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Blog : Posts tagged with 'drugs'

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Overheard

In which eyebrows are raised


Overheard in the street this afternoon: a woman’s voice.

“I’m fed up of you telling people I’m a druggie. I’m not a druggie. I didn’t have any methadone yesterday. That’s why I’m feeling sick today.”

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Smoking

In which we wonder what they were on


In the news today: government ministers smoked cannabis, but there’s nothing wrong with that, because they only tried it once or twice and they didn’t particularly enjoy it.

What puzzles me, though, is that they all seem to have said they did it “at university”. It’s fine for them to admit taking cannabis when they were 18 or 19 – but did none of them, really, never come across it earlier? Maybe they’re scared of being compared to David Cameron, who smoked cannabis when he was 15, and suffered the terrible punishment of not being allowed to leave school for a whole week. Certainly, at my school, about ten years later, cannabis use was widespread, and kids would frequently nip off to hide in the culvert for a quick smoke on their lunch break. Maybe the answer is that Labour teenagers, back in the 80s, were just too dull to realise the drugs were there.

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It’s Only Natural

In which we are careful not to confuse “natural” and “beneficial”


Two things struck me about the coverage yesterday of Patricia Tabram‘s drugs conviction. Tabram, in case you didn’t see the news, is the Northumberland woman convicted of growing cannabis for medical reasons. She likes to claim that her conviction is part of a grand struggle for rights, like the right of everyone to vote, which is over-egging her pudding a little. She’s certainly been using her conviction as part of a broad political campaign,* but that’s about as far as the similarities go.

Anyway, interviewed on Radio 4 last night, she said something along the lines of: cannabis is good medicine because it’s natural. Prescription drugs are not because they’re full of chemicals.** Which, of course, is a load of nonsense. Some people like to use the word “chemicals” as if it’s some dark, lurking evil, and like to imply that anything grown on a plant is healthy and implicitly Good For You. Despite this, you rarely find them tucking into a nice meal of potato fruit and yew berries.*** How many different chemicals are in your average pill? A handful. How many different chemicals are in a marijuana leaf? Thousands.

Tabram also said that prescription medicine made her feel suicidal, but cannabis had no side-effects at all. That’s her experience, though. Everyone has different side-effects to any sort of drug, “natural” or otherwise; I’ve known several people who have had bad psychological reactions to cannabis. It may be relatively innocuous, but just because you’re fine with it doesn’t mean the person next to you will be. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.

* Standing against Peter Hain at the last general election, appearing on the telly a lot, trying to get people to call her “the cannabis gran”, that sort of thing. I had second thoughts about mentioning her here, because I don’t like giving publicity to publicity-seekers, but frankly this blog is a drop in the ocean.

** Not her exact words, but that was the message she was trying to give.

*** I shouldn’t need to say this, but potato fruit are rather poisonous, and yew seeds are very poisonous indeed.

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Just Say No, Kids

In which people complain about something they volunteered themselves for


There’s been an awful lot in the news lately about the drug trial whose guinea-pigs are dangerously ill.* My own abnormal reaction is: they volunteered for this. They may well have come out of trials before with no problems, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be as lucky on the next trial they take. The chance of something like this happening is miniscule, but it’s still there.

Am I being too callous? It is, of course, still a horrible thing to happen to someone, and to their relatives. One of their relatives, a BBC producer called Myfanwy Marshall, has been on the news constantly since it happened, telling us all how horrible it is that her boyfriend is dangerously ill, and has lost his good looks. On an interview last night, she said how shocked she was that he suddenly looks middle-aged – “forty-five”, she said. I know people don’t always say what they mean when they’re under stress, but it certainly seemed to show a lot about her priorities in life.

* Well, three-quarters of them – the others were on the placebo.

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