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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

World news for December 2017 - by Kathy Hess

Malta Improves Medicinal Access to Mary Jane

VALLETTA, Malta — Malta’s government has proposed allowing all doctors in the country to prescribe medical marijuana.  Current legislation does allow for medical cannabis to be prescribed, but only from certain
medical specialists. The new law would allow for any general practitioner to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

The government published draft legislation recently which would loosen an existing regulation with so many restrictions that not a single Maltese had ever been treated legally with marijuana or a cannabis based product.

The legislation requires approval from the Malta Parliament before it becomes law.  But passage is expected in the coming weeks.

Malta’s prime minister suggested last month that recreational use of marijuana might be legalized after the medical marijuana law is passed and Malta has time to assess the effects  of it being more available medicinally.

The proposal is the latest evidence of sweeping social change in Malta, a European Union member where divorce was not legalized until 2011.


Jamaican Farmers Grow the Green, but Don’t Earn the Green
Jamaica- The international market for marijuana is booming. It’s set to reach $50 billion within a decade. And after spending millions to crack down on the drug, Jamaica’s government has decided it wants to cash in. It legalized medical marijuana and created a new licensing system to allow farmers to legally grow cannabis for medical, scientific or therapeutic purposes. But the fees are expensive and small farmers say they’re being left by the wayside. 

“It’s not easy, lots of money to get the license,” one (anonymous) farmer says. “Lots of thousands of dollars.”

The application for the license alone costs $300. Then the actual licenses can cost farmers thousands of dollars per acre they designate for cannabis.  Then there are processing fees, transportation fees and more.  Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority says some of these other expensive requirements, like fencing and surveillance cameras, are dictated by international drug laws.

The anonymous farmer states that despite having his illegal crops destroyed by the government in the past, he’ll still continue to farm his illegal cannabis.  With little opportunity to earn an income otherwise, he lives in a lean-to near his crops, hidden in the forest, to tend to and keep an eye on the plants, and the little income he does earns from selling his cannabis keeps him clothed and fed.  And he is not alone.

Traditionally, it’s Jamaica’s Rastafarians who’ve embraced the marijuana — for spiritual reasons. And the push to legalize ganja has made things better for them. Police are no longer allowed to arrest anyone carrying less than two ounces. Last year the Rastafarian community held a three-day cultural celebration during which participants were legally able to use the drug. They plan to have another celebration in December.

The licensing board says it’s aware of the concerns. It’ll waive fees for small farmers until the end of the year after their crops are sold. It’s also working on a pilot project to let farmers share costs.

Hindus Propose Reform on Hashish

INDIA- A private member’s bill to legalize marijuana in India will be introduced to its Parliament during the winter session this year. MP Dharamvira Gandhi, the politician behind the bill, is a retired cardiologist and longtime supporter of both the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis.

Gandhi has argued that India’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 (NDPS)was a failure, as the demand for drugs remains the same. This bill is intended to modify how India handles the issue by eliminating criminal penalties and regulating a legal cannabis market for medical and recreational use.

Gandhi’s bill seeks to discern between hard and soft drugs to build a legal landscape for the latter. Gandhi’s not new to cause. He has been a vocal supporter of medical marijuana for many years.

“The 30 years’ period of enactment and implementation of NDPS Act has produced results contrary to the desired results,” said Gandhi in November.  “Thirty years down the line, where do we stand? The fact of the matter is that the NDPS Act has not only failed in achieving its professed goals, but this war on drugs has delivered results directly opposite to what it aimed to achieve. There can be no better verdict and/or evaluation of such punitive drug laws than frank admission statement of the United Nations Conference on 12th March 2009, admitting that the war on drugs has failed,” he said.

The legalization of cannabis in India has a significant show of support in government. In 2013, a petition was presented to India’s constitutional court to remove cannabis from the NDPS.

More recently in August 2017, India’s Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, called for the legalization of medical marijuana. Also in August, the government issued a license to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to cultivate cannabis in order to study its applications for the treatment of epilepsy and chemotherapy-induced side effects. Even India’s former commissioner of the Central Bureau of Narcotics, Romesh Bhattacharji, has spoken in favor of cannabis reform. It is too early to tell how this new legislation will perform during the parliamentary process in December. If the support behind the bill is any indication, India could join a rapidly expanding group of countries that have come to the conclusion that marijuana prohibition has been an abject failure.

 Canada's Legalization Efforts Face Opposition

The Canadian House of Commons held a very heated debate over the legalization of cannabis on November 21st as the Liberal government presented a second reading of Bill C-45.

Justice and Attorney General Marco Mendicino presented the government’s report and pushed for the passing of the legislation. He also made it a point to mention the  “thousands of Canadians” who have been charged, convicted, and gone to jail for “small amounts of cannabis.”

“Canada is more than ready for a new approach,” said Mendicino.
But not all Canadians agree with the Liberal’s approach. Over the course of three hours, Conservative Party members of Parliament questioned Liberal Party representatives on the timing and content of the bill.

Conservative MP Peter Kent of Ontario, expressed his displeasure as he referred to the bill as a “wacky campaign promise” and a “misguided crusade.” The Liberal government is “determined to force this bill” on the police and people of Canadian, he said, “whatever the cost to Canadian society.”

Kelly McCauley, Conservative from Alberta, criticized the “nonsensical, arbitrary deadline” of July 1. He conjured up the image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the head of the Liberal Party, joining a Canadian Day party on July 1, 2018, “pulling up his pants to show his marijuana socks” and sparking the “first ceremonial doob on Parliament Hill.”

Stephanie Kusie, a Conservative from Alberta, called for the House to reject the bill. She noted that the Canadian Association of Chief of Police have asked government to extend the implementation date past July 1, 2018.

Kusie also stated that there is no reliable roadside measurement for driving under the influence of marijuana. She cited a recent study, saying Colorado experienced “drastic increases in deaths” caused by driving under the influence of marijuana. She also claimed that places that have legalized cannabis have seen increases in homelessness and crime, and that, “Smoking marijuana doubles the risk of developing schizophrenia.”

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