Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drugs and the road forward

16 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    In an example of the complicated world we live in, e-cig vapers in Britain have been buying a product called Kronic Juice – many of them, it seems, in the belief that it contains CBD.

    What it actually contains is 5F-CUMYL-PINACA, a synthetic cannaboid, which is making some users really sick:

    Todd Renje believed he had bought CBD, which he had vaped for the past three years to self-medicate anxiety, having “decided against pharmaceuticals”. The 37-year-old from the United States said: “It was probably within two or three days that I found myself waking up the next morning and vaping a little before work, then taking it to work with me and vaping all day.

    “It got to the point where I’m literally vaping this Kronic Juice every 20 or 30 minutes, and if I don’t I get very nauseous, I start shaking, I get sweaty. It went on for months because I was scared to stop.”

    When he quit cold turkey, he said he suffered violent withdrawal symptoms. “I went from Friday, Saturday and Sunday with no sleep,” he said. “Vomiting, shaking, sweating, just feeling absolutely miserable. Then I had a seizure. I couldn’t even tell you what happened, I just woke up at hospital.”

    Others seem to have more idea of what the product is and are simply buying it because there's less legal heat attached than with natural cannabis.

    Unfortunately New Zealand, we have to own this one. 5F-CUMYL-PINACA was patented in 2015 by Matt Bowden and others, supposedly for therapeutic use, and as far as I can tell is still being sold by New Zealander Matthew Wielenga, who made a bundle out of selling Kronic into suburban dairies when he could.

    The kronicjuice.com website was shut down when The Guardian started asking questions, but the fact that the company refused to say what was in its products, and may in fact have been actively misleading customers – and endangering their lives in the process – is fucking despicable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Ooh! Helen Clark and Ruth Dreifuss are discussing the Commission's new report in Auckland on October 26.

    Register here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • tussock,

    Cheers for all this Russell. Great work, few top pieces out today from you and others. How good is an evidence-based government set on harm minimisation, eh, even when they aren't poking the budget all that hard. :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Peter Dunne has a big old vent on The Spinoff, which underlines what I wrote: it's not Labour diverting from New Zealand's established stance on global drug policy, it's National.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Danyl Mclauchlan has a go at National too...
    With Bridges, C0llins, Bennett et al branding these evicted tenants as 'meth crooks' it might be time to look at the upper echelon of society and the 'meth crooks' there as well.
    Many probably vote National.

    Phillip: “One day I was walking along K’ Rd to an important meeting. My belt broke, I’d put so many notches in it because I’d lost so much weight. It just fell apart. I had not a cent on me so I had to go home and grab a tie, and tie it around my trousers. And then I went to this meeting, which was literally for a multimillion-dollar contract that I was negotiating.


    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    A very good, thorough story on the Trump drug flim-flam by Samuel Oakford at The Intercept.

    Confirms to me I got it right in that RNZ column yesterday.

    Interesting note from Ross Bell on Twitter:

    US diplomats in Vienna overnight had already begun to walk back on the statement, acknowledging it's not a formal UN document and that the US will continue to focus on #UNGASS2016 and 2009 Political Statements

    So the whole thing is just classic Trump bullshit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Roger M,

    On point as usual, thank you.

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2018 • 11 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Hard to imagine a world that had no drugs, eh? No alcohol industry, no pharmaceutical industry. I doubt the UN or Trump were seriously committing themselves to any such goal. Just pretending to do so. But did floating the delusion even achieve anything?? Obviously not, so why the waste of effort?

    Use of drugs for self-healing or achieving altered states of consciousness has been part of the human condition throughout evolutionary history. Some other species do it too. Public policy ought to be based on human nature, which derives from nature. Any other kind of public policy has a warping effect and produces sociopathic governance.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Craig Young,

    The problem is, anti-drug populism is an orthodoxy that has been allowed to fuel the ‘war on drugs’. Its staple frame of reference is selective news coverage that focuses on specific events without reference to depth or context, whipping up moral panic and allowing antidrug moralists to dominate the political conversation without any access to evidence-based perspectives from responsible specialists. Consequently, national drug policy is a quagmire.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report

  • Pharmachick,

    Thanks for this thoughtful analysis. I cannot believe in the face of 40+ years of research that anybody is even considering going back to the Nixon era “war on drugs” and/or Reganite claptrap about “just say no”.

    Since Apr 2009 • 36 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    "Kiwis divided on legalising cannabis, but more are in favour, 1 NEWS poll reveals" https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/kiwis-divided-legalising-cannabis-but-more-in-favour-1-news-poll-reveals

    "Forty-six per cent of Kiwis were in favour of legalisation and 41 per cent were against. Twelve per cent were undecided." "Interviewing took place from October 15 to October 19, with 1006 eligible voters contacted either by landline or mobile phone. The maximum sampling error was ±3.1 per cent."

    They also asked a bunch of parliamentarians when they last had a toke, and for most it was long ago. Kelvin Davis firmly asserted that he never did. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, could be a minority of one in Northland! Apparently the number of Aotearoans who admit trying it is now over 80%. Outlaw nation.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Research into how the public sees the way forward for cannabis policy discovers several significant bodies of public opinion: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=96B6E991-5625-4F5B-A315-F29250EDA0C5

    "The anonymous online survey, which was part of the New Zealand Drug Trends Survey, was promoted via a targeted Facebook campaign between November 2017 and February 2018. More than 6,300 people competed the survey, with respondents given a list of 10 policy options, including the option to retain the current approach."

    "Associate Professor Chris Wilkins, who led the study, says 41 per cent of survey respondents who answered the question on cannabis policy indicated a preference for the regulation of medicinal cannabis using a doctor or pharmacy provision. This was by far the most popular option. Following that preference, 14 per cent supported prohibition with ministerial exemption – the current approach – and a further 14 per cent supported home production with no selling. One in ten respondents supported a profit-driven medicinal cannabis market with only light restrictions, similar to alcohol,” he says."

    "For recreational cannabis use, three quite different approaches received significant levels of support. Twenty-seven percent supported home production with no selling, 21 per cent supported a profit driven market with light regulatory restrictions, like alcohol, and 19 per cent supported continuing with the current prohibition."

    "Dr Wilkins says it is important that the public referendum presents the full range of reform options available, including the home production, not-for-profit and heavily regulated market options, rather than just a binary choice between prohibition and a commercial market."

    This prompted a somewhat banal editorial from Stuff: https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/108039719/editorial-legalising-cannabis--societys-shrug-of-indifference "But there is something the research does not highlight or the Massey survey address. It's a sense of moral failure; a societal shrugging of the shoulders. The wider muscle memory of apathy and now practised ambivalence."

    " We are considering legalising cannabis largely because the horse has bolted, not because of any desire to keep it locked up. We will simply move the numbers, and associated issues, from one Crown agency ledger to another. From Justice to Health. Aside from the few who will enjoy the odd puff from time to time there are a great many who rely on it to relieve the stresses of marginalisation. For them it is not an instrument of a highly functioning society but an escape pod." Are you starting to wonder if the writer is a rocket scientist in their spare time?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Group Think presents this compilation of nine views from "experts" on the design of the cannabis referendum: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/29-10-2018/reeferendum-what-should-the-question-on-cannabis-legalisation-be/

    Chlöe Swarbrick, Green Party spokesperson for drug reform, suggests “Do you support the [proposed law] that legalises, taxes, and regulates cannabis?” "The Greens are pushing for a ‘proposed law’ to pass through the House, which would come into force by hitting a vote threshold at public referendum."

    This prescriptive approach has the merit of simplicity, inasmuch as it provides a public mandate for a law co-designed to produce consensus and a majority vote in parliament for adoption. Flawed assumption here: parliament may not reach consensus prior to the referendum, so voters are effectively being asked to support whatever the Greens decide on.

    "We are pushing for a Canadian-style regime over one that benefits big pharma and corporates. We want a common sense, comprehensive law that recognises private users of cannabis will always be able to grow their own". Plus this: I’m advocating for a Citizens’ Jury on the referendum question, a tool used recently in the run-up to the Irish referendum on abortion and also recommended in the UK by the Independent Commission on Referendums."

    Ross Bell, speaking for the NZ Drug Foundation, agrees with this latter design feature: "we are not ready to commit to a specific question yet. But, we think the ideal situation would be for a binding referendum, where voters are asked to endorse (or not) a bill the establishes a clear public health regulatory model for cannabis, which has gone through Parliament with public submissions to a select committee, all first informed by an awesome deliberative democracy process such as a citizen jury."

    Nándor Tánczos, Whakatane Councillor and former Green MP, says "I strongly believe that it needs to be a two-part question. We need to test support for what I would call ‘decriminalisation’ – the right for adults to use cannabis and possess it for personal use. ...this also implies that people would be able to grow it for their own use, because if people can use it they must also be able to legally get hold of it in some way."

    "We also know that even if they are allowed to, most people won’t grow it for themselves. ...So there will still be an illegal market for cannabis if we don’t regulate its sale. I think we need a second question around being able to buy cannabis from licensed premises. All the evidence from overseas says that a properly regulated market is the best approach."

    His advice on phraseology for the referendum has the merit of simplicity of language to maximise comprehension:
    a) Should adults be able to possess and use cannabis?
    b) Should adults be able to buy cannabis from licensed premises?

    Reviewing the other six contributions confirms that a separate question to elicit approval of legalisation, first, followed by another to elicit approval for regulation of commercial providers, seems a consensual format. The question of whether a third question is necessary to specify a right to grow your own is moot - that could be included as a clause in the first or second questions.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Also essential for this topic is factoring in the therapeutic benefits of other plants, and it's encouraging that the psychedelic adventurers of the sixties & seventies are being followed by younger folk:

    "Zoe Helene grew up in New Zealand... Helene first took ayahuasca in 2008, on her first wedding anniversary. She's married to Chris Kilham, who goes by the moniker 'Medicine Hunter' and travels the globe researching medicinal plant use and working with companies to market them in the west. Helene is a part-owner of the business, and makes most of her income from royalties made on plants like maca and ginseng."

    "In the decade since first taking the drug, she has travelled once or twice a year to Peru, for ayahuasca ceremonies (they are usually led by indigenous Shipibo shaman, and typically there is singing, chanting and drumming as journeyers are in the throes of their psychedelic experiences). Why? "People like to say healing, and healing is definitely part of it, but I don't like to cram everything under healing as a category," Helene says. "I really think self-liberation is a big one, especially for women." This is where the feminism seems to come into it. On her website, Helene says she believes women are under-represented in the field of psychedelics, and it's her mission to change that."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Luckily we all have Bob McCoskrie to put us right with his 'exhaustive investigation' into the failure of legalising cannabis in Colorado...

    This story was 'promoted on Stuff as "OPINION: Legalised dope is not working in Colorado, and it won't work in NZ." - no where does he actually show how it is 'not working' - quelle surprise!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

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