Embassy Headlines, Issue 24

Revisited inquiries into the lingering smell of medical marijuana law reform from the US will help reinvent the wheel in NSW. Passing the parcel online makes more work for the foolhardy law enforcers as they play catch up too.

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.

Embassy Headlines 24

93 Arrested [out of 45,000] At Melbourne Stereosonic As Police Target Summer Festivals

Following on from the major drugs (and weapon) bust at Strawberry FieldsThe Herald Sun reports that a sniffer dog operation at Saturday’s Steresonic led to 92 arrests on various drug offenses, and one arrest for drunk and disorderly behaviour. Police seized ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis, GHB and MDMA at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Flemington, while 80 punters were referred to a drug diversion program, five receiving cannabis cautions and several more interviewed and charged in relation to possessing and trafficking.


NSW: Dogs Know Best – Perhaps Not

How many times have you had a dog sniffing up your leg at the entrance to a gig or while waiting for a train and been harassed by cops as a result? Well Greens MP David Shoebridge reckons it’s about 40 times a day on average in NSW alone. He’s now calling for sniffer dog operations to be stopped. New figures released by the State Government show that the canines are often mistaken. This year NSW Police have conducted more than 14,000 searches on people after sniffer dogs reacted to the potential presence of illegal drugs. In over 11,000 of those cases, illicit substances were not found, meaning that 4 times out of 5 our furry friends are getting it wrong – the dogs that is. Mr Shoebridge says, “No test which has an 80 percent error rate could be considered a reasonable basis on which to conduct an intrusive public search of a citizen going about their daily business”.


NSW: Back to the Future – Report of the Working Party on the use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes from 2000!

Last week we reported that a cross-party committee in the NSW parliament 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. As recently pointed out by a perceptive activist, let’s hope that the current inquiry has at least a glance at the last NSW inquiry into medical marijuana from 12 years ago, and maybe ask why it was never followed up?


WA: Packages intercepted through Australia Post each day

Esperance detectives have warned users of synthetic forms of cannabis that they are “wasting their money,” with increasing numbers of packages intercepted through Australia Post each day.


Synthetic drugs seized in north Qld raids

A house and a number of businesses including a tobacco shop, alternative lifestyle store and adult shop in Rockhampton and Yeppoon were raided on Wednesday.


Plain packs may ‘put off’ smokers says government

Smoking rates in Australia could drop from 15 to 10 per cent within six years due to plain packaging, federal health minister Tanya Plibersek has said. Speaking ahead of the introduction of new laws banning the sale of cigarettes other than in plain packaging, Ms Plibersek said it would take some time to have an impact. “But when you look at what we’ve achieved in Australia – after the second world war 50 per cent of Australians smoked, now 15 per cent of Australians smoke,” she said.


Dancing with Molly

Health experts say it is less harmful than alcohol, so why is ecstasy illegal? [This is an exceptional excellent article with an Australian focus on efforts by PRISM to trial MDMA for post traumatic stress disorder therapy.]


Users shed light on dark internet’s drug trade

The dark internet is a part of the web that most people never see, but an increasing number of Australians are entering to buy drugs and weapons. The Silk Road website is a particular headache for authorities. It’s an anonymous online marketplace where people sell drugs that are posted to customers all over the world.


USA: Marijuana decriminalization law brings down juvenile arrests in California

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. After the new pot law went into effect in January 2011, simple marijuana possession arrests of California juveniles fell from 14,991 in 2010 to 5,831 in 2011, a 61 percent difference, the report by CJCJ senior research fellow Mike Males found.  


USA: Experimental treatment for PTSD – Ecstasy

More than 7 million Americans suffer from PTSD, and by most estimates, only half of them — at best — are ever cured. A decade ago, the widely acknowledged need for better treatments opened the door to Mithoefer and his unconventional approach. By February 2005, the soft-spoken, ponytailed Mithoefer had managed to convince the Drug Enforcement Administration to green-light a study of Ecstasy as an adjunct to psychotherapy. He’d gotten the 3,4-methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine (MDMA) — the chemical name for pure Ecstasy — from Rick Doblin, the founder of a MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The group’s stated purpose is to develop “medical, legal and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.” It wants to turn mind-altering drugs like Ecstasy into prescription medicine.


USA: California University Launches First Academic Marijuana Research Institute

Humboldt State University (HSU) launched a unique academic initiative this fall that most people familiar with the school’s location, in prime California pot-growing territory, probably assumed already existed. The newly-formedHumboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research is sponsoring a series of lectures and coordinating research among eleven of HSU’s faculty members to study various aspects of marijuana as it relates to different fields, including geography, politics, psychology, sociology and economics. It is believed to be the first such institute of its kind in the country. Among the institute’s stated goals is to create a “high-profile Institute” to attract attention to marijuana policy analysis. That may already be working. Erick Eschker, a Humboldt economics professor and the institute’s co-chair, said he is already fielding calls from media around the country about the institute’s work.


USA: California court saves nation’s largest pot shop from eviction

The owner of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, widely regarded as the nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, won a major court victory on Friday when a state judge ruled that a landlord cannot evict the business for activities explicitly protected under state law. Speaking to Raw Story on Monday, Harborside executive director Steve DeAngelo couldn’t sound happier about the judge’s call, saying the case represents a victory for everyone involved in California’s retail marijuana industry.


UK: Drugs are taken for pleasure – realise this and we can start to reduce harm

The mainstream penalty-driven approach to drugs control is both morally and intellectually flawed. Morally, it ignores the use and, in some cases, promotion of drugs such as alcohol and tobacco that are much more harmful than most “illicit” drugs. Intellectually, it ignores the reasons people choose to take drugs, and why they value them. One of the most important motivations for taking drugs, which cannot easily be acknowledged by the authorities, is personal pleasure.


UK: Mephedrone: the rise of heroin’s cheap rival

Heroin, speed and cocaine use is down but mephedrone is more popular than ever since it became illegal. There is now an epidemic of addicts injecting it as ‘M-smack’.


Ireland: Medicinal cannabis available in the next year

The legal use of cannabis in medicines is to be introduced next year. The Irish Independent has learned that theDepartment of Health is bringing in legislation to legalise medicinal cannabis. The move follows applications from drugs companies to sell cannabis-based medicines in Ireland. However, a spokesperson for the department stressed that the change would not apply to recreational use of the drug.


World AIDS Day: We Can’t “Get to Zero” Until We End the Drug War

The official theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Getting to Zero.” As we acknowledge the vast suffering of the hundreds of millions of people who have been infected or impacted by HIV/AIDS on December 1st, it is impossible to ignore an inconvenient truth: that the global war on drugs is severely jeopardizing the overall “fight against AIDS.”   


The Truce On Drugs

What happens now that the war has failed?


The UN General Assembly Approves Resolution on International Cooperation Against Drugs

UN General Assembly just approved Mexico’s Resolution calling for a Special Session global drug policy review in 2016.


Literary Review: ‘Animals and Psychedelics’ by Giorgio Samorini

“The drug problem in modern society is not so much due to the existence of drugs or the natural impulse to take them as to the deculturalization of the human approach to them. To ensure that human drug use does not debase itself and become “bestial,” it is important that it, like all other human behaviors, be mediated by appropriate cultural understanding and knowledge.”


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