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Tag Archives: Europe

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* * * News Flash Update: Nov 25, 2008 – UK: Scientists Attack Plan To Upgrade Cannabis“In recommending this change to parliament the government has rejected the explicit advice of its appointed experts, the advisory council on the misuse of drugs, for the first time in its history.” (from a letter to The Guardian) * * *

For past eight years, the British Isles have been on a roller coaster of governmental policies regarding Cannabis (marijuana), with the reform apex being 2004, when Cannabis was moved from Class B (an arrestable offence) to Class C, which placed it in the company of amphetamines and Ritalin.

However, paranoia and hysteria ensued as reports of increased Cannabis use by youths, an alleged epidemic of mental illness among the young (statistically irrelevant compared to alcohol) and fears of high potency “Skunk” weed infiltrating Britain (See Previous Post) . So, last spring Cannabis was returned to Class B.

Amid this political schizophrenia, inconvenient truths refuse to go away. Prestigious institutions keep issuing reports on the current prohibition (see previous post), it’s ineffectiveness in controlling substance abuse and unintended consequences suffered by society. Last week, The Observer ran a series of articles examining several drug issues. The following are selections that dealt with Cannabis use, with You Tube videos posted from Britain.

UK: Series: Drugs Uncovered: The Facts: Cannabis – A brief but eclectic collection of Cannabis facts and history, including a reference to Lord Shiva’s gifting of Cannabis to humankind.

In this video, a Multiple Sclerosis patient in Britain (whose doctor warned her not to take conventional pharmaceuticals for MS because of the serious side effects) eloquently explains the need for medicinal Cannabis. Cannabis Reclassification – Kerrang Interview 2008 – UK Britain

Series: Drugs Uncovered: The Observer Drugs Poll 2008 – In this extensive poll conducted last month, public opinions on aspects of all illegal drug use are examined. In a popular video on You Tube, a venerable British lady who grew her own Cannabis as medicine refuses to be labeled a criminal.Cannabis Granny

Series: Drugs Uncovered: The Legal Landscape – This article looks at the A,B,C system of illegal drug classification in Britain and cites the confusion over Cannabis. In this amazing video from England, police rip out the side of a Cannabis cafe with a tractor.Lancing Cannabis Cafe Raid

Series: Drugs Uncovered: Chemical Bonds – This article acknowledges the influence that drugs have had on art, literature and music.A Brief List of People Who Have Smoked Marijuana

Series: Drugs Uncovered: Frankly, the Ads Don’t Work – They Just Make It Worse – Looking at past and current attempts by government sponsored media to discourage illegal drug use.Banned Commercial: Terrible Weed Commercial

Series: Drugs Uncovered: The Legaliser– ‘We Need to Manage the People Who Use Them and Help the People Who Misuse Them, Not Criminalise Either of Them”, says Danny Kushlick, Founder of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. Mr. Kushlick points out what should be obvious to all observers of history – that prohibitions never work, are counter productive and corrupt government institutions. In this video posted on You Tube, a member of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance challenges all the groups advocating reform to come together and put an end to Cannabis prohibition in the U.K.Splitters Unite!

 To delve more deeply into the history of Britain’s drug war, I highly recommend
Drug Crazy : How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get Out, by Mike Gray (author of, The China Syndrome ). A fascinating chapter examines the “heroin maintenance model” that existed before the American -influenced drug war took hold. Addicts who were able to drop by a free clinic for a heroin injection once a day used one-seventh the amount of drug they would normally seek out and consume on the street.

 

orwellIn an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
– George Orwell

Headline: June 10, 2008Now Experts Say Cannabis Should Be Legal– Drug abuse experts in Scotland have been studing the Cannabis (marijuana) problem in the U.K. and have come to a logical, if controversial, conclusion. After evaluating data from the Netherlands, where Cannabis has been decriminalized and from San Francisco, CA, where it is still illegal, the researchers found that breaking the legal link between Cannabis and hard drugs also breaks the real-world contact between the Cannabis user and dealers of hard drugs. Only 17% of Cannabis dealers in the Netherlands were also sellers of narcotics, whereas 50% of dealers in San Francisco also dealt in hard drugs.

In this video posted on You Tube, a Scottish poet relates in verse his feelings about the Cannabis plant:Scottish poet in Tobermory Isle of Mull reading Poem.2.

This recommendation comes shortly after Britain reversed several years of leniency on Cannabis users, reclassifying Cannabis as Class B, with the possibility of arrest and jail. (see previous post)

Headline: July 12, 2008 – Ireland: Is It Time To Legalise Drugs? – A new book, The Irish War on Drugs: the Seductive Folly of Prohibition, by Dr. Paul O’Mahony is making waves in the Emerald Isle by recognizing that the modern prohibition of drugs actually makes the misuse problems worse, not better. Citing the United States as mainly responsible for the current drug war tactics, as opposed to “harm reduction” strategies that many European countries have adopted, Dr. Mahony quotes Dr. Milton Friedman, an esteemed U.S. economist, who also sees prohibition as a flawed approach. In this series on You Tube, Milton Friedman expalins why:Milton Friedman on America’s Drug Forum pt.1of 3

Headline: July 12, 2008Italy: Rastas Can Use Cannabis, Italian Court Rules – The Supreme Court of Italy has ruled that, for Rastafarians at least, Cannabis can be considered a religious act and not a criminal offense. Citing marijuana “not only as a medical but also as a meditative herb“, the court also said that “as such [it is] a possible bearer of the psycho-physical state to contemplation and prayer“.  In the next video, we see Italian Rastafarians chanting to Emperor Haile Selassie on the first 115th Earthlight ina Roma, Italy.23rd July ina Rome

Headline: July 2, 2008Drug History’s Sad Centenary – The 100th anniversary of the first anti-narcotic law in history, passed in Canada on July 11, 1908, comes at a time when the new Conservative government has chosen a hard line on drugs, reversing years of liberal Cannabis laws, including the first national medical marijuana law in the modern era. The following video features Canadian president Stephen Harper outlining the new get tough approach on drugs, with questions remaining on the fate of Canada’s medical marijuana program and the patients who use it for medicine.Harper Drug Strategy: What about Medical Marijuana?

Headline: May 2, 2008CN BC: Expert Testifies Cannabis Helps Slow Aging – Meanwhile last May,  during a trial of a man accused of growing marijuana in British Columbia,  the defense called a witness from the United States – Dr. Bob Melamede, a biology professor at the University of Colorado,  to explain how Cannabis has benefits for the mind and body. In the following video from Cannabis TV, Dr. Melamede explains the anti-aging actions of Cannabis and the “Endo-Cannabinoid system” – the body’s mechanism for maintaining balance in an unbalanced world.Surviving ALS with Cannabis, # 3 – with Dr. Bob Melamede

 

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” – Carl Sagan

Headline: Feb.14.08Steves, ACLU Join Forces for Pot Law Reform – The host of the popular PBS travel series, “Rick Steves’ Europe” is working with the American Civil Liberties Union to educate the public to the urgent need for change in America’s marijuana laws. Together, they have produced, “Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation“, a new television broadcast debuting in the state of Washington:Marijuana: It’s Time For A Conversation [Part 1 of 3]

Now on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Rick Steves’ experience in Europe is the primary reason he feels compelled to criticize America’s war on marijuana, having seen firsthand that a decriminalization approach is superior and that we need to follow the European trend of differentiating between “hard” and “soft” drugs.

nml.gifIn this video from the 2007 NORML Convention in Los Angeles, CA, Rick Steves speaks to Dean Becker, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the Drug Truth Network, about concerns of law enforcement,  the European model of treating Cannabis use as a health issue – not a criminal one, and his  view of the general use of marijuana as a civil rights issue.Rick Steves Smokes Pot – DrugTruth.net

The American Civil Liberties Union has also seen the civil rights issue in the drug war, including racial disparities and violations of the Bill of Rights. According to ACLU research,  $7.5 billion is spent annually for marijuana law enforcement in America, with 830,000 arrested each year.

Formerly Executive Director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser is now President of the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform organization working for reform of all drug laws. The DPA held it’s 2007 annual convention in New Orleans, drawing attention to the racial unfairness of the drug war. In this video from DPA, Ira Glasser speaks to a local television reporter about these issues.War on Drugs is the New Jim Crow in New Orleans

Rick Steves has been an outspoken advocate of change in marijuana laws for five years, even appearing at the Seattle Hempfest, the largest gathering of Cannabis advocates and culture in the world. In this video, Rick Steves tells the 2007 Hempfest crowd last August that we need to “Get Smart about Drugs”Rick Steves at Seattle HempFest 2007

Rick always points out that the current “War on Drugs” is nothing but prohibition all over again, with no better results than alcohol prohibition. Indeed, the drug war is in many ways worse than alcohol prohibition (which actually was decriminalization) and has no easy way out, like repeal in 1932. The current prohibition/industrial complex is an entrenched bureaucracy of titanic proportions, consuming around a billion dollars per week (combined state and federal). As federal funding winds down due to lack of resources, the American public must find creative ways out of the mess wrought by the drug warriors. If we don’t, chaos will ensue as we are left with the lawlessness of the prohibition, with no tools to confront it and no guidance to find our way out.

ben2.jpgThere never was a good war or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin (1773)