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World News - January 2019 - by Meghan Smith

Amsterdam’s King of Cannabis sets his sights on Canada 

Amsterdam has long been home to some of the best known Cannabis cafes around the world. Most notably is the Green House, which has hosted a multitude of celebrity patrons including Eminem, Rihanna, and even Snoop Dogg. The owner, Arjan Roskam is a 43 time Cannabis Cup winner, and has made it his life’s mission to search the globe for the best Cannabis strains to create his champion seeds.

While the sale and use of Cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, there are no formal rules regarding where the cafes obtain their product, however the laws also currently restrict the growth of more than 5 plants. This back door problem has spawned a significant underground cultivation culture. Arjan, among a number of other Dutch Cannabis experts will be bringing their vast Cannabis knowledge and expertise to Canada in a collaboration with pot-giant Canopy Growth to cultivate champion seeds, in a more structured cannabis environment.

Contaminated Cannabis Recalled

The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LCGA) and the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBL) released a joint statement claiming that Bonify, a local, licensed medicinal cannabis producer that owns a 320,000 sq. ft. production facility in Winnipeg, is currently under investigation regarding 2 of their cannabis strains. The strains, Cherry Lime Pie and Warlock Kush were found to have “irregularities”, and an immediate recall has been issued. roughly 52 units of the recalled product were sold between Nov. 20-30, and involved three retailers.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister stated “Our officials here in Manitoba have acted, on the information and materials that came into our possession, quickly and with diligence to get products that are illegal off the shelves to stop the sale of them, [We] also moved to seize those products, which are in stock in retail locations or ready to be used for mail order, and to instruct customers as to their right to return product from this company. this is a black day for the distribution of legal cannabis. It casts appall on the other companies who didn’t do anything wrong who are working through the system.”

Bonify has been reluctant to comment on the situation, however they did release a statement on their Twitter account; “An investigation into these irregularities is ongoing and Bonify’s board will be able to provide further comment at the appropriate time after the investigation reaches its conclusion.”

New Zealanders to Vote on Recreational Cannabis 

An opinion poll conducted last year has suggested that two thirds of New Zealand residents support cannabis legalization, and shows that by the age of 21, nearly 80 percent of all residents have tried cannabis at least once. In response to this, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party promised a vote during cross party talks, which has helped to form a coalition government. Until recently the Prime Minister had been avoiding the topic of cannabis reform, however a vote in favour of the reform would make New Zealand the first Asia Pacific country to allow cannabis use recreationally. Chloe Swarbrick, spokesperson for the Green party stated "We've had countless opinion polls for decades now, confirming New Zealanders are positively well ahead of political action on the issue of cannabis law reform, this binding referendum presents an opportunity to have the will of the people trigger meaningful legislative change.”

Cannabis Reform on the Horizon

The first cannabis convention in Africa’s history was held in the Capital of Pretoria this December, and while the actual plant was barred from the expo for both consumers and vendors, the packed event showed that cannabis has big business potential, particularly for export. Southern Africa is an ideal climate for cannabis cultivation, especially in the “dagga belt”, an area including the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. So long as trends continue South Africa could one day become a cannabis cultivation giant.

Earlier this year, cannabis consumption and cultivation for adults in private was decriminalized by the Constitutional court, however no formal regulations have been placed into effect regarding the buying and selling of cannabis, nor the use of it outside of one’s own private dwelling. There are still many obstacles to overcome, but it has become obvious that advocates and supporters are making sure their voices are heard.

South Korea Becomes First Asian Country to Legalize CBD for Medical Use

South Korea, is said to have some of the most oppressive anti-cannabis laws in the world, with citizens even being prosecuted for using cannabis in other countries where recreational laws are in place. Those found guilty of the use or trade of cannabis can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. However, government officials recently made a surprising decision to legalize the use of CBD for patients with debilitating conditions such as epilepsy. The legislation will hold strict restrictions on the medical cannabis program, and will only allow for the use of hemp and CBD, while THC use will remain illegal. Patients will need to receive a recommendation from a physician, and then obtain the approval through a government agency called The Korea Orphan Drug Center, and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Government Scientists to Research Cannabis for Medical Use

The Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine’s (IIIM) is looking to further research the medical advantages of cannabis in the management of conditions such as epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, and cancer. Clinical trials are to be conducted at Tata Memorial Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and a Raipur-based hospital. Director at Tata Memorial Centre, Rajendra Badwe said that cannabis could potentially be called a “natural product” and not a “drug.”

The study will focus it’s research on the medical benefits of the combination of the 2 primary compounds of the Sativa plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive compound) and cannabidiol. Dr Ram Vishwakarma, director, IIIM stated “There is a lot of misconception about cannabis, owing mainly to its abuse because of its psychotropic component, tetrahydrocannabinol. But the two compounds are also very effective for pain relief,” further explaining that “effective pain relief” requires both components.

Currently (along with coca and opium poppy) cannabis cultivation, production, possession, usage, and transportation, is prohibited in India for purposes other than medical and scientific under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. In order to provide the product to conduct this research, IIIM has been give special permission from the state of Jammu and Kashmir to cultivate a limited amount of cannabis.

Artisanal Cannabis Honey Creates a Buzz

An Israeli based cannabis technology company is creating artisanal cannabis honey by feeding honey bees a spectrum of cannabinoids. Bees are insects, and do not possess mammalian endocannabinoid systems, the nutrients pass directly through their honey making process, and the bees are unaffected by the compounds. The bees convert the full spectrum of the plant into the honey, and as a result of this process has created a purely natural cannabis honey, not a cannabis-infused product. The process allows for a wide range of strains with various ratios of concentrations, in order to cater more directly to specific patient needs.

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