By then the traditional concept of hippies smoking pot and elderly ladies serving tea and cakes laced with cannabis has given way to the worldwide promotion of legalised “medicinal” products of an entirely different nature. What one thought of as “cannabis” extracted from plants has little similarity to the packaged items now sold on-line and at dispensaries. These are made by putting the pulverised marijuana into retorts through which are run mixtures of butane, ethanol, propane and carbon dioxide to derive a wax substance that can be as high as 75% THC. Then the wax can be further processed in vacuum ovens to produce an oil concentrate of 95% THC known as “dabs”.

Recent exhaustive research in Finland and Denmark has produced evidence that the manufacture and distribution within the EU of “medical cannabis” has boomed enormously due to its promotion by the industries which control the addiction businesses of alcohol, pharmaceuticals and tobacco. To these the cloak of being able to purvey marijuana based products as clean, licensed medicines has been a godsend with potentially higher profits than those made from marketing old style drugs. The range now available via the internet and some pharmacies is colossal ranging through vape and joints to teas, juices, snacks and chocolate all of which can be bought by “recommendations” which are not prescriptions but a form of discount card to encourage repeat orders and consequent dependency by a public which is willingly convinced that aches and pains can relieved by safe consumption.

Yet, studies of this now widespread use of “dabs” made during the past five years show that the risk of conversion of anxiety psychosis to disorders such as the schizophrenia-spectrum and bipolarity (also termed as manic depression) is exponential to the level of THC in the “medicine” and can lead to highly irrational behaviour. insanity and suicide.

The Portuguese social experiment of decriminalising the personal possession of hallucinatory substances has met with limited success in the 21st century; but neither the SNS nor the judiciary are prepared for the imminent influx of this new and highly potent form of cannabis.

The current proposals of the Eurox Group and Cann10-Portugal to grow the plants and process marijuana in factories to be established in the districts of Castelo Branco, Vila de Rei and Grandola and to import similar products from Israel will soon come to fruition following which Portugal may well become the gateway to Europe for the distribution of the New Age Weed and consequent opening of rehabilitation clinics.

by email, Roberto Cavaleiro, Tomar