Australia: Health Minister Says Marijuana as Dangerous as Heroin -- Calls for National Toughening of Laws 5/19/06
Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Health Christopher Pyne announced Monday that all state and territorial governments had signed on to a federal plan to create a tough, uniform set of marijuana laws as part of a crackdown on cannabis. In making the announcement, Pyne also made the bizarre claim that marijuana is "as dangerous" as hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Now that I've scotched the rumours about liquid drugs on ice and a mainstream smoker's cough, I feel it is time to take Christopher Pyne at his beady little word and follow the logic of his argument for spending $22 million of taxpayer's money on a national scourge.
If I am not mistaken, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health's assertion is that there is a link between its use and mental illness. I don't propose to bring up a chart to show the overlap of longterm and widespread usage with that of erratic behaviour and impaired learning; painstakingly investigate the cause and consequence of all those forms of irruption and compare and contrast them with those of cannabis-induced psychosis. That would be an argument against Pyne's position. It would be one of many that involve a dire shortage of used syringes, blank treachery, and dying in gutters. And all together too much work.
The public's choice for secondary Health spokesperson would have to know what he is talking about. Otherwise they wouldn't fork out so much money to have him tell them what was good for them.
But we can't just rest with the assertions that Mr Pyne has made without examining the essence of his claims. Since there are users who do not lapse into uncontrollable states and need to seek medical or psychiatric assistance, I invoke the principle of charity and assume that Pyne is not ignorant of this fact but has chosen his position because "some people with a disposition toward schizophrenia and similar will have their condition triggered by the use of cannabis". And this is where planes and nuts come into it.
You may have read the article in which a mother is trying to get nuts banned from commercial flights altogether because anaphylatic people can be affected just by having nuts in the vicinity. I don't wish to discuss the merits of her case in any great detail, but I do think it illustrates two relevant facts:
- [something ingested] possesses a harmful reaction in some people/physiologies and not in others;
- the rights of those who do not suffer a harmful reaction are different in kind yet have to be considered as well.
For the traveller who is used to wolfing down a bag of peanuts on their long flight, such a prohibition would be tantamount to banning smokers from pubs, or gamblers from the track.
Oh, but you argue, the nut gobblers are not being chastised for their consumption of cashews or their hoarding of hazelnuts; they must just check whose in the room before they tip the beer nuts into the bowl.
Sure, let's pursue this with the same zeal that the government prosecutes their war on "drugs" and set up nuthouses where you can chew in piece. Well now you've opened the floodgates
The Pyne Nut Project, named in honour of the crusader who logically agrees with the stance of no-nut, is no sooner off the ground than a group of angry celiacs demand to know why the same care is not exercised in labelling and protecting consumers from cereal grains. The Minister for (Faith-based) Health turning white at the thought of putting the beer-drinkin',sandwich-eatin' voters offside, even if they're not quite of his constituency. A few nuts here and there is no big deal but modern food consumption is fueled by flour power. The needs of a minority cannot affect the general wellbeing to this extent.
And if they don't in wheat beer and a processed loaf then they don't in packets of peanuts on planes and they don't in drugs that only initiate a psychotic episode in some people at certain times.
For that matter, if the Govt. really want to go down this path; this very slippery slope, they will need to keep an eye on iodine and albumen. Then, if you look down the list on those links, you see it is perfectly hopeless battle, because some of the foods that are actually very good for you are deadly to a small number of sufferers. Should we impose a plum ban when they are what keep the rest of the population healthy and regular? Hardly.