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, May 30, 2008

Energy drinks linked to risky behavior among teens



Health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teenagers and young adults: the energy drink.

(see report @
Energy drinks linked to risky behavior among teenagers -- chicagotribune.com )

Super-caffeinated energy drinks, with names like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and Amp, have surged in popularity in the past decade. About a third of 12- to 24-year-olds say they regularly down energy drinks, which account for more than $3 billion in annual sales in the United States.


(note: Red Bull advt. campaign seeking crazy showmen and Jackass wannabes / or this enticing 'drug consumption/addiction alliteration' for "Spike Shooter - "once you take a sip - mindblowing" the HardCore Energy Drink" /Blair)

The trend has been the source of growing concern among health researchers and school officials. Around the country, the drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.

In Colorado Springs, several high school students last year became ill after drinking Spike Shooter, a high caffeine drink, prompting the principal to ban the beverages. In March, four middle school students in Broward County, Fla., went to the emergency room with heart palpitations and sweating after drinking the energy beverage Redline. In Tigard, Ore., teachers this month sent parents an e-mail message alerting them that students who brought energy drinks to school were "literally drunk on a caffeine buzz or falling off a caffeine crash."

New research suggests the drinks are associated with a health issue far more worrisome than the jittery effects of caffeine — risk taking.

In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study's author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with "toxic jock" behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn't mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. "It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks," Miller said.

The American Beverage Association says its members don't market energy drinks to teenagers. "The intended audience is adults," said Craig Stevens, a spokesman. He says the marketing is meant for "people who can actually afford the two or three bucks to buy the products."

The drinks include a variety of ingredients in different combinations: plant-based stimulants like guarana, herbs like ginkgo and ginseng, sugar, amino acids including taurine as well as vitamins. But the main active ingredient is caffeine.

Caffeine content varies. A 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 34 to 38 milligrams for the same amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Monster has 120 milligrams and Red Bull has 116. Higher on the spectrum, Spike Shooter contains 428 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces, and Wired X344 contains 258.

Stevens points out that "mainstream" energy drinks often have less caffeine than a cup of coffee. At Starbucks, the caffeine content varies depending on the drink, from 75 milligrams in a 12-ounce cappuccino or latte to as much as 250 milligrams in a 12-ounce brewed coffee.

One concern about the drinks is that because they are served cold, they may be consumed in larger amounts and more quickly than hot coffee drinks, which are sipped. Another worry is the increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. The addition of caffeine can make alcohol users feel less drunk, but motor coordination and visual reaction time are just as impaired as when they drink alcohol by itself, according to an April 2006 study in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"You're every bit as drunk, you're just an awake drunk," said Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien, associate professor in the departments of emergency medicine and public health services at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

O'Brien surveyed energy drink and alcohol use among college students at 10 universities in North Carolina. The study, published this month in Academic Emergency Medicine, showed that students who mixed energy drinks with alcohol got drunk twice as often as those who consumed alcohol by itself and were far more likely to be injured or require medical treatment while drinking. Energy drink mixers were more likely to be victims or perpetrators of aggressive sexual behavior. The effect remained even after researchers controlled for the amount of alcohol consumed.

Energy drink marketers say they don't encourage consumers to mix the drinks with alcohol. Michelle Naughton, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, which markets Amp, said, "We expect consumers to enjoy our products responsibly."

www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-052708-energy-drinks-may28,0,2191663.story

By Tara Parker-Pope / New York Times / May 27, 2008

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Experts advise MDMA and LSD safer

Like NZ, the UK expert advisory cmte [lead now by Professor Nutt, he was here in February for the Christchurch Medical School lectures and UN NGO meetings in Wgn] is retaking a look at MDMA classification. After being ignored by the Home Office and Gordon Browm I don't like their chances, however good on them for keeping the issue ticking over. There is nothing more important than resolving the tensions around drug policy perse. /Blair
 
Ecstasy reclassification meltdown; it begins again

Thought the reclassification ridiculousness was over? WRONG. It's only just starting. The miserable cannabis reclassification saga (as chronicled on this blog over the last couple of years) may be done and dusted for the time being but the next installment is about to begin with the imminent ACMD review of ecstasy's classification status. And if it was possible to find a drug that works tabloids and politicians into more of a irrational lather than cannabis, then that drug is ecstasy.

 

see http://transform-drugs.blogspot.com/2008/05/ecstasy-reclassification-meltdown-it.html

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cannabis and the Office of the President on Drugs

Executive Summary
(click for PDF link)

  • Two million teens report feelings of depression and loss of interest in daily activities during the past year.
  • Depressed teens are twice as likely as non-depressed teens to use marijuana and other illicit drugs.
  • Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuseor become dependent on marijuana.
  • Using marijuana can cause depression and other mental illnesses.
  • Marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.
  • Teens who smoke marijuana at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users.
  • The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than depressed adults to use marijuana and other drugs.
  • Teen girls who use marijuana daily are more likely than girls who do not use marijuana to develop depression.
Yeah - and peer reviewed evidence says this is largely hogwash.- the correlation is "trouble with the law"

--
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
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Cannabis linked to use of amphetamines

Cannabis linked to use of amphetamines and concrete floors!
More people who have friends who smoke cannabis are likely to walk on concrete floors too err. well thats correlation for ya!! (/blair!)
Doctors have tracked 2,000 Victorian high school students for 10 years and found those who were smoking cannabis at the age of 15 were as much as 15 times more likely to be using amphetamines in their early 20s.

The work, to be published in the August edition of the journal Addiction also dispels the image of ice and speed users as young, wealthy party-goers.

"That's something which people have speculated on for decades and decades - that there was some progression in the way in which young people are introduced to drugs. You start with tobacco and alcohol, move to cannabis, once you feel comfortable with the former, once you feel comfortable with cannabis, you're more likely to move onto other drugs. And that's certainly the progression that we found with amphetamine use," one of the report's authors, Professor George Patton, said.

"So the message here is not that this was a group of sort of aspirant party-going young adults who didn't have a history of some other use. These amphetamine users look very much like our very heavy cannabis users, and those who are using other illicit drugs.

Professor Patton says there are a number of things we can learn from this research.

"One, I think we need to remain vigilant about drug use. We've seen tremendous rises in amphetamine use in a relatively short space of time, a lot more people using. If they were to move on and young people were to be using amphetamines more frequently, then that would be a major problem," he said.

"But, look, I think the message is that use of drugs to excess, misuse of drugs, is something which really begins back in the teens. That's where we need to have a major focus."

Professor Patton says the research also does away with the idea of harmless experimentation and soft drugs.

"Well, yeah. Even experimentation at a young age is a problem," he said.

Newshawk: http://www.napnt.org
Pubdate: Wed, 18 July 2007
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Australia -Web)
Email: comments@your.abc.net.au
Copyright: 2007 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Website: http://www.abc.net.au/

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

How Pot Became Demonized

The Fine Line Between Good Medicine and 'Dangerous Drugs'
By Wendy Chapkis, Richard J. Webb, NYU Press
A history of the battle between politics and science over the use of marijuana as a medicine. Read more »

--
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
 
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drugs, our community, your say - the [UK] consultation con

"Drugs, the consultation con" had its parallel in New Zealand when the Ministry of Health revisited the "national drug policy" for its ten year review. It was described by one addiction specialist attending, and member of our Expert Advisory Commitee on Drugs (EACD) as an "embarrasment to the Ministry".

It was conducted as if there was no views in dissent with the policy base despite it diverging from the policy development documents that precedded its application (now) 12 years ago.

It was a case of evidence base fits the politics… now where have I heard that recently?

» Drugs, our community, your say - the consultation con The UKCIA News Blog: news and comment from www.ukcia.org

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

On the Crime and Punishment Wagon



The agenda from the Nicky 'Wagon'er Cut Crime in Christchurch meeting was clearly about alcohol & related mayhem, cannabis wasn't even mentioned by ANY of the presenters at the table.

There was a clear agenda that ANYONE considered pissed would be spending the night with Mr Cliff & Friends (except if your a young girl out to lunch and you get a free ride home), yes, the "NY" broken windows was force du jour with the underlying tenet of zero tolerance of all crimeincluding riding your bike without a helmet - but there was no connect with broken windows being about 'environment' aesthetics (the O'Connell Hippothesis - a big idea with teeth but wallowing in some muddled politics).

Then... out comes the statement from the Police after the meeting that elevated intolerance towards cannabis was permissible even desirable due to the gang/money connection.

"Alcohol would be a focus, as would cannabis because it was still the key income generator for organised crime, he said." [PRESS.CO.NZ]

Now with the 'right' (to which they may not be entitled - Minister of Health 1975) to stop anyone anytime - in a car or not, in the back seat or not etc. we can realistically expect the same outcome as NY. This is done under the aegis of local government "liquor free zone" bylaw enforcment. But we are told its a central govt. issue. Direct your objections there...






New York - New York City has been the pot-bust capital of the world for a decade, since Rudolph Giuliani's decision to make public toking a top police priority. A new study sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union says the city's cannabis crackdown is both racist and fraudulent.
....
"we will tame New York by bringing the black and brown people under control" and "no offense is too petty." Of the people arrested for misdemeanor pot possession from 1997 through 2006, five out of six were black or Latino, in a city that is almost half white and Asian. Nine out of ten were male, and most were aged 16 to 25.
....
the policy a waste of money - at an estimated $1,500 to $2,500 per arrest, it cost the city $60 to $100 million last year, at a time when Mayor Michael Bloomberg is slashing the city budget and closing libraries on weekends. (cf: Parker raising rents 25%, Moore closing Libaries and Pools)

....
the marijuana-arrest program works to "familiarize, socialize, and prepare disadvantaged black and Latino teenagers and young adults from poor neighborhoods for the routines and expectations of the police, court, jail, and prison system."
....
New York's cannabis crackdown is both racist and fraudulent - and that more have been arrested under "You bet I did - and I enjoyed it" Bloomberg than intolerant Giuliani.



There is a parallel. I have absolutely no doubt Media Mayor Bob Parker enjoyed inhaling it as well. He was rankled as all hell at any suggestion he achieved high office on the back of the 'inner city, bar on every corner, brown fields development' alcohol ticket. (cf property developer David Henderson's $60,000+ campaign contribution with 'no strings!' Yeah Right!)

Yes, Mr Parker, the message is loud and clear, and you need to hear it from us. "You may as well have got your 'golden chains' money off Al Capone himself."


















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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cannabis: The Public Health Issues 1995-1996

"It is therefore recommended that an intersectoral policy to improve health by reducing cannabis related harm should be developed as part of a comprehensive national policy on tobacco, alcohol and other drugs." (notably a health primitive completely at odds with the terms of reference of the Law Commission, though remarkably like Class D)

Monitoring and evaluation

Policy should be continually monitored and evaluated to ensure that it is meeting its objectives and is in line with the latest evidence. Because of their integral nature, monitoring and evaluation should be built into the policy development process itself. (Yeah Right!)

Outcome targets
• To reduce the prevalence of current marijuana use (used in the last 12
months and not stopped using) from 12 percent of persons aged 15 to 45
years in 1990, to 8 percent or less by the year 2005 [baseline, Black and
Casswell 1993].
• To reduce the prevalence of frequent marijuana use (used 10 or more times
in the last 30 days) from 2.4 percent of persons aged 15 to 45 years in 1990,
to 1.5 percent or less by the year 2005 [baseline, Black and Casswell 1993].
(ROTFL)


URL: http://www.ndp.govt.nz/moh.nsf/pagescm/1044/$File/cannabispublichealthissues.pdf
Linked from: http://www.ndp.govt.nz/moh.nsf/UnidPrint/CM1044?OpenDocument

Cannabis: The Public Health Issues 1995-1996 (PDF, 335 KB)
cannabispublichealthissues.pdf

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Ketamine eases depression

Scientists have unraveled how a horse tranquilizer and hallucinogenic night club drug known as "Special K" can ease depression, researchers said on Friday.  —  LONDON, May. 2, 2008 (Reuters)
 
Ketamine, which can also cause feelings of detachment, could pave the way for new treatments for people suffering from depression, the researchers added.
 
Their study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found ketamine restores to normal the orbifrontal cortex, an area of the brain located above the eyes that is overactive in depressed people.
 
The area is believed to be responsible for feelings of guilt, dread, apprehension and physical reactions such as a racing heart, said Bill Deakin, who led the study.   (another popular drug, a dissasociate made by both pharmaceutical companies and in illicit drug labs, that has now been found to have off-label medical use... /Blair)
 
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Ecstasy 'trust' is the key

What makes MDMA so useful, Mithoefer believes, is the trust it establishes.

Ecstasy is the key to treating PTSD - Times Online

As with Ritalin, ethics surrounding this emerging science is really about cognitive liberty and [the right to] informed consent. /Blair

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Pro-cannabis protest held in peace, man

Police made no arrests at a pro-cannabis protest in Invercargill yesterday — despite a cannabis plant being in plain view and supporters openly smoking the drug.

A police officer at the scene, next to the Cenotaph in Dee St, read the Misuse of Drugs Act but after talking with the protesters did not act on it.

Protest co-ordinator Dakta Green said it was the group's most heated exchange with police on its nationwide protest tour but was pleased it had not gone further. "It was a perfectly reasonable and responsible thing for the Invercargill police to do — this is a peaceful political protest and they did right to step back and withdraw." There had been two arrests on the tour, in Palmerston North on Good Friday, for cannabis use.

Senior Sergeant Olaf Jensen, of Invercargill, said police didn't undertake the search for operational reasons.

Southland area commander Inspector Tony O'Neill said the group's aim was to provoke a reaction — which police were not going to give it.

He also questioned the positioning of Norml's bus so close to the Cenotaph only days after Anzac Day. Promoting what was, whether the protesters liked it or not, an unlawful activity in the shadow of a monument devoted to men and women who had lawfully died in service of their country was disrespectful, he said. (And what in heavens name has this got to do with fried fish? If anything, the folk this memorial is a legacy to is they died in the name of the 'right to self determination, unfettered debate uncoloured by prejudice!' /Blair)

About 60 people turned up in the rain for the afternoon rally to give their support for legalising cannabis.

The protest trip was organised by the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

Originally, it was just to visit a friend in Dunedin but developed into Norml's most extensive tour, with protests throughout the country, Mr Green said. "In a stoner moment, we invented 42 towns in 42 days just to get to him in Dunedin." And in true pot-smoking logic, Invercargill was the 43rd stop on the "42-town" tour.

The group also plans to protest on Stewart Island today.

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LSD inventor Albert Hofmann dies

It isn't hard to have an affinity with Al Hofmann. It turns out that like MDMA LSD was an empathic. [besides, My Grandparents were Hofman's.]

LSD inventor LSD inventor Albert Hofmann dies

Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the hallucinogenic drug LSD, has died of a heart attack at his home in Basel at the age of 102.
Mr Hofmann first produced LSD in 1938 while researching the medicinal uses of a crop fungus.

He accidentally ingested some of the drug and said later: "Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror."

He argued for decades that LSD could help treat mental illness, but in the 1960s it became a popular street drug. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the hallucinogenic drug LSD, has died of a heart attack at his home in Basel at the age of 102.

Mr Hofmann first produced LSD in 1938 while researching the medicinal uses of a crop fungus.

He accidentally ingested some of the drug and said later: "Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror."

He argued for decades that LSD could help treat mental illness, but in the 1960s it became a popular street drug.

(and thus it should be added, LSD is on evidence and contrary to harm reduction principles, inappropriately classified. /Blair )

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Student Association's forum on drug and alcohol harm

Jim Anderton, former Deputy Prime Minister of ...Image via Wikipedia

Jim Anderton / 1 May, 2008 /Dunedin, Otago University Campus


I welcome this forum and I am grateful for the opportunity to join you here. I welcome it because I think the issue of the harm caused by drugs and alcohol is important.
So important that a couple of years ago I supported the police in allocating resources to fund a drug harm index. I supported this study because I take the issue of drug harm very seriously.
The money was used for research to quantify drug harm - not just how expensive the problem is, but also where the avoidable costs lie and what could be done to minimise them. The government’s ministerial committee on drug policy - that I chair - has this week received a report on that research.
I want to share the results with you - this is the first time they have been made public.
This was a formal research project by professional researchers (BERL) and peer reviewed - one of the peer reviewers was Des O’Day, a public health expert at Otago University.

The study concluded, “the harm from drugs consumed in 2006 is substantial and that illicit drug seizures may have prevented approximately another third again of harm.” In 2006 illicit drug use caused social costs estimated at $1,310 million.
That’s nearly one per cent of GDP.
Illicit drug production cost the country $519 million. Related crime cost us $414 million. Lost output due to illicit drug use cost $106 million. Another $53 million resulted from drug-attributable health care and road smashes.
Of course, as we know, not all drug use is the same. So the research is broken down into categories of drugs.
Over two fifths of social costs - 42 percent, or $551 million - is caused by illicit stimulants. We know them as meth, or P.
The researchers said stimulants stand out as the “the second largest source of tangible costs for the user” at $2640 per user in 2006. They caused $551 million of social costs in 2006. That’s over ten million dollars of harm every week.
Over a third of the social costs of illicit drug use are caused by cannabis. That’s $444 million of social costs in 2006 from cannabis alone. As we already know, cannabis is not as damaging as other illicit drugs such as opiods or LSD. The cost per kilogram and cost per user is lower than the others. That is why cannabis is a Class C, not a class A, drug.
But that figure of $444 million of social costs is one that we can’t go past. It is a very high cost mainly because cannabis use is so widespread. The more widespread the use of cannabis gets, the higher that cost will be.
Compare it to alcohol use. Alcohol is far and away our most destructive drug. If you ask the police, or medical authorities, about the times they are called in to crises, or to accidents, to clean up human harm they will tell you that alcohol is almost invariably involved.
Alcohol was not part of the study I am releasing tonight. But according to the Ministry of Health, the social costs of alcohol misuse total between $1.5 billion and $2.4 billion a year. So why do we make alcohol legal, when it causes much more damage than any other drug?
The answer should give advocates of drug use some pause for thought: Alcohol is not the most intrinsically harmful drug. It is the most harmful because it is the most widely used. It causes physical and mental health problems. It causes catastrophe on the roads. It causes drownings and violence in families and elsewhere. It leads to absenteeism and problems at work.
Over 80 percent of New Zealanders drink alcohol - and it causes as much as two billion dollars of harm.
Around 14 percent used cannabis last year. And it caused $444 million. Harm to individuals includes suicide and mental illness, respiratory problems including lung damage and violence. On a proportionate basis, cannabis is the more harmful drug, according to the best figures we have available.
Who pays the social costs of harm caused by drug use? We all do, in paying taxes for our hospitals and police and social agencies to pick up the pieces. The victims of crime pay the social costs.
The families of users pay the social costs. And the users themselves.
In the case of cannabis they pay around $1,750 a year on average each in social and economic costs. These include production of drugs, crime, loss of output at work, healthcare and road accidents.
I’m the minister of forestry - and I go and see the forestry companies and ask them to work closely with communities to hire more young people and train them with high skills, so we export higher value products, instead of raw logs. And one of the problems they talk to me about is the difficulty of training young people when drugs have ruined their motivation to even get out of bed. They can tell you of the dangers of forestry workers using chainsaws or heavy machinery while they’re stoned.
When young people use cannabis they do long-term damage to their brains. It causes memory loss, mood disorders and depression. Cannabis dealers don’t care. Police will tell you cannabis dealers don't refuse to sell their product to children, even kids in school uniform. That is who is paying the social cost.
I’ve been trying to increase the minimum legal age for buying alcohol. I think that it’s wrong that teenagers can buy alcohol at the corner dairy. When we reduced the age for buying alcohol - the number of car smashes and the number of hospital admissions for 18-20 year olds shot up. So did the figures for the under-18s. Because, of course, they were more likely to get alcohol when their friends and siblings over 18 were buying it for them, or lending them ID.
And if cannabis were made more widely available, more young people would use it, and more would be harmed by it.
I am against making drugs more widely available because I think we should be strong enough to care for our community. We should be strong enough and caring enough to give our young people a future in their own communities.
We should be strong enough to care for our young people. We should be strong enough to try to minimise harm when we know we can.
Jim Anderton / Health

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