War on Drugs

Hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca gains foothold in US


27th Dec 2016

Dominique was hooked on cocaine and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day until she stumbled onto ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic concoction that she says has changed her life.

The French-American woman, who lives in Los Angeles and did not want her real name used, is among thousands of people across the United States who are increasingly turning to the powerful psychedelic brew from the Amazon to overcome addiction, depression or psychological trauma.

The potion, prepared and consumed as part of a shamanic ritual, is especially gaining a following in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Thousands are flocking to sample the elixir and swear by its therapeutic properties, despite warnings from scientists and users that ayahuasca can be dangerous and even prove fatal, especially when mixed with other drugs.

Ayahuasca’s proponents, who include celebrities such as Sting, Paul Simon, Tori Amos and Lindsey Lohan, say the plant offers a spiritual experience like no other. Many also say it has allowed them to overcome traumas that no other conventional therapy can tackle.

“There’s been this misconception that it’s the hippies that come with feathers in their hair, but it’s pretty much the opposite,” says Jeff, who organizes ayahuasca ceremonies in the Los Angeles area and who did not want his real name used.

“In a time defined by consumerism and entertainment, people want to have strong experiences, one might consider spiritual experiences, something sacred.”

According to Dennis McKenna, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, some 100 clandestine ayahuasca ceremonies are held nightly in New York and other cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

McKenna said it is difficult to get a firm count on the number of ceremonies held across the country as ayahuasca contains the hallucinogenic drug dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is illegal in the United States and is in the same category as Ecstasy and heroin.

Two Brazilian churches in the western United States that use ayahuasca as a sacrament are exempt from the ban.

Firm believers in ayahuasca say they drink the foul-tasting tea only at intervals of several months and must observe a strict diet before sampling the brew.


– ‘Pink swallows’ –

The ceremonies are often held outdoors and are usually accompanied by meditation and spiritual songs called icaros.

Users of ayahuasca describe a sort of out-of-body experience that allows them to confront some of their worst fears.

“I saw pink and violet swallows, and green geometric shapes,” recalled Leonard.

Such visions, however, are often accompanied by darker ones that are described as terrifying. Users also experience lots of vomiting, described as purging.

“The purging aspect is very cathartic,” says Jeff. “They consider it antiparasitic in the jungle.”

Some say they come out of the experience with no distinct revelation while others describe a radical transformation.

“I stopped smoking, started meditating and reconnecting with nature,” says Leonard. “And I made peace with my parents.”

The effects of the brew have prompted growing interest among scientists and researchers like Jessica Nielson, a University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist who is studying ayahuasca.

Nielson said she became interested in the potion after trying it herself while on a trip to Peru.

“Two people I was with in Peru who had severe PTSD seemed totally healed just after,” she said.

Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who studied ayahuasca’s use in a Brazilian church, said he is seeing a shift in attitude toward the brew and growing acceptance that it may be worth studying.

“Western medicine and psychiatry often struggle in treating substance abusers and alcohol abusers,” Grob said. “So it’s certainly worth looking at it.”

While scientists in the United States confront legal obstacles in studying the brew, much research is being conducted in other countries, notably Spain and Brazil, where ayahuasca is legal.

Grob cited a pilot study in Brazil involving people suffering from chronic depression and who didn’t respond well to anti-depressants.

“The preliminary results are positive,” he said.

Still, scientists caution that the brew can be dangerous, especially if mixed with other drugs and should be avoided by those who have asthma, suffer from epilepsy and are bipolar or schizophrenic, as the concoction can trigger psychotic episodes.

“You have to screen people to make sure everybody is mentally up for the experience,” said Jeff.

“The worst I’ve had is somebody who was screaming for a couple hours,” he added. “But he was fine the next day and came back.”






National Guard, State Police raid 81-year-old woman’s home to seize pot plant

pot jones

7th Oct 2016

e Massachusetts National Guard and State Police reportedly joined forces to seize a single marijuana plant from an 81-year-old woman.

According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Margaret Holcomb had been growing the marijuana plant as a medicine. She reportedly used the marijuana to ease her arthritis and glaucoma and to help her sleep at night.


The paper reports that the plant had been growing on Holcomb’s property in a raspberry patch. It was reportedly separated from her neighbors by a fence.

On September 21, a military-style helicopter and police arrived at Holcomb’s home, entered her backyard and cut down the plant, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.

Holcomb was not home at the time, but her son and daughter were. The paper reports that Holcomb did not have a medical marijuana card. Police said the plant was in plain view.

Holcomb told the paper that she feels like her civil rights were violated and said she’s ready to stand up in the case.




Charlotte Police Foment Unrest And Attempt To Use Marijuana To Justify Killing Keith Lamont Scott


28th Sept 2016

Keith Lamont Scott is dead at the age of 43. A father of seven children with a wife of 20 years and a cognitive impairment from a motorcycle accident, Mr. Scott is gone from this earth and lost from his loved ones, invariably leaving them with unspeakable grief. Meanwhile, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina is inflamed with massive public discontent in the form of protests.

Why did Mr. Scott lose his life? Charlotte police claim he had a gun. His family says he was holding a book. Video footage released by both Scott’s wife and the police is jarring and disturbing but gives no conclusive evidence about the gun. Charlotte police stepped out with more information over the weekend to explain their use of extreme violence: They claim that Scott was in possession of marijuana.

At a Saturday press conference, Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said that police initially approached Scott because he was in possession of marijuana, but that the situation escalated when police allegedly saw Scott was also in possession of a gun.

So Keith Lamont Scott is dead because of a joint and a mystery gun or whatever else may have been in his hand.

I have pointed out again and again, really to the point of exhaustion and despair (so much so that I could barely bring myself to write about this another time), that even though the national debate is evolving about marijuana use and drug policy, police departments seem to be stuck a hundred years ago, when “cocaine-crazed Negros” and Mexican “reefer madness” were the order of the day.

The fact that police continue to reference drugs as a contributing factor in their decisions to execute people (as was done just last week in the case of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma), means they are either really misinformed about drug use and public safety (scary) or blatantly using drugs to cover their asses when they behave in racist ways, abuse their power and kill someone (even scarier).

It is disturbing and extreme and should be making all of us sick to our stomachs. Marijuana is a substance that has been used by half of Americans, is cheerfully enjoyed throughout pop culture, and in several states is a burgeoning legal commodity. But apparently, if you’re black in North Carolina, marijuana possession is also just cause for public execution.

This must end. The drug war is a racist tool for committing human rights abuses and has given a greenlight to state violence and police corruption. We must legalize marijuana, end the drug war, and make every endeavor to repair the harms caused by decades of this monstrous policy.



source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharda-sekaran/charlotte-police-foment-unrest-marijuana-keith-lamont-scott_b_12217230.html

Pill Testing Is to Be Introduced at Music Festivals in Every State Except NSW


3rd May 2016

Festival season may seem like a distant, glittering mirage on the other side of winter, but pill testing advocate Dr David Caldicott already has big plans. The senior ANU medical lecturer has revealed he’s in talks with police and politicians around Australia, and will be introducing pill-testing trials at Australian music festivals within the next year.

Dr Caldicott tells VICE in an ideal situation pill testing will soon become “politically palatable” enough that a state or territory government will step forward to support a trial at a music festival, and there would be an amnesty with law enforcement. Research in Europe has shown that this is the most effective approach. “This is such a mundane thing now in Europe they actually have best practice guidelines,” he says. “It’s not as though we are inventing something really naughty.”

And, as Caldicott explains, it’s not as though there’s no precedent for police turning a blind eye to drug use in the name of harm minimisation. “It’s not like there are police standing outside of Kings Cross [Medically Supervised Injecting Centre] arresting people,” he says. “But right now there’s nothing to stop the police surrounding our tent and arresting everyone who approaches.”

New South Wales—where most of the recent festival overdoses have happened—seems to be the jurisdiction that’s least likely to budge on pill testing. Dr Caldicott says while other jurisdictions have been open to discussing the potential of a trial, NSW remains resolutely against it, particularly the state’s deputy premier Troy Grant.

“It’s everybody’s individual responsibility not to take drugs and put a gun in their mouth or play Russian roulette with God knows what they are going to ingest,” Grant said after the hospitalisation of a 23-year-old woman at the Field Day festival.

This abstinence approach was echoed by NSW Premier Mike Baird, who told Sunrise earlier this year: “Don’t do it. That is the best form of safety you can do. Don’t take the pills and you’ll be fine.”

However, Dr Caldicott says this is an extremely outdated approach that’s as practical as trying to get young people to abstain from sex before marriage. “We’re kind of like the condoms of the harm reduction world. We’re trying to keep people safe,” he explains.

When VICE asked police around the country for their stance on pill testing, none would go on the record whether they would support a trial. South Australia Police said they would not be able to comment on the matter but did “urge the community to remember the significant risks posed by taking illicit drugs” and directed anyone with information about drug dealing to contact CrimeStoppers.

Victoria Police provided a more extensive statement to VICE, outlining its concerns around the limitations of pill-testing. Obviously, the legal side of things could be tricky for the police. As a police spokesperson explained if a trial were to go ahead, the substances being tested would still be illicit.

“There is currently limited data on the effectiveness of pill testing in Australia,” the spokesperson added. “Whilst testing may be able to indicate the possible presence of a class of drug, it may be unable to provide clear identification of a particular drug, or information on drug purity, toxicity, or other components present in the sample.”

Dr Caldicott says that’s actually factually incorrect. The technology he intends to use isn’t your run-of-the-mill reagent test (sales of which have gone up by 1000 percent over the last few years). They will be able to give festivalgoers a good understanding of the pill’s active ingredient and, if the sample is large enough, “you can quite clearly get the idea of how strong a tablet is.”

Consumer reagent tests. Image via

There’s been a lot of discussion around whether Caldicott and his fellow pill testing advocates, such as Dr Alex Wodak who spoke to VICE back in March, could be jailed if their went ahead with a trial. Caldicott says this isn’t a concern. Any drugs being tested will be only handled by a forensic scientist, who is licensed to handle these substances.

During the 20-30 minutes it will take to test the drugs, doctors will be present to talk to people about their drug use: To ensure they aren’t taking other medication that could cause an adverse reaction, to give them information about the dangers of taking more than one pill. “What we’re seeing in Europe is pills that are 200-300mG of pure MDMA going through the market,” Dr Caldicott explains. “Double drop with that and you’re getting very close to a lethal dose.”

Ultimately, as an emergency room physician, Dr Caldicott sees this as a case of taking the approach that stops people dying. He believes police outside NSW are increasingly seeing pill testing as a practical step that will provide more information about what new drugs are flowing into the market; political opposition is just the last vestiges of the war on drugs.

“The Australian Medical Association called for a pilot pill testing back in November 2005. This has been on the books for a decade,” Dr Caldicott says. “How long will this go on for? How many people need to be sacrificed on the altar of some ideology?”


source: http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/pill-testing-is-to-be-introduced-at-music-festivals-around-australia

Growing medicinal marijuana in Australia

pot jones

10th Jan 2016

2016 could be the year Australia officially starts growing grass commercially – if a Parliamentary Bill is given the green light in February.

The “green dollar” could start rolling in, medicinal cannabis trials could see greater avenues of domestically-supplied product, and Christmas Island could become Australia’s newest cannabis capital – according to AusCann’s Doctor Mal Washer.

After pushes for medicinal cannabis growth has faced a handful of setbacks in the past few years, and the issue grows increasingly complex, where’s the movement for commercially-grown medicinal cannabis currently at?

Attempt 1: Tassie

Back in 2014, Tasmania was looking likely to become the first State in Australia to grow medicinal cannabis legally. Until the March 2014 State Election, when the incumbent Liberal Government was elected – and shut down the proposition.

“They wouldn’t have a bar of us,” says Doctor Mal Washer, the founder of AusCann—Australia’s leading group lobbying for the growth of medicinal cannabis—and a former Western Australian Liberal MP.

That’s despite Tasmanian farmers supplying about half of the world’s medical opiates (like morphine) through poppy cultivation.

AusCann isn’t involved with medicinal cannabis trials in Australia. More than anything else, AusCann is a business, and they’re looking for a plot to start growing marijuana and export to the medicinal market overseas.

Tasmania has since had a change of heart, as they signed a memorandum of understanding with the NSW government to conduct medical cannabis trials, research and investigate the cultivation of cannabis crops in December. This means Tassie will be in charge of cultivating and transporting cannabis for trials in NSW, despite not holding their own trials in Tasmania.

The Queensland government has also announced medical cannabis trials for children with drug-resistant forms of severe epilepsy. The Victorian government has also introduced their own Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 – which would provide legal framework for the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis in the state.

Attempt 2: Norfolk Island

But Tasmania’s change of government didn’t deter AusCann. A few months later in 2014, the group was negotiating with Norfolk Island to grow crops there instead.

Norfolk Island’s administrator Gary Hardgrave soon vetoed a licence for AusCann to grow crops on the island in 2014 – citing health and safety concerns.

That hurdle stalled AusCann’s plans – until 2015, when a licence was officially granted to the company. They were the first Australian company given the green light to grow and export medicinal marijuana – and they’d already estimated a production of 10 tonnes of the stuff by 2018.

But that licence was granted a few months after a turning point in Norfolk Island’s history – when its government was dissolved, ending their period of self-government. The move made the legality of AusCann’s licence uncertain, and sparked a review.

Attempt 3: Christmas Island

Moving forward, AusCann is feeling optimistic about their newest proposed site to grow medicinal cannabis: Christmas Island.

“We hope to plant in March or April [2016]. Then if we get it in the ground to plant and we don’t have any problems, We could do that and have it out before next Christmas,” AusCann’s Mal Washer tells Hack. Even though his movement has met roadblocks over the years, he’s upbeat about medicinal cannabis crops appearing soon.

In February, a Federal bill from Health Minister Sussan Ley is expected to recommend an amendment to current legislation. According to a release by Ley in early December, the legislation could make way for “a nationally-consistent licencing scheme” to regulate the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.

“My feeling is, if it’s a reasonable proposition, that it’ll get universal support from all parties. Because I think most understand now that there is a need for medical cannabis,” Mal Washer says.

“My impression is, that the Nationals, certainly the Liberal Party, certainly the Labor party and the Greens are all on side with this – if the bill is good.”

Where would exports end up?

If stars align for Mal Washer and AusCann, and Christmas on Christmas Island is greener than usual, which market would benefit from the goods?

Although Canada’s legislation on medicinal cannabis did close international imports, the newly-elected Trudeau Government could switch things back, Washer says. If not, other international markets could be ripe for Australian Made medical marijuana.

Unwanted neighbours

AusCann’s plan might seem fairly solid – but the tiny Christmas Island community isn’t on board.

At the moment, the majority of Christmas Island’s population (around 2000) don’t support the growth of medicinal cannabis – or so says the Island’s Shire President, Gordon Thomson.

Thomson told Hack that a significant proportion of his community feared AusCann’s crops would end up in the hands of young people.

“Logically, it’s likely, isn’t it,” Thomson says.

“They [the community] don’t want the place to be awash with pot, and I understand their point of view. Although I don’t necessarily agree with it.”

Thomson’s umbrage with AusCann’s plan is twofold – he thinks a massive security operation to “keep young people out” of the marijuana would be a “stupid” eyesore; and he doesn’t want his community and their land to be exploited for big profit – with nothing given back to locals.

Keep in mind just how fertile the medicinal marijuana industry is: in the US, the legal marijuana industry (86% of which is used for medicinal purposes) raked in US$2.7 billion during 2014. It’s one of America’s fastest-growing industries.

“I encouraged [AusCann] to have local people involved [in the project] have a stake in it. Their view of that is, I think, ‘well you’ll get employment. And we’ll take everything and turn it into fat profits for our company’,” Thomson says.

But AusCann’s Mal Washer doesn’t agree.

He says his work for AusCann isn’t done for the money, even though the business could be hugely profitable. “I feel good about doing it. That’s my reward,” Mal says.

But Washer also says AusCann wants to get the community involved, and eventually offer them financial stakes in their project. He understands how it could seem like AusCann has rocked up out of the blue – ready to use their land, give nothing back financially, and open up the floodgates for young people to blaze it.

“If I was them I’d get a bit peeved by that too – and that’s not our intention. It’s just premature to start talking business with them when we’re only doing trials at this stage,” Washer explains.

As for young people getting their hands on Australia’s first legal cannabis crops? Even if they could, they wouldn’t want to, Washer says, because the type of medicinal marijuana wouldn’t make for a good toke.

“At the end of the day, this medicinal marijuana we’ll be planting is going to be low in THC, less than point 1 percent. It’s the THC that gives recreational users the high.

“They’re not going to get anything out of it recreationally.”

But Thomson doesn’t buy Washer’s argument. “I’m quite sure [the medicinal cannabis] would have a pleasant effect. That’s why they’re growing the stuff.”

What’s Plan B?

AusCann aren’t the types to back down. Hack asked Mal Washer where their crops could find their next home if Christmas Island doesn’t work out.

Western Australia has options galore, Mal says. “From Kununnurra in the North to Albany in the South, you’ve got a heck of a range of good growing conditions.”


source: http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/medicinal-cannabis/7071636

Smoking high strength cannabis may damage nerve fibres in brain

brain and

27th Nov 2015

High-strength cannabis may damage nerve fibres that handle the flow of messages across the two halves of the brain, scientists claim. Brain scans of people who regularly smoked strong skunk-like cannabis revealed subtle differences in the white matter that connects the left and right hemispheres and carries signals from one side of the brain to the other.

The changes were not seen in those who never used cannabis or smoked only the less potent forms of the drug, the researchers found.

The study is thought to be the first to look at the effects of cannabis potency on brain structure, and suggests that greater use of skunk may cause more damage to the corpus callosum, making communications across the brain’s hemispheres less efficient.

Paola Dazzan, a neurobiologist at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said the effects appeared to be linked to the level of active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in cannabis. While traditional forms of cannabis contain 2 to 4 % THC, the more potent varieties (of which there are about 100), can contain 10 to 14% THC, according to the DrugScope charity.

“If you look at the corpus callosum, what we’re seeing is a significant difference in the white matter between those who use high potency cannabis and those who never use the drug, or use the low-potency drug,” said Dazzan. The corpus callosum is rich in cannabinoid receptors, on which the THC chemical acts.

“The difference is there whether you have psychosis or not, and we think this is strictly related to the potency of the cannabis,” she added. Details of the study are reported in the journal Psychological Medicine.

The researchers used two scanning techniques, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to examine the corpus callosum, the largest region of white matter, in the brains of 56 patients who had reported a first episode of psychosis, and 43 healthy volunteers from the local community.

The scans found that daily users of high-potency cannabis had a slightly greater – by about 2% – “mean diffusivity” in the corpus callosum. “That reflects a problem in the white matter that ultimately makes it less efficient,” Dazzan told the Guardian. “We don’t know exactly what it means for the person, but it suggests there is less efficient transfer of information.”

The study cannot confirm that high levels of THC in cannabis cause changes to white matter. As Dazzan notes, it is may be that people with damaged white matter are more likely to smoke skunk in the first place.

“It is possible that these people already have a different brain and they are more likely to use cannabis. But what we can say is if it’s high potency, and if you smoke frequently, your brain is different from the brain of someone who smokes normal cannabis, and from someone who doesn’t smoke cannabis at all,” she said.

But even with the uncertainty over cause and effect, she urged users and public health workers to change how they think about cannabis use. “When it comes to alcohol, we are used to thinking about how much people drink, and whether they are drinking wine, beer, or whisky. We should think of cannabis in a similar way, in terms of THC and the different contents cannabis can have, and potentially the effects on health will be different,” she said.

“As we have suggested previously, when assessing cannabis use, it is extremely important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used. These details can help quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness of the type of damage these substances can do to the brain,” she added.

In February, Dazzan and others at the Institute of Psychiatry reported that the ready availability of skunk in south London might be behind a rise in the proportion of new cases of psychosis being attributed to cannabis.


source: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/27/smoking-high-strength-cannabis-skunk-may-damage-nerves-brain

Amsterdam dance music festival allows people to carry up to five ecstasy pills

pills and

16th Oct 2015

An Amsterdam dance music festival has reportedly announced that it will not charge people caught in possession of up to five ecstasy pills.

Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), which began on Wednesday and will finish on Sunday features some of the biggest names from the industry including Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold and David Guetta.

In the past the festival has said it would not charge people caught with one pill, but NME reports it has now introduced a “five pills or fewer” policy.

“Keep in mind that hard drugs are still illegal”, the festival wrote on its website.

According to music news website Consequence of Sound, an “extremely potent batch of ecstasy has been circulating in Amsterdam as of late, and festival organisers hope that such tolerance will promote a safer concert experience. The festival will have a drug testing centre on-site to assist festival-goers in checking the composition of their drugs.”

Local media reported that there was recently an “extremely dangerous” batch of ecstasy pills being circulated with the ADE logo.

Marja Ruigrok, People’s Party For Freedom & Democracy (VVD) chairman, told Dutch TV station AT5: “It is strange that we are so much more generous in Amsterdam in that policy.”

“I find five pills too much for one person. You could perhaps be well off with just one. But we actually believe that you should not do it at all. It is dangerous, you do not know what it contains. It is forbidden.”

At least three deaths at last year’s festival were linked to drugs.

Ecstasy use among young people in Britain has reached the highest level for more than a decade, according to a report out in July.

A recent Home Office report showed that 5.4 per cent of 16-24 year olds had taken the drug over the past year, compared to 3.9 per cent in 2014.

This amounts to almost 100,000 new users, bringing the total number of young adults who have tried ecstasy to 250,000. However, there was a significant decrease in the number of young people who admitted to taking a Class A drug over the past twelve months.

“Although the long-term trend in last year ecstasy use among young adults shows many fluctuations, the overall long-term direction before the recent increases was downward. It is too early to say whether the latest estimates show a change in the direction of the trend, or another fluctuation”, the Home Office said.

The study also provided one of the first official insights into the new prevalence of new psychoactive substances (NPS), synthetic chemicals that are often referred to as “legal highs”, although a ban has recently been announced.


source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/11934897/Amsterdam-dance-music-festival-allows-people-to-carry-up-to-five-ecstasy-pills.html

Drug use is a ‘human right’ – MPs

20th Aug 2015
Taking recreational drugs and growing your own cannabis is a ‘human right’ according to a group of MPs and peers, who say human rights legislation could be used by defendants to avoid prosecution.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, made up of lawmakers and ex-senior police figures, has suggested possession and growing drugs should not be a criminal offence because the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) stipulates the right to a private life.

The ECHR, in particular Article 8, could be invoked in support of the argument that possession or purchase (or cultivation of drugs for personal use) do not injure other people’s rights and therefore should not be criminalized,” the report states.

It adds that the blanket ban on drugs has so far proved unsuccessful.

Given the high-profile members of the group, including Justice Secretary Lord Falconer and former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, pro-drugs activists are likely to leap on the findings.

However, critics say the group’s conclusions would trigger one test case brought by a drug user, which, if successful, could “open the floodgates.

Mary Brett, from charity Cannabis Skunk Sense, said the committee’s report is fundamentally flawed.

This is diabolical” she said. “Of course drugs injure other people. People can get psychotic when they take cannabis and can get really violent. We see the harm it does to families. Also, people steal to get money to buy drugs. That injures others.”

The report admits that in some circumstances other people are harmed by the effects of drug use, but concludes that the effects are no worse than people drinking alcohol.

It further calls for the government to introduce an “experimental ethos” to drug use that has “less focus upon prohibition, and greater emphasis upon human rights, public health and social welfare.”

Chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz also said the report took the wrong approach to tackling drug use.

This is novel as far as decriminalization is concerned. One exemption, though minor, could open the floodgates. Human rights legislation is not designed to be used in this way.”

Joint head of the inquiry Baroness Meacher said it would be “wonderful if our government would trial a regulated market” for the sale of cannabis.

A government spokesman said authorities are not currently planning to act upon the report’s advice.

“This government has no intention of decriminalizing or legalizing drugs,” the spokesperson said.


source: http://www.rt.com/uk/312841-drug-users-human-rights/

Could Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers Benefit From Cannabis Chewing Gum?

18th Aug 2015

AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on global research, development and production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food and cosmetic products derived from industrial hemp, has announced commencement of clinical development of its leading patented pharmaceutical chewing gum, MedChew RX, for registration as a drug for relieving pain and/or spasticity in patients suffering from with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Once approvals by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and its European counterpart EMA (European Medicines Agency) are granted, MedChew RX, which is formulated with 5 mg of the hemp-derived cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) respectively, will be marketed as a pharmaceutical drug for treating multiple sclerosis (MS).

AXIM Biotech notes that traditional cannabinoid delivery methods such as smoking, or the oral/GI route have unwanted side effects and a reduced efficacy. Consequently, the company is targeting chewing gum as a functional vehicle for uptake of cannabinoids via the oral mucosal membrane, observing that gum-chewing is a far superior, safer, and more socially accepted delivery method than for example smoking or vaporizing.

“An ideal cannabinoid delivery method should allow for predictable and controlled release of the active ingredients, which should bypass the first-pass liver metabolism thus increasing the bioavailability of the cannabinoid and decrease inactive or harmful metabolites says Dr. George Anastassov, President of AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc. in a release. “It should not be socially stigmatizing, such as using tablets, capsules, sprays, vapes, etc. It should have a pleasant taste and consistency and lack of undesirable side effects such as uncontrollable psychotropic consequences. It should not induce food cravings and should be economically affordable for both producers and consumers. Chewing gum meets all of these criteria as well as provides multiple additional advantages.”

AXIM Biotech is obtaining its supply of cannabinoid strains from the Dutch Government’s Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis — delivered by the growing facility Bedrocan BV in The Netherlands. AXIM Biotech has developed with its product development partner, Syncom BV, unique extraction and purification methods for the pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids and already applied for patents for all of these innovations. The multilayer medical chewing gum with cannabinoids is developed at Fertin Pharma based in Vejle, Denmark. Xendo BV is in charge of the regulatory affairs and QPS BV, a clinical research organization based in The Netherlands, is in charge of managing the entire project including the clinical strategy and trials.

“AXIM is pleased to report that the project is on track,” comments Lekhram Changoer, MSc, BSc and Chief Technology Officer of AXIM Biotech. “After having developed the extracted and purified cannabinoids, the MedChew RX drug product is in the process of development whereby different prototypes are developed with a variation of the drug product in different gum layers. This is a very important step in order to create the option to choose for the best drug product after the bioavailability tests in order to assure an effective, sustained release of the drug product in the mucosal membrane area.”

“The phase 1 PK/PD study activities are planned to start in Q2 of 2016, whereby the release profiles of the different chewing gum products will be compared and a decision will be made on PK/PD analysis. This will determine which of the multilayered gum will be tested on efficacy in Phase 2/3 clinical trials on MS patients,” Dr. Changoer continues. “After completion of the Phase 1 study, Phase 2/3 efficacy patient trials will be started at renowned clinical trial centers in The Netherlands, UK, USA, and others. In The Netherlands the studies are carried out at the VU University in Amsterdam and their respective MS center at the department of Neurology.”

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Discussing the further benefits of a chewing-gum delivery mechanism, Dr. Anastassov explains that “According to Dr. Roxane Weijenberg, PhD, who is the clinical trial coordinator at the Free University of Amsterdam, besides the obvious pharmacological properties of cannabinoids there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the act of mastication (chewing) itself has therapeutic effects.” (Weijenberg, R.A., E.J. Chreder, and F. Lobbezoo, Mastication for the Mind-The Relationship Between Mastication and Cognition in Ageing and Dementia. In Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev., 2011.35(3):p. 483-497.)

“This is due to the fact that mastication promotes the following: neurogenesis, hypothalamic-hypophiseal-adrenal axis attenuation, cardiovascular stimulation, enriched environment, and promotion of oral health,” Dr. Anastassov continues. “The positive effects of mastication are acute and long-term. Acute effects include: arousal, cognition, stress reduction and fresh breath. Long-term effects include: prevention of loss of cognition associated with aging, prevention of dry-mouth due to saliva production stimulation, and improved oral hygiene.”

AXIM Biotech is producing a broad range of proprietary delivery mechanisms for introduction of natural components of the cannabis (hemp) plant known as cannabinoids (a class of diverse hemp-derived chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain — e.g. CBD, CBG, THC, and roughly 80 others). AXIM Biotech’s intellectual property, to date, includes many patent applications in various stages of application, with additional inventions to be filed soon, as well as trademark applications; many of them are approved trademarks. All of AXIM’s products are supported by solid intellectual property prior to being produced and distributed worldwide.

As the exclusive license recipient to the world’s first controlled-release chewing gum containing cannabinoids, AXIM Biotechnologies is pursuing two global markets: food with CanChew Plus and pharmaceutical with MedChew RX. Award-winning CanChew gum, a food product, is available today; CanChew Plus is planned to be available soon.

AXIM Biotech’s core mission is grounded in responsibility for environmental stewardship combined with development of innovative products to address current conditions with no known effective treatment, such Parkinson’sdisease, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), PTSD, autism, MS, spasticity, pain, RLS (restless leg syndrome), glaucoma, IBD, IBS and Crohn’s disease. Cannabinoids have been shown both anecdotally and scientifically found to hold encouraging promise in alleviating the suffering caused by those disorders.

AXIM Biotechnologies emphasizes that the company does not sell or distribute any products that are in violation of the United States Controlled Substances Act (US.CSA), but does grow, sell, and distribute hemp-based products, and on July 31, 2015 issued a statement of clarification of its status.

AXIM Biotechnologies Clarifies Relationship With Medical Marijuana, Inc. and CanChew Biotechnologies

“We have received numerous telephone calls from the public leading us to believe there is general confusion relating to our relationship with Medical Marijuana, Inc. and CanChew Biotechnologies, LLC,” says AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc. President Dr. George Anastassov in the statement. “AXIM’s business focus has been and continues to be on being an innovative biotechnology company working on solutions for the treatment of pain, spasticity, anxiety and other medical disorders and symptoms with the application of cannabinoid-based products as well as focusing on research, development and production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, oral health and cosmetic products as well as procurement of genetically and nano-controlled active ingredients.”

In its statement the company explains that:

“Medical Marijuana, Inc. (MJNA) is the first publicly held company vested in the medical marijuana and industrial hemp markets. MJNA is comprised of a diversified portfolio of products, services, technology and businesses solely focused on the cannabis and hemp industries. MJNA is a major shareholder of AXIM, holding approximately 47 percent of our common stock, but neither it nor any of its affiliates participate in the management or operations of AXIM in any manner. Sanammad Foundation, a Netherlands based company, also owns 47 percent of our common stock. Sanammad Foundation’s three members, Dr. George Anastassov, Dr. Philip A. Van Damme and Dr. Lekhram Changoer, are AXIM’s three directors and manage AXIM’s daily operations.”

“CanChew Biotechnologies, LLC, holds a US patent for the production of unique time-release cannabinoid-infused chewing gum. On May 1, 2015, AXIM entered into a 50 year, worldwide, exclusive licensing agreement with CanChew wherein AXIM acquired the intellectual property rights underlying the patent to allow AXIM to produce CanChew Plus a unique time-release industrial hemp oil derived CBD (cannabidiol)-infused chewing gum. Medical Marijuana, Inc. financed CanChew’s initial operations and owns 50% of CanChew’s membership interest. However, in accordance with the company’s operating agreement, Medical Marijuana, Inc. does not manage or control CanChew’s operations. Sanammad Foundation owns the remaining 50% membership interest of CanChew and manages daily operations.”

Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Stuart Titus adds:

“MJNA and the new leadership has recognized the value of the wonderful leadership that the AXIM team provides. Alongside the new relationship with CanChew Biotechnologies and their patent on chewing gum and cannabinoids — the promise for significant IP, significant new products and pharmaceutical development exists.

“MJNA salutes and supports the team led by Dr. Anastassov in their clinical efforts and believes their delivery method for cannabinoids may provide a well-accepted and therapeutically improved delivery for cannabinoid-based pain medication, via the MedChew clinical trials ongoing in Europe. Recent FDA warnings have shown additional potential side effects from traditional NSAID medications — thus the MedChew trials are quite timely and well-needed. In fact, the FDA equivalent in The Netherlands asked AXIM to specifically carry on these well-needed trials.”

“Although MJNA and our team are not directly involved with these efforts, nonetheless, we strongly support any and all studies for safety and efficacy that the AXIM team is involved with. At MJNA we feel that further research will show the full potential for cannabinoids to the world of medicine — just as many anecdotal stories have shown with the botanical formulations available today.”

source: http://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2015/08/12/multiple-sclerosis-sufferers-benefit-cannabis-chewing-gum/