Embassy Headlines, Issue 1

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy is always trying to get the good news out there. Michael Balderstone is going to provide his pick of news stories relating to the War on Drugs and Cannabis law reform issues, every week with the HEMP Embassy Headlines.


Trio of MPs to push for probe into drugs laws


Decriminalizing drugs will be investigated by Australia’s top independent policy adviser under a plan championed by a trio of federal MPs from different sides of Parliament, with the aim to take politics out of the debate. In April a report from the Australia21 think tank argued the ”war on drugs” and tough stance on illegal substances had failed, sparking debate and gaining support for decriminalising personal use from eminent Australians, including former police commissioners and premiers. Liberal MP Mal Washer, Greens senator Richard Di Natale (who are both doctors) and independent Rob Oakeshott will this morning call on the government to ask the Productivity Commission to investigate the current adequacy of illegal drug laws.

Alternative World Drug Report exposes destructive nature of $100 billion a year global war on drugs


A new report, launched to coincide with publication of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2012 World Drug Report, exposes the failure of governments and the UN to assess the extraordinary costs of pursuing a global war on drugs, and calls for UN member states to meaningfully count these costs and explore all the alternatives.

Beatles Blamed for Drug Epidemics in Russia


The rampant drug abuse in modern Russia can be traced to the Beatles and their experiments with psychedelics, the country’s top substance abuse official said on Monday. “After the Beatles travelled to Indian ashrams to expand their consciousness, they introduced the idea of changing your mental condition through drugs to the populace,” Yevgeny Bryun said. Russia has about 5 million drug addicts, a 60-percent increase from 2000, Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov said in February.

Advocates sue NYC police over marijuana arrests


A legal aid group sued the New York City Police Department on Friday, saying officers had illegally arrested thousands of people for small quantities of concealed marijuana instead of issuing them tickets as required by law. The lawsuit by the Legal Aid Society, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on behalf of five New Yorkers arrested in April and May, wants the court to declare such arrests unlawful and issue an injunction to stop officers from making them. The suit marks the latest line of attack by civil rights advocates against misdemeanor marijuana arrests, which have skyrocketed in New York City in recent years, from about 2,000 a year in 1990 to more than 50,000 annually in 2010 and 2011. This year, Governor Andrew Cuomo entered the fray, unsuccessfully pushing for legislation to decriminalize public possession of small quantities of pot.

Mexico elections: failure of drugs war leaves nation at the crossroads


Mexicans know that the country must take urgent measures now to try to put an end to the appalling violence if it is to claim the place in the world its economy justifies. And although Mexico is umbilically tied to the US war on drugs, and fights on the frontline of that war, senior Mexican diplomatic officials suggest to the Observer in private that, whoever wins the election, this must change; that there must be a major rethink and a shift towards initiatives in Latin America that challenge the “war on drugs” to which the US remains committed.

Is Uruguay About To Become The First Country To Legalize Cannabis?


Ironically, around 4:20pm (eastern) today, the phones lit up at NORML with numerous newswire services and major media outlets contacting the organization about a bill in Uruguay that appears to be on greased tracks to pass in the legislature and signed into law by President Jose Mujica as the government itself is proffering the reform legislation. If Uruguay moves forward, the country will become the first since the signing of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 that has moved forward with a tax-n-regulate policy for non-medical access to cannabis products. The country previously decriminalized cannabis possession in the 1970s.

David Nutt: alcohol consumption would fall 25% if cannabis cafes were allowed


A former government adviser on drugs has told MPs that alcohol consumption would fall by as much as 25% if Dutch-style cannabis “coffee shops” were introduced in Britain. Prof David Nutt also told the Commons home affairs committee that he stood by his claim that horse-riding was more dangerous than taking ecstasy, despite the fact that the comparison triggered his sacking as chairman of the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs (ACMD). Nutt told MPs the cost of policing cannabis use was only £500m a year, mainly for issuing possession warning notices, compared with the £6bn a year bill for policing the use of alcohol, including dealing with people who were drunk and disorderly.

Why Activist/Comedian Randy Credico Sparked a Joint at the New York State Capitol


On Wednesday, political activist and comedian Randy Credico engaged in a novel protest and civil disobedience inside of the New York State Capitol building: he smoked a joint. Credico’s protest was aimed directly at the Senate Republicans, who killed a smart proposal to expand the state’s current marijuana decriminalization law. The sensible proposal to reduce the ghastly number of costly, biased and unlawful arrests for marijuana possession was introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and enjoyed the overwhelming support of both drug policy advocates and law enforcement officials from across the state. After learning of the Senate Republicans plan to kill the bill, Credico took action: he went to the Capitol, lit up, and smoked a joint in the door way of the Albany Times Union, located in the press area.

US/Mexico Drug War “Caravan of Peace” Gearing Up


Aghast and appalled at the bloody results of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs, which has resulted in at least 50,000 deaths since he deployed the military against the so-called drug cartels in December 2006 and possibly as many as 70,000, dozens of organizations in Mexico and the US announced Monday that they will take part in a “Caravan for Peace” that will journey across the US late this summer in a bid to change failed drug war policies on both sides of the border. Led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who was spurred to action by the murder of his son by cartel members in Cuernavaca in 2010, and the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) he heads, the caravan will depart from San Diego on August 12 and arrive in Washington on September 10 after traveling some 6,000 miles to bring to the American people and their elected officials the bi-national message that failed, murderous drug war policies must end. The caravan will be underway in between presidential elections in the two countries. Mexico will choose a successor to Calderon on July 1, and whoever that successor is, will be re-tooling its fight against the drug cartels. By late summer, the US presidential campaign will be in full swing, and advocates hope to have at least some impact on that as well.

Party drug treats depression


In January, researchers from Houston’s Ben Taub General Hospital announced their groundbreaking research into a new drug-based treatment for depression. It was, they said, ridding the clinically depressed of their symptoms within a matter of hours and showed a success rate of 70-90 per cent – making it one of the biggest medical developments since the advent of antidepressants in the late 1950s. “Everything since then has been essentially incremental,” said study leader Sanjay Mathew, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. “It’s a completely different mechanism. And the focus is on really rapidly helping someone get out of a depressive episode.” This new mechanism isn’t the result of a recently discovered chemical compound but the reapplication of an existing drug – ketamine. Used in both human and veterinary science as an anaesthetic agent, it’s also taken recreationally among drug users who seek out its dissociative, euphoric and hallucinatory effects.

Pure ecstasy can be ‘safe’ if consumed responsibly: B.C. health officer


Dr. Perry Kendall asserts the risks of MDMA – the pure substance originally synonymous with ecstasy – are overblown, and that its lethal dangers only arise when the man-made chemical is polluted by money-hungry gangs who cook it up. That’s why the chief provincial health officer is suggesting the risks of black market MDMA could be mitigated, for example if it were legalized and potentially sold through licensed, government-run stores where the product is strictly regulated from assembly line to check-out.

The Dumb and Dangerous Anti-Drug Propaganda in the Miami Zombie Story


Rarely does a story excite the media as much as a scary drug story — a person supposedly crazed and made violent by some mysterious concoction. The problem is these stories, often hugely hysterical, are rarely true, and spread dangerous misinformation about drugs, which is surely the case with the so-called “Miami Zombie.” Media outlets are reporting that Rudy Eugene, a.k.a. the “Miami Zombie,” who chewed a man’s face off (and even ate his eyeballs) did so because he was “overdosing” on bath salts, “a new potent form of LSD,” and maybe also cocaine. These reports are based entirely on speculation by police spokesmen and media excited to fan the flames of fear in Miami. No toxicology tests were performed, no drug paraphernalia found on the scene.

Going to pot


The momentum to legalise marijuana in America is growing, as is the number of smokers. Will the US war on drugs soon be over? As we stroll along the lines of tables in what is described as ”America’s only daily cannabis farmers’ market”, it is clear that what used to be called plain old ”pot” is now a product – like, say, French cheese or Italian salami – of almost infinite variety. As well as the neatly labelled jars of multifarious green ”bud” on display, the place bristles with artisanal ingenuity. There is a jar of pesto, a bar of ”pack a punch” white chocolate marked ”keep out of reach of children”. If that’s not your cup of (hash) tea, how about a cup of ”wake and bake” coffee to get you started in the morning? Not to forget the jams or honeys for your toast; fudges, brownies and some heavenly smelling warm cinnamon buns being sold by Dedrick, whose fiancee is a pastry chef. The scene in Seattle is not what it seems at first glance. The market is only possible because, officially speaking, the stallholders and their customers are not potheads, but ”patients” certified under local laws to use medical marijuana. To enter, everyone must show their ”green card” authorisations and sign a declaration promising not to resell on the street.

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