Every week there is a lot that goes on in the world of cannabis, and sometimes it can be a little hard to keep up with. The Cannabis Catch Up is a weekly series that collates some of the most important news in cannabis from throughout the week and puts it all in one place.
This week was quite historical for cannabis as a cannabis legalization bill was approved by the Congressional Committee. Down under in Australia the Government launched an inquiry into the medicinal cannabis industry and research discovered cannabis as a potential treatment option for endometriosis. And Thailand could soon allow households do grow cannabis plants to be sold to the government in hopes to legalize medical cannabis. Read on for further information!
Cannabis Legalization Bill approved by Congressional Committee
On Wednesday, a historical vote was made in America where a congressional committee approved a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition.
The House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in a 24-10 vote. In an encouraging sign it saw a small degree of bi-partisan support with two Republicans (Matt Gaetz and Tom McClintock) show their support for the bill.
The MORE Act, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior cannabis convictions, place a five percent tax on all cannabis related sales with the revenue being reinvested back into communities most affected by cannabis prohibition.
There were concerns from some Republicans that the bill went too far and that it was unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.
This is the first time a congressional committee has backed legislation to decriminalize cannabis at a federal level which is huge in itself.
While it is great that Congress is even talking about ending cannabis prohibition in America, there is still quite a long way to go until cannabis is fully legalized at the federal level.
The Judiciary Committee is only the first committee to have passed the bill, there are still seven other House committees it will need to pass.
It will then need to be voted in the Republican-controlled Senate and since it is ‘…devoid of bipartisan support’ it is unlikely that the majority of Republicans will fully support the bill.
Even if the bill makes it through Congress, it must be signed by the President to become law. Donald Trump has stated in the past he believes it should be left to individual states to decide on cannabis laws, so it seems relatively unlikely that we will see cannabis legalized at a federal level this year.
We will be following any further developments closely and can only hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
The Australian Government launches an inquiry into the medicinal cannabis system
Earlier this month a proposed inquiry by the Greens Party won support in the Senate leading the Australian Government to conduct a Parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of medicinal cannabis.
The greens received support for the proposed inquiry from labor and crossbench senators, allowing the minor party to defeat the Federal Government with 35 votes to 31.
The motion is to be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 12 February 2020. A few of the current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis are as follows:
- The suitability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for subsidising patient access to medicinal cannabis products;
- Australia’s regulatory regime in comparison to international best practice models for medicinal cannabis products;
- The availability of training for doctors in the current TGA regulatory regime for prescribing medicinal cannabis to their patients;
- Sources of information for doctors about uses of medicinal cannabis and how these might be improved and widened;
- Delays in access, and the practice of product substitution, due to importation of medicinal cannabis and the shortage of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis products;
- The significant financial barriers to accessing medicinal cannabis treatment;
To read more about the motions details click here.
The Greens Party leader, Richard Di Natale stated that “It’s been shoehorned into a system that is not fit for purpose, and all that’s achieved is delays, expense and suffering for Australian patients”
He went onto state that “The failure of the current system has led to thousands of patients being denied access to medicine, with many being forced to turn to the black market. Doctors shouldnt be turning away sick people because of the complexities of prescribing cannabis”
“This inquiry will… look into whether doctors have the information they need to prescribe it, and whether patients have access to the medicine they need.”
Australian study found cannabis an effective treatment for pain from endometriosis
Recent research could potentially show cannabis as being an effective method of pain management with one in ten Australian women using it to cope with the pain.
The study surveyed 484 women with surgically diagnosed endometriosis about the self-management strategies they used.
Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory condition where tissue (that is usually found on the lining of the uterus) is found outside of the womb. It affects around one in ten women who are of reproductive age. Symptoms can include painful periods, excessive bleeding, infertility and gastrointestinal symptoms.
There is currently limited options for the pain management of endometriosis, with women still reporting getting pain even after medication and surgery.
13 percent of the women reported using cannabis as a method of pain management and it was rated the most effective.
The respondents who reported using cannabis also reported improvements in other symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, nausea, anxiety, depression and sleep.
Researchers believe well designed clinical trials are urgently needed to determine how effective and safe quality-controlled medicinal cannabis might be in treating the symptoms of endometriosis.
Thailand will soon allow its citizens to grow cannabis at home to sell to the Government
The Thai Government will soon allow all citizens to cultivate six cannabis plants in their homes to sell their home-grown harvest to the government to be turned into medical cannabis. This is all in an attempt to legalize medical cannabis across Thailand.
“We are in the process of changing laws to allow the medical use of marijuana freely,” said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. He continued, “We have high confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the law changes. But there is a process to it.”
Not only will this provide an increase in supplies of medical products, but it will also give locals a crop that could boost their incomes. Anutin proposed the sale of each plant to the government for $2,225. A household could earn $13,350 for selling all six of their plants which is a huge incentive to grow the plants.
Thailand currently holds the biggest, industrial-scale medical cannabis facility in Southeast Asia. Back in September, Maejo University researchers planted 12,000 cannabis seedlings which were provided by the government’s Department of Medical Service.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) hopes to harvest enough ingredients to manufacture one million bottles of cannabis oil, each containing five Millilitres by February 2020.