EMBASSY Headlines Issue 216
EMBASSY Headlines Issue 216

EMBASSY Headlines Issue 216

Push For Access To Medicinal Cannabis [NBN News]

A Newcastle pharmacist is leading a push to make access to medicinal cannabis easier, for terminally-ill patients. He believes there’s a flaw in the current system, when it comes to how those in need can get help.

Protesters at raids court cases call for boys to come home [The Northern Star]

The men, nicknamed Nimbin Lane Boys, appeared before court yesterday and will continue appearances today, surrounded by their angry friends and family who wish to “bring the boys back home”.

Bail conditions eased for Nimbin Laneboys [The Northern Star]

Two of the Nimbin Laneboys who appeared before Lismore court yesterday can now resume living in Nimbin, while one other may enter the town to pick up and drop off his kids at school.

Braddon naturopath Ryan Franzi avoids jail for manufacturing and selling cannabis oil and tinctures [Canberra Times]

Over several months in 2015, the Braddon naturopath bought marijuana from a client and manufactured tetrahydracannabinol (THC) in oil and tinctures for himself, his daughter and his clients. Since Franzi, 39, was charged last year, the ACT government has announced it would launch a medical cannabis scheme, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration said medical cannabis would become legal in November, but strictly controlled. However, manufacturing cannabis products remained a crime.

W-18: the ‘obscure’ drug threatening to put Australians in danger [The New Daily]

Australian experts know very little about an “obscure” new drug turning up on our streets, which is wrongly being branded as “10,000 times stronger than heroin”. On Monday, the Australian Border Force announced via News Corp that it had made “several seizures” of the drug W-18, as drug experts told The New Daily they knew nothing about the substance. The only one who did – Curtin University drugs expert Dr Stephen Bright – said claims that W-18 was an opioid and that it was 10,000 times stronger than heroin were incorrect. University of Toronto scientist David Juurlink conceded W-18 was dangerous. But he said it was not as dangerous as fentanyl whose full effects were already known. Drug testers have no way of detecting W-18 in a person’s blood stream. W-18 was discovered being used as an illicit drug in Canada in 2015 when pills being sold as fentanyl were found laced with W-18, VICE reported. The University of Toronto’s Dr Jurrlink said “misinformation” had led to W-18 being over-hyped. He pointed to this analysis, which stressed little research had been done on W-18 thus far.

Nicotine for vaping should be legalised in Australia: 40 international and Australian experts [The Conversation]

Forty leading international and Australian academics and researchers including myself have written to the Therapeutics Goods Administration in support of an application to make low concentrations of nicotine available for use in electronic cigarettes (“vaping”). In Australia, it is illegal to possess or use nicotine other than in tobacco or nicotine-replacement products, as nicotine is classified in the Poisons Standard as a Schedule 7 “dangerous poison”. As the primary addictive component of tobacco smoke, nicotine is part of the problem. However, it may also be part of the solution. Using clean nicotine in e-cigarettes provides smokers with an alternative way of getting the nicotine to which they are addicted without the tobacco smoke that causes almost all of the harm from smoking. As well as delivering nicotine, e-cigarettes replicate several important aspects of the “smoking experience”. This includes the hand-to-mouth movement and the sensory and social aspects of the habit that smokers so often miss when they try to quit.

Greens Motion On Pill Tests & Drug Dogs Passes Senate — But Maybe Don’t Get Too Excited Yet [The Music]

An Australian Greens motion calling for the introduction of pill testing, and gradual elimination of drug sniffer dogs at music festivals, has passed the Senate without opposition from either major party. The motion was brought before the Senate yesterday, 31 August — incidentally, International Overdose Awareness Day — and also encompassed provisions for an increase to the number of needle and syringe programs across Australia, including inside prisons, as well as greater access to medically supervised injecting facilities, and signal-boosting awareness of Naxolone, an over-the-counter medication used to combat the effects of opoids, especially in cases of overdose. “Six people in Australia die each day due to overdose,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said in a statement. “It’s devastating for families, it’s entirely preventable, and our country’s politicians need to find the courage to do what they can to prevent further harm. Needle and syringe programs, supervised injecting rooms, pill testing — these are all evidence-based harm reduction measures that the government should resource. I’m pleased the Senate has agreed that the Federal Government should act. Now it’s time for Liberal and Labor governments to back these measures in every state and territory.” It’s that final sentence that should pretty swiftly put the brakes on any runaway hype about what the passing of this motion actually means for festival punters and their pills as well as the likelihood of sniffer dogs becoming a thing of the past, especially given that the governments of Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria have vocally opposed the prospect of introducing such harm-minimisation measures in recent times, not to mention the fact that a motion passing the Senate is still a pretty long way away from the introduction of anything even approaching a change to any laws.

New Zealand health minister denies taking ‘fake cocaine’ at primary school event [The Guardian]

The New Zealand health minister has found himself in the position of having to deny he took fake cocaine at a primary school fundraising event. Northcote school in Auckland ran a Las Vegas-themed function for adults that was attended by parents and friends of the school, including the health minister, Jonathan Coleman. He is the local MP for the area. Among the decorations and props were trays of fake cocaine, made from icing sugar, and disposable razors.

Coca-Cola Has Always Had A Connection To The Cocaine Business [The Huffington Post]

When news broke yesterday about the discovery of $56 million worth of cocaine at a Coca-Cola plant in France, the press was all abuzz. But as it turns out, this Cocaine-Cola connection is not entirely new; Coca-Cola has been intimately linked to domestic manufacture of cocaine in the United States for years. A little glimpse into Coke’s history reveals all.

Veterans group pushes to ease marijuana restictions to treat PTSD [The Guardian]

The American Legion took a position on medical marijuana for the first time last week, arguing that veterans ‘have a right to anything that may help them’. Faced with stark numbers of brain trauma and psychological distress cases among combat veterans, the nation’s largest active veteran’s organization has thrown its weight behind the growing movement to push for relaxing federal restrictions on marijuana. The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization, took a position on medical marijuana for the first time last week. At its national convention, it passed a resolution calling on Congress to amend its laws to “at a minimum … recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value”.

Colorado first state to certify hemp seeds [The Cannabist]

Colorado notched another nationwide first Wednesday involving cannabis when state agriculture officials showed off the first certified domestic hemp seeds. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has been working for years to produce hemp seeds that consistently produce plants low enough in the chemical THC to qualify as hemp and not its intoxicating cousin, marijuana. The seed certification “is vital to the long-term growth of the industry,” said Duane Sinning of the department that oversees the state’s 400 or so hemp growers. “A farmer, he already takes a lot of risk dropping a seed into the ground, whether you’ll have enough water, all that,” Sinning said. “This crop is even riskier.” Hemp production was authorized by Congress in 2014. But farmers who want to grow it must have state certification to raise the crop. Seed scarcity is cited as a major roadblock to the use of hemp becoming more widespread. Seed prices can start at $25 a pound and go up to more than a dollar for an individual seed. If the seeds produce plants above 0.3 percent THC, they must be destroyed, leaving the grower with a total loss.

Middle-aged parents are now more likely to smoke weed than their teenage kids [The Washington Post]

Smoking weed is often seen as an indulgence reserved for the young and the reckless: kids get high, in the popular imagination, but by and large their parents don’t. But new federal data show a stunning reversal of that age-old stereotype. Middle-aged Americans are now slightly more likely to use marijuana than their teenage children. The research, released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that only 7.4 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 years old smoked marijuana regularly in 2014, a 10 percent decline since 2002. But 8 percent of 35 to 44 year olds used marijuana regularly in 2014, surpassing use among teens for the first time since at least 2002. (Survey data prior to that year aren’t directly comparable, as the methodology changed.) And it’s not just middle-aged folks who are indulging more often. Since 2002, regular marijuana use among Americans age 45 to 54 has jumped by nearly 50 percent. Among those ages 55 to 64, it’s jumped by a whopping 455 percent (no, that’s not a typo). And among seniors, age 65+, monthly marijuana use is up 333 percent since 2002.

Ten million more Americans smoke marijuana now than 12 years ago: study [The Guardian]

About 10 million more Americans smoke marijuana now than 12 years ago, a new study in the British medical journal Lancet Psychiatry has found. “We certainly expected, based on other research, to find an increase” in marijuana use, said said Dr Wilson M Compton, an author of the study and researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s well known in the US that the laws related to marijuana have been changing; we’ve seen a number of states passing laws to allow marijuana for medical purposes.” The study used data from 596,500 adults surveyed between 2002 and 2014 for the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health to reach its conclusions about how many Americans use marijuana.

Cannabis tampons: Women say cramps disappear within 20 minutes [The Independent]

Positive reviews have been flooding in for the latest period painkiller, and it is not fish oil or a hot water bottle. Instead of stocking up on Nurofen, “marijuana tampons” are being packaged as the latest suppository. Provided by a company called Foria which is known for other cannabis-infused products and lubricant, the period pain products aim to ease discomfort without giving women a “psychotropic high”. Online reviews, however, say the products helped them with lower back problems and worked for longer than traditional painkillers. One woman reported in Broadly that her cramps disappeared within 20 minutes. It also smells similar to cookie dough or cookie butter, they say.

Getting high on cannabis makes you less likely to work hard for money, study says [The Independent]

Using marijuana makes people slightly less likely to work hard for money, according to a study said to be the first to scientifically confirm what generations of drug users and their friends knew already. However the researchers found no difference between cannabis users not under the influence of the drug and non-users – at least when it came to a test that involved tapping their little finger really quickly.

Risky alone, deadly together [The Washington Post]

Franklin, 60, takes more than a dozen different prescription drugs, washing them down with tap water and puffing on a Marlboro while she waits for them to kick in. There’s a purple morphine tablet for chronic back pain, a blue Xanax for anxiety and a white probiotic for her stomach, which aches from all the other pills. “They take the edge off, but that’s about it,” Franklin says. So she keeps a bottle of vodka handy for added relief, increasing her risk of joining the legions of American women dying from prescription-drug overdoses. While death rates are falling for blacks and Hispanics in middle age, whites are dying prematurely in growing numbers, particularly white women. One reason: a big increase in overdoses, primarily from opioids, but also from anti-anxiety drugs, which are often prescribed in tandem.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Cannabis Policy Endorsed By Former Goverment Drugs Adviser David Nutt [The Huffington Post]

Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to decriminalise cannabis for medical use has been backed by drugs expert David Nutt, the former Government chief drugs adviser. Nutt, who was sacked by a Labour Government after calling for LSD, ecstasy and cannabis to be legalised, hailed Corbyn’s views as “common sense” after they were revealed last week.

Dying For Weed [BBC]

In the fourth episode of Drugs Map of Britain, we go on a road trip around the country to meet seriously ill people who believe cannabis is curing them. The UK Government says the drug has “no therapeutic value”, but in half of the USA’s 50 states it has been legalised for medicinal use.
Andy, Phil and others all believe that cannabis can – if not cure their condition – give them much needed pain relief. And we meet Jeff, a cannabis campaigner distributing cannabis oil to the sick, for free.  But by resorting to this illegal and unregulated drug, what risks are they all taking?

UK Parliament To Release Report On Inquiry Into Medicinal Cannabis [Cannabis Law Reform]

Next Tuesday, 13th September 2016, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform (APPG) will release its report following its inquiry into medicinal cannabis. The APPG consists of members of both Houses of Parliament.  It was established in 2011 with a declaration that reads:

  • That the global war on drugs has failed.
  • That we will work for drug policy reform.
  • That the Group will draw upon available evidence and experience in order to inform our recommendations.

Copenhagen cannabis market torn down after shooting [BBC]

Residents in a semi-autonomous district of the Danish capital, Copenhagen, have destroyed market stalls where cannabis was sold, after a shooting incident there earlier this week. The Christiania district, founded by squatters 45 years ago, is known for its colourful houses and cannabis trade and was a popular tourist attraction. But residents fear the area has become infiltrated by organised crime. On Wednesday, two police officers were shot there during an arrest operation. “If they start building up the booths again tonight, then well, we’re here tonight as well. The plan is to continue tearing them down until it works,” Christiania resident Helene Schou said. “I’m not saying hash should disappear completely from Christiania, but we needed a kiosk and what we had was a supermarket.”

In Philippine Drug War, Little Help for Those Who Surrender [The New York Times]

Across the Philippines, the killing of some 1,300 drug suspects in the last two months has frightened hundreds of thousands of people like Ms. Bongol into turning themselves in. Officials cite the estimated 687,000 people who have surrendered, which vastly exceeded expectations, as evidence that Mr. Duterte’s deadly campaign is succeeding. But the government is proving woefully unprepared to help the flood of users pledging to kick their habits, leaving almost all of them to battle addiction largely on their own. The country’s meager drug treatment facilities have been overwhelmed, creating a new crisis for Mr. Duterte as he presses ahead with his violent campaign to rid the nation of drug dealers. The government is scrambling to expand rehabilitation services to keep up with the security measures. There are fewer than 50 accredited rehabilitation facilities nationwide, and most are already full. The country also lacks both doctors who can assess the patients’ needs and qualified drug counselors.

Indonesia drug chief calls for Philippine-style crackdown [BBC]

Indonesia’s anti-narcotics chief has called for the country to imitate the brutal war on drugs launched by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Budi Waseso praised Mr Duterte and said drug dealers’ lives were “meaningless”. President Joko Widodo is hosting Mr Duterte in Jakarta later this week, where discussions on how to tackle the drugs trade will be high on the agenda. Indonesia already has some of the toughest drug laws in the world and ended a four-year moratorium on executions in 2013.

Say Why To Drugs [acast]

The internet is full of misinformation about recreational drugs – both legal and illegal. Dr Suzi Gage, a psychologist interested in understanding associations between substance use and mental health, tackles one substance per episode – providing information about what we know – the harms, but also potential benefits of these substances. There’s no hype, no spin and no judgement, just information. In the first series, she is in conversation with rapper Scroobius Pip.

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