Embassy HEADLINES Issue 254
Embassy HEADLINES Issue 254

Embassy HEADLINES Issue 254

An entire state’s doctors have shunned medical cannabis [Australian Doctor]

None of WA’s 10,679 doctors have applied to prescribe medical cannabis since it was legalised in November. According to the AMA WA, the lack of interest is because doctors do not believe there is evidence to prescribe medical cannabis for anything other than in paediatric epilepsy and MS. President Dr Andrew Miller tells Australian Doctor: “We don’t just prescribe something that is trendy or popular with the public.” The situation has drawn the anger of WA Premier Mark McGowan, who has convened an urgent roundtable with doctors next month to find out why they do not see value in prescribing it for terminal illness, chronic pain or chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Medicinal cannabis products ‘sitting in warehouses’, Senate committee told amid concerns about access [ABC]

Fewer than 150 people in Australia have ever been given approved access to medicinal cannabis products and there are only 25 authorised prescribers of the drugs, according to evidence at a Senate estimates committee. Officials from the Health Department told the hearing that figure had only increased by two since February, and most of those doctors were in New South Wales.

Gone in 60 seconds: Govt backs vaping law then announces inquiry one minute later [News]

Within the space of 60 seconds last week, the Federal Government both declared it was standing by its ban on electronic cigarettes and announced there would be a parliamentary inquiry into reviewing that ban — led by one of its own MPs. The bizarre and contradictory double-act follows the Prime Minister himself being personally begged in writing by over 100 international experts to reverse Australia’s prohibition on nicotine e-cigarettes, which they say are life-saving devices.

Police to soon analyse drug, alcohol test by roadside [Northern Star]

Equipped with state-of -the-art equipment, the new sprinter vans mean drug and alcohol test analysis can be done on the spot rather than back at the police station.

Police Accused Of Targeting The Young And Poor With Drug Driving Tests [BuzzFeed]

Shoebridge says drug driving tests – which focus on ice, ecstasy and cannabis – are unfairly targeting young people and the poor. The figures from the NSW government show dozens of car crashes in the state each year involve drivers with benzodiazepines in their system. Benzodiazepines are “minor tranquillisers” and are more commonly known by brand names such as Valium, Ativan, Mogadon and Xanax. They are prescribed for people with a range of conditions including insomnia and anxiety. Random mobile drug tests on drivers in NSW don’t test for benzodiazepines, instead targeting ice, ecstasy and cannabis. According to new data, in 2014, 208 car crashes were caused by people who later tested positive to benzodiazepines, more than by ice (204) and cannabis (117).

“It’s About Politics And Social Engineering”: How Police Drug Tests Target The Poor [Junkee]

As the federal government prepares to introduce a controversial drug-testing program targeting welfare recipients, new data has revealed gaping holes in existing police mobile drug-testing regimes. An analysis of drug-related road crashes in NSW over the past three years has found that the drug most commonly involved in both fatal and non-fatal accidents isn’t even tested for by police.

Northern New South Wales leads statewide rise in drug-driving charges [ABC]

Research has found the number of people charged for driving under the influence of drugs in New South Wales has tripled in the two years to June 2016. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) report released today showed in the 2014-15 financial year, 2,331 drug-driving charges were finalised in the NSW Local Court. In the 2015-16 financial year, there were 9,808 charges. BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said the figures were largely a result of an increase in drug-testing.

Welfare drug test: Which countries do it and has it worked anywhere? [triple j hack]

When Australia launches its welfare drug testing trial in January, it will be joining an international club of just two other members – New Zealand (kind of) and the United States (some Republican states). The point is, few countries have gone down this path.

Australia’s First Major Domestic Crop is Coming [Marijuana]

The first company in Australia to receive a cannabis cultivation license has been given the official go-ahead to start growing the country’s first major domestic crop of medicine. Cann Group Australia was granted a permit by the Office of Drug Control in February to grow medical marijuana at an undisclosed location in Melbourne. The company has been on a high for a few months since being issued the official papers, as well as listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) earlier this month. The ASX listing came after Cann Group successfully raised $13.5 million in capital. Much of that investment came from Canadian marijuana giant Aurora Cannabis who acquired a 19.9 percent stake in the burgeoning Australian cultivator. The first Australian buds are expected to be ready this August to the benefit of Aussie patients. The permits allow this pioneering producer to breed plants for propagation, supply them for manufacturing into medical products, and conduct research to develop extracts. Patients will be able to access the medicine by either getting involved in clinical trials or by obtaining it through prescription using Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

‘Dr Pot’ granted bail for cannabis charges [Echo Netdaily]

Dr Andrew Katelaris, aka Dr Pot, was yesterday bailed to appear again in Hornsby Local Court on 28 June after being charged with a number of cannabis related offences. Dr Katelaris entered no plea yesterday to charges of possession of drugs and also having cash suspected of being from the proceeds of crime. He had spent the night in custody after police raided his St Ives home, just days after the deregistered doctor appeared on a Channel 7 program in which he was filmed administering cannabis oil to a four-year-old boy, who has been taken from his parents.

Under Siege: The Backlash Against Patients & Advocates [Australian Medical Cannabis Signpost]

The well-known health practitioner, maverick cannabis champion and disqualified medic Andrew Katelaris – dubbed ‘Dr Pot‘ by the media – was arrested yesterday afternoon (30th May) following an explosive TV programme last Sunday in which he was shown illegally manufacturing and administering products made from the plant. The arrest, reported in today’s Telegraph, makes him the latest casualty in, essentially, an all out war between the Authorities along with some in the medical profession and patients and advocacy groups fighting to obtain what for many is a life-saving drug. It’s a policy issue on which Ministers refuse to bend: despite giving the impression cannabis is now legal for medical purposes in Australia, it is in fact now more difficult to secure than before laws were adjusted at the beginning of 2016.

Should Australia legalise Marijuana? [Australia Decides]

There are plenty of arguments for and against. We want to know what you think. Vote and tell us in the comments below what you think.

Schapelle Corby: The drugs, the circus and a long-awaited return [BBC]

Tim Lindsey, a professor in Asian law and director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Law School, says Corby’s crime is among the most serious in Indonesian law. He says in the 1970s the West, led by then US President Richard Nixon and his war on drugs, demanded South East Asian nations with more relaxed drug laws adopt a similar hard-line approach. Australia, Canada and many EU nations have now backed away from that hard line, but Prof Lindsey says many countries maintain a punitive approach.

Peter Dunne says ‘Class C’ drugs like cannabis should be made legal and regulated [Stuff]

Imagine a New Zealand where you could have any drug, without fear of running into trouble with the law. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, although it’s hard to believe that Peter Dunne – the mild-mannered, bowtie-wearing associate health minister – could be the one pushing for it.

Cannabis harm prevention message a must, says study [MedicalXpress]

Government, police and health agencies need clear guidelines for public campaigns on preventing harm from cannabis use, according to new research from Massey University.

Everyone agrees ‘driving while high’ is bad. But what does that even mean? [The Washington Post]

While several states have legalized using marijuana, nobody is in favor of driving under its influence. But as states crack down on high driving, they’re struggling to figure out what counts as driving high, and how they can reliably test for it. Currently, if police determine they have reason to suspect a driver of being under the influence — perhaps due to erratic driving or other behavior — they can administer a field sobriety test. But unlike alcohol, there’s no on-scene breathalyzer for marijuana, and so in order to confirm marijuana use, officers must take drivers to police stations to administer a blood test. But even if after all that, officers are able to get that test and prove a driver had marijuana in his or her system, there’s a debate over what level really means the driver was actually under the drug’s influence.

Growing pot industry offers breaks to entice minorities [MedicalXpress]

Now Oakland and other cities and states with legal pot are trying to make up for the toll marijuana enforcement took on minorities by giving them a better shot at joining the growing marijuana industry.

Ross Ulbricht Loses His Appeal Over Conviction and Sentencing in Silk Road Case [Reason]

In bad news this morning, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the conviction and sentencing of Ross Ulbricht for life without parole based on crimes associated with launching and operating the Silk Road website, a site where people could buy and sell items anonymously, including illegal drugs. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Lynch says very fact that Ulbricht’s defense dared question the drug war helped justify wildly harsh life sentence without parole.

Could cannabis help crack cocaine addicts kick the habit? [New Scientist]

Michael-John Milloy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver assessed the findings from three long-term studies of drug users in the city. Across the studies, 3000 people with a history of drug use completed questionnaires detailing their habits, including whether they had started taking cannabis with the intention of reducing their crack cravings. Milloy and his colleagues identified 122 crack users who started taking cannabis for this purpose. Over an average of 30 months, these individuals were 89 per cent more likely to have reduced their crack use when they were using cannabis, compared with when they were not using it.

Legalizing marijuana will harm health of youth in Canada, study shows [Science Daily]

The federal government’s bill C-45 to legalize marijuana in Canada will jeopardize the health of young people and Parliament should vote against it, argues the interim Editor-in-Chief of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) in an editorial.

UK General Election 2017: Drug Policies of the Main Parties [Talking Drugs]

As the UK’s General Election looms, we take a look at manifesto pledges and public statements relating to drug policy that have been put forward by the main political parties in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Good News for People Who Smoke Their Weed with Tobacco [Vice]

And a little bit of bad news too, because you can’t have it all. Smoking weed with tobacco doesn’t improve the high, according to new research conducted by UCL and running counter to the long-held stoner myth that a drop of baccy will somehow magnify the effects of the cannabis. However, it’s not all bad news: the study found that the combination may actually reduce the damaging effects cannabis can have on memory.

The Real ‘Gateway’ [volteface]

There is absolutely no proof that consuming cannabis in any way forces a person onto a slippery slope of addiction. In fact, there is even some evidence to suggest that cannabis use can help curb opioid dependence. Nevertheless, it is an argument that is trotted out with disturbing regularity, most recently by our very own Prime Minister, Theresa May.

A Significant Day For Cannabis Law Reform In The UK [clear]

This Thursday past, 25th May 2017, was the inaugural general meeting of the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTAUK). While this may not excite your average cannabis consumer too much, it represents a very important, even momentous occasion in our progress towards a regulated cannabis market.  Anyone spotting our meeting room would have seen it as just another group of business people in a day long meeting with Powerpoint presentations, flipcharts and gallons of coffee and mineral water.  GSK were just down the corridor, an insurance company was next door, it all looked very corporate and pretty boring. Ths is exactly the point.  We are bringing cannabis into the mainstream, overcoming the stigma, making it respectable.  The idea that the Holiday Inn at Gatwick would have signs pointing to a ‘cannabis’ meeting would have been unthinkable until very recently.

How the World Gets Stoned: Cannabis Findings from the Global Drugs Survey [Talking Drugs]

The newly-published results of an international survey has given a glimpse into how people around the world consume cannabis.

Countries Using Child Rights to Justify Executions for Drug Offences [Talking Drugs]

International child rights are being used by some countries to justify the execution of people for drug offences, despite this practice being illegal under international law.

France announces law to eliminate prison terms for marijuana usage [Jurist]

The government of France, under its newly elected president Emmanuel Macron, announced its intention on Friday to introduce [Inquirer.Net report] a law ending prison terms for marijuana usage by the end of the year, although marijuana consumption will remain a criminal offense. Macron had promised during his campaign to reform cannabis laws upon becoming president. Under current law [PDF, in French], offenders face up to a year in jail and fines of up to €3,750 (US $4,200). In 2016 alone, 180,000 French citizens were found to be in violation of drug laws. According to government spokesperson Christophe Castaner, drug violation cases consume an average six hours of police time and another six hours of judicial resources. Police unions welcomed the simplified judicial process and Patrice Ribeiro of the police officers union stated that it was “a good idea that takes reality into account.” French magistrates were less enthusiastic about the reformed measures with Virginie Duval, representative of the magistrates union, stating “[the law] won’t change much and it’s not going to unclog the courts.”

Uruguay, the first country where you can smoke marijuana wherever you like [The Guardian]

But not everyone is pleased with how legal marijuana is being implemented in Uruguay. “I’m happy because now you can plant without going to prison,” says Juan Manuel Varela, the 28-year-old manager of MDAR (Spanish-language acronym for high-quality marijuana), one of the cannabis clubs that have been set up under the new legislation. “But like many things in Uruguay, the new law is a good idea that is being applied badly.” Cannabis activists such as Varela and Castilla are upset that the new law falls short of full legalisation. Home growers are required to register with the government for a permit that grants them a maximum of six plants, and cannabis clubs such as Varela’s require permits for a maximum of 45 members who are allowed to withdraw only 40g per month from the club’s crop. Most controversial of all, when the law goes into full effect in July, legal marijuana will only be available at pharmacies. Though the price will be highly accessible, only $1.30 per gram compared with $3 on the street, consumers must register with the government first. They will then be required to identify themselves with a digital thumb scan to withdraw their weekly maximum of 10g.

A tool to protect police dogs in drug raids from overdosing [Associated Press]

Police dogs simply follow their noses to sniff out narcotics. But inhaling powerful opioids can be deadly, so officers have a new tool to protect their four-legged partners: naloxone, a drug that has already been used for years to reverse overdoses in humans.

Ohio Sues 5 Major Drug Companies For ‘Fueling Opioid Epidemic’ [NPR]

The state of Ohio has sued five major drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid epidemic. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, state Attorney General Mike DeWine alleges these five companies “helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio.”

Tobacco production ‘breaches human rights laws’ [onmedica]

After completing a collaboration with multi-national tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) to develop a “human rights implementation plan” for the company, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) concluded that immediately stopping the sale and marketing of tobacco is the only way for tobacco companies to uphold basic human rights.

E-cigarettes in the workplace: an employer’s guide to vaping [Personnel Today]

In July 2007, England introduced its smoking ban, following the rest of the UK in banning the use of cigarettes in indoor workplaces. Ten years on and employers are sometimes unsure how to approach electronic cigarettes, which are not covered by the ban. In this good practice guide to e-cigarettes in the workplace, Sarah Silcox looks at the evidence on vaping, policy and practice, and the legal considerations.

The 1st Australian Medicinal Cannabis Course [Australian Medical Cannabis Observatory]

A 1 Day Course on 22 June to be offered as a Workshop on behalf of The UIC Medicinal Cannabis Symposium 2017 – Australia’s first medicinal cannabis course, designed for health care practitioners, by health care practitioners.

2017 UIC Medicinal Cannabis Symposium [United in Compassion]

23, 24, 25 JUNE 2017 • MELBOURNE, VICTORIA: The program will cover how clinicians can develop a Cannabis treatment plan, clinical applications and other considerations, application in Palliative care and rehabilitation, The ECS, Debunking myths, PTSD, Cancer, Epilepsy and also will tackle the complex social and ethical issues relating to poor patient access. We will also provide opportunity around the establishment of an Australian Chapter of Cannabis Clinicians and an Australian Cannabis Industry Association. Tickets on sale now through www.uic.org.au

Entheogenesis Australis 2017 Outdoor Psychedelic Symposium 8th – 10th of December [EGA]

EGA’s 2017 Psychedelic Symposium will be a botanical, academic and lifestyle conference – with a pinch of psychedelic energy.  The program will span three days and three nights, featuring more than 50 lectures from diverse fields covering the botanical, academic, and philosophical, to arts and drug law reform. Accompanying the main program will be workshops, panel discussions, a marketplace, and much more!!

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