Medical cannabis legal in Victoria [The Age]

Victorian patients and their families will be able to legally access medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances with the passing of historic legislation in state parliament. Children with severe epilepsy will be given first access to medicinal cannabis from early 2017, following the passing of the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 on Tuesday, a state government statement says. The Bill creates a legal framework to enable the manufacture, supply and access to safe and high quality medicinal cannabis products in the state.

Victoria becomes first Australian state to legalise medical cannabis [The Independent]

Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalise medicinal cannabis. Residents in Victoria will have access to the drug in “exceptional circumstances”, after the state’s parliament passed The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 on Tuesday. Children with severe epilepsy will be given first access to the drug from early 2017, said Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy.  Medicinal cannabis will then gradually be made accessible to palliative care and HIV patients.

Petition: Grant State Approval for Lindsay Carter’s Federally Approved Medical Cannabis Today [change.org]

Lindsay carter has been waiting over 12 months for his medical cannabis treatment to be imported. It has been approved by the Federal TGA but now Queensland Health is delaying access indefinitely by duplicating the TGA assessment process.  Please sign the petition today and join our protests to help my son Lindsay and other patients have urgent access to medical cannabis NOW!

Hundreds to march in Sydney pro pot protest [Daily Telegraph]

Hundreds of people are expected to gather at Victoria Park in Camperdown today for a “420 Picnic” in protest to legalise cannabis. More than 30 police officers and two sniffer dogs were patrolling the park in anticipation of the 1300 people who clicked “interested” on the Facebook event. The Free Cannabis NSW picnic organiser and regular cannabis user Chris Hindi said the highlight of the day would be at 4.20pm when the entire turnout is set to “light up” at “stoner time”. Mr Hindi, 28, said they want to change the perception of cannabis and educate people about why it should be legalised. “We are trying to destigmatise the leaf,” Mr Hindi said. “We are all for the law, we understand that there are rules and regulations people need to follow but if these laws are hurting people we believe they need to be looked at and changed accordingly,” he said.

Doug Rathbone backs cannabis raising [The Australian]

Former Nufarm chief and agribusiness industry veteran Doug Rathbone is backing a capital raising by a company planning to manufacture and commercialise its own medicinal cannabis products, after federal government reforms legalised growing the drug for medical and scientific use. The Melbourne-based Cann Group, which is growing cannabis plants hydroponically for oil for infusion into therapeutic products, is currently raising up to $1.5m in a private offer ahead of a planned listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in the fourth quarter of 2016. Mr Rathbone, a Cann director, said the passage of The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 2016 by the Commonwealth Parliament in late February set the scene for Cann to manufacture its own branded products — including premium-branded varieties — if it secured the necessary regulatory approvals. “The main core is to build a business that is sustainable on the seed, the plant, the oil and those technologies. We don’t even want the foliage — we are not trying to get a smoked product. I am really interested in the technology and the ability to be an innovator in an Australian start-up.”

Medicinal cannabis use ‘worth considering in SA, say doctors, Opposition [ABC]

Doctors and the Liberal Opposition in South Australia are keen for the state to take another look at legalising medicinal use of marijuana. SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said South Australia was “well behind best practice”. “South Australia has been absolutely dragging the chain on this one … the rest of the country are looking at this opportunity to relieve people, in exceptional circumstances,” he said. He urged SA Health Minister Jack Snelling to consider the issue more seriously. “Jack Snelling does not seem to want to embrace this opportunity to relieve children who are suffering horrendous symptoms,” Mr Marshall said.

US medical cannabis market to surpass $40 billion mark [International Business Insider]

The medical cannabis market, despite an ongoing battle for its legalisation in other states, is poised to exceed $40 billion (AUD$51.9 billion) worth of revenues over the next 10 years. According to a new report published by Ackrell Capital, the market, currently worth $4.4 billion (AUD$5.7 billion), will grow up to $9 billion (AUD$11.7 billion) in three years’ time before hitting the $100 billion (AUD$130 billion) mark by 2050. The market research firm, nonetheless, says that this will only be translated to reality if medical cannabis becomes legal federally. Still, the growth of the medical cannabis market in 23 other states where the industry is now legal will continue due to the increasing interest of the public. Among the reasons the emerging market will continue to appeal to US consumers is the growing list of illnesses that cannabis can cure. “Potential cannabinoid-based therapeutic applications have been identified for more than 40 medical conditions, including arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS,” the report stated.

How Parents Talk to Their Kids About Drugs in 2016 [Vice]

As America moves toward marijuana legalization and an opioid overdose epidemic shows few signs of waning, the question of how parents should talk to their kids about drugs is more urgent and complicated than ever. And with Generation X—the druggiest in history—now confronting teenage offspring, the issue of how to frame their own past use makes the discussion even trickier.

In California, Marijuana Is Smelling More Like Big Business [New York Times]

After decades of thriving in legally hazy backyards and basements, California’s most notorious crop, marijuana, is emerging from the underground into a decidedly capitalist era. Under a new state law, marijuana businesses will be allowed to turn a profit — which has been forbidden since 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis — and limits on the number of plants farmers can grow will be eliminated. The opening of the marijuana industry here to corporate dollars has caused a mad scramble, with out-of-state investors, cannabis retailers and financially struggling municipalities all racing to grab a piece of what is effectively a new industry in California: legalized, large-scale marijuana farming. And with voters widely expected to approve recreational marijuana use in November, California, already the world’s largest legal market for marijuana, gleams with the promise of profits far beyond what pot shops and growers have seen in Washington or Colorado, the first states to approve recreational use. “People are definitely salivating over the California market,” said Troy Dayton, chief executive of the ArcView Group, a research firm in the Bay Area that specializes in marijuana. “It’s huge, and Californians love cannabis so much.”

DEA mellowing out on cannabis would make medical research easier [New Scientist]

You can buy weed gummy bears in Colorado and vape cannabis in Oregon, yet US scientists are struggling to get their hands on the stuff for medical research. This could soon change: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it hopes to reach a decision on the legal status of cannabis by July. Although states have their own classifications and laws governing the possession and sale of marijuana, the federal government classes it as a Schedule 1 drug, a category typically reserved for dangerous drugs that offer no medical benefits. This creates significant hurdles for scientists interested in marijuana research. A letter signed by eight US senators last year urged the government to craft a new policy that would support expanded research on its potential medical benefits. For example, additional research could help pin down how marijuana affects conditions like depression and non-neuropathic pain, and whether it could help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

DEA considers dropping marijuana from most dangerous drugs list by July [Independent UK]

The Drug Enforcement Administration has revealed that it will consider re-classifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 controlled substances during the first half of 2016. Weed — alongside LSD, ecstasy and heroin — is currently classified as one of the most dangerous and strictly regulated drugs in the United States. Responding to a 2015 letter from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and seven fellow Democratic senators, the DEA said that they understand the “widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” The Washington Post reports. Allen St Pierre, executive director at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the decision could be a signature moment of President Barack Obama’s presidency. “It’s probably the last act having to do with cannabis in his tenure,” St Pierre told The Denver Post. He did admit, however, that lowering the drug’s schedule “doesn’t really mean a whole hoot to legalization.”

3 states plan to adopt or expand medical marijuana programs [RT]

It was significant when the first Deep South state offered a prescription pot program, despite its very strict limits. But now Louisiana is considering expanding access, as is Pennsylvania, while Ohio takes its first step on legalizing medical marijuana.  Medical marijuana is already legal in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. However, new legislation proposed in both states seeks to expand the list of health conditions that would qualify patients to receive prescription pot. Ohio, however, is taking its first steps towards legalization as state lawmakers announced a plan to provide patients with prescription pot by 2018, Cincinnati.com reported. Both the Ohio House and Senate will consider action with the medical marijuana proposal ahead of a potential ballot issue in November. State House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) told the Columbus Dispatch that it would “be a joint effort.

Howard Marks obituary [The Guardian]

Howard Marks, who has died aged 70 of cancer, was Britain’s best-known and most charming drug smuggler, and also a successful author and raconteur. He translated a lifetime of international cannabis dealing and a long stretch in an American jail into a bestselling book, Mr Nice (1996), and a career as a stand-up performer.

Mr Nice, drug trafficking – and how Britain now grows its own weed [The Conversation]

The celebrated Oxford-educated cannabis smuggler, Howard Marks – aka “Mr Nice” – is no longer with us. He devoted his early career to international cannabis trafficking (mainly into the US), which eventually brought him a 25-year prison sentence and then later success as an author and raconteur. But, at least as far as the UK is concerned, Mr Nice represents the past. Since his enforced retirement from trafficking, there have been big changes in the UK cannabis market. Before the millennium, there was a slowly expanding British market for traditional, low-potency, imported cannabis resin and herb, often originating in south-east Asia and imported through the Netherlands. All that has changed in the past 15 years. Surveys suggest that cannabis use has declined steadily since 2002 and is currently around 40% below its peak. The nature of the product has changed, too. Evidence from chemical analysis of seized samples suggests that around ten years ago there was a large increase in the market share of high-potency sinsemilla, with the average content of the main psycho-active component D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) approximately doubling from 6% to 12% between 2002 and 2008 in samples tested by the Forensic Science Service. Most striking is the change in production and supply of cannabis to the UK market. The supply side of the drug market is much more difficult to observe statistically than the demand side. Drug users in the general population can be located by random sampling and many are willing to report their drug use in properly anonymised surveys.

Study claims half of Britain backs legalisation of cannabis [Lincolnite]

According to a new survey, almost half of Britons would support legalising the sale of cannabis through licensed shops. A survey of 2,000 people by polling company ORB has suggested that 47% of people back the idea of decriminalising the Class B drug, while 39% of people opposed it. Some 14% were unsure. The survey for The Independent, released at the weekend, found that 53% of those who backed legalisation were male and 41% were female.

Drug legalisation: Poll reveals generation gap as young adults turn their back on narcotics [Independent UK]

People in their thirties and early forties have the most liberal views on drugs. Sharp differences between the generations over whether Britain should reform the drugs laws is revealed in a poll by ORB for The Independent. Although those aged 65 and over oppose relaxing the laws, 18- to 24-year-olds are less keen on reform than people in their thirties and early forties, who have the most liberal views on drugs. The findings suggest that today’s young adults may also be turning their backs on using drugs. A majority of 18-24 year-olds (54 per cent) believe that it should be completely illegal to buy or sell non-skunk cannabis. In contrast, a majority of 35-44 year-olds back change. Some 40 per cent of this group think that possession should be decriminalised and supply restricted, with a further 17 per cent believing that the drug should be legal and freely available to buy and sell. Some 41 per cent of this group say that selling or buying it should be illegal.

How Cannabis Became Uncool [Volteface]

It is safe to say that approximately nobody was surprised to see the Liberal Democrats put forward a policy to regulate cannabis in the UK. Despite its warm reception amongst drug reformers, the publication of their report, now over a fortnight ago, seems to have stirred little more than ‘so-what’ from everyone else. Of those who cared to commentate, Abi Wilkinson best summarises millennial attitudes towards this latest call from the Lib Dems: calling it a patronising, ‘cool-dad’ tactic. Indeed, cannabis legalisation may not be as high a priority for young voters as some politicians may presume. Sure, stoners en masse demand the weed be freed in Hyde Park on the 20th day of the 4th month of every year, but actual enforcement of the so-called ‘prohibition’ on cannabis is minimal (unless of course you fall victim of being the wrong class or race in any given moment). After all, the tabloids only need to photograph one shackled, shouty trustafarian per 4/20 to keep cannabis nice and evil in the eyes of the general public.

Book giant sells ‘grow your own’ cannabis guides [Daily Mail UK]

Guides on how to grow and use marijuana – and avoid a visit from police while doing so – are on sale at Britain’s biggest high street book chain, Waterstones. The books offer tips on making cannabis pipes out of household materials, and recipes for dishes and drinks laced with the illegal drug. Some even teach readers how to set up a lucrative businesses selling cannabis – a risky venture that can be punished by up to 14 years in jail. The maximum penalty for possession is five years in prison.

Regulate, Evaluate, Educate [Volteface]

The logic is simple. You legalise a substance, more people consume it, and consequently more people get addicted to it, or suffer negative health effects from using it. This seems obvious, one only has to look at the amount of people that consume alcohol or tobacco, the two substances we legally regulate, to see that they are consumed more than illegal drugs. Why, then, on health grounds, would anyone want to legalise cannabis? And how, as the recently published independent expert panel report on cannabis regulation argues, can regulation be the most effective way of reducing addiction, psychosis, and other negatives often associated with cannabis use, including involvement in crime and poor school performance? We got in touch with Professor Harry Sumnall at the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, an expert in substance use and member of the independent expert panel that drew up the report to get to the heart of these concerns. As you may have guessed, the issues are more complicated than they first appear, much more. The independent report, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats and subsequently adopted as its official party policy, to be presented in a Bill before parliament later this month, took as its starting point and ultimate aim the reduction of the health and social harms associated with cannabis. “One of the fundamental ideas behind the proposed model of regulation was from a perspective of ensuring that as many harms as possible from cannabis use could be reduced.” Sumnall explains, “But it’s obviously a work in progress as well, so what is proposed in the report might not be the ideal solution, and we quite clearly state that this should be a cautious approach, an incremental approach, whereby we try new things that are tested, evaluated and modified.”

The 5 most commonly used illegal drugs in Europe and how much they’re worth [thejournal.ie]

Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Europe and accounts for almost 40% of the entire drug market, according to a new EU drugs report. The estimated market value of cannabis is €9.3 billion annually. This is within a range of  €8.4 to €12.9 billion. It is followed by heroin – which is worth an estimated €6.8 billion (between €6 and €7.8 billion) and is responsible for a significant proportion of drug-related deaths and social costs. This is followed by cocaine (€5.7 billion), amphetamine (€1.8 billion) and MDMA/ecstasy (€0.67 billion).

French minister Le Guen reignites cannabis debate [BBC News]

A French junior minister has sparked controversy by calling for renewed debate over the decriminalisation of cannabis.  “Prohibition is not effective”, Jean-Marie Le Guen told France’s BFMTV.  Other lawmakers – including fellow Socialists – dismissed the call, and a government spokesman said there were no plans for decriminalisation. A recent WHO report found more French 15-year-olds smoked cannabis than in 41 other developed nations. The study cautioned that “cannabis is a dangerous and harmful substance, especially for children and young people who use it regularly… Cannabis use is a risk factor for mental disorders and may trigger psychosis”. Mr Le Guen, who is secretary of state for relations with parliament as well as a medical doctor by training, said he opposed cannabis use and was a public health advocate who had always “fought against consumption of cannabis among the young”. But he said that approach had failed. Young people needed to be reached out to and taught that cannabis was dangerous, he said: “It is a health-based approach that I propose, not a moral or legal one.”

France tops teen cannabis use survey [France 24]

France and Canada have the highest percentage of 15-year-old pot smokers among 42 well-off nations surveyed by the World Health Organization, the UN agency said in a report Tuesday.

Pigeon reveals smuggler inmate while attempting to meet his lover dove [Daily Sabah Turkey]

A package delivered to the wrong address by a courier pigeon has led police to catch an inmate in Turkey’s eastern Muş province, attempting to smuggle a mobile phone and cannabis into the prison.

The need for health warnings about cannabis and psychosis [The Lancet Psychiatry]

We need to be cautious when calling for health warnings as Mathew Large does on the issue of cannabis and psychosis. Large asserts that “almost nothing scientific was known about the side effects of cannabis when cannabis use became popular in the second half of the past century” and goes on to compare this absence of knowledge with contemporary teenagers’ access to distorted information via the internet about the benefits of cannabis. I would suggest that we need to be careful in the assumptions that we make about how far scientific knowledge has advanced in exploring the links between cannabis and mental health.

‘Marijuana receptor’ might hold the key to new fertility treatments for men [EurekAlert!]

In a research report appearing in the April 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show that a cannabinoid receptor, called “CB2,” helps regulate the creation of sperm. Not only does this provide more evidence that marijuana can disrupt fertility in males, but it also suggests a therapeutic strategy for treating male infertility.

Harvard University Finds Cannabis Cuts Tumor Growth in Half in Three Weeks [Healthy Lifestyles]

A Harvard University study from 2007 which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors found that in just three weeks doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more. Harvard University researchers tested THC(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects. The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells; “When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays,” states Anju Preet, PhD, who was one of the researchers for the study.

RDT NEWS
There was an appeal last week of Joanna Baker run by the ALS in Lismore, before the District Court from a decision of Magistrate Linden where he found that drug driving was an absolute liability offence. The defence had appealed arguing that the correct position was that of Magistrate Heilpern in the case of Carrol, now on appeal. The Crown was represented by Jeff McLennan SC, the Defence by Jason Watts from the Public Defenders Office. The DPP had adjourned the appeal so as to allow the Director to consider his position, as it had implications for other appeals.

On Friday, the Crown conceded that the appeal should be allowed, and that the correct position is that the offence is not an absolute liability offence in accordance with the judgement in Carrol. The Judge agreed. The appeal was allowed, and the charges were dismissed by consent. This means that the DPP and the District Court accepted that the defence of honest and reasonable mistake does apply to the offence of driving with a detectable level of proscribed drugs in NSW. Accordingly, the argument run in the Local Court by the NSW Police that the offence is absolute liability has been proved untenable, and will now have to be abandoned.The decision in Carrol remains under consideration by the DPP as it raises additional issues peculiar to that case. However, the law is now settled that those detected with proscribed drugs in their system may raise the defence of honest and reasonable mistake.