Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Legalize it, tax it, regulate it

Here is an article from today's New York Times.

One quote jumped out at me: "In a memorandum on Oct. 19 outlining the medical marijuana guidelines, Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden said marijuana was “a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime,” adding that “no state can authorize violations of federal law.”"

Dangerous? By what criteria? It's impossible to overdose on, there's no risk of physical addiction, the risks that come from smoking it are minimal and even those can be mitigated by ingesting it or vaporizing it. By every measure it is much safer than alcohol and far safer than tobacco.

Think of the resources we waste pursuing, arresting and incarcerating those involved in the growing, selling and use of marijuana. Then think of the revenue boost we would get from taxing it.

Please, please, please can't we approach public policy issues with common sense and rationality and not baseless fear-mongering?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nagging Thoughts

Recently, the Research Digest Blog asked a group of respected psychologists and neurological researchers to describe one thing about themselves that - despite all their knowledge and training - they still don't understand. Some answers (they had to be 150 words or less) are fascinating, some just egoistical. But they are all interesting in their own way.

Here's what Stephen Rose had to say: "A lifetime studying the neurobiology of learning and memory, and I still wonder about St Augustine’s questions 1600 years ago: "How does my brain/mind encompass vast regions of space and time, abstract thoughts and numbers, false propositions" - or for that matter the memory of my fourth birthday party or what I had for breakfast yesterday. Meantime, I am embarrassed by the naivete of my fellow neuroscientists who mechanically collapse mind into brain, or claim to be able to localise within that mass of tissue: equity, empathy, romantic love... "You’re nothing but a bunch of neurons" claimed Francis Crick, locating consciousness in the anterior cingulate gyrus. Lombroso redux indeed! As the mind is wider than the brain, to misquote Emily Dickinson, what other sciences/knowledges do we need to bring to bear to understand ourselves?"