Embassy Headlines, Issue 103

Reefer Madness scare campaigns have effectively influenced belief about marijuana. Faithful disciples of prohibition have maintained their moral crusade for generations and successfully demonised the entire Cannabis genus.

Psychosis is a ‘loss of contact with reality’ and an accurate definition of ‘Reefer Madness’. Look in the mirror.

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.

Embassy-Headlines-103 

Alan Jones – Lucy and Dan Haslam [Radio 2GB]

Lucy and Dan join Alan in the studio to discuss the decriminalization of marijuana for medical use. 


MCUA Medical Cannabis Users Association of Australia [Facebook]

This Association has been set up specifically to give Medical Cannabis users a collective voice when it comes to lobbying the powers that be. It is a place to add your support to the efforts going on or ideas aimed at eventually achieving the full repeal of Cannabis prohibition. 


The Rising Use of Cannabis Extract Medicine in Australia [Medical Jane]

In Australia, a girl named Tara O’Connell has become the country’s analogue of Charlotte Figi. She too was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome and suffered throughout most of her life, having as much as 20,000 seizures a year. After a year on cannabis tincture, Tara is now seizure free and showing other signs of improvement, including mobility. Her doctor, Dr. Lindsay J. Smith, remarked that Tara’s improvement was “nothing short of miraculous.” Dozens of other children are also using tincture with positive results throughout Australia. Unlike the high-CBD oil being used in Colorado, the type of cannabis extract mentioned above is tincture with high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA is the non-decarboxylated, raw form oftetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Like CBD, it is non-psychoactive and offers a wide range of potential benefits. The fact that multiple cannabinoids exert such profound anticonvulsant effects speaks to the need for whole-plant cannabis extracts that contain a broad spectrum of cannabinoids. The provider of the THC-A tincture is a man named Tony Bower. His story is remarkably similar to Rick Simpson, the Canadian who provided free THC-rich cannabis oil to hundreds in his area. Like Rick, Tony gave away cannabis oil for free and continued doing so in the face of legal penalties.


Debate legalising and deregulating illicit drugs, says Melbourne City Council report [The Age]

Melbourne City Council on Thursday released a report recommending the council engage in debate around the “challenges and opportunities” of legalising, decriminalising and deregulating illicit drugs. The council will on Tuesday night debate a draft strategy for city safety that includes a three-year action plan to make the city a safer, more inclusive place. The 19-page report aims to identify the underlying causes of crime and violence in the city, instead of just focusing on managing their impact. Included among recommendations in the report on how to minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs, council officers have recommended undertaking “further research and engage in debate the challenges and opportunities of legalising, decriminalising, and deregulating illicit drugs”.


Survey: What do young people in NSW think about current and alternate models of cannabis regulation? [UNSW]

Marijuana is now legal in Colorado. Should NSW be next on the cannabis regulation agenda? If so what type of model should NSW adopt? The University of New South Wales is conducting a public opinion study into what young people in NSW think about current and alternate models for regulating cannabis. If you are aged between 18-25 and live in NSW we would like you to take part in our online survey. To participate, please go to this link. This survey is completely anonymous and will take no longer than half an hour. If you would like more information please contactBen Ellem or Caitlin Hughes


Workers at mill win case over drug tests [Nelson Mail NZ]

Workers at Carter Holt Harvey’s Eves Valley mill have won their case against mass drug testing. Almost 200 employees at the sawmill near Nelson were forced to have their urine tested after two cannabis plants were found growing on the site. Some 76 employees of Carter Holt Harvey Limited’s Eves Valley Sawmill, who were also members of the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union, complained to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) about the tests. The authority has found the employees were unjustifiably disadvantaged in being compelled to take the tests, and Carter Holt Harvey breached its duty of good faith to them. The workers are also to be compensated. “This is a victory for our members, and a victory for common decency and respect,” says Ron Angel, EPMU national industry organiser for timber workers. ‘We’ve been concerned about the whole drug testing regime at Carter Holt Harvey for some time, and clearly our concerns were justified.” He said the union supported good health and safety practice in the workplace. “But drug testing has to be about proving actual impairment at work – not treating workers as guilty until proven innocent.”


Weedland: Inside the Cannabis Industry [ABC]

In this session from FORA.tv Michael Montgomery, reporter at The Center for Investigative Reporting, sits down withWeed Land author Peter Hecht, to delve deep into the cannabis industry, exploring the science, the contradictions, and the economics.


Marijuana scare stories don’t say much about legalization [MSNBC]

Coverage of marijuana legalization in Colorado has often focused on rare, genuinely tragic occurrences involving overuse of the drug. But “Reefer Madness”-style stories coming out of Colorado won’t tell us much about whether or not legalizing marijuana was a good idea. “I think we’ve learned very little so far from Colorado,” said Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA who advised Washington State in developing its legal marijuana policy. “There will be bad things coming out of legalization, but they’re not going to happen quickly.”There’s little data so far to suggest that marijuana legalization has led to serious public safety problems. Despite the proliferation of terrifying anecdotes publicized by anti-legalization advocates, crime has actually dropped in Colorado since legalization. One of these stories is that of Richard Kirk, who killed his wife after possibly ingesting marijuana and prescription pain pills. Some reporting has actually omitted the pills – the interaction of the two could have contributed to the incident – leaving readers with the impression that consuming a marijuana candy bar alone may have caused the psychotic episode that led Kirk to retrieve a gun and shoot his wife. “These are all multi-determined events. We know that because they’re rare – if they were simply determined they’d be happening more often,” said Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. ”In the aggregate, Americans use marijuana billions of times a year, and there’s very few stories like this. If marijuana had this effect in a prevalent fashion, these things would have been happening for years and years and years.”


Clark County picks 18 applicants for medical marijuana dispensaries [Las Vegas Review]

They came from near and far. Las Vegas Valley developers, medical marijuana industry veterans from Colorado and area doctors were among them. The odds were against them. Seventy-nine applicants — down from 81 — aiming for part of the region’s next industry: medical marijuana. And Clark County had just 18 slots for medical marijuana dispensaries. There were familiar names among the winners that county commissioners picked Friday at the end of a three-day hearing. Longtime developer and gaming executive Randy Black, who retired last year as chief operating officer at Mesquite Gaming, for example, hopes to open a dispensary in Laughlin. He was the only applicant there. Another is Nick Spirtos, a well-known doctor with the Women’s Cancer Center of Nevada who has ties to University Medical Center. Still another is David Goldwater, a former Nevada assemblyman who is involved the Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary. The new industry, which many feel will be lucrative, is months away from becoming a reality, and applicants still must go through state approval and set up shop. Medical marijuana has gained a reputation for relieving pain and nausea from chronic ailments, including cancer, and even preventing seizures. The Nevada Legislature in 2013 approved a bill allowing the dispensaries and related facilities to make sure people who needed marijuana could obtain it without breaking state law. The medical marijuana industry is also bringing jobs and a boost to the economy at a time when the valley is still climbing out of a deep recession.


Seattle police seize 2600 illegal marijuana plants, refuse to arrest owners[RT]

Police in Seattle, Washington, have seized what’s being described as an “unprecedented number of illegally-grown marijuana plants.” In a twist on the typical raid story, though, not a single person was arrested. Although well over 2,000 plants were discovered, police decided to leave behind more 100 so that the growers could continue operating their medical marijuana farms under the state’s legal limits. In a statement released by Seattle police, officer Drew Fowler noted that more than 2,200 pot plants were found in a warehouse alone, a huge number that dwarfs the 45 permitted for medical marijuana grows under Washington state law. The investigation began after local residents complained to police about an overwhelming smell in the area. As noted by the Times, police also believe the operations were being run by the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, who allegedly grew the plants and sold them on his own. If true, that behavior would be in violation of Washington’s collective gardens regulations. Still, no one was arrested in connection to the raid, and police left 45 plants behind at each location – as well as a total of 72 ounces of processed marijuana – even allowing the growers to choose which plants they preferred to keep.“Detectives were interested only in bringing the operation back under the limits of state law, and in addition to leaving plants and equipment at the scenes, also opted not to book anyone involved in the operation into jail,” Fowler wrote in a statement.


Colorado Sells $19 Million in Cannabis in March [Mind Unleashed]

All the naysayers who were against marijuana legalization are eating crow about now. Colorado’s weed sales just keep trending up, and with the sales of legal weed, they are improving their schools and reducing overall crime rates. Not counting medicinal weed sales, Colorado sold nearly $19 million in their recreational weed market in the month of March, and $1.9 million of that goes straight into government coffers and towards building schools. At this pace, according to PolicyMic, Colorado will make $30 million this year in pot taxes alone. What’s even more promising is that these numbers are still low estimates, as the recreational and medicinal marijuana markets (coinciding just fine, take note Washington) are likely to keep trending upward. Many say that a figure closer to $60 million in weed tax revenue is a more likely assumption. Medical marijuana is also not as heavily taxes as recreational marijuana, and hopefully it will stay that way. The cherry on top of this tax-generating cake? Crime rates are also down in Colorado, so while kids are hopefully going to get a better education, the government (idealistically) will spend more money improving infrastructure and other business opportunities for Colorado citizens, and unemployment rates are plummeting. The Colorado police can take a little rest from their duties. Crime rates in Colorado have dropped by 10.6% while Dunkin Donuts has begun expanding its brand in the state (really). It looks like a really good future for people living in Colorado, or any state that legalizes both medical and recreational marijuana – though it is admittedly too early to tell.


Judge: PTSD approved for medical marijuana use [AZ Daily Sun]

Phoenix State Health Director Will Humble acted illegally in denying access to medical marijuana to people — many of them former soldiers — suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an administrative law judge has ruled. Judge Thomas Shedden said Humble relied solely on the lack of scientific “peer-reviewed” studies in determining that PTSD should not be added to the list of conditions for which marijuana could be made available. But the judge said the health chief should also have considered the testimony of doctors and nurses who said the drug has helped their patients. Humble said Friday he is studying the ruling but has not decided whether he will follow it. Under state law, Shedden’s decision is merely a recommendation and Humble has until July 9 to decide whether to reject it. Attorney Kenneth Sobel, representing the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association, said Friday if that happens he will ask a superior judge to intercede and overrule Humble.


Pot growers’ lights interfering with ham radio chats [Coloradoan]

A few years ago, retired electrical engineer Tom Thompson noticed it was getting harder and harder to hear his friends across the country talking to him on their ham radio sets. So Thompson built a portable antenna system he could use to walk his neighborhood and track down whatever was interfering with his radio transmission. The culprit? Marijuana grow operations, where powerful grow lights can emit interference blocking radio broadcasts on the ham and AM spectrums. With 22 states and the District of Columbia allowing medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington permitting recreational use, there’s been an explosion in the number of people growing their own pot, much of it indoors. With that growth has come increasing interference from the grow lights, which suck down huge amounts of electricity to shine upon budding marijuana plants. Growing pot indoors is usually more secure and gives the grower more control over light, water and insects, which results in higher-quality plants commanding a premium price. The interference problems from one type of system have gotten so bad that the amateur radio association, ARRL, filed a formal federal complaint on behalf of the country’s 720,000 licensed ham operators. The problems are worst in Colorado and California, said Sean Kutzko, an ARRL spokesman. The interference is caused by what are known as “ballasts,” electronic systems controlling the grow lights. Unless they’re properly shielded, the ballasts can throw off a wide range of interference. For ham radio operators in the area, it’s like trying to have a conversation during an intense thunderstorm. “We’re not concerned about what people are using the grow lights for,” Kutzko said. “But we’re seeing numerous cases … and that’s causing us a problem. We just want to make sure the manufacturers are in compliance with FCC laws.” Thompson said he recognizes that federal regulators probably have better things to do than force marijuana growers to change their lights, so he found his own solution: He created a $20 cable shield he gives out to anyone whose operation is interfering with his radio. “If I can track this down, anybody can track this down,” he said. “If I listen long enough, I can tell when they turn the lights off … you can tell exactly when the harvest is.”


Tobacco industry once had high hopes for marijuana business [LA Times]

Richard Nixon was in the White House, his “war on drugs” was in full swing, yet Big Tobacco was secretly exploring the possibility of becoming Big Pot. Newly discovered documents from tobacco company archives at UC San Francisco show that major companies in the cigarette industry investigated joining the marijuana business in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The companies were driven then by the same shift in public attitudes that is now pushing legalization around the country. One company even asked a federal counter-narcotics official to secretly secure marijuana from the government for research. “We request that there be no publicity whatsoever,” a Philip Morris vice president wrote in late 1969 to Milton Joffee, drug sciences chief at the Justice Department’s narcotics bureau. “We will provide the results to you on a confidential basis, and request that you not identify in the form of any public announcement where the work has been done.” Joffee responded that Philip Morris could skip Food and Drug Administration review of its application for government pot. “I do not feel there is any bar to maintaining the confidentiality you request,” he wrote. The documents, discovered by public health researchers, were disclosed Tuesday in the Milbank Quarterly, a health policy journal. They not only shed new light on the Nixon era, but appear when some Wall Street analysts and health advocates say tobacco companies may again be considering the expanding market for legalized weed.


Wenatchee lawsuit could make or break state’s pot law [Seattle Times]

A lawsuit against the city of Wenatchee could have sweeping implications for legal pot’s future in Washington and other states. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon in Chelan County Superior Court by Shaun Preder, who is seeking a state license for a retail marijuana store in Wenatchee. But Preder’s SMP Retail can’t open a store, Wenatchee officials say, because city officials adopted a policy that says to get a city business license, entrepreneurs must comply with federal law. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though Washington state voters legalized possession, production and regulation of the drug via Initiative 502 in 2012. The case could open the door to a court ruling on whether the federal government can trump or pre-empt Washington’s pot law. Such a ruling could invalidate Washington’s regulations and emerging pot industry, or uphold it. Either outcome could influence legalization campaigns planned in states such as California.


Global drugs movement vow to target North-East landmarks with wild cannabis grows [Darlington & Stockton Times UK]

Supporters of a fast-growing global drugs movement have pledged to plant cannabis at every well known landmark in the North-East. The illegal substance is already flourishing at well-known landmarks including London’s Tower Bridge, The Shard and Big Ben after the sites were targeted by pro-cannabis group Feed the Birds. Cannabis clubs across the North-East have now vowed to work together in a bid to grow the drug around well-known sites. The project – which operates world-wide and has thousands of followers – was established by a farmer, a psychiatrist and a barrister in a bid to decriminalise the drug and take it out of the hands of drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies. Founder Finn Hemingway said the organisation is driven by the needs of medicinal users who are often criminalised for their personal use. According to Mr Hemingway, the wild grows in public places create a visual form of protest against prohibition, while making a medicinal strain of the drug freely available for those struggling to cope with symptoms of conditions including cancer, HIV and MS. Feed the Birds also freely distribute thousands of seeds and lighting kits to users across the world. Mr Hemingway said: “We’ve been doing this for years under a media blackout and we’ve grown everywhere you can imagine. This isn’t original, it’s a return to the days before prohibition and we don’t take much notice of whether it’s legal or not. Anything we can do to stop people suffering, we’ll do it and cannabis is proven to help people with illnesses like cancer, arthritis and HIV. By helping medical users, we can get them away from low quality cannabis and dealers and make them self-sufficient. They’re not taking it out of choice, they’re taking it because it’s the only thing that works for them and they’re being criminalised. We don’t support a black market and want people to be able to get away from dealers and reliance on prescription medicine. People are ending up in court and with criminal records for trying to heal themselves. If you can look at people suffering and sleep at night, good for you but I can’t and had to do something about it.” 


New study shows no link between cannabis and psychosis [Digital Journal]

After four years of research, a team at the University of Calgary, published the findings of a study conducted on 170 individuals which concluded cannabis does not contribute to psychosis in users of the drug. The University of Calgary study adds evidence to curtail the prohibitionist argument that cannabis causes brain malfunction. Like a Harvard study concluded previously, cannabis does not cause schizophrenia.Like the conclusions made by the Harvard researchers, doctors who have studied the causes of psychotic disorders,have been unable to confirm the exact causes of psychosis, but the general belief links the cause of psychotic disorders with, “inherited genetic factors and external environmental factors.”


Global Drug Policy Is Still Deadly and Ineffective [Vice]

According to activists, in the last four years, over 1,800 people have been executed for drug crimes in Iran, most without due process or access to proper legal representation. In Vienna, Yuri Fedotov, the United Nations’ drug czar, applauded the Iranians’ effort to combat drug trafficking. “Iran takes a very active role to fight against illicit drugs.” Fedotov told reporters. “It is very impressive.” The UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), over which Fedotov presides, has maintained offices in Iran since 1999, and for good reason. Poppy production in neighboring Afghanistan is booming; this year, its exports are expected to account for 90 percent of the global heroin trade, and much of that will flow westward, through Iran, and end up in European markets. For centuries, drugs have seeped across the border, but today the problem is immense. Iran has over two million addicts, the most in the world. Methadone is theoretically available for well-connected users, but for the rest stigmatization, prison, and, for accused traffickers, the noose, await. Executions, however, have not reduced the number of addicts. “They appear to be targeting the most vulnerable of the population — the poor, the uneducated, very small time dealers, people who cannot get out of their sentence by bribery,” Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran told VICE News. “It’s outrageous for UNODC to be complimentary.” Because the UNODC’s programs in Iran have been largely funded by European countries seeking to staunch the flow of heroin, their focus has been on trafficking, not human rights. With UNODC assistance, Iranian authorities seized 388 tons of opium last year, a figure Fedotov perplexingly cited again when VICE News asked him last week about the spree of executions, as if any quantity could help justify the slaughter.


Would you use this THC-infused oil for heightened orgasms? [The Cannabist]

Marijuana as a sexual aid is nothing new. But the creation of a lady-specific topical oil designed for sexual use directly on a woman’s genitals is new — or is it?


How Psychedelics Saved My Life [Reset Me]

Reset.me provides journalism on natural therapies for depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, addiction, and other health conditions, and strives to help expand consciousness, enhance spirituality and well-being. Through the aggregation of content and production of independent journalism by experienced reporters, reset.me aims to create an outlet for consciousness journalism. The team behind reset.me endeavors to build a community that connects like-minded individuals worldwide to promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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