Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Let Canada do our cannabis homework

21 Responses

  • Helga,

    Ontario has a state-run system for selling alcohol - rather like our licensing trust system. I think that these same outlets are also to sell cannabis.

    New Zealand • Since May 2012 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    How about looking at Colorado as an exemplar?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Amendment_64#Implementation

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    How about looking at Colorado as an exemplar?

    Colorado got a few things wrong – allowing over-dosed edibles packaged like kids’ candy was never a good idea – but they’ve continued to pay attention and tweaked regulations as required. Their regulators and legislators seem motivated by evidence rather than scare stories.

    On the other hand, I think California’s provision for the expungement of old convictions is the new benchmark for reform.

    And I like that Canada is addressing the potential problem of Big Cannabis – the task force report covers diversity in the production sector. It’ll be interesting to see how their "micro” licences for craft producers turn out. It’s probably not something you'd see in capitalist America, but it could be a good solution,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Helga,

    Ontario has a state-run system for selling alcohol – rather like our licensing trust system. I think that these same outlets are also to sell cannabis.

    Which sort of makes sense. But there's also a strong case for keeping cannabis sales away from alcohol sales.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    The Canadian system seems pretty chaotic at the moment, mainly because each state can decide its own laws. As Russell points out above, some states intend to allow users to grow their own modest crops, while other states will expressly forbid this. Some states encourage local businesses, while others have created a free-for-all where big money will be allowed to dominate the market, effectively knocking out existing, smaller producers.

    While I welcome the possibility of seeing weed legalised in NZ in my lifetime, I'd hate to see either big tobacco or big pharma control the local industry. You just need to look at what's happening in Oregon to see how that might go.

    As a better starting point for NZ, why not consider the Drug Foundation's draft policy, which appears to be based on a common sense, health-based approach to drugs.

    As I recall the Drug Foundation supports the concept of small-scale growers all over the country, with centralised sales being restricted to a single government website. This would bring jobs to the regions, tax is calculated and collected at the point of sale and no corner dairies get robbed in the process.

    I'm sure we'll be looking closely at the Canadian experience, but hopefully with enough nouse to keep it kiwi wherever possible.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    while others have created a free-for-all where big money will be allowed to dominate the market, effectively knocking out existing, smaller producers.

    As I noted above, it'll be interesting to see how the "micro" licences announced only a week ago turn out. And I get the impression that some of the more controlling regulations noted your link just won't be viable – making everyone deliver to a central warehouse before distribution to stores just seems dumb.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    I’d hate to see either big tobacco or big pharma control the local industry. You just need to look at what’s happening in Oregon to see how that might go.

    Yeah. There’s been some criticism of the tight regulation in the Canadian law – which controls who can grow and how much – but the American approach has its problems too. Cannabis is, as Sanho Tree likes to note, a minimally-processed agricultural commodity. The US experience suggests the unregulated price floor is very low indeed, and gets lower if you allow mass production to dominate and kill off your small growers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    I have heard some very good reports of Canadian oil. Marijuana seems a bit like whiskey – highly sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of the manufacturing process, but more than taste is at stake.

    Since Nov 2016 • 210 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment Attachment Attachment

    Snapshots from the past...
    Back in the ’70s Vancouver’s Georgia Straight and their resident comic and cover artist Rand Holmes contributed mightily in the push for changes to marijuana laws.
    (Above: – Harold Hedd comics and
    the coin Holmes designed to commemorate legalising Medical Marijuana back in 2001

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    and an ad for a ‘smoke in’ in Vancouver’s Maple Tree Square – in the area known as Gastown – which became Grasstown

    ...and let's not forget http://www.veryimportantpotheads.com/trudeau.htm

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Thanks Russell, good appraisal & I agree we ought to get past convictions scrubbed (even if most such convicts are probably now dead).

    Let's keep an open mind re the current Minister of Justice. Binding would be best, but if he designs one that has suitable text - to produce a mandate for subsequent legislation - he'll deserve our respect.

    I agree with Alfie & the Drug Foundation that users must be able to grow their own. Canada setting four plants per person could be a problem: gardeners know plenty of seedlings get wiped out by nature before getting established. If the legislation specifies four fully-grown plants, no problem.

    I agree that teenage users get damaged, but they'll use it anyway - so a twenty anything age discrimination law will never work. Jeez, I recall one of my younger brothers telling me he & school-friends were getting high & I warned him accordingly. That was 1971, Wanganui (he was 16). As a result he's been straight & extremely hostile to drug-taking since the early eighties. Zillions of similar stories around the world since then provide a substantial common ground of experience.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yeah, Ian, indeed relevant. I happened on this too: http://www.blakkpepper.com/2018/02/is-canadian-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-son-of-fidel-castro/ Cool that Fidel's other son acknowledged Justin's co-paternity in his suicide note eh? Wonder if someone's told Justin yet.

    Sceptics point to the lack of evidence of any conception opportunity in March '71. Common sense tells us that any such tryst was designed to be secret, of course! Anyone who looks at the faces of the contending fathers & son can see at a glance who the real father is. No scientic basis for the inheritance of charisma (yet) but I can see where he gets it...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4585 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Girls just wanna have fun. She went on to author four books, was actress, photographer, tv talkshow hostess, got awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from a university in Ontario. Tours giving talks on bipolar - wonder if she opines on the tendency of certain drugs to escalate that predisposition...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Ontario has just elected a provincial conservative government. I suspect that there may be setbacks there, although the current Premier Doug Ford's late brother Rob Ford was an infamous polydrug user while he was Toronto Mayor, especially crack cocaine.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 481 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    A brush with the law?

    These days, it’s a risky business being a contemporary art dealer. And it's a whole lot riskier when the artworks you are selling are made from an illegal substance.

    https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/mary-jane-paintings

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    An interesting study about the use of cannabis products for relieving chronic pain. I don't think it quite says what the Sydney Morning Herald thinks it does. The full report is available from the Cochrane link.

    TL;DR Study says

    The potential benefits of cannabis-based medicine (herbal cannabis, plant-derived or synthetic THC, THC/CBD oromucosal spray) in chronic neuropathic pain might be outweighed by their potential harms. The quality of evidence for pain relief outcomes reflects the exclusion of participants with a history of substance abuse and other significant comorbidities from the studies, together with their small sample sizes.

    but that cannabis products performed higher than placebos.

    The SMH says

    Cannabis' medical benefits have suffered a serious blow, with a major study finding it does almost nothing to help people with chronic pain.

    The study, one of the largest and most in depth ever done on the drug’s medical use, found cannabis does not cut pain, nor does it help sufferers replace opioids. And users seem to suffer higher levels of anxiety overall.

    One of these things is not like the other.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to nzlemming,

    I thought the most interesting bit from the SMH was this: "the results are not straightforward. Most of the cannabis users reported they personally felt it worked well to treat their pain – despite also reporting higher levels of pain."

    A paradox, requiring interpretation. Most users got pain relief from their usage, but it was temporary, because the cause of their pain was not removed. If you treat symptoms instead of causes, you fail to solve the problem. Science, when used by the media as a smokescreen, produces disinformation.

    Healing ought to be the focus. Merely managing patients institutionalises a high-cost health system. Science applied to medicine via statistics has an unfortunate tendency to lead to banal generalisations, as in this instance. Running regularly makes many people more healthy but we don't force everyone to do it because it doesn't work for many others. The reason people need the law changed is because it produces a better quality of life for many, and that evidence comes from personal testimony, not stats. Dismissing it as hearsay is traditional science and bad public policy!!

    Deb Lynch, president of the Medical Cannabis Users Association: “It has given me back my life. Prior to starting on the oil treatments, I was on high doses of multiple opiates. I was in bed wanting to kill myself and my pain wasn’t being addressed. Now I’m running all over the country.”

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    It's worth noting that this paper was based on an evaluation of 16 previous studies, the quality of which was variable to say the least.

    We rated the quality of the evidence from studies using four levels: very low, low, moderate, or high. Very low-quality evidence means that we are very uncertain about the results. High-quality evidence means that we are very confident in the results.

    There was no high-quality evidence.

    I'm sure the work was well-intentioned, however it appears that neither the source nor the strains of cannabis were taken into account. While some patients may have been using high-quality CBD strains, others could have been consuming rough as guts bush weed. This omission lacks scientific rigour.

    And more importantly, the SMH report implies that the participants continued to use opiods throughout the process, concluding "It did not help them cut their opiod use at all." Is it even possible to assess the effectiveness of cannabis to treat pain when all of the subjects are simultaneously consuming other serious painkillers?

    Recording degrees of pain (on a scale of one to ten) is always subjective but as it apparently increased for the majority of participants, you could just as easily hypothesise that this study proves opiods decrease in effectiveness over time.

    For years, the illegality of cannabis has restricted scientific research into its healing properties. While high quality studies are undoubtably needed, this does not appear to be one of them. It's unfortunate that certain sections of the media feel empowered to draw their own conclusions because, well... clickbait.

    Medicinal cannabis users of my acquaintance who use the drug as an alternative to opiods claim it's effective in pain management with far fewer side effects, if any. As a bonus they sleep better and are happier most of the time. Dennis is correct in saying that quality of life must be taken into account and should inform policy.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Alfie,

    Medicinal cannabis users of my acquaintance who use the drug as an alternative to opiods claim it’s effective in pain management with far fewer side effects, if any.

    I’m noticing this cannabis is anecdotally better than opioids for pain management argument starting to be used frequently. I don’t think it’s a good comparison. For example, if someone runs there motorcycle under a truck and trailer unit and make it out the other side alive but with serious injurys, the ambulance staff will often administor morphine. This would no be to kill pain. It would be to help the traumatised person with the broken bone sticking out of the leg to be more emotionally able to deal with it. Opioids are good for that. Cannabis is probably not.

    If I was going to make comparisons, I’d say alcohol and opioids. And not just because theres proper biological science to say they act on us in a closely related way, it’s also that I’ve known alcoholic drug addicts who say it’s true.

    Mabe cannabis is complementary to opioids in a pain management plan. Mabe cannabis is more appropriate than opiates because opioids where inappropriate and the addiction sickness was more debilitating than the other pain it was intended to treat. Mabe, that’s mabe, because there really truly actually isn’t enough science. unfortunately.

    Israel is probably a good place to keep an eye on as the medical cannabis science starts to develop. It’s been happening there more than most other places.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4015 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger,

    So this doesn't look good

    U.S. reportedly issuing lifetime travel bans for anyone even remotely connected to Canada's legal cannabis industry
    https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1101001/us-reportedly-issuing-lifetime-travel-bans-anyone-even-remotely-connected-canadas

    My Canadian relations have always been nudge-nudge, wink-wink about Trudeau's parentage.

    Since Oct 2012 • 92 posts Report Reply

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