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World News for November 2018 - by Megan Smith

No Mary Jane for Mounties?

Canada- The RCMP recently announced that mounties will be banned from smoking marijuana within 28 days of any shift. Officials stated that there were concerns regarding how long cannabis effects would last, as well as concerns regarding the possibility of a Mountie testing positive for marijuana after being involved in an accident or shooting. This policy comes in direct opposition to the policy recently released by the Canadian Armed Forces, which only restricted cannabis use within 8 hours of any active shift, or 24 hours for any personnel performing duties requiring the use of any heavy machinery or firearms.

Many police departments, such as Ottawa, Vancouver, and Saskatoon, have adopted similar policies, stating that as long as officers are ‘fit for duty’ when reporting to their shifts, officers will be permitted to use cannabis while off duty. However in contrast, Calgary Police Department has stated that they will uphold a ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding Cannabis for officers, and Toronto Police have been said to be considering adopting the 28 day ban as well, however nothing definitive has been released as of yet.


Specialists Finally Given Cannabis Prescribing Rights

United Kingdom- Specialist Doctors in the UK have finally been given the option to prescribe cannabis based medications to patients that they feel will benefit from its medicinal properties, this new law will not limit what conditions that will be considered. While general practitioners will not be permitted to prescribe cannabis, specialized  Doctors in fields such as Neurology or Pediatrics, that are listed on the General Medical Council specialist register will be permitted to do so, without the need of an expert panel to review each individual case.

The new law will go into effect as of November 1st of this year. Home Secretary Sajid Javid was quoted as saying “Having been moved by heartbreaking cases involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis. We have now delivered on our promise and specialist doctors will have the option to prescribe these products where there is a real need. I’m grateful to the expert panel – who have been considering cases in the interim – and to those who’ve worked hard to bring about this change at the earliest possible opportunity.”


Military to Surrender Marijuana Monopoly

Italy- Italian citizens have had medicinal cannabis laws in place since 2013. However, most patients were not able to obtain their medication until a formal system was set into motion in 2017, at which time there were approximately 300 patient applicants. That number jumped to approximately 10,000 patient applicants in 2018, and as a result the Italian government has been struggling to keep up with the patient demand.

Previously the Military Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant (SCFM) were the soul providers of medicinal cannabis for the entire country. To address this supply and demand gap, the Italian government has recently issued seven medical cannabis import licenses, most of which are being controlled by Canadian joint ventures. For example, a Toronto based company, Nuuvera which has acquired Genoa based FL-Group, which happens to hold one of these licenses, as well as Pedanios, a German subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis, which has won an exclusive contract to supply 100 kg of medical cannabis to the Italian Government.


Capital Punishment on Cannabis; Under Review

Malaysia- Muhammad Lukeman Mohamad was given the death sentence for selling medicinal cannabis oil to cancer patients in August, which resulted in a public outrage, of which even the new Prime minister Mahathir Mohamad took a stand against. The Malaysian government responded by repealing the sentence against Muhammad, as well as announced that they will be eliminating the death penalty all together.

Government officials stated that preparations are under way to rescind the Sedition Act as well, which was previously used to silence critics or opposing politicians. The rescinding of both of these laws, have resulted in the repeal of death sentences for over 1,200 people, many of which were sentenced to death due to drug crimes. In a region where capital punishment for drug related crimes is quite prevalent, Malaysia would be only the 3rd country in Southeast Asia, to eliminate capital punishment, joining Cambodia, and the Philippines.


Standing Strong Against Marijuana

Singapore- The Singapore Government has stated that they intend to remain firm in their position against decriminalizing and/or legalizing medical cannabis, staying that any review of their position on Cannabis must be “based on scientific evidence”. While referencing a recent publication from the Institute of Mental Health, claiming that cannabis is addictive and harmful to the developing brain, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs stated;

 “On the other hand, evidence of cannabis’ long-term safety and efficacy is scarce. These findings corroborate our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug. Even if cannabinoid pharmaceuticals have to be used for medical purposes, there are carefully established frameworks in Singapore for their clinical prescription.”

These comments come in response to the recent public outrage that ultimately led to the repeal of the death penalty sentence for Muhammad Lukeman Mohamad, for selling Cannabis oil to cancer patients, in neighboring Malaysia.


Landslide Win for Medical Marijuana

Lithuania- Lithuania is set to join multiple other European countries including Austria, Britain, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece and Italy by passing medicinal cannabis in a landslide vote of 90-0. The bill is now set to be signed into law by the president, Dalia Grybauskaite. Lawmaker Mykolas Majauskas, who tabled the bill stated “It is a historic decision to ensure that patients can receive the best possible treatment, of course, it does not mean cannabis will be available to get at a drugstore to smoke before going to a nightclub,”. While recreational Cannabis use will still be illegal, the law is set to take effect in May of 2019.


Crack Open an Ice Cold CBD Coca Cola

Canada- The recreational marijuana law that has gone into effect as of October 17th has significantly spiked the Canadian Cannabis business market, inspiring many high profile companies to express interest in joint ventures. A multitude of business opportunities have recently opened following the new law. Such as, Canadian based company Coors whom recently announced that they will be partnering with Canadian Cannabis producer Hydropothecary in developing a non alcoholic beverage containing Cannabis. Similarly, Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona also recently announced that they intend to invest $3.8 billion in Canadian Cannabis producer Canopy Growth.

A few American based companies have even announced their interest in joining this booming Cannabis market as well. American based beverage company Coca Cola, has stated that they are considering releasing a version of their soda containing CBD, the non psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, as to target consumers that are looking to ease inflammation and related pain. Tobacco company Alteria Group, the maker of Marlboro is also reported to  be in talks regarding a possible investment venture with Cannabis producer Aphria, though no formal agreements have yet to be announced.

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