Cannabis legalisation sees support, opposition alike [International Business Times]

Legalisation of cannabis remains an issue of debate among Australian politicians. Canada, on the other hand, announced that it will be introducing a legislature to legalise recreational marijuana by 2018. Canada’s move received opposition from Liberal senator Eric Abetz, who referred to the drug as a “scourge” and hoped Australia would not follow their footsteps. “[Cannabis] is linked with a lot of mental issues within the community and therefore to describe it as recreational underestimates the real damage it can do,” Abetz said.

Among those who support the move of legalising the drug include Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm. He said several states in the United States have achieved legalisation without any serious ramifications. “There have not been people lying in the streets with drug addled brains. It has been a very positive move,” he said. He added that most parliamentarians’ stand on drug policy indicated they were in the dark ages. “It’s idiotic,” he said. “The prohibition policy has never worked on anything.”

A similar concern was expressed by Independent Senator Derryn Hinch who, though has never consumed the drug, said he supports the legalisation. “I think it’s ridiculous watching big burly cops with guns on their hips arresting plants,” he said, adding that one should take into account the economic benefits such a move could bring. “Look at the tax money being brought into California and Colorado,” he said. “We could get rid of the budget deficit in two minutes by legalising marijuana.”

Billboard targeting drug and animal abuse in shearing sheds causes stir in wool district [ABC]

The billboard features the gaunt face of a man beside the words: “Dave has been up on ice for three days. Shearing and drugs don’t mix.”

Is it time to call off the war on drugs? [ABC]

Queensland’s own former head of the Corrective Services Commission, Keith Hamburger, has added his weight to the argument and is pushing for a complete rethink of drug policies.

Sir Richard Branson suggests New Zealand farmers swap cows for marijuana [Independent]

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson has urged kiwi farmers to swap cows for cannabis. Speaking to New Zealand broadcaster Newshub during a recent trip to the country, Mr Branson said that he sees a significant business opportunity for the country’s dairy farmers in marijuana. “You should legalise it, grow it, tax it, regulate it,” he said.

Countries where cannabis is legal for recreational use in 2017 [International Business Times]

Countries in the world where marijuana is legal for recreational use to some extent, and not just decriminalised, include Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, India, the USA, and the Netherlands. The rules are different from place to place and there are lots of grey areas. For example, in Uruguay cannabis is totally legal and you can smoke it in the street, but in Spain it’s only legal in private spaces.

Colorado Has a Plan to Avoid a Marijuana Crackdown by President Trump [Time]

Colorado is considering an unusual strategy to protect its nascent marijuana industry from a potential federal crackdown, even at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections. A bill pending in the Legislature would allow pot growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs. It’s the boldest attempt yet by a U.S. marijuana state to avoid federal intervention in its weed market.

Legalized Marijuana Could Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic, Study Finds [NBC News]

Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medicinal purposes, the analysis found. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average. At the same time, fears that legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an uptick in cannabis-related hospitalizations proved unfounded, according to the report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The Hidden Cannabis Crackdown: Part One [volteface]

Legal cannabis consumption has been used to justify the cancellation of tourist and business visas, and the denial of citizenship and green-card applications, for years, according to immigration attorneys and drug policy advocates interviewed for this story. If a customs official at the Canadian border spots a marijuana-leaf sticker on a car or discovers a medical marijuana recommendation in a wallet at the airport—and if and marijuana use is admitted in a subsequent interview—the traveler will be sent home. This was true when Barack Obama was president.

Twitter U-Turns on Censoring Searches For ‘Cannabis’ [volteface]

Popular social media platform Twitter is now censoring searches for topics deemed ‘sensitive’. This means that searches containing words like ‘sexual health’ and even ‘balls’ will yield zero results under all search tabs, except the ‘top’ search option. This appears to be due to the introduction of a ‘sensitive content filter’ that Twitter has rolled out without warning. The ‘sensitive content filter’ is automatically activated for many users and the settings to turn it off are not accessible from the Twitter app or Tweetdeck, but can be found on the web version’s search results page (via an icon that looks like three vertical dots). For the first few days of this new filter, words censored included drugs like ‘cannabis’, ‘LSD’ and ‘MDMA’, but it appears Twitter have made a quick U-turn after facing backlash against this. Some have credited a change.org petition started by Marijuana Majority for Twitter deciding to remove ‘cannabis’ and other drugs from their list of sensitive words, but it is so far unknown why this has happened.

A big thing marijuana opponents warned you about is definitely not happening [The Washington Post]

A state-run survey of 37,000 middle and high school students in Washington state finds that marijuana legalization there has had no effect on youngsters’ propensity to use the drug. The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that the 2016 rate of marijuana use was basically unchanged since 2012, when the state voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In the survey, researchers used the measure of “monthly use,” asking students across all grade levels whether they’d used the drug within the past month.

‘Stunning’ Drug Lab Scandal Could Overturn 23,000 Convictions [NBC News]

About 23,000 people convicted of low-level drug crimes are expected to have their cases wiped away next month en masse, the result of a five-year court fight over the work of a rogue chemist: longer than it took to discover, prosecute and punish chemist, Annie Dookhan. She worked at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston for nearly a decade before her misconduct was exposed in 2012. She admitted to tampering with evidence, forging test results and lying about it. She served three years in prison and was released last year. By then, most of the people Dookhan helped convict — most of whom pleaded guilty to low-level drug offenses based on her now-discredited work — had finished their sentences. Is not entirely clear why Dookhan, a Trinidadian immigrant mother, felt compelled to change test results on such a massive scale.

Eight reasons to legalise cannabis [Adam Smith Institute]

I was asked to speak on a panel this morning to give the case for cannabis legalisation, and found it a useful exercise in tidying and focusing my thoughts. My overarching point was that, if it does happen, it’s probably going to be because of a fundamental shift in public opinion of the kind that’s taking place in some parts of the United States, so at this stage it’s most useful to consider how we might want to approach decriminalisation or full legalisation. Still, the broad case for cannabis legalisation is worth making, and I tried to do so.

Task-force leader on legalizing marijuana urges prohibition, for now [The Globe and Mail]

A former Liberal cabinet minister who recently chaired a panel guiding Ottawa’s push to legalize cannabis says police everywhere should enforce the existing prohibition of marijuana, despite several communities in British Columbia choosing to regulate – not raid – illegal pot shops.

Where Is Marijuana Legal? Canada’s Liberal Government To Announce Cannabis Legalization By Next Month [International Business Times]

In keeping up with his promise of legalizing marijuana that was seen as one of the primary reasons for the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party’s win in 2015, the government will announce the legislation next month. The legislation will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018, CBC News reported Sunday. To ensure that Canada’s marijuana supply is safe and secure and that Ottawa will license producers, the federal government will take the responsibility. The provincial governments will decide how the marijuana is distributed, sold and will set the price, according to CBC.

The wild west of weed: will legalisation work for Canada? [The Guardian]

Opposite a bleak government building in suburban Ottawa, Canada, a barebones “cannabis clinic” – with just a cash register, jeweller’s scales and a glass counter – is doing a brisk trade. On the wall, there’s a menu listing today’s special: moonrocks – buds rolled in cannabis oil then dipped in powdered hash at C$40 (£24) a gram. There are cans of Canna Cola; potent, weed-laced gummy bears; a mound of gooey hashish smelling of dark chocolate, hops and pine resin. If this is medicine, it’s unclear what the illness is, other than sobriety. It makes an Amsterdam coffeeshop look tame – and it’s this free-for-all, wild-west-of-weed attitude that Canada’s government wants to tame by legalising cannabis during prime minister Justin Trudeau’s first term in office. Laws that will legalise cannabis for recreational use will be announced in the week of 10 April, and will be passed by July 2018, say government sources, making Canada the first G7 country to do so.

Toronto’s Dispensary Robberies: The Latest Legalization Challenge [Twelve High Chicks]

When you’ve been a cannabis activist for well over a decade, the only time you expect to hear your name dropped at a police press conference it will be followed by the words “has been charged with.”

UK police criticised for failure to help enslaved cannabis farmers [The Guardian]

The UK’s independent anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, has criticised police forces for failing to tackle the issue of enslaved Vietnamese teenagers being trafficked to the UK to work in illegal cannabis farms. Cannabis farms are discovered every week, he said, but when they are identified they are “not being properly investigated”. Police forces had “not pushed forward with the urgency I would expect,” he said in an interview. Despite the fact that Vietnam is consistently one of the biggest source countries for trafficked slave labour into the UK, there has never been a successful prosecution of a people trafficker from Vietnam, Hyland said.

Teenager dying of cancer ‘recovers after mother gives him marijuana’ [Independent]

Scientists have called for further research into the effect of cannabis compounds on cancer cells after a teenage boy who was given the drug by his mother survived the disease.

Has Nepal Become a Major Drug Transit Country? [Talking Drugs]

The number of people being arrested for drug trafficking has reached an unprecedented level in Nepal, suggesting the country may be becoming a regional drug transit hub.

National HIV plan scraps calls to decriminalise drug use [BhekisiSA]

South Africa is expected to release its new national HIV strategy later this month. In a country that continues to battle the world’s largest HIV epidemic, the document will guide the next six years in the fight against new infections. Decriminalising drug use – alongside sex work – was labelled as a “game changer” in the initial version of the plan released in September 2016. But the call to decriminalise drug use has since been cut from the plan. Shaun Shelly is the head of policy, advocacy and human rights for people who use drugs, for the non-profit organisation TB/HIV Care Association.

Tunisia’s proposed drug law spurs debate [Al Jazeera]

People can be arrested on streets or in cafes “on the very vague suspicion that they have consumed drugs”, Guellali told Al Jazeera, noting that even if police fail to find any evidence on suspects, they often force them to take a urine test. The active ingredient in cannabis, known as THC, can be found in a person’s urine as long as 67 days after consumption. “This is quite telling about the widespread use of this law as a tool to arrest, detain, and imprison the population, especially young people, just for smoking a joint,” Guellali said. “It is basically the easiest way to convict people in Tunisia.”

“You do steroids, I’ll smoke cannabis, and then we can fight.” [volteface]

Cannabis use can alter the perception of risk, thus potentially leading to poor decision making. It may also impair essential technical skills of the athlete, thus leading to a higher probability of accidents and injuries. Cannabis use may also negatively influence coordination, movement, and time estimation. All these effects may pose a risk for the athlete and others.

New Research in Drug Enforcement [Points Blog]

Insight into how Denver police officers make sense of, and define, interpret, and react to the legalization of marijuana.

Researchers identify genes that give cannabis its flavor [EurekAlert!]

University of British Columbia scientists have scanned the genome of cannabis plants to find the genes responsible for giving various strains their lemony, skunky or earthy flavors, an important step for the budding legal cannabis industry.

Hitting the High Notes [BBC]

The story of jazz in the post-war era is one of revolution and rebellion, as musicians like Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie re-invented the genre, giving birth to bebop. But alongside the music, something else emerged in this period: a mini-epidemic of heroin use among jazz musicians which broke out in the mid-1940s, as the drug became more freely available in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Nimbin Medican Workshop 15 April [Hemp Embassy]

Nimbin Medican Workshop at the Bush Theatre Easter Saturday April 15  11am –4.20pm ~ Speakers include Dr Deb Waldron on healing with medical cannabis, lawyer Steve Bolt on legal advice, Radic Al on making the medicine, Zane Archer on healing with nutrition and therapy as well as cannabis, Andrew Kavasilas on the latest from the government on regulating supply (don’t hold your breath), Michael Balderstone and Miss Guidance on their recent tour of North American legal cannabis dispensaries, and more to come. Top venue and top food from Phoenix Rising Cafe beside Mulgum creek on the northern edge of the village. Enquiries call the HEMP Embassy 66891842

Nimbin MardiGrass 5-7 May 2017 [Hemp Embassy]

The Nimbin MardiGrass is an annual rally & celebration in the tiny village of Nimbin in northern NSW, Australia.  Beginning in 1993, MardiGrass is held to protest the drug laws, educate people on the various uses of cannabis (medicinal, industrial, recreational & spiritual) and to celebrate the culture that has grown here over the last 40 years.  Our mission is to bring about change with as much fun as possible.

Hemp, Health & Innovation Expo & SYMPOSIUM 2017 [HHI]

The Hemp, Health & Innovation Expo & Medicinal Cannabis Conference 2017 is taking place in Sydney 27th and 28th May 2017 at Rosehill Gardens.

2017 UIC Medicinal Cannabis Symposium [United in Compassion]

SAVE THE DATE – 23, 24, 25 JUNE 2017 • MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

Program is shaping up with confirmed speakers including Dr Jeffrey Hergenrather, Dr Michelle Sexton, Dr Dedi Meire, Dr Bareket Schiff Keren, Dr Greg Gerdman and more to come. This really is a not to be missed program The program will cover how clinicians can develop a Cannabis treatment plan, clinical applications and other considerations, application in Palliative care and rehabilitation, The ECS, Debunking myths, PTSD, Cancer, Epilepsy and also will tackle the complex social and ethical issues relating to poor patient access. We will also provide opportunity around the establishment of an Australian Chapter of Cannabis Clinicians and an Australian Cannabis Industry Association. We are also seeking additional sponsorship to fund running Australia’s first medicinal Cannabis course developed for health care practitioners by health care practitioners. Please contact lucy.haslam@uic.org.au if you can assist.

Tickets on sale now through
https://www.trybooking.com/OUVD or
https://www.trybooking.com/260133 or
www.uic.org.au

Tickets also on sale for the UIC 2017 Medicinal Cannabis Symposium Gala Dinner which will be a great networking opportunity and major fundraiser for UIC.

Entheogenesis Australis 2017 Outdoor Psychedelic Symposium 8th – 10th of December [EGA]

We’re delighted that after more than a year of planning, persuading and wooing a world-leading line up of speakers, early bird tickets to EGA’s 2017 (outdoor) Psychedelic Symposium are now on sale!.

EGA’s 2017 Psychedelic Symposium will be a botanical, academic and lifestyle conference – with a pinch of psychedelic energy.  The program will span three days and three nights, featuring more than 50 lectures from diverse fields covering the botanical, academic, and philosophical, to arts and drug law reform. Accompanying the main program will be workshops, panel discussions, a marketplace, and much more.