Embassy Headlines, Issue 108

Successful laws are measured by their benefit to society. When a law fails to address the health and welfare of the sick and dying then that law does more harm than good.

Cannabis prohibition denies a personal choice of therapy and imposes punishment instead. Continuing to enforce a harmful law is a betrayal of the faith in judgement that politicians are obliged to possess.

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.


This is Nimbin: inside the “refugee camp for the war on drugs” [SBS]

According to marijuana activists the prohibition of cannabis is not only socially immoral, it’s also fiscally irresponsible.  Nimbin’s Hemp Party has taken note of evolving law reform in the United States, adopting the slogan “Colorado Dreaming”.  Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana sales on January 1st, 2014, marking the start of the best year in recent history for cannabis law reform. Many strangers have come to visit Nimbin, and some have never left.  Those that stay, consider themselves to be marijuana refugees, seeking asylum from the stigmas of mainstream society.  While relaxing on the back porch of the Hemp Embassy, Michael Balderstone, the Hemp Party’s fearless leader explains, “I reckon, Nimbin is a refugee camp for the war on drugs.” Make no mistake, for 365 days a year, supporters encourage cannabis use.  One only needs to walk down Cullen Street in Nimbin to witness an alternative lifestyle.  But despite Nimbin’s reputation, hard drugs, and to some degree alcohol, don’t fall under the community’s umbrella of acceptance.

IN DEFENCE OF NIMBIN [Electronic Swagman]

My recent visit was enlightening. I was here to tell a story and felt duty bound to hear from the locals. Even before I did a number of things struck me. After traveling through an outback New South Wales devastated by drought, globalization and mining, Nimbin was buzzing, the desperation of the small towns I had visited replaced by swirling colour, enterprise and movement. I parked the ‘Swagmobile’ opposite the local skate rink. About twelve young boys were skating and amongst them was a young dwarf. He exuded a complete lack of self-consciousness. In fact he was the best skater of the lot. It became a metaphor for the inclusiveness of the town. Walking into the town centre I was then struck by the number of Aboriginals who sat side by side with the locals. I have come from many years in Alice Springs where the combined efforts of highly paid white bureaucrats has created an apartheid, no other word for it. Here the local Aboriginals are welcomed, respected and consulted. Old people, white or black, aren’t shunted to homes, they sit in the cafes and they have names that are known and shouted out by young people who walk past. Dogs and cats have names too. They lie in the street and force people to go around them, which because no one is in a hurry is cool, and because no one is in a hurry people sit under trees and talk for hours. Conversation between human beings is everywhere. 

Cannabis brings sweet pain relief [Yahoo 7 News WA]

A Rockingham man says chronic pain confined him to his bed for most of his 20s until he tried medical cannabis. Stuart, who asked the Telegraph to withhold his surname, said switching from pharmaceutical medication to medical cannabis instantly improved his quality of life. The 30-year-old has fibromyalgia, a chronic condition which affects his muscles, tendons and ligaments, but there is no cure.

Legalising the production, processing and administration of medicinal cannabis [Tasmanian Parliament E-Petition]

All Tasmanians, now is your chance to decide whether your state continues the costly exercise of targeting friends and family, and criminalising those who are already suffering from illness and choose to effectively treat their ailments with a natural plant. Please forward this to your Tasmanian friends, this might set a precedent for the rest of the country. “The medicinal cannabis to alleviate suffering and pain electronic petition is now available on the Tasmanian parliament website. Only you can make this petition worth more than the paper it is printed on.”

Cannabis industry: Tasmanian councils look to hemp to boost jobs [ABC]

Councils around Tasmania are pushing for industrial and medical cannabis in a bid to drive jobs growth in regional areas. Farmers have been trying to grow industrial hemp for fibre for years, but have struggled with regulatory hurdles. The State Government recently rejected a medical cannabis growing trial, citing concerns about safety and social harm. Tasmania’s unemployment rate stands at 7.5 per cent, in trend terms, compared to 6 per cent nationally. In recent years, contraction in Tasmania’s traditional industrial powerhouses of forestry and mining have hit hard in regional areas, and that has flowed on to contractors and businesses that rely on them.

Medicinal cannabis trial rejected in Tasmania after key concerns unresolved[Advocate]

A proposal for a medicinal cannabis trial in Tasmania was rejected by state health minister Michael Ferguson due to business representatives being unable to address security, safety and social harm concerns. Mr Ferguson penned an opinion piece for The Advocate on the issue, saying he rejected the Tasman Health Cannabinoids’ proposal after a meeting last week. “There has been a robust discussion in the community and media over the past fortnight on the subject of a medicinal cannabis trial in Tasmania and it is important to bust some of the myths and misinformation which have surfaced,” he said. “First of all, let us be clear. Contrary to popular myth, cannabis can be harmful and has significant negative health impacts. It can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer and serious mental health problems including depression and psychosis.”

Tas Health Minister Michael Ferguson challenged to debate on medicinal cannabis [ABC]

The president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation (ADLRF) has challenged Health Minister Michael Ferguson to a debate about medicinal cannabis on “radio or television”. The State Government recently rejected a proposal to trial medicinal cannabis for the treatment of nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The trial was proposed by Tasman Health Cannabinoids in conjunction with the University of Tasmania. As the Government was in the process of rejecting the trial, Mr Ferguson said the necessary cannabinoid products were already available. “In Tasmania and around Australia a number of cannabinoids that are derived from cannabis are in fact available through perfectly legal and authorised prescriptions for certain medical illnesses, and I think that’s the way it should be,” he said. The ADLRF’s Dr Alex Wodak said technically that was true, but in practice it was not. “Nabiximols (also known as Sativex) is only approved [for use for a short period] for stiffness due to multiple sclerosis,” he said. “It is available in theory but not in practice. If available and approved for other indications, the likely cost ($800 per month) will prevent all but the wealthiest using the drug,” he said. It’s time to take the politics out of this issue, says Dr Wodak.

Police question pregnant mother over cannabis treatment for disabled son[The Age]

A heavily pregnant mother has been taken into police custody and questioned after admitting to using cannabis oil to treat her profoundly disabled three-year-old son’s epilepsy. Police seized the treatment, made form a non psychoactive form of cannabis oil, and questioned Cassie Batten of Mernda, north-east of Melbourne at Epping police station on Thursday afternoon. The mother left the station with her partner Rhett Wallace following the questioning. It is understood no charges were laid. Ms Batten was interviewed by police after featuring in a current affairs program about the use of a product called Mullaways Cannabinoid Tincture. During an interview on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, Ms Batten said her son Cooper’s health had remarkably improveed after the use of the cannabis treatment. Born at 30 weeks, Cooper has endured a catalogue of health issues, among them cerebral palsy, epilepsy, infantile spasms and global delay development. The Battens are one of at least 150 families nationwide using the Mullaways tinctures.

Message from Mullaways

Hi all. It has taken me a while to think of the words to say on what is happening to these Children and their family’s. I hope that you bare with me and I hope that you are outraged and share this with everyone you know. As one of the first Nation People I have seen this Country and heard it story’s from the Elder’s, of people been herded from cliffs, shot for digging potatoes and Children left to suffer , these were stories of the past. I find myself seeing the same thing been repeated again. Dose anyone every sit back and think how did we get to this point in time ? How did we as a people let this happen ? This is a war that America started with a few hippies and now we allow this in our Country to our Children how far have we come ?? If this is a war then they have taken in to account for so many to die and so many to suffer . I would like everyone to right to the Health Minster In NSW and Victoria and ask them what that Number is for the sick , the suffering , and are we allowing the Children to be used in these numbers, and when did we think it would be alright to allow Children to suffer in this way in your War ?? just ask for a Number . That way if I go to jail on the 29 th of this month we will have a Number to work towards and they might let me out ??  To the Police that carried this out and say I was just doing my Job. I say to them I know what it is like some 40 years ago I was counted with the flora and fauna but we stood up as a people as one. I will not go down in history as a SHEEP now. Stand up for the people that you sad YOU WOULD PROTECT the most venerable in our Country. IT”S YOUR TURN be brave ??

Donations for the legal costs to fight Tony Bower’s Court Case can be made to:

The Alan C. Salt “for Tony” account. (Summerland Credit Union)
BSB: 728-728
Account No.: 22295366

Kind regards and remember…Don’t Say Anything, Just Mullaway.

Victorian Senate Candidates [Drug Law Reform Australia]

I have been involved in politics since my father, Don Chipp founded the Australian Democrats in the late 1970s. He taught me that politics is not about being right per se, but about being involved in a process that arrives at the right decision.

Dealing with age [Brisbane Times]

Two decades ago, my father, then in his mid-70s, used to fly to the northern NSW town of Lismore several times a year. He would buy $10,000 worth of marijuana, store it in his carry-on luggage and return to Sydney the same day. A lifelong user, he had started dealing in order to supplement both his habit and his age pension. At the time, I considered him an entrepreneurial anomaly, but these days more and more Australian pensioners are cultivating and/or selling illegal drugs. Some do it for the promise of regular visitors, others to fund hobbies, others to be able to afford to self-medicate. Most, however, seem to be happy to be on the wrong side of the law for the chance to top up their pensions with tax-free cash.

Drug-dealing great-grandparents narrowly avoid jail sentences [Illawarra Mercury]

Two drug-dealing great-grandparents caught with more than one kilogram of cannabis have avoided jail because of their age and previously clean criminal record, a court has heard. Denise and Alex Laczko were given community corrections orders in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Friday after pleading guilty to trafficking and possessing a drug of dependence. The husband and wife duo, aged 74 and 62, would purchase two to three pounds of cannabis each fortnight and had been selling the drug to a small group of customers since for about nine months for $250 per ounce.

Banning sniffer dogs at music festivals could be valuable: experts [SMH]

Trialling a sniffer dog-free music festival could be a valuable experiment, according to drug safety and policy experts. It follows the plea by Australian band Art Vs Science to abandon the use of drug-detection dogs at this month’s Splendour in the Grass event to reduce the number of “panic” overdoses. “Automatically you will cut out the number of hospitalisations due to people panicking upon sight of the dogs and ingesting their whole weekend’s supply of drugs,” guitarist Dan McNamee wrote on the band’s Facebook page. A study of 500 New South Wales festival-goers conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre during summer 2014 examined how sniffer dogs influenced their behaviour. Lead researcher Caitlin Hughes said 62 per cent of respondents said they would take drugs either way, but that the presence of sniffer dogs would prompt two key changes. “There was a 13 per cent increase in the number of people who said they’d use at least some of their drugs outside the venue, rather than using them all inside,” she said. “The other big change was a 40 per cent increase in the relative amount of consumption of ecstasy, methamphetamine and other drugs, as opposed to using cannabis.” Dr Hughes said other studies had shown dogs found it easier to sniff out marijuana than other party drugs. “So they’re switching from cannabis to ecstasy and methamphetamine for reasons we think are to do with reducing their potential risk of detection by the dog.”

Hemp seeds: should this superfood be illegal? [Good Foods]

They are climbing the superfood sales charts elsewhere and claims of their health benefits are spreading, but in Australia hemp seeds remain under a cloud. It is one of the few countries in the world where a question mark hangs over their legality. Despite no evidence that consumers can get high from the cannabis plant derivative, there are bans in place. A Food Standards Australia New Zealand investigation concluded that “hemp does not have any psychoactive properties”. It said it didn’t identify any safety concerns about consumption and that hemp seeds were a nutritious food containing sizeable amounts of protein, polyunsaturated fats and dietary fibre. Yet a Melbourne restaurant that regularly serves dishes containing hemp seeds could be pursued by the Health Department if its identity was disclosed. As cannabis is a prohibited substance under the Food Act, it is illegal to sell hemp seeds, or hemp seed oil, as food. The fine is $40,000 for an individual and $200,000 for a corporation. A Health Department spokesman said it would follow up a complaint if one were made and that there are no exemptions. But a restaurateur who serves hemp smoothies and hemp seed chocolate fudge said she was unaware she was committing an offence.

Riding The White Elephant [Meanjin]

Inasmuch as Australia is fighting a war on drugs, we are losing. Australia is a wealthy nation, with a rich tradition of drug abuse and binge behaviour, and traditional methods of combating drug abuse are expensive, and flawed. Portugal dealt with a drug problem that was destroying its citizens by abandoning prohibition. Through changing the rules, the Portuguese changed the conversation about drugs, and then the reality of the problem. It’s an approach that has been closely watched by many other countries struggling with their own drug problems, including us.

The success of Portugal’s decriminalisation policy – in seven charts [TDPF UK]

Last month, we released a short briefing that debunked some of the claims made about the innovative approach to drug policy taken in Portugal, where personal drug possession is not treated as a criminal offence, and health and harm reduction services have been significantly expanded.I thought it might help to highlight the success of this health-centred approach by making a few charts that show the effects it’s had in a range of key areas. (When reading the time series charts, bear in mind that this approach came into force in 2001.)

Berkeley Approves “Weed Welfare” for Low-Income Residents and Homeless[All Gov California]

It’s not exactly free pot for all, but the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend their medical marijuana ordinance to require that dispensaries give 2% of their weed to very low-income residents and the homeless without charge. Dispensaries must distribute 2% of the gross weight of all the marijuana they sell and it can’t be skunk weed. It has to be at least “the same quality on average” as what the paying customers get. That might be a tough one to regulate. It should be easier to determine who qualifies. For now, any individual making less than $32,000 a year or a family of four earning $46,000 qualifies. Councilmember Darryl Moore told CBS Newst, “The city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine. We think this is the responsible thing to do for those less fortunate in our community.”

A Sensible Marijuana Policy in Brooklyn [NY Times]

Kenneth Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, served both justice and common sense this week when he announced that he would no longer prosecute most cases in which people are arrested or ticketed for small amounts of marijuana. Such cases are usually dismissed. But by keeping thousands of them from going to court at all, Mr. Thompson will have more resources to devote to fighting serious crime. The new policy will also prevent the young minority men who are most of those arrested from getting criminal records that deny them jobs, housing or entry into armed services. New York has been wrestling with the marijuana enforcement problem for several decades. In 1977, for example, the State Legislature sought to cut down on arrests and relieve pressure on the court system by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. The law made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a noncriminal violation akin to a parking ticket, punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. Possession of marijuana in public view was made a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

Seattle’s first marijuana shop closes after running out of stock in three days[Guardian]

Seattle‘s first and only recreational marijuana store had to close on Friday after running out of stock in just three days after Washington became the second US state to allow pot sales to adults. Cannabis City opened in Seattle on Tuesday with at least 4.5kg (10 pounds) of marijuana for sale, and by close of business on Thursday it was all gone. A message on the store’s phone line said it would re-open on 21 July. There were widespread concerns that shortages of pot would afflict retailers this week after the state issued its first 25 licences to outlets, under a heavily regulated and taxed system approved by voters in November 2012. Some business owners planned to limit the amount of marijuana early customers could buy to try to make stocks last.

Cannabis 2.0: Making It in the Emerging Marijuana Industry [Evolver Learning Lab]

For this exciting online course, Zappy has invited some of the leading experts and entrepreneurs in the emerging cannabis space to help you understand, integrate and apply the latest, valuable insider knowledge.  Not since the 1930s have we seen a moment like this where a multi-billion dollar industry arrives with no brand leaders.  The lessons learned from prohibition can be effectively applied to this industry, leading to the creation of brands that will thrive for generations, like Seagram’s or Jack Daniels do today. While it seems like too many people are jumping into the space, it is not true. Many people and companies that would like to participate are not doing so because of the taboo nature of the product, the current “illegal” status as the Federal level, and the fact that many have never touched or used the product before.  There is a momentary window where entering the space now will put you far ahead of your future competition. 

Smell of Marijuana Alone Can No Longer Justify Police Search [Boston.com]

Thanks to a 2008 vote decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in the state, Massachusetts police officers can no longer rely on the odor of unburnt marijuana as probable cause to justify a vehicle search, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court said today—even if the smell is “strong” or “very strong,” justices said.

Black police leaders: Marijuana laws, policies damage minority communities[Michigan Live]

As a police chief, John Dixon III is convinced that marijuana laws are an utter failure. Such laws have helped put a disproportionate number of blacks in prison, or left them with criminal records that hurt chances at education, jobs and housing. “We, as law-enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts. We are locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint. They’re put in the criminal-justice system which pretty much ruins the rest of their lives,” Dixon said Tuesday, July 15.

DEA may be losing the war on marijuana politics [LA Times]

Lately, the Drug Enforcement Administration has found itself under attack in Congress as it holds its ground against marijuana legalization while the resolve of longtime political allies — and the White House and Justice Department to which it reports — rapidly fades. “For 13 of the 14 years I have worked on this issue, when the DEA came to a hearing, committee members jumped over themselves to cheerlead,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group. “Now the lawmakers are not just asking tough questions, but also getting aggressive with their arguments.” So far this year, the DEA’s role in the seizure of industrial hemp seeds bound for research facilities in Kentucky drew angry rebukes from the Senate’s most powerful Republican. The GOP-controlled House recently voted to prohibit federal agents from busting medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. And that measure, which demonstrated a shared distaste for the DEA’s approach to marijuana, brought one of the Senate’s most conservative members together with one of its most liberal in a rare bipartisan alliance.

White House Says Marijuana Policy Is States’ Rights Issue [Huffington Post]

The Obama administration believes marijuana policy is a states’ rights issue, the White House said Monday in opposing Republican-led legislation that would prevent Washington, D.C., from using local funds to decriminalize marijuana possession. The GOP-sponsored House amendment would prevent D.C. “from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule,” the White House said in a statement. The White House said the bill “poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

Pro-Marijuana Banking Amendment Passes House [International Business Times]

The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment Wednesday afternoon that will make it easier for legitimate marijuana businesses operating in states where the drug has been legalized to obtain financial services. The amendment blocks the Securities and Exchange Commission and Treasury Department from spending money to penalize banks and other financial institutions for working with pot businesses that do not break state law. “The recent votes in the House of Representatives demonstrate bipartisan support at the federal level to allow states to experiment with new marijuana policies, free from federal interference,” NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, said in a statement issued shortly after the Wednesday vote. “If implemented, this amendment will help alter the current untenable status quo that forces otherwise law abiding businesses to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminal actions and unduly burdening their operations.”

World Health Organisation calls for the decriminalisation of drug use [IDPC]

This month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the UN agency that coordinates international health responses – launched a new set of guidelines for HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations. The new document is the culmination of months of consultation and review, and pulls together existing guidance for five groups: men who have sex with men, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers, transgender people, and people who inject drugs. These key populations are the most-at-risk of HIV, yet the least likely to access services – a fact that “threatens global progress on the HIV response” according to WHO. By consolidating previous guidance, the document is able to highlight common barriers and needs – including recommendations for legal reforms to support service delivery.

Study Sheds Light on Marijuana and Paranoia [Web MD]

An in-depth investigation has concluded that people who smoke marijuana are much more likely to have paranoia than people who don’t use the drug. The study also identifies psychological factors that can lead to feelings of paranoia in people exposed to the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC. The team of researchers, led by Professor Daniel Freeman, PHD, of the University of Oxford, found that worrying, low self-esteem, anxietydepression, and having a range of unsettling changes in perceptions most likely lead to the feelings of paranoia.

Juicing Cannabis Journal With Facts by Dr. William Courtney [YouTube]

Video Journal of Juicing Cannabis with clips of Dr William Courtney With clips from 


Dr William Courtney speaks on the many health benefits of CBD and THC. Medical Marijuana in the smoked form provides some medicinal benefit to all recreational users, but the non-psychoactive form of THC Acid and CBD Acid allow much higher doses and far greater medicinal value, while avoiding the side-effect of getting high.

Arizona official: Medical pot can be used for PTSD [AZ Central]

Arizona’s top health official said Wednesday that people authorized to use medical marijuana may soon begin using the drug to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, if a physician recommends it. The decision by state Department of Health Services Director Will Humble will allow PTSD sufferers, beginning Jan. 1, to use cannabis for palliative care — but not as a primary treatment for the disorder. Arizona’s medical marijuana law provides two ways patients can use medical marijuana: to treat specific medical conditions or for palliative care — to make life more comfortable for those suffering from medical ailments. The decision is a big win for medical marijuana advocates, many whom have long said cannabis is effective in treating PTSD. In announcing his decision, Humble cited a recent study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs that provides evidence that marijuana may be helpful in the palliative care of PTSD in some patients.

Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Make Limited Marijuana Extract Available to Patients [MPP Blog]

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a limited medical marijuana bill into law yesterday. HB 2238 allows some patients with intractable epilepsy access to products containing marijuana extracts. Those extracts must be limited primarily to a non-psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, or CBD.

EGA 10 Year Anniversary Indoor Symposium – Save the date

It is with great excitement we announce Entheogenesis Australis’s [EGA] 10th birthday celebration with a one-day indoor symposium in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday 6 December. For a decade the EGA conference has provided a major meeting place for the ethnobotanical and psychonaut communities in Australia to share information and celebrate connections with each other and the sacred plants we fight for. Featuring the Australian psychedelic community’s leading thinkers, please join us for this special celebration. We’re sure there is a lot to be said after 10 years of EGA! To help celebrate 10 years of impressive knowledge sharing at EGA events, the day will feature the Australian psychedelic community’s leading thinkers The symposium format will include heaps of short talks, and a couple of keynotes. We will record all presentations at EGA-14 for inclusion on the EGA YouTube Channel. Save the date! Spread the word!! And join us in Melbourne for this special occasion. There are more details to come but for now mark the date in your calendar and start thinking about travel plans if you’re interstate. Please join us for this special event!

Entheogenesis Australis 10 Year Anniversary Sympoisum: EGA-14
Saturday 6 December 2014
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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