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World News - October 2018 - by Megan Smith

Oh, Canada!

Canada- The cannabis job market has spiked with the passing of recreational marijuana in Canada. It is expected to bring approximately 150,000 new jobs across the country, ranging all the way from cultivators to retail clerks and managers. With this new job market boom, naturally, comes a higher need for professionally trained workers. In response to this need, colleges and universities around the country are beginning to add cannabis to their curriculums.

Niagara College Canada recently launched Canada’s first full post secondary, one year post graduate program for commercial cannabis production. Out of over 300 applicants, only 24 students were accepted into this elitist program, including PhD candidates, scientists and engineers. The program is centered around 3 core fundamentals; large scale crop cultivation, business fundamentals and of course cannabis law.

Other schools are also offering a wide range of cannabis courses of study. Durham college is offering 2 day workshops called medical cannabis fundamentals for business professionals, which is designed as more of an introduction to the cannabis industry. Kwantlen Polytechnic University offers an in depth online course, consisting of three eight week courses in growing and production, marketing, and sales and financing. McGill University is also in the process of putting together a cannabis cultivation diploma program, however no official start date for the program has been announced as of yet.

Cannabis for Canadian Armed Forces

Canada- In response to the new recreational cannabis laws, the Canadian military has recently released a directive stating that most military personnel will be permitted to use recreational cannabis in alignment with local laws and regulations, though a few restrictions will apply. The directive states that military personnel will not be permitted to use cannabis within 8 hours of a duty shift, nor within 24 hours of any work that would involve the operating of weapons or vehicles. Additionally, personnel will not be permitted to use cannabis within 28 days of duty which requires service on a military aircraft, operations inside of a hyperbaric environment, or high-altitude parachuting. Service members will also not be allowed to use or possess cannabis while working any international affairs. Any service members that are found in breach of these restrictions will face disciplinary action, and may quite possibly even be brought up on charges.


Going Even Greener?

Ireland - Has been famously stubborn regarding cannabis, it is currently illegal to possess or cultivate marijuana under the misuse of drugs act 1977, though the laws have loosened slightly for some patients and medical professionals with authorization. An estimated 77% of Irish Citizens support the medical marijuana legalization movement, and finally in 2017 Health Minister Simon Harris announced that he would support medical marijuana licensing for patients with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy side effects, however as of yet, no formal regulations have been finalized.

Some patients have been able to obtain medical licensing for chronic health conditions, by directly petitioning the government under the misuse of drugs regulations 2017. Such as 8 year old Ava Berry, an epilepsy patient whose family has recently announced that she is now officially pharma free and is being treated solely with CBD and THC. Ireland is beginning to make strides in the medical marijuana movement thanks to the efforts of advocates such as Ava’s mother Vera Twomey, who spoke in the house of commons in London this summer, explaining the benefits of alternative medicine for the treatment of conditions such as severe epilepsy. While Twomey, and other medical cannabis advocates are making strides in the fight for medical marijuana in Ireland, there is still a long way to go.

Brits Continue to Suffer due to Lack of Access to Medical Cannabis 

United Kingdom- is in desperate need of medical marijuana advocacy, as it was recently discovered that only two chronically ill patients have actually been granted a medical license. In response to this need Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist, and UK’s leading medical cannabis expert is establishing a society to help improve Doctor’s understanding of medical cannabis medications, and their effects on chronically ill patients. Barnes is launching the British Medical Cannabis Society this November, which will be free to all doctors, and he is hoping to gain accreditation by the Royal College of GPs.

Many Doctors and medical professionals have been unwilling to support cannabis medicines due to a letter released by the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA), representing Doctors who care for children with severe epilepsy, suggesting that cannabis could cause brain damage. Professor Barnes stated "They have said that THC is dangerous to the developing brain, which I have to say is a complete misinterpretation," he said. "They are wrong to say that. The evidence that medical cannabis can be useful to treat pain, spasticity, nausea, vomiting, chemotherapy and epilepsy is pretty robust.".

Barnes further explains "There is some evidence that high-THC, low-CBD street cannabis does cause longer term cognitive damage among heavy recreational, mainly male, users starting in adolescence, however there are other studies that have refuted that," he states. "CBD counteracts the effect of THC, so there is effectively no risk of these children getting cognitive damage from the tiny bit of THC we're suggesting. It's completely illogical to say, 'You can't have THC because it causes brain damage, but you can have this drug that causes brain damage, and you can continue to have seizures which also cause brain damage.'"

In order to qualify for medical cannabis, Patients must prove “exceptional clinical need”, which some Doctors are interpreting to mean that patients must try and fail every other anti epileptic drug available. There are 21 anticonvulsant drugs available, and each medication takes weeks to titrate, and also takes weeks to wean off of, as well as come with a wide range of side effects, including severe rebound seizures.

Nothing is Rotten in the State of Denmark 

Denmark- Terminally ill patients using medical cannabis stand to receive government subsidies to cover the full cost of their cannabis medications. Minister for Health Ellen Trane Nørby said “For patients who are dying and can benefit from medicinal cannabis towards the end of their time, we will now make sure they can receive the subsidy for the whole of 2018, applying the rule retroactively,” this new rule will go into effect earlier than anticipated following a bill passed this past March by the government and Danish People’s Party. The bill was set to establish the subsidy provision starting from January 2019, however in a recent press statement released by the Ministry of Health, it was stated the measure will actually begin to take effect September of 2018.

Germans Look ahead to Grow

Germany- Beginning in 2019, Germany intends to issue the Country’s first domestic licenses to cultivate medical cannabis, and the first crops are expected to be harvested in 2020. Germany stands to become one of the world’s largest medical marijuana markets, due to the number of insured patients beginning to skyrocket. The German government restarted the application process for medical cultivation this past summer (the deadline to apply is October 22nd), however the amount being requested is nowhere near enough to cover the demand. Canadian and Dutch medical cannabis companies have also been exporting a record amount of medical marijuana shipments into the Germany; however the country is still struggling to meet demand, which is causing costs to rise. As a result Germany has recently sought the help of the Netherlands to help significantly increase medical marijuana shipments into the country in order to help bridge the supply and demand gap.

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