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Medical marijuana gains more steam internationally after gaining legalization in Colombia

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Colombia on Tuesday became the latest in a growing number of nations around the world to legalize the use of cannabis for medical reasons.

However the rules vary widely across continents, with some countries permitting cannabis cultivation and others only allowing pharmaceuticals extracted from the drug.

A state of play:

– LATIN AMERICA –

– COLOMBIA: President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree Tuesday making it fully legal to grow, process, import and export cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific use.

– CHILE: Chile said in October it plans to allow the sale of marijuana-derived medication in pharmacies. The measure requires strict oversight, including authorisation by a specialist and inventory checks.

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– MEXICO: An eight-year-old girl who endures 400 daily epileptic seizures became in September Mexico’s first authorised consumer of imported medical cannabis after the government granted her an exemption to its marijuana ban.

– URUGUAY: Uruguay in December 2013 became the first country in the world to fully legalise marijuana all the way from the cannabis field to the joint, setting up a regulated market for cultivation, sales and use.

– NORTH AMERICA –

– THE UNITED STATES: Federal law bans the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana. However, twenty-three US states allow medical marijuana use while four states — Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and Washington — plus the US capital city have legalised its recreational use.

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– CANADA: Cannabis consumption for medical reasons has been legal since 2001. In June 2015, the Supreme Court expanded the definition of medical marijuana to allow authorised users to bake it into cookies and brew marijuana leaves for tea, in addition to smoking it.

– EUROPE –

– CROATIA: In October Croatia became the 13th European Union country to allow the medical use of cannabis. Medicines containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient, can now be prescribed by doctors to ease health problems associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS.

– Austria, Britain, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain already authorised cannabis-derived products to help treat certain illnesses.

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New Zealand opens gun buyback after mosque killings

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New Zealand opened a gun buyback scheme Thursday aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons similar to those used in the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed in the hours after the March 15 killings that New Zealand's gun laws would be tightened and her government has expedited the change in just three months.

"The buyback and amnesty has one objective -- to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques," Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

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Convicted on all seven counts: US sex cult leader Keith Raniere attracted the rich and famous

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A US jury on Wednesday convicted a "self-help" guru of racketeering, sex trafficking and other crimes for his leadership of a cult-like organization of sex slaves he branded like cattle.

Keith Raniere, 58, coerced a string of women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of a life-coaching group he founded in New York state.

Nxivm -- pronounced Nexium -- had proved a huge draw since its 2003 launch, attracting a coterie of rich and famous devotees such as the "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, and spreading into cities across the United States.

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Pompeo ups pressure on Russia over four MH17 accused

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Moscow must ensure that those charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 face justice, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, after international investigators accused three Russians and a Ukrainian over the disaster.

The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals.

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