patients. Australia legalised the use of medicinal cannabis in 2016. Using the drug for recreation remains illegal. "Our goal is very clear: to give Australian farmers and manufacturers the best shot at being the world's number one exporter of medicinal cannabis," Mr Hunt said. Changing national regulations will require parliamentary approval. That could happen as soon as February with support from the Labor opposition. The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported the changes would extend of products including oils, patches, sprays, lozenges and tablets.
1-2-18 Californians can now buy marijuana for recreational use
The state already has a booming marijuana industry, on 1 January, it California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use. On 1 January, California became the sixth US state to make marijuana legally available for recreational use. Because the state is the nation’s most populous, the move could hasten cannabis’s legalisation across the US. California banned cannabis in 1913, but penalties for using the drug have eased since the 1970s. In 1996, it was the first state to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes. Since 2016, it has been legal to grow, possess and use small amounts of the drug. The state already has a booming marijuana industry, producing as much as seven times more cannabis than is consumed there. Much of this is sold illegally in other states. According to Alex Traverso of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, around 100 dispensaries in the state were licensed to sell cannabis for recreational use on Monday. The bureau had worked over the holiday period to try to process 1,400 licence applications for marijuana-related firms. Recreational marijuana has already been legalised in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. Legal sales of the drug are expected to begin in Massachusetts later this year. “A third of the US now has legal access to marijuana for non-medical use,” says Steve Rolles of the UK drug regulation think tank Transform. “California may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, forcing the government to review federal legislation which currently rules the drug to be illegal.”
1-1-18 Recreational cannabis use becomes legal in California
California has become the largest state in the US to legalise recreational cannabis use. As of 1 January 2018, adults aged over 21 can possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of the drug and can grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Opponents say the law will lead to more driving under the influence of the drug and introduce young people to drug use. But business is eyeing what could be an industry worth tens of billions of dollars in the next few years. Californians voted in favour of Proposition 64 legalising cannabis 14 months ago, in a poll that took place alongside the US presidential vote. Since then, a complicated patchwork of taxes and regulations has been drawn up to govern sales of the drug. Critics say the red tape will discourage consumers, growers and retailers from leaving the state's vast black market and only a few dozen shops have so far been approved to open. The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have yet to sanction any recreational marijuana outlets. "The first year, two years are going to be a mess," as cities agree their own regulations and supply and demand is established, Troy Dayton told AFP news agency. He is the CEO of Arcview, a company that analyses the global cannabis market. He predicted there could be "crazy fluctuation in price over the first year or two". Nonetheless, the potential rewards are huge in the US's wealthiest and most populous state. In 1996, California was the first state to legalise marijuana for medicinal use.
With doctor's advice and under prescription control legalizing
Medical Marijuana seems like a good idea, but the above scientific
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