EMBASSY Headlines Issue 220
EMBASSY Headlines Issue 220

EMBASSY Headlines Issue 220

Next Nimbin Medican Workshop October 22 [Nimbin Hemp Embassy]

Nimbin’s next medical cannabis workshop will be held on Saturday October 22 in the villages Town Hall, starting at 11 am. “The more our Premiers talk about medical cannabis the more our phone rings,” says Nimbin HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone. “These workshops have proven to be very popular for sharing knowledge and experience and we’ll continue doing them every few months. This time local solicitor Steve Bolt will open the workshop with some legal advice for all those who think the laws have changed. They haven’t, or not yet anyway. His talk will be followed by various healers, including Dr Andrew Katelaris, Tony Bower from Mullaways Medical Cannabis, Chris Harris, Paul Lawrence, Heather Gladman and Frances Hood, Ellen Jones, Radic Al and Andrew Kavasilas, secretary of the Australian HEMP Party.”

“It’s encouraging that the Federal Government is forging ahead with plans to licence the production of medical cannabis but some people can’t wait. And if you have an epileptic child or inoperable cancer, who wants to wait? Meanwhile, news of the plants fantastic healing abilities in certain cases where other drugs have failed are filling the internet and not everyone can afford to fly to Colorado. The more information we can give interested people the better,” he says. “The HEMP Embassy in Nimbin is open every day and never been busier.”

Marijuana Australiana [Bryon Bay International Film Festival]

Marijuana Australiana screens on  FRIDAY, October  21 at  7.30PM at the Byron Community Centre. Celebrating  Nimbin and the gleefully defiant MardiGrass, and beyond,  into the bush, where connoisseur horticulturalists lovingly raise their crops. Among footage of the dancing Ganja Faeries, bong-throwing contests and advocates on both sides come the quiet testimonies from the parents of terribly sick children whose lives have been improved. Director Richard Baron will be in attendance.

Queensland medicinal marijuana one step closer as committee report tabled [The Age]

Criminal history checks on doctors and patients should not be used to assess applications to access medical marijuana in Queensland, a parliamentary committee has argued. The Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Committee has delivered its report on a bill which would create a formal process for Queensland doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis. The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016 proposed allowing the chief executive of Queensland Health to request a criminal history report on medical practitioners – and their patients – as part of the decision on whether they were a suitable person to prescribe or receive the drug. Several groups opposed the measure, arguing criminal history was not relevant in a clinical determination of a patient’s medical treatment, and could discriminate against patients with old or minor convictions. The Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies pointed out that medical practitioners already needed criminal history checks as part of their registration process. The committee said Queensland Health had not provided sufficient justification for the use of criminal history checks, and recommended references to criminal history be removed from the bill.

Questions and answers: Medicinal cannabis [Australian Govt Office of Drug Control]

The following is a summary of questions and responses put at the July 2016 Consultation and Information Sessions about the medicinal cannabis scheme, grouped loosely by theme. These information sharing and consultation sessions and three state and territory working groups cover acquiring seeds, cultivation, licences and permits, manufacture, compliance, patient access, cost-recovery, import and export, and law enforcement issues.

Hundreds of Australian soldiers busted for taking cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy and ice [News]

Hundreds of Australian soldiers have returned positive drug test results in the past four years with the vast majority given the boot, Defence documents reveal. Ecstasy remains the drug most commonly detected, with it found in some form in 96 tests. That was followed by cannabis (80 positive readings), amphetamines (65), steroids (64) and methamphetamines (57). Just four were busted for use of opiates, with 22 each for use of cocaines and benzodiazepines. Under Defence’s tough on drugs policy only one soldier escaped any penalty. Thirteen remain in the army on up to three years formal warning and seven cases from this year remain to be determined. The rest were discharged from the army.

ACT politicians urged to address drug, alcohol problems and divert youth away from justice system [The Age]

Among the top priorities were: expanding the simple cannabis offence notice (SCON) fine system to all other drugs; deeper efforts to divert young people arrested for minor drug offences away from the criminal justice system and providing more withdrawal treatment services for those dependant on drugs to safely stop using.

U.S. drug czar: The feds have dragged their feet on pot research [The Cannabist]

The U.S. government hasn’t really done what it could to further medical marijuana research, the nation’s drug czar says. Michael Botticelli, the director of national drug control policy for the Obama administration, recently joined Politico’s “Pulse Check” podcast to share his thoughts on the “war on drugs,” addiction and how the government’s relationship with marijuana has evolved. “I do think it’s a somewhat fair criticism that the government hasn’t fully supported research to really investigate what’s the potential therapeutic value,” Botticelli says. “And I think the administration, the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) and others have done a number of things to continue to promote good scientific research and diminish some of the barriers that we’ve heard from the research community.”

Your doctor is probably more worried about your weight than your marijuana use, study finds [The Washington Post]

Doctors in the United States are not terribly concerned about your marijuana use, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Researchers presented a representative sample of 233 primary-care physicians with nine hypothetical patient behaviors — tobacco use, alcohol use, obesity, etc. — and asked them how much of a problem they thought these behaviors were on a 10-point scale. Their goal was to suss out differences in doctors’ attitudes and treatment behaviors based on their political affiliation. Among the nine behaviors, doctors rated marijuana use as the least-worrisome behavior. The doctors rated alcohol use, tobacco use and obesity as significantly more pressing issues, health-wise, than marijuana use.

Assembly OKs Anchorage’s first marijuana retail store [Alaska Dispatch News]

The Anchorage Assembly unanimously approved the city’s first license for a retail pot shop Tuesday night, setting the stage for Anchorage residents to buy legal marijuana in just a few weeks’ time. After an extremely brief hearing, the Assembly approved a marijuana license and special land use permit for Arctic Herbery, which is located in an industrial area south of Midtown. There was no discussion among Assembly members and no one showed up to testify before the vote. The owner of Arctic Herbery, Bryant Thorp, had already attended several Assembly committee meetings to work out the details of his proposal. In July, Thorp received a cultivation license from the city for a grow operation at the same location. “I’m shocked. That was easy,” Thorp, an Anchorage real estate agent and former post office manager, said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting. The Assembly approval gives Thorp the go-ahead to open a shop near West 71st Avenue on Arctic Boulevard. Some conditions are attached to the license, such as requiring the store to be closed between midnight and 8 a.m, and be well-ventilated enough that the smell of marijuana can’t be detected at the property line. Thorp also submitted to the Assembly an agreement with the Taku-Campbell Community Council that lays out a framework for communicating with neighbors about problems.

How medical marijuana could help boomers get the most out of retirement [The Washington Post]

States that passed medical marijuana laws saw a significant boost to older Americans’ workforce participation, according to a new working paper from researchers at Johns Hopkins and Temple University. States with medical marijuana laws also saw improvements in overall health for older men, although the health effects for older women were more mixed. Like many recent studies examining the effects of marijuana laws, this one compared what happened in medical marijuana states before and after the passage of medical pot provisions, and compared them to trajectories in similar states that did not implement medical marijuana. The data come from the Health and Retirement study, a long-running survey of the health and economic well-being of older American adults. The study found that, among individuals age 50 and older, “passage of [a medical marijuana law] leads to a 9.4 percent increase in the probability of employment and a 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent increase in hours worked per week.”

US pro-marijuana campaigners launch TV ads ahead of November votes [Raw Story]

Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use in Massachusetts and Maine launched their first television ads on Monday, hoping to boost public awareness and support ahead of November votes on the issue. The ads began just over a month before Election Day, when voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize the recreational use of the drug, following the lead of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia. The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department officer and current professor of criminal justice at Merrimack College, advocating for legalization as a way to better regulate marijuana use.

Find out what’s at stake this November [Drug Policy Alliance]

American citizens across the board would benefit from sensible drug policy reform this year – including your friends and family. Let them know what’s at stake.

Marijuana Arrests Hit A Two-Decade Low But Are Still An Outrage [Forbes]

FBI statistics released this week show that the number of marijuana arrests in the United States, after rising slightly in 2014, fell by 8%t last year, reaching the lowest level in two decades. The total was nevertheless more than twice the number in 1991, before a nationwide cannabis crackdown that peaked in 2007. The number of marijuana arrests has fallen more or less steadily since then, reflecting a growing consensus that cannabis consumers should not be treated as criminals.

Marijuana legalization is leading in every state where it’s on the ballot this November [The Washington Post]

Marijuana advocates are heading into the final weeks of the 2016 campaign with the wind at their backs as the latest polling shows legalization measures currently favored by voters in all five states where they’re on the ballot. This is something of a reversal from just a month ago, when the most recent polling had shown voters wary of legalization measures in Massachusetts and Arizona. But the margins of support aren’t huge in any state, meaning that the contests could still swing either way. Polling ballot issues is a tricky business, all the more so with marijuana-related issues, where responses can be heavily influenced by particular question wording. So in the same state, different polls with different question wording can yield radically different results even if fielded at similar times.

Could a marijuana tax help Portland’s minority-owned businesses? [The Guardian]

The legal marijuana trade is booming in Oregon. The government has collected more than $25m in sales taxes so far in 2016, according to the state’s Department of Revenue. With a 25% tax on the stuff, that translates to more than $100m-worth of weed sold so far. But a range of cultural, educational and legal barriers may have kept minorities from cashing in. Support for minorities who want to enter the budding trade could come in the form of a new 3% sales tax on recreational weed in Portland, a ballot measure that will be voted on in November. Oregon will tax marijuana at 17% starting in January, and the additional 3% tax aims, in part, to help people of color in launching their own innovative small businesses. The Portland lawmakers behind the bill project that the additional tax could bring in at least $3m per year, part of which would go toward assisting neighborhood minority-owned businesses of any type, in the form of incubator programs, management and job training and financial support. The accrued tax revenue would also be funneled into drug and alcohol education and treatment programs, public safety investments and supporting women-owned businesses. Finally, a portion would go toward a grant program for people who want to expunge past marijuana-related charges from their criminal records but who can’t afford the hefty legal fees involved.

High times: why TV is getting blazed on cannabis comedies [The Guardian]

Television loves a good zeitgeist to latch onto – but, as trends go, marijuana is hardly new, with the first recorded use of it dating way back into the BC era. So why are small screen execs suddenly obsessed with it? Breakout hit High Maintenance has just been commissioned for a second season on HBO, while at least four other major shows are in development. The legalisation of the drug in Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon is clearly having an influence, but is that all it is? Or have attitudes to cannabis on TV been changing for longer than that?

Some California marijuana growers are against legalization over fears of ‘economic injustice’ [Business Insider UK]

The larger Prop. 64 debate has focused on moral, social and health consequences of legalized pot use, but growers’ concerns are more prosaic. Some fear going legit will mean too much red tape and burdensome oversight. Some fear an onslaught of big business – and competition that could wipe them out.  “I don’t want to replace a criminal injustice with an economic injustice,” Allen said.  Steve Dodge, the CEO of the Humboldt Growers Collective, another trade group, said he is voting against the initiative because it would allow regulatory inspections that some pot growers view as tantamount to warrantless searches.

The Way We Talk About Drug ‘Abuse’ Is Harmful — And It Needs To Change [The Huffington Post]

Substance use disorder isn’t a moral failing. Our language should reflect that. Substance use disorder is a medical circumstance ― a brain disease that can be targeted and treated. But when we use words like “junkie” and “crackhead,” we frame the issue in moral terms, suggesting that people with substance use disorders simply lack the willpower to get better. And that’s not helpful for anyone. That’s the contention of Michael Botticelli, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is working to change the way Americans talk about addiction. The problem with much of the existing language in this area is that it carries judgmental connotations. That can increase the stigma associated with substance use disorders, and end up driving people away from the treatment they need. You don’t want to seek help from someone you feel is looking down on you.

Canadian college to launch marijuana cultivation course next year [The Guardian]

A college in the Canadian province of New Brunswick plans to institute a program on marijuana cultivation so that students can be trained to work at local companies that produce the drug. The French-language College Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick will launch the course next year, said Michel Doucet, executive director of continuing education and customized learning.  In August, the government of New Brunswick, where the college has five campuses, said it invested C$4m ($3.03m) in a medical marijuana company that will create up to 208 jobs in the region. “This is not a mainstream program,” he said. “We’re looking at training qualified employees to meet the needs of industry, versus training students at large.”

Canada faces choice on international drug treaties over legalized pot [CBC News]

As Canada moves forward with its plan to legalize marijuana, government officials have at least one international conundrum to sort out: what to do about the global treaties Canada has signed that prohibit making pot legal? A senior government official said there are essentially two options available. On the one hand, Canada could take a “principled stand” in favour of the international legalization of pot. The other, quieter approach, would be to withdraw from the treaties and attempt to re-enter with a special exemption for legalized marijuana. It’s the second option, causing the “least international turbulence,” that the federal government favours, said the source. But at least one Canadian researcher believes that would be a missed opportunity for Canada. Steven Hoffman, a professor at the University of Ottawa, is co-author of a paper that identified two treaties Canada’s new pot policy is expected to violate:

  • 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
  • 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

Hoffman said there is precedent for the quieter option.

In Bolivia, there is a traditional practice of chewing coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine, which the 1961 convention considers a narcotic. In 2012, Bolivia withdrew from the UN treaty. The next year, other member states allowed Bolivia to re-accede with a reservation for chewing coca.

Fast Developing News On CBD And Medicinal Cannabis [Cannabis Law Reform UK]

We learned today that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started issuing letters to CBD suppliers advising them that CBD is being designated as a medicine and that sale of CBD products must stop within 28 days. This will be alarming news to many people.  However, it is a complex situation which has some positive aspects to it.  In the short term, if you are already using CBD products, you would be well advised to stock up as much as you can afford. CLEAR has been aware of this possibility for several weeks and consequently we have been working with leading CBD suppliers and licensed producers of both low and high THC cannabis on establishing the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA).  We are already in correspondence with the MHRA seeking to represent all stakeholders, to establish a consultation process on regulating CBD products and to protect the interests of producers, suppliers and consumers. What these MHRA letters mean is that for CBD to be sold in future, suppliers will have to obtain either a ‘marketing authorisation’ or a ‘traditional herbal registration’ from the MHRA. A marketing authorisation can be fantastically expensive, requiring an initial application fee of £103,000 and full scale clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.

The Future Of UK Medical Marijuana Remains Blurry But There Are Lessons To Take Away From Canada [Points Blog]

In a recently co-edited series on Canadian cannabis called Waiting to Inhale, it became clear that medical marijuana was a supremely complex policy issue. Some of the questions included, but were not limited to, the tenuous balance between consumers and regulators, Canadian physicians as unwanted gatekeepers, marijuana as a measure (and potential leveller) of inequities, and the major struggles between Big Cannabis and craft cannabis. Looking ahead, the UK can learn lessons from other countries, including Canada.

Where is cannabis most popular in UK? [Russell Webster]

Using the same source material, the Independent has now created another map which shows the popularity of cannabis on a region-by-region basis. The figures in the map below — which refer to the percentage of people in that area who told CSEW that they had smoked cannabis in the previous year — show that 8.2 per cent of people in the South West used cannabis,  with Londoners (7.2%) and people in the North West (7.1%) also more likely to smoke weed than other areas:

Right-to-die campaigner calls for legalisation of medical cannabis [The Irish Times]

Right-to-die campaigner Tom Curran has called on the Government to legalise the use of cannabis for medical purposes.  Mr Curran said only two things kept his wife, Marie Fleming, alive in her final years as she suffered from a progressive form of multiple sclerosis and both were illegal. The first was the prospect that her suffering would be ended by assisted suicide, while the second was the use of cannabis, which Mr Curran grew himself at home. Ms Fleming died of natural causes in December 2013, having failed in her Supreme Court bid to allow her husband help her to undergo assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.

Danish couple face 10 years in prison for selling cannabis to cancer patients [Independent]

Police in Denmark have arrested a man and woman on suspicion of providing cannabis to cancer patients and people with other serious illnesses.  The couple, who were detained on Tuesday, could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. Claus ‘Moffe’ Nielsen had previously admitted selling cannabis and spoken to Danish media about it. He said he knew he might be arrested one day, but did not care. A poll found in June that 88 per cent of Danes support legalising cannabis for medicinal use. A slim majority are also in favour of legalising cannabis for recreational use, according to other polls. In 2014, several Danish parties signed a political agreement to ring-fence funding for “research projects on pain relief, including the use of medicinal cannabis”.

Drugs haul found on Copenhagen Opera House roof [BBC]

Police in the Danish capital Copenhagen have revealed that they seized 75kg (165lbs) of marijuana found on the roof of the city’s prestigious Opera House earlier this year. Authorities have made the discovery of the stash public after seven months of investigations drew a blank, and are now treating the dozens of blocks of drugs as “lost property”, Danish TV 2 reports. The drugs were uncovered in February by workmen who were on the roof repairing water damage, and police kept it secret in the hope that the owner might return to recover their illicit goods, Ekstra Bladet newspaper says.

Prehistoric body found buried in cannabis-plant shroud at ancient Silk Road oasis [Independent]

A body wrapped in cannabis plants has been found in a prehistoric tomb in China, in a discovery which suggests the psychoactive plant may have been used for ritual purposes. The remains of a man, who died when he was about 35, were found wrapped in 13 plants in the Jiayi cemetery at Turpan in north-west China. Archaeologists said the plants, which were up to about a metre long, appeared to have been arranged as a “burial shroud”. Radiocarbon dating was used to estimate the tomb was created sometimes between 2,400 and 2,800 years ago. Writing in the journal Economic Botany, archaeologist Dr Hongen Jiang, of the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and colleagues described the discovery as “extraordinary”. “Research discussed in this paper describes 13 nearly whole plants of cannabis that appear to have been locally produced and purposefully arranged and used as a burial shroud which was placed upon a male corpse,” they said. “This unique discovery provides new insight into the ritualistic use of cannabis in prehistoric central Eurasia.”

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