It will soon be legal to smoke cannabis in the ACT: But what does this actually mean?

Is it a coincidence that Canberra and cannabis both begin with can? Because the Australian capital sure is proving their can-do attitude when it comes to cannabis legalisation. As of January 31, people in the Australian Capital Territory will soon be able to light up their cannabis legally (as long as it’s no more than 50g worth) and grow 2 cannabis plants in their homes. 

The ACT Legislative Assembly passed the laws on Wednesday afternoon, that won’t come into effect until the 31st of January, 2020. The bill is supported by the Labor and Greens parties and is a private member’s bill created by ACT Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson. During the creation of the bill Pettersson received 80 submissions, 75 of them supported making cannabis a legal substance. 

The ACT will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis. This is huge for the cannabis industry within Australia, and depending on the success of the bill other could see to other Australian states following in the ACTs footsteps. 

What the ACT’s new cannabis law states 

The bill has been lingering for around a year and is a small document that amends the definition of an offence relating to the use of cannabis in the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, and also removes the drug from the list of prohibited substances. 

It still bans people from smoking cannabis in public and states it should be smoked 20 metres away from children. It also still remains an offence to make artificially cultivated or synthetic cannabis. 

It will remain illegal to buy and sell cannabis, and even gifting or sharing cannabis will still be considered an offence. It will also be illegal to buy, sell or provide seeds to anyone in order to grow plants. This in itself creates a dilemma, as people will have to essentially break the law to begin the legal process of growing cannabis. 

What it means for the cannabis industry in Australia 

The current laws in Australia regarding cannabis state that it is illegal to possess any quantity of cannabis in the ACT. There is a distinction made in the legislation that differentiates a simple cannabis offence (50 grams or two plants) and a more serious offence. 

If a person is caught with up to 50 grams or two plants of cannabis, they will likely be given a warning and diverted into the health system where the person will have to go through various counselling sessions. 

If they are caught a second time they will be fined $100 which is known as the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice. If the fine is not paid then court might be on the cards. These occurrences are recorded in the police system, however, a criminal record will not be created. 

Cannabis will remain illegal under Australian Federal Law 

Under Commonwealth law cannabis remains illegal. This means that while Canberra’s territory laws allow the possession and cultivation of cannabis, you could still be charged for that very thing under federal law. 

ACT chief police officer Ray Johnson stated “This [will] create a tension for ACT Policing members between their obligation to implement ACT government policy intent and to have regard for the Commonwealth criminal law” and the Commonwealth laws are a lot tougher, with a maximum sentence of two years. 

This creates a massive contradiction and confusion regarding the rollout of this new law. The decision is ultimately up to individual police officers to decide what law to charge under meaning that citizens of the ACT will not necessarily be protected when the bill passes into law.. 

For an example of how this might play out we can look further afield. The same problem has also been occuring in America since individual states began legalising cannabis. Under American federal law, cannabis is listed as a schedule 1 drug which essentially means it is perceived as having no medical value and has a high potential for abuse. This classification classes cannabis together with the likes of cocaine and meth. 

There have been many calls to reschedule cannabis, but this comes with various challenges and requirements, so there is still quite a long journey until this can happen which will likely be the same case for Australia. 

Despite federal prohibition, under the Obama administration there was a far more relaxed approach to cannabis which generally allowed states to do what they wanted as long as they met a certain criteria. The Trump administration however, is far stricter, removing guidance that advised federal prosecutors against penalising cannabis use even in states where cannabis is legal. 

Although the balances of state and federal power is a bit different, this demonstrates that the handling of cannabis between state and federal law depends on the particular person in power and so it is hard to say how this will work in Australia. 

The bottom line 

While this is such a great step forward for the future of cannabis use in Australia, there are many challenges that will come out of this legalisation. One being that the law could be rejected by the Australian Federal Government which has been the case in the past. Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and Minister for Industrial Relations and Speaker of the House, Christian Porter, have both already hinted that the commonwealth may overrule the new law.

In 2013, the capital legalised same-sex marriage only to have the federal government revoke the law. In 1995 the Northern Territory legalised voluntary euthanasia which resulted in the federal government legislating to stop the nation’s territories from introducing assisted dying.  

Hopefully this time the law will be left alone from the federal government, but only time will tell. 

Parsl is excited about this news and hopes Australia will learn from the issues found in the American and Canadian system to rollout a more flawless approach to cannabis legalisation with the integration of innovative technology for the cannabis industry.

The SAFE Banking Act – What it Means For Cannabis and Parsl

Tomorrow could be a historical day for the cannabis industry. The U.S. House of Representatives is set to cast a vote on the SAFE Banking Act which would allow financial institutions to service cannabis related businesses. 

The current state of banking for cannabusinesses is quite the challenge. While it’s not completely impossible for them to secure a relationship with a bank, it is incredibly risky as cannabis is still illegal at a federal level. This means that state law contradicts with federal law leaving banks in a difficult position. 

What the SAFE Banking Act means for the cannabis industry 

It’s not very hard to imagine the challenges that arise from a lack of banking, this is something we explored previously here

No banking access forces cannabis businesses to be cash based leading to an increase in robberies, an increase in costs and an increase in staff costs to deal with the cash. 

No banking access forces businesses to calculate taxes manually and deliver them in cash by the use of armoured trucks. 

Essentially, no easy access to banking is a massive inconvenience for cannabis businesses and it is a situation in dire need of change. 

This is why the SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act will be a huge step forward for the industry. If this bill is passed, it would essentially create protections from federal law for banks who want to service businesses in the cannabis industry if they are complying with state regulations. Essentially it ensures, federal law can not override state law when it comes to the regulation of financial services for legitimate cannabis related businesses.

Not only will the act reduce the industry’s reliance on cash and improve the overall safety for cannabusinesses. It will also increase transparency and help law enforcement better distinguish legal cannabis from illegal cannabis which is one of Parsl’s key goals for the industry. 

While this would change the accessibility of banking, it doesn’t mean that banks won’t have to do enhanced due diligence. This will still be a requirement to ensure all cannabusinesses banked are legitimate and legal. 

What it means for Parsl 

Parsl’s number one goal is to see the healthy development of the legal cannabis industry. We are always looking for ways to help with this process and when there are political advances regarding cannabis we can’t help but get excited. 

While our stablecoin, Pods currently solves the issue to banking accessibility it also offers other benefits so our value isn’t affected if this bill is passed, if anything it solidifies it.

Regardless of the impact changes in cannabis laws have on Parsl, we ultimately want the industry to be better and continue to advance. So if we have to sometimes take the fall to achieve this we are fully supportive of this fact. Additionally, our cannabis supply-chain system is designed to mould with the latest regulations and laws to ensure Parsl users can be compliant in the simplest way. 

So how likely is it that the bill will be passed?

There are a lot of factors that give the bill a good chance to make it out of the House, one being the fact that the Republican support for a cannabis related measure is the most significant we have ever seen

There are however, quite a few roadblocks which could prevent the bill from passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still hasn’t given any hint that he will support cannabis related legislation. The SAFE Banking Act is dominated by democratic ideas. As there are 180 Democrats signed on as sponsors with only 26 Republicans there isn’t a whole lot of Republican support to convince McConnell to follow the democratic path. 

But only time will tell the verdict, hopefully tomorrow will be a massive high (pun intended) for the cannabis industry! We’re so excited for the advances that are being made within the industry, even the attention being paid to this subject is a win! So regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote, we strongly believe we are on a progressive path!

Cannabis and professional sport – what Willie Rioli’s positive test could make us reconsider.

News today broke that AFL player Willie Rioli has tested positive to cannabis. This is the second allegation Rioli is dealing with after it was announced over a week ago that he tampered with an ASADA drug test.

According to the announcement, the sample in which cannabis was detected happened on September 5th, the day he was playing in an Elimination Final and before he was notified about the investigation of his alleged substitution. Cannabis is an in-competition prohibited substance under the Australian Football Anti-Doping Code.

Without any further information, it is impossible to tell why Rioli may have had cannabis in his system or even if his earlier substitution was connected to the fact that he thought he might test positive for cannabis.

However, even without the urine substitution, the newest announcement means that Rioli will likely be suspended at least partially for having consumed cannabis. According to WADA prohibited list cannabis meets all three criteria to be placed on the banned list. 

Why are cannabinoids banned in sport?

For a substance to be on WADA’s banned list it needs to meet two of the three below criteria:

  1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance.
  2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete.
  3. It violates the spirit of sport.

According to WADA cannabis meets all three of these conditions. The full reading on their explanation read here, but it can be broken down as below:

The justification for claiming it is performance enhancing is that “[c]annabis can cause muscle relaxation and reduce pain during post-workout recovery” and “[i]t can also decrease anxiety and tension”. For a natural substance that is proven to have many positive effects, the fact that the above would be considered a negative is astounding. Especially when it is paired in the very next section with “studies show that marijuana use may cause a variety of health risks”. 

The final point that it violates the spirit of the sport is based entirely on the fact that it is still illegal in most countries, which based on the current growth in legalisation is only going to be true for a limited amount of time.

While some will argue that Rioli knew the rules and of course cannabis use is still illegal in Australia (except under strict exceptions), with everything we are learning about the science of cannabis, events like this are a good time to question, “Is it time for change?”

This is an issue that America has been dealing with in professional sport for some time with little ground being made. At the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas, Parsl’s CEO, Isaac Balbin met Ricky Williams, a former NFL player who retired from the sport in 2004 after testing positive to cannabis that he was using to cope with mental health and football related injuries.

ricky williams Isaac Balbin
Dr Isaac Balbin met Ricky Williams at this years Cannabis Dealmakers Summit

Despite the awareness this brought to the subject, many other players have been suspended and fined from playing in the NFL and a softening of the hardline stance is only just filtering through to the top level.

It’s time to revisit how we deal with testing for cannabis

The news today is about more than just what will happen to the rest of Willie Rioli’s career.

It should make us rethink what we’re trying to achieve when we test people for cannabis. Cannabis is banned as a match day substance in the AFL but cannabis can be detected in the urine of even occasional users 3 days after consumption (and up to a month for heavy users).

Positive tests can be returned even if someone has used CBD oil to treat an injury.

And beyond sports, everyday people can test positive for cannabis and lose their drivers license long after the effects have worn off.

The simple answer is clear – consuming cannabis is against the law. But the more important question to ask, what are we achieving by keeping it that way?

Parsl attends the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas, Texas!

Parsl recently attended the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas, Texas, and it was a great success! Being surrounded by so many passionate and inspiring individuals has left the team at Parsl incredibly excited to be a part of an industry with so much talent and potential.

We did not waste a second of our time at the conference, not only did we showcase our brand to a variety of potential investors, we also met some amazing talent in the cannabis sphere. This has sparked many valuable connections and has led to some great opportunities for Parsl. See below for some of the connections made!

Our CEO, Dr. Isaac Balbin was the first company to present with a presentation that explored the current problems faced by the industry and how Parsl’s technology can solve them. Dr Balbin only had a short time to present but he still managed to spark a lot of interest. 

At Parsl, we love a good conversation and we had many great ones throughout the day. We had the opportunity to meet potential investors and engage with potential customers which has placed us directly in the minds of our target market at the most crucial stage; right before our product launch. 

Not only were we able to provide an in depth explanation of Parsl, we also received a more thorough understanding of the wants and needs of the market. We left feeling satisfied that our product will solve many of the issues currently faced by the industry and are excited to see how the cannabis industry may change once our product is launched.

Since the conference was located in Dallas, Texas, we obtained a direct understanding of the Texas cannabis industry from speaking with local industry figures. This allowed us to grasp an understanding of the key challenges faced on a smaller scale and hear directly from those affected. No matter how small of a problem, Parsl is dedicated to incorporating the solutions into our cannabis supply-chain platform so this was very valuable information for us! 

Parsl had such a great time at the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas, Texas. We left with new knowledge, great connections, many opportunities and an eagerness to implement change into the cannabis industry in Texas, America and hopefully the world! We’re excited for what’s to come and look forward to sharing more!

How innovation can help shape the climate of the future

The global climate strike took place last Friday, hundreds of thousands of school strikers were  joined by workers to protest the lack of climate action across the globe. 

Parsl fully supports this movement, we believe that the climate emergency needs to be addressed by those in power before detrimental and irreversible damage is placed on our planet. 

But we also believe that to combat climate-change effectively, we need innovation as much as we need awareness and nowhere is that more true than in the cannabis industry. This is something we have written about before in our blog about cannabis and recycling.

With the global climate protests currently taking place, we thought it would be a good time to revisit our focus on recycling and examine why it is such an important process not only for our business, but all businesses producing products that could potentially result in single use waste. 

The water village

The problem we currently face

Recycling cannabis packaging is an incredibly difficult process. Due to heavy regulations placed on the packaging, there are very specific requirements for the packaging making it hard to recycle. This means that there is a lot of single use plastic produced within the industry because it is particularly hard to recycle it. But this is just one problem in one industry, when thinking about the amount of single use plastic produced at a larger scale it becomes frighteningly apparent just how major this issue is. 

Think about an ordinary day in your life, you probably wake up and brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush that will eventually end up in landfills. You make toast with a piece of bread, that would have come straight out of a plastic bag which will again, end up in landfills. Your grocery bags for the store, yet another bit of single use plastic.

We are currently trapped in a society that revolves so much around single use plastic with no genuine incentives to change our behaviour. Generating waste that we don’t see once its been thrown in the bin, leaving us blinded to the detrimental impact our lifestyles are having on the earth. 

Innovation that incentivises ‘doing the right thing’

Levels of environmental awareness has never been higher. Pressure on businesses to act responsibly when it comes to their environmental footprint has never been stronger. But while the tide is turning, the best way to really incentivise people to change their habits is to make ‘doing the right thing’ the best choice for them personally.

In 2016 when talking about the solution to replacing fossil fuels Bill Gates wrote:

“In short, we need an energy miracle. When I say ‘miracle,’ I don’t mean something that’s impossible. I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine. None of them happened by chance. They are the result of research and development and the human capacity to innovate.”

His point was that to truly solve the problem we didn’t just need an alternative to fossil fuels. We needed an affordable solution. Because the best way to change people’s behaviour is to make it in their best interests to do so.

This is not a new idea. Things like container deposit schemes, where people can redeem empty containers for cash, usually result in recycling rates upwards of 85%, while countries without a similar scheme under 60%.

How Parsl is innovating recycling in the cannabis industry

As it currently operates the majority of cannabis packaging isn’t recycled. This problem is made all the worse, that due to packaging legislation that requires plain-packaging and childproof measures to be in place, in some jurisdictions cannabis can be sold with as much as 70 grams of packaging for every one gram of flower.

The key problem is that cannabis packaging needs to be treated separately before it can be mixed in with regular recycling. Because there is no incentive to centralise this collection it rarely happens. 

Parsl is trying to change that with through our recycling rewards program. 

As part of our cannabis packaging ecosystem we have initiatives to centralise the collection of cannabis packaging both in registered (licensed) dispensaries and collection machines. Consumers who participate in this will be given reward points that can be redeemed for products within the industry from participating businesses. 

The rewards will be funded by government programs and participating business’ who can use the collection machines to drive repeat customers to their business.

A centralised collection point will also help to incentivise cannabis specific recycling companies to operate as the logistics of collecting the material will be greatly simplified.

We hope that a program like this will encourage consumers to actually want to recycle and hopefully influence other businesses to create similar programs and we believe it is the sort of innovation that can really make a difference in changing human’s impact on the planet in a big way.

Parsl Takes on America: An Update From the CEO

After another successful trip across America for the Parsl team, expect to see some very exciting announcements and content coming your way! We left feeling incredibly inspired by the connections we made with innovative figures in the industry and are excited to share these with you in the near future. We also attended some pretty cool events whilst there and have it all captured on film to share with you! 

Thank you to everyone who has constantly supported Parsl, we are eager to share a bit of what’s been going on behind the scenes over the coming weeks!

Have a listen to a personal recap of the trip from our CEO, Dr. Isaac Balbin and a glimpse at what is coming your way across the next few weeks! 

The Very Real Problem with Product Authenticity

So you’ve just ordered a new iPhone. Exciting times! 

The phone is delivered. You open the box, take out your shiny new phone, peel off the protective plastic and turn it on. 

As that famous apple silhouette loads up on the screen the last thing you’re probably thinking about is where all the chips and circuits powering it up came from or who put them together. 

Most of us know that products like the smartphones we carry in our pockets were made in factories with conditions so bad that they have ‘suicide nets’ attached around the outside. While 70% of us say buying ethical products matters to us, year on year people continue to buy smartphones and companies like Apple and Samsung continue to make billions of dollars.

And herein lies the dichotomy of the modern consumer. We are both more interested in where our products come from and, thanks to an expanding global supply-chain, less able to work it out.

Why certificates of authenticity aren’t the answer

For many people the solution for the above problem seems simple: just buy products with some type of certification of authenticity. 

Unfortunately that isn’t always the answer.

While, there are a lot of great organisations that do excellent work to make sure companies are acting rigorously and ethically in their supply-chains, in the end they are all just as fallible as any other organisation.

Right now, we as consumers are putting a lot of trust in the information brands are presenting to us. We are essentially trusting any claims that companies make about our phones, food, cars, medications and more. 

Whether that is a fairtrade certification on your chocolate bar, an energy rating on your washing machine or a ‘Made in Australia’ on your cereal box or even just a brand’s own claim about its product, we often take this information at face value. However, when you scratch a little bit beneath the surface a lot problems start appearing.

Problem #1 – Brands rarely have full supply-chain visibility

The one big issue with relying purely on trust, is that not all brands put time and care into monitoring their supply chains to ensure product integrity. This can depend on a brand’s inadequate internal controls, or that they simply don’t have power over key stages in their supply chain. 

Because supply chains are so complex, many companies have compromised supply-chains without even knowing it. Even if a business actively seeks to obtain an ethical supply-chain, there are so many factors that go into the process which makes it near impossible to reach 100% ethical practices. 
According to Geodis’ 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide Survey, out of the 623 companies that were surveyed, supply chain visibility and transparency were their top priorities but only 6% said they actually had achieved full visibility.

Problem #2 – When trust is a commodity businesses will exploit it

Authenticity, sustainability and ethical production have all become more and more valuable commodity for business.

However, from a company’s point of view, the value comes from people thinking they have these characteristics. Whether it is true or not is often irrelevant.

Time and time again, companies have been found to exploit the trust of the consumer at different stages of the supply-chain. The examples are endless. In 1995, Safeway was sued for selling counterfeit Similac baby formula. Cosco was told to pay $5.5 Million dollars for selling fake Tiffany’s engagement rings in 2016. In 2015, the Volkswagen emissions scandal made global headlines when it was discovered they were falsifying emissions testing on their ‘Clean Diesel’ VW Golf and in 2017, over 16 thousands tonnes of soybeans were imported into California with fake ‘organic’ certifications.

This demonstrates how easy it is for even legitimate retailers to fall victim to counterfeit products and sends alarms from knowing how easy it is to manipulate the supply chain. It also demonstrates the need for a better method of tracking and authenticating products to create a fully transparent industry.

Problem #3 – Certification organisations are a business too

As already mentioned, many product certification programs are run by people operating in good faith. They are trying to make a difference in the world for the better.

But at the end of the day all it means to the consumer is a badge on their packaging which leads to some interesting problems when it comes what that actually means for the product at hand.

  • Some certifications are ‘better than’ others: The value in product certification means that the number of organisations that offer these type of badges has exploded. However they all use different criteria to allow brands to qualify and unless consumers spend the time researching each one, certifications become just another level of ‘trust’ than companies are doing the right thing.
  • Not all certifications are completely transparent: Again, unless consumers know exactly what they are looking for they can be easily fooled by any number of the hundreds of certification bodies that are created purely for commercial gain and require only minimum standards to be met to qualify
  • The verification process is limited in scope: Certification organisations have a certain set of standards they have to meet before a brand can use their logo. But the brand only has to meet those standards when they are being monitored. This opens the door to allowing companies to manipulate their practices and doesn’t guarantee 100% compliance.
  • The process can be expensive – Even the most rigorous certification programs are problematic for the cost involved in carrying them out, both on the side of the organisation and for the producers themselves. This can often lead to smaller producers forgoing certain certifications because it isn’t economically viable.

A study on consumer understanding and comprehension of nutritional information concluded that “by placing information onto a package panel, we engage in printing, nothing more. The contention that this act of information provision is equivalent to communicating with the consumer represents an unverified assumption” (source). 

If the same can be said to be true of any type of product authentication there is a real problem with the way we certify products.

How blockchain can be the solution to verifying product authenticity

The key problem we are facing now when it comes to traditional methods of product verification is that consumers don’t have access to the information about the products they buy or, when they do, they have no way of verifying it.

That’s where blockchain can step to the plate.

With Parsl technology users are able to scan the NFC (Near Field Communication) badge on the products with their phone. This will then bring up the entire history of the product and all relevant information. This data is 100% authentic as it has been verified using intelligent blockchain technology, which is secure and allows the supply-chain of all products to operate transparently.

So how does it actually work?

Each product is represented as a token which is placed on the blockchain and with this token comes a chain of custody. 

What does that mean? Well everytime that token (product) is handed from one person to another in the chain of custody (supply-chain) the data is added onto the blockchain detailing:

  • what has been done to the product
  • who was involved in the process
  • where it has come from 

This means that the end user can access all of the data added to the blockchain, and similarly, the producer of the product can access data to see who their end user is and where their product has ended up.

The Parsl badge has the potential to become a valid sign of trust because it gives users fully verified authentication of products every time, allowing users to trust the services and potentially form a lifelong connection with brands who are using the badges. This is an efficient way to gain customers trust in products. 

Through providing the entire history of products, Parsl technology has the ability to significantly reduce the possibility of counterfeit products through the ability to immediately pinpoint exactly where something may have gone wrong in the supply-chain and notify all users who may be affected. 

The technology can also benefit customers and law enforcement in a different kind of way. As customers are able to claim ownership of a product, in the circumstance that a product needs to be verified by the police, customers are able to show that the product rightfully belongs to them through providing its verified history. 

While Parsl is currently implementing this solution to solve key issues in the cannabis industry our technology can also extend to any industry where authenticity is important (and really what industry wouldn’t?). 

This will ultimately ensure MRBs are able to prove the quality of their products, the potential for counterfeit products is easily contained and customers can rest knowing that the products they are investing in are high quality and most importantly, authentic! 

The Lack of Research and Education on Medicinal Cannabis is Holding Back the Industry From Helping Those in Need of the Medicine

We’ve all heard the miracle stories that have come from the use of medicinal cannabis. Whether its cancer patients using extracts from the plant to aid their treatment, epilepsy sufferers utilizing it as a remedy for their seizures or palliative care patients completely transforming their quality of life, so many people can thank this humble plant for a new quality of life. 

However, due to a lack of quality research into medicinal cannabis, there is a real lack of peer-reviewed evidence that supports these claims.

Often this means healthcare professionals are reluctant to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients who could benefit greatly from the medicine, even in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal, as they don’t have concrete evidence to support their decisions when prescribing the medication. 

This not only prevents health care practitioners from helping patients who are desperate to reap in the benefits of the medicine, it is also holding the industry back from growing further and discovering new methods of using the plant to treat various illnesses.

Further research into the effects of medicinal cannabis is essential to give the medicine credibility within the medical field 

There are plenty of studies that show that medicinal cannabis has positive impacts on different illnesses.

The problem is that there are very low amounts of evidence proving how exactly medicinal cannabis impacts specific conditions, what amount is the right amount, how it interacts with other medications and so on.

This is where further research into medicinal cannabis is essential. Once these questions can be answered with concrete evidence, healthcare practitioners will be far more likely to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients as the current risks associated with the process will be gone. 

As an example of the limited research currently available, the TGA’s (Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration) summary of evidence by condition regarding medicinal cannabis states that for conditions like MS, epilepsy, palliative care, nausea and vomiting, and chronic non-cancer pain all current evidence quality is generally rated as none/insufficient, low or very low. This clearly demonstrates the strong demand for further research into the effects of medicinal cannabis to help specific conditions.

The barriers restricting further research into the effects of medicinal cannabis

There are many challenges that are faced when deciding to conduct research into medicinal cannabis.

Regulatory barriers

Researchers looking to conduct research on cannabis or cannabinoids have to go through a series of review processes that could involve the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), institutional review boards, offices or departments in state governments or state boards of medical examiners.  

As cannabis is still listed as a schedule 1 drug, basic and clinical researchers seeking to investigate the value of cannabis or cannabinoids for medicinal purposes from the NIDA, must acquire the approval from a range of federal, state and local agencies, institutions or organisations. After reading the vast amount of regulatory barriers researchers face, it quickly becomes apparent why there is such a lack of research taken into medicinal cannabis.

Barriers to Cannabis Supply

It is rather difficult for researchers to gain access to the quantity, quality, and types of cannabis products needed to undertake relevant research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

Within the United States, cannabis used for research is only available through the NIDA Drug Supply Program. However, their main purpose is to “advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health,”  this has resulted in only one-fifth of funding going towards research into the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids but this is only half of the issue.

As all of the cannabis that NIDA provides is sourced from the University of Missisippi, researches are heavily restricted due to a lack of variety. The facility at the University of Mississippi isn’t able to replicate every single cannabis plant found in the country, nor the potency of each one and so it becomes quite challenging to conduct thorough research.

One of the key factors to determining how cannabis types can treat different conditions is the mix of over 100 different cannabinoids found within a plants chemical profile. So, to expand our knowledge of what cannabis can treat -variety is very important.

NIDA is addressing this problem and have contracted with the University of Mississippi to produce cannabis strains with differing concentrations.

Just recently, as of August 26th, the DEA have announced that they will finally let others grow research-grade cannabis. The DEA stated that it is “moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States” .

This is massive news as researchers will now have access to a wider variety of cannabis types which will make the research carried out far more effective and specific. This comes 3 years after the DEA agreed to offer scientists a variety of high-quality research material however never actually fulfilled this promise. With yesterday’s announcement, there is now great hope for the future of research into cannabis.

Funding limitations

Researchers need proper financial support to be able to inform health care or public health of their findings. This is something that medicinal cannabis research is lacking, for example in 2015 NIDA supported studies that accounted for 59.3 percent ($66,078,314) of all NIH (National Institutes of Health) spending on cannabinoid research, however, only 16.5 percent ($10,923,472) supported research into the therapeutic properties of cannabinoid.

The research into the therapeutic properties of cannabis needs to be made easily accessible and given the proper facilities for researchers to conduct high quality research.

This will go on to help society gain a better understanding of the plants health benefits and could then go on to treat millions of illnesses and potentially save peoples lives.

Health care professionals need to be further educated on medicinal cannabis to improve prescription rates for patients

The stigma that is still surrounding cannabis and its potential therapeutic benefits is currently outweighing people’s desire to understand the impacts of medicinal cannabis. Is this yet another barrier facing further research into medicinal cannabis? 

Research, led by author Anastasia B. Evanoff sent surveys to medical school curriculum deans at 172 medical schools in North America and received 101 replies. Two-thirds reported that their graduates were not prepared to prescribe medicinal cannabis and a quarter said they weren’t even equipped to answer questions relating to it. 

Why is this an issue?

A lack of research results in an insufficient amount of evidence which is essential for understanding the impacts of medicinal cannabis. This prevents universities from teaching students about the potential benefits of the medicine and how to best prescribe it to patients.

Graduating healthcare practitioners feel inadequately trained to prescribe the medicine and choosing not to prescribe it to patients. This cycle continues to feed the stigma surrounding cannabis as there are so many gaps in current research to sufficiently prove the positive health impacts of medicinal cannabis.

“Medical education needs to catch up to marijuana legislation” said Laura Jean Beirut, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University and a member of the National Advisory Council of Drug Abuse. “Physicians in training need to know the benefits and drawbacks associated with medical marijuna so they know when or if, and to whom, to prescribe the drug”  (source)

The bottom line

It is time for society to end the stigma surrounding cannabis and begin to take the plants benefits more seriously. Rather than ignoring its existence, universities should be open to gaining a better understanding of medicinal cannabis so that graduating healthcare practitioners feel adequately trained on the subject.

As medicinal cannabis becomes more established around the world, we are at a critical stage to conduct further research into the health benefits that come from the medicine. Without it, healthcare practitioners lack the training to confidently prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients, which leads to patients having restricted access to its benefits. Once we have further knowledge on medicinal cannabis health benefits, the entire cannabis industry will have the ability to grow and potentially develop innovative solutions to even more illnesses using the humble cannabis plant.

Share your opinion on the lack of cannabis research below!

WORBLI brings a fast, compliant and secure service to Parsl’s platform

The Parsl team is excited to announce that we will be joining the WORBLI network to integrate their compliant and secure services within the Parsl ecosystem. 

WORBLI’s platform is powered by EOSIO which allows the network to deliver fast, compliant and secure services to power the Parsl platform. The WORBLI network also allows Parsl to leave an auditable supply trail which ensures customer and vendor protection, solves legitimacy issues, and ensures that cannabis products are fresh and have been grown and analysed in a lab by verified vendors. 

WORBLI has many key features that Parsl’s service will benefit greatly from. The network is finance focused and has been designed to meet the regulatory requirements of global financial services, it provides tamper-proof transactions, is fast and has a strong focus on product compliance which makes the company an obvious partner for us. Their service is directly inline with the solutions we were already looking for, for example, it will be able to alleviate some of the prior concerns we had with running our platform exclusively on the EOS main net. 

This partnership will push the pace of our deployment, improve the economics around our ecosystem and ultimately ensure that we are able to deliver a more complete package to our clients. 

WORBLI CEO Domenic Thomas is excited about the prospect of bringing Parsl’s supply chain and payment system to WORBLI. He added, “Parsl is another great project fit for the WORBLI network. The kind of strict compliance required to service a regulated industry like medical cannabis can only work on a fully compliant blockchain network like WORBLI.” 

Dr. Isaac Balbin, founder and CEO of Parsl had this to say about the migration to WORBLI: “Compliance is one of the foundations that we’ve built our technology platform with. In fact, some people have said our most valuable feature is the integrated financial and product compliance that our platform is uniquely able to offer. WORBLI’s focus on compliance makes them a natural partner for us, and what they’re doing is directly inline with the solutions we were already looking for, for example it alleviates some of the concerns we had with running our platform exclusively on the EOS Main Net. We plan that this partnership will ramp up the pace of our deployment, improve the economics around our ecosystem, and ensure that we are able to bring a more complete package to our clients”

We are excited to begin the journey to reaching our shared goal with WORBLI to revolutionize the cannabis industry and bring the industry into the future by providing a compliant, accessible and safe platform. 

14 Ways You Can Eat, Drink, Wear and Use Hemp

From soap to clothing to fuel, the history of hemp as an agricultural crop dates back 10,000 years, giving it a potential claim as the earliest plant to ever be cultivated. While it might seem like a niche crop in the modern day, it has been used for a huge variety of purposes in cultures all over the world and was even recently as the 1930’s being described as the “new billion dollar crop”.

However in 2016, hemp accounted for less that 0.5% of the natural fiber textile market worldwide.

So, what happened?

Laws like the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made the cultivation of hemp completely unprofitable. At the same time a federal campaign to demonize cannabis impacted the public perception of hemp.

The legal definition of hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains 0.3% or less of THC, which is well below the levels required to have a psychoactive effect, but the potential negative social attitude of the community towards hemp is one of the key factors impacting the adoption of hemp.

However the 2018 Farm Bill, that saw the legalization of hemp has lead to a mini hemp-boom, so Parsl thought it was a good time to look at the powerful plant that is currently being used in 25,000 products globally. 

A quick history of hemp 

Let’s get you familiar with the fascinating story of our versatile friend: 

Hemp dates all the way back to 8,000 BC Taiwan, where the earliest evidence of its usage was found in pottery. Fast forward 2,000 years to 6,000 BC and records show the use of hemp seeds and oil as a food source in China.

China was definitely onto something, because in 4,000 BC, textiles were found in the region that were made from hemp, and there was even evidence of hemp being woven into bowstring for the soldiers bows.

In 2,800 BC the Egyption Goddess Sheshat was shown with a hemp leaf above her head. Even The Founding Fathers of America utilised the benefits of hemp, using hemp paper to write the Declaration of Independence. 

Hemp was widely celebrated across the globe for it’s versatile and durable nature, however, 20th century America changed that. In 1937, Congress passed the “Marijuana Tax Act” which placed a $2.00 per ounce federal tax on trade in cannabis this essentially put an end to the widespread popularity of hemp as a staple U.S. agricultural product. In 1970, under the Controlled Substances Act, there were no distinctions made between cannabis varieties, meaning hemp was listed as a schedule I drug (with the likes of heroin and LSD). 

The many uses of hemp 

Now that you know a little bit about the rich history of hemp, let’s delve into some of its many uses. With benefits for personal health and wellbeing, the environment, textiles, building materials, and more, it is quite clear why hemp is making a massive comeback to society. 

Hemp and food

Hemp Seeds 

Considered a ‘superfood’, hemp seeds are bursting with many nutrients that are essential for maintaining a balanced diet and improving the health of the heart, skin and joints. 

Key Benefits:

  • Hemp seeds are packed with protein, in every 30 grams (g) of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 g of protein. Vegetarians (and meat eaters), pay close attention: As hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids they are a complete source of protein! 
  • A great source of essential fatty acids 
  • High in fibre: This helps to reduce your appetite, helps with weight management, and promotes a healthy gut
  • Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause 
  • Whole hemp seeds may aid digestion 
  • Contain lots of minerals and vitamins: In particular vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, and zinc

Hemp Seed Oil 

Very similar to the seeds themselves, hemp seed oil is highly nutritional, boasting essential fatty acids, plant cholesterol, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Hemp oil is created much like any oil product, by pressing seeds of the cannabis plant.

Key Benefits: 

  •  Hemp seed oil for skin: Hemp oil is a great natural moisturiser, assists in anti-aging, and can help eczema and acne through counteracting the imbalance of essential fatty acids 
  • Hemp seed oil for inflammation: Ingesting and applying the oil can be anti-inflammatory and help with conditions like arthritis 
  • Hemp seed oil can reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular systems 

Hemp Milk 

Hemp milk is made by blending water with the seeds of the hemp plant (similar to how almond milk is made) and can be used as a dairy milk alternative. 

Key Benefits: 

Hemp Beer/ale

A growing trend in the brewing industry is hemp beer/ale. It is a form of beer infused with elements of the cannabis plant. The beer is not brewed directly from hemp, but is later flavoured with hemp products such as the seeds.  

Hemp Kombucha 

Kombucha is another trend gaining a lot of traction in the health world. It is a fermented tea with many health benefits ranging from a source of probiotics to a way to help manage diabetesHempoz describes their Hemp Kombucha as a ‘hand-crafted ancient brew that blends the guy-health powers of fermentation with the wellness benefits of a live probiotic’ 

Hemp and the environment

Hemp Plastic 

Due to the use of single use items, traditional plastic is having a detrimental effect on the environment. They are also very difficult to dispose of, taking thousands of years to completely decompose meaning they’ll live a much longer life than you and I. 

Hemp bioplastic is biodegradable, recyclable and toxin-free, the plastic is made from the stalk of the plant, which provides a high cellulose count that is required for the plastic construction and providing strength and flexibility. Hemp plants absorb a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere, grow quickly and require fewer pesticides, fertilisers and water than other bioplastic resources making hemp bioplastic a great alternative to help the environment. 

Hemp energy: Hemp Biodiesel 

Although there are currently no cars running on hemp fuel, there is huge potential for it to be possible in the future. Cannabis seeds contain the plant’s oils that can be turned into fuel. At the University of Connecticut, researchers discovered that industrial hemp contains feasible qualities for producing biodiesel.

If this can be realized as a genuine alternative, this would have a great impact on the environment helping to combat the amount of carbon that is currently produced by fossil fuels. 

Key benefits: 

Hemp and building materials 

Hemp houses (or Hempcrete) 

Hempcrete, the next big building material for homes? Hempcrete is a concrete made from nothing but hemp pulp, lime binder and water. It is non-toxic, insulating, termite-resistant, fire-resistant, mold-resistant, rot-resistant and will last for hundreds of years.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not! People in America are building whole houses from the material! 

Key Benefits: 

  • Hempcrete is ten times stronger than concrete 
  • Carbon negative

Hemp and textiles 

Hemp Clothing 

Prior to the 1920s, hemp fabric was present in around 80% of all clothes produced in the USA, and for good reason! Hemp clothing has many benefits that are lacking in other clothing materials. Hemp can be used in jeans, shirts, dresses, hats and bags. There are many reasons why hemp clothing may be the next big thing in the fashion industry. 

Key Benefits:

  • Strong and durable: Due to the nature of hemp fibres being long and coupled together, the material is incredibly strong. 
  • UV protectant
  • Soft feeling 
  • Breathable and insulated 
  • Water absorbent 
  • Naturally biodegradable 
  • Zero chemical fertilizers or pesticides required 
  • Needs half as much water as cotton 

Hemp Paper

Hemp was used to create the first recorded example of paper in history in 150 BC in China.

It wasn’t until the 19th century when more affordable methods for the production of paper with wood pulp were established that the use of hemp paper became less popular. However there are still some clear benefits from producing paper using hemp.

Key benefits

  • The material can be grown in 20 weeks (compared the 20 years for wood pulp)
  • Can reap 10 tons per acres (compares 2.5 ton for wood pulp)
  • Can be recycled more than 3 times more than wood pulp paper.
  • It is easier to break down in the paper process.

Hemp Diapers 

 Diapers need to be particularly good at one thing; absorbency. That is why hemp diapers work so well, the fabric is incredibly absorbent while also being breathable which helps babies feel comfortable. 

Key Benefits: 

Hemp and Body Care

Hemp Soap  

Hemp soap contains the many benefits that come from hemp oil. It is a great alternative for people with all skin types because of the fatty acid profile which mimics that of our skin. 

Key Benefits:

  • Because of the 3 essential fatty acids (Omega 3, Omega 6, and gamma-linolenic acid) found in hemp oil, it helps maintain moisture content in the body
  • Unlike antibacterial soaps, it doesn’t contain triclosan, which dries out skin 
  • Because of the anti-inflammatory properties, hemp soap can help people suffering from eczema and rosacea

Hemp Oil Shampoo and Conditioner 

By now, you’re probably starting to realise a pattern in the benefits that come from hemp derived products. Hemp Oil Shampoo and Conditioner is again highly nutritional thanks to the high amounts of Omegas 3 and 6. Because of the Anti-inflammatory properties that come from the Omega EFA’s, hair follicles are able to open up and promote healthy hair growth. 

Key Benefits: 

Hemp Skincare 

Serum, moisturizer, lip balm, hand cream, deodorant; just a few of the skincare products that include hemp. Hemp seed oil is used in most products, meaning all of the nutrients that come from the oil are packed into each product, resulting in happy skin! 

Key benefits: 

Hemp has been used for thousands of years and for good reason. The humble plant has many different uses and comes with outstanding benefits for humans, the environment, and everyday life. 

We only scratched the surface of the thousands of products out there using hemp and with its growing popularity, there will most probably be thousands more to arise within the near future! 

Leave a comment below with the hemp product that interests you the most!