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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 10th March 2012

A number of brief items pointing to quite a bit of interesting reading on a variety of topics, some related to previous blog entries but one or two new subjects.

INCB conspicuous by its absence

A joint statement from twelve United Nations bodies on compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres  has some interesting things to say about the threats to health posed by such centres as well as the human rights abuses resulting from what amounts to imprisonment without trial in many cases. But, the most interesting thing is what it doesn’t say. Missing from the list of bodies supporting the call for such centres to be closed is our old friend the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB). It is a matter of speculation as to whether the INCB was approached but refused to lend its name to this statement or whether the INCB is the ‘Billy no mates’ of the UN and wasn’t even asked because the other bodies know how irrelevant it is.

Drug policy to be on the agenda for Summit of the Americas.

The USA has said it is willing to discuss drug legalisation at the forthcoming regional summit according to Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer quoted in 'Columbia Reports'. Hammer is reported to have said "We are ready to discuss the issue to express our opinion on why it is not the way to address the problem", which doesn’t give a lot of hope of any progress being made. The cynical will assume that Mr Biden and Ms Napolitano have done their work well enough to ensure that the USA will not be the only voice in favour of the status quo at the meeting though some leaders may be too busy admiring their new aid budgets to play much part in the debate.

Scottish Tories drop opposition to minimum pricing for alcohol.

With the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, starting to talk about the need for minimum pricing of alcohol, though there are reports that not all his cabinet colleagues agree with him (free registration required), it is not surprising that the Scottish Tories have announced that they will support the SNP government’s move to introduce minimum pricing in Scotland.

Opponents of minimum pricing still trot out the line about affecting moderate drinkers, presupposing that all alcohol will increase in price if a minimum price is set, and complain that a minimum price gifts additional profits to retailers ignoring two possibilities. First, if the policy works, less alcohol will be sold so retailers profits on alcohol will not benefit to the full extent. And second, retail is a competitive business and any increased profit on alcohol is likely to go into a war chest for increasing competitiveness on other products.

The issue of squaring a mandated minimum price with EU competition law remains to be resolved but it must be hoped that attitudes to alcohol are being changed, slowly, slowly, by all the talk of the need to do something.

More reaction to the INCB’s criticism of Bolivia

This report from the Andean Information Network not only refutes the INCB’s criticism of Bolivia but says that coca leaf should be re-scheduled in the light of modern scientific evidence.

LSD may be useful in treating alcoholism

‘Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcoholism: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials’ by Krebs and Johansen finds that LSD, even just one dose, is associated with a decrease in alcohol misuse when forming part of a treatment programme. The paper has, again, raised the issue of how to explore and exploit the therapeutic properties of substances covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Baker Institute keynote address online

The Thursday evening keynote address from the conference ‘The War on Drugs Has Failed. Is Legalization the Answer?’ is now available online