Last Week in Weed Issue 5

Last Week in Weed (Issue 5)

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

In issue 5 of Last Week In Weed, we look at how Brexit is affecting the importation of “medical cannabis” and CBMPs from Europe, the UK Home Office finally issuing a second commercial cannabis cultivation license after 22-years, and a Nottinghamshire Drug unit officer who was found to of made thousands from selling cannabis grow equipment online on eBay.

Brexit disruption for “Medical Cannabis” from Europe

Brexit disruption for “Medical Cannabis” from Europe

The new year brings with it a whole host of new problems. One of the first and most frustrating issues to emerge in 2021 is the effects of Brexit on the supply of “medical cannabis” in the UK. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has stated that since Britain has left the EU, fulfilling UK prescriptions for CBMPs (cannabis-based medicinal products) at Dutch dispensaries was “no longer an option”.

From Alfie Dingley – the first patient allowed to keep their internationally prescribed CBMP back in June 2018 to Sophie Gibson in Northern Ireland – who was the first patient to be granted a long-term license for “medical cannabis” there are an estimated 40 children with severe Epilepsy that are affected by the rule change.

The urgency of the situation is not being exaggerated, and one in two of these children “will die” if the medication is cut”- Neurologist Mike Barnes

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the Dutch government was behind the decision to halt the product’s supply to the UK after Britain left the EU single market and customs union. In reality, it is the Brexit agreement negotiated by his party that means that EU countries can no longer fulfill British prescriptions for CBMPs.

This is actually a decision by the Dutch government. And therefore, we’re obviously working very closely with them to try to change the position. “It isn’t a decision that we can unilaterally change from the UK. And so we’re looking in the short term at an urgent legal fix and in the medium term, working with the Home Office and of course, the Dutch government to try to find a way through.” – Health Secretary Matt Handcock 

The DHSC has said that there are other CBMPs are available in the UK and parents should switch their children on to using them instead. This statement is emblematic of the ignorance that pervades the offices of influence. Cannabis isn’t ibuprofen – it is far more complex and nuanced than these institutions are aware and as such their failures have allowed this potentially lethal oversight to happen.

The parents affected by this change in policy were not notified directly that their current supply may be their last. The alarm was sounded by Hannah Deacon who only discovered the ruling after seeing a copy of a stakeholders letter just two weeks before it came into effect.

Every cannabis product has slight changes in it depending on the plant used to grow it. My son benefits from Bedrolite because of the quality of the product.“If we move him to another product there is no guarantee that he is going to be safe. That is very dangerous.”- Hannah Deacon

It is heartbreaking to think how helpless these parents must feel in the knowledge that when their CBMP runs out it really could be their child’s last dose. Unfortunately, I doubt that many of those affected by the impending changes had the opportunity to stock up on the products needed to help keep their children alive before the rule change came into effect on January 1st, 2021. 

All of this real life and death drama is being played out in the British press juxtaposed with the latest skunk scare stories and a few recent raids on local “illegal cannabis farms”. It pains me that they cannot see just how deeply interconnected they all are and how waging a war on one has such devastating consequences for the other. 

I feel that this incongruity in reporting perfectly illustrates just how much cannabis journalism in the UK is guided by a combination of the Dunning–Kruger effect and their own personal cognitive dissonance and individual biases.

Cannabis is Cannabis at the end of the day. Keeping it illegal for adult consumption here will only ever continue to greatly impede the future development of a robust, competitive, and equitable domestic cannabis industry capable of producing a variety of homegrown CBMPs to meet all needs.

Drug Cop caught selling cannabis grow equipment

Image: BBC News
Former Nottinghamshire PC Stewart Clarke

A former Nottinghamshire PC with 10 years on the force’s anti-drugs unit has been found guilty of misconduct by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). The former PC resigned midst an investigation last year into the suspected theft of seized grow equipment.

Stuart Clarke made more than £10,000 by selling 140 individual items for cannabis cultivation on his personal eBay account between January 2019 and September 2020. After his activity was discovered last October during a routine vetting check he was subsequently arrested the following month pending further inquires.

During the investigation, he claimed that he had acquired the equipment “legitimately at car boot sales”Ultimately, it was concluded that they could not find sufficient evidence of criminal conduct and he was released without charge. However, the subsequent investigation by the IOPC did find him guilty of gross misconduct stating that if he had of still been employed by the force that he would of be dismissed. 

The director of major investigations at the IPOC said “For a police officer to sell such quantities of hydroponic equipment, knowing its potential for criminal use, was clearly inappropriate and a breach of professional standards and even more so in Stuart Clarke’s case, given his specialist knowledge and the role he carried out in the anti-drugs unit. Such activities undermine public confidence in policing and he has paid a heavy price for that.”

The 19-year veteran’s final position within the force was “Drugs Expert in the Cannabis Dismantling Team” yet he claimed via his representation at the police federation that he did not think too much before selling the equipment as they also had legitimate use in the gardening industry. 

“I am deeply disappointed in not taking a more responsible and moral position, and I accept my actions were not compatible with what the public would expect of a police officer.” – Stewart Clarke

The once “well respected” officer claimed that there were issues in his private life that were causing him stress, grief, and worry at the time. Mr. Clarke has now been placed on a list barring him from working in the police service again.

The force has since said that they have implemented the recommendations of the investigation to improve administrative processes within the specialist cannabis dismantling unit to prevent potential future misconduct.

This hypocrisy is a bit much considering that British police forces directly benefit financially from the forfeiture of assets from unregulated cannabis cultivation under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The sooner we can end this failed war on drugs, the sooner we can start to repair and rebuild our fractured communities. 

UK Home Office finally grants a second commercial cultivation license

Image: Gov.UK
UK Home Office finally grants a second commercial license

This week also saw the announcement that the UK has finally issued another commercial “medical cannabis” cultivation license. A recently founded Jersey-based company called Northern Leaf has been granted the first commercial cultivation license in over two decades by the British Home Office.

The relatively unknown company received its license a few weeks ago in December 2020. You may remember that GW Pharmaceuticals, the producer of Epidiolex and Sativex was the first to be granted a home office cultivation license way back in 1998.

The license has been granted for the company to cultivate in a 75,000 square foot greenhouse on the largest and most southerly channel island. The newly formed company plans to start supplying CBMP producers in the UK, Germany, Spain, and Portugal by the end of 2021.

Perhaps this could help our now rather isolated island nation to become self-sufficient by domestically cultivating cannabis flowers to produce CBMP’s. It could also help stock the various private clinics with “pharmaceutical grade” flowers to prescribe to patients. 

They will face some rather big competition in the form of GWTilrayAurora, and Emmac who already have established grow-ops in Europe seeking to do the exact same thing. The company is expecting its first shipment to be around half a ton but would not be drawn into a discussion about potential profits. 

The European “medical cannabis” market is still very much in its infancy – currently only carrying a valuation of $403 million. This is set to grow exponentially in the coming years as the European Union (EU) begins to finally pull its finger out and implements a union-wide ruling to facilitate the roll-out of “medical cannabis” to all member nations. 

Northern Leaf, which was founded just two years ago has declined to publicly disclose who their owners are but we do know that Chrystal Capital helped them raise £3 million in capital in 2020, and are they’re currently seeking more. So watch this space.

They must have been rather confident that they would acquire a license as they applied to change the use of a site they own in Jersey in July 2020 – several months before they obtained their cultivation license from the Home Office. A feat few have managed to achieve, but certainly not from a lack of trying. 

So, is this a sign that the UK home office is finally relaxing its notoriously difficult licensing procedures and criteria, or are the unnamed owners of Northern Leaf actually just another well known and well-connected individual or group in disguise? Only time will tell. 

Thanks for reading this issue of Last Week in Weed. 

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 4

Last Week in Weed (Issue 4)

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

Israel launches a cannabis index on the TASE

Israel announces new cannabis index on TASE

Israel has been at the forefront of cannabis research for decades after all it was Raphael Mechoulam – an Israeli scientist that first synthesized the cannabinoid Delta 9 THC and the endogenous cannabinoid Anandamine back in 1964.

A few years before making this discovery Mechoulam completed his post-doctoral studies at The Rockefeller Institute in New York – which is rather ironic when you consider that J.D Rockefeller was instrumental in suppressing and demonising cannabis in the early twentieth century to protect his petroleum interests.

This week saw the announcement of a new cannabis index set to launch on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in February. The index is made up of nine individual Israeli medical cannabis companies that are engaged in research, cultivation, or production and sale of “medical cannabis” in Israel.

The countries cannabis index has been given a rather low market cap of 1.7 billion Shekels ($529 million) but this is likely to change as the countries industry evolves and matures. I suspect that the impending creation of a “recreational” industry will be added to this index and the cap raised much higher over the coming year.

This news comes off the back of an announcement made in November 2020 that the country was to “legalise” cannabis within nine months of receiving the interministerial recommendations. The nine-month window is for the government to figure out the nuisances of “legalising” cannabis.

The Israeli model will closely resemble Canada’s but with a few exceptions. There would be a ban on sales of edibles that “look like candy” there will be no unlicensed home growing, and public consumption would remain illegal.

The proposed legislation would also reform their “medical cannabis” program and increase possession limits for consumers. Only time will tell if they can make the August 2021 deadline.

Illinois expunges half a million cannabis convictions

Illinois expunges just under 500,000 cannabis arrests 4 years early

The Midwestern state “legalised” “recreational” cannabis back in 2019 with the passing of The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Notice the correct usage of cannabis and not “marijuana” this is because Illinois is one of the first states to use the botanical name and not the regional cultural colloquialism – marijuana. 

The legislation passed in May 2019 and became active on January 1st, 2020 – marking the first time a state legislator created a legal cannabis access system – opposed to a voter-led initiative overturning a state’s prohibition of cannabis.

The legislation means that residents over 21 can carry up to 30 grams of flower or equivalent weight of edibles and extracts but DOESN’T allow residents to grow their own weed. Although, doing so is only a civil offense resulting in a $200 fine. 

Predictions made when the bill came into effect in January 2020 suggested the state could generate 57 million dollars. This estimate was smashed by October when it was announced that tax and fee revenue had generated 100 million dollars so far in 2020. Making it one of the most profitable so-called “recreational states” of last year.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was supposed to provide $12,000,000 in funding for social equity programs to ensure diversity in who owns and operates the state’s dispensaries but in reality, most of the license holders and dispensary owners remain predominantly middle class, wealthy, and white.

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment to abolish slavery back in 1835 and in keeping with this tradition they’ve just announced that 490,000 records will be expunged and 9,200 pardons granted by the governor.

“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past-and the decency to set a better path forward. I applaud the Prisoner Review Board, the Illinois State Police, and our partners across the state for their extraordinary efforts that allowed these pardons and expungements to become a reality.” – Gov Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker

This announcement and implementation of these pardons and expungements are some four years ahead of the 2025 deadline set forth by the act. There remain many individuals whose lives have been destroyed by prohibition and the culture it created who will never see their slate wiped clean or their deep emotional wounds and psychological scars healed.

Killer Mike: Rapper, Activist, and cannabis advocate

Killer Mike calls for black people to have a “big stake” in the US legal cannabis industry

The final story we will look at this week is Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike’s call for black Americans to have a “big stake” in the countries legal cannabis industry as it has basically been built on their backs. 

And I’m gone be frank and say Black folks deserve a big stake. We deserve at least 25% of the marijuana industry because it has truly been built on our backs. And we need more med men that are owned by men that look like me.”- Killer Mike

The rapper, actor, and activist was speaking to TMZ Live last week when he made the comments. He was discussing how black Americans that have cannabis convictions are restricted from the industry that they have effectively created and nurtured through the darkest days of prohibition. 

The Atlanta rapper and social justice activist also called on president-elect Joe Biden to do what Bernie Sanders said he would do on the campaign trail – deschedule cannabis on day one of his presidency. 

You have the power in that pen to invoke things like gun laws. You should have the power of that pen to take it off the schedule one list, so that if nothing else, it gets decriminalized enough so kids’ lives aren’t ruined forever for that.”- Killer Mike

Killer Mike and the other half of Run The Jewels El P recently announced a collaboration with Cookies founder Burner to create a custom hybrid cannabis cultivar. The cultivar named, Ohh La La after a song from their fourth album RTJ4 has been breed by Lemonnade, the sister-company to Cookies responsible for breeding Lemonchello. 

That is all for another week folks. Thanks for reading this blog, if you enjoyed it then please give it a share! 

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 3

Last Week in Weed (Issue 3)

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

In this third issue of Last Week in Weed, we look at Canopy Growth’s extraction copyright lawsuit against GW Pharmaceuticals, A new cannabis and PTSD study, and just how much weed the US went through in 2020.

Canopy Growth files copyright lawsuit against GW Pharmaceuticals

Canopy Growth files copyright lawsuit against GW Pharmaceuticals

By far the biggest news of the week is that Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth has filed a lawsuit against GW Pharmaceuticals. The suit claims that GW’s C02 extraction method infringes on their patent for c02 extraction. 

C02 extraction is one of the most effective methods for extracting cannabinoids – because of this many companies use the technology in the production of their cannabis products. If successful Canopy could go on to file against many if not all companies using C02 extraction.

Canopy Growth, the company that boasts DNA Genetics, Houseplant – the company founded by Seth Rogen, and Martha Stewart’s new CBD range is one of the largest players in the North American cannabis industry. 

The lawsuit alleges that GW Pharmaceuticals’ use of C02 extraction in the production of its CBD-rich Cannabis-based Medicinal Product (CBMP) Epidolex as described on their website infringes on Canopy’s newly acquired extraction patent

A spokesperson for GW Pharmaceuticals said “the company was aware of the suit but would not comment on pending litigation”

The 20-year-old patent was acquired by Canopy earlier this month for just $1 from German-based Spectrum Therapeutics. The Company then immediately filed with the US patent office. The same day the patent was successfully granted the company filed a patent lawsuit in federal court in Waco, Texas. 

The timing of the filing suggests that this is all part of a much larger strategy to control more of the cannabis market by licensing the rights to C02 extraction of cannabinoids around the world. This puts Canopy in a great position as GW would have to outright win the case to prevent them from filing similar suits against other manufacturers using similar technology. 

As news of the lawsuit broke shares in GW fell and Canopy Growth rose as investors tried to understand the potential scale and impact of disruption this case could have on the industry.

A new study confirms the efficacy of cannabis to treat PTSD

A new study confirms the efficacy of cannabis to treat PTSD

This week saw the release of another study investigating the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There have already been a plethora of positive studies looking at the effects of cannabis on the mental health disorder. This latest study suggests that not only can cannabis help reduce symptoms but that it can also increase the likelihood of recovery. 

PTSD is a mental health disorder that can affect anyone who has suffered trauma. Any kind of trauma can cause PTSD – such as sexual assault, child abuse, warfare, violence assault, or serious accidents – basically, any threat to life can leave someone suffering with PTSD symptoms. 

Although most individuals won’t develop PTSD as a consequence of experiencing traumatic events those that do can be left with debilitating symptoms that last many years after the initial traumatising event. 

This research concludes that cannabis can be both effective in relieving symptoms and aid in long term recovery from the disorder. The group that received cannabis over the year-long study had a higher recovery rate than those who didn’t consume cannabis at all. 

In the group that consumed cannabis, there was an improvement of recovery by 2.57 times over the control group which didn’t consume cannabis. There was also a dramatic decrease in the symptoms reported by the cannabis consuming group. 

As someone that suffers from C-PTSD, I welcome further evidence of the efficacy of cannabis to treat PTSD as the traditional methods of treatment are too often ineffective and can actually slow recovery instead of aiding it. 

The study was conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and executed by researchers at The University of Colorado, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of California San Diego, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

How Much weed did the US consume in 2020?

How much weed did the United States consume in 2020?

We all know the US likes their cannabis, but just how much weed does “the land of the free” go through? A recent article claims that the United States consumed nearly $18 billion worth of cannabis in 2020. 

There is now 37 US state that has access to “medical cannabis” and 15 states plus Washington DC that have “legalised” adult consumption making America one of the largest cannabis marketplaces on earth so far.

Recently released state tax and revenue data correlated by Leafly reveal just how much cannabis our North Atlantic neighbours have been consuming in 2020. The US spent $17.9 billion on Cannabis in 2020 a dramatic increase from 2019s total of $10.7 billion.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic various US state governors declared that cannabis was an essential business and could remain open during lockdown. The dispensaries responded by rapidly setting up online ordering systems, kerbside pick-ups, and home delivery to meet consumers’ needs.

In response to these new easier shopping options and the ever-growing uncertainty of the times sales grew greatly in April and remained high throughout the rest of the year. So with more states set to vote on cannabis legislation in 2021 it’s a pretty safe bet that next year’s revenue will far exceed that of this year.

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 2

Last Week in Weed (Issue 2)

Last Week in Weed: A new weekly blog

Welcome to another issue of Last Week in Weed. This week we’ll be looking at the merger of two Canadian cannabis companies, the launch of Monogram by Jay-Z, and an update on the Irish fight to legalise cannabis on the Emerald isle. 

Monogram – The new brand from rapper Jay-Z

Rapper Jay-Z announces launch of Cannabis brand – Monogram

First up let’s talk about the rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, who announced the launch of Monogram, a luxury and in my opinion rather gentrified cannabis lifestyle brand that sells $50 prerolls that features a “proprietary roll technique allowing the flower to burn slowly and evenly for multiple sessions,” according to a press release from the brand. 

Monogram is produced in partnership with Caliva (CMG Partners Inc) one of California’s largest producers of Cannabis. Caliva, along with another Jay-Z owned company, Roc Nation (the music company Jay-Z started with Live Nation back in 2008) and another Californian cannabis company Left Coast Ventures was part of a multi-million dollar deal by Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp to integrate the brands to create California’s largest cannabis company – TCPO Holding Corps (the Parent company)

The dirt of your shoulders singer joins the newly formed company as “Chief Visionary Officer” where Carter’s role will help guide brand strategy as well as lead the company with a goal of amongst other things to raise $10 million to invest in minority and Black-owned cannabis companies. 

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation LLC boasts an impressive roster of well-known artists including Rihanna, DJ Khaled, and Mariah Carey. So expect to see a lot more mainstream musicians promoting cannabis products and becoming brand ambassadors in the coming months and years. 

TPCO also announced that it will contribute at least 2% of its net annual income to support social equity initiatives. A little low given the amount of revenue that the holding company is set to make by dominating the Californian cannabis industry. 

Tilray and Aphria announce merger

Tilray and Aphria announce the cannabis industries largest merger so far.

This week it was announced that two Canadian powerhouses are to merge to form Canada’s – and the world’s largest cannabis company. The two companies that are set two conglomerate had a combined profit in excess of 500 million dollars in 2020 – making it now the largest single player in the Canadian game. The deal comes after a similar deal with struggling producer Aurora fell through

The two companies Aphria and Tilray have arguably made this deal to secure a stronger foothold in the Canadian marketplace but the deal also best positions them for the potential of the United States legalising cannabis at the federal level in the coming years – a move that looks rather likely under a Biden presidency. 

One thing that isn’t being discussed all that much is how well this places the newly created venture in Europe. Aphria already has a growing facility in Germany that helps supply 13,000 dispensing pharmacies across Europe and Tilray, you may recall is rumored to of been involved in the handicapping of Portugal’s attempts to “legalise” the cultivation of “medical cannabis” at home in 2018. 

Shortly before Portugal announced that it planned to “legalise” “medical cannabis” in July 2018 Tilray announced that it would be building a 250,000 square-foot facility costing $20 million in Cantanhede about 130 miles north of Lisbon.

Putting our companies together creates the largest medical cannabis business in Europe, and prepares us if one-day legalization happens in the EU,” Aphria Chief Executive Officer Irwin Simon

The facility officially opened in April 2019 and by August of the same year had already secured its first multi-million dollar deal to supply “medical cannabis” to Germany – a sign of things to come.

Tilray has been linked to various campaigns around the world including the push to “legalise” “medical cannabis” in the UK during the summer of 2018. The parent company of Tilray, Privateer holdings are linked to various British cannabis campaigns and reform movements including the conservative think-tank Volteface

There’s a good chance that two years from now, five to six countries in Europe will legalize cannabis for adult use,” Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy

Volteface, which is run by Steve Moore and financed by Paul Birch also has close links to the CMCthe ACIEnd our Pain, and Families4acess. The organisation is arguably responsible for “legalising” “medical cannabis” in the UK in November 2018 following a sustained and well-executed media campaign. 

The campaign fronted by Charlotte Cauldwell after she announced that it was a Tilray cannabis-based medicine that “saved her son’s life” was coincidentally and rather fortuitously timed given that in July 2018 Tilray became the first cannabis company to offer an IPO on the NASDAQ (the US stock market) just a few weeks after announcing that the “medical cannabis” company would be moving into the “recreational” market in Canada by launching a subsidiary company called High Park.

The initial float price was $17 dollars a share but it quickly gained traction in tandem with the British campaign to “legalise” “medical cannabis” before peaking in September 2018 at $214 a share just before the new legislation came in to effect in the UK. 

So with the global cannabis market set to be worth an eye-watering $147 Billion by 2027 you can expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing in the coming years. 

The latest news from the Emerald isle

The latest cannabis news from Ireland

Finally, we’ll be looking at the news coming out of Ireland that the Health Minister has announced that “cannabis patients” who have been receiving their Dutch prescriptions for “medical cannabis” via the temporary supply system set up to assist during the Covid-19 pandemic is to be made permanent

“Medical cannabis” in Ireland isn’t legal, nor is it really illegal at the moment. In November 2016 the Irish Minister for Health asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to provide scientific advice on the potential therapeutic properties of cannabis. 

The result was the publication of Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review in January 2017. After the review, an Expert Reference Group was established by the health minister to advise on the development of a Medical Cannabis Access Programme. 

The group developed clinical guidelines for the prescribing of cannabis-based medications and approved CBMP’s in the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and treatment-resistant epilepsy.

There were various delays in the roll-out of the project but on 26th June 2019, the Minister for Health finally signed legislation to allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Program (MCAP) on a pilot basis for five years.

A few months later two new products were approved and registered for use under the MCAP. The two cannabis preparations were Aurora’s High CBD Oil Drops and MGC Pharmaceuticals CannEpil joining the already approved GW Pharmaceutical’s Sativex. The end of 2019 also saw the approval of Tilray’s 10:10 oil for use as part of the MCAP – with more expected to be added throughout the life of the 5-year pilot program.

The other big news from our Irish neighbours is that low-level personal possession of cannabis is no longer going to be prosecuted. Cannabis possession will instead now be added to the 2006 Adult Cautioning System. The inclusion of cannabis into this system means that individuals caught in possession of cannabis will face a caution and not prosecution for their first offense. 

The system helps individuals avoid prosecution for possession, however, you will still be taken to the station and need to acknowledge in writing that you agree to accept the caution. A caution under the system should only be applied once and will remain visible to the authorities in the event of any further criminal investigations or charges. 

Ireland has some amazing advocates and activists fighting to relegalise cannabis and these small steps are evidence of their tireless tenacity and dogged determination. If there are any news stories or particular topics that you’d like us to focus a blog on then please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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 1

Last Week in Weed (Issue 1)

Last Week in Weed: A new weekly blog

This is a new blog series on TheSimpaLife.com that we will be releasing weekly that focuses on a few of the biggest cannabis news stories from the preceding week. We will attempt to collect and correlate the most important cannabis news from around the world into one handy easy to digest weekly blog. 

In this inaugural blog, we will take a look at some of the news of the last month or so to catch up and lay a good foundation of knowledge moving forward in future issues of Last Week in Weed blogs. This week we’ll be looking at the removal of cannabis from schedule 4 of the Single Convention on narcotic drugs, The launch of Cancard, and Mexico’s plans to legalise cannabis.

United Nations removes cannabis from schedule 4 of 1961 Convention

The last few weeks have been historic in many ways but by far the biggest news is the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs marginally (27 – 25) voting to remove Cannabis from schedule 4 of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (CND) 

Cannabis does however still remain schedule 1 of the CND convention but its removal from schedule 4 will make researching and studying cannabis a lot less complex and far more commonplace. It should also make the attempts of various nations around the world to “legalise” cannabis a lot easier.

This change in classification is a long-overdue acceptance of what millions of people have known for decades. Cannabis has a plethora of medicinal benefits and a great deal of potential in the treatment and prevention of many conditions and diseases and can also be used to enhance the joy and pleasures of one’s life.

So while I applaud this decision, I cannot help but feel as though this will predominantly benefit the “big boys” and leave the little guy out to dry. Industry and investors will reap far more of the rewards than the individual consumer and cultivator. I fear that the continued criminalisation of cannabis consumers that do not fit into the maladaptive modern medical model is going to go down in history as one of the most mortifying mistakes of our times. 

Since cannabis remains schedule 1, alongside cocaine and heroin – “substances with addictive properties that present a serious risk of abuse” the stigma and persecution of “recreational” consumers will remain while the “Medical Cannabis” community continues to gain evermore acceptance in today’s society. 

The update to the 1961 convention does nothing about the scheduling of THC as schedule 2 and its double-bonded isomers and stereoisomers as schedule 1 under The Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971. I suspect this will be the next convention that the industry will seek to change in the coming years. This would further allow for corporate dominance while the “recreational” grow your own consumer continues to be criminalised.

Cancard launches in the UK

The end of November saw the delayed launch of the Cancard system. A discretionary card that “legitimate medical users” can apply for to help protect them from prosecution for consuming “street weed” medicinally. 

The project fronted by Carly Mayer (Carly’s Amnesty & UPA) hopes that its negotiations with the Police Federation will allow for officers to use their discretion when dealing with “legitimate medical users” who present the plastic holographic credit card sized card when stopped. The idea behind the scheme is that if they could afford it they would already have a prescription for “medical cannabis” and thus not be breaking the law by possessing it.

The system isn’t an attempt to stop criminalising individuals who choose to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes. It is simply trying to divert them from facing possession charges as cultivation, caregiving, and driving under the influence are not protected by the card.

Without a prescription, there is no legal protection for possessing raw cannabis for either “medicinal” or “recreational” cannabis, as they’re still in possession of a schedule 1 drug. The police may not arrest you if you have a Cancard but you are still very much a criminal in the eyes of the law as it stands today.

A prescription for “medical cannabis” means that the raw cannabis flowers provided by various clinics in the UK to some now 2,000+ consumers are exempt from being classified as schedule 1 but technically doesn’t fit in the newly created “medical cannabis” schedule 2 slot either. 

The creation of the schedule for “medical cannabis” in 2018 created somewhat of a paradox in legal terms. The wording of the schedule makes it very clear that schedule 2 “medical cannabis” is to constitute a cannabis-based product for medicinal use in humans”

In order to be classified as a “medical cannabis” product, the government requires that it “satisfy three requirements: It needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; It is produced for medicinal use in humans and; Is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product” – Savid Javid

The above wording and the continued classification of raw cannabis as schedule 1 means that all raw cannabis possession for medicinal purposes is still illegal under the Misuse of drugs act 1971 as “recreational” cannabis. This in my opinion means that if a raw flower consumer with a prescription can have discretion then so should all consumers regardless of the context of their consumption. 

Although I applaud this small step in theory, until I see it in action I cannot give a fair summation of the project. If the police play ball and actually cease targeting “medical” consumers then perhaps I could support such an endeavor. The question then is will the legitimate “medical cannabis” community/industry then support the development of a so-called “recreational” one?

Image

Mexico set to “legalise” Cannabis

Mexico set to “legalise” Cannabis

Mexico set to become the third country to “legalise” cannabis joining Canada and Uruguay. Although Canada is 4 times the size of Mexico its population density means that the North American nation would become the largest population to have legal access to cannabis – with 125 million people making up the world’s single largest cannabis marketplace.

Mexico has always been a drug corridor to the US, one of the world’s largest illicit drug markets. During alcohol prohibition, Mexican bootleggers would smuggle alcohol over the border to quench the tireless thirst of the United States population. After the relegalising of alcohol smugglers slowly began to change products. It was during the 1960s that the first wave of organised gangs started smuggling some serious weight across the border.

The country has been on the path to legalisation for sometime now as back in 2009 the country decriminalised possession of all drugs for personal consumption. This legislation change meant that you could possess 5 grams of raw cannabis flower or equivalent. For example, you could also possess up to 500mg of cocaine – with the limits applied to other drugs by the legislation being substantially lower. 

Instead of facing a fine or prison an offender caught in possession would be advised to seek drug rehabilitation services, until the third occasion when the visit would become mandatory. Anything over these low thresholds would automatically be deemed a “small trafficking” offense regardless of any other evidence – potentially incurring a rather heavy prison sentence.

Then in 2018, the Mexican supreme court made two rulings that triggered a “binding precedent”. In Mexican law, if the supreme court votes the same way on any given subject five times it becomes a “binding precedent” that then becomes the precedent used by all Mexican judges. This effectively decriminalised cannabis in a similar fashion to Washington DC – as commercial sales were still prohibited but sharing was allowed.

The new legislation would allow all adults to purchase and possess up to an ounce (28grams) of raw flowers. The model also allows for personal cultivation of no more than 4 plants. There is still some finer detail to be worked out like whether or not the government deems it necessary to track homegrown. 

Although there still remains several steps to be taken to federally legalise cannabis in Mexico, the bill has now been approved by the senate and the extended deadline of December 14th is about to pass. So barring any unforeseen events America will soon find itself firmly sandwiched between to legal countries – begging the question, how long till America goes federally legal?

The passing of this bill would be a huge step towards ending the bloody and barbaric war on drugs in Mexico – which has now claimed the lives of an estimated 120,000+ individuals. 

I hope you enjoyed this first issue of Last Week in Weed, our new weekly news blog. If there are any stories you want us to highlight in future issues then please get in touch Info@TheSimpaLife.com 

Simpa

 

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.

The Simpa Life Podcast episode 7: Simpa and Maca Mc

Episode 7 of The Simpa Life Podcast features Simpa and Maca covering a variety of topics and subjects. This was recorded last minute due to a technical fault when recording with the original guest.

If you enjoyed this Podcast then please consider liking, sharing, and subscribing and if you loved it, please consider becoming a Patreon today!

Check out TheSimpaLife.com for more content and information.

Follow The Simpa Life on Social media.

Twitter Facebook  Instagram Youtube

“The Simpa Life is a media and lifestyle company that seeks to inform, entertain and educate through the creation and curation of alternative thought-provoking content and conversations”

Outlaw: The man behind the Balaclava

Outlaw: The man behind the Balaclava

Over the last year or so there has been an unknown activist handing out free cannabis and advocating for changes to the draconian cannabis laws in Britain. The masked Mancunian known as Outlaw first gained notoriety by donning the now-infamous balaclava and handing out £800 worth of cannabis on Manchester’s Piccadilly gardens last summer.

A few months later In November while filming a music video Outlaw and his passenger were pulled over by armed police in Manchester and detained under suspicion of terrorism charges following reports of two masked men driving a black Range Rover. During the stop and search that Outlaw claims was “illegal” police found replica police uniform and equipment but later determined that they weren’t terrorist-related. They were released a few hours later without charge.

Over the Christmas period in2019 Outlaw, dressed in a Santa suit planned to hand out 50 Christmas cards to homeless people, with each card contained ten pounds in Manchester. The stunt attracted attention from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) who attended 0accosted the masked man and his companion. GMP said that “he was not arrested and no offenses were committed but two people were spoken to about approaching members of the public”

This year during the Covid-19 global pandemic Outlaw stepped up to hand deliver hundreds of essential “care packs” including hand sanitizer, toilet roll, and cannabis. When the wave of national support for the NHS was at its peak Outlaw was sending out free packs to NHS staff that showed a valid ID.

Outlaw’s website is bursting with branded march that helps fund his political activist campaigns and work with any profit from this shop being divided between free giveaways and homeless cash donations. Every order over £5.00 on the site will also see a tree planted in Haiti.

Earlier this year Outlaw became a best-selling author on Amazon with the publication of “Policing the Police” A handy guide on how to deal with the police and how to seek compensation when they violate your rights.

Although he has not long been on the scene Outlaw is quickly gaining attention and a reputation as a bold anonymous rebel. I recently had the opportunity to ask the infamous masked music producer some questions exclusively for TheSimpaLife.com

What first inspired you to don the now-infamous balaclava and become Outlaw?

“There’s too much injustice in the system – the police, DWP, the courts, the legislators, the lawmakers and all their corrupt friends. Some of the laws are unjust and always have been, I wanted to do something about it without incriminating myself – that was the aim”

“I’ve always loved Banksy – the anonymous side and the political message, but I wanted to do good things in the community without having to hide”

“Obviously no face no case doesn’t work as well when your name’s written on your balaclava, but it still makes it hard to prove certain things that I’d rather keep off the police record. Judges have actually said the balaclava is ‘clearly satirical’. It’s harder to prosecute ‘someone portraying or acting as a fictional character’ depending on your defense – public order can go out of the window when it comes to ‘acting’”

“Police will claim the bali can come across as scary, I’ve never found that. I’ve knocked on elderly people’s doors unexpectedly to give them free sanitizer and loo roll (and some of them weed) – and they’ve all loved it. I’m a nice guy really.”

Why the mask/anonymity?

I don’t like the idea of being well known / famous and I knew what I was planning was going to get a lot of attention.

How long have you been doing what you’ve been doing?

I started my OUTLAW stuff just over a year ago, but I’ve been making music, studying law and growing cannabis for years.

What is your proudest moment while doing this work?

“There’s a few; completely getting away with the first weed handout and getting police complaints upheld was a big step for me. Some people say ‘he’s giving it out for free so can’t be charged’ but there’s so much more to it; possession, cultivation accusations and supplying a controlled drug (“Supply is the simple act of passing a controlled drug from one person to another. It does not matter if it was for profit or not.”)”

“Giving stuff away and helping people is really rewarding for me. The homeless are usually the most grateful and hearing their stories only drives me to do more, because it’s normally a lack of help or resources from the government that’s put them in that position.”

“It feels mint too when I help people get compensation from the police, some of them can’t believe how much an hour of their time wasted by incompetent police is worth!”

Can you tell us a little bit about the Medican card?

Medican was an idea my solicitor and I had a while back. We wanted to group together advisors, solicitors and barristers to build personal defences for the consumption and cultivation of cannabis for medical and recreational reasons.”

“Arguably, most people use cannabis medicinally. If you don’t have an expensive private prescription and a pro-cannabis GP, you can’t use cannabis legally, but you might still have medical conditions that cannabis can help with. The MedicanCard allows you to log in and speak to a one to one legal advisor if you get into any cannabis related issues, in order to help avoid any charges. It can also be used as a statement of intent. The back of the card has essential info and a QR code with a manual link that pulls up information for the police if you’re searched or arrested, explaining your medical intent and police and CPS guidelines. Obviously, even since 2018, legal cannabis users have been arrested and mistreated by the police, which is why it’s good to have a legal advisor you can contact”

“There’s also a lot of cases that our collective of solicitors have successfully had acquitted for recreational users, which depending on the scenario, can be applied to other people, without the need of spending £10,000s on a solicitor and sometimes without even going to court. There’s a lot of procedural issues from the police that can make going to court unnecessary and have all charges dropped. Being able to speak to somebody can sometimes help find parts in your defence that you wouldn’t have thought make your defence so much stronger.”

Have you heard of the Seed our future campaign?

“Yeh it’s a cool document, someone sent me the link on Insta and I reached out to Guy who’s spent so much time on it. I thought the history of cannabis was pretty mad. Obviously the Seed Our Future document doesn’t stand up in court as a defence on its own yet, but I think the aim for us all is a one-for-all document that can be used by anyone”

“There’s so many different people fighting for cannabis to be either decriminalised, legalised or rescheduled – all with different strategies and approaches, it’s only a matter of time now”

Can you tell us about your book, Policing the police?

“Yeh man, the books for someone who doesn’t know where to start when it comes to getting compensation from police acting unlawfully. Most people think they would have to go to court but that’s not the case. I’ve made it an easy step by step process to understand the reason for your complaint, if you have grounds and how to correctly follow the complaints procedure to receive compensation”

“The book’s helped several people successfully receive compensation from what I know so far, and I’ve also helped a few instagram followers get compensation using the same knowledge”

Do you think the UK will legalise or decriminalise cannabis?

“Legalised would be good depending on the structure that the government put into place, I’m pushing decriminalisation at the moment because this can happen quickly and can be done without changing the laws. If it was decriminalised across the UK, it would be made legal eventually.”

Do you think the UK will ever end the war on all drugs?

“The war on drugs is an absolute failure and an embarrassing waste of money. I’d love them to end it but I doubt it.”

You’re rather active in your community – any thoughts of taking on politics?

“I’m really thinking about running for Mayor of Manchester but I’ve already got so much on and so much planned I’m not sure when I’d be able to confirm that. I’ll get into politics soon enough.”

What advice would you give anyone wanting to become active in their community?

“Make some noise! Even if you’re just discussing it, discuss change and get involved with a protest. The people in the UK live in a democracy even though it’s hard to believe.”

Are you still planning a smoke up tour for 2021?

“Yeah we’ve had to postpone once because everybody voted on it on Instagram due to Covid, we rescheduled for autumn and luckily didn’t announce it because we’ve had to postpone again. Now that I’ve basically organised it twice, it’s gonna be easy to re-book everything. I’m just waiting for the right time now.”

What does the future hold for Outlaw ltd?

“I’m doing some crazy bits next year but you’ll have to keep looped to find out what. I wanna carry on using my platform to inform, educate and help people. I’ll continue testing the law until the laws make sense. I’ve got a free app coming out in December that’s cost way too much and taken a lot of time, but it’s nearly finished now. I’ve also got my EP dropping next year so I’m mad excited to get that out.”

So while many of us have been trying to come to terms with the new reality in 2020, Outlaw has been out there fighting to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. You’ll be able to catch Outlaw on a future episode of The Simpa Life Podcast in 2021. In the mean time you can keep up to date with everything that Outlaw is up to via his Instagram and website

Simpa

 

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.

Ask your body how it feels about cannabis prohibition propaganda

Ask your body how it feels about cannabis prohibition propaganda

Now deleted post on Essex Police Colchester Facebook page

Today Essex Police posted a piece of propaganda to their Facebook page that would make Harry J Anslinger proud. This disgraceful display of reefer madness era hysteria is a blatant disregard of common sense, basic science, and a further indictment of the failed War on drugs.

The image below was shared with their 13,000 strong followers. The post was immediately met with derision, bemusement, and disbelief that an institution that is meant to uphold our human rights and protect the public would spout such outdated, outrageous, and obvious lies.

The post titled “How your body feels about cannabis” is factually inaccurate, laughably antiquated, and exactly the reason policing institutions continue to lose respect in the communities they purport to serve.

Under the deliberately misleading headline are terms that, I guess the force believes are popular street synonyms for cannabis. “Marijuana, Blow, Puff, Grass, and Tea” These are not popular terms used in the modern UK cannabis scene. Now if you’d said “fire, dank, herb, or bud” I would at least feel like they’re keeping up to date with current street vernacular.

The image breaks the body down into 6 sections, starting with the heart.“smoking increases pressure on the heart causing a rise causing a rise (Their typo) in the pulse rate, especially risky for those with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems” This statement may be true of Tobacco consumption but cannot be said about the smoking of pure cannabis.

Although, the consumption of THC is linked to increased heart rate research has shown that cannabinoids can protect the heart. The deliberate use of “smoking” and not “smoking cannabis” in this quote is misleading and manipulative of the reader.

The next body part is the eyes, where the force has simply noted “Bloodshot and pupils dilate” I am not sure what the reader is meant to take from this. Human eyes dilate and become bloodshot through many natural and legal ways such as sleep deprivation, seeing someone you love, imbibing in alcohol, and much more.

Stop number 3 on this ill-informed road-trip around the body according to Essex constabulary is airways and lungs where they write “Smoking irritates membranes in the throat and lungs, causing bronchitis and making breathing difficult. It damages air sacks. Each breath of smoke contains 150 cancer-causing substances and much more tar than tobacco smoke, making the risk of cancer and emphysema much worse, for which there is no cure. The risk of colds and chest infections is increased”

There is a lot to breakdown here, so let’s start with the claim that there are 150 cancer-causing substances in cannabis. I cannot find any studies to support this claimed number. There are plenty of studies quoting numbers in the region of 30 – 50 yet they all go on to explain how cannabis acts as a bronchial dilator and can protect and even improve the functionality of lungs.

The claim that cannabis contains more tar is also misleading. The consumption of combusted cannabis does produce tar but the amount that is inhaled depends on the consumer and their personal method of inhalation. Using a glass roach or some of the mass-produced filters available can reduce the amount of tar you inhale to less than that of a cigarette.

Comparing the carcinogenic properties of smoking cannabis to tobacco is ridiculous. Although both tobacco and cannabis smoke have similar properties chemically their pharmacological effects differ greatly. There are various cannabinoids found in cannabis that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Ultimately, the compounds in cannabis minimise carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances them. So conflating them is naive at best.

Now on to the brain, where the constabulary copy and pastes the following pearl of wisdom straight from a DARE press release.“THC interferes with thinking. Impairs memory and clouds the mind. It causes neurotransmitters the brain messengers to become inactive and it hampers the activity of individual nerve cells especially the making of protein, which impairs their function. It clogs the gaps between nerve cells with dense materials. In short, cannabis may effect; motivation, manual dexterity, concentration, judgment, temper control and cause anxiety, nervousness, depression, paranoia, dependence, short term memory loss”

Firstly, the assertion that cannabis consumption causes neurotransmitters to become inactive is a vague and uninformative statement. It doesn’t make much sense given the fact that we know that cannabis cause neurogenesis and is a neurological protectant, after all, there is even a patent for it. (#6630507B1) Secondly, the hampering of protein production is currently being viewed in academia as a positive thing, as it helps in the removal of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The list that is mentioned doesn’t take into consideration the legal status of cannabis and the ill-effects of cannabis prohibition on the individual consumer. After all who wouldn’t be paranoid carry cannabis when you could lose your freedom, your job, and your home for getting caught with it. The above list is also symptoms of alcohol consumption, yet we don’t expect the police to lie to people to help them reduce their alcohol consumption.

The penultimate stop is the immune system where the graphic proclaims “Impairs the function of the T helper cells (used to warn other cells of the presence of infection) A weakened immune system has difficulty fighting diseases especially the virus that causes genital herpes and it makes users more prone to colds and flu-like illnesses”

This ridiculous statement has got to only be a poorly advised attempt to scare teenagers, why else reference herpes in particular? Cannabis has been shown to protect the immune system and regulate immunosuppression in a range of immune disorders such as; multiple sclerosis, diabetes, septic shock, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, the reproductive system“Males – it reduces levels of the male hormone testosterone to impair the development of young males – damaging sperm and reducing sex drive and can lead to impotence. Females – Increases testosterone levels. Which may cause development of facial hair, acne, and disruption of the menstrual cycle. Birth defects and low birth weight are possible”

This is simply incorrect as the is a wealth of research showing that cannabis doesn’t damage sperm, and in fact, it can increase testosterone in men. There is, unfortunately, not enough studies on the effects of cannabinoids on androgen (female testosterone) and pregnancy for me to completely deny their comments. However, I do feel the mention of facial hair and acne could be an insidious attempt to play on the insecure female trope popularised by our culture and to dissuade them from trying cannabis in the first place. A classic characteristic of reefer madness era propaganda.

Ultimately, You have to ask yourself who was this post aimed at and why are they publishing it now? The language and points raised would seem to me to indicate they were targeting younger consumers, particularly teenagers. I think the reason it was published was more than likely a reaction to the news that yet another constabulary is planning to stop arresting cannabis /consumers for possession and the landslide victory of cannabis reform initiatives in the recent US election.

You can read about the US drug reform election results here

The statements and claims presented in this post were unevidenced, unscientific, and deliberately misleading. The press officer that produced this piece of prohibition propaganda should be held accountable for publishing flagrant lies and ideological material in support of a fraudulent conspiracy against the British public.

The lack of individual due-diligence and subsequent actions bring the entire force into disrepute and once again prove to the public just how outdated, uneducated, and unnecessary the police are when it comes to drugs.

The post was removed by Essex Police at 5pm 8/7/2020 after receiving dozens of mocking comments and reactions. It just goes to show that when misinformation and flagrant lies like this appear on police social media accounts that the actions of everyone really can make a difference!

Simpa

 

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.

US Elections 2020: Drug compassion for president

US Elections 2020:

Drug compassion for president

Photo credit: @stephaniemccabe (upslash)

The world is waking up today to the knowledge that the US presidential election is still far from over. With pundits on all sides flooding the airways with opinions, speculation, and hearsay. Once wildly improbable scenarios that were sniggered out of newsrooms have now become reality. Amidst all this chaos it’s easy to miss but there was a clear winner on Tuesday, and that was Drugs! 

Drug law reform initiatives were on ballots across several US states this year with South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey all seeking to legalise adult consumption of cannabis. While Mississippi and Montana were also hoping to legalise cannabis for medicinal/therapeutic consumption or so-called “Medical Marijuana” 

Every single measure passed! All the ballets for cannabis were declared within 24 hours, a good indicator of the changing attitudes towards cannabis in the US. 

The above states now join Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia (DC) in granting their citizens legal access to a regulated and taxed cannabis market. 

This now means that 1 in 3 Americans have legal access to cannabis, which is over 100,000,000 people or nearly twice the British population. So regardless of whether the democrats or republicans ultimately take the presidency, it is clear that the American people want to add a little green to the red, white, and blue.

It was also a big election day in Oregon, who have already legalised adult cannabis consumption back in 2014 with the passing of Measure 91 had some rather interesting choices for its citizens. The Beaver State has long since been ahead of the trend on drug law reform, after all, it was the first state in the US to decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis way back in 1973 even voting down attempts in 1997 to recriminalise it. 

This time the pacific state was faced with two choices at the ballet; Measure 109 to legalise Psilocybin therapy and Measure 110 to decriminalise all currently federally scheduled drugs. Amazingly, both initiatives passed. 

Measure 109 passed by 56%. This yes vote now means that the manufacture, delivery, and administration of Psilocybin at supervised/licensed facilities is legal. It imposes a two-year development period window to create enforcement, taxation systems, an advisory board, and roll out the new system to the public. 

This is potentially life-saving and changing to millions of Americans. Psilocybin assisted therapy has been shown to help with depression that has been unresponsive to traditional therapies. It is also being trialed in the treatment of many other psychiatric conditions and ailments and addiction. 

The other bill Measure 110 passed by a health majority of 59% decriminalising all drugs in the state. This means that anyone caught in possession of small/personal amounts of any substance would be a Class E misdemeanor offense. 

A Class E violation in this case would be subject to a maximum fine of $100.00. If you cannot afford the fine or choose not to pay you would have to attend a “Health assessment” at an addiction recovery centre. The bill also reallocates millions of dollars of tax revenue from legal cannabis sales to fund recovery centres, housing, and harm reduction services in the state. 

Decriminalisation in Oregon is estimated to reduce possession convictions by 90.7% according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission – now just imagine what effect that would have globally if we were to end this failed, fascistic and unjust war on drug consumers.

At a time when America is suffering an Opioid epidemic the saving of additional millions of dollars by not incarcerating consumers and addicts and instead of housing and supporting them is a huge step in the right direction. Let us hope that Oregon soon becomes the rule and not the exception when devising a model for how to deal with drug consumption and addiction globally.

In an election season that has seen the main event pit two law and order candidates against each other it’s refreshing to see the people vote with compassion, rationality, and community values ahead of the traditional DARE attitude of just say no to drugs. 

I sincerely hope that regardless of a Biden or Trump victory in the US presidential race that these same values can continue to resonate with the masses. America was the architect of the War on Drugs, it seems only fitting that they be the ones to start to end it once and for all.

Simpa

 

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.

Why We Need To Cultivate Equity and Social Justice In The Regulated Cannabis Market

Why We Need To Cultivate Equity and Social Justice In The Regulated Cannabis Market

Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 147 (October 2020)

Cannabis legalization has become a hot topic over the last decade with the majority of US states have now legalized weed for medicinal and/or recreational consumption – with several more set to vote in 2020 including Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, and New York. They could join the other 33 states and the district of Columbia in enacting such reform measures. (Some votes may likely be delayed due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic). As the inevitable tidal wave of cannabis acceptance crashes upon the shores of prohibition I want you to ask yourself one simple question – Is this current incarnation of cannabis law reform doing the victims of prohibition any good? The urgent need for drug law reform has been slowly gaining momentum over this century. Growing from a fringe issue into one of grave international importance.

Most global governments are now, at the very least keeping a close eye on the potential profitability and increased GDP of countries that have already legalized cannabis in some form – such as Uruguay and Canada. So, whether it be at the pulpit or in closed chambers, politicians of all ilks are now having to engage in some rather difficult conversations. They’re having to weigh up the potential perpetual profits of such a diverse, innovative, and renewable emerging industry against them losing one of their favorite and most effective control tools for cultivating coercion, conformity and compliance in the common man. Globally there is evermore acceptance of the notion that we cannot continue to criminalize and curtail the lives of individuals caught consuming, cultivating, or possessing cannabis.

The debate, however, rages on as to whether we should “legalize” or “decriminalize” cannabis.So firstly, lets quickly discuss the historic argument of legalization versus decriminalization and how ultimately, in my opinion, without some form of a parley between the two ideologies there can be no toppling of the monolith of prohibition – only a fortification and continuation of its most pernicious attributes.

Decriminalization is the process of removing some of the low-level punitive penalties for being caught in possession of a small amount of any previously illicit substance but does not allow for safe supply, unbiased information, controlled production, and regulated distribution of said substances. Whereas, legalization makes it lawful within a strict framework for some form of limited and regulated production, sale, and private/social consumption of a drug.

These two things are unfortunately not mutually exclusive. Legalization to the common ear sounds like the ideal solution as to how to end the war on drugs. The word itself conjures up a world in which the war on cannabis consumers has ended and it can be openly and fully consumed in the streets freely by people adorned in cannabis clothing, driving cannabis composite cars, eating foods fortified with health-boosting cannabinoids, and powering their hempcrete homes with cannabis graphene supercapacitors.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth as the slimy tentacles of collective corporate interest have suckered politicians of all persuasions into drafting divisive and draconian bills that heavily favor corporate interests and profit over protecting individual citizens freedoms and rights.

Take for example Canada – who “legalized” cannabis on October 17th, 2018, and in doing so increased its cannabis laws from 7 – and one of the most relaxed attitudes towards cannabis in the western world – to 45 new rather convoluted and nonsensical ones. One of these new laws is “over-possession” the criminal act of a private citizen in a country where cannabis is legal publicly possessing or transporting more than 30 grams of dried cannabis flower. (current legal limit)If you are caught violating this law by possessing between 30 – 50 grams of cannabis and it’s your first offense you will face a maximum fine of $5,000 and three months in prison, but you won’t get a criminal record. However, possessing over 50 grams breaks the federal Controlled Drugs and substances act which is not only a criminal offense resulting in a criminal record but can also result in a maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison.

Contrast this with Canada’s cannabis law in the 1960s at the height of societies hippie paranoia and the new-age reefer madness when possession would only warrant a maximum fine of $1,000 and a prison term no longer than 6 months. Doesn’t quite seem like they’ve progressed that much in 4 decades does it?

A drastic increase in the number of convictions from 20 – 2,300 prompted the creation of the 1969 “Royal commission of inquiry into the medical use of drugs” known as the Le Dain commission after its chairman. In their final 1972 report they advocated that the government focus on the medicinal applications and ceasing the penalties for possession and consumption – which had now risen to 12,000. Unfortunately, these recommendations were ignored by successive governments and Canada went on to sign up the UN single convention on drugs in 1976 – further halting any progress for decades to come.

Interestingly, in 1977 the Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau said “If you are smoking a joint for private pleasure, you shouldn’t be hassled” it’s somewhat tragically poetic that it was his oldest son – the current PM Justin Trudeau that “legalized” cannabis in 2018. I guess the vision of the father has fallen short of the son given the current situation unfolding with its cronyism, corruption, and cannibalistic capitalism consuming the commercial Canadian cannabis market.

The current Canadian system doesn’t do enough to erase and repair the socio-economic wounds inflicted upon their populous in decades past. Their pardon system, despite numerous attempts at reform still remains intentionally complex and convoluted. This means that to date there have been less than 200 out of the estimated 10,000 that the government deems eligible approved for a pardon. Way below the predicted 250,000 that will still be marred by their historic and hypocritical cannabis convictions.

The slightly fairer option would be ubiquitous expungement of all previous cannabis convictions regardless of the number of extenuating circumstances – except cases of extreme violence. We are now seeing expungement being made a priority in several US states including Illinois who will erase 800,000 possession charges for its citizens convicted of possessing less than 30 grams. Possession of 30 – 500 grams can also be appealed but it is unlikely to be granted. This does not go far enough to level the playing field and repair the devastation, destitution, and destruction inflicted upon millions of innocent individuals by decades of cannabis prohibition.

As of March 2020, 17 US states, Washington DC and Canada have some form of sealing, setting-a-side, pardon, or expungement measures in place. However, these only cover very low-level offenses such as possession of small amounts of cannabis typically only a few ounces. Ensuring that the persecution of prohibition continues to prevent millions of people from rebuilding their lives.

As I type this, Colorado has just passed house bill 1424 – a new social equity bill. That although it allows Governor Jared Polis the opportunity to mass pardon individuals caught possessing less than two ounces. It still does nothing for the thousands more convicted for possessing over 56 grams or for offenses deemed more serious such as possession with intent to supply, cultivation, and trafficking. The very backbone of the community that carried cannabis through the dark days of prohibition to the light of legalization for these corporate vultures to feast upon.

As each state drafts its legislation and prepares for the inevitable they are learning the lessons from the states that have already taken the leap but it is now self-evident that they are simply not going far enough or acting fast enough to negate the daily harms prohibition causes millions of cannabis consumers.

Under current legislation there is little to no legal protection for citizens’ right to consume cannabis as freely as they do alcohol or tobacco without risking losing their home, employment or liberty. A bill aimed at providing such protections for recreational consumers recently failed in Colorado but passed in New York and Nevada. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

Decriminalization also has its obvious flaws in not allowing for unbiased education and up to date harm reduction information, safe basic standards, and tackling serious international cartels that have had a centuries-long monopoly on various substances, be they legal or illegal. Portugal for example decriminalized all drugs back in 2001 and although this has resulted in great improvements in intravenous drug death rates and seen a rise in overall public health. It has done little to actually protect cannabis consumers. Possession of over 25 grams (10 days worth) is still a criminal offense, as is cultivation and trafficking which can still result in a fine up to €45,000 and 12 years imprisonment.

Decriminalization models typically only decriminalize very low-level possession. They do nothing to help establish an independent taxable domestic market and all but ensure the continuation of criminal organizations having a monopoly on the cannabis trade. These groups are often only motivated by profit and not by a passion for the plant and have little concern for the health of those consuming their finished product.

The ignorant divisions between the recreational, medicinal, and hemp industries is an intentionally devious and deliberate distraction. It detracts from the true potential for cannabis to reshape our archaic institutions, repair our fractured communities, and recompense the millions of victims of a centuries old war borne of racism, greed, and hatred.

Ultimately, the war on drugs has always been a classist and racist tool as articulated in the now infamous quote by former Nixon aide John Erlichman.“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”The very word “marihuana” is racist – it was made a household term by the father of twentieth-century prohibition – Harry J Anslinger.

Anslinger popularized the modern spelling of “marijuana” to make it sound more Hispanic and to closer associate it with the influx of Mexican immigrants caused by the Mexican revolution and the rise in criminality caused by the passing of the 18th amendment and the economic impact of the great depression.

The continued use of the word marijuana, no matter how deeply ingrained in the North American lexicon ultimately has racist roots. Continuing to use it as the predominant nomenclature for the US industry today is a fortification of the racist legacy of prohibition. It also draws no line between an era when the mere utterance of the word or its odor could draw enough attention from the authorities to get you killed and today when those same persecutors are attempting to create a cronyistic car crash of a commercial cannabis industry to control, corrupt and cash in on the inevitable end to the war on drugs.The world of corporate cannabis is as much of an impediment to the ubiquitous re-legalization of cannabis, as prohibition is. This is due to the continuing social stigma and criminalizing of consumers through the creation of convoluted and commercially biased policies to protect corporate profits over individual citizen’s basic human right to cultivate and consume as much cannabis as they wish.

Under these types of “legalization” there will always be legal loopholes for those same historic prejudices to be perpetuated in a post-prohibition paradigm. In too many ways the mechanisms of oppression that pervade these new systems of legalization are simply an extension of the pernicious ones that punctuated prohibition. It achieves this by creating strict new laws and complex regulations designed to discourage, dissuade, and continue the criminalization of members of ethnic and socio-economic disadvantaged communities.

Without acknowledging the historic failures and harms of prohibition and ripping up all the fascistic previous legislation that has destroyed so many lives, then we cannot begin to heal the vast and deep societal and personal wounds inflicted by a century of reefer madness.

Simpa

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.