Embassy Headlines, Issue 145


Breeding Contempt [Consequence]

Breaking the law and feeling pleasure is easily achieved with Cannabis.

Over time, the association of criminal and natural behaviour becomes closely tied. Obeying the law and denying harmless pleasure for no logical reason, continues to perpetuate resentment and disrespect for the current legal system.

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.

Lucy Haslam: government too slow on medical marijuana [Sydney Morning Herald]

Lucy Haslam, the mother of the late medical marijuana campaigner, Dan, has criticised the state government for moving too slowly to provide the drug to the ill. Ms Haslam, whose son died in February five years after being diagnosed with cancer, testified before a federal Senate inquiry held at the NSW Parliament on Tuesday. “We cannot afford to wait for the results of clinical trials,” Ms Haslam said. “Don’t dismiss the urgent need of people now. If someone with a terminal illness says that their pain is less … what are we worried about? The long-term side effects of using medicinal cannabis are completely irrelevant to that person.” The inquiry was held to discuss a federal bill, sponsored by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, and with support from major party MPs, that would have the federal government license businesses to grow and import medical marijuana.

Lucy Haslam takes her medicinal cannabis campaign to the Federal Parliament [ABC]

Mrs Haslam again commended the Baird Government for its support of the push and clinical trials, but she said she remained concerned for people who need access now. She said she’d like to see the NSW Government introduce a ‘ compassionate amnesty’. “I just think in this period where we don’t really know what we’re doing, but where people are clearly using medicinal cannabis for medicinal reasons and they need to continue to use it, like children with intractable epilepsy, let’s make it safe for them. They don’t want to be worrying about a knock on the door from children’s services and they want to be able to talk about it with their doctor.” She also said the Terminal Access Scheme is a good start and protects people to a point. “The quantities are insufficient, and it doesn’t cover minors, so there are two areas that could be improved.” She said. She would also like a change in the law to allow scientists to legally test tinctures to check to quality of the cannabis oil.

OPINION: Marijuana too toxic to be legal [The Chronicle]

The toxic properties of marijuana and the damage they cause our bodies and brain are not matters of opinion or debate. They have been conclusively found to be dangerous. This is not determined by judges, politicians, scientifically uneducated lawyers, or so-called “doctors” who might want to prescribe it. It very sad to see that some people who are now or have been in positions of authority in the United States and now in Australia being so naive in regards to illegal drugs. Drug policy needs to focus on children’s rights-to live a safe, healthy life, free of illicit drugs and research studies have recently confirmed what many parents already know – children learn parenting practices from their parents and use those methods to raise their own children.

[Ed: Under this opinion piece from Drug Free Australia, check out the results of the reader poll “Should medical marijuana be legalised?” 92% say “yes”.]

Concerns over medicinal cannabis use [9 News]

There are fears a move to legalise the use of cannabis for pain relief will bypass regulators and place patients at risk. The Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine is concerned a private bill, proposed by the Australian Greens, will allow medicinal cannabis to escape scrutiny from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. More medical research was needed to ascertain the exact dosages needed for relief of pain, Dr Maureen Mitchell told a Senate inquiry hearing in Canberra on Monday. But she said she wasn’t completely opposed to medicinal cannabis use.

Australian Medical Association warns of cannabis risk from Greens plan [Canberra Times]

Canberra-doctors do not support a proposed medical cannabis scheme for the ACT, representatives of the Australian Medical Association told a Legislative Assembly committee.  Giving evidence at a public hearing on Tuesday, ACT association branch president Elizabeth Gallagher rejected a proposal from Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury for medical cannabis, describing it as “too ad hoc” and without strict enough regulation to be safe and effective. Dr Gallagher said the scheme’s proposal for doctors to provide permits to patients for growing their own medical cannabis plants would be problematic and open to misuse. Last month the association called for more clinical research and for a national approach to cannabis being used for health outcomes.

More than $22 million in cannabis destroyed during the Cannabis Eradication Program [NSW Police]

Since it was established in the 1980s, the Cannabis Eradication Program has seized and destroyed plants with an estimated potential street value of $300 million.  Commander of the Drug Squad, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said the program will continue to be a major strategy for police to target outdoor cannabis crops. “It is also an invaluable tool for ongoing investigations into cannabis cultivation by the Drug Squad and local area commands across the state,” Det Supt Cooke said. “Preventing large amounts of cannabis will have an impact on the availability of cannabis in these areas, disrupt the supply chain, and minimise the harm caused by the drug,” he said.

Now election is over, NSW badly needs a drug summit [Sydney Morning Herald]

The solution will not be found in law enforcement alone, but in improved education, better treatment, support for families, improved harm reduction strategies and targeted help for affected communities. It is a pity the federal inquiry into ice announced on Friday will be so focused on law enforcement. There is no better time for NSW to harness the expertise of its population and lead the way in devising a broader strategy to tackle this destructive and pervasive drug problem.

Australia Needs to Talk About Drug Sniffing Dogs [Vice]

Shoebridge believes drug dog operations are being conducted so that police and the government can be seen to be taking effective action against drugs, in order to appease certain segments of the community.  “They know it has no impact on supply. They know it has adverse impacts in terms of users responding by preloading or by consuming their drugs in an instant when they see the dogs. This is about being seen to do something on the war on drugs that they are patently losing,” he said.  This last summer season of music festivals has been notable for large scale drug dog operations. The standard operating procedures for NSW Police outline that every dog deployed at an event must be accompanied by 12 officers. Shoebridge feels this is an extraordinary misallocation of police resources that could be better directed to public safety in other areas where it is needed.

Comment: Drug dogs barking up wrong tree [Alt Media]

Drug dog operations on public transport do not target serious drug crime. Organised crime syndicates transporting millions of dollars’ worth of methamphetamines can afford cars. The use of drug dogs on trains disproportionately affects the people that are normally caught up in “tough on crime” policy – young people, poor people, and Aboriginal people. For example, a rail passenger at Redfern is 6.5 times more likely to be searched than a passenger at Central. When they voted to expand police powers, politicians from the major parties already knew that drug dogs were less effective on public transport – searches on public transport in 2011 found nothing 74 percent of the time, higher than the state average. Now that we know that the expansion has been a continuing failure, the government and opposition have no excuses for maintaining this program which targets the most vulnerable in our community.

Drug smuggler hides 20g of cannabis in lamb pot roast on Darwin flight to Tiwi Islands [ABC]

Illegal drugs such as cannabis command exorbitant prices in many Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and suppliers find “ingenious” ways to smuggle and hide them, he said. “There’s no limit of how much food or products they will try and use to smuggle gear out,” he said. In the past, police have found drugs hidden among coffee beans and laundry powder. Unlawfully supplying cannabis to another in the Northern Territory attracts a maximum five years imprisonment. “It is a small amount of cannabis,” he said. “The problem you have is on Indigenous communities where people haven’t got a large amount of money and the dealers are tyring to rip the community off. The lamb roast was destroyed while the cannabis has been sent to the forensics centre for testing, he said.

Synthetic drug raids aid organised crime: lobby group [Brisbane Times]

The Queensland police officer responsible for Tuesday’s widespread raids on shops selling synthetic drugs has laughed off claims the action will push the drugs onto the street. The lobby group representing adult shops, the Eros Association, warned the raids on 19 herbal and adult shops would simply shift the synthetic drugs, which it refers to as social tonics, from stores to dealers on the street.

Colorado: Crime down since pot legalised, should we follow? [Northern Star]

“It’s time to get the police out of what is a health or a social issue.”

Cannabis in Colorado [4ZZZ]

Ms Guidance visited Denver, Colorado recently as an ambassador for the Nimbin Hemp Embassy. Colorado is one of four US states that have decided to regulate recreational cannabis use and it is one of the most advanced models of a regulated cannabis industry in the world. In this interview with 4ZZZ’s JOHN JIGGENS, she talks about the system of cannabis regulation in Colorado.

DEA agent arrested for stealing Silk Road bitcoins also orchestrated murder-for-hire scheme [Daily Dot]

The former undercover federal agent who was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing bitcoins from the online black market Silk Road also helped orchestrate a fake assassination scheme allegedly carried out by Silk Road’s founder Ross Ulbricht, according to the agent’s deleted LinkedInpage. Carl Mark Force IV, a 46-year-old former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer, has been charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, and money laundering. He allegedly sold information about the government investigation and stole over $500,000 in bitcoins, the digital cryptocurrency, for himself during the federal investigation into Silk Road.  “The fact that Ross’ attorneys were not permitted to use this important information at trial was devastating to Ross’ defense,” mother Lyn Ulbricht told the Daily Dot. “These revelations of corruption cast doubt on the integrity of the entire investigation and the government’s case, including accusations of murder-for-hire, which we have always been certain were false.” Force, who was central to the investigation of Ulbricht and Silk Road, played the single biggest role in the most damning charges leveled against Ulbricht: allegedly paying for the assassination and torture of a once-trusted confidant.

Willie Nelson To Launch ‘Willie’s Reserve’ Marijuana Brand [The Music]

According to an interview on The Daily Beast, the formerly red-headed stranger is making the move into the legal cannabis market in Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and any other states where the drug can be sold freely, looking to get a slice of that sweet, sweet fledgling billion-dollar industry with his own line of pot dubbed Willie’s Reserve. “Well, you know, Willie has spent a lifetime in support of cannabis, both the industrial hemp side and the marijuana side,” legalisation advocate and Willie’s Reserve spokesman Michael Bowman told The Daily Beast. “He wants it to be something that’s reflective of his passion. Ultimately, it’s his. But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy war on drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we’re trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition.”

Pot luck: Americans line up for biggest legal marijuana giveaway [Sydney Morning Herald]

Washington DC witnessed a massive, public drug deal on Thursday – and for those involved, it was quite a bargain. With District of Columbia police officers looking on, hundreds of city residents lined up and then walked away from a restaurant carrying plastic baggies filled with marijuana seeds. Taking advantage of a ballot measure approved last fall by voters that legalised possession of the plant, the unprecedented giveaway scattered what organisers said were thousands of pot seeds to cultivate in homes and apartments across the nation’s capital.

Pot bill passes without Kelly’s marijuana concentrate ban [News Miner]

Pictures of blown-up homes, pot-infused candy and a dire warning that weed edibles will kill children weren’t enough to ignite support for a Fairbanks senator’s amendment to ban marijuana concentrates in 2017. Republican Sen. Pete Kelly’s attempt to criminalize marijuana concentrates when the two-year constitutional protection for Ballot Measure 2 expires fell flat on the Senate floor Monday, with many fellow Republicans and urban Democrats concerned the ban was an overreaction that undermined voter intent.

Marijuana cultivation in California is sucking streams dry, says new report [The Guardian]

With its dense forests, foggy climate and rugged coastline, California’s Humboldt County has long been synonymous with its biggest cash crop: marijuana. Cannabis has thrived here — both before and since the state legalized it for medical purposes in 1996. The industry has been booming in the last few years, and with little regulation it has had a huge impact on the environment. A report, published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife earlier this month, quantifies some of that impact for the first time. Researchers looked at marijuana plants grown outdoors, including those in greenhouses, on private land. They found that marijuana farming is overtaxing creeks during the growing season, which runs from May to September, a period of little rainfall in the state, the report notes. The water usage is so intense, in fact, that water diverted for marijuana cultivation likely exceeds stream flow in certain areas.

Marijuana Safety Scares: Not If, But When [MedMen]

Last week saw several major articles about the cleanliness and safety of Marijuana practices:

Sadly, these marijuana safety scares are a growing trend, and until cultivators and producers are held to higher standards, we will see many more of these types of incidents in the future.

Election 2015: Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Party [BBC]

Using alcohol causes violence and induces crime, unlike cannabis, said the leader of Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Party (CISTA). Paul Birch said he would prefer his own adult children to use the drug, rather than drink wine. He spoke to Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics, along with former Tory leader Lord Howard, about the election policies of the party, which he created and funded with £100,000.

POLL: Should cannabis ever be legalised? [Irish Examiner]

Senator James Heffernan and Dr Chris Luke lay out the pros and cons for leagalising cannabis in Ireland. Have your say in our poll below.

Kofi Annan: The War on Drugs Has Failed in West Africa and Around the World [Vice]

As I have maintained in the past, drugs may have destroyed many people, but wrong governmental policies have destroyed many more. Let us not repeat this mistake. We cannot expect governments to solve all problems on their own. Civil society must also be closely involved as well as the international community, which cannot leave West Africa alone to tackle this menace. It too must play its part. State institutions, civil societies, and regional organizations must all work together for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

Cannabis and Cancer [Cannabis Law Reform UK]

Not entirely unexpectedly, feathers flew on the CLEAR Facebook page this week when an extract from the forthcoming CLEAR document ‘Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence’ was published. You can read the article that caused such outrage for yourself – There Is No Scientific Evidence That Cannabis Cures Cancer In Humans – Yet.

The 5 Biggest Obstacles Facing Medical Marijuana [The Motley Fool]

Lifting the ban on medical marijuana could open the door for more cannabinoid research, considering it would remove a lot of the hurdles GW currently needs to jump over before it can begin testing its products in human clinical studies. For GW Pharmaceuticals, this would be something of a dream come true, as it could have a winner in Epidiolex, a CBD-based therapy designed to treat two rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy, and the company would like to further examine cannabinoids’ effect on a number of inflammatory and neurological diseases and disorders. Of course, these obstacles are precisely why GW Pharmaceuticals’ current valuation of close to $2 billion makes it such a scary investment — at least for the time being. With losses expected throughout the remainder of the decade, unless the federal government shifts its view of marijuana in a notable way, GW could turn out to be nothing more than a bad gamble for investors. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: While marijuana may have loads of potential, it makes for a poor investment opportunity as long as so many unknowns remain to be addressed.

Psychedelic Drugs ‘Safe as Riding a Bike or Playing Soccer’ [Newsweek]

Psychedelic drugs like MDMA and magic mushrooms are as safe as riding a bike or playing soccer, and bans against them are “inconsistent with human rights”, according to the authors of a letter published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal today. The letter, written by Boston-born Teri Krebs, research fellow within the Department of Neuroscience at the Norway University of Science and Technology and her Norwegian husband Pål-Ørjan Johansen, stresses that national and international policies must respect the rights of individuals who chose to use psychedelics as a spiritual, personal development, or cultural activity. “Although psychedelics can induce temporary confusion and emotional turmoil, hospitalizations and serious injuries are extremely rare. Overall psychedelics are not particularly dangerous when compared with other common activities,” says Krebs.


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