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

Monday, February 26, 2007

Re: ct H.B. 6715

Dear Charles.

Although this email has arrived here in New Zealand (also with med pot under consideration by the house of Representatives, debate due, May sometime) it is received with appreciation as the content of the CT bill is useful, if only to indicate how mediated the bill is by prejudicial prohibitionary influence. I am not for legislative models that contain such clauses no matter how 'moral or middle ground' they may look.

What is required is simply the removal of the alienating double standards that are in themselves the *identified impediments to credible drug education thus enabling 'social norms' as protection against systemic deviancy. Many of the clauses in the bill (draft, i hope) below are about as problematic as the law against cannabis itself and, in time will only serve to give scope to those who consider this herb and any use thereof an abomination.
Reality based medicinal use of cannabis will not be found in this over legislated, over governed unenforceable 'treatment option'.

For example. There is no foundation for a maximum legal threshold of four plants - all could be male and thus tantamount to useless. Four small, by definition, plants would not yield an annual medicinal requirement for smoking or tincture. As any competent Gardener will elucidate to this debate... one cannot raise a family on four vegetable seeds of unknown utility, pest and disease resistance or for that matter... risk from the elements. To expect the medically challenged to be competent and proficient gardeners, or have to wait until plants reach some modicum of maturity reflects the absurdity.

Which suggests that this bill, if enacted is designed with inherent flaws that fail the sick, ignores completely the efficacy of prevention (vs: cure/amelioration) The constraint on public utility of this herb and its variety of 'modes of use' ignores 'best practice' medical principles and will reveal little value in 'research' other than demonstrate that otherwise law abiding sick people will continue to be forced to supplement from the 'black market' and subject to criminal sanction.

Access to medicinal use of this exceptional herbs qualities should be, indeed must be, unfettered.

Disability law in New Zealand contains excellent guidelines to implementing successful model albeit one that NZ could well apply to its drug laws as well, but you allude to the many medpot users who lobby based around "we need it", may I suggest this is out of pure desperation.

A considered public health approach would embrace these folk (as consumers of a service) and move towards an optimal legislative model founded on 'no decision about us, without us' as the expeditious [and Just] route to best practice. (its Ottawa Charter principles - the stuff of social capital)

The focus of the legislature should be to uphold the medical premise.. first do no harm.
Of course, the option of status quo is even worse.

* NZ Health Select Cmte report 1998

You may know of others who may benefit from these expressed concerns. Feel free to pass on freely.

On 2/25/07, Charles Jackson <> wrote:
Hi Mr Thorton,
My name is Charles Jackson. I had the pleasure to meet you at your nomination as the Green Party canidate for Governor last summer. I was representing CT-N as a member of the press corp.
I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of a proposed bill for the legalization of medical marijuana. H.B. 6715. It will be called for a public hearing on Monday 2pm-6pm in room 2C at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
I'm a firm believer that if you have something to say. Say it often and say it again and eventually someone will listen and maybe say it themselves. In any case I just thought you should testify. I would like to hear you speak on this issue and maybe someone will hear you. Besides not enough people show up for or against it and when they do they don't have much to say other than they want it.
I've copied and pasted the proposed bill H.B. 6715 to this email.
Connecticut Seal
General Assembly
Raised Bill No. 6715
January Session, 2007
LCO No. 3384
Referred to Committee on Judiciary
Introduced by:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) As used in sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Debilitating medical condition" means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia or wasting syndrome;
(2) "Marijuana" has the same meaning as provided in section 21a-240 of the general statutes;
(3) "Palliative use" means the acquisition and distribution, possession, cultivation, use or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to marijuana to alleviate a qualifying patient's symptoms or the effects of such symptoms, but does not include any such use of marijuana by any person other than the qualifying patient. For the purposes of this subdivision, "acquisition and distribution" means the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia relating to marijuana from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient;
(4) "Physician" means a person who is licensed under the provisions of chapter 370 of the general statutes, but does not include a physician assistant, as defined in section 20-12a of the general statutes;
(5) "Primary caregiver" means a person, other than the qualifying patient and the qualifying patient's physician, who is eighteen years of age or older and has agreed to undertake responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualifying patient with respect to the palliative use of marijuana, provided (A) in the case of a qualifying patient lacking legal capacity, such person shall be a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of such qualifying patient, and (B) the need for such person shall be evaluated by the qualifying patient's physician and such need shall be documented in the written certification;
(6) "Qualifying patient" means a person who is eighteen years of age or older and has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition;
(7) "Usable marijuana" means the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixtures or preparations thereof, that are appropriate for the palliative use of marijuana, but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant; and
(8) "Written certification" means a statement signed by the qualifying patient's physician stating that, in such physician's professional opinion, the qualifying patient has a debilitating medical condition and the potential benefits of the palliative use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks of such use to the qualifying patient.
Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) A qualifying patient shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner, including, but not limited to, being subject to any civil penalty, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, being subject to any disciplinary action by a professional licensing board, for the palliative use of marijuana if:
(1) The qualifying patient has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition;
(2) The qualifying patient's physician has issued a written certification to the qualifying patient for the palliative use of marijuana after the physician has prescribed, or determined it is not in the best interest of the patient to prescribe, prescription drugs to address the symptoms or effects for which the certification is being issued;
(3) The combined amount of marijuana possessed by the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver for palliative use does not exceed four marijuana plants, each having a maximum height of four feet, and one ounce of usable marijuana; and
(4) The cultivation of such marijuana occurs in a secure indoor facility.
(b) Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to:
(1) Any palliative use of marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another person; and
(2) The palliative use of marijuana (A) in a motor bus or a school bus, as defined respectively in section 14-1 of the general statutes, or in any moving vehicle, (B) in the workplace, (C) on any school grounds or any public or private school, dormitory, college or university property, (D) at any public beach, park, recreation center or youth center or any other place open to the public, or (E) in the presence of a person under the age of eighteen. For the purposes of this subdivision, "presence" means within the direct line of sight of the palliative use of marijuana or exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke, or both.
(c) A qualifying patient shall have not more than one primary caregiver at any time. A primary caregiver may not be responsible for the care of more than one qualifying patient at any time. A primary caregiver who is registered in accordance with subsection (a) of section 3 of this act shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner, including, but not limited to, being subject to any civil penalty, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, being subject to any disciplinary action by a professional licensing board, for the acquisition, distribution, possession, cultivation or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia related to marijuana on behalf of a qualifying patient, provided the amount of any marijuana so acquired, distributed, possessed, cultivated or transported, together with the combined amount of marijuana possessed by the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver, shall not exceed four marijuana plants, each having a maximum height of four feet, and one ounce of usable marijuana. For the purposes of this subsection, "distribution" or "distributed" means the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia related to marijuana from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient.
(d) Any written certification for the palliative use of marijuana issued by a physician under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section shall be valid for a period not to exceed one year from the date such written certification is signed by the physician. Not later than ten days after the expiration of such period, or at any time before the expiration of such period should the qualifying patient no longer wish to possess marijuana for palliative use, the qualifying patient or the primary caregiver shall destroy all marijuana plants and usable marijuana possessed by the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver for palliative use.
Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) Each qualifying patient who is issued a written certification for the palliative use of marijuana under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 2 of this act, and the primary caregiver of such qualifying patient, shall register with the Department of Public Health not later than five business days after the issuance of such written certification. Such registration shall be effective until the expiration of the written certification issued by the physician. The qualifying patient and the primary caregiver shall provide sufficient identifying information, as determined by the department, to establish the personal identity of the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver. The qualifying patient or the primary caregiver shall report any change in such information to the department not later than five business days after such change. The department shall issue a registration certificate to the qualifying patient and to the primary caregiver and may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed twenty-five dollars, for a registration under this subsection.
(b) Upon the request of a law enforcement agency, the Department of Public Health shall verify whether a qualifying patient or a primary caregiver has registered with the department in accordance with subsection (a) of this section and may provide reasonable access to registry information obtained under this section for law enforcement purposes. Except as provided in this subsection, information obtained under this section shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200 of the general statutes.
Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) The Commissioner of Public Health may adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to establish (1) a standard form for written certifications for the palliative use of marijuana issued by physicians under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 2 of this act, and (2) procedures for registrations under section 3 of this act.
(b) The Commissioner of Public Health shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to establish a reasonable fee to be collected from each qualifying patient to whom a written certification for the palliative use of marijuana is issued under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 2 of this act, for the purpose of offsetting the direct and indirect costs of administering the provisions of sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act. The commissioner shall collect such fee at the time the qualifying patient registers with the Department of Public Health under subsection (a) of section 3 of this act. Such fee shall be in addition to any registration fee that may be charged under said subsection. The fees required to be collected by the commissioner from qualifying patients under this subsection shall be paid to the State Treasurer and credited to the account established pursuant to section 10 of this act.
Sec. 5. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) Nothing in sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act shall be construed to require health insurance coverage for the palliative use of marijuana.
Sec. 6. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) A qualifying patient or a primary caregiver may assert the palliative use of marijuana as an affirmative defense to any prosecution involving marijuana, or paraphernalia relating to marijuana, under chapter 420b of the general statutes or any other provision of the general statutes, provided such qualifying patient or such primary caregiver has strictly complied with the requirements of sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act.
(b) No person shall be subject to arrest or prosecution solely for being in the presence or vicinity of the palliative use of marijuana as permitted under sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act.
Sec. 7. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) A physician shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner, including, but not limited to, being subject to any civil penalty, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, being subject to any disciplinary action by the Connecticut Medical Examining Board or other professional licensing board, for providing a written certification for the palliative use of marijuana under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 2 of this act if:
(1) The physician has diagnosed the qualifying patient as having a debilitating medical condition;
(2) The physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of the palliative use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and, if the qualifying patient lacks legal capacity, to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the qualifying patient; and
(3) The written certification issued by the physician is based upon the physician's professional opinion after having completed a full assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history and current medical condition made in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship.
Sec. 8. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) Any marijuana, paraphernalia relating to marijuana, or other property seized by law enforcement officials from a qualifying patient or a primary caregiver in connection with a claimed palliative use of marijuana under sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act shall be returned to the qualifying patient or the primary caregiver immediately upon the determination by a court that the qualifying patient or the primary caregiver is entitled to the palliative use of marijuana under sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act, as evidenced by a decision not to prosecute, a dismissal of charges or an acquittal. Law enforcement officials seizing live marijuana plants as evidence shall not be responsible for the care and maintenance of such plants. This section does not apply to any qualifying patient or primary caregiver who fails to comply with the requirements for the palliative use of marijuana under sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act.
Sec. 9. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) Any person who makes a fraudulent representation to a law enforcement official of any fact or circumstance relating to the palliative use of marijuana in order to avoid arrest or prosecution under chapter 420b of the general statutes or any other provision of the general statutes shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
(b) Any person who makes a fraudulent representation to a law enforcement official of any fact or circumstance relating to the issuance, contents or validity of a written certification for the palliative use of marijuana, or a document purporting to be such written certification, shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Sec. 10. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) There is established a palliative marijuana administration account which shall be a separate, nonlapsing account within the General Fund. The account shall contain the fees collected pursuant to subsection (b) of section 4 of this act, and any other moneys required by law to be deposited in the account, and shall be held in trust separate and apart from all other moneys, funds and accounts. Any balance remaining in the account at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward in the account for the fiscal year next succeeding. Investment earnings credited to the account shall become part of the account. Amounts in the account shall be expended only pursuant to appropriation by the General Assembly for the purpose of providing funds for administering the provisions of sections 1 to 9, inclusive, of this act.
This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
Section 1
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 2
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 3
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 4
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 5
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 6
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 7
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 8
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 9
October 1, 2007
New section
Sec. 10
July 1, 2007
New section
Statement of Purpose:
To allow Connecticut residents with certain debilitating medical conditions to cultivate and use marijuana for palliative purposes under certain circumstances and with certain restrictions when a treating physician provides a professional opinion that the benefits of the palliative use of marijuana outweigh the health risks for the patient.
[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined. ]

Have an utterly excellent day....

Blair Anderson

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Whats wrong (with drug ed) in School?

....a rough guide to the drugs being used by today's teens and 20-somethings:

METHAMPHETAMINE ( ice and speed ): Amid a sustained heroin drought (since Mr Asia affair in NZ) ice has become the second-most commonly taken drug after marijuana. (Australian data, 2006)

It is absolutely predictable methamphetamine was going to become prevalent in New Zealand, it was primed for 'worst case scenario' by the elevated level of largely incidental cannabis busts, a national police force utilising post911 technologies, lousy drug education and a propensity to innovate.

Again, in that this regards the very same matrix of maladministration, the kids in New Zealand from anecdote and observations attest that cannabis is a dirty drug...

If NZ's FADE endorsed and widely used Physical Education curricula aimed at Year 10 is anything to go by, with its focus on harms is directed at cannabis, we bought right into this problem.

In police approved 'supplied cannabis content' FADE's curricula on harms from illicit status is left unquestioned while perpetuating harm myths.

The drug section in this real world example follows directly after 'SELF-ESTEEM'. (Do they not get it?, its not lack of self esteem that gets these kids into trouble with drugs, its that the ones they want to talk to have either switched off or they are smart enough to listen to their own bullshite detectors.)

Use of cannabis: "is likely to be suspended or indefinitely to appear before the Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the Board of Trustees"... Who made the rules? The High School Board of Trustees.

The Board then asks of this kid;
[3] "What group on the Board assess the scale of offences and appropriate action?",
[4] "Would you expect the Board to 'indefinitely suspend in all drug cases? Yes/No?"

and then, here's the killer questions ,

[5] "Explain your reasons for answering [4] as you did" {three lines to answer it in}
[6] Would you inform a staff member of the school is you saw or were offered drugs?
[7] Explain your answer to number [6] {four lines}
[8] Do you think drug use is widespread as SBHS? Y/N/?
Explain your answer fully: {four lines}

These workbooks are named and dated!

Other notable points. The perjorative term "marijuana" is used everywhere, headings like "The Deal on Dope", "The Real Deal on Marijuana" are examples, complimented with cartoons.
(it is ironic, when i was a kid, cartoons were seditious! Did they discover something about the medium??))

The content is arguably suspect in its simplistic and often erroneous assertions. Marijuana is the 'dried leaves of the Indian Hemp plant', the 400 Chemicals, THC "is a depressant" that slows down thinking and other processes in the brain (like it doesn't do anything else) . These saws are worthy of discussion.

But: there's more.

It asserts that hash oil is 'even stronger' than solid hash. While this might be debatable in the exception more than the rule who ever in this 'education' climate is going to debate it? (Sorry Socrates!) See where this is leading? Where is the harm reduction/minimisation strategies when there is no integrity in the message. This is the impediment to credible (anti) drug education the Health Select Committee identified in its report published in 1998. Ten years of National Drug Policy later and even that review is stalled in stables (with a flawed due process choking on cannabis 'legal status', twice recommended by statutory empowered committee.).

If we are to understand Cannabis in Context - discussion is required surrounding this Board of Trustees approved cannabis education aid.

The Boards of Trustees are 'elected'. They are lobbied by the Managers Guild, the Police and just about every other moral guardian in the school district. They are with doubt a conservative body. Reputation is everything.

If drug use is a health issue, under the 'no decision about us without us' standard applies (NZ Disabilities Act).

Perhaps if some common civility was restored to the manner in which we deal with drugs per se the methamphetamine problem would simply evaporate along with the graduated scale of lying that is co-morbid with retributive drug policy.

"A person doesn't really know it will affect them each time they use it" - they bloody enjoy it you clods! Oh but you said that here. "Reactions include a feeling of well being with a tendency to talk and laugh more. This may be followed by a sense of relaxation and tiredness". (Sounds an awful lot like sex to me!)

This phrase is unacceptable in 2007

Long-term effects
There is much about marijuana that is not known. A lot more research needs
to be done. However, scientific research has been able to show that long-term,
heavy use may result in some serious health effects.

It goes on to associate cannabis with paranoia, vomiting, hallucinations, amotivation/apathy, cancer, less sex hormones and 'triggering' depression and schizophrenia.

"THC from a single joint can take up to 30 days to be completely eliminated from the body"
"marijuana was detected in 11 percent of road fatalities"
"tobacco smokers are more likely to smoke marijuana than non-smokers"
"a foetus exposed to marijuana may be born smaller and lighter"

Legal Issues
After working through the legal truths and myths activity answer the
questions below:

1] Are any laws that you disagree with? If yes, give at least one reason
why. If no, why do you agree with the laws?

2] Would you adjust any of the drug laws that we have in place now -
why/why not and how?

3] What would happen if these laws did not exist?

Note: the answers are reviewed and graded by physical education teachers accountable to the Board of Trustees.

Here is a graphic image of one page [link 150kb] . Read the instructions carefully and consider the implications (for both the student and his/her peer).

Aside from facts suggesting at this age any class room could contain 3-4 experimental users (or more, this data is in all likelihood under reported), these questions would fail ANY ethical test in a questionnaire for research purposes. There is no informed consent using this modality(to ask peers these questions, report what they said and name them). This is neither a private conversation nor is an an accurate record, but it is permanent. And that makes it erroneous.

I consider this a grave development in an ongoing disaster in drug education, ethically worse in many respect than lying to them. At least in the exaggerated harms scenario the individual can discern the truth. Whereas this Stasi like cross reference is likely to be held to contempt by some, if you don't need to know, there is no right to ask?

Where problems or problematic behaviours exist, sure jump in and treat them.

A Tripartite resolution is the required protocol. Restorative Justice in Schools, as in Life should be the derigour. Drug education should be in context and across the curriculum. FADE is an experiment. They still tell Rotary's that MDMA makes holes in your brain.

BTW: I stood in the Shirely by-election, the hot issue in the media at the time, the Shirley Boys High students were bonking the intermediate school next door girls... in exchange for cannabis.

Which was about the time FADE stepped in.

I thank and appreciate the honesty of the current PE teacher who supplied this information and commend his integrity for agreeing to some applied oversight and review. (FADE had been, or was going to be invited to consult on curriculum development this year.)

I have long concurred with PE teach's mentor, Gillian Tasker [formerly of Christchurch College of Education] that Ottawa Charter principles be 'our guide'.

Now it will be up to due process, and a school board to see to it that the drug education we deliver out kids is 'safety first and do no harm'.

Pity the PPTA [NZ] wont come on board.
The Californians PTA seem to get it... see "Alternatives to Zero Tolerance"

Blair Anderson
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Friday, February 23, 2007

Walters/Nadelmann's message from Ottawa

I am up in Ottawa today to welcome John Walters in town. See my op-ed bellow. / I think the Canadians, by and large, are too smart for him.

Huffington Post... well what else! Walters' Sugarcoating to Canadians Can't Hide US's Miserable Record on Drug Policy

Canada must not follow the U.S. on drug policy
Ethan Nadelmann, Citizen Special

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The U.S. drug czar, John Walters, is in Ottawa today, trying his best to put a positive spin on one of the greatest disasters in U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Part of his agenda is to persuade Canada to follow in U.S. footsteps, which can only happen if Canadians ignore science, compassion, health and human rights.

The United States ranks first in the world in per-capita incarceration, with roughly five per cent of the earth's population but 25 per cent of the total incarcerated population. Russia and China simply can't keep up. Among the 2.2 million people behind bars today in the United States, roughly half a million are locked up for drug-law violations, and hundreds of thousands more for other "drug-related" offences. The U.S. "war on drugs" costs at least $40 billion U.S. a year in direct costs, and tens of billions more in indirect costs.

It's all useful information for Canadians to keep in mind when being encouraged to further toughen their drug laws to bring them in line with those of the United States.

What's most remarkable about U.S . drug policy is the way it endures despite persistent evidence that it is ineffective, costly and counterproductive. One report after another -- by the U.S. General Accountability Office, the National Academy of Sciences, independent agencies and even the Bush administration itself -- consistently fault federal drug-control programs for failing to achieve their objectives.

But funding nonetheless persists. The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, which relies on police to "educate" young people about drugs, keeps being funded despite an impressive run of studies demonstrating no effect on adolescent drug use. Ditto for the
government's border interdiction and anti-drug ad campaigns, and its funding of federal-state anti-drug task forces, and much else.

Drug-policy reformers in the United States have been cheered by Canada's willingness -- at least until now -- to look to Europe rather than the United States for drug-control models. When HIV/AIDS started spreading a generation ago among people who inject drugs, both Europe and Canada were quick to implement needle exchanges and other harm-reduction programs, even as the United States opted instead to allow hundreds of thousands to become infected and die needlessly.

Heroin-prescription trials are now underway in Montreal and Vancouver, trying to determine whether what worked so well in Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and other countries can also work in Canada. The same is true of supervised injection sites, which have proven effective in reducing fatal overdoses, transmission of infectious diseases and drug-related nuisance. And most recently, Vancouver's mayor, Sam Sullivan, has broken new ground by proposing that cocaine and methamphetamine addicts be prescribed legal substitutes.

But I wonder whether Canada just can't help following in U.S. footsteps. DARE survives in Canada too, notwithstanding evidence of its lack of efficacy. Almost three quarters of Canadian federal drug-strategy spending is for law-enforcement initiatives, few of which demonstrate
any success in reducing drug problems. "While harm-reduction interventions supported through the drug strategy are being held to an extraordinary standard of proof," the director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Dr. Julio Montaner, recently observed, "those receiving the greatest proportion of funding remain under-evaluated or have already proven to be ineffective."

The survival of Vancouver's supervised-injection facility is currently at risk, for reasons having everything to do with politics and nothing with science or health, while federal drug-enforcement authorities know that all they need to do to preserve funding is make arrests and avoid

What matters most to U.S. drug czar John Walters, though, is cannabis, which he occasionally, and absurdly, describes as the most dangerous of all drugs. Seventy per cent of Americans say cannabis should be legal for medical purposes, and one study after another points to its efficacy
and safety as a medicine. A similar percentage also think personal possession of marijuana should be decriminalized (i.e., resulting in fines rather than arrest and incarceration) and 40 per cent say it should be taxed, controlled and regulated, more or less like alcohol.

But Mr. Walters will have none of it. He travels the country, railing against cannabis and urging schools to drug test all students, without cause -- and without any scientific evidence that testing will work. And when he visits or talks about Canada, it's typically to complain -- erroneously -- that Canada is a major supplier of marijuana for the U.S., never mind the fact that Americans now produce most of the marijuana consumed in the United States.

Canada needs to lead, not follow, the United States when it comes to dealing sensibly with drugs. Mr. Walters's Canadian hosts today should remind him of the 2002 report of the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, chaired by Conservative Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin.

It's probably the best, most comprehensive, most evidence-based report on drug policy produced by any government in the past 30 years. And its recommendations are all about dealing with drugs as if politics were an afterthought, and all that mattered were reducing the harms associated with both drug use and failed drug policies. Imagine that.

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (, the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs, and co-author of Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations.

(c) The Ottawa Citizen 2007
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Justice, equity and compassion, oh and C&C!

Justice, equity and compassion are core principles treasured by all civilised nations. We must uphold them if we are to restore our conflict-ridden global society. By applying the equity principle, enshrined in the UN Charter and the U.S. Declaration of Independence, as Aubrey Meyer reminds us, we could avoid the vortex of rising global warming calamities, and increasing inequity.
Kay Weir, Editor, Pacific Ecologist issue 13 Summer 2006/07

Blair Anderson
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Doctors and Labour Party agree sick patients should be arrested [ALCP]

For the many sick people who are desperate enough to risk expensively - and often dangerously - engaging with the NZ cannabis black market, in order to obtain the most effective medicine for their condition, there are no valentines this year.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Ministry of Health very quietly acknowledged last October that there is "sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy of cannabis in some medical conditions." However, the next day political expedience raised its ugly head when PM Helen Clark, perhaps concerned about a grip on power that depends on support from prohibitionists Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton, denied that a law change for medicinal cannabis users might happen any time soon. [more]

Blair Anderson
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Friday, February 16, 2007

Smoking Issue non-issue

The data failed to show an association between long-term marijuana smoking and airflow obstruction (emphysema), as measured by airway hyperreactivity, forced expiratory volume (FEV), and other measures, investigators reported. Short-term use of cannabis was associated with bronchodilation. (Hence the effacious Asthma intervention of yesteryear/Blair)
Investigators did find that long-term marijuana smoking was associated with an increased risk of certain respiratory complications -- including cough, bronchitis, phlegm, and wheezing. Most of these complications persisted even after researchers adjusted for tobacco smoking.
Previous reviews of long-term cannabis smoking have noted similar respiratory complications, though an association between cannabis use and lung and/or upper aerodigestive tract (UAT) cancers has not been found.
Authors suggested that cannabis inhalation via specialized delivery systems such as vaporizers would likely yield different results.
February issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
Minor Respiratory Complications, No Decrease In Pulmonary Function Associated With Long-Term Marijuana Smoking, Study Says


Blair Anderson

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Another 'moral' law that obsfucates reality

Whose fault is it that 13-year-old "Julie Doe" lied about her age, met a guy on and was allegedly sexually assaulted by him in a Texas parking lot?
It is not someones fault, it is yet another 'moral' law that obsfucates reality. Who was the victim here?
Age of Consent issues were raised by Phil Goff a couple of years ago (my press release on this appears to have been removed from SCOOP.CO.NZ)
Blair Anderson
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Respectful Schools (Restorative Justice)

(all this and not a mention of the word drug, drugs, cannabis, dope, pot, marijuana... go figure!)
We spend a fortune telling everyone pot is the problem and now its not.... Look, it either is or it isn't?
The NZ ommissioner for Children needs to take a look at the latest UN report on how our kids are doing and duly note where Netherlands appears. Is that the top? Empowered Parents and Children, perhaps the double standards are not getting in the way anymore....

Blair Anderson
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On Ending Global Apartheid

"the inequity of drug policy, on a global scale, is bigger than apartheid"
(Blair Anderson, Jackson/Tamahere, Radio Live, 15 Feb)
“Averting climate change actually means ending global apartheid,”
(Principles to reverse global warming and end poverty, Aubrey Mayer, Pacific Ecologist issue 13 Summer 2006/07)

Blair Anderson
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Comment to Maxim on Unicef Report

attn: Greg Flemming, Maxim
UNICEF report... top contender in the kid raising stakes?? Netherlands. How odd.

1/4 as likely as our kids to teen pregnancy, deviancy, std's, and 1/5 teen suicide.

How do I convince skeptics this has nothing to do with effective 'restorative practices' in dutch youth management....

Especially the iniquitous drug policy area.

Cindy Kiro's/Parl Commish report on restorative practices in Schools report doesn't even mention cannabis/marijuana/pot/dope or drug or drugs....

I commend readers vexed by the problems raised by these issues to see by visiting Professor Rodney Skager (May 2006). Rodney applauded Maori restorative practices in this area.

(Rodney is keen to come back and talk about what he learned while here, Auckland Rotaries are keen to have him speak....)

Getting tough on tagging fails to address, despite the frustrations of some in what is broken here; alienation from rule of law and rejection of moral values systems....

But we heard all that before haven't we...its the constrained dialogue that is 'outdated', not te data....

Blair Anderson,

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Clark 'expediency' denies compassionate use

"I'm in favour of partial decriminalisation" (1994)
Clearly Helen prefers the part that ensures she maintains tenuous hold on power on the back of denying compassion to her subjects...

Clark snuffs out dope law hope
Prime Minister Helen Clark has dampened down expectations of an immediate change to medicinal cannabis laws, saying Health Ministry advice should not be read as a "major endorsement" of its use. (a strawman Helen? Obsfucationary at best... MoH didnt endorse, nor did the advice, it reported facts 'known to science'.)

Miss Clark also made it clear that the ministry came down against the use of leaf cannabis to ease pain, as the release of new papers raises fresh debate over what has become a politically contentious issue. ('leaf cannabis' - whah, Sativex is whole cannabis, it is proof of the lie. 'has become a politically contentious issue', again misreported, it is the abject failure of prohibition that is without doubt contentious - not the efficacy of the herb, that is without doubt. Helen can own her opinions but she cannot own the truth)

She said there "may be something" to the use of a special nasal spray containing THC and other extracts from the cannabis plant, which is being tested in Britain. But, while the British pharmaceutical company testing the spray Sativex was happy to supply it for clinical trials in New Zealand, "they've never applied for approval of it".

The Misuse of Drugs Act allows doctors to apply for special approval from the health minister to prescribe cannabis for a patient under their care.

But that is dependent on cannabis being available in an appropriate medicinal form. (Accompanied by an invoice....)

The Dominion Post revealed yesterday that health authorities had acknowledged that there was enough evidence to support the use of cannabis on compassionate grounds.
In an October briefing paper to Health Minister Pete Hodgson, the ministry said there was "sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy of cannabis in some medical conditions" to support consideration of compassionate, controlled use. (proving yet again, that prohibition is no control at all)

Miss Clark said her reading of the Health Department paper was that it was "not a major endorsement of the use of cannabis".
"They have had approval in Canada for (Sativex) as a treatment related to the relief of pain from multiple sclerosis, so there may be something in it, but we simply haven't had an application."
Some Labour MPs are known to support medicinal cannabis use, but the issue is fraught because of Labour's support arrangements with other parties like United Future, which opposes the decriminalisation of cannabis, but has an open mind about medicinal use.
Green MP Metiria Turei said she had a bill decriminalising medicinal cannabis that was awaiting further information. "It is a health issue to some extent, but for patients who are likely to die ... really, the risk of smoking is completely irrelevant." (We are all gonna die.... besides smoking in terms of delivery and harm minimisation works because the titration and thus mediation of any side effect is 'realtime'. )

Mrs Turei said she believed there was growing support for the medicinal use of cannabis, but had no undertakings from any party to back the bill to select committee.
This is inane policy development process and characterises everything that is wrong with associating 'crime' with off label use of a herb that has been described as an 'anti-aging drug' (Assoc Prof Robert Melamede) and as the 'Aspro of the 21st Century' (Prof Emeritus, Lester Grinspoon).
Blair Anderson
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RIP Eddie Ellison.

Yesterday (see prior blog entry) I wrote noting the linkage between the discovery of the DNA Helix/LSD and Eddie Ellison. A few hours after posting this I was informed by Clifford Wallace Thornton jr, via an email that we had lost Eddie to Cancer. (29 january)
This is a sad loss, to reform and in particular to New Zealand as Eddie had real insight into what's broken here and its not all 'drugs'. We have a police force whose 'drug arm' is deficit funded with a bottomless barrel and that is a recipe for policy and policing disaster.
I am moved to say... we lost a Friend of New Zealand.
Eddie was the former head of the Scotland Yard drugs squad, and UK director of LEAP There is a tribute to him on the Transform Blog here:
Also there is now a tribute on the LEAP.CC website.
Ellison recognises the international impact
of United States drug policies are the major obstacle to Europe's evolution to a
compassionate, supportive and educational approach. Eddie joined LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION, because he believes LEAP presents a logical, experienced, respected, yet critical, view of American drug policy. The more he learn(ed) about the justification, implementation and impact of American drug policy the more he feels proud to be British and European. Eddie Ellison's Homepage
Blair Anderson
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Monday, February 12, 2007

LSD High and Peak Oil

Hmmm... the connection between the MildGreens touring UK detective, LEAP's Eddie Ellison and LSD ? partially detailed in is the sensorial connection between the unraveling of the double helix (also involving NZ'er Maurice Wilkins) and a brilliant young biochemist Richard Kemp who was busted in a Welsh countryside cottage by Eddie and his team. Eddie called it 'not one of his more memorable' busts as the wonderous amounts of money was not used for personal gain rather is funded very succesfuly a whole countercultural experience including putting Glastonbury on the map by paying for the bands and other expenses that gave it its edge.
How prophetic " 'They believe industrial society will collapse when the oil runs out and that the answer is to change people's mindsets using acid. They believe LSD can help people to see that a return to a natural society based on self-sufficiency is the only way to save themselves."....
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Cautious nod for cannabis medicine

Health authorities admit there is enough evidence to support use of cannabis on compassionate grounds.

(How about scientific and medical grounds.. that would be a better basis for a decision than this kind of pseudo care... Health authorities need to read some Russo/McPartland or Melamede. I don't need an ASPRO but I'm told its good for cardiac/stroke health prevention. The same benefit and MORE go for WHOLE CANNABIS. I don't need a POLITICIAN or a BUREAUCRAT to tell me when, where or why or how much... Informed Consent is all the permission I need. /Blair)

In an October briefing paper to Health Minister Pete Hodgson, the ministry says there is "sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy of cannabis in some medical conditions" to support consideration of compassionate, controlled use.

This could include use when conventional treatments have failed.

The Government has been accused of dragging its feet on reform to allow medicinal use of cannabis.

Health Ministry documents obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show the debate has raged for six years without progress.

The briefing paper came ahead of a meeting with Green MP Metiria Turei, sponsor of a private member's bill calling for medicinal use.

It says the known medicinal uses are increasing and research suggests it can help treat conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and nausea associated with cancer treatment. However, the ministry expresses concern about harm caused by smoking the drug and problems of arranging legal supply.

It says a pharmaceutical form of cannabis, such as the nasal spray Sativex, would address such issues.

Sativex was approved for multiple sclerosis patients in Canada in 2005 and is being trialled in Britain. No application to use it or any other pharmaceutical form of cannabis here has been made to Medsafe.

At present, the health minister has the power to authorise medicinal use of cannabis if a doctor applies on behalf of a patient. However, according to the ministry, no medical practitioners have applied.

Billy McKee, director of GreenCross, a patients' medicinal cannabis support group, said it was frustrating the Government had "stalled" on addressing the issue.

He smokes cannabis daily to control chronic pain dating from car crash injuries sustained 30 years ago.

He has been prosecuted for cannabis use but now has a letter from his GP to say he uses it for medical reasons and carries a GreenCross card that asks police to use their discretionary powers when deciding whether to arrest him.

Mr McKee, of Levin, said his GP would not apply for ministerial approval on his behalf because of the bureaucracy involved. "I've applied two or three times but it's always been knocked back," he said.

Ms Turei, whose private member's bill will be put to the vote in May, said there was huge need for medicinal cannabis to be made legally available.

The best way to ensure patients had cheap access to cannabis was to allow them to grow their own. However, the dosage should be managed by a doctor, she said.

Under her bill, patients could apply for an identification card that would entitle them to possess the drug for personal use.

Mr Hodgson has said he will consider the research before deciding whether to back Ms Turei's bill.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation supported the bill going to select committee, but executive director Ross Bell said medicinal cannabis should be grown in a controlled environment rather than by patients. Leaf cannabis should be trialled for three to five years so its medicinal benefits could be assessed.

Norml, a group pushing for reform of cannabis laws, has handed a 3000-name petition to Parliament calling for legalised medical use.

Medical Association chairman Ross Boswell said its policy was for doctors not to advise patients to smoke cannabis because of the health risks. If used medicinally the active chemical should be formulated as a pharmaceutical drug.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Robert Melamede, Dr. Cannabis

Dr. Cannabis

Whether the issues are legal or logistical, medical marijuana advocates say the system isn't achieving its potential.

"Patients need high-quality stuff, and [many of them] can't grow it themselves. Then, we don't have enough dispensaries," says Dr. Robert Melamede, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor who calls himself a "nationally known pro-cannabis scientist."

Melamede, a biology professor and former head of the UCCS biology department, teaches various classes at the school including Biology 408, "Endocannabinoids and Medical Marijuana."

"What endocannabinoids" — that is, cannabis chemicals produced by our bodies — "do is help protect us from free-radical damage, which, in general, is responsible for aging. They literally regulate everything in our bodies," says Melamede. "There are huge medicinal benefits to cannabinoids, both endo- and exo-."
Melamede has written peer-reviewed scientific research that shows pot doesn't just quell nausea and muscle pain, but actually can remedy biochemical imbalances. It can effectively treat high blood pressure and depression. Melamede argues it can even kill cancer cells.

Never mind that the federal government says pot sizzles your brain like a fried egg. Melamede says cannabis actually protects brain cells and serves as an effective anti-aging drug.

"There are many uses that have not been officially recognized," he says. His Web site even hints that weed could help reduce the lethal degree of bird flu, should it one day spread among humans.

Blair Anderson
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Friday, February 09, 2007

Individual carbon trading as a future policy tool

Section 4 details a range of questions which need to be answered to enable a reasonable assessment of individual carbon trading as a future policy tool.
These cover:
Political Acceptability (what are the conditions for political acceptance?
Political and institutional viability (what is needed institutionally to make it work?)
Public reaction and ‘acceptability’ (how will the public understand it, react to it and respond within it?)
Related measures (how does it relate to other policy instruments, particularly other trading schemes?)
Market reaction (what will happen in energy, housing, transport markets and what ‘carbon trading’ schemes and scams will emerge without careful management?)
Technical and operational feasibility (can it work and be resilient and sufficiently fraud proof – and can the banking system provide the foundations?)
Set up and operational cost (how much to set up and run?)
Economic impact (how does its impact compare with other ways of constraining carbon in the economy?)
Equity, justice and distributional impacts (who wins and who loses, by how much and where?)
see previous blog item
Blair Anderson
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What do we need to know about individual carbon trading?

Centre for Sustainable Energy
4.1 The questions that need answers
[ I have copied this extract to my blog in response to concerns about the shallowness of understanding on Climate Change as evident at the Greens Party Meeting on Climate Change, with MP Co-Leader, J Fitsimonds in Christchurch, NZ / Blair ]

This section provides a critical examination of the state of knowledge about individual carbon trading required to make a reasonable assessment of its credibility as a future policy tool. As such it endeavours to cover the full range of issues relevant to the practicalities of introducing individual carbon trading in the UK. These include providing answers either now or in the future to the following interconnected questions.

Political acceptability
• Are there adequate and credible answers to all the other questions here?
• Will politicians be able to believe the public will wear it (whatever the polls & focus groups say)?
• What constituency of support needs to be in place to make this credible?
• Can all the conditions for success be put in place simultaneously and the down-side risks covered? (or ‘how much of a gamble is this?’)
• Is there an alternative – particularly one with greater benefit and/or less political risk?
• How fraud-proof does it have to be (i.e. is there a linkage to biometric ID cards?)
• What are the stories the objectors will use to attack the proposals and can these be convincingly countered?
Political/institutional viability
• Can we commit to it beyond our term of office and/or on a sufficiently long lead time to enable it to happen?
• Is cross-party agreement a necessary condition for public acceptance (and is it feasible)?
• Does its control and the ‘cap-setting’ need to sit outside the political process to protect it from any short-term instability in political commitment if, for example, carbon prices rose dramatically (à la Monetary Policy Committee)?
• How would carbon accounting for individual carbon trading interact with other carbon trading systems (eg energy supplier cap-and-trade or EUETS etc) – i.e. who ultimately owns and ‘cashes in’ the carbon savings?
Public reaction and ‘acceptability’
• On what basis would the public consider individual carbon trading ‘acceptable’? How would they conceive it (eg rationing?) and what might shape that conception?
• Would they understand it and react appropriately to it (or can it be designed so that they will with some education and support?)?
• How will the public react [in terms of their energy using and travelling behaviour, carbon-related purchasing habits (eg appliances and vehicles), and home energy performance]? Will they trade?
• What factors will influence their opinions and determine their willing involvement (or stimulate their active rejection)?
• What are the important differences between different segments of the population?
• How could the issue be ‘framed’ in communication terms to maximise acceptance and effective reaction?
Market reaction
• How would the markets in energy, housing, energy using equipment, micro-renewables, vehicles, public transport and aviation markets react to such a scheme?
• What secondary financial products might emerge to take advantage of the new carbon currency (eg carbon allowance loans, futures in carbon allowances, etc)?
• Do we know (or can we guess) all the games, scams and rip-offs the less scrupulous will design to take advantage of an individual carbon trading system? (the carbon allowance loan shark?)

Technical and operational feasibility
• Will it work and be sufficiently stable and meet politically acceptable standards of resilience to fraud?
• How long will it take to set up systems to work?
• Who would set up, control the process and run the systems?
• What accounting period would be most suitable?
Set up and operational cost
• What will it cost to set up and run?
• How reliable are these estimates?
• Who will pay?
Economic impact
• What is the economic impact of introducing such a scheme (cf constraining carbon emissions in other ways)?
• What do the Marginal Abatement Cost Curves for carbon emissions look like for different segments of the domestic sector?
• What level of trading is likely to take place and what factors will influence this and the price of carbon?
Equity, justice and distributional impacts – both socially and geographically
• Who will win and who will lose financially (depending on cost of carbon)? (household income, rural vs urban, housing condition etc)
• Beyond financial impacts, what other issues are there in terms of access to opportunities to reduce emissions (information and advice, products, services, capital etc)?
• Are there ‘crunch points’ where, after some emission reductions, the cost of cutting carbon emissions increases dramatically for certain types of people (eg with particularly housing types or travel needs etc) which may alter the distributional impacts?
• What are the implications of extreme weather conditions (eg particularly cold winter) on overall demand for carbon (and how might the system handle these)?
• Are there mechanisms for avoiding or correcting these inequities within or outside the system?
• How do these impacts compare with those caused by other ways of curbing carbon emissions?

There are clearly many important relationships between these questions. Many of them have a direct influence on each other.
Blair Anderson
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cannabis Driving and Alcohol displacment

"The findings on youth alcohol use suggest that successful marijuana related efforts in the "War on Drugs", which can be expected to reduce the supply of marijuana and, hence, increase its price will not only lead to less marijuana consumption, but will have the unintended consequence of raising alcohol consumption (at least among youths). This is consistent with DiNardo and Lemieux's (1992) finding that increased minimum legal drinking ages, while reducing alcohol consumption among youths, had the unintended consequence of leading to an almost one-for-one increase in marijuana use.

"The findings related to youth motor vehicle accidents suggest that reductions in the full price of marijuana, resulting from either lower money prices and/or reduced legal sanctions for possession/use, lead youths to substitute away from alcoholic beverages and other intoxicating substances towards marijuana. Furthermore, the subsequent reductions in the consequences of drunken driving (non-fatal and fatal accidents) and driving under the influence of other substances more than offset the increases in the consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana. Similarly, an increase in the full price of beer, resulting, for example, from the increased taxation of alcoholic beverages and/or higher minimum legal drinking ages, lowers beer consumption and raises marijuana consumption. This would be expected to reduce drunken driving, but to raise 'stoned' driving. The net effect of the beer price increase, however, is to reduce the probabilities of non-fatal and fatal youth motor vehicle accidents."

Source: "Do Youths Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana? Some Econometric Evidence," Frank J. Chaloupka and Adit Laixuthai, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 4662, Feb. 1994, p. 32.

Those who want the alcohol age raised are maximising harms to everyone while ignoring the matrix (multiplier) of dysfunction and expediently, fostering the prejudices of a few.
"Maintaining ignorance is the feedstock for maintaining a deluded national drug policy. It is malfeasance to continue to ignore the identified 1:1 correlation and pretend roadside drug testing will fix what's broken for political expediency".
In a Nation that can legislate ageist, sexist 'Boy Racer' laws, anything is possible.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


EfSDP members and Drug Warriors

Medicinal Michelle interviews the author of Bud inc. Ian Mulgrew, on his festive 50th birthday. Ian is a world renowned journalist, author of non-fiction publications and outspoken proponent of ending marijuana prohibition.

note: Education is discussed at 3:10

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Youth and Stigma (2007) Youth Research opportunity

Factsheets on youth and experiences of Stigma (2007)

The AHS III has been included in an international study exploring enacted stigma and its link to drug abuse and risky sexual behaviours.
The purpose of the study is to explore the behaviors and environments in schools that target teens and tell them they are stigmatized.
This study is taking place in 3 different countries (Canada, New Zealand, and the US) and looks at three separate ethnic groups: indigenous youth, Asian-heritage youth, and European-heritage youth in each of the countries. Results for BC are now available in 6 factsheets.

Youth Job Opportunity

As part of ensuring the findings of the stigma project are disseminated to youth, McCreary is currently looking to recruit youth facilitators of Aboriginal or Asian heritage, with a strong interest in LGBTQ issues, to help develop and facilitate a series of workshops. These highly interactive workshops will engage youth in discussing what schools, communities and other youth can do to increase safety and decrease health issues for stigmatized youth.
If you would like more information please contact David at .

For more information or to download Factsheets, visit

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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Monday, February 05, 2007

MP out on smoking but supports ASPRO that kills thousands

Bay of Plenty MP Tony Ryall said he would not support the smoking ofcannabis being legalised for medicinal use because of the detrimentalhealth effects. However, he would support the use of a pharmaceuticalproduct containing properties found in cannabis but only if it wasproven to be effective."The jury is still out on that effectiveness."
A major study is still under way in the United Kingdom.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should medicinal use of cannabis be legalised?
*Email, text 021 224 3091 or write to PO Box1442, Rotorua.

Blair Anderson
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Friday, February 02, 2007

Air Pollution, Cardiovascular Risk, Food, Bombs inEquity

re: Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Risk

Exposure differences within cities matter, according to Women's Health Initiative data.
Post IIPCC 2 the last thing this city needs as another car park where people once stood.
Public health disconnent linked to 'Cashel Mall' slow road consultation with food not bombs mexican standoff today....
Bob Parker Moore Inc called 'out of touch' on what consultation and public health means.
As the Police on the Beat said, 'there is nothing the Salvation Army and Drug Arm arnt doing, Food Not Bombs are not a problem", and that's how it was handled.
The Council is without moral authority and their actions last Friday, arbitrary and capricious..
I think they tried to other the wrong gang.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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PM2.5 is a risk whether ya sit or stand, bike or hike.

Results A total of 1816 women had one or more fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular events, as confirmed by a review of medical records, including death from coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease, coronary revascularization, myocardial infarction, and stroke. In 2000, levels of PM2.5 exposure varied from 3.4 to 28.3 µg per cubic meter (mean, 13.5). Each increase of 10 µg per cubic meter was associated with a 24% increase in the risk of a cardiovascular event (hazard ratio, 1.24; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09 to 1.41) and a 76% increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease [Dockery/Stone N Engl J Med 2007 Feb 1; 356:511-3.]
Oooww... Another Blair was 'dead' right again moment (grin)
My Notes: In this excellent new public health research the levels of cumulative exposure [behaviour mediated] are not being measured. However even the ambient PM2.5 exposure had a mean, one quarter of current accepted 'do not exceed over 24hrs' limits and the maximum range studied [ 28.3µg/m3] is just about one half of the 50µgm3 / 24hrs 'artificial red line' used as OUR margin of safety, by ECAN.
Our present strategy is to not exceed 50µg/m3 more than ten times/pa.. The rule in effect fills up the cumulative exposure until we have no more room.. ie 49.99µg/m3 is OK public policy. 2/100ths more is not.
That this research is way within the exposure guideline parameters makes is especially interesting as it points to health and safety gains especially for those who work and live in high exposure occupations and recreations; and identifies moreso for woman over 50yrs, to mediate that risk. The greatest and immediate 'low cost' intervention is behavioural, in mediating exposure. (ie not cycling in heavy traffic; PM cumulative exposure is correlated proportionally to oxygen uptake!). All this is not withstanding what emitters can do, ie: biofuels/biodiesel, and urban planners cf: city mall redevelopment)
[Some jurisdictions have recently reduced the PM permitted levels from 50µg/m3 down to 30µg/m3 as a precautionary measure ]
Also, their is the negative consequence of exercise avoidance [ie public transport/private motor] that exacerbates cardiovascular risk via the obesity etiology.
The earlier studies suggested the elevated risk overall rose 7% per 10µg, this more robust study suggests with confidence a 24% increase; I am not surprised.
It is far more realistic to correlate PM2.5 than PM10 to health outcomes. PM2.5 is about 90% [by weight] of the PM10 emission which in US cities as it is in Christchurch PM2.5 comes primarily from mobile source arterial traffic volumes, mostly diesel. These particulates are Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (benzene rings) aggregating on activated carbon with heavy metals. [They are also carcinogenic/terragenic. ]
A useful measure 'of public heath risk' in this case is the speed made good by these emitting classes of vehicle [I analysed this back in 2001 using latest software that spatially models PM emissions]. see
These emission's have recently been measured in the elevated poor health outcomes of children who live close to arterial/motorways (500m) compared to those who live 1500m away. The prognosis for a significant number is chronic.
Someone suffering a pollution-related deficit in lung function as a child will probably have less than healthy lungs all of his or her life," said lead author W. James Gauderman, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine. " And poor lung function in later adult life is known to be a major risk factor for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases."

The report draws upon data from the Children's Health Study, a longitudinal document of respiratory health among children in 12 Southern California communities. More than 3,600 children around the age of 10 were evaluated over a period of eight years, through high school graduation. Lung function tests were taken during annual school visits, and the study team determined how far each child lived from freeways and other major roads.

"Otherwise-healthy children who were non-asthmatic and non-smokers also experienced a significant decrease in lung function from traffic pollution," Gauderman said. "This suggests that all children, not just susceptible subgroups, are potentially affected by traffic exposure."

Lung function was assessed by measuring how much air a person can exhale after taking a deep breath and how quickly that air can be exhaled. Children's lung function develops rapidly during adolescence until they reach their late teens or early 20s. A deficit in lung development during childhood is likely to translate into reduced function for the remainder of life.

"This study shows there are health effects from childhood exposure to traffic exhaust that can last a lifetime," said David A. Schwartz, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "The [institute] is committed to supporting research to understand the relationship between environmental exposures and diseases, and to identify ways to reduce harmful exposures to all populations, especially children so they can realize their full potential for healthy and productive lives."

Previous studies have demonstrated links between lung function growth and regional air quality. The findings in this study add to that result, demonstrating that both regional air pollution and local exposure to traffic pollution affect lung development .

"This study provides further proof that regional air quality regulations may need to be adjusted based on local factors, including traffic volume," Gauderman said. "This is important because in areas where the population continues to grow, more and more children are living or attending school near busy roadways. This may be harmful in the long run."

Gauderman added that community leaders, school districts and developers should consider these results when developing new schools or homes.
None of this is surprising. From this 'ambient air' data set I get a very close 'fit' to my CHCH forecast (70 additional deaths/pa ) but any variation would likely be accounted as I was not gender, or in this NEJM paper, age specific. For Christchurch, the "air shed" risk over a lifetime is about 4 times that of contributing to the road toll.
Again it is about public education about cumulative exposure - ie: exercise in the morning, not during peak hour traffic and away from congested arterial. blah blah. 'while we fix the air, at least'
(I could kick Garry Moore in the arteries over this one! - And if they were standing nearby, Prof. Ian Townes and Evon Currie (CDHB) too as it was they AND the mayor who oversaw my being dismissed to 'unhealthy Christchurch'. )
PM2.5 is a risk whether ya sit or stand, bike or hike, Mal [ Briesman ].
(Now wouldn't it be funny if I was to read in Cardiology Watch :Cannabinoids Retard Progression of Atherosclerosis)
/ Blair

Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Risk

Exposure differences within cities matter, according to Women's Health Initiative data.

The Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, a study of postmenopausal women age 50 to 79, gave investigators an opportunity to elucidate the effect of air pollution on the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The current analysis included the 65,893 subjects who were free of CVD at baseline, returned a follow-up questionnaire annually, and could be matched by residence area to a nearby measurement of particulate matter (obtained by the Environmental Protection Agency).

During follow-up (median, 6 years), 1816 subjects had a first cardiovascular event (MI, revascularization, stroke, or death from either coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease). Each 10-µg/m3 increase in the level of PM2.5 (particulate matter <2.5 µm in diameter) was associated with significantly increased risks for cardiovascular events (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.24) and death definitely linked to coronary heart disease (AHR, 2.21). Air pollution also was associated with increased risks for stroke and death from stroke.

Comment: This study substantially strengthens the evidence linking air pollution and CVD (e.g.,Journal Watch Cardiology Jan 7 2005 ). Prior studies have focused on differences between cities, whereas this study, which found substantial within-city variation, shows a strong association at the level of the individual. The mechanisms by which fine particulate matter may mediate vascular risk are yet to be understood, but these findings suggest that efforts to control air pollution might reduce cardiovascular risk.

— Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, SM

Published in Journal Watch Cardiology January 31, 2007


Miller KA et al. Long-term exposure to air pollution and incidence of cardiovascular events in women. N Engl J Med 2007 Feb 1; 356:447-58.
[Original article]

Dockery DW and Stone PH. Cardiovascular risks from fine particulate air pollution. N Engl J Med 2007 Feb 1; 356:511-3.
[Original article]

/Blair Anderson
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