Embassy Headlines, Issue 75

Anyone who believes that alcohol should be legal should also agree that marijuana should be legal.

The relative harm caused by alcohol is far greater yet marijuana use is a criminal offence. Prohibiting alcohol would be one solution. Legalising Cannabis is more equitable and would be better for your health.

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 75

Government Defunds NFP Drug Council [Pro Bono Australia]

Funding for the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) – the  national peak body representing organisations and workers in the – has been axed by the Coalition Government, making it the latest casualty in the new government’s austerity drive. The ADCA was notified yesterday of the decision to cut core funding for its day to day operations and individual projects. This follows announcements that the Coalition Government will also be “winding down” the operations of the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Sydney school kids recruited to import illegal drugs through the post [ABC]

Customs officials say an international crime syndicate is using Sydney high school students as drug mules, with two teenagers already facing possible charges.

Cops to use licence to disqualify anyone guilty of anything [Herald Sun]

Sweeping legal changes which came into effect on September 30 allow courts to suspend or cancel the licence of any person convicted or found guilty of any offence – regardless of whether that offence has anything to do with driving. Victoria Police has exclusively revealed to the Herald Sun that it will seek to use the new powers in up to 50,000 court cases each year. It has already briefed its prosecutors on the law.

South Australian MPs fire up over cannabis penalties [Herald Sun]

A cannabis crackdown is looming, as proposed changes to the law reducing the amount a user can carry without facing criminal charges gain support in Parliament. Opposition substance abuse spokesman Duncan McFetridge revived a plan to reduce the amount of cannabis for which a person receives only a fine – and is not charged – from 100g to less than 25g. Carrying more than 25g would become a criminal offence. The proposed changes, originally introduced by independent MLC Ann Bressington, would also result in the fine for possession of less than 25g being increased to from $150 to $300.

AMA Reaffirms Opposition to Marijuana Legalization [US News]

The American Medical Association’s policy-making body voted Tuesday to reaffirm its opposition to marijuana legalization, but also called the current federal approach to reducing the drug’s use “ineffective” and endorsed a review of the “risks and benefits” of new legal markets in Colorado and Washington.

Three Myths About the Marijuana Lobby [Huffington Post]

Now that support for making marijuana legal has reached 58 percent nationwide, according to the prestigious Gallup organization, opponents of marijuana legalization are now trotting out arguments that were only used in impolite company years ago.

Pastor: Why we should decriminalize marijuana [NJ.com]

The overwhelming and unacceptable failures of marijuana prohibition have become increasingly clear in recent years, thanks in part to mounting and incontrovertible empirical evidence.

1st Recreational Cannabis License in US History Awarded [Marijuana Business Daily]

Annie’s, a medical marijuana dispensary in the Colorado mountain town of Central City, has received the first business license in the United States to sell recreational marijuana. Local officials approved the license this week. Annie’s still must also receive a business license from the state, which could happen in the next few weeks. The first recreational marijuana stores in Colorado are scheduled to open on Jan. 1.

Prosecutor wants suit over marijuana extracts dismissed [Arizona Star]

Maricopa County’s chief prosecutor is asking a judge to throw out a bid by the parents of a 5-year-old Mesa boy who has seizures to be able to get an extract of marijuana from dispensaries. County Attorney Bill Montgomery is not disputing whether Zander Welton needs the drug. His parents have the proper recommendation from a doctor to sign him up as a patient under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. But Montgomery said Monday that those who crafted the statute legalized only marijuana, which means the plant. Any extracts fall under a separate part of the criminal code that was not altered by the voter-approved law.

Medical Marijuana Raids in Colorado Raise Questions About Federal Forbearance [Reason]

Today federal agents, assisted by local police, staged the biggest crackdown on marijuana dispensaries in Colorado since the state legalized cannabis for medical use in 2000. The Denver Post reports that the raids hit more than a dozen dispensaries in the Denver area, plus businesses in Boulder and elsewhere.

11 Ways the Drug War Raises Your Taxes and Shrinks Your Profits [AlterNet]

One public policy with profound impacts on business and the economy is rarely evaluated: drug prohibition policy.

What’s So Bad About Casual Drug Use? [Time]

Prohibitionists typically deny the very possibility of responsible or voluntary use of currently illegal substances. They argue that drugs such as coke, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and even marijuana are verboten precisely because they simply can’t be used casually. Any use either already constitutes abuse or quickly leads to it. “Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal,” former drug czar William Bennett and former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano wrote in a 2011 Wall Street Journalop-ed, “they are illegal because they are dangerous.”

Catch-422: How The War On Cannabis Ties Us Up In Knots [Lady Bud]

With a tip of my hempen chapeau to Joseph Heller, I have identified a phenomenon I call “Catch-422.” With the full-throated (and paid for) assistance of the mainstream media for the last 70+ years, our government’s Reefer Madness campaign has demonized cannabis, stigmatized entire classes of society and destroyed countless lives while decimating our communities of color.

Study: Children Living In Marijuana Grow-Ops Are Just As Healthy As Their Peers [Leaf Science]

Researchers from the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work have found that children living in homes where marijuana is grown show no noticeable health differences than those living in the average home. The study, published in September in the International Journal of Drug Policy, was led by Janet Douglas, Ph.D, who has spent over 20 years as a child protection social worker in B.C. About a dozen of those years involved responding to cases of children living in marijuana grow-ops. 

Is Britain Set for Its Very Own Cannabis Revolution? [Vice]

The US war on cannabis is over and there’s no turning back, says US cannabis author Doug Fine as he prepares to take the stage at South Bank University. Fine is in London for the one-night UK leg of his world tour, spreading news of the “green economic revolution” currently spreading through the US, which is seeing certain states decriminalising, taxing and profiting from the marijuana industry.

Cannabis clubs blossoming in the UK [Guardian]

I guess it’s like wine-tasting – but with cannabis,” says Orson Boon (not his real name), head of the London Cannabis Club. “People come to exchange samples, try new strains and have a chat.”

Very First Human Trials Using Cannabis To Treat Brain Cancer Under Way [World Truth TV]

A European based pharmaceutical company called GW Pharmaceuticals is set to commence its first phase of clinical trials for the treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). It’s a bio-pharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing novel therapeutics from its proprietary cannabinoid product platform. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, GBM accounts for approximately 50% of the 22,500 new cases of brain cancer diagnosed in the United States alone each year.(1) Treatment with regards to brain cancer are very limited which makes the study of cannabis and its effect on brain tumors crucial.

UN conventions do not impede regulated cannabis production [University of Groningen]

Now that the use and sale of cannabis have been regulated, it is time to regulate its production. Traditional arguments claiming that this would put the Netherlands in violation of international agreements are unsound. This is the opinion of Jan Brouwer, Professor of General Law Studies at the University of Groningen.

Why are Swedes so scared of pot? [The Local]

For some Americans, moving to Sweden can feel like you’re not just switching countries, but switching eras. Sweden is years ahead of the US in so many areas — education, health care, sexuality, worker’s rights, social welfare, etc. — so it’s easy to understand why it feels like entering some progressive Disneyland when I left California for Stockholm earlier this year. 

But despite Sweden’s perks, there’s one issue here that’s left me questioning the open-mindedness of the Big Blue & Yellow — weed. Marijuana is unacceptable in Sweden, both legally and socially. 

Cheerful Songs About Drug-War Murders, Now at a Walmart Near You [The Atlantic]

1623, 2754, and 3622. These are how many murders took place in Juárez, Mexico, in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 18, 13, and 5. These are how many murders took place in neighboring El Paso, an American city within walking distance of Juárez, during the same years. This is what viewers learn during the first ten minutes of Narco Cultura, a documentary by Shaul Schwarz about the effects of drug trafficking on Mexico’s northern border.

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