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

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Endocannabinoid Regulation of the Hypothalamo-Pitiutary-Adrenal Axis

Beat Lutz
Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry,
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, GERMANY

The endocannabinoid system has recently emerged as an important modulator in a plethora of behavioural responses to both internal and external stressors under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
In particular, the notion has been put forward that the endocannabinoid system is an endogenous system in order to stabilize and to maintain the body's homeostasis after stressors may have induced an imbalance.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 receptors) are present at most if not all levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and there is good evidence that CB1 receptor activation is able to modulate ACTH and corticosterone secretion. At the cellular level, endocannabinoids are able to regulate synaptic transmission by a mechanism called depolarization induced suppression of excitation (DSE) and of inhibition (DSI). Endocannabinoids are also able to regulate intracellular signaling cascades that subsequently may regulate the secretion of stress hormones. These features, together with behavioural assays and (neuro)endocrine investigations on mouse model systems lacking CB1 receptors and on rodents treated with CB1 receptor antagonist provide interesting new insights into the role of the endocannabinoid system on the regulation of the HPA axis and, consequently, also on stress and anxiety . Therefore, the endocannabinoid system may constitute a promising new therapeutic target in various disorders with imbalances in the HPA axis.
Still politicians pretend there is no medical foundation to self administration of THC, and continue to lock people up.
Criminalised cannabis is a health intervention with double jeopardy. (the minister of justice acts on the warrant of the minister of health)

The biopsychosocial consequences are self evident. Classified cannabis IS the imediment to achieving best practice public health.

Placing it in Class D is the expeditious remedy.
The right to possess herbals would be a barren right without the right to the business models that included cultivation or manufacture, transport, processing, quality control , storage and handling, sale and exchange. The crown even provides funding for health promotion messages.(it also collects GST on high 'value added' margin )

The above Lutz abstract is a complete validation of the harm reduction models proposed by Colorado University (Boulder) Biology Chair, Dr (Assoc Prof) Robert Melamede mentioned elsewhere in this blog. i.e. Harm reduction the cannabis paradox.

Also see The Endocannabinoid System: Friend or Foe?
February 15, 2006, Host: Dr. Kenneth Mackie
and 5th Forum of European NeuroScience, Vienna, July 2006

Advancing the Management of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Risk Factors: The Role of the Endocannabinoid System.

More recently NAEs have been shown to be part of the endocannabinoid signaling system. Recent investigation has shown that cannabinoid drugs (active ingredient D9-THC) act via membrane bound receptors (G-protein coupled) and NAEs act as endogenous ligands that react with the receptors CB1 and CB2. Anandamide (NAE20:4) binds to and activates CB1 receptors in neurons, initiating an intracellular signaling cascade that leads to changes in ion flux at the plasma membrane

Endocannabinoid Signaling in the brain: role of N-acylethanolamine metabolism

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 26572109
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Friday, August 25, 2006

Man Dies After Being Tasered By Police

The suspect was displaying what he called "assaultive behavior" and did not stop when ordered - the officer feared for his life when the man turned toward him.

Yeah Right!

The (August 5th) incident started with a drug bust at a field in Louisville. Police said Ryan Wilson, 22, admitted to growing marijuana before running away from police. Officers chased Wilson and Officer John Harris eventually confronted him and used a 50,000 volt TASER.

Investigators said Harris immediately noticed something was wrong. "As soon as the individual went into convulsions, the officer, himself, started CPR on the individual and called for the ambulance to respond," said Sgt. Bill Palmer with the Lafayette Police Dept. "So, he was doing CPR along with another officer when the ambulance arrived."

The Boulder County coroner was conducting an autopsy to determine why a man died.

It is my guess the scope of the coronal inquiry will not include the required policy analysis... nor get at real the truth of the taser's application, time to medically intervene or why there seems to be tension between the Police claim of "assaultive behavior" and the suspect running away...

This tragedy will not allay legitimate public fears related to taser use, will not inspire confidence in police and may indeed bring even the coronal inquiry into disrepute. (let alone address the family's angst and anger and this extra-judicial capital punishment - see video )

All over 'some pot' that in Denver City down the road, is, by public treaty and vote given a low priority.

So, then... where are Denverites going to grow, who is going to grow and how it will arrive into the hands of those who are the consumers?

And that all presumes this now dead young man wasn't growing for his own use. The right to possess is a barren right without the right to cultivate, store, trade and consume.

The malfunction was not the taser rather the grotesque enforcement of a law in wholesale disrepute.

/Blair Anderson
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Good news: Prohibitionism can be cured...

Seriously, this is no joke, soon there will be a pill for intransigence ....
Now, how do we get it into JimA without him noticing?

[Harvard School of Medicine] Researchers hope to develop medications that can mitigate the adverse affects of the protein on cognitive functioning, as presented by a behavioral, affective and cognitive sequelae that includes intellectual rigidity and incuriosity, self-righteousness, the introjection of conventional and traditional moral codes that support unrealistic feelings of moral superiority, the amoral, utilitarian use and/or abuse of such moral codes when it serves their individual purposes, the use of social dominance and aggression in enforcing such conventions upon others, educational deficits despite lackluster efforts to acquire credentialing, and aversion to logic, otherwise diagnosed as dementia among geriatric populations.
Would it be seditious to suggest we should somehow mickyfinn the Coffee at Belamy's?

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 26572109
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Epilepsy and other neurodegenerative diseases

Medical Research News
Endocannabinoid System Controls Key Brain Circuits
The same brain machinery that responds to the active substance in marijuana provides a central "on-demand" protection against seizures, researchers have found. The "endocannabinoid" system might constitute a prime target for drugs against seizures of epilepsy and other neurodegenerative diseases.
"In conclusion, our study reveals a mechanism through which the endocannabinoid system is able to provide on-demand protection against acute behavioral seizures. "
/Blair Anderson
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Saturday, August 19, 2006


Cannabis divides people: some see it as unfairly demonised, others as a medical catastrophe in the making. Elizabeth Finkel breaks through the panic and the hype to find out what science has to say.

Actually she makes a fair sized fist of it too... Dr. Alex Wodak, Wayne Hall, Professor Miron and more - every prohibitor should read this insight. / Blair Anderson.

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New Directions in Drug Education

Recent chatter about random drug testing all youths is attracting attention despite any evidence it has worked anywhere. This is just so much more moral panic. I don't see public health officials lining up to randomly test for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or Pregnancy or Nicotine despite obvious harms.

Current thinking in education best practice has moved beyond the idea we can just inoculate these kids against drug use with a dose of fear and intolerance.

Suspicion-less pee in a bottle good kid collect $200, bad kid go to Jail has been found wanting by the San Francisco Medical Society, the Office of the Mayor of San Francisco, their Department of Public Health, County Department of Health and Human Services, the International Institute for Restorative Practices, the Drug Policy Alliance and California State Assembly member Jackie Goldberg. All of whom, along with Educators for Sensible Drug Policy share common concerns for our young folk.

It is Time To Talk before we ban our way out of this problem [of course, absent any evidence any of it works] and crucially, without the informed consent of parents and young folk. (no decision about us without us.)

A well titled "New Directions in Drug Education and School Discipline" conference in California this October (with continuing education credits) explores realistic, pragmatic, and cost-effective strategies for implementing drug education and effective disciplinary practices in secondary schools.
Masters, Principals, Trustees and Parents can learn how to adopt culturally appropriate real-life interactive, participatory high school drug education [and assistance programs]. I suspect San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom supports restorative Beyond Zero Tolerance practices in California high schools because it works.

(which begs the question, why wouldn't 'beyond zero tolerance' work for adults.? Or is this a clue as to why draconian testing of kids is required, to prove cannabis is dangerous? Who too? kids let alone adults, don't believe it's dangerous, it's only class C anyway! We have a system that suggests Class A must mean really** good!)

Author, Professor Skager was here late April, he lauded our indigenous restorative practices. I think it would be a good idea to bring him back to NZ, but, if you missed him - download the booklet and view the conference who's who at BEYONDZEROTOLERANCE.ORG.

Our national record of suspension and expulsion is a poor measure of success but then there has been no "ESSENTIAL" cost benefit analysis on current policy outcomes. [It was budgeted for, ten years ago.]

The culture of intolerance and fear of self-examination is all on the prohibitor's watch, where as the evidence base is on ours.

* "It's Essential" - Dr Paul Hutchison, MP [Raglan]. National Party Conference, (private conversation) Christchurch 2006

** Science and Technology Select Committee report on Drug Classification (August 2006), Home Office. Gt.Britain

Week ending, 18th August.
Penn and Teller, Weed = 2, Prohibition nil.
Blair Anderson
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bong ban is NOT Harm Minimisation

The "bong ban" was introduced by the Minister of Health as part of a "harm reduction" based strategy, midway through the year 2000...see 08 Jul 1999: Bong ban is NOT Harm Minimisation (and other useful analysis)

Now Drug Czar Anderton wants to get tough on paraphernalia !

Whaaa !! I bet he doesn't even know what the word means. Not, "Miscellaneous articles or personal possessions", I mean harm minimisation!

Blair Anderson
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

EFSDP: Drug Crusaders, Listen Up

Aug 15
Nelson Daily:

Letter writer Nicole Lorusso employs a common tactic of the drug war cheerleaders. First erect a straw man of grotesque proportions and then proceed to tear it back down again (Drug Crusaders, Listen Up, Aug 15) I am not aware of a single credible drug law reform activist that advocates willy-nilly use of cannabis by children. Teen age drug abuse is bad. Bad for families, bad for society and most assuredly bad for children. We're all in agreement.

But it does not automatically follow that if teen age drug abuse is bad, well then Prohibition must be good.

I am also an educator, a school counselor in this case.   And for every horror story Ms. Lorusso can conjure up involving teenagers using pot, I can recite two more where children were grievously harmed by the excesses of the Drug War, Inc. Children snatched from loving families after a few marijuana plants were discovered behind the family garage during the annual fly-over. Children duped into informing on their parents by that nice Officer Friendly from DARE. Children traumatized when the front door of the family home was kicked in at 4:00 a.m. by ninja clad thugs--talk about your narco terrorism!

Ms. Lorusso's assertion not withstanding, our highest goal is not about preserving the dignity of adult cannabis consumers. It's about preserving the traditions and values of a free, democratic society. A society that respects its own citizens right to self determination and to be protected from an over reaching and ever more intrusive state apparatus. It's about saying, no, to a liberal, nanny state government.

Legalize, regulate, tax, control. There is a better way.

Greg Francisco, M.A.
Educators for Sensible Drug Policy,
32323 M-43
Paw Paw, MI  49079
(269) 628-4340

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sports Disputes Tribunal let Dickel off lightly says Doc.

Sports Drugs Agency head Dr Dave Gerrard says the Sports Disputes Tribunal let Dickel off lightly. He says it provides a bad example to young athletes. Gerrard says Dickel is a silly man for considering that the use of cannabis is in any way fitting for a role model in sport.

To say nothing of alcohol... some folk doing the critical thinking here might consider the ramifications of every kid who smoked a recreational joint aspiring to play even half as well as Mark Dickel.

Mark clearly has no 'problem' with his drug use other than the hypocritical double standards of sports administrators lining up for liquor sponsorship and vendign rights at venues.

The problem lies with a drug agency that pretends cannabis is harmful while for tens of thousands of young people alcohol will manifest tragedy and expensive life changing outcomes. Such outcomes pale beside role model Dickel's seemingly 'responsible, recreational use' of the herb.

Profesional urine tester, Dr. Dave detected cannabis 'at five weeks'. It has been my experience that the small minority of athletes who do choose to use drugs are much more likely to switch from cannabis detectable for weeks, to alcohol and methamphetimine both detectable for mere hours.

Could the Doctor's first do no harm principals be tested for 'silly' or 'success'?

The effort and expendature put into Ministry of Health 'anti-labeling' efforts using notable sports stars didnt stop TV3's use of 'Dopey Dickel' footage accompanied by a hit tune that mocked prohibitors.

Doubtless TV3 didn't notice their deilvery of pure prejudice dopey drug policy is at all levels just harm maximisation.

Were cannabis, a recognised 'safe' therapeutic 'known to man' rightly dropped from the sports performance enhancing drugs schedule the unintended consequence might usefully engage youth in healthy extra-curricular and stimulating sports activities but also result in a few more unemployed urine checkers.

/Blair Anderson
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THC Blocks Alzheimer's Plaque Formation

THC Blocks Alzheimer's Plaque Formation

Old hippies who haven't toked for decades might come back to the stoner life. Marijuana active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol blocks the formation of beta amyloid plaques which are suspected as a cause of Alzheimer's disease.

LA JOLLA, CA, August 9, 2006 - Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the study said, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.

The study was published online August 9 in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

According to the new Scripps Research study, which used both computer modeling and biochemical assays, THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which acts as a "molecular chaperone" to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer victims. Although experts disagree on whether the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in those areas critical to memory and cognition is a symptom or cause, it remains a significant hallmark of the disease. With its strong inhibitory abilities, the study said, THC "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease" that would treat "both the symptoms and progression" of the disease.

The development of better tests for amyloid plaque formation probably will provide the ability to predict the development of Alzheimer's many years in advance of obvious symptoms. For people who face the threat of losing their memory 10 years hence if THC can prevent or delay that outcome use of THC might be worth it. Though quite a few people won't want to go through every day of their lives high on THC.

THC works better than commercial drugs currently on the market.

"When we investigated the power of THC to inhibit the aggregation of beta-amyloid," Janda said, "we found that THC was a very effective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. In addition to propidium, we also found that THC was considerably more effective than two of the approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease treatment, donepezil (Aricept ®) and tacrine (Cognex ®), which reduced amyloid aggregation by only 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively, at twice the concentration used in our studies. Our results are conclusive enough to warrant further investigation."

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease. It gradually robs you of your identity. People who face the prospect of losing their memories should be allowed a great deal of latitutde in terms of what they can do to protect themselves from that fate. I expect drugs, antibodies, and vaccines will all come to market in the next 10 years that stop and reverse beta amyloid plaque formation. Use of THC for this purpose will be transitory at best. But will any government even allow clinical trials of its effectiveness against Alzheimer's?

By Randall Parker at 2006 August 12

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Southern lignite could yield diesel [ODT]

By Business Reporter Simon Hartley
Monday, 14th August 2006

A $6 billion petrochemical plant in Otago or Southland within six years is the focus of a year-long feasibility study due to begin early next year.

The regions contain a vast untapped wealth of up to 12 billion tonnes of lignite, the lowest grade of coal, which could yield a barrel of diesel for every tonne of lignite processed.

Per capita, New Zealand is second only to Australia in its wealth of coal. The more than a dozen identified southern lignite fields have been estimated to contain the energy equivalent of 35 to 40 Maui gas fields.

Exploration company L&M Group is completing initial analysis on three of five permitted areas it holds at Kaitangata in South Otago, Hawkdun, in Central Otago, and Ashers-Waituna in Southland including test drilling in preparation to begin its feasibility study in April next year.

L&M managing director Greg Hogan emphasises the initial studies are a long way from turning lignite into diesel, petrol, aviation gas or methanol, but he is adamant a southern petrochemical plant could be operating by 2012.

“There are the raw materials here for more than one project. They the three L&M sites are all looking good at present,” he said when contacted.

Mr Hogan said the figure of $6 billion for a petrochemical “coalgasification” plant was based on estimates from around the world, where there are 130 gasification plants operating and producing more than 40,000MW of energy annually.

L&M intends to take the results of its feasibility study to the Government, to clarify regulatory requirements, and would most likely seek offshore financing for a gasification plant.

Mr Hogan said while no negotiations had been held, the company had access to heavyweights in the mining and energy sector, such as Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest mining company.

“These are the companies who would be in a position to fund billion-dollar investments,” Mr Hogan said.

L&M wants to identify which of its three permitted areas would be best to develop, estimating the lifespan of any single operation would be a minimum 20 to 30 years.

Mr Hogan estimated 50,000 tonnes of lignite could be processed a day with a guideline production of about 50,000 barrels of diesel a day about 18 million tonnes of lignite a year.

Initially, L&M is concentrating on diesel production, because of the high grade which could be produced, and then the other fuels, all of which had “huge potential” as export earners, he said.

Although 13 lignite fields have been identified so far three in Central Otago, four in eastern Otago and six in Southland there could be double that number again, according to former government staff.

Mr Hogan said the lignite, of which L&M has estimated there is 2 billion tonnes within its five areas, was generally in easily accessible places, in seams 10m thick.

Last month, coal producer Solid Energy purchased farms and lifestyle blocks surrounding its former lignite mine near Mataura, on State Highway 1, containing an estimated 2.1 million tonnes.

In the short term, trials were under way for burning the coal as an energy source but Solid Energy was also investigating a gasification plant for coal-to-diesel production
-- ends --

also reported on STUFF L&M studies feasibility of $6b gasification plant

Coal-fired station pursued (Westport, West Coast)Coal producer Solid Energy is pushing ahead with investigations into a coal-fired power station on the West Coast despite calls for New Zealand to get rid of them.

Coalition supports Commissioners callSave Happy Valley Coalition supports the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's call for no more coal or gas-powered electricity stations in New Zealand.

Blair Anderson
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sparky Dickle in a Pickle

It making the news round the world...
TV3 labels the champion player 'dopey dickle'
Stuff reports...

Mark Dickel has been suspended from the Tall Blacks' series against Qatar after testing positive for cannabis use.

The veteran point guard, who did not play in many of the Tall Blacks recent games due to a knee problem, was randomly tested after one of the Tall Blacks' matches against Australia in Napier last month and his "A" sample has produced a positive result, Basketball New Zealand said in a statement this morning.

Dickel has admitted to the offence and accepted violating the Tall Blacks' team code.

"We encourage the Tall Blacks to act as role models for young Kiwis and this is clearly not what we stand for," coach Tab Baldwin said. "From our point of view, it is extremely disappointing."

"Mark knows he has let a lot of people down and must now face the consequences."

Dickel will take no active part in the series against Qatar that tips off tonight in Dunedin and concludes in Invercargill on Sunday.

They are the Tall Blacks' last matches before the world championships start in Japan next weekend.


Tad Baldwin says "we all know cannabis is not performance enhancing", so why is on the anti-drugs sports schedule, when alcohol and nicotine are not...  the double standards yet again, meanwhile Dickle who has been recovering from tendinitis (an painful inflammatory condition, mediated by cannabinoids) is portrayed 'sparking up some brilliant game play' will be viewed by a generation of youth as an icon of achievement... if this is what cannabis consumption does, bring it on!!
see the global coverage on Dickle... and all in my home town!
If the entire Australian Rugby League were tested for cannabis the 'peoples game' would crash and burn!
"Seventy-five percent [of AFL footballers] have done some sort of recreational drug ... You'd have to have your head in the sand to think that it doesn't exist." — DALE LEWIS, Sydney Swans player, March 2002
(BTW: The NRL imposes no penalty for positive cannabis tests.)
If Mark Dickel gets majorly depressed about all this, there is a clinical trial  he can join up to run by NIDA
Pass the Steinlager & some Prozac

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

US drug chief promotes random testing in schools

America's drug tsar raised the stakes on drug testing in schools yesterday, suggesting that it could come to be seen as normal required and "responsible behaviour" in the same way that some US schools routinely test all pupils for tuberculosis before admission.
"The attitude is that it's only marijuana. It doesn't help if your kids are playing Russian roulette that they are using a smaller calibre weapon."  / John Walters

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Oysters at 4:20

Press Release: New Zealand Police
New Zealand Police National News Release 4:20pm
9 August 2006

Ten Month Police Operation Ends In Arrests

Eastern District Police have dealt another blow to organised crime and drug dealers in the District, raiding over 18 addresses this morning.

Police had arrested 20 offenders by 2pm today and that number was expected to increase as the operation progressed.

Cannabis plant material, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and associated instruments, and a firearm were seized as part of Operation Oyster coordinated by the Hastings Police Organised Crime Unit.

Eastern District Crime Services Manager, Detective Inspector Sam Aberahama said today's arrests were the culmination of 10 month's work on the operation.

"Operation Oyster involved over 60 Police who searched addresses in Hastings, Napier, Waipukurau and Wairoa which Police believe were linked to the distribution of controlled drugs," Mr Aberahama said.

District Commander, Superintendent Grant Nicholls said he was delighted with the success of the operation, particularly as it follows a recent operation in Wairoa where 17 gang members were arrested and charged with a variety of crimes.

"This District is committed to targeting organised crime and getting to the heart of their drug distribution networks.

"Today is the result of a lot of hard work over the past 10 months. It highlights for us, and for the public in the district that we are being effective.

"We have an ongoing interest in apprehending those involved in organised crime. We will continue to focus on reducing opportunity for this type of offending," Mr Nicholls said.

"Whaaaaaa!!! All this time and effort, absent any cost/benefit to the community "/ Blair Anderson
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Cannabinoids and Osteoporosis

Medical researchers at the University of Bonn, working in collaboration with scientists from Israel, the USA and Britain, have identified a previously unknown regulatory mechanism in the process of bone loss.


Signal molecules regulate bone density

Together with a research group from Israel and England, Dr. Karsak was able to demonstrate that osteoclasts, as well as their opposite number, the osteoblasts, which are responsible for building bone, carry CB2 receptors on their surface. In this way it appears that signal molecules like the endocannabinoids being formed by the body are able to regulate bone growth.

Blair Anderson
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Holmes taking drugs

Judge Charles Harris questioned whether council tenant Phillip Pledge was causing anti-social behaviour by growing and storing cannabis of a street value totalling £3,400 at his flat in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

He also compared the nuisance value of growing cannabis to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes taking drugs in the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Treat us as adults, we will behave as adults.

07 Aug 2006 New Statesman

In attacking the ABC classification system for controlled drugs, as it has in its report subtitled Making a Hash of It?, the Commons select committee on science and technology has shot a sitting duck. The shortcomings of an arrangement that dates back to James Callaghan's spell as home secretary have long been evident, and in recent years the classifications have sunk from disrepute into ridicule. Only in Whitehall could magic mushrooms, responsible for one death between 1993 and 2000, occupy the same category as heroin, which was responsible for 5,737 deaths in the same period. Only in Whitehall could chewing coca leaves also rank alongside injecting heroin, a notion which begs the question why Bolivians are not keeling over and dying en masse. And surely only in Whitehall could a drug be moved from one class to another, as was the case with "crystal meth", primarily on the grounds that it was being talked about in the papers and on television. The terminal judgement on the uselessness or worse of the ABC system was probably delivered by the expert witness who informed the committee: "We do not even know if the public see that if a drug is in class A, is that more of a deterrent or is it actually an attraction." If you are an 18-year-old who has just got straight As in your A-levels, in other words, you might be forgiven for thinking that only a class A drug would do for the celebrations. The committee was more than critical of this; it was contemptuous and vituperative. Rightly so, on the whole: much - including many human lives - is at stake here, and an indefensible shambles has been tolerated for far too long. Yet ministers and their advisers are entitled to some sympathy, for this is a matter that brings out the worst not only in politicians, but also in the media, which have an important role, and in the general public. The whole apparatus would not be necessary, after all, if large numbers of ordinary people did not insist on putting poisonous substances into their bodies. From that choice flows all the other ill-effects of the drug abuse world - family breakdown, social corrosion, crime and the rest. And people do this not only at considerable expense, but despite the danger of prosecution and even imprisonment. Perfectly legal poisons are available in the form of alcohol and tobacco but no, these are not enough. The point is not merely facetious. In tackling the drug problem, ministers are wrestling with the irrational. They are also wrestling with something that constantly changes: new drugs come along; old drugs take on new characteristics and medical science occasionally changes its mind about the threats that are posed. Yet ministers know that every time they change a classification in the ABC grid there are consequences which bear no relation to objective scientific or social judgements-moving cannabis from the B to the C class, for example, caused hysteria in some quarters, confusion in others, and may since have proved a mistake on the scientific merits. No wonder they hesitate. Both the public and the media need to grow up when it comes to controlled drugs. This is at least as much a matter of individual responsibility as it is of public policy, so we must educate ourselves and our children and we must exercise cool and informed judgement. Hysteria will not do: greeting an alteration to the classification system as a "tacit endorsement" of this or that drug, for example, paralyses efforts to prevent abuse and promote understanding. This presupposes that the system itself is credible, and here the select committee is right: the government needs to start again. More important than the report's findings on the flawed character of the ABC system is what it reveals of the flawed character of the entire process by which the government is advised on these matters. No one seems to have given this any thought, in fact, since Callaghan, and the result has been muddle, weakness and a collapse of credibility. Ministers must create a system that has authority and delivers information the public can trust.
If they treat us as adults, there is a better chance we will behave as adults.
to view the full report 'Drug Classification: Making a Hash of it?'
Blair Anderson
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Evidence prevails over prejudice.

(oh dear, hear the perjorative tenor!!)

However, there is hope.
Evidence prevails over prejudice.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Relevent to EACD, what do you think?

A bit more useful analysis on the practice and error(s) of drug classification. /Blair


Transform Drug Policy Foundation argue that the drug classification system:

• is based upon the false assumptions underlying historical prohibition of specific drugs rather than evidence of the efficacy of the classification system at reducing drug harms

• is not predicated on a framework that enables policy makers to make decisions about how to classify drugs - as no meaningful indicators exist to measure effectiveness

• is neither strategically planned nor effectively reviewed and evaluated against meaningful indicators

• is compartmentalised and not subject to cross departmental review

That government risk assessment regarding drugs is:

• inconsistent, frequently ignoring expert advice both internal and external

• driven by uninformed media coverage and non-scientific government disinformation based around the demonisation of illegal drugs rather than their inherent dangers.

That the Advisory Council's decision-making process is not transparent, is politically constrained, is ministerially determined, and has failed to advise on the most important policy issues.

That there is a distinct lack of publicly funded research in key policy areas because of the reticence of policy makers to expose policy failings.

That successive Governments have sought to hype the dangers of illicit drugs rather than communicate scientific advice effectively.

That the result of the above is a drug classification system that fails to deliver on its policy objectives and underpins a wider drug policy that increases drug harms rather than decreasing them.



Transform Drug Policy Foundation recommends that the Science and Technology Select committee:

Short term

• Call for an overhaul of the drug classification system in line with expert evidence.

• Call for ACMD [NZ's equivalent is the EACD] deliberations to be fully transparent, and all reports to be made public.

• Call for appropriate research to establish an evidence base for the classification system's effectiveness in reducing harm, including a set of meaningful indicators to be established against which such effectiveness can be measured.

Medium term

• Call for a cross departmental review of the efficacy of the enforcement of prohibition and penalties as defined by the classification system

• Call for a quadripartite select committee to review UK drug policy more broadly including a more detailed consideration of alternative policy options including shifting the drug brief from the Home Office to the Department of Health, and the possibility of legally regulated and controlled production and supply of some or all currently illegal drugs.

from TDF call for action:

Blair Anderson
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