Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Walk the Line

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  • Russell Brown,

    I love how middle-class people talk about erosion of civil rights whenever the Government restricts any of their pleasures, but talk about necessary public health measures whenever the simple pleasures of the poor (fags, booze, fatty foods) are restricted.

    Oh, tosh, Paul. You can't be arrested and charged for eating a Big Mac, and the "restrictions" on the other two are no more than would be appropriate for any similar recreational drugs (selling party pills in dairies is stupid).

    And I think the "simple pleasures of the poor" in New Zealand certainly include such illicit drugs as marijuana - and that those hit hardest by the justice system in such cases tend to be poor and brown.

    The reason why behavioural tests for drugs are being introduced is that there are no roadside equivalents of alcohol tests at present. The reason why tests are needed is that there are too many stoners on the road. Being stoned makes them a danger to other road users.

    No debate there (although the official figures seem to suggest that that alcohol accounts for the overwhelming majority of drug-related road accidents, much is it is by far the most commonly problematic drug of abuse). It's just that the proposed methods are open to abuse and, in the case of the time-perception test, little more than junk science.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Tom: something to keep in mind: BZP is illegal in most (I think all?) other countries. eg dont take it on that holiday to OZ, US, UK et al.

    Illegal in the US and several Australian states, and not that many other places, I think. Mr Bowden has done quite well producing BZP for export.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    nic - I didn't say I thought any the less of Matt Bowden, I admire a man who can combine doing the good work of the Lord and make money out of it,hell if he was a beer baron he'd be in charge of an SOE by now. And unlike most beer barons Mr. Bowden is a jolly good chap to have a drink with as well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1776 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm certainly not pushing for a ban, just saying that party pills are just as/more dangerous than E. And the 'no reported fatalities' line might be true, but it masks all the harm happening underneath.

    I don't particularly disagree. Was it Switzerland that decided E wasn't bad enough to ban? (Although I've seen Bowden's documentation, where he makes what seems to be a reasonably sound medical case for the relative safety of methylone vs. E.)

    On the other hand, I personally know several people who've gone badly troppo on P. Funny thing about that is that you almost never heard about that until people started smoking methamphetamine - that's when the nastiness really started.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And unlike most beer barons Mr. Bowden is a jolly good chap to have a drink with as well.

    Yep, if it came down to Matt Bowden or Doug Myers, I know who I'd pick ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Illegal in the US and several Australian states, and not that many other places, I think. Mr Bowden has done quite well producing BZP for export.

    legal here in Indonesia and you know how they treat drugs. You could import a boogie board bag full of party pills without any problem.

    I think, but could be wrong, even Singapore, the island where you can only enjoy yourself if you have a permit, hasn't banned them.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Hutchings,

    The reason why behavoural tests for drugs are being introduced is that there are no roadside equivalents of alcohol tests at present. The reason why tests are needed is that there are too many stoners on the road. Being stoned makes them a danger to other road users.

    Yes but are these the right sort of tests?

    A study by the British Medical Association of similar testing in the UK this year BMA study Showed that while their Field Impairment testing was good for yeilding True-positives, was very poor at getting accurate false-negtive results

    "However, of those judged not to be impaired by the police
    officer, only 29% were found to be drug free"

    "Hence based on this study, 64% of drivers who are drug positive would be detected at the roadside. Of all drug negative cases, the majority were identified at the roadside (74%, n ΒΌ 40). Hence based on this study, approximately three-quarters of those who are drug free would be identified at the roadside."

    Although interestingly
    "Benzodiazepines were the most frequently encountered drug group. Opioids were the second most frequently detected drug group"

    Also Pupillary dilation was also not seen as a great test.

    Hey maybe we need a modified Voight-Kampff test :)

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The BMA study indicates that these methods are soundly based and even the 30 sec test can hardly be called junk science. The reults for this test were -

    True postive 47
    False postive 7
    True negative 8
    False negative 38

    It scored the lowest for accuracy but it does pick up drug use reasnonably well, it just underestimates this - which seems to be the case for FIT overall. But presumable any method should err that way.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    correction - second to lowest.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Lea,

    NHTSA Methamphetamine performance effects

    "Doses of 10-30 mg methamphetamine have shown to improve reaction time, relief fatigue, improve cognitive function testing, increase subjective feelings of alertness, increase time estimation, and increase euphoria"

    hmm, does that mean you should have some P before trying the tests?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I'm still a bit sceptical about the badness of BZP. According to the lit review I have in front of me, there is a grand total of ONE recorded death in the entire world. And that person also took MDMA the same night, and is assume to have caused the cerebral oedema by drinking too much water.
    As yet the biggest study of adverse effects of BZP (from the Christchurch ED for part of 2005) had 80 cases (from only 61 people; ie 19 went too far twice); and 65 of those 80 cases also involved alcohol/cannabis/nitrous/MDMA/ritalin/LSD. The number of pills taken ranged from between 1 and 25, with a mean of 4.5.
    And there is a case study of 1 case of psychosis following BZP ingestion.

    There is also quite an amount of research still underway, but it doesn't seem like BZP is the bogeyman.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, tosh, Paul. You can't be arrested and charged for eating a Big Mac...

    Sure you can, Russell, if your fine dining experience constituted (broadly speaking) dangerous or careless use of a motor vehicle resulting in death or injury. (Try saying that ten time while walking a chalk line with your eyes closed!) In the end, I think this is yet another case where the press release should be biffed in the round file and the resultant legislation examined very, very carefully.

    And just to throw something else in the pot, I wonder how many 'drug-related' road crashes are the result of people taking perfectly legal medication and being too thoroughly fuck-tarded to read the recommended dosage and/or side effect warnings on the bottle? it would be nice if you could legislate against human stupidity, but nobody's managed it yet...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11864 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I should add as a caveat to my previous post that the first author (Paul Gee) of the Christchurch ED study does think that BZP should be banned. I think the range of things taken with BZP, combined with 19 people overdoing it twice suggests that there are people who will just find something else to do....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Does this person know something we don't?

    Press release from CANDOR (anti drug drive group): PARTY PILLS HELPING TO REDUCE ROAD TOLL - SURVEY http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n1501/a08.html?288711

    So how would that fit with the new drug impairment test and possible rescheduling of party pills?

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 90 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm still a bit sceptical about the badness of BZP. According to the lit review I have in front of me, there is a grand total of ONE recorded death in the entire world.

    I was told (by a party pill manufacturer) that people in New Zealand have unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide on BZP. It seems quite hard to do - although, of course, there's no telling what the result might be without access to emergency care for overdoses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Matthews,

    The program logged your error rate and blew the whistle if your perception, reaction times or accuracy were impaired, whether it was from alcohol, wacky baccy, various other uppers and/or downers or even just fatigue. All of which should keep you off the road.

    This is exactly it, what you have taken shouldn't come into it at all. If you are not fit to drive you're not fit to drive. Some people are never fit to drive at the best of times. Other people don't get enough sleep, or whatever.

    Christchurch, New Zealand… • Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Clark,

    Aaaawww, maaaannnn! After a heavy couple of sessions on my drug of choice this morning I just managed to comprehensively fail the 30 second test by 10 seconds. Quick, call the police! My caffeine crash is kicking in and I could use the excuse of an afternoon in detox to snooze...

    Cambridge, England • Since Dec 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • R Smith,

    Does this person know something we don't?

    Press release from CANDOR (anti drug drive group): PARTY PILLS HELPING TO REDUCE ROAD TOLL - SURVEY http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n1501/a08.html?288711

    So how would that fit with the new drug impairment test and possible rescheduling of party pills?

    CANDOR are far more concerned about people nodding out on the road after taking their legal methadone dose than anybody taking a party pill to keep them going on a long drive. It's all about the drowsiness.

    Their spokeswoman was actually misquoted on National Radio recently where she said they were worried about people driving after taking benzodiazepine sleeping pills, and the interviewer assumed she was speaking about BZP (Benzylpiperazine). Suppose it's a fairly easy mistake to make, although it is a pretty siginificant difference...

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise,

    Russell: "Illegal in the US and several Australian states, and not that many other places, I think. Mr Bowden has done quite well producing BZP for export."

    oops, my bad. I mis-recalled from here:

    http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/bzp/bzp_law.shtml

    BTW, I assume at least some people know that a ban on Piperazines (and analogs) would be, um, interesting, given that Viagra is a Piperazine.....

    http://www.erowid.org/pharms/sildenafil/sildenafil.shtml

    I guess the bottom line for me is, if it's banned, I'm not that fussed, and if a roadside test - which is accurate and relevant - is used (I'm not holding my breath on that one), I dont see a problem with it. Driving while messed up on anything is not a good idea - legal or otherwise.

    Now, time from a trip to my Dealer. oops, make that Barista.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The high false negative rate is encouraging. Now all I need to do is look square and I'll get away with anything. Business as usual.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Lea,

    doing those tests while under the influence of Viagra could cause some of those balance problems, though counting to 30secs might be easier :)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I guess the bottom line for me is, if it's banned, I'm not that fussed, and if a roadside test - which is accurate and relevant - is used (I'm not holding my breath on that one), I dont see a problem with it. Driving while messed up on anything is not a good idea - legal or otherwise.

    Yeah, I agree. My concerns about abuse notwithstanding, I don't want to share the road with munted people either.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • paddy free,

    I'm reminded of two choice quotes from David Lange in the 1990's NZ doco "The Green Green Grass of Home":

    "I think more people in New Zealand have been killed by butter than by marijuana."

    And:

    "Why on earth do we ban a drug that makes people drive SLOW?"

    piha • Since Dec 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

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