While Australian GPs are now able to prescribe medicinal cannabis, most jurisdictions still haven’t created frameworks to distribute it to patients. States are left to decide who qualifies to use and dispense the product. “Doctors haven’t had any training,” Sydney GP Brad McKay told BuzzFeed News. “Generally, across the board, doctors really aren’t comfortable prescribing because as a general rule, we don’t know if it will hurt anybody.” The Australian Medical Association (AMA) does not provide doctors with advice relating specifically to medicinal cannabis, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “Doctors would have to understand the relevant regulations in their state, and also that they’re across the level of evidence for the benefit of using the drug versus the potential impact it may have.”
To prescribe cannabis doctors must register through both their state health body and the federal Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). A spokesperson for the TGA told BuzzFeed News only 78 doctors had applied to prescribe medicinal cannabis products since 2006. There are about 90,000 doctors in Australia. “We’ve been told that we can apply for the medication, but we haven’t really been told how to apply or how long it’s going to take,” McKay said. The TGA says approval times for applications are not long – often a matter of days – but doctors and medicinal cannabis activists dispute these claims.
‘More sick people will be jailed’: Confusion over medical cannabis [The Northern Star]
Confusion over medical marijuana will result in sick people being jailed for trying to buy treatment illegally, the Nimbin Hemp Embassy has warned. The organisation’s president, Michael Balderstone, said a workshop being held in the village today aimed to provide clear advice. “We keep getting visitors who think medical cannabis bought on the streets is legal now,” Mr Balderstone said.
Queensland doctors will be warned not to prescribe the strongest forms of medicinal cannabis to anyone under 25 years of age, in new guidelines to be sent out across the state. The Queensland Health guidelines recommend doctors do not prescribe any medicinal cannabis products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis – to children or young adults due to a belief they are more harmful than other forms of the drug. The guidelines – due to come into effect in March – also caution doctors that they will bear full responsibility for any medicinal cannabis they prescribe to patients. They also repeatedly state that medicinal cannabis products are untested and their safety and efficacy are unknown.
Hemp approval set to boost domestic industry [The Land]
A 16-year effort to have hemp approved for human consumption is reaching its final hurdle, with the food and fibre crop to come under the focus of regulators in April.
Law Review: Should stoners be allowed to drive cars? [AC Law Group]
It is a crime to drive your car with cannabis in your system whether you are high or not. That’s right, smoke a joint on a Saturday and if the pot is in your system on Monday when you drive to work, your licence might be disqualified and you could be fined thousands of dollars. The Government claims that Mobile Drug Testing conducted by the NSW Police only detects cannabis in the system 12 hours after its use but Defendants charged with driving with an illicit drug in their oral fluid are tending to disagree. In a judgement last year, Magistrate David Heilpern said he heard hundreds of cases in which drivers said they had waited days, sometimes weeks, after smoking cannabis before driving but tested positive to cannabis anyway.
Stoush brewing between patients, Health Ministry over difficulty in accessing medical marijuana [TV NZ]
The Ministry of Health is being accused of acting outside the law by restricting some drugs from coming into New Zealand, when government scientists say they should be available through a doctor.
If Trump’s attorney general appointee, Senator Jeff Sessions, is appointed, he could direct the DEA to take a more hardline stance. And if President Trump himself decides to take a more hardline stance, that would also impact how the DEA operates when it comes to federal marijuana policy. To be clear, neither Sessions nor Trump have indicated as much. The DEA head acts as the direction of the attorney general who acts at the direction of the president. That said, both President Trump and Senator Sessions have indicated intentions to keep the status quo: allowing states to legislate and police their own drug laws. In 2016, alongside Trump winning the presidency, several states enacted laws either outright legalizing recreational marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution/sales or legalised medical use. For the foreseeable future, it looks like the US government will continue to defer to individual states in terms of marijuana policy.
One of the many decisions facing President Donald Trump is whether to continue the federal government’s hands off policy on marijuana, which has allowed the legal sale of the substance in 27 states. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, has signaled that the new administration could end the practice of allowing states to legalize pot, telling a congressional hearing on his nomination: “It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws as effectively as we’re able.” CNN Opinion asked Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos, two of the network’s legal analysts, for their views on the issue.
Inauguration: Pro-Marijuana activists hand out 4,200 free joints to Anti-Donald Trump protesters [Independent]
The strong, sweet, distinctive smell was wafting its way across Dupont Circle. It had to be one of the most colourful protests taking place on Donald Trump’s inauguration day – an appeal to the incoming president to federally legalise marijuana, both for medical and recreational use. The form of the protest? Quite simple. Make use of Washington DC’s liberal laws on medical marijuana and hand out free joints to people over the age of 21.
Protesters handed out free marijuana joints in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day [Business Insider]
The DC Cannabis Coalition, a marijuana legalization advocacy group, handed out between 4,000 and 8,000 joints at a pro-marijuana protest in Dupont Circle hours before the events of Inauguration Day got underway. Lines stretched six or seven blocks outside their stand, with adults over the age of 21 waiting up to an hour for their gift. Protesters planned to light up four minutes and 20 seconds in Trump’s inaugural address, which was a nod to a popular marijuana holiday that falls on April 20.
The DEA on Tuesday tweeted a chart meant to highlight why they think cannabis should continue to be illegal – an interpretation that was turned on its head when observers noted that the chart was a perfect argument against keeping cannabis illegal.
Texas Teacher Shouldn’t Be Punished for Marijuana Use in Colorado, Judge Says [The New York Times]
A Texas high school teacher can use marijuana in Colorado, where it is legal, and should not get into trouble for it in her home state, where it is illegal, an administrative law judge ruled. The Texas judge made the recommendation in a case involving Maryam Roland, who had taught science at Parkland High School in El Paso, Tex., and who told school district officials that she had ingested an edible marijuana product during Christmas break in Colorado in 2014-15.
Colorado moves to crack down on black-market pot ads online [MedicalXpress]
Weed on Craigslist? It is widely for sale in Colorado, but legislation moving through the state Legislature aims to crack down on those who sell marijuana illegally using online ads. A bill approved unanimously by the state Senate on Monday would make it a misdemeanor to advertise pot if the person does not have a license to sell the drug. It’s already a crime to sell pot without a license in Colorado, but it’s not illegal to place an advertisement for weed. That means law enforcement has a hard time going after those who skirt the law by posting marijuana for sale by the pound online and hoping police don’t show up to see them make a black-market sale.
Fake carrots, coconuts and a narco sub are just some of the more bizarre drug smuggling attempts prevented by customs officials – and now you can add marijuana-filled watermelons to the list. United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at a cargo facility in Pharr, Texas, recently discovered 3,000lbs of alleged marijuana hidden in a commercial shipment of fresh watermelons.
Americans continue to watch Canada’s approach to legalizing marijuana with great interest. Even in New York where only medical marijuana is legal in a very restrictive program, many people turned out to hear Michael Gorenstein, Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s Cronos Group speak. High NY is a cannabis community group that invited the company to speak to an audience that peppered the CEO with questions. Cronos Group, formerly known as PharmaCann Capital Corp. just received its second Health Canada license to sell medical marijuana for its wholly owned subsidiary In The Zone Produce. The company’s flagship licensed producer is Peace Naturals Project and together the two cover 125 acres of agricultural land and are licensed to produce 2,600 kg of cannabis on an annual basis.
Josh Young smokes weed before he eats breakfast. He gets high before lunch, too, again before dinner, and usually one or two more times on top of that. Most days, on at least a few of those occasions, he’s filming it for his YouTube channel, StrainCentral, which has more than 373,000 subscribers. Millions watch him every month. Young, a 21-year-old medical cannabis patient in Washington who suffers from gastroparesis, is one of a group of popular weed-centric YouTubers – or WeedTubers, as they call themselves – riding a wave of marijuana legalization and its concurrent growth in mainstream visibility to online celebrity. They’re Cheech and Chong for the digital age.
Gangs less involved in cannabis compared with other drugs: Statscan [The Globe and Mail]
Canada’s organized crime groups and gangs are much less likely to produce and traffic marijuana than they are other illicit drugs such as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, according to a new federal study that tracked drug violations from police forces in four cities across three provinces.
The cannabis plant produces over 100 compounds with therapeutic potential. Most of these have never been properly studied because of the complications of researching any cannabis plant extract that might contain d9THC, the “stoning” element of the “herb”. D9THC and many related compounds are controlled under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act [MDAct1971]. Here they are placed in Class B [drugs of moderate harm] alongside amphetamines, which means that supply can result in up to 14 years in prison. In the same Act, they are also controlled as Schedule 1 drugs, alongside crack cocaine. Drugs are put in Schedule 1 when the Home Office, guided by the ACMD, determine that they have no medicinal value. The fact that cannabis is in Schedule 1 when it was, until 1971, a licensed medicine and is now restored to that status in 18 countries and most American states is scientifically bewildering. Even more absurd is that a synthetic form of d9THC, dronabinol, is a licensed medicine and is in Schedule 2.
The first round of France’s Socialist party primary has yielded a surprise victory for the country’s cannabis enthusiasts. It comes in the form of Benoit Hamon, described by BBC News as the “French Bernie Sanders”, who has captured public interest with a series of policy proposals, including legalising cannabis.
Georgia eases draconian law on cannabis use [The Guardian]
Until recently, anyone caught with cannabis twice in 12 months in Georgia faced up to 14 years behind bars. Today you can carry enough for more than 200 joints, after the constitutional court in effect decriminalised possession of the drug. The landmark ruling follows the case of 27-year-old Beka Tsikarishvili, who was arrested in 2013 with 65 grams of cannabis, which he said was for his own use. Facing a long sentence, he argued imprisonment was unlawful because it infringed his human dignity. Surprisingly, the judges agreed and in October scrapped the incarceration law for buying, smoking, and carrying small amounts of marijuana, calling the law itself “unconstitutional.”
Legal Loophole Allowing for Low-THC Cannabis Sale in Switzerland [Talking Drugs]
A legal form of cannabis, C-Pure, is being bought, sold, and consumed in Switzerland due to an inadvertent legislative loophole – throwing into question the wider ability and purpose of policing cannabis. C-Pure is legal under Swiss law as it contains less than one per cent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Dario Tobler, director of Bio Can AGOrganic – the company that created C-Pure – says that the product “has no intoxicating effect” because of its low THC content.
German MPs vote to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes [The Guardian]
Germany’s lower house of parliament has passed a law legalising the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. People with serious illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, or a lack of appetite or nausea, could be offered marijuana under the law. Patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and they will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis, according to the bill.
The more teenagers delay smoking marijuana until they’re older, the better it is for their brains, but there may be little ill effect if they start after age 17, says a new Université de Montréal study.
Finland is set to become the first country to eradicate smokers [Business Insider Nordic]
Finland is on it’s way to becoming the first country in the world to eradicate smoking. The previous official goal from 2010 was set for a smoke-free Finland by 2040, but the updated legislation now mentions 2030 as the new goal. Being the first country in the world to have enshrined the goal of getting rid of smoking in legislation signed in 2010, Finland has quite a history of making life tough for smokers: advertising of nicotine products has been banned since 1978, smoking at the workplace since 1995 and in bars and restaurants since 2007. Since 2012, the only nicotine products retailers are allowed to keep on public display are smoking cessation aids such as chewing gum and plasters. According to statistics gathered by THL, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the popularity of smoking cigarettes has been on a steady decline over the past 20 years – though 17% of Finns are still daily smokers as of 2015 (levels have historically been over 60%). In the meanwhile, another substance popularly smoked has been steadily gaining popularity in the country over the same 20-year period. As of 2014, 19% of Finns reported having tried cannabis at some point in their life.
The drugs that were known as legal highs have become a global phenomenon. They have exploded in popularity in the UK, and deaths from these chemical compounds, designed to mimic illegal drugs like cocaine and cannabis, have tripled here in recent years. In May 2016, the government acted by banning these drugs with the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act. The north east of England is one of the worst-hit areas for drug addiction. Panorama spent six months in Newcastle to see how the city is tackling the problem and asks whether the new law is working.
Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’ pleads not guilty in New York [The Telegraph]
Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman appeared in a U.S. court on Friday after his surprise extradition from Mexico and pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organisation during a decades-long criminal career. Guzman, 59, once one of the world’s most wanted drug lords, was accompanied by two court-appointed lawyers during the appearance in federal court in Brooklyn. Best known by the nickname El Chapo, or “Shorty” in Spanish, the diminutive Guzman was extradited on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration. It was a coincidence that some officials said was an olive branch to the incoming U.S. president, who has said he would kick Guzman’s “ass” after taking office.
Changes mulled as synthetic drug sentences cause confusion [MedicalXpress]
As drug enforcement authorities sound alarms over the effects and accessibility of synthetic drugs, the Mr. Miyagi case in Louisiana is but one example of how courts are struggling for consistency in dealing with substances that are developing faster than the laws to govern them. The result is a sentencing process that’s often bogged down by complex science and can yield uneven results in courtrooms around the country.
On a shelf somewhere within that room is the library’s smallest “collection” – a group of just 11 books, all of which are banned from public access. Ms Bruce said a few of the banned books were ones the library purchased because they were thought to be “useful publications”, but had to be withdrawn from public shelves after legal proceedings were started. One such book is Cannabis by Jonathon Green, a book on the history of cannabis use. “Some Rockhampton magistrates court banned it so it had to be withdrawn from our shelf for that reason,” Ms Bruce said.
A survivor of a Philippine police raid that killed four other drug suspects has asked the Supreme Court to stop such operations and help him obtain police records to prove his innocence in a test case against the President’s bloody crackdown.
America, Donald Trump, and the Triumph of the Lie [Reality Sandwich]
And Trump’s victory is the triumph of capitalism. For Donald Trump is the perfect capitalist: selfish, vulgar, bigoted, privileged. The worshipper of Mammon and no other gods.
Parliament House Canberra ~ Tuesday 7th February ~ 10 Am – 1pm
Bring a picnic basket and a placard and join the CannaWarrior Coalition for lunch on the green. Australians united for full legislation of cannabis
Open Education Day: Hemp Farming for Renewable Economies [Health Farms International]
When: Friday 3rd February 10 am to 4pm.
Where: Cecil St Nimbin – Follow Balloons.
Why: To educate and promote Industrial, Medical and Food products grown from HEMP and other useful plants. If it’s mined and made from Fossil Fuels it can be grown by Farmers and made from HEMP! For further information contact Wadzy Ph: 0407 895 569. E: firstname.lastname@example.org