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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Reefer Madness

My local TV listings magazine, TV Week, has a column by Dr. Rhonda Low, who gives health advice on CTV news programs. Her column from Sept. 29 (which never made it online) addresses a recent study, in The Lancet, compiling the results of 35 medical studies on marijuana use:

      ....The studies found that smoking marijuana could increas the risk of developing a psycholtic illness by an alarming 40 per cent. And worse, the more you use, the greater your risk. "Heavy users" (defined in the research as daily or weekly users) showed a 50 to 200 per cent increase in the risk of developing psychosis.

        "It is actually confirming what we have seen clinically, in that people are prone to psychosis have a chance of having exposure to a drug like marijana and that will bring the psychosis home," says Dr. [Bill] MacEwan [director of the Schizophrenia Clinic at the University of B.C.]"

Dr. MacEwan goes on in the column to qualify what he says, noting that there are many factors in a person's life that lead to mental illness, but he adds "So, if you have that family history of schizophrenia, I'd say yes, you should maybe watch what kind of substances you use and how much you are using."

It will be interesting to see if these sorts of medical findings will lead to Canada having a stricter law-enforcement attitude towards marijuana.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on October 14, 2007 in Science | Permalink

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Comments

"supports an industry that brings death"

I named 4 serious others and you didnt blinked an eye.

If that can make you feel better, I get my occasional marijuana from someone who grows it for himself alone. Just like everybody who occasionally smoke weed in Canada. I wear my hair short and I'm a professional having a decent success, experiencing a great life and I pay all my taxes. You talk about condescending attitude. I'm not sure about where I've insulted you but tell you something: You do condescending BS better than anyone.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-15 5:22:19 PM


In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs. However, according to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the US is as much as $64 billion a year, making the DEA's efforts to intercept the flow of drugs into and within the US less than 1% effective. Defenders of the agency's performance record argue that the DEA has had a positive effect beyond their relatively small annual seizures by placing pressure on traffickers, raising prices for consumers which, it is hoped, may reduce the affordability of drugs. Critics of this theory (including the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman) point out that demand for illegal drugs shows little price sensitivity; the people who are buying drugs will continue to buy them with little regard to price, often turning to crime to support expensive drug habits when the drug prices rise. One recent study published in the The Atlantic lending credence to the criticism shows that in every major US city, from New York to Los Angeles, the price of street cocaine has dropped.

Supporters of drug law enforcement, however, argue that if no efforts were done to stem the flow of illegal narcotics into the country the number of drug users would be out of control causing many more problems in addition to rampant crime. A historical example of this are the Opium Wars fought between China and the West. There is no benefit to the country in increased illegal narcotics trade, whereas there are many serious detriments in not reducing it. It would not be realistic to stop the drug trade 100%, but implementing stronger enforcement does make it more difficult for illegal narcotics to penetrate into the country thereby also reducing both potential sellers and users who would not appear in any estimates. However effective this may be, the fact cannot be ignored that the DEA is only 1% effective in seizing drugs smuggled into the U.S.

Others advocate legalization of certain controlled substances, pointing out that it will reduce illegal trade & associated crime and yield a valuable tax-source. Experience with drug legalization raises some doubt about this belief. For example, marijuana is now available as a palliative agent, in Canada, with a medical prescription. Yet 86% of Canadians with HIV/AIDS, eligible for a prescription, continue to obtain marijuana illegally (AIDS Care. 2007 Apr;19(4):500-6.) However, this could be due to the availability of illegal cannabis compared to the procedural hoops a patient has to jump through when receiving it from the government. If dispensaries were set up in convenient locations, then the illegal purchases may very well drop.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-15 5:27:51 PM


obc Wrote:"One can see who is still using dope by the responses on this thread."

I won't presume to judge who's posting drunk, but sometimes I wonder about you. You're not giving much attention to who is benefiting from treating drugs as a law enforcement rather than a health issue.

Have some consideration.

Posted by: Timothy Zak | 2007-10-15 5:42:36 PM


Ha! I don't drink, but thanks for your kind words.

Canada health care would not approve a LEGAL drug available in the US that I needed because it was too expensive for them to provide it to the thousands that required it.

I crossed the border and got it myself, but many others could not afford to do that, so they continued on suffering because the health care system here decided they can live with their pain to save money for this fraud of a socialist health care system.

Drugs to escape reality are accessible nationwide - but those that will ease pain & suffering? NO WAY!

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-15 5:48:39 PM


Epsi, you poor fool,

Willpower is not the issue. If pot actually caused me or anyone around me problems, I would want to stop smoking it, and if I wanted to stop, I would stop. The reality is that it does not cause any problems. Therefore, I have no desire or reason to get "off the junk", because it is not junk - something you would know if you read the hundreds of scientific studies, user testamonials, and thousands of posts from people of all political stripes all of which conclude that personal use of moderate amounts of pot is harmless. That, my friend, is what we enlightened types call a fact. Must be a new word for you, so I'll repeat it: fact.

I suppose, in response to this, you will simply claim that I am in denial. This, of course, is impossible for me to disprove, as it is for anyone, making it a completely useless thing for you to say. What if I just answered: no, YOU'RE in denial - then would I sound as smart as you?

Yours are circular arguments with no merit. You would get laughed out of a 4th grade debating club.

Posted by: zamprelli | 2007-10-15 6:01:10 PM


"I crossed the border and got it myself, but many others could not afford to do that, so they continued on suffering because the health care system here decided..."

"Drugs to escape reality are accessible nationwide - but those that will ease pain & suffering? NO WAY!"

"

Americans are giving the exact same speech.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-15 6:13:41 PM


I think we're all still waiting for the "New Plan" for eliminating drug use, one that DOESN'T involve simply more cops chasing more dealers each year, with the same lack of success as the year before.

If there isn't an answer besides "we need more laws/cops" let's get practical for a change and free the cops up to chase real criminals like murderers, rapists, and child molesters.

If YOU had to budget police dollars, would you rather chase drug users or murderers?

Posted by: Larry | 2007-10-15 6:51:15 PM


Larry ~

I'd agree if the judges put those murderers, rapists and child molesters away for life, but as it is, few spend more than a couple of years behind bars.

It's a no-win situation - which is why I recommend ordinary citizens arm themselves because the police will only show up after you are harmed in order to fill out reports.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-15 7:10:18 PM


Zam, you silly boy.

You are self deluded saying that drugs don't hurt you.

You have fried your brain already.

Go get help!

Epsi

Posted by: epsilon | 2007-10-15 7:36:55 PM


i'm a conservative who leans heavily toward libertarianism. i definitely don't subscribe wholly to libertarianism. to much room for anarchy on the social front (although, on the economic front i would like to see more unfettered marketplace creative destruction).

however, i always look at the "more harm" and "less harm" pictures. people worry about the children. the pat answer is always "raise your kids properly and keep them out of trouble. it's up to parents, not society". i largely agree with this because my friends' kids are, almost without exception, exemplary. the reasons for this are obvious.

there's a reason i'm unabashedly pro drug legalisation. and it's not what you think. i don't do drugs, and my upper lip curls when i see those who do. but, each to his own.

organised crime thrives because the State lets organised crime rest comfortably upon three pillars: illegal drugs, prostitution, and firearms. legalisation of these three pillars would go a long way toward destroying organised crime. we cry "what about the children?", but we don't stop and think of which is doing more harm to our kids and society: the legalisation of these three pillars? or the fruits and public expense of organised crime?

i detest social liberals. they want their rights protected by the State, rather than from it, and want economic security (equality of results rather than of opportunity). but, although i always ask myself, "does the State really need to stick it's nose in this or that?", i err on the side of social conservatism when i think my anti-Statist libertarianism is going too far (i simply can't accept Saturday morning porn on tv, or an open border policy nationally).

but, sorry guys, admit it: there's a reason for that little word "social" in front of the words "liberal" and "conservative". both parties want to arbitrarily control the moral agenda through the State, and sometimes there is no real reason for it, aside from anecdotal evidence, sentimentality, and emotion. we have to really be careful, and think about how many pet issues we want to allow the State to monopolize, and if some of these issues might do more harm than good.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-15 7:58:05 PM


shel ~

I'm in general agreement with you.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-15 8:01:24 PM


organised crime thrives because the State lets organised crime rest comfortably upon three pillars: illegal drugs, prostitution, and firearms. legalisation of these three pillars would go a long way toward destroying organised crime. we cry "what about the children?", but we don't stop and think of which is doing more harm to our kids and society: the legalisation of these three pillars? or the fruits and public expense of organised crime?

Posted by: shel | 15-Oct-07 7:58:05 PM

I am curious, considering the amount of gun violence in the US, who traditionally has a very "lax" gun regulation to say the least, do you think the gun crime (and I don't mean the crime of owning a gun illegal, but crimes committed with guns) would drop to almost zero if they would legalise drugs and prostitution?

The problem I have with unfetted gun ownership (hand guns, not shotguns / hunting rifles) is that they have VERY limited use, yes they are tools, but you won't go deer hunting with a gun nor would you hammer a nail into the wall with it, so I am wondering why exactly this very limited tool, intended to hurt and kill people, should be readily available? There is no "dual use" and there is no: "If you use it in your living room nobody cares" argument that can be made for drugs and (to some degree) even prostitution.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-15 8:24:33 PM


Snowrunner. handguns are as important to put into the hands of citizens as longguns. everyone should be allowed to pack.

when Florida finally caught up to other States and allowed people to pack, the gun related death toll immediately went up up up, and spiked on the graph. then it radically dropped down through the mean, and has generally stayed well below Florida's historical mean. that's one example. this is typical everywhere.

break the stats down: almost all the violent crime involving guns are perpetrated by brutal inner city pukes with a twisted sense of identity or honour, in an environment of self pity and self loathing. funny, because in America, if one wants to work hard and sacrifice fun and diversion for a while and embrace the concept of "equality of opportunity" guaranteed to everyone, one can succeed. any one of these thugs can walk out of the ghetto, and become successful, honorably (sorry. got carried away with rhetoric).

my point is: for protection, and more importantly, for liberty, handguns are necessary and a fundamental right. The gun crime rates of States (Florida, Texas, Arizona, to name a few of the many) which allow concealed or unconcealed handguns are much lower than those which make it a crime to pack. never mind the inner city sewers. a few thousand years of world history tells us nothing can help them. they, as individuals, must help themselves.

i like what you said about accepting longguns, although i can't agree with your position. fundamentally, i believe everyone should be allowed to bear arms.

and all you social liberals who want to disarm the citizenry: Hitler took the guns away from everyone. so did Stalin. look at every communist and fascist regime. they all tried the same thing. anyone who wants to ban guns is a totalitarian at heart.

good night

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-15 10:13:26 PM


let me correct a statement. everyone "with a clean record" should be allowed to pack.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-15 10:18:17 PM


Shel,

how does the violent death rate compare between the "best states" and say Canada?

I also don't buy into the "guns are needed for freedom" speech, because in the end the Government (and it is about freedom from your own Govenrment) will always have more guns, more tanks and more helicopters than you do.

The Soviet Union fell in the end not because people had guns, but because people in MASS stood up and said: "We had enough". This is essentially what will gurantee freedom.

Most countries in the West have strict gun control laws, Canada being one of them, the only country where this isn't the case is the US and the number of gun related deaths is quite a bit higher than in these restricted areas.

Of course this isn't a problem of guns alone, there are society problems that lead to the violence, the guns are just an amplifier in this.

So let's try this again, does the existance of guns make citizens safer than if handguns would banned? This won't of course happen in the US, there are too many guns around and it is part of the American identity, but what do you think would the effect be in Canada? A city like Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton or Vancouver? Would there be (after an "adjustment period") be less violent deaths than we have today?

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-15 11:01:56 PM


"There is no "dual use" "

Of course there is! It's called "self-defence" !

As long as judges release murderers, rapists and child molesters backinto society with slaps on the wrist, I will be carrying - the law be damned.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried out by 6.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-16 7:12:25 AM


>"organised crime thrives because the State lets organised crime rest comfortably upon three pillars: illegal drugs, prostitution, and firearms."
shel 15-Oct-07 7:58:05 PM

The traditional pillars of organized crime are: assassination, kidnapping, extortion, and blackmail. All of these crimes have victims as an end result.

By legislating to ostensibly protect people against their own behaviour governments have made gambling, prostitution, and recreational non-traditional drug use new pillars of organized crime which put the 'victims' on the side of criminals pitted against the state.

Self defence is a God given right and by restricting possession of the tools of defence, guns, the state has set itself up as an adversary and threat against the people with the gun seller as an ally once again.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-16 9:46:34 AM


OBC,

thanks for proving that you are just a very afraid person. How often had you have to be afraid for your life? The amount of times (in Canada at least) that you become the victim of one of these murderers (which mostly happens between people who know each other), rapists (Again something that mostly happens between people who know each other) and Child Molesters (again, mostly happening within their own family) is pretty slim and I doubt a gun would be of much use there.

That isn't meant to belittle the victims of these crimes, but I think you are operating under the wrong pre-text as to why you need to be afraid.

BTW, you forgot to mention "Islamists" in your list.

"Better to be judged by 12 than carried out by 6."

Of course, when someone else has a gun and thinks you are gonig to draw he may just decide to shoot first, just in case. An aspect that many "I carry a gun to protect myself" seem to forget.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-16 9:58:52 AM


An RCMP officer was buried in Ottawa yesterday.

He was allegedly shot by a drug dealer near a crack-house apartment in Hay River, NWT.

Four RCMP officers were killed at Rochford Bridge a couple of years ago ... by a drug dealer who was protecting his marijuana grow-op operation.

All this so somebody somewhere could get a buzz.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-16 10:12:21 AM


Last paragraph:
Snowrunner | 16-Oct-07 9:58:52 AM

As succinct an argument against police carrying guns as any I've read.

Obviously there will be less police officers shot if they don't carry guns.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-16 10:15:52 AM


>"All this so somebody somewhere could get a buzz."
Posted by: set you free | 16-Oct-07 10:12:21 AM

All this so somebody somewhere could be prevented from getting a 30 minute buzz from marijuana instead of a 6 hour buzz from alcohol.


Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-16 10:20:21 AM


As succinct an argument against police carrying guns as any I've read.

Obviously there will be less police officers shot if they don't carry guns.

Posted by: Speller | 16-Oct-07 10:15:52 AM

There's a difference for a police officer to carry a gun for their job where they usually don't try to "defend themselves against assault" but use the gun as a last resort. Most cops don't run around guns blazing, they use it as a "last line of defense" and usually get to draw their guns before getting into the situation.

Someone like obc who wants to carry concealed in order to "protect himself" from someone who means him harm is at a distinct disadvantage as he won't know the other guy wants to hurt him until he does hurt / threaten him, and by then his holster, safety on, unchambered gun is going to prove pretty useless.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-16 10:21:09 AM


>"Most cops don't run around guns blazing,"
Snowrunner | 16-Oct-07 10:21:09 AM

Neither do most gun owners run around with guns blazing today. You'll have to do better than, "It's a part of their job description."

Cops don't use guns as a 'last line of defence', they use them as a first choice if the person they are confronting is armed with anything at all, even if the cops outnumber have that person 10/1.

History shows that prior to gun restrictions that few people ran around with 'guns blazing'.
When civilians did run around with guns blazing' they were, in the past just as today, usually members of organized crime or at least career criminals.

Historically, handgun restrictions were enacted in Canada during the Great Depression when gangs of Bank robbers were using them in Canada and the U.S.

Prior to that time people owned all sorts of small arms with reports mass murders, home invasions, and Bank robberies being pretty thin.

As it stands, few incidents of the criminal use of firearms occur when police are present. The police almost always show up after violence has occurred, with the shortest response times being about 20 minutes.

I'd rather have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.
You only get to need a gun and not have it once.
Then, you never need a gun or anything else again.

Back in the '80s we had a serial Bank robber operating in Calgary who committed armed robbery at more than 12 Banks in the city.
This robber was named 'The Baseball Cap Bandit'.

He was caught on his last job, because the Bank he robbed was staked out, at the Royal bank at what is now the Northland Village Shoppes just 2 blocks from where I lived.

It turned out he was a serving member of the Calgary Police Service who was a Catholic with nine children to feed and the Police Service wouldn't permit him to moonlight.


Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-16 11:00:36 AM


"Test ferry crews for drugs, BC Ferries chief says"

Evidence uncovered during a probe of last year's fatal ferry sinking in British Columbia has safety officials worried about possible cannabis use among BC Ferries staff. It also has the head of BC Ferries calling for mandatory drug testing of ferry staff.

The Transportation Safety Board says there is no suggestion that crew members on the Queen of the North were under the influence of marijuana when the ship slammed into an island and sank on March 22, 2006.

But the TSB has nevertheless issued a "Board Concern," which is a formal notice of concern, as part of its ongoing investigation.

"The Board Concern was issued after the TSB learned that several crew members of the Queen of the North regularly smoked cannabis between shifts, both on board and off the vessel," the board says in a news release.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-17 8:42:31 PM


Snowrunner,

Please do not email at my address shown. I will not respond and will only debate in public.

Thank you,

Epsi

Posted by: Epsilon | 2007-10-19 11:18:17 AM



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