Delta-8 THC and the UK: Is It Legal?

The introduction of delta-8 THC onto the scene in America has meant a different offering of THC, and a new legal predicament. Delta-8 has mainly been a US phenomenon, but as word spreads, so does THC. Here’s a look at Delta-8 THC and the UK, to see how the word of delta-8 is spreading so far.

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The UK and cannabis laws

Before getting into delta-8 THC specifically, and how relevant it is in the UK, let’s remember that delta-8 is still cannabis (or hemp, to be exact). And the UK does have very particular cannabis laws.

Cannabis law is governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK, and has been illegal as per this legislation since 1971. It is a class B drug under this law. In 2004, it was actually changed to a class C drug, before being moved right back to class B in 2009. Class B drug possession crimes result in up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. For small amounts, cops are more likely to issue a ₤90 on-the-spot fine.

Drug penalties are dependent on different factors, like how much cannabis the person had, where the offender was found with the cannabis, personal history, and whatever other relevant factors are present. Drug policies in the UK were reviewed in 2019, but sadly, no change was made at that time to cannabis scheduling or penalties. So to be clear, the UK has no actual decriminalization policy for small amounts of cannabis.

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For selling/supply crimes, the sentence can be as high as 14 years with an unlimited fine, or both. The highest sentences are saved for large-scale operations, with smaller offences considered the same way as possession crimes, by looking at the amount the person is caught with, their history, and what the supply plan was. The amount an offender is caught with correlates to the ‘category of harm’. 200 kilograms or more is considered Category 1, 40 – 200 kilograms is Category 2, six – 40 grams is a Category 3 crime, and 100 grams or over is Category 4.

Personal cultivation is illegal in the UK, but medical cannabis cultivation is legal, along with medical cannabis which was legalized in 2018. In the country, the medical cannabis program is rather limited, offering only three pharmaceutical products, and an inability for home cultivation. As of yet, very few licenses have been given out, making cannabis medicines hard to obtain for citizens.

Conversely, and weirdly similar to many African countries, the UK has been growing medical cannabis for exportation, in 2016 growing as much as 95 tonnes according to the UN, and in 2017 exporting 2.1 tonnes, which was considered the highest amount for legal cannabis that year, comprising 67.7% of all legal cannabis exports for the year. That last part is a bit confusing though, as the majority of the production is actually being done by GW Pharmaceuticals, which happens to be based out of England.

Delta-9 THC

By now it’s pretty well-known that THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis plants. It appears in greater quantities in some plants, which are called marijuana, and is found significantly less in other cannabis plants, which are referred to as hemp. The chemical formulation for THC is C21H30O2. THC has been demonized for years, and even today is often thought of as only a compound to produce a high, while its medicinal benefits are often overlooked.

This study from 2019, The Association between Cannabis Product Characteristics and Symptom Relief sheds light on the necessity of THC more than other cannabinoids for symptom relief. It is, of course, THC which specifically sits in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty, and likely the main reason that cannabis as a whole, is still in schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances. These two UN treaties, regulate the global legality of cannabis.

Of course, we’re not talking about standard THC, but rather delta-8 THC, which is an isomer of delta-9. So, what’s the difference? Not a whole lot. Delta-9 THC comes from THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. THCA is the most abundant cannabinoid, and must be decarboxylated to become the delta-9 THC we’re familiar with. This happens when a carbon atom is removed from a chain with the release of a carbon dioxide molecule (CO2), and usually happens when cannabis is heated, or over the course of time.

delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC

Once it becomes delta-9 THC, a small proportion will oxidize (lose electrons) to form delta-8 THC. Since delta-8 THC comes from an oxidation process, it’s actually very stable when exposed to air, giving it an advantage over other cannabinoids like delta-9, which is not as stable due to oxidation.

While the previously mentioned statement is a proponent for delta-8 use, one of the major drawbacks in the miniscule amount found. After decarboxylation, delta-9 can account for up to 30% of some strains, whereas after oxidation, the resulting delta-8 THC generally only amounts to about 1%. In order to use delta-8 THC, it has to be a refined concentrate, sourced from delta-9. There has not yet been much research into delta-8 THC, but preliminary findings suggest that the psychoactive effect is approximately 50-75% less potent, and that it has shown to produce less anxiety in users, with a cleaner, clearer high. In fact, it is even said to heighten senses and perception in users.

In terms of medical benefits, the US National Cancer Institute defines delta-8 as an analogue of delta-9, and attributes it to medical properties like nausea and vomiting prevention (antiemetic), fighting anxiety and panic (anxiolytic), as a pain reliever (analgesic), as an appetite stimulator, and in preventing nerve cells from damage (neuroprotective). If you thought delta-8 was new, well, it’s not. Raphael Mechoulam, the guy who isolated THC in 1964, used delta-8 THC in research back in 1995, when he administered it to eight children with cancer who had been receiving chemotherapy. The delta-8 THC completely eradicated vomiting in the children.

Delta-8 was partially synthesized in 1941 by Roger Adams, with total synthesis complete by 1965. In terms of legality in the US, its main home, there is confusion and debate. Since delta-8 THC can be processed from either high THC marijuana, or low THC hemp, the production of it doesn’t have to break laws as it can be sourced from hemp. Under the 2018 US farm bill, this would afford it some legality. On the other hand, in August 2020, the DEA released an Interim Final Rule on hemp and hemp derivatives, stating “[a]ll synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.” As delta-8 THC might be termed ‘synthetically derived THC’, this would indicate it’s not legal.

Delta-8 THC and the UK

Delta-8 THC is so far a mainly US product with not as much popularity in the UK. One of the things we know about drugs though, is that when there’s a good one, it tends to gain popularity worldwide. So, it’s not surprising that the topic is being raised. When it comes to delta-8 THC, the UK government’s ‘Drug licensing factsheet: cannabis, CBD and other cannabinoids’ makes no specific mention of delta-8 THC.

It doesn’t come up as either of the two possibilities: ‘exempt product’ or ‘controlled substance’, which would determine legality and usage ability. This means there isn’t a regulated market for delta-8 THC in the UK, since the UK has no guidelines for it, and any delta-8 THC products bought in the UK, are unregulated with uncertain quality.

delta-8 THC UK

A quick internet search provides plenty of UK options for buying delta-8 THC products, regardless of regulation (it’s probably good to remember that recreational cannabis is also not regulated in most of the world, which hasn’t stopped global populations from smoking it without incident.) So, unlike standard marijuana, it isn’t being expressly illegalized, but without a legal grounding point, it’s a part of a plant that is technically illegal.

In the same way that the legal quandary exists in the US, it does in the UK too. The UK allows the production of hemp so long as the maximum THC level is .2% or less, which would indicate delta-8 can be legal as long as it’s sourced from these plants. On the other hand, THC is illegal, which would work to count it out. Perhaps, at some point, if regulation doesn’t change by the government, this might come to a head in court.

One of the interesting things about looking into the legality of delta-8 THC in the UK, is seeing all the questions being asked about it in forums. This can be seen in threads like these from Reddit, going back a few years, about legality and supply of delta-8.

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Conclusion

Delta-8 THC has been very slowly making its way toward the mainstream in the US, and hasn’t caught on as quickly in the UK. But no matter where it is now, it could be a whole new world by the end of 2021. Considering how quickly new trends can catch on, I’d stake a bet that within a year from now, some pharmaceutical company will have created a product that pushes delta-8 toward affirmative legality. In fact, unless it can be easily processed by users, it’s probably a great pharmaceutical investment. I expect it will have quite the global name for itself within the next couple years, in the US, the UK, and everywhere beyond.

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Resources

What Medical Conditions Could Benefit Most from Delta 8 THC?
Delta-8 THC Exploits Fantastic Legal Loophole

Is Delta 8 THC Legal in Your State?
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What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Delta-8 THC Contaminated Products, or Just Bad Press?
Can Delta-8 THC Make You Fail a Drug Test?
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers).  Hemp-Derived DELTA 8 THC Products Now Available Online Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021
New Vaping Bill: Effective March 2021 No More Mail Order Of CBD & Delta-8 THC Vape Carts

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals. The Best Delta-8 THC Gummies To Buy On Black Friday New Product Spotlight: Delta-8 THC Softgels: BOGO Deal Included
What Are Delta-8 THC Moon Rocks And Where To Get Them? INSIGHT: Delta-8 THC Pricing – The Fair Price for Delta 8 Vapes, Tinctures, Gummies and Flowers How To Choose Delta-8 THC Flowers?
It’s Not Your Parents’ THC – Welcome Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester
Delta 8 Update: Shipping Vape Ban Goes Into Effect Soon. Are You Ready? Delta 8 Flowers – Milder Than Cannabis, But Very Relaxing and Uplifting Now it’s the time to Stock-Up on Delta-8 THC Products

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Cannabis Heroes of History: How Robert Randall Beat the U.S.

When we think of the legalization of cannabis, it is not a short, concise, or simple story. And each step forward has been the result of some kind of governmental policy change due to changing opinions, or legal consequences as the result of a person’s actions. In this article we’re going back to the re-introduction of medical cannabis in America, which all started in the 70’s with Robert Randall, when he beat the U.S. in court.

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Who is this guy?

There really wasn’t anything terribly special about Robert Randall for the first part of his life.  He was born in 1948 in Sarasota Florida, and attended the University of South Florida as a political science major starting at age 19, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in speech and a master’s degree in rhetoric. During this time he started to realize issues with his vision. He would see halos with different colors around lights, his vision would get fuzzy, and he experienced white-blindness – or achromatopsia, a form of color blindness that makes it difficult to distinguish any colors at all. Randall did go to the doctor to investigate these vision issues, but due to his age, he was told it was a result of stress.

After he graduated from university, Randall moved to Washington, DC where he took up as a cab driver. Around 1972, he realized that if he closed his left eye, he was no longer able to read out of his right eye. It didn’t matter if the writing was close up to his face, or several inches away. This time when he went to an ophthalmologist, he was finally given the diagnosis of glaucoma.

There is no cure for glaucoma today, which means there sure wasn’t any back then. Not only was Randall given this diagnosis, but he was told he would go fully blind in three to five years. As with most conditions with no real workable treatment, glaucoma sufferers are generally put on medications to try to preserve eyesight for as long as possible. Then and now, such medications are associated with pain, chronic fatigue, kidney issues, and more. Randall was thoroughly unhappy with the situation.

What is glaucoma?

glaucoma

Before getting farther into Randall’s story, let’s take a look at his affliction to get a better idea of what he was suffering from. Glaucoma is the name given to a number of eye conditions that specifically target and damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve sits in the back of the eye and is responsible for the transfer of visual information from the retina of the eye, to the vision center of the brain, which is does through electrical impulses. The optic nerve itself does not make sense of the information coming in, but rather acts as a vital link in the chain, passing on information to the brain where it can be deciphered.

It’s like a waiter writing down your order at a restaurant and then taking it back to the kitchen where the chef can decode it to prepare the meal. Imagine what would happen if the waiter hurt his leg and could only limp back and forth. Or if he disappeared altogether. There would be no way to get the information from the eaters, all the way to the chefs. It suffices to say that a well-functioning optic nerve is necessary for good vision.

One of the ways glaucoma damages the optic nerve, is with abnormally high pressure. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in those 60 years of age and older, and while it does usually target older generations, it can occur at any age.

I can actually account for this myself, having had high eye pressures nearly my entire life (also affected by the thickness of the cornea, or in my case, the thinness of the cornea). My grandfather was nearly completely blind when he died with glaucoma a couple years ago, my uncle was just as lucky as Robert Randall, being diagnosed in his college years, and my mother actually required holes drilled in her corneas to relieve the pressure. It does say quite a bit for modern medicine that my mother and her brother have not lost their vision…yet. Loss of vision from glaucoma cannot be recovered. Most people with this affliction lose their vision gradually, and often problems aren’t realized until way too late.

There are two types of glaucoma, they are defined by the angle created by the iris (the part of the eye with color) and the cornea, which is the outer layer that covers the eye. Open-angle glaucoma refers to when the iris is in the right place, but fluid is kept from appropriately exiting, creating a build-up of pressure. Kind of like having a clogged drain. In closed-angle glaucoma, the iris itself is usually misshapen or damaged, causing it to be squeezed against the cornea. This also blocks the ability for moisture to leave, allowing for a build-up of pressure. Open-angle is substantially more common.

If you are concerned you might have an eye issue like glaucoma, please consult your family physician or a specialist. Some basic warning signs to be aware of:

Open-angle – patchy blind spots in central or peripheral vision, in one or both eyes. Tunnel vision when advanced stages are reached.

Closed-angle (narrow-angle, acute-angle) – intense headaches, eye pain, blurry vision, halos around lights, eye redness, nausea and vomiting.

glaucoma and cannabis

And now back to Robert Randall

Robert Randall had smoked marijuana before, and remembered that it had helped with eye strain previously. Around 1973 he realized that smoking cannabis did, indeed, help his eyesight. In fact, remember those halos he was seeing around lights? He found that smoking cannabis helped eliminate them. He found such relief from cannabis that he eventually started growing it himself to cut down on costs. In early 1975, marijuana plants were found on his back porch, and in August of that year, he was busted for simple possession of cannabis. At this time, cannabis was 100% illegal for recreational or medical use in the U.S., and not one state had a medical marijuana policy. The use of cannabis had been outlawed since the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

Randall decided to fight back. He went in front of the court and presented a medical defense that even his lawyer was not behind, stating that smoking marijuana helped to minimize his suffering from glaucoma. This was a completely novel claim at the time. But Randall persevered, finding research conducted through UCLA that supported his claim, and going through a litany of tests to prove his point.

The United States vs Randall

There are plenty of landmark cases in U.S. legal history, and this case is certainly one of them. In 1976, Robert Randall went up against the US federal government using a medical necessity defense for his use of marijuana. Through the case it was found that according to the original diagnosing doctor, Doctor Fine, that the drugs being used to treat his glaucoma were completely ineffective by 1974 due to increased resistance.

Once on trial, he became a participant in experimental programs led by Dr. Hepler who worked for the US government. Dr. Hepler testified in court that Randall was not being helped by the medications, and that surgery was a dangerous idea as it could result in immediate blindness. In fact, the main result of the medical tests was that marijuana smoke did reduce his visual problems, and had a beneficial effect on his overall condition.

The court ruled in Randall’s favor as it found he met all the requirements for a necessity defense, and that he had not caused his own blindness. Judge James A. Washington of the D.C. Superior Court stated when Randall beat the U.S. “…the evil he sought to avert, blindness, is greater than that he performed.” When Robert Randall beat the U.S., he became the first person in the U.S. since 1937 who could legally smoke marijuana. And not just smoke it, but have it provided to him by the U.S. government. Something that continued until his death on June 2nd 2001 due to AIDS complications.

Around the same time that Randall beat the U.S. in court and the charges were dismissed, Randall’s attorneys were successful in petitioning the FDA to have him participate in a research program that would allot him 10 joints a day. This was fine, though Randall often complained about the quality of the government marijuana, claiming it tasted metallic and that street cannabis was better. Then in 1978, his eye doctor moved states and Randall was abruptly dropped from the program. So, what did he do? In 1978 Randall successfully sued the U.S. government to be included in the program once more! Yes, Randall beat the U.S. government again. In fact, this means Randall beat the U.S. government twice. First defensively, and then offensively.

Since then…

marijuana activists

Randall wasn’t just out for himself, he became one of the leading cannabis activists of the time. He travelled around lecturing – even risking his own ability to access cannabis, as well as pushing for legal change. Between 1978-1980, he was an instrumental aide in enacting 30 different laws throughout the States that recognized the medical benefits of cannabis, and also helped establish programs to provide medical cannabis access to patients. Most were never actually active though as the federal government fought hard to close them.

In 1981 he founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, a non-profit which pushed for greater legal freedoms when it comes to medical marijuana. He even drafted legislation for the 97th congress for the fair and compassionate use of medical marijuana. Hearings were never heard on it, but it did attract 110 co-sponsors including a young Newt Gingrich.

In the 1990’s he began focusing more on AIDS, likely because of his own situation of being diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He established MARS – the Marijuana AIDS Research Service to help those with AIDS obtain cannabis for medicine. Hundreds of patients went to access this service, and though it was initially approved by the government, it was abruptly closed, even though requests had been given the okay. This left a lot of sick people with no means for legal, useful, cannabis medication, and public outrage over it led to different states eventually offering up ballot measures. It’s what helped drive California to pass Proposition 215 in 1996, becoming the first state to have an instituted medical marijuana program (which came well after Virginia allowed medical use in a drug bill, but never put it into action).

Randall also authored six books, one of which was about his plight. Co-authored with his partner Alice O’Leary, the book is entitled Marijuana RX: the Patients Fight for Medical Pot. He died in 2001 in the same city he was born, Sarasota, Florida. He was 53 years old.

Conclusion

Robert Randall’s name is not one of the more well-known when it comes to legal antics or cannabis, yet he proved himself to be one of the most important figures in the re-establishment of medical marijuana. As medical legalization policies sprout up all over the world, and as medical cannabis was just rescheduled according to the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Substances, perhaps we should take a minute to give a little thankful appreciation to one of the heroes that helped make it happen. So thank you Robert Randall, for having the intelligence, motivation, and drive to beat the U.S. in court, and for fighting to help those in need.

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References

Why Using THC Is Good for the Eyes
Cannabis and Schizophrenia – Not a Testable Hypothesis

Cannabis Falling from the Sky in Israel
Can CBG Be The Answer To Treating Glaucoma?

Prop 65 Warning on California Cannabis Products Opens the Floodgates for Next Nobel Prize Winner? Will Legal Synthetic Cannabinoids Take Over Cannabis Industry?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Lebanon Legalized Medical Cannabis, 1st in Arab World
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
How Green Is Ireland When It Comes to Cannabis Regulation?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020.  The best delta-8 THC deals, coupons and discounts.
As Medical Cannabis Industry Booms, China Remains Quietly on Top Virginia and Cannabis, Setting the Record Straight The World’s First Fully Stable and Genetically Uniform Cannabis Hybrid Seeds
Can You Be Allergic to Cannabis?

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India’s Bhang Loophole, and the Question of Legalization

India is the kind of place that has a rich history and culture of cannabis use going back thousands of years. Yet, even so, this does not equal a legalization today. Though recreational cannabis use is illegal, this does nothing to stop India’s bhang loophole from letting everyone use it anyway.

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India and cannabis laws

In India, according to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 (yup, legal until then), both use and possession of cannabis are illegal, with no personal use laws present. 1985 marked 25 years since the initiation of the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances treaty which had allowed India 25 years to essentially get its house in order drug-wise, leading to the 1985 ban. This means, even being caught with a small quantity can incur the offender up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to 10,000 rupees. When a person is caught with an amount greater than a ‘small quantity’ (1 kilo), but lesser than a ‘commercial quantity’, the prison sentence can go as high as ten years with a fine as much as 100,000 rupees. If a person is caught possessing a ‘commercial quantity’, the prison sentence goes up to 10-20 years, and the fine up to 100,000-200,000. Whereas repeat offenders caught with 20 kg or more of hash or a product with 500 grams+ of THC used to be subject to mandatory death sentences, this was struck down in 2011 by the Bombay High Court, and replaced with a death sentence option rather than requirement. Still pretty nuts.

To be clear on what exactly is illegal and where, the NDPS states that cannabis resins and flowers are illegal, but is fine with leaves and seeds of the plant, allowing individual states to set their own legislation accordingly.

Use crimes incur far more lenient sentences. Prison sentences are generally no more than a year, and often as short as six months and/or a fine of up to 10,000 rupees.

Sale and supply crimes are illegal, and the penalties are the same as for possession, with rising penalties with larger amounts of contraband. Trafficking, as always, is illegal, and offenders are subject to 10-20 years in prison, and a fine of 100,000-200,000 rupees. This is the same, you’ll notice, as the top possession penalty, and also comes with the ability for a death sentence. Even higher prison sentences than 20 years are given at times if the offender was violent, holds public office, involved a minor or a sale near an educational facility, or is part of organized crime.

Indian cannabis

Cultivation is illegal outside of scientific use, industrial use, or research purposes, all of which require special licensing. Offenders caught growing can face up to 10 years in prison and a 10,000 rupee fine.

CBD is actually perfectly legal to buy and sell in India as the THC content is considered not enough to produce a high.

What about medical?

India is a great example of medical contradictions. One of the things to understand about India is that it’s the home of Ayurvedic medicine, a natural medicine tradition that goes back thousands of years, and which is still used widely today all over the world (much like Chinese medicine). As such, cannabis has been used as medicine in India for thousands of years.

Now, having said that, because of current laws and bans which were all instituted in the last hundred years, India – a country that is home to one of the most famous medical traditions which includes cannabis – doesn’t actually have a federal medical cannabis program, although there is limited access to some cannabis medicines. Much like the US, different states in India have their own medical legalization policies. For example, India’s second largest state, Madhya Pradesh, legalized cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial purposes, in 2019. As a poor state, it was hoping to attract more business, and bring in more revenue with this new policy. How the policy helps its own citizens has not been as well defined.

This is, once again, rather sad considering India’s longstanding medical use of cannabis. In the traditional Indian medicine texts from thousands of years ago – Atharva Veda, cannabis is mentioned as one of five sacred plants. It doesn’t show up in Ayurvedic texts until the Middle Ages. In Ayurveda, the plant is split into three component parts: ‘bhang’ is the name used for the leaves of both male and female plants. The word ‘ganja’ is used to denote the flowering tops of a female plant, and ‘charas’ is the name given for the resin of the plant. To make things a bit confusing, these terms have changed a bit over time, with ‘ganja’ often simply referring to a cannabis plant in general, and bhang being used for a ganja-based drink (the basis for India’s bhang loophole).

Cannabis is essentially considered toxic and medicinal at the same time, and was cited for the indication of digestion issues, pain management, sleep issues, spastic issues, glaucoma, high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders, tuberculosis, tumors, and tons of other applications. And this was all passed down from well before Western medicine came into being.

But, bhang is sold a lot…

While cannabis is mainly illegal in India, one form of it isn’t illegal at all, making for India’s bhang loophole. The term ‘bhang’ as mentioned before, refers to the leaves of a cannabis plant, but it also refers to a cannabis drink. Bhang is a drink made by soaking cannabis leaves in water, and then grinding it all into a paste. The paste is then used in drinks like bhang thandai, and bhang lassi, both spicy, milky concoctions that are associated with religious festivals like Holi, but which are also general mainstays of Hindu culture.

India's bhang loophole

In fact, in 1961, the Indian delegation at the negotiations for the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, opposed how intolerant the treaty was to its customs, both social and religious, and negotiated a use of language that doesn’t illegalize bhang, specifically in the mentioning of the parts of the plant used. Remember the original definition of bhang as the leaves of a cannabis plant? Well, the wording of the treaty is as follows: “”Cannabis” means the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops) from which the resin has not been extracted, by whatever name they may be designated.”

The presence of bhang, therefore, undermines the illegality of cannabis in India, and is widely available to the public, though different states have their own legalization policies, some instituting minimum use ages, some instituting maximum carry amounts, and some instituting other specific requirements for its sale. It should be pointed out that India’s negotiation for that linguistic deal in the treaty which creates India’s bhang loophole, meant a promised limit of hemp exports.

Bhang has religious uses, but it also has its place in Ayurvedic medicine, and is one of five sacred plants (as a part of cannabis) that is mentioned in Atharva Veda. It has been used to treat many issues from digestive issues to malaria to anxiety, and so on. According to one popular version of folklore, the Hindu gods roiled the cosmic ocean in a quest for the elixir of immortality (Amrit), and the god Shiva was called on to drink up the poison from the ocean, which burned his throat blue until the goddess Parvati mixed up some bhang to relieve him. Bhang is often offered to Shiva during the summer months.

Legalization issues

In the past several years, there has been more talk of legalization. One of the cases that has gained widespread notoriety, and brought much attention to the topic, has to do with the arrest of actress Rhea Chakraborty for the possession of marijuana – 59 grams of flower and 5 grams of hash. This arrest likely is connected to her possible role in the death of fellow actor and boyfriend Sushant Singh. However, the arrest is seen by many as an attempt to do something, among much media frenzy, and highlights the unfairness of laws that punish users over traffickers.

To give an idea of how badly the NDPS exploits personal users, a study by Vidhi Legal shows 59% of arrested users are caught with only personal amounts. This indicates the law punishes personal users more than traffickers, and would also indicate a massive reduction in arrests to omit personal use. In the same analysis, it showed that in Mumbai in 2017 and 2018, 97-98% of cases involved possession for personal use. That’s nearly every case.

Ayurvedic medicine - Bhang

One of the larger legalization efforts is made through The Great Legalization Movement India (GLM India), which was founded in 2014. This non-profit organization aims to educate the public as well as launch campaigns. The group was responsible for India’s first medical cannabis conference, which was held on May 10, 2015 in Bengaluru, India.

While recreational cannabis might take longer to legalize in India, there is a decent chance that the recent UN change in drug scheduling that takes cannabis out of schedule IV, and opens up legal medicinal use, might encourage more of India to legalize for medicinal use. This would be great on many levels. It would provide Indians with cannabis medications, as well as allowing the country to embrace its own history.

Conclusion

India represents different sides of the cannabis legalization issue. On one side is the country that changed international negotiations to maintain its use of cannabis, on the other is a country that eschewed its long history of medicinal cannabis use in favor of no federal medical cannabis program. Obviously, international regulation and pressure have had an effect on all this. As these regulations and pressures change and lessen, it could very well be that India’s bhang loophole will turn into a full medical legalization, and maybe not too far in the future, a recreational legalization as well.

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Resources

Guam Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Asks Citizens to Help
Canadian Hemp Acreage and Export Value Up More Than 20%

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New Bill: Colombia Will Legalize Cocaine?

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New Bill: Colombia Will Legalize Cocaine?

The push and pull of the cannabis legalization issue can be seen all over the globe, with a recent UN vote officially legalizing cannabis for medical use. But what about cocaine? Is the medical value of cocaine coming back into play? A current bill is making its way through the Colombian government that says Colombia will legalize cocaine.

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Colombia and cocaine have gone together like peanut butter and jelly since Pablo Escobar started using old cannabis trafficking routes to move the white powder out of Colombia, and to the rest of the world. Now, with a new bill moving its way through Colombian government, its looking like there’s a good chance Colombia will legalize cocaine.

A look at the history of cocaine

When it comes to cocaine, the main story that we all know starts in the middle of the 70’s with Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, however cocaine has been used for much longer than that. In fact, in South American countries like Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, locals have been chewing on coca leaves for thousands of years to get their mildly stimulating effect. This allowed workers to suppress their appetites and work longer hours.

When the Spanish came to South America, they wanted to send their spoils back home, and employed the locals to work long hours digging up gold and silver, for which they enforced the use of coca leaves. At this time, the leaves themselves were not being taken anywhere as they couldn’t maintain through the journey back to Europe. For this reason, use stayed local for quite some time.

coca leaves

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that German chemist Albert Niemann was able to isolate the active compound of the plant which he renamed ‘cocaine’ in his 1860 published finding. Niemann didn’t get to do much more work with the drug as he died the following year from damage to his lungs caused by experimenting with mustard gas as a weapon for war.

A few years later, in 1863, Corsican chemist Angela Mariani created a mixture of cocaine and wine which was sold as a medicine for the treatment of anemia, pain, as an appetite suppressant, and stomach stimulant. He called it Vin Mariani. This concoction gained notoriety all over the world, and led to the creation of many different – yet similar – products containing cocaine.

One of the many copycats was US pharmacist John Pemberton who made his own wine and cocaine mixture. When the Ku Klux Klan demanded that alcohol be banned in Atlanta in the mid-1860’s, Pemberton came up with a new idea, and replaced the alcohol in the drink with soda water, a mixture he called Coca-Cola. Yes, for anyone not in the know, Coca-Cola did, in fact, once contain cocaine. Before it had to be taken out of the beverage upon growing health concerns in the early 1900’s, Pemberton had reformulated the drink to have 7.2mg of cocaine per ounce. In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act put forth regulation for the cocaine industry, which essentially ended it for many decades, apart from people using it like rich Hollywood stars.

The more recent cocaine story

And now back to the story we’re all familiar with, although how it started might not be as familiar. Even before Pablo Escobar came on the scene, the road was already being paved for a new cocaine boom. The New York Times published an article in 1974 which stated cocaine was “a good high achieved without the forbiddingly dangerous needle and addiction of heroin.”

This was followed up by a book written by journalist Richard Ashley, which failed to find negatives associated with cocaine apart from those related to not having common sense. Even Newsweek Magazine published illustrations of high-class folks doing lines of cocaine.

And perhaps all this helped Escobar to do his thing. By using old cannabis trafficking lines, Escobar built up a trafficking network to move cocaine out of Colombia, inciting a massive and violent drug war. This war exploded in 1975 when in retaliation for the seizure of 600kg of cocaine by law enforcement, the cartel took out about 40 people in one weekend, known after that as the ‘Medellin Massacre’. It’s thought that at the peak of its existence, the Medellin Cartel was bringing in approximately $60 million per day in profits. What really allowed the cartel to take off, was its partnership with Carlos Lehder, a marijuana smuggler who showed Escobar and his partners Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, and the Ochoa brothers, how to use small planes to fly the cocaine directly into the US. While much coca is grown in Colombia, at that time, the majority was being imported from Bolivia and Peru, and only processed in Colombia before being trafficked out.

cartel violence

One of the factors that led to Escobar’s downfall and death, was competing cartel, the Cali Cartel which started operations only a year after the Medellin Cartel, in 1977, and which is said to have worked with the government to bring Escobar down. This cartel started as a kidnapping ring, and then focused its earnings into trafficking, starting with marijuana, and moving onto cocaine. While Escobar is still the biggest name in cocaine history, the history of cocaine didn’t stop with his death. It was carried on by the Cali cartel, the Norte del Valle Cartel which operated from the early 90’s till around 2012, the North Coast Cartel which operated from the late 90’s till around 2004, and a number of smaller groups with more specific, compartmentalized jobs, that have operated in conjunction since then.

One last thing to remember about the history of cocaine, according to the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Substances 1961, though cocaine is in schedule I, it’s also schedule III, making it perfectly legal internationally for medical use:

“III – Preparations of substances listed in Schedule II, as well as preparations of cocaine”

The trade

Two of the things that are extremely hard to pin down, are how much money exactly is earned (though this is much easier), and how many people die (and have died), as a result of this trade. In terms of the latter, when questioned about it concerning a line that came up from an episode of Narcos, Elizabeth Zili, the former DEA head of intelligence in Colombia affirmed that no hard numbers exist saying “I really couldn’t give you a number, but it was extremely high. We never totally trusted the statistics we were getting from the [Colombian] government. One never does, no matter where you are.” Even if hard numbers for death tolls can’t be confirmed, that thousands of people have died since the 70’s as part of the trade is generally not argued.

When it comes to the former point on how much is earned, (and how much is used), here are some basic stats. One kilo of cocaine is produced by processing about 125 kilos of coca leaves. This production costs a local drug lab approximately $137.50. Once the leaves are turned into actual cocaine, the value goes up to $2,269. This same amount can garner a profit of about $60,000+ in America, and more internationally, with the value going as high as $235,000 in a place like Australia.

Pretty much all the cocaine in the world comes from Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, with Colombia providing about 70% of it in 2018. About 4% of the world’s population (or 300 million) have used cocaine in their lives, with approximately 18.1 million people using the drug in 2018 alone. As of 2018, approximately 169,000 hectares of land are being used for growing coca in Colombia, and about 130,000 families survive by farming it.

Will it be legalized?

Obviously, the title of this article isn’t about history, but the future, and the question of whether Colombia will legalize cocaine. In an effort to curb the drug trade, different avenues have been tried like eradicating plants by spraying chemicals on them aerially, forced crop substitutions so that farmers can maintain income, and decriminalization. None of it has worked. One of the bigger steps taken though, was the decriminalization of all drugs in 1994, including hard drugs like cocaine. Now, in a further effort to curb trafficking, the Colombian government might take this decriminalization one step further with a bill saying Colombia will legalize cocaine.

Colombia will legalize cocaine

In 2019, a bill was introduced by Colombian senators Feliciano Valencia and Ivan Marulanda as a new way to fight the war on drugs. The proposed legislation revolves around the idea that Colombia will legalize cocaine, and is a cocaine use and regulation bill which would move control of cultivation and production to the government (and away from cartels). The bill doesn’t specify a ban on exportation of the drug, but focuses more on cutting financing to cartels, just like Uruguay did with its legalization for recreational cannabis. It would also push for more scientific research into it. This bill comes about a year after the introduction of a bill for the legalization of cannabis recreationally.

To say that there is opposition to this bill is an understatement, but its not an impossibility. It also would NOT be the first country to do it. Back in 1988, Bolivia did the very same thing, passing Law 1008 which legalized the cultivation of coca and instated a regulated industry. This, of course, did not stop the US from trying to eradicate fields, and even led to Operation Naked King, a DEA sting operation as late as 2015 targeting Evo Morales, the Bolivian president who drove the DEA out of Bolivia in 2008. Not only is there opposition, but as Bolivia shows, the US makes such a move a rather risky one, and calls into question whether there is a possibility at all that Colombia will legalize cocaine.

To shed more light on the current Colombian initiative, it wouldn’t just set up a regulated, government-run industry, it would actually require the government to buy all the coca grown, for redistribution for medical purposes. The idea would be for the government to buy the coca at market prices. If it seems like this would be incredibly expensive, consider that this move would cost Colombia approximately 2.6 trillion pesos ($680 million USD), whereas eradication programs actually cost four trillion pesos ($1 billion USD) annually. It’s essentially cheaper if the government buys it, rather than destroying it. This allows farmers to keep their businesses while bringing them into a legal market, and cuts down on deforestation by farmers in attempts to hide crops. The government would then provide raw materials to different industries for the production of baking flour, foods, teas, and other medicinal products.

To be clear, because of the decriminalization in 1994, personal use of cocaine, is actually legal, although a 2018 decree does give law enforcement the ability to confiscate it.

Conclusion

Getting people on board to accept cannabis legalizations has been an arduous task. This can be seen in the rejection of the removal of cannabis from schedule I of the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Substances, which just failed recently. So, the idea of selling the legalization of an even harder drug is no easy feat. Perhaps it is lucky for Colombia that Bolivia went first.

I tend to think that when these initiatives come up, they mean something, even if they originally fail. I don’t know if this bill will pass, but chances are that if this one doesn’t, the next one will. There is a drive and motivation to change how the industry works, to redistribute the cash flow, and to actually use the drug more efficiently. Just like with cannabis legalizations, it isn’t always the first effort that works, but once the idea has been initiated, you can be 99% sure that there will be a follow-through eventually. I’d say at this point, Colombia will legalize cocaine, its just a matter of when.

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Resources

Guam Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Asks Citizens to Help
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Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

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What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Time to Vote: Will WHO Cannabis Recommendations Be Accepted?
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The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Paraguay Grows it, Brazil Takes it… Will New Cannabis Laws Change Anything?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020Cannabis Election Results – Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon?
Current CBD Deals And Exclusive Offers
Mexico Still Waiting on Its Promised Cannabis Legalization

Best Delta-8 THC deals, Coupon and Discounts
How the Cannabis Industry is Saving Small Towns Across America
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
California Cannabis Delivery Lawsuit: “It’s NOT a win” For the Industry

The post New Bill: Colombia Will Legalize Cocaine? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote

Well, it might be a small step forward in the fight for cannabis legalization, but the recent UN vote on WHO recommendations only saw one positive measure taken. While being removed from schedule IV, cannabis remains schedule I according to the UN.

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If you read most of the headlines, you’d think there was a massive step forward taken today in the fight to legalize cannabis, or at least have it taken seriously for its medical properties. But if you read a little closer, the end result is really not as great as it originally sounds to be. Yes, cannabis might no longer be schedule IV of the Single Convention, but it’s still sitting pretty at the top of both scheduling treaties.

UN drug scheduling

In 1961, negotiations were made between different countries of the world to come up with a treaty called the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances. Ten years later, yet another scheduling set was presented, this was called the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. These two treaties set basic guidelines for the international legality of certain drugs, but leave individual countries to come up with their own policies, though they must keep in line with the treaties (or, at least, they’re supposed to). As of 2018, 186 governments had signed the Single Convention on Narcotics treaty, though this does not give all of them the ability to vote.

Cannabis Remains Schedule I

The following are the two treaties, and their scheduling groups, prior to the vote:

Single Convention on Narcotic Substances:

  • I – Addictive drugs with a high risk for abuse (group contains cannabis and heroine).
  • II – Medical substances with a low risk for abuse.
  • III – Preparations that are made from substances in schedule II, and those that use cocaine.
  • IV – The most dangerous drugs listed in schedule I, these are considered very harmful and with no substantial medical or therapeutic value. (This group contains cannabis).

Single Convention on Psychotropic Substances:

  • I – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a high risk of abuse, and which are considered to have no substantial therapeutic value. This group includes THC (but not the whole cannabis plant).
  • II – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have only a low to moderate therapeutic value.
  • III – Substances which pose a major threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have a moderate to high therapeutic value.
  • IV – Substances which pose a minor threat to public health, with a risk of abuse, and which are considered to have a high therapeutic value.

What were the recommendations?

WHO – or the World Health Organization, is the arm of the UN which is responsible for global public health measures. In 2019, after the WHO Expert Committee’s 41st meeting, a few different recommendations were made about how cannabis is scheduled. A vote was originally postponed in spring of 2019 by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs when it met for its 62nd meeting. This was to make sure that voting countries had more time to prepare and understand the information at hand. It was postponed again earlier this year, with a new date set for today.

While the WHO can make recommendations to the existing treaty, actually amending it is done by the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The recommendations given by WHO concerning cannabis, were as follows:

medical marijuana
  • 5.1 – Remove cannabis and cannabis resin from schedule IV of the Single Convention.
  • 5.2.1 – The addition of Dronabinol (and stereoisomers) to schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.2.2 – If previous recommendation is adopted, the removal of Dronabinol (and stereoisomers) from schedule II of the 1971 Convention.
  • If 5.2.1 is adopted, the addition of THC to schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.4 – Remove cannabis extracts and tinctures from schedule I of the Single Convention.
  • 5.5 – The addition of a footnote in schedule I of the Single Convention to ‘cannabidiol preparations’, which reads, “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2 per cent of delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control.”
  • 5.6 – “Add preparations containing dronabinol, produced either by chemical synthesis or as preparations of cannabis that are compounded as pharmaceutical preparations with one or more other ingredients and in such a way that dronabinol cannot be recovered by readily available means or in a yield which would constitute a risk to public health, to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.”

A thing to notice before getting into the outcome of the recommendations… If someone thought there was a chance of getting cannabis completely out of there, this would be very much mistaken. Even in the best case scenario, THC would still be schedule I in the Single Convention, and that would keep it in the same class as heroin.

The vote

As stated before, there are 186 countries that have signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances treaty. However, this does not give them all voting rights. The vote took place in Vienna, and consisted of 53 member countries that had the right to vote.

In short, only one recommendation was taken, 5.1, the removal of cannabis and cannabis resins from schedule IV of the Single Convention, opening it up for legal medical use. That means cannabis remains schedule I according to the Single Convention, and leaves THC in schedule I of the 1971 Convention. Essentially, all that really happened is that it opened the door more for the medical industry, which had really become a necessity considering how many countries were already breaking code. This vote might be touted by the press as a major win for the cannabis industry, but in reality, it’s more of a blow. This was a chance to really change how the plant is used, and the only thing that happened is that a formal clearance was given for what is already going on.

As far as the one measure that did pass, the vote was extremely close, highlighting, I suppose, why the other measures failed. It passed with a vote of 27-25 with one abstention.

cannabis vote

Implications

There really aren’t many, to be honest. While many headlines blare news about the UN making cannabis officially a ‘less dangerous’ drug, that didn’t really happen because in reality, cannabis remains schedule I. In fact, the only thing that happened is the UN played catch-up with what is already going on, and what is not likely to stop. If the UN hadn’t passed that measure, it would officially make every country with a medical program in violation….which they technically already were. That one recommendation was a save-face for the UN, and since medical cannabis has been implemented all over the globe despite both conventions, it didn’t really matter anyway. It also means there isn’t going to be a drastic change. Individual governments are still tasked with making their own drug laws, with places like China reinforcing that it will maintain its tight restrictions.

One implication that does come out of it is that CBD will not be any further clarified. CBD oil is often in gray area because it can’t easily be produced without some trace amount of THC. Recommendation 5.5 would have shed some further light on the situation, but it was roundly rejected along with the other measures, leaving CBD to stay in the gray.

Conclusion

Some might find this to be a win for the cannabis industry, and the fight for legalization, however, I see this as a major loss. This vote shows how many countries are still in favor of unnecessarily harsh regulation, and resistant to new information, or change. This vote goes to show just how far behind much of the world is.

One of the interesting things about a vote like this, is that its obviously going to leave some people (or countries) unhappy with the outcome. The UN functions because countries buy into it, but no one ever said they had to. It’s just like the issue of Brexit. If too much is pushed, countries might very well leave. If not enough is done, a different set will be angered. I wonder if the UN might have lost members if the vote had gone differently. For now, anyway, cannabis remains schedule I, and who knows when that will change.

Thanks for dropping by CBDtesters.co, your #1 spot for all cannabis-related news. Stop by frequently to stay in the know, and sign up to our newsletter so you never miss a beat!

Resources

Guam Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Asks Citizens to Help
New Zealand Voted NO to Cannabis Legalization

Is Croatia Trying to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?

Fly with Cannabis – Which Countries Let You Do It Newest Cannabinoid Luxembourg Likely to Be First EU Country to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Time to Vote: Will WHO Cannabis Recommendations Be Accepted?
Let the People Choose: Will Kiwis Vote to Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Paraguay Grows it, Brazil Takes it… Will New Cannabis Laws Change Anything?

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Black Friday Delta 8 THC Deals 2020. Cannabis Election Results – Recreational Cannabis in Colombia – Coming Soon?
Current CBD Deals And Exclusive Offers
Mexico Still Waiting on Its Promised Cannabis Legalization

Best Delta-8 THC deals, Coupon and Discounts
How the Cannabis Industry is Saving Small Towns Across America
Argentina Legalized Medical Cannabis in 2017 – and Gives It Away for Free
California Cannabis Delivery Lawsuit: “It’s NOT a win” For the Industry

The post Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote appeared first on CBD Testers.