Embassy Headlines, Issue 21

Prohibition forces are reeling this week as the Colorado butterfly effect made shock waves around the planet. Federal intervention on State marijuana laws for personal use is now a battle against the popular vote.

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.

ABC The Drum Poll

07/11/2012: In the US election, Colorado and Washington state voted to legalise marijuana for recreational use. Should Australia follow suit?

Yes 70%  
No 30%  

With a whopping 35,509 votes counted – up to ten times the number of votes in other polls.

Tassie farmers hail hemp food approval

Tasmanian farmers have welcomed scientific approval of industrial hemp seed being grown in Australia as a food source. That decision still has to be accepted or appealed against by state and federal governments within the next two months.  Tasmanian farmers are cautiously welcoming a breakthrough in their battle to allow drug-free hemp products into Australian food. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has announced its approval of the use of Cannabis sativa — with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol in both seed and seed oil — as a food.

USA: Texas town adds sugar to water supply to encourage residents to drink more water

Talon is small town located in Pecos County, Texas. When town officials realized that drinking-water consumption by residents was well below the national average, they decided take action and three months ago began adding sugar to their water supply to make drinking it more desirable.

USA: Colorado officials seek clarity after passage of marijuana measure

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said, despite his opposition to legalization, he would work with the state legislature to implement the new law — which he doubted the federal government would allow to stand. Proponents of Amendment 64, the measure voters approved with nearly 55 percent support on Tuesday, said they were optimistic the federal government would “respect the will of Colorado voters.”

USA: Legalized marijuana initiatives leave federal government wrestling with policy

Senior administration officials acknowledged Friday that they are wrestling with how to respond to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which directly violates federal drug law and is sparking a broad debate about the direction of U.S. drug policy.

USA: 220 marijuana cases dismissed in King, Pierce counties

King and Pierce County prosecutors are dismissing more than 220 misdemeanor marijuana cases in response to Tuesday’s vote to decriminalize small amounts of pot. In King County, 175 cases are being dismissed involving people 21 and older and possession of one ounce or less. I-502 makes one ounce of marijuana legal on Dec. 6, but King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to apply I-502 retroactively. “Although the effective date of I-502 is not until December 6, there is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month,” Satterberg said in a statement.

USA: Schools are blunt about new pot law – Not on our campus

Social media is abuzz with future college students dreaming of doing bong hits openly on the greens of universities in Colorado and Washington state. But those dreams may go up in smoke. “If someone thinks they are going to walk around campus smoking a joint, it’s not going to happen,” says University of Washington spokesman Norman Arkans. Although voters in Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of marijuana, officials aren’t expecting cannabis-welcoming changes in campus policy.

USA: This is the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition across the world

Colorado voted to legalise recreational use last week in a move that could hurt the cartels and challenge the long US ‘war on drugs’.

USA: What no one is telling you about Washington’s marijuana legalization

Don’t light up just yet. The Initiative does not take effect until Dec, 6. Even then marijuana can not be legally purchased until the state chooses who can legally produce and sell it, a process that could take up to a year, and your neighborhood pot dealer will unlikely be chosen. Users will only be permitted to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana and possessing just 50% more than the “legal” amount will land you with a felony charge that holds a jail sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Don’t expect to be smoking anywhere other then a private residence either because smoking in public is still illegal. Even more so, growing, processing, and selling will be controlled by the Washington State Liquor Control Board with a 75 percent tax not including the 10 percent sales tax. The Liquor Control Board will also be in charge of regulating how much THC can be present in the marijuana sold and where and how many distributors will be allowed to open. Ordinary citizens will not be permitted to grow marijuana themselves either. Even more surprising, simply passing a joint from one person to another will still be a class C felony. Growing hemp still remains relatively unchanged as well.

USA: How Cheap Will Legal Marijuana Be in Colorado and Washington?

Now that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes—no “medical marijuana” fig leaf here or even Dutch-style toleration—will pot prices crater?

USA: Voters say yes to marijuana, IRS says no

Can a legal dispensary operate like a “legitimate” business? Amazingly, they can’t and are still labeled as drug traffickers. Massachusetts eliminated state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. See Medical marijuana law passes in Massachusetts.

Petition: President Obama, respect the will and state rights of the people of Washington and Colorado!

The historic victory of marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington State are certainly gamechanger, but the war is far from over. We must now ensure that the Federal government respects the will of the voters. If the recent crackdown on medical marijuana is any indication, we are most likely facing a long battle and we must start mobilizing for it.

Marijuana legalisation: Sometimes Violations of International Law Are Cause for Celebration

The United States is again in violation of international law. That is a strong statement and one that reminds us of the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo bay, water-boarding, rendition, and the strong international legal arguments made about these situations. But in this case the violation will be hailed by many as a positive step.

Canada: Thriving underground drug industry at risk

Business consequences could range from mild to sending marijuana producers’ livelihoods up in smoke, depending on how much of the estimated $6-billion to $8-billion annual economy is now being exported south of the border, analysts say.

India: The joint campaign – Should we not legalize recreational use of Cannabis?

What two American states, Washington and Colorado, have decided to do – legalize recreational use of marijuana – was the norm in India until 1985. All cannabis derivatives – marijuana (grass or ganja), hashish (charas) and bhang – were legally sold in this country. As a matter of fact, most state governments had their own retail shops to sell these drugs. India has known, consumed and celebrated ganja, charas and bhang for millennia. Their consumption was never regarded as socially deviant behaviour any more than drinking alcohol was. If there was any bias against ganja or charas, it was that these were often viewed as the poor man’s intoxicant by the upper classes. But come Holi, these prejudices would melt away as rich and poor savoured the joyous high of bhang. Even now, despite a legal ban, recreational use of these drugs is widespread in India.

Colorado Weed Law Raises Drug War Doubts, Costa Rica Leader Says

The legalization of recreational marijuana use in the states of Colorado and Washington last week will lead Latin America to increasingly question the merits of the war on drugs, said Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. The first U.S. states to decriminalize will spur demand at a time when Central American nations and Mexico are paying a high price to halt shipments, Chinchilla said in an interview yesterday in Queretaro, Mexico, at the Mexico Business Summit. Voters in Washington and Colorado agreed in a ballot Nov. 6 to allow people to hold one ounce (28.4 grams) of marijuana. “This is an inflection point that is going to demand something that some Central American countries have already been doing, which is to analyze in a deeper way different scenarios in the war on drugs,” Chinchilla said.

LatAm leaders call for review of US legal pot vote

Two U.S. state decisions to legalize marijuana will have important implications for international efforts to quash drug smuggling, four Latin American leaders declared on Monday. Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica called for the Organization of American States to study the impact of the votes in Colorado and Washington and said the United Nations’ General Assembly should hold a special session on the prohibition of drugs by 2015 at the latest.

Felipe Calderon calls for review of drug policy in wake of US cannabis vote

Mexican president urges officials in North and Central America to ‘explore all possible alternatives’ to reduce cartels’ influence.

Next Mexican administration: US legal marijuana vote changes ‘rules of the game’ in drug war

A former high-ranking official in Mexico’s internal intelligence service who has studied the potential effects of legalization measures told The Associated Press that he was optimistic legalization in the two states would damage Mexican drug cartels. However, the former official, Alejandro Hope, now an analyst at the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, added that a key factor would be the reaction by the U.S. federal government to the votes. A strong federal crackdown on legalized pot could negate all but the smallest effects on Mexico’s cartels, he said. Hope said a flourishing legal pot market in Colorado could reduce Mexican cartels’ estimated annual income from roughly $6 billion to about $4.6 billion.

Legalising drugs will not end violence among international cartels, a leading American drug policy adviser says. US government Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske told a Melbourne conference that people thought ending the drug trade in cartels such as those in Mexico could end their violence. But he said the cartels were also involved in so many other aspects of organised crime that ending their drug trade would not stop their violence.

Another Reason for Mexico to End Its Drug War

Along with catalyzing devastating violence that has claimed 60,000 lives thus far, there’s another good reason for Mexico to end its ill-fated drug war — they are massively abusing the human rights of large numbers of their citizens. A report has found that most drug investigations in Mexico are for possession and consumption.

USA: Medical Marijuana Research

MAPS [Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies] is currently seeking regulatory approval to conduct a study of smoked and/or vaporized marijuana for symptoms of PTSD in veterans of war. Our efforts to initiate medical marijuana research have been hindered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since our founding in 1986. NIDA’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research and the DEA’s refusal to allow researchers to grow their own has paralyzed medical marijuana research, and for over ten years MAPS has been involved in legal struggles against the DEA to end this situation.

USA: Police arrest four in DMT drug lab bust

Mountain View police Sgt. Sean Thompson said that DMT drug labs are very rare. Thompson said he believed the lab was the third DMT lab to be busted in state and the first in the Bay Area.

Return trip

A new generation of researchers is heading into the weird world of psychedelic drugs. It could change their minds.

Book: Captain Goodvibes – My Life as a Pork Chop

“The bombora was working at 20 foot and farting the national anthem. And as the sun slowly sank behind a distant cloud of dole cheques, we
cracked another six-pack of cheap dreams, rang Mr Infinity and told him to give tomorrow the sack.” 

Byron Bay: Uplift Festival

Along with other “scientists, visionary activists, indigenous elders”, Paul Stamets (Mycologist) will speak at the December Uplift Festival. Stamets has been a dedicated mycologist for over thirty years. Over this time, he has discovered four new species of mushrooms, and pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation.

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