Conservative MP, James Cleverly, is latest Tory to have dodgy family connections to companies seeking to cash in on the relaxation of worldwide weed laws.
Conservative MP, James Cleverly, is latest Tory to have dodgy family connections to companies seeking to cash in on the relaxation of worldwide weed laws.
A man has been arrested after police found a large amount of cannabis when they were sent to the wrong address.
Police officers seized the drug, which they found drying on a clothes rack at the house in Tavistock, Devon.
The man was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the production of cannabis and later released under investigation.
Tavistock Police posted the find on Twitter.
They wrote: “When you get sent to the wrong address for a concern for welfare log, but find a cannabis grow instead. Male arrested for Production of Cannabis and released under investigation. Drugs seized and equipment destroyed.”
The force added on Twitter: “The occupant allowed us entry believing his little room full of green stuff was nicely locked up and sealed from the flat. It wasn’t.”
The police entered the property under section 17 of PACE, which gives police the power to enter and search premises without a warrant in order to ‘save life or limb’ or prevent serious damage to the property.
The use of medicinal cannabis has been allowed in Germany for two years now. But because domestic cultivation hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, the plant has been imported, mainly from Canada. That might change soon.
As Europe’s biggest cannabis investor conference kicks off in Berlin on Sunday, the most important topic will be the future cultivation of the plant in Germany, according to German Hemp Association (DHV) Chief Executive Georg Wurth. He finds it rather pathetic that there still is no cannabis cultivation in Europe’s biggest economy.
For two years, Germany has allowed cannabis cultivation for medical purposes. But picking suitable growers hasn’t been all plain sailing. A competitive tendering process had to be started from scratch following initial procedural errors. According to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfarM), there will be clarity in a couple of months as to which enterprises will get a license to produce cannabis at the behest of the state.
Frankfurt-based entrepreneur Niklas Kouperanis believes that is an unrealistic deadline. “I don’t see any real progress in this matter over the next two years,” he said. With a couple of investors on board, Kouperanis founded a startup called Farmako, which he said would focus on cannabis research, with financing for the project to come from the import and sale of cannabis flowers. “We want to make Europe less dependent when it comes to cultivating cannabis.”
Medicinal cannabis from North Macedonia
Farmako aims to produce medicinal cannabis in North Macedonia on a large scale and import it to Germany and other nations via Poland. When cannabis became accessible in Germany on prescription, Canadian companies were quick to conquer the market. A number of financially strong Canadian firms have since acquired many German startups active in this field.
While Canadians were at the forefront of exporting the plant, “they have failed to deliver to all regions in Europe, and Germany for that matter,” said Kouperanis. Bottlenecks have also been reported by Georg Wurth. “At the moment, there’s next to nothing coming in from Canada as companies there are preoccupied with their home market,” he said. This is because since the middle of last year, Canadians have been allowed to consume cannabis for recreational purposes as well as medicinal, pushing up demand considerably.
Betting on the future
Talking about Europe, Kouperanis says there’s a lot of potential. “We’re only just starting.” According to industry-affiliated research institute Prohibition Partners, the market for medicinal cannabis in Germany could swell to roughly €7.7 billion ($8.6 billion) by 2028, and for the whole of Europe to €58 billion.
Statutory health insurance providers in Germany reported revenues to the tune of some €70 million last year for products containing cannabis. By comparison, companies selling conventional pain killers in Germany logged revenues of €600 million in 2017. But if the cannabis market in Germany grows as fast as in other nations, there’s potential for something much bigger.
In Canada, the plant’s use for medical purposes was legalized in 2001 while in Israel it was as early as 1995, with cannabis for medical purposes in those countries used by roughly 1 percent of the population. That would be about 800,000 people in Germany. Patient numbers are not centrally registered in Germany, but 2018 estimates suggest there are currently between 30,000-70,000 cannabis-consuming patients in the country.
When will prices tumble?
Farmako’s Niklas Kouperanis plans to get 50 tons of cannabis to the German market in the next four years. In 2018, pharmacies across Germany only received 3.13 tons in official cannabis flower supplies. The BfarM tender foresees around 10 tons in cannabis to be cultivated domestically over four years.
For patients whose health insurances do not cover the cost of any cannabis therapy, Farmako’s activities could have a nice side effect. Right now, a gram of cannabis costs up to €26 at a pharmacy. “We could sell it for as low as €16 per gram,” Kouperanis said.
Made in Europe
The success of Farmako’s import plans will hinge on when state-controlled cultivation of cannabis begins in Germany. Georg Wurth is confident that a first group of cannabis farmers can get going in a few months. “Had the process been quicker, Germany could have become a crucial location for the cannabis business,” he said, adding the delays had only helped nations such as Portugal, Greece and North Macedonia push their domestic cultivation.
Kouperanis believes that Germany would not be a suitable cannabis grower anyway because of the country’s high labor costs. That’s why he didn’t even apply for the tendering procedure, “because it wouldn’t have made economic sense to me.” However, imports will still be needed in large quantities even after cultivation starts in Germany.
“I think that we’ve opened a Pandora’s box,” Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, told a parliamentary committee on medical cannabis earlier this month. Stressing how little is known about the health benefits of marijuana, Davies warned of its potential dangers. And she isn’t alone in her concerns.
Since legislation was introduced by home secretary Sajid Javid in November 2018, only a token few NHS doctors have prescribed cannabis to patients, despite the high demand from advocacy groups.
In this cannabis vacuum, private clinics could be the country’s first major legal dealers. Costing £200 for an appointment and between £600 and £700 a month for a prescription, these clinics, the first of which opened in Greater Manchester earlier this month, look set to supply the budding patients left wanting by the NHS.
So is the NHS withholding valuable medicine, or are the private clinics distributing dangerous drugs? “There is a belief that cannabis works for many conditions,” says Davies. “Meanwhile, what is the impact of taking it for a prolonged period of time? We know [THC, a cannabis chemical] has an impact on the brain and causes depression, schizophrenia, brain development problems in young and adolescence. If a pregnant mother was taking it, I’d be very worried.”
THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. When consumed, it binds to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, associated with memory, coordination, and time perception, causing a high. The feeling is enticing enough to make cannabis the most commonly used illicit substance around the world. But research shows that prolonged consumption can have some less-than dope effects. One recent study linked high-THC cannabis varieties with psychosis and even estimated that half of first-time psychotic disorders cases in Amsterdam could be avoided if the potent drug wasn’t available.
But studies such as these are often based on recreational, ‘street’ varieties, which have been pushed to high-THC potencies by prohibition and consumer demand. Medical cannabis is instead high in CBD, the ‘miracle molecule’ that’s been hailed by many users as a cure for everything from chronic pain to cancer. Despite being a legal medicine in multiple countries, the claims associated with CBD can lead many to question its true benefits.
“There is considerable evidence of usefulness in chronic pain, epilepsy, sickness during chemotherapy, as well for anxiety, PTSD, and sleep,” says Mike Barnes, a neurologist. He is also the clinical director of the new specialist cannabis clinics and gave evidence at the recent parliamentary debate, urging the panel to take heed of CBD’s existing evidence base.
“Cannabis can be a good remedy for many conditions like fibromyalgia, appetite stimulation, Crohn’s disease, and cancer,” he says. “Sure, we need more evidence of exactly what type of cannabis, in what dose and what format serves each condition best, but there is enough evidence for their doctor to seriously consider a prescription. If that doctor will not prescribe, then they should seek a cannabis expert to assist.”
While more evidence is needed to properly convince the NHS, there is still a large stack of studies to back up Barnes’ claims. Among many revelations, research has shown how cannabis can help reducemethamphetamine addiction, remedy anxiety, suppress inflammation, treat autism spectrum disorder, and even increase sperm counts.
It also seems to help with epileptic conditions. After all, it was the plights of two boys with severe epilepsy that kick-started the UK’s cannabis conversation last summer. And after being temporarily granted the medication, the children’s seizures reportedly went down from 150 a month to zero.
Certain CBD studies have also been shown to trigger unwanted side effects, such as decreased appetite and diarrhoea. But when bombarded with examples where it does help, it’s almost no wonder that medical cannabis advocates can get frustrated with the reticence of the NHS.
“Davis said that we have to wait three or four years before that kind of high-quality data is with us. How do you explain it to a parent?” says Peter Carroll, founder of the End Our Pain, a campaign to broaden medical cannabis access to children with epilepsy. Speaking alongside Professor Barnes, Carroll confronted the parliamentary panel with a story of a mother who illegally purchased cannabis products to treat her child. “The child has improved dramatically,” he stated. “So that’s her random controlled trial. And her own local doctors in the NHS have said, ‘we see the improvement’, and then they say, ‘but we’re not going to prescribe it’.”
“I think that we have to take a broader view of the evidence here because there is a point where multiple anecdotal stories do actually build on to a pattern of evidence,” he continued. “And it seems absurd to me that we have to wait three, four or five years on these trials to be produced when there are actually real-life cases now.”
The randomised controlled trials Carroll mentions are the gold-standard for clinical drug testing. In such trials, two groups are studied, one supplied the drug, the other a placebo, with no one knowing which they’ve been given. But any resulting drug can take years to become available.
“You’ve got consider what’s happening in the context of the NHS, the culture of the NHS, the revered nature of the NHS,” says Steve Moore, who helps run the Centre for Medical Cannabis, a think tank with the aim of escalating cannabis clinical trials. “People are asking for things quickly at the moment, but I think what they need to realise is that it will work at the pace of the NHS.” Last summer, Moore directed the campaign to grant Billy Caldwell, one of the boys living with epilepsy, his cannabis oil.
While these trails get underway, those with means may opt out of the state structure and sign up to the private clinics, two more of which are planned to open in Birmingham and London later this year. Others will undoubtedly continue to source cannabis from the black market.
“I really hope we can do the trials,” said Davies as she concluded her parliament testimony. “Because without those, how can we help the patients? And that’s what we’re all here for.”
The Daily Mail and Guardian lost their shit over weed stories this week. If cannabis was legalised we wouldn’t see the same news.
The answer to increased cannabis psychosis rates is to legalise. The best weed doesn’t get you crazy stoned – let’s get some good legal stuff on sale.
Read more at:
Cat Smith signs her support for the push for more accessible medical cannabis
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has given her support to a campaign for medical cannabis. Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK last year, but patients still struggle to get a specialist prescription for the drug, which NHS guidelines say can be used to treat children with severe epilepsy, as well as sickness and chronic pain associated with chemotherapy. Campaigners at End Our Pain are now calling for all doctors, not just specialists, to be allowed to prescribe cannabis to their patients where appropriate, and for patients to be able to go with their prescription to a pharmacy and collect it as they would any other drug. Ms Smith said she has joined others in writing to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, urging him to help patients whose conditions may be eased by the use of medical cannabis.
Ms Smith said: “I’m alarmed that campaigners have been unable to find a single new NHS prescription for a wholeplant medical cannabis product being written for any patient in the UK. “The reality is families are watching children suffer when there are medicines out there that could help them, or they’re taking expensive and stressful trips abroad for medical cannabis.”
Read more at: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/fleetwood-mp-s-support-for-medical-cannabis-push-1-9677183
This is big news. No more having to deal in cash.
A congressional committee voted on Thursday to approve legislation aimed at increasing marijuana businesses’ access to banks.
PHOTO: TOM SYDOW
Following multiple days of lengthy debate and consideration of several amendments, the House Financial Services Committee voted 45 to 15 to advance the legislation to the full body.
Floor action has not yet been scheduled, but cannabis reform advocates are hopeful that the committee approval of the banking bill is a sign Democrats are ready to move broad marijuana reforms this year.
Indeed, House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) said in a radio interview on Wednesday that he expects the chamber to vote on legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition within a matter of “weeks.”
“We will guide it to the House floor for a vote, which I think it will pass with an overwhelming vote—Democrats and I think a lot of Republicans as well,” he said. “If we have a strong bipartisan vote that will increase the pressure on the Senate to do something.”
All of the party’s major 2020 presidential candidates now support outright legalization, as do a majority of its voters, according to polls.
The banking bill “addresses an urgent public safety concern for legitimate businesses that currently have no recourse but to operate with just cash,” Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) said at the start of the committee’s proceedings, which began on Tuesday and carried over through a second Wednesday meeting to votes on Thursday morning.
“However, I also consider this bill as part of a holistic approach toward providing criminal justice reform to those who have been harmed by criminalization of marijuana, and should not by any means be the only bill the House takes up on the important issue of cannabis reform,” she said.
While some surveys also show that a smaller majority of GOP voters back ending cannabis prohibition, Republican lawmakers in Congress had blocked marijuana amendments from even being considered over the course of the past several years during their House majority.
Last week, top Republicans on the Financial Services Committee requested that Waters delay the vote on the banking legislation, writing in a letter that they had several “unanswered questions” about the measure.
“Some on my side support the measure as written. Many oppose it,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the panel’s top Republican, said in his opening remarks at the committee meeting. “Most important for this committee, we need to ensure that we’re doing our due diligence before proceeding. One committee hearing is not enough to fully understand the consequences of this bill. It is a massive change in federal policy.”
That the vote went ahead over GOP objections is a sign that the effective marijuana roadblock on Capitol Hill has been lifted by the chamber’s new Democratic majority.
Under the approved bill, federal banking regulators would not be able to punish financial institutions just because they work with marijuana businesses that are legal under state or local laws, or those of an Indian tribe.
Currently, while a growing number of banks are opening accounts for cannabis businesses as more state policies change, many remain reluctant to do so out of fear of violating federal money laundering or drug laws. As a result, many marijuana growers, processors and sellers are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, which can make them targets for robberies.
The legislation approved by the committee, the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, currently has 152 cosponsors—more than a third of the entire House, which is far more support than any previous standalone cannabis bill has earned. Twelve Republicans have cosponsored the legislation.
The SAFE Banking Act’s approval by the financial services panel is only the third time in history that a standalone marijuana reform bill has cleared a congressional committee. Last year, other committees voted to advance legislation encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis and to require the Department of Justice to license additional growers of marijuana for research, but those proposals never made it to the House floor for action.
“It is our job to address this and no longer ignore it. I have brought this legislation up for six years,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the SAFE Banking Act’s lead sponsor, said prior to the vote. “The people of this country sort of took it into their own hands, state by state, to pass initiative for medical marijuana or for cannabis oil or fully legal.”
Perlmutter put forth an amendment to his own bill during the hearing. In addition to clarifying the definition of the financial services that are covered by the bill and specifying that its provisions would protect Federal Reserve banks, new additions would require the federal government to study diversity and inclusion in the marijuana industry—a key concern of legalization advocates seeking to undo the damage of the war on drugs, which has been waged in a racially disproportionate manner.
The new language would require federal financial regulators to publish annual reports tracking “information and data on the availability of access to financial services for minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses” and to issue “regulatory or legislative recommendations for expanding access to financial services” for those populations.
In addition, the amended bill directs that the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study “on the barriers to marketplace entry, including in the licensing process, and the access to financial services for potential and existing minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses.”
Also during the committee markup, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) moved a separate amendment that would extend protections to so-called “de novo” banking institutions that are seeking charters or master accounts from a Federal Reserve bank. It was adopted via a voice vote.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), one of the bill’s lead Republican cosponsors, filed an amendment expanding the legislation’s protections to insurance companies. It too was passed in a voice vote.
An amendment from Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) directs the Government Accountability Office to study previous reports that banks are required to file on their marijuana business customers to understand how effective they are in identifying bad actors. It was supported by the bill’s sponsors and approved on a voice vote.
Tipton filed an another amendment aimed at making sure drug cartels and organized crime networks aren’t able to benefit from the bill’s provisions, but he withdrew it instead of forcing a vote.
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) moved to delay the bill’s effective date until marijuana is federally descheduled, but withdrew the amendment rather than force a vote.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) sought to attach an amendment that would add “legal entities operating in accordance with federal law” to those covered by the bill. In introducing the measure, he made reference to prior federal investigations of banks working with firearms dealers and payday lenders. It was ruled non-germane, however.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) filed an amendment that would have delayed the bill’s enactment until the Treasury secretary certifies it wouldn’t leave any financial institution more susceptible to illicit financial activity and money laundering, and that it doesn’t inhibit their ability to comply with federal regulations. It was defeated in a voice vote and then again in roll call vote by a margin of 33 to 27.
Another Barr amendment would have restricted the bill’s reach to only protect hemp businesses instead of those that deal with marijuana. It also lost on both a voice vote and a recorded vote. The latter went down 42 to 18.
An amendment from Rep. John Rose (R-TN) would have required banks to attest that they have internal controls ensuring that no funds have been deposited in their institutions that are associated with illegal organizations. It too was rejected in voice and roll call votes, with the latter tallying 33 to 27.
A second Huizenga amendment would have postponed enactment until federal financial regulators are able to issue guidance to banks. It was rejected with a voice vote, and a roll call was requested, which came out 35 against to 25 for.
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) offered an amendment to withdraw the bill’s protections from banks that serve marijuana businesses located within 1,000 feet of schools, youth centers, public parks, child care facilities, public housing, civic centers or designated drug-free zones. It was rejected via a voice vote, and then in a roll call vote by a margin of 34 to 26.
During the broader debate on the bill, Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), who along with Perlmutter is a leading sponsor of the proposal, spoke about a Colorado marijuana dispensary security guard who was killed during an attempted robbery as an example of the public safety harms of blocking banking access. He added that allowing cannabis industry operators to store their profits in regulated financial institutions would “enhance supervision and audibility of marijuana businesses.”
The banking legislation, which was the subject of a separate lengthy committee hearing last month, is seen by advocates as just the first step in an ambitious cannabis reform agenda they want the Democratic House to pass this year. Several more far-reaching bills to change marijuana’s legal status so that states can implement their own policies without the looming threat of federal interference have not yet been scheduled for hearings. Other pending proposals seek to address medical cannabis access by military veterans, the removal of roadblocks to research and tax rates for marijuana firms.
“Congress must take the long view that all these efforts—and I will work to ensure that when it comes to passing [the banking bill] that the House does not take a ‘one and done’ approach but that we will also comprehensively work, especially with our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, on a series of marijuana related reforms,” Waters, the Financial Services Committee chair, said prior to the vote.
Really interesting story. Anandamide is the endocannabinoid that has similarities to THC.
Scientists find genetic mutation that makes woman feel no pain
Discovery in 71-year-old Jo Cameron may aid development of new pain relief treatments
Doctors have identified a new mutation in a woman who is barely able to feel pain or stress after a surgeon who was baffled by her recovery from an operation referred her for genetic testing.
Jo Cameron, 71, has a mutation in a previously unknown gene which scientists believe must play a major role in pain signalling, mood and memory. The discovery has boosted hopes of new treatments for chronic pain which affects millions of people globally.
Cameron, a former teacher who lives in Inverness, has experienced broken limbs, cuts and burns, childbirth and numerous surgical operations with little or no need for pain relief. She sometimes leans on the Aga and knows about it not from the pain, but the smell. “I’m vegan, so the smell is pretty obvious,” she says. “There’s no other burning flesh going on in the house.”
But it is not only an inability to sense pain that makes Cameron stand out: she also never panics. When a van driver ran her off the road two years ago, she climbed out of her car, which was on its roof in a ditch, and went to comfort the shaking young driver who cut across her. She only noticed her bruises later. She is relentlessly upbeat, and in stress and depression tests she scored zero.
“I knew that I was happy-go-lucky, but it didn’t dawn on me that I was different,” she says. “I thought it was just me. I didn’t know anything strange was going on until I was 65.”
The moment of realisation came when Cameron had x-rays for a bad hip. Now and again her hip would give way, making her walk lop-sided. For three or four years, her GP, and then the hospital, turned her away because she was not in pain. When she was finally scanned, the x-rays revealed massive deterioration of the joint. “I’d not had a twinge. They couldn’t believe it.”
Cameron duly had her hip replaced, coping on two paracetamol the day after. But while she was in hospital, doctors noticed that her thumbs were deformed by osteoarthritis. They immediately booked her in for a double hand operation, a procedure described as “excruciating” by one surgeon. Again, Cameron felt almost no pain after the operation. A consultant, Devjit Srivastava, who was overseeing her care at Raigmore hospital in Inverness, was so stunned that he referred her to pain specialists at UCL in London.
In a case report published on Thursday in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, the UCL team describe how they delved into Cameron’s DNA to see what makes her so unusual. They found two notable mutations. Together, they suppress pain and anxiety, while boosting happiness and, apparently, forgetfulness and wound healing.
The first mutation the scientists spotted is common in the general population. It dampens down the activity of a gene called FAAH. The gene makes an enzyme that breaks down anandamide, a chemical in the body that is central to pain sensation, mood and memory. Anandamide works in a similar way to the active ingredients of cannabis. The less it is broken down, the more its analgesic and other effects are felt.
The second mutation was a missing chunk of DNA that mystified scientists at first. Further analysis showed that the “deletion” chopped the front off a nearby, previously unknown gene the scientists named FAAH-OUT. The researchers think this new gene works like a volume control on the FAAH gene. Disable it with a mutation like Cameron has and FAAH falls silent. The upshot is that anandamide, a natural cannabinoid, builds up in the system. Cameron has twice as much anandamide as those in the general population
When the researchers explained the mutations to Cameron, a lot of her past made more sense. The time she broke her arm as an eight-year-old and didn’t tell anyone for days, until the bone started resetting at a funny angle. That she could eat scotch bonnet chillies and feel only a “pleasant glow” in her mouth. That she is always ironing herself, and that her multiple cuts and burns heal so swiftly.
“I was quite amused when I found out,” Cameron said. “And then they told me about these other things, the happiness and the forgetfulness. I’m always forgetting things; I always have done. It’s good in lots of ways but not in others. I don’t get the alarm system everyone else gets.”
Cameron’s mother felt pain normally, as does her daughter. But her son, who carries the second and more important mutation, has a dulled sense of pain. He never takes painkillers and frequently scalds his mouth with hot drinks and food. Scientists suspect that Cameron’s father may have passed the mutation on to her.
James Cox, a researcher on the study, said that in extreme cases, mutations can lead people to feel no pain whatsoever. “This patient doesn’t have a complete loss of pain sensitivity, but we do see that. When they are young, they typically bite off parts of the tongue, and parts of their fingers because they haven’t learned that it’s dangerous.”
Cox said of Cameron: “There’s an awful lot we can learn from her. Once we understand how the new gene works, we can think about gene therapies that mimic the effects we see in her. There are millions of people living in pain and we definitely need new analgesics. Patients like this can give us real insights into the pain system.”
Cameron hopes that talking about her condition might boost scientific progress. “There may be more like me who are out there that haven’t realised what is different about them,” she says. “If they go and help out with the experiments, it may do something to get people off manmade painkillers and on to more natural ways of relieving pain.”