Embassy Headlines, Issue 152


Driving Fear [Tyrannical Times]

Prohibition’s effectiveness is based on fear of the penalties of breaking the law.

The big stick approach to enforcing Cannabis prohibition displays the intensity of ‘moral judgement’ possessed by the law makers and enforcers. More harm is caused by Institutionalising a fear based control, to protect the moral virtues of society from the perceived consequences of Cannabis consumption, than from the substance itself.

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.

Dangerous path when police put war on drugs before road safety [The Australian]

Our drink-driving laws have been successful because the focus is on road safety, not prohibition. That approach makes clear sense to everyone. But, above all, this game-changing legislation is grounded in rigorous science, ­including the epidemiology, pharmacology and physiology of ­alcohol.  Because they target road safety rather than prohibition, our drink-driving laws have fundamentally changed attitudes, too. These days it is utterly unacceptable to drive when intoxicated. Now mates, more often than ever, step in and take away a drunk’s car keys, as they should. If only it were the same for the other intoxicating substances. We now have the technology to detect very low levels of other drugs in saliva obtained from drivers. We also have information to help set limits based on levels of impairment and levels of certain drugs in blood that make driving unsafe. So why aren’t we following the same path that allowed us to rid the roads of drunk drivers? The reason is plain. Drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy are illegal. We confound the police targeting road safety by asking them to wage the so-called “war on drugs”.
[Link removed to subscription only article]

Support grows for medical marijuana before Federal Parliament vote [The Age]

More than two-thirds of Australians back the use of medicinal cannabis, according to a new survey likely to bolster support among MPs and senators who are set to vote on the issue in the coming months. Palliative Care Australia has found 67 per cent of people are happy to see the drug used to help patients with chronic pain and illness – and support is strongest among the elderly. The survey found people in older age brackets were more supportive of legalisation than the young: 72 per cent of 75 to 84-year-olds are in favour, compared to 62 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds. The survey of 1006 people from across the country found just 9 per cent of Australians oppose the use of medicinal cannabis. About a quarter – 24 per cent – say they are not sure. The results will further add to the momentum behind a legalisation bill currently before the federal parliament. The bill – drafted by Greens leader Richard Di Natale and co-sponsored by Liberal, Labor and crossbench senators – would make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of medicinal cannabis. A Senate inquiry into the bill is set to report back to Parliament next month. The bill looks likely to pass into law, particularly given Prime Minister Tony Abbott threw his support behind the legalisation last year. “I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” he said.

Cannabis kids: the long wait for change [Canberra Times]

Across Australia increasing numbers of families are turning to cannabis as a last resort to relieve their children’s seizures, chronic pain and a host of other suffering. But with no legal supply and many doctors unwilling to discuss use of an illegal drug, they are left to run the gauntlet of trial and error and the uncertainties of the black market. In this first part of a series looking at the medicinal cannabis debate, Scott Hannaford meets one family facing tough choices.

Medicinal cannabis: received submissions [Victorian Law Reform Commission]

The Commission received the following submissions in response to the issues paper for the medicinal cannabis reference. See the links below to the public submissions, placed here by permission of those who submitted them.

Medical marijuana to be trialled but patients want legal risks removed [ABC 7.30 Report]

Medical marijuana will be trialled in New South Wales, the first State to do so, but patients want the legal risk involved to be removed sooner than later.

Ill man’s plea for mercy on cannabis charges [The Armidale Express]

A chronically-ill man appeared in Armidale Local Court doubled over in pain, facing charges of growing medicinal marijuana. Alan Williams was convicted of four charges relating to the possession and cultivation of cannabis on his Ebor property. The 49-year-old spent most of his time before the court in visible pain after he repeatedly  refused a delay on his sentencing after his colostomy bag burst. “I don’t care if I go to jail or not,” Williams said on Monday.  According to his defence solicitor Joel Eng, Williams suffered from chronic pain, diabetes and pancreatitis, as well as two stokes and a seizure over the past few years.  He had no criminal convictions and gave evidence to police he had grown the cannabis plants as a last resort and to gain weight.  “I put on 10 kilos,” Williams said.  Mr Eng said: “It actually helped his health.  “We ask for mercy from the court.”  Williams’s Ebor property was searched on the morning of January 15 after a tip-off, police said. While at the property, police found 2004.8 grams of dried marijuana, as well as 88 cannabis plants in a greenhouse and flower bed.  Police noted Williams “freely participated in a notebook interview” where he admitted to growing the plants for his own pain relief and to gain weight. Magistrate Karen Stafford noted Williams’s cooperation with police and evidence the cannabis had been for personal use only. “I know there is a lot of moves to get cannabis administered by doctors … but it is still illegal,” she said. She placed Williams on a two-year good behaviour bond and ordered the drugs be destroyed.

The long-running war on drugs has failed: we need to legalise now [The Age]

In 2009 economist Tim Moore calculated the direct cost of prohibition in Australia was $2.7 billion, the vast majority of which was spent on law enforcement and incarceration. By contrast, the demonstrably effective national anti-tobacco strategy had a budget of $61 million from 2009-13. Despite tobacco being cheap, freely available and highly addictive, smoking is in decline. Education works, prohibition doesn’t.

The war on drugs must end now [Sydney Morning Herald]

I don’t want my children drug dependent but I also don’t want them facing a firing squad nor jail. There is no justice in death but there is little justice in being born into disadvantage, learning to sell drugs and being imprisoned. Prison is not the great teacher we thought it to be. Prison is where you form larger, tougher syndicates. Prison is where young men get access to more drugs. Prison fails our community and does not deliver justice. We must begin a new chapter. Remember the old adage about insanity being when you beat your head against a brick wall time and time again but expect a different outcome each time. Unless you build a rubber wall or wear a helmet that just isn’t going to happen. The Australian war on drugs must stop today.

Australian review jeopardises Norfolk Island medicinal cannabis export deal [The Guardian]

A landmark deal to grow a high-strain medicinal cannabis on Norfolk Island for export to Canada is in jeopardy, with the Australian government reviewing the decision. Last week, Perth-based AusCann Group Holdings was granted a licence by the Norfolk Island government, a self-governing external Australian territory, to grow a high-grade medicinal strain of cannabis. AusCann intends to export its first crop to Canada by July next year. However, the granting of the licence came after the Australian government passed legislation to abolish Norfolk’s Island parliament and replace it with a local council, which means the island government is effectively in caretaker mode while its laws are brought in line with Australian ones. From the end of June, Norfolk Island islanders will be brought under Australia’s taxation and welfare system during a transition period of about one year. A spokeswoman for the assistant minister for regional development, Jamie Briggs, said the licence to grow medicinal cannabis was now under review by the Australian government, which has the power to overturn the decision. “It’s not clear if any due diligence has been applied and the decision is inconsistent with established caretaker procedures,” she said.

Canadian Marijuana Growers Say: Don’t Import Sativa from Australia [Big Buds]

Why does the Canadian government show blatant disrespect for Canadian marijuana growers? That’s the question many of us are asking when we learn the Canadian government is facilitating a marijuana importation scheme in cahoots with the Australian government and an Australian “medical marijuana” company called AusCann. According to AusCann, the company will grow “Sativa and Sativa-dominant marijuana” that can’t be properly grown in Canada. AusCann claims that individual Canadian marijuana growers and the handful of companies licensed as official medical marijuana growers by the Canadian government aren’t capable of properly growing Sativa marijuana genetics. According to Michael Straumietis, who founded international hydroponics nutrients manufacturer Advanced Nutrients in Canada in the 1990s, Canadian marijuana growers “have been growing killer Sativa cannabis for decades. My hydroponics nutrients company did extensive medical marijuana cultivation research in Canada. And we ran cannabis grow op assistance programs for economically disadvantaged patients who couldn’t afford to cultivate their own buds,” Straumietis explains. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Canadian marijuana growers produce premium-grade Sativa buds.” Straumietis notes that AusCann and Australian officials say exporting medical cannabis to Canada will create many jobs in Australia. “Why does the Canadian government want to hand jobs to Australia? It boggles your mind to see Canadian government policies create a handful of corporate growers who can’t supply enough cannabis, while enabling import of marijuana from other countries,” Straumietis says. “Canadian marijuana growers could supply all Canada’s needs if the government followed the Colorado and Washington model.”

Don’t like sniffer dogs? There’s a party for that [inthemix]

If you – like drug research expertsharm minimisation campaigners and the NSW Greens – believe that drug sniffer dogs are ineffective and cause more harm than harm-prevention, then there’s a party for you. The “Sniff Off” party, happening in Sydney this Saturday, will protest against the use of sniffer dogs without a warrant, the Daily Telegraph reports. The party’s organisers say that police use of drug dogs “disproportionately affects the poor, Aboriginal and queer communities.” Upper House Greens MP David Shoebridge told the Daily Telegraph that they’d decided to throw the party, “to fight for the right to be free from oppressive over-policing,” while Greens state MP Jenny Leong said, “We want a harm minimisation approach to drugs and we don’t want intimidation and harassment from police and sniffer dogs in our community.”  Research put out last year by harm reduction advocates Unharm found that the vast majority of searches conducted by sniffer dogs – including an alarming 60% of strip searches – failed to find drugs. A spokesperson for NSW Police countered to the Daily Telegraph that 70% of searches either found drugs or the person admitted having been in contact with drugs. “Anyone worried about drug detection dogs,” the police spokesperson said, “should simply not bring drugs to those events.” But drug researchers and medical experts believe that sniffer dogs at parties and festivals can have fatal consequences. Sniffer dog operations “seem to only increase the health risks,” researchers Nicholas Cowdery and Alex Wodak wrote in the SMH last year, because the presence of drug dogs at festivals, “creates an incentive for attendees to take all their drugs at once prior to entering.” If you want to protest the use of sniffer dogs, then head to the Red Rattler theatre in Sydney’s Marrickville this Saturdaynight, where there’ll be live performances by Paul Mac and a stack of other local acts; there’s more information at the Red Rattler website.

Southwest Airlines baggage handlers ran alleged marijuana ring from Oakland [The Guardian]

Southwest Airlines baggage handlers took part in a marijuana distribution operation that stretched from Oakland, California, to Little Rock, Arkansas, a recently unsealed federal affidavit alleged. Nine of the accused have been arrested, two are serving sentences for other crimes, and three are still at large. The operation, the Drug Enforcement Agency said in its statement, allowed the baggage handlers – who weren’t required to go through a full security screening – to carry duffel bags and backpacks filled with plastic bags of the drug into the Oakland airport, where they handed them off to passengers who had already been through TSA checkpoints. The passengers then flew to cities including Little Rock and New Orleans, where they passed off the bags.

In Historic Vote, Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment [Drug Policy Alliance]

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bipartisan amendment today, 18 to 12, allowing Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. The vote is the first time the U.S. Senate has ever moved marijuana law reform legislation forward. “Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it’s medically necessary,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “They have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors.”

Is Massachusetts’ Medical Marijuana Industry Going Up in Smoke? [Trove]

One of the more recent states to legalize the use of medical marijuana is Massachusetts. In 2012 voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly approved the measure by a vote of 63% in favor to 37% against.What was particularly attractive about the Massachusetts medical marijuana industry was that it was to be self-funded, with licensing fees from medical dispensaries and patients paying for the annual costs to run the program. Businesses were expected to kick in $50,000 annually, with patients paying $50 per year. In fact, the law was written in such a way that a separate fund was set up strictly to administer the Massachusetts medical marijuana program. However, more than two-and-a-half years after the bill was approved, the Massachusetts medical marijuana industry is still struggling to get its feet off the ground, and it’s facing a substantial deficit in 2015.

When marijuana is decriminalized, what about prior convictions? [Aljazeera]

According to an analysis by the ACLU, more than 7 million Americans were arrested for marijuana possession between 2001 and 2010. And despite white Americans having similar marijuana usage, blacks are more than three and a half times more likely to be arrested. “Saying it’s a war on drugs is just a nice way of saying ‘war on black people,'” said Brown. “When they created the war on drugs, all of the propaganda was around black people and black communities – about crack.” The war on drugs is the main reason blocks and blocks of Baltimore are so derelict, according to Neill Franklin, a former Maryland state and Baltimore city police officer. The Sandtown neighborhood, where Freddie Gray lived before his death in police custody, is a prime example, he says: Once home to a thriving middle class, one in five residents today doesn’t have a job, nearly one-third live in poverty and the drug trade is the primary economy. “In this city, like many other cities, fighting the war on drugs … it’s 60 to 70 percent of what we do every day,” said Franklin, who now leads a group of 150,000 law enforcement workers and supporters working to end drug prohibition. “…We can no longer continue this notion of trying to solve a public health issue with criminal justice solutions … You can get over an addiction, but you’ll never, ever get over a conviction. Never.” Earlier this month, Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law – the Second Chance Act – allowing Marylanders who were convicted of certain minor crimes, including marijuana possession, to “shield” their court and police record after a three-year waiting period, essentially wiping the offense off their records to the general public. But unlike expungement, the record still exists for law enforcement purposes.

Forged Drug Test Results May Free Tens of Thousands From Prison [Counter Current News]

A recent US Supreme Judicial Court ruling is expected to free tens of thousands from prison. Those who are expected to be impacted by Monday’s decision are those whose drug samples were “mishandled” in a way that produced thousands of “forged” results, leading to incarceration.  The justices ruled unanimously that in cases where defendants’ convictions were based on evidence tainted by the chemist, Annie Dookhan, new trials can be sought without additional charges or more severe sentences being slapped on them as a deterrent.  Local WCVB news in Boston explained that Dookhan had tampered with test results, along with repeatedly forging documents and wantonly testifing falsely in criminal cases. All of this went on for more than 14 years, while she worked for the state crime lab.

FBI official named to take over embattled drug agency [LA Times]

US Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch reached into the ranks of top FBI administrators Tuesday for new leadership at the troubled Drug Enforcement Administration. Chuck Rosenberg, currently chief of staff to FBI Director James B. Comey, is expected to shake up DEA management practices and focus less on marijuana enforcement and more on heroin and other major drugs, a senior administration official said.

Three-year-old girl’s epilepsy seizures have fallen drastically due to cannabis, parents say [The Independent]

The parents of a three-year-old girl with epilepsy claim that since being treated with medical cannabis her daily seizures have fallen from more than 100 a day to fewer than 10. Addyson Benton’s family moved to Castle Rock, Colorado from their home in Ohio to legally purchase a specially designed cannabis-extract for her treatment. The marijuana, which is administered through a patch, contains THCA, a biosynthetic precursor of THC, the active component of cannabis.

How to make cash from cannabis legally at marijuana expo – in pictures [The Guardian]

Selling marijuana is certainly not a new market but as legalisation becomes the new normal and creates taxes for some states, by-the-book-earning potential is creating jobs people can actually tell their families about. The Hilton Chicago hosted the first of the twice-yearly Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, which is coming to Las Vegas in fall.

Marijuana incorporated: cannabis eases into a billion-dollar business high [The Guardian]

Four years ago Cassandra Farrington couldn’t find any venue in the country that would host her idea for a conference on the business of marijuana. This week, she hired out the Hilton Chicago, one of the city’s most famous hotels and one that has accommodated every US president since it opened in 1927. “When we first started looking for venues, people ran screaming in the other direction when we said ‘Hey, we want to have this marijuana business conference’. They were like ‘no way, get out of here’,” Farrington said as 2,103 attendees ate lunch from white tableclothed tables at the 2015 Marijuana Business Conference & Expo. “Our first conference was at this masonic lodge in downtown Denver because it was the only place that would rent a venue to us. “Being here [in the Hilton Chicago] is mind-boggling. It just shows how far the industry has come,” said Farrington, the co-founder and chief executive of Marijuana Business Media, which organised the three-day conference. “I don’t think you can come to this event and then think this isn’t a real industry.”

Marijuana prices: Map shows average pot prices in each US state [The Independent]

Where can you buy the cheapest marijuana in the US? Not surprisingly, the cheapest pot in the US can be found in the states where it is legal to use it recreationally. Oregon ($204 per ounce), Washington ($232), Colorado ($243) and Alaska ($294) all have legalised marijuana for recreational use and have stores that sell it, and are four of the cheapest states for weed.  California ($242 an ounce) is the only state cheaper than one of the states to have legalised pot. Data for weed prices was collected from PriceofWeed.com, a website where users can submit the price of high-quality weed in their area. For reference, an ounce of pot is slightly more than 28 grams and an average-sized joint typically contains less than one gram of marijuana. North Dakota ($387 an ounce) is the state with the most expensive marijuana and possession of at least an ounce of weed in that state is felony with a possible prison sentence of up to five years, according to NORML.

World’s First Medical Cannabis Registry Launched [Medscape]

Researchers in the province of Quebec, Canada, have launched a registry for users of medical cannabis that they hope will allow physicians to monitor patients’ safety and improve their ability to manage its use. The registry is a joint effort by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC). The project represents the world’s first research database on the use of cannabis for medical purposes and places the province at the forefront of research in the field of medical cannabis, according to a statement issued by McGill University. Health Canada estimates that more than 40,000 Canadians legally consume cannabis to relieve symptoms from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, cancer, or epilepsy.

Cannabis use can be prevented, reduced or delayed [Medical Xpress]

Responding to rapidly shifting legal and cultural environments, researchers at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital have found a way to prevent, reduce or delay cannabis use amongst some at-risk youth. Cannabis users are at risk of neurocognitive deficits, reduced educational and occupational attainment, motor vehicle accidents, exacerbation of psychiatric symptoms, and precipitation of psychosis. Adolescents are particularly at risk due to the developing nature of their brain. Youth who have used marijuana have been shown to have less ability to sustain their attention and control their impulse control and have impaired cognitive processes. “Marijuana use is highly prevalent among teenagers in North America and Europe,” explained Dr. Patricia Conrod, who led the study. “As attitudes and laws towards marijuana are changing, it is important to find ways to prevent and reduce its use amongst at-risk youth. Our study reveals that targeted, brief interventions by trained teachers can achieve that goal.”

Israel pizzeria ‘sprinkles synthetic marijuana on police pizza instead of oregano’ [ITV]

A pizzeria owner in Israel has been arrested after sprinkling marijuana instead of oregano on a pizza ordered by two policeman, local media reported.  Both officers were said to have been hospitalised after suffering vomiting, body tremors and dizziness.  Tests revealed they had ingested a synthetic form of cannabis known as Mr Nice Guy.  The pizza owner reportedly told police after his arrest: “I knew the pizza was for the cops but the guy I spoke to sounded cool on the phone. He told me to put whatever I wanted on it. So, instead of oregano, I sprinkled Nice Guy.” Israeli police said they regard the incident as serious and will be requesting a court order to close down the pizzeria on the grounds of public safety. Mr Nice Guy is just one of many types of synthetic marijuana, which is seen as more dangerous than the real thing because its active ingredient binds more strongly to cannabis receptors in the brain.

Coffee with a side of munchies? Pot-infused coffee is a thing [c|net]

Your next K-cup might give you a case of the munchies. Though cannabis coffee has been around for a while now, some crafty retailers are putting THC, one of the major active ingredients in marijuana, in coffee grounds and premeasured, single-serving K-cups so customers can get high while getting that much-needed energy boost from their cup of joe. In Seattle, where cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use, Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop now sells K-cups with 10mg of THC for $10 (about £6, AU$12), or as a 6 pack for $37 (about £23, AU$46). They also sell ground coffee with THC for $42 (about £27, AU$52) for those who don’t have one of Keurig’s single-serve coffee machines. As Yahoo Finance notes, 10mg is commonly used as a standard serving for marijuana edibles, and that serving amount is used in most of Uncle Ike’s other edibles like cookies, chocolates and even sodas. But how does THC-infused coffee make you feel? “I liken it to a Red Bull and vodka,” Uncle Ike’s sales manager Jennifer Lanzador told Yahoo Finance. “I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis.”

Alcohol use confounds the relationship between cannabis use and conversion to psychosis [The Mental Elf]

For over a decade, research has attempted to examine the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis, and we have summarised some of this cannabis and psychosis research in blogs on the Mental Elf. There is still some controversy in the debate about the nature of the relationship; some have found no link between cannabis use and psychosis (e.g. Buchy et al 2014) and others have found that those at high risk of psychosis who used cannabis were more likely to transition to psychosis than those who did not (e.g. Kristensen & Cadenhead 2007). In a recent study, Auther et al (2015) argued that previous research has failed to take into account the potential confounding effects of other substance use. In particular, the authors of the current study were interested in the potential role that alcohol may play in the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis, given the high prevalence rate of alcohol use in people with schizophrenia and in clinical ‘high risk’ samples.

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified, medical uses explored – academics [RT]

Psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms and LSD should be legally reclassified so researchers can investigate their potential medical uses, an academic specializing in drugs has said. James Rucker, from the Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at Kings College London, voiced the calls in a piece in the British Medical Journal published on Tuesday.  Rucker argues the total ban on psychedelic drugs in 1967 means scientists have been unable to fully explore the therapeutic potential of hallucinogenic drugs, despite numerous papers previously showing evidence for their use as “catalysts of mentally beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders, problems of personality development, recidivistic behavior, and existential anxiety.”  He further states that psychedelics are not known to be conducive to drug dependence, adding that the therapeutic index (toxic dose as a ratio of standard dose) in psychedelics is far higher than in other addictive substances, making them much safer.

Who needs poppies? Ordinary yeast can now produce opioids [ars technica]

Opioid analgesics—pain killers like morphine and codeine—are indispensable to modern medicine; they make recovery from surgical procedures slightly more bearable, and they alleviate pain in cancer patients. Opioid chemical relatives are also hugely important and include antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and cough suppressants. But these compounds are complex and difficult to synthesize, and labs can’t make them nearly as well as biological systems—specifically poppies—can. Manufacturing opioids would be so much easier if we could simply engineer microbes to just spit them out, as we’ve done for insulin and artemisin. Now, researchers have done exactly that.

Test workers, partygoers, for crystal meth use, NT ice inquiry head says [ABC]

The chairman of the NT Government’s inquiry into crystal methamphetamine suggests private and frontline public sector workers, as well as revellers on Darwin’s nightclub strip, be tested for ice if they are suspected of being affected by the drug. Nathan Barrett, a Country Liberal Government MP, raised the idea in Darwin yesterday at the first meeting of the select committee investigating ice use in the Territory. Mr Barrett said he expected his proposal would be met with concerns about privacy and the cost to employers, but said it was worth considering ways to prevent the spread of the drug in the NT. Speaking after the meeting Mr Barrett suggested the Federal Government subsidise greater use of hair follicle testing which can detect illicit drug use for up to three months, expanding the time window for detection compared with other forms of testing. He said the aim was to reduce recreational use of the drug and put traffickers out of business, and suggested a $500 dollar fine rather than criminal penalties would be preferable for those who return positive tests.

Leaked government research suggests drop in ice use [The Age]

Warnings of an “ice epidemic” by senior politicians and police may have been overstated, with federal government research suggesting use of the drug is well below peak levels. The Department of Health-commissioned research found “the use and the desire to use ice has declined”, the drug’s “brand” amongst young people had been “damaged” and overall illicit drug use had become “normalised in society”. The revelation of the confidential government drug research adds to a confusing picture about the use of ice, also known as methamphetamine, in Australia as strong debate continues about whether it is best treated as a law and order problem, a public health issue or a combination of both. Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently said Australia’s ice problem was “way beyond anything before now” and the Australian Crime Commission has warned “ice is emerging as a pandemic akin to the issue of ‘crack’ cocaine in the United States”. Mr Abbott has established a national ice taskforce headed by Victoria’s former police chief Ken Lay and launched a $11 million national advertising blitz. But public health experts such as Melbourne University’s John Fitzgerald have warned against scare campaigns and said data showed only 2 per cent of Australians were using ice and the overall number of amphetamine users had declined from 1998. To support its contention that ice use had declined, the research paper cited 2012 statistics that showed a 23 per cent decrease in the use of ice by regular ecstasy and psychostimulant drug takers between 2003 and 2012. In regards to ice, speed and heroin, the research advised “there did not seem to be any current need to communicate to young people specifically”.

Fourth Nimbin Medican Workshop [Nimbin HEMP]

Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy is hosting another of its popular Medical Cannabis Workshops in the Town Hall on June 20. President Michael Balderstone says the fast growing wave of fresh understanding about how good medical Cannabis can be, still has the HEMP Embassy busy with enquiries.

The special guest speaker this time is Paul Lawrence who survived an astounding 43 hour surgery in 2010 and endured a mega dose of radiation in 2013 to treat his recurrent Chordoma. After exhausting all avenues modern medicine has to offer he has transformed his health and stopped all pharmaceutical medications by turning to medical Cannabis, diet and a healthier lifestyle.

His story of a world first operation to remove a tumour the size of a football in his spine was recently told on the ABC’s 730 Report Medical marijuana to be trialled but patients want legal risks removed

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