Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sorting out our thinking on drugs

226 Responses

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    The lion’s share of what’s good about them is hypothetical at this point. I don’t accept that any of those things are even worth having at all, if they lead to no actual good that I can appreciate. Like actually bringing harm down.

    You’re seriously suggesting that regulated manufacturing standards, getting the products out of dairies, monitoring remaining retailers etc won’t reduce harm at all? Even that fact that no new products can be introduced?

    If they can’t do that, they’re a complete waste of time and money, and might even be worse, blocking more useful approaches by appearing to do something that they’re not.

    For goodness, sake, the key element of the act – which will see manufacturers required to formally demonstrate the products are low-risk if they want approval to sell them – isn’t even in place yet. It’s a bit early to be writing it off in favour of something else that we haven’t thought of yet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Nah, it's not the density of the material that needs fixing, it's the speed of release. If you could pop slow release capsules, you could choose how drunk you wanted to be, and for how long, in advance. You could even set them not to kick in until after a desired delay.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You’re seriously suggesting that regulated manufacturing standards, getting the products out of dairies, monitoring remaining retailers etc won’t reduce harm at all?

    I'll wait and see on that one. So far, I've not been impressed.

    It’s a bit early to be writing it off in favour of something else that we haven’t thought of yet.

    The alternative has been thought of. Decriminalize cannabis. Or even better, legalize it. But we have instead to wait and see whether or not more or less kids are going to end up in A&Es, or maybe even dead. I'm really not impressed with the progress we've made as a society, considering the main instigator of the whole ridiculous schemozzle, the USA, has even worked it out.

    It's like saying that taking the wrong turn in a massive maze is progress, because after walking down every stupid blind alley, we'll know that it was the wrong path. Yes, that would be progress. But there's a huge beacon over the right path.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The New South Wales legislature has gone another way, passing a law that bans all psychoactive substances, including those yet unknown...

    But, but ... Peter Dunne says that's impossible :-)

    You know I can't ban your ghost drugs, Graeme.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    The alternative has been thought of. Decriminalize cannabis. Or even better, legalize it.

    We clearly agree on that. But how does that fix the problem of every other novel psychoactive that comes along?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to BenWilson,

    USA law changes are right, as are those laws in the more enlightened states in Australia.

    This witless and unworkable NZ law will fail because there is an endless supply of variants (ie "research drugs") and as one is withdrawn another slightly altered version will surface. They will reappear faster than they can be "tested" by the EACD ..which Committee apparently evaluated Kronic and found JWH-018 which was not on the label. The term "Synthetic Cannabinomimetics" is on the MoH page which advises on the coding of these psychotropic drugs.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We clearly agree on that. But how does that fix the problem of every other novel psychoactive that comes along?

    By outcompeting them. Yes, it's not a solution on the side of users of various kinds of uppers. But for those, the illicit versions are so much more likely to result in social harm, that the cost of the harm of the legal versions strikes me as worth wearing. Well, the formerly legal ones, anyway.

    I find it hard to believe that pretty much resetting our drug situation to prior to the sudden explosion in alternate chemicals is a big improvement. We had massive harm issues then, and we will continue to have them. The focus should be on treating harm, not punishing it, not banning it. The more things that get banned, the more reason there is to take crystal meth instead. That's where I see all this heading.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • debunk,

    @Shulgin
    Excellent post. Kids will die the way things are going and who will prove negligent for this appalling state of affairs. Health and Safety nowhere to be seen. ACC silent. Hospitals complaining. Minister complacent and complicit with son and importing business. Parents frantic. Local Government stymied. NZ Poisons Centre apparently without sufficient test facilities. MoH sitting on sidelines unable to act as they should. ESR a provider or "expert advice" along with the Ministry's National Drug Policy Team. Preliminary assessments (eg Kronic) done by EACD (Expert-Advisory Committee on Drugs "which involved substance identification, current classification, prevalence, and international classification"). Huge financial and social costs ongoing, while the failure plays out ....

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Supply and demand. So long as there is a market the synthetic lab drugs will keep coming and they are very profitable. They will come through the internet sources anyway and the black market is already established. Adopt the Canberra system with modest fines, allowance for a couple of domestic plants and decriminalisation.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to debunk,

    This witless and unworkable NZ law will fail because there is an endless supply of variants (ie “research drugs”) and as one is withdrawn another slightly altered version will surface.

    No, it won't. You don't understand what the Act does.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to debunk,

    Minister complacent and complicit with son and importing business.

    You sure you want to make that accusation? Have you got evidence to back that statement up? If so, care to share it? Cos that's a pretty big claim, not one I'd want to make lightly.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    The more things that get banned, the more reason there is to take crystal meth instead. That’s where I see all this heading.

    I think I finally understand what your argument is: the Act's not too loose, it's too tight.

    You're not alone in thinking that, although you may be in a minority.

    But yeah, that's what the post above is partially about: stop criminalising drug use.

    Interestingly, the PSA is similar in some ways to the regulatory system for legal pot in Colorado, down to local government having a say over retail locations. If we legalised pot, the infrastructure would be there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You’re not alone in thinking that, although you may be in a minority.

    I surely am, if the people who think we're making progress on saner drug laws cite as their evidence all the drugs that are now banned, and all the difficulties making legal ones available. That's our measure of progress, that more things are against the law than ever before. Not measures of the harm it's meant to stop, not to mention the virtually unspeakable idea that reduction of another person's pleasure is a massive harm all by itself. That side of it doesn't even get a look in. What should be the biggest no-brainer of them all, that no one has the right to ban thousands of thousands of things just because they get challenged about whether they could. They need only cite a minor harm, and bang down goes the ban hammer. In the final endgame, they won't even have to do that, the onus will go on the manufacturer to prove no possible harm. The ban hammer will be "is it psychoactive?. Bang".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • debunk,

    @Chris Waugh
    I take my opinion from the other thread. This is a serious medical issue as I see it, and if the aim really is "sorting out our thinking on drugs" we need to be mindful of the evidence. The most useful contribution here is Shulgin who challenges the business to reveal the actual content of product and the risks involved.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to debunk,

    And yet I see nothing in either thread or any of the media coverage I've read to support your "complicit with son and importing business".

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Indeed, 'complicit' is a step too far
    - especially as it is not an illegal industry under the law.

    But Peter Dunne's statement to Sean Plunket to the effect that he will not talk to, or accept submissions, from those in the industry that his son represents, seems needlessly self-limiting, how can he then make a fully informed opinion or judgement...

    Sorry to be constantly belabouring this point
    - but it baffles me that he'd baffle himself!

    He needs to get out of his own way...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Blogged about the issue of drug policy a few months ago...

    Drug policy reform is a more intractable question. Given New Zealand’s difficulty in even organising medicinal cannabis reform, I am pessimistic about its immediate prospects. It may well be advisable in the context of palliative medical needs in the context of HIV/AIDS, and the consequences of cannabis prohibition may be disproportionately severe compared to the effects of that Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981, but the cannabis reform lobby itself is too disorganised.

    Why does a single-issue ideological purist party like the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party even exist? And if the objective is wider drug policy reform, then why hasn’t a lobby and advocacy group emerged to advocate for sensible, sequential and incremental legislative reform, in response to the questionable claims from antidrug populist groups? ACT Leader Jamie Whyte might well be correct about the need for such reforms, but the way to such legislative reform is through evidence-based medical and scientific corroboration, which I am not sure that he appreciates. In any case, substance abusers are difficult to empathise with, compared to shared communal experiences like dealing with chronic or terminal disease and impending mortality. This even applies to pot smokers, given their annoying behaviour when high and the social nuisance factor that would increase due to decriminalisation.

    However, we don’t ban alcohol for that reason, and its consequences are far more severe. This does lead to questions about the scope of drug policy liberalisation and regulation. To me, the Netherlands solution seems to be the most advisable- decriminalisation of small amounts of recreational drugs, except perhaps in the case of Class A drugs such as P/crystal meth, crack cocaine and heroin. Of these three, only P/crystal meth is a serious problem in New Zealand. I accept that there is a continuing case for the interdiction of such drugs, given their greater severity, toxicity and contingent consequences. However, any such campaign should target producers and distributors.

    However, as I’ve noted, such reforms are still probably some time away, given the disorganisation of this particular cause and its lobby groups.

    [National has made a hash of the Psychoactive Substances Act and needs to provide remedial evidence-based research about the harms of synthetic cannabinoids. If there was a genetic test that could predict in advance what potential users could experience adverse outcomes from use, that would be very useful. However, realistically, pharmacogenetic research may not be able to provide that for at least a decade. At present, regulation and zoning of legal high providers may be the best outcome possible.

    One question occurs to me. Are these legal high users also using other drugs? In which case, are we dealing with straightforward reactions to cannabinoids or polydrug abuse in this context?]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 567 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    | John Campbell on Jessie then questions Peter Dunne
    about 8.45 in for PD in Vid.
    I personally think PD's argument is bollocks.

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

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    He needs to get out of his own way…

    Hear , hear!
    In the interview I linked to on C Live he's asked to do a ride along to meet the addicts, His response is. he couldnt say without an off air discussion. Oh , poor dear,
    obsfucation, much?

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

  • debunk,

    So sorry. I am not a lawyer and I took my opinion not from the other thread it seems but probably from "Father & son: Dunne deals?" in The Standard (thestandard.org.nz/father-son-dunne-deals/) and obviously have conflicted thinking on the subject and have made a faulty inference re some connection between father and son. I have a printed file on the subject of Legal Highs since this is a professional interest wrt drug choices, and referred to the wrong page. How silly is that! My apologies to all I have offended.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    As a medicinal drug, Marijuana was perfect for me to overcome my loss of appetite that occurred while on chemotherapy, and the advice was given by medical professionals. I doubt those people would say the same about the legal synthetic cannabis. so Dunne needs to accept expert advice from more than just his select few.imo

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    One question occurs to me. Are these legal high users also using other drugs? In which case, are we dealing with straightforward reactions to cannabinoids or polydrug abuse in this context?

    I'm not sure anyone completely understands what's going on here. As Dunne noted last night, the reported harms were not evident last July when the products associated with severe adverse reactions were banned under the Act and those for which there had not been such reports allowed to remain on sale under interim approval.

    You can't imagine, now, for instance, Duncan Garner having a go on the synthetic weed for the sake of his radio show. It would be like smoking P. But, surely, with more harmful products much more widely available without age restriction, things must have been worse then? Why is there a crisis now?

    It seems pretty clear -- and this is not to diminish the experience of people who are suffering -- that at least part of the explanation is moral panic.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Moral panic spreads to the hospitals! Let's get back to evidence based medicine. I opine that "new" untested drug variants are coming into New Zealand - with unknown physiological effect.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Granted, unfortunately, antidrug populism is a default position in drug policy debates in New Zealand, sadly. However, where does moral panic end in this whole situation and actual adverse reactions to a specific psychoactive neurochemical response begin? Undoubtedly, the latter does occur, but you're right, Russell, it is being blown out of proportion by moral panic mongers. Rather reminds me of the South Auckland street prostitution debate in that respect. Contested space and cultural conflict, classic Stanley Cohen stuff.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 567 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to debunk,

    I opine that “new” untested drug variants are coming into New Zealand – with unknown physiological effect.

    The thing is, no new variants have been permitted for sale since the Act came in. It specifically prevents them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

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