Medical cannabis ‘needs real law behind it’: One Nation MP [Brisbane Times]

One Nation MP Steve Dickson has begun his first week in Parliament representing his new party by proposing steps to make whole cannabis plants available for sick Queenslanders – and subsidised by the government. The member for Buderim, who has been moved from his place among his former colleagues to a lonely seat in the back row since defecting from the LNP, introduced a private member’s bill on Tuesday morning.

Canberra weed rally organisers distance themselves from speakers David Leyonhjelm and One Nation [Dopamine]

We are definitely not associated with either party (or any party for that matter) – as you can imagine, as activists, we’re deeply mistrusting of any political party looking for votes on the latest hot topics. We appreciate that politicians are taking an interest in our events, but only because it helps get our message out to more people and puts pressure on them to do something about it. Every Australian politician was sent an invitation to this event, and they were the only two who responded, so they’re on the program. That’s it.

Time ‘running out’ for cannabis oil user [SBS]

A young man with a rare disease has travelled to Parliament House with his father, urging the government to hasten its progress on medical cannabis. Ben Oakley is deeply concerned about what may confront him when his cannabis oil runs dry, but is more worried about the plight of sick children deprived of the drug.

Michael’s Canberra Conclusion [Nimbin HEMP Embassy]

I believe the best thing you can do to help bring about change in the Government’s attitude towards Cannabis use, is to make an appointment with your local Members of Parliament, both State and Federal. Talk to them about your experience and understanding of Cannabis and its prohibition. How much it costs you, how it helps you and the impact prohibition is having and has had on your life. And if you are helping someone who is seriously ill, try and take them along. Seeing is believing and politicians have so much reading to do and information to take in, we think personal conversations will have much more impact in educating them. This is perhaps the best foil against the constant lobbying and small fortune spent by the pharmaceutical industry to try and keep Cannabis out of the public’s hands. Big Pharma really does fear huge profit losses if this herb, that has never killed anyone, escapes into our home gardens.

Craig Goodwin meets Pauline Hanson for medicinal cannabis cause [Manning River Times]

Craig Goodwin took a trip to Canberra last week to meet Senators Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson. Craig, along with approximately 300 people, including the Medical Cannabis Users Association (MCUA) of Australia who supported Craig in his 2015 hearing at Taree Court for medical cannabis related charges, attended  a five-hour-long rally out the front of Parliament House. The group of protesters had previously arranged ahead of time to meet with the two senators regarding legal and access issues relating to medical cannabis.

GPs send dying Australians underground in their search for medicinal cannabis [9 News]

Australian GPs are sending sick and dying patients to black market suppliers of medicinal cannabis because prescribing it legally falls into the too hard basket, Nine.com.au has learned. There are hundreds of “compassionate suppliers” dotted around Australia – most covert, but some openly – giving cannabis oil away for free, Craig Goodwin told Nine.com.au. Goodwin, aged 52, a father-of-four and a deacon at his local church on the central NSW coast, has been arrested three times and spent 10 months in a maximum security prison for supplying cannabis oil to people dying of cancer, including young children with brain tumours. He claimed that GPs are telling Australians of all ages, suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, tremors and chronic pain, to seek out suppliers like him.

Government establishes advisory council on medicinal cannabis [AJP]

The Health Department has announced the establishment of the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis, which will provide “expert advice” to the government. Professor James Angus AO, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, has agreed to Chair the Advisory Council. Professor Anne Tonkin, who is the Chair of the South Australian Medication Advisory Committee and a member of the Medical Board of Australia, will be Deputy Chair. And pharmacist Michelle Lynch, who is the national vice-president of the PSA, has been appointed to the council as a representative of the pharmacy profession. The Council’s expert members will be expected to provide specialist, balanced and timely advice to the Government on:

  • the ongoing implementation of the regulatory scheme allowing for the licenced cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis here in Australia;
  • the design of medical prescribing guidelines and the use of the Authorised Prescriber and Special Access Scheme mechanisms allowing for patient access; and
  • the current state of medical evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis for a variety of clinical conditions.

Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation [Government of New South Wales]

The NSW Government has established the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation, which will receive $12 million in funding over four years to help further our understanding of cannabis and cannabis products for medicinal purposes, monitor the NSW Government-funded clinical trials and support evidence-based innovation.

Stop Arresting Drivers for Trace Amounts of Cannabis [Sydney Drug Lawyers]

As people begin to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes, they’ll find themselves in a predicament when it comes to driving, as all Australian states and territories run roadside drug testing programs that test drivers for traces of THC: the psychoactive ingredient of the plant. Australia is the only country in the world to have implemented a large-scale roadside drug testing program of this kind. In NSW, it began in 2007, while the first jurisdiction to introduce the program was Victoria in December 2004. In England for example, drivers are not charged unless they have a certain concentration of drugs in their system. The research of professor Ross Homel of Griffith University was instrumental in the introduction of random breath testing in Australia. He has expressed the view that the inclusion of cannabis in roadside drug testing is more about the “enforcement of drug laws,” than an attempt to achieve “road safety benefits.”

AusCann Group Holdings to harvest first medical cannabis crop [Proactive Investors Australia]

AusCann Group Holdings is on track to harvest its first medicinal cannabis crop in Chile in April 2017. The crop consists of 400 plants across eight strains that are being grown at a 30-hectare facility south of Chile’s capital city, Santiago. This product is intended to supply third parties for use in clinical trials and depending on results lead to registered product with the Chilean National Institute of Public Health, and subsequent commercial sales.

Enough is Enough Rallies Feb-Mar around Oz [Medical Cannabis Users Association]

Sydney 8am Tuesday 21 February at Parliament House.

Melbourne 9am Tuesday 21 February at Parliament of Victoria.

Adelaide 11am Saturday 4 March at River Torrens.

Please check Gail Hester’s list of events on facebook for changes and further information on each Enough is Enough Rally. They have been organised following the January raid on Jenny Hallam in SA and give protestors an opportunity to express their feelings about prohibition and show support for compassionate healers like Jenny who have been raided and their supplies of medicine confiscated.

Daniel Andrews to crack down on boozy MPs with random breath tests [The Age]

Fresh from a backlash over plans to audit his ministers’ phones, Premier Daniel Andrews has another contentious proposal for Victorian MPs: random breath testing at State Parliament. As politicians enjoyed the usual round of Christmas parties this week, Mr Andrews confirmed he would push ahead with a policy to introduce alcohol testing during parliamentary sittings.

Talking tough appeals more to pollies than fixing our drug problems [Perth Now]

Australia has moved from being a world leader in the development of drug policies and programs to one that is led by the politics of looking tough rather than accept the evidence of what works. This positioning seemed to begin in earnest when John Howard, ignoring all the available evidence, stepped in to stop a trial of heroin prescriptions for people with long term dependence.

‘Ice Wars’ message is overblown and unhelpful [The Conversation]

Without doubt, crystal methamphetamine, or ice, is capable of causing immense harm. That’s true for many drugs, including alcohol. But when facts are distorted to create fear and stigma it helps no one. Not the people who use ice. Not their families. Not the health professionals supporting them. Not the police who enforce drug law. Ice Wars, airing over the next few weeks on ABC, shows the dark side of crystal methamphetamine use. It shows the great, but difficult work that police, mental health and substance use treatment professionals do every day. Most of what is reported in this four-part documentary is not incorrect, but it lacks nuance and context. It makes entertaining television, but it contains the type of sensational language that can create community fears leading to the stigmatisation of people who use drugs and knee jerk responses from policy makers. We are not “under siege”, or “at war” with ice. There is no ice epidemic. Ice is not “tearing apart the fabric of our community”.

Australia’s looming e-cigarette ban robs smokers of a chance to quit [The Conversation]

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) recent interim decision to effectively ban nicotine-containing e-cigarettes is a harsh blow to smokers. Australian smokers will be denied access to life-saving technology estimated to have helped millions of smokers to quit overseas. Those most affected will be from lower socio-economic and disadvantaged groups, which have the highest smoking rates and are hardest hit by the cost of smoking.

Republican congressman introduces legislation that would take marijuana out of the hands of the federal government [Salon]

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act would allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California is proposing a law that would only allow states to determine marijuana policies, resolving the current conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

Colorado County Funds College Scholarship With Marijuana Money [The Huffington Post]

Commissioners in Pueblo County, Colorado, on Monday signed off on what they’re calling the “world’s first cannabis-funded scholarship.” The fund of approximately $475,000 will be available for high school students in Pueblo County who wish to attend Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo in fall 2017. Of that funding, about $425,000 comes from cannabis excise tax revenue, which is a one-time county-level tax on all marijuana grown in Pueblo County.

Who Smokes More? Compared With Men, Women Marijuana Users’ Cannabis Consumption Makes Gains [International Business Times]

Marijuana consumption has been increasing among women, according to a new study conducted by Eaze, a service that allows medical marijuana users to purchase home-delivered products from their favorite dispensaries. One out of every three marijuana consumers were women, according to the company’s annual “State of Cannabis” report released Wednesday. The report, which analyzed data from more than 250,000 people and 5,000 survey respondents, said women marijuana consumption increased to 33 percent in 2016 after only accounting for 25 percent in 2015.

Women in Weed: Breaking the ‘Grass Ceiling’ [volteface]

I was recently fortunate enough to interview the great Maya Elisabeth, who co-founded Whoopi and Maya – a company that manufactures medical cannabis products for women, including tinctures and balms. Over the course of our conversation, Maya shared her wisdom, inspiration and journey as a female through the cannabis industry, and told me how she feels about paving the way in what could be the first billion dollar industry to not be dominated by men.

Demographic trends among older cannabis users in the United States, 2006–13 [Society for the Study of Addiction]

The ageing US population is providing an unprecedented population of older adults who use recreational drugs. We aimed to estimate the trends in the prevalence of past-year use of cannabis, describe the patterns and attitudes and determine correlates of cannabis use by adults age 50 years and older.

Cannabis addiction: Don’t forget about tobacco [Society for the Study of Addiction]

Cannabis and tobacco are two of the world’s most commonly used drugs. They are also often used together in joints, bongs or pipes. Epidemiological data from the United States suggests that only a minority of people who try cannabis will become addicted in their lifetime (9%) but the majority of people who try tobacco will (68%). Furthermore,  tobacco is rated as more harmful than cannabis according on multiple criteria. This would suggest that administering cannabis with tobacco might enhance the risk of addiction. Indeed, a systematic review concluded that cannabis users who also smoke tobacco tend to be more addicted, have greater psychosocial problems, and have poorer cessation outcomes. Questions remain about how and why people use cannabis and tobacco together, the psychological and pharmacological effects of combining these two drugs, and how these factors may contribute to addiction and other adverse outcomes.

US may ease marijuana laws – archive, 1972 [The Guardian]

The savage penalties for smoking marijuana in this country are certain to go. It is estimated that 24 million Americans have sampled the drug more than once – in some West Coast high schools the rate is 90 per cent. Yet it is still possible to go to prison for 20 years in some states on a first drugs conviction. Such sentences are not merely notional. In Houston a young civil rights worker is serving a 30-year sentence for selling three marijuana joints to an undercover agent, while in Virginia an 18-year-old high-school student is not due out of gaol for 20 years because he smoked marijuana with younger class-mates. Against this draconian legal background a presidential commission has unanimously decided to recommend that all criminal penalties for the private use and possession of marijuana should be abolished. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, nine of whose 13 members were appointed by President Nixon will recommend in a report to be published next month that criminal penalties should be retained only for those who sell, grow, or transport the drug.

Cannabis industry opposes call for plain packaging and bans on advertising [CTV News]

As the Liberal government prepares to introduce legislation to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” before this summer, one area that the cannabis industry and public health advocates are closely watching is whether it will allow companies to brand and promote their products. A task force appointed by the federal government recommended it require plain packaging and a limit to advertising similar to the restrictions on tobacco. But licensed producers of medical marijuana argue that cannabis isn’t as dangerous as tobacco and that branding and marketing are necessary to attract consumers from the black market to the legal industry.

Canadian Police Reject Proposals for Homegrown Cannabis [volteface]

The Globe and Mail reports that police chiefs in Canada have rebuffed certain recommendations in a federal paper on cannabis legalisation. “Hold off on home grows” is the main point that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) are advocating, as the Canadian government makes preparations for cannabis legalisation in the coming months

Cannabis arrests drop 46% since 2010 – police figures [BBC]

Arrests for cannabis possession in England and Wales have dropped by 46% since 2010, figures obtained by BBC Breakfast suggest. The reason is thought to be many police forces are deciding it is no longer worth pursuing cannabis possession as a crime. Last summer Durham Constabulary said it would no longer target cannabis users.

Ideology or technocracy in drug policy reform in 2017 [Thinking to some Purpose]

Last week Volte Face published a report called ‘Black Sheep’ written by Lizzie McCulloch that aimed to highlight how substance misuse treatment services could better serve cannabis users who need support.  The conclusions could be thought of as having two elements: first, that the whole issue would be easier if cannabis wasn’t illegal, but rather formally regulated; second, that even if we keep the current legal status, our services could do better.

Cannabis set to be licensed for medicinal use in Ireland [The Irish Times]

Cannabis should be made available to treat a limited number of medical conditions, despite the lack of evidence for its effectiveness and safety, a Government-commissioned review has recommended.

Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review [Health Products Regulatory Authority Ireland]

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) convened an expert working group to assist with its review of the potential medical use of cannabis, as requested by the Minister for Health.

‘Legalise cannabis to beat drug gangs’ says Brazilian Supreme Court judge [International Business Times]

A Supreme Court judge in Brazil has suggested legalizing cannabis and cocaine in order to tackle the problem of drug gangs. Justice Roberto Barroso, speaking in an interview with Reuters, said it was necessary to ‘legalise marijuana now,’ rather than spending billions of dollars fighting its use. “Unlike the United States and Europe, where the problem lies in the impact drugs have on consumers, in Brazil the problem lies in the power drug traffickers have over poor communities,” Barroso said. “I can assure you it is only a matter of time. Either we legalize marijuana now or we do it in the future after we have spent billions and incarcerated thousands. If that works, we can easily move to legalize cocaine. If you want to break the power of traffickers you need to consider legalizing cocaine.”

As U.S. States Decriminalize Marijuana, Mexico’s Drug War Rages On [Open Society Foundations]

Over the past decade, several U.S. states have moved to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, a shift that has improved the lives of countless Americans. But while legalization is an important component of righting the wrongs of the drug war, it is not the only component—especially for the hundreds of thousands of Mexican families who have already been victimized by a century of prohibitionist policies.

Peru’s Government proposes to legalise medical marijuana [Independent]

Peru’s government says it will present to the opposition-dominated legislature a plan to legalise the medical use of marijuana “for the treatment of serious and terminal illnesses.” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s administration said the plan was developed after police raided a house in a Lima neighborhood where a group of parents grew marijuana to make oil for treating their children suffering from epilepsy and other diseases. Officials say that trafficking and use of marijuana for other purposes would remain a crime under the proposal.

Can Marijuana Cure Cancer? Pharmaceutical Company Developing Cannabis Medicine To Treat Brain Cancer [International Business Times]

Medical marijuana has proven to be a great benefit for people suffering from debilitating conditions and chronic illnesses. However, GW Pharmaceuticals has been cooking up what may be the first cannabis-based therapy. It could also be an effective way to treat a severely destructive form of brain cancer, according to Tuesday reports.

UK set for cannabis boom as GW Pharma storms ahead [The Telegraph]

The UK could become the world’s biggest grower and processor of cannabis plants destined for use in prescription medications after one of the country’s most promising biotechs announced plans to ramp up its production of the plant. GW Pharmaceuticals, which in 2010 launched the world’s first prescription cannabis-derived drug in the form of multiple sclerosis treatment Sativex, is boosting cultivation and manufacturing of the crop this year ahead of the launch of another promising experimental drug called Epidiolex, which has shown to be hugely effective in treating children with a deadly form of epilepsy. The British company plans to file Epidiolex with US regulators this year, and approval could come early next year.

Might as well face it you’re addicted to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, eating, gambling, Internet, love, sex, exercise, work and shopping [The Mental Elf]

Browsing PubMed for systematic reviews on love addiction this morning (as you do) I came across this study by researchers in California. It suggests that half of the US population suffer from some kind of addiction during any given 12 month period and that addictions are often due to lifestyle factors.

Nimbin Medican Workshop 15 April [Hemp Embassy]

The Nimbin Hall is booked out so the next Nimbin Medican Workshop will be held at the old butter factory now Nimbin’s Bush Theatre alongside the Phoenix Rising Cafe and Bringabong, just north of the village and over the river, on April 15 Easter Saturday. From 11 am until 4.20 pm. We hope to promote the event on the coast and maybe get some visitors from down south who are in the area for Easter and the Bluesfest.