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The Hempire News - November 04

UK News
I despair of politicians, I really do. Well I despair of Labour and the Tories, both of whom announced 'new' tough-on-drugs policies this month. I wouldn't mind so much were these genuine attempts to deal with a serious issue. But they're not, they're blatant attempts to win votes through fear.

The voters they're chasing have a deep-rooted fear of drugs. They've been told to worry about drugs and have found reasons to do so. They've seen people harmed by drugs and have seen drug users harm others. They know young people are doing drugs way before they're ready and that some people do way too many drugs. So it's natural they want an end to this problem.

What politicians misjudge is the solutions they seek. To be sure, many believe only draconian measures will do. Most, however, are ready for a new approach. The Daily Mirror recently found the vast majority of Britons believe Tony Blair is losing the war on drugs and more than 60% want drug supply controlled by the Government.

The last figure is the important one; it reveals a begrudging acceptance that drug use is here to stay. Prohibition can be the only alternative whilst a drug free world remains the objective. Most Britons now feel drugs are so ingrained in society that society's leaders must get involved in their supply.
- vote for me
- no, vote for me
- no, supply me

The quest for a drug free world centres on the idea that intoxication is 'bad'. Problem is (as can be seen in more detail below), most of us enjoy the occasional bout of mood-alteration. So much so that laws banning it will inevitably be ineffective; the distant threat of punishment is always outweighed by directly experienced pleasure. Understanding this, prohibitionists' latest approach is to seek chemical ways to stop pleasure taking place.

Of which there are three kinds. Metabolism Modifiers make taking drugs a deeply unpleasant experience; alcoholics become violently ill when drinking for instance. The other two, Molecule Binders and Receptor Blockers, either stop the drug reaching our system or prevent the natural receptors in our system making contact with the drug.

Prohibitionists love this approach because a drug free world is only possible if drugs have no effect. And these chemicals can be beneficial if addicts voluntarily choose them to help beat their addiction.

But prohibitionists don't just want to stop addicts using drugs, they want to stop all of us. And they believe they're entitled to employ any means necessary to achieve their goal.
- full story here

Prohibitionists are attempting to eradicate what some scientists call our fourth drive, a drive about as imperative as our drive for water, food and sex. The New Scientist calls this the 'Intoxication Instinct'; it's the instinct to occasionally alter our mood, to feel a bit different sometimes.

This desire spans time and species. We've wanted to alter our consciousness ever since realising we had one. Drug use has been ingrained into cultures for as long as cultures have existed. It's not something confined to adults either - children in every corner of the world spin around or hyperventilate in an attempt to experience -mind-altering giddiness-.

This desire exists throughout the animal kingdom too. Monkeys and cats and reindeer have been seen to deliberately trip - and in the case of reindeer, will fight man for the few remaining mushrooms. Cows and bees and birds will gorge on intoxicating plants, stagger around for a while, then return to the plants for more.

Animals also use drugs purposefully. Elephants seek fermented fruit juice to get over losing a mate or to deal with stress. Water buffalo were seen chewing on opium poppies -to the point of addiction- during the Vietnam war. And lamas like to stimulate themselves with the occasional coffee bean or khat leaf.

We've been intoxicating ourselves even before we became human. So what on earth makes prohibitionists think they can stop us doing it now? Moreover, what on earth makes them believe they have the right to even try?
- full story here

U.S. News
George Bush likes to describe himself as a compassionate conservative, though his compassion runs a little short when it comes to medicinal cannabis. In fact, when all's said and done, he'd prefer people to die than use the evil weed.

Angel Raich has a horrifying list of debilitating diseases, amongst which is a brain tumour which can't be operated upon and will kill her if left untreated. The only medicine which works for her, the only medicine keeping her alive, is cannabis. Despite this, the American government clings to the belief that cannabis has no medicinal value and wants users banned from taking it and imprisoned if they do.

Raich has taken her fight to stay alive all the way to the Supreme Court where the case was heard this month. Unfortunately, early indications are she'll lose. The judges seem to believe it's worth putting people through unimaginable suffering if it means preventing a few scammers getting hold of a legal supply.
- full story here

Fortunately the American people aren't as cruel as their leaders, an overwhelming majority of whom approve the medicinal use of cannabis. For some strange reason Americans believe doctors are better able than politicians to decide what's best for patients. Something true of even that most red of states, Texas.
- full story here

The American government thinks it knows what's best for other countries too. Canada has long suffered America's ire for its plans to decriminalise and now the American Ambassador has weighed in with more threats to border trade.

He says they'll generously forgive the Canadians for their views on same sex marriage and for desperately hoping George Bush would suffer an humiliating defeat though.
- full story here

International News
Brazil has followed Portugal and Russia by decriminalising personal possession of all drugs. Responsibility for the issue has been taken away from the police and put into the hands of health ministries. Moreover, a name change reveals the radical shift of focus. Their drug policy will no longer be titled the 'National anti-drug policy', but the 'National policy on drugs'.
- full story here

Italy has similar legislation but this could change with a bill currently working its way through their Senate. Should it pass anyone caught with a quarter of a gram of cannabis (that's a 112th for you imperialists) will automatically face jail. Cocaine users are a little more lucky, they can carry half a gram before they'll be busted.

Two main supporters of the bill claim it's necessary because cannabis leads to other drugs and because cannabis is way more potent than ever before. Which - since both arguments have been endlessly discredited - proves again that the people making the law know nothing about the problem.
- full story here

Despite over thirty years of existence Dutch coffeeshops still don't have a smooth ride. Their Justice Minister has bowed to pressure from France and Sweden and announced plans to prevent anyone but Dutch nationals gaining access to them.

Whether it will become law is another matter; a founding principle of the E.U. is that one European country cannot discriminate against citizens from another.
- full story here

Various reports have this month shown a significant rise in the number of people using cannabis and other drugs. There are now twice as many Canadians consuming cannabis than there were just ten years ago. Three times as many people in Ireland are being treated for cannabis and 80% of young Europeans think getting hold of drugs is easy.

Prohibition's aims are to reduce the demand for, and the supply of, drugs. Yet more people are using drugs, more people find it easy to get drugs and in Britain the police force claims drugs are now cheaper and more potent than ever before.

Has there ever been a policy which has failed more than prohibition?
- Canada
- Ireland
- Europe
- UK

Miscellaneous News
A grow shop has cunningly placed its advert slap bang next to an anti-drug abuse poster right outside Peterborough railway station. GNER admirably state that the shop doesn't perform illegally and therefore should be treated as any other business. Predictably the local Councillor and MP don't agree. All of which creates excellent publicity for Grow Systems - possibly the best grow shop in the world.
- full story here

There aren't many employees willing to stand up against random drug-testing so let's hear it for the rebellious police of North Wales. The recent decision to test all staff has had (anonymous) officers up in arms. -It's an invasion of privacy-, they claim. -Drug use is not a problem here-, they cry. Perhaps now they'll appreciate our position.
- full story here

Normally it's illegal to grow cannabis in the UK, but satisfy the right conditions and you may receive special dispensation. These conditions currently include being a member of the aristocracy and claiming the plants are 'strictly for educational purposes'. But Labour says it wants a classless society and my garden teaches me loads. Honestly your honour.
- full story here