Sunday, 29 June 2008

Drug Hysteria Ignores Trauma Suffering

S.A. Veterans' Affairs Minister, Michael Atkinson is a twat. A nasty, selfish, slimy political twat. Atkinson has used the suffering of hundreds of soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome as a vote gaining exercise, strengthening the ignorance of the current drug freaked, S.A. government. Why do I get the feeling that, Zero Tolerance bogan, Ann Bressington is behind this as well.
June 20, 2008
DEMOCRAT Sandra Kanck has accused Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Atkinson of being "hysterical" and "cynical" in attacking her call for an investigation into the use of ecstasy for war veterans.
Ms Kanck yesterday questioned in parliament whether the government would consider a trial of MDMA - also known as ecstasy - for soldiers.
She said trials of MDMA on soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome in the U.S. and Israel had shown "excellent results."
But Mr Atkinson said the Government would "not be supporting Sandra Kanck's latest rave" and "Vietnam Veterans are not laboratory mice for a left-wing social experiment."
Ms Kanck said if Mr Atkinson "really cared about veterans," he would look into any proposal that might help them and their families.
"He is either too superstitious to consider the science and the evidence or he is playing cynical politics," she said.
"'Veterans, like other Australians, are already being prescribed powerful drugs like highly addictive morphine for pain relief and benzodiazepines for post traumatic stress disorder. Both are potentially addictive and dangerous drugs."
Atkinson’s link to the street drug ecstasy from the medical pharmaceutical, MDMA is staggering. Somehow, he has classed a proven treatment as a “left-wing social experiment" purely because some people call it ecstasy. It’s still MDMA but people like Atkinson and Bressington ignore the benefits, and play on the public’s misconceptions which shows them up as having another agenda at hand. Ann Bressington is one of main critics of anything to do with illegal drugs, regardless of context.
Reading the comments from a related article at AdelaideNow is revealing. Over half give their support to scientific research of MDMA if it helps relieve PTSS in returning soldiers. The comment against MDMA are nearly all personal attacks on Sandra Kanck and have no basis at all which sounds surprisingly a lot like the official line of Atkinson and Bressington. Any new comer to the subject could be forgiven for thinking that it is an historical article from 1954. Sadly, we have come this far as a society yet we continue to ignore the lessons from history.
Sandra Kanck - A Example of What Politicians Should Be
I have been quite disturbed by an emerging trend of conservatism in politics.
-Hon. Sandra Kanck. S.A. MP
In 2006, Sandra Kanck gave a speech in parliament about drug hysteria and the influence of religion in politics. She revealed some disturbing facts about some MPs, including the rejection of Darwin's theory of evolution(thus believing in Noah’s Ark), making statements about drugs without any research and claims that religion influence their decisions.
“I am a servant of Christ, and subject to His reign in history.”
-Hon. Bernard Finnigan. S.A. MP
There were several interjections, mostly from Ann Bressington who kept it up constantly, but without the ability to go into her usual, unqualified rant, Bressington came across as an annoying, loud mouth bogan. Kanck even used some of the interjections as part of her speech which made Bressington look even sillier, if that is possible.
Sandra Kanck put the truth out there for the parliament to hear. SK used pill testing at raves/dance parties as an example of how ineffective current policies are and how far some will go to stop new initiatives with no valid evidence. Her reasoning was spot on, especially on the catch 22 situation of prohibiting certain research into illicit drugs which meant there was no evidence supporting many government strategies. A previous parliament submission for pill testing by SK was backed by overseas experience which showed that many potential pill users simply threw their drugs away, when after testing, were informed what was actually in them. Her proposal wasn’t accepted in S.A. because the government couldn’t agree to giving the pills back to the users once tested. SK noted, that without pill testing, ALL of the potential pill users took the pills. BTW, Bressington interjected several times.
SK is one of the few politicians who are not fearful of being tagged as ‘soft on drugs’. This method has been used by Ann Bressington before which puts her in the ‘typical, vote hungry’ politician category. Anyone who dares criticise the failing ‘tough on drugs’ policy is deemed to be pro-drugs which is the epitome of conservative, black and white thinking on the drug problem. Even the Democrats leader in 2006, Lyn Allison gave opposing views to the media about MDMA, showing that saving your political skin is far more entrenched than we may think.
I admire SK for doing what all politicians were elected to do ... to tell the truth and put the welfare of Australia before their own personal political careers.
One of the tasks I have taken on in my remaining four years in this parliament is to turn the spotlight on fundamentalism and extremism and to let the public know what the people they elected really stand for. I am not scared of a public backlash, because I will not stand for re-election. I am quite happy to take a position against the mainstream, but it will always be a well-researched position, as I showed regarding the history of MDMA. Simply because something is mainstream is not a good reason to take a position in support of it.
-Hon. Sandra Kanck. S.A. MP
I encourage everyone to read Sandra’s speech, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Official Guide to Serial Stupidity - Tim Blair

Tim Blair (a.k.a. Timmeh) is a renown conservative blogger and vocal denier of many so called left wing conspiracies especially global warming. So it comes as no shock when an opinion piece turns up with him denying the benefits of Harm Minimisation presented in the much panicked about,  Choosing to use booklet.

Denial is a defense mechanism' postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

Tim Blair’s previous blog, was a right wing hate site disguised as a social/political blog. Proud, blairites (a.k.a. Blair’s winged monkeys) would congregate like pack dogs at his blog for their daily spew of bigotry, aggression, abuse and anything anti-left. It was a popular site with a cast of regular contributors that lapped up every word Timmeh had to say. Blair’s style was to find a story that he fancied, copy and paste a paragraph or two and write one or two lines around it. Lazy? Probably but Timmeh had an agenda here. His rabid readers were notorious for their flock mentality, swooping down on a unsuspecting victim named on Timmeh’s blog. Like winged monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, they were tipped towards their prey and the onslaught began. There was much celebration afterwards on as they would swap insults at the intended target’s expense. Pretty nasty stuff.

The problem was Timmeh didn’t get paid for his efforts and like all good wingnuts, he took advantage of the open market and moved his one paragraph opinions under the banner of News Ltd. His tribe was bewildered. They had been cheated by their own ideology of free enterprise. Even the US moderator, Andrea ‘The Scab’ Harris was out of luck and she lost her finger tight grip on banning anyone who she disagreed with.

Enough background on Timmeh and onto his latest dribble. Being a member of The Daily Telegraph team means you can write whatever you want regardless of the truth and you can even just make it all opinion without any factual basis. This gave Timmeh all the room he needed for his article, Official guide to serial slaying. As a RW opinionists, Timmeh has strong views on the drug debate, especially when someone tries to apply a much needed common sense approach. Timmeh didn’t like the Choosing to Use booklet that was at the centre of much controversy last week and in true, Zero Tolerance fashion, gave some utterly ridiculous comparisons. The Choosing to Use booklet was a standard anti-drugs education tool used in NSW schools but it also had some common sense ‘tips’. Zeroing in on just part of the booklet became the standard approach for the MSM and opponents. Of course, we got a completely different reaction from those that have actual experience in this area and again it became clear that moral panic and fears of “sending the wrong message” override any desire to actually help our kids be safe. The offending section of the booklet said:

The best way to keep your head together, is not to use drugs at all.

But, if you choose to experiment ... 

  • Get to know your family medical history, especially about their mental health.
  • Let your brain finish most of it’s development (after 18 years) before experimenting.
  • Use only small amounts and not too often.

... and remember some people will react badly and become seriously unwell after using only a small amount of a drug, despite thses tips.

These tips were only part of the booklet that pointed out the many dangers of drug taking but as we saw, many were quick to attack and it became a weapon to discredit Harm Minimisation. Timmeh’s attempt at writing more than one paragraph and being witty follows:

Choosing to Steal

Studies consistently demonstrate that many young people will experiment with shoplifting at some time.

Search store ceilings for security cameras before loading your baggy clothing with items that may fetch a handy few dollars at the docks.

Always carry at least $100 so you can claim to have had enough money to buy the dismal tat you've boosted, which you always intended to pay for and which you only concealed beneath your top to hide such flimsy trinkets from greedy global crap cartels.

The collection also included, choosing to smoke, choosing to drink-drive, choosing racism, choosing to gamble, choosing prostitution, choosing abduction.

Some RW bloggers are notorious for ‘group think’, where they quote each other’s articles with a consensus that their points must be valid because another journalist writer agrees with them. The articles are often just based on one initial source as well. One of Timmeh’s “Choosing to ...” comparisons was very similar to a recent post on DrugTalk by well known Zero Tolerance nutter and Drug Free Australia (DFA) secretary , Gary Christian. 

When a community decides that it doesn't want to tolerate young hoons in their cars who don't want to admit what every person with common sense recognises, that excessive speed kills, they don't make it a public health issue (of course hoons and their victims end up in hospital), they make it a law and order issue.  It is a law and order issue because young hoons make a definite choice to travel at excessive speed, whether or not it is a speed best calculated to save the life of a toddler who gets onto the road, or an aged person crossing it.  


Th cost of policing what Australian society does not want tolerated is very real.  There may be a squad especially paid to catch the offenders and seize their vehicles.  And if they do their job well, they will never get rid of hoons, but they will most definitely stop the exponential growth of damage done to the community which would inevitably come about if nothing was done.

Christains’ (very apt surname) post was not about the Choose to Use booklet but might of somehow given a lazy journalist an idea for a peice he was writing. Tim Blair writes:

It is only regarding drugs that authorities are so accommodating. Reckless driving by youngsters is probably more of an inevitability than drug use, but you'll never see an official document called.

Choosing to Hoon, which advises on the correct method of performing burnouts, spotting unmarked police cars and achieving increased horsepower with nitrous oxide ("use only small amounts and not too often'').

Instead, the RTA tells us there is no such thing as safe speeding.

This is a lie. A bad driver is dangerous even when parking. A good driver can travel at speeds substantially beyond posted limits, yet present no danger.

Zero tolerance is routine when it comes to almost every form of potentially dangerous behaviour besides taking illegal drugs.

For those who know Timmeh’s agenda, they might not be surprised that he finished his piece with a reference to polar bears and that global warming is a myth.

Related Links:

Official guide to serial slaying

Serial Slaying with Semantics

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Drug Seizure Success is Laughable

‘Record drug seizures hit heroin supplies’ scream the headline in the Herald-Sun. 

The problem is that the amount of heroin seized in a year is less than 4 days* of Australia’s consumption ... and the number of seizures has nearly doubled from the previous year. Maybe the success is relative to how gullible the pollies think we are.

The HeraldSun article, Record drug seizures hit heroin supplies, highlights the supposed success of Australia’s tough border protection after a report titled the Australian Crime Commission into illicit drugs was released. The article has several unsurprising responses from officials that might be construed as clouding reality a little.

Crime Commission chief executive Alastair Milroy said more drugs were being detected by police and Customs before they entered the country.

"The greater level of co-op-eration and the greater emphasis on intelligence collection has led to the significant seizures, both at the border and offshore," he said.


85 Kg of heroin was the new record seizure rate for Australia at the borders. That’s an increase of 79% in 2006-7 compared to the previous year. Impressed? Well let’s do some quick calculations. There’s about 50,000 heroin users in Australia and an average usage would be about half a gram per day*. This gives us a daily use of 25Kg. Divide the daily 25Kg into the yearly total of 85Kg and we get 3.4. Which is 3.4 days* out 365 (0.93%).

Doing similar calculations I worked out that the cannabis hauls are even less effective . Seizures of amphetamine type chemicals for ecstasy/ice are slightly higher at about 2-3% of yearly use. Cocaine though has quite a large seizure rate. 

One of the most amazing things about the ecstasy market is that no matter how much of the drug is seized by police, there doesn’t seem to be any significant effect on availability.

-Paul Dillon. Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA) - Sydney Star Observer

How much do we spend on drug seizures? Australia spends about $2 billion on drug law enforcement per year and Customs/border protection spending is about a $1 billion per year. The actual break up and exact figures are hard to pin point (for me anyway) as budgets tend to spread spending over 4-5 years and implement strategies at different times. Australian Customs have over 5500 employees and covers 36,000 kilometres of coastline with a maritime area of nearly 15 million square kilometres. 

One thing I do know though is that it seems almost pointless trying to stop drug importation. When the profit margin for heroin is an estimated, 17,000% from poppy to users, no amount of policing will stop the flow. We can’t even stop drugs getting into jails where they search everyone and everything. What chance do we have when over 20 million people annually move through our international airports and seaports and the area to monitor is massive?

Mr Milroy said restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine-based products were helping reduce the local production of amphetamines.

"This is clear from the significant slowdown in the growth of clandestine laboratory detections over the last couple of years compared with the previous decade," he said.


John Howard made a similar claim after heroin peaked and died down back to normal levels. His claim that the government’s  ‘Tough on Drugs’ policies had allowed the AFP and customs to squash the ‘heroin epidemic’, turned out to be false. In fact, whilst patting himself on the back, organised crime in S.E. Asia had swapped production from heroin to amphetamine based drugs like ‘ice’ and speed which somehow was missed by his “tough on Drugs” policies. Oooops.

THE price of heroin is soaring on Melbourne's streets as authorities seize record amounts of the drug at Australia's borders.

The starting price of heroin in Victoria increased from $270 per gram in 2005-06 to $370 in 2006-07.

But cocaine and methamphetamines got cheaper.

The cost of cocaine dropped from about $350 per gram to $300, and the price of MDMA decreased from $21 per tablet to $14 in 2006.


Another myth is that heroin prices are increasing due to a shortage. Today’s prices are still cheaper than pre ‘heroin epidemic’ days. When the increased influx of heroin started in the late 1990s, the price dropped considerably but started drifting back up as heroin supplies returned to normal. Heroin was about $400 a gram before the ‘heroin epidemic’.

The most important feature of the article should be that more than 82,000 Australians were arrested for drug offences in 2006-07.   Most of these are for possession or are user/dealers funding their drug addiction. The financial cost and resources needed to arrest these people are huge and the result is tens of thousands of users with a permanent criminal record or unnecessary jail time. Most of you who read this will have at one time used illegal drugs so imagine for a minute if you were unlucky enough to get caught. Our treasurer, Wayne Swann, Qld premier, Anna Bligh, Environment minister, Peter Garrett, US presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, US presidential candidate, Barrack Obama, 32 current British MPs(2007) and others have all used illegal drugs but since they weren’t caught, they went on to be the leaders or potential leaders of a country/state. Some might argue that it’s a pity they weren’t caught and denied the chance to be successful but the game of chance is obviously flawed. There’s a lot at risk and many are denied the chance to fulfil a successful life or career but those who do slip through the net and make it, seem awfully quiet about changing the current system.

Friday, 20 June 2008

A Devine Nutter & That Booklet

Not only does a sensible, fact based booklet for students get shredded in a frenzy of moral panic and excessive ignorance but the dangerously stupid Miranda Devine, proves once again how low she will stoop for a story bashing Harm Minimisation. 

In her latest opinion piece, Harm minimisation: just say no, Miranda Devine focusses on the drug education booklet that has caused so much controversy this week. Her articles about drugs are usually flawed with lies, deception and misinformation and get pulled apart every time by people who know the facts. Her latest effort is no different.

Her first example is Anna Wood who died whilst taking ecstasy, although her death was not even due to the drug itself. Devine notes this but slams Dr. Alex Wodak and HM for telling the truth about it. Her example backfires and shows that she considers evidence is less important than perception. Not a good start. This leads into the first of many ridiculous statements: 

“Anna Wood was being co-opted without their permission as a poster girl of the drug harm-minimisation lobby, which has shaped debate about drug use in Australia for 25 years - but is losing credibility as contrary evidence piles up.”

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

Harm Minimisation is not losing credibility at all except in the tiny, nut sized brains of lunatics like Devine. Dr. Alex Wodak, the director of St. Vincent's Hospital's Alcohol and Drug Service wrote to Anna’s parents and wanted them to help spread the word that if Anna had more knowledge about the effects of ecstasy, she may have lived. For Miranda Devine to give the impression that the actual cause of death by overdosing on too much water seems far fetched, when it is the truth, is disgusting.

The main topic of Devines article is the booklet, Choosing To Use, by the Sydney West Area Health Service. It was not only taken from distribution but shredded. This was one of the many knee jerk reactions from the usual suspects - politicians quick to jump on the drug hysteria bandwagon, religious groups and of course, the MSM. 

But signs that the harm-minimisation lobby's influence may be waning came this week when the NSW Health Minister, Reba Meagher, buckled to angry parents and banned a brochure, Choosing To Use, produced by her Sydney West Area Health Service, which advised year 9 and 10 students "how to keep your head together" if they "choose" to experiment with illegal drugs.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

How can a so called Health Minister, react so quickly and just pulp a batch of booklets that were originally approved? I doubt if Reba Meagher even read it. The booklet was fact based and did not encourage drug use at all but rather gave some very basic guidelines on common sense. These 'tips' might just save some lives and if that is a bad point then we really are in a mess. This is the danger of ZT ... people's well being and their lives are secondary to that much hyped up myth of 'sending the wrong message'. Man, how many times has this been trotted out as the main reason to remove the booklet in question instead of actually protecting our children. It is disgraceful that feeling comfortable is more important than kids lives. The booklet though was defended by those with an insight into it’s benefits but denounced by moral elitists, the ignorant and self serving politicians.

"We developed the materials in recognition that drug use and experimental drug use is very prevalent among young people.

We know from ongoing school surveys that up to 50 per cent of young people have experimented with alcohol and illicit drugs by the time they're 16."

-Kevin Hedge, Director - Sydney West Area Health Service / Drug and Alcohol Services

"No, I'm not sorry that we're giving that message and taking that approach," he told the ABC.

"As an educator myself, I've always been of the view that the best education for young people is to give them sufficient information and support and advice so that they themselves can be good decision-makers."

-Trevor Fletcher, Deputy Director-General for Schools - NSW

"The fact is ... every single young person in Sydney, and in fact the whole of Australia, will at some point encounter drugs... We can't avoid that and I believe that they do need education on how to deal with those occurrences."

- Tony Trimingham, Founder - Family Drug Support

S.A. bong shop detective, Ryan Hidden is the latest Zero Tolerance weapon and Devine had no trouble fitting him in to the article. The problem is that Hidden's accounts of HM failing him seem a wee bit dubious, perfect for a dubious article. Hidden recently claimed at the DFA Watch blog: 

Just stumbled upon my name in the above diatribe (who actually reads this?) and want to set the record straight: I am not religious. I don't view drug use as a moral issue, I simply want to prevent others experiencing the trauma and despair I lived as an addict.

-Ryan Hidden. DFA Watch

Paul from DFA Watch produced the evidence that Hidden was all the things he denied. It was hysterical to read reference after reference that Paul dug up.

Hidden’s claims of marijuana addiction isn’t even a recognised condition and his version of HM failing him can be countered by my experience, if we are indeed using personal experience as a replacement for scientific research. 

But he remembers that when he tried to get help to stop his drug use at 16, he came up against the laissez faire attitudes of drug counsellors who would never tell him he needed to stop smoking cannabis. Instead they would say: "Make sure you clean your bong regularly," and suggested he might consider limiting his use to weekends.

-Ryan Hidden. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

Devine treats Hidden’s comments as gospel but a closer look shows a recent trend by the Zero Tolerance nutters to claim that marijuana is addictive but it is not shared by experts. The drug counsellors he talks of know marijuana is not addictive but a dependancy and breaking the cycle would be more effective than trying to stop outright because of relapse. I’m sure there’s more to the proposed strategy but that would diminish the hysteria. 

Finally, Devine trots out her rubbery figures once again. I am dumbfounded how she can continue to deceive her readers with such regularity and not get called in by her employers to explain herself. Her dodgy evidence from her last two articles on drugs were completely flawed and this article is no better. 

Of course, most young people will use alcohol at some time, and we have a hard enough time coping with the harmful consequences. It's legal, available and popular. Most will not use illegal drugs. In fact, cannabis use by 12- to 15-year-olds fell from 15 per cent in 1996 to 6 per cent in 2005, the Australian Secondary School Students' Use of Alcohol and Drug Survey shows.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

In fact over 60% of people WILL use drugs in their life time. Using a small range of 12 - 15 year olds that participated in a school survey where they are constantly told that drug users are the scum of the earth and any use will lead to hell, is misleading. What about 16 - 21 year olds? The “Tough on Drugs” campaign also pushes the Zero Tolerance policy that users will be heavily punished and I’m sure many 12 -15 year olds would be hesitant to put their hand up in that atmosphere.

Yet harm minimisers continue to push for legalisation of the drug even while its popularity wanes and medical evidence mounts of the risks of psychosis and depression. The University of Mississippi this week also found cannabis potency has more than doubled since 1983.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

For someone working in the media, Devine doesn’t keep up to date very much. The potency myth has been exposed as a crock of shit. Even though most knowledgable people already knew this, it took the the State University of New York to publically declare the obvious.

While the drug's potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups.

"Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke," he said

-SMH / The Age (AP)

The links to mental health problems have been wildly exaggerated of late. There is no doubt that those susceptible to or have existing mental health issues have an increased risk of responding badly to cannabis but the chances of serious harm is minimal at best and vastly less dangerous than the effects of alcohol. In fact people working in music venues with loud music also risk mental health problems. As do ambulance workers, doctors, nurses and forensic scientists. I haven’t even touched on powerful legal drugs especially for depression. If a drinker starts having behaviour issues like being violent or has episodes of depression, they are wise to cut back their drinking but Devine & co cannot fathom that a cannabis smoker should do the same. Their frenzied approach dismisses all drug use as dangerous and research just doesn’t back their beliefs. Not that lack of evidence would stop them because they will create their own interpretation as we see again and again. 

Miranda Devine, Ann Bressington, Bill Muehlenberg etc. are to me, some of the most dangerous people in society. They spread fear and lies, ignoring evidence and facts and all for their own personal agendas. Bressington is condemning people to a short, miserable life with HIV/AIDS by encouraging the sharing of the now illegal ‘ice’ pipes that can transfer blood caused by burnt lips. Her 'caring attitudes' is also driving grass smokers to resort to home made bongs and they risk permanent damage to their lungs from the toxic plastics used. Yes, a really caring attitude from a delusional, power mad bogan. Miranda Devine is part of the propaganda campaign that keeps government ministers scared to be labelled ‘soft on drugs’ if they dare question the failed punitive approach. A ploy shameless used by Bressington in the past. Their personal views costs lives and causes misery beyond comprehension. Their scant regard for science and medical based treatment is disgusting especially as they claim to be authorities on such complex issues. Forgive me if I sound critical of the Zero Tolerance crowd but simply put, they have blood on their hands and it upsets me that they prey on people’s suffering as a way to satisfy their own selfish motives.

Related Links

Bad Mood Bubby - Smelly Tongues Blog

Nanny State in Untrammelled Triumph - Kings Cross Times

Youth for DFA biography - DFA Watch

Harm Minimisation: Just Say No - Miranda Devine (SMH)

Education Department in Disarray Over Drug Pamphlet - Daily Telegraph

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Drug Potency Myths & the ABC ... Again!

Another Zero Tolerance/Prohibitionists lie has been exposed.

A recent article reputes the myth that the newer, stronger cannabis (i.e. ‘Skunk’) is now more dangerous than it was because THC levels have increased. It’s amazing simple really ... If cannabis is stronger, you need to use less.  Just like if you need 12 cans of beer to get drunk, you would only need 6 cans with a higher alcohol content. The argument that cannabis is stronger than what our parents used just means less consumption. Myth dispelled, hysteria over, more junk science in the trash. 

And of course there's hash. It's THC levels are not just 9.6% but about 50% and that has been around for as long as I can remember. They conveniently forgot about that.

And what is it with the so called, ‘respectable’ media of late? This is the second time in a few days that the ‘respectable’ Australian media have chopped up a story that dispels some drug/alcohol myths which have bombarded us for the last year or two. Instead of celebrating the truth amongst the mountains of lies, propaganda and drug/alcohol hysteria, some media outlets have been complicit in the shonky practice of cherry picking information and manipulating the public. 

Only last week the ABC joined the ranks of other dodgy media groups with a radio report that was so far from reality that it was scary. They declared that marijuana is no longer a soft drug and a new report proved it. Except the report was a sham that even a Daily Telegraph reader would cringe at. The report claimed that 15 men who smoked over 5 joints a day for 10 years had damage to their brain. And this was the basis on which the ABC reported that cannabis was much more dangerous than we thought. Yeah, it’s hysterical. With that sort of abuse, I am surprised there wasn’t more damage and if anything, the findings proved that it took massive levels of cannabis abuse to cause minimal damage. A joint is about the equivalent of 3-5 bongs which means these stoners were having 18-25 bongs a day! Jeepers, does this sound like the average casual dope smoker. pffft. They were hard core smokers who makes up only a tiny fraction of marijuana users.

Now the ABC has taken an Associated Press article about a press release from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and removed sections that contradict the report. Read the two articles below and you will find that the Fairfax publications have included the whole AP article but the ABC website has edited out important comments from a psychology professor at the State University of New York that proved otherwise. The original article indicates that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have kept up their usual anti-drugs rhetoric and have mislead the public. The ABC though have given the story the completel opposite spin by only including the propaganda that the article disputes. Really sloppy stuff. The ABC article will undoubtedly be used by prohibitionists and the Zero Tolerance twits as evidence for their own selfish causes. The real story though from the SMH and The Age is a huge slap in the face to the propaganda campaigners and will finally put to rest another prohibitionist lie.

Marijuana is very potent and very dangerous stuff. It is a far cry from the mild stuff us hippies in the 60s used to toke on. It is many times more powerful, and extremely dangerous. It is much stronger because of higher THC levels (the “high” producing element of cannabis). With increased potency comes increased health risks.

Because today’s marijuana may be as much as 15 times stronger than that smoked in the 1960s, it is much more dangerous.

-Bill Muehlenberg. Culture Watch

Thankfully, according to a 2007 report by NDARC, the majority of Australians are now more street-wise about the increased potency of present day cannabis.

-Jo Baxter. Drug Free Australia (DFA)

The evidence is that fewer children are even experimenting with cannabis, which is a far more potent drug today than it was when Nimbin's hippies were young.

-Miranda Devine.  Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald / The Age

Drug Potency Doubles

June 12, 2008

Marijuana potency increased last year to the highest level in more than 30 years, posing greater health risks to people who may view the drug as harmless, a new US report says.

The latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 to 2007.

It found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6 per cent last year, compared with 8.75 per cent in 2006.

The 9.6 per cent level represents more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983, when it averaged just under 4 per cent.

"Today's report makes it more important than ever that we get past outdated, anachronistic views of marijuana," said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He cited baby boomer parents who might have misguided notions that the drug contains the weaker potency levels of the 1970s.

"Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people," Walters said. He cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

While the drug's potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups.

"Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke," he said.

The White House office attributed the increases in marijuana potency to sophisticated growing techniques that drug traffickers are using at sites in the United States and Canada.

A report from the office last month found that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed - 25 per cent compared with 12 per cent. The study said marijuana use increased the risk of developing mental disorders by 40 per cent.

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the University of Mississippi study.

"Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction," Dr Volkow said.

But there's no data showing that a higher potency in marijuana leads to more addiction, Dr Earleywine said, and marijuana's withdrawal symptoms are mild at best.

"Mild irritability, craving for marijuana and decreased appetite - I mean those are laughable when you talk about withdrawal from a drug. Caffeine is worse."

The project analysed data on 62,797 cannabis samples, 1302 hashish samples, and 468 hash oil samples obtained primarily from seizures by law enforcement agencies in 48 states since 1975.

ABC News

Pot Potency Climbing Rapidly: US Officials

June 13, 2008

Marijuana sold in the United States today is on average more than twice as strong as it was 25 years ago, increasing the threat of serious mental impairment in users, US drug policy officials say.

The average level of THC - marijuana's psychoactive ingredient - in seized drug samples is 9.6 per cent, compared to just under 4 per cent in 1983, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

And the highest THC level found in a sample of pot measured in recent months was an astounding 37.2 per cent, according to the research from the University of Mississippi's 32-year-old Potency Monitoring Project.

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement.

"Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction; however, more research is needed to establish this link between higher THC potency and higher addiction risk," she said.

White House drug czar John Walters warned that the higher potency make marijuana a greater health threat than in the past.

"Baby boomer parents who still think marijuana is a harmless substance need to look at the facts.

"Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implication in particular for young people, who may be not only at increased risk for various psychological conditions, cognitive deficits and respiratory problems, but are also at significantly higher risk for developing dependency on other drugs."