Thursday, 30 May 2013

Women fighting for their lives after taking “contaminated” cannabis as Gardai issue warning

This is just one of the many reasons why the cultivation and sale of cannabis should be legalised.
This just does not happen when cannabis is available at controlled outlets such as Dutch Coffeeshops, Spanish, Belgian or other Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC's), US clinics, on prescription such as in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy or even the Indian Government Hash shops.
It could only happen when commercial distribution is controlled by greedy crooks that want to boost their profits by adding dangerous substances - there have been stories of everything from boot polish and solvents to ground glass and ground up pills.

Women fighting for their lives after taking “contaminated” cannabis as Gardai issue warning
Irish Independent, May 30 2013

TWO women are fighting for their lives after taking “contaminated” cannabis.
The women, both in their 20s – one of whom is understood to be a mother – are in intensive care in hospital today.
Gardai have expressed concern that more drug users could be at risk from the same toxic batch of drugs.
The women, who do not know each other, presented separately to the same hospital in Drogheda. One 25-year-old is said to have “catastrophic” injuries and is suffering from multiple organ failure.
Last night gardai confirmed that two women from Louth are in a life-threatening condition after taking a drug. Both are in the intensive care unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
The women are understood to have first taken ill on Monday night of this week.
One of the women has not regained consciousness since being brought into hospital and is on life support.
The second woman became seriously ill in the early hours of yesterday morning and “the symptoms are far too serious to have been caused by cannabis on its own,” said one source.
Gardai are desperately investigating the source of the cannabis – which may have been mixed with a synthetic drug – to establish if there is a bad batch of drugs currently on the streets of the North East.
Follow-up searches of two houses in Drogheda and mid-Louth resulted in some cannabis being seized which is being tested to identify what it contains. However it is believed that it can be difficult to detect synthetic drugs in these tests.
Last night Superintendent Gerry Smith, at Drogheda Garda Station, said: “We are concerned that other people who use cannabis may suffer the same effects.”
Irish Independent

Saturday, 25 May 2013

10 Years for 10 grammes of cannabis in Ghana Shock.

How sad in this day when so many people are suffering at the hands of real and heavy criminals yet your country locks up a man for a small amount of plant material when it does not sound like he has harmed anyone. Reading the news and it seems that cannabis could actually be one of the most versatile and beneficial plants on earth and certainly not the dangerous narcotic Ugandan law seems to suggest.
May 25 2013

A carpenter caught with 10.58 grammes of cannabis has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in hard labour by the Juaso Circuit Court presided over by Mr. Alex Obeng Asante.
Kwadwo Yeboah was arrested by the Juaso Neighbourhood Watch Committee on December 5, last year, and pleaded guilty to the offence of possessing narcotic drugs.
Police Inspector Manasseh Obimpeh told the court that members of the committee were on routine patrol when they spotted the convict smoking what they suspected to be cannabis at about 0200 hours.
He said the members decided to confront him but on seeing them, Yeboah attempted to flee but was apprehended and a search conducted on him uncovered two wraps of dried leaves in his pocket and was handed over to the police together with the exhibit.
Police Inspector Obimpeh said a sample of the substance was sent to the Police Forensic Laboratory in Accra for examination and was confirmed to be cannabis.


Drugs ban teacher: Pot helped me to plan lessons .... You should have stuck with booze Mr Taylor

You should have stuck with booze Mr Taylor as I am sure so many of your fellow-teachers have done!

What a shame that you have been judged on what harmless victimless activities you choose for inspiration in your "free" time and not the quality of your lessons.

Mr Taylor, having been punished once already, by the courts, for breaking a nonsense and unjustifiable law, is being punished yet again.

It is about time this law was changed.

Wigan Today
May 25 2013

A SCIENCE teacher rapped for growing cannabis has claimed smoking weed helped him create better lessons for his pupils.
Alan Taylor, who taught at Westleigh High, claimed Britain’s drugs policy is “immoral” and “corrupt”.
Taylor, from Atherton, was excluded from teaching for at least five years by a disciplinary panel after admitting he grew and consumed the drug at home.
Alan, who had been teaching science at Westleigh High School, was disciplined by the education authorities for the second time over his use of cannabis, after being sentenced to community work last March by Wigan magistrates,
However, Alan has now launched a robust defence of his personal lifestyle, saying that eating a cake or biscuit containing small quantities of cannabis is no different to drinking a glass of wine in the evening.
He also strongly criticised Government policy towards drugs, claiming it ignores scientific evidence and is based on protecting the interests of large businesses rather than safeguarding public health. Alan, 43, said: “It’s a matter of my private life and not something that should be discussed in public. Now that it’s been brought out I could go along with the party line, which would be a lie, or I can choose to tell the truth.
“My position and belief is for a policy based on rationality and evidence, which seems to me reasonable and consistent views for a science teacher to hold.
“The prohibition of drugs is a product of corrupt government. Cannabis has a lot of medicinal uses and I personally know people who’ve used it to treat conditions including epilepsy, cancer and diabetes, but it is made illegal because of big pharmaceutical companies lobbying the government.
“Cannabis has been used in medicine for about 10,000 years, and it’s only since the 1930s in America that it started being banned. The prohibition was based on racism, because it was primarily a relaxant of the black man, and also due to competition between ethanol made from hemp and oil. Cannabis was a threat both to the pharmaceutical industry and to the oil business.
“When I was teaching I found it helped me plan lessons. It sounds like a ‘60s stereotype but it produces what is called latent inhibition, which allows you to see a sense of wonder in things, and as a teacher you are trying to create that sense.”
Alan, who said he began taking cannabis around two decades ago, is also trying to debunk some of the negative social and health perceptions which surround the drug, comparing its effects to alcohol.
He said: “At the 2006 European football championships, when England played in Amsterdam they watered down the beer and opened up the coffee shops. The police praised the fans for how wonderfully they behaved.
“They then went to Belgium where they had access to a lot of strong alcohol and there were riots in the streets. That sums up the difference between cannabis and alcohol, for me.
“Statistics stress there has never been a single death from cannabis. There are thousands every year from alcohol.
“People often say cannabis makes you paranoid, but I’ve been to Holland and gone in the coffee shops and have experienced none whatsoever. In terms of addiction, there’s a greater risk through mixing cannabis with tobacco and smoking it.
“That can bring people into nicotine addiction, whereas I’ve never experienced any ill effects from eating cannabis and have gone for long periods without it.”
Alan is particularly scathing about current laws allowing criminal enterprises to control the supply of drugs on to the market, saying a regulated, legalised system would reduce the health effects of contaminated cannabis, make it easier to prevent young people getting their hands on drugs.
However, he does not want to become a public campaigner to change the law, hoping changing opinions on the street about substances such as cannabis will eventually make the present situation untenable.
He said: “Drugs have no place in the lives of children. No-one should be taking any substance until their brains are fully formed.
“At the moment all a young person needs to find out about cannabis is a £10 note, and that can’t be right. Seeking it out at the moment can also expose them to criminal elements, and possibly to other more dangerous substances.
“That’s why I grow cannabis myself, if I had gone out and bought it I would have been supporting organised crime.
“I just want to get on with my life, I would rather it hadn’t been interrupted by this. I would like to go back into teaching if I can.”
“I’ve lost my career because of the current policy, but people on harder drugs in Leigh have lost their lives, and this is minor in comparison.”

NORML UK Conference is huge success BY Deej Sullivan

NORML UK Conference is huge success

Deej Sullivan

Wednesday 22 May 2013

On Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th of May 2013, NORML UK held its inaugural AGM and conference at the Malcolm X Community Centre in Bristol. The event included eminent speakers including Tom Lloyd (ex-Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police), Annie Machon (ex-MI5 agent) and Rowan Bosworth-Davies (ex-Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police), among others, and drew cannabis campaigners and supporters of drug law reform from across the British Isles and beyond.

All of this was the culmination of the hard work put in over the last 12 months since NORML UK's inception, and the great success of the weekend in bringing everyone together and galvanising thoughts and ideas into actions, will hopefully lead to another huge 12 months ahead of us.

The festivities kicked off on Saturday morning with the AGM where members were asked to vote for nominations to the various executive positions within NORML. Thankfully for those of us who had journeyed to Bristol that morning and were perhaps a little bleary-eyed and in need of a strong coffee and a sativa, the formalities were dealt with swiftly and in typical toker fashion. All incumbents were reelected, although there were a few new positions added and voted on and one or two names of positions were changed. Details of those will be released separately.

After the AGM, the first of many breaks was announced and most people moved outside where some gazebos had been erected. The atmosphere was extremely friendly and chilled out as everyone got to know the many new faces that had come along, and caught up with old friends from within the movement. The loudest voice amongst all of this was of course Des Humphrey, who ensured that everybody he saw was given a welcome befitting an event such as this.

Once everyone was thoroughly refreshed, the conference was officially opened and everyone given a warm welcome by Amirah Cole from The Malcolm X Community Centre, Chris Bovey, Jo Moss and Greg de Hoedt from NORML UK. It was then time to welcome the first guest speaker - Tom Lloyd. Tom is an ex-Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire police and has written and spoken at length on the issue of prohibition and why he believes it is a costly, extremely dangerous and harmful waste of time, money and resources. His speech went on for a little longer than the allotted 45 minutes but no one seemed to mind, such was the passion with which he spoke. The crowd lapped it up and the resulting applause was probably the biggest ever given by a bunch of weed smokers to a chief constable.

Following Tom Lloyd (and lunch, which was delicious) was never going to be easy. That task fell to Mat Southwell, an 'International Drug User Activist & Drug Specialist', who has spent much of his adult life campaigning for the rights of "hard" drug users. I think it's safe to say he succeeded, in a big way. The similarities between his goals and those of NORML are obvious, and he was at pains to ensure that we heed the lessons he and his colleagues have learnt. Again, the audience was exceptionally attentive and were clearly impressed by Mat's energy, enthusiasm and most of all his bravery in standing up to the big shots at the UN and being open about his drug use.
Annie Machon speaking at the NORML UK cannabis campaign AGM at the Malcolm X Centre, Bristol, May 2013.

Annie Machon

Next up was Ayesha Mian, President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. SSDP are an organisation of students working within communities trying to educate young people, with the aim of enabling them to make informed decisions about drug use based on evidence rather than the propaganda fed to them by the media. Her speech focused on the effects of cannabis on young people and on how best to make sure, as a movement, that we do everything we can to protect young people from the potential dangers of cannabis use.

The final speaker of the day was Annie Machon, ex-MI5 intelligence officer and current director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) Europe. Drawing on her varied exper­i­ences in her career, Annie eloquently spoke about the failure of prohibition and the war on drugs.

Later on Saturday evening came the possibly more exciting prospect (to some anyway) of live music followed by a performance from none other than Mr Nice himself - Howard Marks. The music came in the form of KSH and the Going Goods; a five-piece hip-hop group from the west of England whose blend of acoustic rap and beat-boxing mirrored the laid-back vibe of the conference perfectly and went down a storm.

The main event of the evening was of course Howard Marks. By the time he took to the stage not one person in the building was giving their attention to anything other than him; such is the level of respect he commands within the cannabis community. Despite some minor technical glitches Howard gave a predictably brilliant performance; regaling the audience with excerpts from his sell out stage show, including the story of his first meeting with the infamous IRA arms dealer James McCann, who helped Howard smuggle Hashish from Kabul, Afghanistan to Shannon, Ireland. One got the impression that many had heard these stories before, either from reading Howard's autobiography Mr Nice, or watching the film of the same name. However it was clear that nothing quite compared to hearing the words from his own mouth, and when he was finished he received possibly the most rapturous applause of the weekend from a crowd who were clearly going to be going home happy.

The following day, the conference was opened by one of Britain's longest-standing cannabis activists, Free Rob Cannabis, who runs the Hemp in Avalon store in Glastonbury and has been well known on the cannabis activism scene since for around 20 years. Free, who changed his name by deed poll to "Free Rob Cannabis" gave an enlightening talk about the many uses of the hemp plant and his view that this is the most beneficial plant given to us on the planet. Free finished his talk with a poem about the hemp plant, which he apparently wrote on the bus on the way to the conference.

After Free was perhaps the most moving speaker of the conference, Rowan Bosworth-Davies, a former Detective Inspector in the fraud squad of the Metropolitan Police. Like Tom Lloyd, Rowan said he didn't personally use drugs, however drawing on his experience as a law enforcement officer, he spoke passionately about how counterproductive prohibition is and how it is a costly waste of money that allows criminals to get very rich by exploiting an unregulated black market that in his view would be better served if it was taken out of the hands of the gangsters and controlled by governments. Rowan said he was interested in harm reduction and putting the criminals out of business. He also said it was disgraceful that nobody had been arrested at HSBC for laundering millions of pounds of drug money, even though this is absolutely illegal under British law. He found it obscene that the boss of HSBC didn't get his door kicked down and unceremoniously taken to the police cells, yet at the same time, ill patients risk this on a daily basis for simply growing their own medicine.

Both Tom Lloyd and Rowan Bosworth-Davies spoke of the need to break down stereotypes. They said just as it is wrong to view all pot smokers as lazy unmotivated long haired scroungers who just want to get high, it is equally wrong to see all police officers as fascist bastards. They spoke of the many good people in the police service who are doing a job they are paid to do to the best of their abilities, many of whom would also agree prohibition doesn’t work.

Delicious Caribbean food was again served up to delegates, courtesy of the Malcolm X Centre, before the final afternoon session, which started with a very interesting presentation from Gary Sutton, head of the Release Drugs Team. Gary’s presentation focussed on the laws surrounding cannabis and the difficulties he faces as an expert witness in court cases, often due to police negligence and/or incompetence. Many of his frustrations at police procedure were echoed by members of the audience, and his speech quickly became more of an open forum. The main point to come from this seemed to be that we need to understand our aims more fully from the other side if we are to make progress. By working within sentencing guidelines and using what we know about police procedure to our advantage, as well as holding police to account when procedure is not followed correctly, it should be possible to at least make our lives a little easier if and when we are caught in breach of the law.

The conference ended with a speech from Greg de Hoedt, NORML UK’s Outreach Director and founder of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs. Greg is himself a medicinal user, who medicates with cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of Crohn's Disease. Greg gave a brief overview of how he came to be involved in the cannabis movement in the UK; from discovering that cannabis relieved the symptoms of his disease, to his travels to the USA where he worked within the legal medical marijuana industry and saw first hand the great positive consequences that regulation can bring, as well as the negatives that can come from not having enough regulation. Finally, Greg spoke about the cannabis social club movement in Europe and his desire to see the same kind of mass disobedience in the UK; nothing will change until we stop talking and start taking action to take back our medicine or recreational drug of choice from the criminals who control it now, and force the Government to accept that we are not the problem, but the solution.

Overall, the event was considered a resounding success. NORML UK spokesman, Des Humphrey said, "It was so good to see so many friends and like-minded people gather for a cause we all so passionately believe in. The calibre of the speakers was second to none and I would like to thank them for making it such an informative and memorable event. I would also like to thank the young lads who brought along so much equipment to film the entire conference and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the footage.

"The first ever NORML conference in Europe has really put NORML UK on the map and we look forward to organising many more such about events, to help bring about real positive change in the UK on the cannabis issue," said Mr Humphrey.

NORML UK AGM Report 18th May 2013

I very much enjoyed attending this first Conference of NORML UK, enjoyed meeting many new faces and the energy of the campaigners, in particular the many excellent speakers.

NORML UK AGM Report 18th May 2013

Jo Martin Moss

Friday 24 May 2013

The NORML UK Board would like to thank all of you, our members, who attended the AGM and voted in person or voted online. We feel, and all the feedback received to date would indicate, that everyone who attended the NORML UK weekend event not only learned many new things, but thoroughly enjoyed themselves too.

The majority of NORML UK board members stood for re-election during the AGM, however not all to the same post or job title. The make-up of our Board and volunteer team has now changed and is as follows:

Des Humphrey has stood down from the position of Executive Director. We currently have no-one willing to take on this role, and as the role is a demanding one that our team is managing well enough without, we are content to wait until someone suitably qualified and available comes forward.

Des is now taking on the position of Community Outreach Director (Wales), where he tells us he will be much happier now he won’t have to attend loads of Skype board meetings! Chris Mackenzie is joining NORML UK in a similar role as Community Outreach Director (Scotland), and Greg De Hoedt retains his position of Communications & Community Outreach Director for England. All three of these regional roles will provide a direct link with the UKCSC network for mutual sharing of information and support, and regional media contacts.

Jo Martin Moss has been confirmed as both Deputy Director and Secretary, but is actively seeking someone to take on the Secretary role to enable her to concentrate on co-ordinating all of the ongoing projects and implementing new initiatives and strategies for the future of NORML UK. We have had applicants already, but more qualified administrative volunteers are welcome.

Chris Bovey was confirmed as Treasurer and Webmaster, Tina Mendes as Medical Campaign Director and Matt Aldridge as Harm Reduction Campaign Director.

Toby Denney has stood down as Research Director, and Andy Bishop was voted in to take-over the role, which has left his previous position as Organisations Outreach Director temporarily vacant, and we are seeking volunteers for this.

Free Rob Cannabis was voted in as Director of Education during a separate members’ vote on Sunday. We welcome Free to our team and he will be working alongside the Research and Harm Reduction teams to produce specific evidence-based educational material.

Lowell Wolfe was confirmed in his role, formerly titled Spiritual & Sacramental Campaign Director but which was changed on discussion with the Board to Civil Rights Campaign Director, in order to more accurately describe the position.

Sarah McCulloch had decided to leave her role as Political Lobbying Director in order for someone else to be elected to replace her at the AGM – however, no candidate came forward and Sarah will continue to oversee our political activity and support the rest of the Board, with her enthusiasm reignited by the success of the weekend conference. Let's hope we can continue the momentum, keeping Sarah and her considerable talents on board for the foreseeable future.

Richard Shrubb has been confirmed as Media & Public Relations Director; Richard is a professional journalist who has previously written a number of articles for the NORML UK blog.

At our next Board meeting, the officers of the Board will choose three of their number to form the Executive Committee, who will meet regularly to make day-to-day decisions for NORML UK according to our by-laws.

In non-Board positions, Stuart Harper has been welcomed as an advisor to the medical campaign team. We are also very pleased that in the wake of our conference, a number of qualified and enthusiastic volunteers have come forward to take on roles as writers, researchers, editors and general assistants within our rapidly expanding campaign teams.