8 April 2015
Loren W
Melbourne Australia

In Australia in order for cannabis to get re-legalized / have the prohibition removed, even for medicinal use, the TGA (therapeutic good administration) needs to be addressed. The TGA are the ones responsible for keeping Australians ‘safe’ from poisons and medicines. These are all addressed in ‘schedules’ based on the drugs/ poisons in question. Cannabis and Hemp (industrial hemp) have to date remained in schedule 9.

However on 19 March 2015 (just before the Easter breaks), the TGA de-scheduled one component of cannabis (CBD) from schedule 9 to schedule 4. See the paper HERE  This leaves room to obtain it (CBD) legally from June 2015. However, cannabis is made up of 483 compounds, and at least 85 cannabinoids, (CBD and THC are 2) and these all work together, when taken by humans it helps to medicate / balance our own endocannabinoid system. Also, when the CBD is taken in high doses (with the rest of the cannabinoids) in cannabis via oils like (RSO) Rick Simpson Oil the CBD level is higher but so is the THC, shown to successfully treat skin and internal cancers (and many other ailments such as seizures in epileptics, PTSD, etc), the oil takes time to build up resistance in humans if taken orally. Unfortunately CBD alone (like hemp seed oil) is a nice product the medicinal effects are much less active and able to treat far fewer ailments. It is easy to be cynical to say this does not go far enough, (it doesn’t) and will not help cancer patients (it won’t), or seizure in children (it won’t) but it does open the door, to arguments around medicinal use that law enforcement will unfortunately have to contend with, as part of cannabis (CBD) has been effectively  decriminalized. Extracting the THC whilst maintaining the CBD levels is not an easy process, so medicinal users will have an argument (yet to be tested in court) that they needed the CBD (sch. 4) but also the THC  (sch. 9) for the CBD to work.

Victoria – In Victoria submissions are due soon for a paper by the VLRC (Victoria Law Reform Commission) looking specifically at how making medicinal cannabis available for patients would work especially within the scope of the TGA especially in view of the recent amendments to the TGA. Public submissions are open and the paper his publically available HERE 

NSW- In NSW, testing has been promised from December 2014 yet failed to being) on medicinal cannabis but this testing will take 5 years, there is controversy there as well as the cannabis being used for testing purposes is believed to be from China, raising concerns over testing and pesticides as well as why Australian growers (some already licensed in Australia) were not used. There seems to be some confusing as the TGA in this case are the ones allowing the cannabis to be used but nothing else. It is unclear what the next steps are to even get the testing started. ACT– the ACT is currently looking to be the sole provider of medical cannabis in Australia (much like Tasmania is for opiates) and in the meantime looking of the NSW trials. QLD- dealing with deaths of people taking fake cannabis are also looking to some movement of the NSW trials. Commonwealth – With 2 cannabis companies already on the ASX the commonwealth is being courted to relax some policies, so these and other pharmaceutical companies can access the Australia population sometimes exclusively and even (or especially)  if cannabis remains illegal.

Embassy Headlines, Issue 146

2015 April 10

Dealing in Health [Parasite]

There is an industry built on your health that is an attractive investment for the dealers in pharmaceuticals and insurance.

Mixing your health with business investment may be good in principle but it creates an opportunity to profit on the basic fear of being unable to live within your means due to your poor health. Either way you will pay.

Home grown health insurance provides peace of mind for the whole family.

The HEMP Embassy Headlines are a selection of recent articles from news services and media sources primarily concerning Cannabis issues, the consequences of prohibition and the challenges for law reform. Here are the selected headlines for this week.

Chopper cannabis raids destroy life-saving medicine [EchoNet Daily]

Good on you Michael Balderstone from the HEMP Embassy for exposing the decades-long police exaggeration of the results of the cannabis-eradication helicopter raids in the northern rivers. As if any cannabis plant growing will turn out to be a heavy headed female, not eaten or stolen by animals. The helicopter raids have just destroyed potential medicine for epileptic kids, pain sufferers and all kind of cancer victims etc. The three medicinal workshops in Nimbin this year have been so well attended.

Medicinal Cannabis – Issues Paper [Victorian Law Reform Comission]

The Victorian Government has asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review and report on options for legislative change to allow people to be treated with medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances. The scope of the review is determined by the terms of reference provided by the Attorney-General, the Hon Martin Pakula MP, on 19 December 2014. The Commission has not been asked whether cannabis should be legalised for recreational purposes. The Commission has released an issues paper that provides background information about the benefits and risks of using cannabis for medicinal purposes, the experience of other countries that allow people to use it, and the interconnecting Commonwealth and Victorian laws that could be affected if Victoria introduces its own scheme.

Man Who Grows Marijuana Illegally To Help Sick People: ‘I Will Keep Doing It’ [Inquisitr]

A man from the NSW Central Coast near Sydney, Australia, who is illegally growing marijuana which he supplies to people with anything from cancer to epilepsy, said he will “keep going it” despite the risk he runs of prison time. “What is wrong with growing something that is helping people, we have a team of 15 growers, who supply those who cannot. It’s not about making money,” he said, “yes, I grow it but more importantly, I help set up people to help themselves.”

‘Conservative warlord’ Barry O’Sullivan backs medical cannabis [Sydney Morning Herald]

Self-described “conservative warlord” and Coalition Senator Barry O’Sullivan has thrown his support behind a push to legalise medical cannabis, and expressed confidence Federal Parliament would support the reform. Mr O’Sullivan, a former drug squad detective, said his “mind had opened up considerably” over the course of a Senate inquiry on proposals drafted by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale. Senator Di Natale’s bill would create an independent body of experts, the Office of Medicinal Cannabis, which would license commercial growers and determine how cannabis could be prescribed and dispensed.

A fresh outlook needed on ice [The Australian]

The ice problem could be reduced if we took seriously the task of reducing our growing inequality of access to wealth and resources. Poverty is an important risk factor in people turning to drugs. There are things we can do to reduce our ice problem. But these entail the community insisting politicians understand the need for a fresh and realistic look at the unacceptable costs of prohibition.

Alcohol a bigger problem than ice, says Jeff Kennett [Sydney Morning Herald]

Kennett and Wodak are spot on here, and have obviously made a dispassionate and rational case considering the statistics. Alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug, and education, as is the case with all drugs, is the key to reducing the harms it causes.

Australia’s drug policy led the world 30 years ago. Now politics holds us back [The Guardian]

On the 30th anniversary of a drug summit that led to the adoption of harm minimisation in drug policy, it’s disconcerting to note that this field is now more politicised than ever. Three decades after the drug summit we can be grateful for what was achieved. But with almost every family in Australia touched by someone with a serious alcohol or drug problem, there is an urgent need to revitalise the national policy making approach. The drinks industry is still powerful enough to be able to overcome almost every attempt to reduce alcohol’s national toll. The economics of the illicit drug market ensures steady expansion with new and more dangerous products. Meanwhile the politics of illicit drugs ensures that dysfunctional policies continue, overly focused on law enforcement accompanied by a languishing drug treatments system.

Marijuana Legalization Efforts in California Unify for 2016 [EIN Presswire]

Americans For Policy Reform (AFPR), the group behind the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2016 (MCLR), is pleased to announce a collaboration with the cannabis freedom lawyers behind the California Artisan Cannabis Initiative, constitutional and criminal defense attorneys Omar Figueroa and Heather L. Burke. “AFPR has been working hard to bring people together for 2016,” said the group’s director, John Lee. “We know the key to success in advocacy is group unity. The last thing we need is a repeat of Prop 19.” MCLR was developed in 2014 as the first “open-source” method for advocates and experts everywhere to contribute directly to the language of California’s marijuana legalization law. Thousands contributed to the first draft of the initiative. The draft was then “cleaned up” and formatted by the law firm of Churchwell White LLP, known for its focus on sound public policy. The MCLR team then worked with the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) for several months to ensure the language would have the intended interpretation.

Mature debate on cannabis use is long overdue [Belfast Telegraph]

Actuaries are not normally considered cool. The image is more of desiccated calculating machines – analysing risks, estimating losses, setting the levels of insurance payments. Which makes it all the more remarkable that the latest edition of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries, carries an accurate and insightful article on cannabis. The magazine is concerned to correct a misunderstanding. It seems that many US actuaries dealing with life insurance have been assuming that the risk factors associated with tobacco and cannabis are broadly similar. Not so, says the official magazine of their profession, definitively. “Recreational marijuana users enjoy better physical fitness and get more exercise than non-users” and “have even been shown to have higher IQs… The tide is turning. Life underwriters would be wise to be at the front end of this curve, and not stubbornly digging in their heels to the detriment of their products.” These basic facts are reasonably well-known, if rarely acknowledged by anyone in a position to effect change. There is no evidence from any art or part of the world that cannabis is as dangerous as alcohol or cigarettes, products which the authorities are patting themselves on the back for discouraging but which are widely, legally available. Anybody out there who imbibes the occasional glass of wine or swallows a pint on a regular basis or smokes a rollie now and again is taking a bigger risk with their health than a regular cannabis user. Fact.

Egypt to Legalise Hash To Balance Budget? [Cairo Scene]

Spreading like wildfire across the news this morning is a statement by the Chairman of Cigarette Dealers Association, suggesting the legalisation of hash in Egypt. Egyptians are finally waking up to the realisation that Egypt would benefit from the legalisation of the use and trade of hash. Spreading virally online this morning is a statement made by the Chairman of the Cigarette Dealers Association in Cairo and Giza, Osama Salama, who believes that the legalisation would be a fast and effective way to reduce the state budget deficit within a few years.According to Al-Masry Al Youm, Salama claims, “The government spends LE 1 billion every year to fight it, only managing to uncover around 15 percent of the total traded amount.” Furthermore the illegal trading of hashish amounts to LE 42 billion annually, constituting 2.5% of the national income. Salama suggests a 10% tax on hash that will increase to 50% percent over 10 years. As it stands there are several scientific reports that provide evidence that there are health benefits associated with marijuana and its concentrated derivative hash, which is often used as a form of treatment for cancer patients struggling with chemotherapy. At the same time countries who have legalised marijuana have generated millions in state revenue, and if Egypt followed suit it would be able to combat the hash market monopoly held by countries like Afghanistan, Morocco, and Lebanon.

Discover Himalaya’s Outlawed Marijuana Fields [Time]

Nestled in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 10,000 ft. (3,000 m), entire villages and communities subsist on illegal marijuana production. These villages are far from any paved roads and are so remote that distances are measured in hours of walking. Across thousands of acres of public and private land, villagers grow cannabis which is then turned into a high-quality resin know as charas. “On the global market, charas is sold as a high quality hashish,” says Italian photographer Andrea de Franciscis, who has been documenting these communities for the past three years. “The farmers who produce the costly resin get very little in return and struggle to survive against always tougher legislation.”

Drugs squad accidentally gets locals high while burning marijuana mountain [Telegraph UK]

An Indonesian police force might want to rethink its drugs disposal policy after accidentally helping residents of one district get high as kite. Destroying tonnes of marijuana in a big bonfire proved to be as reckless as it sounds as those witnessing the event started inhaling the fumes. Journalists and locals began feeling dizzy as police officers, who were wearing masks, destroyed tonnes of marijuana stacked up in a field. The fumes drifted into homes located near to the police station in West Jakarta, Indonesian news website reports. “I got a headache because I wasn’t wearing a mask,” said one journalist.

Is marijuana a gateway drug? [The Economist]

It will be years before the full effects of legalisation are known—after all, an academic debate continues about the impact of the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s and 30s. But the bigger picture suggests that there is little reason to panic. In the past few years, the number of monthly marijuana users in America has steadily risen, from 14.4m in 2007 to 18.9m in 2012. If marijuana were a gateway to harder drugs, one might expect those drugs to become more popular too. Yet during the same period, consumption of most other substances actually fell. The number of monthly cocaine users dipped from 2.1m to 1.7m and the number of people using methamphetamine (“crystal meth”) fell from 530,000 to 440,000. Heroin use has been going up, but the gateway drug there seems to be prescription painkillers. Mr Christie’s worries are misplaced.

Common cholesterol drug stimulates the same receptors as marijuana [Science Daily]

If you want the benefits of medical marijuana without the ‘unwanted side effects’ of cannabis, new research should leave you on a high note. According to a research, fenofibrate, also known by the brand name Tricor, may benefit a wide range of health issues, such as pain, appetite stimulation, nausea, as well as immune and various psychiatric and neurological conditions.

Can Weed Really Help Addicts Recover from Alcoholism and Hard Drug Use? [Vice]

Weed is having something of a moment. It seems all of my friends who used to spend their weekends drowning themselves at the bar have given up the bottle for the kush. And although the renaissance may have started out west, it’s rapidly spreading to the east coast. Jersey already has a medical marijuana program, and New York just releasedregulations for its own slated to start next year. With pot’s rising popularity, many people are wondering if we will see a corresponding decline in binge drinking and hard drug use. A study published last fall in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that states with legal medical marijuana had a 25 percent reduction in opiate overdose deaths. As a strong proponent of alternative recovery methods, I was eager to investigate. The internet is rife with blog posts andmessage boards about those who benefit from marijuana as an alternative to alcohol, or credit medical cannabis in their recovery from hard drugs and alcoholism. But despite legalization becoming an increasingly mainstream idea, stigmas have stuck around, and saying you’re getting clean by toking up can catch people off guard as much as announcing you’ve gotten sober through Satanism. To learn more about weed’s use in recovery I spoke with Amanda Reiman, PhD MSW, author of the 2009 study “Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol and Other Drugs” in Harm Reduction Journal and manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance. After completing fellowships with the National Institute for Health, Reiman now continues her research on the effectiveness of pot as a replacement for hard drugs and alcohol.

There’s Good News for Couples Who Smoke Weed Together [Connections Mic]

Teens in their parents’ basements, gaggles of friends at music festivals, the stressed-out worker alone in their apartment — smoking weed has now extended to seemingly limitless environments, as the drug gains more and more acceptance and takes on an added sheen of medicinal respectability. But marijuana’s increasingly widespread use isn’t limited to solo acts. Turns out that partners who are both inclined to light up may find weed brings with it several relationship benefits. While companies race to find the next Viagra and singles turn to alcohol to act as a social lubricant, the ideal substance to help our connections along might be sitting right in front of us. Here’s why.

Hemp Based Batteries Could Change The Way We Store Energy Forever [Hemp for Future]

David Mitlin, Ph.D., explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered. Unlike today’s rechargeable batteries, which sip up energy over several hours, supercapacitors can charge and discharge within seconds. But they normally can’t store nearly as much energy as batteries, an important property known as energy density. One approach researchers are taking to boost supercapacitors’ energy density is to design better electrodes. Mitlin’s team has figured out how to make them from certain hemp fibers — and they can hold as much energy as the current top contender: graphene. “Our device’s electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices,” Mitlin says. “The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than graphene.” The race toward the ideal supercapacitor has largely focused on graphene — a strong, light material made of atom-thick layers of carbon, which when stacked, can be made into electrodes. Scientists are investigating how they can take advantage of graphene’s unique properties to build better solar cells, water filtration systems, touch-screen technology, as well as batteries and supercapacitors. The problem is it’s expensive.

Government Declares Ice Most Dangerous Drug That Isn’t Alcohol [SBS Backburner]

The federal government has launched a new task force to counter the population health effects of methamphetamine addiction, which it says is the most dangerous drug apart from “good old-fashioned grog.” Truckies across the country have come forward to comment on the task force, noting that if delivery truck drivers didn’t use methamphetamine Australia would suffer a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables. “How do you think all those healthy greens get to the friggen supermarket?” asked one frustrated driver. “It’s hardworking meth heads like me, driving them around at all hours so your precious kids can get their eight servings a day. “Getting rid of ice might lower one disease burden, but just you wait til this nation’s sleepy truckers get slack on hauling apples and broccoli. Scurvy’s gonna go through the bloody roof.”




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