Embassy Headlines, Issue 67

Cannabis prohibition: No other law is both enforced so widely and harshly yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the populace. It’s time to get the government off my property and out of both my pockets and my body when it comes to marijuana.

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 67

New laws to ban all synthetic drugs in SA [Yahoo News]

New laws to ban synthetic drugs have been introduced to the South Australian parliament. The provisions outlaw any products that seek to mimic or are marketed to have the same effects as illicit drugs. That will include any substances already available or others that become available in the future.

Rethinking the War on Drugs: The True Danger that Knocks [UNSW Law Society]

So if prohibition doesn’t fit ideologically and criminalisation is arguably creating more harms than it solves, where do we go next? Should we keep pursuing the criminalisation of drugs in the eventual hopes that the police can catch every drug dealer, stop every trafficking route and prevent every drive by shooting, murder and turf battle? Should we continue to watch organised crime harms escalate in proportion with the drug enforcement budget and just keep hoping that the ends will justify the means?

Butt Out Big Brother: University’s New Anti-Smoking Policy Follows Workers Everywhere [SF Weekly]

UCSF this month adopted its long-anticipated “100-Percent Tobacco Free at Work” policy. There won’t be any smoking areas or ashtrays anymore; no one can light up or chew tobacco on campus property. That’s par for the course. But UCSF’s prohibition goes further — indefinitely further: “This policy covers all employees or students on all UCSF owned or leased property as well as any off campus locations where work time or breaks may occur” (emphasis ours). Per this language, all workers or students would be proscribed from using tobacco, even on breaks taken on land not controlled by UCSF. In fact, it would prevent someone from smoking during lunch while working from his own home or driving in her own car.

Rabbi Opens Medical Marijuana Dispensary [High Times]

“From the Jewish perspective, nothing is more important than the concept of healing and bringing sufferers relief,” says Rabbi Jeffery Kahn — who has spent 30 years leading congregations in Australia, Illinois, Miami and New Jersey — and now runs a dispensary for medical marijuana: Takoma Wellness Center, in Washington, DC. So far, Takoma only has three customers, and they must meet state criteria and suffer from one of five diseases: HIV, AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma. “I was a congregational rabbi during the worst days of the AIDS epidemic and saw up-close and personal what people living with AIDS were dealing with and finding relief with medical marijuana,” says Kahn.

NYC’s Next Mayor Will Try to Legalize Weed [PolicyMic]

The next mayor of New York City will help usher in the decriminalization of marijuana, regardless of which candidate wins the seat. Mayoral aspirants Bill de Blasio and Joseph Lhota, who were selected as nominees to represent their respective Democratic and Republican parties following primary elections earlier this month, are both fervent proponents of decriminalizing marijuana.

Debate: Should Cannabis be Legal Everywhere? [The Economist]

Defending the motion: Ethan Nadelman, Founder and executive director, Drug Policy Alliance. Against the motion: Neil McKeganey, Founding director, Centre for Drug Misuse Research.

Miley Cyrus: Pot is Best Drug on Earth [High Times]

After being coy about her possible cannabis use in June, Cyrus came clean to Rolling Stone: “I think weed is the best drug on earth.” The 20-year-old singer, who’s featured on the cover of the October 10 issue proclaimed pot superior to dangerous and addictive cocaine. 

Industrial hemp legalized in California [SF Bay Guardian]

The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act (SB 566) was signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, after years of deliberation dating back to 1999, a process that included multiple gubernatorial vetoes. The freshly signed law will allow approved California residents to grow hemp for industrial purposes by reclassifying the once-felonious plant as a “fiber or oilseed crop.” 

Can the United Nations Block U.S. Marijuana Legalization? [Huffington Post]

The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board’s latest annual report expressed dismay at the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado and urged “the Government of the United States to take necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties in its entire territory”. This led many media outletsto report that the U.S. had violated the UN drug control treaties to which it is a signatory. U.S. obligations under the treaties, and indeed the broader international future of marijuana legalization, are complex matters. 

Michael Douglas slams U.S. prison system after Emmy win [Entertainment Weekly]

Backstage, Douglas elaborated: “My son is in federal prison. He’s been a drug addict for a large part of his life. Part of the punishments — if you happen to have a slip, and this is for a prisoner who is nonviolent, as about a half-million of our drug-addicted prisoners are — he’s spent almost two years in solitary confinement. Right now I’ve been told that I can’t see him for two years. It’s been over a year now. And I’m questioning the system.”

Watch Your Pot Posts on Social Media [High Times]

Metadata can be dangerous, and if you forget to strip it out of photos, it could open the door for stalkers and cops alike. Please remember when showing off your buds that “marijuana” is one of about 400 “hot” keywords that are monitored by government agencies on social media.

No Association Between Frequency of Marijuana Use and Health or Healthcare Utilization [Science Daily]

Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found frequency of marijuana use was not significantly associated with health services utilization or health status. These findings currently appear online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Richard Branson: The war on drugs doesn’t work and decriminalisation is the answer [Metro UK]

Anyone caught in possession of cannabis in Britain could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. In Portugal, things are a little different. Possession of small amounts of drugs there remains illegal, but under changes made in 2001, it becomes an administrative rather than a criminal offence. The offender goes on to appear in front of a board of legal experts, social workers and psychologists, rather than a courtroom with a judge. The onus is on help, not punishment. Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson thinks a similar system could work in the UK. He is part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which wants the drug problem to be tackled as a health issue instead of a criminal scourge.

‘It is time to end the war on drugs’, says top UK police chief [The Guardian]

One of England’s most senior police officers has called for class-A drugs to be decriminalised and for the policy of outright prohibition to be radically revised. In a dramatic move that will reignite the debate over the so-called war on drugs, Mike Barton, Durham’s chief constable, has suggested that the NHS could supply drugs to addicts, breaking the monopoly and income stream of criminal gangs.

Report: Cheaper, purer illegal substances suggest global war on drugs is failing [CNN]

“During the past two decades, the supply of major illegal drugs has increased, as measured through a general decline in the prices and a general increase in the purity of illegal drugs in a variety of settings,” said the study, which was published by BMJ Open, an open-access journal published by the British Medical Journal.

Gonsalves wants Ganja put on CARICOM’s agenda [RJR News Jamaica]

The general public, including a huge swath of our thoughtful young people, are broadly disappointed with the failure and/or refusal of the political and civic leadership… to jettison its unnecessary caution and lethargy in addressing some of the controversial,  contemporary issues of real import.

Man killed by half-ton of marijuana [News Vine]

A man carrying 500 kilos of pot in his car lost his life when the illegal merchandise in the back of the vehicle slammed into him during an auto accident. The victim was traveling from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul to Sao Paulo this past Saturday when he refused to stop at a Federal Highway Patrol roadblock.

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