EMBASSY HEADLINES Issue 207
Police Media Reports of Nimbin Raid Exaggerated [Alt Max]
It’s wise to be cautious with taking police reports to media at face value and instead look between the lines. It is standard police practice the world over to cast a large net and shake it to see what comes out. Not much consideration is given to any innocent people who get caught up, or whether genuinely guilty people’s crimes are exaggerated.
Epileptic children to get cannabis-based drug ahead of trials, NSW Premier says [ABC]
New South Wales children with the worst cases of drug-resistant epilepsy will be the first children in Australia given access to a cannabis-based treatment. The NSW Government has announced it has secured the medicine from the United Kingdom for 40 child patients. The oral drug known as Epidiolex [product of GW Pharma] has already been trialled overseas. NSW Premier Mike Baird said children in the state with the most severe cases of the condition would now have access to the drug.
Why drug-detection dogs are sniffing up the wrong tree [The Conversation]
Visible, zero-tolerance-style drug policing has a negative impact on drug-user health outcomes. Drug-detection-dog operations are no different. When drug users are shaping their drug-use behaviours in order to best avoid police dogs problems inevitably arise, including heightened risk of overdose death. At least two deaths have been directly associated with panicked ingestion after seeing drug dogs. The negative impacts of drug detection dog use far outweigh any benefits associated with the confiscation of generally small amounts of drugs from a small proportion of drug users. Police services should look at ending these operations now.
Medicinal cannabis activist to speak at Hobart rally [The Examiner]
Victorian activist Heather Gladman will address a Tasmanian medicinal cannabis rally on Saturday to call for more empathetic laws for people using the drug. Ms Gladman, a self-described “activist, medicine maker, grandmother”, garnered national attention when she went on a hunger strike on Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens after being arrested for growing medicinal marijuana. “I will continue to fight these ridiculous, embarrassing laws until every man, woman and child in Australia has access to safe, organic cannabis medicine,” Ms Gladman said. Saturday’s rally, to be held on Parliament Lawns in Hobart at noon, has been organised by Cannabis Activists Tasmania and the Medicinal Cannabis Association of Tasmania.
Australian man calls police after father burns drugs [BBC News]
An enraged Australian man called police after his father burned his prized cannabis plants in a bonfire, reports say. The father, who lives in the Northern Territory town of Humpty Doo, reportedly set the plants ablaze after repeated disputes with his son. Police said the son called them as he believed burning the plants was a worse crime than drug possession. Police said neither man would face any charges. “Things came to a head yesterday evening and the father allegedly threw all of his son’s cannabis plants onto the bonfire and completely destroyed them,” Duty Superintendent Jorgensen told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “This enraged the son, he called us and told us everything basically.”
The Pot Law That Could Be ‘Deal-Breaker for the Drug War’ [Rolling Stone]
Last week California’s pot legalization initiative, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, qualified for the ballot in November, setting the stage for a vote that will have ramifications far beyond California’s borders. There are several reasons why if the AUMA passes, it will make California the heaviest domino to fall in the nationwide effort to legalize marijuana, the most obvious being the state’s size and the sheer number of people who would have access to legal weed. One in 10 Americans lives in California, while the Los Angeles basin alone is home to more people than Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska — the four states that have so far legalized adult use marijuana — combined. California also has the sixth largest economy in the world, allowing the rest of the country to draw solid conclusions about the financial impact of legalization. The Golden State is also known as a trendsetter with the power to break down stereotypes. Having pioneered medical marijuana in 1996, California is a leading exporter of cannabis policy and culture. If California legalizes, the way it goes about doing so will set a standard going forward for other local and national governments to follow.
Hawaii update: Likely delay for debut of medical marijuana dispensaries [The Cannabist]
Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. Under a law passed in 2015, the state could grant eight licenses. State officials say they have yet to inspect the eight licensed medical marijuana businesses, making it unlikely that the Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries will open by July 15, the earliest date legislators had allowed them to begin selling their products. Department of Health officials say they are uncertain when each licensee will open up shop, The Garden Island reported. “The Department of Health is unable to predict the progress by each licensee because there are a number of requirements that are outside of our department’s control,” spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. The eight businesses were selected in April to open the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. Three of the businesses are opening on Oahu, while the Big Island and Maui will both have two of the businesses. One medical dispensary was selected to open on Kauai.
Got an illness that marijuana could help? [NJ]
People with debilitating illnesses who believe they could be helped by marijuana have a unique opportunity to ask the New Jersey state Health Department to consider adding a condition to the list that would qualify them for medical cannabis program. Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett on Tuesday announced people could go to the department’s website and download a form they could complete specifying a medical condition that ought to be covered by the program. A newly appointed medical review panel will consider the suggestions and make recommendations to Bennett, who has the final say whether any illnesses are added. The review panel will hold a public hearing that will allow people who submitted a petition an opportunity explain their requests, according to Bennett’s announcement.
Colorado Health Department offering grants for marijuana research [Denver Post]
Colorado’s Health Department has $2.4 million to put toward studies about marijuana use, and now it is looking for researchers to help spend it. The department on Thursday began accepting grant applications for its Retail Marijuana Health Monitoring Program. The department already has a historic research program to fund studies on medical marijuana. The new grants, funded by the legislature this spring, will go toward studies about the health effects of marijuana use more generally across the state post-legalization. Money for the grants comes from marijuana taxes. Among the areas the department is particularly interested in:
- The health effects, both on mother and child, of marijuana use by pregnant women.
- The factors that contribute to teens’ decisions to use marijuana.
- The mental and physical health effects of increasing THC potency.
- The differences in health outcomes between heavy and less frequent marijuana consumers.
Canada to unveil recreational marijuana rules in November [Medical Xpress]
Canada’s health minister said Thursday that the government has formed a special task force to propose ways to regulate sales of recreational marijuana ahead of legalization in 2017. The group includes a former attorney general of Canada, an expert in pain management and cannabis therapeutics, a drug policy researcher, a law professor and a handful of ex-cops, said Health Minister Jane Philpott. The panel will examine the production and testing of the drug, distribution and marketing, and “look at the experience of other jurisdictions” that have lifted bans on the recreational pot use, Philpott said. Canada is expected to become the first member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations to fully legalize cannabis use, after allowing medical use in 2001. Philpott offered several reasons for ending the ban on pot to a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on global drug problems in April. These include the view that laws criminalizing marijuana use have been overly-harsh and ineffective.
Most Ontario adults support government regulation over cannabis production and sale [EurekAlert!]
Most Ontario adults support government-controlled options for producing and selling cannabis, according to new survey results from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). While public opinion continues to swing toward liberalizing recreational cannabis use control, Ontarians favour keeping cannabis production in the hands of either government agencies or regulated private businesses, and having regulated outlets for the sale of cannabis. Published online in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the study provides new insights into public opinion as the federal government considers the details of cannabis policy reform towards legalization. “Our findings are a clear and strong signal from Ontarians that they want regulated channels when it comes to the supply of cannabis, rather than a privatized or free-market model,” says Dr. Benedikt Fischer, Senior Scientist with CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and lead investigator on the study. “Evidence also suggests that a regulated supply model is a key approach to safeguard public health.”
Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana – Discussion Paper [Government of Canada]
The Government of Canada believes that the new regime for legal access to marijuana must achieve the following objectives:
- Protect young Canadians by keeping marijuana out of the hands of children and youth.
- Keep profits out of the hands of criminals, particularly organized crime.
- Reduce the burdens on police and the justice system associated with simple possession of marijuana offences.
- Prevent Canadians from entering the criminal justice system and receiving criminal records for simple marijuana possession offences.
- Protect public health and safety by strengthening, where appropriate, laws and enforcement measures that deter and punish more serious marijuana offences, particularly selling and distributing to children and youth, selling outside of the regulatory framework, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
- Ensure Canadians are well-informed through sustained and appropriate public health campaigns, and for youth in particular, ensure that risks are understood.
- Establish and enforce a system of strict production, distribution and sales, taking a public health approach, with regulation of quality and safety (e.g., child-proof packaging, warning labels), restriction of access, and application of taxes, with programmatic support for addiction treatment, mental health support and education programs.
- Continue to provide access to quality-controlled marijuana for medical purposes consistent with federal policy and Court decisions.
- Conduct ongoing data collection, including gathering baseline data, to monitor the impact of the new framework
Uruguay Carries Out the First Harvest of Legal Recreational Cannabis [Sensi Seeds]
According to a press statement issued by the president of the National Drugs Council (JND), Juan Andrés Roballo, “we will soon have the first harvest from the two firms awarded the government contract,” and that both companies have been working since February on producing cannabis in the fields and facilities of the IRCCA. The cannabis was planted under the most stringent security measures. According to government sources, everything that has been done up to now has been monitored and audited, and this will continue to be the case, in order to ensure that the process is properly conducted, given that this is a novel experience for the country, and practically the first of its kind in the world. The available information suggests that the cannabis plants will continue to be harvested during the following week in June and once harvesting has been completed, 15 days will have to be set aside to dry and cure the cannabis, and a further seven days to prune the plants. For the next three weeks, the process of packing and packaging will be carried out. The cannabis will also be stored for its subsequent distribution. Once the entire process is completed sometime in August, the cannabis will start to be sold in pharmacies, which will receive the end product in packages of 5 and 10 grams. It appears that in total there will be 50 pharmacies participating in the legal sale of cannabis scheme, which according to Roballo’s statement at the beginning of June, is probably enough to kick-start the project. These establishments will be in charge of distributing the cannabis to consumers.
Man in race against cancer leads Japanese fight for medical use of marijuana [Japan Times]
Japanese health authorities are hesitant to legalize or approve research on medical marijuana. “We need to weigh the risks of abuse against the wishes of a few people who want to use marijuana,” an official at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s compliance and narcotics division said. “The WHO has not come up with clear evidence on the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana is subjected to the most severe control under an international treaty. We cannot easily deregulate it just because some people say it has medical benefits.” Yamamoto said he wants to spark public debate on the medical use of marijuana in Japan. “I have two sons. I could’ve kept the case just to myself, instead of going public,” he said. “But I thought that it would be a good opportunity to discuss this issue in society. “As long as there are people whose lives have been saved by medical marijuana, research on it should be allowed. What is justice without life?”
Marijuana to fight skin cancer in major human trial [SF Gate]
One of the world’s first large, controlled trials of cannabis for melanoma launches in Australia. Marijuana is being called in to fight one of the world’s deadliest, scariest killers — a type of cancer caused by your next summer vacation. Researchers at the University of Canberra have announced a $1 million research project with Israel-based Cann Pharmaceutical to see if the compounds in pot kill live cancer cells in humans as well as they do inside test tubes and mice in the labs. Starting next year, patients will get medical-grade, whole plant extracts of specific cannabis strains alongside their current standard of care for melanoma. About 55,000 Australians have the dangerous cancer of the skin, which can be caused by sun damage to skin cell DNA. Less than ten percent of patients survive skin cancer that has spread underneath the surface of the skin.
After Medical Marijuana Legalized, Medicare Prescriptions Drop For Many Drugs [NPR]
Research published Wednesday found that states that legalized medical marijuana — which is sometimes recommended for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety or depression — saw declines in the number of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat those conditions and a dip in spending by Medicare Part D, which covers the cost on prescription medications. Because the prescriptions for drugs like opioid painkillers and antidepressants — and associated Medicare spending on those drugs — fell in states where marijuana could feasibly be used as a replacement, the researchers said it appears likely legalization led to a drop in prescriptions. That point, they said, is strengthened because prescriptions didn’t drop for medicines such as blood-thinners, for which marijuana isn’t an alternative. The study, which appears in Health Affairs, examined data from Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. It is the first study to examine whether legalization of marijuana changes doctors’ clinical practice and whether it could curb public health costs.
Mixing cannabis with tobacco increases dependence risk, suggests study [Science Daily]
Many users mix cannabis with tobacco, not only to save money but also because tobacco can increase the efficiency of cannabis inhalation. But such mixing can increase the risk of dependence, suggests a new study in Frontiers in Psychiatry. “Cannabis dependence and tobacco dependence manifest in similar ways, so it is often difficult to separate these out in people who use both drugs,” says lead author Chandni Hindocha, a doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London. “Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco, but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.”
Cannabis Oil is gathering an unstoppable momentum as a world class healer [Medical News Daily]
All of the cells in our body have cannabinoid receptor sites, including cells which have gone rogue and become cancerous. The brilliant thing about cannabis oil is that its THC and CBD connect to these cannabinoid receptor sites, causing the cell to increase ceramide, which then causes apoptosis or cell death. However, normal cells are unaffected by this, so cannabis oil is a targeted killer of cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. It reminds my very much of laetrile (or amygdalin or Vitamin B17) which functions in exactly the same way with cyanide as a targeted killer of cancer. As Dennis Hill writes, “Nature has designed the perfect medicine that fits exactly with our own immune system of receptors and signaling metabolites to provide rapid and complete immune response for systemic integrity and metabolic homeostasis.”
Guidance is needed on synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and cannabis [BMJ]
Millar’s personal account of “Spice” is a useful reminder that, although drugs are used by people from all socioeconomic groups, they acutely affect those who are socially disadvantaged. We’re collectively ignorant about a range of factors related to synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) and traditional forms of cannabis. We don’t have reliable information on how widely these substances are used, their potency, or how we can effectively treat people who develop problems through their use. UK experts recently met at the University of York to share research findings. This group is concerned about the significant rise in people presenting to treatment agencies who cite cannabis as their primary drug problem. This may be due to using organic cannabis, SCRAs, or a combination of the two.