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Government Flip-Flop on Cannabis

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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God
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#21 Post by God » July 20th, 2007, 12:01 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Maria wrote: There is the point about the skunk of today being much stronger than the stuff we smoked 25 years ago and being blamed for a rise in mental health disorders.
Yeah, but like I said before, it's only because it's been illegal that the boffins bothered to develop stronger stuff. If it had been legal and controlled, with defined strength limits, then what'd have been the point? It's like crack - that was only invented as a way of getting more buzz for the dollar - 'cos it's being illegal makes it so expensive. Of course, then, because it is so strong, folk actually want more of it ... and so the spiral grows. If they'd only left well alone in the beginning, or taken to controlling drugs rather than stupidly attempting banning them, then the problem would probably not have grown to the immense dimensions it has. They can never "win" the "drugs war". The best can be done is some damage limitation - but they ain't even trying that. Cos they's all morons and control freaks, is the truth of the matter. Zillions of little Bush's 'n' B.Liars running around everywhere. And now ol' Straight-Laced Brown is in charge, them's gonna have them a field day.

Incidentally, they were going on about so-called mental problems arising from dope when I was still a teenager - it's full circle. They keep bringing out the same tired old stories, every time they think they can get a new angle.

Dope grows, folk blows, and that's the way it always goes.

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#22 Post by Nick » July 20th, 2007, 12:09 pm

Don't drink and drive...


.......smoke and fly!



(Not that I am really advocating anything in particular)

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#23 Post by God » July 20th, 2007, 2:19 pm

Nick wrote:
.......smoke and fly!
That remind's me of an important lesson I learned from my acid guru, Spud.

He said "It might well be true that when you take LSD you will discover you can fly. The thing is to remember, you will still be a learner ... so always take-off at ground level."

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#24 Post by Moonbeam » July 21st, 2007, 9:00 pm

Seen on another board and sort of off-topic but on the other hand this is the only drugs thread on here at the moment.

Bit of a funny story that leads to a couple of questions: A few weeks ago a large crowd of us went to Amsterdam for a long weekend. As me and my girlfriend were staying for an extra day, everyone gave their unsmoked grass to us when they made their way back to the UK. We ended up with 7 bags of grass so we decided to post them to ourselves. Rather than incriminate ourselves we placed the bags in a birthday card and sent it to our house in London that we've been renting out. As our tennants had moved out a couple of months ago, we decided to use their name as the addressees. When we got back to UK, we eagerly went to check the mail only to realise that our old tennants had sneakily cut themselves a key and were letting themselves in to the house and picking up mail!!!

What I want to know is - Did our old tennants receive an very nice unexpected birthday present, or would the package have been intercepted?


I think this guy is a total **** for putting the names of his ex-tenants on the package (even worse than they are for sneakily cutting themselves a key) - surely he could have put false names? - I am still curious as to what the most likely answer is. Any guesses?

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#25 Post by God » July 21st, 2007, 9:43 pm

Moonbeam wrote: What I want to know is - Did our old tennants receive an very nice unexpected birthday present, or would the package have been intercepted?[/color]

I think this guy is a total **** for putting the names of his ex-tenants on the package (even worse than they are for sneakily cutting themselves a key) - surely he could have put false names? - I am still curious as to what the most likely answer is. Any guesses?
As the ex tennants were ingenious enough to do the key thing they were pretty likely to be the kind of folk who (as would I) would gratefully accept any decent weed addressed to them. :yahbooh:

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#26 Post by Lifelinking » July 24th, 2007, 8:32 pm

Yeah, but like I said before, it's only because it's been illegal that the boffins bothered to develop stronger stuff. If it had been legal and controlled, with defined strength limits, then what'd have been the point? It's like crack - that was only invented as a way of getting more buzz for the dollar - 'cos it's being illegal makes it so expensive. Of course, then, because it is so strong, folk actually want more of it ... and so the spiral grows.
Yes, but none of this addresses the fact that this is the world as it exists, now, nor does it address the issue of harm. As I said much earlier in the thread, I am not a particular fan of the act, but I recognise it as a reality. While people argue about whether the law should be changed or reformed or abolished, people have to live with the legal, social and cultural realities of today.

Interesting questions arise such as, in a democracy, do we obey laws that we disagree with? How do we choose those we obey and those we ignore? Where do we draw our own 'lines in the sand'?
If they'd only left well alone in the beginning, or taken to controlling drugs rather than stupidly attempting banning them, then the problem would probably not have grown to the immense dimensions it has.
Aye, and it would be nice if we still had trams.

They can never "win" the "drugs war".
I agree, its a daft phrase.

The best can be done is some damage limitation - but they ain't even trying that. Cos they's all morons and control freaks, is the truth of the matter. Zillions of little Bush's 'n' B.Liars running around everywhere. And now ol' Straight-Laced Brown is in charge, them's gonna have them a field day.
I am sorry Goddy, but this is insulting to those who are out there working their hearts out in the fields of harm reduction and treatment. The type of work that people do not go into to become rich, but because they care about others.
Incidentally, they were going on about so-called mental problems arising from dope when I was still a teenager - it's full circle. They keep bringing out the same tired old stories, every time they think they can get a new angle.
Nope, sorry Goddy. Statements about an unspecified 'they' going on about 'so called mental problems' doesn't cut the mustard.

Well carried out peer reviewed research, and evidence, and human experience does.
Dope grows, folk blows, and that's the way it always goes.
Yes, but in order for people, and by people I mean people like my children, to make informed decisions about whether or not they 'blaw', 'draw', 'cook', 'toke', 'spike', or even bevvy their way into an altered state of consciousness, they should have the very best information and knowledge at their fingertips about the pros and the cons of their actions.

That includes knowledge about potential harm, about the realities of the legal situation as it is now, and about consequences.

The very kindest regards,

L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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#27 Post by God » July 24th, 2007, 9:23 pm

Well yes, I suppose you are right basically - except of course that keeping dope illegal does not seem to stop many people using it. All it does is add to their problems. So I still say it would be better to legalise it and therefore better be able to control it. But that won't happen so the games will continue. And dope dealers will continue to get very rich (and a few of them will get busted). And I shall continue to find the whole thing highly amusing.

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#28 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 25th, 2007, 8:46 am

You know, I just can't see the case for baning these substances in the face of allowing alcohol and tobacco. We know the tobacco causes disease and death; is it to 1 in 4 people? Yet we still keep it legal.

the problems with a ban are twofold. Firstly, as we know the only thing it does is to drive drugs underground. I have never tried illegal substances but I am told they are easy to obtain in the town where I live so banning them does really work. It also makes for a whole network which amounts to big business of growing shipping and delivering to the street drugs with dubious quality and strength and results in all sorts of gang banging etc and large amounts of police time.

Secondly, it bars research. the company who makes Sativex, the first Cannabis based drug, took ages to get permission to grow cannabis and research the stuff and find out about the very useful compounds it contains. These compounds have been much more expensive to research due to the need to grow the stuff in a high security location. yet more research might well come up with various new and useful drugs but it isn't going to happen while drugs are banned.

This is why I think the acts concerning drugs should be repealed and proper companies set up to grown and produce the drugs for sale in pharmacies, say, at a price that take the drug barons off the scene. tax could be added later. If banning the rugs doesn't work, let;s make it legal and make life easier for addicts or all sorts.
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#29 Post by God » July 25th, 2007, 2:20 pm

Titanium Wheels wrote:... let;s make it legal and make life easier for addicts or all sorts.
Of course! Why didn't anyone think of that? So go do it, Wheels!

:thumbsup:


_______________________________________________________
Oh shoot! Is that the kinda thing Jaybird was telling me off about? :redface:

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#30 Post by Lucretius » July 27th, 2007, 12:35 am

The hypocrisy and idiocy of this issue stings. The only reason it isn't legal is because they would have trouble taxing it. Alcohol has been shown to be much more dangerous to society than many class A drugs never mind cannabis. I dislike smoking myself but it is obvious to even me. The evidence linking cannabis use to things like schizophrenia is wafer thin. I have seen no data that shows anything but some correlation. We all know that correlation doesn't mean causation.

Btw I love a drink
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken

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#31 Post by Lifelinking » July 27th, 2007, 10:15 am

At the risk of being pedantic about language, statistically significant links between cannabis use and schizophrenia are strongly evidenced. the Scandinavian Study and several replicated studies since then have shown this. Assuming a causal relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia is indeed on much shakier ground however.

From the BBC today

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6917003.stm


L
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#32 Post by Alan H » July 28th, 2007, 6:44 pm

From Ben Goldacre's (Guardian's Junk Science commentator) Blog:

Bad Science » Blah blah cannabis blah blah blah
http://www.badscience.net/?p=476

Blah blah cannabis blah blah blah

July 28th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in drurrrgs |

The Guardian
Saturday July 28 2007

You know when cannabis hits the news you’re in for a bit of fun, and this week’s story about cannabis causing psychosis was no exception. The paper was a systematic review and then a “meta-analysis” of the data which has already been collected, looking at whether people who smoke cannabis are subsequently more likely to have symptoms of “psychosis” or diagnoses of schizophrenia. Meta-analysis is, simply, where you gather together all of the numbers from all the studies you can find into one big spreadsheet, and do one big calculation on all of them at once, to get the most statistically powerful result possible.

Now I don’t like to carp, but it’s interesting that the Daily Mail got even these basics wrong, under their headline “Smoking just one cannabis joint raises danger of mental illness by 40%”. Firstly “the researchers, from four British universities, analysed the results of 35 studies into cannabis use from around the world. This suggested that trying cannabis only once was enough to raise the risk of schizophrenia by 41%.”

In fact they identified 175 studies which might have been relevant, but on reading them, it turned out that there were just 11 relevant papers, describing seven actual datasets. The Mail made this figure up to “35 studies” by including 24 separate papers which the authors also found on cannabis and depression, although the Mail didn’t mention depression at all.

They also said that “previous studies have shown a clear link between cannabis use in the teenage years and mental illness in later life”. They then described some of these previous studies. These were the very studies that are summarised in the new Lancet paper.

But what was left out is as interesting as what was added in. The authors were clear - as they always are - that there were problems with a black-and-white interpretation of their data, and that cause and effect could not be stated simply. For ongoing daily users, as an example, it’s difficult to be clear that cannabis is causing people to have a mental illness, because their symptoms may simply be due to being high on cannabis all the time. Perhaps they’d be fine if they were clean.

It was also interesting to see how the risk was numerically reported. The most dramatic figure is always the “relative risk increase”, or rather: “cannabis doubles the risk of psychosis”, “cannabis increases the risk by 40%”. Because schizophrenia is comparatively rare, translated this into real numbers this works out - if the figures in the paper are correct, and causality is accepted - that about 800 yearly cases of schizophrenia are attributable to cannabis. This is not belittling the risk, merely expressing it clearly.

But what’s really important, of course, is what you do with this data. Firstly, you can mispresent it, and scare people. Obviously it feels great to be so self-righteous, but people will stop taking you seriously. After all, you’re talking to a population of young people who have worked out that you routinely exaggerate the dangers of drugs, not least of all with the ridiculous “modern cannabis is 25 times stronger” fabrication so beloved by the media and politicians.

And craziest of all is the fantasy that reclassifying cannabis will stop six million people smoking it, and so eradicate those 800 extra cases of psychosis. If anything, for all drugs, increased prohibition may create market conditions where more concentrated and dangerous forms are more commercially viable. We’re talking about communities, and markets, with people in them, after all: not molecules and neuroreceptors.

[Captured: 28 July 2007 18:42:00]

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#33 Post by Lifelinking » July 28th, 2007, 7:15 pm

For those not aware of the background / history of cannabis or 'marijuana' in 20th Century USA, you may find this interesting:

http://www.erowid.org/culture/character ... arry.shtml


Anslinger was a real beauty...

L
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#34 Post by jaywhat » July 29th, 2007, 6:57 am

All drugs should be de-criminalised. Then they can be controlled - a bit like whisky.

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#35 Post by IanLowe » July 29th, 2007, 2:10 pm

[edit - I no longer wish to participate in this discussion, and have therfore removed my post]

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#36 Post by Alan C. » July 29th, 2007, 2:26 pm

This by Richard Ingrams in The Independent.
I know six young people from personal knowledge who have suffered from schizophrenia (one of whom committed suicide). All of them came from good families with no history of mental illness, and in each case the parents blamed the use of cannabis which the children had acquired at school.

My personal experience has no scientific value. All the same, I prefer to rely on it in setting the cannabis question, rather than the findings of any official scientific enquiry.

Modern society, however, has swallowed the idea that until a suitable body of experts has been appointed to look into any disputed question and issued a 400-page report, judgement must be suspended. The consequence is that while we wait for the scientists to reach agreement about the dangers of cannabis, a great many lives may have been ruined.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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#37 Post by Alan H » July 29th, 2007, 2:28 pm

IanLowe wrote:Personally, I am "anti" and always have been - too many of my family have died from the big C to take smoking of anything in a ligh hearted sense. It's the most ridiculous thing you can possibly think of - deliberately breathing in smoke.
In terms of the risk of cancer, is there a difference between smoking 20 a day and one or two spliffs at the weekend? I suspect there is, but I don't know where the boundary lies and I suspect it will be different for different people, depending on genes and other lifestyle factors.
so it's the big question that Goddy asked - "what right does the government have to tell people they can't get stoned...". And that one is pure economics - as long as HM Gov keeps dipping their hand into my wallet and extracting money to pay for the NHS, then the government has a right (heck, it has a DUTY) to minimise the amount of that cash which has to be spent on people who did it to themselves, despite all of the warnings.
The problem with giving the government that duty is that it could also be applied to cars. A lot of money is spent on the police, fire brigade as well as ambulances and hospitals because of road traffic accidents. Does this mean that there is a duty on the government to tell us not to drive - or even make it illegal? Is there a material difference between this and smoking?

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#38 Post by IanLowe » July 29th, 2007, 2:43 pm

[edit - I no longer wish to participate in this discussion, and have therefore removed my post]

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#39 Post by Alan H » July 29th, 2007, 3:09 pm

IanLowe wrote:I believe that the carcinogen impact of cannabis as against tobacco alone is about a factor of 8:1, but can't now find the reference, so that may be a little suspect.
Perhaps, but most people don't smoke 20 spliffs a day and even then they are not filled with cannabis alone.

The real question is: what's the risk of smoking cannabis - over the range of consumption? It may be also be useful to know what the relative risk is compared to equivalent smoking of tobacco.
My point is that it's a risk not worth taking - for each of the behaviours we do in a day: driving, going to work, riding a bike there is a risk - but there's usually a reward as well. I just don't see the reward in smoking.
For many, it is a risk worth taking! They will see a reward and this reward may be different for different people. Is it the government's duty to tell individuals what is and isn't worthwhile for them?

I personally don't see the benefit in smoking tobacco, but that (alone) doesn't mean that I want the government to stop everyone smoking it.

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#40 Post by Lifelinking » July 29th, 2007, 3:14 pm

Hi Ian, it is really interesting to hear another viewpoint.

I relate to your views on the 'smoking' side of things. I stopped smoking the cigs some twenty odd years ago, and I am really hoping that my children never decide to start.

I am sure there is real physical damage to lungs when C is is smoked with tobacco in a spliff or smoked on its own using a 'bucket' or similar. Some reckon that using a 'bong' reduces harm as the water acts as a 'filter' as well as cooling the temperature of the smoke. This sounds plausible but I am not altogether convinced as to how much the risks are reduced, if at all.

I would be interested to know what you think of the economics of the 'prohibition' model we are working with. The amount of money spent on policing the current legislation is staggering, and to what effect? (Some years ago the WHO estimated that world wide around 10% of illicit drugs are seized by law enforcement agencies, and that to have any real impact on the major 'players', at least four times that would have to be seized)

Is the policing of prohibition on drugs as it stands just now economically viable? If we choose to regulate other drugs as we do with alcohol, and tobacco, how much do we trust the 'free market' with such matters? The tactics that we have seen employed by tobacco companies and alcohol companies, do not fill me with great confidence.

Maybe my earlier historical contrast between a 'medical' model or a 'criminal' model is too simplistic for such a complex social phenomenon. Perhaps a third way, a 'social model' if you will, is required that takes into account cultural, medical, social and economic considerations. Economic considerations that specifically take into account the social costs and benefits relating to how we choose to deal with such matters.

In my view the discourse must be opened up to seriously consider the views of those who consider that the state has no business to legislate as to how individuals choose to alter their state of consciousness as well as those who consider that the state has a responsibility to balance such rights against consideratons of harm.

Such a debate is needed to inform our decisions as to whether the law should be reformed to 'decriminalise' some substances under certain circumstances and whether we should choose to retain prohibition on other substances.


(wow - I see there have been several more posts - I must catch up) :)
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#41 Post by Lifelinking » July 29th, 2007, 3:22 pm

In terms of the risk of cancer, is there a difference between smoking 20 a day and one or two spliffs at the weekend?

I reckon there is, of course.

There was a drug project in the east end of Glasgow that was encountering 'service users' - young men, smoking 14 joints per day.

L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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