Embassy Headlines, Issue 91

Cannabis is one of the most benign herbs. Cannabis is safer than sugar, alcohol, tobacco and every pharmaceutical. So many lives could have been saved if they had legal access to the medicine made from the plant.

Cannabis prohibition is genocide. People who support prohibition are complicit in a serious crime against the human race.  

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.


WA Senate poll: Palmer’s preference may help marijuana party into joint [Guardian]

It’s an outside chance, but Clive Palmer’s Palmer United party (PUP) could help elect a Help End Marijuana Prohibition party (Hemp) senator from Western Australia.

Marijuana party has high hopes [West Australian]

“We’re a grassroots organisation,” Mr Moylan says without a touch of irony.

How can we breed a better politician? [Facebook]

We breed a better politician by continuing to do what we at HEMP, and the many individual small parties around Australia, have been doing for these last few years. We hold politicians feet to the fire regarding individual topics. We foster inclusive and open conversations which address social issues on the basis of what our social scientists say rather than on the basis of what our political ideologies and history might decree.  And while to many the idea of changing our politics for the better might just sound like a pleasant pipe-dream: I am watching it happen every day, I smoke a pipe, and I like to dream.

French and Australian naval ships seize cannabis resin [Defence.gov.au]

French and Australian naval ships have seized and destroyed almost 650 kilograms of cannabis resin hidden aboard a smuggling skiff in the Red Sea. HMAS Darwin’s boarding party discovered the cannabis resin in 120 plastic packages concealed in hessian bags labelled ‘Basmati Rice’.

Drug policy innovators in NZ for global symposium [Voxy]

On March 20th 2014, New Zealand’s inaugural international drug policy symposium, Pathway to Reform, will be hosted by The STAR Trust in Auckland. The symposium will see world leaders, academics, and government officials come together to review and discuss the Psychoactive Substances Act and the global drug policy reform movement. This comes a week after the ‘Legal Highs’ industry united in legal action to defend the Psychoactive Substances Act, and announced last Friday that they are taking the Hamilton City Council to the High Court seeking a judicial review of their Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP). As quoted last week by General Manager of The STAR Trust, Grant Hall, “All the experts agree that prohibition causes more harm and that is why the government have chosen to take control of this industry and strictly regulate it.”

House made of hemp [Taranaki Daily News]

On a four hectare lifestyle block a few minutes north of New Plymouth, New Zealand’s first hemp house is being built. Amongst wandering sheep, chooks and bee hives, the house is being constructed out of timber and hempcrete – a mixture of hemp, lime and water. The 190 square-metre building’s owners, Lance and Miranda Palmer, say their hemp home will breathe and will be fire and pest resistant. The hempcrete comes from company Hemp Technologies, which was founded by Taranaki-born man Greg Flavall in the US state of North Carolina. 

Astika Holdings to Expand Its Agriculture Acquisitions into the Industrial Hemp Sector[Business Wire]

Mark Richards, the director for Astika Holdings stated, “Global demand for hemp is increasing. The Company’s existing relationships with China coupled with New Zealand infrastructure for seed production and food processing along with New Zealand’s temperate climate and ideal soils offers Astika a position to capture the added value and economic benefits that this opportunity presents. We are rapidly adding to Astika’s plans in agriculture by focusing our attention on acquisitions and partners in the high-profile Industrial Hemp sector in China, New Zealand and the world markets. We are excited about this sector and growth opportunity for Astika Holdings and look forward to accelerating all of the Company’s acquisition plans. We appreciate the support and are excited to lead the Company and its shareholders into the future.” 

Farmers high on hemp as returns beat canola [Manitoba Cooperator]

Hemp acres in Manitoba are set to shatter records again this year as interest in the crop rises to an unprecedented level, the seed production manager for Hemp Oil Canada said last week. Kevin Friesen told about 30 farmers meeting at the Food Development Centre here that he anticipates 90,000 acres of contracted production this spring, up from about 67,000 last year, and way, way up from just 8,000 acres in 2007. The crop was approved for production in Canada in 1998. “Normally, people migrate towards hemp when it’s about twice as profitable as canola,” said Friesen, who estimated that a good crop of conventional hemp, at about 40 bushels to the acre contracted at 70 cents per pound will rake in gross revenue of $700/acre compared to about $240/acre for canola.

Biggest American Hemp Company Readies for a Local Hemp Market [AlterNet]

Despite the long-standing ban on industrial hemp cultivation in the United States, Hemp Traders has established itself as the largest hemp textile supplier in America. The Los Angeles based company offers clothing and rope, hemp seeds and oil, body care products, fiberboard for construction, and a lot more.

Colorado Couple To Open First Officially Approved Cannabis Café [Forbes]

One of the disappointing aspects of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington is that neither state allows the sort of cannabis cafés you will find in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, which sell marijuana along with food and beverages. Both states ban on-site consumption at licensed pot stores, which are barred from selling anything other than marijuana products and paraphernalia. Furthermore, Colorado’s Amendment 64 says “nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly,” while Washington’s I-502 bans consumption “in view of the general public.” Finally, both states have laws that ban smoking inside bars and restaurants. But there are various possible ways around these restrictions, including the route taken by Cheryl and David Fanelli, who plan to open “the only legally sanctioned cannabis club in the country”. The Fanellis are taking advantage of an exception to  the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act for “a place of employment that is not open to the public and that is under the control of an employer that employs three or fewer employees.” The same exception covers private, members-only spaces where smoking is allowed. The Fanelli’s establishment, Club Ned, will be open only to dues-paying members, who will have to make appointments and bring their own pot. But Club Ned will have tables and sell refreshments, creating something resembling the convivial, tavern-like atmosphere at Dutch “coffee shops” (which are not legal, strictly speaking, but have been tolerated for decades). Since David Fanelli mentions an “acoustical stage area,” I gather that there will be live music as well.

Big turnout for first pot industry job fair; 15 large marijuana-related companies looking to hire[Denver Channel]

Colorado’s first marijuana industry job fair saw a big turnout in Denver Thursday. In fact, a line had formed outside two hours before the fair opened and stretched around the block for much of the day. The CannaSearch job fair featured 15 large marijuana-related companies hoping to hire new employees for a range of multiple positions, from “budtender to bookkeeper.” Other positions are available in accounting, technology, advertising and selling the drug.

Pot Growers Are Snatching Up Warehouse Space in Denver [Time]

Industrial warehouse space in Denver is suddenly a hot commodity in short supply, as the city’s marijuana farmers look for grow space to help meet the surge in demand for legal recreational pot. Warehouse space in Denver is now leasing for up to four times the rate it went for before medical marijuana first sent legal pot sales climbing in 2009, the Denver Post reports. At 3.1 percent, the city’s industrial vacancy rate is the lowest it has been in decades. Denver’s warehouse rush is likely to only intensify, as pot farmers scramble to meet demand that has already stressed the available supply of above-board product since recreational pot became legal in Colorado on Jan. 1. Officials announced this week that the state has already collected $2 million in taxes on $14 million in total recreational pot sales in 2014.

Colorado Appeals Court Says Marijuana Law Can Be Used to Challenge Convictions [NY Times]

A Colorado law that allows adults to legally possess and use marijuana may now allow some people found guilty of minor marijuana crimes to challenge their convictions in court, a state appeals court ruled on Thursday. The decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals stemmed from a 2010 drug case in which a woman from the mountains west of Denver was convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana and a concentrated form of the drug — both of which are now legal under a 2012 ballot measure approved by Colorado voters. Her lawyers argued that the legal landscape had shifted since she was charged and that her marijuana convictions should thus be thrown out. The court agreed, saying that the legalization law, known as Amendment 64, could apply retroactively to minor drug offenses if people had already been appealing their convictions when the measure went into effect.

No medical marijuana overhaul in Washington — will feds storm collectives? [Seattle Pi]

Talk about your mixed blessings … Many in the medical marijuana scene in Washington hated the proposed rules that had been making their way through the Legislature. Every step of the way, the rules sparked outrage and condemnation within the medical marijuana community. They hated having the medical community folded into the recreational market established by I-502 and the many other proposed restrictions on the medical system, such as narrowing the conditions that qualify and limiting how much can be grown. They hated losing the current system of collectives that allows any patient with a medical card to make donations at a collective’s storefront and walk out with marijuana. So, the fact that the Legislature was on track to close session Thursday night with no new rules for the MMJ system is a win — unless the feds start making good on the threat they made …

A day in the life of a marijuana lobbyist [Yahoo News]

If there was one feature that stood out most about the marijuana activists last week, it was that they did not stand out at all. With the exception, perhaps, of one woman dressed in a tailored pantsuit and wearing natural red dreadlocks that stretched to her waist, the cannabis industry team was indistinguishable from the routine mix of lobbyists, staffers, advocates and journalists in the Rayburn halls. That’s intentional: The pot lobby is desperately seeking legitimacy — and taking the steps to achieve it. “We’re respectable, responsible businesspeople,” said Dorian Deslauriers, an National Cannabis Industry Association [NCIA] member who runs a lab in Massachusetts that tests and analyzes medical marijuana. “We are just like the rest of the industries in America.”

Global drug issues to be focus of high-level UN meeting in Vienna starting on 13 March[UNODC]

The current world situation regarding the use and trafficking of drugs will be addressed at a series of meetings and events starting Thursday, 13 March 2014, at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Member States will open discussions with the High-Level Review of the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action which will focus on the reduction of both supply and demand of drugs, together with financial and judicial aspects crucial to addressing this issue.

Mixed feelings remain on outcome of UN drug summit in Vienna [ENCOD]

The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (Encod) looks back with mixed feelings on the High Level Segment of the 57th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) that concluded Friday, March 14. Although it is undeniable that winds of change are blowing through the international drug policy debate, there remains a significant distance between words and actions. In the mornings of Thursday March 13 and Friday March 14, a group of Encod members from 11 different countries organized a piece of performance art at the entrance of the UN building. In full 18th Century regalia, they presented the arriving UN delegates with street theatre, living cannabis plants and information on the reasons to end the war on drugs. The theatre invoked the episode of the Coffee Sniffer Brigade, a group of disabled soldiers who had to enforce the ban on coffee roasting and brewing that was imposed by the Prussian King Frederick The Great in the second half of the 18th Century. Delegates reacted first with reservation, then with support: many of them took the flyers and put thumbs up when they went in. This, of course, is a gesture that symbolizes the fact that the arguments for ending the drug war are gaining traction across the world.

United Nations: Criminal Sanctions for Drug Use Are “Not Beneficial” [Drug Policy Alliance]

Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse. More than 1.5 million drug arrests are made every year in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority for possession only. Roughly two dozen countries, and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward decriminalization. “There is simply no good basis in science, health or ethics for bringing someone into the criminal justice system solely for drug possession,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Hopefully the UN’s recommendations will help accelerate the global trend toward ending the criminalization of drug use and possession.  That certainly would make an enormous difference in the United States.”

Russia has replaced America as the world’s drugs policeman [Politics UK]

For over half a century, the US has been the world’s policeman on drugs, using its power and influence to bribe, cajole and threaten states into pursuing a counter-productive policy. But this year, something has changed. Ministers from across the world are currently meeting in Vienna for a high-level UN session on drug, ostensibly to check on progress towards the 2008 ten-year UN strategy. But America is not its old self anymore.  Its position as world leader on drug prohibition has become untenable after Colorado passed a law allowing production licences of cannabis. However, a core rump of countries – countries like Japan, China, Indonesia, Iran and Singapore – are refusing to accept the worldwide trend towards liberalisation. They are led by Russia. Harm reduction strategies, such as shooting galleries and the use of methadone, have been shown to save countless lives and cut the transmission of HIV. They are vehemently opposed by the Russian group. The opposition is ideological. These countries won’t even accept the term ‘harm reduction’, despite the fact that it is an official name used by the WHO and the UN. Methadone is actually illegal in Russia.

The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition [UN Drug Control]

The cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal and recreational purposes since the early days of civilization. In this report the Transnational Institute and the Global Drug Policy Observatory describe in detail the history of international control and how cannabis was included in the current UN drug control system. Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.

Entourage Effect: How Cannabis Plant Works Better Than Isolated Cannabinoids [Medical Cannabis]

Only termed as the Entourage Effect, there is still no explanation as to why the whole plant works better than just using THC alone or any other cannabinoid for that matter. For instance, Marinol, pure synthetic THC available in the mid 80s was thought to carry the same potential as the cannabis plant. It was then the complete opposite as more patients who used both Marinol and whole plant preferred the former from the latter. In GW Pharmaceuticals, they have encountered the same problems that were faced by the makers of Marinol. In fact, according to their experience, they found out that a plant containing equal amounts of THC and CBD has the better capabilities to reduce spasms and pain on patients with multiple sclerosis than medications made of a single compound.

How Kids Are Bringing Medical Marijuana to the States [National Journal]

In conservative states like Alabama, Georgia, and Utah—where medical-marijuana bills would have sputtered and died on the floor ten years ago—legislatures are now passing pot measures with nearly unanimous support. What gives? “When you couldn’t get bills introduced for a decade, and now they’re passing like they’re on grease tracks, something is up,” says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. What’s changed? In two words: poster children. That is to say, medical marijuana has been found to treat children suffering from epilepsy and cancer, creating powerful new advocates for the legislation. “This is an entire phenomena that one could not have anticipated a year and a half ago,” St. Pierre says. “Children are, in effect, the fulcrum.” 

Study: Inhaled Cannabis Mitigates Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms [NORML]

Inhaling whole-plant cannabis provides symptomatic relief in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to observational trial datapublished in the March/April edition of the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that results in tremor, slowed movement, and muscle rigidity. Investigators at Tel Aviv University, Department of Neurology evaluated Parkinson’s disease symptoms in 22 patients at baseline and 30-minutes after inhaling cannabis. Researchers reported that inhaled cannabis was associated with “significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinsea (slowness of movement). There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed.”

Doctors open offices to prescribe marijuana [Boston Globe]

The waiting room of Integr8, a new type of medical practice that opened in a Burlington office building last October, was crowded with patients. One leaned on a walker, another gripped a plastic grocery bag filled with pill bottles. There were twentysomethings and senior citizens. With names such as CannaMed and Delta 9 Medical Consulting, a dozen physicians offices have opened across Massachusetts in recent months to evaluate patients to use marijuana. Many envisioned that most patients would consult with their regular doctor to decide whether they could benefit from the drug to treat a debilitating condition. Instead, the 2012 referendum that legalized medical marijuana is giving rise to a new niche — psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, obstetrician-gynecologists, internists, and pain specialists turned medical marijuana specialists. Even though medical marijuana dispensaries are not expected to open for months, these doctors have already “certified’’ hundreds of patients to grow or buy the drug. CannaMed, a California company that now has a Framingham branch, has approved 1,000 patients, its lawyer said.

HIV Cure: Medical Cannabis Or ‘Weed’ Explored To Help Stop HIV Infection Using THC Component [International Business Times]

Medical cannabis is used as an appetite stimulant, antiemetic, antispasmodic and sometimes as analgesic to help treat chronic, non-cancerous pain, vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy. In some cases, it is also used to aid treating symptoms of AIDS patients. Researchers at the International Cannabinoid Research Conference are now digging up all the data they can get to track useful ingredients that may help to stop HIV infection. One ingredient known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can pierce to the monkey version of HIV called RIV. Dr. Patricia Molina may not get medical cannabis into clinical trials for humans as the U.S. law considers marijuana as schedule I substance due to its addictive and adverse effects. Medically, “weeds” have been found beneficial in treating several diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. But proving an illegal drug like marijuana to stop a global pandemic threat on humans without ever testing it on them is impossible.

Marijuana study in veterans wins federal backing [Big Story]

The federal government has signed off on a long-delayed study looking at marijuana as a treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, a development that drug researchers are hailing as a major shift in U.S. policy. The Department of Health and Human Services’ decision surprised marijuana advocates who have struggled for decades to secure federal approval for research into the drug’s medical uses. The proposal from the University of Arizona was long ago cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, but researchers had been unable to purchase marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The agency’s Mississippi research farm is the only federally-sanctioned source of the drug.

The Benefits of Medical Cannabis [Mercola]

The federal government, meanwhile, wants to get rid of all medical use of marijuana, which of course begs the question: Why? According to Dr. Frankel, the answer is simple. “They want it. This is a huge market,” he says. And yes, medical cannabis is clearly competition to the pharmaceutical industry, as the cannabis plant can take the place of a wide variety of synthetic drugs, especially for mood and anxiety disorders. The last thing they want is a therapy that’s going to take away from their bottom line.

Medicated pizza? Pot-friendly pizzeria opens in Vancouver [CTV News]

Marijuana may be linked with brownies and cookies, but a Vancouver cafe is hoping to make it synonymous with something else: pizza. Mega iLL pizzeria and cafe, on Kingsway and Fraser, will serve you a marijuana-infused pizza – provided you have a medical exemption. “There’s already vapour lounges and lounges around town so I figured I’d mix that with pizza,” said Mark Klokeid, a co-owner of the joint. 
Klokeid got the idea after traveling to Cambodia and sampling “Happy Pizza”, a pizza infused with cannabis.

Cannabis policy in the Netherlands: moving forwards not backwards [Transform]

Misunderstandings and misreporting of actual and proposed changes to Dutch cannabis policy in 2011 have led some opponents of cannabis reform to suggest the country is retreating from its longstanding and pragmatic policy of tolerating the possession, use and sale of cannabis. This is not the case. In reality, most of the more regressive measures have either not been implemented, have been subsequently abandoned, or have had only marginal impacts. Additionally, there is growing public support for wider, progressive reform, including a system of legal cannabis regulation similar to that adopted in Uruguay, and efforts are underway by numerous municipalities to establish such models of production and supply.

Major Swiss cities set to back ‘cannabis clubs’ [The Local]

Adults may be legally able to seek out clubs in certain Swiss cities to buy state-certified cannabis, free of chemicals, for personal use under a pilot project being drafted. Lawmakers from at least five municipal governments are looking at participating in an experiment to regularize the use of marijuana through “user’s associations”. Bern has become the latest city to look seriously at liberalizing the use of cannabis through regulations, the Berner Zeitung newspaper reported on Thursday. Zurich, Basel and Lausanne are also interested in joining in the experiment being piloted by the city of Geneva. A multi-party working group in Geneva in December presented a proposal for “cannabis social clubs” that would have even allowed minors to participate. The working group will submit its final proposal to authorities in June but changes to the federal narcotic law would be needed in order for to go ahead.

The Future of Healthy Snacks? Hemp Crackers, Say Scientists [Leaf Science]

A team of Canadian and Serbian food scientists have come up with a new formula for crackers which they claim are far healthier than your typical gluten-free snack. The team chose hemp flour, instead of the more popular brown rice flour, as their base. Hemp flour is traditionally discarded as a by-product of hemp oil processing, but has recently been used to fortify certain gluten-free foods. Combining the flour with decaffeinated green tea leaves to boost antioxidant levels, the scientists managed to create gluten-free crackers that “were high in minerals, fibers, and omega-3 fatty acids with a desirable omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids ratio.” 

Even Sugar Is More Harmful Than Marijuana, Americans Say [Huffington Post]

Of all the vices a person can indulge in, which is the least bad for your health? According to a new survey from NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, Americans believe that marijuana is the most benign — in fact, many believe it’s even less harmful than sugar. Those surveyed were asked which substance “is the most harmful to a person’s overall health”: marijuana, sugar, tobacco or alcohol? Forty-nine percent of respondents said that tobacco was the most dangerous. Alcohol came in at 24 percent, followed by sugar at 15 percent. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said marijuana was the most dangerous.

The good seed: Hemp brownies can actually be a nutritious snack [Washington Post]

Hemp hearts, or raw shelled hemp seeds, have grown increasingly popular in the nutrition community over the past couple of years. But despite being labeled a superfood by some, they still have a stigma as part of the cannabis family. With all the recent news about hemp and marijuana, we’d like to shed some light on the benefits of pot’s nutritious cousin.

This Dude Was Going to Be a Pro Golfer. Instead, He Lived in the Jungle for 12 Years [LA Weekly]

Souther is not your standard DJ/producer. In his perfectly pressed button down and close cropped haircut, he looks like an investment banker. In fact, he is a “master shaman” who, in addition to his musical pursuits, has developed what he calls 420 Ceremony and the 420 Shamanism Movement. He is the co-developor of something called Blue Morpho Cannabis Shamanism. And yes, this is all related to weed.

HEMP Party WA Campaign Launch

 The HEMP Party is launching its Western Australia Federal Senate Re-election Campaign on Tuesday 25 March at 1.00pm directly opposite Parliament House in Perth.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1376007452674849

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