EMBASSY Headlines Issue 230
EMBASSY Headlines Issue 230

EMBASSY Headlines Issue 230

Medicinal cannabis research taken more seriously in USA than in Australia [The Courier Mail]

Australian philanthropist Barry Lambert has turned his back on Australia and taken his chequebook to the US, where he believes medicinal cannabis research is being taken more seriously. The finance sector identity also blasted as “unworkable” new federal laws passed to legalise medicinal cannabis. Mr Lambert has donated $A4 million to the Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania to support its Centre For Medical Cannabis Education And Research.

Australia’s largest medicinal cannabis grower is packing its bags and moving to the US [Business Insider Australia]

Australia’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, which is backed by finance sector identities Barry Lambert and Chris Cuffe, has decided to stop production here and move to the US where it says the legal framework is much more favourable. Ecofibre recently completed a $12 million capital raising with cash from Mr Lambert and Mr Cuffe. But it will close a business that has grown cannabis on 340 acres in the Hunter Valley in NSW – used for medical experiments on rats at the University of Sydney during the past year – and move to Kentucky in the US. Mr Lambert, a BRW rich-lister who last year gave $34 million to Sydney University for research into medicinal cannabis, says a federal law passed this year that was supposed to legalise medicinal cannabis has so many restrictions that it is practically unworkable. He says the law goes well beyond what is required to prevent diversion to recreational use and Ecofibre has made a commercial decision not to apply for a licence under the new law.

Australian Cannabis Corporation plans legal marijuana business for Holden site in northern Adelaide [The Advertiser]

The Holden plant at Elizabeth is proposed as the base for a medical cannabis industry that backers claim will be worth $800 million a year and create more than 2500 jobs. But shareholders in the Australian Cannabis Corporation have blasted the State Government for being slow to react to meeting requests and failing to make regulatory changes the industry needs. Australian Cannabis Corporation founder Ben Fitzsimons said South Australia “could become the next Colorado’’ if it moved first into the legal cannabis business.

A central place for information and thought about Medical Cannabis in Australia [Australian medical Cannabis Signpost]

In late February 2016 the media both here and across the planet reported Australia had legalised ‘Medical Marijuana’. What they were referring to was passage of the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill in the Australian Parliament, achieved in almost record time and with cross-party support, on 24th of that month. But such headlines weren’t the entire story: the Bill did not exactly ‘legalise the use’ of medical cannabis or cannabis medicines at all; some products had – technically at any rate – been available all along via a couple of Government-run ‘Special Schemes’, discussed later on in this piece.  Indeed one of them – Sativex – had been formally approved & listed by the Government’s medical regulator. What it did do was modify the existing Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967 so as to permit the lawful cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes here for the first time in over fifty years. The new law and attendant regulatory changes kicked in on 1st November 2016 to further media attention.

‘Not at all believable’: Jail time for drug suppliers [The Northern Star]

It all started with a seemingly innocent invitation for a beer at the Nimbin pub to discuss a potential earner – with an illicit twist. But it ended with seven men facing multiple year sentences for the commercial drug supply of almost 70kg of cannabis. Today in Lismore District Court two of the men were sentenced – one a “cleanskin” with no serious criminal record – to more than three years in jail for their offences.

Larnook woman charged with selling cannabis cake [Echo Net Daily]

A 67-year-old Larnook woman has been charged with selling cannabis cake on the streets of Nimbin.

Using DNA to unlock the mysteries of cannabis and reduce the risk of dodgy ‘medical’ products [Discover SCU]

Plant scientists in Australia are working to understand better the chemical make up of this complex plant and the incredible variation within the species. Many questions remain unanswered, underscoring the potential risks of black market products. The composition of these products may be unknown, or vary wildly between products or batches. They may also be laced with pesticides and heavy metals. This lack of quality control and quality assurance is a significant public health concern, especially for vulnerable patients who may not necessarily have a medical professional helping guide their treatment choices.

As Some States Implement New Marijuana Laws, Science Should Guide Public Health Policy [National Institute on Drug Abuse]

After the US election on November 8, marijuana is now or will soon be legal for adult recreational use in eight states plus the District of Columbia. These states, and those that may join them in the future, will have choices to make in how they enact and implement their policies. Careful thought should be given to creating regulatory frameworks that prioritize public health. Science needs to be the guide.

New medical marijuana research could greenlight more uses in treatment [The Guardian]

Despite its continuing hardline stance against marijuana, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has shown some signs of relenting and this summer opened the door to allowing more farms to grow cannabis for official research purposes. That’s an important step forward that may change the potential marijuana has for medical treatment. Up to this point, researchers have had to depend on just one farm at the University of Mississippi to supply cannabis for all studies.

The People Who Sell You Legal Weed Don’t Know Enough About It [Motherboard]

Led by clinical psychologists at Stanford University, the new study found that many dispensary staffers have had little to no training that would allow them to recommend types of weed to their patients in a responsible and informed manner. It is the first study to systematically look at the characteristics and practices of dispensary staff, otherwise known as ‘bud tenders.’

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Offer Insight in Patient Care [Medscape]

Many patients seek treatment at medical marijuana dispensaries because of the superb customer service and sense of control over illness they offer, not because they consider marijuana a wonder drug, said David Casarett, MD, chief of palliative care at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

NY will let patients use medical marijuana in hospitals [Syracuse.com]

The state wants to let patients use medical marijuana in hospitals. Hospitals will be allowed to create policies allowing patients to use the drug or have caregivers administer it to them under a regulation proposed by the state Health Department. The regulation is expected to go into effect in February. That proposal is part of an effort by the state to expand New York’s medical marijuana program.

Maine Marijuana Legalization Recount Update: No Significant Change; ‘Colossal’ Waste of Time & Money, Supporters Say [The Daily Chronic]

As the recount on Maine’s Question 1 enters it’s seventh day with no significant changes to the election results, supporters of the voter-approved measure are once again calling on opponents to drop the recount, calling it a waste of taxpayers’ money. So far, the recount has not uncovered any evidence of election fraud, or any indication that continuing to recount will make any meaningful difference in the election total. Maine was one of four states where voters approved measures to legalize the adult, recreational use of marijuana on election day.  Prohibitionist opponents of Qustion 1 requested the recount after unofficial results showed the question passed by only 4,073 votes(381,692 to 377,619) — a margin of less than 1 percent.

Free Victims of the Drug War [Drug Policy Alliance]

This is our last chance to keep the pressure on President Obama to grant clemencies before Donald Trump takes office. President Obama has been reviewing clemency requests on a case-by-case basis and has set more than 1,000 people free. But with only weeks left to use his clemency power, it’s time for him to take a much bolder approach with blanket commutations which would allow for the release of thousands of people serving time for drug law violations.

‘Drug War has Failed’ Governor to Pardon Thousands of People Convicted for Pot [The Free Thought Project]

Those members of government who are willing to challenge the status quo and stand against injustice are few and far between. Those members of government who not only stand against injustice but take action to reverse are all but entirely mythical. However, Vermont governor Peter Shumlin is one of those people. Peter Shumlin just announced one of the boldest moves by a politician in recent history — he is going to pardon thousands of people whose lives were ruined by the war on drugs. “Today I am announcing an effort using the Governor’s pardoning power to expedite our move to a saner drug policy and criminal justice system,” the Governor said on Thursday. “Decriminalization was a good first step in updating our outmoded drug laws. It makes no sense that minor marijuana convictions should tarnish the lives of Vermonters indefinitely.”

7 Reasons President Trump Is Unlikely to Fight Legal Marijuana [Time]

  1. Waging a war on pot would go against the will of many voters.
  2. Public opinion on marijuana is going in the opposite direction.
  3. Trump himself has said he supports medical marijuana and that states should handle the question of whether to legalize.
  4. It does not seem high on his list of priorities.
  5. Waging a war costs money.
  6. There’s a lot of money in marijuana these days and the prospect of much more in the future.
  7. The extent of federal government’s authority over these matters is unclear.

There’s Been No Bait-And-Switch On Cannabis Legalization [The Huffington Post]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently expressed frustration around the current cannabis landscape, explaining, “Until we have brought in the proposed system… the current prohibition stands,” and encouraging police to enforce the law, particularly as it pertains to the continued expansion of medical cannabis dispensaries in major cities across Canada.

Legalize it: A pot task force has just drawn up a plan for Canada’s legal marijuana system [Vice News]

Canada is set to have one of the world’s most liberal and permissive marijuana regimes, if the Trudeau government heeds the advice of his task force. In a new report, released Tuesday, the task force lists dozens of recommendations — including setting a minimum legal age of 18 to buy and consume cannabis, a tax structure linked to the THC content of the marijuana, and to legally permit the home growing of marijuana plants.

Canada’s recreational marijuana should come in plain packaging, panel says [The Guardian]

Canada’s government should regulate the production of cannabis when it is legalized for recreational use and require plain packaging for such products, an official panel has recommended, in a potential setback to growers who hoped to build brands. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government made legalizing marijuana for recreational use a part of its successful election campaign last year and will introduce legislation in the spring of 2017.

Legal cannabis rules proposed by Canadian expert panel [BBC]

Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18, and tax pot products based on potency, a government panel recommends. The more than 80 recommendations come from an expert panel tasked by Ottawa with guiding the federal government as it moves towards legalising the drug. The federal government is expected to introduce a measure to legalise pot. If the law is passed, Canada will be the largest developed country to end recreational marijuana prohibition. Uruguay is the only other country to have a fully regulated, legal market for recreational marijuana.

A Framework For The Legalization And Regulation Of Cannabis In Canada: The Final Report Of The Task Force On Cannabis Legalization And Regulation [Government of Canada]

On June 30, 2016, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health announced the creation of a nine-member Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation (“the Task Force”). Our mandate was to consult and provide advice on the design of a new legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis, consistent with the Government’s commitment to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access”.

My 11-Year Old Dog, Capone, Is A Miracle Of Medicinal Cannabis [Cannabis Law Reform UK]

In the past two years, Capone has had just one cluster of seizures.  It took place over the same period but there were far fewer fits of much less intensity, perhaps seven or eight over 48 hours.  He can walk a few hundred yards now.  He’ll never be the vigorous, fast-running dog he once was but occasionally I take him for a slow walk now for half an hour or so.  If he sees another dog he gets excited and gets up a rather ungainly and clumsy turn of pace – but it’s almost a run and he’s still Capone and I treasure every minute that we have together.  CBD oil, or as it should be more accurately termed, low-THC whole plant cannabis extract, has saved his life.

Mexican Senate passes medical marijuana bill [Reuters]

Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on Tuesday that would allow for the use of medical marijuana, in a further step toward outright legalization in a country long wracked by warring drug cartels. The bill, part of a proposal that President Enrique Pena Nieto submitted to Congress earlier this year, must also be passed by Mexico’s lower house to become law. The measure passed 98-7.

Tourists Are Stocking Up on Super Cheap Weed in North Korea [High Times]

Chinese tourists visiting neighboring North Korea are buying large quantities of bargain bags of weed, then selling it for a tidy profit upon returning home to China where cannabis is highly illegal and drug laws harshly enforced. According to reports from defectors, visitors and experts, North Korea either has no law against the sale and consumption of weed or, if it there is a law, it is largely unenforced.

Düsseldorf moves forward with plans to legalize cannabis [DW]

The Düsseldorf City Council has taken advice from experts on plans to legalize the sale of cannabis. It hopes to use scientific research to gain the approval it needs from the federal government. Düsseldorf City Council on Wednesday took the next step in its plan to legalize the regulated sale of recreational cannabis to over 18-year-olds, taking advice from experts in psychology, crime and economics during a consultation at City Hall.

Health Check: what makes it so hard to quit drugs? [The Conversation]

Most people who use alcohol and other drugs do so infrequently and never become dependent (or “addicted” as it’s sometimes called). On average about 10% of people who use alcohol or other drugs are dependent. The rate is around 6% for alcohol, around 10% for cannabis and around 15% for methamphetamine. But for those who do become dependent, reducing their use, getting off or staying off can be difficult.

Morality and non-medical drug use [the bmj]

So long as others are not harmed, there are no moral grounds for restricting use of cannabis or heroin any more than alcohol or caffeine. A life of dependency on drugs—whether alcohol, heroin, or tobacco—is not such a life, and it seems a feeble and, in my view, disagreeable way to live. But, that one does not like drugs, or the thought of people living in dependence on them, is no ground for judging their use immoral, still less for criminalising them. It is only a ground for persuading, educating, and making your own different ethical choices.

DIY Ayahuasca: Meet the Aussie dudes brewing hallucinogenic tea at home [triple j Hack]

It’s Saturday afternoon in the outer suburbs. Spring is about to pop, and in the backyard rows of native acacias are flooded in golden light. “They are all DMT [a psychedelic compound] containing plants,” Craig (not his real name) tells me. Later, he’ll mix acacia leaves with ayahuasca vines he’s bought off a grower on the East coast of Australia. He’ll brew it into a hallucinogenic tea, just like Indigenous people in Peru have been doing for centuries as part of their spiritual practice. The ayahuasca brew often gives drinkers the runs or makes them vomit, before delivering a trip of epic proportions. Craig and his friends are evangelistic in their praise: they’ve overcome depression, quit smoking pot and learnt big life lessons through drinking the tea, they say.

The easy way to scrap Sydney’s lockout: actually enforcing the existing liquor laws [The Age]

At first glance, Mike Baird’s proposed changes to the lockout laws seem a cop-out. Either the laws protect the public, in which case they should be left untouched or even extended, or they’re a draconian overreaction, in which case they should be abandoned. Slightly reducing their impact means that the biggest winners are those smug Melburnians who abandoned their CBD lockouts after a few months, and are now committed to the other extreme – a genuinely 24 hour city. And surely we can all agree that any scenario where Melbourne is demonstrably more fun than Sydney is a problem.

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