Embassy Headlines, Issue 149

chillum-headlines-149

Stay healthy!

Try to prevent the cause of disease rather than just treat the symptoms. Think of Cannabis as the first choice for treatment and and as a preventative medicine. Recreational therapy is the key to good health.

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.


CWA supports medicinal cannabis legalisation at state conference [ABC]

The Country Women’s Association has thrown its support behind legalising medicinal cannabis at its annual conference in Tamworth. The Association passed two motions, the first in support of the use of medicinal marijuana, and the second in support of the legalisation of growing, manufacturing and distributing marijuana for medicinal purposes.


Woman fined $450 for possessing “drug scissors” [Fraser Coast Chronicle]

A 52-YEAR-OLD woman has been fined $450 in Maryborough Magistrates Court for possessing a pair of scissors.  Leanne Maree Webber appeared in court and pleaded guilty to charges of possessing anything used in the commission of a crime and contravening a direction or requirement of police.  The court heard Webber had been found guilty of possessing cannabis about five months ago and since that time, Webber had ceased smoking the drug.  When police raided her home on April 5, they found no drugs but questioned her in regards to a pair of scissors in her home.  She told police she had previously used the scissors to chop cannabis but she “hadn’t used them in a while”.


Police can’t determine which drugs caused positive tests [Northern Star]

Police are unable to provide a breakdown of alleged positive drug tests during Mardigrass to determine how many people of the 114 detected were under the influence of cannabis or ice. The MardiGrass drug testing results sparked outrage from cannabis advocates, as people who had smoked pot several days before being tested can still register a positive reading, despite displaying no impairment.


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

Queenslanders and Victorians with particular chronic illnesses may now be eligible to join New South Wales medicinal cannabis trials, due to start mid next year. The three states will collaborate on the development of medicinal cannabis, its regulatory framework and clinical research to explore the safety and benefits of the product among three key groups:

  • children with severe epilepsy who haven’t responded to traditional medicine
  • adults with painful terminal illnesses
  • cancer patients with severe nausea from chemotherapy.

This welcome move comes after many years of lobbying to reverse the embedded opposition to medicinal cannabis and recognises the product as a valid way of relieving the suffering caused by some distressing conditions. So, how would such a scheme work in Australia? And what hurdles must first be overcome?


Why Did Monsanto Patent GMO Marijuana? [Eat Local Grown]

Last week Monsanto announced that it had patented the first genetically modified strain of marijuana. This news has far-reaching consequences for drugs policy, since cannabis is still an illegal substance. Many believe Monsanto’s interest in the market must mean that full legalization of the drug for recreational purposes is on the horizon, but at what cost? This Next News Network video from February last year accurately predicted that Monsanto would try to cash in on the cannabis industry, and asks: Would you smoke GMO pot, or would you prefer to smoke nature’s finest?


Legalize It: Supreme Court Tells Obama To Make Up His Mind On Marijuana [Inquisitr]

It’s war between the states, Supreme Court-style, and this time the stakes are green, marijuana plants that is. Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing the state of Colorado over its marijuana laws and the Supreme Court wants to know what President Barack Obama thinks about legalizing marijuana. The two states claim Colorado has created a “cross-border nuisance” by legalizing marijuana and claim their citizens are affected by the increase in marijuana coming from nearby Colorado. Aaron Cooper, spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, told the Wall Street Journal that Obama caused the marijuana lawsuit in the first place. “The administration’s wholesale disregard for the law led Oklahoma and Nebraska to sue Colorado to stop the stream of illegal marijuana flowing into our states as a result of Colorado’s legalization of the commercial production and sale of marijuana.”Americans live in a federalist system so even though marijuana is illegal under federal guidelines, individual states still have the authority to legalize it. But because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, Oklahoma and Nebraska have asked the Supreme Court to wade into the issue and overturn the Colorado law.


Inside Bud and Breakfast, the Airbnb of marijuana tourism – only much greener [The Guardian]

As revelers poured in to Colorado last month to mark the unofficial “4/20” holiday celebrated by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide, some soon learned the limits of the state’s marijuana law. More than 100 citations were handed out, a number of them for smoking in public. Anecdotal accounts told of tokers being booted from hotels by staff wise to the towel under the door. All this because while marijuana possession and use is legal in Colorado, public consumption is not. This poses a predicament for tourists who come to buy weed but have nowhere to smoke it. Enter Bud and Breakfast, which is for all intents and purposes an Airbnb for kush tourists. “A lot of people would come to Colorado, go to a dispensary, buy some herb and then go out on the street and smoke,” said Sean Roby, the founder and chief executive of budandbreakfast.com. “That is not legal. We want to provide safe and legal accommodations for people to have an alternative.” The site, which launched on 1 April, looks and feels like Airbnb, but with a much greener aesthetic. Travelers search for weed-friendly accommodation by entering their vacation destination and dates. Homeowners in states and countries where recreational and medicinal marijuana use is legal offer them places to stay. The listings also indicate nearby dispensaries and advertise any cannabis-friendly events in the area.


Marijuana Tax Rates – The High Price of Doing Business [MedMen]

Recently, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D – OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR) introduced a bill to Congress, The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2015. The purpose of this bill is to amend the tax code allowing marijuana related businesses, operating in compliance with state law, to deduct normal business expenses when preparing their federal tax returns. One of the difficulties in running a marijuana business is dealing with the IRS who are still empowered to enforce IRC Code 280E. The code was created during the Reagan administration to help in the war on drugs and specifically prohibits the deduction of normal business expenses from any income derived from the sale of illegal drugs. This includes expenses such as rent, utilities and payroll and has resulted in tax rates for some marijuana businesses to approach 70% – 80% as opposed to a more normal 20% – 30%.


10 Reasons Why Conservatives Should Support Weed Legalization [Julie Borowski]

Why should conservatives support weed legalization?
  1. It’s Not Just a Hippie Issue, Anymore
  2. It’s a Winnable Issue
  3. It Would Save Taxpayer Money
  4. Police Can Divert Their Focus to Violent Crimes
  5. It Would Help Repair Police-Community Relations
  6. Marijuana Use Will Probably Stay Roughly the Same
  7. Government Isn’t Your Parent
  8. Real Crime Would Still Be Illegal
  9. No Uptick in Crime
  10. Libertarians Will Stop Talking About Weed Legalization

Cista Party Political Broadcast (Northern Ireland) [YouTube]

CISTA (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol) is a new political party. In the General Election we will campaign for a Royal Commission to review the UK’s drug laws relating to cannabis. CISTA is for harm reduction.


State to examine possibility of decriminalising cannabis [The Irish Times]

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is to examine the possible decriminalisation of cannabis in his new role as Minister of State with Responsibility for the Drug Strategy. The Labour TD’s new position was confirmed in the Dáil on Thursday by Tanaiste Joan Burton. He said his first task will be to examine the National Drugs Strategy which expires next year. Mr Ó Ríordáin said he is willing to examine to the potential relaxation of the laws. He said: “I believe someone who has an addiction issue should be dealt with through the health system and not the criminal justice system.


‘Cannabis gangs behind grow your own boom’ [The Scotsman]

Companies selling equipment for cultivating plants without soil and with artificial light have revealed a huge sales boost due to the continued growth of the ­“urban homegrown market”. Police have claimed the rise is linked to the cannabis industry as growing operations are uncovered all across Scotland with on average one farm a day being raided by ­officers. However, industry leaders have disputed this claim, stating instead that increased public awareness of food security and people’s interest in harvesting their own fruit and vegetables are responsible for the growth in sales.


Inside Surrey’s New ‘Cannabis Cafe and Hotel’ [Vice]

Located in the middle of a Guildford housing estate, Jonathan refers to his flat as a “Cannabis Café and Hotel”. But, inside, it looks less like a fledgling business initiative intent on getting UK cannabis laws changed – or a hotel of any description – and more the home of a man who very much enjoys smoking weed.  The place is full of paperwork, dog-eared Dali prints, ashtrays and multi-coloured bongs. Sat on one of the four deeply indented sofas, Bruce Springsteen pounds out of the boombox next to us. As Jonathan flits about, dolling out teas and coffees, spliff in hand, I ask him what he hopes to achieve by turning his flat into Surrey’s answer to The Bulldog  “I’d like to see lots of people coming here, changing their views, a few teas, a few coffees, people eating, sleeping – improved by the experience of coming here. Then departing on their merry way with a spring in their step and a joint or two in their pocket,” he explains. “I’m looking to have a civilised, pub-like environment. Not a free-for-all. The two rules of the house are: no harder drugs, and don’t go upsetting the neighbours.”


Italy: Army unveils ‘cut-price cannabis’ farm [BBC]

The Italian army has unveiled its first cannabis farm, set up to try to lower the cost of medical marijuana in the country. The army’s foray into cannabis production was first announced by the government in September, and its first crop is coming along nicely, the Corriere della Sera website reports. The plants are being grown in a secure room at a military-run pharmaceutical plant in Florence, and the army expects to churn out 100kg (220lb) of the drug annually. The site also houses drying and packing facilities. “The aim of this operation is to make available to a growing number of patients a medical product which isn’t always readily available on the market, at a much better price for the user,” Col Antonio Medica tells the website. Medical marijuana is considered beneficial to treat a variety of conditions, particularly for managing chronic pain. While Italian doctors can legally prescribe the drug, the cost isn’t covered by the state. It is often prohibitively expensive for patients to buy it legally at pharmacies, something ministers want to change. At the moment medical marijuana is imported from abroad – primarily from the Netherlands – and costs up to 35 euros per gram. “We’re aiming to lower the price to under 15 euros, maybe even around 5 euros per gram,” says Col Medica. Private cannabis cultivation remains illegal in Italy, and selling the drug is also against the law.


Jamaica has planted its first legal marijuana plant [The Independent]

Jamaica’s Justice Minister firmed a cannabis plant into the soil at the University of the West Indies Mona campus last Monday, in a ceremonial planting. It was the first ganja seedling to be legally planted in the country, following the passage of the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015, which legalises the production of medical marijuana. The university has been granted permission by the government to cultivate the drug for research and to “set the pace for the development of a legal cannabis industry.”


Cannabis use could implant false memories, scientists warn [The Independent]

Cannabis use can lead to people remembering things that never happened, according to a new study. While scientists have long known that the drug makes people forgetful, the new study finds that it can make them more likely to remember something that didn’t happen at all. The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, compared a group of 16 regular weed smokers with a control group that had smoked less than 50 times in their lives. They were asked to remember a series of words and the shortly after told to recognise them, with the scientists also adding some words that hadn’t been there the first time around. Brain scans showed that the regular smokers were more likely to recognise “lure words” — which were similar to the first set of words but weren’t there. The scientists behind the study say that it shows “that abstinent cannabis users have an increased susceptibility to false memories, failing to identify lure stimuli as events that never occurred”.


Human rights, public health and medicinal cannabis use [International Drug Policy Consortium]

This paper explores the interplay between the human rights and drug control frameworks and critiques case law on medicinal cannabis use to demonstrate that a bona fide human rights perspective allows for a broader conception of ‘health’. This broad conception, encompassing both medicalised and social constructionist definitions, can inform public health policies relating to medicinal cannabis use. The paper also demonstrates how a human rights lens can alleviate a core tension between the State and the individual within the drug policy field. The leading medicinal cannabis case in the UK highlights the judiciary’s failure to engage with an individual’s human right to health as they adopt an arbitrary, externalist view, focussing on the legality of cannabis to the exclusion of other concerns. Drawing on some international comparisons, the paper considers how a human rights perspective can lead to an approach to medicinal cannabis use which facilitates a holistic understanding of public health.


New open-access journal on cannabis and cannabinoid research launching fall 2015 [EurekAlert]

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, a new peer-reviewed, open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers (http://www.liebertpub.com/), is the only journal dedicated to the scientific, medical, and psychosocial exploration of clinical cannabis, cannabinoids, and the biochemical mechanisms of endocannabinoids. Launching in fall 2015, the Journal will be the premier open source for authoritative cannabis and cannabinoid research, discussion, and debate. The Journal will publish under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY) license to ensure broad dissemination and participation.


Everyone Should Have a Second Chance [LinkedIn]

If I were 22, I would be the same age as Andrew Chan when he was arrested for drug smuggling as part of the Bali 9. I would be nine years younger than Andrew was last week when he was executed by the Indonesian government for his crime alongside Myuran Sukumaran. Four Nigerian men, a Brazilian man and an Indonesian man were also executed. Andrew and Myuran, by all accounts, had been reformed into fine young men who would have become productive members of society. They will now never get that chance. Their executions will not do anything to impact the drug trade in Indonesia. The death penalty is not the answer to deal with drug abuse. The executions will, however, have a significant negative impact on Indonesia’s standing in the world.


Study: Plant-Derived Cannabinoid Extract More Efficacious Than Isolated Compound [The Daily Chronic]

The administration of plant-derived cannabidiol(CBD) extracts provide greater efficacy in the treatment of pain and inflammation than does the use of a purified CBD alternative, according to preclinical data published online ahead of print in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy. Investigators at the Hebrew University, Institute for Drug Research assessed the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activities of plant-derived CBD extracts in animals. Researchers reported that extracts derived from a CBD-dominant strain of cannabis provided a wider therapeutic window than did the administration of a purified form of CBD provided by a German pharmaceutical company. Authors concluded that the administration of plant-derived extracts is “superior” to the use of synthetic CBD in the treatment of certain inflammatory diseases.


What Is Hemp? Understanding The Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis [Medical Jane]

The term cannabis (or marijuana) is used when describing a Cannabis Sativa plant that is bred for its potent, resinous glands (known as trichomes). These trichomes contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid most known for its psychoactive properties. Hemp, on the hand, is used to describe a Cannabis Sativa plant that contains only trace amounts of THC. Hemp is a high-growing plant, typically bred for industrial uses such as oils and topical ointments, as well as fiber for clothing, construction, and much more.


High hopes for ACS cannabis division [Chemistry World]

Back in October, one man was working to petition the American Chemical Society (ACS) to establish a division for cannabis chemists. Ezra Pryor – an ACS member and president of Ezchem cannabis consultancy – was somewhat alone in his quest for such professional recognition, but he’s made significant progress over the last few months. The petition, which has yet to be submitted to the ACS, has gone from 25 signatures in October to more than 300. Only 50 signatures from ACS members are required to submit the petition, and Pryor is aiming to collect 500 to 600 before handing it in.


Cannabis causes schizophrenia? Are we getting the full picture? [Virgin]

Information is vital to our decisions, and the delivery of information is as important as the content itself. We have increasingly placed a filter over our drug policy conversation – a hyperbolic monocle, full of binary inconsistencies. The inevitable result is an unwitting confusion. Cannabis causes schizophrenia? This has become almost common knowledge. But, what if this is only half the story?


Cannabis and psychosis [The Lancet]

Marta Di Forti and colleagues’ retrospective case–control study1 distinguished between self-reported use of high-potency (skunk) versus lower potency (hash) cannabis. Scaremongering headlines in the media predictably followed. The Daily Mail screamed “Scientists show cannabis TRIPLES psychosis risk: Groundbreaking research blames ‘skunk’ for 1 in 4 of all new serious mental disorders.” Undoubtedly, politicians and policy makers who have already made up their minds about regulation of cannabis will seize on the study as support for their views.


 

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