Cannabis, teens, and fecal matter

Written By: - Date published: 8:56 am, July 10th, 2019 - 28 comments
Categories: drugs, Social issues, tax - Tags: ,

An article in the BBC News caught my eye last night. “Teens less likely to use cannabis when it’s legal, US study finds“. The study was pretty preliminary but quite specific. 

Now I can speculate about why, and I’m sure that some will. But the prosaic explanations by a author were pretty good working theory.

Lead author of the study Mark Anderson told the Associated Press that the study, published in the medical journal Jama Paediatrics, “should help to quell some concerns that use among teens will actually go up”.

His team analysed data on about 1.4 million teenagers in the US, taken from the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys, an annual national survey carried out by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr Anderson said it was usually harder for teens to buy from licensed dispensaries – where proof of age is required – than from dealers, which could partly explain the drop. Cannabis sold in dispensaries is also often more expensive.

Dr Anderson said that the researchers did not find a change after medical cannabis was legalised – only when the drug was legalised for recreational purposes.

And the obvious caveat applied…

Dr Anderson told the US broadcaster CNN that, because most states that have legalised cannabis did so recently, the team would need to continue to track the data and update their findings “in a few years”.

Now I have no particular love or dislike about cannabis. I simply don’t care. People have been smoking weed around me for decades and I find them to be as vague with or without. They’re somewhat less annoying than drunks, and usually way less offensive than the smokers and vapers in public spaces.

For me.. Well I’m a programmer and really really use my well-honed brain. It means that I’m kind of irritated when it can’t do what I want it to do.

Which is why getting older sucks because I can use less raw brain power to problem solve. On the other-hand it does get offset by way more accumulated guile. 

The couple of times that I tried weed, I simply couldn’t program properly for days afterwards. I’ve never gone back to marijuana or any of its cousins. I prefer the more immediate and less sustained effects of wine.

So personally I put smoking cannabis as being as dangerous to others as getting the flu or doing all night multi-user games or getting infatuated with good bottle of whiskey. You really shouldn’t try to drive, make financial decisions or program after any of those either.

There are people who have issues when they overindulge. Just as I have seen people with issues with alcohol or  various medications. But in my life I haven’t seen any evidence that cannabis users need to be criminalised for use.

Have access to counselling yes. Shoved in a cell to come off their idiotic high to prevent personal injury or being a danger to others – sure. Criminalised – no.

But there several other reasons to decriminalise – to improve the quality of supply, and to tax. For instance, this is somewhat extreme, but consider the supply chain implications from this study earlier this year on the quality of hashish in Madrid..

Street cannabis ‘contains dangerous amount of faecal matter‘. 

Traces of E.coli bacteria and the Aspergillus fungus were found by analysts who examined 90 samples bought in and around the Spanish capital.

The samples of hashish were wrapped up in plastic “acorns” were the worst offenders, reportedly because of the way they are smuggled into the country.

Some 40% of these also had the aroma of faeces, the study’s lead author said.

What the article was delicately referring to was explained further down the page.

The acorns, he said, were more likely to be contaminated because of how they were brought into the country – the cannabis is wrapped up in small plastic pellets and swallowed before the drug smugglers then “take a laxative and expel” them in a toilet. These are then sold by dealers.

Urggh… Now smoking or consuming that constitutes an extreme personal stupidity driven public health issue. Just like having preventable measles outbreaks is. But it is also a direct consequence of criminalisation. Just as the spiking of various drugs by dealers here with more addictive substances is.

And then of course there is all of that untaxed income from illegal enterprises that sucks investment away from the productive economies.

For me it is a no-brainer. We should treat most minor drugs just like we do with alcohol and tobacco. Tax them heavily. Ensure the quality of supply. Spend the revenue raised on dealing with the civil disorder issues from over-indulging dimwits, education, counselling and the inevitable socila and health consequences.

It’d be way less of an social ill than trying to do something daft like driving that trade underground

 

28 comments on “Cannabis, teens, and fecal matter ”

  1. Ad 1

    Recreational alcohol is age regulated. But its taxes are not hypothecated to its harms.

    Smoking is age regulated. But its taxes are not hypothecated to its harms either.

    As soon as you have any legal line drawn, there will still be risk taking and crime; it might be lessened, but gangs that make and distribute are so huge in New Zealand it's hard to predict.

    It would be easier to regulate the desire for marijuana's active ingredients through vaping ingredients. That way more people get the experience they want without the cancer-causing combustion part of it.

    How you would turn the above into a binding and useful referendum question is hard to imagine.

    • WeTheBleeple 1.1

      When seeking cannabis from gang-related supply, it is common for persons to instead be offered synthetics and/or P. While a relatively recent phenomenon, it is widespread.

      The gangs are not concerned with what you take, merely with how much they make.

      A black market needs to be hidden. Cannabis takes a few months to produce, uses high volumes of electricity, takes considerable space, and the return is small – in comparison to synthetics and P. Good old market forces aye.

      Take the massive police resources chasing pot growers around and apply it to the scourge of P and synthetics.

      A majority of NZ pot growers today are rural, or specifically addressing their or others medicinal needs. They are a rare breed compared to only a decade ago.

      Cannabis can be as varied from one strain to the other as valium is to caffeine. Making a call as to it's effects is anecdotal and means little to nothing. The weed I like lets me sleep easy and has no lingering effects – while hangovers severely limit functionality. The typical drunk does far more harm than the myopic stoner. Alcohol is strongly correlated with violence, sexual violence, traffic accidents, A & E intakes… Just ask the health professionals, social workers, judges, prison population…

      What specific cannabinoid profile is in the material determines effect, as does the concentration/s of metabolites in each strain. Legalisation removes the crap-shoot of trying to match metabolite profiles to medical condition/user requirements.

      A person needing to take the edge off of their day should be able to smoke/vape/consume some anxiolytic weed. Far more desirable than leaving the general public to attempt to self medicate on unknown weed strains, synthetics, alcohol, hard drugs, prescription pills and their myriad side effects…

      Mental Health affects a large proportion of our population. Those afflicted often self-medicate. Bring cannabis into both the market and health industry.

      Have knowledgeable people dispensing it.

      It's high time.

      P.S. The only place you’ll find butt smuggled weed in NZ is in the prison system.

      • Ad 1.1.1

        I would find it hard to disagree with marijuana as a sleep medicine.

        Apart from that I await the draft regulatory framework.

  2. Dukeofurl 2

    When an paper uses words like 'analysed data' and '1.4 million teens' you just know its one of those throw stuff into the air and see what happens 'studies'.

    Its not even a peer reviewed article , but a 'research letter'

    • lprent 2.1

      Always so much fun when someone selectively quotes.

      It usually means that it is a random nut trying to frame the debate. The rest of the paragraph gave the source.

      … taken from the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys, an annual national survey carried out by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

      That was why there was sufficient data to analyse. This is the primary source for many of the child health policy decisions in the US.

      As I pointed out in the post the legislative changes are too recent to have much useful data. The only way to do the type of analysis is to look at large sets of data with previous data sets – which this is.

      It wouldn't surprise me if this appears in a peer reviewed. But it is valuable for policy inferences.

      • Dukeofurl 2.1.1

        Having looked at the entire research letter it seems state specific results are mixed

        "For instance, using data from Monitoring the Future, Cerdá et al3 found increased marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders after it was legalized for recreational use in Washington State. However, these authors found no evidence of an association between legalization and adolescent marijuana use in Colorado. Using data from the Washington Healthy Youth Survey, Dilley et al4 found that marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders fell after legalization for recreational purposes."

        Of course the US has varied laws , some 30 have medical marijuana laws (MML) while 10 have recreational use laws.

        No sure what the numbers are for MML only states , as its unlikely a teenager would be getting a 'prescription' . The letter says they considered data for both MML and recreational states

        • McFlock 2.1.1.1

          Yes, that's data frequently behaves: some places go up, some places go down, you try to make sure everyone's measuring the same thing, and then you see how things go overall.

          This is simply a report back on the initial stages of an overall longer-term assessment. The only determination so far is that the sky hasn't fallen in yet, and doesn't even look particularly shaky. Look up the author on google scholar in five or ten years for the peer-reviewed stuff.

  3. reason 3

    Keeping teens of Cannabis, Booze or other drugs is about being engaged with them and helping them participate in activities they enjoy / sports / dance/ swimming /music or whatever they like … be pleased to be their taxi, know their friends and their general where abouts ,,, be fair and consistent.

    Prohibition has never protected teens, instead it exposes them to getting a police criminal record, contact with gangs and criminals … and the potentially lethal lab made ' synthetics ' ,,, as the mark up for dealers from Synthetics is HUGE ….. in the order of 20 X more mark up than reselling Cannabis….

    Cannabis prohibition is actually a nasty cult … like all cults its based on a Big lie.

    All and any of the criminal charges teenagers or others face … are based on ' the law is an ass ' decree ….where any consumption of Cannabis has been defined as " Drug Abuse", which any thinking person can see is crap.

    Modern Science and medicine defines " Drug Abuse " … ' as continuing the use of a drug when it is damaging your health or ability to function normally in life, ie if it affects your work or relationships etc.

    And from this legal lie of drug abuse ,,,, spins more crazy abuse of our laws and rights.

    The smell of Cannabis allows the police to invoke "emergency powers " … stripping citizens of rights in a "martial law" kind of way.

    How the hell is smoking a joint … an emergency?? …. Its just another lie ,,, its abuse of drug policy.

    Being honest and fair is very important with teenagers … and at all other stages of their growth,,,, Our justice system is dishonest and unfair to the point of being a Abuse system … with a racist bias ,,, to teens and others.

    Duncan Garner was moaning about what would he tell his kids about 'legalising drugs', in the current Cannabis debate ,,,I pity his kids ,,, Dads either stupid or dishonest ,,,

    • I feel love 3.1

      Good stuff @reason, totally agree (I'm a father to a near teen and I have no fear of talking to her about anything).

      • reason 3.1.1

        Thats the way I feel Love 🙂 … it's how family should be … and it's a huge reward in getting it right as a parent .. happy secure children when young and growing … And the benefits your loving parent / child relationship provide serve them well all through their lives ,,, I'm so proud of my kids who are now young adults…. and of course half the credit must go to their mother.

        My daughter took on a hard path of study and work in the field of medicine ,,, my son the challenges of one of the engineering ranches

        I love them both dearly ….

        Attacks on young people … by so many bad settings in society, anger me greatly.

        Priests and cults winning against science and medicine should have ended long ago.

        Abuse of state powers …. as represented by people like Mike Sabin or drug squad cops …. are a far bigger threat than Cannabis.

        They are groomers …….

    • bwaghorn 3.2

      I learnt my drinking and smoking weed at a rugby club as a 14 year old . I hope things have changed but I doubt it.

      • Dennis Frank 3.2.1

        No kidding? I didn't know rugby players getting high was a thing. "Hey man, focus! Grab the ball!" "Oh yeah, it is too. Cool shape!" wink

    • Dukeofurl 3.3

      You are entirely wrong.

      Smoking a joint doesnt give teenager a criminal record in the way you suggest. Nor does underage use of alcohol.

      No need to worry about about the legalisation, as its not going to happen.

      • reason 3.3.1

        I'm entirely wrong ????? I presented over 20 different bits of information and advice,. You try to refute 1 of them …. Thats a failure of logical thought and basic english.

        Cults do that to people surprise

        According to experts …… and whats written in our laws …

        “Unfortunately, the Misuse of Drugs Act is an inadequate and harmful piece of legislation that needs a complete overhaul, as recommended by the Law Commission way back in 2011.”

        Not that criminalising people who use cannabis has stopped. Last year 1,700 convictions were handed out for cannabis possession or use, and in the last decade there were over 45,000. Young people and Māori receive a disproportionate share of those convictions.

        A conviction can affect employment, family relations, mental health, travel, insurance, housing and more – and those ongoing impacts are often completely out of proportion to the ‘crime’ itself.

        Right now, handing out a conviction and punishment is all the law can offer. Is this the best we can do?

        https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/news-media-and-events/regulating-cannabis-is-the-best-option-to-protect-public-health/

        https://www.police.govt.nz/advice/drugs-and-alcohol/cannabis-and-law

        Cannabis laws and penalties

        Penalties associated with cannabis range from a $500 fine ( and police /criminal record ) for possession ……. to a 14 year jail term for its supply or manufacture…

        …procure or have in his possession, or consume, smoke, or otherwise use, any controlled drug;

        I'm not worried about whether your cult wins …. Cannabis will be here long long after any memory of your weird thinking exists .

        Some people never recover after being in a cult, I just hope you get better

        and post something real to me next time 🙂 .

    • tc 3.4

      Good post and great comment.

      Gooner, the hosk, lackwit Williams etc will align in a predictable manner singing for their supper.

      Just came back from the UK….joints being openly consumed all over as it's awash with Californias finest.

      We need to be progressive as the thinking members of our police know P is the evil gang driven scourge.

      The not so deep thinkers in police go on to coach AB's and excuse domestic violence.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Excellent essay and I like the way you anchored it in personal experience. Commenting further from my own experience would take too long so I'll go with this:

    The couple of times that I tried weed, I simply couldn’t program properly for days afterwards.

    I see that as a left/right brain hemispheric thing. Left performs sequential functions, such as serial info-processing. Right gives you context.

    Spacing out is essentially holistic – that's why the hippies kept talking about cosmic insights etc. Narrow daily focus binds people into tasks, escapism then becomes the refuge where the mind goes to play.

    Downside of too much holistic consciousness then becomes drowning in deep context. The oceanic effect. You were probably lucky that your shift towards that was relatively tentative in the grand scheme of things… wink

    • RedLogix 4.1

      The couple of times that I tried weed, I simply couldn’t program properly for days afterwards.

      I found the same with alcohol. Or if I did, I'd invariably come back a week later and ask "who wrote this shit?".

      I'm convinced that the legal system is not the correct system to apply to the use of drugs. (The supply of them may well be a different matter.) Certainly there is every good reason to keep drug users out of the legal system. In almost all instances it's a 'cure' way worse than the problem the drugs are causing.

      The big problem is teenagers; few parent are going to vote to let their kids smoke dope with no possible sanction. There is no doubt in my mind there is too much risk of young lives being derailed if they become habitual users; there will always be some kids who lack self-control.

      Also we need to be a lot smarter about the distinction between drugs that have relatively modest downsides like THC and psychoactives, as distinct from the opiates, meth and cocaine which are all potentially very destructive.

  5. bwaghorn 5

    ""The acorns, he said, were more likely to be contaminated because of how they were brought into the country – the cannabis is wrapped up in small plastic pellets and swallowed before the drug smugglers then “take a laxative and expel” them in a toilet. These are then sold by dealers.""

    That's some good shit!!🤣🤣

  6. Bruce 6

    Good post and I agree with Dennis, different strokes for different folks, unfortunatly prohibition plays into this. Folks are doing things because its 'bad' or cool rather than what suits them. And problems ensue. My headmaster new and as he threw me out of his school told me 'you are one of these people who smoke pot' he was right when I later discovered it , it suited me fine. I find it interesting that for you LPrent taking pot is not good for the work you do on machines that were from people who did partake, I may be wrong could be just urban myth that Gates etc were stoners. Anyone who thinks it is illegal for our own good just needs to read the Guest post, the govt has no interest in your wellbeing. Pot is illegal because of fear, fear that these freaks will impact adversly on the way they see the world should be.I feel getting out of it is as much part of a persons make up as the colour of their skin or the partners they choose. From the Yamono Indians to kava , betel, miang, and quot everyone seems to do it and to regulate which ones can be used by whom just does not seem right.

  7. Bewildered 7

    Drug use surveys like political polling are prone to large error, people, especially teenagers don’t tell the truth Similar surveys done on cocaine usage in the 90s in the US had result showing war on drugs was a huge success as usage was supposedly falling dramatically

    • In Vino 7.1

      Maybe true, Bewildered.. My take is that all those people who wail on about the serious damage that excessive intake of pot can inflict upon the brains of vulnerable young people… these people ignore the fact that none of these excessive users are exclusively on pot. These idiots are also overloading on alcohol and God knows what else at the same time. Most likely, it was not cannabis that caused the damage: it was all the other stuff the boofheads took along with it.

  8. Chris T 8

    I am pretty much the same as you.

    As long recreational doesn't interfere with medical getting through I couldn't give a rats whether recreational passes or doesn't.

    It isn't like people are getting locked up or charged for smoking a joint privately and not selling. You can even grow a couple of plants now and no one gives a crap

    Provided they work out a decent way to stop kids getting it too easy like people on the street buying kids booze for them now.

  9. On that basis, ["harder for teens to buy from licensed dispensaries"] an argument for legalising methamphetamine. The difference is psychological addiction and physical/mental/neurotransmitter addiction. Just saying.

  10. Bruce 10

    Maybe this video is all fake, but seems credible to me, its explains why we are in the situation we need a disscusion on 'How to get there' to solve the problems criminalising cannabis has bought about. Greed and gullible politicians have a lot to answer for.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ebz9OuYLL0

    • Dennis Frank 10.1

      It's totally legit, Bruce. I had to research the issue when I included cannabis decriminalisation in the Greens justice policy draft (I was convenor of the justice policy working group) long ago. There's history in this documentary I didn't discover back then, so please do send it to the next HTGT!

    • RedLogix 10.2

      Hemp has been legal in Australia for a while now. I'm curious to know how successful they are.

  11. McFlock 11

    Between you and me and not the boss, while cannabis is shit for coding, I find that being massively hungover really helps me find coding errors. Because I'm trying to hold my head on, I slow right down and look at each step and line individually, rather than just skimming through and thinking "ah, this is the correct coding for all the different observation values, something else must be the error source", when actually "F2E" halfway down the block should be "F23".

    I don't do it often, but it has gotten me out of shitloops from time to time.

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