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World News for December 2018 - by Meghan Smith

Cannabis shops unable to open doors due to lack of product

Canada- With cannabis recently becoming legal in Canada, the need for more licensed cultivators is growing. Many retail Cannabis shops are struggling to meet the high demand, some retailers have even had to close their doors due to their lack of stock after only a few short weeks of recreational cannabis being legalized. In only the first day of legal cannabis in Quebec alone, there was upwards of 12,500 in store transactions, as well as over 30,000 online transactions.

Allan Rewack, Executive Director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, which currently represents 85 percent of the licensed cultivation space in Canada, stated “Absolutely, we need more licensed producers, we need Health Canada to approve more production sites, we’re talking to them everyday.”

The commission that sells to private shops, Alberta Gaming Liquor, and Cannabis, recently listed 72 out of their 90 cannabis varieties out of stock in just 1 day, while the total number of varieties had even dropped by 100 from just the previous day. Licensing applications are currently being reviewed, and Health Canada officials have stated that they have hired approximately 300 new staff members to assist in this process. Progress is underway however, within the past 16 months 89 companies have been issued production licenses, 46 were granted sales space, and cultivation space has expanded from two million to thirteen million square footage.

Cannabis shortages could persist for years

Canada- Several Canadian provinces have reported varying degrees of supply shortages, including Nova Scotia, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. Some facilities such as Quebec Cannabis Corporation have been forced to reduce business hours to only 4 days a week, and New Brunswick was even forced to close over half of their shops. CEO of the Toronto-based cannabis company Biome Grow Inc, Khurram Malik said “The rules here are so difficult to grow cannabis — quite frankly more difficult than anywhere else in the world — that if you’re a new licence holder and you’ve never done this before, it’s going to take you a year, year-and-a-half, or two years to get any decent, consistent quality product out the door in any predictable volumes, The good thing with that is, yes, it makes things difficult domestically, but the rest of the world looks at us as outright experts in this. They say if you can grow in Canada, you can grow anywhere.”

In a recent statement, Spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau commented “As with any new industry where there is considerable consumer demand, we expect there may be periods where inventories of some products run low or, in some cases, run out. As the overall supply chain gains experience in the Canadian marketplace, it is expected that such localized and product-specific shortages will become far fewer in number. She stated “Health Canada remains confident that there is sufficient supply of cannabis overall to meet market demand now and into the future.” Health Canada has said that they are working to improve the licensing process, as well as increase the cultivation capacities for growers, and have already increased the allowed production capacity to 1.2 million square metres from 185,000 since May of 2017.

The fight for medical cannabis continues 

United Kingdom- The recent passing of medical cannabis laws in the U.K has received mixed reactions. While the implementation of Specialist Doctors being given authority to prescribe cannabis to patients with severe and debilitating conditions such as epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer patients is a giant step in the right direction, much more reform is still needed for the United Kingdom’s medical marijuana movement.

The recent release of the medical marijuana guidelines has proved disappointing, and restrictive. These guidelines, written by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Paediatric Neurology Association state that "Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.". In response to these guidelines, Political Director of the United Patients Alliance (UPA), Jon Liebing stated “When you read them, you get the feeling they haven't put much thought into this other than to protect themselves from having to take on the entire responsibility and accountability for introducing an entire new classification of medicines.". the good news however, is that these guidelines are being reviewed and changed by The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), and the new guidelines will be issued in or before October of 2019.

The UK's first CBD restaurant opens its doors

United Kingdom- Opening its doors December 1st, Canna Kitchen in Brighton will be the UK’s first Cannabis based restaurant, specialising in a Vegetarian and Vegan menu. Menu items such as, zaa’tar roast cauliflower, hemp heart tabbouleh, smoked aubergine and sesame cavolo nero, will be made with seasonal British ingredients, as well as infused with the healing properties of cannabinoids, otherwise known as CBD. This non-psychoactive cannabis compound has multiple health benefits, and is legal in the United Kingdom.

Head chef Charlotte Kjaer, the mastermind behind this cannabis culinary experience stated “I enjoy cooking with the seasons and in harmony with nature, a diet rich in seasonal plant based food is not only nutritious for the body, but also beneficial for the planet. I aim to create honest, balanced and vibrant food.”

Additionally, upstairs from the restaurant, the Canna Kitchen will be opening a CBD cafe, featuring infused cakes, and beverages, as well as a retail shop called The Hemp Earth Dispensary, featuring an array of organic cannabis items ranging from edibles and cosmetics, to CBD oils and hemp flowers.

Mexico making moves towards legal marijuana 

Mexico- Soon to be interior minister under President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Sen. Olga Sanchez Cordero recently submitted a 26 page bill regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis. The newly elected senator stated “The policy of prohibition arises from the false assumption that the problem of drugs should be tackled from a penal focus, The objective can’t be to eradicate the consumption of a substance that’s as prevalent as cannabis is.”

The proposed bill would permit adults, age 18 and older to use cannabis recreationally both in their homes, but also in any public place that allows tobacco use. Selling, giving or otherwise supplying cannabis to minors however, will remain illegal. Growing up to 20 plants in one’s home will also be permitted. This new bill follows the Supreme Court’s decision that cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional. The court stated “The effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,”

In the past 12 years since Mexico has declared war on the drug cartels, there has been approximately 235,000 deaths, of which cannabis prohibition has had a significant impact. Supporters of the bill say the legalization of cannabis will help reduce this bloodshed, by directly impacting the cartel’s hold over the black market sale of marijuana, and will also free up officers and prosecutors to pursue more serious crimes. The legalization of cannabis would also, in turn help to generate an increase in tourism, in regards to this, Enrique de la Madrid Mexico’s Tourism Secretary, says the legalization should begin in Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, due to a rise in cannabis related violent crimes.

Colombia Hopes to Become World's Legal MJ Supplier

COLOMBIA- Colombia is looking for corporate backers to help them become the Saudi Arabia of legal pot.

The new industry is budding on the outskirts of Medellin, where Pablo Escobar pushed marijuana in the seventies before becoming the “King of Cocaine.” Fifteen years after his death in cannabis plants are growing in the emerald hills outside of the city, this time with a little government backing.

“You are looking at history,” said Camilo Ospina, the lab-coat-wearing chief innovation officer for PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings. His company is one of many corporations seeking to leverage the “made in Colombia” label in a new age of legalization.

Colombia is still the mecca of illegal drugs. Last year, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency report showed Colombia as the source of 92 percent of cocaine seized in the United States. And after 18 years and $10 billion spent on Plan Colombia, the U.S.-funded effort to counter cartels and coca farmers, cocaine production here is at all-time highs.

Yet when it comes to marijuana, Colombia is taking a new tack: If you can’t beat ’em, regulate ’em.

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