Embassy Headlines, Issue 3

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy is always trying to get the good news out there. Michael Balderstone is going to provide his pick of news stories relating to the War on Drugs and Cannabis law reform issues, every week with the HEMP Embassy Headlines.


Danish Parliament paves the way towards increased safety and dignity for people who use drugs


In June 2012, the Danish Parliament approved a new law on drug consumption rooms [DCR], including instructions to police and the prosecutors not to search, seize and prosecute users in possession of ‘small quantities’ of controlled drugs for personal use ‘in and nearby’ DCRs. However, ‘small quantities’ remains a matter of legal interpretation. According to the guidelines outlined by the General Attorney, this usually relates to less than 0.2 g (= 200 mg.) of heroin or cocaine. However, in a ruling from the Supreme District Court, the possession of 1.37 g. of heroin was considered as personal use.  The new law, which will come in force on 1st July 2012, also allows for Danish municipalities to establish DCRs for smoking or inhaling heroin or crack.  The new law will finally enable us to welcome people who use drugs so that they can use in much safer conditions. We are hopeful that this new step will contribute to a much needed decrease in mortality among people who use drugs, and an increase in users’ social inclusion and dignity.

Most Canadians firmly in favour of decriminalizing marijuana: poll


Two-thirds of Canadians think the law should be changed so that people caught with small amounts of marijuana no longer face criminal penalties or fines, a new poll has found. The nationwide survey for Postmedia News and Global TV, which examined the state of Canadian values, revealed that the public is distinctly offside with the Harper government on the issue.

A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe


This report looks at over 20 countries that have adopted some form of decriminalisation of drug possession, including some States that have only decriminalised cannabis possession. The main aim of the report was to look at the existing research to establish whether the adoption of a decriminalised policy led to significant increases in drug use – the simple answer is that it did not. This then begs the question that if the model of enforcement adopted has little impact on levels of use what is the point in pursuing a criminal justice approach which carries significant harms for individuals?

Turning Pot into Medicine


The Bay Area [Sanfranciso, USA] is just three years into mainstream consumer testing of pot for potency and pathogens, and the practice is causing a rapid evolution in cannabis science and culture. The number of labs has blossomed over the last three years, from just one to at least a dozen in California alone. In 2009, just one medical cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Centre in Oakland, had its pot tested. Now, dozens of California dispensaries advertise that their weed undergoes examination. Many of California’s estimated one million qualified cannabis patients now refuse to buy untested weed. And in a stark rebuttal to prohibitionists who still claim that the medical cannabis industry is just a smokescreen for people who want to get high, patients are increasingly using lab results to find weed that will reduce pain, ease nausea, relieve anxiety, and counteract a host of other medical problems without causing euphoria.

Are International Treaties Standing in the Way of Legalization?


Missing from US-conducted analyses is a discussion about the international legal system – as embodied in the three international drug control treaties.  The way the world looks at drug control is changing. There has been a growing awareness of the issue for the past decade, as well as increasing public outcry over what many see as a failure of the once popular “war on drugs.” Nowhere is this battle more pronounced than in the so-called “marijuana wars,” which are slowly growing into an old-fashioned standoff between the states and the federal government. As of June 2012, seventeen states (and the District of Columbia) have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, several states have introduced initiatives to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and there are now two proposed federal bills designed to lift the ban on marijuana. The Gallup polls show that at least 70% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, and over 50% are now in favor of its legalization for recreational use as well.  With so much movement in the area and so much public support, many are asking: Why is the federal government so vehemently resisting the liberalization of a policy that seems to be inevitable?

Savages: Stone’s Stoner Film Reminds Us Why Marijuana Should Be Legal


The new Oliver Stone stoner film, Savages opens July 6, based on Don Winslow’s 2010 novel. Given Stone’s penchant for unhinged narco-mayhem, Savages is likely to illustrate, as the book did, why keeping weed illegal no longer makes legal, fiscal or even moral sense. Mexico’s powerful and vicious drug cartels – one of which is depicted in Savages as muscling in on a thriving clandestine pot business run by two buddies in California – earn more than $30 billion a year trafficking drugs into the U.S., and marijuana accounts for as much as half of that. Which means illicit cannabis cash is responsible in no small part for the more than 55,000 drug-related murders in Mexico since 2006, including the kind of macabre cartel massacres and beheadings that in Winslow’s story (if not necessarily in real life) seem poised to spill across the border. Decriminalizing marijuana, a drug widely considered no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco when consumed moderately, is one sound way of depriving the traffickers of their revenue and the monstrous arsenals it buys. Savages is a useful pop-culture reminder of the absurd, Prohibition-style tragedy that conventional drug-war thinking on marijuana has brought us to. Criminalization too often means that production and sale are in the hands of quasi-degenerates like Winslow’s protagonists, Ben and Chon (OK, they help Third World kids; so did Pablo Escobar) or homicidal psychopaths like Elena and Lado, the Mexican cartel’s queen and her enforcer. Or weed-peddling street gangs in Chicago, where more people have been murdered this year than U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan.

Sun poll shows UK public wants to explore alternatives to drug war


Hot on the heels of UK Justice Minister Ken Clarke admitting we are “plainly losing the War on Drugs”, comes a poll for The Sun newspaper showing the public agree – 86% of people now think that the UK has a serious drug problem. 58% of the UK public support a Government review comparing the current approach to drugs with Portuguese-style decriminalisation, and full legalisation, with just 22% opposing it.

The Fallacy of the DEA: Why the Agency Needs to Concede to Legal Marijuana


The concept of having a centralized narcotics bureau might have been admirable in the early seventies. However, we’re now witnessing the long-term flaws associated with creating such a robust agency with the sole purpose of drug enforcement, especially considering one of the DEA’s biggest targets is marijuana (which is obviously a commodity becoming more and more acceptable every day).  The growing tolerance towards cannabis poses a huge risk for the DEA, or at least the agency seems concerned with pot going mainstream. If this weren’t the case, they wouldn’t be so relentless in their fight against the medical marijuana industry. Polls consistently show that the use of cannabis via doctor recommendation is welcomed by almost eighty per cent of the population. Yet, the DEA refuses to throw in the towel when it comes to this costly and unpopular crusade, even if it means trampling all over the rights of state and local governments in the process. Common sense should tell the DEA to give up on marijuana entirely at this point, including policing against recreational usage, which a majority of Americans now believe should be legally on par with alcohol consumption.

Singapore scraps mandatory death penalty for drug couriers



Singapore is to change its law so that convicted drug couriers no longer receive a mandatory death sentence. The deputy prime minister, Teo Chee Hean, told parliament on Monday the government will seek to give judges the discretion to instead award life sentences to drug couriers if they co-operate with authorities or have a mental disability. He said the mandatory death penalty by hanging for drug kingpins or distributors would remain. International rights groups have criticised Singapore’s mandatory death penalty for couriers as too harsh. Singapore has argued tough penalties are a necessary deterrent to keep crime rates low. The changes to the law must be approved by parliament, where the ruling People’s Action party controls 81 of the 87 seats.

Germans want dope legalized


More than 152,000 Germans have voted to make cannabis a legal drug in an online poll conducted as part of Merkel’s strategy to bring the German government closer to the people.The online poll is part of an ongoing government initiative called “Dialogue on the Future” that aims to get ordinary Germans thinking about how to improve life in Germany. The recent rapid rise of a new party, the Pirates, who campaign for Internet freedoms, has underlined to German politicians the growing importance of the web for mobilizing citizens in support of political causes.


Local NSW News

Mullaways medical cannabis court case in Kempsey, for his medical cannabis crop was adjourned until August 27.

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