Worth its weight in...?

Things are worth different amounts of money. Shocking, the Poorhouse knows. But as a measure of this, consider the measure of "monetary density" as defined over at evilmadscientist.com.

"Normal" density of a substance, as all you GCSE science-educated people will know, is mass divided by volume. Lead is more dense in this case than say feathers. But what about in terms of monetary density: value in currency over mass?

Afghanistan alchemists

So as the UK military forces continue their expensive, pointless, doomed and probably harmful mission to rid the world of a few arbitrary types of intoxicating plants, it seems the drug producers have come up with ever more cunning methods to turn a freely-grown weed into something with the black-market-boosted value of gold dust.

Check this out – the biggest haul of cannabis ever found has been blown up by 3 1000lb bombs. The Poorhouse is sure that was the only possible way to remove such merchandise as well…cue lots of g(l)ory pictures of fire, death and destruction and maybe a bit of nationalistic pride for our taxpayer-funded killers too. All this is rather insignifcant news though compared to what was being done with such raw material.


Let’s let the ever-reliable and unbiased Daily Mail tell us what was going on eh?


Hard to know how to approach this product…is it a massive scam, the likes of which you’d need big big balls to even attempt, or a fascinating and medically beneficial play on the weirdness that is human psychology (and perhaps even physiology)?

Enter the cunning wonder that is… Obecalp. Yep, Obecalp. D’ya geddit?

Reporting on drugs impairs mental performance

Researching the mental effects of chemicals on humans is notoriously difficult and complicated, not least because of the immense amount of ways that a certain person may react to any given substance, the huge number of external factors that may be involved in a psychological outcome, and the difficulty in quantifiably measuring many mental effects. Add to this the sometimes extreme politicisation and bias of results that comes when researching controversial topics like the use of illegal drugs and one can see that researching the mental effects of banned-but-fun substances is especially troublesome.

This trouble is often seen in mass-media reports of such experiments. Often, presumably in order to make the "news" exciting and dramatic for their readers the "shock horror - you will die if you even look at illegal drugs" conclusions are heightened to the max, and any opposing conclusions, grey areas and other interpretations of the same data are ignored. Not only does this undermine any sensible attempt at presenting results with potentially important public health conclusions to the public at large, but research suggests that it could be this very style of reporting that causes some of the mental problems it shouts about so loudly.

Hey, let's stop advertising alcohol to kids

What, more stories about intoxicating substances? Yep, but this time we're moving onto something some group of "important" blokes decided was OK, even good, for society and the individual. Alcohol. Sure, it's not a drug, it's a drink but it still mashes people's minds up in a more detrimental way than the average illegal substance; as generally agreed by even the top boffins at the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Medical Research Council.

The Government has recently updated its alcohol strategy. To summarise: use the laws that exist to deal with alcohol-fuelled crime, focus on harmful drinkers and shape the environment to promote sensible drinking. Luckily the Portman Group, a group of drinks manufacturers trying to put a veneer of responsibility on their corporate shenanigans, pre-empted their announcements with the inspirationally progressive announcement that they would no longer market their deadly wares directly to little children.

Cannabis: where's the apology for the apology?

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?", said an Independent on Sunday leader 4 months ago, quoting John Maynard Keynes. Nice quote, but its accompanying article wherein the IoS dropped their support for cannabis decriminalisation, was pretty much nonsense. The "facts" hadn't really changed so much; sure, in recentish times there has been more research into the links between cannabis and mental illness of the sort mentioned here a couple of days ago but no landmark study exists proving that cannabis is mega dangerous to the majority of the population, nor that, if it turns out that it is, the best public health policy is to continue the ever-more failing locking people up tactics.

Whilst they haven't repeated the Keynes quote, the Poorhouse is happy to see an apparent about-face in reporting tone from them today. Today, they are happy to debunk "politicians' excuse that cannabis has become stronger", which is great. It's just a shame that they didn't look into it a bit hard 4 months ago when their leader used these very same lies to excuse their Daily Mail-esque change of policy.

The cannabis cabinet, and yet another pointless law review

Well, the Poorhouse had hoped that Britain's new, if rather unelected, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be a least a sizeable improvement over the previous one. It seems on matters of drug policy this isn't going to be true.

The Poorhouse almost couldn't be bothered to read about the latest shenanigans regarding cannabis classification but in the end capitulated to find that Brown is ordering a(nother) "consultation" as to whether cannabis should be reclassified from its current class C to the more punitive class B. How pointless.

Cheerleaders are baaaad

Regular readers of this web-monstrosity will be aware that the Poorhouse is a little sceptical as to the reasoning and benefit behind the increasingly ridiculous drug laws in the UK. To summarise for anyone not from around here, in common with much of the rest of the world, a fairly arbitrary set of substances that people like to use recreationally are banned. If you possess them you get to face jailtime. If you possess other, often more harmful, recreational mind-benders such as alcohol you're just fine.

Tory boy confesses crimes publically...or does he?

All this web 2.0 blogging your life in public has its downers. People are forever getting arrested for confessing to crimes via their myspace pages. They don't seem to understand that what you write in public is there...perhaps forever. This is a problem that has afflicted Wales' very own Tory Boy, Chris Chapman, the youngest person to have ever been a councillor in Wales, now just 19.

He is very down with the kids, so the Poorhouse bets Cameron et al. just love him. Listen to these inspiring (if somewhat sickeningly untrue) words:

The more I read, the more I was drawn to the principles of the Conservative Party - freedom of enterprise, freedom of choice, and freedom of opportunity for all members of society, regardless of their background.

Sadly, for the Conservatives, that's not all he's been saying. And yes, the word "myspace" made the House of Commons.

One at a time please

2007 is probably going to be a year that hardcore tobacco smokers in England will find a bit hard to get used to. In July there is set to be a smoking ban "in all enclosed public spaces". Later on, from October, the age limit for buying tobacco will be raised from 16 years old to 18.

This is probably a good idea for dealing with one of the most damaging and pointless recreational drugs in UK society. Whilst no ban is in force yet, some venues have started early. In a similar vein, The Poorhouse was kind of amused to see the following restriction in place in an anonymous (because I can't remember what it was called) All You Can Eat restaurant.

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