Embassy Headlines, Issue 84

Based on evidence currently available the Cannabis legal classification is not tenable; it is inaccurate to claim that Cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.

We now know more about Cannabis as a medicine than regulators know about many of the US-FDA-approved pharmaceuticals that the plant could replace.

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.


HEMP Party president says legal cannabis can cut violence [Northern Star]

The push to curb alcohol-fuelled violence has prompted HEMP Party Australia president Michael Balderstone to call on both the State and Federal governments to consider legalising cannabis. 

Legalising marijuana creates big problems in preventing teen access [SMH]

For someone so opposed to the legalising of cannabis, it must have come as a surprise to neurosurgeon and chief CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta to find himself not only embracing the drug’s medical possibilities, but urging the government to change its hard-line position on the plant.

Australian Crime Commission taskforce seizes $500m in drugs, cash [ABC]

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) is claiming a major victory in its fight against organised crime, with a special covert taskforce seizing more than $500 million in drugs and cash in the last year.

Should we legalise marijuana? [2GB]

Michael McLaren speaks with Dr. Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, who discusses the push to legalise marijuana.

Canapes and cannabis for Denver’s high achievers [SMH]

Relaxing on a plush black leather sofa while waiters supplied canapes of camembert stuffed with fig butter, Candy Nuss, 59, and her sister CynDee Williams, 62, a grandmother of four, were giggling like schoolgirls. Conservatively dressed and bespectacled, they were attending a “cannabis friendly” evening at a high-end art gallery in Denver.

What’s the harm in a puff? [The Wireless]

“What’s your personal history with cannabis?” ask a group of Auckland University of Technology students doing vox pops at the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s cannabis and health symposium. Participants either eagerly tell their story, or look like a deer caught in headlights, nervously inching away from the camera.

The Human Rights Case for Drug Reform [Human Rights Watch]

Nearly every country in the world plays a part—as producer, consumer, or transit point—in the multibillion-dollar illicit drug trade that supplies more than 150 million people every year and keeps on growing. To combat this trade, many countries over recent decades have launched so-called “wars on drugs” that entail crackdowns on participants large and small in the drug business, including harsh penalties for users. Human Rights Watch has long documented the widespread human rights abuses resulting from this approach.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kofi Annan to Discuss Drugs at World Economic Forum Panel[AlterNet]

The World Economic Forum in Davos will host a plenary session on drug policy on Thursday, January 23.  This is the first time that the prestigious gathering has given such prominence to the issue.

The blunt truth — White house drug czar contradicts Obama on marijuana[Washington Times]

President Obama’s latest claims about marijuana are contradicted by research and official positions of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House. And Mr. Obama’s words have anti-drug leaders worried about negative repercussions among youth.

The President Forgets To Lie About Marijuana, And Prohibitionists Are Outraged[Forbes]

Prohibitionists were outraged by President Obama’s recent observation that marijuana is safer than alcohol—not because it is not true but because it contradicts the central myth underlying public support for the war on drugs. According to that myth, certain psychoactive substances are so dangerous that they cannot be tolerated, and the government has scientifically identified them. In reality, the distinctions drawn by our drug laws are arbitrary, and marijuana is the clearest illustration of that fact.

Ending the War on Pot is Obama’s Last Chance for a Legacy [Daily Beast]

Obama says he doesn’t want to end up a forgotten, no-name president. His refreshingly frank comments on marijuana legalization suggest a big way he could make that happen.

6 Things Obama Could Do to Help the Pot Legalization Experiment [Just Say Now]

In a far-reaching interview in the New Yorker President Obama expressed real concern about the racial disparity in marijuana arrests as well as the long sentences. He also said that it is “important” for the legalization experiments in Washington State and Colorado to go forward. The shift in rhetoric is welcome but actions are what matter. If Obama is serious, Congress and the Constitution have vested the Presidency with far reaching powers to advance these issues.

Obama says cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol. He’s wrong: it’s far safer[Telegraph UK]

There are about 2 million regular cannabis users in the UK, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In 2011, six people died in cases where cannabis “was implicated alone”, according to the St George’s University of London annual report, and a further 17 in combination with other substances, including alcohol. Let’s be generous and take the total number, 23. Two million divided by 23 = one death per 86,956 cannabis users. This is almost certainly an overestimate of the true risk.

Colorado congressman invites Obama on pot tour [Cannabist]

It’s one thing if a media-savvy entrepreneur stages a news conference inviting the President of the United States on his Colorado marijuana tour bus. But it’s something else entirely when a member of congress invites the President (and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) to Colorado “to visit a legal dispensary and grow operation to see how the law is being implemented in the state.” 

New Jersey Governor: We Will End the Failed War on Drugs [Drug Policy Alliance]

Governor Chris Christie today took the oath of office for a second term and delivered his inaugural address at the War Memorial in Trenton.  During his inaugural address he called for an end to the drug war and compassion for those suffering from drug addiction.

Legal Marijuana Businesses Should Have Access to Banks [New York Times]

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that lawful marijuana businesses should have access to the American banking system and that the government would soon offer rules to help them gain it. The rules are not expected to give banks a green light to accept deposits and provide other services, but would tell prosecutors not to prioritize cases involving legal marijuana businesses that use banks. 

Majority of Americans now support legal pot, poll says [CBS]

Fifty-one percent say they think the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 44 percent do not.  Public opinion on this issue has changed dramatically over the past few years:  in October 2011 a slight majority (51 percent) opposed making marijuana use legal, and as recently as April 2013 public opinion was divided on this issue (45 percent supported, 45 percent opposed). Interestingly, in July 1979, when CBS News first asked the question, 69 percent thought marijuana use should not be made legal and only 27 percent thought it should be made legal.

As marijuana attitudes shift, this may be a year of legalization [LA Times]

The big question, of course, is why attitudes toward marijuana are shifting now. And the answer, according to pollsters and drug policy experts, is a complicated stew of demographics, personal experience, electoral success and the failure of existing drug policy. To Alison Holcomb, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who wrote the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state, the “enormous jump” in approval of legalization in just a year does not reflect “changes in attitudes about marijuana specifically. Rather, it’s a change in attitudes about whether it’s OK to support marijuana law reform.”

Is Russell Brand right about drug regulation? [UK Cannabis Social Clubs]

Brand who believes in abstinence based drug programs for troubled drug users, exclaims how prohibition is an abhorrent failure and doesn’t work, “it creates a criminal class and a criminal economy” calling it time to address the situation.

Cannabis legalizer wins one million Euro in German TV-Show [Deutsche Hanf Verband]

With the victory of Georg Wurth last Saturday, the German Hemp Association celebrates a big success. The DHV will use the winnings to drive forward the debate about rational ways to deal with cannabis in Germany.

Cannabis Has Been Studied More Than Many FDA Approved Pharmaceuticals [High Times]

Opponents of legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes are fond of arguing that the plant must be subjected to the same standards of clinical study and FDA review as conventional medicines. What they fail to mention is that cannabis and its active components have already been subjected to a greater degree of scientific scrutiny than many FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.

Ex-Broncos wide receiver says marijuana helped him deal with pain [USA Today]

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Nate Jackson spoke with HBO’s Real Sports about the benefits of using marijuana in favor of opiate-based painkillers when dealing with injuries during the season.

Epsilon Apothecaries [epsilonresearch.org]

Volume 1 of the Epsilon Essentials Guide Series covers a novice approach to the creation of three special supplements: tincture extract of cannabis (ToC), essential extract of cannabis (ToC), and supplemental extract of cannabis (SoC). Readers can learn how to create therapeutic grade supplements at home, following in the footsteps of Epsilon’s decade long track record of success in a wide array of cases. The Epsilon Essentials Guides are provided free of charge…all we ask is your respect in return. Please be responsible and be sure to communicate all questions/comments directly via email.

Cannabis oil – a treatment for epilepsy? [Daybreak ITV]

A Manchester family are trying to raise £30,000 so that they can take their seriously epileptic son to Colorado for potentially-miraculous treatment with Cannabis oil. The treatment, not available in the UK, has had a dramatic impact on a fellow sufferers in trials in the US.

Could Cannabis Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis? [Joint Blog]

new study published by the National Institute of Health has found that cannabinoid receptor activation – something done naturally by cannabis – may provide a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term disease that causes inflammation of the joints and tissues.

PTSD Patients Use Pot to Sleep [High Times]

It is often the scarcity of clinical evidence that keeps medical marijuana from being used to treat patients suffering with PTSD. However, researchers say that most people living with this serious anxiety disorder are not scheming for pot as some kind of miracle cure, but as an effective sleep aid.

Parents tout cannabis treatment for kids [9 News Colorado]

They’re known as marijuana refugees: about a hundred families who’ve moved to Colorado to get cannabis treatment for children sick with cancer and epilepsy. 

More Moms Losing Kids in US Family Court Drug Wars [Women’s News]

At the same time that Colorado opened its doors to the legal sale of marijuana on Jan. 1 and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomoproposed loosening marijuana laws, there’s a different reality for many pregnant and parenting women caught consuming drugs. In the curtained world of family courts and child service protection agencies, women across the country face punishments for drug use. These include removal of children to foster care, repeated visits by government employees, home searches, mandated drug tests, unwanted court appearances and even forced detention. 

Is cannabis addictive? [Same Facts]

Note how the mythology of “addiction” cultivated by the “drug-prevention” effort and the drug-treatment industry interferes with understanding. Most drug abuse is very unlike the horrible picture painted in the linked story: it’s relatively transient. And most people who use “addictive” drugs don’t get addicted to them; substance abuse happens to only a minority of users, and only a minority of abusers actually have the “chronic, relapsing disorder” touted as typical. Bad habits around drug-taking are like other bad habits: they lie along a spectrum, and not everyone who uses a drug that turns out to be habit-forming in others encounters a problem.

Does Your Babysitter Smoke Pot? [NORML Blog]

America has turned the corner on the possession of marijuana. No one wants it to be a crime anymore. Welcome to the party. You can now come out of the closet. Legalization, education and regulation have always made so much sense. It has worked with alcohol and tobacco and the use and consumption of both is down across America. I don’t want to fool you. It is not that the world is pro-weed. Everyone is just anti-prohibition.

Entheogenesis Australis YouTube Channel Launched! [entheo.net]

EGA is very excited to announce the launch of the Entheogenesis Australis (EGA) YouTube channel providing more than 20 lectures from past conferences and more! It is our hope that this educational channel will help to broaden the discussion around psychedelic plants and compounds within Australia, as well as around the world, and provide a realistic context for the role that drugs and altered states play in the modern world. EGA YouTube channel link . Also included on the channel is a fantastic short film exploring the beauty, wonder, artistic vision and unique community of the EGA gathering. The best browser in which to view YouTube is Google Chrome. Set your quality level as high as you can manually, as it will not default to the maximum. The channel presents lectures from a host of Australian and international leaders in their fields: Rick Doblin, Dennis McKenna, Fire and Earth Erowid, Keeper Trout, Owsley “Bear” Stanley, Robert Jesse, Alex Wodak, and Des Tramacchi.

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