Embassy Headlines, Issue 50

It’s not acceptable to criminalise people for simply trying to achieve pain relief and quality of life, through the legal conventional ways or otherwise. The recognition of Cannabis as a medical right has now raised the need for trials and research so Cannabis based medications can be developed and produced safely, cheaply and legally to be made readily available.

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 50 

Medical cannabis advocate Tony Bower released after appeal [Northern Star]

Medical cannabis advocate Tony Bower is out of jail after serving only six weeks of a 12-month sentence after an appeal was upheld in the NSW District Court yesterday. Mr Bower was charged with possession of about 200 cannabis plants he was growing to produce a cannabis tincture. He distributes the tincture free of charge to people with a wide range of chronic medical conditions.

The People’s Question – The Senate [Our Say]

Let’s talk about drugs, in the Senate! OurSay has teamed up with VICE Magazine to bring back The People’s Question and this time we’re going to the Senate. The Upper House is supposed to hold government to account, to ask the tough questions on the big issues, but we reckon you should have a go as well. In the pre-election buzz, we want to hear your view on a topic politicians often avoid: drugs. It’s an issue that effects all Australian communities. What’s the big question that needs to be asked?

Clearing the haze around cannabis [JCNN]

The Newman Government has recently amended the Drug Misuse Act in Queensland to include all substances “intended to have the same pharmacological effect as a scheduled drug.” While the legislation is intended to stem the use of synthetic cannabis, the feeble explanation provided as to what is illegal and what is not, may in fact be interpreted to include a range of widespread chemicals such as tyrosine, found in cheese, and caffeine, whose effects may be compared to amphetamines. Sex shops and tobacconists across Townsville, for the past three years, have been inundated with customers ranging from the elderly seeking pain relief, to defence force personnel and mining contractors looking for a legal alternative to cannabis.

Barry O’Farrell’s bid to ban a rash of ‘legal’ drugs [Sunday Telegraph]

The NSW state government will seek permanent bans on synthetic drugs in a statewide blitz on the so-called “legal highs”. The Sunday Telegraph can reveal Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts is moving to outlaw the lethal substances, which provide similar effects to drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Fair Trading officers late last week targeted outlets in Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Newcastle selling a range of manufactured products known as Smokin’ Slurry, Slappa, Venom, Black Widow and Kronic.

Marijuana Legalization: First Bills In US History To Establish A Legal, Regulated Pot Market For Adults [Huffington Post]

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the first bills in history to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults and initiate the development of a regulatory framework for the cultivation, distribution, and processing of industrial hemp. The four measures were approved by the General Assembly earlier this month in accordance with Amendment 64, a ballot measure approved by 55% of Colorado voters last November.

Did Getting Arrested Change US Lawmaker’s Position? [MPP Blog]

On Wednesday, in an unofficial 80-59 vote, the New York Assembly passed legislation to reduce the penalty for publicly holding a small amount of marijuana. Only one Republican assembly member voted in favor of the bill: Steve Katz. Originally a staunch prohibitionist, Katz voted against allowing medical marijuana in 2012, but a brush with the law this past March seems to have brought about a change of heart.

Medical Marijuana Patient Jerry Duval’s Prison Term Could Cost US Taxpayers More Than $1.2 Million [Huffington Post]

American taxpayers could spend upwards of $1.2 million over the next decade imprisoning Jerry Duval, a Michigan medical marijuana patient who was convicted of distributing the drug. Duval has a kidney and pancreas transplant, as well as glaucoma and neuropathy. His family grew marijuana on his Michigan farm in part to treat his ailments. But when the Department of Justice prosecuted him in federal court, Duval was barred from presenting evidence of his compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Marijuana [Time]

For nearly a century, the United States has been one of the fiercest advocates and practitioners of marijuana prohibition in the world. At the height of the America’s anti-pot fervor in the 1950s and ’60s, one could even receive life imprisonment for simple possession of the drug. But the puritanical fervor that once dominated the national discussion surrounding cannabis has been conspicuously absent of late.

US University study to examine effects of medical marijuana [Michigan Daily]

The use of medical marijuana as a pain reliever has long been of high interest to activists, scientists and policymakers. Appealing to these interests, a new study at the University will work to determine the exact benefits medical marijuana may offer to those who suffer from various medical afflictions. Michigan, which legalized medical marijuana in 2008, has 135,267 patients registered to buy and use the drug, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The state is one of the 18, along with Washington D.C., to have legalized medical marijuana. Researchers plan to identify 800 participants by approaching new patients who have already made the decision to become a registered medical marijuana user in Michigan. 

US Mayor Takes a Strong Stand Against the ‘Hoax’ of Medical Marijuana [Atlantic Wire]

Michael Bloomberg, NYC mayor, revealed in a radio interview today that his understanding of how marijuana works could be considered as baffling as his administration’s approach to marijuana-related crimes. Except that his weird justifications might explain the bad policies.

Marijuana worries U.S. Army planners [Pueblo Chieftan]

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana could impact future growth plans at Fort Carson, base and economic development officials say. Terrance McWilliams, director of military and veterans affairs for El Pomar Foundation, said the state’s legalized marijuana laws could hurt Colorado when it comes to retaining troops. Military leaders fear easy access to the drug could lead to more troops in trouble because marijuana remains illegal under military and federal law.

Howard Marks: ‘Prison isn’t very high on the list of life tragedies’ [Guardian]

From physicist to drug smuggler to crime writer, Howard Marks has had more careers than most – with his beloved spliffs beside him all the way. And, he says, he doesn’t regret a minute of it.

Rise in legal highs is fuelled by drug prohibition [Guardian]

Stand-ins for drugs such as MDMA and cannabis are on the rise, while lack of quality control of all street drugs puts users at risk.

2013 European drug report

The Trends and developments report presents a top-level overview of the drug phenomenon in Europe, covering drug supply, use and public health problems as well as drug policy and responses. Together with the online Statistical bulletin, Country overviews and Perspectives on drugs, it makes up the 2013 European Drug Report package.

Doctors prescribing marijuana in Israel to double [Jerusalem Post]

The number of physicians allowed to prescribe medical marijuana will be raised from nine to 20 by the end of this year, Likud MK Haim Katz said on Monday. Katz, who chairs the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee, said during a raucaus session that a subcomittee will be formed to discuss patients groups’ demands to receive medical cannabis more easily to relieve pain and other side effects of serious illness. Cannabis is used by sufferers of chronic ailments, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder to combat pain, insomnia, lack of appetite and other symptoms.

Cannabis culture thriving in Morocco’s Rif Mountains [Middle East Online]

“If you try to grow other crops here they will fail,” says Ahmed, surrounded by lush green fields of cannabis, the illegal plant he and thousands of other poor farmers in Morocco’s Rif Mountains depend on. The country’s most notorious export has been cultivated in the traditionally rebellious northern region for centuries, where the climate for growing cannabis, or “kif”, is considered ideal above an altitude of about 1,200 metres.

France crowned as Europe’s leading cannabis consumer [Riviera]

France has emerged as Europe’s biggest fans of cannabis, according to a report by French drugs watchdog OFDT. Cocaine is also becoming increasingly popular in the Republic, while cigarettes continue to be a national pastime despite rising prices and indoor smoking bans. The OFDT has pointed to the French youth as the biggest concern, with nearly a quarter of 16-year-olds claiming to light up on a daily basis.

Playable glass guitar bong [Hail Mary Jane]

According to the Hail Mary Jane website, this handmade glass guitar bong (or is it a bowl?) is fully-functional as a musical instrument. It sure looks like a bitch to clean.

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