EMBASSY Headlines Issue 215
Community Not Consorting Protest Next Monday Lismore Court House [Nimbin Hemp Embassy]
The Nimbin “Laneboys” court cases begin next Monday and Tuesday September 5 and 6 and supporters and protestors are gathering outside Lismore Court House from 9 am on both days. All those who think cannabis law reform is long overdue are encouraged to come,” says Michael Balderstone, President of Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy. “It’s time cannabis users were respected and the law changed. There might even be an apology due,” he says. “We have been treated like common criminals for decades now because of lies and nonsense and its time the laws caught up with the new science on this plant which now confirms what we have said all along, it’s a fantastic healing herb. The police are actually working for the giant pharmaceutical companies who have a legal monopoly on relieving pain. Very profitable as you can imagine. They need to think for themselves and help us get change happening like the police did in America with the organisation L.E.A.P, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.” For further info phone the HEMP Embassy on 0266890326 a/h Michael on 66897525
Medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Australia from November [The Canberra Times]
Medicinal cannabis will become legal, but strictly controlled from November this year, under a formal decision reached by the Therapeutic Goods Administration this week. The final decision was published on Wednesday, paving the way for the drug to be legalised for medicinal use, as the federal government works towards creating a national regulator. Medicinal cannabis campaigner and United in Compassion co-founder Lucy Haslam told Fairfax Media the final decision was an “essential step in the process”. But she said campaigners and patients waiting to obtain medicinal cannabis legally were in a “holding pattern” while the regulatory system was being set up. Mrs Haslam said she was also concerned the proposed legal cannabis industry could be “so bound up in red tape” that may it not be viable. “My fear is that the industry will become so expensive that patients won’t be able to access a legal supply at an affordable price,” she said. “There’s also a lot of work to do on educating people and doctors, some of who remain a bit uncomfortable about prescribing medical cannabis to patients.”
Sex Party leads push to legalise marijuana [The Age]
Victorians would be free to smoke and grow marijuana if a push by the Sex Party to legalise the drug is successful. On Wednesday, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten will introduce a motion to the upper house calling on the government to immediately remove criminal sanctions for the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for personal use by people 18 and older. Ms Patten said other jurisdictions that had legalised cannabis had achieved “massive savings” in law enforcement, which had flowed through to unclogging court systems.
Trial of cannabis withdrawal spray Sativex popular with middle-aged pothead dads [The Sydney Morning Herald]
The study’s lead investigator Nick Lintzeris, an addiction specialist from the University of Sydney, said a common perception was that most people seeking treatment for cannabis dependence were young, unemployed and often involved in other illegal activities, who are seeking treatment only after contact with police or courts. Yet a growing group of users are older, often male, sometimes with young families. “About 40 per cent of the people in the study have been involved in long-term relationships and cite their family as being the main driver behind their decision to stop using cannabis,” Professor Lintzeris said. Many enrolled in the trial based on concerns for their family – especially children – and their health, jobs and potential legal ramifications of drug testing. It is the first community-based trial of Sativex – a drug currently approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis – for heavy cannabis users.
100,000 overdose deaths per year: “shameful” [Penington Institute]
Each year at least 100,000 people die of accidental overdose. That’s the equivalent of a large sporting crowd and more people than attend the Super Bowl or the World Cup Final. There are no front pages, no fanfare and no crisis meetings of governments. These people are remembered by their families and friends, but their lives and deaths are largely invisible to the broader community. CEO of Penington Institute John Ryan said: “the state of overdose world-wide is shameful. We are at crisis levels of accidental overdoses and yet only a handful of governments have been shocked into action.” In the lead up to International Overdose Awareness Day 2016 on Wednesday 31 August, Penington Institute is calling for investment in three key areas:
- Comprehensive community education about the risks of overdose. Overdose deaths are increasingly caused by prescription medication yet people believe illicit drugs are the cause.
- Targeted training for at-risk groups including people being prescribed prescription opioids (such as oxycodone) and benzodiazepines (like valium).
- Information about what to do when faced with an overdose. 60 per cent of people die of overdose with someone else present. There is great potential for people to become life-savers by administering the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone (when appropriate), calling for emergency assistance and starting first aid.
Is Australia really being flooded by new killer drugs? [The Conversation]
Recent media reports have suggested Australia is set to be flooded with new types of deadly “synthetic” drugs. Don’t worry, as far as we know, there’s no “turbo-charged version of ice” on its way. And we need to steer clear of drug-related moral panic, which increases stigma and makes it harder for users to seek help. Young people have increasing access to new drugs about which we have little information. One example is synthetic cannabis. More than 40 Australian legislative changes have tried to ban synthetic cannabis, yet it is still available. However, the toxicity of synthetic cannabis has increased as manufacturers use novel chemicals after each legislative change. Fortunately, people have become more aware that synthetic cannabis can be harmful and are using it less. But the number of people seeking emergency medical attention for synthetic cannabis continues to grow. The risk of needing emergency medical treatment when using synthetic cannabis is now 30 times greater than for those who use regular cannabis. The situation is only made worse by the “iron law of prohibition”. When a drug is prohibited, manufacturers look for drugs that are active at lower dosages since this makes them easier to smuggle. If it’s active at a lower dose, you need less of it. During prohibition of alcohol in the United States, people were not brewing beer, they were brewing moonshine.
Drug testing company Dorevitch Pathology unfairly sacked worker for refusing drug test [The Age]
The sacked worker told the tribunal she refused the drug test because she did not want her manager taking the urine sample and was concerned her colleagues would know she was being tested. She argued the proposed method of taking the test breached Dorevitch’s own drug testing policy and industry standard practice. Her boss agreed that the proposed test would not have complied with testing standards. The commission heard there was confusion within Dorevitch, which claims to be Victoria’s “leading provider” of drug and alcohol testing services, about why it was firing the worker.
Labor, Liberals reluctant on pill testing at Canberra festivals [The Canberra Times]
Both major parties have expressed reluctance to begin pill testing at music festivals, despite the Greens pledging to trial the practice to stop young people overdosing. Countries outside of Australia have begun testing ecstasy, MDMA, and other recreational drugs at music festivals.
Poster child of US drug wars to be freed [BBC]
In 1988, a small-time drug dealer became the first man charged under a new, harsh drug law signed by then-President Ronald Reagan. Almost 30 years later, President Barack Obama granted a sentence commutation to Richard Van Winrow, a literal posterboy for the history of America’s drug war. Winrow was sentenced to life in prison under a brand new law. He was the first person in the US to be charged under the Anti-Drug Abuse Law of 1988, one of the cornerstones of Reagan’s “war on drugs”.
More Americans getting high: cannabis study [Medical Xpress]
The number of adult cannabis users in the United States increased by ten million from 2002 to 2014, said a study Thursday that called for better education on the potential pitfalls. The increase coincided with a general rise in the potency of the popular recreational drug and a growing belief that it is not harmful, researchers wrote in The Lancet Psychiatry. The findings, the US-based team wrote, “suggest a potential benefit of education and prevention messages” even as many US states are relaxing cannabis policies. Based on a survey of over 500,000 US adults between 2002 and 2014, the study found that marijuana use rose from 10.4 percent of the population in 2002 to 13.3 percent in 2014—from 21.9 million to 31.9 million.
The Hidden Poverty In Marijuana’s Black Market [The Huffington Post]
The cannabis industry is Hayfork’s [California] primary economic driver. In 2015 an informal survey of the town’s workforce counted just 424 jobs, leaving self-employment options or commutes to work outside town as the next alternatives. Extensive interviews with law enforcement agencies and multiple residents suggest that a majority of townspeople are involved in the industry, and many — perhaps most — are producing and selling illegally. In this rarefied context, participation in the black market is an integrated component of life and culture. In Hayfork, marijuana farming has become the new normal. The prevalence of Hayfork’s marijuana industry has been uniquely shaped by economic hardship. The polar ends of the trade — law enforcement and small-scale black market marijuana farmers – share a common relationship to marijuana that is defined by financial strife. On one side, a significant funding handicap has stymied law enforcement, allowing the marijuana industry to proliferate; on the other, poverty, economic struggle and a lack of alternatives have provided an incentive for many locals to dive into the black market.
At Long Last, Cannabis Legalisation Looms For California [volteface]
Will this November be the beginning of the end for cannabis prohibition? On November 8th American voters will turn out in record numbers to make the much-maligned choice between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. But those in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada have another choice to make, whether to regulate and legalise cannabis. Most attention is focused on California, which already has the lion’s share of the current $5.7 billion legal US industry. The Californian market alone is set to grow to $6.6 billion by 2020 in anticipation of a yes vote. Proposition 64 is the last option standing in California after 21 different proposals for various forms of cannabis legalisation have been whittled down to just one. Much has been made of the infighting among the pro-legalisation movement about the wording of the proposition, but most of the dissent now seems sated. Compromises have been made by all parties, and the foundations of good campaign finance and strong polling are in place.
How Big Alcohol Is About to Get Rich Off California Weed [Politico]
California’s iconic counter-culture drug is about to be treated just like a six-pack of beer. Under the new regulations, licensed distributors were given control over measurement, taxing and testing for all medical marijuana before it can move to the retailer. The rules are modeled on the system that emerged at the end of Prohibition to wrest control from mobsters and their illegal liquor empires. States required wholesalers to bring alcohol from the manufacturer to the retailer, a system that has proven fantastically lucrative for distribution companies. Some of those players are now poised to make millions of dollars as the middlemen in California’s burgeoning medical marijuana market. The familiar alcohol distribution model gives comfort to California law enforcement and state regulators who still view marijuana growers with suspicion, even 20 years after medical marijuana was legalized. But it runs counter to the 22 other states that have legalized marijuana in some form where cultivators sell their wares directly to retailers.
In Expansion, New York’s Medical Marijuana Program Will Offer Home Delivery [The New York Times]
Moving to address complaints about New York’s new medical marijuana program, the state’s Health Department is making substantial changes to expand access to the drug, including allowing home delivery, quite likely by the end of September. The program, which saw its first dispensaries open in January, has struggled to gain broad traction in the medical community and with potential patients. Advocates for the medical use of marijuana have said the program, allowed by a 2014 law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was too restrictive, and its regulations too cumbersome to fulfill its mandate. On Tuesday, however, the administration of Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, intends to announce several new policies, including authorizing delivery to patients too ill to travel, and enabling nurse practitioners to certify patients as medically qualified for the drug. Unlike some other states, New York does not allow marijuana to be smoked, but it can be made into a variety of tinctures, sprays and other forms.
Drugs are changing the basis of the food chain in rivers [Independent]
Emma Rosi-Marshall, a freshwater ecologist at the institute who took part in the study, said: “We have every reason to suspect that the release of stimulants to aquatic environments is on the rise across the globe, yet little is known about the ecological consequences of this pollution. As society continues to grapple with aging wastewater infrastructure and escalating pharmaceutical and illicit drug use, we need to consider collateral damages to our freshwater resources. More work is needed on the ecological fate of these pollutants and the threat they pose to aquatic life and water quality. Ultimately, solutions will lie in innovations in the way we manage wastewater.”
Prize-winning pot: top marijuana plants debut at Oregon state fair [The Guardian]
Cannabis advocates call it a monumental step in removing the stigma around a product they believe should be considered the same as any other crop. This week, Nathan Martinez’s family will head to the Oregon state fair to view the prize-winning plants he’s hydroponically grown and lovingly cultivated: both the sativa super sour diesel and the indica granddaddy purple. That’s right: one of the nation’s most family-friendly traditions – synonymous with the tilt-a-whirl, funnel cake and blue ribbon pigs – will feature marijuana plants. “Cannabis is taking its rightful place next to tomatoes and other agriculture,” said Don Morse, with the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, noting that it’s the first time pot plants have been displayed at a state fair.
Murdoch’s papers conflicted over how to respond to UK cannabis policy vacuum [volteface]
Social class influences perceptions of drug policies in the UK. The Times’ more socially liberal and affluent readers are exposed to progressive arguments to regulate cannabis whilst The Sun’s working class readers are served up calls for more hearty prohibition.
BBC had nuclear bunker tour ahead of drugs bust [BBC]
The BBC was given access to a nuclear bunker in Worcestershire just days before police discovered a cannabis factory on the site. The guided tour was given by caretaker Sid Robinson. Also known as Wayne Robinson, he was one of two men sentenced for drugs-related offences after police discovered 885 cannabis plants in the tunnels, with an estimated street value of £78,000.
Cannabis Boom: Why Brits Are Risking Death-By-Explosion to Get Stoned [Vice]
Last month, the BBC reported on the increase of explosions caused by people trying to turn cannabis into “Butane Hash Oil” (BHO), which is essentially pure THC (the stuff in weed that gets you high) concentrated into little gold slabs (which some people call “shatter”) that you smoke in a vaporiser. To make it, you have to use a large amount of butane – the stuff they put in lighters, i.e. an extremely flammable substance – which can pool and explode if ignited. The BBC’s investigation found that two people have been killed and 27 injured in the UK since 2014 as a direct result of this process. Why take these risks? “It’s the most ideal form of cannabis for medical patients,” said Alex Fraser, Events Director at the United Patients Alliance, a group that campaigns and lobbies for medical cannabis in the UK. He treats his Crohn’s disease with daily doses of cannabis oil. “I can just have a quick dab in a matter of seconds and deliver the right amount of THC for the pain relief.”
How Germany Hopes To Legalise Medicinal Cannabis [volteface]
If you’ve been following drug policy developments in recent months, you will no doubt have heard that Germany is on the brink of legalising medical cannabis. Germany’s path to reform has been long, and has involved the efforts of many individuals and organisations over many years. Pressure from within the country has come in large part from a trio of cannabis/drug law reform organisations – Schildower Kreis, Deutscher Hanf Verband, and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Cannabis als Medizin – who can all claim responsibility for Germany’s progress. Perhaps the defining moment in the struggle for medical cannabis in Germany was the culmination of a ten-year legal battle waged by Michael Fischer, a Multiple Sclerosis patient, who sued the government for his right to cultivate his own medicine. With the help of the Association for Cannabis as Medicine, he took his fight to the highest court in the land, and in April ’16 he finally won.
The Science Behind Purple Kush, and the Colors of Cannabis [Motherboard]
Before cannabinoid testing and genetic profiling of the cannabis plant, consumers would judge a batch of weed based on its smell, taste, and color. In fact, a whopping 93 percent of buyers make a purchasing choice contingent on the color and look of the bud. The color of cannabis is not constant, but rather changes with the plant’s maturity. According to the pH or acidity levels of the plant, its anthocyanins—water-soluble pigments—may appear blue, red, or purple. Anthocyanins appear in other plants as well, such as blueberries and eggplants. The color of a cannabis plant is also influenced by temperature: In cooler environments, the plant produces less chlorophyll, green pigments critical to photosynthesis, which allows a plant to absorb energy from light. The colors of cannabis can be manipulated by managing the acidity levels and temperatures in which the plant is bred. Altering these various levels can bring out different colors and qualities, while inhibiting others.
Cannabis will be the new must-have beauty ingredient, researchers predict [The Telegraph]
While hemp seed oil has been around for years (the Body Shop has an entire range dedicated to it), beauty brands are now looking into marijuana as a treatment for acne. “It is also crossing over into fragrance. Florabotanica by Balenciaga is a floral scent developed on a rose note with a narcotic hemp twist, while Cannabis Santal by Fresh is described as a sensual, woodsy fragrance.
Researchers find new role for cannabinoids in vision (of Tadpoles) [Medical Xpress]
Scientists used a variety of methods to test how tadpoles react to visual stimuli when they’ve been exposed to increased levels of exogenous or endogenous cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids are artificially introduced drugs, whereas endogenous cannabinoids occur naturally in the body. They found that, contrary to what they expected, activating cannabinoid signaling in tadpoles actually increased the activity in their retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which are responsible for transmitting information about light detection from the eye to the brain. Previous studies found that cannabinoids typically work to reduce neurotransmission, not increase it. It is too early to say if cannabinoids have the same effect on human vision, but there is anecdotal evidence in scientific literature of cannabis ingestion improving night vision of Jamaican and Moroccan fishermen.
Fundraiser: Support the Conversation Around Psychedelics in Australia [Entheogenesis Australis]
The aim of this fundraiser is to kick-start the next iteration of Australia’s premier psychedelic symposium, Entheogenesis Australis, in 2017. We will bring together experts from Australia and around the world, with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, to discuss psychedelics and entheogenic plants. The events are particularly expensive to run, and rely heavily on community support. So, in order to start the ball rolling for EGA 2017, we are aiming to raise funds to go towards covering some preliminary organisational costs, ensuring the conference can take place in a format that is both professional and sustainable. The success of this fundraising campaign will enable a more affordable ticketed event for both academics and enthusiasts alike. Your generosity will help ensure that this important discussion surrounding psychedelics and related compounds goes ahead. We hope you find a donation perk that suits you, or please feel free to donate any amount you can afford to support our campaign. Thanks in advance for your support! Browse the impressive visual catalogue of perks here.