HEMP Ready To Roll Again [Good News]
Congratulations to the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party who have passed the AEC review of registration and will be on the Senate ballot paper again for the next Federal Election.
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 Workshop in Nimbin June 20 [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 http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4241088.htm
“Paul is an exceptional example of how good Cannabis can be as a pain reliever and the word is out now that this herb can relieve your pain and help heal you without turning you into a zombie. Many chronic pain sufferers are changing from opioids to Cannabis and it’s interesting that deaths from opioids have dropped 25% in American States where they allow MC. We are also hearing from a lot of people who are having great success with Cannabis for anxiety, depression, seizures and autism. People are learning about Cannabis from the web that it might help them. It’s tragic they have to go to the black market for help and no one I know wants to wait for the NSW trials which are stuck in the starters blocks by the sound of it anyway,” said Michael who is inviting local politicians to come. “The June edition of National Geographic has MC as its feature story with a closing comment that ‘Cannabis has an embarrassment of riches’. It shows how mainstream this is becoming in America and how out of touch we are here,” says Michael who urges anyone interested to attend the free talks and says its a great way to meet other healers and lovers of the herb. Hemp farmer and HEMP Party secretary Andrew Kavasilas is also speaking at the Workshop along with local healers Radic Al and Chris Harris, solicitor Steve Bolt and more to be confirmed. Donations at the door are appreciated if you can and the Workshop will run from about 11 am til 4.20 pm. There is an Eighties Fluoro Disco Party in the Hall in the evening, a fundraiser for the Aquarian Foundation and all HEMP Party members are invited to a meeting and dinner at the Bush Theatre in Nimbin from 6 pm that evening.
One of Victoria’s largest suppliers of medical cannabis has been charged with serious trafficking offences, despite a push by federal and state governments to decriminalise the drug for those suffering from terminal illnesses and chronic pain. Police raided the Carrum Downs home of Matthew and Elizabeth Pallett on May 20 and seized more than five kilograms of marijuana and derivative products, before charging the couple with possession, cultivation and trafficking offences. The disabled pensioners have openly provided cannabis-based tinctures, chocolates and butters to about 80 regular clients, who suffer from medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, cancer, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease. “We only accept donations. And we only give it to people who show us a medical report confirming diagnosis with legitimate medical needs,” Mr Pallett said. “Many of those we are helping are fibromyalgia patients [sufferers of chronic pain] for whom the medical industry has no help. But a teaspoon of our lemon and mango butter morning and night gives them almost total pain relief,” he said. But the latest drug charges against the couple come as the Victorian Law Reform Commission prepares a report on the legalisation of medical cannabis, which has the backing of the Andrews Government.
A doctor and social work researcher says illicit use of the prescription-only pain killer fentanyl has become a significant problem in rural Australia. Speaking at the National Rural Health Conference in Darwin, Dr Allan said the drug is accessed via “doctor shopping” and from some drug dealers. “Around 2 per cent of the population use opioids like heroin, OxyContin and fentanyl,” she said. “It’s the same amount of people who use methamphetamine or ice, and very often people who use these drugs will use both. In the north-west of New South Wales, the police are arresting a lot more people for fentanyl or opioid misuse, not methamphetamine. More people are dying in rural areas from fentanyl overdoses than in the city.”
Greens want a leash on drug dogs [Daily Telegraph]
A political storm is brewing over the police drug detection dogs used after the Greens stepped up their campaign against the use of dogs in pubs, clubs and festivals. The party is planning to put forward a bill amendment that would force police to obtain warrants before searching for drugs after the dogs pick up a scent for drugs. But the boss of the Dog Squad Commander Superintendent Donna Adney said figures showing that one in four people stopped by the dogs had drugs in their possession was proof the highly trained dogs were a vital asset in the fight against drugs. In announcing notice of the bill this week, Greens MP David Shoebridge said the searches were “humiliating.” “When a police drug dog indicates somebody possesses drugs, the fact is they are getting it wrong between two thirds and three quarters of the time,” he said. “Despite drug dogs being wrong most of the time, thousands of people on public transport, at bars and festivals are subjected to humiliating public searches each year.”
A man involved in a multimillion-dollar cannabis syndicate has become the first person to be sentenced under Queensland’s controversial Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment laws. Joshua Robin Rohl, 31, was sentenced on Wednesday to five years’ jail, suspended after 18 months, after pleading guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to a string of drug offences. Many of the offences fall under the state’s tough Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act, which was introduced to target motorcycle gang members, but also applies to criminal groups. The court heard Rohl was part of a syndicate that couriered massive amounts of cannabis from Melbourne to Brisbane in 2013 and 2014. The drugs were hidden in small vacuum-sealed bags in checked luggage. Once they were repackaged at a site on the Gold Coast, the drugs were sold around Queensland.
Banned doctor champions cannabis use [The West Australian]
Queensland doctor Andrew Katelaris has been fighting for the right to use cannabis to treat his patients for years. The doctor was deregistered in 2005 after he refused to stop recommending medical cannabis to his seriously ill patients. Dr Katelaris told theTimes while a clinical trial into medical cannabis was a step in the right direction to legalise the plant, he did not believe it was the best way to test the drug on patients. “Cannabis can be used to relieve an enormous amount of pain and suffering and is safer to use than taking Panadol,” he said. Dr Katelaris has had a lot of experience working with cannabidiol cannabis, which unlike tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis, is non-psychoactive. He said he had successfully used the oil to treat children suffering from epilepsy and adults who were seriously ill. “Cannabis is not a miracle cure, so you can’t give it to someone with terminal cancer and weeks to live and expect them to survive, but it has anti-cancer effects and can be used in conjunction with surgery, instead of chemo to treat early-stage cancers,” he said. “It’s impossible to hurt an organ with cannabis, unlike using chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can cause organ death.”
Pots of profits in weed: Perth’s mining market eyes medical cannabis amid resources downturn [PerthNow]
Money doesn’t grow on trees — but Perth companies are hoping medicinal cannabis pot stocks could soon mean big business. Medical marijuana — dubbed green gold — is forecast to hit $40 billion globally in five years as more nations legalise the treatment for pharmaceutical purposes. Nedlands-based Phytotech Medical recently became the first ASX-listed medical cannabis company and in July will merge with Canadian firm MMJ. Ross Smith, who founded Phytotech, was previously managing director at Pilbara Mines. “Because of the mining downturn, there’s opportunity now arising in the world market that wasn’t there previously,” Phytotech chairman Peter Wall said. Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) party president Michael Balderstone said a century ago doctors would recommend cannabis as a pain reliever. “I have no doubt it’s going to be legalised, but it’s a slow train coming,” he said. “Pain relief is probably the most profitable business on Earth — all the best pain relievers are illegal: opium poppy, cannabis and coca plants.” Medicinal marijuana is also used to treat children with epilepsy, just a small amount can stop an epileptic seizure. Mr Balderstone said former mining companies were identifying the medicinal cannabis market as a commodity. WA Health Minister Kim Hames said there was evidence supporting the benefits of cannabis extracts. “But the evidence still needs to be of sufficient scientific quality to definitively answer questions about safety and efficacy,” Dr Hames added. “There’s no point all states doing the same sorts of trials at the same time, so WA is waiting on the results of the NSW trials.”
Cannabis Use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey [Ministry of Health NZ]
The 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) provides valuable information about cannabis use by adults aged 15 years and over. It builds upon and adds value to the findings of the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey report on cannabis. This report presents information on cannabis use in New Zealand, including patterns of use, drug-driving, harms from use (productivity and learning, and mental health), legal problems, and cutting down and seeking help. Information on the medicinal use of cannabis is also presented.
US Congress Votes to End DEA’s Invasive Bulk Data Collection Program and Slashes Agency’s Budget [Drug Policy Alliance]
Legislators voted by a simple voice vote last night to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives’ consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.
Nationwide protests in the USA against police brutality and calls for police reform during the past two years has led one group of law enforcement officers to agree wholeheartedly that policing needs to change, and so do policies. The group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, is made up of current and former police officers, federal agents, judges, and prosecutors who are pushing for an official end to the drug war, and what they say are decades of worsening violence between cops and citizens because of the war on drugs. “It’s exacerbating every social problem we have in the United States,” said Jack Cole, a retired lieutenant of the New Jersey State Police and current board member of LEAP. “You name the problem and I can explain the way it’s being affected by the drug war,” he said. “Let’s talk about the institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement. Both of those things are tremendously affected by the war on drugs. What happens when you take police officers who are supposed to protect and serve communities and you train them to go to war?”
Just what was the most popular product sold on the Silk Road, the anonymous online marketplace whose founder has been sentenced to life in prison without parole? A study by a Carnegie Mellon researcher, Nicolas Christin, offers an answer. Marijuana was No. 1, followed by the nonspecific category “drugs.” As Christin notes in his paper, 16 of the top 20 categories are drug-related, with “soft drugs” like marijuana outselling “hard drugs” like opiates. “This presumably simply reflects market demand,” he wrote. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who went by the online moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts” after a character from “The Princess Bride,” was sentenced Friday. He had faced a minimum of 20 years in prison after being found guilty on a range of charges, from drug trafficking to money laundering. According to prosecutors, the site generated about $214 million in sales between early 2011 and late 2013, when FBI agents shut down the website, seized about $4 million in bitcoin, and arrested Ulbricht in San Francisco.
To encourage responsible consumption of cannabis, highway safety advocates We Save Lives has developed a rolling paper with a unique design that sports the message, “Pot slows your reactions. Don’t smoke and drive”. As the user rolls up the joint, the scene of two cars colliding head-on into each other is revealed on the paper.
Meet the Oregon police dogs who have a big drug problem [The Guardian]
Trained to sniff out marijuana, canine cops face unemployment after the state’s legalisation of cannabis made their skill suddenly surplus to requirements. All over Oregon, police forces are either retiring their drug dogs, or playing wait-and-see and betting for now that prosecutors will be able to carry the day until their dogs serve out their term. Meanwhile, in Roseburg’s prison, Dora may the drug dog well find herself interacting with people who she helped to send there. For those of us who are dog-lovers, but who also feel dismay at all the time, energy and money that’s gone into punitive approaches to drug use, that may seem a little sad. A dog’s love, playfulness and eagerness to please in doing the job it was trained for mean that like so many inmates, it has to be wrenched away from its loved ones and spend its days behind prison walls. How long do we want to go on making love a part of the apparatus of the war on drugs?
Establishment figures are turning to marijuana as inspiration for the next big entrepreneurial idea. Or ganjapreneurial idea, if you will. The United States is now home to the Martha Stewart of weed, a women’s cannabis networking group, and Uber for weed. Meanwhile, the former chief of homeland security for New York is currently in charge of protecting marijuana shipments. Meet the very respectable leaders of America’s weed revolution. Cheryl Shuman runs the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club – the “definitive authority on connoisseurship for discerning cannabis consumer” – and is the Los Angeles chapter chair for Women Grownetworking group, which encourages more women to break into the marijuana industry. The group was first launched in Denver, Colorado in 2014, and has spread to dozens of cities accross the US. Women (and some men too) meet once a month at Women Grow events to discuss financial opportunities in the marijuana industry, such as stylish vaporizers, weed-infused creams, and cannabis photography. Shuman is also executive director of Moms for Marijuana and personally uses cannabis juicing and raw cannabis salads as part of her medical marijuana use. For women keen to get involved, experts predict that there will be200,000 marijuana-related jobs created in 2015 alone.
Motorists will be tested for cannabis and cocaine for the first time during an anti-drink and drugs campaign by the four Welsh police forces. Officers will be able to take swabs from drivers’ mouths to test for any of eight prescription or eight illegal drugs after a change in regulations. The new rules run alongside the existing law where it is an offence to drive when impaired by any drug. Drivers face prosecution if they exceed limits set for the tests. The existing penalties mean drug drivers already face a fine up to £5,000, up to six months in prison and a minimum one-year driving ban. Those using prescription drugs within recommended amounts will not be penalised. The All Wales Summer Anti-Drink and Drug Drive Campaign begins on Monday and runs for a month.
Roadside drug-driving tests being used for first time by Greater Manchester Police [Manchester Evening News]
New ‘sniffing’ tests to catch out motorists driving on drugs will be being used for the first time in Greater Manchester today. Police say new roadside kits will be invaluable in the fight against reckless drivers who are high behind the wheel. Modelled on drink-driving testing, new legislation places legal limits on eight illegal drugs and eight medicinal drugs. It will run alongside existing drug-drive laws but removes the need for prosecutors to prove impairment of driving due to the influence of drugs. Police will enforce the law with roadside saliva testing kits set to check for cannabis and cocaine.
A new-found fascination for weed restaurants is spreading, in a cloud of pungent smoke, to London. Come June, a pop-up joint (sorry) called the Cannibistro will arrive, inspired by “the fine art of getting high”. Cannibistro will flog a four-course meal, reflecting those “hazy memories of teenage years” with a theme focusing on the giggly climb to highness – and the inevitable munchies that hits later (though parents will be relieved to know no actual drugs are used). It’s all very much self-confessed cliché for those behind the project. But these cannabis-styled establishments are gaining momentum, despite associations with a more relaxed pace. In the US – at least in the states where the drug is legal – there are a growing number of supposedly high-end (again, sorry) dining spots serving weed as cuisine – ‘Nouvelle élevé’, perhaps. Hapa Sushi and Sake Bar in Colorado even goes as far as to offer weed and food pairings, where diners are encouraged to smoke some drugs while sampling the likes of katsu curry. In Seattle too, there’s been recent talk of a full-on authentic stoner dining experiencecalled MagicalButter, where the substance is actually in the food.
On Wednesday, a new satirical ad that mocks the DEA will run in the congressional newspaper, Roll Call. It is a parody job listing that describes the ideal candidate to head the DEA. The listing contains information from the Drug Policy Alliance’s “The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know,” published last month. The mock advertisement comes on the heels of the disgraceful resignation of Bush-appointed administrator, Michelle Leonhart, who failed to terminate agents caught in cartel funded, drug-filled parties with prostitutes. Perhaps more offensively, she repeatedly refused to concede that cannabis was not as dangerous as heroin or crack. The ad skewers nearly every aspect of the DEA’s scandals and policies as part of a campaign to influence President Obama’s selection for a new administrator. It begins with the statement that the DEA is looking for a new chief to “prolong the failed war on drugs.”
This Government’s ban on legal highs is mind-bendingly stupid [The Independent UK]
Sometimes it is hard not to wonder at the stupidity of Westminster. Advanced nations around the world are waking up to the failure of the war on drugs, with more than 20 countries introducing forms of decriminalisation. From Lisbon and Prague to Mexico City, Montevideo and Washington, policy-makers have learned the lethal absurdity of prohibition and the corrosive consequences of handing control of a £200bn trade to the most savage gangsters on the streets. But not here in Britain. Our politicians still fight the futile battles of the past. The view from Whitehall is that if people are using nitrous oxide for a cheap hit at a festival, or buying a cannabis-like substance for a giggle, they must be stopped at all costs (even if many ministers themselves used illegal substances in their youth). So the Government, having banned 500 new drugs already, has announced a crackdown on all legal highs. Under legislation outlined in the Queen’s Speech, hastily cobbled together in the wake of the surprise Tory victory, there will be a ban on “any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”, apart from specified exemptions such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, food and medical products. There is, of course, the faint whiff of authoritarianism about a state outlawing everything except those products it sanctions. But put that aside and consider the arguments behind the move.
Sir Paul McCartney: I stopped smoking cannabis to ‘set an example’ to my grandchildren [Telegraph UK]
Sir Paul McCartney has said he no longer smokes cannabis because he does not want to set “an example” for his grandchildren. The 72-year-old former Beatle, who has five children and eight grandchildren, said he last smoked “a long time ago” and now prefers a glass of wine or a “nice margarita”. “I don’t do that any more. Why? The truth is I don’t really want to set an example to my kids and grandkids. It’s now a parent thing,” he told the Daily Mirror. “Back then I was just some guy around London having a ball, and the kids were little so I’d just try and keep it out of their faces.
Lamb criticises ‘catastrophic failure’ of war on drugs and urges rational, education-based approach. The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Norman Lamb has called for the UK to legalise, regulate and tax the sale of cannabis. The former care minister and MP for North Norfolk said the UK should draw on examples from US states such as Colorado, which legalised the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by over-21s in November 2012. He said he wanted immediate legalisation of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and said there should be a swift evidence-based policy change in relation to recreational use. Lamb acknowledged that the legalisation of recreational use would require a UN treaty change, which he said could be secured at the 2016 meeting of the general assembly on the UN’s drug control system. “There has been a catastrophic failure of the war on drugs, with thousands of lives lost,” Lamb said. Drug laws were “criminalising so many young people, which blights their lives because of a decision about personal use which then affects their careers and creates a global criminal network”.
Medical Marijuana And Aka Foragers: Drug Possibly Curbed Intestinal Infections In Hunter-Gatherers [Medical Daily]
The history of medical cannabis is quite long: Humans have been using marijuana to cure headaches and chronic pain, as an anaesthetic, and to treat wounds throughout the majority of human existence. In ancient China and Taiwan, surgeons used cannabis as an anaesthetic during surgery; in Egypt, it was used to relieve haemorrhoid pain. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that new research suggests that hunter-gatherer tribes used cannabis as a way to unconsciously stave off intestinal worms. The study, conducted by Washington State University anthropologists, examined cannabis use among Aka foragers — a group of people in Central Africa who are known as tropical forest foragers — in order to see whether people outside of the Western way of thinking used the drug therapeutically. “In the same way we have a taste for salt, we might have a taste for psychoactive plant toxins,” Ed Hagen, an anthropologist at Washington University Vancouver and an author of the study, said in the press release. “So we thought, ‘Why would so many people around the world be using plant toxins in this very recreational way?’ If you look at non-human animals, they do the same thing, and what a lot of biologists think is they’re doing it to kill parasites.” They analyzed 400 adult Aka who lived near the Lobaye River in the Central African Republic, finding that 70 percent of the males and six percent of the females used marijuana. Next, they sampled stool from the participants to measure helminth infections — and found that 95 percent of them contained the infection. Interestingly, the people who used cannabis had lower rates of infection than those who didn’t use the drug.
So what about brightening up your main street with some delightful green grass? Definitely the kind you thing we’re thinking of. Because in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, some street verges seem to have a bit of a weed problem. Tens of thousands of what appear to be cannabis plants have been installed on two major streets in the city. The specimens are now thriving at the corner of Auezov and Dzhangeldina. There have also been sightings in front of the city’s Tree of Life Sculpture. Although cannabis consumption is illegal in Kazakhstan, the plant thrives there naturally. The country’s Chuy Valley is believed to be the largest natural cannabis field in the world, with more than 4,000 square kilometres of land – an area twice the size of Mauritius – largely covered in the plant.
Archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old solid gold ‘bongs’ used by kings to smoke cannabis at ceremonies[Daily Mail UK]
Archaeologists have uncovered two 2,400-year-old pure gold ‘bongs’ that were used by tribal chiefs to smoke cannabis during ceremonies. The historic drug paraphernalia was found alongside 7lbs of other gold items when an area of land was dug up in Russia to make way for power lines. Criminologists have since carried out tests which indicate that the thick, black residue found inside the vessels comes from the cannabis and opium which the tribal royal smoked. Experts believe the items belonged to the Scythians, a nomadic warrior race who ruled large swathes of Europe and Asia between the 9th century BC and the 4th century AD. It means the so-called bongs could be some of the oldest in existence. Several historians say the Scythians smoked, and sometimes brewed, a strong concoction of cannabis and opium in order to alter their state of mind before heading into battle. Famed Greek historian Herodotus, who died in 425BC, wrote: ‘Scythians used a plant to produce smoke that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass which made them shout aloud.’
Remind me again, how does cannabis affect the brain? [The Conversation]
The creation of a well-regulated cannabis market, as has occurred in Colorado, may give researchers access to reliable information about the chemical composition of the cannabis that an individual is consuming. This will make it possible to directly investigate whether CBD has a role to play in limiting the damage or even aiding recovery from the cannabis-related harm to the brain from heavy use. Establishing the long-term impact of cannabis on the brain is a research priority for neuroscientists. Answers are needed to largely untouched questions such as whether any potential harm could be reversed (through exercise or other interventions) and whether increasing the concentration of CBD can limit the negative impact caused by cannabis high in THC. The legislative changes poised to increase the availability of cannabis are outpacing our understanding of the impact that the drug has on the brain. Without addressing these shortfalls in our knowledge, a fully informed debate about the likely consequences of increased cannabis use, whether it be for medical or recreational use, will not be possible.
In Australia, roadside drug testing (RDT) is the chief means used to deter drug driving. Although it runs along similar lines to the more established method of random breath testing (RBT), it is considerably more expensive. Given the high cost in equipment and resources to undertake RDT, many jurisdictions have conducted reviews of the effectiveness and operations of their RDT program. Reviews have been undertaken of RDT and made publicly available in the states of Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania. Queensland are also planning to evaluate their program, although no report has yet been published. This paper examines the methodology of these reviews and discusses their findings to draw out policy implications for RDT in Australia. In terms of methodology, the RDT reviews have all focused on process evaluations and analysis of data pertaining to enforcement and detection. There have been no attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of RDT using a crash-based analysis. The reviews have been uniformly positive and supportive of the RDT programs introduced across Australia. Success has been claimed for RDT on the basis of increased detection of drug drivers following its introduction and some changes in the results of self-reported surveys about drug driving attitudes and behaviour. In most cases, a number of recommendations have nonetheless been made to improve the jurisdiction’s RDT program. The lack of evidence of reductions in drug driving crashes, however, prevents the specification of a best practice model of RDT.
Don’t Use Drugs Or You Will End Up…… [Daily Liked]
This is supposed to be an anti-drug campaign, but the way we see it, it’s a huge fail. Basically, it tells you that when you’re high, the world is full of beautiful babes and they all want only you, when you’re not, you’re just a weirdo. Hell, in that case, I want whatever this guy is smoking. And, truth be told, that’s one good looking sheep, LOL. Scratch that. Kids, you should most definitely NOT do drugs. Drugs are totally bad and don’t let this video tell you any different.