Wednesday, 29 July 2009

More Dangerous Drug Felons in Alaska

First there was an addict being jailed on two felony drug charges for 5 grams of heroin. Now someone is on a felony drug charge and just avoided jail for driving a car to where her friend sold someone a few OxyContins. To top it off, her friend copped 3 three felony drug charges and faces certain jail for doing the sale. What is it with Alaska and drug users? I'm so glad that tens of thousands of dollars have been spent and multiple resources have been used on catching these dangerous criminal masterminds instead of on murderers, violent thugs or car thieves. Everyone must feel so much safer.
Woman pleads guilty to felony drug charge Anchorage Daily News July 2009 JUNEAU -- A Juneau woman has pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge in connection with an OxyContin deal made in April. Haley Rogers' plea deal will keep her out of prison if she completes a drug-rehabilitation program and doesn't violate probation. A judge scheduled sentencing for Aug. 13, 2010, to give Rogers time to complete the drug-rehabilitation program in Anchorage. Prosecutors say the 24-year-old acted as the driver in a drug deal made with a police informant. Amber Scroggins, the alleged seller, has pleaded not guilty to three felony drug charges. A jury trial is set to begin next month.

Monday, 27 July 2009

5 Grams of Heroin Sends You to Jail

Child porn, shootings, bashings and .... someone self medicating because of a reoccurring brain disorder(addiction). I don’t really know what to say. I suppose someone this dangerous to society needs jail. Face it, he was going to get high and he is a junkie after all. And at least now he can get clean in prison. I’m sure he will thank us when he gets out and starts a new life ... except for the permanent criminal record for heroin possession. He mightn’t be able to get a decent job now and many states won’t give him any government assistance but hey! if he’s young enough, he could go back to college. Oh, wait, they don’t give normal student assistance to those with a drug record. And his drug record will be a problem still when he finishes and applies for work. So he doesn’t get a decent job, at least he can get financial assistance with accommodation. Oh, that’s right, the drug record excludes him from government assistance. In fact, his drug record excludes him from most forms of assistance in the US, private, federal and state. There is one upside though ... prison will teach him how to be a good criminal. Considering all the obstacles in his way, this may be his only option.
Troopers Intercept Package Containing 5 Grams Of Heroin Anchorage Daily News July 2009 SITKA -- Law enforcement officers intercepted a package bound for Sitka that contained 5 grams of heroin, resulting in its recipient being jailed on two felony drug charges, according to Alaska State Troopers. After intercepting the package, which shipped from Colorado, officials with a Southeast drug task force on conducted a controlled delivery to its intended recipient, Joseph Finn, 26, troopers said. Officials also found one gram of heroin and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia in Finn's home, troopers said. Finn was arrested on two counts of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and booked into the Sitka jail.
This comment from a reader called Kwix sums it up nicely.
Kwix wrote on 07/24/2009 03:32:12 PM: 5 grams. For those who don't do math and want something to relate that to, it's the same weight as a nickel. That's right, reach into your pocket and pull a nickel out. Now hold it in your hand, stare at it really hard and ask yourself if that's really worth two felonies and a likely long jail term.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cannabis - Another Possible Fix for Opiate Addiction

Sorry about posting another research related item but I couldn’t help it. Look at the headline of the article below from ScienceDaily and you might start to forgive me. Even though the headline is an eye catcher, there are no human trials yet and any real results are years away. Still, the study is strangely compelling. The premise is straight forward enough but the irony is priceless ... smoking dope to stop being a smack junkie. I can see the anti-drug nuts having a mild seizure and the pro-cannabis supporters drooling with anticipation. Is cannabis going to be the wonder drug that even cures opiate addiction? Maybe ... maybe not, but there’s enough here for the weed worshippers to be optimistic. Unfortunately it’s too early to be excited for those on the receiving end of this potential treatment, the opiate addicts themselves. Sadly, the future for this type of treatment in Australia looks grim. We don’t even have provisions for medical marijuana yet and with the current trend of conservative politics, I can’t see a radical change anytime soon. There is already plenty of opposition to any form of medical treatment with cannabis but using pot to treat heroin addicts would create a sensation. Can you imagine the war cries from moral crusaders in the media like Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt? What about political screwballs like Fred Nile, Chris Pyne and Tony Abbott? Even if the federal government gives it the okay, would the states support it? Can you imagine SA giving it the nod with Attorney General, Michael Atkinson and indpendant Anne Bressington being so anti-drugs. Would WA Premier, Colin Barnett have a change of heart regarding pot? What about the hysterical NSW government? Or the redneck wonderland, Qld? You get my point. Anyway, it’s early days and there’s plenty of rats yet to become martyrs. Maybe by the time it comes to phase III human trials, there might be more support for evidence based drug policy? Maybe, some new, fresh blood in politics has initiated change? Maybe a new wave of fact driven journalism has replaced the old, stale, self righteous opinion based dribble? Maybe....
Active Ingredient In Cannabis Eliminates Morphine Dependence In Rats ScienceDaily July 2009 Injections of THC, the active principle of cannabis, eliminate dependence on opiates (morphine, heroin) in rats deprived of their mothers at birth. The findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments. In order to study psychiatric disorders, neurobiologists use animal models, especially maternal deprivation models. Depriving rats of their mothers for several hours a day after their birth leads to a lack of care and to early stress. The lack of care, which takes place during a period of intense neuronal development, is liable to cause lasting brain dysfunction. The study was carried out by Valérie Daugé and her team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / INSERM). Valérie Daugé's team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / Inserm) analyzed the effects of maternal deprivation combined with injections of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active principle in cannabis, on behavior with regard to opiates. Previously, Daugé and her colleagues had shown that rats deprived of their mothers at birth become hypersensitive to the rewarding effect of morphine and heroin (substances belonging to the opiate family), and rapidly become dependent. In addition, there is a correlation between such behavioral disturbances linked to dependence, and hypoactivity of the enkephalinergic system, the endogenous opioid system. To these rats, placed under stress from birth, the researchers intermittently administered increasingly high doses of THC (5 or 10 mg/kg) during the period corresponding to their adolescence (between 35 and 48 days after birth). By measuring their consumption of morphine in adulthood, they observed that, unlike results previously obtained, the rats no longer developed typical morphine-dependent behavior. Moreover, biochemical and molecular biological data corroborate these findings. In the striatum, a region of the brain involved in drug dependence, the production of endogenous enkephalins was restored under THC, whereas it diminished in rats stressed from birth which had not received THC. Such animal models are validated for understanding the neurobiological and behavioral effects of postnatal conditions in humans. In this context, the findings point to the development of new treatments that could relieve withdrawal effects and suppress drug dependence. The enkephalinergic system produces endogenous enkephalins, which are neurotransmitters that bind to the same receptors as opiates and inhibit pain messages to the brain.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Australia Knew About Potency and Mental Health Myths

In June 2008, respected medical journal, Science Daily published a study by NDARC. Science Daily said:
Claims that a large increase in the strength of cannabis over the last decade is driving the occurrence of mental health and other problems for users are not borne out by a study of the worldwide literature, say researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), both from Australia.
Part of the NDARC study concluded that:
Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence.
The following year, the Australian government spent $18 million dollars on an advertising campaign which somehow overlooked the NDARC report. Political rhetoric didn’t change either as increased potency and mental health problems still remain some of the top issues in the campaign against cannabis. Isn’t it odd that NDARC and NDRI are both part of the National Drug Strategy and report to the federal government yet Australia’s latest anti-drug campaign has ignored some of their findings?
Conclusion: Increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in a single year than over years or decades. Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence. Systematic scientific testing of cannabis is needed to monitor current and ongoing trends in cannabis potency, and to determine whether cannabis is contaminated. Additionally, more research is needed to determine whether increased potency and contamination translates to harm for users, who need to be provided with accurate and credible information to prevent and reduce harms associated with cannabis use. -National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) - Cannabis Potency And Contamination: A Review Of The Literature. March 2008
Just as disturbing are the many anti-drug crusaders who along with the government continue to
push cannabis myths regardless of the evidence. Myths like the Gateway Theory and Amotivational Syndrome remain constant in anti-cannabis campaigns but were debunked years ago, even decades. What’s the point of NDARC and NDRI when the government simply overlook their findings? Politicians, anti-drug warriors and the media are quick to warn us of negative studies relating to illicit drugs but it seems any research that contradicts their agenda is ignored.
Claims Linking Health Problems And The Strength Of Cannabis May Be Exaggerated ScienceDaily June 2008 Claims that a large increase in the strength of cannabis over the last decade is driving the occurrence of mental health and other problems for users are not borne out by a study of the worldwide literature, say researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), both from Australia. Their conclusions are that increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in the strength of the cannabis they use in a single year than over years or decades. Cannabis samples tested in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy have shown increases in potency over the last decade, but no significant growth in other European countries or in New Zealand has been found during the same period. THC is the active ingredient in cannabis, which produces the strongest psychoactive effect. In the United States, the level of THC in confiscated cannabis was 8.5% in 2006, up from 4.5% in 1997. Recent Dutch data show that the THC of cannabis sold in coffee shops more than doubled between 2000 and 2004, but has since levelled off. THC content varies according to the part of the plant that is used, the method of storage, and cultivation techniques. Popular belief is that hydroponic or other methods of indoor cultivation produce higher concentrations of THC than occur naturally, but the jury is still out on this issue. The ability to control the indoor environment means that plants can reach their full potential, which includes reaching the maximum level of THC. The increase in market share of indoor-grown cannabis seen in Australia as well as North America and Europe may have led to a more consistent product which could explain the potency increases reported in some countries. While some public debate has linked large increases in cannabis potency to increased mental health problems, there are currently insufficient data to justify this claim, and care ought to be taken when considering policy decisions on this basis. Importantly, further research is required to understand whether cannabis users can, or do, alter their intake in response to a change in potency. In their discussion of potential health risks, the authors point to studies that observe that some cannabis smokers, when faced with a 'strong' product, act rather like tobacco smokers and adjust their dose by increasing the interval between puffs, or holding smoke in their lungs for a shorter period of time. This behaviour may reduce possible harms caused by increased potency. The authors also discuss the health risks of contaminants. Possible contaminants include naturally occurring ones such as fungi; growth enhancers and pesticides; and substances added for marketing purposes to 'bulk up' the weight. Lack of systematic monitoring for contaminants makes an assessment of risk difficult; it is important to learn more about the health risks of cannabis of ingesting contaminated cannabis -- for example, moulds are known to cause respiratory problems and lung disease. The authors say "Given the relatively high prevalence of cannabis use it is important we have current, accurate information to help users make informed decisions about their use, and that policy development and media debate about the health harms associated with its use are guided by research evidence rather than rumour."

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Can Cannabis Help Fight Cancer?

Now that Keele University in the UK has dispelled the myth of cannabis being a major cause of mental health problems, I got to wondering about what cannabis might have on offer to science. Medical marijuana aside, I had often seen claims of cannabis being used for treating cancer and other physical conditions. I was just as sceptical of these claims as I was of cannabis creating a lost generation or heavy users of a new, more potent strain growing a penis on their elbow. The problem to me was that both sides were equally as nutty as each other and there was no middle ground. In fact, I still find it hard to grasp that rising cannabis use has not increased incidents of mental disorders. But facts are facts, regardless of personal opinion. Maybe I was wrong? Going back over some of the claims that cannabis can help with cancer research, I found this recent article(below). If they are right, we have lost decades of research through unnecessary restrictions brought on by government drug paranoia. What strikes me most though is that these reports are rarely in the mainstream media. As usual, good news about illicit drugs don’t make headlines. Can anyone help shed some light on the subject for me?
Marijuana May Fight Brain Tumours COSMOS April 2009 WASHINGTON: The main chemical in marijuana kills cancerous brain cells, offering hope for future anti-cancer therapies, say Spanish scientists. A team led by Guillermo Velasco of Complutense University in Madrid, found that the active component of marijuana – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – kills tumour cells through a process called autophagy. This is the process that occurs when a cell self-destructs by digesting itself. The research, which appears in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, demonstrates that THC and related cannabinoids appear to be "a new family of potential anti-tumoral agents", the authors write. Injecting THC In the study the scientists conducted most of their research on mice, in which the growth of cancer was stimulated. But the researchers also looked at two patients suffering from a highly aggressive form of brain cancer who were enrolled in a clinical trial. A mixture of THC in saline solution and injected it into each patient's tumour for 26 or 30 days, then the researchers took samples of the brain tumours. By analysing the tumours using electron microscopy, the researchers discovered that the cancer cells had been killed off while the normal cells stayed intact. "Although these studies were only conducted in specimens from two patients," the researchers said, "they are in line with the preclinical evidence shown [in mice] and suggest that cannabinoid administration might also trigger autophagy-mediated cell death in human tumors." Anti-Cancer Therapies There have been previous studies that found cannabinoids curbed the growth of several types of tumours in rats and mice, but the mechanism by which is worked has been obscure until now. Autophagy has a dual role in cancer: in some cases it promotes cancer cell survival and in other cases it inhibits cancer cell survival. This study identified the signalling route by which autophagy is activated for cell death. The authors suggest that the study may prove useful in the development of future anti-cancer therapies based on THC or in the activation of the process that results in autophagy.
RELATED ARTICLES Active Ingredient in Marijuana Kills Brain Cancer Cells Whom Do You Believe? New Study Explains How Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells

Monday, 13 July 2009

Another Possibility to Stop Opiate Addiction

The race is on for a therapy that enable patients to take opiates without developing a tolerance. In other words, non addictive narcotics. The prize for the first to the finish line is massive wealth and a chance to change history. Think about the consequences - powerful painkillers without the risk of addiction and even the end to heroin/morphine/oxycontin addicts. Heroin could once again be the king of pain management because the only real danger, addiction would have disappeared. Now the question must arise - why have governments wasted $trillions on the "War on Drugs" when they could have been financing research into stopping opiate addiction? Maybe it’s their worse fear - heroin and morphine are basically non toxic so without any major harms, without the addiction and the associated crime of addicts looking to fund their habit, there is probably no reason to keep it illegal. Just a thought.
Blocking Potent Oxidant Could Prevent Morphine Tolerance Nov 2008 Blocking a substance called peroxynitrite, a potent oxidant that's formed when patients take morphine, can prevent the development of tolerance to the pain-relieving effects of the narcotic, according to animal tests conducted by Saint Louis University of Medicine researchers. They said their findings, published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to new therapies that prevent morphine tolerance and the severe side effects caused by having to give patients escalating doses of the painkiller. Morphine and other opiate narcotics are the most powerful treatments for acute and chronic pain. However, their pain-killing effectiveness decreases quickly and significantly with repeated doses. In this study, researchers found that repeated doses of morphine caused peroxynitrite to develop in the spinal cord, resulting in inflammation and damage to proteins and DNA in that area. Putting the brakes on peroxynitrite -- either by causing it to decompose once it formed or by blocking it from forming in the first place -- prevented morphine tolerance. "We believe these findings represent a major breakthrough in understanding how tolerance to the pain-relieving action of morphine and other opiate medications develops -- and how it can be prevented from happening in the first place," study author Daniela Salvemini, a professor of internal medicine in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, said in a prepared statement. This research may help in the development of therapies that enable patients to take morphine without developing tolerance. "For instance, when morphine is administered, another drug could be given simultaneously that prevents peroxynitrite from working and thus causing tolerance to develop," Salvemini explained.
For those who want more technical details.
Spinal Ceramide Modulates the Development of Morphine Antinociceptive Tolerance via Peroxynitrite-Mediated Nitroxidative Stress and Neuroimmune Activation Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics Nov 2008 The effective treatment of pain is typically limited by a decrease in the pain-relieving action of morphine that follows its chronic administration (tolerance). Therefore, restoring opioid efficacy is of great clinical importance. In a murine model of opioid antinociceptive tolerance, repeated administration of morphine significantly stimulated the enzymatic activities of spinal cord serine palmitoyltransferase, ceramide synthase, and acid sphingomyelinase (enzymes involved in the de novo and sphingomyelinase pathways of ceramide biosynthesis, respectively) and led to peroxynitrite-derive nitroxidative stress and neuroimmune activation [activation of spinal glial cells and increase formation of tumor necrosis factor-, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6]. Inhibition of ceramide biosynthesis with various pharmacological inhibitors significantly attenuated the increase in spinal ceramide production, nitroxidative stress, and neuroimmune activation. These events culminated in a significant inhibition of the development of morphine antinociceptive tolerance at doses devoid of behavioral side effects. Our findings implicate ceramide as a key upstream signaling molecule in the development of morphine antinociceptive tolerance and provide the rationale for development of inhibitors of ceramide biosynthesis as adjuncts to opiates for the management of chronic pain. Michael M. Ndengele, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Emanuela Masini, M. Cristina Vinci, Emanuela Esposito, Carolina Muscoli, Daniela Nicoleta Petrusca, Vincenzo Mollace, Emanuela Mazzon, Dechun Li, Irina Petrache, George M. Matuschak, and Daniela Salvemini Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri (M.M.N., D.L., G.M.M., D.S.); Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy (S.C.); Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Centro Neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo," Messina, Italy (S.C., E.Mas., E.E.); Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy (M.C.V., E.Maz.); Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples "Federico II," Naples, Italy (E.E.); Centro di Neurofarmacologia Sperimentale, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Mondino-Università Tor Vergata Rome, Rome, Italy (C.M., V.M.); and Indiana University Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana (D.N.P., I.P.)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Cannabis, Schizophrenia and Psychosis - Myth Finally Proven

No More Drug LiesCannabis does NOT cause schizophrenia or psychosis. I’ll repeat it for you, cannabis does NOT cause schizophrenia or psychosis.

A study from Keele University, Staffordshire. UK has compared figures between cannabis usage rates and cases of mental illness. The study showed that whilst cannabis use has increased dramatically, the level of mental illness has remained stable or even declined slightly. For a more robust explanation, visit

Well, what can I say but ... bprtttttttttttttttttttttttt [raspberry].

I have long asked the question ... where are the bodies? If cannabis was as bad as claimed, our hospital system would be over flowing with zonked out mental patients. I remember Michael Gormly of the
Kings Cross Times first asking the question a while back and it’s simplistic logic got my attention. Where are the bodies? So simple but so telling. Thank you Michael ... you are 100% correct.

The hoax is over and there should be some really red faces. How many times did we hear this warning? Politicians, government backed doctors, drug warriors etc. all made it perfectly clear that they had irrefutable evidence that cannabis caused mental disorders like schizophrenia and psychosis. How truly embarrassing.

Is there going to be an apology to the millions who have suffered because of the cannabis hysteria from zealots? Will the UN update their position on cannabis? Are governments going to re-evalaluate their drug policies? Will Australia change their anti-cannabis advertisements?

How did it get to this, BTW? There was never conclusive evidence that cannabis caused permanent mental disorders but the authorities ignored this. They chose the popular position put forward by anti-drug crusaders without clarifying it first and played on the public’s ignorance. How much money has been wasted putting out this lie without sufficient evidence? How many resources have been squandered to push some theory that was never proven?

We can only wait and see what effects stem from this study. I doubt if it will even make most MSM pages and if it does, it will be buried deep between an article on a horse that dances and Lindsay Lohan’s new hairdresser. Remember that some groups are still claiming that the gateway theory is true and that Amotivational Syndrome exists. I also don’t see the government making a special announcement that they got it wrong or Miranda Devine running a correction in the Sydney Morning Herald. I especially doubt Drug Free Australia (DFA) or other anti-drug campaigners will change their rabid attacks but I am certain they will try to discredit the study using some bizarre logic. I fear that nothing much will really change for the next year or so but scientific facts are hard to argue with and thankfully, always win out in the end.

Assessing The Impact Of Cannabis Use On Trends In Diagnosed Schizophrenia In The United Kingdom From 1996 To 2005


National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Frisher M, Crome I, Martino O, Croft P.
Department of Medicines Management, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, United Kingdom

A recent systematic review concluded that cannabis use increases risk of psychotic outcomes independently of confounding and transient intoxication effects. Furthermore, a model of the association between cannabis use and schizophrenia indicated that the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia would increase from 1990 onwards. The model is based on three factors: a) increased relative risk of psychotic outcomes for frequent cannabis users compared to those who have never used cannabis between 1.8 and 3.1, b) a substantial rise in UK cannabis use from the mid-1970s and c) elevated risk of 20 years from first use of cannabis. This paper investigates whether this has occurred in the UK by examining trends in the annual prevalence and incidence of schizophrenia and psychoses, as measured by diagnosed cases from 1996 to 2005. Retrospective analysis of the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) was conducted for 183 practices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The study cohort comprised almost 600,000 patients each year, representing approximately 2.3% of the UK population aged 16 to 44. Between 1996 and 2005 the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining. Explanations other than a genuine stability or decline were considered, but appeared less plausible.
In conclusion, this study did not find any evidence of increasing schizophrenia or psychoses in the general population from 1996 to 2005.

Cannabis And Mental Illness - The Keele Study
Study Debunks Claim That Pot Smoking Causes Mental Illness
New Study: Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Your Risk of Going Crazy
Chronic City: After Further Review, Smoking Pot Doesn't Make You Crazy -- Blimey!

Previous Articles Debunked
Cannabis Use And Risk Of Psychotic Or Affective Mental Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review
Effects of cannabis use on outcomes of psychotic disorders: systematic review
Are Smoking Pot and Psychosis Linked?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

2009 U.N. World Drug Report - What’s All The Fuss?

Never before has the UN Drug World Report been discussed and written about so much. The internet has certainly helped fuel the debate and make strong opinions available but the real driving force is the change of attitude towards the "War on Drugs". Where once you were deemed a bit nutty or an obvious druggie by calling for legalisation, it is now common place for media outlets to have a least one article calling for a change in drug policy. This huge shift in thinking has obviously affected the UN which is renown for their strict, US style, zero tolerance stance on drug use. The rhetoric is still thick and their mixed message remains illogical but the latest World Drug Report is the most compassionate and pragmatic public statement to date. The big question remains though - will governments (especially the US) change their drug policies and laws? Will those countries that use the UN as an excuse to implement harsh drug laws remain faithful to the UN or will they selectively choose to ignore the latest message? I can’t see Russia suddenly introducing methadone or China, Singapore and Indonesia halting their executions of drug dealers. Nor can I envisage countries like Japan, the UK or France reducing their reliance on law and order and making drug use more of a health issue. Even locally in Australia, it’s a big stretch to imagine the current Rudd government having an honest debate about drug use or to have a shift in thinking that focusses on treatment rather than incarceration. Suddenly, the Greens and Democrats drug policies are looking more realistic and those politicians who ridiculed them so aggressively are looking more like the ignorant, self serving meat-heads that they are. Listed below are several articles that give some insight into what the 314 page report entails. First up is an overview from TIME Magazine in it’s entirety. Following that are the first few paragraphs of each article. Click the [more] link for the entire article. U.N. World Drug Report TIME By M.J. Stephey June 2009
The Gist: This year's report from the U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime did something that last year's did not: it addressed the "growing chorus" of people in favor of abolishing drug laws altogether. And though its authors maintain that legalizing narcotics would be an "epic mistake," the office's executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, does agree that loosening regulations might not be such a bad idea: "You can't have effective control under prohibition, as we should have learned from our failed experiment with alcohol in the U.S. between 1920 and 1933." Highlight Reel: 1. On cocaine and heroin trafficking: "The $50 billion global cocaine market is undergoing seismic shifts. Purity levels and seizures are down, prices are up, and consumption patterns are in flux. This may explain the gruesome upsurge of violence in countries like Mexico ... While 41 % of the world's cocaine is being seized (mostly in Colombia), only one-fifth (19%) of all opiates are being intercepted ... In 2007, Iran seized 84% of the world's opium and 28% of all heroin." 2. On moving beyond "reactive law enforcement": "Those who take the "drug war" metaphor literally may feel this effort is best advanced by people in uniform with guns [but] in the end, the criminal-justice system is a very blunt instrument for dealing with drug markets ... the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of individuals is an extremely slow, expensive and labor-intensive process." 3. On targeting the right people in cracking down on drug dealing: "Street drug markets do not exist in a vacuum. The drama is played out on a very particular kind of stage, and it is the stage manager, not the actors, that must be addressed. The property in these areas is owned by someone, someone whose neglect of their property allows illicit activity to continue. Unlike the street addicts and gang members, this someone has something of value to lose — their property." See a graphic on addiction and the brain. 4. On scrapping the one-size-fits-all approach: "There is a common tendency to treat the galaxy of illicit substances as an undifferentiated mass. Different drugs come from different places, attract different consumers, and are associated with different problems ... For example, cannabis is grown in at least 176 countries around the world. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, and is often cultivated in small plots by users themselves ... For most synthetic drugs, the skills needed to access and process the needed chemicals are not widely spread and, consequently, the market tends to favor more organized groups ... In contrast, most of the cultivation of drug crops like coca and opium poppy is confined to small areas within two or three countries. Most of the world's heroin supply is produced on a land area about the size of Greater London." The Lowdown: "It all started in Shanghai in 1909," the authors note of the dawn of narcotics regulation. And what a century it's been. What began as an opium epidemic in China has since become a global problem that includes heroin, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and a host of other illicit substances that compose a $320 billion–a–year industry, making drugs one of the most valuable commodities in the world. But despite arguments that legalizing drugs would destroy the organized-crime rings that currently control the market, the report argues that "mafia coffers are equally nourished by the trafficking of arms, people and their organs, by counterfeiting and smuggling, racketeering and loan-sharking, kidnapping and piracy, and by violence against the environment." As Costa said in a statement announcing the report's release, "It is no longer sufficient to say: no to drugs. We have to state an equally vehement: no to crime." The Verdict: Skim.
UN Backs Drug Decriminalization In World Drug Report The Huffington Post By Ryan Grim
In an about face, the United Nations on Wednesday lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed skepticism about Portugal's decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. The UN had suggested the policy was in violation of international drug treaties and would encourage "drug tourism." But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal's radical (by U.S. standards) approach. "These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal's policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism," reads the report. "It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased." [more]
Drug Czar Kerlikowske Addresses Un Report On Success Of Decriminalization, Without Mentioning Decriminalization NORML By Russ Belville
The remarks from our Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy on the release of the UN 2009 World Drug Report, which endorsed drug decriminalization in a reversal of previous policy. Guess which 17-letter D-word never gets mentioned once in our “drug czar’s” 781-word statement? Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The UN notes that decriminalization in Portugal “keep[s] drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users” and “It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased.” [more]
World Drug Report Preface Majors On Legalisation Transform
Below is the text from the Preface to World Drug Report 2009 - dominated by a detailed rebuttal of the growing calls for a debate on legal regulation of drug production and supply. We have deconstructed these kind of critiques so many times before, we won’t be doing it again here - other than to observe it is the same confused mix of misrepresentations, straw man arguments, and logical fallacies that we are used to hearing from the UNODC's drug warriors. The particularly strange thing here though is that some of the analysis of the problem, the critique at least, is actually fairly good - it's where it leads that is so extraordinary.... [more]
World Drugs In Graphics BBC News
A UN agency has published a comprehensive report on the worldwide illicit drugs market, the World Drug Report 2009. The graphs and maps below show the extent of the problem and measures to tackle it. [more]
BETWEEN THE LINES As usual, the UN Drug World Report is full of praise for their own contribution to another successful year in the fight against drugs. How they qualify a success is up for debate. Once again, the UN has the drug situation under control and the projection of a better outcome next time remains a permanent promise. The report is contradictory and contains some gapping holes in logic but if you read closely, the statistics form the real picture. Production Levels The production of some drugs is down in some countries and in others, it is up. It’s the same every year. An added factor is that customs only stop about less than 20% of drug imports. In other words, drugs are readily available to anyone who seeks them ... just like last year and the year before etc.
Opium cultivation in Afghanistan, where 93% of the world's opium is grown, declined 19% in 2008, according to the UN world drug report. In Colombia, which produces half of the world's cocaine, cultivation of coca fell 18% while production declined 28% compared with 2007. Global coca production, at 845 tonnes, was said to be at a five-year low, despite some increases in cultivation in Peru and Bolivia... [...] His call for international law enforcement to target traffickers rather than users came as it was announced that there is a worldwide growth in synthetic drugs. -The Guardian
Cannabis Potency Straight from the horse’s mouth - cannabis potency has doubled in the US over the last 10 years. The claims of 10 to 30 times stronger are as ridiculous as they first sounded.
Cannabis remains the most widely cultivated and used drug around the world, although estimates are less precise. Data also show that it is more harmful than commonly believed, said the report. The average THC content (the harmful psychotropic component) of hydroponic marijuana in North America almost doubled in the past decade. "This has major health implications as evidenced by a significant rise in the number of people seeking treatment," said the report. -The Guardian
Drug Use From the UN’s figures, only 10-15% of users have a drug problem. At most, that’s 38 million out of 250 million drug users worldwide.
UNODC estimates that between 172 and 250 million persons used illicit drugs at least once in the past year in 2007. But these large figures include many casual consumers who may have tried drugs only once in the whole year. It is important, therefore, to also have estimates of the number of people who are heavy or “problematic” drug users. This group consumes most of the drugs used each year; they are very likely to be dependent upon drugs, would benefit from treatment, and many of the impacts upon public health and public order are likely to be affected by their levels of use. Estimates made by UNODC suggest that there were between 18 and 38 million problem drug users aged 15-64 years in 2007. -2009 UN Drug World Report
Increase in Cannabis Treatment The UN reports that there are between 143 and 190 million people who used cannabis in the previous 12 months. It should be noted that most of those being treated for cannabis are involuntary patients or are doing so to placate the law, employers or family. Also, most of those have not smoked cannabis in the prior month which is unusual for something that is supposed to be addictive. Decriminalisation Works The UN has always strongly been opposed to decriminalisation. When Portugal first decriminalised small amounts of drugs, the UN predicted chaos would follow and have been critical ever since. This year they have nothing but praise for the success of Portugal’s actions.
In an about face, the United Nations on Wednesday lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed skepticism about Portugal's decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. The UN had suggested the policy was in violation of international drug treaties and would encourage "drug tourism." But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal's radical (by U.S. standards) approach. "These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal's policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism," reads the report. "It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased." -The Huffington Post
Treatment vs Criminality Harsh drug laws has always been at the core of the UN’s drug policy. Treatment was always a secondary issue compared to arrest and tough policing. The well being of users including those with HIV/AIDS, has generally been overlooked for fear of Harm Minimisation programs like needle exchanges, safe injection clinics and heroin assisted treatment (HAT). It’s funny how public opinion and the media can change the minds of the UN so quickly.
In the end, the criminal justice system instrument for dealing with drug marke as the deterrent threat remains, the arre and incarceration of individuals is an expensive, and labour intensive process. -2009 UN Drug World Report
First, drug use should be treated as an illness. “People who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution,” said Mr. Costa. He appealed for universal access to drug treatment. Since people with serious drug problems provide the bulk of drug demand, treating this problem is one of the best ways of shrinking the market. [...] Fourth, he called for greater efficiency in law enforcement. He encouraged police to focus on the small number of high profile, high volume, and violent criminals instead of the large volumes of petty offenders. In some countries, the ratio of people imprisoned for drug use compared to drug trafficking is 5:1. “This is a waste of money for the police, and a waste of lives for those thrown in jail. Go after the piranhas, not the minnows,” said Mr. Costa. -UN Press Release
The UNODC will go through its annual charade of telling the world that it has 'contained' the drug problem and that they finally have organised crime gangs in their sights. But even their own propaganda cannot disguise the shocking long-term failure of international drug control efforts or disguise the fact that the UNODC oversees the system that gifts the vast illegal drug market to violent criminal profiteers, with disastrous consequences. -Danny Kushlick, Head of Policy at Transform