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UK Government

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Minnesota marijuana patients still buying medicine illegally

Medicinal marijuana was legalised in Minnesota six months ago, yet demand on the black market is as high as ever. Why? Patients can't afford it. Now marijuana products that were legalised were limited to pills and oils, so the plants were still off limit. Honestly, I've never used pills and oils and fortunately I don't have a need for medical marijuana, in plant form or otherwise. But are these products as good as the plants? Perhaps that would be a good substitute if they were covered by health insurance (they're not) or if they offered a legal alternative at a similar price to what it would cost to buy or grow your own. But when small vials of marijuana extract cost up to $130, it is really a surprise that people still prefer to go for the illegal (and cheaper) option? According to sales figures in the first few months, out of the 491 registered patients, 1 in 5 didn't follow up for a second purchase. It would be nice to think this was because all their conditions had dramatically improved, but in reality, this is healthcare that many people can't afford. A patient who suffers crippling muscle spasms from muscular dystrophy, told The Associated Press that his monthly tab for oil for vaporizer pens — one of the legal state-sanctioned treatments — runs $264. He can get a month's supply on the streets for $80. These costs are exceptionally high when compared to Colorado, where marijuana is also available recreationally. Perhaps understanding the differing mentalities can go someway to explaining the comparative success of the two states. For me it boils down to the fact marijuana, once legalised (and I suppose in general) should be treated less like a drug and more like a medicine. Perhaps living in England has spoilt me, but the idea people can't afford healthcare is always shocking to me. If people need marijuana to help with illness then they shouldn't be priced out of buying it. I'm not suggesting a radical overhaul of the US's healthcare system (though in truth I think there needs to be one) but why not let people grow their own? if you're a registered patient, surely the only reason to make it illegal to do that is a way of also making them spend money.


Terminally ill cancer patient pleads with government to legalise cannabis.

Days after the Government issued a damning response to campaigners, a terminally ill woman in the North-East has backed growing calls to decriminalise the drug to help treat her illness and ease her pain. The pensioner, who does not wish to be named, is dying from liver cancer and says the Government response to the petition - containing over 200,000 signatures - is hypocritical given the fact they allow pharmaceutical companies in the UK to harvest the plants. The woman, from the south Durham area, is one of a growing number of ailing pensioners turning to cannabis oil to alleviate symptoms from a variety of ailments. The 63-year-old credits marijuana with slowing the growth of her cancer and allowing her to live out her days pain-free. However, she is currently forced to pay £600-£800 every three weeks to a black market contact who supplies her with a small quantity of cannabis oil. "My cancer is terminal but my doctor has been amazed with how little it has grown since I began using cannabis oil. "I'd never used it before but I don't want to die, I'm only young and I'll do what I can. "I had chemo and it was horrendous, I'm still suffering side effects – I don't get those with the oil, I feel better and can get out and about again. "I'm gutted they won't do anything about this – I have to pay hundreds for a tiny amount and I can't buy it from the internet as I won't know what's in it. Any petition that reaches 100,000 signatures is eligible to be debated in Parliament, so having more than doubled that requirement, the petition will be taken in for a debate. The date has not yet been announced.


Cannabis And Epilepsy

I like to post examples of how marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. I think marijuana use on a recreational level is bound to come up against a myriad of arguments, but scientific developments that suggest marijuana can be used to help treat or at least appease an illness is more a question of human rights. That Governments would refuse to at least explore such studies constantly baffles me so I think it is important to spread the word whenever I see new information. The more we share and make people aware of the medicinal benefits of marijuana, the better, right? I think it's about enlightening and educating people so arguments are grounded in strong evidence and rational thought. With that in mind I'll paraphrase some of the key points I read in a new study, this time in relation to the use of medicinal marijuana for epilepsy sufferers. A study published in The Lancet Neurology in December 2015 indicates that cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical in marijuana, may be an effective treatment for epileptic patients with no previous treatment options. In the study, the researchers treated 162 patients with an extract of 99 percent cannabidiol and monitored them for 12 weeks. This treatment was supplemental to patients' existing course of treatment. The patients who received cannabidiol had motor seizures at a reduced rate of 36.5 percent. Even more promising: 2 percent of patients became completely seizure-free. It's not a resolute conclusion that people can treat their illness, but it can be and must be an option that people have open to them.


New year health kick? Try a Weed Smoothie

With the new year we all have resolutions. Dry January? Quit smoking cigarettes? Go to the gym more? Well, I got a Blender for a Christmas present, and I've been looking for recipes on the internet and came across this gem... a weed smoothie. It has all the benefits of a regular smoothie, but with the inclusion of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer compounds. These compounds are known as cannabidiols (CBD) and they make marijuana, cannabis, or whatever you want to call it, a superfood. Here is a recipe below (should you live in a place where such ingredients are legal ;) Ingredients. 1 frozen banana 2 large frozen strawberries 1 cup frozen whole blueberries 1/2 cup regular almond milk 1/2 cup coconut water 1 tbsp chia seed 1 tbsp flax seed 1 tbsp hemp seed 15 fresh cannabis leaves and 2-4 2in. fresh cannabis buds (If you do not have access to this much cannabis, feel free to add spinach in replacement.) This smoothie is certainly healthy as, and will definitely help kick start your new year health regime!


Can cannabis users donate blood in the UK?

Recently there has been a large amount of debate in the media about how can legally and who should be able to give blood. Blood donation is incredibly important, not just in the wake of disasters where a large amount of people may be hurt and need transfusions, but blood donations also go toward people who are long term sick. Every person who donates a pint of blood saves or improves the lives of three people. The more people who donate blood the better the general stock of blood is and the more blood that's available to people round the country who need it. Can cannabis users give blood safely and legally though? Officially, the NHS has rules on who can and cannot give blood. These range from things that put people who at risk of blood-bourne diseases like HIV to people who might not be able to healthily give blood. Let's assume that our cannabis smoking potential blood donor is of a healthy weight (over 50kg) and doesn't have any issues with low iron levels in the blood. You're not allowed to give blood if you've ever injected any drugs, but not having known anyone who has ever injected cannabis, I think our cannabis smoker is safe on this one. There aren't any explicit restrictions on cannabis smokers in the UK saying they're not allowed to give blood, but you're not allowed to give blood if you have any active legal or illegal drugs n your system (so, that includes having just taken a double dose off paracetamol too) because these drugs would then be passed to the recipient of the blood, which would be a general no. Cannabis takes a couple of days to pass out of the blood completely, so our cannabis smoker can't go and get high before his appointment to donate blood, but that shouldn't be a problem for most people. All in all, cannabis smokers are fine to give blood as long as they're not high at the time of giving blood (not that this situation would appeal to many people). As we always need people to donate blood, being a casual user shouldn't give you any problems, and you should definitely go and donate. Sign up for a blood donation session here:


Drug Driving - How Long Do You Have To Wait To Drive Legally After Smoking Cannabis?

Preface: This is conjecture and not legal advice. Be safe and don't ever drive after smoking cannabis for at least a few days. The government introduced new drug driving legislation last year to introduce a new offence of driving under the influence of drugs. It set new levels for drugs in your system and those who are found over the limit can face a ban of 12 months and other criminal penalties. It covers some prescription drugs and all common illegal drugs. Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, in which the government gives suggestions for how much one can drink before they would be over the limit, they do not do this in the case of illegal drugs. The way they test for cannabis is the if the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol is above the prescribed limit of 2 µg per 1 litre of blood. So how long would you have to wait before smoking a joint? As strength of joints and cannabis differ, as well as people's ability to process it, the advice for how long to wait ranges from 2 hours (which is likely far too low, most people are still a little bit fuzzy around the edges a few hours later) to 24 hours. Studies have shown that levels in the majority of people drop under 2 µg per 1 litre after 24 hours, though this varies in many people. There is another very interesting point about these levels though. As the tests measure blood concentration, which is known to peak before impairment and drop very quickly, the government is actually testing people on something that doesn't accurately reflect how the cannabis in their system might affect their driving. The third and most important bit you should know, is that cannabis is fat soluble and therefore, if you are in the process of storing fat in your body at the same time as you are smoking, or are a regular user, it may take much longer for your overall level to drop below the drug driving limit, as your body will constantly release it as it processes and replenishes the stored fat in your body. The new drug driving laws are obviously not reflected by science, but unfortunately, they are unlikely to be changed any time soon.


Talking to Frank Is Like Asking Your Priest For Advice On Safe BDSM

Talk To Frank is the government's drug based information site primarily aimed at young people. It details the laws on drugs, their effects and real life (i assume) stories from people who have used drugs. On the surface, Talk to Frank is a fairly balanced view of some drugs, giving both the highs and the lows that can come with drug use. The problem with Frank is, well, he's not being as 'frank' as he could be (did you see what I did there? Oscar Wilde would be proud). Talking to Frank for advice on drugs is a little bit like taking advice from your nan about the best condoms to wear for maximum pleasure, she probably does know a lot, but she's probably not going to be giving you all the information you need. Take Frank's view on cannabis for example: Frank gives some decent advice on cannabis and the law, what some of the effects are like, and then presents you with a lot of 'stories'. These are apparently user submitted pieces of content describing their experiences with cannabis. They are invariably from very young people (around age 16-18) and talking about their bad experiences with cannabis. It is not a bad thing for people to talk honestly about cannabis. Cannabis does not suit everyone and people react differently to it. Perhaps we shouldn't be taking the words of teenagers who shouldn't have been smoking cannabis anyway (for their own health) as the most popular and vocal opinions about cannabis. Talk to Frank is a government owned website and its purpose is to discourage drug use. That's fine, and the argument for legalisation of cannabis is that it will likely reduce drug use, which most people consider to be a good thing. The problem comes when people go to Talk to Frank, read about the dangers of drugs, compared to what Frank puts as limited benefits, and then goes and uses the drug anyway. They find that actually, it wasn't all that bad, and their experience was wholly positive. All this does is teach people to ignore the advice on other drugs from the government, or stronger drugs. That's why people won't take any notice of the new legal highs ban, because they've been given half information from the government for so long. People will make up their own minds.

UK Government

UK's first legal cannabis vaporiser now on sale.

I'm never entirely sure who might be reading these articles. I suppose that's the thing about blogs. But if you're all about the feeling of getting high then you may as well stop reading now. If, however, you're more interested in the medicinal values of cannabis, or cannabis oil, then you might be interested in this. The first legal cannabis vaporiser went on sale earlier this year, and whilst that does not mean those in the UK will be able to legally get high, it does mean those who suffer from a myriad of illnesses may be able to find a certain relief in using the MediPen. The creators of the MediPen says it contains a substantial dose of Cannabidoil, an active ingredient in the cannabis plant with a vast array of positive benefits and health uses. Users have the reported the vaporiser has the ability to numb pains associated with certain illnesses, and whilst the vaporiser should not necessarily be thought of as a cure to any specific ailment, reviews suggest it does, at the very least, act as a good pain relief "I originally thought I'd try a medipen to see if it would help my partner who has multiple sclerosis & suffers with very sore feet & extremely painful legs & sleeping problems, I have seen some positive results in her after she's had a few puffs about 15 minutes later she's told me her legs felt different in a good way, kinda feel less painful & her sleeping hours are less disturbed," said one review.


UK allows sale of first legally approved cannabis oil

The authorities legalised cannabis oil in the UK in July, and now, a London based company has put "Charlotte's Web" cannabis oil on the UK market. Cannabis oil is highly sought after for its medicinal qualities, offering an alternative treatment for a range of conditions including severe epilepsy. The legalisation and introduction of cannabis oil into the UK market follows on from ever-changing perceptions of the drug and the acceptance that the plant has certain medicinal qualities that cannot be ignored, or coloured by antiquated beliefs. Documentaries like The Culture High have done a lot in raising awareness amongst the wider public about the oil's medicinal value, with UK company CBD establishing a strong foothold in the new market, following on from the legalisation of the product in July. "As the leaders in the UK CBD market we are extremely proud to partner with CW Botanicals and legally add their exclusive Charlotte's Web products to pour already impressive range," said CBD's CEO Nicolas Ellis. 'Charlotte's Web' products gained international attention after CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta documented its positive effects in curing a five year old child with severe epilepsy. His report, in 2012, concluded that cannabis oil effectively stopped the young girl's severe seizures.


Private Treasury Analysis concludes legalisation would raise hundred of millions for UK.

After an online petition to legalise marijuana became the third most popular public poll on the Government's official website, the issue is being looked at again. Just as it will be again. And again. Indeed, we're still at the grass roots of any route to success. I'm not being pessimistic, only realistic. There are hundreds of articles being posted in the news currently. There is so much information, so many conflicting views, so many dissonant stats and stances, that it is hard to know what to pay attention to and what to simply regard as media fodder. I am going to keep this post quite simple and concise and limit my discussion to a review of a private analysis for the Treasury that happened before the general election. It was a study designed to help the Liberal Democrats form a drugs policy should they stay in office. That of course isn't relevant any more, but given the Tories' recent stance on legalisation, it's worth considering what the official study said, if only to highlight how they might go against it…. I don't want this to be all about but money, but as the old adage goes "money talks." It is a language the Tories are fluent in. It might be the only thing to persuade them. So that is where I will begin. "This (the study) is an important contribution to the wider debate on drugs reform and shows the UK could make savings in public spending and generate notable tax revenues from a regulated cannabis market, probably in the hundreds of millions of pounds, some of which could be spent on better education around the dangers of drugs use. "There are successful cannabis markets emerging in different parts of the world and we should look to learn from these experiences. The burden is now with supporters of the status quo to explain why prohibition should continue in the face of the emerging evidence." So said Lib Dem Health Spokesman Norman Lamb of what is believed to be the Government's first official study into the potential results of legalisation. So what, right? The Liberal Democrats have lost their figurative voice? Well, it's interesting to note that George Osbourne's department agreed, if less enthusiastically. They said they would expect legalisation to 'generate notable tax revenue, although we expect it to generate less than the c £0.5-0.8bn pa ISER assumes.' I don't know exactly what that means, but it seems pretty clear that they agree it will raise a hell of a lot of money, if slightly less than the treasury's study predicted. But it's worth noting that it's not just tax revenue that would be substantial, with the Treasury saying that extra annual savings would be made of between £55m and £147m to the criminal justice system. That's probably enough of stats. We all know, from what we've seen in certain US States, that marijuana is a money maker. So to end my review of key facts (although this next one isn't) I wanna quote former Conservative Cabinet minister Peter Lilley on cannabis: "Even Queen Victoria allegedly used cannabis to relieve menstrual pain and if it's a Victorian value then surely it can be made more widely available." He said: "Prohibition of cannabis drives soft drug users into the arms of hard drug pushers. Only by providing some legal outlets for cannabis can we break the contact between cannabis users and those pushing cocaine, crack and heroin." That was longer than I meant it to be. Sorry. Got carried away. I'll do some more specific analysis of the debate and chances of legalisation soon. There's a lot to get through!


UK Government Response To Petition To Legalise Cannabis

A while ago I posted a link to an online petition put forward to the UK Government to legalise marijuana. The petition needed 100,000 signatures to be taken into parliament. The petition got more than double that. The petition asked for and said the following things: Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal. Legalising cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs. It is safer than alcohol. The UK Government have recently responded to the petition with the following statement: "Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities. The latest evidence from the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is that the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue ('Cannabis Classification and Public Health', 2008). Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society. Legalisation of cannabis would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families. Legalisation would also send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people, with the potential grave risk of increased misuse of drugs. Despite the potential opportunity offered by legalisation to raise revenue through taxation, there would be costs in relation to administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities, as well as the wider costs of drug prevention and health services. The UK's approach on drugs remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities; help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support; while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade. The Government will build on the Drugs Strategy by continuing to take a balanced and coherent approach to address the evolving challenges posed. There are positive signs that the Government's approach is working: there has been a long term downward trend in drug use over the last decade, and more people are recovering from their dependency now than in 2009/10. The number of adults aged 16-59 using cannabis in the last year in England and Wales has declined over the last decade from 9.6% to 6.7%, with cannabis use amongst young adults aged 16-24 and young people aged 11-15 following a similar pattern." For a great response to the government's response, click this link:


It's not impossible, just improbable that the Tories will legalise cannabis

 It sounds preposterous, doesn't it? Do the Conservatives want to legalise weed? (They don't). Although, their new policy chief does. Recently David Cameron appointed journalist Camilla Cavendish to head up the policy unit at Number 10, leaving her position as columnist and associate editor at the Sunday Times for the role. Cavendish is taking over from Mayor of London Boris' youngest brother, Jo Johnson, who has been promoted to Minister for Universities and Science. The appointment of Cavendish is no surprise to those within Tory circles, as she was a contemporary of David Cameron's while at University, but it should be noted she has a particularly progressive view towards drug policy reform. Follow camilla cavendish ✔ ‎@CamCavendish Delighted to be heading Downing Street Policy Unit. A great honour 2:21 PM - 21 May 2015 96 96 Retweets 102 102 likes In a column for the Sunday Times in 2014, she made it quite obvious that she has quite a modern outlook, explicitly debunking the idea of prohibition. "Legalising production, supply and consumption could put paid to the whole, vile industry. Putting the market in the hands of licensed sellers would make the supply safer. And going into the corner shop, rather than sidling up to someone on the street, might make the whole act of purchase less glamorous." So, although we're a policy minister in the right direction. Which is good. However, Cavendish was not the only former journalist to be cherry-picked for a key governmental position. Craig Oliver, Cameron's longtime spin-doctor and Communications Director has been promoted to Political and Communications Director in a move that essentially makes him Malcolm Tucker from the BBC's The Thick of It. Follow Rick B ‎@TenPercent Craig Oliver, former editor of the BBC's 10 O'clock News joins Tory govt as political and communications director … 3:27 PM - 21 May 2015 4 4 Retweets 2 2 likes Chancellor George Osborne has hired James Chapman, the former political editor of the Daily Mail, to work in the Treasury. Fortunately Mr Chapman will only be handling Mr Osborne's media operation and co-ordinate strategy, not suggesting economic policy ideas - given his longstanding opposition to cannabis whilst working at the Daily Mail. Follow James Forsyth ✔ ‎@JGForsyth George Osborne has hired the Daily Mail's political editor @jameschappers to be his director of communications 6:36 PM - 16 May 2015 370 370 Retweets 104 104 likes While posted at the Daily Mail, Mr Chapman publish many piece condemning cannabis us: Britain's rethink on cannabis 'threatens health of a generation', The cannabis timebomb and How cannabis can trigger schizophrenia. Follow Cannabis Seeds ‎@pickandmixseeds The new head of Number 10's policy unit thinks prohibition is a bad thing … 4:29 PM - 26 May 2015 1 1 Retweet likes


Date Set For Parliament Debate On Cannabis Legalisation

The House of Commons have announced that the debate on whether or not to legalise cannabis will take place in Parliament next month. MPs will consider a proposal to make the "production, sale and use" of cannabis legal on October 12th. The announcement follows on from an online petition to legalise the drug amassed over 211,000 signatures - it takes a 100,000 for any petition to be taken in. In the green corner (actually red) is Labour MP Paul Flynn, who will be leading the debate, having previously spoken out in support of the legalisation of medical marijuana. So, is there a realistic chance it could get passed? That marijuana, or at least medical marijuana, could be legalised? From what I've read (and doing this job, I've basically read everything) then… no. There is absolutely no chance. Following the petition, the government instantly released a pretty damning statement that read: "Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities." Realistically, I think the best we can hope for in the short term is that the growing momentum which backed the petition might begin to put the current government under pressure to reconsider its stance. I also believe the decision to issue that statement immediately after the petition could come back to haunt the Tories; to issue such a statement certainly has an air of "we've made up our minds and nothing you say or present will change it." But given that the US Government recently (and finally) admitted that marijuana unequivocally contains medicinal properties, it calls their "Substantial scientific evidence," into question, or at least raises a conflict between what they're saying and the word of their figurative Big Brother (Orwellian pun a happy accident). What I'm saying is, the medicinal values of the drug could be the one way of turning up the heat. I read more and more stories of marijuana helping the ill; from cancer patients to young girls with epilepsy to miracle effects on cerebral palsy. The more these stories break through the media and reach the population, the greater the pressure that can be exerted. Rejection on political grounds can be disputed back and forth forever, but to refuse medical help to people who really need it is a sure fire way of pissing people off. The next time there is a petition there might be 500,000 signatures. The time after that a million. And it might take that long, but once the debate stops being political and becomes more about a refusal to help with healthcare, then the issue will be charged with a hell of a lot more power. Let's hope…


Brave MP calls for calls for legalisation

Norman Lamb is the MP for North Norfolk, he's the former care minister and he's running to be leader of the Liberal Democrats following the departure of Nick Clegg from the leadership role after the election. He wants the UK to legalise, regulate and tax the sale of cannabis - he's not shy about it either. "There has been a catastrophic failure of the war on drugs, with thousands of lives lost," Lamb said. Drug laws were "criminalising so many young people, which blights their lives because of a decision about personal use which then affects their careers and creates a global criminal network". He added: "As a parent, I have real concerns about the dangers of drugs, both legal and illegal. But I think that it's much better to take a rational, education-based approach rather than the approach that we take at the moment." The Rt. Hon Mr Lamb said if it would require an official UN treaty to make it possible, then the UK should look at securing this during the 2016 general assembly meeting at the UN's drug control system. He thinks the UK should follow suit of the US in which certain states have legalised the sales and possession of small amounts of cannabis for those over the age of 21. He said he wanted immediate legalisation of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and said there should be a swift evidence-based policy change in relation to recreational use. It's not uncommon for a Liberal Democrat to support legalisation of cannabis. In their election manifesto they wanted to push for medical cannabis to prescribed by GPs for medical. They also wanted to conduct further research into drug legalisation by studying the United States. Follow Cannabis Seeds ‎@pickandmixseeds Brave MP calls for calls for legalisation - Pick 'n' Mix Cannabis Seeds - 4:34 PM - 3 Jun 2015 Photo published for Brave MP calls for calls for legalisation Brave MP calls for calls for legalisation Norman Lamb is the MP for North Norfolk, he's the former care minister and he's running to be leader of the Liberal Democrats following Retweets likes


Government e-petition to legalise cannabis signed by 190,000.

A petition on the government's official e-petitions website has reached 190,000 signatures. The petition is asking for the production, sale and use of cannabis to be made legal, with the Milton Keynes Cannabis Social Club instrumental in raising the awareness of the petition and drumming up the vast number of signatures. According to The Guardian, legalising cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs. The petition argues that these factors, combined with the belief that cannabis is safer than alcohol, should be enough to legalise the drug. At the very least, all petitions that reach 100,000 signatures, are to be discussed in parliament. With the petition almost doubling the necessary amount of signatures, the conversation is at the very least, about to make its way to the highest level. You can sign the petition here:


Legal highs are dangerous, making them illegal is even more dangerous

We haven't learnt our lesson, have we? I say we, I mean the government. Apparently making something illegal is the best way to stem usage. Really, really? Recently the government have produced the psychoactive substances bill. Next week it will go throughputs second reading in parliament in the House of Lords. If it goes ahead, it is expected that it will come into force from April next year. The idea behind it is stop the trade in legal highs - legal highs have faced considerable controversy over the last few years given how dangerous they are, even when compared to Class A substances. The legislation includes exemptions for everyday legitimate psychoactive substances including alcohol, tobacco and caffeine and is also expected to include an exemption for legitimate medical and scientific research. The ban will cover a range of synthetic chemical substances designed to mimic traditional illegal drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy and will extend to cover nitrous oxide – which is alleged to be the second most popular recreational drug in Britain. It's strange to think the second most popular recreational drug in the UK require a commercial kitchen creamer and children's party balloons as commonplace paraphernalia. Minister of State for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning, said: "Young people who take these substances are taking exceptional risks with their health and those who profit from their sale have a complete disregard for the potential consequences. That's why we are targeting the suppliers. "The landmark bill will fundamentally change the way we tackle new psychoactive substances - and put an end to the game of cat and mouse in which new drugs appear on the market more quickly than government can identify and ban them. "The blanket ban will give police and other law enforcement agencies greater powers to tackle the reckless trade in psychoactive substances, instead of having to take a substance-by-substance approach." Dr Neil McKeganey, founder of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research is amongst many experts who predict that this ban will be quite dangerous: "One of the worries when you use criminal law is that you drive the form of drug use further underground. You have less access to the production process as there is no scope for any kind of cooperation. These substances are not well understood at the moment in terms of their chemical components – it can take an extraordinarily long time to work out what is in them. If you use regulation, it becomes much harder to work that out." Do you think the ban on legal high will work? We'd like to know your thoughts.

UK Related

Will the UK be last to legalise?

The UK is rather socially conservative. We find ourselves behind the rest of the world often enough, and when it comes to drug reform, it looks like we might be one of the last in the world. Labour downgraded cannabis to a class C drug when they won power after 1997, then returned the drug to class B almost 10 years later, whilst still in power. This change has done very little to reduce the amount of cannabis smoked in the UK. It has also done almost nothing to change the way people get sentenced if caught in possession of cannabis, with most police forces now choosing not to target personal cannabis use. The rest of Europe tends to smoke more cannabis than the UK. France and Italy smoke the most, while the UK comes in 3rd or 4th depending on the survey. That's a lot of people smoking cannabis and yet while support now stands at 48% for legalisation in the UK, we can see that in the US, even where legalisation support stands at around 60%, the wheels of legalisation are slow turning at best. The UK has two main pro-reform groups - CLEAR UK, the largest group that campaigns primarily for law reform for medicinal users first. The other group is NORML UK, that takes on a more recreational stance, similar to the pushes for regulating marijuana like alcohol in the US, which has seen legalisation after the bills went straight to the popular ballot. What's stopping the UK from legalising like the US? For a start, in the US, states can enforce their drug laws independently of the federal government. Apart from local police forces in the UK choosing to focus on some crimes over others, there is no way for individual areas to have different laws on drugs in the UK. There is also the fact that all states that have so far legalised have done so by popular ballot initiatives. That is, no involvement of politicians, the legalisation laws were put to a democratic vote after receiving enough petition signatures to put the proposed laws on the ballot. The UK has no ability to propose similar laws, all laws must go through parliament, and parliament is usually behind public opinion on drugs by about 10 years. These two factors means that the UK will likely be one of the last countries in Europe to legalise cannabis, much to the disappointment of a public that is becoming more supportive by the day.


Why does cannabis make people in the UK psychotic but not in America?

Barely a day goes by in the UK media without a claim that cannabis turns people psychotic. It's the mainstay of the tabloid headlines, as well as those masquerading as broadsheets. Along with celebrity sex scandals and absurdly cheap holidays. It's become part of the narrative about cannabis, that people claim that it can cause mental illness, and not only does it cause it, but it happens to such a large proportion of smokers that cannabis is dangerous for everyone to use. Of course that's all bullshit. One reason we know it's bullshit is because the UK is one of the only countries where this worry exists. Elsewhere in the world, concerns about marijuana come from things like drug driving or teenagers smoking it. This assumption that cannabis is connected to mental illness only really exists in the UK. One would assume that with the advent of legal cannabis Colorado and other states in the US, that we would also see a rise in mental illness. That hasn't happened though. People fighting against marijuana legalisation in the US rarely if ever use the argument that cannabis can cause psychosis. So why does it only exist in the UK? Are we all far more susceptible to going crazy? Do the long, dark and rainy days we have exacerbate cannabis' effect on our mental health? Probably not. It is more likely to come from the way the UK media is set up. We have long had a history if print media that is desperate for readers, and this causes a habit of swinging to the most outrageous and scary option possible while writing a story. No longer is it horrifying for your teenage son to be smoking cannabis because it might take his attention off his school work, he's also going to go mad and kill himself. It's also, unfortunately somewhat contributed to grieving parents. Often there are stories of young men who smoked cannabis and then unfortunately committed suicide. The parents of these young men, searching for answers, find it much easier to blame cannabis for their son's mental health than acknowledging that it was likely an underlying mental illness that they couldn't have helped. Blaming a tangible thing that they can campaign on makes it possible to give some meaning to these deaths, rather than accepting that it was a cruel twist of fate. Perhaps that's the reason why cannabis only seems to affect people's mental health in the UK.


Coronation Street Has Been Fantastic For The Perception of Cannabis In the UK

Catalysts for glaring social change don't often come from soap operas, they usually reflect the current times we're living in, though they are often at the cutting edge of the progressive in society. Now, Coronation Street has become a leader in the fight to change the perception about legal cannabis in the UK and hats off to them. They way they have done this is through a storyline involve Izzy, a character with a disability which causes her to be in constant pain. She tries cannabis to alleviate her symptoms, and when it works, has to go to the black market to continue to help treat her condition. Eventually, the people around her get caught up in the illegality of cannabis and Izzy is arrested for cannabis possession. Years of the media treating cannabis in a whole dishonest way have been somewhat undone by the fantastic writers over at Coronation Street, who have beautifully taken the true story of many people's battle with needing to use cannabis to treat their illness, and presented it in a positive light to millions of television viewers. The UK probably hasn't been exposed to this sort of positivity about cannabis on a grand scale for years, if ever before. It is likely that this could the catalyst for change in people's perception of cannabis in the UK to allow people to use it for medical use. Who would have thought that the way to change people's minds was through a storyline on a soap. Perhaps now we can see the traditionally biased BBC take a bit of a softer approach on cannabis use in its programs, rather than just presenting angry policemen giving somewhat one sided opinions.


88,000 people just voted to legalise cannabis in the London mayoral election

Lee Eli Harris, a smartly dressed man in his 70s doesn't strike you as your typical cannabis enthusiast. He's been campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis for 50 years however and recently stood for the Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol party in the London mayoral elections, on a platform of legalising cannabis. He obviously didn't win, with most votes going towards the eventual winner Sadiq Kahn of Labour and his opponent, Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative party. He did however win 20,537 first preference votes and 67,495 second preference votes. 88,000 people in London felt that cannabis being legal was more important than an extra runway at Heathrow, rising house prices and the cost of living. More people voted for legalising cannabis than George Galloway or the BNP. What really makes this special is that Lee Harris was running on essentially a single issue platform, which means that the people voting for him felt that the issue of legal cannabis was more important than any of the other issues at stake. Unfortunately for CISTA, he didn't win, but what he has shown is that there is appetite for change in the capital of the country. The cannabis reform community in the UK is somewhat fractured, and doesn't have the monetary or people power that groups in the US have gained success with. Politics in the UK moves notoriously slow, so these small steps towards change have to be celebrated, because its only through small steps that we get the big changes that will be necessary to legalise cannabis in the UK. If just 1 in every 100 people in the UK that smoke cannabis regularly decided to join their local cannabis community or reform group, then that would be a huge change. It takes many people working hard for a long time to make substantial change. The only difference in the UK is that people tend to be a bit harder to get up off the sofa than our American cousins.


How a Brexit could affect cannabis users in the UK

Something not commonly brought up in the media in the remain and leave debates is how it will affect Britain's many millions of recreational cannabis users. Most people would think that a debate on the EU wouldn't have anything to do with cannabis or people that use it. They would be mistaken though, as that isn't strictly the case. The EU does stay out of legislating for drug use, and leaves this up to individual countries. As a body however, it tends to advocate for a more liberal and less punitive approach to drug law. the UK and France tend to pull the EU back from this in general. the EU's protections on human rights give cannabis users strong protections for their cannabis use. Without the EU, these protections would cease to exist. When it comes to medical use, UK cannabis consumers can get an NHS prescription for Sativex for MS only (or a private doctor, whatever they are willing to prescribe for). Or, if you have another EU address, via schengen certificate for herbal cannabis that can be bought back into the UK. This is based fully upon the UK's membership of the EU, and hundreds of medical users would be impacted by a brexit. This is something that should be seriously considered when debating whether we should leave the EU, it might cause people to not be able to get the medicine they sorely need. Something to think about, surely.

World Wide News

Road fatalities in Colorado have plummeted since marijuana was legalised.

Since marijuana was legalised in Colorado in 2012, prohibition supporters have voiced their protest by following the strand of "drugged drivers," and their belief that in addition to battling drunk driving, emergency services would be called into action to battle an increase in drugged driving. To be fair, that prediction sort of made sense. You have always had people who value ease over safety and go against the recommended allowance for driving after drinking alcohol. Over the past few decades these numbers have slowly fallen as public safety announcements and a general change in perception to the effects of alcohol have started to have an effect. Nevertheless, drunk driving of course still exists, so for prohibition supporters to voice their concern that "drugged driving" may also exist and cause an increase in road fatalities followed logic you couldn't necessarily argue with outright. That said, results from the Colorado Department of Transportation have shown that the road fatalities since marijuana was legalised have, on the whole, fallen. As you can see, roadway fatalities this year are down from last year, and down from the 13-year average. Of the seven months so far this year, five months saw a lower fatality figure this year than last, two months saw a slightly higher figure this year, and in one month the two figures were equal. Now, I'm wary of interpreting this data with bias, or placing too much significance on it because unfortunately "drugged driving" will, like drunk driving, inevitably occur. I just want to present the date, as objectively as I can, and say that since legalisation in 2012, the expected hike in road fatalities has not come. Indeed, the trend for road fatalities, as a consequence of both alcohol and marijuana users driving intoxicated, has fallen. Long may that trend continue.


Pennsylvania becomes 24th state to legalise medical marijuana

You may have heard that Pennsylvania has become the 24th state in the nation to legalise medical marijuana, and it has now been confirmed after signing into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. Calling it a "great day for Pennsylvanians," Wolf told a crowd of patients and supporters gathered before the State Capital on Sunday, "When you have people who represent a cause as eloquently and in as heartfelt a way as the advocates for this have done, it shows that we can actually get something done that means something." Patients that are suffering from cancer, Chron's disease and severe pain will qualify, along with 13 other conditions. This means people will be able to walk into any one of the proposed 50 dispensaries in the state and purchase cannabis. It could take 2 years before the system is functional though, while the state gets the infrastructure in place to ensure the new law works well. Unfortunately, this means that for parents of children with epilepsy cannot use cannabis oil to treat their children until it is in shops, as there was no provision in the law for home use. Patients with a recommendation from a doctor will be able to purchase non smokable marijuana. The new law only allows people to use pills, oils and tinctures that can be used in a vapouriser, not the traditionally smoked flowers. Edible forms of marijuana, such as pot brownies and cannabis infused gummy bears, will not be sold in dispensaries, but the law allows patients to produce these items at home. One more step along the road to medicine being available for all those who need and want it.


The New Psychoactive substances bill is set to be ignored, but what does it actually cover?

Showing just how far the government is from the reality of drug use when it comes to drug laws,a new study by the charity YMCA suggests that most people will ignore the new back on psychoactive substances and legal highs. 64% of 1,000 people surveyed said the new laws, that comes into force tomorrow on thursday the 26th of May, would not change their attitude towards 'legal highs' at all. It also found that 71% had only tried the legal highs after trying illegal drugs. So what else do we know about the ban? It's a blanket ban that covers a huge array of substances, basically anything that gets your rocks off in any way is now banned. So what does it cover? "A substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person's central nervous system, it affects the person's mental functioning or emotional state." Except the problem with that, is that it pretty much includes everything, including tea, coffee and alcohol. So the government quickly realised it needed to make some exceptions. I would still suggest asking your local MP and police force before you go ahead and smell some flowers too though, just in case it makes you happy or changes your emotional state. Wouldn't want to be breaking the law now would we? Among the other banned substances includes whipped cream. Well, the canisters used to whip the cream. The government has included some hilarious advice for shopkeepers who want to stay on the right side of the law: "A customer who looks over 25 attempts to buy several containers of whipped cream canisters containing nitrous oxide from a shop at 11pm. They are not buying anything else. The cashier asks the customer why they're buying whipped cream. The customer hesitates in replying and when they do they seem intoxicated, slurring their words. In this scenario the cashier should consider not selling the goods." I feel sorry for the one time that a chef with cerebral palsy has run out of whipped cream and can't go out and buy more late at night while preparing for an early morning buffet. So, perhaps we should all stick with some drugs we know are much after than legal highs, like cannabis. Or perhaps, another shoddy law passed by a government trying to act tough while not knowing what it is doing will cause even more people to ignore drug laws, which are starting to become obviously stupid even to those people who are inherently anti drug.


American Company That Allow Weed Breaks

So, I used to work in an office where smoking breaks were allowed, pretty much all the time. I'm just talking about cigarettes, but employees who smoked could, within reason, nip out for a "fag break," whenever they wanted. I remember how the employees who didn't smoke would get annoyed at this, and to be fair it's understandable. However, I would never have been able to nip for a "weed break." I imagine the looks I would get if I said "I'm just nipping out for a spliff!" Not to mention I would have been sacked/arrested! Well if you're now imagining a perfect world where you can nip out for a weed break, I'm now gonna tell you where you need to get a job! A company called Flowhub, based in Colorado, not only allows weed breaks, but even encourages it if it will help you work better! "Our philosophy at Flowhub is get shit done," said founder Kyle Sherman. "If it helps our employees get work done, then we don't care if they consume at work. "It definitely surfaces new ideas and a fresh take on things." Good, right? Whilst recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, smoking of any kind unfortunately isn't allowed in the building, but Flowhub's employees are free to bring in cannabis-infused edibles, sodas and juices. I've not even told you what the company does, but a bet part of you already wants to work for them, right?


Jamaica Just Used 4/20 To Tell The UN To Get Its Act Together On Weed

While most of us were celebrating 4/20 yesterday by getting stoned and enjoying the beautiful sunshine, the small island nation of Jamaica, well known as the home of Bob Marley, called on the UN to review the status of cannabis. They were questioning why the drug is still legally considered as dangerous as heroin when it comes to international law. Their foreign minister Kamina Johnson-Smith told the UN special conference that: "We contend that the classification of cannabis under the Single Convention is an anomaly and that the medical value of a substance must be determined by science and evidence-based analysis, above other considerations," In Jamaica, she told delegates, "cannabis has been traditionally used as a folk medicine, as well as a religious sacrament by adherences to our indigenous faith, Rastafari." 'The current scheduling which is predicated on it having no useful medicinal purposes is obviously not tenable.' Canada has recently spoken about how it may take until 2017 to create a legalised marijuana market, something that Jamaica stopped short go doing when they decriminalised a few years ago. Unfortunately, the UNGASS conference has come out with wording that pretty much reinforces the old international treaties. Countries would still be breaking international law by allowing people to use cannabis recreationally. There seems to be a bit of a dissonance between those who can afford to stand up to the rest of the world, such as the US and those who cannot. For poor Carribbean nations like Jamaica though, it looks as though they might have to bear the brunt of an unworkable drug policy for years yet to come. That is, unless they decide that they can stand up to the rest of the world when it comes to drug policy.


How hackers are helping shape the future of the cannabis industry

Spurred on by recent legalisations in the U.S. and across the world, a number of tech-startups are looking towards the future by developing a means to make marijuana as accessible as fast-food. This has led to an international recruitment drive for many Silicon Valley startups looking to carve out a slice of the burgeoning cannabis industry. Stoners around the world, you may have found your calling! While the technological development in the marijuana industry generally pertains to growing marijuana as well as the way it can be consumed, in keeping with the aforementioned legalisations is an area which is becoming increasingly important: the analysis of consumer trends and dealing with the logistic side of supply and demand to help the cannabis industry become as viable as any other consumer industry. This can contribute positively to a number of aspects of the lives of stoners in terms of their safety and their career prospects. Hacking away the stigma Cannabis coders can not only help further the development of the cannabis industry itself, but they can also actively improve how the world sees marijuana smokers; removing the 'stoner' stigma may finally allow people to realise all the good marijuana can do in the world. This will not only be beneficial on a personal level but it may also be revolutionary in altering the way in which stoners are valued within the job market. A safer smoke A safer supply and demand system will almost definitely lead to a decrease in drug-related crime, for instance an easy and controlled delivery system would rule out robberies and physical attacks which give marijuana a negative public image. The majority of negative press which marijuana receives within the U.K. refers to acts of violence carried out over drugs, generally marijuana as it is the most used widely. The mainstream media fails to realise that the problem is not with cannabis itself but rather with how it is sold. Many see this as a reason to keep it illegal, not realising that legalisation and regulation would solve a large number of drug-related crime.


D.A.R.E supports Weed Legalisation?

I'm gonna keep this one short, because it really doesn't need a lot of explaining. You remember the anti-drug program D.A.R.E? You remember the t-shirts? You remember the classes in the 90s, which at the time made everything seem terrifying? Yeah, even those guys think it should be legalised, which to me, a child of the 90s, seems pretty damn significant. I'll post a link to the article I read, but the most salient thing I took from it was D.A.R.E's admission that "legalizing and regulating marijuana will actually make everyone safer." Read Full Article

July 12, 2016 by Damian Edwards

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