Monday, September 01, 2014

Legal pot is not causing the sky to fall

More early data coming out of Colorado indicates that the legalisation of cannabis has not resulted in more young people consuming it - rather, the trend is in the opposite direction. Sooner or later, I think prohibitionists are going to have to give up one of their central arguments - their claim that legalisation will create "a tsunami of stoned zombies" wandering the streets. It was always a circular argument, based only on the assumption that prohibition prevented use in the first place.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The rich, ugly faces of prohibition again rear their lying heads

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson teamed up with Mel and Betty Sembler on Fred Thompson's
disastrous 2008 presidential campaign, too. Photo via Flickr user freddthompson
As usual when a serious pot law reform emerges, the lid is lifted off a vile, self-interested hypocritical pit of prohibitionists. Cops, the jail industry, the casino industry and people with drug-testing companies spew any lie they can think of to fool the people into voting their way. The most recent example is in Florida and this excellent piece in VICE lifts the lid off the rotten cauldron.
...the Drug Free America Foundation is a legal entity that has existed since the 1970s under the old name STRAIGHT Inc. Under the previous brand, the foundation operated as a drug rehab center that was embroiled in multiple scandals for allegedly torturing children who had been admitted for experimenting with pot.
...When cops bust a marijuana dealing operation, they employ something called asset forfeiture to seize property and auction it off. The process has generated over $1 billion for law enforcement divisions around the country since 2002
Just so you know what's really behind the anti-pot propaganda.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Wizard of Oz and the opium effect

I was kindly given a 50" plasma TV on Saturday. After setting it up - and the set top box - with no manuals the rest of the weekend was a binge. Top pick, The Wizard of Oz. No wonder a whole generation grew up liking psychedelics!
In which Dorothy gets knocked out in an opium poppy field

"There will be no carbon tax in the Land of Oz!"

If only we could so simply escape the craziness.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Police forget to mention .268 blood alcohol in 'stoned driver' crash

Police really don't like it when pot gets legalised. They lose lots of budget, an easy way to boost their arrest statistics disappears and perhaps worst of all, there's all that property they can't confiscate any more.

So it looks as if, at least in one case in Colorado, they will go to any lengths to demonise legalisation. When a young guy crashed into two police cars blocking a freeway exit (with emergency lights flashing), they portrayed him as a stoned driver and forgot to mention his eye-crossing .268 percent blood alcohol content.

So really it was an extremely drunk driver with some cannabis also in his blood. As alcohol is many more times dangerous than cannabis for driving risk, the police story, gleefully amplified right across the media, is pretty close to an outright lie.

Kudos to The Washington Post (link above) for correcting the BS with their story headlined: "Colorado’s poster boy for ‘stoned driving’ was drunk off his gourd".

See my previous post for a rundown on how the prohibitionists are whipping up a scare campaign opposing legalisation in Colorado. The following graph from that Vox link puts things into perspective:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Prohibitionists try to demonise Colorado legalisation

Prohibitionist Kevin Sabet continues to throw up a moral panic smokescreen about cannabis legalisation in Colorado on behalf of SAM - Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Sabet's latest portrays a pandemic of children admitted to hospital after ingesting legal cannabis, and more claims suggesting an epidemic of stoned drivers.

And Maureen Dowd, a New York journalist ingested possibly 16 times the recommended dose of cannabis and overdosed, having a pretty bad time which she described in print. Now, for some reason, she's not so keen on legalisation, even though it's equally possible to overdose under prohibition (in which case there's more reason for your paranoia!).

Indeed it seems that recommended doses are not printed on the labels of the cannabis candies, and it seemed Dowd was not advised and indeed didn't ask how much she should have taken - elementary information you gather before taking a couple of Aspirins.

These are good arguments for better regulation, not prohibition.

Luckily some astute writers have taken apart this latest wave of prohibitionist panic, showing that the problems happen to only a tiny minority of users, crime has gone down and even major pot seizures by Police in neighbouring states have plummeted.

Maureen Dowd's column is critiqued here and Kevin Sabet gets a dose of reality here.

Monday, May 05, 2014

A bouncer speaks his mind on the Cross

Chris is a Kings Cross Times reader who decided to throw in his two cents worth - hopefully he'll follow up with some titillating details!

My name is Chris Zlomanczuk. I've been working the doors in Kings Cross for years. I'm 25 born and bred in Sydney, have been been trying to break through as an actor for years and also have various business inspirations.

I've been working the doors since the age of 18 so I see a very different Kings Cross from the sensational headlines - although many of them are true.

There are too many names to recollect and too many faces to remember... I was scampered into strip joint THE LOVE MACHINE at age 15 and have since worked the strip at such places as Springfields bar, The Elk, The Bourbon, Empire, Sugarmill. Kit and Kaboodle, Piano Room, The Vegas, Trademark and Hugos and more. I've dined with legendary actors and business people at the famous Tropicana on Victoria St, the Piccolo on Roslyn, Cafe Hernandez on Kings Cross Rd, Bar Coluzzi on Victoria St. KINGS CROSS is a great place. I feel safer there with a local than anywhere, and it's not boring.

If I get sick of coffee shops I can head to other scenes - to The Stables Theatre for a show, or mixing and mingling with all sorts, sex workers, drug addicts, drug dealers, actors, dancers. singers, artists of all kinds. None of these people match the popular image put on them by the media.

Here, no one should be judged but unfortunately Kings cross will always be judged by the ignorant, including journalists and politicians. I've seen grams of heroin being dealt, heroin shot-up, I've seen and heard gun shots and massive Bikie brawls and still felt safe. It's all personal, and nothing to do with anyone unless you're looking for it....Kings cross is what it is and maybe everyone should lighten up and enjoy the colour!

Shock, horror! Pot causes heart attacks (or does it?)

You may have heard a few stories recently of people keeling over from a heart attack after smoking cannabis. While there is probably some increased risk from indulging for some people, at least one 'study' turns out to be very dodgy. It's been picked apart on the Alternet site:
The impetus for the mainstream media’s most recent fixation with the alleged dangers of pot is a French study, published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Investigators reviewed data collected by the French Addictovigilance Network, a national database of adverse case reports involving psychoactive substances, between the years 2006 to 2010.
Among the 9,936 total drug-related cases in the database, authors identified 35 cases (0.4 percent) in which both cardiovascular complications and cannabis were referenced.
Apart from the fact that 60% of the subjects also smoked tobacco, according to Alternet: is unclear whether these subjects used cannabis in the hours prior to any adverse event. Toxicological analyses identified THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive compound, in only 13 of the 35 total cases. In the other 22 cases, no toxicology result was available; cannabis was simply referenced in the subjects’ medical file. In all but three cases, marijuana was referenced in conjunction with other substances, some of which are well associated with health risks, such as cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, and opiates.
More detail in the original story (linked above).

Friday, May 02, 2014

Prohibitionists keep flogging evidence-free fearmongering

The increasing legalisation of cannabis in the US is putting prohibitionists further and further onto 'the back foot' as actual data emerge that contradict their fear memes. A chief among these is their claim that moves towards legalisation would "send the wrong message" and increase use among teens. Evidence that it isn't doing so has not stopped them from making the claim, as you can see at the bottom of this email chain (the email on behalf of prohibitionist Gary Christian). One point made is that, under legalisation, advertising and marketing of cannabis should NOT be allowed.

(Email from Paul Desseaur)

Here’s a similar article;

(BTW- Why am I not surprised that Robert DuPont, (who, with his partner Bensinger makes millions per-annum from immunoassay urine screening), is opposed to any legalisation of cannabis use?).

This one sentence underpins the argument of the AACAP statement you have posted;

<<< Legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, even if restricted to adults, is likely to be associated with (a) decreased adolescent perceptions of marijuana’s harmful effects, (b) increased marijuana use among parents and caretakers, and (c) increased adolescent access to marijuana, all of which reliably predict increased rates of adolescent marijuana use and associated problems. >>>

Is there any evidentiary basis to these assertions?

The chain of reasoning seems intuitively logical, but what does the published research tell us?

The authors reference two articles to support that sentence, the first is this one;

Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth, Joffe + Yancy, Pediatrics, 2004.

Full text here;

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Watch this space - how long before Greg Hunt deletes this damning info on climate change?

Seems the Federal Government hasn't gotten around to pulling a web page that scientifically debunks global warming denier Ian Plimer's misleading nonsense. Crikey writes:
Plimer’s 2011 book —  How to Get Expelled From School (launched by John Howard and mailed by the IPA to hundreds of schools) — listed 101 questions for sceptical students to ask their “warmist” teachers, i.e. those who respect science. The federal Department of Climate Change (abolished by Abbott) prepared a response that thoroughly debunked his claims in words a child can understand. How long before Environment Minister Greg Hunt is instructed to have this demolition of Plimer taken down?
I've downloaded and saved the PDF but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the truth to be hidden in the interests of Ian Plimer's fans like Gina Rinehart.

At the time of writing, the PDF is still online here.

I've previously blogged about Ian Plimer's unrepentant deceit here.

PS On 13 August 2014 the PDF is still up there on Greg Hunt's website. Perhaps Greg hasn't actually read it?

PPS today (18/8/16) I again checked the link and wouldn't you know it, it's gone! The department of misinformation has finally caught up. I will contact Crikey and let them know.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The US finances Mexico's biggest drug cartel: 100,000 die

This cash allegedly belonging to El Chapo was found in a car.
At the same time, the US was financing and arming his cartel.  
Well the Yanks certainly haven't changed their spots. Their recent much-publicised arrest of drug cartel supremo 'El Chapo' Guzman hides the fact that:
US agencies had armed and financed El Chapo's Sinaloa criminal empire for at least 12 years. That link has been substantiated by DEA and Justice Department court testimonies, and even US agents confirmed the financing had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors. But the American media barely reported how entrenched the American government has become in the Mexican drug trade.
You can read more about it in this report from The Guardian.

Instead we got triumphal pictures of his arrest and a slew of 'gangster porn' - photos of his mansions, gold-plated guns and stacks of cash.

Back in 2012 they arrested El Chapo's son only it turned out they got a humble used car salesman instead. That didn't stop them parading him in front of a salad bar of weapons and cash (see pic below). If it was the wrong guy, where did the loot come from? This is just one of the more blatant examples of the total bullshit fed to us by War on Drugs propagandists. Meanwhile 100,000 people have been killed in the phoney War, many in horrendously brutal circumstances.
As The Guardian asks, "Why aren't we putting US agencies on trial for financing El Chapo's drug war?"
Oops, wrong guy! But if so, where did all the loot
and weaponry come from for this photo op?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Drug 'crimes' fuelling prison growth

I know prohibition doesn't seem to rate as an issue among Australian human rights campaigners, but if you think incarcerating hundreds of thousands of mainly non-white people for a victimless 'crime' is serious, prohibition should be up there with refugees and Indigenous health etc.

This graph from the Pew Research Centre lays it on the table.

This gobsmacking growth in prisoners is happening in the USA, which is on its straps financially, with States and the taxpayer bearing the massive cost of this misconceived blunder.

In Australia, drugs prohibition has brought about prison trends along the same lines while fuelling the daily shootings in "South-Western Sydney", gang crime and the bikie issue. Yet no-one in the government or the media EVER mentions this major root cause of the problems. Would you see an article about Al Capone that doesn't mention prohibition? Never ever. So why the disjunction here and now?
Every time you hear about a shooting in SW Sydney, think "symptom of drug prohibition".

Read all about it here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This is a landmark in the War against Kings Cross

OK I was wrong. I had predicted that 1.30 lockouts and 3am closing would result in more violence as the Kings Cross crowds battled it out over taxis. But after three weeks of the new regime it seems the crowds have simply stopped coming. It's a landmark in the eternal War against Kings Cross.
Bayswater Road last Saturday night, showing one of several
trailer-mounted signs flashing the new regime.
I took these photos on Saturday night, when the trial closure of Bayswater Road to through traffic was being trialled. The signage flagged a 9pm closure but at 9.30 they didn't seem to be in place and the crowds and traffic were so sparse there didn't seem to be much point.
It looks as if the authorities, too, have been caught offguard at people's desertion of Sydney's late-night entertainment precinct.
It makes sense though - when I pointed out the lack of people at 9.30, a friend said "people will come later". But if there is no "later", why would they come?
People have to eat somewhere, then they have to get into the city, or they go somewhere local for some cheaper drinks before heading in. The crowds used to really hit after midnight. But what's the point of that if you are going to be locked out of all venues at 1.30? It's not worth the trip in from the 'burbs. In today's mobile phone-fuelled, flexible social landscape, people from all over the city move about, change venues and meet their friends anywhere. The 1.30 lockout freezes all that.
These ill-conceived rules were made by old farts who still think in terms of their distant youth, before mobile phones (and before drugs that help people party all night were common currency - you know, the ones that are "controlled" by prohibition). I have heard more than one old killjoy say things like "Why can't these people just go home by midnight".
The baby has truly thrown out with the bathwater and when the data are in, I now predict a sorry tale of  lost jobs, business failure and - if the data are even collected - the displacement of drunken violence to other areas and private homes.
Welcome to the nanny state.

PS I'm told 25 staff have been sacked from the Kings Cross Hotel alone after the lockouts reduced their average 1am crowd from 900 to 200.

Maybe the lockouts have an upside - The Vegas Hotel seems to be getting creative
about pulling customers, with bloke and girly shows. But these sexy boys were finding
it hard to pull girls from nearly non-existent crowds.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lockouts and new anti-alcohol laws simply deny the facts

There was a petition on the bar of my local against the NSW government's recent early lockout laws. I signed it. While I have been railing for years against this moral panic-driven nonsense, this piece by Bernard Keane on Crickey unpicks the hypocrisy of the laws and the media campaign behind it, particularly the shameful behaviour of the formerly trustworthy Sydney Morning Herald.

The piece is less than complimentary about media tart Dr Gordian Fulde from St Vincents Hospital, a doctrinaire prohibitionist who in my view should stick to his doctoring and keep his doctrines out of public commentary.

Writes Keane:
Fulde is insistent that violence is getting worse in Sydney and that alcohol is to blame. It is a claim that the Herald was happy to repeat. It is also a claim that is blatantly false... Last year’s Review of the Liquor Act 2007and Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 showed that violent incidents on licensed premises had fallen 28% from 2007, and alcohol-related assaults had fallen 35% between 2008 and 2012. Assaults across NSW had also fallen significantly, as had hospital presentations for acute alcohol-related problems.
And for those who believe that review was a Big Grog conspiracy, you can go to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research site and look at the data yourself.
Here are the relevant data:

Keane again hits the nail on the head, ascribing the cheap populist campaign run by Sydney's newspapers to their plummetting circulation:
This takes us to the most relevant statistics about this whole sordid affair. The Sydney Morning Herald’s circulation is in freefall — it lost more than 15% of its circulation in the year to September. And in 2013, it fell 7 points in its readers’ trust, according to Essential Research’s trust in media survey, tumbling to 64%. The Telegraph is Australia’s least-trusted metro title — trusted by only 41% of its readers — and its circulation fell by nearly as much as the Herald’s in the year to September. They are two dying newspapers, each desperate to outdo the other.
The lockout laws so-far seem to be killing the Cross, which might please a few local NIMBYs but will cause hardship to all the hospitality workers and entertainers now thrown out of work.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Australia lags as world adapts to new industries

With the very public collapse of manufacturing in Australia you might think the country would nimbly leap to new industrial opportunities. Instead, we are losing them to more progressive nations.

Victoria's Hazelwood open-cut brown coal mine
still burning after some weeks.
Our race to the 19th century in fossil-based energy generation has robbed us of our once world-leading position in clean energy technology. Meanwhile South Korea, for instance, has a 3-month fast-track patent process for local innovations in clean energy, part of a program that devoted 2.7% of GDP to clean energy. By contrast, we have boosted our filthiest fossil fuel source, Victoria's brown coal mines, one of which is ironically now burning out of control after heatwave-induced bushfires. It is expected to burn for another two weeks. [Note: the fire was 'under control' as of 9 March - it burned for a little over four weeks. However there are coal mine fires on every continent except Antarctica including one in Pennsylvania that has burned since 1962.

Note#2: Radio National News reported on 21 March that the fire was officially "out"]

Then there is the Abbott Government's patchwork National Broadband Network. In a country ruled by 'the tyranny of distance', you might think state-of-the-art communications was essential.

The Coalition's internet connection vision.
But no, Malcolm Turnbull's fibre to the node concept will leave my copper connection to the home operating out of this pit just outside my front door (pictured). The cost savings inherent in this second-best model do not take into account the cost of repairing/replacing these copper tangles  left over from 100-year-old telephone technology. Impressive, no?

Now it's industrial hemp, a forest-saving, low irrigation crop with a thousand uses. As it has no intoxicating effects, there was never even any justification for banning it and now even the USA, which invented the ban, is legalising the growing of hemp. But conservative, backward Australia remains in the dark ages as it misses out on yet another opportunity to compete in the 21st century. Once the 'lucky country', should we now be known as the 'dumb country' as we race towards banana republic status?
Just say no - emblematic of Australia's
attitude to everything?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Prohibitionists AGAIN caught out telling porkies

SAM head Kevin Sabet - he doesn't
look stupid, so why is he telling
idiotic porkies?
'It's like saying 10% of people in Australia, Canada and Bolivia scratch their ears before breakfast, therefore 30% of people scratch their ears before breakfast. Duh.'
It must be difficult for prohibitionists now the changing face of history is proving their arguments to be little but hot air and fear mongering. So you can understand why they have to fall back on complete nonsense to keep the uninformed scared. But you'd think they could at least add up, especially if they call their organisation Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

Close on the heels of their last misleading factoid, SAM's head Kevin Sabet has tweeted that - wait for it - 39% of HS students in Washington state report using marijuana that came from from a "medical" marijuana dispensary [his quote marks].

Shock, horror! See, they told us so - legalise it and a tsunami of pot smoking will destroy society!

Then Russ Belville from the Huffington Post looked at the source figures Sabet had quoted.  They showed only 14.9% of 12th-grade students said their pot usually came from a medical dispensary. The percentage fell for more junior grades, down to 3.8% for 9th graders.

Seems Sabet had simply added up all the percentages, apparently unaware that each one came from a different sample of people so adding them is nonsensical. It's like saying 10% of people in Australia, Canada and Bolivia scratch their ears before breakfast, therefore 30% of people scratch their ears before breakfast. Duh.

Meanwhile teenage cannabis use seems to have stayed pretty level during the rash of legalisation spreading across US states, so the scariest thing about Sabet's paper tiger is that the same smokers are getting their stuff from a legal rather than illegal source.

Embarrassed into a retreat, Sabet then tweeted implying that the students must be faking back pain or cancer, further spreading the egg over his face because the figures deal with cannabis that CAME FROM a dispensary - with no claim that the students had attended the dispensaries. It's all a bit subtle for a fossilised prohibitionist, I guess.

SAM's "smart" approach [my quote marks] apparently involves diverting cannabis users who are caught into treatment (or else get arrested again).

"The proposal is on par with forcing every alcohol user into treatment at their own cost or at a cost to the state," said Marijuana Policy Project communications director Mason Tvert. "In fact, it would be less logical because the science is clear that marijuana is far less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to be associated with acts of violence."

While Sabet denies that, everything I have previously read about SAM points in that direction.

Oh, Sabet also claims that 10% of cannabis users become addicted. No they don't, Kevin. In fact the commonly quoted figure of 9% is another dodgy bit of bad science from the prohibitionists, as the Huff Post again explains.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Old lies live on in the prohibitionist mind

No lie is too old or discredited to be recycled by our shock-jocks. The latest is Miranda Devine writing another prohibitionist rant in the Telegraph. I won't even link to the propaganda piece - why help them, even a tiny bit?

Suffice it to quote Devine's central lie, that "When the Howard government launched its Tough on Drugs strategy in 1997, drug use plummeted for the first time in three decades."

No, Miranda, it didn't. In fact Asian suppliers were switching from heroin to crystal meth and some young people were switching from cannabis to ecstasy and other chemical drugs, arguably a shift from less risky to more risky substances. This is a well-known symptom of prohibition, driving the drug industry to more potent, portable and profitable substances. The heroin drought coincided with the rise of ice.

In the same piece Devine bemoans that "A study in the Medical Journal of Australia last September found ambulance call-outs for crystal meth, aka ice, had tripled in two years."

Well, duh, Miranda. This is what happens under your beloved prohibition. But with the money you are paid to spread your poison, I guess truth is a minor consideration.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Global warming deniers lose court battle but leave taxpayers with the bill

Here's a nice, sober outline of how the international conspiracy against climate science operates. While the denialists lost their court case in New Zealand, they have successfully cast doubt on good science, wasted the time of parliament, scientists and the courts, and left taxpayers with the legal bill after liquidating the 'charitable trust' that appears to have had no function but to run this case.

As usual on The Conversation site, the comments add a lot more to the story (including the usual trolling by a climate 'sceptic').

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Latest 'coward's punch' triggers more moral panic about Kings Cross

Sean McNeil, charged with the murder of Daniel Christie.
Sadly another young life has been ended by a violent thug king-hitting innocents in the street. Daniel Christie was attacked in Kings Cross on New Year's Eve and later died in hospital. Shaun McNeil, a self-described 'mixed martial arts expert', has been charged. Bizarrely, photos show has the name of his victim tattooed on his arm (while apparently sculling Bundy rum, the one said to contain "a bushfire and a bashing in every bottle").

Predictably the anti-Kings Cross hordes (most of them from elsewhere) have spun into loud chorus blaming venues and the AHA, and calling for lockouts, earlier closing of pubs and application of the Newcastle 'solution' to Kings Cross.

The facts, however, throw a few wet blankets over the moral panic.

The attack happened at 9pm. How would earlier closing have helped in this case? Do the anti-venue crowd propose 8pm closing?

Meanwhile violence rates in Kings Cross venues have dropped by about a third (a similar rate to that of Newcastle after the lockout regime) since the similar manslaughter of Thomas Kelly - which happened at almost the same spot and at 10 pm - also nothing to do with late-night venues.

And the "coward's punch" has been used to deadly effect in other places besides Kings Cross. Strangely the anti-Cross brigade do not raise a hue-and-cry in these cases.

So, what's the bet that Shaun McNeil is a Rugby League fan, like other recent king-hit killers? When is macho footy culture going to be dragged into this debate? That sacred cow is where the real problem lies.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Best drug scare stories of 2013

Here's a neat roundup of the latest crop of blatant bullshit the media publishes about illicit drugs - and some examples of prohibitionists picking up the bullshit they themselves create to back their fallacious arguments. One example: Police try to convict a man of murder because his girlfriend died after he gave her an acid trip. Shock, horror, scary, eh? Heard that one before?

The real story turned out to be somewhat different, however. Click the link above to find out what really happened.