Embassy Headlines, Issue 135


Health insurance can be very expensive especially if you’re caught growing your own.

Weighing up the benefits between paying your doctor for their ineffective pharmaceuticals or just paying for a bag of shit and few good seeds, is the easiest decision that you could ever make.

Prohibition is the only barrier to natural affordable health care.

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 Workshop [Nimbin]

7 February at 11:00, Nimbin Town Hall 47 Cullen st Nimbin: Same as the first one … only BIGGER AND BETTER! 11am to 4:20pm. Stay for meet & greet afterwards. Bigger & better sound (PA). More seating. More food. There will be a new unmissable line-up of speakers. There will be more useful information to take home. See you there!

Man who allegedly gave sick daughter cannabis allowed to visit child [Brisbane Times]

A crowd of about 30 supporters gathered outside court on Friday morning, letting out a huge cheer when they heard the news of the altered bail conditions. The man thanked supporters while leaving the court, but declined to comment further. In the days after his arrest, he set up an online fundraising campaign with a $20,000 target and said the cannabis oil had improved his daughter’s life. “Her cancer ridden little body was ALIVE AGAIN…She would say- “Daddy, tummys NOT SORE, She would be able to eat like a champion and began to gain weight, her energy was up and wanted to go outside with me instead of lay on her back with legs curled up,” the man wrote. Medicinal marijuana is banned in Australia, however Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said he wanted to make it legal by the end of 2015. In NSW, medicinal marijuana will be trialled in 2016 for epilepsy patients, terminally ill adults and some chemotherapy patients. Supporters claim the drug relieves pain and can cure illness in some cases. Medicinal marijuana campaigner Michelle Whitelaw, who said she has a son who suffers from severe epilepsy, was among the supports outside the Magistrates Court on Friday. “What upsets me is that fact that the evidence is out there, cannabis does kill cancer. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a criminal activity to give your child a raw, extracted substance that can benefit them,” she said.

Opinion: High time medical marijuana was legalised in Queensland [Courier Mail]

Anecdotes abound about how use of medical marijuana has vastly improved the lives of those with epilepsy, chronic pain, cancer and other life-limiting diseases. There is scientific evidence it not only relieves symptoms, but also has positive effects on the diseases themselves. Last November, a team of researchers from St. George’s University of London published their findings that medicinal marijuana shrank the worst kind of brain tumours in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapies. The scientists said marijuana’s cancer-fighting properties had already been established, but this was the first time its effect on cancer had been established when used alongside radiation treatment. A cannabis-derived mouth spray is approved for multiple sclerosis sufferers in the US. Several treatments built from cannabinoids – the active components in cannabis – are legally available for treating cancer side-effects there. The evidence is not just building, it is already present. It is well past time for Queensland to get on the front foot so parents are not forced to choose between helping their child and breaking the law.

High hopes for medical cannabis legislation [AltMedia]

State legislation to allow the use of cannabis by the terminally ill is a polarising election issue and raises questions about self-medication for mental health reasons. While Premier Mike Baird and Opposition Leader Luke Foley support the passing of laws in this direction, they disagree on the need for further trials to improve the evidence base. State Labor MP Adam Searle was part of a 2013 inquiry into cannabis legislation and is skeptical that the trials are necessary given the evidence from overseas trials. “What we received evidence of, from individuals and groups – and even doctors – is that there are a number of beneficial effects of cannabis,” said Mr Searle. The benefits include pain relief, the reduction of nausea, and the stimulation of hunger for cancer patients undergoing treatment, Searle’s said his father self-medicated for these reasons. Foley told a press conference on January 11 he believed the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act should be changed to legalise medical use of cannabis without a trial period. He argues that cannabis-derived products have been shown to improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients without “anyone getting high” and is concerned about the Liberal Governments decision to conduct further trials. “Is this just a device dreamed up by the Premier to spin his wheel so he looks like he’s doing something new and interesting and progressive, but really actually not doing anything?” he said. Sydney student, Brodie Pyke, 20, supports cannabis use for the terminally ill, and told City Hub the issue would be something that will affect his vote in March.

The legalization of marijuana: a good example of flexible policymaking [The Guardian]

It is possible to design government processes that can be flexible and fast. Again, the legalization of marijuana in four US states is a remarkable example of government getting it right. This brave new world of public policy has ushered in a wave of efforts to make policy flexible in an uncertain landscape. Marijuana policy is not an obvious example of inclusive growth policy. But it has an impact on public health and safety, on economic opportunity, and on the distribution of tax burdens that have serious societal implications. And beyond the issue of marijuana itself, the processes that surround the policy serve as models for how to ensure flexibility to promote broader goals. Policies intended to advance economic growth are difficult to perfect, and when inclusive growth is the goal, it is even harder to achieve. Governments cannot exist as passive bystanders, observing societal outcomes. Instead they must actively transform themselves into systems capable of hearing from every corner of society, and having the agility and will to be responsive to what they hear.

Calls for compassion in cannabis debate [9 News]

The desperate parents of terminally ill children are calling on the Queensland government to show compassion and legalise medicinal cannabis. Mothers who have surveyed Brisbane residents on the issue gathered outside the Queensland Health building on Monday. Rozanne Burley told how medicinal cannabis had improved the quality of life for her teenage son Adam, who has a rare form of intractable epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. She said pharmaceutical drugs triggered horrific side effects amid Adam’s irreversible brain damage, uncontrolled seizures and eating disorder. Ms Burley introduced Adam to medicinal cannabis a year and a half ago. “Within about a month, he started eating again,” she told AAP.

New call to ban synthetic cannabis [The West Australian]

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has raised the recent deaths of two men in Queensland after smoking synthetic cannabis to again call on the Barnett Government to ban the products in WA. Mr McGowan, who has raised the issue several times during the past 2½ years, said synthetic cannabis was “rife” in WA and provided media with the names of several shops in the metropolitan area selling it. He also produced one sachet of a green-leafed product called Gold at his press conference this morning. Last week two men aged 33 and 41 died in Mackay after smoking synthetic cannabis. Mr McGowan said: “Enough is enough. At the moment this deadly material is rife throughout our community,” he said. “I know of shops around our community that are selling synthetic cannabis, it’s freely available, and people are complaining to me about the fact that their families are purchasing it, they’re purchasing it, it’s highly addictive, it’s causing immense grief to many families in WA.

Testing: Three Kings Day bread laced with ‘substantial’ amount of synthetic pot [Orange County Register]

Neil Spingarn, a pharmacologist who heads up S&N Laboratories, tested a sample of the Three Kings Day bread and found it contaminated with “a substantial” amount of a synthetic cannabinoid – an artificial THC with intensified effects. THC is the main chemical ingredient in marijuana. “The levels in the cake are not small.” Spingarn said. “What is most striking is that this was not inadvertent.” Spingarn identified the specific strain contaminating the bread as JWH-122.

Perth medicinal marijuana company Phytotech starts trading on a high [WA Today]

Medicinal marijuana company Phytotech Medical has made a stellar stock market debut, with its shares doubling in value. Phytotech plans to work with farmers in the US and Uruguay to grow indoor and outdoor marijuana crops for medicinal purposes. It estimates the global cannabis industry is worth up to $US100 billion. In Australia, the NSW government is spending $9 million on three trials for medicinal cannabis, but Mr Smith believes Victoria is most likely to legalise the drug once federal laws governing distribution and production are passed. Mr Smith acknowledged the majority of Australia is governed by conservative governments, but said lawmakers could not ignore the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 23 US states and seven European countries. “This is happening,” Mr Smith said. “What a pity that once it becomes legal in Victoria and NSW that people in other states will have to move interstate to treat their child with seizures.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott supports state-based trials of the drug, but has dodged suggestions of a national experiment. A private members bill seeking the formation of a regulator to oversee the production and distribution of medical cannabis is expected to be debated in the Senate as early as next month. Demand for Phytotech shares was strong after it released documents regarding its stock market float last December. It originally planned to raise $5 million through the issue of shares to investors, but strong demand forced it to issue another $900,000 worth of stock. Options Xpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said Phytotech had made a spectacular share market debut, with more than $2 million worth of shares changing hands in the first half hour of trade. “It’s got high prospects for growth overall,” Mr Le Brun said. “The research suggests that the relief the drug gives people suffering all manner of conditions can’t really be doubted.”

Law firm targets Facebook users who ‘like’ festivals to advertise drug services [Sydney Morning Herald]

If you are an 18- to 40-year-old living in metropolitan Sydney who has “liked” music festivals and clubbing on Facebook, you may have been identified by a Sydney law firm as a potential drug user. Using Facebook’s targeted advertising, Ly Lawyers promotes criminal law services to a potential pool of young drug users who share their interest in music and clubbing on Facebook. “Busted with possession or supply of drugs at a festival? Call Sydney’s best drug lawyers!” one advertisement says, accompanied by a picture of a hand chopping up a white powder.

Australia doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. We have a problem with violence [Sydney Morning Herald]

First of all, Australia does not have a problem with alcohol. Australia has a problem with violence. Violence is not caused by trading hours or licensing rules. Nor is it caused by advertising or labelling or sponsorships. Violence is caused by violent people, in the same way that rape is caused by rapists and murder is caused by murderers. Second, there is scant evidence to support the idea that drinking heavily will turn an otherwise peaceful person into a violent one. If you don’t believe this, I’d recommend a trip to Germany. Living in Berlin for the past four years has given me a very … ahem, sobering view of the true relationship between alcohol and public violence – that is, there isn’t one. This is a land utterly bereft of lock-ins, lock-outs and last drinks. There are no legal limits on the trading hours for licensed venues. Pubs and bars stay open until the manager decides to close up, usually around 5 or 6am when the last punters stumble home to bed. And the big nightclubs don’t close at all – they operate 24 hours a day from Friday evening until Monday morning. Some argue there is a direct link between the availability of alcohol and the prevalence of social mayhem. By this logic, a country such as Germany must be some kind of barbaric hell-world where every night at the pub ends in a brutal orgy of violence. Alas, the reality here is a little different. Compared to King’s Cross or the Melbourne CBD, Berlin’s myriad nightlife districts are peaceful – almost serene. You can party all night long without witnessing so much as a heated argument.  In four years I have not encountered a single instance of unprovoked aggression. Few would deny that public violence is a real problem in Australia, although it is much less of a problem than violence against women and children. But to blame any kind of assault squarely on alcohol is to absolve the perpetrator of moral responsibility, while making scapegoats of the small business owners and their employees  in the hospitality trade. The practice of punching a stranger in the head   has less to do with alcohol than with some of the darker and more primitive aspects of our national character. The disease is deep inside us. If we hope to some day bring it under control, we might start by exploring the genuine root of the problem, rather than embracing yet another round of oppressive regulations that punish the majority for the actions of a small minority.

Marijuana’s Surprising Effects On Athletic Performance [Business Insider Australia]

When Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tested as having a small amount of marijuana in his blood at the 1998 Japan games, his first-place finish wastemporarily called into question. But THC, the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana, wasn’t even listed in the International Olympic Committee’s banned substances list at the time (it is now, but at a much higher level than the one he tested at), so he was allowed to keep his victory and medal. (He is now in the medical marijuana business.) Even though it’s on the banned list now, does anyone really think of marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug in the first place? After all, as Robin Williams later joked, “the only way it’s a performance-enhancing drug is if there’s a big f*cking Hershey bar at the end of the run,” right? Maybe not. It turns out marijuana might actually help some people perform better at certain sports. This may sound crazy. After all, we’re all familiar with the image of the couch-locked Cheetos-covered stoner. Yet there are people that say that training while high has helped them unlock new performance gains.

Major Health Study: Long-Time Pot Smokers Face Little Damage to Their Lungs [AlterNet]

The inhalation of one marijuana cigarette per day over a 20-year period is not associated with adverse changes in lung health, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society. Investigators at Emory University in Atlanta assessed marijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of US adults age 18 to 59. Researchers reported that cannabis exposure was not associated with FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease. Authors further reported that marijuana smoke exposure may even be associated with some protective lung effects among long-term smokers of tobacco. Investigators acknowledged, “[T]he pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.”

Marijuana Health Research Skimpy, Colorado Doctors Conclude [CBS]

A year after legalizing recreational pot sales, Colorado has more questions than answers about the health effects of legal marijuana. A panel of doctors concluded months of meetings Monday about the health effects of marijuana and how people are using it. Instead of reaching many conclusions, though, the doctors agreed the bulk of their recommendations should be calls for more research on the drug. For example, the doctors looked at research on maternal pot use, or whether marijuana use by pregnant or nursing women affects their children. They concluded there is “mixed evidence” that marijuana use by pregnant women results in birth defects. But their recommendation calls only for better education and surveys to find out more about maternal pot use, not a ban on selling pot to pregnant women. The head of the physician panel, Mike Van Dyke of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the doctors wanted to be careful not to call for health restrictions in light of extremely limited data on marijuana’s health effects. “We’re a year into it. We don’t have the answers yet,” Van Dyke said. “We don’t know what the health effects of legalization are.”

Will legal marijuana lead to more addicts? Probably not [The Conversation]

Does the fact that cannabis is increasingly legal mean that addiction rates are going to spike and related issues – such as lower IQs and higher rates of marijuana addiction – are also going to jump? I believe the answer is no. Despite these legitimate concerns, thus far there are no compelling data to suggest that drug use has increased in Colorado where recreational cannabis is currently legal. Even though it’s only recently that Colorado legalized marijuana, I don’t expect this to change going forward. A large study found that rates of cannabis use among teenagers in states that legalized medical marijuana did not increase. And since Colorado fully legalized cannabis in 2013, the early reports show that rates of cannabis consumption among teens have continued to decline, which is part of a nation-wide trend. Additionally, we have an example of a country where drugs were decriminalized over a decade ago. Portugal decriminalized drug use in 2001. Drug users are not punished for their offense when found to possess drugs, but instead are offered access to treatment and rehab. The result: a decade later, drug abuse was cut in half in Portugal. Specifically among Portuguese teens in grades 10 through 12, lifetime prevalence rates of marijuana use decreased from 26% in 2001 to 19% in 2006. This is not to say that drugs of abuse in general, and cannabis in particular, are benign. Indeed, they are addictive and can harm brain development. But decriminalizing or legalizing drug use makes sense because it reduces crime almost immediately, frees up police for more serious matters and will likely not lead to higher rates of use.

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think [Huffington Post]

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned – and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction, by our teachers, and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my book ‘Chasing The Scream – The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs’ to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong – and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it. This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding’. A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. This has huge implications for the one hundred year old war on drugs. This massive war – which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool – is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction – if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction – then this makes no sense. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s – only connect. But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live – constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us. The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before.

Cannabis addicts ‘let down’ as Class A drugs get attention [BBC]

A leading drugs expert says cannabis addicts are being let down because there is too much focus on helping people hooked on Class A substances. Doctor Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, the world’s biggest drug poll, told Newsbeat cannabis can be as tough to give up as heroin. “We haven’t invested enough in helping people who use cannabis use more safely – or stop,” he said. But health officials say there are properly funded services out there. Dr Winstock said in the last 20 years services have focused too heavily on treating heroin and crack cocaine addicts “because they’re the people the government sees as causing crime and disruption”. Dr Adam Winstock, consultant addictions psychiatrist at Kings College, London  “I don’t think people with problems with cannabis have easy access to services,” he explained. Cannabis use is falling across the UK but the number of people getting help with addiction is rising.  Experts say this is because cannabis is getting stronger and users are more likely to admit they have a problem with it. In 2005 the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in England coming forward for treatment was 3,328. In 2013/14 that figure had risen to 4,997 and now accounts for nearly half of all new cases.

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Suicide by Men Under 40 [HighTimes]

Researchers D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees, and Joseph J. Sabia have updated their groundbreaking work from 2012 showing that the passage of medical marijuana laws reduces the incidence of suicide in those states. Their latest brief, “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide” published by the Cato Institute, reveals some amazing statistics. The researchers note that many foes of medical marijuana base their opposition on the notion that “marijuana use increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and schizophrenia” and “that the negative effects of marijuana are long-lasting and that users are at risk of suffering from decreased psychological well-being later in life.” Data also show that among those who commit suicide, over 90% have a diagnosable mental illness or substance use disorder. So the question for the researchers was whether increased access to marijuana leads to the factors of mental illness and substance abuse that should increase suicide rates.The answer, they found, was quite the opposite.

Hash Oil Linked to Dozens of Home Explosions in Colorado [NewsWeek]

Hash oil, a form of concentrated THC from cannabis plants that is created using liquid butane, has been linked with dozens of explosions in Colorado, where marijuana use has been legal since 2012. Similar explosions have been reported in California and Washington state. Hash oil explosions are becoming more common in Colorado after the state approved a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. As The New York Times reported Sunday, at least five people were hospitalized in the state’s 32 hash oil explosions in 2014, and 17 received treatment for severe burns. But now that cannabis is legal in Colorado, so is hash oil, in theory at least. Officials quoted in the Times say that regulated, controlled hash oil manufacturing operations are legal—but homemade hash oil is still against the law. Pot advocates disagree, with some telling the Times that legal weed means legal weed, in all its sundry forms. Hash oil explosions should be treated as accidents, not crimes, they say. They welcome regulation, not prosecution. Legal authorities in Colorado are largely unmoved by these arguments. A judge in Mesa County, Colorado, recently ruled that laws prohibiting the production of concentrated hash oil are not unconstitutional under the state’s new marijuana laws.

A year after marijuana legalisation in Colorado, ‘everything’s fine’ confirm police [The Independent]

It’s been a year since Colorado became the first state in the US to legalise marijuana, and its impact on health, crime, employment and other factors can now be more empirically measured. So, did it bring about an apocalypse leaving the streets strewn with out-of-work addicts as some Republicans feared? “We found there hasn’t been much of a change of anything,” a Denver police officer told CBC this week. “Basically, officers aren’t seeing much of a change in how they do police work.”

Considering Marijuana Legalization [Rand Corporation]

The principal message of the report is that marijuana policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model we see in Colorado and Washington. Legalization encompasses a wide range of possible regimes, distinguished along at least four dimensions: the kinds of organizations that are allowed to provide the drug, the regulations under which those organizations operate, the nature of the products that can be distributed, and price. These choices could have profound consequences for health and social well-being, as well as job creation and government revenue.

Appetite for edibles in Colorado big surprise for recreational market [Cannabist]

Marijuana edibles account for roughly 45 percent of Colorado’s legal pot marketplace and led to some of the most high-profile marijuana controversies in 2014.As one of the people charged with implementing marijuana legalization in Colorado, Ron Kammerzell thought he had considered everything. And then inexperienced users bit off more than they could chew, and reports of people consuming too much edible pot at once started to add up.  “That really wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” Kammerzell said. The proliferation of marijuana edibles stunned state and industry leaders, making it one of the biggest surprises during the first year of legal recreational marijuana sales. Potent cookies, candies and drinks — once considered a niche market — now account for roughly 45 percent of the legal marijuana marketplace and led to the most high-profile marijuana controversies in 2014.  The variety of marijuana-infused edibles available became a “point of fascination” for consumers, said Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer for Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, one of Colorado’s largest producers of infused products. “We knew that there would be consumer interest in edibles, but I think we did underestimate that the demand would exceed our expectations,” Hodas said.

The US Is Growing So Much Weed Now, They’re Burning Down Their Crops In Mexico [Business Insider Australia]

Tuesday night at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a source with knowledge of security issues along the United States-Mexico border shared this interesting tidbit: The supply of marijuana grown in the United States has become so abundant and cheap that in the regions of northern Mexico, where it used to be grown, farmers have taken to burning their crops. Because of the increased domestic supply, it is no longer profitable for these Mexican farmers to grow, reap, and transport weed across the border. They have decided there is more money in burning down their crops down and planting something else instead. This makes sense. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in three and decriminalized in many more. The bad news: This source says Mexican farmers are growing opium poppies instead — the plants used to make heroin. (We’d describe the source of this information more, but the World Economic Forum is held under something called “The Chatham House Rule,” wherein reporters are able to share information they have heard here but are not allowed to describe its source.)

Seattle’s legal marijuana euphoria over as industry undergoes growing pains [The Guardian]

In Washington, data show that licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of bud as of Thursday, but the state’s relatively few legal pot shops have sold less than one-fifth of that. Many of the state’s marijuana users have stuck with the untaxed or much-lesser-taxed pot they get from black market dealers or unregulated medical dispensaries limiting how quickly product moves off the shelves of legal stores. “Every grower I know has got surplus inventory and they’re concerned about it,” said Scott Masengill, who has sold half of the 280 pounds he harvested from his pot farm in central Washington. “I don’t know anybody getting rich.” Officials at the state Liquor Control Board, which regulates marijuana, aren’t terribly concerned. So far, there are about 270 licensed growers in Washington but only about 85 open stores for them to sell to. That’s partly due to a slow, difficult licensing process; retail applicants who haven’t been ready to open; and pot business bans in many cities and counties. The board’s legal pot project manager, Randy Simmons, says he hopes about 100 more stores will open in the next few months, providing additional outlets for the weed that’s been harvested. Washington is always likely to have a glut of marijuana after the outdoor crop comes in each fall, he suggested, as the outdoor growers typically harvest one big crop which they continue to sell throughout the year. Weed is still pricey at the state’s pot shops often in the $23-to-$25-per-gram range. That’s about twice the cost at medical dispensaries, but cheaper than it was a few months ago. Simmons said he expects pot prices to keep fluctuating for the next year and a half: “It’s the volatility of a new marketplace.”

Roadside drug test for cocaine and cannabis given go-ahead [Telegraph UK]

Police officers will be able to test drivers for drugs on the roadside for the first time after the Home Office approved the first mobile testing device.  The “Drugwipe” device can test for cocaine and cannabis from a saliva sample within as little as three minutes.  It will allow traffic officers to test drivers on the roadside rather than taking them into a police station – meaning the number of tests and the number of convictions is likely to soar as the device is adopted by forces.

Why animals eat psychoactive plants [BoingBoing]

The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for. I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K. Siegel. After sampling the numbing nectar of certain orchids, bees drop to the ground in a temporary stupor, then weave back for more. Birds gorge themselves on inebriating berries, then fly with reckless abandon. Cats eagerly sniff aromatic “pleasure” plants, then play with imaginary objects. Cows that browse special range weeds will twitch, shake, and stumble back to the plants for more. Elephants purposely get drunk off fermented fruits. Snacks of “magic mushrooms” cause monkeys to sit with their heads in their hands in a posture reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. The pursuit of intoxication by animals seems as purposeless as it is passionate. Many animals engage these plants, or their manufactured allies, despite the danger of toxic or poisonous effects.

SOMARA: Shamanic Medicine Forum [Byron Bay NSW]

Somara Shamanic Medicine Forum is a two day conference on Feb 7 (Sat) and 8th (Sun) at Starseed Gardens in Byron Bay. The conference will include local and international speakers sharing insight into their work with some of the most powerful plant and animal medicines nature has to offer, in ever more safe, responsible and effective ways. Somara aims to explore sacred medicine and shamanic work: from ancient and modern perspectives; from the personal to the planetary level for deep healing and personal evolution.  http://www.somara.org and http://www.facebook.com/somara.org


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