Current Issues

  • Pressure to loosen NHS guidelines on medical cannabis use is growing in the UK
  • The British Medical Journal warned that widespread use could lead to disaster 
  • The potential crisis was compared to the thalidomide scandal of the 50s and 60s

By GUY ADAMS FOR THE DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED: 24 November 2018 

Each of the 400 phone calls to the cannabis dispensaries followed a script. ‘Hi,’ said a female voice. ‘I’m eight weeks pregnant and feeling really nauseated. Are there any products recommended for morning sickness?’

In two-thirds of cases, the reply was: ‘Yes’.

Around half of those callers who’d received an affirmative answer were then advised to buy a specific ‘cure’ in a form they could eat. 

Just under 40 per cent were told to get it in a form that could be inhaled or smoked. Most of the remainder were offered tinctures or drinks.

The recommended cure in question? Marijuana. But far from being genuine requests for help from expectant mothers, the phone calls were part of a research project by the University of Colorado. 

The researchers were pretending to be pregnant to see how cannabis — legal for medical reasons in the U.S. state of Colorado since 2000 and fully legal since 2014 — was being dispensed. The answers they received offer a worrying insight into the booming medical marijuana industry.

‘After eight weeks [of pregnancy], everything should be good with consuming alcohol and weed,’ one dispensary assistant replied.

‘When I was pregnant and started to feel nauseous, I did not smoke [cannabis] more than two times a day,’ recommended the proprietor of another clinic.

‘Edible [marijuana] would not hurt the child,’ reassured another, telling the woman, wrongly, that something ‘going through your digestional tract’ will have no effect on an unborn child.

Of the 277 dispensaries that recommended cannabis as a cure for morning sickness, three-quarters then attempted to sell a version of the drug containing THC, the chemical that gives users a ‘high’.

Many also advised their pregnant patients to keep their consumption of this intoxicating drug secret from their doctor.

‘The doctor will probably just tell you that marijuana is bad for kids and try pushing pills on you,’ said one. ‘I do not know if the baby doctors are chill or not, [so] do not go stoned when you talk to them,’ warned another.

Perhaps those doctors had good reason for their reservations about cannabis. For the Colorado research paper, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology earlier this year, highlights cannabis as a matter of growing concern to medical practitioners across the world.

Increasingly, marijuana is being sold for medical reasons. Yet this ‘medical’ marijuana is very far from being the safe, natural healthcare product its often-rapacious suppliers would have us believe. 

In some circumstances, the product — which is becoming legal in growing numbers of countries, including Canada, the U.S. and most recently Britain in highly specific circumstances — can be dangerous and possibly fatal. Particularly when taken by pregnant women.

To blame is a simple fact: a multitude of studies over several years have shown all forms of cannabis to be ‘teratogenic’. Meaning that, like tobacco or excessive alcohol, they can harm a foetus.

The drug has been linked to a host of serious birth defects, including at least six life-threatening deformities.

They include two congenital heart problems; a neurological condition called anencephaly, in which a child is born with a large portion of the brain missing, often dying within hours; and the birth defect gastroschisis, where the intestines develop outside the body.

‘Babies exposed to marijuana in utero are at increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care units,’ says Torri Metz, a University of Utah professor who was among the Colorado study’s authors.

‘There are also concerns about possible long-term effects on the developing brain, impacting cognitive function and decreasing academic ability later in childhood.’

Which brings us to the situation in Britain, where there is pressure on the Government from an increasingly powerful cannabis lobby to loosen the NHS guidelines on medical cannabis use.

For complete story

Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.01099 bPublished online: 12 November 2018

Although medicinal cannabis can now be prescribed for CINV, high quality clinical trial evidence is required to determine its efficacy and safety

Access to medicinal cannabis in Australia is a rapidly evolving and controversial field that is relevant to clinicians across a range of medical disciplines. There is widespread community interest in allowing access to medicinal cannabis for a variety of unapproved indications, despite a lack of high level evidence of efficacy.1 Legal and regulatory constraints make this access challenging; however, state and federal governments have now passed legislation enabling prescription by medical practitioners of medicinal cannabis in defined circumstances.2 In recognition of the lack of high level evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis for indications including but not limited to cancer pain, refractory paediatric epilepsy and palliative care, combined with the lack of formalised teaching in medical training programs, the Australian Government Therapeutics Goods Administration, in conjunction with state and territory governments, has commissioned a systematic review into the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, and has developed guidance documents for indications in which the evidence base is strongest to assist clinicians in appropriate prescribing of cannabis-based products.3 Despite these initiatives, willingness by medical practitioners to prescribe remains a significant barrier, with only 34 registered prescribers as of 31 July 2018.4

For complete article

November, 2018  By DATAC

As the legalization of cannabis settles in, coming up on the one month mark, there are many challenges which have arisen in the legal sales arena. There have been issues across the country with the legal dispensaries, either online (ON) or store fronts (NB, QC) running out of product and experiencing website glitches. These bumps in the road for legal sales have meant that many recreational and medicinal users are turning to the black market to obtain their products.

Black market filling the holes

The black market for cannabis sales obviously existed prior to the legalization of cannabis last month, and just this fact alone means that they have a head start in sales. Many users, medicinal and recreational, are going to be hard to bring around to purchasing from legal sources. There are two main reasons for this, the first being that the legal sites (storefronts or online stores) have been running out since they opened their doors. Some have completely run out of all products, and have had to close their doors, while others are simply at very low stock and/or long wait times to obtain the product as things are on backorder.

As well as running out of products there are numerous products which will not be available legally until next year, such as edibles, which includes such things as cannabis-infused foods (from cakes to candies) as well as drinks. Cannabis concentrates are another product which will not be available via legal dispensaries until next year. The black market will have a stronghold on all of these, still not purchasable cannabis products, for at least a year, which also means buyers keeping their relationships with their illegal dispensers.

The second reason for a user choosing the black market is price. Particularly for those users who were already set up with a place to purchase, prior to legalization, deciding now to pay much more for the same thing they can already get, is a hard sell. There is variation from province to province with the cost of product from stores versus street, but the prices in stores can be up to $15 a gram with the average price on the street ranging from about $5 (Alberta) to around $7 (Ontario). It also seems that because the prices are high on the legal market it may have led to a drop in prices in the black market.

For complete article

While drug legalisation/decriminalisation activists attempt to build the myth that normal amounts of MDMA are not life-threatening, just the opposite is the truth.  According to our own Australian coroners’ reports our ecstasy deaths are mostly not due to unknown impurities but due to MDMA either by itself or in combination with other drugs

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Despite security checks by Health Canada, investors with Mafia connections involved in legal production

Marie-Maude Denis · CBC News · Posted: Nov 01, 2018 

An investigation by Radio-Canada's Enquête shows Health Canada has granted production licences to companies with individuals with links to the criminal underworld. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

An investor in a major Canadian cannabis company has had longstanding ties, including business dealings, with influential Mafia members and drug traffickers, Radio-Canada has learned.

Another investor in the same company has links with a prominent member of the Rizzutos, the powerful Montreal crime family.

In still another case, an individual managed to sell his cannabis business to one of the big players in the industry, despite his connections to drug traffickers. In return, he received shares in the company and rented out space for a cannabis grow-op.

Security checks only scratch the surface

Throughout the period in which Canada's cannabis industry was developing, primarily for medical purposes, only individuals who directly ran the companies were required to obtain a security clearance.

The black hole of trusts

It's not uncommon for cannabis companies to be funded through family trusts.

Originally designed for estate and tax planning, trusts are an ideal way to hide individuals with interests in a business, said Marie-Pierre Allard, who studies tax policy at the Université de Sherbrooke.

"The beneficiaries of the trust are not disclosed publicly. It's anonymous," she said, adding that it is "one of the great vulnerabilities of the Canadian legal system."

"If we want to eliminate the Mafia cannabis market, we cannot allow them to use tax havens or trusts to enter indirectly through the back door," Carignan said.

For complete article 

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