In major policy shift, Israel will allow sales of medical marijuana in pharmacies

Written By Emily Gray Brosious Posted: 07/28/2015, 02:29pm

The Israeli Health Ministry will allow medical marijuana to be sold in pharmacies alongside other prescription medications, according to Haaretz.

This policy change means Israeli medical marijuana patients will be able to fill their prescriptions at local pharmacies, rather than buying directly from growers and distribution centers.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Israel – which represents the country’s pharmacists— supports the move as a safer option than Israel’s current system where patients get their medical cannabis directly from growers.

Haaretz reports about 22,000 Israelis are currently eligible for medical marijuana. That number might increase sharply after this new medical marijuana policy goes into action.

Once medical marijuana is readily accessible for patients, more doctors will have the option of prescribing the drug, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli Ministry of Health, which issues medical marijuana permits to patients, is likely to experience a few growing pains handling the expected deluge of new patient permit applications.

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US considers buying industrial cannabis from Ukraine to improve its economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The US Department of Agriculture is looking to boost imports of hemp seeds from Ukraine, hoping this will help the country’s battered economy. However, they still do not know what it will be used for.

“We are now involved in trying to figure out ways in which we might be able to use the industrial hemp seeds that are created in Ukraine in the US,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.

Ukraine is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of industrial hemp seed, the term used to refer to cannabis strains cultivated for non-drug use. Unlike another, most known type of Cannabis grown for marijuana, industrial hemp lacks that same ingredient, THC, which causes physical or psychological effects and gives smoker a high.

Industrial hemp, being one of the earliest domesticated plants known, has many uses from healthy food to making paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction and even fuel.

Easy to cultivate, uses for industrial hemp are growing rapidly.

Ukraine is currently angling for aid from the International Monetary Fund, as much as $20 billion, while it has also been struggling with months of political crisis.

The Obama administration is planning to provide a $1 billion loan for the coup-imposed government of Ukraine, and is working with European allies on a broader package.

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U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Industrial Hemp

 

 

WhiteHouse

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-200 on June 20 to legalize the industrial farming of hemp fiber. Hemp is the same species as the marijuana plant, and its fiber has been used to create clothing, paper, and other industrial products for thousands of years; however, it has been listed as a “controlled substance” since the beginning of the drug war in the United States. Unlike marijuana varieties of the plant, hemp is not bred to create high quantities of the drug THC.

The amendment’s sponsor, Jared Polis (D-Colo.), noted in congressional debate that “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp — but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here. The federal government should clarify that states should have the ability to regulate academic and agriculture research of industrial hemp without fear of federal interference. Hemp is not marijuana, and at the very least, we should allow our universities — the greatest in the world — to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural commodity.”

The 225-200 vote included 62 Republican votes for the Polis amendment, many of whom were members of Justin Amash’s Republican Liberty Caucus or representatives from farm states. But most Republicans opposed the amendment, claiming it would make the drug war more difficult. “When you plant hemp alongside marijuana, you can’t tell the difference,” Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) said in congressional debate on the amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

“This is not about a drugs bill. This is about jobs,” Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) countered King in House floor debate June 20. Massie, a key House Republican ally of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, opposes marijuana legalization but had signed on as a cosponsor of the Polis amendment.

The amendment would take industrial hemp off the controlled substances list if it meets the following classification: “The term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The amendment would allow industrial farming of hemp “if a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law.” Most states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp, in whole or in part, but federal prohibitions have kept the plant from legal cultivation.

However, the annual agricultural authorization bill subsequently went down to defeat in the House by a vote of 195 to 234. Sponsors of the amendment hope that it will be revised in conference committee, where it has strong support from both Kentucky senators, Rand Paul and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The legislation, originally offered as the bill H.R. 525, was sponsored by Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represent states where voters recently considered ballot measures that legalized marijuana within their states, a fact King pointed out in House floor debate. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved the ballot measures in 2012, but voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized cultivation of marijuana.

Recent polls have indicated that most Americans want legalization of marijuana, as well as hemp. Though support for marijuana legalization is by only a slim majority of the public, there’s a larger divide among age groups, with younger voters more heavily favoring legalization.

None of the debate on the amendment related to the constitutional authority of Congress to ban substances. Nor did any congressman reference the first time Congress banned a drug — alcohol. At that time, Congress followed proper constitutional protocol to amend the U.S. Constitution first, giving it the legitimate power to ban alcohol (i.e., the 18th Amendment). No comparable constitutional amendment has been passed for hemp, marijuana, raw milk, or any other substance prohibited by the federal government.

Studying Marijuana and Its Loftier Purpose

Tikkun Olam, a medical marijuana farm in Israel, blends the high-tech and the spiritual.

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: January 1, 2013

 

SAFED, Israel — Among the rows of plants growing at a government-approved medical marijuana farm in the Galilee hills in northern Israel, one strain is said to have the strongest psychoactive effect of any cannabis in the world. Another, rich in anti-inflammatory properties, will not get you high at all.

Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but farms like this one, at a secret location near the city of Safed, are at the cutting edge of the debate on the legality, benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. Its staff members wear white lab coats, its growing facilities are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for controlling light and humidity, and its grounds are protected by security cameras and guards.

But in addition to the high-tech atmosphere, there is a spiritual one. The plantation, Israel’s largest and most established medical marijuana farm — and now a thriving commercial enterprise — is imbued with a higher sense of purpose, reflected by the aura of Safed, an age-old center of Jewish mysticism, as well as by its name, Tikkun Olam, a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world.

There is an on-site synagogue in a trailer, a sweet aroma of freshly harvested cannabis that infuses the atmosphere and, halfway up a wooded hillside overlooking the farm, a blue-domed tomb of a rabbinic sage and his wife.

In the United States, medical marijuana programs exist in 18 states but remain illegal under federal law. In Israel, the law defines marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug, and there is still no legislation regulating its use for medicinal purposes.

Yet Israel’s Ministry of Health issues special licenses that allow thousands of patients to receive medical marijuana, and some government officials are now promoting the country’s advances in the field as an example of its pioneering and innovation.

“I hope we will overcome the legal obstacles for Tikkun Olam and other companies,” Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, told journalists during a recent government-sponsored tour of the farm, part of Israel’s effort to brand itself as something beyond a conflict zone. In addition to helping the sick, he said, the effort “could be helpful for explaining what we are about in this country.”

Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades.

In the 1960s, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Later, Professor Mechoulam deciphered the cannabinoids native to the brain. Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied another main constituent of cannabis — cannabidiol, or CBD — considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent.

When Zach Klein, a former filmmaker, made a documentary on medical marijuana that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2009, about 400 Israelis were licensed to receive the substance. Today, the number has risen to about 11,000.

Mr. Klein became devoted to the subject and went to work for Tikkun Olam in research and development. “Cannabis was used as medicine for centuries,” he said. “Now science is telling us how it works.”

Israeli researchers say cannabis can be beneficial for a variety of illnesses and conditions, from helping cancer patients relieve pain and ease loss of appetite to improving the quality of life for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and neuropsychological conditions. The natural ingredients in the plant, they say, can help with digestive function, infections and recovery after a heart attack.

The marijuana harvest, from plants that can grow over six feet tall, is processed into bags of flowers and ready-rolled cigarettes. There are also cannabis-laced cakes, cookies, candy, gum, honey, ointments and oil drops. The strain known as Eran Almog, which has the highest concentration of THC, is recommended for severe pain. Avidekel, a strain rich in CBD and with hardly any psychoactive ingredient, allows patients to benefit from the drug while being able to drive and to function at work.

Working with Hebrew University researchers, the farm has also developed a version in capsule form, which would make exporting the drug more practical, should the law allow it.

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Studying Marijuana and Its Loftier Purpose

Tikkun Olam, a medical marijuana farm in Israel, blends the high-tech and the spiritual.

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: January 1, 2013

 

SAFED, Israel — Among the rows of plants growing at a government-approved medical marijuana farm in the Galilee hills in northern Israel, one strain is said to have the strongest psychoactive effect of any cannabis in the world. Another, rich in anti-inflammatory properties, will not get you high at all.

Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but farms like this one, at a secret location near the city of Safed, are at the cutting edge of the debate on the legality, benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. Its staff members wear white lab coats, its growing facilities are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for controlling light and humidity, and its grounds are protected by security cameras and guards.

But in addition to the high-tech atmosphere, there is a spiritual one. The plantation, Israel’s largest and most established medical marijuana farm — and now a thriving commercial enterprise — is imbued with a higher sense of purpose, reflected by the aura of Safed, an age-old center of Jewish mysticism, as well as by its name, Tikkun Olam, a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world.

There is an on-site synagogue in a trailer, a sweet aroma of freshly harvested cannabis that infuses the atmosphere and, halfway up a wooded hillside overlooking the farm, a blue-domed tomb of a rabbinic sage and his wife.

In the United States, medical marijuana programs exist in 18 states but remain illegal under federal law. In Israel, the law defines marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug, and there is still no legislation regulating its use for medicinal purposes.

Yet Israel’s Ministry of Health issues special licenses that allow thousands of patients to receive medical marijuana, and some government officials are now promoting the country’s advances in the field as an example of its pioneering and innovation.

“I hope we will overcome the legal obstacles for Tikkun Olam and other companies,” Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, told journalists during a recent government-sponsored tour of the farm, part of Israel’s effort to brand itself as something beyond a conflict zone. In addition to helping the sick, he said, the effort “could be helpful for explaining what we are about in this country.”

Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades.

In the 1960s, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Later, Professor Mechoulam deciphered the cannabinoids native to the brain. Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied another main constituent of cannabis — cannabidiol, or CBD — considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent.

When Zach Klein, a former filmmaker, made a documentary on medical marijuana that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2009, about 400 Israelis were licensed to receive the substance. Today, the number has risen to about 11,000.

Mr. Klein became devoted to the subject and went to work for Tikkun Olam in research and development. “Cannabis was used as medicine for centuries,” he said. “Now science is telling us how it works.”

Israeli researchers say cannabis can be beneficial for a variety of illnesses and conditions, from helping cancer patients relieve pain and ease loss of appetite to improving the quality of life for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and neuropsychological conditions. The natural ingredients in the plant, they say, can help with digestive function, infections and recovery after a heart attack.

The marijuana harvest, from plants that can grow over six feet tall, is processed into bags of flowers and ready-rolled cigarettes. There are also cannabis-laced cakes, cookies, candy, gum, honey, ointments and oil drops. The strain known as Eran Almog, which has the highest concentration of THC, is recommended for severe pain. Avidekel, a strain rich in CBD and with hardly any psychoactive ingredient, allows patients to benefit from the drug while being able to drive and to function at work.

Working with Hebrew University researchers, the farm has also developed a version in capsule form, which would make exporting the drug more practical, should the law allow it.

CONTINUE READING PAGE 2….

Marijuana Law Introduced to Uruguay Congress

By PABLO FERNANDEZ Associated Press

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay November 16, 2012 (AP)

Uruguay came one step closer to turning the government into the country’s leading pot dealer on Thursday, as lawmakers formally introduced to Congress a framework for regulating the production, sale and consumption of marijuana.

The proposal is much more liberal than what Uruguay’s government initially proposed months ago, when President Jose Mujica said only the government would be allowed to sell pot.

The draft law would instead create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license individuals and companies to produce and sell marijuana for recreational, medicinal or industrial uses. It would foster marijuana growing clubs to provide the weed to their members. And most significantly, it would allow anyone to grow a limited amount of marijuana in their own homes, and possess marijuana for their own consumption.

“The thrust is the same, to create state-controlled markets. This provides the legal framework,” Colette Youngers, a drug policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America who came to Montevideo to advise lawmakers and others drafting the proposal, told The Associated Press. “The main difference is that they have incorporated the idea of cultivation for personal use, and also the cannabis clubs, which was not in the initial proposal.”

Uruguay Marijuana.JPEG

AP

A marijuana grower shows plants he is growing… View Full Caption

Uruguay still hopes to drive big-time drug dealers out of the marijuana business and enable pot smokers to buy their weed legally without having to feed the illegal and violent industry that provides addicts with harder drugs such as cocaine and its derivatives.

It also still wants to track pot consumption through a confidential database — perhaps by giving people accounts and cards with magnetic stripes that would track purchases while concealing user’s identities, she said.

The proposed law would allow anyone to grow up to possess up to 40 grams (nearly 1.5 ounces) of pot for their own consumption, and grow six pot plants in their own homes, producing up to 480 grams (a little more than a pound) of marijuana at a time. People could join clubs of up to 15 pot smokers who together could grow up to 90 plants and stockpile 7,200 grams (254 ounces, or nearly 16 pounds) a year. The identity of pot buyers would remain protected by law.

Aspects of the proposal are similar to the law voters just approved in the U.S. state of Colorado, which also enables individuals to grow six plants at a time for personal use. In contrast, Washington state’s new law does not allow individuals to grow pot. But these states and Uruguay all represent a significant shift in public opinion about marijuana, said Youngers.

“The government is still investigating what is going to be the best way to implement this,” Youngers said. “This is an experiment. No country has done this before. So they need to have a law that lays out the framework, but have the flexibility to adjust this as they implement it.”

Ruling party Deputy Sebastian Sabini told the AP that opposition lawmakers were invited Thursday to present alternatives to the proposal. He expects it to be quickly forwarded by the Commission on Addiction to the full lower house of Congress, which will pass the law next month. Uruguay’s Senate would then take it up early next year, and if it passes, developing the necessary infrastructure and regulations would take much of 2013. Mujica’s ruling Broad Front coalition enjoys ample majorities in both houses, so passage isn’t in doubt.

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Marijuana Law Introduced to Uruguay Congress

By PABLO FERNANDEZ Associated Press

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay November 16, 2012 (AP)

Uruguay came one step closer to turning the government into the country’s leading pot dealer on Thursday, as lawmakers formally introduced to Congress a framework for regulating the production, sale and consumption of marijuana.

The proposal is much more liberal than what Uruguay’s government initially proposed months ago, when President Jose Mujica said only the government would be allowed to sell pot.

The draft law would instead create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license individuals and companies to produce and sell marijuana for recreational, medicinal or industrial uses. It would foster marijuana growing clubs to provide the weed to their members. And most significantly, it would allow anyone to grow a limited amount of marijuana in their own homes, and possess marijuana for their own consumption.

"The thrust is the same, to create state-controlled markets. This provides the legal framework," Colette Youngers, a drug policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America who came to Montevideo to advise lawmakers and others drafting the proposal, told The Associated Press. "The main difference is that they have incorporated the idea of cultivation for personal use, and also the cannabis clubs, which was not in the initial proposal."

Uruguay Marijuana.JPEG

AP

A marijuana grower shows plants he is growing… View Full Caption

Uruguay still hopes to drive big-time drug dealers out of the marijuana business and enable pot smokers to buy their weed legally without having to feed the illegal and violent industry that provides addicts with harder drugs such as cocaine and its derivatives.

It also still wants to track pot consumption through a confidential database — perhaps by giving people accounts and cards with magnetic stripes that would track purchases while concealing user’s identities, she said.

The proposed law would allow anyone to grow up to possess up to 40 grams (nearly 1.5 ounces) of pot for their own consumption, and grow six pot plants in their own homes, producing up to 480 grams (a little more than a pound) of marijuana at a time. People could join clubs of up to 15 pot smokers who together could grow up to 90 plants and stockpile 7,200 grams (254 ounces, or nearly 16 pounds) a year. The identity of pot buyers would remain protected by law.

Aspects of the proposal are similar to the law voters just approved in the U.S. state of Colorado, which also enables individuals to grow six plants at a time for personal use. In contrast, Washington state’s new law does not allow individuals to grow pot. But these states and Uruguay all represent a significant shift in public opinion about marijuana, said Youngers.

"The government is still investigating what is going to be the best way to implement this," Youngers said. "This is an experiment. No country has done this before. So they need to have a law that lays out the framework, but have the flexibility to adjust this as they implement it."

Ruling party Deputy Sebastian Sabini told the AP that opposition lawmakers were invited Thursday to present alternatives to the proposal. He expects it to be quickly forwarded by the Commission on Addiction to the full lower house of Congress, which will pass the law next month. Uruguay’s Senate would then take it up early next year, and if it passes, developing the necessary infrastructure and regulations would take much of 2013. Mujica’s ruling Broad Front coalition enjoys ample majorities in both houses, so passage isn’t in doubt.

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Q&A: First Health Canada helps prosecute marijuana growers, then asks them for advice

Postmedia News files

Marc-Boris St. Maurice during the 2004 federal election, when he was leader of the Marijuana Party.

Montreal’s Centre de Compassion, a medical marijuana facility, was raided last year and subsequently shut down, its director Marc-Boris St. Maurice charged with trafficking. Yet, much to his surprise, Health Canada asked him for advice on the subject of medical marijuana, along with other black market medical marijuana growers and dispensers and members of Health Canada’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulatory Reform, at a meeting in Ottawa Wednesday. They wanted to know how to grow, distribute and regulate the drug for medical purposes. The National Post’s Kristin Annable spoke to Mr. St. Maurice:

Q: Health Canada had an audience full of people who Ottawa has spent years trying to shut up and shut down. With this opportunity, what sort of questions did they ask?
A: Well I have the sheet right here, some examples are:
In an indoor installation would you use artificial or natural light?
Should you use hydroponic or natural soil?
What are the minimum requirements, in your opinion, for the person in charge of quality?

Q: And how did you answer those questions?
A: In my opinion the most important thing is the proficiency of the person, whether it is hydroponic or natural soil. Obviously, I prefer indoor because you can control the environment better. I think you would need someone with both microbiology experience and someone who has experience cultivating.

Q: Usually facilities like yours are at odds with the government. How does it feel to have Health Canada come to you looking for help?
A: That is the irony of the situation. Health Canada has come to court testifying against myself and other medical marijuana providers many times. Yet, now they are coming to us looking for information because they know it has value. Some people here have cases pending against them; are they going to testify against us after inviting us here?

Q: What were the people like who were there?
A: There were producers from all over the country. I think there was at least three from Toronto, some more from Montreal, Halifax, Guelph. The crowd was quite diverse, people in suits and ties, people in ponytails and leather hats, everyone from lawyers to old hippies.

Q: Over the years you must have developed quite the expertise on the subject.
A: Yes, we have always had to do it illegally. The positive is that they are acknowledging our level of expertise, which is a phenomenon.

Q: So how did they extend the invite to you?
A: Last summer, Health Canada announced that they were overhauling the whole medical marijuana access regulations and getting rid of personal production licenses. We went to a consultation at that time to discuss dispensing marijuana, where they announced that they would be giving out commercial production licenses to “compassion care” facilities to supply and legally produce it.

Q: So they decided that they want it produced commercially for medical use?
A: They said they would have a subsequent meeting to follow-up, which was this meeting. This was the first meeting that they have reached out to and recognized our expertise on the subject of production.

Q: And how did they conduct the meeting?
A: It was in a hotel conference room. We were broken up into three groups to discuss three themes: Quality, record keeping and security.

Q: Do you think the government understands what they are doing when it comes to growing marijuana?
A: No I don’t think they do. After 10 years of this, they are realizing that what we do is complex.

Q: What were the bigger concerns raised at this consultation?
A: Security. One thing they were asking was whether they should do criminal background checks for the producers. I’m of the opinion it would be wrong to exclude people who have a record of marijuana production, because they have the experience. It’d be like having a gay rights club and only letting straight people in.

National Post