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World News - September 2019

Canada Unable To Keep Up With Influx Of Requests To Study Cannabis

Following the legalization of cannabis in late 2019, government officials have been struggling to keep up with the surge of licensing applications for cannabis research. As of late July, there were as many as 250 applications. Applicants are getting frustrated at the months long delays, which have also prompted criticism of Health Canada, the Ottawa-based agency charged with issuing the permits. Jonathan Page, chief science officer for Aurora Cannabis in Edmonton, one of Canada’s licensed cannabis producers said “Everybody is growing, consuming, and buying it, but the labs are still: ‘How do we get these projects going? The [licensing] system is swamped, and research is not exactly, I think, a priority.”

Health Canada says that they are committed to research, and are doing all they can to speed up the process. In regards to these delays in the licensing system, Igor Kovalchuk, a plant geneticist at the University of Lethbridge said “It’s incredibly slow—much slower than it used to be, October 17, 2018, is when things slowed down tremendously.” That date marked the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the second nation in the world to do so. Previous to this, some scientists were allowed to study cannabis under very strict guidelines, however now the possibilities have begun to expand and in turn so has the scientific research communities desire to explore it.
As they cope with the mass amounts of applications flooding in, Health Canada has had to migrate into their new online application platform, and have also expanded their employees to well over 140 people. A health canada spokesperson stated that they are working “as quickly as possible” to get through all of the applications. 

Morocco Seizes Over 460 kg of Cannabis

According to a police report, Moroccan security officials have seized over 460 kg of cannabis from the Tangier-Med Port as well as arrested 2 people. Cannabis is banned in Morocco, and the product was found concealed within a vehicle heading for Spain. The driver, a 38 year old Moroccan man, and his female passenger were arrested and placed into investigative custody. Despite attempts to crack down on the cannabis farmers for over a decade, Morocco is still the number one producer of cannabis resin worldwide. According to the United Nations Office on Drug Crime’s World Drug report Morocco placed first among the 129 countries in terms of cannabis production between the period of 2009 through 2014, followed by Afghanistan, Lebanon, India, and Pakistan. 

Cannabis Sales in Canada Hit Record High

Worldwide Cannabis sales has more than tripled between 2014 and 2018 to an astounding $10.9 billion. The research team from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics is predicting that sales will continue to climb, and potentially reach over $40 billion by 2024. As it currently stands, Canada boosts the top selling market in the world, boosting a whopping CA$91.13 million ($68.35 million USD) in June of 2019 alone. That is because in 2018 Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes (second overall behind Uruguay), making Canada the World’s legal cannabis guinea pig of sorts. With an estimated 6% steady increase in revenue each month since legalization, Canada could potentially rake in upwards of CA$900 million (about $675 million USD) in the first full year of legalization. 

Thailand Welcomes Their First Legal Cannabis Lab

Penalties for cannabis use across Asia, and Southeast Asia has been famously severe for quite some time. Thailand, one of America’s key allies in the global war on drugs has been no exception, until recently that is. Thailand’s right wing government recently passed medical cannabis regulations and even identified the creation of a homegrown industry as a “top priority”. Some of the well known conservatives are even speaking excitedly about churning out “world class cannabis”. While there is no cannabis market in place as of yet, authorities have (very quietly albeit) allowed scientists to put together the country’s first cannabis lab, one of the very few legal cannabis research facilities of its kind in all of Asia. 

The importation of cannabis is still illegal however, so scientists have had to accept confiscated cannabis from law enforcement officials. Earlier this year, the scientists were provided with over 40 kilo sized bricks of cannabis, most of it was contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, and other miscellaneous contaminants. They were able to salvage and utilize some of the cannabis for cannabis oils containing high levels of THC. 

Luxembourg Becomes First EU Nation to Legalize Cannabis

Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s health Minister recently announced “This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work. Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”Draft legislation is expected to be released later this year, providing further details, such as products that will be allowed, and the level of tax that will be imposed as well. The state will regulate the production and distribution through a cannabis agencyCannabis will be available to residents 18 years of age or over, and retail shops are expected to be open for business within the next 2 years. Schneider stated that the regulations will likely include a ban on non residents buying cannabis, in an attempt to shirk any drug tourism, and home growing will likely be banned as well. Minors between the ages of 12 and 17 will not face criminal charges for possession of up to 5 grams, however the punishments beyond that will be quite severe. 

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