Embassy HEADLINES Issue 291
AUSTRALIA & NZ
Meet the Canna Nannas: Grannies spruiking health benefits of cannabis for seniors [ABC]
A group of grass-loving grannies is embarking on a tour of the east coast of Australia to teach fellow seniors about the health benefits of cannabis. The idea developed during a road trip to Melbourne last July when four friends, joking about being ‘canna nannas’, contacted the US-based advocacy group Grannies for Grass. They were soon the official Grannies for Grass ambassadors for Australia, although they opted to keep the more Australian moniker Canna Nannas.
Even Australia’s Medical Marijuana Poster Boy Can’t Get the Drug [The New York Times]
Many Australians seeking marijuana for medical reasons obtain it illegally, preferring the risk of criminality to the struggle with bureaucracy. Only about 350 Australian patients have been approved to use cannabis legally. The process, activists say, is needlessly slow, expensive and complicated. Patients seeking prescriptions must obtain the approval of both federal and state health officials. To get Mr. Carter a prescription, his mother and doctor filled out multiple applications, included 196 pages of supporting evidence, and obtained the written endorsement of six doctors and specialists. The process took 19 months. Even once approved, patients may need to wait for small amounts of imported marijuana — another lengthy process often riddled with delays. Much of Mr. Carter’s supply is donated, but if the family were to pay out of pocket, it would cost 16,000 Australian dollars, or $12,500, a month to get as close to his needed dose as possible. (The right strength is not yet available in Australia.)
Greg Barns: South Australia should become the first state in Australia to legalise recreational cannabis [The Advertiser]
While the focus of the cannabis debate in South Australia has been on legalising it for medical uses, the real job and investment creation opportunity lies in building a recreational cannabis industry. The experience of the jurisdictions that have allowed for legal cannabis has been marked by employment growth, investment, tax revenues flowing to government and perhaps most importantly, declining crime rates. Instead of fighting a futile “war” against cannabis use, SA should look to be the first Australian jurisdiction to follow the US and Canadian lead.
We Spoke To Black Market Medical Cannabis Patients Who Don’t Access The Drug Legally. Here’s What They Said [BuzzFeed News]
Medicinal cannabis in Australia is legal but patients claim it is still incredibly hard to obtain. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) estimates a few hundred people have legal access to the drug, while roughly 100,000 people use the drug medicinally through illegal means. Currently, the pathway to accessing medicinal cannabis is determined in part by what state or territory you are in. Patients say it can be an incredibly stressful and time-consuming process, with doctors, specialists and the TGA all getting involved. Also, many doctors feel they do not know enough to confidently go about prescribing the drug. Compassionate suppliers, growers, and medicinal users of the plant say they continue to fear police prosecution, especially if they tell their stories to the press. Late last year, a young woman who said she juiced the plant to help her deal with her debilitating Crohn’s disease had her house raided by police only a few weeks after blogging about her situation. Police allegedly seized all of her plants, which she says were being grown by her father, who was then taken to the police station. He now faces a costly trial and the family is crowdfunding to cover costs.
World Health Organization Directly Contradicts Australian Government Propaganda Document on Medical Cannabis [greendorphin]
All extensive and expensive research papers have one thing in common: they contradict the official position of the Australian health department on cannabis. On the top of these existing reports, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a Pre-Review report on Cannabidiol (CBD), that directly contradicts the TGA claims. While the TGA report claims that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis for epilepsy in adults, the WHO report says the opposite.
Bernard Noble Finally Granted Parole After Being Sentenced to 13 Years for Possessing Two Joints [Drug Policy Alliance]
Bernard Noble, who was sentenced to 13 years for possessing two marijuana joints, was granted parole yesterday after serving more than 8 years in a Louisiana prison. His case drew national attention and outrage, at a time when states are legalizing marijuana and individuals are making big bucks with the business of marijuana.
Employers blocked from discriminating against staff using marijuana in Maine [Independent]
Workers in Maine no longer have to worry about getting in trouble at work for smoking marijuana in their off time. Employers in the state will no longer be able to discriminate against employees for using marijuana or marijuana by-products outside after new laws went into effect, and the state’s Labour Department has removed the drug from its list of substances that employers can test applicants for, according to the employment law firm Littler Mendleson PC.
Marijuana sales overtake alcohol in US city for first time [Independent]
Sales of marijuana have overtaken alcohol in a city in Colorado, three years after the state became the first in the US to legalise recreational use of the drug. Licensed vendors in the ski resort of Aspen raked in $11.3m (£8.2m) income from cannabis last year, compared to $10.5m (£7.6m) brought in by off-licences. It is believed to be the first time legal marijuana sales have eclipsed those of alcohol anywhere in the US.
The drug seen as more harmful than marijuana [indy100]
Young people are far more likely to consider alcohol more harmful than marijuana, a new study has found. Of the more than 1,900 people in Oregon asked by researchers from the Research Triangle Institute, an overwhelming 70.5 percent of those aged 18-34 believed alcohol is more harmful to a person’s health.
Dream catchers, succulents and joints: a visit to an LA cannabis shop [The Guardian]
Catering to wealthy people, today’s dispensaries aim to present the drug as part of a healthy lifestyle. Upscale dispensaries tend to aim for Apple Store minimalism rather than High Tide’s new age baroque. Either way, the idea is to nudge affluent customers, especially women, to think of weed as part of a healthy, active life, rather than an impediment to one.
How Will Cannabis Legalization Affect Alcohol Consumption? [Rand Corporation]
Unlike Colorado or Washington, California’s legalization allows local jurisdictions to license on-premises cannabis consumption. While this is nothing new to the Bay Area, an increasing number of Californians will confront the “bar versus lounge” decision. How will legalization affect alcohol consumption? Will drinking go down because people substitute cannabis for alcohol, or will drinking go up because cannabis and alcohol complement each other?
Ten students treated for ingesting marijuana in San Francisco [Independent]
A container labelled “medical cannabis” had been confiscated, the district said. It was unclear how the cannabis made its way to the students, but some students told KTVU they had eaten rainbow-coloured candies.
Can government-approved pot beat street weed? [The Conversation]
A key goal of legalizing recreational cannabis is squeezing out illegal suppliers. But how competitive will legal cannabis retailing be against established black markets? That’s a key question for federal and provincial politicians. Governments don’t like pot consumers funding organized crime. That question may also interest investors. They’ve pushed up cannabis stock prices and created demand for four cannabis exchange-traded funds. Alcohol and tobacco companies have bought stakes in cannabis growers. Suppliers of hydroponic equipment and online retailing software could benefit too. To answer the question, consider the “four Ps” that marketers work with in every industry. Those are the product characteristics, price charged, place where sold and promotion activity. From this viewpoint, legal vendors have some potential advantages. But they face major challenges under current government plans.
B.C. Bud Rules [volteface]
Other Canadian provinces have already announced how they intend to regulate the sale of non-medical cannabis, but the industry has been holding out for British Columbia – the home of B.C. Bud – with high hopes that the province would adopt a progressive model that would galvanise the sector and cement its cultural dominance of this nascent industry.
Prices slightly higher in the territories [MetaFilter]
In January, Statistics Canada (a.k.a. Statscan) began crowdsourcing cannabis pricing data from the currently-illegal-but-soonishly-to-be-legal Canadian market. Statscan has been asking Canadians: “Please help us improve our estimates by telling us what you paid for your latest purchase of cannabis” via an online survey. It now publishes that crowdsourced data on its Cannabis Stats Hub, along with other health, justice, pricing and economic data related to cannabis in Canada. For more discussion of the challenges inherent in collecting data on cannabis consumption, see: Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada, 1960 to 2015 and A cannabis economic account – The framework.
UK & EUROPE
Victoria Atkins MP, The UK Drugs Minister, Opposes Drugs Regulation While Her Husband Grows 45 Acres of Cannabis Under Government Licence [Cannabis Law Reform]
In what must be the most blatant hypocrisy ever from a government minister, Ms Atkins benefits directly from regulation of drugs. She is married to Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar which is growing 45 acres of cannabis under licence in its mammoth Norfolk greenhouse. Mr Kenward is producing high CBD cannabis for use in Epidiolex, GW Pharma’s cannabis extract epilepsy medicine. Ms Atkins has tried to brush this off calling it “…a very different substance (from the) psychoactive version of cannabis.” Of course, anyone with even the most basic knowledge of plant science will know this is nonsense. The difference between different strains of cannabis is the same as the difference between different varieties of tomatoes. Whether they’re Ailsa Craig or Alicante, they’re all tomatoes.
Cannabis: Screening [TheyWorkForYou]
The Guide to Type Approval Procedures for Mobile Preliminary Drug Testing Devices used for Transport Law Enforcement in Great Britain contains a description of the requirements to be met for consideration of type approval for screening device. This is found at the following link : www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-preliminary-drug-testing-devices.
Pernod Ricard boss: We’re eyeing legal cannabis market ‘closely’ [The Telegraph UK]
The boss of spirits giant Pernod Ricard has revealed that he and his rivals are studying the legalised cannabis market, as the drinks industry weighs the drug’s leisure potential. Alexandre Ricard, who runs the Beefeater gin and Havana rum maker, said his company was “watching it closely” when asked at a Bloomberg event whether he was monitoring the cannabis sector. Investment bank Bryan Garnier recently released research suggesting the market could grow to $140bn (£100bn) from its present $12bn in the next decade before even accounting for beverages.
Cannabis in the UK To Engage With Political Parties [volteface]
For decades, the debate about drug policy reform has been a ‘third rail issue’ in the UK. Last year, neither of the two main political parties mentioned drug reform at all in their general election manifestos. This inertia contrasts with dramatic changes taking place around the globe, notably the legalisation of cannabis for adult use in California, other US States and this coming summer in Canada.
Medical Cannabis Oil Sales Rise After Holland & Barrett becomes First High Street Stockist [Independent]
Health food chain Holland & Barrett has become the first high street store to stock medical cannabis oil in the UK. According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, the number of cannabidiol (CBD) users has doubled over the past year skyrocketing from 125,000 to 250,000. And, demand for the supplement has been met after Holland & Barrett started stocking a product by Dutch firm, Jacob Hooy, four weeks ago.
111 Danish patients given medicinal cannabis in first month of trial [The Local Denmark]
Doctors prescribed medicinal cannabis 131 times between January 1st and 29th as part of a new scheme providing for legal trials of the treatment for specified conditions.
Cash-strapped Greece sees growth in medical cannabis [whjl]
Greece’s government says it’s fast-tracking plans to legalize growth of medical cannabis, arguing that growing interest from investors could help efforts to pull the country out of years of crisis.
US Corp Cashes in as Lesotho Becomes the First African Country to Legalise Cannabis Cultivation [Talking Drugs]
Lesotho has become the first African country to permit the legal cultivation of cannabis – but the production of the drug has been restricted to two foreign-owned companies, while rural farmers and the wider population continue to be prohibited from harvesting their own.
Bill Nye Thinks Israel Is Leading The World In Medical Marijuana Research [Fast Forward]
People are getting high in the Holy Land for a good cause. In a recent episode of “Bill Nye Saves the World” in which Nye explore medical marijuana, he sends a correspondent to Israel for a segment called “How is Israel healing the world with marijuana.” The episode highlights the progress Israel has made in medical marijuana research, noting that there are significantly fewer regulatory hurdles than in the United States.
Netanyahu Blocks Exports of Medical Marijuana, Orders New Studies [Haaretz]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended reforms aimed at allowing Israeli marijuana growers to export their product, pending new reviews by the Health Ministry and the chairman of the National Economic Council.
Medical cannabis significantly safer for elderly with chronic pain than opioids [EurekAlert!]
Medical cannabis therapy can significantly reduce chronic pain in patients age 65 and older without adverse effects, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center. The new study, published in The European Journal of Internal Medicine, found cannabis therapy is safe and efficacious for elderly patients who are seeking to address cancer symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues.
Medical cannabis significantly safer for elderly with chronic pain than Opioids [Science Daily]
A new study found cannabis therapy is safe and efficacious for elderly patients who are seeking to address cancer symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues. After six months, more than 18 percent of patients surveyed had stopped using opioid analgesics or had reduced their dosage.
POLICY & POLITICS
Three reasons why scientific advice on drugs is ignored [The Conversation]
David Nutt, along with many other leading scientists, published a study a few years ago that showed how the overall harms associated with some legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, dramatically exceed the harms of some illegal drugs, such as cannabis, ecstasy and LSD – and even the harms of heroin and cocaine. Of course, these top scientists were right, but politicians continue to ignore scientific advice, and society continues to be largely in favour of current drug laws. Here are three factors that might explain this paradox:
- Capitalism and class
- Poor understanding of risk
- Confusion between effect and toxicity
The Therapeutic Potential of Magic Mushrooms [Gonzoworld]
The findings: this is incredible so please read closely: the participants said after the trip that the experience they felt above all was connection to themselves and others. They described their depression as disconnection from the world, other people, emotions, their own body and music, like they were trapped in their own minds, almost like a computer that had glitched. But they said that after that their minds felt reset and reconfigured. They were able to re-arrange their mind, and file and understand information in a new way which they previously had not been able to address fully.
Religious Use of Ayahuasca in the Netherlands Under Threat [Chacruna]
On January 31, 2018, a very important and delicate court case took place in Amsterdam. It was the appeal court case about the confiscation of, altogether, around 100 kg of daime from three members of the Santo Daime church in Amsterdam during 2016.
Supporting Andrew Katelaris [GoFundMe]
Dr Andrew Katelaris is currently incarcerated facing severe penalties for prescribing and providing Whole Plant Cannabis to children with a condition formerly known as “Intractable Epilepsy.” Because of Andrew and others research he can confidently say that before “whole plant cannabis” there was no successful treatment for the hundreds of children with this supposedly untreatable condition.
Help fathers medical cannabis legal battle for sick daughters [MyCause]
We are hoping to be an example to show the Australian government that our laws need to change. If you want medical cannabis legalised we’re asking you to please donate to help us fight this battle.
Australian Industrial Hemp Conference [Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria]
Hosted by Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria. 28 February – 2 March, Geelong Victoria.
Medicinal Cannabis: Debunking the Myths – Coffs Harbour [NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association]
Last year the NSWNMA held a forum on medicinal cannabis in Sydney. It was fully subscribed and there has been great interest in holding similar forums in regional areas. The first of these is on Friday March 9th in Coffs Harbour. This is open to NSWNMA members and also to non-members. We had a great cross section at the previous forum – which made for very lively questions and discussions. There were community members, parents, people using MC, medical staff – as well as a very broad range of nurses from many disciplines, mental health, D&A, gerontology, Practice nurses, palliative care, Nurse Practitioners and others. Future forums are scheduled for later in the year: Wollongong: 20 June and Newcastle: 19 October
Australia’s First Medicinal Cannabis Leadership Program [Cann10 Australia]
10 March 2018, Western Sydney University Sydney, Level 4/255 Elizabeth St, Sydney: The program provides a comprehensive approach to cannabis education including historical, cultural, legal/regulatory, chemical, agricultural and commercial aspects. It is delivered by an array of world-class professionals and has been designed so that participants can have personal access to their expertise. The next program is running in Sydney across two weekends in March and further information can be found here.
2018 Freedom rally for the alternative healer [Facebook]
20 April at 14:00–18:00 The River Torrens Rotunda South Australia: Far too many of our alternative healers are being persecuted and held back from doing what they do best. This year we show our support for them and their magnificent work for the community at large, and of course to show our authoritarians how displeased we are with their perpetuation of a harmful law.
Nimbin Medican Workshops on YouTube [Hemp Embassy]
Thanks to Disco Sista for documenting the many medican workshops that the Embassy has hosted in Nimbin over the past 3 years. If you’ve missed these amazing gatherings, then you can still watch the speakers online.
Click on this link to head to Disco Sista’s Nimbin Medican YouTube Channel.