EMBASSY HEADLINES Issue 209
Survey: Patient Demand for Medical Cannabis in Australia in 2016 [MCUA]
The Australian Federal Government is in the process of formulating regulations for the issuing of licenses and permits to grow Cannabis for medical use in Australia. They are saying that PATIENT DEMAND WILL DETERMINE HOW MANY licenses are issued. Their estimate is between 20,000 and 100,000 users. How close to the mark are they? The MCUA of Australia Inc wants to hear from AUSTRALIANS who currently use or want to use medicinal cannabis for any condition that it will help. Please spread this survey far an wide. We need to get the numbers in ASAP so we can show them how accurate their estimate is. Survey will close on 30th August 2016. This survey is anonymous and will not track your IP address.
We have an Orwellian ‘shadow government’ and your liberty is at risk [The Guardian]
Drug policy is definitely entrenched, stuck below the level of elected politicians. “Elected governments and politicians come and go, but what persists is a “deep state”, a loose association of special interests that invariably dictate the terms of government: the security services, the military, the banks and financial institutions, the top listed corporations and, in some countries, organised crime.”
Experts warn that imprisonment of drug users could lead to new global epidemic of HIV and hepatitis [National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre]
Professor Dolan is one of an international panel of experts, who have authored The Lancet series, and argue against the mass incarceration of drug users. In a separate paper accompanying the series, the authors write: “Prison is an unacceptably expensive, ineffective and inhumane approach to drug dependency. Mass incarceration has had disastrous consequences for individuals, families and communities particularly among ethnic and racial minorities (in the US and elsewhere) and among other marginalised groups.”
VICE Asks: What Are the Ethics of Getting High? [Vice]
Most of us don’t consider the ethical implications of the caps we take, or joints we smoke. But think about it for a second. Deep down we know getting high isn’t completely free from ethical responsibility, even if we’ve all argued in favour at some point or another. Taking drugs raises lots of interesting questions we’re often content to ignore. Like, how far up the supply chain can you trace your drugs—are you sure they are sourced ethically? What if you’re buying drugs for your friends, how much responsibility should you take for their wellbeing? Is it really right for you to get high, if you’re a dick when you’re coming down? And even if your experiences with drugs have been good, is it stupid to play down the risks?
Cannabis figures ignore human cost of prohibition [NZ Herald]
A Treasury document estimating the Government could save more than $500 million a year by legalising cannabis ignored the human costs of prohibition, Act Party leader David Seymour says. The estimate has sparked a fresh round of debate about decriminalising cannabis – with Mr Seymour and Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague both sceptical of continued prohibition. The document, released under the Official Information Act, shows brainstorming notes from 2013, which suggest the Government could earn $150 million annually from taxing legalised cannabis. It also suggests that $400 million could be saved through reduced policing costs if the drug was legalised. Seymour said the brainstorming exercise didn’t factor in the considerable human cost of prohibition, such as the impact of imprisonment. “If Treasury are going to calculate financial costs, Bill English should ask them to also quantify the health costs of prolonged cannabis use as well as the social outcomes of having thousands of New Zealanders, particularly Maori, removed from their families and the workforce through imprisonment.”
This US festival serves zero alcohol and has an on-site marijuana dispensary [MixMag]
Enchanted Forest Gathering has just become the second US festival to ever retail medical marijuana on site. The Northern California event will take place this weekend from July 22 to 24 and hosts a particularly interesting party policy. Enchanted Forest’s ‘get saucy, not sauced’ code serves absolutely no alcohol but will have a fully functioning medical marijuana dispensary. The festival’s solar-powered supply will come from Emerald Farms, a regional dispensary that “specializes in regional heirloom genetics and has an extensive selection of high-quality, lab-tested CBD-rich and THC products”. The shop will sell edibles, topicals, vape oil cartridges, clones, seeds, and of course, good old fashioned bud.
You Can’t Beat The Market [volteface]
There has been much comment and controversy on the extent to which the recent UN summit on the world drug problem reflects a more tolerant and less punitive approach, but there is one key area of the outcome declaration that has received much less attention – the review of strategies, and plans for the future, for reducing the supply of drugs. My reading of these sections of the declaration is that, whatever you think about the value and consequences of supply reduction activities, there is a worrying lack of analysis of the effectiveness of current strategies, and no sign of new ideas and tactics that might produce better results. Reducing the illicit supply of drugs remains central to global drug control strategies. The basic rules of any commodity market dictate that, as long as demand for the product exists, and that demand can be met at a profit, then some form of supply will continue. We have numerous examples of long fought for gains in eradicating crops, seizing large consignments, or disrupting retail markets, that have had no long term impact on the scale and nature of consumption. It is difficult to see, therefore, how the continuing faith in the same strategies can ever deliver the ambitious results that the UN declaration calls for. Indeed, in the absence of any realistic evidence (or even discussion) that the proposed activities can significantly reduce supply, then we can only view this section of the declaration as a politically and diplomatically convenient cover up of an absence of real belief that illicit drug markets can be significantly curtailed.
Arizona’s Top Court Affirms ‘Plain Smell’ Doctrine for Cannabis [Leafly]
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled this morning that the smell of growing cannabis constitutes probable cause for a search warrant. The court’s decision overturned a lower appeals court ruling, which held that Arizona’s medical marijuana law legally negated the so-called “plain smell doctrine.” The Arizona case also highlights the legally murky status of the “plain smell doctrine,” a corollary to the well-known “plain view doctrine,” which has long held that a contraband item or substance, seen in plain sight by a police officer, constitutes probable cause for further investigation. In the long term, though, the Sisco decision may have a very short shelf life. Arizona will vote on full adult-use legalization in November, and the justices themselves admit that if it passes, “our analysis and conclusion in this context might well be different.”
The Struggles of Being One of the Few People of Colour in the Cannabis Industry [Vice]
Black and brown people don’t use or deal illegal drugs more frequently than whites, but they’re more likely to get arrested for them. And three years after the groundbreaking decision to legalize cannabis for recreational sale in Colorado, black and brown people are less likely than whites to see the benefits of the green economy. Reportedly, while there are more than 3,000 cannabis dispensaries nationwide, less than 36 are owned by black people. And if you’re black in a weed-legal state like Colorado or Washington, you’re still twice as likely to be arrested for weed than a white person. Laws can shift, but that doesn’t level the economic playing field that has long marginalized the non-white. It’s disheartening, but not surprising. As anyone who’s listened to a presidential candidate scream bigoted remarks, or watched a cop shoot an unarmed black person, or been inside a prison, knows America is an openly racist country. That fact doesn’t change just because a drug becomes legal.
Facebook And Google Cannabis Policy Enforcement Makes No Sense [BuzzFeed]
Tech giants like Facebook and Google don’t allow users to post ads that sell cannabis or promote recreational drug use. But activists say these policies are inconsistently enforced, and lots of acceptable content gets blocked. People who sell medical and recreational cannabis in states where it’s legal have become accustomed to seeing their social media pages go dark unexpectedly. Selling or using cannabis for any reason is still federally illegal, and companies like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Apple remain wary of being held liable for the pot content they allow users to post and promote. But in the effort to prove they are not enabling the sale or promoting the recreational use of cannabis, Facebook and Google are also haphazardly censoring promotions for all kinds of other marijuana-related content, including news stories about racial disparities in pot arrests, links to sites selling legal paraphernalia, ads for TV shows and books about cannabis, and pages that provide information about the law. BuzzFeed News also found that small businesses seem to be disproportionately affected by inconsistencies in the enforcement of these policies, while larger and more mainstream companies advertising the same content remain unaffected.
The War on Drugs Has Made Policing More Violent [Cato Institute]
American policing today has become increasingly aggressive and, at times, even predatory. Policies and tactics have evolved to make police contact more confrontational. In so doing, they have increased the chances of violence and fatal uses of force. This has been particularly true of efforts aimed at fighting the Drug War. Police are incentivized to initiate unnecessary contact with pedestrians and motorists, and they do so most often against ethnic and racial minorities. Such over-policing engenders resentment among minority communities and jeopardizes public safety. In short, the laws and tactics employed to fight the Drug War have transformed police officers from those who protect and serve to a force that, too often, actively searches the innocent and seizes for profit.
Canada is going on a marijuana search-and-destroy mission in farmers’ fields [Vice]
Every year as summer comes to an end, teams of Canadian military and police officers patrol the skies in helicopters hunting for illegal marijuana grow-ops nestled in farm fields below. It’s called Operation Sabot, a joint effort led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) involving the armed forces and other local law enforcement, that launched in 1989 for the sole purpose of destroying illegal marijuana plants across the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands have been confiscated, and many criminal charges have been laid ranging from possession to trafficking. After it’s over, the force basks in positive media coverage featuring impressive photos of officers in aircrafts and trunks full of weed plants freshly plucked from the soil. But while police and many federal politicians hail the anti-pot effort as integral to curbing organized crime and keeping communities safe, there’s questions about its effectiveness — especially as the drug is slated to become legal next year for recreational use.
Marijuana task force faces ‘fascinating journey’ in crafting legal framework [Canadian Globe and Mail]
Mark Ware was working with patients suffering from a painful blood disease in the late 1990s when he noticed that many of them were self-medicating. The sickle cell anemia research clinic where he was working was in Jamaica, and the pain reliever of choice for a growing number of his patients was cannabis. The episode put the British-born, Jamaica-raised doctor on the path that has made him a world-renowned expert on the use of cannabis in pain management. Now based at McGill University in Montreal, Dr. Ware will turn his attention in coming months to the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. As a key member of a new task force, he will help the federal government to create a legal regime for all adult pot users.
Cannabis Regulation Proposal Wins Kings College Policy Idol 2016 [volteface]
‘A Greener UK: The Roadmap To Cannabis Regulation’ has won the 2016 KCL ‘Policy Idol’ competition. The proposal incorporates insights gleaned from Portugal’s drug decriminalisation and the personal cultivation incentive in Spain. It also highlights the emergence of cannabis regulation as one of the next great waves in social reform.
May Brings A Fresh Start To The Cannabis Campaign [UK Cannabis Law Reform]
Theresa May is prime minister, perhaps the worst nightmare for those who seek cannabis law reform. She is a strong woman, she will be sympathetic to people and causes that she chooses but ruthless and absolute against those she opposes. Our problem is that, as confirmed by both the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee, evidence has nothing to do with it. Theresa May’s drugs policy is based on her personal opinions and even the plight of those in chronic pain and disability is unlikely to change her mind even on the medicinal use of cannabis. I remember Norman Baker told me that she simply does not comprehend that cannabis can be a legitimate medicine. The very idea is anathema to her. It is beyond her comprehension. The daughter of a vicar, who attended a convent then a grammar school, she has a lot about her that suggests piety, reserve, self-discipline and control. Admirable qualities but lacking perhaps in empathy with modern lifestyles and values.
Germany to Legalize Medical Cannabis as Early as 2017 [Real Health Facts]
Germany will legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes by 2017. The nation’s health minister broke the news to the German media Tuesday afternoon and a draft bill was presented to the German Cabinet Wednesday. Cannabis has long been scheduled under the most restrictive category in Germany’s Narcotics Law and the recent proposal ushers an exiting new era for a tightly-regulated sector in Germany. “Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” Germany’s Minister of Health Hermann Groehe told reporters.
Expelled MP wants to legalise opium sale [India Today]
In what can be termed as a blow to the Aam Aadmi Party’s fight against drugs in Punjab, party’s expelled MP from Patiala Dr Dharamvira Gandhi has said that he will move a private bill in the Lok Sabha to get the sale of poppy husk and opium legalised so that the addicts can get their dose without any fear. “There is a need to decriminalise poppy husk, opium and marijuana which is a major source of exploitation of addicts by the police,” Dr Dharamvira Gandhi told India Today who wants to introduce a private member’s bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985.
E-cigarette use reduces exposure to harmful chemicals similar to smoking cessation [International Business Times]
New clinical study has shown that e-cigarettes may lead to significant reductions in exposure to harmful chemicals found in tobacco-cigarettes. This in turn helps in cutting the risks of tobacco-related illnesses that are thought to be caused by smoking real cigarettes. Smokers, who shift to smoking only e-cigarette, may find the effects quite similar to complete smoking cessation.
Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers [New Scientist]
It must have been something in the air. During a short time window at the end of the last ice age, Stone Age humans in Europe and Asia independently began using a new plant: cannabis. That’s the conclusion of a review of cannabis archaeology, which also links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago. Central Eurasia’s Yamnaya people – thought to be one of the three key tribes that founded European civilisation – dispersed eastwards at this time and are thought to have spread cannabis, and possibly its psychoactive use, throughout Eurasia. The pollen, fruit and fibres of cannabis have been turning up in Eurasian archaeological digs for decades. Tengwen Long and Pavel Tarasov at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and their colleagues have now compiled a database of this archaeological literature to identify trends and patterns in prehistoric cannabis use. It is often assumed that cannabis was first used, and possibly domesticated, somewhere in China or Central Asia, the researchers say – but their database points to an alternative. Some of the most recent studies included in the database suggest that the herb entered the archaeological record of Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between about 11,500 and 10,200 years ago.
Marijuana Can Make People Smarter [Civilized]
Opponents of marijuana legalization often justify prohibition by pointing to studies suggesting that cannabis can significantly harm the developing brains of youths. But legendary guitarist Carlos Santana – who turns 69 today – argues that legalizing marijuana could make kids smarter. Not by letting them smoke it but by investing tax money in educating America’s youth. He also says that governments oppose marijuana because it makes people think. “Marijuana is not drugs,” he told Fusion in 2014. “Mother Nature makes marijuana. Drugs is what man makes in a laboratory. That imprisons man like heroin or cocaine. Anything that man makes, it makes a creature of habit. You know, when you smoke marijuana like Bob Marley, first of all, you start thinking differently. And a lot of the government, they don’t want you to think. They want you to be like, ‘Yes, masa – no, masa.’ “
Researchers got people drunk or high, then made a fascinating discovery about how we respond [Washington Post]
“The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression,” the researchers conclude. This is in line with other research. A study in 2014, for instance, found that marijuana use among couples was linked to lower rates of domestic violence. In a fun study from the 1980s, researchers gave undergraduates varying doses of marijuana and then asked them to administer electric shocks to people in another room. The more stoned the undergrads were, the less interested they were in zapping other people. It’s true that as with any drug, marijuana can have unpredictable effects in some people. But this study strongly suggests that those unpredictable consequences — pot-crazed men jumping off ledges or shooting themselves — are tragic outliers. Those stories grab headlines because they’re exceptional, not because they’re common.
These Medical Conditions Are Treatable With Marijuana [The Green Rush]
Beginners Growing Marijuana Indoors [How to Marijuana]
Would you like to grow some of the green stuff for yourself? Great! This is a simple beginners guide to growing Marijuana indoors. Never buy Marijuana again. Grow so discreetly that your neighbours won’t notice. Don’t rely on shady character to supply this to you ever again. Growing Cannabis is easy because… it is a strong, fast growing plant. It grows like weed. Indoors, it takes around 4 months to go from seed to smokeable product. Cannabis will also grow under not so ideal conditions, making it an ideal beginners plant.