Embassy Headlines, Issue 26

Banksters have many skeletons in the closet. In the days of the ‘Opium Wars’ banking wasn’t called money laundering. An old HSBC proverb says; It’s cheaper to pay the settlement than try to win in court.

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.

HEMP Embassy Headlines

Oz: Vague drug laws leave medical staff exposed

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) is calling for changes to privacy laws to protect doctors and nurses who report drug traffickers to police. Customs authorities say so-called body-packing is a growing global problem. They are often treated in hospitals with complications from attempts to smuggle packets of drugs internally. 

 Oz: Have we surrendered in the war on drugs?

Unfortunately the community is not backing up police. Instead, we are sending children an ambivalent message about drugs. We have Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital lending its reputation to the drug liberalising crusade of Dr Alex Wodak, who wants cannabis sold in little packets at the post office. We have establishment figures like Foreign Minister Bob Carr endorsing the Australia21 group’s policy of drug decriminalisation. Meanwhile, alcohol is the chief preoccupation of policymakers, who are intent on making it so expensive and difficult to obtain that illegal drugs are a logical, cheap alternative for cash-strapped young people. The inevitable result of slackening attitudes towards drugs is there for all to see in the statistics.

NSW: New alcohol alliance predicts 300 drink deaths this summer

Heavy drinking will kill 300 people and cause thousands more to be assaulted or put in hospital this summer, according to fresh analysis from a new body, the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance. The alliance of health and police groups is calling Thursday for urgent action to stop alcohol-related violence, injuries and harmful behaviour. It predicts there will be 300 deaths, 12,000 hospitalisations and nearly 7900 assaults linked to alcohol over the next three months, if patterns from previous years are repeated.

Qld: Licensed venues face bill for police to control violence in booze hotspots

Licensed venues could be forced to pay for police to patrol party hotspots in a new strategy to drive down booze-fuelled violence. 

Qld: ‘You can’t live off pension’, so 71-year-old grew cannabis

Bespectacled, with neatly combed almost-white hair, Alan Hogan looked like any other retiree. But the 71-year-old standing in the dock of the Maroochydore District Court yesterday was not quite like every other retiree. While other men his age tinker with old cars and woodwork, Mr Hogan used his back shed to grow cannabis.

USA: Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

If you’ve ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you’ve ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or “drug paraphernalia” in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me. Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

USA: Parsing Obama’s Words on Legalizing Marijuana

Anytime the president answers a question about marijuana and federal marijuana policy, as he did in a recent interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters that airs tonight, it makes sense to parse his words. Four things stand out in ABC’s press release about the president’s comments. The first is that he responded in a serious and substantive tone, which contrasted with the jokingly dismissive ways in which he answered questions about marijuana legalization just a few years ago. The second was his comment — highlighted by ABC in its news release — that recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a “top priority” of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs. The third was when Obama told Walters he does not — “at this point” — support widespread legalization of marijuana. The fourth, and most substantive, comment was the following: “This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said.

USA: 100,000 Americans Die Each Year from Prescription Drugs, While Pharma Companies Get Rich

How many people do you know who regularly use a prescription medication? If your social group is like most Americans’, the answer is most. Sixty-five percent of the country takes a prescription drug these days. In 2005 alone, we spent $250 billion on them. 

USA: Is the War on Drugs finally going to pot?

Doug Fine, author of “Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution,” spoke to the potential financial boon to cannabis farmers in a multi-billion dollar industry on the wholesale level. “We’re talking about America’s biggest crop,” Fine said Saturday. “And so we’re looking at a $40 billion industry when the sheer nonsense of the drug war ends, which hopefully will be pretty soon.”

Canada to privatize its medical marijuana industry

Canada’s Conservative government will soon stop producing and distributing medical marijuana, leaving it up to the private sector in a policy change that angered critics on Monday [17 Dec].

UK: The Hobbit, Nick Clegg and the clinical use of LSD

So the drugs don’t work? Tolkien appeared to think they do. As Rosamund Urwin noted in yesterday’s Evening Standard, in the film of the Hobbit the anti-drugs viewpoint is held by the wizard Saruman. At one point, he says of Radagast that “mushrooms have addled his brain”. As those familiar with The Lord Of The Rings will recall, Saruman later becomes the epitome of evil, while the liberal, mushroom-nibbling Radagast is a great hero. And then, of course, there’s Gandalf, merrily puffing on his “pipeweed” throughout.

UK: Clegg – We’re losing war on drugs ‘on an industrial scale’

Nick Clegg has broken ranks with the prime minister on drugs reform, just five days after his coalition partner ruled out a royal commission on decriminalisation. In a clear split at the top of the government, Clegg backed a home affairs committee report which called for a fundamental rethink of Britain’s approach to the war on drugs. “It’s time we told the truth,” Clegg told the Sun newspaper. “We are losing the war on drugs on an industrial scale. 

Some Take Cannabis Illicitly, Israelis Take it Seriously

At the Hadarim nursing home, cannabis is on the menu of medical treatments. In fact, 19 patients out of 36 use medical cannabis. “Though we know how to extend life, the pain is great. In geriatrics, the future doesn’t matter any longer. What matters is the now – how to add quality of life to longevity,” explains Head Nurse Inbal Sikorin while opening the safe containing bags of powder and flowers. Sucked from a syringe, peppered in a yoghourt, administered three times a day in half-gramme doses, cannabis dramatically reduces the need for medication, say doctors, nurses and patients. “Why use painkillers? I feel great with cannabis,” says Rivka Haloup, 85, who suffers from acute arthritis.

Doubt cast on MS cannabis treatment

There is no strong evidence to back the use of cannabis extract in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), it was claimed. A review of evidence on the first licensed preparation, Sativex, said there were “limitations” which made it difficult to identify the place of the product in clinical practice. However the makers of the drug said they believed the comments gave a misleading view and that the review writers appeared to have misunderstood important elements of trials.

Controversial Surgery for Addiction Burns Away Brain’s Pleasure Center

How far should doctors go in attempting to cure addiction? In China, some physicians are taking the most extreme measures. By destroying parts of the brain’s “pleasure centers” in heroin addicts and alcoholics, these neurosurgeons hope to stop drug cravings. But damaging the brain region involved in addictive desires risks permanently ending the entire spectrum of natural longings and emotions, including the ability to feel joy.

Fundraiser: West Australian film-maker spearheading the international War on Drugs debate

A bunch of the world’s leading lawmen and women want to overturn the drug laws they have spent their lives enforcing – that’s the message of an exciting new documentary to be launched next year.  However, the film-maker needs your help to do it.  “We are in a crowdfunding race from December 12 to raise $50,000 as quickly as possible,” says Victoria. “If we don’t raise that money before others in the race raise their quota, then we won’t receive $150,000 from ScreenWest. If we do make if, we will have most of the money needed to make the film. We are asking people to donate between $10 and $2000 – we will appreciate any support to get out the message of the world’s leading law enforcers. Visit busteddoco.com for more information on how to be involved and register to be ready to donate after December 12.


ONE GOOD YEAR tells the story of the everyday lives of four medical marijuana growers and their unique community behind the Redwood Curtain in the remote hills of Humboldt County, California, USA. With unprecedented access, the film presents an insider’s view of this legendary pot-farming culture, the question of legalization, and why many farmers wonder if the good times may be coming to an end. The film making is attempting to raise $31,000 to finish the doco, and there are only 9 days left to raise these funds!


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