Embassy Headlines, Issue 88

Cannabis experts in Nimbin have discovered that prohibition only increases the price of weed which gives incentive to growers.

Supplying marijuana also helps the local economy in providing jobs in tourism, the tertiary sector and law enforcement industries. Growth forecasts continue to outstrip expectations for profit in the unregulated and untaxed Cannabis commodity market.

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.


False message in a bottle: the hypocrisy of sport sponsorship [Canberra Times]

According to Channel Seven’s David Koch, Corby’s nine years of imprisonment isn’t punishment enough. Koch said: ”I reckon we should have nothing to do with her as a network. Totally disagree with paying a convicted drug smuggler $2 million.” This kind of hysteria appears farcical in light, of say, Victoria Bitter’s alcohol sponsorship of the national cricket team, of which Clarke is the captain. When a drug is socially acceptable, it’s apparently completely conscionable to promote it via the medium of professional sport. Tobacco sponsorship of sport is now banned. But cigarette companies have been replaced by fast food empires and alcohol brands emblazoned across the chests of our sporting stars and broadcast into living rooms the world over. The irony has become so glaring it’s difficult to make eye contact with it.

More than 41 per cent of South Australians support legalising cannabis — for medicinal use only [Advertiser]

The survey of 2094 people found 41.6 per cent approved of the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes only. See results of the advertiser.com.au survey Just over a quarter of respondents, 26.2 per cent, said cannabis should be legalised for recreational use, and 32.2 per cent said cannabis should not be legalised at all. Alan Salt from the Hemp Embassy said the growing acceptance of cannabis is part of a global trend.

Refer Cannabis Industry to Productivity Commission [Sex Party]

The Australian Sex Party wants the Productivity Commission to examine the total economic effect of legalising and regulating all forms of Cannabis, as well as the hemp industry. Sex Party President, Fiona Patten said that apart from raising an estimated $1 – $2 billion a year from legalising and taxing marijuana, the potential bonanza from hemp products in the market place was not well understood in government. The hemp industry last week announced their fight to have HEMP foods legally recognised. This industry already generates $13 million in trade for Australia. It is estimated that the demand for hemp food products will quadruple this year if they get approval. Hemp farming also uses much less water than cotton and could remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Fighting drugs a complex issue [Daily Telegraph]

As a 33-year career police officer, I am neither a promoter of illicit drug use nor an apologist for illicit drug users. The fervent nature of Miranda Devine’s article (It’s high time to end drug culture, Daily Telegraph, February 8 2014), however, prompted me to comment. The issue of illicit drugs is difficult and complex but it really is high time we started discussing the question of illicit drugs unemotionally and realistically, and that informed people began really trying to make a difference. Ms Devine is right to say that Hollywood glamorises illicit drugs and shouldn’t, but, equally, wider society demonises and criminalises illicit drug users when the very vast majority of such users are simply victims. Without in any way wishing to minimise the illicit drug use problem, my experience tells me that Ms Devine is on shaky ground when claiming that the rises and falls in drug use in Australia are due to cycles of tough and laissez faire governments.

Colorado Governor Set To Release Those Convicted On Marijuana Related Charges, Expunge Records [National Report]

Gov. John W. Hickenlooper (D) has proposed a bill that would have a major impact on the criminal justice system.  Under the new bill, convicts currently serving time on marijuana related charges will be released and the crime expunged from their records. In Colorado alone, more than 10,000 people were arrested annually for marijuana possession according to a recent study by researchers with the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, a drug policy-reform group.  The study finds that Colorado has seen 240,000 marijuana possession arrests in the state over the past 25 years with nearly a quarter of all arrests coming in the five years between 2006 and 2010. The plan proposed by Gov. Hickenlooper would free those currently serving and simply seal all records of ‘personal’ pot possession. Sealing the records effectively makes the arrest disappear to background checks.  This doesn’t just impact the offender in Colorado, it prevents that record from showing up no matter where that user goes – even if pot is illegal in the state, making it easier for former convicts to find employment. 

Marijuana’s rising acceptance comes after many failures. Is it now legalization’s time?[Washington Post]

Across a vast outdoor plaza lined with hundreds of booths, this month’s Cannabis Cup gathering in Southern California has attracted more than 10,000 visitors at $40 a ticket. By midafternoon, some of them are sprawled on overstuffed couches that merchants have thoughtfully provided. Others move from booth to booth, sampling wares from businesses that have risen from the underground economy to create a burgeoning industry of hazy legality. Vendors hawk brightly colored candies, chocolate bars, slickly designed jars of gourmet peanut butter — all infused with weed. Smokers sample e-cigarettes, vaporizers and the latest in bongs and glassware. Agricultural firms display industrial-sized machinery for harvesting plants, electronics firms offer a dazzling array of grow lights, and everywhere, growers lovingly explain the virtues of dozens of plant strains such as Gorilla Glue, Silver Haze and Crystal Coma. All in a state where marijuana is not yet quite legal, and all without a single police officer to be seen.

Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales [NY Times]

For Colorado’s new flock of recreational marijuana growers and sellers, Thursday was Tax Day — their first deadline to hand over the taxes they had collected during their inaugural month of sales. And as store owners stuffed cash into lockboxes and made the nervous trek to government offices, new budget numbers predicted that those marijuana taxes could add more than $100 million a year to state coffers, far more than earlier estimates. The figures offered one of the first glimpses into how the bustling market for recreational marijuana was beginning to reshape government bottom lines — an important question as marijuana advocates push to expand legalization beyond Colorado and Washington State into states including Arizona, Alaska and Oregon.

New details emerge on Colorado marijuana operators raided by feds [Denver Post]

On Nov. 21 2013, federal agents executed search warrants on 14 businesses and two homes in the largest raid ever on Colorado’s medical marijuana industry, rousting a part-time manager as he got his children ready for school in Nederland and busting down doors in Denver. Sources told The Denver Post that the raids were chasing possible connections to Colombian drug cartels, although investigators haven’t publicly accused any of the businesses of wrongdoing. The raids gutted grow warehouses, cost businesses millions in inventory, and forced owners to close stores and lay off employees, although many of the businesseshave since reopened. The government has identified a dozen people in the ongoing investigation. All but one is connected to a chain of five medical marijuana dispensaries and about a half-dozen marijuana grows.

Bill allowing hemp use for seizure treatment clears first hurdle [KSL Utah]

Parents of epileptic children hugged and cried Friday after a House committee voted 8-2 to recommend a bill that would allow cannabis extract in Utah for seizure treatment. HB105 would legalize possession and use of hemp oil extract, non-intoxicating cannabis oil taken from marijuana plants, to help children and individuals suffering from seizures. Nearly 100,000 Utahns suffer from epilepsy, and about 33,000 have seizures that are difficult to control, according to the Epilepsy Association of Utah. 

South Carolina Bill May Legalize A Form of Medical Marijuana [MJ News Network]

A chemical in the marijuana leaf may soon be legalized in South Carolina thanks to a bill introduced by Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort county. It would allow doctors to prescribe what’s called “CBD oil” to treat people with epilepsy. In a written statement, Senator Davis says, “You can’t get high on it and it has no street value, and it makes zero sense to legally prohibit doctors from prescribing something that would relieve their patients’ suffering.”

Cannabis Cure for Bad Dreams? [Liberty Voice]

Talking with different managers from some of the most popular dispensaries in and around the Seattle Washington area about some of the reasons their customers or patients were using Marijuana. We found that a vast amount of them were in fact using cannabis to aid them in the in the area of sleeping. Some claimed to use it to get through the night for pain related issues that prevent them from achieving a good night’s rest. Surprisingly we were also able to discover that a good number of the people reported on were additionally using the herb as a combatant to unpleasant dreams otherwise known as nightmares. Some users told reporters that they “used to have terrible dreams, and very often,” until they started using cannabis before going to sleep. Some folks stated that the dreams just seemed to ‘fade away.”

People should be allowed to grow pot just like vegetables [The Province]

Imagine the government told you that starting next month you could no longer pick the apples off the tree in your front yard. That if you harvest the cherries or plums or peaches in the back yard or eat the strawberries and blueberries and raspberries in your garden or a local park you will go to jail. Instead of being able to plant seeds, the government is now forcing you to purchase all of your nutritional needs from their large scale authorized commercial production facilities. If this seems far-fetched and preposterous to you, consider this. The federal government just told 40,000 licensed medical marijuana patients that they can no longer grow their own plant medicine and must buy it from authorized commercial production facilities or go to jail. Many will be unable to afford the commercially produced medicine, which is expected to cost three to 10 times as much.

Cannabis Could Be The Source of Future Biofuels & Cooking Oils [Higher Perspective]

Scientists have successfully boosted the energy output of the cannabis plant to create a viable alternative to rapeseed and olive oil. A team of researchers at the University of York have reported the breakthrough by dramatically increasing the content of oleic acid in hemp. The new oil profile results in an attractive cooking oil that is similar to olive oil in terms of fatty acid content having a much longer shelf life as well as greater heat tolerance and potentially more industrial applications.

Eight Cannabis Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2014 [Cannabis Now]

By now we’ve heard the cannabis movement described as a Green Rush, an unprecedented point in the nation’s history where, at least in Washington and Colorado thus far, America is embracing legalized cannabis commerce. And green stands for ganja just as much as it does the greenbacks marijuana and marijuana culture can generate in both the recreational and medical marketplaces. Like its golden metaphorical counterpoint, those planning for success in hopes of getting rich quick on an herb cultivated for thousands of years may equally find success or failure. This article includes a list, in no particular order, of some top cannabis entrepreneurs.

Cannabis can kill without the influence of other drugs [New Scientist]

The first full post-mortems of people who died after smoking cannabis suggest that the drug can kill unaided. Benno Hartung of University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany and his colleagues conducted post-mortems on 15 people whose deaths were linked to cannabis use. To rule out other factors that might have contributed to death, such as alcohol use or liver disease, they performed numerous tests, including an autopsy, a toxicology exam, genetic tests and histological analysis of all organs. “It’s a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities,” says Hartung. Two of the deaths could not be attributed to anything but cannabis intoxication. Both were men who died of cardiac arrhythmia – when the heart beats too quickly or slowly. The team surmises that this was triggered by smoking cannabis. Both men had enough THC – an active chemical in cannabis – in their blood to suggest they had taken cannabis within hours of death. Neither had a history of cardiovascular problems or channelopathies – diseases that increase the risk of heart problems by affecting ion channels. “We did every test we could,” says Hartung.

Girl Scout sells cookies outside California marijuana dispensary [Brisbane Times]

One 13-year-old Girl Scout in San Francisco and her mother made a rather business-savvy decision to sell cookies outside of a medical marijuana dispensary. On Monday, Danielle Lei and her mother set up shop outside the Green Cross store with the cookies. With the store’s blessing, Lei sold 117 boxes in two hours. The Girl Scouts of Colorado issued a tweet expressing their disapproval of the situation. “If you are wondering, we don’t allow our Girl Scouts to sell cookies in front of marijuana shops or liquor stores/bars” read the tweet.

With 22 Military Veterans Killing Themselves Every Day, Cannabis University Trains Vets to Grow, Sell and Advocate for Pot Medicine [AlterNet]

Jacobs, the mother of a soldier who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, has been advocating nationally for veteran access to cannabis for the last decade. She hosts a veterans information show on KSCO radio in Santa Cruz, and founded the local nonprofit Not This Time Vets in 2005 in hopes of helping new generations of veterans avoid the “inadequate care” she felt Vietnam war veterans received. She established a new branch of the organization in December 2012 called Veterans Growing Victory (VGV), focused on connecting vets with the cannabis and hemp industries. 

Restrictions on marijuana advertising violate First Amendment [Denver Post]

Rules written last year by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division for retail marijuana advertising are unconstitutional and have been ripe for a court challenge, which came last week when the publishers of High Times and Westword filed suit in federal court. Under the published rules approved in September, marijuana advertising is prohibited in almost every medium that has an audience of at least 30 percent minors. That means no ads on television, print, radio, Internet or billboards that could be seen by people under 21.

These Countries Mull Over Marijuana Legalization After Uruguay Ruling [Huffington Post]

The marijuana legalization experiments underway in Washington state, Colorado and Uruguay have prompted or accelerated discussion about changing pot laws in many nations, and activists say momentum is building in advance of a special United Nations convention on drugs scheduled for 2016. This article has a look at how some countries are rethinking their approach to marijuana: Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, and The Netherlands.

Jose Mujica To United States: Legalize Weed [Huffington Post]

The president of Uruguay wants more countries to legalize weed. Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, President José Mujica called on the United States and Europe to follow his government’s lead by legalizing marijuana. “The industrial societies are the ones that have to change,” Mujica told Reuters. “For a small country, it’s possible to experiment with this, but it’s also very possible for a developed country because of the resources it has … Until things change there, it will be very difficult to change elsewhere.”

Mexico City legislators move to relax cannabis laws [The Guardian]

Leftwing legislators have tabled measures to relax regulations on marijuana possession and sale in the capital, as well as proposals for federal reforms that could increase permitted quantities and encourage other states to follow suit.The initiatives, proposed by the leftwing Party of the Democratic Revolution – which governs in the capital and represents the third force in the federal congress – are the latest example of a region-wide rethink of the prohibition approach to the war on drugs. While comparatively cautious on paper, the Mexican version brings the debate to a country battered by extreme violence unleashed by the government’s attempts to take the war to the drug cartels. “Seventy thousand dead, 26,000 disappeared, and an incalculable number of internally displaced are more than sufficient reason to look for an alternative model,” federal congressman Fernando Belaunzarán told reporters this week.

Medicinal dagga plea is timely [The Citizen]

Cancer-stricken South African MP Mario Ambrosini’s heartfelt plea for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes comes at a time when use of the drug is increasing becoming acceptable worldwide.

Marijuana mayhem affects French cops [Digital Journal]

It seems that police officers in the French city of Roubaix have a problem. They have been doing their job a little too well. Having seized such large quantities of illegal marijuana and hashish, they now have too much stored in their evidence locker. So much indeed that it’s starting to have its effect on them. Apparently the 40 kilos which is currently being stored in the police station is giving off a bit of a funky odor, which has now made its insidious way into both the ground and first floor of the building. Some officers working there have even tested positive for traces of the drug, according to a local police union official Fabrice Danel.

Documentary: Bringing it Home

A father’s search to find the healthiest building materials leads him to the completion of the nation’s first hemp house. Hemp with lime is a non-toxic, energy efficient, mildew, fire and pest resistant building material. The drawback — industrial hemp is currently illegal to farm in the U.S.A.  Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive plant, grown in 31 other countries that makes 1,000′s of sustainable products and offers solutions for global warming, nutrition, poverty and deforestation.  Here in the U.S., hemp could be a money-making crop for farmers and create jobs. But why can’t we grow it here? BRINGING IT HOME tells the story of hemp: past, present and future and a global industry that includes textiles, building materials, food products, bio-plastics, auto parts and more.

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