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The Hempire News - January 06

UK News
So Charles Clarke finally decided that re-reclassifying cannabis was a bad idea. He made us sweat though, two weeks before the final decision he said he was "struck by advocacy from proposers of reclassification that they were wrong". A statement which turned out to be as inaccurate as it was ineloquent.

One of the proposers he was probably referring to was Rosie Boycott, editor of The Independent on Sunday at the time of their legalise cannabis campaign. Last year Boycott wrote an article for the Daily Mail in which she appeared to change her mind. Only she didn't. She said cannabis was more dangerous than she first thought but that prohibition makes things worse and the only option is legalisation.

So if Clarke wasn't talking about Boycott perhaps he was referring to all the mental health professionals who worry about the link between cannabis and psychosis. If so, he must have ignored Rethink, the biggest mental health charity of the lot. Rethink were so concerned about another change in classification they actually started a campaign to keep cannabis class C.

Not that Rethink are the only body who feels this way. Clarke based his decision on a report produced by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, a report whose conclusion was supported by police and "most mental health charities".

The report itself said cannabis was "substantially less harmful" than other class B drugs and that: "The risk to an individual of developing a schizophreniform illness as a result of using cannabis is very small".

The Guardian put a figure on what 'very small' means: "About 1% of the population suffers from some form of schizophrenia. The council estimates that the prevalence of this mental condition would be reduced by 10% if the use of cannabis could be totally eliminated. In other words cannabis, used by 3.6 million people at some point in a year, is threatening a tenth of 1% of the population."

Since the decision the Royal College of Psychiatrists, various leader writers and a host of concerned citizens have expressed their outrage and disappointment and fear of the carnage to come. Which is as would be expected by prohibitionists in their death throes. The problem for them is that a panel of the greatest experts in the country has looked at all the evidence and concluded the risks of cannabis to mental health are small.

That is not to say cannabis is risk free, just that we've got to get the risks in proportion. Get them out of proportion and you become the boy who cried wolf - no longer credible even when a real threat appears. A fact which seems totally beyond the grasp of our opponents.
- full story here


This decision went against Clarke, so to regain control he promised to re-examine the entire drug classification system. Now it does depend on who does the examining but this might be a good thing. Because it surely doesn't take genius to realise the classifications we've got now have less to do with logic, reason or evidence than political expediency.

One thing far too politically sensitive, but absolutely essential for drug classification to have relevance, is the omission of alcohol and tobacco from the system. These are clearly class A drugs but not called such and the hypocrisy makes it impossible for drug users to take prohibitionists seriously.

Moreover, were they called what they are it would make it easier for alcohol and tobacco users to know what they're getting into. Who knows it might even act as a deterrent against use of the most dangerous drugs of all.
- full story here


Even though cannabis remains class C people are still going to jail for possession, three of them each week last year. This is not only a brutal way of treating people, nor is it simply a shameful waste of resources. Applying the law this arbitrarily is profoundly unjust and deeply counterproductive for it undermines the very rule of law itself.

To have any relevance the law must be fair and applied equally to all. Drug laws are neither. They are ignored by millions because they are seen to be unfair and because it is rare for transgression to have consequence.

Law breaking on such a massive scale must have a massive impact on the way other laws are perceived. If only because we end up concluding if one law is wrong other laws must be wrong too. Either that or we are very unlucky and get caught and end up even more resentful of society and authority. And even less likely to keep the law in future.
- full story here
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Medical News
Whilst the law is not an effective deterrent against recreational use it is a highly effective deterrent against medicinal use. The people who most benefit are generally older and less likely to break the law. They have less contact with the drug world so find it harder to score. Even if they can, prohibition inflates the price of their medicine to pension breaking-point.

GW Pharmaceuticals gained it's licence to experiment with cannabis medicines partly because: "The nightmare of the time was wheelchair-bound multiple sclerosis patients being wheeled down Whitehall in protest". It's eight years on and little has changed. Sativex is still not licensed for use in the UK. Even if it were it would not be proscribed for all the ailments it could benefit. And even then some people would prefer to use the plant itself.

I think it's time to wheel MS sufferers down Whitehall in protest.

We are in the very early stages of organising a medicinal march. First we need to find out how many people might come. If you know any, or know of any sympathetic organisations, please get in touch.
- full story here


The trial of Mark Gibson, Lezley Gibson and Marcus Davies starts at Carlisle Crown court tomorrow. All three are accused of supplying MS sufferers with cannabis chocolate and face jail if convicted. The medicine was supplied free of charge and only to those who asked. Lives were changed as a result of their actions. Their prosecution is absurd.

More publicity needs to be given to this case. If you know anyone who works in the media please pass the link below along. If you want to get more directly involved please visit their site.
- full story here
- THC4MS


A Dutch study claims cannabis users are six times more likely to use hard drugs compared to those who don't get high. As it was a Dutch study environmental factors, such as dealers selling cocaine alongside cannabis, have been discounted which means we can shortly expect proponents of the gateway theory to claim their ridiculous argument is proved correct.

What this study fails to take into account is the factor which causes people to take drugs in the first place. All of us use different mechanisms to change the way we feel. We might take walks, read books, climb mountains or watch films. Or we might take drugs.

The desire to use drugs to change mood existed prior to the use of cannabis. Sometimes cannabis satisfies this desire, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't people often try other, harder, drugs. Therefore, cannabis users are more likely to take harder drugs simply because they see drug taking as an acceptable method of mood control and seek the best tool for the job.
- full story here
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International News
The Swiss have frequently tried to get their parliament to approve change, but the ironically named 'People's Party' opposed all attempts claiming: "There is ample scientific proof gathered over the past 40 years to show that pot smoking is not conducive to your health". Clearly, the People's Party don't trust the people.

Thankfully they're a determined lot and have gathered enough signatures to force a nationwide ballot. If approved, cannabis will be even more legal in Switzerland than Holland and we'll have a whole other place to go for the weekend.
- full story here


Ireland is considering whether to continue arresting cannabis users for simple possession. So keen are they to copy the UK's example they've decided to fudge the issue and make the change confusing to all. So their Justice Minister says cannabis users will still face the wrath of the law but their police chief says: "gardai will decide which cases to prosecute".
- full story here


There's a lot of money in dealing drugs. So much so that enterprising importers built a huge tunnel between Mexico and the US to trundle the stuff beneath the two countries. The tunnel was 26m deep, 720m long and came replete with a concrete floor, electric lights, ventilation and a pulley system.

Comparisons with Colditz have understandably been made. Enterprising heroes undermine a fascist regime which is subverting civil liberties in a futile attempt to impose it's misguided vision on the world. The Nazis were pretty bad too.
- full story here
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Miscellaneous News
Melvin Jenkinson wanted to thank the friends who helped him through a tough year. With no money but an 'experimental' cannabis plant the solution was obvious: bag some up and hand it out. Unfortunately, the police saw his generosity as dealing and busted the poor bloke.
- full story here


A defendant in a Hungarian court sat throughout his trial carrying a dope plant in his lap. The fact he went unchallenged may have been more understandable were he not the vice president of their Hemp Seed Association and accused of a cannabis crime.
- full story here


A judge in Australia handed David Wotton an unusual punishment for growing a few plants - write 3,000 words on the link between cannabis and schizophrenia. Wotton has launched an appeal against the length of the sentence.
- full story here
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