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, June 30, 2006

Just One Word: Fructose

Wired Article

Plastic could be made from a common form of sugar instead of petroleum if the industry adopts a new process developed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

With concern growing over America's reliance on finite resources such as oil, there's mounting pressure to develop renewable sources for traditionally oil-based chemicals and commodities. Researchers have been looking at various plant materials as possible alternatives. But the challenge is to find a process that is also economically competitive with petroleum-based options.

"That's going to be the path forward, using alternative sources for these polymers," said Brent Shanks, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Iowa State University, who did not participate in the research. "But only if they can be produced more cheaply."

The Wisconsin researchers have taken a step in that direction. They discovered a more efficient way to manipulate fructose, creating a chemical that can produce common polymers found in many plastic items including food containers and synthetic fibers such as Mylar.

Making plastic is a multi-step process requiring the production and use of a stew of different intermediate chemicals. One of the most common in the petrochemical industry is terephthalic acid, which is derived from petroleum and is a starting compound for many plastics.

Researchers have known for years that some of these oil-based plastic intermediates could be replaced by compounds derived from plant materials. HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural), for example, can be produced using plant carbohydrates and could be used to replace terphthalic acid. The trouble has always being making the conversion cost-effective.

In the new research, which will be published in the , the Wisconsin scientists came up with a more streamlined and Earth-friendly way of mixing chemicals to make HMF from fructose. Once the HMF has been produced, it can be easily converted into a chemical called furan dicarboxylic acid, or FDCA. This can replace terephthalic acid, said , who led the research.

Initially, producing plastics this way might require some investment, but the long-term gain would be that the process is much cleaner than petroleum-based methods. While using petroleum dumps new carbon dioxide into the air, the carbon dioxide released when extracting chemicals from plants is created from molecules that are already in the ecosystem. As long as the biomass of plants remains relatively stable around the world, the balance of carbon dioxide naturally occurring in the atmosphere should remain, and global warming should not be significantly affected.

The up-front costs for this new process are less important than those that have contributed to the slow introduction of alternative fuels such as ethanol, Dumesic said.

"The energy costs are less important when you make a valuable, recyclable material (such as a polyester) from biomass in contrast to making a fuel, because the recyclable material has a long-term life, whereas a fuel is burned only one time," he said in an e-mail.

The research is an important step, Shanks said, because creating more sustainable plastics requires new ways of creating plastic precursors from renewable sources.

"Prof. Dumesic has shown there are ways to improve the process by using non-routine ways to produce the intermediates," he said.

See Also

Blair Anderson
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

UNODC has selected "drugs are not child's play" as the theme of its 2006 international campaign, in an effort to increase public awareness about the destructive power of drugs and society's responsibility to care for the well-being of children. The latest estimates indicate that 200 million people, or 5 per cent of the global population age 15-64, have consumed illicit drugs at least once in the last 12 months. But what about kids? What about children (aged 4 to 10)?
sample poster

Blair Anderson

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Drug tests in school?

26.06.2006 By Evan Harding

A Northland school which uses sniffer dogs to catch student drug users is now considering the rare move of introducing random drug testing.

A sniffer dog was taken into school after three students were caught smoking marijuana at Maungaturoto's Otamatea High School recently.

The dog found one student with marijuana, an unspecified number of others with marijuana residue and places where the drug had been hidden.

Otamatea High School is promising future random visits from sniffer dogs, and has now taken the unusual step of asking the students' parents if they want random drug testing at the school.

Haydn Hutching
Feedback from about 25 parents since the question was posed on Monday had found all in favour, principal Haydn Hutching said.

Michael Vincent-Tovine, who has a daughter at the school, was all for the move. "I just hate the stuff. School isn't the place for drugs," he said.

Both the Ministry of Education and New Zealand Schools Trustees Association praised Otamatea High School for seeking parent feedback before making a decision.

"They have obviously seen drugs as a problem and there's no better way to try and solve that problem than by bringing the community on board," said Chris Haines, president of the trustees association.

Ministry spokesman Vince Cholewa said all schools had the right to introduce random drug testing as long as it complied with the Bill of Rights.

Mr Hutching believed drug use at his school was no worse than at any other, but they wanted to deter students and make a safe environment for everyone at the school.

"If we get (stoned) kids using things like drop-saws and lathes it's a huge issue," Mr Hutching said.

Board of Trustees chairman Murray Cullen was also in support, adding he "would be happy" for his own children to be randomly drug tested.

But the board first wanted to see how parents responded.

"If they're in favour we'll seriously consider it, that's for sure. We don't want drugs in the school, and we're aware that it doesn't matter how many rules we put in place, if kids want to sneak it in they will sneak it in," he said.

Sniffer dogs and random drug testing would present a "random risk factor for the kids that carry", he said.

It would also allow other students to avoid peer pressure when offered drugs. "They can say `no, we've got random drug testing at school and I might get kicked out'," Mr Hutching said.

Otamatea High School had considered introducing sniffer dogs for a year and when police were unable to provide one they hired their own, at their own expense. It had given the school a snapshot of the drug problem on a particular day.

Mr Cullen had no evidence of drugs other than marijuana at his school, but said: "I am sure there's other stuff around."

The Otamatea High School students stood down for drug taking had since returned to school after subsequent tests revealed they were clean. They would now be monitored.
==================== ends ====================
And the outcomes are?

The molecule sniffing policy has surely been tried elsewhere. The outcomes have been found 'on evidence and logic' to be wanting. Random searches of teens body and body fluids creates a breach of trust from which there is no social dividend.

Netherlands teen 'family friendly' Drug education , despite a climate of high accessibility is about 1/4 as dysfunctional in teen health outcomes as ours, and that's at every age group. If drug use is a problem, we owe it to 'our kids' do we not, to minimise overall harms.

Visiting Professor, Rodney Skager's enlightening analysis in his book on the subject explains the failure of zero tolerance and notably, in his Christchurch talk he categorically applauded the restorative approach with special mention of its use in Maori culture.

It's about healing and unconditional reacceptance 'into society'. Very Maori.

Reality based education is about tolerance and the 'reality' that cannabis use is a prevelent community behavour.
How we set the benchmark for 'coming of age'
If prevalence is a guide, adolescent cannabis use is a normative behaviour. Despite a continuing base of science supporting the notion that the harms have been largely overstated, they continue to be overstated.
Zero tolerance while there is in reality [we have] the highest uptake in the entire OECD occuring in our teens reeks of implausability.

The younger we reach out on 'cannabis' and other drugs selling the 'prevalence and use' problem creates the illusion that 'everyone is doing it'. [No wonder they cant bloody wait.]
Youth targeted drug testing fails the human rights test.

It will truly and credibly acknowledge (yes, that's what reality based means) that drug misuse is potentially problematic but so to is the illicit set and setting. We count the harms at the worst end of the scale in body bags.

However, the reality is most teen experiential use carries some risk, but aside from the anomalous consequence of a forced intervention that denies our children the human right to informed consent, it is at a very thin end of the harms scale.
Collectively we have failed to account - there has never been a cost benefit analysis of zero tolerance. It is sustained by wishful and woolly thinking.

When you do the critical thinking, zero tolerance education in application has been found to be a systemic and chronic 'health promotion' failure.

(this is culpable child abuse by the way, where is the informed consent again? )

Random drug testing/dogs in schools is a retrograde step having far more consequences than 'good intentions' can account for.

Drug hypocrisy is at the root of many young folks attitude to and alienation from 'rule of law'. That it is young, male and Maori who are 'targets' in this war of ideals according to ministry statistics, that this profile is institutionalised 'common knowledge' is about as racist, sexist and ageist a law can be.

Yet 'the laws the law' is about the best understanding you get from the Human Rights Commission. Are they asleep at the wheel here? The Commision of White Priviledge comes to mind.

The inescapable logic from those who would proscribe intolerance as therapy 'send the very clear bully boy message' that it is OK to treat law-abiding young folk as potentially guilty. Pop goes the Magna Carta and all that.

Drug testing and dogs is institutionalised compulsive demonisation of youth; it can only be damned as an admission of the current paradigms abject failure. (and it says even less about those who continue, despite evidence, to provaricate blanket prohibitions 'sucesses'.)

May common sense prevail. It may take a informed and empowered community and (subsequently) a few changes in the Boards of Trustees and school executive staff [and PPTA] but I am hopeful from discussions with some Secondary Principals who have recently been bearing the brunt of this issue, they are open to fresh ideas and are considering carefully what will serve their charges best.

There may yet be truth yet to 'it takes a village to raise a child' so let reason prevail sooner rather than later. Please.

I dont want to have to tell my grandchildren "In reality, it takes a user pays pathology laboratory to raise a child". It just doesnt have the same ring of wisdom to it.
Blair Anderson
Another MildGreen Initiative.
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

FAS Releases New Report on Biomass, Waste-to-Energy

Frost and Sullivan (FAS) recently released a new report on the biopower industry titled "North American Biomass and Waste-to-Energy Markets," which found that the commercialization of many "promising biopower technologies," including pyrolysis, gasification, plasma gasification and anaerobic digestion, is dependent on "financial incentives from government sources."

"As institutional investors are reluctant to invest because of high upfront installation costs and lengthy periods for realizing returns, biopower owners are seeking financing from cooperatives, municipalities, counties and companies specializing in renewable energies," said FAS research analyst Patricia Seifert.

FAS said "new standards, legislation and tax incentives" are expected to create "strategic changes in several industries with respect to waste management which is likely to exert a positive influence on the market."

Additionally, the report noted that biopower companies offering "one-stop solutions," including design, installation, maintenance and financing, will capture "substantial market share."

Contact: Dustin McVey, FAS, phone 210-247-3830, e-mail

Blair Anderson
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Friday, June 23, 2006

Lowering Of Blood Pressure Achieved Through Use Of Hashish-like Drug

Lowering Of Blood Pressure Achieved Through Use Of Hashish-like Drug

22 Jun 2006

A new method for lowering blood pressure (hypertension) through use of a compound that synthesizes a cannabis (hashish) plant component has been developed by a pharmacology Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy.

For his work on the cardiovascular activity of cannabinoids (chemical compounds derived from cannabis), Yehoshua Maor was one of the winners of this year's Kaye Innovation Awards, presented in June during the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's 69th meeting of the Board of Governors.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for about one-third of all deaths in industrialized countries, and is the leading reason for visits there to physicians as well as for drug prescriptions. However, not all patients respond well to the drugs available. There is no "ideal' hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) drug.

The cannabis plant - also known as hashish or marijuana - through its chemical compounds -- cannabinoids -- has been shown to have a beneficial, hypotensive effect. However, a drawback in the therapeutic use of cannabinoids has been its undesirable psychotropic properties - production of hallucinatory effects. Attempts to separate the hypotensive action from the psychotropic properties of cannabinoids have achieved only partial success until now.

Working under the supervision of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy, Maor, who was born in Brazil and immigrated to Israel in 1998, has created a synthetic version of a minor cannabis constituent named cannabigerol, which is devoid of psychotropic activity.

In laboratory experiments with rats in collaboration with Prof. Michal Horowitz of the Department of Environmental Physiology, it was found that this novel compound reduced blood pressure when administered to the rats in relatively low doses. Additional testing also showed that the compound also brought about another beneficial effect -- relaxation of the blood vessels. A further beneficial property observed in work carried out with Prof. Ruth Gallily of the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology, was that the compounds produced an anti-inflammatory response.

Maor believes that these qualities have the potential for development of a valuable new clinical drug with a major market potential, especially for patients suffering from inflammation of the blood vessels as the result of hypertension, and others with metabolic irregularities.

Maor already has won international recognition for his work with cannabanoids, resulting from his collaborative work with Garry Milman, another Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Prof. Mechoulam, for the discovery of an endogenous compound found in the brain which causes vaso-relaxation.

Maor begin a post-doctoral fellowship in the fall at the Harvard University Medical School, where he plans to continue his research.


The Kaye Innovation Awards have been given annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential which will benefit the university and society.

Contact: Jerry Barach
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Article URL:

Blair Anderson
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dogs, Drugs, What's the difference....

Some readers of "Blairs Brain" may also know that there is also a intersectorial connection surrounding dog ownership, moral panic and public policy... (see
That the GREENS crossed the floor to permit 'chipping' of urban dogs gives little room for comfort.
We are foisting yet another bureaucratic nightmare upon an unsuspecting public 'predicated on moral panic'. An anathema to reason and logic, just where is the evidence base?

Where indeed is the cost benefit analysis, or the informed consent?

Now we have labeled ALL dogs as dangerous.... Let the prejudice begin!
We have invented the complaining society.
Dogs, Drugs... What's the difference....
For a stomach churning oped on how we treat 'mans best friend' see

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We'll Build Wind Turbines All Over the Landscape

Arrggh! The environment court will be busy!
political blog from the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Blair Anderson

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Healthy response to climate change; BMJ

Health professionals must help tackle climate change
Public release date: 8-Jun-2006
Contact: Emma Dickinson
British Medical Journal
Healthy response to climate change;
BMJ Volume 332, pp 1385-7
Climate change is a major public health threat which health professionals must help to tackle, argues an expert in this week's BMJ.

The most feasible policy for tackling global warming is contraction and convergence – a carbon cap and trade policy designed to stabilise and then reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, writes Dr Robin Stott.

The first step in implementing this policy is to set a global carbon budget. This initial budget is then reduced (contracted) at an agreed pace and time until the amount of allocated carbon equals the globe's carrying capacity.

Convergence is the move towards an equal carbon allowance for every person. People with low energy use can then trade their surplus to those with high energy use.

This policy offers a way forward which is globally just and produces many health benefits, such as encouraging more physical activity among people in industrialised societies. Trading in carbon will also transfer money from rich to poor countries, and help deliver the millennium health goals.

"The financial implications of trading in carbon entitlements mean it will be in everyone's interest to minimise the amount of carbon we emit," writes the author. But can this policy be made to work?

The political courage and will to implement contraction and convergence is gaining ground, he says. This high level support must now be deepened and formalised so that politicians worldwide commit themselves to the policy.

Health professionals must also set an example and advocate for contraction and convergence both locally and nationally, he concludes.

This process will be a far more effective driver towards minimising the impact of climate change than attempting to encourage individuals to adopt green practices, adds Dr Mayer Hillman in an accompanying commentary. Carbon allowances will act as a parallel currency to real money as well as creating an ecologically virtuous circle.

Finally, an editorial suggests that, if medicine is about saving lives, then working to alter patterns of behaviour that contribute to climate change could arguably become a priority for clinicians - as an urgent preventative measure. Likewise, institutions of health care – in particular the NHS – have enormous power to do good or harm to the natural environment and to increase or diminish carbon emissions.

The author, Anna Coote, describes some examples of good practice, but points out that these depend on highly committed individuals innovating against the odds. Incentives in the NHS run in the opposite direction and no-one gets fired for failing to reduce the carbon footprint of a hospital or clinic.

By 2010, £11 billion will be spent on new hospitals that are largely unsustainable. And so, in the name of 'healthcare,' gargantuan sums of public money continue to be spent in ways that are careless of the physical and mental wellbeing of future generations, she writes.

However, without action, "we will be knowingly handing over a dying planet to the next generation," concludes Dr Hillman.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

The wrong white crowd

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Blair Anderson <>
Date: Jun 8, 2006 1:14 PM
Subject: Re: EFSDP: 'Voices of Substance' reply

this useful graph might put into stark perspective why NZ needs the 'cure'.
Consider: by this graph, For every Canadian toker, there are three in NZ!,
No wonder we are known as "the Land of the Long White Cloud"  [Aotearoa, a reference to its distinctive navigable 'indicator' when at sea, but now taking on a new cultural largess.]
NZ's Sociologists/Ethnologists are reluctant to even acknowledge that cannabis in God zone country has a culture! Or that the culture is us. We are as it were, lost in the land of the wrong white crowd.
My hometown of Invercargill has maybe about 5 adults in 1000 who ascribe to their Celtic heritage... but the town is recognised as, indeed, is famous for being "culturally Scottish".
Yet, according to Auckland University studies [APHRU 2001] it can be reasonably assumed that  about 540 of them would admit to having toked in their lifetime.
Now, in 150(or less) words that a politician can understand, discuss the 'cultural assessment' in this picture?
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chok(ing) in anti-dope haze

There is inspiration in reviewing 'old stuff', [at least] periodically, the inventory of reform literature is ever expanding within which there are the gems and insights. 
I know, for some this represents a legacy of  disappointingly slow progress, while I celebrate that it  logs another of those days that bring us closer to the desired  'end game state'. This one, written 7 years ago, refers to one of the more progressive inquiries on cannabis but was compromised by political expediency,  however, one can smile at this erudite challenge to educators everywhere; a real gem.
"The last time I chucked off at the marijuana law, a Northland school teacher wrote a derisive letter. How, she asked, would I like having to appear before a room full of kids who had burned their brains out with marijuana? For a day I struggled to write a polite reply and not to ask whether she was such a bore that pupils switched off at the sight of her. And why did she defend the law if she so objected to its outcome? " 
 from - Landowners choke in anti-dope haze, Diary Opinion piece by Ted Reynolds, New Zealand Herald , 18 June 1999
BTW a 'Pub' is how we spell Hotel in New Zealand   [public bar]
Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Green Fuel's Dirty Secret

by Sasha Lilley,
Special to CorpWatch
[June 1st, 2006]

Just how environmental is Mr Bush's technology 'saviour' ethanol biofuels....??
read (and keep the cuspidor handy)

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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What will our society look like as we transform outlaws into clients?

What will our society look like as we transform outlaws into clients?

There will be millions of people on drugs.

There are currently millions of people on drugs.

But there would be significantly fewer human tragedies; fewer broken lives and families; less crime on the street; fewer people in jail (especially minorities); less State Police and State Department corruption. We would live in a safer, gentler country.

Many drug addicts will be cured and live normal lives.

Many will never kick the addiction but will live mostly normal lives, like functioning alcoholics; holding down jobs, remaining in marriages, and raising children; a monkey on their back, but getting by.

And many will remain mired in drugs. They will consume drugs as the morbidly obese consume food -- until they self destruct. Even with legalization and control and all the support in the world. Some folks will simply fail, and their failure will be a small though intense tragedy. But it will be theirs and that of their families. Not ours. Not everyone's.

As long as Eddie lives in fear of the government, we will live in fear of Eddie.

It is time to stalk the politicians and demand that they confront this issue the right and honorable way.

No half way measures. Full legalization and control.

Bill Fried is executive director of the Lakeview Manor Tenant Association in Weymouth.  

LEAP even gets a special mention in this delightfully frank op-ed, and in a favourite and influential paper of mne, the Boston Globe.
Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Time to Talk Drugs

Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon coverage on today's Drug Foundation Hui in Auckland was remiss in failing to mention 'poster boy for reform' Prof. Rod Skager's website and book.

It is an exemplar 'easy read' for boards of trustees, schoolmasters, parents etc., where in contrast to our failure, it robustly demonstrates 'it is reform' of drug laws that is the high moral ground in education.

Contrasted to RNZ's counterpoint, Drug Proof Your Kids with its focus on the family, featuring Jesus and Tom (the Brain Robber)Scott, we 'legalisers' clearly have a lot to celebrate in the reason and evidence base Skager brings to the debate.

However, it has to be noted that in 'Healthy Christchurch' Skager's specialty, 'talking about the teen drug problem' has not only been administratively banned in Jim Anderton's home turf, but they stayed away from recent National Drug Policy hui's in droves... No one from the City Council, DARE, Community and Public Health, Post Primary Teachers, School Boards, Principals Associations, Ministry of Education, Police or the 'Safer Communities' interests they [mis]represent drug issues to.

So it was hardly surprising to see 'so few' at the Christchurch Drug Foundation Hui.

Why would "Beyond Zero Tolerance" attract such intolerance of fresh ideas?

Radio New Zealand listeners might expect regional Community Health Promotion experts to understand the concept "no decision about us, without us"?

It is the double standards that are proving to be the impediments to effective (anti)drug education so I'll spell it out. Here's my challenge to Christchurch and New Zealand. "Put the damn book in the library's now, you intolerant bastards!"

And then we can make 'time to talk'.

Blair Anderson
New Zealand Director,
Educators for Sensible Drug Policy
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