EMBASSY Headlines Issue 228
The ‘war on drugs’ has failed, and Australia must change its policies [The Age]
It has long been evident the global “war on drugs” sparked by then US president Richard Nixon about half a century ago is one of the most tragic and abject failures in the history of public policy. Rather than reduce harm caused by substance misuse and addiction, it has cost countless lives by treating people with a medical problem as criminals. It has wasted a fortune in taxpayers’ money. It has enriched criminal cartels. It has epitomised politicians’ propensity to pander to fear, rather than to lead enlightened community change by championing evidence-based policy. That is why The Age has for years been arguing the policy should be dumped in favour of a harm minimisation strategy based on decriminalisation, regulation and education. We continue to so advocate, and believe the resources being wasted on this misguided, indefensible “war” should be diverted from the criminal justice system to the health system, where there is a need for more treatment facilities and support to help those with drug issues recover and stay well.
Greens in radical new drug legalisation push [The Sydney Morning Herald]
The Greens have made a radical change to their drugs policy which leader Richard Di Natale hopes will reignite the decriminalisation debate and pave the way for the legalisation of recreational drugs like cannabis. The party has officially ditched its blanket opposition to the legalisation of illicit drugs from its policy platform after members voted to support changes driven by Senator Di Natale at their national conference in Perth on Saturday.
Richard Di Natale Explains Why the Greens Want to Decriminalise Most Drugs [Vice]
How many shattered lives is enough? How many communities have to be broken before we admit what has been staring us in the face all along: that this is a health problem, not a criminal one. What we need is the political will to do what we know is right.
Medicinal cannabis set-up raided [Newcastle Herald]
Newcastle police raided an alleged hydroponic marijuana growing operation in Newcastle, saying that even if it was for “medicinal cannabis” it was against the law.
Police allow dope-smoking Melbourne picnics, dubbing them ‘freedom of expression’ [Cannabis Club Australia]
The Herald Sun photographed drug kits in full view and revellers blatantly smoking the drug in blunts and bongs at the ‘420 picnic’, with dope-laced brownies also on offer. Police for years have turned a blind eye to the hundreds and sometimes thousands of drug users breaking the law at the events, run by pro-legalisation campaigners Free Cannabis Community. Victoria Police confirmed they were aware of the gatherings but no arrests were made at the last picnic. Spokeswoman Leonie Johnson said it was illegal to smoke cannabis, but police used discretion. “Police were not required to attend Flagstaff Gardens, however monitored the event as they do for demonstrations every day across Melbourne,” she said. She said it was believed “the actions of those taking part in the demonstration were to convey a freedom of expression” and police were in close contact with event organisers.
Beer Volumes Declining in Markets Where Recreational Cannabis is Legal [Brewbound]
Legalized marijuana is harshing the buzz of three longtime craft beer meccas, according to a new report from Cowen and Company. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where recreational cannabis use has been legalized, the beer business is underperforming, according to Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst specializing in the beverage, tobacco and cannabis sectors.
The California desert town that plans to be ‘a Mecca for marijuana’ [Independent]
Desert Hot Springs is the first Southern California city to legalise large-scale cannabis cultivation. With the drug becoming legal for recreational use in the Golden State, the community anticipates a weed windfall.
President Obama Says Pot Should Be Regulated Like Cigarettes, Alcohol [International Business Times]
President Barack Obama says though he doesn’t think legalizing marijuana will end America’s drug problem, he believes pot should be regulated the same way cigarettes and alcohol are regulated. Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone published Tuesday, said regulating marijuana is a much smarter way to handle the issue that continuing to treat it as a Schedule I drug.
Marijuana use gender gap widens, mainly among low-income Americans [MedicalXpress]
A new study of changes in marijuana use over time in the U.S. found that the prevalence of past-year marijuana use increased for both men and women between 2002 and 2014. Throughout this period, more men reported past-year use than women, but since 2007, the rate of increase was greater for men than for women, leading to a widening of the gender gap in marijuana use over time. An estimated 6 million additional men and 4 million additional women used marijuana in 2014 compared to 2002.
Where Marijuana Plants Flourish Under Energy-Saving LED Lights [The New York Times]
Behind the covered windows of a nondescript two-story building near the Olympia Regional Airport, hundreds of marijuana plants were flowering recently in the purple haze of 40 LED lights. It was part of a high-stakes experiment in energy conservation — an undertaking subsidized by the local electric company. With cannabis cultivation poised to become a big business in some parts of the country, power companies and government officials hope it will grow into a green industry. The plants here, destined for sale in the form of dried flowers, joints or edible items, were just a few weeks from harvest and exuding the potent aroma of a stash room for the Grateful Dead. But the energy-efficient LED lights were the focus of attention. “We wanted to find a way to save energy — that was important to us,” said Rodger Rutter, a retired airline pilot who started this indoor pot-farming business, Evergrow Northwest, after Washington State legalized recreational cannabis in 2012.
Why This Cannabis Oil Has Lawmakers Stumped [Motherboard]
Not all products made from cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in marijuana, are the same—not only does the potency vary from product to product, but so too does its legality in the United States. In large part, where the CBD oil, as it’s called, is derived from makes a big difference.
Legalized Marijuana Could Drive A New Tech Boom [Forbes]
Along with the various production and retail businesses that spring up when marijuana is legalized, there are also a variety of tech opportunities. As marijuana becomes a bigger industry across the entire country, it could drive a boom in marijuana-related tech.
Cannabis dispensaries join Black Friday craze with ‘Green Friday’ discounts [International Business Times]
Cannabis dispensaries in the US are to join retailers across the country by offering Black Friday deals for their products, as the drug is set to receive mainstream acceptance following several more states voting to legalise it. Several shops in California, one of four states that voted to legalise recreational use of cannabis in November, have been promoting their deals ahead of Black Friday – the day of discount deals that began in the US every 25 November but has started take hold in Europe and beyond.
Race and Marijuana Arrests [New York Times]
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in 2014, has made some progress in cutting back on the unfair and sometimes illegal police practices under which thousands of New Yorkers are arrested every year for possessing trivial amounts of marijuana. But despite research showing that whites and minority citizens use marijuana at similar rates, black and Latino New Yorkers are still far and away more likely to be singled out for low-level arrests that have little public safety value, but seriously damage their lives.
Marijuana advocates sceptical about Canada path to legal pot [BBC]
Canada will soon introduce legislation to legalise recreational marijuana. Pot advocates are not as happy as you might think. The Cannabis Culture dispensary in downtown Toronto gets a steady stream of foot traffic around noon on a weekday. But Marc Emery, who helped set up the franchise that flouts Canadian drug laws by selling pot to anyone over 19, is annoyed. The dispensary had been raided the day before by Toronto police. “It’s the government’s intention to legalise it. So why is the government still arresting people?” he asks.
We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned [Southern California Public Radio]
He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot. “What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened,” Coler says.
California marijuana legalization comes with legal reprieves [The Mercury News]
Proposition 64 does more than legalize the adult use of pot. It grants a reprieve to those already in the criminal justice system — reducing tough penalties and sentences, offering greater leniency to juveniles and wiping the slate clean for some old marijuana offenses, ending a lifetime of stigma.
Madonna stands by son Rocco after marijuana arrest [Sky News]
Madonna has said she will stand by her son, Rocco, after the 16-year-old was arrested for having marijuana. Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the star’s son with director Guy Ritchie was held on 28 September after police in London found cannabis in his rucksack.
Cannabis is harmful, that’s why it needs to be regulated [The New Statesman]
Prohibition has failed — it is time for an open debate on how best to legislate for the UK’s most popular drug. I never cease to be amazed by people’s instinctive reflex that unpleasant things can simply be removed from this world by “banning” them. The idea that cannabis can be eradicated from our society through the action of the criminal law flies in the face of 50 years of evidence of the failure of prohibition. No country has even got close. As we saw with alcohol in 1920s America, banning something that people enjoy doing doesn’t stop them from wanting to do it: it simply creates a criminal market to service that demand.
Green light: The medicinal cannabis bill will be passed by the Dáil tomorrow [The Journal]
The Irish government will not oppose the medicinal cannabis bill due before the Dáil tomorrow, ensuring it will be passed. The bill seeks to regulate the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Five Things To Know About Cannabis in Germany [volteface]
There’s long been talk of legalizing cannabis in Germany, especially in the capital of Berlin. But how close is Deutschland actually to making marijuana mainstream? Here’s a look at the basic facts. The debate about legalizing cannabis continues in Germany – court cases in recent years have granted permission to use the drug for medical purposes, and Germany’s health minister hopes to officially expand these rights by 2017. But what else is there to know about the mystical herb in Germany?
Europe’s outdoor cannabis capital [BBC]
Albania has become the largest producer of outdoor-grown cannabis in Europe. The potent plant has been described as “green gold” for struggling farmers. In a poor nation, it’s a billion-euro industry.
WHO’s Silence on Cannabis [The Scientist]
Cannabis is hugely popular. One-hundred-eighty-two million people use cannabis across the world and, with this level of exposure, the way cannabis is regulated matters. As does the evidence of risks and benefits to health, which underpins regulation. Sometimes saying nothing is as telling as saying something. Silence can suggest retaining the status quo. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been silent about the international regulatory controls on cannabis since its inception in 1935. The past 80 years have brought dramatic advances in scientific knowledge about cannabis, so it is odd that WHO has not provided updated advice about its legal status. Indeed, cannabis continues to be scheduled in the same legal category as morphine—despite opiates such as morphine being more harmful, as recent drug fatality data reveal.
Global Drug Survey 2017: Stigmatised Stoners [volteface]
After the release of the results of the 2016 Global Drug Survey. In the second of two blog posts for VolteFace, Adam Winstock, founder of the GDS, shares his plans for next year’s survey of cannabis use.
How the tobacco industry is gaming Australian health regulations [The Conversation]
Australia’s tough tobacco regulations are acting as a catalyst for the industry to develop sophisticated marketing practices. These companies are gaming the system by anticipating regulatory impact and then using unregulated marketing elements to overcome it.
Sante! Belgium wants its beer on global culture list [Reuters]
From brown ales to golden pilsners to the strong trappist brews produced in monasteries, Belgian beer is enjoyed around the world. Now, Belgium is asking the United Nations’ heritage body to add its beer-making and drinking culture to a list of traditions worth protecting, saying that brewing fosters a unified identity in a country with three official languages. The country is home to nearly 200 breweries making 1,500 different beers, according to the trade association Belgian Brewers, which prepared Belgium’s application. National dishes also include beer and the country has some 30 brewing museums.