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The Hempire News - June 04

Drug War News
Pity the poor prohibitionists. Just as they come up with another whiz bang wheeze to scare us off cannabis the truth appears and shoots it down.

Their latest tactic is to claim cannabis is now 10 to 20 times stronger than it was 30 years ago. This, you see, is an excellent way to convince old hippies the drug they used is nothing like the drug the vulnerable kids are using.

Problem is, it's not true. The largest ever study of its kind has just been completed by the European Union. They examined cannabis seized by police between 1995 and 2002 and found the average potency to be around six per cent THC, same as it was in the 70s.

Prohibitionists have consistently lied about, exaggerated or distorted the dangers of drugs. They've had to. The public would not support such a wasteful and damaging policy unless they felt the threat so severe that only drastic action would do.

Fortunately, things are changing. Yes these stories don't get as much coverage as anything saying 'cannabis kills' but they are being written and they are being published. Prohibitionists will fool some people forever. All of us have been fooled for a bit. But they can't fool everyone endlessly.

By the way, you don't need to read the second story, but do have a look at the headline for a revealing insight into how the Daily Mail spins things.
- the truth
- the Mail

The Observer is one confused newspaper. It purports to be all nice and liberal about the drug war but then goes and prints nonsense articles which support it.

As we know, prohibitionists must soon put the super-strength argument in the same place they keep the gateway one. Meaning they'll need something new to scare us with. Step forward cannabis addiction; which the Observer tells us is on the rise, alarmingly.

The article they print is full of the usual half-truths and misunderstandings. The author uses the words 'addiction' and 'dependence' interchangeably. He implies a causal link between cannabis and mental illness when none has ever been proved. And to cap it all off he cites American studies which show that over half of all 12-17 year-olds in treatment centres are there because of cannabis. When the truth is if they get caught with cannabis their choices are treatment or jail.

But just to balance things out, they print an editorial calling for the full legalisation of cannabis. Thank you. I think.
- topsy
- turvy

As you may have read from the Observer editorial (above) the Police Federation is none too happy about reclassification. Apparently, the change has confused beat police and led to lawlessness and a general undermining of their authority.

Reclassification is clearly a mess if the police don't even know what the law is. But then it always was a half-arsed approach and as such cannot remain in its current form for very long.

Sooner or later something must give. And it wont tip the way we want if we let the Tories in again. Also on the down side are some police who want a return to the old tough line. On the up, sits the chair of the Police Federation who states "I am convinced it is not law enforcement which will make a real different in drugs" and believes the only way forward is for a public debate on the issue.

Oh if only we could have a public debate. I dream of a public debate. Because there is absolutely no way on earth the prohibitionists would win it.
- full story here

Cost of Prohibition News
One of the themes of this newsletter is the damage prohibition causes young people. I've pointed out that under-age kids find it easier to get hold of cannabis than they do legal drugs. And I've said the approach we take to tobacco is the one which works and the one which should be applied to cannabis. Just thought I'd blow my own trumpet before announcing the following report.

The U.S. conducts a biannual Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, the latest of which revealed more teenagers smoke cannabis than tobacco. Moreover, the trend is for fewer teens to smoke tobacco and more to smoke dope - so the currently small statistical difference should increase the longer prohibition goes on.

And it is prohibition's fault. The reduction in teenage smoking is credited to a vigorously enforced ID policy for buying cigarettes. Create coffeeshops and the same ID policy would exist for cannabis. The reason it would work is the same too. Well would you risk losing your entire business by selling to someone under-age?
- full story here

International News
In Euro 2000 England fans caused trouble when the team played in Belgium. When they played in Holland there was no trouble at all. Some people might claim it was the museums and tulip farms which kept fans out of the pub. The Portuguese put it down to the dope. So they announced, very publicly, that nobody would be arrested were they found puffing a joint - even though the act is technically illegal.

Now as we all know alcohol related violence is not confined to football matches. In fact the problem is so severe the Government has announced a blitz on under-age drinking and alcohol fuelled disorder. Binge drinking is called the new British disease. Isn't it lucky we've just found a cure for the old one.
- full story here

The next country to liberalise was supposed to be Switzerland. Cannabis is already widely accepted there and many hemp shops sell dope under the guise of aromatic room freshener or herbal tea. However, their upper house is run by a coalition of right-wingers and Christian Democrats who refused to even debate a drug law amendment already passed by their House of Commons.

The law was supported by the police, teachers associations, drug and alcohol groups, political parties and a great many members of the public. But this wasn't enough for one Ruth Näf, who astonishingly said that "young people could only be prosecuted if cannabis remains illegal." Which must mean that either she's a director for some Swiss prison building firm or that her hero was the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- full story here

Fifteen years ago Nol Van Schaik got caught smuggling dope into France. In true Papillion style he broke free of his captors, ran through a forest and jumped off a cliff to freedom.

Nol spent a large part of his liberty backing the British legalisation movement. He supported and helped fund and equip the Dutch Experiences in Stockport and Bournemouth. He created the Cannabis Coffeeshop College which inspired Jerry Ditchfield to open in Wales and Chris Baldwin in Worthing. He initiated many medical marijuana projects and helped many individual medical users.

But the old warrant for his arrest was still in existence when officials decided to check his passport. So now he sits in a Madrid jail hoping that Spain will be as lenient as all those other countries, Britain included, who have arrested but then released him.

If you can find the time I'm sure he'd love to know just how much we appreciate all he's done.
- The story
- Nol's address

Miscellaneous News
Jason Clayton's claim not to be a dealer was unfortunately undermined when seven people bowled up looking to score whilst police were busy raiding him.
- full story here

This is a story about a man and a pig. No ordinary pig mind you, but a beer drinking, smoke sharing, sit on command, get out of jail free, pig.

You see Barry, the pig, had a fondness for cannabis. Or at least that's what Ivan Churcher, the owner, told a court when found with 380 plants and a pipe. Amazingly it worked. Ivan got away with the minimum sentence possible and through his sheer front won respect and admiration around the world.

Sadly Ivan passed away recently. Barry was breakfast a long time ago.
- full story here

They're a good lot in Cumbria. When Stuart Wilkinson was caught with a kilo his neighbours wrote in to support him. Stuart chipped in all over the place, helping out the elder citizens, taking people's dogs for walks. The judge appreciated all of this and sentenced him to a bit of community service. It's all about karma ladies and gentlemen.
- full story here