HEMP Embassy Headlines 170


Harm Reduction

Drug use is a health issue. Overcoming addiction to harmful drugs begins with understanding the reasons for abuse. Cannabis helps stop using dangerous drugs, like alcohol, ice, tobacco, heroin & pain-killers. Cannabis reduces harm and provides.relief.

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.

Dr Andrew Katelaris claims medical marijuana is a lifesaving treatment [News]

“It’s bizarre that in the 21st Century we have to hide the production of life saving medicine,” says Dr Andrew Katelaris as he opens the panel to his secret makeshift laboratory hidden inside a bedroom wardrobe. For more than a decade Dr Katelaris has been brewing his therapeutic cannabis oil in the shadows, away from the watchful eyes of the main medical establishment who have shunned his zealot-like approach to medical marijuana. Dr Katelaris was struck off the medical register in 2005 for conducting research into the drug. He has been arrested dozens of times and charged for a range of drug offences. Since then he has aggressively pursued his belief that cannabis can be used to treat illnesses and has focused on producing an oil that alleviates the symptoms of childhood epilepsy. And he has done it knowing he could be arrested again. It might seem extreme, but for the man making medical marijuana for kids, he says the risk is worth it. “I haven’t sought to avoid legal troubles,” Dr Katelaris says in a new documentary called The Pot Doctor. “Our primary motivation is to actually advance the cause of medical cannabis. “Over the last few years even though I have operated quite openly I haven’t attracted any negative legal intervention which is appreciated but we’re prepared to fight on any front that’s presented and if its necessary that we go to court and dispute the prohibition against medical cannabis and that’s what we will do.”

Andrew is on a roll!

For over 20 years Andrew Katelaris has researched the medicinal properties of Cannabis. Despite being deregistered as a practitioner in 2006, Katelaris continues to prescribe, produce and distribute Cannabis oil to a dozen families with children suffering from brain damaging and life threatening seizures.

Incessant legal pressure has done nothing but fuel Andrew’s passion as he vows to fight “the draconian laws” and social paranoia surrounding this “life saving medicine.” “When the law is unjust, resistance is mandatory”.

Meet Dr. Andrew Katelaris at these upcoming events in October:



Cannabis-smoking teens less likely to complete education [UNSW National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre]

Teenagers who smoke cannabis at least once a week are less likely to finish school, enrol in university or obtain a degree, according to UNSW research that challenges notions that cannabis use is less harmful than alcohol use.A study of 3,600 young people from Australia and New Zealand found lower educational outcomes for those who smoked cannabis before the age of 17.Just under half (47%) of those who used at least weekly failed to complete high school, 69% did not enrol in university and 88% did not obtain a degree, according to the study which was led by UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC).

The good politics of bad drug policy has brought about the rise of ice [The Guardian]

Drivers in the outback used to sometimes see warnings advising them to select their rut carefully as they would be in that rut for the next 50km. Australia, like most other countries, has been in the same drug policy rut for the last half century. Along with many other countries, based on three UN treaties, certain drugs have been deemed unacceptable and people who used them punished severely. Our politicians like to say that Australia has a “balanced” approach to drug policy even though our nine governments allocated 9% of the $1.7bn spent in response to drugs in 2009/10 to prevention, 21% to drug treatment, 2% to harm reduction and a whopping 66% to law enforcement. The threshold policy step required for Australia is to redefine drugs as primarily a health and social problem. And the most important action required of government is investing in drug treatment to improve its capacity, quality, range and flexibility.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione gets a $100k a year pay rise [Sydney Morning Herald]

A $100,000 pay rise for NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has been criticised by the NSW Greens, who say the state’s cop has been caught out in a classic case of “doing as I say, not what I do”. Mr Scipione has negotiated a 20 per cent pay increase with the state government as part of his agreement to stay on as commissioner for up to two more years. Last financial year Mr Scipione’s remuneration package was $497,000.  The pay rise, which is still to go through the statutory remuneration tribunal, will take his pay package to almost $600,000 a year.  That salary is less than the $634,880 paid to the Australian Federal Police commissioner and the $691,200 paid to the head of the newly created Border Force.  It is, however, more than the man who reappointed him – Premier Mike Baird. Greens MP David Shoebridge said the $100,000 a year rise was also greater than the entire salary of even the highest paid police constable, which is $73,651. Mr Shoebridge said Mr Scipione’s pay increase came after the commissioner argued at the Industrial Relations Commission against a 5 per cent increase for officers during the previous wage dispute. The Police Association of NSW achieved a 3.5 per cent increase in 2012. “While the commissioner is on the record as wanting all other uniformed police to be capped at a 2.5 per cent pay rise, he has cut a deal that sees his salary skyrocket by $100,000.”

Opioid prescription painkiller misuse surges [The Age]

Misuse of powerful opioid prescription painkillers has  surged in  the past three years, prompting one of the country’s leading medical groups to call for a reduction in the number of scripts handed out. According to the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey report, the misuse of opioid painkillers increased from 4.8 per cent of the Australian population in 2010, to 7.7 per cent in 2013. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians wants more education for doctors about how chronic pain is treated and a re-evaluation of other treatments to reduce “inappropriate” prescriptions. RACP president Nick Talley​ said a multi-discipline approach was often the best way to treat chronic pain, which could include physical exercise, psychological assessment, diet or rehabilitation. Opioids, which are a depressant used to reduce chronic pain, are one of the most over-prescribed pain medications in Australia, Professor Talley said, and can lead to addiction.

Half of drivers caught on drugs in regional NSW police swoop [The Australian]

Almost half of all drivers tested positive for illegal drugs, including ice, during a recent police operati­on in regional NSW, with the rate of motorists using narcotics across Australia many times higher than that of those driving while drunk. Police have recorded similar figures in several recent operations ranging from far north Queensland to Victoria in recent months, where between one in two and one in seven drivers have been found to be under the influence of drugs. Senior police commanders and politicians say the results raise serious fears over public safety and confirm how widespread ice, or crystal methamphetamine, has become through­out the country. “The figures we’re seeing are horrifying,” said NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipi­one, who has called for a repeat of the decades-long public education campaign against drink-driving.

50% of Shropshire drivers ‘high on drugs’ – UK police [RT]

Half of the English county of Shropshire’s motorists are stoned at the wheel, as new figures suggest 50 percent of those stopped by police are failing roadside drug inspections.  Since new ‘instant tests’ were introduced in March to tackle drink driving in Shropshire, police were stunned to discover that drug driving was the county’s real issue. According to West Mercia Police figures, 50 percent of drivers were found to be under the influence of drugs, 30 percent higher than those caught drink driving. On Tuesday, the force said it had tested 129 motorists in Shropshire since March.

Pro-cannabis event fails to draw crowds [Essex Chronicle]

A pro-cannabis picnic held in an Essex park turned into an impromptu medical consultation session when residents turned out to ask if the drug can help their ailments. The Essex Cannabis Community hosted a picnic in Chelmsford’s Central Park on Saturday in support of the medical use of cannabis. Terry Virgo, 72, from Melbourne, Chelmsford, arrived looking for help with pain relief as he suffers from skin cancer and prostate cancer. “I came here today to find out if I can get any help with my issues with cancer,” he told the Chronicle. Terry was recommended Rick Simpson Oil by an avid user and cannabis convert Lee Cruz, 27, from Southend. Lee said: “It makes me feel good that I can recommend something for Terry to try – I know that the oil can do the body good for all sorts of things – it hasn’t got to be smoked.” The oil was invented by American Rick Simpson who claims to have cured his own skin cancer in 2003 by using oil he created with a cannabis plant. Terry added: “I have no issues with anyone using cannabis and certainly not these chaps who have been very kind and friendly – I don’t smoke at all but I’m willing to look into the medicinal benefits. They haven’t tried to rip me off or sell me anything, they just gave me advice.” Organiser Danny Kelly, 29, said: “This is why we wanted to hold something like this so we can help educate people about how cannabis can help them – people can come together and talk about what works and what doesn’t and we can all learn. There’s a lot of misinformation about cannabis and we feel it’s time for a grown-up conversation about its use.”

Cannabis ‘forest’ discovered in south-west London [The Guardian]

A cannabis “forest” has been discovered by police officers in a leafy borough of south-west London. About 150 marijuana plants surrounded by native plant life were found by police officers from Kingston upon Thames who posted images of the discovery on social media. PC Sarah Henderson, of Kingston, said: “The area these plants were growing on was the size of a football pitch, it looked like a small forest of Christmas trees and was complete with a gazebo. “Whoever set this up used a really remote spot. The only way to get there was a 20-minute walk through wasteland. But all their time, trouble and gardening skills will go unrewarded, as the whole lot will now be destroyed by police.” No arrests had been made and inquires were continuing to find those responsible for cultivating the plants.

UK woman who grew cannabis to help dying husband gets community order [The Guardian]

A woman who grew cannabis worth £34,000 to extract hemp oil to act as a painkiller for her dying husband has been sentenced to an 18-month community order after a judge accepted she was not embroiled in a commercial enterprise. Jeanette Hurst, 58, produced the oil to be used as treatment for her cancer-suffering husband, Roy, Burnley crown court heard. The hearing was told that Mr Hurst, a former prison and drugs officer, ate the oil with chewy fruit sweets to mask the taste. Hurst said she grew the drug after hearing it would help his condition.

UK Ex-police chief to head pro-legalisation National Cannabis Coalition [The Guardian]

A former chief constable is to head a new umbrella organisation of cannabis law reform campaign groups that will seek to change views about the use of the drug. Tom Lloyd, formerly of Cambridgeshire police, will chair the National Cannabis Coalition (NCC), an alliance of groups calling for legal access to the drug for recreational use for adults and for medicinal use for anybody who needs it.Lloyd has said he now regrets investigating and arresting drug users during his career as a policeman in London and Cambridge. “When you think about arresting somebody who is in possession of drugs, are you really catching a criminal?” he asked. “When it came to law enforcement I think I caused more harm than good.” The new organisation, which incorporates groups including Norml UK, the UK Cannabis Social Clubs and the United Patients Alliance, aims to move from grassroots protests to political campaigning, targeting decision makers in UK drug policy.

Legal pot sales begin Thursday in Oregon [Oregon Live]

Starting Thursday, marijuana becomes as accessible as a six-pack of beer for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. The first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in 1973 and home to one of the country’s oldest medical marijuana programs, Oregon this week joins Colorado and Washington as the only places in the country where anyone 21 and older can buy marijuana in a state-regulated marketplace.

How Mississippi Slashed Its Prison Population and Embraced Criminal Justice Reform [Vice News]

If Mississippi were a country, two years ago it would have had the second highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. The state’s conservative politicians spent years increasing sentences for offenders and decreasing parole, a tough-on-crime double-whammy that kept landing more and more people behind bars — until last year, when legislators finally came to their senses. Mississippi lawmakers coalesced around a set of complex criminal justice system reforms in 2014, leading to a dramatic 15 percent reduction in the size of the state’s prison population over the course of one year, according to numbers released recently by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The next closest state was Vermont, which saw a decline of less than 5 percent. Though Mississippi’s incarceration rate remains the fifth highest nationwide, the recent progress is being hailed as a model for how liberal and conservatives can agree on prison reforms.

New Bill Would Cut Off Federal Forfeiture Funds For DEA Marijuana Seizures [Forbes]

A new bipartisan bill would eliminate a controversial source of funding for one federal marijuana seizure program. Last week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the “Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act.” The bill is quite simple: It would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Additionally, the bill would ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property “is used for any purpose pertaining to” the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.Under this program, the DEA receives federal forfeiture funds ($18 million in 2013), which it then funnels to over 120 local and state agencies to eliminate marijuana grow sites nationwide. Last year, the program was responsible for over 6,300 arrests, eradicating over 4.3 million marijuana plants and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all plants destroyed were in California, which also accounted for over one-third of seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.

Bundle of marijuana worth $10,000 falls from the sky and crushes doghouse [The Guardian]

Maya Donnelly awoke to what sounded like thunder in the early morning hours, but dismissed it as a typical monsoon storm and went back to sleep. Later that morning, she looked in the carport at her home in Nogales, near the US-Mexico border, and saw pieces of wood on the ground.  She found a bulky bundle wrapped in black plastic. Inside was roughly 26lbs of marijuana – a package that authorities say was worth $10,000 and was likely dropped there accidentally by a drug smuggler’s aircraft. Police are now trying to determine whether the bundle was transported by an aircraft or a pilotless drone. Such runs usually occur at night. “It’s all right on top of our dog’s house,” Donnelly said of the incident, which occurred on 8 September and was first reported by the Nogales International newspaper. “It just made a perfectly round hole through our carport.”

United States’ first marijuana resort to be opened in South Dakota [The Guardian]

The Santee Sioux is opening the nation’s first marijuana resort on its reservation in South Dakota. The experiment could offer a new money-making model for tribes nationwide seeking economic opportunities beyond casinos. Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow their own marijuana and sell it in a smoking lounge that will include a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service and, eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue. “We want it to be an adult playground,” the tribal president, Anthony Reider, said. “There’s nowhere else in America that has something like this.” The tribe said the project could generate up to $2m a month in profit, and work is already under way on the growing facility. The first marijuana cigarettes are expected to go on sale 31 December at a New Year’s Eve party. The legalization of marijuana on the Santee Sioux land came in June, months after the Department of Justice outlined a new policy that allows Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states.

Pot Arrests Up: 1 Every 45 Seconds Last Year [US News]

American law enforcement officers arrested one person for marijuana every 45 seconds in 2014, data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show. The nearly 701,000 marijuana arrests, about 90 percent for possession alone, reveal an increase in busts for the first time since 2009, despite the spread of more lenient laws and policies. In 2013, by contrast, cops made about 693,000 arrests for possession, sale or production of marijuana, down from an all-time high of 873,000 in 2007. It’s unclear why the number of arrests increased last year, particularly given the nationwide sea change in attitudes about the status of marijuana and political actions that decriminalized or abolished penalties for possessing the drug.

Board issues marijuana rules, announces retail license application schedule [Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board]

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) today adopted emergency rules and issued new draft rules to begin the public process of aligning the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market. The Board’s actions are the result of 2015 legislation, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which established a priority system for licensing existing medical marijuana outlets. The emergency rules, which are effective immediately, allow the WSLCB to begin the process of licensing new retail outlets that may sell both medical and recreational marijuana. Existing recreational stores may also apply for an endorsement to sell both.

Prohibition Is the Real “Gateway Drug” [Huffington Post]

Drug warriors claim that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” On the contrary, it is the policy of drug prohibition–not the drug per se–that creates a gateway into a criminal underworld of crime and contaminated products. This was brought home by a recent study showing a correlation between alcohol prohibition and meth use by county. When people want a substance that is prohibited, their only option is to turn to criminals who can supply it. This entree into the criminal world becomes a gateway to other illegal–and often more dangerous–activities and substances.  Turning to a criminal underground results in otherwise law-abiding citizens crossing that societal boundary between the legal and the illegal. Besides generally promoting disrespect for law, it gives buyers a level of comfort in a world outside the law.

Canadian multicenter study examines safety of medical cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain [EurekAlert]

A Canadian research team led by Dr. Mark Ware from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montréal has completed a national multicentre study looking at the safety of medical cannabis use among patients suffering from chronic pain. They found that patients with chronic pain who used cannabis daily for one year, when carefully monitored, did not have an increase in serious adverse events compared to pain patients who did not use cannabis. The results, which have been published online in The Journal of Pain, will serve as a benchmark study on the side effects of cannabis when used in pain management.

Costa Del Sol: Brazen Drug Traffickers Unpack £6m Haul Of Cannabis In Front Of Sunbathing Tourists [Huffington Post]

It doesn’t get any more brazen than this. A gang of traffickers pulled up to a beach on the Costa del Sol, Spain, in a Zodiac rubber dinghy and then casually unloaded a reported 2,000kg haul of cannabis in front of crowds of sunbathers, before transferring it to a waiting van. The drugs are said to be worth as much as £6 million if sold in Britain. And it was all caught on video.The drop reportedly happened around 1.30pm on Saturday on the Tubalita beach in Manilva, near Estepona, a popular area for British holidaymakers and expats.

Ayahuasca, Hollywood’s Hip, Heavy Hallucinogen: “It’s Hardly What You Call Partying” [The Hollywood Reporter]

Call it group therapy in 2015 Los Angeles. At a Topanga Canyon house, a shaman from the Amazon River region has been flown in for an expenses-paid weekend, to the tune of up to $10,000, to perform an ayahuasca ceremony. Somber people sit on mattresses in a circle on the floor, buckets and rolls of toilet paper placed ominously in front of them, with the occasional crystal decorating the tableau. The man in the middle wears Peruvian cottons and feathers in his hair and is called an ayahuascaro or curandero, as shamans are known in the Amazon. He will administer the muddy tea — as far from Earl Grey or Darjeeling as it gets — boiled from chacruna leaves and ayahuasca (also called caapi), one of the world’s most potent psychedelics, derived from a vine that grows only in Peru and Brazil (though lately it has been harvested from parts of Hawaii). He will watch over the participants as a type of hallucinogenic conductor. Purported effects of imbibing include life-altering visions, clarifi­cation of purpose and a lifetime of psychiatry — all in one dose.

Unhealthy Diet May Shrink the Brain [Medscape]

Consumption of an unhealthy Western diet characterized by meat, hamburgers, chips, and soft drinks, may reduce the volume of the left hippocampus, whereas a healthy diet of fresh vegetables and fish may increase hippocampal volume. In a study of more than 250 individuals, investigators found that during a period of 4 years, there was a difference of more than 200 cubic millimeters in hippocampal volume between individuals who ate a healthy diet and those who consumed an unhealthy diet. “To our knowledge, this is the first human study to demonstrate associations between diet and hippocampal volume concordant with data previously observed in animal studies,” investigators led by Felice N. Jacka, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Nutritional Psychiatry Research at Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, write. “These findings suggest the potential for dietary interventions to promote hippocampal health, decrease age-related atrophy, and prevent negative health outcomes associated with hippocampal atrophy,” they add.


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