Embassy Headlines, Issue 23

The tools of law come in all shapes and sizes. The legislated weapons of mass deception can be interpreted to deny the basic rights of human beings and also consolidate income streams for the law industry and drug dealers.

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.

NSW inquiry on medical use of marijuana

The New South Wales Opposition says an Upper House inquiry into the medical use of marijuana will help the debate to be dominated by evidence, instead of dogma. A cross-party committee will look at whether marijuana can be used as an effective and safe form of pain relief for sufferers of certain illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS.

 


HEMP Party supports pot for pain probe

The north coast-based HEMP Party is applauding the decision to hold a New South Wales Upper House inquiry into the medical use of marijuana. A cross party committee will look at whether marijuana can be used as an effective form of pain relief for sufferers of certain illnesses, as well as examining any legal issues surrounding its use. The HEMP Party secretary, Graham Askey, says the move is long overdue. “We’re ecstatic, we applaud this move,” he said. “Medicinal marijuana is legal in about 14 states at least in the United States, and in many other countries in the world. “Australia has lagged behind badly and, on compassionate grounds, a lot of people who could make use of this are being denied access to it. “Why should people who need this medicine be denied it? “People in pain are given morphine, even though that is illegal they still have access to it. “Why should (it) be any different for cannabis?”

 


Australia: Ecstasy used to treat war veterans in new research

A war veteran is fighting for a party drug to be legalised for medical use, after US research found it may be able to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The research, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology this month, has found that PTSD sufferers who took ecstasy (MDMA) in a supervised session once a month experienced a long-term recovery from symptoms.


Australia’s long and illogical war on drugs

The dangerous folly of Canberra’s 40-year failed war on drugs took a sinister turn last week with the passing by the Senate of the Crimes Legislation (Serious Drugs, Identity Crime and Other Measures) Bill. This new law allows the Commonwealth Government to declare drugs illegal literally at the click of a minister or bureaucrat’s fingers. It uses powers that were common in WWII but which in a democratic society ought to be anathema to anyone who cares about the rule of law. Naturally, just as with all other measures in the prohibition policy armoury, this latest erosion of liberties will not curtail in any way the demand for drugs and the ability of the market to supply them to millions of Australians. The full Crimes Legislation Amendment can be found here, and a petition has been initiated.


NSW: Cocktail crackdown: New rules for nitro bars

A ban  on the sale of alcoholic drinks containing liquid nitrogen has been lifted, with strict safety requirements now in place, following an investigation into the substance. The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) ordered venues to cease the sale and promotion of the drinks back in October after a British woman nearly died after drinking a cocktail containing the freezing substance.


UK: War on drugs – Campaigning countess winning support to change world laws

The proud owner of a country estate and an aristocratic title, Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March, might seem an unlikely campaigner for the reform of laws criminalising recreational drugs. But no one can say she hasn’t put the hours in. For the past 15 years, as part of the Beckley Foundation, which she set up in 1989, Feilding has hosted seminars, promoted research and lobbied the powerful in the name of legalisation. At one stage the Daily Mail became sufficiently alarmed to ask: “Is the countess just an amusing and irrelevant eccentric? Or could she be a real danger to society?” Feilding was clearly amused by that suggestion. On 5 December, she will oversee the launch of a new global initiative called Breaking the Taboo to deal with what she tells the Observer is “the real danger to society” – a counterproductive war on drugs that allows a deadly criminal culture to thrive across the globe. Until then, go see who’s breaking the taboo, featuring Kate Winslet, Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Dizzee Rascal.


UK: The law on drugs should not be based on evidence

This is what the new expert clique steals away from us, just as surely as priests did in the past: our ability to exercise the human faculties of perception and judgement. After all, the whole point of “evidence-based policy” is to remove the need of the little people to decide what is good or bad, healthy or harmful, by having a line-up of enlightened men and women do it on our behalf, in advance of the policy being enacted. No thanks. Policy should be driven by moral questions and ideally by erring as much as possible on the side of liberty. I say decriminalise all drugs, both those the expert councils judge harmful and those they judge harmless, and let the public exercise their moral powers over the question of whether or not to consume them.


USA: Give Pot a Chance

In two weeks, adults in this state [Washington] will no longer be arrested or incarcerated for something that nearly 30 million Americans did last year. For the first time since prohibition began 75 years ago, recreational marijuana use will be legal; the misery-inducing crusade to lock up thousands of ordinary people has at last been seen, by a majority of voters in this state and in Colorado, for what it is: a monumental failure.


USA: Medical marijuana for a child with leukemia

Mykayla Comstock’s family says marijuana helps her fight an especially aggressive form of leukemia, keeps infection at bay and lifts her weary spirit. Twice a day she swallows a potent capsule form of the drug. Some days, when she can’t sleep or eat, she snacks on a gingersnap or brownie baked with marijuana-laced butter. 


USA: 4 Fascinating Things Marijuana Legalization Has Already Taught Us

Pot is politically relevant. Ending prohibition is good for racial justice. Legalizing marijuana could bring peace to the US-Mexico border.  The rest of the world is into legalization, too.


USA: Marijuana Decriminalization Drops Youth Crime Rates by Stunning 20% in One Year

Marijuana — it’s one of the primary reasons why California experienced a stunning 20 percent drop in juvenile arrests in just one year, between 2010 and 2011, according to provocative new research. The San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice (CJCJ) recently released a policy briefing with an analysis of arrest data collected by the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center. The briefing, “ California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Time Low ,” identifies a new state marijuana decriminalization law that applies to juveniles, not just adults, as the driving force behind the  plummeting arrest totals.


Two of the Largest American Newspapers Opine in Favor of Allowing States to Legalize Marijuana

Look no further for a sign of the changing times than editorials featured this weekend by two of the United States’ largest newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Both papers featured columns from their staff opining in favor of marijuana law reform. It seems the days of traditionally conservative editorial boards writing against cannabis law reforms may be coming to an end. There is a seismic shift happening in the national consciousness on marijuana policy in response to the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, we are winning new converts by the day and those previously afraid to speak out are now doing so with passion and vigor. This recent influx of mainstream media outlets jumping on board with reform is just the beginning of the avalanche of change that is to come.


Why Obama should leave states alone on pot

It’s been exactly three weeks since Election Day, but the Obama administration still hasn’t said how it will respond to ballot measures legalizing pot in Colorado and Washington.


Argentinian Politician in Hot Water After Tweeting Photo of Pot Plant in Her Home

Argentenian politician Gabriella Curetti is in trouble for tweeting a photo of a pot plant in her home .  Curetti tweeted the photo below with the caption,  “One was given to me by my mother, the other by (gay rights activist) Alex Freyrem, can you can guess which is which?” and quickly set off a Twitterstorm of “drug pusher” criticism.  But the center-left New Encounter official for Buenos Aires may have employed the stunt for more serious reasons than you think. Curetti says it was all about advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana. Indeed,  Cerutti’s tweet is only the latest example of Latin American leaders’ paving the way for reform.  


Mexico: President Felipe Calderón – Drug Trafficking, Consumption “Impossible to End”

At the end of his six-year term in D.F., Mexican President Felipe Calderón is taking the garrulous route out of office. Calderón, who exits the presidency next month, is busily talking up Mexico’s surging economy and potential to be the next BRIC nation with foreign journalists. But no interview with him is complete without discussion of Mexico’s Drug War,which was escalated to a full-on military conflict under Calderón’s direction.


Mexico: Can Obama and Peña Nieto Clear the Marijuana Smoke?

Like a growing number of Latin American leaders, Peña, who takes office Dec. 1, says it may be time to reassess the drug war. In an interview with TIME, Peña has made his first direct remarks on the U.S. marijuana-legalization measures and how they complicate a four-decade-old drug interdiction strategy that has been widely branded a failure in both Mexicoand the U.S. “Without a doubt,” Peña said this month during a wide-ranging conversation at his transition headquarters in Mexico City, which TIME will publish later this week, “it opens a space for a rethinking of our [drug-war] policy. It opens a debate about the course the drug war should be taking. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Mexican government is suddenly going to change what it’s doing now … but I am in favor of a hemispheric debate on the effectiveness of the drug-war route we’ve been on.”


Psychedelic Drug Research Supporter Larry Hagman Dies

Actor, Larry Hagman, well known as the television star of Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie, as well for for his support of psychedelic drug research, passed away on 23 November of complications due to throat cancer. In the psychedelic community, Hagman was well-known for his strong support of cannabis and psychedelic drug research.  When Hagman was a young actor in the 1960s, he experienced LSD on several occasions, as well as peyote and magic mushrooms. He said that he “found them of profound personal importance,” and he wrote about these experiences in his autobiography,Hello Darlin’. 


Visualizing the Language of Drug Experience

In the public discourse, drugs have long been associated with crime, with illness, danger, and addiction. Less is said about what it is like to use them, or what place they have in the lives of those who do. Perhaps it is offensive even to ask. Perhaps it seems indulgent. Drugs are certainly not hidden, of course. They play starring roles in popular films and television shows; provide narrative arc to celebrity gossip (“Lindsay Lohan train wreck reel”); we have even waged war against them, or so Richard Nixon liked to tell us. Lately too, prescription uppers have become a playground for intrepid young journalists, whose love affairs with stimulants are woven into dull cautionary tales about the inanity of hyper-efficiency. (“There’s a downside,” says Molly Young of adderall, in closing an essay extolling its many virtues, and wondering, seemingly, if she can admit there never was.) And so drugs are typecast as either villain or tempting mistress, and caricatured accordingly, their cartoon renderings a vehicle for our discomfort.


 

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