Embassy Headlines, Issue 2

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy is always trying to get the good news out there. Michael Balderstone is going to provide his pick of news stories relating to the War on Drugs and Cannabis law reform issues, every week with the HEMP Embassy Headlines.


Aussies the biggest recreational drug users in the world


AUSTRALIANS and New Zealanders are the biggest recreational drug users in the world, according to the 2012 United Nations World Drug Report. The use of ecstasy is in decline in Australia, but cocaine use is on the rise and Australians and New Zealanders consume more marijuana per capita than any other country. Altogether, annual use among Australians and New Zealand for all drugs except for heroin “remain much higher than the global average”, said the report, published a short time ago in Vienna.

Strong support for Productivity Commission investigating the decriminalisation of drugs

http://www.adca.org.au/ ADCA MEDIA RELEASE (27 June 2012)

The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), Australia’s peak non-Government body for the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) sector says a proposal that the Productivity Commission investigate the decriminalisation of drugs is timely. According to ADCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr David Templeman, the Productivity Commission could consider this issue in an evidence-based, impartial, economically grounded review of a significant community health priority. “Australia is not alone in considering alternatives. We saw the release last year of the report from the Global Commission on Drugs Policy whose members included former presidents of four countries, a former UN secretary-general, a former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and a former US secretary of state,” Mr Templeman said. “They concluded that we needed to end the criminalisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation of people who use drugs without doing harm to others. “And earlier this year, the authors of the Australia 21 report, The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are all letting it happen, called for reasoned discussion on the issue. Who better to look into this than the Productivity Commission?

No particular logic


Whether a drug is illegal is nothing more than an accident of history. Drug laws were not written dispassionately by a panel of the best medical and ethical minds in the world. The laws bear no relation to the damage those drugs could cause or their danger to society – they were not written to minimise harm or protect health. Quite the opposite: the current schedule of drugs in the Western world has been driven by politics, expediency, prejudice, and sometimes outright racism.

Drug kingpin Mokbel sentenced to 30 years


Mokbel was famously arrested in Greece in 2007 after he fled while on trial in Melbourne. While on the run, he continued to organise the drug syndicate, which was responsible for trafficking more than 45 kilograms of ecstasy and $4 million worth of speed between 2005 and 2007. The court had been told that in 2005 Mokbel used three pill presses to make more than 100,000 ecstasy pills and was meticulous in perfecting the quality of the drugs…Former Victoria Police Purana Taskforce detective Jim O’Brien says he wanted a life sentence for Mokbel…”You notice in this particular case there is no victim impact statement that you’d normally see in an assault or murder situation . . . But it’s no different, there are a lot of unknown victims out there, they’re the children of our society and communities and nobody speaks on their behalf.”

Inquiry into Kronic, other synthetic drugs


Doctors, miners, police and judges have made their case to a state government inquiry trying to bring synthetic drugs, including Kronic, under control. The inquiry committee, which includes Hunter MPs Clayton Barr and Sonia Hornery, has held meetings across the region this week to devise effective controls for synthetic drugs. The Newcastle Herald reported last May that the products’ popularity had grown in the mining industry because the drugs failed to register in routine workplace drug tests. Specialist drug and alcohol tester Coal Services Health is among several groups, including the NSW Minerals Council, appealing for the inquiry to ban the products. A submission from the company cites testing difficulties, health risks for users and safety risks for their workmates. Mr Barr said the risk of intoxicated workers going undetected in many industries was a major concern, requiring a ‘‘proactive and pre-emptive’’ solution. The Eros Association, which represents adult stores selling and importing the synthetic drugs, made a submission arguing for heavy restrictions instead of a ban. ‘‘Governments have to understand that banning these products mean they lose control of them,’’ the association’s submission says. ‘‘There is absolutely no jurisdiction in the world that has effectively prohibited these substances.’’ The inquiry is expected to report to NSW Parliament this year.

Government-sponsored study destroys DEA’s classification of marijuana


A government-sponsored study published recently in The Open Neurology Journal concludes that marijuana provides much-needed relief to some chronic pain sufferers and that more clinical trials are desperately needed, utterly destroying the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) classification of the drug as having no medical uses. While numerous prior studies have shown marijuana’s usefulness for a host of medical conditions, none have ever gone directly at the DEA’s placement of marijuana atop the schedule of controlled substances. This study, sponsored by the State of California and conducted at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, does precisely that, driving a stake into the heart of America’s continued war on marijuana users by calling the Schedule I placement simply “not accurate” and “not tenable.”

MDMA Turns 100 Years Old, Still Faces Stereotypes


On an unknown date in 1912, Dr. Anton Köllisch of the Merck Pharmaceutical Company was working on creating a new blood-clotting medication. During his research, he discovered a string of new chemicals, one of which was named 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, or MDMA. At the time, neither Dr. Köllisch or Merck were aware of the drug’s psychoactive effects, which can include intense euphoria, reduced fear, anxiety, and aggression, increased energy, and visual distortions. It was these subjective effects, however, that caught the attention of the U.S. government, and they decided to take a closer look at the drug. By 1953, the U.S. Army Chemical Center was testing MDMA as a weapon for espionage. The medical community was also interested in the drug, though for far less self-serving reasons. The  first published study of MDMA in humans, authored by Alexander Shulgin and David Nichols, appeared in 1978 and for the first time, doctors learned of the drug’s potential as a therapeutic tool. Over the next seven years, psychiatrists would conduct over 1,000 clinical sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Unfortunately, during this time, MDMA also made its way into the black market. In 1985, the DEA reacted to widespread recreational by classifying MDMA as Schedule 1, a distinction normally reserved for drugs deemed to have no medical uses and a high potential for abuse. Despite expert testimony and court recommendations, it became illegal to make or possess MDMA, so research into its therapeutic value all but disappeared. In 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) set out to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy a legally available treatment, and research has moved forward doggedly since then. Now, one hundred years after its creation, researchers and therapists are rediscovering the potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to transform the lives of men and women suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Colorado USA


Residents of Colorado will have the opportunity this November to legalize marijuana possession and allow regulated sales of marijuana in their state. If approved by voters, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (Amendment 64) would allow for the limited possession and cultivation of cannabis by adults age 21 and over. It would also allow the state and local governments to enact regulations on the commercial production and distribution of marijuana, as well giving local governments the option to prohibit marijuana sales altogether.

Colombia decriminalizes cocaine, marijuana


Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that people cannot be jailed for possessing cocaine and marijuana for personal use. The decision ratifies a previous Supreme Court ruling that said people cannot be jailed for possession of a so-called personal dose. A 2009 law placed the dose at up to 20 grams of marijuana and one gram of cocaine.

Life Without Parole for Pot? 10 Worst Cases of Cruel and Unusual Punishment


In the United States — where a marijuana arrest occurs every 42 seconds, on average — the war on pot has disastrous consequences for its victims. This article includes 10 of the most shameful examples in which the crime – related to weed — does not even come close to matching the punishment.

How the US Government, Banks, Prison-Industrial Complex, Corrupt Officials, Businesses, Law Enforcement, Racists and the CIA Profit From Illegal Drugs


Minus the gruesome violence in their host countries, drug cartels are just illegal businessmen, so the business class in the US can relate to them, as can the CIA. They are aggressive, ruthless and greedy, not unlike some of their bankers on Wall Street. The cost of a drug war to achieve geopolitical objectives then is immense in the loss of life, the breakdown of civil society in the nations affected in Latin America, and in the moral grounding, racial injustice and credibility of our governmental and business institutions.

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