warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/hemporg/public_html/news/modules/taxonomy/ on line 34.

Australia: HEMP Party Calls For Cannabis To Be Legalized


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australia's HEMP Party -- Help End Marijuana Prohibition -- launched its election campaign on Monday, calling for cannabis to be legalized for personal and medical use, as it is now for industrial purposes.

Members of HEMP inflated a 33-foot plastic replica of a joint outside the state police commissioner's office in Sydney, reports Stuart McDill for Reuters. Activists said Australia's jails were "overflowing" with people criminalized for no good reason.

"America has given us huge encouragement," HEMP president Michael Balderstone said. "Half of America now has access to medical cannabis and now they've started to get new regulations for recreational cannabis. So, you know, the wall is down there and no big deal, the place hasn't gone crazy."

Cancer patient Jenn Lea handed out HEMP Party leaflets to amused office workers enjoying the lunchtime sunshine in a city park. The leaflets call for Parliament to end what Lea called discrimination against cannabis users.

Lea, a mother of three who has breast cancer, said she would not be alive if not for cannabis oil, and said she only wants to be able to buy it without breaking the law.

"Disgusted at my country but I'm proud that I've finally taken some initiative and I'm fighting for my rights to medicate," Lea said. "I want to live. I don't want to be put off in some respite center to die. I'm 35. I have children. I want to be there."

New Zealand: Sentence Halved for Medical Marijuana Activist


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A medical marijuana activist in New Zealand has had his home detention sentence cut in half after a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Activist William McKee, 58, was originally sentenced to 12 months' home detention, reports the Aeotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP). He promoted the medical use of marijuana through a website called GreenCross, which seeks a change in the law to make cannabis available for medicinal purposes.

A police investigation was reportedly prompted by activity on the site about selling and distributing cannabis.

An undercover police officer made several cannabis purchases, totaling $305, over four months after initially contacting McKee in February 2010.

McKee has known the value of medical marijuana for 37 years now, since the amputation of one leg after he was injured in a hit-and-run accident just after his 21st birthday. Before and after the amputation, he found that self-medicating with cannabis brought him the most effective relief.

According to McKee, the undercover officer had talked him into selling the cannabis by claiming severe headaches. McKee had unsuccessful tried to get the officer to become a GreenCross cardholder, which would have given the policeman a medical exemption.

McKee told the court the small sales he made, after much "wheedling" from the undercover officer, should have been regarded as entrapment.

New Zealand: Cannabis Advocate Runs For Mayor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Zealand cannabis legalization advocate Dakta Green, who's been jailed two times for possession of marijuana, has entered the race for mayor of the Ruapehu District.

Green, 63, is back in his home town of Taumarunui after a 40-year absence and said he wants to make a mark, reports Merania Karauria at The New Zealand Herald. The activist has bought the former freezing works administration centre, and wants to turn it into a museum.

The mayoral candidate is also the founder of New Zealand's most visible cannabis club, The Daktory. His motto is "Live like it's legal."

"Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous drugs but are legally available," Green said in 2010. "Cannabis causes less harm to our community."

"The cannabis laws are wrong," Green said. "They are fueled by a pernicious prejudice and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that adversely affect users and their families."

According to Green, cannabis is more natural, healthier option than other drugs, and does not fuel crime. "You smoke a joint right now, you're not going to all of a sudden going to be overcome with the urge to go out and rob a bank or belt somebody over the head," he said. "There's nothing within cannabis that turns you into a criminal."

Switzerland: Marijuana Helps Keep Prisons Safe


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Allowing prison inmates to smoke marijuana -- it's an idea that makes so much sense, it would probably never be implemented, right? Wrong: The sensible Swiss have already done it.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy estimates that 50 to 80 percent of inmates in Swiss prisons use cannabis. Marijuana is a relatively safe drug, according to prison staff, and cracking down on consumption would have more negative effects than positive ones.

Thirty-one male prisoners were interviewed, along with 27 prison staff, nine of whom were female.

Both guards and prisoners describe marijuana as a calming way to decrease the trauma of the prison experience. Survey participants said that a crackdown could increase fear and result in a shift to harder drug use.

While prisoners estimated up to 80 percent of inmates use marijuana, guards estimated it at only 50 percent.

(Graphic: North Platte Post)

Chile: Psychiatrist Leads Crusade To Legalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Chilean psychiatrist known as "Dr. Marijuana" has earned notoriety in his South American nation for his crusade to legalize cannabis.

Dr. Milton Flores, 58, describes cannabis as "a tool and a medicine," reports Rafael Romo at CNN. He says he's used cannabis for years to treat patients with conditions including depression and anxiety -- and he's also smoked pot himself, for 44 years.

Flores is considered Chile's main advocate for cannabis legalization. He also favors legalization of other "entheogens" (psychoactive plants), including peyote, ayahuasca and San Pedro cactus. All were used by local shamans and healers well before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century.

"Cannabis is neither good nor bad," Flores said. "Its use can be appropriate or inappropriate. It's a tool that can have very significant effects."

Flores has spoken out about his position throughout his career, going to great lengths to make his point. He has even been raided, twice, by Chilean drug enforcement authorities.

In March, police seized several marijuana plants at his mountain home. His case went all the way to the Chilean Supreme Court, but it was dismissed on a technicality. More recently, he was found guilty of growing 116 cannabis plants on his property; he was last week sentenced to 541 days -- more than 18 months -- of probation.

Uruguay: Goverment Will Sell Cannabis For $2.50 Per Gram To Compete With Black Market


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The bill which legalizes marijuana in the South American nation of Uruguay also does something else: It fixes the price of cannabis at around $2.50 per gram. The bill has been approved by the House, is up for vote in the Senate (which is expected to approve it), and will then be signed into law by President José Mujica, a longtime supporter of drug law reform.

What sets Uruguay's bill apart, reports Kavitha A. Davidson of The Huffington Post, is that it puts the government in charge of the entire marijuana industry, from cultivation to consumption. Individual citizens, cooperatives, and private companies can grow a specified amount of marijuana each month, but it can only be sold to consumers by state-run pharmacies.

Marijuana purchasers will have to register with the government and will be limited to 40 grams per month (which is a bummer, since I could smoke that in two days).

Such regulations could keep Uruguay's estimated 120,000 cannabis consumers from giving up on the black market -- but that's where the $2.50 a gram price scheme comes in. The government has two tools at its disposal to lure customers away from the black market and to the legal market it seeks to create, notes Foreign Policy's Park MacDougald: affordability and quality control.

Republic of Georgia: Hundreds Rally For Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of citizens of the former Soviet republic of Georgia rallied in the streets of capitol city Tbilisi on Monday, demanding the legalization of marijuana.

A majority of the protesters rallying in front of the old parliament building were young people, reports Radio Free Europe.

Many of them were wearing green shirts and were holding posters and placards calling on the government to "Stop Sending People to Jail for Smoking Weed."

Rally participants said they weren't advertising marijuana, but taking action to protect the personal freedom of those who choose to smoke it.

David Sergeyenko, Minister of Labor, Health Care, and Social Protections, said last week in a televised statement that his ministry was discussing the possibility of legalizing cannabis. According to Minister Sergeyenko, Georgia's Justice Ministry is also involved in the talks.

"If you have marijuana in your pocket, and police catch you, you might end up with up to 11 years in prison," psychologist David Subeliani said at the rally. "That's nonsense. We are talking about human rights."

(Photo: Radio Free Europe)

Netherlands: Maastricht Mayor To Clamp Down On Cannabis Cafe Foreign Sales

(Photo: The Fix)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Dutch mayor has warned his city's 13 cannabis cafes ("coffee shops") that he will take legal action if they continue with plans to sell marijuana to non-residents this Sunday.

The local cannabis cafe association announced its intentions earlier that all outlets will sell to people who don't live in the Netherlands on Sunday, when the Dutch celebrate the end of World War II, reports Dutch News.

Under recently adopted rules, the cafes, known as coffee shops, are now only allowed to sell marijuana to people who officially live in the Netherlands.

But a court ruling last week in favor of one coffee shop -- closed by Mayor Hoes because it sold to foreigners -- has given rise to hopes that the ban on sales to foreigners would be lifted.

"That ass should f off... really... Since this stupid rule there's an increase of shady dealers running around the city in the evening," commented Roy Kwarten. "And they sell a lot more than just cannabis. People who just enjoyed a smoke on the 'weed'-boat or coffee shop seldom bother anyone... These dealers are something else altogether, though. And they attract too many junkies, as well."

The bigger northern cities in the Netherlands, Amsterdam in particular, have said they will "use their discretion" about imposing the ban on foreigners, which means, in effect, they are ignoring it.

Czech Republic: Medical Marijuana Goes On Sale In Pharmacies

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana went on sale legally in pharmacies throughout the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Eligible for cannabis treatment are patients suffering from cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis, reports The Voice of Russia.

Patients will need a doctor's prescription to get marijuana at pharmacies. The new law doesn't include health insurance coverage for cannabis treatment.

While medical marijuana officially became legal in the Czech Republic on Monday, it was virtually unavailable, as most pharmacies across the nation of 10.5 million people were closed over the long Easter weekend, reports Agence France-Press.

Marijuana will at first be imported for about a year, reportedly from either the Netherlands or Israel, until the State Institute for Drug Control issues licenses to local growers. Government authorities plan to issue five-year licenses for cannabis cultivation.

The Czech Republic already had some of the most liberal cannabis laws in the European Union. Possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana or growing up to five plants results only in a small fine.

Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government Opposes

Photo - Denmark: Copenhagen Wants To Legalize Cannabis; National Government OpposesBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Danish city of Copenhagen wants to legalize cannabis. But while city officials overwhelmingly support the move, the national government of Denmark may not let them go ahead with the plan.

Last year the Danish national government rejected tentative legalization plans that had been approved on a 39-9 vote by the Copenhagen City Council, reports Fergus O'Sullivan at The Atlantic Cities.

Last week, officials from Seattle, where Washington state voters legalized marijuana last November, were flow in for a conference to help write a policy that stands a better chance of overcoming reluctance from non-metropolitan Danish and neighboring Swedish mayors.

Copenhagen would prefer to keep marijuana sales under state monopoly, controlling prices and importing supplies, possibly even from now-legal Colorado and Washington, though Washington officials have already nervously downplayed that possible plan, citing possible federal law enforcement concerns.

To prevent so-called "pot tourism," only Danish passport holders over the age of 18 would be allowed to buy weed. Cannabis outlets might also restrict sales by demanding proof of residency in Copenhagen.

Global: United Nations Warns America Not To Legalize Marijuana

Photo: Raymond Yans, president, INCB. Photo source: United Nations International Narcotics Control BoardBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United Nations has warned the United States against legalizing marijuana, either for medical use or for all adults. Doing so, according to the U.N., violates international law.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the arm of the U.N. in charge of overseeing drug treaties, issued the stern warning about the "unprecedented surge" of marijuana legalization in the U.S., reports Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times. The group apparently has issues with both medicinal cannabis use and general legalization.

"In some U.S. states, they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the [treaties]," INCB scolded in its new report.

The INCB, part of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, singled out Colorado and Washington for particular criticism, since voters in both those states approved general legalization in November.

"They also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing," claimed Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, reports The Guardian.

Medical marijuana laws, as adopted by 18 states in the U.S., are little more than "a back-door to legalization for recreational use," Yans claimed.

Syndicate content