Embassy Headlines, Issue 30

Cannabis prohibition protects the profitability and investment of many industries where hemp is an alternative. Crude oil, coal, cotton, wood-chip, dairy, soy bean and prescription drugs just to name a few. Old Hippie conspiracy theories about corporate global dominance and the ‘war on drugs’ have sadly become fact, with a few minor exceptions.

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 30

USA: Tucson Gets State’s First Cannabis Kitchen

State inspectors gave the nod in Tucson on Thursday to the state’s first commercial cannabis kitchen, Heavenly Harvest, where staff were making cannabis butter, stuffing ovens and mixing spices to bring their edibles to Green Halo dispensary patients as soon as possible. “We expect to have a full line of edibles out by Saturday,” said Heather Manus, the registered nurse who manages the non-profit associated with the Green Halo dispensary.


USA: Groups seek to influence new rules for growing, selling pot

Lawyers, businessmen and farmers have formed new groups to lobby the Washington State Liquor Control Board as it writes rules for the world’s first social-use marijuana-grower license.


USA: Rocky Mountain high – Pot a $200M industry in Colorado

Vigorous regulation of a thriving medical-marijuana industry in Colorado offers the best glimpse of what is coming to Washington when it launches its voter-approved social-use market. With continuous surveillance, bar-coded plants and strict financial background checks, Colorado’s rules allowed capitalism to be unleashed, creating an instant $200 million industry.


USA: Drug liberalization’s time has arrived

The top drug news of 2012, writes Neal Peirce, was the Election Day decision of voters in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana, not just for medicinal but for recreational sales and use as well.


USA: Why marijuana should be legal for adults

Throughout my career as a clinical psychiatrist, I have seen lives ruined by drugs like cocaine, painkillers and alcohol. I have also borne witness to the devastation brought upon cannabis users — almost never by abuse of the drug, but by a justice system that chooses a sledgehammer to kill a weed.


USA: Patrick Kennedy Wants to Round Up, Reeducate Potheads with Project SAM

Oxycontin addict, alcoholic, and former Rhode Island rep. Patrick Kennedy has come out with a startling, new plan to oppose pot legalization in the United States: round up potheads and re-educate them in camps. Kennedy’s communist reeducation scheme is being billed as Project SAM, standing for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and it launched today in Denver, CO. Project SAM’s stated goals are to create laws that would “funnel marijuana users to interventions or treatment” and deny medical marijuana to cancer and AIDS patients in favor of something that pharmaceutical corporations can profit from.


USA: Say No To GMO Hemp – More Madness

Cannabis prohibition has served to redirect human evolution from that of a decentralized agrarian lifestyle and natural economy, to a centralized petro-chemical military dictatorship controlled through the artificial economic will of private banks and other trans-national corporate interests. 


World’s Largest Historical Collection Of Deviant Erotic And Drug-Related Cultural Works Now At Harvard

The collection has an estimated 30,000 books and 25,000 posters, photographs, and other ephemera assembled by Colombian businessman Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr., who died in 2009. There were garish posters in French that advertised American movies. Others wryly celebrate getting high. One poster, in velvet, advertised the services, by blimp, of Air Cannabis. “Come fly with us,” it offered. Another played on an education theme. “Pot,” the poster assured, “teaches us about geography.” And lest other ways of altering the mind be left out, there was a poster of Fritz the Cat immersed in a bathtub, surrounded by several pairs of female legs. Its wishful legend said in French: “He has all the vices.”


UK: Decriminalise drugs, inquiry by cross-party peers says

The possession and use of all illegal drugs should be decriminalised, a cross-party group of peers has said. The least harmful should be regulated and sold in licensed shops, with labels detailing risks, the group concluded. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform (APPG) said criminal sanctions did not combat drug addiction, and only marginalised users.


UK: Time for a second opinion? Where we are going wrong on ‘Legal Highs’

The proliferation of New Psychoactive Substances, often called ‘legal highs’, is rightly seen as a threat to public health. Enforcing the prohibition of familiar recreational drugs has proved far from a walk in the park, but when labs can churn out new drugs which mimic illicit ones but can be sold freely, what is a government to do?


Can Marijuana Beat the Mafia? Some French Say Make It Legal

France offers the most recent sign of changing attitudes. While consumption and production of pot for personal use are not criminal offenses in France, growing and selling for other than personal use is illegal. So 150 to 200 “clubs” of growers operating quietly, and their umbrella association called Cannabis Social Clubs, have decided to come out of the dark to lobby openly for legalization. Their main argument? Cannabis cultivated and sold legally and under regulations is the best way to fight crime.


Hebrew University researcher: Moses was tripping at Mount Sinai

“And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking.” Thus the book of Exodus describes the impressive moment of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The “perceiving of the voices” has been interpreted endlessly since these words were first written. When Professor Benny Shanon, professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reads the verse, he recalls a powerful hallucinatory experience he had when he visited the Amazon and drank a potion made from a plant called ayahuasca. 


Mexico considers marijuana legalization after ballot wins in U.S.

At this point, there is limited public support for legalization in Mexico. A poll released in November showed that 79% of Mexicans remained opposed to the idea. By comparison, a Gallup poll released last month showed 50% of U.S. residents against legalization and 48% in favor. The fact that the Mexican public is generally less buzzed about legalization comes as no surprise to Isaac Campos, a historian at the University of Cincinnati, who said conservative attitudes on drug use have deep roots in Mexico. Mexico, he says in a book published in April, outlawed marijuana in 1920, 17 years before the U.S. did, and Mexican newspapers of the era pushed the idea that marijuana smokers were mentally unstable and prone to violence. In recent years, however, the idea of legalization has been moving closer to the mainstream, said Jorge Hernandez, president of Mexico’s Collective for a Comprehensive Drug Policy, which supports the loosening of marijuana laws. In 2009, the Mexican legislature decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana and hard drugs. But Hernandez said the conversation remains “immature” in Mexico, “in the sense that the people use emotions and moral questions to debate it, and haven’t had a real technical-regulatory debate.”


Teen cannabis use lowers IQ, despite claims to the contrary

Does the use of marijuana in adolescence and into adulthood reduce IQ? Duke University’s Madeline Meier, who released a study into this last year, believes it does. But a paper published today questions her conclusions, suggesting that socioeconomic status may explain the effect more accurately. In a piece co-authored with the University of Queensland’s Wayne Hall, Meier defends her findings and explains why they believe this new analysis is flawed. 


Teen cannabis IQ impact questioned – experts respond

The original paper is led by authors specialising in psychology and psychiatry. They do not consider variables such as socioeconomic status (SES), and their statistical analyses rely heavily on strong and untested assumptions. For example, they assume a simple linear relationship between the duration of marijuana smoking and the change in IQ, and their results do not show clearly how confident we can be in the magnitude of the results. In contrast, Rogeberg, an economist who authored the more recent study, takes SES into account, and has a more thorough approach to the statistical methods he applies. He is also clearer about the uncertainty of his results, using simulations to explore the potential effects of different assumptions.


Pot smokers might not turn into dopes after all

Cannabis rots your brain — or does it? Last year, a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)1 suggested that people who used cannabis heavily as teenagers saw their IQs fall by middle age. But a study published today2 — also in PNAS — says that factors unrelated to cannabis use are to blame for the effect. Nature explores the competing claims.


Medical Marijuana Is Safe for Children

Numerous cases show clinical cannabis is effective on illnesses in children.


 The condemned coca leaf 

A 1961 agreement called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, still in effect around the world, orders people to stop chewing the leaves and mandates the destruction of all wild coca bushes. This fact might merely be unfortunate and overzealous — but, because of a wrinkle in United States history, it is also hugely hypocritical. You see, the Single Convention was adopted after years of negotiations led in great part by Harry J. Anslinger, long-time commissioner of the USA Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Best known today for his fervent campaign against marijuana, Anslinger had a strange relationship with the coca plant: spearheading its prohibition while simultaneously ensuring access to the leaf for a single, powerful consumer, The Coca-Cola Company.


Book: A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola 

This book is an illustrated history of coffee, coca leaf, kola nut, Coca-Cola, caffe-ine, coca-ine, secret formulas, special flavors, special favors, and the future of prohibition. It’s a tale of cocaine factories in Peru and New Jersey; secret experiments at the University of Hawaii; and a peek at the files of U.S. Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry J. Anslinger (infamous for his “Reefer Madness” campaign against marijuana, lesser known as a collaborator of The Coca-Cola Company).


Book: Racism’s Hidden History in the War on Drugs

The beginning of marijuana prohibition had racist underpinnings. This time it was the Mexicans. Just as cocaine was associated with black violence and irrational behavior, in the southwest border towns marijuana was viewed — beginning in the early 1920s — as a cause of Mexican lawlessness. A Texas police captain suggested that marijuana gave Mexicans superhuman strength to commit acts of violence.


 

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