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The Hempire News - January 04

Reclassification News
Good news for anyone who's unexpectedly answered the door to the police. No need to hide those half-smoked spliffs anymore. Anyone pat their pockets nervously when you see the row of sniffer dogs at the exits to tube stations? Now all you need worry about is whether you've got your ticket.

More change will come in time, and with effort. First we need to prove reclassification wont make the sky fall in, nor will it stop the world from turning - much as that will disappoint certain newspapers. Some of the stories and commentary preceding this most miniscule of changes have been quite astounding.

Cannabis has apparently led to a murder. Well that's what you would've believed had you stopped reading at the headline. Anyone managing to make it down to the bottom of the story would've discovered the murderer was drunk as a skunk, but also had cannabis growing in his attic.

The first death directly attributed to cannabis in over 10,000 years of use has also been reported. In Haverfordwest. Probably. You see, they couldn't actually work out whether cannabis killed him. But he smoked a lot of dope and had cannabinoids in his system. So it's obvious init?

Well, actually it's not. According to the Merck Index – the bible for this sort of thing - an average smoker would have to consume 10 kilos of cannabis, very rapidly, before ingesting a fatal dose. For anyone under 16 reading – this is not a challenge.

These stories came on top of the endless rehashing of previously discredited studies which claim cannabis causes schizophrenia/psychosis. And the half-baked, partially-true and completely senseless rantings of people like Mad Melanie Phillips. I didn't think anyone could make January more depressing.

Thank God the British public aren't falling for it. The Telegraph reported that 51% of people in Britain want cannabis either legalised or decriminalised, and this despite months of negative publicity. Most people are beginning to warm to change. It's our responsibility – all of ours – to make sure we talk about the benefits of legalisation, and the cost of prohibition, as often as possible if we're to keep this going.

At least one thing remains constant; the Conservative party seems just as desperate for votes and just as out of touch as ever. Thank you Michael Howard, I needed another reason not to choose you.
- psychiatrists' warnings
- doctor's warnings
- Michael Howard
- murder
- death
- lethal dosage
- Melanie Phillips
- 51% want more change
- brazen blazing

Legal/Cafe News
Chris Baldwin, proprietor of two cafés in Worthing, was sentenced to six months in prison this month. The judge was incredibly fulsome in his praise for Chris and was very reluctant to jail him, only doing so because a suspended sentence prevented any other course of action.

Meanwhile in Rhyl, Jeff Ditchfield, of The Beggars Belief, has been cleared of supplying cannabis to sick people. Jeff argued his actions were illegal but necessary, and thus not criminal. The jury agreed with him unanimously.

Finally, Shane Collins, organiser of the annual Cannabis March and Festival, has been cleared of breaching his licence. Apparently Southwark council found it prudent to prosecute Shane for playing music seconds longer than the licence allowed. The judge thought it idiotic and threw the case out.
- Chris Baldwin
- Jeff Ditchfield
- Shane Collins

International News
A lot of bad news does come out of America. But every now and then there's a story to make you believe. Many states have laws allowing medicinal use of cannabis. But the federal government thinks it's war on drugs takes precedent. So medical marijuana users (Ed Rosenthal most notably) have been busted despite them breaking no local law.

Now one judge has refused to be bowed and has ordered the DEA to return not only the confiscated pipes and growing equipment, but also the dope itself. The DEA is looking down at the floor, shuffling it's feet nervously and saying it can't find it and why should it have to anyway. Judge James Garrecht is unmoved and has threatened to cite nine federal agents with contempt of court if they don't comply.
- hand it back
- or else

Christiania has long been proof a hippy community can work. Provided, that is, it isn't faced with the might of a property redevelopment agency and their friends in the conservative government.

Christiania sits on prime land, right in the middle of Copenhagen and slap by a lake. It's also had a long history of tolerating cannabis use at the absolute exclusion of anything harder - save alcohol.

Christiania has become such a landmark in Copenhagen, umbrella holding tour guides regularly show middle-aged Danish people around. So the Government couldn't just close the place, it needed a stick with which to beat them. And just like Nixon, and every right-wing Government since, they've found one in cannabis.

In response dealers have torn down the market stands where cannabis was freely displayed. Whether this will be enough for Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen is highly doubtful. But the highly-motivated and deeply committed people who live there, plus their friends all across Europe, will have more to say on the matter first.
- full story here

Them right wing governments are everywhere. In Spain, where cannabis possession carries fewer penalties than it does in the UK, the Prime Minister wants to close down growshops, seed sellers and pro-pot magazines. The very fabric of society is at risk don’t you know.
- full story here

Medical News
No new diseases seem to be benefited by pot – but then I think we've got most of them now anyway haven't we? The date for medical cannabis on prescription can't come soon enough for many people I know and I'm sure the delays are incredibly frustrating. However, GW Pharmaceuticals seem very close to getting regulatory approval and now expect it in the second quarter of this year.

Best news is Montel Williams has just come out as a new high-profile advocate of medical cannabis (he's big on daytime tv). Celebrities make news and news about medical cannabis changes minds.
- GW
- Williams' Arrest
- talks about his MS