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media :: news - Tue, 24 Jun 2014 04:20:21 PST
Jamaica: Justice Minister Announces Plan To Relax Marijuana Laws
Kingston, Jamaica: Government officials last week announced their intent to relax the country's marijuana possession penalties.
In a publicly released statement, Justice Minister Mark Golding said that Parliament would amend the nation's drug laws so that possessing cannabis would no longer be a criminal offense.
"[T]he criminalization of possession of a small quantity of ganja and of smoking ganja has caused significant hardships in Jamaica, particularly among young men," he said. "A conviction for possession or use of ganja results in a criminal record, which often precludes the offender from engaging certain employment, impacts his ability to get visas to travel overseas, and generally limits his life prospects. This is a serious human rights issue, supporting the cry for reform to our laws in this area."
The proposed changes in law will amend Jamaica's Dangerous Drugs Act by eliminating criminal penalties pertaining to the private possession of up to two ounces of cannabis by adults. Rather, such behavior will be reclassified under the law as a "non-arrestable, ticketable infraction ... which does not give rise to a criminal record."
Other proposed changes to the law intend to provide broader protections for those using cannabis for religious or medicinal purposes. "[R]eligious use of ganja ought not to be criminalized, given Jamaica's history and prevailing socio-cultural and economic environment," the Justice Minister said. He added, "It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to possess ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes."
The Justice Minister also said that politicians are backing separate legislation that seeks to expunge the criminal records of those with minor marijuana convictions. Additional legislative efforts are also "underway to develop a legal framework which will allow the emergence of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica," Golding said.
Various Jamaican national commissions have previously called on Parliament to enact similar reforms, but lawmakers in the past have largely ignored their recommendations.
Under present Jamaican law, the possession of 28 grams or less of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense, punishable by arrest, a fine, and potential imprisonment.
Study: Oral THC Safely Addresses Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms
Jerusalem, Israel: The administration of oral THC mitigates symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.
Investigators at the Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem assessed the safety and efficacy of oral THC as an adjunct treatment in ten subjects with chronic PTSD.
Researchers reported, "The intervention caused a statistically significant improvement in global symptom severity, sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms."
They concluded, "Orally absorbable delta-9-THC was safe and well tolerated by patients with chronic PTSD."
Separate clinical trial data has previously reported that the administration of nabilone, a synthetic endocannabinoid agonist, can reduce the severity and frequency of nightmares in patients with PTSD.
In 2013, researchers at the New York University School of Medicine published findings indicating that PTSD subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter. They hypothesized that an increase in the body's production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects' natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, "[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that ... plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD."
Full text of the study, "Preliminary, open-label, pilot study of add-on oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in chronic post-traumatic stress disorder," will appear in Clinical Drug Investigation.
Connecticut: Governor Signs Hemp Feasibility Measure Into Law
Hartford, CT: Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy this week signed legislation, House Bill 5476, to study the feasibility of establishing a regulated commercial hemp industry.
The measure calls on the three state agencies, The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Consumer Protection, and the Department of Economic and Community Development to evaluate the feasibility of legalizing the possession, production, and sale of industrial hemp "for the purpose of encouraging economic development and increasing the number of new businesses in this state."
Regulators must make recommendations to the General Assembly in regard to "establishing a licensing system for industrial hemp growers and sellers" by no later than January 1, 2015.
According to a 2013 white paper published by the United States Congressional Research Service, industrial hemp is "genetically different" from cultivated cannabis because it contains virtually no THC. The agency stated, "[A] commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers."
In February, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Since then, lawmakers in six states - Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah - have enacted legislation allowing for state-sponsored hemp cultivation.
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