Saturday, January 19, 2013


National policies need to be about reducing the impact of illegal drugs on Scotland, not initiatives that could result in their wider use, writes Neil McKeganey

IN MONDAY’S report from the Westminster’s all-parliamentary group on drug policy reform, we have what has become the latest in a long line of calls for the legalisation of illegal drugs. For the advocates of drugs legalisation, the arguments seem disarmingly familiar and persuasive: our drug laws have failed to stem the flow of illegal drug use; many of those substances that are currently illegal are less harmful than tobacco or alcohol and, therefore, we should pursue an approach that legalises these and other forms of drug use.

The trouble with this view is that it is almost entirely based on the premise that drug use under a legalised or regulated regime would not significantly increase. That is a bold assumption and one for which there is little evidence. The supporters of legalisation cite Portugal, where all drugs for personal use were decriminalised in 2001. Troublingly, however, while some positive benefit has flowed from that policy change, drug use among young people in Portugal has increased rather than decreased and there remains a stubborn black market in drug supply within the country. Drugs decriminalisation does not appear to have been quite the rosy road of unbroken success that many might have wished and others have promoted.

But even if a plausible case can be made for the benefits of drugs decriminalisation, the timing now for such a bold policy change in the UK seems wrong. Most recent data from the UK is showing a marked reduction in almost all forms of illegal drugs use, with the exception of cocaine, which is rising.
We are recording lower levels of cannabis use, heroin use, LSD use than for decades. In the face of such reductions it would seem odd to implement a policy of decriminalisation or legalisation that would hold out the very real prospect over time, even if not immediately, of a marked increase in the levels of drugs consumption. 
Those who favour drugs legalisation or decriminalisation often argue that a marked increase in drug use would be unlikely because most people who wish to use illegal drugs can do so already with minimum inconvenience. However, this is not to say that if the current legal impediments to such drug use were to be removed that there would be no increase in the number of people interested in at least experimenting with drugs, confident in the knowledge that they would be breaking no law in doing so. Would it matter if there were an increase in the number of people experimenting in this way with various substances?
The answer to that question really lies in the fact that many of the controlled substances are proscribed precisely because they are harmful (irrespective of whether they are more or less harmful than the legal drugs) or because we suspect they may be harmful but do not yet have the evidence to assess their precise level of harm, as is the case with many of the “legal high” drugs.

Any population level increase in the consumption of such drugs as LSD, heroin, or amphetamines would unquestionably lead to an increase in the number of individuals experiencing problems as a result of drug use. Some of those individuals would become addicted to the substances that have a high potential for addiction or become psychologically traumatised by those drugs that we know can cause major mental health problems.

That scenario would be less worrying if we had effective drug treatment services able speedily to lift people out of the depths of their addiction or psychological trauma. The reality is quite the reverse, with drug treatment services struggling to support individuals in their recovery and most people leaving drug treatment services in a continuing state of drug dependency. Recovery from drug dependency is a long, difficult and costly road that involves major heartache for the drug user and his or her family.
It is a great shame that so many of our influential leaders seem persuaded of the view that the best we can do in tackling our drug problem is to reduce some of the legal barriers to drug use. If we are to tackle our drug problem, we need effective drugs prevention, effective drugs treatment, but we also need effective drugs enforcement.

There is an analogy here that is rather revealing. We have made major inroads in the UK in reducing the overall level of smoking by a combination of public health education, social sanction and the banning of smoking in enclosed public spaces. Nobody should be under the illusion that the contribution of legislation in banning smoking was anything other than key in reducing the prevalence of smoking and reducing the overall level of tobacco-related harm.

It is ironic that just as we have come to see the benefit of combining education, treatment and legal sanction to reduce tobacco consumption, some of our leading parliamentarians seem convinced of the benefits of dismantling the legal barriers to wider drug use.
No country in the world has boldly discarded drugs enforcement and the UK would be unwise to go down such a road when we are beginning to see the success of our current tripartite approach combining treatment, prevention and drugs enforcement. We can do better in all of those spheres than at present, but that does not mean we should look to the government to become the major supplier or regulator of much wider forms of drugs consumption.

The all-parliamentary group has come up with another equally questionable proposal for dealing with the proliferation of so called legal high drugs, namely to make the producers and suppliers of those drugs subject to trading standards legislation within which they become legally responsible for the quality and safety of the drugs they supply.

I can see why the producers of those drugs might prefer operating under such a system, but could we possibly accept their assurances in terms of quality and safety, especially where those drugs are being produced in laboratories in distant parts of the world?

What would happen in all probability is that issues of safety would come a long way second to issues of profit in the manufacture and sale of those substances and we would see thousands of young people effectively being used as guinea pigs, consuming substances that they believe are relatively harmless and which we have legalised, but which in reality neither we nor they actually know what chemicals were even in the drugs they were consuming.

Drug use has taken a tremendous toll on Scotland – and continues to do so. We have communities that have effectively been taken over by the drugs economy.

Our aspirations and policies need to be about reducing the extent and the impact of illegal drugs on Scotland and not about pursuing initiatives that could easily result in their wider use.
Just as we have led the way in international efforts to reduce the availability and consumption of alcohol and tobacco, we need to be no less bold in our efforts to reduce the use and availability of all of the currently illegal drugs. Only then will Scotland be lifted from the shadow of a drugs problem that is substantially worse than virtually anywhere else in Europe.

• Neil McKeganey is director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

GOOD NEWS from the U.K.

Joanna Journet, Administrator of The Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island, passed on this encouraging news yesterday. Three years ago, Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, issued a similar and even stronger statement about a change  in direction towards recovery.

From Methadone to Recovery
The British government plans to change drug treatment in a drastic reorientation away from harm reduction. Drug addicts will now receive help in overcoming addiction rather than primarily seeking to reduce the harm caused by drug use which was the main emphasis of the previous government’s policy.
In the future, substitution treatment will play a "limited role" while fighting addiction will become the overriding treatment objective.
James Brokenshire, the Drugs Minister tells Daily Telegraph that "there should only be a limited role for methadone in treatment. “[Methadone] should be seen as part of a pathway taking people to a position where they are clear of addiction."
The policy change would reflect better what drug addicts actually want. Research has shown that a large majority of drug users want abstinence as a goal of their treatment (read more)
Recovery, the overriding treatment objective
Brokenshire, the UK Drugs Minister, stated that "we are looking to have greater emphasis on recovery rather than simply on treatment itself. The aim is to get people clear of addiction.”
Treatment services that are unable to get people off the addiction could risk losing government funding. This appears to be a reversal of the previous trend where recovery oriented services lost government funding while funds were directed towards harm reduction and substitution services instead. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


RECOVERY DAY 2012 was an unbelievable and joyous success.

Following you will find seven You Tube videos of varying length filmed on site on September 30, 2012 in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Watch them as you choose and please feel free to copy and use them as you wish for your own websites and Facebook pages.

Plans for RECOVERY DAY 2013 are already moving along nicely with several more cities participating for what we hope will be a national event on September 8th of this year.



Living Gratitude


Lotsa Beautiful stuff - Gratitude, Thanks & Sobriety Count

The March

Winding Down - and Up!

End of the Day

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Kennedy Shocks the Pro-Dope Liberal Media

The major media do not want to cover the issue of marijuana causing mental illness. But because a prominent Democrat, Patrick Kennedy, has raised it, the media have nowhere left to hide. The news that he says marijuana “Destroys the brain and expedites psychosis” was big news and a big headline in The Washington Post.

Kennedy fought alcoholism and an addiction to prescription drugs and is now taking on the marijuana lobby, while getting verbal abuse from the potheads in return. The Marijuana Policy Project calls his new group, SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), the “new threat” and “a dangerous, new national anti-marijuana organization.”

The group’s website features such stories as:
  • Marijuana use linked with significant IQ loss
  • Medical marijuana laws hurt kids, doctor says
  • Legalize pot? No, reform laws
Kennedy, the younger son of Edward M. Kennedy and a former member of Congress from Rhode Island, was strong and direct, telling the Post, “Marijuana destroys the brain and expedites psychosis. It’s just overall a very dangerous drug.”

The paper said Kennedy wants “to shift the debate from legalization to prevention and treatment—despite what appears to be a growing social acceptance of the drug.”

That “growing social acceptance” is being driven by the drug-friendly media, the pro-drug entertainment industry, and a dope lobby led by the Drug Policy Alliance that is mostly funded by billionaires such as George Soros.

Kennedy’s involvement follows other experts who have been discussing marijuana’s threat. Mental health expert Clayton Cramer tells Accuracy in Media, “The studies that have been done on the subject clearly demonstrate not just a correlation between mental illness and marijuana use, but a causal connection.”
However, the pro-marijuana movement is on the move, with the state of Oregon sinking so low as to authorize the use of “medical marijuana” for a 7-year-old child with leukemia. The child’s father, who is divorced from the girl’s mother, reported the marijuana use to child welfare officials and said that he found the little girl “stoned out of her mind.”

The prospect of Patrick Kennedy’s involvement gives hope to those who believe the U.S. has been surrendering the war on drugs.

Reuters broke the story, “Patrick Kennedy On Marijuana: Former Rep. Leads Campaign Against Legal Pot,” which was picked up by the Huffington Post and other liberal outlets. Kennedy “is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals,” it said.
The dope lobby never expected a certified liberal—and the son of a liberal icon—to lead a new charge against them.

SAM is a bipartisan group, chaired by Kennedy, which includes George W. Bush’s former speechwriter and Daily Beast columnist David Frum, Harvard Professor Sharon Levy, Kevin Sabet, and other public health professionals and lawmakers.

Levy authored a resolution for the American Academy of Pediatrics opposing the use of “medical marijuana” in children, while Sabet served in the Obama Administration as Senior Advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Sabet has debated Ethan Nadelmann of the Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance.

On its website, Frum argues against marijuana legalization. Equally significant, SAM talks about where marijuana legalization is heading—a takeover by the tobacco industry, which has openly speculated  about marijuana becoming an “alternative product line.”

SAM declares, “We know if it’s legalized, marijuana will be commercialized, too. A commercial marijuana industry will act just as the tobacco industry acts. Big Tobacco may even take over a marijuana industry once it’s up and running.”

Since tobacco companies lied to America for more than a century about the dangers of smoking, SAM suggests the truth about marijuana will also be concealed by the commercial and other special interests eager to make money from the product.

In fact, left-wing British journalist Patrick Cockburn has already written about a “tobacco moment” for marijuana consisting of the connection between marijuana use and psychotic episodes that is comparable to the scientific recognition that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer and other illnesses. Cockburn wrote a series of blockbuster articles in the British media on how his own son went insane smoking marijuana.

Clayton Cramer, author of My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill, says that the damage is being done through “the active promotion of marijuana use, especially among young people, who are the greatest risk of marijuana inducing schizophrenia.”

In addition to mental illness, a recent international study found a link between “persistent cannabis use and neuropsychological decline.” In other words, marijuana causes damage to intelligence, memory and attention.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Colleague Seminar

 Candace Plattor is a colleague and a friend of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada. Candace dived in with great enthusiasm to the RECOVERY DAY 2012 celebration, joyfully volunteering her time, energy and knowledge.

The following is a link to an upcoming one-day workshop called "Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: Counseling the Loved Ones of Addicts", which will be presented by addiction specialist Candace Plattor, MA, RCC, on February 2nd.

Candace is the author of the award-winning books Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: The Top 10 Survival Tips for Loving Someone with an Addiction and Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: The Workbook.

Are you: A Therapist in Private Practice? A Counsellor working with Addictions or Relationships? A Psychology Student interested in working in the field of Addictions or Relationships?

Do you feel uncertain as to how you can help when your client discloses that their loved one is struggling with an addiction?

If so, this workshop will be of interest to you:

Registration is limited to 20 participants, and there is early bird pricing until January 15th.

For more information, please contact Candace directly at or at 604-677-5876.