Embassy Headlines, Issue 7

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy is always trying to get the good news out there. Michael Balderstone is going to provide his pick of news stories relating to the War on Drugs and Cannabis law reform issues, every week with the HEMP Embassy Headlines.


Oz: Police investigation leads to $500m drug seizure


Illegal drugs with a street value of half a billion dollars have been seized and seven people arrested in Sydney after a tip-off from US drug agents. More than half a tonne of drugs, including 306kg of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, and 252kg of heroin, were seized in Sydney during the operation. Seven people – all Hong Kong nationals – have been arrested. They are expected to face Sydney Local Court later Tuesday. It is the largest seizure of ice and third-largest heroin haul in Australian Federal Police history. The bust came after US Drug Enforcement Administration agents tipped-off the AFP to an international organised crime syndicate allegedly planning to import illicit drugs into Australia

USA: Pot education group is waging a war on fungus


Kenny Toglia is on a mission to legalize medical marijuana in New York State and save marijuana users from the devastating affects of what Toglia calls “one of the few things not good about marijuana.” The blue-eyed, 46-year-old with a ponytail and soul patch claims the threat doesn’t come directly from the intoxicating THC or even the smoke from a joint. The problem with New York City street pot, says Toglia, comes from a cancer-causing fungus with the tongue-twisting name Aspergillus fumigatus, found commonly in soil and rotting vegetable matter and alarmingly in pot that’s been stored a long time before smoking. To combat the threat, which Toglia claims affects one-third of relatively low-cost city pot, he has formed a nonprofit with the major purpose of educating marijuana smokers, especially those with compromised immune systems. Each Thursday at 6 p.m. Toglia and his crew will inspect your pot for the dangerous fungus for no cost at 130 E. Seventh St., at Avenue A.

The Netherlands: At least 600 jobs go as cannabis cafe reforms begin to bite


At least 600 people have lost their jobs since all cannabis cafes in the south of the country were turned into members’ only clubs. In Maastricht alone, 360 out of 400 staff have been sacked, according Jo Smeets of the coffee shop personnel association SBCN. And the owner of four coffee shops in Tilburg and Den Bosch told the paper he was planning to make at least 50 out of 73 workers redundant. In total, some 80 coffee shops in Limburg, Zeeland and Brabant are affected by the new rules which the government hopes will reduce drugs tourism and criminality. The government closed cannabis cafes in southern parts of the country to non-residents on May 1 and the rest of the Netherlands will follow next year. The new rules ban tourists from using the cafes and require locals who want to buy marijuana to register as official users. Few have done so, mainly out of privacy fears. Marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands but police turn a blind eye to the possession of small amounts for personal use.

USA: Medical Marijuana – Do States Know How to Regulate It?


Colorado’s decade-long debate over how to manage medical marijuana has produced a tightly controlled approach that more states are starting to emulate. Colorado’s evolution reflects the broader lessons states have learned in the decade and a half since California became the first state to approve medical cannabis in 1996. In that time, California has gained a reputation as something of the Wild West for weed: no state regulatory model, notoriously lax enforcement and an undefined set of prescription criteria that makes obtaining a medical marijuana card little more than a wink-wink formality. But as more states have legalized medical marijuana — today it’s legal to some degree in 17 states plus the District of Columbia — a more tightly controlled approach seems to be emerging. Ten states and D.C. have set up a system of authorized dispensaries, and 16 states have outlined specific conditions for which medical marijuana can be used. Even California has considered reining things in: Lawmakers moved this summer to develop the state’s first comprehensive licensing and permitting structure. But no matter how controlled a state’s medical marijuana policy may be, federal law still bans the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana for any purpose.

USA: Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers Than Non-Marijuana Users, New Study Shows


A new study released by United States auto insurance quote provider 4AutoInsuranceQuote.org shows that statistically speaking, marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users.

USA: Cocaine Cowboys Know Best Places to Bank


Then last month a Senate panel held a hearing on the U.K. bank HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and its ties to drug lords, money laundering, al- Qaeda and rogue nations such as Iran andNorth Korea. Here’s a bank with $2.7 trillion of assets that flouted U.S. laws for a decade, according to the July 17 report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. HSBC turned a blind eye to organized crime, Mexican drug cartels and overseas terrorism financiers, and gave them access to the U.S. banking system. HSBC’s main U.S. regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, for years tolerated its violations of anti-money laundering laws. For this, HSBC and the OCC apologized. Justice Department fines are likely. It’s an outrage HSBC hasn’t had its U.S. banking licenses revoked, assuming the Senate panel’s report is accurate — and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t. Banks that help drug cartels launder money and give cover to those tied to terrorism should be put out of business. Is that really so hard for everyone to agree on? Free markets have worked in the U.S. because we have the rule of law. It’s why so many investors from other countries want to do business here. When contracts are breached, courts can be accessed to enforce them. When individuals or companies commit crimes, they’re supposed to be prosecuted and punished. Except we have this mutant species of corporation called too-big-to-fail banks whose collapse might wreck the global economy. No financial institution in the U.S. can survive a felony indictment. So these companies have become un-indictable, creating a perverse nonchalance regarding financial crimes.

USA: 50 Cent and Eminem’s How to Make Money Selling Drugs


The rappers star in a tongue-in-cheek film critique of the War on Drugs. Want to know how to make money selling drugs? 50 Cent and Eminem will tell you. The rappers feature in a documentary of the same name that takes an in-depth look at the US War on Drugs and the battle to enforce tougher drug laws. Fiddy and Em are just some of the big names in interviewed for the film, which also includes hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, actress Susan Sarandon and Fix interviewee Major Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The movie’s synopsis (sarcastically) promises to show viewers, “10 easy steps that show you how to make money from drugs, featuring a series of interviews with drug dealers, prison employees and lobbyists arguing for tougher drug laws.” The movie will make its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, from September 6-16.

UK: Psychedelic drugs can unlock mysteries of brain


Scientists should have access to illegal psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin to aid them in brain research, according to the government’s former drug adviser ProfessorDavid Nutt. He said that research into the deepest mysteries of the brain, including consciousness and mental illness, had been curtailed by the prohibition of the drugs. “Neuroscience should be trying to understand how the brain works,” said Nutt, who is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. “Psychedelics change the brain in, perhaps, the most profound way of any drug, at least in terms of understanding consciousness and connectivity. Therefore we should be doing a lot more of this research. “It’s extraordinary that 40 years of advances in brain imaging technology and there’s never been a study about this before. I think it’s a scandal, I think it’s outrageous the fact these studies have not been done. And they’ve not been done simply because the drugs were illegal.”

USA: Deadly Medicine


Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas—on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese—in places where regulation is virtually non-existent, the F.D.A. doesn’t reach, and “mistakes” can end up in pauper’s graves? The authors of this article investigate the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Government’s failure to rein in a lethal profit machine.

Cannabis Cancer Treatments to be used across Europe – Cannabis Science


Cannabis Science (CBIS), a pioneering U.S. Biotech Company developing pharmaceutical products for global public health challenges has announced the finalization of a deal with German botanical product company, Dupetit Natural Products, GmbH. Cannabis Science and Dupetit Natural Products have teamed together to develop new products using combined cannabinoid expertise. The Joint Venture will immediately release the Cannabis Science current product line, Dupetit Natural products, and new Jointly developed product lines in the USA, Europe, and Internationally.

Performance enhancing dope: Should sport ban cannabis?


The expulsion of an American judo player from the London 2012 Olympic Games on Monday after he tested positive for marijuana prompted scientists to question the sense behind the drug’s inclusion on the World Anti Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list.

Call It Math Amphetamine


Cops Tend to Be High When Giving Drugs ‘Street Value’. IT HAPPENS before the news conference, before the plasticwrapped bricks of dope are arranged on the table for the TV cameras and before headlines are made. Cops calculate the “street value.” It’s a branch of mathematics in which economies of scale meet public relations. By envisioning thousands of transactions that will never occur – and sometimes padding the numbers on top of that – law-enforcement agencies can wind up doubling, tripling, quadrupling, quintupling, sextupling or even septupling what the confiscated drugs are worth to the bulk-level dealers who got popped. In the hands of a narcotics cop with a calculator, $2 million of heroin can become $9 million, $500,000 worth of meth can become $ 2.5 million, coke worth less than $1 million can become several million.

Time to separate drugs policy from crime


Illegal drugs are used by 270 million people and organized crime profits from a trade with a turnover of more than $320 billion a year, according to figures from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This makes it the world’s largest illegal commodity market. The UNODC now acknowledges that choosing an enforcement-based approach is having a range of negative ‘unintended consequences’. These include the creation of a vast criminal market, the spreading of the illegal drugs trade to new areas, the stigmatization of drug users and the diversion of money from health services. It is worthy of note though that, as well as prohibiting production, supply and use of some drugs for non-medical purposes, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs also regulates production, supply and use of many of the same drugs for medical purposes. Half the world’s opium is legally grown for this medical market, but with few if any of the negative consequences that we see in the prohibited market.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Too High to Fail,’ by Doug Fine


“Too High to Fail” takes the form of a fly-on-the-wall account of Northern California’s burgeoning legal cannabis industry. Fine, an investigative journalist, takes us to Mendocino County, where he follows one plant from seed to medical marijuana patient in the first county in the nation to decriminalize and regulate cannabis farming.

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