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Monday, March 7, 2016

World News for March 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Not Bricks of Gold
Malta: Dylan Azzopardi, 22, is a loan shark in Marsascala who held Luke Vella, 20, against his will and beat him, causing him to lose vision in one eye, for an overdue debt. Vella decided to take revenge into his own hands by robbing Azzopardi with two accomplices. Vella and an accomplice found a large bag with bricks wrapped in brown paper inside and assumed the bag contained money or pieces of gold. Police caught the men 20 yards from the home after receiving an anonymous tip. The bag actually contained 3.5 kilos of cannabis hash and about 100 grams of flower. The three men were charged with aggravated possession and so was the “victim” of the burglary, Azzopardi. Azzopardi was charged with aggravated possession after a search of his home led to another half kilo of marijuana in the garage. All men were allotted bail so long as they pay the fine, sign a bail book daily, and observe a curfew.

Mom Claims Marijuana Makes Her a Better Parent
England: January Jones is the mother of a two year old daughter and an activist for cannabis use. Jones is open with her daughter about her marijuana use and reads to the child from “It’s Just a Plant”, a children’s book aimed at teaching kids the benefits of the plant. She says she prefers to read the book to her child to help educate her about the medicinal and beneficial effects of marijuana. Jones told the Daily Mirror, “Smoking cannabis helps me be a better mother. It makes me a more creative mum, a more relaxed mother.” Jones isn’t the only mom advocating for her right to consume. A documentary created by a group that calls themselves Moms of Marijuana focused on moms who describe their medical reasons behind the marijuana use and how the medication has improved their ability to parent. One mother in the movie claims, “It does make me a better mom. I’m calmer, I’m more rational, I’m not angry.”

New Poll Claims Canadians Want Legalization
Canada: A new poll conducted by Globe and Mail/Nanos Research has found that majority of Canadians agree with the government plan to legalize marijuana. The survey found that 68% of the population supports or somewhat supports legalization while only 30% is opposed or somewhat opposed. It also discovered that most citizens would prefer dispensaries or pharmacies dedicated to selling the drug instead of allowing it to be sold in liquor stores. The main concern shared by 51% of Canadians is that legalization will lead to increased drug use by those under 21, but according to the poll 57% do not believe marijuana should even be considered a “gateway drug”. Those in favor of legalization are torn on being allowed a personal grow with 49% wanting to be able to grow at home and 48% opposed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize marijuana in the country in 2013 and has called on Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and a former Toronto Police Chief, to create a model that would best allow distribution to adults of legal age while keeping it out of the hands of children. As of late February, Blair has refused to give a timeline for the work of a new federal provincial task force which will lead broad discussions on the matter and create changes to the criminal code. The random survey was conducted by telephone and internet, it has a margin of error at +/- 3.1%.

Australia’s Most Progressive Medical Marijuana Bill Up for Debate
Queensland: A new bill to allow patients access to medical marijuana is expected to go before Parliament in April after being under community consultation for the next month. Public Health Bill 2016 would create a formal process for doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical treatments. The proposal will set up the framework for a better regulation process, which will ensure patients are receiving the medication they need. While doctors will be able to distribute the medication they prescribe to patients, it will still require approval from the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration. Health Minister Cameron Dick, who supports the reform, said, “There are patients out there right now who may benefit from some relief that can be delivered through medicinal cannabis. It’s important we acknowledge that medicinal cannabis is a drug, and should be regulated properly.”

Michael Jackson is Getting Too Old for this Stuff
Hartlepool: A 62 year-old man was caught with a “bar” of marijuana hidden in his home when police raided it on an unrelated drug charge earlier in the year. Michael Jackson was recently acquitted of being involved in a cocaine conspiracy that was at the center of the raid but was charged instead with possession with intent to distribute. His lawyer argued that this was his first drug offense in over 25 years and that since Jackson’s health is not good, his risk of re-offending is low. The judge sentenced Jackson to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and a curfew of six months telling Jackson at his sentencing, “You are getting too old for this. Go away, look after yourself, and don’t let me see you again.”

Australia’s Synthetic Problem
Gold Coast: Police raided several homes and businesses this month in connection with synthetic drug manufacturing. Officers found several cement mixers being used to mix the chemicals which were then poured and dried in the back of a black van. Most of the sites raided were in squalid conditions, making the dangers of an already dangerous drug more alarming. There are tobacco outlets, herbal stores, and adult shops that market the drug as a “legal high” found in the form of tea or incense. Detective Jon Wacker says at least 10 people have died from the chemical mixtures in the past few years, while countless others have had horrible adverse reactions. He told SBS News “It’s like playing Russian roulette. One of these days your luck is going to run out. There’s no way people can measure what is going into these mixes, (it’s) just people doing backyard production of lucid dangerous drugs.” Only two people were arrest following the raids but the investigation is ongoing.

Man Avoids Jail by Changing Lifestyle
Dublin: A man in Dublin was arrested for packaging and intending to distribute €26,307 worth of marijuana. In Ireland selling the drug can land the distributor in jail for twelve months along with a large fine, however in cases where over €13,000 worth of cannabis is seized the punishment can be up to ten years in prison. The man arrested, Jason Bailey, had no prior convictions and has not had any issues with law enforcement while awaiting sentencing. He admitted to holding the drugs, claiming he needed them to help pay off a previous debt acquired from his own cannabis addiction. The judge took that information as well as the fact Bailey attended a treatment program, re-enrolled in school, and has not used the substance since his arrest into consideration at his sentencing. The Judge decided that since Bailey “made a spectacular turnaround in his personal circumstances”, the four year sentence he was handed would be suspended in full. The judge was also impressed at the amount of support Bailey was receiving to help turn his life around and end his addiction.

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