Embassy Headlines, Issue 64

Many Liberal voters in NSW don’t know the difference between Liberal Democrats AND Liberal & Nationals. The LDP had Group A on the ballot and picked up 8.9% and polled ahead of the Greens in NSW. Minor parties in 6 States have done very well in the Senate lottery where cooperation proves to be the best strategy.

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 64

Senate Lotto

The combined vote of political parties that support Cannabis law reform in the election is the highest ever. Votes for HEMP, Sex Party, Democrats, LDP and Drug Law Reform will be close to 1 million votes. HEMP has attracted about 0.7% of the vote with more to count at this stage. The Liberal Democrats, who probably got a lot of votes by mistake from people who intended to vote Liberal in NSW, are staunchly libertarian, including inebriation rights. Liberal Democrats 3.78% — mostly in NSW. ==NSW sends pro-gun Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm to Senate== Other Liberal Democrat policies include; legal Cannabis, the decriminalisation of drugs and assisted suicide and the legalisation of gay marriage. Palmer has Senators in Queensland and Tasmania, Motorists in Vic, Sports in WA and a Family First from South Aus. The six new Lotto Senators will make for an interesting time when they start their 6 year term next July.

HEMP Party In Australia For Legalization Of Marijuana [Medical Daily]

One of the party’s 12 Senate candidates, B.J. Futter, said that he does not expect to be elected in this term, but knows legalization is on the horizon. “This plant will be legalised. It’s just a matter of when,” he said. At the Party launch, pot enthusiasts blew up a 33-foot inflatable joint and dressed in prison attire to help convey their stance on “marijuana discrimination.” HEMP President, Michael Balderstone, said the illegal status of marijuana only leads to unwarranted prison sentences and young people experimenting with more harmful substances, including synthetic marijuana.

Sex Party Announces Cannabis Led Recovery for Tasmania

The Australian Sex Party has announced a radical economic plan that would see millions of dollars injected into the ailing Tasmanian economy. The Sex Party wants to legalise and tax marijuana like alcohol and commence large-scale cultivation of cannabis crops alongside poppy crops in Tasmania and turn the state into the hemp and marijuana capital of Australia.

Unsung policy issue: should ‘illicit’ drugs be legal? [Crikey]

It’s good enough for some US states, New Zealand, Uruguay, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands. So why not in Australia? All these jurisdictions have recently changed their laws — or are formally considering doing so — on illicit drugs. They are legalising marijuana for personal or medical use, or changing the regulation of psychoactive substances. Not here. In this election campaign there has been a tripartisan silence on whether illicit drugs should be legalised, or managed differently. But is the current system really working so well it cannot be improved?

Size and value of the Australian illicit drug market

At 11.30am on 12 September 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] will release their reworked estimates of the size and value of the Australian illicit drug market on the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au) under catalogue number 5204.0.55.008. They are in an information paper that deals with other elements of the Non-observed Economy.

NSW Drugs and Poisons Legislation Amendment (New Psychoactive and Other Substances) Bill 2013

An Act to amend the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to prohibit the manufacture, supply, sale and advertising of psychoactive substances and to remove the requirement for analogues of prohibited drugs to have psychotropic properties; to amend the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 with respect to the addition of further substances to the Poisons List; and for other purposes.

Seven Questions the ‘Senate Cannabis Committee’ Should Ask the Obama Administration [AlterNet]

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws, scheduled for  Sept. 10  and led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), have been hailed as “unprecedented.” Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s Aug. 29 memorandum to federal attorneys, advising that prosecuting cannabis businesses legal under state law should only be a priority if they commit other offenses such as selling to minors, has also been hailed as a major step towards legalization. On the other hand, the Cole memo did not specifically enjoin federal prosecutors from going after medical-marijuana dispensaries or the pot stores that Colorado and Washington are preparing to license. Some—such as Melinda Haag of California’s Northern District, leader of the crackdown on dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area—are saying they will continue to target violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

International Drug Policy Reform Conference, Colorado USA

In October 2013, join your colleagues in the drug policy reform movement to learn, network, and strategize. Together, we can advance drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

Alaskans may get chance to ‘just say yes’ on marijuana ballot measure [Anchorage Daily News]

The initiative would add a new seven-page chapter to Alaska’s statute books, making it legal for adults at the age at which they may buy beer to also possess up to an ounce of pot anywhere, except where a property owner banned it. It would set up a state regulatory body to oversee cannabis farms, dealers and advertising, and ensure that products don’t end up with juveniles or on the black market. The initiative would impose a $50-an-ounce excise tax that would be collected between the greenhouse and the store or factory.

Tackling the NFL’s Hypocritical Marijuana Policy [MPP Blog]

For years, the US’s National Football League has been punishing athletes for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league. Now that the U.S. Justice Department has announced it will allow states to legalize marijuana, the NFL needs to recognize and respect those laws, too.

US Senator John McCain: “Maybe We Should Legalize Marijuana [Talking Points Memo]

Maybe we should legalize. We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people.

The Psychiatric Drug Crisis [The New Yorker]

The psychiatric-drug industry is in trouble. “We are facing a crisis,” the Cornell psychiatrist and New York Times contributor Richard Friedman warned last week. In the past few years, one pharmaceutical giant after another—GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi—has shrunk or shuttered its neuroscience research facilities. Clinical trials have been halted, lines of research abandoned, and the new drug pipeline has been allowed to run dry. Why would an industry beat a hasty retreat from a market that continues to boom? (Recent surveys indicate that mental illness is the leading cause of impairment and disability worldwide.) The answer lies in the history of psychopharmacology, which is more deeply indebted to serendipity than most branches of medicine—in particular, to a remarkable series of accidental discoveries made in the fifteen or so years following the end of the Second World War. 

Bob Marley talks marijuana and Rastafari: ‘Herb is the healing of the nation’ [Dangerous Minds]

Vintage interview with Mr. Bob Marley, in which he discussed his thoughts on Rastafari, the use of the “herb” and why alcohol is far more dangerous drug than marijuana. The video quality is slightly trippy, but there is much here to relish. Check here for Bob’s interview with High Times from 1976.

Drug user apologises for ‘playing football’: ‘Now I know the risks, I’ll stick to laughing gas’, says Kyle Walker[Telegraph]

Kyle Walker, the Tottenham Hotspur and England right-back, has apologised for being photographed apparently taking nitrous oxide, or laughing gas – the only drug which you take by repeatedly sucking on a balloon. After the inevitable won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children backlash, he issued a statement saying: “Now I know the health risks, it was poor judgment on my part. I won’t be doing this again and hope that no one else is influenced into putting their health at risk by my actions.” I’m sure we can all agree with that. Mr Walker regularly engages in a risky activity which causes hundreds of deaths a year. What’s more, he glamorises it, and makes money from it. Yes: Mr Walker is a professional footballer. You are, by my admittedly rough but extremely conservative estimate, several times more likely to die playing football than you are taking “hippy crack”, as nitrous oxide is known by absolutely nobody apart from headline writers.

Should cannabis growers be treated as criminals? [NORML UK]

Policy makers need a better understanding of who actually grows cannabis in the UK, of how they do it, and of why they do it. This is why I, along with Axel Klein of the University of Kent, am looking for individuals who have grown cannabis in the UK to participate in a (strictly anonymous) online survey. We hope our research will help paint a picture of the realities of cannabis growing in the UK which will feed into future sensible policy making. What is more, we are working with colleagues across the world – the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium (the World Wide Weed research group) – to conduct similar surveys in a number of countries to see how cannabis cultivation manifests itself under different policy regimes. Ultimately, we believe that people who use cannabis (whether for medical or other reasons) should not be treated as criminals, and neither should people who cultivate cannabis for their own supply, for that of their friends, or that of sick individuals who benefit from the properties of this plant.

How to make a drug confession without scaring the Canadian electorate [The Guardian]

The Toronto mayor’s statements on drug use are part of a well-worn set of answers that prevents an honest debate on prohibition.

In Jamaica, a twist on wine tours for pot lovers [Seattle Pi]

Napa and Sonoma have their wine tours, and travelers flock to Scotland to sample the fine single malt whiskies. But in Jamaica, farmers are offering a different kind of trip for a different type of connoisseur. Call them ganja tours: smoky, mystical — and technically illegal — journeys to some of the island’s hidden cannabis plantations, where pot tourists can sample such strains as “purple kush” and “pineapple skunk.”

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