Archive for the ‘drugs’ Tag

‘Stoned wallabies make crop circles’

‘Stoned wallabies make crop circles’

Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around “as high as a kite”, a government official has said.

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.

She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops.

Australia supplies about 50% of the world’s legally-grown opium used to make morphine and other painkillers.

“The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles,” Lara Giddings told the hearing.

“Then they crash,” she added. “We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.”


Rise in use of drug tests to sack staff without redundancy pay

Rise in use of drug tests to sack staff without redundancy pay

Employers are increasingly using drug testing to get rid of staff without having to make redundancy payouts, as a way of ­cutting costs during the recession, a ­charity has said.

Release, which focuses on drugs, the law and human rights, reported a four-fold increase in calls to its drugs team about problems with workplace testing in the first three months of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

In the first quarter of 2008, the team received 493 calls, with just 31 (6.2%) related to testing at work. In the first three months of this year, 548 calls were received with 145 (26.4%) about this issue.

In many cases callers have been getting in touch in a state of distress, having been tested for the first time after years in the same job. Often a programme of voluntary redundancies was announced, followed by workplace medicals for the remaining staff, including a drug test.

Sacking employees who test positive for illicit drugs allows employers to avoid making redundancy payouts. Cannabis, which can remain detectable for several weeks after use, is the substance causing the biggest problems for employees.

While drug testing in the workplace has been routine for many years in safety critical jobs, such as driving and machine operation, Release reports that many calls are coming from sectors they had comparatively few dealings with before such as office work, banking and commerce.

Previously the charity received regular calls from employers about how best to support staff with drug problems. These calls have dwindled to almost zero.

Legalisation of drugs could save UK £14bn, says study

Legalisation of drugs could save UK £14bn, says study

The regulated legalisation of drugs would have major benefits for taxpayers, victims of crime, local communities and the criminal justice system, according to the first comprehensive comparison between the cost-effectiveness of legalisation and prohibition. The authors of the report, which is due to be published today, suggest that a legalised, regulated market could save the country around £14bn.

For many years the government has been under pressure to conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of the current drugs policy, but has failed to do so despite calls from MPs. Now the drugs reform charity, Transform, has commissioned its own report, examining all aspects of prohibition from the costs of policing and investigating drugs users and dealers to processing them through the courts and their eventual incarceration.

As well as such savings is the likely taxation revenue in a regulated market. However, there are also the potential costs of increased drug treatment, education and public information campaigns about the risks and dangers of drugs, similar to those for tobacco and alcohol, and the costs of running a regulated system.

Attorney general signals shift in marijuana policy

Attorney general signals shift in marijuana policy

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a change on medical marijuana policy Wednesday, saying federal agents will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state law .

That would be a departure from the policy of the Bush administration, which targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in California even if they complied with that state’s law.

“The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law,” Holder said in a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Justice Department.

Medical marijuana advocates in California welcomed the news, but said they still worried about the pending cases of those already in court on drug charges.

California law permits the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, though it still is against federal law .

Sending a message to cannabis users – switch drugs now!

Sending a message to cannabis users – switch drugs now!

The second Drug War Rant in as many days, so you’ll have to forgive me, but its post it here or rant at you all in real life!

As anyone with their head not stuck in the sand probably knows, Cannabis has recently been reclassified to class B, because its previous status apparently did not reflect on its danger.

Lets assume for a minute that cannabis users won’t completely ignore this reclassification. If they do care enough to act on this change in the law, there are two ways it can go.

The first, will most likely be thinking that now cannabis is a class B drug, that must mean its dangerous. These pot-smokers are most likely now looking for a safer drug to try out instead. Unfortunately, the average person has no real idea what drug classes actually mean, and what drugs are what. And so, provided for your info is a useful breakdown of Class C drugs they might switch to.

Alaska trooper says politics slowed drug arrest

Alaska trooper says politics slowed drug arrest

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A drug investigator says authorities delayed the arrest of a woman tied to Gov. Sarah Palin’s family until after the November election, in which Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate, a newspaper reported.

Sherry Johnston – whose son Levi Johnston is engaged to Palin’s daughter, Bristol – was arrested Dec. 18 on six felony drug counts. She is accused of selling Oxycontin, a strong prescription painkiller, and pleaded not guilty Monday.

Investigator Kyle Young sent an e-mail to the Public Safety Employees Association saying the search warrant of Johnston’s house was delayed for political reasons, the Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

“It was not allowed to progress in a normal fashion, the search warrant WAS delayed because of the pending election and the Mat Su Drug Unit and the case officer were not the ones calling the shots,” Young wrote in the Dec. 30 e-mail.

The warrant was delivered the same day as Sherry Johnston’s arrest.

World’s oldest cannabis stash found

World’s oldest cannabis stash found

The world’s oldest stash of cannabis has been uncovered in China.

789 grams of marijuana was found buried in the tomb of a shaman and was so well-preserved that it retained its green colour.

The drug is thought to be around 2,700 years old, with researchers warning that it should not be smoked due to its lack of odour.

An article in the Journal Of Experimental Botany revealed: “[It is] the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent.”

Bridles, a harp and archery equipment were also found in the tomb.

The original article can be found here.

Lords must stop plan to reclassify cannabis

A group of scientists and others have sent a letter to the House of Lords requesting that they pay attention to scientific advice rather than the ramblings of various politicians on the subject of cannabis.

The letter is as follows:

Today the House of Lords debates the proposal from the Home Office to reclassify cannabis from class C to class B. In recommending this change to parliament, the government has rejected the explicit advice of its appointed experts, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, for the first time in nearly 30 years. In its last report, produced at the request of the home secretary, the ACMD clearly recommended – for the third time in the last six years – that cannabis remains a class C drug, and did so after examining all the available and latest evidence on short- and long-term health risks, as well as social harms, public attitudes and policing priorities.

After setting out its conclusions on the health risks of cannabis and concerns regarding greater potency, the report made clear recommendations for improved drugs education and greater efforts to tackle drug dealing. However, it concluded that the evidence was against greater criminalisation of possession. The impact of parliament agreeing to the government’s policy could be very damaging. Cannabis use has fallen in recent years, especially following its downgrading to class C in 2004, and it is obviously unwise to risk reversing that trend. The classification system must be credible – reclassification would send out an ambiguous message about the dangers of current class B drugs.

Even more importantly, the move would be a sad departure from the welcome trend – established after the Phillips report into the BSE disaster – of public policy following expert scientific advice unless there is new evidence. Baroness Meacher has tabled an amendment calling for a postponement of any reclassification pending a further ACMD review in two years. We urge peers to maintain the trend to evidence-based policy-making by supporting the amendment.

Dr Evan Harris MP Lib Dem science spokesman, David King Former government chief scientific adviser, Professor Michael Rawlins Chair, ACMD 1998-2008, (Lord) Robert May Former government chief scientific adviser, Phil Willis MP Chair, Science select committee, Professor Gabriel Horne Chair, Academy of Medical Science working group on addiction, Professor Colin Blakemore Member, UK Drug Policy Commission; former director, Medical Research Council, Tracey Brown Director, Sense about Science, Dr Leslie King Member, ACMD, Ruth Runciman Former member, ACMD Prof Ian Gilmore, President, Royal College of Physicians and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs, Prof. Roger Brownsword, Professor of Law at King’s College London and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs, Prof Bill Deakin, Professor of Psychiatry, Manchester University and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs, Prof Trevor Robbins, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs

Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap

Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap

Regular readers will recall the confused mess that is this government’s cannabis policy. There has been a drop in cannabis consumption since it was downgraded from Class B to C, but nevertheless they want to put it back up to Class B again. Yes, we know all about the argument that what you ingest is entirely your business, it being your body and all that but morals are always trumped by politics.

In the comments section to our last piece the general consensus was that the policy was driven either by a craven servility to the Murdoch press or, as a daring alternative, a bending to Daily Mail woo woo. The general consensus however was that it was Puritanism, that awful fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves and that this situation cannot be allowed to continue. We’re arguing over whose Puritanism, not whether.

There was one vaguely respectable argument that could be put forward on the prohibitionist’s side, that of cannabis induced schizophrenia. This has been increasing even as the general incidence of schizophrenia has been stable (or even falling, depending upon who you ask). That the rise was on the order of 500 people a year means it’s not a very important point, not when compared to 3 million regular tokers, but there are still those who will buy the argument that people should be stopped from harming themselves, even if the risks are very low.

There is certainly a correlation, but we should still want to know about causation before we take any further action. For it is possible, and it is a view advanced by some (like myself last time), that those who are about to become schizophrenic dose themselves on cannabis as they are known to on alcohol and any other substance that comes to hand to still the voices. Or perhaps there’s a milder version, that cannabis induced psychosis isn’t in fact cannabis induced at all, but is simply coincidental: that it’s an early marker of schizophrenia rather than something brought on by cannabis itself.