Embassy Headlines, Issue 142


Duty of care must include the decisions of policy-makers [Understatement]

Reinventing the wheel is a popular concept for our politicians, bureaucrats, law enforcement and policy makers concerning Cannabis.

Relying on the government, and those who have consistently denied any medical use, to now decide on the eligibility of carers to hold a licence, will require a leap of faith from the sick and dying.

Another season for the NSW Police Cannabis Eradication Program with helicopters and military style assaults on backyard crops is money that could be spent on cultivating a supply for NSW cancer sufferers and a long list of treatable and preventable diseases.

The HEMP 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 Bill Submissions [Australian Federal Parliament]

The Cross Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy and Law Reform has met again in Canberra.  In a positive move, the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill has been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for an inquiry.  This will allow the Bill to be scrutinised, experts in the field will be called to give evidence, and any potential barriers to the Bill moving forward can be identified and remedied. It’s recommended that as many people as possible make a formal submission to the Committee, and also forward their submission to their local Member of Parliament and state Senators.  The number of submissions received will be a good indication of the level of community, industry, medical and political support for medicinal cannabis. Details can be found at the following:


The bill establishes a Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis to be responsible for formulating rules and monitoring compliance with those rules for licensing the production, manufacture, supply, use, experimental use and import and export of medicinal cannabis; and provides for a national system to regulate the cultivation, production and use of medicinal cannabis products, and related activities such as research. You can read the bill here: 


Submissions close on the 13th of March and should be sent to:

Committee Secretary
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3560
Fax: +61 2 6277 5794


Nimbin is all set to host the third Medicinal Cannabis Workshop this Saturday the 14th of March from 11 am in the Town Hall. Mullaways Tony Bower is to be the special guest accompanied by an array of other Medical Cannabis speakers including Radic Al and Andrew Kavasilas.  Some parents of children who’s lives have been turned around by MC will also be talking as well as legal and safety concerns being addressed by Steve Bolt and Kilgore Trout.  Everybody is welcome at the workshop and people can come, listen and ask questions on all aspects of medicinal cannabis, from how and why it works to diet and lifestyle changes essential to overcoming serious illnesses. A new addition to the format this month will be a panel for a question and answer session.

A Medical Cannabis Seminar is also organised for Rooty Hill RSL in Sydney for the following Saturday March 21 at 11am with two of North Americas foremost Cannabis experts speaking along with Dr Andrew Katelaris, David Stevens and Dr John Kaye from the NSW Greens. Chris Conrad is a court-qualified expert witness on cannabis and an internationally recognized expert on industrial hemp, commercial activity, cultivation and religious, personal and medical cannabis use. He and his wife Mikki Norris were volunteer coordinators for California’s Proposition 215 voter initiative that legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Since 1989 the couple have been major activists and leaders in the modern hemp movement and everybody is invited to hear them in Sydney. Chris and Mikki will also be doing their presentation in Nimbin at the Bush Theatre on Monday March 30 from 5 pm down beside the river.

Easter Workshop Weekend – Hemp, Health and Handcrafts [Creative Collectives Australia]

This is a unique program that allows participants to learn 8 new skills over one weekend from a variety of self-sufficiency categories whilst camping out and experiencing community living at one of our collaborative farm locations, this month at the Hemp House in Violet Town, VIC. We invite teachers to come along and pass on their speciality skills and knowledge to 30 lucky participants. Some classes will be very high energy, hands-on and practical and others will be at a slow pace, relaxed and engaging, and there will also be plenty of time for socialise and have a great time with the other participants. The Easter Weekend will be particular good for a family holiday and kids under 12 are welcome for free. Each weekend brings a diverse array of people from all ages and walks of life, don’t be afraid to come on your own as we can guarantee you’ll make new friends in seconds.

Poppy thefts prompts criticism crops grown near schools, public housing is ‘grossly negligent’ [ABC]

Recent thefts from poppy fields have raised serious safety concerns about the locations of the crops in Tasmania. There are also claims from poppy industry insiders that there are not enough penalties against farmers who do not secure their crop adequately. Tasmania produces half the world’s morphine and pharmaceutical opiates for painkillers, and the state’s isolation and small population provides security against theft. Some poppy crops contain the substance Thebaine, which can be fatal if ingested.

Drug body criticises ‘narrow-minded’ debate on medical marijuana [Canberra Times]

Carrie Fowlie, chief executive of the Alcohol Tobacco and other Drug Association, ACT, said public debate had been poor with “people talking past each other” and “failing to listen to the diverse perspectives that should be informing policy analysis. ATODA is concerned that sections of the medical profession are taking too narrow an approach on this topic, failing to acknowledge what many see as the bottom line,” she said. “[That is], the fact that many people in our community have poor quality of life owing to debilitating illnesses that are not relieved by standard medical practice. We are seeing professionals and politicians dismissing out of hand the perspectives of people with backgrounds different from themselves.” Earlier this week, the Public Health Association criticised state and territory governments for being “out of step with the attitudes and behaviour of much of the general public and professional opinion” on the use of cannabis to treat some illness. 

Drug law reform group backs introduction of medical cannabis in the ACT [Sydney Morning Herald]

Public hearings considering the use of marijuana for medical purposes will begin on Thursday, as a leading drug law reform advocacy group called for the ACT to become the first jurisdiction to establish a legal scheme. A Legislative Assembly committee will hear evidence on the subject as part of its consideration of legislation introduced by Greens minister Shane Rattenbury, which would allow for the use of medical cannabis for the terminally and chronically ill to alleviate pain and symptoms. In a submission to the inquiry, advocacy group Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform have called for the scheme to go ahead without a new clinical trial.

Concern about the return of legal highs sold through retailers are misplaced according to the industry [Star Trust New Zealand]

[The Star Trust’s] Grant Hall called upon the Government to ‘show some vision’ and recognise that sometime in the future these retailers would be the ones most likely to be retailing medical cannabis products when prohibition ends. “We are seeing a wave of reform in the United States now where finally good science and common sense are giving people back the right to access medical cannabinoid products from licensed retailers. This model is working to both reduce harms and enforcement costs, whilst also generating taxes.” The recent statement by the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Tony Abbott that ‘medical cannabis should be regulated like medical morphine’ makes it seem inevitable that New Zealand would someday follow this lead and finally review our Misuse of Drugs Act as recommended by the New Zealand Law Commission in 2010. The Psychoactive Substances Act would need a further amendment to be able to consider medical cannabis for licensing but the STAR Trust believes that this would be simple to do and that a clear public mandate for this kind of reform exists now.

Ever Seen A Drug Dog At The Opera? The Mardi Gras Is A Whole Other Story [New Matilda]

Police know that drug dogs are normally wrong, but continue to use the detections as an excuse to conduct humiliating and invasive public searches. The LGBTI community is a particular target for the use of drug dogs, and this has to end. In NSW, police routinely use a positive indication from a dog as a reason to search people, even though 64 to 72% of these searches turn up no drugs. When drugs are found, it is usually a small amount for personal consumption. Only 2.44 per cent of searches following a positive drug dog detection result in a supply conviction. Despite the ineffectiveness, police continue to use drug dogs extensively. In 2013, 17,746 people were searched in NSW during general drug dog operations. This sort of policing is highly visible, with patrols of nightlife spots, festivals and public transport. The searches are public and humiliating. It is policing for show, a performance act that disguises the impotence of the police in the ‘War on Drugs’. Regarding the 2013 Mardi Gras operation, where the majority of searches found no drugs, Surry Hills Local Area Command Duty Officer Inspector Stephen Crews said “We make no apologies for doing what we can to stop people taking drugs into this type of event.” Other types of event are subject to less scrutiny. I’ve never seen drug dogs outside an opera. For decades, major parties and the police have supported the War on Drugs which disproportionately affects marginalised people and continues to fail to stop drug use. If police are seriously worried about the health risks, they should stop harassing LGBTI people with drug dogs, and instead allow proven measures like pill testing kits and realistic drug education. The law and order driven War on Drugs is unwinnable, and bringing in dogs doesn’t change that.

Anal Probes Run Amok: Drug-Sniffing Dogs Must Be Stopped [Reason TV]

The case of Timothy Young made national headlines in 2012 when New Mexico police anally probed him in search of drugs (no contraband was found). His ordeal was the result of a false positive alert by a drug-sniffing police dog. Incredibly, the same dog was involved in a case involving another New Mexico resident that resulted in forced rectal exams that uncovered no drugs. That case ended with authorities paying a $1.6 million settlement (Young’s case is still pending).

MPP Calls for Resignation of Sheriffs Suing Colorado to Bring Back Prohibition [MPP Blog]

Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.

Small US town to open first city-owned marijuana store [9 News]

The USA will soon welcome its first government-owned marijuana store, Washington state media has reported. The council of the small town of North Bonneville is opening a store to draw in tourism this weekend, the Associated Press has reported. Only about 1000 people live in the small rural town, but Mayor Don Stevens hopes the extra visitors the store will draw in will boost the local economy. Despite marijuana being recently legalised in Washington state, many towns and cities have rejected bids to open private stores.

The Role of Faith Leaders in Ending the Drug War, Reducing Mass Incarceration and Legalizing Marijuana [Drug Policy Alliance]

On Thursday, March 12, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm, EST, Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of Dallas’ Friendship-West Baptist Church and co-founder and leader of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s Asha Bandele for a discussion about the role faith communities have to play in ending the drug war. Bandele is expected to discuss marijuana legalization with Rev. Haynes, stigma and how faith communities plan to help re-acclimate tens of thousands of people who are being decarcerated annually.

Inside Texas Politics: Medical marijuana debate [WFAA]

She is commonly called the face of medical marijuana in Texas. But 9-year-old Alexis Bortell, who suffers epileptic seizures, says she can no longer wait for lawmakers to act in Austin. She and her family are leaving for Colorado on Monday.

Georgia House passes medical marijuana bill [11 Alive Atlanta]

The Georgia House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to decriminalize the possession of a form of medical marijuana. Under legislation House lawmakers passed 158-2 and sent on to the state Senate, Georgians who bring the marijuana derivative cannabidiol obtained outside of Georgia into the state for treatment of certain illnesses would not be subject to prosecution. Supporters have been pushing medical marijuana legislation for the last two legislative sessions so that Georgia parents of children with epilepsy and other seizure disorders wouldn’t have to move to states where cannabis oil is legal to get critically needed treatment for their kids.

Teens, adults hazy on Washington State marijuana law, study shows [Science Daily]

More than two years after Washington legalized marijuana, parents and teens may be hazy on the specifics of the law, if the findings of a new study are any indication.University of Washington research, published recently in Substance Use & Misuse, found that only 57 percent of Washington parents surveyed knew the legal age for recreational marijuana use and just 63 percent knew that homegrown marijuana is illegal under the law. And while 71 percent of 10th-graders correctly identified the legal age, fewer than half (49 percent) knew how much marijuana can legally be possessed. The findings underscore the need for better educational outreach about the law, said co-author Kevin Haggerty, professor of social work and director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “As new states are taking on legalized marijuana, we need to have public information campaigns to make sure people have the information they need,” he said.

US senators fire up medical marijuana bill in bid to clear path for research [The Guardian]

Three high-profile lawmakers introduced the Senate’s first bill to legalize medical marijuana across the country on Tuesday. The bill’s future is far from certain, but has been met with praise from marijuana policy activists. Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker introduced the legislation with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. The legislation, called the Carers Act, would allow patients to use states’ medical marijuana laws without fear of federal repercussions, open the banking system to marijuana dispensaries and clear the way for research. “Many people have been finding relief, but some people are prevented from having that,” said Paul. “There’s great potential for research in this,” he said. “This is an example of how Washington works.”

A Measured Approach to Oral Cannabis [Erowid]

More than half of all U.S. adults under the age of 60 have used cannabis at least once. While cannabis is usually smoked, oral consumption is not uncommon. When eaten, the effects take substantially more time to come on, are described as being more intense, and last hours longer than when smoked. The high potency of THC and other cannabinoids means that a large dose can fit into a tiny portion of food. These factors, combined with a wide variation in potency from one batch of edibles to another, present a considerable risk of unpleasant, long-lasting, accidental overdoses. Cannabis edibles have become more available in recent years as the medical marijuana market has matured. They are popular enough that a page with two recipes for cannabis cookies was the third most visited article on Erowid.org in August and September 2011. Many medical dispensaries sell an assortment of edible products: from classic brownies and cookies, to fudges, lollipops, pizzas, bagel bites, tinctures, and “cannabutter” (for use in home cooking). But even commercially available products are made from plants that naturally vary in cannabinoid concentrations. Whether bought or baked at home, the dosage of the same type of edible can differ from one batch to the next. As a result of this natural variation, as well as some common usage errors, over the past 40 years oral cannabis has developed a reputation for being unpleasant and too strong. An overdose can be overwhelming, including extreme disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, depersonalization, nausea, vomiting, pounding heart, anxiety, and paranoia.

A Sensible Bill on Medical Marijuana [New York Times]

Three senators, two Democrats and a Republican, introduced a bill on Tuesday that would allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes in states where it is legal, without fear of federal prosecution for violating narcotics laws. The bill makes a number of important changes to federal marijuana policies — and it deserves to be passed by Congress and enacted into law. Though this legislation would not repeal the broad and destructive federal ban on marijuana, it is a big step in the right direction. The most important change would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which is intended for drugs, like heroin, that have no accepted medical use in the United States, and place it instead in Schedule II, the classification for drugs that have a legitimate medical use but also have a “high potential for abuse.” The Schedule I classification made no sense because there is a medical consensus that patients with AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and serious degenerative conditions can benefit from marijuana. And millions of patients have used marijuana to relieve pain, nausea, appetite loss, insomnia and seizures associated with various illnesses.

Medical marijuana could put an end to my constant pain, but I can’t even try it without breaking the law[Independent UK]

I don’t understand how the NHS can be so behind countries like America, as legalisation would benefit so many and save millions.

The ‘Skunk’ Scare Is The Best Argument For Legal Regulation Of Cannabis [Clear Cannabis Law Reform]

The recent ‘skunk’ scare” promoted by some world-respected scientists and the Daily Mail was, I suspect, seen by at least some of them as an argument for continued and stronger prohibition. But perhaps they’ve scored an own goal, opening an argument which has the potential to be devastating for the continued prohibition of cannabis. We have now established something important about cannabis which is no longer in doubt: it isn’t a simple drug. It isn’t really even possible to talk about “cannabis” as a drug because it isn’t a single drug, it’s the combined effect of two major and many minor drugs and the outcome of using different strains can be as different as chalk and cheese. With other ‘street drugs’ it’s simply a matter of dose or strength. Cannabis, however, can vary from hemp at one extreme to  strains very much stronger than ‘skunk’ or even the ‘haze’ which the Channel 4 programme actually used. We can all agree on that, even CLEAR and the Daily Mail.  What the Channel 4 programme and the rabid prohibitionists have unwittingly done is to demonstrate that high CBD hash doesn’t carry the psychosis risk of ‘skunk’. It is, therefore, in our interest to use this as an argument for a properly regulated supply, providing the millions of cannabis users with a safe form of cannabis.

Canadian Tories considering changing pot laws to make possession a ticketable offence in lieu of criminal charges[National Post]

With just 12 weeks left before Parliament shuts down for an election, the federal Conservative government is still considering introducing a bill to let police issue tickets to people caught with small amounts of marijuana, instead of laying criminal charges. The potential legislative change is in the hands of Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who has spoken strongly about the dangers of marijuana use, particularly by young people. The government has not made a final decision on the proposed change. As well, it isn’t clear – with time running short – if it would introduce a bill in the current Parliament, which ends in June, or make it a campaign promise in the fall election. But what is significant, say Tories, is that the idea is still on the government’s “radar” as it prepares for re-election. It is looking for a marijuana proposal to contrast with the position of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who would legalize pot.

One World Cannabis, Sheba Academic Medical Center ink collaboration agreement [News Medical]

OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp’s wholly owned subsidiary One World Cannabis Ltd. signed a collaboration agreement with Sheba Academic Medical Center, the largest hospital in Israel and in the Middle East. Within the framework of a new collaboration agreement, the company will initiate a study to explore the effect of several combinations of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on multiple myeloma, starting with a basic science on multiple myeloma cells.

Q&A: could Portugal’s drug reforms work in the UK? [The Conversation]

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that their 2015 manifesto will contain radical proposals for drug policy reform. Many of the measures echo the approach taken in Portugal, where a policy of decriminalisation was put into practice in 2001. Drugs policy expert Susanne MacGregor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explains what reforms like these would mean for the UK.

Ecstasy, mushrooms and other drugs legal in Ireland for 2 days [New York Post]

Some Irish eyes may be smiling because more than 100 drugs, including ecstasy and magic mushrooms, are now legal in Ireland — but lawmakers are expected to quickly close the legal loophole. The Irish Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that a section of the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act was unconstitutional, thus legalizing the drugs, The Journal reported. Irish officials plan to pass an emergency bill to recriminalize the drugs, but it wouldn’t go into effect until Thursday — providing a 48-hour window of legalized drug use.

Stand up for your human right to enjoy MDMA and Psychedelics! [EmmaSofia]

EmmaSofia is a non-profit organization based in Oslo, Norway, working to increase access to quality-controlled MDMA (‘ecstasy’) and psychedelics. EmmaSofia was founded by Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen. Their research on LSD for alcoholism and mental health of psychedelic users has been featured in Nature News, BBC World News, New Scientist, Scientific American, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, and many other news media. (Read more about us).


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