Embassy Headlines, Issue 20

A fantastic week for Cannabis law reform with the US voting to end prohibition in two States. And more good news for the sick and suffering as acceptance grows for ‘medical marijuana’ in the US and around the world. 

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.

USA: Cannabis now legal for those who enjoy it!

Even bigger than Obama’s win is the exciting result for people in Colorado and Washington State in the USA. In an unprecedented popular vote, Colorado and Washington have approved ballot initiatives to legalize the sale of marijuana under regulations somewhat stricter than those for alcohol. “These are not just the first two states to do this,” exulted Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’re the first two political jurisdictions in the world to do this.”


USA: Colorado, Washington Pot Legalization Deals Drug War Major Blow

Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in the prohibition era on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to the war on drugs. Medical marijuana was also legalized in Massachusetts, underlining long-running trends in public opinion toward more permissive attitudes on drugs. “To put this into historical context, there is no historical context,” said Tom Angell, spokesperson for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “It’s the first time any state has ever voted to legalize marijuana — and two of them did it.” The votes marked a significant shift from decades of tough-on-crime policies that burned through $1 trillion in tax dollars over 40 years, led to the arrest of 850,000 Americans for marijuana law violations in 2010 alone, and fueled the rise of deadly drug cartels abroad. But even as pot reformers celebrated their long-sought victories, the threat of a confrontation with the federal government loomed.


Cannabis legalisation in Washington and Colorado: A game-changer

The wider political fallout from this vote will be significant. Firstly, there’s the potential for the domino effect: other states might now feel emboldened to press ahead with similar ballot initiatives. Indeed, last night showed that change is in the air, as Massachusetts became the 18th US state to legalise medical marijuana, and California voted to reform its notorious “three-strikes” law, which will mean those convicted of a third non-violent felony – including drug offences – will no longer receive a mandatory 25-to-life sentence. Secondly, there remains the possibility that the federal government will crack down on Colorado and Washington as they start taking the necessary practical steps to legally regulate the cannabis trade – something that remains unambiguously illegal under federal law.


USA: Massachusetts legalizes medical marijuana

While the general election might not break partisan gridlock in Congress, it could result in historic changes for U.S. social policy: Several states had a chance to be the first to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote and to legalize recreational use of marijuana. In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. 


USA: Why Election Day Marks the Beginning of the End of Marijuana Prohibition

For the first time in well over seven decades, state law will declare that cannabis is no longer contraband. While a minority of marijuana law reform activists has griped that these measures do not go far enough, the reality is that their passage will provide cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Presently, no state legally defines cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But none of these states define cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults. 


Declare victory in the War on Drugs – then run like hell

History may seem to be nothing but a catalogue of human folly, but have you ever asked yourself what features of contemporary life will have our own descendants scratching their heads and asking themselves: how could they – meaning us, today – be so crazy? My guess is that the feature of modern life that future generations will find hardest to understand will be our attitude to narcotics. The War on Drugs will look to them as mad as the Salem witch trials do to us today.


The End of Laughing at Marijuana Reformers

The political taboo against marijuana has been fading for awhile. When Bill Clinton admitted he’d smoked weed as a college student, he felt the need to add that he hadn’t inhaled, and observers still wondered if it would cost him votes. Barack Obama admitted that he did inhale as a teenager. Yet his personal history with narcotics hasn’t stopped him from presiding over a draconian War on Drugs and responding to several questions about drug reform with jokes.


USA: Medical Marijuana Advocates Launch Election-Based Website

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday launched a new website — VoteMedicalMarijuana.org — that provides patients and their supporters with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the candidates in their districts. The new website will give visitors a pass/fail “grade” for how their Member of Congress has voted on medical marijuana since 1997.


U.S. cities become hubs for Mexican drug cartels’ distribution networks

Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood is home to more than 500,000 residents of Mexican descent and is known for its Cinco de Mayo festival and bustling Mexican Independence Day parade. But federal authorities say that Little Village is also home to something else: an American branch of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel. Members of Mexico’s most powerful cartel are selling a record amount of heroin and methamphetamine from Little Village, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. From there, the drugs are moving onto the streets of south and west Chicago, where they are sold in assembly-line fashion in mostly African American neighborhoods.


Mexico study: US legalization would cut cartel profits

A study released Wednesday by a respected Mexican think tank asserts that proposals to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, Oregon and Washingtoncould cut Mexican drug cartels’ earnings from traffic to the U.S. by as much as 30 percent.


Hit Mexico’s Cartels With Legalization

The monster of Mexican cartels has been pumped up by decades of Americans buying illegal drugs under the policies of prohibition. No one knows exactly how much money Mexican traffickers make, but reasonable estimates find they pocket $30 billion every year selling cocaine, marijuana, heroin and crystal meth to American users. Since 1980, the cumulative jackpot could be close to $1 trillion. Under the law of the jungle, this money goes to the most violent and sadistic players, so the cartels have spent their dollars on building increasingly ferocious death squads. 


NZ: School drug test ban ‘outrage’

A law change to ban schools from drug testing students will “seriously dent” the ability of teachers to stop drugs entering the school gates, the principals’ union says. The Education Amendment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament last week, would ban schools from using drug sniffer dogs or requiring students to undergo a drug test. Secondary Principals’ Association president Patrick Walsh said parents would be outraged by the change. “Prohibiting the use of drug dogs in schools, and stopping schools from drug testing students who have been caught using drugs in schools to ensure they’re clean, will seriously dent our capacity to stop the scourge of drugs in our community from entering our school gates,” he told Radio New Zealand this morning. 


Portugal progresses toward integrated cannabis regulation

Proposed legislation would authorize growing for personal use and the creation of Cannabis Social Clubs.


Amsterdam Shops Selling Marijuana to Stay Open

Amsterdam’s 220 coffee shops, where marijuana and hashish are openly sold and consumed, will remain open next year in spite of a new Dutch law meant to reduce drug tourism, the city’s mayor said in an interview published Thursday. The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that he had made the decision after considering the unintended consequences that would arise from a ban, including a revival of black-market trade. He also noted that the current system allowed for the government to monitor the quality of “soft” drugs and to limit access to the coffee shops to those 18 and older, something that would be impossible if the trade were again to become clandestine. 


Israel encourages use of medical marijuana

Moshe Rute, who lives at the Hadarim nursing home outside of Tel Aviv, is one of more than 10,000 patients who have official government permission to consume marijuana in Israel, a number that has swelled dramatically, up from serving just a few hundred patients in 2005.


Cannabis In Medicine: Patient Empowerment

A conference this past week in San Francisco titled, “Cannabis In Medicine” brought together all levels of health care workers: Doctors, nurses, researchers and other medical professionals, mostly unfamiliar with marijuana as a medical treatment, gathered in one room to receive straight, sober information. We were treated to the results of data, case studies and clinical trials conducted using cannabis therapy.


The Amazing Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Unlike fish and flax oil supplements and assorted protein powders —hemp can taste really good.


The Yoga Of Love: Aldous Huxley’s ‘Island’ (1962) Revisited

Fifty years ago, in 1962, Aldous Huxley published Island, his final novel. He wrote Brave New World in 1931; it took him three decades to write his response. In a letter to the Maharaja of Kashmir, who after reading Island was inspired to write to Huxley asking where he could obtain psychedelic drugs, he described the book as “a kind of pragmatic dream – a fantasy with detailed and practical instructions for making the imagined and desirable harmonization of European and Indian insights become a fact.” As for the drugs, he gave the Maharaja Timothy Leary’s address.

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