Embassy Headlines, Issue 33

Cannabis makes the news in the strangest places for bewildering reasons. Conservative media continues trying to follow the positive global trends on the previously named ‘Devil’s Lettuce’ coined by ‘Reefer Madness’ pioneers. Old Hippie conspiracy theories are now faithfully reproduced by the local paparazzi as news with advertisements.    

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.


Medical marijuana a sensible step back from past paranoia

The NSW upper house is considering legalising the medical use of cannabis. This reflects increasing recognition of the benefits of marijuana use in some cases, and comes after dramatic changes in the US where 18 states now allow it in certain circumstances – a milestone in undoing the catastrophic experiment known as drug prohibition.

16 South Australians arrested in giant national drug bust

A former SA-NFL footballer and television host is among 16 South Australians arrested as part of a cannabis syndicate worth $40 million over the past four years. Clayton Lush, 38, faced Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday with 12 men and women charged with the offence of being involved in a criminal organisation. The former South Adelaide footballer – who played 17 league games – and host of Channel 9’s Building Ideas TV program was arrested along with his wife, Kylie.

AFL summit sends wrong message on illicit drug use

The most concerning thing to emerge from AFL drug summit is the strong public message being given by many involved: that all instances of illicit drug use require correction or rehabilitation through mental health counselling and medical treatment. However, the problem with the “drug use = pathology” message is that its simply not true. Not all instances of drug use reflect an underlying mental health or medical problem that requires counselling and treatment. We know from the available data that most people who use drugs never encounter major health harms from doing so, and never require treatment or rehabilitation.

NZ: Switched on Gardener turns off to turning on

Two men facing lengthy jail sentences after a police cannabis-related bust at Switched on Gardener stores are clearing their shelves and promising to get out of the legal-high business. Switched on Gardener’s directors, managers and staff were arrested during a widespread raid under Operation Lime in 2010. Following a nine-week trial last year, general manager Peter Bennett and owner Michael Quinlan were convicted of supplying equipment for the cultivation of cannabis.

Effort building to change US pot laws

On Tuesday, a coalition of congressional lawmakers, led by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) will introduce legislation to permit for the regulated commercial production, retail sales and taxation of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption. The historic measures mark the first time members of Congress have sought to legalize the social use of marijuana and are indicative of the shifting tone in public and political opinion regarding the plant once dubbed the “assassin of youth.”

 USA: After Medical Marijuana Mess, Feds Face Big Decision On Pot

Fours years after promising not to make medical marijuana a priority, the government continues to target it aggressively. The war has played out not just between federal authorities and the pot industry, but between competing factions within the federal government, as well as between local and state officials and the more aggressive federal prosecutors and drug warriors. As officials in Washington fought over whether and how to continue the war on pot, U.S. attorneys in the states helped beat back local efforts to regulate the medical marijuana industry, going so far as to threaten elected officials with jail. The willingness of elements within the Department of Justice, including its top prosecutors, to use their power in brazenly political ways is, in many ways, the untold story of Obama’s first-term approach to drug policy.

USA: Feds should lay off legal pot

An overwhelming majority of Americans want the federal government to lay off marijuana users, growers and sellers in states that have legalized it, according to a new poll. A poll by the libertarian Reason Foundation found that 72 percent of Americans do not want the federal government to arrest people who use marijuana in states such as Washington and Colorado. The poll also shows strong opposition to the federal government arresting marijuana growers (68 percent) and sellers (64 percent) in the two states.

Colombia, Uruguay, Guatemala: Drug Policy Reform on the Move in Latin America

Drug policy reform is progressing by leaps and bounds in the early phase of 2013, with Latin America taking the lead. Colombia creates an Advisory Commission on Drug Policy in order to tackle drugs-related issues that have plagued the country at all levels of society for the past 30 years. The commission includes ex-president Cesar Gaviria, an ardent advocate of drug policy reform. It aims to design public policy with a holistic approach based on scientific and empirical evidence. The justice minister Ruth Stella Correa also introduced a new drug bill to legalize synthetic drugs such as ecstasy.Uruguay will start in February a broad national debate about the government’s project of marijuana legalization. If you haven’t done so yet, please sign Petition in support of the controlled legalization of Marijuana in Uruguay. Guatemalan president is taking a leadership position on the world scene, bringing his message about drug policy reform and requesting an open debate about drug regulation in international venues from the UN to the Davos World Economic Forum, to the first European-Latin America-Caribbean Summit with 43 heads of state in attendance. Guatemalan president Perez Molina deserves our full support. I you haven’t signed it yet, sign our petition http://signon.org/sign/support-guatemalan-president .

New drug bill ‘to decriminalise ecstasy’ in Colombia

Colombia’s Justice Minister, Ruth Stella Correa, has said a new drugs bill would decriminalise personal use of synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy. The proposal would replace current laws, which ban cocaine and marijuana, although people are not prosecuted for possessing small amounts. Colombia’s legislation is being re-assessed in an attempt to tackle drug use, trafficking and related issues.

Israel: The right way to legalize cannabis

A newly elected politician better known for his hawkish outlook on national issues and settlements, has set his goals high with a plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In an interview with Maariv Wednesday, controversial Likud party member Moshe Feiglin, who will soon take a seat in the Knesset for the first time, said he intends to push for new legislation that will bring medical and even private use of cannabis onto the right side of the law.

Launch of the EU drug markets report

The European drug market is a complex phenomenon, with new realities now emerging to challenge long-held certainties. Two EU agencies — the EMCDDA and Europol — have thus joined forces to provide the first state-of-the-art overview of this market in its entirety. The analysis provided by the report is unique, combining insights from the EMCDDA’s monitoring and data analysis of Europe’s drug phenomenon in the global context with Europol’s operational understanding of trends in organised crime.

The Top 10 Stoner Movies of 2012

It was another solid year for stoner movies. Here’s CelebStoner’s Top 10 of 2012.

Book Reviews: Opium Dreams

It’s safe to say we have a love-hate relationship with papaver somniferum, the opium poppy. And, as Thomas Dormandy points out in his magisterial historyOpium: Reality’s Dark Dream, it goes back a long way. Poppy seeds were found in the excavation of a lakeside Swiss village dated to 6000 BC, and the use of the poppy as medicine was part of Egyptian practice as early as 4500 BC. (Interestingly, concern about its deadly and addictive properties came only much later, although, in a gripe that could have come from the online comment section of any newspaper today, grumpy old man Cato the Elder complained about doped-up youth hanging around the Forum in imperial Rome.)


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