“GUEST VIEW: Youth Will Pay For Legalizing Marijuana” – (NewportRI.com)

Today, I will be critiquing another hit piece aimed at societal progress. In this case, an article based on a Newport, Rhode Island teachers disbelief in newly released studies that claim to show marijuana use by teens in decline in states with legalized recreational marijuana.

In fairness, this article is not entirely based on a personal rant. The author cites data which would seem to oppose that found in the far more widely distributed studies of recent weeks. Which is why I decided to take a look for myself.

https://www.newportri.com/news/20190714/guest-view-youth-will-pay-for-legalizing-marijuana

Before I even start, I will acknowledge my bias coming into this. The whole reason why the article grabbed my attention in the first place (unlike the sea of others of a similar nature published daily and weekly) was how it flew in the face of logic, as characterized by me.
Even in the years before Colorado and Washington took the first steps into recreational legalization (2012), I was a supporter of legalization. Though my views were not as streamlined as they are now (personal growth & all), 2 throughlines still run through my main arguments.
One is the human rights argument (it’s a personal choice). And the 2ed being the protection of minors aspect.

The way that current day legal (yet semi-restricted) substances are handled (alcohol, nicotine, etc) sets an age limit for purchase and does a fairly good job of keeping these substances from being directly obtained by minors. No, it’s not 100% effective (store owners or employees knowingly or unknowingly breaking the law, adults looking the other way and purchasing for minors, etc), but no law is or ever will be.
This, compared to the increasingly former status quo of procuring marijuana. Call up or meet your connection, hand over some cash, and off you go. No identification or hard questions required.

This is why I don’t get people that support prohibition as a way of protecting the children. You’re not protecting them, you are just making the substance a WHOLE lot easier for them to get. Aside from various supply issues, it’s likely easier for a teenager to get their hands on ANY illicit substance than it is for an adult to obtain a prescription.

Prohibition just pushes the transaction out of sight. It might be appeasing for a subset of people that don’t want to let the realities of the world darken their rosy outlook. However, it’s not without dire consequences. As in many situations, ignorance has a price.

Anyway, you know where I am coming from. Let’s see where author Carol Formica is coming from.

Prevention Science states there are two factors that contribute to an increased risk of drug use: access and availability.

I don’t think anyone with a fair amount of brain cells would argue this point. It makes sense.

On the other hand, the recent AP article published in the Daily News (July 9) entitled, “Teen odds of using marijuana dip with recreational use laws,” defies all logic.

According to the article, there is new research that suggests legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use in some states may have “slightly reduced teens’ odds of using pot.”

Seriously?

Yes, Carol. Seriously.

The only reason why I can see this as quote defying all logic is if your starting point is “Prohibition = No access to drugs. Legalization = Access to drugs”. If such is the case, then your outlook is SEVERELY flawed. And thus, you are in NO position to be delivering ad hom’s from a place of condescension atop a soapbox.

If you have come this far, you already know my stance.

The lead author of the study, D. Mark Anderson, a health economist at Montana State University, claims there was no change linked with medical marijuana legislation, but “odds of teen use declined almost 10% after recreational marijuana laws were enacted.”

Anderson’s study maintains the new results echo a previous study that showed a “decline in teen use after sales of recreational pot began in 2014 in Washington state.”

The study was recently published in JAMA Pediatrics and was based on national youth health and behavioral surveys from 1993 through 2017.

One point of interest is that the researchers (from the University of Oregon, University of Colorado, and San Diego State University) looked at “overall changes nationwide, but not at individual states.”

As a side note, Colorado, Oregon and California legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, 2014, and 2016 respectively.

Possibly a good critique.

A second point of interest is that the study was partially funded by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.

According to businessscene.org, the Koch brothers are described as “powerful libertarian donors” who support states legalizing marijuana.

A possibly good critique as well. Though I would have more gone the route of business than ideology. Marijuana is big money, so naturally, it is in the interest of big business to open the floodgates. The fact that the human freedom aspect also is at play is just the icing on the cake.

At the end of the AP article, Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis at the nonprofit Center on Addiction, is quoted as saying, “It sort of defies logic to argue that more liberal recreational marijuana laws somehow help dissuade young people from using the drug.”

Ms. Richter also points out that other studies have found that, in states where marijuana is legal, “fewer teens think it is risky or harmful than the national average.”

1.) Neither legalization nor prohibition serves to dissuade teenagers from any substance. If anything, the forbidden fruit tends to be the sweetest. When you are a minor, this encompasses pretty much everything. Legal or illegal, it’s a restricted product.

What legalization does is limits availability. Instead of marijuana being on par with candy in terms of accessibility, it becomes on par with alcohol and tobacco. Viewing laws as a way to dissuade is ENTIRELY missing the point.

2.) I would be curious what Ms. Richter’s definition of risky and harmful are, in the context of marijuana. Does this national average constitute a reality-based apprehension towards marijuana’s drawbacks, or is it amplified by hyperbole from the anti-drug crusaders?

While legalization can also have the effect of reducing the perceived harm of legally obtainable substances (like alcohol), both extremes have to be measured. Because both have unintended consequences in their own right.

While Anderson’s study may be skewed in favor of legalization, being partially funded by a libertarian donor and including researchers who hail from states that have already legalized marijuana, there are other studies that paint a very different picture on the matter.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative is a federal program administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Its goal is to address drug-related issues by supporting and collaborating with law enforcement, treatment and prevention partners.

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA report of October 2017, (Vol. 5), showed that after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, “youth past month marijuana use” increased 12% in the three-year average (2013-2015).

It also showed that Colorado’s “youth past month marijuana use” for 2014/2015 was 55% higher than the national average compared to 39% higher in 2011/2012.

In the Northwest HIDTA report of March 2016, it states that youth under the age of twenty had accounted for 45% of statewide marijuana calls answered by Washington state’s Poison Center in 2014; a number that has since increased to 80% with the legalization of marijuana in 2012.

The same report revealed that from September 2013 to May 2014, the Seattle Public Schools reported 758 student violations involving drugs/alcohol. Of that total, “651 involved drug offenses only and 98% of those violations involved marijuana.”

The report further added that those violations occurred at “all levels of the public school system: elementary, middle, and high schools.”

Worth considering.

However, it’s always good to know when the source has a potentially blatant bias driven agenda.

The RMHIDTA, a federally supported task force dedicated to suppressing marijuana and other illegal drugs, claims only 50 percent of Colorado voters supported legalization in that Quinnipiac survey—eight points lower than the actual result. It also understates the 2012 vote for Amendment 64 by a point, but the comparison still supports the story that the task force wants to tell: The consequences of legalization in Colorado have been so bad that public support for the policy already has fallen.

Even assuming that the RMHIDTA’s misrepresentation of the Quinnipiac survey was a mistake, the direction of the error is not random. You can be sure that if the report had overstated support for legalization by eight points, someone would have caught it before the text was finalized. Which underlines a point that should be obvious by now: Despite its pose as a dispassionate collector of facts, the RMHIDTA, which issued similar reports in 2013 and 2014, is committed to the position that legalization was a huge mistake, and every piece of information it presents is aimed at supporting that predetermined conclusion. So even when the task force does not simply make stuff up, it filters and slants the evidence to play up the purported costs of legalization while ignoring the benefits.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2015/09/17/supposedly-neutral-federal-report-stacks-the-deck-against-marijuana-legalization/#36785dc62245

He has some examples, too.

Drugged Driving

The report says “there was a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths” after legal recreational sales began in 2014 (emphasis in the original). Here is an interesting fact about “marijuana-related traffic deaths”: They do not necessarily have anything to do with marijuana. The report uses this phrase to describe fatalities from accidents involving vehicle operators who “tested positive for marijuana,” which could indicate the presence of inactive metabolites or THC levels so low that they had no impact on driving performance. A positive result does not mean a driver was impaired at the time of the crash, let alone that marijuana contributed to the accident.

As the report emphasizes in another chapter, adult marijuana use has been rising in Colorado since 2006. You would expect the percentage of drivers who “test positive for marijuana”—whether or not they are impaired and whether or not they get into accidents—to rise as well. It is not clear to what extent recent increases in what the RMHIDTA insists on calling “marijuana-related traffic deaths” are due to this population-wide trend and to what extent they are due to an increase in dangerously impaired drivers. The task force seems determined to obscure this crucial distinction.

Another factor to consider: The number of cannabinoid screens performed for law enforcement agencies in Colorado nearly tripled between 2009, when the medical marijuana industry started to take off, and 2014, the first year of legal recreational sales. That could reflect increased enforcement, increased stoned driving, or a combination of both. Likewise with last year’s increases in marijuana-related DUID arrests by Denver police, which the RMHIDTA also cites as evidence that legalization has made the roads more dangerous.

Emergency Room Visits and Hospitalizations

In 2014, the report says, “there was a 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits” and “a 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations.” Like “marijuana-related traffic deaths,” “marijuana-related emergency room visits” and “marijuana-related hospitalizations” are not necessarily marijuana-related. As the report explains, these numbers, also known as “marijuana mentions,” refer to patients whose marijuana use was determined by lab tests, self-reports, or “some other form of validation by the physician.” The fact that a patient had used marijuana at some point “does not necessarily prove marijuana was the cause of the emergency admission or hospitalization.”

It is therefore hard to know what to make of the increases highlighted by the report. They could be due to increased cannabis consumption, increased willingness to admit marijuana use, increased inquisitiveness by hospital staff, or some combination of those factors, none of which necessarily means that marijuana-related medical problems actually went up between 2013 and 2014, although it’s possible they did.

The report says “marijuana-only” calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center “increased 72 percent” in 2014. Here the RMHIDTA is on firmer ground, since these calls really do involve marijuana and have increased in recent years. It is plausible that the increase, which has also been seen in Washington, is related to greater availability of marijuana edibles, first from dispensaries and later from recreational shops.

Most calls involve adults, although about 18 percent involve children 5 or younger. Whether people are mistaking edibles for ordinary food or taking bigger doses than they should have, these calls surely represent undesirable outcomes. But as usual, the RMHIDTA fails to put this troubling trend into perspective. Although the number of marijuana-only calls rose 148 percent between 2012 and 2014, last year’s total, 151, still accounted for just 0.3 percent of the 50,000 or so calls that the poison control center received. The Colorado center does not report outcomes on its website. But according to data from the Washington Poison Center, just 3 percent of marijuana exposure cases involve a “major effect,” and there have been no fatalities.

The RMHIDTA, which has a strong incentive to locate “marijuana-related” deaths in Colorado, describes one homicide, two apparent accidents, and three suicides. Marijuana’s causal role in these six deaths is open to debate. But even if we take it as a given and include all 165 “traffic deaths related to marijuana” (which may or may not actually be related to marijuana) in 2013 and 2014, the death toll attributed to cannabis pales beside the thousands of alcohol-related deaths in Colorado during the same period.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2015/09/17/supposedly-neutral-federal-report-stacks-the-deck-against-marijuana-legalization/#36785dc62245

Feel free to continue reading this nice analysis. There is more.

While there are troubling stats to be considered, any good is far outweighed by the bias. If I were to guess, this organization may be on the chopping block if marijuana were to become too well perceived by the otherwise inattentive public.

Good riddance.

If the Rocky Mountain and Northwest HIDTA reports aren’t enough to make a person pause when considering the societal impacts of marijuana legalization on our youth, then perhaps the May 20 segment, “Potent Pot,” by Target 12 investigative reporter Tim White will change their mind.

The segment discussed the current uptick of marijuana vaporizers being used within Rhode Island schools.

In this past school year more than a few Rhode Island students had to be taken away by an ambulance after having an “adverse reaction to potent levels of THC,” one of which was described as an “overdose call” by the Coventry Fire Department.

In May, GoLocalProv published a study that showed Rhode Island having the highest percentage of teenage drug users throughout the country.

Prevention Science, as well as common sense, would suggest limiting access and availability of any drug.

Legalizing marijuana would do just the opposite — and our youth will pay the highest price.

First off, a quick look into Rhode Island state guidelines tells us that the sale, possession and use of vaping devices are illegal for persons under 18 years of age. Which would make the question “How are teens getting their hands on vaping devices and fluid?” a more productive way to look at this than “Marijuana = BAD!”.
And the same goes for any locality with a disproportionate problem of minors getting their hands on substances that they shouldn’t be getting ahold of.

At this point, I don’t feel like going any further. The author of this article doesn’t seem interested in much more than pursuing an already debunked status quo. To them, drugs belong in the shadows, out of sight is out of mind.

Consequences be damned.

Patriotism In Today’s World – Part 1

As most people likely know, yesterday was Independence day in the United States. Here in Canada, we celebrated our own version (Canada Day) 2 days earlier. No matter where you are in the world, you likely have an equivalent on your calendar.
Like many things I once took for granted, patriotism is one of the many things that I initially left unquestioned. As that statement hints, such is no longer the case. For a number of reasons, at this point.

For a long time, I relegated it to the realm of the Sheeple. Just another label and ideology for those that can’t seem to live without. Of course, one has to be careful not to take this conclusion too far, for it is also possible for blazing one’s own trail (for lack of a better description) to become just as powerful an ideology. It’s the reason why I don’t label myself as an iconoclast, contrarian or anything else of the sort. Whilst there no doubt exist good examples of the cohort, any viewpoint that discourages individual reasoning in favour of a generalized conclusion is suspect.

This is not to say that I don’t live without ideology. Such is not possible. I just don’t have a need to be dominated by one (or many) that mould most of my conclusions for me. Like everything else, it’s all about moderation. You look around and adopt what works, and the rest goes into the blue bin.

My earliest experiences with patriotism (a case that is likely true for most of us) came in a form that many may not recognize as such. That form is school spirit.

At least in the western world, high schools generally have a handful of sports teams, all competing under one common brand (associated with the school). My school had the Spartans, neighbouring schools in the city had the Vikings and the Plainsmen. Athletes usually enjoy a higher tier social status than most others, and school administrators themselves foster this status by cutting into educational time by scheduling often compulsory team spirit rallies. You know, get the whole school into the gymnasium for a couple hours to cheer on and celebrate the accomplishments of our athletes.

Our athletes . . . the indoctrination is still powerful LOL.

Being an inch over half way to 60 at this point, I don’t recall how many hours of my life were spent (wasted) sitting through such pageantry. However, for someone that didn’t give a damn in the slightest (even then!), one minute was too many. Of course, back then I didn’t care for a different reason (I didn’t care about anything ), but none the less, the point still stands.
I would not come to make the connection to patriotism until many years later. Though the connection likely isn’t anything more than coincidence, the parallels are interesting. Though the 2 (patriotism for one’s country and school spirit) exist independently of one another, I can’t help but think that one could influence the other. Even if one considers the dynamic of having many friends competing as Plainsmen, but being stuck attending a Spartan loyal school . . . you get the drift.

To be fair, a big component of this is the annoying nature of many sports fans. Canadian hockey fans tend to be some of the worlds worst (of course, based on my own anecdotal experience). If Cricket and Soccer can be viewed as unifying of cultures and nations, than hockey is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

However, we are now in the weeds. WAY in the weeds lol. Time to retreat.

Sporting loyalties aside, the parallels in traditions between the celebration of school spirit and patriotism are hard to miss. Both actively encourage division. As for whether school spirit traditions can influence patriotism based traditions throughout life . . . I have no idea.

Considering that most western world constitutions forbid mandating participation in such rituals (particularly in schools), however, giving the possibility some scrutiny can’t hurt.

Part 2 will explore the more recent problem of patriotism in collision with the growing trend towards fascism in recent years.

Part 3 (?) will explore the question of whether patriotism is still relevant in today’s increasingly borderless world.

10 Facts About Atheists – (Pew Research)

I found this article a few days ago over on Agnostic.com and thought it be interesting to take a delve into it a bit.

10 facts about atheists

Estimating the number of atheists in the U.S. is complicated. Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) also say they do not believe in God.

But one thing is for sure: Along with the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans (many of whom believe in God), there has been a corresponding increase in the number of atheists. As nonbelievers and others gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Reason Rally,” here are key facts about atheists and their beliefs:

As with many people, the first paragraph took me somewhat by surprise. However, I am unsure of how they define Atheism.

A big reason why I am a proponent of a more umbrella-esk term such as Secularism or non-believers (it doesn’t really matter) IS because of situations like this. People without religious beliefs are all over the map. Some may not have made the logical transition all the way to agnostic atheism. Some may not ever go that far. A few (like me) may be more interested in pursuing other matters than a new label and ideology.

Atheism is not one size fits all. Nor does it have to be.

Either way, atheism does not seem the right one in this case. Agnostic theist maybe. Theist could work. Maybe deism. In any case, more than just atheism.

As for the people that identify with religion yet don’t believe in god, I can also understand the sentiment. A big part of being part of a church congregation is social status and interaction. At times, being a member of this tribe is an integral part of maintaining a normal existence in many environments. A church can both be a support network and THE support network.

Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with flocking with a group you have likely known for much of your life and otherwise have few differences with, this could serve as another wake-up call to the atheism-centric folk of the non-believers out there.
It’s not just about deconversion and rationalism. It should be about building support structures. Communities.
Places where people can interact during good times. Places where people can be lent a helping hand during bad times. And otherwise places wherein our collective humanity trumps all other factors.

There are some good examples to be had of this, I don’t deny that. Many good people are doing good things. But at the same time, many more in the space (of whom tend to have a significantly louder voice) are more interested in promoting an ideology and a brand than much else. An action plan that short changes both any long term goals AND people stuck living in situations of closeted non-belief out of necessity.

1.) The share of Americans who identify as atheists has roughly doubled in the past several years. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 3.1% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in a similarly large survey in 2007. An additional 4.0% of Americans call themselves agnostics, up from 2.4% in 2007.

While this does not surprise me, I have to wonder if there may be a generational thing at play here.

Everyone knows that the internet has proven to be an invaluable tool for breaking the death grip of religion for millions of people around the world. Though the impact has resonated for people of all ages, Millenials and Gen Z grew up around the internet.

Basically, I wonder if more adults of all ages are truly leaving religion behind, or if the overall pool of adults is just growing larger. With the younger generations tendency towards secularist attitudes, is the pool of theists just becoming diluted?

2.) Atheists, in general, are more likely to be male and younger than the overall population68% are men, and the median age of atheist adults in the U.S. is 34 (compared with 46 for all U.S. adults). Atheists also are more likely to be white (78% are Caucasian vs. 66% for the general public) and highly educated: About four-in-ten atheists (43%) have a college degree, compared with 27% of the general public.

This seems to fit my hypothesis. Which also means that the number is likely only going to grow. Barring something unforeseen.

3.) Self-identified atheists tend to be aligned with the Democratic Party and with political liberalism. About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives). Atheists overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage (92%) and legal abortion (87%). In addition, three-quarters (74%) say that government aid to the poor does more good than harm.

Again, unsurprising.

Though politics is indeed separate from religiosity, I suspect that real-world dynamics contribute to this. Since many atheists face friction upon publicly disclosing their choice to deconvert, it’s hard not to gain empathy out of such an experience.

4.) Although the literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary8% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Indeed, 2% say they are “absolutely certain” about the existence of God or a universal spirit. Alternatively, there are many people who fit the dictionary definition of “atheist” but do not call themselves atheists. About three times as many Americans say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit (9%) as say they are atheists (3%).

As explored before, there could be a number of reasons for this.

They might not know the terms, having never come across such discourse. They may not care. Who knows.

It just illustrates the importance of going above atheism. The potential for a hugely influential driving force in politics exists. All that is required to get there, is more unity and less brand promotion.

5.) Unsurprisingly, more than nine-in-ten self-identified atheists say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives, and nearly all (97%) say they seldom or never pray. At the same time, many do not see a contradiction between atheism and pondering their place in the world. Three-in-ten (31%) say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly. A similar share (35%) often thinks about the meaning and purpose of life. And roughly half of all atheists (54%) frequently feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe, up from 37% in 2007. In fact, atheists are more likely than U.S. Christians to say they often feel a sense of wonder about the universe (54% vs. 45%).

This paragraph makes me wonder about the authors understanding of the concept of atheism. It seems only skin deep. Which explains a lot.

It’s unsurprising that atheist types have so much interest in both the makeup of the world and their overall place in it because a big part of leaving religion is the loss of such clarity. If you have scripture of any kind to fall back on, the big questions are answered for you.

Who done it? God

Why am I here? God

What is my purpose? Serving God

To be outside the realm of monotheistic religion (at least the big 3) is to figure this all out for yourself. Though there are many tools available to help with the first question (after changing who to what, of course), the other 2 are more difficult. Of course, there exist many other ideologies that often times step in and fill the gaps. However, some may go there whole lives trying to figure this stuff out. Some may not ever answer that question.

I’ve been on the secular side of the fence for a good decade, and I don’t have an answer. To be perfectly honest, I’ve accepted that I may never be able to answer the final question (the 2ed is irrelevant, really).

6.) In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, self-identified atheists were asked how often they share their views on God and religion with religious people. Only about one-in-ten atheists (9%) say they do at least weekly, while roughly two-thirds (65%) say they seldom or never discuss their views on religion with religious people. By comparison, 26% of those who have a religious affiliation share their views at least once a week with those who have other beliefs; 43% say they seldom or never do.

Not much new knowledge here.

7.) Virtually no atheists (1%) turn to religion for guidance on questions of right and wrong, but increasing numbers are turning to scienceAbout a third of atheists (32%) say they look primarily to science for guidance on questions of right and wrong, up from 20% in 2007. A plurality (44%) still cite “practical experience and common sense” as their primary guide on such questions, but that is down from 52% in 2007.

This is puzzling, possibly terrifying. It makes me wonder how this question was worded on the survey.

Back when I was an atheist, I embodied many of the common tropes that have now come to annoy me. However, I am not sure how I would have answered this question.
Science is a tool. And much like any other tool (like a knife or a pencil), it is morally and ethically neutral in nature. Which is why I question how one can turn to it as a source of right and wrong.

I am a champion of philosophy. Though it tends to get a bad rap in today’s popular discourse, it’s separation from science has almost always been problematic. If science is the hammer, philosophy is the rational mind guiding it to hit only nails. As opposed to what we have now . . . science bound for the most part, only by the morals and ethics of the scientists practising it.

Exhibit A . . . Nuclear weapons.

Back in the era of the Manhatten project, some physicists were concerned with the possibility of the nuclear blast could quite literally set the atmosphere on fire. To quote those who know a whole lot more than me:

There’s nitrogen in the air, and you can have a nuclear reaction in which two nitrogen nuclei collide and become oxygen plus carbon, and in this process you set free a lot of energy.  Couldn’t that happen?

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/bethe-teller-trinity-and-the-end-of-earth/

Of course, this was considered to be a distant possibility. Unlike how it is often recounted, the math didn’t support such a conclusion. However, to quote a Washington Post journalist:

Still. In science there are no absolutes. That’s a lot of faith to put into your equations. The belief that they could understand the workings of the atom was essential to the whole process of building the bomb. Leo Szilard conceived of a chain reaction of neutrons while crossing a London street in 1933; only a dozen years later these scientists and generals were out in the middle of the New Mexico desert to test ideas and hardware thrown together under wartime pressure. They had a decent understanding of what would probably happen — but this had never been done before. This was a new thing on the planet. And — as Oppenheimer said — the world would never be the same.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/achenblog/wp/2015/07/23/the-man-who-feared-rationally-that-hed-just-destroyed-the-world/?utm_term=.5173c91e1c64

It’s an interesting situation that isn’t uncommon in the realm of science.

The desire to push the limits of possibility. The external weight (and propaganda) of World War 2 . All that seems to missing, is any form of checks and balances. Even if we’re pretty sure that we won’t set the entire atmosphere alight by way of this explosion, is it STILL a good idea to do it anyway?

Consider the net results for humanity going forward. Since then, nuclear weapons have only become more powerful. Not just capable of ending the world as we know it in theory, but in REALITY. All it takes is 2 nation states unleashing their arsenals, and we’re in the realm of the film On The Beach.

Given that the barrier to using these weapons is mutual destruction at the hand of an enemy, is this a net positive for humanity? Does the guarantee of death and destruction keep radical entities in line? Or does it just raise the stakes a whole lot higher than they need to be?

For example, the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. Given the combative relationship of India and Pakistan, does the presence of these weapons constitute a good thing?

Consider the atheist.

There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weapons? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own . . .

How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a global genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen.”

Source: The End of Faith, by Sam Harris, p. 128–129.

https://askepticalhuman.com/miscellaneous/2017/11/26/the-truth-about-sam-harris-the-nuclear-first-strike-against-muslims

Talk about a can of worms . . . shall I rejoice in the fact that India didn’t take a page out of Sam Harris’s book and likely kill us all?

Anyway, science is a great tool for understanding (and harnessing) the world we live in. But when it comes to moral and ethical guidelines, one has to look elsewhere. Hence why I find it odd that so many apparently cite science as being their go to for such matters.

What am I missing?

8.) Americans like atheists less than they like members of most major religious groups. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey asked Americans to rate groups on a “feeling thermometer” from zero (as cold and negative as possible) to 100 (the warmest, most positive possible rating). U.S. adults gave atheists an average rating of 41, comparable to the rating they gave Muslims (40) and far colder than the average given to Jews (63), Catholics (62) and evangelical Christians (61).

One doesn’t need a study to know the reasons for this. Jews, Catholics and evangelicals are more alike to most people (religious) than misunderstood and often demonized heathens. This doesn’t account for the cold shoulder towards Muslims, but racism does.

Yes, I know that Islam isn’t a race. However, it’s all about what ignorant people think Muslims look like, and what these people think Islam is.
In reality, both run the gambit. However, since many in first world countries tend to be ignorant (sometimes proudly so) OR are listening to faux-intellectuals like Sam Harris quote Pew polls (Hello agian!), Islam often boils down to this:

1.) Muslims are anyone halfway between Caucasian and African American who wear any type of turban. This often times mistakenly encompasses Sikh’s as well, even though that belief system has origins in India.

2.) A majority of Muslims respond to a survey in favour of such barbaric practices as stoning homosexuals and murdering heathens like myself.

Notice the italics on barbaric.

That was not meant to question the morality of the practice of murdering homosexuals. It’s more meant to highlight the irony of many of these types taking THAT as barbaric, meanwhile not batting an eyelash to all manner of threatening speech aimed at a whole laundry list of their fellow citizens. Though social media greed served as the can of gas needed to rekindle this fire, the sentiment was always there.

I have heard such from people where I live. Justin Trudeau has many enemies, let me tell you that.
And I even have examples in the ecosystem that is this blog. In the comment section of a post exploring an organization called the european brotherhood. I learned of them through a sticker left on a light pole.

Some examples:

Why would you donate to a local Mosque other than you’re a terrorist? Do you choose to live under Sharia Law by Muslim rapists and terrorists? Are you a misogynist that hates his own race brainwashed by “White Guilt? Are you just a loser that’s seeking attention you’re unable to find elsewhere? Are you just some random clown SJW that believes in the false God of equality?

Fine, not exactly barbaric. More, descriptive of symptoms of the disease in which we find ourselves fighting. Also, the context is he said he would buy a T-shirt from the European Brotherhood, and I said I would donate to a local mosque. I figured it to be an amusingly triggering retort.

Whoda thought . . .  I was right!

Mate, you hit the nail on the head. These SJW’s will understand one day they’ve been played like a fiddle, by the Zionist Elite to self destruct. The true European is proud of their unique heritage, language and culture. There is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve your own race). Every race has a right to preserve their culture and to self determination (except the European man). I’m not responsible for what happened centuries ago. These Cultural Marxists should all be tied to a tree and bitch slapped back to reality like the brain dead indoctrinated useful idiots they are..


mbman “You mean innocent white Europeans? Let’s be honest here.” end quote. Are you suggesting that the 1400 British girls were not innocent and deserved to be sexually assaulted for 16 years? Are you suggesting that the European that walks home after working a long day is not innocent and deserves to get mugged and assaulted?

It is you that needs to be honest because you have absolutely no morals nor empathy for the innocent (unless of course they are non Whites). It is you that is the profound racist, racist to indigenous Europeans.

I do not know why I bother with you because you have the intelligence and empathy of a bar of soap, and for fuk sake, the soap has been debunked (you know what I mean).

You truly disgust me because you are morally corrupt, with nothing in your heart but hate, and contempt for all Europeans (even the innocent) as you have just alluded to, in your last hateful comment.

Tell me: how long were you brainwashed in the indoctrination camps, also known as the education system?

I have no patience for you anymore, the only thing you deserve is the rope, and that day will come soon for everyone like you, because you condone rape of innocent little British girls, and the murder of innocent Europeans! Shame on you!

You are a filthy disgusting pathetic mere shell of a human being, and you dare say you are Canadian. I have been to Canada 4 times, and all my family, and Canadians I know never behave like the animal you are.

Now you can do the usual Marxist nonsense, and call me a racist and Nazi for wanting to live like a civilized human being. By the way, are you still attending all those Antifa protests you love so much? I bet that “Squatting Slav” would love to interview you for youtube to highlight your stupidity.

https://mbman.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-on-earth-is-the-european-brotherhood/

Ordinary, supposedly civilized people can be just as barbaric as the inhuman other in which they choose to affix a target. And as for faux-intellectuals cherrypicking surveys . . . if we’re quick to make snap judgements over entire cohorts based on such responses:

1.) Should we be worried about extreme right-wing fringe Christian groups as well? Extreme right-wing groups in general?

2.) Such intellectual discourse does far more to spur on individuals like the 2 above than you realize. If commenter #2 wanted, he could easily have cited Sam Harris.

If anything on this blog were so easily fitting to fascist ideology, you can bet that I would give my head a shake and consider where I had made such a wrong turn.

Anyway, now that we are WAY in the weeds, back to facts about atheists.

9.) About half of Americans (51%) say they would be less likely to support an atheist candidate for president, more than say the same about a candidate with any other trait mentioned in a Pew Research Center survey – including being Muslim. This figure, while still high, has declined in recent years – in early 2007, 63% of U.S. adults said they would be less likely to support an atheist presidential candidate. There are currently no self-described atheists serving in Congress, although there is one House member, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who describes herself as religiously unaffiliated.

Again, we’re back to the lack of trust thing for this figure. Though it is interesting that Muslims are regarded more warmly than atheists in this category. Must be based in the moral compass of the individual . . .  Muslims obviously have one, how can an atheist have one?

Also, I also wonder if new generations entering adulthood are changing this figure as well.

10.) About half of Americans (53%) say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral, while 45% say belief in God is necessary to have good values, according to a 2014 survey. In other wealthy countries, smaller shares tend to say that a belief in God is essential for good morals, including just 15% in France. But in many other parts of the world, nearly everyone says that a person must believe in God to be moral, including 99% in Indonesia and Ghana and 98% in Pakistan.

Also self-explanatory, really. Where there is a high percentage of adherence to religious ideology, people that fall outside of that paradigm are considered untrustworthy.

Though I just recently found this piece, I realize that it is potentially old news. Mostly based on data from 2016, and posted (or at least dated) June 1, 2016. Even so, however, much of the material (certainly what resides closer to the end) should have stood the test of time.

Can Prostitution Ever Be Justified?

Today’s topic is a touchy one. One that I have taken on before.

I should note that it’s less about the topic than it is the argument provided. The viewpoint that is there is no way that prostitution can ever be morally (ethically?) justified.

Period.

When I last tackled this using an article written by Christopher Hedges back in 2015, I took issue based on the fact that this view seemed to have a glaringly obvious flaw. That is, blanket justifications leave no room for deviating opinions. To be frank, activists speaking on behalf of all women. All seemingly drawing conclusions both based on a flawed view of reality (the sex work status quo will ALWAYS be as dangerous as it is now!) and seemingly abandoning a core principle of feminism. The notion that is, your body is your domain.

However, times have changed and so have I. As such, maybe it would be helpful to revisit this topic and see if I missed something. See if I may end up coming to a different conclusion.

In pursuing this, I will quote and comment on yet another Truthdig article. This one written by Julie Bindel (journalist, researcher and activist in the global campaign to end violence against women and children).

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-real-face-of-prostitution/

“I honestly believe it stops rape,” Benjamin told me. “It allows men to let off steam and have our natural urges met.” Benjamin was talking about the benefits of prostitution. It is good for women, he argued, because rather than rape, men can have sex how and when they want by paying for it with a prostituted woman. For men, it ensures their needs are met. In Benjamin’s view, everyone is happy.

But his assertions are as far from the reality of the sex trade as possible. Men are not programmed to rape if they cannot get immediate access to sex, and there is no such thing as a “right” to sex. “When men claim that prostitution reduces rape,” sex trade survivor Fiona Broadfoot says, “What they really mean is that it is OK to rape prostituted women, which is how we experience sex with johns. Prostitution is rape.”

Nothing like getting a running start. Oh boy . . .

1.) I have heard the sexual needs and urges line before. Hell, if I’m honest, such may have even escaped my lips at some point in my life. Not speaking about ME per se, but of the male experience generally.

Is sex a necessity for males?

According to Focus on the Family, yes.

One of the biggest differences between you and your husband is the fact that he experiences sex as a legitimate physical need. Just as your body tells you when you’re hungry, thirsty, or tired, your husband’s body tells him when he needs a sexual release. Your husband’s sexual desire is impacted by what’s around him but is determined by biological factors, specifically the presence of testosterone in his body.

Immediately after sexual release, men are physically satisfied. But as their sexual clock ticks on, sexual thoughts become more prevalent, and they are more easily aroused. The physical need for sexual release intensifies as sperm builds in the testicles. The body continues to produce and store sperm, although sperm production fluctuates based on levels of testosterone and the frequency of sexual release.

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex-and-intimacy/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs/sex-is-a-physical-need

Gotta admit, I never thought that was going to be the first stop on this journey.

Samson was a strapping young man whose attention was seized by a beautiful Philistine woman. He told his parents, “Go get her for me,” which they did. (I guess they never read The Strong-Willed Child!) During the wedding feast, Samson taunted the Philistine guests with a riddle, betting them that they couldn’t solve it. Samson’s brand new wife told her kinsmen the answer to the riddle and ended up marrying Samson’s friend. The next time we see Samson with a woman, he is sleeping with a prostitute.

Fast-forward several years to Delilah, another beautiful woman. Three times, Samson lied to Delilah about the source of his strength. Three times Delilah betrayed her lover. Yet Samson stayed with her and eventually confided the true secret of his prowess. As strong as Samson’s muscles were, his sex drive appears to have been stronger.

We often look at a man’s sexual desire as a weak link or an Achilles’ heel. As with Samson or David, the promise of fleeting pleasure has the power to strip him of all that he values in life. However, what can be a source of evil can also be a force of great good. Just as twisted women are able to pull men into sin, virtuous women can use the influence of sex to call men to morality, love, and godliness.

Like many wives, you may be desperate to work on your marriage. You may long for your husband to read relationship books with you or attend marriage seminars (and actually take notes). If you really want his attention, work with the way God designed him. A great sex life won’t solve the problems in your marriage; however, it will fortify your husband’s desire and commitment to work toward intimacy. Your sexual relationship may be the “on-ramp” to communication, conflict resolution, and building the emotional intimacy you are longing for.

 

I didn’t think I would EVER find myself referencing Focus on the Family for ANYTHING, let alone their Understanding Your Husbands Sexual Needs series. However, running into the piece brought to mind another entity. An entity that seems to be operating out of more or less the same theistic headspace, but with a much different take on the issue.

Let’s just say the duties you have to your husband or partner are more than just implied.

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/women-who-stray/201805/monogamy-and-violence

Dr. Jordan Peterson, firebrand Canadian psychologist, was described recently as suggesting that enforced monogamy would be a way to reduce male violence. Peterson allegedly stated this in response to a question regarding the recent Canadian violence involving an individual involved with the “Incel” online community. The Incel term describes males who report they are “involuntarily celibate,” and unable to secure a girlfriend or female mate. These online discussion groups have become increasingly misogynist, with the premise that women are treating them poorly, withholding sexual contact.

Following the Incel incident in Canada, there was a brief flurry of outrage in response to suggestions that society “redistribute sex.” An economics professor, Robin Hanson, who suggested this, argued that the Incel movement reflected an uncomfortable truth, that there were men who wanted to have sex, but were unable to do so. Their angry, even potentially violent, dissatisfaction, could, in theory, be assuaged by tactics which increased their access to sex. Hanson suggested that legalized prostitution, education or training, promotion of monogamy and discouraging promiscuity, were all strategies which might more equitably distribute the opportunity to have sex across a wider range of persons.

The redistribution of sex was widely reacted to as indicating some form of legalized rape, where women might be forced somehow to be sexual with men they would not otherwise have chosen. The history of child brides for instance, married off to wealthy men in state- and religion-sanctioned communities, seems an example of this – on the face of it, an unlikely idea, showing that in fact, there are societies where women are forced to be sexual with men in order to serve social interests.

Both Hanson and Peterson seem to believe that monogamy is, in some ways, a social protection or prevention against violence. Peterson later argued that what he was referring to was the history of social enforcement of monogamy, and not the idea that the government should somehow get involved in regulating or mandating monogamy within consensual relationships.

 

I would love to hear what both Hanson and Peterson think about a legalized and well-regulated sex trade industry as a possible solution. Okay, not REALLY (I hate Jordon Peterson). I just . . . figure that this likely didn’t occur to either. Entirely possible, since reading this brought the whole Incel thing back to my attention.

 

Note, however, that all of these arguments are based on the treatment of sex with females, and reproduction, as economic commodities. Women have something which men desire, and perhaps even need, in order to reproduce. When female sexuality is treated as an economic resource, it does indeed support the notion that this resource may be utilized or controlled in utilitarian manner, to further social interests. Men who cannot mate or get a date, are viewed as inferior, broken and worthless.

In much of today’s world, however, far different than our history, female sexuality is not seen as property, to be sold through dowries or taken as a right of privilege. The #Metoo movement, amongst a long history of feminist reform, has placed control and “ownership” of female sexuality in the women themselves, rejecting the “rights” of powerful men to treat women as sexual objects. It has only been in a few societies in human past, where women held economic control or independence, and in those rare societies, women often also held control of their sexuality and mated with whom they chose.

Where Peterson and Hanson’s arguments fail, is that they are using data, research, evidence, and theories, based on our dark past, where women did not hold the right to choose what to do with their own sexuality. The history of socially- and religiously-enforced monogamy was one in which female sexuality was property, and marriage was based on economics. The reason that the Incel movement is angry at women, rather than society at large, is that these young men recognize that when women are given the right to choose, they are not choosing them.

 

One thing we can all agree on, we all THINK that appeasing the male libido is a necessity of life. Though calling it a necessity is certainly a stretch, it’s not a stretch to say that sex adds to the richness of many lives. If it is a consenting act between 2 or more adults (who are we to judge?), then I don’t see the problem.

However, no one is owed or entitled to sex. If your approach to this topic is on that basis, then you are WAY off the mark.

End of story.

2.)

But his assertions are as far from the reality of the sex trade as possible. Men are not programmed to rape if they cannot get immediate access to sex, and there is no such thing as a “right” to sex. “When men claim that prostitution reduces rape,” sex trade survivor Fiona Broadfoot says, “What they really mean is that it is OK to rape prostituted women, which is how we experience sex with johns. Prostitution is rape.”

It seems that we find ourselves going full circle. From men that think they have a right to a woman’s body, to women that think they have a right to speak for all women. There is no such thing as truly consensual sex with a prostitute, as this survivor would have you believe.

I do understand what she is saying. When the sex trade is the last option you have for making a living, the act of sex (whether or not John’s take it too far) is less intimate and pleasurable than it is invasive and shaming. If anything, it is an indictment of a society at large that left so few options open for women in such a situation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also take into account sex trafficking. Not all prostitution is necessarily consensual, even on the basis of my previous statement.

Having taken that all into consideration though, I still am unwilling to concede to a blanket statement speaking on behalf of an entire gender. Though I don’t disagree with the points as raised, I have to add the caveat that this is pertaining to the sex trade as it stands now. Which would seem to make this viewpoint akin to supporting the criminalization of drugs on account to all the problems brought on BY an unregulated drug market.

Where I was going to go from here was “Not unlike with drug legalization, the world has yet to experiment with the concept of a society with a fully legal and regulated sex work industry”. The problem is, that isn’t true. Though many first world nations seem to have settled for the decriminalization of the sale but criminalization of purchase, many nations have gone further than that.

Prostitution laws vary across the world. Some countries, including the United States, outright ban prostitution. Other nations such as France, Canada, Iceland, and Norway do not prohibit the selling of sex but have made it illegal to pay for sexual acts.

In other nations, prostitution is legal. These countries include:

In some nations, local laws are used to regulate, permit, or prohibit prostitution. This includes:

http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/countries-where-prostitution-is-legal/

When it comes to sex trafficking, I would argue that the current day status quo of most destination countries of victims has a lot to do with why the phenomenon is still so prevalent. Let’s take, for example, Nigeria.

Nigeria has a rampant sex trafficking problem. Although with the caveat that most of that traffic seems to be outbound. Vulnerable women tricked into what is increasingly often a long and dangerous journey by sea into Europe (and elsewhere).

According the US State Department’s latest Trafficking In Persons report, last year NAPTIP reported 654 investigations, with 23 convictions for trafficking offenses.
“We’re prosecuting the small fries in Nigeria,” says Julie Okah-Donli, director general of NAPTIP. “Absolutely the number one problem is the inability of destination countries to clamp down on their own criminal networks.
“We’ve looked at the root causes in Nigeria without addressing the root causes in the destination countries,” she says. “What is being done to reduce the demand for this crime?”
If I were to speculate, I would say that the message between the lines is more prohibition is wanted on the part of the destination countries. Or at very least, more clamping down on the supporting criminal enterprises. More of the same, which equates to putting a bandaid on a reoccurring issue.
Say what you want about the market for sex. How it ties into the inhumane nature of capitalism. It’s certainly symbolic of a greater picture.

Even if one chooses that stance, however, we know where this leads if we legislate on this basis. Criminal organizations don’t care about your moral or ethical objections to prostitution. Just as criminal organizations don’t care about your moral or ethical objections to the sale of drugs. Morals and ethics be damned, there is a market (there always has been, and likely always will be!) for sex.

The only rational reaction is one of pragmatism.
You CAN keep sticking to your morals or ethics as a guideline for legislation. But in the real world, such is hardly more productive than praying for the victims. Because it will ALWAYS be easier to run a criminal enterprise in a prohibitive country than it will be for the country to eliminate ALL of the offenders. PERIOD.
In this light, it would seem that moral and ethical stances are worth little more than personal comfort, possibly even agents of absolution.
I didn’t do this . . . I’m on the right side of the situation.
Meanwhile, women and girls are still being trafficked out of exploited nations and murdered in an effectively lawless paradigm.

Over the past two decades, I have interviewed scores of men who pay for sex—in legal brothels and illegal massage parlors, and on the street. I have heard every justification from these men, including one about helping women feed their kids with the money exchanged for sex. Although prostitution—both buying and selling sex—is illegal across most of the U.S., very few sex buyers are ever arrested. Prostituted women, however, are heavily and unjustly criminalized, despite evidence that the vast majority are coerced and exploited into the sex trade.

2 words.

Coerced and exploited. I again wonder if this is just status quo tunnel vision.

The link in the paragraph above contains this:

If the demand to purchase people for sex did not exist, then opportunists such as pimps, traffickers, and exploitative adults would have no one to sell to. However, there is a demand, and a very profitable one. The selling of people sexually grossed an estimated $32 billion in 2012 (United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012).

The majority of those who purchase someone for sex acts have a regular consensual sexual partner (Durchslag & Goswami, 2008). The person purchased for sex is often viewed by the purchaser as less than human. This dehumanization of those involved in prostitution is a key factor in the high levels of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against them, as evidenced by these quotes from a 2008 study by Durchslag and Goswami:

In a confidential survey conducted by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (2008, 66% of those interviewed who had purchased someone for sex said they believe women became involved in prostitution out of economic necessity. In addition, the study noted the following:

54% of those interviewed had exchanged drugs for sex.

19% had exchanged shelter for sex; other items of value exchanged included food, transportation, and clothing.

57% believed the majority of women in prostitution experienced some type of childhood sexual abuse.

32% believed the majority of women in prostitution entered before the age of 18.

20% stated they had bought sex from women who had been trafficked from other countries.

The qualitative responses of those interviewed in the survey that admitted to purchasing people for sex demonstrate that those driving the demand are well aware of the harm being done and that those they purchase are exploited:

Criminal Justice Responses to Purchasers of Prostitution

Educational programs and initiatives have been instituted to deter the sexual purchasing of others and to punish consumers. People who purchase others sexually are often refered to as “johns”. Therefore, the term “john schools,” describes programs designed to deter men from continually purchasing commercial sex. John schools provide information about the legal and health consequences of purchasing sex, the social dynamics that play out in prostitution, and sexual addiction (Gillings & Willough, 2010).

Proponents of john schools believe that these programs are the best way to lessen the demand for prostitution. On the other hand, there is research that suggests that john schools are not adequate deterrents on their own merits. A primary component of john schools involves requiring participants to pay a fee for the course; however, often this does not serve as a deterrent for the large population of customers that have substantial financial means. Many cite the cost-effectiveness of john schools using this fee-for-service model, but there is not substantial data indicating the true effectiveness of these types of programs. Although john schools might have their place in the spectrum of deterrence, there are other, more effective mechanisms for deterring the purchasing of commercial sex acts.

https://pcar.org/sites/default/files/pages-pdf/the_intersection_between_prostitution_and_sexual_violence.pdf

What have we learned from this pamphlet?

1.) Many sex industry workers are there due to coercion or exploitation

2.) Johns (at least the ones that tend to respond to surveys) tend to be assholes

So the solution to this problem is . . .  John Schools. Let’s make these men pay to take a class to educate (shame! Let’s be honest here) them out of ever paying money for sexual gratification again. Because that method worked SO well when it came to steming the market for drugs over the 50 odd years of the ongoing drug war.

This pamphlet is not helpful to the overall cause it claims to tackle. It’s just a condescending document which effectively enables EXACTLY the phenomenon it claims to be fighting.

Pragmatism saves lives. Moral grandstanding just drives the industry deeper underground.

Nevada is the one state in which prostitution—including pimping, brothel owning and sex buying—is legalized. It is allowed in only seven of its counties, but research into the Nevada sex trade shows that legalization has resulted in prostitution becoming normalized across the entire state. The majority of visitors to Las Vegas believe that prostitution is completely legal in the city. That allows men to easily justify paying for sex.

With debate currently raging in Nevada about whether or not to close its legal brothels, and pro-prostitution lobbyists in New York City now pushing for its sex trade to be decriminalized, it is imperative that the focus shifts from the women selling sex to the men who drive the demand.

That is why recently published research on men who pay for sex, by Demand Abolition (DA), a U.S. group that campaigns against sexual exploitation, is both timely and vital.

Its research shows that the majority of men in the U.S. choose not to pay for sex, but that the “creeping normalization” of the sex trade leads to a prevailing view that prostitution is a victimless crime. And in countries and states with legalized prostitution, rates of sex trafficking increase.

First off, I don’t think anyone should have to justify paying for sex. Period.

When it comes to Nevada, although having debate is a healthy thing, one benchmark that should be considered is risk analysis. Anti-prostitution activists feel that the data is on their side. But some also point out that the data has a distinctly cherry picked quality.

Even more misleading are No Little Girl’s charges that legal sex work makes a woman 26 times (or, as another statistic claims, 1,660 percent) more likely to be sexually assaulted than women in neighboring counties. While these stats are based on real FBI crime statistics, they only take into account a few years of data in just two Nevada counties. A broad look across all of Nevada — including counties with legal sex work where assault rates are low — show no correlation between assaults and the presence or absence of legal sex work.

Meanwhile, a number of studies of countries where sex work is legal have routinely found that legalization or decriminalization of sex work is often correlated with lower rates of sexual assault. When Rhode Island accidentally legalized indoor prostitution (a rewrite of its overly broad prostitution laws wound up deleting the language making it illegal) for a number of years, reported rapes declined by 31 percent after; when the Netherlands opened “tippelzones,” or areas where street prostitution is legal, reports of rape and sexual abuse declined by a similar percentage over the first two years.

This decline could be attributed to a number of other factors — including country culture or other laws related to sexual assault — but it’s worth noting.

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/5/29/17404736/sex-workers-nevada-fosta-sesta

Also:

None of this is to say that a legalized brothel system is perfect or above reproach. Nevada’s regulations dramatically limit who can participate in the legal sex work system — if a brothel doesn’t hire you, you can’t work legally. Since few brothels are interested in hiring men or trans women, the system is effectively closed off to those groups. Additionally, some of the expenses and registration requirements can feel punitive and off-putting, making it harder for the most vulnerable women to work safely and legally within the system.

It’s these types of restrictions that have led many human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, to argue that sex work decriminalization — or the removal of criminal penalties for sex work, without additional regulation or restrictions on who can sell sex — is preferable to some legal sex work systems, such as those found in Nevada, Germany, Amsterdam, and Tunisia.

Yet in spite of its flaws, the Nevada brothel system is still leaps and bounds ahead of the criminal penalties most of the country imposes on all people who choose to exchange sex for money. Rather than rolling back the progress Nevada has achieved, we should be looking to the state as an inspiration for pursuing even more progressive policies that empower and uplift people who choose sex work as an occupation.

But so long as we allow our arguments about sex work to be led by morality rather than harm reduction, we’ll continue to fall prey to the kind of knee-jerk anti-sex work zealotry displayed by No Little Girl. And our sex work policies — and the safety of sex workers — will continue to suffer as a result.

Truly understanding the lives of sex workers, and the policies that help them, requires putting aside our personal feelings about sexuality and listening to the experiences of sex workers. It requires recognizing that sex work is work, even if it’s work we’re not interested in or willing to do ourselves. It requires understanding that eliminating sex work is no more feasible than eliminating abortion — people will find a way — and that making sex work safer should be our collective goal.

Don’t think I could have said it any better.

Its research shows that the majority of men in the U.S. choose not to pay for sex, but that the “creeping normalization” of the sex trade leads to a prevailing view that prostitution is a victimless crime. And in countries and states with legalized prostitution, rates of sex trafficking increase.

Speaking of cherry picking, I return to this quote.

First off, I don’t disagree. It’s a matter of supply versus demand. Where a market is opened up, someone is going to fill it. In this case, the authorities have only tackled half the problem. Though they greatly reduced many of the risks involved in sex work, human trafficking was not considered as a factor.

Going about this the proper way involves us to collectively confront what is normally an icky topic for many of us, it would seem.

Sex.

They have different reasons, from the religious to the ridiculous. But most of them leave no room for the acceptance of true sexual freedom. And no, I don’t mean freedom for pigs to go on raping sprees without consequence. I mean, the freedom for women to openly share their positive relationship with casual sex without having to dodge the idiotic double standards that societies are all too happy to promote.
It’s honestly hard to see how this doesn’t factor into the whole “prostitution is not justifiable. PERIOD” movement. When it comes to women open to (or embracing) sex work as a profession, I suspect they are not consulted because they are looked down upon.

Either way, the path to puting a big dent in human trafficking filling market voids with indentured sex workers is frankly, to promote the profession.
Yes, I know that even the most progressive societies are likely around 60 years behind embracing such a movement. But it is the only way. It is ridiculous that double standards still have so much power to hold down half of the worlds entire population. Enough with the high school antics.

It’s time for our species to collectively grow up.

And speaking of cherry picking . . . a segment from the study linked in the Truthdig article.

The article concludes: “The likely negative consequences of legalised prostitution on a country’s inflows of human trafficking might be seen to support those who argue in favour of banning prostitution, thereby reducing the flows of trafficking. However, such a line of argumentation overlooks potential benefits that the legalisation of prostitution might have on those employed in the industry. Working conditions could be substantially improved for prostitutes—at least those legally employed—if prostitution is legalised. Prohibiting prostitution also raises tricky “freedom of choice” issues concerning both the potential suppliers and clients of prostitution services.”

Thank you.

Back to the original article.

The DA research is based on the behavior and attitudes of johns. More than 8,000 adult men across the U.S. were interviewed, and a number of sex-trade survivors were asked to give their views on the research and make recommendations for change. One survivor involved in the research is Marian Hatcher. Hatcher, a victim advocate in the anti-trafficking division of Chicago’s Cook County Sheriff’s Office, was one of the peer reviewers.

“The report benefits survivors by acknowledging [that] the unequal playing field needs to be leveled, holding buyers accountable,” Hatcher says. “It provides victims and exited abolitionist sex-trade survivors [with] hope, hope that they will live in a society that provides exit opportunities and educates would-be buyers of the harms. I would like to see the policy recommendations in the report applied to both the illegal and legal sex trade. You cannot adequately impact one without the other. Together they promote the commodification of human beings, promoting violence against women and girls.”

The commodification factor is there, no matter what. All the education and deterrence in the world is not going to change this.

The answer is:

1.) Lessoning the inherent risks of an underground industry by moving it above board.

2.) Allow women to have true freedom of autonomy.

I’m starting to feel like I am being repetitive.

The DA interviews focused on “push factors” (why men pay for sex) and potential deterrents. The group considers the act of paying for sex harmful, both to the women who are exploited and to wider society, because a global culture of misogyny is on the side of the john. There are some universal similarities about men who pay for sex. Research I conducted with Melissa Farley, a clinical psychologist and coordinator of the California nongovernmental organization Prostitution, Research & Education, found that among U.K. johns, one key push factor was peer pressure from other men, within the culture of acceptance that surrounds prostitution.

The U.K. research concluded that even the lightest of deterrents, such as the threat of arrest, the risk of family members or employers being informed of johns’ actions, or details being added to a police database, can be effective. Aside from entrenched buyers, such deterrents would usually make men think twice about paying for sex.

The DA findings tell us that only about 6% of American men who pay for sex (outside the legal zones in Nevada) report having been arrested for it. When buyers perceive that risk, it could lead them to alter their activities. About one-quarter of buyers “strongly agree” that “the risk of arrest is so high I might stop.”

We are having (in some ways, have already had!) this conversation. Just switch out sex for marijuana use and procurement.
Yes, apples to oranges. None the less were dealing with an inevitable tide. If all of the might and resources of the United States Government could not stomp out drug use, how do you expect to completely stomp out an activity that is arguably even more of a human right?

We’ve been down this road. It has not helped. It WILL not help. PEOPLE ARE STILL DYING!

Shall we still keep digging in our heels, then?

The DA research found that what the group referred to as “high-frequency” buyers account for a disproportionately large share of the illegal sex trade. Around one quarter of active johns report paying for sex weekly or monthly, and these transactions account for almost three-quarters of the market. These buyers are more likely to have started at a young age, with the help or encouragement of others in their social networks.

There is a lot of money involved in the sex trade, with much of it going to pimps, brothel owners and drug dealers. On average, American sex buyers spend more than $100 per transaction. Prostitution generates vast profits—estimated at $1 billion a year in the U.K. and $186 billion globally. It is capitalism at its most ruthless and predatory, with human beings as the products.

How is it, then, that so many men consider the pinnacle of women’s freedom as being penetrated by multiple male strangers? And why have so many leftist individuals and organizations, such as the International Labour Organization and Amnesty International,  adopted the pro-prostitution line?

Who appointed you and your like-minded colleagues the official representatives of half of an entire global population?

And do you have any real world deployable solutions to this problem that are NOT completely tied to the rest of the world fully sharing your world view?

These so-called human rights organizations take the “sex work is work” line, despite the adoption of the Nordic Model, or, as it is increasingly referred to, the Abolitionist Model, by Sweden, Norway, Finland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Israel and France. Under this approach, prostituted people are decriminalized and given assistance in exiting the sex trade, but the buyers are criminalized. Although there is significant and growing support for the Abolitionist Model, those who believe in the inalienable right of men to buy sex consider it an abomination. When the law was being debated in France in 2013, a group of high-profile French intellectuals signed a petition that stated: “Some of us have gone, go, or will go to prostitutes—and we are not even ashamed.” They added, “Everyone should be free to sell their charms, and even to love doing it.”

A recent op-ed in Teen Vogue by a South African doctor, titled “Why Sex Work Is Real Work,” made the claim that “[t]he clients who seek sex workers vary, and they’re not just men. The idea of purchasing intimacy and paying for the services can be affirming for many people who need human connection, friendship, and emotional support. Some people may have fantasies and kink preferences that they are able to fulfill with the services of a sex worker.” Aside from the disgrace of a publication aimed at girls and young women promoting commercial sexual exploitation as a viable career option, such propaganda perpetuates feelings of male sexual entitlement.

Well, I guess I know where we stand on my previous proposal. Sex as a career opportunity . . .  NEVER!!!!!!

The op-ed actually discusses an interesting dynamic which isn’t often discussed openly. The fact that societies are growing more and more isolated. In particular, younger generations are entering a world which is often devoid of meaningful opportunities but filled with terrible role models. Though the vast majority of this isn’t tragic . . . some of it can go to REALLY dark places.

Where the sex trade could fit into this paradigm, is apparent. Though I have to be careful not to go the Peterson route, if people want to pay other people for companionship . . . so?

A person wants to pay an openly consenting partner to do things that are not typical behaviour in an ordinary bedroom?
Fine.
Why should I care if they pay someone or meet someone on a bring like minds together app?

I’ve become convinced that author Julie Bindel is less concerned about saving lives than she is in forwarding an agenda. An agenda that is hard to describe as anything BUT anti-female autonomy.

The continued existence of the sex trade relies on misogyny, class prejudice, racism, colonialism and imperialism. “If leftists can’t see how harmful the sex trade is to women,” says Bridget Perrier, a Native Canadian survivor, “you would think they would give a damn about the racism and colonialism it is built upon.”

Many of the 50 sex-trade survivors with whom I spent time while researching my book on the global sex trade, “The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth,” told me about the racism, bigotry and prejudice they faced as women of color. Indeed, many black sex-trade survivors link their prostitution experience to that of slavery. Vednita Carter, an African American sex-trade abolitionist, says, “The slave-trade era is where sex trafficking began for African American women. Even after slaves were free, black women and girls were still being bought and sold. Today, there are too many poor urban areas that middle-class men drive through for the sole purpose of finding a woman or girl of color to buy or use.”

In the U.S., prostituted women are disproportionately young African Americans and other women of color. One john I interviewed in a legal Nevada brothel told me that the main reason he paid for sex was so he could “try out different colors of chicks without dating them.”

I’m not going to take a black or Latino to meet my folks,” he told me, “but they sure are hot to fuck.”

In a country and a world that is built on the mistakes and flaws of the humans that constructed and run it, is it a surprise that this also shows up in the sex trade?

To say yes would be an indicator of extreme naivety.

Also, there is no need to keep backing up these claims using the quotes of assholes. We get the point. Some people are garbage.

According to the DA research, buyers and non-buyers hold strikingly different views on masculinity and sex buying. Non-buyers are much more likely than buyers to say that purchasing someone for sex involves treating females as objects, and that those actions exploit others.

1.) I have to wonder if the same feeling applies to the career prostitutes in Nevada who have no issue with their choice.

2.) Exploitation seems directly tied into how many opportunities are available OUTSIDE of the sex industry. If women are having to turn to sex work in lieu of having any other opportunities available, then why isn’t there more focus here?

These problems won’t be solved by moral grandstanding. Or feeling guilty.

Active buyers are very likely to say they are “just guys being guys” or “taking care of their needs.” But the research also found that many men who have bought sex in the past wish to stop. About one-third of active buyers interviewed said that they do not want to do it again.

Nevertheless, the strongest support for legalizing the U.S. sex trade, aside from the pimps and brothel owners, comes from buyers.

Many active buyers believe that the women “enjoy the act of prostitution” and “choose it as a profession.” During a recent trip to Amsterdam, I met a young man in the notorious window brothel area who told me he had first paid for sex when he was 12. “My father took me to a brothel, and said I would learn to be a man,” he told me. “It is legal here, so there is no problem.”

So, many buyers are naive.

This is something that a good non-judgemental public education campaign can hammer home. If it’s run in all public facing media spaces, it can be acknowledged without the need to actually seek out the information. A plus for those that might be seeing prostitutes on the down low.

But that is just the beginning. You know where I am going with this . . .

Prostitution is, in fact, fraught with danger. A review of homicides of women in street prostitution found that they are 60 to 100 times more likely to be murdered than other women. Johns and pimps are the main perpetrators of homicide and other violent crimes toward prostituted women—in 2017, between 57% and 100 percent of homicides of prostituted women in the U.S. were committed by sex buyers.

Research by Farley has found that men’s acceptance of prostitution helps to encourage and justify violence against women; DA research reached a similar conclusion. When men feel entitled to rent the inside of a woman’s body for one-sided sexual pleasure knowing that she is consenting because of the cash, it is no wonder that these men consider women to be subservient to them—an attitude that breeds contempt.

“Look, men pay for women because he can have whatever and whoever he wants. Lots of men go to prostitutes so they can do things to them that real women would not put up with,” one john told me. I have heard countless men describe the act of prostitution as masturbation without the effort.

The DA report concludes with recommendations that are endorsed by the sex-trade survivors who helped analyze the findings. One is to roll out public education messages that challenge the normalization of sex buying, and to focus on education and public health sectors to spread the word about the realities of the sex trade. Another is to implement mandatory minimum fines for convicted johns, which would go toward exit services for the women, education programs aimed at johns, and the policing of sex buyers.

When women are forced into seclusion when it comes to flaunting (or selling!) their sexuality due to societal discrimination, they end up in disproportionately more dangerous situations than if the transaction were to be legally condoned in a less risky environment. As long as prohibition is enforced on EITHER side of the fence (buyer or seller), women will remain in vulnerable situations. Sitting ducks for any and every person with any kind of malice intent.

Prohibition does not work.

Now, the final paragraph of the OP article:

The research could make a difference, by providing more evidence of the harms of prostitution, and by helping those struggling with the polarized debate on whether we are talking about “sex workers’ rights” and “women’s agency,” or the commercial sexual exploitation of vulnerable, prostituted people.

The 2 sides are not mutually exclusive.

What is needed, alongside such research, is for every one of us to imagine a world without prostitution, and to ask the question, “Why does it exist?” In a world where women and girls were liberated from male supremacy, in which we could live as equal human beings, prostitution would be starved of oxygen.

No.

We know why prostitution exists. Most societies can’t handle dealing with the icky details in which actually tackling the problem constructively would entail. So as a result, you either have societies collectively plugging their ears and yelling “LALALA!” when concerns are raised, or instituting half measures. Which entails either decriminalizing half of the transaction OR legalizing but otherwise staying hands off. Actions meant to combat an issue that can no longer be ignored (DEATHS!), but at the same time, keeping the issue at arm’s length.

It’s time to grow up and move on from this puritanical nonsense.

Prostitution is dangerous at the moment. And it is very much tied to human trafficking. However, with a bit of collaborative global leadership with the end goal of legalizing and regulating prostitution, I think that this black market could be dealt a huge blow. Though this won’t totally eliminate the black market sex industry, it will remove a lot of the risk by empowering women to come out of the shadows and into safer spaces. Rather than being forced into some strangers vehicle (or other spaces wherein they are vulnerable), they might be able to meet in a controlled space (like a regulated brothel!). A place where raising the alarm is as simple as a scream, or the press of a button. A place where both genders (no, ALL genders) can exercise freedom of choice. Away from the judging eyes and prying fingers of agenda-driven activists of all stripes.

Did THC Take It’s First Life?

Around 2 weeks ago, I discovered a service which Google provides called Alerts. Basically, when the search engine indexes anything pertaining to a given keyword into its database, Google emails you an alert to let you know. Or if the topic was fairly large, you will get a list of new results daily.
I decided to start following the keywords “Marijuana Research” because it’s one of my areas of research of late. And since anything of any pertinence to the topic isn’t going to be showing up for years (at minimum), this seemed a good way to keep in the loop.

Along with the useful stuff, you get other materials as well. Most of which tend to either be positive leaning opinion pieces or negative leaning news reports, most originating from local TV newsrooms around the US. Not surprising, given the bias which is often at play within these newscasts.

2 words . . . Sinclair Media.

Either way, marijuana hit pieces are just par for the course, at this point. However, this one is a whole new ball game altogether.

Coroner stands by report that woman died from THC

overdose

A coroner who said a woman died from a THC overdose, considered the first in the country, stands by his report. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in marijuana.

An unnamed 39-year-old woman died in February from a THC overdose, St. John the Baptist Coroner Dr. Christy Montegut said in his report released late last month, The Advocate reported.

This is (or as it stands, would be) a first. However, one of the things that jumped out at me about this was right in the headline. Coroner.

Though they share the same job as a medical examiner, the skill set is not always . . . required. Thanks to many factors, one of them including serious budget cuts in many areas of the US. An issue brought to my attention recently by John Oliver.

Before I go any further ahead, we have to go back a bit. Time for a history lesson.

How Qualified Is Your Coroner?

Introduced to the colonies by early settlers, the role of coroner dates back to English common law. King Richard I developed the system in the 12th century, partly to fund the expensive Crusades. “Crowners” as they were then known, conducted inquests on the king’s behalf to identify the deceased and investigate how they died, but more importantly, to collect death taxes on their estates.

The more than 2,000 coroner offices across the United States are vestiges of this royal system. Individual state statutes dictate whether death investigations — which include examining the scene, reviewing medical records, performing autopsies and determining the manner and cause of death — are conducted by a coroner or a medical examiner. As opposed to coroners, most medical examiner systems operate under the direction of a licensed physician, who is almost always trained in pathology and forensic science.

The Variations From State to State

More than 1,500 counties operate under a coroner system, where qualifications and expectations vary, according to the National Association of Medical Examiners.

  • Kansas, Ohio, and Louisiana require coroners to be certified forensic pathologists.
  • In Nebraska coroners are often also the county attorney.
  • Indiana and Wyoming require completion of a basic coroner-training course and some additional annual training. An 18-year-old made headlines when she was elected deputy coroner in Jay County, Ind. while still in high school.
  • Colorado state law encourages its coroners to have training in forensic death investigation methods, but it’s not required.
  • North Dakota requires that coroners be licensed physicians, but only in counties of more than 8,000 people.
  • Georgia requires that you be at least 25 years old, have no felony convictions, have a high-school education and complete a week’s training course in death investigation before you take the job.
  • In Wisconsin and West Virginia, non-physicians can serve as medical examiners.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/post-mortem/things-to-know/how-qualified-is-your-coroner.html

 

In reality, the coroner system (as noted) is an entire topic in itself. As it stands, however, not the topic at hand.

This source has served to relax some of my reservations, however. As noted above, Coroners in Louisiana have to be certified forensic pathologists, a title achieved through many studies. Though such a title doesn’t necessarily eliminate all human bias factors (as I learned here), at least we seem to be dealing with someone with the right qualifications to be making such a claim.

 

“I’m thinking this lady must have vaped this THC oil and got a high level in her system and (it) made her stop breathing, like a respiratory failure,” Montegut, who has served as coroner since 1988, told The Advocate.

However, experts are doubtful. There are no reports of teens or adults dying solely from marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year,” Keith Humphreys, a former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Advocate. “So, that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year. Let’s assume (that the woman died from THC) is a fact. What do you conclude from that? It doesn’t justify really anything from a policy viewpoint. It’s just so incredibly unlikely.”

Montegut stands by his report.

“I’m 100 percent sure of the readings we’ve found,” he told WWLT. “I definitely did some research before I came to the conclusion that this was the cause of death.”

 

Not included in the short republished version (quoted previously) of an article originating in The New Orleans Advocate is this:

 

Montegut said the THC in her system likely came through a vaping device with highly concentrated THC oil. A toxicology report said she had 8.4 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

Impaired driving can occur with as little as 2 nanograms of THC per milliliter, according to at least one study. But even more than four times that level shouldn’t have been nearly enough to be fatal, according to Bernard Le Foll, a professor and scientist at the University of Toronto who studies addiction.

“That number is not very high,” Le Foll said.

While there’s not a specific threshold considered by experts to be a lethal dose, based on his research, Le Foll estimated that any threshold would likely fall between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the THC level found in the LaPlace woman’s blood.

Past estimates have suggested that a person would need to smoke more than 20,000 joints to reach a potentially lethal THC toxicity.

Still, there’s no way to be sure how much THC was in the woman’s system when she died, Le Foll said, because by the time an autopsy was done, the THC concentration, which falls quickly, had certainly gone down.

https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_c695d6e2-7c0f-11e9-b608-d75bc0466efa.html

 

The last sentence is rather amusing. I’m pretty sure that is someone had somewhere in the area of 20,000 joints worth of THC in their system, tests would find more than hardly a trace of that number in their system.

Also within the New Orleans Advocate article (and not the subsequent reprint) is this:

St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut said last week that toxicology results for a 39-year-old LaPlace woman who died in February showed that she was killed by an excess amount of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.

“It looked like it was all THC because her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death. There was nothing else identified in the toxicology — no other drugs, no alcohol,” Montegut said. “There was nothing else.”

The woman’s name was not released.

Montegut, who has served as the St. John coroner since 1988, believes this could be an index case in medicine, perhaps the first death on record solely as a result of THC exposure.

 

And there it is, folks. The human factor.

Glory.

Imagine all the doors that would open if you are the first forensic pathologist with a proven case of death by THC on their resume. You end up with both reason to find your way to this end result, AND reason not to want to admit any possibility of error.

Some drug researchers and experts are skeptical.

Rightly so. This is more transparent than a broken window.

Later in the same article, you have this quote from Keith Humphreys, former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy:

“We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year,” said Humphreys. “So, that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year.”

Humphreys also said it’s not uncommon for coroners to see a drug in the system, with no other sign for what might have caused an event leading to death, and so conclude that the drug was the cause.

“There’s always some imperfection in these kinds of assessments,” he said.

 

At this point, I am comfortable with accepting the seemingly overwhelming evidence that this more than likely was not a death associated with THC. A potential lead to follow lies in the delivery method (is there something off with the vaping fluid?), but again, that is conjecture. Considering that this looks to be a one-off. And with many people vaping, you would think this would have shown up again.

Either way, I doubt that Dr. Cristy Montegut is willingly going to go back and recheck her work for validity (as though that would be credible anyway). It would be great for this to move on and for a 2ed (hopefully unbiased) physicians opinion to be heard on the matter. But that is unlikely, and arguably disrespecting the deceased.
Though not nearly as disrespectful as bringing this into the national (well, international) spotlight to begin with.

Either way, the damage is already done. The one track minded have potentially gained a source to cite for the 1st ever death related to THC. And no matter how thoroughly this may be debunked in the future, many will only see the preliminary diagnosis.

She probably didn’t die from THC poisoning. We may never know what she died from. Such is how the world works. We don’t always know the answer. We may never know the answer.

 

 

 

Marijuana – An Exploration (Part 4 – CBD)

CBD

It’s time to move on to another (in a way, THE other) cannabinoid of importance in relation to this discussion. That cannabinoid is CBD. A cannabinoid that is increasingly characterized by its absence in a great many strains of unregulated marijuana crops being sold these days. Granted, strains lacking the cannabinoid to various degrees are available legally. The difference being that in this avenue, you KNOW and can make a choice. As opposed to being tied to whatever your dealers can scrap out of their supply chain. Which tends to be the good stuff.

It’s just the law of the market. There is far more money in high potency strains for repeat users than there is in more mellow CBD heavy stains for novice to infrequent users. Or to put it another way, yet another area in which the decades-long status quo has created a huge problem for society.

One good example of this is the extreme scaremongering argument that is “Marijuana = Schizophrenia!”. It is true that there can be an association. However, did you know that CBD has a role to play here as well? In particular, that it’s absence is a big reason why high potency THC strains can serve as a trigger to problems far from just the mere munchies?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DlFcMWdsxw

https://www.leafly.ca/news/cannabis-101/whats-the-deal-with-these-high-cbd-strains

I love Marketplace. The show is worth ten times its cost in educational value. It was this episode that initially turned me onto the important role in which CBD plays, to begin with.

Though legalized marijuana and THC products are relative newcomers to the market (well, the above ground market), CBD has been available even previous to legalization in some areas. Since it’s not inherently psychoactive, many jurisdictions didn’t object it being derived or sale. Granted, the finished product had to stay a threshold of 0.5 to 4% THC content (depending on the locality) in order to remain legal.

Unsurprisingly, this substance (particularly CBD oil) is starting to make a splash in the alternative health scene. Though the cannabinoid mirrors THC in the lack of detailed information that we have on the substance, this has yet to stop snake oil salesman from making bold claims about its medicinal properties. Some that go all the way to citing it as a cure to autism.

Part of this is the hands-off nature in which supplements are regulated in the United States, and elsewhere. It’s easy to get your foot in the door when there is no one standing guard. FDA and Health Canada’s regulation for supplements is a joke.

As proven by marketplace!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCADoLKMSFc

So, much like marijuana, the same obvious rules apply here. Don’t let the overzealous and unethical capitalists get the best of what can be a useful and therapeutic substance.

But on with the show.

While anyone with any knowledge of the marijuana plant knows about it’s most notable chemical property (Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for the rest of us), few know about its sister chemical property (Cannabidiol, or THC). THC is responsible for the more euphoric traits associated with marijuana consumption.

However, THC is also increasingly thought to be a trigger when it comes to mental issues typically associated with marijuana use (everything from anxiety to the schizophrenia connection). Which is where it’s longstanding sister property CBD comes in. Whilst THC is psychoactive, CBD seems to play the role of a sort of regulator when it comes to the THC intoxication experience. If I understand it correctly, it allows for the high without the potentially mentally risky rough edges associated with primary THC exposure only.

Alone, cannabidiol already has many usages in the medical field. It is at times utilized as a pain reliever. It also has been found to have positive effects in terms of mitigation of epileptic seizures. It is also utilized as an anti-nauseant for use in cancer patients. At a glance, it would seem that the uses mirror those attributed to THC. The big difference being the lack of psychoactive properties.

The National Institutes of Health has an even more fascinating list of conditions that are positively influenced by CBD exposure.

-Anorexia

-Emesis

-Pain

-Inflammation

-Multiple Sclerosis

-Neurodegenerative Disorders (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Tourette’s, Alzheimer’s)

-Epilepsy

-Glaucoma

-Osteoporosis

-Schizophrenia

-Cardiovascular Disorders

-Cancer

-Obesity

-Metabolic Syndrome related disorders

Some overlap with what I already mentioned. But a whole lot more. Including some quite unexpected listings. None the less, all patients potentially benefit from what is known as Cannabinoid Agonists/Antagonists/Cannabinoid Related Compounds.

Let’s unpack that.

Cannabinoid Antagonist – Also known as an anti-cannabinoid, this is a cannabinoidergic drug which binds to cannabinoid receptors, preventing activation by the bodies native endocannabinoids. These include antagonists, inverse agonists, and antibodies to cannabinoid receptors.

Inverse Agonists – These bind to the same receptor as an agonist, but elicits a response that is opposite to that of an agonist.

Cannabinoid Related Compound – While harder to nail down than the previous 2, it looks to be anything originating from the cannabis plant. Therein are at least 400 compounds, 80 of which are unique to the cannabis plant alone. All of which react to the human endocannabinoid system in different ways.

It seems that CBD is a very useful property all to its own. However, I suspect that it is often lumped in with it’s far more commonly known sister property THC. I can attest to this myself, as the distinction certainly wasn’t exactly clear to me at first glance (even as a pro-cannabis proponent!). But I suppose this will get better with time and public exposure. Whilst the capitalists will certainly market the differences, hopefully, the research side can keep up.

I opened this piece with the bold claim that was the seemingly unknown Yin and Yang relationship between THC and CBD, as played out in the marijuana plant. I have yet to quantify this claim with anything but speculation. So I shall take care of that issue now.

It looks like CBD’s previous role (as it stands much of the time, these days) was in modulating receptor signalling associated with THC, helping to mitigate the anxiety or paranoia sometimes related to THC intoxication. One of the ways in which this is accomplished is by activation of serotonin receptors (which reduces anxiety). I would hazard to guess that this is also the reason why it is utilized in the treatment of schizophrenia.

For a more in-depth analysis of the science surrounding CBD (it is both fascinating and in its infancy!), visit:

https://www.projectcbd.org/science/how-cbd-works

Marijuana – An Exploration (Part 3 – Addiction)

Part 3 – Addiction

Next, on the docket, we have addiction. Or rather the very important question that is, can marijuana be addictive?

Anything other than an automatic “YES!” would likely set off many a guidance counsellor, police officer, social worker, or anyone else with a distinctly distant relationship with the substance. This is not to say that they all don’t have a point. More, their interactions with many of these substances tend to be under negative circumstances. Police officers, guidance councillors and social workers would not be in the picture if those they were protecting were keeping it together. Though, as is insinuated by my use of italics, their presence can at times be reactionary.

So, is marijuana addictive?

Yes. But as in pretty much all other areas of life, there is a nuance curve.

One of the first areas one has to explore is the type of addiction one is dealing with. As explored a bit in the previous section, marijuana is known not to be a chemically addictive substance. Its addictive traits are thought to be strictly psychological. And whilst there can be withdrawal symptoms for heavy users, they are not dangerous (unlike those associated with say, alcohol or opiates). It works by way of the dopamine reward system, but there is no requirement of continued consumption to avoid harmful withdrawal symptoms.

Whilst I do take the anecdotal experiences of the agents of influence (police officers, social workers) in our society into consideration, reactionary rhetoric based on the horrors of drug use is hardly a helpful argument. It’s but a red herring. Given that with or without the presence of substances to abuse, there will always be irresponsible people.

In short, one can no more solely blame marijuana (nor any other substance, really) for neglectful parenting then one can blame a single gun for the perpetration of a school shooting. In either situation, disregarding all (or much of) the background nuances of the given situations is helpful for nothing but pushing an agenda. It does not serve to help current (or future!) victims of the same circumstance. It just ensures that there will always be more.

Nuance may not be an easy pill to swallow as a Red Pill argument, but tackling it is the only way to finding an eventual satisfactory middle ground.

Period.

Moving onto the science of addiction, I turn back to the United States’s National Institute Of Health. If the question is “Can marijuana be an addictive substance?”, it would appear that the answer is yes. But, again, with a bit of a caveat. They only use the word addiction to describe the most severe of cases.

It is thought that around 30% of all marijuana users have some form of a marijuana use disorder, with users starting before the age of 18 being four to ten times more likely to develop the disorder (compared to users who started using as adults). Dependence on the drug can be characterized by the following withdraw symptoms:

  • irritability

  • mood and sleep difficulties

  • decreased appetite

  • cravings

  • restlessness

  • other physical discomforts

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

All of which typically peak after one to 2 weeks after ceasing use of marijuana.

The addiction vector appears to occur when the brain adapts to the constant presence of large amounts of cannabinoids in the body, causing the reduction in the production of (and a growing sensitivity of the body towards) the bodies native endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.

The endocannabinoid system is a large part of the bodies nervous system, tasked with the regulation of many aspects of mammalian stasis. Marijuana works by mimicking the bodies own endocannabinoids, thus achieving the many both positive and negative traits for which it is known for. Addiction is defined by the NIH as when marijuana use is pursued even if it has negative ramifications in other areas of life. Which is a fair definition, given the information.


There is much controversy when it comes to the term
Marijuana Addiction. One just has to be aware not to use the words Addiction and Dependence interchangeably. Those that take their research or representation jobs seriously will know this and act accordingly. Those that don’t . . . you now know how to spot.

When it comes to the development of a marijuana use disorder, the numbers are favourable (albeit in a good way). It is thought that only 9% of users will develop a misuse disorder (with that number rising to 17% for users that started in their teens). While that can be an eye-opening number on its own, consider opioids. Or more, this first sentence from the mayo clinic’s webpage titled How Opioid Addiction Occurs:

Anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing an addiction. Your personal history and the length of time you use opioids play a role, but it’s impossible to predict who’s vulnerable to eventual dependence on and abuse of these drugs. Legal or illegal, stolen and shared, these drugs are responsible for the majority of overdose deaths in the U.S. today.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/how-opioid-addiction-occurs/art-20360372

A better way to explore this drug (instead of just following the addiction route) could be to look at its long term effects. After all, alike sugar, not being addicted to a substance doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s presence in the body in benign.

Most animal (and an increasing number of human) studies agree that marijuana use during the development of the fetus can cause long term (and possibly irreversible) changes to the developing fetus’s brain chemistry. Being that the changes seem to be most pronounced in adolescences (with the endocannabinoid system still in the process of forming new synapses during this stage of life), the connection would seem to be well founded. However, human studies leave a lot to be desired when other variables are considered (such as the usage of other drugs in combination with cannabis).

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain

But there is hope.

The NHI is funding a major study on the subject, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Over a period of 10 years, it will track it’s participants right from pre to post marijuana usage phases. The goal is to get a clearer picture of the effects of cannabinoids both with and without the presence of other substances.

However, that study just began in 2018, and thus we are waiting until 2028 for anything definitive (well, ANYTHING). And so it goes for any studies related pretty much in any way towards marijuana, THC, CBD and anything else related therein. Kind of a sad state of affairs to be in. But, it is what it is. The show must go on.

In the meantime, I suppose the only thing we can do in play gatekeeper to marijuana information trickery. Make sure those in the old status quo are refuted when using misleading or deceiving arguments. But also make sure our proponents (the capitalist element!) aren’t stretching or manipulating the facts for the sake of making a profit.