The laws that could be changing in 2019- Sex and drugs and electoral rolls

Drug laws are never far from the global headlines, particularly with more than 30 US states now relaxing their laws on the use of marijuana⁵. This change in attitude has led to some debate on whether the UK needs to amend its existing drug laws, too.

Currently in the UK, cannabis is categorised as Class B, meaning that users can face up to five years in prison and 14 years if they are supplying or producing cannabis – with both offences holding an unlimited fine⁶.

There have already been recent changes to UK drug laws on cannabis, after parents led successful campaigns to allow children with debilitating illnesses to be prescribed cannabis-based medicine on the NHS.

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Overall, the nation’s attitude is changing towards the medical use of illegal drugs, especially cannabis, following the recent changes in law thanks to the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley⁷.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has already concluded that cannabis should be declassified. As the public chatter around the use and misuse of illegal drugs continues, this topic will not be leaving the spotlight any time soon.

What’s more, with a number of MPs supporting potential changes such as adjusting the criminalisation, legalising or making drugs available for medicinal use – a change appears to be on the horizon.


Ketwig cannabis culture is destroying our children says drug dealer

“Paul said he recently carried out a survey amongst a group of around 100 teenagers in Liverpool, and was shocked by the results.

He said: “I spend a lot of time working with kids who hang around in parks at night.

“We asked a group of them if there was something that could be provided for them in the parks, and they asked for a safe zone where they could smoke weed.

” I think that response summed up the problem in Liverpool right now in that it’s all about smoking weed.”

Paul said that he is concerned that young people smoking cannabis were having problems in school.

He said: “In my experience around 90% of the young people who are excluded from school have issues with cannabis.

“I know that the kids smoking weed sign up for certain culture. They wear certain clothes, have the Ketwig big hair look and become very lazy.

“And they live their lives through social media on their mobiles. These kids are on a certain path.”

Ok blame cannabis as usual :wallbash:

Cannabis strength doubles across Europe in 11 years

A study tracking increased potency of both herbal and resin types of the drug points to greater dangers for users


Cannabis potency has doubled across Europe in the past decade, according to the first study to track changes in the drug across the continent.


The study, published on Sunday in the journal Addiction and conducted by researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London, finds that both cannabis resin and herbal cannabis have increased in strength and price with potentially harmful consequences for users.


In herbal cannabis, concentrations of THC – the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis which has been linked to psychosis – increased from 5% in 2006 to 10% in 2016.

For cannabis resin, THC concentrations remained relatively stable between 2006 and 2011 before increasing rapidly from 10% to 17% between 2011 and 2016.


The price of herbal cannabis increased from €7.36 per gram to €12.22 between 2006 and 2016 while the price of cannabis resin increased from €8.21 per gram to €12.27 per gram over the same period.


In the UK alone, THC levels in herbal cannabis remained roughly similar between 2006 and 2016, however police seizures suggest they have risen sharply in cannabis resin.


“These findings show that cannabis resin has changed rapidly across Europe, resulting in a more potent and better value product,” said Dr Tom Freeman from the Addiction and Mental Health Group within the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath who led the study, which was funded by the Society for the Study of Addiction.


Increases in the potency of cannabis resin are chiefly down to new production techniques in Morocco and Europe. But while THC levels have increased, amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) found in cannabis resin thought to offset some of the harmful effects of THC – have remained stable or declined.


“CBD has the potential to make cannabis safer, without limiting the positive effects users seek,” Freeman said. “What we are seeing in Europe is an increase in THC and either stable or decreasing levels of CBD, potentially making cannabis more harmful.”

2018: A year of weed in review

2018 was an interesting year for cannabis law reform, especially in the USA where it is gradually the land of red white and green. Things got off to a good start on the 1st January 2018, when California legalised the sale of recreational marijuana to adults.


The GDP of California is the 5th highest in it the world overtaking the UK after the Brexit vote and is more than 2.5 times the GDP of all previous legal recreational put together, making it a game changer.


Later in the year, became the tenth state to legalise marijuana after voters passed Proposition 1, making it the first Midwestern state to legalize the drug.


Oklahoma, Missouri and Utah also passed initiatives to legalise medical cannabis, joining the many other states that already have medical cannabis laws on the books.

Ten states plus the capital, Washington D.C., have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

In the UK, despite some high-profile cases in the news of children who needed a cannabis-based medicine to treat life-threatening seizures, we have not been so lucky


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Med Cannabis legal in Thailand

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand approved marijuana for medical use and research on Tuesday, the first legalization of the drug in a region with some of the world’s strictest drug laws. 

The junta-appointed parliament in Thailand, a country which until the 1930s had a tradition of using marijuana to relieve pain and fatigue, voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 in an extra parliamentary session handling a rush of bills before the New Year’s holidays. 

“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.  While countries from Colombia to Canada have legalized marijuana for medical or even recreational use, the drug remains illegal and taboo across much of Southeast Asia, which has some of the world’s harshest punishments for drug law violations. 

Marijuana traffickers can be subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

But in Thailand, the main controversy with legalization involved patent requests by foreign firms that could allow them to dominate the market, making it harder for Thai patients to access medicines and for Thai researchers to access marijuana extracts. 

“We’re going to demand that the government revoke all these requests before the law takes effect,” said Panthep Puapongpan, Dean of the Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging. 

Some Thai advocates hope that Tuesday’s approval will pave the way for legalization for recreational use. 

“This is the first baby step forward,” said Chokwan Chopaka, an activist with Highland Network, a cannabis legalization advocacy group in Thailand.


Reuters :oldtoker: Bom Shiva

Trump officially legalizes industrial hemp


President Trump legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp Thursday when he signed a widespread, bipartisan farm bill aimed at boosting the agriculture industry. 

The fiber of hemp, a non-intoxicating derivative of the cannabis plant, is used to make a variety of products, such as cardboard, carpets, clothes, paper and more. 

Hemp production and sales have historically been illegal under the same federal prohibition against marijuana. The farm bill only deals with industrial hemp and does not address recreational or medical marijuana.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) worked with Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to introduce a bill to legalize hemp, which was ultimately included in the farm bill. 

“I used my very own hemp pen to sign the conference report, clearing the way for the House and Senate to pass legislation and send it to the president’s desk. I’m proud that the bill includes my provision to legalize the production of industrial hemp. It’s a victory for farmers and consumers throughout our country,” McConnell said when the Senate advanced the farm bill earlier this month. 

The farm bill helps removes obstacles farmers face in growing hemp, including restricted access to banking, water rights and crop insurance. Hemp is easier to grow than cotton, corn or soybeans as it requires little water and can be viable in lower-quality soil that is not practical for other crops. 

The hemp provision is just one of several aspects of the farm bill meant to aid farmers as exports of agricultural products such as soybeans take a hit as Trump engages in a bitter trade war with China and other countries


About time!

Huge cannabis factory discovered in industrial site



Huge cannabis factory discovered in industrial site

The cannabis plants discovered in an industrial building on Faraday Place in Thetford. Picture: Breckland Police



A huge cannabis factory with more than 400 plants has been discovered by police in a Norfolk town.


Norfolk Police have cordoned off an industrial building in Faraday Place in Thetford and are in the process of gathering evidence and dismantling the farm.

A spokesman for the police said that at least 300 to 400 plants had been found in one room, with three or four more rooms in the process of being fully assessed.

They added that Crime Scene Investigation are on the scene with a cordon likely to stay in place until tomorrow.

She said: “Officers are looking to make the building safe at the moment and make the power to the building safe.


Police are on scene at the discovery of a large cannabis factory in Thetford. Picture: Breckland Police


“A cordon has been set up around the building and enquiries are ongoing with the cordon to be up for at least tomorrow.”

Breckland Police on Twitter said: “Thetford officers are currently at the location of a large cannabis grow on a industrial site.

“Evidence gathering and dismantling is well underway. If you know anything about it please call in on 101.”



Cannabis gran sprinkles drug on cheese and toast and calls for it to be legallised



Cannabis gran sprinkles drug on cheese and toast and calls for it to be legallised


Sue Cox says she prefers smoking cannabis and it is the only thing that eases her painful Multiple Sclerosis symptoms





A grandmother who sprinkles cannabis over her cheese on toast to help cope with excruciating symptoms has called for it to be legalised.

Sue Cox has been battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 2014 but says the only thing that has ever helped ease her discomfort is the illegal drug.

The 65-year-old says everything else she has been prescribed with – from nerve blocking medications to morphine – did nothing to curb her symptoms.

“To be quote honest, the side effects were too bad and for me they don’t work,” she told Wales Online.

“But I smoked cannabis as a 17 or 18-year-old and basically I knew how it made me feel then.


“It relaxes you. That’s it in a nutshell. Your muscles feel totally tight all the time and then you will have a spasm which is quite painful and you want to try and avoid that.

“And I find that the cannabis can help with the tension in the muscles.”

Sue, who prefers to smoke her cannabis but occasionally enjoys it “sprinkled on a bit of cheese on toast”, has joined an ever-growing chorus of patients, campaigners, and politicians in Wales who are calling for the therapeutic use of the drug to be legalised.

She said she finds it frustrating that she isn’t able to take the medication of her choice legally and has to resort to acquiring it criminally if she is to have it at all.

Jeff Ditchfield embarked on his journey to medical cannabis advocacy when a friend of his found herself in a similar situation more than 15 years ago.

“Back in 2000 a close friend of mine who was suffering with MS was robbed at knifepoint attempting to buy some cannabis to treat her condition,” Jeff said.

“The incident had a very profound effect on her and I was appalled that she had to experience something like this attempting to obtain, as she calls it, her special medicine.”

Jeff, who lived in Rhyl at the time and had taken an early retirement, studied cannabis cultivation and began producing his own cannabis to supply to his friend.


The word soon spread and Jeff found himself supplying cannabis for many others suffering from severe, painful illnesses.

Jeff said: “Probably within a year of helping my friend I was helping about 20 friends of hers and that’s how Bud Buddies really came about.”

Jeff established Bud Buddies, a non-profit organisation that in its early days supplied cannabis openly from possibly Wales’ first private members’ cannabis club, Beggars Belief in Rhyl.

He opened the doors of the shop in 2003 and said he received a great deal of local support as well as media and political interest in his endeavour.

The shop operated from the site for the next four years, with Jeff repeatedly facing legal action, but he said he was happy helping vulnerable people access their choice of medicine without having to come into contact with criminal gangs.


Eventually Jeff was found guilty of several drugs charges and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

Since then Bud Buddies has shifted its focus and now concentrates on helping people establish a self-sufficient cannabis supply. Around 40 volunteers across the UK provide advice for people to grow cannabis and produce oils for use medicinally.

Jeff said Bud Buddies had also adjusted the cases they prioritise, now mainly assisting the parents of seriously ill children with cancer produce cannabis products for medicinal use.

“Personally I think the whole drug policy in the UK is crap,” Jeff said. “I can’t find a better word for it.

“I think issues with drugs should be a health issue and not a matter for enforcement by the police.

“All prohibition does is create a black market, endanger people who consume drugs, and of course fund criminality.”

Jeff and Sue are not alone.





In recent years politicians who have long been advocates of drug reform have been growing ever-more vocal in their objection to the status quo.

In October Labour MP for Newport West Paul Flynn’s 10-Minute Rule Bill called for the legalisation of the “production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes”.

He said: “Until 1973 tincture of cannabis had been medically available for over 100 years in the UK. In its natural form it has been used for 5,000 years as a medicine in all continents.

“In the sixties our country was swept along with the international hysteria provoked by President Nixon’s doomed missionary zeal to eliminate all illegal drugs use.

“My bill is a simple one to move cannabis from a schedule that defines the drug as of no medicinal benefit to a second schedule that would permit its use for therapeutic reasons.”

Mr Flynn’s bill – which is unlikely to become law unless it receives support from the UK Government – received its first reading in October.


It is due to go before MPs again in February.

“The arguments are now irresistible,” he said. “Recent parliamentary debates have been dominated by those who believe that prohibition has failed.

“I hope my party will be the first major one to adopt policies that escape from the evidence-free, prejudiced errors of the past 50 years. The example of world public opinion will rapidly sweep aside the grievous errors and waste of prohibition.”

In 2014 Wales became the first country in the UK to approve the prescription of cannabis-based Sativex on the NHS.

It is given to those suffering from MS spasticity but is reportedly difficult to meet the requirements for the prescription.

Long-time advocate Leanne Wood AM, along with Mark Isherwood, Mike Hedges and Rhun Ap Iorwerth, have tabled a motion calling for the Welsh Government to ask the UK Government to reschedule cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The motion is scheduled to be debated in the Senedd on January 17.






Tobacco giant Altria’s investments in vaping, cannabis may give it what cigarettes can’t



Tobacco giant Altria’s investments in vaping, cannabis may give it what cigarettes can’t


Tobacco giant Altria's investments in vaping, cannabis may give it what cigarettes can't


t’s getting harder to be a cigarette company. Altria knows that.

Altria shelled out $14.6 billion to take large stakes in companies outside its traditional hold in cigarettes over the past two weeks — a 45 percent share of cannabis company Cronos and 35 percent stake in e-cigarette maker Juul . The latter, which valued Juul at $38 billion, prohibits Altria from taking a controlling interest for at least six years.

Juul made it clear from the beginning that a full sale was never on the table, a person familiar tells CNBC. The two deals — and terms that Altria was willing to accept — highlight the corner the company is in.

Altria’s core business, selling cigarettes, is shrinking faster than expected. Smokers are dying, quitting or switching to e-cigarettes — and not the ones Altria makes. The company shuttered its MarkTen and GreenSmoke brands earlier this month, citing financial performance and tightening regulations.

Juul and Altria courted each other for 14 months, people familiar with the negotiations said. In that time, Altria watched Juul’s sales grow to about $1.5 billion annually.

“We’ve been modeling [Juul’s] financials for quite some time, and modeling their expected growth path,” Altria CEO Howard Willard said Thursday on a call with investors and media. “And I have to tell you what continually happened was they exceeded our optimistic growth projections.”

Both deals have the potential to transform Altria’s business, or at least give it the kind of growth it’s unlikely to see in its existing cigarette business.

“These investments complement our very strong core tobacco businesses and provide exciting opportunities for future growth,” Willard said.

Trouble in the U.S.

Selling cigarettes has been a shrinking business for decades, but Altria has been able to manage.

Since 2009, Altria’s revenue has grown 9 percent, to $25.58 billion from $23.56 billion. But Altria’s U.S. cigarette volume has nearly halved — to 116.6 billion units in 2017 from 211.9 billion units in 2000.

And Altria currently makes the bulk of its money selling cigarettes. Of the $25.58 billion in total revenue the company generated last year, $22.64 billion — or 89 percent — came from its smokeable products business segment, which contains cigarettes and cigars.

Since Altria operates largely in the U.S., it can’t rely on other markets for growth as sales in the U.S. slump. That puts Altria in a tougher spot than peers like British American Tobacco , Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco . It also makes Juul and Cronos’ intended international growth all the more attractive to it.

Juul is available in eight markets overseas, including Canada and the U.K., with plans for even more international expansion to countries like Indonesia and other Asian markets, where smoking rates are high.

Juul has “significant opportunities for further growth, both domestically and in international markets,” Willard told analysts Thursday morning. Meantime, he noted the company believes the global cannabis sector is poised for “rapid growth.”


Over the past 17 years, Altria’s U.S. cigarette volume has decreased 3 percent every year, according to a review of the company’s financial statements. The company has managed to offset these declines through price increases. However, the declines have started accelerating, worrying some analysts and investors this strategy may be unsustainable.

Altria has been adding new tobacco products to its portfolio, including its 2007 acquisition of cigar marker John Middleton and its 2008 acquisition of smokeless tobacco manufacturer UST. It also inked a deal with Philip Morris International to sell its heated tobacco product, iQOS, in the U.S. should the Food and Drug Administration allow it to be sold here.The companies are still awaiting a decision from the agency.

Altria on Thursday reiterated its support for the product, saying its investment in Juul doesn’t change any of its plans around iQOS. PMI has pitched iQOS as something that is more likely to appeal to adult smokers who enjoy cigarettes and aren’t interested in fruity e-cigarette flavors.


“We’re excited about what we believe will be the most compelling offering for adult tobacco consumers and investors with ownership or exposure to the leading brands in each of our categories, including Marlboro, Black & Mild, Copenhagen, Juul, and iQOS,” Willard said.


Converting smokers
Juul has captured 75 percent of the e-cigarette market since entering it in 2015, according to Nielsen. Its sleek devices deliver more potent nicotine hits than most other e-cigarettes on the market. Linked with Altria, it’s poised to grow even faster.

Altria’s top-selling Marlboro cigarettes command prime shelf space in stores. The company will now yield a portion of this coveted placement to Juul pods. It is throwing behind it its marketing and distribution might.

“[Juul’s] unit economics today are attractive, and we expect our strong distribution infrastructure to help accelerate their financial performance,” Willard said.

Even if some Juul’s growth comes at the expense of Altria’s cigarette sales, it will still serve to support its bottom line. Juul pods are more profitable than cigarettes, because they aren’t subject to the same taxes or costs associated with the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), a deal negotiated in 1998 between tobacco manufacturers and state attorneys general to stop a wave of ongoing lawsuits.

But some of Juul’s U.S. growth — critics would say too much — have come from teens. Juul has attracted the younger generation with its fruity flavors and sleek appearance. Those sales have prompted scrutiny from regulators, who have said there is an “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use .


Altria maintains that with its investment in Juul, it gives the e-cigarette maker access to a team of regulatory experts that will make sure it abides by FDA standards.

“There certainly may be some disruption here as Juul works to address with the rest of the industry and with the FDA huge usage of the product, but we do expect there to be continuing long-term growth of the e-vapor category,” Willard said.


Cannabis poised to take off

Altria decided to bet on cannabis as it started researching investment opportunities, Willard said Thursday.

In the nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia where recreational and medical cannabis is legal, the total addressable market could reach $22 billion by 2030, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer estimated. When including Michigan, which recently legalized recreational cannabis, and four states that may soon pass similar laws, that total could reach $33.7 billion, Azer estimated.

“As we got engaged in really understanding the investment opportunity investing — understanding the potential future growth rate and assessing the likelihood that the U.S. market may become federally legal, we became quite convinced that this was an attractive global opportunity that had rapid growth potential,” Willard said.

Altria only pursued companies who were operating legally under federal rules, taking any U.S.-based companies off the table, he said. The U.S. company met with “most, if not all” the major players and decided Cronos was the right company.

“We like their management team,” Willard said. “We like the work they’ve done around investing in intellectual property. We like their branding strategy. We like their position in the Canadian market and also some of the distribution they’ve built in other medically legal cannabis markets, like Germany and Poland.”

Cronos has focused most of its efforts in the medical cannabis space. Last quarter, Cronos generated $3.8 million in sales, driven by medical cannabis sales in Canada and international medical cannabis exports.

Though the company boasts the second-highest gross margin of the many young cannabis companies in the last 12 months, Cronos has taken a more modest approach to overseas expansion compared with rivals likes Canopy .


Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein said Altria’s investment will allow the company to more quickly expand its global infrastructure and distribution footprint while increasing its R&D investments.

Despite predictions that Big Tobacco would get into the cannabis space, Altria is the only one to have inked such a deal.

Both deals, while possibly transformative, haven’t won investors over. Altria’s stock hit a 52-week low Thursday after announcing the deal. Shares fell another 2 percent Friday, setting a new floor of $48.75, and bringing the stock down 31 percent this year. It’s market value sits at $94.78 billion.



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