EMBASSY Headlines Issue 229

By Published On: December 8, 2016Categories: Cannabis

Are cannabis raids effective? [The Northern Star]

Police cannabis raids on the Northern Rivers have been put under the microscope by law and cannabis experts. Last week, NSW Police drug squad and Richmond Local Area Command police seized 3314 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of $6.6 million during the broader statewide operation, Strike Force Hyperion. After more two decades of the annual cannabis eradication operations across the region, lecturer at Southern Cross University’s School of Law and Justice Aidan Ricketts said the raids haven’t made a dint in the cannabis supply. Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone claimed the eradication program signifies “a cultural war rather than a cannabis search” in the region’s west. While he understands police targeting large cannabis plantations, Mr Balderstone said a “huge percentage” of crops in the Nimbin area are very small and grown for personal or medicinal use that would “never get to market or the street”.

Our drugs policies have failed. It’s time to reinvent them based on what actually works [The Conversation]

Our governments spend a great deal of money responding to illicit drugs use. That includes prevention programs, healthcare, treatment programs and harm-reduction services; the humane face of drugs policies. But in Australia, as in other Western nations like the United States, Britain, Germany and Sweden, the lion’s share of funding – more than 60% – is spent on law enforcement. While law enforcement appropriately focuses on disrupting supply chains, protecting borders and controlling access to precursor chemicals, much effort is also spent on arresting people who use drugs.

Medical cannabis business ‘told to set up elsewhere’ [Cannabis Club Australia]

A medical marijuana entrepreneur claims staff in Investment Attraction South Australia have advised him to set up business in a different state, but says he will persist in his goal to bring a “$300 million plus industry” to South Australia. Australian Cannabis Corporation co-founder Ben Fitzsimons posted to Facebook yesterday complaining that the State Government had “told us twice to go do business interstate”. The State Government threw its weight behind the development of a medical cannabis industry for South Australia earlier this year, saying it would assist licensed medicinal cannabis businesses operating in South Australia to lobby the Commonwealth Government for export permits.

Gold Coast City Council begin weekly random drug tests [The Courier Mail]

Random drug and alcohol tests for Gold Coast City Council workers have begun. The tests began today after councillors approved the move, costing ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, in September. About 50 of the council’s 3500 staff, from the CEO through to cleaners and lifeguards, will be tested each week for alcohol, opiates cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines. Staff are being selected for the tests by in a lotto-style marble draw. A drug and alcohol testing van was parked outside council offices at Bundall today as the testing regime began. “It’s really about safety of our staff – that’s the paramount issue,” council chief operating officer Joe McCabe said. Council workers won’t be sacked for being drunk or drugged on the job but can be stood down. Mayor Tom Tate and the 14 councillors are exempt from the tests because they are not considered council employees.

Decriminalise ‘old drugs’ to protect young people from new drugs, expert says [ABC]

An expert in emerging drugs says Australia is heading toward a public health crisis and needs to finds alternative ways to regulate illicit drugs. Dr Stephen Bright from Curtin University’s School of Psychology said lawmakers were playing a game of cat and mouse trying to track and legislate emerging drugs, and they should consider decriminalising known hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and MDMA.

Do cannabis users think package warnings are needed? [EurekAlert!]

In the article “Cannabis Users’ Recommended Warnings for Packages of Legally Sold Cannabis: An Australia-Centered Study,” authors John Malouff, Caitlin Johnson, University of New England, and Sally Rooke, University of Sydney, Australia, asked young adults who had used cannabis at least once to suggest a warning that governments could mandate on cannabis packages. Some youths in Australia view cannabis as potentially harmful, and many of their recommended warnings agreed with those of experts, particularly related to the effects of cannabis on driving ability, mental health and psychological functioning, addiction/abuse risk, and long-term physical effects. However, the study participants also suggested some types of warnings not typically recommended by experts.

The Business of Drugs [Radio NZ]

In the fifth episode of From Zero we examine the business of drugs in New Zealand: how are illicit drugs made and sold? Why are poorer communities targeted? Who takes the risks? Who makes the money?

NY tweaks medical pot law but still no talk of legalization [Medical Xpress]

New York is loosening restrictions in its nearly year-old medical marijuana law but, to the dismay of some pot advocates, there is no sign the state is in any hurry to join eight other states in embracing full legalization.

Man Who Was Serving More Than 13 Years Over Two Joints’ Worth Of Marijuana Gets Sentence Reduced [The Huffington Post]

Bernard Noble, a 50-year-old father of seven, has spent the last six years in prison in Louisiana serving out a sentence of 13 and a half years for possession of what was the equivalent of two joints’ worth of marijuana. Noble’s case was a rallying cry for those seeking reform of harsh sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. And Monday, after years of litigation, multiple articles on his case (including from The Huffington Post), documentaries, podcasts, rallies and petitions, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro agreed to resentence Noble to eight years, Noble’s attorney Jee Park announced in a statement. That means he could be free in less than two more years given the time he’s already served behind bars.

The Big Business of Making a Cannabis Surveillance State [Motherboard]

Walk into any licensed cannabis grow op in Colorado and one of the first things you’ll notice are the barcodes. Every plant has a brightly colored tag—blue for recreational and yellow for medicinal—zip-tied to its stalk or planted in its soil, and each tag bears a bar code and a Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chip. Look up from the plants and you’ll notice the security cameras silently monitoring every inch of the floor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees will likely be wearing badges that allow a computer program to track their movement from room to room. Perhaps you’ll run into an inspector from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, who show up unannounced to verify the amount of flower produced by the grow op matches with what the state has recorded in their real-time inventory systems. Welcome to the cannabis surveillance state, a multi-million dollar industry that is responsible for turning America’s favorite black market flower into one of the most highly regulated commodities on the market today.

‘Baby boomers’ on dope: Recreational marijuana use is on the rise among adults over 50 [Medical Xpress]

There is a common misperception that widespread marijuana use is limited to younger generations. However, the Baby Boomer generation has reported higher rates of substance use than any preceding generation. “Given the unprecedented aging of the U.S. population, we are facing a never before seen cohort of older adults who use recreational drugs,” says Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and health services researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC).

MedMen Pledges $1 Million to Marijuana Policy Project [MedMen]

During the cannabis industry’s largest business conference of the year in Las Vegas recently, MedMen co-founders Adam Bierman and Andrew Modlin presented the Marijuana Policy Project with a check for $1 million to aid in the group’s ongoing advocacy against Prohibition. On the heels of this November elections, the nation’s pre-eminent cannabis advocacy group announced it is launching a 5-year campaign to end federal prohibition by 2021. MPP led the recent campaigns in Massachusetts and Maine, co-led the Nevada campaign, and helped pass measures in California, Florida and North Dakota.

Economists examined US legal cannabis sector to gauge value of banking services [Science News]

Despite the many innovative services in the digital age, conventional banking remains important to newly-established businesses; banking cannot yet be replaced by online financial services such as crowdfunding or PayPal, according to a recent study. The economic researchers investigated what role the traditional banks play for newly-founded companies within a highly-developed economy based on the unique example of the US cannabis industry. They found that both the credit and transaction services traditionally provided by banks are key.

Cannabis legalised on school grounds in Board of Education ruling [Independent]

Students will legally be allowed to take cannabis in school after a town’s landmark legislation change. Schools in Ridgefield Park, a district in New Jersey, USA, will permit parents and guardians to administer medical marijuana to pupils while on school grounds, on a school bus or at school-sponsored events.

Pot smokers feel ‘cheated’ by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [Toronto Sun]

Recreational marijuana users who worked hard to elect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now feel “cheated” by his support of a police crackdown on storefront dispensaries, a cannabis industry spokesperson says. Abi Roach, a director with the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, said marijuana consumers helped the federal Liberals gain a majority government based on an expectation that he would allow small businesses to sell weed legally to recreational users. Trudeau has promised to introduce legislation designed to legalize pot in the spring. The crackdown that has occurred under Trudeau has been stricter than under any previous government, including that of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, she said. “All we’ve seen is raids and arrests and more criminal records and more issues and more problems,” Roach said. “When Trudeau was elected, I cried … We campaigned our butts off for Trudeau because we wanted him to win so bad because we believed what he was saying … Wow, was I cheated or what. I think that’s the way most cannabis consumers feel.”

Extract from the Report of the 38th Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, convened from 14 to 18 November 2016, at WHO headquarters in Geneva [Commission on Narcotic Drugs, WHO]

Substances recommended to be scheduled in Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), as amended by the 1972 and an update on cannabis and cannabis resin.

Medical Cannabis Gets a Hearing in the EU Parliament [volteface]

On the 30th of November, politicians from the European Parliament gathered with a range of patients, activists, campaigners, entrepreneurs and scientists from the European cannabis community to discuss the future of the industry at the inaugural International Conference on Medical Cannabis.

Mapped: The countries that smoke the most cannabis [The Telegraph]

The UNODC’s data suggests that cannabis is used by 18.3 per cent of Iceland’s population (aged 15-64). The US (16.2 per cent) and Nigeria (14.3 per cent) had the second and third highest rates of consumption; the UK came 26th on the list, followed by Ireland. And Australia? It came 9th.  Data is not available for all of the world’s countries – and some figures have been updated more recently than others – meaning caution should be exercised when drawing comparisons.

High Stakes: An Inquiry into the Drugs Crisis in English Prisons [volteface]

Prisons are in crisis with record levels of suicides, violence and self-harm. Traditional drugs have been replaced by a family of drugs called synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, generically referred to as ‘black mamba’ or ‘spice.’ The government has failed to recognise the important policy implications of these new drugs, and the lack of intelligent drug policy in the new white paper risks undermining the entirety of the proposed prison reforms.

This report is the first of its kind bringing together experts in drug and prison policy to examine the implications of the radical shift in prison drug markets and propose pragmatic solutions to reduce drug-related harms and improve prison safety and security.

The report reviews the rise to near ubiquity of spice in men’s prisons in England. These diverse and multitudinous substances have risen to prominence globally in response to international prohibition of popular illicit substances, in particular cannabis. These new substances have relatively unknown risk profiles and many induce paranoia, behavioural disturbances, violence, seizures and convulsions. They are particularly popular in prisons due to their low cost, difficulty to detect, and “bird [prison sentence] killing” effects.

Medicinal cannabis legislation on course to be legalised by Easter [Irish Examiner]

Medicinal cannabis legislation has passed the second stage in Dáil and is on course to be legalised by Easter next year. It’s after the Government decided not to oppose the bill – put forward from People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny. Health minister Simon Harris says he has some concerns and will make amendments at committee stage in the new year. Deputy Gino Kenny says regulation is the key. He said: “People are using cannabis anyway, they are buying it on the street or growing it themselves, but everything is open to abuse. But the pros far outweigh the cons and obviously, under our bill, the person that is ascribed any cannabis-based medicines, they are the only user of it.”

Irish mother’s relief over treatment for daughter’s seizures [BBC]

“The possibility of losing your child is with you every day and you can’t take your eyes off them,” says Vera Twomey, from County Cork, whose daughter Ava suffers from a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. Her daughter’s seizures have reduced significantly since October when she began taking a legal form of cannabis oil known as CBD or Charlotte’s Web.

The village where cannabis is the only livelihood [Independent]

Nestled high in the higher reaches of the lush Kullu Valley, Malana used to be a four-day hike from the nearest road. Its laws, tradition says, were laid down by the village god Jamlu. People elected their own parliament and disputes were settled in their own court. Villagers would run in terror if an outsider showed up. But Malana is hidden no more. For centuries, the villagers have been growing the plant that has made Malana one of the world’s top stoner destinations, and a battleground —at least symbolically — for India’s haphazard fight against “charas,” the black and sticky hashish that has made the village famous.

Top 10 Cannabis Studies of 2016 [The Joint Blog]

It’s been a big year for cannabis science. A plethora of studies have been released demonstrating its wide medical properties. Although it was a challenge, we’ve narrowed these down to the top 10, with two honorable mentions. These include what we believe to be the most important in their implications.

Germany: New Psychoactive Substances Act (NpSG) [Reddit]

German New Psychoactive Substances Act (NpSG) will come into effect in November. This legislation covers a wide range of Cannabinoids and Phenethylamines. Therefore, many German vendors will move to foreign countries or quit their services.

MDMA approved for final trials to treat PTSD before possible legalization [The Guardian]

FDA could make MDMA legal by 2021 if phase three tests involving controlled dosage and talk therapy are shown to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder.

Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice) [Parliament of Australia]

The Australian Government is holding an inquiry into methamphetamine and Unharm has been invited to make a submission. Have you got a story that could help people in Parliament understand this issue better? If you’ve got a story that could be included in the submission, please email it to will@unharm.org by 9am Monday December 12. Your submission could be anonymous or as public as you want. Want to know more about the inquiry, or make your own independent submission. Check out the website here. What will really help them understand are clear, honest accounts of personal experiences.

Privilege and Safety in the Psychedelic Community [psymposia]

As the Policy and Advocacy Manager of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), I spend my time speaking with inspiring people who are passionate about psychedelics’ role in healing humanity. I find myself surrounded by our beautiful and brave psychedelic community in spaces ranging from academic conferences, to the United Nations, to Burning Man. Collectively, we are comprised of people who feel safe enough to speak publicly, and build our career around, illicit and deeply stigmatized substances. So, it is no surprise that the overwhelming majority of this community is white. Even researchers working with plant medicines of indigenous peoples tend to be white. Occasionally an indigenous representative will attend a lecture or a conference, but I am hard pressed to think of a psychedelic organization led by a person of color.

Global Drug Survey set to peel back curtain on professionals microdosing on LSD and magic mushrooms [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Evan’s morning routine is pretty run of the mill, except for the tiny dose of magic mushrooms he washes down with his morning coffee. It’s about one-tenth of the size of the dose recreational users would take to get high. That not what Evan’s after. He microdoses to give his day an extra kick and clarity. “It had such a minuscule impact on my actual functioning, but a strong impact on my sense of the world. Outwardly it’s a really subtle shift. The effect of a coffee or a valium would be a lot stronger. “There is no way anybody at work would know.”