Slow lane thinking [lickety-split]
Cannabis can cure ‘road rage’ and other aggressive conditions. But we can expect more rage on the road and the social media as the quest to raise revenue and lower respect via saliva testing steps up a notch.
Responsible use of Cannabis is better for road safety than any other therapeutic substance but our laws are yet to catch up with common sense.
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.
Medicinal Cannabis Supporters please help. We are getting much closer to making meaningful law change in Australia[change.org]
Please help me keep up the fight in Dan’s memory by reading and responding to the following message about the Federal Medicinal Cannabis Bill which will be considered in the Senate in the next couple of months.
Hemposium @ 23rd MardiGrass – 1-3 May Nimbin
We are pleased to present some mind bending action at this year’s Hemposium at the 23rd MardiGrass – in the Nimbin Town Hall and Indica Arena – where we pull back the curtain to reveal creative, happening and abundant places around the globe basking in the post-prohibition green glow. As Australia is just yawning and waking up to the benefits of medical cannabis, the MardiGrass Hemposium will be an important crossroads to learn, share and network about our favourite plant ally and healing herb.
On Friday 1 May we plan a drug law reform day of talks and panels, while Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May will be devoted to medical and industrial cannabis.
There is an impressive line up of international speakers from North America who will showcase their medical cannabis methods, discuss cutting edge advances in cannabis science, and share their experiences with the evolution of law reform. We’re excited to welcome Dr David Bearman from California who is a world leader in the field of cannabinoid medicine; from Canada, Ajia Mae Moon, creator of WeedWoman, and founder and owner of Threehappycats; and from the booming green economy of Colorado, Abe Acton and Matthew Appleseed from High Country Cannabis Tours.
We are also excited to announce an outstanding line-up of Australian based post-prohibition proponents and medical cannabis experts including Senator Richard Di Natale, Dr Alex Wodak [Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation], Dr David Caldicott [ACT investigation of Novel Substances Group], Fiona Patten [Sex Party MLC, Victoria], David Shoebridge [Greens MLC, NSW] Will Tregoning [UnHarm], Damon Adams [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition], Dr Andrew Katelaris, Tony Bower [Mullaways Medical Cannabis], as well as a magnificent array of local medicine folk.
The three medical cannabis workshops held in the Nimbin Town Hall this year have attracted big numbers of the newly emerging and increasingly visible Australian cannabis demographic – families with extremely ill children, and people dealing with chronic pain and often terminal illness. It’s time this magnificent herb was welcomed into mainstream Australian life, and the persecution and prejudice to stop. Medical cannabis has been a growing international phenomenon over the last few decades, and Australia is only now starting to catch on and catch up. The Hemposium brings together speakers and doers from Nth America and Oz, and aims to expand the mind as much as that special weed herself. We look forward to making the Hemposium a space to inform, learn, agitate, inspire and connect in this massively important green revolution. Come help us get the police out of healTHCare!
Australia: Medical cannabis ‘inevitable’ [YouTube]
There’s a wave of support in the community and politically for medicinal cannabis says Greens Senator Richard Di Natale.
Sixteen benefits from the ‘War on Drugs’ [Julian Buchanan]
It is widely assumed that the so called ‘war on drugs’ (the war between drugs), has been a disastrous failure, and faced with mounting evidence and criticism, governments would eventually seek legislative and policy change. The evidence presented is largely based upon an analysis of the inability of drug prohibition to reduce the supply and demand for banned substances, supplemented by a critique outlining the widespread harms caused by prohibition. However, with a different agenda and focus, it might be that this ‘evidence’ in terms of the failure to dent supply and demand, has over time (fifty years), become secondary to other, government and business interests. Seen in a different light, the Drug War has been a major success, providing considerable opportunities and benefits:
- It protects the market share and place, of the privileged and promoted legal drugs; – alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, sugar and pharmaceuticals.
- It provides the police with excellent powers to easily stop, search, arrest and interrogate.
- It successfully attracts much needed funding for police, armed services and security services.
- It provides excellent opportunities for significant additional resources for the police/state through the seizure of assets.
- It provides excellent business opportunities and raw material for the ever burgeoning penal industrial complex.
- It provides considerable opportunities for new technology development and sales, in the invasive and expanding drug testing industry.
- It provides the drug rehabilitation business with an endless supply of illicit users, who must always abstain, and forever be in recovery.
- It provides excellent opportunities for the state to target, monitor, control and punish the poor, indigenous people, Black and minority ethnic groups and people of colour.
- It provides politicians with a societal scapegoat, and the chance to rally support and votes by getting ‘tough’ on this constructed enemies within: the ‘addict’; and the ‘demon drugs’.
- It provides the news media with easy, cheap dirty stories and pictures of the apparent horrors associated with illicit drug use, and this sell ‘news’.
- It provides a much needed distraction from the serious problems caused by the more harmful, addictive and culturally embedded legal drugs – alcohol, tobacco, sugar and pharmaceuticals.
- It rallies otherwise disparate nations together by finding common ground to fight a shared war against a global enemy – ‘drugs’.
- It provides the Banks with massive investments from money laundering.
- It provides researchers and academics will a constant and reliable stream of research funding to search for negative evidence to uphold prohibition, support moral panics (reefer madness, crack babies etc), and in providing endless monitoring studies of drug prevalence.
- It allows governments to detract attention from the real structural drivers behind most addiction (inequality, stigma, exclusion, poverty and blocked opportunities) and instead misleadingly shift attention onto the supposed ‘demonising power’ of the illicit drug.
- It provides careers for drug enforcement and drug policy entrepreneurs, (particularly centred around he UN) allowing excellent opportunities for travel and internationally career enhancement. The inertia is consolidated by numerous meetings, events, conferences, working parties, inquiries, reviews and committees.
If these are key drivers that sustain the war between drugs, then endless research reports and campaigns appealing to the beneficiaries of this drug war, (by highlighting the limited impact prohibition has upon supply and demand, or the negative unintended outcomes from criminalisation), may have limited political impact or sway in the face of at least sixteen significant benefits.
Lose prohibition to help win war on drugs [Sydney Morning Herald]
A single news story on Good Friday showed everything wrong with the way Australia fights the war on drugs. We blame users rather than help them. We make criminals out of young fun seekers rather than protect them from harm. And we leave to organised crime a massive industry which sucks billions from governments, rather than policing a business which could be regulated and taxed. As that notable journal for hippies, The Economist, concluded last year: “By legalising cannabis from cultivation to retail, [Uruguay, Colorado and Washington] have snatched the industry away from crooks and given it to law-abiding entrepreneurs. Unlike the mafia, they pay tax and obey rules on where, when and to whom they can sell their products. Money saved on policing weed can be spent on chasing real criminals or on treatment for addicts.” There is no doubt police and politicians across the country care about the health of people who use drugs. But their strategy needs to drastically change to win their war. Legalisation is not defeatist, nor does it make drug consumption either compulsory or desirable.
A federal judge in California declined on Wednesday to remove marijuana from the list of most dangerous drugs. US district judge Kimberly Mueller issued the ruling in response to a motion by defense attorneys to dismiss charges in a case that authorities say involves a marijuana growing operation. It will probably be appealed. The case was unusual in that Mueller decided to consider marijuana’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 drugs include heroin and LSD and are defined as drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug has brought states that have legalized medical marijuana into conflict with federal authorities, leading to raids on growers and dispensaries that appear to be operating legally under state law. Mueller said during a 15-minute court hearing that she was initially prepared to grant the defense’s motion but then decided from the facts of this particular case that “this is not the court and this is not the time”. Attorneys for the defendants had argued that marijuana was far less harmful than legal drugs, and its classification as a Schedule 1 drug was arbitrary in violation of the constitution. They also said the government enforced marijuana laws unevenly, allowing its distribution in states that have legalized it while cracking down elsewhere. Prosecutors said marijuana met all the criteria for a Schedule 1 drug, saying it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. They also argued that Mueller did not have jurisdiction to consider how marijuana was classified. Mueller held a fact-finding hearing about the drug’s classification last year that included prosecution and defense experts who testified about marijuana. The criminal complaint filed in 2011 named 16 defendants and accused them of conspiring to grow at least 1,000 cannabis plants as part of a marijuana operation that included land in Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California.
Researchers have been studying the medical benefits of marijuana for years, but this month marks the first time the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a research group funded by the US government, has acknowledged that cannabis extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. NIDA quietly revised a page on its website titled, “DrugFacts: Is Marijuana Medicine?” this month to state that, “Evidence from one cell culture study suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors.” The update acknowledges research published last November in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapiesby scientists from St. George’s, University of London. The researchers found that THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in weed, and cannabidiol, an extract, caused “dramatic reductions” in the growth of glioma tumors in mice. Glioma accounts for 80 percent of malignant brain tumors in humans.
Marijuana can kill cancer cells, says US government-funded research [The Independent UK]
The US government may be starting to officially recognize medicinal benefits of marijuana, as a government-funded research group has released a report claiming that weed can kill cancer cells. The Daily Caller reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse has issued a report that recognizes potential medical benefits of marijuana, something the US government has rejected in its classification of pot as a Schedule I drug – along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. “Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others,” the NIDA report said. “Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumours. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
US Medical Marijuana Under Attack [Drug Policy Alliance]
Last year, we scored an historic victory that bans the Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws for one year. But the agency recently declared it will ignore the Congressional mandate and continue prosecuting people for medical marijuana. Medical marijuana will never be safe unless we change federal law permanently — and the CARERS Act is the unprecedented chance to do it. Tell your U.S. House Representatives to support the bill.
Today nearly half of the legislators who sit on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, including the chairman and ranking Democrat, expressed “no confidence” in Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They were disappointed not by her failure to win that darn war on drugs already but by her lenient treatment of DEA agents accused of having wild sex parties underwritten by Colombian drug traffickers and American taxpayers. “After over a decade of serving in top leadership positions at DEA,” said 20 of the committee’s 43 members, “Administrator Leonhart has been woefully unable to change or positively influence the pervasive ‘good old boy’ culture that exists throughout the agency. From her testimony, it is clear that she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position. Ms. Leonhart has lost the confidence of this Committee to initiate the necessary reforms to restore the reputation of a vital agency.”
DEA chief in hot seat over sex scandal [The Hill]
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is in the hot seat over allegations that federal agents engaged in illegal sex parties paid for by drug cartels. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart “looked the other way” and let the federal agents off with “essentially a vacation” as a punishment for having sex with Colombian prostitutes, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday during a hearing. “So these agents compromised our national security and then essentially got a vacation,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) charged. “The punishment for this was two to 10 days off paid leave.” Both Republicans and Democrats took shots at Leonhart, with some calling for “new leadership” at the DEA. She’ll be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday testifying before what promises to be an equally hostile House Judiciary Committee hearing. The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report on March 26, accusing DEA agents of participating in sex parties funded by the drug cartels they were supposed to be investigating.
Marijuana Taxes Won’t Save State Budgets [New York Times]
But even if Colorado got all this right, improved revenues would not be among the most important effects that marijuana legalization has on the state. “Tax revenue is nice to have, but in most states is not going to be enough to change the budget picture significantly,” Mr. Kleiman says. “The stakes in reducing criminal activity and incarceration and protecting public health are way higher than the stakes in generating revenue.” Mr. Kleiman has advocated an alternative legalization model, currently being introduced in Washington, D.C., in which cultivation, possession and use are permitted but sales are not. One goal of this model is to avoid the creation of a commercial marijuana sector that markets its products aggressively. A downside of the model is that there are no legal sales on which to collect taxes — but as Colorado shows, Washington, D.C., may not be giving up that much, fiscally.
We believe cannabis is a life-changing plant that’s lugging around an old, out-dated public persona. Nobody blinks an eye if you say you like a glass of wine. Admit you use cannabis and bring on the judgement & stereotypes! But it doesn’t make sense… because over 180 million people around the world use cannabis. Can the stigma really apply to all those people? We don’t think so… That’s why our mission at Green Flower Media is to produce original content that educates people about the real facts, science, and benefits of cannabis, plus tell the captivating stories of amazing people who use this plant for creativity, healing, and connection. That way, the social stigma shifts and everyone who chooses to use cannabis, can do it in a healthy, responsible, and safe way.
Simultaneous drinking and smoking marijuana increases odds of drunk driving and other dangers [EurekAlert]
Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among adults who drink, besides tobacco, yet no study has directly compared those who use cannabis and alcohol simultaneously, or at the exact same time, versus those who use both separately and on a regular basis. A new study looks at the relationship between marijuana and alcohol use, finding that simultaneous users had double the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and harms to self. Results will be published in the May 2015 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. “There has been some disagreement regarding whether using cannabis and alcohol together is more dangerous than using either alone,” said Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, corresponding author for the study and associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute. “My study is the first to compare how simultaneous and concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis relate to drunk driving and other social consequences among adults, and the first to examine differences between simultaneous and concurrent users in terms of demographics and substance use quantity/frequency. In this study, concurrent means having used both alcohol and cannabis within the previous 12 months, but always separately.”
Livestream of Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) Explaining Benefits of Marijuana Legalization Today [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition]
University of Colorado-Boulder is hosting the 2015 Cannabis Symposium to educate students and raise awareness about successful marijuana legalization policies, and to set a new standard for drug and policy education around the country. The closing plenary speaker is Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war. Maj. Franklin has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, and can attest to the failures of drug prohibition. He will explain why legalizing marijuana has had a positive impact on reducing violence caused by the drug war, and improving public safety overall. His speech will be live streamed to campuses throughout the country. You can watch it here: http://www.colorado.edu/law/live.
Smoking Marijuana for 50 Years, and Turning Out Just Fine [New York Times]
Just in case people approached her story waiting for the Lifetime movie moment of regret and picking up the pieces of a broken life, she started her book in the present day, flashing back, if you will, to the rest of her life. As a writer — she has published novels and short stories — the approach was an entertaining challenge. As a wife, daughter of an activist and proud mother of three young men, she wanted to show that her life turned out nicely. “I wanted to show people that smoking marijuana did not make me hit rock bottom,” Ms. Hiller, 68, said. “My story is the story of so many people who use each day. And so what? What’s the issue? What will it lead to?”
Vox’s Anand Katakam created an interactive map with data from Fatal Encounters, a nonprofit trying to build a national database of police killings. It shows some of the deaths by law enforcement since 2000.
Wiretap Report 2013 [US Courts]
Surprised the DEA’s surveillance is as aggressive as the NSA’s? Here’s a chart of law enforcement wiretaps by crime:
What are the latest drug market trends and what are the factors driving them? What are the most recent developments in drug prevention, treatment and policy? How many new drugs were detected in Europe over the last year and what are the consequences for those using them? These and other questions will be explored by the EMCDDA on 4 June in its annual overview of the European drug situation.
GLOBAL PRISON TRENDS 2015 [Penal Reform International]
The recommendation that, wherever possible, drug problems should be seen as medical rather than criminal justice questions, points the way both to imprisoning fewer drug offenders and treating those drug users who are in prison more effectively.
We must take the fight to the traffickers along maritime routes, says UNODC Chief [UN Office on Drugs and Crime]
The Indian Ocean could become a haven for criminal activity, participants heard at an event held at the 13th Crime Congress for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha. “Recent research conducted by the Global Maritime Crime Programme indicates an increase in Dhow traffic between known departure points for heroin trafficking and the east coast of Africa and South Asia, with traffickers adopting innovative concealment methods and using several drop-off points to smaller vessels,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. To counter this, more robust responses to maritime drug trafficking were needed from the international community he said. Comparing the fight against crime on the high seas with that on land, Mr. Fedotov underscored it was imperative that the maritime domain was not ignored.
Politicians may not like it, but evidence shows that giving heroin to some users reduces harm, argues Martin T Schechter.
Legalise cannabis and ecstasy as medicines, expert tells Scots [Herald Scotland]
Professor David Nutt – sacked by the last UK Labour government after saying some drugs were less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco – has long campaigned for decriminalisation. Now, with other campaigners, Prof Nutt wants to see the SNP use its Westminster influence after next month’s general election to push through reform north of the border on cannabis and MDMA, the scientific name of ecstasy. The psychiatrist said: “Scotland has its own health service and it’s perfectly possible for Scotland to say we want to start developing cannabis and MDMA medicines that would have a massive impact on not only the patient base in Scotland but also on the economy of Scotland. I’m going to campaign for Scottish scientists to actually take the world forward where there are bans on useful medicines like cannabis and MDMA to an enlightened attitude that is world leading. I think Scotland can do that.”
Cannabis smokers warned they risk poorer exam grades [The Guardian]
If you want to do well in your exams, especially maths, don’t smoke dope. This is the finding of a unique study that is likely to be fiercely debated by those in favour of and those against the liberalisation of cannabis laws. Economists Olivier Marie of Maastricht University and Ulf Zölitz of IZA Bonn examined what happened in Maastricht in 2011 when the Dutch city allowed only Dutch, German and Belgian passport-holders access to the 13 coffee shops where cannabis was sold. The temporary restrictions were introduced because of fears that nationals from other countries, chiefly France and Luxembourg, were visiting the city simply to smoke drugs, which would tarnish its genteel image. After studying data on more than 54,000 course grades achieved by students from around the world who were enrolled at Maastricht University before and after the restrictions were introduced, the economists came to a striking conclusion. In a paper recently presented at the Royal Economic Society conference in Manchester they revealed that those who could no longer legally buy cannabis did better in their studies. The restrictions, the economists conclude, constrained consumption for some users, whose cognitive functioning improved as a result.
Levels of drug consumption in Portugal are now among the lowest in the European Union. No surprise, the decriminalization of low-level drug possession has also resulted in a dramatic decline in drug arrests, from more than 14,000 per year to roughly 6,000 once the new policies were implemented. The percentage of drug-related offenders in Portuguese prisons decreased as well — from 44 percent in 1999 to under 21 percent in 2012. HIV infection is an area where the results are clear. Before the law, more than half of Portugal’s HIV-infected residents were drug addicts. Each year brought 3,000 new diagnoses of HIV among addicts. Today, addicts consist of only 20 percent of HIV-infected patients.
Chile harvests first marijuana plants in project to help ease the pain of cancer sufferers [The Independent UK]
Chile has harvested its first crop of medicinal marijuana as part of a pilot programme that is aimed to ease the pain of cancer sufferers. Cameras were allowed in to see the first harvested marijuana plants being picked at the heavily guarded growing facility in the La Florida district of Chile’s capital Santiago. The 850 cannabis seeds from the Netherlands, were first planted in October following a decision by Chilean health authorities to allow marijuana to be grown for medicinal purposes. The pilot that is co-run by La Florida municipality and pain-relieving therapy charity the Daya Foundation, will see cannabis oil extracted from the plants and given to 200 selected cancer sufferers.
Just like US military adventures in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the US-Mexico war on drugs has only left a larger problem in place, while producing blowback here at home. A particularly nasty example is the cartels’ use of serving US military personnel and veterans as hit men here in the United States. But the effects are far bigger than that. The DEA toldthe Washington Post that Mexican cartels are operating in more than 1,200 US cities. In all those cities, the failed war on drugs has put in prison 2.3 million people — in vastly disproportionate numbers from communities of color — without cutting demand by one single kilo. And yet, though that war has only visibly increased the drug problem in the same way that the war on terror has generated ever more terror organizations, in both cases there’s no evidence that any other course than war is being considered in Washington.
Drugs and democracy in Myanmar [Unharm]
There’s increasing awareness that many of the greatest harms of global drug policy are borne in the developing world. In a timely article in the lead up to the UN General Assembly on drug policy in 2016, Gerad Collingwood looks at the way drugs and drug policy have undermined democracy and development in Myanmar, enriching a tiny elite while compounding the disadvantage and suffering of some of the poorest members of society. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a major source of heroin and methamphetamine for the Australian, Southeast Asian and East Asian markets. It’s been a military dictatorship for decades but since 2010 Myanmar has been transitioning towards a democracy. For any country this is a difficult process but the drug trade in Myanmar is so big and so pervasive that it has major impacts on the country’s development and political prospects.
In Jamaica, Obama Labels War on Drugs ‘Counterproductive’ [The Weekly Standard]
Barack Obama took a shot at the war on drugs at a town hall event today in Jamaica. The president, responding to a question from an audience member, even went so far as to call the effort “counterproductive.” “I am a very strong believer that the path that we have taken in the United States in the so-called “War on Drugs” has been so heavy in emphasizing incarceration that it has been counterproductive. You have young people who did not engage in violence who get very long penalties, get placed in prison, and then are rendered economically unemployable, are almost pushed into, then, the underground economy, learn crime more effectively in prison, families are devastated. So it’s been very unproductive. And what we’re trying to do is to reform our criminal justice system. And the good news is there has actually been some interest on the part of unlikely allies like the evangelical community or some otherwise very conservative Republicans, because it’s very expensive to incarcerate people, and a recognition that this may not be the best approach. So that’s one issue.”
Psymposia organizes talks that explore issues surrounding plants, ecology, sustainability, community, drugs & psychedelics. Our goal is to create projects and network with students, educators, scientists, botanists, activists, writers, researchers, artists, doctors, businesses & non-profit organizations who are passionate about these issues and believe in taking action. Psymposia was founded on a whim in 2014 after a trip to the Amazon rainforest culminated in us meeting at a psychedelic conference in New York City. Two months after we formed we held our first conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that was attended by over 700 people in person and online. Since then we have networked with a variety of organizations including the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), EROWID.org, Drug Policy Alliance, Joe Rogan Experience podcast and many others. Now in our second year we are currently focused on creating multiple drug conferences across the United States and Canada that explore the many beneficial uses of psychedelics and the diverse groups of people who benefit by using them. We believe in drug education and reform. We believe in the principles of harm reduction. We also believe in collaboration. Email us
We know foods like donuts and soda can make you fat, but the effects of sugar on the liver and brain are less well known. Dietary sugar can fry your liver in much the same way alcohol can. This in turn can hurt your brain, leaving you with dementia-like symptoms decades too soon.
San Francisco’s Bicycle Day 2015 With Alex and Allyson Grey [Huffington Post]
Now an unofficial holiday amongst psychonauts celebrated worldwide, one of the biggest Bicycle Day parties takes place in San Francisco. Presented by Euphonic Conceptions, Challenger and Goldenvoice SF, San Francisco’s Bicycle Day Celebration is not only a concert, but a petri dish of creativity, inspiration, and sensory stimulation. World renowned visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey have played a large role in this annual celebration, integrating their philosophies, live painting, and personal stories into the event. Their presence not only fills the room with a tangible energy, but also creates the aesthetic of this celebration. Urban fusion artist, Sam Flores, will also be live painting and showcasing his work.