Prohibition is a very successful business plan.
All sorts of industries do very well and take advantage of the circumstances. Maintaining the status of Cannabis in Australia is in the best interests of law enforcement, pharmaceutical drug companies plus the alcohol and tobacco industries. Large amounts of cash that is collected by criminal enterprise on the sale of Cannabis is a subtracted from the resources for law reform.
The HEMP 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.
Oregon residents light up in the street and celebrate the legalisation of marijuana [The Independent]
Oregon residents 21-years-and up may now smoke and grow privately. They may grow up to four plants amassing 227 ( eight ounces), according to the Liquor Control Commission. According to Reuters, Portland police have been mocking the lazy stereotypes of habitual marijuana users, stating that residents may legally possess the weight equivalent of a donut.
Marijuana will be legal in Oregon this week, you just can’t buy it [The Independent]
Legalization in Oregon comes with one small hang-up: There is nowhere in the state to buy soon-to-be-legal weed, according to the Statesman Journal. People in Oregon must receive their marijuana as a gift or buy it off the street, as no licensed purveyor of pot has been established in the state. Users also could cross the state line into Washington, which has set up stores, but would risk legal trouble since the transport of marijuana across state lines is a federal crime, even though pot is legal in both states. Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which allows legal consumption of pot, in November 2014 by a 56 per cent majority. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission was given ability to tax, license and regulate marijuana in the state, but is not expected to start accepting applications from growers, processors and retailers until January 2016. Those approved retailers are slated to begin selling weed in the fall of 2016. State legislators earlier this month were considering a bill that would allow the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries to to sell small amounts of pot, but that bill has not been approved.
A recent poll conducted for Palliative Care Australia found overwhelming support for medical cannabis: 67 per cent of people surveyed were happy to see the drug used to help patients with chronic pain and illness, 24% were undecided, while only 9% were opposed. With such high levels of public support, even drug war warriors like Tony Abbott have apparently come on board. While many states have declared they are waiting to see the results of the NSW trial of medical cannabis, this process will take several years. In the meantime, sufferers and their families are still relying on the black market for supply and still face the threat of arrest and police raids on top of their severe medical problems. Currently, Brisbane’s ‘Fearless Father’ Adam Koessler is charged with allegedly treating his daughter with medical cannabis oil. The need for an amnesty for medical cannabis patients and their parents has prompted the Civil Liberties Council Terry O’Gorman, to suggest the Drugs Misuse Act needs to be altered to provide this protection. While the Civil Liberties Council proposal to protect Australian medical cannabis users will be widely applauded as humane, it leaves unresolved the question of the fate of those providing the cannabis to medical users. According to the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, those involved in the production of medicinal cannabis should also be granted an amnesty from prosecution given the widespread use and growing acceptance of the plant’s medicinal qualities.
Fake urine and even prosthetic penises are increasingly being used by Queensland miners in a bid to fool company drug tests, police say. Sales are booming for products to beat drug testing, which are legally available on the internet. Some products can be purchased for $70 and come with accessories including heat pads and strap-on devices for men to wear during supervised testing.
Big pharma bosses front up to Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance [Sydney Morning Herald]
It is a rare moment to find harmony and political consensus in Australian politics, but when big pharma bosses fronted the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance yesterday, the Greens, Liberals, Labor and Independents were, for a moment, as one. Fronting the inquiry were executives for Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, GSK, Merck Sharp Dohme, Eli Lilly, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Roche and Sanofi, the nine largest global pharmaceutical companies operating in Australia. And when asked if they knew the costs of the drugs they were selling, there was only demurring and obfuscation. They didn’t know. Here were nine companies who notched up $8 billion in sales in Australia last year – and who were the recipients of $3.5 billion in subsidies from the Australian taxpayer via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – but who paid collectively just $85 million in income taxes. As Senate Committee chair Labor’s Sam Dastyari put it, “One per cent of revenue … It is extraordinary that the top nine companies only paid a tax bill of $85 million”. Pfizer paid just $1.5 million in company tax in Australia last year. Senator Dastyari said it was clear big pharma was driving down the profits of their Australian companies – as to make a profit is to engender a tax obligation – and maximise profits overseas in lower tax jurisdictions. There was no argument from big pharma. The numbers told the story, one per cent of revenue paid in tax, even after billions in subsidies from taxpayers. How can you argue against that?
Work on medicinal cannabis bill underway [3 News NZ]
Moves are afoot to allow the use of medicinal cannabis following the death of Nelson teenager Alex Renton who was undergoing experimental treatment using the product. Labour MP Damien O’Connor, who is drafting a private members bill which would allow better access to cannabidiol (CBD), says the momentum created by Alex’s case should be used as a catalyst for change.
Colorado Governor Changes Tune On Cannabis Legalization [Ganjapreneur]
By January of this year, though, only one year after he expressed literal hatred for legal weed, Governor Hickenlooper had nearly done a full 180, being quoted in a 60 Minutes interview spouting rhetoric that mirrors campaign literature that the legalization movement has been putting out for years. “From time to time, people want to relax and help relieve the pressure of their day, in whatever form,” he said. “And they might choose to have a drink, or they might imbibe some marijuana. It will just be one of several choices of people trying to relax. If you had asked me the day after the voters … changed our constitution to legalize marijuana, if you asked me if I had magic pixie dust and I could magically change that, I would have done it,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with CNN’s Cristina Alesci last month. “Now, I wouldn’t be quite so quick to go back. I’d say let’s give it another year or two and see if we can make a regulatory system that really keeps the bad guys out, keeps the pot away from kids, makes sure roads and highways are safe, and we have resources not just for regulation but to take care of the problems that get created along the way.”
Levin, whose church titles include grand poobah and minister of love, is daring police to arrest him and his followers in what will likely be one of the first tests of the state’s new RFRA protections. RFRA, designed to protect religion from being infringed upon by the government, drew unanticipated attention on the Hoosier state when it became widely viewed as a license to allow business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples. Experts say the act opens a new doorway in Indiana that invites a host of legal challenges from religious practitioners throughout the state. Challenges like this one from the First Church of Cannabis.
It’s Official: Marijuana Is Medicine [East Bay Express]
A series of papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association is starting to correct the shameful legacy of drug war politics over cannabis science. But a research catch-22 persists. The nation’s top medical organization released a major series of papers on medical cannabis last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in a move that constitutes a small step for the AMA, but a giant leap in cannabis medical history. In five key papers, teams of researchers systematically reviewed dozens of clinical studies of marijuana, speaking in clear language that the “use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence.” The review validated what doctors and patients in California have risked their freedom to say for twenty years. The findings also directly refute critics who maintain that “marijuana is not medicine.” “They concluded cannabis is useful,” said Dr. Frank Lucido, a Berkeley physician who specializes in cannabis. “I don’t think a single study didn’t show benefit. … I think it was very positive.”
Under new rules that set the state apart from others, patients will have to stick with pills and oils, and the drug will only be sold in eight locations. There will be no baggies of pot awaiting patients next week, when Minnesota joins 21 other states in offering medical marijuana. No glass pipes, no plants to tend at home. Instead, the nation’s latest medical marijuana programme is a world of pill bottles and vials of marijuana-infused oil. For the qualifying patients seeking relief from pain, medical marijuana advocates and some lawmakers, Wednesday isn’t the finish line, but the first step. The state’s restrictive approach, unseen in the industry, is likely to mean high costs, long drives and reluctant doctors. Smoking the plant is forbidden. Pills, oils and vapors are only available to patients suffering from severe conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV and Aids. And the medicine can only be sold in eight locations, hundreds of miles away from some in Minnesota’s rural expanses.
State Marijuana Laws Complicate Federal Job Recruitment [New York Times]
For all the aspiring and current spies, diplomats and F.B.I. agents living in states that have liberalized marijuana laws, the federal government has a stern warning: Put down the bong, throw out the vaporizer and lose the rolling papers. It may now be legal in Colorado, in Washington State and elsewhere to possess and smoke marijuana, but federal laws outlawing its use — and rules that make it a firing offense for government workers — have remained rigid. As a result, recruiters for federal agencies are arriving on university campuses in those states with the sobering message that marijuana use will not be tolerated. So members of a new generation are getting an early lesson in what their predecessors have done for as long as there have been espionage, diplomacy and bureaucracy. They are lying and stalling when necessary to avoid, in the case of the newcomers, failing a drug test.
The Republican Rand Paul is the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly seek out legal cannabis entrepreneurs to financially support his run. On Tuesday, Paul became the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly court donations from the marijuana industry, by holding a fundraiser at the Cannabis Business Summit in Colorado. Though legal marijuana business owners have been active political donors for years, presidential candidates have avoided holding fundraisers made up entirely of them. But Paul is different, according to Bocskor. “The industry is extremely welcoming to Paul because of his positions regarding [us]. Right now, we’re facing issues around banking and taxation that are extremely challenging and oppressive, and the only candidate that’s taken a firm stance that would solve those issues is senator Paul,” Bocskor said. Paul has joined Democrats in the Senate to sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana for medical reasons; and he also supports a federal drug-sentencing overhaul.
On June 11, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a provision in the country’s medical marijuana law prohibiting the possession of marijuana extracts. The ruling potentially opened the door to the production of medical marijuana derivatives including tinctures, edibles, pills, and oils — and American investors took note. Edibles alone make up 45 percent of legal marijuana sales in the US, and there’s little reason to think Canada would ultimately be any different. It’s just one reason why the Canadian court’s decision made Canada an even more attractive destination for American investment in the marijuana industry. Four US states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 24 others permit some form of legal medical marijuana. But all of those states are potentially in conflict with federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, illegal for both medical and recreational uses. The resulting uncertainty clouds everything from patients’ rights to growers’ access to credit. “Largely, we focus on ancillary investing [in the US],” says Morgan Paxhia, who, with his sister Emily, founded Poseidon Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund focusing solely on the cannabis industry. “One step away from actually touching the plant, so to speak.”
20 million Europeans smoke cannabis [Russell Webster]
This is the second post in a blog series based on the findings of the 2015 annual European Drugs Report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In it, I explore the characteristics of frequent and high-risk cannabis users across the continent. The most recent EMCDDA estimate suggests that almost 1% Europeans use cannabis daily or almost daily (defined as 20 days or more per month). Since 2008, cannabis use is the main reason that Europeans enter drug treatment for the first time. Over this time, the number of first-time cannabis clients has risen markedly and cannabis users represent around half or more of all service users entering drug treatment in Cyprus, Denmark, France, Hungary and the Netherlands.
The 2015 Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its special segment on preparations for the UNGASS on the world drug problem: Report of proceedings [International Drug Policy Consortium]
The international drug control regime is facing the most profound challenge of its existence. Member states have for some time been experimenting with new responses to the ‘world drug problem’; however, the advent of legally regulated cannabis markets has resulted in a ratcheting up of these challenges to expose the system to new levels of strain. With the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem fast approaching, how will the international community make use of the opportunity it provides for a free and open debate? This was the question hovering over the 58th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and its Special Segment on preparations for the UNGASS.
Led by a man with a background as a hardened military campaigner, Paraguay has adopted slash and burn tactics to tackle cannabis growers. But there is a growing realisation that measures are required to help smallholder farmers find better ways to support themselves.
Half of students have used cannabis [Irish Examiner]
Nearly half of third-level students have recently smoked cannabis and almost a third have recently taken ecstasy, research indicates. Almost all of the 2,700 students surveyed — across more than 30 institutions — drink alcohol and a third said they engaged in binge drinking every week. The findings have led to calls for more education and harm reduction messages in colleges, including on the risks posed by combining alcohol and illegal drugs and the higher potency of substances such as ecstasy. The survey, conducted by drugs researcher Tim Bingham and psychologist Colin O’Driscoll, was carried out between October and December 2014. They were assisted by the students’ unions in various colleges and by Students for Sensible Drug Policy in certain institutions.
The science behind the marijuana plant is experiencing somewhat of a reawakening. Hidden inside this once-taboo plant seems to be a wealth of remedies. And each year, more people are looking to the plant to treat various conditions. A whole world of medicinal benefits lies within the divisive leaves of the marijuana plant, which has unquestionably suffered from a smear campaign. While the misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol kills thousands of Americans each year, there hasn’t been a single overdose death from using marijuana. Ever. But big pharmaceutical companies have no reason to fund research into the benefits of marijuana and the federal government has been far more intent on determining the damaging effects of marijuana than discovering any of its advantages. Classifying marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance has meant that in order to do clinical research scientists must have a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license and be participating in a study that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These measures have significantly hindered scientists being able to examine the potential medical benefits of marijuana, as well as obtaining the necessary funding for it.
Obama Administration Removes Crucial Barrier to Marijuana Research [Drug Policy Alliance]
In a long-sought move anticipated by many marijuana reform advocates, the White House today announced that it was removing a major obstacle to marijuana research – the Public Health Service (PHS) Review. “This announcement shows that the White House is ready to move away from the war on medical marijuana, and enable the performance of legitimate and necessary research,” said Bill Piper, Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “This is progress, but the White House should also end the NIDA’s unique monopoly on marijuana production, and allow private entities to grow marijuana, thus facilitating even more important research.”
Why anti-cancer properties in cannabis must be investigated [The Conversation]
Then there is the cannabis plant. The putative medicinal property of cannabis has been known for some time; indeed, history records show they were used to ease symptoms of gout, malaria and even childbirth. However, the fundamental issue with using cannabis in its whole form as a medicine is its psychoactive properties, so it would make sense to identify the important anti-cancer parts and remove the psychoactive components. Cannabinoids are these. They number around 80, with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the two lead medicinal candidates. However, unlike the mayapple and Pacific yew, their development has been seriously curtailed. It’s likely that the widespread use of cannabis as a recreational drug has affected research into the potential in cannabis – and the result was death by association. I wonder how the early development of CBD and THC would have progressed if it was known by any other name. Cannabinoids and cannabis are not the same thing – it’s just that cannabinoids are derived from cannabis. Cannabinoids possess anti-cancer properties, which they achieve through their fundamental interactions with proteins embedded in the signalling pathways in cells that are now seen as particularly interesting for research. In addition to this direct anti-cancer action, cannabinoids also have the capacity to disrupt the ability of cancer to feed itself by a process called angiogenesis as well as being able to modulate the immune system to make it more hostile towards cancer. Furthermore, CBD and THC appear to support the activity and efficacy of other chemotherapy drugs. Indeed, we recently showed that the cancer-killing property of radiotherapy was dramatically enhanced when cannabinoids were used in combination with this treatment – certain forms of brain cancer were reduced to sizes that were difficult to detect. Taken together, all of these features show a profile with great anti-cancer potential.
Good afternoon, class. Over the next three weeks I would like to explain the concept of extracting cannabinoids and other phytochemicals (compounds made by plants) from marijuana. I will discuss three methods used in the extraction process: carbon dioxide subcritical extraction, carbon dioxide supercritical fluid extraction, and hydrocarbon extraction, and I will explain the pros and cons of each method. Today’s lesson will explain the chemical process of extraction, focusing on subcritical fluid carbon dioxide extraction. Get your notebooks ready because we are about to dive into some chemistry.
While cannabis alters the functions of neurobiological circuits controlling appetite, its effect on weight gain is complex since several factors appear to be involved, says Didier Jutras-Aswad, University of Montreal professor and researcher at the CHUM Research Centre. “It is known – and often reported by users – that cannabis causes temporary increase in appetite. As to whether it actually causes weight gain in the long term, the available data is limited. The question is all the more difficult to answer since many other factors can influence weight. For instance, cannabis use may be associated with cigarette smoking, which also alters appetite, and many effects of cannabis vary by gender and level of use. For this study, we wanted to better understand the association between cannabis and weight gain by paying particular attention to these factors. The main finding of our study shows that long-term cannabis use indeed influences weight gain. But above all, we noted that certain factors drastically modify this effect, including gender, level of use, and concomitant cigarette smoking.”
Getting high in senior year: Researchers examine whether reasons for smoking pot are associated [Science Daily]
A new study, published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse by researchers affiliated with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), examines how reasons for illicit marijuana use relates to the use of other drugs individually, rather than grouping them into a single “illicit drug” group. “It seems that only a subset of illicit marijuana users is at risk for use of other illicit drugs,” notes Palamar. “Most teens who use marijuana don’t progress to use of other drugs and we believe this is evidenced in part by the fact that nearly two-thirds of these marijuana-using teens did not report use of any of the other illicit drugs we examined.”
Decriminalization doesn’t address marijuana’s standing as a drug of the poor [The Conversation]
Cannabis – the plant that supplies marijuana – has a long history as a drug used primarily by lower social classes. Going all the way back to the 1500s, the vast majority of cannabis users have occupied socioeconomic margins: slaves, hard laborers, sex workers, prisoners and low-ranking sailors and soldiers. These people used cannabis to cope with the terrible conditions they experienced. The origin of the word “marijuana” foreshadowed its current use. Historically, the earliest and most numerous group of users in the Americas were slaves from western Central Africa (modern Gabon to Angola). Their words for cannabis are now used in nearly all the places they (involuntarily) ended up during the 1700s and 1800s, which includes West Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Most notably, in Central America, the Kimbundu (Angolan) word mariamba became the Spanish word marihuana. The slaves’ vocabulary survived because people of all backgrounds valued the plant’s ability to help them cope with day-to-day lives characterized by hard labor, exploitation and trauma. Mariamba had the same mix of medicinal and recreational uses that it does today.
BE.E SCOOTER | ELECTRIC SCOOTER MADE OF HEMP [je-bi-ga]
Be.e Electric Scooter is a joint project completed by InHolland, NPSP Composites, van.eko and Dutch designers Waarmakers. It is in fact made of flax, hemp and bio-resin, however impossible this might sound. It features a monocoque body made of natural composites that are a result of a shift from glass-fiber composites to flax (mixed with bio-resin)-fiber composites. The Be.e scooter packs a 4kW electric motor that can make it run up to 55 km/h which is 34 mph – just about enough for short city runs that scooters are meant to be used for. The range of this vehicle, provided by the 48 V/40 Ah battery, runs from 55 km to about 90 km, depending on the way you ride it, road conditions and the average speed, but even the shortest option should be enough. The charger is 600 W. It can recharge the scooter fully in less than three hours and it is placed in a lockable storage space is large enough to hide a helmet when it’s not used.
Cannabis Law In Australia [Hemp Edification]
Cannabis Use and Possession is Illegal All Over Australia, But The Penalties Vary Greatly From State to State.
Pope Francis has made an unexpected request for his upcoming trip to Bolivia – he wants to chew coca leaves, the natural source of cocaine, according to a government official. Bolivia says it will “await the Holy Father” with the “sacred” leaves. Culture Minister Marko Machicao told state broadcasters that the Bolivian government “offered [the Pope] coca tea or something for the altitude”on his upcoming visit. But the pontiff apparently has his sights on chewing coca leaves, which have been used by local people to ward off the effects of altitude for centuries. They are also believed to help with muscle pain and stave off hunger and thirst, and can be used for medicinal and food purposes.
In one of the great tragedies of our age, indigenous traditions, stories, cultures and knowledge are winking out across the world. Whole languages and mythologies are vanishing, and in some cases even entire indigenous groups are falling into extinction. This is what makes the news that a tribe in the Amazon—the Matsés peoples of Brazil and Peru—have created a 500-page encyclopedia of their traditional medicine all the more remarkable. The encyclopedia, compiled by five shamans with assistance from conservation group Acaté, details every plant used by Matsés medicine to cure a massive variety of ailments.
Blood pressure drug erases memories of addiction [Science Alert]
Rats addicted to alcohol and cocaine are now free and clear. We’ve come a long way from when we thought addiction was just a simple chemical reaction between the brain and a substance designed to kick our dopamine levels into hyperdrive. Now we know that there are certain genetic factors involved, making some people more genetically predisposed to addiction, and what makes it even harder to stay clean is there are many deep-seated social and environmental influences involved in how strong a feeling of addiction can become, and how likely a relapse will be. With that in mind, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin in the US have investigated the possibility of using prescription drugs that promote brain plasticity as a treatment for addiction, because it could ‘rewire’ a person’s brain to forget about these influences. The drug isradipine, which is currently on the market for the treatment of high blood pressure, has so far only been tested on rats addicted to cocaine and alcohol, but within days, erased all memory of addiction-triggering cues.
Grateful Dead’s Security Flyer For Dealing With People On LSD Leaks [Live for Live Music]
A security precaution regarding handling people who are on LSD at the Grateful Dead reunion shows has leaked. It warns that “guests under the influence of LSD may ‘see’ images, ‘hear’ sounds, and/or ‘feel’ sensations that do not actually exist.” It goes further to break down a “pleasurable” vs. “upsetting” trip. Attendees on acid having a pleasurable experience, they explain, may “sit or recline in a trance-like state” or “dance or spin with intricate and repetitive hand motions.”Workers are instructed to refrain from referring to these people as “tripping,” remain calm and non-aggressive, and treat others the way they would want to be treated. Check out the complete document.