Embassy Headlines, Issue 56

In an ideal world, Prof Room said teens would not smoke marijuana or drink alcohol to excess. But if an 18-year-old was going to use substances, he said they would likely land themselves in less trouble after using cannabis rather than alcohol.

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 56 

Expert calls for marijuana to be legalised to reduce harm of binge drinking in teens [Herald Sun]

THE head of Australia’s leading alcohol research body has called for marijuana to be legalised to reduce the harm of drinking. Robin Room, director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, says marijuana should be legalised under strict controls because the social harm associated with it was significantly less than from drinking.

A Drug Question Finally got Asked in Parliament [Vice]

A month or so ago, we partnered with OurSay (the social enterprise working at revitalising democratic engagement) to crowd source a question on drugs and get it asked in parliament. On Tuesday, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale put the People’s Question to the government. The winning question, posted by Steve McDonald, garnered 1,532 votes in the month the forum was open. His question asked why the use of drugs scientifically proven to be less harmful to users and society than alcohol, such as MDMA and LSD, is still criminal when the cost of law enforcement is so high.

Social Supply of Cannabis [Australian Survey]

There are a number of ways of getting access to cannabis for recreational use including supply through everyday social activities and networks. Many people accessing cannabis are often otherwise law-abiding and not involved with organised drug dealers or drug dealing with its associated risks. This study aims to provide a detailed account of the ways in which young adults (aged 18-30 years old) gain access to cannabis. In doing so the project will explore the impact of supply routes on different aspects of young people’s lives, including access to other drugs, contact with the police, schooling and relationships with families and friends.

11th Dangerous Consumptions Colloquium [Uni of Western Sydney]

The Dangerous Consumptions Colloquium is a forum drawing on research on the myriad forms of contemporary consumption. In past years presentations have explored alcohol, illicit drugs, gambling, sex, food, blood, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, public health policy, celebrity magazines and pleasure from a social research perspective. Presentations on these or other forms of ‘dangerous consumption’ are welcome. 

Hooray for healthy drug law [NZ Drug Foundation]

The passing of world leading legislation on new psychoactive substances takes New Zealand a big step closer to healthy drug law, the New Zealand Drug Foundation said today. “The Psychoactive Substances Act is a world first at getting ahead of the ‘legal highs’ industry and taking control of the problems these substances cause,” New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell said. The law, which passed its final reading in Parliament today, sets up a regulatory framework where manufacturers of products like synthetic cannabis will have to prove they are ‘low risk’ before the can be sold. It also imposes restrictions on who can make and sell the substances as well as measures to reduce availability.

Cannabis May Prevent Organ Transplants From Being Rejected [JointBlog]

new study published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology has found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – one of the prime compounds in cannabis – can potentially stop organ transplant rejections from taking place.

Turns Out The DEA Was Wrong All Along [WeedBlog]

Despite all the statements by the DEA over the years denying the medical benefits of cannabis, a government sponsored study at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis concluded marijuana has legitimate medicinal benefits, including relief from chronic pain.The study also found that reclassification is needed immediately to open the way for more clinical trials. The study was published in July 2012 in The Open Neurology Journal.

Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana [Rolling Stone]

Most people don’t think “cops” when they think about who supports marijuana legalization. Police are, after all, the ones cuffing stoners, and law enforcement groups have a long history of lobbying against marijuana policy reform. Many see this as a major factor in preventing the federal government from recognizing that a historic majority of Americans – 52 percent –  favors legalizing weed.

Legislation introduced to provide banking to marijuana businesses [Denver Business Journal]

Colorado introduced legislation yesterday that would allow legal marijuana-related businesses to have access to traditional banking services. The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act aims to accomplish this by updating federal banking laws to account for discrepancies with state laws. Currently, financial institutions are barred from working with any organization that sells a controlled substance, regardless of whether the state it resides in permits marijuana sales. Banks that violate this law risk losing their deposit insurance or their federal charter. If the bill is enacted, medical marijuana dispensaries – and the businesses getting ready to open for recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington – will finally have access to bank accounts, credit cards, and loans. Under the current system, medical marijuana dispensaries are forced to operate on a cash-only basis.

Farm Bill Passes House, Hemp Amendment Stays Intact [MPP Blog]

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment in tact. The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.

Learning from the Netherlands [Time]

If you want to get stoned legally — at least under state law— in Washington or Colorado next year, you’ll have to do it at home. Amsterdam-style “coffee shops”— where the Dutch typically smoke weed— were banned by both states in their draft regulations released last week. But that doesn’t mean that the Dutch model, which separates marijuana from other illegal drugs, won’t still provide lessons for what these states can expect when their new laws on recreational toking take effect next year.

Medical Marijuana Laws Don’t Increase Adolescent Use [Youth Today]

Medical marijuana laws have no effect on the likelihood a young person will smoke pot, according to a new report. The study, published by the American Journal of Public Health and conducted by researchers at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine, culled data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) comparing the rates of marijuana use among young people living in Delaware, Michigan, Montana and Rhode Island. Researchers looked at whether exposure to medical marijuana laws increased a subject’s likelihood of engaging in marijuana use.

Drug smugglers set free for lack of money to prosecute [CBS News]

Texas Border Patrol is as busy as ever catching smugglers hauling drugs from Mexico. But many who are caught are now being given a free pass.

Identifying ‘Legal High’ Substances With Microcrystalline Test [Science World Report]

A testing method to identify substances in ‘legal highs’ devised by a research team from the University of Lincoln, UK, is being used in drug analysis laboratories across the world. The UK has the largest market for ‘legal highs’ in the European Union and with new substances constantly being identified, governments across the world are struggling to keep on top of regulation. The recent World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says new synthetic substances are constantly being spread via the internet.

Time to clear the air on cannabis [Irish Times]

The majority of users, according to a National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACD) report published this week, are male. Of those who have tried it in their lifetime, 35 per cent are from higher socioeconomic groups such as professionals, managers or civil servants. Of the general population, one in four 15- to 64-year-olds have tried cannabis in their lifetime, which is an increase of 3 per cent on the last survey conducted in 2006/07.

No More Death Penalty For Cannabis [Weed Blog]

It breaks my heart to know that there are people facing execution for cannabis. I can’t express in words how sad that makes me feel. Below is a petition trying to stop this from happening to a woman from Thailand. According to the New Strait Times, “A single mother from Thailand was sentenced to death by the High Court today for trafficking in 18,172gm of cannabis two years ago.” You can sign a petition by clicking here.

Can a Low Dose Go a Long Way? [Motherboard]

Less acid is maybe more. A lot more. That’s the allure of what’s known as the sub-perceptual dose. It’s an idea that has been gaining traction in certain pockets of the medical community, though it’s neither new nor validated by any formal research. As James Fadiman notes in The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (2011), sub-perceptual psychedelic dosings have for centuries been known about and utilized by indigenous cultures the world over. Fadiman would know. He’s been in the trenches of legitimate mind-altering research for over four decades, and with time has become a sort of champion of the micro dose. Nowadays, he’s tickled to find himself almost sober, if you could call it that, among the brain-blasted, self-important new gurus and high priests of what could be called a psychedelic renaissnace. Speaking at the 2013 Psychedelic Science conference in San Francisco, Fadiman did not mince words: “It’s wonderful to be conservative in this crowd.”

Scientists Think Cavemen Painted While High on Hallucinogenic Drugs [Gizmodo]

There’s something undeniably surreal about early cave paintings, something otherworldly or even psychedelic. And according to a team of international scientists, that’s because the cave painters were doing mind-bending drugs while painting them.

Khanyisa Psychoactive Plant Conference, South Africa

Khanyisa’s vision is to bring forth knowledge of psychoactive plant use across the continent of Africa by encouraging research and sharing cutting edge and innovative methods to use the plants, as practiced globally. This will assist us to understand the great healing potential locked within the plant kingdom, for all to experience and use in a safe and beneficial way.

Book Reviews: Cannabis Nation and Marijuanamerica [StoptheDrugWar]

You will want to read Cannabis Nation if you have a serious interest in the history, politics, and diplomacy of marijuana in England, and you’ll have fun doing so. You don’t need to be nearly as serious with Marijuanamerica, and you’ll most likely have more fun, especially hanging out with those shady pot outlaws and Nerz himself. But both would make nice additions to your drug literature bookshelf.


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