May The Force Be With You
Advertising campaigns and advice on drug use are a volatile mix, as the inimitable #StonerSloth lesson has shown the world. Upstaging Santa is no mean feat. Oh to be a fly on the wall during the filming that has taken ‘Drug Wars’ to a new low. Not to worry, the campaign has done more good than harm for Cannabis law reform in Australia, especially the young and impressionable.
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.
The campaign, which depicts a stoned sloth failing in class and messing up at the dinner table, is being mercilessly ridiculed by social media users. Many are predicting that, because sloths are cool among young people, the campaign character may be perceived as more loveable than pitiable and it will have the opposite effect of steering young people away from marijuana.
I am not advocating for teens to smoke marijuana, but it is a bizarre target for a government that spends millions mopping up alcohol-related harm, particularly given its associations with motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, and assaults including date rape. Australia’s Preventative Health Taskforce notes that one in five Australians binge-drink at least monthly, with the 20-29 year old age group at highest risk. Of the teenagers that #StonerSloth targets, 28 per cent of females and 24 per cent of males regularly drink at risky levels.
For Mr Smith, the consequences were especially harsh. He was suspended from his work as a disability worker, and was left thousands of dollars out of pocket in the lead up to Christmas because of the bungling. But on Tuesday, the conviction was overturned, with magistrate Heilpern saying that what happened was ‘a great wrong’. Mr Heilpern described the situation as deplorable, and suggested that when the legislature makes laws that lead to this type of injustice, people should contact their local member. Mr Heilpern dismissed the charge under Section 10 of the Crimes Act, meaning Mr Smith keeps his clean driving record.
Phil Warner says that one of the big selling points about his cannabis is that you would have to smoke a “telegraph pole-sized joint” to get high. Warner is proud of the weakness of his cannabis because it promises an answer to one of the big issues facing the nascent medicinal cannabis industry: how to stop cannabis grown for legal medicinal purposes being diverted into the illicit recreational market.
Mr Balderstone said the tests are having a negative impact. “It’s changed drug trends,” he said. “First it was sniffer dogs, now saliva testing, so people are moving away from cannabis into pills, chemical concoctions. “I think it’s far more dangerous and detrimental. “I think for driving we need an impairment test.”
Protesters gather as more than 50 face drug driving charges [northernstar]
As we know the tests can be inaccurate and even a positive does not mean impairment. The road is a convenient place to snare the general community and put people in a double jeopardy of possibly losing their licence and a conviction which leads to losing employment in a percentage of cases, based on drug consumption that may have happened days or even weeks before and in some cases not at all. This is an industry not only destroying lives but devaluing those lives and the net worth of the community. The drug war degrades the economic value of the community.
Oakley, who is believed to be the youngest person diagnosed with SPS in Australia, is fighting back with drugs, but not the type prescribed by doctors.
“I started taking medicinal cannabis oil twice a day eight months ago when conventional medicine did practically nothing for the pain and made me fuzzy in the head,’’ says Oakley now 20.
“In desperation, my parents, who are former nurses, did a lot of research on medicinal cannabis,’’ says Oakley.
“Initially I said ‘no’ but it was the best decision ever it’s been a magic remedy that reduces my pain levels to the point where life is more bearable.”
Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy. The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana.
The Obama Administration came to the defense of legal marijuana states on Wednesday by advising the U.S. Supreme Court not to waste any time entertaining a lawsuit conjured up by Oklahoma and Nebraska over their seething disdain for Colorado’s recreational cannabis trade.
A large majority of the prisoners who received commutations on Friday—64 out of 95—are crack cocaine offenders. There’s a good reason for that. After years of complaints about penalties that arbitrarily treated people caught with the smoked form of cocaine much more severely than people caught with the snorted form, Congress substantially shortened crack sentences in 2010. But it did not make the changes retroactive. Thousands of people therefore continue to serve sentences that almost everyone now agrees are too long.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has all but refused to acknowledge lawful cannabis producers as part of legitimate commerce here in the United States, but that has not stopped the agency from working with corporate drug pushers in the importation of cannabis products to be used to facilitate the Big Pharma takeover of the medical marijuana industry.
Top federal health officials recently told the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law, a document obtained by Marijuana.com reveals, but it is not yet known what that recommendation entails. “DEA recently received the [Department of Health and Human Services] scientific and medical evaluations as well as a scheduling recommendation that HHS prepared in response to” two petitions to reclassify cannabis under federal law, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote in a September 30 letter to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “DEA is currently reviewing these documents and all other relevant data to make a scheduling determination in accordance with the [Controlled Substances Act].”
A young, Bay Area technology billionaire/philanthropist is matching voters dollar for dollar to end cannabis prohibition in the world’s eighth largest economy.
Marijuana Policy Project announced today via an email to supporters that Sean Parker — creator of Napster, and early investor in Facebook — will match all donations to MPP of California. Donors can give the campaign committee any amount, though it’s not tax deductible. “We’re very excited about the generosity he’s shown,” said Mason Tvert, Communications Director of MPP. “This is someone who wants to see marijuana prohibition end and helped bring a lot of folks together, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is.”
The Big Banks Are Starting to Look Hard at Marijuana [theatlantic]
The report, called “Medical Cannabis has high POTential: A joint biotech and tools Primer” does weed the favor of taking it seriously. It focuses primarily on the medical side with sections devoted to the possibility of cannabis-derived drugs to treat a wide range of illnesses including schizophrenia, type II diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorders and even types of cancer. Among cannabis advocates it’s widely believed that the plant has many as of yet untapped health benefits. The report considers them in the context of pharmaceuticals that could be approved through the established and rigorous FDA process.
There are three ways one can purchase marijuana in Washington. Based from the figures released by the board, 37 percent of consumers purchase cannabis from medical dispensaries, 35 percent from retail stores, and 25 percent from the black market. This year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation (SSB 5052) which is known as the Cannabis Patient Protection Act. The state is proposing “medically endorsed” recreational weed stores so that medical patients will not have to buy their pot from untaxed medical marijuana dispensaries.
NEW YORK’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMPANIES ‘FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS,’ READY FOR JANUARY LAUNCH [villagevoice]
The legislation, which has been derided as too restrictive, allows for five growers to stock twenty dispensaries throughout the state’s 55,000 square miles. Under the law, a dispensary can carry up to five different “brands,” or strains of cannabis. The five companies — Columbia Care, Bloomfield Industries, Etain LLC, PharmaCann LLC, and Vireo Health of New York — have had about four months since being awarded their licenses, on July 31, to set up grow facilities, plant seeds, and harvest their crop. It takes roughly that same amount of time for a cannabis plant to reach maturity.
Starting in July, 2016, the bill would allow people over the age of 21 to purchase and use marijuana freely, though not in public, and at the discretion of property owners (i.e. a landlord or business owner could decide if smoking is allowed on the premises). The 41-page bill is a result of months of work and is sponsored by White. It proposes that the Department of Public Safety oversees the regulation through a new entity called the Cannabis Control Board, modeled after the Liquor Control Board. It would create a limited number of permits for residents to grow and manufacture certain marijuana products, including creams, and permit the sale of the herb.
Sampson called the vote “democracy in action” and said the tribes’ marijuana enterprise will bring “much needed jobs and revenue to the Warm Springs people.” “Tribal citizens demonstrated the power of their vote,” he said. He said the tribe will develop a “model” of regulated cannabis for other tribes to follow nationwide. Warm Springs is the latest Native American tribe to enter the regulated marijuana market. Legal experts estimate that no more than a dozen tribes nationwide have started up marijuana enterprises.
Landmark Study Confirms Marijuana Extract Is Amazing Aid to Prevent Seizures in Children With Epilepsy [alternet]
The annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society took place in early December, and the largest study presented confirmed the astounding benefits of medical cannabis to treat seizures. Epilepsy affects one in 26 Americans, “with one-third having a form of the condition that resists treatment or effective management.” Children and young adults are particularly affected by this debilitating condition. The findings of the study add to the growing body of evidence that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive extract of cannabis, can provide the best option for treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Trudeau promises to set up a task force with representatives from the three levels of government and, with input from experts in public health, substance abuse and policing, design a new system of marijuana sales and distribution. It would include federal and provincial excise taxes. However, Trudeau cautioned against imposing steep levies designed to discourage its use.
Justin Trudeau and the cannabis factory [economist]
The existence of companies like Tweed, which obtained a stockmarket listing in 2014—long before Mr Trudeau, a tattooed former snowboarding instructor, looked likely to become prime minister—suggests that Canada’s transition from remedial to recreational pot will be smooth. It probably won’t be.
Driving while high not enough for conviction, judge rules [winnipegfreepress]
He admits smoking up before getting behind the wheel and feeling a bit “tipsy” as a result. But one of the first “driving while impaired by drug” cases in Manitoba has ended with the accused going free because a judge says it’s not clear whether the accused’s marijuana use had any significant impact on his motor skills. “The indicia of impairment by alcohol are fairly well-known and accepted in the case law: improper driving, bloodshot or watery eyes, flushed face, odour of alcohol, slurred speech, lack of co-ordination and inability to perform physical tests, a lack of comprehension and inappropriate behaviour,” provincial court Judge Cynthia Devine said in her written decision. “The same cannot be said for the indicia of impairment by drugs.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree Tuesday Legalizing and Regulating Medical Cannabis, the latest softening of the country’s hardline tactics in the war on drugs. In a nationally televised address, Santos announced it would be fully Legal to grow, process, import and export Cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific use. “This decree allows licenses to be granted for the possession of seeds, Cannabis plants and marijuana,” he said from the presidential palace.
In a Mexico City home, a 33-year-old publicist agreed to show AFP reporters his hydroponic system of some 20 marijuana plants growing under intense spotlights. “This is for personal and medical use,” he said from his greenhouse, walking barefoot and smoking a joint during the chat. “There’s no sale or purchases. We only do this to change the system and this war” against drug trafficking, he said, echoing the argument among pro-legalization activists that decriminalizing pot will help combat the violence associated with the illegal trade.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera says that the church has no problem with the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The cardinal who also serves as the archbishop of Mexico City said Sunday that the church has never had a problem recommending the use of “all elements from nature that can be used to help improve health.” He recalled that when he was a child the plant was commonly used for health reasons such as relieving pain.
ISIS Says It’s Burning Marijuana Fields In Syria [dailyamerica]
The Islamic State militant group released a video on Tuesday purporting to show its fighters burning down a marijuana field in a town it captured in north Syria. In the clip, which appears to be shot in the town of Akhtarin and was uploaded to YouTube by an ISIS supporter on Tuesday, the fighters denounce the evils of drug-taking, before appearing to chop down bushes and setting them ablaze.
Cannabis the Fabric of Japan [japantimes]
There are a number of different theories as to why the U.S. outlawed cannabis in Japan. Some believe it was based upon a genuine desire to protect Japanese people from the evils of narcotics, while others point out that the U.S. allowed the sale of over-the-counter amphetamines to continue until 1951. Several cannabis experts argue that the ban was instigated by U.S. petrochemical interests in a bid to shut down the Japanese cannabis fiber industry, opening the market to man-made materials such as polyester and nylon. Takayasu locates the cannabis ban within the wider context of U.S. attempts to reduce the power of the Japanese military.
The eco-accommodating material is the principle part of a pre-assembled wall system called Hempbuild – a blend of the plant’s woody center and a lime-based cover. The system was supplied by Hemcrete Projects, an English housing company that spends significant time in hemp-based development. So far, two model houses have been finished in the Achabeag township, both with different plans.
Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic, has caused a stir by stating that marijuana should be legalised during questions she was asked in the final stages of the Miss Universe competition. Ms Radulovic from Sydney made the top five of the Miss Universe competition – but narrowly missed out on making the final three at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night. The 25-year-old beauty’s awkward response may have hit her hopes of winning the competition, while also upsetting anti-drug campaigners in her home country.