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Author Topic: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?  (Read 3165 times)

Offline Caleb

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Several general points should be made:

Marijuana does not appear to be toxic.

It may have an impact on younger brains, including those exposed to it before birth (also, a word to emphasize is "may")

As compared with other intoxicants, this seems to be generally quite harmless.

Some people with pain conditions, sleep conditions, muscle disorders, etc., seem to find this approach quite helpful.

Also, in the U.S., people possessing this drug may go to jail/prison for a long time, have a major offense noted against them, etc.

Any thoughts about how to think about this?

Yours,

Caleb


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #1 on: 30/01/2014 11:47:25 »
Government has no legitimate interest in what adults do to themselves.

All drugs should be legalised, but the penalty for supplying any intoxicant to a minor should be suitably draconian: the supplier must kill himself with an overdose of whatever he supplied.

The penalty for injuring a third party whilst intoxicated should be aligned with that for intentional harm. No excuses: you can smoke, swallow, snort or inject anything you fancy (and if you buy it tax-paid from a licensed pharmacist you can be sure that it is good stuff) but you and you alone are responsible for your actions at all times. 

What, you may say, about  a parent giving a child wine with a meal? IMHO that is the only point worth debating.
« Last Edit: 30/01/2014 11:53:41 by alancalverd »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #2 on: 31/01/2014 18:55:59 »
Far more people have been killed by the war on drugs than could ever be saved by it. Children have been poisoned to death in Colombia by the spraying of coca crops; Mexico's run by drugs gangs; terrorists get their funding from the amplified value of drugs; etc.

I'd like to see all trade in drugs legalised, but I'd be happy for it to remain illegal for people to consume them if they can be shown to be more harmful than legal drugs like alcohol.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #3 on: 01/02/2014 01:06:49 »
I have no problems with allowing medical uses of cannabis such as alleviating the symptoms of chemotherapy (eg nausea & weight loss), if it can be shown to be effective.

However, the harms it generates include:
  • Short-Term: Impaired alertness and coordination (ie no driving, operating machines or serving customers)
  • Long-term: Lung Cancer, pulmonary & cardiovascular damage (similar to tobacco), decrease in short-term memory and feelings of paranoia or anxiety
Unlike alcohol, the active ingredients of Marijuana are not a single volatile chemical, so testing for dangerous intoxication will be more expensive, time-consuming and intrusive, whether by the roadside or in the workplace.

I am not sure that "other intoxicants" are a good basis for deciding what is good for us. We have seen the debate in recent years over:
  • The medical impacts of tobacco, who knew what, was it ethical for them to suppress & confound the scientific evidence, and did they have a responsibility to tell the public. There are now slow and laborious efforts underway to restrict it to places where it won't cause so much damage public health (eg no smoking in the workplace, or around children).
  • We have seen a recent discussion in the UK about legislative action to control excess alcohol consumption, and also in Australia.
  • In other words, we are now trying hard to undo the damage done by common practice in a previous era where scientific evidence was not a criterion for acceptability.

I welcome conducting scientific studies that may show that cannabis is "generally quite harmless", but the difficult part will be showing that it has an overall benefit to society (ie the benefits outweigh the costs), and so it should be legalised.

I think the hardest part of the costs to assess will be whether legalising cannabis will lead to a reduction in harms from alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2014 01:29:27 by evan_au »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2014 08:01:38 »

Unlike alcohol, the active ingredients of Marijuana are not a single volatile chemical, so testing for dangerous intoxication will be more expensive, time-consuming and intrusive, whether by the roadside or in the workplace.
Hence my suggestion that "DUA" should be replaced by "attempted manslaughter" regardless of the state or cause of intoxication.

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I am not sure that "other intoxicants" are a good basis for deciding what is good for us.
We know exactly what is good for us: fish and chips, water, and nothing else. Any stimulant, depressant, or other psychoactive substance is potentially harmful. But so is skydiving and shark fishing. The legislative question surely is whether we harm or inconvenience others by our actions.

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The medical impacts of tobacco, who knew what, was it ethical for them to suppress & confound the scientific evidence, and did they have a responsibility to tell the public. There are now slow and laborious efforts underway to restrict it to places where it won't cause so much damage public health (eg no smoking in the workplace, or around children).
Now we are getting sensible about it.

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We have seen a recent discussion in the UK about legislative action to control excess alcohol consumption, and also in Australia.
But only among the poor. Minimum unit pricing won't stop me (or any member of parliament) getting dangerously drunk on good wine and fine malt whisky, for which I am already paying well over the minimum, but it will encourage smuggling, homebrewing and theft of cheap stuff. Total prohibition took the Mafia from being minor racketeers to being the fastest-growing business in the USA. They still control large areas of the food and drink industry, and for as long as drugs remain illegal, criminals will continue to run the country.
 
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In other words, we are now trying hard to undo the damage done by common practice in a previous era where scientific evidence was not a criterion for acceptability.
Who we? The dangers of smoking have been well publicised since the 1950's and are repeated on every packet of tobacco, but smokers surely have as much right to harm themselves as skiers and racing drivers, and some continue to exercise that right.

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I welcome conducting scientific studies that may show that cannabis is "generally quite harmless", but the difficult part will be showing that it has an overall benefit to society (ie the benefits outweigh the costs), and so it should be legalised.
What is the societal benefit of rock climbing or ocean racing? Both impose an occasional burden on rescue services and frequently kill or injure the participants, but nobody has thought to ban them.

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I think the hardest part of the costs to assess will be whether legalising cannabis will lead to a reduction in harms from alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
One thing at a time, please.

The principal effect of decriminalising any drug will be to save police time and reduce the flow of money into criminal pockets. The secondary effects will be to increase the purity and consistency (and thus reduce the unintended toxicity and burden on  health services) of stuff sold under licence, to increase Treasury revenues from licensing, and to reduce the attractiveness of a prohibited activity (instead of being what teenage rebels do behind the bike sheds, it will be what sick old people do to relieve the pain of cancer - what could be more offputting than that?)

Whether it has any effect on the consumption of other legal substances is of no consequence to anyone except HM Treasury and the industries that supply those drugs. Let the market decide.   

This week's good news is the decision of the Welsh Assembly to make the public health laboratory service available to all drug users: you can send them a sample of your latest purchase and they will tell you what it contains. Then it's up to you. Presumably if it turns out to be 50% rat poison you will kick the bejasus out of your supplier and thus solve the problem for others. What a sensible, adult way to run a country - or at least a sensible beginning. 
« Last Edit: 01/02/2014 08:10:40 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Caleb

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #5 on: 01/02/2014 08:18:46 »
Seems to me that a fair amount of people throughout history have turned to "mind altering" drugs, e.g., alcohol and other intoxicants.

While alcohol plows through the body (if used heavily on a regular basis) and destroys livers, brains, etc., it does not seem that marijuana does this nearly as much. Indeed, the toxic dose of marijuana seems totally unapproachable (unless one is shot to death by police, drug dealers, a huge amount of pot falling on one, etc.).

I sure think that legalization of marijuana would save a lot of people from the ravages of the other intoxicants they may well otherwise turn to.

And as compared to cigarettes, for instance, pot is trivial in its harmfulness. (My mother died of ARDS [Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome], related to smoking cigarettes.) As compared to alcohol, pot has far fewer downsides, as much as I can see.

There is the old phrase, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good!" (People attribute that to Voltaire.)

A lot of people are going to be using intoxicants -- we should let those be as harmless as we can.

Yours,

Caleb
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #6 on: 02/02/2014 06:33:02 »
Quote
skydiving and shark fishing...rock climbing or ocean racing
It is recognised that exercise is good for you - and some types exercise have a greater net benefit for your body and the society than others.

In the USA, there is an increasing recognition of brain damage from their flavour of football/gridiron, which will probably result in changes to improve safety.

In Australia, civil aviation authorities try to supervise skydiving aircraft; workplace safety investigates and fines organisations running unsafe practices and the police & coroner investigate accidental deaths and suggest improvements (which sometimes get turned into legislation).

Mandatory provision of lifejackets has helped recreational fishermen, and the increasing availability of satellite-based rescue alarms on ocean-going ships has decreased the costs of marine rescues. Perhaps more important, Australian rescue services have started charging captains (or their insurance companies) for the cost of rescues. The insurance companies effectively apply an economic sensibility limitation on certain excessive behaviours.

The goal is to maximise benefits, and minimise harms.
Be suspicious if you have to sign your life away before engaging in a sport!

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Minimum unit pricing
The proposal in the UK was aimed at minimising the long-term impact of chronic overconsumption of alcohol. It will have minimal impact on the vast majority of drinkers, since they already pay more than the minimum price.

In contrast, the discussion in NSW, Australia is about minimising the impact of short-term overconsumption of alcohol on community safety and violence. It will have minimal impacts on a majority of drinkers, since it affects a small number of premises, and only by a few hours.

A trial in Newcastle showed that limiting hours of certain premises led to a reduction of violent incidents in the area.
Newspaper report: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/lockouts-a-lesson-in-safer-streets/story-fni0cx12-1226660954416
University report: http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/agdbasev7wr/bocsar/documents/pdf/cjb137.pdf

Back to Marijuana
The issues of legalising marijuana will be different, as the neurological effects are different - for example, I expect that the short-term soporific effects of marijuana will lead to fewer immediate violent incidents, but that the longer-term psychological impacts may increase long-term harms.

Perhaps one way of assessing the risks is to look at scientific studies of the impacts of marijuana legalisation in Holland.

But in the end, a rational society must maximise benefits and minimise short-term and long-term harms.
So a responsible government in framing changes to legislation must assess the size of any new benefits, or any new harms, and try to achieve the greatest net benefit.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2014 06:39:42 by evan_au »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #7 on: 02/02/2014 09:02:18 »
Personally I could care less if a person tokes on a bit of weed in the privacy of their own home.  And what they grow in their greenhouse is their business.  Nor do I really care if they had used it over the weekend, and then return to work intoxicant-free the next week.

However, I certainly don't want to be around someone operating heavy equipment while intoxicated, and we don't need more intoxicated drivers on the road.

Several US states now have legalized "medical marijuana".  However, the definition of "medical" seems somewhat lax. 

Colorado and Washington have recently legalized Marijuana.  Rather than legalizing "plantations", I would have retained restrictions on commerce, but allowed people to grow their own weed for personal use.  But, the government does spend too much effort prosecuting individuals for trivial issues.

Anyway, we'll see what happens with the states where it is now legal, and how it affects school kids and college kids.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #8 on: 02/02/2014 13:01:34 »
The CBC ran this segment a few weeks ago, about a small Canadian child whose epilepsy is dramatically helped by a medical marijuana extract called cannibidiol that is only available in Colorado. Ironically, the strain is engineered to be exceptionally low in THC. Giving medical marijuana to children is controversial but if the seizures are so frequent and so brain damaging, then the risk is in comparison, much less. In this case, the little girl's seizures stopped, and in the radio segment, they said no other patient with her diagnosis had gone as long without a seizure, so there aren't really control groups to compare her progress to.

They said legalization might loosen the laws on research, which otherwise is involves a great deal of red tape.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/medical-marijuana-sought-for-children-with-seizures-1.2432653
« Last Edit: 02/02/2014 13:07:57 by cheryl j »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #9 on: 03/02/2014 01:53:21 »
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The goal is to maximise benefits, and minimise harms.
All the examples you quoted were actually concerned with minimising third party harm. Licensing of aircraft, mandatory lifejackets, etc, all protect the customer from an incompetent commercial provider, but there's no law against chucking yourself out of a plane with a defective chute or fishing in shark-infested waters with a bent pin if you really want to, as long as you don't offer the experience to others. That's exactly how I'd like to see the regulation of intoxicants: unlimited clean stuff over the counter under state licence, from a qualified pharmacist; death by selfadministered overdose for supplying black-market rubbish.   

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Perhaps more important, Australian rescue services have started charging captains (or their insurance companies) for the cost of rescues.
I'd apply the same principle to intoxicants: no free medical treatment.

Limitation of licensing hours is an interesting problem. The "six o'clock swill"  was abandoned Down Under because it led to a sudden outpouring of grossly inebriated human detritus just as darkness fell - it's much easier for police and ambulance services to cope with a steady stream, and one drunk at a time is unlikely to fight with himself. However the adoption of European licensing practice in the UK has if anything worsened the situation.

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they said no other patient with her diagnosis had gone as long without a seizure, so there aren't really control groups to compare her progress to.
Quite the reverse, surely? If the diagnosis and presentation were unequivocal, the historic peer group is the perfect control. 
   
« Last Edit: 03/02/2014 01:55:45 by alancalverd »
 

Offline tkadm30

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
« Reply #10 on: 13/12/2015 13:53:22 »
Legalization of Marijuana-derived medicine will probably leads to stronger research and development of marijuana-related treatments as safer and inexpensive alternatives to synthetic chemicals. Thus I'm fully supporting legalization of marijuana since it can potentially helps to educate and inform the masses about the medical properties of cannabis as opposed to the propaganda and disinformation generated by prohibition.   
 

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Re: Would legalization of Marijuana increase general health?
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