iCAN – Israel Cannabis cofounder and ex-pat Australian Saul Kaye presents in front of Premier Mike Baird and the Australian mission in Israel [PR Wire]

Mr. Kaye highlighted iCAN’s involvement in medical cannabis clinical trials and plant based research via iCAN’s partnership with Breath of Life (BOL) Pharma, which recently partnered to form the first private Cannabis R&D center in Israel.   “As a company with two Australian ex-pat founders, I was especially honored to have the opportunity to present our initiatives in front of Premier Mike Baird and the Australian mission.  The mission visit comes fresh off our CannaTech global innovation summit as we are looking to collaborate on research and development initiatives to advance medical cannabis and further Australia’s entrance into a responsible medical cannabis program” said Mr. Kaye. The Australian mission has come to Israel to explore opportunities for collaboration for New South Whales in innovation, science and technology and learn from Israel’s experience in entrepreneurship and start-ups. Mr. Kaye, along with fellow co-founder, medical cannabis patient, and Aussie ex-pat Jason Ryker, will also be attending a special reception for Premier Mike Baird on Wednesday night.   The iCAN Israel-Cannabis team also had the opportunity to visit with Lucy Haslem and learn about her organization United in Compassion.  Mrs. Haslem’s work, in honor of her late son Dan, is to provide compassionate access for the dignified relief of suffering to the people of Australia.  Mrs. Haslem said the trip was a unique opportunity to visit a country considered one of the pioneers of the supply of medicinal cannabis.

MGC Pharmaceuticals plans entry to Australian cannabis-based cosmetics market [Global Cosmetics News]

MGC Pharmaceuticals is planning to enter the burgeoning Australian medicinal cannabis market, according to a report published by AAP. “The medicinal cannabis market in Australia is emerging as one of the most exciting opportunities for Australian patients, material growers and the pharmaceutical industry,” MGC Managing Director Nativ Segev told AAP. “As Australia places itself on the global medicinal cannabis map, MGC Pharmaceuticals plans to play a crucial leadership role in the development of the domestic industry.” MGC currently supplies non-psychoactive cannabidiol resin extract (CBD) to the European cosmetics and medical markets. Its latest goal is to become the market leader in Australia’s AUD150 million market, after the Australian government passed a motion to allow cannabis cultivation for medical or scientific use in February this year. The company has applied for a licence to grow medicinal cannabis in the country, expand outlets for its line of cannabis-based cosmetics and extend its clinical trial program down under. CBD is said to be capable of treating dry skin and conditions such as acne and eczema.

Group pushes for Canberra cannabis dispensary [The Age]

Medicinal cannabis supporters are pushing forward with plans to establish a dispensary in the ACT, similar to those found in some states of the United States where the drug is freely sold from shopfronts. Launching advocacy group The Med Shed at the Hellenic Club in Woden on Sunday afternoon, group co-ordinator Matthew Holmes said a large number of pain, nausea and seizure sufferers were forced to break the law to seek relief. Despite overseas evidence of the drug’s effectiveness, the medical community in Australia remained slow to accept it as a viable treatment option. By establishing the group they wanted to take advantage of the October ACT election to pressure candidates and parties to change the law and make cannabis use legal for medical purposes in the ACT. “We do think Canada has the best arrangement (for providing cannabis to patients) and we’d like the Assembly to take us to a similar model,” Mr Holmes said. “However, if that doesn’t come about in the one-to-two-year timeframe we will take matters into our own hands and we do have the support to open a dispensary.”

Medicinal cannabis moving too slow for patients [AJP]

The TGA has made an interim decision to create new S8 entries for cannabis, botanically derived extracts and Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) where they are botanically derived from cannabis. Today it released reasons for the scheduling delegate’s interim decision and invited further comment. The Canberra Group, the Med Shed, provides resources for health professionals, patients and supporters. The site offers instructions for health professionals on how to create tinctures. President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia ACT Branch, Amanda Galbraith, told the AJP that it is very understandable that people suffering from chronic diseases including epilepsy, or their parents, are frustrated with what they could see as the slow pace of Government and pharmacy efforts to bring regulated medicinal cannabis to the Australian marketplace. “The Guild and Government are looking at cannabinoid use under the S8 process, same as morphine, and that’s what we’re expecting to happen.”

TGA has made an interim decision to create new S8 entries for cannabis [Therapeutic Goods Association]

The TGA has made an interim decision to create new S8 entries for cannabis, botanically derived extracts and Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) where they are botanically derived from cannabis. Today it released reasons for the scheduling delegate’s interim decision and invited further comment.

NZ Health Minister Peter Dunne approves cannabis product for Tourette’s Syndrome patient [Stuff NZ]

A new medicinal cannabis product has been given the green light by the Government for a patient with a severe case of Tourette’s Syndrome. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has approved Aceso Calm Spray, a non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based product, following an application from a patient’s consultant. This is only the second time a cannabis product has been approved by Dunne – the first was last year when Nelson teenager Alex Renton was given Elixinol to treat “status epilepticus”, a kind of prolonged seizure. Renton died a month after seeking approval for the cannabis treatment and the only product currently available in New Zealand that doesn’t require Dunne’s approval is Sativex.

Labour to review medicinal cannabis laws [NZ Herald]

New Zealand Labour leader Andrew Little says his party wants to make it easier to access medicinal cannabis. The Labour caucus is now debating the issue and will come up with a formal position in the next few weeks, Mr Little told reporters at Parliament this morning. “We are aware that this is an issue and there is a willingness to look at our current policy and see whether it meets current scientific understanding,” he said. The Labour leader would not say whether the party wanted decriminalisation of marijuana use for medical purposes. But he said that the process for applying for medicinal cannabis products needed to be simpler. “It’s about accepting there is enough medical evidence around now that under proper or appropriate supervision from a GP or specialist that this isn’t a form of treatment that ought to go through a series of hoops to get a ministerial sign-off.” The party currently has no formal position on recreational or medicinal use of cannabis.

EU Drug Markets Report [EMCDDA/Europol]

The 2016 EU Drug Markets Report provides a unique insight into the operation of illicit drug markets in the EU. The report assesses the impact of the drug market on society and the factors driving it. It explores the market for cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. Understanding these hidden markets, and the actors involved, is essential to making sound policy decisions with lasting impact. The report combines the analytical power of the EMCDDA’s drug monitoring system with Europol’s operational intelligence on trends in organised crime.

DEA Plans To Decide Whether To Reschedule Marijuana By Mid-Year [Huffington Post]

The USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration plans to decide whether marijuana should reclassified under federal law in “the first half of 2016,” the agency said in a letter to senators. DEA, responding to a 2015 letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and seven other Democratic senators urging the federal government to facilitate research into marijuana’s medical benefits, doesn’t indicate whether it will reclassify marijuana as less dangerous. The U.S. has five categories, or schedules, classifying illegal drugs or chemicals that can be used to make them. Schedule I is reserved for drugs the DEA considers to have the highest potential for abuse and no “current accepted medical use.” Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I for decades, along with heroin and LSD. Rescheduling marijuana wouldn’t make it legal, but may ease restrictions on research and reduce penalties for marijuana offenses.“DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” DEA said the 25-page letter, obtained by The Huffington Post.

Snoop Dogg’s MERRY JANE Launches Video Series ‘To Dispel Lazy Stoner Stereotype’ [Forbes]

In the fall of 2015, music artist, businessman, and cannabis-enthusiast Snoop Dogg launched MERRY JANE, a web site and platform to offer “resources on culture, news, video, food and style dedicated to expressing a new cannabis mentality.”  Part business and part advocacy platform, MERRY JANE’s latest offering is “Highly Productive” a series of short videos profiling successful business people who use cannabis. The series was created to help banish the stereotype of the lazy stoner which is often linked to the negative reputation of cannabis, according to the company. The first video, released today, showcases Lagunitas CEO Tony Magee who brews American IPA style beer in Petaluma, CA. He talks about his beer production, philosophy on life and cannabis use. Six more videos are planned for the series and will be released about once a month. Each will be about five minutes long. Normalizing cannabis use and removing its negative stigma is a goal of Snoop Dogg as a business owner and personal use advocate. While most marijuana-related businesses are small local companies, mostly due to differences between state laws and the continuing illegality of the substance federally, Snoop Dogg is one of a handful of famous personalities to enter the market with their personal brand. The latest is Whoopi Goldberg who announced yesterday that she is releasing a line of pot-infused products.

Pro-marijuana activists light up joints outside the White House calling for legalisation [The Independent]

Marijuana activists have lit up spliffs in front of the White House in Washington DC in protest at federal laws on cannabis.  Dozens lit joints in unison as they called on Barack Obama to relax the legislation. While police and US Secret Service were present throughout the protest, no arrests were made although two citations were given for public consumption of alcohol. The group organising the demonstration, the DCMJ, previously the DC Cannabis Campaign, were not allowed to take a 51ft model of a cannabis joint onto Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House. President Obama was not residence at the time of the demonstration and was said to have been playing golf.

Senators held a hearing to remind you that ‘good people don’t smoke marijuana’ [Washington Post]

The timing of the largely one-sided hearing on marijuana enforcement was somewhat odd. A growing chorus of researchers, doctors and former attorneys general are calling on the federal government to relax restrictions on medical marijuana, make it easier to study the potential risks and benefits of marijuana use and provide relief to “marijuana refugees” who are moving across the country to obtain marijuana therapies that are illegal in their own states. Activists have called on Grassley to allow a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on the CARERS Act, which would do just that. That bill has been sponsored by a bipartisan group of 18 senators, including Rand Paul (R.-Ky.), Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D.-N.J.).

Medical Marijuana: How to Prevent Addiction [Newsweek]

As we work to curb inappropriate opioid use and find treatment for all of those who have become addicted, many of us who encouraged opioid prescribing 15 years ago don’t want to make the same mistake again. And yet we may be at risk of doing exactly that. Medical marijuana is growing in acceptability at an astonishing rate, and it’s now legal in 23 US states plus the District of Columbia. Moreover, it’s under serious consideration in a half-dozen more. Proponents of medical marijuana advertise its safety. It’s natural, they say. In fact, one dispensary owner told me guilelessly, “It’s perfectly safe—it’s from a flower. Not like heroin.” That dispensary owner ignored the fact that heroin is derived from poppies. And that poppies are also flowers. Besides, he told me, theoretical risks of addiction don’t justify withholding a potentially beneficial treatment. But that’s exactly what many experts were saying about opioids 15 years ago. And we should worry about marijuana addiction. The good news is that the risk of marijuana dependence is lower than it is for heroin (approximately 9 percent vs. 23 percent). (The term “dependence” is used to describe someone who uses marijuana regularly, even though it impairs their ability to function normally, and despite drug-related physical and psychological problems.) Nevertheless, even if marijuana addiction doesn’t turn out to be as devastating as opioid addiction is, it can still result in lost jobs, damaged relationships and lost opportunities.

Cannabis helps my epileptic son. If only we had known sooner [The Guardian]

Vital research on the medical benefits of marijuana has been obstructed by policies based on moral panic. Government needs to get out of the way of science. Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a research summit on the effects of cannabinoids on the brain, which I attended both as a parent and a professional; since March 2015, I have worked as the director of clinical research at Tilray, a medical cannabis company whose work helps patients like Ben every day. This meeting was the first open acknowledgement by a federal agency that there may be medical value to marijuana. Unfortunately, the “historic” meeting was a huge disappointment to those of us interested in improving the quality of life of patients suffering now. Instead of discussing how to advance our clinical understanding of the therapeutic value of cannabis in specific diseases, much of the conference focused on animal models, which are too far removed from human disease to inform clinical treatment. Much time was also given to the potential public health harm that cannabis poses. Where is the methodologically sound clinical data we need to treat people living with diseases right now? Doctors and policymakers alike have been calling for more research on cannabis for decades – why do we still not have it? The snail’s pace at which clinical research on cannabis is proceeding is not meaningful for patients in distress in the present moment. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that components found in marijuana can provide significant relief from disease-related symptoms, such as nausea caused by chemotherapy, in addition to changing the course of life-threatening diseases, such as some specific cancers like glioblastoma.

How have we come this far as a civilised society and still not legalised weed? [Telegraph UK]

I’ve been waiting for the government to legalise cannabis since I was a student. By this, I don’t mean that I’m a mid 40s caner who has been smoking solidly for 25 years. Rather, I mean that it’s the right thing to do even though I haven’t smoked dope for 15 years. That we haven’t freed the weed is a testament to stupidity, wilful ignorance of science and political subservience to tabloid sensibilities. Since then, there’s been a ton of research which demonstrates that, along with not being very bad for you, dope can be pretty good news. It’s a pain killer, helps with nausea if you have cancer, causes vastly less harm than many legal drugs (notably booze) and is, basically, pretty benign. Quite a bit of this research was commissioned by various UK governments, which then went on to ignore it. Over the years, this has resulted in some memorable fun, notably the dismissal of David Nutt, the government drugs advisor, who had the cheek to give the government good advice.

UK Cannabis Arrests Fall Almost 50% Since 2010 In Sign Of ‘Decriminalisation By Stealth’ [Huffington Post]

Figures showing arrests for cannabis possession in England and Wales have almost halved have divided police and pro-cannabis campaigners who say they reflect two very different realities.  Police and the Police Federation distanced themselves from suggestions that the figures showed the force’s stance on cannabis crime had softened, and suggested the decrease was more a reflection of staffing cuts and directives to focus on more serious offences. Cannabis campaigners, however, said the figures were further evidence that the “war on drugs” is failing and that “decriminalisation is occurring by stealth”.  Figures published by the BBC on Monday revealed that arrests for cannabis had dropped 46%; cautions had fallen by 48% and the number of people charged had fallen by 33%.

The unlikely new frontier of feminism – marijuana [The Guardian]

Newsweek claimed last August that legal marijuana could be the first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men. Female entrepreneurs such as Giadha DeCarcer argue that there are fewer barriers to women because the business is so new, and the industry networking group Women Grow already has thousands of subscribers. No grass ceiling here. Women, of course, have always got high, but there remains a gender stoner gap (almost twice as many men smoke weed), and until fairly recently, those who partook did so against a cultural backdrop of dude-bro stoner mythology.  The female stoner’s public image may be only in its infancy, but away from the media, legal marijuana is changing the lives of women in chronic pain. It is being used to ease the symptoms of conditions affecting women, such as osteoporosis and period pain, while many others claim it helps with everything from anxiety to insomnia and is even said to give some better orgasms. A safe, legal industry in which woman are well represented, and which makes a tangible difference to their quality of life: what could be more feminist than that? Certainly not an illegal black market semi-controlled by pimps and drug barons.

Cannabis to Feature on the London Mayoral Ballot [Volteface]

The veteran activist and cannabis campaigner Lee Harris will appear on the ballot for the London mayoral election on 5th May, it has been confirmed today, having secured the requisite nominations from each of London’s 33 boroughs. Harris, who is 79, is representing CISTA  – the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party – and is calling for cannabis to be legalised, regulated, and taxed. Citing other countries that have started to experiment with cannabis regulation, Harris has stated that such a policy would not only raise funds for public services, but would also help to tackle gang violence and organised crime. Harris also hopes his nomination will advance discussion of cannabis legislation in the UK, and London in particular, which he feels is being left behind by more progressive countries that have adopted evidence-based drug policies. This will come as welcome news to the 800,000 people in London who consume cannabis regularly for recreational purposes, and the 145,000 who use it for medicinal purposes.

The Case for Regulating Cannabis in Portugal [Talking Drugs]

Portugal has been a shining example of drug policy reform success, but its decriminalization model still has its drawbacks, something that exploration of a regulated market could solve. On May 7, citizens will take to the streets of Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, to demand that cannabis be legalized and regulated. The event organizers, a grassroots collective known as the “Legalization of Cannabis and its Derivatives”, state that growing levels of adulteration and the lack of quality assurances for cannabis puts users at risk, something which could be mitigated through a regulated market. They also propose the creation of privately-owned establishments where cannabis sales and consumption would be legal. Portugal is, of course, famed for its drug decriminalization model, held up as a pioneer of drug law reform since implementing these policy changes in 2001. Yet, this model only goes so far, with the production and supply of drugs still being a criminal offense, and resources still channeled into policing possession offenses.

Cannabis use in pregnancy linked to low birthweight and intensive care [Medical Xpress]

Use of cannabis during pregnancy is linked to low birthweight and the need for intensive care, reveals an analysis of the available evidence, published in the online journal BMJ Open. As cannabis becomes more socially acceptable, it’s important that prospective mums-to-be and clinicians are fully up to speed on the potential harms of using the drug during pregnancy, caution the researchers.

Researchers discover genes that influence cannabis use [Medical Xpress]

Researchers from the AMC, VU University Amsterdam and Radboud University have discovered four genes that play a role in the use of cannabis. An article about their findings, co-written by colleagues from the USA and Europe, is being published in this week’s Translational Psychiatry. The research involved almost 40,000 participants in 17 different studies, who together make up the ‘International Cannabis Consortium’. One in every four Dutch people has used cannabis at some time in his/her life. While cannabis can be a fairly harmless drug for some, it can lead to mental and physical problems or even addiction in others. Previous research on twins showed that hereditary factors play a major role (accounting for 45%) in people’s tendency to use cannabis. Until now, however, researchers did not know which genes were responsible.