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]