Embassy Headlines, Issue 112

All Cannabis is medicinal, including the low THC industrial hemp variety that is already legal to cultivate under licence in most Australian states.
Healing properties prevent and cure disease or do more than just treat the symptoms of a medical condition. Cannabis seed is nutritious and a healthy form of protein with polyunsaturated fatty acids. Every seed is sacred.

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.


Nimbin’s iconic buildings go up in smoke [EchoNet]

Nimbin has lost some of its most iconic buildings including the Nimbin Museum and Rainbow Cafe in a fire that ripped through the heart of the village early morning 13 August. It’s understood police are currently questioning a person in relation to the blaze, which also destroyed the All Tribes shop adjoining the museum, and the Bringabong store. Nimbin Museum owner Michael Balderstone told Echonetdaily he received a call about the fire just after 4am and could see the glow as he raced into town. ‘It’s as if Nimbin has had its two front teeth knocked out,’ Mr Balderstone said. It’s believed the fire started at the rear of the Rainbow Cafe but quickly spread to the museum and adjoining shops.

Hemp as Food [Food Standards Australia]

At present, hemp cannot be used in food in Australia and New Zealand as it is prohibited in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. A review is now due to be completed on 5 December 2014 for consideration in late January 2015. Let’s make the most of the extended deadline. How to make a submission. Application number: A1039 (Low THC Hemp as a Food) 

Andrew Wilkie wants legalisation of industrial hemp for human consumption fast-tracked [ABC]

Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie says there is confusion about the difference between the industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis industries. Mr Wilkie hopes to introduce a motion to federal Parliament next week to fast-track the legalisation of industrial hemp for human consumption. Three years ago Food Standards Australia New Zealand declared hemp seeds and oil safe for human consumption, and the notion was given unanimous support from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting. Mr Wilkie said there was no good reason for Australia to remain one of only two developed countries in the world not to legalise the crop, which can be grown for fibre as well as food. He said debate over the introduction of medicinal cannabis was clouding and confusing what was a very separate issue.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan: Medicinal cannabis laws need to change [Perth Now]

We need to change WA’s laws so that doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis under the supervision of a medical practitioner. It would be dispensed like other medications as a tablet or spray. This is not advocating the legalisation of recreational cannabis but we need to find a way to allow the medicinal use of cannabis to help the nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and pain in chronically and terminally ill people. I support the use of therapeutic cannabinoids which have been approved as effective and safe. Many people agree. The Australian Medical Association itself says: “There is a growing body of evidence that certain cannabinoids are effective in the treatment of chronic pain, particularly as an alternative or adjunct to the use of opiates, when the development of opiate tolerance and withdrawal can be avoided”.

Medical marijuana reforms to be considered by Legislative Assembly committee[Canberra Times]

A Legislative Assembly committee will consider proposed laws allowing terminally and chronically ill Canberrans to grow marijuana and use the drug to alleviate their pain and symptoms. The Greens-led push to legalise medical cannabis would see patients apply to the ACT Chief Health Officer for approval to possess and use cannabis as part of pain relief. An exposure draft of the legislation and discussion paper put forward by minister Shane Rattenbury on the issue will go before the Assembly’s standing committee on health, ageing, community and social services for a report to be tabled by June 2015. 

Support for medicinal cannabis [Southern Highland News]

Compassion has united politicians from the major parties behind the legalisation of medicinal cannabis. Eighteen months ago General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4 was formed to investigate the merits behind medicinal cannabis for those with a terminal illness. It was made up of two Legislative Council members of the National Party, which included committee chair Sarah Mitchell, two members of the Labour Party and one member from the Liberal Party, the Greens and the Shooters and Fishers Party. Ms Mitchell and fellow National Party representative Trevor Khan attended the August meeting of the Southern Highlands Branch of the National Party to engage in discussion on the topic with local members. In May 2013 the committee drafted a report for State Parliament with a series of unanimous recommendations that included an amendment to The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. The amendment would add a complete defense to the medical use and possession of cannabis by patients with terminal illness.

Southern councils back medicinal cannabis growing trials in Tasmania [ABC]

Support is growing among Tasmanian councils to allow the growing of medicinal cannabis. In July, Health Minister Michael Ferguson rejected a bid to allow the trials, saying he was not convinced of the benefits. He was also concerned it could pose a security risk and could cause social harm. Councils representing about half of Tasmania’s population have supported growing cannabis to produce medicines. The 12 councils that comprise the group Think South gave their unanimous support at a meeting yesterday. They believe a medicinal cannabis industry could drive the region’s economic recovery. Think South CEO, Brenton West, said it was significant the big urban members were backing the position of smaller regional councils.

High price of alcohol drives demand for illegal drugs [Sydney Morning Herald]

The expense of alcohol is driving Australia’s high rates of illicit drug use, health experts say, as new figures show Australia’s combination of high levels of use and expensive illicit substances buck international trends. Australia is one of the most expensive countries in which to buy illicit substances. It ranks second for amphetamine, fourth for cocaine, fifth for methamphetamine and eighth for both ecstasy and cannabis, according to price data in the 2014 UN World Drug Report and a 2014 National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre report on drug use trends. But Australia is also one of the most expensive countries in which to buy alcohol, making substances such as ecstasy and cannabis a “sensible” economic choice for someone looking for a night on the town, leading Australian researchers say. “Substitution between substances, whether they’re legal or illegal, is very common,” NDARC drug policy modelling program director Alison Ritter said. “That’s just sensible consumer behaviour at one level … It’s no different to the choices one makes when shopping in a supermarket.”

Marijuana for the Masses: Berkeley Approves Free Pot for the Poor [Examiner]

The City Council of Berkeley, California recently passed an ordinance that requires medical marijuana dispensaries to set aside 2 percent of their product for “low income” individuals and families. Recipients, who must be Berkeley residents and make under $32,000 a year ($46,000 for families of four,) will receive the marijuana completely free of charge. The bold move is the first of its kind in the world, and shows that a city government acknowledges that marijuana is a medicine so potent and important that access to it needs to be ensured.

USA: Illinois Medical Marijuana Applications Now Available [MPP Blog]

The three departments that oversee the Illinois medical cannabis program posted several important documents online on Fridayincluding cannabis patient applications, which are available here. Additional forms were also made available, including documents for physicians to use for recommendations, fingerprint consent forms, caregiver applications, frequently asked questions, and preliminary versions of applications for both dispensaries and cultivation centers. All those documents and other information are available here.

Marijuana Legalization: Pharmaceuticals, Alcohol Industry Among Biggest Opponents Of Legal Weed [International Business Times]

The biggest players in the anti-marijuana legalization movement are pharmaceutical, alcohol and beer companies, private prison corporations and police unions, all of whom help fund lobby groups that challenge marijuana law reform. 

How Nixon Destroyed the Evidence on Marijuana [marijuana.com]

According to oval office tapes declassified in 2002, Nixon told Shafer he wanted a report that would blur the distinction between marijuana and hard drugs. The tapes reveal that as the commission was beginning its investigation in May, 1971, Nixon told his aide H.R. 
Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement about marijuana. Can I get that out of this sonofa-bitching, uh, domestic council? I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.” Two weeks later Nixon saw something in his news summary that inspired him to tell Haldeman, “Every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there’s so many, all the greatest psychiatrists are Jewish. By god, we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss. I want to find a way of putting more on that.”

The Impact of Recreational Marijuana Use on a Denver Neighborhood [Main Street]

“What we’ve seen in Colorado since regulation is a 3% drop in teen use, a 25% reduction in the availability of cannabis on school grounds and a drop in traffic fatalities,” said Darnell, an attorney who specializes in marijuana law. “We’ve also seen crime drop in neighborhoods with dispensaries in them. It’s across the board.”

Pot Use Among Colorado Teens Appears to Drop After Legalization [US News]

Marijuana use among Colorado high school students appears to be declining, despite the state’s pioneering voter-approved experiment with legalization. According to preliminary data from the state’s biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in 2013 – the first full year the drug was legal for adults 21 and older – 20 percent of high school students admitted using pot in the preceding month and 37 percent said they had at some point in their lives. The survey’s 2011 edition found 22 percent of high school students used the drug in the past month and 39 percent had ever sampled it. It’s unclear if the year-to-year decline represents a statistically significant change, but data from 2009 suggests a multiyear downward trend. That year 25 percent of high school kids said they used pot in the past month and 45 percent said they had ever done so.

End Prohibition for the Whole-Plant Cannabis, Not Only CBD [AlterNet]

Unfortunately, every US state that legalizes a CBD-only bill is another state demonizing THC-rich cannabis. This is problematic because THC has numerous medicinal benefits, including anti-cancer properties. While CBD is a major medicinal component of cannabis, it is not the only one. It is foolhardy to ignore the therapeutic potential of THC and the power of the entourage effect. These CBD-only bills are half-measures, a step in the right direction at best and blatant misdirection at worst, they also codify discrimination against THC-rich medicine, and those who use it, into law. We should strive to be a nation of science, and the science supports a whole-plant legalization that allows patients to use whatever component of the cannabis plant they see fit.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg calls for Class A drug users to avoid jail [ITV]

UK Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will tomorrow make a manifesto commitment on the controversial subject of drugs use. He will commit his party to abolishing prison sentences for the possession of drugs – even Class A drugs like heroin and cocaine – in England and Wales. The Lib Dems say 1,000 people a year are jailed for possession of drugs for their own personal use.

Norman Baker, UK Drugs Minister, Hosts Medicinal Cannabis Conference At Home Office [Clear UK]

Norman Baker MP, Minister of State for Crime Prevention, hosted a conference at the Home Office on 14th July including representatives from the Home Office, the Department of Health and CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform.  CLEAR was invited to present its proposals for reform of current policy and to offer testimony in support from several medicinal cannabis users.This was the first ever occasion on which such an inter-departmental meeting has been convened on this subject.  It marks a worldwide trend towards the reintroduction of cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

Synthetic cannabis causing serious health problems in English prisons [Guardian]

Synthetic cannabis known as “spice” or “black mamba” is a growing problem in UK prisons with serious physical and mental health consequences, the chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick has said. Its popularity with inmates has surged because the psychoactive designer drug can be passed off as a tobacco roll-up, has no distinctive smell and it evades current drug testing capabilities in prisons.

Marijuana sting: Bees attack police destroying cannabis plot [RT]

Russian police met their match as they attempted to clear a cannabis plantation. They were sent fleeing from the scene by scores of angry bees. However, officers had the last laugh when they returned wearing protective gear to get rid of the weed.

Marijuana and Anxiety: A Self Help Guide [Leaf Science]

Many people who use marijuana say that it helps relieve anxiety. On the other hand, there are just as many who report feeling more anxious after using marijuana. Although the exact details remain a mystery, a possible explanation may lie in the specific chemical make-up of cannabis. As most marijuana users are aware, not all cannabis is the same. There are a wide range of strains of cannabis available, and many are believed to have unique effects on their user. What makes different strains unique from one another is their active chemical ingredients, also known as cannabinoids. Although clinical research is lacking, knowing the differences between strains and how they affect anxiety can be helpful.

A Marijuana Lubricant That Gives You a 15-Minute Climax [Earth We Are One]

The gel–which is to be applied directly inside (if you know what I mean) –contains medicinal cannabis oil (with THC and cannabinoids) from marijuana grown in California. It is complemented with coconut oil, especially designed to give a pleasant fragrance and, above all, to prevent fungal infections. Besides, “It’s delicious to eat,” says Gerson. According to its creators, it is 100% natural and free from chemicals, additives, sugars and gluten. It is edible, vegan-friendly, and its pH is low to care for the skin and maintain the your lady part’s own healthy pH. The result? A viscous, smooth, slippery substance that will allow you to enjoy at least 15 minutes of continuous climax. Each spray contains 360 milligrams of THC, enough for 30 sessions.

Could hemp nanosheets topple graphene for making the ideal supercapacitor?[ACS]

As hemp makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors. They’re presenting their research, which a Canadian start-up company is working on scaling up, at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.  Mitlin’s team built their supercapacitors using the hemp-derived carbons as electrodes and an ionic liquid as the electrolyte. Fully assembled, the devices performed far better than commercial supercapacitors in both energy density and the range of temperatures over which they can work. The hemp-based devices yielded energy densities as high as 12 Watt-hours per kilogram, two to three times higher than commercial counterparts. 

Book: Garden of Eden [Largely Accurate Information Media]

“Garden of Eden, by Snu Voogelbreinder explores the vast world of psychoactive plants, animals and other organisms, and their uses in shamanism, spiritual exploration and healing. Encompassing scientific research, personal experience, ancient knowledge and esoteric philosophies, a multidisciplinary approach is taken, giving a wide view of the effects of natural substances on the mind, with an emphasis towards beneficial outcomes.”

Planet’s strongest shamans gather in Tuva for landmark festival [Russia Beyond the Headlines]

The most powerful shamans from Sweden, Greenland, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan have arrived in the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia for a new international festival devoted to shamanic culture. Besides participants from abroad, the Call of 13 Shamans festival has attracted shamans from four of Russia’s regions – Altai, Khakassia, Tuva, and Yakutia – who are also participating in the event. Drum rites, rituals, meditation, mysteries, and throat singing are all part of the program. The organizers also promise to hold interesting seminars and master classes on the spiritual practices of shamans and divination. All those interested will also be taught the “Eagle” dance, which is part of the Un-Hun spiritual health program. The global goal of the festival is the revival of the shamanic traditions.

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