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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

World News for May 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Lucky Break for Large Grow
England: A 43-year-old man has received an eight-month prison sentence which will be suspended for two years for a large grow operation in Sherwood. James Coward was arrested after police responded to his address after receiving a call about a possible robbery. Officers found 73 plants in a sophisticated grow. Coward fully accepted responsibility for the plants. Judge Sampson reminded the offender that for the next two years “he would have the eight-month sentence hanging over his head.” Coward will be required to complete five rehabilitation activity days as well as six months of an alcohol treatment program. This is a light sentence considering this is not Coward’s first offense and the maximum sentence he could have received for cultivating was fourteen years and/or unlimited fines.

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Dispensary Robbers Caught
Canada: Six people were arrested last month in connection to a string of robberies targeting dispensaries across the city. Four of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 17, while the other two were 20 and 24. Police say masked assailants with guns entered the businesses, taking “physical control of the employees before stealing marijuana and cash.” Four dispensaries and one convenience store were robbed by the group between March 17th and April 4th. Law enforcement believes there is one more suspect that has yet to be apprehended. Unfortunately, due to the current laws, a couple of the dispensaries were unwilling to cooperate with police and refused to report the incident.

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First in the World
Uruguay: After 4 years in the making Uruguay will be the first country in the world to legally sell marijuana over the counter for recreational use. The law legalizing cannabis trade in the country was passed in 2013 but the process of creating the market has been slow. This month, however, presidential aide Juan Andres Roballo announced the first dispensaries will be opening in July of this year. The law will require buyers, who must be citizens or permanent residents, to be listed on a national registry. Adults may buy up to 40 grams per month which will cost £1 ($1.30) per gram. All cannabis sold in pharmacies will be cultivated from state-supervised fields, but users will be allowed to grow in their own home or join clubs that farm it. Some buyers have voiced concern over signing a national registry, claiming it to be a violation of their privacy. So far 16 pharmacies have agreed to work with the government to sell the plant. Roballo says there will be a public health campaign before the registry opens.

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New Drugged Driving Test 

Italy: The GardaĆ­ have announced a new oral test for drugged driving will start being used by officers in April. The test, called Drager Drugtest 5000, uses oral fluid to alert officers to intoxicated drivers. After receiving multiple calls with questions about the new test, officers released details claiming drivers whose oral fluid tests positive for cannabis or cocaine will be arrested and taken to the station for a blood test. Drivers that test positive for benzodiazepines or opiates and are deemed by officers to be visibly impaired will be arrested and taken for a blood test, while those the Garda believe are not impaired will be let go. Many residents were worried about the length of time marijuana can stay in the body and how medical cannabis factors into this test. The released statement claims the Drager Drugtest 5000 will detect THC in saliva for about 6 hours after the last use. “It is recommended to wait 24 hours after last using cannabis before driving. If you are sure you are no longer impaired as result of taking cannabis and more than 6 hours have elapsed since last use it should not be possible for a Garda to detect impairment and the 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level in your oral fluid should be lower than the detection limit for the Cannabis test on the Drager Drugtest 5000.” They believe the number of drivers who will qualify for a medical exemption will be small as a prescription does not allow them to drive while impaired. Law enforcement feels this new test will help prevent future accidents by keeping impaired drivers off the road.

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Synthetic Cannabis Creating ‘Dazed Zombies’
England: According to Euro News, synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, is causing problems in Manchester. Residents seem to become addicted to the drug, with the area supposedly “littered with people lying in the streets in a stupefied state. Often, they are found frozen to the spot for hours or slumped against walls.” Since the drug has been made illegal, new more powerful strains have come out. Makers have been altering the chemical make up just enough to keep their product on the market. A worker for the Homeless Charity Life Share told the BBC the effect on users is obvious in their actions, constantly trying to support their habit of a “legal high”. Operation Mandera was meant to crackdown on drug use in the area, but has been ineffective.

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Irish Govt. Doesn’t Trust General Practitioners 
Ireland: A new access program proposed by a member of the Department of Health Medicines and Controlled Drugs Unit, Eugene Lennon, will allow special consultants to prescribe medical marijuana for three specific medical conditions. While the proposal would allow patients in need to obtain cannabis to help them, it is being criticized by many for its tight regulations. Richard Boyd Barrett spoke at the Oireachtas Committee on Health accusing the Department of Health of not trusting general practitioners with prescribing the medication. Lennon disagreed with this statement claiming the Department does trust GPs, but ‘had concerns about doctors prescribing cannabis for any condition.’ The new program would allow patients with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy to use medical marijuana. Gino Kenny (PBP) believes the new program is flawed as it excludes people with chronic pain. However, consultants would be allowed to apply for licenses to treat patients with other conditions.

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