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The Hempire News - November 03

Reclassification News
It's actually going to happen. Cannabis will become a Class C substance on January 29th 2004.

For most of us the difference wont be noticeable, at least at first. We can feel safe smoking at home and relax when carrying it around - but the fear of getting busted is already so small who really worries about that anyway?

The actual difference is subtle, and probably only visible to glass half-full types. Yet its significance should not be underestimated. This is epitomised by the statement which best explains reclassification: there is now a presumption against arrest.

These seven words indicate a sea change in Government policy. One which recognises the ineffectiveness of current laws. If they really wanted to stop people using cannabis and actually thought the best tool was the law then they would've increased penalties. What they're saying is we can't arrest you because there's too many of you and, what's worse, we're losing you.

What they're saying is the law doesn't work. Now they can only whisper this because too many of the people they care about still think Emperor Prohibition is fully dressed. Dispelling this illusion takes time and must be done slowly, thread by thread. Politicians wont let it go too fast because they've got the most to lose when it's revealed just how had we've been.
- Reclassification FAQs
- Home Office Statement
- MPs vote
- Lords vote
- Scotland
------------------------------



International News
Prohibitionists love Alaska. Here, they say, is somewhere which tried decriminalisation but hated it so much they changed the law back. Turns out they hate the law against cannabis even more. For them it's an issue of individual rights. They believe the right of an Alaskan to possess up to four ounces of cannabis is greater than the right of the police to search for it. This view has recently been upheld by two courts, with only the Supreme one left to go. Looks like prohibitionists are going to have to find other countries to use as an example.
- full story here


They may try and start with Italy. Politicians there have recently proposed harsh new penalties for possession. These politicians are, of course, from the far right and are, of course, trotting out the usual load of rubbish to support their proposal. I'm no Mystic Meg but I happen to agree with the commentator who noted "It's plain as day that, even if the law gets through, it's going to be impossible to enforce." As it's always been impossible to enforce, everywhere it's ever been tried.
- full story here


The Dutch coffeeshops are under more threat. The German government hates the fact its pesky citizens find it so easy to score so close to home. To counter this they want the Dutch to implement a system which ensures only Dutch nationals can buy from coffeeshops. Despite this being an infringement of basic European rights the Christian Democrat minister seems to be taking the proposal seriously. Coffeeshops and local municipalities oppose the idea but it's not yet clear who'll win.
- full story here
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Medical News
Another great month for health news. The world's largest trial into the medicinal benefits of cannabis has shown the herb reduces pain and improves the lives of sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis. GW Pharmaceuticals are now applying for permission to market a cannabis-based medicine, which apparently is the final step before it appears in a chemist near you.
- full story here


Cannabis has long been used by cancer sufferers to decrease nausea and increase appetite. However, a new study from Spain has shown that cannabis inhibits tumour growth in laboratory animals. It does this in two ways, firstly by telling tumour cells to stop growing and secondly by preventing the tumour cells from getting the nourishment they need.
- full story here


Agitation is the issue which gives patients with Alzheimer's most problems. A study in the States has shown synthetic cannabis significantly reduces this agitation. This not only makes life much easier for the sufferer but also significantly improves the quality of life of their caregivers.
- full story here


Another synthetic form of cannabis is showing potential benefit for people with serious head injuries. Apparently, when cells in the brain die they send signals to nearby cells to die as well. Nothing so far has been 100% effective in stopping this but artificial THC seems to work better than everything else. I wonder how effective the real thing would be?
- full story here


We hear a lot about cannabis and Schizophrenia these days. It's the next great stand for prohibitionists, one of the very few arguments they've got left. An excellent dismissal is presented below, though the translation can make reading a little difficult.
- full story here
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Miscellaneous News
Our friends at Rizla have always been keen to distance themselves from the thought their products could be used for drug taking. They repeatedly and categorically claim King Size papers "are designed for tobacco" and state for good measure "We do not condone cannabis smoking." Problem is, one of their own adverts has just been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for, err, "condoning the use of cannabis".
- Rizla man
- ASA


When police stopped to help Nickolas Sandoval all they wanted to do was help change a tyre. Sandoval saw a squad car, thought I've done enough jail time for dope already, and swallowed his stash. Unfortunately, the plastic bag stuck in his throat and he died.
- full story here


Michael Dare is the farmer friend all of wish we had. All crop, no buyer. All £55,000 of it.
- full story here


Not so long ago a presidential candidate would weave their way around any question about their own cannabis use. Now not only do they freely admit it, but they even seem to be apologetic if they haven't.
- full story here


The biggest danger facing cannabis cafes is not a ban on cannabis but a ban on public smoking. If a New York style approach is implemented before full decriminalisation then changing the law through systematic civil disobedience becomes much harder.
- full story here


This news story should not be read as an excuse to drive stoned. However, new research has shown people who test positive for cannabis and only cannabis (i.e. not alcohol, coke, pills or anything else) actually drive safer than those completely sober. The explanation provided by a Dutch researcher was that stoned drivers drive slower, increase the distance between them and other cars and never overtake.
- full story here


Customs confuse black pudding herbs with cannabis. Surely you don't need anything more than that headline to read on?
- full story here