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July 22, 2007

Reefer Madness II

This pretty much explains what is going on currently over trying to upgrade cannabis to a Class B drug:

Apparently 8% are regular users (from today's Observer). Some 500 a year have psychotic episodes as a result (perhaps too strong: there's a correlation between 500 extra such episodes a year and the moving of cannabis from Class B down to Class C a few years back).

Thus 4 million people must be threatened with 5 years in jail to "save" those 500. Let's assume, just because we have to assume something, that each and every one of those episodes lasts a full year.

So 20 million man years in jail as opposed to 500 man years in a mental hospital.

People are taking this argument seriously? Or is this just Bansturbation Nation? 

July 22, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink

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Comments

Those are the stat's I was looking for. I'm taking it seriously, and I am sure that a lot of doctors and coppers are taking it seriously. I wouldn't mind the bansturbation so much, it's the f***wittery of politicians that disturbs me. See Rogt T's excellent article on LibUK.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jul 22, 2007 12:49:42 PM

This is the kind of analysis we need if sanity is ever to return to this consumed-with-afternoon tv-fuckwittery "even one victim is too many" ex-serious nation of semi-educated sentimentalists.

Posted by: Tom Paine | Jul 22, 2007 12:58:04 PM

"This is the kind of analysis we need if sanity is ever to return to this consumed-with-afternoon tv-fuckwittery "even one victim is too many" ex-serious nation of semi-educated sentimentalists."

Please tell me when this golden age existed.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Jul 22, 2007 1:14:39 PM

No government has the right to legislate against free men and women consuming whatever plants they see fit.

And we ARE free men and women.

Furthermore this anti-cannabis hysteria really started in the 20th century. Until that time it was a normal and accepted part of English culture. We may if we wish regard the pre-Nixon age as a 'golden age', but the truth of the matter is that the controls on cannabis are a very new and oppressive set of measures inflicted on an unwilling population. Human beings have lived with this plant for thousands of years.

This cannabis plant lets us be free from brutality, and to see the possibility of peaceful co-existence on the basis of reason and compassion. The schools, armies, prisons and other instruments of indoctrination in the name of Her Majesty the Queen are all threatened by the light of the plant that turns sheep into lions. This is the real reason why the government opposes cannabis. Post-20th century government is all about control and domination, to protect itself from its own people.

Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 22, 2007 1:40:53 PM

Bansturbation bothers me less than f***wittery.

For example they banned fox-hunting. Stupid, petty and so on, but frustrated fox-hunters haven't gone on the rampage or anything. There was a small fall in general jolliness, a few people lost their jobs, sad, but that's the end of it. That's bansturbation.

Trying to prevent people from taking drugs has colossal social costs, which affect the whole of society. That's f***wittery.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jul 22, 2007 2:19:08 PM

I do not know why this upsets you so much. Do you really wants people stoned out of their minds and for them and you to suffer the consequences? I think it's all a pathetic middle aged pose. I am far more worried by Land Value Tax.

Posted by: Bill | Jul 22, 2007 3:06:53 PM

This business about a link between marijuana and schizophrenia is deeply suspect. In the first place there is no such thing as schizophrenia (this is an open secret in the psychiatric profession) - it is a group of probably unrelated psychotic conditions of many types, plus a variety of side effects related to the neuroleptic drugs used to treat the symptoms and the rebound and withdrawal effects of these drugs.

As for the relationship between psychotic symptoms and marijuana, the whole area is distorted by the fact that it is easy to get funding for, and publish, research into the harm of marijuana - but not the opposite. This is something said by many active researchers in the field of illegal drugs.

I would expect that a drug like marijuana would probably make an existing psychosis worse; but since there are so many causes of psychosis, and the cause is not known in the vast majority of people, it is hard to be more specific than this.

But it is a big mistake to assume that if marijuana continues to be illegal this will stop people using it, it is also a big mistake to assume that the choice is beteen marijuana and no drugs.

Realistically it is a choice between marijuana and other forms of intoxicant, mainly high-dose alcohol. And high dose alcohol is a _much_ more dangerous drug than marijuana. It kills many thousands of people per year directly, and is responsible for half the RTAs and half of violent crime (according to stats that I have seen).

So - if the choice is between marijuana and alcohol, marijuana is a much less antisocial drug (less violence and harm to others). So, marijuana should be legal.

Posted by: Bruce G Charlton | Jul 22, 2007 3:20:26 PM

This business about a link between marijuana and schizophrenia is deeply suspect. In the first place there is no such thing as schizophrenia (this is an open secret in the psychiatric profession) - it is a group of probably unrelated psychotic conditions of many types, plus a variety of side effects related to the neuroleptic drugs used to treat the symptoms and the rebound and withdrawal effects of these drugs.

As for the relationship between psychotic symptoms and marijuana, the whole area is distorted by the fact that it is easy to get funding for, and publish, research into the harm of marijuana - but not the opposite. This is something said by many active researchers in the field of illegal drugs.

I would expect that a drug like marijuana would probably make an existing psychosis worse; but since there are so many causes of psychosis, and the cause is not known in the vast majority of people, it is hard to be more specific than this.

But it is a big mistake to assume that if marijuana continues to be illegal this will stop people using it, it is also a big mistake to assume that the choice is beteen marijuana and no drugs.

Realistically it is a choice between marijuana and other forms of intoxicant, mainly high-dose alcohol. And high dose alcohol is a _much_ more dangerous drug than marijuana. It kills many thousands of people per year directly, and is responsible for half the RTAs and half of violent crime (according to stats that I have seen).

So - if the choice is between marijuana and alcohol, marijuana is a much less antisocial drug (less violence and harm to others). So, marijuana should be legal.

Posted by: Bruce G Charlton | Jul 22, 2007 3:23:10 PM

I agree Bruce. There seems to be a readiness to diagnose people as mentally ill via a highly subjective and unregulated process consisting of a series of questions by any doctor relating to whether a subject has any history of cannabis use.

You wrote:

"there is no such thing as schizophrenia (this is an open secret in the psychiatric profession) "

and outside, too. It just seems to be a catch-all phrase to pigeon-hole anyone who seems in some way "abnormal" or who doesn't fit the mould. The psychiatric profession is used to deal with social misfits and rebellious people, and it's well documented that black people for instance are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than whites. I have heard terrible stories from former mental health nurses about the abuses that go on in psychiatric wards: the inequalities, brutality, bullying and downright subjectiveness and arbitrariness in every aspect of dealing with "schizophrenics" i.e. difficult people.

If nobody knows what this "schizophrenia" is, then nobody has ANY business diagnosing it.

Here's an example of what this "mental health" pseudo-scientific claptrap is REALLY all about:

http://crimepsychblog.com/?p=1531

Posted by: Opinionated | Jul 22, 2007 4:45:23 PM

"Furthermore this anti-cannabis hysteria really started in the 20th century. Until that time it was a normal and accepted part of English culture."

I know the poetry classes, like Samuel Coleridge, Asian travellers and eroticists like Sir Richard Burton, and traders like William Jardine, were all into opium but I didn't know cannabis smoking was rife in the 19th century as well.

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 22, 2007 5:32:05 PM

Slightly off at a tangent, I visited William Wordsworth's home (now a museum) in the Lake District earlier this year.

The guided tour included an inspection of the Wordsworth family's drugs paraphernalia (scales, etc.) and an amusing anecdote about Samuel Coleridge who - staying as a house quest with Wordsworth and sleeping in a downstairs room - frequently kept the entire household awake with his opium induced nightmares.

Posted by: James Barlow | Jul 22, 2007 5:58:56 PM

"This cannabis plant lets us be free from brutality, and to see the possibility of peaceful co-existence on the basis of reason and compassion. The schools, armies, prisons and other instruments of indoctrination in the name of Her Majesty the Queen are all threatened by the light of the plant that turns sheep into lions. "

Make up your mind - which is it? Or is this an example of the muddled thinking that comes with long-term cannabis use?

Posted by: JuliaM | Jul 22, 2007 6:09:30 PM

Schizophrenia rates are stable globally at 1% of the population suffering an episode. Skunk use is irrelevant.

Arguably if weed was legal people would not be driven to growing high yield skunk.

Posted by: Guido Fawkes | Jul 22, 2007 9:33:15 PM

Worth recalling this recent report in the Independent:

"The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which examined the issue 18 months ago, will be asked to do so again. It concluded in its report in December 2005 that the strength of cannabis resin (hash) had changed little over 30 years and was about 5 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Skunk, it found was 10 to 15 per cent THC - two to three times as strong, not 25 times. Professor Leslie Iversen, a pharmacologist at Oxford University, said the widespread belief that skunk was 20 to 30 times as powerful was 'simply not true'. . .

"On the question of psychosis, the advisory council was clear. Cannabis use may worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia and lead to a relapse in some patients. But on causation, it said: 'The evidence suggests, at worst, that using cannabis increases the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by 1 per cent.'

"It added that more than three million people were estimated to have used cannabis in the previous year, but 'very few will ever develop this distressing and disabling condition'. . .

"Scientists led by Professor Murray, at the Institute of Psychiatry, have argued that cannabis smoking can trigger psychosis in vulnerable individuals. A key worry is that young people are starting to smoke the drug earlier, in their mid-teens, when their brains are more vulnerable.

"But experts led by Professor David Nutt, a specialist in addiction psychiatry at the University of Bristol, said in The Lancet in March that a causal link had not been established. Even if it were, cannabis could account for at most 7 per cent of cases of schizophrenia, he said."
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2788634.ece

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 22, 2007 9:52:52 PM

"Worth recalling this recent report in the Independent"

NOTHING in the Independent is worth reading, let alone recalling. The Green Godess "WiFi will kill you unless you buy these crystal pendants" story went unchallenged by the editorial staff (who obviously weren't unduly worried by the same dizzy woman's "nuclear weapons are harmless" statement either).

Useless lying whingefest rag pretending to be a newspaper.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jul 22, 2007 10:21:28 PM

"Useless lying whingefest rag pretending to be a newspaper."

Are you accusing the Indy of actually inventing the quotes attributed to the various academics in its report on cannabis then?

If not, then perhaps you could address what they are quoted as saying rather than just heaping abuse on the paper. I don't know about you but personally, I'm open to persuation on the balance of the evidence and the argument.

Posted by: Bob B | Jul 22, 2007 10:33:55 PM

Bill, 3.06. Land Value Tax is the least-worst tax. The only argument is, should the proceeds be used to replace other taxes (and if so which) or should they be used to increase government spending?

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jul 22, 2007 10:42:18 PM

"Are you accusing the Indy of actually inventing the quotes attributed to the various academics in its report on cannabis then?"

No. The Indy is like Tony Blair: doesn't always twist and deceive, but it's just too tiring to work out when it's not. It's simpler to drop it from the list of information sources.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jul 23, 2007 9:20:18 AM

Kay Tie:

You've summed up quite nicely the idiocy of trying to distinguish between "true" and other kinds of facts--not to mention the twists of interpretation applicable to both types or mixtures of the two.

But I'm way ahead of you on that account: haven't read newspaper or magazine over 27 years now and only about an hour a week watching such (news) on TV.

Posted by: gene berman | Jul 23, 2007 5:22:37 PM