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Medicinal Cannabis Legalized In Australia But People Opt For Illegal Sources

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Getting access to medicinal cannabis through legal cannabis companies is a huge challenge in Australia. Hence, people have to wait for a long period of time due to some significant paperwork. As a result, getting cannabis from illegal sources is more common.

Source: Open Access Government

Grace is a cancer patient in Australia. According to reports, Grace was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of this year. As a result, she has turned to medicinal cannabis.

Series Of Events In Grace’s Life

She was approached by an illegal source through which she could get medicinal cannabis very quickly. But, her malignancy was quite aggressive and the time was of essence. Hence, she decided to go for the non-medical option.

She even received Cannabidiol (CBD) oil through a post in an olive oil bottle. However, she was concerned about the illegalities of the drug and was quite stressed about the chemical composition of the CBD oil she was consuming.

If any one of you get it through a medical source and it is approved, there are a few strict processes and procedures to create that oil. Whereas, on the other hand if you’re obtaining it through an illegal source, it’s quite difficult to know exactly what you are consuming.

Hence, Grace decided to have another glance at getting it through a medical source. However, she ended up sticking with the illegal source. As a result, this turned out to be the most simple and budget-friendly option for her.

According to Nicholas LintzerisGraces’s case is not uncommon. He stated that: “The legal system we’ve had available now has been in place for about four years, and in the early days for the first couple of years we had a very clunky system.”

Also Read: Cannabis Might Be The Cure For COVID-19

The Study

A study was conducted on how the citizens of Australia use medicinal cannabis. Professor Lintzeris was the leading and foremost researcher in it (for everything from chronic pain to mental health conditions). An online survey was also conducted on more than 1300 people. This survey revealed that while cannabis is largely used for medicinal purposes, the maximum of respondents don’t get it from their doctor.

In order to find well educated and concerned doctors was a difficult task. The products were expensive too. Severe challenges such as lots of hindrances, paper work and much more were faced by them. Most of the respondents were working. They were looking after their kids, mums and dads along with their jobs. Hence, it became a matter of concern for them to be a part of such kind of illegal activities.

Access To Legal Medicinal Cannabis

People can have access to legal medicinal cannabis under the Special Access Scheme. It is under the management of Therapeutic Goods Administration and all people need is a restricted prescription for it.

The doctor will sign an application in place of you. It must clearly convey a message that you have a medical reason for accessing cannabis.

TGA passed more than 18,000 applications for medical cannabis between the beginning of 2020 and May 31. 

This system has further improved to a great extent since the time medicinal cannabis was legalized in 2016 at federal level. In the former times, people used to wait for around two months or more for the approval from TGA. However, now they only need to wait for two to four weeks.

Nonetheless, Professor Lintzeris certifies that a few parts of the law are still lingering behind. Driving under the influence of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) is a criminal activity even when you are prescribed medical cannabis.

Also Read: Colorado To Expand Cannabis Equity And Offer Pardon

As a result, the patients are advised to wait five days before driving. Otherwise, fines are imposed or licenses are suspended. Professor Lintzeris further states that: “Unfortunately, a THC-based medicine gets caught up in that drug driving. We have this anachronism in Australia where no other medication that’s legally prescribed is subject to the same drug driving issues as medical cannabis.”

This is something which became a source of stress for Grace. Her biggest concern was that if she might be stopped while driving and if she has registered for THC in a random drug test, she can still lose her license.

Concerns Regarding Quality Control

Similarly like Grace, Professor Lintzeris states that there are dangers if people are self medicating rather than seeing a doctor. There are also variations in THC or CBD content in the set of products you ordered last month and the ones you’re using now.

Hence, despite the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Australia, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners are stressing for high quality research into the safety and effectiveness of it.

Even after four months of using CBD oil sent by an illegal producer, Grace is willing to go through all sorts of risks. Particularly because she doesn’t need to go for lengthy paperwork along with other hurdles such as the involvement of various other people. Moreover, through an illegal producer, she had an easy access which was cost beneficial too. Hence, she decided to choose the illegal source.

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Connection of Marijuana usage with Autism stirs concerns

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Studies are showing increased connection between autism and marijuana usage

With the legalization of cannabis use globally, healthcare experts are sounding increased distress alarms. According to the latest researches conducted by related groups, the incidence of autism in children is on the rise due to increased marijuana consumption by either one or both parents of the unborn child.

Studies conducted by some of the prestigious institutions have backed these fears with their in-depth analysis of the matter.

 

Relationship between marijuana usage and autism in children

When Expecting Mothers Smoke Weed

Escalated marijuana usage by expectant mothers during their gestational period is supposedly causing a rise in the cases of autism.

Studies carried out in Canada between April 2007 and March 2012 have backed these claims with the thorough scientific analysis of researchers.

According to the outcomes of the research, marijuana exposure during gestation increases the risk of autism development in children by almost 50% .

Around 2.2 percent of the subjects faced greater intellectual difficulties like speech delays, smaller attention spans and social anxiety later on in their lives. These figures were in contrast to 1.4 percent of  children with developmental delays born to mothers did not smoke weed during gestation.

Daniel Corsi, an epidemiologist and PhD holder in Health Research Methodology, reported the findings of these studies in Nature Medicine.

Another supporter of the main findings of these studies is Dr. Torri Metz, a clinical researcher and expert in the fields of obstetrics, gynecology and fetal development. She holds great interests in the impacts of marijuana intake on fetal development during pregnancy. She strictly advocates the idea that marijuana usage impacts fetal neurodevelopment negatively, with the true extents still under investigation.

Since the magnitude of marijuana usage on fetal brain development is largely unknown, doctors  discourage it while pregnant or breastfeeding.

 When Fathers smoke weed

Duke University Medical Center has conducted an interesting study on the subject. As per the research findings, autism in children also has some connections with marijuana intake by fathers.

According to the study, a particular gene undergoes genetic changes with increased marijuana usage. This gene is related directly related with autism and the changes can be passed on to the offspring.

These genetic changes are triggered in the sperm, once again establishing a negative relationship between neurological development and marijuana usage.

“This study is the first to demonstrate an association between a man’s cannabis use and changes of a gene in sperm that has been implicated in autism,” said senior author Susan Murphy, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine.

The entire team behind this research was skeptical about the idea that marijuana is benign in nature, and urged further research and studies on the subject.

With so much data that already discourages the use of alcohol by expecting mothers, there remains very less doubt pertaining to marijuana usage.

Why is marijuana getting more medical attention?

Despite of all of these research results, there are segments of stakeholders that see no harm in marijuana consumption. They argue that marijuana intake is a safer option for some to get relief from nausea, stress and anxiety which are a part and parcel of pregnancy and some other diseases as well.

Some healthcare providers actually encourage the use of cannabis to treat autism. According to them, it is an ‘effective option’ for dealing with conditions like seizures, anger fists and depression in such patients. They argue that cannabis actually improves the quality of life of autistic patients by huge percentages.

With increased legalization of marijuana and many related products, there are chances that consumption is going to see further increases. This means that the need for research on marijuana usage and its impacts on individual health is higher than ever before.

 

 

 

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Patient limit on caregivers entices mixed reactions among marijuana stakeholders

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The Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts recently announced its policy to raise patient to caregiver ratios in the state. The establishment of this ratio has received different reactions from stakeholders in the marijuana industry whereby the response to the decision has been extremely varied.

The patient:nurse dispute of Massachusetts

The conflict of patient to nurse ratio has been an ongoing debate between marijuana stakeholders in the state of Massachusetts.

This equivocal matter has continued for more than two decades now. Consequently, these contentions have led to the conduction of an indirect initiated state statue in the region.

In 2018, Massachusetts was asked to participate in the Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative. The purpose of this was to get the opinion of the majority on the issue.

The results of this ballot showed that about 70.24% of the ballot participants were against patient assignment limits on caregivers.

This was a huge disappointment for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, whereby by a lack of limit was sighted as a an exploitation of caregivers. Likewise, a lack of limits is also a huge risk to the well-being of the patients which subsequently puts them in harm’s way.

In comparison to this, these results were much celebrated as a victory by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association. The president, Steve Walsh was content with the creation of the MHHA program to address overburdened caregivers. These results had allowed hospitals to reduce their nursing staff, helping to keep their costs low.

Changing Marijuana Policies in Massachusetts

Massachusetts was among the first states to ban marijuana usage back in the day. In recent years, the state has witnessed marijuana policy revisions that have been monumental.

These years have seen a legalization of marijuana consumption at different levels across the state. 2014 allowed  medicinal consumption, followed by subsequent recreational use permission in 2016.

Stakeholder groups like Cannabis Control Commission, Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance and Massachusetts Nurses Association were among the top most supporters of this legalization initiative.

The involvement of such well structured organizations had a massive impact on flexing marijuana policies. Their efforts finally made Massachusetts the eighteenth state to legalize the use of marijuana.

Marijuana patient limit : A Clash of interests of Stakeholders

The irony as of now is that following the public hearings held on August 3, there has been a clash of interests between the stakeholders of the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.

The reason? Contradictions relating to patient to caregiver ratios.

According to the new policies pertaining to medical marijuana usage, the patient to caregiver ratio would now be 10:1. This means that every Medical Marijuana treatment facility will have one caregiver for accommodating patient needs.

This new development has invited mixed reactions from different stake holders of the marijuana industry.

Changes in marijuana policies has placed 10 marijuana patients under one caregiver, worrying highly dependent patients.

For stake holding groups like the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, the increased ratio of medical marijuana patients to caregivers is not only going to diminish the quality of care that each patient receives, but will also increase chances of an unregulated ‘gray market’ .

The reason for this being the authority  marijuana care-givers will or already have as per state laws of the region. Furthermore, some Medical Marijuana facilities also have the approval to cultivate marijuana for their patients. This has become raise doubts regarding legal compliance and well will be carried out.

For the most part, the association supports multiple patients under caregivers, it is but it is particularly against the proposed limit number of ten patients. The only encouragement seen by this association is the expected reduction in marijuana costs for patients whereof caregivers will provide the drug at prices lower than pharma companies.

The current ratio of 10:1 is an encouraging figure for the nurses in the Medical Marijuana treatment centers. Consequently, it can act as a compensation to the previously faced defeat in  Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative of 2018.

With further flexibility in marijuana laws, these facilities can expect an increased percentage of patients. Regulating them with limiting patient number per healthcare worker is surely going to be move in a positive direction.

 

 

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New Marijuana Policy And The ‘Collective Awakening’

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Medicinal marijuana is now legal for medicinal usage after recent marijuana policy changes.

The impact that BLM has had on bringing about policy changes concerning marijuana is irrefutable. These new and relaxed marijuana policies can trigger undulating cumulative effects on American society as a whole. The policies have addressed racism, pointed loopholes in the law enforcement system, and targeted police brutality at the core.

These much-needed marijuana policy changes have given many new perspectives to the entire American nation, resulting in a ‘collective awakening‘.

With these changes in policies, governments, lawmakers and the general public are now seeing the true rationale behind the BLM movement. The question that remains unanswered is if this ‘collective awakening’ is going to flex marijuana policies at the federal level as well.

Black Lives Matter movement and its struggle

There comes a point in every realm’s history where an unfortunate event changes the destiny of its people. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a similar struggle by African-Americans that will become a landmark in history for future generations, particularly due to its impact on the revision of marijuana policies.

This movement has successfully unearthed some major discrepancies in penal laws. It pinpoints racism as the major reason behind an over-zealous application of laws and disciplinary action against particular ethnicities.

Unfortunately, this unfair treatment has ignited some breakneck hatred and insecurity in large segments of the American population that needs to be taken seriously.

 Impact of the Black Lives Matter Movement on marijuana policies

The protests carried out under the manifesto of the BLM movement have been substantially successful in softening marijuana laws.

To begin with, the proscription of marijuana has derived its roots from xenophobia itself. In 1910, the huge influx of Mexican immigrants enticed the criminalization of the previously legal marijuana usage.

Since then, marijuana users have been victims of racism, bigotry, and the undeniable aggressive use of force by police.

The flexibility in marijuana laws across different states in the country is a valuable move towards reducing these racial discrepancies. With these changes, cases of police brutality on the bases of the race will hopefully see a significant decline.

Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have pointed out that African-Americans have always been targets of harsher prosecutions. The convictions faced by their white country fellowmen are much lenient, despite more or less similar consumption rates.

According to researches published in theuncovery.org, a black person is almost four times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana than a white-skinned individual convicted of the same crime.

Almost 8 million arrests made in the country were related to marijuana possession between the years 2001 and 2010. This constituted about 88% of all arrests made during the period, with African-Americans making up the majority.

These figures clearly establish the changes that will occur in the prosecution and convictions following cannabis policy changes.

‘Collective Awakening’ through marijuana policies

Eradicating of past records related to cannabis crimes, widespread medicinal usage, and flexible recreational use are all examples of the steps taken by lawmakers towards ensuring a racially balanced society and fair law enforcement.

Marijuana-related crimes saw an estimated expenditure of $496 million during the years 2001 and 2010.  The adjudication of cases relating to marijuana possession during the same period saw a disbursement of $1.4 million.

Without the recent policy changes, expenditures would have reached about $20 million in the upcoming years. Worthy projects like healthcare, education, and infrastructure will now benefit from the redirection of marijuana-related government expenditures.

However, the cracks created in the foundation of the society cannot be filled with this ‘collective awakening’ alone. There is a lot more that needs to be done across all levels to ensure equality and justice for all. It requires an across the board tolerance and acceptance of different ethnicities, religions, and sexuality.

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