Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Clifford honoured by Citizen Action award

"Cliff Thornton is one of the true heroes of the growing movement to stop the drug war and promote more rational policies,"

"He's a role model for all those who believe in the moral imperative of speaking truth to power." - Ethan Nadelmann

This award is also thanks to the help of you who facilitated and hosted (and reported) Cliff on his NZ tour - that lead to the LEAP tour. May we have more of him!


Hi all,

For those living in Connectictut. This is the official press release. Please use it as you see fit and thanks to all,

because if it were not for all of you I would not be receiving this prestigous award.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Tony Newman (646)335-5384

November 29, 2007 Tommy McDonald (646)335-2242

Cliff Thornton to receive Citizen Action Award from the Drug Policy Alliance

Thornton to Receive the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action During International Drug Policy Reform Conference in New Orleans, Dec. 5-8

Longtime Connecticut drug policy reform advocate and activist Clifford Thornton will receive the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Alliance. The award honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform.

Thornton will be among leading advocates that work courageously to promote and implement more sensible drug policies who will be honored at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference , in New Orleans, December 5-8. The conference is organized by the Drug Policy Alliance and dozens of other organizations. The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. The winners will be honored during an awards ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 8.

The biennial awards for achievement in drug policy reform recognize the accomplishments and commitment of people and organizations that have done outstanding drug policy reform work. The awards are given every other year at the international conference of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Thornton is the primary speaker for Efficacy, Inc. - a non-profit organization that has concentrated on drug policy reform. Thornton ran for governor in Connecticut in 2006 on the Green Party ticket. His campaign centered on drug policy reform. Thornton has done over 400 radio shows on drug policy. Thornton has spoken to over 300,000 people in some 450 venues about the drug war as it relates to health, economics, race, class, and white privilege. Efficacy is partially responsible for the removal of D.A.R.E. from the Ocean City, NJ school system in 2001. Thornton gave a presentation to the board of education that received great reviews and helped facilitate its demise. Thornton taught a graduate-level course, "Illegal Drugs and Public Policy" at Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 2002.

"Cliff Thornton is one of the true heroes of the growing movement to stop the drug war and promote more rational policies," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "He's a role model for all those who believe in the moral imperative of speaking truth to power."

The award is named after Robert C Randall, who pioneered the medical marijuana issue in America. He was a model citizen who took on the federal government and assisted in the defense of people accused of criminal offenses involving marijuana. In receiving treatment for glaucoma, Randall became the first medical marijuana patient in the United States. After winning his case against the federal government, Mr. Randall continued to fight for others in need as founder and representative of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. In the early 1990s, he also founded the Marijuana AIDS Research Service, intended to help place AIDS patients in programs and studies that administer medical marijuana. This service's closure was a driving force in the adoption of California's Proposition 215, the first medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Past awardees include, Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition; Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, and Virginia Resner, authors of Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War and founders of Human Rights 95, Cannabis Consumers, and Green-Aid; Randy Credico, activist for the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, Inc.; Nora Callahan, executive director of The November Coalition; 1996 Joyce Rivera, founder of St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction, a needle exchange program and center in the Bronx, NY; Dennis Peron, author of Proposition 215 and founder of San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club; Edith Springer, clinical director of the New York Peer AIDS Education Coalition; Jack Herer, activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy; Louis Jones, founder of STANDUP Harlem, Inc. ; and Julie Stewart, founder and president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums

PO Box 1234
860 657 8438
Hartford, CT 06143


Working to end race and class drug war injustice, Efficacy is a non profit
501 (c) 3 organization founded in 1997. Your gifts and donations are tax

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

English Reject 'E-vidence' Based Policy

[MP & Home Office] Jacqui Smith must then take the politically difficult final decision over whether to accept the drug [MDMA] should be downgraded. see This is London

Here is the killer line
A Home Office spokesman said: "We will consider the Advisory Council's advice carefully, as we do for any advice it provides. However, the Government has no intention of reclassifying ecstasy."

doh! Class A-rrogance.
The E-vidence from other jurisdictions. ie: New Zealand, suggest the English will continue to be afflicted with the Anderton dis-ease,  epidemic methamphetamine 'just like us'.

Blair Anderson  ‹(•¿•)›
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dr Tom O'Connell on Evidence Based Policy

When feigning deafness eventually becomes impossible, as with Evolution, Global Warming, or certain aspects of the “wars” on drugs and terror, the fall-back positions of those in denial often become unsupported claims that their favored alternatives are morally superior, and the ones they oppose will lead to disaster.

Thus do they usually favor war over negotiations, profits over environmental preservation, and imprisonment over rehabilitation. In the case of the drug war they have gotten away with a particularly egregious injustice by defining safe self-medication as a crime; entirely on the basis of deductive logic which has been assiduously protected for nearly a century from the rigorous scrutiny supposed to be applied to “evidence based” policy, and despite its obvious failures and piously dishonest claims.

- Dr T. O'Connell

When the practice and principles of (harm minimisation) medicine are applied to health related to the popular herb cannabis somehow the truth of the matter just flies out the window. Cannabis 'as medicine' is ignored because '*it is illegal, and there is no money in it'.

How damned convenient, that we can proscribe to a medically efficacious plant 'criminal sanction', ignore all that is good for the patient and still call the US$100billion 'annual research budget' in best practice & pharmacology science 'evidence based'.

"I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice." - Hippocrates, the father of medicine

(*public lecture at the University of Otago, Christchurch School of Medicine by visiting speaker from Oxford University, Professor Paul Glasziou. He is an expert in the important area of evidence-based medicine and how to transfer health research into best practice.)

Blair Anderson

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ramonabant for 'Diabetes' in NZ ?

Ramonobant as a 'cannabinoid' blocker. It switches off the same brain circuits that make people hungry when they smoke cannabis.

Studies show that about 30-40% of obese people taking Ramonabant lost more than 5% of their body weight and 10-20% of subjects lost over 10% of their body weight above what they lost on diet alone. Because Ramona acts on the liver as well it had beneficial effects on triglycerides and other fats in the blood. Blood pressure reduction has also been observed with Ramona treatment. Ramona works by blocking an important chemical pathway in the brain known as the endocannabinoid system. Scientists speculate that our body naturally manufactures substances resembling cannabis (marijuana, pot, reefer erc.), which interact with the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system not only participates in the control of appetite but is active in many areas of the body including the gastrointestinal tract, mood regulation, bone development, muscle control, blood pressure, adaptation to stress and the reproductive system. (and JimA think's it's all about smoking!/Blair)

Several experts such as University of Colorado at Colorado Springs biology professor Dr. Robert Melamede have warned that the long term use of Ramona for weight loss could result in unwanted side-effects involving these other body systems.

In fact, depression is listed as one of the side-effects that may limit Ramonas tolerability occurring in about 3% of obese subjects in a weight loss study. Nausea was another important limiting side-effect. Industry experts speculate that Acomplia may be available for U.S. consumers by this summer but no one knows for sure. Insurance companies in the U.S. will not pay for medications for weight loss. Only a drug that treats a medical illness or condition will be covered by an insurance company. For that reason it is thought that Sanofi-Aventis will approach the FDA for an approval to use Ramona in the treatment of diabetes. This is because many diabetics will see an improvement in their blood sugar as they lose weight and because Ramona may have a direct beneficial effect on glucose and cholesterol regulation, as well.
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Narcotic use and athletic ability

"People under the influence of marijuana (cannabis) perform poorly in virtually every sort of mental and physical task, especially athletics. The increase in heart rate after smoking pot decreases the body's maximum tolerance for exercise, makes the smoker more vulnerable to fatigue, and makes breathing more difficult. It also causes slower reflexes, a distorted sense of time, poor vision, and an interference with depth perception. "

see Narcotic use and athletic ability KGET TV 17:

If this is so debilitating why is Cannabis ranked in NZ sport as an evil "unfair" enhancing drug.... indeed, sports drug testing is only checking for evidence of THC metabolites... the logical equivalent of licking an exhaust pipe to see if someone has been speeding yesterday.

Secondly, this has not been my experience. Playing Ice-Hockey presents one of the most complete challenges to the above 'debilitating list'. While the prejudiced might argue 'I was deluded' that doesn't account for the fact that my entire team was likely stoned and that we were consistent winners. I would have to also say that the sense of timing, unity and corp de esprit was as good as it gets... and before anyone says "yeah, had you not potted yourself, you could have gone on to be another Wayne Gillespie, Bobby Orr, Hull... ", hold it right there. There is no evidence they didn't smoke either. (is that a nice way of saying it?)

50% of the entire Australian Rugby League at professional level (it is reported) are regular tokers. Andrew Johns is a case in point with 10 years at the top of the of one of the most 'athletic' and physically demanding sports on the planet (aside from Ice-Hockey). Less demanding in some peoples eyes, Many international and ANZAC Cricketers have found solace in the humble herb.

Perhaps the rule has more to do with alcohol sponsorship than the harm prevention of displacing social and excess alcohol than earnestly 'treating' ones aches and pains, which cannabis clearly and evidentially does.

The social inequity in the above item, is based on pure prejudice absent FACTS given that the latest research from Switzerland shows that young people who smoke a bit of the popular grass are "more likely" to participate in sport than those who drink, smoke tobacco making the cannabis related material patently absurd. That we dismiss these otherwise law abiding folk from SPORT to send a signal (as if anyone was listening) only twists the double standards knife all the deeper.

Finally: Cannabis is not a Narcotic. End of story.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fetal Alcohol, Crack Babies, Heroin Children and Cannabis Low Birth Weights.

Fetal Alcohol, Crack Babies, Heroin Children and Cannabis Low Birth Weights.

The Neonate 'scare tactics' Problem

One of the first victims of War (on Drugs), is the Truth.

The recent Oxford University review of the literature on shows 'evidentialy' there is no scientific support for the hysteria that permeates public discussion on fetal alcohol syndrome. Many people falsely believe and proselytise (aided by shonky science, anecdote and media) that even a single drink during pregnancy can cause FAS.

Were it true, western countries would suffer endemic effects of FAS! But we know that FAS is relatively rare at about 1:3000 live births.

Media driven FEAR has dramatised the issue such that pregnant women have become frantic upon realising they had eaten salad that had wine vinegar dressing consequently fearing their children would be born suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, wine vinegar, being vinegar, contains no alcohol. Other woman have avoided access to medical help and still more have been stigmatised for life... unfairly labelled (John Kirwin, where are you?) as irresponsible because their child is subjectively somehow not what society expects of it.

The guilt burden is inequitable. The same burden has been placed on cocaine and heroin and other drug using 'mothers' absent the required standard of evidence. Some mothers have had children removed from them. This is a gross violation of the medical principle of first do no harm.

There is no evidence that light drinking, even on a daily basis, leads to fetal alcohol syndrome. health research does validate that many women who are light or moderate drinkers choose not to drink during pregnancy.

The real problem is found among frequent heavy drinkers, who most often are alcoholics consuming heavily on a daily basis throughout their pregnancies. This is not unlike tobacco (nicotine ) addiction. This is a reflection of our historical attitudes and drinking culture. We are not honest about our alcohol and adult choices. We have entrained a chronic drug dichotomy. Legal = Good, Illegal = Bad.

Some may argue that many of these 'drinking' women are poorly educated, leading somewhat marginal lives that birth FAS identified children. They might typically smoke, use illegal and other pharmaceutical drugs, can be dietary challenged [either malnourished or obese] and due to limited access or misplaced resources receive inadequate medical care during pregnancy. Typically alcohol consumption does not decline over time among such women during their pregnancy . Because of their addiction, these women resist health promotional education approaches.

Simplistic approaches suggest this is the target group to which appropriate resources need to be directed if we want to reduce the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome. However, the writer believes that it is our normative value system that is challenging and that a cultural shift in drug policy will 'enable' better outcomes. This does not require more resources. It requires us to talk about drugs. (see Alcohol and Drugs, Sandals and Footwear. )

Of far greater concern is the role of alcohol in teen pregnancy and teen sexual health. As identified by the 1998 Health Select Committee on Cannabis and Mental Health, there are impediments to credible health promotion. We owe it to ourselves and our children to resolve the tensions that are the 'identified impediments' and use Ottawa Charter Principles 'and remove them' - that requires us to have an honest discussion in society about ALL drug use.

Where such discussion has occured (ie: Seattle and Denver) real progress has been made in making available SAFER alternatives to alcohol.

Curiously, this month the British Medical Association (130,000 PhD's) called for robust ethical debate on 'cognitive enhancing' drug issues. Are we up to it? Or yet again, as we lurch into another election year where talking about drugs is reduced to a moral 'bridge to far', we continue to believe that 'more resources' will fix everything and he/she who doles it out 'is somehow more electable'.

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219


Maternal cannabis use and birth weight: a meta-analysis
There is inadequate evidence that cannabis, at the amount typically. consumed by pregnant women, causes low birth weight - Prescribed drugs do more harm to babies than heroin ...

In simplest terms, FAS is caused by prenatal exposure to "high" amounts of alcohol. The determination of "how much is too much" turns out to be a sticky problem. Diagnostic criteria refer to "maladaptive patterns of drinking associated with moderate to heavy alcohol consumption," and in the extreme this is not particularly difficult to identify with reasonable certainty. However, defining limits for moderate amounts of alcohol is difficult, and the resulting potentially adverse effects cannot be excluded nor definitively demonstrated. In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences published the findings of a committee that was formed to conduct a literature study of fetal alcohol syndrome and related birth defects, and to provide guidance for future research and prevention efforts (3). According to the IOM committee, "The lack of diagnostic criteria for or more definitive statements regarding possible effects of low to moderate exposure to alcohol should not be interpreted as contradictory to the Surgeon General's warning against drinking alcohol during pregnancy."

Previous to the IOM report, the term Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) was used to describe children who have all of the diagnostic features of FAS, but at mild or less severe levels. In the IOM report the terms ARND and ARBD were recommended, and are currently preferred.

The IOM report notes that ARBD and ARND are "catch-all" categories, and the outcomes are not specific to prenatal alcohol consumption. Thus, the causal link between maternal alcohol consumption and ARBD or ARND generally is not certain, and the role of other factors may need to be excluded. Both ARBD and ARND also require documented maternal alcohol exposure, and include outcomes linked to maternal alcohol consumption through human or animal research.

Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD) includes a diverse array of physical birth defects: skeletal abnormalities, heart defects, cleft palate and other craniofacial abnormalities, kidney and other internal organ problems, vision and hearing problem.

Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND) includes outcomes such as decreased cranial size at birth, structural brain abnormalities (e.g., microcephaly), abnormal neurological conditions ( e.g., impaired fine motor skills, neurosensory hearing loss, poor tandem gait, and poor eye-hand coordination). The IOM report also includes a diagnosis of ARND as a result of behavior or cognitive abnormalities that cannot be explained by other familial or environmental factors, and of course there is a history of maternal alcohol consumption.

Examples of behavior and cognitive abnormalities include:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Deficits in school performance
  • Poor impulse control
  • Problems in social perception
  • Deficits in higher level receptive and expressive language
  • Poor capacity for abstraction and metacognition
  • Specific deficits in mathematical skills
  • Problems in memory, attention, or judgement
1. Lemoine et al., Ouest Medecine 21, 476-482, 1968.
2. Jones, et al. Lancet 1, 1267-1271, 1973.
3. Institute of Medicine, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment, Stratton, K., Howe, C., and Battaglia, F, Editors. National Academy Press, 1996.

Defining Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Major Points to Remember:

  • FAS is clearly associated with alcohol dependence and abuse
  • Alcohol dependence and abuse are characterized by maladaptive patterns of drinking
  • Alcohol consumption that results in dependence is considered a diagnosable disease

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Cannabis compound 'halts cancer'

A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer spreading throughout the body, US scientists believe. The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team are hopeful that cannabidiol or CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy. Unlike cannabis, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties so its use would not violate laws, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics reports.

BBC NEWS | Health | Cannabis compound 'halts cancer'

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Media, Terrorism and Drug Policy, they pretend they dont get it!

Investigative journalism or crime reporting? 

Profits from opium cultivation are fuelling the insurgency in Afghanistan, the United Nations said yesterday, in a new call on Nato to crack down on the country's burgeoning drugs trade.

Releasing the final draft of its 2007 Afghan opium survey which in August already showed a surge in production, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the total export value of opiates in Afghanistan stood at about $4 billion ($NZ5.35 billion).

Farmers saw around a quarter of that total, while district officials took a percentage through a levy on the crops. The rest was shared among insurgents, warlords and drugs traffickers, it said.

"The potential windfall for criminals, insurgents and terrorists is staggering and runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars," UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement released in Brussels.

"Since drugs are funding the insurgency, Nato has a self-interest in supporting Afghan forces in destroying drugs labs, markets and convoys. Destroy the drug trade and you cut off the Taliban's main funding source ."

Yet, here in New Zealand the media (including the Parliamentary Gallery) refuse to even go there...  Hello?  Who signed the Single Convention on Narcotics?

Blair Anderson  ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065   cell 027 265 7219

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Walters (and Anderton) Responsible For This Mess

Walters (and Anderton) Responsible For This Mess

In the item 'Early Marijuana Use A Warning Sign For Later Gang Involvement" John P Walters asserts by distorted interpretation of data he has insight into the final solution to 'crime and gangs' . His argument, and I paraphrase for simplicity, is 'it's marijuana stupid'. (see my comments on the recent call by MAXIM on Youth, Drugs and Crime  )

He fails to notice 'on evidence' this gang related mayhem is occurring on his watch. It is his and his fellow harm maximizers prohibitive 'set and setting' that incentivise the cultivation, distribution and early experiential use of cannabis within the dangerous context of criminality. It creates the very crime he and his set out to solve. Prohibition amplifies deviancy.

There is nothing of consequence inherent in the pharmacology of cannabinoids that is criminogenic. Walter's official sanction of the wasteful and misguided practice 'and targeting of youth' can only be described as an abrogation of duty of care thus malfeasance to continue this absurd public health practice. Walters testimony over the years in defence of the indefensible has heralded a litany of lies and fabrications purporting to be science. This 'obfuscatory practice' by design or stupidity is, on a world wide scale, a greater injustice than apartheid and Walters' its self anointed 5 Star General. The man deserves to be tried for culpable crimes against humanity as ignorance is no excuse.

Prohibition of cannabis has never been examined from"first do no harm' principles nor has the policy been subject to cost benefit analysis. If it were, we would not be having this conversation.

Cannabis law reform is the stuff of social capital.

(also see posted by Blair Anderson on 20 Jun 2007  )
Blair Anderson  ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065   cell 027 265 7219
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Here is how to talk about drugs! [British Medical Association]

Boosting your brainpower:
Ethical aspects of cognitive enhancements

There may be a few readers of this blog who will remember the 2000 MildGreen Millennium Initiative for Cognitive Liberty.

There has been a maturation in the global dialogue about ethnobotanicals, entheogens, off-label pharmaceuticals and emerging new psycho stimulants.

This highlights the ethical inadequacy of and corresponding marginalisation of Kiwi Drug Czar and MP (Wigram) Hon Jim Anderton's propaganda machine along with his Ministry of Health's parlous 2006 drug policy' consultation.

Read on, but be aware, this is both a precursor blog entry and a weapon of mass emancipation. Enjoy. The underlines are courtesy of your blogmiester, /Blair)

The key aim of this paper is to facilitate informed debate amongst doctors, scientists, policy-makers, and members of the public about the future development and use of cognitive enhancements. Providing the facts, information and some of the arguments it signals the beginning of a debate about how, as a society, we should consider and respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by cognitive enhancements. A discussion paper from the *BMA / November 2007

Executive summary

  • People have long been interested in improving their brainpower. Developments in medicine and pharmacy could provide new ways of doing that but because they raise ethical issues that have not been widely discussed, there is a need for public debate about them. In Part One, this paper sets out some definitions and a framework for debate.
  • Drugs and medical interventions designed as therapy for people with diagnosed problems are likely to be sought in future by healthy people to "improve" on nature. It is important to distinguish, however, between what is possible now or will be in the near future and more abstract speculation about longer-term developments. In Part Two, the document examines the evidence (or lack of it) for different methods of enhancement, including nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals and surgery.
  • People may not only want to choose enhancement for themselves but also for their children. The possibilities and limitations of genetic manipulation and selection as a means of enhancing future people are also covered in Part Two.
  • Individuals have always been able to try and improve their own or their children's intellectual abilities through study and effort. The possibility of shortcutting that process and lessening the effort required by using nutrition, drugs or medical techniques is more controversial. Part Three considers why this might be.
  • It looks at the speculation about how the new technologies might bring about either positive or negative social and cultural changes, affecting not only individuals but the fabric of society. Arguments that have been put forward by those for and against such a change are briefly summarised.
  • One of the main arguments concerns interconnectedness. For the purposes of discussion, the paper looks at cognitive functioning as if it could be isolated from other parts of a person's life. In reality the potential risks or benefits of cognitive enhancement for other aspects of individuals' personality, such as emotional stability and creativity, cannot be isolated. People are also interconnected in a social sense, so that choices made by some are likely to impact on others and possibly on society at large. This is highlighted throughout the paper and discussed in detail in Part Three where some suggestions are considered about how a balance might be attained between personal liberty and responsibility to the community.
  • Why we may have quite different moral views about different methods, even though they all have the same goal, is also discussed in Part Three.
  • Almost anything we try may have some unforeseen side-effects or carry some risks. In order to decide whether change should be regulated, the scope and limits of what individuals should be able to choose for themselves or for other people also need to be discussed. Part Four sets out the arguments for and against limiting choice and considers how regulation, if needed, might be implemented.
  • The main questions arising from the paper are summarised in Part Five. The BMA does not have policy or recommendations to put forward on these issues but would welcome informed public debate about how, as a society, we should respond to these developments .
* The British Medical Association - the professional association for doctors. With over 139,000 members, representing practising doctors in the UK and overseas and medical students, the BMA is the voice of the profession and students.
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Killer VIOXX's Restorative Justice

After pulling pain killer Vioxx from the market three years ago, Merck says it will pay US$4.85 billion to settle 27,000 suits involving people who were injured or died after ingesting the drug.

Vioxx was supposed to be the 'super aspirin' that would relieve pain safely. Instead, Vioxx was recalled because it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

It's not as if people in power didn't know about the impending disaster — what David Graham, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug safety official, calls “maybe the single greatest drug-safety catastrophe in the history of this country.''
Testifying before a Senate committee in November, Dr. Graham put the number in United States who had suffered heart attacks or stroke as result of taking the arthritis drug Vioxx in the range of 88,000 to 139,000. As many as 40 percent of these people, or about 35,000-55,000, died as a result, Graham said.

also see

Blair Anderson

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Children aged 7 hooked on cannabis

and media fluffs it up! doh!

Family First reports Children aged 7 hooked on cannabis

NZ Herald November 08, 2007
Addiction agencies are seeing primary school children smoking cannabis, despite a slight drop in adult use of the drug. Rotorua counselling agency Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust said yesterday that children as young as 7 were getting help for cannabis addiction. Clinical co-ordinator June Bythell said the agency was still seeing a steady increase in clients seeking help with cannabis and alcohol. "We have a major problem with cannabis in our area. People are trying to make changes but it is a huge struggle for them," she said. Other agencies in Auckland and Hamilton said they were also seeing more children starting to smoke cannabis in primary school.

Figures released this week showed that cannabis use by 15- to 45-year-olds had dropped for the first time in many years - from 20.4 per cent in 2003 to 17.9 per cent last year. But New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the developed world, second only to Canada in the last World Drug Report. Dr Grant Christie, a child psychiatrist with the Auckland Community Alcohol and Drugs Service, said his agency commonly saw young people who had started smoking cannabis as early as 11. He said the drug was usually given to children by their parents, a sibling or sometimes an older friend of the family. "They are very dysfunctional families, they are not your typical everyday families. There is usually CYFS involvement, there are usually multiple agencies involved," he said.

Rotorua Daily Post

Doesn't say much for prohibition eh!
How do these buggers manage to ignore that 'all this' it is occuring on their watch? Or that reform is accountable for none of this mess? And why isnt the media asking that question?

Blair Anderson

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

American Psychiatric Association Assembly Unanimously Backs MedPot

In a unanimous vote, the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association has approved a strongly worded statement supporting legal protection for patients using medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation.

A major move by one of the nation's top medical groups, they are backing medical marijuana and they want the [US] federal government to leave doctors alone.

'This is a very large and important medical organization, it isn't some fringe group,' 'This move debunks a lot of the nonsense from some of the anti-medical marijuana groups. They have been aggressively using false information tactics. These groups allege that there are various links between mental illness and marijuana, ignoring the fact that it is well documented that medical marijuana can be therapeutic'.
Bruce Mirken, Marijuana Policy Project [MPP] .

APAA Unanimously Backs Medical Marijuana - Salem-News.Com: Tim King

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Reason, not 'White Rhino' that is endangered.

Armed police, using stun grenades, raided an apartment in central Hamilton yesterday as lunchtime shoppers watched in amazement.

The raid shut down a sophisticated cannabis-growing operation, which included a variety of plant called 'White Rhino'. A drug team supported by armed officers stormed an apartment accessed above the Kathmandu and Vodafone stores. (but made no difference at all other than create another high paying job vacancy)
Stun grenades were used during the raid, blasts that could be heard from the footpath on the opposite side of the street. (sending a message that "we're tough on crime" bah humbug! ) Police communications spokesman Andrew McAlley said about 400 plants had been seized during the swoop, and three people had been arrested and taken away for questioning.


White Rhino has a reputation for its high THC content, the active ingredient in cannabis. When mature, white crystals (oooh, scary! but perfectly normal, all cannabis have trichomes, some more than others, it is a desirable trait that means harm reduction 'less is more'/Blair) form on the plant which cover its flowers, after which it is harvested. Although police were unable to say what the hydroponic cannabis trade was valued at within the region, production of the drug in outdoor operations was estimated at $74 million in the Waikato, Mr McAlley said. (And the very reason all civic policy be held up to cost/benefit scrutiny) He defended the police's use of the armed offenders squad in downtown Hamilton during business and shopping hours. (Defended the use!, What rubbish, if they didn't use them, they wouldn't get the bottomless budgets. The timing is important, its about policing visibility, or is it that is when these 'downtown' plants are easily stun'able and at their least threatening. Are we to believe these white crystals can penetrate body armour where 'common sense' is unable to. )

More: Stun grenades used as drug raid reveals 'White Rhino' : Thursday November 08, 2007 By Simon O'Rourke - 08 Nov 2007 - NZ Herald: New Zealand National news

Thanks to this kind of media coverage "white rhino", a feminised seed variety (produces female plants) will be in hot demand. "Clots" comes to mind. Its not White Rhino that is the endangered here, rather the all to prevalent elephant in the room - "Prohibition and the sensationalist media coverage couldn't market cannabis better than if it was made compulsory." /Blair

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

British Cannabis Use Drops [NORML]

British Cannabis Use Drops Following Reclassification British cannabis use has declined sharply in the three years following the government’s decision to make possession to a non-arrestable offence, according to the latest figures from the UK Home Office’s annual Crime Survey. 'With cannabis in the headlines here again, it's important to acknowledge that moving away from prohibition is not associated with an increase in use,' said NORML's spokesperson Chris Fowlie.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 12:48 pm Press Release: NORML

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Swiss study has some surprises on marijuana use

A study of more than 5,000 youngsters in Switzerland has found those who smoked marijuana do as well or better in some areas as those who don't, researchers said on Monday.

CHICAGO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Swiss study has some surprises on marijuana use, 05 Nov 2007

But the same was not true for those who used both tobacco and marijuana, who tended to be heavier users of the drug, said the report from Dr. J.C. Suris and colleagues at the University of Lausanne.

The study did not confirm the hypothesis that those who abstained from marijuana and tobacco functioned better overall, the authors said.

In fact, those who used only marijuana were "more socially driven ... significantly more likely to practice sports and they have a better relationship with their peers" than abstainers, it said.

"Moreover, even though they are more likely to skip class, they have the same level of good grades; and although they have a worse relationship with their parents, they are not more likely to be depressed" than abstainers, it added.

It did not explain the reasons behind the apparent effect.

The study, published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, was based on a 2002 survey of 5,263 Swiss students age 16 to 20, of whom 455 smoked marijuana only, 1,703 who used both marijuana and tobacco and 3,105 who abstained from both.

The report said that while marijuana use has declined among U.S. adolescents, it has increased in recent years among the same age group in Switzerland and other European countries.

The study said that while one theory holds that using legal drugs like nicotine and alcohol opens the door to marijuana and other illegal drug use, recent research also has found marijuana may come first and it "may reinforce cigarette smoking or lead to nicotine addiction ..."

In the study, about half of the tobacco and marijuana group had used the latter drug 10 times or more in the previous month. That compared to 56 percent in the marijuana-only group who had used the drug only once or twice in the same time period.

"These findings agree with previous research indicating that (tobacco) smokers were significantly more likely to be heavy cannabis users than nonsmokers," the study concluded.

In addition, those who use only marijuana were less likely to have started using that drug before the age of 15 compared to tobacco users, and the tobacco-marijuana group was more likely to have abused alcohol, the study said.

(Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Andrew Stern and Philip Barbara)


NOTE data from the same study shows other significant relationships.

Researchers found that marijuana-only users had the following characteristics:

— More likely to be male (71.6 percent marijuana smokers versus 59.7percent of teens who used tobacco and marijuana)
— Play sports (85.5 percent vs. 66.7 percent of tobacco and marijuana)
— Live with both parents (78.2 percent vs. 68.3 percent of tobacco and marijuana)
— Have good grades (77.5 percent vs. 66.6 percent of tobacco and marijuana)

Cannabis-only smokers were also less likely to have been drunk in the past30 days, less likely to use cannabis before the age of 15 and less likely to use marijuana more than once or twice in the past 30 days.

They were also less likely to use other illegal drugs, compared to students who used both substances, researchers found.“The gateway theory hypothesizes that the use of legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) is the previous step to cannabis consumption,” the authors wrote. However, recent research also indicates that cannabis use may precede or be simultaneous to tobacco use and that, in fact, its use may reinforce cigarette smoking or lead to nicotine addiction independently of smoking status. In any case, and even though they do not seem to have great personal, family, or academic problems, the situation of those adolescents who use cannabis but who declare not using tobacco should not be trivialized.”

In comparison to students who abstained from both substances, marijuana-only smokers were:
— More likely to be male (71.6 percent cannabis users vs. 47.7 percent of teens who abstained)
— Have a good relationship with friends (87 percent vs. 83.2 percent)
— Be sensation-seeking (37.8 percent vs. 21.8 percent)— Play sports (85.5 percent vs. 76.6 percent)
— Less likely to have a good relationship with their parents (74.1percent vs. 82.4 percent),2933,308258,00.html

(hat tip) Dr John Watson, Baker Street

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sexual abuse precursor to other risky behavours?

"Study links cannabis smoking and sexual abuse in teenagers"
Is this the same as 'sexual abuse precursor to other behavours'?   
It certainly reads like the latter would be a more accurate heading. /Blair
The author, Annabel Prescott, told an addictions conference in Auckland yesterday that sexual abuse was the only key "risk factor" that showed up in a statistical analysis of all factors associated with heavy cannabis use in the Youth 2000 survey of 9570 students at 114 New Zealand high schools.
5:00AM Tuesday November 06, 2007
By Simon Collins  NZHerald
The analysis found that heavy cannabis users were also more likely to be violent, get involved in fights, ride in cars being driven dangerously, have unprotected sex, be clinically depressed and attempt suicide.
And alcohol and the contingent double standards plays no part in any of this? Get real. Cannabis = Trouble with the law, Social exclusion, Alienation from social norms.. yadda yadda....   
It found four "protective" factors that cut the chances of the students using cannabis heavily: getting "enough time" with their parents; feeling part of their school; feeling that school attendance was important; and attending a church, shrine or mosque.
Yes, it is more likely that anyone of these Good Kid factors are also associated with attending Girl Guides or Boy Scouts however not attending either of these doesnt mean causation 'of a cannabis habit' either. Cannabis in of itself is not  a good indicator of failure. Cannabis's illicit status is more the social factor not weighted in the study. The outcomes measured are a product of prohibtions failure. The overall excellent biopsychosocial 'youth health' parameters for the Netherlands disproves Prescott's conclusions

Mrs Prescott said the study showed that heavy cannabis use was a marker of wider problems that should all be dealt with "holistically".

On that we are agreed. Jailing kids is just so impractical these days.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

Binge drinking 'damages brains' while Cannabis does, um, I forgot?

Binge drinking 'damages brains', so how does one isolate or protect against [any] cannabis harm against this background? say the MildGreens.

"the projections were frightening",
Gerard Vaughan, ALAC chief executive

snip snip snip... (audio)

Arbias (Acquired Brain Injury Service) chief executive Sonia Burton, whose Australian organisation treats people with alcohol-related brain damage - said 785,000 New Zealanders were at risk because of the sheer amount of alcohol they were drinking.

"It's critical New Zealand wakes up to an issue that will become a major crisis in the next 20 years, with health services being swamped with people with alcohol-related brain damage," she said.

Based on statistics collated by the Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac), the group estimates at least 80,000 New Zealanders could already have undiagnosed alcohol-related brain damage.

Based on 2004 estimates, it is believed alcohol costs New Zealand $1.17 billion in lost productivity each year.

Alcohol is linked to 70 per cent of all emergency hospital admissions, and up to 90 per cent of all weekend crime.

Also media from the same Auckland Addiction conference... Concerns over low addiction treatment funding

Ms Kearney said most people in residential services used multiple drugs, often had mental health related problems, poor academic history, a poor history of stable employment and difficulties with maintaining relationships. There was often ongoing contact with the criminal justice system.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that the ogre of reefer madness has been masking the alcohol reality. But lets stop pretending we didn't know this all along. Its not intuitive. Most of us know someone for whom alcohol goes hand in hand with a matrix of dysfunctional behaviours.

But then along comes an expert in the politics of alcohol and drugs (Jandals and Footwear - doh!)

“New Zealand First opposed the lowering of the drinking age and will continue to take a hard line against the liberalisation of our alcohol and drug laws,” said Mr Paraone. "We need to educate our youth against the appeal and access of hard drugs such as ‘P’ and cannabis through co-ordinated education and police programmes."

"Oh he is sincere... sincerely stupid." say the MildGreens "Which part of what has been tried is the part that is working Mr Paraone?"


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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cognitive functioning enhanced by cannabis use in schizophrenia

MedWire News: Cannabis use by patients with schizophrenia is associated with enhanced cognitive functioning, with both frequency and recency of use linked to better neuropsychological performance, conclude Australian researchers. 1 November 2007


"Logistic regression analysis revealed that more patients with lifetime cannabis abuse/dependence performed better on the psychomotor speed component than those without lifetime abuse/dependence. Frequency and recency of cannabis use were associated with better performance, particularly on the attention/processing speed and executive function domains. While acknowledging the issues around cannabis use in schizophrenia patients, the team concludes in the journal Schizophrenia Research: 'In essence, the findings of this study suggest that cannabinoids, via their agonistic effects on cannabinoid receptors in the forebrain, may have a potentially useful role in the treatment of high-order cognitive processes known to be impaired in schizophrenia.'"

Cognitive functioning enhanced by cannabis use in schizophrenia:

Oh dear, what's a fellow to think?

"Gee Doc, I think I need to pass this through some higher functioning temporal assessment else I shall worry endlessly what side of the debate to take in this mental health and cannabis debate. "

Beer or Cannabis? Cannabis or Beer? I'm now of two minds, better pass the spliffy.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

FADE AntiDrug Quackery Exposed

Linguistic analyis of websites designed to expose medical quackery rates MildGreens.Blogspot up there with the British Medical Journal [BMJ]. However a test of the anti-drug foundation FADE site finds some revealing insight....

This web site is heavily laden with loosely defined terms and possibly pseudoscientific language. It is heavily using scientific jargon and may be doing this to bamboozle. However, it shows some possibility of critical thinking - but proceed with care. It also looks like this site is trying to sell stuff. Buyer Beware!
Check out the Quackometer yourself... or test your favorite pseudoscience site!

Blair Anderson


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Community is urged to (conditionally) engage on drug issue

Community is urged to engage on drug issue

"It's about how we voice our concern and work out why people do not see what a problem cannabis is in our community."

(the MildGreens can tell you why people don't see what a problem cannabis is in your community.... just ask?)

"Mr Bell is right to say we need to get the issue back on the table — we need to have a really good debate around how people feel about cannabis and we need for it to start pretty much immediately.

"We need people like Meng Foon(1), Nona Aston(2), a few doctors, community leaders with a few clues to all join in and be vocal about the issue so people understand that the debate is coming from within our community. We can make a thousand programmes but, unless there is discussion from within the community about what is needed and how it is accessed, it's of limited use." (and we all know what the Health Select Committee said about impediments to health promotion... or are you all stupid? This 'we care more than you care' shite makes a good man vomit.. this is about job preservation and the marketing 'treatment services' dependent on drug mayhem and moral panic for its budgets.. /Blair )

Our questioning of the Ministers of Health and Justice and spokesmen in the Labour, National and Green Parties has drawn just one response after a day and a half — National's health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"The National Party does not support decriminalisation of cannabis — we are concerned about the social and health consequences of this drug. (the debate is about effectiveness of the Policy Tony, not National's morality! Get with the program, your own MP's are not unanimous on this subject, further, it would be a conscience vote anyway, and it was the National led select committee that called for examination of the effectiveness of the law in 1998 and again in 2003/Blair)

"There is no doubt that drug rehabilitation in NZ needs greater priority, but this view does not extend to legalising cannabis." He cited the recent front-page apology by The Independent on Sunday newspaper in Britain this year for its 10-year campaign to legalise cannabis. (widely condemed for its profligate rhetoric surrounding 30xtimes 'what we smoked' genetically engineered cannabis. The critical 'antidote' review of the Independent's reversal, can be read at /Blair)

"There are now more than 22,000 people a year, almost half under the age of 18, being treated for cannabis addiction in Britain."

(Tony Ryall was previously unembarrassed by his declaration that everyone in a regional mental health facility was there due to cannabis addiction /Blair 'leopards-spots' comes to mind)

(1)Meng is a strong supporter of law and order locally and nationally, believing it to be paramount to a community's success. He participated in the Commissioner's Police Act Review Symposium late last year at Victoria University of Wellington. In his submission, Meng said, "The most important part of local government and Police is to be relevant to our communities. The Police are an integral part of our communities; we need each other to be successful. It is all about people - all people, from all walks of life. We have a job to make our nation a great place to live safely in.

(2)Nona Aston is a Road Safety Council member.

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Drug classification beset by confusion [UK]

[ 01/11/2007- The Guardian ] In looking at the reclassification of cannabis in 2004 you claim "Ministers are coy about the success of their policy" in reducing use (Leaders, October 29). Let us be careful about spurious associations. In fact, cannabis use among school children was broadly stable according to a 2001-03 English school survey and has since declined. For adults, according to the British Crime Survey, cannabis use peaked in 2002-03 and has subsequently declined. The classification of a drug has little bearing on its prevalence, as the figures demonstrate.

There is no evidence here or internationally that the particular classification of a controlled drug acts as a deterrent to use.

Economic, social and cultural factors, along with availability, are the stronger influences. (the decline commenced prior to the Class B -> C UK reclassification, but may be in part a response to London Met. Det Chief Super, Eddie Ellison's 'Policing management' call to deal with cannabis by 'means other than arrest' /Blair )

There is a general confusion surrounding the purpose and function of the classification system. In the UK it currently provides a steer to national and local policing priorities , prosecution and sentencing practice. (same as in NZ)

Given the recent history of the debate about cannabis, we consider that a review of the entire basis of the classification system and the process for making decisions on drug classifications is overdue. We have made this point in our recent submission to the government consultation about its revised drug strategy. In particular, the opportunity should be taken to review the role of politicians in making decisions about the classification of controlled drugs - for example, to explore whether there are models that place decision-making outside of ministerial influence , as has happened with national statistics, the new Independent Safeguarding Authority and interest rates.

I think this explains why the [dis] Hon "drug Czar" Jim Anderton (and his simpering pathetic staff who cant resist embellishing a simple request for a meeting into a 'terrorising threat' ) chooses to ignore evidence based drug policy.

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›

Social Ecologist 'at large'

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Renewed call for conditional debate on cannabis

The New Zealand Drug Foundation hopes to reignite the debate over legalising cannabis and has the backing of other (selected) health sector experts. 

Foundation head Ross Bell says politicians had to take cannabis out of the too-hard basket and revisit the discussion. 

"no decision about us, without us".

Health Sector Advocate (not consulted) and MildGreen, Blair Anderson said today that contempory society has become 'distrustful of politico-speak surrounding drugs' and suggests that the way to move the debate forward is to foster unfettered participatory democracy and bring the stakeholders, inparticular the youth demograph onside. Anderson envisages that a MildGreen 'Social Ecology' approach can and will enable local governance 'libertarian municipalities' to respond to local needs.

It begins here...

"Rules 'proscribed' by central governance will strive to mediocrotity, decend to infantile detail and fail to address communities of interest. A transistion to libertarian self governance (and responsibility) is a one way street, New Zealand will never be the same... we better do 'this good' and move on", he said in Christchurch today.

Anderson's recent Mayoral tilt, charted the course commencing with "Time to Talk" drug policy. The challenge to Mayor Bob Parker is, can he deliver on his promise?

Half of New Zealanders had tried cannabis, he said, and one in eight used it regularly, but Parliament had not touched the issue since the 2000 Health Commission Inquiry and subsequent debate was stifled by the Government-United Future coalition in 2003.

"Misinformation and hysteria do not help a society deal effectively with cannabis," Bell said. "And the stigmas around use and fear of prosecution often stop the cannabis-dependent from seeking help."

Politicians were happy to debate party pills and methamphetamine, because the public was on their side, he said. Although cannabis was not seen as a vote winner, questions surrounding its social harm remained, he said.

"These include health effects, whether there is any valid medical use, its links with mental illness, supporting schools dealing with student cannabis (use), driving under the influence and the pros and cons of decriminalisation."

With party pills being made illegal at the end of the year it was time the cannabis debate started, he said. (BZP prevelence or harms as nominal as they have been, wouldnt have been a significant problem at all if Anderton's drug policy hadnt failed in the first place. For a country that can even consider 'legal regulation of pot' the banning of BZP now looks increasingly insane./Blair)

Alcohol and Drug Association chief executive Kate Kearney agreed it was time the debate was relaunched. The association had tracked increasing calls to the Alcohol and Drug Helpline over the last year. The calls had mainly come from men in the 19 to 25 age group.

Professor David Fergusson, who leads the long-running University of Otago's Christchurch Health and Development Study, said the 2003 debate had been politically thwarted. "Secondly, evidence as to the adverse effects of cannabis has increased in the last few years." (as has evidence of the failure of prohibition/Blair)

New Zealand needed to develop a grey position of tolerance which included the criminalisation of the sale, supply or purchase of cannabis, he said. But the possession of cannabis by responsible recreational users should be legal. (and just where do responsible recreational users obtian said cannabis... 'twit' comes to mind!, the right to posess is a barren right without the right to grow, store, process, trade and exchange /Blair)  

Fergusson, whose long-term study has followed 1265 people since 1977, said cannabis was imbedded in New Zealand society. "Now New Zealand has to learn to live with it."

The Drug Foundation has dedicated the November issue of its quarterly magazine, Matters of Substance, to cannabis. A Let's Talk About Pot section has also been added to the foundation's website.

New Zealand, world, sport, business & entertainment news on - Printable


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Antisocial behaviour in kids key to alcohol trouble in teens [MRC]

Antisocial behaviour in kids key to alcohol trouble in teens

30 October 2007

It is not levels of underage drinking, but early signs of antisocial behaviour that best predict future alcohol-related trouble and continued alcohol use by young people. This conclusion is drawn from a study led by Robert Young of the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow.

Published in the Journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, the study reveals that the strongest predictor of alcohol-related trouble among 15 year-olds is a history of antisocial behaviour rather than their actual drinking habits.

Over a period of four years lead researcher Young and colleagues worked with more than 2,000 school pupils between the ages of 11 and 15 to examine the relationship between under-age drinking, antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related trouble. The pupils completed regular surveys that asked about their alcohol consumption and behaviour.

Robert Young said:

"This research suggests the problem is not that drinking in young people inevitably leads to antisocial behaviour, but rather it is young people who already have a violent or antisocial tendency who are more likely to carry out antisocial acts when drinking."
He added: "Over the long-term, it is past antisocial behaviour, even as early as primary school, which predicts future drinking, rather then the reverse. Young people who have an antisocial past are much more likely to drink heavily or get into alcohol-related trouble in the future."

The results show that people who are inclined to behave badly are particularly prone to alcohol-related trouble. Alcohol can have the added effect of making trivial disputes worse - so even those with more moderate antisocial tendencies may be affected. Young people who got their alcohol from shops, bars, clubs, friends or siblings were more likely to both behave antisocially and indulge in increasing amounts of alcohol. In comparison, young people given alcohol by their parents were less likely to behave antisocially and escalate alcohol use. The results were equally valid for both girls and boys.

Hon Jim Anderton should be embarrased..... /Blair
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