Sex and Hemp parties join forces for election [EchoNet Daily]

The Australian Sex Party and the Marijuana (HEMP) Party have reached an historic agreement to win seats at the coming federal election. The parties will share joint tickets in a number of states in an effort to win the last two Senate seats in each jurisdiction. Under the new Senate voting rules the last two seats in many states are an unknown quantity. The new coalition will appeal strongly to voters with its socially progressive and economically prudent policies. The agreement would appear to be the first of its kind between minor parties in Australian politics and is in line with the urging of political commentators like Antony Green, following the new voting laws. The parties will combine their resources and votes in Queensland, Tasmania, SA, WA, NT and the ACT. In NSW the parties will run separate tickets but will preference each other. Australian Sex Party leader and Victorian Upper House member, Fiona Patten, said the arrangement created a new and exciting progressive coalition for Australia, that would give voters a real alternative to the dry and regressive policies of the three major parties.

Slow and steady on medicinal cannabis [MJA Insight]

The importance of building a solid evidence base for the role of medicinal cannabis products must not be lost in moves to make the drug more widely available, say researchers. In a Perspective published online by the MJA today, researchers have called for “considered management” in the wake of federal reforms to enable the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes in Australia. However, the MJA authors said many questions were yet to be answered, including efficacy, safety, dose, storage, and the bioavailability of the various cannabinoids via different administration routes. Lead author Professor Jennifer Martin, chair of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Newcastle, said that there was a general perception of medicinal cannabis as a panacea for a whole range of ills.

“The overriding desire to have cannabis available has meant that this has gone much more quickly than it would for other therapies,” said Professor Martin, who is involved in the New South Wales Health-funded medicinal cannabis trials.

Flawed MJA Poll misleads on medicinal Cannabis [Change.org]

Our medicinal Cannabis advocacy organization ‘United In Compassion’ (UIC) is disappointed a Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) poll currently being conducted, fails to acknowledge significant international evidence and trial results that support the efficacy of medicinal Cannabis. UIC has just conducted a successful 2nd Medicinal Cannabis Symposium in Sydney, featuring international Doctors and scientists with specialist knowledge in the area, supported by the Premier of NSW Mike Baird and many high ranking officials. Of course we all support appropriate scientific studies and clinical trials, but this should not delay or prevent the establishment of an effective compassionate access scheme to provide Medicinal Cannabis to Australians who are suffering today. Please voice your opinion on their poll!

Medicinal cannabis users want ‘urgent independent inquiry’ [Stuff NZ]

A group of medicinal cannabis users and supporters say the Ministry of Health was biased in its review of Government guidelines for accessing cannabis products. Former Council of Trade Unions boss Helen Kelly, Nelson teenager Alex Renton’s mother, Rose, and Wairarapa teenager Grace Yeats’ mother, Tracy, are part of the group demanding an urgent independent inquiry. After the guidelines for the application process were reviewed, Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne last month announced only minor changes, based on the advice of medical experts.

Black Suspects Are Cited for Pot Nearly 4 Times as Often as Whites in L.A. [LA Weekly]

White privilege endures despite our best efforts at eradication. In 2010 California’s then-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a onetime pot smoker himself, signed legislation that reduced possession of an ounce or less of cannabis to a ticket-worthy infraction. No more handcuffs, especially for the people of color often targeted for pot-possession enforcement. But even after that law was enacted in 2011, marijuana infractions issued to African-Americans still outpaced those of whites in Los Angeles, according to a new analysis by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU.  This is happening despite evidence that pot use was “similar across racial and ethnic lines,” the DPA said in a statement today. “In Los Angeles, approximately 1 in 532 black people are cited for a marijuana possession infraction as compared to 1 in 1,351 Latinos and 1 in 1,923 white people,” the nonprofit stated. Young people also were targeted disproportionately, despite evidence that marijuana use among older people is on the rise. A majority of infractions went to suspects 29 years old or younger, the analysis found.

North Coast marijuana growers fear a takeover by ‘Big Alcohol’ [Los Angeles Times]

The marijuana growers had driven south from redwood country to the oak and grass hills to take part in an event called “The Women of Wine & Cannabis,” a chance to visit boutique wineries and learn about appellations and branding in the $200-billion retail alcohol market. But as they sipped wine on a vine-covered terrace of the Mayacama Golf Club that evening, some of them began to see an insidious subtext to the affair. The moneyed establishment was shouldering into the marijuana game, legislating the system to its favor, and the small growers who had built the industry had better accept the new model or get bulldozed by it. Ted Simpkins — a retired executive from the nation’s biggest alcohol distributor, Southern Wine & Spirits — stood up to welcome the growers and proceeded to give what they characterized as a gruff lecture about who were going to be the “winners and losers” when new medical marijuana regulations take effect in the next two years. Accompanied by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), one of the authors of the new cannabis legislation, Simpkins explained that they would not be able to sell their weed directly to retailers; they would sell to distributors. And Simpkins happened to own a distribution company that was lobbying heavily in Sacramento to craft the law the way he wanted.   Some of the women liked his pitch, heartened that such a big shot was interested in their businesses. But others suddenly saw that someone with this much money posed a new threat to their scruffy livelihoods. To them, the elderly man — gravel-voiced, sporting a prep-school blue blazer and horse bit loafers — was sending a clear message: Sign up now and hand over a cut of your sales or get pushed out of the market by the new Southern Wine & Spirits of weed. “We had the sudden feeling we were in the belly of the beast,” Sunshine Johnston, a grower in Redcrest, said of that warm evening in August.

Anger after Toronto police raid dozens of marijuana shops [BBC News]

Canadian marijuana users have decried recent raids on dozens of Toronto shops that sell the drug, calling the operation a waste of police resources. Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, but only licensed providers can sell it to people who have a doctor’s approval. Police raided 43 Toronto shops on Thursday and made 90 arrests. Raids come just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government is poised to make marijuana legal to recreational users. Protesters gathered outside police headquarters on Friday, calling the medical marijuana dispensaries essential. People held signs reading “Save Our Dispensaries” and “Bad Laws, Bad Cops”.

Can America’s Weed Industry Provide Reparations for the War on Drugs? [Vice]

This month, Oakland’s City Council unanimously approved a program giving people with former marijuana convictions a leg-up when it comes to entering Oakland’s growing legal cannabis industry—a move the City Council sees as a step towards reparations for the drug wars that, in part, led to a boom in America’s prison population since the 1970s and targeted people of color. While many states and districts actively ban people with past criminal convictions from participating as owners or employees in the country’s increasingly legal billion-dollar marijuana industry, Oakland’s new priority licenses program, called Oakland’s Equity Program, reserves half of its marijuana business licenses for the recently incarcerated and people living in neighborhood directly impacted by the drug war. For the last 18 months, Oakland’s City Council has been in conversation with Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission about what regulation and licensing should look like on the municipal level. The city’s new regulations follow California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 announcement that the state would begin regulating and licensing its medical marijuana industry—which previously operated in an unregulated legal grey-area—tracking the business from seed to sale. The legislation provides state licenses for business, but leaves the power and discretion of licensing mostly in the hands of municipalities.

Bookmakers Announce Odds For UK Cannabis Legalisation [Volteface]

You can now place a bet on cannabis becoming legal in the UK within the next ten years. Ladbrokes are offering odds of 3/1 that cannabis will become ‘legalised and regulated in the UK by 2026’. VolteFace understands that Ladbrokes have used Justin Trudeau’s manifesto as the model for what constitutes the exact criteria for ‘legalisation’.  Punters will have ten years to see these legislative changes made in the UK for their bet to come in.

Ohio lawmakers approve medical marijuana use [Independent]

Lawmakers in Ohio have approved legislation to legalize medical marijuana, just months after a convoluted bill to legalize recreational weed was defeated. However, the legislation will not allow patients to smoke or grow the marijuana. The Ohio Department of Commerce will regulate who is able to grow and test products. With a doctor’s recommendation, patients can use oil, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches as treatment beginning in 2017. “This bill is not perfect, but it’s what Ohio patients need,” Ohio Senator Kenny Yuko, a Democrat, told reporters before the bill’s approval. “Marijuana is not a gateway drug, but a gateway off drugs.” In November 2015, voters rejected a statewide initiative to legalize recreational marijuana that would have granted exclusive rights for commercial growing to a small group of wealthy investors.

World’s first cannabis gym where you can get fit and high to open in San Francisco [Independent]

Fitness enthusiasts who need a little bit more than an endorphin kick can look to a new gym in San Francisco to burn calories while they burn cannabis.  Power Plant Fitness, scheduled to open in the fall, claims to be the first marijuana-themed gym that will allow members to consume the herb using their facilities, Tech Insider reports. “It won’t be a place to get high and just screw around,” co-founder Jim McAlpine said in a blog post. “We are focused on the athletic side, not the cannabis side.”  Mr McAlpine is founder of 420 Games, a cannabis-based athletic event launched in 2014 to destigmatise the lazy stereotype often associated with marijuana users. The gym will act as an extension of the 420 Games’ mission.  According to Tech Insider, the gym’s approach to cannabis will be as a source of focus and recovery, and offer an array of edibles and concentrates.

Colorado city will use $1.5 million cannabis tax revenues to help the homeless [Independent]

One of the largest cities in Colorado is donating millions of dollars raised by taxes on marijuana sales to local non-profit organisations which help the homeless. Aurora will use a significant portion of the $4.5 million revenue from recreational cannabis to fund the Colfax Community Network, which helps low-income families to live in motels, apartments and provides food, clothing, hygiene products and nappies, as well as other local programmes. A total of $1.5 million of the revenue has been earmarked for homeless efforts in the 2017 and 2018 city budgets, in addition to the $1.5 million already approved for the 2016 budget.

Legal Cannabis Is Literally Transforming Cities — Funding Roads, Schools, Charities And More [Mint Press News]

The small town of Mountain View may be able to dispel its reputation for collecting revenue through speeding tickets, now that two pot shops reside there. “We have such a small tax base,” said Mayor Jeff Kiddie, who opposed pot stores. “Medical and retail marijuana have definitely helped the town’s bottom line. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.” Similar stories abound in the 22 counties and 62 cities that allow retail cannabis sales. In Aurora, which has collected millions in sales taxes and fees since October 2014, the City Council keeps the money in a separate fund so it can show the public exactly where cannabis revenue is spent. $1.5 million will be used to address the homeless issue, $2.8 million will go toward a recreation center, and $3.8 million will fund an Interstate 225 crossing. Northglenn uses the money for capital projects and to purchase water rights. Adams County will spend $500,000 on scholarships for low-income students. Filling potholes and fixing roads is a common theme in other towns. Denver collected $29 million last year through taxes and licensing fees; the capitol city prefers to spend this revenue on “ramped-up regulation, enforcement, public health and education efforts.”

Cannabis Tourism 101: What to Know and Where to Go [Leafly]

With cannabis reform sweeping the world, canna-friendly vacations are becoming possible in many different scenic and exciting locations. Recreational use is now legal in four different states and the District of Columbia, while at least a half dozen more states will vote on legalization this year. Latin America and the Caribbean is opening up too, with Uruguay, Mexico, Jamaica, and Colombia leading the way toward ending the Drug War completely. Across the pond, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Portugal have joined Holland in decriminalizing personal use, while Germany just legalized medical marijuana – a sign that other major European countries will be falling like dominos soon. But because cannabis laws are confusing even in the most progressive places, like Colorado (where smoking in public can still land you a $999 fine), cannabis tourism is still far from a free-for-all: there is plenty you need to know before you simply pack and go. Whether you’re looking for canna-friendly accommodations where you can toke to your heart’s delight without getting hassled, or would like advice on how to find bud, edibles, and accessories while on vacay, we hope this basic guide to cannabis travel will inform, educate, and inspire you.

Did International Law Just Say We Have To Legalize Cannabis? [Herb]

Would you be surprised to know that another study has backed the positive effects of cannabis? At this point, I doubt it. But what is surprising, is that it isn’t a study of medicine. It was a study of international law. After the scare tactics of Reefer Madness stopped working, prohibitionists resorted to science to keep us away from the dreaded plant. Then, science betrayed them. Over and over again. After that, they turned to the threat of crime. Statistics from legal states called their bluff again. Even the worries of addiction, gateway drug theory, and underage use have all been wiped away. The only bullet left in the gun of warmongers against personal liberty has been the United Nations treaty on controlled substances. I mean, we can’t just break a treaty. That would be un-American, right? See history for a laugh at that. What if the treaty had a loophole? All other government documents seem to have them, especially tax laws for the rich. Well, a study by Radboud University in the Netherlands just found it, and it is big enough to drive a parade float through. According to the findings, if a regulated legalization of recreational cannabis cultivation and trade were to protect human rights more effectively than a total ban on the drug, then by international law, human rights trump the U.N. Drug Conventions.

California lawmakers green-light medical cannabis research [SF Gate]

California researchers are going to have access to the highest-grade medical cannabis for research — far surpassing the federal government’s awful supplies — under new rules approved in the California legislature Wednesday. The California State Assembly green-lit more medical pot research in AB 1575 — an omnibus bill which further trims and shapes California’s historic new medical cannabis regulations. The bill now heads to the Senate. Most notably, California researchers can study up to eight ounces of cannabis, if the business or research institution provides a licensed pot shop written authorization and other paperwork that must be kept on file for at least three years. AB 1575 specifies that it is “not a violation of state law or local ordinance or regulation for a business or research institution with state authorization to engage in the research of medical cannabis used for the medical purposes,” according to a legislative analysis. California has the most advanced medical cannabis economy in the world, with tens of thousands of farms, labs, kitchens, and retailers doing roughly $2 billion per year, researchers estimate. The state’s types of cannabis and formulations far surpass the federal government’s lone pot research farm in Mississippi.

‘Cannavaping’ could see e-cigarettes used to deliver medicinal cannabis [The Guardian]

Electronic cigarettes can be a safe and effective way to deliver cannabis for medicinal purposes, according to researchers in Switzerland. Scientists at the University of Lausanne created cannabis-laden oils for e-cigarettes and found that vaping the infusions could deliver useful levels of the active ingredients found in cannabis. The team claims that “therapeutic cannavaping”, would be healthier than smoking the drug with tobacco, and would allow users to have regular microdoses of the drug’s active ingredients throughout the day, which is not possible with pills containing cannabis extracts. Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe how e-cigarettes can deliver therapeutic doses of cannabinoids without getting people stoned. “Cannavaping appears to be a gentle, efficient, user-friendly and safe alternative method for cannabis smoking for medical cannabis delivery,” they say.

The Rise Of The Cannabis Connoisseur [Volteface]

“I think for most cannabis consumers, the fact that they walked into a store, showed their ID and bought real legal marijuana for the first time in history was a huge deal,” said Matthew Huron, CEO of Colorado dispensary Good Chemistry. “That was two years ago, and it was like, ‘Wow, this is great.’ And since then, [consumers] are getting hungry.” No longer is legal weed such a novelty for consumers. But for many visiting the state, it can still seem a little surreal to walk into Good Chemistry’s chic dispensary located mere steps from the state capitol. As people get used to buying legal weed, the mere ability to do so has become insufficient. “[Consumers] are thirsty for more education,” said Huron. Which is why his company decided to launch S.T.A.T.S., a guidebook for evaluating cannabis “not unlike the multi-step process for evaluating wine.” Now, aspiring cannabis connoisseurs can get their hands on the free guide to learn the basics of choosing flower. “There are a lot of people who are coming out as connoisseurs or labelling themselves as connoisseurs, who really understand the science behind the plant,” said Jennifer DeFalco, co-founder of the cannabis-focused ad agency Cannabrand. “The beer industry and the wine industry have connoisseurs, so it’s kind of similar in that regard.”

Changes in Europe’s cannabis resin market [European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction]

The European market for hashish is currently one of the world’s largest and most profitable. About 647 tonnes of cannabis herb and 641 tonnes of hashish were consumed in the Euroean Union in 2013 and the retail market has an overall value estimated conservatively to be about EUR 9.3 billion in 2013. This analysis describes how the supply of cannabis resin in Europe is changing in response to competition and other market developments.

Cannabis regulation and the UN Drug treaties (PDF) [Swansea University UK]

As jurisdictions enact reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively “medical and scientific,” tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. How might governments and the UN system address these growing tensions in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and help to modernize the drug treaty regime itself, and thereby reinforce the UN pillars of human rights, development, peace and security, and the rule of law?

Study says long-term pot use causes poor gum health – but not much else [The Guardian]

Long-term cannabis use is associated with few physical health problems in early midlife, according to new research published on Wednesday. Researchers found that that the long-term recreational cannabis users studied suffered poor gum health but found no other physical health problems across a dozen measures. The study, published on Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry, followed more than 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38, tracking study participants’ self-reported cannabis use from age 18. “One thing that surprised me is that we didn’t see associations between cannabis use and poorer lung function,” said Madeline Meier, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and one of the paper’s authors. Meier added that this finding is consistent with similar studies looking at the relationship between marijuana use and cardiovascular health. But she said unlike past studies, this one did not rely on participants to report their own wellbeing, and instead included two physical health exams.

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