Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What the Commissioner signed off on, back when he was a Professor.

Victoria University's Kelburn Campus.Image via Wikipedia
Hardly surprising then are we to learn that if he were a global dictator he would dismantle prohibition by legally regulating all drugs. So why is the Law Commission so stuck on the treaty obligations when it can dispense with UN Human Rights and the Ottawa Charter in order to uphold our obligations? Consider some Expert advice to Government some 13 years ago, as we adjusted our National Drug Policy. /Blair
International Treaty Considerations
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 is often considered a barrier to the liberalisation of cannabis policies. However, analysis of treaty commentary suggests that treaty proscriptions concerning cannabis are aimed primarily at large-scale (even international) trafficking.
Governmental commissions on cannabis control have arrived at divergent opinions on the question of whether the Single Convention requires signatory nations to ban personal use of cannabis. Most have discerned substantial flexibility in this regard. A 1994 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology took the position that only free availability is ruled out by international treaties, while the Victorian Premier's Drug Advisory Council took the position that partial prohibition (at least) was permitted under the treaties. (Rt Hon. Helen Clarke's favoured description. / Blair.)
Our reading of this complicated literature, and of the treaties themselves, leads us to conclude that a policy of partial prohibition, as defined above, would almost certainly be considered by most authorities as being in compliance with international treaties. On the other hand, a policy of regulated commerce would find less support among a majority of authorities. Of more basic concern is the extent to which international involvements should be permitted to dictate domestic policy.
Suggesting Class D as proposed for the De-Criminalisation of Cannabis is a partial prohibition and a (no additional) restricted commerce policy. There should be no unnecessary artificial, contrived or compliance barrier to something that is SAFER  than Alcohol. (saferchoice.org)
The right to possess is a barren right without the right to trade, store, process, label, grade, cultivate, research and merchandise.  Anything else is just a gentler kinder prohibition.
But then Prof Emeritus Fred Fastier said the current regime was (and still remains)  deficient. (Clifford Wallace Thornton Tour, Dunedin 2003-4)  /Blair 
(cited from)

Alternative Systems of Cannabis Control in New Zealand
A Discussion Paper, 
Drug Policy Forum Trust, Wellington, July 1997

Current Trustees: (as at above date)
Druis Barrett, president, Maori Women's Welfare League
Dr Robin Briant, senior physician, Auckland Hospital
Dr Peter Crampton, research fellow, VUW Health Services Research Centre
Prof Fred Fastier, U of Otago, emeritus, pharmacology
Dr David Hadorn, physician and health researcher (Forum director)
Amster Reedy, Maori scholar and statesman
Prof Norman Sharpe, head, department of medicine, U of Auckland Medical School
Helen Shaw, educationalist
Prof Warren Young, professor of law and ass't vice chancellor of research, VUW 

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Drugs Policy: What Should We Do About Cannabis?

Drugs Policy: What Should We Do About Cannabis?



Stephen Pudney
University of Leicester - Public Sector Economic Research Centre

Economic Policy, Vol. 25, Issue 61, pp. 165-211, January 2010

Abstract:     
A visual representation of A.D. de Groot's emp...Public policy has failed to prevent large-scale consumption of cannabis in most developed countries. So what, if anything, should we do to change the policy environment? Cannabis consumption is unambiguously harmful in several ways, but this does not automatically justify the prohibitionist policy dictated by the international drugs conventions. This paper sets out the arguments for policy intervention in the cannabis market and reviews the directions of policy change that have been called for. We argue that existing theoretical insights and empirical evidence give little compelling reason to prefer prohibition to the alternative of legalization of cannabis with harms controlled by regulation and taxation. Given this conclusion and the much wider prevalence of cannabis than of harder drugs, a reasonable way forward is to remove cannabis production and consumption (but not trade) from the current prohibitionist UN drug control treaties, to allow countries to adopt their own policies, thus generating new evidence on the potential impacts of a wider range of policy.

--
Damn, science can be so rational..... /Blair

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UK Transform Supports Class D classification

3149 Mission St., San FranciscoImage by Scott Hess via Flickr
Transform [ a drug policy foundation see http://transform-drugs.blogspot.com/ ] welcomes the recent shift in approach to the drugs issue, away from heavy handed enforcement towards public health and harm reduction as the guiding principles, and the development of effective regulatory models for some of the less harmful drugs currently in a legal grey area is inevitably going to be an important part of this process. Piperazines, a fairly marginal issue from Transform's perspective, could offer a useful opportunity to experiment with regulation whilst the stakes remain low, rather than leaving the market to self regulate, or opting for another expensive and counterproductive crackdown.

Recommendations

  • Initiate an official consultation as part of a formal engagement between the relevant Government agencies (including the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Treasury and key stakeholders including drug services, police and enforcement, NGOs, user groups, producers and retailers) to consider the three key choices for going forward regarding policy and legislation on recreational piperazines (status quo, regulation, prohibition). The possibility for a 'Class D' or 'restricted list' for lower risk drugs along the lines of the New Zealand model should specifically be included in the consultation.
  • That the ACMD produce a report that considers the information available on piperazines, clarifies the legal status and knowledge on of the various substances in question, and makes recommendations on ways forward, in line with similar recent reports on cannabis, khat, methamphetamines etc.
  • The ACMD should be specifically required to consider the models brought into New Zealand law, and make direct contact with colleagues on the New Zealand EACD, to discuss their findings and recommendations. (certainly, but avoid justice, corrections, border control, national drug intel, police and the treatment grifters et al/Blair )
  • In the short to medium Transform recommends the establishing in of a new 'Class D' within the MDA to enable the licensed sale of certain drugs under the direction of the ACMD.
It is such a good idea maybe New Zealand should actually try it!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

1:6 UK Patients say Doctors Recommended Pot

 
"The results of our UK survey, including the extent of use and reported effects, lend support to the further development of safe and effective medicines based on cannabis" says lead author Dr Mark Ware principal investigator and pain physician at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Pain Centre.
see http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/03/21/8565.aspx
 
Serious questions need to be asked as to why the NZ Parliament wasn't a bit more circumspect in its deliberations around med pot access pretending there was no issue and thus no debate, and no debate thus no issue.
 
/Blair
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Progesterone and Pot on Brain Week.

Dooley, the unofficial mascot of Emory UniversityImage via Wikipedia
The Brain Awareness Week public lecture.in the Philip Carter Family Auditorium, Christchurch Art Gallery, by the eminent neuroscientist Professor Donald Stein (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) on "Repairing damaged brains: progesterone, a safe treatment, hidden in plain sight".
[March 18th],

Professor Stein  summarised his 27 year journey towards a current, multi-centre US$28 million clinical trial to minimise the effects of acute brain injury. It seems that sex-steroids, especially progesterone, will do the trick – for both men and women. This hormone may also hold promise in many other conditions associated with brain impairment.
 
Near closing of his enthusiastic talk, Donald spoke of the many rats that had paid dearly to advance science.
Which lead into my question later stemming from my research into sexual behavour of canids (and what we have learned from rats), the role of and influence from hormones, and consequent to working with a patient centred research paradigm, the neuroprotective effects associated with endocannabinoids.

Mani et al. identify the molecular target by which THC affects sexual behavior, and unveil a remarkable operative cross talk mechanism between THC and the progesterone and dopamine signaling pathways.




Our studies indicate that THC acts on the CB1 cannabinoid receptor to initiate a signal transduction response that requires both membrane dopamine and intracellular progesterone receptors for effective induction of sexual behavior.  (see Mani et al, Progesterone receptor and dopamine receptors are required in Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol modulation of sexual receptivity in female rats )

In earlier research post discovery of THC, we thought it was the estrogen receptor. A lot of rats again.
Then about 1988 Howlett et al using a radioisotope demonstrated binding sites in rat brains. Thus the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors became the focus of novel research.

The further development of medicinal cannabinoids has been challenged with problems. Research has been fettered by fears and prejudices associated with cannabis 'the plant' and big pharma is challenged by the unpatentable herb.
 These include the psychoactivity of cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonists and the lack of availability of highly selective cannabinoid receptor full agonists (for the CB1 or CB2 receptor), as well as problems of pharmacokinetics. Global activation of cannabinoid receptors is usually undesirable, and so enhancement of local endocannabinoid receptor activity with indirect cannabimimetics is an attractive strategy for therapeutic modulation of the endocannabinoid system. However, existing drugs of this type tend to be metabolized by the same enzymes as their target endocannabinoids and are not yet available in a form that is clinically useful.
While we do not entirely understand the action and thus efficacy of ASPRIN, the all to familiar Paracetamol (acetaminophen) effect is by its degradation into an anandamide (an endocannabinoid).

We do know that cannabinoids exert powerful secondary effects post TBI. The modulation breaks the CNS glutamate cascade that results in early cell death. Anti-inflamatory benefits acrue from CB2 modulation. [Cerebral hypoxia–ischemia and middle cerebral artery occlusion induce expression of the cannabinoid CB2 receptor in the brain. Benito, et al, J Neuroscience.]


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UC Panel Discussion on review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Panel Discussion

Thursday 25 March, 3pm — Lecture theatre C3,  University of Canterbury

Panel Discussion on review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.  Law Commissioner Val Sim with Professor Neil Boister, Professor Greg Newbold and Dr Eric Crampton discuss the recently released Law Commission discussion document on the Act. Chaired by David Round.


This will be an interesting arena of discussion. In particular as the most recent (3 March 2010) UNODC [UN Office Of Drug Control] Drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice:Human Rights Perspectives informs us of the important 'overarching goal ' in a HR context provides that policy be  "fit for use" and particularly here, where New Zealand's set and setting is in being one of the highest cannabis consuming nations on the planet. (see note 1.0  /Blair)
 
Of course there are other parameters, like best practice policy "Impact Assessment" that has still not been done?  (see note 2.0 / Blair)
 
And University (in particular in our Sister City Seattle) initiatives like http://safercampuses.org
 
The writer is before a district court judge at 2:00pm this day to answer too the charge of disordlerly behavour for speaking in High Street "about these very matters above". It is a summary offence. Police bail was conditional on accepting a prohibition order for one month on entry to the 'four avenues'.
 
It will go to defended hearing. It is, quite simply, the intersect of drug policy and our Bill of Rights. I was wearing in court my SAFER T-shirt. It features the webaddress http://saferchoice.org as it was on the day I was detained for speaking.
 
The Judge quite rightly and likely determined by the "Party Organically" emblazoned across my chest  decided no status hearing was necessary. Argument, that my defence was niether drivolous frivolous or vexatious was made clear. The Canterbury Police cannot back down, they are now at full trial for 'rights abuse'.  The trial date is set for late June. Pity we couldnt resolve this before the Law Commission with its chambion of the Bill of Rights and fmr Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer deliberated.
 
These are interesting times.
 
note:
1.0   UNODC-Human-Rights-Conference-Paper.pdf  241.00K
2.0   IDPC Briefing_Impact Assessment_March 2010.pdf 172.00K
 
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vince Whare's Health Protected by Cannabis Ban

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 04: Bill W...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
There is without question, some risk from participating in the culture of cannabis. The prime one and easily identified by the evidence base is the risk of getting caught. Being found with either with nanograms (of residual  metabolites, the exhaust as it were) inside of you or fractions of a gram outside of you is enough in a zero tollerant world.

Compared to the attendant risk from the pharmacology of pot, regarded by DEA Administrative Law Judge as one of the 'safest therapeutic substances known to man', the NZ Sports Tribunal and absent any evidence pot improves performance, chose to save Vince Whare from a very dangerous alternative. Rugby League.

Eminent North American journalist Dan Gardner (Smoke And Mirrors fame) captured the sentiment beautifully ina recent Canadian Op Ed.
It only "occasionally" blows out knees. And herniates discs. And tears ligaments, breaks bones, and snaps necks. And it's only now and then that it inflicts horrific concussions which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and death.

{snip}
I know what the scientific evidence says about the risks of consuming [ecstasy] and the risks of playing football and if my kid insisted on doing one or the other I'd tell him to stay the hell away from football. - Dan Gardiner, Ottawa Citizen.

Sadly communication to young potential players that might enter the sport it is a conversation to far for the NZ Rugby League Players Association! They prefer beer drinkers join the club. Effectively, this policy as good as makes beer compulsory with anything SAFER punishable by a quick, even if arbitary, lifestyle career change. Quite some message: Pot is 'so good' that when having achieved the top national award a player must be banned for ten years to protect the sports image and, I suspect, SPARC funding.

Blair Anderson
http://mildgreens.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

And the Injustice Is?

 “If sports bodies are concerned about their image, the focus should be on alcohol, not cannabis,” said Mr Saxby. “Half of all serious violent offences and one third of all offences in New Zealand are committed by offenders who have been drinking; while alcohol is associated with almost fifty percent of all reported incidents of sexual violence.”


The injustice of catching one person per NFL year for pot when drawn from 16% of all NZ’s surveyed demograph… arround one in 6 players, some say more, it’s just how it is. The worst injustice is labeling alcohol more legal than cannabis thus promoting and protecting sports subsidy, from Harringtons to Sparc. And ALAC says nothing, they according to them at least, are not funded too.

It will be more interesting to the players than to the associations (where even not so angels fear to tread) of that I have no doubt. DrugFree Sport still thinks they can turn your addiction arround as if it is just some kind of career move.

Couldnt be to Touch Rugby as any reading of their profile will tell you. Touch Rugby would all but dissapear under a testing regime. But no one will go there, it’s the way it is.

It is not an endless string of fashionable mollochs, it is just lurching incompetancy at sending any kind of meaningful signal while the double standards reign supreme.

Cannabis players can cope with sport better than drunks.

It is anti-aggressogenic character makes it a safer alternative for enjoyable recreation. We have a class for recreational drug use, ministry of health approved. Keep problematic drug use to when drug use is problematic. Problem Solved.

http://thedaktory.org.nz/news/another-drug-war-injustice/comment-page-1/#comment-3034


I saw the Waiheki Four yesterday, before a Judge for collectively possessing a joint and a bong and no one will admit to whose it is, kinda cases.  On a beach table. On New Years Eve. Laughable. The Judge was not too impressed with the Police's account of things, so, it procedes to defended hearing. Oh dear! Is this for real? The court should not deal with such trivia.

The injustice is this is done in our name.

Blair Anderson
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