Doctors Warn Against Rush To Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis

Doctors have been warned against rushing to prescribe medical cannabis despite Australians’ acceptance of its use.

To date, the evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis remains “limited”, said Jennifer Martin and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo in an editorial for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the editorial says the usual regulatory processes designed to protect patients from potential serious harms caused by medicinal cannabinoids must be adhered to.

In Australia, medicinal cannabis is legal but patient access is still very difficult.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme (SAS) provides patient access to cannabis on compassionate grounds without the usual quality and safety data requirements.

This means approval is granted on a case-by-case basis provided the correct documentation is given by the prescribing doctor, says Dr. John Lawson, a pediatric neurologist and conjoint senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales.

A recent trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, led by Australian neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer, found cannabidiol – one of at least 113 compounds found in the cannabis plant – significantly reduced the severity and frequency of seizures in children with a rare, yet devastating form of epilepsy known as a Dravet syndrome.

Last year, the Medical Cannabis Council called for more robust research to be done to ensure patients greater access in the future.

Read the full article in The Guardian

Inside The Mexican Towns That Produce America’s Heroin

MEXICO CITY — Journalists in Mexico, foreign and domestic, tend to keep drug cartels at arm’s length. Narco bosses like to stay out of the news. Several Mexican reporters have been killed by drug gangs for trying to expose organized crime. Firsthand reporting from inside the Mexican underworld is rare.

Myles Estey, a Canadian documentary producer, is establishing himself as an exception. Estey has helped produce two documentaries that take viewers deeper into Mexico’s gun-littered badlands: the 2015 film “Cartel Land,” which was nominated for an Academy Award, and “The Trade,” a Showtime series about heroin that premiered this month. Both of these projects were directed by Matthew Heineman.

Estey said the goal of those making “The Trade” was to “show the human side of this crisis, beyond the stats and numbers.” He talked to The Washington Post about his experience.

“What was involved in getting this close to the drug business in “The Trade”? How were you able to document heroin producers like this?”

It took months and months and months, probably about six months, before we started getting footage that was useful and started to have the trust and respect of the people where we were working.

Read more at The Washington Post

Can Government-approved Pot Beat Street Weed?

A key goal of legalizing recreational cannabis is squeezing out illegal suppliers. But how competitive will legal cannabis retail be against established black markets?

That’s a key question for federal and provincial politicians. Governments don’t like pot consumers funding organized crime.

That question may also interest investors. They’ve pushed up cannabis stock prices and created demand for four cannabis exchange-traded funds. Alcohol and tobacco companies have bought stakes in cannabis growers. Suppliers of hydroponic equipment and online retailing software could benefit too.

Price is the competitive element politicians mention most. In Colorado, cheap legal cannabis means black markets control only 20 percent of state sales. But in Washington state, where prices are higher, black markets capture 50 percent.

In Canada, governments agree cannabis prices must be competitive. They’ve suggested $10 per gram, including excise and sales taxes.

But Statistics Canada estimates market prices fell below $7.50 last year, and farther since then. Vancouver street prices reportedly are near $5. And street vendors don’t charge tax.

Read the full article at the National Post

California’s Race to the Top on Cannabis

In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War on Drugs, at least for cannabis. The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California.

As incredibly progressive as that ordinance is, San Francisco is not alone in attempting to work racial equity into the new legalized cannabis landscape. Cities across California and other states are upping the racial equity quotient in various ways, in what looks like a race to the top for seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes. As city leaders scratch their heads over how to realize real racial equity in policymaking, the legalized weed experiment is acting as the test case and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke.

It’s not just the historically uber-liberal Bay Area that’s embarking on this. Los Angeles also has a cannabis social equity program that prioritizes business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in an area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents. Both Oakland and L.A. are also prioritizing permits for people who don’t personally fall under this criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who do.

Despite the heavy regulation of the cannabis market at both the city and state level (and maybe the federal level if Senator Cory Booker has it his way), there has still been immense growth in revenue and profits in this field. According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report, from New Frontier Data, “The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.” And that’s only based on the states where weed is currently legal.

Read the full article at CityLab

Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in Netherlands Linked To Opiates

Between 2014 and 2016 the number of recorded deaths caused by a drug overdose nearly doubled, according to the National Drug Monitor by the Trimbos Institute and research and documentation center WODC, NOS reports.

In 2014 a total of 123 people died of a drug overdose in the Netherlands. In 2016 there were 235 registered overdose deaths. The researchers add that the increase may be partly attributable to improved registration. Just over half of 2016’s overdose deaths were accidental. The rest involved suicide, or an overdose as the result of psychiatric or behavioral problems, according to the researchers.

The researchers found that the use of ecstasy, amphetamine, and cocaine increased slightly between 2014 and 2016. Cannabis is still the most commonly used drug, though cannabis use did not increase in this period. Over 1 percent of Dutch adults smoke cannabis daily, and 6.6 percent have used the drug at least once.

NL Times NL

Cannabis will be a major food trend in 2018. Here’s why.

Spoiler alert for those attending the Winter Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday in San Francisco: There are no cannabis edibles on the trade-show floor. Cannabis cuisine is not the subject of any plenary panel.

In November, the Fancy Food Show’s parent, the Specialty Food Association (SPA), ranked cannabis number eight of the top-10 food trends to watch in 2018.

“As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage will increase,” the SPA’s Trendspotter Panel wrote last November. “Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats and beverages with a little something extra.”

Nielsen is vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Innovation, an Emeryville food, and beverage development agency. She’s attending the Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday at Moscone Center. As a member of the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotters — an expert panel comprised of marketers, journalists, and other tastemakers — she’ll roam the Fancy Food Show trade-show floor looking for new and innovative products. There are no cannabis edibles at this year’s Fancy Food Show, but the SPA’s Trendspotters won’t have to go far to find them.

There are five retail cannabis stores reachable via short walk, taxi or rideshare. And many of the edibles on sale in these stores look like they might have sneaked over from the show.

Read more at GreenState

Ayahuasca: The Hallucinogen That Blows Your Mind

The first thing you should know about drinking ayahuasca is that it’s going to make you puke your brains out. That’s usually the first thing that anyone who has ever taken it will tell you. But once you get past that, they say, you will experience a high so deep and emotionally enlightening that your outlook on the universe will change forever.

Ayahuasca comes from two words from the Quechua, a South American tribe based primarily in the Andes: “Aya,” meaning spirit, and “Huasca,” meaning vine or rope. The Quechua call it the “vine of the soul” or “creeping spirits of the dead.” When you drink ayahuasca tea, you see the kind of powerful hallucinations akin to what one would see on LSD. Those who have taken ayahuasca report experiencing out-of-body experiences, “spiritual flights,” and powerful hallucinations. In some cases, they swear they’ve even experienced telepathy.

While some researchers have suggested that ayahuasca could potentially be used to treat those struggling with PTSD or substance abuse, there’s not much evidence to support its therapeutic benefits. In fact, ayahuasca has also been shown to have adverse effects for those struggling with mental health issues, particularly if they’re undiagnosed, as it could potentially trigger psychosis. Following the death of 24-year-old New Zealand student Matthew Dawson-Clarke last year, ayahuasca retreats have also garnered their fair share of negative media attention.

Read more at Mens Health

Magic Mushrooms: Treating Depression Without Dulling Emotions

Treating depression can be challenging not only because some depression types are treatment-resistant, but also because existing therapies have a range of unwanted side effects.

A new study — which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) in the United Kingdom — suggests that magic mushrooms could treat depression while avoiding these side effects.

Participants felt ’emotionally reconnected’

In the first study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, 20 people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression that conventional treatment had not alleviated participated in two dosing sessions with the magic mushroom compound.

“Based on the present results, we propose that psilocybin with psychological support is a treatment approach that potentially revives emotional responsiveness in depression, enabling patients to reconnect with their emotions.”

‘Mystical experience’ improves efficacy

The second paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, examined whether or not the quality of the psychedelic experience was linked with the success of the treatment.

The study revealed that the more strongly the participants felt this experience, the better was their mental health in the long-term.

Depressive symptoms subsided, and the mental benefits lasted for weeks after the treatment of participants who reported a strong mystical experience.

Read more at Medical News Today

The Plant Used To Make Cocaine Could Become The Next Superfood

Henry Ruiz rubs the small green leaves between the fingers of his right hand – and then looks out across the valley where one of the world’s most reviled crops is ruffled by a warm breeze.

“We have been caught up in the mistaken belief that we are part of the cocaine manufacture process when we are not,” he says. “We have our own natural plant, but the man has found another use for it and we have lost out as a result.”

The Colombian government’s determination to obliterate coca is not in doubt, particularly in the wake of US pressure to address the recent boom in cocaine production. Despite efforts to tackle the problem, there was an increase of 52 percent in coca growth from 2015 to 2016.

“Coca is very rich in nutrients,” says Ruiz. “It’s important to see how we can use it for other uses than cocaine. We can prepare organic liquid fertilizers, insecticides, and we can use it to make flour. We know the magical and beneficial properties of coca, and it’s about applying this to your family and communities. We are guardians of the coca leaf.”

Research by Harvard University scientists into the coca leaf’s beneficial properties, suggests that compared to 50 other Latin American vegetables, coca leaves are higher in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and riboflavin. In the summer of 2016, the Colombian government issued, for the first time ever, a permit in Cauca that allows the purchase, transport, and stocking of coca leaves, with the objective of industrializing the product.

Read more at The Essential Daily Briefing

Marijuana Sales Begin In San Francisco

Marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco have begun selling recreational pot for the first time, joining many other cities in California.

Six dispensaries confirmed Saturday that they’re selling recreational marijuana. They all received their state licenses to sell on Friday.

One of them, Apothecarium, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local politicians and even offered a 20% discount for people who brought their mothers.

Sales began nearly a week ago in other parts of the state including West Hollywood, Santa Ana, San Diego and Berkeley.

Los Angeles Times

Cannabis Is Now Legal in California

California has now joined a number of states changing their approach to marijuana, which marks exciting times for national drug reform. If you’re over the age of 21, it is now legal to grow up to six plants and possess up to an ounce (!) on your person.

While the state’s residents have already been celebrating the news, tracking down a spot to purchase your recreational weed may prove a little difficult in these early days.

However, this may not indicate the end of drug dealers pedaling marijuana, as taxes are expected to raise the retail cost of the pot up to 70 percent higher than the street price. Nonetheless, It’s a very, very happy new year for Californians.

Papermag

Mike Tyson Is Building a 40-Acre California Weed Resort

Mike Tyson has been a boxer, an actor, a monologuist, and an animated detective, but now it looks like the former heavyweight champion wants to take a bite out of California’s new legal weed game.

According to the Blast, Tyson and two business partners—Robert Hickman and Jay Strommen—have plans to build a massive “cannabis resort” on 40 acres of desert land in California City. The trio broke ground on the property back in December and are getting things rolling now that California has officially legalized marijuana.

It seems like the rest of the Mojave Desert land, though, will earn Tyson Ranch its “resort” title. The Beast reports that there will be “premium ‘glamping’ campgrounds and cabins” for people to stay in, an amphitheater for live music, and a factory for marijuana edibles.

The resort’s land isn’t far from Edwards Air Force Base, and the Blast reports that the ranch will be staffed mostly by veterans and will be committed to helping those in the armed forces, as CBD, a marijuana compound that won’t get you high, has been used to treat PTSD.

Read more at Vice

State’s First Opium Poppy Crop Harvest Under Way In Riverina

Across six top-secret locations in the Riverina and Central West, a historic harvest is underway.

Over 400 hectares of the state’s first-ever opium poppy crop is being stripped and chemically analyzed. Cootamundra mixed-farmer David Forsyth sowed 24 hectares of the plant in June.

“The alkaloid content was 3.6 percent, we thought we might do four, but it was a terrible season; cold and after sowing it didn’t rain for four months.”

Poppy crops grown on fertile soils by the best growers in Tasmania typically yield three tonnes per hectare and assay more than 3 percent.

The venture could return an estimated $100 million to NSW in the next decade. However, the global oversupply of opiate material put great pressure on Tasmanian growers last year, and the lackluster performance of the crop in Victoria, who legalized it in 2014, has reportedly seen a number of farmers ditching it altogether. But Mr. Forsyth still believes it has potential.

“We’re increasing and will do 38 hectares next year, I’ve learned a lot and couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife Janelle, my son Brendan and his wife Ruby,” he said.

The Border Mail

These States Are Likely To Legalize Marijuana In 2018

After four of five statewide marijuana legalization ballot initiatives were approved by voters in 2016, no additional states ended cannabis prohibition in 2017 (though New Hampshire did decriminalize possession of the drug and West Virginia allowed its medical use).

If marijuana policy advocates’ plans come to fruition in the new year, 2018 will bring about the first legalization laws passed by lawmakers; to date, all eight states to end cannabis prohibition did it through voter initiatives.

Here’s a look at the states that are most likely to enact marijuana reforms in 2018:

• Vermont
• New Jersey
• Michigan
• Oklahoma
• Utah
• Missouri
• Virginia

While Vermont and New Jersey are seen as most likely to pass marijuana legalization bills through their legislatures in 2018, advocates are also working to build momentum for bills to end prohibition in a number of other states next year. Among those are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois and Rhode Island, any or all of which could potentially send legalization legislation to their governor’s desks in the coming months.

Forbes

Province of Ontario Demands To Halt Weed Store Placement

During a special meeting of council on Dec. 15 ahead of the presentation of the city’s 2018 operating budget, the mayor delivered a motion that requests the province back off on naming certain cities as potential homes for these LCBO-like, weed selling stores before the municipalities themselves have had the opportunity to consult with their residents and figure out proper zoning for these stores.

As the province has previously shared, the sale of the drug will be done through a storage system similar to and managed by, the LCBO. As of now, the province’s booze distributor is in the process of meeting with municipalities that have been identified to be future homes for these cannabis stores.

According to Mayor Henry, he met with officials from the LCBO, Municipal Affairs, and the Attorney General’s Office ahead of the regional council meeting on Dec. 13 to discuss the potential location, along with other questions the city has raised pertaining to the issue of legalization.

The Oshawa mayor has also previously raised concerns about the impacts on people’s health and wellbeing who live in apartments with shared ventilation systems, or how people smoking weed in their backyards will impact those around them who may choose not to smoke.

“There are far too many unanswered questions,” said Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki. “We need a lot of these questions that are asked in this motion to be answered before we can move forward.”

Read the full article at The Oshawa Express

Are Magic Mushrooms Next On The List Of Legalized Drugs?

Citing the benefits of widespread marijuana reform throughout the United States, a handful of activists are now mounting a campaign to push for the legalization of psychedelic mushrooms.

As reported by The Guardian:

Kevin Saunders, a mayoral candidate for the city of Marina, just south of the San Francisco Bay, has filed a proposal that would exempt adults over the age of 21 from any penalties over possessing, growing, selling or transporting psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms.

If he can get 365,880 voter signatures by the end of April 2018, the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative will be placed on the statewide ballot.

A profound magic mushroom experience helped Saunders get over a “debilitating five-year heroin addiction” in 2003 when he was 32. “I got to the root of why I made a conscious decision to become a heroin addict; I’ve been clean almost 15 years.”

The study has since been verified by sufferers all over the country who tell their stories on Web forums. The Atlantic reports that one contributor wrote that he has been taking a preventative dose every 60 days for more than four years now, and he’s spent “the vast majority of the last four years completely pain-free.”

Read more at PersonalLiberty

Illegal Opium Trade Thrives Across Arunachal Pradesh

Guwahati: The flourishing illegal opium cultivation in eastern Arunachal Pradesh has become a major area of concern for security agencies, with the state government miserably failing to tackle this menace. The drug mafia, with some help from Naga rebels, continues to call the shots in the frontier state, where people are reluctant to give up the practice of poppy farming in absence of any alternative for their economic survival.

It is significant than that Arunachal Pradesh tops the list of states with illegal poppy cultivation.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in its last report of 2015 claims to have destroyed poppy fields spread over 399 acres in eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

But as per NGOs, the state still has around 10,000 hectares of opium fields and the annual yield of opium is around 100 tonnes, an average of 10 kg a hectare.

For NCB, opium cultivation in eastern Arunachal Pradesh has become an eyesore. Despite the regular destruction of poppy fields by the authorities, a large section of people is still not ready to give up the practice. This is a huge challenge in the fight against drug smuggling.

According to the bureau officials, apart from Lohit and Anjaw districts, which share borders with Myanmar and China, there are reports of poppy cultivation from Changlang, Longding, Upper Siang and Tirap districts too.

Read more at The Asian Age

Use of CBD Oil Has Doubled in the UK in One Year

A trade organization in the United Kingdom that oversees the rapidly expanding cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp market, has published a study that shows the use of CBD oil in the U.K. has doubled in a single year.

The Cannabis Trades Association U.K.’s (CTAUK) figures reveal 250,000 people are now using CBD oil to treat their health conditions. CTAUK added that the number of users is up from 125,000 last year, with approximately 1,000 new users each month.

In October 2016, the U.K. government recognized the medicinal value of CBD, stating the cannabinoid has “restoring, correcting, or modifying” properties. This admission has allowed suppliers to sell CBD by obtaining a medicinal license, which is a lengthy and strict process. Many retailers have been able to circumvent the process by selling CBD products as food supplements.

Most recently, the public debate around medical cannabis in the U.K. has seen a lot of attention, with a bill to legalize going through its first parliamentary reading Oct. 10 unopposed. That same day, a protest incited by a member of parliament and cannabis activist Paul Flynn took place in front of the Parliament building in London.

More of this news at Marijuana.com

First Big Ayahuasca Study Shows Promising Early Results

Ayahuasca is a potent psychedelic that’s recently come into vogue among hipsters backpacking around South America.

The Nature journal Scientific Reports has just published a new piece of research on ayahuasca, making it the largest and most authoritative scientific study on the matter to date. The findings suggest this Amazonian “Shaman’s Brew” might be linked to improved everyday well-being, and potentially offer a treatment for alcoholism and depression.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Exeter in the UK sifted through the Global Drug Survey data of over 96,000 people worldwide and found 527 ayahuasca users. This group reported higher general well-being, along with less problematic alcohol and drug use, over the previous 12 months than other respondents in the survey.

“Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine, and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment.”

Read more at IFL Science

Police: Zombie Drug’ Flakka May Have Hit Winnipeg Streets

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service says officers are “very aware” of the drug and have made what could be their first seizure of the synthetic stimulant. Testing is pending.

Flakka, which resembles finely ground glass, is chemically similar to “bath salts,” a term used to describe a number of recreational designer drugs (the name derives from instances in which the drugs were sold disguised as true bath salts).

It is most commonly snorted or injected, according to Dr. Marc Myer, medical director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Minnesota.

“It gives an effect that includes euphoria and stimulation that usually lasts for one to two hours,” Myer said. “It can also cause undue side effects like psychosis, homicidal behavior, suicidal behavior, and that makes it difficult to treat these patients.”

Flakka emerged in the southern United States in 2013 and has been making its way into more mainstream drug use, Myer says. Florida has seen a significant surge in the drug’s popularity in recent years.

Flakka emerged in the southern United States in 2013 and has been making its way into more mainstream drug use, Myer says. Florida has seen a significant surge in the drug’s popularity in recent years.

Read more on CBC News