Media Wrap Up - May 2016

With so much travel and so many election messages to report on, cannabis has taken a bit of a backseat in May. Despite this, there have been some interesting stories in both mainstream and niche publications.

cannabis media

With the Australian federal election campaigns now in full swing, the media has been busy following campaign trails, and newspapers have been filled with the usual policy, promises and debates that go hand-in-hand with this period. And with so much travel and so many election messages to report on, cannabis has taken a bit of a backseat in May. Despite this, there have been some interesting stories in both mainstream and niche publications.

Cannabis studies

CANNABIS AND DNA: Perhaps the most publicised review in May was conducted here in Australia, by the University of Western Australia. The review, led by Albert Stuart Reece and Gary Hulse, involved an analysis of previous studies assessing the effect of cannabis on cells and how this might relate to disease risk. They noted previous research has shown a link between cannabis and increased risk of several illnesses, and through the paper, aimed to better understand the potential mechanisms underpinning the associations.

Published in the journal of Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, the study found the chemical properties of cannabis, including THC, interact with and alter the DNA of a user, which can lead to gene mutation and an increased risk of disease. The researchers pointed out a user may not develop an illness as a result of the mutation, but may pass the risk onto their children.

The authors note the impact the study may have on healthcare and policy, so it will be interesting to monitor the results that further research in the area may present.

CANNABIS AND PREGNANCY: The University of Adelaide has led an international research team to determine the effects of cannabis use on pre-term birth. The study considered a variety of factors such as age, obesity, cigarette smoking and socio-economic status, and found continued use of cannabis through 20 weeks of pregnancy was independently associated with a five-fold increase in pre-term birth risk.

A gram-a-day won’t keep the doc away

In an interesting story this month, much combatted by cannabis supporters, it has been reported a man’s gram-a-day cannabis habit caused a build-up of plaque around an artery in his big toe, resulting in a rare disease. The attending doctor noted cannabis can cause the peripheral blood vessels to tighten up, increasing the amount of plaque depositing around the arteries. This is consistent with the association between cannabis use and damage to blood vessels in the brain. But before you panic, this is a very rare condition – still cannabis can be a top-to-toe issue in terms of potential risks!

United in Compassion Medical Cannabis Symposium

In mid-May, NSW Premier Mike Baird opened the third annual United in Compassion Medical Cannabis Symposium. The event was covered in the media, with focus on the role of the Premier, and his message that the NSW Government is looking into the possibility of extending cannabis access to non-terminal patients. For more on the symposium, see our wrap up here.

Medical cannabis around the globe

In May it was reported Germany has relaxed its rules on cannabis use by the seriously ill, as it prepares to make dried flowers and cannabis extract available from pharmacies on the public health system’s dollar as early as 2017.

Back in Australia, the Queensland Palaszcuk Government has introduced new medical cannabis legislation into Parliament, that provides the first framework for cannabis oil to be administered to patients following approval for import by the TGA. The legislation is based on consultation with clinical experts.

NSW has lodged its application with the Federal Government, for a licence to grow cannabis for its medical cannabis trials. The trials thus far will be facilitated by cannabis-based drugs imported from Canada and Britain, however, the NSW Government is anticipating a possible need to grow its own supply.

And finally…

We couldn’t choose between these two stories to finish off the post… so here are both.

According to, stoned sheep who unfortunately consumed a stash of cannabis plants dumped on the side of a country road in Wales have gone on a ‘psychotic rampage’. While the nuisance they got up to has caused a bit of a laugh, all did not end well, with some sheep wandering dazed and confused onto the roads and into oncoming traffic.

And last but not least:

Well it seems cannabis does it all – not only is it alleged it cures cancer (though there is no quality human studies yet to support this claim), treat pain (studies are yet to provide solid evidence of this) and even make Crohn’s disease disappear (no quality studies are out on this one), but now it is also the latest anti-ageing miracle to hit the shelves! MGC Pharmaceuticals is cashing in on the cannabis claims, with products such as anti-ageing masks and facial creams due to hit our shores in just a few months’ time.