EMBASSY HEADLINES Issue 191
Christmas Island cannabis trials closer after Senate approves new drug laws [ABC]
Plans to set up a medicinal cannabis industry on Christmas Island have moved “a big step closer” after the Senate passed historic laws. The company behind the plans, Perth-based AusCann, is already readying itself for the business opportunities presented by the new laws by preparing to conduct clinical trials of medicinal cannabis in WA. AusCann chief executive Elaine Darby said the trials could start within months, and would be an opportunity to test products which the company hoped to supply to Australian patients. The new laws, which amend the Narcotic Drugs Act, make it legal to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis, but it would be tightly managed by a new regulatory body that would issue licences to growers.
Cannabis laws clear Australian parliament [Yahoo! 7 News]
On the one-year anniversary of medicinal cannabis campaigner Dan Haslam’s death, parliament has passed laws allowing the cultivation of medicinal cannabis. Senators paid tribute to the tireless efforts of Mr Haslam’s mother, Lucy, who was instrumental in campaigning for change after medicinal cannabis helped her son with severe nausea brought on by his chemotherapy treatment. The laws cleared the upper house on Wednesday, one year after her son died following a five-year battle with bowel cancer. “Lucy, this wouldn’t have happened without your contribution,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale told parliament. “Your family’s grief, your family’s pain and suffering, has not been in vain.” Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash said the “missing piece” laws allowed patients access to medicinal cannabis legally cultivated and manufactured in Australia. The health department is also considering rescheduling medicinal cannabis, which is still classified as an illicit drug. Labor and the Greens welcomed the laws as a good first step, acknowledging there was still a long way to go before patients could legally use medicinal cannabis.
Medical Marijuana Users & Drug Driving Laws [Sydney Drug Lawyers]
Courts are already feeling the impact of the increase in roadside drug testing – with dozens of drivers fronting courts across NSW every day. In many instances, those charged with drug driving are adamant they last took cannabis several days before driving. But police contend cannabis is only detectable for 12 hours, with Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, the Commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol, telling the media that:
‘Our pharmacologists tell us that for cannabis active for THC in saliva about 12 hours is the maximum it will be in their system and the maximum we would be getting a positive result on.’
However, police have recently been equipped with a new drug testing device called the Draeger DrugTest 5000. The device’s manufacturers say it can detect traces of cannabis up to 30 hours after consumption – long after a person stops being affected. This has left many members of the public confused about how long they should wait before driving after using cannabis. Speaking with the media last week, criminal barrister Greg Barns said it was up to police to provide members of the public with information about how drug testing works, and how long they should wait after using drugs before driving:
Roadside drug testing: The magic 12-hour rule [The Northern Star]
Defence lawyer Steve Bolt used Tuesday’s forum to spell out a line of defence to cannabis users. He offered the audience the advice they should visit the Centre For Road Safety’s web page, Drugs and Driving, and read the section that states “cannabis can typically be detected in saliva by an MDT test stick for up to 12 hours after use. They added the word ‘typically the day after the Police v Joseph Carrall case in Lismore this month,” he said. “If you therefore wait at least 12 hours after using cannabis you can reasonably expect it will not be detected, according to advice provided by the NSW Government. A precedent has been set which could allow you to test this in court. The onus is on the prosecution to prove otherwise.” But, he said, there was no guaranteed outcome as ultimately it was up to the magistrate.
A NSW Court Has Provided a New Defence for Drug Driving [Vice]
VICE asked NSW police how long they recommend waiting to drive after taking these drugs. They directed us to a NSW Centre for Road Safety Facebook post and said they would “not be making any further comments.” The post explained that THC is “typically” detectable in saliva for up to 12 hours after consumption. But a chronic user could test positive for up to one to two days later. On the centre’s website it outlines that stimulants, specifically speed, ice, and pills, can be “typically detected for one to two days.”
Police claims about drugs and accidents false [EchoNet Daily]
Superintendent Stuart Smith of the NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol claimed on the A Current Affair program of 15 February that the north region is ‘over represented in drug driving, impaired drug driving resulting in the injury or death of someone’ (3:07) and ‘we’ve had numerous dreadful fatalities at the hands of drugged drivers’ (7:00). Both these claims are false.
Ditching the war on drugs won’t be the silver bullet, but it’s an essential new pathway [The Guardian]
It takes a brave politician to advocate for the legalisation of all drugs in the current political climate. In Australia, Greens leader Richard Di Natale is pushing for the decriminalisation of illicit substances, arguing that drug-taking is a health issue rather than a criminal offence. Selling and distributing drugs would still be a crime under this idea, leaving a curious loophole in the proposal which, by the way, has been working working well in Portugal for over a decade.
Nimbin HEMP Embassy to apply for dope licence [The Northern Star]
THE Nimbin HEMP Embassy will apply for a licence to produce medical marijuana following the passage of new Federal laws to legalise it, president Michael Balderstone has announced. The historic legislation to pave the way for legal medical marijuana use Australia-wide was passed unanimously in Federal Parliament yesterday.
Alex Wodak: Cannabis relief a step closer in Oz [NZ Herald]
Ley said the legislation tabled did not relate to the decriminalisation of cannabis for general cultivation or recreational use adding: “If states wish to decriminalise cannabis, then that’s entirely a matter for them.” This is a very significant statement for several reasons. First, it recognises the reality that in many of the countries that have allowed medicinal cannabis, a debate has soon developed about regulating the recreational use of the drug with growing community support soon forcing politicians to allow regulation. Second, it seems to accept that while the decision to start allowing medicinal cannabis is separate from any decisions regarding the prohibition of recreational use, how lawful medicinal cannabis is provided cannot be considered without also taking into account the recreational use of the drug. The more restricted the availability of medicinal cannabis, the more patients will utilise unregulated black market supplies and vice versa. The good news is that the process of providing legislative and policy framework for lawful medicinal cannabis in Australia has at long last started. But we still do not know when and how that framework will operate.
Hemp food motion passes lower house [The Northern Star]
A Greens motion to legalise the hemp food industry in New South Wales has been passed by the Legislative Council despite government opposition. Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham called for parliament to recognise NSW was missing out on a burgeoning industry that could bring huge benefits. “In NSW it is already legal, under licence from the DPI, to grow industrial hemp,” he said. “But we have a situation whereby that hemp can only be harvested for its fibre component. And that is just not good enough.”
Has the war on drugs failed? [NZ Radio National]
The war on drugs has led to “near record-level” failure, according to a visiting drug policy expert, who says imprisoning users is like “curing clinical depression with a baseball bat”. The United Nations General Assembly will soon hold a special session on the world’s drug problem, where governments and NGOs will discuss the way forward. Many in the drug policy field argue that decades of a punitive approach have not deterred drug use, and in fact have caused more harm – particularly to indigenous people. In this country, Maori are consistently over represented in prison for drug offences and more than 1.5 times more likely to use cannabis daily. Sanho Tree – the director of the Drug Policy Project for the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC – is in New Zealand as a guest of the Drug Foundation, and says drug problems will not be solved until poverty and alienation are addressed. He told Nine to Noon that after four decades of the drug war, there was a clear winner. “Well, we’ve spend well over $1 trillion fighting this war on drugs and the drugs are winning. If you look at the government’s own indicators of success or failure, they measure the price, purity and availability of drugs – and drugs are cheaper to get, they’re higher purity and they’re more available than ever before. So we’re near record levels of failure.”
NZ could miss boat on medical cannabis exports [NZ Herald]
New Zealand could miss the boat as an exporter of medicinal cannabis, horticulture expert Dr Mike Nichols said. Nichols, writing in the latest issue of the horticulture magazine, NZGrower, said New Zealand could miss out in much the same way as it did with the opium poppy trade, which is now dominated by Tasmania. “The potential to grow medicinal cannabis in New Zealand at this point in time as an export crop would appear to be excellent,” Nichols said. “The value of a kilogram of medicinal cannabis compared with a kilogram of Pinus radiata is a clear example showing that New Zealand should be producing, and exporting, high value and low volume products,” Nichols said. It appeared that Australia would take the lead in terms of relaxing the laws around medicinal cannabis, “while in New Zealand this still appears to be on the distant horizon”.
New Colorado bill would create guidelines for organic marijuana [The Guardian]
Colorado marijuana consumers will be able to buy pesticide-free, “certified organic” weed if lawmakers pass a new bill aimed at creating special labels for the state’s legal cannabis industry. “This is going to be the Whole Foods version of cannabis,” said Jonathan Singer, a Democratic state representative sponsoring legislation to establish state-approved organic pot. “This is just the next natural step in making sure marijuana is treated similar to alcohol. We’ve got organic beer and organic wine.” The bill, scheduled for its first hearing on Friday, would prompt Colorado’s department of agriculture to create specific guidelines for a “pesticide-free cannabis certification program”. The legislation could help resolve some of the disputes and confusion surrounding pesticide use that have plagued the industry since voters approved recreational marijuana in 2012. City officials in Denver last year ordered a hold on some marijuana plants at multiple facilities after discovering that the growers may have improperly used pesticides. Denver health authorities also recently seized thousands of marijuana plants from growers suspected of using “off-limits” chemicals. “This would create an incentive for businesses to create better practices and focus on growing cannabis in a more organic manner,” said Larisa Bolivar, executive director of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition. She said it would also help support more high-end “craft cannabis” growers – comparable to microbreweries and craft beer manufacturers.
Colorado Tourists More Likely To Visit Hospitals For Cannabis-Related Incidents Than Residents [International Business Times]
Hospital emergency rooms in Colorado are treating more tourists for pot-related ailments than state residents, says a new study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colorado. In the study, to be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the number of visitors’ cannabis-related visits to a Denver hospital emergency room doubled from 2013 to 2014, the year when recreational pot became legal in the state. The Denver hospital saw 85 cannabis-related visits for every 10,000 trips to the hospital in 2012, but 168 per 10,000 in 2014. As for residents, there were 112 visits relating to marijuana for every 10,000 visits in 2014.
Here Are 5 Reasons You Should Have The Right To Grow At Home [Civilized Life]
Should legalization initiatives allow people to grow cannabis at home? It’s a question that Canadian and American activists and legislators will have to answer as they move toward the end cannabis prohibition. Of the four legal states, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska allow residents to grow at home. But Washington State doesn’t. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. is allowing home cultivation while the district continues fighting with Congress over legalization.
1. It’s not really legal without home cultivation
2. Uprooting the black market
3. Making medicine affordable
4. Home growing is quality assurance
5. Cannabis gardening is a political statement
Here’s How Your 2016 Presidential Candidates Feel About Marijuana [Stoned Girls]
Bernie Sanders cares about your weed. Back in November, Sanders introduced a bill that would allow states to decide whether or not they wanted to legalize recreational marijuana, and decriminalizing it on a federal level. Sanders and his supporters claim that this bill would allow growers and dispensaries in the states access to banks, as it would no longer be federally illegal.
Canadian medical marijuana users have right to grow, federal judge rules [The Guardian]
A Canadian federal court judge has ruled that medical marijuana patients have the constitutional right to grow their own cannabis, striking down a ban introduced by the country’s previous Conservative government. A group of British Columbia residents took Canada to court in 2013, arguing a new law requiring medical marijuana patients to buy their cannabis from licensed producers, instead of growing their own, was unconstitutional. They said marijuana grown under the government system was too expensive and did not allow them to control the strains and dosages of their treatment.
Cannabis does not cause anxiety and depression, study finds [The Telegraph UK]
Cannabis does not increase the risk of developing anxiety or depression, a new study has found. There has long been debate over the drug’s potential link to mental health problems. A major study last year found that one in four new cases of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia could be the direct result of smoking extra-strong varieties of cannabis, known as skunk. But a study by scientists at Columbia University, based on 35,000 American adults, found no link between cannabis and anxiety and depression. The researchers looked at the prevalence of marijuana use among participants, then assessed their rates of mental health problems three years later. However the study did find that cannabis users are more likely to become dependent on other substances, for example being alcoholics or smokers.
Does cannabis cause mental illness? [The Conversation]
Many studies of the relationship between cannabis use and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have suffered from methodological issues by not controlling for related factors. The few longitudinal studies that have been conducted have mixed findings. A 2014 review of the existing research concluded that using cannabis placed an individual at moderate risk of developing depression. Unfortunately it was not within the scope of the research to determine if cannabis use was causing depression or if the relationship instead reflects the association between cannabis use and social problems. Cannabis use is associated with other factors that increase risk of depression such as school dropout and unemployment.
Cannabis Based Startup Cannabis.Net Finishes Second Round Of Venture Capital Funding [PRweb]
Cannabis.net owned by Evergreen Buzz, LLC has completed a second round of angel and VC funding. The new cannabis and legal marijuana website is producing cutting edge mapping software for dispensaries, doctors, and lawyers in the cannabis and legal marijuana field. The site also uses some of the best cannabis bloggers and writers online for unique stories and perspectives on the legal marijuana issues. A new social networking platform modeled after Facebook and Instragram features rolls out next week, called the Cannabisseur Social Network. “We are very excited about the opportunities in the medical marijuana field and mapping how to find a medical marijuana doctor or marijuana dispensary for people,” says managing director, Curt Dalton. “We think our mapping, bloggers, and new Weedmatch technology will help shine a light on some of the problems that currently plague the growing niche. We allow for the dispensaries and doctors to communicate with each other and their clients, all in real time and online.” For more information about Cannabis.Net go to Cannabis.Net the website.