Embassy Headlines, Issue 9

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy is always trying to get the good news out there. Michael Balderstone provides his selection of news stories relating to the War on Drugs and Cannabis law reform issues, every week with the HEMP Embassy Headlines.


Tasmania considers phasing out cigarette sales


The Tasmanian Government is considering ruling out banning tobacco sales to people born after 2000, in the wake of a vote in the state’s Upper House last night. Legislative Council member Ivan Dean wants to make it illegal for people born after 2000 to buy tobacco once they turn 18 – meaning they would never legally be able to buy cigarettes. The proposal was passed unanimously by the Upper House on Tuesday night. The move comes a week after the tobacco industry lost a High Court challenge to stop the Commonwealth’s introduction of plain packaging.

Northern Territory: CLP wants alcoholic offender prison farms


The ABC can reveal the Country Liberal Party opposition in the Northern Territory plans to introduce prison farms for chronic alcoholic offenders. The CLP’s policy also calls for the possible scrapping of restrictions on alcohol sales and reinstatement of poker machines in social clubs in some communities. But one doctor has described the plan as “dangerous” and says if it is implemented, the policy would cause more alcohol-related deaths.

Queensland: Fears home brew rife in ‘dry’ communities


An Indigenous health group says the Queensland Government needs to take responsibility for a thriving black market for illegal alcohol in some ‘dry’ communities. Health workers say home-brewed alcohol, often made by fermenting cordials or Vegemite, is common on Mornington Island, in north-west Queensland, even though it has been a dry community for several years. Selwyn Button from the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council says it is far from an isolated case.

South Australia: Scientists can now block heroin, morphine addiction


In a major breakthrough, an international team of scientists has proven that addiction to morphine and heroin can be blocked, while at the same time increasing pain relief. The team from the University of Adelaide and University of Colorado has discovered the key mechanism in the body’s immune system that amplifies addiction to opioid drugs.

Colombia: Chocolate losing to cocaine as cocoa prices slump


Cocaine is proving a more resilient commodity than chocolate in Colombia, the largest supplier of the narcotic to the U.S. Prices of cocoa beans, used to make chocolate, have dropped 40 per cent this year in Colombia, South America’s third-largest supplier, as the cost of leaves processed into cocaine holds steady, according to data compiled by police and growers.

USA: Scott McKenzie dies; his ‘San Francisco’ caught flower-power wave


Singer Scott McKenzie worked with John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas and had a 1967 hit with ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).’ The song is often described as a ‘flower-power anthem,’ but he was uncomfortable with being an icon to the movement.

UK: Yet another reformed sinner declares he knows what is best for everyone else


“Comedian” Russell Brand has become a high-profile advocate for the need to treat addicts through rehabilitation programmes, with the ultimate aim of making them drug-free. Current government policy is to prescribe users methadone, a synthetic opioid, in the hope that they will gradually be able to reduce their intake of illegal drugs without experiencing traumatic withdrawal symptoms. “We might as well let people carry on taking drugs if they’re going to be on methadone,” Brand says. “Obviously it’s painful to abstain, but at least it’s hope-based.”

USA: Is Scientology’s Narconon Killing Patients?


With seven deaths since 2005, Scientology’s Narconon flagship may finally face criminal charges. The bigger scandal is that faith-based addiction programs are embraced as primary treatment. Where does that leave AA?

Mexican drug war’s innocent victims: ‘They tried to kill me with my kids’


Claims that 90% of Mexican drug war victims are criminals is a statistic far removed from Cristina Roman’s experience in a country where police and military have fallen into corruption.

Grandmas Grow Gold in Swaziland


PIGGS PEAK, Swaziland — After her daughters died, Khathazile took in her 11 orphaned grandchildren without hesitation. It is what a gogo, or grandmother, does in a country where the world’s highest H.I.V. infection rate has left a sea of motherless children. “God will help us,” she said. Perhaps. But Khathazile has some insurance in case divine intervention fails: Swazi Gold, a highly potent and valuable strain of marijuana that is sought after in the thriving drug market of next-door South Africa. In a field deep in the forest, atop a distant hill in this arid corner of tiny Swaziland, Khathazile grows Swazi Gold to keep her growing brood of grandchildren fed, clothed and in school.  “Without weed, we would be starving,” explained Khathazile, who asked that only her middle name be used.


USA: Caravan for Peace Calls for an End to the Drug War


On August 12, where the wall between Mexico and the U.S. meets the Pacific Ocean, acclaimed Mexican poet Javier Sicilia and busloads of people who are fed up with the drug war launched the Caravan for Peace. Over the next several weeks, the Caravan will travel to 25 different U.S. cities with the goal of starting a serious national dialogue about the failure of drug prohibition.


Human Testing of Illicit Drugs – The Highs and Lows


Should governments make it easier to perform human research to discover medical uses of illicit drugs such as cannabis, MDMA and LSD? On the risk-benefit side, drugs which have been used widely for millennia, such as cannabis, are considered safe enough to test. There is solid scientific evidence to pursue this and government commissioned expert reports in the UK, USA and Australia have consistently recommended such research be undertaken.

This Is Your Art On Drugs


Every day, artist Brian Lewis Saunders would take a different drug and draw his self-portrait. Don’t try this at home. For more, visit his website.

On Drugs and Democracy


The UN Office of Drug Control (UNODC) has thoroughly documented the violence, crime, and corruption linked with the worldwide heroin and opium trade. The U.S. news media report every day on the mayhem and corruption of government officials caused by the drug wars in Mexico, Colombia, and other points south of our border. In Afghanistan, the Taliban tax the opium trade and protect poppy farmers from eradication, fueling the insurgency and our 11-year war. However, these problems are all consequences of drug prohibition, not of the drugs themselves. In legal terms, drugs are malum prohibitum (wrong because prohibited by law) rather than malum in se (inherently wrong, such as theft or murder). During the U.S. experiment with Prohibition (1920-1933), alcohol was malum prohibitum; as soon as it was legalized, it again became a normal regulated, traded, and taxed consumer product.

Book Review:  What Dr Oliver Sacks Learned From Hallucinogens


Many high profile scientists have been calling for more open discussion of the possible benefits from psychedelic use. A new addition to that list is famed neurologist/psychologistDr. Oliver Sacks, author of a number of bestsellers such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, and who was portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie Awakenings. In a recent interview he notes how psychedelic use has allowed him to be more empathic towards his patients, although in the second half of the video he also warns of the dangers of other types of drugs, such as amphetamines.

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