Embassy Headlines, Issue 51

There’s a long list of role models who like marijuana. From Bing Crosby to Justin Bieber, President Obama, Olympic Champion Michael Phelps and superstars Lady Gaga and Whoopi Goldberg.

As weed acceptance grows in the US where it’s recommended for “writer’s block” and to relieve PTSD, we can expect to see plenty more celebrities choosing to puff.

Try to tell your children about how marijuana is a recognised gateway drug for the entertainment industry, sporting elite and politicians but causes serious problems for average people.

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 51

NSW top cop happy with drug statistics [The Australian]

The NSW police commissioner is happy with a huge spike in the number of people caught with drugs, saying it’s the result of better policing rather than increased use. Figures released on Wednesday by the Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) show ecstasy use and possession climbed by 77.5 per cent across NSW and cocaine use and possession was up by 43.5 per cent. A spike of 30.7 per cent was recorded in the use and possession of amphetamines, while those caught using or possessing other drugs increased by 17.6 per cent. BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said it was difficult to tell whether the growth in drug arrests reflects increased illegal drug use, increased drug law enforcement, or a combination of the two. But Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the BOCSAR statistics, which show arrest figures rather than offence totals, reflect increased police activity.

Activists say no-pium to Google, Facebook ‘censorship’ [Crikey]

An upstart political party has taken aim at Google for banning it from using its logo or the word “opium” in its online ads, while another activist group is fighting with Facebook over claims of censorship.

‘Legal high’ shops mull $200m campaign [SMH]

Synthetic drug sellers have offered to foot a $200 million bill to test the legality of their products in a bid to keep selling them to Australians. Following the death of north shore student Henry Kwan, who jumped off a third-floor balcony on Wednesday after taking a synthetic LSD tablet, the association representing sellers of so-called ”legal highs” will launch a major offensive against proposed new laws to ban synthetic drugs. Eros, the national adult retail and entertainment association, will distribute hologram stickers to mark packets of drugs that have been scientifically tested, implement an industry-wide ”code of practice” for selling synthetic drugs and mount a legal challenge to proposed legislative changes that make it harder to sell the drugs.

Interim bans on synthetic drugs [NSW Govt Fair Trading]

The NSW Government today announced an interim product safety ban on a range of synthetic drugs, including cannabinoids and bath salts under Section 109 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts said the bans, which apply for up to 90 days, apply to the sale and supply of named synthetic drugs that could cause serious injury and risk to consumers.

Angry Seal hits out after Joel Madden kicked out of Sydney hotel [SMH]

Seal has launched a stinging attack on Sydney’s The Star casino and Australia’s media, vowing to leave the country after police allegedly discovered a small quantity of cannabis in the hotel room of his The Voice co-star Joel Madden.

The 40-Year-Old Pot Virgin [Vice]

Jamen Shively only started smoking herb a-year-and a-half ago, but he’s been making up for lost time ever since. Now an aspiring marijuana mogul, as well as a dedicated cannabis connoisseur, the 45-year-old former Microsoft executive even credits the very conception of his latest high-profile start-up venture to the enlightening influence of some top grade ganja. Specifically, a powerful sativa strain he broke out at an exploratory business meeting last November, just days after Washington state voters overwhelmingly approved pot legalization. An evangelical admirer of the business book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Shively firmly believes it’s better to be first to mind, than first to market. So before legalization even had a chance to take root, he began telling the press he was creating America’s seminal national marijuana brand, and that his fledgling new enterprise would soon employ 10,000 people, while “minting more millionaires than Microsoft.” “It actually becomes a virtuous cycle. The more outrageous claims I make—true claims—the more mindshare I get, and the bigger platform I have to discuss my plans. After all, what weed company is everybody talking about these days? The one run by an ex-Microsoft crackpot whose making all these outrageous claims.”

Pot magazine lawsuit continues in Colorado [SF Gate]

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch pointed out that it’s “a bit incongruous” for Colorado to allow marijuana magazines such as High Times to be sold without restriction while pot was illegal, but force them off bookshelves now that Colorado has voted to flout federal drug law and declare marijuana legal for recreational use.

Group calls criminal penalties for drug use a human rights violation [Washington Post]

On the eve of a major conference on drug problems in the Western Hemisphere, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that jailing people for personal drug use constitutes a human rights violation and called for abolishing criminal penalties. “To deter harmful drug use, governments should rely instead on non-penal regulatory and public health policies,” the organization said in a statement released at a news conference in Guatemala, where the annual general assembly of the Organization of American States this week will focus on the drug policies of member governments. “Subjecting people to criminal sanctions for the personal use of drugs, or for possession of drugs for personal use, infringes on their autonomy and right to privacy.” 

Four new ways to deal with the problem of drugs in the Americas [Guardian]

The time has come to discuss new approaches to dealing with the problems of drugs in the Americas. After four decades of a hard-fought “war on drugs” the situation remains – in spite of progress in some areas – terribly and frustratingly stuck, with continued high levels of addiction, incarceration, and violence. When Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and his fellow presidents and prime ministers met in April 2012 at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, this frustration motivated them to mandate the Organisation of American States (OAS) to “explore new approaches” for addressing these problems.

Richard Branson says decriminalising drugs would not lose votes [Guardian]

Sir Richard Branson has called on politicians to “be braver” on drugs policy, saying they are wrong to believe decriminalisation would be a vote-loser. Speaking on the eve of a major international drugs conference, Branson said that, if politicians acted on what they really believed rather than following a Daily Mail agenda, they could reduce a “ballooning” prison population exacerbated by excessive numbers of convictions for low-level drugs offences. Branson, who is to give a video address at the opening of theInternational Harm Reduction Conference (IHRC) in Vilnius on Sunday , said recent comments from Latin American leaders that the “war on drugs” had failed marked a “sea change” among politicians in that region and should spur those in the UK and elsewhere into action.

The fastest men alive stay a step ahead of pot controversy [Toke of the Town]

The fastest men to ever don sneakers or a Speedo, both enjoying marijuana in the prime of their record-breaking athletic careers – how are parents supposed to scare the shit out of their kids now? As more and more world-class athletes admit to, or are caught smoking weed, the question that keeps being raised is, “Who cares?” Straight-edge officials are now trying to paint cannabis as some sort of performance enhancing drug, hoping to lump it in with heavily banned steroids and amphetamine-based supplements.


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