Embassy Headlines, Issue 106

Hemp is legal to grow under licence in most States of Australia. However, the seed is illegal to eat as food for humans and as feed for stock.

Until the law catches up with the rest of the world, growing hemp in Australia is like growing wheat for the stalks.

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.


Inside Australia’s pot paradise [Aljazeera]

The characters of Nimbin can be described as, in the most gracious and respectful way possible, chaotic. The ambiance surrounding the village, especially during MardiGrass, is surreal. “Ganja Faeries” dance in the street, leashed goats and stray chickens wander among the crowd, while “Jungle Patrol” event volunteers maintain the peace. Four police officers make their way to the HEMP Embassy to compete in the annual “Tug of Peace” with Nimbin’s cannabis activists, “The Polite Force”. Sergeant Dave Longfield, a public order tactical adviser for the Richmond Local Area Command, said heavy use of alcohol often creates more problems than marijuana. “Over the past three to four years, our focus has shifted from illegal drug use – and although we are still concerned about that, of course, our focus has changed somewhat to alcohol-related crime, alcohol-related violence, and antisocial behaviour as a result of alcohol consumption.” 

“In our experience, people who overindulge in alcohol tend to cause more drama than people who overindulge in illegal drugs.” 

As the loudspeaker alerts patrons of the upcoming “HEMP Olympix” events in Sativa Stadium, a joint-rolling competition gets under way in the town hall – featuring blindfolded rolling, speed rolling and “creative rolling” events.

Medical Marijuana [SBS The Feed]

Tara O’Connell suffered from debilitating childhood epilepsy. After exhausting traditional treatment options, her family turned to medical marijuana in desperation. They discovered Tony Bower’s company, Mullways Medical Cannabis, which delivers medical marijuana across Australia at little or no cost to the customers. Bower started using marijuana in his teens after a motorcycle accident left him in severe pain, and has been a commercial grower for most of his adult life. He has not sold his product commercially for over seven years He claims the medicine is 97% free of psychoactive chemicals, and estimates that ten to twenty thousand children are waiting to be able to access the treatment. Tara was the first child he treated. The first day Tara took medical marijuana, she went down to about ten seizures. Ten days after she began the medication, she stopped having seizures. She has had only one seizure since then, and has been seizure free since April 2013. Dr Carter describes her response to the treatment as miraculous. “She’s on a very small dose of marijuana in a liquid form, and I’m not aware of any side effects. For the very first time, she’s now potty trained, in a way that simply wasn’t possible to do before. She’s talking better, she’s walking better. I see nothing but positives.” However, her continued access to medical marijuana is in jeopardy. In 2013, Bower spent six weeks in prison on charges of cultivating marijuana, before being released on a good behavior bond. After continuing to grow marijuana for medical use, he is due to appear in court on charges of cultivation and breaching his bond. “There is a chance that I could go to prison for two years. The business wouldn’t be affected. It would be these children’s’ lives.” Pending the court case Tara has a supply of her medication, as do the company’s other 150 clients, but if Bower is jailed she would have to seek alternative treatment again. Cheri says, “I have no doubt that is he does do jail time, Tara will die.”

Medical marijuana: Jai’s story [Sunday Night]

An important update to our medical marijuana story – how health ministers are finally paying attention. Plus, the story of nine-year-old Jai who suffers from constant seizures and has no options left but to try cannabis oil.

Cannabis push [Tasmanian Examiner]

A Tasmanian organisation is giving momentum to efforts to legalise medical cannabis. Tasman Health Cannabinoids chief executive Troy Langman thinks Tasmania would be well-poised to take advantage as a crop site. Mr Langman said he would participate  this week in a round-table discussion with Health Department representatives and a New South Wales cross-party delegation including MP Kevin Anderson, who is working on a private member’s bill to legalise medical cannabis. He said he would also meet Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

Tasmanian hemp industry gets priority from State Government [ABC]

Jan Davis from the Farmers and Graziers Association said the restrictions on growing hemp were unique to Tasmania. “You can grow industrial hemp in most other places in Australia without anywhere near the drama that goes on here, and that’s bizarre because we are such … reliable producers of opium poppies, which is clearly a more dangerous crop,” she said. Ms Davis said there was huge demand for hemp fibre based products that Tasmania was well placed to meet. “We could sell as much hemp as we could grow tomorrow; it’s the regulations that are stopping us from growing it on a commercial scale.”

The discussion about industrial uses of hemp comes as a Tasmanian company is proposing growing cannabis in the state for medical use. Tasman Health Cannabanoids hopes to run medical trials through the University of Tasmania soon. State Health Minister Michael Ferguson is due to meet with the company tomorrow

The highly successful poppy industry is cautious about the establishment of any hemp industry. Glynn Williams from Poppy Growers Tasmania said he was concerned about Tasmania’s reputation. “Poppy growers and Tasmanian farmers are very proud of the fact that we have over the last four decades established a narcotic supply industry which has one of the best reputations you could get,” he said. “We have what we would consider a triple-A rating for safeguards and regulatory control. “The last thing we want to see is young Tasmanians influenced by drug pushing dope smokers and so we’ve got to make sure as a community that we’ve got to have the right regulations and the right enforcement mechanisms to stop that from happening.”

Cancer sufferer welcomes medicinal pot move [Newcastle Herald]

“It’s got me on cloud nine.” That’s terminally ill Ulverstone woman Natalie Daley ‘s reaction to yesterday’s news the Tasmanian Greens would move to establish a parliamentary committee inquiry into the potential legalisation of medicinal cannabis in the state. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.” The mother of three uses cannabis oil to relieve post chemotherapy pain. Mrs Daley started taking the illegal drug, with its THCA element, a week into her second round of chemotherapy in February, after being diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma. “Everyone is on my side,” she said. “I have not had one person that has disagreed with it, that’s pretty amazing. I was expecting some hate mail, but I’ve received none.” Mrs Daley said she had no contact from police.

Tasmania mooted as growing site for medicinal cannabis [ABC]

The bid to legalise cannabis for medical use is gaining momentum, and Tasmania has been suggested as a growing site. A cross-party delegation from New South Wales will be in Tasmania next week for a site visit and will meet the state Health Minister. NSW MP Kevin Anderson, who is working on a private member’s bill to legalise medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill in that state, will lead the delegation. Tasman Health Cannabinoids, a private company, is proposing trials to grow medical cannabis after conducting extensive tests in partnership with the University of Tasmania. Medicinal cannabis is being touted as a crop that would complement Tasmania’s lucrative poppy harvest. Advocates say the side effects are few, the benefits great and the risk of addiction much lower than for many conventional medications. Tasman Health Cannabinoids chairman Mal Washer, a general practitioner and former West Australian Liberal MP, says traditional anti-nausea medicines fail many people. Dr Washer, who is also the former head of the national Alcohol and Other Drugs Council, says he wants to educate policymakers about the potential of medicinal cannabis.

Industrial hemp farming in line for region [Daily Liberal]

Farmers in the Dubbo region have been briefed on the profits and benefits they could reap if they were allowed to grow industrial hemp. Directors of Victorian company, Textile and Composite Industries (TCI), which has been working on development of an industrial hemp industry in Australia since the 1990s, held a seminar for farmers in Trangie this week. TCI’s managing director Adrian Clarke and international marketing director Charles Kovess also briefed Federal MP for Parkes Mark Coulton, and Macquarie 2100 chair Col Hamilton. It is currently illegal to grow hemp in Australia and New Zealand because of drug connotations. Industrial hemp can be used for textiles and clothing, health foods and building products. Mr Clarke and Mr Kovess said yesterday legalisation and regulation of industrial hemp could have major benefits for the region. Farmers could earn revenue of $11,800 a hectare at a production cost of about $2000 leading to a gross profit of $9800. The industrial hemp can be processed as it harvested. An industrial hemp industry could create hundreds of jobs in rural manufacturing sites.

High time it is legalised [Sunshine Coast Daily]

As the debate over whether medicinal marijuana should get the tick of approval continues, a Gympie man has weighed in to support the use of the plant. The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he found it “absolutely astounding” the plant was banned for genuine medical use. He said there was valid and convincing evidence that the drug could be used to effectively treat ailments and their symptoms and that its use should be legalised by government. He said the use of the drug for medicinal purposes had little to do with getting high; in fact, he said the use of cannabis oil didn’t involve getting high at all. “There is a lot of evidence available to us now, through studies done all around the world, which would lead us to the conclusion that cannabis is indeed safe and has a valid medicinal value in our modern-day society,” he said. He said there was a medicinal value to cannabis for sufferers of cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and more. “I feel it is important for the wider community to understand that this is indeed a medicine. We are not talking about a bunch of degenerates, asking the government to supply them with a puff. We are not talking about getting high for fun. We are speaking strictly from a medicinal point of view.” He said methods used to extract cannabis oil eliminated psychoactive effects. “There is a method (used) in order to produce an oil, which is a non-psychoactive, form of cannabinoids.” There is indeed medicinal cannabis oil being illegally distributed underground all throughout Australia, in Queensland, and yes, it is even being used in our little town of Gympie. “Perhaps it is about time the legislation started to reflect the people’s thoughts on this subject,” he said. “We live in a society which allows cancer-causing cigarettes and alcohol to be sold, fast foods to be advertised … pharmaceuticals, which are now a leading cause of death, to be prescribed. Though utilising cannabis, a natural herb, for its medicinal benefits is strictly forbidden. I find this fact absolutely astounding.” 

98.6 per cent back legal medical cannabis [Mudgee Guardian]

Readers’ feedback on a proposal to allow terminally ill people to have access to medicinal cannabis indicates strong support in the region for the move. Member for Orange Andrew Gee has said he will support a private member’s bill requesting that dying patients be allowed to use cannabis.  The bill from Nationals Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, is expected to be introduced into NSW Parliament in August.  Of 365 people who responded to a poll on the Mudgee Guardian & The Weekly website by Sunday morning, 362 (98.6 per cent) supported the proposal.  Three did not.  The proposal also prompted numerous comments on the Mudgee Guardian website and Facebook page. The majority of comments agreed that medicinal cannabis should be available on prescription to terminally ill people.“Anyone who’s ever watched a loved one erode and recede into their diseased selves will question the logic of denying such a person a cheap, effective herb,” wrote Ben Lynch on Facebook.  “Sometimes, despite its best intentions, the law is out of synch with society. This is one of those occasions.” Some respondents supported the proposal but called for an access to medicinal cannabis to be regulated.

Alan Jones and Lester Grinspoon [Radio 2GB]

Professor Grinspoon joins Alan from Boston to argue the case for the use of medical marijuana.

Imported hemp was used to construct this house [ABC]

This house at Table Cape in NW Tasmania was built using imported hemp.

ABC not concerned by video of Wil Anderson smoking marijuana [Daily Telegraph]

The ABC appears to have shrugged its shoulders over an internet video in which its high-profile star Wil Anderson appears to smoke marijuana. A spokesman from the ABC said there was “no comment” yesterday relating to the video of Anderson apparently using pipes and a bong to smoke marijuana, during an interview on the online US show Getting Doug With High. But a well-placed ABC insider said despite some raised eyebrows about Anderson’s internet video, which was doing the rounds of the web yesterday, “it won’t affect his ongoing appearances on the ABC”.


As cannabis legalisation gains momentum around the world, it’s the perfect time to explore what the cannabis leaf symbol means. I speak with academics, fashion industry insiders and a pro-cannabis advocate to find out more about this alluring counter-cultural-icon-cum-fashion-statement. This episode comes with a language warning.

Liberal MP Caught Out Over Drug Allegations [Sex Party]

West Australian Liberal backbencher, Phil Edman, yesterday called on the WA state government to ban a new product called Liquid Marijuana alleging that it could be a synthetic cannabinoid and contained dangerous chemicals. Police Minister Liza Harvey called it a contraband substance and criticised him for bringing it into Parliament and said that he may have even broken the law by doing this. Edman said he was willing to be arrested over the synthetic cannabinoid plague that was overtaking his Rockingham electorate. Premier Colin Barnett commented that the state was preparing even more laws to ban anything that could be called a psychoactive substance. Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said that she could now confirm that the Liquid Marijuana product that Mr Edman had spent so much time denouncing, was in fact, an innocent breath-freshener with no psychotropic effects whatsoever. “If Mr Edman, the Police Minister or the Premier had bothered to read the packaging, they would have found out that the claim that it makes you ‘high’ only comes about after you do a headstand and then spin around on the spot following use of the breath freshener”, she said. “Mr Edman has created an unjustified fear in the public over this product and used it to further his political campaign of being tough on drugs”. She said that if Mr Edman had read the packaging he would also have learned that: “This product contains absolutely no real marijuana or any other mind altering substance. If you believed our preposterous claims, you must be already stoned. Or else incredibly optimistic. If you are unemployed, visit your local employment office. A unicorn training centre maybe hiring new riders.” She said it was simply unbelievable that an educated man like Mr Edman, who had managed to make his way into parliament, could possibly have believed that the product was dangerous. “Politicians are stooping to new lows in their war on drugs and half the claims they make about synthetic cannabinoids are simply untrue”, she said.

Support. Don’t Punish Campaign [Sex Party]

The Australian Sex Party is assisting with the Melbourne arm of Support Don’t Punish in 2014, raising awareness on the need for a re-think of drug policy in Australia.  The party has developed a 21st century, evidence-based drugs policy that will begin to erode the walls of prohibition and the many problems and divisions it has caused in our society. The heightened risks faced by people who use drugs can no longer be ignored. It is time to leave behind harmful politics, ideology and prejudice. It is time to prioritise the health and welfare of people who use drugs, and their families and communities. Support. Don’t Punish is a global advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the harms being caused by the criminalisation of people who use drugs. The campaign aims to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions, and to promote respect for the human rights of people who use drugs.

Pussy Riot Lead Day Of Global Action In Call To End The War On Drugs [Huffington Post]

Activists in more than 100 cities have taken to the streets to call for an end to the war on drugs. These powerful images show that across the world people have had enough of harmful drug laws that have caused health crises, instability and mass incarceration. Protesters were joined by activists Pussy Riot in Russia, which has one of the highest numbers of injecting drug users in the world. “Support. Don’t Punish” is the message many are trying to get across, with mass demonstrations and other actions planned in New York, London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. 

First group of retail marijuana stores expected to open on July 8 in Washington [Seattle Pi]

Now there’s a date: The first group of “20-ish” retail marijuana stores will open on July 8 … if it all goes according to the latest plans. The Liquor Control Board is planning to issue the first licenses Monday, July 7, and those new licensees will have to use the first 24 hours getting the marijuana into their store tracing program. Then they can open on the 8th, said Brian Smith, the LCB’s communication director. One retailer who expects to open a store in Seattle on July 8 is Michael Perkins. He’s planning to open in a former state-run liquor store location at 14343 15th Ave. NE. And then by the end of July, he hopes to have a second store open on Aurora Avenue. Perkins, who has extensive experience in the medical cannabis market and still runs several medical dispensaries, says he will have I-502 product to sell in his retail shop, though he isn’t exactly sure what they’ll charge per gram or how long it will last. “I would assume $20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices,” he said. ”I expect to see demand for the 502 (marijuana). I expect to run out of product. And, I expect the people coming to run over and try to get a (medical) card … so they can go to a medical store next door. And therein lies the rub, some say. The black market and the “gray market” or Washington’s largely unregulated medical market, will continue to undercut the I-502′s high prices. But not everyone in the game thinks that’ll be the deciding factor.

Bill Clinton encourages states to ‘experiment’ with marijuana legalization [Washington Post]

A self-admitted marijuana dabbler himself, former President Bill Clinton on Sunday encouraged states to ‘experiment’ with legalizing marijuana, though he thinks the federal government should stay out of the issue. “I think we should leave it to the states,” Mr. Clinton saidSunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” according to Yahoo News. “If the state wants to try it, they can. And then they’ll be able to see what happens.”He also said that there’s “a lot of evidence” supporting the medicinal use of marijuana, though he admitted there are still many questions on the drug and legalization yet to be answered. 

Colorado: Pot shops not selling to kids [9 News]

State regulators and local police in Colorado found no pot shops breaking the law in a series of sting operations launched after legal recreational marijuana sales began in 2014. Mirroring alcohol laws, it is illegal in Colorado to sell recreational marijuana to people under 21 years of age. Medical marijuana may be purchased by shoppers over 18 years old if they are carrying a valid medical marijuana card. Sting operations targeted 20 marijuana stores in Denver and Pueblo in recent months – a fraction of the hundreds of businesses now licensed to sell the newly-legal drug. The sting operations involve sending underage shoppers into stores to attempt to purchase marijuana, while being supervised by police officers. Shops who break the law and sell to underage customers face hefty fines and can have their licenses suspended, restricted or revoked. Despite the limited scope of the sting operations in the fast-expanding marijuana industry, the announcement provides a welcome image boost to pot shops. “We are pleased with the results and will continue to monitor the businesses to ensure that the compliance efforts are maintained,” Lewis Koski, Director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, said.

Six Months In, How Has Marijuana Legalization Treated Colorado? [Mint Press News]

July 1 marks the historic six-month anniversary since Colorado’s Amendment 64 was enacted into law, making Colorado the first place in the world to legalize the sale of personal use marijuana for adults 21 and older. With the six-month mark approaching, many are asking: How has legalization gone for Colorado? In the grand scheme of things, six months may not be much, but since marijuana has never been legal before, many are curious how the state has been affected, especially since opponents to marijuana legalization warned of a host of negative consequences, such as an increases in crime, car accidents and teenage use of marijuana, and a decrease in tourism. The Drug Policy Alliance released a report last week revealing that, in fact, legalization’s impact on the state has been better than many expected. At a press conference on Thursday, Stephen Gutwillig, deputy executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said the report was released about two weeks before Washington state begins legal sales of marijuana for adults and about a month after Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. He stressed the importance of highlighting what’s happened in Colorado, since the state is responsible for the drug law reform momentum that has occurred. For example, New York recently became the 23rd state, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize medical marijuana, and two states — Alaska and Oregon — are expected to have voter initiatives on their ballots this fall that would legalize marijuana for adults in a manner similar to the legislation passed in Colorado in 2012.

Lock ’Em Up Nation [New York Times]

How did the United States, land of the free, become the world’s top jailer? It’s a question asked by visitors from other democracies, and the American citizen who wakes from a stupor to find that our prisons are stuffed with people serving interminable sentences for nonviolent crimes. For the answer, you need look no further than the real America, the sparsely settled, ruggedly beautiful, financially struggling eastern third of Washington State. There, 70-year-old Larry Harvey, his wife, two family members and a friend are facing mandatory 10-year prison terms for growing medical marijuana — openly and, they thought, legally — on their farm near the little town of Kettle Falls. To get a sense of the tragic absurdity of this federal prosecution, reaching all the way to the desk of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., consider what will happen next month. Pot stores will open in Washington, selling legal marijuana for the recreational user — per a vote of the people. A few weeks later, the Feds will try to put away the so-called Kettle Falls Five for growing weed on their land to ease their medical maladies. Federal sentencing guidelines, which trump state law, call for mandatory prison terms. Their pot garden was a co-op among the four family members and one friend; the marijuana was not for sale or distribution, Mr. Harvey says. “I think these patients were legitimate,” Dr. Greg Carter, who reviewed medical records after the arrest, told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane. “They are pretty normal people. We’re not talking about thugs.” But the authorities, using all the military tools at their disposal in the exhausted drug war, treated them as big-time narco threats.

A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son [Salon]

Every morning, I have to face the reality that my son is fighting for his life. It’s not clear whether he’ll live or die. All of this to find a small amount of drugs? The only silver lining I can possibly see is that my baby Bou Bou’s story might make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the “war on drugs.” I know that this has happened to other families, here in Georgia and across the country. I know that SWAT teams are breaking into homes in the middle of the night, more often than not just to serve search warrants in drug cases. I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted.  I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT.

Despite Science, New Medical Cannabis Laws Prohibit Smoked Cannabis [AlterNet]

A CBS poll taken in early January of this year concluded that  86 percent of the nation now supports safe access to cannabis at a doctor’s discretion and there are no signs of public opinion reversing on any other element of cannabis legalization. As public opinion changes, legislatures around the country have explored ways to meet local demand for safe access. As marijuana becomes incrementally more legal for all uses, states grappling with implementing legislation responding to constituent demand for cannabis in all its forms have passed various measures restricting cannabinoid content or strains available. As Minnesota and New York become the 22nd and 23rd states to implement medical cannabis laws, both states plan to prohibit smoked cannabis. There is no scientific basis for such a ban or evidence that alternative methods of ingestion are more effective for a patient. In fact, there is a lot of evidence supporting the use of smoked or vaporized flowers and concentrates as opposed to ingestibles alone. So are New York and Minnesota banning smoked marijuana simply because it doesn’t “look” medical? Perhaps there is a financial explanation. In New York State, the bill is awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has already agreed to sign. A less restrictive version made it through the state legislature but Cuomo refused to sign without certain concessions limiting dispensaries to 20 for the entire state (or one dispensary per million New Yorkers) and bans the smoking of cannabis flowers (marijuana buds). Cuomo has the authority to cancel the program at any time. Qualifying patients will likely have access to infused products such as capsules and tinctures via legal state dispensaries.

UK Edging Closer To Legalisation Of Cannabis As British Medical Association Debates ‘Health Issue’ [Huffington Post]

Cannabis use should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal act, leading doctors will hear. Delegates at the British Medical Association’s annual representative meeting in Harrogate are to debate whether cannabis should be legalised. A motion has been tabled calling on the doctors’ union to promote the legalisation of the drug.

Russell Brand and Richard Branson write letter to David Cameron calling for drug possession to be decriminalised [The Independent]

Russell Brand, Richard Branson, Will Self and Sting are among high-profile names to have written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for drug possession to be decriminalised. More than 90 celebrities, health experts, lawyers and politicians have signed the letter, which was drafted by drug charity Release. It states that current prohibitive laws have led to “unnecessary criminalisation” of more than 1.5million people in the last 15 years. It also notes that evidence from Australia, the Czech Republic and Portugal proves that health problems related to drugs are “dramatically” reduced when users are provided with medical support rather than being prosecuted. The call for change comes as the United Nations marks it annual International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the Support Don’t Punish organisation mark its second Global Day of Action, which highlights how drug users are still “stigmatised and abused”.

Khat ban: Why is it being made illegal? [BBC]

The leafy plant khat, which acts as a stimulant when chewed, is about to become a banned class C drug in the UK. But how big a problem is it and why are ministers making it illegal? Inevitably – as with all bans – a black market will emerge and the price of khat for those who buy it in the UK will rise. In America, khat currently sells for 10 times the pre-ban price in UK (it costs on average £3 a bunch). Back at the west London depot, Mahat may be winding down his own import business to stay on the right side of the law, but he believes others will still find a way to bring it into the UK. “Yes of course they will smuggle it,” he says with certainty. “You will see khat around the UK streets.”

The war on drugs is lost – legalise the heroin trade [The Guardian]

“I did not believe it before I went to Afghanistan. But it’s now clear that prohibition is no answer to this deadly scourge.” , British ambassador to Afghanistan from 2010-2012

In 2012 the International Institute for Strategic Studies published Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition, concluding that “the present enforcement regime is not only failing to win the ‘war on drugs’, it is also a major cause of violence and instability in producer and transit countries”. Afghanistan exemplifies this in spades. The opium trade is corrupting Afghan institutions at all levels – arming insurgents and warlords, and undermining security and development. In short, the war on drugs has failed in Afghanistan, and without removing the demand for illicit opium, driven by illicit heroin use in consumer countries, this failure is both predictable and inevitable. If we cannot deal effectively with supply, then the only alternative would seem to be to try to limit the demand for illicit drugs by making a supply of them available from a legally regulated market.

The violent history of International Anti-Drug Day [Vox]

A lot of people are unhappy with today’s celebration of International Anti-Drug Day. The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or International Anti-Drug Day for short, was established in 1987 by the United Nations. The day, marked on June 26 each year, is supposed to express the international community’s determination to combat and eventually eradicate drug abuse. This year’stheme: drug use disorders are preventable and treatable. That seems innocuous enough, but many activists are taking issue with how some countries use the day to push their overzealous anti-drug efforts. Around this time each year, several countries report punitive punishments, including the death penalty, against drug dealers. China, for one, used the lead-up to the day to unveil executions and other harsh punishments for drug traffickers in 2014201320122010, and 2009. Indonesia in 2008 touted International Anti-Drug Day as itresumed executions for drug traffickers after a four-year hiatus. Other countries, from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, also use the death penalty as a punishment for drug dealers and users. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has sent mixed messages on these kinds of practices in the past. Yury Fedotov, the agency’s chief, said the body opposes the death penalty, but he also praised Iran’s anti-drug efforts even though the country executes drug dealers. At the same time, the UN’s anti-drug agency regularly speaks out against laxer anti-drug tactics. Fedotov, for instance, criticized Uruguay when the country legalized pot to cut a major source of revenue from drug cartels. Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, a director at the Open Society Foundations, contrasts International Anti-Drug Day with other UN-appointed days, such as World AIDS Day. While World AIDS Day is used by support groups to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and how to treat and prevent the disease, International Anti-Drug Day is used by some countries to show off how strict they are against drug offenders.

10 Countries That Smoke The Most Marijuana [Leaf Science]

Jamaica is #10 and Australis is #9. Guess what country is #1?? Not a country that ever appears here on the Headlines . . . 

Pope Francis Spoke Out Against Drug Legalization — Here’s Why He’s Wrong [Vice]

The Pope might do well to reflect on the inspiration of his own church. After all, elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition might very well have derived from drug use. In 2008, an Israeli professor of cognitive philosophy concluded that Moses was likely high on psychedelicswhen God gave him the Ten Commandments.

Clemency for Roderick Walker – Life for LSD [Change.org]

Life without parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America, right after the DEATH PENALTY. Make no mistake, A LIFE SENTENCE IS A LIVING DEATH. This should be reserved for our worst and most violent criminals, not non-violent DeadHeads. Rudd is certainly no threat to anyone. Very few people can ever understand what it is to be so close to society, but completely unable to affect it in any way, dying lonely and forgotten in the depths of the criminal penal system for a non-violent drug offense. Such a sentence is America’s Shame. Recently the Justice Department announced a sweeping new initiative which actively solicits clemency petitions from inmates who have served more than 10 years for a nonviolent crime. Please support our petition for commutation (reduction) of his sentence, and help bring Rudd home to his family.

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