Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Piers Akerman, His Readers, Oxycodone and The Truth

I was starting to feel optimistic about the future of drug treatment until I made the mistake of reading News.com. I knew as soon as I saw the trashy headline You pay for junkie drug rort that it was not going to be good and as expected, it wasn’t. Just another attempt to alienate drug addicts. Apart from the dog-whistle to the readers that the NHS was subsidising drugs for addicts and the appalling comments there was worse yet to come in the form of Piers Akerman. Akerman followed up the article with his own unique spin on the situation Stop pandering to addicts with taxpayers’ funds. As usual, he managed to divert from the real story about the rise of oxycodone abuse to his own objection to the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) ... which of course included the NSW labor government.
The Daily Telegraph’s shocking disclosure that complicit doctors are assisting drug addicts obtain a taxpayer-subsidised heroin substitute for injection at the NSW State Labor government’s protected shooting gallery is a further argument for closure of the facility and a re-direction of the State’s resources.
-Piers Akerman. Stop pandering to addicts with taxpayers’ funds - News.com

Luckily this sort of journalistic arse gas is just the last remnants of neocons, the religious right and modern conservatives. I assume this sort of rubbish is still printed because it’s popular. But popular with who? If you read the comments section of Akerman’s blog, you will start to notice a pattern. The same group of readers making the same sort of comments. Is this really indicative of the general public’s views or is it like flies gathering around excrement? From some of the comments, I feel it’s the latter.
that's it. time to remove the subsidies for these drugs, time to shut down this failed social experiment, time to tell those greenies and lefties who supported this joke it is over. the use of or purchase or the supply of illicit and illegal drugs is still a valid statute in the Crimes Act. I am sick and tired of my money being wasted on spaced out loons who have no control over their own lives and expect everyone else to pick up the tab. maybe the chinese have the right idea - execute the users and the dealers. certainly save some money thats for sure. if they OD then let them die.
-null of Bankstown

Do you find the above comment offensive? You should but especially with the zealots who encourage this behaviour. I am so sick of braindead, anti-drug crusaders who keep criticising the advancement of medicinal treatments for their own self righteous ideology. For example, Akerman was one of the loud opponents of the ACT heroin trials and has consistently hammered every Harm Minimisation strategy proposed in Australia. There has been great success since then from similar heroin trials overseas but no admission to being wrong from the Michelin Man. His worn out conservative monologue has become his trademark which is incidentally is now regularly used as material for humorous articles in bloggerland. But Akerman is more than just a nattering bullfrog for poking fun at. As I indicated, he has the ear of many gullible Australians who form their views from Akerman’s strange display of logic. When he adds ups 2 + 2 and comes up with 514 as the answer, there are gasps of “ooo” and “ahhh” as the troubled logic hits home to his readers. But although there might only be a certain type of reader who agree with his bizarre take on the world, it may still be enough to help influence a media sensitive Rudd government.

Akerman lives in John Howard’s 1950s fantasy world. In this world there are no drugs or addicts just good old booze. There are no gays or other dysfunctional people, just white Aussie blokes with a wife and 2-3 kids. Reality really upsets Akerman and his disdain for anything out of the normal especially drug addiction is infamous.

Like fellow conservative opinion writers, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair etc., Akerman is woeful at telling the truth. His spin on issues to further the alienation of drug addicts and users might be entertaining but is always far from the facts. In his article, he uses Norway as an example of why the Sydney MSIC should be shut down but it’s disingenuous and a good example of his tactics. The safe injection centre in Norway is like having a MSIC in the middle of Victoria. Safe injection centres only work where there is a concentration of intravenous drug users and this is the model used throughout the world. The Norwegians wanted to trial their own MSIC but it wasn’t financially feasible considering the location of injecting drug users. They did the right thing and closed it down because the scientific trial showed that it was not the right solution considering the demographics. They did not closed it down because of moral issues like Akerman indicates but purely on scientific research data. Akerman has taken this as a failure but neglects to explain the whole situation. Like most anti-drug crusaders, this is their style ... shallow, nasty and sensationalist.
Maintaining addictions and providing refuges for clients of drug syndicates, is not going to help reduce the number of addicts.
Providing mental health services for addicts will.
-Piers Akerman. Stop pandering to addicts with taxpayers’ funds - News.com

Again, he misleads the reader. To reduce the number of addicts was never a priority for the Sydney MSIC as he has been told on hundreds of occasions. Akerman regularly makes claims about Harm Minimisation programs failing by citing unrelated outcomes that weren’t part of the strategy. Instead of celebrating the expansion of options for addicts, Akerman expresses his desire to limit treatments to simple, outdated methods that fit in with his political views. He is dangerous to the advancement of medicine and the people it is trying to help. But like other moral crusaders, he cares not for the well being of others or the betterment of society but for his own selfish agenda.
The black market in oxycodone, a prescription pain killer subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the Repatriation Pharmacuetical Benefits Scheme, is fuelled by greedy doctors and accelerated by the encouragement drug addicts receive from the welcoming staff at the government’s King Cross facility.
-Piers Akerman. Stop pandering to addicts with taxpayers’ funds - News.com

The tiny percentage of drug users who visit the MSIC have no effect on the oxycodone market, what-so-ever. To suggest that the MSIC has anything to do with the increase in the oxycodone black market is farcical at best. Akermans logic is that 8,200 oxycodone injections at the MSIC has “accelerated” the increase in scripts for the drug to 1,630,000 per year, Australia wide. I’m sorry but I don’t know how to respond to this. It’s just too funny.

Who are the people that support Akerman and his views? If you read the comments from the two mentioned articles you will get an idea.
Get tough on medical practitioners who deal. Give the drug addicts one chance to get off it or execute them. End of story.
-Louise of Sydney

lock up all drug users and their suppliers i have no remorse if they are lined up and shoot like terrorist they are the lowest form of life anywhere in the world bashing people in their homes at night and our police force just sit around do nothing while it goes on taking bribes and other forms of payments just to keep drug users on our street to warrant their pay claims
-Eric O'Malley

Heres an idea, don't let ambulance officers or doctors treat drug takers (illegal ones, not those that take drugs for pain), if they overdose, they die. Taking drugs is a choice. Maybe then people will think about their own actions...
-locky of sydney

The level of anger and disregard for fellow humans is scary. Not one supporter of the articles had any basis of fact and they are all just opinions. On the other hand, the only comments that were based on evidence or research were discrediting the articles. This is common fare now for articles by our conservative journalists as they now have to face growing scientific evidence that upsets their selfish little worlds. Like religion having to eventually bow down before science, Akerman & co are doing their best to delay the inevitable. Issues like climate change, dwindling resources and drug addiction treatment can no longer be explained away as lefty ravings because our friend, the scientist puts reality back into our world. As the credibility of Akerman & co. is flushed away into the sewerage pit of self righteous obsession, all that is left is to hide behind their rabid supporters as an excuse to taken seriously.

To prove my point, read what comments were made to my post.

I posted this:
Well said Birdster of Sydney. Drug addiction has only been a problem since 1953 in Australia. Before then, addicts were simply prescribed their drug of addiction until the "addiction cycle" finished. No crime, no overdoses and no prejudice. It was treated as a medical problem unlike today. For those buffoons who make wild assumptions that addicts are just weak, maybe they should spend 10 minutes researching what they are proclaiming as fact. The fact is - drug addiction is a physical problem from birth that cause many people to seek out a replacement for what the body doesn't produce naturally. Yes, you are basing your mindless views on here-say and myths.
-Terry Wright

The responses to my comment:
"The fact is - drug addiction is a physical problem from birth that cause many people to seek out a replacement for what the body doesn't produce naturally." So this is the *fact* based on Terry Wright is it? What a load of nonsense. So the heroin user at the corner is just merely compensating for what the body is not giving him? What about the lady that's addicted to cocaine? You must be dreaming. Drug addicts ARE weak, there's no other explanation. They were weak when they couldn't say no to taking drugs in the first place and now they're too weak to stop their dependency on drugs. Don't blame it on genetics.

Terry Wright what planet are you from. Drug abuse did not start in 1953. There are records of cocaine addiction during the twenties and I suppose the opium dens in the 1800's didn't exist either. Some people were given the drugs in the past because they got their addictions from medical treatments during various wars. As for drugs being needed as a physical replacement for a natural deficiency and it being there since birth. What a crock. They may have a predisposition to addiction, but that is a psycholological one as they are not able to cope with the reality of life. The only ones who are born with an addiction are those whose parents where selfish enough to take drugs when they were in utero, they back up the addiction by showing thier children you need to drug yourself into oblivion to cope with life instead of facing your problems and dealing with them. A good reason why drug addicts should be steralised. Even If you do need to medicate for a chemical imbalance that does not mean doping yourself until you cant move or walking around in another world. Sounds like you are sprouting the typical self justification of a junkie.
-What planet are you from of Sydney

See the irony? My point was that many opinions were from misinformation and not based on facts and the two responses to me were exactly that. These are the masterminds who make Piers Akerman popular.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Shrinking Brains ... Who Cares!

Ice shrinks the brain. Alcohol shrinks the brain. Cannabis shrinks the brain. Even veggies shrink the brain. You probably know that cannabis shrinks the brain because we hear it all the time but what happens when it is reported that a few drinks shrink the brain ... not much it seems.
Brain shrinks even with a glass or two The Australian Adam Cresswell - Health Editor
October 2008 THAT after-work glass of red wine may be less medicinal than you thought: researchers have found that drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol shrinks the brain. Brain volume naturally decreases by nearly 2 per cent per decade as people age, but scientists had speculated that moderate alcohol intake could slow this process, by improving heart function and bloodflow. But US researchers have dealt a blow to that theory, finding a "significant negative linear relationship" between the amount of alcohol someone consumes and the space their brain takes up. [...] The study, which was based on an analysis of drinking habits and brain volume in nearly 2000 US adults between 1999 and 2001, found that while the brains of people who never touched alcohol occupied nearly 78.6 per cent of their cranial space on average, this dropped to about 78.2 per cent in people who previously drank but had since quit, and dropped again, to just under 77.8 per cent, for moderate drinkers. Heavy drinkers were lower still, at 77.2 per cent. [...] "The public health effect of this study gives a clear message about the possible dangers of drinking alcohol," the authors concluded in the study, published yesterday in the Archives of Neurology. "This study suggests that, unlike the associations with cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption does not have any protective effect on brain volume."
Recent research from the US has indicated that even moderate use of alcohol may reduce the size of the brain. Of course it got a run in the papers but missing in action was the usual frenzy from the anti-drug, moral crusaders. Isn’t alcohol a drug? Isn’t it dangerous? In fact it costs Australia about $15.3 billion per annum to clean up after alcohol abuse and along with tobacco is responsible for 95% of drug related harm. Finally our government is addressing this problem but I wonder why the usual crowd of crusty crusaders are not cheering on the attempt to tackle our biggest drug problem? Maybe it’s the wrong government?
ADCA congratulates the Government for making alcohol one of the main health priorities, noting that 95% of drug-related harm is caused by alcohol and tobacco. We look forward to working with State & Territory AOD peak bodies, and Governments to create and implement effective community-based solutions to reduce risky, excessive consumption of alcohol. David Templeman - ADCA Chief Executive Officer
So, what is it with the moral crusaders and alcohol? Why does alcohol receive a pass but other drugs like cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines(ice) get singled out as being dangerous? According to a report in The Lancet, The Academy of Medical Sciences group ranked alcohol at number 5 in the top 10 list of dangerous drugs with amphetamines at number 8. Cannabis and ecstasy didn’t even make the top 10 list. The UK report put deaths from amphetamines(number 8) in the UK at 35 per year, tobacco(number 9) at 114,000 deaths with alcohol(number 5) deaths at 40,000 per year. Cannabis has no recorded deaths. Since alcohol is listed as the fifth most dangerous drug, where does that leave warnings about it’s potential for harm? The previous government was apparently “tough on drugs” but alcohol somehow missed the zero tolerance net.
Alcohol plays an important role in the Australian economy. It generates substantial employment, retail activity, export income and tax revenue. Alcohol also has an important social role... -Government National Alcohol Strategy. May 2006
We all know what happened during alcohol prohibition in the US. It was a complete flop but repeating the same mistakes with drug prohibition is deemed appropriate. Now we have the same problems as alcohol prohibition but only much worse and on a larger scale. Why would these people accept that forcing abstinence on alcohol consumption is impossible yet they support the same approach for other types of drugs?
The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this. -Albert Einstein on prohibition
Most people know that cannabis is relatively harmless if taken in moderation yet governments are relentless at telling us otherwise. Until the Rudd government, the dangers of alcohol were not emphasised proportionately to illicit drugs although it is the major cause of drug related health problems for society.
But by declaring binge drinking to be the nation's most urgent social problem, at a time when alcohol consumption per capita has remained steady for more than a decade, the Prime Minister has provided succour to the illicit drug harm-minimisation lobby, who have always tried to derail attempts to clamp down on drugs such as cannabis by claiming alcohol abuse is a far greater scourge. -Miranda Devine. Sydney Morning Herald - Booze crusade ignores bigger evil
Interestingly, alcohol is also the drug of choice for nearly 100% of politicians.
A new biography on Australia's second-longest serving Prime Minister reveals Mr Howard was deeply affected by his 1989 loss to Andrew Peacock, breaking down in a tearful apology to staff and sometimes drinking too much. "Without the responsibility of a leadership role, Howard would on occasion drink more heavily than he should," the book, John Winston Howard : A Life by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, says. On one occasion, after over-indulging at a farewell dinner for a close friend in 1990, Mr Howard admitted entering the chamber drunk. "I had a couple of South Australian reds ... I remember that night, yes. I can't dispute the story," he told the authors. -Howard: 'I was drunk at work', News.com.au. July 2007
The conclusions of society towards cannabis were made long ago and although there is a current surge towards producing junk science to convince us otherwise, the reality is most dope smokers have no problems what-so-ever which leaves us again laughing off the latest scare tactics as just more drug propaganda.
We have to treat it(cannabis) as an illicit drug as dangerous as heroin, amphetamines or cocaine -Christopher Pyne
For some reason, I can’t picture Chris Pyne saying the same of alcohol. Maybe his brain has shrunk because of all the drinking? Alcohol is also the drug of choice for the right wing media commentators who so regularly tell us how dangerous illicit drugs are. The problem is, they are wrong.
As a society we have sensibly tried to quarantine this human urge to consume mind-altering substances by authorising the time-tried relatively safe substance alcohol and outlawing other drugs. This has been a sensible approach, causing problems for a few and avoiding the potentially socially catastrophic effects of unrestricted drug use. -Miranda Devine. Sydney Morning Herald - Booze crusade ignores bigger evil
But when the spin doesn’t work, you can always resort to pinching the arguments against your cause and modifying it accordingly.
Most teenage binge drinkers will go on to be normal useful citizens. A few will become alcoholics. -Miranda Devine. Sydney Morning Herald - Booze crusade ignores bigger evil
Hey, haven’t I heard that before somewhere? e.g. Most teenage drug users will go on to be normal useful citizens. A few will become drug addicts. It seems that for those whose drug of choice is alcohol, only the risks involved in taking illicit drugs deserve the attention of the public.
Researchers at the Melbourne University's Centre for Adolescent Health who compared the effects of cannabis and alcohol use found overwhelming evidence cannabis was "the drug for life's future losers". -Miranda Devine. Sydney Morning Herald - Booze crusade ignores bigger evil
Back to shrinking brains. Incidentally, there is no evidence that a smaller brain is a problem. Women for example have a much smaller brain than men but have the equivalent processing ability. For all it’s worth, reports of brain shrinkage probably means nothing in reality unless it affects our thinking or memory capacity.
So, does cannabis shrink the brain? No. But recent volumetric analysis of brain structures does show the amygdala and hippocampus volume of long term - that's long term - smokers to be significantly less than non smokers. If this as serious as boxing, alcohol abuse, football concussions, cranial trauma or cycling accidents? Not in a million years. But, it is very good research and has quantified and qualified serious issues related to cannabis use. -God Hates Drug Addicts
That’s the whole point, isn’t it. Brain shrinkage linked to cannabis is from abnormally high, long term use but brain shrinkage from alcohol was from a few drinks or very moderate to low level usage. Surely there’s some hysterical headline there for the moral crusaders to panic us about? Hang on ... it’s only alcohol.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Proud Corporate American

America has 1 in 36 citizens in jail, on parole or on probation. Although it spends more money than any other country on it’s "War on Drugs", it has the highest level of drug use in the world . The health system is arguably the worst in the western world and there is an explosion of drug deaths from the diversion of pharmaceuticals. Coincidentally, all these problems that effect everyday Americans are making more money for US corporations than ever before. So it’s probably no surprise that as the US public starts to wake up to the carnage caused by corporate America, Hollywood is called in to remind the people how good they really have it.
Proud American is a blend of bio-pic, drama, and documentary released by Slowhand Cinema in both conventional 35mm and IMAX format. It features five stories that intend to capture the essence of the American spirit, two of them chronicling the founding of Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola. The film holds the distinction of having obtained additional funding through overt sponsorship of the two companies, as well as MasterCard and American Airlines, whose product placement can be observed throughout the film. The film has not been well-received critically or financially. Opening in 750 theaters, Proud American managed to earn only $96,076, or $128 per venue — the worst for any wide release in the United States since at least 1982. -Wikipedia

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Man, I'm Stoned ... Age

So man has been taking drugs since the stone age. Having progressed to an advanced stage of evolution and being all wise with so much history behind us, we decide using those drugs should be a crime ... and the world turns to shit. It seems to me that whilst humanity has achieved so much, we have learnt so little. 
Tell me again why the religious right, weird journalist and ignorant, selfish politicians make the rules about something they know nothing about?
Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists 20th October 2008 The Western Australian Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting Stone Age man used herbal mixtures to get high. It has long been suspected that humans have an ancient history of drug use, but there has been a lack of proof to support the theory. Now, however, researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes. Quetta Kaye, of University College London, and Scott Fitzpatrick, an archeologist from North Carolina State University, made the breakthrough on the Caribbean island of Carriacou. They found ceramic bowls, as well as tubes for inhaling drug fumes or powders, which appear to have originated in South America between 100BC and 400BC and were then carried 400 miles to the islands. While the use of such paraphernalia for inhaling drugs is well-known, the age of the bowls has thrown new light on how long humans have been taking drugs. Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species. Drugs such as cannabis were not found in the Caribbean then. Opiates can be obtained from species such as poppies, while fungi, which was widespread, may also have been used. Archeologists have suggested that humans were extracting mind-expanding drugs from mescal beans and peyote cacti as far back as 5,000 years ago, but have not found direct evidence that this is true. They consider that drugs were being used to induce spiritual or trance-like states by people who had religious beliefs.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Another Successful Heroin Trial - Canada

Finally, the results are in from the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) enquiry into prescription heroin. Ironically though, it’s a bit of a fizzer. It just told us what has already been proven over and over again ... that prescription heroin is a vastly superior treatment than all other current or proposed programs for heroin addiction.

Canada is just the latest country to produce evidence that prescription heroin is more effective than methadone or abstinence based programs. Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain have all had heroin trials and documented their success. The UK is currently finishing off their own trial which is already indicating similar results. Belgium, Israel, Denmark and other countries have announced they will also be conducting their own trials or have indicated their interest in doing so.

All participants reduced their involvement in crime and their spending on drugs, and all participants had health improvements, but those in the injectable heroin or hydromorphone group saw the greatest improvements overall. 
-Jessica Werb. Health Straight Talk

Many countries will now be in that political quagmire that faced Australia back in the late 1990s. Is it worth risking political points and the inevitable attacks from the anti-everything brigade for implementing the safest and most successful treatment program to tackle heroin addiction? Luckily this time around, Australia won’t have John Howard to override the consensus of the states or fellow politicians but the Rudd government is yet to prove itself in providing an evidence based policy. There has been no clear direction yet from the government except the usual political posturing about being tough on drugs. Rudd did claim that he would support evidence based policies but drug policy doesn’t always follow the usual rules. Is this going to be too much of a stretch for a church going conservative? Are the likes of Drug Free Australia (DFA) and the twats from the MSM going to derail another attempt at treating a medical problem based on science and research?

Results show that North America’s first heroin therapy study keeps patients in treatment, improves their health and reduces illegal activity
North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI Study)

VANCOUVER, BC, October 17, 2008 – Researchers from the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI Study) today released final data on the primary outcomes from the three-year randomized controlled clinical trial.

“Our data show remarkable retention rates and significant improvements in illicit heroin use, illegal activity and health for participants receiving injection assisted therapy, as well as those assigned to optimized methadone maintenance,” says Dr. Martin Schechter, NAOMI’s Principal Investigator, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences and Professor and Director, University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health. “Prior to NAOMI, all of the study participants had not benefited from repeated standard addiction treatments. Society had basically written them off as impossible to treat.”

The data, which was collected from 251 participants at sites in Vancouver and Montreal, demonstrate that a combination of optimized methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) and heroin assisted treatment (HAT) can attract and retain the most difficult-to-reach and the hardest-to-treat individuals who have not been well served by the existing treatment system.

Key findings at the 12-month point of the treatment-phase of the study showed that HAT and MMT achieved high retention rates: 88 per cent and 54 per cent respectively. Illicit heroin use fell by almost 70 per cent. The proportion of participants involved in illegal activity fell by almost half from just over 70 per cent to approximately 36 per cent. Similarly, the number of days of illegal activity and the amount spent on drugs both decreased by almost half. In fact, participants once spending on average $1,500 per month on drugs reported spending between $300-$500 per month by the end of the treatment phase. Marked improvements were also seen in participants’ medical status with scores improving by 27 per cent.

Of particular note amongst the findings, participants receiving hydromorphone (DilaudidTM) instead of heroin on a double-blind basis (neither they nor the researchers knew) did not distinguish this drug from heroin. Moreover, hydromorphone – an opiate licensed for the relief of pain - appeared to be equally effective as heroin, although the study was not designed to test this conclusively. According to the NAOMI Study Investigators, further research could help to confirm these observations, allowing hydromorphone assisted therapy to be made more widely available.

While a comprehensive health economics study is pending, researchers have already determined that the cost of continued treatment is much less than that of relapse.

“We now have evidence to show that heroin-assisted therapy is a safe and effective treatment for people with chronic heroin addiction who have not benefited from previous treatments. A combination of optimal therapies – as delivered in the NAOMI clinics - can attract those most severely addicted to heroin, keep them in treatment and more importantly, help to improve their social and medical conditions,” explains Schechter.

A summary report of the findings and background information on the study are available at: www.naomistudy.ca
NAOMI trial finds heroin more effective than methadone
By Jessica Werb
Health Straight Talk

Heroin-assisted therapy is a safe and highly effective treatment for people with chronic heroin addiction, according to the final data released by the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) today.

The three-year randomized controlled clinical trial, lead by Dr. Martin Schechter of UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, included 251 participants at sites in Vancouver and Montreal. Forty-five percent were given oral methadone, 45 percent were given injectable heroin, and 10 percent were given injectable hydromorphone, an opiate licensed for pain relief.

Those treated with heroin had a retention rate of 88 percent, compared to 54 percent for participants who received optimized methadone maintenance therapy.

Sixty-seven percent of those treated with heroin responded to treatment, compared to 47.7 percent of those treated with methadone.

Illicit heroin use declined in all patients, but was declined most sharply among those treated with injectable heroin or hydromorphone.

All participants reduced their involvement in crime and their spending on drugs, and all participants had health improvements, but those in the injectable heroin or hydromorphone group saw the greatest improvements overall.

The study also found that participants receiving hydromorphone did not distinguish it from heroin, and that it appeared as effective in treatment as heroin. However, researchers noted that the study was not designed to test this conclusively.

Given their less-than-enthusiastic reaction to InSite, I wonder how Stephen Harper and the RCMP are going to react to these findings?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Are US Drug Czar Lies Driving Our Anti-Drug Crusaders?

Many Australian anti-drug zealots want us to follow the lead from the US and Sweden on drug policy. Considering the US spend about $69,000 million dollars a year fighting drug use yet have the highest level of drug usage in the world, you have wonder why.
Looking to the U.S. as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid South Africa for how to deal with race. -Ethan Nadelmann. Executive Director - Drug Policy Alliance
Australian anti-drug organisations and commentators often refer to the US government’s, The Office of National Drug Control Policy (White House drug czar's office) for proof that “tough on drugs” type policies are working towards their ideal of a drug free world. They regularly ignore the numerous reports that show how much of a failure US drug policy is but wave about the latest findings from the White House drug czar's office as gospel. The problem is the credibility of their source. It was the White House drug czar's office that:
  • Said about The Netherlands, “its streets are cluttered with junkies.” because of their relaxation of cannabis laws.
  • Labeled Dutch drug policy an "unmitigated disaster citing completely incorrect data (which he later had to apologise for after an official complaint from the Dutch government)
  • Bought off the media for their anti-drug advertising campaigns. [link]
  • Denied needle exchange programs and other Harm Reduction strategies [link]
  • Backed the scientifically discredited DARE education program even after research showed it actually encouraged drug use, not stopped it.
  • Falsely claimed “Today's users, confront pot that's up to 30 times stronger than what aging baby boomers smoked.”
Then I find an article that cuts into the very heart of the propaganda used by Australian anti-drug bullshitters. It’s more evidence that the White House drug czar's office fudge their figures but I wonder if this will simply be overlooked.
Drug Czar Fails Spectacularly at Cutting Marijuana Consumption By Bruce Mirken AlterNet October 2008 The White House drug czar's office, aka the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has been claiming loudly and frequently for several years now that its aggressive anti-marijuana campaign has been a rousing success. As deputy ONDCP director Scott Burns put it in a recent California newspaper interview, "drug use is down in the United States dramatically since 2001 by every barometer and indicator that we use. ... Twenty-four percent reduction in marijuana use by young people 12 to 18 years old." Uh, not quite. In fact, the major U.S. government study of drug use, the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, shows that the drug czar's office has badly failed to meet its own goals for reducing use of marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a pair of new reports by George Mason University senior fellow Jon Gettman, Ph.D. In addition, ONDCP and drug czar John Walters have misused treatment statistics to suggest that marijuana is dangerously addictive when the government's own data suggest that arrest-driven treatment admissions have wasted tax dollars by treating thousands who were not truly drug-dependent. During Walters' tenure, ONDCP has released at least 127 separate anti-marijuana TV, radio and print ads and 34 press releases focused mainly on marijuana, in addition to 50 reports from ONDCP and other federal agencies on marijuana or anti-marijuana campaigns. Beyond doubt, this anti-marijuana blitz -- coupled with record marijuana arrests year after year, to the point where in 2007 an American was arrested on marijuana charges every 36 seconds -- constitutes the most intense war on marijuana since "Reefer Madness." Gettman, who made international headlines in December 2006 with an analysis showing that marijuana is the top cash crop in the United States, catalogues the failures in detail. In 2007 there were 14.5 million current users of marijuana in the United States, compared with 14.6 million in 2002, while the number of Americans who have ever used marijuana actually increased. ONDCP has not even come close to meeting its goal of reducing illegal drug use by 25 percent by 2007 in any age group. In fact, among adults, overall illegal drug use actually increased 4.7% from 2002 to 2007. Teen marijuana use is down a bit but still remains common: One in nine (12 percent) 14- and 15-year-olds and one in four (23.7 percent) 16- and 17-year-olds used marijuana in 2007. Walters loves to cite increases in marijuana treatment admissions as proof that marijuana is addictive and dangerous. But Gettman's analysis of data from the government's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) shows that the percentage of marijuana treatment admissions referred by the criminal justice system jumped from 48% to 58% from 1992 to 2006. In other words, most of the increase in treatment admissions was driven by people being arrested and offered treatment instead of jail. Strikingly, just 45 percent of marijuana admissions met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for marijuana dependence. Also arguing against claims that treatment admissions reflect dangerously addictive "pot 2.0" (yes, some officials have actually used that phrase, and some in the press have repeated it as if it meant something) is the fact that, as Gettman notes, "Use of residential detox -- a clear sign of a serious addiction problem -- is used for 24% of heroin admissions and 21% of alcohol admissions, but just 2% of marijuana admissions." Gettman's bottom line on those treatment stats is simple and depressing: "Increases in drug treatment admissions for marijuana, often cited by officials as evidence that marijuana is dangerously addictive, are driven by criminal justice policies rather than medical diagnosis. These policies increase public costs for providing drug treatment services and reduce funds for and availability of treatment of more serious drug problems." This is your government on drugs.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Politicisation of Science

One of the main problems with society is the political system. It was while I was watching an interview with John Howard many years ago that it struck me how politics had taken a new turn. Howard said in an interview that the most important issue in Australia was the liberal party winning the upcoming election and they needed to focus all their efforts on achieving that win. Although it’s probably true for most politicians, I had never publicly heard this before. It had always been Australia’s future or the like that was a precursor for winning an election, not simply the need to win. By being able to openly say this in public, is it any surprise that more and more fundamentals of society would become political fodder in the quest to win an election? Those days are gone where politicians needed to appear logical. No longer did they take directions from facts, public needs or science. Basic freedoms were replaced by national security and the politics of fear. Common sense was replaced with idealism and patriotism. Science and medicine were replaced with religion and so called ‘family values’. Howard went on as PM for 3 terms over 11 and a half years. One of his profound contributions to science was silencing NGOs and government research organisations that had conflicting views to the official government spin. Research and facts became secondary to government policy and those who dared release conflicting data were faced with losing government funding. This led to the rise of groups like Drug Free Australia (DFA) whose sole purpose was to push the government’s own agenda that would normally be criticised by proper research groups. DFA were supporters of the US model that wouldn’t allow federal funding for programs that conflicted with modern christian ideology like safe sex education and needle exchanges. With most opponents now silenced in Australia, Howard had the opportunity to completely remove conflicting science from drug policy and the next step was to produce his own “research” which came via the Bishop Report - “The Winnable War on Drugs”. Luckily Howard was booted from office and the Bishop Report was doomed to bottom of the rubbish bin. Scarily, Howard had came so close to achieving the unthinkable and nearly implemented a non medical solution to a medical problem based on politics and moral/religious ideology. In the US, healthcare is an example of how medicine has become so politicised that it’s actual purpose has been overlooked and instead has become a political hot potato about socialism vs. right wing ideology. But science/medicine has been heavily politicised in nearly every country - abortion, nuclear power, alternative energy, mental health, creationism in science class etc. The two prime examples that stand out are climate change and drug policy. Both issues have been taken out of the scientific arena by the right because a pragmatic solution might upset their corporate interests or encroach on their safe, pseudo religious ‘family values’ ideology. Taking advantage of an upcoming election, a group of renown professors in Canada decided that they should write a letter to the major political parties and voice their concern. The politicisation of science had cost millions of lives worldwide and was risking the future of our planet. But can a group of experts actually get through to the decision makers? The letter is a real eye opener when you look at the content and you may start to realise how backward mankind has slipped considering how far we have progress scientifically.
Dear Sirs and Madam: We are a group of concerned scientists writing to call for the end to the politicization of science and related due processes in Canada. Below we highlight some recent examples of the mistreatment of science in Canada: • The closing of the Office of the National Science Advisor 1 • The misrepresentation of climate change science 1, 2 • The muzzling of Environment Canada scientists 3 4 • The cuts to and reorganizing of the Canadian Wildlife Service 5 • The political appointments to the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada 6 • The halting of the Prison Tattoo Pilot Study and the suppression of the results of this study 7 • The firing of the Head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission 8 • The suppression and misrepresentation of research related to Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site 9-11 The above represent blatant examples of instances when: • Systems developed to provide non-partisan scientific advice were undermined, interfered with, or dismantled for political reasons; • Science was interrupted, suppressed and distorted for political reasons; • Scientific uncertainty was manufactured in instances where none existed; • Reputable scientists were attacked because the results of their work were unpopular or inconsistent with the views of political parties; While science is not the only factor to be considered in political decision-making, ignoring and subverting science and scientific processes is unacceptable. In light of these concerns, we are calling on all political leaders to articulate how they will work to improve Canada’s track record with respect to the treatment of science and related due processes. Yours truly, Canadian Scientists Against the Politicization of Science Encl.: Name List of Signatories References: 1. Science in retreat. Nature 2008;451(7181):866. 2. Smith C. Climate scientist claims Stephen Harper's government has muzzled experts. The Georgia Straight 2008 September 25th, 2008. 3. Munro M. Environment Canada scientist told to toe the line. National Post 2008 January 31, 2008. 4. CBC News. Minister stops book talk by Environment Canada Scientist. 2006 April 6, 2006. 5. Reuters. Canada slashes spending on wildlife protection: CBC. 2007 September 19th, 2007. 6. Hebert PC, Attaran A. A plea for transparency in Canada's "new government". CMAJ 2007;176(5):601, 603. 7. Kondro W. Prison tattoo program wasn't given enough time. CMAJ 2007;176(3):307-8. 8. Curry B. Fired watchdog quits nuclear board. Globe and Mail 2008 September 23, 2008. 9. Wood E, Kerr T, Tyndall MW, Montaner JS. The Canadian government's treatment of scientific process and evidence: inside the evaluation of North America's first supervised injecting facility. Int J Drug Policy 2008;19(3):220-5. 10. Wodak A. Going soft on evidence and due process: Canada adopts US style harm maximization. Int J Drug Policy 2008;19(3):226-8; discussion 233-4. 11. Kerr T, Wood E. Misrepresentation of science undermines HIV prevention. CMAJ 2008;178(7):964. Sent to: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC, MP Prime Minister of Canada The Honourable Stéphane Dion, PC, MP Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition Mr. Gilles Duceppe, MP Leader of the Bloc Québécois Mr. Jack Layton, MP Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada Ms. Elizabeth May Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Below is an article from Canadian Medicine. Canadian Medicine is the editors' news blog of Parkhurst Exchange, a monthly medical magazine based in Montreal, Canada.
Canadian researchers demand end to political interference Canadian Medicine Two can play at this game, it seems. Medical researchers and scientists upset by the "politicization of science" in Canada have decided to turn the tables by interjecting themselves into the political scene as the October 14 federal election draws near. A petition protesting the "recent mistreatment" of scientific research will be sent to all major federal political party leaders in the coming days, Canadian Medicine has learned. The petition was drafted by a group of doctors and researchers that has routinely butted heads with Stephen Harper's Conservative government over the last two and a half years: Julio Montaner (above), Thomas Kerr and Evan Wood. Dr Montaner has become an academic of worldwide renown as the recently appointed president of the International AIDS Society. The three men are all professors of medicine at the University of British Columbia, but they are best known for their roles at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, which under their leadership has produced some of the world's top medical research on supervised-injection sites, focusing largely on the downtown Vancouver facility Insite. Insite has served as a flashpoint for the conflict between the Conservative government and scientists. Despite overwhelming evidence of Insite's benefits, the government withdrew funding and then fought a battle in court earlier this year to attempt to establish jurisdiction over the project so that it could shut it down. The attempt failed when a BC judge ruled that the federal government was not within its rights. Soon after that, Health Minister Tony Clement -- who asked the attorney general to appeal the BC decision -- went on the offensive, drawing considerable opposition from the medical community when he questioned the ethics of physicians who support supervised-injection. The conflict over Insite is not the only complaint the petition mentions. Others include: "the closing of the office of the National Science Advisor" "the misrepresentation of climate change science" "the muzzling of Environment Canada scientists" "the political appointments to the Board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada" "the cuts to and reorganizing of the Canadian Wildlife Service" "the halting of the Prison-based Tattoo Pilot Study" In a letter dated October 6, addressed to "friends and colleagues," Drs Montaner, Kerr and Wood write: In light of our concerns we have prepared a letter addressed to the leaders of the federal political parties and have asked them to make clear the action they are prepared to take to end the politicization of science in Canada. We are inviting you to become a signatory to this letter. We will send this letter to all major media outlets in the coming days.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Another Avoidable and Senseless Death

We are so lucky to have a moral conscience in this country. You know, those moral crusaders who want to be tough on drugs and damn the consequesnces . Who cares why people take drugs, it’s illegal and immoral and that’s what counts. Think of the children who will be given the wrong message if we go soft on drugs. Well they have succeeded. The message has got through and the result is yet another shattered family at the death of a young family member. The message was clear and precise ... if you use drugs, the cops are going to get you and your arse is toast. You will get no sympathy for your actions and you will face the wrath of the law, the public and your peers. Melanie Boyd’s friends had probably heard this often and they reacted just like you would expect. Now Melanie Boyd is dead and this avoidable death is again, the direct result of of our loud and obnoxious moral conscience. What were the first thoughts of these young people when they discovered people convulsing? It wasn’t what we hoped, for that had been drummed out of them and replaced with the loud voices of the moral conscience crusaders. The fact they even discussed what to do showed common sense and humanity being over ridden with guilt and fear, the perfect weapons for the tough on drugs rhetoric. Now we have a family in mourning unable to forgive these kids who themselves will probably never be able to forget what happened. I just want to know if the Devines and Akermans of the media, the Baxter’s and Bressingtons of the anti-drug brigade, the Pynes and the Bishops of politics are ever going to be held accountable for their foolish, irresponsible behaviour? It’s their voices that our young hear as they are confronted with reality and if ever someone was sending the wrong message, this is it. Coincidentally, Harm Minimisation is criticised most by these moral crusaders which is the very thing that would have saved Melanie Boyd. I need to know why these kids weren’t taught to get help first then worry about the consequences. I need to know why we have allowed our young to even hesitate for a second before calling an ambulance because of a drug overdose. I need to know why education material like the “Choosing to use” booklet is shredded yet it’s message saves lives. Like WW1, the bodies are mounting yet the call is to keep going. From afar the real situation is obscured by fallacious and selfish ideology with little consideration for the victims. It’s so easy to give orders when you are not in the line of fire and you’re driven by the inexorable need to be right. Is the selfish quest for whatever bizarre ideology these people have more important than our kids lives? We know the answer to this but apparently the moral crusaders doesn’t.
Melanie Boyd Wanted to Call for Help at Townsville Pharm Party -Partygoers More Worried About Involving Police By Peter Michael news.com October 2008 TEENAGER Melanie Boyd begged her friends to call for help after taking a lethal cocktail of booze and drugs, an inquest was told. But by the time an ambulance was called, three hours after she was found "blue" and "struggling to breathe", the popular Townsville private schoolgirl, 16, was dead. In a tearful apology yesterday, Matthew Aubrey, 20, told an inquest into her June 2006 death that the first-time drug taker wanted to call for help when two fellow drug users at the "pharm party" fell into fits of convulsions. "Mel had a phone, she said if it's happened to them I don't want this to happen to me," Mr Aubrey told the Townsville Coroner's Court. But the six partygoers talked each other out of calling for an ambulance - because they did not want to involve the police. "It was not my party, not my house, not my call," said the youth, who was 18 at the time and the oldest at the party. "Knowing what I know now, I wish I was smarter." Parents Laurie and Julie Boyd angrily refused to accept his emotional plea for forgiveness as well as that of the teenage girl who supplied the drugs and hosted the beachfront house party. "We thought we were invincible," said the girl, whose identity has been suppressed by the court. She said she had not touched drugs since that fateful party. "It scared me straight. "I'm sorry it took something this catastrophic to make me realise how precious life is." "I think we thought we were better and it would not happen to us." Coroner Brian Smith presiding over the inquest heard "pharm parties", mixing alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills, had become popular among the nation's youth. In a twist, it emerged that the girls who snorted lines of a white powder, popped up to eight anti-depressants and pain killers, and slammed shots of rum had not taken speed, or crystal meth, as believed by police. "I told them (the other girls) it was speed. I wanted to be cool, I wanted to be accepted," the girl said. She said she emptied the contents of an unknown capsule into a bag which they divided up into lines, before raiding her mother's drug cabinet for blue and orange pills. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of Mel and wish it had all never happened," she said.
Related Artilces:Avoidable and Senseless Death

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Tobacco Tax Increase Hurts The Poor

A cigarette price increase to fund smoking prevention programs sounds like a good idea. . . . That is unless you're poor.
There currently is a call for a tobacco tax increase to be used to fund more smoking prevention initiatives. A proposed rise of 2.5¢ a cigarette would push a pack of 40s up another $1 and is hopefully going to reduce smoking by 2.6 per cent. This equates to about 50,000 less smokers and $400 million dollars in addition revenue. It sounds like a win-win situation by lowering the amount of smokers and providing more funds for anti-smoking campaigns. But there are some nasty holes in this strategy. Smoking costs the community $31 billion dollars every year which makes $400 million dollars seem a little insignificant . The real problem though is, who are the people who won't quit despite the price rise. For those who earn an average wage, it won’t matter too much but those who are less fortunate, it will hit hard ... very hard. Monetary penalties are biased and for people who have a good income, it offers little incentive to abide by whatever rules they are are penalised for. We see it intrenched in our society like parking fines, court fines, tax penalties etc. For example, if you are in court and can afford expensive legal representation, you have a greater chance of getting off. That leaves those who can’t afford to ‘buy’ off their conviction and are stuck with budget solicitors. What about speeding fines? If your in a hurry, why would a few hundred dollars worry you if you’re on your way to meeting where you could earn thousands of dollars? Being in a hurry to drop off the kids to your grandparents so you can make it in time to that part time cleaning job is not worth your week’s pay for a speeding fine. Monetary penalties are not relative to your wealth.
We all know smoking is wrong and those who smoke are evil, weak and decadent. Luckily we have someone to guides them away from their wicked ways. Addiction is just an excuse. -The ideology of government anti-smoking programs
Smokers are addicts. Very simple to understand but what’s harder to grasp are the levels of addiction and the addict's situation. A financially secure tobacco addict can simply keep smoking if their addiction is bad enough. But what if you can’t afford it? The calls for an increase in tobacco excise, like most policies regarding addiction, is based on wishful thinking. Addiction can cause those with less disposable income to act completely different to our expectations and when faced with price increases will often accommodate the increase by missing out on something else. Instead of fresh healthy food, they might buy cheaper alternatives. If they need new shoes for their kids, they might keep them wearing them for a few more months. The car needs new tires? That can wait until next year. Simply increasing the cost of something is a broad remedy to discourage use. We see it in the way a tighter monetary policy is used to control inflation. We see it with alcohol being priced out of the reach of heavy drinkers. It might achieve some of it’s intended outcomes but the cost to some is far greater. It is a lazy way to achieve results and requires some spin to get support.
"With rising costs in food, petrol and housing, tobacco is now relatively inexpensive'' -Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie
Relatively inexpensive! Smoking is about 10-20% of a household budget for low income earners, about the same as food. Increasing the price of tobacco will have a profound effect on these budgets and absurd comments from anti-smoking groups show they care very little for people but more for statistics and numbers. Like most drug related programs, financially challenged and the worst effected lose out by broad, disproportional strategies. Strategies that give great headlines and target the easily converted. Of course there is never an analyses of who doesn’t quit smoking and how it effects them but plenty of back slapping at the many who have been rescued from their evil ways. The call for proper analysis is raised every time a “price increase” strategy is put on the table but it gets approved very quickly to avoid full scrutiny.
"With tobacco costing the Australian community $31.5 billion every year, it is essential proven tobacco control strategies, including tax increase, are put into place as soon as possible ...'' -Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie
We have just seen “Alcopops” receive a huge tax increase in an effort to stem “binge drinking” of teenage girls. While it is generally taboo to criticise any effort to reduce smoking levels, alcohol strategies do face scrutiny. This latest “price increase” strategy for “Alcopops” has come under criticism for lack of research, not being effective and for disproportionately effecting the less fortunate compared to average wage earners. I wonder why those same people are basically ignored when it comes to tobacco.
[Article Bumped up from May]

Monday, 6 October 2008

Diary: Avoidable and Senseless Death

DIARY: My step-niece died last week from a heroin overdose. She leaves behind her young daughter, her partner, family and friends. Although I wasn’t close with Kelly, her death did hurt people around me. This is the hardest part of any death. What drives me crazy though is that her death was unnecessary. The pain I am witnessing from her family was avoidable but still the politicians rumble along with policies that ignore deaths like this. This is going to change the life of her family forever especially her mother who I know very well. I am always going to see a broken woman from now on. Her pain or Kelly’s death though, will not effect the lives of those who set the foundations for this event to take place or those who support that we further alienate addicts. Even as I write this, I received another email from Jo Baxter of DFA on the ANCD email forum pushing her selfish agenda that was the basis of Kelly’s death. Ironic? Kelly was trying to get clean from heroin so she could have her child returned to her. After a rash decision to use heroin, she took her usual dose which was somewhat stronger than she was used to. After being clean for several months, her normal dose was too strong for her but it was the random extra strength that killed her. Added to this, she was alone because she was shameful of her use. She has been told repeatedly that she was a disgusting junkie for being addicted to heroin so rather than have someone around to make sure she was safe, she did the opposite and hid from everyone. Kelly’s partner found her slumped in a chair in the lounge room without life. Being a non user, he must be wondering why his loved one felt it necessary to purchase her drug of addiction from some criminal in a back alley which ultimately killed her. He must be confused why she even needed it. If someone who lives with an addict can’t understand, how do the politicians and lawmakers who ignore the advice from addiction experts understand? I suppose, dead people don’t vote. How can we as a society refuse to acknowledge that addiction is much stronger than a simple desire to quit. How many people have to die before politicians, moral crusaders and the likes of Jo Baxter/DFA stop pushing their selfish agenda on us all and cease their fantasy of a drug free world? When will reality and facts start to protect our loved ones from something as powerful as addiction? These are questions that have been burned onto the minds of Kelly’s family but for them it is too late. I hope the bastards who make these draconian policies and the supporters are happy with their result. R.I.P. Kelly.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What About The Average Dope Smoker?

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) are really starting to gain a reputation as another bunch of quacks pushing their own brand of junk science onto the community. And The Australian is the perfect vehicle to publish their crap. As usual, these organisations rely on a tiny fraction of the group they target and somehow make them the representatives of the whole group. Why can’t some organisation come out with a rational, evidence based report that states the upside to cannabis use? Why the doom and gloom when we should be celebrating the fact that something as popular as cannabis is not damaging society like alcohol. Surely it’s good news that only a tiny percentage of cannabis users are harmed and it’s those who overuse the drug that have the problems. Just for once, I would love to see the headline, “Latest Research Shows Recreational Cannabis Use Is OK” with an explanation that heavy use, like heavy use of anything, will cause problems. I suppose that wouldn’t suit their agenda though or sell newspapers.
Depression, psychosis strike dope smokers The Australian September 2008 CANNABIS smokers are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and psychosis than those people who take stimulants, according to Australian statistics suggesting the drug's toll on mental health has been underestimated. The impact of amphetamines on mental state is well known but a new national report shows dope smokers display higher rates of several psychological symptoms when visiting their doctor. Of patients who mentioned cannabis use to their GP, 48 per cent had a psychological problem, including 19 per cent with depression and 9 per cent with psychosis. Six per cent had anxiety. Only 31 per cent of stimulant users reported similar problems, with significantly lower rates of all conditions, according to the latest bulletin released by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre in Sydney. Centre director Jan Copeland said the results confirmed the dangers of the drug, especially for the reported 300,000 Australians who smoked it daily. "It was unexpected, given what we hear about amphetamine-related psychotic symptoms, but it goes to show what a terrible impact cannabis is having on users," Professor Copeland said. "The delusions, hallucinations and paranoia can be very distressing and people are feeling it." The results, in data collected from 1000 randomly selected GPs, also revealed that mentioning cannabis use to a doctor was very rare, with the drug named in just 19,000 consultations nationwide each year. Users were more likely to be male, young, unemployed or on a low income and indigenous.
Reread the last paragraph:
The results, in data collected from 1000 randomly selected GPs, also revealed that mentioning cannabis use to a doctor was very rare, with the drug named in just 19,000 consultations nationwide each year. Users were more likely to be male, young, unemployed or on a low income and indigenous.
Have they even considered that patients don’t mention cannabis to their doctors because it isn’t a problem for them? Those that do mention cannabis probably do have a problem and require help but this just reinforces what many experts have been saying for years ... recreational cannabis use is relatively harmless. Even the director of NCPIC agrees:
As with most drugs, most people do not experience major problems with occasional cannabis use. But for those that use regularly or heavily, problems can be major and have a significant negative impact on their lives. -Professor Jan Copeland - National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC)
And this from their website:
There are a range of health and social harms associated with cannabis use. Not everyone who uses the drug will experience great problems, but for those that do, cannabis can affect their life in a very negative way. -NCPIC website
I wonder why this quote isn’t a headline in the Murdoch papers? One of the great equalisers is the question:
Where are the bodies? -Michael Gormly - Kings Cross Times.
Yes, if cannabis is so dangerous and so many people smoke it world wide, why are the institutions not full of cannabis inflicted patients? There is a simple answer to this and one that is avoided at all costs by the anti-cannabis zealots. Answer: Recreational cannabis use is not harmful. The objectivity of research from NCPIC and co. needs to be examined for practicality in the real world. it seems there are daily reports coming out about the harms of cannabis but still that question cannot be answered ... where are the bodies? Norman Swan, host of The Health Report on the ABC probed into this issue indirectly and interviewed Professor John Ioannidis from Tufts University in Boston about his paper, 'Why Most Published Research Findings Are False'. One of the interesting conclusion was that if you have an agenda in mind, you can produce a lot of supporting statistics but when applied to the real world, they have no effect. The other interesting conclusion was that new, breakthrough research with no supporting history (i.e. most cannabis users get psychosis) is usually dismissed fairly quickly and cannot be proved in a clinical environment. On the other hand, research based on many prior reports (i.e. cannabis is fairly safe), has much more legitimacy because it has been proven in the physical world previously. We will continue to be bombarded with alarming new research from those with an agenda and media outlets like The Australian will continue to print them. In the end though, the truth always wins out. So once again, where are the bodies?