Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Labour's medical cannabis bill and a new Drug Harm Index

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  • andin, in reply to linger,

    proposed use of psilocybin

    ?

    , psychedelics have the potential for use in breaking down the pathologically rigid behaviours

    Yeah give it to the pathologically rigid, take your pick...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    Seems only fair, since there are drugs for the pathologically flaccid, and they're not for any other purpose than fun. But since that's a problem that mostly affects old men, it's no wonder that's legal. They're allowed their fun, at personal risk, and that risk is hardly insubstantial considering the frailty of the people who are often using it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    and they’re not for any other purpose than fun.

    Priapic epics vs Viagra falls?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    flaccid

    Yeah well lets not mock old men vicariously but I kinda meant behaviours, as in mental straitjackets of behaviour.
    If you've ever seen a person who has never had acid take it and try and keep control of everything, even when the walls and floor start going all wavy and everything rotates and turns into a colour spectrum.
    Its a sight.;-)
    but anyhoo
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/11/lsd-impact-brain-revealed-groundbreaking-images

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    but anyhoo

    That study is very interesting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    I kinda meant

    I know, I was just fooling around. Sort of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Seems only fair, since there are drugs for the pathologically flaccid, and they’re not for any other purpose than fun. But since that’s a problem that mostly affects old men, it’s no wonder that’s legal. They’re allowed their fun, at personal risk, and that risk is hardly insubstantial considering the frailty of the people who are often using it.

    This has struck me too. It's the only recreational drug prescribed as such by your doctor. Well, actually, now you can just wander into a pharmacy and have a potentially embarrassing conversation with the chemist and get it.

    Death is very rare, but the risks are more significant if the, er, patient has atherosclerosis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    This from today’s flaccid excuse for a newspaper. An actual article that does not beat the drum for John Key &co. but reveals a skunk in the works.
    The Herald

    Co-authored by the South Auckland Kotahitangi Community Trust’s chairman, Peter Caccioppoli, and the trust’s GP, Rhys Cullen, it argued “the answer to diabetes is not diet and exercise but medication”.

    They argued the Crown’s “health Nazis” opposed activities like smoking and eating fatty foods simply because Maori enjoyed them. Instead of expecting Maori to stop smoking or start dieting, the Government should hand out pills to prevent illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

    Dr Cullen’s campaign for a cure-all pill came to a sudden halt soon after, when he was found guilty of professional misconduct and banned from practicing for obtaining large quantities of pseudoephedrine tablets, the main precursor for the Class A drug methamphetamine, for illegal purposes. His claim it was for research purposes was not believed.

    So, Methamphetamine is considered the go to drug for all Maori ills in the eyes of our Minister of Health?. Does not surprise me.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    I don’t know about you, but for years I’ve suspected that the Police pretty much invent dollar amounts to justify cannabis busts and ensure continued funding. You read about someone being caught with 20 plants which the Police value at $x plus that much larger figure of “social harm” prevented in the process.

    To my mind the cops have always done this. Since the seventies the dollar value Police place on plant seizures often exceeds the street value of the drug, sometimes by a stupidly large factor. Once the Police introduced the concept of “social harm” and quantified this in dollar amounts, the societal value of the war on drugs suddenly made some sort of sense. To some people.

    But the cops were lying.

    For years the Police have relied on a 2007 report called New Cannabis: The Cornerstone of Illicit Drug Harm in New Zealand produced by strategic drug analyst Les Maxwell of NZ’s National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB).

    Maxwell’s report shocked a few people with the claim that about 2000 people a year end up in hospital because of the drug. He put the cost of these admissions at $31m in 2005.

    This information was widely used by the Police to justify a crackdown and intensify their war on cannabis. But the information they used was false and knowingly fabricated. It’s taken an unemployed sociologist named Steve Dawson several years to determine that the Police report exagerated the reality by a factor of at least ten.

    The SST story explains the flawed methodology used by Maxwell including ignoring the primary reason for hospital admissions. If a pregnant women mentioned that she used cannabis, the entire hospital cost for giving birth was recorded as being cannabis-related.

    Elsewhere, he finds a case where someone has spent 240 days in hospital due to prostate cancer – again counted as a “cannabis-related” admission in the Maxwell data. “There’s no study on the planet that makes that link."

    So those “2000 cannabis-related hospital admissions” are actually around 200. And the “$31m” cost of those admissions is nearer $2.5m.

    Maxwell, who is still with the police, says he doesn’t want to discuss his report.

    I’ll bet he doesn’t.

    And well done Steve Dawson.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1428 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alfie,

    You'll notice they don't slice and dice the cost of the policing the war on drugs. It being an optional thing, something we could choose not to do, a cold calculus could easily be applied to see if it's worth it. For all their "societal harm reduction" funny money calculations, a real accounting cost of actually waging this war could be offset. Police time is very expensive, since they also bring lots of physical equipment to bear as well, and then there's all the expense of prosecutions.

    Let alone that there is a "societal harm reduction" opportunity cost that can't really be calculated at all, the fact that all that police time was NOT spent on something more worthwhile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not to mention the fairly large number of generally honest and peaceable people who are disinclined to engage with the police because of their role in enforcing drug laws - which leaves police less able to do their core job of preventing crimes of violence and dishonesty.

    Also true of other areas where policing is used for excessive social control – road policing, alcohol laws, suppressing political protest, etc.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yes. Also I think that being searched at any time for something you aren't actually holding is a harm. Being detained during it, and also any damage done by the police. Anecdotally this can actually be quite a lot of damage when it's a house search. One is a loss of rights, the other is a loss of property. The first one is probably more serious, that being searched is most likely quite traumatic, and asymmetrically afflicts oppressed demographics.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Alfie,

    Maxwell, who is still with the police, says he doesn’t want to discuss his report.

    I’ll bet he doesn’t.

    Sounds like an OIA to me.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2931 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    It’s taken an unemployed sociologist named Steve Dawson several years to determine that the Police report exagerated the reality by a factor of at least ten

    Good work that man.

    There was a commenter here called Shulgin, who I think I banned after he got obsessive about that and other issues – he knew Maxwell's name and the details of the nonsense the police pulled, but just wanted to talk about it all the time, angrily.

    Anyway, just had my first day at UNGASS, blog post coming up. After dinner, naturally.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Herald gives foaming dunce McCoskrie a platform to spread lies.

    Marijuana was made illegal because it is harmful.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Sacha,

    Herald gives foaming dunce McCoskrie a platform to spread lies.

    Why bother with trivial matters like facts or science when you just know, deep down, that your long-held predudices must be correct. Bob certainly knows how to play it fast and loose.

    In 1979, the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said, "We'll use medical marijuana as a red-herring to give marijuana a good name".

    Sorry Bob, but the only three places that exact quote appears are on your own website and on Stuff and Herald stories quoting you. You're probably talking about a later myth which was soundly discredited at the time... way back in 2001. But I guess you haven't caught up yet, being as stuck in the fifties as you are.

    And the Christchurch Health and Development study found that the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis may now be greater than the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol.

    That's most surprising when numerous studies conclude the complete opposite. In fact, while the ChCh report [PDF] mentions that stoned drivers are less safe than sober ones, it makes no such comparison with alcohol-impaired driving.

    I don't know Bob. Where are you getting these weird ideas from? And how long has it been happening? Time to adjust your meds, perhaps?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1428 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There was a commenter here called Shulgin, who I think I banned after he got obsessive about that and other issues

    I remember him. He was a tad rabid, yes.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2931 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to nzlemming,

    I remember him. He was a tad rabid, yes.

    Medical Marijuana may have been just the key for Shulgin. I thought at the time a joint could have done him wonders.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    The SST has further revelations on Les Maxwell's now discredited 2007 New Cannabis report. Documents released under the OIA show that Ministry of Health officials warned at the time that the report would harm the reputation of NZ’s National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB) and asked for all copies to be recalled.

    Matthew Andrews, acting team leader of the ministry's National Drug Policy said the paper's sources were one-sided and "not particularly authoritative".

    He said the overall theme of "new cannabis" being more potent was inappropriate as it was a contentious issue not backed by evidence in the report.

    Andrews said parts of the assessment were inaccurate, it inappropriately criticised other countries' drug policies and could be "perceived as having an agenda".

    It also had the potential to "negatively affect the reputation of the NDIB for producing high quality intelligence assessments".

    For reasons known only to himself, the NDIB's acting head at the time, DS Stuart Mills, refused to withdraw the report.

    He added: "It also supports decision-making at an operational and tactical level".

    That contradicts a statement provided to Fairfax last week from current NDIB head John O'Keeffe​, who said the paper was "never intended to be an operational document to inform drug enforcement operations".

    While the Police were well aware that the report was deeply flawed and exaggerated "social harm" and hospital admissions by a factor of at least ten, Police at a senior level chose to stick with a dishonest document because the lies it contained suited their "war on drugs".

    This was shameful behaviour from our Police force.

    New Zealand deserves better.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1428 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Alfie,

    For reasons known only to himself, the NDIB's acting head at the time, DS Stuart Mills, refused to withdraw the report.

    Detective Sergeant Stuart Mills, acting head of the NDIB at the time, wrote back saying while there could have been better consultation and peer review, the report would not be withdrawn as to do so would "impact on the bureau's reputation".

    It seems that Mills's first priority was to "protect his brand".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4592 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Here's a sadly misinformed piece of nonsense on the cannabis debate from John Key's personal biographer, John Roughan.

    With a subtitle of 'Health approach' for cannabis reform did not work the last time, Roughan makes the fundamental error of confusing a natural plant with the chemical cocktails found in synthetics. His ignorance might be partly explained by this statement.

    Growing up in the era of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll I developed an interest in only two of them. Drugs I could never understand. Why would anyone want to mess with their brain?

    [ Cue some swirling sixties psychedelic graphics... ]

    Having an open and enquiring mind obviously isn't for everyone, John. But chilling out and laughing are good for the soul and creative people enjoy extending the human experience. It's as simple as that.

    Now alcohol... well that's a different story.

    Drinking is pleasant in itself. When the minds starts to spin from alcohol, the pleasure is over. Drugs that do nothing for you up to that point have no redeeming social benefit to my mind.

    While Roughan may have led a relatively sheltered life, he makes the mistake of assuming that the effects of drugs only cut in at a point equivalent to alcohol poisoning. That everyone who indulges in a few tokes immediately turns into a drug-addled maniac and that all recreational smokers are chasing the sort of overdosed nirvana he may have seen in Trainspotting.

    That unenlightened, entrenched attitude belongs firmly in the Reefer Madness camp of the 1930s. Thankfully most people's understanding of drugs has advanced considerably since then.

    Roughan genuinely seems to believe that NZ has tried cannabis decriminalisation and that the experiment failed. A lack of research tells him that synthetics have completely disappeared from the local market, thus proving, in his own mind at least, that prohibition actually works.

    He just doesn't get it, does he.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1428 posts Report Reply

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