Monday, February 21, 2011

Research we can believe in?

Prohibitionists governments like those of Australia and the USA pour a lot of money into research on cannabis, but only if the research is trying to establish harms.

Despite this, the relatively harmless nature of the drug means there are few if any damning results. Even the current focus on trying to prove cannabis causes psychosis is producing only tenuous links, even as the media seem to accept any old research as gospel.

An article by cannabis law reformer Paul Armentano outlines the Obama Government's betrayal of its own commitment to evidence-based policy - "Change we can believe in". The American Medical Association also called for more research into medical cannabis, raising hopes among reformers.

Armentano writes:

Those hopes were snuffed, however, when a representative from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the agency that oversees 85 percent of the world's research on controlled substances, reaffirmed its longstanding "no medi-pot" policy to The New York Times. "As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use," a spokesperson told the paper in 2010. " We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana."
In other words, they only look for harms. Anything researched in this way would create a bad picture, so it is hardly scientifically balanced. Other agencies such as Australia's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) follow a similar policy, spending large amounts of scarce national health funding on their unbalanced research and subsequent anti-cannabis propaganda. NCPIC last year was funded for a further four years.

Meanwhile many people wait years for elective surgery and the shortage of nurses means more are working long or double shifts, while post-operative patients who in former times would have been cared for in hospital for a few days are filled with painkillers and immediately sent home. And try seeing a doctor on a Sunday in Sydney city. My advice is, stay healthy!

Prohibition surely screws up our national priorities.


Auron Renius said...

The propaganda campaign against marijuana is nothing new as this medieval story from the ‘Arabian Nights’ shows. The described affects of the drug are nothing like the actual high, but are exaggerated to make readers afraid to go near the drug.

“he found a quiet corner and taking out a piece of Hashish, swallowed it. Presently the fumes mounted to his brain and he rolled over on to the marble floor. Then the Hashish made him fancy that a great lord was shampooing him and that two slaves stood at his head, one bearing a bowl and the other washing gear and all the requisites of the Hammam…….

Then the slave opened it and brought out three kerchiefs of silk, one of which he threw over his head, a second over his shoulders, and a third he tied round his waist. Moreover, the eunuch gave him a pair of bath-clogs, and he put them on; after which in came white slaves and eunuchs and supported him (and he laughing the while) to the outer hall, which he found hung and spread with magnificent furniture, such as beseemeth none but kings; and the pages hastened up to him and seated him on the divan.

Then they fell to kneading him till sleep overcame him; and he dreamt that he had a girl in his arms. So he kissed her and set her between his thighs; then, sitting to her as a man sitteth to a woman, he took yard in hand and drew her towards him and weighed down upon her and lo! he heard one saying to him,

"Awake, thou ne'er-do-well! The noon-hour is come and thou art still asleep." He opened his eyes and found himself lying on the marge of the cold-water tank, amongst a crowd of people all laughing at him; for his prickle was at point and the napkin had slipped from his middle. So he knew that all this was but a confusion of dreams and an illusion of the Hashish and he was vexed and said to him who had aroused him, "Would thou hadst waited till I had put it in!"

Then said the folk, "Art thou not ashamed, O Hashish-eater, to be sleeping stark naked with stiff-standing tool?" And they cuffed him till his neck was red. Now he was starving, yet forsooth he savored the flavor of pleasure in his dream".

The Editor said...

A lovely tale from Auron Renius, and one that somehow rings true. Perhaps it goes some way to explaining the real reason so many conservative Christians hate illicit drugs but use pharmaceutical drugs: they hate anything that gives that much pleasure, even if only in dreamland, while the pharmaceutical drugs are seen as legit because they have a medical purpose.