Embassy Headlines, Issue 73

Pot-smoking lawyers in Washington State take oaths to abide by state and federal marijuana laws that don’t match. Violating professional conduct rules and/or ethics is different when it comes to weed. Providing legal advice to ‘Stoners’ can be substantial, disruptive and expensive.

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 73

Global Drug Survey partners with Fairfax Media [Sydney Morning Herald]

Fairfax Media is once again partnering with the Global Drug Survey to discover the truth about Australia’s drug use. Last year more than 6600 Australians took part in the survey, which is run by UK addiction psychiatrist and researcher Adam Winstock, making it the biggest ever poll of current drug users conducted in Australia. This year, the survey will run with media partners in 17 countries, across four continents and in 10 different languages. It will be the biggest global survey of drug users ever conducted, Dr Winstock said.


Facebook, Instagram crack down on online illegal drug trade [ABC]

A series of investigations has revealed drug dealers operating in plain sight, by advertising their products using images and hashtags on social media websites.


Conference Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Scientific Conference 2013 [APSAD]

APSAD13 will run from 24-27 November in Brisbane. At this event, Prof David Nutt from the UK will join a group of Australian researchers – Dr Steve Bright, Dr Des Tramacchi and Dr Monica Barratt – to set out the case for the benefits of psychoactive medicines, of entheogenic inebriations, and even of re-creational use of inebriants other than alcohol.


What do [some] young people gain from drug use? [The Conversation]

The idea that illicit drugs could hold value in the lives of young people is bewildering to most people, who tend to assume that illicit drug use is necessarily destructive. This becomes even more distressing for many when the young people involved are still teenagers. Certainly, the concept is anathema to Australia’s drug prevention policies, which tend to take the form of a War on Drugs. Drug users are construed as mad, bad and dangerous. The normative view of illicit drugs is that they inevitably produce compulsions of human behaviour, and that people that use them are surely pathological, irrational and in need of help. Even so, if you ask young drug users about their substance use, many will tell you that drugs play a range of roles in their lives. Yes, they can create problems, but drugs can also be pleasurable and create social opportunities.


Maine’s largest city approves recreational pot [Boston Herald]

Maine’s largest city, Portland, legalized possession of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday. The proposal, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2½ ounces of pot in the city, received about 67 percent of the vote in unofficial citywide results. Buying or selling marijuana, or using it in public places, would remain illegal. The vote in Maine, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1999, came a year after Washington and Colorado voters passed statewide referendums legalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults 21 and over.


High courts consider marijuana use legal advice by attorneys [Washington Post]

Washington’s Supreme Court on Wednesday is taking up an emergency proposal to change the state’s ethics rules for lawyers to make clear that attorneys complying with state law won’t get in trouble for giving pot-related legal advice — or for smoking up themselves, as long as they’re not high at work. The Supreme Court in Colorado, the other state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, has been presented with a similar proposal.


Looking at Word Choice in the Marijuana Debate [Metro Times Detroit]

Among pro-marijuana activists, there are some who always refer to pot as “cannabis.” Cannabis is its scientifically correct name and the name predominantly used for medical preparations before its prohibition. Another popular name was Indian hemp. Referring to the plant as marijuana was part of the public relations campaign to vilify it. Mexicans referred to it as marijuana and the prohibitionists chose to use that name in the effort to tie it negatively to ethnic minorities.


Tapping Medical Marijuana’s Potential [New York Times]

In a lengthy report entitled “Blurred Boundaries: The Therapeutics and Politics of Medical Marijuana,” published last year in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Bostwick noted that the so-called endocannabinoid system has an impact on the autonomic nervous system, immune system, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive system, cardiovascular system and endocrine network. “Medical experts emphasize the need to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug to facilitate rigorous scientific evaluation of the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids and to determine the optimal dose and delivery route for conditions in which efficacy is established,” Diane E. Hoffmann and Ellen Weber, legal experts at the University of Maryland, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.


Drugs legislation is hampering clinical research, warns David Nutt [The Guardian]

The UK’s drug laws are preventing scientists from carrying out vital research to unlock our understanding of the brain and find new treatments for conditions such as depression and Parkinson’s disease, according to Professor David Nutt, a leading neuroscientist and former government drug adviser.


David Nutt: ‘I was sacked, I was angry, I was right’ [The Conversation]

The John Maddox Prize for standing up for science is awarded to individuals who are judged to have “promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest” and especially those who have faced difficulty or hostility in their endeavours. This year’s winner, David Nutt, talks about his work and taking on the establishment.


Cancer Researchers Are On The Verge Of Human Trials With Cannabis [Leaf Science]

The concept of cannabis curing cancer may be hard to imagine, but evidence from cell cultures and animal studies has already proven the possibility. Now researchers say they’re ready to move to the clinical stage. Dr. Sean McAllister, of the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), has spent nearly a decade studying the effects of cannabidiol – a chemical found in marijuana – on aggressive types of breast and brain cancer. His research has already shown that cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Although, so far, he’s only been able to study animal and cell culture models. Now he says his team is ready to prove it in humans.


Cannabis Induces a Clinical Response in Patients With Crohn’s Disease [Cannabis Clinicians]

From research out of Israel, and published in the October, 2013 issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, comes this controlled trial showing that a short course (8 weeks) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 10 of 11 patients with active Crohn’s disease, compared with placebo, without side effects.


Enhancing the Activity of Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids In Vitro [Cannabis Clinicians]

The concomitant administration of various non-psychoactive plant cannabinoids demonstrates synergistic anti-cancer activity in human leukemia cells, according to preclinical trial data published online in the October 2013 journal Anticancer Research. They explored the activity of six cannabinoids, used both alone and in combination in leukemic cells. Cannabinoids were cytostatic and caused a simultaneous arrest at all phases of the cell cycle.


Slow-growing plant yields marijuana designed for kids [The Salt Late Tribune]

Preparing Charlotte’s Web is a protracted, tedious process that starts at “the grow,” two massive greenhouses on 56 acres of spring-fed land at an undisclosed location in the mountains. It’s harvest time and the greenhouses are full of towering plants. Colorado’s sunny climate allows the nonprofit Realm of Caring Foundation to grow marijuana year-round. It gets two harvests a year, but hopes to ramp up production to three to four harvests through a light deprivation strategy that causes the plants to flower in winter. About a third of each greenhouse is devoted to Charlotte’s Web, a shorter, squattier plant that grows more slowly than other varieties. The plant is high in cannabidiol (CBD) but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of marijuana that creates a high in users. It’s in such high demand by parents of ill children, typically kids with epilepsy, that Realm can’t immediately supply them all.


The costs and benefits of a licensed, taxed and regulated cannabis market [Society Central UK]

It is easy to despair of the low quality of public debate on drugs policy in the UK. Some of the loudest voices in the debate reflect fixed views and make opportunistic use of any fragment of evidence that happens to support those views. The very act of contemplating certain policy options can attract vehement criticism and – consequently perhaps – some policy-makers who, before entering government, had open minds on options for drugs policy, cling firmly to the prohibitionist line when in power.


Cannabis farm accidentally photographed in Rightmove estate agent advert [Telegraph UK]

An estate agent accidentally advertised a property on Rightmove with pictures of a cannabis farm in one of the bedrooms.


Silk Road Reborn: There’s a New Dread Pirate Roberts [Mashable]

Five weeks after the FBI shuttered what it called “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet” and arrested its suspected owner, a new online bazaar for drugs and other contraband has arisen from the ashes bearing the same name — Silk Road. That’s not the only similarity, though. The website’s owner is fashioning himself as the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a reference to the book and film The Princess Bride, which the owner of the original Silk Road also used. We’ve communicated with the new Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) throughout the past month, using encrypted messaging on the new Silk Road’s forums. Though the marketplace launched Wednesday, the new site’s forums have been active since Oct. 7 — an attempt by the new Dread Pirate Roberts to hold together the massive Silk Road community, keep its members from going to competitors and engage them in the process of reinventing the site.


Cannabis-user jailed in Malta loses his appeal [Wales Online]

Judges in Malta have rejected an appeal by Welshman Daniel Holmes to get his ten-and-a-half year sentence for growing five cannabis plants reduced.


Israel Takes to Homegrown Pot as Wall Curbs Arab Hash [Business Week]

A few years back Israeli cannabis smokers grappled with the notion that their drug money often enriched the country’s foes. These days, they’re more likely to light up marijuana produced in Tel Aviv basements or villas outside Jerusalem than hashish smuggled in from abroad. “Marijuana has quietly become the main product here,” said Daniel Nahum, a former paratrooper who first noticed the change when he began smelling pot in bohemian neighborhoods of Jaffa, an ancient port city south of Tel Aviv. The shift in Israel’s cannabis supply is an unintended effect of tighter border security. While Israelis long smoked hash from neighboring Arab countries, a new fence and more vigilance on the borders have thwarted shipments. In response, Israeli dealers are increasingly growing their own.


Weed consumption is a human rights issue, Irish MP Luke Flanagan [RT]

Perhaps no war has failed quite as spectacularly as the War on Drugs. Trillions have been spent around the world, millions arrested, and yet drugs have never been cheaper or more accessible than they are now. Is prohibition still a valid strategy for dealing with cannabis, one of the world’s favorite illicit pleasures? Can decriminalization of pot help end austerity? To hash over these issues, Oksana is joined by Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, an Irish MP and cannabis legalization advocate. 


HEMP AGM

The Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party will hold their Annual General Meeting for the Federal and NSW Branch at 4.20pm on Saturday, November 23 at the Nimbin HEMP Embassy, 51 Cullen Street. All HEMP Party members are welcome to attend.

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