Embassy Headlines, Issue 16

 

The latest reports from the war on drugs this week with fresh victims, false evidence, false convictions and the accumulative effects of bad policies.

The 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 of law reform.

Here are the selected headlines for this week.

 


Boom Times Predicted For Rural NSW – Zero Tolerance of Pain and Suffering

Mullaways Medical Cannabis Pty Ltd has sent a new submission to NSW Health for a License authorising it to possess Cannabis for the purposes of research, instruction, analysis and study pursuant to the Drugs Misuse Act 1985 (NSW). Testing of MULLAWAYS TINCTURE has now been completed by both NSW Health and NSW Police and No Prohibited Substances were detected. Tony Bower the Director of Mullaways Medical Cannabis Pty Ltd said “What you will see now is Boom Times for rural NSW as the means of production are returned to farmers.  The Export Market for Medical Cannabis products is huge.  The legal non-psychotropic MULLAWAYS Tincture will be able to be sold throughout the world. This legal non-psychotropic Cannabis Tincture will create a whole new industry in NSW.  We look forward to working with the O’Farrell Government and the people of NSW to improve the health and wealth of our State.” Michael Balderstone, President of the Australian HEMP Party says Tony is a genuine pioneer in the field and needs all the support he can get. “The American election on November 6 will be ground breaking with several States voting for decriminalisation of personal cannabis use. Already 17 States have legal medical cannabis and the old reefer madness phobias are being exposed for the nonsense they always were. The change in attitude has to rub off on Australia soon.”


Australia: The Expendable Project

The Expendable film, and The Expendable Project reports, constitute evidential proof of criminality and corruption at the heart of a former Australian government, with respect to the Schapelle Corby case. This also embraces a number of agencies and corporate entities. The Expendable Project is also running a petition.


Increase in ecstasy among Australia’s recreational drug users

Ecstasy among Australia’s regular drug users, in pubs, clubs and music festivals, appears to be making a comeback, according to research to be released today by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales. As well there has been an increase in the number of ecstasy users also taking synthetic drugs – with 40 per cent of the sample using emerging psychoactive drugs including synthetic cannabis. Investigators have also warned of a new trend of users consuming capsules of “unknown content”, without a name. The changes in purity and availability of ecstasy have been most profound in NSW where less than a fifth of users reported low purity compared with 53 per cent of users in 2011. In Victoria around a quarter of users described the drug to be of low purity compared with nearly half (46%) in 2011. The Australian findings mirror a comeback in ecstasy availability which has been reported around the globe in this year‟s UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report. The World Drug Report 2012 found that “ecstasy” group seizures had doubled in Europe over the reporting period. Similar increases have been reported in the US and in South East Asia.


UK: Drugs Live – the facts behind the programme

Last week David Nutt presented the first results of his new study on MDMA – ecstasy – and brain function over two live Channel 4 programmes. It was generally very well received as being a bold attempt to show the neuroscience behind a popular drug that might have therapeutic potential. It also introduced scientific concepts such as fMRI, double-blind trials and placebo control to a general audience.


USA: Pot dispensaries clouding medical marijuana’s image

Medical marijuana started as a grass-roots movement among AIDS patients and still caters to medical patients, but increasingly it’s also turned into a party.  From dispensaries offering dozens of marijuana varieties to new potency-testing labs to makers of cannabis-infused capsules and candy corn, storefronts displaying the trademark green cross dot nearly every Seattle neighborhood. The city estimates there are at least 150 marijuana-related businesses here, more ubiquitous than Starbucks. Elsewhere in Washington, business may not be as out in the open, but it’s still chugging along. But just as quickly as this quasi-legal industry has grown, it is at a crossroads. With virtually no state regulation, hustlers threaten to stain what began as a grass-roots patient-care movement. Federal authorities continue to enforce the prohibition against marijuana.


USA: Thousands of People Falsely Convicted for Drugs

Court administrators in Massachusetts are scrambling to set up special court sessions to address the cases of more than a thousand people imprisoned after being convicted of drug crimes based on lab evidence submitted by Annie Dookhan, the now disgraced former state crime lab analyst. Dookhan herself was arrested last Friday for her fraudulent work at the lab, as the scandal continues to reverberate across the state’s criminal justice system. According to State Police reports obtained by the Boston Globe, Dookhan has admitted not performing proper lab tests on drug samples for “two or three years,” forging colleagues’ signatures, and improperly removing evidence from storage. 


UK: Drug dealers getting dogs hooked on heroin so they attack police

This week’s ridiculous tabloid drug story. We could infer that the mainstream media has a stake in prohibition remaining the status quo because it provides them with endless lurid stories and good sales.


Police Shut Down First Cannabis Coffeeshop In Denmark

Scandinavia may never be the same. Police in Copenhagen on Friday shut down Denmark’s first cannabis “coffeeshop” cafe. At Smokenhagen, customers could buy marijuana over the counter, get a receipt, and smoke it openly right there in the cafe. During the raid, the police confiscated all the cannabis, but the shop is expected to reopen again soon, reports Danish website jv.dk.  Smokenhagen Coffeeshop openly sells cannabis following the Dutch model.


Dutch ‘weed pass’ law driving Cannabis trade underground

By driving the soft drugs trade underground, the Dutch town of Maastricht has triggered a crime wave. Maastricht – formerly a mecca for drug tourists from across western Europe – has called for police reinforcements to handle “aggressive” street pushers, who have taken over almost all trade in marijuana and cannabis since authorities introduced tighter controls on legal outlets. The Dutch town’s Mayor Onno Hoes wants to double the number of dedicated police officers in order to control the black market, which has benefited from the region’s draconian “weed pass” law. Hoes also wants one of the key elements of the weed pass system dropped – the requirement that all soft drug consumers become registered members of ‘coffee shop clubs’ – after finding that the vast majority of consumers refused to apply. Local users prefer to buy from illegal drug dealers – some of whom offer ‘weed-cab’ services over the internet – rather than join the official coffee shop clubs, “The students and other users dare not join for privacy reasons,” he says. Many fear that by signing up for membership, they could restrict their ability to apply for sensitive jobs – such as those in government – at a later date.


Canada: Whoops-a-daisy: ‘Significant’ outdoor bust in Lethbridge history wasn’t weed

The best part: police still won’t admit the plants they seized in what was supposedly the biggest outdoor marijuana bust in Lethbridge history are plain old flowers — daisies, to be precise. All police will concede at this point is the 1,624 plants torn from a suburban Lethbridge garden on July 30 isn’t marijuana, as first claimed after a phalanx of police marched in and starting plucking. “This is a significant bust, given the size of this operation,” is how a senior officer put it at the time, while proudly displaying garbage bags full of the dastardly daises.


USA: Ketamine Relieves Depression By Restoring Brain Connections

Scientists say they have figured out how an experimental drug called ketamine is able to relieve major depression in hours instead of weeks. Researchers from Yale and the National Institute of Mental Health say ketamine seems to cause a burst of new connections to form between nerve cells in parts of the brain involved in emotion and mood. The discovery, described in Science, should speed development of the first truly new depression drugs since the 1970s, the researchers say.


UK: Marijuana Pill Relieves MS Symptoms

Marijuana extract pills may ease painful muscle stiffness for some patients with multiple sclerosis, a randomized trial affirmed. A clinically meaningful reduction in perceived stiffness occurred in 29% of patients taking the cannabis extract, which was nearly double the 16% rate with placebo (P=0.004), John Peter Zajicek, PhD, of the University of Plymouth, England, and colleagues found in the MUSEC trial. Bodily pain, spasms, and other outcomes also favored the cannabinoids, they reported online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.


Sir Richard Branson labels US drugs policy ‘racist’

American drugs policy is a “war on black people” and results in the jailing of too many African Americans, billionaire entrepreneur and drugs law campaigner Sir Richard Branson said Wednesday. Branson, who is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a body of leading figures and politicians campaigning for more effective drugs laws, said the U.S. approach to drugs was “racist.


NZ: Switched On Gardener trial begins

Undercover police officers wore wires and posed as customers wanting to buy cannabis growing equipment, as part of their investigation into the Switched on Gardener chain. The recorded conversations will form part of the Crown case against five men and two companies who deny belonging to an organised criminal group and supplying equipment to grow cannabis. Michael Maurice Quinlan – the owner of Switched on Gardner – is alleged to have been the head of the operation that the Crown describes as a “one-stop shop” for cannabis growing equipment.


USA: Government May Soon Have To Re-Evaluate Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana advocates are hoping an impending court case will force the [federal] government to re-evaluate the potential upsides of cannabis use. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government currently classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it carries a high risk of abuse and no proven medical value. The issue is set to come before the United States Court of Appeals for the first time in almost two decades, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit scheduled to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration on Oct. 16. Americans for Safe Access, an organization that advocates for medical marijuana, first filed a petition more than a decade ago. In that time, Executive Director Steph Sherer said, the government’s position has fallen behind increasing public awareness.


Film: Should Grandma Smoke Pot?

Called by one media critic, “Genius”. Produced by famous smuggler, author/activist Robert Platshorn and the award winning film maker Walter J. Collins. This made for TV version of Roberts Silver Tour stuns viewers with medical and legal facts long kept from the public. Robert’s tour teaching seniors the benefits of medical marijuana have drawn world wide praise for all branches of the media. Front page in the Wall St Journal, featured on CNN Money, praised by News Week’s Daily Beast and coming soon to The Daily Show! Robert has committed his time to legalizing marijuana! After spending 30 years in jail – the longest prison time in the history of the US for a non-voilent crime – Robert is 100% committed to legalizing marijuana in his lifetime.


Film: When It Comes To Drugs, A ‘House’ Deeply Divided

Drug abuse is primarily a medical problem, not a crime against society. American anti-drug policy is a means of social control that’s rooted in racial and ethnic prejudice. The country’s incarceration industry has become a self-sustaining force, predicated on economics rather than justice. None of these arguments, made vigorously in The House I Live In, are novel; some have been advanced for decades, if not longer. But Eugene Jarecki’s documentary assembles them deftly, with much help from former crime reporter David Simon, who left the Baltimore Sun to become the auteur of such mean-streets TV dramas as The Wire.


Film: The Exile Nation Project, An Oral History of the War on Drugs & The American Criminal Justice System

A film by Charles Shaw: The Land of the Free punishes or imprisons more of its citizens than any other country. This collection of testimonials from criminal offenders, family members, and experts on America’s criminal justice system puts a human face on the millions of Americans subjugated by the US Government’s 40 year, one trillion dollar social catastrophe: The War on Drugs; a failed policy underscored by fear, politics, racial prejudice and intolerance in a public atmosphere of “out of sight, out of mind.”


Event UK: The Global Drug Wars

Speakers: William McAllister, David Courtwright, Ethan Nadelmann, Nigel Inkster  Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 6.30 to 8.00pm

Since 1909 the international community has worked to eradicate the abuse of narcotics. A century on, the efforts are widely acknowledged to have failed, and worse, have spurred black market violence and human rights abuses. How did this drug control system arise, why has it proven so durable in the face of failure, and is there hope for reform? A new IDEAS Special Report on Governing the Global Drug Wars will be launched at this event.


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