A worth while expense?
south west |
drugs and crime |
Monday December 06, 2010 14:41 by Barton Hill
Mainly cannabis but decriminalise all drugs
We generally do not fund research focussed on the potential beneficial effects of cannabis.
Don't criminalise it
Frost uncovers cannabis farms
The bitterly cold weather has provided an unexpected boost in the war on drugs in the West, it was revealed last night.
Freezing temperatures mean it is easy for police helicopters to spot lofts in houses that have been converted into cannabis factories, and hundreds of illegal cannabis plants have been seized, and nine people arrested, thanks to the cold weather.
Avon and Somerset police said its helicopter has been busy in the "ideal conditions" spotting roofs clear of frost and snow – a telltale sign of the heat lamps used for growing the drug indoors.
Police chiefs said a warm roof might just mean poor insulation, but the tactic has already netted a few successes this week alone.After spotting from the eye in the sky, officers on the ground found 32 plants at one house in Bristol, and another 20 in Stathe, near Bridgwater, where one man was arrested.
In all, the helicopter has helped spot almost 800 plants growing under roofs in the constabulary area, and nine people have been arrested. Police have also found 250g of cocaine at one address.
Drugs Strategy manager Paul Bunt said: "We know that the seizures are already having an impact on local drug supply."
Bristol has a long history of drug use and enjoyment. Despite people having personnel knowledge of what drugs are capable of, both harmful and beneficial. The government continues on a one track course of criminalising everybody that dares make their own choice on this subject, regardless of the fact nobody may have been harmed.
This agenda has been pursued by every successive government that comes into power while the negative aspects of drug use are continually promoted, with many millions of pounds being spent on attempts to wipe out their use.
For example local newsletters and community meetings hear how the police have arrested yet more drug dealers or busted another cannabis factory.
Or this example taken from South Wales:
A TERRACED house in Trealaw was raided and found to be hiding more than 400 cannabis plants.
The following day a 20-year-old man was remanded in custody by magistrates, and he will face a judge at a later date.
PC John Roberts, the Neighbourhood Beat Manager said,“Local PCSOs had their suspicions about activity at this house, and this was re-inforced by information supplied by the community.”
In other words – the pigs smelt it.
Is it not time the nanny state cleared off and allowed us to make our own choices?
Here is a brief update on the latest developments from the British government.
The police reform and social responsibility bill, published last week, contains an amendment to the constitution of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that would remove the requirement on the home secretary to appoint at least six scientists to the committee.
A further amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 would allow the home secretary to place temporary controls on substances for a year by statutory instrument.
The proposals will be of concern to the many doctors and scientists who have criticised the government's treatment of scientific evidence in the wake of the sacking, last year, of ACMD chairman David Nutt. The then home secretary, Alan Johnson, removed Nutt from the post after the scientist criticised politicians for distorting research evidence and claiming alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than some illegal drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis.
After David Nutt was removed, scientists called on the government to guarantee that any advice they offered to help make policy would remain free from political interference.
With Cannabis use particularly in mind, this article posted on Uk Indymedia recently is very interesting. I recommend taking the time to listen to the two recorded radio broadcasts. They can be found here:
Last week's episode looked at how man made toxic chemicals have proved more destructive for humans than initially anticipated. This week, by contrast, we look at the effects of chemicals that occur naturally in plants, and may be more therapeutic than generally recognised. In our first hour, Claudia Little, a medical marijuana activist looks at some of the innumerable therapeutic uses of this plant, with a history of medical use going back several thousands of years. Our second hour features Michael Pollan speaking on the contents of his book Cannabis, Forgetting, and the Botany of Desire, which widens our focus to look at how plants have co-evolved to fulfil useful functions to other life forms.
We begin with Claudia Little, speaking on March 5th, 2010 at the Ashland Alternative Health Clinic, in Oregon. A nurse with a masters degree in Public Health, she begins by explaining how she became a marijuana activist after her son was arrested at school and she witnessed his drug rehab, which upset her since she knew if contained so many untruths. After a brief review of its long history of therapeutic use, she describes how and why marijuana was made illegal in US. The bulk of her talk concerns research from the last fifteen years into the effects of cannabis use. She outlines recent findings about the mechanism of action of some of the different chemicals in cannabis and describes a remarkably wide range of surprising and positive effects of cannabis use aside from the well known effects of mood elevation.
She cites a wealth of modern studies, from those suggesting that use by pregnant mothers improves the subsequent brain function of their children to those which suggest that it has an anti-carcinogenic function, perhaps even on lung cancer. By way of explaining these surprising results, which of course run counter to the state-backed line that equates use with abuse, she quotes:
"As the National Institute of Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequence of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focussed on the potential beneficial effects of marijuana." — NIDA spokesman , January 2010
In our second hour, Michael Pollan presents a 'bigger picture' talk, looking not only at cannabis, but at plants a whole. He speaks of his book Cannabis, Forgetting, and the Botany of Desire, a respectful investigation into plants biochemistry which turns traditional competitive evolution on its head. Whilst we could see bees as exploiting the flowers by feeding from their nectar, it just as possible to see plants as using bees to transport their pollen and do the work of fertilising them. If this is true of bees and plants, why not humans and plants? Acknowledging the linguistic gap in the English language for dealing with such thoughts, he suggests that plants worked out how to get humans to look after them, by appealing to our senses of taste, smell, sight, and our desire for intoxication. He notes that - with the single exception of the Inuit, whose habitat gave them no such option - humans everywhere have enjoyed intoxication from local plants, though each culture usually only prescribe only a few.
He focuses specifically on cannabis, which he notes came quite late to Europe. He terms it a 'cultural mutagen', increasing the speed of a culture's evolution by promoting the free thinking of its users. He speculates how cannabis could have worked in partnership with its users, co-evolved with their culture, by conferring a selective advantage on those who used it, and bred more psychoactive strains. Since cannabis is known to impair short term recall, he answers the apparent riddle of how forgetting could be a survival advantage by considering what life would be like without any forgetting. He tells the tale of "Mr. S", whose apparently unlimited memory drove him to distraction. Forgetting, he suggests is essential to awareness, and he suggests that this is an essential spiritual discipline.
His final reflection is a new interpretation of Genesis. Is it the protestant work ethic that causes humans to see it as 'cheap' to use plants to gain enlightenment, or is there something deeper at work? Was God's prohibition that Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge the first battle of the drug war? He concludes with an echo of Charles Eisenstein's reflections on the possibility of 're-enchanting' nature. Reading from his book, he suggests that occasional intoxication and submission to nature can be a constructive check on the hubris of humans' loftier thoughts by reconnecting us with the earth which supports us and helping us to understand the unity of all life.