Obama Vs The Right – The Neverending Shit Show

To think that this was penned back in 2013 . . .

A Raindrop In The Ocean

Where is the line between disagreement and treason?

Many on the right, insist that Obama is terrible. And they throw the term treason around, in regards to him and his actions. Not at all surprising, as any word that fits, is usable in the bubble (no matter how irrelevant, or wrong, it may be).

But the fact is, if the roles of the current were reversed, and it was Obama’s democrats and the left that was in the place of the current right, there would be hell to pay. If it was Obama’s party that was crying fowel and keeping (and sacraficing) the nation over a disagreement, people would not stand for it.  They would use the word treasonous, and frankly, it would fit. Because from what I can see, that is exactly what this behaver amounts to.

Yet, somehow the right is the  “patriotic” side.

Don’t get me…

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“Is Marijuana Use Really ‘Soaring’ Among Young People?” – (Leafly)

Having seen this headline essentially carbon copied all over the place recently, I raised an eyebrow. Given the constraints on my time, however, I never bothered to look into the details of the findings. After all, if I took time out of my schedule to look into every single release of survey data that could be sus (which is all of them, since the media often doesn’t know (or care) to use survey data correctly), I would not get anything done. This isn’t even considering the uniquely biased mess that traditional media entities tend to make of marijuana research (particularly that with negative results).

As it happens, however, Leafly (Bruce Barcott, Leafly’s Senior editor) has already done the legwork for us. So let’s explore some of his findings.

When does good health news magically turn into a worrisome trend? When cannabis is involved, of course.

This past week we were treated to a master class in trend creation and data twisting by NIDA Director Nora Volkow.

NIDA is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the federal agency that retains a stranglehold on all cannabis research in the US.

On Aug. 21, Volkow’s agency issued a press release claiming that marijuana and hallucinogen use among young adults reached an all-time high last year.

The following day’s New York Times gave NIDA’s claim a courtesy shine. Times health reporter Andrew Jacobs basically rewrote the press release and the copy desk topped it with this header: “Use of Marijuana and Psychedelics Is Soaring Among Young Adults, Study Finds.”

https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/is-marijuana-use-really-soaring-among-young-people

I do in fact recall coming across the NYT article. My most vivid recollection was my annoyance with the fact that it was paywalled.

Indeed, such is their choice. However, it kind of puts a damper on the whole public service aspect of reporting on a worrying trend in young people. Concerned, but not so concerned as to put aside one’s capitalistic end goals.

Reminds me of the state of vaping regulations in the past decade when it comes to keeping addictive substances out of the hands of teenagers. But that is another ball of wax altogether.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow told Jacobs she found the results “very concerning.”

“What they tell us is that the problem of substance abuse among young people has gotten worse in this country,” she said, “and that the pandemic, with all its mental stressors and turmoil, has likely contributed to the rise.”

The NIDA press release included this alarming visual:

The cannabis numbers are not unlike what I would expect given the evolving status of the drug. Slow and steady rise as more states relax the idiocy and more people become comfortable with this new option (or switch away from illicit sources). The hallucinogen spike is interesting, but given the state of the world of late, also not really. With covid vaccination becoming more commonplace and people starting to let loose more (no doubt making up for lost time), I’m unsurprised to see that some are choosing to do so with the aid of hallucination.

I also doubt the trend will hold. As things become more normal (whatever that is to mean these days), that graph is likely to flatten back to its former status.

The whole thing struck me as odd. Other studies have seen a sharp drop in marijuana use among teenagers in 2020 and 2021—most likely due to pandemic stay-at-home orders that limited the opportunities for America’s teens to obtain and use weed. (I’ll leave the hallucinogen data alone for now.)

Intrigued, I took a dive into the data behind NIDA’s claim. And found—quelle surprise—a giant turd at the bottom of the pond.

I love the honesty.

Not new, not soaring, not buying it

Last week’s NIDA claim and Times headline didn’t come from a new study, it turns out. They came from the latest Monitoring the Future report, which was published last December. Monitoring the Future is a national survey of drug use that the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research has conducted annually since 1975. NIDA and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) help fund the study.

Eight months ago, when that study was actually new, NIDA issued a press release heralding the survey’s finding that teen drug use, including teen marijuana use, dropped significantly in 2021. “We have never seen such dramatic decreases in drug use among teens in just a one-year period,” Nora Volkow said at the time.

The good news about teen marijuana use isn’t limited to the pandemic era. Over the past few years, as legalization has spread to 19 states, studies have failed to find a related rise in teen use. At an anti-drug conference in January, Volkow herself said she’s been surprised to see years of data that show “the prevalence rates of marijuana use among teenagers have been stable despite the legalization in many states.”

Recycling old data points to push an entirely new narrative? That is certainly a new tact. But we will get to that later.

As for the previous findings about legalization failing to cause a rise in teenage marijuana use, to that I have to say . . . duh. I’ve been saying since my days of advocating for marijuana legalization post high school in 2007 that legalization was a great way to keep the drug from minors. Because:

1.) purchasing regulations serve the same purpose when it comes to alcohol and tobacco. While it won’t stop unscrupulous (or irresponsible) vendors or adult purchasers, it works well enough.

2.) Not only do black market drug traffickers not generally care who they sell to (minor or otherwise), they also can carry a much more vast array of substances than the fairly tame cannabis or psilocybin. I recall overhearing phone calls to dealers back in the day (2006-ish) and hearing substances like cocaine or meth offered in lieu of weed since the town was dry at the time. I also recall the city’s police force publicly bragging about a big pot bust in the local media.

Brilliant. Now teens and everyone in between are calling for green and instead being offered snow or ice instead. Great work!

It has always baffled me why the legalization does not equate to more teenage drug use argument doth not compute to adults. But I suppose, it shouldn’t surprise me. If they had any exposure to drug culture at all, it was likely multiple decades previous.

So what changed between then and now? Nothing—except, perhaps, NIDA’s need to keep the nation alarmed about cannabis legalization as election season approaches.

How do you do that when the data undermines your talking point? You rearrange the data.

Here’s how they did it: The data fudge

Pay attention to NIDA’s definition of “young adults.”

When you see “young adults” in the Times headline you probably imagine people in their late teens, early twenties, right? High school and college years.

Not so.

The “soaring” use of marijuana was pulled from a data set that NIDA stretched to include all survey respondents from age 19 to age 30. Which is a ridiculously wide age range to smoosh together. At 19, you’re an idiot draining kegs and skinny-dipping in Frosh Pond. (If you’re me.) At 30, you’re married with a job, a mortgage, and a baby on the way. (Me again.)

And let’s not neglect the obvious: In legal states, 19- and 20-year-olds can’t legally buy or possess marijuana. Adults age 21 to 30 are legal.

I’m glad that this was made clear since even I misinterpreted the data even after reading the 19-30 year age range in the previous chart. Probably because raising concern over rising use in young adults almost inherently makes one think of minors. As opposed to grown adults making a consensual choice in what they consume. Not unlike 30-year-old drinking alcohol.

What the data actually show

If you go into the Monitoring the Future data and separate the 18-to-20 year-olds from the 21-to-30 year-olds, you’ll find a remarkable story. (I’m including 18-year-olds because the data is there. I don’t know why NIDA chose not to use it.)

Over the past decade, as adult-use legalization has taken hold for nearly half the American population, the University of Michigan researchers found the percentage of 18-to-20 year-olds who tried marijuana at least once in the past year has remained almost unchanged: 35.4% in 2011, and 35.0% in 2021.

Meanwhile, the percentage of 21-to-30 year-olds (adults of legal age) trying marijuana increased from 28% to 43%.

Here’s what that looks like, using data from the same Monitoring the Future report:

By lumping the underage cohort with the legal-age cohort, NIDA dragged the average up and made it look like there was an alarming increase in “young adults” using marijuana.

This, folks, is why I’ve learned to ignore A Newly Released Study Concluded . . . headlines. Because choosing the desired outcome can often be as easy as playing with the data. So that, as in this case, you can transition data that is seemingly antithetical to your agenda into fitting its narrative nicely.

Considering that the data source is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the action is very disappointing given their stated purpose as touted on their website.

NIDA logo

Our mission is to advance science on drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health.

https://nida.nih.gov/about-nida

But I am not surprised either. As frustrating as it is to deal with, the phrase You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks really seems applicable to many people as far as this topic (really, ANY topic!) is concerned, expert or not. Certainly, this is the case for ordinary people without related education or career experience, but the problem becomes much more pertinent when one has spent likely decades in an area of research and thus likely has a huge amount of effort locked into a given conclusion.

Frankly, I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before.

Here I was, wondering how people like Kevin Sabet could go around spreading BS on a topic that they seem woefully out of touch on. Maybe it’s because they have no interest in updating their point of view. A point of view that has been shaped by decades of reinforcement in the academic and/or government sectors.

Indeed, this is a strawman argument on my part. However, the easiest way to prove this otherwise would be for such people to actually properly interact with the areas of study in which they claim to be their focus.

After all, since a government-funded organization is tasked with the well-being and overall health of drug users, what other conclusion (aside from them being irreversibly biased) can one make about the organization’s leadership when they are caught manipulating data to fit a given agenda?

The only way to defeat this problem is to push out these old dogs and replace them with inquiry-focused thinkers and leaders. A conclusion that makes the end goal of legalization a much taller order than it used to be.

Nonetheless, the current wasteful status quo will continue to waste, maim and kill for as long as the dinosaurs are allowed to keep us entrenched in the era of Nixon.

Free Speech Vs. Violence – The Salman Rushdie Conundrum

I admit that my take on this topic is being delivered rather late to the actual event. However, having come across an article tweeted by Richard Dawkins on the subject, it seemed an opportune time to revisit a topic that I once felt fairly conclusively about. Having said that, this was also a time when many seemingly thorny issues could be boiled down to black-and-white conclusions that were just common sense.

As I would come to learn, however, even the wisest publicly adored intellectuals (the publicly adored aspect is key, really) can be wrong. They may be misinformed or (as often seems the case), drawing a conclusion without considering all other external variables. Then there is the factor of speaking conclusively on a topic that is outside of ones academic scope (many are guilty of this).
Either way, my time in the nu-Atheist movement seen me absorbing and regurgitating arguments from authority without analysis (because what analysis can I give? I don’t have a Ph.D.). And my time post-mainstream atheist (along with my introduction to the concept of philosophy) had me begin to recognize the problems with how I sourced my information.

This transition in myself is a bit hard to describe. After all, what I call embracing philosophy is less concerned with the academic discipline than it was changing my internal frame of mind. While I have pursued the discipline at length (through podcasts and such), I have no real interest in embracing the field much more. Mainly because what I call philosophy is less concerned with the people and more concerned with how their work changed how they view the world around them.
Potentially because I don’t understand what the term philosophy entails. The domineering search engine of our time says the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline, but i’m inclined to go beyond that. In a sense, it could be said that philosophy IS the accumulation of all past, present and future human knowledge. Many in any field within or adjacent to the sciences will potentially take issue with this assertion. A rebuke that I hardly take seriously given that the rift between science and the philosophy of science is a fairly recent phenomenon in the grand scheme of things.

I suspect that this paragraph of empty ramblings will be slightly triggering to those antithetical to the disciplines of philosophy. Dare I say, proof of the navel-gazing nature of the discipline.

I refer you folk to the field that is Astrophysics.

Astrophysics is a branch of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to seek to understand the universe and our place in it. The field explores topics such as the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe.

htmlhttps://www.space.com/26218-astrophysics.html

If there is one thing I know about the anti-philo crowd, it’s that they love themselves some star gazing.

Either way, it’s been a long time since I last brushed with this topic. Having come across an article titled We Ignored Salman Rushdie’s Warning in a publication called Common Sense, this seems a good time for a re-visit. The author of the article is Bari Weiss (because, OF COURSE it is).

Let’s begin.

We live in a culture in which many of the most celebrated people occupying the highest perches believe that words are violence. In this, they have much in common with Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued the first fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, and with Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old who, yesterday, appears to have fulfilled his command when he stabbed the author in the neck on a stage in Western New York. 

The first group believes they are motivated by inclusion and tolerance—that it’s possible to create something even better than liberalism, a utopian society where no one is ever offended. The second we all recognize as religious fanatics. But it is the indulgence and cowardice of the words are violence crowd that has empowered the second and allowed us to reach this moment, when a fanatic rushes the stage of a literary conference with a knife and plunges it into one of the bravest writers alive.

https://www.commonsense.news/p/we-ignored-salman-rushdies-warning?triedSigningIn=true

Right off the bat, it’s hard to ignore the strawman. I have yet to see 1 single person who equates words ALONE as violence. While I won’t go as far as saying that no one would say that, the vast majority are more concerned with the consequences of words.

And no, not in a victim-blaming sense. No one ought to be stabbed for their depictions of what arguably amounts to be a character of fiction.

However, I suspect that this isn’t the kind of speech that people like Bari are defending.

* * *

Salman Rushdie has lived half of his life with a bounty on his head—some $3.3 million promised by the Islamic Republic of Iran to anyone who murdered him. And yet, it was in 2015, years after he had come out of hiding, that he told the French newspaper L’Express: “We are living in the darkest time I have ever known.” 

* * *

By 2015, America was a very different place.

When Rushdie made those comments to L’Express it was in the fallout of PEN, the country’s premiere literary group, deciding to honor the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo with an award. Months before, a dozen staff members of Charlie Hebdo were murdered by two terrorists in their offices. It was impossible to think of a publication that deserved to be recognized and elevated more.

And yet the response from more than 200 of the world’s most celebrated authors was to protest the award. Famous writers—Joyce Carol Oates, Lorrie Moore, Michael Cunningham, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Teju Cole, Peter Carey, Junot Díaz—suggested that maybe the people who had just seen their friends murdered for publishing a satirical magazine were a little bit at fault, too. That if something offends a minority group, that perhaps it shouldn’t be printed. And those cartoonists were certainly offensive, even the dead ones. These writers accused PEN of “valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

https://www.commonsense.news/p/we-ignored-salman-rushdies-warning?triedSigningIn=true

Uh.

Looking back to the boycott, the goal was less anti-anti-Islam sentiments than it was questioning the nature of the content (as it comes across in the context of french culture).

In their letter the writers protest against the award from PEN America, the prominent literary organization of which most of the signatories are members, accusing the French satirical magazine of mocking a “section of the French population that is already marginalized, embattled, and victimized”.

Twenty-six writers, including Pulitzer and National Book Award winners, joined six others – Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi – who had previously withdrawn from the PEN gala celebrating the award. The letter condemns the murder of 12 Hebdo staffers by Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, two extremists enraged by the magazine’s cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

But the writers also criticize the decision to give an award to Charlie Hebdo.

“There is a critical difference between staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding such expression,” the letter reads.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/29/writers-join-protest-charlie-hebdo-pen-award

I remember the overall atmosphere of the time period. At the time, most people (dare I say, me included) were far more concerned with the dangers of radical Islam than they were of much else. Certainly, far more emphasis was put on the dangers of Islamisation than on homegrown fascism. Though Christopher Hedges did sound the alarm on the dangers of Christian nationalism early, I don’t recall this sentiment escaping the confines of the progressive new sphere until the Trump era.

This brings us to today. To Bari Weiss once again viewing history through a straw-man lens.

The protest was not about curbing Islamic criticism. It was more concerned with not glamorizing what, in french cultural terms, equated to punching down. Whilst some may see this as the erosion of western values, I see it as the values of freedom of speech and expression working just as they should.

From how I understand it, no one said that the PEN organization should not award Charlie Hebdo. They just decided not to attend as their expression of dissatisfaction with the choice.

Here’s how Rushdie responded: “This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organized, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.”

He was right. They were wrong. And their civic cowardice, as Sontag may have described it, is in no small part, responsible for the climate we find ourselves in today. (As I wrote this, I got a news alert from The New York Times saying the attacker’s “motive was unclear.” Motive was unclear?)

https://www.commonsense.news/p/we-ignored-salman-rushdies-warning?triedSigningIn=true

I can’t wait to see where this goes . . .

The words are violence crowd is right about the power of language. Words can be vile, disgusting, offensive, and dehumanizing. They can make the speaker worthy of scorn, protest, and blistering criticism. But the difference between civilization and barbarism is that civilization responds to words with words. Not knives or guns or fire. That is the bright line. There can be no excuse for blurring that line—whether out of religious fanaticism or ideological orthodoxy of any other kind.

Today our culture is dominated by those who blur that line—those who lend credence to the idea that words, art, song lyrics, children’s books, and op-eds are the same as violence. We are so used to this worldview and what it requires—apologize, grovel, erase, grovel some more—that we no longer notice. It is why we can count, on one hand—Dave Chappelle; J.K. Rowling—those who show spine.

https://www.commonsense.news/p/we-ignored-salman-rushdies-warning?triedSigningIn=true

To this, I have to say . . . what in the FUCK are you talking about?!

We live in a world where actions have consequences. Though punching down from the safety of the mainstream media was once considered acceptable (as most marginalized groups without fanatical fringes never had the platform to defend themselves), this is less the case today. Because for better or for worse, almost everyone now has a platform. Not to mention that the ease of information access of modern technology leaves little excuse for the dispersal of outdated or demonstrably false information.

This brings us to the real agenda of this, the free speech hysteria crowd. They use the term copiously, but they are not interested in free speech. What they want is the good ole days, the era of speech without consequence. A time when spouting wrongful or bigoted (often both) nonsense came with little reprocussions.

Just as it comes as no coincidence that Weiss chose J.K. Rowling and Dave Chappelle as her people with spine, it is also no coincidence that this is all happening as generational and racial power dynamics are starting to shift in the US and elsewhere. After all, when accustomed to privilege, equality can look very much like oppression.

Of course it is 2022 that the Islamists finally get a knife into Salman Rushdie. Of course it is now, when words are literally violence and J.K. Rowling literally puts trans lives in danger and even talking about anything that might offend anyone means you are literally arguing I shouldn’t exist. Of course it’s now, when we’re surrounded by silliness and weakness and self-obsession, that a man gets on stage and plunges a knife into Rushdie, plunges it into his liver, plunges it into his arm, plunges it into his eye. That is violence.

https://www.commonsense.news/p/we-ignored-salman-rushdies-warning?triedSigningIn=true

Well, I don’t have much else to say.

If you want to know what Free speech is code for, it’s right here plain as day. The freedom to punch down without consequence. If that is the stance that Salman Rushdie chooses to take, then that is unfortunate. Though hardly the only case of prominence not equate to wisdom.

Either way, may he have a speedy recovery.

Dr. Oz Is Back In the News Again

It’s been years since I last wrote about the shenanigans of Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s favourite celebrity marketer (and sometimes MD). Though I thought my comma-riddled rantings about Oz’s Quackery (and for that matter of The Doctors, his then prime-time television MD counterparts) from the mid-2010s would be the last time I would ever mention the man, it turns out that I was wrong.

Though my headline isn’t exactly accurate (Dr. Oz has been making news off and on all through the pandemic, and arguably since my last post mentioning his existence), Dr. Oz – America’s Favorite Celebrity Dr. And Tax Cheat isn’t technically true. Though there is certainly subjectivity to be found in analyzing the tax breaks made available to primarily land owners, such behaviour is hardly cheating in the legal sense. It’s no shell company-owned nest egg in a tax haven like the Bahamas or Canada.

This brings us to today’s article of interest. Resigned from his old cushy position of prime-time television marketer of all things faux-medicinal, Dr. Oz now has political ambitions. His campaign was based around his in-law’s property in Pennsylvania, of all places.

The article was written by Julia Conley and published by Common Dreams.

Fetterman Demands Dr. Oz Answer for $50,000 Tax Break Intended for Pa. Farmers

“Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn’t want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat.”

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday slammed his GOP opponent in the state’s U.S. Senate election, Mehmet Oz, for taking advantage of a tax break under a program originally intended to help struggling farmers, saying the tax relief underscores how the celebrity doctor seeks to benefit from Pennsylvania instead of serving the state.

Oz, who has been known for years as TV personality Dr. Oz, purchased a farmstead in Montgomery County late last year, weeks after he announced he was running for Senate. Oz has homes in Florida and New Jersey and has been staying at a Pennsylvania house owned by his in-laws since 2020, when Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced his plan to retire.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday, the $3.1 million Montgomery County property is eligible for a tax relief and conservation program called Act 319, which gives landowners a more favorable tax assessment in return for protecting land from development.

Oz’s home, where he still doesn’t live, has been held back from development as a “forest reserve,” with Oz and his wife agreeing to preserve tree cover that exists on the property.

In exchange, the state has assessed the value of the property at less than $450,000, subjecting Oz to an annual tax bill of just $21,473 instead of $72,000.

While the tax break is meant to incentivize homeowners to refrain from developing forested land, according to the Inquirer, Oz agreed when he bought the home to “not construct any improvement of structures” on the property.

He applied for the Act 319 tax break months later.

“The intent here was to induce [Oz] to not develop the land,” tax attorney Richard Booker told the Inquirer. “But he’d already agreed to that.”

On Twitter, Fetterman posted an image of a check made out to “Farmer Oz.”

Oz’s use of Act 319 is completely legal—but with tax break affecting a local school district’s budget, Fetterman said the doctor’s actions demonstrate that “Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn’t want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat.”

As far as republican cronyism goes, this is small potatoes. Compared to the past (and probably present!) financial shenanigans of the Trump organization, focusing on Oz’s $50,527 tax break seems petty, particularly with the environmental consideration considered.

But, as Fetterman remarks, it’s hardly about the ecological stewardship for Oz, is it?

Considering that he agreed not to develop the property, this amounts to a little more than a nice incentive for not selling his little forest retreat. Which had the added benefit of putting a senate seat within his reach when the time turned out to be right.

Taking a step to the side for a moment, we have all been in this Bizzaro world for so long now that the thought of Dr.Oz running for senate hardly elicits any response from most of us. Until the occasional moment when you have a brief realization and place yourself in the past, maybe 7 years ago.
Back in 2014, Dr. Oz had to sit in front of congress and admit that a lot of what he was selling on his primetime show amounted to little more than medicinal woo. Now, he’s running for a seat in the US Senate.
Even Donald Trump has never had to confess his sins in front of congress and the nation before his 2015 rise to infamy (though he did use his celebrity influence in 1991 to try and convince congress to enact more business-friendly tax reform). Trump claimed the taxation paradigm of the time to be very detrimental to the real estate market (and by extension, to his businesses).

What an era. I was 3 and completely politically unaware. And Donald Trump had not yet demonstrated the unbelievable ability (or I suppose, lack thereof) to go bankrupt whilst running a gambling empire.

Anyway, back to present-day hell.

Fetterman noted that according to the Inquirer, Oz has claimed that ongoing renovations have kept him from moving into the home he purchased—”on two recent afternoons, there were no cars in the driveway or signs of construction activity at the house.”

“Dr. Oz hasn’t even moved into his ‘home’ in Pennsylvania yet, but he’s already found time to claim a tax break on his new mansion in Pennsylvania—a tax break meant for struggling small-time farmers,” said Fetterman. “It also looks like Dr. Oz is no longer even pretending to be renovating and getting ready to move into this house where he supposedly plans to live.”

“Honestly, he’s just acknowledging what we all already know: that as soon as he loses, Dr. Oz is heading back to his mansion in New Jersey,” he added.

While I don’t feel a need to comment on this rather petty commentary (I’m not overly concerned with people owning vacation properties), such is how things are in politics.

It does bring to mind the interesting dynamic that can be brought about by wealthy investors buying property in distressed (primarily rural) locations. Some would consider the cash infusion a good thing due to the economic gains (though often exaggerated, they are usually not non-existent). However, the double-edged sword often shows up in the amount of power these land owners can have over local area town councils and other leadership. For example, if the town/county/parish/municipality decides that the free (or very lenient) taxation ride is over and it’s time for the wealthy land owners to pay up. Often the threat of abandoning the current locale in favour of a locale that is less hostile to business as usual is enough to stop such attempts at fairer governance.

Keep in mind that I am not saying that Dr. Oz is playing the part of a big-name box store digging its claws into a small-town economy. The home he owned may be for political gain, maybe just a vacation home, maybe both. It just brought the phenomenon to mind, so I decided to explore it.

In fact, to jump on the side of the devil’s advocate, John Fetterman may want to be careful what he wishes for. If Dr. Oz does indeed drop the property and high tail it back to the tri-state metroplex, there is no guarantee that the next owner will be as interested in not developing the land as they see fit.

Campaigning as “the pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker, pro-democracy candidate” for Senate, Fetterman has harshly criticized Oz for only recently moving into his in-laws’ home in Pennsylvania and for still owning a home in New Jersey.

He rebuked Oz last week for newly resurfaced comments in which the doctor said, “It’s very hard to discern significant differences in happiness in someone who’s making $50,000 and $50 million,” calling Oz “out of touch from reality.”

“Dr. Oz is a fraud who is just using the people of Pennsylvania, he does not care about us one bit,” said Fetterman on Tuesday.

While I am not going to touch on the last paragraph, the one beforehand is certainly correct. Having watched a few consecutive weeks of his show all the way back in 2009 showed me how far in orbit he was in comparison to the everyday Americans that he was supposed to be helping live a better life. My favourite from this era was an angry episode wherein he came out against a certain brand of mineral water that he seemed to claim had hidden caffeine content. Being unable to sleep for a couple nights, he was surprised to find that the mineral water he enjoyed had added caffeine. While we never learn what the brand is, I think I identified it at the time as Glaceau (being the only mineral water I knew of to be caffeinated at the time. I was, and still am, quite fond of it actually).

Interestingly enough, I recently found myself in a situation wherein I had purchased a product in which the caffeine content did in fact seem to be almost hidden from view. Available all over the US and Canada (and consumed by many popular YouTubers who are targeting the teenager and below youtube demographics), I introduce you to Bai. Though I have only ever come across 3 flavours here in Canada, many are clearly available stateside.

One day, after a long day of work (which preceded another early morning) I decided to try the blueberry-flavoured variant. Having walked past the bottles many times before in retailers (and having seen YouTubers purchasing them as healthy snacks) I figured I would one out. It was only after purchasing the bottle and cracking the lid wherein I spotted the little green band on the back of the bottle.

Interestingly enough, this label is even more ambiguous than the bottle I had at the time (I’m not sure if Health Canada has a different labelling requirement than the FDA, or if the one pictured is an older/newer version than the one I seen).

While it is true that caffeine is indeed listed as an ingredient, the issue I have is that one is not expecting it based on the front face of the bottle. Unlike the bright yellow appearance, Energy name and clearly listed caffeine content on the front of the Glaceau mineral water offering, one look at Bai leaves someone with the impression of an antioxidant drink, and little more.

While I ended up spotting the caffeine listing soon enough to avoid a terrible night of rest, I have to wonder how many people (teenagers?!) don’t. I am also unsure of what benefits (if any) come from the antioxidants. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, though I can’t help but think that these beverages would have been right at home on the Dr. Oz Show.
Then there is the caffeine. This aspect introduces a possible addiction vector by way of the fact that it’s hidden (or at very least, ambiguously labelled). You know what you are getting if you purchase any variety of energy drinks in a can, but not if you think you are buying juice.

With the Bai rant out of the way, back to America’s most decorated sellout . . .

The author of the article raises an interesting question with the mention of John Fetterman as the pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker, pro-democracy candidate. It makes me wonder what Dr. Oz’s stance on abortion is.

While seemingly on the right side of this, the bit about this being up to the American people and their elected representatives is certainly problematic. Something that the man knows, given past comments on the subject.

Either way, he’s wrong. It has been obvious for decades what can and WILL happen if the uneducated people are allowed to have a say in the abortion debate. And in this age of Republican extremism, there is no longer any room for feeble pro-life pandering.

You are either a crusader for equal access to healthcare and equality, or you are not. By that metric, Dr. Oz has lost the plot.

Do School Girl Uniforms Have A Place In Pornography Or Sex Shops?

Of all the topics that I didn’t think I would ever find myself commenting on, this certainly has to be near the top of that nonexistent list. Nonetheless, it is a question being asked by a small but brave group of feminists in a UK high school.

Today, we will be exploring an article detailing the reason why this group has taken this stance. Not just for the sake of commenting on their argument, but also for the sake of digging into the full picture of what is happening.

Let’s begin.

These British students are trying to ban school uniforms in sex shops, pornography

Group’s petition has obtained enough signatures to trigger a government response

It was Friday lunchtime at a high school in Sandbach, England, and the conversation among a group of students was bleak: teenage girls talking about their experiences of being sexually harassed on their way to school.

“I remember we were on a public bus. And the bus driver told us it was OK to take our tights off if we wanted to. He said he preferred it when we wore the old uniform at school and our skirts were shorter. I was 11,” said Alice, now a Grade 11 student.

“When I was walking home once in my school uniform, I had a man in his thirties get close to me and say that he was going to rape me as he walked past. It was just horrific,” said Hannah, also in Grade 11.

Hannah and Alice — whose names have been changed and ages left out at the request of their school — are part of the feminism group at Sandbach High School, located south of Manchester.

Petition has earned response from U.K. government

The group is petitioning the U.K. government to ban school uniforms from being sold in costume and sex shops and worn in pornography.

“When we were walking to and from school, on public transport, and we were in our school uniforms, we’d been catcalled, sexually harassed, honked at,” said Alice. “And we kind of wondered why, and why people feel so entitled to, like, sexually harass schoolchildren and make us feel so uncomfortable.”

That is an excellent question.

The answer is obvious. Society has had a patriarchial structure for as long as there has been a society. Combine this sense of power with a lack of empathy or morality, then you end up with a dangerous result. Creeps that feel emboldened by the fact that their behaviour will almost certainly go unnoticed.

And even if it is noticed, there is still the very real possibility of victim blaming. The whole “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have acted so ______” argument. Anything to shift focus from the ethical void that can often accompany a strong patriarchial stance.

However, I suspect that technology has a role to play in this situation as well.

Though social standing, temperament and other factors also undoubtedly play a role, its hard to look at this and not consider the fairly recent collective change that was the introduction of the internet to our fingertips. Or more importantly, the introduction of every single type of pornography that we could possibly ever desire into our daily lives.
No one talks about it in polite company. But as far as activities go, damn near everyone does it. We don’t like to talk about the porn we watch, but watch porn we most certainly do. Browsing the endless list of strangers doing whatever tickles our fancy.

Instead of humans, the actors become simply a means to an end. A viewpoint that it seems, can easily be transitioned to real-life situations.

No matter what the factors driving the behaviours, however, it remains inexcusable.

The group’s petition has now gained more than 13,400 signatures, meaning it has surpassed the requirement to receive a government response. But amid the chaos of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation and a total reshuffle of the Conservative Party, no response has come within the usual 14 days.

They have also written to members of Parliament, but so far have only received the public support of the school’s local councillor, James Barber.

The feminism group was set up by teacher Sarah Maile in 2012. Each year, Maile encourages her students to select a women’s rights issue to focus on, ranging from human trafficking to female genital mutilation. But this year the group’s focus is particularly close to home.

“I’ve experienced people coming over to me and asking me explicit questions about virginity, and when I’ve said, ‘No,’ they’ve called me a bitch,” said Emma, a Grade 9 student at Sandbach.

A 2018 online survey of by campaign group Plan International U.K. of more than 1,000 14- to 21-year-old girls and women suggested that more than one-third of girls have been sexually harassed in public while wearing school uniform.

The vast majority of schools in the United Kingdom require students to wear a uniform up to age 16.

As an older student, Hannah no longer wears a uniform and says she has seen a “decrease in harassment” since she started wearing her own clothes to school.

Hannah’s experience is echoed in research by Plan International U.K. that found “girls felt that being in school uniform made them a particular target.”

While men should certainly be leaving these kids the hell alone, such statistics make me question the purpose of the school uniform, to begin with. Are the benefits worth the obvious harm they are introducing to students on a daily basis?

While that question’s thought process can come a little too close to victim blaming for my liking, one should not that the same could be said for a ban on an esthetic (like the school girl uniform). Will a crime happening to a woman that chooses to wear such a uniform be taken just as seriously as a crime not involving such clothing?

Kate Stephenson, a researcher and author of A Cultural History of School Uniform, says uniforms have been around in Britain since the 16th century for reasons ranging from providing orphans with warm clothes to distinguishing status at public schools like Eton College.

Modern uniforms have been around since the 19th century and are intended to give students from different backgrounds a sense of equality.

“It’s about making sure everybody looks the same and sort of removing those items that indicate that some children have more money than others,” Stephenson said.

As was what I suspected. Conformity removes many avenues of bullying that many would otherwise face in school. And this certainly makes them easier to control.

Banning real uniforms is victim-blaming, students say

The campaigners from Sandbach High School say they have been repeatedly asked whether removing uniforms from schools altogether might improve the situation. The students say that line of thinking is victim-blaming.

“I think it’s really worth mentioning that we are children, and we’re telling you that we feel unsafe and we feel uncomfortable because we’re so actively sexualized through these uniforms,” said Alice.

Maile adds that the intent behind targeting sex shops is not to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do in the bedroom, but to highlight the inappropriate way the costumes are marketed.

“It’s the very specific language that is applied to these costumes, ‘sexy schoolgirl lingerie’ — like, the very fact that that is the description of the product,” Maile said.

But Keith Miller, from London sex shop Love-Init, doesn’t believe that responsibility for the harassment lies with sex shops or their clientele.

“I think that comes down to an individual,” Miller said. “I don’t think stopping these being sold in shops is going to stop the comments. If somebody wants to talk to a school girl in that way, they’re gonna do it.”

By the looks of this, the ban proposed seems more aimed at the sexualizing elements in the marketing (ie “Sexy School Girl Uniform”) than with the article of clothing itself. I find that reasoning perfectly understandable.
Really, the fact that these uniforms exist, to begin with, is weirdly pedo. Almost openly, really.

On the other hand, however, there is the nostalgia angle. High school was the funniest part of many people’s lives. Thus, the popular culture surrounding nostalgia tends to become the preference of many within a given generation.
This faux uniform plays into this perfectly. After all, it is literally reminiscent of the teenage exploits (or the regretted lack thereof) of a great many.

Of course, weirdos cat-calling on trains or acting like pedophiles under the cover of public anonymity are obviously not in it for the nostalgia. They clearly feel powerful. The big problem is aI think they will remain a risk to women no matter how a female faux uniform is marketed. It’s a problem that I have no idea how to even begin tackling.

According to Stephenson, the culture of sexualizing school uniforms began with the St Trinian’s comic strips in the 1940s and ’50s. Cartoonist Ronald Searle drew the older students in a “raunchier school uniform,” she said, and those characters used their sexuality to their advantage.

“Looking back at it now, sort of 70 years later, we can see problems with it,” said Stephenson. “But at the time, it was rewriting femininity; it was producing new role models.”

Stephenson believes that nowadays, adults typically wear school uniforms as costumes as a way to relive an awkward phase in their life and replace bad memories with positive ones.

‘It absolutely is sexualizing adolescents’

Most adults view the sex-shop uniforms as totally different from the real ones worn by students, she said.

“I think, if you talk to most people, they would be horrified by the idea that it was sexualizing [the] actual school uniform,” said Stephenson. “The problem is that, particularly with things like pornography, it absolutely is sexualizing adolescents.”

This is very true. Some studios go out if their way to make perfectly legal adults look the part of a very illegal demographic, and face no issues in most jurisdictions using terms like teenager or barely legal. It makes me wonder if this is a better focus than what amounts to the pornographic offshoot of an astetic.

The students’ campaign comes amid numerous calls from advocacy groups to make street harassment a crime in the U.K.

One of these groups, Our Streets Now, was set up as a result of harassment experienced by one of its co-founders, Gemma Tutton. She was 14 when she and her sister Maya created the group; Gemma had been publicly sexually harassed since she was in primary school.

In March 2021, the grassroots campaign group joined Plan International U.K. to draft a model bill and encourage the government to criminalize public sexual harassment.

Now, this is certainly a good avenue to start with. It feels weird that the UK does not have such a statute already.

While British Home Secretary Priti Patel initially seemed on board with passing a new law in 2021, the government’s independent adviser on the issue, Nimco Ali, has since suggested her attempts to get the law passed had received “pushback” and hinted Johnson had not fully supported it.

The campaigners from Sandbach High School say even if the school uniform ban isn’t passed, they are pleased to have sparked a conversation about the sexualization of children.

“When we’re wearing [a uniform], we are just trying to access education — and that is our fundamental human right,” said Hannah. “So to be abused whilst doing that is horrific.”

Indeed.

As for my closing remarks, I think that pursuing the criminalization of harassment is the best option in this case. Though the marketing and existence of the sexy schoolgirl uniform seem weird, I see no need to shame a kink.
Now, having said that, should governments of the world be considering the ramifications of pornography studies being allowed to push taboos (particularly those involving children) often right to the very edge of what is moral?

Even that is a can of worms, considering that some find pornography itself immoral. Nonetheless, for the rest of us non-puritans, where should the line be?


Marijuana Prohibition Proponents Now Have A Super-Pac

Proponents of cannabis legalization in the US will now face a new obstacle to their end goal as a result of a new political action committee (or PAC) formed with the goal of undermining their progress.

While PACs have existed in the American political system for decades,  Super-PACs are a more recent phenomenon. Established after the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, Super PACs allow individuals, labour unions, corporations and other politically motivated entities to donate limitless sums of cash to the entity for the purpose of forwarding the shared goal of the Super PAC and its funders. Note that Super PACs never donate directly to candidates, only engage in various political activities (such as, but not limited to, advertising) on behalf of the funders.

https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/filing-pac-reports/registering-super-pac/

Though I can think of many private and corporate entities that would benefit from the current status quo, one benefit of Super Pacs is that their donors are not hidden from view. So you will know if Big Alcohol or Big Pharma are chipping into this PACs coffers. However, the same can not be said for 501c entities.

Basically, Super PACs can accept any amount of cash from any entity, but all donors are transparent publicly. As for 501c’s, they can also accept an unlimited amount of cash from any entity, but they are not obligated to transparency in terms of their donors. They also can not exist primarily for the purpose of pursuing political interests. This is why I assume they are often paired with Super PACs (PACs do the political heavy lifting, 501Cs facilitate it by collecting the cash quietly).

But that is both off-topic and not even necessarily related. However, it’s a handy guidebook as to why many things are the way they are in the US political system. Ever wonder why seemingly every right-leaning no one in the American political sphere has a radio show or podcast?

Wonder no more.

Anyway, speaking of looking backwards, let’s get to the article ( written by Kyle Jaeger and published by Marijuana Moment). 

 

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races

A top executive of the national prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) is launching a new political action committee (PAC), targeting pro-legalization candidates and supporting those who oppose the policy in key races. And one of the super PAC’s first targets is a freshman GOP congresswoman who is sponsoring her own bill to federally legalize and regulate cannabis.

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of SAM and CEO of the newly established Protect Our Kids PAC, told Marijuana Moment that he decided to branch out to create the committee in order to “give more political power to families and children, who want elected representatives in office who will put their health and safety first over industries looking to profit from drug legalization.”

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races


Of course, a Super PAC aimed at enabling underground drug dealers and suppliers by keeping their market share uncontested for even longer would be marketed with the message that is “Will someone PLEASE think of the children!”. The natural way to ensure that minors don’t get their hands on cannabis is OBVIOUSLY to ensure that the suppliers that don’t care about age keep on serving the market.

Because, duh.

Also, Smart Approaches to Marijuana reminds me of an organization I came across in the past. Headed by Kevin Sebat, the man on a crusade against cannabis legalization now despite seemingly overlooking the American opioid crisis when he was in an appointed white house position to make a difference to the situation. Could it be?

Leadership

The following individuals hold leadership positions with Smart Approaches to Marijuana:[16]

  • Kevin A. Sabet, President and CEO
  • Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor
  • Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs
  • Dana Stevens, Director of Local Affairs
  • Garth Van Meter, “Vice President of Government Affairs
  • Brendan Fairfield, “Director of Business Development

https://ballotpedia.org/Smart_Approaches_to_Marijuana

 

I knew I recognized the distinctly familiar stench of this particular brand of stupid. And also from the same source, check out this unexpectedly relevant piece of information.

 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization describes its mission as “promot[ing] health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences.” The group opposes non-medical marijuana legalization efforts, including state-level ballot initiatives that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana at the state level.[1]


Remember what we learned about Super PACs VS 501c’s?  Looks like the SAM leadership was sick of the drawbacks of sick of drawbacks of the 501c(3) as well.

 

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is among the PAC’s first targets. It plans to put tens of thousands of dollars behind a campaign to specifically unseat the congresswoman, who made headlines after introducing a GOP-led bill to end cannabis prohibition late last year.

Asked why the PAC is starting by zeroing in on Mace, rather than other more longstanding pro-legalization lawmakers up for reelection, Niforatos said that the congresswoman “has become the face of marijuana legalization for the Republican party,” and accused her of being “a lackey for Altria Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco company in America which is bankrolling marijuana legalization.”

“Her constituents do not support commercializing marijuana, yet an inordinate amount of her time is spent stumping for the policy,” he claimed. “Legalization of marijuana has hurt kids, families, and caused large health harms in states that have passed such policies. It’s time to hold her accountable.”


The first question that occurs to me is where on earth is SAM (or rather, Protect Our Kids) getting tens of thousands of dollars in order to fling all of this mud at a congresswoman?

It’s possible that individual donors could be responsible. But I seriously question that given the public support for legal cannabis. However, this is just an assumption.

We can, however, look into the claim of this congresswoman being a quote lackey for Altria Philip Morris. Did she accept donations from the company?

According to the following link,  not that I can see. Though it’s possible that it was hidden through a 501c/Super PAC combination, I can’t see any cannabis-related donors.

https://www.opensecrets.org/races/contributors?cycle=2020&id=SC01&spec=N

Since this is the case, I think it’s time for Luke Niforatos of SAM to put up or shut up. Where is your evidence?

Evidence that SAM isn’t also bought off by corporate financiers would also be nice, but I won’t play that game. That would make me no better than SAM.

 

Mace countered the attack, telling Marijuana Moment that polling she has conducted of her constituents shows that “two out of every three Republican Primary voters in our district agree that states should have the right to decide their own cannabis laws, and that’s exactly what the States Reform Act (SRA) does.”

“It protects the rights of states to decide for themselves,” the congresswoman said. “It’s the basic premise of federalism, also a conservative principle.”


While I don’t think that cannabis law should be a states rights issue given all that is at stake (the livelihood and reputation of literally millions of people), that is not the topic at hand. The prohibitionists at SAM claim that her constituents are not interested, she counters with the reality of the situation. So the natural next step is . . . Super PAC funded political propaganda.

Social media ads attacking Mace over the cannabis issue are already rolling out. Like this one, leaning into concerns about marijuana products that some worry would appeal to children:

And this one playing into fears about increased traffic fatalities following legalization, even though data is mixed on the association.

Kevin Sabet is like Cole from The Sixth Sense. He sees dead people everywhere!

Well, except for all of these that overdosed on opioids on his watch as that crisis unfolded unabated throughout the 90s and into the 2000s. 

 

In February, Mace’s Republican primary challenger Katie Arrington criticized the incumbent’s focus on marijuana legalization in a campaign ad, saying, “Is Nancy Mace high?”

Separately, Mace and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) filed a resolution this month imploring President Joe Biden to wield his influence to get the United Nations to end the international ban on marijuana by removing the plant from the list of controlled substances in a global drug treaty.

In any case, Mace won’t be the new PAC’s only target. With what Niforatos said is six-figures of funding that the committee will soon be reporting to the FEC, they will be tackling “6-12 races this cycle, focusing on House races as well as state-level races.”

 

Lovely. I can’t wait to see the other dog shit these assholes produce.

 

That includes launching ads in “some key races in the next few weeks” and supporting Colorado House candidate Yardira Caraveo’s primary race because she sponsored legislation to “overhaul” the state’s cannabis program last year. It will also back “one other Colorado Republican in a close race,” he said.

“The slate we are endorsing (which will grow) is comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, and this bi-partisan nature will continue. We will support and attack the same numbers of both parties,” Niforatos said. “We believe good drug policy that protects families and kids is bipartisan, and it should stay that way.”


I can’t fault them for holding everyone accountable. After all, keeping street-level gangs and dealers in the business of furnishing teens and children with cannabis products is a bi-partisan issue.

 

Another candidate that the PAC will be backing is Washington State Rep. Lauren Davis (D), which might seem like an unusual pick for an anti-legalization committee since the lawmaker last year sponsored a bill to decriminalize low-level possession of all drugs.

Niforatos said that Davis is “a friend of ours, and she is a courageous lawmaker who has worked in the recovery field and has bravely taken on the marijuana industry in Washington State by advocating for sensible regulations such as potency caps.”


And here we go with the regulations from the no-nothings. To be frank, if you believe in potency caps in the area of cannabis and don’t see a need for other substances such as alcohol or caffeine (the caffeine content of energy drinks has only been rising in the past few years) to have similar conversations, then you are an idiot and are not worth listening too.

 

“She is also someone who recognizes drug addiction is something to be treated with the goal of recovery, not normalizing use or allowing commercialization of drugs,” he said, adding that he disputes the characterization of her legislation as “broad decriminalization” even though it seeks to remove criminal penalties for small possession all drugs, in addition to bolstering substance misuse treatment.

“That doesn’t mean we will agree on everything—we likely won’t ever agree on every single policy issue or nuance with any of our candidates we support,” he said. “But Rep. Davis is putting the health and safety of families first and these are values we feel are desperately needed for policymakers in America.”


Recovery.

There is another booming industry in this broken world that I have not even touched on in this article (but I did HERE). Then there are the problems with AA as the status quo recovery program (as infamously chronicled by James Frey in the 2000s). But not the focus of this piece.

 

Also on the PAC’s roster is a former federal prosecutor from the state of West Virginia who is currently running for state Senate. Mike Stuart has regularly expressed hostility to cannabis reform, including at summit events and a symposium on the issue that he organized in 2018 during his time as a U.S. attorney.

The committee will further be supporting Kentucky Rep. Kimberly Moser (R) in her reelection bid. The lawmaker opposed medical cannabis legalization efforts in her state, but she did sponsor cannabis research legislation that cleared the House this month.

Some might be left wondering: if the objective of the new PAC is to defeat pro-legalization candidates and support those who are against enacting such policy change, why not just continue to do that and raise funds for SAM, or its 501(c)(4) SAM Action? After all, the goals seem to closely align.

Niforatos said that “SAM has always been focused on educating the public, lawmakers, and not engaging in partisanship in any way. That mission has been successful and will continue.”

“But SAM is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It cannot support or oppose individual candidates,” he said.


Well, at least the organization is honest with its intentions. However stupid they may be.

 

Pressed on the fact that SAM Action could theoretically accomplish what the Protect Our Kids PAC is gearing up to do, Niforatos said that the group’s 501(c)(4) “is only used for lobbying and advocacy related activities.”

“We really want to stay away from electioneering and partisanship with SAM/SAM Action,” he said. “I wanted to start a super PAC of my own, separate from those organizations, that would allow me to do more electioneering work with the vision of protecting families and kids from drugs.”


I’m certainly curious where the funding for the Super PAC and the 501c(3) is going to come from at this point. Though I can’t know for sure, this sure looks to me like opening up for business.

 

As momentum grows for drug policy reform, this is the latest example of how PACs are continuing to come into the picture.

The former lobbyist for NORML launched his own Better Organizing to Win Legalization (BOWL) PAC last month, for example. And Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the sponsor of a federal cannabis legalization bill up for a floor vote this week, sent out a joint email blast to supporters to raise funds last week.

Also last month, New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) started an equity-focused political action committee that will place a strong focus on electing candidates that support marijuana reform.

 

While I understand the existence of PACs, I can’t help but wonder if the difference between a PAC and a Super PAC makes a difference here. While a PAC seems like it is limited in scope to members of its head organization, a Super PAC has no such limitations (being able to accept cash from anyone). Something to consider when paired with a 501c(3) which can be (and often, IS) blindly financed.

 

Music – Will Our Generation Look Back In Admiration? REVISITED

Today, we’re going back in time. Back to the year 2014. A time when this blog had existed barely a year, and when I was a different person than I am today. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was a period of transformation that would not be complete until many years afterward. If I’m honest, it’s a transformation period that is still in progress. I’ve come to realize that I’ll likely never find myself in a period of political or ideological stability. To put it another way, there is almost always something new to learn, and as such this transformation journey may well last until such a time as I take my last breath, or biology takes away my mental acuity.

Coming back to the current day (march 13, 2022), I just need to focus on something more lighthearted than all the various real-world vectors that are slowly eroding away at my sense of sanity.
The unprovoked Russian attack (attempted annexation?) of Ukraine. The win of CovidIOTS who mostly never gave pandemic restrictions a chance (thanks to economic principals taking priority over pandemic containment. Or to put it in layman’s terms, “YAY! No more masks!”). US oil producers (and 1 Canadian Premiere) using the Ukraine invasion to promote more soon to be written off fossil fuel infrastructure. Because any chance to reshuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic is a good opportunity, apparently. 

And overall, a global society that is just . . . very angry. Though primarily a very understandable reaction of the last 2 years that we all endured, the various agendas of the world’s shit disturbers have proven masterful at turning up the heat in these individuals without ever tipping their hand. I mean, is it really surprising that much of the Western world was focused on business owners blockading Ottawa and various Canadian and US ports of entry as Russia was slowly ramping up its presence on Ukraine’s doorstep?

Media manipulators don’t rely on the boob tube anymore, folks. They have switched tactics, and now social media is the new Wild West of psychological warfare.

Boomers taught my generation that you can’t believe everything you see on TV. If only they all hadn’t seemingly forgotten that valid rule of thumb upon signing up for Crackbook, Tweeter and BoobTube.

While I have always taken a fairly bleak (dare I say, red-pilled?)  stance towards the future of the species, even I have started finding it harder to cope with everything of late. Even without spending hours doom scrolling (I learned my lesson after Deepwater Horizon and Fukushima), it’s like the treadmill to hell has started to speed up since November 2016. And the slow creep of the cold-war era back into modern-day life since late February certainly isn’t helping things.
Even though my overarching concern is less nuclear and far more cyber, considering how little we all know about how far external national entities are embedded into the public and private infrastructure of the world. Particularly privately owned and ran infrastructure (we can only hope that the rest of the world learned from Colonial Pipeline).

Anyway, I promised light-hearted so lighthearted I shall deliver.

As I explained at the beginning of this post, 2014 was a time of transformation for me. Not only was I dealing with my perceived ex-communication from a community that I had felt at home in since late high school (mainstream Atheism), I was also unknowingly starting the slow process of regimentation of what media I like versus what is new and trendy. I didn’t know it yet, but I was slowly becoming Oscar Leroy shouting “Get the F off my lawn!”.
Since I am also a fan of metal (and was then an elitist. In a nutshell, Metal is the best and everything else is garbage), this also played into my sentiment.

Which was why it was interesting to come across an old post titled Music – Will Our Generation Look Back In Admiration? though a spam comment left on it. Seemed like an opportunity to see how much I have changed.

Thus, we will begin our journey into the depth of my mind as it existed 7 years ago.

 

It is the start of yet another new year. And as such, what was popular in 2013, is on its way out the door come 2014. Thank GOD for that.

I suppose that I may be getting to old to enjoy whats modern and hip (not to mention my love of all things heavy), but even so, this generations “fresh hits” leaves much to be desired. It is for that reason, that I go out of my way to avoid subjecting myself to the music, when at all possible.

 

 

Out of curiosity, let’s have a look at what was trendy back in 2013. Mostly to gauge if my contempt still holds after this length of time.

https://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2013/hot-100-songs/

I don’t remember (likely have not heard) pretty much everything from 5 down to 100. 4 was irritating then, and it’s certainly irritating now (when your trend hits the Dr. Oz Show and other daytime BoomerTube, you ain’t cool, yo!). I don’t mind #3, having had some time for it to grow on me. Number 2 is garbage in terms of both its lyrical content AND the fact that it was allegedly ripped off (the song’s only saving grace being Weird Al’s iteration of it).  And as if we didn’t already have enough proof about how thick Robin Thicke can be, he allegedly groped a model on the set of blurred lines, blaming the presence of alcohol on set for the action.

In glad that the first thing that comes to mind when I hear blurred lines is Word Crimes. Cause FUCK Robin Thicke.

As for #1, I have no reaction since I can’t ever recall hearing it.

Since my old post was celebrating the exit of 2013 and harkening the entrance of 2014, let’s also take a look at what was trendy in 2014. We will also of course see if my visceral reactions still stand.

https://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2014/hot-100-songs/

Though I don’t recognize many of the songs from 9 onward, there are more familiar ones (maybe 4 or 5) than in the 2013 top 100 list. The presence of Jason Derulo 3 times is amusing since people used to call me that at work. Though I am still unfamiliar with the man’s work (aside from hearing that the video to Trumpets is random as hell).

Number 8 isn’t bad (didn’t even mind it at the time. It was upbeat). I don’t remember 7, 6 or 5. As for 4, I am far more aware of the Weird Al iteration than of the original (that tends to be a throughline when it comes to me and modern music, no matter the year). 3 I don’t remember. 2 I heard for the first time not long ago (it’s not terrible, but it is slow. A hallmark of the mid-2010s era).

As for #1, I find the song irritating (it’s annoying, to begin with, let alone having heard it blasted pretty much everywhere). However, the Weird Al iteration is very much to my liking (particularly the single-shot music video that accompanies it).

Weird Al is a bit like ACDC. I don’t think he could ever put out an album that I don’t like.

 

I have not always had this kind of relationship with pop/other “hit” music. I remember when I was younger, one of my aunts commented on how I could look into being a DJ as a career, because I knew pretty much every song on the radio at the time. Though at the time, I was young and impressionable, and the radio was the only real source of music me and my family had.

Another source of music that I had though out my younger years, was my fathers extensive collection of 50s/60s/70s/80s hits. Stored on cassette tapes, records (yep, vinyls. 45s, LPs, you name it), 8 tracks and later CDs and MP3 players (when the Internet was introduced into the household), he had an endless supply of music that I thought to be mostly irritating.

 

My stance on oldies hasn’t really changed, though I wouldn’t go as far as calling most of my father’s music annoying at this point. Far too slow and vanilla come to mind, but not so much annoying.

Well, unless we’re talking about Air Supply or Frankie Vallie. If I never hear “I’m all out of love! I’m so lost without you!” again, it’s still too soon. And don’t even get me started on “SHERRY! SHERRY BABY!”. My ears are bleeding just from thinking about it.

The only exception to the Frankie Valli scorched earth policy is Oh, What A Night. Because I now associate the song more with unexpected baby news at John Watson’s wedding than excruciating vocal pain.

As for the rest of my narrative on music, though I did stop following the popular music scene, I suspect this to be a function of 2 things. First, the music and culture of one’s childhood or youth will almost always elicit a more positive response since that time of life is almost always more positive than what follows (the trap of nostalgia). At the same time as my taste for the new and trendy was gradually being erased by blind cultural cynicism (for lack of a better description), the overall popular music scene was also changing. Though I arguably stopped paying attention to music before the late 2000s was over, the 2010s brought with it a new trend of slowness. While there were exceptions to the rule (as there always are), the BPM of many of the releases started to slow WAY down.
Consider the difference between, say, Rihanna’s SOS or Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous, and Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. While I am indeed looking at 3 raindrops out of an ocean, you can see the pattern.

Whilst I’m almost inclined to consider early to late 2000s pop music as my Herman’s Hermits and Lobo (my dad’s preferences), I can’t even call this correct. That designation would be better suited to groups like Metallica, Linkin Park, Rammstein, Nirvana and many more. Interestingly, the material that streaming services mostly automatically serve up since I’m such a creature of habit.

 

Of course, this was par for the course when one is young (very rarely it seems, do parents and children have the same tastes in music). And looking back, it had a lot to do with not wanting to be alike my elder. However, though I do enjoy a few of my fathers old favorites such as Bony M (their Christmas album has become a family staple of the season) and Lover Boy, most of the other stuff is not for me.

I am not sure that I would use the term “Garbage” to describe it, but its more just, not for me. The various artists may have been cutting edge and talented for their time, and they may stand as gems in the greater music scene, but its just not my cup of tea.

 

Can’t say that much has changed here. Well, aside from the fact that the tamer side of my music library (rock music that ranges from Loverboy to Twisted Sister, my original gateway to metal) doesn’t get nearly the airplay it used to as my music tastes slowly evolve towards more complex, faster material. I have nothing against groups like ACDC, Twisted Sister and the like. It’s just that I recently realized that I find this  (Panic Attack – Dream Theater) slow.

I have also started allowing my music taste to broaden not just further down the metal sub-genre scene, but also outside of it into territory that I never ever thought I would tread. I’m still very selective whilst outside of my comfort zone, but have started to discover (rediscover?) the pop scene, and even some hip hop. Even if it’s hard to know where the line ends between those 2 genres in some cases (for example, the Weeknd).
I even crossed the bridge into country territory at one point. Though not very far, admittedly (not much aside from some Dierks Bentley really appeals to me).

Each day brings with it a different music craving. Thanks to streaming media, this constant itch can almost always be easily scratched with the push of a button. Though not on Spotify anymore.

Because FUCK Joe Rogan.

Having heard this music at various times (and a great many times over lol) all through out growing up, it was a bit of a surprise when I started hearing the same songs on the radio.

First it was a trickle of remade songs, which eventually culminated into a torrent that left almost no “new” song that played, truly new. The popular artists of the day such as Britney Spears and No Doubt, all putting out redone material. But the worst part about it, was more often then not, the songs status as a remake was not mentioned (a few times it was noted by the DJ, but usually not).

One moment that sticks out for me, is when the song “SOS” by Rihanna came out. Though the lyrics were seemingly original, the music that it was sung against was borrowed. A factoid that I would have missed, had the station not played the original (or a remake of the original song) just before Rihanna’s version. Though I had long before lost respect for most new music and artists, this was certainly a new low.


Interestingly enough, I actually don’t mind that song at this point. The music may not be original, but at least it was catchy and upbeat. This, and judging by the fact that I never heard about any lawsuits from the previous artist, I’m thinking that she must have properly licenced the material she was borrowing (and presumably shared some of the royalties made off the song). Which is more than you can say for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

Truth be told, when it comes to bad artist renditions of previously released material, I have to showcase a man that I once respected to the point of being an idol. That man is Marylin Manson.

Before he was exposed as an allegedly wife-beating and berating asshole, his consistent rebelliousness in the face of the horrified and hypocritical hordes was very much relatable. Though I’ve never found a need to tear apart a bible for sport, his motives and George Carlin’s “It’s Bullshit, and it’s bad for ya!” moto really stuck with me. Despite this stance becoming much more stressful the less my income is tied to a business that I actually own and control.
Either way, a close friend of mine once expressed dismay at what Marilyn Manson did with his remake of Sweet Dreams. To use his own words, “That is all he did with it?!”.

At the time, my fancy for my idol flashed before my eyes, so I of course didn’t see what he was seeing. Indeed, much of Manson’s catalogue didn’t have the same awe factor as it did when I was a teenager )grabbing every Manson track I could find on Limewire). It’s not all The Fight Song, but it had sentimental value.

But, not so much anymore. Though the allegations are just that (allegations), I don’t find it a hard stretch to imagine that there is truth in them. In the same way that it’s easy to see how the blurred lines music video set would provide the perfect backdrop for a predator to strike (it’s literally in the lyrics!), I can also see how the caustic personality that is Marylin Manson may well be hellish if it is turned inward in the form of domestic violence.
Of course, we are dealing with allegations in both cases. Nonetheless, it’s not hard to read between the lines, however blurred. Particularly when witnesses (or more than 1 alleged victim) exist.

To move the dialogue away from artists of disappointment and contempt, not all artist renditions I have come across are bad. In fact, I can think of 3 goodies right off the top of my head.

The first (and my overall favourite) has to be Disturbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Unlike any other Disturbed song before it (aside from Darkness), I love how it starts low and slowly builds, David’s voice following the loud notes of the booming orchestra behind him. Until the pause, and the last booming outro of the orchestra.
An honourable mention goes to Nevermore’s interpretation of the song, a tune so different that I didn’t even know it was a cover. Having listened to the song many times before, I didn’t realize the connection until after hearing the Disturbed version.

The second is the Five Finger Death Punch cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Blue on Black. I can’t help but crank the volume when I hear this tune. Either version, really .

The 3ed is the most recent, Saint Asonia’s cover of The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights.  In all honesty, it’s a bit surprising that the original made this list since it irked me the first time I heard it. But much like the Billie Eilish song Bad Guy, the song ended up growing on me. And not just because it’s amusing to see people’s reaction to me saying Billy Eyelash or saying the Baaaad guy phrase in a sheep voice.
Though I certainly would have never expected to hear a rock version of Blinding Lights, Saint Asonia did a good job of it. And though YouTuber Jared Dines hasn’t done any pop goes metal videos for a long time, I’d personally love to see how he would interpret this song.

But in any case, after moving away from the hits of today, my first reaction was switching from the all hits radio station to the local rock station (my fathers choice, and as good an alternative as there was). There I gradually grew more fond of rock music in its many classic forms.
Then with the internet, came exposure to ever more heavier forms of metal, which is where I have stayed for the most part to this day.

I have always loved music, usually taking advantage of any opportunity that I had to listen. When I was younger, that meant that I had a radio going for whatever task I was in the process of completing (chores). And I have always listened to music in bed before going to sleep (when I was young on a clock radio/stereo, and now on an ipod/phone).


This has not changed. Though I now reserve podcasts for things like chores, music is still nice for random computing tasks (like writing posts like this) or going to sleep.

One thing that I can tell you, however, is that I now hate terrestrial radio stations. Well, maybe just the stations where I live. The Rock station I used to listen to was taken over by a national media company, and thus the name and format changed to be more generalized. But I don’t like it since the playlist seems just barely larger than that of the average retail store, and the branding is annoying. After every song, you hear some iteration of “Bob!” (or now, “Bounce!”). It’s the kind of Boomer pablum that I now only listen to if I have no choice in the matter.

That is the story of my evolution of music.

Each passing generation, has grown up with, and primarily stuck with the music that grow familiar to them in their younger years. The Sirius/XM satellite radio systems take advantage of this, by having channels 4-9 dedicated to the format of said decade of the 90’s (4=40s, 5 =50s etc). This seems to hold true, as far as the 80s, and maybe even the 90s (Sirius/XM has 90s 0n 9).


Imagine. Me acting like I am better than all of these people tuning into Sirius 50s on 5 or 90s on 9. I know I certainly didn’t when I had a Sirius radio. Octane/Ozzys Boneyard/Liquid Metal and Howard 100/101 were far more interesting.

But that was 2009. Truth be told, it’s honestly amazing that satellite radio is still a thing.

Most past generations look back at the music, and other cultural phenomenons of their time with pride, nostalgia. The music often went hand in hand in their daily lives back then, making revisiting it a nice trip down memory lane. And associating music with fond (or not so fond) memories will always happen, no matter what.

But, can we look back at the music (as well as other media) of the past decade or so (as well as today), with pride? If were still around in 20,30,40,50 years from now, will we still be listening to the long lost hits of the 2000’s?


Yes me, I’m sure that many of today’s youth will still occasionally listen to the music of today even in the future, possibly long after youthful freedom and bliss have left them behind. This is a point that is proven in the grocery stores of today, which love to loop a mixture of boomer and millennial favourites.

Hell, I proved it myself in this very post. Since this entry is technically me talking to myself, I wonder if this counts as a self-pawn. . .

 

I personally think that the answer will be no.

Well, you’re wrong bud.

Such is a good lesson for many people. Never try to assign rigid rules of categorization to the subjective. Most human-influenced culture (and even physiology) is very much ambiguous and hard to paint with a broad brush. Even though most humans seem to lack the mental acuity to experience the world from outside the safety of rigid interpretations.

My reason for this conclusion, is the nature of the music industry today. Like everything else, music has turned into a super formulated, bland, disposable, predictable mess. Instead of having a few gems of talent coming up in a sea of musicians, we now have a sea of mediocrity. An endless tide of catchy one hit wonders with VERY few (if any) gems coming out of the mix.

I also have noted the behaver of many modern music listeners. Many that grew up fans of such genres as pop, have moved on to others, such as country, rock or others. Others that listen to the music, seem to drift with the time, not having any affiliation with past works (even within the same genre).

 

While hindsight tells me that I could have likely written this in any decade and interpreted similar results in the popular culture of the time, one thing I never really saw coming was services like SoundCloud and Spotify. Though at the time I was talking of merely the corporate-driven uniformity of the pop scene, the scene is very different today in that anyone with a computer and increasingly affordable equipment can release their own material. Much of this is only as good as the creator (to put it in a nice way). Either way, I had NO idea how much mediocre material that democratizing the recording studio would bring into the marketplace.

On the other hand, though, you can get your voice out there. And with far less effort than anyone trying to start a musical career even 15 years ago.

As for the behaviour of modern music listeners part, I feel like I was taking from anecdotes in my own life. I saw a lot of people drift from pop music over to country from my teens onward. But this may not have been anything more than a local to the fairly local occurrence. Not to mention that not unlike other genres that have been typically floating around the realm of (and blurring the boundaries of) typical pop music, country music has been making a similar evolution throughout the 2010s. Though there have always been breakthroughs (like Picture or All Summer Long. Having heard the latter on 3 different stations running under 3 different formats (rock, country, pop) at one point, I fucking hate that song), many artists seem to be straddling the line between country and pop. I think one of the most interesting examples thus far for me has been Old Town Road, another song that has grown on me since I’ve been getting more exposure to the modern-day iteration of hip hop/rap.
To explain this difference, consider Stronger (Kanye) or Lose Yourself (Eminem) versus Money Longer (Lil Uzi Vert) or Gucci Gang (Lil Pump). Since I find it hard to keep a straight face whilst listening to the Lil Pump earworm (I would fail spectacularly if is I was high), consider Fair Trade (Drake ft. Travis Scott).
And speaking of unintentionally hilarious songs to listen to after some edibles, consider this unexpected gem (Im 2 Sexy – Drake ft. Future and Young Thug).

Now, where was I? Oh yeah . . . songs blurring the lines between pop music and other genres.

I feel like this inquiry raises a question that I have never considered before. That question being, what even is pop music? A style? A format? A vast category for anything and everything that is popular? All of the above?

I’m reminded of a documentary I watched some time ago called Classic Rock. Focusing on a term that I had never given a second thought to, I believe the goal of this documentary was trying to see if they could nail down a more or less standardized definition of what music or era Classic Rock entails. At its core, the term originated in radio as a station format surrounding rock music from around the 80s. Some also say from the mid-60s to the mid-90s.

Judging by both the documentary I watched and various YouTube compilations, no one has any idea where the line lies in terms of a standard definition. When the term was coined, I’m sure that it was focused on a given era of rock. But as time moves on indefinitely, the question seems to have been “Does the Classic Rock format grow to also include more modern works which also could be considered classics (ie the 90s)?”.

Some in the documentary argued “No way!”. The ACDC era belongs nowhere near Nirvana. Others make the argument that the term has to move ahead with time. Judging by the various Classic Rock compilations, I’d say that many people agree with the latter assessment. With most of them containing songs by Nirvana, some Metallica, and even the Bee Gees in one case (recall that they are Disco), I’d say that the widely accepted definition is very fluid. 

Or, people aren’t aware of the various categorization nuances of the music they love (for example, did you know that the popular Kiss tune I Was Made For Loving You is actually disco?).
It all goes to show how something as fluid as culture can be difficult to assign rigid categorical differences to, particularly when it comes to what lies at the fringes. To use the Kiss example, Detroit Rock City or Psycho Circus are fairly easy to categorize. I Was Made For Loving You on the other hand . . .not exactly. It checks the boxes of 2 categories, and as such, it sits in both nicely.

This brings me back to the question that I never did get around to answering. What exactly is pop music?

From Wikipedia:

Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom.[4] The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.

Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music. Identifying factors usually include repeated choruses and hooks, short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), and rhythms or tempos that can be easily danced to. Much pop music also borrows elements from other styles such as rock, urban, dance, Latin, and country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music

 

Though that definition nicely describes the situation as it stands today, further study of the wiki article details how the definition of the term Pop music is just as disagreed upon as Classic Rock is. And like Classic Rock, the definition seems to evolve with time, though this was to be a certainly given the roots of the term being much further back than those of Classic Rock.

Realistically, this all makes sense since people’s subjective interpretations of these terms and what encompasses them (which are shaped by traits like preference and bias) will almost always land on a different conclusion. And you can’t really go by the record label slash music industry standard since that formula is less based around categorization than it is around monetization. The more boxes you can check in terms of each category, the bigger potential audience you can push to. Something that is becoming increasingly important in the age of both streaming (reduced overall revenues) and democratized music production.

As such, I don’t think there will ever be a standardized definition for Classic Rock, Pop, or possibly any other music form. Humans are far too subjective to ever come to any sort of agreement on that sort of thing.

As for the ongoing inroads of country into the Pop realm (so much for the last statement?), that evolution will continue to be interesting. Not to mention that the genre itself will benefit from the new life brought into it by the new fan base, something that even the older more established artists will enjoy.
Despite my giving country music more of a chance than I once did, I am still put off by the overly formulaic nature of a huge chunk of it (old and new). In a nutshell, rich and wealthy Nashville mansion owners sing about the rough and tumble life of the average working man. Though rappers sporting Lambos and walking Tigers in their videos are over the top, talking the talk without walking the walk is just, well, bullshit.

The one exception of course being Arron Lewis’s Country Boy.  Imagine my surprise upon discovering his crossover into enemy territory!

And don’t even get me started on artists like Toby Keith and Allan Jackson cashing in on patriotism during rough times. Your fans will never call you out for such bullshit, but NOT COOL. Not at ALL Kosher.

In a sense, Toby Keith and Allan Jackson made the CNN faux pas long before CNN actually did.

And with that steaming hot potato of a sentence, we will move on.

 

Its not really surprising seeing this reaction. I make a habit of avoiding modern pop type music, because of its cookie cutter nature. Every year there is a new Jonas Brothers/One Direction/Bieber (he’s had an amazingly long longevity, for the times). And when it comes to the ladies, it seems that the formula is throwing any lyrics against a catchy beat, even if its just a single word .

This critique is interesting since one could level it against any music genre (including metal). Though there are artists in every genre that stand out against the rest of the financially driven majority, the existence of genres in general (along with many artists that fit into them neatly) nicely sabotages my own argument. I can’t accuse one group of people of being overly infatuated with an overly similar and inherently simplistic product when I am essentially the same person. Though my flavour of cookie may be far more complex than the vanilla that encompasses what sells, I still have a flavour.

Really, this discourse isn’t really even applicable to me anymore since my music taste has grown greatly compared to what it used to be. But I’m reminded of my former metal elitest self. The arrogant twat that looked down on everything that didn’t smash the windows when cranked to the max. 

This makes me think of another question. Is metal inherently better than other genres?

Back in 2013, the answer would have been simple (Yes!). If one’s subjective definition of better is complexity then metal would in fact be better than pretty much everything else that is available (possibly short of Classical. Again, depending on who you ask). Many traits of metal (eg. advanced riffs or growling vocal tones) take a lot of practice to master. The end result of such dedication is easy to hold as the standard if your comparison criteria involve only effort. Compared with a song containing an autotuned artist singing against a computerized melody, of course, one can find much of metal as superior. One can find much of anything superior to that.

But that is just personal subjectivity. In reality, complex or not, music is just music. It is highly doubtful that the trajectory of any music genera (however prolific) will dictate the trajectory of a society. Refect the status and overall trajectory, yes. But dictate? Unlikely. 

It is just a form of art, after all. An area of human development (knowledge?) that has always been more reflective than prescriptive, though much like other human developments (such as science and philosophy), art can also be used to malicious ends.

As for “it seems that the formula is throwing any lyrics against a catchy beat, even if its just a single word .” , my reference was to a popular tune which was trending sometimes in the late 2000s to early 2010s which basically consisted of the word Hello being repeated over a very upbeat and catchy melody.  Considering the slow nature of the era we would go into, the song is less irritating in hindsight, though I can’t for the life of me think (or find!) the artist responsible for it. Though Katty Perry comes to mind, I feel like i’m thinking of Firework. A song that is similarly upbeat, but not it (the voice is different). If you know what song I am talking about (or even have a guess), feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll edit it into this entry.

Another thing I can tell you . . . though I hated the Hello song equally as much as Feist’s 1 2 3 4, not so much anymore. Feist is still high on the list, however, since I associate her with helping Apple to make millions of dollars. No, she didn’t help guide them into being an over-rated anti-right to repair monopoly (at least as far as the app store is concerned. And no, Google is no better), but she was responsible for generating a whole lot of the cash of which made it all possible.

While not exactly worthy of the Robin Thicke treatment (that is to say, cussing her out, not groping her tits), she does deserve at least a little sarcasm.

Thanks, Feist.

 

I can’t help but wonder about the message were sending future generations, or the world in general. I can’t help but think, there is something wrong with this picture. I can’t help but see a problem with a society that values an endless stream of mediocre garbage (with no real talents coming out). What does it say, when we value money more then quality?

 

Here again, I find myself using my subjective conclusions as a gauge for the state of the world in general. Viewing my cultural zeitgeist as if it is unique in the grand scheme of things, even though I’m sure we can find similar trash to treasure ratios no matter how far back (or for that matter, ahead) we were to look when it comes to any aspect of popular culture in any time period. 

I used to think the same of TV coming from the 2000s and the 2010s, but that is hardly true, is it?

This era gave us Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Luther, Mr. Robot and many MANY others that I am yet unaware of (let alone can recall). Though the next 2 have been largely forgotten to time at this point, Revenge and Desperate Housewives earned themselves a spot in my subjective list of preferences.

While the source of new content is rapidly changing from traditional cable to streaming, various streaming services will keep funding and releasing new and interesting content for as long as that medium is to last. Already we have shows like Black Mirror and Bojack Horseman. Whilst there will be a lot of stuff released through these mediums (as has always been the case), there will be many gems of which we have yet to discover and treasure. 

And with that, I conclude this revisit of one of my past works. Though I ended up going in many unexpected directions in this entry, it was an interesting journey.

“Marijuana Legalization Is Not Harmless” – Does Legalization Impact Opioid Mortality?

Today, we’re going to talk about the harms of cannabis. Again. 

Time to get on with it.



https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/marijuana-legalization-is-not-harmless

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research contains some inconvenient news for the rosy worldview of those who claim that marijuana is a completely harmless drug.

The paper reviews data on opioid and marijuana use and makes two key findings — first, that “medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality.” The second finding is that data “for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.”

The increase in opioid deaths associated with marijuana use is greater for men, nonwhites, and young people.

 

I’m curious about the source material (the study) since a link was not provided within this editorial. Let’s go hunting.

Our analyses show that RMLs increase adult marijuana use and reduce drug-related arrests over an average post-legalization window of three to four years. There is little evidence to suggest that RML-induced increases in marijuana consumption encourage the use of harder substances or violent criminal activity, and some evidence that RMLs may aid in reducing opioid-related mortality.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29038

*Raises eyebrow*

It’s a bit hard to determine what paper the source article is referencing (here is the PDF of the full paper sourced above), but hardly a skim indicates a totally different set of results than those reported in the article. At least if this is the source, which it may not be. 

I also came across THIS paper, which also seems to indicate results contrary to the narrative that the examiner is aiming for. As goes for THIS one.

Altering my query a bit (and using scholar mode), I finally seem to be getting closer.

 

Recent studies have concluded that state laws legalizing medical marijuana can reduce deaths from opioid overdoses. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey uniquely suited to assessing drug misuse, we examine the relationship between recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) and the use of opioids. Standard difference-in-differences (DD) regression estimates indicate that RMLs do not affect the likelihood of misusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Although DD regression estimates provide evidence that state laws legalizing recreational marijuana can reduce the frequency of misusing prescription pain relievers, event-study estimates are noisy and suggest that any effect on the frequency of misuse is likely transitory.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29087

This one?

 

For other public health outcomes such as mortality involving prescription opioids, the effect of legalizing medical marijuana has proven more difficult to gauge and, as a consequence, we are less comfortable drawing firm conclusions.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w28647

 

Nope. Next!

 

. . . in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

Bingo.

Though it might not be apparent, I committed some Washington Examiner-level journalistic manipulation in the last quote.

Well, it is pretty obvious. Nonetheless, here is what I (and they) failed to tell you. Keep in mind that the following is from the abstract (I have not even touched the actual PDF!):

 

Over the last two decades there has been considerable movement at the state-level to legalize marijuana, initially for medical purposes and more recently for recreational consumption. Despite prior research, it is unclear how, if at all, these policies are related to rates of opioid-involved overdose deaths, which have trended rapidly upwards over time and represent a major public health problem. We provide two types of new information on this question. First, we replicate and extend upon previous investigations and show that the empirical results of those studies are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths. Second, we present new estimates from generalized differences-in-differences and event study models that incorporate more recent data and improvements developed in our replication and extension of early research. These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality. The results for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

 

My first thought upon reading that is “What does this even mean?!”.

For the Washington Examiner editorial team, it’s a handy reference that no one (aside from some Canadian running a blog no one reads) will realize is falsely cited. But for me, it strikes me as citing a question of correlation vs causation.

Since cannabis dispensaries and the majority of drug users are likely to be clumped in higher population areas (such as cities), could the correlation be related to nothing more than geographical dynamics?

This is highly doubtful. Let’s cite the paper itself to see if we can gain some insights.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

From the paper:

More than 930,000 Americans died of drug overdoses from 1999-2020 (Hedegaard et
al. 2021). A large majority of these involved opioids, and both all drug mortality and deaths
implicating opioids accelerated markedly during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In response to these alarming trends, there have been multiple federal, state and local efforts
to reduce opioid deaths and related problems including: better tracking of prescribing
through drug monitoring programs; improved access to non-opioid pain care, naloxone, and
medications treating opioid use disorder; assistance to high-risk persons following release
from incarceration; physician and prescriber education programs; improved data
surveillance; Good Samaritan laws that reduce barriers to calling for help during opioid
emergencies; and multiple federal grant programs that provide states and local governments
with assistance in funding these and other endeavors (Purington 2019; Harris and
Mukkamala 2020; Katcher and Ruhm 2021).

I can already start to see an answer to my question in this paragraph. The pandemic drove everyone down to new levels of misery, which would account for drug-seeking behaviour in regards to all substances. While not mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that alcohol misuse also shot up.

It’s a coping mechanism, after all.

Nonetheless, I’m not going to put the answer I want to hear into the paper. After all, if I did that, I would be no better than the Washington Examiner editorial team.

At the same time, policies not directly related to opioid use or deaths may affect
these outcomes. An important potential example are state laws that legalize the
consumption and retail sale of medical or recreational marijuana. 1 Prior to 1999, the first
year analyzed below, three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) had legalized
medical marijuana, but none permitted retail sales through dispensaries. By the end of 2019,
the last year studied, 33 states had legalized medical cannabis, 29 with medical dispensaries
in place, 11 states permitted recreational marijuana, and eight of these states had operating
retail dispensaries.


A rapidly growing body of scholarship examines the relationship between marijuana
legalization and various aspects of public health. 

                                                                                             * * *

There has been more limited study of its effects on opioid-related outcomes such as prescribing behavior
(Bradford and Bradford 2016; Bradford et al. 2018; Wen and Hockenberry 2018; McMichael,
Van Horn, and Viscusi 2020) and admissions to substance abuse treatment programs,
emergency departments, or hospitals (Chu 2015; Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson 2018;
Conyers and Ayres 2020; Jayawardhana and Fernandez 2021).

Finally, researchers have examined how marijuana legalization is related to opioid
deaths. These studies, some of which are summarized in the next section, while not
voluminous, have been influential. Particularly prominent is Bachhuber et al.’s (2014)
conclusion that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level
opioid overdose mortality rates” (p. 1668). This study has been widely cited (over 760
Google Scholar citations as of February 2022) and has played an important role in
arguments that led some states to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for opioid use
disorder (Shover et al. 2020).  However, as discussed below, these findings turn out not to
be robust to changes in the analysis period, with subsequent research yielding ambiguous
findings.

 

And there it is.

I didn’t answer the question that I was looking to answer earlier, but I found the purpose of the study. The goal of which seems less about questioning the harmlessness of cannabis legalization, and more about cautioning that more study is required in terms of utilizing medicinal cannabis therapy for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Or maybe, utilizing cannabis as a method of treating opioid misuse disorder?

I’m not a doctor, so take this for what you will.

Since we’re this deep in the paper, we may as well explore some of their findings in this area.

 

The current study provides more definitive information on the relationship between
marijuana legalization and opioid deaths. We first show that prior empirical results are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls,
longer analysis periods and more correctly defined treatment variables results in less
favorable estimates or deleterious predicted effects of legal cannabis. We then present new
estimates, from generalized differences-in-differences (DiD) and event study (ES) models,
that incorporate more recent data and the improvements developed in our replication and
extension of previous research.


These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available
through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid death rates. The estimates for
recreational marijuana while less reliable – probably because most such policies have been
only recently enacted and in a lower number of states than for medical marijuana – also
suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater opioid mortality,
relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

There is also suggestive evidence of
heterogeneity across demographic groups, with stronger deleterious recreational marijuana
effects for males, nonwhites, and relatively young adults than for their counterparts. Retail
cannabis sales also likely increase deaths involving non-opioid drugs such as stimulants and
sedatives. Finally, we indicate that more favorable findings previously observed when
analyzing deaths from 1999-2010 may reflect idiosyncratic and unreliable findings when
considering short time periods rather than, as suggested by some researchers, changes over
time in the stringency of the regulatory approaches.

 

Given this observation, we now know for sure that this is the paper that the Examiner editorial team was referencing. And the observation makes me think of a whole new hypothesis/guess for the correlation. People that are inclined to utilize or necessitate the consumption of medicinal or recreational marijuana are also likely to be open to seeking other substances. Though no line is drawn to chronic pain, mental health or any other variable, these variables tend to be a common throughline to drug-seeking behaviour, no matter what the substance.

I recall the Washington Examiner article I opened with bringing up the cannabis as a gateway drug argument when considering all of this data. What they fail to note is that many people who got slash get addicted to opioids didn’t even start out as typical drug users. Some may not have even touched cannabis once in their lives (or if they did, not for a VERY long time).

Many people in the past decade or so suffered some sort of injury and were prescribed some form of an opioid to help with pain relief. Unknown to these patients (who put their trust in the doctors and pharmaceutical companies within the US medical system), profitability was often pushed at all costs when it came to selling opioid medications. While far from an exhaustive list, Insys Therapeutics and Perdue Pharma are 2 very egregious examples of this malpractice in action.

While not mentioned by the Washington Examiner article or in the paper they cited (at least not in the pages I referenced), all of this plays into the outcomes we are looking at.

Though simple minds like easy-to-digest conclusions, humans are very messy as far as all things medical, physical and mental are concerned. One could say that it is one of the biggest drawbacks of being human. We’re all complex, but our understandings are often extremely simplistic. Not a good recipe for a complex society that is evolving on a daily (if not hourly!) basis.

But THAT is a whole other topic.

Bachhuber et al. (2014), mentioned above, used public-use National Vital Statistics
System (NVSS) data from 1999-2010 to examine the relationship between medical marijuana
legalization (MML) and opioid deaths.  Their estimates suggest that MML reduced age-

adjusted opioid analgesic mortality by almost 25% and a broader measure of opioid deaths
by 23%, in models with state and year fixed effects, although with some attenuation when
state time trends were also controlled for. However, this result is sensitive to the analysis
period. Shover et al. (2019) replicated Bachhuber’s analysis and obtain a similar 21%
reduction over the 1999-2010 timespan, but they also demonstrate that the relationship
reverses when extending the investigation through 2017, with medical cannabis legalization
predicting a 23% increase in prescription opioid deaths over this longer period.

Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson’s (2018) innovation is to distinguish between the
legalization of medical marijuana and the availability of retail sales to qualified patients
through authorized medical marijuana dispensaries (MMD). Using non-public NVSS data,
they confirm Bachhuber’s (2014) negative relationship between legalization of medical
marijuana and opioid deaths from 1999-2010 but, consistent with Shover et al. (2019), show
that the effects weaken and become statistically insignificant when extending the period
through 2013. However, their key finding is that the availability of medical marijuana sales
through retail dispensaries is associated with a 28% reduction in deaths involving
prescription opioids or heroin, relative to states without legal cannabis.

 

The analysis of the data from 1999 thru 2010 and 2013 makes sense given that the opioid epidemic really started to take off in the early 2010s. As does the noted drop in opioid fatalities in localities with a dispensary since people with the option are more likely to try alternatives (such as CBD, or normal THC) in their pursuit of pain relief. Law-abiding people outside of areas with dispensaries are more likely to follow the law and thus take a prescription from their medical doctor. A prescription which is likely to involve an opioid medication.

Keep in mind that not all prescriptions for opioids are unnecessary and that not all doctors prescribing them are malicious. Just as the public was, many doctors were lied to in terms of the potential harms of the medications they were prescribing, often learning the hard way that their attempt to help patients only lead to their ultimate detriment. The opioid crisis has many victims, and the good ethical people of the medical establishment are one of them.

Using similar methods and data for 1999-2017, Chan, Burkhardt and Flyer (2020),
add controls for the legalization of recreational marijuana (RML), as well as corresponding
dispensaries (RMD). In their preferred specification, which limits analysis to 28 states, the
coefficient on recreational marijuana dispensaries is -0.23 and significant at the 10 percent
level, which they interpret to imply a 21% decrease in opioid death rates. 5 However, this
conclusion depends critically on the counterfactual comparison. Specifically, the
corresponding RML coefficient is 0.19, implying that while RMD reduces predicted opioid

mortality rates by 21% compared to an otherwise equivalent state that legalized recreational
marijuana but without retail sales, the decrease is just 4% relative to one not allowing any
type of recreational cannabis.
In recent work, Sabia et al. (2021) uses data from 2000-2019 to examine how the
legalization of recreational marijuana relates to a variety of outcomes, including mortality
rates. They provide suggestive evidence of beneficial effects, but the estimates attenuate
and frequently become statistically insignificant or detrimental with the inclusion of more
comprehensive controls or if recreational marijuana sales, rather than legalization, is used
as the treatment variable. They also do not control for the legalization of medical marijuana
in any of their models, so that the counterfactual combines states without legal marijuana
and those allowing medical cannabis.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

 

I’m going to end my analysis of the paper here, finding little need to go further. Though I ended up going down many tangential rabbit holes, I feel like I’ve made it clear that the goal of the paper is very different from the goal of the Washington Examiners’ interpretation of it. It’s no wonder they didn’t link directly to the document.

Speaking of the OP article . . .

 

That may be somewhat disturbing, but the details appear even more devilish. The study importantly addresses earlier results, based on data from 1999 to 2010, that had seemed to suggest a more beneficial effect. It turns out, though, that the results abruptly changed. If you include data from 2010 to 2017, the period when medical and/or recreational marijuana legalization began in earnest in the states, the results swing from a 21% reduction in opioid deaths to a 23% increase.

The results are complex, but the study undercuts a key claim of marijuana legalization proponents who argue that marijuana is a harmless substance that causes a cheap, temporary high and nothing more.

Here, the relationship between cannabis and opioid deaths is interesting in that it reinforces a much-mocked description of marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Different drug habits might well be related in ways we do not yet understand.

 

1.) Notice that nothing is mentioned of the massive increase in opioid prescriptions in the 1999-2017 timeframe. One would seem that would be an important factor to consider.

Unless you don’t care about context.

2.) Only idiotic marijuana proponents claim it to merely be a harmless, cheap high. The associations between mental health complications and lung health are well known.

3.) As explored earlier, the gateway drug argument, in this case, is stupid. The opioid epidemic didn’t become the massive epidemic it is now just because of stoners moving up the pharmacological spectrum to better shit.

Again, context matters. Well, unless you are a right-wing rag with an agenda.

 

And of course, this is not the only pitfall associated with marijuana use that marijuana campaigners work hard to minimize. For example, habitual marijuana use as late as one’s mid-20s can cause permanent brain damage. That’s because it prevents proper development of the frontal cortex, which the American Psychological Association describes as one of the last regions of the brain to develop fully. This brain structure is “critical to planning, judgment, decision-making, and personality.”

 

For once, we have a link. And it seems to bare out what is being communicated.

Indeed, a number of studies have found evidence of brain changes in teens and young adults who smoke marijuana. In 2013, Rocío Martín-Santos, MD, PhD, at the University of Barcelona, and colleagues reviewed 43 studies of chronic cannabis use and the brain. They found consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users. Only eight of those studies focused on adolescents, but the findings from those studies suggested that both structural and functional brain changes emerge soon after adolescents start using the drug. Those changes may still be evident after a month of abstaining from the drug, the researchers reported (PLOS ONE, 2013).

Some of those brain abnormalities have been linked to cognitive differences. Gruber found that regular, heavy marijuana users — those who reported smoking five of the last seven days, and more than 2,500 times in their lives — had damage to their brains’ white matter, which helps enable communication among neurons. Those white matter changes were correlated with higher impulsivity, she found, particularly in people who began smoking before age 16 (Psychopharmacology, 2013).

Much of Gruber’s work compares heavy, regular marijuana users who began before and after age 16. Her results suggest there’s greater risk in starting young. Compared with users who began after 16, early-onset smokers made twice as many mistakes on tests of executive function, which included planning, flexibility, abstract thinking and inhibition of inappropriate responses. As adults, those who started using before 16 reported smoking nearly 25 times per week, while those who started later smoked half as often, about 12 times per week. The early-onset smokers also reported smoking an average of nearly 15 grams each week, versus about 6 grams for their late-onset counterparts (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2012).

Gruber’s participants had reported using marijuana at least five times in the past week. But other labs have found structural differences in the brains of less frequent users. Jodi Gilman, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine, and colleagues used MRI to look for brain changes in 18- to 25-year-olds who smoked marijuana at least once per week, but were not dependent on the drug.

Compared with nonusers, the smokers had changes in the shape, volume and gray matter density of two brain regions associated with addiction: the nucleus accumbens (which plays a role in motivation, pleasure and reward processing) and the amygdala (a region involved in memory, emotion and decision-making). Participants who smoked more often had more significant differences (Journal of Neuroscience, 2014).

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain

 

However . . .

 

But the case against marijuana isn’t closed. Other studies have failed to turn up evidence that marijuana use results in brain abnormalities. In one recent example, Barbara Weiland, PhD, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues attempted to replicate Gilman’s study in adolescents and adults who smoked marijuana daily. But Weiland’s team argued that previous studies, including Gilman’s, failed to adequately control for alcohol use by the participants. After carefully matching for alcohol intake in the control and experimental subjects, the researchers failed to find physical differences in the nucleus acumbens or the amygdala of daily marijuana smokers (Journal of Neuroscience, 2015).

On the other hand, says Lisdahl, Weiland’s subjects were primarily male — and some research suggests females might be more sensitive to marijuana’s effects during adolescence.

In other cases, too, the evidence against marijuana is frustratingly mixed. While some studies have found increased risk for mood disorders and psychotic symptoms among marijuana users, for instance, a new study by Jordan Bechtold, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues found that chronic use among teenage boys did not raise the risk of later depression, lung cancer, asthma or psychotic symptoms (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2015).

 

Context. It matters. But on the bright side, the researchers are doing what they do best and attempting to close the information gap.

In hopes of painting a clearer picture of marijuana’s potential risks to youth, NIDA plans to launch the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study later this year. The prospective longitudinal study will follow 10,000 individuals across the United States over a decade, starting when they’re 9 or 10. “The idea is to look at what these kids are like before they start using substances, and then follow over time what happens to their brains,” Weiss says.

 

With that out of the way, let’s see what else the Examiner editorial has for us to sus out.

 

This means that use among teenagers, which is a lot more common than people would like to admit, and even use among young adults has deleterious and permanent health effects.

 

The only people that don’t want to admit that teenagers use (or are prone to use, at very least) cannabis are those with their heads up their ass. I suspect that this group overlaps with the Washington Examiners’ audience base, but of course, this is just a hypothesis.

One legislative action that tends to decrease teen cannabis use, however, is legalization. Selling cannabis through age-restricted dispensaries.

Whoda thought. Forcing sales through underground sources that don’t require an ID for the purchase of cannabis results in many more teenagers accessing the drug.

 

This is something to remember when these campaigners come to your state and try to sell you on the idea of cannabis as something completely harmless. One need not exaggerate the dangers of marijuana to acknowledge that they at least exist.

 

And YET, here we are.

 

Children’s Photos And Social Media – Childhood Exploitation?

Today, we will be exploring an issue that I’ve had on the backburner for a number of years, but of which a fairly recent Pitchfork article (written by Jazz Monroe) and a court finding brought back to the forefront of my mind.

 

Naked Nirvana Baby’s Nevermind Pornography Lawsuit Dismissed

Spencer Elden had claimed that the cover constituted child sexual exploitation

 

As you can see, the January 13th deadline has long since passed. Though this article was published on January 4th (and came to my attention on January 5th), the past month has been a busy one, with me only coming back to this now (February 2ed). Nonetheless, the article presents us with a number of paths that we can pursue.

1.) Did Spencer Elden play along with the fame/infamy that came along with the photograph?

2.) Did Spencer file another appeal before the January 13th deadline?

To answer the first question, yes he did. Twice. For both the 15 and 25 year anniversaries of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind.

 

Nirvana baby recreates iconic album cover 25 years later

The naked swimming baby from the cover of the groundbreaking Nirvana album “Nevermind” re-enacted the image for the record’s 25th anniversary — this time wearing clothes.

Spencer Elden, 25, wanted to go au naturel when he made a splash to honor the legendary grunge band, he told The Post.

“I said to the photographer, ‘Let’s do it naked.’ But he thought that would be weird, so I wore my swim shorts,” said Elden, an artist from LA.

 

     * * *

Elden did the same thing 10 years ago, in honor of the album’s 15th anniversary.

 

https://nypost.com/2016/09/23/nirvana-baby-recreates-iconic-album-cover-25-years-later/

 

The article also notes that his parents were paid $200 back in 1991 for allowing the photograph of their son to be taken. Boy, did they get screwed over. Though the article also notes that Spencer accepted $200 from a photographer to again recreate the iconic photograph back in 2016.

Dude . . .

As for whether or not Spencer followed through with the appeal, it appears that he did in fact refile the suit.

 

The man who appeared as a naked baby on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album has filed a new lawsuit alleging the image is child porn — just weeks after a judge tossed his original case.

Spencer Elden, 30, filed the new complaint against Kurt Cobain’s estate and Nirvana’s surviving members in California federal court on Thursday.

The new lawsuit includes a declaration from the album’s graphic designer that Elden’s lawyers argue proves the band and record label, Geffen Records, deliberately sought to display baby Elden’s penis and exploit the image for commercial gain.

Elden claims in the lawsuit that he has suffered “lifelong damages” as a result of having his naked body plastered on the 1991 album cover.

https://nypost.com/2022/01/14/naked-nirvana-nevermind-baby-spencer-elden-refiles-dismissed-lawsuit/

 

Though this has yet to make its way through the court system, I have my doubts that he is going to get any further with his case. After all, there is evidence in the public record of him, in fact, embracing his unique (though arguably exploitative) history.

Do I doubt that the image has in fact closed some doors in terms of his pursuits?  No.

Do I think that the image has bolstered far more than hindered his future prospects? Yes.

Though this lawsuit comes across as a sign of him running into hard times recently, it’s hard to believe that the iconic photo has not helped him in his modelling career at least a little. I mean, even though it isn’t mentioned, the guy plays up his very similar looks to Kurt Cobain by keeping his hair long! One would think that someone who is traumatized by their association to such a phenomenon would do everything they can to distance themselves from it. As opposed to leaning into it.

I may be missing things in my critique. Maybe there is context to be found that isn’t at all obvious. But even though this does in fact seem like a fruitless lawsuit (meritless? THAT is definitely debatable outside of the legal framework), I see Spencer doing well for himself with or without embracing his Nevermind infamy.

While it looks like Spencer sealed his legal fate decades ago, this article does in fact raise a very interesting legal situation regarding the use of social media. At the same time, we will explore a very drastic difference between how past generations stored precious memories, and how modern generations do so.

Being 33, I am old enough to have parents that had albums full of childhood photos and VHS tapes filled with various childhood events. When I think of these forms of storage, they are about as secure as you can get in terms of privacy. Aside from the people tasked with developing the photos or transferring the video to VHS, the photos never left your possession.
The Robin Williams thriller One Hour Photo (2002) serves as a brilliant time capsule in terms of the unlikely circumstances in which your privacy may be breached when it comes to photo prints.  

We all know where things went from here. First the transition to digital cameras, and seemingly a year later, to phones. And along with the transition from digital to phones also came a transition of where much of this material was/is stored. From various media kept in and around the home, to public-facing social media platforms or private-oriented cloud servers elsewhere (potentially not even in the same country). Since the amount of available space for storing this personal content has increased to essentially infinity in many cases, the amount of material many of us are uploading has also hugely increased. Once reserved for special moments like holidays or birthday parties, these days any time is a good time to share a moment. Anytime, anywhere.

Being responsible for their children until the age of 18, many parents now document nearly every waking moment of their children’s existence and share it on various social media entities. Though some apps only make this material available for a short time, it may sit up on other platforms essentially forever. Due to legally binding TOS agreements that are agreed to upon parents signing up for various services, the child may well have lost control of their right to privacy before they even reach the age at which they can talk. Parents consent on their behalf to social media terms of service which claim ownership over any content they upload, and thus they are on the way to losing any autonomy over their photographic likeness before they are even out of diapers.

Though the same can now be said of a good number of my childhood photos (most have been scanned and now are posted online), the big difference was that I (for the most part) knew about this and had a choice in the matter. Of course, even this isn’t foolproof (I’m sure we all have a family member with a tendency of oversharing). But at least I am aware of it, and (at least for the most part) had the chance to put a stop to this public display of my likeness if I so choose. It’s a privilege that isn’t going to be available to an entire generation that has (or IS) growing up within this increasingly digitally saturated paradigm.

Though this would include the Zoomers of gen Z (a generation that has for the most part embraced this technology, it just being a part of their everyday life as they grew up), I’m talking of the Alphas at this point. Raised in the social media paradigm, given the current status quo, they will never have a choice of whether or not they want to opt-in or out. Because the choice has already been made for them, long before they ever were conscious that they even had a choice.

This brings me to a realization of ourselves. In a sense, none of us have the choice to opt-out at this point either.

Many people make hay of doing things like closing Facebook accounts and leaving other social media sites. While I don’t doubt that it looks like you are making a difference (be it in the context of yourself, or in the wider world), one has to question the effectiveness of such actions. Both because of how monopolized many aspects of online life have become (how many people in your circle use Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp?), and because you don’t need to have an account in many of these platforms for them to track your activities online.

While I am venturing into territory that is somewhat off-topic to where I began (online tracking VS choosing to control your identity and likeness online), they both intersect in the sense that we have very little control of our data once we choose (or have the choice made for us by proxy) to make it available for whatever reason. Consider some time in the future in which you may want to completely erase your online identity for any reason. You can delete photos and social media profiles, but you don’t have much control of what lives on in the back-end servers of these companies. After all, consumer data is the gold in this evolving realm in which we live.

Or to step outside of the social media framework, what about a company that you dealt with in passing? A company that you no longer deal with?

For example, a foreign airline that you gave your credit card, passport and other information for a trip that you are fairly certain to never make again. A hotel chain that you may or may not visit again. Even a phone company that you may have previously dealt with, or never dealt with but still shared personal information with (rejected due to inadequate credit?).

While many companies quietly hoard consumer data for undetermined amounts of time, I can easily provide examples of data breaches exposing such practices within the industries listed above.

Air India

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlypage/2021/05/23/air-india-data-breach-hackers-access-personal-details-of-45-million-customers/?sh=3faf40db51a2

 

Sita (Singapure Airlines, Luftunsa, United and Others)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/05/airline-data-hack-hundreds-of-thousands-of-star-alliance-passengers-details-stolen

While it should be noted that the SITA breach didn’t seem to expose much outside of frequent flyer numbers, many of these breaches (including that of Air India) tend to contain much more information.

Starwood Hotels Group AKA Marriot Hotels

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54748843

 

T-Mobile

https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/28/22857619/t-mobile-cyberattack-data-breach-december-2021-cpni-sim-swap

 

While the presence of likeness photographs living for eternity on social media platforms (anyone still have an active myspace account that was long since forgotten about?) and zombie consumer data hoarded by various companies may seem like 2 different things, they are in fact connected in the lack of control we have in reining in either. As long as companies are not held to high standards in terms of both data retention policies and cyber security, WE are the ones that will continue to pay the price. Given that the datasets that companies will be collecting are only going to diversify in the coming years (biometric data?), this aught be an issue on everyone’s radar.

There is a reason why I would never send a sample of my DNA to a private company for ancestry testing (and I would hope no one close to me would, either). Aside from the results being questionable to begin with, what happens to the DNA information afterward?

At the moment, it’s a convenient repository for police agencies to utilize in investigations.  But what about in the future?

What will your DNA be worth?

 

 

“Marijuana Users Face Increased Risk Of Deadly Stroke” / “Potent “Skunk” Causes Schizophrenia” – Bringing Context To Mainstream Media Cannabis Reporting

Today, we are going to look at 2 articles that crossed my path recently on the subject of cannabis. One examines the results of a new cannabis study, the other YET AGAIN rehashes the same old prohibition talking points that brought us to where we are in the first place. But this one has a slightly different flavour since it is out of the UK.

We will start with the cannabis study, which has been widely reported using a similar baity headline to mine. The following was published on a platform called Medical Xpress and written by someone at the American Heart Association. 

 

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-marijuana-users-deadly-complication-rare.html

Marijuana users’ risk of deadly complication doubles after rare type of bleeding stroke

Among people with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) stroke, a type of bleeding stroke, recent marijuana users were more than twice as likely to develop a dangerous complication that can result in death or greater disability, according to new research published today in Stroke, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

The study is the largest to examine the impact of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component (change of a person’s mental state) of marijuana on complications after an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (a rare but severe form of stroke).

In an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, a weakened and bulging part of a blood vessel bursts on the surface of the brain (called a ruptured aneurysm), resulting in bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue that covers it. This type of stroke can be devastating, resulting in neurological disability in about 66% of people and death (during the follow up period) in about 40%. The immediate treatment of an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage focuses on stopping and preventing further bleeding. However, despite treatment, in the 14 days following an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, many patients may develop worsening symptoms (such as speech problems or difficulty moving). This is caused by blood from the initial stroke irritating blood vessels, causing them to constrict enough to cut off the blood supply to a portion of the brain (called a vasospasm), resulting in more brain damage. This complication, called delayed cerebral ischemia, is a leading cause of death and disability after an aSAH stroke.

“We’re all vulnerable to a bleeding stroke or a ruptured aneurysm, however, if you’re a routine marijuana user, you may be predisposed to a worse outcome from a stroke after the rupture of that aneurysm,” said Michael T. Lawton, M.D., senior author of the study and president and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

There is no doubt about it, that is a scary finding on its face. But many conclusions can be scary without proper context.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 1,000 patients who had been treated for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage at Barrow Neurological Institute between January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2019. All patients had been treated to stop the bleeding either via 1) open surgery to clip off the base of the aneurysm, or, 2) noninvasively, by threading a slim tube through a blood vessel to the base of the aneurysm and releasing coils that fold to fill in the space and provide a barrier to further bleeding.

Urine toxicology screening was performed on all patients admitted with ruptured aneurysms. The study compared the occurrence of delayed cerebral ischemia in 46 people (average age of 47 years; 41% female) who tested positive for THC (the component of cannabis, also known as marijuana, that induces a high) and 968 people (average age 56 years, 71% female) who tested negative for THC. A positive urine screen for THC reflects cannabis exposure within three days for a single use to within approximately 30 days for frequent heavy use.

The recent cannabis users did not have significantly larger aneurysms or worse stroke symptoms when admitted to the hospital, and they were not more likely to have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors than patients who screened negative for THC. However, recent cannabis users were significantly more likely to have also tested positive for other substances, including cocaine, methamphetamines and tobacco, compared to the patients who screened negative for THC.

Among all participants, 36% developed delayed cerebral ischemia; 50% were left with moderate to severe disability; and 13.5% died.

After adjusting for several patient characteristics as well as recent exposure to other illicit substances, patients who tested positive for THC at last follow up were found to be:

  • 2.7 times more likely to develop delayed cerebral ischemia;
  • 2.8 times more likely to have long-term moderate to severe physical disability; and
  • 2.2 times more likely to die.

 

And, there is our context. Along with the information that makes the headline of this article incredibly misleading. It would seem that this isn’t just a story about marijuana and THC, this is also a story about many illicit drugs. But I’m guessing that “Study Shows Risk Of Deadly Bleeding Stroke Complication Doubled In Illicit Drug Users” doesn’t have the same bite as using a term that is highly algorithmically favourable. As the new saying goes, if it clicks, it sticks.

 

“When people come in with ruptured aneurysms, and they have a history of cannabis use or are positive on a toxicology screen, it should raise a red flag to the treating team that they are at higher risk of vasospasm and ischemic complication,” Lawton said. “Of all the substances detected in the toxicology screen, only cannabis raised the risk of delayed cerebral ischemia. Cocaine and meth are hypertensive drugs, so they are likely related to the actual rupture but not expected to have an impact on vasospasm.”

The study does not specifically address how cannabis raises the risk of vasospasm and delayed cerebral ischemia. Lawton noted, “Cannabis may impair oxygen metabolization and energy production within cells. When stressed by a ruptured aneurysm, the cells are much more vulnerable to changes that affect the delivery of oxygen and the flow of blood to the brain.”

The study’s limitations include being conducted retrospectively at a single institution and not being a head-to-head analysis of people who use marijuana and those who don’t.

The researchers are currently conducting follow-up in the laboratory to better understand THC-related risks that may impact aneurysm formation and rupture. They also urge further research to study the impact of various doses of THC on stroke complications

 

Here, we finally learn the vector in which cannabis plays in this medical condition, at least allegedly. We also finally learn the limitations of the study, and the steps being taken in attempting to replicate the results in a scientific manner. Though I question how many people made it this far into the article before clicking off and potentially sharing it to everyone in their reach.

As is often the case, the author of the study urge caution when it comes to showcasing the results of their work. But care is futile in the face of creating attention-grabbing headlines.

“The current study is not at the level of science of a randomized controlled trial, but it is a rigorous statistical analysis involving more than 1,000 patients, so the results are important and add to what we already know about possible adverse effects of marijuana use,” said Robert L. Page II, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., FAHA, chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s 2020 cannabis statement and professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and the department of physical medicine/rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado.

 

In conclusion, as with many things, more research has to be conducted to properly confirm this finding. When that happens, hopefully, the media will be just as eager to report that result as they were to run with this headline.

I won’t hold my breath.

 

                                                                                                                                                                    * * *

Our next article is out of the UK, published by the Daily Mail and written by Laurence Dollimore. I don’t need to explain what we are getting into since the headline itself makes it perfectly clear.

In 2 words . . . oh boy.

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10381531/Liberal-parents-let-kids-smoke-cannabis-warned-induce-schizophrenia-like-psychosis.html

Liberal parents who let their children smoke cannabis are warned that the drug is causing up to a THIRD of psychosis cases in London and strong ‘skunk’ can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms

  • Sir Robin Murray has sounded the alarm over the use of highly-potent ‘skunk’ 
  • Expert said drug is behind 30 per cent of his psychosis patients in south London
  • King’s College London professor runs clinic dedicated to psychosis caused by cannabis

Highly-potent cannabis is not being taken seriously enough by some liberal-minded parents, who would rather see their teens smoke pot than drink alcohol, a top psychologist has warned.

Sir Robin Murray, 77, a professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London, said around a third of the psychosis patents he sees at his practice in south London are caused by use of high-strength skunk.

The expert said the cases mostly involve young people, who often suffer from debilitating paranoia and hallucinations.

 

Gotta love a population that is seemingly fine with a publication publicly shaming parents for making a parenting choice. And of course, this is aimed specifically at liberal parents.
Makes me wonder what would happen if a psychologist similarly came out and publicly shamed conservative parents for indoctrinating religious dogmas into children before they are at an age to question things for themselves. If it got covered at all, something tells me that the tone would be VERY different than this.

Political biases aside, however, the medical issue is indeed important. Though the solution as proposed is really, REALLY stupid. But, more on that later.

 

It comes as London is set to relax drug laws by no longer prosecuting young people caught in possession of cannabis – offering them educational courses on the drug’s dangers instead.

But results from European neighbours offer an insight into the potential pitfalls of such a policy – with Portugal seeing a huge surge in cannabis-induced psychosis after it decriminalised the drug in 2001.

According to research in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, the number of hospital admissions in the country with a primary diagnosis of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia stemming from cannabis use soared by nearly 30-fold, from 20 a year in 2010 to nearly 590 in 2015 – and almost 90 per cent of these patients were men, whose average age was 30.

 

It is in fact true that the number of cannabis-induced psychiatric conditions did in fact take an exponential uptick following decriminalization. That is certainly a statistic not to be taken lightly. However, Portugal is now not the only cannabis-neutral nation-state for which we can draw data. Canada has been legalized since 2018, which should make it another source of good data. 

This brings me to the very big difference between Canadian drug policy and Pourtagise drug policy. Legalization vs decriminalization.

In Canada, though the bureaucratic hoops that one has to jump through are rigid to the point of being ridiculous, the sale of regulated marijuana to 19-year-olds and older is completely legal. Since it is regulated, the THC and CBD content is closely monitored so the issue of newcomers using exclusively extremely potent drugs has become less of an issue. Childhood cannabis poisonings are indeed up from that they used to be, but frankly . . . obviously. There is far more cannabis (in particular, cannabis edibles) around then there has ever been previously. And not all parents or caregivers are going to know to keep their stash safe. Though that is indeed extremely irresponsible, how many people got into their parent’s liquor cabinets without them knowing?  

Though care is certainly urged in regards to pharmaceuticals and cannabis, alcohol deserves the same treatment (if this is the approach we are to take). If telling alhocol consumers to Drink Responsibly is considered a reasonable policy, why not consume cannabis responsibly?

This is all in contrast to decriminalization, which leaves the cultivation of cannabis in the hands of the same underground producers, but eliminates the legal risk to the actual drug users themselves. Or to put it another way, it leaves highly potent cannabis (the type that a market made up of primarily high tolerance regular users) as pretty much the only cannabis option available. Meaning that even novice users end up essentially jumping off the deep end without experience should they ever do what is human and get curious about this plant that everyone is talking about.
Also worth remembering is access to this cannabis is governed strictly by the moral compass of the dealer selling it. If they have no issue with selling to a minor, then scoring weed can be just as easy as buying a candy bar. While it is far from impossible for minors to access regulated substances like alcohol or tobacco, there are still more barriers to clear than just handing a criminal some cash and walking away with a stash.

Earlier, I had mentioned that Canada may be a good source when it comes to tracking cannabis-induced psychiatric episodes being we were the trailblazer when it came to opening up the industry on a federal level. Back in the days before legalization, I even recall an episode of marketplace exploring just this topic. Given that 3 years have passed, it feels like a good time to check and see if the fears were justified.

The following article (published on January 2ed, 2019) certainly is attempting to sound the alarm.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/mental-health-expert-warns-of-significant-increase-in-cannabis-induced-psychosis-1.4233512

Right off the bat, there was a rise in cannabis-related behavioural and mental health-related hospitalizations between 2006 and 2015.

Highlights

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders in Canada rose from 2.11 to 5.18 per 100 000.

  • Males consistently accounted for over two-thirds of all hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders.

  • Young people aged 15 to 24 years represented the greatest proportion of hospitalizations (between 49% and 58%) of any age group.

  • Over the entire study period, psychotic disorder was the most common clinical condition among hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders, and accounted for 48.0% of cannabis-related hospitalizations in 2015.

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations due to cannabis-related psychotic disorder tripled, from 0.80 to 2.49 per 100,000

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2021004/article/00001-eng.htm

 

These findings make perfect sense since this was the timeframe in which cannabis (more, cannabis legalization) was slowly entering the public psyche and changing long-held attitudes towards the drug. At the same time, the debut of shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad helped bring the often gritty underworld of drug prohibition into the forefront of popular culture. Moreso Breaking Bad of course (while I still enjoy Weeds, it was primarily a comedy at heart).

As for the data I seek, sources at the moment seem rather scarce. This isn’t really surprising since it has only been around 3 years (notice that the last dataset was taken from a period spanning a decade). Though I also can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I’ve not come across more hair on fire articles is the ready availability of less potent strains in the pot shops. Though all cannabis was largely the same to me when I was viewing it as an outsider, the differences became more apparent once I started actually participating in the legal market. In fact, some people I know have even commented that they avoid much of the legal market since it demonstrates the opposite problem that the illicit market does . . . it’s aimed primarily at the novice and lite recreational user. Most of the offerings are far too weak for their raised tolerance levels.

While a big part of this stems from the profit motive (appealing to new and lite recreational users), regulations also play a role in this. While I am not sure offhand what the limits are for flower, I know the THC maximum for edibles and drinkables is 10mg. A level that is perfectly fine to send someone like me on a journey (as I found out last year), but a level that may well not work for others. Though you can of course increase the dose by buying more (up to 30 grams per transaction), this can get costly VERY quickly.

While I was and still am of the opinion that the legal market will eventually drive out the illicit market (I’m sure hooch peddlers didn’t go away overnight after the lifting of prohibition), work still needs to be done to get the paranoid and uninformed regulators out of the way. Though I understand that the heavy-handed approach is owing to the lack of research available on cannabis (and people’s overall lack of knowledge of the substance), these roadblocks will continue to prop up the illicit market so long as they exist.

Considering that this is a hindrance that isn’t shared by other substances (such as alcohol or tobacco), what of it federal regulators?

 

Sir Robin suggested the high number of cases in his practice are now impacting the facility’s ability to care for patients.

He told the Times: ‘I think we’re now 100 per cent sure that cannabis is one of the causes of a schizophrenia-like psychosis.

‘If we could abolish the consumption of skunk we would have 30 per cent less patients [in south London] and we might make a better job of looking after the patients we have.’

 

We have tried that. According to your very own findings, it didn’t work. How many more patients do you have to get inundated with before this flaw in your logic becomes apparent?

You are not helping the cause by this way of thinking. YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE!

 

Sir Robin works at the first NHS clinic in England to specifically treat cannabis smokers suffering from psychosis.

Running from Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, south London, patients are typically seen for a minimum of 15 weeks, with treatment including one-on-one sessions with specialist therapists.

The aim of the clinic is to first help cannabis users wean themselves off the drug before helping them to manage without it – helped by weekly group therapy sessions with fellow patients and experts.

Sir Robin has praised the clinic, reporting it to be a success, even when services moved online due to the Covid pandemic.

It comes after he was part of the first team of researchers who proved a link between cannabis and mental illness among teenagers in the early 2000s – with many papers backing up his findings ever since.

Only two years ago, a study found that south London had the highest incidence of psychosis in Europe – and cannabis was said to be the largest contributing factor.

The investigation, overseen by Sir Robin and published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that those who smoked high-potency skunk were five times more likely to develop psychosis than those who did not smoke it.

According to the findings, rates of psychosis in London could be slashed by 30 per cent if skunk was taken off the streets.

 

You can tell someone’s seriousness in tackling a given issue by the seriousness in the solutions they propose. If skunk were abolished from the streets, hurray . . . PROBLEM SOLVED!

Get serious. Clearly, that has not worked because THERE IS NO ABOLISHING SKUNK. It is already abolished. And yet the problem still persists. Hence, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider what has worked. Since the decriminalization model has problems (according to your own argument), how about the legalization model?

Though the dataset is indeed young for this model, it is still there.

While it has been noted that higher instances of cannabis use associated with legalization will likely result in more instances of cannabis-induced mental or behavioural disorders,  this isn’t as much of an “AAAAHHHHH!” observation as it is a “DUH!” observation.

The more people who get licences and own vehicles, the more instances of drunk driving and speeding there will be. The more people that purchase alcohol, the more instances of alcohol poisoning there will be. While I am not discounting the need for research to close the gaps in knowledge that persist in cannabis research, bad outcomes are still far from the norm when it comes to the average cannabis experience. Therefore if we are not prohibiting alcohol and vehicles based on the small but very visible percentage that catches the headlines, the same should apply for cannabis.

Particularly when it is entirely possible to adjust some of the variables that are totally uncontrollable in both illegal and decriminalized frameworks. For example, age restrictions of legalized cannabis will help to keep skunk out of the hands of most children and teens. And regulation of potency and (most importantly) education in terms of the effects of this potency will go a long way towards keeping the very powerful stuff out of the hands of those unprepared for it.

THERE is your solution. As opposed to more standing aside and pissing into the wind and wondering why our knickers keep getting wet.

 

Despite its potentially harmful effects, Sir Robin welcomed London’s plans to end prosecution of young people found in possession of cannabis.

The policy, set to be adopted by the Metropolitan Police, would see carriers of the drug offered educational courses on its dangers.

But Sir Robin wants more clarification over the scheme.

He said: ‘My questions will be: where will they get the counsellors who know anything about risks of cannabis?

‘What will happen if they don’t accept the counselling or go back to cannabis use? 

‘And will it be accompanied by any education regarding the risks of cannabis — this is by far the most important thing.’

He added: ‘Because Lewisham is one of the proposed boroughs [where the scheme could first be introduced] we will be able to track the effects on psychiatric problems secondary to cannabis use — addiction, suicide attempts and psychosis.

‘But we need also to track road traffic accidents, street violence and visits to A&E departments for cannabis problems.’

Sir Robin said policy changes in other countries provided potential warnings for Britain.

In the state of Colorado in the US, there are now cannabis products available which contain more than 70 per cent THC – or tetrahydrocannabinol – the compound which gives users a high.

For comparison, traditional weed from the 1960s contained around 3 per cent or less THC, while the average in Europe and North America today is 10 to 15 per cent, according to an article by Sir Robin in JAMA Psychiatry.

 

It is amazing how attached these boomers are to out-of-date and overly destructive ideas of the past that just don’t work. While the support of decriminalization is a step in the right direction, education of the dangers of cannabis IS NOT!
Assuming that the Canadian education system is not all that different from the British system, we were made well aware of the dangers of drugs all through the process. So much so that the reality of the situation (at least when it came to cannabis) ended up casting doubt on almost everything I learned through the years from the curriculum. A big danger when it comes to people moving on to far more risky drugs than cannabis.

While it is good to make young people aware of the risks posed by drugs (including cannabis), fear-mongering doesn’t work. Scaring young people is not a solution, it is an old tactic that has proven futile. If you truly want to tackle this problem, start supporting cannabis legalization schemes and get some of the market variables back under regulated control.

 

Meanwhile, a study in Denmark found that alongside a rise in THC potency, cannabis-associated schizophrenia has increased by up to 400 per cent over the past two decades, reported the Times.

Sir Robin’s study in 2019 warned that 94 per cent of all cannabis available on the streets of London was in the form of skunk. 

Researchers from King’s College London studied 2,100 people in 11 cities in Europe and South America in the biggest study of its kind.

They found that the link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoid delusion was strongest in London and Amsterdam – the two cities where high-potency cannabis is most commonly available.

Sir Robin said at the time: ‘If you are going to legalise, unless you want to pay for a lot more psychiatric beds and a lot more psychiatrists then you need to devise a system in a way that will not increase the consumption and will not increase the potency. Because that is what has happened in the US states where there has been legalisation for recreational use.

 

1.) Prohibition is the reason why all of these problems are happening. Since these boomer types insist on playing hands-off as to their part in all of this, let’s make it crystal clear.

2.) While I am unsure of whether or not Colorado had a spike in cannabis-related psychiatric episodes post-legalization (and certainly post super-strong edibles availability), there is no way to not have the amount of cannabis use not rise post-legalization. It’s an incredibly stupid requirement to begin with since the key to arresting the problem is education and potency controls. While it is true that I don’t believe that potency limits are helpful, education of consumers IS helpful.

 

‘The critical question is whether medicinal use remains medicinal. The problem in California and Canada was that medicinal use became a synonym for recreational use.

‘You could go on the internet and tell a doctor, “I have headaches, I have back pain, I feel better if I have cannabis”. The main reason they legalised it was to try to control the amount of so-called medicinal use there, hoping that there would be a decrease in the use.’  

The research, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, found that skunk – with a THC level of more than 10 per cent – increased the odds of psychosis 4.8-fold in a person who smoked every day compared with someone who never used the drug. 

Using it more than once a week was less dangerous, but still increased the risk 1.6-fold.

 

Actually, the real goal of the Canadian government’s cannabis legalization was limiting youth access and reducing criminal involvement in the trade, according to this article. A goal that makes perfect sense since eliminating fake medicinal use by way of legalization is just stupid. How is easing access to cannabis going to drive usage rates down?

That is just stupid. Coming from a so-called doctor . . . Jesus Christ, stick to psychiatry.

Though my bias and education in this area tends to make fossil attitudes on the subject like these quite caustic to my well-being, not all cannabis critiques are this devoid of critical thought. The following post covers an analysis that I rather liked in both its informativeness and its honesty. Fear was never used, only information.

 

“Can Marijuana Cause Psychosis?” – (Psychology Today)

The sooner everyone begins to approach cannabis legislation and research with more emphasis on honesty and reality, the sooner it will become less of a vector for creating unwitting casualties. Until then, the chaos left in its unregulated wake is just as much on the heads of the academic proponents of the status quo (such as Sir Robin Murray!) as it is on the growers and dealers themselves.

Consider yourselves warned and informed.