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The Hempire News - July 04

Reclassification News
Reclassification is working, so says the Government. A third fewer people were arrested between February and June, which gives police an extra 180,000 hours a year to spend catching real criminals. Since some of these arrests would presumably end up in court there must be similar savings in judicial costs and time too.

The results were revealed by Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland, who was asked if the positive returns meant decriminalisation was being considered. Her response was intriguing: "I don't think I'd be able to say that the Government intends to move further on this matter until we see the results confirmed that we are heading in the right direction."

No great spike in usage. Reallocation of scarce resources. More freedom for decent, productive, members of society. Seems like a pretty good direction to me.
- results so far
- Baroness Scotland


The fact is they wont make changes without gauging public reaction first. Which, as a recent study reveals, is rapidly coming round to our way of thinking. The prestigious Economic & Social Research Council surveyed 2,600 Britons and found 86 per cent support legalisation for medicinal use, 41 per cent support legalisation for personal use and only a third of young people think the law should remain as it is.

Not that these views are limited to the young. Commenting on the changing attitudes to cannabis Nina Stratford, the report's author, said: "This is a society-wide phenomenon affecting all ages and social backgrounds."

Most people now see cannabis as less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, they don't think it's very dangerous or addictive nor do they believe it causes crime or violence.

Tell me again where the problem is?
- full story here
------------------------------



Cost of Prohibition News
News about the positive effect of reclassification is still thin on the ground. News about the negative effect of prohibition can be found anywhere you look. The people most negatively effected are children and July was full of stories about just how much harm they're coming to.

A quarter of all German teens have tried cannabis and fifteen per cent do so regularly. Children as young as ten have been found with cannabis in Australia. Children as young as twelve are in treatment for cannabis in Ireland. Meanwhile in Wales, fourteen year old boys were caught selling pocket-money draws to eleven year-olds in school.

The issue of cannabis and young people also worries the Swiss, though they come at it from an entirely different angle. Their recent decision not to decriminalise cannabis concerns health officials as they fear this blurs the distinction between different drugs and creates an environment where young people can more easily access the stronger ones.

Theirs is a policy of pragmatism, or it would be were their government not so swayed by the dark forces of the right. Conservatives love to claim their approach is the one which protects children the most. They couldn't be more wrong.
- Germany
- Australia
- Ireland
- UK
- Switzerland


We are beginning to realise prohibition wont prevent adults from using cannabis. But we persist in thinking it will somehow prevent children. What's more, the move away from punishing adults is coupled with a move towards detecting and punishing young people.

Drug testing in schools is becoming more common and, if an Irish firm has its way, so will drug testing at home. They've produced a cheap kit which parents can use to test the urine of their children and it's selling fast.

Home testing kits catch only the most casual of user, everyone else learns how to get around them in ten minutes with Google. What they do brilliantly is alienate children from their parents at a time when they need their guidance more than ever.
- full story here


Meanwhile the Government is really getting into the whole testing thing and now plans to compulsory test any arrested adolescent. Those found with traces of cocaine or heroin (and perhaps cannabis, though this is not clear) may be forced into treatment. Refusing to take a test can result in a three month sentence or a big fine.
- full story here


The Government is also considering whether to immunise children against the drug feel-good factor. Pharmaceutical companies are developing a range of (good) drugs which they say remove the high found from taking any kind of bad drug, such as nicotine, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines or heroin.

So far, there's no word on whether children will be immunised against the high of alcohol.
- full story here


So what if you're a puff daddy who'd prefer his children to be of the Charlotte Church? How do you deal with the hypocrisy of telling your offspring not to inhale when you take big lugs the moment they're in bed? It's a question more and more parents face and it's not completely answered by this article, though the author does have a good go.
- full story here
------------------------------



Medical News
Forget carrots. If you really want to see in the dark smoke cannabis. Scientists noticed how Moroccan fishermen seemed to navigate better when they were stoned. So they took a machine for measuring night vision out to the Rif valley to see whether this was really down to the dope.

They filled a sebsi pipe with cannabis and tobacco and urged the volunteers to take "numerous inhalations". Once properly toasted the tests were taken, the results of which recorded consistent improvements over the volunteers' straight state.

Reports from festival goers indicate a lack of assistance navigating tents at night, however.
- full story here


It may have gone quiet from GW Pharmaceuticals but more scientific evidence has emerged about the beneficial effects of cannabis on MS.

One of the problems has been that it's difficult to quantify the placebo effect when the impact of cannabis is so obvious. Researchers in Denmark got around this by using a cannabis extract, dronabinol, which doesn't get you high. Patients on the extract reported lower pain intensity, higher pain relief, a decrease in pressure-evoked pain and a better quality of life.

The researchers state the effects were modest, which perhaps is a function of using only part of the plant. It might be that the combination of compounds is essential. Maybe the high is necessary. Perhaps feeling good really works.
- full story here
------------------------------



International News
Personal possession of cannabis has been recriminalised in Germany. Ten years ago their federal constitutional court decided possession in small quantities for occasional personal consumption should not be considered a crime. However, they couldn't work out what constituted a small amount nor how often occasional use is. So they decided the best approach was to give up and return to the old policy.
- full story here


The only European country radically opposed to any kind of cannabis reform is Sweden. It must be quite lonely for them because they've decided to try and enlist the rest of the continent to their crackpot campaign. They've written a draft resolution which identifies cannabis as the EU's number one drug problem and urges member states to crack down on any web site which promotes the use of, or helps people grow, cannabis.
- full story here


The idea that cannabis is drug enemy Number 1 is shared by our American cousins. Good old George has decided to shift priority away from hard drugs and on to Mary Jane. He claims this is necessary because cannabis is now much more potent and because more teens are in treatment. Or in other words, he uses his own disinformation to justify a policy which diverts much needed resources away from heroin or crack users.
- full story here


America has long believed its right to fight the war on drugs does not end at its own borders. They've already threatened Canada, most of South America and many parts of Europe. Now they're having another go at the cheeky Jamaicans who dare to suggest decriminalisation. Economic sanctions are threatened as is the withdrawal of millions of dollars in aid.
- full story here


One thing they've shied away from is beating up innocent tourists. Until now that is. Zhao Yan, a Chinese businesswoman, was crossing from Canada into the States when a man was arrested for cannabis. Seeing this as a great example of justice in action she pulled out her camera and started snapping away. This must have irked immigration office Robert Rodes somewhat as he decided the best course of action was to pepper-spray and repeatedly hit her in the face. In his defence Mr Rodes claims he thought she was a drug smuggler. Which makes it okay I suppose.
- full story here
------------------------------



Miscellaneous News
It's probably not a good idea to grow cannabis if your farm is right next to a magistrates court. Especially if they can smell it on the way to work each day.
- full story here


It's also probably not a good idea to leave your lovely growing plants in full public view, no matter how proud of them you are. It's akin to leaving hot pies on the windowsill when Desperate Dan is around. Neither will last long. The problem is compounded if you report the theft to the authorities. Fortunately our hero was released without charge. As the wonderfully practical Adelaide police explained, he couldn't be prosecuted because all the evidence had gone.
- full story here


Sow the Seeds is a campaign of ours which aims to reintroduce cannabis into Britain as a naturally occurring plant. I don't know if people in Gloucester have heard about it but somehow a plant was found growing slap bang in the city centre.

According to reports police have removed the offending plant. Which begs the question how can a plant be offensive? Was it found screaming obscenities and baring it's arse? Did it hold nasty right-wing views? Was it inappropriately dressed for the season? I think we should be told.
- cannabis ruderalis
- sow the seeds