Posts by Dennis Frank

  • Hard News: Cannabis reform is a serious…,

    "Otago University health researchers warn cannabis risks are being downplayed in talk about changing the law but, in a New Zealand Medical Journal editorial, do support decriminalising recreational use by adults."

    "Friday's editorial in the NZMJ urging caution in how the law is changed was written by Research Associate Professor Joseph Boden, from the university's Department of Psychological Medicine, and by Emeritus Professor David Fergusson, who died in October."

    I note that Joe has briefly commented above. I also note that he looks suspiciously similar to Frank Zappa in the early seventies! Anyway, good to see that he's willing to participate in the commentariat discussion of the issues.

    The public have moved on beyond decriminalisation. The recent poll had 60% for legalisation. So why be so cautious? Here's the rationale:

    "The Christchurch study involved 1265 people born in 1977 and studied to the age of 35. More than 75 per cent reported using cannabis, with about 15 per cent developing a pattern of heavy use and dependence at some point."

    "Data showed cannabis use was associated with educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, increased risks of tobacco use, increased risks of other illicit drug use, and respiratory impairment."

    The risks listed here are valid concerns, and do correspond with my lifetime experience (a half-century of mediating between users & non-users, with personal usage for some periods within that). But those vulnerable to such consequences are only a small portion of the whole - 60% of the users studied didn't become victims of the habit. Eliminating the civil rights of all to protect a small bunch of users is ethically untenable. It's analogous to removing the right to drive cars because speeding drivers keep killing people.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Cannabis reform is a serious…,

    Re "under placebo-controlled conditions, #cannabidiol (#CBD) improves outcomes in patients with schizophrenia when given as an adjunct med, showing that cannabinoids (not necessarily cannabis) improve symptoms."

    A pointer that intelligent tech design is the way forward for accurate medication, for those who need that. Self medicating with herb can be seen as a blunt instrument comparatively, but folks must retain freedom of choice. So it will get down to the interplay between GP advice & user habit, I guess.

    THC is "one of 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids".

    I went looking for any advance on what the other psychoactive components do that's different from THC. Found nothing except this: "CBD is a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, which may also contribute to an anxiolytic effect. This likely means the high concentrations of CBD found in Cannabis indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC significantly. The cannabis industry claims that sativa strains provide a more stimulating psychoactive high while indica strains are more sedating with a body high."

    "In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65)." "The countries with the highest use among adults as of 2018 are Zambia, the United States, Canada, and Nigeria. In 2016, 51% of people in the United States had ever used cannabis. About 12% had used it in the past year, and 7.3% had used it in the past month." "In September 2018, cannabis was legalized in South Africa while Canada legalized recreational use of cannabis in October 2018."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: About that Rhythm and Vines…,

    Excellent, Wendy.
    So good to know that you folks have organised to do this. My relevant experience is with psychedelic drugs long ago, but even in the early seventies products laced with dangerous additives were on the market. That's due to prohibition preventing quality control in manufacturing from being imposed by the govt.

    I presume you are advising Chloe in respect of any govt lack of initiative apparent. Lobbying the right people is part of how democracy is meant to work, and the coalition parties seem distinct from the Greens in not having drug reform advocates as far as I can tell.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: About that Rhythm and Vines…,

    "It was also unclear who had actually issued the warning in the first place. The DHB? Festival organisers? The police? The One News report offers a bit more context there. It appears that Gisborne police had borrowed a spectrometer from Customs to analyse contraband drugs seized by festival security. Some pills were just sugar."

    Caveat emptor. Fraudulent products abound when there's no regulation of manufacturing. But the lack of info around the warning is indeed a serious concern. Just the media folk involved being lazy or incompetent instead of informing the public? Perhaps.

    Do police have a code of conduct clause that applies to the delivery of public health and safety warnings? If so, correct professional procedure would supply the source of the warning to the media. If not, Nash ought to point out to the commissioner that he needs to incorporate a suitable clause in the code.

    Someone ought to pursue this one until a satisfactory outcome is achieved. Mickey Mouse public health and safety warnings are not just a bad look for the govt and police. They make Aotearoa look third-world.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Another year on earth,

    "It also made me think a lot about tribe and identity, about who we all were and what was important to us. In particular, about my role in our tribe. Outside of the bonds of family, it seemed the most enduring duty I had."

    As someone still reluctant to admit to being elderly, I've found myself meditating on this stuff often in recent years (I'm 69). Likewise being motivated by a sense of duty to the my increasingly-ephemeral peer-group in particular, and to maintaining a role in the zeitgeist, I welcome your venture into these reflections on mortality Russell.

    Did you know Neil Young also has that nexus in which music, writing, cannabis and cultural ethos are anchored in family and tribe? A few years ago I read his autobiography and learned of his childhood polio and impaired children, which I was unaware of till then:

    "I stood stage right with his son Ben, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy who is unable to speak. When he was born, Young and his wife, Pegi, a singer and musician, put everything else aside to help him develop his motor skills. Now 34, Ben goes on every tour. “He’s our spiritual leader in that way,” Young says. “We take him everywhere, and he’s like a measuring stick for what’s going on.” (Zeke, Young’s son by Snodgress, has a very mild case of cerebral palsy".

    That's from an excellent 2012 NYT feature: - I recommend reading both, to suss out his warrior-like caring way of managing things in adversity.

    "Young, who has never been a graceful stage presence, lurched to the front. He is old — he began playing in this town more than 40 years ago — and bent over his guitar, but he is not old and bent. Young has never been physically whole, but that brokenness has annealed rather than slowed him. He is anything but a frail man when he has a guitar in his hand."

    "Foo Fighters followed, with Dave Grohl mentioning that the sooner he got done, the sooner they’d all get to hear Young play. (He stood at the side of the stage afterward for Young’s entire set.)"

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Cannabis: make it legal but…,

    You can't seriously expect legislation to prevail over human nature. People have been trading stuff for millennia, and money is just media for easing that process. Laws that don't work are never a good idea.

    That said, I agree with Nic that keeping big business out of it is preferable. Restricting sales to individuals and co-operatives seems to me a good option. However, there's the problem of potency specification and the reliability thereof. As long as we have a large portion of the population with mental health problems, we need safety and surety in our medication.

    Stressed-out people get help from the ally. Castenada was right to alert us to the relevance of shamanic practice to contemporary society back in 1970, and just because generations born since are too thick to get the point doesn't mean they can't be helped into getting adept. All it takes is gnosis around the individual's susceptibility, and learning that one toke is often all you need to shift consciousness from a problem state into a solution state. Many of us have known that for a very long time. And the thing about the cognoscenti is that it ought not to be an elite. Gnosis is shareable. It ought to seep into the community.

    So there will always be a role for expert guidance to help people learn their own levels of tolerance in regard to intake. We've had several generations learning the wrong way to do it: getting blotto via excess just turned them into vegetables. Time for being clever instead is approaching.

    I think commercial providers of extracts with reliable potency specs will be essential to the health & therapy dimensions of cannabis usage. I'd prefer govt science oversight and regulation be imposed on them so the public has assurance of quality control in the industry.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem,

    Good question, but it applies to anything reported as news, doesn't it? Ultimately, we all form our own subjective opinions of each report we hear or see. In this instance, faith in the medium is a factor: folks are more likely to believe a BBC report than most other media reports due to high standards of reportage over a very long period of time.

    Another consideration is the fact that it's an in-depth report. Very long. A feature article. It goes into the psyche of the guy, fills out the context for the reader, in terms of his history and background, social niche. As someone who had a career making news & current affairs stories, I can assure you that time is so valuable to any reporter that they shift from one story to another constantly. Large media orgs are very intensive in their process.

    To get a long feature like this published you don't just have the reporter deciding the story needs to be long to tell it fully, their editor needs to agree. The editor deletes any bits deemed insignificant or irrelevant. Usually the next one up the hierarchy to assess it is a producer (tv news) or editor-in-chief, then sometimes with contraversial stories an exec producer will make a decision to authorise publication (or not). So it has survived passage through several filters to achieve publication.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem,

    The BBC has an excellent report on one of the pioneers of fake news. The guy has become so successful that he’s actually earning a living from it! “Once his stories go viral, the Facebook comments burst forth. And that’s when Christopher Blair the fake news writer becomes Christopher Blair the crusading left-wing troll.”

    Christopher Blair is “a committed liberal Democrat”. “Blair spent more than two decades as a construction worker, a trade that took a toll on his body. In the late 2000s, when the Great Recession hit and his industry slumped, he started looking for another source of income in liberal political blogging.”

    “He loved to write and found that he had a flair for making words come alive. He began a blog, the first of many. He found it liberating being able to say what he wanted – arguing in favour of a range of positions on the left-hand side of American politics. But although it was fun and a few people started reading, blogging didn’t pay. And so he tried another tactic. He began to write fabricated tales that looked like real news headlines… once his fake news started to get clicks, he was able to use Google’s advertising platform to convert page views into money. In 2014, he quit his day job.”

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Drugs and the road forward,

    Also essential for this topic is factoring in the therapeutic benefits of other plants, and it's encouraging that the psychedelic adventurers of the sixties & seventies are being followed by younger folk:

    "Zoe Helene grew up in New Zealand... Helene first took ayahuasca in 2008, on her first wedding anniversary. She's married to Chris Kilham, who goes by the moniker 'Medicine Hunter' and travels the globe researching medicinal plant use and working with companies to market them in the west. Helene is a part-owner of the business, and makes most of her income from royalties made on plants like maca and ginseng."

    "In the decade since first taking the drug, she has travelled once or twice a year to Peru, for ayahuasca ceremonies (they are usually led by indigenous Shipibo shaman, and typically there is singing, chanting and drumming as journeyers are in the throes of their psychedelic experiences). Why? "People like to say healing, and healing is definitely part of it, but I don't like to cram everything under healing as a category," Helene says. "I really think self-liberation is a big one, especially for women." This is where the feminism seems to come into it. On her website, Helene says she believes women are under-represented in the field of psychedelics, and it's her mission to change that."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Getting serious about the…,

    Ole fella interviewed here: "a legalization activist, a social warrior and now a ganjapreneur via his own Willie’s Reserve pot brand, and he still gets high regularly at age 83."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 262 posts Report Reply

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