WA drug drivers could go free because of unreliable test kits [Perth Now]

MACHINES used by WA police to test whether drivers have used drugs could be failing to pick up cannabis use.  NSW police have documented that a testing kit called the Drager 5000 has produced inaccurate readings under some conditions when it comes to cannabis use, Seven News reports. The same machines are used by WA police as mobile drug testing kits. WA Police confirmed the force has 20 of the machines, which are used in conjunction with other saliva testing kits. “The accuracy rate there is about 67 per cent so it’s not as good as we’d like,” NSW Police head of traffic John Hartley told media. Seven News reports documents obtained under Freedom of Information showed that WA police documented problems including machine faults and invalid tests 16 months ago.

Critics slam police cannabis claims [EchoNet Daily]

Police have been accused of inflating the value of cannabis plants seized during annual helicopter raids, and of taking ‘medicine’ away from sick people. NSW Police issued a media release this week saying that $20 million worth of cannabis plants had been seized during the 2015/16 ‘Cannabis Eradication Program’. Police seized plants in the Richmond, Mid North Coast, Manning Great Lakes, Tweed/Byron and Coffs/Clarence local area commands. Police said the total number of cannabis plants seized during program this year was 10,705, with an estimated potential street value of $21.4 million. Mr Balderstone said on one hand the government was keen to investigate medical cannabis, while on the other it was fighting the people already supplying it. ‘If only the new respect for cannabis’s medical properties stretched a bit to include the actual users of the medicine we might start getting somewhere but the police banter is all the same tired old press releases word for word …  the same for years it seems. ‘Like, “all illicit drugs cause immeasurable harm in our community”. Yeah right, tell that to those thousands of epileptics now seizure free.’

Local hemp farmer labels Green hemp food bill a “stunt” [Northern Star]

A MOTION passed in the NSW Upper House last week to legalise hemp as food has been described as practically pointless and “sort of like stunt” by a leading Northern Rivers hemp grower.  Hemp farmer Andrew Kavasilas cultivates industrial hemp in the Mallanganee area and believes legalising hemp seeds as food is an essential step in the establishment of a viable Australian hemp industry.  But Mr Kavasilas said he bore no illusions about the impact of last week’s bill introduced to the Upper House by NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham.  “It was never going to go anywhere,” Mr Kavasilas said.  The bill was pointless because it would have “no chance” of getting through the Lower House, Mr Kavasilas said, as Coalition MPs would vote against it.  Mr Kavasilas said the true power behind the legal status of hemp food was the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, which meets evert six months and has consistently rejected changes to current laws on the negative advice of police in multiple states.

Perth company edges closer to Cannabis nasal spray epilepsy treatment [The Age]

A unique nasal spray designed to combat epileptic seizures could be one of the first medicinal cannabis products to hit Australia’s healthcare market. Perth-based medical cannabis producer MGC Pharmaceuticals announced on Thursday it has struck a deal with Israeli company SipNose to use nasal spray to administer cannabis. Sydney cardiologist and MGC director Dr Ross Walker says the product is ready to go once Australian regulatory hurdles are overcome. Recent changes at a federal level permit legally-grown cannabis for medicinal cannabis products, but the drug remains a prohibited substance. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering downgrading it to a “controlled substance” class, which will place it alongside morphine. Dr Walker said he was hopeful the government could fast track approval to help those suffering with epilepsy, cancer and chronic pain, but said it could be up to 18 months before prescriptions start to be filled.

Victorian Inquiry Into Illicit And Synthetic Drugs [Parliament of Victoria]

Check out point 5 & 6!

Parliament of Victoria:

INQUIRY INTO ILLICIT AND SYNTHETIC DRUGS AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION

That pursuant to section 33 of the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003 this house requires the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee to inquire into, consider and report, no later than 3 March 2017 on the effectiveness of laws and procedures relating to illicit and synthetic drugs and prescription medication, including—

1. reviewing the effectiveness of drug treatment programs in Victoria with recommendations on how treatment and harm minimisation strategies could be used as an alternative to criminal penalties;

2. reviewing the effectiveness of Victorian government investment into illicit drug supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction strategies and programs;

3. reviewing effectiveness of drug detection programs including roadside testing and procedures for deploying drug detection activities at events;

4. assessing the impact of prescription medication on road safety;

5. reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of laws and regulations relating to illicit and synthetic drugs;

and

6. assessing practices of other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions and their approach to drug law reform and how other positive reforms could be adopted to Victorian law.

Differing opinions have followed last week’s launch of the Dob in a Dealer campaign [Gold Coast Bulletin]

THE Federal Government’s Dob in a Dealer campaign has drawn mixed reactions from local agencies with some claiming it will nab only small-time dealers, leaving the high flyers free to ply their trade. Others said all efforts to stop the scourge of crystal methamphetamine (ice) on the Gold Coast were welcome. The million-dollar Dob in a Dealer campaign was launched last week and will run in partnership with Crime Stoppers. However, Matt Noffs, of the Noffs Foundation, said it would be wiser for the Federal Government to spend this money on drug rehabilitation. Mr Noffs said he did not believe dobbing in high-level dealers would catch them. “They are behind golden gates and have rich accountants and heavy duty lawyers,” he said. “They are not on street corners and they will not be the target of these campaigns. My concern is that while we should be going after the big timers, the net is far too wide and not strategically woven to capture these guys.” He suggested if small dealers were caught in the campaign, compassion should be shown to help them find a new way of living. “Many dealers are people caught up in drug dependence themselves and many are young,” he said. “My greatest concern is that a number of police across the country are saying we can’t arrest our way out of this (drug crisis). The prisons are already overflowing and Dob in a Dealer needs to be weighed up with diversion programs, which say that if someone is arrested they should be supported with treatment.”

Cannabis protest at courthouse [Manning River Times]

LOCAL medicinal cannabis advocates took to the steps of Taree Courthouse on Tuesday, March 1, to protest the arrest of two high-profile growers in Victoria. The protest was led by Kundle Kundle man and noted medicinal cannabis advocate Craig Goodwin and followed the arrests of grandmother Heather Gladman and Liam Hotham on February 17 for cultivation charges. Following her arrest Ms Gladman, 58, has undertaken a hunger strike, which as of February 29 had entered the tenth day. Craig, who himself received a two year good behaviour bond in 2015 over charges of possession and supplying cannabis, said the protest was to draw attention to the plight of sick people denied the use of medicinal cannabis. “We’re asking the federal government to at least call an amnesty against the people who blatantly are filling the gap for medicinal cannabis that the government has created,” he said. “It’s just about a fair go, it’s not about politics, we just want people who are sick to have a fair go.” Mr Goodwin said after his sentencing last year that he would partake “in the political side” of medicinal cannabis legislation, something he has undertaken by founding the Cannabis Embassy with his wife Rachel. The Cannabis Embassy is a project designed to provide support for medicinal cannabis users. “I’m contacted all the time by people looking for medicine but we’re living in fear now because of the constant persecution,” Craig said. Craig said that recently introduced legislation which would allow the government to cultivate medicinal cannabis created a “gap” for patients wanting to use medicinal cannabis. With the government still some time off providing medicinal cannabis products, and with private production of the products still outlawed, patients were often going without. “We’re not happy at all with them. I don’t think we need big pharmacy involved,” he said. “We’re tired of government mismanagement.”

Thousands of cannabis plants seized in NSW [Yahoo! 7 News]

More than $20 million worth of outdoor cannabis crops have been seized in northern NSW during an annual raid. Crops in Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Richmond and the Manning Great Lakes area have been targeted since last year as part of the Cannabis Eradication Program, with police seizing more than 10,000 plants. “That’s $20 million that won’t be boosting the profits of drug dealers and thousands of cannabis plants that won’t be sold in the community,” Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke said on Monday. Six people are expected to face court for cannabis cultivation offences, with investigations continuing into other individuals.

Petition: Medicinal Cannabis Use in NSW [change.org]

The Use of Medicinal Cannabis Oil has saved the life of my son Ben, who has a 1 in a Million Neurological condition that is barely understood by Modern Medicine. The Pharmaceuticals that he was being treated with where stopping him from getting worse, not making him better. Since we started him on Medicinal Cannabis he continues to improve and actually has quality of life. The laws around the use of Medicinal Cannabis are out of touch with the needs of People in the NSW, Australia and the Rest of the World! This Medication has been proven to Assist people many different medical conditions, reduce the symptoms of Epilepsy, help control  the muscle spasm of people with MS and Parkinson’s, assist people with chronic pain conditions and has been proven to help with many forms of Cancer in not only reducing Pain but also been found to kill cancer cells! We need to see a change to allow people who need will benefit from this medication to be able to access it without facing persecution from outdated laws! Ben’s story is unusual owing to his very rare condition, Medicinal Cannabis Oil has made a HUGE difference to Ben’s quality of life. Please follow Ben’s story on https://www.facebook.com/Roll-On-Ben-Oakley-1475483672700697

Nimbin Medical Cannabis Workshop March 12

Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy will hold another of it’s popular Medican Workshops, on Saturday March 12, from 11 am until 4.20 pm, with healthy hempseed food available at the Hall Cafe. Dr Pot, Andrew Katelaris, is coming up from Sydney to talk about his latest understandings of how to get the most out of using medical cannabis. Local solicitor Steve Bolt will be talking about the recent court cases with saliva testing cannabis users and also what new cannabis proposed legislation changes mean. HEMP Party secretary Andrew Kavasilas will also speak about the changes, how they impact on the current situation and what to look out for when considering using cannabis for medical purposes. Carl Martel, a visiting Canadian hemp consultant is speaking as well as Gregory James from Farmers Choice Organics who has been living with cancer and severe pain for a long time and understands attitude is the ultimate key on continuing to enjoy your life. Anyone else who would like to speak about their medicinal cannabis use or experience is welcome to just turn up or contact the HEMP Embassy beforehand to discuss if you want. enquiries…contact Dave or Michael at the HEMP Embassy on 66890326.

NZ shooting: four police shot at rural property in Bay of Plenty [The Australian]

Three police officers have been rushed to hospital after they were shot during a siege at a rural property in the Bay of Plenty. And police have confirmed a fourth officer has been injured and is receiving medical treatment. New Zealand said the incident began when an offender started taking potshots at an aircraft being used in an anti-drug operation. One officer was serious but stable and the injuries sustained by the other three were not life threatening, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said. He said the siege, which was still ongoing at 7.45pm (5.45pm AEDT), began after a police plane searching for cannabis came under fire near the remote North Island town of Kawerau. The Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) was deployed and four of its officers were shot in a stand-off at a rural property. “It is always distressing for us all when officers are injured doing their duty,” he told reporters in Wellington. Clement said no one was injured aboard the plane that came under fire, adding that indications pointed to a lone offender, but he was unable to go into too much detail. “I simply can’t, it’s an investigation that’s ongoing,” he said. “He might indeed be watching us now on his own television.” Regular police in New Zealand do not carry firearms, relying on the specialist AOS.

Legal marijuana is finally doing what the drug war couldn’t [The Washington Post]

Legal marijuana may be doing at least one thing that a decades-long drug war couldn’t: taking a bite out of Mexican drug cartels’ profits. The latest data from the U.S. Border Patrol shows that last year, marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled to their lowest level in at least a decade. Agents snagged roughly 1.5 million pounds of marijuana at the border, down from a peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009.

Florida House Passes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Unanimously [Drug Policy Alliance]

Today, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed SB 1044, reforming Florida’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act,” sending the legislation to Gov. Scott’s desk for a signature. Last week the Senate passed the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, in a 38–0 vote. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued the following statement in reaction to today’s vote: “A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed someone who told me a reform of Florida’s civil asset forfeiture laws was possible; today we’ve seen unanimous votes in both houses of its legislature in the space of less than a week. More work remains to fully protect the rights of Floridians but these reforms are significant. The Governor should look to the unanimity of the legislature and sign these reforms into law as soon as he can.” Nadelmann was joined by Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, in applauding the bill’s passage and urging Gov. Scott’s signature.

Has DARE Gone Soft on Marijuana? [Reason]

Like other Americans who came of age in the 1980s or ’90s, I associate Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a.k.a. DARE, with the mindless “Just Say No” propaganda of that era. I was therefore startled to hear that DARE had endorsed marijuana legalization. But that turned out to be a mistake. Likewise recent reports that DARE no longer considers marijuana a “gateway drug” and has excised the perils of pot from its curriculum.

US Supreme Court to decide on Colorado marijuana laws after Nebraska and Oklahoma complain [International Business Times]

The US Supreme Court is set to hold a conference to determine whether or not to decide a case against Colorado’s law legalizing recreational use of cannabis. The case has been filed by the neighbouring states of Nebraska and Oklahoma, claiming the law is encouraging crime within their borders. The attorneys general of the states are arguing that that the commercialization allowed in Colorado illegally conflicts with federal law, and that marijuana flowing across Colorado state lines is creating a burden for them. The petition in Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado is an original jurisdiction case, meaning the complaint is sent directly to the Supreme Court, with no lower court involved, because it involves a dispute among states. The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court not to take the case. The administration has signalled that it will not take legal action against states that have legalized cannabis use provided certain safeguards have been put into place. In early 2015, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman submitted a brief arguing against the case saying the action would dangerously meddle with Colorado law. Nebraska and Oklahoma “filed this case in an attempt to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree,” she wrote. Coffman argued that instead of exacerbating criminal marijuana trade, the Colorado law was an attempt to bring the sale of marijuana into a carefully regulated system.

Bernie Sanders: I’ve done marijuana twice … it made me cough a lot’ – video [The Guardian]

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says, on Monday during a campaign rally in Michigan, that he has tried marijuana twice in his life when he was very young. He adds that the drug made him cough a lot. Sanders also said Heroin addiction must be tackled but dismisses comparisons between the “killer drug” and marijuana.

Governing in Prose [volteface]

Last week, new Canadian PM Justin Trudeau told citizens that, until his Government can formulate a ‘strong regulatory framework’, cannabis consumers will remain at risk of arrest. Trudeau has warned Canadians not to mistake his campaign-trail promises to legalise cannabis for a de-facto decriminalisation, effective immediately upon his arrival in office. Now, five months into Trudeau’s tenure, Canadian activists are starting to realise that legalisation doesn’t come at the flick of a switch.

ILLEGAL! Presents: The Cannabis Activist [volteface]

ILLEGAL! is a new magazine that deals with drugs and culture. Sold on the streets of the UK by people who use drugs and others from marginalised groups, £2 from each copy sold is kept by the vendor, providing a valuable alternative income for people who would otherwise rely on criminality or prostitution to support themselves. VolteFace has teamed up with ILLEGAL! to present highlights from each edition online in a regular column. We are excited to be able to champion the work of ILLEGAL! Magazine, and if you see someone selling, we recommend you buy a copy to discover more great stories. This week, Lee Harris takes us back through over 50 remarkable years of cannabis activism.

GW Pharmaceuticals Stock Falls to Two Year Low [Canna Business]

[9 March 2016] British medical cannabis company GW Pharmaceuticals saw their stock drop to its lowest price in nearly two years on Thursday amid worries that its newest drug won’t live up to expectations. GW’s value has plummeted by two-thirds since mid-2015, when it reached a peak of £1.7bn. The reason for this latest fall is the company’s flagship epilepsy drug, Epidiolex. With test data due to be released in the next few weeks, things aren’t looking good. It’s unlikely that the drug will fail testing altogether, but numerous factors are at play that suggest it won’t do as well as hoped. Firstly, the number of patients involved in the trial of the drug for the treatment of Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of childhood epilepsy, is too low to prove the efficacy of the drug. In other words, even if the drug is a success for all of the patients involved, it won’t have proved a thing. It’s an odd situation, but it’s the way science works, and it’s something GW probably should have realised before now. The problem is that if they can’t prove its efficacy, the commercial potential of the drug is drastically reduced. To make matters worse for GW, the ever-increasing popularity and acceptance of cannabis medicine is working against them. Previous trials of Epidiolex were considered to have a placebo response rate of around 25%, thanks in large part to increased exposure to the idea of cannabis as an epilepsy ‘wonder-drug’ meaning people expect it to work.

Cannabis should be legalised and regulated, UK Lib Dems say [BBC]

The Liberal Democrats are backing a new report calling for the legalised sale of marijuana through licensed outlets, including “cannabis social clubs”. Criminalising cannabis use is a waste of police time, they say, and increases health risks by leaving many people in the dark about what they are taking.  The party is calling for a “regulated market” to control the pricing, potency and packaging of sales to over-18s. The Conservatives rejected Lib Dem calls to review drug laws in coalition. The Lib Dems’ attempts to put the issue on the political agenda while in government were rebuffed by Home Secretary Theresa May, who argued existing laws were proving successful in reducing drug use and the harm associated with it.  Cannabis is currently classified as a Class B drug, with possession carrying a maximum sentence of five years in jail or an unlimited fine. Those supplying or producing cannabis face tougher penalties, with up to a maximum of 14 years in jail.

A regulated cannabis market for the UK [Liberal Democrats UK]

The most comprehensive framework for how a regulated cannabis market could work in the UK has been published today by an independent panel of experts set up by the Liberal Democrats. This groundbreaking report sets out how the legal production and supply of cannabis could work in the UK. It was established in the autumn by Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Norman Lamb MP. The expert panel was chaired by Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst from Transform Drug Policy Foundation. Click here to download a full copy of the report

FactCheck: cannabis taxes – money spinner or smoke and mirrors? [Channel 4 UK]

Today the Lib Dems issued a report compiled by a panel of experts saying cannabis should be regulated in Britain. The point of the report wasn’t to claim it would be a money spinner for the government. It would raise some money, but more importantly, the report said, it would bring health benefits and reduce the social cost, with less criminality such as convictions for drugs possession and so on. But big figures – such as the £1bn the report said could be raised in taxes – caught FactCheck’s eye. Are we burning a hole in our pockets by making cannabis use illegal? The figures contained in the Lib Dem report are “speculative”. Indeed, they did suggest that their figures were a prediction to begin with, depended on the tax regime, and were a by-product of their central argument that regulating cannabis would be more harmless than the current system. But they’re not alone in suggesting that regulating cannabis would bring in plenty of money for state coffers. It’s been suggested many times before. It probably would to begin with, but after a while, as a proportion of GDP, the country would be likely to make less and less from it. It’s also very hard to quantify the cost of something that’s still illegal.

‘Cannabis drug would help my daughter’ [Irish Examiner]

A Cork mother says she may be forced to break up her family unless she can get a treatment for her six-year-old daughter which is not currently authorised in Ireland.

The Guardian view on UK drug laws: high time to challenge a failing prohibition [The Guardian]

Cannabis has its dangers, and there is room for argument about how to minimise the harm. But heavy-handed reliance on the criminal law is a failing approach that has been tried for long enough. t is impossible to know how many people have been deterred from using cannabis out of deference to the law. Decades of prohibition have not prevented the drug from establishing itself as a part of the repertoire of psychoactive substances that British people use for leisure and, for a few, non-recreational medication. Despite the theoretical threat of prosecution, cannabis use has become sufficiently uncontroversial for stories about David Cameron dabbling in his youth to have surfaced without measurable impact on his standing as prime minister.

Cannabis myths: Seven rumours about legalisation, crime and addiction debunked [The Independent]

Myth: Cannabis is a dangerous drug

Myth: Cannabis use leads to harder drugs

Myth: Legalisation of cannabis leads to more crime

Myth: Cannabis is a highly addictive drug

Myth: Cannabis smokers tend to be heavy users

Myth: Legalisation will lead more teenagers to take up cannabis use

Myth: Cannabis is not bad for you

What Should Universities Do About Students Who Take Drugs? [volteface]

A UK NHS study shows that the prevalence rate among students who ingested any drug (cannabis, MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine et al.) is significantly higher than that for non-students aged 20-22. In fact, the student drug market is so sought after that dealers take out student loans and enrol at universities, just to tap into the eager gold mine waiting for their service. So what have universities been doing to fight against the rising numbers? They’re coming down on students, hard. Student dealers have been known to receive upwards of three years in prison for dealing Class A and B drugs. They walk away with their education disrupted, a record, and no idea how to rejoin a job market which was already so impossible to integrate into.

Cannabis use in psychotic patients linked to 50 percent higher hospital admission risk [EurekAlert!]

Cannabis use among people experiencing a first episode of psychotic illness is linked to a 50 per cent heightened risk of hospital admission–including compulsory detention (sectioning)–as well as longer inpatient stay, reveals the largest study of its kind, published in the online journal BMJ Open. Cannabis use was also linked to higher numbers of prescriptions for different antipsychotic drugs, the findings show, suggesting that it may contribute to treatment failure, say the researchers. Cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk of psychotic episodes before, particularly if used during the teen years, but it is not clear if it has any impact on relapse risk in those with long term psychosis. The researchers therefore mined the anonymised electronic health records of 2026 people treated for a first episode of psychosis at one of the largest providers of mental health services in Europe between 2006 and 2013.

How (and Why) Your Brain Makes Its Own Cannabinoids [Vice]

As you probably already know, unlike water, potatoes, and many top-selling pharmaceutical drugs, it’s virtually impossible to fatally overdose on marijuana.  What you might not realize, however, is that this remarkable attribute of weed stems from the fact that the human body actually produces its own “endogenous” cannabinoids (chemicals otherwise unique to the cannabis plant). These cannabinoids—whether formed in your brain or inhaled via a nice fat joint—fit neatly into a series of specialized receptors located throughout the human body, with their greatest concentration in the hippocampus (which regulates memory), the cerebral cortex (cognition), the cerebellum (motor coordination), the basal ganglia (movement), the hypothalamus (appetite), and the amygdala (emotions). Cannabinoid receptors are similarly found in “every animal species down to the sponge,” Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology / oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and a leading medical marijuana researcher, told VICE’s Krishna Andavolu. Dr. Abrams was speaking to Andavolu about cannabinoid receptors for the first episode of Weediquette, our show about all things weed on our new TV channel, VICELAND. The episode explores the potential therapeutic benefits of THC in children with serious illnesses. When compared to the side effects of other drugs commonly prescribed to kids with cancer, the decision of parents to administer large doses of highly-concentrated cannabis oil to their sick children seems to some the better choice.

The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use [World Health Organization]

Cannabis is globally the most commonly used psychoactive substance under international control. In 2013, an estimated 181.8 million people aged 15-64 years used cannabis for nonmedical purposes globally (UNODC, 2015). There is an increasing demand for treatment for cannabis-use disorders and associated health conditions in high- and middle-income countries. Almost 20 years have passed since the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report on the health consequences of cannabis use. Since then there has been significant research on the effects of cannabis use on health. I am therefore pleased to present this update on the health and social consequences of nonmedical cannabis use, with a special focus on the effects on young people and on long-term frequent use. This report focuses on nonmedical use of cannabis, building on contributions from a broad range of experts and researchers from different parts of the world. It aims to present current knowledge on the impact of nonmedical cannabis use on health, from its impact on brain development to its role in respiratory diseases. The potential medical utility of cannabis – including the pharmacology, toxicology and possible therapeutic applications of the cannabis plant – is outside the scope of this report. I hope that Member States, institutions and organizations will be able to make use of this report when prioritizing areas for future international research on the health and social consequences of nonmedical cannabis use.

Variation in medical marijuana program regulations impacts enrollment [EurekAlert!]

A study published today in Health Affairs found that while 14 of the nation’s 24 medical marijuana programs were essentially nonmedical in practice, they enrolled more than 99 percent of overall participants. Fewer than one percent were enrolled in “medicalized” programs that adhere to accepted professional standards in medicine.  More than one million people participate in medical marijuana programs in the United States.  The study analyzed the extent to which medical marijuana laws and program regulations incorporate accepted medical practice, good pharmaceutical manufacturing practices as established by the FDA, and restrictions on controlled substances. The authors evaluated the strength of the association between the medicalization of each marijuana program and its enrollment rate, and assessed state-specific characteristics such as the number of physicians per capita, the burden of terminal disease, medical marijuana costs, and rates of recreational marijuana use.  The study found that laws initiated before 2009, primarily those in western states passed by voter initiative, depart the most from the medical model. The more recent programs in the midwest and northeast typically required years of work at the state level to move from the initial passage of a law to full implementation of a state-licensed manufacturing and dispensary system.

Marijuana use disorder is common and often untreated [National Institute on Alcohol Abuse]

Marijuana use disorder is common in the United States, is often associated with other substance use disorders, behavioral problems, and disability, and goes largely untreated, according to a new study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.   The analysis found that 2.5 percent of adults – nearly 6 million people –experienced marijuana use disorder in the past year, while 6.3 percent had met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder at some point in their lives.  A report of the study, led by Bridget Grant, Ph.D., of the NIAAA Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry, appears online today in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “The new analysis complements previous population-level studies by Dr. Grant’s group that show that marijuana use can lead to harmful consequences for individuals and society,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of NIAAA. In a recent report, Dr. Grant and her team found that the percentage of Americans who reported using marijuana in the past year more than doubled between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, and the increase in marijuana use disorders during that time was nearly as large.  The new study analyzed data about marijuana use that were collected in the 2012-2013 wave of NIAAA’s National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), the largest study ever conducted on the co-occurrence of alcohol use, drug use, and related psychiatric conditions.

Book: The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition [Transnational Institute]

Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits. A paperback version of the report is available for purchase in our bookstore. The cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal and recreational purposes since the early days of civilization. In this report the Transnational Institute and the Global Drug Policy Observatory describe in detail the history of international control and how cannabis was included in the current UN drug control system. Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.