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The Hempire News - August 03

Cafe News
Normally I like to use this section to emphasise progress made. Can't do that this month. Unfortunately non-cafe life, in the form of a deeply red bank balance, had to take precedence. But I'm sure you'll be glad to know the web business is looking healthier. Oh and if you know anyone who needs work doing on their site...

Truth is, the break's a good thing. The need to earn money created an unhealthy urgency to finding premises. But the premises and it's location are key. So it's worth spending the time getting somewhere right.

I'm sure this sounds like standard stoner procrastination. I assure you it's not.

Meanwhile Canada has more than a few places where you can smoke openly. Sure it's a long way to go but if you're in the neighbourhood.
- Hot Box
- Hippy cafe

Legalisation News
Unfortunately the Worthing cafe has now closed. New policy meant a large and constant police presence sat outside the front door interviewing customers as they left. I'm not going to say a word about suitable allocation of resources but the owners felt they couldn't deprive Worthing a proper police force any longer.
- full story here

Meanwhile New Zealand moves ever closer to decriminalisation. A major study found moderate cannabis use carries low risk of harm and recommended cannabis be reclassified. Surprise surprise. Find me a major study that's concluded anything less . Of course our prohibitionist friends refute calls for change claiming we need more research first. Which presumably means research confirming their point of view. They'll be a long time waiting.
- full story here

Unfortunately some countries are less enlightened. Witness the tale of a poor Malaysian fisherman sentenced to death for half a kilo of cannabis.
- full story here

More proof of what we've long expected; stoners in power. This month both a senior home office minister and the Director of Public Prosecutions (he gets to decide if you go to court or not) admitted to cannabis use. One day someone will say they enjoyed it.
- homey minister

Medical News
Plenty of medical news this month. They're serious about having that cannabis spray on the NHS later this year. A soon to start multi-hospital study will investigate other painkilling properties. Contrary to previous thoughts cannabis has been found not to increase HIV infection. There's potential good news for suffers of Alzheimer's. They're working on a cannabis patch (unfortunately not for long-haul flights) and cannabis has been found to ease nerve pain in rats. Oh and apparently it makes you hungry too.

Remind me why is it still illegal?
- spray
- new NHS trial
- Alzheimer's
- patch
- nerve pain
- munchies
- the venerable Dr Grinspoon

Get Involved
There is, in fact, a single reason why cannabis remains illegal. Not enough of us have asked for change. But this month I'm not going to badger you for help. I'm going to try and explain why you should want to.

Firstly there's the benefit you get. For example; safe places to buy cannabis; a range of cannabis to buy; places to smoke openly and meet like-minded people; the lifting of that almost imperceptible fear every time you see a policeman; the feeling of liberation you otherwise have to travel to Amsterdam for.

Then there's the benefits to others. Billions more in the economy for schools and hospitals; more control over the access vulnerable people have to cannabis and other drugs; a more inclusive and tolerant society; more police resources to catch dangerous criminals; more room in prisons when they do so; better police and community relations; an end to a pointless, divisive and deeply damaging war.

As the author below notes, there aren't many minorities still persecuted for private, consensual, behaviour - but we're one of them. And the largest one to boot. It's perverse but were we persecuted more change would probably have happened sooner. The fact most of us are left alone most of the time, the fact we've learnt to live with the inconvenience of prohibition, actually works against us.

Politicians play a numbers game. At the moment they fear change would lose them more votes than they'd gain. Staying silent confirms that.
- Gordon Brown take note
- teen drug use
- last minority
- things you can do

News Stories of the Month
Read about the man who declared his cannabis-related earnings to the tax man.
- full story here

Not all insurance companies are bad. This one paid out after a Hawaiian woman had her cannabis plants stolen.
- full story here