Embassy Headlines, Issue 46

Cannabis supporters are a persistent bunch. Years of oppression has hardened the resolve to change the law. Indignation motivates the quest for a rational approach to law reform with equitable drug policies based on evidence.

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 46

Cannabis law reform MardiGrass’s hot topic

Attended by at least 2000, the 21st Nimbin event featured all the usual suspects, from the dancing green-leaf clad Ganja Faeries to the inflatable Big Joint, followed by hundreds of pro-cannabis law reformers from all walks of life. This year the rally following the traditional parade was held in a natural amphitheatre behind the main street of Nimbin. Some rally veterans said the co-ordinated and civil proceedings this year were a good sign the event was “keeping pace” with a mainstream softening of attitudes towards cannabis use in the community. Nimbin HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone, declared to a thousand-strong crowd gathered at the rally that legalizing medical cannabis use was a “no brainer”. He pointed to a NSW Senate committee on medical cannabis use starting on May 17 as a potential next step in the legalization crusade.

Get smarter about illicit drugs to help balance the budget

A sudden reduction in corporate profits has blown a $12 billion hole in the Australian federal budget. This development should spark a debate within and outside government about how we deal with illicit drugs in this country because it’s one of the areas where we aren’t getting value for our money. In 2002-03 commonwealth, state and territorygovernments spent $3.2 billion preventing and responding to illicit drugs. Governments allocated 75% of this money to law enforcement (customs, police, courts and prisons), 10% to prevention, 7% to drug treatment, 5% to health care for drug users and 1% to harm reduction. The final 2% was spent on miscellaneous items. Taxpayers should consider what value we obtain from this not inconsiderable expenditure in response to illicit drugs.

How bad is drug consumption? Well, it depends on your class

This data visualisation is actually simpler than it first appears. Using data from Australia‘s National Drug Strategy Household Survey, the graphic shows responses to the question “Which substance do you most associate with a drug problem?”

The Cannabis Is Out of the Bag: Why prohibitionists have an interest in allowing marijuana legalization

This week the US Colorado General Assembly put the finishing touches on legislation aimed at taxing and regulating the commercial distribution of marijuana for recreational use. The process has been haunted by the fear that the federal government will try to quash this momentous experiment in pharmacological tolerance—a fear magnified by the Obama administration’s continuing silence on the subject. Six months after voters in Colorado and Washington made history by voting to legalize marijuana, Attorney General Eric Holder still has not said how the Justice Department plans to respond. But if the feds are smart, they will not just refrain from interfering; they will work together with state officials to minimize smuggling of newly legal marijuana to jurisdictions that continue to treat it as contraband. A federal crackdown can only make the situation worse—for prohibitionists as well as consumers.

Good Riddance: Fox Cancels Long-Running, Drug War-Glorifying, Abuse-Excusing Reality Series COPS

After a 25-year run valorizing America’s police forces to the thumping reggae pulse of Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys,” Fox has canceled its weekly reality TV series COPS. To which we should say: good riddance. Yes, the show is being picked up by all-things-manly cable network Spike TV, but critics of the increasing militarization of American police should celebrate nevertheless: the long-running series will no longer air its highly-selective take on “policing” to as large an audience as Fox’s Saturday night lineup.

California Supreme Court upholds pot dispensary bans

The California Supreme Court gave local governments the power Monday to zone medical marijuana dispensaries out of existence, a decision that upholds bans in about 200 cities but does little to solve Los Angeles’ years-long struggle to regulate hundreds of storefront pot outlets. The unanimous decision provided clarity for cities and counties that want to rid themselves of the dispensaries, which sprouted up statewide after a 1996 voter-approved measure that sought to authorize medical marijuana but lacked specifics in how it would be regulated.

President Obama and #DrugPolicyReform: A Leap in the Right Direction

On April 24th, the Obama Administration released its 2013 National Drug Control Strategy – and it contains some huge gains for harm reduction advocates. An annual document that outlines the vision for the Administration’s drug policy, this year’s strategy has replaced emotional “war on drugs” rhetoric with appeals to “evidence,” “science” and “public health.” The strategy includes unequivocal support for access to methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of addiction to heroin and other opioids, layperson access to the lifesaving medication naloxone, and a recommendation—complete with call to action—about lifting the federal ban on funding for syringe exchange services. These three key elements—treatment, overdose prevention and the benefits of needle/syringe programs—are reinforced throughout the document.

PTSD Treatment Special Delivery: CBD Giveaway to Veterans

As he prepared to distribute the first of 100,000 specialized cannabis seedlings in a limo once owned by Ferdinand Marcos, the last thing Denver’s Bill Althouse was worried about was money. This is important, since the debut of his “Free For All” cannabis delivery project, which he invited me to witness on a recent early spring afternoon, hinged on gratis distribution. “You’re in sync with (Colorado’s cannabis-legalizing) Amendment 64 if you give it away,” the 61-year-old engineer told me as, without fanfare, he launched what he considers to be a landmark project that is part humanitarian outreach and part viable scientific field research. No, Althouse is not one of the venture capitalists poised to profit from the end of the Drug War. His priorities are closer to those of sourdough starter. Only instead of bread, what he was delivering in his vegetable oil-powered limo this chilly day was a mother plant that had tested high in a non-psychoactive cannabinoid (component of the cannabis plant) known as cannabidiol, or CBD. Althouse recognized from personal experimentation that high-CBD cannabis strains have helped dramatically ease his own PTSD symptoms. So, with Colorado’s 2012 legalization of adult use of cannabis, Althouse relocated to the Rocky Mountain State because he’d come up with a plan to help other sufferers.

Medical Weed for Pets: A Lucrative New Frontier

With weed being decriminalized in numerous states across the USA, “man’s best friend” is not being left out of the movement. Veterinarian Doug Kramer has been investigating the beneficial effects of medical weed treatment for pets. On his website, Dr. Kramer has been collecting case studies in support of this type of treatment with predominately positive feedback.

In the Future, Your Drug Dealer Will Be a Printer

Scoring drugs is one of life’s great pains in the ass. But don’t worry, it won’t always be this way. Scientists are working on a solution. That solution is 3D printed drugs. Instead of having to go and get drugs from the scary outside world you’ll be able to print custom drugs adapted to whatever your needs are, right there at home, in your bedroom. Surrounded by empty takeaway containers and a cat that will be stoned forever because everyone knows that cats can’t release THC. And you won’t buy drugs either, you’ll download apps. These apps will give you access to the blueprints that will give you what you need. And you won’t even need to worry about the legality of drugs any more, because there won’t be any drug laws, because drugs will be so tailored it’ll be impossible for the state to keep up without resorting to selling them itself.

History in the Making? Dozens of States Move to Reform Pot Laws

In the wake of the marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington last November, and buoyed by a series of national public opinion polls showing support for pot legalization going over the tipping point, marijuana reform legislation is being introduced at state houses across the land at levels never seen before.

Medical Marijuana Legislation Advances in Hawaii

Two pieces of legislation that will make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program have passed the Hawaii Legislature. Both of these bills found their way out of their respective conference committees and were approved of with bipartisan support.

Who Will Get High Off the Marijuana Gold Rush?

This ambiguous US regulatory environment has cast a pall over businesses that operate directly within or even at the edge of the budding marijuana industry. Investors seem to agree that at some yet-to-be-determined point in the future the floodgates will open and legal marijuana will be a multibillion-dollar industry. But the road there is still uncertain. The industry as it exists today is plagued with dubious actors, net losses, and micro caps — all red flags to anyone but the most risk-hungry investors.

Legalizing Marijuana and Other Ways the U.S. and Mexico Can Win the Drug War

There was a lot of drug-war hand-wringing in the U.S. leading up to President Barack Obama’s visit to Mexico this week. That’s because Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is in change-the-conversation mode: he wants the world, especially Washington, to focus less on his country’s awful drug violence — some 60,000 narco-related murders in the past seven years, with little sign of abating — and more on its robust economic potential. The fear in some Washington circles is that Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which in its dictatorial 20th century heyday was every drug lord’s cuate, or best buddy, is putting the fight against Mexico’s vicious cartels on the back burner.

Sth Africa: Cape weed rally almost goes up in smoke

Despite almost facing a non-event due to a missing permit, an unruly Rastafarian faction and getting no signatures for their petition, organisers of the Global Cannabis March in Cape Town seemed happy. The march formed part of the Canna Fest and saw a procession of about 500 weed enthusiasts and activists march through a section of Cape Town to “celebrate global unity and support for the Cannabis plant’s re-integration into our society”.

 “Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control mans’ appetite through legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not even crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our Government was founded. ― Abraham Lincoln


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