Embassy Headlines, Issue 143


Breaking the ice with medican show

Rooty Hill RSL serves alcohol and serves as a meeting place for the Returned and Services League members.

Cannabis is not on the menu and an RSL is not usually associated with any Medicinal Cannabis Forum. Cannabis can treat PTSD plus other symptoms of war and can help overcome alcohol addiction.

Beyond prohibition we can expect to see “Drug War Veterans’ at RSL’s across Australia, choosing the safer option for recreational therapy – Cannabis.

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.

NSW election 2015: The joint will be jumping at Rooty Hill RSL [Sydney Morning Herald]

NSW hippies descend on Sydney this Saturday hauling their giant inflatable joint to that holy shrine to beer and skittles, the Rooty Hill RSL. With major parties endorsing a trial of medicinal cannabis, the RSL is the setting for a medical cannabis seminar. “We’ve been holding these gatherings in Nimbin town hall and been surprised by the turn out,” said the president of Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy,  Michael Balderstone. It is Balderstone’s great regret that, in the first election that dope has been endorsed by straight politicians, his Australian HEMP Party forgot to register itself as a political party. At any rate, two America drug campaigners, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, will be at Rooty Hill to tell how legalisation of medical cannabis in Colorado and 23 other US states has afforded the drug a hitherto unknown respectability. Other speakers include, doctors, patients and Crescent Head dope grower Tony Bower. Mike Baird and Luke Foley have prior appointments but Greens’ John Kaye will attend. Organisers are charging a $10 entry to pay the RSL. Balderstone said they planned on inflating the “Big Joint” outside Alan Jones 2GB studio on Friday to get the old radio rabble rouser on board. “The RSL venue made us think of how good pot is for post-traumatic stress disorder. Surely that’s right up Alan’s alley,” he said.

NSW election 2015: Medical marijuana has widespread support from Vote Compass users [ABC]

Almost four out of five New South Wales voters support the legalisation of medical marijuana, according to the ABC’s Vote Compass survey. Of almost 35,000 respondents, 79 per cent said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that marijuana should be legal when used for medical purposes. Support for medical marijuana was highest amongst people aged 55 and over: 84 per cent agreed it should be legal. Younger respondents were slightly less supportive, with 72 per cent aged 18-34 in favour. Both major parties have offered conditional support for medical marijuana.

Drug bosses targeting problem gamblers in Victoria, study suggests [ABC]

Drug bosses are preying on Victorians with gambling debts by offering them money to look after marijuana crops, a new study suggests. The research conducted by Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council analysed the sentences imposed for hundreds of court cases dealing with high-level drug offences over the past five years. It found almost 25 per cent of large commercial drug traffickers and 20 per cent of commercial drug cultivators had gambling problems.

Helen Kapalos exits TV for journey on medical marijuana [Herald Sun]

Helen Kapalos has left television and is making documentaries. The former Channel 10 newsreader and Today Tonight host has been working overseas on a project on medical marijuana that will air first in the US in May or June. Her contract at Channel 7 is set to expire at the end of this month. “They’ve let me see out the rest of my contract and I think they’re all really happy as well because it started from a story that I did at Seven, which was on medicinal cannabis,’’ Kapalos said. “The main guy was a 24-year-old guy who was taking it with chemo and he passed away recently, and I think they’re just happy that I’ve followed it through with all the families. There’s like 40 interviews, there’s a lot of footage, it’s been an amazing journey.”

Police Minister suggests marijuana may soon be legalised [7 News]

The new Police Minister has given the strongest indication yet that medicinal marijuana could be legalised in Queensland.

International bikie gangs target Victoria for business [The Age]

International outlaw motorcycle gangs are targeting Australia because of wildly inflated illicit-drug prices, and Victoria is the destination of choice due to a black hole in the criminal law, a high level crime conference has been told. “They are prepared to flood our shores with drugs,” said the state anti-gangs division head, Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo. “Outlaw motorcycle gangs see Australia as the land of opportunity.” He said the price of Ice in the US is around $5600 a kilo while the price in Australia is between $220,000 and $300,000.

Medicinal Cannabis in Australia- Framing the Regulatory Options [National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre]

The aim of this paper is to explore and provide a framework for discussion around the regulatory issues, notably access and supply of medicinal cannabis.

Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme – Frequently Asked Questions [NSW Government]

NSW residents who are aged 18 years and over who have a terminal illness are eligible to be registered for the scheme. For detailed information about eligibility, see the fact sheet for adults with a terminal illness and their carers.

Medical evidence, not dogma, must lead pot law reform [Canberra Times]

The difficult debate over reforming marijuana laws returned to the ACT on Friday when a Legislative Assembly committee began taking submissions on the issue. That gravely ill members of our community are suffering needlessly and forced to plead with legislators because they cannot get access to the drug is a situation we owe to them to fix. According to overseas evidence, cannabis products can offer great relief, under the right conditions, although debate remains. It is also unacceptable that their doctors face possible prosecution for advising those patients to access marijuana products.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr backs medical marijuana [Canberra Times]

Chief Minister Andrew Barr declared his in principle support for medical marijuana reform on Friday, but said a scheme currently being considered by a Legislative Assembly inquiry had serious flaws. Mr Barr acknowledged prohibition rarely worked but that he didn’t have strong views on calls for cannabis to be legalised for pain relief. The comments come a day after the government raised a series of concerns about the proposal put forward by Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury, currently being considered in public hearings. 

Greens push medicinal cannabis reform at every level [The Greens NSW]

Australian Greens Health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale joined his Greens NSW counterpart MP John Kaye today in Sydney with Greens candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong to outline their approach to medicinal cannabis reform. Dr Di Natale said: “To deny effective medication to patients who need it and would benefit from it simply because of stigma is cruel. “The Greens already have bills before the New South Wales and Commonwealth parliaments that would make this medicine available and provide relief from pain and suffering. “At the federal level I have led a cross-party working group to draft legislation that creates an independent regulator responsible for licensing the growing, manufacturing and distribution of medicinal cannabis. This model would allow access to medicine that provides relief from severe pain and suffering, including patients suffering from intractable nausea and muscle spasms. The bill is currently the subject of a Senate inquiry with submissions closing today and public hearings to follow next month. The overwhelming majority of the community wants to see action on this issue and the Greens are leading the way at a state and federal level. The time for meaningful reform is now,” said Dr Di Natale, a former GP and public health specialist.

ACT Government raises health and law concerns about Shane Rattenbury’s medical marijuana plan [Canberra Times]

The ACT government has raised serious concerns about a medical marijuana scheme proposed by Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury, saying public health could suffer if it is established and questioning the extent of clinical need and demand for cannabis treatment in Canberra. A Legislative Assembly inquiry will open public hearings into the scheme on Friday, a day after 32 submissions from members of the public and health, justice and drug organisations were released. Health Minister Simon Corbell used the government’s official submission to the inquiry to raise the health and legal concerns, including citing a lack of “high quality evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis use” for terminally and chronically ill people. 

Calvary Mater Newcastle rejects medicinal cannabis allegations [ABC]

The Hunter’s biggest cancer hospital has distanced itself from the medicinal cannabis debate, after allegations a local dealer was supplying hospitals with marijuana. The big cancer hospital, Calvary Mater Newcastle says it has no involvement with medicinal cannabis. It says it has not purchased or been asked to buy it to give to patients and has not been approached by anyone to take part in a clinical trial. The ABC has been told patients at the hospital are obtaining it on a word-of-mouth basis and some doctors know they are using it. But the hospital says none of its doctors have requested that patients be supplied with the drug.

Police helicopter used to stop vehicle in drug chase [Coffs Coast Advocate]

The Nymboida and Halfway Creek areas have provided police with the largest daily seizure of marijuana plants in the history of the Cannabis Eradication Program.  The intelligence-based operation this week saw helicopter flights and ground-based police patrols of the region’s State Forests.  Police said a state record daily seizure of 1327 cannabis plants was made in the Nymboida area, eclipsing the 1100 plants seized on one day in the Richmond Local Area Command, two weeks ago.  Coffs Clarence Crime Manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said police seized a total of almost 2564 cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of $6.41 million.  “We are seeing strong, mature crops and some of the plants seized have been up to five metres tall.” So many plants were seized on Wednesday near Nymboida, the police helicopter had to make eight aerial lifts from bushland locations.  The front lawn of the town’s police station was carpeted with cannabis plants. The week-long operation has involved the State Crime Command’s Drug Squad, Coffs Clarence Police, Police Air Wing and Wireless Network Services (Police Radio).  “This has been an intelligence-based operation that has relied on information from the public, so it’s pleasing the community continues to rate cannabis as a significantly destructive drug and continues to provide us with information on growers and suppliers,” Insp. Jameson said.  “Cannabis remains an insidious drug causing long-term psychological effects on users as well as short-term medical issues. It remains a gateway drug and leads users to other stronger illicit, chemical drugs. We are extremely pleased how hard all police involved in the operation have worked and their successes will make a significant dent in the availability of cannabis in the command.” 

The Science Of Decriminalizing Drugs [Australian Popular Science]

The legal landscape for marijuana in the US has never looked this relaxed. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. voted during the recent election season to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Other states reduced the punishments for possessing small amounts of the drug, a move the American Academy of Pediatrics just endorsed. According to polls, more Americans than ever support legalizing Cannabis. As legal and public views shift, we thought we’d take a look at the science of decriminalizing drugs. What can science actually answer about the effects of looser drug laws?

Half-baked marijuana edibles policies pose public health risk, studies say [The Guardian]

Colorado and Washington do regulate edibles: the serving size must be indicated on labels, packaging cannot target children, and a label warns parents to “keep out of the reach of children”. But MacCoun and co-author Michelle Mello, a Harvard professor of law and public health, make further recommendations. Packaging of marijuana edibles should be clearly distinguishable from food, they say, and states should restrict the extent to which edibles can resemble well-known sweets, include clear dosing information and warnings about over-consumption on labels. “[Our article] is just an argument about, ‘Hey, there are some pretty common sense things that could be done to protect kids from bad outcomes,” MacCoun said. “There are steps that could be taken that wouldn’t really infringe upon the freedoms of adults who want to use marijuana edibles, but having brightly colored candies and soda pops is a recipe for problems.”

Colorado is facing a barrage of lawsuits over its legalisation of marijuana [News]

It will be some time before lawsuits will be ruled on, if they even get that far. An article published this week in the Washington Post cast doubt over the likelihood that any of the lawsuits could succeed. Randy Barnett, an attorney who litigated a Supreme Court case exploring the limits of the federal government’s Controlled Substances Act said in an interview, “Congress has no power to compel states to prohibit the cultivation, possession and transfer of marijuana.”

Fourteen Months Into A Four-Year Pilot Program, Illinois Medical Marijuana Patients Still Aren’t Getting Their Medicine[Inquisitr]

On August 1, 2013, Illinois’ then-governor Pat Quinn signed legislation making Illinois the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana – a four-year pilot program designed to begin on January 1, 2014 and automatically expire on December 31, 2018. Almost a year and a half since the program began, there are still no medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois, patients still can’t legally get their medicine, and there is no relief in sight. Even as the ink was drying on Illinois’ medical marijuana legislation, analysts were already calling the program one of the most restrictive in the nation, according to The Weed Blog. Patients have to have one of a limited number of qualifying conditions to qualify for a state-issued license to consume pot; patients have to have an “established relationship” with the doctor who prescribes the marijuana; and cultivators would have to compete for one of only 22 cultivation licenses – one cultivation center in each of Illinois’ 22 State Police districts. It’s those cultivation licenses – or, the lack thereof – that are creating agonizing delays in getting relief to marijuana patients in Illinois, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Nevada considers medical marijuana for pets [Sky News]

Dying pets in the US state of Nevada may soon be able to have medical marijuana. Nevada senator Tick Segerblom has introduced a bill, saying animal owners should be able to get marijuana for their pet if a vet certifies the animal has an illness that might be alleviated by the drug.

Support for Medical Marijuana on Both Sides of the Political Aisle [Drug Policy Alliance]

Medical marijuana has gained national legitimacy on both sides of the political aisle. The issue has reached a tipping point: 23 states have now passed medical marijuana laws and an additional 12 states have passed CBD oil laws. This means that medical marijuana is no longer viewed as a fringe issue for stoners, in predominantly liberal western and northeastern states, who just want to get high. Instead, the vast majority of Americans now favor making marijuana legally available to relieve patients’ pain and suffering. For example, even though it already has a CBD oil law, Florida residents have demonstrated that they are ready to grant patients broader access to marijuana for medical purposes.

America’s top doctor admits cannabis can be good for you [The Independent]

The top doctor in the US has acknowledged for the first time that marijuana has legitimate medical applications, potentially signalling a change in Washington’s attitude to the drug. Speaking to CBS this week, the new US Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, said: ”We have some preliminary data that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.” The 37-year-old, British-born physician took up the office of Surgeon General in December. Though he did not explicitly endorse legalising cannabis for medical purposes, he did suggest US drug policy ought to be science-led. “I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us,” he said.

USA CARERS Act [Medmen]

On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. If passed, this bill would allow banks, businesses, doctors, and, most importantly, patients to participate in state-legal medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution. The CARERS Act would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the definitions of the Controlled Substances Act. The Act would also remove low-THC strains from scheduling completely, meaning they would no longer be controlled substances. Families across America, regardless of their states of residence, would have easy access to the low-THC strains which have been shown (mostly anecdotally) togreatly help with epilepsy and other conditions for which conventional pharmaceuticals have not provided safe answers.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson calls Washington’s pot rules ‘worst-case scenario’ [Oregon Live]

Gary Johnson, former two-term governor of New Mexico and CEO of a marijuana company, told an audience of cannabis industry representatives that voters, not politicians, are propelling the legalization movement and that dynamic is likely to shift if California says yes to legal pot in 2016. Johnson, an outspoken legalization advocate who plans to run again for president in 2016, gave the keynote speech Sunday at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference. About 750 people are attending the two-day conference at the Eugene Hilton, said Alex Rogers, the event’s organizer. Johnson is CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a publicly traded company that produces marijuana-infused products.

Marijuana Will Be Legal Across America On March 25? — Sort Of [Inquisitr]

Lately, there have been headlines that state that marijuana will be legal soon — but it appears that no definite date or official announcement has been given. However, there is an ongoing court case, previously reported by the Inquisitr, that is finally going to be ruled on. In summary, it looks like marijuana will most likely begin to be officially legalized nationwide on March 25, 2015 — but maybe not.

Texas Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced [MPP Blog]

Today, Texas State Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso filed HB 3785 — the comprehensive, whole-plant medical marijuana bill that patients and advocates have been campaigning for. This marks a historical moment in Texas, as it is the first bill of its kind to be considered by the Texas Legislature.

A local government in Wash. state tries to corner the market on marijuana [MSN]

Deep in the Columbia River Gorge, a short drive from the Bridge of the Gods, the nation’s only government-run marijuana shop was running low on weed. The store had been open for just a few days. Inside, manager Robyn Legun was frantically trying to restock. Outside, five customers stood waiting for the doors to open. Someone cracked a joke about this being a typical government operation, always running late. But, of course, it’s not. This government store, bearing the cozy name Cannabis Corner, sells dozens of strains of marijuana and in several different forms, from pungent buds to infused cookies and coffee. It sells glass bongs and rolling papers. And it does it all at the direction of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority, making the local government uniquely dependent on this once-illicit drug. “If I don’t get this order in this morning, we’re going to be out for the weekend,” said Legun, 36, fretting over her inventory list. Legun used to manage a Bed Bath & Beyond. Now, she leads a team of 10 people trained to sell pot. Her new government job had her placing orders for Blue Magoo, Purple Kush and Pineapple Express. “I can’t believe this is my life,” she said.

Marijuana Legalization In Italy: Motion To Legalize Cannabis Receives Bi-Partisan Support [International Business Times]

Lawmakers in Italy have taken a bold stance on marijuana legalization, signing a motion Monday to legalize cannabis across the country, according to the ANSA news agency. The proposal, introduced by Sen. Benedetto Della Vedova, was backed by 60 politicians, mostly from the ruling center-left Democratic Party but with some support from the right. Della Vedova himself, a senator who also serves as the deputy foreign minister, was a longtime member of Italy’s small but influential Radical Party, which has campaigned since the 1970s to liberalize marijuana laws.  “It is a bipartisan proposition from members of the parliament of different political backgrounds,” Della Vedova told reporters, according to The Weed Blog. “This shows that even in Italy, a pragmatic approach, based on a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, is now increasingly popular in the political and cultural debate, not only outside but also inside the parliament.” The proposal hasn’t been turned into a bill yet, but Della Vedova promised it will be soon.  Marijuana is already decriminalized in Italy, but remains illegal for either medical or personal use. Possession of small amounts of pot is considered a misdemeanor. Offenders typically face fines or have their drivers’ licenses and passports temporarily suspended, but those caught growing the plant can face jail time.

Biking for better Cannabis Policy from Amsterdam to The Hague [The Stoned Society]

Because cannabis makes you lazy, right? Well, no. A report from the frontline of cannabis activism. Following the international success of the Medical Cannabis Bike Tour, which will finish this year in Amsterdam at Cannabis Liberation Day 2015, a couple of years ago a group of cannabis enthusiasts from the Netherlands formed Tour de Achterdeur.

Backdoor Medicine: How Marijuana Suppositories Can Save Lives [AlterNet]

There are many advantages to the rectal administration of cannabis not afforded by other routes. Medicine may still be administered even if the oral route is impaired (e.g., due to vomiting, an injured jaw or throat, or gastrointestinal difficulties) or disallowed due to the oral intake restrictions that are frequently required both before and after surgery. Avoiding the gastrointestinal tract also prevents first-pass metabolism by the stomach and liver, which break down many different molecules into their constituent parts (including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC), and allows the active constituents to reach the blood in much higher concentrations.

Cannabis Legalization Promotes Public Health and Safety [Fair Observer]

The available evidence demonstrates that criminalization has, at best, a marginal impact in deterring people from using drugs. Instead, rates of drug use are more likely to rise and fall in line with broader cultural, social or economic trends. This is the conclusion that research consistently comes to — that a country’s rates of drug use are influenced by factors other than its drug laws. How harsh those laws are does not seem to make much of a difference. The clear benefits of legally regulating cannabis do not, therefore, have to come at the expense of dramatic increases in consumption. Reductions in crime and violence, improvements in health, fewer otherwise law-abiding citizens criminalized, significant financial savings, and many other gains are all within reach for governments that decide to reclaim control of the cannabis trade. And with more and more political leaders beginning to recognize these benefits, the question increasingly being debated is not whether we should legally regulate cannabis, but how and when.

Has the war on drugs been lost? [BBC]

Forty-four years after President Nixon declared “war on drugs”, four US states have now agreed to legalise the sale of marijuanaand most Americans support legalisation.  Across the world, drug laws are being relaxed, from Uruguay to Portugal, Jamaica and the Czech Republic.  Does this mean the war on drugs has been lost?  The BBC World Service’s The Inquiry hears from four expert witnesses, including a former Colombian president and a drugs prosecutor turned defence lawyer.

Debating drugs: Explaining how they are a health, rather than a criminal justice, issue [Transform]

It is often stated that drugs are primarily a health issue. Indeed, this has become a common refrain in the high-level drugs debate. This is a useful point to emphasise because it highlights just how anomalous the status of prohibited drugs is in the context of wider health policy. It raises the following questions:

  • If drugs are primarily a health issue, why is the primary response punitive in nature, involving the police and military, rather than doctors and health professionals?
  • In which other areas of public health do we criminalise patients or key populations we are aiming to help?

Drug-related issues cut across a range of policy areas, but for illegal drugs the balance has shifted to the point where consideration of public health has been increasingly marginalised by an excessive focus on enforcement, as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has itself noted.

Cannabis Oil is Gathering Unstoppable Momentum As A World Class Healer [Earth We Are One]

Cannabis oil is gathering an unstoppable momentum as a world class healer, and there is little or nothing Western Governments are going to be able to do stop it. Cases are popping up all over the world showing that cannabis oil has healed some very serious diseases, including anxiety disorders, epilepsy, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), cerebral palsy and cancer. This young man healed his stage IV throat, stomach and pancreatic cancer with cannabis oil. This Australian women healed her terminal stage IV lung cancer with it. Wallace Rose in the video clip above explains how cannabis oil cured his stage IV pancreatic cancer.  It is a fundamental human right, no matter where you live on the planet, to be able to access and use whatever medicine you want to heal yourself. And, thankfully, we are beginning to see that Governments worldwide will not have the power to stand in the way of this natural right any longer.

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