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Week In Review: Chile Considers Cannabis While Scotland Makes Ending Busts A New Year's Resolution

The news on cannabis developments is coming fast and furious these days. Frankly, we can't keep up with everything, so we offer a weekly roundup of issues and events that should be on your radar, with links to stories that cover the issues in greater depth.

1. Advocacy bootcamp in Houston

Aspiring activists are gathering this weekend in Houston for an advocacy training session sponsored by Texas Marijuana Policy, a group clamoring to make cannabis an issue in the state's 2016 campaigns. The event, which is the fifth in a series being held across the state, will feature David Clark, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) as a guest speaker.

"If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to reduce the harms to society caused by drugs, then prohibition should be illegal, not marijuana," said Clark in a press release.

Right now, only limited use of medicinal cannabis is legal in the Lone Star State.

2. Scotland's New Year's Resolution

Cannabis may become part of the Hogmanay (New Year's) celebrations in Scotland as police plan to stop arresting adults caught with small amounts of cannabis starting in January 2016. Instead, cops will give on-the-spot warnings - a policy that England and Wales have followed since 2003.

The Crown Office (Scotland's prosecution service) told The Herald,

"This police the discretion to issue a warning for offences which they consider to be very minor in nature. They will not be used for any offence of violence. This system provides a mechanism that is timely and proportionate, avoids the need for the preparation and submission of a standard police report, and enables the Procurator Fiscal and court to focus on more serious crimes while giving police the range of powers they need to respond quickly and appropriately to very minor offences."

In other words, police and prosecutors are giving verbal warnings so they can focus on more pressing issues.

3. Will a second South American country legalize?

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has pulled a Bernie Sanders. On Dec. 7, Bachelet signed a decree removing cannabis from the country's list of the hard drugs. That's very similar to Bernie's Senate bill, which would repeal federal prohibition of cannabis in America.

But Chileans won't be able to start buying cannabis from retailers just yet. The Chilean Congress will debate whether or not to legalize and regulate cannabis in the country. If they do, they will join their continental neighbor Uruguay, which legalized in 2013.

However, the president's decree will have an immediate effect on the lives of many Chileans by allowing the country's pharmacies to provide cannabis-derived medicine to patients.

4. Colorado's pesticide problem

Pesticides are becoming the bane of Colorado's cannabis industry. In November 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order to have any plants grown with unapproved pesticides removed from the market and destroyed.

But what are these pesticides, and how dangerous are they? The Cannabist has a list of the five most common illegal pesticides being used - 1 fungicide and 4 insecticides - and offers an overview of how dangerous they are according to the World Health Organization.

And if you want to know what pesticides are legal, check out this list from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

5. Hospital bans medicine

Michel Arsenault, a resident of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and chronic pain is fighting to the right to take his medicine at the hospital.

Arsenault was prescribed medicinal cannabis in 2005 to deal with chronic pain, but hospital staff at the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre refuse to let him vape onsite. The hospital currently bans smoking, but it doesn't have an official policy on vaping. Arsenault argues that it's unjust to conflate the two issues.

"You should compare apples to apples," he told CBC. "There's no harm to my health, there's no smell. I don't know what the problem is."

Arsenault wants New Brunswick hospitals to follow the example of Quebec's Sherbrooke University Health Centre, which decided in June 2014 that patients who were too sick to leave their rooms should be allowed to vape.

In 2014, Dr. Serge Lepage - the president of the Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CMDP) at Sherbrooke - told the CBC, "By law we are here to help to maintain and promote and heal patients. So in the process, if at one point marijuana has to be used, we should be there for the patient."


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