Embassy Headlines, Issue 148


Cruel and Callous

Criminals come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are aware of their crime, some deny it and others are just doing their job. As with beauty, crime can be ‘in the eyes of the beholder’. The ugly consequences of Cannabis prohibition continue to produce victims and serve the best interests of profiteers and war mongers.

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 the focus of MardiGrass [Echo Net Daily]

Medicinal cannabis experts from North America and Australia will feature at this year’s ‘Hemposium’ at the 23rd MardiGrass at Nimbin. Mardi Grass organisers said the impressive line-up of speakers would 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,’ Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said. ‘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. Mr Balderstone said the Hemposium aimed to provide a space ‘to inform, learn, agitate, inspire and connect in this massively important green revolution’. ‘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. Mr Balderstone said Australian experts included Senator Richard Di Natale, Dr Alex Wodak of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr David Caldicott, Fiona Patten, a Sex Party MLC in Victoria, NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Damon Adams of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Dr Andrew Katelaris and Tony Bower of Mullaways Medical Cannabis. The full MardiGrass program is available at www.nimbinmardigrass.com

Cannabis saliva testing ‘not about impairment’ [Echo Net Daily]

Medical-cannabis campaigners have slammed the increasing use of roadside saliva testing by police on the north coast and across the state to fight illegal drug use, saying the devices used are inaccurate and having negative impacts. With just over a week to go before the 23rd annual cannabis-law reform Mardi Grass festival and rally at Nimbin, the state government is being urged to re-look its saliva-testing program, which the cannabis-law-reform lobby says unfairly targets medical and recreational cannabis users and has ‘nothing to do with (driving) impairment’. MPs and medical cannabis experts will attend the event, where some will look at the experience in the US (in which almost half its states have legalised medical cannabis), and where the issue of how to deal with saliva testing and the legal medical/recreational use of cannabis is being grappled with.

Medical cannabis is serious. It’s not about giggling teens and getting high [Daily Telegraph]

Queensland has woken up — or at least arched its eyebrow and propped one lid open. We can only hope that it will continue to emerge into consciousness. Signing up to be part of NSW’s medical cannabis trial for suffering children and dying adults is a sign it is at least willing to listen to the people. We should be grateful for small mercies. But nagging concerns about this whole positive medical movement linger. It is concerning that NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the trials would not include crude cannabis, but a derivative — presumably in a pill. This is presumably to head off any chance that the public might envisage children puffing on a plant and getting high. Cynics might say this also ensures medical companies are not entirely cut out of the “revolution”, a concern raised any time consideration is given to allowing people access their own herbal medicine and get off lucrative drug cocktails. But making some sort of medical marijuana pill is like testing the nutritional value of tomatoes by getting someone to make it into tomato sauce first. The power is already in the whole plant. The last things they should do is to play with it too much.

Capital Mining makes bid to be first to grow medicinal cannabis [ABC]

A minerals exploration company is trying to position itself to become Australia’s first legal medicinal marijuana grower. In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Capital Mining said it would pay Essential Oils of Tasmania (EOT) $125,000 to take ownership of the Tasmanian company Cannabinoid Extracts Australia (CEA). CEA was established by Essential Oils for the purpose of obtaining licences to manufacture cannabidiol or CBD, a non-pyschoactive compound in cannabis. It is used to treat a range of conditions including relief from convulsions, inflammation, anxiety and nausea. Capital Mining has plans to extract CBD from industrial hemp crops grown under hot-house conditions in Tasmania. But the company has a number of hurdles to jump before it reaches the cultivation stage, relying on legislative reform and the granting of licences by the Tasmanian and federal governments.

Premier moved by plight of children to green light cannabis trials [The Age]

Annastascia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick confirmed on Sunday that Queensland would join New South Wales and Victoria in trialling cannabis oil on patients suffering epilepsy, end-of-life pain and chemotherapy-related nausea. Ms Palaszczuk said NSW Premier Mike Baird’s announcement of the groundbreaking $9 million trial last December sparked an influx of pleas for a similar program here. “When you hear the story from these families, when you hear what they are going through on a daily basis – young children with epilepsy, life-threatening seizures,” she said. “We as a community must ensure we do everything we can to ensure these children are not going through pain, and being a part of that trial is the first step in alleviating that pain.”

Trials a step forward for medicinal cannabis but what comes next? [The Conversation]

Medicinal cannabis will need to be a regulated substance available for use by people with designated medically approved conditions, with state legislation securing the oversight of use, marketing, production and manufacturing, subject to Commonwealth agreement under the Narcotic Substances Act. Such a structure already applies to opium to produce morphine.

Obama signals support for medical marijuana bill backed by Rand Paul [The Guardian]

President says country should ‘follow the science as opposed to the ideology’ and address drug abuse from public health standpoint, not just through incarceration. President Barack Obama is to signal his approval of a Senate bill that seeks to lessen constrictions around the use of medical marijuana, saying the US should “follow the science as opposed to the ideology” on the issue. Asked about the bill by CNN’s chief medical correspondentSanjay Gupta, in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday at 9pm ET, the president said: “You know, I think I’d have to take a look at the details. But he added: “I’m on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I’m also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be.”

This is what sane marijuana enforcement looks like — in one tweet [Washington Post]

The Denver Police Department is officially cooler than your police department:

Denver Police Dept. @DenverPolice  We see you rollin, but we ain’t hatin’ HAHA… Seriously though, #Denver, please remember to#ConsumeResponsibly this 4/20 weekend.

As you may have heard, it is 4/20 — the unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts worldwide. The City of Denver marked the occasion as it always does, with a massive, 125,000 person rally in a local park. And Denver’s cops observed the day on social media with a tweet riffing on the lyrics to Chamillionaire’s “Dirty,” a song about how police go out of their way to pull over and detain young black men, preferably ones with drugs in their pockets. But rather than discuss the evils of drug use or disparage marijuana users, Denver’s police simply remind people to consume their weed responsibly. In doing so, they provide a template for what marijuana law enforcement might look like in an era of widespread legalization.  Some law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, have rallied against recent changes in public opinion on marijuana. Denver’s cops, on the other hand, are choosing to work within the framework set by that state’s marijuana legalization measures. That doesn’t mean lax enforcement — indeed, Denver PD also tweeted out that it had issued about 100 citations for public marijuana consumption on Sunday. But beyond that, police reported no major incidents related to the 4/20 festivities so far. In general, crime in Denver is slightly down year-over-year, so there’s no real reason for police to oppose their state’s legalization regime.

Inside the marijuana farm growing Colorado’s most beautiful cannabis [Mashable Australia]

One cannabis grow in Colorado is setting the bar very high. Puns aside, marijuana may be legal in the state of Colorado, but that doesn’t mean that all plants are grown with equal care. While visiting the state, we saw cannabis being grown inside dirt-caked retail stores, in warehouse districts tucked into industrial spaces and behind the glass of a medicinal dispensary in downtown Denver. But 30 minutes outside of Aspen, a pristine 25,000 square-foot facility set against a backdrop of blue skies and mountains is leading a push for a classier cannabis cultivation. It’s pot gone posh.

Marijuana Ice Cream Is A Thing: Cannabis Creamery In Sausalito Serving Up THC-Laced Sweets [International Business Times]

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade said it was considering making pot-flavored ice cream “where it was legal,” but it’s been beaten to the punch. Isaac Lappert, a third-generation ice cream purveyor and graduate of the Culinary Institute, has started Cannabis Creamery in (rich) hippie and hot-tub central: Sausalito, California. Cannabis Creamery’s mission, as described on its Facebook page: “To give you first and foremost a high quality tasting ice cream with a kick to it ;).” (Pun no doubt intended.) The legal, nonprofit collective has been supplying cannabis ice cream to medical marijuana dispensaries for about a year-and-a-half, “with a healthy dose of pot inside” — or around 60 milligrams per pre-packaged 4-ounce cup — and it promises even stronger doses in the future. Lappert told International Business Times that in the summer, he sells an average of 4,000 to 5,000 cups of THC-laced ice cream a week. (THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.)

Respect State Marijuana Laws Act Reintroduced in Congress [MPP Blog]

Earlier today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has reintroduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This short, simple bill would resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws by making an exception to federal law for activity in compliance with state laws that regulate marijuana for medical or adult-use purposes.

State seizes 11-year-old, arrests his mother after he defends medical marijuana during a school presentation[Washington Post]

From the website run by investigative journalist Ben Swann: On March 24, cannabis oil activist Shona Banda‘s life was flipped upside-down after her son was taken from her by the State of Kansas. The ordeal started when police and counselors at her 11-year-old son’s school conducted a drug education class. Her son, who had previously lived in Colorado for a period of time, disagreed with some of the anti-pot points that were being made by school officials. “My son says different things like my ‘Mom calls it cannabis and not marijuana.’ He let them know how educated he was on the facts,” said Banda in an exclusive interview with BenSwann.com. Banda successfully treated her own Crohn’s disease with cannabis oil. After her son spoke out about medical marijuana, police detained him and launched a raid on Shona Banda’s home. “Well, they had that drug education class at school that was just conducted by the counselors… They pulled my son out of school at about 1:40 in the afternoon and interrogated him. Police showed up at my house at 3… I let them know that they weren’t allowed in my home without a warrant… I didn’t believe you could get a warrant off of something a child says in school.” Banda continued, “We waited from 3 o’clock until 6 o’clock. They got a warrant at 6 o’clock at night and executed a warrant into my home. My husband and I are separated, and neither parent was contacted by authorities before [our son] was taken and questioned.”The police apparently found 2 ounces of cannabis oil in her home. She fears that the state will now attempt to take her son away. She has a custody hearing on Monday.

Michele Leonhart, Head of D.E.A., to Retire Over Handling of Sex Scandal [New York Times]

The Obama administration’s top drug enforcement official will step down next month, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Tuesday, after her agency was tarnished by a scandal over sex parties with prostitutes and she broke with President Obama on drug policy. Michele M. Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told Mr. Holder that she intended to retire, ending a 35-year tenure at the agency. In a statement, he called her a “trailblazer for equality” and a “good friend,” but in recent years, she had faced accusations of mismanagement. Ms. Leonhart’s impending departure after eight years in the top job follows a hearing last week in which lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee expressed outrage about her handling of reports that D.E.A. agents in Colombia had participated in sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels. It also comes after Ms. Leonhart, 59, parted with the White House on marijuana policy, opposing moves by states like Colorado and Washington to legalize its use, even as the president said they should be allowed to go forward, and resisting a push to reduce penalties for its use and distribution.

Dope Dreams [MedMen]

National brands. Franchise stores. Entrepreneurs are plotting a future for American pot that looks quite different from what voters may have bargained for. Beer has its Budweiser. Cigarettes have Marlboro. And now, from Nevada to Massachusetts, pioneers in the legal-marijuana industry are vying to create big-name brands for pot. When the legalization movement began years ago, its grassroots activists envisioned a nation where mom-and-pop dispensaries would freely sell small amounts of bud to cancer patients and cannabis-loving members of their community. But the markets rolling out now are attracting something different: ambitious, well-financed entrepreneurs who want to maximize profits and satisfy their investors. To do that, they’ll have to grow the pot business by attracting new smokers or getting current users to buy more. To hear these pot-preneurs talk is to get a better sense of how the legalized future could unfold and just how mainstream they believe their product can become. Says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver maker of pot food products: “I want to get that soccer mom who, instead of polishing off a glass of wine on a Saturday night, goes for a 5-mg [marijuana] mint with less of a hangover, less optics to the kids and the same amount of relaxation.”

Marijuana Legalization 2015: Meet The 20 Most Influential People In Cannabis [International Business Times]

Marijuana has come a long way.  In just a few short years, the drug has gone from being banned throughout the United States to holding some legal status for the majority of Americans. As of April 20, four states have legalized recreational use of cannabis and 23 allow marijuana to be prescribed for medical use.  But marijuana hasn’t shed its reputation as a subversive gateway drug in the collective American consciousness on its own. For years, investors, entrepreneurs, advocates and researchers have been pushing the dialogue on marijuana forward, helping to back well-heeled campaigns aimed at changing hearts, minds and laws around the country. International Business Times identified 20 of the most influential people in the marijuana industry, as chosen by their peers. The list represents the industry in advocacy, business and research and is made up of people who those in the marijuana business say are driving the industry forward. It includes names as recognizable as Sen. Rand Paul, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well as industry insiders such as Ethan Nadelmann, Brian Vicente and Dr. Trista Ghosh. These people were chosen by industry stalwarts who are journalists, business owners, investors, medical professionals and activists, all of whom have years of experience in the industry and make their living in some way from it.

High rollers: marijuana entrepreneurs harvest cash from legalised industry [The Guardian]

The transition from illegality to legality, from black market to regulated commercial trade, will not always be smooth. Kennedy is convinced that national legalisation is not only inevitable, but imminent – “certainly in the next six years”. Jonathan Caulkins – the Stever professor of operations research at Carnegie Mellon University, and co-author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know – is more circumspect. He said there were several possible scenarios, depending on the pace of change at both the state and federal levels, and a lot of variables in both. If federal change is slow, Caulkins said, then industry will begin to mature in something of a bubble, with big consumer firms in other industries – tobacco or nutrition supplements, perhaps even the alcohol conglomerates – forced to wait on the sidelines until cannabis becomes legal under federal law.  “How much they’re salivating right now,” he said, “is anybody’s guess. If the national legislation doesn’t happen for 10 years,” Caulkins said, “that increases the likelihood that the players that end up being large in the cannabis market are ones that are grown within the cannabis market.” Those players, the brands that will emerge as the market matures, are the people Kennedy set out to find and invest in with Privateer. The company already owns two marijuana brands: Tilray, a Canadian medical marijuana brand, and Marley Natural. Kennedy said the company aims to acquire more. Privateer also bought Leafly, an app for rating strains of weed.

Cashing in on Cannabis [Ebony]

As the green rush takes over America state by state, Black entrepreneurs may want to consider making the most of selling marijuana (legally). Legal marijuana business owners say now is the time for the Black community to act. “No one will have an opportunity like this again in our lifetime,” says Greene. “We should consider this our steel industry, our dot.com bubble, our Westward expansion.”

Willie Nelson rolls out own brand of marijuana [Sydney Morning Herald]

Taking advantage of the plant’s recent legalisation in several US states, the veteran country singer has announced that “Willie’s Reserve” will soon be grown and sold in Colorado and Washington. “I feel like I bought so much, it’s time to start selling it back,” Nelson recently toldRolling Stone magazine.

San Francisco Accommodates Marijuana Smokers For 4/20 Holiday Event In Golden Gate Park [CBS SF Bay Area]

That wasn’t fog hovering over Golden Gate Park in San Francisco Monday. It was a cloud of marijuana smoke over a sea of stoners on Hippie Hill celebrating 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday. Thousands turned out in celebration of marijuana and in open defiance of the state’s law banning its recreational use. You can call it the fog of war – a cultural war that’s been brewing for decades – the battle to legalize marijuana here in California and across the country. The annual pot holiday has been a big headache for the city in years past. Two years ago, the large and at times unruly crowds caught the city off-guard. “We weren’t prepared,” said Board of Supervisors President London Breed. “The streets were in complete gridlock. Emergency vehicles couldn’t get around. There were fights.” This year, the city is trying to do a better job policing the annual event by adding more officers and coordinating with some of the unofficial sponsors of the events to help with trash pick-up. Officers said they were not looking to cite anyone as long as people behaved. Marijuana supporters say they hope the event will help tip the scales in finally convincing the state and its voters to legalize pot.

Celebrate marijuana on 4/20, but get to work on legalization tomorrow [The Guardian]

We are so close to nationwide cannabis law reform that I can taste it. It tastes like freedom and a functioning democracy. Happy 4/20! I hope your day is filled with positivity and good vibes. Even if you don’t smoke weed, I hope you have a cheerful, mellow, giggly, deliciously snack-filled day. And if you do smoke weed, great! You have so many options today. Whether you go to one of the big festivals in Denver or Seattle or Philadelphia or San Francisco, congregate in the park with hundreds of people, or just having a nice little session at home with some close friends, may your 4/20 be filled with good weed, good people and good times.

The Cannabis Smugglers [BBC]

Stacey Dooley returns with another hard-hitting series lifting the lid on the global war on drugs. Heading to remote and hostile regions, she investigates who’s really winning this cat-and-mouse battle between the drug cartels and the police. Along the way she reveals the impact that the west’s insatiable desire for more potent drugs is having on the people caught in the crossfire.

UK Election 2015: Pippa Bartolotti’s call to legalise medical cannabis [BBC]

Cannabis should be legalised for medical use, according to Wales Green Party leader Pippa Bartolotti. Ms Bartolotti will make the case for a change in approach in a speech at Cardiff University on Thursday night. Legalising cannabis has been Green Party policy for some time. Ms Bartolotti said: “No one has yet died from using cannabis, in fact the health benefits of cannabis in the treatment of epilepsy and cancer are already well documented.” She added: “Commercial organisations in the UK are already allowed to patent and sell cannabis extracts, whilst the population as a whole is criminalised for using it – even if it saves their life. This simply has to be changed.” Ms Bartolotti said cannabis is wrongly labelled as a gateway drug to harder substances like cocaine and heroin and it is the criminalisation of it which is the gateway.

UK Election 2015: CISTA Manifesto Launch

Recorded coverage of the Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol (CISTA) party launching their 2015 general election manifesto in Belfast, from Tuesday 21 April.

The election’s gone to pot: Northern Ireland gets broadcast from pro-cannabis party [The Guardian]

Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (Cista) party has enough candidates in Northern Ireland to qualify for a five-minute slot on television there. Northern Ireland is to have its first-ever party political broadcast by a party campaigning solely for reform of Britain’s drug laws on Thursday night. The Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party (Cista) has registered 32 candidates for the general election, including four in Northern Ireland, enough to qualify it for a five-minute slot on television there. The four-and-a-half minute film airs on UTV and focuses on the medicinal qualities of cannabis, which patients say prevents seizures, relieves nausea and eases pain.

An important message for cancer patients: Beware the ‘cannabis oil’ scammers [Cancer Research UK]

We have become aware that scammers are tricking cancer patients and their families into handing over money for ‘cannabis oil’, yet receiving nothing in return. At least one of these fraudsters is using the email address ukcancerresearchcentre @ gmail.com and claiming to be based at 407 St John Street, London, which is the address of our London office. We believe this to be a scam. The email address given has nothing to do with Cancer Research UK or our employees. If you believe you have been a victim of this fraud, please contact the police.  We strongly advise patients and their families against buying any cancer treatments over the internet.  If you have any questions about cancer or treatment, whether conventional or alternative, please call our Cancer Information Nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday or email them. Finally, we have written a lengthy and detailed blog post about cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer, outlining the scientific evidence for the potential benefits of cannabinoids as well as the harms and risks involved.

More than 50 arrested at 4/20 pro-cannabis rally in London [The Guardian]

Close to 10,000 people attended event in London’s Hyde Park, where cannabis could be smelled up to half a mile away. More than 50 people were arrested in connection with a pro-cannabis rally in Hyde Park as the Metropolitan police executed its Total Policing strategy to clear away protesters who had shrouded Speakers’ Corner in sweet-smelling smoke.  The London 4/20 meet-up and protest was due to run until 5pm on Sunday, but by 4.45pm word was sweeping the crowd that the police were operating a “zero tolerance” policy. Officers began entering the crowd to warn people to put out their joints.

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park? [The Independent]

Embarrassing displays of public consumption like the 420 celebrations are not going to lead to meaningful drug reform, but I know what will. So, for those who want to see reform, which should be everyone who supports a more effective drugs policy, embarrassing displays of public consumption are counterproductive. We are now winning this argument through considered, diligent and professional lobbying.  The “free the weed” stoners, anarchists and revolutionaries are the enemies of progress. The way forward is to meet with your MP, present the facts and insist that policy is based on evidence rather than prejudice and media hysteria.

This Is How Your Vote Could Affect the Legalisation of Weed in the UK [Vice]

I asked Edouard-Henri Desforge, the CISTA candidate for The Cities of London and Westminster, why he thinks successive UK governments have been so opposed to drug policy reform. He said: “It’s definitely low on the agenda for mainstream political parties. Some people posit that government never wants to appear soft on crime as they do not wish to appear weak in the eyes of criminals. But we argue that drug possession shouldn’t be a Department of Justice matter at all, but rather one for the Department of Health.”  Regardless of your stance on the illegality of drugs, with so much proof that cannabis helps improve the lives of those with painful long-term conditions, it’s a poor reflection of our democracy that we’ve never adopted an evidence-based approach to reforming the law.

Cannabis protesters align with Green Party on legalising the Class B drug [Telegraph UK]

At the Cannabis Day protest outside parliament the Telegraph discovers the Green Party has cornered the ‘stoner’ vote. Despite a noticeable police presence, supporters of cannabis legalisation gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to celebrate ‘420’ day, who were happy to smoke the Class B drug openly. Around 150 people sat in Old Palace Yard in the sunshine. They had all come to campaign for the legalisation of cannabis and in the last few weeks before the general election, they all felt the Green Partywas their best hope of getting the law changed.  “We’ve considered aligning ourselves directly with the Green Party, who within their manifesto have set out something that is very very close to the end result on drug reform that we as an organisation are absolutely looking for,” explained Jonathan Liebling, political director of the United Patients Alliance, which seeks to legalise cannabis for medicinal use.

Glasgow cannabis rally offers smoke, politics and croissants [Herald Scotland]

At exactly 4.20pm a cloud of cannabis smoke drifted upwards in Glasgow’s George Square as dozens of people collectively lit up after a countdown. No one seemed quite sure of the reason why this annual gathering in support of reform of the drug laws is called 420 day, but most of those present seemed pretty relaxed about it. This included the police, who detained two people early in the afternoon but thereafter kept their presence low key, with a male and a female officer strolling past the stalls and temporary stage periodically in the sunshine. Twenty years ago the attitude of the police would have been far less relaxed towards yesterday’s (mon) gathering, which was part of World Cannabis Week. The stalls included one for a new political party Cista (Cannabis is Safer than Tobacco and Alcohol), which had launched its manifesto earlier in the day calling for a royal commission on drugs

Treatment of cannabis-related disorders in Europe [European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction]

This publication reviews the interventions used in the treatment of cannabis disorders and maps out the geography of cannabis treatment in Europe.

Cannabis consumers show greater susceptibility to false memories [EurekAlert]

A new study published in the American journal with the highest impact factor in worldwide, Molecular Psychiatry, reveals that consumers of cannabis are more prone to experiencing false memories. The study was conducted by researchers from the Human Neuropsychopharmacology group at the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Brain Cognition and Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL – University of Barcelona). One of the known consequences of consuming this drug is the memory problems it can cause. Chronic consumers show more difficulties than the general population in retaining new information and recovering memories. The new study also reveals that the chronic use of cannabis causes distortions in memory, making it easier for imaginary or false memories to appear.

This Is Where ISIS Gets Its Weed [The Daily Beast]

Most Lebanese hash is produced by Shia who are sworn enemies of the so-called Islamic State, but that doesn’t mean they won’t sell them a ton or two. They are killing Syrians and each other at an astronomical rate but there seems to be one thing that jihadist troops and Assad allies are working together on: getting high on Lebanon’s supply. Just across a snow-capped mountain range, in the Bekaa Valley, are weed fields tended mostly by poor, Assad-friendly Shia farmers. But business is business. They tell The Daily Beast they are selling their products to ISIS recruits, who are allegedly blazing Lebanese blond and reselling it to fund their atrocities. “Last month we sold one ton of hash to ISIS,” says “Imad,” who farms a 15-acre cannabis plot in the shadow of the Qalamoun Mountains that separate the valley from Syria. (He declined to use his real name out of fear of arrest.) The 50-year-old father of six has fought in Syria with Hezbollah against the so-called Islamic State, often referred to as ISIS. And he was related to one of the Lebanese soldiers captured and beheaded by jihadists in the border town of Arsal, a key base of support in Lebanon for the Sunni sectarian fundamentalist movement that has used mass murder, torture, and rape to establish a self-proclaimed caliphate.

Ecuador is on its way to decriminalizing drug use [Global Post]

Ecuador is on the brink of decriminalizing the use of all drugs. President Rafael Correa’s grouping in congress is pushing a watershed bill that would regulate consumption of outlawed drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, along with alcohol and other legal highs, like industrial solvents. The draft for a new drug law says narcotics use should be managed “not by control, repression and even criminalization, but from the perspective of prevention” (page 5 of the bill).  That would include providing treatment and rehabilitation, and replacing jail with small fines, for drug users. Dealers would still face time behind bars, although less than previously. The move is the latest in Latin America away from Washington’s “war on drugs,” including Uruguay’s full-blown legalization of cannabis.

Terpenes and Terpenoids in CANNABIS [Weebly]

Terpenes (C5H8)-medicinal molecules and important building blocks in nature. Click the link above to find out all about them.

Ice campaign could backfire, say experts [ABC]

A general public awareness campaign against crystal methamphetamine—commonly known as ‘ice’—could lead to more young people using the highly addictive drug, according to experts. Mr Francis says that while TV ads can be effective for road safety, smoking and alcohol campaigns, illicit drugs are different. He warns that some campaigns have actually led to an increase in people intending to use illicit drugs. ‘Young people are more likely to use a substance when it is really common,’ Mr Francis says. ‘When an ad is on television for a particular illicit drug, we know afterwards young people think it must be really, really common and so therefore it can increase their perception of how normal it is. In school-based drug prevention, the strongest message is around how many young people actually use drugs. We tell them 97 per cent do NOT use methamphetamine. That’s a very powerful message. But when ads turn up on TV, people believe ice use is way more common than it actually is.’

Thousands of Victorians expected to take LSD this weekend [Australian Sex Party]

Psychedelic enthusiasts across Victoria will be taking acid (LSD) on Sunday April 19th to celebrate Bicycle Day’s 72nd anniversary, marking the birth of western psychedelic culture. Fiona Patten MLC called on the Minister to relax the prohibitionary regulations around LSD for medical research in Victoria, “Sadly, there are a couple of organisations in Victoria which would like to explore further medical research in this area but it is incredibly difficult because of the prohibitive laws. I ask if the minister would consider reviewing the legal status of some psychedelic substances in relation to medical use.” Results overseas have so far been very promising and even the Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health has admitted a personal bias towards these types of studies. Dr. Stephen Bright, Vice President of Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine (PRISM), an Australian non-profit association said, “Australia is sadly lagging behind other countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland and Israel, largely due to overly conservative attitudes within science and academia.”

Professor David Nutt: Why I think the terminally ill should take LSD [The Independent]

Professor David Nutt has been no stranger to controversy over the years. So the psychiatrist and former Government drugs tsar, will not have been fazed when he raised eyebrows recently by drawing a parallel between the repression of research into the effects of psychedelic drugs like LSD with the censorship of Galileo and the banning of the telescope. “It has been the great unanswered question in neuroscience,” he argues. “What is the nature of the profound psychedelic experience that LSD produces, with long-lasting changes in the way people view themselves and the world around them?” Now, he believes, scientists are coming close to an answer. His team at Imperial College London, having overcome numerous regulatory hurdles, are the first in the world to scan the brains of volunteers under the influence of LSD. Professor Nutt announced this week they would need to crowd-fund £25,000 to pay for an analysis of the findings, after funding sources dried up. Not following through on their work, he believes, would be a tragedy. He and a growing number of scientists around the world are beginning to revive interest in LSD as a medicine: for addiction, for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It could even, some believe, help alleviate the anxiety felt by terminally ill people at the end of their life.

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