Embassy Headlines, Issue 38

Politicians need Cannabis to relieve their stress as the hi-tech elite of Silicon Valley do to maintain a healthy work environment. Cannabis will help the average politician become more innovative and expand their minds.

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 38

Medical groups push to make marijuana legal

Doctors, medical researchers and cancer advocacy groups want the state government to legalise the use of medical marijuana, saying it is an effective treatment for pain including the side effects of chemotherapy. In submissions to a NSW upper house inquiry into the issue, the Australian Medical Association, the Cancer Council NSW and the Australian Drug Foundation have all supported the use of medical marijuana in certain circumstances. The inquiry will conduct its first hearings this week.

Medical marijuana supported

North coast health educators have joined a large chorus of support for legalising marijuana for medical use in NSW. The NSW Upper House is holding its first day of hearings today in its inquiry into the use of cannabis for medical purposes. It is looking at how it could be supplied and any legal implications. The inquiry has received 122 submissions, with more than two-thirds of them supporting easing restrictions on cannabis for medical use. They include respected bodies such as the University Centre for Rural Health, North Coast (UCRH), the Australian Doctors Association (AMA) NSW, and the Cancer Council of NSW.

Police seize more than $4 million worth of cannabis

Police have seized more than $4 million worth of cannabis during the fifth round of the NSW Police Force’s 2012-2013 Cannabis Eradication Program. The latest round of raids, which commenced on Sunday (3 March 2013) and concluded yesterday (Thursday 7 March 2013), focused on cannabis crops in the Richmond Local Area Command in northern NSW. Officers seized plants from a number of locations, including Boorabee, Gradys Creek, Nimbin, Rapville and Tabulam. In total, 2099 plants with an estimated street value of $4.2 million were seized and destroyed by police. As a result of the raids, two people have been charged with drug-related offences and issued with court attendance notices.

Hundreds of police raid Sydney bikies

Heavily armed police have raided a number of properties across Sydney as part of a co-ordinated hit on bikies and their gun and drug networks.

Sex, drugs and illness: why teens need medical confidentiality

Without confidentiality, adolescents are less likely to seek health care, less likely to disclose sensitive information about their lives and less likely to return for future appointments. But forgoing health care isn’t an option for young people today.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks budget, guns, pot in Denver USA

Pelosi said the federal government should not fund enforcement of its marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical marijuana and in Colorado and Washington, which have also legalized recreational use of pot. “The state (Colorado) has spoken. The law has been passed,” Pelosi said. “There are issues with taxation and regulation, and we need to get on with it.”

Let U.S. States Set Their Own Pot Policies

Eight former directors of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as other assorted big names associated with national drug policy, are turning up the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder to crack down on Colorado and Washington for legalizing marijuana last fall. Even the United Nations is getting into the act. A U.N.-based agency, the International Narcotics Control Board, claimed this week that the Obama administration will violate treaties if it doesn’t take action to stop the two states from forging a new marijuana policy. So far, Holder continues to say the administration is close to announcing its policy, but is not quite there. On Wednesday, for example, he told a Senate panel his department was “still considering” how to proceed.

Silicon Valley Reportedly Full of Stoners

Another major marijuana stereotype just got blown totally out of the water — this time the idea that consuming cannabis is for unemployed slacker types. In fact, pot is wildly popular in one of America’s economic centers, Silicon Valley. According to a new report in Bloomberg’s Businessweek, the “physical toll” of computer coding has made Silicon Valley workers key consumers in the medical marijuana industry. 

Harvard Economist: Legalizing Drugs Suits Ideal of American Freedom

The prohibition of drugs is the worst solution for preventing abuse. Firstly, it brings about a black market that is corrupt and costs human lives. Secondly, it constrains people who wouldn’t abuse drugs. Thirdly, prohibiting drugs is expensive.

Relaxation of US cannabis laws ‘violates UN drug conventions’

Cannabis decriminalisation measures across the United States, including the medical use of marijuana in California, have been sharply criticised by the United Nations, which has warned Washington they violate the international drug conventions. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which polices the drug treaties, has also warned about the growing public health threat from the “unprecedented surge” in “legal highs” and called for concerted global action to curb the growing trade. Launching its annual report in London, Raymond Yans, the INCB president, said that the successful ballots in Colorado and Washington to legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes and the fact that Massachusetts had recently become the 18th state to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes violate the international drug conventions.

Is the INCB Dangerous to Your Health?

In what has become a chilling annual exercise, the UN’s drug watchdog the International Narcotics Control Board released its annual report today. The INCB describes itself as a “quasi-judicial” group of experts charged with monitoring compliance with international drug control treaties, but the report’s drug war bias and egregious omissions makes us wonder who is judging the judges. The INCB is supposed to ensure balance in drug control and the availability of legal medicines used to treat addiction and relieve pain. The INCB report, though, takes a notably less kind, more punitive approach to drugs — stressing enforcement over health, and failing to note the many ways in which the countries it visited last year could improve responses to drugs and drug addiction. 

Repressive Drug Policy Still the Norm at CND

Unlike other UN commissions and programs, civil society plays a small but growing part in the deliberations of the CND – the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. In fact, some countries still oppose the participation of civil society entirely. What this means is that the key policy-making body for global drug control is still partly insulated from the concerns of groups working on issues like human rights and the prevention of HIV and Hep C among people who use drugs. It’s also clear that words like “harm reduction” are flash points. Official country delegations and speakers avoid this term assiduously.

UN Report Highlights Abuse as ‘Drug Treatment’

A United Nations report about torture and other abuses in healthcare settings points to the need for donors to withdraw funds to compulsory drug detention centers, Human Rights Watch and Harm Reduction International said today. The report was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 4, 2013, by the special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez. It says that people identified as drug users are held without due process in government-run detention centers where they face serious abuse – including physical and sexual violence and forced labor – all in the name of “rehabilitation.” Human Rights Watch has done extensive research on the subject in Vietnam,ChinaCambodia, and Lao PDR, and Harm Reduction International has also reported on donor support to centers in these countries.

Scare tactics may be back in vogue, but they still don’t work

Using scare tactics to change lifestyle behaviour is beginning to creep back into public health practice. These were widely used in the 1970s and 1980s and were as ineffective then as they are now. Many media commentators have recently suggested that the HSE and Department of Health should start using frightening messages about food and alcohol as a way of tackling Ireland’s seemingly intractable obesity and drink problems.

How online ‘likes’ reveal your politics, sexuality and drug use

Social psychologists have studied Facebook user’s “likes” and found they reveal a startlingly accurate picture of personality traits including sexual orientation, political leanings and drug use. Scientists from the University of Cambridge studied the Facebook “likes” of more than 58,000 Americans, who, as well as giving the researchers permission to analyse their online proles, provided demographic details and sat for psychometric tests. When they entered the data into a mathematical model they found it could accurately pick a drug user in 65 per cent of cases.

Book Review: Enter the shamans of science and the psychonauts of psychiatry

In this book Sessa lovingly describes the story of the psychedelic renaissance, taking us on a journey that seems to have first arisen from the ritual use of sacred plants and is now starting to manifest as rigorous scientific findings. In 2011, the first phase 2 trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for refractory post-traumatic stress disorder was published, and now studies on psilocybin from so-called magic mushrooms and LSD for end-of-life anxiety are awaiting publication, while psilocybin, ketamine, and ibogaine are being explored to treat addiction. Sessa goes on to propose that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy might have potential for other hard-to-reach mental disorders—for example, MDMA for personality disorders and as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy in patients with life-threatening depression, and psilocybin for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Book Review: Tripping With Allah: Islam, Drugs and Writing

Michael Muhammad Knight’s 9th book is not going to be for everyone. It’s right there in the title.  Never afraid of controversy, MMK’s career in writing has always dived headlong into topics considered taboo by mainstream Islamic discourse. From his early depictions of Muslim punks full of Iman but free of (or from) Adab, to his engagement with Five Percenter and Nation of Islam ideas in previous books, he has created his own corner of discussion of Islam that could alienate many who read, Muslim and Non-Muslim alike. Tripping With Allah is almost the distillation of that principle.


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