Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: But seriously, drug policy

60 Responses

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  • UglyTruth,

    Promoting medicinal use of cannabis would be the most likely approach to succeed IMO.

    "Recognizing that the medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that adequate provision must be made to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes" SINGLE CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS, 1961

    http://www.theweedblog.com/marijuana-is-a-common-effective-remedy-to-ease-back-pain/

    A recent research project at the University of Colorado’s Spine Center looked at 200 patients suffering from degenerative disc problems and other back pains. Of the participants that consumed marijuana, 89% said “it greatly or moderately relieved their pain, and 81% said it worked as well as or better than narcotic painkillers.” Participants in the study that consumed marijuana used it “no more than one or two times a day”.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Kay, in reply to Rob W,

    I must beg to differ Rob. There are too many people suffering from chronic pain (not necessarily terminal), as well as neurological conditions who have NOT been able to find relief through prescription medications and get relief from cannabis. As a medical doctor you really should know that they are not going to work for everyone all the time. And if you’ve been following recent stories about the young children with very severe epilepsy who are have very real, beneficial effects from cannabis extract. Hell, there’s been clinical trials done that PROVE the effectiveness in the treatment for a number of chronic conditions. Besides, if it didn’t help people they wouldn’t use it, right?

    There is no moral justification to crimialise people who just want to alleviate their suffering when it is perfectly easy to get medical marijuana legalised. Most of the population have no problem with that- except our politicians. Medical marijuana is not the same as smoking weed so what’s the problem?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • 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 • 378 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 • 10633 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 • 10633 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 • 22754 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 • 22754 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 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Really? How so

    Because the best climates on the planet for growing ginseng are the Korean Peninsula and New Zealand. But not just anywhere in New Zealand. Between Tokaroa and Hamilton is the magic zone.

    This information is only a few clicks away, by typing: Ginseng NZ into your google search. The most interesting of the ginseng operations in New Zealand, is the iwi that has them growing under pine forests.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 109 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

  • steven crawford, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    (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)

    That's true. There has been a bit of over stating going on. I admit I did get my initial enthusiasm, by reading the web sight of a corporate grower.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 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 • 580 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 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to bob daktari,

    If not medicinal then recreational exports… I’m guessing the growing and processing won’t be as destructive as dairy and could be more profitable – we’ll never know if our politicians continue to do their best to ignore the entire discussion

    I agree that the discussion is important. My main pessimism, is that the Californians are already doing it. And I’m sorry, but I no longer believe New Zealand can punch above its weight. We sell our infrastructure to the scrap metal merchants, which show up as export, then, when it’s been melted down and manufactured to a low standard of – for example, train – then we buy it back for many times the price because we want cheap imported goods, and pretend to balance the books. I just don’t think that dope is the answer to our lack of economic sophistication.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 10633 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 • 10633 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 • 4591 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 • 537 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 • 10633 posts Report Reply

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