Drugs

Listening to the People

On balance, consultation respondents were more likely to state that they were against a reclassification of cannabis from its current classification of ‘C’. Those not in favour felt that it should be either left as it is (278 respondents) or that if a legislative change were to take place, it should indeed be in the other direction, and that cannabis should be legalised (124 respondents).

No, I don\’t expect them to listen. Why, were you naive enough to think that they would?

That £1 Billion Cocaine Bust.

Number crunching:

The operation to land £1 billion of cocaine was going like clockwork: the catamaran had glided into position in the Irish Sea and the cargo was being ferried ashore to a remote location, ready for distribution across Britain.

Months of planning suddenly went awry, however, because of the simplest of blunders — somebody put diesel in a petrol engine. The mistake caused an inflatable boat to capsize, tipping dozens of bales of cocaine into the choppy waters and casting one of the drug dealers into the sea.

Tee hee of course, and it happened off Cork (not as good as Kerry, but still). But how much was there?

were jailed for their role in transporting and storing 1 tonne of high-grade cocaine.

A tonne is worth a billion is it?

There\’s a thousand grammes to a kilo, a thousand kilos to a tonne. We\’ve thus got one million grammes here. A billion is one thousand million so each gramme is being valued at £1,000. I agree that I\’m not fully au fait with the costs of cocaine in the retail market but this does sound rather higher than the likely number, doesn\’t it?

The cocaine recovered from the sea was 75 per cent pure. When sold on the street the drug is usually only between 12 and 15 per cent pure. By some estimates the haul could have raised more than £1 billion had it reached the streets.

Even with that we\’re estimating it at £200 a gramme retail. As I say, I don\’t really know the details but that does sound remarkably high.

Plus, of course, we\’ve got the fact that cocaine landed is vastly more valuable than the same material at sea, just as coke packaged into retail units is vastly more valuable than it is in bulk.

New Evidence on Skunk

New research has shown that smoking high strength skunk or smoking cannabis for many years greatly increases the risk of psychosis.

They say that they\’ve solcved the causality problem:

Dr Di Forti said the study helps to disprove a popular hypothesis that mental health problems were linked with cannabis because people who were already ill were attracted to drugs in an attempt to ease their symptoms.

She said: "There is no evidence that people who develop psychosis have used cannabis because they were already ill. Other studies have shown people who smoking cannabis quite heavily had no psychotic symptoms before they started."

Anyone with enough medical (or statistical) knowledge to tell whether this is in fact true or not?

Satire is Dead

Yes, I know, it\’s been pronounced dead many times: Tom Lehrer after Nixon was elected being one of them. But really:

Smoking tobacco in restaurants and cafes across Holland is now illegal, but customers are still allowed to light up pure cannabis cigarettes.

….

He said: "It\’s absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they\’ll look to see if you\’ve got cigarette in your marijuana."

What can one say?

Freedom Loving Tories

While Basher rises the horse of civil liberties others in the party wish to curtail them.

All communities need to be treated equally under the rule of law irrespective of their background and we must never fail to take action on issues like khat because the prevalence of the drug in the UK is relatively low or because it is restricted to some minority communities. When any section of society is under threat, affected or underachieving, we must all stand up. That is why a future Conservative government would legislate to make khat a classified drug.

You do, of course, have a natural right to ingest what and as you wish: restraining a man from an action purely for his own good, as Mr. Mill pointed out, is not a justified restriction of his liberty.

Worse than that is the point that she misses how the illegality of drugs adds heavily to the harm that they do. And finally, as an authoritarian she seems to think that making activity illegal stops said activity.

Ask the nation\’s four million regular tokers about that one maybe?

Rupert Everett

Not had a lot of time for him over the years: much too much of a luvvie for me. However, the man does seem to have some sensible ideas:

"I don\’t think prostitution will ever end, just as drug taking will never end. Both should be legalised as a way of controlling them. Cut out the middleman. Tax them. Use the money to fund clinics for the victims."

Clever Code

He and his co-conspirators allegedly used code words for the drugs, including "party favours" and "refreshments" so as to avoid detection.

No one would be able to break that one now, would they?

Well, OK

Fair enough, cannabis does have physical effects:

Smoking cannabis for long periods of time may shrink parts of the brain that govern memory, emotion and aggression, according to researchers in Australia. Scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of people who admitted to smoking more than five joints a day for at least 10 years and compared them with brain images taken from non-drug users.

Those who smoked cannabis regularly had on average a 12% smaller hippocampus, the part of the brain which is thought to be involved with emotion and memory, and a 7% smaller amygdala, which plays a role in regulating fear and aggression.

Now I\’m certainly no expert on dosages but 5 joints a day for a decade….that\’s pretty heavy usage isn\’t it? What would we say it is in comparison to alcohol? A bottle of spirits a day? More?

And at that sort of level we\’d expect to find some physical effects of alcohol consumption, wouldn\’t we?

Do we use the incidence of cirrhosis to ban alcohol? No, but I\’m sure someone will try to use this paper on cannabis to continue the ban on that.

Last month, a team at New York University scanned the brains of a group of 17- to 30-year-olds who had smoked cannabis two to three times a week for at least a year. In that study, the brains of drug users looked no different from those who had never taken cannabis.

As we\’ve known sinice Paracelsus, the poison is the dise.

 

Where Do They Get These Stories From?

The 21-year-old former cannabis user started coming to Kidswell park in Maidenhead to smoke when she was about 12. Cannabis use has become so normal in the quiet Berkshire town, that smoking a spliff in public is almost acceptable.

Her friend, Calum, is a case in point: “I skinned up in McDonald’s the other day, and no one said a word.”

You know, following the smoking ban in public places, I really rather doubt that. Don\’t you?

Dope and Psychosis

The report said that “to prevent one case of schizophrenia in men aged 20 to 24 about 5,000 men would have to be prevented from ever smoking cannabis”.

So 5,000 people must be so scared by the threat of an extra three years in jail, (ie, 15,000 man years of jail) to stop one case. Even on these very dodgy numbers, it still doesn\’t add up, does it?

In the original figures that started this whole scare, there were 432 extra cases identified as being linked to cannabis (that\’s without considering the correlation/causation conundrum) , so to prevent those extra cases we need to hang 6.5 million man years of jail time over the heads to the population.

When police cells are being used to warehouse convicts, that\’s really not a very credible threat, nor is it a sensible one.

Fuckwits.

Jacqui Smith: Blithering Idiot

The Government has confirmed it will strengthen the laws against cannabis by reclassifying the drug from class C to class B.

For Fucks Sake! Fools, morons!

A wise man once wrote this:

In Oliver Cromwell\’s eloquent words, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on "Prohibition and Drugs." The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, "crack" would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man\’s lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, "be forever for rent," but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes "on suspicion" can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Why is it that we are ruled by morons?

Oh My Giddy Aunt!

This I find hilarious: both funny Ha-Ha and funny as in my God I want to start measuring people for lamp posts

A convicted drugs criminal has escaped an order to have up to £4.5 million of his assets confiscated because no legal aid barrister would take on the case.

More than 30 barristers from London, Leeds and Sheffield were approached to represent the offender, but refused because they felt the new fixed-rate legal aid fees of £175.25 per day does not justify the complex workload that would be involved.

That\’s the funny ha ha bit: in their mad urge to gut the legal system (one of the things that only government can do and therefore must do) to save money to be spent on outreach workers (something that others than government can do and thus government need not do) they entirely screw themselves: for the lack of a few hundred pounds a day they lose the £1.5 million they were chasing.

Then there\’s the funny leading to rage bit:

The offender, who has served a nine-month sentence for two drugs convictions, could not pay for the legal fees himself because his assets had been frozen.

Yup, you\’re not allowed to use your own money to fund your own defense. Because the burden of proof is reversed here: they say it all came from drugs and it\’s up to you to prove it isn\’t. But since the assumptions is that it is indeed all drug money, you can\’t use that to employ your own lawyers.

It also exposed the “draconian” provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 under which offenders convicted of a drugs-related offence faced having assets seized that could in theory be counted as gained from a “criminal lifestyle”.

“So although this defendant was convicted of offences only involving a few hundred pounds’ worth of cannabis, he found himself at risk of losing £4.5 million worth of assets – with the burden on him to prove that they were not ill-gotten gains. On top of that, he was prohibited from using those assets for his own defence," Mr Versfeld said.

And guess what children? They\’re about to make it worse. The next stage of the law, currently being railroaded through Parliament, is that the confiscation of presumed to be drug related assets will take place upon arrest. Yes, really, upon arrest on drugs charges they will be able to take all of your money. So in the future you won\’t even be able to use your own money to defend yourself on the criminal charges to do with drugs in the first place.

Now that\’s really gutting the legal system, don\’t you think? A deliberate method of negating your opportunity to employ a lawyer of your choice.

Time to start checking those lamp post fopr their weight bearing capabilities, don\’t you think?

As Uncle Milt pointed out:

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic. This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence.

It isn\’t possible to fight the "War on Drugs" and remain with any semblance of the liberty for which our forefathers fought and died. It is necessary to take sides here therefore: liberty, including the liberty to toot? Or no liberty and drugs still remain, if illegal?

Excellent News, Don\’t You Think?

Herbal cannabis grown in Britain has overtaken imported Moroccan resin and now accounts for 85 per cent of the cannabis seized from users, according to private Home Office research presented to the Advisory Committee.

Does wonders for the trade balance.

Sir Simon on Drugs

Bloody right:

The moral and practical case for controlling a market that has defied suppression for a third of a century is overwhelming. Drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin must somehow be distributed within the ambit of legal and medical regulation, as they were to an extent before 1971 and are slowly being elsewhere. Finding a means of doing this, given the scale of the illicit market, is a mighty challenge; but only cowardice places it beyond the capacity of Britain\’s politicians. All they can do is bleat out their pathetic "messages". Next week\’s will be one of abject surrender.

Eh?

So Brown is likely to ignore the advice and reclassify cannabis. Fool, but then we knew that. This rather surprises though.

The experts heard evidence that 85% of what is available on the streets is herbal cannabis – two to three times stronger than the previously ubiquitous imported Moroccan cannabis resin.

I\’m a couple of decades away from my brief flirtation with such things but herbal cannabis stronger than resin? Some mistake there, surely?

Red Bull Kills!

Well, maybe:

Fears have been raised over the safety of high-caffeine energy drinks after an inquest heard they could have brought on a fatal heart attack.

The bloke had an underlying condition and was drinking four cans of Red Bull a shift. Each can has about the same caffeine as a cup of coffee: it\’s nothingto do with Red Bull as such, it\’s the caffeine.

Amazingly the report says that the drink has been banned in some countries: why is coffee, equaly dangerous, not also banned? That would be because everyone agrees that that would be stupid: so why the ban on Red Bull?

Sensible Boris

Mr Johnson said: "I have thought about this for a little bit, but I haven\’t looked at all the evidence and talked to the police about it in a way I would before giving more than an extempore answer.

"However, I do think there is a case when cannabis is being used to alleviate severe and chronic pain that the law should be flexible."

That it should be flat out legal we all know, it\’s just that you\’re rather held back by the social authoritarians you hang out with….