May 142015

A law-enforcement task force in Yavapai County cut a $50,000 check from RICO funds to a substance-abuse group dedicated to fighting marijuana legalization in Arizona. The deal between the Yavapai County-based Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) task force and MATFORCE, the county drug prevention group, was made soon after the Marijuana Policy Project announced it would launch a 2016 legalization campaign in Arizona — and more public funding against legalization could be on the way. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion, based on a question by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, that public resources could continue to “educate” the public about the alleged evils of marijuana legalization. The decision allows elected officials to do more than simply use their time for a campaign against a planned ballot initiative — they can apparently spend money on advertising and other efforts, too.

Israel’s police chief Yohanan Danino has urged authorities to re-evaluate legal approaches to the recreational use of marijuana following a major pro-cannabis protest with the participation of Knesset members last week. Danino spoke to high school students near Jerusalem, and stated they would be “surprised to hear” the existing government policies regarding cannabis. “I think it’s time for the police, along with the state, to reevaluate its traditional position,” Danino added, as quoted by the Times of Israel. Danino said that he had spoken to the legislators, urging them to re-think the Knesset’s traditional position on cannabis use. The latest statements come about a week after a few Knesset members from both sides of the political spectrum joined over a thousand people who took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest the criminalization of recreational marijuana use. Over 21,000 Israelis are medically licensed to use marijuana legally.

A bill passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly seeks to limit junk food purchases and require Wisconsin Work job training recipients to submit to drug testing. Funding for the Wisconsin Works drug tests has been voiced as a concern if the legislation becomes law. The cost of software at grocery store checkouts designed to track junk food purchases was also reportedly a concern for Wisconsin lawmakers. The Wisconsin drug testing bill would impact both the Wisconsin Works state job training program recipients and “certain applicants” that apply for unemployment benefits. Wisconsin state law mandates that all able-bodied adults who do not have dependent children get job training in order to receive food stamps. The drug test would also be applied to “some” food stamp recipients. Republican members of the state assembly who support the welfare junk food bill and drug testing bill reportedly want to ensure that public assistance recipient are healthy and, therefore, more employable.

Year two of the University of Kentucky’s Hemp Research Pilot Program is underway. Thursday, researchers from the school’s College of Agriculture gathered to plant more hemp for the 2015 projects. Last year, the university planted less than tenth of an acre. This year, they’re planting hemp on 30 acres. The university already has three studies set up to investigate various uses of the crop. One study will address fiber production, another cannabinoid production, and a third will take a look at manipulating plant growth to try and keep seeds smaller at harvest time. Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has secured a permit from federal drug enforcement officials to import industrial hemp seed from foreign countries. The seeds are essential to kick-start Colorado’s hemp industry, which state agriculture officials say has seen a bottleneck in research and cultivation due to a lack of viable seed stocks.

A low-dose THC pill wasn’t effective at mitigating symptoms of dementia, researchers reported. In a randomized controlled trial, patients who were taking either placebo or oral tetrahydrocannabinol had similar reductions in neuropsychiatric symptoms, reported Dr. Geke van den Elsen. However, they pointed out that the 4.5-mg daily dose was well-tolerated, so a dosage increase may boost efficacy, they wrote online in Neurology. Some early evidence suggests that THC, the active component in marijuana, can improve symptoms such as agitation and nocturnal motor activity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. None of the participants reported feeling “high” nor were any observed as behaving “high” by caregivers or research staff. “The observation that there was no biological signal of adverse events suggests that the dosage was too low, as a psychoactive drug is rarely effective without showing any side effects,” they wrote.