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The Hempire News - May 03

Cafe News
The sticking point in negotiations with our landlord has always been one of set-up costs. He thinks we're spending too much money kitting out the place. We say the place needs a certain ambiance in order to attract and keep the customers we want. The landlord's been away for a couple of weeks and since then we've realised he's right (thanks to BJ for helping us get there). Sure it's important to get the furniture and lighting and food and music right, but fundamentally the ambiance is created by the staff and other customers. We don't need to buy your custom. We'll win it. Hopefully.

This means the major point of difference is now resolved. It is entirely possible (and given progress so far, pretty damn likely) other obstacles will emerge but the good news is one major hurdle is out of the way.

Legalisation News

You may have read a story saying there was a danger cannabis could kill 30,000 people a year (The Daily Mail had no doubts, proclaiming - with probable glee - "cannabis kills 30,000 each year"wink. If this were true efforts at further liberalisation could be derailed. However, it's not. A full debunking of the report is available below but essentially they arrived at this figure by assuming tobacco smoke contains the same dangers as cannabis smoke.

The reason the two are different is one of addiction. Tobacco is so addictive users consume a pack or more a day for upwards of twenty years. It is long-term use which causes serious harm and studies report tobacco users who give up in their early 40s soon fix all the damage they've done. Most cannabis smokers don't consume anything like the same amount of smoke (even if they don't use filters and do hold the smoke deeper and for longer) and the vast majority give up in their 30s.

Unfortunately, the author - a Professor John Henry - seems to like the limelight more than he likes the facts.
--- original report
--- debunk 1
--- debunk 2

Get Involved

Ghandi did it. Martin Luther King did it and now we're asking you to do it. Ignore the law. If, as King said, it is our moral responsibility to disobey an unjust law you should disobey the law that says you can't smoke cannabis. There are a few guidelines you should follow (as indicated last month and on the link below) but apart from that - skin up.

We're also asking smokers to come out. We're told cannabis ruins lives and is used by no-good layabouts. Prove them wrong by adding your name to the list of those who toke.
--- Brazen Blazin'
--- Come out smokers, it's safe

News Stories of the Month

A 19 year old in Alabama has been sentenced to 26 years for selling cannabis. It was his first offence. The total amount sold was four ounces. He admitted guilt and the sentence cannot be appealed as it was arrived at as part of his plea bargain. Some bargain! What would he have got if he'd pleaded his innocence?
--- full story here

We all know how much music has been created under the influence but literature has its share of heads too. A pipe Shakespeare used contained traces of cannabis, Thomas de Quincy and Darwin's dad used opium, Aldus Huxley tried LSD, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Jack Kerouac seemingly did whatever was to hand. You're in good company.
--- Kennedy used cocaine
--- High art

The recently retired Chief Superintendent of Hammersmith and Fulham, Anthony Wills, has added his name to the growing list of senior police who want all drugs decriminalised. His argument is that nothing we can do will stop people taking drugs so we should make sure they do so safely and in a controlled way. He's right.
--- full story here