Embassy Headlines, Issue 119

There is no clear distinction in the use of medical or recreational marijuana, they are both therapeutic.

Relieving stress is part of a healthy lifestyle. Amazingly, endocannabinoids regulate all body systems including cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immunological, nervous, musculo-skeletal, respiratory, reproductive and tegumentary where they often exert health-promoting properties.

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.


Medical cannabis closer to federal approval [Sydney Morning Herald]

The federal government would be given oversight over the production and distribution of medical cannabis under new legislation to make the make the drug available to patients with chronic pain. The push to legalise medical cannabis is gathering pace, with Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, chairman of the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, now finalising a bill that is set to be introduced into Parliament next month. Supporters of legalised medical cannabis have been buoyed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s strong public support for the legalisation of the drug for medical use. “I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” Mr Abbott wrote in a letter to 2GB radio host Alan Jones, dated August 23. “If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose … and is being administered safely there should be no question of its legality.” Jones, who has been campaigning in support of medical cannabis, read Mr Abbott’s letter on air earlier this month. Senator Di Natale, a former GP, is also pushing for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to create a special category for the drug so that it can be available with a doctor’s prescription. The TGA currently lists cannabis as a prohibited substance.

Medical marijuana: Doctors say national approach is needed for law reform [News]

A senior doctor says dying people should not have to resort to “buying cannabis from a drug dealer down an alleyway” in Australia. New South Wales recently moved closer to legalising medicinal cannabis. The state government says it will allow terminally ill patients to use the drug, free and taxpayer-funded, from chemists and hospitals. There will also be clinical trials. Other states, with the notable exceptions of South Australia and Tasmania, are also debating the issue, though none have gone quite so far. The Western Australian president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Michael Gannon, has told news.com.au a “national approach” to medicinal cannabis is needed. Dr Gannon said there were conflicting political arguments — across the country and within political parties — so “the Commonwealth Government needs to take ownership of it”. He said the last thing he and other doctors wanted to see was people who were suffering being forced to buy cannabis from dealers “down an alleyway” when it has been proven that, for some conditions, the drug can be an effective treatment for pain or nausea. The situation could be complicated further if some parts of Australia were to allow medical use of cannabis while others did not, “because drugs cross state borders”.

Put medicinal cannabis to the test [Australian Medical Association]

The AMA has called for a co-ordinated national approach to the medicinal use of cannabis as New South Wales begins preparations for clinical trials. AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler said that although more clinical trials of the drug were welcome, the move toward legalising its medicinal use should be conducted as a national strategy rather than being undertaken on an ad hoc State-by-State basis. “I think we need a much more consistent approach across the country and some coordination … about regulating marijuana or cannabis as a medicine rather than as a drug,” A/Professor Olwer told ABC News Radio.

Claims cannabis could help win cancer battle [Newscastle Herald]

Cannabis is being used to fight cancer by an underground network of Hunter people who believe the plant has unheralded medical powers beyond fighting pain and nausea. Although the state government recently opened the door to the medical use of cannabis for pain and nausea, many in the pro-cannabis lobby say this is a minor first step and that the active chemicals in cannabis can actually kill cancer cells. While the Newcastle Herald has had difficulty obtaining any relevant commentary from government agencies, cannabis advocates have provided online links to literally hundreds of scientific studies examining the medical uses of cannabis, including an apparent ability of chemicals known as ‘‘cannabinoids’’ to retard or kill cancerous cells. One health researcher who advised the Herald cautioned against reading too much into the research, saying most of the studies were done in laboratories in cells or on animals such as mice.

Parents of toddler Cooper, treated with medicinal cannabis, told police would be called if drug used again[Herald Sun]

The Melbourne couple that controversially gave their sick toddler cannabis oil now fear for their son’s life after hospital doctors last night threatened to call the police if the drug was administered. Cassie Batten and Rhett Wallace discharged their son Cooper from The Northern Hospital in Epping before the cannabis could be confiscated. They now feel they have nowhere to turn because doctors refuse to use the drug on hospital grounds. It is the first time the family has been prepared to reveal the name of the hospital that has been supporting the use of the cannabis oil and tincture for the treatment of the three-year-old’s life-threatening seizures.

Meet the people at each end of an illegal medical marijuana supply chain [ABC 7.30 Report]

See an illegal medical marijuana supply chain at a time when Australian States consider legal trials and debate continues over whether it would be a wonder medicine or bring exposure to mental illness, cancer and even suicide.

Cannabis conference (Prime7)

Tamworth is set to play host to a global convention on medicinal cannabis – spearheaded by the local Haslam family.  Experts including Doctor William Courtney will address the conference which expects to attract thousands of people.

Barnett could support medicinal marijuana [7News]

The West Australian premier has indicated he could support medicinal marijuana being given to patients in palliative care but maintains it is a very damaging drug. Colin Barnett said he did not support the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, but administering the drug in tablet form would reduce its harmful effects. “I believe that if you have a person in palliative care, some of the components of that drug can be administered probably by tablet and in a way that doesn’t have the other harmful effects of cannabis,” Mr Barnett told News Limited on Thursday.

SBS raises marijuana debate with plants getting gassed or grown in Sydney and Melbourne [mUmbrella]

SBS is promoting its upcoming debate on its Insight show on whether medicinal marijuana should be legalised with a portable display allowing people to grow or gas synthetic marijuana plants. The debate is set to be screened on October 7, with the  broadcaster promoting it with the portable stand, which is currently in henry dean Plaza near Central Station, and moves onto Melbourne’s Federation Square later this week. It has been created by SBS’s creative agency Naked Communications, and allows people to either fertilise the fake plants, or spray them with pesticide, by voting yes or no to the question ‘Should marijuana be legal?’, with the plants growing or dying depending on the results over the week. People can vote by text, Twitter or the SBS website.

Insight: Is medicinal marijuana doing good or harm? 8.30pm Tuesday 7 October [SBS ONE]

It has been called a miracle, lifesaving medicine. But is it as safe as it’s cracked up to be? Politicians from across the aisle in Canberra and in the states are moving to trial medical marijuana. But many aren’t waiting for clinical tests. A growing movement of parents are using it to control kids’ epilepsy and adults are using it to manage chronic pain. This week, Insight cracks the lid on where medical cannabis comes from, what’s in it, and what it’s doing to patients. Host Jenny Brockie speaks to the suppliers – who come from areas as far afield as Nimbin and suburban Sydney – about the ‘science’ behind their ‘miracle drugs’, and the legal risks they face by providing it. Parents and patients speak about their success in using marijuana for a range of illnesses, and their desperation to have it legalised. But Brockie also hears from medical experts who believe there’s no proven medical benefit to using marijuana, and that those using it are at risk of mental health issues. As the prospect of legalisation and clinical trials looms in several states, Insight also asks whether legal marijuana will lead to an increase of recreational use – and just what will happen to the black market.

Video: Queensland detective stuffs drug money down his pants [Courier Mail]

The emergence of video of a top detective stealing cash from a drug dealer’s purse has renewed debate within police ranks about the handling of the scandal. Shane Allan Stirling quietly resigned after escaping jail time for theft caught on CCTV installed by a Woodridge grandmother, who was herself secretly filmed selling cannabis by a TV crew. While stings on the “drug granny” have twice featured on A Current Affair, footage of the disgraced detective during a 2012 raid was only recently posted on the internet. The Sunday Mail has obtained a full version of the video, which shows Stirling stuffing drug money down his trousers. Some officers questioned a Queensland police decision to allow Stirling to resign when it had formally dismissed others for similar and less serious ­offences. Alarming accounts have also emerged of Stirling’s state of mind during his time as a senior investigator, including suicidal and homicidal thoughts amid severe depression dating back to 2005. The Sunday Mail can also reveal a chequered history that includes being sacked once for an alleged drunken bashing of a rape witness and a probe by the corruption watchdog over his fingerprints allegedly being found on a drug lab.

Global Drug Law Reform [The Australian Sex Party]

The Australian Sex Party’s drug policy supports the recommendations put forth by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is a group of former Presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland Join With Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, George Shultz, Paul Volcker and others.  The GCDP have announced recommendations for a major paradigm shift in global drug policy. 

The UN Special Session on Drugs is coming up in 2016 and the three international drug control treaties that currently restrict the regulatory options for member states will be discussed. 

Read the press release from the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

TAKING CONTROL:  Pathways To Drug Policies That Work

Popularity of e-cigarettes soars despite a lack of reliable information [Sydney Morning Herald]

Personal vaporiser and e-cigarette use by smokers and those who had recently quit  has increased more than tenfold in just three years, and more than two in five admitted using nicotine in the devices, despite it being illegal without a medical prescription. 

Dr Coral Gartner, a senior research fellow with the University of Queensland, said there was much confusion around what was legal and illegal because there were many laws involved. “Different laws apply depending on whether the device contains nicotine or not and whether it makes a ‘therapeutic claim’ or not,” she said. Dr Gartner and Anke van der Sterren from the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT spoke about e-cigarettes and personal vaporisers at a conference in Canberra this week. 

Dr Gartner said there was a need for the public to be provided with factual information about the products, including how to minimise short-term harms through safe storage and handling practices as well as what is known about the likely harmfulness of short and long-term use. She said there was debate about the safety of the devices, whether they were effective at helping smokers quit, if they were a gateway to smoking for young people and were they a way of renormalising smoking.

The Marijuana Legalization Votes That Will Matter in 2014 [Time]

Referendums across the country set the stage for an even bigger fight in 2016. Election Day this year will be big on pot. The battle over legalizing recreational marijuana in California—the big enchilada that may tilt legalization not only in the U.S. but other countries—is already being set for 2016. But while many reformers’ eyes are focused on the next presidential election, this year’s votes on marijuana initiatives have the power to shape that fight. Here are the races to watch in November:

Alaska: Legalization with tax and regulation 

Oregon: Legalization with tax and regulation 

Washington, D.C.: “Soft legalization” 

Florida: Medical marijuana

Pot and Parenting: Confessions of Colorado’s Weed-Smoking Moms [ABC News]

When Jane West and her friends get together, the laughter rolls, trays of food and stories are passed around. But instead of splitting bottles of wine, these women like to unwind with artisanal marijuana. West and her friends, some mothers with young children, are regular pot smokers who are unapologetic about getting high. Some, like West, have made it their mission to make smoking pot as socially acceptable as having a glass of wine. West is the founder of Edible Events, a company that has found a niche throwing elegant, upscale, weed-friendly parties. West recently threw her biggest event yet, a huge, pot-friendly fundraiser for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at the famed Red Rocks venue that raised over $100,000 for the cash-strapped organization.

NY asks feds to bring in out-of-state medical marijuana [WSHU Radio]

New York’s health department is requesting permission from the federal government to import out-of-state marijuana for medical purposes until its in-state program can finish the regulatory process. In July, New York became the 23rd state to authorize the use of medical marijuana for patients with diseases, including AIDS, cancer and epilepsy. The program requires the health department to write rules and license marijuana production companies. The department says that will take until 2016 to get the program underway.

Joseph McNamara, Drug Warrior Turned Conscientious Objector, RIP [Reason]

Joseph McNamara, who died on Friday at the age of 79, had been publicly criticizing the war on drugs since retiring from his last job in law enforcement, running the San Jose Police Department, more than two decades ago. When he began his second career as a drug-war dissident in 1991, Americans were overwhelmingly opposed to legalizing even marijuana, so it took guts for him to argue that violence is not an appropriate response to drug use, especially given his professional background. That background made McNamara an especially effective critic of prohibition, since he had witnessed its futility and pernicious consequences firsthand. In a 2002 interview with Reason’s Michael Lynch, McNamara explained that he had harbored doubts about the vain crusade to stop Americans from using certain arbitrarily chosen psychoactive substances since his days as a New York City beat cop in the 1950s. Those doubts solidified when he wrote the thesis for a Ph.D. in public administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “I wrote my dissertation in 1973 and predicted the escalation and failure of the drug war—and the vast corruption and violence that would follow,” McNamara told Lynch. “I never published it because I wanted a police career and not an academic career.” But after he retired in 1991 and became a fellow at the Hoover Institution, McNamara was increasingly outspoken on drug policy, serving as an adviser and speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and bringing a much-needed insider’s perspective to discussions of prohibition’s impact on policing. 

Study: Legal Marijuana Market Would Yield Over $3 Billion In Tax Revenue [NORML]

Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis in the United States would yield over $3 billion in annual tax revenue, according to an analysis published this week by the personal finance website, NerdWallet.com. Authors provided a state-by-state economic analysis, taking into account available data estimating marijuana use rates (for those age 25 and older), cannabis market size, and state and local tax rates. Researchers also assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on commercial marijuana production. (This excise tax rate is presently imposed in Colorado.) Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).

In marijuana debate, both sides beg: Think of the children [Alaska Dispatch News]

Alaskans on both sides of Ballot Measure 2 on Thursday asked voters to consider one question: Will legal, regulated sales keep marijuana out of the hands of young people or give them easier access to it? The answer to that question depends on which campaign you ask. The two sides presented their cases in dueling press conferences related to the yes campaign’s introduction of a coalition of parents in favor of the initiative, which seeks to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in Alaska for those 21 years and older. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska on Thursday announced the support of 35 Alaska parents and the launch of an ad campaign that will specifically target Alaska moms and dads. In response, the opposition group, Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2, scheduled a news conference to note that they have plenty of support from parents and to point out the 36 organizations and 27 community leaders and politicians who oppose the measure.

Canadian doctors given guidelines on prescribing marijuana [Globe & Mail]

The College of Family Physicians of Canada has created new guidelines to help doctors determine if and when a patient should have access to marijuana to treat chronic pain or anxiety. The college’s recommendations advise doctors to only approve access to medical marijuana for treatment of pain in patients who haven’t responded to other treatments, and say it is not appropriate for people under 25, those with a personal or family history of psychosis and those with a substance abuse disorder. The recommendations also say medical marijuana is not appropriate therapy for insomnia or anxiety.

Ireland ‘attractive location’ for cannabis factories [Irish Examiner]

The island of Ireland is “clearly seen an as attractive location” for organised crime to operate cannabis factories, according to a cross-border policing report. It said successful law enforcement operations against the lucrative trade “does not appear to be an effective deterrent” as production facilities continue apace. The Cross Border Organised Crime Assessment 2014 was published at a seminar in Belfast yesterday that was attended by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, interim Garda commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, Stormont’s Justice Minister David Ford, and PSNI chief constable George Hamilton. The report, compiled by gardaí and the PSNI, said there was “substantial interaction” between organised crime groups on both sides of the border. It said links between organised crime and dissident republicans “remain a serious concern”. The report said there was often an “environment of co-operation” among higher-level organised crime groups and that both jurisdictions were “seeing the significant presence of foreign national organised crime groups”. It said interest in cannabis cultivation had “accelerated” at all levels of organised crime. “The island of Ireland is clearly seen as an attractive location for these operations,” the report said. 

Cannabis to be Made Legal as Jamaica Finally Ends Its Weed ‘Prohibition’ [International Business Times]

In what may come as a surprise to those whose knowledge of Jamaica is gleaned from Bob Marley albums and TV shows about Rastas, smoking cannabis is a criminal offence in the Caribbean country. But not for much longer, after the government of the island announced plans to decriminalise marijuana and put an end to a ban stretching back 100 year It could be the most obvious law change to make since the United States lifted a ban on alcohol in 1933. Indeed, it has been steps taken in some US states to decriminalise cannabis which has paved the way for the policy on the island, said Jamaica’s justice minister. As a result, the threat of sanctions by the United States over the issue has retreated, meaning Rastafarians will soon be able to light up some ‘sacred herb’ without fearing the police coming through the door.

Can 3D printed device change stigma of marijuana? [Telegraph UK]

An Israeli start-up may have invented the device that will change people’s perception of cannabis to “a medicine, not a substance”. Marijuana is one of the most controversial drugs a doctor can prescribe. But oneIsraeli start-up may be set to revolutionise the way cannabis is taken by patients suffering from severe pain. Bloomberg’s Elliott Gotkine reports from Israel.

LEAF: The Health Benefits of Juicing Raw Cannabis [YouTube]

Leaf introduces Dr. William Courtney and Kristen Peskuski of Cannabis International; along with the people involved in researching, promoting, regulating and benefiting from raw cannabis. Dr. Courtney is a physician and researcher from Mendocino, California, who gives medical marijuana approvals to qualified patients in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties. Kristen Peskuski is a researcher and patient who put her systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial cystitis, and numerous other conditions into remission juicing fresh cannabis. They help make sense of the science behind patient’s recoveries from a diverse range of medical conditions. Attorneys, physicians, law enforcement, medical care providers, patients and their families discuss their experiences with medical cannabis. They specifically focus on juicing fresh cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and contains medical properties 200-400 times stronger than traditional, heated cannabis. Patients have reported success with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, cancer and many other conditions using this unique therapy.

Is marijuana more addictive than alcohol? [SBS]

So, you’re considering a move to Colorado to live a lifestyle that includes the local (herbal) refreshments. But you don’t want to end up like some sort of burnout. You intend to maintain your weapons-grade professional trajectory, balancing it alongside a rigorous weekend mountain-biking regimen. You plan to toke, that is, in moderation. But how much is too much? For this, you must know: Is marijuana less addictive than alcohol, the drug you plan to swap it for? Or will you end up like that guy in college who wore a Bob Marley beanie and whose desk was littered with “idea napkins”? The answer to this and other questions surrounding the safety of marijuana is “we don’t know yet.” Pot has been illegal for decades, we have very little research on it, and the self-reported data of heavy smokers can be, shall we say, unreliable. And it’s especially hard to measure marijuana’s addictive properties if people aren’t able to buy it as often as they buy alcohol. Here’s what we do know: According to many studies, the lifetime risk of dependence—defined as a desire to use increasing amounts of a substance and suffering withdrawal symptoms if you don’t—is lower for marijuana than it is for most other drugs, including alcohol.

The Next Evolution In Dabbing? [HighTimes]

We are Nectar Collector Colorado and we make the Nectar Collector! It’s a vertical vaporizer — the concept is to not have to use a wand or a dome. You go straight into the product and you can vape off of some glass or a dish or a pad. We think it’s the next step in vertical vaporization. The basic concept is that you’re taking exactly how much you want every time — no more, no less. It’s good and clean. 

THE WAR ON DRUGS [Global Commission on Drug Policy]

In a fairytale setting, the movie explains the disastrous war on drugs by telling the story of a dragon banished from an ancient kingdom, and how people that spent time with the dragon were thrown in jail. http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/

Restriction on feeding cannabis to livestock [Qld Govt Business & Industry Portal]

The rules that regulate the feeding of cannabis to stock will ensure that meat, milk and eggs are free of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of cannabis. These rules are defined in the Stock Regulation 1988 (PDF, 530KB). Cannabis that can be fed to livestock. You are allowed to feed livestock:

  • harvested or treated cannabis plants from which all leaves, flowering heads and seeds have been removed
  • denatured seed from plants grown by a licensed grower
  • the oil extracted from processed industrial cannabis
  • meal ground from denatured industrial cannabis seed.

Cannabis that cannot be fed to livestock. You must not feed livestock, or allow stock to access:

  • any cannabis plant that still has leaves, flowers or seeds attached
  • ‘failed’ industrial cannabis crops left unharvested in a growing paddock
  • cannabis seed that can produce cannabis plants – seed that has not been denatured

1932 Anti-Prohibition march [Twitter]

1932 Anti-Prohibition march. Kinda unsophisticated and blokey (but prohibition was repealed in 1933).

Hemp Eyewear – hemp fibre sunglasses [Kickstarter]

Original, natural, sustainable sunglasses made from hemp plant fibre. We are raising funds to upscale production of our sunglasses!

Entheogenesis Australis 10 Year Anniversary Conference: EGA-14

To celebrate 10 years of impressive psychedelic knowledge sharing at EGA events, the day will feature many of Australia’s psychedelic community’s leading thinkers who will provide loads of short talks, discussion panels and some keynotes presentations.  Check out the speakers we have confirmed so far:
We have developed a new ticketing structure that we feel is much more in line with the ethos of EGA. Tickets are strictly limited and all EGA events sell out, so plan your travel and accommodation early. Follow the link to get tickets now:
We hope you will join us in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday 6 December for this very special celebration symposium.
Entheogenesis Australis 10 Year Anniversary Conference: EGA-14
6 December 2014
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

HEMP Party Meeting With Palmer United [HEMP]

Help End Marijuana Prohibition HEMP Party representatives have met with Palmer United Senator Dio Wang seeking support for industrial and medical cannabis use. HEMP Secretary Graham Askey said ” Senator Wang has taken the time to listen and acknowledge some of the issues surrounding the need for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Federal Minister for Health Peter Dutton to step in”. Several Australian States have recently acknowledged medical cannabis, it’s acceptance by the community and a need for further research. full story

Wave Share