Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Melamede, Notcutt and Fleming on Cannabis

Brilliant Interview.... oil for the 'friction of life'

BioBits: "Biobits InDepth: The Science of Medical Marijuana

Date: January 13, 2006

In the US, medical marijuana has sparked a divisive debate. For this BioBits In-depth podcast we spoke with three experts. Dr. Robert Melamede, a researcher at the University of Colorado informs us about how medical marijuana might be working to alleviate pain. We learn about a new marijuana spray called Sativex from Dr. William Notcutt, anesthesiologist at James Paget Medical Center in the UK. And Pat Fleming, Director of the Salt Lake County Department of Human Services Division of Substance Abuse, talks about the social issues surrounding the use of medical marijuana. (Listen here, approx 15Mb)
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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Crime Statistics

My pennyworth on Crime Statistics

When truth is the victim

..... (follow up comment addressed to FrogBlog & Russell Brown)


Responding to the many who have contributed to the crime statistics thread, I am glad to see there is some measure of oversight.

Crime is not just what is reported. Victims 'self report' exceeded the offense statistics. Uninsured 'burglary' and dishonesty is an example. Another, and the GREENS executive know this but fail to connect the dots is the prevalence of 'drug related' crime, again not analysed in any meaningful way.

The nexus of many crimes of dishonesty is prohibition related. Criminogenic in nature prohibitory social engineering escapes due scrutiny because contemporary analysis is conveniently simplistic, and (any) conclusion runs counter to prevailing political paradigms. There has NEVER been a cost benefit analysis of prohibition. What you cant measure you cannot manage.

Key matters arising from drug related crime is it being characterized by the vicious and often fatal outcomes, extended duration of inquiry, expense to prosecute and the difficulty of obtaining conviction(and resolution). These are all unmeasured.

The trial of those accused of Phillip Cowan's bodyless murder trial (Operation VeeDub) cost over a million dollars. The inquiry even more. The truth was never discovered. What price 'justice' ?

Many prohibition related murders remain unresolved and some, where legally concluded still carry the baggage of significant doubt. Deviancy amplification is a consequence of the identified poor public health policy putting at stake, the integrity of the 'law' and thus governance. Simplified statistics for offenses disguises what is really broken while the societal cost of disrespect for rule of law is simply unaccounted.

What consequence is borne by all when Police are held in disrepute?
(i.e.: the flood of PCA cases are a predictable outcome of social doubt )

The systemic failure here in New Zealand is having national Police 'anti-drug' protocols deficit funded. Drug interdiction activity is an easy way to top up the budgets. Drug related work is billed in half hour units. Just the same as Road Safety is billed to LTSA except... the LTSA $$ pool is finite.

Value and performance and return on investment are not words in the anti drug lexicon. It is, quite simply 'allow' [or maintain] the matrix of dysfunction' at all costs. The market mechanism is self interest entrenches prohibition practice, anyone one who speaks up is a 'pro drug' loony, and politicians play 'tough on crime'.

Until there is a cost benefit analysis (one was budgeted for, but dropped due to the legislative implications) crime statistics will remain lies, lies and damned lies.

500 ++ Economists, including three nobel laureates called for such a study to be made... but the political economists, like Brash and others... duck for cover shying from any "soft on drugs" label and pretending that there are 'more important matters'.

Yet the nexus of harm reduced drug policy would see crime drop massively along with prison musters. Effective drug policy would render the current bunch of politicians 'stupid'.

Thankfully there is a global trend that increasingly marginalises those who continue to see altered states as 'evil' and the demand for drugs as 'eliminatable'. Such terms are historical anachronisms. Our current crime levels, what ever they are, are unacceptable. We should all be regaling.
"A maxim for the twenty-first century might well be to start by not fighting evil in the name of good, but by attacking the certainties of people who claim always to know where good and evil are to be found."  Tzvetan Todorov
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Friday, January 13, 2006

Letter to the Editor.- WBOY, West Virginia

Dear Kimberly,
Please forward to whom it may concern for publication consideration.

re: http://www.wboy.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=7994&printview=1

Editorial Executive
WBOY
Clarksburg,
West Virginia, USA.

Dear Sir/Madam.

Governor Manchin puts $1M into subsidizing drug dealer profits.

Economic theory, evidence and a historical president now over a 100 years old shows the 'do good' money being thrown at drug enforcement is worse than just a hollow gesture. It counter-productively creates the problem it was intended to solve. That is the irony of public office in a prohibition world; be seen to throw enough symbolic money at an 'unaccountable' problem while creating the mess one purports to be against, sell the story to a deluded public and re-election is assured. Note well; it is public money being invested in the politics of failure, not Governor Manchin's. The dividend is an illusion.
There will come a day, and every day passes it gets closer that this kind of institutionalized malfeasance will be answerable and reconciliation will be sought.

/Blair Anderson, New Zealand
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

When truth is the victim

My pennyworth…..
Responding to the many who have contributed to the crime statistics thread, I am glad there is some measure of oversight.

Crime is not just what is reported. Victims ’self report’ exceeded the offense statistics. Uninsured ‘burglary’ and dishonesty is an example. Another, and the GREENS executive know this but fail to connect the dots is the prevalence of ‘drug related’ crime, again not analysed in any meaningful way.

The nexus of many crimes of dishonesty is prohibition related. Criminogenic in nature, prohibitory social engineering escapes due scrutiny because contemporary analysis is conveniently simplistic, and (any) conclusion runs counter to prevailing political paradigms. There has NEVER been a cost benefit analysis of prohibition. What you cant measure you cannot manage.

Key matters arising from drug related crime is it being characterized by the vicious and often fatal outcomes, extended duration of inquiry, expense to prosecute and the difficulty of obtaining conviction(and resolution). These are all unmeasured.

The trial of those accused of Phillip Cowan’s bodyless murder trial (Operation VeeDub) cost over a million dollars. The inquiry even more. The truth was never discovered. What price ‘justice’ ?
Many prohibition related murders remain unresolved and some, where legally concluded still carry the baggage of significant doubt. Deviancy amplification is a consequence of the identified poor public health policy putting at stake, the integrity of the ‘law’ and thus governance. Simplified statistics for offenses disguises what is really broken while the societal cost of disrespect for rule of law is simply unaccounted.

What consequence is borne by all when Police are held in disrepute?(i.e.: the flood of PCA cases are a predictable outcome of social doubt )

The systemic failure here in New Zealand is having national Police ‘anti-drug’ protocols deficit funded. Drug interdiction activity is an easy way to top up the budgets. Drug related work is billed in half hour units. Just the same as Road Safety is billed to LTSA except… the LTSA $$ pool is finite.

Value and performance and return on investment are not words in the anti drug lexicon. It is, quite simply ‘allow’ [or maintain] the matrix of dysfunction’ at all costs. The market mechanism is self interest entrenches prohibition practice, anyone one who speaks up is a ‘pro drug’ loony, and politicians play ‘tough on crime’.

Until there is a cost benefit analysis (one was budgeted for, but dropped due to the legislative implications) , crime statistics will remain lies, lies and damned lies.

500 ++ Economists, including three nobel laureates called for such a study to be made… but the political economists, like Brash and others… duck for cover shying from any “soft on drugs” label and pretending that there are ‘more important matters’.

Yet the nexus of harm reduced drug policy would see crime drop massively along with prison musters. Application of effective drug policy would render the current bunch of politicians ’stupid’.

Thankfully there is a global trend that increasingly marginalises those who continue to see altered states as ‘evil’ and the demand for drugs as ‘eliminatable’. Such terms are historical anachronisms. Our current crime levels, what ever they are, are unacceptable. We should all be regaling.

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com

Labels: , , , ,

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Forestry industry fears mass job losses -Scotsman.com

New Zealand may need to examine both regional and national consequence of a 'forestry' based biomass industry..

Wood Waste streams are not all they seem, especially if subject to economic incentive perturbations such as carbon tax (although now not on the horizon, other renewable incentives are likely) AND improved efficiency of materials handling at source. Scotland is experiencing such concerns. /Blair

Forestry industry fears mass job losses / by GUY DIXON

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the future of the forestry industry amid fears that plans to generate energy from renewable sourcescould lead to large-scale job losses.

Companies operating in sawmilling, paper production, panel board manufacture and horticulture are concerned that an expected boom in demand for wood from biomass generators - which make energy from forestry off-cuts, crops and waste - will starve them of supplies.

They believe the extra demand from the energy companies will push prices of logs, sawdust, chips and bark to unsustainable levels and lead to cuts in Scotland's forestry-related industries, which supports thousands of jobs. see http://business.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=492006<>The Forestry Commission, the Confederation of Forest Industries and the Wood Panel Industries Federation are contributing to the study, which will look at whether enough wood will be grown in Scotland and northern England over the next 10 years to meet growing commercial demand.

The problem has come to a head because of government commitments to generate 10% of the UK's electricity by renewable sources by 2010 in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

To do this, it wants electricity generators to burn fewer fossil fuels such as coal and oil and use renewable sources, and is offering biomass companies lucrative public subsidies through a "Renewables Obligation" which is designed to offset production costs.

Alan Bloomfield, convener of the steering group responsible for commissioning the study, said: "UK wood production was recorded at 11million cubic metres in 2004 and the forecasts of future coniferous wood production potential from the Forestry Commission and private wood growers indicate this figure could rise to 14.5 million cubic metres by 2012.

"However, a fast-changing forest industry scenario, with an increasingnumber of wood processing and biomass energy projects announced or planned, has led to a demand for more accurate information to be available to all industries with an interest in the use of wood fibre.

It is hoped that this will provide a clearer and more comprehensive forward picture of availability of biomass over the next decade."

E.ON, the German utility, said recently that it would build a �90m biomass power plant near Lockerbie which will create around 300 jobs. The plant is expected to use around 450,000 tons of biomass material annually.

One of the companies that will read the findings of the study with interest is Stirling-based panel manufacturer Norbord, which employs around 1,000 people in the UK, including 450 in Scotland.

Steve Roebuck, a director at Norbord, said thousands of jobs in Scotland's panel board industry alone are at risk from the increase in demand from biomass and unfair government subsidies.

He said: "The problem we have is that virtually all of the economically available sources are already being used. If nothing changes, the material that's being used in industries like floorboard manufacturewill go into biomass. It could shut us down."

The study, which will look at projected supply and demand for wood until 2015, is expected to deliver the first of its findings in the new year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry said the government is currently examining the findings of a task force into the biomass industry and would respond next June.
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ENCOD New Years Bulletin

THE ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICY IN EUROPE

NR. 13. JANUARY  2006  (embargoed until Jan 14 2006)

EVERYONE IS A CITIZEN

Where people unite their individual strength and focus on one common purpose, miracles can happen. The fall of the wall would never have been possible without the mobilisation of thousands of citizens in Eastern Europe. Apartheid would still be in place in South Africa, three quarters of the world would still be colonised if citizens had not decided to resist them. This also applies for the drug war. One day, it will be over, and those who believed in it will at best be remembered as ignorant.

On 18 December, Bolivian citizens won a major battle in the struggle for global drug peace. Here, in the heart of the Latinamerican continent, Evo Morales, the undisputed leader of the Bolivian cocagrowers since 1990, was elected president with the largest majority of the votes since democracy was re-installed in the country in 1982.

For the past two decades, the United States and the European Union have "co-operated intensively" with the Bolivian government to reduce coca cultivation. Together, they  put more than 1 billion EURO in efforts to either  eradicate coca leaves or replace them with legal products, without success. That money was spent for nothing.

In the same period, more then hundred people were killed and thousands wounded in violent confrontations between coca growers and Bolivian armed forces. Today it seems  they did not die for nothing. Thanks to the combination of a just cause and remarkable political intelligence, the coca growers were able to build a political movement that
succeeded in peacefully and democratically taking over power in Bolivia in less than the life of an adolescent. Now that is an example to follow.

The Swiss citizens are on their way. Early December the initiative for a referendum on a legal regulation of cannabis completed the necessary amount of 100.000 signatures of citizens. All signatures had to be validated by the authorities of the local municipalities, (and there are 2.758 municipalities in Switzerland) so this has not been an easy task. If all goes well, the referendum will be held in 2006, which will lead to more public debate about regulation of cannabis in Switzerland. The same will occur in the Netherlands, where the lord mayors of several cities make sure the discussion on how to legally regulate the 'backdoor' of the coffee shops no longer is decided upon in the 'back rooms' of the political bureaucracy in The Hague.

In the Czech Republic, the first steps towards regulation of cannabis have been taken. Early December the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament approved a law proposal decriminalising the cultivation and possession of cannabis and mushrooms for personal use. It is almost sure the proposal, which has been requested for since a long time by activists and experts, will become law in 2007. Penalties for other drugs would remain more or less the same, but still the new law is interesting, as it goes against the tendency of re-criminalisation of cannabis that is taking place in various other European countries in the past years.

In the UK for example, the government keeps twisting around the issue of decriminalising cannabis. Home Minister David Blunkett proposed more than two years ago to make cannabis posession a non-arrestable offense, and since then, the government has been making U-turns. Based on a report of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs with supposed evidence about the link between use of cannabis and mental illness, Tony Blair is planning the reintroduction of tough penalties. "It would be a tremendous step backward, incoherent, and a waste of police resources without any benefit to society or public health", according to a public appeal against this decision that was signed among others by Sting. There are approx. 3 million UK citizens who consume cannabis.

Sometimes, citizen action is capable of obtaining small successes, which can have big consequences in the lives of those involved. Following the initiative of a former Brazilian judge, Mrs. Maria Luiza Karam, ENCOD spread out a protest letter against the incarceration of Mrs. Iolanda Figueral, a 79 year old woman in the terminal states of cancer accused of possessing 17 grammes of crack cocaine. Mrs. Figueral had been  sentenced to 4 years of prison by a judge in Sao Paulo on 6 December, but was released two weeks later, following several articles in the Brazilian press that were triggered by the protest letter signed by citizens from around the world.

Also ENCODs lobby for the set up of a sincere dialogue between authorities and civil society on drug policy in the European Union is becoming successful. On 13 December, an agreement was made between ENCOD and several Members of the European Parliament to organise, in the week of 6 March, just prior the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels. The purpose of this conference will be to express support for a fundamental revision of the UN Drug Conventions in order to allow for local experiments with harm reduction and regulation to take place within and outside Europe. The event will also facilitate an encounter between major actors, among civil society, local authorities and members of parliament, to design a strategy towards obtaining this revision at least in 2008, when UN policies will have to be evaluated. All ENCOD members who wish to participate in this event are invited to contact the secretariat.

And last but not least, the European Commission announced on 15 December its own initiative to organise a conference on the topic of 'civil society involvement in EU drug policy' as such. This conference will take place in Brussels on 26 and 27 January. As far as we know, no civil society organisation has been involved in the preparation of this conference. Lots of questions can be raised about the concrete purpose of this event, as well as about the way how the representatives of civil society will be selected. The Commission has committed itself to paying the travel costs of 60 people on a 'first come first served' basis, so people who are interested should register themselves as soon as possible (see www.europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home/news/events/news_events_en.htm.

ENCODs biggest success this year, however, has been its mere survival. Thanks to the support of its own members, well to say. The growing commitment among companies representing the industry around the use of cannabis and other 'decriminalised' drugs has made it possible to ensure some perspectives on the near future, which seemed so dark a few months ago. To prologue these perspectives, however, the commitment of more citizens is needed. There are several initiatives that you can become involved in: a group of ENCOD activists is preparing a music CD that could be used for fundraising purposes. Designs for advertisements and posters have been made which can be combined with the use of money boxes that can be put in shops etc. Please consult www.encod.org or ask the secretariat.

There are only have two years left to the evaluation of UN drug policies. If we will succeed in using that momentum to obtain a public debate on the need to end the war on drugs depends on our actions now. Happy New Year!

Joep Oomen
www.encod.org


SIGN THE PETITION FOR A CHANGE IN EU DRUG POLICIES NOW: http://action.encod.org
EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES (ENCOD)
Lange Lozanastraat 14
2018 Antwerpen
Belgium
Tel. 00 32 (0)3 237 7436
Mobile: + 33 6 148 156 79 (Farid Ghehioueche)
Fax. 00 32 (0)3 237 0225
E-mail:encod@glo.be
Website: www.encod.org

Dear friends,

Herewith I send you the ENCOD bulletin of January 2006. Please note that you are welcome to send this bulletin (that also is published in Dutch and Spanish) to organisations or individuals who may be interested in becoming a member. You are also welcome to translate it in your language and send it back to me so I can put it on the encod website.

In January, ENCOD is planning several activities. On 18 and 19th January, the Steering Committee will meet in Amsterdam. From 20 to 22 January, we will have a stand at the Highlife Fair in the RAI in Amsterdam. And on 26 and 27 January, we will be present with a large number of people at the Conference on "Civil Society and Drugs" organised by the European Commission in Brussels.

If you are interested to receive posters (which also can be used as an advertisement) at: www.encod.org/FREETOFARM.pdf , please let me know and I send you some hard paper copies.

You can also find this poster in other languages in digital version on www.encod.org/FREETOFARMned.pdf (Dutch), www.encod.org/FREETOFARMfin.pdf (Finnish), www.encod.org/FREETOFARMpol.pdf (Polish) or www.encod.org/LIBERTADPARACULTIVAR.pdf (Spanish)

Those who wish to have a poster in their language, please send me the translation of the text and I'll take care of the rest.

Hope we will continue to work together towards just and effective drug policies in 2006.

Joep



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