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High Times… April 24, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There’s a lot of good sense in this piece here from the Guardian a while back where a former marijuana user and now neuroscientist outlines some sensible thoughts on the drug. Effectively she sums it up as a situation where regulation and attitudes previously were unscientific and too constrained but that there are significant problems in relation to some who use it developing psychosis.

Or as she puts it:

We are swept up in a backlash against overly restrictive and unscientific regulation of cannabis. While it is well past time to loosen restrictions, promote research and consider the data that emerges, the Lancet study provides evidentiary warning about the inherent dangers – to some – of our quest to mitigate reality.

It’s widely accepted that the strength of variants now available is much greater than thirty and forty years ago and that’s interesting and concerning.

Grisel writes;

Addiction and psychosis are similar in that they are the result of biological vulnerability combined with a stressful environment. Some are more predisposed than others, and this should provoke ethical and moral obligation – particularly from those of us who are not at risk – to protect the unlucky ones for whom the use of cannabis may be permanently detrimental.

How though to do that? And how to measure risk? And there’s this anecdote which she starts her piece with which in a way puts those questions in more concrete form:

Occasionally during my love affair with marijuana I would experience perceptual disruptions profound enough to freak me out. One time I was driving along a crowded road when my car seemed a little wobbly and then listed towards the centre, an alarming thud-thud emanating from the back end. In the middle of a densely populated spot without a hard shoulder, I crept slowly across a few lanes of traffic and pulled to a stop. Concentrating very hard, I got out of the car to assess and hopefully change the flat tyre. I rarely got paranoid from smoking weed; neither did it typically make me sleepy. Instead, I was among the lucky ones, as the drug made everyday activities such as gardening, waiting on tables and talking to my family bearable if not interesting. So I was shocked and embarrassed to find, after a few minutes of close inspection amid the honking horns, that there was nothing wrong with the car. At the time I took hallucinations as evidence of a good score. Now, as an ex-smoker and neuroscientist whose focus is addictive drugs, I know that my resilient response to this stressful experience was contingent on having a neurotypical brain.

But hallucinations while at the wheel of a car? That sounds like more than potential trouble.

Comments»

1. An Sionnach Fionn - April 24, 2019

I’m very much in two minds about the decriminalisation of drugs in general. Politically and intellectually I favour the Portuguese model of permitting personal use and treating the side effects as a health problem. Anecdotally, however, I know several regular users of cannabis who are stereotypical dope-heads and they are pretty feckless characters, even if they hold down jobs and so on. Which makes me wary of total decriminalisation. But then again, maybe they were predisposed to be like that anyway? The drugs certainly didn’t help, though.

In general I think we should probably grasp the nettle and follow Portugal. But only if we are prepared to be put in the money and resources to do the health end of the model. Otherwise it could be a bit of a disaster.

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WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2019

Couldn’t agree more – My libertarian side says decriminalisation but the pragmatic gloomy side has had similar experiences to yourself re people and seen the effects on communities too so anything in that direction without genuine deep rooted social supports just isn’t good enough and isn’t worth the effort.

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2. CL - April 24, 2019

“Alcohol is responsible for 88 deaths every month in Ireland. That’s over 1,000 deaths per year.”
http://alcoholireland.ie/facts/alcohol-related-harm-facts-and-statistics/

“the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration drug sheet for marijuana reports that no deaths from marijuana overdose have ever been recorded….
However, marijuana has played an indirect role in fatalities. Experts that we talked with agreed that the drug itself doesn’t cause major acute health problems and is far safer than other medications. However, they said that it can still dangerously inhibit someone’s ability to make safe decisions.”
https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/aug/16/gary-johnson/gary-johnson-claims-marijuana-cant-kill-and-prescr/

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3. yourcousin - April 24, 2019

So I lived through the legalization of medical marijuana and then recreational marijuana here in Colorado. I voted for its legalization even though I don’t smoke due to job restrictions (and it just wasn’t my thing).

I voted for it based on the libertarian leaning sentiment of responsible adults behind closed doors theory. And that it would be taxed at a higher rate and that money would go to education.

I can’t say I regret my decision because the reasoning was/is sound. I regret the outcome though. Colorado has seen a huge influx of pot heads which has contributed greatly to a larger demographic shift in the state. This has led to gentrification and other knock on effects.

My wife and I have both served on weed DUI cases as jurors. In my case no one was hurt. In the case my wife sat on a little old lady was killed by a driver who had been smoking, but because marijuana metabolizes differently from alcohol you can have a lot in your system from being a regular smoker regardless of the last time you smoked, so its subjective on whether or not someone is impaired. So crime is harder to quantify (both cases ended in hung juries and or mistrials).

All antecdotal, but it’s not harmless, I can tell you that. That being said I’m still more concerned about big pharma pumping legal heroin into communities all across the country.

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4. Alibaba - April 24, 2019

People have been taking drugs to get off their heads since civilization began. The types used varies over time. We’ve long since known that alcohol and tobacco as well as pharmaceutical pushed medication can addict users, though they get them legally anyway.

Check out any regular cannabis users nowadays, especially the “weed” variant and see how it saps their motivation and predisposes some people with mental ill-health to unhappy outcomes.

The way to stop the harmful effects of drugs is through education about their effects. But as long as drugs are illegal, education about their use is inadequate, conditions for safer use don’t exist, and the control of their supply remains in the hands of dealers and the state. That’s why I’m in favour of decriminalisation of personal drug use.

Ideally all drugs should be legalised and available under a state monopoly or at least my revolutionary purity tells me so. I bear in mind that if drugs were sold privately, the dealers or companies would push the most addictive drugs to boost profits. I will never forget the slogan hoisted by Dublin inner city people during the heroin epidemic: Addicts we care, Pushers beware. They got involved in direct action to get the dealers out of their communities. Exporting the problem is understandable but it isn’t an adequate answer. That’s why I support the criminalisation of major dealers.

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5. CL - April 25, 2019

” A company in Britain has raised $US34 million ($46 million) for a large-scale trial using psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression that they plan to offer to Britain’s National Health Service.”
https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/michael-pollan-why-i-started-taking-lsd-and-what-it-helped-me-to-do-20180627-h11xv3.html

“One of the nation’s largest distributors of opioids has entered into a non-prosecution consent decree with the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which accused the company, Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), of failing to properly report thousands of suspicious orders of oxycodone, fentanyl and other controlled substances.
At the same time, the company’s former chief executive, Lawrence Doud, has been placed under arrest by federal drug agents. Doud is the first pharmaceutical executive associated with the nation’s opioid crisis to face a criminal charge of diverting drugs for an illegitimate purpose.”
https://abc7ny.com/ex-ceo-becomes-1st-drug-executive-indicted-in-opioid-crisis/5266275/

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6. Lamentreat - April 27, 2019

Was in Dublin over Easter and on the sunny weekend it seemed like people were openly smoking hash on every corner, noticeably more than even a couple of years ago. Have the Guards given up on doing people for possession/consumption? (Which I’d be in favour of.) But from the smell of it, there wasn’t too much sign of “new and powerful strains” getting to Ireland, just the same old diesel..

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WorldbyStorm - April 27, 2019

Had a similar experience abroad this last week. I hope that that is the case that it is same old same old and that may be the case in some parts though a close friend of mine works in the area of drugs and social work in parts of Dublin that have had very negative long term experience of neglect and indifference from state and other services and he thinks there there are real problems with v strong strains.

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