Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

omission of fact and perpetuating myth - facilitating 'moral panic'

Kathryn Cannan
Healthy Christchurch
C/-Community and Public Health
76 Chester Street East
PO Box 1475

Dear Kathryn,

subject: omission of fact and perpetuating myth - facilitating 'moral panic'

This conversation could be summarised... "there is no legitimate debate because... well we just don't want one!"

Re: Seattle, please note: this has the support of the Washington State Public Health Association yet, Healthy Christchurch offers only the pretense the MildGreen Initiative is an uninformed view.

Consider: is this an uninformed view when the Seattle League of Women Voters, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the King County Medical Society and Physicians for Social Responsibility joined by Washington Family Physicians, along with the professional associations of Osteopathic Medical, State Pharmacy, Psychiatric, Psychological, Public Health, Addiction Medicine and the Loren Miller and State Bar Associations support a drug war exit strategy, the medicalisation of all illicit drugs. [ G. JOHNSON / APReuters.]

The strategy, or mildgreen initiative is to "put this health issue on the radar" at the community level, where it should be. (and that's exactly the lesson we can take from the learned folk of Seattle)

While we are grateful for your suggestions and advice, both the NZ Minister of Health and Associate Ministers of Health have all been lobbied and or informed. As has the Ministry of Justice and others. They tell us this is a community and 'political will' issue. Assuredly whatever the 'right strategy', the Mildgreens are committed to worry this bone until its an artifact if necessary.

The enigma is how HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH can unquestionably accept ANY "strategy the government decides to pursue'" when there is evidence that 1:5 adults are non compliant and 2:3 believe the current policy is wrong. We agree, illicit drugs and community best practice is on the political agenda both here in NZ, and internationally. (cf: the United Future's 'we shall not discuss cannabis in this term' conditions of co-operation in the house). However contextualised the community debate, no doubt if this wasnt political asuredly we would be advised to make it so. - The fact remains all ideas have their champions and with the emergent science on our side, it is imperative that policy follow principles.

Consider, it was a Christchurch Judge who put a Christchurch citizen in a Christchurch Jail, now widely viewed as a gross injustice of national concern - see last weeks [march12] LISTENER magazine that has picked up on the local, national and international ramifications related to cannabis therapeutics and public HEALTH. see COX-2 and Neville Listener Mag.!

There is an 'injustice under existing law' petition of 100+ signatories from Ottawa Road, (that's 1 person every 7 meters) that calls into question the community response todate and has serious implications for HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH.

During the public consultation phase of the Health Select Committee reviews on drug policy, specifically cannabis, the writer performed the civic (and unpaid) duty of keeping the committee informed of progress in other jurisdictions. This process continues. The MildGreen Initiative has led weight to the creation of the current Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) and more recently to the "Class-D" herbals classification as proposed by Hon. Jim Anderton the Associate Minister of Health, presently under Health Select Committee review.

HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH would be wise to re-consider its continuing untenable position of exclusionary practice based upon the narrow and ignorant view that 'cannabis law reform is political, promotes drug use, and has no community or institutional support'... or that it is off the agenda when clearly the WORLD VIEW is that its blanket prohibition manifests a matrix of dysfunction with implications for public health across the spectrum. (see links to NEWSCIENTIST "Miracle weed" and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN "the Brains own Marijuana" analysis, reported in and "Classification of Ailments grouped by body system benefited by the use of cannabis" )

In January I reported again via, the EU state of POLAND has....after analyzing the enormous social and health related costs of criminalising the personal use of drugs, the

Ministry of Health has recommended de-criminalization of personal use again.

The new laws would change our policy from the costly and counter-productive �zero-tolerance� model, back to a sensible harm-reduction approach.

Dr. Marek Balicki, Poland�s Minister of Health stated,

�We still have the illusion that if we have criminal punishment for illicit drugs possession, then we will solve the drug problem. Making criminals from young people that have tried drugs is without sense. This is not a good road. We should punish dealers, not their victims.� and adds "that criminialisation of drug possession caused much harm to society and didn't produce any positive results."

This rational analysis by [a] the Department of Health observed that imposing criminal penalties for drug possession hasn't stopped people from using drugs and hasn't made drugs any less available. The new law in Poland also allows for other positive innovations.

A change in the �marijuana� drug law makes it easier for farmers to obtain a permit needed to grow industrial Cannabis, hemp. This broadens the possibilities for hemp in different sectors of our food production, manufacturing industries and trade. Farming organically to produce industrial feedstocks for making paper, food, cloth, building materials, plastics, cosmetics and health products, allows for a major economic shift, with enormous potential for increasing Poland�s resource base.

The advice from other jurisdictions is that the current 'prohibitive' policy framework and convention is failing our communities badly in two ways. Prohibitory enforcment results in denial of benefits as well as being a perpetual creator of problems. It is imperative the public is informed in order to resolve these tensions.

HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH is the correct and appropriate vehicle in which to have this conversation. It is an obligation under your charter irrespective of 'strong views'. The community is the beneficiary.

The steering committee may not have come to terms with this but HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH's collective membership cannot 'close the shutters in defense of the indefensible' without the community paying a price or suffering a consequence. It cannot resonably 'be seen' go to the community in a public consultation role and then pretend there is no public advocacy or worse, exclude 'a view' just because... there is a perception of a political context. And it cannot 'refuse to revisit a decision' in the light of new and compelling information.

Thank you for wishing us good luck, but HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH never did investigate the abhorrent and perverse sexual accusations intended as an assault on the writers dignity by the uniformed POLICE facilitator at last years "healthy christchurch' sponsored COMMUNITY RESPONSE anti-P presentation (and witnessed by 4 female ministry of education officials - table ten / Hagley net ball courts. ) Nor did it explain why the writer was labeled a proselytizer in its widely distributed P-project 'community feedback' report.. while MildGreens were still active participants in HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH.

The sterring Committee was alerted to this egregous conduct 'in its name' laid against a participating signatory, and CHOSE to ignore it. (again contrary to its charter)

The MildGreens didnt put a young girl and former prostitute under directed questioning while under treatment - before an audence of more than a hundred and fifty of her adult peers - embarrasingly contrary to clinical good practice, just to further its 'evil drug' agenda and the public policy aims of the 'secret facilitator' the Department of Internal Affairs.

The MildGreens didnt show outdated and already challenged overhead powerpoints lacking scientific foundations that misrepresent both methamphetamine and other illicit drug harms. The writer has repeatdly asked for the science accreditation for the methamphetamine induced 'holes in the brain image' - easily the worst clinical image of a brain scan this side of the discovery of X-rays.

Whereas, the MildGreens contributed *professorial advice (Roumasett, hawaii university) and a Manawatu Standard editorial discussing the UK Detective Chief Superintendant and former Scotland Yard (narcotics) representative from "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition" [] views to Fielding Rotarians on how Great Britain managed methamphetamine "where we didnt let meth become a problem".

Both 'photocopies' testify how we in New Zealand and in our communities might better understand, manage, intercede and reduce the overall harms from the problem at hand. Further, both documents were consistent with 1996 National Drug Policy "harm reduction'" principles, however attending executive of HC was seen to retrieve and 'bin' these - purportedly as it was unauthorised, prefering ONLY the emotive, scary and unscientific literature of FADE - what kind of public consultation is that?

It has become increasingly clear that by omission of fact and perpetuating myth in respect of drug policy, HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH is facilitating 'moral panic'. This is a serious and grave accusation that undermines the great work done by the many sectors and interest groups participating for whom public policy and drug matters are a non issue.

It is not the MildGreens who are falling short here. Healthy Christchurch's ethical standards and best practice are under scrutiny.

Without the MildGreen Initiative, the public and civic funded HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH is pursuing the unworkable while sacrificing the possible.
Accordingly we are obliged to continue to elevate our concerns in the public arena in the spirit of the 'unfettered contest of ideas'.

The MildGreens respectfully ask that our reiterated and explicit concerns are duly noted by way of a hard copy of this email response be attached to the minutes.

We welcome discussions regarding the reinvitation to join Healthy Christchurch in due course.

/Blair Anderson
Director, Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (
Delegate, United Nations NGO's on drug policy (

cc: health Reporter, Christchurch PRESS.

Kathryn Cannan wrote:

>Hi Blair--Got your phone message. Thanks. Have had the chance to discuss
>your message with the Healthy Christchurch Steering Group. Their responses:
>1--the decision about Mild Greens being a signatory to the Healthy
>Christchurch Charter has been made and will not be revisited;
>2--medicalisation of illicit drugs is not even on the "radar" of public
>health in New Zealand, never mind Christchurch, as it seems to be in
>Seattle. The Group suggests that you may want to get the Minister and
>Ministry of Health to support this stance. If this becomes a strategy that
>the Government decides to pursue, it will be fed down to public health units
>across the country.
>Good luck, Blair.
>Kathryn Cannan
>Healthy Christchurch
>C/-Community and Public Health
>76 Chester Street East
>PO Box 1475
>Ph 03 379 9480 ext 820
>FAX 03 379 6125
>Have a Healthy Christchurch Day!
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