A STEP TOO FAR THIS TIME AGAINST MEDICAL CANNABIS USERS [HEMP Party]

In the wake of another medical cannabis supplier being raided, HEMP Party president Michael Balderstone said, “The government has overstepped the mark this time on medical cannabis and poked a hornets nest in SA. People are furious about Jenny Hallam’s bust. Not only has the medicine been taken but the police report is deceptive saying they confiscated cannabis and chemicals. There were no chemicals taken.”

Regulating cannabis is inevitable. We should talk about getting it right [The Guardian]

Regulating cannabis like alcohol or tobacco would enable governments to enforce clear product labeling and a minimum age at which people can purchase cannabis. It would also enable controls over the quality of production and therefore eliminate the heavy metals, pesticides and micro-organisms rife in cannabis sold in today’s black market. Regulatory models being imposed in US states remove criminal penalties for small scale domestic cultivation for personal consumption. This makes sense but most cannabis consumers continue to purchase rather than grow their supplies after legalisation. Market regulation is the main game, and it would be an opportunity to draw on the lessons learned from alcohol and tobacco – including the mistakes.

Committee refuses to investigate the link between drug policy and suicide [Families & Friends for Drug Law Reform]

In April 2016 Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform made a submission on the association between drug policy and suicide to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services that had been charged on 11 February 2016 by the ACT Legislative Assembly to report on Youth Suicide and Self Harm in the ACT. The Assembly was moved to establish the enquiry by the alarming level of suicide and self harm revealed in the “last recorded data from ‘Causes of Death’ in 2013 [issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics].

Call for pill testing after party death [Echo Net Daily]

The recent death of Jake Monahan from Nimbin and the treatment and hospitalisation of two other men at the recent rave in Mount Lindesay has sparked renewed debate on the use of pill testing for illegal drugs. However, responsible drug policy is falling on deaf ears as NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant has again ruled out pill testing. ‘Troy Grant, has his fingers in his ears and has no clue about pill testing,’ said Greens NSW MP and Drugs & Harm Minimisation spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi in a recent statement. Dr Faruqi has even gone so far as to call for a pill testing pilot to be conducted on the northern rivers.

Time served: how Debbie Kilroy went from jail to advising the government on sentencing [The Guardian]

The only convicted drug trafficker to be admitted as an Australian lawyer has been appointed to Queensland’s Sentencing Advisory Council – and she wants to abolish prisons. Debbie Kilroy, whose story is one of the great reversals of fortune in Australian legal history, has broken another mould. The only convicted drug trafficker to be admitted as a lawyer in this country, Kilroy is now almost certainly the only person who advocates abolishing prisons to sit on a statutory body guiding governments and courts on criminal sentencing. Her appointment to the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council last month was the latest example of defying expectations in a life that, according to the government that chose her, meant she “brings a unique set of experiences”. Kilroy was a young mother of two and the wife of a rugby league star when she was sentenced to six years in jail in 1989 for selling cannabis to undercover police.

Northland police accused of turning ‘blind eye’ to marijuana on New Year’s Eve [Stuff NZ]

Police in Northland are turning a blind eye to marijuana on New Year’s Eve as dozens light up in protest against New Zealand’s drug laws. The Daktory Whangarei, a marijuana campaign group, advertised a public event on Saturday at Lower Port Rd for anyone who was interested in coming along. President Gwenn Gillgren said the group made no secrets about what activities were planned.

Famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles vandalized to “Hollyweed” [CBS News]

Someone has managed to modify the famed Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed.” The sign was visibly changed and captured on cameras as of Sunday morning, reports CBS Los Angeles. The incident did not mark the first time the sign has been targeted in a possible prank or act of vandalism. Danny Finegood, who passed away in 2007, was made famous by changing the sign to “Hollyweed” on Jan. 1, 1976, in celebration of the state’s then-more relaxed marijuana laws taking effect. (He also once changed the sign to read “Ollywood” in 1987 in protest of Col. Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair, as well as making the sign read “Oil War” in 1990 to protest the first Gulf War.) California voters recently approved recreational marijuana use in a ballot initiative, joining six other states and the Distrcit of Columbia in allowing the drug’s non-medical use.

Vermont Governor Pardons 192 for Marijuana Convictions [The New York Times]

Nearly 200 of the approximately 450 people who asked Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont to forgive their misdemeanor marijuana convictions had their wish fulfilled this week. “While attitudes and laws about marijuana use are rapidly changing, there is still a harmful stigma associated with it,” Mr. Shumlin, a Democrat, said in a statement on Tuesday. “My hope was to help as many individuals as I could overcome that stigma and the very real struggles that too often go along with it.”

Alaska made $81k in marijuana taxes from first full month of sales [KTVA Alaska]

Taxes from Alaska’s first full month of marijuana sales are in, and the tax director for the Alaska Department of Revenue, Ken Alper, says the state collected just over $81,000 in November. The state saw only $10,400 in pot taxes in October. At the moment, marijuana in Alaska is only taxed at the cultivation level. Buds bring in $50 per ounce and $15 for all other parts of the plant. Alper says November’s numbers are a good sign of what’s to come. “It’s a start, but it’s still not what we anticipate the long term number to be,” Alper said. We think it is going to grow to close to a million dollars a month but it shows that the industry is starting to get their doors open and starting to make their sales.” Under state law, half of the revenue from marijuana sales will go towards programs and projects to keep people out of prison. The other half is put into the general fund.

Study: Fatal Car Crashes Declined After Oregon Legalized Cannabis [Willamette Week]

The Portland Police Bureau and other local law-enforcement agencies are pledging to step up DUII patrols on New Year’s Eve to catch intoxicated drivers. But a new national study says the Oregon roads are getting less drunk and dangerous—and it cautiously credits legal weed. The frequency of traffic fatalities in Oregon has dropped significantly since the state legalized medical marijuana, according to a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The researchers analyzed car crash data from 1985 to 2014 for the U.S. states that have enacted medical marijuana laws. For seven of these states, including Oregon, the main effect model showed that legalizing weed was significantly associated with a reduction in traffic fatality rates, primarily among people aged 25 to 44.

Pot blocks: obstacles keep small business owners from a multibillion-dollar market [The Guardian]

Marijuana retail sales, both medical and recreational, could reach $4.3bn this year, according to the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook, an annual survey of cannabis-related ventures conducted by Marijuana Business Daily. Access to a multibillion-dollar industry that could create new jobs is a prospect that appeals to voters otherwise uninterested in pot, but some of the aspiring entrepreneurs chasing that dream warn that weed is not an easy business.

Thousands of joints to be handed out for free during Donald Trump’s inauguration speech [International Business Times]

A campaign group is planning on handing out large amounts of cannabis for free to be smoked during Donald Trump’s inauguration speech in Washington, DC. The DC Cannabis Coalition (DCMJ) said they intend to give away 4,200 joints to be lit up four minutes and 20 seconds into the US President-elect’s speech at the National Mall on 20 January.

NASA Will Pay You 18000 USD To Stay In Bed And Smoke Weed For 70 Straight Days [Reflection of Mind]

If you’re one of those who are in desperate need of some peace and relaxation, NASA might offer you the perfect opportunity to do so and get payed on top of it. But it may involve a bit more relaxation than you’re prepared for. NASA has put out an ad looking for people who’re willing to take part in their “Rest Studies” – a study which will require participant to spend 70 straight days in bed, relaxing and smoking different types of cannabis, for which they will receive a salary of 18.000 USD. During the relaxation period participants are allowed to read books, play games, Skype and smoke weed. They can do whatever they want as long as it involves staying in bed, week after week, earning a cool 1200 USD per week.

Marijuana brands aim for high-end retail in Canada [BBC]

With retailers jockeying for position before cannabis is fully legalised in Canada, “seedy” so-called head shops could soon be a thing of the past.

Marijuana Legal In The UK? New Classification Of Cannabis Ingredient Announced [International Business Times]

People in the U.K. will soon be able to use cannabis-based products containing the plant’s medical component cannabidiol, or CBD, according to reports. The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classified CBD as a medicine in the U.K. on Tuesday. Department officials, who based the decision on claims that the ingredient has been beneficial in treating serious diseases, were hoping that legalizing CBD for medical use will lead to more research on the effects of the drug.

‘Black people give cannabis to babies’, Margaret Thatcher aide claimed [Evening Standard]

A senior aide to Margaret Thatcher claimed black people gave cannabis to babies, newly released documents have revealed. Carolyn Sinclair, senior policy adviser to Mrs Thatcher, made the allegation in a memo she wrote in July 1989, which has now been released by the National Archives in Kew. Ms Sinclair, who later led a Government group promoting racial equality, said the drug was “part of life” for black people.

Nigel Kennedy on feeling great at 60, still enjoying a drink – and cannabis [Mirror]

I’m wedged in a lift at a swanky London ­hotel with one of the world’s most famous classical musicians. He’s got hedgehog hair and is wearing fluorescent yellow trainers, an ancient football shirt and a ­parka bequeathed to him by a dead Scottish tramp. The maestro is also ­carrying a pink backpack, an Aston Villa mug full of tea, an electric fiddle and a rare violin worth several million quid named Kylie “Cos she’s small, beautiful and perfectly formed” like Miss Minogue. And he’s swearing like a trooper while discussing cannabis, ­“ Brex-**it ”, almost killing a Pet Shop Boy and how he fell off a mountain while drunk. Nigel Kennedy has made a career out of being an enfant terrible, defying the snooty musical establishment.

An unhappy Christmas for UK research: how the law against synthetic cannabinoids might destroy pharmaceutical discovery in the UK [Drug Science]

On December 14th the government put into effect new controls against a whole range of synthetic cannabinoids. This was their third round of controls against these new hyper-potent recreational cannabis agonist drugs that have taken over many of our prisons and also are wreaking havoc in the homeless population.

How cannabis prohibition created a monster in UK Prisons [Transform]

Synthetic Cannabinoids (SCs), commonly referred to by some of the more popular brand names they have been sold under including ‘Spice’, ‘K2’ and ‘Black Mamba’ have – in a very short space of time – overtaken heroin and cannabis to become the most commonly used drugs in UK prisons. They are synthetically manufactured substances that are chemically related to, and mimic some effects of THC in cannabis, but are substantially more potent, toxic and risky. Whilst SC use has become a problem – particularly amongst some homeless and socially deprived populations, the rise of use in prisons has been particularly dramatic.

WHO Takes First Steps To Reclassify Medical Cannabis Under International Law [Medical Jane]

It could still be a long wait, but patients in the United States may not be dependent on the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana. The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) recently met and initiated the first steps in a long process that could lead to the rescheduling of medical marijuana under international law, and has committed to hold a special session to discuss medical marijuana in the next eighteen months.

The countries that smoke the most weed, in one map [Indy100]

Here is a map of cannabis use as a percentage of the population of each country.

Why Amsterdam’s oldest cannabis ‘coffeeshop’ has been forced to close [The Telegraph UK]

When the clocks struck midnight on New Year’s Eve they not only marked the arrival of 2017 but also sounded the death knell for the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam, Mellow Yellow, which has closed after half a century in business. While the rest of the Dutch capital ushered in the new year with fizz and fireworks, Mellow Yellow’s owner, Johnny Petram, fought back tears as he pulled the shutters down on his cannabis cafe for the last time. “I tried to make the best of it but it was the worst day of my life,” he said. “Mellow Yellow was the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam and now it’s gone.” This is thanks to a government-backed scheme to shut down any coffeeshops within 250m of a school. Mellow Yellow is one of 28 establishments affected by the legislation, which the mayor’s office candidly admits will probably not stop young people from taking up smoking.

Finland jails police chief Aarnio for drug-smuggling [BBC]

A Finnish court has sentenced the former head of Helsinki’s anti-drugs police to 10 years in prison for drug-smuggling and other offences. Jari Aarnio was found to have helped a gang to import nearly 800kg (1,764lb) of hashish from the Netherlands and sell it in Finland in 2011-2012. Aarnio, 59, was found guilty of five drug crimes and 17 other offences.

High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history [The Guardian]

German writer Norman Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the second world war. The book in question is The Total Rush – or, to use its superior English title, Blitzed – which reveals the astonishing and hitherto largely untold story of the Third Reich’s relationship with drugs, including cocaine, heroin, morphine and, above all, methamphetamines (aka crystal meth), and of their effect not only on Hitler’s final days – the Führer, by Ohler’s account, was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers – but on the Wehrmacht’s successful invasion of France in 1940. Published in Germany last year, where it became a bestseller, it has since been translated into 18 languages, a fact that delights Ohler, but also amazes him.

Did teen perception, use of marijuana change after recreational use legalized? [EurekAlert!]

Marijuana use increased and the drug’s perceived harmfulness decreased among eighth- and 10th-graders in Washington after marijuana was legalized for recreational use by adults but there was no change among 12th-graders or among students in the three grades in Colorado after legalization for adults there, according to a new study published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: Excessive Marijuana Smoking Leads To Rare CHS Disease [Inquisitr]

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS disease, is a relatively unknown and rare illness that is caused by heavy marijuana smoking. The condition has been affecting marijuana smokers for years and virtually no one knows about it. Symptoms of CHS disease include severe nausea, violent vomiting, and abdominal pain. As cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is often misdiagnosed, sufferers make frequent trips to the hospital before someone figures out the cause. “These folks are really suffering. They can get pretty sick,” said Dr. Eric Lavona with Denver Health Medical Center, per a report from the Missoulian. “They vomit like crazy and make frequent emergency department visits because they just can’t stop vomiting.”

Pain relief without the high [MedicalXpress]

Medicinal marihuana is in frequent use as a painkiller, but its psycho-active side-effects are a major disadvantage. The pharmaceutical industry is desperately seeking a synthetic form of cannabis that inhibits inflammation and pain, but without the high. Leiden researchers have now brought the development of such drugs a step closer. In an article in Nature Communications they set out ‘gold standards’ for the use of reference substances, to improve trials with synthetic cannabis

Huston Smith, Author of ‘The World’s Religions,’ Dies at 97 [The New York Times]

Huston Smith, a renowned scholar of religion who pursued his own enlightenment in Methodist churches, Zen monasteries and even Timothy Leary’s living room, died on Friday at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He was 97. Professor Smith was best known for “The Religions of Man” (1958), which has been a standard textbook in college-level comparative religion classes for half a century. In 1991, it was abridged and given the gender-neutral title “The World’s Religions.” The two versions together have sold more than three million copies.

Researchers urge caution around psilocybin use [Science Daily]

In a survey of almost 2,000 people who said they had had a past negative experience when taking psilocybin-containing ‘magic mushrooms,’ a researchers say that more than 10 percent believed their worst ‘bad trip’ had put themselves or others in harm’s way, and a substantial majority called their most distressing episode one of the top 10 biggest challenges of their lives.

Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet [Rappler]

In the Philippines, paid trolls, fallacious reasoning, leaps in logic, poisoning the well – these are only some of the propaganda techniques that have helped shift public opinion on key issues.

Australia bans non-prescription codeine to fight opioid crisis [New Scientist]

Australia has become the latest country to ban over-the-counter sales of medications containing the opioid painkiller codeine. The new regulation, which will come into effect on 1 February 2018, is hoped to halt the rise in codeine-related deaths, which have more than doubled in Australia since 2000. Codeine is used to treat pain and suppress coughing, and can currently be purchased in Australia and the UK without a prescription; low doses are found in some painkillers, cough syrups, and cold and flu tablets. However, even in small doses, codeine has the potential to become addictive. Inside the body, it is partially metabolised to morphine, which can produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. As a result, some people increase their use of codeine-containing medications. The US, Germany and Japan have already banned over-the-counter sales of the drug.

Drugs du jour [Aeon]

Drug use offers a starkly efficient window into the cultures in which we live. Over the past century, popularity has shifted between certain drugs – from cocaine and heroin in the 1920s and ’30s, to LSD and barbiturates in the 1950s and ’60s, to ecstasy and (more) cocaine in the 1980s, to today’s cognitive- and productivity-enhancing drugs, such as Adderall, Modafinil and their more serious kin. If Huxley’s progression is to be followed, the drugs we take at a given time can largely be ascribed to an era’s culture. We use – and invent – the drugs that suit our culture’s needs.