MJ News for 06/26/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/...-americans-using-marijuana-seeking-treatment/




UN reports more Americans using marijuana, seeking treatment


More Americans are consuming marijuana as their perception of the health risks declines but more are seeking help for problems related to the drug, a U.N. report said on Thursday.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said it was still too early to understand the impact of recent cannabis legalization moves in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado and the South American country of Uruguay.

However, research suggests that declining risk perception and increased availability can lead to wider use and to more young people being introduced to the drug, the UNODC said in its annual report on the narcotics situation in the world.

Global cannabis use seemed to have decreased, the report said, reflecting a decline in some western and central European countries.

"However, in the United States, the lower perceived risk of cannabis use has led to an increase in its use," UNODC said, without specifying what may have caused this change.

Washington and Colorado have legalized the sale of cannabis under license, but U.S. federal laws still prohibit sales.

The report said the number of people in the country aged 12 or more who used cannabis at least once in the previous year rose to 12.1 percent in 2012 from 10.3 percent in 2008.

But more people are seeking treatment for "cannabis-related disorders" in most regions of the world, including in North America.

This is one reason that expected tax revenue from retail cannabis sales should "be cautiously weighed against the costs of prevention and health care," the 2014 World Drug Report said.

In December, Uruguay's Congress approved a law allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana, making it the first country to do so, with the aim of wresting the business from criminals.

The experiment is being keenly watched by Latin American peers at a time when the U.S.-led war on drugs faces mounting criticism. Success in Uruguay could fuel momentum for legalization elsewhere.

Regarding other narcotics, a surge in opium production in Afghanistan - where the area under cultivation jumped by 36 percent in 2013 - was "a setback" while the global availability of cocaine fell as production declined from 2007 to 2012.

Last year, the worldwide output of heroin "rebounded to the high levels witnessed" in 2008 and 2011, UNODC added.

"Up to 200,000 people die every year due to illicit drugs," UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.
 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/local...854ba8-fc6e-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html




House Republicans block funding for D.C. marijuana decriminalization


House Republicans on Wednesday blocked funding for a new D.C. law that would eliminate the threat of jail time for pot possession, leaving the fate of one of the country’s most liberal decriminalization efforts unclear.

The D.C. law, which is to take effect next month, makes possession in the nation’s capital punishable by a fine of just $25.

A spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said the city would proceed with implementing the law even as its authority to mete out the smaller penalties beyond October remains up in the air.

Gray’s office also warned that as the House Republican amendment was drafted, the city needs to determine if the action could force the city to shut down its entire medical marijuana program, which started last year. Marijuana advocates, meanwhile, were pushing a theory that the House Republicans’ actions could leave the city with no enforceable marijuana law, effectively legalizing possession. The D.C. Attorney General’s Office said it was reviewing that possibility and other potential fallout from the House’s vote.

The interference from House Republicans, however, was broadly seen as another defeat for home rule in the District — and the ability of its Democratic mayor and left-leaning council to self-govern. In March, the council voted overwhelmingly to eliminate jail time for possession, calling it necessary to combat deep racial disparities in drug arrests in the city. Studies have shown that use among teenagers varies little by race but that African Americans account for nine of 10 possession arrests in the nation’s capital, contributing to an estimated 10 percent of residents who have criminal records and trouble finding jobs.

The effort to keep the District from loosening its marijuana laws was led by Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress.

In April, Maryland also joined the third of states that have passed similar laws eliminating jail time for pot possession. But Harris argued that the D.C. law was “bad policy” assessing a fine of just $25 — a fraction of the $100 fine in Maryland, which escalates rapidly with repeat violations.

Harris, a doctor who represents the Eastern Shore, also visibly swayed fellow Republicans by noting that the District’s law has no drug-treatment component, even for minors, and that the fine for a young teen who is caught with a joint would be half that of the city’s $50 ticket for underage smoking of a cigarette.

“No referral for help? Not even for a 14- or 15-year-old. That’s just plain bad policy.” Harris told members of the House Appropriations Committee. “This is the opportunity to stop that bad policy from moving forward.”

Harris’s amendment, or “rider” on a a multibillion-dollar spending bill, would preclude the District from spending any money “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any” federal controlled substance.

It was one of several riders on D.C. spending House Republicans passed Wednesday, the others including a prohibition on D.C. spending its own money on abortions for poor residents and one cutting funds for D.C. police officers to drive their cruisers to and from their homes if they live outside the city.

The riders were derided by House Democrats from New York to California as infringing on the District’s right to self-governance.

Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) called Harris’s amendment a misplaced effort by Republicans to appear tough on drugs.

Serrano, whose family is from Puerto Rico, also said that Republicans’ interference amounted to D.C. “colonialism,” with representatives from red states imposing their will on the city’s Democratic majority.

“The D.C. voters elected people. They made the decision, and it seems to me that we ought to respect that,” added Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.). “It just doesn’t seem right that the Eastern Shore of Maryland can reach over into D.C. and make laws for D.C. It’s not the way this country is supposed to function.”

One Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, sided with Republicans in the 28-to-21 vote and Harris seized on the defection, calling his amendment a bipartisan success.

In a brief interview, Harris said his bill was not intended to upend the District's medical marijuana program and was drafted carefully to not do so.

“This is not about medical marijuana. This is about decriminalization and the effect of that on the youth of this country. And in this case, the youth of D.C.”

Harris’s amendment and the other riders will be included in the budget that goes to the full House and then to negotiators, who will work out a compromise with an as-yet unfinished Senate spending plan, which is almost assured to include no similar restrictions on the District.

The House hearing was the last expected hurdle for the District’s marijuana law, which is nearing the end of a 60-day congressional review period. Unless Congress passes a measure halting the law — and the president signs that — it will take effect next month.

Under the law, possession would draw a civil fine of $25 — akin to a parking ticket. That would be the smallest penalty outside any state except Alaska, which has no fine, and Colorado and Washington, which have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Smoking pot in public could draw a penalty of 60 days in jail, like an arrest for an open container of alcohol.

The District law has drawn praise from marijuana advocates and civil rights groups, and on Wednesday, their representatives lashed out at Harris.

“That Rep. Harris is picking on a majority black district and no other jurisdiction with marijuana decriminalization is very telling,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “His own state has decriminalized marijuana, but he’s not interfering with it.”

Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, cast the move by Harris and House Republicans as out of step with voters.

A Washington Post poll this year found that D.C. voters, by about 2 to 1, support legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

A band of marijuana advocates is working toward a deadline next month to gather enough signatures to put a measure before voters in November to legalize possession, including home cultivation of the plant.

Such a law would also end up back in Congress, where House Republicans, at least on Wednesday, were ready to rewrite it as they saw fit.

“The federal government has a unique relationship with the city of Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.). “We, the federal government, pay for the city’s courts, we pay to house their prisoners, and I think we pay for a few other things . . . so the Constitution says we have the power to exercise — in all cases — over this District. And that is what we do.”
 

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http://www.minnpost.com/politics-po...-marijuana-fight-now-turns-those-chronic-pain




Minnesota's medical marijuana fight now turns to those in chronic pain


When lawmakers approved the state's new medical marijuana program last month, they deliberately left out the largest group of potential patients: those with chronic pain.

But the debate is not over, and how state leaders sort out the issue of chronic pain and marijuana will determine whether Minnesota's marijuana program expands by a few thousand people — or perhaps a hundred thousand.

During the last legislative session, compelling stories of children with seizure disorders and their families resurrected a once-dead bill, giving medical marijuana advocates their first victory after more than a decade of effort at the state Capitol.

The new law covers nine conditions such as cancer and epilepsy with each category expected to generate anywhere from 100 to 1,000 medical marijuana participants. In all, the state estimates 5,000 enrollees in the program, which is scheduled to begin providing the drug July 1, 2015.

But pain is a game changer in the medical marijuana world. In Colorado and Oregon, two states with large programs, at least 94 percent of the medical marijuana program participants list chronic pain as a qualifying diagnosis.


In Minnesota, the state estimated adding "intractable pain" to the qualifying diagnoses would mean an additional 33,000 patients. But that number is a guess — and there is evidence to suggest that it might be low.

Colorado's rate would equal 100,000 Minnesotans
State officials based their estimates on the medical marijuana program in Arizona, one of 21 other states that have such laws.

Arizona is one of three states, along with Oregon and Colorado, that keeps quality statistics on which state residents are using medical marijuana and why. But of those three, Arizona has the lowest participation rate: about 0.7 percent of the state population has a valid medical marijuana card.

In Oregon the participation rate is 1.5 percent. In Colorado the rate is 2.2 percent. In Minnesota, a 2 percent participation rate translates to 100,000 enrollees. Even if Minnesota's experience is more like Arizona's, the original estimate may prove low, since Arizona's program grew 8 percent last year and more than 30 percent in the last two years.

No one actually knows just how many Minnesotans would participate if pain was allowed as a diagnosis. Current law does not allow marijuana users to smoke it — only liquid, pill or vapor use is acceptable — and the state estimates that restriction may reduce enrollment by 10 percent.

Another factor is that Minnesota's drug abuse laws already contain a definition for intractable pain that is more detailed than those used by other states for their marijuana programs. If that definition is used for marijuana eligibility, Minnesota could create a higher hurdle for patients and reduce participation rates.

State 2013 population Active card holders % of pop Projected card holders
Arizona 6,626,624 48,231 0.7%
Oregon 3,930,065 59,183 1.5%
Colorado 5,268,367 115,208 2.2%
Minnesota (current law estimate) 5,420,380 5,000 0.1%
MN with pain and AZ participation rate 5,420,380 0.7% 37,943
MN with pain and OR participation rate 5,420,380 1.5% 81,306
MN with pain and CO participation rate 5,420,380 2.2% 119,248
Health commissioner can bypass lawmakers
What is clear is that the medical marijuana bill signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton will not end resolve the pain issue. Advocates, fresh from an impressive victory including winning 2-to-1 margins in both the House and Senate, promise to renew the debate next session. The House, the more reluctant medical-marijuana chamber, is the only one up for re-election in November, and could become even more friendly to medical marijuana.

Another path for gaining approval for chronic pain is inside this year's bill. The law requires the state's commissioner of health to rule in the next two years if intractable pain should be added to the list of medical diagnoses eligible for medical marijuana. Such a ruling would not need the approval of lawmakers.

Saying "yes" to HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy and not to chronic pain may be tricky for state officials. A review article in the New England Journal of Medicine this month highlighted promising research for treating each of those conditions with marijuana. The evidence supporting the state's approved diagnoses appears to be no greater than the evidence for treating chronic pain with pot.

Modern medicine does not do a good job with chronic pain. The Institute of Medicine said in 2011 that chronic pain affects 100 million American adults costing up to $635 billion annually in treatment costs and lost productivity. Many with pain become dependent on opioid prescription pain medicine like Percocet or Vicodin and the use of such medications has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. And drug abuse experts say there is a direct link between the increased use of opioids and the increase use of heroin in the country.

KK Forss, a 47-year-old Cloquet photographer, credits smoking marijuana with saving him from a toxic level of pain medications like fentanyl, methadone and time-released morphine sulfate following a ruptured disc in his neck. Marijuana reduced his nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms. It allowed him to cut back on his prescription medications and he gained weight.

"I didn't have a life — except agony. I told people I couldn't live this way that I would go insane with the pain,'' said Forss, whose eight-year nightmare of pain ended in 2012 after a successful surgery. "This is not a liberal versus conservative issue. It's about getting people the help that doctors feel is best for them and to help people who are suffering.''

Pain remediation — for some
Minnesota opponents of medical marijuana are clearly frightened by the large number of potential users that could emerge with the addition of pain as a qualifying diagnosis. "This will only increase the potential for marijuana abuse in our state,'' said a statement from a state coalition of law enforcement groups.

In addition, opponents of expanding medical marijuana's use are concerned it will mean increased use among young people and increase in its recreational, illegal use.

Advocates say the potential for a greatly enlarged program should not lessen the strength of their argument.

"That number may intimidate some people,'' said Heather Azzi, director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "It won't be a program where you can go to a doctor and say me knee hurts and get a prescription for medical marijuana. We need to trust our doctors … . This is medicine. That's the fundamental part.''

Cindy Rollins, a 57-year-old woman from a small West Central Minnesota city who has debilitating pain from rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, said it would be unfair to eliminate people like her from the medical marijuana program out of fear of large numbers of enrollees or worry that some might fake their pain to get the drug.

"There are those who make stuff up. I get that,'' she said. "But that should not hurt those of us who are suffering.''

The current law does allow medical marijuana to be used for pain by those with cancer and those with terminal diseases.

"I don't have cancer, but I do have rheumatoid arthritis. What's the difference in my pain? I'm not dying?'' said Rollins, who cannot tolerate prescription painkillers because of the over-sedation they cause for her.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...bf4476-fca5-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html




House tries to snuff out marijuana decriminalization for the District


IN APPROVING a measure that aims to stop the District from decriminalizing marijuana, House Republicans ignored the fact that an increasing number of states have taken a similar step and that two have gone so far as to legalize the drug. They seem to have forgotten that less than a month ago the House approved the first pro-marijuana bill in congressional history, voting to prohibit use of federal funds to stop medical marijuana in states that allow it. Most of all, they seem to have forgotten that Republicans are supposed to be the folks who abhor federal interference in local affairs.

The only thing that seemed to matter to House Republicans as they trampled on the District’s home rule is that they could. As Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) baldly put it: “Whether or not we should do it, we can debate it, but we have the jurisdiction to do it.”

Mr. Harris was the instigator of an amendment approved Wednesday by the Appropriations Committee that blocks funding for a new city law eliminating criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, passed by the D.C. Council, was signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) in March and is in the middle of a mandatory 60-day congressional review period.

We’ve been skeptical about outright legalization of marijuana, but we think the District was right to decriminalize it, which calls for ticketing minor offenders. It’s a compromise that discourages drug use but tries to mitigate the racial injustices and wrecked lives that have resulted from imprisoning marijuana users. The District is hardly alone in this choice: A third of the states have eliminated criminal penalties. One is Mr. Harris’s home state , an irony that doesn’t seem to have registered. “It is particularly offensive that he is trying to impose on another member’s district what he was unable to do democratically in his own,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

As Ms. Norton pointed out, Mr. Harris is following in the footsteps of countless politicians who have used the District as a pawn to raise their national profiles or burnish their conservative bona fides. Interfering in the District’s local affairs allows Mr. Harris to say he’s tough on drugs, never mind the consequences.

Let’s hope empty bragging rights are all that result. By defunding decriminalization without removing it from the books, the measure could effectively legalize pot, since the District couldn’t spend any funds on enforcement. If the full House doesn’t make short work of this misguided measure, the Senate or White House should make clear that the local affairs of D.C. residents are best left to their locally elected officials.
 

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http://time.com/2912265/this-marijuana-food-truck-can-get-you-high/




This Marijuana Food Truck Can Get You High


Washington state residents now have a chance to try pot-infused truffle popcorn and other treats

The “munchies” are going artisanal. After debuting in Denver on 4/20, a marijuana food truck is expected to open at a farmer’s market in Washington state this weekend.

But will its meals get customers high?

“Yes,” says Garyn Angel, who runs the refurbished school bus, dubbed “Samich,” both a shorthand for sandwich and an acronym for Savory Accessible Marijuana Infused Culinary Happiness.

Customers will be able to choose between four cannabis-infused meals at Jet City Farmer’s Market in the city of Everett, Wash. between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday:

“Danksgiving,” a grilled turkey sandwich with stuffing, homemade gravy and cranberry chutney on cornbread.
A take on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on five-grain bread boasting homemade nut butter, banana, infused-honey, and jelly (a blend of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherry and pomegranate). Bacon bits optional.
A Vietnamese pork banh mi, a sandwich with pulled pork, pickled cabbage, vegetables, sriracha aioli and infused garlic butter on a French roll.
Truffle popcorn.

The Samich truck is a promotion for Angel’s company MagicalButter.com, which sells an appliance intended to help people make cannabis-infused cooking oils at home and wants to market itself to medical marijuana patients.

All dishes are in the suggested serving size, which is worth noting in light of growing food safety concerns about pot edibles. Maureen Dowd recently wrote a column in the New York Times about getting uncomfortably high from eating an entire pot chocolate bar in Denver because the label didn’t warn novices to break it up into 16 pieces. Last month, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed two safety bills to both ensure labels are not misleading and attempt to determine an appropriate serving size of concentrated marijuana to prevent overeating in light of recent deaths.

In Washington state, regulations require samples to pass a “microbiological screening” and commercial pot kitchens to be inspected before such chefs can be licensed, the Associated Press recently reported. Marijuana retail sales are expected to start in a couple of weeks, and Governor Jay Inslee just announced an “emergency set of rules” ordering approval of marijuana edible packaging to make sure there are not cartoonish images that may appeal to children, The New York Times reports this week.

In general, when it comes to consuming cannabis-infused food and drink as safely as possible, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, less is more,” says Angel. “Take it slow.”
 

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http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/police-give-out-scratch-sniff-3765706




(UK) Police give out scratch and sniff cannabis cards so locals can spot weed aroma


Scratch and sniff cards loaded with the smell of cannabis are being handed out in 17 police forces across England and Wales.

The idea is to educate the public about what the plants smell like so they can alert police to dope farms in their area.

National Police Lead for Cannabis, Chief Superintendent Bill Jephson said: "Those who commercially cultivate cannabis are serious and organised criminals often involved in other criminal ventures.

"Houses in residential areas are used to produce the cannabis, which brings violent offenders into the heart of our communities and leads to a real risk of fire and flood.

"Ordinary people who come forward and share their concerns will be our best source of information. The campaign explains the tell-tale signs that a cannabis farm exists and how people can ensure the information they have gets to the police in confidence. I would urge everyone to act as our eyes and ears or, in this case, our noses to sniff out the criminals."

Today's campaign, targeting cannabis growing hotspots, is the second phase in a publicity drive that was launched last spring.

According to figures from the UK Human Trafficking Centre, in 2012 around a fifth of human trafficking victims thought to have been criminally exploited were forced to get involved in growing cannabis. Most of those, 81%, were children.

Last summer, energy watchdog OFGEM revealed that a third of all costs relating to energy theft were as a result of cannabis farms.

Founder and Chairman of Crimestoppers, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, said: "The campaign run by Crimestoppers last year highlighted just how much people care about removing cannabis farms from their community.

"Quite often, those running cannabis cultivation operations are also involved in other serious and organised crime, such as human trafficking and possession of weapons."

Forces taking part in the campaign today include Greater Manchester Police and Hampshire Constabulary.

Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes, from Hampshire Police, said: "Cannabis is often seen as harmless and somehow acceptable. This is just not the case. It's harmful to use and many people including children, across the world, are exploited in furtherance of the cannabis trade."

As well as giving the public a whiff of the drug, the campaign highlights telltale signs that a house or flat is being used as a cannabis farm, including constantly covered windows and strong lighting always being on.

There may be visitors at anti-social hours, high levels of heat and condensation, the buzz of ventilators and lots of cables.
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/26/cannabis-legalisation-uk_n_5532531.html




British Medical Association's Decision To Reject Cannabis Legalisation Branded 'Unscientific And Unethical'


Britain's leading doctors have faced a fierce backlash from a drug policy expert after they this week voted down a motion that would push for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK.

In what has been called a "very strange" move, doctors at the British Medical Association's (BMA) annual representative meeting in Harrogate dismissed calls for drug legalisation to instead call for anyone born after the year 2000 to be banned from ever buying cigarettes.

One of the experts who advised the Uruguayan government on its landmark decision legalise cannabis told The Huffington Post UK that drug reform is now necessary in the UK.

Steve Rolles, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, branded the BMA's reaction to the motion "both unscientific and unethical."

"Using punishment and mass criminalisation of young people as a public health strategy is an very odd thing for the BMA to endorse," he said.

"It effectively means directing resources away from proven health interventions into ineffective criminal justice enforcement.

"It's a position that is both unscientific and unethical. Doctors should 'first do no harm', yet 50 years of prohibition shows it is profoundly harmful."

He told HuffPost UK that it was "disappointing" that the motion was "so incoherent."

The motion stated:

"That this Meeting agrees with the Chief Medical Officer that drug addiction is a health problem resembling alcoholism and smoking and asks the BMA to promote the legalisation of smoking cannabis."
Mr Rolles branded the wording "bizarre", and said it "probably doomed the motion before it was even debated."

"This wasted opportunity is particularly disappointing given that the the BMA produced an excellent report just last year highlighting the harms of prohibition, and the potential benefits of regulation," he said.

In a controversial bid to stop youngsters from taking up smoking in the first place, the BMA said that anyone born after the millennium should be prohibited from purchasing cigarettes. Such a measure could create the first "smoke free generation", medics said.

But Mr Rolles said that in practical terms "it's laughable - as one of the opposing speakers noted."

"It seems to come from the some well intentioned but ill considered place as the cannabis decision.

"Cigarette sales to children are already banned - an arbitrary ban on some but not all adults would be impossible to enforce and overtly discriminatory. It would mean in 2030 that you would need ID to prove you were 31, not 30, to buy cigarettes.

"Improved regulation, public education, treatment and harm reduction such as NRT and e-cigs are already dramatically reducing cigarette use. Defaulting to a prohibition model that we know is likely to increase harms rather than reduce them would be a big mistake."

More than 90 celebrities, politicians, lawyers and health experts wrote to the prime minister this week in an urgent call for a review of the government's policy on illegal drugs.

The call comes as part of a global day of action against the so-called "war on drugs" and protests are planned to take place in 100 cities on Thursday.

Cities including Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City and Rome will be calling for action, while in London there is expected to be a public gathering in Parliament Square where a billboard has been erected to face Parliament which will "underscore the Prime Minister’s inaction on drug policy."
 

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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...966862152?nk=82c43153c53def1ebcf26caa4c30e9da




Genetic study clouds thinking on cannabis use


A GENETIC link between marijuana and schizophrenia may have been discovered in a groundbreaking study of more than 2000 Australians.

The study — led by King’s *College London and involving the Queensland Brain Institute and the QIMR Berghofer Medical *Research Institute — examined the genetic risk profile of 2082 otherwise healthy Australians.

Researchers found the genes known to be associated with schizophrenia were more often found in those 1011 people who had used cannabis — or used it in greater quantities.

Writing in Molecular Psychi*atry, the researchers suggest the same genes might be responsible for cannabis use and schizophrenia, countering the popularly held belief that smoking the drug increases the risk of the *mental illness.

While there might be a causal relationship in both directions, they call for more research and more informed debate around *decriminalisation, given their study raised the possibility that “the risks of cannabis use could be overestimated”.

“This is an important subtlety to consider when calculating the economic and health impact of cannabis use,’’ they concluded.

Cannabis is the dominant illicit drug in Australia and may be on the rise.

Market research commissioned last year by the Department of Health found that 24 per cent of Australians aged between 15 and 24 had used cannabis, compared with 18 per cent six years earlier, while previous research found more Australians reported recent use of cannabis.

Schizophrenia is thought to *affect about one million Australians, who often suffer other health complaints — not to *mention *social stigma — and on average live 25 years less than the general population.

Matthew Large from the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW said there was a significant body of evidence that cannabis use precipitated psychosis and probably caused some cases. “However, a causal association never explained why more than half of all people with psychosis smoke cannabis,’’ Dr Large said.

“The presence of a shared *genetic vulnerability for psychosis could, if replicated, add greatly to our understanding of both addiction and psychosis.”

While the sale and possession of cannabis is illegal in Australia, the per-capita rate of cannabis use is one of the highest in the world and locally produced drugs have high levels of the main psycho*active component, THC.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of NSW found that 43 per cent of drugs police seized on the streets, and 54 per cent seized from cultivation sites, contained more than 15 per cent THC — the level recommended in The Netherlands as warranting reclassification of cannabis as a hard drug.

The latest findings come as a Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform — comprising members of the *Coalition, Labor and Greens — pushes to end the stigma around marijuana and to overturn a 50-year ban on medicinal cannabis use in Australia.

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia last year noted significant evidence that patients with certain neuropathic conditions could benefit from cannabis, and strong *community support, but also a *reluctance by governments to follow other *jurisdictions — *including Canada, Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Italy and some states of the US — where medicinal can*nabis is legal.
 

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