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Marijuana Media: Ohio votes Yes; NZ’s prohibition fever-dream; Cannabis and your heart & more

Prepare your medicinal tea or fire up that medivape, hit play and read on for this week’s Marijuana Media on 95bFM with Chris Fowlie from NORML and Jonny & Corey from bFM Drive – thanks to The Hempstore!


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Ohio becomes 24th US state to legalise cannabis for adult use

NORML reports a majority of voters in the Buckeye State said “yes” on Issue 2 — a citizens’ initiated referendum legalising the possession, home cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 or older – “just like alcohol”.

As approved by voters, the law allows for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of marijuana extract by adults.

Ohioans will be permitted to purchase marijuana at retail locations or grow up to 12 plants in a private residence (where at least two adults reside).

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Retail cannabis products will be taxed at 10 percent and sales are anticipated to generate between $276.2 million to $403.6 million in annual cannabis tax dollars by the fifth year of sales.

A separate analysis estimates that the law will provide 3,300 new jobs in the first year after legalization.

CNN reported Ohio’s law will go into effect 30 days after the vote, on 7 December. But the BBC reports because the proposed measure is a statutory question rather than a constitutional amendment, state lawmakers could amend, or even repeal, its provisions – like any other law.

The Republican-controlled Senate and the Governor are both against the measure, but it will still take effect next month, whether they like it or not.

Ohio is not exactly known as a liberal state. It’s pretty conservative. This vote by the people shows cannabis legalisation is no longer controversial, even for conservatives.

Back in New Zild, more prohibition madness

Meanwhile back here, three violent crimes in the news this week provided a depressing contrast between legalisation in the US and the half-way prohibition we’ve still got here.

Liam Lester Thompson, described by Stuff as a “24-year-old drug addict who just wanted to get high”, terrified a Geraldine couple after breaking into their house to steal cannabis, dressed all in black including black undies over his face.

Meanwhile the NZ Herald reported 47-year-old Patrick Brand is alleged to have kidnapped at gunpoint a young man he suspected of stealing his cannabis, and then held him in a dog kennel.

And Steve Braunias, also in the NZ Herald, covered the verdicts delivered in the Auckland High Court this week to Siaosi Tulua and Faaifo Joseph Siaosi, both linked to the Killer Beez gang, for two separate murders in South Auckland in 2019 as the men attempted to rob tinnie houses in a “reign of terror”.

All these violent crimes were not caused by cannabis itself but resulted from prohibition creating a lucrative illicit market that is often ruled by violence and preyed on by organised crime.

Thinking prohibition works is like some weird fever dream.

New MP says she’s not socially conservative despite voting No, twice

Parliament has a new supporter of prohibition, revealed the Spinoff this week. Meet Rima Nakhle, the new National MP who almost overshadowed Luxon’s big night:

She voted against both 2020 referendums – cannabis legalisation and euthanasia – but says that doesn’t mean she’s consistently conservative on conscience issues.

Mmmkay… Fortunately, the opinions of MPs won’t be so important as National’s coalition of chaos partner NZ First insists on referendums for all social issues.

Speaking of which, fake news circulating on social media this week that Winston Peters used to be in a psychedelic band called Electric Puha, which RNZ reported were “known for their trippy lyrics and flamboyant attire. Fans still rave about their blistering farewell set at the 1976 Nambassa festival, shortly before Winston began his political career as MP for Hunua.”

While Electric Puha was a real band, the resurfaced report from 1 April 2020 was a joke, which is a great pity.

Back at the Spinoff, one of their thirteen buzzy bits of trivia about the election is that if there was no 5% threshold the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party would have one MP.

That would be Maki Herbert, a green fairy up north. Kia ora, Maki!

Doctor college cautions clinics catering cannabis

People can stay safer by accessing legal cannabis on prescription. But Stephen Forbes at NZ Doctor reports the Royal NZ College of GPs has issued a statement cautioning against doctors who prescribe cannabis and provide it themselves, saying dispensing via pharmacies provides a vital second check in the interests of patient welfare.

My understanding is that most cannabis clinics do have pharmacists on staff doing the actual dispensing. Certainly, my recent prescription at CannaPlus+ was dispensed by a pharmacist who appeared to do the checks I’d expect at any pharmacy.

Unlike many regular doctors, the cannabis specialists at the various clinics have the expertise and experience to advise on how to best manage cannabis if you are incorporating it into your life. An example of the misinformation we are all exposed to – including our doctors – was on Newshub this week.

Take heart: cannabis risks overstated

On Wednesday, Newshub reported “Using marijuana raises the risk of heart attack, heart failure, strokes in older users studies show”. This was observational data from two new unpublished studies of older adults presented at recent American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

In one study, older adults with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol had a 20% higher risk of having a major heart or brain event while hospitalised. The other study found older people who reported daily cannabis use had a 34% increased risk of developing heart failure, compared to those who reported never using it.

That could be all your doctor learns – and it might stop them prescribing cannabis to you. Maybe they’ll dig deeper and look up the studies and read other studies for context, but that’s unlikely. Regular GPs don’t have the interest in cannabis to take that time, unlike their colleagues who specialise in prescribing cannabis.

Cannabis specialists will know cannabis use is on the rise among older adults, with most new users in legal US states being older (not younger), many of whom use it for medicinal purposes. Could the association be that people with heart issues or high blood pressure are drawn to using cannabis?

Acute use leads to a drop in blood pressure as blood vessels dilate and the body relaxes. The heart rate is increased by several bmp – like climbing a few steps and similar to the claimed health benefit from drinking alcohol. Whereas with alcohol that bpm boost is said to be a benefit, with cannabis it is deemed a risk. Go figure.

Another new study, not mentioned in the Newshub report, found middle-aged adults who consume cannabis do not have an elevated risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) compared to never users – a finding consistent with those of other longitudinal trials. The researchers concluded:

“This cross-sectional study found no association between self-reported marijuana use and increased burden of traditional ASCVD risk factors, estimated long-term ASCVD risk, or cardiometabolic profiles”.

They also reported that subjects with a history of cannabis consumption were less likely than controls to suffer from either diabetes or obesity – a finding that is also consistent with prior research.

In another published study from 2021 researchers investigating the relationship between marijuana use and the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in a nationally representative cohort of nearly 57,000 adults found, after adjusting for potential confounders (such as body mass index, tobacco smoking, and alcohol use):

”there was a decrease in the prevalence of cardiovascular events with marijuana use (Odds Ratio: 0.74).”

Yes, a decrease.

Still, if you have a dodgy ticker or a concerned about it, talk with your doctor or go see a cannabis specialist.

Japan’s easy access to CBD

The Spinoff this week ran a piece called What Aotearoa can learn from Japan’s bizarre weed culture. The author, Thomas Giblin, was startled to discover cannabis-themed CBD stores in Japan, and is worried New Zealand is about to open the door to this via over-the-counter CBD sales. He warned: “This “green rush” will soon hit Aotearoa.”

Giblin is right that Japan’s drug policy is incredibly punitive, that “conservative lawmakers in both countries have shifted drug policy away from evidence-based reform”, and:

“Akin to the BZP craze of the 2000s, Japan’s various CBD shops and cafes exist because of a legal loophole. Products made from cannabis are illegal, but synthetic cannabinoids manufactured to mimic THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis, are legal.”

He’s right to call out the lack of oversight, and that “our whānau and friends must be given the resources to make informed decisions”.

But he’s not correct to say that in New Zealand “CBD products will no longer be prescription only, as the chemical has been reclassified as a restricted medicine. Soon, CBD-infused products may appear at your local Chemist Warehouse… I might be able to walk into a chemist and buy rainbow-coloured CBD gummies”.

Not really. What has happened here is that low-dose cannabidiol products (not synthetic mimics) can now be sold over-the-counter in pharmacies (not “CBD stores”), but only once that particular product has been approved as a regular medicine.

That process usually takes clinical trials, many years, and millions of dollars. Most likely someone will do it. But it won’t be soon, and approval for that one product won’t open the door for any others. And unlike Nippon we have the Pyschoactive Substances Act preventing synthetic knock-offs.

The author’s hazy visions of neon Tokyo CBD stores won’t happen here under these changes. Unfortunately. Low dose cannabidiol products are commonly available over-the-counter overseas.

Wear hemp, not plastic

Finally, the NZ Herald reported this week your gym clothes could be leaching toxic chemicals onto your skin and into your bloodstream. Their first tip? Wear hemp. I couldn’t agree more.

Coming up:

  • NORML presents Auckland J Day on Saturday 2 December. Albert Park, high noon to 4:20, details here.
  • First Thursdays Double Kirihimete Special – Thurs 7th and Thurs 21st December. Substance testing at The Hempstore, 3-7pm, thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation. Find a testing clinic here.


Marijuana Media airs every Thursday at 4:20pm on 95bFM, with your hosts bFM Drive’s Jonny and Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore. Stream or download the pot-cast for this show here or hundreds of previous Marijuana Media shows at (or via iTunes / RSS feed). Thanks to The Hemp Store!

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