Category Archives: Cannabis

We have waged war on drugs for a century. So who won? – Alex Wodak. 

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines show how prohibition has made a global problem far worse.

So far, with the exception of praise from the US president, Donald Trump, there has been strong international condemnation of the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, including from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The United Nations human rights council voted 45-1to urge the Philippines to desist.

The unpalatable fact for policymakers everywhere is that extrajudicial killings of people who use drugs would never occur without the sanction of a global drug prohibition, a system that started with an international meeting convened by the US in Shanghai in 1909. A series of such meetings culminated in three international drug treaties (in 1961, 1971 and 1988) approved by almost every nation. The US president Richard Nixon intensified what he called the “war on drugs” in 1971 to help him win re-election in 1972 despite the deeply unpopular Vietnam war.

Global drug prohibition was expected to reduce the international drug market and make it less dangerous. But this is the opposite of what happened. Instead, production and consumption of drugs such as heroin and cocaine increased and their price fell by 80% over a quarter of a century. More than 100 new psychoactive drugs are identified within the EU every year, some of them much more dangerous than older drugs.

Drug prohibition was also supposed to protect the health and wellbeing of communities. But drug-related deaths, disease, violence and corruption have in many places increased rather than decreased. In Australia, where I spent three decades providing alcohol and drug treatment and advocating public health and human rights , while based in a Sydney teaching hospital, the rate of heroin overdose deaths – allowing for the growth in the population over time – increased 55-fold between 1964 and 1997.

It isn’t that the world has not implemented its war on drugs the right way. A war on drugs will always fail. When correctional authorities can’t keep drugs out of prisons, how can we expect drugs to be kept out of our cities and suburbs? When 1kg of heroin or cocaine multiplies in price several hundred-fold from its country of origin to its city of destination, how can we stop it from being transported? When drug traffickers are better resourced than police, how can we expect our authorities to stop drugs being trafficked.

In the past few years, former world leaders – and even some in office – have started calling for drug law reform. The essential elements are clear. First, redefine drugs as primarily a health and social issue. Second, improve treatment. Third, start reducing and, where possible, eliminating sanctions for drug use and drug possession. Fourth, regulate as much of the drug market as possible, starting with recreational cannabis. And fifth, shrink extreme poverty, which exacerbates drug problems.

Clearly, global drug prohibition is starting to unravel.

Hitler noted the lack of an international response to the Ottoman government’s genocide of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917 and that emboldened him to proceed to his own Holocaust of six million Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals.

It would be ironic as well as tragic if the extrajudicial killings of people who use drugs started to spread just when the international drug control system has started collapsing.

It should not take extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in 2017 to make the world realise that global drug prohibition has turned out to be an expensive way of making a bad problem much worse. When Mikhail Gorbachev realised in the 1980s that communism in the USSR had failed, he called for glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring).

We now need more openness about drug policy, along with a major restructuring of our response to drugs. The only winners so far have been drug traffickers and the many politicians who found that bad policy made good politics. The longer change is delayed, the more difficult the transition will be.

The Guardian

Daily dose of cannabis extract could reverse brain’s decline in old age, study suggests – Ian Sample. 

Researchers have come up with an unusual proposal to slow, or even reverse, the cognitive decline that comes with old age: small, daily doses of cannabis extract.

The idea emerged from tests on mice which found that regular, low doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – impaired memory and learning in young animals, but boosted the performance of old ones.

The discovery has raised hopes for a treatment that improves brain function in old age.

“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care then that is more than we could have imagined.

These results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals. The boost in brain function was linked to an apparent restoration of gene expression in the brain to more youthful levels.”

Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, Bonn University

The Guardian

Gareth Morgan cannabis plan sparks Greens warning – Nicholas Jones. 

Gareth Morgan says the drug-reform issue is a symbol of the divide between young and old voters.

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In NZ (as well as everywhere else on the planet) there are plenty of ‘oldies’ who know what’s to know about cannabis use. Even amongst our politicians I would bet, if they would be honest. I think it is sadly hilarious that we have fallen behind even the US in regards reevaluating and updating our hopelessly outdated drug policies. Personally I think it is very sad that cannabis policy seems to be, according to Gareth’s recent experience, the only way to interest young people in politics. It’s highly unlikely that the coming worldwide revolt and civic disobedience by young people against the neoliberal capitalist system is going to get started in New Zealand. – Hans.

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Gareth Morgan’s political party will soon launch a cannabis law-reform policy after its research found the issue was easily the most important to young voters.

That intention has seen the Green Party’s health spokeswoman, Julie Anne Genter, warn voters against thinking Morgan’s The Opportunities Party (Top) represents a realistic path to decriminalisation.

Morgan has been holding meetings around the country after starting his party in November, and told the Herald he had found it difficult to connect with some younger voters.

“People get their vote at 18 and they are not really even aware of any of the issues, none of the terminology. I have been finding that on the roadshows . . . the young ones will say, ‘You use such big words I can’t understand’. And I’m thinking, ‘Shivers, these poor kids.'”

But market research commissioned by Top showed one way to interest young voters – talk cannabis law reform. That issue was “head and shoulders” above the rest for those aged 35 and under, Morgan said.

“It blew me out of the water, really, to be honest. Because I sort of thought it was a first-world problem if ever there was one. But actually when you delve into it, it’s more than just they want it available, it’s more like a lightning rod or symbol of the divide between young and old.

“When you talk to the young ones who are knowledgeable about it, they say to you the most annoying thing is that all the evidence suggests it should be legalised or decriminalised. And yet the system is so socially conservative it just won’t respond.

“It sort of reminded me a bit about the stuff around gay marriage a few years ago – how long it takes the system – the oldies – to catch up.”

Top’s “deliberative democracy” approach has seen it ask its 3000-or-so members to submit on the issue, not just an opinion but the evidence backing it. More than 200 submissions came back with 80 per cent calling for full legalisation.

Options were presented to the membership and about 60 per cent called for full legalisation. Top will now go through the issue with a panel of experts before forming its policy.

In December the Green Party said it wanted to allow adults to grow and possess cannabis for personal use, and ensure people using cannabis for medical reasons were not penalised.

Genter addressed Top’s interest in cannabis law reform in a recent post on Facebook, saying she’d “heard some tiny new political party” had a policy and “somehow they think they’re going to implement it by working with National, who are totally opposed to drug-law reform”.

Genter told the Herald it was great another party was moving on the issue, but she was sceptical of Top’s ability to negotiate change. That was more likely under a Government with Labour and the Greens, she said – more so if the Greens captured 15 or 20 per cent of the party vote.

Morgan – who said “not any more” when asked if he used cannabis himself – said Top’s influence would depend on support from voters, and the party would like to remain on the crossbenches and negotiate policy support with the Government of the day.

The “ground is moving pretty rapidly” around the world on cannabis reform and National had already shown an ability to “out-flank” the Greens, Morgan said.

“Look what they did with predator free New Zealand, and what they have done in terms of rivers – we can criticise what they have done – but it’s certainly better than what they had done with rivers. I think National is quite sensitive to its blue-green vote.”

A poll commissioned by the Drug Foundation last year found 64 per cent of respondents thought personal possession of a small amount of cannabis should be either legal or decriminalised.

Current penalties range from a $500 fine for possession to a 14-year jail term for its supply and manufacture. Cultivation of cannabis can result in a seven-year jail sentence.

Labour leader Andrew Little last year told a student radio station that his party might hold a referendum on such a move, but later downplayed the comments. National has ruled out decriminalising cannabis.

Debate about cannabis reform has been stirred by the cases of former union leader Helen Kelly and cricketer Martin Crowe, both of whom used the drug for medicinal pain relief before their deaths from cancer last year, and new approaches taken overseas including Australia.

NZ Herald

Kiwi entrepreneurs call for legalisation of cannabis, following worldwide success – Craig Hoyle. 

Kiwi entrepreneurs are riding high on a worldwide cannabis boom, despite the drug still being illegal in New Zealand.

They are now using their success overseas to call for legalisation here, drawing attention to the economic and health opportunities it would present.

Among their number is Dan Crothers, a founding member of the world’s largest cannabis website.

Herb.co drew around 90 million page views in the past year and is approaching eight million fans on Facebook.

Fellow Kiwi Melissa Reid joined as Managing Editor last year, and said the name-change was part of an effort to mainstream the site’s appeal.

“We’re pushing away the stigma around marijuana and the stoner culture,” she said. “It’s about realigning public perceptions of the standard cannabis user.”

Reid said it was particularly frustrating watching the American cannabis boom, knowing that similar opportunities were being missed in New Zealand.

“It’s opened up all sorts of things, from weed delivery services, like Uber for weed, to cannabis-related massage clinics and design agencies,” she said.

“There are endless business opportunities.”

Stuff.co.nz

Legalisation of cannabis ‘only solution to crime and addiction problems’. 

Report by Adam Smith Institute says UK’s drug strategy ‘has failed in its core aims’ and urges government to legalise cannabis. 

“Current cannabis policy in Britain is a “messy patchwork” of legislation intermittently enforced by regional police and an embarrassment. The government must recognise that legalising the Class B drug is the “only workable solution to the problems of crime and addiction in the UK and modernise and legalise. 

Politicians and the public should recognised the UK’s drug strategy “has failed in its core aims to prevent people from using drugs, manufacturing drugs, and to put a stop to the crime, corruption and death that is taking place on an industrial scale around the world.

Legalisation would ensure the drug meets acceptable standards, remove criminal gangs from the equation, raise revenue for the Treasury and protect public health.”

The Guardian 

The Marijuana Boom Is Contributing to the Climate Crisis. 

A new report finds that marijuana cultivation accounts for as much as 1 percent of energy use in states such as Colorado and Washington. The electricity needed to illuminate, dehumidify, and air-condition large growing operations may soon rival the expenditures from big data centers, which themselves emit an estimated 100 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year. TakePart 

We ought to grow it outdoors in places suitable for it. Seems logical. There are plenty of suitable places around the world to grow pot on a large scale commercially.