Writing Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is an uncommon condition that arises as a consequence of permanent perceptual changes brought on by use of hallucinogens. There is almost no data on the prevalence of this condition, and some don’t even believe it exists. Nevertheless, this article will discuss how to believably portray characters with HPPD.

HPPD usually causes a problem because of visual disturbances that are akin to those that accompany a hallucinogenic experience. It’s common to see glowing halos around various objects, or visual trails that linger behind moving objects. It’s also possible to perceive objects as being much larger than they actually are, or much smaller. Some people even see a kind of “visual snow” between objects, like the static on a television set. Auditory hallucinations are also possible.

A character who has HPPD might appear kind of ‘spaced out’ to the other characters. Those other characters might suspect that the one with HPPD is, or has been, on a heavy drug of some kind. Because their perceptions are so vivid, a character with HPPD might be too distracted to pay proper attention to what’s going on around them. This could create a number of social difficulties for that character.

The author might decide that writing a character with HPPD is not very interesting if focus is placed solely on visual and perhaps auditory disturbances. It might be possible to tell a far richer and more engaging story by showing the reader some of the other lingering psychological effects of psychedelics, especially the deeper emotional and spiritual ones.

The problem with this approach is that one soon steps outside the bounds of the clinical – which is perfectly fine for the sake of literature, but it has to be kept in mind that the strictures of the DSM are distantly removed from what follows here.

Many psychedelic drugs have the capacity to break down a person’s existing perception of reality and replace it with something entirely different. This means that some of the persisting perceptions that arise from hallucinogenic drugs use are not so much sensual, but intuitive.

A common persisting perception from using hallucinogens is a belief that the material world isn’t real. Our culture is materialist; we take for granted that the material world is real and that the human brain generates consciousness. For the vast majority of us, it seems intuitively true that the material world genuinely exists and that the brain gives rise to consciousness, and this perception is so common that it’s taken for granted by most.

People who have HPPD might no longer believe in materialism. They may feel that, in the course of a hallucinogenic trip, they were granted a particular insight into the way the cosmos truly functions. Maybe they now believe that the world is a dream in the mind of God. A character who has had a change in perceptions relating to cosmic attitudes might find themselves coming into conflict with some of the other characters around them. Theirs could be a story of how easy it is to get ostracised from a community for having unique beliefs.

In practice, it doesn’t actually matter whether materialism is correct or not; a character who becomes a non-materialist as a result of a hallucinogenic experience will have extreme difficulty fitting into society in any case. They will frequently be rejected and mocking for being mentally ill. In particular, it will be impossible for them to convince a psychiatrist that their new belief is anything other than a mental illness. A character who thinks like this will therefore likely be an outsider to some degree.

Another common change in perception relates to the presence of a light at the end of the tunnel. Dovetailing with materialism is atheism – the two seem to follow each other closely. The vast majority of people who were raised atheist do not believe in the presence of a benevolent force that watches over their life with a desire to end their suffering. The cosmos is indifferent to human suffering and misery.

A person who has a strong experience with a hallucinogen can easily come to change their opinion on this subject. It might be that your protagonist has suddenly decided to believe in God – not the God of Abraham, but the benevolent, all-pervading force that gives rise and motion to the world. This might not be received well by the other characters in your story, especially if they are materialists, or if they believe in a dead God such as the Abrahamic one. They will probably think your protagonist is mad or evil.

This can make for an interesting story because of the contrast between the good feelings that arise naturally inside a person who has spiritual satisfaction, and the bad feelings that comes from the outside world as a consequence. Their social life might become much more difficult than before, on account of pressure to go back to the socially-approved way of thinking. This could push them into the arms of a new group of people, such as those who have also seen beyond.

These persisting changes in perception are much more subtle than the visual and auditory ones, but they might have just as large an impact on a person’s ability to live a normal life, primarily because of the social disruption just mentioned. In extreme cases, these changes in perception might make employment also impossible, leading to radical life changes that could lead anywhere.

Writing a character with HPPD is no easy task, because it is likely that most of the readers are not intimately familiar with the effects of hallucinogens and so will have difficulty relating to the often bizarre and surreal perceptual changes that accompany the condition. However, if executed skillfully, a tale with a character who has HPPD could be highly entertaining, insightful or even edifying.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Jordan B Peterson is the Timothy Leary of Our Generation

Helping the next generation to see beyond – or corrupting the youth?

Jordan B Peterson has struck a dull and ossified mediascape like a meteor. Where there used to be only talking heads reading from teleprompters and a variety of family-rated corporate whores, the Canadian professor has burst onto the scene spraying the truth like machinegun rounds. Being so used to lies as we are, this has astonished us, and as of right now Peterson is the man of the moment. The reaction he has generated is an echo of another psychologist who clashed with the Establishment of his time – Timothy Leary.

Once described by U.S. President Richard Nixon as “the most dangerous man in America,” Leary was a pioneer of psychedelic therapy. Also like Peterson, Leary was once a psychology lecturer at Harvard University. Leary devoted his life to understanding the human mind and behaviour and communicating this knowledge to other people, and in doing so helped set them free.

And in setting people free, he became the enemy of the Establishment.

Peterson and Leary are hated by the Establishment because they deprogrammed the young people of their time from the brainwashing that the elites had forced onto them. In Leary’s time, during the early 60s, the young had been brainwashed to be right-wing: they had been programmed to be judgmental, harsh, even hateful. Leary’s task was to teach them to love, and he found that psychedelics were useful for accelerating this deconditioning process.

The only difference with Peterson in this regard is that the young people being deprogrammed by Peterson have been brainwashed with left-wing logic. Instead of being programmed to be discriminating and hard, they have been programmed to be unquestioning, passive, yielding and soft. In other words, where Leary was confronted with a youth that was too masculine as a response to World War II, Peterson has been confronted with a youth that is too feminine as a response to the great decades of peace.

Timothy Leary showed in the Concord Prison Experiment that violent felons could be induced to repudiate their criminal ways if given a guided psychedelic therapy session under the supervision of a qualified therapist. Recidivist criminals learned some empathy for the victims of their aggression and swore off it. In other words, he showed that an excess of masculinity can be countered by the restorative effects of psychedelics.

Those restorative effects can also counter an excess of feminity. They can help a Western world that has lost itself in materialist sensations. We are so obsessed with our own bodies and with sensory pleasures that we have lost touch with the spiritual and with the transcendental. Peterson correctly understands that psychedelics can help here but he is also canny enough not to fall into the Leary trap of propounding something that the populace isn’t mentally ready to handle.

Both men also had a message of “turn on, tune in, drop out”, only they are different. Leary’s message was to drop out of society entirely. His belief was that people who turn on to their true nature will realise that it isn’t served by the way society is structured, and that if they completely rejected it they could form a new society that suffered from none of those problems. A new society could be built by a switched-on movement of hippies, and it would prevail.

Peterson has a similar message, only without the anarchism. For both Peterson and Leary, turning on and tuning in involved learning to know one’s own mind, one’s one thoughts and consciousness. Where Peterson is different is that his emphasis is on restoring order within oneself before attempting to impose order upon the external world. His catchphrase is “Clean your room before you worry about fixing the world,” echoing Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see.”

Where both men are exactly the same is in that they teach people to look within for answers, instead of without. Teaching young people to rely on their own judgment and their own experiences instead of taking direction from aggressively self-imposed moral authorities absolutely terrifies the Establishment – because the Establishment consists of nothing more but self-imposed moral authorities.

The Government, the Church and the media all gain their power from the attention that they are given by those who look to them for guidance. Power flows where attention goes. When Peterson exhorts young people to impose order upon their own inner lives so that they can more easily impose order upon the outer world, these Establishment elites correctly see this as a massive risk to their own influence and control – and that’s why the Establishment and its lackeys are attacking him more and more.

The true counterculture is neither left-wing nor right-wing, but simply a reaction to the excesses of the previous culture. In the same way that Leary was the voice of the left-wing counterculture of the 60s that opposed right-wing thought control, Peterson is the voice of the right-wing counterculture of this decade that opposes left-wing thought control. In this way, he is another iteration of the philosopher-king archetype who gets attacked by the liars in the Establishment – a pattern going back at least to Socrates.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Why New Zealand is Now Behind Zimbabwe On Cannabis Law Reform

For all the gloating about how incredibly progressive New Zealand is on issues relating to race and sexual orientation, we Kiwis sometimes fail to notice that we are lagging behind the rest of the world on many other human rights issues. Incredibly, New Zealand is more backwards than Zimbabwe now when it comes to cannabis law reform. This essay examines why.

You read correctly: New Zealand is now behind Zimbabwe on cannabis law reform. The despotic Southern African state announced recently that both individuals and companies can apply to the Minister of Health for a licence to grow medicinal cannabis. You don’t have to be dying, as is the criteria in New Zealand.

So how did our human rights decay to the point where Zimbabwe is beating us on major human rights issues like medicinal cannabis law reform?

Crucial to understanding this is understanding that the National Party has always been the pisshead’s friend. When drinkers wanted pub hours extended for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the National Party was eager to help. But when Kiwi medicinal cannabis users petitioned them for nine years to allow them equal rights to people in California, they were utterly unmoving, despite the evidence in the research journals and from the examples set overseas.

When the Electoral Commission revealed the list of each party’s donations last month, it became clear why New Zealand is now more backwards than Zimbabwe when it comes to cannabis law reform. Simply put, the National Party has whored itself out to the same alcohol and pharmaceutical interests that have opposed cannabis medicine from the beginning.

In 2017, the National Party got $41,945 in donations from Stoneyridge Vineyard, $25,438 from Gibbston Valley Winery, $16,700 from Spirits NZ and $42,000 from Graeme Douglas of Douglas Pharmaceuticals, whose morphine product is competing with medicinal cannabis for the billion-dollar analgesic market. This totals $126,083 in donations from industries that are implacably opposed to cannabis law reform.

The National Party spent around $2,500,000 on their 2017 General Election campaign, which means that these donations are reasonably small in the overall scheme of things, amounting to only c. 5% of the total spending. But this has to be contrasted with the fact that the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, the only party seriously promoting the will of the 80% of Kiwis who want a change to the cannabis laws, spent less than $1,700.

In other words, anti-cannabis forces spent over 70 times as much on bribing National Party MPs as pro-cannabis forces spent in total during the 2017 General Election. Little wonder, then, that National Party MPs unanimously voted against Chloe Swarbrick’s bill that would have allowed sick Kiwis to grow their own medicinal cannabis at home without fear of prosecution.

This all sounds very cynical but unfortunately, this is how the game is played in politics, which belongs ultimately to the paradigm of silver. Our politicians are literally whores – this is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has had cause to observe the politically ambitious at close range for any length of time. They will say whatever someone wants to be said for money, so their tongues are for hire as much as those of any streetwalker.

Despite all that, this situation may not last. The experience of American states that have liberalised their cannabis laws (beginning with medicinal cannabis in California in 1996), suggests that money talks both ways.

East Coast medicinal cannabis operation Hikurangi Enterprises recently raised $2,000,000 in their share offering and were heavily oversubscribed – so much so that the crowdfunding site handling it crashed twice. Considering that most people who are interested in medicinal cannabis are sick and therefore poor, being able to raise two million dollars speaks to a tremendous level of support among the population.

What this means is that, sooner or later, there will be a player with extremely deep pockets who wants to break into the New Zealand cannabis market, and this player will see fit to make a “donation” to a reformist party in return for that party supporting some form of repeal of cannabis prohibition. It will probably be a while before this donation matches the six-figure sum that the booze and pills industries are spending on keeping medicinal cannabis illegal, but the gap ought to keep closing.

New Zealanders have fewer rights to access medicinal cannabis than people in Zimbabwe, and the reason for it is alcohol and pharmaceutical industry bribe money going to the National Party. Until we can remove this blatant corruption from our political system, sick Kiwis can only access their medicine in secret.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger VIII

This reading continues on from here.

The 22nd essay in Ride The Tiger is called ‘Dissolution of Modern Art’. Much like everything else, Evola contends that art has also degenerated. In the case of art, it has degenerated into a feminine subjectivity that is too afraid to say anything. Now we can no longer even speak of traditional art because no-one has any idea what that even is.

In this essay Evola echoes Plato’s description of the degeneration of political forms, only applied to the world of art. Modern art would be best served by achieving maximum craptitude, because that would provide the clean spiritual slate upon which something authentic could be written. Literature is also criticised as “fetishising” human relationships and merely documenting them with full banality.

As in many previous essays, Evola concludes that art has been given too great an importance, to the detrimental of the spiritual. What gives meaning to life can exist “even in the virtual absence of art”. Art has, in reality, undermined idealism, especially in the modern world. Positive realism lies in the assertion of values such as truth and spiritual courage. That which truly has value needs no consensus to agree.

The 23rd essay is ‘Modern Music and Jazz’. Evola has a keen interest in music and understands its development over the course of recent centuries. Perhaps weirdly, Evola writes here about the “preponderance of dance music over vocal and emotional music” – a sentiment shared by many today. He considers that the drift towards nihilism in philosophy and art has been echoed by one in music.

Music has, according to Evola, developed in ways that mirror the development of all other social movements. Therefore, the advent of jazz is no surprise – it is merely the democratisation of music, something “primitively ecstatic”. This doesn’t mean that jazz is crude, though, or that jazz players are unskilled musicians. It simply heralds the return to the world of fundamental, elemental forces.

This “Negro music” is associated with “dark forms of ecstasy” in Evola’s reckoning. He compares the feelings that arise from dancing to rhythmic music to the frenzies of the dervishes: “possessions of savage ritual”. Despite frequently being paired with drugs, these occasions cannot be compared to the ancient rites of Dionysus etc. because there is nothing sacred about them – they are mere escapism.

On the subject of drugs, the 24th essay is ‘Excursus on Drugs’. Evola considers drugs to “most visibly have the goal of an ecstatic escape”. Some of the people who choose such an escape are those who have perceived the meaninglessness of human existence. Others are “neurotics and psychopaths”. Part of the danger of drugs is, like rhythmic music, they can be used to open up awareness to a suprasensible world, such as in initiatory ritual.

Despite this caution, Evola gives due credit to the use of various drugs in sacred ritual. The Taoists considered even the use of alcohol to have a kind of magical effect, and he mentions the Central American shamanic traditions that made much use of mescaline, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms. However, he also points out that no-one really understands how to use these sacraments anymore, because no-one is capable of the necessary spiritual preparation. This leads to the risk of “possession by dark powers”.

If used correctly, nonprofanely, drugs offer the possibility of coming into contract with a superior dimension of reality. Stimulants and depressants can more or less be ignored for these purposes. Hallucinogens are excellent but have many drawbacks; their ancient use involved guiding the trip with symbols and a preliminary catharsis of emotion, two things that are seldom done today. Narcotics can be useful for the sake of dissociating from the mundane but the experience is hard to control.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Legalising Cannabis Would More Than Fix The Hole in New Zealand’s Education Budget

The Labour Party is crying loudly about the hole in the education budget, but is silent about the potential savings from repealing cannabis prohibition

Every week the Labour Party goes back on another one of its election promises, claiming that there’s much less money in the budget than anyone realised and so they won’t be able to fund anything: not education, not health, not welfare. What the criminal bullshitters in the Government don’t admit is that they could save 400 million dollars every year, starting tomorrow, simply by legalising cannabis.

The net benefits of repealing cannabis prohibition are no longer disputable. Eight US states now have fully legal cannabis, with further legalisation referendums to come, and no-one has any regrets. According to calculations by the New Zealand Treasury, this country is flushing $400,000,000 down the toilet every year in order to enforce a law that the New Zealand people do not want. That’s no small sum of money.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has come out and said that there is a $1,100,000,000 shortfall in the education budget. The linked article cites Hipkins as claiming that “Over the next three budgets, $929m was needed to cover the cost of new schools and classrooms and to meet the cost of the Christchurch rebuild. The remaining $166m was needed for urgent remediation and demolition of classrooms and buildings that are unusable.”

In the linked article, Hipkins blames the former National-led Government for neglecting capital spending on educational buildings, claiming that Labour is not going to be able to meet its election promises as a consequence. But it’s absolutely absurd that the Labour Government is crying about funding shortfalls when it’s wasting such an incredible amount of money on conducting a War on Drugs against the New Zealand people.

According to the Treasury’s own calculations, if we legalised cannabis today, we would save $1,200,000,000 over the course of the next three Budgets, primarily through not having to fund the Police and “Justice” Systems to piss all that money up the wall on persecuting medicinal cannabis users. So it makes no sense at all for Labour to cry about a shortage of money when it’s wasting incredible sums on enforcing a law that the New Zealand people don’t want.

A study conducted in Colorado from last month has shown that even if one accounts for the increases in social costs that come in the wake of legalisation, there is still a large net gain to the economy. Moreover, “The researchers found no evidence that legal cannabis contributed to increased homelessness or increased youth use of marijuana.”

There are other costs to cannabis prohibition that don’t fall into the $400,000,000 of damages. By withholding a widely-recognised exit drug from people struggling with opiate addiction, we are literally killing the most vulnerable New Zealanders. Studies of American states that have liberalised their cannabis laws have shown that, given the choice between opiates or cannabis, many people with severe pain disorders prefer to use cannabis. This has led to thousands fewer deaths from opiate overdoses.

It’s absolutely insane that our school buildings are falling into disrepair, our hospitals have mold on the walls, and that our rape crisis centres are being closed down, all because of a lack of funding, when we’re wasting over a billion dollars every electoral cycle on cannabis prohibition. If the Labour Party were any less neoliberal than the National Party they replaced, they would open an honest discussion on the subject with the stated intention of legalising cannabis as Colorado did in 2012.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Moral Outrage is a Crude Thrill But an Addictive One

It’s evident from the body language of virtue signallers that they exult in the feelings of moral superiority provided by their aggression

It’s possible to become addicted to a wide range of different thrills. Adrenaline, oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine and a slew of other neurotransmitters all create a very specific kind of pleasurable buzz that a person can easily become hooked on. This essay examines the most fashionable addiction in current year: the addiction to moral outrage.

Moral outrage belongs to the class of ego thrills. Within this class are all actions that lead to pleasure on account of letting you think, even if only for a short moment, that you’re better than other people. Belonging to this class are a large number of activities relating to competition and domination.

Alchemically speaking, there are three ways that one person can dominate another person, and these correspond to the three orientations of bravery. One can dominate physically, one can dominate mentally, or one can dominate morally.

Dominating physically is generally looked down upon as an activity befitting children and thugs. Dominating mentally is the obsession of the young adult learning to be a man of silver, and incredible amounts of energy are expended to this end at universities, but most people soon grow out of that.

Dominating morally is where the real self-aggrandisement comes into play, because if this can be achieved then the other forms can be dismissed as less worthy or meaningful. It doesn’t matter if someone dominates you physically or mentally, because you can claim that the act of domination is itself immoral by virtue of being aggressive, and that therefore you, in fact, dominated them where it counts – morally!

As it happens, the modern world gives us plenty of opportunity to get a kick out of moral outrage. So much so that some people may have become clinically addicted to the thrill. Much like smoking cigarettes or snorting cocaine, working oneself into a towering moral fury has a near-immediately gratifying payoff and is therefore more likely to become habitual.

Signs of addiction can be seen in the compulsive bleating of “Racist!” whenever someone criticises a group of people that contains some black or brown individuals. Here, the person getting a buzz off moral outrage doesn’t bother to wait to make sure that the person they’re attacking really is a racist, because that might mean that they don’t get to accuse anyone and so don’t get the buzz.

Other signs include getting outraged at things that are entirely natural, such as the gender pay gap. Taking something that’s clearly the result of female choice and spinning it to make out like there’s a massive anti-female conspiracy to drive down wages is the kind of thing that could get someone a diagnosis of paranoia in other contexts, but when politics are involved no pile of bullshit is too high.

In truth, moral outrage is a form of bullying. It’s a way of running another person down because of their perceived lack of virtue, and this moral shaming is little different to shaming someone for being fat, poor or slovenly. The main distinction is that it is more passive-aggressive than physical bullying.

The driving force behind moral outrage is a combination of slave morality and mob mentality. The slave morality is always a feature because people susceptible to moral outrage have inevitably been told what their morals are, and usually told early enough in life that, by adulthood, they’re convinced their behaviour is natural. The mob mentality, likewise, is always a feature because people need to whip each other up into a frenzy to generate the self-righteousness necessary for a truly gratifying state of moral outrage.

The question then arises: should crude expressions of moral outrage be banned, or at least socially discouraged? It’s possible to combat them by making the virtue signaller look bad themselves.

For instance, virtue signallers shrieking “Racist!” when they hear criticism of Islam could be discouraged by being told how stupid they are for not being able to see the difference between dislike of a religion and dislike of a race. After all, the two concepts are radically different – the first is a meme complex, the second is a gene complex. It could fairly be pointed out that someone unable to tell the difference is pretty thick.

Even better, when someone is aggressively expressing their moral outrage at you, is to ask that person if they think they’re better than you on account of their beliefs. Of course they think they are, which is why they’re outraged in the first place – but if they admit that, they immediately lose their moral high ground on account of confessing to egotism.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Medicinal Cannabis Advances in 2017 – A Review

This literature review was conducted using Google Scholar, which was used to find citations of academic papers that referenced “cannabis medicine”, “cannabis psychosis”, “cannabis schizophrenia” and “medicinal cannabis”.

The strands of research that interest us here include: research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns; research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions; evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids; other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine.

Research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns

This paper in the Biological Psychiatry Journal was notable for containing the sentence “Meta-analyses suggest that individuals with schizophrenia who use cannabis show better cognitive functioning compared to those who are non-users.”

Another paper in the Schizophrenia Bulletin makes a point of distinguishing between the effects of CBD and the effects of THC, noting that “THC is responsible for the psychotogenic effects of cannabis.” This directly contradicts the received psychiatric wisdom that “cannabis” causes psychosis.

This paper even notes that “independent evidence that CBD has antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties in patients with mental health disorders has been accumulating.” Indeed, doctors in California have been advising people for at least 10 years now that high-CBD strains (such as Northern Lights) were better suited for calming and sleeping purposes than high-THC skunk.

Although this paper is not titled with a journal of publication, it is worthwhile for at least conceding that many of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are ameliorated by cannabis use.

This paper in the Acta Psychopathologica argues against the prohibition of cannabis on the basis of the Precautionary Principle. According to this paper, almost everyone tempted to smoke cannabis already has, regardless of the law. Moreover, prohibition prevents very few cases of schizophrenia, even assuming a direct causal link. Therefore, the deterrent effect of prohibition is outweighed by the positive effects of making it legal.

Research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions

This paper in the the Clinical Psychology Review performed a meta-analysis of recent discoveries about the relationship between medicinal cannabis use and positive mental health outcomes. Perhaps the foremost result of this analysis was “Cannabis has potential for the treatment of PTSD and substance use disorders.” Among cannabis users this is well-known to be one of the main reasons why people smoke it in the first place. It was also noted that “Cannabis use does not appear to increase risk of harm to self or others.”

What is striking about this paper is the absence of Drug War rhetoric. Cannabis use, instead of being described as cannabis abuse (as in the majority of prohibitionist papers), is here given the acronym CTP (cannabis for therapeutic purposes). In the past, a paper that referred to cannabis in this manner would not have been funded or published, so the appearance of the phrase suggests that attitudes are changing.

A comprehensive overview of recent advances in medicinal cannabis science can be found in the Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies Chapters 90 and 91, ‘The Use of Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders’ and ‘Beneficial Effects of Cannabis and Related Compounds on Sleep’.

Unfortunately, much of the literature continues to make the fundamental error of confusing cannabis extracts and pharamceutical preparations with the actual cannabis plant itself (as seen here). The authors of these papers frequently draw the conclusion that cannabis is not helpful for treating certain conditions because some extract was found to not be helpful. Others (as seen here) fail to make any distinction between THC and CBD, lumping all 100+ cannabinoids under the rubric of “marijuana”.

This paper notes that anxiety is one of the top five reasons given by patients in North America for using medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t go into why, but it’s likely that the calming effects of CBD are involved, as they may also be in the case of schizophrenia. Other papers also support the notion that cannabis has use for treating certain mental conditions, such as social anxiety.

Evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids

One of the most promising directions of future medicinal cannabis research appears to be in the direction of using cannabis as a substitute for a variety of other medicines that might have worse side-effects or addictive potential.

One of the most astonishing pieces of research was a study of how usage of pain, anxiety and sleep medication decreased when medicinal cannabis was available. In a survey of New England dispensary members, “among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started [medicinal cannabis]…” and “…Approximately two-thirds of patients decreased their use of anti-anxiety (71.8%), migraine (66.7%), and sleep (65.2%) medications following [medicinal cannabis]…”.

Another example can be found here. The linked study is a literature review of 2897 medicinal cannabis patients that found “Respondents overwhelmingly reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects.”

In particular there seems to be special promise for cannabis to help with the opioid addiction crisis. Several papers suggest promise for cannabis to help here, as well as act as a substitute for sleep medications.

Other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine

Soporific uses appear to be one of the most promising avenues for future research into the benefits of medicinal cannabis. This study found reason to support the idea that cannabis heavy in CBDs is better suited for sleep management than cannabis heavy in THCs.

This review in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Medicine suggested that there might be promise in using cannabis to treat Alzheimers’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, among other neurodegenerative conditions.

Other studies suggest that there is promise for cannabis medicine in alleviating suffering associated with multiple sclerosis.

This study suggested that the savings from prescriptions that don’t get filled in legal cannabis states (because legal medicinal cannabis acts as a substitute for the prescribed medicine) could run into the billions.

What many of these studies have in common is a mention of the need for more research into the potential for cannabis to alleviate suffering, and a lament for the fact that this research has been hamstrung by cannabis prohibition. It’s clear that awareness of the benefits of cannabis medicine is spreading rapidly among the medical community, and that there is much excitement about future applications.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

New Zealand First Risks Destruction If It Opposes Medicinal Cannabis Reform

From Jim Anderton to Peter Dunne and now to Winston Peters, New Zealand has always managed to find one piss-soaked old bastard to hold up cannabis law reform

The New Zealand First Party won 8.7% of the votes in the 2014 General Election, which entitled them to 11 Parliamentary seats. Strategic blunders saw them fall to 7.2% of the vote in 2017, still above the 5% threshold but precariously so. New Zealand First is at risk of committing another strategic blunder by opposing Chloe Swarbrick’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill, and this article will explain why.

Dan McGlashan’s Understanding New Zealand provides us with an explanation for what happened here. We can see that the correlation between being Maori and voting New Zealand First was initially very strong, at 0.66 in 2014, when they did very well in the Maori seats. By 2017 the strength of this correlation had fallen to 0.38, as a large proportion of that Maori support abandoned the party.

Between 2014 and the 2017 General Election, New Zealand First came out in opposition to those same Maori seats in which they had done so well. This was a massive error because Maori people are extremely reluctant to cede any kind of political power to the Crown, for the understandable reason that when they have done so in the past, they ended up losing heavily from it.

New Zealand First were punished at the ballot box in 2017, losing 1.5% of their vote, mostly from Maoris who switched back to to Labour.

Between 2017 and the 2020 General Election, we may see another fall in New Zealand First support, and for similar reasons, only this time it may be catastrophic. The difficulty is that Winston Peters risks betraying the wishes of many of the people who support their party by opposing Swarbrick’s Bill.

On the Bill, Peters is quoted as saying “It goes far too far. There’s no restrictions at all, it’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free for all.” Whether this means New Zealand First will support the Bill through its first reading or not is unclear, but if they vote to dismiss the Bill they run the risk of self-destruction, because they will alienate many of their core supporters.

Invalid’s beneficiaries are heavy supporters of New Zealand First – the correlation between being on an invalid’s benefit and voting New Zealand First in 2017 was 0.47, which is moderately strong. Many of these invalids have found medicinal relief in cannabis, which is reflected in the strong correlation of 0.79 between being on an invalid’s benefit and voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017.

These stats suggest that there are a large number of cannabis-using invalids who voted New Zealand First at the last election, and further New Zealand First opposition to cannabis law reform risks alienating these people further.

Although New Zealand First does get more support from older people than younger ones, this is nowhere near as pronounced as most people think it is. The correlation between median age and voting New Zealand First in 2017 was only 0.26, in comparison to the correlation of 0.78 between median age and voting National in 2017.

Therefore, concern about the opinions of elderly Boomers with regard to cannabis ought not factor too heavily in New Zealand First’s calculus. The vast majority of young people support proper cannabis law reform, and New Zealand First risks tarnishing their image among these voters through their conservatism on this issue.

Perhaps the biggest risk that New Zealand First runs by opposing this medicinal cannabis bill is through losing the support of the New Zealand-born, who are not only the biggest New Zealand First supporters by far but also the biggest cannabis law reform supporters by far. The correlation between being New Zealand-born and voting for New Zealand First in 2017 was 0.54, which is moderately strong, but the correlation between being New Zealand-born and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017 was 0.73.

Cannabis use is an intrinsic part of Kiwi culture, and it’s not going anywhere. If the New Zealand First Party really wants to make good on its pretensions to represent Kiwis and our culture, they need to accept the fact that we really enjoy using cannabis and are going to keep doing it.

New Zealand First might be tempted by conservative instincts to oppose this bill, but you can’t piss directly in the face of your own supporters in that way and expect that they will turn out to support you when you ask for it at election time. Maoris, young people and invalids are all heavily impacted by our ludicrous cannabis laws, and young Maoris doubly so. They have been crying out for relief, and a recreational alternative to alcohol, for decades.

New Zealand is already 22 years behind California on the medicinal cannabis issue, and New Zealand First is causing this country to fall further and further behind, mostly at the expense of their own long-term voters. If they don’t keep up with the state of play and research in other jurisdictions they risk destruction at the hands of the voters.

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