Embassy Headlines, Issue 113

The public relations disasters of biased politicians, mercenary journalism, dispassionate bureaucrats and the military style law enforcement are all evidence of the state of emergency concerning marijuana and personal liberties.

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.


Cannabis medicine man ‘not your standard criminal’ [EchoNet]

Medicinal cannabis advocate Tony Bower is a free man after being placed on parole for 12 months and described in court as not ‘your standard criminal’. Mr Bower, whose company Mullaways Medical Cannabis supplies tincture to more than 150 people, many of them children, appeared in Port Macquarie District Court yesterday after an alleged breach of bond conditions.

The next court appearance is on Thursday 28th August. Click here for the details on facebook.

Overwhelming majority support legalisation of medicinal cannabis in PerthNow poll[PerthNow]

It seems nearly everyone supports medicinal cannabis and believes it should be legal in WA. At least, that’s the verdict from a PerthNow poll on the issue. Debate was reignited when Opposition Leader Mark McGowan revealed in a column for The Sunday Times and PerthNow at the weekend that a dying young man he met in a Rockingham nursing home changed his mind on medicinal cannabis. Mr McGowan announced WA Labor’s plan to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes at the party’s state conference last month. Yesterday, PerthNow asked its readers what they thought about the issue – and the result was overwhelmingly one-sided. Of more than 2700 votes cast, almost 97 per cent of people backed the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in WA. Just 2.7 per cent opposed such a move, while less than one per cent of people were unsure.

Norfolk Island medicinal cannabis trial approval overturned by Commonwealth [ABC]

The approval of a trial of medicinal cannabis that had been granted by Norfolk Island’s government has been overturned by the Commonwealth. The island’s administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave, vetoed the decision made by Norfolk Island’s authorities. Earlier this month Norfolk Island gave Tasman Health Cannabinoids (THC) approval to grow medical cannabis. The trial was originally proposed for Tasmania but the state Liberal Government rejected the bid citing concerns over safety and security, as well as potential damage to the state’s lucrative poppy industry.

September hearings into medicinal cannabis use [The Advocate Tasmania]

Hearings for Tasmania’s inquiry into medicinal cannabis use are planned for September. Inquiry chairwoman and independent MLC for Murchison Ruth Forrest said at least two days of hearings were planned. They would begin in Hobart and may be held elsewhere in Tasmania as well. Ms Forrest said some submissions the committee received provided clarity regarding the barriers to medicinal cannabis use. There was significant support from the public for the state government reviewing its position on commercial growing and administration of cannabis for medicinal use, she said. The committee planned to hold the hearings on September 18 and 19, however these dates were not confirmed. The state government refused a medicinal cannabis trial last month. Health Minister Michael Ferguson said he rejected a proposal for a trial of growing cannabis for medicinal purposes from Tasman Health Cannabinoids because he had “serious concerns about its health, safety and security aspects”.

It’s time politicians had a rethink on waging the ‘unwinnable war’ on recreational drugs [The Australian]

In a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”. “The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.” This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the tip of the drug iceberg”. Federal and state police chiefs confirmed that every type of illicit drug is readily available in Australia. Indeed, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton admitted: “We’re never going to police our way out of the drug problem. In fact … we’re in the  supply suppression business in policing.”

Petition: Re-Legalise Industrial and Medicinal Cannabis in Australia [Change.org]

We, the petitioners, believe it is the nations best interest to immediately amend Australian Federal Policy on Cannabis. This petition demands that you re-legalise Cannabis for industrial and medicinal use. If not for compassionate reasons, please have the common sense to legalise this future global cash crop now and reap the benefits well into the future.

Middle of Nimbin like a ‘big black hole’ after fire guts Rainbow Cafe and Bring-a-Bong [Daily Telegraph]

The hippy heart of Nimbin burnt to the ground in the early hours of this morning, destroying the town’s key tourism attractions and creating a “bloody mess”. “The place went up in smoke, the joint is on fire, there are plenty of puns you can make up, it is Nimbin,” Alan Salt said of the fire that destroyed the iconic Rainbow Café and Nimbin Museum. The fire, which is being treated as suspicious, destroyed several historic buildings built in 1926. “Probably just someone stupid trying to keep warm, but it’s taken out the hippy icons,” Mr Salt said.

Peace and love still blossom among the ashes of Nimbin [Guardian]

The museum was crammed full of memorabilia related to what Balderstone calls “a big experiment in different values”. 

Former Tweed Heads detective, jailed for lying to Police Integrity Commission about drug use [ABC]

A former New South Wales police officer has been sentenced to six months in jail for lying to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) about using drugs. Former Tweed Heads detective inspector Shane Diehm, 49, was among former and serving officers recorded consuming what appeared to be hash cookies and ecstasy during a party weekend on the Gold Coast in 2010. Diehm began crying as he was sentenced to a maximum one year in prison for lying about the event, with Magistrate Ellen Skinner saying politicians and police needed to fear being dishonest to watchdogs. In Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney, Ms Skinner said the sentence gave her “no pleasure”. However, she said it was necessary to “scare” politicians and police officers into understanding there were consequences for lying to watchdogs such as the PIC and Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). 

Lawyer claims rights ignored after sniffer dogs target high school students for drugs on NSW north coast [ABC]

A lawyer on the New South Wales north coast has questioned the wisdom of using police sniffer dogs outside schools. The ABC has received complaints about the use of the drug dogs outside the Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah high schools in recent weeks. Criminal lawyer Vince Boss said police need to rethink their strategy. “For any search to be conducted on a person, they (police) need to have reasonable cause,” he said. “There’s most definitely issues there pertaining to whether or not the search was actually a legal search to begin with. “But secondly, I think the issue is the kids need to be advised that they do have their right to silence in relation to these matters, they do have the right to have a parent or a responsible person there with them when they’re being interviewed.

Medical Marijuana Research Hits Wall of U.S. Law [NY Times]

Moving the drug to a less restrictive category could do more than reduce some obstacles to research, proponents say. It would be a significant step toward allowing doctors around the country to prescribe the drug. Federal lawmakers say it could also permit medical marijuana operations that are legal at the state level to take business deductions on their federal taxes.

Renter finds federal aid, marijuana don’t mix [Durango Herald]

Smoking cannabis? Not a good idea while living in federally subsidized housing, even if the drug has been prescribed by a doctor. Some residents are finding out the hard way that there is a glaring discrepancy between Colorado’s liberal marijuana laws and the federal government’s outright ban on the substance. Lea Olivier, an 87-year-old low-income resident living in Dolores, is the latest casualty. She has lived there for five years but says she has been ordered to vacate her rent-subsidized apartment on Central Avenue for allegedly violating the illegal-substances policy. “A compliance officer said they smelled pot coming from my residence,” she says. “I don’t think it was even me. I’ve used it before to ease arthritis pain.” Olivier, who lives alone, is now faced with finding alternative housing but is concerned she cannot afford it on her fixed Social Security income. “I’ll live in a tent or my car if I have to,” she said. “I’ve got 10 days to move, but when I get knocked down, I get back up.”

Why marijuana won’t become another Big Tobacco [Washington Post]

On the other hand, there’s no doubt that the marijuana industry is becoming more sophisticated. There is a trade organization, the National Cannabis Industry Association, that promotes “the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry.” There are at least two full-time pro-marijuana lobbyists working on Capitol Hill. It seems inevitable that marijuana will continue to get bigger, but a comparison point with Big Tobacco doesn’t work. For starters, marijuana is simply less harmful than tobacco. Marijuana’s addictive potential is less than a third of tobacco’s. THC, the active compound in marijuana, is considerably less toxic than nicotine, which until this year was used as an industrial insecticide in the U.S.

Cannabis and Canada: Why has drug policy changed? [BBC]

Canadian Marc Emery’s arrest in 2005 was hailed by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a significant blow to the legalisation movement. Now, after a five-year stint in a US jail, Canada’s “Prince of Pot” returns to a completely different cannabis landscape. In 2005 Mr Emery was arrested and in 2010 he was extradited to the US for selling nearly $3m (£1.8m) worth of marijuana plant seeds from his cannabis store to US buyers. Most of that money, Mr Emery says – nearly $2.1m of it – was donated to legalisation efforts in the US. That was why, at the time of his arrest, the DEA crowed that jailing him would halt efforts to legalise marijuana in the US and Canada. “Drug legalisation lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on,” the DEA said at the time.

Chinese celebrities caught in net of drugs crackdown [Guardian]

Chinese authorities have intensified one of the country’s biggest crackdowns on drugs in recent memory, detaining celebrities, conducting random drugs tests at bars, and putting pressure on institutions to ensure that they will not hire people with histories of drug use.

Pizza Chain Developing Marijuana Pizza, Cannabis-Infused Pizza Sauce [Restaurant News]

With states enacting new laws regarding intoxicating substances, it’s no wonder that some companies are rushing to expand their adults-only dining options. Unique Pizza and Subs recently announced that it’s considering the development of a new pizza product with cannabis infused into it. With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and medical use approved in nearly two dozen other states, the company decided to make a unique product that appeals to a new crowd. If the company does design and release a set of Unique Pizzas containing cannabis components, they will sell through night clubs and bars that already check identification to verify the age of buyers.

Argentina President Endorses Plan to Legalize Drug Possession, Cannabis Cultivation [Joint Blog]

The Argentina federal government, with support from President Cristina Kirchner, has begun work on two proposals aimed at legalizing the personal possession of all drugs, and to legalize the private cultivation of cannabis. The plan is to have the proposals finished, and in front of Congress, by the year’s end, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion. The proposals are aimed at preventing the disastrous consequences placed upon individuals who are simply possessing a small amount of illegal drugs or cultivating a few cannabis plants, and to put a damper on the black market, which often times enriches criminal syndicates. Under current Argentina law, cannabis possession, when not for distribution and when not cultivated by the individual in possession, is decriminalized and will rarely lead to an arrest. The cultivation of cannabis, and the possession of other drugs, however, can result in harsh criminal penalties, including jail time.

Cannabis and the evolution of human consciousness [Sensi Seeds]

Similarly to mushrooms, cannabis had several benefits to offer the early communities that first encountered it, which may even have been as early as 27,000 BP. Not only did it provide fibre and seed, it also quickly demonstrated its usefulness in the early pharmacopoeia, and it is very likely that its psychoactive effects were utilised in religious practice from very early on (although the first direct evidence of cannabis as a pharmacological agent is thought to date from 2,700 BP). Social use of cannabis has been shown to strengthen interpersonal relationships, increasing feelings of cohesion and trust.

Victorian poppy growers have planted their first mainland crop in time for February harvest[ABC]

Victorian farmers have legally started growing poppies, as licences have just been approved. Australia’s third largest poppy producer, TPI Enterprises, has secured the first commercial licence to distribute poppy seeds to farmers. The head of TPI, Jarrod Ritchie, says around 50 farmers across the state can now begin planting, ending Tasmania’s poppy monopoly. “We’ve started sowing on one of our larger paddocks, which is around 90 hectares, up in the Boort region (north-west Victoria), so that’s underway, if not completed, as we speak.” TPI is the first of Australia’s existing poppy companies to have crops commissioned in Victoria. Mr Ritchie expects growers will harvest between 800 and 1,000 hectares in February next year, stepping up to 4,000 hectares next season. “Look, at a farm gate value, assuming 10,000 hectares as an industry, we’re talking potentially around the $40-50 million growing alone. “This gives us the confidence to take more orders to continue investing in infrastructure, new jobs to continue to meet the growing demand.”  The company finished lengthy negotiations with the Department of Environment and Primary Industry to secure poppy supply out of Victoria.

Aussie researchers push ahead on MDMA study as UK starts LSD experiments [9 News]

As UK researchers begin human therapeutic experiments using the psychedelic drug LSD an Australian group are setting up the nation’s first clinical study using MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Steve McDonald, from Australian organisation, Psychedelic Research in Science and Medicine (PRISM), told ninemsn that getting such a study up in Australia had been very difficult, even though it is legal. “We’re finding that the medical profession in Australia is very conservative, and people are reluctant to get involved in anything concerning an illicit drug, even though it’s legal research. People are very concerned about public image,” he said. Mr McDonald has a personal stake in this area of research. The former army officer suffered PTSD after returning from combat, and was treated unsuccessfully using conventional methods before trying treatment with MDMA.

New Fringe play offers insights on illegal ‘eBay for drugs’ [Conversation]

Alex Oates’ debut Fringe play traces the journey of 19-year-old Geordie lad Bruce, as he begins dealing cocaine via the illicit online marketplace Silk Road. Under the guise of a coming of age drama, the play – also entitled Silk Road – sets out to explore some of the issues surrounding the online trade in illegal drugs. As well as having the novelty of being the first play funded by Bitcoin, experts confirm that Oates’ depiction of Silk Road is substantially accurate.

HEMP Victoria [facebook]

Follow the HEMP Victoria facebook page for news on the party registration procedure for state elections. Join the HEMP Party online, it’s free and HEMP needs your support to help end marijuana prohibition.

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