2017: THE CANNABIS YEAR IN REVIEW

Past Editions of the Headlines

JANUARY

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

The annual turnover of the cannabis market in Australia is estimated to be bigger than our wine market. But unlike our wine market, not a cent of Australia’s cannabis is taxed.

Malcolm Turnbull Says He Can’t And Won’t Issue A Medicinal Cannabis Amnesty [Huffington Post]

It may have sparked an unusual defection to One Nation and now become an unexpected flagstone for Pauline Hanson’s party, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists his hands are tied over pleas for an amnesty for users and suppliers of medicinal cannabis.

Police raids ‘take medicine’ from severely ill kids [Sunshine Coast Daily]

Families are having to ration their sick and dying children’s medicine after a police raid on a South Australian marijuana producer’s home yesterday cut off supply of medicinal marijuana oil to more than 150 Australians.

Australia’s first medicinal cannabis clinical guidelines released [Queensland Government]

Queensland doctors now have access to Australia’s first medical practitioner guidance document which will assist them to safely prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients.

Doctors Have No Idea What To Do With Medicinal Cannabis In Australia [BuzzFeed]

Legalising medicinal cannabis in Australia is pointless if doctors don’t know how and when to prescribe it. The complicated process that leads to medicinal cannabis prescription has both doctors and patients scratching their heads.

FEBRUARY

When The Government Legalised Medicinal Cannabis Things Only Got Harder For The Seriously Ill [BuzzFeed]

It was February 2016 and the media was frantically reporting the Australian government’s decision to pass new laws that would “pave the way” for people suffering from chronic illness to use medicinal cannabis. The future of medicinal cannabis in Australia is embroiled in a battle between two access pathways.

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.

Pro-cannabis campaign flies high in Canberra [The Northern Star]

A blow-up phial of medicinal cannabis stood tall in the nation’s capital today as marijuana advocates from around Australia and the North Coast campaigned for the legal use of the controversial drug.

MARCH 

Israel Officially Decriminalizes Marijuana Use [Haaretz]

First-time offenders will face $270 fine if caught using marijuana in a public place, but criminal charges will only be brought if person re-offends four times.

New Medical Cannabis Laws Now in Effect in Germany [International Cannabis Business Conference]

Germans woke up to a breath of fresh air and a new change in health policy took effect earlier this week when the new medical cannabis laws recently passed by German Parliament became official.

How the Western Cape High Court dagga judgment applies to you [news24]

The landmark Western Cape High Court’s order regarding the private use of dagga applies only to home use and cultivation, cautioned Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton after the ruling in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday.

Argentina lawmakers approve cannabis oil for medicinal use [Reuters]

Argentina gave final legislative approval on Wednesday to a bill legalizing cannabis oil for medicinal use and permitting the federal government to grow marijuana for research and therapeutic purposes.

APRIL

Hemp food products approved for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand [ABC]

It will soon be legal to consume hemp food products in Australia and New Zealand, after a landmark decision made in South Australia.

West Virginia governor signs medical marijuana into law [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

Gov. Jim Justice signed a comprehensive medical marijuana bill into law Wednesday, wrapping up what might have been the legislative underdog story of the session. Justice signed Senate Bill 386, which will put a medical cannabis commission into place to begin forming the regulatory infrastructure for the Bureau of Public Health to begin issuing marijuana patient ID cards on July 1, 2019.

MAY

Australia just received its first import of legal cannabis [Business Insider Australia]

The first two commercial batches of medicinal cannabis in Australia have arrived in Perth and Melbourne. Both shipments originate from Canada and are to be held by Health House International in Western Australia and Pharmaceutical Packaging Professionals in Victoria, according to federal health minister Greg Hunt.

Here’s Why Everyone In Politics Is Fighting Over Cannabis Again [Huffington Post]

Another bitter dispute about medical marijuana erupted in parliament late on Thursday, with Labor and the Greens pitted against the government and One Nation over a plan to reduce barriers to importing cannabis into Australia.

Australia’s first medicinal cannabis course to teach students ‘whole continuum’ of plant [The Age]

Students of Australia’s first medicinal cannabis course will learn everything there is to know about the plant, short of ingesting the thing. There won’t be any visits to secret cultivation facilities, but architects of the new eight-week course at Deakin University will teach best-practice in growing, extracting and manufacturing medicinal cannabis in Australia.

JUNE

Catalonia legalises marijuana consumption, cultivation and distribution [Independent]

It follows a campaign which gathered 67,500 petition signatures, forcing a government debate. The government of Catalonia has legalised marijuana, making the autonomous Spanish region the latest part of the world to loosen restrictions on use of the drug. The cultivation, consumption and distribution of cannabis will be permitted for members of designated clubs after the region’s parliament voted to regulate them.

Cannabis Legalization World Map [Cannabis Business Times]

Cannabis legalization is not exclusive to North America. So far, 21 countries or territories have legalized cannabis fully or partially for medical and/or adult use. Cannabis Business Times compiled a brief snapshot of the laws in those with established regulations.

Macron is Eliminating Prison Sentences for Marijuana Use [Frenchly]

Holding up one of his campaign promises, Macron will soon do away with prison sentences for minor cannabis offenses, like possession of marijuana. The government intends to give fines for minor possession, with no further prosecution. The Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb says the policy should be implemented by September.

JULY

Swiss supermarket to start selling ‘legal cannabis’ cigarettes [The Local]

An independent Swiss cigarette maker has this month launched what it calls the first hemp cigarette in the world – and from July 24th they will be on sale in major Swiss supermarket Coop. In 2011 Switzerland legalized cannabis containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – higher than the 0.2 percent legal limit in many other European countries.

Greece legalises marijuana for medical purposes [Independent]

Doctors will soon be able to prescribe the drug for several medical uses. Greece is the sixth EU country to take this action after the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have already legalised the drug for medical use.

Uruguay pharmacies start selling cannabis straight to consumers [The Guardian]

Pharmacies in Uruguay have begun selling cannabis directly to consumers, the culmination of a long and pioneering legalization effort that began over three years ago. The nearly 5,000 users who have registered with the government in the small South American country will be able to buy five-gram (0.18oz) sealed packets for $6.50 each.

Senator Buys Recreational Marijuana And Nevada Entrepreneurs Gear Up For Green Rush [Forbes]

On July 1, Shango Premium in Las Vegas opened its doors for recreational customer sales one minute after midnight. The+Source dispensary welcomed  State Senator Tick Segerblom to make the store’s first purchase, a pre-rolled joint of his namesake strain, Segerblom Haze.  Nevada’s cannabis market is open for business and entrepreneurs are navigating the evolving landscape.

AUGUST

Sex Party leader backs Nimbin’s Lane Boys [Echo Netdaily]

Leader of the Australian Sex Party and Victorian MP Fiona Patten has condemned the jail sentences handed down to seven Nimbin locals last week for selling cannabis as a pointless, life shattering waste of resources when other jurisdictions are basking in the success of tax-and regulate models.

South Australian Government releases draft regulations on growing and processing industrial hemp [The Advertiser]

New rules for growing and processing hemp in South Australia would require licence holders to prevent theft or loss of the crop in transit and to notify authorities if they were convicted of a drug offence. The State Government has released draft regulations for public feedback, which also restrict the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in an industrial hemp crop to one per cent.

Medical cannabis licence granted to WA company AusCann [Perth Now]

Australian drug regulators have granted what is believed to be the first licence to manufacture and supply medical cannabis in WA. AusCann, whose chairman is former WA Federal Liberal MP Mal Washer, has been granted a manufacturing licence by the Office of Drug Control, paving the way for it to not only grow but also make cannabinoid medical products.

SEPTEMBER

Olivia Newton-John reveals she is drinking cannabis extract to ease her back pain as she battles cancer [The Sun]

Olivia Newton-John has revealed she is using medical marijuana to ease her pain as she battles cancer for the second time. The 68-year-old has been left unable to walk due to agonising back pain caused by the disease.

New Hampshire Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect [Forbes]

New Hampshire just became the 22nd state in the U.S. to eliminate the possibility of spending time behind bars for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Swiss Federal Court Okays 10g of Cannabis [Marijuana]

People in the cities of Zurich and Winterthur and the Canton St. Gallen can legally possess up to 10 grams of cannabis without fear of criminal prosecution. The Federal Court of Justice recently stated “the mere possession of minor amounts of drugs for consumer purposes” is not a priority, which supports the city court’s decision last year to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.

OCTOBER

Medicinal cannabis bill passes Senate [9 News]

The Turnbull government has “blood on its hands” for not making it easier for terminally-ill patients to access medicinal cannabis, parliament has been told.

The tide is turning on marijuana [The Salt Lake Tribune]

The tide is turning on marijuana. And Big Pharma has no one to blame but itself. The horrific epidemic of addiction and death linked to the profligate distribution of opioid prescription pain relievers has moved Americans of all stripes to reconsider the advantages of a substance that used to be reserved for the counterculture.

USA Domestic Hemp Production More Than Doubles In Past Year [NORML]

Domestic hemp production increased dramatically from 2016 to 2017, according to data compiled by the advocacy organization Vote Hemp. The group calculates that US farmers cultivated over 23,000 acres of hemp in 2017, up from fewer than 10,000 acres in 2016.

World Anti-Doping Agency Removes CBD from Prohibited Substances List [High Times]

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its 2018 prohibited substances list and wisely added synthetic cannabinoids, such as Spice. “Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited. Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance,” the document states. This is where athletes have to be very careful: the source of their CBD. They would be wise to have their CBD products tested to ensure that no THC remains.

Danes to legalise medical cannabis [EurasiaTimes]

From New Year’s Day, Danes will be able to obtain a receipt for medicinal cannabis, thanks to a broadly supported parliamentary decision last year. A decision is yet to be made on whether it can be grown in Denmark.

NOVEMBER

Hemp bread heads to market in Benalla [The Weekly Times]

After two decades in the pipeline, you can legally get your fix of hemp this weekend — albeit with butter and Vegemite on it. From Sunday the sale of hemp for human consumption will be legal in Australia. The much-maligned plant, part of the cannabis family, has been given the tick of approval by state and federal governments. Benalla baker Andrew Bertalli will be up early on Sunday to bake his first batch of hemp bread, 17 years after he began lobbying for hemp foodstuffs to be legalised.

It’s Ok for Rastafarians to smoke weed to meditate: Italian court [The Local]

An Italian court acquitted a man found with 58 grams of cannabis in his possession because, as a Rastafarian, he was using the ‘sacred herb’ to meditate.

Cuomo signs off on medical marijuana use for PTSD to mark USA Veterans Day [Daily News]

In honor of Veterans Day, Gov. Cuomo on Saturday signed legislation allowing medicinal marijuana to be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill allows military veterans, police officers and firefighters, as well as survivors of domestic violence, access to the state’s burgeoning marijuana dispensary system.

Where Is Marijuana Legal? Peru The Latest Country To Legalize [Newsweek]

The president of Peru signed a bill on Thursday legalizing medical marijuana across the country, a historic move that came a few weeks after the Peruvian Congress voted to approve it. The legalization allows possession, sale, and transport of cannabis for medical purposes, but it’s still illegal to cultivate the plant. The government will develop a list of official importers or growers who are authorized to supply the nation’s new medical marijuana patients, who will be given prescriptions for conditions like Parkinson’s, cancer, epilepsy or other chronic or terminal illnesses.

DECEMBER

Restrictive medicinal cannabis laws see black-market boom [Echo Netdaily]

Medicinal cannabis campaigners such as Lucy Haslam believe the government’s regulations have been deliberately set up to prevent access.

Sessions Hints at Marijuana Enforcement Changes [Stop the Drug War]

At a press conference Wednesday on new measures to address opioid use, USA Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that the Justice Department’s laissez-faire approach to marijuana in states where it is legal may soon be changing. Justice is looking “very hard right now” at the Cole memo, an Obama-era guidance to federal prosecutors that told them to generally make enforcement a low priority in legalization or medical states, Sessions said. “It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and it’s subject to being enforced,” he said. “We’ll be working our way through to a rational policy. But I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it.”

Norway becomes first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs in historic vote [Independent]

Norway is to become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs as it focuses on treatment rather than punishment. Norway’s 2017 Country Drug Report shows 266 people died from drug-related deaths.

United Nations and World Health Organization Call For Decriminalization of All Illegal Drugs [Merry Jane]

Many governments across the globe have spent decades waging a war against drug users through harsh punishments. Yet, the drug problem has not improved; in fact, it has only gotten worse. It is for this reason that United Nations and the World Health Organization are calling for the total elimination of the criminal penalties associated with the possession of all illegal drugs. UN Secretary General António Guterres says punishing minor drug offenders is unnecessary.

Mexico to legalize marijuana-based product sales next year [7 News]

Mexico will legalize sales of marijuana-based medicines, foods, drinks, cosmetics and other products early next year, its health regulator said on Wednesday, bringing some forms of cannabis into legal commerce even as the country struggles with the illicit drug trade.

How Uruguay made legal highs work [The Guardian]

The South American country’s move to full legalisation of cannabis has so far proved a success, especially for its 17,391 users.

Medical Marijuana is Finally Legal in Poland now [Zenpype]

Poland has become the latest European country to legalize medical cannabis. They also plan to educate their citizens on the benefits of cannabis. Three days ago Poland became the latest country to legalize medical cannabis. They join other European countries like Germany, Greece, and Italy. Polish pharmacists will now be allowed to offer patients cannabis, as long as it has been recorded with the Office for Registration of Medical Products, according to the new regulations.

Paraguay Congress legalizes planting of medical marijuana [7 News]

Paraguay’s Congress passed a bill on Tuesday creating a state-sponsored system to import marijuana seeds and grow the plant for medical uses, a decision that followed other countries in Latin America.