Observing the world of cannabis
The Dutch state earns 400 million € annually from coffeeshop taxes
The Netherlands: Tax revenues The Dutch state earns 400 million euros annually in tax revenues from the sales of cannabis in coffee shops. Sales in the sector total around 2 billion euros, according to conservative estimates by TV programme Reporter. Reporter calculates that the some 730 coffee shops in the Netherlands sell around 265,000 kilos of hashish and cannabis annually. The bulk of this is grown in the Netherlands.
Canada: Middle class loves cannabis. A new study says the drug is a hit with all kinds of Canadians. A variety of educated, middle-class Canadians are "making a conscious, but careful choice to use marijuana" to relax or focus on leisure activities, say researchers behind a new study spotlighting smoking of the drug behind the nation's picket fences. These people might drive minivans to their full-time jobs or run a household, but, come time to unwind, it's not Dr. Phil who's calming their nerves. "It's an illegal activity, so it's still something people do in secret, usually in the privacy of their own home," says Geraint Osborne, whose study is published in the spring edition of the journal Substance Use and Misuse. "They're a little reluctant to come forward and talk about it, using the phrase that they're still 'in the closet.'" A qualitative study of 41 adult Canadians nationwide suggests people of all ages and educational backgrounds are lighting up. Mr. Osborne, from the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary's Curtis Fogel led the study, which shows most of the participants smoke marijuana to loosen up or enhance various leisure activities. "Music, television, movies, computer games, creative endeavours, the outdoors, sex ... they find marijuana makes all those things more
pleasurable," says Mr. Osborne, an associate professor of sociology.
USA: A man who was denied a liver transplant largely because he used cannabis with medical approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C has died. Timothy Garon, 56, died on 1 May, a week after a doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list. The team had previously told him it would not consider placing him on the list until he completed a 60-day drug-treatment class. The case highlights an ethical consideration for those allocating organs for transplant: whether using cannabis with a doctor's blessing should be held against a dying patient in need of a transplant. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the transplant system of the USA, leaves it to individual hospitals to develop criteria for transplant candidates. At some, people who use "illicit substances" - including cannabis for medicinal purposes, even in the dozen states that allow it - are automatically rejected. Dr. Brad Roter, who authorized the patient to smoke cannabis to alleviate nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Mr. Garon were to need a transplant. No one tracks how many patients are denied transplants over medical cannabis use, but this is not a single case.
UK: Cannabis is to be reclassified as a class B drug, home secretary Jacqui Smith has said. She said that she wanted to reverse Tony Blair's 2004 downgrading of the drug because of "uncertainty" over its impact on mental health. The move from class C means the maximum prison sentence for possessing cannabis rises from two years to five years. Her statement to Members of Parliament came despite the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs' review - commissioned by Gordon Brown - saying cannabis should stay in class C.
USA: Letter to DEA. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers wants the
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to explain its increased use of "paramilitary-style enforcements raid" and property forfeiture orders against medical cannabis patients and suppliers in California. With drug trafficking and violence from
international cartels on the rise, "do you think the DEA's limited resources are best utilized conducting enforcement raids on individuals and their caregivers who are conducting themselves legally under California law?" he said in a letter of 29 April to the
agency. Californian mayors and lawmakers were urging him to hold hearings, but first, "I want to give you the opportunity to respond to these complaints."
May 19th 2008
Science: In a study of Brown University in Rhode Island, USA, the association between substance use disorders and major depressive disorder was investigated in 460 participants with depression at ages 24 and 30. Stimulant use and depression were prospective risk factors for each other over the 6-year-period. Alcohol and cannabis use disorders were not robustly associated with depression.
The Greenish Warbler