Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Too Good to Be True

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  • paulalambert,

    I agree about the freedom/responsibility thing too, and having fun with your kids is the ultimate 'good buzz'. Its the quality and context of the public debate I'm concerned about . . . eg. this is hot off the press but don't expect it to be printed in the MSM. And yes, I am well aware it says 'currently'. Having said that, the debate here in this forum is about as good as it gets in NZ.

    Pot Potency Claims Unfounded, Study Says "Claims ... about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about adverse mental health effects are not supported by the evidence"

    Sydney, Australia: Allegations of a dramatic increase in worldwide marijuana potency are not supported by available evidence, according to a literature review to be published in the journal Addiction.

    Investigators at the University of New South Wales, National Drug and Alcohol Research Center, conducted a meta-analysis of worldwide trends in cannabis potency. Researchers reviewed nine international studies, which analyzed the potency of more than 100,000 marijuana seizures over a period of three decades.

    "Increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in a single year than over years or decades," authors concluded. "Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence."

    The study criticizes a 2006 United Nations" report that claimed, "[T]oday, the characteristics of cannabis are no longer that different from those of other plant-based drugs such as cocaine and heroin."

    A previous study of European marijuana potency trends published by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported: "There is no evidence of a significant increase in potency. ... [The] effective potency of cannabis in nearly all EU countries has remained quite stable for many years, at around 6-8 percent THC."

    Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Parliament to recriminalize pot possession, alleging that the potency of cannabis had increased to "lethal" levels.

    Full text of the study, "Cannabis potency and contamination: a review of the literature," will appear in Addiction.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Shep until we can ascertain where the Uni of Otago get their funding for those studies I will consider there may be a problem with their credibility.

    The University of Otago Multidisciplinary Study that Shep referred to gets their funding from the Health Research Council. They're an independent research unit, and while I don't think that much of the model, I think the implication that their funder might be tainting their research is a little sad without proof. They're fully peer reviewed and regarded as world leaders in their field.

    It's entirely possible that they have different results from the UK study because they use different methods/subjects etc.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • paulalambert,

    Point taken, thanks. They've also said they don't write their own media releases, the university does.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Call me a puritan, but I find "fun" that doesn't benefit others or engage with the broader world to be downright solipsistic, and thus revolting to me. At a deeply philosophical level to me I find that kind of self indulgence quite abhorrent.

    I also hold the accurate perception of reality and rational reasoning as being core to what it means to be a human being. I distrust self indulgence and self delusion as having any merit, even if some people consider it "fun".

    Okay, back in the house and settling down with -- no, really -- a glass of sav blanc. I'm not pretending it is benefiting humanity, but I am quite enjoying it after a long week.

    In the spirit of robust debate, let me say that your argument is self-serving, selective, and censurious. It recklessly presumes the experience of others, and generalises with remarkable abandon.

    Ok Russell, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not much - from experience I'd say one average strength joint probably has about the impact of three or four glasses of wine.

    And no one's making you smoke a whole joint as much as no one's making you drink four glasses of wine in a sitting. I'd go so far as to say that only a tiny minority of pot smokers (certainly over the age of, say 25) would actually smoke an entire joint in a sitting. I know of lots of people who will cheerfully polish off a whole bottle of wine (eight standard drinks) in a sitting.

    The just-think-of-the-children argument is a canard in the way you've put it. It's quite socially acceptable in New Zealand to say, drink more than would be wise if you had to drive a car at a barbecue when there are children around. Are you seriously saying the non-drinker who has a couple of tokes is some kind of monster?

    And as for alcohol not "radically altering perception" ... tell that to the cops on a Friday night, anywhere. You seem to regard moderation as a given with alcohol and an impossibility in the case of any other intoxicant. That's just not rational. (Personally, I find moderating alcohol intake more challenging that taking it gently on any illicit substance I might occasionally imbibe at my advanced age. I'm sure I'm not alone.)

    And as I said, I place the utmost value on the clarity of perception. Drugs degrade your ability to interract with people in anything but a facile way because drugs ultimately are about what you experience, not how you interract with the world = solipsism = navel gazing = narcissism.

    Bollocks. I've had some of the best times of my life in crowded rooms and open fields, in shared experiences with lots of other people -- dancing, talking, revelling in community -- having taken illicit drugs. I've had brilliant times doing similar things on legal drugs. Music was often involved. The difference in principle is not really apparent to me.

    I've seen people lose the plot on all kinds of substances, and I've seen my father, a lifelong smoker, succumb to lung cancer. So I'm not buying your argument, such as it is.

    But there are certainly better things than drugs. Seeing my own children come into the world was more exciting, more profound and way trippier than anything I've experienced from ingesting some mere substance.

    Cheers!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Okay, back in the house and settling down with -- no, really -- a glass of sav blanc.

    I must note a pang of jealousy. Where I work, we have absolutely no culture of Friday drinks whatsoever.

    There are exactly 2 beers in the fridge from the Xmas party...__2006__ !

    BTW, good post, I wholeheartedly concur.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    The just-think-of-the-children argument is a canard in the way you've put it. It's quite socially acceptable in New Zealand to say, drink more than would be wise if you had to drive a car at a barbecue when there are children around. Are you seriously saying the non-drinker who has a couple of tokes is some kind of monster

    Are you implying that is acceptable to me as well?- because it wouldn't be, nor would drinking while looking after a child or doing something when required to be dependable. And no, I'm not calling them a monster, I'm giving a personal philosophical viewpoint. The "think of the children" point was in specific reference to a point about personal freedom.

    And as for alcohol not "radically altering perception" ... tell that to the cops on a Friday night, anywhere. You seem to regard moderation as a given with alcohol and an impossibility in the case of any other intoxicant. That's just not rational. (Personally, I find moderating alcohol intake more challenging that taking it gently on any illicit substance I might occasionally imbibe at my advanced age. I'm sure I'm not alone.)

    There's a tonne of information of the effects of varying levels of blood-alcohol and if I'm under the limit I'm hardly going to draw the attention of the cops. There is no such thing as a "standard joint" as far as I'm aware, similarly you cannot be sure of the exact composition of any narcotic or barbituate other than prescription. If anything that's very rational.

    I'd also go so far as to say I wouldn't think as well if I hadn't, in the past, experienced different states of consciousness. Your mileage may vary, but that's not my problem

    I would argue that fooling around with the chemistry of your brain centres is hardly adifferent state of consciousness any more than throwing all the pieces on the floor is a game of chess. And really when your stoned I hardly think the impressions you have "revelling in community" are - shall we say - objective. I'm sure most people have had the experience of being bored witless by some one high when they are not.

    Otherwide, peace. in the spirit of robust debate

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I must note a pang of jealousy. Where I work, we have absolutely no culture of Friday drinks whatsoever.

    If you're near Mt Eden,pop up to Galbraiths. We will say hello,But be prepared for smokers and drinkers and good conversation.:-)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I assume you know something of pot Andrew.A large part of the smoking culture is the sharing of the 1 to 2 paper standard joint( not talking the party Marley joint here) and often one in the group might say "this shits good" thus enlightening others as to the growers ability to produce a good product. I am trying to recall a situation when this doesn't happen but am struggling because thats what ya do. It's a sharing situation.When one has enough, one generally says "I've had enough".I think the younger generation are pretty good at over indulgence but that tends to be age and eventually most learn and go on to recall character building stories from our past.
    The body and mind is pretty resilient. Some of us have experimented, some haven't, but at the end of the day, we have a diverse population that generally knows good from bad.I am happy to know my outlook isn't bleak so will continue to interact with others without judgement up front.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    There is no such thing as a "standard joint" as far as I'm aware, similarly you cannot be sure of the exact composition of any narcotic or barbituate other than prescription.

    Well that's a weak argument. If it was legalised that would be possible, at least about as well as alcohol is currently.

    There's no standard 'glass of wine', nor standard alcohol percentage in any alcoholic drink. Nor are some of the drinking vessels that you drink from standard. Most jugs are a litre, but some are more or less. What some people call a pint is actually a handle, which is less in volume. And shots will vary depending on the method used to get them out of the bottle.

    And the effects of alcohol will vary greatly depending on your gender, body weight, food consumption, intake of other fluids, and various other body states.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Self control or state control?
    Is that the question?
    Self control in this context would also include family/peer pressure (for or against based on either knowledge or ignorance or in most cases adherence or non-adherence of Law)
    It comes down to trusting the average person, not the lowest common denominator, If Joe Blow wants to sit around all day trying to determine the difference to God and his doG he should be free to do so as would Joe Go be free to chase his dream of being a rich prick.
    As it is, the only thing stopping me going out and smoking the Oak tree next door is Recource Consent.:?~

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I would just like to quote something that I just heard from a frequent poster on this very forum

    "you allways think the glass is half full but I think the glass is half empty. Well I am normally right!"

    Good eh?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Call me a puritan, but I find "fun" that doesn't benefit others or engage with the broader world to be downright solipsistic, and thus revolting to me.

    I'm sure even you, Andrew, see what a ludicrous statement this is.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Jill Reade,

    "As for my respiratory tract, as a lifelong fag smoker, thats my problem. I won't be expecting a lung transplant for free anytime soon. In return I think mountain climbers, and other dabblers in extreme or dangerous sports shouldn't be expecting free life-saving surgery and treatment either LOL"

    The trouble for me is that what you and other smokers (of anything )are doing to your respiratory tracts often is my problem. It staggers me that smokers who are arguing the freedom to do what they want completely ignore the fact that it is a habit completely invasive of other peoples spaces and removes their choice to be smoke free. Work places are supposed to be work free but many, especially low paid retail workers, have no control over the smoke drifting in from the tossers parked outside smoking. Employers aren't required to and the health dept can't do anything if the smoking isn't happening on the actual premises. The smoke lingers long after the smoker is gone.

    Walking down the street behind a smoker means walking in a putrid (and damaging) cloud. Working or living with a smoker means having your space invaded by the particularly foul stuff that clings to them even after the butt has been crushed outside. It is definitely not something that affects only the smoker unless they go to a roped off area a considerable distance away and then spend ages waiting for the smoke to disperse in another area way away from the smoking paddock. If you did that I'd be fine with it - maybe you could harm yourself without harming me but in the real world you are just totally kidding yourself.

    The children of smokers are now so well educated about why they shouldn't smole that they also have to live with the fear of what might happen to their parent(s) as a result of smoking.

    You may not be demanding a lung transplant but you will probably want some tax payer funded pain relief if you are one of the people who end up with lung cancer and some hospice care unless you think that your family deserve having to watch you die and care for your every need as a reward for putting up with the costs and invasiveness of your smoking? Actually I would not deny you either thing, nor the mountain climbers, because the only place that that argument goes is free health care only for those that have led blameless lives.

    I loved it when the Maori party announced at one point they were going to ban tobacco (haven't heard any more about it though) but we all know that doesn't work either. Ther's no simple answer but don't kid yourself it is just about you!

    Since Jun 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The trouble for me is that what you and other smokers (of anything )are doing to your respiratory tracts often is my problem. It staggers me that smokers who are arguing the freedom to do what they want completely ignore the fact that it is a habit completely invasive of other peoples spaces and removes their choice to be smoke free.

    Jill: I guess this risks turning into this thread over at Poneke, but are you planning to stay home with a (sterile) bag over your head during flu season? I'm a heavy user of public transport, and haven't figured out how to make a living inside a sterile 'hot room' so I've very little protection from the kind of "selfish tosser" who likes to share their viral loads with the rest of the world.

    I've certainly been tempted to tap a few people on the shoulders and suggest that no amount of expensive scent is a substitute for basic personal hygene. Severe BO is not only unpleasant, but it may well be a sign of various health and lifestyle issues you should discuss with a health professional.

    Why don't I? Because the annoying thing about being in the public sphere is that the rest of the human race just doesn't get that I'm the pivot around which the whole freaking universe turns.

    You may not be demanding a lung transplant but you will probably want some tax payer funded pain relief if you are one of the people who end up with lung cancer and some hospice care unless you think that your family deserve having to watch you die and care for your every need as a reward for putting up with the costs and invasiveness of your smoking?

    And that, Jill, is a fucking cheap and nasty bit of emotional terrorism. FWIW, my foster mother died of cancer -- never smoked a cigarette in her life, and to be quite blunt we weren't really interested in how or why. We didn't "deserve" to see her die, but were happy to care for her at home as long as possible because she's family.

    I always say this, as a smoker: There are five words I respond to very well -- excuse me, please and thank you. A little less poisonous self-righteousness from SOME non-smokers (and, to be fair, a little more consideration from SOME smokers) would go a long way.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It comes down to trusting the average person, not the lowest common denominator

    If it's a question of whether laws/punishment should apply in the area, that's a fair question to ask. But trusting the 'average person' can't be the test for whether a law is applied.

    If that was the case we wouldn't have laws for murder and rape etc. By most people's definitions of 'average person', those actions shouldn't happen. We have the 'lowest common denominator' people in our society, and that's often where our laws are applied.

    I know that most people who smoke a bit of pot are responsible with their use of the drug, don't smoke around people who don't want it, don't provide it to children. Sadly there are some (a minority I would guess) who don't act responsibly. They'll provide drugs to youth, they'll smoke around their children. They'll use other drugs which make them incapable of fulfilling their duties as a member of our community - either a job, a parent, or just a reasonable citizen.

    Maybe the laws can be adjusted so that they cover 'irresponsible use of drugs', but you can't make laws based on what 'sensible people do'. Sensible people aren't the ones we have laws for because it's the insensible stuff that we have to worry about as a society.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Quite right, Craig. All this judgement about how people live their lives is a bit tedious, really. Bad, bad things happen to people who live healthy lives, just as they do to people who don't. Shit happens to us all. I try to make sure that my bad habits don't aversely affect those around me, and really, that's all I can do.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    But trusting the 'average person' can't be the test for whether a law is applied.
    If that was the case we wouldn't have laws for murder and rape etc.

    Well I would say that "the average person" is not a rapist or a murderer in as much as that on average they are not. My point was that we, surely, only to be "protected" from a minority of the people and those should be the most dangerous rather than the most unpopular. There by hangs the rub, crime and punishment are , by nature, political.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Jill Reade,

    Hi Craig,

    Well, I expected a smoker to respond with perfume and BO as arguments but you got me on the germs! Perfume and BO aren't known as killers even in the long term and most people don't willingly take on a viral load. There are, though, many pressures on them to keep on functioning out in the world. None of these are the same as choosing to smoke.

    I am sorry for your loss. I'm sure most of us have been down that road and willingly so whatever the circumstances. A smoker suggested, in support of the notion that her smoking would affect no-one but her, that she would forego a lung transplant. The fact that she would still need other medical care and and/or require the care of others makes this a spurious argument. Her point was that smoking is an individual act. I disagree and not because it may cause the need for medical treatment down the line. As I said but you didn't copy, that argument only leads to a conclusion that only those that have led blameless lives will qualify. Which is none of us.

    A polite "Will you please move?" removes the smoker (sometimes). It does not remove the smoke for some considerable time after, nor mitigate any harm done in the meantime.

    I will continue to believe that those in the throes of nicotine addiction are unable to accept that their behaviour impinges on others and you will continue to believe that anyone that dares to say it does is poisonously self righteous. So be it.

    Since Jun 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Jill Reade,

    I try to make sure that my bad habits don't aversely affect those around me, and really, that's all I can do

    That's all that anyone can ask. My point is that smoking is probably the hardest thing to do that with. I really don't care if people smoke so long as I don't have to smoke their smoke. Tedious though that may be.

    Since Jun 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My point was that we, surely, only to be "protected" from a minority of the people and those should be the most dangerous rather than the most unpopular.

    Well, various drugs that are currently illegal (and legal as well), are to a lesser or greater extent, dangerous to self, or to others. But yes, very political.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I will continue to believe that those in the throes of nicotine addiction are unable to accept that their behaviour impinges on others

    Jill, in what way do you mean impinge? Hypothetically, if I am walking down the street smoking, and you are behind me, you have the choice to move. If I am outside smoking, and you want to talk to me, surely you stand where the smoke doesn't get near you? Are you talking about it impinging on your health? Are you worried about smoky smelling clothes? Do you find it offensive when a person who has been smoking sits down beside you? And what harm do you see coming to you just from walking through a little smoke? You see, when I smoke, I do it outside. Outside my back door, outside a cafe or restaurant, outside and away, usually, from others who do not smoke. If people are with me who do not smoke, they position themselves where they do not inhale the smoke. If I sit down next to you, and you don't like the smell, you are quite capable of moving, aren't you? If there is still smoke in the air outside when you leave a restaurant, but the smokers have left, can't you just hold your breath? I would suggest to you that your disdain of smoking is a personal dislike - and neither I, nor other smokers, are responsible for your mores. We are all affected by others' behaviour. It is up to us how we handle that.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Work places are supposed to be work free

    If only ;-)

    Of course. There is no argument about ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke)

    Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer - official


    PASSIVE SMOKING DOES CAUSE LUNG CANCER,

    RESULTS
    After adjusting for the effects of age, education, history of heart disease, and body mass index, women had a statistically significant increased risk of a coronary event associated with exposure to ETS (relative risk (RR) = 1.99; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.40-2.81). There was little statistical evidence of increased risk found in men (RR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.81-1.28).
    CONCLUSION
    Our study found evidence for the adverse effects of exposure to ETS on risk of coronary heart disease among women, especially at home. For men the issue is unclear according to the data from our study. Additional studies with detailed information on possible confounders and adequate statistical power are needed. Most importantly, they should use methods for measuring exposure to ETS that are sufficiently accurate to permit the investigation of dose-response relationships.

    From Coronary events and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, a case-control study from Australia and New Zealand
    Patrick McElduff, Annette J Dobsona, Rod Jackson, Robert Beaglehole, Richard F Heller, Roy Lay-Yee

    So a 1.99% increase in a 1.40- 2.81 probability with a 5% degree of error.
    You can't argue with that, can you?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Perhaps I could suggest this Nice Hoodie for Jill Reade.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Maybe the laws can be adjusted so that they cover 'irresponsible use of drugs', but you can't make laws based on what 'sensible people do'.

    Of course you can. Liquor laws, for one. Drink sensibly: no problem. Drink and drive / public intoxication / serving minors, etc.: the law intervenes.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

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