Nimbin ‘fires up’ over MardiGrass [Lismore Echo]
After 25 years Nimbin is ‘fired up’ for its next MardiGrass on May 5-7, which will be themed Overgrow the Government. Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said the town was “confused and frustrated” after watching a selection of the town’s youth rounded up and banned from the town in Operation Cuppa last year despite recent legislative changes to medical marijuana use.
Mardigrass Begins Next Monday With Mayday March [Nimbin Hemp Embassy]
NIMBIN’S 25TH MARDIGRASS MAY 5, 6, 7 2017
The tiny one pub village of Nimbin is gearing up for it’s 25th annual MardiGrass on the May 5, 6, 7 weekend. Australia’s biggest gathering of Cannabis users protesting for the re-legalisation of their herbal medicine is expected to be especially passionate this year. “Australia’s Cannabis users feel ripped off big time,” says Michael Balderstone, smokesperson for the organisers. “Our village has been hammered by the police this year like never before, and it coincides with endless announcements from our politicians telling us at last they agree the plant is medicinal and they’re legalising it. Well, clearly not for us in Nimbin and neither has anything changed for 99% of the country’s users which is seriously unfair. I actually think the hippies and Cannabis users of Australia are owed a giant apology. Trials are underway for epileptic children and some terminal patients but freedom to use this medicine of old is as distant as ever.” Tickets and the very full program still growing is on www.nimbinmardigrass.com and printed copies are being distributed on the north coast today and tomorrow, look out for one.
It is important to point out that legalising cannabis is not an issue dominated by the left or the right. In the United States, the majority of people in Alaska voted for legalisation but they haven’t voted for a Democratic president since 1964. In Britain, the neoliberal Adam Smith Institute has called the current drug strategy a failure and is strongly advocating for legalisation as the only solution to crime and addiction problems. In NSW, the Greens policy calls for the regulation of cannabis through the formation of a legal supply.
Queensland company awarded medicinal cannabis licence [Brisbane Times]
A Queensland-based company has been awarded the state’s first licence to legally cultivate and produce medicinal cannabis. Medifarm director Adam Benjamin said the business planned to start rolling out local products by early 2018. “We do appreciate that there are a lot of patients in Queensland as well as Australia who need access,” he told reporters on the Sunshine Coast on Friday. “We have the leading international company from Israel, we have access to their products and we’ll be looking to provide a stopgap measure until local production comes online.” Medifarm will predominantly produce medicinal cannabis oils for people who have been prescribed the treatment by their doctor. Mr Benjamin said the company initially planned to supply the drug to 5000 patients.
Doctors in South Australia are this week free to prescribe medical cannabis to patients without government approval. In an attempt to ‘slash red tape’ the SA Government will allow the prescription of cannabis products approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for up to two months. “We heard that it was extra red tape and an extra layer of administration for doctors to have to get state approval every single time, for every single patient prescribed medicinal cannabis,”acting Premier Kyam Maher told the ABC.
A year and a half ago, the state government of Victoria announced, with much fanfare, that it would cultivate a crop of cannabis for medical use. Premier Daniel Andrews called it one of his proudest days in politics. That first crop is all grown up—it was harvested in February. But where did it go from there? “It is now being tested and formulated,” a Department of Health spokesman told Leafly. The department describes the procedures as “critical steps in developing and validating a product for treating the first patient cohort: children suffering from severe epilepsy.”
Drug users on a high as mobile testing ceased [The Daily Advertiser]
The Greens’ Justice spokesman David Shoebridge has long criticised police for “profiling” and “targeting” drug users who may not be under the influence when driving. “The current roadside drug testing regime is arbitrary, invasive and has no relationship to the impairment of drivers on our roads,” he said. “Strong evidence suggests the testing is also not random, with many drivers repeatedly tested over short periods of time. This flawed drug testing regime is much more about ideology than any serious attempt at driver safety.”
‘Everyone’s high – they gonna arrest everyone?’ Southeast Asian students and the lure of drugs in Australia [Channel News Asia]
In 2012, Australia was the most popular destination for Southeast Asian students, with World Education Services reporting that out of 220,000 from this region who studied abroad at the tertiary level, approximately a quarter opted to go Down Under. It is also a country where obtaining illegal substances is comparatively easy, according to Dr Stephen Bright, psychologist and a leading drug expert in Australia. “There are drugs available in Australia and many students at university here will experiment with drugs in some shape or form,” he said.
“Drugs are absolutely everywhere in Australian society,” added Greg Chipp, who heads public health charity Drug Policy Australia. “It’s an open environment where drug use is virtually a rite of passage for young people.” James Rowe, an RMIT researcher specialising in the sociology of drug use, agreed. “Drug use has become normalised to a certain extent. For example, whereas cannabis remains illegal in Australia, pretty much every state has de facto decriminalisation.”
“Generally Australians – and this is borne out by surveys – are pretty accepting that some people will use drugs like cannabis, and not many want cannabis illegal or punishable,” said Dr Matthew Frei, clinical director of Melbourne-based drug treatment centre Turning Point.
Governments and their media courtiers talk about being “tough on crime” and bravely fighting a battle against the drug scourge. They should look in the mirror and question how frequently politicians and journalists snort a line of coke on a Friday night. Hint: pretty damn often. Australians enjoy the greatest amount of recreational drugs per capita in the world, according to a 2012 UN world drug report.
Why Denver Should Not Rule Out Dual Consumption [Dance Safe]
In November of last year, Denver voters passed Initiative 300, which allows for limited social cannabis consumption by adults in designated consumption areas within establishments that have received support from their local eligible neighborhood association and have obtained a permit from the City of Denver. The initiative, however, has recently faced serious setbacks due to a new regulation from the Colorado Department of Revenue that expressly prohibits consumption of cannabis at any place that carries a liquor license. This means that Denver residents will not be able to consume cannabis at a bar, which was, in part, an intention of the initiative.
Does Anyone Still Believe Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug? [Human Rights Watch]
Most Americans no longer believe that marijuana is dangerous. Fifty-seven percent of US adults say marijuana use should be legal. The data supports what the public already believes: people arrested for marijuana rarely go on to commit violent crimes. When Human Rights Watch analyzed 15 years of data on people arrested for marijuana possession in New York City, we found 90 percent of the group had no subsequent felony convictions. Only 3.1 percent were subsequently convicted of a violent felony offense, and an additional 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions.
A recent CBS News poll shows support for legalizing marijuana is higher than ever. Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll. Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use. Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Sixty-five percent think marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. More generally on the topic of drug abuse, 69 percent think that should be treated as an addiction and mental health problem rather than a criminal offense.
Stigma around marijuana is disappearing. Time for more laws to change.
When legalizing pot, less is more [The Globe and Mail]
The Liberal government’s cannabis legislation has drawn condemnation and praise. Whether they approve or not, many observers criticize the lack of details on essential aspects of legalization. Legislative lapses include details on where cannabis will be sold, packaging, advertising and how it will be taxed. While such gaps may appear to be weaknesses, they actually demonstrate the legislation’s strength.
The Failed ‘War on Drugs’ [Transform]
Trudeau’s Bill is expected to pass the Canadian parliament and by mid-2018 the country is expected to have legal sales of the drug. Growing, importing, exporting or selling cannabis outside licensed channels will remain serious crimes in Canada – but in this country there is finally recognition that prohibition has failed, and that state control is the only solution to dealing with cannabis, as with tobacco and alcohol.
Will legal cannabis soon be as easy as point, click, and wait by the door for the delivery guy? That’s a scenario being pushed in an intriguing new report by VolteFace, a UK drug policy think tank. Though focused mainly on the United Kingdom, where popular pressure is building for legalization, the report makes a fairly compelling case for the “virtualizing” of the global cannabis business—where all products are ordered online and delivered directly to the consumer, without the inefficiency or social risks of a bricks-and-mortar shop. Report author Mike Power, the UK journalist who wrote Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That’s Changing How the World Gets High, writes that it’s the only sensible future for mega markets like Canada and the United States.
Green Screen Report Launches [volteface]
Just as streaming services such as Spotify have hugely diminished music piracy, an online-only, legal cannabis market in the UK could disrupt the illicit black market. One of the biggest publicly traded cannabis companies, Online Canopy Growth, is already launching a similar service in Canada called Tweed Main Street, in the wake of groundbreaking cannabis legislation being debated in the Canadian parliament.
A doctor has prescribed medicinal marijuana to an 11-year-old boy, in what is believed to be the first example of the NHS utilising a UK ruling last year allowing the prescription of drugs derived from cannabis.
We spoke to someone who studies drugs for a living about why legalizing weed is a good idea [Economy]
We thought we’d speak to someone who wasn’t stoned and knew quite a lot about the subject about the economics around the subject – why so many people think it should be legal, how it would work, and whether we’d start seeing cannabis bakeries pop up on every street corner. So we gave Henry Fisher a call, who works at an organization that’s trying to broaden the conversation around drugs from the perspectives of science, health, lifestyle, culture, business and (woop!) economics.
I’m in one of the many clandestine Amsterdam-style coffee shops to have popped up across the UK over the past few years – places that all have their own motivations and character, whether they’re open-doored and profit-driven or more private and community-based, but which all share one key characteristic: you can smoke – and sometimes buy – weed on the premises. This is just one of six venues that I know of in this part of London, and beyond the capital similar set-ups exist all the way from Peterborough to Newcastle.
Baked On 420 [volteface]
The sun peeked through the clouds as thousands descended on Hyde Park yesterday for the annual 420 celebrations. It felt like a festival with everyone sitting on the grass, smoking weed, eating snacks and listening to music. We even saw a group who had brought a tent and were happily having a barbecue.
Thousands of cannabis smokers defy police to light joints in London’s Hyde Park for massive pro-marijuana rally [Mirror]
Thousands of cannabis smokers gathered in London’s Hyde Park to defy police and light up joints. Despite warnings not to smoke drugs in the park, pot enthusiasts descended in their thousands for the annual pro-marijuana rally. The smokey protest is held each year on April 20 because the date is 4.20, which smokers also claim is the ‘perfect’ time to spark up a joint. The activists are calling on the Government to legalise the Class B drug and risked arrest by using the illegal drug at the event. The event’s organiser in London, Eric Shepperd, told the London Free Press: “It’s not just dirty hippies that smoke marijuana. It’s older people, it’s business people, it’s academics – all sorts of people use cannabis in a responsible and active way.” He added: “People can just experience what people who use cannabis are like.”
Hundreds of Israelis have gathered for a sit-down protest outside the Knesset in Jerusalem calling for the full legalisation of marijuana in the country. As part of the worldwide pot-smoking tradition held on every 20 April since the 1970s, people carrying picnic blankets, food and guitars settled in for the peaceful protest on Thursday afternoon, lighting up when the clock struck 4.20pm. Police left those breaking the law alone, reports said. The Israeli government gave the green light to plans to decriminalise marijuana use in public spaces last month. Under the new rules those who break the law will have to undergo treatment or pay fines rather than face criminal charges.
In conclusion it’s clear that medical cannabis reform is underway in Australia, however these 420 meetup events only work against the good work done by many. I believe that many attendees have good intentions, but there are without a doubt some who are just looking to meet a new ‘contact’ and get stoned out of their mind without any care for whether or not weed is legalised. It’s time cannabis users stopped putting their own short-term pleasure before the long-term wellbeing of every other smoker and potential medical cannabis patient in Australia.
Some Arab governments are rethinking harsh cannabis laws [The Economist]
The combination of heavy use and harsh laws has resulted in overcrowded prisons. In Tunisia, for example, drug offenders make up about 28% of the prison population. Most are in for using cannabis. Upon release, their criminal record makes it nearly impossible to get a job. Tunisia is now rethinking its policies. A draft law would abolish prison terms for first- and second-time offenders caught with cannabis for personal use. Judges could impose alternative punishments on repeat offenders; more emphasis would be placed on treatment. The measure is vague and, say critics, could lead to more abuse. Anyway, it is stalled in parliament. But in March the national security council moved to keep some offenders out of jail.
Drug-driving limits and roadside testing will be introduced in Scotland in 2019, the Scottish government has confirmed. Currently in Scotland, it is illegal to drive if impaired by drugs – whether they are prescription drugs or illegal substances like cocaine. But under the changes, there would be specific limits for certain drugs – as there is with alcohol – and a zero tolerance approach to others. The aim is to make it quicker and easier to hold drug-drivers to account as it would remove the requirement to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner.
A mother who travelled to Spain to obtain medicinal cannabis for her daughter said it was confiscated by customs officials today. Vera Twomey arrived at Dublin Airport carrying a three month supply of cannabis based medicine, which contains THC, that had been prescribed for her daughter Ava by a medical consultant in Barcelona.
A new plan to legalise cannabis has launched in Switzerland, marking the country’s second push for the change within a decade. The new initiative proposes that both cannabis production and consumption for personal use should be made legal. It recommends that its sale should be regulated and taxed by the government. Nine Forrer from the Legalize It group told Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger: “The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, wrong from a legal point of view and simply stupid from an economic point of view.”
Is decriminalizing drug use the better alternative to killing drug addicts? Vice President Leni Robredo suggested on Friday that the Philippines look to the example of Portugal, which made the radical decision of decriminalizing drug use in 2001, leading to lower drug-related deaths and declines in drug abuse among its citizens. Robredo was the guest at a forum in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños when she was challenged by a student to offer an alternative to the government’s deadly drug war, which has left thousands dead since last year.
Charge Rodrigo Duterte With Mass Murder, Lawyer Tells The Hague [The New York Times]
A Filipino lawyer asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity in the killings of thousands of people over three decades. The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, said in a 77-page complaint that Mr. Duterte was the “mastermind” of a campaign that has killed more than 9,400 people, mostly poor young men, since 1988, when Mr. Duterte was first elected mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines.
Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana’s “Entourage Effect” Scientifically Valid? [Scientific American]
This so-called “entourage effect” refers to this scrum of compounds supposedly working in concert to create what Chris Emerson describes as “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis.” Emerson is a trained chemist and the co-founder of a designer marijuana vaporizer products company called Level Blends. Product designers like him believe they can create THC vaping mixtures tuned with different concentrations of each terpene and cannabinoid for specialized effects.
Why Microdosing Is Taking Over Medical Marijuana [Rolling Stone]
Welcome to marijuana 2.0. With microdosing, people are getting the maximum benefit from the minimum amount, without becoming stoned, paranoid or lethargic. Some are microdsoing to regulate their moods, boost their creativity, or enhance their workouts and yoga sessions. Susannah Grossman, 29, founder of Verdant Communications in Denver, takes several small doses through the day. “It lifts my spirits, relieves the stress and tension that build up, and allows me to approach my work with more keen interest.”
Seniors turning to cannabis for relief – and businesses are all in [The Globe and Mail]
Adults in their 70s, 80s and 90s are trying cannabis for the first time, hoping the plant will ease chronic pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety after pharmaceutical drugs have failed.
Teens tend to think marijuana use is no big deal, but they’re wrong [The Washington Post]
According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers are engaging in fewer risky behaviors than their Gen X parents did. This is, of course, good news. Now for the bad news. While teenagers might be binge-drinking less and having less sex than the previous generation did, marijuana use among teens, which had declined from the late 1990s through the mid-to-late 2000s, is on the rise again. This is a problem because, despite our culture’s increasingly casual attitudes toward pot, research suggests that marijuana use can damage the developing teen brain.
Marijuana only rarely causes psychosis, says expert [Independent]
There appears to be only a low chance of developing psychosis as a result of using cannabis, a review of existing research has suggested. After a review of existing research, Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health at York University, concluded that stopping people using the drug would have a relatively low impact on the public’s mental health. “The link between cannabis and psychosis has been investigated by researchers since the drug became popular in the 1960s,” Mr Hamilton told The Independent. “A new review of research carried out since then has concluded that ‘at a population level the increased risk is weak and the vulnerabilities relatively rare’. To put this in perspective we would need to prevent 23,000 people using cannabis to prevent one case of psychosis.”
Levels of first-time marijuana use in college have increased sharply in the past three years to the highest levels recorded in the past three decades. In 2015, about one in five college students became a first-time marijuana user.
Medical marijuana may be a salve for the US opioid epidemic [New Scientist]
Does cannabis really have medicinal properties? As the trend to legalise medical marijuana continues, there is growing evidence that it does help relieve some conditions, leading to hopes that it may help curb the US opioid addiction epidemic. In the US, 28 states plus Washington DC have legalised medical marijuana in some form. An analysis has shown that compared with other states, those regions spent less money on prescriptions through Medicaid – the healthcare programme for people on low incomes – for five conditions sometimes treated with cannabis between 2007 and 2014. These conditions were pain, depression, nausea, psychosis and seizures.
Man who was denied lung transplant over marijuana use dies [New York Post]
After being admitted to the University of Utah in December, Hancey, of Park City, was put on life support two weeks later and was denied a transplant earlier this month after traces of THC — the main ingredient in pot — were found in his system. Mark Hancey said his son smoked pot with his friends on Thanksgiving after being drug-free for a year. “It’s not like he’s a smoker for 30 years and [had] deteriorating lungs because of that,” Mark Hancey told KSL.com. But the hospital, according to its policy, does not transplant organs in patients with “active alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use or dependencies,” spokeswoman Kathy Wilets said at the time, adding that the policy is intended to give patients a higher chance of surviving surgery and completing their recovery process. The Hanceys searched for other hospitals across the country and found an answer some 2,000 miles away at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he underwent a double lung transplant March 29. Hancey spent 68 days at the University of Utah’s intensive care unit after a severe bout of pneumonia turned into a rare lung infection. His relatives said he received “every opportunity to survive,” according to the YouCaring page.
On Wednesday night VICELAND aired Stoned, a one-hour special exploring a load of myths and questions from the world of weed. Questions such as: Does weed really affect your short term memory? Does getting high actually make you a bit more gay? Whether or not smoking cannabis makes you a creative genius, and a bunch of other stuff.
Mapped: The countries that smoke the most cannabis [The Telegraph]
To mark 4/20, a day dedicated to smoking marijuana, we’ve mapped the world according to cannabis consumption – and the results might surprise you. The top nation isn’t The Netherlands, famous for its coffeeshops, or indeed Portugal, the US or Uruguay, each of which has made strides to decriminalise the drug during modern times. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), that dubious distinction of biggest marijuana loving nation goes to Iceland. Australia comes in at #9.
Weed has been around for yonks. According to current estimates, the relationship we as a species have with this plant goes back about 3,500 years. But its debut in the lungs and minds of Europeans is much more recent than that – more in the ballpark of 300 years. The dude who originally discovered and catalogued the plant species Cannabis Sativa was a Swedish fellow called Carl Linnaeus. Now, Carl Linnaeus was a first-order weirdo who believed that God put him on earth to describe and catalogue nature in all its various forms. Among the many forms of nature that he catalogued was Cannabis Sativa, which grew in select parts of Europe.
A bill expected this week in the U.S. House of Representatives would weaken a Food and Drug Administration rule governing e-cigarettes and represent a major victory for the $4.4 billion U.S. vaping industry. The bill, from Republican Representative Duncan Hunter of California, would reverse the Obama administration’s “Deeming Rule” which deems e-cigarettes to be tobacco products, subject to the same strict regulations governing traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor but do not contain tobacco.
Why Some Young People Combine Smoking And Drinking [Huffington Post]
For young smokers, the pleasure of smoking a cigarette is greater when they are also drinking alcohol than when they are also smoking pot, according to a new study. The findings could have implications for helping people quit smoking, the researchers said. The researchers surveyed U.S. adults ages 18 to 25 who regularly smoked cigarettes and also used alcohol or marijuana. The participants were asked whether their pleasure from smoking cigarettes changes when they drink alcohol or when they smoke marijuana. The participants reported that they experience an increase in the pleasure from cigarettes when using alcohol, but not when using marijuana. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
The vast majority of Australians worry that national drinking habits are excessive, according to new research. An online poll commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (Fare) also found 92% of Australians believe alcohol is linked to domestic violence. Fare surveyed 1,820 people across Australia. However one alcohol industry lobby group rejected the study as “all spin and no substance”.
Allowing pill testing at the Spilt Milk festival would be a big win for public health [The Guardian]
Few government policies are as poorly understood and relentlessly resisted as the “harm reduction” approach to illicit drugs, which is why the ACT government is to be congratulated for its approach. While it has rejected a proposal to allow pill testing at Canberra’s Groovin’ the Moo festival in May, it has left open the possibility for a trial to take place at the Spilt Milk youth music dance event in the ACT in December 2017. If it happens, this will be a first for Australia, although about 20 other countries now allow pill testing – some having done so for almost 20 years.
Today Amanda is director of the Beckley Foundation, a think-tank which has been an instrumental force in global drug policy reform. At 74, she has proved a tireless and often lone voice fighting for research into the potential benefits of psychoactive substances.
Here’s what magic mushrooms do to your body and mind [Business Insider UK]
There’s evidence that tripping on magic mushrooms could actually free the mind. Several small studies have linked the psychoactive ingredient in shrooms (which are illegal) with several purported health benefits, including the potential to help relieve anxiety and depression. But, as with any drug, shrooms also come with risks. And because they’re classified as Schedule 1 — meaning they have “no accepted medical use” — it’s been pretty tough for scientists to tease out exactly what they can and can’t do.
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.
The Hemp, Health & Innovation Expo & Medicinal Cannabis Conference 2017 is taking place in Sydney 27th and 28th May 2017 at Rosehill Gardens.
The 1st Australian Medicinal Cannabis Course [Australian Medical Cannabis Observatory]
A 1 Day Course on 22 June to be offered as a Workshop on behalf of The UIC Medicinal Cannabis Symposium 2017 – Australia’s first medicinal cannabis course, designed for health care practitioners, by health care practitioners.
2017 UIC Medicinal Cannabis Symposium [United in Compassion]
23, 24, 25 JUNE 2017 • MELBOURNE, VICTORIA: 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. Tickets on sale now through www.uic.org.au
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!!