Embassy Headlines, Issue 99

Cannabis traded as a legal commodity would reduce the ‘current account deficit’ and provide patients with cheap effective medicine.

Cannabinoids for the treatment of diseases, including cancer and diabetes, would save $Billions in healthcare. Cannabis prohibition is an expensive denial of the medical use and has created a huge black 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.


Nimbin MardiGrass 2014 [Cannabis News Australia]

The 22nd Nimbin MardiGrass has once again filled the streets of Nimbin with marijuana lovers from almost every nationality and background. MardiGrass Web-Head, Alan ‘Salty’ Salt told us, “A lot of people come to Nimbin for weed or to check out something like MardiGrass, and end up staying a really long time”. 

Dan Haslan, who is terminally ill, says he will keep using cannabis to relieve his pain. And even his local cop supports him [Herald Sun]

EVERY week Dan Haslan breaks the law by smoking marijuana and taking cannabis oil. He not only has the approval of his father, an ex-drug squad detective, but also has the blessings of his town’s top cop. The 24-year-old has terminal cancer, and despite the illegality of cannabis use for medicinal reasons, the entire community, including the police have his back. “I’ll probably get into trouble but why should we, with people with a terminal illness, create a criminal act for accessing things that relive their pain,” Tamworth Super Intendent Clint Pheeney said. “It’s not a case of turning a blind eye, we have always had discretion for people in possession of small amounts under the cannabis cautioning scheme.” Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010, the fortnightly chemo that keeps Mr Haslan alive used to make him so violently ill he would have to be hospitalised for hydration. Late last year Mr Haslan’s mother Lucy sourced illegally grown cannabis for her son as research shows it quells nausea. “I haven’t been violently ill since I started on it, that alone is enough for me, from spending a night in hospital and losing five kilos every fortnight to not vomiting and being able to eat,” Mr Haslan said Lucy Haslan said the drug’s effect is miraculous.

Top Cop and Mayor support family push for medicinal marijuana [ABC]

NSW New England’s most senior law enforcement officer and the local Mayor have added their voices to the groundswell of support to change the law around medicinal cannabis. Tamworth’s Haslam family is campaigning to have cannabis decriminalised for people with chronic and terminal illnesses. Daniel Haslam was diagnosed with bowel cancer a couple of years ago and during the course of his treatment he has found that cannabis marijuana provides some relief to his nausea and pain. The family has started a petition and is calling on the state government to adopt the recommendations from an Upper House inquiry on changing the law around medicinal cannabis. The Oxley Local Area Commander, Clint Pheeney says it was through reading Daniels’s story and talking to his father about the situation that he saw the need for change. “I always been totally opposed to legalising recreational drugs, but here I saw a young fella, only in his 20’s battling a terminal disease, he tried every single legal remedy available to him and the only thing that appeared to work was cannabis, and that is only thing that gave him some normality back to his life and that struck a chord. I thought, why should we make people in these situations have to perform technically criminal acts to ease their pain and suffering. We are talking about a very select number of people that fit into a very small category, where there should be exemptions under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, which would be quite easy to do. Exemptions for them and their carers to actually possess very small amounts of cannabis for medicinal purposes.” he says.

Medical Marijuana [Today Tonight Adelaide]

The use of medical marijuana is a criminal offence but despite this more than 300 000 people are using it daily to treat various ailments… in fact in a recent public survey 69% of people supported the use of medicinal marijuana.

Push to decriminalise cannabis [The Examiner Tasmania]

In the 2013 financial year Tasmania Police arrested just over 1000 cannabis users compared to less than 250 dealers.  Last week in Hobart a group of high profile academics, doctors and police called for that figure to be reduced to almost zero.  Not through increased enforcement but rather via the decriminalisation of dope – in a bid to push cannabis use from the criminal justice system to the health arena. In Tasmania, where 82 per cent of arrests are for use and possession not dealing, decriminalisation would have significant impacts. 

SA Liberals push for three strikes and no rehab for drug offenders [The Australian]

Drug users would be prevented from repeatedly choosing counselling to avoid court, under a three-strikes policy foreshadowed by the Liberals in State Parliament. Opposition police spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said people in possession of drugs were given a choice between attending diversion programs or a court appearance. Freedom of Information documents showed drug users were avoiding court despite being caught in possession up to 14 times and greater deterrents were needed to change behaviour, he said. Both independent MP Geoff Brock and the State Government are keeping their options open. If Mr Brock backs the legislation, the Liberal plan could become law without Government support. Mr van Holst Pellekaan on Thursday told The Advertiser drug matters should be sent automatically to court on the third strike, while judges retain the power to order counselling if appropriate. Police time was being wasted on repeat offenders who failed to reform, he said. He rejected suggestions the move would simply add to the workload of the courts, saying an increased focus and punishment for drug possession would help drive down use.

As cannabis arrests soar, experts meet to consider if banning drug is best policy [Herald Sun]

The challenges and benefits of decriminalising cannabis will be debated by a panel of experts in Hobart on 6 May. The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council will host the forum to address drug law reform – specifically the ­decriminalisation of cannabis – bringing together a range of local, national and inter­national experts. The latest illicit drug report from the Australian Crime Commission shows cannabis accounted for 80 per cent of the drug-related arrests in Tasmania last financial year. Nationally, there were more than 62,000 arrests related to cannabis – the highest reported in the past decade. ATDC chief executive Jann Smith said she expected the round table discussion in Hobart to highlight key issues and challenges in developing policy in the area. “Bringing together a broad range of experts and opinion leaders is the starting point for the ATDC to inform our future policy development based upon the most contemporary evidence and views available,” Ms Smith said. 

High and low points of the illegal drug debate [Daily Telegraph]

The arguments against the war on drugs remain as relevant as ever. We know prohibition doesn’t work. We know policing drug policy is a tremendous waste of resources. We know the victimless crime of possession of drugs puts many people in jail and helps turn them into hardened criminals. Compounding the farce that is our drugs policy, Tony Abbott himself this week acknowledged: “It’s not a war we will ever finally win.” While bouts of hedonism are illegal, it is rarely considered why they are viewed as immoral. What is immoral is others telling us what we may put in our bodies, or how we should chose to spend our time. “The children” are the standard invocation to end the argument, as though teenagers lack ingenuity or are deferential to authority. It’s easier to induce moral panic and dispatch with personal choice and personal responsibility than it is to accept that we have the right to make our own decisions, with which others may disagree. Humans are fallible and mistakes can be made — this is a fact of existence that is certainly not unique to the use of a select group of illegal substances. Conversely, advocates for ending the war on drugs so often tell us “it’s not a law and order issue, it’s a health issue”. It is a concession we have bloodlessly granted the wowser-class: many advocates for drug reform have accepted the prohibitionists’ rhetoric that drugs are, in and of themselves, bad. In the case of a minority of people who abuse or have debilitating addictions to drugs, harm minimisation is a worthwhile policy. But what on earth is wrong with getting high? Recreational drug use is stigmatised as a choice between abstinence and addiction. The silent majority of people who safely and occasionally use illicit substances are ordinary people, living balanced lives.

Why Drugs in Australia Are Terrible [Vice]

Since 2003, the Australian Crime Commission has released an annual report on illicit drug trends from the previous year. The latest one has just come out, and it gives a pretty comprehensive snapshot of the what, where, and how of everything to do with drugs between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, in Australia. For some people the report is cause for comfort—it reveals a record 101,749 drug-related arrests over the 12-month period. But there are also some revelations for people who like drugs. Namely, why are they so expensive? And why are they so awful? And what happened to drug-policy reform? Drugs in Australia are expensive. The report doesn’t actually acknowledge this, but the police do in the way that they price confiscations. You know when you hear about a $500 million drug haul and it seems a lot? Well, that’s because you’re not actually getting the “street price.” What you’re getting is the Australian value of that drug in its pure form.

Rent a spot for some pot [Sydney Morning Herald]

With recreational marijuana legal in the state of Colorado, USA, since January 1 comes the launch of the very real airTHC, a website for marijuana-friendly holiday rentals. Co-founder of the month-old service Jordan Connor says the company was created to help make a connection between property owners and tourists. “Recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of Colorado, but there are limitations.  You cannot smoke in public.  You cannot smoke in parks or on ski resorts.  You also cannot smoke in bars and restaurants, and most importantly, you cannot smoke in hotels.  Doing so can result in heavy fines and even jail time.  But you can smoke in private residences,” Connor says. 

Elderly Medical Marijuana User Facing Prison Joins Congressmen in Push to Block Feds[USA News]

Days before his federal trial begins in Spokane, wheelchair-bound medical marijuana user Larry Harvey, 70, joined members of Congress to support legislation that would block federal law enforcement efforts against people who use pot as medicine. Marijuana “can be a lifesaving drug,” Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., said at a Wednesday press conference near the Capitol, touting states’ rights and the medicinal benefits of cannabis. “Doctors all across the country should be able to prescribe this drug, like any other drug.” Harvey suffers from knee pain and gout – and to treat himself grew a patch of marijuana on his rural Washington state property. He painted a large white sign with a medical marijuana symbol to mark the garden, which he suspects alerted law enforcement performing flyovers. “At night when my knee is throbbing, I can take a little marijuana cookie and in five minutes the pain is gone,” he said. “You don’t feel bombed or buzzed.” Harvey’s home was raided in August 2012 by the Drug Enforcement Administration, after state officials visited but did not arrest him. He’s being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington alongside three family members and a friend, jointly referred to as “the Kettle Falls Five.” Although medical marijuana and collective gardens were legalized under Washington state law following a 1998 voter initiative, the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Derail Washington State from Collecting Taxes on Marijuana Sales [MPP Blog]

Martin Nickerson has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Washington, attempting to bar the state from collecting taxes on marijuana sales. Washington state officials are demanding that he pay taxes on those sales to the tune of $62,000. However, since Nickerson is under prosecution for the criminal sale of marijuana as a medical marijuana producer, he claims that forcing him to pay taxes on his sales would violate his constitutional right against self-incrimination. Alison Holcomb, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who was the main author of Washington State’s successful ballot initiative, said the lawsuit has a low probability of taking down the state’s legal marijuana system. Suppliers like Nickerson have already made public their intent to break federal law, Holcomb said, so paying taxes on their proceeds would not do much to further incriminate them. “Paying taxes on marijuana implicates you, but so does everything else about being engaged in this system,” she said. Ultimately, the case brings into question whether federal laws trump state laws when it comes to collecting tax revenue generated from marijuana sales. The outcome of this case could have a significant impact on medical marijuana businesses around the country.

Violent Crime Drops Where People Have Access to marijuana [Nexus Illuminati]

Opponents of marijuana legalization, particularly members of law enforcement, frequently claim that liberalizing cannabis laws will lead to an increase in incidences of criminal activity, such as burglary, robbery, and driving under the influence. But two recent scientific papers report that just the opposite is true. In the most recent paper, published online in March in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas reported that the enactment of laws legalizing people’s access to medical marijuana is not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity, and that it may even be related to reductions in incidences of violent crime.

Cocaine, Heroin, Cannabis, Ecstasy: How Big is the Global Drug Trade? [Global Research]

With the recent capture of “El Chapo,” the richest drug cartel leader in the world, let’s take a look at what he was known for — a global drug trade.

Nobel economists, others urge end to ‘war on drugs’ [Reuters]

Global efforts to thwart the drugs trade have failed and the time has come for a radical rethink, according to a group of Nobel-prize winning economists, a former U.S secretary of state, the deputy prime minister of Britain and others. “It is time to end the ‘war on drugs’ and massively redirect resources toward effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis,” the group said in a foreword to a new academic report on global anti-drugs policies. Citing mass drug-related incarceration in the United States, corruption and violence in developing countries and an HIV epidemic in Russia, the group urged the United Nations to drop its “repressive, one-size-fits-all approach” to tackling drugs.

‘Cheap high’: Uruguay pledges its cannabis will be legal, good quality and inexpensive[RT]

Customers in Uruguay now can buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week at a price of about $0.90 per gram, according to long-awaited regulations for the country’s legal cannabis market signed Tuesday. Uruguay’s authorities have signed regulations for legal marijuana specifying that every citizen of the country will soon be able to buy the plant at about 90 cents per gram. Uruguay legalized the sale and production of the drug in December 2013, despite global criticism. Uruguayans will be able to buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week, or 40 grams a month, from a network of pharmacies at a price of 20 to 22 Uruguayan pesos ($0.85-$1) a gram, says the decree signed by Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica. The low price was established to compete with black market marijuana distribution, coming mostly from Paraguay, a neighboring South American country which is one of the region’s largest producers of illegal marijuana. Legal marijuana will soon be available in Uruguay by the end of the year, when the country’s pharmacies start selling the plant under the control of the authorities. Each Uruguayan citizen will have an opportunity to grow up to six marijuana plants, the equivalent of 480 grams, but only for personal use. Cannabis users will also be allowed to organize smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year. 

Hundreds march across France to legalize cannabis [RT]

Hundreds of protesters all over France have been rallying demonstrating in favor of legalizing cannabis. The event coincides with the so-called world march for the legalization of the drug. In Paris, protesters gathered on Bastille Square on Saturday, after Cannabis Without Frontiers, an organization struggling to legalize marijuana in the country, called for the rally. The crowd chanted “Marie-Jeanne!” in a reference to the nickname for marijuana in France. Many of the protesters held joints or leaves of marijuana, dancing to reggae music. “First of all, we want the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. And then, we want the end to the prohibition,”Farid Ghehiouche, the founder of Cannabis Without Frontiers, said.

Cannabis jail time ruins young Tunisian lives [The Daily Star]

Tunisia’s tough law on cannabis use, laying down jail terms of at least one year, is “destroying lives” and overcrowding prisons, according to a group of activists urging reform. Since the law was passed more than 20 years ago, “tens of thousands of Tunisians have been convicted,” the group said in an open letter to the government. “But the number of people sentenced and the number of users continue to grow, proving that this law is not a deterrent. It has failed,” said the group, named Al Sajin 52 (or Prisoner 52) as the law is called. Smoking “zatla,” or cannabis resin, is punishable by between one and five years in prison, with the same law prohibiting judges from passing lighter sentences for extenuating circumstances. As a result, more than half of the 13,000 people in pretrial detention, and around a third of Tunisia’s 11,000 convicts were arrested for drug abuse, and cannabis in particular, according to U.N.figures.

Alcohol consumption killed 3.3m people worldwide in 2012, World Health Organisation says [ABC]

The WHO says less than half of the global population drinks, but those who do consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol each year. The global status report on alcohol and health covered 194 countries and looked at alcohol consumption, its impact on public health and policy responses. The report found some countries were already limiting alcohol availability by raising taxes, age limits and regulating marketing. However, the organisation says more countries should take similar action, and more needed to be done to raise awareness of the damage alcohol can do to people’s health. Globally, Europe is home to the biggest drinkers, with some of its countries having particularly high rates of harmful drinking. A study published earlier this year found that a quarter of all Russian men die before they reach their mid-50s, largely from drinking to excess. Some men in that study reported drinking three or more bottles of vodka a week.

Gevitta CBD Vitamin Spray [Indiegogo]

Gevitta’s Canna Vitamin Spray is the first of its kind, containing legal CBDs (cannabidiol), a naturally occurring cannabinoid component found in cannabis that comprises up to 40% of the industrial hemp plant. The CBDs in Gevitta’s Canna Vitamin Spray are derived from CBD-rich hemp oil that is emulsified into a sprayable liquid and packaged in an optimal delivery system. Since the CBDs are derived from hemp, not the marijuana plant, Gevitta is able to legally ship the Canna Vitamin Spray worldwide, making this supplement available to individuals who were previously unable to purchase CBD products. Although Gevitta makes no claims about Canna Vitamin Spray’s ability to treat disease, research suggests that CBDs may have positive effects in people with diseases like epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and other health conditions.

Nimbin 420 at MardiGrass 2014 [YouTube]



Nimbin MardiGrass: Cannabis and Driving [YouTube]

In the short clip “Nimbin MardiGrass: Cannabis and Driving” we view Michael Balderstone speak about the Nimbin MardiGrass, cannabis and the effects it has on driving under the influence.

JSCEM interim report on Senate reform [Crikey]

A further recommendation to make life harder for micro-parties [Ed: like the HEMP Party] is a requirement that they have 1500 members to register as a party rather than the existing 500.


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