Last Week in Weed
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’.
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.
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.
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