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The Hempire News - October 03

Cafe News
Bad news as another cafe closes in the UK. Fear not though, there are more than a few low-key places still operating. We haven't restarted the premises hunt yet so there's no movement from us. However, cafés are springing up in various parts of North America.

Smoking is more or less tolerated in Toronto and some places have taken advantage of that. There's a cafe in New Brunswick (no I don't know where it is either) which has started to sell openly to medical patients. Vancouver (or Vansterdam) has had cafes for years and Oakland (Oaksterdam), in California, has medical outlets. All good, apart from the dodgy 'sterdam' epithet of course.
- Worthing
- New Brunswick
- Toronto
- Oakland
- pot tourism

Legalisation News
It's often believed that legalising drugs would lead to increase usage, and therefore increased problems. The experience of Holland contradicts this. According to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs the only country in the world where cannabis is freely available has half the use of cannabis we do. According to the UN, Holland isn't even in the top 50 cannabis consuming countries in the world.

Fortunately most of our European neighbours have seen the light. There are very few sanctions for possessing a bit of cannabis in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Span, Portugal and Croatia. Unfortunately Switzerland has just temporarily changed it's mind about fully legalising cannabis. The fear of the far right, in an election where they were expected to make gains (they did) meant politicians felt they couldn't be seen to be soft on crime. So they let the gangsters carry on selling cannabis.

The courts in Canada recently decided they had no law against cannabis possession, but this has since been reversed. The opposite happened in Alaska where the supreme court declared bans on cannabis use unconstitutional. They decreed an individual's right to privacy exceeds the right of the police to search them for cannabis. Many experts in the UK believe the European Convention on Human Rights protects us in the same way, though all attempts to test this have so far been thwarted.
- UK cannabis market 'saturated'
- watch and learn Mr Blair
- fear the far right
- Canada
- Alaska

American News
We might be ruled by European law but many of our policies come straight from America; the War on Drugs for example. Unfortunately they don't stop at exporting terrible ideas but continue all the way into another country to ensure they're enforced.

Much of Central America has been sprayed with Agent Orange to try and eradicate the coca leaf, a policy so detested Bolivia experienced a popular revolution last week – largely in order to remove the US-controlled president who supported it. In the UK we've had ex New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sent over to rail against the Brixton experiment and the US-dominated UN condemning us for setting a 'bad example' with reclassification. Canada's own plans to soften the law have been described by US Drug Czar John Walters as akin to setting up 'toxic waste dumps on the border' and now he's at it again.

Mr Walters has often been noted for his, err, outspoken views on drugs, he's the person who most likes to claim drugs support terrorism for instance. Although his latest statement seems to take delusion to a new level. According to him Canada's plans are a “blemish in an otherwise successful effort by the United States to cut back illegal drug production in the Western Hemisphere”. How to account for this wild flight of fancy other than to assume the Czar has his own definition of 'successful'.

Idiotic statements are one thing, it's the hypocrisy which gets my goat. The latest example of this comes from Rush Limbaugh, America's Richard Littlejohn of the AM band, or for those of you who don't read The Sun, a fascist, blinkered, fool. Mr Limbaugh has a less than charitable view towards junkies, which doesn't really sit with his newly revealed habit of swallowing up to 100 tranquillisers a day. This shortly followed the confession by ex US Drug Czar Bill Bennett of losses of over £4m from a gambling addiction.

And Tommy Chong is banged up for nine months for selling bongs.
- Bolivia
- hypocrisy writ large
- can you smell the desperation?
- people in glasshouses

Medical News
The major medical story of the month was that sperm from cannabis smokers was found to move too fast. Not something that can honestly be said about cannabis smokers ourselves. I wonder if this means the herb will soon be described as a useful contraceptive?

It certainly seems to be helping many sufferers, from Alzheimer's, to Parkinson's, cancer, AIDS and now Epilepsy. A recent study revealed epileptics benefit from the same anti-spasmodic agents which help MS sufferers. Yet according to the Government it still has no medicinal value.

One of the main factors preventing legalisation for medicinal use is fear it's a backdoor way of legalising recreational use. This fear is perpetrated by our new friend John Walters who describes medicinal cannabis as the “Trojan horse of the new millennium”. According to him legalisers are selfishly using the ill for their own gains. And in order to prevent this selfishness he'll stop millions of people getting what is often the only medicine that works.

He must have his own definition for 'selfish' as well.
- slow down boys
- how big is a sample exactly?
- epilepsy
- Mr Walters again