Shouldn’t smoke anything in other people’s houses

June 27, 2018

Chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman has found there is no evidence that contamination from smoking meth poses a risk to health.

• Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant used illicitly in New Zealand and around the world. It is obtained either through smuggling into the country, or by being manufactured locally in clandestine laboratories (meth labs). These meth labs may be found in residential dwellings, commercial accommodation, and even vehicles. 

• A dwelling can become contaminated with methamphetamine residues if the drug is manufactured or smoked within it. Smoking usually results in much lower residue levels compared with manufacture. . . 

• Passive, third-hand exposure to methamphetamine can arise through residing in a dwelling previously used as a clandestine meth lab, or where a significant amount of methamphetamine has been smoked. Former meth labs generally have relatively high levels of methamphetamine residue on sampled surfaces (levels greater than 30 μg of methamphetamine per 100 cm2 surface area are thought to be indicative of manufacturing activity). There is some evidence for adverse physiological and behavioural symptoms associated with third-hand exposure to former meth labs that used solvent-based production methods, but these symptoms mostly relate to the other toxic chemicals in the environment released during the manufacturing process, rather than to methamphetamine itself.

• However, there are no published (or robust, unpublished) data relating to health risks of residing in a dwelling formerly used only for smoking methamphetamine. Yet, given the relatively low number of confirmed meth labs found, and the very low average levels of methamphetamine found in most houses that test positive for the drug, most New Zealanders will only ever encounter very low levels of residue that are the result of methamphetamine use. . . 

In the past meth users were evicted from state houses, now Housing NZ will let meth users stay in their houses and try to get them help.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said Housing New Zealand is a landlord for some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

He said if the agency discovers a tenant is smoking meth, it will try to help them. . . 

He said the response from Housing NZ now was to treat people using meth as a health issue.

“Under the old government the policy was to make that person homeless – the worst possible thing that you could do.

“If someone’s got a drug addiction problem, you couldn’t do anything more calculated than to make them vulnerable to greater risk in their health, and in fact incurring greater expense to the taxpayer than throwing them out of their home and making them homeless.

“Housing New Zealand is a landlord … they’re not the police.

There is merit in treating drug use as a health issue and  trying to find help for addicts.

But I am concerned that this policy sends a message it’s fine to smoke in other people’s houses.

All landlords have the right to tell tenants they can’t smoke anything – legal or illegal – in their houses.

We have a strict no smoking rule in all our farm houses. One of our sharemilkers goes further, telling his staff the whole farm is smoke-free.

Property owners and employers have a right to do that.

Another thing to remember is that no evidence of harm is not the same as proof of no harm.

Science is rarely settled and regardless of what the research has found, I wouldn’t want to live in a house where people had been smoking meth.


Confusing education with promotion

May 4, 2018

Parents are understandably upset that their children are being taught how to use illegal drugs at school:

. . . “I applaud the school for providing all of the information they have provided,” Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said.

Bell said people needed to understand the context that the material was used in.

“This booklet hasn’t been given out as part of a drug curriculum, it’s been given out as a wider social investigation on various issues with meth in this country,” Bell said.

Massey High School distributed the “information notice” to Level 3 health students but say it was provided by the Ministry of Health.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the booklet and associated website information weren’t “specifically” designed for use in a school environment.

“The MethHelp booklet was designed to support adult users to stop, to reduce use and to stay healthy.”

. . . An Auckland mother told the Herald she was shocked at the school’s attempt to legitimise its actions.

Sarah Clare, whose son is a Year 11 student at the school, said the material was encouraging drug use, not stopping it.

“Even if the rest of the book is saying it’s bad for you, that one page of comments saying, ‘meth isn’t that bad it’s how you use it’ – contradicts the rest of the booklet.”

Clare said that comment – “be discreet and only keep less than 5 grams for personal use” – was shocking.

This isn’t education, it’s promotion, and promotion of criminal behaviour at that.

Bell said that comment was about giving drug-users advice about how they can reduce harms around drug share.

“There is the harm of criminal convictions and we are just saying there are those risks if you parade a quantity of drugs for supply … that’s just practical information that’s been out there for a long time.”

Would they tell their pupils how to reduce the harm while they were stealing, raping or murdering?  These are illegal acts too and people are more likely to carry out these criminal acts under the influence of meth.

Anti-drug organisation Methcon said the Drug Foundation had pushed the “harm minimisation” approach for at least the last decade.

“The theory is flawed and dangerous, particularly when discussing methamphetamine. Meth is the most addictive drug. It is impossible to use the drug in a safe way.

“Methcon’s approach is one of ‘harm elimination’. We believe that the bar needs to be set high and that the best way to avoid meth harm is to not use at all.” . . 

The school wouldn’t try to tell its pupils how to use tobacco in a safe way and it’s not illegal.

Using meth is not safe for the users or for other people who may become victims of the violent and irrational behavior it leads to.

If pupils are using meth, the school’s responsibility should be to get them the help they need to deal with their addiction.

It should not be normalising its use and increasing the risk of pupils who aren’t using it being tempted to do so.


Rural round-up

June 28, 2017

NZ Farmer Confidence at Record High – Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey:

• Net rural confidence has jumped up in the second rural confidence survey of 2017 and is now at the highest level recorded since the survey commenced in early 2003.

• Farmers across all agricultural sectors were more positive about the outlook for the agricultural economy with the majority citing improved commodity prices as a key reason for increased optimism.

• The number of farmers expecting their own business performance to improve was also up in comparison with the last survey with over half of farmers expecting an improvement in the coming 12 months. . . 

Cannabis more often detected in workers than any other drug – Maureen Bishop:

Cannabis is still the most common drug ”by a country mile” found when staff are tested, farmers attending a workshop in Ashburton last week heard.

Therese Gibbens, general manager of the Canterbury West Coast area for The Drug Detection Agency, said 80% of positive drug results from tests carried out by the company in Canterbury detected cannabis.

This was followed by opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamine.

She had tips for farmers about policies, detection and managing the risks of staff affected by drugs or alcohol, backed up by statistics and experience. . . 

McClay says time is right for trade deal with four amigos:

Trade Minister Todd McClay says he believes the time is right to launch trade talks with Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia as part of the Government’s push for better access in Latin America.

Mr McClay leaves tomorrow to attend the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit where a trade deal will be top of his agenda.

“We’ve been talking to the four Pacific Alliance countries about better access for Kiwi exporters for the last two years. With direct flights to South America there is increasing opportunity for New Zealanders to do more in these growing markets,” Mr McClay says. . . 

High tech approach to improve safety on SH1 at Moeraki Boulders:

Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe welcomes a new high tech warning system, which will help to improve road safety, has been installed on State Highway 1 in the Waitaki District.

The new Rural Intersection Active Warning System at the turnoff to Moeraki Boulders, off State Highway 1, is now operational and the variable speed limit is now legally enforceable.

“The new warning system is able to detect vehicles approaching the right turning bay at Moeraki Boulders Road and vehicles waiting to turn back on to the highway, and automatically adjusts the speed limit in the area to 70km/h to allow the approaching car to merge safely with oncoming traffic,” says Mr Macindoe. 

The 70km/h variable speed limit will apply 170 metres either side of the SH1/Moeraki Boulders Road. . . 

Be ready for the calving season:


MPI’s Penny Timmer-Arends has attended many field days and workshops to discuss the new bobby calf regulations with those affected across the supply chain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is asking farmers to be ready for new bobby calf regulations coming in this season.

“The new requirements for bobby calf shelter and loading come in to play on 1 August and we want to make sure everyone is well aware and prepared,” says Paul Dansted, MPI’s Director Animal and Animal Products.

“Calves need to be provided with shelter that keeps them warm and dry, and loading facilities that allow them to walk onto trucks.” . . 

Tegel delivers continued growth with record volumes, revenues and profit:

New Zealand’s largest poultry producer, Tegel Group Holdings Limited , today reported its FY2017 results for the 53 weeks ended 30 April 2017. The Company reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $34.2 million. This was $22.9 million higher than the prior year mainly as a result of a change in capital structure following listing. Underlying EBITDA was $75.6 million, 0.8% ahead of FY2016. Both NPAT and underlying EBITDA were within the Company’s revised guidance range issued in December 2016. . . 

PCE receives Forest & Bird ‘Old Blue’ environmental award:

Forest & Bird has awarded the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment an ‘Old Blue’ for her significant contribution to New Zealand’s environment and wildlife.

“Over ten years, Dr Jan Wright’s insightful reports have illuminated complex environmental subjects and in many cases fundamentally improved public appreciation of those issues,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

Kiwis Eating Less Red Meat – Research:

More than half of Kiwis say they are eating less meat, and a quarter expect to be mostly meat-free by 2025, as they focus on their health and budget according to the results of a new survey.

It seems the days of a nightly meal of meat and two veg may soon be behind us too, with one in five of those surveyed (21%) saying they choose to have a meat-free dinner for more than half of the week. . . 


Life or meth?

April 20, 2010

Life or meth? It’s your choice.

That was the message from Mike Sabin, managing director of MethCon – a specialist company which provides drug education, advice and specific training programmes relating to methamphetamine and other addictive drugs.

He said New Zealand has the highest rate of addiction in the world and that drugs are the cornerstone of most crime.

With methamphetamine it’s much more likely to be violent crime – a meth addict is nine times more likely to murder someone than a non-addict.

The former police detective with several years in drug investigation said that laws are for the law abiding, prison is for the rest.

“It takes a community to solve social problems, laws and politicians can’t do it for us.”

Sabin’s company works with employers to help them recognise and deal with drug addiction. He said that drug problems cost the country about $10 billion a year and around half of that is in lost productivity.

Drug dealing is pyramid selling and dealers aim at middle and upper income earners because they want their money.

Sabin linked New Zealand’s high rate of child abuse to our high rate of meth addiction. Babies are born with withdrawal symptoms, they have difficulty feeding, they cry a lot and are hyperactive.

“It would be difficult enough for anyone to deal with that let alone P addicts who react with violence.”

Sabin said 35% of meth labs found by police have children living at the address and almost all suffer from the effects of toxic levels of chemicals to which they’ve been exposed.

He was scathing about the harm minimisation approach and said that we won’t get rid of the problem at the supply end. Reducing supply just increases profits for dealers. We have to cut demand to get rid of the problem.

He was supportive of getting rid of cold and flu medications which contain pseudoephodrine. Drug dealers cruise the country buying a little here and a little there then book into a motel to cook a batch of P.

Motelliers and people with rental houses should be on the look out for labs and no lightbulbs was a sign that people were smoking P.

Sabin explained how P affects the brain. His address included video footage with horrifying pictures of real addicts and the impact P had on their physical and mental health.

 He said that arrogance, ignorance and apathy were enabling the P industry to flourish and that society is sending young people a message that they can’t just go out and rely on their own devices to enjoy themselves, they have to take a pill to have fun.


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