Changes in cannabis policies: insights from the Americas

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) just published a new report “Monitoring and evaluating changes in cannabis policies: insights from the Americas“. This report provides an overview of the changes in cannabis policies in the Americas and the evidence emerging from evaluations of their impact. The focus of the report is shifted to recent changes to regulatory systems in the Americas that permit the consumption of cannabis by adults for non-medical, recreational purposes.

Over the past 50 years, several jurisdictions in Europe, Australia and the Americas have reduced the penalties associated with using or possessing small amounts of cannabis. As of December 2019, Canada, Uruguay and 10 US states have gone further and passed laws that license the production and retail sale of cannabis, mostly by private companies, to adults for non-medical – sometimes referred to as recreational – purposes. With discussions about alternatives to cannabis prohibition becoming more common in some parts of the world, there is a growing interest in learning from the cannabis policy changes in the Americas.

To learn more about these new cannabis regimes and their consequences, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) commissioned a review of the changes governing recreational cannabis policies in the Americas and an overview of preliminary evaluations. Findings from this research are intended to inform discussions about the development of a framework for monitoring and evaluating policy developments related to cannabis regulatory reform.

To download the report, follow this link>>>

Cannabis legalisation in the United States – Towards a regulated market?

The French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) published a memo which describes the regulatory models that have been implemented since 2014 in the American states that have legalised cannabis, highlighting their differences and similarities. It also discusses the reform processes and common features of states that have legalised cannabis for medical and recreational use.

Author of the memorandum is Ivana Obradovic, OFDT Deputy Director.

After five full years of reform in Colorado and Washington State (2014 – 2018), first outcomes can be reported – although it is not clear whether they are directly attributable to cannabis being legalised. The most significant effects relate to the quick and large-scale industrial expansion of the cannabis supply chain. However, this economic boom has also seen the emergence of three public health concerns:

  • The substance is now aimed at all population profiles, from people who have never tried it to regular users and from young people to seniors. The increase in supply and its diversification have increased the incentives to use it, which is only made worse by marketing strategies emphasising cannabis’ “therapeutic virtues” or its dimension of socialisation.
  • The increase in the number of emergency calls and hospitalisations following acute intoxication highlights the difficulty of effectively regulating substances put on the market (particularly in terms of the concentration of active ingredients). At the same time, cannabis-related treatment demands have declined.
  • The decline in both the perceived dangerousness of cannabis and retail prices have led to it becoming more accessible and the substance being “normalised” which, according to public health stakeholders, could ultimately increase the risks and harm associated with its use (particularly among the younger generation).

To read the memo, follow this link>>>

European Cannabis Report

The European Cannabis Report™: Edition 4, published by Prohibition Partners, is the most extensive review to date of the European cannabis industry. It examines legislation, regulation, market size and market opportunities in 33 European countries, analysing myriad data points.

Home to more than 740 million people, a population more than double that of the United States and Canada combined, Europe is set to become the world’s largest legal cannabis market over the next five years. In the last 12 months alone, the European cannabis industry has grown more than in the last six years. Six countries have announced new legislation and over €500million has been invested in European cannabis businesses and as our exclusive research shows, Europe’s cannabis market is estimated to be worth up to €123 billion by 2028.

The European Cannabis Report™ 4th Edition examines:

  • Commercial and business opportunities in 33 European markets
  • Changing legislation and new regulatory guidelines across the region
  • Emerging trends, market forecasts and industry insights

Founded in 2017, Prohibition Partners specialise in explaining the latest legislative developments and key trends in the cannabis industry aiming to help understand the cannabis industry and its increasingly segmented sectors through authoritative research and unique strategic advice on licensing, regulatory and business opportunities. Their reports provide the most in-depth coverage of the international cannabis industry.

To obtain the report, follow this link>>>

Growing like weeds?

The cultivation of cannabis in Albania goes back several decades, but experienced a peak around 2016, at which point the police undertook an eradication operation in an attempt to curtail the country’s widespread cannabis production industry. A more recent resurgence in cannabis cultivation, however, points to the fact that the underlying drivers of this illicit economy are still in place. Without a concerted effort to address collusion in the cannabis market and the country’s structural conditions, which entice many young people to seek a livelihood in cannabis production, the conditions that enable the market are unlikely to be disrupted.

Key points of the brief on this issue “Growing like weeds? Rethinking Albania’s culture of cannabis cultivation“, published by the Civil Society Observatory to Counter Organized Crime in South-Eastern Europe, include:

  • The conditions that enable cannabis cultivation in Albania have been in place for many years.
  • Despite police crackdowns on cultivation, the phenomenon continues to be pervasive.
  • Cultivating cannabis is seen as a source of income for many, particularly the young.
  • Colluding state officials are among the drivers of the Albanian cannabis economy.
  • A new approach is needed to break the cycle of reliance that the cannabis economy provides and attract young people into legitimate work.

The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime is a network of prominent law enforcement, governance and development practitioners who are dedicated to seeking new and innovative strategies and responses to organized crime.

Policy briefs on current issues in the Western Balkans are published on a regular basis by the Civil Society Observatory to Counter Organized Crime in South-Eastern Europe which operates under The Global Initiative.  The Observatory is a platform that connects and empowers civil-society actors in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The Observatory aims to enable civil society to identify, analyse and map criminal trends, and their impact on illicit flows, governance, development, interethnic relations, security and the rule of law, and supports them in their monitoring of national dynamics and wider regional and international organized-crime trends.

The briefs draw on the expertise of a local civil-society network who provide new data and contextualize trends related to organized criminal activities and state responses to them.

To read this brief, follow this link>>>

Who is responsible for prosecuting cannabis in Slovenia?

There is still no official translation of the 1961 Convention, but the Ministry of Health is commissioning a study on other countries

In April, The National Assembly Health Committee called on the ministry to prepare the grounds for cannabis cultivation by the end of this year.

Where is the sticking point?

The Ministry of Health has announced a low-value study for analyzing the costs and benefits of regulating cannabis cultivation for medical purposes in Slovenia, while SD representative Bojana Muršič is asking Minister Minister Aleš Šabeder for the purpose, as all the explanations have been gathered in 2016. Members of Parliament have been misled for years.

The analysis should include an overview of cannabis cultivation regimes for medical purposes in the EU countries, identifying the varieties of cannabis that are most in demand on the market, as well as the presentation and dissemination of the results, which will take a year. It won’t be cheap; providers must prove they have completed at least two comparable health surveys worth at least € 25,000 in five years.

All these years, the officials of the ministry you lead ensure that the risks and costs outweigh the benefits that are minimal. In a public debate that has intensified in recent years, on a number of occasions from a number of different sources the ministry has been presented credible information, publicly and clearly, which they want to collect now through the public procurement and (re)use of public funds“, Muršič warns the minister and adds that in April, the National Assembly Health Committee called on the ministry to prepare the grounds for cannabis
cultivation by the end of this year.

cannabis
Photo: Voranc Vogel/Delo

The Convention does not classify hemp plants as illicit drugs; that is a Slovenian particularity that was added by an unofficial translation from ten years ago.

Confusion due to wrong translation

Even in the order, the ministry points out that the regulation on hemp use in our country is based on three UN conventions, first a single drug convention of 1961 and related protocols of 1972. “The basis for the classification of the cannabis plant as well as the resin in the illicit drug list is thus the Single Convention as well as the 1988 Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The Single Convention allows the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes under certain conditions”, the ministry writes.

But here’s the catch. The Convention does not classify hemp plants as llicit drugs; that is a Slovenian particularity that was added with an unofficial translation from ten years ago. Exactly three years ago, this translation of the convention was removed from the websites of all bodies, including the Ministry of Justice. Thus, Slovenia does not have an official translation of the convention, thus violating said convention. Even worse, this unofficial translation is still used by the courts and police in criminal proceedings.

cannabis
Photo: Roman Šipić/Delo

According to the Rules of Procedure, the Drugs Commission should operate in the Slovenian language, which is not easy when the Single convention is available in Serbian and French, since Slovenia succeeded it from Yugoslavia.

Who is responsible?

Responsibility for the professional preparation and coherence of the material, which appears everywhere from the government commission to the World Health Organization (WHO) regional organization, is in the Health promotion and control of chronic non-communicable diseases and conditions department of the Ministry of Health.

Author: Borut Tavčar, Delo

 

Members of the European Parliament recommended: Take medical use of cannabis seriously

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) proposed the ways to address research gaps on medical cannabis and call on member states to seize the potential of cannabis-based medicines.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday 11 September, MEPs call on the Commission and national authorities to draw a clear distinction between medical cannabis and other uses of cannabis. The resolution urges the Commission and member states to address regulatory, financial and cultural barriers which burden scientific research and invites them to properly fund research. The EU should embark on more research and stimulate innovation with regard to medicinal cannabis projects.

MEPs call on member states to allow doctors to use their professional judgement in prescribing cannabis-based medicines. When effective, these medicines are to be covered by health insurance schemes in the same way as other types of medicine, they say.

European Parliament

The regulation of cannabis-based medicines would translate into additional revenue for public authorities, would limit the black market and ensure quality and accurate labelling. It would also limit minors’ access to this substance, they say.

MEPs say that there is evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids may be effective in increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS. Medical cannabis may also help to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders such as psychosis or Tourette syndrome, and to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy, as well as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cancer, Crohn’s disease and glaucoma. They also help to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes and ease menstrual pain.

Whilst the WHO has officially recommended that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, legislation in member states differs widely on the subject of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The European Parliament is made up of 751 Members elected in the 28 Member States of the enlarged European Union. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period.

5th Cannabis International Seminar

Research Nature Institute organizes 5th seminar in the Demystifying Cannabis cycle, Cannabis Now International Conference on October the 4th and 5th in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The seminar has been organised since 2014 in Ljubljana, Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb.

During the seminar, the Slovenian and international top-level experts on cannabis will introduce us to the most recent insights into the medical use of cannabis in different countries around the world (Israel, Canada, USA, the Czech Republic, Spain). After their lecture, they will respond to your questions in a debate. The attenders and speakers at the Conference are experts in field of medicine, psychiatry, pharmacy, chemistry and biology: Dr. Jonathan Grunfeld, Dr. Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, Prof. Dr. David Neubauer, Dr. Sue Sisley, Doc. dr. Tanja Bagar, Dr. Dorothy H. Bray, Dr. Guillermo Velasco Díez, Dr. Paul Hornby, Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah Turnšek, Mag. Dušan Nolimal, Dr. Ilya Reznik, Dr. Roman Štukelj.

Research Nature Institute

Research Nature Institute is institute for research, development and quality assurance of nature remedies, with the goal to research the efficacy and safety of natural remedies that are currently available or are of limited access to persons in need. By setting standards for quality control and standardization, providing accreditation programs, and taking part in clinical trials, their aim is to ensure natural remedies are clean (free of contaminants) and effective at known dosages to the user. Their basic work is to educate the public, medical professionals and legislators of our findings based on sound scientific methodologies and principles.

To read more details about this event follow this link>>>

European Citizens Initiative on Cannabis

A group of drug policy reformers from Italy, France and possibly Belgium is working on the text of a European Citizens Initiative concerning a comprehensive reform of cannabis regulations at the EU level. The Initiative aims at making the EU adopt a common policy on the control and legal regulation of cannabis production, adult use and sale.

There is currently a heterogeneous legal map as regards cannabis policies in the EU. The question of coherence and discrimination is primordial. A common policy on the control and legal regulation of cannabis production, adult use and sale would: (a) ensure equality before the law and non-discrimination of all EU citizens; (b) protect consumers and monitor health security; (c) end cannabis illicit trafficking. Let’s leap toward the legalization of cannabis and the harmonization of national legislation across the EU.

The target at this stage is to ensure the participation of organisations that will collect 1 million signatures among European citizens reached in at least 7 counties (here’s the minimum number of signatories per member state).

Should you be interested in contributing to the text first and, eventually, to join the campaign in 2020, please write to Lorenzo Mineo who is coordinating the exercise.

Research Publication on the Effectiveness of Cannabinoids on Glioblastoma

Slovenian National Institute of Biology and University Medical Centre Ljubljana, with MGC Pharma Research and Development Division, conducted the study about the treatment of high-grade brain tumours, i.e. glioblastoma with cannabinoids. The general aim of the research was to develop formulations to define the protocols for the treatment.

Study evaluated cannabinoid receptor proteins that may add to identify the most effective cytotoxic cannabinoids, known so far, e.g. CBD and THC ratios and further their possible synergistic effects with chemotherapeutic Temozolomide (‘TMZ’) with regards to the treatment of glioblastoma patients.

Conclusions of the study

Cannabinoids, especially at increasing THC concentrations, reduce the viability of glioblastoma cells.

Targeting glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) that are more resistant to chemotherapy. GSC has so far proved to be more vulnerable to cannabinoids than were differentiated cell (publication in preparation).

At optimal concentration for each patient, the defined cannabinoids composition represents promising tool to reduce tumour burden.

Research collaboration is part of MGC Pharma’s strategy of partnering with leading research institutions to examine opportunities to develop new pharma products based on proven cannabinoid formulations in pre-and clinical studies.

The study results can be viewed on the Company’s website and will be presented by the National Institute of Biology at the 2nd International Annual Congress on Controversies on Cannabis-Based Medicines in Barcelona, Spain on 23-24 May 2019.

Concert for decriminalisation

“The initiative to change the cannabis legislation” – Association IRKA, together with the Social cannabis club Beograd and cannabis vlog Domaćica, organised the Concert for Cannabis Decriminalisation on 4 May 2019, if front of the National Parliament in Belgrade, Serbia. The concert was dedicated to celebration of the International day for cannabis-related protests and events, known around the World as the “Weed Day”.

IRKA is the first official association advocating cannabis legalization in Serbia, founded in August 2013. Members are patients, their family members and all the citizens who want to help them achieve the ability to legally obtain and use cannabis and the extract of cannabis flowers in order to treat their conditions.

A selection of musicians, mainly reggae and rock musicians, performed from late afternoon to the midnight for hundreds of fans and much more people passing by.