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Australia: Olivia Newton-John Advocates For Medical Cannabis Down Under

Olivia Newton-John

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Entertainer Olivia Newton-John has become an unlikely champion for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia.

"I will do what I can to encourage it. It's an important part of treatment, and it should be available," the iconic singer, said.

Newton-John said she uses the drug – which is legal in her home state of California – and it's helped her during her second fight against cancer.

"I use medicinal cannabis, which is really important for pain and healing," Newton-John said. "It helped me a lot with pain, because, you know, I don't like taking prescription drugs, so it's kind of a no-brainer," Newton-John added.

Chile: Pharmacies Set To Dispense Medical Marijuana This Week


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pharmacies in Santiago, Chile will begin selling medical marijuana products this week, as the nation's legislature is considering allowing patients to grow small amounts at home, according to a report in Reuters. The products will be imported by Canadian licensed producer Tilray in partnership with Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

The Tilray products, T100 and TC100, will cost about $310 per month for individuals with a prescription. Medical marijuana was made legal in Chile in 2015, but mmj therapies were only available through a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity.

“By importing Tilray’s medical cannabis products to Chile we intend to ease the suffering of those in need by offering pure, precise and predictable medical cannabis products,” Roberto Roizman, Alef board president, said in a statement.

Chile's first medical marijuana crop was harvested in April by Australia’s AusCann Holdings and Chile’s Fundacion Daya. Those establishments must complete successful clinical trials before being registered with the Chilean Institute of Public Health and made available for patients, however.

Australia: Providers Can Now Apply To Grow Medical Marijuana

Australia mmj.png

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana providers may now apply to grow medical cannabis in Australia.

New legislation passed earlier this year licensed cultivation and production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. A vote on October 30 opened up the cultivation of medical marijuana in Australia.

“Until now, it has been difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis products from overseas sources,” Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said.

New medical marijuana cultivators will have to comply with a set of legislations and classify their harvest with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. States and territories will also retain control over licensing and product output.

In order to qualify, cultivators must also pass “strict fit and proper persons requirements and other legislative tests relating to security.”

According to spokesman from an Australian investment group, “the [Australian] domestic medicinal cannabis market could be worth more than $75 million a year.”

“The US has a well established cannabis markets and there’s no reason to suppose consumer demand or product pricing in Australian will be any different relative to the two countries population difference,” he also said.

Australia: Medical Marijuana Cultivation Legalized


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Australia has allowed “fit and proper” individuals and entities to cultivate medicinal cannabis crops under strict government license and guidelines in an effort to substitute imports with “domestic supply.”

The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 took effect on October 30, 2016. The new regulations allow for the licensing of cannabis cultivation and the production of cannabis and cannabis resins for medicinal and scientific purposes.

“Until now, it has been difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis products from overseas sources,” Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement released on Sunday.

“These new laws change that situation by providing for a domestic supply of medicinal cannabis products that are not readily available for import.”

While the new law favors pharmaceuticals, recreational smokers are not affected, as consuming marijuana remains a criminal activity.

“I want to emphasize that the changes to the Narcotic Drugs Act do not decriminalize cannabis for recreational use,” Ley said.

Australia: Researchers To Study Marijuana For Treatment Of Melanoma

marijuana plants.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers at the University of Canberra (UC) in Australia are starting a new research project aimed at producing a cannabis-based combination therapy treatment for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

International medical cannabis producer Cann Pharmaceutical signed a $1 million deal with the University to provide medical-grade cannabis for clinical trials on melanoma patients, a recent release stated.

The two-year research project will be led by UC professor of molecular and cellular biology Sudha Rao.

Existing research suggests several compounds in marijuana have the ability to ”switch off” uncontrolled skin cell growth, a major factor in the development and progression of skin cancer.

“Australians have the highest rate of melanoma in the world, with estimates of more than 13,000 new cases to be diagnosed in 2016 alone,” Rao said. “When you consider that melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia and New Zealand, and almost 1,800 people will die as a result of this cancer this year, we need to work harder at finding effective treatments.”

Medical cannabis will be administered to melanoma patients along with standard chemotherapy. Scientists will monitor how melanoma stem cells respond to treatment with marijuana. Clinical trials are expected to begin in 2017.

Australia: Ecofibre Sends 6 Tons Of Hemp Seed To USA

handful of hemp seeds.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Ecofibre announced Thursday that 6 tons of certified Australian hemp seeds were safely shipped to the United States. The seeds have been distributed to selected farmers in Kentucky and Tennessee to enable the cultivation of 530 acres of commercial hemp production under the 2014 Federal farms Bill, section 7606.

Ecofibre is an Australian company that maintains one of the world's largest and most diverse seed banks of cannabis sativa germplasm.

Ecofibre Chairman Phil Warner said: "This is the third year we have sent certified seeds into Kentucky, scaling from 100 acres last year, and we are impressed with our crop performance so far. We have been researching and working on this opportunity for over 15 years and the USA has always been our target. Given the similarity in latitude and climates to Kentucky and Tennessee, our proprietary Australian cultivars are likely to continue to outperform European and Canadian varieties."

Once the contracted farmers from Kentucky and Tennessee harvest and process the hemp crops, Ecofibre will bring a range of high quality hemp-derived products to the consumer markets via its US subsidiary, United Life Science.

Global: Iceland Tops The World In Marijuana Use; U.S. Comes In #2


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization has been a political issue in the United States for some time, and while it remains illegal in most states, others have softened their stance in recent years.

Colorado and Washington both passed initiatives by popular vote to decriminalize and legalize cannabis in 2012. In 2014, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., followed suit.

Many states including Massachusetts, California, Missouri, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Ohio have flirted with legalization for a few election cycles, with buzz growing.

The United States isn't the only country where people use marijuana legally or illicitly. In fact, it isn’t even the country with the highest reported marijuana use.

To determine the countries with the highest marijuana use, HealthGrove used data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which covers reported use of cannabis for each country in the last year. Although HealthGrove included the most recent data available, the year collected varies by country.

"We've ranked the list from least to most reported usage, and provide legality information for each country," according to HealthGrove.

Iceland tops the list. The Top 5 is rounded out by the United States, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Canada.

Israel: Australian Premier Visits, Learns About Israeli Cannabis Scene

iCAN-SaulKaye-JasonRyker-AustralianPremierMikeBaird.jpg's co-founder, CEO Saul Kaye met this week with Australian Premier Mike Baird and the Australian trade mission currently in Israel. Kaye highlighted iCAN's involvement in medical cannabis clinical trials and plant based research via iCAN's partnership with Breath of Life (BOL) Pharma. The two companies recently partnered to form the first private Cannabis R&D center in Israel.

"As a company in Israel with two Australian founders, I was especially honored to have the opportunity to present our initiatives in front of Premier Mike Baird and the Australian mission," Kaye said. "The mission visit comes fresh off our CannaTech global innovation summit as we are looking to collaborate on research and development initiatives to advance medical cannabis and further Australia's entrance into a responsible medical cannabis program."

Baird, the Premier of Australia's New South Wales district which encompasses Sydney and has a population of about 7.7 million inhabitants, is one of Australia's leading proponents of legalizing medical cannabis in his country and could be on the cusp of leading historic legal reform as clinical trials have begun.

Global: More Countries Decriminalizing Ahead Of UN Debate On Global Drug Policy


Release, the United Kingdom-based center for expertise on drugs and drug laws, on Monday launched a new report highlighting the enormous benefits that decriminalizing the possession of drugs for personal use brings to individuals, society and governments.

The report, ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Across the Globe,’ analyses over 25 jurisdictions around the world that have decriminalized drugs, finding a surge toward this drug policy model in the past 15 years. Among the positive outcomes identified as a result of decriminalization are:

• Reduced rates of HIV transmission and fewer drug-related deaths (Portugal);

• Improved education, housing and employment opportunities for people who use drugs (Australia);

• Savings to the state of close to $1 billion over 10 years (California).

Furthermore, the report shows that despite critics’ fears that decriminalization will lead to a surge in drug use this has simply not been borne out in the evidence, with drug laws revealed to have a negligible effect on drug use levels.

“Governments can no longer ignore the irrefutable evidence -- ending the needless criminalization of people who use drugs brings tremendously positive outcomes for society as a whole," said Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of Release. "It is high time resources stop being channelled into futile efforts to combat drug use and instead are diverted into harm reduction and public health programmes.”

Australia: Government Passes Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australia's Parliament on Wednesday passed a medical cannabis bill which will allow the legal cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on Wednesday afternoon that amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967, which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesdday, had also successfully passed the Senate, reports Josh Butler at The Huffington Post Australia.

The new law will allow access to medicinal cannabis products for patients suffering from serious illnesses, by allowing the cultivation of the plant for medical and scientific purposes.

"This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medical cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals," Ley said.

"This is the missing piece in a patient's treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced cannabis products from farm to pharmacy," Ley said. "Under this scheme, a patient with a valid prescription can possess and use a medicinal cannabis product manufactured from cannabis plants legally cultivated in Australia."

Australia: Lawmakers Expected to Okay Medical Marijuana

Marijuana in Australia.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Australia are expected to approve legislation in the next few months to allow for the growth and production of medical marijuana.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the milestone legislation that would permit patients and doctors to use medical marijuana to manage pain and treat certain conditions.

The legislation is anticipated to be supported by all parties Greens leader Richard Di Natale said last October. "We need national laws to make sure we can licence growers … that doctors can prescribe this and that the medication gets in the hands of patients who need it," he said.

In a recent statement Health Minister Sussan Ley said, "This is an important day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products. Importantly, having a safe, legal and reliable source of products will ensure medical practitioners are now at the center of the decision making process on whether medicinal cannabis may be beneficial for their patient."

"A national regulator will also allow the Government to closely track the development of cannabis products for medicinal use from cultivation to supply and curtail any attempts by criminals to get involved," Ley continued.

It appears likely that Australia will this year join 23 US states and 18 nations around the world with active medical marijuana legislation.

Australia: Legislation Will Legalize Medical Marijuana Cultivation


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Australian government on Tuesday introduced legislation to Parliament that would legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal or scientific purposes.

The bill would amend the half-century-old Narcotic Drugs Act and create a licensing scheme, reports Rod McGuirk at the Associated Press. Marijuana is currently illegal in Australia, but two states are considering legalizing it for medicinal purposes.

"This government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may have some applications and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available," Health Minister Sussan Ley told Parliament.

The bill is guaranteed to become law; the principal opposition party has already pledged support. "In fact, I've had support across the chambers and around the country and I really believe this is bipartisan," Ley said, reports Alexandra Beech at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

A 2013 government survey of 24,000 Australians found that 69 percent supported allowing cannabis use for medicinal purposes.

Australia: 'Stoner Sloth' Anti-Marijuana Campaign Backfires, Draws Widespread Ridicule


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An anti-marijuana ad campaign in Australia featuring a Stoner Sloth has drawn widespread criticism and online ridicule; the campaign is being derided as a laughable failure.

The Stoner Sloth campaign, paid for by the New South Wales government with taxpayer money, was supposed to convince teens not to smoke marijuana, reports the BBC. The Stoner Sloth character is portrayed as being unable to cope with various social situations after getting fucked up.

The three original videos show Stoner Sloth acting dopey and reacting slowly to the people around, who are apparently disgusted by Stoner Sloth's dull-wittedness. "You're Worse On Weed," we are told by the ads.

Even anti-marijuana groups in Australia attacked the lameness of the campaign. “While we wish the NSW Government luck in future cannabis campaigns, the current Stoner Sloth campaign doesn't reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached,” sniffed the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, reports Mark Molloy at The Telegraph.

The NCPIC's logo was used to endorse the campaign, but it was quick to distance itself, claiming it had "no input" into the final ad.

The top trending Twitter hashtag in Australia on Saturday was #stonersloth, and it was still trending as of Monday.

Australia: Government To Introduce Law To Legalize Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Australian government, under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, wants to legalize medical marijuana in Australia this year.

Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley on Friday said she was finalizing changes to the Narcotics Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicinal and scientific purposes, reports Jane Lee at The Sydney Morning Herald.

The state governments of Victoria and New South Wales have indicated they want to legalize medicinal cannabis, and are waiting for a regulatory scheme from the federal government before they do so.

The move comes a few days after Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he would put a separate cross-party bill on the medical marijuana issue to the Senate next month.

Ley said the government's planned changes would allow the Department of Health to license medicinal cannabis growers, with obligations and legal requirements for states and territories. The Greens, Labor and cross bench senators would be consulted, along with the states and territories, "before bringing a final version to Parliament by the end of the year," she said.

The model offered by Ley differs from the Greens' proposal, which would create a new national regulator overseeing the cultivation, processing and distribution of medical marijuana. Senator Di Natale has said if that bill passes, the independent regulator could be set up this year.

Australia: Woman Calls Police To Complain About Lack Of Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Australian woman called the local police station Friday night to vent her frustration over the lack of marijuana around town.

The Esperance Police Station wasn't expecting a complaint from an upset cannabis user, according to Senior Sergeant Richard Moore, who said the resident was irate and angry with the offier who took the call, reports Haley Baker at Western Australia Today.

In a "heated exchange" with the officer, she made it known just how difficult the Esperance Police force had made it to buy marijuana around town.

"She was disgusted with what Esperance Police have done and would like us to stop charging people for using or possessing cannabis," Sgt. Moore said. "She sees the kids in her street daily searching for cannabis and not being able to get it easily."

Moore said the woman said it also unfair to the low income families who use marijuana to relax.

According to police, the woman said they wouldn't understand her needs and the needs of others, as they had professional careers. Blue-collar families rely on cannabis as a way of getting through the day-to-day grind, the caller said.

Photo of Police Sgt. Richard Moore: Western Australia News

Australia: $33.7 Million Donation For Medical Marijuana Research Inspired By Granddaughter


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A pair of Australian grandparents on Friday made the biggest-ever donation to medical marijuana research to investigate its use in treating childhood epilepsy and other diseases.

Barry and Joy Lambert's granddaughter Katelyn suffers up to 1,400 seizures a day, and medicinal cannabis could save her life, reports Alicia Wood at The Daily Telegraph. Lambert said he and his wife made the $33.7 million gift after seeing Katelyn respond to cannabis treatments for her debilitating condition, Dravet syndrome.

"Our vision is to make Australia a world leader in researching how to realize the powerful medicinal potential of the cannabis plant," Lambert said. "The experience of our granddaughter, who suffers debilitating epilepsy, has opened our eyes to the extraordinary possibility of cannabinoids treating not only her condition but a range of chronic illnesses that often don’t respond to conventional treatments.

“We believe this investment in the future of Australian science and medicine will provide the much-needed evidence to rapidly advance the use of medicinal cannabinoids in the treatment of childhood epilepsy and other serious illnesses,” Lambert said.

Australia: 'Hydro Cannabis' Targeted In Grow Raids


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 30 people have been charged after police investigating the cultivation of hydroponic cannabis raided 60 properties in South Australia.

The investigation began in May 2014, centering on four hydroponic businesses, reports AAP. It culminated in five days of raids beginning on March 24.

According to police, 37 grow houses were searched, resulting in 31 arrests and the seizure of 711 cannabis plants, 26 kilograms of dried cannabis, two grams of amphetamine and two grams of cocaine.

Also seized were 33 firearms, $91,805 in cash, 12 vehicles and a "large quantity" of hydroponic growing equipment.

The investigation continues, according to assistant police commissioner Paul Dickson on Wednesday.

"This operation will certainly shake up the hydroponics industry and disrupt any criminal activity being undertaken by these individuals," Dickson said.

Australia: Disabled Boy Can Have Medical Marijuana After Police Drop Investigation


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australian Police have dropped a child abuse investigation into two Melbourne parents who give marijuana to their disabled son. The Office of Public Prosecution has ruled it would not be in the public's interest to take the couple, Cassie Batten and Rhett Wallace to court.

Activists hope the ruling is another step towards the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Victoria, Australia, reports Andrea Hamblin at the Herald Sun.

Batten and Wallace also hope they'll now be allowed to keep their son, Cooper, now 4 years old, without more interference from the Department of Human Services. "We're very happy, very relieved," Batten said.

Cooper was born healthy but contracted meningitis, which left him with brain damage, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. After taking cannabis tincture with his milk, his seizures went from hundreds a day to just two or three, according to his parents.

Police wouldn't comment on the results of lab tests on the cannabis oil confiscated from the family's home in July. But both the parents and the supplier have said it was made with low levels of THC, the principle psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.

Epping Sexual Offences and Child Abuse officers raided the family's home after the parents admitted in the media that they'd been using cannabis tincture to treat their son's life-threatening illnesses.

Australia: Medical Marijuana Set For National Clinical Trial


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has thrown its support behind a clinical trial of medical marijuana, with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird revealing that a deal was struck at Friday's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

NSW will lead the collaborative, national trial, with the support of the Commonwealth and other states and territories, reports Simon Thomsen at Business Insider.

The health ministers discussed medicinal cannabis at their meeting, but underlined their continued opposition to the recreational use and legalization of marijuana, claiming it is linked to mental illness.

Premier Baird last month announced that the NSW government had formed a working group to set up the clinical trial, due to report back at the end of this year. "A NSW working group is already driving this reform and we welcome the support of the Commonwealth and the states and territories for the conduct of the trial," Baird said.

“NSW is playing a leadership role but our historic agreement to work collaboratively on this significant issue means we have a far greater chance of success,” Baird said.

Australia: Outrage As Police Conduct Mass Drug Tests, Raid Businesses In Nimbin


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Local residents in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia were outraged on Thursday at a town-wide marijuana raid in which drug-detecting dogs searched people for marijuana.

A forensics van was reportedly on hand to perform on-the-spot drug testing, and a number of local businesses were raided, reports Taylor Auerbach at the Daily Telegraph.

Nimbin, a counterculture hippie haven, is still reeling from a devastating fire last month that destroyed four of the town's most historic buildings; locals were very upset with the huge police presence.

"Some people are absolutely disgusted, some people think it's a joke, some people think it's an intrusion," said Mac McMahon of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy. "They're an unwelcome presence in the small community. It's over the top."

"They seem to be carting off tourists and locals who buy a little bit of marijuana off the street," one local resident said.

The raids were part of "Operation Oleary," which police claimed they established "following concerns from the local community." More than 70 police were involved in the raids, with at least eight people being arrested.

Cops confiscated two kilograms of cannabis following raids at a cafe and a bookstore. One police spokesman denied they were performing on-the-spot drug tests.

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