Sky Views: The cannabis ban is having its last gasp

Sky Views: The cannabis ban is having its last gasp


Peter Tosh never had any doubt about the medical value of marijuana.

On Legalize It, the founder member of The Wailers listed the therapeutic benefits, as he saw them.

“It’s good for the flu
Good for asthma
Good for tuberculosis
Even numara thrombosis.”

Tosh’s medical credentials were less convincing than his musical pedigree, and his claims are not entirely backed by evidence. (In “Numara thrombosis” he even seems to have identified a previously unknown condition to which there is no reference beyond his lyrics.)


But more than 40 years after his anthem to decriminalising cannabis was released, the UK government and clinical establishment has finally caught up.

Last week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said cannabis-based medicines would be made available on prescription in the NHS.

This was a cultural as well as a medical landmark, for all Mr Javid’s protests that the liberalisation of policy would stop there.

A Conservative home secretary could hardly say otherwise, and he may even mean it, but trends around the world suggests legalisation, or at least decriminalisation of recreational use, will eventually follow.

The wind is blowing only one way, and it has a sickly-sweet scent.


Almost every state that has authorised personal use has done so having established a legal medical regime first, and legalisation in the UK has support from previously unimaginable quarters.

Lord Hague, a former leader of Javid’s party, used his column in the large ‘C’ conservative Daily Telegraph to call for legalisation, declaring the war on this drug lost.

Industry and the City smelt it coming years ago, and are preparing to reap the benefits of an emerging legal medical market that will get much, much bigger if recreational use follows.

Britain is already the world’s largest producer of legal cannabis, with British Sugar operating the UK’s largest farm in Norfolk, producing crops for a forthcoming epilepsy treatment.

In a priceless case of conflict of interests, drugs minister Victoria Atkins has been forced to recuse herself from discussion of cannabis, the most pressing and public drugs issue of the day, because she is married to the managing director.


British pharmaceutical companies are also at the forefront of research. GW Pharmaceuticals was founded here but is now developing treatments for the US market and is listed on Wall Street.

An investment vehicle focused solely on funding medical cannabis has floated in London, and the Cannabis Europa conference earlier this month drew hundreds of potential investors to hear about potential opportunities.

The prospect of The Man moving so comprehensively into weed may prompt a shudder from those who grew up with Peter Tosh posters on their bedroom walls and a spare packet of Rizla papers in their sock draw.

But they might ask who they would rather control a market that currently leaves many adolescents scarred by super-strength strains; public companies with an obligation to comply with regulation, or a criminal black market?

As the logic and demand for legalisation becomes irresistible the choice will be made for them.

Cannabis’s journey from counter culture to over-the-counter is almost complete.



Medicinal cannabis is far from legalised yet

Tonia Antoniazzi MP & Mike Penning MP: Medicinal cannabis is far from legalised yet


The high-profile cases of Alfie Dingley, Billy Caldwell and Sophia Gibson have proven instrumental in delivering a comprehensive overhaul of Government policy. Whether the government will commit to allow medical cannabis to be prescribed routinely by GPs to patients with a wide range of conditions, remains to be seen. 

While political progress in recent months has been greatly encouraging, we have reason to hold very serious and pressing concerns based on reading the ‘small print’ of some of the advice being put forward to Ministers from the various government-commissioned expert reviews. If not addressed, these concerns could easily lead to the great political progress to date feeling more like a false dawn than the truly fundamental breakthrough that we seek on behalf of patients, many of whom are in great need.

The advice from the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) last Thursday recommended that only particular medical cannabis products should be moved out of schedule 1 to schedule 2, which will allow them to be prescribed by clinicians.  We are concerned that by ‘particular’ they mean only certain constituent parts of the whole plant extract.  And we are further concerned that they will then insist on full pharmaceutical trials for these limited products which will be lengthy and costly. 

This will effectively shut the door on the full plant extracted oils now commonly available in many countries. Indeed, some of these are the very products now used by Alfie Dingley and Sophia Gibson.

An insistence from the experts advising the Government on such a narrow solution will leave many thousands of people suffering from severe pain, MS, Crohn’s, Fibromyalgia and other conditions. 

 And accepting this ACMD advice as it is currently framed will lead to a very real risk of this becoming another case of ‘big pharma’ holding the NHS to ransom as the requirement for full clinical trials will push up costs and prices. And there are concerns from expert clinicians too that drugs such as the new epilepsy product about to be fully licenced which is wholly CBD (and doesn’t contain THC), is not as effective for some children with epilepsy as the wholeplant extract containing both CBD and THC.

The ACMD also advise that medical cannabis should only be considered for “patients with an exceptional clinical need”. We challenge this, as there is a great deal of evidence from around the world that shows efficacy for a wide range of conditions. Medical cannabis may not always be the first option for a patient, but neither should it be the last.

Legalising a small subset of “cannabis-based products” in cases of “exceptional clinical need” will not deliver what we seek, and what we think Ministers want to achieve ie legalised access to medical cannabis under prescription from a medical professional.

The Government should be more ambitious than the ACMD and follow the examples of other progressive nations, such as the Netherlands, Germany and Canada. Many people are getting in touch with their MPs to ask them about how they or a loved one can obtain a license through the new expert medical panel that was set up as an interim measure.

The truth is that getting an application through this panel is no small task. So we are calling on Sajid Javid to continue to act swiftly, but to put the ACMD advice in the context of experience and evidence from around the world. By doing so, we hope he will be bold enough to allow whole plant cannabis oils to be available under prescription in the UK so long as they are manufactured to the well regarded Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standard. This will avert a potential ‘false dawn’, reduce the chance of the issue being held hostage by ‘big pharma’ and help thousands of people access the medical cannabis that can greatly improve their quality of life.

Tonia Antoniazzi is the Labour MP for Gower & Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning is the Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead. They are co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Medicinal Cannabis.


What Will a Gram of Legal Weed Cost in Canada?

What Will a Gram of Legal Weed Cost in Canada?

With an excise tax of 10% and GST, legal weed will probably end up costing more than what you can get from your dealer.


One of the primary determinants of whether the federal government’s plan to legalize recreational weed will end up being a success story is how much a gram of legal weed will cost the Canadian consumer.

If the price of legal weed is higher than the current market price of black market weed, there’ll be very little incentive for people to go the legal route. On the flip side, if legal weed is roughly the same price as illegal weed, or lower in price, it is fair to assume that demand for legal weed will quickly outpace illegal weed.


According to an analysis from consulting firm Deloitte, the average price for illegal weed stands at $8.24 per gram across the country. That of course, differs according to province — for instance customers in Ontario pay an average of $8.33 per gram for weed, but in Quebec, the average price of a gram of weed stands at just $7.53.


Now let’s take a look at what legal weed might cost. The federal government has already proposed a scheme that would add an excise tax of $1 per gram of weed, or 10 percent of the final retail price — whichever is higher. 75 percent of that tax revenue will go to the provinces, while 25 percent will remain with the federal government.


On top of the excise tax, you’re going to have to pay the usual 13 to 15 percent in GST (depending on province) for any purchase of legal weed. So effectively, if cannabis producers end up pricing a gram of weed at present market prices, expect to pay up to 25 percent more for a gram of legal weed. Based on the average black market price of $8.24 per gram, that brings us to a legal price of $10.30 per gram.


“I think Canadians will end up paying a higher price — but that’s mainly because you’re getting something safe and regulated compared to what’s out there on the black market,” said Deepak Anand, the Vice-President of Business and Government Relations at Cannabis Compliance.


Deloitte’s research backs up Anand’s assumption on consumer habits — the report says that cannabis consumers in Canada expect, and are willing to pay more after legalization. More specifically, the price of weed would have to reach nearly $14 or more per gram for half of current consumers to stop buying legal weed.


Current cannabis consumers are in fact likely to move nearly two-thirds of their purchases to legal channels, even though they might have to pay at least 10 percent more per gram post-legalization, according to the Deloitte report.


Price will also depend on the demand and availability of different strains, and how much supply the licensed producers are available to deliver to the legal market come October 17th. The current weed supply regime in Canada has been supporting a medical marijuana market of about 250,000 patients. While there isn’t an accurate figure as to how much demand might rise post-legalization in terms of number of consumers, an analysis from Mackie Research Capital recently pegged total demand for marijuana in 2018 at approximately 795,000 kilograms — licensed producers had a capacity of just over 100,000 kilograms at the end of 2017.


“Legal weed production, as it stands right now, is an oligopoly, and prices will reflect that. There won’t be a significant variation in terms of how each producer will price a gram of weed until they get a better sense of the market,” Anand says.

There’s also an argument that legalization will end up driving down prices in the long run, due to competition.


In Colorado, data from BDS Analytics shows that prices peaked six months after cannabis became legal there, but has been falling ever since because of more players entering the market. In Washington State, prices peaked a month after legalization in mid-2014, but fell from $23 per gram to a mere $5 per gram by the end of 2017.

Cannabis Use Can No Longer Be Punished in Georgia, Court Rules

Cannabis Use Can No Longer Be Punished in Georgia, Court Rules


Georgia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that all punishments for cannabis consumption, including fines, be immediately abolished.


The court’s ruling – which took place on July 30 – was effective immediately, meaning it is now the law.


The only exception to this, according to the Court, is if the cannabis consumption is perceived to cause direct harm to a third party. The Court stated that cannabis use could still be punished if “it is conducted in [educational] institutions, in some public places, for example in public transport, [or] in the presence of juveniles”.


It remains illegal to cultivate or supply cannabis in any circumstances.


The case was filed in the Court by Zurab Japaridze, leader of the Girchi political party. Japaridze lauded the ruling for making Georgia the first former-Soviet country to permit cannabis consumption.


“This wasn’t a fight for cannabis”, he said, “This was a fight for freedom”.


Cannabis use was decriminalised in Georgia in November 2017. While this decision ended the criminalisation and imprisonment of people for cannabis use, someone caught smoking the drug could still face a fine of up to GEL 500 ($204).


Prior to this, cannabis offences were met with harsh punishments in Georgia. An amendment to the Georgian Criminal Code in 2006 led to the possession of a small quantity of cannabis being punished by up to 11 years in prison, while possessing a large quantity could be punished by between seven and 14 years. In 2015, amendments reduced these punishments to six years for a small quantity, and between five and eight years for a large quantity.

Cannabis Grower Loses License Over Weed Scraps Found By Dumpster

Cannabis Grower Loses License Over Weed Scraps Found By Dumpster


This is the second operation to be shut down since December. Alaska isn’t thunderfucking around when it comes to legal cannabis regulation.


The legal marijuana industry has certainly come a long way since its inception, but the rules and regulations surrounding the sale and distribution of the plant remain fairly stringent. The same goes for cultivation experts, who are also required to go through an extensive licensing process, and meet a bevy of strict requirements once officially certified.


Alaska, which legalized recreational marijuana back in 2014, and officially began selling it in 2016, also takes a no-nonsense approach when it comes to their commercial cannabis businesses. That notion was on full display Thursday, as a licensed cannabis grower lost their license because of a few weed scraps found near a dumpster.


Cannabis Grower Loses License


Per the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska regulators have officially stripped Smadar Warden, the sole proprietor of AlaskaSense LLC, of her cultivation license. The business also has a retail portion, Cannabaska.

The company came under fire back in late January after Keith Collins, a city code enforcer, visited the property. After he saw scraps of a cannabis plant on the floor next to a dumpster, he told Warden that this was unacceptable under state guidelines.

According to the administrative hearing report, Collins told Warden that all excess cannabis plants must be ground up and disposed of to prevent further use.


However, what happened next was the true nail in the coffin.


On February 16th, police and two state investigators stopped by the business. According to the Daily News report, the investigators attempted to search the dumpster. The dumpster was locked with a padlock, but there were, again,  scraps of cannabis surrounding it. One of the investigators, James Hoelscher, wrote a memo to the Marijuana Control Board. He claimed that the scraps were still usable, once again violating regulations.

The inspectors then asked to open the dumpster. The key an employee brought out did not work on the lock. After requesting to cut the lock, Warden refused.


About an hour later, Evan Neal, the chief operating officer of the business, called the inspectors to return. Less than two minutes after, he called for an emergency garbage pickup.

According to Collins own report, when the inspectors arrived, they found a mostly empty dumpster, sans some excess cannabis leaves and plant remnants.


The Verdict


Late Thursday, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted to revoke both Warden’s cultivation and retail licenses.

The board was concerned about the possibility of diversion. Or, in other words, legal cannabis ending up where it shouldn’t.

“Usable, smokable buds of marijuana on the ground, in front of a dumpster, behind a cultivation facility … it’s diversion, plain and simple,” Springer said.


Despite the court’s decision, Evan Neal still maintain’s the company’s innocence.

“We really didn’t have anything to hide,” Neal contended.


Fair or not, the board is clearly on the stringent side when it comes to the newly-legal industry. Back in December, they revoked the license of the Frozen Budz dispensary in Fairbanks. In that case, inspectors found mold in edibles. Hopefully, this will be the last case of incompetence in an industry where owners must be on their toes.

Magistrate who said a cannabis criminal ‘deserved a good slap’ is given a formal warning by top judges

Magistrate who said a cannabis criminal ‘deserved a good slap’ is given a formal warning by top judges


JP Jeff Collingwood warned drug user Jonathon Dyer not to appear in court again

The magistrate also said that ‘things would turn bad’ for the 23-year-old if he did

The Lord Chancellor and Mrs Justice has given Mr Collingwood a formal warning


A magistrate who said a cannabis crook ‘deserved a good slap’ has been given a formal warning by justice bosses for his remark.


Somerset-based JP Jeff Collingwood warned drug user Jonathon Dyer, 23, that ‘things would turn bad’ for him if he wound up in court again.


And he said Dyer, from Ilton in Somerset, ‘deserved a good slap on the back of the legs’ after he was caught in a car with a small amount of ‘skunk’


Somerset-based JP Jeff Collingwood has received a formal warning after telling a drug user he ‘deserved a good slap’


But Mr Collingwood, a magistrate of 24 years, has now been handed a formal warning over the comments.


Senior judges said the remarks ‘had the potential to undermine the reputation of the magistracy’ and amounted to ‘misconduct’.


The Lord Chancellor and Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb told magistrate Mr Collingwood the remark ‘had the potential to undermine the reputation of the magistracy’


The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed: ‘The Lord Chancellor and Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice have issued Jeff Collingwood JP with a warning for a remark he made to a convicted offender.


‘While accepting that Mr Collingwood did not intend the remark to be taken seriously and that he regretted it, the Lord Chancellor and Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb concluded that the remark had the potential to undermine the reputation of the magistracy and therefore amounted to misconduct.’


He told the court he was using cannabis to self-medicate for depression.


A spokesman for the UK cannabis social club said: ‘It was like hearing a school headmaster from the 1970s.’


The DM  needs a good slap IMO

Summer Got You Feeling Stressed? Cannabis May Help



Summer Got You Feeling Stressed? Cannabis May Help


A study from 2009 indicated that Cannabis was used for relaxation, stress relief and anxiety reduction, while statistics for women users were around 10% higher


A study from 2009 indicated that Cannabis was used for relaxation, stress relief and anxiety reduction, while statistics for women users were around 10% higher


Relaxation is the most widely cited reason why people consume cannabis. (According to 55 percent of respondents polled in a 2009 study)


Cannabis has been considered a stress reliever for nearly half a millennia and modern science has verified that this treatment works. Not only has research confirmed the efficacy of the medical marijuana, more and more Americans are treating stress-related conditions with the herb.


Marijuna for Relaxation


According to a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, findings suggest that cannabis is commonly used as a stress-coping strategy. Additionally, New Frontier Data, a cannabis data analysis firm, conducted a study last year and revealed:

Relaxation (55 percent) is the most widely cited reason why people consume cannabis. The next three most common reasons cited are to relieve stress (40 percent), to enhance the enjoyment of a social experience (40 percent) and to reduce anxiety (39 percent).
Women are significantly more likely than men to consume cannabis to relieve stress (+7%) and to reduce anxiety (+13)
Relaxation and stress relief are overwhelmingly the most commonly perceived benefits of cannabis use, according to the UK’s Independent Drug Monitoring Unit. And a Yahoo News and Marist College survey found that of the 35 million adults in America using marijuana, 37 percent say they turned to marijuana for relaxation.


A History Lesson

During the Age of Discovery, physicians and clergymen pioneered the modern use of cannabis as a treatment for stress. In 1621, English clergyman Robert Burton endorsed cannabis for the treatment of depression. And In 1860, the Ohio State Medical Committee on Cannabis concluded:

“As a calmative and hypnotic, in all forms of nervous inquietude and cerebral excitement, [cannabis] will be found an invaluable agent, as it produces none of those functional derangements or sequences that render many of the more customary remedies objectionable.”



Washington State University at the Forefront

As marijuana legalization spreads across the nation – and around the globe – new research demonstrates that these previous cultures were onto something. And scientists from Washington State University are among the leaders in this research.

In a first-of-a-kind study earlier this year, Washington State University scientists examined how peoples’ self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by ingesting different quantities and types of cannabis.


Their work, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, reveals that cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety. The study marks one of the first efforts by American scientists to examine how cannabis with varying amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) affect consumers’ feelings of well-being when consumed outside of a research lab.


“Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress are very rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory,” according to Carrie Cuttler, clinical assistant professor of psychology at WSU and lead author of the study. “What is unique about our study is that we looked at actual inhaled cannabis by medical marijuana patients who were using it in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to a laboratory.”


Entourage Effect: THC and CBD Work Best Together

The WSU researchers discovered that one puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was optimal for reducing symptoms of depression. Two puffs of any type of cannabis reduced symptoms of anxiety. Ten or more puffs of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress.

“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better,” Cuttler told Science Daily. “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.” (The synergistic effect of CBD and THC working together is known as the Entourage Effect).


Cannabis for Anxiety Reduction

The researchers also found that while both genders reported decreases in all three symptoms after using cannabis, women reported a significantly greater reduction in anxiety following cannabis use.

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North-east medical cannabis supporter welcomes overhaul of laws



North-east medical cannabis supporter welcomes overhaul of laws




A north-east mum fined for growing cannabis to help with the side-effects of cancer treatment today spoke of her delight at the overhaul of laws surrounding its medicinal use.


Home Secretary Sajid Javid has decided to reschedule the products, relaxing the rules about the circumstances in which they can be given to patients, after considering expert advice from a specially- commissioned review.

It follows several high-profile cases, including that of young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

It means doctors will be able to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients in the UK.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which carried out the second part of the review, last week said doctors should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis provided products meet safety standards.


Jacqui Ritchie, from Stonehaven, who used cannabis oil during chemotherapy for breast cancer spoke out after the decision at the House of Commons.

A review into the medicinal use of the drug was launched earlier this year.

Mum-of-two Jacqui, 50, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2014. She ended up in court last year after admitting growing four cannabis plants and was fined £450.

Jacqui said: “I think it is good and the right step forward for everyone.

“It could help a lot of people and I would like to see it go a bit further.


“I think people should be able to grow the plant for medicinal use. This way you would be able to make sure it was grown organically.”




Meanwhile, Rebecca and Calum Napier, who launched The Wee Hemp Company in Aberdeen after finding that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil had immense benefits in the treatment of Rebecca’s chronic Crohn’s Disease and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), also welcomed the decision.

Calum, 34, said: “This takes cannabis out of the dark ages and into the modern world and should go a long way in removing the stigma surrounding it .”







Too many people are dying. New Zealand needs to talk about decriminalising drugs



Too many people are dying. New Zealand needs to talk about decriminalising drugs


The Guardian


The nation’s drug laws are 40 years old and have done little to solve the problem, writes a Green Party MP


Man smokes a joint



he status quo approach to drug policy is broken. I refuse to accept that we’re helplessly and cluelessly bound to continue repeating past mistakes. It’s past time to end the war on drugs, and the pain and suffering associated with it, in favour of an evidence-based approach.

Politicians have it within their power to do so, and the people they represent have every right to be calling for urgent, cross-party action.

This week, New Zealand’s chief coroner released the information that in the past twelve months, up to 45 people in this country have died as a result of synthetic cannabis.

There’s a number of ways to respond to that fact, but I hope the starting point for many is a human response: a sense of loss. These are unnecessary deaths.

Synthetic cannabis deaths spike in New Zealand, igniting legalisation debate
 Read more
We do not know the details yet – there is a substantive coroner’s report on the way – but if the previous reports of deaths of the same nature are anything to go by, these people will be among the most vulnerable in our society.

There will be an important spate of commentary following this news, most of which will call on politicians to do “something”, and I think it’s time we talked frankly about what that something should be.


New Zealand’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is over 40 years old. It sets out the penalties and punishments for production, supply, and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Yet, despite the deemed intention, the approach laid out in the Act has done little to decrease the misuse of drugs. In fact, the New Zealand Law Commission’s thorough 2010 report on controlling and regulating drugs demonstrated drug use stats have remained largely unmoved.

So what is it we, as a society, want politicians to do?


There will be many who’ve experienced loss and heartache as a result of drug consumption. There will be many who are angry. Many will be asking for us to just get rid of the damn things.

But how do we get rid of something that’s plagued society, arguable since its modern conception?

Without a shadow of a doubt, I can foresee the beating of the drum for harsher penalties. But when we’ve had 40 years of penalties and punishment, how could we at all follow the logic that more of the same will produce a different result?


Despite all of our best efforts, and even in the toughest jurisdictions in the world, drugs have not gone away. They’re not going to. No amount of punishment is going to make that happen.

So how do we deal with the fact that we live in a world where drugs exist? Do we genuinely want to reduce harm, or do we want to continue to beating the problem with a blunt and broken instrument?


There has to be a point at which we say enough is enough. There are absolutely no excuses, beyond comfort or cowardice, for resorting to tired tropes and rhetoric and giving into the irrationality of the “war on drugs” when it is literally costing people’s lives.

This “war” has done the opposite of eradicate drugs. It’s pushed the problem into the shadows, where it has become more complicated, more harmful, and more difficult to deal with. Who’s going to stick their hand up and ask for help when they risk going away in handcuffs?


More than fifteen years ago Portugal decriminalised all personal possession and consumption of all illicit substances. People were no longer locked up for drugs, but referred to health and addiction services. Overdose deaths, drug-related crime, problematic drug use, and of course incarceration rates have all decreased.

The evidence is there. It’s not only strong, but has a 17-year track record. Portugal is the only country in the world so far to have abandoned the archaic punitive approach, meanwhile increasing support for abuse and addiction and has seen massive, substantive, and sustainable drug harm reduction.


It’s time for New Zealand to have the necessary, bold conversation focused on genuinely ending drug harm in our country. Let’s ground that conversation in evidence. Let’s look at what works.

Moral crusades are costing lives. Knee-jerk penalisation not only costs silly amounts of money, it multiplies the problem.

So what are we waiting for? If we want to do “something”, it’s past time we did the something that works.



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