Embassy Headlines, Issue 60

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on medical marijuana: We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.

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 60

Medical cannabis [WIN News]

Here is the story from WIN news Friday 9th August 2013. Sean 3 months seizure free, Tara 4 months seizure free.  Medical cannabis saves lives. Medical cannabis changes lives. Medical cannabis gives quality of life. We all need the right to choose.


Greens announce call for drugs summit and inquiry [The Greens]

Australian Greens health spokesperson and former drug and alcohol clinician, Senator Richard Di Natale, today announced the Greens’ call for a National Drugs Summit to chart a way forward on illicit drugs policy.


HEMP Party supports Greens drug summit [HEMP Party]

The HEMP Party of Australia fully supports the important and timely initiative announced today by the Greens calling for a Federal Drug Summit. “It’s a really smart way to address this particularly big elephant in the room,” says HEMP President Michael Balderstone. “The ‘war on drugs’ really has to be on the Election agenda and discussion about a ‘drug summit’ might be a way to achieve this without sparking the usual law and order auction. Who could possibly argue against the idea of getting all the experts together to consider how we are going to rectify the biggest social disaster of our time, which is prohibition?”


Campbell Newman’s Queensland Takes A Step Backward [Enpsychedelia]

On Wednesday night, August 7th 2013, the Queensland parliament under Campbell Newman’s Liberal-National Party passed a selection of amendments to Acts with this rhetorical ideal used for justification, “This is just another step this government is taking to ensure Queensland is the safest state in Australia to raise a child.” The amendments focus mostly on drugs and graffiti. The amendments to Queensland’s Drugs Misuse Act (1986) raise the penalties for all ‘supplying dangerous drugs‘ offences and state that someone convicted of a drug trafficking crime must serve at least 80% of their sentence. The purpose of the amendments was outlined in a media releaseissued that night by the Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie, which includes draconian new sentencing law for those caught with illicit substances.


Teen brothers jailed as part of crackdown on internet drug purchases [WA Today]

People planning to buy or sell drugs online undetected had better think again, WA Police have warned, after three people were convicted for buying drugs off notorious marketplace website, the Silk Road. Two brothers, aged 15 and 17 years old at the time of arrest, were jailed last month for buying drugs online as part of Operation Cinder, run by Esperance detectives and technology crime investigations last year. The pair were charged with 16 drug related offences, including possession of a prohibited drug with intent to sell/supply and attempt possession of drugs with intent to sell/supply after using the Silk Road website to buy drugs. The 17-year-old was sentenced to 12 months’ jail, while his 15 year-old brother was jailed for 8 months.


Holder goes after mandatory federal drug sentences [Excite News]

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major shift Monday in federal sentencing policies, targeting long mandatory terms that he said have flooded the nation’s prisons with low-level drug offenders and diverted crime-fighting dollars that could be far better spent. If Holder’s policies are implemented, they could mark one of the most significant changes in the way the federal criminal justice system handles drug cases since the 1980s. As a first step, Holder has instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. His next step will be working with a bipartisan group in Congress to give judges greater discretion in sentencing. 


Global drugs trade ‘as strong as ever’ as fight fails [CNBC]

The global drugs trade is evolving faster than authorities can cope with and as it spreads to new frontiers, the consensus on how to tackle global drugs trafficking, production and use is increasingly split. Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said that two major shifts had occurred in the drugs trade. Drug trade routes had shifted due to interdiction by certain authorities, while uncontrolled synthetic drugs that can be created in labs anywhere are on the rise.


DEA directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans[Reuters]

What’s more shocking than domestic NSA spying? DEA doing it to target common criminals — primarily drug dealers!


The NSA-DEA police state tango [Salon]

This week’s DEA bombshell shows us how the drug war and the terror war have poisoned the US justice system.


Groundwork Laid, Growers Turn to Hemp in Colorado [New York Times]

Along the plains of eastern Colorado, on a patch of soil where his father once raised alfalfa, Ryan Loflin is growing a leafy green challenge to the nation’s drug laws. His fields are sown with hemp, a tame cousin of marijuana that was once grown openly in the United States but is now outlawed as a controlled substance. Last year, as Colorado voters legalized marijuana for recreational use, they also approved a measure laying a path for farmers like Mr. Loflin, 40, to once again grow and harvest hemp, a potentially lucrative crop that can be processed into goods as diverse as cooking oil, clothing and building material. This spring, he became the first farmer in Colorado to publicly sow his fields with hemp seed.


13 American Players Who Succeeded In The NFL After Getting Busted For Marijuana [Business Insider Australia]

Tyrann Mathieu’s NFL draft stock plummeted after he got kicked off of LSU’s football team for multiple positive marijuana tests. Now, he’s reportedly dominating in training camp for the Arizona Cardinals. He’s just the latest reminder that giving up on talented players because of weed-related issues places NFL teams at a huge competitive disadvantage. Throughout the years some truly great players have gotten nabbed with weed, only to perform better than ever on the field.


What Legalizing Pot In Uruguay Means For the World [Time]

Uruguay’s bold move provides, significantly, a model for how to engage in debate over marijuana policy in a mature and responsible way.  When President Mujica first issued his proposal last June, he made clear that he welcomed vigorous debate over both its merits and the particulars.  International experts were invited from abroad for intensive discussions with people from all walks of civil society and government.  A range of specific proposals were considered, all with an eye toward transforming an illegal industry into a legal one to better protect public safety and health.  Political rhetoric and grandstanding permeated the debate, as would be expected in any vibrant democratic process, but substantive issues dominated.


Cannabis debate in Hong Kong not cut and dried [South China Morning Post]

Legalisation of marijuana, let alone decriminalisation, is not on the cards in Hong Kong, where possession and consumption is illegal. “A dangerous drug is a dangerous drug. We have a zero-tolerance policy,” says Commissioner for Narcotics Erika Hui Lam Yin-ming. Regardless, “Andrew”, a 25-year-old who works in the media industry, says: “For me, it’s like my Friday night beer. I prefer it so much more than drinking.” Andrew started smoking when he was 15. He says he doesn’t drink and is against using hard drugs. “Weed does a lot less harm than alcohol, is a lot less antisocial, and it’s healthier than going on a binge every Friday,” he says. It’s also easier on his wallet. “While you can spend HK$500 in a night on alcohol, HK$500 of weed might last me a month.”


Chilean psychiatrist leads crusade to legalize marijuana [CNN]

Dr. Milton Flores, 58, is not the leader of a religious sect or underground cult. He’s a psychiatrist who’s unusual in many respects. But in this South American country, it’s his crusade to legalize marijuana that has earned him notoriety.


Why I changed my mind on weed [CNN]

Most frightening to me is that someone dies in the United States every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose, mostly accidental. Every 19 minutes. It is a horrifying statistic. As much as I searched, I could not find a documented case of death from marijuana overdose. It is perhaps no surprise then that 76% of physicians recentlysurveyed said they would approve the use of marijuana to help ease a woman’s pain from breast cancer. 


Medical Marijuana’s Worst Side Effect? Government Hypocrisy [Policy Mic]

With Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s monumental backing of medical marijuana last week and the admission of New Hampshireand Illinois into the cadre of states allowing medical marijuana, August has already been a great month for marijuana supporters. It is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and the numbers are rising quickly. For supporters of marijuana legalization, this should be reason to cheer. Right? While state legislatures are giving marijuana supporters a reason to celebrate, their state law enforcement is not. Many of the states that have legalized medical marijuana have cracked down even harder on marijuana possession arrests. In 2010, there was a 3.06% increase in the marijuana possession arrest rate (people arrested per 100,000 citizens) in states that had legal medical marijuana bills. Of the 15 states that had legalized medical marijuana by that time, the arrest rate increased for 10 of them and decreased for only five. While the data does not specify if people arrested for marijuana possession are buying their weed on the streets or in a dispensary, this news should be troubling for supporters of legalization.


Brain-Imaging Study Links Cannabinoid Receptors to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [Science Daily]

In a first-of-its-kind effort to illuminate the biochemical impact of trauma, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a connection between the quantity of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, known as CB1 receptors, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the chronic, disabling condition that can plague trauma victims with flashbacks, nightmares and emotional instability.


Cannabis May Reduce Aggression, Improve Social Interactions in Mice[Weed Blog]

new study published by the journal Neuropharmacology has found that cannabinoids may reduce aggression, and improve social interactions. For the study, researchers “examined the role of cannabinoid CB1 receptors (CB1r) in aggressive behavior”, and found that a compound meant to mimic THC (a prime compound of cannabis) ”significantly decreased the aggression levels” of the mice that it was administered to. The researchers also examined mice which were bred without CB1 receptors, and found them to be more inherently aggressive than normal mice. Researchers conclude; “These results suggest that CB1r plays an important role in social interaction and aggressive behavior.”


Study: Passage of Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Incidences of Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities [NORML]

The passage of medical cannabis laws is associated with a reduction in the public’s consumption of alcohol and with fewer incidences of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to data published in the Journal of Law and Economics. Investigators at Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado assessed data regarding both alcohol consumption and traffic fatality rates for the years 1990 to 2010. Authorswrote: “Using individual-level data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) …, we find that MMLs (medical marijuana laws) are associated with decreases in the probability of [an individual] having consumed alcohol in the past month, binge drinking, and the number of drinks consumed.” Researchers further acknowledged that this general decline in the public’s use of alcohol was likely responsible for a parallel decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.


Children taken from medical marijuana-prescribed parents in California [RT]

A family from southern California is suing the City of Coronado after their children were taken away for nearly a year because the father admitted to legally smoking medical marijuana.


High Price: Drugs, Neuroscience, and Discovering Myself [Guardian]

Carl Hart argues persuasively that drug abuse is a symptom of a sick society rather than the cause.


Heidi Fleiss Busted for Growing Marijuana [CelebStoner]

Police in Pahrump, Nevada have charged Heidi Fleiss with cultivating 392 marijuana plants on her property. The former Hollywood madam claims she was growing for a Las Vegas medical cannabis collective.


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