Embassy Headlines, Issue 18

Another week in the ‘war on drugs’ where ignorance and propaganda still hold out against the persistence of basic human rights and proven science.

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 for law reform.

Here are the selected headlines for this week.


Australia: Law reform issues regarding synthetic drugs (Inquiry)

There is a current inquiry in NSW Parliament. The Legal Affairs Committee will “inquire into and report on law reform issues regarding the prohibition of synthetic drugs, which are designed and manufactured to have the same effect as prohibited drugs. The Committee will consider the adequacy of current NSW legislation and any other related matters.” Click here to see the submissions including those from Alex Wodak and Fiona Patten.

Australia: Highs and lows of burgeoning synthetic drug market

Users are reporting severe comedowns from legally available synthetic products that mimic cocaine and speed, as police and governments struggle to regulate the industry. Synthetic powder stimulants marketed to give euphoric highs are freely available in tobacconists and sex stores around New South Wales. Drug experts say the harms are unknown and the law is struggling to keep up with the continual development of new substances.


Australia: Minimum pricing benefits not just small beer – study

The evidence in favour of minimum pricing for alcohol is so strong it is only a matter of time before it is introduced, says the author of new research finding the policy had drastic effects when it was implemented overseas. The Canadian study found a 10 per cent rise in the minimum price of alcohol was linked to a nearly 8.5 per cent fall in alcohol consumption. The Preventative Health Taskforce, which advises the federal government, is expected to deliver this week or next the findings of a draft report into the issue of minimum alcohol pricing.

Afghanistan: Video shows US employed defense contractors injecting Ketamine

A private security company working for the US government in Afghanistan is in hot water after a video surfaced allegedly showing several of its employees drunk and on drugs, US broadcaster ABC reported Wednesday. The video posted on the website of ABC purportedly taken at an operations center belonging to US defense contractor Jorge Scientific shows men with nude torsos downing vodka shots and wrestling with each other. Another man, identified as the medic of the group, is shown in a dazed state after shooting up with Ketamine, a strong anesthetic.


Kazakhstan: Hallucinogenic Communion Drink and Extremist Books

Religious persecution is alive and well in Kazakhstan with a mysterious “hallucinogenic drink” providing one excuse for police raids on churches.


Human rights: The hidden cost of the war on drugs

The lack of drug control has spurred black market violence and human rights abuses across the world, British researchers found today. The London School of Economics (LSE) produced a report finding the UN-governed international drug control system has failed and human rights abuses are facilitated in pursuit of failed policies. 


UK: Recession ‘driving ordinary people into cannabis production’

Cash-strapped residents in Leeds are turning to crime and converting their homes into cannabis farms to make ends meet. A Leeds City Council report said there was evidence a cannabis-growing “cottage industry” had sprung up in parts of the city because of the difficult financial climate. Police say the profile of the typical grower has changed – from organised, predominantly South East Asian gangs to native Loiners, many of whom have no criminal history.


UK:  It’s drugs politics, not drugs policy, that needs an inquiry

The sanity of politicians in opposition turns into the darkest taboo in power. This is the greatest failure of modern statecraft. Imagine the Afghan war had run for the past 40 years. Imagine 2,000 deaths a year. The enemy remains 400,000-strong, despite 40,000 being taken prisoner annually. The war costs £1bn a month. Casualties vary from time to time, but there is no hope of victory. Were that the case, I suggest public opinion might be exasperated. Parliament might debate the matter. Ministers might review policy. Yet such is Britain’s fatuously entitled “war on drugs”. Each year governments re-legislate their “war on terror”, despite the minimal threat, but reject any need to revise the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. They refuse to see if it is working, and do nothing but waste public money.


UK: Cannabis ‘no worse than junk food’, says report

Campaigners have urged the Government to rethink drug laws in light of a widely respected independent body likening cannabis use to “moderately risky” gambling or junk food. The publication of a six-year study from the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) today reveals that the £3bn spent annually tackling drugs is not evidence-based and calls for a “wholesale review” of existing laws. The body, part-funded by the Home Office, was launched in April 2007 to provide objective analysis of drug policy, independent of government interference and special interest groups.


France’s Minister of Education favours cannabis decriminalisation

On Sunday, France’s Socialist Minister of Education, Vincent Peillon, spoke in favour of the decriminalization of cannabis, principally as a means of combating drug trafficking in French cities. The move in favour of decriminalising cannabis is far from being formulated as a policy of France’s Socialist government. The Socialists have been conducting a debate on the issue since last June but recent developments in France have lent weight to those arguing that existing drugs policy, similar to those of most Western nations, simply isn’t working.


USA: How Will Mainstream Media Spin This Government Study?

The Rorschach Inkblot test asks people to make up stories about ambiguous pictures. Rorschach’s hope was that the tales people told about each blot would reveal something about personal predilections and an approach to the world. Well, our friends at the National Institute on Drug Abuse have just published a nice inkblot test for the media. The experiment, “Tolerance to Effects of High-Dose Oral D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Plasma Cannabinoid Concentrations in Male Daily Cannabis Smokers,” is about (you guessed it!) developing tolerance to THC. We’ll see how media handle the implications of the results. It’s either a reassuring result for those concerned about safety on the roads or a chance for misguided alarms about purported dependence.


Medical marijuana: disabled veteran’s appeal could change US drugs policy

A disabled veteran has told an appeals court that the department of veteran affairs policy on medical marijuana has caused him pain and significant economic harm, in a development campaigners say is a positive step in the battle to push for the drug’s reclassification.


USA: Marijuana like you’ve never seen it before

Sodas, peanut butter sandwiches, truffles, breath sprays, skin ointments — almost anything can be infused with marijuana, and in Colorado, entrepreneurs are developing all manner of new pot-infused product lines. These products are a far cry from the dorm-room stash of weed in a plastic baggy, and some of them deliver the medical benefits of the drug without the high.


Documentary: Cannabis Prohibition – A War on the People

This documentary makes a case for cannabis legalization and exposes the hypocritical and oppressive tactics governments use to keep the plant illegal. This video is intended for activist and educational purposes. Some images may be violent/disturbing.

Book: World War-D

“World War-D” is the first book to tackle the issue of legalization head-front, offering a pragmatic, practical, and realistic roadmap to global controlled re-legalization of production, distribution and use of psychoactive substances under a multi-tiers “legalize, tax, control, prevent, treat and educate” regime with practical and efficient mechanisms to manage and minimize societal costs.

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