HEMP Embassy Headlines 172


Remember the Hippies?

The word ‘marijuana’ has a long history dating back to the 19th century when it was first used in English. Marihuana is considered to be a Mexican Spanish word and had no inherent racial or derogatory connotations until the 1930s when it was used to influence opinion on migrants in the USA. Whatever cultural significance ‘marijuana’ may have once had as a racially loaded word was eclipsed in the 1960s, when marijuana was lovingly embraced by the hippie culture and was cast in a positive light.

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.

Medicinal cannabis could be legally available by 2016 [Sydney Morning Herald]

Medicinal cannabis could be legally grown and prescribed to patients as early as next year under a cross party bill that has attracted initial support from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Greens leader, senator Richard Di Natale, announced on Monday that the bill to create a regulator for medicinal cannabis for certain conditions had been drafted and would be put before the Senate for a vote in November. While Victoria and NSW state governments had indicated that they wanted to legalise medicinal cannabis, a federal regulatory scheme was required to do this: “We need national laws to make sure we can licence growers … that doctors can prescribe this and that the medication gets in the hands of patients who need it.”

Tasmanian mother using medicinal cannabis to treat daughter’s seizures doesn’t want part in NSW trial [ABC]

A Tasmanian mother illegally using medicinal cannabis has ruled out participating in the New South Wales trial of the drug. The Tasmanian Government is finalising its involvement in the trial and has offered to supply participants from the state. However, that could prove difficult, with some parents who use the drug to treat their seriously ill children refusing to put them at risk. Hobart mother Nicole Cowles treats her nine-year-old daughter Alice’s life-threatening seizures with cannabis oil, even though it is illegal. She will not allow her to be part of the trial. “The risk of being given a placebo, or sugar water more or less, is terrifying especially, when her seizures are so life-threatening and so well controlled now in comparison to how they ever have been,” Ms Cowles said. Premier Will Hodgman had previously nominated Alice as a candidate for the New South Wales trial, but Ms Cowles said she had not been approached. “I think possibly they may be struggling to get the numbers for the trials. There is a place for trials but I wouldn’t put my own daughter into the trial going ahead in New South Wales,” she said. She is calling for Tasmania to take a more “patient-focussed” approach.

We didn’t see ourselves as dope dealers. We were doing the best for our son [The Guardian]

My husband and I lost our son to cancer earlier this year. The only thing that eased his nausea was cannabis. Legalisation for medical use is well overdue in Australia. [Lucy Haslam]

Parade of 70 alleged drug drivers in Lismore Court [Northern Star]

The parade of alleged drug drivers continued at Lismore Local Court today with 70 people charged with driving with an illicit substance in their system. Since September 14, more than 190 people have faced Lismore Local court on drug driving charges which can cost up to $600 to return a positive test.  This is a cost currently paid for by the state government.  A NSW police spokesman said in the NSW Town of Griffith, one in five drivers tested positive to roadside drug tests, while in some towns one in three people tested positive.  In 2014 across NSW, one in 10 drivers tested positive to roadside drug tests, prompting the NRMA to convene a round table discussion on the issue last month. Magistrate Jeff Linden told the court there was a saturation police presence in regard to drug driving on the Northern Rivers. Several alleged offenders had been caught more than once by roadside drug tests, one man had been caught three times. Some of the alleged offenders told Mr Linden they used cannabis tincture for medicinal reasons. Each drug test costs $49, according to Nimbin Hemp Embassy President Michael Balderstone, while breath tests cost as little as $1. This cost has prompted Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester to call on the Federal Government to fund the drug tests.

How We Could All Benefit From Cannabis Regulation [GQ]

A few years from today, once other Australian states have followed the lead set by Victoria in early October 2015 to move toward the legalisation of cultivating cannabis for medicinal purposes, the nation might finally be ready to have a conversation that needs to be had. Namely: why don’t we regulate and tax the recreational use of cannabis, our most popular illicit drug? At least 1.9 million Australians use cannabis each year, according to the most recent data from the United Nations 2014 World Drug Report. This is a huge proportion of Australians, and it’s significant for a couple of reasons. First, that’s a lot of adults of voting age, who’d probably be keen to support political parties that provide reasonable alternatives to the tired, ineffective tough-on-drugs approach we’ve seen in this country for generations. And second, this number represents an enormous amount of disposable income that’s leaking from the national economy into an unregulated market, far beyond the reach of the Australian Taxation Office.

This little piggy went weed, weed, weed all the way home [Brisbane Times]

A feral pig was observed by police eating leafy green material during a search of a property at Meringandan West, near Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs, last week. Police found a 1.6m high cannabis plant and 140.7 grams of marijuana during their search but the pig wouldn’t give up his stash, with police unable to seize the two plants he was eating. A 44-year-old man was charged with possession and production of marijuana and is due to appear in Oakey Magistrates Court on October 21.

NZ Order Denies its Founder went to Pot [NZ Catholic]

There is no evidence that Mother Suzanne Aubert ever used or grew cannabis, her order says, despite claims made in a new film about the drug in New Zealand. According to a press release from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, a new film called Druglawed mentions Mother Aubert. Druglawed had an “Underworld Premiere” in Auckland in January. The film, which is a documentary about the cannabis issue in New Zealand, is scheduled for a screening in Melbourne in December. According to the party’s press release, “the film also documents New Zealand’s first cultivator of medical cannabis, Mother Mary Aubert”. Another media report stated that Mother Aubert “concocted medicinal brews of cannabis hemp to ease menstrual pains as well as to help asthmatics and recovering alcoholics”. The order founded by Mother Aubert, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, sent a statement on the issue to NZ Catholic. It said that stories about Mother Aubert experimenting with or being the first person in New Zealand to cultivate cannabis (marijuana or hemp), are based on anecdotal accounts “many times removed from a direct source”.

Medical marijuana: California governor signs bills to regulate industry [The Guardian]

Legislation creates first statewide licensing and operating rules for cannabis growers and retailers, prompting a divided reaction among advocates. Three bills aimed at bringing order and oversight to California’s medical marijuana industry nearly 20 years after the state became the first to legalise the drug for medical use have won Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, his office saidon Friday. The bills create the first statewide licensing and operating rules for pot growers, manufacturers of cannabis-infused products and retail weed outlets since California voters legalised medical marijuana in 1996. A number of groups are trying to qualify voter initiatives for the November 2016 ballot that would legalise recreational marijuana in California. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who unlike Brown has endorsed the idea of allowing adults to use marijuana for fun, said getting the state’s freewheeling medical marijuana industry under control would ease the transition to a system that also addressed recreational use.

Oregon marijuana stores sell more than $11m in first week of recreational sales [The Guardian]

The Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association estimates that marijuana stores sold more than $11m of marijuana during the state’s first week of legal recreational sales. The Statesman Journal in Salem reported that Oregon sales outpaced the first week of recreational sales in Colorado and Washington. Colorado’s first week of sales reached $5m. In Washington state, sales during the first month hit $2m.  Retailers of Cannabis Association executive director Casey Houlihan says the first day alone brought in $3.5m in Oregon. Marijuana stores opened their doors to recreational users on 1 October.

Bernie Sanders indicates support for legal marijuana [The Guardian]

Vermont senator the first major presidential candidate to signal a vote for legalizing marijuana given the chance. Bernie Sanders signaled a distinct shift in the debate over drug policy in the US on Tuesday night, when he indicated he would support marijuana legalization. When Sanders was asked during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas how he would vote in a referendum on marijuana legalization in Nevada if he had a vote, the Vermont senator said: “I suspect I would vote yes.” Sanders added: “We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs walk away and yet we are giving prison sentences to young people who smoke marijuana.” This represented a shift from past statements where Sanders said he would have to look at the success of a law legalizing the drug in Colorado. This is the first time a major presidential candidate has said “he’d probably vote for legalizing marijuana if given the chance”, according to Tom Angell, a spokesman for the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority. He added in a statement to the Guardian: “That says a lot about how far the politics on this issue have shifted in a very short amount of time.” In contrast, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton declined to weigh in on the topic. When asked if she was “ready to take a position on full recreational legalization tonight,” Clinton simply responded: “No.” Angell added: “Legalization is at the forefront of mainstream American politics, and politicians are starting to treat it as such.”

Cannabis regulation in Colorado: early evidence defies the critics [Transform]

Given that Colorado’s cannabis market only began trading in January 2014, it is not yet possible to draw firm conclusions about longer-term impacts. But a review of early evidence on key indicators suggests that, aside from some relatively minor teething problems, the state’s regulatory framework has defied the critics, and its impacts have been largely positive.There has been no obvious spike in young people’s cannabis use, road fatalities, or crime, and there have been a number of positives, including a dramatic drop in the number of people being criminalised for cannabis offences; a substantial contraction in the illicit trade, as the majority of supply is now regulated by the government; and a significant increase in tax revenue, which is now being spent on social programmes. Consistent public support for legalisation also suggests Coloradans perceive the reforms to have been a success. Where challenges have emerged, for example around cannabis edibles, the flexibility of the regulations has allowed for modification to address them.

Marijuana industry rides high thanks to celebrity investors [The Guardian]

Lured by rapid growth prospects for a lifestyle product long beloved by many celebrities, many are starting to pour their money into one of the newest US industries: marijuana. The list of celebrities who are financially (and publicly) backing pot-related businesses includes a number of individuals whose support will likely surprise no one, including rapper Snoop Dogg, country music star Willie Nelson, actor Seth Rogen, and members of the late Bob Marley’s family. But there’s also a growing list of celebrities not commonly associated with marijuana. Former boyband star (and ex-husband of Jessica Simpson) Nick Lachey, former NBA great Oscar Robertson, former talk show host Montel Williams, singer Melissa Etheridge, and current NFL defensive tackle Frostee Rucker are all investing money in pot. For some, it is an affinity for marijuana that drove them to get into the business. “A lot of the celebrities that have invested so far, this has been their hobby for a long time,” Chris Walsh, the managing editor at Marijuana Business Daily, said. “Many are tied to cannabis on a personal level.”

The Role Of Social Media In Your Marijuana Company [MedMen]

Building brand recognition is crucial to any new business. The marijuana industry is still fairly new, due to prohibition and the limited number of state programs that are actually successful. As the industry continues to grow and new businesses are popping up, consumption is also growing, causing the marketplace to become saturated with companies vying to be the next big brand. Currently, two types of marijuana brands can easily be identified: ones that are extremely sterile, in an attempt to associate themselves with the medical and pharmaceutical industries, and ones that are extremely lax and focused on 420 culture. This post will speak to the importance of social media in the marijuana industry, how to create your brand identity, and how to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Cannabis legalisation worth millions – government report [BBC]

Legalising cannabis could generate hundreds of millions of pounds a year in tax and cut costs for the police and prisons, a government study has found. The internal Treasury report, obtained by BBC Newsnight, said regulating the market would “generate notable tax revenue” and “lead to overall savings to the criminal justice system”. MPs debated the issue on Monday, after a petition calling for legalisation drew more than 220,000 signatures. Ministers do not plan to alter the law. The Home Office said it had “no plans” to change the law on cannabis, which is currently classified as a Class B illegal drug, adding that cannabis use was falling gradually.

Today’s cannabis debate shows how irrational Westminster has become [Politics UK]

The MPs responding to constituents’ letters on the matter have issued the most banal recital of Home Office argument imaginable. There is no evidence whatsoever of independent thought. But at least they have the excuse of lack of interest or comprehension. The most severe criticism must be reserved for those who understand and do nothing. That includes nearly every leader of a mainstream political party, because one of the weird secrets of the drug war is that we are governed almost exclusively by cowardly drug reformers. Jeremy Corbyn believes “the cannabis battle in the war against drugs is being lost”. David Cameron believes it would be “disappointing” if radical options on cannabis law weren’t pursued. Tim Farron believes “the war on drugs must end”. Nigel Farage believes “the war on drugs was lost many, many years ago and that the lives of millions of people in Britain are being made miserable by the huge criminal element that surrounds the illicit drugs trade”. Or at least, they believe those things until they attain power, and then they change their tune. Of these men, only Farron has really followed through, although Farage deserves credit for making the case to a party unlikely to agree with him. Having gone into the last election pledging radical drug reform, the Lib Dems are today announcing the establishment of a panel on how to create a legal market in cannabis. It’s a rare instance of courage in a cowardly debate. Everyone else remains terrified of a presumed tabloid backlash. That’s why the first thing Gordon Brown did when he became prime minister was give in to Mail editor Paul Dacre’s demands and reclassify cannabis as Class B, despite there being no evidence whatsoever of harm.

Why won’t people face the evidence on legalising cannabis? [The Independent]

We filter out information that does not fit our existing biases. In recent years a raft of studies has shown how much we overestimate the rational mind and our ability to analyse information objectively. In his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, Daniel Kahneman explains how the brain manages the vast amount of information it is forced to process by adapting it to preconceived ideas of how the world works. Information that produces “cognitive dissonance” – stuff that doesn’t make instinctive sense – is filtered out and rejected. Information that produces “cognitive ease” – stuff that confirms your preconceptions – is accepted and applied. Kahneman even observed that cognitive ease made the subjects’ pupils dilate. Proof that I’m not the only one who loves being right.

The other green belt [The Economist]

It takes a lot for marijuana growers to attract police attention these days. In July four forces—Derbyshire, Dorset, Durham and Surrey—declared that they would henceforth respond only to tip-offs and “blatant” weed use. Many other forces have also scaled things down, albeit quietly, according to Steve Rolles of Transform, a drug-policy think-tank. This is partly due to a lack of resources: the police budget has been cut by 25% in the past five years, and constables haven’t the time to go looking for those with “a couple of plants at home”, says Alan Charles, Derbyshire’s elected police commissioner. Many forces have anyway long been sceptical about the value of prosecuting low-level drug offenders. Pressing on with an ineffective war on drugs is “bonkers”, says Mr Charles. Slacker policing has coincided with a rise over the past five years of cannabis “social clubs” in Britain. There are now around 80 of these non-profit organisations. Cultivating and possessing the drug are criminal offences in Britain, and most clubs describe themselves as campaigning organisations. “It’s not illegal to talk about weed,” says Greg de Hoedt, the president of United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC), an umbrella group. But some chapters’ members hint heavily that they are involved in growing; UKCSC’s website acknowledges that some clubs “are simply there to look after their needs and remove themselves from artificial and unnecessary economical chains”.

Liberal Democrats set up expert panel on cannabis legalisation [The Guardian]

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an expert panel to establish how a legal market for cannabis could work in Britain, paving the way for them to become the first major political party in the UK to back its legalisation. The move is backed the party’s health spokesman, Norman Lamb, and by a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Brian Paddick. It is in line with a 2014 party conference resolution which called for a review of the effectiveness of a regulated market in relation to health and reduced criminal activity. The review panel members will include Prof David Nutt, the founder of DrugScience and a former chairman of the government’s advisory committee on the misuse of drugs, Tom Lloyd a former Cambridgeshire chief constable and chair of the National Cannabis Coalition, and Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of Release, a drugs charity. The panel is to be chaired by Steve Rolles, of the drugs policy campaign group Transform.

Banning cannabis has failed – now is the time for UK MPs to show true courage [Mirror]

Prohibition builds empires of criminals and outlaws the world’s most ancient medicine, writes Labour MP Paul Flynn.

Cannabis: healthy benefit or deadly threat? [The Guardian]

With UK MPs set to debate removing the ban, Damien Gayle looks at how the public’s view of cannabis has evolved.

Once and for All, Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug [Vice]

As the 2016 election approaches, marijuana legalization is in the air once again, with ballot initiatives likely to succeed in at least five states, including California. As usual, politicians—includingsome presidential candidates, notably Carly Fiorina—are trying to turn back the tide by spreading fear that weed is a gateway to more dangerous drugs. But research increasingly shows not only that the “gateway” theory is incorrect, but that weed may actually help people with addictions stop taking other drugs, rather than start. On the surface, the gateway idea seems reasonable enough. After all, there are almost no heroin users who didn’t start their illegal drug use with marijuana, and marijuana smokers are 104 times more likely to use cocaine than those haven’t tried weed. Yet as scientists constantly remind us, correlation isn’t the same thing as causation. For example, the number of people killed annually by dogs correlates almost perfectly with the growth in online revenue on Black Friday. And the rise in autism diagnoses is strongly correlated with the growth in sales of organic food. It’s technically possible that some third factor causes both of these apparently haphazard connections. However, it’s completely implausible that these connections are causal, and odds are that the links are due to random chance.

Students more likely to have sex after using marijuana or binge drinking, according to US research [Independent]

Students are more likely to have sex on days they’ve used marijuana or binged* on alcohol, according to new research on intercourse and condom use while under the influence. Professor of psychological science at Oregon State University (OSU) in the US, David Kerr, also found binge drinking and being in a serious dating relationship were linked with less condom use, which puts young adults at risk for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. The findings – published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs – came to light after researchers recruited 284 students to report on their marijuana use, alcohol use, sexual activity, and condom use every day for 24 consecutive days.

Study supports safety of medical cannabis for chronic pain [Pharmaceutical Journal]

Patients with chronic pain who medicate with cannabis were at no higher risk of serious adverse events than patients who did not take cannabis.Researchers from Canada found the rate of serious adverse events among 215 chronic pain patients prescribed cannabis for a year was similar to that of 216 control patients who did not take cannabis. “We found no evidence of harmful effects on cognitive function or blood tests among cannabis consumers and we observed a significant improvement in their levels of pain, symptom distress, mood and quality of life compared with controls,” says lead author Mark Ware from McGill University, Montreal. The results support the safety of medical cannabis under close supervision but future studies should be longer and include non-experienced users of the drug, say the authors in the Journal of Pain (online, 15 September 2015) – Ware MA, Wang T, Shapiro S et al. Cannabis for the management of pain: assessment of safety study (COMPASS). Journal of Pain 2015. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.07.014.

Hair Follicle Drug Tests Can Lead To A False Positive, Thanks To Secondhand Traces Of Marijuana [Medical Daily]

Hair strand drug tests detect the presence of drug metabolites in the follicle. While any discovery of metabolites in hair tests is believed to be undeniable proof of marijuana use, a new studyfrom the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Freiburg, Germany finds that it’s possible to get a false positive. “Our studies show that [the main targets in a hair test] can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke,” wrote Dr. Volker Auwärter, a professor of forensic toxicology, and his colleagues. Worldwide, cannabis is preferred above all other illicit drugs, with an estimated 125 to 227 million users around the globe, the researchers noted. Nearly as popular are drug tests, which commonly focus on urine, sweat, saliva, or hair to detect the presence of this and other illegal substances. Employee drug testing and child protection drug testing often rely on hair analysis, noted the Germany-based researchers in their study. Though sometimes hair tests are used in the United States, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry suggests that urine tests are the most frequently used drug screens.

Guadalajara Declaration: The Time is Now [IDPC]

The harms of the prohibitionist paradigm within the international drug control system have been devastating and it is time to acknowledge that the use of psychoactive drugs is an intrinsic phenomenon of the human experience, making it necessary to promote public health and social protection, while fostering development in Latin America. Guadalajara Declaration: The Time is Now. https://youtu.be/_HmZnenq5gQ

Dr Katelaris vists SE Qld

Dr Andrew Katelaris, Australia’s foremost exponent of medical Cannabis, will speak about the emerging science of Cannabis, its use in childhood epilepsy, pain management, cancer, and many other illnesses, in his talk, Cannabis as Medicine: Fact or Fallacy??, at Kurilpa Hall in West End and at the Nerang Community Centre.

For decades, the scientific investigation of Cannabis was repressed by the Cannabis prohibition, and doctors who took Cannabis medicine seriously found themselves isolated and discredited by the medical establishment. But the recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system has provided a scientific understanding for the growing awareness of the benefits of medical Cannabis across a wide range of seemingly unrelated conditions.

While Cannabis becomes the medical wonder of the twenty-first century, Australia’s Cannabis laws remain firmly stuck in the twentieth century, with fatal consequences. Following his West End talk, join Dr Katelaris in a discussion with patients, lawyers and politicians on the need to urgently legalise medical Cannabis and how best to achieve this.

Speakers include John Ransley (Civil Liberties Council), Grace Sands (medical Cannabis petition), Lanai Carter (medical Cannabis mother), Dr Andrew Katerlaris, and a government representative (to be announced).

Dr Katelaris will speak at:
Kurilpa Hall, 174 Boundary St., West End,
Saturday, October 1712-4pm.

Nerang Community Centre, 833 Southport-Nerang Rd, Nerang,
Sunday, October 18, 10am – 2.30pm.

HEMP on facebook [Plenty More]

Most of the stories in the Headlines are also on the HEMP Party facebook page. There are also many more news articles and plenty of information posted as it appears online. The facebook page has increased in popularity and now has about 120,000 fans, millions of views each week and a very large engagement. The page attracts plenty of interest due the excellent efforts of the HEMP on facebook editors.


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