Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cannabis reform is a serious matter – so be serious about it

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  • Simon Armstrong,

    Found a rant I posted on facebook in August 2017 and it brought back all the anger over damage done to my whanau. I think legalisation of recreational drug usage in New Zealand after the debacle of legal highs is being a bit optimistic (in which mainstream New Zealanders don't appreciate the obvious differences with new proposal).

    Peter Dunne is not sorry baby Isaiah Neil died in a car while caregivers smoked themselves into oblivion on drugs he made available in dairies across the land.
    Peter Dunne does not regret knee capping the local marijuana industry so that his own son could profit from legalising a toxic gateway drug that led to the P epidemic in his country.
    Peter Dunne will not apologise to the parents of teenagers that suffered most during the worst period of mental health our nation has weathered.
    Peter Dunne can retire happy knowing his contributions to the poor and downtrodden allowed him to celebrate the privilege and power with the smug content that he be accustomed without remorse.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    The problem with the state option is that it forces us to trust bureaucrats to get it right. Since when has that ever worked??

    Only the health system, the education system, most of government and almost any big institution. Its dead simple to slag "government bureaucrats". But maybe too simple?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    the health system, the education system,

    Off the top of my head those were basically set up by a Labour govt in the 1930's, last century. And a claw back of those reforms basically got underway from the 1970-80's. Under different policy settings oddly enough started by a Labour govt and continued by succeeding Nat/Lab govts. So maybe its the policy settings we should put under constant scrutiny not the people. Sometimes it hard to separate them tho' and at times some are so wedded to their beliefs they wont give them up. Funny that.
    I can only guess, but perhaps searching their conscience is something some are not very good at. Or shift the fields of reference and justification is right there to be used to condone actions that were previously unthinkable. We can be such fickle creatures. It does take deep serious thought to run large groupings of people such as nations and we need time off to just relax. I like the Spanish word for that Tranquillo

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Neil,

    Those social reasons are themselves based on dopamine release and are follwed by a depletion period where peolpe are less pro-social. It’s the dopamine release people after and the downside comes on Tuesday.

    That's one theory, based on the idea that dopamine chasing is 100% of human motivation. Which is bunk, IMHO. It oversimplifies why people do things, and possibly conflates cause and effect too.

    Yes, there is a dopamine response to doing a number of things, many of which do not even involve putting chemicals into your body. You can get it from watching a movie, or talking to friends. Do you talk to your friends just for the dopamine? Or do you do it because you like it, and that's why the dopamine releases, because you anticipate the reward of something enjoyable.

    Cannabis probably works directly on the dopamine, via an indirect pathway, and the brain compensates by slowing its own production down if the cannabis use is continual. In other words it balances out and stops being much of a motivator, other than that you do want more cannabis to get back to balance. This depression of your natural production is pretty much temporary - addicted users who stop basically return to normal balance after some time.

    But is that imbalance the only reason the user is addicted? I don't think it's the whole reason - they may use, say, daily, because they like being high, and the removal of a dopamine low is something of a bonus side effect, psychologically.

    You might say that "liking being high" and "being addicted to a dopamine uptick from that drug" are the same thing, but I think that is not true. Being high on cannabis is being in a state that is not just "feeling good because dopamine is in balance", it's also got it's own quite signature effect on your consciousness, which some people for whatever reason just really like.

    I think it can be enjoyable in different ways for different people for different reasons. In my own case, the times I've had it, I've enjoyed that it slows my brain down (which ordinarily goes way too fast) and makes unusual connections that I would not ordinarily have. It can sometimes be "inspirational" in that way, particularly if I've been working on a problem for a while and hit a wall. It is rarely useful like that, but it certainly has occasionally happened.

    At other times, the temporary disruption of short term memory (which is clearly strongly adversely affected by cannabis when you are actually high) leads to a peculiar state of experiencing only the moment, because you can't really hold onto the moments before. This is a very, very enjoyable state to be in when engaging in an activity that requires concentration without memory - like playing an intense video or sports game, or listening to (or playing) music, or just watching a film or even just watching a view.

    I do, of course, still enjoy listening to music, or watching films, or playing sports, without it. Almost all of the time. Like Danyl, my interest in it decayed as I got older - although I would not say that had jack shit to do with the joyless state of dopamine reduction that he was talking about. Unless he was a very heavy user I would be surprised if it affected him either.

    I can be honest that my decay in interest is IMHO a function of the transition into middle age, with the increase in the burdens of responsibility and the decay in general health simply leaving no time for it. When you have to look after children, and hold down your job, and do quite a lot of complicated things in your non-work time too, and you are driving a car a lot, often with many people in it, you just can't afford to be high. It's dangerous and inappropriate, so you don't. In the precious moments of release from responsibility that you do get, a drug that will probably have the side effect of lethargic hangover is not something I felt like having.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I take the point. Somewhat. Glass half-empty situation. With governance in question all over western civilisation, anyone who speaks up on behalf of bureaucracy is such a threatened species that an attitude of compassion kicks in.

    Professional competence probably does exist, but likely is only detectable on a chance basis. Group-think probably isn't as dire as within Labour, but still an operational handicap. I've interacted with some public servants who seem to be genuinely motivated to provide public service (they also seem elderly).

    If they formed a lobby group entitled Bureaucrats for Legalisation we could start to see them as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. But I imagine you'd be quick to declare that public servants cannot be allowed to take an ethical stance in public, because the law doesn't allow them the same civil rights as other citizens. If so, could be another case of leftists trying to get away with discrimination, and defending the establishment in consequence. Seen that shit since the sixties...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    it’s also got it’s own quite signature effect on your consciousness, which some people for whatever reason just really like.

    And there are many, many reasons

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    That's great news, especially the now un-suppressed other non-convictions. But it does rather reinforce the point that the legal system uses discretion to keep nice middle class white people safe from the howling mob of Laura Norder crusaders. And that's why we need reform.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

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