Embassy Headlines, Issue 100

Once the domain of deluded conspiracy theorists and crazy Hippies, the current ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric has expanded exponentially.

Now there are clean cut nouveau hip pragmatists extolling the virtues of peace, love and Cannabis.

The Embassy Headlines are a selection of recent articles from news services and media sources primarily concerning Cannabis issues, the consequences of prohibition and the challenges for law reform.

Here are the selected headlines for this week.


 Mullaway Case

Mullaway Case Wednesday, May 28th Kempsey Court: We have been informed by the Solicitor assisting the Barrister that all parents wishing to give letters of support for Tony (to be presented to the magistrate) must address/title the letters to, “The Honourable Court”. and that these letters must also have an “original signature (be hand signed)”. We would also ask that if the parents would like to give Tony a general letter of support (for non-court use) for them to include a second signed copy of their Letter addressed/titled to, “To Whom It May Concern” in case Tony needs these letters for something else, in the future. Please also send copies of Survey Forms to Mullaways. Case Studies can lead to Clinical Trials and the Survey Forms/Record of Use when added to the Neurologists tests over time are Case Studies and at least a couple of the Neurologists are interested in writing up Case Studies. This is the way forward which will ensure the Tincture is available for others in the future without people breaking the law.

The Purple Children

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Home truths on war on drugs [Monash Weekly]

You don’t often hear battle-hardened generals issuing a blunt command to abandon the field of war, but that’s exactly what the former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer did last week when he declared, with no emotion, that the so-called war against drugs in this country was a complete failure. The policies of illicit drug “prohibition” – an intriguing term – just weren’t working, he said: prices were lower, drugs were freely available, we victimise and criminalise users and, despite policing being better than ever before, a law-enforcement approach hasn’t made any difference at all – in fact, Palmer said, we’ve created more harm and damage than good. It was as comprehensive a demolition of current drug policy in this country as I have ever heard. Actually, beyond some very special interest groups, I’ve not heard such a condemnation before at all. Usually all those wearing the uniform sing loudly and defiantly from the same song sheet: that the fist of the law will crack down hard and fast on all aspects of illicit drug production, distribution and use. But Palmer, the man who once claimed ethnic crime gangs are largely responsible for the rising rates of violent offences in our capital cities, and whose organisation fiercely prosecuted the case of zero-tolerance for all aspects of the illicit drug trade, has seen enough. He’s been waving the white flag for some time now, but this, his most recent call, coincides with another high-profile battle cry, and the contrast between the two could not be more stark.

Cannabis loving youth told to move to Canberra [Gympie Times]

A young Gympie man who provided police with an easy catch on April 19 asked Magistrate Maxine Baldwin on Monday if he should try to be smarter in future. The response drew laughter from some in the public gallery as Patrick Wass Davis, 22, left the courtroom, at the conclusion of his case. Mrs Baldwin fined Davis $750 when he pleaded guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court to possessing cannabis, seeds and utensils. The court was told police were able to see the prohibited items through Davis’s open front door when they knocked on April 19, seeking his help in solving a burglary nearby. They saw a water pipe and a bowl with a small quantity of cannabis, less than 1gm. A short time later, Davis returned to the house after helping his brother, who had been a victim of the burglary. Mrs Baldwin warned him of more serious trouble ahead and would end up in jail if he continued to use cannabis.

“I like the weed,” he said in reply.

“Well, you’re going to have to move to another state,” Mrs Baldwin said.

“Go to Canberra.”

Fining Davis $750, she warned that this was “probably the highest level” of fine which could be imposed, before other penalties were imposed.

“If you’re going to live in Queensland, you have to find something you like better than marijuana,” Mrs Baldwin said.

“Or just be smarter?” Davis asked, before leaving the courtroom. 

Australian singer Shelley Segal stirs up drug furore in Morocco [SMH]

Melbourne folk singer-songwriter has been criticised in the Moroccan press and attacked in social media for a song she wrote about drug-taking in the country. Shelley Segal wrote the song, Morocco, about her experience when she visited the country as a 19-year-old in 2007 and made a video in Marrakesh and Essaouira to accompany it. Soon after she posted the video online, she found a story written in French on Moroccan news site, Afriquinfos, claiming she had “denounced the kingdom” in the song.

Criminalising cannabis is adding harm [Stuff NZ]

A welcome outcome of the Government’s disappointing U-turn on “legal highs” has been the renewed focus on wider drug policy, namely the contrast between the approach to synthetic cannabis and its natural cousin. Last week, Auckland City Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse suggested it was time to talk about cannabis law reform as a possible means of addressing demand for synthetics. In an interview on Campbell Live synthetic cannabinoid inventor John W Huffman said they were not fit for human consumption and New Zealand should legalise cannabis. Eighty-six per cent of Campbell’s viewers agreed.

A Path Out Of Prison For Low-Level, Nonviolent Drug Offenders [NPR]

Thousands of nonviolent drug offenders serving time in federal prison could be eligible to apply for early release under new clemency guidelines announced Wednesday by the Justice Department. Details of the initiative, which would give President Obama more options under which he could grant clemency to drug offenders serving long prison sentences, were announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Cole listed six factors the Justice Department will use to “prioritize clemency applications” as part of the administration’s effort to address long mandatory minimum sentences meted out after the crack-fueled crime wave of the 1980s. Those mandatory minimums were revised under the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, designed to reduce the disparity between sentencing rules for crack and powder cocaine. Inmates seeking clemency, he said, must meet the following criteria:

  • They are currently serving a federal prison sentence that is longer than current mandatory sentences for the same offense.
  • They are nonviolent, low-level offenders without “significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels.”
  • They have served at least 10 years of their sentence.
  • They do not have a “significant criminal history.”
  • They have demonstrated good conduct in prison.
  • They have no history of violence before or during their current imprisonment.

DEA Chief Dials Back Drug War Bluster After Talk With Holder [Huffington Post]

Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart and her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, appear locked in a bureaucratic staring match over the Obama administration’s attempt to reform the way the federal government approaches criminal justice and punishment. For Holder and for President Barack Obama, sentencing reform has become a critical, second-term legacy item, as they aim to bend the arc of incarceration policy away from a federal system well practiced at imprisoning drug offenders for as long as possible. But those efforts are colliding with institutional resistance from law enforcement officials with a single-minded focus and, perhaps, turf to defend. The high-level shift toward easing punishment for drug offenders, backed by public opinion, raises the question of whether any DEA chief who could win the support of rank and file agents would be willing to carry out White House reforms. So far, Leonhart appears uninterested, at best.

American National Football League [NFL] Is Rethinking Its Drug Policy, Reducing Marijuana Punishments [MPP Blog]

An inside source told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the NFL is in the process of renegotiating its drug policy and may institute changes specific to how athletes who use marijuana are handled. Since 2011, the NFL has been internally debating its drug policy, which includes testing for human growth hormones. If the current revisions to the drug policy are approved, the threshold for a positive marijuana test will be significantly increased, and punishments for violating the policy will be reduced.

Oregon: Legalization Drive Rents 20 Billboards Across The State [Hemp News]

Activists in Oregon have rented 20 billboards in prominent positions across the state in support of their campaign to end criminal penalties for cannabis. The billboards, found in Portland, Eugene, Beaverton, Roseburg, and Salem, carry the messages “Help End Marijuana Prohibition,” or “Prohibition is the Problem, Hemp is the Answer!” “Of course, ending prohibition is the goal, but energizing Oregon and showing a solid outreach and grassroots effort is key,” said activist Michael Bachara of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which is behind Initiatives 21 and 22. Oregon’s 2014 Initiative 21 is a constitutional amendment to end prohibition and stop imposing criminal penalties for marijuana. It needs 116,284 valid registered Oregon voters’ signatures by July 3rd to qualify for the November 2014 ballot. Initiative 22 is a proposed statute to regulate and tax marijuana, and allow farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food. It needs 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters’ signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

NCIA Cannabis Business Summit

The National Cannabis Industry Association is launching its first national conference, The Cannabis Business Summit, in Denver, Colorado. The summit will offer cannabis business leaders a national stage on which to discuss the best practices and business developments from around the industry. The summit will include more than 35 sessions, more than 800 attendees, and an exhibition floor featuring more than 30 leading cannabis businesses over the course of two days. Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their areas of expertise.

Willie Nelson on Larry King Now [Ora TV]

Country music megastar Willie Nelson invites Larry aboard his tour bus for an open conversation about life as an octogenarian, the legalization of marijuana, & the 2016 presidential race.

Bell astonished by cannabis stance support [Isle of Man Today]

The Isle of Man’s Chief Minister, Allan Bell, says he has been ‘astonished’ by the support he’s received over his stance on decriminalising cannabis. Mr Bell hit the headlines both here and in the UK when he revealed that he believes consideration should be given to relaxing the law on cannabis, insisting drug use should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal matter. His comments followed a presentation at the Manx Museum given by former Westminster drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, who argued the island could become a research hub for exploring the medical benefits of drugs.

SPECIAL SESSION of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem[UNODC]

In the Political Declaration and Plan of Action of 2009, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs recommended that the General Assembly hold a Special Session on the World Drug Problem. With the Political Declaration, Member States decided to establish 2019 as target date for States to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably:

(a) the illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant; 
(b) the illicit demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances; and drug-related health and social risks; 
(c) the illicit production, manufacture, marketing and distribution of, and trafficking in, psychotropic substances, including synthetic drugs; 
(d) the diversion of and illicit trafficking in precursors; and 
(e) money laundering related to illicit drugs. 

Balloons and sausages – understanding the global drugs trade [IRIN News]

What turned Guinea Bissau and other West African countries into drug-trafficking routes to Europe more than a decade ago? Why did the drug wars move from Colombia to Mexico? A key weapon in the arsenal of those who argue against drug prohibition policies is the “balloon effect” – the idea that if drug producers, traffickers and dealers are stopped by law enforcement agencies in one area, they will simply pop up in another place, with “no more than temporary inconvenience to the participants”, as Peter Reuter, author of The Mobility of Drug Trafficking, writes in Ending the Drug Wars, released this week by the London School of Economics’ InternationalDrug Policy Project and the Open Society Foundations. Trying to pinpoint cause and effect is not easy in an underground industry where many complex factors influence the intricate and ever-shifting web of drug-trafficking. All players in the illicit drugs chain risk interdiction – from crop destruction, to drug seizures, to the arrest of dealers and drug lords, who in turn depend on a host of other factors for the success of their operation, like corruptible officials, luck, and effective penetration of markets in demand countries, for example.

Dr. Oz: Marijuana is Hugely Beneficial [High Times]

The issue of medical marijuana has managed to achieve a great deal of coverage and support through the credible voices of celebrity physicians like CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has made it his mission to spread the good word about the healing benefits of marijuana. Now it appears as though Dr. Mehmet Oz has decided to hang out with the cool kids. Earlier this week, Dr. Oz made an appearance on “Larry King Live,” during which King asked him if he had changed his mind about marijuana. “I have,” Oz replied, explaining to King that his beliefs surrounding marijuana have matured. “I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the believe that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes,” said Oz. Not only is Oz willing to stand in support of marijuana for medicinal purposes, he seems to encompass the moral mindset of most cannabis supporters, in which there is a sense of responsibility in establishing regulations that will keep weed out of the hands of children. Yet, it may take awhile before Oz is ready to get on board with the idea of full legalization. “We pervert its use at times,” Oz continued. “I don’t think it should be widely used, certainly not by kids, because that creates a dependence that is unhealthy in any setting. But it absolutely should be widely available in America [for medical use].”

Molecular Biologist Explains How THC Completely Kills Cancer [The Mind Unleashed]

This link features a video of Dr. Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist at Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, clearly explaining how THC (the main psychoactive constitute of the cannabis plant) completely kills cancer cells. Not long ago, we published an article examining a case study recently published where doctors used cannabis to treat Leukemia, you can read more about that here. To read more articles and view studies about how cannabis is an effective treatment and cure for cancer, click here.

The Epilepsy Foundation Embraces Medicinal Marijuana [AlterNet]

The Epilepsy Foundation, made up of the nation’s top epileptologists, in February issued a public plea for a change to marijuana’s legal status and an end to restrictions on studying marijuana’s potential health benefits. The doctors also urged states to change laws to make epilepsy sufferers eligible for medical marijuana, as in Colorado. They also want the federal government to support wide-ranging research on multiple types of marijuana and epilepsy. The Foundation said that of the 2.3 million Americans with epilepsy, a million live with seizures uncontrolled by medication. “If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now – not in five years or 10 years,” wrote the doctors. “An end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code.”

Landmark trial of marijuana drugs for stricken children [Herald Scotland]

A marijuana-based drug will be given to children in Scotland in the hope of transforming the treatment of severe epilepsy in one of the first trials of its kind. Researchers at Edinburgh University and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in the city are applying for approval to test an oil extracted from cannabis flowers on young people, including babies. Parents of children with extreme forms of epilepsy have reported the medicine, which has had almost all the component that causes a “high” removed, has dramatically improved the symptoms. However, without robust clinical trials to investigate the safety of the drug there is concern parents desperate to alleviate the distressing condition could administer cannabis treatments without prescriptions or information about the potential risks.

The “Frankfurt way” to a cannabis pilot project [Sensi Seeds]

Thanks to the pioneering role in the heroin distribution programme, Frankfurt’s politicians, drug support services, public prosecutor’s office, judiciary and police have got together around one table for the first time in 25 years and discussed pragmatic approaches in drug policy. This round-table discussion group known as the “Montagstisch” [Monday table] has created an atmosphere of trust and now can look back on the most successful pilot project for the distribution of heroin to severe addicts. Therefore, a network of acceptance-oriented drug care already exists in Frankfurt that has been familiar with, and has also been involving, representatives from the police and the public prosecutor’s office for many years and can thus build on their support. In Berlin, where the Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain district parliament had adopted a motion for a pilot project for regulated cannabis distribution at the end of 2013 already, the police and the public prosecutor’s office remain highly sceptical towards such concepts for lack of any empirical data. Following discussions, the adopted small amount increase to 15-30 grams, as requested by the Left, was reduced to 15 grams in 2004 following the intervention of some public prosecutors although the parliament had passed a resolution for 15-30 grams at the time. In Frankfurt, on the other hand, the head of police force, Martin Hallwang, advocated the establishment of a cannabis pilot project as early as last November.

Cannabis and Speed Dating in the Legalization Age [Ladybud]

Cannabis reform activist Theresa Collins is a Paralegal/Legal Assistant at PKN Law, Miss High Times March 2013, and Regional Coordinator at Pittsburgh Norml Women’s Alliance. Here she discusses her latest project – “Stoner Speed Dating” – with Ladybud.

Analyzing Residual Solvents in Cannabis Concentrates: A Sticky Situation [Restek Blog]

Along with the increasing demand for various forms of cannabis concentrates comes increased concern regarding residual solvents in these products. In many cases, cannabis concentrates are prepared by extracting either the acidic or decarboxylated forms of cannabinoids from plant material using organic solvents. Some of the solvents used for extraction can have detrimental health effects, which nobody wants.

Prehistoric Europeans Regulated Mind-Altering Substances [Archaeology]

Elisa Guerra-Doce of the Universidad de Valladolid examined the remains of leaves, fruits, and seeds of psychoactive plants; residues suggestive of alcoholic beverages; psychoactive alkaloids found in artifacts and prehistoric skeletal remains; and artistic depictions of mood-altering plant species and drinking scenes at archaeological sites in Europe. Most of these substances—such as bits of opium poppy in the teeth of an adult male unearthed at a Neolithic site in Spain; charred Cannabis seeds in bowls found in Romania; traces of barley beer in vessels from Iberia; and illustrations of the ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Italian Alps—were found in tombs and ceremonial places. Guerra-Doce contends that these substances aided in communication with the spiritual world and were highly regulated as part of a belief system. “Far from being consumed for hedonistic purposes, drug plants and alcoholic drinks had a sacred role among prehistoric societies,” she told Science Daily

Silk Road users wanted for research project [National Drug Research Institute]

*****STUDY CLOSING 8 JUNE 2014***** You are invited to participate in a research project investigating previous use of the anonymous online marketplace, Silk Road. This page describes the project in straightforward language or ‘plain English’. Please read this page carefully and be confident that you understand its contents before deciding to participate.

Nimbin’s MardiGrass – A celebration of cannabis down under [YouTube]

MardiGrass is an event that supports cannabis in a small local town in Nimbin, Australia. It’s worth the trip to surround yourself with likeminded folks even if just for the weekend!

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