Embassy Headlines, Issue 101

Could Australia cultivate Cannabis for registered medical patients instead of importing it?

After weighing the big bag of regulations proposed for NSW, it seems there won’t be many people who will qualify for some type of Cannabis preparation that will most likely be imported.

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.


Lack of science raises questions for drug-driving sentencing[Northern Star]

A magistrate has raised the difficulties in sentencing motorists caught driving under the influence of marijuana without significant research to show how the drug affects driving. Mr Heilpern questioned the effect smoking marijuana, cannabis two days prior to being pulled over, would have on Gallagher’s driving. “This offence creates some real difficulties in sentencing,” he said. Mr Heilpern said research he conducted on previous cases revealed police testing methods could identify marijuana cannabis in a person’s system for up to two weeks after consumption. “There is no evidence that having smoked (marijuana) either days or weeks prior, that your driving is adversely affected,” he said. “This is not to do with how this drug affects your driving; it is to do with an assessment that you have consumed this drug.” 

Joyce fades to grey on medical pot [Northern Daily Leader]

From black and white to shades of grey – Barnaby Joyce has had a mind-altering change on the issue of medical marijuana. The New England MP yesterday came face-to-face for the first time with Tamworth man Dan Haslam, who has terminal bowel cancer and uses the drug to deal with the crippling symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Along with parents Lou and Lucy Haslam, Daniel is spearheading a national campaign to have marijuana decriminalised for the terminally ill.  Mr Joyce is liaising with local medical professionals to get a better understanding of the drug’s therapeutic benefits. His comments come as NSW Greens MLC John Kaye prepares to table a bill in Parliament on Tuesday, urging it to adopt the findings of a 2013 upper house inquiry that unanimously recommended medical marijuana be decriminalised for the terminally ill. Mrs Haslam said she was pleased to be able to show the human face of the issue to Mr Joyce. “It was a really positive meeting and we couldn’t be happier. We understand his reservations and realise he has to look into it further, but it’s a great first step,” she said. To sign the petition, go towww.dansstory.com.au

‘Tough on drugs’ cop: Allow cannabis for the ill [Daily Telegraph]

A former ‘tough on drugs’ federal police commissioner has thrown his support behind the legalisation of cannabis for use by the terminally ill. Mick Palmer, Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Force from 1994 until 2001, was so moved by the plight of 24-year-old Dan Haslan, who regularly smokes cannabis to alleviate his terminal bowel cancer pain, he wrote to the Sunday Telegraph calling for a change of law on the medical use of cannabis. “Our drug policy should not make criminals out of victims but should recognise the drug use problem for what it is a health issue,” Mr Palmer said. Cannabis use in any form is currently illegal, forcing Mr Haslan to regularly break the law. Cannabis has had a ‘miraculous effect’ on the violent nausea he suffered after each bout of chemotherapy and he can now maintain an appetite throughout the fortnightly chemotherapy treatments. “I haven’t been violently ill since I started on it, that alone is enough for me, from spending a night in hospital and losing five kilos every fortnight to not vomiting and being able to eat,” Dan Haslan said. 

Australia missing out on the benefits of hemp [Cannabis News Australia]

In countries that include Canada, France, China, and Germany, hemp produce is consumed daily by millions. Whether it be at breakfast in nutritious hemp oatmeal, at tea with hemp pasta or just the sneaky hemp snack-bar, the number of people eating hemp is growing daily. Hemp can be used in approximately 25,000 different products, from beauty and health products, to construction and automotive materials, giving it the potential to be amongst a countries most valuable commodities.

Qld cannabis seed stash ‘worth millions’ [Herald Sun]

A Queensland drug network was preparing to farm a huge multi-million dollar cannabis plantation in the state’s far north with 50,000 seeds seized in a police raid. Police say the would-be farmers were well organised and had established a camp stocked with enough food to last for months on the isolated property The network had spent 16 months preparing to plant vast crops, even stealing tractors and other farm equipment from nearby properties and painting them green so they wouldn’t be spotted. When officers raided the farm, near Mount Garnet southwest of Cairns on May 11, a tract of land had already been ploughed in preparation for the first crop. “The camp site was established with a view of sustaining life up there for a period of time. They had enough food for months,” Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Adam Golding told reporters on Tuesday.

Public servants used drug, modafinil, to stay awake to complete the Federal Budget on time [News]

Senior public servants relied on drugs to keep them awake during 20-hour shifts in the race to put together Budget papers. The drug, modafinil (branded Modavigil in Australia and Provigil in the US), keeps you awake far beyond normal limits. It was taken by helicopter pilots to stay alert as they carried US special forces to and from the raid which killed terrorist chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011. And its consumption by a growing minority of federal bureaucrats highlights the extraordinary pressures on them to work around the clock to make sure Budget figures and analysis are delivered on time. News.com.au has been told by a user that modafinil was needed to endure a string of long shifts broken by as little as a four- or five-hour break. “You work to 1am or 2am and you have to be back at 7am or 8am. I know people who have done 20-hour shifts,” the source, who did not want to be named, said. “There are lots of jokes about driving home while exhausted.”

California Moves One Step Closer To Ending Medical Marijuana ‘Chaos’ [Huffington Post]

A bill that would provide order to California’s muddled medical marijuana program cleared a major hurdle Friday, when the state Assembly’s Appropriations Committee moved it forward for a full Assembly vote next week. Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the measure, AB 1894, would create uniform rules to govern the state’s multibillion-dollar medical marijuana industry. Although California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 1996, the state has yet to establish a set of standards guiding the cultivation, production and sale of the plant, which has led to what Ammiano described to The Huffington Post as “chaos.” “I am optimistic that we can continue to work with all parties to finally create regulation that will satisfy all needs,” Ammiano said in a statement Friday, “from federal law enforcement down to the very sick patients who depend on the health benefits only marijuana can provide.” California currently leaves it up to local governments to decide how they want to implement the state’s medical marijuana law. As a result, some cities, like San Francisco and Oakland, have established clear-cut systems that dictate where dispensaries can operate and impose fees that directly enrich their coffers. Other places, like San Diego and Los Angeles, remain largely unregulated, with very little control over where pot-related businesses can operate. 

Michelle Malkin: Conservative hero and marijuana advocate [The Cannabist]

Michelle Malkin is one of the most revered conservative voices in America, and yet the author, columnist and commentator also actively supports medical and recreational marijuana. “The war on drugs has been a failure. Prohibition was also a failure,” Malkin said recently, drinking coffee at a diner near her Colorado Springs home. “And pointing out that mainstream hospitals are administering these far more pernicious narcotics to terminally ill patients undercuts this whole idea that marijuana is this dangerous gateway.” Surprised to hear such progressive talk coming from a conservative? Join the club. If you’re not surprised you’ve likely been reading Malkin’s missives for years. The pro-marijuana conservative is a growing segment in the U.S. political spectrum, something we’ll see more of in the November elections. Malkin’s intensely personal story — dating from her time at the Seattle Times in the ‘90s to her mother-in-law’s current struggle with metastatic melanoma — is a potent example of why these two strange bedfellows are becoming increasingly familiar.

Beating Marlboro to the Joint: How Federal Prohibition Allows Micro Marijuana Companies to Thrive [AlterNet]

Call it ‘the Cohiba of chronic’.  Or, ‘the seventeen dollar doobie.’ This spring, celebrity pot professor Ed Rosenthal brings to market the Ed Rosenthal Select Sativa Medi-Cone — an elegantly packaged, $17 marijuana cigarette that’s destined to give weed heads a major buzz and legalization’s critics fits. It’s a premium, branded, cone-shaped joint combining one gram of Blue Dream mixed with Mango, fortified with bubble hash and available at about 20 California medical marijuana dispensaries. The ‘Eddie’ is already a hit, and a harbinger of things to come. Companies like Medi-Cone, California’s Finest, and Cavi Cone in California — and two-month-old Cranford’s in Colorado — are ushering in the era of the pre-rolledpot cigarette s.They come in standard cigarette shapes as well as cone shapes and are hand-rolled or machine-rolled. And while both cannabis legalization and police lobbyists fear the rise of something akin to ‘Marlboro Green s’, the story of the ‘Eddie’ illustrates a more accurate outlook: federal pot prohibition has effectively locked out Philip Morris and other corporate cigarette leviathans from the weed market. America is in a short, liminal time where mom-and-pop regional brands — operating in defiance of federal law — have a first-mover advantage over Big Capital. Whether it’s topical ointments, lozenges, or good ole fashioned joints, it’s the little guys’ market for now.

Pro-marijuana group hopes to loosen Texas’ pot laws [Deseret News]

Heather Fazio, the newly installed Texas political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said she, a lobbyist and several volunteers will work toward passing state laws that would permit the use of medical marijuana, decriminalization of the controlled substance and eventually allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana. Similar efforts will be made in several other states. The group has a $200,000 budget that will stretch through the 2015 legislative session. The ultimate goal is for the state to treat marijuana more like liquor. It could be taxed and regulated, Fazio said. “We are seeing this movement really happening,” Fazio said. “We want a safe and legal market.” Fazio said she hopes that Texas will follow the path of other states that have recently relaxed their marijuana laws.

Award Winning Director’s Latest Video: ‘JUST SAY NO…to the War on Drugs’ [Drug Policy Alliance]

Last week, Eugene Jarecki, director of the award-winning documentary, The House I Live In, launched a powerful online video, featuring the talented break dancers of the Oakland-based Turf Feinz dance crew. The recent Peabody Award winner has screened his documentary in prisons, churches, and high schools across the country in collaboration with dozens of local community groups. Jarecki is now using the online video to generate a national call to action around the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410) pending before the U.S. Senate, the most extensive effort at reforming drug sentencing laws in decades.

Medical Marijuana Clinical Trial Is A First For Canada [Huffington Post]

Canada’s first medical marijuana clinical trial has been registered with Health Canada, a milestone that could be the first step toward legitimacy in the eyes of the medical community. The trial will measure the effects of marijuana on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee versus other patients who receive a placebo. For years, the Canadian medical establishment and Health Canada have not accepted marijuana as a legitimate form of medication, despite reports from patients who say it’s an effective alternative to opiates for pain relief, and research from other countries that backs up that finding. But a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 gave Canadian patients access to medical marijuana, putting Health Canada in the awkward position of distributing a substance it officially does not condone. In April, Health Canada transferred to doctors much of the responsibility for deciding which patients can access medical marijuana, a move that did not sit well with the Canadian Medical Association. The lack of clinical trials on the efficacy and side effects of marijuana has been a major sticking point for many doctors. They’re used to prescribing pharmaceuticals whose dosages have been determined by clinical studies.The upcoming Health Canada-approved trial will focus on vaporized cannabis, helping to ease doctors’ objections over the use of dried marijuana, which they say encourages smoking. Health Canada has licensed more than a dozen commercial medical pot producers across the country, and those companies have a vested interest in establishing marijuana as a credible medication among doctors. The clinical trial was commissioned by Prairie Plant Systems, the first licensed medical pot producer to launch such research in Canada.

Cannabis conference wants quick action on ganja decriminalisation [Jamaican Observer]

The first Jamaica Cannabis Conference ended at the University of the West Indies, Mona on Saturday, with a declaration from participants that the Government immediately put in place a road map, of no more than 120 days, to deal with the decriminalisation issues. The conference, boasting a high-level list of international speakers concerned with medical cannabis and other related issues, from Jamaica, Israel, Canada, China and the United States, declared that no “meaningful results”, in terms of legislative reforms, had emerged from various parliamentary committees and consultations which have been pursued. The participants, therefore, called on the Government to create the road map to immediately expunge the criminal record of all Jamaicans who have been convicted for the smoking and for the possession of small amounts non-compressed ganja. It also wants to see amendments to the relevant laws so that ganja is decriminalised for the private, personal use of small quantities by adults and for it to be fully recognised as a sacramental rights of the Rastafari community to use ganja in their homes and places of worship. It further called for the establishment of a sustained all-media, all-schools education programme, aimed at demand reduction and that its target should be, in the main, young people. The declaration called for the establishment of a properly regulated medical cannabis industry that incorporates cultivation, agro processing and other relevant ingredients critical for its success as well as to significantly increase the penalties for all illegal exportation, and persons found with compressed ganja, so as not to allow this illegality to contaminate the tremendous potential of a regulated medical cannabis industry.

Italians Broke Into Hated U.S. Army Base and Planted Pot Seeds Everywhere [AlterNet]

Wearing the ” V for Vendetta“-inspired Guy Fawkes masks of the Occupy movement, a group of 50 activists in Italy cut through barbed wire to enter the Fontega US army base on May 1. They filmed themselves scattering marijuana seeds (as well as a few corn and tomato seeds) around the compound. According to a press release, the rogue gardeners were part of Italy’s No Dal Molin movement and their actions were in protest of violent U.S. policies. They planted 200,000 seeds in all, “to liberate our land from the foundations of war.”  The statement speaks up against the failed U.S. war on drugs and corrupt U.S. policies at large.

The War on Drugs Destroys Lives—Here Are 6 Things You Can Do About It [Yes Magazine]

The movement to end the violence through the decriminalization of drugs has never had so much momentum. And it’s never been easier to get involved. The real work to end the drug war is done “at the level of you-and-me, face-to-face.” But where do you start? Here are six actions you can take right now:

1. Take action online

2. Get informed, and then inform your friends

3. Watch and share the documentary The House I Live In

4. Help drug policy activists reach a wider audience

5. Join the campaign to legalize marijuana in your state , or help start one yourself

6. Support those working for global change

Marijuana packaging: Beyond the baggie [Packaging Digest]

Broader legalization of cannabis in selected states is creating buzz for product-appropriate packaging. Americans hold various opinions about marijuana, with plenty of rhetoric supporting those in favor of legalization as well as those opposed. That said, one aspect of the issue can’t be spun: Legal cannabis, particularly for recreational consumption, presents a sizable economic opportunity for the packaging industry. Purveyors of not only smokable cannabis but also infused edibles, beverages and topical products use many kinds of packaging products and services. They are buying pouches, jars, bottles, cartons, labels, shippers and even radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for inventory control—plus services like graphic design.

Study: THC Reduces Methamphetamine-Induced Brain Damage[The Joint Blog]

A new study published in this month’s issue of the journal PLoS ONE, and published online by theNational Institute of Health, has found that THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) c reduce and even prevent brain damage caused by methamphetamine intake. According to the study, titled Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol prevents methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity, “Methamphetamine (METH) is a potent psychostimulant with neurotoxic properties. Heavy use increases the activation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), production of peroxynitrites, microglia stimulation, and induces hyperthermia and anorectic effects.” 

Mellow Moms: A Look at Medical Marijuana Use During Pregnancy[Cannabis Now]

We learned that little research exists on the subject of cannabis and pregnancy, and what does exist is surprisingly benign, and even positive. One of the most positive studies I came across was done by Melanie Dreher, Dean of Nursing at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, published in 1994 in the American Journal of Pediatrics. Dreher studied Jamaican women during their entire pregnancy and into their babies’ development, some who smoked cannabis during gestation and others who abstained. Unlike similar tests in the U.S., the mothers only smoked pot and did not use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Though Dreher expected to see adverse birth weights and negative neuro tests in the babies of marijuana smoking mothers, there were no negative differences found whatsoever. What researchers did notice, however, was that the babies of the toking moms tended to socialize more quickly, made eye contact sooner and engaged easier. This tendency was most prevalent in the babies of the heaviest smoking moms. In fact, babies of the heaviest cannabis using mothers tended to be even more socially responsive and autonomically stable at 30 days than their matched counterparts. They showed a higher quality of alertness and had more robust motor and autonomic systems. They were also less irritable, needed less outside facilitation to organize and had better self-regulation.

This Is Your Brain While Videogaming Stoned [Motherboard]

Pot and video games have long been bound together in hazy, wedded bliss—as well as in compulsion and codependency. Many a World of Warcraft binger has been found in the darkest hours of the night with clouds of sweet, milk-white smoke curling around him, a bong next to the keyboard. But the way these lovers, games and weed, commingle has only rarely been studied, and when done so, usually exclusively in the context of substance abuse and how it relates to what is known as PVP: “problem video game playing.” But a more global concern: What is happening to our minds as we welcome these dual pursuits into our lives with arms spread wide? Are we blunting the edges of our perception as much as it feels like we are when high as a kite and lobbing incendiary grenades at fools in Call of Duty? Are weed and games the founding fathers of a new idiocracy?

UN report reveals 348 new ‘legal highs’ [The Guardian]

The unprecedented growth in “legal highs” has led to 348 new types of synthetic drugs appearing in more than 90 countries in every region of the world, the UN drug agency has reported. The UN office on drugs and crime said the majority of the new psychoactive substances had emerged only in the past five years and the actual number available may be significantly higher than the 348 officially reported so far. Nearly 100 new substances have emerged in the last year alone, in further evidence of the establishment of a new global market. The UN special report said the fact that legal highs were no longer restricted to niche markets but available worldwide was a particularly worrying development. The agency said the evidence from almost all regions was that synthetic drugs were gaining popularity among young people. In parts of Central and South America, the use of amphetamine-type substances was more popular than cannabis or cocaine among some age groups. In North America and Europe, certain legal highs were more widely used than traditional illicit drugs among younger age groups.

Plant Freedom Alliance

“The Plant Freedom Alliance is a non-profit independent community organisation dedicated to botanic liberty – our right to freely access all plants for medicinal, nutritional, and ceremonial purposes.”

Greens bill to legalise medicinal cannabis [John Kaye]

The bill implements Recommendation 2 of the unanimous findings of the cross-party Upper House inquiry conducted last year into the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
It makes it lawful for patients with a terminal illness (or another illness as prescribed by the regulations) to possess and consume crude cannabis to relieve some of their pain and discomfort, as well as making it lawful for their carers to supply it to them. Only patients and carers listed on a NSW Health register may be exempt from prosecution.

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