Saturday, 30 May 2009

Germany Passes Prescription Heroin into Law

For years Germany has endured criticism and warnings about their heroin trials from the outdated International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yesterday, the German parliament essentially snubbed the warnings and voted to include heroin assisted treatment (HAT) as part of their official drug policy. Since the INCB condemns drug addiction and expressly forbids HAT, Germany had to previously conduct their heroin trials using a special clause for scientific research. Article 4 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugsrequires nations to limit use and possession of drugs to medicinal and scientific purposes”. It’s the same clause that the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has had to operate under for the last 10 years. All of the countries conducting heroin trials or with MSIC programs have come under relentless criticism from UNODC and the INCB including threats. Australia backed out of a heroin trial after US diplomats and the INCB threatened the Tasmania poppy industry. Luckily for many European countries, the UN/US do not have any bargaining chips to threaten them with. Recently, Switzerland and Denmark both ignored the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and passed HAT into law. Now Germany has joined them.

Is this the beginning of the end for the US/UN dominance over worldwide drug policies? Will this lead to Canada and Spain - who had very successful heroin trials - to establish HAT at the risk of upsetting the US/UN? What about Australia? What about the UK who already have the capacity to prescribe heroin to addicts and are currently finishing off a very successful heroin trial? Will common sense, evidence based research and this growing trend finally tip over the various governments who have considered HAT? With HAT now showing more success than abstinence only treatment, methadone, buprenorphine and Suboxone for long term users, it’s going to be hard for governments to reject. That’s the theory anyway.

German Addicts To Get Synthetic Heroin As Prescription Drug

Earth News

May 2009

Berlin - Long-term drug addicts in Germany will soon be able to obtain synthetic heroin on prescription, under a new law approved by parliament on Thursday. Thousands of addicts are expected to benefit from the legislation reclassifying diamorphine as a legally prescribed controlled drug.

Under the terms of the law, addicts aged 23 or older will be able to obtain diamorphine on prescription at special centres and take it under the supervision of trained personnel.

The programme will apply only to people addicted to opiates for more than 5 years who have unsuccessfully taken parts in rehab programmes at least twice.

The legislation follows a pilot project conducted on more than 1,000 addicts in seven German cities between 2002-2006.

The study showed the health of addicts who took diamorphine improved more frequently than it did for those treated with the heroin substitute methadone.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative, who opposed the legislation, warned that up to 80,000 addicts could take advantage of the new scheme, while drug experts put the figure at 2,000 to 3,000.

Related Articles:

What Does Prescription Heroin Really Mean for Junkies?

Another Successful Heroin Trial - Canada

Prescribed Heroin Project 'Promising'

Heroin Assisted Treatment Winning Approval in Europe

Denmark - More Prescription Heroin Programs for Addicts

Who Supports a Heroin Trial?

All articles on prescription heroin

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Miranda Devine Vs. Reality

Miranda Devine Going Ape Shit
What is it with Miranda Devine and reality? Is she really that far detached from the real world? Every time the Sydney Morning Herald publishes her ramblings about illicit drugs, the more obvious the answer becomes. Every drug related article by Devine that I have read reeks of ultra conservative ideology and is hellbent on pushing the "War on Drugs" mentality. This is not some concerned citizen nobly defending society from drug crazed junkies but a hardcore zealot using deceit and the media to pursue her ultra right wing views. Most worrying is that she is free to proselytise her flimsy views via a national platform like the Sydney Morning Herald. Considering her conservative, apocryphal articles and the quality of her information, it’s surprising that that her rants are not under the corporate umbrella of News Ltd.

And where does she get her information from? In her latest article, Addicts Say Abstinence Sets Them Free, Devine once again, takes deceit to a whole new level. The assumptions are brain chilling and much of her information is simply wrong. For example, Cabramatta police turning a blind eye to drug dealers? Very few options for addicts apart from Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) like methadone? Abstinence is a dirty word in the AOD treatment industry? The biggest advocates for drug prohibition are former addicts? An addict’s last hope is naltrexone implants? The “methadone industry” benefits greatly from a large number of patients? Nearly every point Devine makes is a fantasy dreamt up to support the “drug free world” illusion. This is not worthy of publication in Mad Magazine let alone the Sydney Morning Herald.
Devine argues that Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) like methadone is evil and abstinence only programs are unfairly being ignored by a greedy, self serving “methadone industry”. The attack includes her old favourites, Harm Minimisation and the NSW government whilst flying the flag for the "War on Drugs". It’s standard fare for Miranda Devine.
But abstinence has no place in the curiously monocultural drug and alcohol world of NSW
-Addicts Say Abstinence Sets Them Free by Miranda Devine - Sydney Morning Herald
So what is the basis for Devine's article? Believe it or not, it’s a few recovering drug addicts who disagree with the mainstream. Three out of hundreds of thousands who have benefited from OST, declare they were not happy being on methadone and buprenorphine. I know first hand that methadone or buprenorphine is not for everyone but that’s not unusual for any medication or treatment. But the facts speak for themselves. Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) is the most successful treatment we have readily available for opiate addiction. That’s not to say that abstinence only treatment doesn’t have a place in recovery but unless an addict is 100% ready to quit, it’s pointless. Devine's solution is naltrexone implants. Whilst implanting naltrexone is fine for some, pushing patients into this treatment has shown to have dire consequences including death. Devine and co. feel that being totally drug free should be the only goal of drug treatment including programs like the Narcotics Anonymous(NA) 12 steps program, drug free detox centres and of course naltrexone implants. But this model of abstinence only treatment has really only been mainstream since prohibition where before that, the actual drug of addiction was prescribed to the addict until they were ready to quit. It seemed to work very well until the conservative, religious loonies got involved. Now many decades on and with a world where abstinence treatments compete heavily for the this lucrative market, addiction rates remain as they were a hundred years ago when they first stared recording these statistics. The big difference is the number of relapsing patients thanks to abstinence only programs.
Reuben, too, was prescribed methadone when he sought help for his addiction. He was given no other option but to accept addiction for life, a slave every day to the methadone clinic he hated.
-Addicts Say Abstinence Sets Them Free by Miranda Devine - Sydney Morning Herald
It’s difficult to examine the example addicts in Devine's article without knowing more details. The story of Sam being put on buprenorphine appears inappropriate but ironically, once out of jail he was back on heroin. Both Sam and Rueben have only been clean for less than 8 months which is way too early to examine their success. The real danger comes when their naltrexone implants stop working and they relapse. With no tolerance to opiates, even a tiny dose of heroin will kill them. But that’s not important. What counts to Devine and co. is that these addicts are now clean and whether they relapse and die doesn’t matter.
Three grumpy, recovering heroin addicts does not compete with the success of OST. Methadone Maintenance Treatment(MMT) was never meant to be a cure for heroin addiction but a way to stabilise a patient’s life. It removed the insatiable need to feed their addiction every day which often involved crime. It allows time to re access priorities and slide back into society giving addicts the chance to work and function like everyone else. Using methadone as a holding treatment until the patient is ready to start a decline in dose wasn’t the standard practice until the last few decades. This has lead to a popular belief that those who don’t completely stop methadone are not successful. And that’s where Miranda Devine’s article fails once again. To ignorant, moral conservatives like Devine, abstinence should be the only goal and methadone is seen as some sort of excuse that just keeps a patient addicted. She is either unwilling to allow medical facts and logic to overcome her conservative views or she’s just thick. The other option is she doesn’t really care and is simply a dickhead.
Devine uses psychologist Ross Colquhoun to back up her argument against methadone. Colquhoun makes some remarkable statements and assumptions that plainly show how wrong Devine is.
The Government does not have an exit strategy for people on methadone, who they are prepared to leave addicted for ever
-Dr. Ross Colquhoun
This is simply a lie but it’s not uncommon for anti-Harm Minimisation zealots to take myths and declare they are facts. It’s only recently that doctors have started to rethink their strategy for some methadone patients. Nearly all patients were weaned off their dose over a period of time but doctors have started to concentrate on keeping some patients stable and maintaining a steady dose. Contrary to Colquhoun’s claim, most MMT patients still have a reducing dose with the goal of abstinence.
Methadone has a place in treatment in the short term but many people grow out of it and want to get on with their lives
-Dr. Ross Colquhoun
Methadone was never meant to be a short term treatment but with pressure from anti-drug groups and tossers like Colquhoun, the push was on to produce results. For naive governments and abstinence only supporters, success meant addicts being totally clean. There was no room to count rehabilitation whilst on MMT as a success as it only muddied their results. This lead to pushing addicts thorough the system quicker. Being on treatment wasn’t enough, they wanted clean, fully recovered patients regardless of relapse. You probably have heard it before from politicians who call methadone, "liquid handcuffs" or claim addicts are just swapping one addiction for another. A recent announcement from Scotland said that they were considering the removal of MMT and replacing it with abstinence only programs. The reason was of course that too many addicts were still on methadone. Bronwyn Bishop and John Howard have made a point of it, Fred Nile raised it in parliament, John McCain tried to introduce a similar bill in the US and several UK politicians have pushed for it. All of these attempts are based on ignorance and winning popularity. The fact is, OST has helped millions of people worldwide and is accepted by addiction specialists as the best solution currently available.
I have experienced Rapid Opiate Detoxification (ROD) and naltrexone first hand. Luckily for me, the naltrexone was administered by taking a pill each day because after 3 days, I had a bad reaction and had to stop taking it. If it was an implant, I probably would have taken the same course of action like many others and cut it out myself with a razor blade. The ROD was the worst experience of my life which left me almost comatose for 2 months. So what was the problem? Apart from being on a high dose of methadone, naltrexone didn’t agree with me. Those pushed into naltrexone implants don’t have the easy option to simply stop taking a pill and must request that it be removed surgically. Fat chance of that. The main problem with naltrexone implants is the risk of overdose. If the patient does cut it out or the implant ceases to work, they are left with no tolerance to opiates which means their next hit of heroin might be their last. There are dozens of cases of death from overdose after naltrexone treatment and usually from those who were coerced into receiving the implants. 
What most people don’t know is that naltrexone implants have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).  For 10 years, the biggest clinic in WA which is funded by the government, still has to get a special permit to operate because the implants have not been approved yet. The clinic, Fresh Start is using a clause in health legislation that allows experimental treatments for life-threatening conditions. There have been many articles and reports criticising the practice but the faithful continue to praise the treatment as the only way forward for opiate addiction. The push for naltrexone implants comes from several dedicated anti-Harm Minimisation warriors including Drug Free Australia (DFA), Bronwyn Bishop, Dr. Stuart Reece and Dr. George O’Neil. The latter two being owners of addiction treatment centres who specialise in these implants. Reece was once charged with the deaths of 25 patients and was investigated for treating a pregnant addict although naltrexone implants were never cleared for use during pregnancy. Both Reece and O’Neil are opponents of needle exchanges, OST and even promoting condoms for safe sex. They frequently use quotes from the bible and other religious symbolism in their quest for abstinence only treatments and Reece even went as far as saying that “Jesus cures addiction". These 2 doctors are the basis for the promotion of naltrexone implants. Not because they offer some magic formula for curing opiate addiction but because it is an alternative to OST and Harm Minimisation. Naltrexone implants stop the effects of heroin and force the patient into total abstinence which is the key to it’s popularity amongst the religious right, moral crusaders and prohibitionists. Damn the results, the deaths and the relapses. Who cares if someone is not suited to an implant ... it’s not Harm Minimisation!

What drives Miranda Devine to repeatedly push myths and misinformation onto the public? What does she have to gain except criticism from those who are more knowledgeable than her? Every time she writes about drug related issues, dozens of people expose the flaws and fallacies in her article which would be enough to force most writers to re-examine their views. It would at least prompt most writers to double check their facts. 
Devine despises Harm Minimisation and believes that drug use is an issue of law and order. She is a self confessed supporter of the "War on Drugs" and will go to great lengths to discredit any opposition.  Devine has no ability to accept modern medicine and scientific research if it steps on her ideology. It feels remarkably like someone who believe in creationism and who will do anything to prove science wrong for their convictions. These are not the traits of an intelligent, rational adult but a fanatic, obsessed by misguided dogma, fighting their own fears. Ignoring facts and evidence are the traits of a zealot - a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals, someone who considers their own views more important than those of experts, someone who believes their own bullshit. Having an opinion is one thing but misleading and deceiving nearly a million readers is bordering on the edge of lunacy. 
Addicts Say Abstinence Sets Them Free
By Miranda Devine
May 23, 2009
When it comes to drug prohibition, the biggest advocates are former addicts, if you can find any in NSW, where abstinence is a dirty word and the state requires its heroin users to be sedated on methadone for the rest of their lives. 
Just ask addicts what they thought of the harm minimisation experiments of the 1990s, when police were instructed to turn a blind eye to drug use in Cabramatta, Australia's heroin capital.
"While it's so easily available its always a problem," says Reuben, 28, a former heroin and methadone addict who has been drug-free for four months. In the mid-1990s, he was smoking marijuana every day, when he and his friends started riding the train to Cabramatta to get heroin.
"I avoided it for a little while but it was so good, so pure, so easy to get. Police never told the dealers to back off. A 13, 14, 15-year-old kid doesn't know right from wrong.
"You use it because it's there and because the people around you use it."
Sam, a 30-year-old former heroin addict, is still angry when he talks about Cabramatta. "You couldn't ride on the train without people asking you 50 times [if you wanted to buy heroin]. Why did the government stop police from arresting [dealers]? There were no police whatsoever. It was a safe haven for heroin dealers. It isn't good for us … We need prohibition."
Sam ended up in jail, where he took the opportunity to go cold turkey. He spent three days in a dry-out cell, enduring the nausea, diarrhoea, hot and cold flushes, insomnia, pain and stomach cramps. He spent the rest of his three-year sentence drug-free - or he would have. Three months before he was due to be released he was told that, as a heroin user at risk of relapse, he would have to start taking a highly addictive synthetic opiate, buprenorphine, or "bupe", a methadone substitute, or he would not get parole.
"I didn't want another habit," Sam says. "I kicked the habit when I got locked up. [But] you've got no option." He describes bupe and methadone as "liquid handcuffs". He left jail a buprenorphine addict, and was soon back on heroin.
Reuben, too, was prescribed methadone when he sought help for his addiction. He was given no other option but to accept addiction for life, a slave every day to the methadone clinic he hated.
The harm minimisation industry philosophy that holds sway in NSW is that once you're an addict, you are always an addict. But, for those who don't want to spend their life as a drug-addicted zombie, there are few options.
One of their last hopes is the psychologist Ross Colquhoun's addiction clinic in Ultimo, the only place in NSW to perform rapid detoxification on addicts using implants of the non-addictive drug naltrexone, which blocks the effects of opiates on the brain for about three months.
This morning two addicts will undergo the rapid detox, sedated and under the supervision of a doctor and two registered nurses. Their physical cravings gone, they will need counselling and further implants but, like thousands before them, their chances are good, Colquhoun says, of freeing themselves from addiction.
But abstinence has no place in the curiously monocultural drug and alcohol world of NSW. And so Colquhoun's naltrexone clinic has been under heavy fire for 10 years, with 10 complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission - all cleared - withdrawal of a federal grant, and general bad-mouthing, to the point where one staffer says: "We are being treated like a backyard abortion clinic in the 1950s."
Two weeks ago came the latest blow that may prove to be the killer, when the NSW Department of Health's Pharmaceutical Services Branch withdrew permission for the clinic to use a morphine drug (MS Contin) as a "bridge" for detoxing methadone addicts. Because methadone is so addictive and causes such terrible withdrawal problems, addicts must abstain for at least five days before detox. Switching to MC Contin stops cravings and is easier to detox.
Critics regard naltrexone as a tool of "coercive abstinence". They say it causes deaths because, when the implant effect wears off, an addict's previous resistance to heroin is gone and they can overdose.
But what is the alternative?
"The Government does not have an exit strategy for people on methadone, who they are prepared to leave addicted for ever," Colquhoun says. "Methadone has a place in treatment in the short term but many people grow out of it and want to get on with their lives."
The methadone industry is booming. Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this week showed the number of people on methadone has almost doubled since 1998, up from 24,600 to 41,300 last year, with the majority of doses dispensed privately. No wonder the methadone industry is defensive.
Colquhoun regards methadone as an instrument of "social control".
"They want to keep you nice and happy and sedated and drugged," says Jodde, who managed to wean herself off a massive 120-milligram daily dose of methadone three years ago.
"I was like a vegetable … The doctors, the police, they're all working to keep you in a shithole.
"Once you're a methadone addict, you're public property. You're a piece of crap; you have no rights. It's degrading. You go to seek help and that's what happens."
Sam and Reuben have overcome their addictions so far with the help of naltrexone. Sam has reunited with his family, and has not taken drugs for eight months.
Reuben is at TAFE studying adult literacy. "I've only just started enjoying being straight. It's a dramatic change from not being able to do anything.
"I feel productive for the first time in my life. I haven't ever really felt that."
You need a good reason to deny Reuben that chance.
Related Articles:

Friday, 22 May 2009

Myth - Cannabis Makes You Lazy and Unmotivated

Myth - Cannabis Makes You Lazy and Unmotivated

You know it, your friends know it, the government advertises it, the media publishes it, the religious preach it, politicians promise it, comedians satirise it, current affairs hosts warn about it, moral crusaders lie about it and some drug treatment centres teach it ... if you smoke too much dope, you loose interest in life and can’t be motivated anymore to do the things you once loved doing. It has a name - Amotivational Syndrome.

Amotivational Syndrome: A pattern of behaviour characterised by a lack of motivation, energy and initiative 

You know, the stoner on the couch eating Burger Rings and watching TV instead of going to football training. That guy who used to play cricket so well but stopped turning up for games after half a season of below average performances. That girl who stopped going out with her best friends and now stays at home on Saturday nights. It's simple ... smoking dope makes you lazy and less motivated.

Australian National Drugs Campaign


Marijuana (Cannabis)

Potential problems: Mood swings, memory impairment, weight gain, chronic bronchitis, increased risk of respiratory diseases associated with smoking including cancer, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, paranoid thinking, decreased motivation, interference with reproductive function, learning difficulties, psychological dependence, suicidal thoughts, risk of psychosis and psychotic symptoms. Marijuana serves as a barrier against self-awareness and may interfere with a young person’s development including possible interference with reproductive function.

This common problem is one of the most identifiable traits of a pothead. We see it regularly on TV and at the movies where scruffy looking dropouts are portrayed as speaking slowly and often lounging around on a couch saying “dude” and other stoner type comments. We hear about it in every anti-cannabis commercial. Like the kid who can’t keep up at football practice and sits at home alone smoking weed whilst his friends go out and have fun. We are even reminded regularly by politicians.

Research on frequent, long-term and heavy use of cannabis shows that it can have serious psychological, physiological and social effects. People using cannabis under these circumstances can have problems relating to lack of motivation and may no longer engage in employment or social activities.

The Hon. John Della Bosca - Legislative Council 


Many clients experienced depression. They also attributed things such as problems with concentration and memory, isolating themselves from others and lack of motivation, to their cannabis use. 

The Hon. Peter Foss - WA Parliament. Quoting from a report by Dr Jan Copeland and Dr Wendy Swift

Do we all know a slacker when we see one? I’m sure we all know someone with Amotivational Syndrome or at least know of someone who knows someone who is affected this way. In 2006, a report titled, National Drugs Campaign: Evaluation of Phase Two, showed that 86%-92% of teenagers were clearly aware that cannabis made you lazy and lethargic.

The broad campaign messages retained by young people appeared to be in line with the campaign objectives. Message recall focused on the negative consequences of using illegal drugs and abstaining from drug use. Most (87%) were able to identify at least one of the three drugs targeted by the campaign and message take-out relevant to each drug reflected content differences between the three ‘Youth’ television commercials. Specifically:

• Mental health problems (including ‘makes you lazy and tired’) were associated with marijuana 

• Aggression, other mental health effects and unknown composition were associated with speed, while 

• Depression, unknown composition and perceptions of being a dangerous drug were associated with ecstasy

-National Drugs Campaign: Evaluation of Phase Two

Even our friends at Drug Free Australia (DFA) have just released a report into the harms of cannabis and had this to say about Amotivational Syndrome:

Thirdly, cannabis use can induce amotivational syndrome, a mental state characterised by apathy, an inability to carry out plans, deal with frustration or concentrate for any length of time (Cohen, 1982). While equivocal, amotivational syndrome strikes a chord in that it aptly describes the ‘personality’ of a chronic cannabis smoker and is supported by numerous studies (Newcomb & Bentler, 1988; Tunving, 1987; Cohen, 1982). Musty & Kaback (1995) maintain that amotivational syndrome exists and is a manifestation of depression.

-Cannabis – Suicide, Schizophrenia And Other Ill-Effects - Drug Free Australia (DFA) -(March 2009)

Just a Myth

Amotivational Syndrome is a myth. But a myth believed by most of the public. It goes to show how powerful and misleading that persistent, anti-drug propaganda can really be. And it should make you angry. Angry at the lies and deceit that have been pushed down your throat from so called trusted people. The evidence that it doesn’t exist has been readily available for decades but governments, the media and anti-drug zealots have been happy to play along with this lie. What else do they lie about?

Only a few months ago, Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps was pictured smoking cannabis(right) which is weird considering pot smokers were supposed to be lazy and unmotivated. Holy cow, if anyone is a symbol of motivation, it is Phelps who has 14 Olympic gold medals and 7 world records for swimming. Add to this list a few US presidents, some Nobel prize winners and the countless entertainers who tour constantly. So who says dope smokers are unmotivated?

The few reports that support Amotivational Syndrome are usually commissioned by the US government in a bid to support their zero tolerance drug polices or by other dubious anti-drug zealots. Like the research referenced by DFA above, they set out to demonise cannabis and voila! Amotivational Syndrome is everywhere. It’s a convenient excuse maintained by those who are willingly to lie for their cause which is standard practice in the murky world of anti-drug propaganda. The vast majority of respectable research debunks Amotivational Syndrome as not having any evidence to back it up. Some of the reports that claim it might exist, also state that it is extremely rare. A far cry from being one of the main symptoms of cannabis use.

In this study, participants who used cannabis seven days a week demonstrated no difference from non-cannabis users on indices of motivation. These findings refute hypothesized associations between heavy cannabis use and low motivation.

-University Of Southern California - Department Of Psychology

What does the Australian government have to say about lazy stoners? They seem to be a bit muddled up, caught between lying to the public and supplying scientific research. The National Drugs Campaign: Evaluation of Phase Two report emphasises that cannabis causes laziness and a lack of motivation but the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care who administer our drug policy acknowledge that Amotivational Syndrome is dodgy, albeit reluctantly:

The evidence for an amotivational syndrome among adults is, at best, equivocal. The positive evidence largely consists of case histories, and observational reports. The small number of controlled field and laboratory studies have not found compelling evidence for such a syndrome, although their evidential value is limited by the small sample sizes and limited sociodemographic characteristics of the field studies, by the short periods of drug use, and the youthful good health and minimal demands made of the volunteers observed in the laboratory studies. It nonetheless is reasonable to conclude that if there is such a syndrome, it is a relatively rare occurrence, even among heavy, chronic cannabis users.

-Illicit Drug Use In Australia: Epidemiology, Use Patterns And Associated Harm - Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care

This report may give a more conclusive answer.

There is no compelling evidence for an amotivational syndrome among chronic cannabis users. Some heavy users do complain of impaired motivation but this pattern of behaviour is better explained as a symptom of chronic intoxication among persons who are cannabis dependent.

-The Health And Psychological Effects Of Cannabis Use - The Commonwealth Government 

Not convinced? Maybe we should look to our own Australian Medical Association(AMA) for a more recent explanation.

Consumption of large quantities of cannabis on almost every day of the week is likely to lead to the neglect of some other important priorities such as relationships, parenting, careers and community responsibilities. However there is currently a lack of robust evidence for an amotivational syndrome (characterized by a loss of motivation, energy and initiative) associated with the use of cannabis.

-Australian Medical Association 

Some of those who like to push the idea of cannabis making users lazy and stupid, try to blame limited research techniques as to why Amotivational Syndrome has not been proven. If the sample size or limited sociodemographic characteristics are reasons to doubt existing research, it might be wise to look at more recent research that aims to end the debate. Ironically, it’s the US government’s own National Institutes of Health that finally clears up the myth.

Cannabis, Motivation, And Life Satisfaction In An Internet Sample

Although little evidence supports cannabis-induced amotivational syndrome, sources continue to assert that the drug saps motivation [1], which may guide current prohibitions. Few studies report low motivation in chronic users; another reveals that they have higher subjective wellbeing. To assess differences in motivation and subjective wellbeing, we used a large sample (N = 487) and strict definitions of cannabis use (7 days/week) and abstinence (never). Standard statistical techniques showed no differences. Robust statistical methods controlling for heteroscedasticity, non-normality and extreme values found no differences in motivation but a small difference in subjective wellbeing. Medical users of cannabis reporting health problems tended to account for a significant portion of subjective wellbeing differences, suggesting that illness decreased wellbeing. All p-values were above p = .05. Thus, daily use of cannabis does not impair motivation. Its impact on subjective wellbeing is small and may actually reflect lower wellbeing due to medical symptoms rather than actual consumption of the plant.

The link between cannabis use and low motivation is a source of extensive debate. Anecdotal information describes the cannabis user as listless and incapable. Subsets of cannabis users demonstrating low motivation receive considerable attention in the media and among proponents of marijuana prohibition. Decades ago, researchers adopted the phrase "amotivational" to describe lethargic cannabis users. Amotivational syndrome ranks among key problems associated with the drug, and strengthens policy arguments regarding the public harm that the drug introduces. The US Department of Health and Human Services warns parents that youth cannabis use may result in amotivational symptoms such as an apathetic approach to life, fatigue, and poor academic and work performance. Other studies suggest that cannabis induces general apathy and an inability to progress through life successfully. Yet empirical research on the effects of cannabis on users' motivation suggests a low incidence of these negative outcomes and numerous alternative explanations for their appearance.

-U.S. National Institutes of Health

To top it all off, the report makes an important observation. Something that all lying, anti-drug zealots should take notice of. The report states that misleading information will more likely have a negative effect on preventing substance abuse. That old scenario arises again where if the target group thinks that they are being lied to about one issue, then what stops the messenger lying about other issues.

The absence of any link between motivation and cannabis use also has important implications for preventing substance abuse. Research informs parents and children that cannabis saps motivation. It is possible that individuals' own experiences and the experiences of users they know may belie this information, leading them to question the veracity of other material presented in these programs. Thus, emphasizing a cannabis-induced amotivational syndrome in drug prevention does not have empirical support and could harm the credibility of our efforts at prevention. Honest information about the negative consequences of cannabis has the potential to improve the prevention of drug problems. Dropping references to amotivational syndrome may have considerable benefit.

-U.S. National Institutes of Health

When is it going to stop? When are those who are responsible for educating the public about the dangers of drug use going to be held accountable? Pushing myths and spreading misinformation has been shown over and over to be dangerous especially to young people, our children. How does the government get away with it? Why are shifty, myopic organisations like DFA funded by the tax payers only to lie to us? Why are the experts routinely ignored? Doesn’t the health of the public have any bearing on this? Is political expediency allowed to override the truth that these myths are actually harming our children? 

Thus, emphasizing a cannabis-induced amotivational syndrome in drug prevention does not have empirical support and could harm the credibility of our efforts at prevention

-U.S. National Institutes of Health

This goes to the very core of a government endorsed process that has been proven to be counter-productive in preventing drug use. The fact is, these misleading claims are forcing our kids to question other government warnings. Warnings that should be taken seriously but with the constant exaggeration and lies that don’t reflect the real world, why would they believe them? I’m sure these people have read the classic story about The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

The two big question now are: Will they stop lying about Amotivational Syndrome? And what else are they lying about?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Canada’s Push for Mandatory Sentencing of Drug Crimes

One country that appears to be progressing with rational drug laws is Canada. They have a safe injection clinic like our Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC). They have just finished a heroin trial and they are often pushing more sensible cannabis laws. But all is not what it seems. Many of these initiatives that appeared under the previous government are aggressively being challenged by the current conservative, Harper administration
Under Canada's proposed new drug laws, an 18-year-old who shares a joint with a 17-year-old friend could end up in jail. Small-time addicts, who are convicted of pushing drugs near schools, parks, malls or any other prospective youth hangouts, would be automatically imprisoned for two years. And growers caught selling even one plant to a friend would also be incarcerated. -Plan For Minimum, Mandatory Drug Sentences Draws Fire - Canwest News Service
Especially disturbing, is a major bill(C-15) reintroduced to parliament by the ruling government that wants to set mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. The original bill(C-26) was introduced in 2007 but was dropped prior to the election. This bill effectively removes a judges ability to set an appropriate sentence when faced with extenuating circumstances. As pointed out by several experts, some countries, especially the US, are moving away from mandatory sentencing because it has not proven to be effective in cutting crime. In fact, mandatory sentencing has previously been deemed ineffective by 2 reports commissioned by the government's own Justice Department. This is a worrying trend where governments are commissioning reports then ignoring them if they conflict with their current policies or ideology. There has been much public scrutiny of the proposed mandatory minimum sentences but the government refuses to acknowledge that there is no evidence that the changes will work. In a public hearing, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson continually dodged the question about evidence and in typical form, waffled on until his time was up. This is an old tactic frequently used by conservative politicians who are faced more and more with science and research that rejects their often pseudo-Christian, right wing ideology - Don’t answer the question being asked, answer the question you wished they had asked. Reality, facts and research are a real killjoy sometimes.
Overall Concerns: There is no proof that mandatory minimums are effective and appropriate measures to reduce drug use and crimes related to drugs. Most evidence shows the opposite. C-26 does not address the core issue of why people use drugs. C-26 increases already imbalanced and over-funded enforcement approach to drug use in Canada without reducing crime rates or drug use. Abandons successful measures such as harm reduction and grass roots education programs. Moves toward expensive, failed US style war on drugs that spends tens of billions a year on enforcement and incarceration while crime rates and drug use soar. Leads to greater incarceration rates and greater burden on courts, police, and prisons. The Bill leaves it open for enforcement to go after the low level dealers and marijuana infractions (The selling of one joint or growing one plant could constitute trafficking) . Current waiting lists for drug treatment beds is from months to years, depending on the city and region, Drug Treatment Courts will only serve to put more people on a waiting list. source: Cannabis Facts
Mandatory minimum prison sentences do not work. In this case, it will just fill the prison system with mostly harmless, non violent citizens. The whole idea of enforcing a set term of imprisonment defeats the purpose of going to court and being sentenced appropriately. This type of sentencing is always aimed at the worst type of offender which is usually in the minority and as a result, nets in many people who do not deserve prison. It’s the role of judges to determine sentences, not politicians and this sets a dangerous precedent for the legal system to become a political tool. The lessons from the US should be a stark reminder that mandatory minimum prison sentencing for drug crimes is purely right wing ideology which has been allowed to interfere with a nations legal system.
Plan For Minimum, Mandatory Drug Sentences Draws Fire By Janice Tibbetts Canwest News Service May 2009 OTTAWA — Under Canada's proposed new drug laws, an 18-year-old who shares a joint with a 17-year-old friend could end up in jail. Small-time addicts, who are convicted of pushing drugs near schools, parks, malls or any other prospective youth hangouts, would be automatically imprisoned for two years. And growers caught selling even one plant to a friend would also be incarcerated. The Harper government's bill to impose Canada's first mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes — removing discretion for judges to sentence as they see fit — has come under intense scrutiny in public hearings, which began last week. Several witnesses have warned the House of Commons justice committee the proposed legislation will fill jails with drug addicts rather than drug kingpins, who will continue to thrive while small-time dealers are knocked out of commission. The all-party committee will likely get an earful again Monday when it hears from another half dozen opponents, including Ottawa drug policy analyst Eugene Oscapella. "It's a wonderful gift to organized crime," said Oscapella, a lawyer who teaches at University of Ottawa. "We're going to drive some of the smaller players out of the business and they'll be replaced by people who do not respond to law enforcement initiatives." The Conservative government proposes to automatically jail dealers and growers at a time when several American states, most recently New York, have retreated from mandatory minimum sentences, saying they are a glaring symbol of the failed U.S. war on drugs. "We're going in exactly the opposite direction," said New Democrat Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East, whose party will vote against the bill. The Bloc Quebecois also opposes the legislation, which was originally introduced in late 2007, but died last September when the federal election was called. The bill would pass in the minority Parliament if the official Opposition Liberals decide to support it — and MP Brian Murphy cautioned that "the jury is still out" for his party. "The aim of the bill is laudable, we have to crack down on organized crime and the cash cow for it seems to be drugs," said Murphy. The Liberals, at this stage, would probably push for amendments to narrow the bill's reach, rather than vote against it, he said. The United States experience in the last 25 years has shown that mandatory minimum sentences have flooded jails, with a disproportionate effect on drug addicts, the poor, the young, blacks and other minorities. The U.S. surpasses every other country by far in incarceration rates and, meanwhile, the drug business has flourished. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who appeared at the justice committee to defend his bill, was unable to supply any evidence from other countries that mandatory minimum sentences have made any difference in reducing drug crime. Two studies prepared for the Justice Department, one in 2002 and the other in 2005, say that mandatory minimums do not work. But Nicholson asserted that the proposed legislation is a smart response to a public outcry to crack down on the growing "scourge" of drugs. "I can tell you there is support for this bill from many ordinary Canadians who are quite concerned about drug abuse," said Nicholson, who called for expedited passage of the legislation. Davies has unsuccessfully challenged the government to supply estimates on how many more people would be incarcerated if the law passes, and the anticipated cost for provincial governments, who are responsible for jails housing offenders serving sentences of less than two years. "It's going to clog up the prison system," she warned. Critics also contend the bill is poorly drafted because it is overly broad and unclear. For instance, the proposal to automatically imprison for at least two years anyone caught selling drugs "near a school" or "any other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18" could mean virtually anywhere in an urban area, says the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. "Any place other than those where minors are not permitted could fall under that legislation and thus require a two-year minimum sentence be imposed," Graeme Norton, director of the group's public safety project, told the committee. The proposed legislation would impose one-year mandatory jail time for marijuana dealing, when it is linked to organized crime or a weapon is involved. The sentence would be increased to two years for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine to young people, or pushing drugs near a school or other places frequented by youths. The bill would mean minimum six-month sentences for growing one to 200 marijuana plants to sell, and two years for big-time growers of 500 plants or more. There are already more than two dozen minimum prison terms in the Criminal Code, mainly for murder and offences involving firearms. © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Related Articles: Study: Mandatory Minimums Don't Work! - The Rand Corporation Justices Restore Judges’ Control Over Sentencing - New York Times Proposed New Mandatory Sentences For Serious Drug Offences - Schedule Ii Drugs (Cannabis And Marijuana)

The Propaganda Files - Foundation For A Drug Free World

They Lied - Find Out The Truth About Drugs
The anti-drug campaign by the Foundation for a Drug Free World(FDFW) aptly titled, They Lied - Find Out the Truth About Drugs, paints a scary picture of what drugs will do to you and appears to be aimed squarely at teenagers. But there is a huge flaw in this campaign - they assume teenagers are all naive and inherently gullible. Playing on the theme of “peer group pressure”, FDFW have produced what can only be described as 1980s style scare tactics, carefully mixing in truth and fiction to emphasise the worst case scenario as the inevitable outcome from any drug use. To most teens, this message has been done to death and although the campaign acknowledges that drug use is common in their world, they still focus on incredible situations that rarely happen. Of course, this is not really aimed at kids at all but parents, moral crusaders and conservative anti-drug groups who want to feel like they are being tough on drugs and doing something for children. Politicians especially love this approach which makes it easy for them to be seen fighting the good fight against the spread of drugs. Ironically, these types of campaigns have never actually been proven to be effective but year after year they are still rolled out with the usual anti-drug rhetoric like “we must stop this drug scourge for the sake of our children” or “our kids deserve a drug free world”. Maybe one day, they will eventually “think of the children” and develop a truthful campaign that treats the target audience as reasonable people who need honest, reliable information.

Organisation: Foundation for a Drug Free World (FDFW)

Campaign: They Lied - Find Out the Truth About Drugs
When: 2006-2009

Link: Website
Propaganda: 8/10

Laugh Out Loud Rating: 8/10

What isn’t well known is that FDFW is run by the Church of Scientology which might explain the blatant attempts to deceive. It might also explain the excellent and expensive production quality of the campaign which was produced by Golden Era Productions, an organisation located on a 500-acre lot in California with multiple sound stages, extensive audio-visual equipment and a top of the line production facility. The campaign was directed by multi-award winning Australian cinematographer-turned-director, Gary Ravenscroft. The campaign won 2 Silver Telly Awards and a bronze Addy.

"They said that taking meth would help me with my exams ... they lied"

Yes, I remember when a friend suggested having a coffee percolator to help me when I studied. Or was it my friend who suggested smoking crack and drinking a dozen beers? Either way, before I knew it, I was holding up the local 7-11 with a gun. That’s normal, isn’t it? [giggle]. And what’s this, “They lied” statement? Does it mean that because they lied, it’s not my fault? No, the stated aim of the campaign is to expose the truth on drug myths. [more giggles] The truth?! I know, the irony is priceless.There’s something disturbing when the community embraces Scientology trying to debunk myths by using myths.

These ads give people information about what drugs really do, not only to the individual, but his family, friends and community. Truthfully, we’re all at risk as drugs have a far-reaching effect on all of us. So these ads debunk what people hear on the streets and helps get them the facts they need before its too late.
-Gary Ravenscroft. Director

"They said weed wouldn’t lead to harder drugs ... they lied. Find out the truth about weed ..."

The last place someone should be going for the truth about drugs is Even the premise of the commercial itself is wrong. The myth that cannabis leads to harder drugs was debunked decades ago but there is a hint of truth, believe it or not. Due to the tough laws so heavily pushed by groups like, soft drugs and hard drugs are both classed the with the same harm potential. This forces users of soft drugs like cannabis to mix with users and dealers of hard drugs. Having to buy pot from a dealer who also supplies heroin, ice, cocaine etc. places cannabis users in the underground world of criminals and the inherent dangers involved.

Back to the commercial. I particularly like the scabs and sores they add to his face as he ‘gateways’ to harder drugs. To be honest, I have never seen sores on a junkies’ face before and I have seen a lot of junkies. I suppose showing a typical user isn’t effective since most of them don’t look any different to the general public. Maybe if he had been using for 10 years but the commercial suggests it’s less than about 12 months from first puff to junkie. Something else that makes me curious is the scene where they are running around in fast motion. Is this meant to represent “speed” or meth? LOL! Also, the group shot where they are all snorting something around a table (probably the speed) prior to the fast motion scene, it looks like they are having lots of fun. Much more fun than the stoners sitting in the darken lounge room. Maybe they should change the message to, ‘Don’t let weed be a gateway to hard drugs ... go straight to speed ... speed is lots more fun than weed’.

I have to admit laughing quite a bit watching these commercials. Was I that stupid and gullible when I was young?

“Here try this, it’s heroin” - Okay, but will I be cool?

“They said prescription pain killers were totally safe” - Great now I can just take handfuls of unknown pills. I always believe my friends. I would never say, “fuck off, I’m not taking that” or “you go first”.

“He said he would love me forever ... if I smoke crack with him” - Oh dear. She deserves it.

Are these commercials typical of what teens experience in reality? The answer has to be no. The ecstasy commercial shows a girl taking half a pill and collapsing in a night club. They would have to follow about 10,000 users to find someone who reacts like this. The meth commercial ... unbelievable, the cocaine commercial ... even more unbelievable. It really makes a parody of their sales pitch, “Find out the truth about drugs”. Anyway I took their advice and looked through their “Drug Facts” section and the booklets they produce. Not surprisingly, it revealed a huge selection of misinformation and propaganda. For example:

• Marijuana and hashish users build up a tolerance to the drugs, which can lead them to take more of it or experiment with stronger drugs to get the same effect.

• This can get so severe that a person will do almost anything to get the drug — even commit murder.

• According to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, kids who frequently use marijuana are almost four times more likely to act violently or damage property. They are five times more likely to steal than those who do not use the drug.

• "I tried it once and BOOM! I was addicted".

• Ecstasy is [...] addictive.

• Crack cocaine [...] people have been known to become addicted after using the drug just once.

• Methamphetamine is an extremely powerful and addictive drug. [...] Many addicts report getting hooked from the first use. It causes violent and psychotic behavior.

• The consequences of drug use are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them.

Scientology Links
The FDFW is run by the Church of Scientology and is closely linked to the youth orientated Drug-Free Marshals program or
Drug-Free Ambassadors as it’s called in Australia. You may have heard of our own Carly Crutchfield, Scientologist, Drug Free Ambassador and real estate investment advisor. The blurring of who is who and who runs what is how the Church of Scientology can sneak into schools and community groups when needed or promote their church when they want publicity. Maybe that’s why the campaign commercials and booklets are readily available at the Scientology website but the link to Scientology hardly gets a mention at FDFW. The offical blurb for FDFW from their website is:

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a secular, nonprofit organization that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions to be drug-free.

Secular? factual information? Like all front groups for Scientology, it’s really about expanding the flock. Conforming to conservative, moralistic views on drugs allows them to be easily accepted by other anti-drug moralists. Schools, religious groups, community organisations and politicians welcome them with open arms when they see the benefits of free colourful booklets and well organised strategies. And it’s an easy message to sell - “say no to drugs, say yes to life”. Just don’t
mention Scientology! Well not yet, anyway.

What intrigues me most is that Scientology claims they can cure drug addiction along with poverty, mental health etc. Then why don’t they? Why bother with FDFW when they can simply “cure” drug addiction? Do you remember that Tom Cruise interview where he rambled on about being proud to be a Scientologist? Remember it hitting the internet then the Scientology lawyers quickly had it removed? What made them panic and remove it so quickly?, Was it Tom Cruise saying this?:

We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we are the authorities on the mind, we are the authorities on improving conditions… we can rehabilitate criminals.
-Dailymotion (2:56) - (Transcript)

Apart from Tom Cruise, fellow Scientologists,
John Travolta and Kirsty Alley have also pushed the claim that they can cure drug addiction. Scientologists claim that their organisation, Narcocon via a treatment called Purification Rundown have a 90% success rate at curing drug addiction. This has been disputed several times and in reality is more like 6%. In a recent attack on psychiatry, Cruise warned people on prescription medication and to “think carefully about the harms they're(prescription pills) doing to their bodies”. During that interview, the actor also claimed that he can get someone off heroin in three days through Scientology's detox programmes. It seems Scientologists firmly believe their BS.

Scientology technology has been able to eradicate the major damage in persons who have been on drugs as well as make further addiction unnecessary and unwanted.
Thus, Scientology contains an exact technology which not only gets a person painlessly off drugs but handles their physical, mental and spiritual effects and locates and fully resolves the reason underlying a person’s drug-taking. Nothing else can do this with certainty.
-Scientology Handbook

Why has Narconon been so active in
schools worldwide and often taken on by local community groups? Because they don't advertise their link to Scientology. The Narconon website doesn’t have any reference to being owned the Church of Scientology and even FDFW doesn’t mention their association. This is how they work. But with Narconon recently receiving criticism for their methods and not declaring their Scientology links, FDFW might be their new front. With so much deceit and false information being bandied around, the question has to be asked ... do you really trust Narconon um... Foundation for a Drug Free World(FDFW) I mean, Scientology?

More from the Propaganda Files