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
Some ground breaking mild green analysis by a Minister of Health just as proposed to Healthy Christchurch, a 'home grown' public health based social policy now adopted by an EU State? Looks good enough for here, how about the rest of New Zealand, Mr Brash?
<>by Artur Radosz, Centre des m�dias alternatifs du Qu�bec (CMAQ) Excerpted
After analyzing the enormous social and health-related costs of criminalising the personal use of drugs, which resulted from decisions made in 2000, 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 appoarch. 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.� Dr. Balicki stated that criminialisation of drug possession caused much harm to society and didn't produce any positive results. This rational analysis by 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.
Copyright � 2005, Centre des m�dias alternatifs du Qu�bec. All rights reserved.
� The active ingredient in marijuana, THC (�tetra�hydro�can�a�bin�ol�) is readily absorbed by body fat, and is only slowly released over a period of many days or weeks. The THC accumulates in brain tissue, the nervous system, around the heart, around the heart, and in the sexual organs.
� THC affects a woman's eggs: some eggs are killed or poisoned and others are mutated. Babies born to pot�smoking women tend to have lower intelligence, increased behaviour problems, poorer memories and decreased attention spans.
� After a user learns to interpret the mental and physical effects of taking the drug, increasing amounts must be used to get the same �high�.
� Flashbacks can occur for months after a person stops smoking pot.
Woman who smoke pot while pregnant can permanently damage their developing babies in the same way that alcohol produces �fetal alcohol syndrome� babies.
� If a girl has intercourse with a boy who is using marijuana, she is at increased risk of getting cervical cancer.
� The THC absorbed into the brain remains trapped inside the brain case and deposits as a thick yellowish layer on the forebrain, where it has serious effects on the brain, including shrinking brain tissue.
� Pot is NOT �good for you because it is organic�. Pesticides and most other poisons are also organic.
� Young pot smokers are getting cancers that are normally only found in old, long�time cigarette smokers. Such cancers include cancer of the tongue, larynx, mouth, jaw, lungs, neck and head.
� One to three joints each day leads to an impaired immune system, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
The science of bullshit and drug education, you bet!
Mary Anne Erickson [ Drug-free zones do work, 7 jan 05] pride in her child's school and credit to the police are just good intentions. Erickson's aspirations for drug free environments seem founded on the belief that doing anything at all is better than doing nothing. The writer shares in common with Ms. Erickson the view that school is no place for drugs, but is "Just say no to drugs" working?, evidence suggests otherwise. The bottom line is that the majority of high school youths will go on to try drugs, a statistic that doesn't vary significantly in drug-tested vs non-tested, or DARE, non- DARE schools suggesting it maybe the stakeholders who need a reality check. When we broad-brush drug education and try and reach kids 'ever younger', all we do is create the false illusion that all there peers are doing it and thus incentivise counter productively early drug entry where schools become the social locus. We thus produce the very problem we set out to prevent. When did the Police tell you that?
The POLICE are not educators of note, having little training in the subject and on drug issues are deeply 'politicized by morality' in spite of scientific rigor, best practice and lots of our money. Fortunately, law makers and enforcers are not all incapable of the required critical thinking that we applaud in students (and teachers). That is why organizations such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc) came to exist. Educators for Sensible Drug Policy and many other NGO's seek to inform and engage the community on how 'prohibitory practices' invoke dangerous double standards towards alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs and impacts on harm reduction/minimisation efforts in relation to illicit drugs AND other risk taking behaviors. What we have now is mob rule reasoning, failing our students, parents, peers, siblings AND Police!.
Inquiring minds may benefit from seeking out �"Making Sense of Student Drug Testing, Why Educators are saying No." [Gunja, Cox, Rosenbaum, Appel. Jan 04]. Drugs in schools can only be solved by a whole of community re-examination of what works and what doesn't. All indications are for a beyond prohibition approach, empowered and without impediment, enabling a credible integrated 'health promotion' curriculum that incorporates the required knowledge for life, beyond the school gate.
Just say know for life choices!.
sig. Blair Anderson,
Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (NZ)
Letter to the Editor,
Nanaimo News Bulletin,
January 10, 2005
Dear Sir, Madam
Education, Drugs and Mob Politics.
Writer, Tom Bishop [Enforcement, education needed, NNB, Jan 8] infers successful outcomes from school drug testing. If evidence is the basis for this invasive practice then both Police, Schools and community are dreaming. Mr. Bishop commences to ask the right questions "What subject or situation have their policies failed?", but defensively launches a straw man attack on Russell Barth's reasoning. The bottom line is that the majority of high school youths will go on to try drugs, a statistic that doesn't vary by much more than 'under reporting variations' in tested vs non tested schools, suggesting it maybe the stakeholders who need a reality check.
The POLICE are not educators of note, having little training in the subject and on drug issues deeply 'politicized by morality' in spite of scientific rigor, best practice and lots of our money. However, law makers and enforcers are not all incapable of the required critical thinking that we applaud in students (and teachers). That is why organizations such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc) came to exist. Educators for Sensible Drug Policy and many other NGO's seek to inform and engage the community on how school drug testing based on mob rule reasoning fails everyone including Police. Inquiring minds may benefit from seeking out �Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students� Drug Use,� [NYT, 17 May 03.], or "Making Sense of Student Drug Testing, Why Educators are saying No." [Gunja, Cox, Rosenbaum, Appel.Jan 04].
Drugs in schools can only be solved by a whole of community re-examination of what works and what doesn't. All indications are for a beyond prohibition approach, empowered and without impediment, enabling an integrated 'health promotion' curriculum that incorporates the required knowledge for life, beyond the school gate.
Just say know for life choices!.
sig. Blair Anderson,
Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (NZ)
Firstly, thank you for your work, comment and insight on AF.
There is no question in my mind that the core issue driving AF is flawed and failed drug policy, and parlous analysis of the underlying implications. No other area of public policy is more susceptible to the potential for gross injustice, while it lends itself to the political whimsy of those who pander to fears and moral panic in our society as they continue to offer in exchange for votes, endless solutions that never produce results.
Lawrence Reed, a visiting speaker for MAXIM Institute back on 2003, while speaking on the **Seven Principles of Civil Society was asked how he reconciled 'his core principles' with applied drug policy. Larry identified asset forfeiture as one of drug policy at its most dangerous. The Michigan think tank he represents (*MACKINAC) have published useful insight into how bad things can get and inquiring reader can find more at http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=792
Only wholesale reform of the injustice system that feeds off current drug policy and policing (where standards of evidence went out the window years ago) will we nullify any need for the state to be so belligerent with its unlimited resources, targeting the 'easy pickins' - for that is all it will do.
I have heard politicians use the phrase "send a clear message" so many times now that it gives me a sore head!
If AF debate becomes political anti-crime fodder ... pass the codiene! Its all we are going to hear.
The taxing of illegal substances especially prevelent marijuana, purportedly to aid 'voluntory compliance' and revenue for law enforcment is laughable. This administrative absurdity is predicated on a drug war that has failed on their watch. Law administrators desire to be rewarded for creating the very trade they incentivised, subsidised by the illicit differential. It will entrench the war on some substances and enable targeting of low level consumers as the size of the net shrinks. Mayhem will ensue. Deviancy amplification will now be associated with tax avoidance and mere 'cash' will become suspicious. Police, money and drugs corrupt as authority asserts its right to be right. This circular tautology is at the expense of people who have nothing to do with drugs.
/Blair Anderson, New Zealand
(I would be greatful if you could inform me when you publish this response. Thank You)
If you had a research brief to determine how many users are drivers, rather than drivers are users, and the brief required a high standard of self report, then best this drug of prevalence be re-accounted in the epidemiology data.
The fact that cannabis or marijuana as it is disparagingly referred, appears in research as a low contributor to traffic incidence and injury .
Furthermore cannabis attributes as a medicine appears to contribute less dangerous driving effects than many prescription drugs, let alone alcohol.
Use and thus displacement of other harms, including alcohol related harms to others unrelated to driving may on a cost - benefits analysis prove to be very enlightening.
All indications are that this important data is being masked by the endless chatter about the evilness of impaired "dual diagnosis" drivers.
In our headlong rush to enforced civility we may be overlooking the benefits to society at large of having for the greater part wilful compliance supported by credible public health preventative messages. It has been identified that cannabis prohibition gets in the way of applied Ottawa "Where there are impediments to health promotion, remove them." principles.
There may well be substantial social capital in a beyond prohibition model.
Such capital will never be found while the current paradigm based on 'some chemicals are inherently evil' holds dominion over the data and how it is presented to the public.
No self respecting social scientist seems willing to dare question cannabis's unique role or its attendant potentials. There are many drug law reform minded readers who will recognise that cannabis prohibition is a public health anathema responsible for many (most) outcomes and costs it was intended to limit. However, few will recognise the role and importance to the drug war its illicit status is to keeping cannabis vilified.
As a drug of relatively little social harm its prevalence serves prohibitors well, Legislators, Politicians, Health Nazi's, Moral wowsers and a host of other stakeholders can, as in the driving data, and its interpretation blame cannabis for everything that is wrong.
Suggestion of reform is meet with 'it is the thin edge of the wedge" - yet according to the alcohol and other social cost data where we cost in those innocently hurt into the driving data it begins to become apparent.
The double standards in drug policy ARE identified as a likely impediment to credible health promotion. Reform may well be the thick end of the intoxicating solution space than any thin edged dangerous wedge. "Enable Education" is the key phrase I read into both the recent Canadian Senate Inquiry and the New Zealand Health Select committee Inquiry of 1998 (http://mildgreens.com/inq1.htm)
Neither report supports a case for maintaining a drug by drug approach to management of abuse and misuse. On road or off. While both reports acknowledge the need for further and continuing research and reference driving research in particular , the reader of the driving data and media reports where cannabis 'driving' has been cited could be forgiven for being fearful.
A fearful driver, is more likely to support random drug testing and not question the efficacy or efficiency. Yet any A&E primary care will attest to the daily alcohol related mayhem, while we, the public are asked to react emotionally to incomplete data in reports such as "has been been taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana". (see Mourners wonder why four had to die in wreck, Crash on Interstate 5 devastates 3 families : http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?j252830682&w=662120
While it may not hold true in this case, statistics suggest if alcohol was involved, it, not cannabis, would have been the leading contributor to non-performance or driving deviancy leading to this sorry tragedy.
We will never get a handle on prevalence of social tonics of an illicit nature while it is predicated on that cannabis is not a soft drug and thus deserving of zero tolerance while alcohol has a proven impairment baseline and yet self report carries no negative consequences. (cannabis only requires presence of metabolites, there is no proof of impairment. )
Proponent for enabled health promotion, fiscal responsibility, education, growth management, traffic and transportation, public safety and the environment.
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If you want to know more, Google "Blair Anderson" with a keyword of your concerns. ie: 'climate', 'science', 'justice', 'particulates' or 'drugs'.