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Is Europe entering a medical cannabis golden age?



German decriminalization and medical cannabis legalization appears to be leading the European Union into a golden age for medical weed on The Continent. 

That’s the perspective from International Cannabis Business Conference CEO Alex Rogers, who chatted with Leafly live on Instagram May 11 from his base in Slovenia.

Human rights law have given cover to personal cannabis freedoms like a proposed 3 plants, 25 grams, and personal possession at the national level in Germany. 

Medical cannabis pilot programs should yield the first German dispensaries.

“This is Europe’s time. Now, it’s actually happening.”

Alex Rogers, CEO, International Cannabis Business Conference

Consequently, ‘social club’ models may likely take root in Germany, the way they already have in Barcelona, Spain—and the way they did in California at the dawn of medical cannabis legalization in the 2000s. CBD, hemp, and seed commerce have already taken off in Europe. 

“This is Europe’s time,” said Rogers. “Now, it’s actually happening.”

Watch the entire interview by clicking on this embed:

The International Cannabis Business Conference-Berlin goes down at the end of June, amid a 30,000-person consumer festival and expo called Mary Jane Berlin June 23-25. American dollars go further than ever in Europe right now, and the weather has begin heating up—making now the time to make sure your passport is current and book a trip.


7 trends coming to your cannabis from Spannabis

Here’s a related video from Spannabis 2023

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B.C. decriminalization

Did Portugal Really Decriminalize Drugs? – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana




Did Portugal really decriminalize drugs? This seems like an obvious answer. In 2001, the European country decriminalized drugs. While possession and use were (and still are) technically illegal, the authorities treat it as a public health issue rather than a criminal offence.

The success of this program has prompted other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, to try their hand at decriminalization.

However, there are substantial differences between the two. Whereas Portugal has over sixty therapeutic communities designed to eliminate addictive behaviour, British Columbia has zero of these communities.

Instead, the B.C. government is providing a “safe supply” brought to you by large pharmaceutical companies. The same ones that help foster the opioid crisis that requires this “safe supply.”

In B.C., if police catch you with decriminalized drugs, they hand over literature. In Portugal, authorities referred you to a “dissuasion commission.”

So did Portugal really decriminalize drugs? On the surface, yes. But as we experienced with COVID, making something a “public health” issue doesn’t mean you won’t be forced against your will.

Did Portugal Really Decriminalize Drugs?

Did Portugal Really Decriminalize Drugs?

Since 2001, Portuguese citizens caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use aren’t arrested or given criminal records. Instead, police refer them to a “dissuasion commission” that consists of psychologists, social workers, and legal advisors.

The commission evaluates the individual’s drug use and decides whether they need treatment, education, or advice on reducing their drug use.

As Dr. Julian Somers told CLN, “They’re not saying overcoming addiction means not using drugs anymore. They say overcoming addiction means being socially reintegrated.”

The Portuguese recognized that it wasn’t drug use per se causing social problems. It was the individual’s relationship to drugs.

Cannabis connoisseurs are well aware of how little the pharmacology of the drug matters. When we consume cannabis, some experience joy, euphoria, or creativity. At the same time, others experience paranoia or anxiety. Some are social consumers, while others prefer to use cannabis alone before bed.

Since the Portuguese government accepted this fact about drugs, they were able to craft a decriminalization policy that worked.

But did Portugal really decriminalize drugs? Because decriminalization doesn’t mean anything if a “dissuasion commission” can compel you to behave or act in a certain way.

While the commission can impose fines, they cannot impose jail time or force people into treatment or rehab against their will. But they do confiscate your drugs. And in addition to fines, you may also be penalized with community service.

As opposed to B.C., where they let you keep your drugs and hand you literature, essentially telling you to “Just Say No.”

Has Portugal Succeeded? 

In 2001, Portugal’s overdose rates were similar to Europe’s. In the first five years of decriminalization, drug deaths dropped dramatically.

Since then, they’ve been steadily rising. While drug deaths in Portugal remain some of the lowest in the E.U., the overdose trend is similar to the rest of Europe.

Portugal also has some of the lowest drug use in Europe. However, many dispute the data behind Portuguese consumption rates.

Critics of Portugal’s decriminalization also argue that it has failed to address the root causes of drug addiction. Others have argued that it doesn’t go far enough.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to compare one country with another. According to the data, in 2015, there were 33,290 “high-risk” opioid users in Portugal. This is higher than the European average but lower than when Portugal decriminalized in 2001.

So whether Portugal’s decriminalization is successful will depend on your criteria.

But if a public health “dissuasion commission” can impose fines, strongly suggest treatment, or force you to do community service – can it really be said that Portugal decriminalized drugs? 

Did Portugal Really Decriminalize Drugs?

Did Portugal really decriminalize drugs? Technically, yes. But not in the sense of decriminalization being synonymous with legalization. And certainly not in the sense that decriminalization will lead to legalization.

Decriminalization in Portugal was a public health policy. And as we learned from COVID, categorizing criminal behaviours as “public health” disorders isn’t always a step in the right direction.

We have centuries of criminal law and customs to draw from. A public health commission is politically biased. It lacks due process, transparency, and lacks procedural safeguards, such as the right to a fair trial or the right to an impartial tribunal.

Addictive behaviour is a mental health issue. Did Portugal really decriminalize drugs? Yes, but drugs weren’t the issue. The issue was demand, not supply. This is what B.C. has failed to understand.

Suppose the only other alternative to criminalization is the authority of public health busybodies. In that case, it’s not evident that decriminalization is the preferred choice.

A better option is to legalize all drugs.

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adastra labs

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production? – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana




Has Health Canada approved a B.C.-based cannabis company to produce cocaine? Adastra Labs released a statement saying Health Canada granted them a “Dealer’s Licence” that allows them to possess, produce, sell and distribute 250 grams of cocaine.

The company can legally import coca leaves to manufacture and synthesize the substance locally.

Additionally, the Dealer’s License grants Adastra the right to possess, produce, sell and distribute up to 1,000 grams of psilocybin mushrooms.

“Harm reduction is a critically important and mainstream topic, and we are staying at the forefront of drug regulations across the board,” said Michael Forbes, CEO of Adastra.

“We proactively pursued the amendment to our Dealer’s License to include cocaine back in December 2022. We will evaluate how the commercialization of this substance fits in with our business model at Adastra in an effort to position ourselves to support the demand for a safe supply of cocaine.”

Health Canada Approves B.C. Cocaine Production? News to the B.C. Premier

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production?
Photo: Andres Markwart

British Columbia‘s unelected Premier David Eby told the press that he was “astonished” that Health Canada granted a cannabis company the right to possess, produce, sell and distribute cocaine.

He said: “If Health Canada did in fact do this, they did it, not only without engaging with the province, but without notice to us.”

“It is not part of our provincial plan,” he added, referring to the joint effort from Ottawa and B.C. to decriminalize drugs like cocaine, opioids, amphetamines and ecstasy.

On January 30, 2023, possessing 2.5 grams or less of these substances is no longer a criminal offence. The police instead hand out literature suggesting the person seek professional help.

B.C.’s opposition parties aren’t happy about Health Canada approving cocaine production in the province. During Question Period, B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon asked the premier, “What on earth is going on here?”

“Since the NDP decriminalized hard drugs like cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine, this company’s stock price has doubled.” He said. “But let’s be really clear here. Cocaine isn’t prescribed. It isn’t safe. This is wrong. Commercializing cocaine as a business opportunity amounts to legalizing cocaine trafficking, full stop. So, why has this premier allowed for the commercialization of cocaine?”

Health Canada has yet to make a statement to the press as of this publication.

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production? Follow the Money

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production?

Interesting that politicians would disapprove of Health Canada approving cocaine production. Canada’s cannabis connoisseurs are well aware of how former cops and politicians have capitalized on the legal cannabis market.

Meanwhile, the legacy growers in B.C. are either taxed to oblivion or kept underground and “illegal.”

The same is valid here. While the CEO of Adastra has a past with methadone pharmacies and needle exchange programs, the real corruption comes from within the government.

Dr. Perry Kendall, for example, is B.C.’s former provincial health officer. He held the job for twenty years.

He now owns a heroin company.

So the guy who still influences Victoria’s politicians and bureaucrats, who promotes “safe supply” and decriminalization, is also profiting from it.

Health Canada approving cocaine production is about making sure decriminalization lines the pockets of key players.

How Dangerous is Cocaine, Anyway?

Coca leaves (AP / Juan Karita)

Of course, the moral panic over Health Canada approving cocaine production is a nothingburger. The real crime is that a) cocaine is illegal, and b) Health Canada picks and chooses which private companies can produce cocaine while it remains illegal for the rest of us.

But what about what the B.C. Liberal leader said? That cocaine isn’t safe. That producing made-in-B.C. cocaine is wrong?

Drug war propaganda, unfortunately, still holds sway over too many Canadians, whether on the left or right of the political spectrum. Consider some of these myths and facts about cocaine.

Myth: Cocaine is highly addictive, even in small amounts.

Fact: Forming a cocaine habit is one of the easiest things in the world. However, you will not get “addicted” after snorting one line—people that do have psychological problems. The pharmacology of the drug does not override your free will and force you to consume it.

Myth: Cocaine is safer than crack cocaine.

Fact: They’re the same drug. Crack cocaine is cocaine combined with a base, typically baking soda. If you were talking about lung health, snorting coke would be safer than smoking crack.

Myth: Cocaine will lead to financial ruin

Fact: Poor psychological problems will lead to financial ruin. Many people have balanced their cocaine use or habits without impacting their social, business, and family lives.

Myth: Cocaine makes you crazy

Fact: Cocaine enhances mood and increases alertness and energy levels.

Of course, cocaine has side effects. It can cause heart palpitations and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and seizures.

Not to mention, sketchy manufacturers of street cocaine may mix it with another drug, like fentanyl.

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production – Now What?

Health Canada Approves Cocaine Production?

The anti-drug puritans from both sides of the aisle are wrong. Some make a case for why Adastra Labs needs to provide a “safe supply,” while others are adamant that this constitutes “legalizing cocaine trafficking” and the commercialization of the drug.

But the problem isn’t drugs. It’s people’s relationship with them. For example, because I have asthma, I rarely, if ever, smoke cannabis anymore. I make my own edibles and extracts.

If I were to start smoking again, I’d be putting myself at a significant health risk. I would be turning a healthy relationship with cannabis into a problematic one.

All drugs should be legal. But so should drug education free of drug war propaganda.

Consider cocaine versus extreme sports like backcountry skiing.

Individuals who pursue extreme sports know the risks and take precautions to minimize them. Depending on the sport, an individual may even receive extensive training beforehand.

Individuals who choose to use cocaine must also be aware of the drug’s risks and take precautions to minimize them.

How can cocaine users minimize their risk? One, ensure their mental health is in order. Are you using cocaine at a party to have some fun? Or are you by yourself using it as a coping mechanism to deal with stress?

Two, make sure your physical health is in order. If you have a poor or aging heart, cocaine isn’t the drug for you.

And third, the best way to minimize cocaine risks is to ensure your supply isn’t tainted with other drugs or substances you don’t want.

That’s why Health Canada’s approval of local B.C. cocaine production is a step in the right direction. Now, only if they’d open the market to everyone instead of a single cannabis company.

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All about Cannabis

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain? – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana




With legal cannabis across Canada and drugs like fentanyl and heroin decriminalized in British Columbia, the question remains: can drugs hijack your brain?

It’s an all-too-common belief among so-called “experts” and the general public. The general idea is that drugs (or food, gambling, porn, etc.) can “hijack” the brain’s dopamine pathways and essentially compel you to behave a certain way.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the brain’s reward system. The brain releases it in response to pleasurable and painful stimuli.

Drugs like cocaine, for example, cause excessive dopamine release in the brain. This can lead to feelings of intense pleasure and euphoria. Over time, the repeated use of these drugs can lead to changes in the brain’s dopamine pathways, causing them to become “hijacked.”

The “experts” say the same thing can occur with cannabis, although not as severe (or as rapid) as the way it happens with cocaine.

But what if this viewpoint is bunk? What if referring to “dopamine” as the “everything chemical” and promoting “dopamine fasting” is just the moral values of Science™ masquerading as fact?

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain? Five Major Criticisms 

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain?

Can drugs hijack your brain? There are five significant criticisms of this viewpoint.

  1. Over-simplification. Some experts argue that the hijacking of the dopamine pathways is too simple to explain the complex phenomenon of dependency. They point out that drug dependency involves multiple brain regions and systems, not just the dopamine pathways.
  2. Lack of evidence. Critics argue that there is limited direct evidence to support the hijacking hypothesis and that the theorists base their information on indirect and circumstantial evidence.
  3. Dopamine is not the only factor. The hijacking hypothesis focuses solely on dopamine and its role in the brain’s reward system. But many critics argue that other factors, such as genetics, environment, and individual choice, also play a role.
  4. Individual variability. Critics argue that the hijacking hypothesis does not account for individual variability in how different people respond to drugs. For example, some people may be more susceptible to opioid dependency than others, even when exposed to the same drug.
  5. Medications. Critics argue that the hijacking hypothesis does not fully explain why some medications, such as buprenorphine, can effectively treat addiction by stabilizing the dopamine pathways, while other drugs, such as cocaine, lead to hijacking.

Neuroscience has become all the rage, particularly among people looking to optimize (or to eliminate, change or modify) certain behaviours. But neuroscience relies on correlational evidence to establish a connection between brain activity and behaviour or mental processes.

However, correlation does not imply causation. Associations between variables can’t and won’t prove causality.

Reducing the mind to mere brain activity oversimplifies the complex nature of conscious experience. Current neuroscience methods are not equipped to capture the holistic nature of the mind. 

Neuroscience relies heavily on imaging techniques such as fMRI to study the brain. However, these methods have limitations, such as poor temporal resolution.

But ultimately, the problem is that neuroscience can’t determine the precise nature of the relationship between brain activity and mental processes. 

Neuroscience can’t objectively study the mind.

So with this in mind, is there any evidence to support the belief that drugs can hijack the mind?

Is Dopamine Too Simple of an Explanation?

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain?

The hijacking of dopamine pathways is too simple an explanation for the complex phenomenon of consciousness and a desire to use drugs. Consider what drug dependency involves.

  1. Involvement of multiple brain regions. Drug dependency is a complex process that involves many brain regions, not just the dopamine pathways. For example, other brain regions that play a role in dependency include the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus. These regions regulate emotions, motivation, decision-making, and learning, all of which can be affected by growing dependent on specific drugs or activities.
  2. Neuroplasticity. Drug dependency is a process that leads to changes in the brain over time. These changes, known as neuroplasticity, occur in multiple brain regions and can lead to the development of new neural pathways that support drug seeking and use. But this happens whenever you learn a new habit. No one feels compelled to drive a car, but most of us can do it in our sleep thanks to neuroplasticity.
  3. Psychological and environmental factors. Drug dependency is not just a matter of brain chemistry. It also involves psychological and environmental factors, such as stress, trauma, and cost of living, which can contribute to its development and maintenance. For example, notorious alcoholic poet Charles Bukowski drank significantly less later in life as he came across money and success.
  4. Interactions with other systems. Drug dependency also involves interactions with other systems in the body, such as the stress response system and the immune system.
  5. Individual variability. Drug dependency is a complex and highly personal phenomenon that various factors, such as genetics, personality, and environment, can influence. 

Five Reasons “Dopamine Hijacking” is a Theory

  1. Lack of direct measurements. There is a lack of direct measurements of dopamine levels in the brain during drug use, making it difficult to establish the role of dopamine in dependency.
  2. Indirect measurements. The evidence for the hijacking hypothesis is primarily based on indirect measures of dopamine, such as PET scans and functional MRI. These provide only a snapshot of the brain. They do not reflect the complex and dynamic changes that occur in the brain over time. Some critics argue that brain scans amount to reading tea leaves.
  3. Circumstantial evidence. Critics argue that much of the proof of the hijacking hypothesis is circumstantial and based on correlations between drug use and dopamine release. To date, there have been no direct cause-and-effect relationships established.
  4. Model limitations: Researchers base the hijacking hypothesis on animal studies, which have limitations in generalizing to humans. For example, the methods used to study drug dependency in animals, such as self-administration models, may not accurately reflect the complexity and heterogeneity of human beings. Not to mention, unlike animals, we don’t always rely on instinct. We can think and reason.
  5. Complexity of the brain. Critics argue that the brain is a complex system and that the hijacking hypothesis oversimplifies the many factors and processes.

Five More Reasons “Dopamine Hijacking” is a Theory

  1. Individual differences. Individual differences, such as personality, coping skills, and motivations for drug use, can also play a role in the development of drug dependency.
  2. Interactions with other systems. Critics argue that the hijacking hypothesis focuses solely on dopamine and the brain’s reward system. It neglects other methods, such as the stress system, that can also play a role in drug dependency.
  3. Differences in sensitivity to drugs. Some individuals may be more sensitive to the rewarding effects of drugs, making them more susceptible to dependency. The hijacking hypothesis does not account for why some people love cannabis while others hate it. Or why some people can enjoy cocaine at a party but not touch it again for weeks.
  4. Different drug-taking patterns. Different individuals may have different patterns of drug use, such as frequency and dose, that can contribute to developing dependency. The hijacking hypothesis does not account for the role of these differences in drug-taking patterns.
  5. Different mechanisms of action. Some experts argue that the hijacking hypothesis does not fully explain why some medications, such as buprenorphine, can stabilize the dopamine pathways while other drugs, such as cocaine, lead to hijacking. Different mechanisms of action, such as how drugs bind to brain receptors, may play a role in this discrepancy. Differences in the effects of drugs on multiple brain systems, beyond just the dopamine pathways, may also play a role.

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain?

Can Drugs Hijack Your Brain?

Can drugs hijack your brain by hijacking your dopamine? If that belief helps you get through life, don’t let me stop you.

The idea drugs or specific activities can “hijack” your brain and make you addicted is a theory based on indirect and circumstantial evidence.

Drug dependency is a complex phenomenon that the hijacking hypothesis cannot fully explain.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize British Columbia’s drug decriminalization. Especially when the “experts” believe all that’s stopping people from seeking help is the “stigma” associated with the illegality of drugs.

But suppose you oppose decriminalization or legalization based on the hypothesis that drugs can “hijack” your brain. 

In that case, you might as well oppose gay marriage based on words written in a religious text. Meaning, you can oppose drugs on a moral or ethical basis. But you lose all credibility once you decide what’s best for others. Especially when your justification is the Science™.

Using drugs, whether it’s a dab of cannabis shatter, a bottle of beer, a hit of LSD, or a line of cocaine, involves the release of numerous neurochemicals and hormones in the body. This leads to a complex interplay of effects.

By attributing drug dependency solely to dopamine, we encourage individuals to externalize the problem and blame it on a neurotransmitter. But it is more productive to focus on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of drug dependency.

If the “experts” want to help, they should call to attention the individual’s actions, motivations, and the cultural or societal significance they attribute to their drug-taking behaviour. They should focus on changing people’s beliefs about drugs rather than fixating on these irrelevant neurochemicals.

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