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COVID19 update: Why is South Africa Lifting Restrictions Amid Rising Cases?

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Coronavirus cases have been rising rapidly in South Africa. However, due to the deteriorating economic conditions, its president has lifted the restrictions on lockdown.

Current Situation

What started as a minor disease in the heart of Wuhan, China, Coronavirus has now taken over most of the world. The cases have been following an exponential growth, with thousands of new ones arising each day. Over the course of 8 months, the virus has managed to affect over 100 countries.

As of today, the novel coronavirus has affected 8,516,854 people and caused 453,586 deaths. Despite numerous efforts to control its transmission, the infection has spread like wild fire. Particularly in the United States, where more than 18000 new cases per day have been reported.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, scientists and researchers have been trying to find a possible cure and develop a vaccine. However, up till now, none of the two are available. Scientists believe it will take around a year for an effective vaccine to be developed. Hence, there is a possibility the vaccine would be available by the end of this year.

Also read: Coronavirus: U.K Approves Use of £5 Life-Saving Drug Dexamethasone

The epidemic has led to a global lockdown. Governments have imposed restrictions in numerous areas to prevent the further transmission of the disease. South Africa followed the same footsteps.

However, recently, Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, eased these restrictions, even though the cases are increasing rapidly. The decision was made to reduce the deterioration of the economic conditions in the country.

It is clear, the decision will not prove effective in the long run. As the coronavirus cases will increase, the economic crisis will only worsen.

Previous Measures

By the end of March, South Africa went into one of the strictest lockdowns across the globe. Alcohol and cigarette sales were banned, and movement was almost completely restricted. This slowed the spread of the disease in the initial period, allowing the medical experts to prepare for the future. This included getting hospitals and ventilators ready for the patients.

Source: Financial Times

Reasons for Lifting Lockdown

The extreme lockdown led to an economic crisis in the country. Therefore, pushing the government to has ease the restrictions. Casinos, hairdressing salons, hotels and sit-down restaurants will now be open for the public – among other corporations and businesses. The officials have not yet announced a date for the implementation though.

In the start of June, South Africa opened their mining and manufacturing businesses, allowing them to operate at their normal levels. The government also lifted the ban on alcohol sales for use at home from Monday to Thursday.

Source: US News

The country currently has 80,412 confirmed cases with 1,674 deaths. In the last week, the number of affected patients has increased by 37%. This is still with the lockdown. Extrapolating for the time period without such restrictions, the increase would be exponential.

Also read: Two New Coronavirus Cases Emerge: Did New Zealand lift lockdown too soon?

The easing of restrictions was to help small scale businesses to survive the major economic crisis. According to Vumani Mkhize, a business reporter for the BBC, South Africa’s economy was adversely affected due to the coronavirus crisis and the lifting of lockdown would help the struggling businesses.

Overall, the lockdown greatly slowed down the transmission of coronavirus infection. The number of reported cases of flu and pneumonia were also considerably lesser than previous years. Further, the ban on alcohol reduced the homicide and domestic abuse cases as well.

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Cannabis

Nunica town of Michigan gets its first legal Weed Retailer this week

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Nunica, Michigan, gets first weed store

In the United States, the battle for legal cannabis remains an ongoing slow burn. In recent highlights, the state of Vermont finally gained a bill that decriminalizes recreational cannabis. Aside from that, encouraging news on this front seems few and far in between. The most notable recent exception goes to the town of Nunica in Ottawa County, Michigan.

In Nunica, a small town in Ottawa County (which, unlike the other Ottawa, never had legal recreational cannabis) a peculiar shop opened up. Settled in an area called Crockery Township, the store goes by the name of the ‘Exit 9 Provisionary’. While the name sounds spartan, this little shop holds the title of the first cannabis retailer in the whole county. This quirky designation only took effect just this Monday.

The dispensary, owned by a company called ‘Agri-Med‘, becomes a watershed monument

While the store itself comes off as simple and unassuming, visitors must know that they come across history. Michigan, subject to decades of repressive, Puritanical laws, repressive as they were, saw extreme measures like Prohibition take hold across the country. This meant that attitudes towards alcohol and cannabis suffered. Consequently, Michigan only gained legalization of recreational weed in 2018.

This Agri-Med owned store simply exists apart from the era it’s in. While the entire nation grapples with primitive laws that make cannabis federally illegal, Ottawa County thrives. The town of Nunica may have only a small population, with limited demand for cannabis, but the freedom to sell must feel exhilarating. The entire state has yet to properly embrace their cannabis-legal legislation. And furthermore, the cannabis industry as a whole is still in its nascent stages.

Setting up the store, and dealing with the government permits, took great effort

The CEO of Agri-Med, Greg Maki, recently expressed his enthusiasm for expanding operations in Nunica. He claims he felt a personal connection to Ottawa County, and recalls its staunch Prohibitionist stance until recently. In addition, he himself went to great lengths to install Exit 9 Provisionary.

The process took a great deal of negotiations, according to Maki. The local townspeople were persuaded and their concerns assuaged. Also, the local politicians and people of influence needed individual persuasion too. To achieve this, Maki says that he and his team collaborated with the local Health Department. Together, the two entities promoted cannabis awareness and education using fliers and posters across greater Ottawa County. Even still, he cautions that some work remains. This includes the official inauguration of the store and precautionary measures taken to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite taking place in a small town, the pro-cannabis movement in Nunica accomplished something remarkable

Nunica gained overnight something a major metropolis like New York City still lacks, even after decades of campaigning. The freedom to sell, distribute, produce and consume legal cannabis remains an underappreciated boon. Many states vie for the title of the “most progressive”, but given the odds against them, it seems Michigan may have trumped California. Of course, the next step is to encourage and normalize recreational cannabis consumption. This will serve the movement by ensuring more and more people take part in the growing cannabis industry.

Speaking of the cannabis industry, it astounds economists just how well the ongoing pandemic impacted it. From increasing demand for weed to funding scholarships for marginalized communities, the benefits of the cannabis trade seem countless. Stay tuned for the latest on this!

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Cannabis

New Vermont Bill Decriminalizes Recreational Cannabis And Pardons Related Convictions

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New Vermont Bill

Cannabis, over the past two decades, went from an almost universally banned substance to one with major acceptance. Across greater Europe, from Scandinavia to the Netherlands, the drug goes legal and regulated. In other developed nations, like Australia and Canada, the legalization of cannabis happened long ago. And now, the last, and toughest, hold out remains the United States of America. Few states permit recreational marijuana, which is why the state of Vermont finally has its turning point.

Just this week, official Senate meetings to discuss proposals yielded a victory for cannabis supporters. The new bill, S.54, sought decriminalization of recreational cannabis and amnesty for any convicted on cannabis related past charges. In addition, the bill allows the regulation, distribution and sale of cannabis across the entire state. All it needs is an official signature.

A vote to pass the bill this week resulted in a total bicameral compromise

The two-house system in state level Senate politics decides many of the laws passed. The bill, S.54, gained approval by the House of Representatives as a bicameral party compromise. This means that the bill had the backing of both parties after negotiations. The resultant vote, at 23 to 6 against, led to a landslide victory. Therefore, the pro-cannabis movement won the battle in Vermont.

All that remains to see the bill made into law is the governor’s signature. The governor of Vermont, Philip Scott, officially awaits the letter to reach his desk formally. Moreover, he still possesses the right to decline signing it. However, such a move would prove counter-intuitive and simply delay the inevitable. As such, experts agree that Scott, through various recent expressions of approval, already supports the decriminalization of cannabis. Hence, his signature comes all but guaranteed.

The Senate also discussed finer details about cannabis legalization and implementation, and expungement in the case of cannabis-related convictions

The adoption of cannabis as a legal item of sale will clearly not be anything but gradual. Great focus needs to go to the taxation, regulation, economic adaptation and safety before the roll-out. Luckily, this aspect of legalization already is pre-planned. The Senate meeting extended to the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) limits in products, which controls the “high”. In addition, they also went over safety precautions in users, recommended guidelines and established fixed tax levels.

The other aspect of the bill, the social equity program, also underwent expounding. This program aims to compensate those impacted by the disastrous War On Drugs, which led to widespread disproportionate convictions. Families and communities suffered because of these actions taken against those involved with illegal cannabis. Hence, the new bill hopes to ease the suffering of such families.

Other states could learn from Vermont’s example, and hopefully something will change across the United States

Cannabis, unfortunately, remains federally illegal across the United States of America. Try as they might, legalizing cannabis state by state is difficult. At the moment, most conservative states like Texas bear suspicious and intolerant biases towards cannabis. Hence, unless activism takes place in every state, and gradual decriminalization occurs, nothing can happen. Once enough states take to decriminalizing it, a federal level decision may finally occur.

Until the day comes where cannabis no longer is subject to prejudice and intolerance, work must continue to change perceptions. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the growing cannabis industry may just yet spark change. And it doesn’t hurt to have notable celebrities embracing the cause, either.

 

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Cannabis

Patients Prescribed Cannabis In Georgia, USA, Can’t Legally Obtain It

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Georgia cannabis patients can't get theirs

The United States of America often astounds the rest of the world with just how ludicrous its laws seem. Take the example of recreational cannabis, which remains federally illegal since decades. However, a few select states, such as California, Colorado and Georgia, allow small quantities of legally purchased cannabis. Everywhere else, possession of cannabis remains a misdemeanor offense, and other disproportionately severe punitive measures.

In Georgia, in particular, the case of medicinal marijuana recently emerged as troubling. For many patients, medicinal weed simply is a lifesaver and experts agree that it packs unique therapeutic effects. However, in the state of Georgia in particular, it seems like a cruel joke that obtaining said weed becomes near impossible. And this is despite the fact that it’s been legal to possess since 2015.

Despite the usage of medicinal cannabis being legal in the state of Georgia, purchase or sale remains illegal

As far as ridiculous laws go, this one stands out as extremely cruel. With doctors able to prescribe doses of cannabis to ailing patients, the lack of any places to legally obtain it seems absurd. And no, buying cannabis from a shady back alley dealer is not a safe idea. Not just because of the chance of getting caught but because there’s no guarantee the product is what you pay for. Only a legal and regulated avenue available would help.

In 2019, at the behest of several concerned citizens, official government action started. The state governor set up the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission in 2019 to discuss this terrible issue. And yet, the problem still stands. This is because the panel only convened once, before the COVID-19 pandemic put the matter on hold indefinitely. Thus, millions of patients needing their drug have no one else to ask for help from.

For many patients with a variety of ailments, medicinal marijuana works wonders for their health

Medical science generally holds several consensuses on the health effects of different substances. No respectable doctor will ever claim that arsenic is good for your health. And when it comes to cannabis, the leading consensus after extensive studies and research holds opinions that cannabis may hold several cures. Weed, which consists primarily of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), exerts effects on the body’s physiology. This leads to improvements in breathing, blood circulation, mood, and pain relief.

Various types of disorders that lead to seizures, such as West Syndrome, in all age groups exist. Fortunately, cannabis is also a known therapeutic agent for reducing the intensity of seizures. In many young individuals, such as a recent UK toddler, it offers marked improvements to health. Furthermore, cannabis offers health benefits to patients with PTSD, anxiety, extreme pain and even in certain cancers. However, there also exists evidence that in the smoked form, it can lead to cardiovascular issues in the long term. Hence, edibles or inhalables suit most users better, and offer better efficacy of the weed.

The United States sorely needs to fix its haphazard and primitive legislation regarding both recreational and medicinal cannabis use

Several conservative states, like Texas, where the most anti-cannabis attitudes prevail, reflect that in their legislation. From introducing ridiculous hemp regulation laws, to launching an entire War On Drugs, they’ve done it all. None of that changes the fact that cannabis stays, and will always do so.

The time comes now that lawmakers, urged by the people, reexamine the science. And then, hopefully change laws for the better. That remains to be seen, however.

 

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