Sunday, November 15, 2009

4:20 News

# The biggest news that has been in the headlines recently is the rolling storm after the sacking of the government's chief drugs advisor Professor David Nutt. The day prior to this news, David Nutt had appeared in the BBC headlines for accusing ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of "devaluing" the copious evidence on drugs. An Op-Ed column from David Nutt also appeared in the Guardian, pointing out that in spite of all the skunk hysteria, the evidence doesn't back up the rhetoric.

Incidentally, Jacqui Smith resigned her ministerial office after a scandal involving parliament funds for porn.

The day after the dismissal, the Guardian launches a stinging editorial. The same day, scientists gather in support of Professor Nutt. The next day, Sunday 1st November, the Independent reports that six members of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs threaten to resign.

On Monday, the Home Secretary who had fired Nutt was revealed to have ordered a review of the ACMD. Actually, a review has been on the books for a while, but the search for more elastic yes men has been kicked up a couple of notches.

By Tuesday, the government's chief science advisor was publicly backing the sacked professor. Wednesday had Professor Nutt appearing in New Scientist. Clive James tackles the whole drugs trope on the Friday.

The following Monday, Kathryn Ryan catches up for a chat with Professor Nutt on NatRad's Nine to Noon. The next day, three more advisors quit in protest. Wednesday, it's back to Johann Hari at the Independent who draws strength from the controversy to push the whole war on drugs argument down to dust.

# Meantime in the US, President Obama has issued a directive to federal authorities not to prosecute drug users where state laws allow it:
In a sharp policy shift, the Obama administration told federal attorneys not to prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons or dispensaries in states where it has been legalised.
# The federal pull-back gives these others chance to breathe easier. A NYT editorial backs the policy. Prior to this, the New York Times had looked at the only person in America who has a state license to distribute marijuana. There are other places which did so under constant threat of arrest, such as compassion clubs. This Heat Off card will give them some peace of mind.

# The American Medical Association has changed its policy and asked for the illegality of cannabis to be reconsidered:
The American Medical Assn. on Tuesday urged the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use, a significant shift that puts the prestigious group behind calls for more research.

# A Colorado newspaper has signed on a critic to exclusively review marijuana.

# According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), NZ gets the bronze medal for cannabis per capita usage. Only the United States and Australia beat us to the bong. Of the Europeans, the Danish are the biggest stars in the union:

We beat those Euros in the "ever used" department though. Over half of NZ has tried the wicked weed.

# Speaking of smoke-offs, Snoop Dogg has confessed that the only person he has met who can smoke him under the table is Willie Nelson. HT Boing Boing.

# The Daily Dish has the stats on the most deadliest drugs in the UK, courtesy of Information is Beautiful. Marijuana is less dangerous than aspirin:

# Speaking of drug deaths, the widespread use of anti-psychotics in rest homes has been linked to around 1,800 needless deaths.

# In the trippy department, scientists are looking at studying the health benefits of LSD and Ecstacy. National Geographic goes inside the head of a tripper. If our scientists in NZ are ever allowed to have a go with it too, I volunteer to be a lab rat.

# The Boston Globe's Big Picture looks at the graphic reality of the war on drugs. NSFW pictures are clickable, but it's all very vivid.

# And finally, Transform has released 'After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation'. Pdf here.