I don’t think I will ever achieve the accolade of ‘tireless campaigner’, the cliché much loved by TV news magazine programmes and the press to describe someone who keeps banging on about the same thing in spite of, apparently, having no effect for a very long time.
Although I’ve written about Catha edulis, khat, twelve times since Theresa May’s announcement that she was going to ignore all the experts and classify khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) I am far from ‘tireless’. I’m actually sick and tired of reading the same misinformation and lies from the Home Secretary...more
It seems that every new story about ricin made from Ricinus communis, the castor oil plant, is obliged to include some new level of fantasy though, to be fair, the latest does, so far, seem to be avoiding some of the usual clichés associated with previous events.
For reasons unknown a student at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. decided to try one of the many ‘ricin recipes’ that, as I’ve said ad nauseum, aren’t. And then, in what looks like an act of such stupidity that one fears for the admission standards in US universities, he decided to show it to ‘a resident assistant’ who, unsurprisingly brought the matter to the attention of the authorities...more
You can’t rely on the weather for a good indication of the arrival of spring. A few days ago we had temperatures that would be deemed passable in July and tomorrow we may have snow.
And the date is certainly not to be trusted. Though nature has a way of catching up or slowing down if it has been tricked by an unusual weather pattern it is still not possible to say that spring starts on such and such a day..more
It is very difficult to estimate the size of any market. Even something like the number of new cars registered is not an absolute indicator of the number of new cars purchased because of the practice of ‘pre-registering’ by dealers. If you can’t be completely certain about market size with a product where every sale has to reported to a regulatory body then estimating the size of the market for illegal products is, clearly, open to many errors.
Nonetheless, the drug use part of the Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW) (still, sometimes, referred to as the British Crime Survey (BCS)) is still used by many people and organisations as the basis for policy planning and implementation...more
I told you so!
I’m not intending this to be a piece of self-congratulatory narcissism but, knowing that there is a danger of it being read like that even if not written that way, I thought I’d get it out in the open. Two topics have featured in recent days that I have covered before so I wanted to compare what has been said recently with what I’ve said on these subjects. I’ll deal with one here and leave the other for the next time...more
I think everyone can see the signs of spring but I have an almost unique guide to the arrival of better weather. I thought about posting about the new growing season, ten days ago, when I took some pictures of the plants starting to emerge in the garden.
I try to rationalise the folklore about poisonous plants by understanding what purpose it is hoping to serve and how it came to be because it is too easy to just dismiss it as ignorant superstition.
Some, such as the Doctrine of Signatures, arises because the human race has always considered that it is the reason for the universe to exist and, therefore, everything else must have some connection with us. Some, such as the story about the devil appearing to anyone who picks the berries of Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade, is to try and reduce the harm caused by a poisonous plant...more
Maybe I’m too much of an optimist but I really do think that there are very few people who deliberately set out to cause harm to others when it comes to promoting their own view of how to approach the use of psychoactive substances of all sorts.
It would be tempting to put Peter Hitchens into that very small group but I can’t. For someone to qualify as intentionally wanting to spread harm they would need to be aware that their beliefs are wrong and dangerous. It is perfectly obvious that Hitchens is wrong in his core beliefs, such as that cannabis is more harmful than heroin, but he doesn’t know he is wrong so he can’t be blamed for the harm that results from other people believing what he does..more
I’ve uploaded the twentieth video in the series ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’. I think I’m getting the hang of condensing plant stories into the short format and this latest is, probably, the best example of that.
Mandragora officinarum, mandrake, has so many stories that, in 1934, C J S Thompson, the honorary curator of the historical collection in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, produced a 233 page book ‘Mystic Mandrake’ dealing just with this one plant...more
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