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The Hempire News - April 05

UK News
So who to vote for. Well not the Tories obviously, they're still banging on about drugs being 'wrong'. The arrogance necessary to conclude you know what's right for somebody else is one thing. But it's another matter entirely to say disagree with us and we'll lock you up.

Labour aren't much better. We do owe them a debt of gratitude for at least trying to make a move in the right direction but they haven't promised to go any further. And besides, who'd believe them if they did?

Now the Lib Dems are a whole other kettle of political fish. They want to decriminalise cannabis and support the creation of cannabis cafes. Okay, they don't make a big deal out of this and they're not likely to gain power. But a vote for them has surely got to be better than a vote for the other two.

The Greens also support changing the law, in fact they want to go further than the Lib Dems and are also more public about their policy. However, the Greens wont win many seats and there are clear tactical advantages to voting Lib Dem in order to prevent the Tories from winning.

The problem with both the Greens and the Lib Dems is that it wont be obvious when a vote for them is a vote for their cannabis policy. And since the thing we need to do above all else is convince politicians that we've got a vote and we're willing to use it the best vote of all, wherever possible, is a vote for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

Make no mistake, the Tories are the dangerous party and our first objective must be to make sure they win as few seats as possible. But when Labour or the Lib Dems are bound to win, and where there's an LCA candidate standing, then a vote for the LCA is a vote to change this law.

There is a chance the European Court of Human Rights will strike down prohibition. It is possible UK drug laws will fall foul of European laws. However, in all other cases the war on cannabis will only end when politicians declare it over. And this wont happen until they see they'll win more votes than they'll lose.
- Tory drug policy
- is your seat marginal?

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the trees are bare no more. It's May and it's time for the Cannabis March and Festival. Or it would be if it weren't for Lambeth Council. So it's Plan B then. Which, as it turns out, is a pretty fine plan after all.

We meet in Russell Square at 12 noon on Sunday May 15th. Our wonderful route takes us past the British Museum (where prohibition will soon be housed), down Shaftsbury Avenue, past Leicester Square and on to Trafalgar Square.

Where you'll find speakers and comedians and info stalls and many like minded souls. I'm speaking, and as attractive as I know that is the greater pull are people like Grandma Pat, Peter Tatchell, George Melly and a whole host of smart, informed and dedicated individuals all there for your entertainment and education.

Do come, it's going to be great.
- full story here

Remember the drugs bill, the one the Government announced simply because it wanted to appear hard? Well it's law. It was criticised by the Joint Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, MPs of all persuasions, Transform, Drugscope, Release, Turning Point, Liberty, The Law Society and JUSTICE. But somehow and for some reason it was rushed through in the 'wash-up' and it's law.

And it's bad news. Police now have the power to test for Class A substances on arrest. Drug dealing near schools receives greater sentences. Get caught with a certain amount of drugs and you're presumed to be a dealer and all those Magic Mushroom shops on Oxford Street will close.

Well not all of them. Your basic British mushroom is now illegal, but mescaline, fly agaric, Peyote and Salvia, all just as dangerous, are all still legal. So in fact no mushroom shops will close, they'll simply sell other things. And in another year or two we'll have another stupid law and just as many people getting into trouble.

As Transform wonderfully point out: prohibition is the problem, not the solution.
- the bill
- Transform's criticism
- magic mushrooms

If anyone tells you prohibition can keep drugs out of society tell them it can't even keep drugs out of prison. Our most secure environment, the place where possession guarantees punishment, cannot prevent people using drugs. In fact prohibition is so counterproductive the Scottish prison service is about to stop drug testing its inmates.

Prison chiefs have realised that drug testing actually encourages the use of hard drugs because you're more likely to get away with using heroin than you are cannabis. Even the man who set up the system thinks the test are a disaster. He concluded: "people who go in without a drug problem very often come out with one".

Which doesn't exactly fulfil the aim of rehabilitation, nor does it result in less crime. More heroin and crack addicts mean more burglaries, more muggings, more car break-ins. And if drug testing doesn't work on prisoners why on earth do we think it will work on children?
- full story here

Prohibition has got two jobs: reduce the demand for, and the availability of, drugs. Neither of which it's particularly brilliant at when it comes to prisons. But maybe prisons are a bad example; after all wouldn't you want to take drugs if you were locked up for twenty-three hours a day?

So let's take the polar opposite of a prison, let's take one of the remotest bits of the already pretty remote Scottish Highlands. The people there must be more immune that most others to the lure of the drug culture. And if they did want to get high, surely they wouldn't be able to get hold of anything?

Nope, prohibition fails here too. In fact, the kids of Kingussie, a community of 1,700 in a place The Times described as "one of Europe's great wildernesses" are about to have sniffer dogs enter their high school.

Drugs are everywhere. They're in prisons and cities and wide open spaces. This wasn't the case thirty years ago when prohibition really started. For tens of thousands of years drugs were an activity certain people did at certain times. Now everyone's doing them all the time.

Demand has shot through the roof, supply has reached every corner of the country, prices are down and purity is up. Has there even been a social experiment which has failed so miserably, so completely and so disastrously as prohibition?
- full story here

Medical News
Grandma Pat is free. Despite admitting possession with intent to supply our 66 year-old heroine was given a six month suspended sentence in court last month. Not that the judge sympathised with her mission to help relieve the pain of serious ill people, he just didn't want to make her a martyr. It should be noted the maximum sentence she could have received was 14 years, two years more than the paedophile in court before her.

Next step now is Parliament, and on Thursday Pat stands against the Welsh Secretary of State Peter Hain in his Neath constituency. Hain is unfortunately one of those people who confuses cannabis with all drugs and believes people wont vote for Pat because they are sick of drug-fuelled crime and crack houses. Prove him wrong.

In addition to the six month suspended sentence Pat was fined GBP724, a fair amount of money for a pensioner to come up with. Fortunately she didn't have to. A cannabis web site, I wish I knew which one, held a collection and within two weeks enough had been raised to pay the fine in its entirety.
- the sentence
- the election
- the community

GW Pharmaceuticals can't seem to get its multiple sclerosis medicine licensed for the UK, but they've having better luck in Canada. Authorities there have just become the first country in the world to approve Sativex, a decision which should open many other doors. The company is even talking to US regulators about getting a licence there. Should they succeed we'll really know things have changed.
- full story here

Studies on mice have found that THC prevents arteries from becoming inflamed, and thus might protect humans from heart attacks and strokes. However, smoking anything helps block arteries so the overall value of a spliff as a heart-attack preventative is probably negative. Munchie food isn't known for its nutritional value either.
- full story here

Another month, another psychosis scare story. This month The Times terrified us with 'One in four at risk of cannabis psychosis'. The basis for this wild claim being a study which identifies a gene a quarter of the population carry and which makes people more likely to experience a psychotic episode if they use cannabis.

However, the risks aren't quite as severe as the headline states. For a start only fifteen per cent of people with the gene were susceptible - and only then if they use cannabis when young.

In addition, the authors of this study point out that most people face little risk, that neither the drug nor the gene raises the risk of psychosis by itself and that "People should not be alarmist about the findings or interpret them as supporting extreme views either that cannabis is extremely harmful or the reverse"

I wonder if they were referring to the alarmist, extreme, view that a quarter of all dope smokers are at risk of going mad?
- The Times
- Turning Point
- a more sober assesment

Miscellaneous News
Some cheeky monkeys went on the rampage in India after stealing a cannabis brew the locals had made to honour Shiva. The monkeys liked the concoction so much three people were injured and weapons were used in the battle to keep them off it.
- full story here

We often hear about the damage cannabis causes intelligence, but it seems email is even worse. Studies report that cannabis users suffer a four point drop in IQ levels after a joint. However, the IQ of people who constantly interrupt work to check and answer emails drops by more than twice that much.

And if they're replying to an email promising them a share of a $10m dollar fortune left unclaimed in a Nigerian bank it probably wasn't that high to begin with.
- full story here

The Cannabis Festival might not be happening this year but the Hemp Olympics is. Nimbin in Australia is the venue and events include the bong, yell and throw competition (I've no idea what that is either), a joint rolling event and a world record attempt for the most joints smoked in one place at one time.

They'll have to go some way to beat Glastonbury.
- full story here