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

Friday, April 29, 2005

Massey on Meth and other stuff

The supply and demand model describes how pric...Image via Wikipedia

The economics of illicit drug markets
[ Click here to download a PDF of the original printed version of this story ]
In a kind of convenient shorthand, people often refer to Dr Chris Wilkins as an illicit-drug researcher. This is true, as far as it goes, but a more adequate description would be that he is a New Institutional Economist with a particular interest in stateless economic systems such as illicit drug markets.
New Institutional Economics (NIE) is an economic school which studies the role institutions play in economic behavior and performance. These include formal institutions such as the law and the state, and informal institutions such as social custom, norms of behavior and ideology. “ NIE looks at the institutional context of economic behaviour,” explains Wilkins. “It looks beyond the workings of demand, supply and pricing to examine how institutions, property rights, social convention and transaction and information costs affect the decision-making of economic actors and the performance of economic systems.”
New Institutional Economics is particularly suited to the study of ‘stateless economies’: economies where there is no state to enforce contracts or property rights, and this includes illicit drug markets. In his PhD thesis Wilkins looked at the workings of cannabis markets, where, in the absence of legal enforcement and remedies, cheating might be expected to be widespread. But Wilkins found these markets were typified by generally reliable transacting between buyers and sellers. The reason, says Wilkins, lies in the search and information costs associated with these exchanges. “ In the legal economy exchange is generally impersonal. In the supermarket you don’t know the person at the till and you may not even deal with cash. In the cannabis black market the buyer typically knows the seller, can inspect the product, and hands over cash. It is very personal, very face-to-face.”Circulation in macroeconomicsImage via Wikipedia
“In the clandestine illicit drug market it can be quite difficult for buyers and sellers to find one another. Legal commodities are advertised, and there are public retail outlets. In the cannabis market it is difficult to obtain information about the location of sellers, and the quality and prices of products. It takes some effort even for experienced buyers to assess the options available in the market. This means that in cannabis markets both the buyer and the seller make a significant time investment in the exchange relationship, and that constrains cheating to some extent. If a cannabis seller cheats a customer, then that customer won’t return, and that’s potentially a big loss.”
In a recent paper, Wilkins and Professor Sally Casswell explored the role gangs play in outdoor cannabis cultivation in New Zealand. The analysis in the paper suggests that gangs are unlikely to have complete monopoly control of cannabis cultivation – cannabis is too easy to cultivate and rival cannabis cultivators and cannabis crops too hard to deter and detect – though Wilkins is quick to say this does not mean the gangs do not have persuasive advantages elsewhere in the cannabis market, or when it comes to other drugs. In their paper Wilkins and Caswell set out the conditions under which an illicit drug market most favours the involvement of organised crime. These occur where there are cost advantages from larger-scale production, where there is a need for specialised skills, capital equipment or large amounts of start-up capital, and where there are visible targets for violence aimed at discouraging competition. While a few seeds, some potting mix and a secluded patch of ground are all that is required to cultivate cannabis, manufacturing methamphetamine is a much more technical and sophisticated process , says Wilkins. “You need to have access to the appropriate precursor chemicals and have the knowledge and equipment required for manufacture.”
Anecdotally, ‘cooks’ – the amateur chemists who manufacture methamphetamine – have became much sought after. Highly skilled, they can command premiums, and such is the demand that kidnappings are not unknown.Law of Diminishing Marginal UtilityImage via Wikipedia
Stories have circulated that gangs traditionally at odds are co-operating in the methamphetamine market. “Working together may be a rational way of gaining access to rare precursor chemicals and to exchange manufacture techniques.”One of the flow-on effects of the rise in the use of methamphetamine may be to extend the power and influence of New Zealand’s gangs, in much the same way that Prohibition once strengthened the hand of the Mafia in America. If this is happening then it will mirror trends that have been seen internationally. A report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has noted a shift away from “a loose network of independent laboratory operators towards larger organisations able to produce more and better drugs at lower costs. The larger groups are more flexible, and are able to identify and exploit any lucrative business opportunity, as well as any flaws in law enforcement efforts. They assist each other to more efficiently produce, market and distribute their products.”Organised crime - cash flowImage via Wikipedia
Wilkins is the current recipient of a Fast Start grant from the Marsden fund to investigate which illicit drug markets nurture the development of organised crime.

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Darwin Indymedia features the Global Marijuana March

On On Bro....

You and yours in Darwin will be about the closest to Schappelle Corby come May 7
Keep your audience informed. In Christchurch 4:20 on 4/20 was 4: Schappelle
About 60-70 gathered. Not a soul thought this just. Prohibitors should be embarrassed.

Australia smokes 4kgs about every 10 seconds. But consider, NZ just signed a free trade deal with Thailand... where in 90 days they shot thousands of people extra judicially in the streets and just about anywhere...collateral kills, no problem. Anyone on that list of drug dealers - bhang bhang your dead. They didn't stop at 2000, but after that number the figure varies What is known is that innocent people were hurt,maimed and killed..

If this a drug war then Thai's extra judicial drug policy is a war crime.

The NZ Prime Minister, Hon Helen Clarks failure to resolve this debate in her own community and by NZ being a cosignatory to the single conventions [and covenants] that encourages this uncivil act of homegrown terror Clark became a terrorists collaborator. It was her silence and acceptance of the Thai position that allows it and other countries like Indonesia, the 'get tough' and shoot them all justice. It is no different to having a free trade agreement where slavery oraparthied.existed... What kind of 'free trade' can this be.??


>Darwin potheads to join Global Marijuana March

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

A string of straw men - DEA, Release, 04/26/05

Karen Tandy, a DEA administrator and chair of the IACP Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs committee elevates the craft of propaganda to high art.

Pity that its content a fiction created by selective associations and a string of straw men.

Published in the March issue of Police Chief Magazine, an official publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, it claims to represent 'the truth' about cannabis. History may record it as a milestone in the shameful use of exceptions and deceptions to assist Police self interest in prohibition 'at all costs'

Tandy's 'line in the sand' is utterly inconsistent with the considered issues, reports and recommendations by non-aligned civil society organisations the likes of King County Bar Association (washington state)
see drug policy recommendations at

Be afraid, very afraid.

Marijuana: The Myths Are Killing Us

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

420 Times Forums - MayDay 'street action'.

STUFF reports on Police Porn Probe. [,2106,3256297a10,00.html]

National's police spokesman, Tony Ryall, said the ordinary officer on the beat was a "good person" working under difficult circumstances to do the best job he or she could. But the public had lost confidence because of the Government's insistence that they give traffic enforcement a higher priority than other duties.
I can only but speculate then about what Tony Ryall would think of the demoting of Greens candidates. All that Police time not spent looking at porn might be better directed towards 'instant fining' the cannabis constituency via roadside evidential testing. Thats the signal from the Greens.

The Police, to a man, better geta grip on what they are paid for, while those in charge should review how and why they are paid. Then and only then will confidence improve. (oh and dump the bong ban and boyracer anachronisms as an act of goodwill)

Instant fines is a license to unintended police powers and abandons the concept of civil society.
We must compel this conversation in our community, despite prohibitors reticence to discuss.

May Seven is empowering.that process. It gives reform legs.
As has 420, EU/ENCOD and everything else we do

Anderton goes on the block having to explain Class D this week.
We ARE winning. Lets not stop doing what we are doing,... just get better at it.
We are the media absent resources, for there's the fix for drug policy. All actors, no image.

If no one is filming Anderton for national tv then prepare to get wild.
This man has no grounds to stand on. Class D belongs to reform.


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Thursday, April 21, 2005

420 Times Forums - Worlds first 4:20

420 Times Forums - Worlds first 4:20

Well, its true.. on the 20th of April, at 4:20pm in the amphitheatre on "High Street" Christchurch New Zealand, a TXT initiated gathering assembled to draw attention to and protest the cruel and unusual punishment being metered out in Bali (Indonesia) to 27yr old Australian Schapelle Corby who now faces death by firing squad.
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Monday, April 18, 2005

Police shrink as drug gangs get bigger - NZH

So reads the front page in our biggest daily newspaper. It follows the even bigger Weekend Herald edition declaring "Mr Asia was tiddly-winks" also heavily focusing on the 'drug gangs'. While replete with long quotes by Greg O'Conner of the NZ Police Association there is no cognisance that prohibition creates, empowers and protects 'organised crime'. (have these guys learnt nothing??)

Meanwhile the countless 'herbal shops' are doing a roaring trade. They have queues outside at 3:00am that look like nightclubs - people waiting to get in an buy "legal highs'. There are now about 20 of these shops catering to a need, not counting Dairy's and Liquor outlets, even 'mobile street vendors' with vehicles covered in lurid sign writing "Cheap NOS" - and that's just in Christchurch. They are selling herbal highs like "Spice" - a blended smokable 'hightech joint' not unlike that of THC but dearer by far than its illegal counterpart. Clearly, these outlets are trading in the wake of prohibitions artificial subsidy - at about $40 for three joint/equivalents though at that price, even they are less popular than herbal pills, of which millions are consumed. (clearly displacing alcohol...)

It begs the question how long can cannabis remain 'so illegal'?

The case of 4.1kg of cannabis found stuffed loosely into the body
board bag, luggage of 28year old Australian model Schapell Corby is now being
adjudicated in Indonesia. She is accused of importing the pot into Bali (like coals to Newcastle) and is now facing the emotional duress and trauma of death by firing squad.

Even if mitigated to 'life' in a jail, worse.. an indonesian jail is just cruel and unusual punishment. Amnesty International is very concerned about applied drug policy in South East Asia, with death sentences for trafficing less than a kilo of ditchweed among hundreds 'terminated' in Singapore alone. Thailand is recommencing its get tough policy that several years ago saw more than 4000 people extrajudicially dealt to over only 90 days. Usually in public, in a hail of gunfire. Just names on a list. God help your family.

Destiny, United Future, Progressives (where did they get that name from?) and other pretenders to civil society are strangely silent on Corby and the single convention.

4.1Kg is consumed here in NZ 'every minute of every day'(200tons pa.)
Australia smokes 4.1kg about every 10 seconds.(1000ton pa). USA according to last weeks reports from the UN, smokes its way through somewhere between 7000 and 19,000 tons pa. A mere 4.1kg goes up in smoke in less time that it takes a NASCAR to cross the finish line. (2/10ths of a second)

The injustice here is absurd. USA would have to line up and shoot a person at a rate of about 5 souls per second... if the law was upheld proportionate to consumption.

Indonesia's laws are exacting state sanctioned threat, duress, and murder in the name of the US sponsored single conventions.

I hope LEAP and others are regaling this toxic injustice and double standard.

There is hardly a kid in NZ who doesn't see the 'news' and now bears witness to the bitter irony (and thus rejects rule of law) in this displaced effort to rid the world of evil cannabis. And we expect drug education to fall on fertile minds... its a joke if it wasn't so bloody serious.


cc: educators for sensible drug policy

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Drug trade: Long arm of billion dollar drugs business reaches NZ

this will make ya puke. a litany of unintended consequences, no useful
insight or exit strategy, arrggh!

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Friday, April 15, 2005

AUCKLAND : intermediate schools don't have a drug problem

AUCKLAND : intermediate schools don't have a drug problem:

"'We surveyed parents to see what they wanted in the health education programme. Health and self-esteem were rated higher than drugs.'"
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Scoop: Review concludes Nitrous Oxide sales now illegal

Scoop: Review concludes Nitrous Oxide sales now illegal: "Nitrous oxide is a prescription medicine, and under the Medicines Act it is illegal to sell prescription medicines without a prescription from a health professional. To do so would be an offence which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a $1000 fine. There is also an offence to possess prescription medicines without reasonable excuse (penalty is three months in prison or $500 fine)."

NOS is also a common Greenhouse gas, an emmission from diesel combustion. It's climate change contribution falls just behind CO2 and Methane and environmentally a leading contributor to acid rain.

Regretably, everyone is exposed to inhallation of NOS, NOx's, SOx's and a host of other mobile source airborne pollutants - they account by current estimates for 100's of thousands of days of lost productivity due to ill-health and a mortality rate estimated to be double the NZ road toll.

Yet, Associate Minister Jim wants to send to jail otherwise law abiding citizens... despite best practice advice from the NZ and Australian Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychologists not to ignore the unintended negative consequences, costs and loss of benefits from alternative approaches.

The recent combined College's report on Illicit Drugs Policy "using evidence to get better outcomes" tennor is one of urgently re-addressing current and in the case of NOS, new funding for illlicit drug enforcment towards cost-effective interventions which provide the greatest social benefit. This is a clear mandate for [enabling] effective health promotion rather than votecatching but largely inneffective law and order (zero tolerance) per se legislation.

It is no small irony that the Colleges final reommendation is asking government to take a longer term view of community benefits when selecting interventions AND PAY LESS ATTENTION TO SHORT TERM POLITICAL GAIN (my emphasis).


Perhaps youth, if made aware that NOS is a significant climate change emmission, Jim might get a better buy in!
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Sunday, April 10, 2005


Marijuana-Heart-Disease: "Marijuana ingredient slows heart disease progression in mice"


(AP) - Low doses of the main active ingredient in marijuana slowed the progression of hardening of the arteries in mice, suggesting a hint for developing a new therapy in people.

Experts stressed that the finding does not mean people should smoke marijuana in hopes of getting the same benefit.

"To extrapolate this to, 'A joint a day will keep the doctor away,' I think is premature," said Dr. Peter Libby, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The mouse work is presented in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature by Dr. Francois Mach of Geneva University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues. He said in an e-mail that he believed future work will focus on finding drugs that mimic the benefit without producing marijuana's effects on the brain.

Hardening of the arteries sets the stage for heart attacks. Inflammation plays a key role in the condition, characterized by a progressive buildup on the inside walls of blood vessels. So Mach and colleagues explored the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana's main active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

They fed mice a high-cholesterol diet for 11 weeks. About halfway through that period, they started giving some of the mice very low, daily oral doses of THC - too low to produce any marijuana-like changes in behaviour. At the end of the experiment, mice that had gotten the THC showed less blood vessel clogging than did mice that got no THC.

Related work showed no additional benefit from higher THC doses, such as a person would get from smoking marijuana, Mach noted.

Researchers found that the benefit came from THC's effect on immune-system cells. It reduced their secretion of an inflammation-promoting substance and their migration to the vessel wall, researchers found.

It apparently did that by binding to proteins called CB2 receptors, which are found mostly on immune-system cells. THC also targets CB1 receptors, found mostly in the brain. So the work suggests scientists should try to develop a drug that works on CB2 receptors while ignoring the brain receptors, Mach said.

Libby, who did not participate in the study, said the work was valuable for identifying the CB2 receptor as a potential target for treatment in hardening of the arteries, and showing that a natural substance could help.

But he noted that controlling one's weight, exercising and eating right have already been proven to reduce a person's risk of heart attacks and strokes from clogged arteries.

Dr. Edward A. Fisher of the New York University School of Medicine said THC's impact on artery-clogging in the experiment was relatively modest, and that it's not clear that results would apply to people.

� The Canadian Press, 2005
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Friday, April 08, 2005

Intermediate school calls in drug dogs

The New Zealand Herald
08.04.05 by Stuart Dye

An intermediate school is calling in sniffer dogs to search children as young as 11 for fear drugs are finding their way into the playground.
Birkdale Intermediate, on the North Shore, has warned its parents and pupils that "drug dogs" will come to the school to carry out random checks.
A former policeman, now with a private firm, will come with the dogs on an unannounced date to check the pupils and their bags.

Arrggh..drug dogs and kids again. Front-page headlines along with rabid fear mongering by the vested interest treatment and prevention industry is dangerously and counterproductively creating the illusion in ALL Auckland pre-teens that 'all their peers are doing it', now they can't bloody wait.All this in the absence of ANY cannabis at all. Some adult behavior is just incredulous. And we wonder why we have early onset psychosis. Adults are driving kids mad, no drugs required!
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