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May 1996 Cannabis News

2nd May DUMFRIES USER/DEALER APPEAL FAILS
7th May DENMARK SET TO LEGALISE CANNABIS?
8th May N.I. PROBATION SERVICE CALLS FOR REVIEW
14th May GOVERNMENT BACKS HARM REDUCTION, RIGHT-WINGERS FURIOUS
17th May SOW THE SEEDS
31st May PRISONERS SWITCH TO HARD DRUGS


hemp!
2nd May

DUMFRIES USER/DEALER APPEAL FAILS

A young cannabis user who only supplied to her friends and not for profit, has lost her appeal against length of sentence. She made no money from dealing, only cannabis for her own use, but Lord Prosser and Sutherland thought a 2 year jail sentence was "within the scale of the offence". Tracey McNeill, 22, from Dumfries will continue to serve her sentence at Corton Vale until at least March '97. McNeill has used cannabis medicinally in the past, to help her put on weight when she was anorexic.
In March McNeill was convicted of supplying cannabis resin to four others. The sherrif stated that McNeill "was not a dealer in the ordinary sense", was not in it for "financial gain", only supplied to a close circle of friends, and did not introduce anyone to misuse of a drug. He also stated that McNeill's social contacts had influlenced her offence. McNeill said she had started a new life away from these people and had got a job prior to being sentenced.
hemp!
7th May

DENMARK SET TO LEGALISE CANNABIS?

You could soon be enjoying cannabis with your coffee in Copenhagen as well as Amsterdam, as Denmark’s coalition government has taken a step closer to cannabis legalisation. First the Socialist Folk Party passed a resolution calling for the introduction of a Dutch-style coffee shop system. Then the Social Democrat party spokesman on drugs, Poul Quist Jorgensen, welcomed the Socialist Folk Party resolution and said the two parties will work together to allow cannabis coffee shops to open in Denmark.
The Chief Medical officer of Copenhagen, Peter Ege, welcomed the proposals. Writing in the newspaper 'Det Fri Aktuelt' Dr. Ege said the Dutch model should be improved upon by Denmark. The State should take over the growing, distribution and sale of cannabis in order to eliminate the illegal market and prevent profits from falling into the hands of criminals.
However the right wing opposition Christian Democrat Party will oppose the plan. Parliamentary leader, Peter Duestoft, said that "All experience shows that cannabis is the gateway to hard drugs". Despite the Christian opposition, legalisation is a distinct possibility in Denmark, and the Danish model may even be an improvement on the Dutch model.
hemp!
8th May

N.I. PROBATION SERVICE CALLS FOR REVIEW

The probation service in Northern Ireland have called for a commission to investigate every aspect of drugs, including legalisation of 'soft' or 'social' drugs. A spokesperson said that the number of people facing court for possession of drugs had doubled in the last year, and that ecstacy and cannabis have been freely available for over 4 years. The Probation Board have also recognised that bringing users to court does not work and are studying "other countries models".
The current probation boards policy on drugs is that if a user they are involved with comes to them for help they will not be reported to the police unless they are dealing or they suspect the user to be involved in drug related crime or that there is a child protection issue.
However Peter Robinson of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) said that the letter of the law should be applied in full and that users coming to the Probation board or any other service for help should be reported and prosecuted. He also said that the Probation Board’s new proposals for a commission and reform are too vague.
hemp!

14th May

GOVERNMENT BACKS HARM REDUCTION, RIGHT-WINGERS FURIOUS

The government are toning down their war rhetoric slightly, with their new drugs campaign and parent's booklet. The initiative backs harm-reduction, concedes the “Just Say No” approach doesn’t work and urges parents to talk and listen to their children. But it was quickly criticised by right-wing tories for giving too much positive and useful information about drugs instead of attacking their use. And it leaves Michael Forsyth’s SAD moral crusade isolated only a week after it was launched.
John Major said that he wanted parents to "absorb and understand" the glossy new 24-page booklet, A Parents' Guide To Drugs And Solvents. In it parents are encouraged not to lecture children or scare them with "shock horror stories" but talk and listen. Dr John Ramsey, a senior government advisor involved with the booklet said: "Providing parents and their children with an honest account of what drugs can do is absolutely vital now. Parents need to be able to start a sensible debate with their children."
Tony Newton, Leader of The House of Commons, who is co-ordinating the campaign, claimed hard-hitting campaigns such as the "Heroin screws you up" initiative proved the tough approach didn't work. "I think the point is to convey credible information," he said. But there was embarrassment for him berfore the launch. His stepdaughter, Verity Gilthorpe, 21, admitted to smoking up to 10 joints per day. Writing in the Sunday Express she said that legalising cannabis would be one way of stopping children from taking harder drugs.
The booklet was attacked by right-wing tories and tabloids because it gives information about the good as well as the bad effects of drugs. "It's a total abdication of their duty to control drugs... a capitulation," Dr Adrian Rogers, Director of the Conservative Family Institute told the Daily Mail. "What the Government has done is to lack the will to control drugs properly, therefore as second best we will provide information". However Paul Betts described the booklet as “excellent”.
hemp!

17th May

SOW THE SEEDS

Cannabis plants may soon be growing wild throughout Britain, as a group of green activists launched their new campaign urging tokers to plant their seeds, rather than throw them away. Scores of brightly-painted biodegradeable balloons containing hundreds of hemp seeds were released from Parliament Hill Fields on Hampstead Heath. The balloons floated across London and the Home counties dropping hemp seeds along the way. Seeds were also distributed at night clubs and festivals. The campaign has the support of The Shamen, Zion Train, Howard Marks and LCC Scotland, among others.
Many guerilla plantings took place as well. Activists planted seeds in Parliament Square under the noses of MP’s and in the flower pots outside police stations. Others threw seeds from car windows onto motorway verges, and scattered seeds in council parks and gardens. Who knows where hemp plants will turn up this summer. By autumn, if all goes to plan, tens of thousands of hemp plants will be drying in the sun across Britain ready for harvesting.
The organisers from the Green Party Drugs Policy and Action Group say their intention is to highlight the many and varied applications of the hemp plant, and to raise awareness of its environmental benefits. Steve Peake, one of the organisers, told The Observer that cannabis is "ridiculously easy to grow. All you need is a little light, some compost and water. It is, after all, a very hardy weed." He claims the campaign is "a response to the lack of open debate about the cannabis issue. We're simply trying to get our voices heard." It is illegal to plant and rear cannabis seeds but not to possess, give away or sell them. The campaigners claim they are simply distributing the seeds. If they grow, it will be an act of God.
hemp!

31st May

PRISONERS SWITCH TO HARD DRUGS

Prisoners are switching from soft to hard drugs to avoid detection in mandatory drug tests, according to research published this week. Because cannabis remains longer in the system prisoners have changed to heroin, which is detectable for a much shorter time. So far 37 per cent of prisoners have tested positive, and served longer sentences.
Mandatory drug testing now exists in all British prisons. 10 per cent of each prison’s inmates are randomly chosen each month, and given a supervised urine test. If the inmate hasn’t given a sample after five hours they can be charged with refusing to give a sample. Both a positive test and a refusal result in loss of remission.
The new figures were published by the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence. When testing was introduced only 9% of positive tests were for opiates. Since then they have risen to 16% while cannabis positive tests have fallen. "The irony is that testing may actually be creating a drug problem in prisons where there was not one before, as people switch from easily detectable cannabis to the less detectable opiates." the ISDD said.
Research has suggested that around 70 per cent of the prison population will take drugs at some stage during their sentances, and that around 15 per cent of prisoners arriving in jail are drug dependent. In some prisons there had been an unofficial toleration of cannabis smoking because prison officers believed it made the inmates more placid. Drug workers working dealing with prisoners have expressed concern that testing can work only if it is part of a comprehensive strategy which includes rehabilitation work for addicts.
hemp!


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