Embassy Headlines, Issue 57

The World Anti-Doping Agency recently amended its rules on cannabis, raising the threshold for a positive test from 15 to 150 ng/ml.

An athlete would have to be a pretty dedicated cannabis consumer to test positive. The anti-inflammatory qualities associated with cannabinoids could provide some athletes an unfair advantage.

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 57

Rules change on Olympic marijuana testing [USA Today]

In May, the organization that regulates the Olympics – the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) – made headlines when it ruled to increase the threshold of permissible marijuana in an athlete’s system from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml. The WADA based their decision on a few key factors, including changes in state marijuana laws, increasing public support for legalization, and the willingness of outed Olympians who were stripped of their medals or disqualified from competition (such as Michael Phelps, Nicholas Delpopolo, and Ross Rebagliati) to talk openly about their personal use. The goal of the new rules is to catch marijuana users who are competing under the influence, rather than those who smoked days or weeks earlier. In other words, the WADA is now treating marijuana like alcohol.


Marihuana Weirdo Remembrance Day [Dr Jiggens Blog]

The 10th August 2013 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Brisbane’s first marijuana arrest, the marihuana weirdo raid, which was announced in a lurid story, “Marihuana seized by police in swoop on weirdos”, which was the front page story on 10th August 1963 for Brisbane’s Sunday Truth. As a cannabis historian, I am calling for a rally to commemorate this event, and to acknowledge 50 years of drugs policy failure. The marihuana weirdo raid marked the beginning of fifty years of marihuana persecutions, police corruption and the misuse of the drug laws. It is something to condemn but also to acknowledge and commemorate.


Pot-smoker’s dream up in smoke [The Age]

”How did this all happen? So what if I smoke marijuana?” Mr Moloney said.


Media coverage induced ‘kronic’ policy reaction [Science Network WA]

An analysis of media reporting on the emergence of the synthetic cannabis ‘Kronic’ in Australia, has concluded that it generated ‘moral panic’ which led to reactive legislative changes that were ineffective, creating further drug-related harm. Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the study, led by coordinator of Addiction Studies at Curtin University Stephen Bright, analysed the relationship between media reports on Kronic and subsequent legislative responses.


Legal drug hardest of all to kick, US study finds [SMH]

The synthetic drug ”bath salts” is more addictive than any other drug, including methamphetamine, a landmark US study has found. Use of the so-called legal high has skyrocketed in NSW in recent years, causing at least one death and prompting a state government inquiry and a raft of retail bans. But information on bath salts, which mimics the high of cocaine, is limited and much of the public and political focus has been on synthetic cannabis.


USA Introduces Bill to Combat Dangerous Synthetic Drugs [Feinstein Press Release]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today introduced the Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act of 2013 to combat synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances and circumvent existing federal drug laws. These so-called controlled substance analogues are currently unregulated.


The Horrors Unleashed by US Police Militarization [Alternet]

In the War on Drugs, SWAT teams burst through doors armed to the teeth, terrifying (and killing) children. How did the USA get here?


Rise of the Warrior Cop [Wall Street Journal]

Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.


Medical Marijuana Achieves ‘Complete Remission’ Of Crohn’s Disease [Medical Daily]

Crohn’s disease, one of several inflammatory bowel diseases, achieved “complete remission” in nearly half the subjects of one study that were exposed to smoking medical marijuana on a regular basis. Published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the study examined the effects of consistent marijuana use on Crohn’s patients who suffered from severe cases of the disease. The results of the 21-subject study point toward the drug’s anti-inflammatory properties as being responsible for quieting symptoms in many patients, and even reaching total remission in others.


New Hemp Beer Highlights Growing Interest in Cannabis Market [Medical Marijuana Business Daily]

One of the most well-known breweries in Washington State – Redhook – has teamed up with another local brewer to release a beer made with hemp seeds. The brew – called Joint Effort Hemp Ale – is now available at bars across the state on draught, complete with a tap handle shaped like a giant yellow bong. Joint Effort will also be released in 22-ounce bottles this fall.


The Politics of Cannabis Psychosis [Huffington Post]

We need to ask ourselves: does the risk of cannabis related psychosis give us enough reason to arrest and punish by law? Professor David Nutt goes on to say in his book: a prisoner is 10 times more likely than the general population to commit suicide, and around 40% of men and 60% of women will have some form of neurotic disorder. It’s quite apparent that our drug laws are not making much sense, and they certainly don’t correspond to the nuanced subject of mental health. Our drug laws are designed to protect society from potential harms but are actually predicating just as many by placing them under the control of law enforcement and punishment. The debate needs to be had on how best to minimise all harms of all drugs. If the law and socio-economic factors are playing a part in those harms, then we need to appropriately address and reform as we’re mandated to do. What we don’t need is a bolstering of political rhetoric; we must allow the evidence to lead our policy makers.


For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch [Open Society Foundations]

Why has the Netherlands—a country sometimes viewed as having a permissive approach to drugs—had better results than so many governments with much more strict policies? A new report by the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program shows how the Netherlands maintained low rates of HIV among people who use drugs and comparatively low cannabis use among young people, all while avoiding the enforcement-heavy measures of its neighbors.


80% of Swiss Inmates Consume Cannabis [Joint Blog]

new study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy has found that as many as 80% of inmates in Swiss prisons consume cannabis, something that prison staff is fully aware of, with most feeling that it has a positive effect on the overall prison environment.


Mexico could legalize marijuana in five years [Reuters]

Mexico could legalize marijuana within the next five years, stripping brutal drug cartels of a major source of income, former President Vicente Fox said on Friday. Fox, who battled the powerful cartels while president between 2000 and 2006, has since become a staunch advocate of reforming Mexico’s drug laws, arguing that prohibition has helped create the criminal market that sustains the gangs.


Seeds Planted by Pro-Pot Activists Sprout Across German City [Headlines & Global News]

A group of pro-pot activists from the German university town of Gottingen found a unique way to protest against the new law that restricts the cultivation of marijuana plants, even ones with low levels of the psychoactive agent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The group planted several pounds of marijuana seeds across the city last month, which are now sprouting up everywhere.


The Mysterious History Of ‘Marijuana’ [NPR]

Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always use the plant’s formal name, cannabis. Numerous accounts say that “marijuana” came into popular usage in the U.S. in the early 20th century because anti-cannabis factions wanted to underscore the drug’s “Mexican-ness.” It was meant to play off of anti-immigrant sentiments.


Uses and Abuses of Plant-Derived Smoke [Oxford University Press]

Plants provide the food, shelter, medicines, and biomass that underlie sustainable life. One of the earliest and often overlooked uses of plants is the production of smoke, dating to the time of early hominid species. Plant-derived smoke has had an enormous socio-economic impact throughout human history, being burned for medicinal and recreational purposes, magico-religious ceremonies, pest control, food preservation, and flavoring, perfumes, and incense.


HEMP Party sets itself an ambitious membership goal [Northern Star]

The national campaign director of the HEMP Party is trying to attract more members than the federal ALP by the time the election is held. The HEMP Party has about 4000 members compared with the ALP’s 40,000 but Mr Moylan is confident of reaching the target. “We’re getting 50-150 new members a week online. There’s a constant stream. Our online reach is getting up to 60,000 people, which is bigger than any of the other small parties and nearly as big as the big parties,” Mr Moylan said.

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