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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 13 Aug 2019 04:20:21 PST

Canada Initiates Pardon Process for Those with Cannabis Convictions

Ottawa, Canada: The Canadian government has established a new online system for those seeking to obtain pardons for low-level marijuana convictions.

Under the newly initiated process, applicants can seek an expedited record suspension for possession convictions involving up to 30 grams of cannabis. Under the historical system, applicants would have needed to wait several years prior to applying for a pardon. The new policy imposes no fees for those seeking pardons for marijuana convictions.

"Providing free, immediate access to pardons will allow those with criminal records for simple possession of cannabis to move forward with their lives, making it easier to get a job, an education, rent an apartment or volunteer in their community," Justice Minister David Lametti said in a prepared statement.

The website for the Canadian government explains that a pardon "sets aside" a past criminal conviction. It adds, "Suspended criminal records can only be disclosed in exceptional circumstances, and would not normally be disclosed in a background check, such as for employment, housing, a passport or a loan."

The government enacted legislation legalizing and regulating cannabis use and sales last October.

Court: DEA Must Explain Failure to Approve Marijuana Cultivation Applications

Washington, DC: A federal court has ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to respond to a lawsuit charging the agency with failing to move forward with a 2016 policy to expand the total number of federally licensed marijuana cultivators.

In August 2016, DEA officials adopted a policy "to increase the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to grow marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States." To date, however, the agency has neither affirmed nor denied any of the 26 applicants that have sought the DEA's permission for a federal cultivation license.

In June of this year, one of those applicants – the Scottsdale Research Institute – filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking a writ of mandamus to order the DEA to comply with its 2016 policy, arguing that the agency has engaged in unreasonable delays. On July 29, the Appellate Court ordered the DEA to provide a written response to the filing within 30 days.

"While most states recognize that cannabis has medical value, the DEA says otherwise, pointing to the absence of clinical research. But at the same time, government regulations and bureaucracy prevent researchers like SRI from ever doing the clinical research the DEA has overtly demanded," SRI Principal Investigator Dr. Sue Sisley said. "[This filing is] asking the court for an order compelling the DEA to process our application. We hope that this ... encourages the DEA not only to process our application, but to process the applications of others, so that we can all continue to do important research into the safety and efficacy of cannabis for treatment resistant illnesses."

Since 1968, the agency has only licensed the University of Mississippi to engage in the growing of cannabis for FDA-approved clinical research. Scientists familiar with the product have consistently said that it is of inferior quality and fails to accurately reflect the types of marijuana varieties commercially available in legal states.

Louisiana: Select Pharmacies to Begin Dispensing Medical Cannabis Products

Baton Rouge, LA: Designated facilities this week began accepting the delivery of medical cannabis products in accordance with the state's four-year-old marijuana access law.

Lawmakers initially approved the establishment of the state's medical cannabis access program in 2015, but its rollout has experienced numerous delays. Under the law, licensed cannabis products may only be grown and manufactured by operations affiliated with two of the state's universities, LSU and Southern University. Nine dispensaries throughout the state are designated to provide cannabis products.

The first products available to patients are cannabis-infused tinctures. Although the law initially limited cannabis preparations to non-herbal formulations only, legislation enacted this year also now permits patients to obtain marijuana "in a form to be administered by metered-dose inhaler."

Patients may be eligible for medical cannabis products if they are diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress, or other qualifying ailments. To date, 84 state-licensed physicians have received authorization to issue medical cannabis recommendations.

Delaware: Governor Signs Law Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties for Juveniles

Dover, DE: Democratic Gov. John Carney has signed legislation amending criminal penalties for juveniles who violate the state's marijuana possession laws.

Senate Bill 45 eliminates criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession offenses (up to one ounce) for those under the age of 21. Instead, juvenile offenders will face a fine-only civil penalty. Those with past criminal convictions for juvenile offenses will be eligible for the mandatory expungement of their records.

The new law took effect immediately upon signing.

Lawmakers in 2015 enacted separate legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession penalties for those over 21 years of age. However, that law left in place criminal sanctions for juvenile offenders.

New Hampshire: Governor Vetoes Patient Home Grow Measure

Concord, NH: Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday vetoed legislation, House Bill 364, that would have permitted state-registered patients to home-cultivate limited amounts of medical cannabis.

The legislation allowed qualified patients to grow up to three mature cannabis plants at any one time. It had passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote and had been approved by members of the Senate by a vote to 14 to 10.

In his veto message, Gov. Sununu opined that allowing patients to grow their own medical cannabis would "make the job of law enforcement significantly more difficult," and also suggested that it might reduce the number of patients soliciting the state's dispensaries.

The Governor had previously signed legislation into law permitting physician assistants to make medical cannabis recommendations to qualified patients. Last month, he signed separate legislation establishing procedures to allow for those with prior, low-level marijuana convictions to petition the court to have their convictions annulled.

In December, the Governor stated that he opposed legislation seeking to regulate the adult use of marijuana and that he would veto any measure that sought to legalize the plant, "regardless of what the language looks like."

Studies Assess Whether Cannabis Use Is Causally Linked to Schizophrenia

Richmond, VA: Several recently published studies provide further insight regarding whether cannabis exposure is an independent contributor to schizophrenia in non-predisposed subjects.

The first paper, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, assessed the association between substance abuse, psychosis, and the progression to schizophrenia in a Swedish national sample. Authors reported that individuals with a substance-induced psychotic disorder typically possessed elevated familial risks for both drug misuse and psychosis. Cumulative risk for schizophrenia following substance-induced psychosis was 11 percent, with the strongest association identified among those who had experienced cannabis-induced psychosis. Nonetheless, researchers concluded, "Schizophrenia following substance-induced psychosis is likely a drug-precipitated disorder in highly vulnerable individuals, not a syndrome predominantly caused by drug exposure."

The second paper, published in the journal Addiction, assessed the association between schizophrenia and substance abuse in a cohort of over 3.1 million Danish adults. They reported, "A diagnosis of schizophrenia was positively associated with the risk of developing substance abuse. ... [S]chizophrenia [was] primarily associated with an increased risk of abuse of cannabis, alcohol, stimulants, and other substances. The association was still significant 10-15 years subsequent a diagnosis of schizophrenia."

They concluded, "[A] diagnosis of schizophrenia is significantly associated with increased risk of subsequent diagnosis of substance abuse" – a finding that is consistent with prior studies.

Finally, a newly published review paper in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports states: "The evidence for cannabis acting as a causal factor in schizophrenia has so far not been established. ... Overall, we still have insufficient information and knowledge about who is at risk of developing cannabis psychosis prior to cannabis exposure to reliably produce a public health prevention strategy."

Full text of the study, "Prediction of onset of substance-induced psychiatric disorder and its progression to schizophrenia in a Swedish national sample," appears in The American Journal of Psychiatry. Full text of the study, "Schizophrenia is associated with increased risk of subsequent substance abuse diagnosis: A nationwide population-based register study," appears in Addiction. Full text of the study, "Cannabis and psychosis: Are we any closer to understanding the relationship," appears in Current Psychiatry Reports. Additional information is also available in the NORML white paper, "Cannabis, Mental Health, and Context: The Case for Regulation."

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