Think back to when environmental protection, sustainable living and organic food were just crazy concepts expressed by Hippies and other green extremists. Nowadays the concepts have grown into billion dollar industries around the world.
The Cannabis revival was also included in the Hippie Dream because it fits perfectly with an environmentally conscious, sustainable and organic way of life.
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.
Australia Is Warming up to Medical Cannabis [Waking Times]
Australia has become the latest country to put medical marijuana to the test, and while they aren’t looking to legalize it quite yet (which is what the Australian activists who’ve been pressuring them want), they’ve taken a significant step. Alexandra Preston at Natural Society tells us more. “Since 2014, there has been much pressure from activists in Australia to legalize cannabis, at least for medicinal use. Fortunately, all their hard work is beginning to bear fruit, with New South Wales introducing a trial last year in order to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, relieve chronic pain, and treat some of the many chemo-induced side effects suffered by thousands of cancer patients. More recently, the states of Victoria and Queensland have joined this trial, also with an emphasis on treating children with severe epilepsy. The principle driving force behind this has been a multitude of cases of children finally being able to lead more normal lives, with little to no seizures and an increasing level of functioning, once they began taking cannabis oil.”
Why online shopping for drugs is seen as a safer option [Sydney Morning Herald]
Anyone following the Silk Road story could be forgiven for thinking that the online black market’s shutdown in October 2013 and the sentencing of its owner to life in prison without possibility of parole last week meant the end of online drug sales. Nothing is further from the truth. The results of the latest Global Drug Survey show the number of illicit drug users turning to the dark web – the hidden internet accessible with easily-obtained free software – is growing. At its peak, Silk Road had 13,000 sales listings and comprised 70 per cent of the dark web drug trade. There are now more than 43,000 listings across more than 20 twenty stores – the largest active market has in excess of 16,000 advertisements for illegal drugs. More than 10 per cent of Australian recent drug users bought from the dark web markets (compared with 5.9% worldwide) – a steady rise on previous years. They said they were more comfortable buying online than face to face, experienced less violence and got a better-quality product. Range and convenience play a part, but a safer drug using experience is key. Online drug dealers have to compete for customers by offering better-quality service and product. Like any e-commerce, they depend on customer feedback and repeat business. The markets encourage communities where like-minded people chat online about drugs, favoured sellers, experiences and harm reduction. Some markets even employ medical professionals to provide tailored drug-use advice to customers. Drug users have not been frightened off by the high-profile arrests of dark web customers. GDS respondents reported that the overall experience was preferable to traditional face-to-face drug deals. The purity is higher, there is no need to meet shady characters and they are almost guaranteed to receive exactly what they ordered. The same cannot be said for the most popular ways of procuring drugs – from friends or acquaintances, from local dealers, in nightclubs or at festivals.
Are police officers providing their name and place of duty when required? [NSW Council for Civil Liberties]
The NSW Ombudsman is conducting a review of Part 15 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, which requires police to state their name and place of duty in certain circumstances, such as when stopping, searching or arresting someone. Full details and background of the review. We need your feedback to make a submission. The Ombudsman asks: In your experience, are police currently complying with the requirement to provide their name and place of duty? If you can tell us about a particular interaction with police, please explain the circumstances and whether police provided their name and place of duty.
Aussie ‘pot stock’ MGC Pharmaceuticals wins license to grow marijuana [Financial Review]
An Australian pharmaceutical company, the most recent “pot stock” to trade on the ASX, has become one of the first local players to be granted a license to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. MGC Pharmaceuticals, which is operated out of Israel, will be allowed to grow, process, import and export cannabis from Slovenia, where the government has legalised the practice. Fellow Australian cannabis producer, AusCann, secured permission to grow and export marijuana on Norfolk Island in May. The difference between the two producers is MGC hopes to produce a product for the cosmetic industry whereas AusCann is targetting pain relief. MGC Pharmaceuticals recently struck a reverse takeover deal with Erin Resources in the hopes of transforming the languishing gold-explorer into a cannabinoid resin producer.
The Government’s decision to grant the one-off use of cannabis to a Nelson teenager in an induced coma has been backed by ONE News readers. Associate Minister of Health Hon Peter Dunne yesterday granted the use of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product from the United States, to be administered by doctors treating Alex Renton in Wellington Hospital. The 19-year-old has been in the hospital’s intensive care unit since April with a condition causing him to suffer repeated seizures. The Capital and Coast District Health Board asked the Ministry of Health to approve the use of medical marijuana after all Alex’s other treatment options had failed. However, Mr Dunne said the approval was a one-off and was in no way to be “construed as setting a wider precedent”.
Time Magazine Releases Cover Story on Pain Killers [National Pain]
The June 15 issue of Time Magazine is out with a cover story on Pain Killers that says America’s addiction to them is the worst addiction crisis the country has ever seen. Calling it a national epidemic, it says “9.4 million Americans take opioids for long-term pain and 2.1 million are estimated by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to be hooked.” The article written by Massimo Calabresi calls the crisis a “tragic combination of good intentions, criminal deception and feckless oversight to turn America’s desire to relieve its pain into such widespread suffering.” It recounts how the FDA approved ever more powerful drugs for long-term use without enough data, the pharmaceutical companies marketed aggressively, and doctors wrote the prescriptions too freely.
Shona Banda is an outspoken cannabis user who has made Youtube videos and written a book promoting the treatment. Last year, Truth in Media reported on her innovative and inexpensive method to extract cannabis oil for medicinal use. She says that contrary to the charge of child endangerment, her use of cannabis has actually made her a better mother: “I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much…I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick. And now I’m a fantastic mother.” She only tried cannabis oil after trying conventional medical treatments and being informed that her Crohn’s disease was terminal. Since her current ordeal with the government began, she has ceased treatment and says she has lost weight and sustained an infection in the roof of her mouth. Banda faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and the long-term removal of her son from her custody. She is expected to turn herself in to authorities on June 15. “I do believe that they’re trying to make an example out of me,” Banda said. Multiple petitions have secured over 130,000 signatures calling for the rescindment of charges against her. “I’m very afraid…I cannot believe that I could be facing 30 years in prison for trying to save my life,” she said of the charges against her.
Sure, getting intimate while getting high is not exactly a 21st-century invention. Cannabis was used for a range of medicinal purposes more than 10 centuries ago in ancient India, including — you guessed it — as a turn-on trigger. There are at least 18 variations of bhang, a grass-infused drink that was used as a sort of love potion in the ancient Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbi systems of medicine, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some experts, like anthropologist Christian Rätsch in his book Plants of Love: The History of Aphrodisiacs and a Guide to Their Identification and Use, argue that weed was a central component to the sexual part of ancient Hindu and Buddhist Tantra, though it’s still up for debate how prominently it was featured. And modern science hasn’t exactly cleared the haze when it comes to pot’s effect on sex. A flurry of studies in the 1980s found mixed results, with some noting that bud put a serious damper on sex while others found it lit a fire under the bed, according to Michael Castleman, a journalist who specializes in sexuality. Research into the weed/sex tie-up went on hiatus until about a decade ago, when Canadian researchers picked up the torch and found that one-third of interviewees used weed specifically for its sex-enhancing properties, while another third said it “seldom” or “never” improved sex. “It doesn’t work the same way for everybody,” warns Andrew Hathaway, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Guelph.
The New Jersey governor takes a hardline stance against cannabis, while Rand Paul supports weed legislation and other GOP candidates prioritise states’ rights. On Sunday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie set out his stall firmly against legalised cannabis on CBS’s Face The Nation, vowing to clamp down using federal law on states such as Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska that have legalised the drug. Cannabis is still – technically – prohibited by federal law; however, the Obama administration has allowed legalisation to go ahead on a state-by-state basis so far without federal interference. Hillary Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has indicated that she will maintain this uneasy status quo. Presidential candidate Rick Perry, as governor of Texas, moved his state toward decriminalisation of cannabis, and told reporters that “states should be able to set their own policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalisation” so that “people will decide where they want to live”. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPac) in February, former Florida governor Jeb Bush– who is expected to announce his presidential campaign on Monday – said that he thought marijuana legalisation was “a bad idea” – but also said he supported the right of states to pursue it themselves. At the same conference, Texas senator Ted Cruz, another presidential candidate, called legalisation “a great embodiment of what supreme court justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy’”, adding that for citizens of Colorado to decide they want to go down that road, “that’s their prerogative”. Dan Riffle, the federal policy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, himself a former prosecutor, told the Guardian that he found Christie’s hardline stance “troubling”. “Federal law enforcement resources are limited, and there are more important things to focus them on – like terrorism and violent crime – than busting businesses for nonviolent activity that’s legal under state law. Colorado is showing that, when property regulated, marijuana isn’t a threat to public safety,” Riffle said. He pointed out, however, that most of the GOP field – especially Paul, but also Perry, Cruz, Bush and even Rubio, have said at one time or another that this issue came down to that of states’ rights. “True conservatives support federalism and the 10th amendment, and oppose a one-size-fits-all federal solution to issues that should be left to the states,” he said.
Before he became a renowned neuroscientist and drug abuse specialist, Dr. Carl Hart dabbled in selling and using drugs while growing up in Miami. Hart said the overwhelming majority of drugs users don’t have a drug problem, and he’s advocating for governments to change their approach. “The first thing I would do,” said Hart, a medical doctor and associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, “I would make sure that we stop arresting people.” Drugs are often used as a scapegoat for other problems such as poverty and crime, said Hart, adding that drugs are not as addictive as we have been told. Hart said the vast majority of people who use drugs like crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are not addicted and are able to go to work, pay taxes, bills, and take care of their families. “When you have this relatively small percentage of users becoming addicted, it tells you that it’s not the drug itself. The people who we see — for example on [East] Hastings — The reason why they are there, it varies. If we really want to know we’d have to give them individual assessments. You could disrupt drug taking behaviour if you had a careful understanding of what was motivating [it],” said Hart. “Sometimes people have trauma or co-occurring psychiatric disorders that you have to treat. Other times they’re just destitute.”
In the places where marijuana is legal, more and more children are being accidentally exposed to their parents’ drugs, a study finds. The good news is that it is still rare for children to be exposed to marijuana when they are younger than six – but the trend is not exactly heading in the right direction. Marijuana is now legal in more places than ever, and as a result, the number of reports that children have accidentally ingested or inhaled the drug is increasing. The study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, analysed figures from the National Poison Data System, which is the clearing house for data from all of the poison control centres in the United States. The data in the study covered 2000 to 2013. The incidents were self-reported, and the data set is probably subject to a certain amount of human error and under-reporting. But it gives a pretty comprehensive picture of the trends across the entire United States.
Drug Policy Alliance Releases B-Roll Footage for Television Outlets and Online News Featuring ‘Everyday’ People Using Marijuana[Drug Policy Alliance]
“We’ve all seen it before, a serious news story about marijuana policy that cuts away to footage of a young guy covered in tie-dye and marijuana leaves who looks more or less like a cannabis cartoon,” said Sharda Sekaran, managing director of communications for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s goofy, awkward, distracting and doesn’t reflect the average marijuana consumer, who more than likely looks like a normal person you might see at a bank, supermarket or office. We’re hoping media will use this free video footage, or at the very least think twice about running stereotypical stoner images for their marijuana stories.”
The First Church of Cannabis has been recognised as a church and charitable organisation in Indiana, despite the drug still being illegal in the state. The church doesn’t worship cannabis but celebrates it as a way of bringing people “closer to love”. It was founded by 59-year-old Bill Levin to protest a new law in Indiana which protects the religious rights of businesses – it could allow a florist to refuse to cater for a gay wedding, for example. Campaigners against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act argue that the law will allow companies to discriminate against certain faiths, and the LGBT community. Bill’s response was to highlight the law by pushing its limits and forming his own church in March – his theory being that the state, by its own laws, had no right to intervene. It was an unusual protest idea which seems to have worked a bit too well – the church has now been recognised by the state as a charity, and therefore has official recognition. That’s despite cannabis still being illegal in Indiana.
One scientist who is intrigued by the potential of marijuana treatments is Dr. Amy Brooks-Kayal, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy in Denver, who is also the president of the American Epilepsy Society. She urges caution, saying there just isn’t enough known about these oils to say they are safe or how they may ultimately affect patients. Dr. Brooks-Kayal welcomes more research on medical marijuana. “You have to do the studies,” she says. “In medicine, believing that we know the truth without doing the study is a very unsafe thing to do. The reports from a single family or a single child don’t mean that anybody else is going to respond that way.” Dr. Brooks-Kayal, and the organization she heads, do support changing federal laws to make research on marijuana easier. Other experts Harry Smith spoke to believe there is potential to alleviate other neurodegenerative conditions with cannabis-based treatments.
The show was accurate in describing the difficulty these business owners face in finding a bank. Most of the major banks will not service these customers and some of the state chartered banks that were stepping in are now pulling back. First, they are concerned about the new Attorney General Loretta Lynch who is not for legalization. Secondly, it’s expensive for the banks to handle these customers. The amount of employees required to fill out all the paperwork to keep the banks in compliance make these money losing customers. The banks have to fill out SARS paperwork or Suspicious Activity Reports on the accounts. This takes people and time and while these businesses may be swimming in cash, it doesn’t pay off for the smaller banks. The big banks have said they won’t allow this type of banking until marijuana is no longer illegal at the Federal level. The major credit card companies MasterCard MA -0.78% and Visa V -1.01% both say they will not work with cannabis customers, but the dispensaries have figured out ways around this. Some have installed ATM machines or vending kiosks that make a plastic card transaction easier. Many of the dispensaries advertise that they can accept MasterCard and Visa, they just tweak the transactions so that it looks as if the customer is just making a withdrawal and then the cash is turned back over to the business. Another issue for businesses is insurance. ’60 Minutes’ had probably prepared this story some time ago and maybe didn’t have a chance to update it with the latest snag on insurance. Lloyds of London on Friday told its affiliates to no longer issue or renew policies for cannabis companies in the U.S. It covers quite a few of these businesses here and as many as 2,000 owners could be left without insurance. Hannover Re a German insurer may be stepping in to pick up these policies, but like the banks that have stopped servicing these clients, the insurers may be scared off too.
Weeded out [The Economist]
In 2000 a report published by Europe’s drug agency (EMCDDA) found that Britain had an unusually large number of young cannabis users: they “topped the EU league”, as one British paper spun it. This year’s report, published on June 4th, showed that in the past 15 years the tables have turned. While the number of 15- to 34-year-olds using pot has risen or held steady in most countries, in England and Wales it has almost halved. Why? One possible explanation, says Alex Stevens, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Kent, is the rise in Britain of high-strength “skunk”, which is grown domestically, and the decline of cannabis resin, which is milder, and mostly brought in from north Africa. Britain’s domestic pot production is booming: the number of growing operations seized more than doubled between 2007 and 2009, overtaking the Netherlands and accounting for half the busts in Europe. But skunk’s stronger effects may put new users off: the number of Britons seeking medical help after taking pot has risen by more than half in the past ten years. The extra potency also cuts down the ways cannabis can be used. The drug is often taken alongside others, such as ecstasy; such mixing is riskier when weed’s effects are heightened. The trend coincides with a decline in smoking. The most common way to take cannabis in Britain is still to mix it with tobacco, so non-smokers are less likely to take up the drug. In America, where cannabis tends to be smoked by itself, there seems to be no such link: the number of smokers has been falling since 2005, while that of cannabis users has risen. British cannabis has become dearer, too. A quarter-ounce (7 grams) of skunk has risen in price from £30 in 2006 (then $55) to £50 ($77). That is about two-thirds more expensive than in Spain, for instance.
The Liberal Democrat leadership contender Norman Lamb has made the perfect case for the continued existence of his party. In highlighting the idiocies of the law on cannabis, Mr Lamb – fast carving himself out a reputation as a true liberal, set against the more socially conservative Tim Farron – has spoken plainly, as few do, of the need to consider legalisation. Why, he asks, criminalise young people for having a joint? Why indeed. Many Tory and Labour MPs have done the same – and got away with it – but want to wreck the lives of those unlucky enough to be caught. It was a brave thing for Mr Lamb to say, and the right thing to do; it also serves another purpose. Given where the Lib Dems are, it is as good a strategy as any to rebuild a constituency for the party as a liberal and libertarian voice. As we see with the Government’s doomed attempt to reform our human rights legislation, the Lib Dems exist to challenge orthodoxy and speak the truths the bigger parties know that they will eventually themselves adopt.
More than 450 high-street “head shops” and online sellers of legal highs face closure across Britain under the blanket ban on new psychoactive substances to be debated in parliament on Tuesday. The first Home Office estimate of the extent of the trade in legal highs, which are to be banned from April next year, also describes it as an industry making a 40% profit of £32m a year on an annual turnover of £82m. The psychoactive substances bill, which is to receive its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, is designed to ban the trade in legal highs, probably from April next year. The legislation includes exemptions for everyday legitimate psychoactive substances including alcohol, tobacco and caffeine and is also expected to include an exemption for legitimate medical and scientific research. The ban will cover a range of synthetic chemical substances designed to mimic traditional illegal drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy and will extend to cover nitrous oxide – laughing gas or “hippy crack” – the second most popular recreational drug in Britain.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, was not something I thought about much, though I had a bit when I gave birth. Entonox. Largely, I think, it shuts you up, as you are too busy sucking it up to swear at your birthing partner. It’s hardly some newfangled drug; Wordsworth used it. It’s a small whoosh of silliness; a breath away for a tiny amount of time. So, it must now be banned. And Theresa May is doing this with an outlawing-cheap-thrills bill, because, after all, this government has nothing better to do. Actually, it’s called the psychoactive substances bill and it intends to ban “any substance … that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”. Is she having a laugh? No, she is Theresa May, so she won’t be laughing. The proposed legislation is, as some lawyers have pointed out, ridiculous. Anything that stimulates or depresses the central nervous system, or affects a person’s “emotional state”, is psychoactive. So, this could be the scent of freesias; it could your special vape; it could be those eye drops that brightened you up. It will not be anti-psychotics or antidepressants or tea or booze or coffee, because all drugs policy is currently based on emotion, not evidence. Labour sacked its drugs advisor David Nutt for his controversial stance that illicit drugs should be classified according to evidence of actual harm. This new bill is supposedly an attempt to ban legal highs. But it’s worse than that: it is an attempt to ban things that make you feel different. God forbid that this would enable you in any way to think differently. Yes, drugs – legal or illegal – do that sometimes, though no one in the public eye must say this. It’s as if we all signed up to some permanent 12-step programme where ignorance vies with abstinence in some facilitated group hug. Only in such a world could Russell Brand be considered an expert.
European Drug Report 2015: Trends and Developments [European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction]
Changing dynamics in the heroin market, the latest implications of cannabis use and new features and dimensions of the stimulant and ‘new drugs’ scene are among the issues highlighted in the European Drug Report 2015: Trends and Developments. This years’ annual review reflects on 20 years of monitoring and examines the global influences and local ramifications of Europe’s ever-changing drugs problem.
Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work [Global Commission on Drug Policy]
Report from The Global Commission on Drug Policy
The Impact of Drug Policy on Women [Open Society Foundations]
Across the globe, the failure of the war on drugs has come at an enormous cost to women. Punitive drug laws and policies pose a heavy burden on women and, in turn, on the children for whom women are often the principal caregivers. Prohibitionist policies impede access to and use of HIV and hepatitis C prevention and care services for everyone, but women and girls virtually always face a higher risk of transmission of these infections. Men suffer from unjust incarceration for minor drug offenses, but in some places women are more likely than men to face harsh sentences for minor infractions. Treatment for drug dependence is of poor quality in many places, but women are at especially high risk of undergoing inappropriate treatment or not receiving any treatment at all. All people who use drugs face stigma and discrimination, but women are often more likely than men to be severely vilified as unfit parents and “fallen” members of society.
On my wrist, the perfume smelled overwhelmingly like weed, but good weed–you know the kind that I’m talking about–the sweet stuff, not at all skunky or putrid. Once I got over the strangeness of smelling marijuana on my skin, I realized that I kind of liked the scent. It was earthy and powdery and nice, in its own strange way. Although I was cool with Cannabis Flower, I knew the real test would be wearing it out in public. I committed to wearing the fragrance every day for one week. I quickly discovered that wearing marijuana-scented perfume was a great way to make the people around me laugh. When I walked past two teenage girls in the junk food aisle at the grocery store, I heard one say to the other, “Someone’s got the munchies.” While riding the subway, a man seated behind me said to his friend, “Fuck, somebody just smoked some really good weed. I want some of that.
- You don’t have to smoke it.
- You don’t have to get “high.”
- You might be surprised at the scientific support.
- Your body may thank you.
- You won’t be alone.
7 Infographics You Need to See.
Cannabis: Holy Sacrament Past and Future [Cannabis & Spirituality]
Truly, the global circle of people who share cannabis transcends race, nation, and religion, and many are beginning to recognize it for the Holy sacrament that it once was and can be again. Clearly the association between cannabis and sacred states of mind has crossed barriers of cultures and times, and people have continually and independently been drawn to it for these purposes. In this natural substance perhaps we can find the true sacrament of the natural perennial religion that is at the root of so many traditions.
Colorado Pot [CBS News]
[Video] Bill Whitaker checks in on Colorado after becoming the first state to legalize recreational pot.
The Religion That Has No Name: The Persecution of Psychedelic Spirituality [Cognitive Liberty UK]
The psychedelic community, as it stands, is a new religious/spiritual movement. Its members are subject to persecution and oppression, as they have been for the last fifty years. Much of modern drug culture is simply an extension of much older spiritual traditions. Modern Britain has new sacraments now, and its tribal dances are to dubstep from massive sound-systems This ‘war on drugs’ is just a part of a millenia-old pattern of ‘organised religion’ dominating more spontaneous & experiential forms of spirituality. It manifests the values of the puritanical religious fanaticism which has come to dominate American political culture. If our Right to Religious & Spiritual Freedom is to mean anything, then it must accommodate entheogenic and psychedelic compounds , which are an important component to many forms of spirituality. One source of hope is the increasing unity of the psychedelic community around the world.
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