Embassy Headlines, Issue 87

The same law that provides a profit incentive for criminals and law enforcement can be changed to provide a profit incentive for big business and high finance. Health and human rights issues don’t have the same appeal as money.

Jump into the weed industry and quit your job as a dealer or at the DEA.

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.


Let me trial medicinal marijuana, says dying man [Examiner]

The McGrath family have  been going through hell for the past seven months as they deal with father-of-three Clem McGrath’s brain cancer, which has spread aggressively. Doctors have given him only a few months to live and Mrs McGrath wants the option of getting him medicinal marijuana, in oil form, to see if it can help. Yet under Australian law the plant’s cultivation, distribution and use is classed as illegal, even if it’s purely for medical purposes.

Pot can produce high times for farmers [Townsville Bulletin]

Cannabis could be North Queensland’s next major cash crop if the illicit substance was legalised in Australia, according to an MP. Dawson MP George Christensen has ignited controversy after he wrote on social media this week that he was irritated with the double standards over restricting smoking versus a relaxed attitude to pot.

Local company can sell hemp food across world – but not here [Coffs Coast Advocate]

A local hemp food company’s products are sold all over the world, but don’t try to eat them here in Australia – it’s still against the law. Bangalow-based Hemp Foods Australia, which started in 1999, manufactures a range of supplements for the health foods sector such as hulled hemp seeds, seed oil, and protein powder. In 2011 it opened a small production facility and has expanded to larger premises twice since – tripling its size last financial year – and now employs seven full-time staff and 30 contractors.

Drug war absurdity: Australian edition [Crikey]

Well, there’s certainly a double standard, but I don’t think it runs the way Christensen seems to think. Tobacco smokers face excise taxes, some legal restrictions and (sometimes) a degree of social ostracism. Marijuana smokers face complete legal prohibition, the threat of criminal prosecution, fines and jail, and the need to source their drug from the criminal underworld.

Uruguay’s president nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for legalizing marijuana [RT]

The president of Uruguay has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. According to his advocates, José “Pepe” Mujica’s much talked-about marijuana legalization is in fact “a tool for peace and understanding.” For the second year in a row, the Drugs Peace Institute, which has supported Mujica’s marijuana legalization drive since 2012, insisting that the consumption of marijuana should be protected as a human right.

Drugs policy: we must reform legislation, the question is how [The Observer]

I agree with your editorial (“Time for Britain and the rest of Europe to join the drugs debate“) that the call by Nick Clegg for the UK and the EU to engage in the debate about drug policy reform deserves strong cross-party support (“The lesson from Latin America: we need to rethink the drugs war“). This is the first time that a British minister in office has said what others have believed but waited until retirement to say. (Yes, I was one of the officials who also waited.) Nick Clegg has done so on returning from Colombia, and after conversations with President Juan Manuel Santos, who was the first president in office to call for debate on the UN drugs regime – in an interview in the Observer in 2011.

Are we witnessing the tipping point in the drug debate? [Politics UK]

We’ve never had it so good. Those fighting for reform of Britain’s drug laws can feel the ground moving beneath their feet.  There is a sense that a tipping point is being reached, a critical mass of opposition, with influential advocates in the right place at the right time. Drug law reformers have a noticeable spring in their step.

18 Congress Members Ask Obama to Loosen Ridiculous U.S. Marijuana Regulations[AlterNet]

Encouraged by the President’s recent comments to the New Yorker on how cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol, 18 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reschedule marijuana.

Marijuana backers hit a political chord [Boston Globe]

Not long ago, Allen St. Pierre couldn’t get an audience with many politicians. When he tried to send them campaign contributions, the checks were returned. His efforts to persuade the political establishment to take seriously the legalization of marijuana were met with blank stares, or worse. But now lawmakers are beating a path to his door for meetings and advice, hoping to harness this new energy behind an issue that had been on the fringe of American politics. The once-quixotic goal of St. Pierre’s group — NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws — is now one of Washington’s most-discussed issues. Representatives of an array of potential presidential candidates have contacted him, asking for meetings to seek NORML’s endorsement and tap its donor base. Campaign checks are being cashed at a greater rate.

Hawaii Legislature Considering Three Marijuana Bills [MPP]

On Thursday, February 13, the Senate Committees on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, and Commerce and Consumer Protection will meet to hear three marijuana-related bills. Two of these bills will bring needed sensibility to Hawaii’s marijuana laws, while the third would erode patient protections and needs to be pushed back against.

The drug war’s profit motive [Washington Post]

It may at first seem odd that police groups would so vigorously oppose medical pot. These aren’t medical organizations. They have no clear stake in the debate over the drug’s potential therapeutic benefits. According to the article, the police groups say they’re concerned about public safety, but we’ve been living with medical pot for nearly 20 years now, and there’s no empirical data to support the contention that legal medical marijuana brings an increase in crime. If you’re a fan of public choice theory, you might argue that narcotics cops may oppose any move toward legalization because a decrease in the demand for and supply of illegal pot might mean a decrease in need for narcotics cops to police it. And of course there will always be a supply of and trade in other illicit drugs to keep them busy. So why such strident opposition? Rep. Melin has discovered what drug policy reformershave been arguing for years: It’s about revenue. Police agencies have a strong financial incentive to keep the drug war churning. 

Pot Businesses Allowed to Open Accounts With U.S. Banks [Bloomberg]

The U.S. government took a step toward legitimizing the marijuana industry, allowing U.S. banks to offer accounts and other services to businesses in states where medical or recreational pot sales are legal. The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued guidelines for banks intended to reduce the danger that sellers face in operating an all-cash business. The rules would also give law enforcement more information about marijuana business activity, the agency said yesterday in a statement

Italy court overturns law equating cannabis with heroin [BBC]

Italy’s constitutional court has overturned a law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating and possessing cannabis, declaring it “illegitimate”. Prison rights group Antigone say the law has caused prison overcrowding, with 40% of all inmates serving sentences for drug crimes. It could affect some 10,000 people who may be released from jail as a result.

Weed Could Block H.I.V.’s Spread [Daily Beast]

On a warm summer day in Chicago at the International Cannabinoid Research Conference, hundreds of marijuana researchers were giggling. It wasn’t the groundbreaking research they’d just heard—proving the ability of THC, one of the active ingredients in marijuana, to stave off HIV (or RIV in monkeys)—that did it. Nor was it the author of the study, Dr. Patricia E. Molina, who had them laughing. It was the rogue researcher daring enough to taint the victory with a harsh dose of reality: “What’s next, testing this on humans?”

We Need Proof on Marijuana [New York Times]

To foster research, we need to change compounds derived from marijuana from Schedule 1 to a less restrictive category. It is troubling that while few barriers exist for parents to give their children marijuana in Colorado, there are significant federal roadblocks preventing doctors from studying it in a rigorous scientific manner.

Drug Trafficking Poses Surprising Threats to Rain Forests, Scientists Find [National Geographic]

McSweeney says her research should spur scientists to think differently about the illegal drug trade. “Natural scientists have for a long time felt that drug policy has nothing to do with them, but we need them to join the conversation,” she says. In their paper, the scientists argue that rethinking the war on drugs could yield important ecological benefits.

Potential Danger Behind Marijuana Edibles [Weedist]

I’ve always been impressed with how many things THC can be infused in to. I’ve seen hard candies, chex-mix, all manner of cookie, cake, and brownie; I’ve heard of THC-infused soda, tea, cheese and oils, and even beef jerkey. All this sounds just great, but there is a potential danger behind having so many different types of edibles. An article from ABC news touched on this and made some great points.

Mystery of ‘the munchies’ revealed: Cannabis use heightens sense of smell and taste[Daily Mail UK]

Raiding the cupboards for food is a well-known effect of smoking cannabis. But for years, scientists have been unable to understand why cannabis’ active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes such a powerful surge in appetite. Now a European study has revealed that people get ‘the munchies’ after using marijuana because their sense of smell and taste is heightened. 

Review: Tea devotees will appreciate this Colorado coffee blend [Cannabist]

Tea and chai lovers will find something special in Happy Heart Hemp Coffee, a handmade Colorado product in which roasted and shelled hemp seeds are blended with organic coffee beans.

Miley Cyrus Breaks Out Marijuana Outfit for New Tour [CelebStoner]

Miley Cyrus opened her latest tour last night in Vancouver. Among the many outfits and stage props was a custom-made leotard dotted with pot leaves and a large gold marijuana medallion. Cyrus tweeted a photo here.

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