Legality of cannabis

The government should replace tobacco tax with cannabis tax

The case is building for the legalisation of cannabis.

Of course, once things are legal you can tax them, and as NZ has a dwindling supply of readily addicted tobacco users to pay wads of tax they should look at the potential for revenue from a cannabis tax.

Is marijuana the new sin-tax gusher for the states? It sure looks that way.

In November, voters in five US states will decide on whether to allow recreational use of the drug, while citizens in four other states have the option of legalising medical marijuana.

Unlike the fierce battles of the past over decriminalisation, resistance by governors, law-enforcement groups and state medical associations is down (though not entirely gone). The ability to collect mountains of new taxes could be a reason, judging from the experience of Colorado, where voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 and legalised its recreational use in 2012.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, Colorado collected $157 million in marijuana taxes, licenses and fees, up 53 percent from a year earlier and almost four times what it has collected in alcohol excise taxes this year. Thanks to marijuana smokers, Colorado’s public schools will receive $42 million, and local governments will get $10 million of the amount collected.   Read more »

Legalisation does NOT lead to an increase in young people smoking weed

The Washington Post reports:

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado’s teenagers are essentially unchanged in the years since the state’s voters legalized marijuana in 2012, new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows.

In 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That rate is slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from the 25 percent who used marijuana in 2009, before legalization. The survey was based on a random sample of 17,000 middle and high school students in Colorado.

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally,” the Colorado health department said in a news release.

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Medical marijuana approved for one case. If it can be approved for one, why not all?

There is good news and bad news on the medicinal cannabis front.

The good news is that one woman has approval from Pharmac for funding to use Sativex in an attempt to help her; the bad news is that no one else has.

A woman who may have otherwise died from her regular severe seizures has been granted approval for medical marijuana funding.

Alisha Butt, 20, has the mentality of a toddler and is unable to speak.

Her seizures had presented a huge problem for specialists who were unable to adequately treat her, leading to the possibility she could end up in a coma from one and die.

But thanks to medicinal marijuana extract Sativex, Alisha is able to live a more comfortable life.

“Since being on Sativex for over 4 months, she has shown a great improvement,” mum Sushila Butt said.   Read more »

$30 million for cannabis research at University of Sydney

It is ironic that in New Zealand we need ministerial approval for the application of existing medical cannabis to desperate families of suffering patients.

Meanwhile in Australia a massive grant of $30 million has been given to Sydney University to push Australia forward as a world leader in cannabis research for medical treatments.

Sydney University scientists will be given more than $30 million to research the medical applications of cannabis, the largest research donation in the university’s history.

The $33.7 million donation, from Barry and Joy Lambert, is among the largest research donations to any university in Australian history.

The Lambert Initiative will bring together three of the university’s leading researchers who argue cannabis is the next frontier for medical discovery and a potential treatment for obesity, schizophrenia and drug addiction.

“This is something that is going to reverberate around the world,” Premier Mike Baird said. “We are now leading this country and, in many respects, the world”.

Mr Lambert – a BRW rich-lister who made his fortune in financial planning – said the family was inspired to make the donation after his granddaughter Katelyn found relief from epileptic seizures through cannabis-based medicine.

“When you get to the end of the road you try desperate measures,” his wife Joy said. “I never imagined she would be able to go to preschool”.   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.”

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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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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Politie Delft

Photo: Politie Delft

A Roof Without Snow Means Reefer Will Grow

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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 »

Cannabis is a gateway drug? Yeah, Nah

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Opponents of cannabis law reform always, always state that cannabis is a gateway drug and should be restricted, banned, and remain criminalised because the evil wed might allow people to use other more severe drugs.

Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this, it is just stated as fact.

A new study in the US however categorically proves that cannabis is not a gateway drug.

New studies show that marijuana legalization has not enticed more teens to smoke pot or led to harder drug experimentation. One argument against legalization of marijuana has been concern over whether it would cause many teenagers and young adults to become pot smokers and be a path to dangerous drug use. Thus far, this fear has not become reality.    Read more »

Medicinal Cannabis coming to Australia

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As more states and countries around the world start legalising cannabis the pressure is going to come on John Key to look at legalisation of cannabis sooner rather than later.

Tony Abbott is a convert and his government is moving to legislate for the introduction of medicinal cannabis.

The federal government would be given oversight over the production and distribution of medical cannabis under new legislation to make the make the drug available to patients with chronic pain.

The push to legalise medical cannabis is gathering pace, with Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, chairman of the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, now finalising a bill that is set to be introduced into Parliament next month.

Supporters of legalised medical cannabis have been buoyed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s strong public support for the legalisation of the drug for medical use.

“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” Mr Abbott wrote in a letter to 2GB radio host Alan Jones, dated August 23.

“If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose … and is being administered safely there should be no question of its legality.”

Jones, who has been campaigning in support of medical cannabis, read Mr Abbott’s letter on air earlier this month.

Senator Di Natale, a former GP, is also pushing for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to create a special category for the drug so that it can be available with a doctor’s prescription. The TGA currently lists cannabis as a prohibited substance.   Read more »