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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  • BenWilson,

    Very good blog to kick off the debate with. Thanks, Russell. I hope we have a place here where sensible debate on this will happen over the next few years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    He targets – to the point, I think, where an editor might have had a word – two people: former National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman and New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

    I'm surprised a *lawyer* did not have a word. Sellman is already paving that road against the #dirtypolitics crew. This topic is too important to be derailed by amplified smears by lazy hacks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19685 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    I'm surprised a *lawyer* did not have a word.

    Yeah, quite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I hope we have a place here where sensible debate on this will happen over the next few years.

    That's the plan. I actually found the response to last month's the-year-that-was post very motivating.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Cubey,

    Here’s Janet Wilson channeling her Inner Karl and seemingly happy to present as an uninformed and patronising numpty on RNZ’s The Panel today. No idea why she gets a forum.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Mark Cubey,

    Spooky – i was thinking about you, and things Wellington, this very morning Mr C. – and here you are.
    Ian clambers up on to soap-box…
    I heard the final bit of this in the car last evening and I too was incensed at Janet Wilson’s derogatory dog-whistling dismissal of Green Party policies – “crazy far left madness” – none of which she could actually articulate – luckily one of the other panellists, David Cormack, had worked on policy for the Greens and took her to task on this.
    She has morphed from the caring, bright thing I remember back at South Intermediate School, Chchch in the late 1960s into a lazy Michelle Boag clone, maybe it’s daily exposure to Bill Ralston?
    I can but assume she is doing what many other PR folk on The Panel do which is double dip, as I assume there is some modest payment for their appearance in this ‘bully pulpit’, and they also get to push out their clients’ barrows of often dubious wares.

    I have to say Wallace Chapman pretty much lets them get away with this as well – and I am constantly surprised by the things he doesn’t seem to know.
    But he shouldn’t allow people to just plain conflate or make stuff up like synthetic smoking drugs are “classified as Marijuana’ – next we’ll be told ‘you can’t vote for the Maori Party if you aren’t on the Maori Roll’

    I also took The Press to task on their ‘columnist*’ Mike Yardley’s diatribe yesterday pro-Trump and his Wall:

    OPINION: It’s a monumental construction. Across the hill from my house in Christchurch, a neighbour who is fed up with the scourge of burglaries is splashing megabucks building the kind of formidable perimeter wall that would set Donald Trump aglow.
    It’s reminiscent of the grand-scale walled constructions Hollywood celebrities have a propensity to deploy, whether it be fortress walls to safeguard their Beverly Hills mansions, or the gold-plated refuge of gated communities in Bel Air and Malibu.
    The irony couldn’t be more majestic, given the loud-mouth Hollywood luvvies are particularly strident in their foam-flecking condemnation of Trump’s grand designs for a US-Mexico border wall.
    …..
    Over the years, every leading Democrat, from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama has talked the talk on expanding the wall system. A decade ago, Senate Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, authorised building about 700 miles of fencing along the southwest border. But it never happened.

    Apparently (according to the editor) Stuff do not have the resources to ‘fact-check’ their columnists, they check local -related assertions and that’s it - so Yardley is free to ignore the fact that the bipartisan Secure Fence Act 2006 was not only passsed, but implemented/built by 2015!! – according to the US Government Accountability Office.
    Plus he ignores the fact that conservative Republicans stopped Schumer’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 - the bill would increase the number of CBP officers by 3,500 people by 2017, authorize the National Guard to participate in missions related to border security, fund additional surveillance and surveillance technology, and provide funding to build a border fence.
    Don’t start me on his closing statement either –

    The fact that so many socialist economies of Central America are corrupt,

    (cough) Iran-Contra scandal in Nicaragua. the other 9/11 in Chile 1973, etc, ad nauseam.
    *Perhaps he is a ‘fifth columnist’?

    I’ll be pushing for a retraction and apology from Yardley.

    Sorry for the thread-jack.
    As you were…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The growing adoption (everyone from the screamingly loony Stephen Franks to the insecure Simon Bridges) by right wing radicals (I won't call them conservatives, the real conservatives these days are the centrists who run Labour) in NZ of Breitbart style talking points Trumpian culture war rhetoric shows how the US environment of a toxic right wing media that brainwashes it's audience has consequences beyond the borders of the USA itself.

    The danger these people pose to social order is ominous.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Marshall Project has brought together a number of the protagonists in the current US wrangle to debate by email.

    Berenson doubles down on some pretty dodgy racial stuff. Ick.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mark Cubey,

    Here’s Janet Wilson channeling her Inner Karl and seemingly happy to present as an uninformed and patronising numpty on RNZ’s The Panel today. No idea why she gets a forum.

    She doesn't really have a point there, does she? But she's certainly very determined to make it.

    The part where she insists that synthetics are "classed the same" as natural cannabis is just weird.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Du Fresne's been a pain in the arse for years insofar as the abortion debate goes, given how rabidly anti-abortion he is. And yet he denies any residual Catholic leanings.Anyhow, apart from that, one thing that unifies du Fresne and Stephen Franks is that they're both social conservative apparatchiks (one ex-ACT voting fiscal conservative friend told me the reason she stopped voting for that party were the shrill social conservative histrionics from him and Muriel Newman while they were still in Parliament). The thing to remember is that both of these fellows imbibe rhetoric from the same populist anti-science fringe media sources, which, fortunately, are not at all strong in New Zealand,,, and we can use our own media contacts to deconstruct their prohibitionist populist drivel.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The thing I find disappointing about marijuana prohibition is that it means there is almost no quality research done on either social effects or medical effects.

    That leaves us with anecdote dominating the discussions.

    We really know relatively little about how cannabinoids in marijuana affect the body and brain. What is clear is that the cannabinoids we make ourselves play an important role in brain development. But given their importance in brain development and the prevalence of marijuana use you would expect much more research on the subject. But making it illegal has crippled research in the area. This is a good if slightly long read.

    As for the nonsense being spouted about the potential harms of decriminalisation or [sharp intake of breath] legalisation ... wittering is such a good word.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    It's yet another re-run with familiar lines ...

    People who take time to read, study, consider: "Ivory tower academics", "out of touch elites".

    People who don't bother: "Free speech, so there!'

    Media: "We provide balance: cite evidence on one side = got reckons on the other!"

    It's going to be a long 2 years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    reasons against -

    * we should be focused on our country being smokefree 2025 first and foremost
    * government never apologized to health department and parents for synthetics debacle
    * adding recreational pot to binge drinking culture does not make our roads safer

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    we should be focused on our country being smokefree 2025 first and foremost

    We can do two things at the same time.

    government never apologized to health department and parents for synthetics debacle

    Synthetics were being sold in dairies before the Psychoactive Substances Act, which radically reduced the number of outlets (from as many as 4,000 to fewer than 170). And the Ministry of Health was complicit in its failure – it didn't manage to get all regulations in place until about two years after the Act was nobbled. And, of course, it was after the products were banned that things got really bad and people started dying.

    * adding recreational pot to binge drinking culture does not make our roads safer

    Which would be to assume that this doesn't already happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We can do two things at the same time.

    Yes, or we could fail to go SmokeFree by 2025 and still change our cannabis laws. I can't really see what the connection is.

    government never apologized to health department and parents for synthetics debacle

    That government is gone, so this can never happen. Not that it actually should be any kind of blocker that a government fails to apologize before fixing something.

    adding recreational pot to binge drinking culture does not make our roads safer

    Pretty sure that horse bolted long ago. But this is, at least, one of the more serious questions. I don't think there's any need to reinvent the wheel on this, when there are plenty of stoned driving statistics out there, both before and after decriminalization. They're probably not perfect, but they're better than simple assertions that our roads will become less safe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Re "under placebo-controlled conditions, #cannabidiol (#CBD) improves outcomes in patients with schizophrenia when given as an adjunct med, showing that cannabinoids (not necessarily cannabis) improve symptoms."

    A pointer that intelligent tech design is the way forward for accurate medication, for those who need that. Self medicating with herb can be seen as a blunt instrument comparatively, but folks must retain freedom of choice. So it will get down to the interplay between GP advice & user habit, I guess.

    THC is "one of 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_(drug)

    I went looking for any advance on what the other psychoactive components do that's different from THC. Found nothing except this: "CBD is a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, which may also contribute to an anxiolytic effect. This likely means the high concentrations of CBD found in Cannabis indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC significantly. The cannabis industry claims that sativa strains provide a more stimulating psychoactive high while indica strains are more sedating with a body high."

    "In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65)." "The countries with the highest use among adults as of 2018 are Zambia, the United States, Canada, and Nigeria. In 2016, 51% of people in the United States had ever used cannabis. About 12% had used it in the past year, and 7.3% had used it in the past month." "In September 2018, cannabis was legalized in South Africa while Canada legalized recreational use of cannabis in October 2018."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    They’re probably not perfect, but they’re better than simple assertions that our roads will become less safe.

    Even if were proved to make the roads quantifiably less safe this would not necessarily be a knock down argument against a law change. It would be grist to the mill, a thing to weigh up, depending what that quantity is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I've wondered here several times where an organised "no" campaign in next year's cannabis referendum might come from. Outside of Family First, it's still hard to tell where the opposition emerges. But I think what we are starting to hear is the sound of two hands wringing.

    Latent racism and booze/tobacco monopolies have had a lot to do with it. Right back to William Randolph Hearst's "marijuana panic" to sell newspapers, to the modern prison-industrial complex.

    I also took The Press to task on their ‘columnist*’ Mike Yardley’s diatribe yesterday pro-Trump and his Wall:

    Mike Yardley sadly represents many of the worst stereotypes of the "one-eyed Cantab" that I encountered at private school during my later teen years.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    We can do two things at the same time.

    I wonder how is that going to work. What is the plan for the legality of tobacco in future?

    As someone who has smoked more than my fair share of tobacco and pot I personally consider them both highly addictive and extremely bad for my health and struggled with both. I doubt I would ever vote No as am a firm believer in "each to their own" but would be surprised if the concept of a smoke free New Zealand would not include pot for many and hence in reference to topic at hand be a considerable opponent to liberalizing recreational pot.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    What is the plan for the legality of tobacco in future?

    Plain packaging.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4310 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    but would be surprised if the concept of a smoke free New Zealand would not include pot for many and hence in reference to topic at hand be a considerable opponent to liberalizing recreational pot.

    The evidence seems to be that while inhaling smoke is clearly bad for your lungs, cannabis smoke does not cause lung cancer (the key seems to be the absence of the radioactive tars present in tobacco smoke). But smoking isn’t the only way of using cannabis.

    I don’t think cannabis is addictive in the way tobacco is, but there is is an established diagnosis of cannabis dependence. The evidence of the Auckland School of Medicine surveys is that a majority of New Zealanders use cannabis at some point, and most of them stop using it because they don’t like it any more – it was striking how far legal peril came down the list of reasons for stopping.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden, in reply to Russell Brown,

    ... it was striking how far legal peril came down the list of reasons for stopping.

    That's precisely what we found as well with the Christchurch Health and Development Study data. Being arrested or convicted of a cannabis-related offence had no effect on subsequent involvement with cannabis.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12681525

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    most of them stop using it because they don’t like it any more

    This happened with me and computer games, although I do know people still caught in that vice, even at my extreme age.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Boden,

    I love a comment backed with a dedicated reference. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19685 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    There's an editorial in the NZ Medical Journal today, and it's not very good. So some questions for the researcher who wrote it (who also comments on Public Address):

    1. Where, in the last few years, have we heard drug law reform advocates arguing that we need to legalise cannabis because it's safe?*

    2. With the half-measure of decriminalisation, are you really happy that the supply of cannabis remains in the criminal black market? If not, you editorial doesn't address the supply issue.

    3. You do realise that New Zealand could design a model of cannabis regulation very different from the more commercial models in some US states, and that we can learn from NZ's own mistakes on alcohol regulation?

    [* You certainly won't hear that argument from the Drug Foundation - indeed we often reference the Christchurch study, and had the great David Fergusson speak often at our events]

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

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