marijuana

Cannabis going mainstream, front cover of National Geographic

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If you ever needed confirmation that what I have been saying about cannabis reform is true then one of the most conservative magazines out there, National Geographic has featured cannabis on their front cover and the feature article explores in depth the changing nature of the legality of cannabis.

There’s nothing new about cannabis, of course. It’s been around humankind pretty much forever.

In Siberia charred seeds have been found inside burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. The Chinese were using cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. Marijuana is deeply American too—as American as George Washington, who grew hemp at Mount Vernon. For most of the country’s history, cannabis was legal, commonly found in tinctures and extracts.

Then came Reefer Madness. Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth. The Killer Weed. The Gateway Drug. For nearly 70 years the plant went into hiding, and medical research largely stopped. In 1970 the federal government made it even harder to study marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule I drug—a dangerous substance with no valid medical purpose and a high potential for abuse, in the same category as heroin. In America most people expanding knowledge about cannabis were by definition criminals.   Read more »

Dunne shameless in the face of hard facts

The minister behind the disappearance of synthetic cannabis from Kiwi shop shelves says he’s not surprised by new research showing the ban halved the number of users seeking medical treatment.

But Peter Dunne, who drove 2013’s Psychoactive Substances Act through Parliament, is concerned the study’s findings may be clouded by smokers lying about their cannabis use, claiming to be under the influence of synthetic products that were then legal, like Kronic.

The Psychoactive Substances Act dramatically reduced the number of ‘legal highs’ on shop shelves by requiring manufacturers to prove their product was safe to use before they could sell it. It also cut the number of outlets able to sell the products, from thousands to about 100.

In 2014, a Bill passed under urgency banned the remaining products the 2013 Act failed to catch.

But despite its limitations, the 2013 Act had a huge impact on mental health – at least in Dunedin, where the study was carried out. Read more »

Cannabis can slow cancer growth

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Maybe this will help move towards legalisation of cannabis…yet another useful and beneficial side effect of what is proving to be a wonder plant.

Israeli scientists have found that cannabis can help slow the growth of some cancerous tumours, according to the preliminary results of new research.

Already known for its therapeutic effects on several diseases, researchers at the Technion Institute in Haifa decided to consider whether the plant, in all its forms, could have counteractive properties as well, Haaretz reported on Thursday.   Read more »

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Who knew? Apparently weed is kosher

It might be Easter for us Christians but it is also Passover for Jews.

But there is some solace…apparently, according to a rabbi, cannabis is kosher.

As we come into Passover, which starts tonight and runs through April 11, our nation’s sizeable Jewish population will be shedding anything made with grains, thus ruling out beer and most spirits. That means if you’re one of the faithful with a heavy thirst for the tipple, it’s wine headaches all week long. There is, however, one way they can kick back and unwind before digging into some matzo: by getting high.

Ben Greenberg is a New York City-based rabbi who has the distinction—and added authority—of having been the head of a Denver-based synagogue while the state was passing, and enacting, the law that famously legalized marijuana.

“There are really two different layers of prohibitions during Passover,” Greenberg explained by phone. “One of them is specific to the Ashkenazic Jewish community, and the other one is the biblical prohibition, which is that you can’t have any leaven—no grains. The additional layer of prohibition is that European Jews, several hundred years ago, added that you can’t have anything that might look like a grain. So they don’t eat beans or rice on Passover.”

Uh-oh. So does this mean that the sticky buds of the cannabis plant fall under this category?   Read more »

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Not registered, apparently

Teacher aides don’t have to be registered.

Surely this puts kids at risk if you follow the line of Chris Hipkins and the Labour party.

One of the things they accuse charter schools of is placing kids at risk by not having to have registered teachers in the classrooms.

But it is ok at state schools to have unregistered people in classrooms…dealing drugs.

An Auckland primary school has suspended two teacher aides after they were snapped exchanging cannabis in the staff room.

But the school says the pair will keep their jobs and officials are yet to contact police, raising Ministry of Education concerns.  Read more »

Medicinal Cannabis – Of course the data is limited, that’s what happens when you ban something for decades

Peter Dunne is whining that data is limited on the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis.

Let me tell you this, there is more evidence on medicinal cannabis than there has ever been on synthetics…and parliamentarians rushed to try and ban those substances on flimsy evidence which amounted to not much more than some outrage outside corner stores.

A government investigation into the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has found little evidence to support a wider review.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne called on the Ministry of Health to provide a report, amid growing domestic and international pressure to legalise the drug’s use among certain patients.

The report said although some research had found evidence was accumulating to show cannabinoids might be useful to treat some ailments, overall, data was limited.

“To date, clinical trials of unprocessed or partially-processed cannabis products have suffered from limited participant numbers and lack of data on long term effects.

“Results can’t be compared across trials because they have used different products in different patient groups,” the ministry said.

A 2013 review of trials on adults with HIV or AIDS concluded evidence for the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabis was lacking.

But the report cited “recent developments” in Australia toward allowing the use of medicinal cannabis.

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A sensible first step, MinHealth to investigate medicinal cannabis

The Ministry of Health is set to look into the health benefits of medicinal cannabis.

An investigation into the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been carried out by the Ministry of Health.

Growing numbers of jurisdictions allow cannabis for medical use and the Government has come under pressure to re-examine its use here.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who oversaw New Zealand’s innovative regulations on so-called legal highs, asked officials to look into the issue.

“My office receives regular correspondence seeking legislative change … cannabis, I am told, is apparently the panacea for a plethora of ailments, some of which, sadly, are painfully debilitating,” Mr Dunne said.

“For those suffering from such ailments I have enormous sympathy … the evidence [supplied by officials], however, has been underwhelming.”

There is a problem in assessing cannabis.   Read more »

Is cannabis stronger now than in the days of the hippies?

Lots of people have lots of opinions on cannabis and whether or not today’s strains are stronger now than what the hippies used to smoke.

But is it a valid claim?

The Atlantic has an article that explains it all.

One of the strongest known strains of marijuana in the world is called Bruce Banner #3, a reference to the comic-book scientist whose alter ego is the Hulk. This is probably an appropriate nickname. With a THC concentration of 28 percent—THC is one of the key chemicals in marijuana—Bruce Banner #3 packs a punch. It’s something like five times as potent as what federal researchers consider to be the norm, according to a 2010 Journal of Forensic Sciences paper. High Times marveled in a review: “Who knows what you’ll turn into after getting down with Bruce?”

As marijuana goes increasingly mainstream—and, crucially, develops into big (and legal) business—more super-potent novelty strains are likely to crop up. Bruce Banner #3 is the marijuana industry’s answer to The End of History, an ultra-strong Belgian-style ale that the Scottish beer-maker Brewdog made in a specialty batch—which was then served in bottles inside taxidermied squirrels—in 2010. Its alcohol by volume was 55 percent. That’s way, way stronger than most beers. “It’s the end of beer, no other beer we don’t think will be able to get that high,” James Watt, one of the founders of Brewdog, told me when I visited the Brewdog headquarters in Scotland in 2010.

Yet three years later, another Scottish brewery had whipped up a batch of barley wine called Snake Venom that boasted higher than 67 percent alcohol by volume.

This is human nature. Or maybe it’s just capitalism. One person makes a superlative product, which prompts the next person to best them. Given the opportunity to try something extreme—the biggest, the strongest, the best, the craziest—plenty of people will go for it. But most people don’t pick Snake Venom as their typical pint. And Bruce Banner #3 probably is not representative of the average joint.

But what is?

For years, people have talked about increasing marijuana potency. The idea that pot is getting stronger—much stronger than the stuff that got passed around at Woodstock, for instance—is treated like conventional wisdom these days. Maybe it shouldn’t be.

“It’s fair to be skeptical,” said Michael Kahn, the president of Massachusetts Cannabis Research, a marijuana testing and research lab in New England. “Back then the predominant method for quantitation was gas chromatography, which is not quite appropriate for cannabinoid quantitation. This is because [it] heats up the test material before analysis, which also alters the chemical profile—including breaking down the THC molecule.”

Read more »

Weed-onomics

I see from the Herald today that there is a weed shortage in the South Island, which has driven up prices, classic supply/demand economics.

The Telegraph in the UK had a recent article about the economics of legalising cannabis.

How much is cannabis worth these days? According to the Institute for Economic and Research, up to £900m could be raised annually through taxation of regulated cannabis market.

Meanwhile £361 million is currently spent every year on policing and treating users of illegally traded and consumed cannabis.

It seems a lot to spend on punishing people for an activity most of us barely believe should be a crime any more. And that’s even before one factors in the potential benefit legalisation and regulation of cannabis could have for the UK exchequer.

Then, there is the job creation potential. In Colorado, which legalised marijuana at the beginning of 2014, 10,000 now work in the marijuana industry: growing and harvesting crops, working in dispensaries, and making and selling equipment. Crime has fallen: in the first three months after legalisation in Denver, the city experienced a 14.6 per cent drop in crime and specifically violent crime is down 2.4 per cent. Assaults were down by 3.7 per cent.

This reduction led to further savings and allowing stretched police forces to concentrate on more serious issues. Meanwhile, cannabis use by young people actually decreased, an uncomfortable fact for prohibitionists who argue that legalisation would simply encourage more teens to take up cannabis.

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Colorado awash with weed cash, state giving it back to taxpayers

Colorado has been so successful in implementing legal weed that it is awash with cash and the state is now giving it back to the taxpayers.

When voters in Colorado passed the amendment to make marijuana legal, one of the factors behind it was definitely financial gain.

With the government able to put a hefty tax on the sale of weed, they wouldn’t have to make as many cuts and could probably save a lot of money, however they didn’t expect to make so much.

It’s been reported by Associated Press that they have made so much cash that they are about to pass the limit of the amount of money they’re allowed to actually make from taxes. It means the taxpayers could be in line to receive a cut of the $50 million profits accumulated by the legitimate sale of marijuana.

The taxes were originally designated to be used on school construction and people selling the weed said they had ‘no problem’ paying taxes if it was going back into the area’s education services.

However, the ‘Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’ which was passed in 1992, states that Colorado cannot spend revenue if they grow faster than that of population growth and inflation, unless the people approve a change. This means that the citizens could be in line for an extra payday thanks to the pot business.

The local politicians though are hoping for a vote so that they can keep the cash. They’ve already estimated that they will make around $1 billion in a year from sales and have saved between $12 and $40 million in the law enforcement budget while focusing more time on criminal activity unrelated to marijuana.

A TABOR in New Zealand would certainly be welcome.

Meanwhile the Federal government is being obstructive with the new business.    Read more »