Embassy Headlines, Issue 82

Answer to cancer or disastrous hoax? Valuable resource or noxious weed? A human right or morally wrong? A path to pleasure or a gateway to hell? Miracle cure or a dangerous drug? Cannabis certainly is an epic story with many twists and turns.

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.


Tara’s Law [NBN News]

This is a news story which ran on 12th Jan 2014 on Channel 9 NBN News (6pm News) about an Australian mother using a medical-grade cannabis product “Mullaways Cannabinoid Tincture” to treat her daughters severe uncontrolled epilepsy, which doctors have called “miraculous” results.

One man’s medical marijuana treatment has led to calls for medical cannabis to be trialled in Australia [Today Tonight]

Last year, Today Tonight broke the story on a young girl with a rare form of epilepsy whose mother, out of sheer desperation, decided to try Tincture – a liquid medicine extracted from marijuana. The results have been amazing, and have led to calls for medical marijuana to be legalised in Australia, or at least scientifically trialled. Despite that, the man behind the drug remains on the wrong side of the law.

Desperate parents turn to medical marijuana in last-ditch effort to improve their children’s lives [Herald Sun]

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says he supports the decision of the medical administration not to legalise medicinal marijuana, even after it has been revealed it saved a young girl’s life. 

Campbell Newman gets behind medicinal pot [News]

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has called on federal health authorities to investigate the possible trial of medicinal cannabis. Mr Newman yesterday said he had an open mind on the issue and would like to see its use explored. “I am perfectly prepared to accept that hemp has potential to create drugs or treatments that might have a medical benefit for people,” he said.

Time for medicinal cannabis trial in Queensland [Courier Mail]

LNP backbencher Jason Woodforth will call on his parliamentary colleagues to “open their minds” and allow a medicinal cannabis trial in Queensland. The Nudgee MP, who famously lobbied the party room to rid the state’s water supplies of fluoride said he would use the first party room meeting back, expected to be held on February 10, to put his case. “I will be lobbying for a trial,” Mr Woodforth said. “It’s time we opened up our minds and listened and did something about it.”

Miraculous’ cure thanks to marijuana [7News]

Medical professionals are calling for an urgent overhaul of cannabis laws after a mother declared that marijuana cured her daughter’s epilepsy.

Should Australia legalise marijuana? [Sunrise]

Should marijuana be legalised for recreational use? Colorado and Washington think so.

OPINION: Legalising marijuana would have huge benefits for the Australian economy, while cutting criminals out of the drug supply [Courier Mail]

Despite decades of an increasingly expensive war on drugs, the use and availability of marijuana, and other, so-called harder drugs, is as widespread as ever. In the US, conservative economic think tank the Cato Institute estimates this war on drugs costs about $US41 billion ($46.05 billion) a year in terms of enforcement. At the same time Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates the US Government is forgoing $US47 billion in tax revenues that could be collected via legalising drugs. In Australia the cost of enforcement runs by some estimates as high as $4.7 billion a year, again with little impact on availability or use.

Great gran had marijuana in house to help terminally-ill daughter control pain[Telegraph]

The court heard the marijuana was used by Stiff’s late daughter Kerry as part of treatment for bowel cancer. Shortly after her daughter’s death Stiff sold the drug to a man who had been part of “a group” who used it at the same time as her daughter Kerry, the court heard. Police searched the two-bedroom public housing apartment the next day.

Unjust Drug Laws Claim Another Australian Victim [Enpsychedelia]

Most people who receive ridiculous convictions are bullied by our justice system into hiding their enjoyment of alternative psychoactives.  These are not people who need medical help.  They are the average drug consumers – relatively well educated, contributors to society, caring citizens who enjoy a drug other than alcohol.

Black market booming for synthetic drugs [Newcastle Herald]

A flourishing black market trade of synthetic drugs is operating across the Hunter, with dealers defying state and federal government bans put in place last year. A Newcastle Herald investigation reveals suppliers have set up shop at  homes, workplaces, and cars, selling large quantities of synthetic cannabis and powders sourced from Sydney and Queensland. A Cessnock man is the latest to be arrested for allegedly selling synthetic drugs from his workplace,  a  service station in Neath.

Will legal changes be enough to stymie the synthetic drugs trade? [SMH]

What is obvious is that the business of ”new psychoactive substances” (as the police call them) has rewritten the old rules of the ”highs” industry and turned on its head the paradigm of drug dealers, suppliers and users, while generating millions in profits. Producers of the raw materials are not machinegun-toting Afghan farmers or tattooed bikie speed cooks, they are white-coated lab technicians based in legally operated industrial complexes in southern China, India and Pakistan, where they brew substances designed to mimic illegal drugs. The chemical structures of the potions are engineered to fall outside existing laws in the buyers’ countries, but often the potions are illegal anyway. The buyers – the top-level dealers – are not gangsters, but often hip young university graduates, whose operations turn over six-figure sums in days and who know more about the structure of their personally ordered chemicals than the government chemists who regulate them.

Legislation To Legalize Marijuana Introduced In Vermont [Weed Blog]

Last week in the USA, Vermont Senator David Zuckerman introduced a proposal –Senate Bill 306 – to legalize recreational cannabis. Under the proposed law, the possession up to 2 ounces of cannabis, and the cultivation of up to 3 plants, would be legal for those 21 and older. State-licensed retail outlets would be authorized to distribute cannabis, which would be taxed at $50 an ounce.

This is What American Grassroots Marijuana Law Reform Looks Like [NORML]

On Saturday, the northern Virginia chapter of NORML, presented an articulate, persuasive, and coordinated message to their elected officials: ‘It’s time to stop arresting responsible adults who consume cannabis.’ Their efforts are commendable – and necessary. 

Ad agencies prepare for the legal marijuana market [CBS News]

The slogan, “This Bud’s for You” may already be claimed, but that isn’t stopping advertising executives from dreaming about getting in on the burgeoning sales of legal medical and recreational marijuana – an industry estimated to already be generating revenues in the billions of dollars.

Alaska could become the third state to legalize marijuana—as soon as August[Washington Post]

A group of activists in favor of legalizing marijuana say they’ve turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote. The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana turned over 46,000 signatures on Wednesday—about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed. If the state Division of Elections reviews and approves the signatures ballot language will be prepared, according to a state description of the process. The sponsors of the initiative say the next step for them will be to spread the word and garner support.

The Undergreen Railroad

The Undergreen Railroad is an organization designed to assist, educate, and provide resources to medical patients and their families, farmers, and recreational cannabis users to seek legal refuge and relocate from states with unfriendly cannabis laws to cannabis compassionate states.

Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Don’t Work [NORML]

The imposition of student drug testing programs is not effective in limiting students’ consumption of controlled substances, according to survey data published in the January edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

DEA Case Threatens to Expose US Government-Sanctioned Drug-Running [Narco News]

The real news is buried deep in the DEA court pleadings and confirms the existence of a US undercover operation that Narco News reported previously had allowed tons of cocaine to be flown from Latin America into the USA absent proper controls or the knowledge of the affected Latin American nations.

How to Make Drugs Better in 2014 [Vice]

If you thought the days of getting a criminal record for having a spliff or two in your pocket were over, think again. Here are some cases I found after spending five minutes sifting through some Welsh local papers that went to print back in March.

Marijuana-loving Twitter users resolve to start 2014 on a high note [Guardian]

By this point in the year, most New Year’s resolutions are already broken. But a new analysis from the Coalition Against Drug Abuse suggests that more social media users are publicly resolving to use more substances – especially marijuana – in 2014.

CNN Poll: Support for legal marijuana soaring [CNN]

In a major turnaround from past decades, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to a new poll. TheCNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicated that the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged. Fifty-five percent of those questioned nationally said marijuana should be made legal, with 44% disagreeing.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon on David Brooks’ “Weed: Been There, Done That” [Made Man]

Last week the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a piece, “Weed Been There, Done That,” which slammed thelegalization of marijuana in Colorado and other states and labeled users stupid at worst and indolent at best. Among other criticisms, he wrote that cannabis is “not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure and should be discouraged more than encouraged.” In making his case, Brooks cited long-debunked research and relied on old stereotypes that serious scholars discredited decades ago. One of the leading thinkers on the topic is Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Harvard psychiatrist and author of the 1971 classic, Marihuana Reconsidered, an exhaustive study of the scientific, medical, cultural and legal arguments against the plant. That book stripped away the myths, lies and distortions surrounding cannabis and sparked an enormous debate in this country and around the world. Joe Dolce spoke to the doctor, who is 85, from his home in Newton, Massachusetts.

David Brooks’ Polluted “Moral Ecology” [Slate]

If you missed it, I apologize in advance. This week Brooks responded to Colorado and Washington state’s recent decriminalization of marijuana with a retrospective on his own experience smoking the wacky tobacky. In “Weed: Been There. Done That,” Brooks makes a case for a “moral ecology” that curbs individual freedom for the collective betterment of potheads who would be better served devoting their energies to higher aspirations like running track. If you think I’m minimizing his argument to be glib, I dare you to read his piece. That is his argument. He is dismayed by legal marijuana’s base “moral ecology,” arguing that a healthy government “encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.” 

Legalization Of Marijuana: The End Of ‘Cool’ [International Business Times]

But there is something else to be considered here — and it has nothing to do with dollars and cents. Ironically, I think that when pot is fully legalized, that will be a sad day for the millions of people who smoke marijuana and love it (and even use it to define their very personalities). That’s because, by legalizing weed, its consumption will no longer be considered “cool” — its cachet will be removed, rendering the act of lighting up a joint about as “hip” as eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger or downing a Diet Pepsi.

HEMP: An Energy Crop [Kentucky Hemp]

By blending coal with biomass materials such as hemp, sulfur emissions from power generation can be reduced and less valuable coal that is high in sulfur can remain competitive.

Great Recipes While High: Cannasoup Shooters [Weedist]

This is a great method of ingesting cannabis if you have a hard time with other methods or if you want to get the effect a little sooner than eating solid cannabis food. The aqueous nature of hot soup has already dissolved the cannabis and, being liquid, it seeps through your intestinal lining much faster as it can bypass a good chunk of the digestive process. As a bonus, heat has a natural relaxing effect and it can open up congested breathing passages.

Cooking with cannabis – a new culinary high? [Guardian]

Once a novelty ingredient, hemp is being incorporated by more and more chefs into their culinary repertoire. But does it really have a place on the dinner table?

Denver party planners create high-end menu for marijuana connoisseurs [San Jose Mercury]

You won’t need to be high to appreciate how the savory crunch of chile-rubbed bacon contrasts with the velvety cream of sweet corn soup at the inaugural cannabis-themed dinner hosted by Edible Events, but the entire menu was created with an “enhanced” experience in mind. The food won’t have marijuana in it, but at this BYOC (cannabis) event, guests who consume the stuff will find the food especially stimulating, says organizer Jane West. She started the monthly series (edibleeventsco.com) as a more sophisticated alternative to what she terms the “ganja gone wild” parties around Denver.  “So far, I haven’t found a single event I want to go to,” says West, who would fit right in at a PTA meeting or a suburban book club. “I want to bring women into this really male-based scene.”

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