Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: UNGASS and the "Drug Free World" illusion

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  • Russell Brown,

    Also, if anyone can find that UNGASS 1998 promo video – it's described here – I'd be very grateful indeed.

    I suspect it has been very deeply buried along with UNDCP itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A young man in Kapiti died this week, after taking Alpha-PVP or “bath salts”.

    Alpha-PVP is a dangerous drug that gained currency as a way of avoiding progressive bans on other cathinone drugs, so it’s essentially a product of prohibition.

    It also doesn’t show up in reagent tests, so it’s very easy for users to take it unknowingly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brown,

    Just a bit of local colour. This week I have been off work and both days we have had a spray helicopter and fixed wing aircraft flying very low, both at Piha and Anawhata. The local Facebook pages are full of angry comments from residents with tales of babies being woken up and just the sheer invasion of privacy. Some of the spraying appears to be haphazard at best. From what we can tell they appear to have got just a few small plots here and there. Everybody is commenting on what a sheer waste of time and resources it is.
    Last year my partner heard some noise in the street and checked it out to find 3 police cars, detectives in flak jackets raiding a late middle aged working couple apparently over a few plants. Luckily the couple were at work, otherwise they might have had a heart attack.
    Now, if people want a smoke they are going to go to town and probably buy some gang supplied skunk weed at 3 times the strength. It is just so counter productive.

    Piha • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Brown,

    Now, if people want a smoke they are going to go to town and probably buy some gang supplied skunk weed at 3 times the strength. It is just so counter productive.

    Yes. The police spraying programme in recent decades basically drove production indoors and to more organised criminals and much stronger (and qualitatively different) weed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I had a wee look for you ;-) There's A Drug-free World: Reloaded from the 2009 meeting with a screenshot of the poster at 4:24
    (Peter Dunne appears at about 2mins in)
    Some interesting stuff at https://www.facebook.com/drugreporter as well

    Web Archive is your friend for the UNDCP http://web.archive.org/web/19970216142659/http://undcp.org/ but it's slim pickings. Patchy coverage and a hint of sanitisation after Arlacchi had to resign in 2001 for cooking the World Drug Report to make it more positive (He was only appointed in 1997). Also because he promoted the use of herbicides to destroy crops without considering their affect on people, and thus contravening the UN declaration on biological weapons.

    But I can't see the video anywhere.

    Arlacchi's Wikipedia entry reads like it was written by his press officer.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to nzlemming,

    Check out that good looking and wise guy at 2.19 and again at 7.13 :)

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 169 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It shouldn’t be a UN matter. It’s reasonable for the UN to concern itself with preventing conflict at one end and uncontroversial stuff like standardising plugs at the other.

    Why should the despots of Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe have any say in what New Zealanders put in their bodies?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Also, if anyone can find that UNGASS 1998 promo video

    this isn't from the UN but references that campaign

    ... as the quest continues, try these little ditties and aother gleanings...


    ...though I suspect they may have made people want to take drugs just to avoid watching them!

    and try these 'worst' Anti Drug ads

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Coals to Newcastle...

    I suspect it has been very deeply buried along with UNDCP itself.

    http://www.unodc.org/unodc/index.html
    no office in Australasia though
    http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/field-offices.html?ref=menutop

    Can't find that video - but lotsa other stuff you have probably already seen such as the page for that June 1998 3 day meeting and all the press releases and the like:

    http://www.un.org/ga/20special/

    http://www.un.org/ga/20special/presskit/pubinfo/gassbro.htm

    http://www.un.org/ga/20special/presrel/

    http://www.un.org/press/en/1998/19980608.sgsm6588.html

    ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON COUNTERING WORLD DRUG PROBLEM TOGETHER CONCLUDES AT HEADQUARTERS, 8-10 JUNE
    http://www.un.org/press/en/1998/19980610.ga9423.html


    and from January 1999
    https://www.unodc.org/pdf/report_1999-01-01_1.pdf

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Check out that good looking and wise guy at 2.19 and again at 7.13 :)

    Ha! I like the cut of his jib.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Check out that good looking and wise guy at 2.19 and again at 7.13 :)

    I did note that, yes. ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    It shouldn’t be a UN matter. It’s reasonable for the UN to concern itself with preventing conflict at one end and uncontroversial stuff like standardising plugs at the other.

    Why should the despots of Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe have any say in what New Zealanders put in their bodies?

    An entirely reasonable question. It’s essentially a consequence of the fact that since 1961, drug control policy has been determined by UN treaties to which most countries in the world are signatories. This makes sense in that controlling drug trafficking is by definition an international effort.

    One of the effects of that is that democracies, most notably in Europe, have been constrained from pursuing prudent drug policy by their UN treaty obligations. That’s why cannabis has continued to be officially illegal in the Netherlands – just policed differently.

    It became more of a problem when it was deemed that the conventions applied to use as well as trafficking. UNODC initially told Portugal that it was in breach, but was quite correctly ignored. Bolivia exited the UN conventions over its determination to allow traditional cultivation of coca, but was eventually vindicated. The USA has some ropey reasoning that allows it to champion the conventions at federal government level but allow states to legalise marijuana. Uruguay’s just doing it.

    So yes: this whole thing is unravelling.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    One thing that Sanho mentioned to me and then to the crowd at Splore:

    An unexpected consequence of marijuana legalisation in the US states has been the discovery that growers have been using inappropriate and dangerous pesticides. Residues simply haven’t been tested for until now.

    So users have been inhaling potentially carcinogenic chemicals. Again, we come back to the concept of harm reduction.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Campbell Larsen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hi Russell this link is broken: The page you requested could not be found: /hardnews/ungass-and-the-drug-free-world-illusion/alpha-pvp easily synthesised (from your second response to your own article)

    Auckland • Since Aug 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Again, we come back to the concept of harm reduction.

    The very terminology which the US has fought to keep out of UN drug policy for years. It does feel like the winds of change are starting to blow when Peter Dunne starts talking about drug abuse as a health problem.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    It does feel like the winds of change are starting to blow when Peter Dunne starts talking about drug abuse as a health problem.

    And it's actually been that way for a while, as anyone who has been paying attention knows.

    I'm really out of patience with people who fancy that they're achieving anything by personally abusing Dunne on Twitter. If I was him, I'm not sure I'd still be bothering by now.

    The most common misconception is that Dunne can change the law. He can't and frankly, the National government – which can but won't – is all too happy to see everyone validating their anger by abusing Dunne. It suits them just fine.

    Granted, Dunne sometimes doesn't do himself any favours. But when I expressed disinterest this morning in yet another Twitter debate about who'd been a bigger meanie to who, I got lectured about my privilege.

    I'd like to think some of the people abusing Dunne have bothered to read the National Drug Policy, but I'm not confident that's the case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’d like to think some of the people abusing Dunne have bothered to read the National Drug Policy, but I’m not confident that’s the case.

    Much like on Stuff and masthead sites (and elsewhere) – many ignore the article (or maybe just the headline and first para get parsed) and leap straight in to the commentariat flow…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Sometimes not having a Twitter account brings its own rewards.

    The National Drug Policy places a strong emphasis on alcohol and other drugs which is admirable. The Law Commission has also done some excellent work in this area. But these sorts of commonsense reports unfortunately mean little when they're so easily ignored by a government with an entrenched drugs are bad attitude.

    Perhaps I'm too cynical, or maybe just impatient for meaningful change.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Much like on Stuff and masthead sites (and elsewhere) – many ignore the article (or maybe just the headline and first para get parsed) and leap straight in to the commentariat flow…

    Straight to the vomitorium.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    The National Drug Policy places a strong emphasis on alcohol and other drugs which is admirable.

    And on drugs as a health, rather than criminal issue. And it acknowledges, for the first time, that a key component of the harm associated with illicit drugs lies in the laws against them.

    The Law Commission has also done some excellent work in this area.

    And two Parliamentary select inquiries, which came to similar conclusions after hearing the evidence.

    But these sorts of commonsense reports unfortunately mean little when they’re so easily ignored by a government with an entrenched drugs are bad attitude.

    Quite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Clarke,

    I think the gradual move to legalisation and normalisation is inevitable - but not really for the usual let's-all-be-adults harm reduction reasons.

    As the more astute may have noticed, good old globalised mega-capitalism is in a bit of trouble at the moment; the US, Europe, Japan and in fact most of the developed world is in a persistent no-growth phase that's rapidly turning into deflation. And China is beginning looking pretty wobbly - if the pundits are to be believed, a serious correction may be just around the corner.

    Interestingly, major corporates are having trouble growing their revenues and profits in this environment. The primary problem is that the Western consumer is pretty well tapped out - an ageing population, static wages, high debt levels and the simple fact that a great many people simply have more stuff than they are ever likely to need means that it's genuinely hard to extract much more growth from the developed world.

    The age-old solution to this conundrum has been to diversify into new markets, and that's what's happened in Asia, as everyone from car manufacturers to luxury goods sellers and tourism operators (and Apple!) flooded in.

    But as China's growth engine slowly grinds to a halt under the weight of debt and demographics and poor investment, the question arises: how will these companies continue to expand when there are very few untapped markets around the world? Sure, Iran is the new opportunity (at least, if you're not an American company), but that's a small fish when you're talking corporates that have multi-billion dollar growth goals to meet.

    The ideal would be to find some new mega-market that allows you to sell to your existing consumer base - and the recreational drug market is one of the few opportunities that will fit the bill. So I wouldn't be surprised to see some quiet corporate lobbying in The World's Greatest Oligarchy to slowly decommission the War on Drugs, and allow responsible investors with a history of peddling other recreational substances to gradually move into a business that - in the US alone - turns over hundreds of billions a year.

    Perhaps I'm a cynic, but when there's precious little economic growth to be had, the temptation to legalise the market will be too much for the sorts of corporates who pay Washington lobbyists. Yes, there's money to be made from the war on drugs, but even more to be made once the war ends and legal distribution becomes the order of the day. Call it the peace dividend.

    Just my 2c worth.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So …

    Sanho’s interview with Kathryn Ryan was halved for a soft interview on the crowdfunded beach. And tonight, Story dumped Kim Vinnell’s story for the second night running so it could could cover cricket, cats and chillies.

    And you wonder why we can’t have nice things?

    PS: Maori Television still seem to have some idea of what journalism means. Their report is replayed at 10.30pm tonight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Clarke,

    I heard the Kathryn Ryan interview and thought it was very cursory for an obviously complex topic. Needs to try harder.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • tatjna, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'd just like to point out re: the young guy who died in Waikanae - if Alpha-PVP does turn out to be what caused his death (which is still not confirmed), it is the only one of the common cathinones that doesn't react with either Marquis or Mandelin reagents. It will react with the Folin reagent, giving a pinky-peachy colour.

    So essentially, if something is offered as 'bath salts' and it doesn't react with M&M, it's likely APVP you're dealing with.

    Of course, if we had public access to GCMS testing and results...

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 22 posts Report Reply

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