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220,000,000 People Worldwide Are Using Cannabis According to a New UN Report, Yet Weed Is Still Illegal Almost Everywhere?

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The United Nations’ latest “World Drug Report” for 2023 sheds light on global substance use trends, emphasizing the sustained prevalence of drug consumption worldwide. In 2021, an alarming 1 in 17 individuals aged 15–64 engaged in drug use over the past year, marking a 23% increase since 2011. The report underscores the significance of this issue, with an estimated 296 million users constituting 5.8% of the global population aged 15–64.

 

Cannabis Takes Center Stage

 

The UN report illuminates the pervasive influence of cannabis on a global scale, solidifying its status as the most widely used substance. In 2021, an estimated 219 million users, constituting 4.3% of the global adult population, engaged in cannabis consumption. This continued dominance prompts an exploration into the implications of its widespread use and potential links to legalization initiatives, shaping the evolving landscape of cannabis consumption worldwide.

 

Within the realm of cannabis consumption, a significant shift in gender dynamics is observed, particularly in North America. Traditionally, around 70% of cannabis users are men, but recent trends reveal a substantial change. In North America, women now represent 42% of cannabis users, challenging conventional patterns. Understanding the factors contributing to this shift is crucial for unraveling the evolving societal perceptions and policies surrounding cannabis use.

 

Despite ongoing debates and regulatory changes, cannabis use maintains a consistent upward trajectory. This trend prompts an investigation into the factors influencing its rise, with a specific focus on the impact of legalization initiatives not only in the United States but also in other regions. By analyzing the drivers behind the increasing prevalence of cannabis, this exploration aims to provide insights into the shifting dynamics of drug use on a global scale.

 

While cannabis retains its global dominance, regional variations in its prevalence are evident. The UN report’s breakdown highlights distinct patterns in primary drug use reported by individuals entering drug treatment across different regions. Exploring differences in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, and East and South-East Asia, this analysis offers a comprehensive overview of how cannabis trends vary globally, contributing to a nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between cultural, legal, and social factors influencing drug consumption.

 

Opioids: A Persistent Source of Harm

 

While cannabis dominates the global substance landscape, opioids persist as the primary contributors to severe drug-related harm, as outlined in the UN’s World Drug Report for 2023. The report aligns with the alarming surge in opioid-related incidents, particularly evident in the United States, where drug overdose deaths have reached unprecedented levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2021, the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. was over six times higher than in 1999, with opioids accounting for more than 75% of these fatalities.

 

The opioid epidemic is characterized by three distinct waves, each contributing to the escalating crisis. The first wave began in the 1990s with increased opioid prescriptions, leading to a rise in overdose deaths involving prescription opioids. The second wave emerged in 2010, marked by a surge in overdose deaths involving heroin. The third wave, starting in 2013, witnessed significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl. This complex landscape underscores the multifaceted nature of the opioid crisis, involving not only prescription medications but also the illicit production and distribution of highly potent synthetic opioids.

 

The UN report highlights that approximately 60 million people engaged in non-medical opioid use in 2021, with opiates, primarily heroin, accounting for 31.5 million users. Opioids remain the leading cause of fatal overdoses, contributing to nearly 70% of the 128,000 deaths attributed to drug use disorders in 2019. Furthermore, opioid use disorders accounted for the majority (71%) of the 18 million healthy years of life lost owing to premature death and disability in 2019. The persistent and escalating impact of opioids on global health underscores the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address this ongoing crisis.

 

Global Patterns and Regional Variances

 

The UN’s World Drug Report for 2023 offers valuable insights into global drug use patterns and unveils clear regional differences in the primary substances reported by people entering drug treatment. In most of Europe and several subregions of Asia, opioids, particularly heroin, emerge as the most frequent primary drugs for individuals seeking treatment. In Latin America, cocaine takes precedence, while in parts of Africa, cannabis remains the focal point. In East and South-East Asia, methamphetamine dominates as the primary drug leading individuals into drug treatment.

 

The report also highlights an alarming uptick in intravenous drug use, with an estimated 13.2 million people injecting drugs in 2021, marking an 18% increase from the previous year. Eastern Europe and North America emerge as the two subregions with the highest estimated prevalence of people who inject drugs, accounting for 1.3% and 1.0% of the adult population, respectively. Notably, North America now surpasses East and South-East Asia in terms of the absolute number of individuals reporting drug injection, signaling a concerning trend in the region.

 

These global patterns and regional variances underscore the complex and interconnected nature of the global drug landscape. Understanding the prevalence of specific substances in different regions is crucial for developing targeted interventions and policies that address the unique challenges faced by diverse communities. As the world grapples with evolving drug use dynamics, a comprehensive and region-specific approach is imperative to effectively tackle the multifaceted issues associated with substance use and its impact on public health.

 

Bottom Line

 

In conclusion, the UN’s World Drug Report for 2023 underscores the persistent global prevalence of substance use, with cannabis taking center stage as the most widely consumed substance. The evolving landscape of cannabis use, marked by changing gender dynamics and regional variations, suggests a complex interplay of legal, cultural, and demographic factors. Concurrently, the report emphasizes the critical challenges posed by the opioid epidemic, urging comprehensive strategies to address its escalating impact on global health. The intricate patterns and regional variances in drug use underscore the need for targeted interventions and policies, emphasizing the importance of a nuanced, region-specific approach in addressing the multifaceted issues associated with substance use and safeguarding public health worldwide.

 

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Australia Cannabis: Recreational Use Legislation Update

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Australia is said to have one of the highest cannabis prevalence rates in the world and public attitudes to its use are shifting. North American, European and other cannabis companies looking for investment opportunities would do well to follow these shifts.

Growing cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes was legalized under federal law in 2016. Low-THC hemp foods were then legalized federally in 2017. Recreational use, though, remains prohibited under federal law. Similarly, at the state and territory level it is mostly illegal to use, possess, grow, and sell cannabis. Despite these continuing prohibitions, there are legislative trends toward legalization.

If passed, the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 would change the federal landscape. It would legalize cannabis for adult recreational use in Australia. The Bill would establish the Cannabis Australia National Agency as a statutory agency to register cannabis strains and regulate cannabis activities. These activities include growing and possessing plants, manufacturing and selling cannabis products, operating cannabis cafes, and importing and exporting cannabis products.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is presently conducting an inquiry into the Bill. Submissions have now closed and public hearings have opened. The Committee’s reporting date is May 31, 2024. The Bill is expected to be debated in federal parliament later this year. At the same time, cannabis legalization bills are now being debated in several Australian states.

Despite shifting public attitudes, federal legalization may still be a way off. While the federal Bill has been promoted by a minority party, it does not enjoy the support of the ruling party or the major opposition party. It also lacks the support of the Australian Medical Association.

Stay tuned for updates on Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 and all thing Australian cannabis. And please reach out to us if you are interested in doing business in Australia.



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Why Is Everyone Suddenly Eating Magic Mushrooms and Having Wild Sex?

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New Study Reveals That Magic Mushroom Consumers Have Better Sex Lives


Magic mushrooms have been on a heyday, thanks to the numerous health and therapeutic benefits it has been proven to offer. These include, but are not limited to: treating anxiety and depression, PTSD, OC, suicidal thoughts, and other mental illnesses.

However, we’re only starting to discover the myriad of benefits that the humble magic mushroom has. Now, there’s even new science suggesting that psilocybin can help improve sex lives.

 

In what is believed to be the first-ever study to delve deeper into the connections between sex and arousal with magic mushrooms, researchers have discovered fascinating findings. Investigators at the Imperial College London surveyed almost 300 individuals before and after taking magic mushrooms. They focused on two subject groups: individuals who consumed psychedelics for recreation or wellness, and those who were consuming it for clinical study purposes to analyze its impacts on depression. Thanks to the data, they were able to pull incredible insight into the link between sex and psychedelic experiences.


The data shows that on average, there are improvements on several areas pertaining to sexual function for as long as 6 months after psychedelic experiences. Psychedelic consumption has been shown to positively impact arousal, sexual satisfaction, enjoyment, self-esteem, connection, communication, and attraction to one’s partner – all of which contribute to better sex lives. For the group who were taking magic mushrooms as part of a clinical trial for depression, nearly half experienced improvements when it came to interest in sex, satisfaction, and arousal. In contrast, individuals who are treated with popular pharmaceutical antidepressants usually say that their sex lives are negatively impacted.

 

“We believe this is the first scientific study to explore the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning. Our findings suggest potential implications for conditions that negatively affect sexual health, including clinical depression and anxiety,” said Tomasso Barba, the study’s first author, and a PhD candidate at the Centre for Psychedelic Research.

 

“This is particularly significant given that sexual dysfunction, often induced by antidepressants, frequently results in people stopping these medications and subsequently relapsing,” they added.  


In addition, it’s nothing short of fascinating that the results showed that the improvements in sexual function were observed for up to 6 months among some participants. However, it’s important to note they didn’t study performance while high on the drug, which is how many people on psychedelics experiment with sex: while on magic mushrooms.

 

“It’s important to stress our work does not focus on what happens to sexual functioning while people are on psychedelics, and we are not talking about perceived ‘sexual performance’,   they emphasized.

 

They do call for more studies on the subject. “While the findings are indeed interesting, we are still far from a clear clinical application, because psychedelics are yet to be integrated into the medical system. In future, we may be able to see a clinical application, but more research is needed,” said Dr. David Erritzoe.

 

Can Psychedelics Unlock The Key To Better, More Satisfying Sex?

As millions of us are plagued by mental health disorders, ranging from everyday anxiety to more severe depression, our sex lives will naturally suffer.


It is known that for many of us, especially women, mental health is critical to sexual satisfaction and pleasure. Sure, it’s an integral part of being human – experiencing sexual joy and arousal, but when we’re suffering from hard-to-treat mental conditions, it can be difficult to enjoy sex. Perhaps that’s where the potential of psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, come in.

 

When one is struggling with family conditioning, previous traumas, depression, and self-acceptance, pleasure can be shameful and even painful to even address. But psychedelics can help open us up mentally, and challenge past thoughts that have to do with social conditioning, receiving love and pleasure. All in all, psychedelics can help create new mental pathways that make it easier for us to receive pleasure.

 

These days, it’s no longer uncommon for couples to medicate with psychedelics together. And we don’t just mean magic mushrooms: MDMA, LSD, and ayahuasca are other forms of healing psychedelics that can help couples work through their own traumas and issues together, and as a result, enjoy better sex.

 

In another study from 2021, researchers utilized interviews to conduct a qualitative study to understand the impact of microdosing MDMA on male and female couples whose ages ranged from 20 to 35 years old. The interview questions were focused on how microdosing psychedelics affected their sexuality, confidence, relationship satisfaction, inhibition, and openness.

The participants reported that microdosing did indeed have a positive effect on sexual well-being as well as other aspects, most especially because of its ability to reduce anxiety and stress. As a result, they experienced heightened sexual pleasure, desire, and communication. Overall, they reported better sex and they attributed it to microdosing.

 

Conclusion

 

Aside from these studies, psychedelics are already an accepted tool for young people all around the world to help them improve many aspects of their lives, including sex. It is becoming clear that the ability of psychedelics to help where pharmaceutical medications fail in treating everyday mental illnesses and stress that hinder sex lives, can transform how we relate, show up, and communicate in our intimate relationships. We hope to see more studies on the subject so we can learn more about the specifics involved, and the magic that psychedelics brings into human lives.

 

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How Can Cops Tell the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

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Researchers funded by the federal government have unveiled novel techniques for distinguishing between marijuana and hemp by precisely measuring the THC levels in both flowers and edibles.

 

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), a branch of the Justice Department, is championing the findings from two research endeavors it sponsored, focusing on refining cannabis lab testing. These findings are being disseminated to specific law enforcement agencies.

 

The primary goal of these projects was to streamline testing procedures to address the increasing backlog in crime labs, exacerbated by the federal legalization of hemp with THC levels of up to 0.3 percent under the 2018 Farm Bill. This legalization has complicated cannabis-related cases.

 

According to a recent update by NIJ, existing testing methods fall short of accurately quantifying THC levels in samples. However, the researchers supported by NIJ have made a breakthrough by utilizing two distinct forms of mass spectrometry—gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and direct analysis in real time-high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS)—to isolate THC content, along with other cannabinoids.

 

Pioneering Techniques

 

The GC-MS methodology was pioneered by a team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), enabling them to extract THC from samples and conduct precise cannabinoid content analysis. The Department of Justice (DOJ) initially disclosed in 2020 its allocation of $350,000 in funding to NIST for this research endeavor.

 

Conversely, the DART-HRMS approach presents a solution to another complexity in cannabis testing encountered in forensic laboratories. This method facilitated the determination of THC levels in various products such as baked goods, candies, beverages, and plant materials with minimal pre-treatment requirements.

 

Rabi Musah, the primary researcher on the DART-HRMS team, envisions that the accelerated utilization of DART-HRMS for THC detection in cannabis samples could mitigate testing backlogs, reduce chemical reagent expenses, and streamline analysis protocols, as noted by NIJ.

 

NIST’s GC-MS technique has already catalyzed the development of new standard operating procedures for laboratories, with outcomes integrated into training procedures for law enforcement entities like the Montgomery County Police Department and Maryland State Police.

 

Furthermore, in 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a call for portable marijuana analyzers to expedite cannabinoid profile identification and aid in differentiating between marijuana and hemp.

 

In a separate initiative, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in 2019 its pursuit of a device capable of distinguishing between hemp and marijuana, particularly since the legalization of the former crop.

 

The ramifications of hemp legalization became evident in Texas, where marijuana possession arrests decreased by nearly 30% from 2018 to 2019 after the state legalized the non-intoxicating cannabis crop. Subsequently, prosecutors in Texas dismissed numerous low-level cannabis cases following hemp legalization. In 2020, officials announced that laboratories would no longer conduct testing in misdemeanor cases, citing capacity limitations within the Department of Public Safety.

 

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the hemp industry and agricultural officials nationwide are urging Congress to increase the THC limit for hemp to one percent by dry weight. A researcher from the Department of Justice recently questioned the rationale behind the current 0.3 percent THC limit, suggesting it was arbitrarily based on a decades-old anecdote.

 

Advancements in Law Enforcement Procedures

 

The integration of novel testing methods heralds a significant shift in law enforcement strategies concerning cannabis-related cases. Crime lab forensic studies have advanced to a new level of paradigm with the use of the DART-HRMS method and the GC-MS technology developed by NIST. Law enforcement officers will be able to distinguish between marijuana and hemp with remarkable accuracy thanks to these state-of-the-art approaches, which promise increased precision and efficiency. By integrating these advanced technologies into routines for standard operating procedures and training, law enforcement organizations are providing their staff with the necessary resources to handle the complex terrain of changing cannabis laws.

 

This revolutionary method improves the ability to conduct investigations and makes it easier to comply with state and federal laws on cannabis. Law enforcement organizations may ensure compliance with the ever-changing legal framework pertaining to cannabis cultivation, distribution, and use while efficiently upholding justice with the use of these cutting-edge tactics. Officers will be better prepared to handle the issues raised by the legalization of cannabis and its effects on law enforcement procedures as they become used to these innovative techniques.

 

Legal and Regulatory Implications of Hemp Legalization

 

The legalization of hemp with THC levels of up to 0.3 percent under the 2018 Farm Bill has sparked significant legal and regulatory ramifications. This legislative shift has not only complicated cannabis-related cases but has also necessitated a reevaluation of existing law enforcement protocols. As prosecutors and law enforcement officials grapple with the distinction between marijuana and hemp, the landscape of criminal justice procedures undergoes notable evolution. The dismissal of numerous low-level cannabis cases in states like Texas following hemp legalization underscores the profound impact of this legislative change on law enforcement practices.

 

Furthermore, the proposal to raise hemp’s THC limitations to 1% of dry weight is indicative of continuing discussions about federal cannabis legislation. The debate over THC restrictions highlights the necessity for a nuanced approach to cannabis regulation as advocates for legislative changes, including agricultural officials and hemp sector players, are in favor of it. In the meanwhile, the Department of Justice’s examination of the present THC restriction of 0.3 percent emphasizes how crucial evidence-based policymaking is to determining how cannabis legislation will develop in the future. Stakeholders from a variety of industries must negotiate the tricky convergence of legal, scientific, and sociological factors surrounding the legalization of hemp as regulatory frameworks continue to change.

 

Bottom Line

 

The integration of novel cannabis testing methods, including DART-HRMS and GC-MS, marks a significant advancement in law enforcement’s ability to differentiate between marijuana and hemp, streamlining investigative procedures and ensuring compliance with evolving legal frameworks. These state-of-the-art technologies promise heightened precision and efficiency, empowering law enforcement agencies to navigate the complexities of cannabis-related cases with unprecedented accuracy. As debates surrounding THC limits and federal cannabis legislation persist, stakeholders must engage in evidence-based policymaking to shape the future of hemp regulation. By staying abreast of legal and regulatory developments, law enforcement agencies can adapt their procedures accordingly, ensuring justice is served while upholding compliance with the law, thus paving the way for more effective practices in the dynamic landscape of cannabis legalization.

 

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