Embassy Headlines, Issue 114

The Cannabis Spring is transforming the political landscape in Australia.

Support for ‘medical marijuana’ is at an all time high. ‘Further research’ is not required for the effectiveness of prohibition.

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.


Medicinal cannabis advocate jailed but released on appeal [EchoNet Daily]

North coast medical-cannabis producer and campaigner Tony Bower was sentenced to 12 months jail today for a  charge of cultivating cannabis. Mr Bower appeared in Port Macquarie Local Court before magistrate Thomas Hodgson, who set a nine month non-parole period to the full-time custodial sentence. Mr Bower’s lawyers immediately lodged an appeal against the severity of the sentence, and he was released on bail after 30 minutes in custody. Solicitor Jamie Whitehead said the appeal would be heard in the Port Macquarie District Court on 7 October. The appearance in Port Macquarie Local Court comes as other states and territories explore ways to make medicinal cannabis available to people suffering life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

Children ‘at risk’ after medical cannabis dealer jailed [Bendigo Advertiser]

More than 150 families say they will be left without medicine to save their children’s lives after a medicinal cannabis dealer was jailed for 12 months. Tony Bower – who supplies cannabis oil to Mia Mia girl Tara O’Connell and dozens of other sick children – faced drugs misuse and trafficking charges in a New South Wales court today. Mr Bower runs Mullaways Medical Cannabis and when caught, had 67 cannabis plants growing on his property. He was jailed for a year and was released on bail until an appeal hearing on October 7. Cheri O’Connell, whose daughter Tara has a severe form of epilepsy and relies on medical cannabis to survive, said she and so many others were distressed by the decision.  “This substance is the difference between our kids living or dying,” she said.  Ms O’Connell fears her family will now be forced to break the law and make cannabis themselves. “We only have enough supply for a few months and we have no knowledge of what to do after that. It’s either move overseas or make it ourselves,” she said. 

Old dope, new tricks: the new science of medical cannabis [The Conversation]

Medicinal cannabis is back in the news again after a planned trial to grow it in Norfolk Island was blocked by the federal government last week. The media is ablaze with political rumblings and tales of public woe, but what does science have to say on the subject? Well, an article just published in the prestigious journal JAMA Internal Medicine provocatively suggests that US states with medical cannabis laws have dramatically reduced opioid mortality rates. So the science is clearly every bit as alive and kicking as the political bluster, but rests on firmer, less emotive grounds. This is what we know: somewhere in that much-incinerated plant lies valuable medicine – perhaps a treatment for cancer or an antidote to obesity. In fact, cannabis science is one of the fastest moving frontiers in pharmacology and has accelerated by the realisation that we’re all already marinated in cannabis-like molecules (endocannabinoids) and their receptors. Endocannabinoids help regulate many physiological processes: mood, memory, appetite, pain, immune function, metabolism and bone growth to name a few (there are even cannabinoid receptors in sperm). Consuming cannabis modulates this endocannabinoid system in many ways. And the effects can be benevolent, although sometimes problematic.

Queensland MP moves to put medical marijuana on the PBS [Noosa News]

Queensland MP Warren Entsch has joined the push to legalise medical marijuana in Australia in the hopes it will bring some relief for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Mr Entsch is one of a multi-party group of federal MPs who are working on a bill that, if passed, will allow cannabis oil to be used in the treatment of illnesses including cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy on a trial basis. He told ABC radio that if the trials were successful, there would be a bill calling for the legalisation of medical marijuana and for it be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This federal initiative is matched at state level with the New South Wales government looking likely to pass a bill making medical marijuana legal in that state next month while in Victoria, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said cannabis would be available for medical treatment if Labor gained office in November. Overseas medical trials have shown marijuana to be helpful in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy. Its use has already been legalised in 23 US states and a number of European countries including the UK and Germany. Norfolk Island was set to become the first Australian Territory to trail medical marijuana after giving the nod to a Tasmanian company earlier this month to grow the crop on the island for that purpose. But last week the Federal government overturned that decision and revoked the licence to grow the cannabis.

NT Health Minister Robyn Lambley backs medical marijuana, CLP to consider [7 News]

NT Health Minister Robyn Lambley says she supports legalising marijuana used for medical reasons and indicates the Country Liberals will consider the issue. Ms Lambley told 105.7 ABC Darwin evidence shows marijuana can assist in pain management and prevent seizures. She said she is personally in favour of legalising medical marijuana but cabinet is yet to make a decision. “I’m very much in favour of considering the use of medical marijuana in the Northern Territory and that would mean it will be highly regulated,” Ms Lambley said. “Obviously we are not in favour of recreational use and we need to be very clear and differentiate between the two.” An Alderman on the Palmerston City Council also said she would back the Government if it legalised marijuana for medical use. Seranna Shutt’s twin sister Tara died of a seizure and she said medical use of the drug could have saved her sister’s life. “Not only for her cerebral palsy, she may have not been reliant on all of the heavy drugs to minimise the seizures, she would have had a better quality of life, not only just for herself but also for her family and all of her care workers as well,” she said.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill ready to look at medical marijuana [The Australian]

Momentum to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes is growing, with South Australia joining Victoria and NSW in seriously considering legislative change. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill last night told The Australian the government was open to the idea for seriously ill people.

‘Community in clear support’: Victorian Labor plans to legalise medical cannabis [SBS]

Labor says its plan to legalise medicinal marijuana in Victoria has received widespread support. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says his social media pages have been inundated by those who agree with the proposal to allow access to the drug for those with terminal or life-threatening conditions. “It’s just been overwhelming the amount of Facebook posts, the amount of tweets, emails, phone calls, text messages from people right across the community in clear support of legalising medical cannabis,” he told reporters on Monday. Mr Andrews said on Sunday if Labor won the November 29 election, he would ask the Law Reform Commission to look into how medicinal marijuana could be legalised, and flagged that legislation could be passed by the end of 2015.

Medical marijuana: doctors support Victorian Labor leader on legalisation [The Guardian]

The peak body representing Victorian doctors has backed state opposition leader Daniel Andrews in calling for cannabis to be examined for medical use, but stressed the drug must undergo Australian clinical trials first. Andrews announced on Sunday morning that if elected in November Labor would seek advice from the Victorian Law Reform Commission on the prescription, manufacture and distribution of medical cannabis. Andrews ruled out legalising recreational use of the drug but said it could be used to treat Victorians with life-threatening and chronic conditions. “In some cases parents are forced to choose between breaking the law and watching their child suffer,” Andrews said.

Alderman Justine Keay wants city to back cannabis trial [The Advocate Tasmania]

Alderman Justine Keay, an unsuccessful Labor candidate at the last state election, will move a motion tonight at a Devonport City Council meeting, calling for the council to urge the government to allow a trial of the production, processing and administration of medicinal cannabis for Tasmanians. Alderman Keay said she had been assisting cancer sufferer Natalie Daley with petitioning the government to allow a trial. “I wrote the petition which was tabled in State Parliament this week by Labor Leader Bryan Green and contained over 5000 signatures,” Alderman Keay said. “I have spent time with Natalie and understand how beneficial medicinal cannabis has been for her. She has told me of heartbreaking stories of others that have contacted her in their plight to find something to help their pain and suffering, which traditional medication has not achieved.

Country Women’s Association continues to lobby for legal marijuana for the terminally ill[ABC Rural]

Eleven years after the Country Women’s Association (CWA) in Tasmania voted to legalise marijuana for medical use, the matter has been raised again at the group’s state conference. Members first voted for medicinal cannabis at their 2003 state conference and they are still calling on the government to legalise the drug for pain relief. National president of the CWA, Noela Macleod, addressed about 80 Tasmanian members at their annual conference. Mrs Macleod said she is lobbying at the federal level to legalise marijuana for medical use. “We’re trying to get legalisation of marijuana for people with terminal illnesses,” she said. “We are one of the very few countries in the world that does not allow it. And I believe people should be allowed to have something that will alleviate their suffering in their last days.”

Marijuana compound could be used to treat psychosis in young people [The Age]

A compound found in marijuana could soon be tested on young Australians to prevent and treat psychosis after European research suggested it could treat schizophrenia with fewer side effects than other drugs. As state and federal governments face increasing calls for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, leading psychiatrist and mental health advocate Patrick McGorry said one part of the drug was showing promise as an anti-psychotic medicine. The director of Orygen Youth Health Research Centre said while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis was widely thought to be dangerous and increase the risk of psychosis in about 10 per cent to 20 per cent of people, another component – cannabidiol (CBD) – appeared to relieve psychosis, depression and anxiety. 

Cannabis can help the pain but not any time soon [Sydney Morning Herald]

Pharmaceutical cannabis works for pain and nausea, but it may take ‘‘a significant length of time’’ to be sold for those purposes in Australia, if it is sold at all, Australia’s peak drug advisory body says. An Australian National Council on Drugs report on medicinal cannabis publishedon Monday said research suggested a number of cannabis pharmaceuticals could treat pain, as well as treating spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and weight loss in people with HIV, advanced cancer and anorexia. The analysis comes amid growing calls for medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Australia.

Petition: Stop blocking access to medicinal cannabis [Change.org]

While thousands of Australians, and every published poll shows that most people support the decriminalisation of medicinal cannabis – the Australian government has just blocked the people of Norfolk Island from growing it for medical use. 

It’s shocking news for people like the Haslam’s – who’ve been fighting for legal change so they can get on with helping their terminally ill son Dan cope with cancer. The Hon Gary Hardgrave, the new Administrator of Norfolk Island, has just cancelled a license issued to Tasman Health Cannabinoids (NI) Pty Ltd (‘Tascann’) by Norfolk Island’s Minister for Cultural Heritage and Community Services, The Hon Robin Adams MLA, to import, export, grow and produce Cannabis for medical treatments. 

It’s shocking, unfair, and just wrong – and it means that for thousands of families, the challenge of trying to cope with serious terminal illnesses gets even harder. Currently 23 States in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Uruguay and Spain allow the use of medical Cannabis. It’s time Australia joined them. In May 2013, a New South Wales parliamentary committee comprising members of five political parties unanimously recommended making medicinal cannabis available for selected conditions. 

Hemp, the best thing since … [The Border Mail]

Hemp grains could be the key to a healthier bread says a Benalla baker who wants to see the law changed to allow its consumption as a human food. Managing director at Alpine Breads Andrew Bertalli said his business was dedicated to supplying customers with the healthiest range of sour dough breads and he believed using hemp seeds would provide health benefits. “Hemp is high in protein and fibre, can aid weight loss and by using the whole grain, it is low GI which makes you feel fuller for longer. “It is a brilliant grain; it’s got omega 3, 6 and 9 for what the human body needs and with depleting fish stocks it makes sense to be able to use hemp grains in breads.”

Company considers legal challenge against Commonwealth over cannabis crop [ABC AM]

Around the world marijuana is increasingly used to treat a range of medical conditions. Many jurisdictions have moved to legalise the drug but in Australia it remains illegal. And now plans to grow Australia’s first medical marijuana crop on Norfolk Island have been blocked by the Commonwealth after it cancelled the grower’s license granted by the local administration.

The Inside Story On What Could Be The Biggest Ever Shift In UK Drugs Policy [Clear]

Home Office minister Norman Baker called last week for medicinal cannabis to be legalised. This is the inside story of a campaign that began in 1999, started to gain real traction in 2011 and may finally come to fruition in 2014.

Leading Anti-Marijuana Academics Are Paid by Painkiller Drug Companies [Vice]

VICE has found that many of the researchers who have advocated against legalizing pot have also been on the payroll of leading pharmaceutical firms with products that could be easily replaced by using marijuana. When these individuals have been quoted in the media, their drug-industry ties have not been revealed. Take, for example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University. Kleber has impeccable academic credentials, and has been quoted in the press and in academic publications warning against the use of marijuana, which he stresses may cause wide-ranging addiction and public health issues. But when he’s writing anti-pot opinion pieces for CBS News, or being quoted by NPR and CNBC, what’s left unsaid is that Kleber has served as a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).

Ending Marijuana Prohibition Must Take a Historical Perspective [Huffington Post]

When the New York Times called for the federal government to repeal its prohibition of marijuana and let the states decide its fate — for medicinal or recreational use, production, and sale — it did not rely solely on issues of the here and now, such as economics, science, public safety, and current levels of racial disparities in arrests and incarceration rates (all of which are important considerations). Instead, through the publication of seven pieces, the editorial board provided a more comprehensive argument in support of their stance, connecting today’s legalization movement to the past’s criminalization crusade. For the New York Times, history matters — as it should for the legalization campaign nationwide. Underlying marijuana prohibition is a familiar philosophy: to preserve social order and white supremacy and secure profits for an influential few, it is permissible, even advisable, to construct profit-bearing institutions of social control. Historically, this philosophy has been advanced by governmental action, guided by special interests. The traditional tactics: manufacturing mass fear, criminalizing the target or demoting them to a sub-citizen status, and profiting from their subjugation. Cannabis prohibition did all three.

Colorado’s Pot Brownies Now Come With Instructions [The Salt]

When Colorado recreational marijuana use earlier this year, it also opened the door for food products infused with the psychoactive ingredient, THC, to anyone over the age of 21. That means bakers and food companies now have to ensure new products aren’t contaminated with foodborne pathogens. And they have to make sure they’re not falling into the hands of children or are too potent to eat. While public policy think tanks like the Brookings Institution have state regulators and legislators for their handling of legal marijuana so far, problems with potency in edible products have made headlines and turned into public relations headaches for the marijuana industry. Some eager, inexperienced consumers have overindulged on the pot-infused food and then shown up in emergency rooms sweating and paranoid. Edibles were the death of a Wyoming college student in Denver. “There’s been anecdotal evidence that some of the new consumers in the legalized market were not very well informed in terms of how to safely take that product,” said , Colorado’s marijuana enforcement director. But that’s not for lack of information on labels. State law requires specific information on all marijuana packages. In addition, Colorado has been rolling out rules for the edible-marijuana sector in batches for almost a year now.

There Is Only One Real Way to Prevent Future Fergusons: End the War on Drugs [The New Republic]

So, what will really make a difference? Really, only a continued pullback on the War on Drugs. Much of what creates the poisonous, vicious-cycle relationship between young black men and the police is that the War on Drugs brings cops into black neighborhoods to patrol for drug possession and sale. Without that policy—which would include that no one could make a living selling drugs—the entire structure supporting the notion of young black men as criminals would fall apart. White men with guns would encounter young black men much less often, and meanwhile society would offer young black men less opportunity to drift into embodying the stereotype in the first place.

Emmys 2014: Sarah Silverman’s pot-filled e-cigarette brings marijuana into the 21st century[Daily News]

The world now has the munchies for Sarah Silverman. One day after the comic showed off her pot-filled e-cigarette on the Emmys red carpet, the future of marijuana moved from the back of a VW microbus to the cutting edge of technology. It all started in an apparently unscripted moment with E! hostess Giuliana Rancic when Silverman — in a pot colored dress, no less — revealed more than her ample cleavage. “This is my pot,” she said. “Liquid pot.” With that the internet exploded. “Live your life girl!” tweeted actress Anna Kendrick to her nearly three million followers. It’s no surprise that Hollywood partakes of the wacky weed — after all, celebs from Cheech and Chong to Snoop Dogg to the makers of “Weeds” have been high on pot for decades — but Silverman’s choice of delivery system got everyone buzzed.

Henry Rollins Explores History of Marijuana Prohibition [Smell the Truth]

Punk rocker turned actor Henry Rollins sheds light on the racist origins of marijuana prohibition in the new season of 10 Things You Don’t Know About. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rollins discusses the interesting facts he’s learned as host of the H2 Network TV show that has him searching for uncommonly known historical facts and details about subjects such as marijuana prohibition, the Hoover Dam and the Civil Rights Movement. “If marijuana is legal, then your kids will be imbibing in what those ‘jazz jigaboos’ used to get up to,” says Rollins, summing up the attitude behind Harry J. Anslinger’s 1930′s anti-marijuana campaign as the first commissioner of narcotics in America. Rollins has no interest in smoking weed himself, but finds the history of marijuana and industrial hemp fascinating. While visiting destinations such as Denver’s Cannabis Cup, the host learns that hemp production used to be so common that it could be found in a Sears catalog. The host even visits America’s only government-funded grow house in Ole Miss, Mississippi.

Marijuana Use Lowers Risk Of Domestic Violence In Married Couples, Study Finds[Huffington Post]

Past research has indicated that couples who abuse substances are at a greater risk for divorce, in part because substance abuse often leads to an increase in domestic violence. However, new research has found that when it comes to marijuana use, the opposite effect occurs: couples who frequently use marijuana are actually at a lower risk of partner violence. Researchers from Yale University, University of Buffalo and Rutgers recruited 634 couples from 1996 to 1999 while they were applying for a marriage license in New York State. After an initial interview, the researchers followed the couples over the course of nine years using mail-in surveys to measure the effects of marijuana use on intimate partner violence (IPV). The study defines IPV as acts of physical aggression, such as slapping, hitting, beating and choking, and it was measured by asking couples to report violence committed by them or toward them in the last year. At the end of the first year, 37.1 percent of husbands had committed acts of domestic violence. Marijuana use was measured by asking participants how often they used marijuana or hashish (defined as pot, weed, reefer, hash, hash oil or grass) in the last year. Participants were also asked about other drug use including alcohol, because, as the researchers explain the study, marijuana and alcohol are often used in conjunction. What the researchers found surprised them: due to the fact that alcohol and other substances are known to increase domestic violence, they hypothesized that marijuana use would have the same effect. But that was not the case.

Medical marijuana laws reduce prescription painkiller deaths [CBS News]

States that have legalized the use of medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions have a 25 percent lower rate of deaths from opioid drug overdose than states where medical marijuana is illegal, according to a new study. These findings suggest laws that make cannabis available to manage chronic pain and other illnesses may be useful in the U.S. health care system’s uphill battle to reduce prescription painkiller abuse. The researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center found rates of death from prescription painkiller overdoses climbed steadily from 1999 to 2010. But in states where medical marijuana use is legal, the rates of overdose were, on average, 25 percent lower. The study looked at data on death certificates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Marcus Bachhuber of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania, in a news release. 

Israel is Allowing Soldiers to Use Medical Cannabis While In Service [Ladybud]

According to an Israeli cannabis Blog, it appears that the Israel Defense Force has made an official statement regarding the certified use of medical cannabis by Israeli citizens during their active military duty. Specifically, the site is claiming that the IDF has publicly announced that being prescribed cannabis and continuing to use cannabis while actively part of the IDF is not in itself grounds for medical ineligibility for the mandated service. That means that Israeli soldiers can reportedly now use cannabis while they are soldiers, even on active duty and while living on base. They are simply  expected to adhere to the regulations for medical cannabis users, use the cannabis in private, and not share with others. However, it was underscored that only those with existing permissions acknowledged by the IDF are permitted to use cannabis and that many medical cannabis users are not medically fit for IDF service due to the severity of their qualifying condition.

A Marijuana Strain for Each Sign of the Zodiac [High Times]

Your zodiac sign can determine many facets of your personality and lifestyle, and so can the type of weed you smoke, believe it or not. That’s why HIGH TIMES has broken down the signs and fitted each one with a perfect strain match, allowing people born under each sign to tap deeply into their utmost pothead potential. We’ve only used the official 12 signs, so anyone who goes by the “new zodiac” that counts Ophiuchus as a sign will probably have some venom to spew in the comments! Read on and see which strain is ideal for you to be smoking, and, as always, HAPPY HIGHS to ALL!

Wave Share