Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: But seriously, drug policy

52 Responses

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  • william blake, in reply to Mark Graham,

    Mark how does one "bong up" or whatever the kids call it these days, without either behaving like someone with a head injury or getting the FEAR, and hiding in the wardrobe?

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Attachment

    With the acknowledgement that this does not imply causation nor is it even slightly fact-checked. I'm assuming that the students wouldn't lie cos they have to use proper data, right?

    Denver: population 630,000ish
    Auckland: population 1,400,00ish

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Rob W, in reply to Kay,

    Thanks Kay, but you are muddling the water here. There is some interesting data that pharmaceutical cannabinoid extracts can help control (what is a tiny number of) kids with severe intractable epilepsy, but that's a pretty unusual scenario. AFAIK there are no decent trials that show the medical benefits of smoking cannabis exceed the harms, but I'd love to be corrected.

    And I have already stated I don't think it should be criminalised.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matt Crawford,

    Though, isn’t it amazing that all that public outrage, drama and energy at the start of the year has melted away to absolutely nothing just months later.

    Well, they got what they wanted, so it's not that surprising.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob W,

    AFAIK there are no decent trials that show the medical benefits of smoking cannabis exceed the harms, but I’d love to be corrected.

    How does that work, btw? Considering that the harms is cancer and the benefit is pain relief, how do they trade one off against the other in a medical trial? Is there a magic formula for acceptable change in pain levels vs acceptable lung cancer increase levels? How is such an acceptable formula derived in a lab? Surely it's a moral choice?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob W,

    Thanks Kay, but you are muddling the water here. There is some interesting data that pharmaceutical cannabinoid extracts can help control (what is a tiny number of) kids with severe intractable epilepsy, but that’s a pretty unusual scenario. AFAIK there are no decent trials that show the medical benefits of smoking cannabis exceed the harms, but I’d love to be corrected.

    I agree and disagree with you, Rob. I agree that medical marijuana is not what it's claimed to be -- there's a lot of bullshit talked. But the chronic pain thing is worth considering. If one person perceives a subjective benefit -- feels better and can do more -- that's a result. If they stop relying on something like Tramadol, there's potentially quite a benefit. It seems worth letting them have a crack.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Is there a magic formula for acceptable change in pain levels vs acceptable lung cancer increase levels?

    Fwiw, the evidence on marijuana smoking and lung cancer is more conflicted than it is for tobacco smoking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Starrow, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What an informative, incisive article. Food, or should that be hooch, for thought. Congrats Mr Brown.

    Since Sep 2014 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The study, published in the Lancet, shows daily cannabis users under the age of 17 were 60 per cent less likely to complete high school or attend university and were nearly seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

    I’m curious as to which is the cause and which is effect. Perhaps those with suicidal tendencies try weed on the way to their destination, and find it deficient in resolving their perceived problems. Perhaps the losers in the education lottery turn to pot to soften their harsh reality.

    I stress that I don’t know the answer, but I do wonder if the questions are being asked. The fact that the study is listed in the psychiatry section of the Lancet troubles me a little – if you go hunting for dysfunction, you’ll find it. I’m not hugely in favour of kids having drugs, just as I’m not down with them having grog. I just hope the study is being solidly peer-reviewed because it’s the sort of thing that policy gets based on and it needs to be right. If kids are already failing within the system and are turning to drugs because of that, what needs to be fixed is what’s causing them to fail, not their habit.

    [edit] and I see others share my apprehension. Remember, the Lancet published Wakefield's MMR nonsense as well as much reputable stuff.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to ,

    the Korean Peninsula and New Zealand.

    But these are two very different climates. But, well, whaddaya know? (I'm assuming that Scion, as a CRI, is a touch more respectable and objective than the other top search results in the Google search you suggested)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    I'm currently living in Colorado. In the first year of legalisation, the visible effect on society where I live is.... pretty much zero. You can legally buy and consume in your own house. You can't legally smoke a joint on the street. Society has not succumbed to reefer madness. I'm not sure about the stats quoted above, but the policy seems to have garnered a narrow margin of popular approval. It seems to me a very honest way to proceed, though there are some wrinkles: apparently the banks can't/won't touch money earned by legal (in Colorado) cannabis sales due to Federal legislation around drug trafficking.

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Kiwi, in reply to Rob W,

    While, Cannabis may not be the miracle wonder drug some people claim it to be there are very real benefits from extracts from the cannabis plant. The picture of someone smoking a joint to cure some ailment is an aging stereotype in a day when the Cannabidiol (CBD) portion of the plant can be extracted separately to the THC (psychoactive component) and delivered through a variety of mechanisms from sprays to edibles to vaporizers.

    San Francisco, CA • Since Sep 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fwiw, the evidence on marijuana smoking and lung cancer is more conflicted than it is for tobacco smoking.

    And let's remember that there are numerous ways to consume cannabis -- medicinal or otherwise -- other than smoking it, and which consequently carry far less health risks from that perspective.

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to nzlemming,

    Remember, the Lancet published Wakefield’s MMR nonsense as well as much reputable stuff.

    The Lancet remembers it as well as you do. The controls put in place to prevent a similar embarassment are extensive (and, if you're trying to get a paper published, tiresome, even though you understand why they're there).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Kiwi,

    The picture of someone smoking a joint to cure some ailment is an aging stereotype in a day when the Cannabidiol (CBD) portion of the plant can be extracted separately to the THC (psychoactive component) and delivered through a variety of mechanisms from sprays to edibles to vaporizers

    So right. And if were legal and cheaper these options would be much more preferable. Smoking is a bad way to ingest anything.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to ,

    I just don’t think that dope is the answer to our lack of economic sophistication.

    Yes, we'd have to sell an awful lot before it even raised its head as a significant crop, and there wouldn't be much of an export market in it - anywhere it would be legal to export to would already be growing it. And the global demand isn't likely to be anywhere near as much as even the most basic plant crops. People buy their cannabis by the gram or ounce, not by the kilo. A kilo would keep even a hardcore stoner going for a year. If truly legal and produced by professional farmers, its production cost would be around the order of what it costs to produce lettuce. Maybe a greedy retailer could get away with charging $20 per kilo. As an illegal crop that quantity is worth more like $10,000. Even then stoners mostly have as much weed as they want, and medical users too. Legalization would kill it as a profitable business immediately. I doubt that supply couldn't be matched even by casual home growers keeping a small patch in good sun and well tended. People who wanted it could easily grow it, and they could access the very best strains with great ease. It would probably be found growing wild in large stands, if those stands were not instantly ravaged by humans upon discovery, as they are now. Untidy building sites would probably have them cropping up amongst the belladonna and sorrell.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I guess a reasonable comparison is suggesting that NZ could dominate the world in growing parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Do any countries even import those? Possibly extremely cold climates? I've got an oversupply problem from those just off $10 worth of seeds purchased 10 years ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    I guess a reasonable comparison is suggesting that NZ could dominate the world in growing parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Do any countries even import those?

    Most of the non-gourmet supermarket dried varieties of those four are imported.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    very valid points Ben and Steven, hadn't thought of the bulk and price issues through at all, it was only an afterthought on the medicinal market potentials (for NZ owned patents and products).

    Though a quick google suggests there is at least for now a market for exports used for medicinal reasons: http://hemp.org/news/content/australia-norfolk-island-gives-go-ahead-grow-import-export-medical-marijuana

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Most of the non-gourmet supermarket dried varieties of those four are imported.

    Yeah I guess in something low volume and light, where most of the cost wasn't in the growing but in the harvesting, processing, packaging and shipping, storing and selling, it would hardly matter where it hailed from. Probably people would want their cannabis in the most convenient form eventually - either rolled up like cigarettes, or in bags like loose tobacco, or in powder or liquid form if they're taking it in a more modern way like a vaporizer, or in a pill. I'd think a pill the safest and most convenient way if pain relief is the whole point, with maybe a backup inhaler for sudden bouts of pain. If it's to get high, a disposable inhaler is probably still the easiest.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Apart from an odd section promising to lean on Pharmac to ”take a lead role in seeking to reduce the inappropriate prescribing of drugs such as anti-depressants” (let’s leave that up to doctors and health researchers)

    A lighthearted rundown of some issues here (links within):

    In 1997, GlaxoSmithKline did something similar when they released the well-known antidepressant Wellbutrin as a pill that helps you quit smoking, but only after rebranding it as Zyban.

    The Sept 2014 Pharmac Schedule (PDF) shows Zyban is being subsidised to the tune of $4.95 (manufacturer’s price). Regardless of the merits of Zyban specifically, there’s a case to be made for heightened vigilance in the current market:

    GSK is under investigation by Chinese authorities over Rmb3bn (£320m) in potential bribes to individuals at every level of the healthcare system,

    etc

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • S-L,

    Why has drugs become so strongly about politics..
    In the end people are still going to take cannibis regardless of if it's legal or not.
    Reducing anti-depressants is not worth a fight either, it's up to the individual who thinks they need it and the doctors who are in charge of prescribing it to say yes or no. Drugs is an addiction and, to some, a way of coping or just to try it out. If there was a way to reduce the intake it's too late because it's in pop culture and has already been introduced to this generation.
    They should be preventing the next generation to be aware of the drugs in existence and change the way people think about taking it.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to S-L,

    They should be preventing the next generation to be aware of the drugs in existence and change the way people think about taking it.

    I believe you need the opposite. You need the younger generation to be aware of drugs, and be aware of the potential problems with them. Withholding information is not the answer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • S-L, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    With there being the potential problems is the potential benefits. I mean it's not like people aren't aware of the problems, its like smoking, there are images of the potential problems on the packet but people still smoke.
    In saying that, everything that happens is really about curiosity, drugs have a double standard of being good for you and bad for you.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to Dean Wallis,

    Agreed.

    It's not like coming from a dysfunctional family isn't having more effect.
    And many dysfunctional families are as a result of problems which have political solutions.
    So maybe there's a political solution to consider?

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

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