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The Hempire News - February 04

Reclassification News
Bonkers. It's a strange word, but it's strangely evocative too. You can just imagine the sort of person who says it and the sort of thing he says it about. You could take a pretty good guess at where he lives and what his life is like. And I don't think you'd be far wrong if you decided it more accurately described the speaker than the subject.

Step forward the Hon Member for Eastbourne, Nigel Watson MP (Con). Who, with no regard to reason, common-sense, experience, expertise, logic, firm analysis or sound judgment, has labelled reclassification an effective disaster. Trotting out the usual deluded nonsense he describes the change as 'bonkers' and 'barmy'. Is it too much to ask the people we elect to govern us be slightly better informed?

Not that Labour is much of an improvement. Their latest wheeze is to introduce random drug testing in schools. Actually, they thought it was a good idea on Monday, then it received universal criticism on Tuesday, so they changed their minds on Wednesday.

There are a great number of reasons why drug testing doesn't work - and that's without even addressing the issue of civil liberties. Drug tested prisoners prefer heroin and cocaine to cannabis because they flush out of the system more quickly. School kids would learn this too.

Mr Bush loves drug testing, but the largest study ever conducted into its effectiveness revealed there wasn't any. Researchers found "virtually identical rates of drug use in the schools that have drug testing and the schools that do not."

Drug testing is no good at stopping kids using drugs, but it's very good at alienating them. It makes them less likely to approach a teacher if they've got any kind of problem, not just one with drugs. It ensures they'll rely on their teenage peers for drug advice. It makes them fear, resent and ignore teachers, not respect, trust and listen to them.

And this is just for the kids who don't get caught. Young drug takers must be amongst the most vulnerable people in society. How do we help them by excluding them? If they're bored and feel hopeless are they going to take more or less drugs? Where are people with no career prospects going to get money from? How destructive with the present are people with no future? How are they going to feel about a society which abandons them? Not full of love I'd imagine.
- who's bonkers?
- experts condemn
- newspapers condemn - well most of them
- children circumvent
- u-turn central

Cafe News
Chris Baldwin, jailed in January for his role in the Worthing coffeeshops, is out on a tag. Happily Chris received hundreds of cards from well-wishers and was well looked after by other prisoners. Apart from that, it was hell.

Chris is disabled and finds cannabis the one medicine which works. The only dope he could get inside is soapbar, which is rubbish. The only drug he could get to combat the severe muscle spasms, cramp and sleepless nights was Valium. Under what twisted logic do we give people a more addictive, less effective, drug than the one they actually want?
- Chris is out
- cruel & unusual?

Meanwhile in Scotland the Purple Haze cafe continues to operate. Partly, perhaps, due to the confusion over when an individual is publicly smoking cannabis. If you smoke in your garden are you 'in public'? What if your privet hedge has just blown down? What if you're smoking in a front window overlooking the street? What if you're in a private club?

Essentially it will come down to where you live - and to the precedent court cases set. Live in a big city and you'll get away with more. Live in Aberystwyth and - well you started off unlucky anyway. Our best hope is for the Purple Haze to establish the ability to be in public and in private at the same time.
- full story here

International News
Our friends in the DEA have lost another legal battle. A federal court decided they were being a bit over-eager trying to ban hemp food and products because of the trace elements of THC they contain. Can you imagine how outraged they'd be about our Poppy Day?
- full story here

But it's okay because America is winning the war on drugs. Finally. Yes, I know they've said that before and been proved wrong every time. Yes, none of the fundamentals have changed, so they can't possibly be winning. Yes, it's true people who earn a lot of money from fighting this war aren't likely to admit they're losing it. But if John Walters says it's true it must be. Drug Czars don't lie.
- full story here

He wont be happy with what's going on in Nevada. Two years ago forty percent of voters there decided cannabis should be legalised, despite some pretty underhand tactics from our friend John. Now the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), by far the most influential campaigning organisation in the US, is petitioning for a second initiative to be put onto this year's ballot.

They've learnt their lessons from before and have reduced the permitted amount from three ounces to one. They've also addressed the main concerns and are arguing for greatly increased penalties for drug drivers. Mr Walters undoubtedly will have more to say on the matter. But this is the best chance America's got for legalisation.
- full story here

Miscellaneous News
Hear Northern Lights, think cabbages? The presenters of a Scottish gardening show did when they advised a caller how best to cultivate his plants. Nurturing advice was given, soil nutrients were recommended and temperature control was advocated. Then an apology was made. It seems it's a bit too soon for 'The Beechgrove Potting Shed' to live up to its name.
- it's our licence fee too
- Sorry Mad Mel
- Busted

Hear Orkney, stumped? Don't be. Both Big Brother's Cameron and our very own Biz Ivol hail from the Isles. And both were fighting to win the first ever Orkney Citizen of the year award. Unsurprisingly, Cameron won. Surprisingly Biz was placed in the top five. She did share the honour with a ferry operator, but nonetheless credit must go to the people of Orkney for recognising the importance of principled law-breaking.
- full story here

Here's a strange tale. Police catch and jail Roddy McLean, 'one of Scotland's most dangerous prisoners' and then transfer him to an open prison. From where he escapes. He's the head of one of the largest drug gangs in Britain and is hugely wealthy, but the police don't look for him. Despite his huge wealth and ability to get out of the country he takes a job as a cleaner in South London. Two months later he's found dead in a dingy flat.

The most intriguing aspect is the involvement of MI5. McLean was working for MI5 before his arrest and rumours abound they secured his prison transfer. More scurrilous rumours even suggest MI5 may have been involved in his death. As an informant he would have made plenty of enemies. However, this doesn't bear any of the hallmarks of a revenge killing.
- McLean found dead
- So what did happen?

Pity our poor insurance agents. They now believe it's harder to sell a pension than it is to sell cannabis. Strange that. I know which I find harder to buy.
- full story here