London’s First Marijuana Producer Ready To Grow

London’s first licences cannabis producer is gearing up for a major expansion.

INDIVA is holding a private open house on Wednesday to kick off the expansion of its facility in a south London industrial park.

INDIVA spokesperson Susan Mutterback said the company is focused on the medical cannabis market but can expand to include the recreational marijuana market when it becomes legal.

Niel Marotta, the CEO of the publicly traded company, is based in Ottawa but Pete Young, the master grower, is based in London and was a director of the London Compassion Society, which has been providing medicinal marijuana to its carefully screened members since 1995.

At full capacity, INDIVA expects the London facility to produce more than three million grams of high-quality dry flower annually using the latest hydroponic growing systems and LED lighting. The plant will also be able to process more than 1,000 kilograms of cannabis oil. The expansion is expected to be completed later this year. Full production capacity should be reached in 2019.

The London Free Press

What Ever Happened to Denver’s Magic Mushroom Initiative?

Nearly three months ago, a group of Denverites made a big splash with their campaign to decriminalize magic mushrooms, chanting “free the spores” and holding up signs that read, “I am a psilocybin patient,” outside of the Denver City and County Building.

They vowed to turn Denver into a safe space for psychedelics users and, they said, private research. After all, Denver has a history of progressive drug policies; it decriminalized possession of cannabis in 2005, years before statewide recreational legalization.

But the campaign Denver for Psilocybin — backed by members of the cannabis community such as weed doctor and neuroscientist Michele Ross and Straight Hemp CEO Devin Alvarez — has faced hurdles in its bid for the ballot since making its bold announcement in early March. It’s still struggling to get its petition language approved and has been denied twice by the city, most recently on May 7. With little time left to gather signatures before the August deadline, there’s a chance that Denver residents may not see the initiative this November.

Even if Denver for Psilocybin has its petition approved on the third attempt, it would be on a huge time crunch to turn in the requisite 4,726 valid signatures in a little more than a month.

Read the full article at Westword

What You Need to Know About Kratom

It’s banned in six states and three American cities but still legal — for now — as far as the feds are concerned.

Kratom is the controversial herbal supplement you might not know about.

Fans who take kratom in capsule form or drink it in tea say it can can alleviate a host of ills. Some say it is a natural cure for opioid withdrawal symptoms; federal health officials say that is not true.

Federal authorities cracked down this week on kratom sellers as talk arose again of making it illegal at the federal level.

The drug agency is “still waiting for analysis” before taking that step, special agent Melvin Patterson of the Drug Enforcement Administration told KIRO in Seattle this week.

The DEA has already considered designating kratom a Schedule 1 drug, which would effectively ban it.

Federal concerns about health risks and potential abuse of the supplement manifested in a public health advisory from the Food and Drug Administration last year that said the FDA was aware of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of products containing kratom.

Continue Reading at The Kansas City Star

Some Good News From The Fight Against Opioids

SOME 382,000 Americans have overdosed on opioids—a group of drugs that includes prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetics—since the year 2000. That is greater than the number of American combat deaths in the second world war and the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. Despite this epic toll, there are early signs that at least one battle may be ending.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the best data for tracking the opioid epidemic. Its latest data, which cover the 12 months to the end of October 2017, show that opioids were responsible for some 46,041 deaths (see chart) in that period. While provisional and subject to revision, that number was at least not dissimilar to the previous month’s figure of 46,202.

The precise workings of the epidemic in recent months are not well understood, but a few elements stand out. The first is that deaths from prescription medication are likely to have been pushed down by lower availability of those drugs. Official data from the CDC show that prescription rates were nearly 20% lower in 2016 than at their 2012 peak. IQVIA, a health consultancy, reckons that prescriptions fell by another 10% in 2017. Donald Burke, dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, thinks there is “almost certainly cause and effect” between prescription rates and deaths.

Experts agree that the most effective way to fight addiction is with medication-based treatment, such as methadone. But just one-third of Americans live in counties with treatment centers providing these kinds of drugs. For real progress it is necessary to look north. Vancouver has pioneered the use of safe-injection sites. Seattle and other progressive enclaves of America would like to follow their lead but they face stern opposition. America’s attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, has threatened to prosecute such sites under the “crack house statute”. Such sites, claims the Department of Justice, will only “encourage and normalize heroin use”.

The Economist

Forget Protein Shakes. The Newest Workout Supplement? Marijuana.

Like many other fitness-minded young professionals, a 25-year-old Boston resident named Cameron adheres to a fairly typical pre-workout routine. There’s the 20 minutes of stretching, generally followed by some light cardio.

As marijuana legalization has pushed the drug further toward the mainstream — and a longstanding social stigma has begun to dissipate — more individuals are taking up before hitting the weight room, sports field, or mixed martial arts mat.

While the idea might seem inherently counterintuitive — weed, after all, is a substance more commonly paired with Doritos than deadlifts — there is a passionate contingent that swears by it.

“It’s a weird phenomenon, but it’s an increasingly common phenomenon,” says Peter Grinspoon, a primary care doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of the book “Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction.” “The fact that a lot of people are saying it helps them can’t be ignored.”

Research into marijuana’s benefits has been notoriously scant, due in large part to the drug’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 substance — meaning that, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, it’s deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” And the few studies that do exist offer relatively little insight into the drug’s effects during physical activity, beneficial or detrimental.

Read the full article at Boston Globe

New Migraine Drug: A Neurologist Explains How It Works

Migraine typically runs in families, with about 90 percent of people with migraine having close relatives with this disorder. It affects 1 of every 7 adults in the U.S. It is three times more common in women than men.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. According to the research group Global Burden of Disease, migraine was ranked the sixth most disabling disease. What is more, among neurological disorders, migraine is the second most disabling after stroke.

The FDA announced approval on May 17 of a novel preventive treatment for migraine headaches. Aimovig is the first in a new class of migraine-specific drugs that works by blocking an action of a protein that is increased in people with migraine during headache attacks.

If over-the-counter medications are not effective, a class of drugs called triptans can be very effective. Triptans, the first drugs developed specifically for migraines, were developed in the 1980s and have remained the best option for treatment of individual migraine attacks. Triptans are not pain killers but rather work through serotonin receptors involved in the development of migraine.

Triptans can also cause medication overuse headache. And, they have the potential to cause the spasm of blood vessels. Therefore, triptans should not be used if a person has had a heart attack, stroke or peripheral vascular disease.

Read more at The Conversation

Myanmar Embraces Silkworms Over Poppies

Zhou Xing Ci’s family have farmed poppies for as long as anyone remembers, scraping the flowers’ sticky brown sap to produce opium.

Along with many other farmers in the hills of eastern Myanmar, the crop – much of which ends up as heroin sold on foreign streets – has in recent years put Myanmar behind only Afghanistan as the world’s leading source of opium.

A Chinese company working with farmers like Zhou hopes the silk-producing larva can help the farmers, and their country, quit the drug.

“Growing opium is too tough. It’s only one harvest every year and a rain can easily destroy a whole year’s work,” said Zhou.

The UN agency has assisted more than 1,000 farmers to switch from opium to another cash crop, coffee, since 2014, said Troels Vester, UNODC country manager for Myanmar.

Still, 41,000 hectares of poppy was planted in Myanmar last year, the agency said. Farmers in conflict areas were less likely to have moved to licit crops, it added.

In the corner of Myanmar where Zhou lives, bordering China’s Yunnan province, various armed groups operate and the law is barely enforced, providing a haven for opium traders, as well as heroin producers and meth-lab operators.

Read more at News.com

First, Marijuana. Are ‘Magic’ Mushrooms Next?

In Oregon and Denver, where marijuana is legal for recreational use, activists are now pushing toward a psychedelic frontier: “magic mushrooms.”

Groups in both states are sponsoring ballot measures that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of the mushrooms whose active ingredient, psilocybin, can cause hallucinations, euphoria and changes in perception. They point to research showing that psilocybin might be helpful for people suffering from depression or anxiety.

The recent failure of a nationally publicized campaign to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms in California may not portend well for the psilocybin advocates in Oregon and Denver — though their initiatives are more limited than California’s.

In Oregon, advocates face a steep climb to qualify their measure for the ballot, because such statewide initiatives typically require hiring paid signature gatherers, said William Lunch, a political analyst for Oregon Public Broadcasting and a former political science professor at Oregon State University.

Still, familiarity with recreational marijuana may have “softened up” voters and opponents of drug decriminalization, he said. Oregon legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2015, Colorado in 2012.

Read more at Oregon Live

Time To Tax Narcotics As War On Drugs Will Never Be Won

The war on drugs was lost the moment it started but it continues relentlessly, morphing into a narrative favored by dystopian novelists.

One of the growth areas of academic finance in recent years has resulted in psychologists winning Nobel prizes for economics. The ways in which we are different to the rational, utility-maximising caricature of the textbooks has been usefully explored by researchers and has yielded a stream of insights that have guided policymakers in many jurisdictions.

Researchers are fond of finding weird anomalies in human behaviour that conflict with standard predictions, coming up with theories about why we behave in this way and then suggesting policy “nudges” that lead to better outcomes for both individuals and societies.

Each year, drug use rises. The range and availability of drugs rise. Terrorists rely on valuable income from drugs. The United Nations estimates that up to 85 per cent of Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation is under the control of the Taliban, with half of its income coming from heroin – and most of the world’s supply of that drug is from those fields. Even waging actual war doesn’t work.

In the UK, the Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society for Public Health have joined the calls for decriminalization. All these bodies are keen to stress that they do not condone drug taking but have just looked at the facts and concluded that the current legal framework is not fit for purpose. It simply doesn’t work: drug use is not deterred. Drug users need education and treatment, not legal sanction.

Continue Reading at Irish Times

Here’s How Much Marijuana Costs in the United States vs Canada

In the United States, medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states. Not only that, but the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in 10 states. You can walk into a licensed store in places like California, Oregon and Colorado and purchase cannabis nearly as easily as buying beer.

Similar dynamics are taking place in Canada. Medical marijuana consumption was first legalized in 2001, and in 2017 legislation paved the way for the legalization of recreational use throughout all of Canada — a development that’s expected to be implemented in the summer of this year.

We analyzed data from Priceonomics customer Wikileaf, a company that tracks cannabis prices at dispensaries across the US and Canada and aggregated the data at the national level and find out the answers.

We discovered that cannabis is 30% less expensive in Canada than the United States. When you look at different cities, the price differential can be even more pronounced. Legal marijuana is 39% cheaper in Vancouver than San Francisco, for example.

Across dispensaries tracked by Wikileaf in the United States, the price of an eighth of marijuana is $40.0, compared to $27.9 in Canada, where it is 30% cheaper.

Read more at Priceonomics

Things That Matter about Psychoactive Drugs

Psychoactive drugs chemically alter the brain and change the way we feel, think, perceive and understand our world.

We are in a psychoactive drug epidemic in our country, most notably the opioids, because of their tragic death toll.

Here are nine things that matter when it comes to drugs:

1. Age. It’s one thing to start drinking or smoking dope when you are 21. It is very different when at 12 or 13 or 15, even 18.

2. Set. Set means the unique biological, neurological, psychological and experiential qualities of the user. Set creates a personal vulnerability and selective responsivity do substances.

3. Route of Administration. How fast a substance gets to and bathes our neurons with its receptor-loving chemical configuration makes a big difference.

Continue Reading at Scientific America

Are psychedelic Mushrooms The Next Legalization Frontier After Cannabis?

Now that states have proven that issues like cannabis legalization can be successful at the ballot box, activists are establishing a new front for legalization: magic mushrooms.

In Colorado, that form of activism comes from a group called Denver for Psilocybin led by Kevin Matthews, the organizer of a new ballot initiative. Matthews’ initiative aims to take the question of decriminalization to the voters this fall and, if he’s successful, the city and county of Denver would allow residents to carry up to 2 ounces of dried mushrooms and grow up to 2 lbs at home.

Under the new regulations, psilocybin mushrooms would be placed among the lowest law enforcement priorities and would not carry felony charges or the threat of imprisonment. The most an individual could get for being caught with psychedelic mushrooms would be a $99 fine, which could increase by $100 for every subsequent offense up to $999.

So why legalize psilocybin? Is this just the next logical step after cannabis? The answer for Matthews and other activists is in the science. Since the early 2000s, there’s been a growing body of research into the promise of psilocybin—the psychoactive component of psychedelic mushrooms—as a treatment for a number of mental health conditions from severe depression to cigarette addiction.

Read more at Herb

Some Businesses Stop Drug Testing For Marijuana

A low unemployment rate and the spreading legalization of marijuana have led many businesses to rethink their drug testing policies for the first time in decades. A small but increasing number are simply no longer testing for pot.

“There is a lot of conflict there, and many employers, they just don’t know what to do,” said Kathryn Russo, a lawyer at Melville, New York-based firm Jackson Lewis. Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states plus Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states.

Here are some questions small businesses need to consider when deciding on what drug testing policies to follow:

– IS IT A FEDERALLY REGULATED POSITION, OR SAFETY-SENSITIVE?

If your business is regulated by the federal Department of Transportation or is a defense contractor, you are likely legally required to drug test for all drugs illegal at the federal level, including marijuana.

– DON’T DISCRIMINATE

In states where medical marijuana is legal, small businesses increasingly risk running into legal trouble if they deny a job to someone who has obtained a medical marijuana prescription.

Read more at Eyewitness News

How Does Medical Marijuana Help Glaucoma Patients?

One of the many uses of medical marijuana is its use as a treatment for glaucoma. This optic nerve condition can lead to loss of vision or blindness without medical assistance. Marijuana has long been hailed for its ability to reduce eye pressure, which causes glaucoma. Here we explore the question: How does medical marijuana help glaucoma patients?

An estimated 3 million Americans live with glaucoma. The demographics most affected by glaucoma are people over 60, specifically African Americans. Anyone with a family history of glaucoma should look for loss of peripheral vision.

Difficulty seeing objects at the edges of your sight is the first symptom of open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma won’t be painful, so the best way to diagnose it is to watch for slow vision deterioration. Contrastingly, angle-closure glaucoma manifests as nausea, blurry vision, and head or eye pain.

How does medical marijuana help glaucoma patients? The main way to treat glaucoma is by reducing the pressure on the optic nerve. Though research isn’t conclusive on the extent of marijuana’s effects on glaucoma, some studies show it can reduce inner eye pressure.

This research goes back to the 1970s. These studies showed that smoking marijuana could reduce inner eye pressure for people with glaucoma. The promising nature of these studies leads to more research. The National Eye Institute found that smoking, ingesting, or injecting THC, specifically, did lower eye pressure.

Read more at High Times

Bad Stuff Is Good Medicine?

Chewing betel nut isn’t as common here as it used to be and, to my knowledge, not many people here chew it with tobacco leaves as they do in southeast Asia. There, many users are addicted to that combination, which can create a sense of euphoria and alertness. Strangely enough, scientists at the University of Florida have found that compounds derived from betel nut could help cigarette smokers and betel nut chewers kick their habits.

The researchers say the two addictions share many traits and they want to develop drugs that target both. They’re studying compounds from the areca nut (the scientific name of betel is Areca catechu) to make new molecules that work better than existing smoking-cessation drugs.

“Some new findings say that things we know are bad for our health may actually be helpful. The first bad boy? Chewing betel nut.”

A drug that helps with two different kinds of addiction is really a good thing, but here’s one for you: What if eating chocolate helped prevent and treat diabetes? “Yeah, right!” you say.

Read more at Post Guam

Canadian Marijuana Stocks Fall to Lowest Level in 4 Months

Canadian marijuana stocks climbed steeply between October and January as investors piled in in anticipation of a sales surge when the country legalizes adult use this year. But government delays, stringent packaging and distribution rules, limited product choices and high valuations have dampened investors’ enthusiasm, analysts said.

Canada’s Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences exchange-traded fund (ETF) has slumped 45 per cent since its January peak. The U.S.-listed ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, which began trading on Dec. 26, is down 32 per cent from its high, just a hair above a record low on April 4.

“Licensed producer power won’t be quite the same in the post-medical (marijuana) world,” said Alan Brochstein, founder of cannabis-sector information provider 420 Investor. “They’ll be the suppliers, but they won’t capture the whole retail margin. And the packaging is … kind of a retardant to the growth of the market.”

Jason Zandberg, a research analyst at PI Financial, predicted 2019 sales may be lower than expected, in part due to initial shortages and slow consumer conversion from the illegal market.

Continue Reading at BNN

Feds Want Input On Marijuana Reclassification

The Trump administration is asking Americans for input on whether marijuana should be reclassified under international drug control treaties to which the U.S. is a party.

Currently, under both U.S. law and global agreements, marijuana sits in the most restrictive category of Schedule I. Domestically, that means it is not available for formal prescriptions and research on its effects is heavily restricted. Globally, it means that nations signed onto drug treaties are not supposed to legalize cannabis.

Specifically, FDA is inviting input on the “abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of” cannabis and its compounds, the agency wrote in a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published on Monday.

Marijuana itself has never been subject to formal review since first being placed in Schedule I of the international agreement enacted in 1961, FDA notes in the new Federal Register notice.

Full article at Forbes

Feds Want Input On Marijuana Reclassification

The Trump administration is asking Americans for input on whether marijuana should be reclassified under international drug control treaties to which the U.S. is a party.

Currently, under both U.S. law and global agreements, marijuana sits in the most restrictive category of Schedule I. Domestically, that means it is not available for formal prescriptions and research on its effects is heavily restricted. Globally, it means that nations signed onto drug treaties are not supposed to legalize cannabis.

Specifically, FDA is inviting input on the “abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of” cannabis and its compounds, the agency wrote in a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published on Monday.

Marijuana itself has never been subject to formal review since first being placed in Schedule I of the international agreement enacted in 1961, FDA notes in the new Federal Register notice.

Full article at Forbes

Trump Tariffs Target Key Ingredients for Dozens of Drugs

The Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on thousands of Chinese-manufactured products would target dozens of key products used by drug makers, as well as medical devices including pacemakers and artificial joints.

More than 80 percent of the ingredients used to make U.S.-consumed drugs are produced outside of the country, according to the Food and Drug Administration. China, along with India, accounts for most of the bulk ingredients and the FDA has called China a “major provider.”

For brand-name drugs, raw ingredients used by manufacturers are typically a tiny fraction of the cost of a product. They can be more important for generic medications that are essentially low-cost commodity products.

Bloomberg Politics

Trump Wants A New War On Drugs

President Trump’s opioid response plan might have multiple prongs, but when he unveiled it Monday, he clearly was most interested in the prong that gets “very tough” on drug dealers. We know this because he said so approximately 5,000 times during a speech announcing the new plan in New Hampshire, a state chosen as the backdrop because it is one of those hardest hit by opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Trump’s get-tough approach is little more than a reboot of the failed “War on Drugs” from the 1980s, in which the federal government spent enormous sums trying — and failing — to stop the crack cocaine crisis by throwing people in prison, a disproportionate amount of whom were African American and Latino.

His first speech on the topic in October, while vague, promised action on this “public health emergency.” A few days later the commission he convened to study the problem and come up with evidence-based solutions released a 131-page report with 56 recommendations, none of which suggested killing people.

Read the full article in Los Angeles Times