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The Hempire News - June 03

Cafe News
This month, in what I'm sure will be a refreshing change, we've got both good and bad news for you. The bad news is we can't have the premises we've been working towards for the past ten months. Our landlord is worried about being prosecuted and/or wants the space for himself. The good news is he definitely wants to invest. So we've got the money and access to many more of the resources we'll need. Only problem is we've got to find somewhere new to house our little bit of heaven.

There's good and bad news about this too. On the downside, we've lost a great building in a great location and we'll not now have the very important backing of our landlord. On the upside, we can hopefully find somewhere a bit cheaper and a bit smaller. Our original space was larger than intended, somewhere smaller will have fewer overheads and will thus be less of a risk.

Oh well everything works out for the best.

Legalisation News
There was a bit of a furore in the press over the weekend. First Blunkett wanted special powers to close down any premises where cannabis was being used. Then we heard Reclassification is to be delayed until January. Finally we learnt ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) have refused to sanction any change in the law.

But are things really as bleak as they seem? Blunkett only wanted to be able to shut down those establishments where "serious nuisance" was being caused. His plans have been canned due to objections from other ministers and drugs workers. What's more these plans were heavily criticised by the press. So if they were only going to shut the most bothersome of places and now neither plan nor have the support to do that perhaps it means they're going to leave smoking dens alone.

According to Eddie Ellison, ex head of the Met's drug squad and campaigner against prohibition, ACPO's move is actually a good one. He believes reclassification is a fudge and the police shouldn't be the ones deciding policy. The only way to get clarity is to force the Government to decide whether this is a law that should or should not be kept. We can feel optimistic because the Government have committed themselves to change and can't now decide they want to leave things as they were.

The moved Reclassification date is not good news. Although on a selfish note, it doesn't impact too much on us as we've got to find new premises anyway!
- Blunkett to seize houses
- Reclassification delayed
- Unhappy police

Get Involved
Biz Ivol is a multiple-sclerosis sufferer arrested in 2001 for the crime of helping other seriously ill people. She has suffered enormously in the two years it's taken for this case to get to trial and is now so despondent she's threatening to take her own life.

For those who aren't aware, cannabis is the only thing that can give Biz a life you or I would consider just about acceptable. Without it she is bedridden, unable to do the things she loves and racked with pain she compares to "barbed wire being dragged through my spine".

She's not alone. Many other people gain real benefit from using cannabis for medicinal purposes but all of them risk prosecution. Moreover, those with real expertise are put off helping others thanks to cases like these. The result is tens of thousands of people suffer needlessly.

If you do only one thing this month, please let others know how you feel about this appalling injustice.
- Original story
- Her side
- Sign the petition

News Stories of the Month
Tobacco is the real gateway drug. "UK researchers have discovered that the link between substance use and psychiatric disorders among adolescents is mainly accounted for by regular [tobacco] smoking." Unfortunately, this story was only picked up by a specialist news organisation. The dailies, so recently full of "cannabis creates schizophrenia" headlines, didn't see fit to publish a story about legal drugs.
- full story here

Talking of legal drugs; six times as many people are dependent upon alcohol than Class A substances. The average alcoholic is hooked for 14 years and drinks about a bottle of spirits per day. Half of all dependent drinkers said they had a mental health problem and those it doesn't harm it kills - alcohol is directly responsible for about 40,000 deaths a year (it's indirectly responsible for 60-70% of homicides, 70% of rapes, 66% of child abuse cases, 75% of stabbings, 70% of beatings and 50% of fights and domestic assaults). And Susan Greenfield claims cannabis is more dangerous!
- full story here

If you want an excellent summary of why the drug laws really don't work you could do worse than read Rachael Scott's account. Rachel won The Independent's student essay competition for her comprehensive account of the insanity that is prohibition.
- full story here