Embassy Headlines, Issue 4

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.


Time for Australia to embrace industrial hemp


Announcements over the past few years about the sustainability of logging of Australian forests indicate that many forestry workers will eventually need to find alternative employment and new technologies will be needed to cope with the reduced supply of forest products. To maintain jobs in rural and regional Australia in the short term, and to increase employment in the longer term without jeopardising native forests for future generations, a fresh approach is needed. The development of natural fibre industries provides an option for utilising the existing workforce without the need for significant retraining. Employment and economic growth could boom with new industries based on a diversity of natural fibres. There is a vast array of natural fibres that can complement those produced by the forest product industry including flax, kenaf, sisal, ramie, coir, jute and bamboo. All could provide the stimulus needed to sustain rural/regional employment and economic growth. However, the most important natural fibre product is industrial hemp.

Australian cannabis growers questionnaire – launched July 2012


A team at the National Drug Research Institute [NDRI] have been working on an online survey of cannabis growers for over 6 months now. On 13 July they launched the survey after piloting with OzStoners. This survey aims to better understand small-scale cannabis growing and growers in Australia. NDRI hope to be able to challenge stereotypes of who grows cannabis and why. NDRI are also part of an international consortium of researchers and there will be comparable surveys happening across the world over the next 6 months so researchers will be able to explore country-specific differences in growing practices too. Are you an Australian cannabis grower? Researchers want to dispel community stereotypes w/ this online survey research – http://ndri.curtin.edu.au/research/grow/

Government staffer resigns after drugs found in Executive Building


The daughter of a Queensland government minister has been charged with drug possession after collapsing at the government’s ministerial offices. Alex Davis, 20, is the daughter of Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis and was also a staffer of Arts Minister Ros Bates at the time of the incident. The spokeswoman for Premier Campbell Newman told AAP Alex Davis collapsed last Thursday at the Executive Building in Brisbane and was taken to hospital by ambulance. She was not arrested, as had been previously reported, but was charged with drug possession and served with a notice to appear in court. Police wouldn’t say what drugs were allegedly in her possession or reveal her court date. But the Seven Network reported that she is due in court on August 2. Alex Davis has since resigned as a staffer for Ms Bates.

New Zealand: New regulatory regime for psychoactive substances


A new regulatory regime for ‘legal highs’ has been announced in New Zealand. Current legislation has proved ineffective in dealing with the rapid growth in new psychoactive substances, such as party pills and other legal highs, which can be synthesised to be one step ahead of existing controls.  Cabinet has agreed to new legislation to address this by prohibiting the sale of all psychoactive substances unless approved by a regulator.  The new legislation will reduce risks to the public by removing untested and potentially harmful products from being sold and introducing a pre-market approval scheme with testing requirements and retail restrictions for low-risk psychoactive substances.

USA: Meet Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein


Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for President of the United States, has a very clear concept of the mainstream roadblock to marijuana legalization. “We consider marijuana a substance which is dangerous because it is illegal,” she told Toke of the Town in an exclusive interview Friday morning. “But it is, in fact, not dangerous; it is far less a health concern than perfectly legal substances such as tobacco and alcohol.” When Stein says so, it perhaps carries a little more weight than if your average politician said it; besides being a mother and a housewife, this 1979 Harvard graduate is a medical doctor. And she believes that marijuana prohibition is a really bad idea. “We think making marijuana illegal increases the public health threat because it forces people to associate with the underground illegal drug culture,” Stein told us. “We are committed to using science in the scheduling of marijuana and hemp, and it’s quite clear that if science is brought to bear on this — it’s supposed to be about health and addiction — marijuana and hemp would not be scheduled substances. We would move quickly to order the DEA to de-schedule marijuana.”

USA: Federal crackdown targets Oakland marijuana


OAKLAND – The Harborside Health Center reveled in its boast of being the world’s largest pot dispensary. It was featured in a hit reality series on the Discovery Channel last year. And it has been one of the largest taxpayers in Oakland, a city that turned to tax revenue from medical pot sales for fiscal relief. Now the Harborside Health Center is the latest, biggest target of federal authorities’ 10-month-long crackdown on California’s once-burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

UK: Softer drug laws don’t lead to more users


Decriminalizing drugs would not lead to an increase in users, a report has claimed.  The study – which looks at countries that have already softened drug laws – comes in the same week Justice Secretary Ken Clarke warned Britain is “plainly losing” the war on narcotic use.  In it, places like Portugal and the Netherlands – who already have lighter drug laws than the UK – are claimed not to have seen any significant increase in users or addicts. 

Colombia: The US Has Destroyed the Lives of Millions of Innocent Farmers


What the U.S. government is doing in Colombia has not slowed drug trafficking, but rather, created millions more victims through fumigation and displacement. The United States’ War on Drugs, launched under former President Nixon in the 1970s, seeped into Colombia during the 1980s. A full-scale military strategy, Plan Colombia, was drafted under President Clinton and implemented in 2001 by President Bush. Plan Colombia was an aggressive campaign against drug suppliers that called for the eradication of the coca plant through aerial fumigation (spraying herbicide from planes) and manual eradication (pulling the plant up by the roots). Since the Plan was initiated, the United States (working with Colombian anti-trafficking police) has sent planes laden with glysophate herbicide to spray on small farms, indigenous reserves, and national parks where coca is grown. Colombian farmers report that when the concentrated substance rains down, it kills not only coca, but everything else it touches. Subsistence crops such as rice, corn and potatoes wither, rivers are laced with poison, wild animals and livestock die, children sicken, and chemical rashes spread over the skin of anyone in the path of the planes. The farmers, stripped of their homes and livelihood, burdened with sickness and chemical burns, flee to the cities where slums spring up as people fight over scarce resources amidst 12-20% unemployment.

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