Embassy Headlines, Issue 90

Unfortunately for the sick and dying there’s more profit in keeping them that way. Children with epilepsy, veterans with PTSD and countless others who suffer will have to keep suffering until prohibition is repealed.

Is stopping people from getting ‘high’ really more important than treating disease?

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.


Father and Daughter Stand for HEMP in WA  [HEMP Party]

The Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party has nominated a father and daughter, James and Tayla Moylan, to be their Senate Candidates in Western Australia. Mr Moylan, outlined the approach the HEMP Party is taking to the re-run of the WA Poll.

Leon Ozolins jailed for using cannabis for solace from a form of leukaemia reopens debate on medicinal marijuana [News South Australia]

Wanting to ease the pain of his cancer-stricken wife, Leon Ozolins turned their Parafield Gardens home into a marijuana plantation. Though the dope helped Brigitte endure the severe side-effects of chemotherapthy, she eventually succumbed to Hodgkin’s lymphoma — and then Ozolins discovered he, too, had cancer. Like his wife before him, he turned to weed for solace from a form of leukaemia, only to be arrested and charged with drug offences. Now Ozolins is serving a two-year jail term — and his imprisonment has reopened the debate on medicinal marijuana.

My eight-year-old daughter needs medical marijuana, says Mark Elliott [Adelaide Now]

Imagine, for a moment, watching your child suffer through dozens of seizures a week. Then imagine hearing of a treatment sanctioned overseas that has worked wonders for children with epilepsy as serious as your little girl’s, so serious that conventional treatments and drugs offer little help. It has brought them back to life. Then imagine being told that if you use it you will go to jail. This is Mark Elliott’s reality. His daughter, Charlotte, 8, has febrile infection-related epileptic syndrome (FIRES) and at her worst can suffer through up to 40 seizures a week. He is campaigning for the use of medical marijuana — in the form of Cannabidiol, which has been distilled from the plant and has no psychoactive properties — to be legalised in South Australia. “It has been proven to reduce seizures where other medicines have been found to be ineffective,’’ Mr Elliott said.

SA Liberals, Labor quiet on medicinal marijuana issue [Herald Sun]

Party leaders have sidestepped the controversial issue of medical marijuana, in the wake of the heartbreaking story of a father campaigning for its use to help treat his eight year-old daughter’s epilepsy. However, some state MPs said they would not discount looking at liberalising medical marijuana use as more research into its use is conducted. An Advertiser online poll at the weekend showed that an overwhelming 94 per cent of people in supported the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Cannabis OK’d for treatment of epilepsy in children [Times of Israel]

Israeli children suffering from severe and frequent epileptic seizures and whose medication has proven ineffective will be eligible for medicinal cannabis, the Health Ministry ruled on Wednesday. The 15 families who had appealed to the ministry threatened to move to Colorado should their requests be denied.

Medical marijuana refugees: ‘This was our only hope’ [CNN]

They’ve come from as far away as Australia and Canada, or as close as Oklahoma. They are of different backgrounds and ages, but they’ve all moved to Colorado for the same thing: medical marijuana to treat their sick children.

THCA Tincture Works Just As Well As CBD For Pediatric Seizures. Here’s How To Make It[Toke Signals]

Demonizing THC is just silly, because it’s one of the best, most non-toxic of anti- inflammatories, anti-tumor agents, antioxidants, and neuroprotectants known. We can fight seizures just as effectively with uncarboxylated THC — that is, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, THC acid or THCA — as we can with CBD. Furthermore, THCA is no more psychoactive than is CBD, thus allaying parental concerns about getting their children high. No psychoactive effects are experienced from THCA that hasn’t been carboxylated to THC. THCA is one of the cannabinoids primarily found in fresh cannabis, although in variable amounts, according to CannLabs.  In contrast to the specialized, low-THC/high CBD plants needed to make CBD extracts, any high-THC cannabis strain can be used to make THCA tincture

Touring the marijuana facility growing plants to save children’s lives [AlJazeera America]

We met Jesse Stanley at the Denver lab for the operation he runs with his siblings, Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises. Far from high-tech, the Stanleys’ facility extracts cannabidiol (CBD) oil from plants imported from their dispensary in Colorado Springs. Jesse is passionate about the work his family does in providing epileptic children and other sick patients, including people struggling with cancer, with medicinal marijuana. From a conservative Christian family, the Stanley brothers don’t fit the stereotypical hippie image some people may associate with pot growers. In fact, five of the six brothers were working in the oil fields of Texas prior to starting and eventually building one of the largest grow facilities in the state of Colorado. Initially, the decision to grow pot under what was then Colorado’s new medicinal marijuana laws was a business move. The oldest Stanley brother saw an opportunity to make money. However, as the brothers began to treat more and more sick people, they became believers. Meeting Charlotte Figi tipped the scales.

Minister’s daughter: Cannabis ‘a gift from God’ [CNN]

While some in the religious community may take issue with Curry’s interpretation of the Bible, the scientific foundation for cannabis as a medical treatment, especially as it relates to treating pain, is solid. Pain is the most common condition for which medical cannabis is taken, and one of the few for which there is promising clinical data in humans. According to doctors who prescribe cannabis for pain, the current wave of U.S. legalization is bringing an unintended side effect: a greatly-reduced need, and in some cases complete cessation, of opioid-based prescription medications.

Who Uses Medical Marijuana, And Why? [Weedist]

I came across an interesting article the other day that crunches some numbers about medical marijuana users in Nevada. Since Nevada is my home state, I was naturally interested. I know Nevada medical marijuana patients are only one piece of the pie, but these numbers still provide some valuable insight into who makes use of medical cannabis, and what they use it for. The vast majority use cannabis for pain management.

Providers of Medical Marijuana Face New Fears [NY Times]

The legalization of recreational marijuana for adults in Washington state, approved by voters in 2012 and now being phased in, is proving an unexpectedly anxious time for the users, growers and dispensers of medical marijuana, who came before and in many ways paved the way for marijuana’s broader acceptance. In the 16 years since medical marijuana became legal here, an entire ecosystem of neighborhood businesses and cooperative gardens took root. Medical users could also start gardens in their backyards and keep large amounts of marijuana at home. It was all very folksy — and virtually unregulated. Now the state is moving to bring that loosely regulated world, with its echoes of hippie culture, into the tightly controlled and licensed commercial system being created for recreational marijuana, which goes on sale this summer. (The first license to grow marijuana was issued on Wednesday.) This week, the Legislature is debating bills that would reduce the amount of the drug that patients can possess or grow, eliminate collective gardens under which most dispensaries operate, require medical users (unlike recreational users) to register with the state and mandate that all marijuana be sold only by new licensees, effectively shutting down the medical dispensary system.

Gupta: ‘I am doubling down’ on medical marijuana [CNN]

It’s been eight months since I last wrote about medical marijuana, apologizing for having not dug deeply into the beneficial effects of this plant and for writing articles dismissing its potential. I apologized for my own role in previously misleading people, and I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them. I have been reminded that a true and productive scientific journey involves a willingness to let go of established notions and get at the truth, even if it is uncomfortable and even it means having to say “sorry.” It is about emerging science that not only shows and proves what marijuana can do for the body but provides better insights into the mechanisms of marijuana in the brain, helping us better understand a plant whose benefits have been documented for thousands of years. This journey is also about a Draconian system where politics override science and patients are caught in the middle.

7 Things You Need To Know About Sativex [Leaf Science]

While yet to be approved in the United States, Sativex is legally available in countries like Canada, Australia, Britain and, most recently, France. But the drug has generated a lot of talk in the U.S., largely due to its role in the medical marijuana debate. According to a recentinterview with GW Pharmaceuticals, the company behind the drug, Sativex could be just months away from FDA approval. And if that happens, there’s no doubt the debate over marijuana as a medicine will only intensify. This article contains a few facts about Sativex that should be considered.

White Men Getting Rich From Legal Weed Won’t Help Those Harmed Most By Drug War[Huffington Post]

A lot has happened in the four years since the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a landmark book that showed how the “war on drugs” and the mass incarceration of black Americans has undermined much of the progress achieved by the civil rights movement. In a press call on Thursday sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for the decriminalization of drugs, Alexander warned against complacency. She called for the U.S. to not just stop the war on drugs, but to pay “reparations” and give a public platform to the communities of color most harmed by the drug war. “When I see images of people using marijuana and images of people who are now trying to run legitimate marijuana businesses, they’re almost all white,” she said, noting she supports legalizing pot. “After 40 years of impoverished black men getting prison time for selling weed, white men are planning to get rich doing the same things,” she added. “So that’s why I think we have to start talking about reparations for the war on drugs. How do we repair the harms caused?” She added that the government should pay reparation money to families that have been destroyed by the drug war. “You can’t just destroy a people and say, ‘It’s over, we’re stopping now,’” she said.

I Spent A Day Delivering Weed In New York City [Huffington Post]

The pair tell me their company, Secret Fleet, hasn’t even been around for a year, but their clientele is growing larger every week. In fact, on a recent night, their couriers made a record 55 deliveries. This is why Abe and Brian are letting me write about their business: They want to start removing the negative stigma that surrounds marijuana. To that end, they’ve agreed to let me follow Mason, one of their 12 couriers, for a full day on the job. (The names of the company and those interviewed for this story have been changed to protect their identities.) 

Major shift: California Democrats’ proposed platform plank calls for full legalization of pot [SF Gate]

With proponents arguing that it could put billions into state coffers and provide crucial jobs, California Democrats on Sunday will move to insert a plank in their party platform calling to “support the legalization, regulation and taxation of pot in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol,” the Chronicle has learned. The proposed platform change comes as 3,000 California Democrats met this weekend at a 3-day convention in Los Angeles, where they heard an appeal Saturday by Califonria Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom on the issue. The former San Francisco mayor argued to Democrats that — as with same sex marriage — the state should be leading, and not following, on a key issue which polls show now has gained marked support among Americans. “This is not a debate about stoners,” said Newsom. “You can be pro-regulation without being an advocate for drug use.”

Washington issues first legal pot business license [Yahoo]

Washington state issued its first legal-marijuana business license Wednesday, launching a new phase in the state’s ambitious effort to regulate a market that has been illegal for more than 75 years. Sean Green, who has operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, proclaimed the document “beautiful” as it was handed to him at a state Liquor Control Board meeting in Olympia. The license will allow him to grow 21,000 square feet of cannabis at his Spokane facility — the first pot that will be grown for sale under the highly taxed system approved by voters in 2012. The possession of marijuana became legal for adults over 21 soon after the vote, but it’s still illegal to grow or sell it for recreational use until pot shops open in the state later this year.

D.C. Council votes to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession [Washington Post]

Possessing marijuana and smoking it in the privacy of one’s home would no longer be criminal offenses in the nation’s capital under a bill passed Tuesday by the D.C. Council, putting the District at the forefront of a simmering national debate over decriminalization. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) intends to sign the bill, which would partially decriminalize pot by imposing civil fines rather than jail time for most offenses. The District joins 17 states that have taken similar action but doesn’t go as far as Colorado or Washington state, where voters have legalized the sale and taxation of marijuana. A bill to decriminalize marijuana use is pending in the Maryland General Assembly, along with a bill to legalize the drug.

How Not to Make a Hash Out of Cannabis Legalization [Washington Monthly]

The state-by-state approach has generated some happy talk from both advocates and some neutral observers; Justice Louis Brandeis’s praise for states as the “laboratories of democracy” has been widely quoted. Given how much we don’t know about the consequences of legalization, there’s a reasonable case for starting somewhere, rather than everywhere. Even some who oppose legalization are moderately comforted by the fact that the federal government isn’t driving the process. “It’s best that this be done state by state,” said Pat Buchanan recently on The McLaughlin Group, “so you can have a national backlash if it doesn’t work out.” But letting legalization unfold state by state, with the federal government a mostly helpless bystander, risks creating a monstrosity; Dr. Frankenstein also had a laboratory. Right now, officials in Washington and Colorado are busy issuing state licenses to cannabis growers and retailers to do things that remain drug-dealing felonies under federal law. The Justice Department could have shut down the process by going after all the license applicants. But doing so would have run the risk of having the two states drop their own enforcement efforts and challenge the feds to do the job alone, something the DEA simply doesn’t have the bodies to handle: Washington and Colorado alone have about four times as many state and local police as there are DEA agents worldwide. Faced with that risk, and with its statutory obligation to cooperate with the states on drug enforcement, Justice chose accommodation.

Cannabis Apps Budding Up Information and Fun [Liberty Voice]

Whether it is legal in their area or not, cannabis fans now have fingertip access to more information than ever before as droves of new educational and fun apps are budding up on iTunes and the Google Play Store. Providing yet more proof that pot-heads do more than sit around eating Doritos all day, a number of these new apps are impressively designed and well-researched, though a few silly bud games and pleasantly distracting apps exist in the mix as well. Everything from news and guide books to medical apps are available on the subject, creating an influx in information that can be accessed privately, without the fear of judgement or the stigma that many still fear when seeking information about marijuana.

Legalizing cannabis poses grave danger – UN [RT]

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has called changes to cannabis laws in Uruguay and the US a ‘very grave danger to public health’, but campaigners for reform to drugs laws say the INCB’s comments are ‘shortsighted and narrow minded.’ The annual report by the INCB, published on Tuesday,has said changes to legislation in Uruguay, and the US states of Colorado and Washington are ‘misguided initiatives’ that fail to comply with the 1961 international narcotics convention. 

Time for UN to open up dialogue on drug policy reform [TNI]

Yet rather than seek to learn from or understand the growing political support for alternative drug policies, the UN drug apparatus – and particularly the INCB – has responded mainly with shortsighted hostility and narrow-minded rejectionism. It has refused to countenance any reforms, treating the set of conventions like a perfect immutable constitution rather than a negotiated settlement that needs reforming and modernising as science advances or political and social conditions change. This came to a head recently, when Raymond Yans, President of the INCB denounced Uruguay’s “pirate attitude” for its cannabis regulation laws, causing a diplomatic uproar and raising questions about his position.

Q&A: Kofi Annan [Drug Foundation NZ]

United Nations Secretary-General and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan took time to answer questions fromMatters of Substance about his role on the board of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.  “A new policy approach is needed as the failure of the War on drugs has demonstrated that repressive approaches are not working. Despite vast expenditures, these approaches have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. The outright and uniform criminalisation of drug use should be replaced by a public health approach. The Global Commission on Drug Policy has called for governments to try new approaches, including the legal regulation of less harmful drugs such as cannabis, in order to undermine the power of organised crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. Countries should pursue an open debate and promote policies that effectively reduce consumption and which prevent and reduce harms related to drug use. A taxed and regulated market for currently illicit drugs is a policy option that should be explored with the same rigour and safeguards as any other. This option is now being tested in some countries, including New Zealand. By doing so, I believe that we can help break the endless cycle of violence, corruption and overcrowded prisons that has long characterised drug control regimes in many parts of the world.”

Momentum Builds In Puerto Rico For Major Marijuana Reforms [420 Magazine]

Momentum is building in Puerto Rico to legalize medical marijuana, decriminalize marijuana possession and export industrial hemp. If this happens, Puerto Rico will become the first American territory to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize marijuana possession. Yes, you read that right. If House Bill 1362 and Senate Bill 517 are approved, as is widely expected to happen, Puerto Rico will become the first U.S. overseas territory to join the other 20 states, including Washington, D.C., that have reformed their marijuana laws. Last year, Representative Carlos Vargas, introduced House Bill 1362 to legalize medical marijuana and regulate its sale, possession and consumption. During the public hearings on House Bill 1362, most groups testified in favor of medical marijuana and argued that major reform is needed to tackle drug addiction and high incarceration rates.

Web Series: Doobie Nights

Doobie Nights is the brainchild of Jim Viahopoulos and Sam Warren who have written and produced the series. “The weed experience has intrigued as for awhile now, mainly as a retrospective laughing point, but also that the idea of getting high is still is still deemed “bad” or “evil” by so many. As it is still illegal, we thought the question had to be asked – Are law abiding citizens out there, missing out on something? So we’ve poured every element of film making over actual weed experiences to bring to light a perspective of getting high for everyone to see.  Some scenarios might resonate with week smokers, while others will simply have people laughing at the headspace that Jim and Jam find themselves in. Either way, our aim with Doobie Nights is to entertain everybody, and hopefully create lots of fun around the unnecessarily taboo subject of “getting high”.

HEMP WA Campaign Launch [Facebook]

The HEMP Party is launching its Western Australia Campaign on Tuesday 25 March at 1pm directly opposite Parliament House in Perth. Follow the HEMP Campaign at facebook.com/HEMP.WA

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