Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Too Good to Be True

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  • Mark,

    "The joint at a weekend party is detectable for weeks afterwards -- the weekend P binge will be cleared in 48 hours." A hair follicle test can detect the presence of methamphetamine up to a year after P was used. The general rule of thumb is 1 centimetre of hair detects up to 1 month previous. It is, of course, extremely expensive but I am just pointing out that your sentence is incorrect (unless you are referring to urine tests, in which case you are correct)

    Since Dec 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • MikeE,

    What scares me is he is lobbying to end the policy of "Harm Reduction" and move towards "Harm Eradication"... I take it he doesn't cosnider prison sentances to be harmful, or at least least harmful than consuming cannabis.

    The other thing that worries me about him is that he comes from Law Enforcement, and apart from the LEAP guys, I don't think I've met a cop who has a balanced view on substances.

    They seem to be happy to get absolutely hammered drunk on their taxpayer subsidised police bars in the stations, but stink to high heavens of drug snobbery when it comes to other less harmful substances.

    Sabin doesn't appear to make any distinction between different substances or between use and abuse..

    And the inside word I've heard is that members of NZ First, National and Labour are very supportive of such moves, with one MP asking why this hasn't happened earlier.

    These included a Drug Tzar reporting directly to the PM with no oversight or governance, compulsary "reeducation" and "detox" for any positive drug tests, a dobbing in system that reminds me of hitler youth or something in George Orwell's 1984 amongst other bits of drug hysteria fueled idiocy.


    Not to mention the vast overstatement of the so called "P Epidemic" when alcohol and tobacco harm hardly warrents a finger being lifted... and the reefer madness we had with BZP.

    OF course in reality, even though we have a stated policy of "harm reduction" in NZ, its hardly the reality since Anderton started in his ban happy ways, with drug harm being increased due to heavy handed enforcement and prison sentances, rather than reduced by treating it as the health issue it is.

    That said, I was impressed with the advertising by Montana Meth Project, but having spoken to those who have used P, most of them didn't think it would have any effect... it might scare soccer moms, but it don't actually stop consumption....

    Perhaps if we had some safer alternatives... we might see a decrease in the harm caused by gutter drugs like P... but I can't see that happening in the current political climate... where all drug use (except for harmful alcohol and ciggarettes) is considered abuse, regardless of whether harm is caused or not.

    Kingsland • Since Nov 2006 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It is, of course, extremely expensive but I am just pointing out that your sentence is incorrect (unless you are referring to urine tests, in which case you are correct)

    Yes, I was referring to urine testing, which is the only form of screening anyone has seriously proposed for schools.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I was watching him on TV last night and I couldn't really figure out where he was coming from - he'd quit his job as a cop last year and is now spending his own money to do this - cops don't make that much money - it all smelled a bit fishy to me, I figure it's election year and he's a stalking horse for someone - I bet now that the govt's sort of dismissed him he'll jump into the lap of another political party

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That said, I was impressed with the advertising by Montana Meth Project, but having spoken to those who have used P, most of them didn't think it would have any effect... it might scare soccer moms, but it don't actually stop consumption....

    And it won't be of any use to anyone in the real world in recognising P problems for themselves or their friends. I've known a couple of people who lost the plot on methamphetamine -- neither of them got within miles of the Montana horror scenarios. Virtually nobody does.

    As their own research told them, the horror imagery is seen as exaggerated by the target audience. The danger is that they think the danger in general is therefore exaggerated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I was watching him on TV last night and I couldn't really figure out where he was coming from - he'd quit his job as a cop last year and is now spending his own money to do this - cops don't make that much money - it all smelled a bit fishy to me,

    As I noted, he's not spending his own money -- he's providing community cover for pokie operators. The fact that not one journalist has actually asked him about the contradiction is sad but hardy surprising.

    He also charges corporates for "advice". What annoys me is that he touts himself as having done "research". He hasn't. He's transcribing stuff from interested organisations in the US. Someone should call him on that too ... but I'm not holding my breath.

    I figure it's election year and he's a stalking horse for someone - I bet now that the govt's sort of dismissed him he'll jump into the lap of another political party

    Oh, he's very political.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Speaking of being to good to be true, does anyone know who paid for the recent Research NZ poll that found 36% of NZer's "favoured Nuclear Power?" The whole thing, complete with the annointed "expert" the media appeared to be steered toward being the well known climate change denier and all round scientific fruit cake Bryan Leyland stank to high heaven in my view.

    If you wanted to stamp out drug use, the evidence is pretty clear on how to do it. Introduce the death penalty for possession of all but tiny amounts of drugs. Give the police, customers and education authorities sweeping powers of surveillance. Remove many of the safeguards in the legal system against the abuse of state power, like the right not to self-incriminate. And introduce widespread and compulsory drug testing in the workplace, schools and - hell, why not - across society in general.

    Otherwise, just legalise it all and treat it as a health problem like smoking, because anything less won't work. The problem is though that the proscribed cure is worse than the disease.

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

  • Tom Semmens,

    Errrr... CUSTOMS not CUSTOMERS.

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

  • Paul Campbell,

    well he actually claimed he was spending his own money when I saw him last night (which didn't scan to me given he's an ex-cop) - of course he didn't say how much of his own money he'd spent

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Kennaway,

    He also charges corporates for "advice".

    When I was working at a certain government-owned corporation that specialises in housing people, Methcon were called in to give seminars on recognising the manufacture and use of P... that being an increasing problem amongst tenants and hazard for the staff.

    sunny Pt Chevalier • Since Mar 2008 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    I'd like to think that as long as I perform my job to an adequate or higher standard, it's none of my employer's business what drugs (illicit or otherwise) I take.

    Ditto for school students ... as long as they are not under the influence, using or dealing at school, what they do in their evenings and weekends is of interest only to themselves, and arguably their parents.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    This is off-topic so I don't wanna totally hijack the thread by embedding a YouTube clip.

    But if you haven't yet seen Weezer's new video "Pork and Beans", go look it up on youtube. Memetastic is the only word for it. I'm sure most of the people here will love it.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    When I was working at a certain government-owned corporation that specialises in housing people, Methcon were called in to give seminars on recognising the manufacture and use of P... that being an increasing problem amongst tenants and hazard for the staff.

    And I think that's quite valid and practical advice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Methcon were called in to give seminars on recognising the manufacture and use of P...

    Hah - was that him? I tell you, that advice had me looking at any empty light sockets (in anyone's house) with deep suspicion.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    I'm reminded of this Economist article about success in the war on methamphetamine. "The drug is disappearing. In 2001 no fewer than 589 methamphetamine labs and dump sites were discovered in Pierce county. Last year just 76 were."

    How? Not testing. By cracking down on precursors to home manufacture, it became an imported drug and thus costs rose. In concert with education and marketing ("meth-mouth" discouraged teens from taking it), use of meth dropped. Users went from meth to crack cocaine which, despite the bad rep, isn't as bad as meth (and didn't involve fire hazards on the order of meth manufacture).

    It's a fascinating article and easily repays the few minutes it takes to read. However, I don't think either party wants to hear what it says.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    And I think that's quite valid and practical advice.

    If I recall, (part of) the intent was to arm staff to recognise P labs in state houses, before someone else did & called the media.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden,

    Russell, you'll remember me from the Drugs Roundtable at Parliament two years ago. I saw Sabin on the telly last night, and he was absolutely full of it, completely ignoring the raft of positive findings regarding harm reduction, and the recommendations that have been made for improving drug education.

    We know that the Government is not particularly interested in hearing the truth about these things, but will instead bend any way in which they think the wind is blowing. The Minister was stood not five feet away from me that day two years ago, and he still couldn't be bothered mentioning our own research findings on illicit drug use, findings that the international research community on substance abuse have deemed to be very important (see Wayne Hall's editorial in the June 2008 issue of the journal Addiction, for example), and it's all because we don't support the prohibition/punishment line.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Russell, you'll remember me from the Drugs Roundtable at Parliament two years ago. I saw Sabin on the telly last night, and he was absolutely full of it, completely ignoring the raft of positive findings regarding harm reduction, and the recommendations that have been made for improving drug education.

    And what bugs me, as a journalist, is how many other journalists are merrily prepared to buy into the idea that he's right and somehow the bulk of real expert research is wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • John,

    Comparing P with Tobacco doesn't really help the discussion IMHO.

    Tobacco (still) and Alchohol , are both legal drugs . The electric Puha and P among many others are not.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    They seem to be happy to get absolutely hammered drunk on their taxpayer subsidised police bars in the stations

    That makes it sound like the taxpayer subsidises alcohol.

    Most decent sized police stations have a police club, which operates a bar out of their cafeteria/social room. The alcohol will be paid for by members, the bar will be manned by a volunteer and the venue will be allowed for that purpose by the District Commander. The only 'subsidy' is allowing the venue to be used after hours, which isn't much of a subsidy.

    No different from lots of other workplaces around the country, though probably less so now than 30 years ago.

    well he actually claimed he was spending his own money when I saw him last night (which didn't scan to me given he's an ex-cop) - of course he didn't say how much of his own money he'd spent

    While cops aren't paid great, if he's done a decent length of service - over 20 years, his superannuation will be very generous. They have a great scheme.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Pauline Dawson,

    Thanks for the tips on your show etc. I am incresingly becomign dependent on online televesion viewing as for the last few days TV3 seems to have stopped broadcasting on VHF in my area. There has been no change to our aerial set up etc. Very hestiant to fork out for new antenna/cabling etc to get more channels (only getting 1 & 2) and set up freeveiw as this is a rental house

    Mosgiel • Since Feb 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Dunno about you, but it seemed to me that Sabin himself didn't like the way the media had picked that option from his suggestions and cast it as the be-all and end-all on NetRad's (RNZ Nat's?) 9-5 this morning. Oh, and he claimed it was his US research trip he did with his own money.

    Seems to me certain media oulets just liked the look of how this fed into their adolescents are evil bugaboo.

    What a bloody week for trying to let teens know we're not all anti-adolescent as some are more than happy to say "Yes, we are."

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    When I was working at a certain government-owned corporation that specialises in housing people, Methcon were called in to give seminars on recognising the manufacture and use of P... that being an increasing problem amongst tenants and hazard for the staff.

    There was an article in Scientific America last month ("Illegal drug labs leave toxic legacy" by Peter Aldhous ; 26 Apr 2008) which talked about that. It also had a throwaway line relevant to this debate; any chance of someone with access to the archive emailing me a copy?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    I heard Sabin on Morning Report this morning. It seemed to me to be good knee-jerk stuff, akin to methods tried and failed decades ago. Sure to appeal to people "concerned" about the issue, but not concerned enough to take the time to be adequately informed. It's one more play to those who presume more and better coercive power is the answer to every concern.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    ("do you hear that IRD? I paid for that research trip to the US out of my own money .... it wasn't a holiday honest")

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

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