Embassy Headlines, Issue 47

While the findings of the committee do represent a step forward, it’s a tiny step along a very long path that inevitably must be traversed. The vast majority of people who are currently self-medicating illegally will continue to be labelled criminals until they are considered worthy of treatment lawfully.

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 47

NSW: Cannabis approved for medical use

The NSW government has been urged to adopt the recommended legalisation of medical cannabis for people with terminal illness and AIDS, but campaigners say it should go further as many currently self-medicating illegally with the drug will continue to be labelled as criminals. Yesterday’s unanimous recommendation by a parliamentary committee, which if adopted will allow patients to use up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or its equivalent in cannabis products, has been hailed as a small but essential step forward. But drug law reform campaigners say the limited group now recommended for legal access to medicinal cannabis use should be expanded further to a much larger body of sufferers of potentially terminal diseases now using the drug.

Cannabis treatment for pain wins NSW MPs’ approval

A NSW parliamentary committee has recommended the medical use of cannabis for people with terminal illness and AIDS. If adopted by the government, the measure will allow patients to use up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or its equivalent in cannabis products. Committee chairwoman Sarah Mitchell, a Nationals MP, said the committee had unanimously supported the use of cannabis-based products or prescription use after considering scientific evidence that cannabis has particular value in the treatment of pain.

Australia: NOW is the TIME to re-legalise Cannabis

It is time to put your hand up or put your hand in your pocket. The HEMP Party has to raise at least $16,000 just to be able to post the bond for our candidates. We are asking YOU to donate as much money and time as YOU possibly can to help us run an Australia wide campaign to re-legalise Cannabis. HEMP is a grassroots political movement that is wholly dependent on donations. We ask for no membership fees and have no corporate or ‘big money’ backers. The HEMP Party exists entirely on the accumulated small donations provided by members and supporters. We will be fielding two candidates in each state with a registered branch. There is a branch near you or there soon will be. Get involved and help us change the obscene Cannabis laws in Australia. 

How to make a difference.

Donate. Click here to make an online donation. All donations are tax deductible.

Register new members. Click here to assist new members in registering to join the HEMP Party of Australia.

TAS: Split on cannabis legal bid

The state’s peak drug council says decriminalising cannabis would reduce harm caused to the community by drug use. However, the Health Department’s head of drug and alcohol services warned that while decriminalisation of cannabis might bring some benefits, it could also create new problems. The stand-off coincides with the Australian Drug Trends 2012 report by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre showing 61 per cent of Tasmanian cannabis users reported daily use, the highest in Australia.

Qld: Man avoids jail over cannabis crop

A 38-year-old Bundaberg man has been given a suspended jail sentence for growing more than 140 cannabis plants. His defence said he used the cannabis to relieve neck pain after a football injury. In sentencing, Judge Gary Long accepted the plants had been for personal use.

Colorado Legislature gives final approval to historic marijuana bills

The Colorado legislature made history Wednesday, becoming the first in the country to pass laws regulating recreational marijuana sales and use. But lawmakers arrived at the historic moment more with trepidation than with enthusiasm about the future in a state where anyone over 21 will soon be able to buy marijuana in special retail stores. “This is a true game-changer for our state,” Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, said in raising concerns about the impact of marijuana legalization on kids. “And so I think it is important that we do our best to implement the right regulatory environment and fund it.

US Congress Forms “Over-Criminalization” Task Force

This proposed review of federal criminal laws is the first since the 1980s, when the number of federal crimes on the books was about half what it is now. The task force will conduct hearings and investigate issues around over-criminalization and will have the opportunity to issue reports to the Justice Committee on its findings and policy recommendations.  Among possible topics for the task force are federal drug laws and sentences in general and federal marijuana prohibition in particular. The group could also explore the issue of mens rea, or criminal intent, particularly in relation to the expansion of the use of conspiracy laws since the late 1980s. The use of those laws has led to low-level offenders, including some who were not even part of a drug trafficking enterprise, being sentenced to years or decades in federal prison—sentences that were supposed to be reserved for high-level offenders.

Obama and Marijuana: Then and Now

If you read “Dreams from My Father,” then you know that Obama liked not only the drug’s psychoactive effects but also what might be called its democratizing qualities:

I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference if you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room with some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school…. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection. And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.

Marijuana: High Times will likely sue if treat-pot-mags-like-porn provision goes forward

Last week, in a post about some of the more unusual aspects of the main bill to regulate Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of cannabis, we highlighted a passage that would require marijuana magazines to be kept behind the counter of general retail outlets, much like porn publications. This morning, we reached out to High Times, arguably the planet’s most prominent marijuana magazine — and we’re told that if this section becomes law, the state should expect a lawsuit.

USA: Vermont Legislature Passes Decriminalization Bill!

State lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a measure that will decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill will now be transmitted to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law in coming weeks, at which time Vermont will become the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

UK MS sufferer: ‘I’ll smoke cannabis despite jail threat’

Susan Lunn, 43, has been handed a six-month conditional discharge for possessing the illegal drug. She says she uses cannabis as medical relief from her condition, which sees her battle muscle spasms, headaches, bladder problems and tremors on a daily basis.

David Simon, creator of TV’s “The Wire”: ‘I don’t want anybody in jail for using drugs’

The picture painted in The Wire and The House I Live In is bleak, and people don’t like to look at bleak pictures. How can America turn and face this huge problem?

It won’t happen from leadership. There are two things politicians in my country pay attention to. One is money and the other is votes, and the two are inextricably linked in many respects. For a long time the inner city hasn’t voted. In the inner city you have an incredibly disenfranchised American population that understands the burden of the drug war. One of the fundamental ways in which they’ve disconnected is that if you’re convicted of a felony you lose your right to vote for ever. So this is an agenda that has no immediate gain for a politician. That’s why jury nullification and a refusal to co-operate with drug prohibition is going to be a grass roots movement.

UK Home Office tour to study drug policies in 10 countries

Review to include Portugal’s limited decriminalisation, Denmark’s ‘fixing rooms’ and Sweden’s zero-tolerance approach.

Marijuana: Canada’s government is tuned out

“This is the challenge in Canada:  Our federal government is pretty clear that there will be no revising drug laws in the direction of a health or prevention strategy,” said David Eby, former director of the B.,C. Civil Liberties Assn., who is running for the New Democrats against Clark in her riding (district) for the B.C. Legislature. “The province is in a position of building prisons for persons arrested under federal drug laws,” Eby added. 

Pressure Mounts in Argentina’s Courts and Streets to Legalize Cannabis for Personal Use

A large cloud of smoke rose to the sky Saturday in front of Argentinas Congress building in Buenos Aires, the nations capital. Thousands of arms and shouts of Legalization! Legalization! pierced the air as activists at the Global Marijuana March urged legislators to change Argentinas narcotics law to legalize the cultivation of cannabis and possession of marijuana for personal use. The march drew about 100,000 people almost double the number of participants than last year according to the events website. The Coalici?n Latinoamericana de Activistas Cann?bicos, which comprises various cannabis activism groups in Latin America, organized the march.

HEMP Party on Medical Cannabis Report

The HEMP Party of Australia is grateful and cautiously optimistic about the release of the Final Report of the NSW upper house inquiry into medicinal cannabis use. “Of course we are disappointed that the committee seeks to allow access to such a limited group of patients, but it’s a start and we have no doubt that in three years time when this initiative is reviewed it will be all positive,’ said President Michael Balderstone.


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