Last Week in Weed Issue 41

Last Week in Weed

(20/9/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog written by Simpa

In this week’s issue of Last Week In Weed, We’ll be looking at Uruguay wanting to open its cannabis market to tourists, WADA looking at removing cannabis from its banned drugs list, and Italy moving closer to a public referendum on the legality of cannabis.

Image: GreenDolphin.com

Uruguay wants to welcome cannabis tourists

First up this week, we’ll take a look at Uruguay, the South American nation that was the first country to ‘legalise’ cannabis back in 2013. Nearly a decade later and the socially liberal nation looks set to finally allow tourists and non-nationals to purchase and consume cannabis from its pharmacies and smoking clubs.

Uruguay has an extensive history of cannabis cultivation and the tolerance of its consumption. Personal use of all drugs in the country has never really been criminalised, as back in 1974, legislation was passed that enabled judges to determine whether individual possessed drugs for personal or commercial purposes and deal with them accordingly.

Under current legislation in Uruguay citizens or residents can buy up to 40 grams a month from government-controlled and registered pharmacies. They may also ‘legally’ join a registered ‘cannabis smoking club’ that are licensed for between 15 and 45 members and are allowed to grow up to 99 plants annually for its members to purchase. Individual members are limited to only buying 480g (17oz) over the entire year, or the equivalent to just 9.23 grams a week.

The other option for Uruguayans to access cannabis is for them to register to a central government database to be allowed to cultivate up to 6 plants at home. The documenting of cultivation and consumption is done to ‘flag excessive consumption’ to help arrange ‘treatment’ and ensure that ‘they’re not selling their stash’, which remains illegal under current legislation.

Cultivation is capped at a maximum of 6 crops annually, with the total dried weight of the flowers not to exceed 480g (17oz) over the whole year. This works out at roughly 13.3 grams a plant over your maximum of 36 plants. A truly ridiculous low figure when you consider that it’s possible to get that return and more from a single plant these days.

The publicised primary motivator for changing the law in late 2013 was not the potential profits the government could make from taxing and selling cannabis, but the very concept of governmental control and centralise regulation. The legislation was produced to ensure that the government retained control of the market through the creation of strict rules and regulations. 

This seems to be the same line being used here by both the tourism office and the national drugs board. Deputy Tourism Minister Remo Monzeglio recently said that “The aim isn’t to promote Uruguay as a destination for cannabis tourism, but rather to steer tourists away from the black market and into the regulated market” 

The Deputy Tourism Minister has also floated the idea of charging foreign tourists higher prices to help ‘fund addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs.’ It is unclear at this point whether tourists would have to register with the centralised governmental database to join smoking clubs or purchase cannabis from its registered pharmacies. 

It seems to me that if we come up with a good proposal, Uruguay could open its regulated pot market to tourists for the upcoming tourism season, it’s highly unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out” – Daniel Radio, Secretary general of the Uruguay National Drugs Board

There does seem to be a touch of post-Covid economic blues affecting decision-making here too. In 2020 exports of cannabis flowers more than doubled to almost $7.5m. A far cry from the hundreds of millions predicted by ‘industry experts’ and venture capitalists eager to exploit, sorry help develop the nation as a player on the global cannabis market. 

Although the market cap of $1 a gram has actually decreased and access is slowly increasing, I cannot help but feel that this is just another small step when they could be making giant leaps. Uruguay has a great climate for growing cannabis, a socially conscious citizenry, and despite its relatively high labour and energy costs, it could become a world leader in cannabis law reform and the wider global cannabis industry.

Allowing and encouraging cannabis tourism to the South American nation would certainly boost the government’s coffers, it could also hopefully help evolve its government’s position on cannabis beyond harm reduction to ubiquitous acceptance of cannabis consumption and its ever-growing culture.

Image: Canna Sport EU

WADA looks to remove cannabis from the banned drugs list

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced last week that it will consider updating its rules around the consumption of cannabis in competitive sport. The move comes following the absence of amongst others US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

One of the world’s fastest women, Sha’Carri Richardson was forced to miss the opportunity that some pundits said could have been her chance to cement her name as the fast woman on earth after failing a routine drug test. The US NCAA 100m record holder tested positive for THC, which is still considered to be a banned substance under current WADA rules.

As I mentioned in Issue 30 of Last Week In Weed, This is a rather interesting situation when you look at the contradiction in messaging here. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) along with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) classifies cannabis as a ‘performance-enhancing drug’ yet the US government and international bodies also classify cannabis as a ‘drug of abuse’. How can it be both? 

WADA will prohibit a drug if it meets two of the following criteria; 

– The substance is considered a performance enhancer

– The substance potentially pose a health risk to athletes

– Its use violates the ‘spirit of sport’

We know cannabis isn’t a health risk so the other two criteria used to ban THC are that it is a performance enhancer and that its consumption violates the ‘spirit of sport’ set out by WADA. ‘Spirit of Sport’ is defined by WADA as “the celebration of the human spirit, body, and mind,” adding that ‘it reflects the values of sports, such as character, teamwork, and fun and joy.’ How they can say that cannabis isn’t an aid to “the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind” is beyond me.

Last Tuesday (Sep 14th) WADA met to discuss amongst other things its stance on currently prohibited substances. This resulted in the international organisation committing to conducting a scientific review of cannabis’ place on the banned substances list. However, the sporting regulatory organisation has said that it will remain banned through 2022. 

Finally, a little progression in this space. For far too long the pushing of zero-THC products to ‘protect’ the image of sports stars and personalities has diluted the wider and more important cannabis debate. The global inclusion and acceptance of THC and cannabis into sport will only help advance the basic human rights of all cannabis consumers if done correctly. 

Image: Happy Mag

Cannabis referendum hopes for Italian cannabis consumers

Finally, this week, we’ll be looking once again at Italy. As discussed in issue 41 of Last Week in Weed, Italy announced that it intends to ‘decriminalise’ the personal cultivation of cannabis at home, while increasing penalties for other related offenses such as trafficking and trade.

Just a week later and it looks likely that the Mediterranean nation will now be forced into holding a citizens-led referendum on further ‘decriminalisation’ measures and cannabis legal reforms. Spurred on by the previous week’s news regarding the potential ‘decriminalisation’ of home cultivation, a group of Italian cannabis advocates launched a petition calling for the expansion of that initial decision to include small-scale sales. 

Organisers were able to gather the requisite half a million signatures in just seven days thanks to a recent law change in July that allows for the collection of signatures online. Another petition started at a similar time seeking to ’legalise’ euthanasia has already passed 900,000 signatures.

This success is explained by factors, from a technical point of view, setting the referendum up and signing it has become much easier thanks to the introduction of digital signatures, which seriously cut organisation costs.”

From a political point of view, the cannabis issue is now mature. There are around a million cannabis consumers in Italy. The people who use it are not the kind of marginalised members of society as right-wing parties describe them, and many parts of the United States have made it legal through referenda too” – Giuseppe Civati, Founder of Possibile (a progressive Italian political party) 

Ultimately the cannabis petition seeks to amend the 1990 legislation that currently criminalises the sale of cannabis with 2 – 6 months in prison and possession resulting in the loss of an individual’s driving license. The speed at which the required number of signatures passed is evident of the country’s growing appetite for change, especially amongst the under 25s. 

Political opinion, in general, is still rather divided in Italy, with the entrenched faux-moralising and willful ignorance of the older generations preventing any meaningful dialogue and discourse around this crucial debate. 

National politics has long been completely static on subjects that are considered taboo in a purely electoral logic, and the current government – including everyone from left to right – doesn’t help, therefore, citizens are left to fend for themselves” – Giuseppe Civati, Founder of Possibile (a progressive Italian political party) 

If this form of ‘decriminalisation’ passes in Italy then they would join fellow European countries like Estonia, Czechia (formerly Czech Republic), and Portugal in taking this important first step to ending the failed war on weed.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 41

Last Week in Weed

(13/9/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog written by Simpa

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Italy ‘decriminalising’ the private cultivation of up to 4 plants cannabis plants at home, New study claims that cannabis consumption increases the risk of heart attacks in young people, and finally 19 soldiers busted in ‘UK Armies largest-ever bust’.

Image: Happy Mag

Italy to ‘decriminalise’ private small-scale cultivation of cannabis

Last Wednesday (8th Sep) the European nation of Italy has announced that it will be ‘decriminalising’ the cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption in private homes. Last week the country’s MP’s voted to pass a draft measure allowing the cultivation of up to 4 plants at home for all Italians, despite opposition from the countries right-leaning political parties.

We will be the laughing stock of Europe, already astonished by our primacy of the use of cannabis and cannabinoids in children of school age. In short, thanks to Draghi and those who support him, we will all be more devious, cushy, stunned, and in some cases uninhibited. This was precisely what Italy needed” – Fabio Rampelli, Fratelli d’Italia (political party)

The move comes after a 2019 court decision that ruled “small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the grower”This resulted in the drafting of new legislation to bring the countries antiquated cannabis laws in line with the court’s decision. It took a few years for the authors and backers to manage to gather enough support from the various factions within the countries rather divided political system.

The cultivation of hemp at home is essential for patients who must make therapeutic use of it and who often do not find it available, as well as to combat the [street] sale [of the drug] and the consequent criminal behaviour,” Mario Perantoni, Five Star Movement (political party)

The Italian cannabis industry has been slowly growing over the last few years. Progress arguably began in the country back in 2014 when the country faced the peak of its prison overcrowding epidemic. This led to Italy’s constitutional court overturning a controversial law that tripled sentences for cannabis offences back in 2006.

In 2013 so-called ‘medical cannabis’ was ‘legalised’ in Italy and then in 2016 new legislation permitted the sale of cannabis flowers with an active level of THC below 0.6 (one of the highest levels in Europe)

The other side of this new measure is an increase in the punitive sentences for offences including trafficking and dealing. The new upper limit for sentencing for selling cannabis will go up from 6 – 10 years. They’re doing this in the hope that allowing its citizens to cultivate cannabis at home, will reduce the amount of money being made by organised criminals in the country.

The news is being celebrated by various ‘medical cannabis’ and ‘hemp’ advocates around the world. Although I agree that there is so small progress being made in one direction, I cannot help but feel that there is a classist motive at play here. By allowing citizens to grow their own, but not trade cannabis they effectively bar them from making money with cannabis in the ever-growing global industry.

I fear that it is just a form of placation, an attempt to give with one hand and take with the other. I do sincerely hope that this isn’t just an attempt to pacify the average consumer, to coerce conformity and manufacture consent and acceptance of a corporate co-option of the countries already well-established cannabis industry, culture, and community.

This decision means that Italy now joins Spain and Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic) in allowing the cultivation of a handful of plants at home. However, the country remains divided as cannabis advocates and activists call for further far more progressive legal changes to protect cannabis consumers and the emerging industry.

The countries right-wing parties and more conservative citizens seem rather unhappy about this progressive decision and the new freedoms it will afford Italian cannabis enthusiasts. I do, however, believe that the measures adopted to increase penalties on trafficking and dealing offences will ultimately move their entrenched position on cannabis forward.

Image: Global News

Controversial new study claims ‘young cannabis users face higher risk of heart attacks

A new peer-reviewed research paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal claims to have discovered a link between young adult consumption of cannabis and an increased risk of myocardial infraction or more commonly known as a heart attack. 

The team claims that their study shows that heart attacks are more common in US adults under the age of 45 who vape, smoke, or consume cannabis edibles when compared to non-consumers. The paper claims that although combustion is the most common form of consumption, vaporising and ingesting cannabis also increase the risk.

Beyond the main finding that heart attacks were found to be more common in cannabis users, what we did find is that the more people use, the higher the risk” – Karim Ladha, study co-author 

The researchers behind the study analysed figures taken from a 2017 – 2018 US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of 33,000 Americans aged 18 – 44. The data showed that US cannabis consumers are more likely to be male, unmarried, smoke and vape nicotine products, and heavily consume alcohol. 

If you discount the alcohol and tobacco I can see why they would arrive at this conclusion. However, I feel it prudent here to take the scientific evidence into consideration here. Hundreds of studies around the world have for decades proven links between excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use to an increased risk of heart attacks.

More Canadians than ever before are now consuming cannabis and regular consumers are increasing their consumption due to the ever-growing uncertainty of daily life. So you can understand why there is a concern in the medical profession, but correlation isn’t causation. 

There are many other complex factors at play here that simply saying that consuming cannabis causes an increased risk of heart attacks in young people. The conclusions drawn from this study are in my opinion overly simplistic, reductionist, and irrational. 

Cannabis and cocaine consumed in barracks at Catterick Garrison

19 soldiers busted in ‘UK Armies largest-ever bust’

Nineteen soldiers from one UK Army regiment are this week facing disciplinary action and dismissal. The soldier’s careers are in jeopardy after they tested positive for cannabis and cocaine during routine testing. 

This is thought to be the largest single bust in the British Army’s history. The soldiers who were all from the 1st Battalion (1 YORKS) are reported to of consumed the drugs at home and in the barracks at Alma Lines in Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire. The 1 YORKS regiment was created back in 2004 by combining three other battalions.

A number of soldiers from 1 YORKS recently failed a compulsory drugs test. The Army does not tolerate drug abuse within its ranks as it is incompatible with military service and operational effectiveness. Army personnel caught taking drugs can expect to be discharged’ – Army Spokesperson

This isn’t the first time that servicing soldiers have been dismissed for drug offences. Data released after a Freedom of Information request revealed that in 2019, 660 individuals were dismissed for failing a drug test, a rise from 630 the previous year. According to the Guardian article that published the released FOI data, the most common drug found was ‘overwhelmingly’ cocaine, followed by cannabis and ecstasy.’

The fate of these individuals seems rather set in stone. After all the British Army website states that it ‘takes a zero-tolerance approach to substance misuse’ and ‘Drugs affect the fitness and reliability of service people and have a corrosive effect on operational effectiveness.’ The final nail will probably be this line on its website ‘Fail a drugs test, and you can expect to be discharged from the service.’ 

The number of individuals caught seems to be directly linked to a reduction in testing due to the ongoing global pandemic. Before the outbreak soldiers were being tested every few weeks, with an average of 80,000 soldiers being ‘randomly’ tested annually. As a result of the random nature of the tests, some soldiers would be tested multiple times a year, while others would never be tested at all.

The test that was failed by a large portion of the battalion was the first they had faced in ‘quite a long time.’ according to a source. The whistleblower that brought attention to the incident was quoted in The Sun as saying ‘This is off the scale, it has sent shock-waves through the Army. ‘These are individual cases as well, it wasn’t one wild night out.’ 

The highest-ranked serviceman to be caught up in the scandal is a Lance Corporal. The majority of the other individuals were Private rank soldiers. The rising number of dismissals, in my opinion, relates to the culture that is harboured by the UK’s armed forces and is a direct consequence of the C-PTSD and other complex mental health issues that arise from active service and combat.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 40

Last Week in Weed

(6/9/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog written by Simpa

In this issue of Last Week in Weed, We’ll be looking at The European country of Luxembourg paying €3m for 30kg of ‘medical cannabis’ Two men tortured over ‘missing cannabis’ in Manchester, and finally, the owner of the Canna Kitchen in Brighton has been cleared of all charges over last years raid for selling low-THC cannabis flowers.

Image credit: Change.org

Luxembourg pays €3m for 30kg of ‘medical cannabis’

The world’s richest country per capita recently completed a deal to import 30kg of ‘medical cannabis’ from the German subsidiaries of Canadian powerhouse producers Canopy Growth and Tilray. The deal will see the small landlocked country pay one of the highest premium rates on a product that I have seen so far.

The chosen offer is that of Canopy Growth Germany in collaboration with Tilray Germany. The products of the two suppliers come from Portugal and Canada” – Luxembourg Minister of Health Paulette Lenert

The deal is for 28.5 kg of cannabis with a ratio of THC 18% / CBD ratio <1%, and 2.25 kg of flowers with an equally balanced ratio of THC to CBD. The price per gram when you spend €3m on 30 kilograms works out at an eye-watering €100 a gram.

It must be a mistake, it’s not possible! Typically, wholesale purchase prices range from $2 to $3 per gram. Then on resale, it is around 7 euros. When I went to the Netherlands, the Bedrocan was sold at around €7.20 per gramIf they buy it at 100 euros per gram, they will not sell it for 10 euros” -Bertrand Rambaud, Francophone Union for cannabinoids in medicine

The ‘medical cannabis’ industry became ‘legal’ in Luxembourg around the same time it did in the UK, back in 2018. The system is still in its infancy and can only be prescribed for a limited number of conditions such as MS and cancer pain. A June 2021 report found that despite the limitation of qualifying conditions, the rate of consumption tripled in 2020.

Data from the report shows that “doctors prescribed more than 140kg of cannabis for medical use in 2020, which means “more than 600 people were prescribed [for] an average of 40g of medical pot each.” Despite the record-breaking expense the arrival of more flowers into the country will be welcomed by the patients, who have had to deal with ongoing shortages and supply issues since March this year.

The news was met with some skepticism from Luxembourgers who commented on the story on the L’Essentiel newspaper website. With comments including ‘100 euros per gram?! But it’s big nonsense’ ’Luxembourg is known to throw money down the drain’, and ‘There must be an error, or then an intermediary who takes a good commission in the process.’

The hefty price for the world’s richest country feels similar to the common practice of vendors pricing their products to the consumer’s wealth, rather than to the quality of the product. I guess we will have to wait and see how the deal goes and if the countries 700 odd patients are happy about the price tag.

Image credit: The Liverpool Echo
The unit in St Helens that was the scene of the torture of two men

Two men tortured in Manchester over ‘missing cannabis’

The first story that we’ll be looking at this week comes from Manchester, UK. The conclusion of a trial last week has brought some rather gruesome details to light about the treatment of two farm workers involved in a cannabis grow operation in St Helens.

The three defendants, in this case, have admitted charges of ‘false imprisonment’ and ‘causing grievous bodily harm with intent’ for beating and systematically torturing the two cannabis farmworkers. The sustained assault of the two men occurred as a consequence of a crop being stolen from a shipping container that they had recently stored the crop in.

The two men who were involved in growing the crop at a remote site near to the location had also been paid to harvest, trim, and lock the crop in a shipping container on the site. They then went to a local pub before separating for the weekend. When they arrived on Monday to move the crop they realised that they had been burgled.

Assuming that the crop had been stolen by the two men the gang’s leader rang an ‘unidentified man’ who was overheard saying that “You owe us £30,000 now” by one of the victims. This prompted the attendance of the third defendant, who was called in to “threaten the men and use extreme force in order to get [victim 1] and [victim 2] to admit they were involved in the theft.”

The third defendant arrived brandishing, a now known to be imitation gun, and separated the victims from the two co-workers by taking them into the unit. In court one of the original co-workers testified that the third defendant “pointed the gun first to the head of Darren Hall and then Joshua Childs and he told them that if they did not tell him where the drugs were he would shoot them. The men were terrified for their lives, however, they told [the third man] that they did not know anything about the missing cannabis”

The two defendants initially ‘taped up’ the victims but quickly left to find a ‘stronger material.’ When they returned the men were violently and viciously tortured over several hours. The men were hit with a sledgehammer, claw hammer, pickaxe, and a metal wrench during the course of the attack. At one point the third defendant stubbed out a cigarette in an open axe wound of one of the victims.

They were subject to what the court heard described as ‘significant psychological trauma.’ During the attack, they were threatened with a drill, a container of acid, and having their fingers cut off if they didn’t reveal the location of the missing crop.

Image: The Liverpool Echo
Inside the unit the sustained attack took place

The barbaric assault only ended when the defendants were satisfied that they didn’t know who took the lost harvest. The two defendants involved in the torture instructed the other two co-workers to help free the men. They were taken back to St Helen before later being taken to hospital, where they remained for several days.

This was a brutal and sustained attack which resulted in serious injuries, threats and was a deeply traumatic experience for both victims to go through. “The production, storage and supply of drugs can, as in this case, lead to threats, violence and significant harm being caused in our communities. “Cannabis use is far from being a victimless crime, and this case is a stark reminder that when people buy drugs, even in small quantities, there exists a whole supply chain where organised criminals profit from the fear and misery they spread” – Detective Constable Phil Poynton 

The injuries sustained by victim one were a broken left leg, a broken right forearm, and a multitude of wounds across his entire body. Victim number two was left in a similar state with multiple wounds across his body and a broken leg.

The three defendants that I have intentionally not named in this piece were sentenced last Friday. The ‘third defendant’ was sentenced to 18 years in prison plus five on extended licence for two counts of section 18 wounding, two counts of false imprisonment, and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

The ‘groups leader’ as I have referred to him in this piece was sentenced to 9 years in prison for two counts of false imprisonment and two counts of section 18 wounding, and another co-worker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for two counts of section 18 wounding, two counts of false imprisonment and possession of a firearm.

This case further highlights the urgent need for the immediate descheduling of cannabis and the legitimisation of the already existing community, culture, and craft industry. This group doe not represent your average ‘cannabis dealer’ in the UK. They are criminally minded individuals exploiting the illegality of cannabis.

There are thousands of vendors, dealers, growers, and collectives that may break the law when it comes to cannabis, but they do not break any other laws. There is an exciting, inviting, and ever-growing criminalised cannabis industry here in the UK, it just needs to incubated and protected from the greed of the capitalists and criminal gangs.

Content is taken from articles in The Manchester Evening News and The Liverpool Echo.

Sam Evolution acquired after 2019 raid on The Canna Kitchen inBrighton

In our second story this week, we’ll be looking at the conclusion of the trial of ‘Sam Evolution’ the owner of ‘The Canna Kitchen’, A cannabis-infused restaurant and its sister business ‘Hemp Earth Dispensary’ located in Brighton, UK after it was a raid in March 2019. 

The owner of both businesses, Sammy Ben Rabah, was charged with two counts of ‘supplying a class B drug’ in February 2020. The first of its kind UK business was targeted after police saw a rather eye-catching advert for a low-THC ‘spliff rolling competition’ in the Metro newspaper. The contest was to find potential staff that can roll quickly and consistently for £10 an hour to work in the ‘Hemp Earth dispensary.’

Unfortunately for Sammy and his staff, a plain-clothes police officer was in attendance at the competition, which saw more than a dozen wannabe rollers showcase their speed and skills. The officer approached Mr. Rabah, who is now living in Bristol, to ask about the cannabis being rolled on-site.

Advert in the Metro in 2019

Mr. Rabah informed the office that all the ‘hemp’ flower’ was ‘legal’ as it contained less than 0.2 THC – A common and pervasive myth that has led to raids and arrests for dozens of shop owners. Mr. Rabah felt confident that the lab reports and invoices that he had shown the officer would suffice. 

After removing several products for testing and discovering ‘low but detectable levels of THC’ the businesses were raided a few weeks later in March 2019. An estimated £22,000 worth of low-THC products were seized during the raids. In the police interview, Mr. Rabah read from a prepared statement and provided ‘no comment’ to other lines of questioning. He was then subsequently released pending further investigation.

The case is well known throughout the CBD industry due to the prominence of the restaurant and widespread discussion about the legality of ‘hemp’ flower” – Defence counsel Josh Normanton

During the trial, Mr. Rabah used the section 28 defense of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The defense states that a suspect can present the defense if ‘They neither knew, suspected, nor had reason to suspect the existence of some fact that the prosecution is required to prove; for example, that they were in possession of the drug; or, They neither believed, suspected, nor had reason to suspect that the substance in question was a controlled drug’

The legal representative’s form Mr. Rabah successfully used the section 28 defense of MODA despite the police and prosecution service in the case argued that “Ignorance of the law is not a defense.” Ultimately the CPS couldn’t prove the claim that the seized products were in fact cannabis as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. 

Ignorance of the law is not a defence. Business owners selling cannabis products have a responsibility to ensure the goods they supply are safe, legal and that unsuspecting customers are not inadvertently buying banned substances, leaving them at risk of harm and potentially prosecution. 

In this case, the illegality of the substances seized was never in dispute and we will continue to vigorously inspect cannabis vendors in the city to ensure they are aware of, and compliant with, the law” – Detective Superintendent Mike Ashcroft

The lease on the building has since elapsed and has since become a popular vegan restaurant. Last week a jury decided the fate of the entrepreneurial businessman. It may have taken a few years to get to trial, but it only took 30 minutes for a jury to ultimately acquit Sammy Ben Rabah on both counts.

I am very pleased to have cleared my name from any charges of wrongdoing in this case. The heavy-handed police raid was in my view both unjustified and unethical based on prior collaborative commitments made by Sussex Police. It was entirely unnecessary, being a complete waste of public funds for a three-year police operation (Operation Kneecap) and subsequent lengthy crown court trial process”

If the police had simply honoured the commitments made originally we could have had further dialogue as necessary, establishing which (if any) hemp items needed to be removed from sale. “This would have enabled me to continue with the innovative business we had built on Duke Street; my means to support my young family, and sixteen of my staff could still be employed in the city centre.

I am pleased that the truth has been revealed finally through the court process, and am grateful to my legal counsel Josh Normanton, the judge and members of the jury for their fair assessment of the case” – Mr. Sammy Ben Rabah

This case should hopefully empower and inspire the multitude of shop owners, vendors, and entrepreneurs that are facing similar legal issues for selling what they genuinely believed to be ‘legal’ products. The successful use of section 28 should also give us hope that eventually one day the war will be over.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 39

Last Week in Weed

(30/8/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog written by Simpa

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, We’ll be looking at the US state of Missouri filing ‘legalisation’ ballot, a new ‘prisoner transfer agreement’ begins between UK and Albania, and a UK cannabis ‘entrepreneur’ jailed for selling own branded ‘flavours’

Missouri cannabis ‘legalisation’ initiative filed

The ‘Legal Missouri 2022’ a coalition of cannabis activists, patients, reform advocates, and entrepreneurs recently filed a ‘citizens ballot initiative’ in the Midwestern US state of Missouri. The aim of the campaigners is to give tens of thousands of Missourians the chance to start life over without a criminal record.

The new ballot measure would allow anyone over the age of 21 to purchase, possess, cultivate, and consume cannabis in the state. Campaigners are hoping to create a robust well-regulated industry that will prioritise criminal and social justice over corporate profit.

This would be achieved through an automatic expungement provision included in the ballot. Missouri would be only the eighth state to champion this approach despite there now being 19 ‘legal’ and 37 ‘medical’ cannabis states.

Missouri shouldn’t legalize marijuana without automatically expunging thousands of criminal records for marijuana offenses that will soon be legal,” “We enthusiastically support this ballot initiative, which will be the single largest criminal justice reform undertaken in Missouri and long overdue” – John Bowman, president of the St. Louis County NAACP 

Cannabis was ‘decriminalised’ in Missouri in 2014 after the passing of Senate Bill 491. ‘Medical cannabis’ was ‘legalised’ in 2018 through a similar citizens ballot measure, although the first sales didn’t officially begin until October 2020.

This new initiative is expected to gain more support than the previous 66% that approved ‘medical cannabis’ in 2018. Some of the campaigners from that initiative have been involved in the drafting of this new measure.

There’s widespread support among Missouri voters to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana. The status quo has allowed an unsafe, illegal market to thrive in Missouri while preventing law enforcement from truly prioritizing the fight against violent crime” 

Now is the time for Missouri to join the 19 other states to have successfully regulated and taxed adult-use marijuana, bringing millions in new funding for vital state services” – John Payne, Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager.

The ‘Legal Missouri 2022’ initiative is designed to broaden participation in the juvenile industry. It seeks to include provisions to prioritises small businesses and provide a space for members of ‘historically disadvantaged communities and ‘residents of high-poverty communities to enter the industry.

We are very proud of the strong patient, consumer, and community protections included in the petition. Cannabis reform is about more than establishing a safe and legal market. It is about righting the many wrongs prohibition has caused to our communities, especially to communities of color” – Jamie Kacz, NORML KC

Campaigners must now collect at least 175,000 signatures by Autumn for the initiative to qualify to be on the 2022 state election ballot. Given the ease at which its ‘medical marijuana program passed, I think it is fair to say this is likely to exceed the required signatories and cruise onto the 20202 ballot.

The UK and Albanian justice Ministers, Chris Philp and Etilda Gjonaj pose after signing ‘Prisoner Transfer Agreement’

‘Prisoner transfer agreement’ begins between UK and Albania

The first Albanian nationals caught cultivating cannabis in the UK have been deported back to Albania under a controversial new ‘Prisoner transfer agreement.’ Earlier this year the UK and Albanian governments agreed on a scheme to repatriate Albanian citizens caught unlawfully cultivating and dealing cannabis in the UK. 

Under the deal formally agreed by the UK and Albanian justice Ministers, Chris Philp and Etilda Gjonaj, nationals of both countries can be sent without their consent to serve their prison sentence in their home country if arrested and jailed in the other country. The agreement also includes a lifetime ban from entering the UK.

We are committed to removing foreign criminals who have abused our hospitality and inflicted misery on our communities. Someone who commits a serious crime in the UK should be barred from returning so that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for them and victims can be confident justice has been done” – Chris Philp, UK Minister for immigration compliance and justice

Albanian nationals currently represent the largest single group of foreign prisoners in English and Welsh prisons. They make up 10% of all non-British prisoners, with 1,500 currently incarcerated in England and Wales – a large percentage of those is likely to be cannabis offences. As to how many Brits are locked up in Albanian prisons, the UK doesn’t seem to have specific data on the numbers but has said that ‘The British Government believes very few British citizens are in Albanian prisons.’

Cannabis isn’t really ‘illegal’ in Albania, personal use and possession of a ‘single dose’ are not criminalised. Possession of more than a single dose and dealing are categorised as ‘trafficking’ and can result in some serious prison time. Special allowances are sometimes made if an individual is found to be a consumer, then treatment or house arrest may be recommended over imprisonment.

I find it hard to justify Albanians being handed lengthy sentences in the UK and serving them in a prison back home, when their domestic laws may not have been so heavy-handed. While I acknowledge the need for some kind of intervention, I am just not convinced that deporting individuals that are often a victim of human trafficking is the right action here.

Something must be done to help reduce the damage and disruption that these organised groups are having on local markets. By exploiting indebted trafficked labour, a vast UK-wide network, and industrial-scale grow faculties to produce kilo’s of common cultivars of cannabis like ‘Star Dawg’ and ‘Ammi’ for hundreds of pounds cheaper than local growers.

This is effectively putting them out of business and has the knock-on effect of forcing them into areas they’re not experienced or comfortable with in order to cover bills, feed their children, and generally survive in an inherently and systemically unfair society.

You can read more about cannabis in Albania in this awesome blog by Sensi Seeds.

Image: JokerTheGrower

UK cannabis ‘Entrepreneur’ jailed

A cannabis grower and entrepreneur from Liverpool has been jailed after breaching a suspended sentence given to him after a 2018 raid on his home revealed £27,000 cash, ‘merchandise’ branded as ‘Joker the Grower’ and 84.5g of cannabis flower ‘split into flavours’ as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

The 28-year-old father’s 2018 run-in with police resulted in a conviction for ‘possession with intent to supply Class B drug’ and the judge giving him a 10-month prison sentence that was suspended for two years.

Last year the man was then stopped in a Seat Leon after switched lanes without indicating and forcing another vehicle to brake sharply. The office performing the stop on the vehicle ‘formed the opinion’ that the man was under the influence of cannabis as he appeared lethargic and the car ‘smelt of cannabis.’ 

A roadside swab test revealed that he was over the arbitrarily low ‘legal’ limit set out under the Road Traffic Act and was subsequently arrested. This led to a suspended license and a two-year community order, which he ultimately broke by failing to comply with unpaid work and curfew rules.

Joker The Grower ‘Merch’

Last week Judge Brian Cummings, QC, found the man guilty of ‘the possession with intent to supply cannabis’ ‘possession of criminal property’ and ‘suspended sentence and community order breaches’. Cummings sentenced the man to two years and four months, plus the remaining four months of the previously breached suspended sentence, for a total of two years and eight months in prison. 

‘Joker the Grower’ is another individual criminalised and persecuted for operating a cannabis brand and business in the wrong country. If he had been in the US or Canada then he may well have found himself with a legitimate brand and a future in a burgeoning industry.

Read more about this story in the Liverpool Echo

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Cannabis and Covid: What role can cannabis play in the Post-Covid world?

Cannabis and Covid:

What role can cannabis play in the Post-Covid world?

Cannabis and Covid: What role can cannabis play in the Post-Covid world?

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 153 (July 2021)

Over the past year, the entire world has faced unprecedented times as a global pandemic has spread to infect every nation on Earth. The speed at which it traversed the globe hitting country after country has detrimentally affected every one of us on this little rock of ours. 

The relative banality of our day-to-day lives gave way to seemingly perpetual national lockdowns, ever-changing social distancing guidelines, and a total economic shutdown of the global economy. The global cannabis culture wasn’t spared by this global catastrophe, with the coffeeshops of Amsterdam and the clubs of Barcelona closing their doors.

Patricia Amiguet, The President of the Catalan Federation of Cannabis Associations stated in June that 300,000 club members were forced back into the illicit market in 2020. This sent the price of hash in Spain skyrocketing, with some estimates suggesting it was selling for double the price pre-Covid.

The price of cannabis in France, Ireland, and here in the UK also increased sharply as imports dried up and growers couldn’t get out to tend to their clandestine crops. This saw a vast increase in domestic sales of hydroponic equipment as consumers sought to capitalise on the national lockdown and being stuck at home by learning to grow their own.

Early on in the pandemic across the pond in North America several US states declared cannabis an ‘essential business’ and rushed through legislation to allow for home delivery and drive-through sales. Over the northern border in Canada, sales continued to grow through their pre-existing home delivery system. 

While to the south, the Mexican Supreme court took the opportunity created by the pandemic to pressure the government to pen a bill that would ‘legalise’ the adult cannabis consumption market. The formation of this new legislation has stalled several times forcing the Supreme court to make another ruling last month that effectively ‘decriminalises’ low-level possession of cannabis in Mexico. 

The general consensus is that we have passed the worst of it now. Social distancing is finally beginning to end and the wearing of a mask becoming a question of personal preference rather than government mandate. The focus now shifts from pandemic reaction to recovery. The medical-industrial complex should hopefully now begin to concentrate its collective efforts into researching and discovering new novel ways to prevent and treat Covid-19 and other future viral pathogens.

Since the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, there have been several studies that have shown how cannabis can help in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 and its worst symptoms. A recent study published in January 2021 found that some cannabis cultivars high in CBD may help prevent a kind of extreme inflammation response called ‘Cytokine storm’ This ‘storm’ can follow serious cases of acute respiratory distress caused by severe cases of Covid-19. 

Illustration of ‘Cytokine Storm’

Cytokines are small proteins that are released by different types of cells within the body. They are predominantly produced within the immune system where they are responsible for coordinating the body’s reaction to infection and triggering defensive inflammatory responses. The storm occurs when the system goes into hyper-drive creating too many of these proteins that they then begin attacking the immune system itself. 

During their research, the team found 13 high CBD cultivar extracts that appear to reduce the severity of Covid-19 by helping to downgrade the expression of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines and pathways involved in inflammation and fibrosis. The team found that Cannabidiol (CBD) modulates ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels in the body. 

It also seems to down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another vital protein necessary for Covid-19 to enter host cells. This seems to suggest that cannabis could be used prophylactically to help prevent people from catching infections like Covid-19 in the first place and help treat it if they do contract it.

The last year of fear, isolation, and uncertainty has certainly left a lot of us feeling at least a little bit anxious and depressed. The impact of twelve plus months of no physical contact, never-ending lockdowns, and loneliness has negatively affected the mental health of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

We already know from a multitude of studies conducted over the past several decades that cannabis can play a positive role in the treatment and management of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. So another important thing to consider in the post-Covid world would be further integration of cannabis into the fields of psychiatry and psychotherapy. This would greatly reduce the number of dangerous drugs like Benzodiazepines and SSRI’s being prescribed for such conditions. 

The plethora of therapeutic benefits that cannabis can provide is now rather undisputable as more and more countries ‘legalise’ so form of access to ‘medical cannabis’. There is an ever-growing general consensus about the Endocannabinoid System, the Entourage Effect, and the role both phyto- and Endo-cannabinoids play in regulating an individual’s health.

So now that we know it can help to treat serious cases of Covid-19 and even potentially prevent others from contracting it. It is time to start thinking about how we can prevent future pandemics from having such devastating and sweeping effects on the most vulnerable in society. 

In order to restart, repair, and rebuild our fragile nation-state economies, we’re going to need to stop looking at cannabis as just a drug and start looking at it as the unique highly versatile multifaceted commercial and industrial resource that it is.

Cannabis could help prevent future pandemics by being re-introduced into the human diet. Cannabis seeds are a complete protein packing in all 13 essential and non-essential proteins needed by the human body for healthy functionality. 

Cannabis could help prevent future pandemics by being re-introduced into the human diet. Cannabis seeds are a complete protein packing in all 13 essential and non-essential proteins needed by the human body for healthy functionality. 

CBD and low-THC cannabis (‘Hemp’) are currently having their spotlight moment with all kinds of wellness and health products being launched on the market every day. From supplements to oils, ‘hemp’ milk to well, CBD infused everything. If we were to fortify cereals and grains with none or low-psychoactive cannabinoids, as we do with various vitamins we would drastically improve the health of the general population and help prevent future pandemics being so devastating to those already suffering from poor health.

A global-scale rewilding of natural cannabis cultivation could not only help offset atmospheric carbon to the tune of 325kg per ton, but it could also help one of the main causes of this pandemic, deforestation. Ending deforestation would greatly help to offset habitat destruction that forces wild animals to migrate closer to human populations in order to find food. It’s this proximity that causes an increase in ‘Zoonosis’, the transmitting of infectious diseases from animal to human hosts. As we destroy more and more wild habitats we invite these new novel pathogens into increasingly overcrowded human populations.

In a post-Covid world, we need to seriously consider utilising cannabis to replace all paper, especially toilet paper. It is estimated that replacing all toilet rolls with cannabis fibre paper would save several billion trees a year – further helping to prevent deforestation. It also has the added benefit of being antibacterial, softer and longer than wood pulp fibres, and doesn’t contain any horrible endocrine-disrupting chemicals like dioxin or chlorine. 

This humble plant provides us with a complete protein from its seed, the potential to replace petroleum in plastics, cotton in textiles, concrete in construction, lithium in batteries, fossil fuels in energy production, tackle deforestation, end desertification, and give future generations the hope, technology, and will to thrive long into this century and beyond. 

Just as the anti-prohibitionists of alcohol in 1930s America argued that legalising and taxing it would generate income for the great depression era economy. The same argument is being made today by pro-cannabis voices across the world.

Various economists are now predicting that the Global CBD market will be worth a whopping $89 billion by 2026, and the US adult market is estimated to be worth $43 billion by 2025. These eye-watering figures are just a small taste of the seemingly perpetual profits that could be generated by a multitude of industries through the creation of an unrestrained and intelligently regulated cannabis industry. 

We are at a crossroads in our history, the decisions we make today will either empower or haunt the generations that follow. Right now, we have the knowledge, the technology, and the impetus but not the will to prevent our own extinction. 

It is my sincere hope that the greed, villainy, and selfishness that was so pervasive in global politics pre-pandemic will slowly be replaced with compassion, empathy, and an understanding that it was governmental policy that killed more people during the pandemic than the virus. If these governments really want to help their citizens then they need to take another serious look at cannabis. 

Written for Weed World Magazine by Simpa from TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 38

Last Week in Weed

(23/8/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Tilray hedging its bets on the US market by taking a minority stake in struggling US cannabis company Medmen. A cannabis propaganda piece in the Daily Record and finally, The MS Society takes the NHS to task over Sativex access.

Tilray takes minority stake in Medmen Enterprise Inc

Canadian powerhouse cannabis company Tilray announced last week that it had acquired a minority stake in the struggling US cannabis company Medmen Enterprise Inc. The ‘world’s biggest cannabis company by revenue’ announced that it and ‘select investors’ had acquired $165.8m of notes and warrant from Medmen’s previous ‘savior’ investor Gotham Green Partners.

The investment we are announcing in MedMen securities today, one of the most recognized brands in the $80 billion U.S. cannabis market, is a critical step toward delivering on our objective as we work to enable Tilray to lead the U.S. market when legalization allows” – Irwin Simon, Tilray Chief Executive

If converted the deal would see Tilray and its ‘select investors’ own 21% of equity in the fledgling US cannabis retailer. The deal will be completed once Tilray shareholders either approve or deny an additional 9million shares of its stock to Gotham Green Partners as part of the deal. IF denied the deal will be completed with cold hard cash.

Our management team has spent the past 18 months executing a disciplined turnaround plan,” We are grateful to our stakeholders for their patience and support as we worked to fix the business and rebuild trust and credibility” – Tom Lynch MedMen CEO 

It’s a tremendous outcome for us. Canadian companies are really restricted as to what they can actually do here. So, I think they found a creative entry point into the U.S. MSO (multistate operators) space. It’s probably about as far as they can go right now” – Tom Lynch, MedMen chief executive

Canadian cannabis companies cannot own American ones due to the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis in the US. This has meant that the next-best option is to own a significant enough share to control growth and direction while ensuring eventual entry into an inevitably ‘legal’ US market.

Another lifeline was tossed to Medmen recently in the shape of a $100m stock deal with Toronto-based private equity firm Serruya. The additional funds will be used by Medmen to expand operations in California, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts. They already have 26 active dispensaries with 15 more planned to open before the end of 2021.

So as the market is heating up again on both sides of the US/Canadian border we have to ask ourselves, Do these Canadian cannabis companies know something that we do not? Well, here’s something for you to consider. In the early 2000s, the Taliban began destroying poppy crops in Afghanistan which led to the creation of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl.

Afghanistan will not be a country of cultivation of opium anymore…. We will bring opium cultivation to zero again” – Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson 

It is such a shame that Afghanistan has never been able to parley its long history of cannabis production and consumption into a thriving modern industry on the global stage. Unfortunately, the Taliban have now returned to power after two decades in exile. Upon their return, they announced their intentions to make the country ‘ drug-free’.

What exactly do we think will happen when the producer of over 90% of the world’s Opium supply simply stops? If they achieve their aims then we are going to witness the end of the global opium trade as we know it and either the creation of a new nightmarish synthetic Opioid hell-scape or the ubiquitous acceptance and adoption of cannabis as the first and best natural therapeutic intervention.

Reach Propaganda

A tragic fall turned into Propaganda by Reach Media

Reach Plc, our favourite UK media conglomerate are at it again. Last week three of its titles published rehashed versions of another classic piece of anti-cannabis propaganda. The piece appeared online last week after a public inquest into the accidental death of a man following a night out to celebrate his 33rd birthday. 

The RAF Veteran and Accident and Emergency nurse from Manchester had been out at a restaurant celebrating his birthday with his partner, family, and friends last August before falling to his death from a window in his Manchester flat. 

It has been reported in the Wales Online version of the story that last week an inquest heard how the man had, along with others taken an ‘edible’ chocolate infused with cannabis. There are no further details provided as to whether it was ‘legally’ purchased and advertised to contain CBD or unlawfully purchased and advertised to contain THC. 

Although “Everyone seemed to have a great time” the man and his partner left the post-restaurant gathering at his brothers early to get a taxi home. There is no mention or question of if and how much alcohol the group consumed while at the restaurant or his brother’s home.

The man allegedly then began to act out of character “seeming to rush home”. His partner testified that once home he started “pacing the landing” and “speaking to people who weren’t present”. Two classic states that I have seen exceptionally drunk friends and relatives get into far too often. 

The inquest then heard how the man’s partner decided to leave the property after the man’s behaviour became increasingly worrying to her. “I thought I was doing the best by allowing Julian to sleep whatever it was off. We had a hike planned in the morning with his mum. I thought he would sleep it off. He had settled in bed by the time I left.”

A few moments later a 999 call was received from a neighbour reporting that the man had fallen from a window and was laying on the floor outside. The inquest heard how the neighbour reported seeing “a ‘silhouetted’ figure of a man standing by his window roughly two minutes after [his partner] left the property” moments later they heard a loud bang and saw the man laying on the ground.

Emergency services arrived quickly but upon arrival at Salford Royal Hospital, a CT scan revealed that the injuries he sustained to his head were ‘too severe’ to operate on making his condition ‘unsurvivable’.

During the inquest the coroner asked his partner if he “had a look of terror in his eyes?” to which she replied “yes, I have never seen him behave like that” A rather leading question for a coroner don’t you think? Again, no mention of how much alcohol was consumed by the deceased.

The three stories appear in the Manchester evening news (England), Daily Record (Scotland), and Wales Online (Wales) this helps to ensure blanket coverage of its bullshit ‘reporting’ on this tragic story. 

The narrative that these pieces portray is that cannabis ended the life of this ‘active’ ‘brave’ and ‘adventurous’ young man. The vast majority of the piece is dedicated to the tributes paid to the man with little to no inquiry being made as to what happened to the man. There is plenty of faux-sentimentality expressed in the piece but far too little substance. 

Ultimately, the senior coroner Nigel Meadows recorded a verdict of misadventure, saying “I am satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, he was suffering from a psychotic or delusional episode from the consumption of cannabis” and went on to say that “He may have been responding to something he thought was real but objectively was not there” 

I cannot see how the coroner is possibly qualified to make a mental health diagnosis for a man that “had not displayed any mental health issues in the past” nor why there was no inquiry into how much alcohol the man and his party had consumed the night of his death. 

Ultimately this piece has been published to increase the cognitive association between the words cannabis and death. No one in the entirety of recorded human history has ever died from consuming cannabis and this certainly won’t be the first. 

For context, Reach Plc is one of the UK’s largest media groups owning and publishing the Daily Mirror, Daily Record/Sunday Record, Daily Star/Daily Star Sunday, and the Daily Express/Sunday Express, and over 200+ region papers and online publications. It is in these regional papers that these propaganda pieces are most frequently published. 

You can read more about Reach Plc and its history of publishing anti-cannabis propaganda here.

The MS Society calls for wider access to GW Pharma drug Sativex.

The MS Society calls on NHS to improve access to Sativex

The new head of marketing at GW Pharmaceuticals isn’t messing around. As we discussed in issue 36 of Last Week in Weed GW has recently arranged a new trial of its first patented drug Sativex for Glioblastoma

Well, this week they are being championed by the MS Society in the UK. The Multiple Sclerosis charity has recently criticised the NHS for the lack of access to a drug designed by GW to treat spasticity in MS patients. 

The charity recently launched a new campaign called ‘Approved/denied’ aimed at ‘ending the postcode lottery’ MS sufferers are facing when trying to access Sativex. Although the drug has been approved by the appropriate regulators in the UK since 2019, less than half of the 106 health authorities in England will actually fund the over-priced single symptom management drug. 

It’s completely unacceptable that two years after receiving NICE approval, Sativex is only available in 49 out of 106 health areas in England. MS can be relentless, painful, and disabling, and getting the treatment you need shouldn’t be a game of chance. “Right now, some people with MS are having to choose between living with excruciating spasms or paying as much as £500 a month for a private Sativex prescription – it costs the NHS under £300 to provide the same dose. 

Some are even being forced to break the law by buying cannabis illegally. This cruel postcode lottery must end, and health bodies across England need to ensure that everyone who meets the criteria is able to access Sativex” – Fredi Cavander-Attwood, MS Society Policy Manager

The charity correctly assert that ‘MS is the only condition which has a licenced, cannabis-derived treatment for spasticity, but people with MS have been struggling to access the treatment on the NHS, despite it being approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice)’

The charity themselves proclaim that ‘Sativex doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does it can be life-changing.’ It is such a shame that instead of launching a campaign to help all MS patients lawfully access and consume any form of cannabis or cannabis product that works for them, they are instead championing a decades-old drug that has been discarded by most of those prescribed it in favour of whole-plant cannabis.

A friend of mine with MS once held up his bottle of Sativex and a bud of locally grown high-THC cannabis. He pointed to the bottle and said “this helps with spasticity” he then pointed at the bud and said “this helps reduce my spasticity, but this also helps me sleep, stimulate my appetite, regulate my mood, and get me through” I know if I was advocating for MS patients I would certainly want them to be able to use cannabis to manage more than just their spasticity.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 36

Last Week in Weed

(16/8/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s Last Week in Weed, We’ll be looking at Weed Maps taking in-app payments on the Apple store, UK rapper caught importing cannabis, and finally, singer Beyonce launching her own CBD brand.

Weedmaps now available on Apple’s App store

Weed Maps taking in-app payments on the Apple store. 

First up this week, Weed Maps launches in-app payments for cannabis products in US states that have ‘legalised’ cannabis for adult consumption. The move comes after a decision by Apple to update its policy around the trade of controlled substances on the App store.

Apple’s previous policy banned all vaping and cannabis apps in November 2019 as they “encourage the consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol,” as well as those that facilitate the sale of “controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies), marijuana, or tobacco.”

Earlier this year on June 7th the silicon valley giant announced that it had changed its terms of use for the app store. The update creates an exception for “licensed pharmacies and licensed or otherwise legal cannabis dispensaries” to be downloaded from the app store. 

A month after that announcement, on July 8th Eaze, a California cannabis delivery app with 2 million registered customers, became the first company to gain approval from the tax-dodging mobile manufacturer. Several other apps have since found a home on the app store including BetaCaliva, and Pineapple Express.

“It’s hard to overstate how important this is to our company and the industry,” “It’s deeply gratifying to launch the Apple Store’s first fully-functional cannabis delivery app” –Rogelio Choy, CEO, Eaze

Last week, however, saw the arrival of one of the biggest players on to the App store. Weed Maps was originally founded in 2008 as an online place “where medical marijuana patients can connect with other patients in their area, to freely discuss and review local cannabis co-operatives and dispensaries

The company has since grown to be one of the main providers of dispensary information such as location and up-to-date menus and reviews. They are also quickly becoming one of the biggest names in cannabis delivery in the United States.

Weed Maps have been rather smart here. They do not facilitate the delivery of cannabis to the consumer, instead, they use their app to showcase the goods and services of licensed dispensaries. This helps the company avoid a whole host of issues and limitations caused by varying states regulations.

Our ability to enable ordering functionality through our mobile iOS app is a game-changer that will improve accessibility for both our customers and business partners alike. We commend companies like Apple that work with industry leaders to find solutions that drive innovation in our space. It’s encouraging to see policies and attitudes toward cannabis shift in a way that promises remarkable growth, and we look forward to introducing an even simpler way to order cannabis from retailers through our platform” – Justin Dean, CTO, WM Technology Inc

The Californian cannabis tech company recently went public through a massive $1.5 billion SPAC deal with Silver Spike Acquisition corps. This most recent move will no doubt be putting some rather large smiles on the faces of its investors and backers.

Image: Nines Facebook page

UK Rapper arrested for importing 28kg of cannabis

Courtney Freckleton aka ‘Nines’ has been charged as part of a conspiracy to import 28kg of cannabis into the UK from Spain and Poland. The British hip hop rapper and Mobo award winner was arrested back in June after coordinated police raids in London, Borehamwood, and Hertfordshire. 

The raids resulted from the infiltration of the now hacked encrypted messenger app Encrochat by UK police. The encrypted app has been used by various policing authorities around the world to target organised crime following the successful hacking of the app during a French investigation in 2020.

Nines and a co-conspirator had allegedly completed one successful importation of cannabis and had attempted to make another before being caught up in the operation. Appearing in court last week The Warner Bros and XL Recordings signed artist pled guilty to conspiracy to import ‘the Class B drug’ into the UK and conspiracy to transfer criminal cash between March and July 2020.

The singer who topped the UK album chart in 2020 with ‘Crabs in a bucket’ denied two further charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to supply cannabis and the CPS have stated that they do not intend to seek a trial on those charges. Sentencing was since been adjourned and the pair were remanded into custody. 

The police operation that took over EncroChat was sophisticated and sly. They quietly observed and targeted its high-level dealer users and began dozens of operations in Norway, UK, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Since December 2020 there have been over 1,000 arrests connected to the breaking of EncroChat. 

I cannot help but feel that if Nines were an American rapper, he would be signing brand deals and establishing legal companies to sell cannabis, not facing prison time. Until the fascistic, classist, and draconian war on drugs is over, stay safe out their folks. 

Remember that no digital conversation is ever truly encrypted, Authorities can now get fingerprints from your product shots that you post on socials, and do not ever use your voice or any other identifiable part of yourself while recording in grow rooms or promotional videos for products. 

Image: Cover of Harper’s Bazaar featuring Beyonce

US singer Beyonce to launch CBD brand

In 2019, Maxim announced that ‘CBD is officially more popular than Beyonce.’ Well, it looks like the multi-award winner is set to get her own back on the cannabinoid, as the former Destiny’s Child singer has announced that she is launching her own CBD brand. Speaking to US magazine Harper’s Bazaar, the singer said that she first tried CBD on her last tour to help with anxiety and insomnia. 

“I discovered CBD on my last tour, and I’ve experienced its benefits for soreness and inflammation. It helped with my restless nights and the agitation that comes from not being able to fall asleep. I am now building a hemp and honey farm – I even have beehives on my roof! I’m so happy that my daughters receive examples of those rituals from me” –Beyonce Knowles-Carter

This is the first venture into the world of ‘legal’ commercial corporate cannabis for Beyonce, However, on the other hand, her long-time partner and husband Shawn Carter AKA ‘Jay-Z’ is quickly becoming one of the US industry’s biggest players. We covered the launch of Jay-Z’s Monogram brand and the monumental SPAC deal back in issue 2 of Last Week In Weed

The dirt off your shoulders singer’s fortune recently surpassed $1billion and Beyoncé’s was estimated at $420million. This new venture and the likely inclusion of Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s new company into ‘the parent company’s portfolio will make them both a lot of money.

Beyonce is just the latest in an increasingly long line of celebrities queuing up to cash in on the so-called ‘green rush’. Every time a celebrity creates a cannabis brand or company it potentially locks out dozens of individuals from the legacy market and further leads to the installation of a two-tier industry and the creation of prohibition 2.0.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 35

Last Week in Weed

(9/8/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

This week in Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Seattle-based cannabis website Leafly preparing to go public via a SPAC, GW Pharmaceuticals flagship product Sativex being trialed on Glioblastoma in the UK, and finally, a former NFL player launching a synthetic CBD ‘wellness’ brand named ‘Peels’ that is made from orange peel.

Leafly set to go public via SPAC

First up this week is the news that Leafly, the Washington-based online cannabis education and retail website founded in 2010 is set to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). The cannabis-focused media outlet was founded in 2010 by three California engineers seeking to create a central resource hub for cannabis consumers and the emerging industry.

The company was bought by the private equity group Privateer Holdings in 2012, the 76% majority owners of Tilray retained ownership of the company until 2019 when Leafly became a wholly independent business. The founders left the business shortly after the acquisition by Privateer Holdings to start a new rival company called Headset

The SPAC looking to take Leafly public by floating it on the Nasdaq later this year is a blank-cheque company called Merida Capital Holdings. A company named after the Aqueduct of the Miracles, one of the most innovative infrastructure projects in human history. A rather grandiose naming decision, if you ask me.

Merida Capital Holdings is a private equity firm ‘that targets fundamental growth drivers underpinning the rapid development of the cannabis industry.’ So basically they’re true-blooded capitalist opportunists attempting to cash in on the so-called green rush. No different from many of the other SPAC’s exploiting the ignorance and excitement of the current climate to profit from the golden age of cannabis. 

Leafly is certainly an attractive prospect for Merida, as half of all US dispensaries now use the platform for e-commerce, advertising, and other services in some way. The company now boasts 220 million unique views a year, up 12% in 2019. Since the company began it has completed over 4 million orders, published 1.3 million reviews, and compiled a database of over 5,000 unique cannabis cultivars. Well, ‘strains’ according to Leafly, but that’s a different conversation for another blog.

If the deal goes through it would see Leafly worth a staggering $530m. The newly restructured company would retain its current CEO but would have to place at least one member of Merida on the company’s board. I do not doubt that the floating of WeedMaps on the Nasdaq earlier this year will be a strong motivator for Leafly to complete this deal in good time. 

Image: Royal Queen Seeds blog ‘What is Sativex’

GW’s Sativex in UK brain tumour trial

It was announced last week that GW Pharmaceuticals flagship product, Sativex would be used in a ‘world first’ trial. The trial is to see if the decades-old drug can improve the efficacy of chemotherapy to help treat Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain and spinal cancer.

The announcement that a phase two trial would take place followed the publication of the ‘successful results’ in the phase one study earlier this year. The phase one trial was considered to be a success because more of the Sativex group than the placebo group remained alive after 1 year of observation and treatment.

The new phase two trial, which is curiously named ‘ARISTOCRAT’ will run for three years. The study will be conducted by the University of Leeds, funded by The Brain Tumour Charity, and coordinated by Cancer Research UK Clinical Trial Unit at the University of Birmingham. Should the trial be able to raise sufficient funds, 230 patients with Glioblastoma from around the UK will be selected to take part in the trial in early 2022.

Speaking to Cannabis Health Magazine Professor Susan Short, the principal trial investigator and Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-Oncology at the University of Leeds said. “The treatment of glioblastomas remains extremely challenging. Even with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, nearly all of these brain tumours re-grow within a year, and unfortunately, there are very few options for patients once this occurs. 

Glioblastoma brain tumours have been shown to have receptors to cannabinoids on their cell surfaces, and laboratory studies on glioblastoma cells have shown these drugs may slow tumour growth and work particularly well when used with temozolomide. 

Having recently shown that a specific cannabinoid combination given by oral spray could be safely added to temozolomide chemotherapy, we’re really excited to build on these findings to assess whether this drug could help glioblastoma patients live longer in a major randomised trial.”

Glioblastoma is considered to be the most aggressive type of cancer that starts in the brain. The typical duration of survival for Glioblastoma is between 12 – 15 months, with fewer than 5% surviving beyond five years. This makes it a prime candidate for researching the effects of cannabis on cancer. Why they have decided to include chemotherapy alongside it is truly beyond me.

Chemotherapy kills healthy cells in the body and according to a 2016 study published in The Lancet “patients dying within 30 days after beginning treatment [with chemotherapy] are unlikely to have gained the survival or palliative benefits of the treatment, and in view of the side-effects sometimes caused, are more likely to have suffered harm”

We know from cancer survivors and healthcare professionals that surviving cancer with chemotherapy drugs can cause some horrific and devastating consequences and life-long side effects. We have also known for quite some time that THC can causes apoptosis in cancer cells and that it can be an effective treatment and prophylactic for a variety of different types of cancers.

We hope this trial could pave the way for a long-awaited new lifeline that could help offer glioblastoma patients precious extra months to live and make memories with their loved ones. “With so few treatments available and average survival still so heartbreakingly short, thousands affected by a glioblastoma in the UK each year are in urgent need of new options and new hope” –Dr David Jenkinson, CEO, The Brain Tumour Charity

While I applaud and admire the passion and commitment of the individuals involved in these trials, I cannot help but feel this is little more than a publicity stunt for the new owners of GW PharmaceuticalsJazz Pharmaceuticals are after all an oncology and neuroscience specialist biopharmaceutical company.

When Jazz acquired GW for £5.2billion earlier this year they also purchased its intellectual property and patents. Some of those patents are for;

So if they already have patents and proof in animal models for the application of cannabinoids to treat cancer going back over a decade, why is The Brain Tumour Trust having to raise £450,000 to fund this trial. Shouldn’t the main player set to benefit from any proof of concept and the patent holders of the drug pay for the trial?

Synthetic CBD brand ‘Peels’ launches ‘CBD’ made from orange peels.

Former NFL star launches synthetic CBD made from Orange Peel

A former NFL player in the US has launched a synthetic CBD ‘wellness’ product that is derived from orange peel. Peels, the brand founded by 11-year NFL veteran Chris Hetherington hopes to exploit the current limitations in the ignorant legislation and public skewed perception by providing a fully synthetic CBD analog that mimics Cannabidiols effects in the body.

As our CBD is made from orange peels, we have a tremendous opportunity to reach target audiences and potentially enter channels our competitors cannot, thus expanding the existing CBD market and improving the lives of more people” – Chris Hetherington

The former fullbacks business model is to attempt to dominate potential consumer bases that cannot risk even the smallest amount of THC finding its way into their system. Be they athletes, police, first responders, military personal, or any other individual that are subjected to random drug tests as part of their employment.

Peels uses a ‘proprietary process to derive premium-quality CBD from orange peels’ called Cyclic Terpene Assembly, a process that combines organic molecules without solvents protecting the compounds within. During the mixing process terpenes derived from the orange peel are mixed with Olivetol, a naturally occurring compound, then the mix is then heated and pressurised along with a catalyst. Once refined the result is a crystalline synthetic CBD analog that Peels claims is ‘unmatched in purity and consistency.’ 

There are so many benefits to this amazing herbal supplement and we’re excited to finally offer 100 percent certified THC-free and Pesticide-free products for those who’ve been reluctant to try CBD in the past. “With Peels, we’re taking all of the impurities and inconsistencies out of the equation. We believe our CBD products deserve a spot right next to your vitamins as part of your daily wellness ritual” 

Our priority will always be putting our consumers first by continuously innovating and developing data-driven and science-based products to meet their wellness needs. We’re extremely proud of our CBD Oil and we know Peels is going to revolutionise the way people view and use CBD” – Chris Hetherington

The creation of synthetic cannabinoids is nothing new, big pharma has been creating and researching these compounds for decades. In fact, some of the most popular ‘strains’ of ‘Spice’ were created in the laboratories of various pharmaceutical companies around the world.

Synthetic cannabinoids are less effective than phytocannabinoids. They have also been shown to have a far higher likelihood of developing dependency issues and presenting unwanted side effects. The dangers that synthetic cannabinoids pose are evident in the current mental health crisis affecting various prison populations in the UK.

So why are so many companies trying to discover and patent new novel ways of synthesising cannabinoids? One word, Profit! You cannot patent nature, but you sure can patent synthetic compounds and their production and extraction processes.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 34

Last Week in Weed

(2/8/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Cannabis Clubs in Barcelona under threat of closure, US powerhouse CuraLeaf launches second ‘medical cannabis’ flower on the UK market, and Tobacco giant British American Tobacco (BAT) banking on cannabis for future prosperity.

Cannabis Clubs in Barcelona under threat

It has been a tough couple of years for your average cannabis tourist. First came the pandemic and then the lockdown of most countries effectively ended global travel. Then the new mayor of Amsterdam announced earlier this year that she intends to end cannabis tourism to the world-renowned city. 

Now comes the latest blow to the international cannoisseur, the threat of closure for the infamous cannabis clubs in Barcelona, Spain. The first clubs opened in Barcelona 12 years ago and over the last decade, the Mediterranean city has become home to 225 ‘official’ associations, around 70% of all Spanish clubs. Making Barcelona a must-visit destination for any cannabis enthusiast. 

The Barcelona associations are a pioneering model in Europe and the rest of the world, they point toward the application of new drugs policies that focus on the individuals health and balanced usage” – Statement from the Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (CatFac)

The Cannabis clubs in Spain have until now operated in a legal grey area. The ambiguous language in Spanish law and a legal president set by the Superior court means that the possession, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis in private is protected under basic human rights and the right to privacy.

In 2016 the Catalonian Parliament passed a new by-law ‘legalising’ the cannabis associations by creating restrictive regulations and requiring clubs to apply for a municipal license to continue to operate. The Parliament stated when announcing the law that “Private consumption of cannabis by adults is part of the exercise of the fundamental right to free personal development and freedom of conscience” 

The restrictive measures put in place to regulate the clubs have ended up becoming the potential death nail in the coffin of the associations. A case was brought forward by the manager of a club who claimed that the requirements for extraction to be on the roof of a club discriminated against his ground floor premises. 

The court agreed with the man and annulled all of the regulations set out by the 2016 by-law. The local authority appealed the decision but a tribunal recently ruled that they do not have the ‘competence to legislate on matters governed by the state’ so do not have the authority to regulate the cannabis associations. 

Unable to appeal this decision the Barcelona local government has released this statement; “Associations are prohibited from promoting the consumption, cultivation, and sale of cannabis. Now we will send a letter to all the clubs to inform them of the new situation, and later, we will carry out safety and inspection campaigns. We will see what happens in each case.”

Scary times if you’re a club owner in Barcelona right now. The local authority has stated that ‘under its interpretation of the ruling cannabis can neither be bought nor consumed in these spaces’  but The Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (CATFAC) disagrees. 

Eric Asensio, spokesperson for CATFAC argues that the ruling only prohibits the ‘promotion’ of cannabis, not its consumption. “What happens inside a cannabis club is not promotion, but rather an economic contribution of members in exchange for a service” 

They push us to a darker place every time, we try to get out, but we keep taking steps backward. The Majority of associations assume that sooner or later they will be forced to close down” – Eric Asensio, CATFAC

The local authorities have announced that they intend to start enforcement on larger clubs in tourist areas like Las Ramblas first. The local authority is doing this to target ‘The ones with the most negative impact and which are geared towards tourists and massive sales.’ We all know who they’re talking about here.

The City of Barcelona and the local police authorities have openly admitted that the associations are a highly effective way of reducing street dealing and consumption in public places and that they’re not opposed to the associations. Whether they will support them against this ruling remains to be seen.

So unfortunately for those not lucky enough to have already experienced the unique and welcoming atmosphere of the Barcelona clubs, it may already be too late. This latest ruling places Barcelona’s status as the ‘weed capital of Europe’ under serious threat.

CuraLeaf International launches second ‘medical cannabis’ flower in the UK 

Last week saw CuraLeaf International, formerly EMMAC Life Sciences announce that it has launched its second ‘medical cannabis’ flower product on the UK market. The company’s statement claims that the product ‘will be manufactured in the UK’ and ‘will be an extension of the company’s existing range of medical cannabis flowers and oil products. A rather ambiguous statement that actually conveys little information.

From my investigations, it appears that CuraLeaf International imports ‘raw material’ ‘through its integrated supply chain’ to a facility in the northeast of England and then ‘produces’ ‘medical cannabis’ flower from the ‘raw material.’ So they trim it and package it? I know a lot of dealers that do the same damn thing.

We are very pleased to extend our range of medical cannabis products for the UK market. As a market leader, Curaleaf International is focused on solving the key patient and physician challenges relating to the price, accessibility, and sustainability of medical cannabis products. Our vertically integrated supply chain and GMP manufacturing facilities here in the UK allow us to scale rapidly to meet growing patient demand.” – Antonio Costanzo, Curaleaf International

EMMAC Life Sciences was Europe’s largest vertically integrated ‘medical cannabis’ company before it was purchased by CuraLeaf in March 2021. We covered this acquisition in issue 14 of Last Week in Weed and how it would give them GMP-certified processing and distribution capabilities in Europe. The deal worth $286m also gave the new parent company CuraLeaf access to EMMAC’s subsidiaries, including Rokshaw Laboratories.

Rokshaw Laboratories are the Sunderland-based family-owned laboratory that imports the above-mentioned ‘raw material’ and processes it into ‘medical cannabis’ flowers. What this process entails is beyond me at this point. 

Last month CuraLeaf International secured its second GMP-certified European facility in Medalchemy, Spain by securing approval from the Spanish Health Authorities to import, manufacture and export ‘medical cannabis’ flowers. 

Most recently the company celebrated its first importation of ‘medical cannabis’ flowers from its primary facility in Terra Verde in Portugal to Israel. The shipment of over a ton of cannabis flowers was comprised of two proprietary cultivars and completed in partnership with BOL Pharama

The company’s recent successes are a testament to the power that CuraLeaf wields. The world’s largest cannabis company by revenue operates 107 cannabis dispensaries in 23 US states and has over 20 million square feet of cultivation capacity. This makes it nearly impossible to compete for small to medium businesses trying to make it in the cannabis industry.

Image: Evening Standard

British American Tobacco banking on cannabis long-term

Our final story this week is the UK’s largest tobacco company, British American Tobacco (BAT) moving further into the cannabis industry. The powerhouse behind cigarette brands like Lucky Strike and American Spirit has been slowly moving into the industry over the last 12 months.

First came the announcement on Capital Markets Day in November 2020 that the company was to launch ‘the world’s first truly global vaping company’ and “expand our portfolio of products into new areas ‘beyond nicotine’ as we continue to drive a step-change in our business.” 

Then in January, the company’s VUSE CBD Zone brand CBD vaporiser pilot scheme began in Manchester. The company hopes to use “this pilot launch to gain key learnings about consumer and retailer experiences, combined with our extensive expertise and knowledge of vaping, to help inform plans for a potential nationwide roll-out of VUSE CBD Zone later in the year.” Loosely translated that means to dominate the CBD vape sector.

Then earlier this year in March it announced that it has acquired a 19.9% stake in Canadian LP Organigram. (We cover this acquisition in Issue 14) The investment worth £126m reflects the company’s ongoing expansion into ‘reduced-risk alternatives to cigarettes, as well as go beyond nicotine products’ or put simply cannabis. They’re moving into the cannabis industry.

BAT is not the only big tobacco company investing in cannabis. Altria, the makers of Marlboro now owns 45% of Cronos and Imperial Brands have invested $75m into an R&D partnership with Auxly cannabis.

BAT’s intentions were revealed a little more last week as executive Kingsley Wheaton told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Program that “As we think about our portfolio for the future, certainly beyond nicotine products are interesting for us as another wave of future growth” 

It’s no secret that traditional Tobacco is a dying industry, but nicotine on the other hand is still a thriving business through vaporisation. The latest revenue reports from the company revealed that 12% of its annual sales were non-combustible. This represents a 50% growth in the area on last year’s total sales. With that kind of growth, you can see why they’re accelerating investment into the sector.

The relative wild-west of vaporising regulation and monopolistic practices over the last several years means that companies like BAT are now best placed to truly dominate what will soon become an over-regulated CBD vape market here in the UK.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 33

Last Week in Weed

(26/7/21)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Hypocrisy at the Olympics with the perpetuation of the CBD Good/THC Bad industry sales pitch and false dichotomy, Israeli vaporiser company Kanabo set to become Europe’s largest public cannabis company, and finally the story of a man falling 20ft from a roof while trying to escape police at a cannabis grow in the UK.

Image:www.confuzine.com

IOC hypocrisy and the artificial cannabinoid dichotomy

The first story we will be looking at this week is the clear and overt hypocrisy around cannabis and the Olympics by the IOC. In a piece released last week, Forbes proudly declares that ‘Cannabis takes the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics’ while doing little more in the editorial than to advertise a US-based ‘Hemp-derived’ isolate CBD brand called Mendi

In this industry fluff piece, the various CBD isolate products that the company provides are promoted through quotes and testimonials from athletes espousing the brand’s claimed ethicality and efficacy. The marketing heavy piece is interspersed with a rather fake feeling social justice narrative that seems little more than insincere virtue signaling to capitalise on current cultural issues and trends.

The societal effect in terms of social justice that weed has had on this country is just absurd. There are so many, mostly Black and Brown, people sitting in jail for 10 or 20-plus years for weed, and it’s completely unnecessary. From a social perspective, we’re long overdue for the legalization of cannabis” – Megan Rapinoe 

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from the prohibited substances list in September 2017 but chose to continue to prohibit THC and other cannabinoids. Since this policy change, there has been a global race to create slick CBD ‘wellness’ and ‘lifestyle’ brands that produce bespoke THC-free products that work around current legislation for the Sporting industry. 

Interestingly, because of Japan’s current strict regulations on CBD and other cannabinoids, there will be little CBD at this year’s Olympics despite the removal of CBD from WADA’s banned substances list. That being said it will of still likely been a staple of many of the Olympian’s daily routines.

Although cannabis is on the world stage for the first time ever, we’re not saying that it’s there in Tokyo, what we’re saying is, ‘we’ve been there on the journey to get these athletes to the world’s biggest stage, and they’ve been taking our products every day for the past year or two years to help them with marginal gains.’ Every time you get a better night’s sleep, every time you recover better from the last batch of exercise, then your performance is going to be better the next time” – Rachael Rapinoe, Mendi

In issue 30 of Last Week In Weed, we discussed the disqualification of US gold medal hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson. The world’s sixth-fastest woman was barred from this year’s late-run 2020 Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for THC. Not that she should have to justify her consumption of a plant to anyone, but the champion sprinter said she consumed cannabis to manage her anxiety and stress during a difficult period.

Sha’Carri Richardson, unfortunately, wanted to use a healthier alternative to manage the stress that was going on in her life, and now she’s banned from this year’s Olympics. Every athlete should have the same access that every other Americans do to deal with the stresses of life”

We really believe there is a movement and a flood of people wanting healthier alternative medications. They don’t want what we typically have been prescribed in this country, whether it’s over-the-counter meds, prescription opiates, sleeping pills, or various tools to help with stress and anxiety. So, we want to give people the healthiest option to stay on top of their game longer, specifically positioned with athletes.” – Rachael Rapinoe, Mendi

These are unusual times we live in, cannabis has gone from being an underground plant protected by first-world nations, interconnected sub-cultures, and diverse multi-generational advocates to being the best thing since sliced bread.

It is no longer about getting others to believe what the hippies and herbal healers have known for decades, about the therapeutic properties and benefits of cannabis. It’s now all about patents, intellectual property, and proprietary technologies. As cannabis goes mainstream so does its appeal to the vulture capitalists that forever circle the global economy looking for fresh industries to pick devour. 

Their money has already unfortunately financed a lot of ‘hemp’ and CBD companies that are now benefiting greatly from continual delays to the inevitable end of global cannabis prohibition. They are content to profiteer and perpetuate bad science to sell isolated and therapeutically restrained products. They polarise cannabinoids and hamper the conversation about cannabis by demonising THC to protect their CBD-only business models.

Those short-sighted opportunists may be ahead now, but their greed, flashy advertising gimmicks, and their pay-to-play lobbying will only get them so far. When the shackles of global cannabis prohibition and propaganda-fuelled ignorance are finally removed the divide will be bridged and the financial motivation to hide or manipulate data and knowledge will lessen. 

Kanabo set to become Europe’s biggest public cannabis company

Our second story this week features a company that we have covered a few times in Last Week in Weed. Kanabo, the Israeli vaporiser company has announced that it intends to acquire Canadian ‘wellness’ and ‘medical cannabis’ producer Materia.

Acquiring Materia will give Kanabo access to Germany, which is currently Europe’s largest ‘medical cannabis’ market. With the German market making over €200m in 2020 and being expected to reach a value of €3.2bn by 2025, you can see why it is an important strategic move by the company. 

This acquisition would allow Kanabo to provide its own in-house production, extraction, and distribution through Materia’s GMP-certified subsidiaries direct to European pharmacies. At the time of publishing, this blog Kanabo shares on the LSE are up 9.6% 

Materia’s unique innovative supply chain will provide strong distribution channels in the German market and offer new strategic partnerships with premium cultivators around the world. Together with Kanabo’s R&D and commercialisation capabilities, we will be able to develop new innovative delivery methods opening up an even bigger market potential. 

The enlarged group will become the biggest public cannabis company in Europe and will put us in a unique position as the multi-billion pound medical cannabis market starts to accelerate.” – Avihu Tamir, founder and CEO Kanabo

Kanabo also announced earlier this month that they completed its first shipment of its VapePod cannabis oil vaporiser to the UK for those prescribed ‘medical cannabis’ through the LYPHE Group. 

Earlier in the year in issue 8 of Last Week In Weed, we covered Kanabo’s unsuccessful attempt to become the first ‘medical cannabis’ company to float on the LSE. The honour, if it could be called such a thing, went to Australian-based MGC Pharmaceuticals, who are now dual-listed on the LSE and Australian Stock Exchange. 

I bring this up because I wanted to highlight how language can and will be manipulated by capitalists to frame their brand or business in whatever way they wish. Check out this quote from Materia CEO Deepak Anand.

We are excited at the prospect of joining forces with Kanabo’s team. As the first medical cannabis company approved to list on the London Stock Exchange, Kanabo’s ambition to be a market leader matches our own and we believe that our combined infrastructure will generate significant value for our shareholders, partners, customers and patients” – Deepak Anand, CEO Materia

Did you notice it? A rather subtle and clever, but ultimately negative and pernicious practice that is exploited at all levels of modern advertising and marketing. Despite the collective hope of the hippies, fight of the activists, and best intentions of ‘mom & pop’ shops international corporate cannabis is here. 

Suspected cannabis grower injured in 20ft fall trying to escape police in Walsall,UK

The final story that we’ll be covering this week is that of a man who fell of a roof when trying to escape police in the UK. A man attempted to flee a suspected cannabis grow in Walsall, West Midlands, UK by climbing onto a steep-slated two-story house roof. 

The man fled to the roof when police acting on intelligence entered the property just before lunchtime on Friday. The police searched for the man, instead, they found an estimated 70 cannabis plants. 

The footage of the man slipping and crashing through the guttering before hitting the floor went viral over the weekend after a student across the road filmed the moment the man fell off the roof narrowly missing a police officer below. 

Witnesses at the scene reported hearing the man screaming for help and an ambulance. The man attempted to stand up but quickly hit the ground again before officers kept the man face down for 45-minutes before an ambulance could attend the scene. An air ambulance was seen circling but it didn’t land. 

A police spokesperson said that ‘He has been taken to hospital with injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening. ‘He has been arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and will be questioned when considered medically fit.’

The point I wanted to raise here is the disproportionate nature of the perceived harms between what consuming cannabis can do to you and you getting caught with it. This man was in such fear of being caught by the police that he’d rather potentially risked his life to try and avoid detection. 

The relative potential harm that cannabis could pose to a significantly small percentage of consumers versus the damage caused by the ubiquitous and institutional persecution of millions of cannabis consumers daily is incommensurable and reprehensible at best.

Although we are still waiting for further details to be released, it is still a source of great frustration to me that not one of the media outlets that covered this incident thought to inquire further about the man’s health or situation. 

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.