Monday, January 01, 2007

Marijuana: the facts

The first thing that caught by attention when I heard about Schapelle Corby was the absurdity of a possible death sentence for a soft drug like marijuana. When I started campaigning for her I noted two surprising difficulties in attracting support for Schapelle:

1. Many Australians were unfussed by draconian penalties for anything. I’ll talk more about this in a subsequent post.
2. Many Australians saw no significant difference between marijuana and heroin.

I was astonished at the latter point. I had thought that marijuana was something that most students had tried at some stage in their youth – a rite of passage if you like – and was widely regarded as a safe way for teenagers to demonstrate some mild rebellion. Whereas heroin was regarded as a soul-stealing killer. It seems I was very wrong about people’s perceptions.

As the Schapelle support juggernaut swept along, there was a clear attempt by some political and media leaders to portray marijuana as a highly dangerous drug. We were told that the modern MJ is far more dangerous than the product we might remember from our youth. And that it was highly likely to lead to mental problems. And that it was a first step on the way to heroin addiction. That last one particularly surprised me since I know of many people who have tried MJ but nobody who has tried heroin.

I also read a number of justifications by Indonesian politicians and officials that proclaimed the need for severe sentences because drugs kill. Yet no recognition was made that marijuana doesn’t kill and Indonesia continues to include marijuana as a category one narcotic with a potential death penalty for trafficking.

So I started researching on the Internet. In summary, I found a vast body of literature proclaiming the safety of MJ, but some more recent scientific research that indicated the existence of a causal link between heavy use and mental problems.

However, in summary:

1. It does not cause brain damage.
2. It is not a gateway drug.
3. It is less dangerous than tobacco.
4. It is less addictive than coffee, and massively less addictive than alcohol, heroin or nicotine.
5. It is not substantially more potent today than in the past (early comparisons failed to recognise that older samples had lost potency over time).
6. Heavy cannabis smokers are a mere 1.5 times more likely to suffer symptoms of psychosis that non-users.
7. It does not lead to death through overdoses or AIDs.

So there you have it. MJ is a non-addictive drug that carries a small increase in risk for heavy users. So, I’m right back where I started. The draconian penalties of countries like Indonesia cannot be justified by any adverse affect caused by the drug. And innocent or guilty there is no excuse for Schapelle to still be in that cage.


Blogger Michelle said...

Great post True! It definitely does not make sense to be locked up for 20 years for marijuana...even if she was guilty. Its amazing how much hype surrounds marijuana use. I know here in Canada, its relatively laid back, not too many people make a fuss about it. It seems to be the older generation who cling to the ideas of it that you mentioned in your post. Having said that there are still those who believe its the same as any other drug.
I have worked in bars while I was going to Uni and I would always tell people I would much rather deal with someone who had just smoked pot over someone who drank 12 beer any day!!

All a matter of perspective though and too often it gets blown out of proportion by those who do not have the facts.

11:16 am, January 03, 2007  
Blogger DJ Wolf said...

Of course, related to this is the myth that Australian marijuana, hydroponically grown, is more potent than the marijuana grown in Aceh. This is not true. The reason why Australian marijuana was of such poor quality for so many years is because for the development of THC, the cannabinoids responsible for the intoxication, the plants cannot be struggling to survive in an alien environment. The plants grown in Aceh have adapted over millenia and the THC content has always been high. The comparisons that were done between recently harvested hydroponic marijuana and marijuana of 20-30 years ago was not the imported marijuana but with 'home-grown' marijuana where survival of the tropically apapted seed was a miricle nevermind its THC content. It made excellent rope.

10:26 pm, February 18, 2007  
Blogger True Blue said...

Good comments, both of you. It scares me that it seems so easy to demonise anybody or anything with a few well placed media comments.

2:05 pm, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirty Kangaroo is guilty

All aussies are called, Dirty Kangaroos because they are very dirty people. Aussie prostitutes are called, Boomerang prostitutes.

I firmly believe that schapelle corby is guilty and she has committed this offence. What I dont understand is that so many Dirty Kangaroos believe that she is innocent and none has provided any evidence so far. So if you really believe that this Dirty Kangaroo, schapelle corby is innocent, then where is the evidence ?

Indonesian judicial system is a very superior to that of Kangaroo judicial system in nazi australia. In Nazi Australia, the boomerang prostitutes (aussie prostitutes) can offer themselves as bribe to the police/judges and they can get away with prosecution, or can get a lighter sentence. But in wonderful indonesia, it is impossible. Indonesia is a civilized country and Nazi Australia is a country of fascists, criminals, evil people and boomerang prostitutes.

Indonesian revolutionary

7:10 am, November 21, 2007  
Blogger True Blue said...

Indonesian revolutionary:

1. Your post has nothing to do with the topic.

2. I don’t believe you’re Indonesian. I’ve met plenty of Indonesians and invariably found them to be pleasant, civil and intelligent. I have disagreed with some on the topic of Schapelle Corby but I’ve never heard any of them use derogatory expressions towards Australians or any other nationalities.
3. You’re suggestion that Schapelle must be guilty because there’s no evidence of innocence shows a lack of commonsense and a lack of understanding of the law. Proving innocence is always difficult and impossible when the police ignore or contaminate evidence as happened in the Schapelle case.

11:56 am, November 21, 2007  
Blogger Jacqui said...

Indonesian revolutionary: your moronic statements are barely worth replying to, but here I go...
If you really are from Indonesia, you would know more than anyone how corrupt the system is.
Schapelle's case should have been thrown out of court because the Bali Police handled the evidence without gloves (unacceptable even by Indonesian standards!), refused to test the drugs, refused to weigh the luggage, refused to show the CCTV footage from Denpasar airport.
I don't know if you are confusing the word "superior" with "corrupt" when describing the Indonesian judicial system.
If the Bali Police had done their job properly, Schapelle could have proven her innocence.
If you examine the behaviour of the Bali Police, they acted as though they had something to hide (perhaps they planted the drugs on Schapelle?)
Schapelle and her family pleaded for investigation and evidence! Why would they do that if she were guilty???

9:04 pm, January 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just a girl from indiana who believes schapelle is innocent and should be freed. i will keep her in my prayers.

11:35 am, January 08, 2008  
Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Hey am I too late?

I think one of the main reasons we fear drug dealing is the fact that the governement gets nothing out of it. The black market is simply huge, and there's a lot of money out there that various govts wont be able to get taxes from. As well as general ignorance. Don't they realise that they could destroy the drug market with a pen, by decriminalising it.

I have to disagree with DJ wolf though. I've been to Aceh and the weed is not strong at all, not like Aussie hydro.

4:38 pm, January 24, 2008  

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