Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Marijuana & Reality / The Nutters from the INCB

Headline: Cannabis remains most abused drug: report

A recent international report from UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) shows that marijuana continues to be the most used drug in Australia. The INCB report found that 11 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 years old regularly use marijuana. It is estimated that over 60% of Australians between 14 - 50 years old have used marijuana previously. Recently the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swann and Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh even admitted to smoking marijuana when they were younger. Even with a recent batch of hysterical reports trying to link casual marijuana use to lung cancer, psychotic disorders and gum disease, the fact is marijuana is relatively harmless compared to alcohol and tobacco. Arguments about marijuana being stronger now than 30 years ago don't hold up either. There seems to be a persistent group of anti-drugs crusaders who will bend facts and research to back their moral objection to people 'getting high'. 

One of those strange anti-drugs crusaders is Brian Watters member of the INCB and Salvation Army Major.

Commenting on the report, Watters said:

"They're quite serious drugs of addiction so people have the wrong perception of how dangerous they are. Countries like Australia have all the resources necessary to turn these things around, provided they have the will"

Marijuana is not addictive. The perception he talks about is from years of research debunking bombastic anti-drugs crusaders like Watters.  He is wrong to make such silly comments but it reflects the corrupt organisation that is the INCB. The INCB are notorious for spreading propaganda and interfering with countries like Australia to push the US 'War on Drugs' policy. Watters is also infamous for chairing the Australian National Council on Drugs, the peak body for providing drug policy advice to the Government.

Funny enough, not many 'pro' marijuana reports get headlines in Australia. Our media is very conservative regarding drug use, especially the Murdoch newspapers. Below is an extract from an article(non Murdoch) on recent Swiss research:

A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine was completed on 5,263 teenage students in Switzerland and is producing some hair raising results. In line with a lot of studies that have been released in 2007 and 2008, this study boldly claims that it has found that marijuana use does not produce the fearful symptoms spread by anti-drug groups. The study seems to make a case that teenagers who use only marijuana, opposed to students who use marijuana and cigarettes are more active in sports, have better grades, are more socially adept and have used less illegal drugs.

Drug laws will change eventually but until they do, reports like the latest INCB report will keep getting headlines. Most people know drug policy is flawed but whilst there are votes in it, the politicians will continue with their silly 'tough on drugs' rhetoric.  There are many arguments for marijuana law reform and we just need to ask some basic questions.

• Is casual marijuana use more harmful than alcohol?

• How many people have died from marijuana use?

• How many acts of violence has marijuana use caused?

• Is marijuana addictive?

• Has drug prohibition reduced marijuana use?

• Has drug prohibition put marijuana users at risk?

• Have current marijuana laws benefited society?

• Do we prefer criminals or a regulatory body to manage the sale of marijuana?

• Is the money spent on arresting users better spent treating those who do develop a problem?

• Does marijuana use really cause social decay?

Where can I score?

I think we know the answers to most of these questions.

The Nutters from the INCB

From Wikipedia:

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the independent and quasi-judicial control organ for the implementation of the United Nations drug conventions. It plays an important role in monitoring enforcement of restrictions on narcotics and psychotropics and in deciding which precursors should be regulated. yesterday reported on comments made by INCB member, Brian Watters. Ex Salvation Army Major, Waters, a well known anti-drugs pundit, surprised no one when he rattled off his familiar disgust of drug use in Australia. Using already biased information, he pushed blame on celebrities, courts, sports stars, the government, Australians and anyone else of the Homo sapiens species.

Brian Watters is not only stubborn and naive but also dangerous. His vision of a drug free world is unrealistic and even though nations like the US and Sweden support his zero tolerance strategy, they have worst drug problems than most other countries. Fuckwits like Watters do not care at all for addicts or their health but follow the lead of the religious right and their morals based ideology. They have no time for personal rights or medical facts but are focussed on zero tolerance. Blaming courts for not being tough on celebrities because it 'sends the wrong message' is straight out of the 1970s. Like Howard & Rudd who target sports stars, 'sending the wrong message' is much more important than results. Being a member of the INCB is the ultimate role for Brian Watters. Like minded nutters, paid to preach their ideals to the masses of us poor uninformed people.

An indication of Watters rhetoric is his ability to play along with AFP folklore. The AFP with government backing often claim success at making inroads into drug importation or hurting the illicit drug market. As the heroin surge died down in the early 2000s because of illegal drug manufacturers moving to amphetamine based drugs, the AFP and the government claimed they had beaten the 'heroin epidemic'. A fantasy at best.

Brian Watters bemusedly said:

"Australia had much more success controlling other drugs such as heroin and cocaine".

The INCB is supposed to control legal drug manufacturing and overlook illicit drug policy worldwide. Although it has power in the legal drug market, it doesn't have jurisdiction over individual countries for illicit drug policies. It likes to think it does though and the INCB is often criticised for overstepping their boundaries. The INCB is effectively controlled by the US via the UN and is how the US is able to enforce it's 'War on Drugs' policy. The Netherlands allow soft drugs like cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms to be tolerated but do not officially legalise them because the Dutch government wants to adhere to international treaties. Although their scientific and research based approach to drug use has proved extremely successful, they were still berated publicly by the INCB. That was backed up by a spate of lies and hysterical speeches from the US drug czar. The INCB was also partly responsible for the ACT heroin trials to be abandoned after a threat to 'revisit' Tasmania's approval to manufacture morphine putting their opium poppy industry in jeopardy. Not surprisingly, Brian Watters was the chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs which was established after the heroin trials were vetoed by John Howard.

In April 2003, former United Nations Drug Control Programme Chief of Demand Reduction Cindy Fazey wrote a scathing review of the Board, accusing it of overstepping its bounds:

Unfortunately these individuals also see their role not only as the guardians of the conventions, but also the interpreters of them as well. In their annual report they have criticised many governments, such as Canada for permitting the medicinal use of cannabis, Australia for providing injecting rooms and the United Kingdom for proposing to downgrade the classification of cannabis, which would entail less serious penalties than at present. These criticisms go far beyond their remit, and indeed it is hubris to criticise the Canadian Supreme Court.

Luckily, the era of conservative governments and influence is swinging away to a more fact driven society. Eventually, obdurate moralists will make way for the inexorable rise of evidence based drug policies. With the continued interference into a sovereign countries affairs from the INCB and the massive damaged caused by the 'War on Drugs', societies worldwide will are becoming fed up and are demanding change. Barbaric government drug policies forced on their citizens is starting to take it's toll and out of touch crusaders like Watters will be pushed into the history books as some of the most dangerous ideologists ever.


Daddy Dave said...

okay let's not get carried away here. All drugs are a public health problem, including cannibis. The studies of health effects of cannibis are not "hysterical reports trying to link casual marijuana use to lung cancer, psychotic disorders and gum disease"...
come on. It's kind of implausible, for instance, that pot *wouldn't* cause lung cancer. I agree that the there's a case for changing the law, but if you want to make that case, start by admitting that, yes, like all drugs, it can have negative consequences for users. (and we still aren't 100% sure yet what the consequences are/aren't for pot).
Also, the pendulum swings back and forth on this one, but recent research is sadly showing that pot may be implicated in mental illness if used at a particular stage of adolescence. Pot smokers get really uptight about *any* findings of poor health, thinking it's all a plot to discredit it, but this isn't the case. A balanced view would be better.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Daddy Dave

I agree that all drugs including alcohol and tobacco carry risks and can be dangerous.

My point of hysterical reporting reflects biased subjectivity. Headlining reports that scream "pot can cause lung disease" is correct but what about if it isn't ingested by smoking? This is left out because the point of the news report is to demonise marijuana.

I have never said that any drug is harmless, pot included. Perspective is needed and medical evidence should be the bottom line. My article is a response to the continued biased reporting against marijuana. I also have little time for over the top pro marijuana groups as well.