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Speaker: Towards a realistic drug policy

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  • Just thinking,

    As for all Mass Murderers being pot smokers.

    It was an anecdote from a senior mental health proffessional looking at associated harm of drugs.

    This is when Norml blames the victim.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As for the "just look at the Netherlands" argument, this is New Zealand, not the Netherlands. Replicating their policies will not have the same results for a multitude of attitudinal, social, historical, geographic and cultural reasons.

    It doesn't meant it's irrelevant, though. It might also be useful to look at Portugal, the Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium and the various other states where cannabis has been legalised for personal use, decriminalised or tacitly permitted.

    We're not short of case studies to look at, and none of them appear to show the sky falling. I'm not starry-eyed about it, but given New Zealand's very high rates of use under current policy, it's hard to see that use would increase very greatly under a different policy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As for all Mass Murderers being pot smokers.

    It was an anecdote from a senior mental health proffessional looking at associated harm of drugs.

    This is when Norml blames the victim.

    You made a bold claim you couldn't sustain. I really don't think it's fair for you to declare that it's Stephen's fault.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    The general consensus on legal status of drugs and use (see my earlier reference of the Cannabis Commission) is that there appears to be no apparent link between cannabis policy - whether liberal or draconian - and prevalence of use. But that, by contrast, policy actions can certainly affect the adverse social consequences arising from the law and its enforcement.

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

  • Rich of Observationz,

    a senior mental health proffessional (sic)

    It's a bit worrying that they should be making an unprovable and easily refuted claim. Not to mention the cause/effect disconnection - I imagine that most mass murderers have eaten cheese, but did cheese cause them to murder.

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

  • Just thinking,

    All mass murderers in NZ were mentally ill, and all smoked pot. I can't locate a link to it, but it stands to reason with the extreme risk to mental health. This is where Norml blames the victim.

    Care to address the more recent cancer study which has numerous citings in other medical publications, or does the Washington Post stand above those?

    Edit: I'll just point out again that I'm not infavour of cannabis continued criminal status, only that some truth regarding the risk be acknowledged.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Apologies - I'm posting below a summary of research on cannabis and health (Adverse health eff ects of non-medical cannabis use. Wayne Hall, Louisa Degenhardt. The Lancet 2009 - not available online - but I can send interested folks the full PDF - email me ross.bell@drugfoundation.org.nz)

    Regular cannabis smokers report more symptoms of chronic bronchitis (wheeze, sputum production, and chronic coughs) than do non-smokers.

    The immunological competence of the respiratory system in cannabis-only smokers is also impaired, increasing their health service use for respiratory infections.

    A longitudinal study of 1037 young people in New Zealand followed until the age of 26 years found impaired respiratory function in cannabis-dependent users, but this finding was not replicated in longer-term follow-up of US users.

    Chronic cannabis smoking did not increase the risk of emphysema in follow-up studies over 8 years in cannabis-only smokers in the USA and New Zealand.

    Cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as does tobacco smoke, with some in higher concentrations. It is also mutagenic and carcinogenic in the mouse skin test, and chronic cannabis smokers show pathological changes in lung cells that precede the development of lung cancer in tobacco smokers.

    Epidemiological studies have not consistently reported increased risks of upper respiratory tract cancers. Sidney and colleagues studied cancer incidence in an 8•6-year follow-up of 855 members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program. They showed no increased risk of respiratory cancer in current or former cannabis users.

    Zhang and colleagues reported an increased risk (OR 2) of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in cannabis users in 173 cases and 176 controls that persisted after adjusting for cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and other risk factors. Three other case–control studies of these cancers, however, have failed to find any such association.

    Case–control studies of lung cancer have produced more consistent associations with cannabis use but their interpretation is uncertain because of confounding by cigarette smoking.

    A Tunisian case–control study of 110 cases of hospital-diagnosed lung cancer and 110 community controls indicated an association of lung cancer with cannabis use (OR 8•2) that persisted after adjustment for cigarette smoking. A pooled analysis of three Moroccan case–control studies also showed an increased risk of lung cancer in cannabis smokers, all of whom also smoked tobacco.

    A New Zealand case–control study of lung cancer in 79 adults under the age of 55 years and 324 community controls found a dose–response relation between frequency of cannabis use and lung cancer risk. A US case–control study showed a simple association between cannabis smoking and head and neck and lung cancers, but these associations were not significant after controlling for tobacco use.

    Larger cohort and better designed case–control studies are needed to clarify whether any such risks from chronic cannabis smoking exist.

    Evidence exists to support the adverse cardiovascular effects of cannabis use. Cannabis and THC increase heart rate in a dose-dependent way. These drugs marginally affect healthy young adults who quickly develop tolerance, but concern exists about adults with cardiovascular disease.

    A case-crossover study by Mittleman and colleagues of 3882 patients who had had a myocardial infarction showed that cannabis use can increase the risk of myocardial infarction 4•8 times in the hour after use. A prospective study of 1913 of these individuals reported a dose–response relation between cannabis use and mortality over 3•8 years. Risk increased 2•5 times for those who used cannabis less than once a week to 4•2 times in those who used cannabis more than once a week. These findings are supported by laboratory studies that indicate that smoking cannabis provokes angina in patients with heart disease.

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

  • Shay Lambert,

    We need to have some kind of regulation, based on harm reduction, but criminal sanctions against the end user shouldn't be in the mix.

    Like he said.

    I smoked cannabis as a teenager and it didn't do me any lasting harm - but looking back I can now recognise it did have a more negative than positive effect on my life at the time (as did alcohol). And dope caused or contributed to serious problems for other people I have known.

    Cannabis isn't a benign drug and that's what irritates me about the pro-legalisation lobby - all the talk is of how it's not as harmful as alcohol. They are both harmful and we should be trying to get people to use less of both. Putting it any other way is just splitting hairs.

    I'm not letting the alcohol industry off the hook either. I like a drink and like the convenience of being able to pick up a bottle of wine with my shopping, but even I can see that allowing supermarket sales has been a disaster from a social harm point of view.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Brian Murphy,

    A bit off topic here, but I am truly impressed by the Haralds' picture of drug making equipment from Victoria ave. see here

    I never knew you needed so little. And when I see fans and cookers in peoples kitchens in the future well, let alone tupperware...

    More material for Mike Sabin and his how to spot a P user/ P lab courses I guess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • Shay Lambert,

    I'm not starry-eyed about it, but given New Zealand's very high rates of use under current policy, it's hard to see that use would increase very greatly under a different policy.

    Yep, decriminalisation is worth a shot because prohibition has been a failiure. Using Amsterdam as an example, however, conjures up images of a cafe-culture utopia for potheads that I don't think is very helpful in the New Zealand context.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Countries with less untrammelled capitalism, like several in northern Europe, have less of these problems

    Testify!

    Although I don't know about Northern Europe. Have you been drinking with Scandinavians? Not quite as bad as Russians, but definitely the type to squash the cap when you open the vodka bottle. Cause you won't be needing it any more.

    But anyway, as I was wandering at lunchtime I was thinking along very similar lines. The desire for oblivion is a desire for relief from the pain caused by capitalism. (Obviously, on the Soviet experience, you can substitute state communism as well).

    When we deregulated the licensing laws, the idea was that we would somehow adopt the marvelous drinking habits of Southern Europe, ie with food and bonhomie, and even if we would drink a lot, it would be like the French who supposedly don't binge and puke and fight all over the place but merely fall asleep decorously after dinner. Yet this didn't happen, and people have started asking whether it's a fundamental part of our Anglo-Celtic heritage or our pioneering masculine roots or something.

    Perhaps it isn't Anglo-Celtic habits per se. Perhaps it's the alienating effect of capitalism and the Protestant work ethic, the consequent loosening of social bonds and the depressing knowledge that your worth is measured by your pay and your possessions. UK-style binging is spreading to the young people around the Mediterranean, I hear -- maybe the decline of the siesta and the ability to eat lunch with your Mum and the spread of multinational technocrat work culture are to blame as much as the allure of Anglophone license.

    I would love to know whether anyone has looked at this seriously. If there is a connection, then we could set the health and drug policy lobbyists on to increasing human happiness by creating a more humane society as the prevention for binging.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    All mass murderers in NZ were mentally ill, and all smoked pot. I can't locate a link to it, but it stands to reason

    With reasoning like that you should write for the NZ Herald.

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

  • andin,

    Cannabis isn't a benign drug and that's what irritates me about the pro-legalisation lobby - all the talk is of how it's not as harmful as alcohol. They are both harmful and we should be trying to get people to use less of both.

    Can I just make a few changes to this....

    Watching rugby isn't a benign drug and that's what irritates me about pro-sporting lobby - all this talk is of how it's not as harmful as watching morning television. They are both harmful and we should be trying to get people to do less of both.

    Better.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Perhaps we should push for marijuana-smoking to become compulsory and then eventually Parliament might meet us half way.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Cannabis may be legal in California this year. If so, it will provide a model for NZ to consider when we change the law here.

    That's got a big financial driver behind it. The State of California is basically broke, and the taxes on pot is one of the possible solutions to the problem.

    All mass murderers in NZ were mentally ill, and all smoked pot. I can't locate a link to it, but it stands to reason with the extreme risk to mental health. This is where Norml blames the victim.

    I'm not sure if repeating your unsubstantiated claim makes it any more likely to be accepted, particularly now you've admitted it came from a health professional, not an expert on... mass murderers.

    (And how someone can be a mass murderer without being mentally ill, I have no idea.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Shay Lambert,

    I would love to know whether anyone has looked at this seriously. If there is a connection, then we could set the health and drug policy lobbyists on to increasing human happiness by creating a more humane society as the prevention for binging.

    According to this table the Danes have one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption, but if I recall correctly they keep coming out on top in the happiness tables.

    Maybe instead of binging on the weekends they keep themselves in a nice mellow alcohol haze all week.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Danes have one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption,

    Ah those long cold winter nights........

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    (And how someone can be a mass murderer without being mentally ill, I have no idea.)

    By being a particular type of psychopath.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4306 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen McIntyre,

    decriminalisation is worth a shot because prohibition has been a failiure.

    What do you mean by "decriminalisation'?

    My understanding is that's what we've had going on in NZ for decades, BUT NOT IF YOU'RE YOUNG, MALE, OR MAORI. Based on my what I've heard from literally hundreds of people who have contacted NORML over the years, your average, white middle class Kiwi over the age of 21, when caught with a small amount of cannabis, loses their stash and gets let off with a warning - that's what I call selective decriminalisation.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    <slight.minddump>

    Possibly worth considering when tallying up the possible negatives of decriminalisation/legalisation is whether more users will utilise delivery systems that do not involve burning the leaf.

    Whether it is via vapor, baking, extracting into oil/butter (yum!) or one of several other methods. I would predict that both the ability to share related information more freely [and possible commercial application] would make many of the arguments around tar, second hand smoke etc far less realistic.

    cannawater on the supermarket shelf? marijuagum from the bottleshop? article in viva with the best cookie recipes?

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    cannawater on the supermarket shelf? marijuagum from the bottleshop? article in viva with the best cookie recipes?

    I'm now envisioning an alternate-reality version of that hilarious Real Food thread we had a few months back...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Shay Lambert,

    What do you mean by "decriminalisation'?

    Fine. Some form of legalisation then. My problem isn't with the idea of cannabis being decriminalised. My problem is with the way in which you have presented your argument - painting a picture of cannabis as a benign drug by constantly comparing it to alcohol and tobacco.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    how someone can be a mass murderer without being mentally ill, I have no idea

    - Armed political struggle (though only pacifists and those on the opposing side would consider it "murder")?

    - Financially motivated crime?

    - Life circumstances?

    Also some psychiatrists distinguish mental illness from personality disorders.

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

  • steven crawford,

    Also some psychiatrists distinguish mental illness from personality disorders.

    And so does the law.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4306 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen McIntyre,

    A good book to read on the subject is the recent "Marijuana is Safer - so why are we driving people to drink?" by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, Mason Tvert; with an eye-opening foreword by the former Seattle Police Chief, Norm Stamper.

    Auckland Public Library has a copy.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 37 posts Report Reply

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