Monday, December 03, 2012

Ten steps to legalisation

With cannabis now properly legalised in Colorado USA, the people behind the campaign have kindly published a blueprint for the success of their campaign.

While not all steps apply in the Australian context, it's a pretty good guide. Their campaign cost 'only' $US2.3 million - pretty small beer in US election terms.

See the full Huffington Post article here, highly recommended for anyone interested in legalisation.

Friday, October 05, 2012

War on Drugs still killing and incarcerating

Among all the causes promoting human and animal rights... a reminder that international drug prohibition is still mass-murdering and incarcerating people who haven't actually harmed anyone - from London School of Economics:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Liberals unleash sniffer dogs in alcohol crackdown - huh?

Every night sees one or two shootings in Sydney's western/southern suburbs plus usually a few stabbings. Then a western suburbs Bulldogs footy fan punches poor Thomas Kelly to death at 10pm in Kings Cross - alcohol, venues or drugs not involved as far as we know. Now the NSW government has announced its response which of course is all about Kings Cross (not about western suburbs thugs or footy culture).

While the local NIMBYS will scream, some of it's good. More late-night buses. Tick. More cops on the beat. Tick. (We know that works because when the Riot Squad was deployed in KX during the 'Bikie Wars' a couple of years ago, the violence shrank to nearly zero, a fact not reported in the big media.)
They haven't imposed venue lockouts. Tick. Imagine an army of angry young people locked out of venues at the same time, challenging bouncers. (Google 'Assault by bouncers' to get an idea of the problems that would bring - it goes for pages and pages). They are introducing ID scanners so once someone is barred from a venue, they are barred from all venues. This might work as long as the original barring was fair (see 'Bouncers' above).

Then comes the jewel in the crown: Premier Barry O'Farrell is giving sniffer dogs free rein on trains and in the streets of Kings Cross, no pesky warrants required. Huh? The first year they brought in the dogs the NSW Ombudsman tracked their results - from more than 2,500 searches on trains, not one trafficable amount of any drug was found. Great use of resources, Barry.

Many call to end the sniffer dog regime as it's part of the problem in party precincts: peaceable stoners are kept out or prevented from taking their favourite puff, creating an alcohol monoculture. Duh. Fail.

So how did this get up? Not one advocate was calling for it. No, it's just the automatic reaction of conservative governments pandering to ultra-right maniacs in their ranks like, in this case, David Clarke who just knows that prohibition is the only thing standing between civilisation and armageddon. David, Google  'Assault by bouncers' again and tell me what the actual problem is?

This idiocy ranks with actions of the Dutch Conservatives who got elected on an immigration ticket and immediately turned against the famous cannabis coffee shops, trying to ruin a thriving sector of the economy during the biggest European recession since the war. Never mind that Holland has one of the lowest cannabis usage rates in the world. (Hang on, I thought liberalising the pot laws was supposed to produce streets full of incoherent stoners? Oh no, that's right - it's just conservative dogma, as is increasing police powers).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thomas Kelly and the latest Kings Cross panic

Even the recently diminished Sydney Morning Herald has bought into the latest tizz about 'fixing' Kings Cross after the senseless murder of Thomas Kelly who was king-hit from behind at random in Victoria Street, about 100 metres from where I live.

Never mind that this assault, and a day or two later a serious 'glassing', took place before 10 pm, the hue and cry is again raised about late-night trading and 'over-saturation' of venues.

Never mind that neither Thomas Kelly or his alleged attacker had been in any of the local venues [This was later debated as I have sinced blogged here]. Never mind that within the week another man was similarly killed by a king-hit in Kingscliff in northern NSW, and another serious 'glassing' took place in south-west Sydney. No, the problem is apparently Kings Cross and its late-night venues.

Then two ex-first grade Rugby League players were arrested for the Kingscliff incident and one Kieran Loveridge was arrested over the Kings Cross incident - while watching a practice session of League team the Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore oval.

Presuming that Loveridge attends practice sessions of his favourite League team because he is pretty heavily into the game, it seems football and its culture of macho violence is the common problem here, not Kings Cross. But do we hear any outcry about Rugby League? Quite the opposite as I show below.

Friday, May 04, 2012

How the tail wags the dog on drug law reform

I've said it before, now someone else is saying it. The self-interest groups opposing drug law reform are an ugly bunch, never mind the clear persecution and injustice it brings (see evidence post below in main blog).

Thursday, May 03, 2012

How the War on Drugs = racism

OK this is too wide for this blog template but it's readable. See the original here - it's an excellent piece of research that, especially towards the end, applies to Australia (we didn't have actual slavery and we don't have the same crack laws but we do have the same discrimination).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A tough list for climate change sceptics to deny

Even climate change sceptics probably like biodiversity, which has
already fallen by 30% in the last 40 years - a yellow dragonfly I snapped
in our back garden in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.
Climate change sceptics never mention the alarming data below, one of the best summaries of the pain our children will face if we don't act now to seriously remedy the problems being caused by our attachment to the fossil-fuel economy. Climate change sceptics also conveniently gloss over the credibility of senior scientists like NASA's Prof James Hansen, hardly a "tree-hugging hippie greenie" as they like to typify renewable energy supporters and conservationists. The following is the must-read introduction to

The world’s best climate science from NASA (Prof James Hansen), the Potsdam Institute (Prof John Schellnhuber- chief climate adviser to the European Community), the Tyndall Climate Research Centre (Prof Kevin Anderson) is now telling us desperately urgent action needs to be taken within 5 years to avert a global catastrophe taking place as early as 2040. If the Federal Government along with other Governments of leading polluting nations don’t act quickly enough, billions of people lives will be put at risk.
AUSTRALIA: In the last three years Australia has experienced an avalanche of extreme weather, including record heat and fires in Victoria with 374 fatalities, a record two years of rain, repeated “1-in-a-100-year” floods, record heat waves in Adelaide and Perth, and Cyclone Yasi, all following a devastating decade-long drought.
GLOBAL: It’s happening everywhere, with record global temperatures, more than 15,000 temperature records broken in the USA in March this year, devastating floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia, record heat and drought in Texas, and what the Europeans are calling “weather weirding”. Most of these changes and extreme events have a direct link to climate change.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to criminalise children

'Childsplay' in London [Pic: Mirror]
Meanwhile, as Sydney weathers its hail of bullets, children in England are being recruited en masse into gangs and a life of crime, according to this graphic Mirror article.  The harms of the War on Drugs are greater than the harms of drugs.

Sydney's shooting spree brings back the Al Capone days

Guns confiscated by South Australian police in
a "bikie-related" raid - plenty more where these
came from thanks to the War on Drugs.
Suburbs in the south and west of Sydney seem criss-crossed by a hail of bullets as gun-toting gangsters sort out their disputes without recourse to the law. The SMH reports another four incidents last night alone, with a tattoo parlour in Baulkham Hills targeted for the third time in a city that is awash with thousands of illegal firearms.

These gangsters must operate outside the legal system because they trade in prohibited drugs, just as Al Capone dealt in sly grog during his prohibition era and delivered justice from the barrel of a machine-gun. As usual however, the media do not link today's violence to its fundamental cause - prohibition. They and the police ignore the causes and carry on as if treating the symptoms of the War on Drugs will do anything besides stuff our jails with prisoners kept by the public purse.

Bullets are flying and people are dying across the world in their tens of thousands, but still prohibitionists bang on as if the harms of drugs are the real issue. The whole debate about decriminalisation carries on in a separate compartment of the official mind with prohibitionists including Julia Gillard droning on about drugs "killing people and ripping apart families". In fact only one or two percent of drug users ever have any significant problems (check the statistics) and many of those exist only because the drugs are illegal and therefore supplied by criminals. Most of the drugs themselves are in fact clinically safer than alcohol or tobacco.

Let's hope none of their friends or family members ever stop a gangster's bullet. That's what rips families apart.
Bullets fly in the 'burbs, getting uncomfortably close to
someone's home. [file pic]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Guardian explains again why the War on Drugs has failed

Prohibitionists have railed and rallied against the Australia 21 Report with the likes of Andrew Bolt using a combination of mockery and selective facts to slam it. But such people always ignore facts such as the following, published by the Guardian/Observer - and the immense collateral damage wrought on families by prohibition:
It hasn't even worked well in America, its birthplace. When Nixon announced the war on drugs in 1971, the US kept just 0.2% of its population behind bars. Today, it incarcerates close to 0.8% of its population – 2.25 million Americans. A further 5 million are on parole or probation. In total, more than 7 million people in the US are under correctional supervision. If they were all gathered together they could form the 13th biggest state of the union by population.
This is the highest percentage of adults imprisoned anywhere in the world. These figures matter because the mandatory sentencing for drugs misuse has contributed hugely to the rise of the US prison population. In 2006, nearly one in eight prisoners was behind bars for marijuana-related offences. By 2003, more than half of females in US prisons were serving sentences for drug convictions. Approximately half-a-million people are in prison for a drug offence in the US today compared with 40,000 in 1981.
In the US, it isn't a war on drugs any longer – it has become a war on drug users.
On the bright side, shock-jock Alan Jones has apparently come out in favour of decriminalisation. The prohibitionists' ranks are dwindling under an onslaught of sense. If only the politicians would get with the program!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Julia Gillard comes out against drug law reform

Today's push by the Australia 21 group to wind back the War on Drugs has at least smoked out the opinions of heavy hitters like Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. Gillard came in particularly hard, apparently ignoring the facts and arguments in the Australia 21 report and reading straight from the prohibitionist hymn-book, as reported by the SMH:
My view about drugs is clear. Drugs kill people they rip families apart, they destroy lives and we want to see less harm done through drug usage," the Prime Minister said.
She repeated one of the basic fallacies of prohibition propaganda - that the one or two percent of drug users who have significant problems represent the whole, and that all drugs are addictive:
Ms Gillard said she wanted to help people to break out of the addiction cycle, while police should enforce drug laws.
Not only is this a hopeless generalisation, it ignores that the problems that do exist do so under prohibition and are in fact evidence of its failure. Points to Foreign Minister Bob Carr for speaking out in support of reform. Heaven help any of these prohibitionists who take him on in debate over the subject.

At least the battle lines are now clear and Gillard has nailed her position to a mast of fallacy. If you agree with reform, go to the Australia 21 site and 'Like' their facebook page. If you don't agree, please trawl this blog - you'll find a sound rebuttal for whatever your objections are. I hope you can be open-minded enough to change your mind.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

WA drug laws get even tougher

Colin Barnett's Liberal Western Australian government has just made its already draconian drug laws even tougher according to the PerthNow site:
PARENTS could be jailed for 12 months and their children put in state care for growing just one marijuana plant in Western Australia under arguably the nation's toughest drug laws.
Amendments to WA's Misuse of Drugs Act, which came into effect on the weekend, mean people convicted of cultivating a single cannabis plant or processing the drug where a child has suffered harm face a 12-month mandatory prison term.
The laws are targeted at methamphetamine labs but, typical of the 1950s thinking of this government, cannabis is drawn into the net. WA already allows its police to use number plate scanning to detect drivers with a previous drugs conviction before stopping and searching them (while rapists, child molesters and murderers can drive on, free). The moves not only ignore current evidence on the failure of mandatory sentencing, but ignore the government's expert advice that tougher prohibition would not solve any problems.  But evidence is rarely a strong point for conservatives.

1950s thinking with modern technology: how very Orwellian. One comfort is that the over 100 comments on the Perth Now piece overwhelmingly ridicule the new law and logically shred the few illiterates who support it. BTW 'illiterate' wasn't used as an insult. They simply can't spell or construct a sentence as they spew their hatred of "druggy scum" etc. Great mates has Mr Barnett.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How prohibition supersized the 'ice' industry

Respected pro-reform journal The Economist lists some revealing statistics about the explosion of the methamphetamine industry under prohibition. 'Ice' is now being produced on an industrial scale. The graph illustrates how the purity has improved as the price has dropped in the US, making a mockery of the War on Drugs which suppresses relatively safe, natural drugs only to see more dangerous alternatives flourish, along with narco-states - poor countries which make a fortune from the artificially lucrative trade. Cambodia was in the news the other day, with the Prime Minister's nephew narrowly avoiding arrest in Melbourne on trafficking charges. With whole countries involved in the drug trade, even the USA is powerless to stop a trade for which their own citizens are the world's biggest customers. The harms of prohibition are worse than the harms of drugs.

Friday, March 23, 2012

More blatant bullshit about cannabis

What is it with The Sydney Morning Herald that as soon as the subject turns to cannabis the broadsheet turns into a credulous tabloid? One Nicole Hasham on Wednesday wrote the following about a paranoid schizophrenic who had killed his fiancee:
His heavy marijuana use had triggered paranoid delusions and imaginary voices which told him that his friends, family and workmates were "part of an elaborate conspiracy".
Really? Dope causes mental illness causes murder? So simple. Let's fix it by banning it. Oh wait, we already have. Fortunately this sledgehammer simplification was corrected on Thursday in the letters column by a doctor:
'Just say no' can be a dangerous message
It is a pity that, having written well about the important matter of mental health services in prison, and illustrated the benefits of good treatment and management through the story of Sunil Hemraj, you chose to head that article, ''Hard road back from deadly habit'' (March 21).How was any purported habit ''deadly''? What was deadly was Mr Hemraj's delusional state, which has been attributed to his suffering with paranoid schizophrenia. The role of cannabis use in either the precipitation or causation of schizophrenia is still poorly understood. But in any case, it is the mental health problem, however caused, which can be deadly, though fortunately not as often as is portrayed in the media.
Some studies suggest that 3000 people would have to stop using cannabis to prevent one case of psychosis, so cannabis use is not the most common risk factor. More often, this association merely illustrates the point that the peak age for both using cannabis and the onset of schizophrenia in males happens to coincide.
The major problem with cannabis use I see as an addiction physician is that if one is unfortunate enough to experience a mental health problem as well, many health workers and services will adopt the view that ''it's all your own fault'' and thus miss the opportunity to intervene early in what could be a serious, but treatable, health issue.
Mr Hemraj was fortunate that his mental health problem was taken seriously and treated well. For many others, what they get may be just a message to go home and stop using cannabis, which will not in general make any difference to the progression of a psychotic illness.
Dr Rod MacQueen Orange

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laneway drama a storm in a coffee cup

Jane and James in Llankelly Place in the old days
before it came back to life.
A local dispute reported in the SMH over café chairs in Llankelly Place Kings Cross has escalated into a bit of a drama via emails and letters to the editor.
After the original story appeared I got an email from someone I didn't know - David at exemail - copied to restaurateur Neil Perry, demanding that Mr Perry apologise for siding with the Room 10 coffee bar in Llankelly Place. I replied, asking who 'David' was, where he got my email address, and also siding with the coffee bar. Mr Perry replied this morning, not apologising but explaining he was not a 'celebrity chef' -
I'm an Australian who employes 520 staff, pay millions in taxes and raises lots of dollars for charity. I own 7 businesses in 3 States of Australia, I believe in young people making a difference.
Thanks, Neil
It seems Jo Holder of the Cross Arts Gallery, said to have complained about the seats, has some supporters besides 'David' at exemail (who did not reply to my email).

Next came a letter in the SMH from Carole Ferrier, a local Labor branch colleague of Ms Holder's and close ally in the War Against Pubs. She complained about café people keeping people awake at night, making it sound as if she lived above the café. But I'm pretty sure the café doesn't open at night, and as far as I know Ms Ferrier lives in Altair, facing east - about  half a k from the café. But maybe she's moved downmarket?

Anyway, two letters replied brilliantly. Couldn't have said it better myself:
Don't go back to the bad old days 
Carole Ferrier (Letters, March 14) needs reminding that Llankelly Place where Room 10 is situated, was formerly a rat and needle-infested laneway. It was frequented by prostitutes, drunk revellers and addicts needing a place to shoot up. There has been a concerted effort by council and local business people to bring life and a sense of community to an area of Kings Cross that sorely needed rejuvenation.
There are now at least a dozen restaurants, cafes and shops in this alley that provide employment, services and a sense of security to locals. Would she prefer the bad old days?
Adrian Young Elizabeth Bay 
I grew up in Kings Cross many years ago, but even then it was a noisy, rambunctious and ''colourful'' precinct, and has been, famously, since its hobohemia days of the 1920s and 1930s. Moving into it and complaining about noise is a little like diving into the ocean and whingeing about being wet.
John Newton Glebe
Then two more great letters turned up on March 16:

Cross still the king
Of course Kings Cross is noisy (Letters, March 15). It is peppered with people struggling to survive in society, and sometimes violent, but you won't find a livelier place to live anywhere in Australia.
Norm Neill Darlinghurst 
Old memories of Kings Cross are many but mine are dominated by an event in the early 1950s. I was having an illegal, after-hours drink in a dive called Le Primatif. I was with a former Wallaby when there was a raid by the vice squad detective Bumper Farrell and the local police. Bumper sighted David, the ex-Wallaby, and said, ''Get out, Dave, and take your dopey mate with you". Nice to be recognised.
Graeme Berman Manly

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Handy links to corporate greed and gutter journalism

Mockery in pictures - this is how The Telegraph
pictured Tim Flannery in their hate campaign.
OMG the idiot level of public debate is excruciating. Take climate change. The more climate sceptics, and their champions the Murdoch press, are refuted by scientists, the lower becomes their rhetoric. The Daily Telegraph the other day published one of the most pejorative pieces of moronic abuse ever seen in print, mocking Tim Flannery because it's raining. As if climate scientists ever predicted the La Nina/El Nino cycle would go away. The tone of the drivel is set by the headline: "It's a case of Tim foolery..."

Meanwhile The Sydney Morning Herald published a piece on the latest - quite alarming - National Climate Report from the CSIRO which reveals that isotopic fingerprinting of all-time-high levels of carbon in the air shows it mostly comes from humans burning fossil fuels. And much more. No doubt Clive Palmer will ignore this as he uses his billions to sue the government over the carbon tax. Perhaps Clive reads only the Telegraph?

And more on corporate greed as an ex-Goldman Sachs manager tells how the firm enjoys "ripping the eyes out of the muppets". (Muppets = clients). Sweet. Yes, this piece is also from a Murdoch site but it comes under the tabloid formula heading of "Look how the working bloke gets ripped off" while the Flannery piece comes under the "Let's mock all greenies and lefties" heading.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The amazing cost of mandatory sentencing

Anyone who thinks mandatory sentencing is a good idea needs to read this Canadian piece, written by one of the architects of mandatory sentencing in the US. That went horribly wrong:
In the U.S., our Congressional Budget Office initially estimated mandatory minimums would increase costs of federal prisons by $55.2 million over the first five years. In fact, over the first five years the added costs totalled $3.216 billion, 58 times our estimates.
Mandatory minimums severely damaged the credibility and reputation of the justice system and put innocent victims behind bars. Perjury increased dramatically, as perpetrators attempting to avoid long mandatory sentences concocted stories to convince prosecutors that other, minor participants were really the ring leaders. Threats and killings of civilian witnesses (“snitches”) became epidemic, and non-drug legal matters were squeezed out of strained court systems.
However the conservative Harper government appears determined to ignore the evidence, and commonsense, in pursuit of his pointless War on Drugs ideology.

Why are such conservatives so stupidly bloody-minded?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Politicians chase their tails as bullets pepper suburbs

Where the shootings are happening in Sydney.
An interesting distribution, don't you think?
"There is a very real risk that someone spraying bullets at a house will kill an innocent person," federal Justice Minister Jason Clare told reporters in Sydney. He will get the Australian Crime Commission to investigate the illegal firearms market.

And NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell wants to tighten gun laws and increase penalties, locking away offenders for up to 16 years.

There have been 20 shootings in Sydney alone this year, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

But, as explained in simple terms previously in this blog, and in the SMH letters pages, such band-aid solutions will do nothing to address the root cause of most of it - the prohibition of illicit drugs. Trade in these artificially expensive substances provides the lion's share of income to the gangs doing the shooting, and provides ample cash to buy guns. 

There is no legal redress in an illegal trade, so if someone is ripped off, fails to deliver, loses their contraband or supplies dud product, the only recourse left to the gangs is either a noble and amicable remedy or - violence.

The pollies are typically ignoring the root cause of the problem and, in classic vertical thinking, are increasing penalties to solve a problem that is caused largely by similar penalties.

Truly the law is an ass and so are politicians with their heads in the sand.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

World's most inaccurate news report is about - guess what?

Yes, the 2011 "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation" has been awarded to a Daily Mail piece by Tamara Cohen on cannabis. The British tabloid touched all bases with its headline:
Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory.
The prize, for the most mangled report of a scientific paper, is awarded by University of Oxford professor Dorothy Bishop, who blogged:
Suffice it to say, the academic paper is not about cannabis, smoking or schizophrenia. Rather it is about an artificial compound that is not present in cannabis, which was injected into rats, and which led to changes in their brain waves.
Prof Bishop identified four errors in the headline and others in all paragraphs of the story but one. Four paragraphs out of eight were wholly erroneous.

The one accurate paragraph reveals that the rats had electrodes implanted in their brains and found that the drug impaired the rats' performance for around two hours.

Prof Bishop awarded the prize to the paper's editor, Paul Dacre, recognising it was likely the journalist had been pressured into writing this tripe. So much for fair and balanced reporting.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Drugs, guns and the Middle Eastern Crime Squad

In another perfect illustration of how prohibition brings drugs and violence together, 20kg of precursor chemicals have been located within a Sydney syndicate also dealing in guns, reports the Sydney Morning Herald:
Since June Strike Force Centre, made up of detectives from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, has seized the guns, including three machine pistols, the precursors, cash and drugs.
As usual prohibition is not mentioned in the article, which leaves uninformed people with the impression that these 11 arrests validate prohibition even though they will make no difference to the availability or price of unregulated illicit drugs. Meanwhile the earnings from drugs finance the purchase of arsenals of deadly weapons like machine pistols and public shootings proliferate. Terrific.

It's OK to strip-search a 12-year-old girl: Police

Tasmanian Police have reviewed the strip-searching of a 12-year-old girl by Tasmanian Police and concluded that their action was OK. Now isn't that a surprise. Despite searching her twice during a drug raid on her parent's home, police found no drugs on the girl.

The police version of the event differs considerably from the mother's. She says the girl was in tears while the police say she appeared unconcerned about policewomen looking inside her knickers. The police point out that they did not do a "cavity search". Phew!

The searches would have been illegal in other states, requiring other permissions such as consent from a magistrate. Amid calls for Tasmania's search laws to be tightened, still no-one in the media is questioning the basic cause of such needless travesties - prohibition itself.

The police say "drugs and cash" were found at the house. But the lack of any detail about the drugs probably means they found only a small quantity of pot. If a major stash was found, or even a 'trafficable quantity', presumably the police would have been trumpeting that in their defence. Because, you know, if your parent is a publican selling 'trafficable quantities' of beer, that's fine, but if they sell the less harmful cannabis they are the incarnation of evil.

The harms of prohibition are greater than the harms of the drugs it fails to control, yet Australian media seem unable to recognise this elephant in the room. Are these journalists wilful or just stupid?

Ah, justice!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why conservatives should oppose prohibition

A nicely worded piece in a Colorado USA online newspaper argues that Republicans should support legalisation of cannabis on the grounds that it is as safe or safer than alcohol and the GOP believes in minimising government interference in personal choice.

The piece cites the cost and injustice of prohibition:
According to FBI statistics, in 2009, there were about 758,000 arrests for marijuana possession. Not only are the costs of arresting and locking people up for marijuana use enormous, the toll on the lives of these individuals is staggering. This is not justice in any way that a real Republican would recognize.
Columnist Ron Laughery also says Republicans should support democracy and stable government in Mexico, which is being reduced to a failed state as it applies the US Drug War agenda, with around 40,000 civilians being murdered in the past five years.

The comments below the story reveal that, as usual, the minority of prohibitionists ignore the arguments presented and simply serve up prohibitionist rhetoric, such as one who describes all cannabis use as "substance abuse". Another commenter points out that under this argument that alcohol should also be banned along with any other thing that is 'abused', and we know that doesn't work.

Note to prohibitionists: Use is not abuse; that's why they are different words.

Police bid to control strip club management bounced

Trouble-prone Kings Cross strip club Showgirls is in the news again with the liquor regulator rejecting a police bid to veto the club's choice of manager.

A story in today's Sydney Morning Herald recounts a string of troubles linked to the club over recent years, from allegations of credit card fraud to cocaine being sold on the premises and dancers being arrested on drugs charges.

The veto was one of 14 new licence conditions slapped on the club. But the club fought it and Chris Sidoti, chairman of the liquor authority, agreed with the club's lawyer that giving police such powers could lead to police corruption. The law stipulates that licensing and enforcement powers are separated, precisely to avoid this problem.

Meanwhile another Kings Cross venue owner is claiming the old police practice of 'greenlighting' - offering drug dealers certain immunities if they dob in other dealers - is alive and well. The club owner claims that a 'greenlighted' dealer has demanded 'protection' money and ignored attempts to have him barred from the venue, including an AVO. Police would no doubt deny any such claim.

The venue owner, who claims not to use illicit drugs and works to keep them off the premises, says drugs should be legalised to stop the rot. Whether or not the allegations are true, the underbelly of prohibition is, as always,  dark, dirty and devious.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Richard Branson nails prohibition

The silver-haired chief of Virgin, Richard Branson, has achieved major international coverage with an eloquent and cleverly constructed piece slamming prohibition. He neutralises all the usual prohibitionist furphies, leaving his critics with only the weakest of arguments, as can be seen in comments to today's article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile a Herald Poll attached to the article is running at 81% in favour of decriminalisation.

When will Australia get a politician with the intelligence and fortitude to stand up on this? The time is ripe.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shouting into the wilderness - another letter in the SMH

The Sydney Morning Herald perspicaciously published another of my letters today, as follows:

Why is it that every crime story set around 1930 in the US clearly links the public violence of gangsters like Al Capone with the prohibition of alcohol, while reporting of Sydney's shootings never ever mentions the prohibition of drugs? Illegal drugs are the main source of cash driving our criminals and corrupting police, and the solution is the same now as then - repeal prohibition while regulating and taxing the ongoing trade. After all, you don't see rival liquor companies shooting it out on the street. They fight for territory in the boardrooms and on the stock exchange.
Michael Gormly Woolloomooloo

It's almost funny watching the likes of Barry O'Farrell flounder about trying to be seen to be doing something about the violence while spouting vapid nonsense every time he is asked about legalising cannabis. While my point in the letter will seem obvious to those who know, we all should take every opportunity to link Al Capone's era and today's violence via their common cause, prohibition. Once that takes root in the public mind, BOF and other prohibitionists will have to retreat to even less credible arguments.

Read more:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Drugs, cops, snitches and Kings Cross still in the news

Wendy Hatfield. Picture: Ken Irwin/SMH
The former Kings Cross policewoman who was portrayed as a raunchy party girl in Underbelly, after successfully suing Channel 9 over the series, is now on the warpath against the book Snitch. Both were informed by the pseudonymous KX1, a snitch who Ms Hatfield says lied about her.

She denies claims that she had an affair with local nightclub entrepreneur John Ibrahim, and that she tried to buy drugs in a nightclub. She is moving to have Snitch taken off the shelves, and has threatened to name KX1 in the face of a possible jail sentence over court orders concealing his identity. She says he would prove to be "an appalling witness". It's all in the SMH today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NCPIC at it again, this time in bed with Big Pharma

Anti-pot propagandist Professor Jan Copeland from the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) continues her campaign to portray cannabis as a highly addictive drug with these unchallenged comments published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The story concerns the cannabis-based mouth spray Sativex, developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Bayer among others, and its potential to wean pot smokers off their habit. Federally funded NCPIC is conducting a trial of Sativex, a move which is of concern since GW's tactics in getting approval for Sativex in the UK are being questioned by law reform group CLEAR which claims several lies were told in the process.

The SMH story misleads by comparing cannabis 'addiction' with the far more habit-forming drugs nicotine and opioids, even using the term 'cold turkey'.

Anyone who has experienced cold turkey would laugh at the comparison - it's a bit like comparing a train-wreck to a parking ding. Listen to John Lennon's song Cold Turkey or read Keith Richards' gory descriptions in his autobiography to get the picture.

But NCPIC is happily spending our tax dollars on a randomised trial to test the efficacy of Sativex in weaning smokers off pot, inviting participants to spend eight days in hospital during the trial. Hospital? Sheesh, pot smoking MUST be really serious. Lucky we have so many hospital beds to spare.

The story then quotes a woman who has written a book about her attempts to get off this deadly drug. She claims it is so addictive "you get to a point where you would rob your own grandmother to get some.'' Oh dear, shades of Reefer Madness here.

No mention of the vast majority of people who simply stop when they want to, with little or no ill-effect, and who wouldn't dream of robbing their grandma.

I've previously written about an acquaintance who gave up smoking cannabis after 40 years of regular use, with little or no after effects. In a comment to that story, Dr Ray from Kings Cross says about ten percent of heavy users experience withdrawal symptoms.

So while there appears to be some substance in the addiction story being peddled by Professor Copeland and her ilk, the comparison with harder drugs is invalid. So is the implied support for prohibition, which strangely never stopped any of these addictive types getting hold of the drug in the first place.

Melissa Davey who wrote this sad piece of moral-panic raising makes no attempt to get a balancing opinion, thus contravening the most basic principle of quality journalism. Nor does she question any possible commercial implications around benefits to GW Pharmaceuticals following approval of Sativex here.  Her story contributes to the propaganda war being waged to deceive the public into supporting prohibition, in which Jan Copeland is an intrinsic player and which GW is arguably a stakeholder given that the demand for Sativex is underpinned by prohibition. Let's hope the suppliers of Sativex are not supporting NCPIC in any way, because that would compromise this study and could be seen as corrupt. Such a study has the potential to underpin approval of the drug in Australia, opening up a new market for a product dubbed "the most expensive cannabis in the world". This puts it into a different category from other research into illicit drugs.

[Sativex was developed to ease the symptoms of people with Multiple Sclerosis and is under trial for the relief of cancer pain. It is a processed form of medical marijuana approved by medical regulators in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. The makers claim it has no psycho-active effects]