Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released a new evidence-informed report on cannabis control. The Cannabis Policy Framework released by CAMH recommends marijuana legalization with a strict regulation approach to cannabis control.
Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, with 40 percent of Canadians having used it at least once in their lifetime. CAMH's Cannabis Policy Framework was developed to provide evidence-based principles for reducing cannabis-related harm.
To do this, CAMH scientists and policy experts conducted in-depth analysis of the health, social, and legal implications of cannabis use and examined cannabis policy in other jurisdictions.
"Canada's current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms associated with cannabis use," said Dr. Jürgen Rehm, director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH. "Based on a thorough review of the evidence, we believe that legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis is the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use."
Two thirds of Canadians currently using medical cannabis do so to ease arthritis pain
By Steve Elliott
In a position paper issued on Tuesday, The Arthritis Society called for more research into the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis as a therapy to alleviate symptoms of pain and fatigue caused by the chronic disease.
“More and more Canadians are accessing medical cannabis as a treatment option for severe arthritis symptoms,” explained Society president and CEO Janet Yale. “We have a duty to the people we serve to ensure that the scientific basis for the use of medical cannabis is clear and appropriate, with patient safety and improved care our foremost priorities.”
Thousands of Canadians have already received authorization from Health Canada to use medical cannabis and as many as two-thirds of those people are using the drug to help manage pain due to arthritis.
"There is much still unknown about the treatment therapy, its safety and its efficacy for coping with arthritis – leading to potential risks for patients," the Arthritis Society release claims, although if they simply asked the arthritis patients involved, they'd be talking less about risks and more about benefits.
The anecdotal evidence in support of medical cannabis for arthritis pain is very robust, and Tuesday's announcement will ensure that more clinical research will be conducted to further validate this treatment modality, according to CanniMed Ltd., the first producer to be licensed under the new Canadian Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
The Strategic Alliance will enable U.S.-based AltMed and Canada’s Vida to collaborate on clinical research, quality assurance, and the cultivation of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis
AltMed, a Sarasota, Florida company which says it is "bringing pharmaceutical industry precision to the development and production of medical cannabis," has signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with Canada’s Vida Cannabis.
The two companies plan to collaborate on research, quality assurance, and technical expertise. They’ll also pool business development know-how to capitalize on complimentary strengths in their respective markets.
"We’re deeply impressed with the level of sophistication, and operational know-how designed into the Vida Cannabis team as they work toward building the most advanced medical marijuana facility in Canada," says David Wright, CEO of AltMed. "We have a parallel commitment to excellence in Florida, and we’ve identified vital complementary strengths and best practices that will guarantee that both of our companies excel."
Headed by former pharmaceutical executives, AltMed is focused on the science of medical cannabis. AltMed is forging skill-building alliances to lead in the delivery of effective, safe and well-tolerated alternative medicines. AltMed says its ultimate goal is to help people live better lives.
"With a strong team coupled with complimentary values and a focus on rigorous quality assurance and research, AltMed shares both our scientific DNA and our commitment to patients," says Greg Wilson CEO of Vida Cannabis.
Cannabis Science, Inc., a United States-based company specializing in marijuana formulation-based drug development and related consulting, on Tuesday provided an updated guidance report on its current pre-clinical drug development programs underway, beginning with scientific cannabis cultivation programs in Europe and North America, testing multiple marijuana strains for multiple critical ailments.
"The company's efforts in Spain complement Cannabis Science's plans in Canada and the company's current, pre-clinical collaboration with the Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care on Aging (INRCA) in Italy, where the company is testing toxicity and efficacy of cannabinoid formulations for neurobehavioral diseases including sleep disorders," said Mario S. Lap, director and president of European Operations at Cannabis Science.
The facilities are located in the Alicante region of Spain; the company said it has successfully initiated an agricultural program spanning combined 15 hectares parceled according to seed strains and growth cycles and protocols. The tests focus on production requirements and research framework to conduct scientific testing of the active constituents in the cannabis plant.
The company said it will set those protocols "to multiply optimal results into drug formulation regimens for pre-clinical studies."
By Steve Elliott
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on August 20, at its annual meeting in Toronto, voted on and approved a delegate resolution opposing the smoking of medical marijuana and other other plant material. Now Bedrocan Cannabis Corp., a licensed Canadian producer of medicinal cannabis, has come out in support of the CMA motion.
"The CMA is quite right to point out that there are particular hazards associated with smoking any plant material, including medical cannabis," Bedrocan Canada's statement reads. "While some patients, particularly those who use small quantities, choose to smoke medical cannabis, the preferred method of delivery is via the use of a vaporizer -- a device that heats cannabis to release the cannabinoids (the active ingredients), but does not burn it.
"There is good clinical evidence to show that vaporized cannabis contains significantly lower levels of toxins and harmful chemicals," Bedrocan's statement reads.
"In addition, there is one medicinal cannabis vaporizer, the Vapormed Volcano Medic®, approved in Canada as a class 2 medical device," Bedrocan's statement reads. "The use of a vaporizer allows patients to use cannabis to manage the symptoms of health conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, insomnia and other conditions, while avoiding the degree of risk involved in smoking a plant product.
By Steve Elliott
A Canadian man who was one of New York's biggest marijuana suppliers, and who was known as the "Pot Playboy," was sentenced on Wednesday to 27 years in prison for leading a $1 billion international drug trafficking enterprise, according to prosecutors.
Jimmy Cournoyer pleaded guilty in May 2013 to money laundering charges, along with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and cocaine, reports the Associated Press. The 34-year-old native of Laval, Quebec was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court.
Gerald McMahon, Courtnoyer's lawyer, said prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of being a drug kingpin which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole, reports Allan Woods at The Star.
His sentence will also involve him forfeiting $1 billion to the U.S. government along with $11 million in drug proceeds, prosecutors said in a statement which thanked 19 police departments including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Cournoyer's organization, based in Montreal, had ties to international drug cartels and organized crime, prosecutors claimed. His lifestyle of hanging out with celebrities like Leonard DiCaprio included a Brazilian supermodel girlfriend and a super-expensive Bugatti Venyon automobile.
By Steve Elliott
Canada's ban on medical marijuana edibles and body creams is unconstitutional, a B.C. Court of Appeal judge ruled on Thursday.
The judge instructed Parliament to recraft the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act to allow medicinal cannabis patients to use products made from cannabis extracts, including creams, salves, oils, brownies, cakes, cookies and chocolate bars, reports CBC News.
The court challenge came from the case of Owen Smith, who was charged with marijuana trafficking for baking cannabis cookies and producing topical cannabis creams for a Victoria medical marijuana club in 2009.
Smith was caught baking more than 200 marijuana cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, and had a supply of cannabis-infused cooking oils and some dried marijuana in his apartment when he was arrested.
He was acquitted in April; 2012 after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Canada's medical marijuana regulations were unconstitutional, because patients were denied access to edible products and other derivatives.
Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston ruled that allowing dried cannabis flowers alone was arbitrary, and did little to further any legitimate state interest.
Health Canada currently allows patients suffering from debilitating illnesses to access dried marijuana flowers for medicinal purposes. They can get the cannabis through Health Canada-approved growers, or can get permission to grow it themselves.
By Steve Elliott
Marc Emery, the self-styled Prince of Pot who got a five-year federal prison sentence in the United States for selling seeds, will get to return home to Canada on Tuesday.
Emery is scheduled to be flown from a Louisiana jail to Detroit on Tuesday, escorted in shackles by U.S. marshals, then turned over to Canadian officials, his wife Jodie Emery said on Friday, reports Gordon McIntyre at The Province.
He had been sentenced after pleading guilty to selling cannabis seeds through the mail to U.S. customers through his Vancouver-based company.
"It's very exciting," said Jodie. "It's been a long road."
Jodie said supporters will be waiting in Windsor, although it's not known exactly what time the Prince will be crossing the border. The Emerys are planning a press conference at Windsor City Hall as soon as Marc is released, "likely sometime after 12 Noon ET," according to Cannabis Culture.
She said their lives will then pick up where they left off when Marc went to Seattle to plead guilty before serving his "hard nickel" (under federal sentencing rules, prisoners must serve 85 percent of their time).
"Our life is about our activism," Jodie said. "We'll be getting right back into it."
By Steve Elliott
A Tasmanian company has been given the go-ahead to grow, import and export medical marijuana on Norfolk Island, an external territory of Australia which is not part of Australia's taxation or welfare system.
The island's government has given permission to Tasman Health Cannabinoids (THC) to grow medicinal cannabis, with a view to it becoming a multi-billion dollar exporting industry, reports Airlie Ward at ABC News.
While Norfolk Island has historically struggled financially, and, like Tasmania, has been dependent upon assistance from Australia, the island's Health Minister Robin Adams explained that they are ready to turn that around.
"We are open for investment, we are open for business on Norfolk Island," Adams said. "We see this as a great opportunity both for the economy of Norfolk Island whilst providing a much needed medical product for export."
"The Health Minister on Norfolk Island, Robin Adams, has now given us a production license to go ahead and progress to grow on Norfolk, medical cannabinoids," said THC chairman Dr. Mal Washer.
Heavily dependent on tourism to boost its economy, Norfolk Island was hit hard by the global financial crisis. Visitors on the island dropped from 40,000 a year to 20,000.
By Steve Elliott
The United States and Canada should be proud of themselves. According to an annual United Nations report on global drug use, they rank among the highest in the world, when it comes to marijuana use. Nigeria and Australia join the U.S. and Canada as the highest nations on Earth.
Each of the Top 4 marijuana countries has more than 10 percent of its population, ages 15 to 64, admitting to using cannabis, reports Janissa Delzo at the Medical Daily. Western Europe also has high rates of marijuana use, but didn't rank in the top category.
Countries with the lowest rates of cannabis use in the world are Ecuador, Paraguay (ironically, listed as a top cannabis producer), Turkey, and Romania.
Although Mexico has, for decades, exported large amounts of commercial marijuana to the United States, it has a surprisingly low rate of cannabis use, according to the report. The U.N. said that the lower perceived risk of cannabis use in the U.S. has led to an increase in its use, even as global marijuana use has decreased, particularly in Western and Central Europe.
The World Drug Report 2014 reveals the cultivation and production of cannabis remains widespread, with hashish production concentrated in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.
Individuals should be cautious when considering investing in medical marijuana stocks, according to the watchdog Canadian Securities Administration, which on Monday issued what is apparently its first-ever warning on the subject.
As a result of the new regulations enacted by the Canadian government in April, "a significant number" of companies have announced their intentions to begin growing and selling medical marijuana, according to the CSA.
There about 13 marijuana-related companies on the junior Canadian Securities Exchange, according to James Black, a Vancouver-based vice president of listing development for the exchange, reports Christopher Donville at Bloomberg.
Some penny stocks have seen their share prices double or even quadruple after announcing their intentions to enter the medical marijuana business, reports Sunny Freeman at The Huffington Post Canada.
Canadian patients had for years been allowed to grow their own medical marijuana until a scare campaign hyped by the conservative Harper government pushed through the new rules. Now patients will be forced to buy their medicinal cannabis through one of the government-licensed companies contracted to do that.
By Steve Elliott
Vending machines could become one of the latest additions to Canada's medical marijuana industry, if Chuck Varabioff of the British Columbia Pain Society has his way.
Varabioff, who provides medical marijuana to Vancouver residents 19 and older, said his goal is to install the vending machines in clinics and nursing homes, reports the New York Daily News. He already has the machines installed at his Vancouver storefront dispensary.
For $4 Canadian, the brightly lit machine drops a plastic ball filled with Cotton Candy; $6 will get you Purple Kush. A variety of other strains is available.
The British Columbia Pain Society is one of about 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver. The shops operate in a legal gray zone since a federal court ruling stymied Canada's latest attempts to regulate its distribution.
Under the new scheme, as of April 1, about 30,000 home-growing operations by patients across Canada were to be replaced by just a few large, commercial grow operations.
But many of tthe smaller growers -- particularly in British Columbia -- have refused to step aside.
While marijuana is illegal outside the federal medical marijuana program, Vancouver police said in March that it is not one of their top priorities, which are instead focused on gangs and hard drugs including cocaine, meth and heroin.
"Medical marijuana dispensaries operating today in Vancouver don't meet those criteria," a police statement said.
Canada's new medical marijuana rules eliminate home growing by patients, and require them to buy their cannabis from licensed providers. To aid in the transition, a company called CanvasRx has launched what it is calling "the first comprehensive database for medical marijuana today. The database matches strains to symptoms, and connects patients with licensed cannabis producers.
The new regulations have made it easier for Canadian patients to get a prescription for medical marijuana, but many are still left with questions. Different strains of cannabis relieve different symptoms, and patients often aren't sure which marijuana producer to use.
CanvasRx says it solves that problem by helping both doctors and patients navigate the new legal landscape.
"CanvasRx operates much like an online marijuana pharmacy," said cofounder Ronan Levy. "Because pharmacies in Canada cannot carry marijuana and the dispensary model is prohibited by the regulations, we step in to fill the knowledge gap by providing patients and doctors with the information and resources they need to best utilize this treatment option."
With no cost to patients or doctors, CanvasRx says it marks the creation of a new sub-industry: businesses existing to support patients, doctors, and licensed marijuana producers. Patients can now research which exact strain best suits their symptoms, and download a medical document to bring to their doctor and then mail to the licensed marijuana producer.
By Steve Elliott
Students who smoke only marijuana do better at school than classmates who smoke only tobacco, or who smoke both tobacco and marijuana, according to a new study which tracked substance use among teens over a 30-year period.
Scientists at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health looked at data from a survey given to nearly 39,000 Ontario students between 1981 and 2011, reports Andrea Janus at CTV News. Students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 were asked by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health about their tobacco and marijuana use, and about their academic performance.
Cannabis-only users did better at school than their peers who smoked only tobacco or who smoked both tobacco and cannabis. The findings reflect the fact that fewer students smoke tobacco now than was the case 30 years ago, and those who do make up a "marginalized, vulnerable" population, according to the study's lead author, Michael Chaiton, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health policy.
Almost all the tobacco users -- 92 percent -- also use cannabis, according to the study. However, only one in four marijuana smokers (25 percent) also used tobacco.
"It's better relatively," Chaiton said of marijuana smokers' academic performance. However, marijuana users didn't outperform non-users, Chaiton said -- but neither did non-users outperform marijuana users.
By Steve Elliott
Canadian medical marijuana patients who are currently licensed to grow their own cannabis will be allowed to continue doing so, despite new regulations banning homegrown which start on April 1, a Federal Court judge ruled last Friday.
Judge Michael Manson granted an injunction to a group of medical marijuana patients who asked the judge to block the rule, preserving the status quo until a constitutional challenge of the new system can be heard, reports The Canadian Press.
The decision is a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government's attempt to shift control of the country's medical marijuana system from the roughly 37,000 enrolled patients to the government. The Conservatives claim the current system has problems ranging from unsafe grow operations to infiltration by criminals.
Under the new rules, only commercial growers would be allowed to cultivate cannabis. Friday's injunction doesn't affect the new licensing system.
Health Canada had ordered patients who are licensed to grow marijuana under the old rules to confirm they had destroyed their plants, or they would be reported to the police.
The patients acting as plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued the growing ban violates their right to access important medicine, because cannabis is expected to be more expensive under the new system. They also say they won't have much control over which strains of marijuana are available.