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Texas votes to expand Medical Cannabis Program

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Finally, the Texas Medical Cannabis Program has been given thumbs up for an expansion. On April 29th, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 1535 in order to expand the Texas Medical Cannabis Program. This is seen as a progressive move by many of the lobbying and advocacy groups in the state. The current cannabis medical program is restrictive due to its low-THC cap of 0.5 percent, which restricts medical practitioners from prescribing and administering any medical cannabis products with a THC level higher than 0.5 percent.

Under the HB 1535 more conditions would be covered which include: chronic pain, all forms of cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The current medical condition scope covers patients with terminal cancer, intractable epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism and other neurodivergent conditions. The current program has had a poor patient and business enrollment due to its restrictive nature.

This new bill was drafted by Republican state representative Stephanie Klick, the same individual who drafted the initial 2015 medical cannabis bill in Texas.  The HB 1535 would raise the THC cap from 0.5 percent to 5 percent, which means that patients in Texas would now access medicine with THC. The bill still needs to be approved by the senate committee and the governor respectively before it can be passed as law.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), doesn’t consider the current Texas medical cannabis program, which is also known as the Compassionate Use Program; to be a true medical cannabis program, as it only includes hemp and not cannabis. One of the people that has expressed their reservations against the current program is Heather Fazio, Director of Texas for Responsible Marijuana Policy. She said in an interview that “There’s an incredibly restrictive cap on THC. Low levels of THC will work for some people but won’t work for others. And so what we think is that doctors need to be the ones making these decisions, not the lawmakers”.

Along with the HB1535, there’s another bill which was passed in the same week by the House of Representatives, which would reduce punitive measures on the possession and usage of cannabis within Texas. The other house bill passed is the HB2593, which seeks to reduce penalties for possession of concentrate. If passed into law, possessing up to two ounces of concentrates would only be a Class B misdemeanor.

Another bill currently under consideration is the HB441, which would remove jail time and loss of one’s license, as penalties for possessing an ounce or less of cannabis. It will also change the charge to a Class C misdemeanor, payable by a fine of $500 like a traffic violation.

What are your feelings and thoughts on all these developments taking place in Texas? Do you think the new HB 1535 will get approved by the entire senate committee and the governor? Do you think more patients and businesses will enroll into the compassionate use program if this bill is passed into law? We would like you to share your thoughts, feelings and opinions in the comment section below and tell us how this HB 1535 may affect you and your community if passed into law.

 

By: Lennox Mokwena

 

Politics

SAHPRA Issues Africa’s First License to Conduct Psilocybin Clinical Trials; Aim is to Treat Depressed Women who are HIV Positive

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Cannsun receives SAHPRA go ahead for psilocybin clinical trials

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has issued Africa’s first license allowing psilocybin to be used in clinical trials. Mutinational cannabis company Cannsun, which has a major grow-op at Atlantis in the Western Cape, said in a press release on 14 April 2022 that SAHPRA had given it the go-ahead “to commence an in-human women’s specific clinical trial to evaluate a safety and efficacy of psilocybin in 30 HIV positive study participants suffering from Major Depressive Disorder.”

 

Cannsun describes itself as a “bio-pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing new medicines to optimize human potential with operations in South Africa and Thailand.”

 

Donaghue Woodman, Head of Research and Development at Cannsun Group PLC says:
“It is vitally important to have a deeper understanding of how woman respond to medical treatment for major depression versus men in order to develop psychedelic therapies and treatment protocols for women that have clinically significant outcomes that are safe and effective. This research to be conducted in South Africa follows a globally renewed interest in psychedelics aimed at exploring the treatment benefits of these previously misunderstood compounds.” 


Mental health disorders are one of the leading causes of disease burden in the world, according to a 30-year global systematic analysis published in Lancet Psychiatry. As MDD is one of the more prevalent co-morbidities in HIV and in women, where an estimated 7.7 million people are living with HIV in South Africa, the trial will to be conducted in an all-female HIV positive group. Women have previously been underrepresented in clinical trials related to mental health, trials where women were included, the published results were not gender specific.

 

SA Trials to be done by TASK

Cannsun Medicinals has contracted TASK, a South African-based clinical research institute to conduct the clinical trial.

TASK is a multinational clinical research institute which conducts clinical trials to determine the treatment effects of novelties in healthcare and offers services in conducting complex clinical trials in a wide variety of therapeutic areas.

Established in 2005, TASK is a renowned research specialist organization in infectious diseases, most notably in tuberculosis, COVID-19 treatment and vaccines and has been published and mentioned in several leading journals, notably in the New England Journal of Medicine. Similarly, TASK’s founder Professor Andreas Diacon has been celebrated by the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation as a ‘hero in the field’ for his contribution to TB drug development.

“The TASK team are proud to have been selected by the Cannsun group to conduct this ground-breaking trial, first in our unique African population. We look forward to making progress in the treatment of mental health disorders and to the influence this trial may have in generating further investment in psychiatric research with innovative compounds.” Duncan McDonald, Head of Business Development at TASK.

 

Stellenbosch University closely involved in upcoming psilocybin clinical trials

TASK will work in conjunction with Soraya Seedat, a distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. She has more than 20 years of clinical, epidemiological and basic neuroscience research experience as a psychiatrist.

She has also been the recipient of several awards including the World Federation of the Society of Biological Psychiatry Fellowship, the Lundbeck Institute Fellowship Award in Psychiatry, an MRC mid-career award, research fellowship from the University of California San Diego, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America Career Development Award, the Humboldt Research Award in memory of Neville Alexander, the Chancellor’s Award for Research from Stellenbosch University and an MRC Gold Merit Award.

“Mental health is a global pursuit, and we are hopeful this research may bring advancement of treatment of depression and anxiety illness. Our research will be conducted in South Africa where women’s heath in a clinical setting is underrepresented, 25% of the adult women population between ages 15-49 are HIV positive. Our R&D team at Cannsun aim to further advance medical treatments in South Africa utilizing emerging medicines.” David Parry, Chief Executive Officer at Cannsun Group PLC.

The post SAHPRA Issues Africa’s First License to Conduct Psilocybin Clinical Trials; Aim is to Treat Depressed Women who are HIV Positive appeared first on Cannabiz Africa.

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Zimbabwe Tobacco Board Tells 145,000 Tobacco Farmers: “A Quarter of Your Income Must Come from Hemp by 2025”

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Meanwell Gudu says tobacco demand declining, farmers must look to hemp

Anticipated demand for cannabis is projected to continue to grow while tobacco output globally may decline 15% by 2030, according to Meanwell Gudu, the CEO of Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

“One of the alternative crops we are looking at is industrial hemp,” he told Bloomberg’s Ray Ndlovu by phone on 4 April 2022

The board has 145,000 registered tobacco growers, who started selling 2022’s crop at auctions last week. Farmers will be encouraged to plant cannabis so that a quarter of their income comes from the plant by 2025, Gudu said. 

“It’s a crop that requires attention to detail, just like tobacco, and we are confident that they will have the skills,” he said. “We want to be part of the entire industrial hemp chain.”

The board will look for export markets for industrial hemp including in China, the EU and will also seek to develop a local market, Gudu said.

Zimbabwe first major hemp export deal – 30 tons to Switzerland

The country exported 30 tonnes of industrial hemp to Switzerland in 2022, its first foray into the European market, said Zorodzai Maroveke, the founder of the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust. The group is partnering with the tobacco board to facilitate the “smooth transition” to cannabis for commercial purposes. 

Tobacco earned the country $819m in revenue in 2021. Farming cannabis for medical use in Zimbabwe was first legalised in 2019.

“Switzerland is the first gateway into Europe,” Maroveke said in an interview in Harare. 

Another 20 tonnes of industrial hemp are set to be exported to the European nation, she said. 

The post Zimbabwe Tobacco Board Tells 145 000 Tobacco Farmers: “A Quarter of Your Income Must Come from Hemp by 2025” appeared first on Cannabiz Africa.

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Amsterdam Trying To Halt Tourists From Coffee Shops

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The world famous Dutch capital city Amsterdam is looking to ban tourists from being able to frequent its famous coffee shops. For decades cannabis enthusiasts have been able to light up in Amsterdam with their chilled culture and relaxed drug policies – however some local politicians are looking to end the fun.

The changes, presented by mayor Femke Halsema, would require that cannabis would only be made available for purchase from the cities 166 licensed coffee shops by residents only. This policy would align with many of the other cities across the Netherlands including Rotterdam and Maastricht. Conservatives feel many of the cities problems are caused by the current cannabis market including illicit drugs and crime. Residents have complained about loud noise, littering and raucous behavior from tourists.

A ban would mean the loss of thousands of jobs and revenue for the city and definitely be a big change for a city that made cannabis a big part of its identity and made it a huge tourist destination. As this is not the first time the policy has been under attack its very much a wait and see type thing to find out what happens. Stay tuned….

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