Saturday, June 04, 2011

Nadine Dorries - still talking rubbish

On Any Questions this week, Nadine Dorries gives a stellar performance. Genuinely unmissable. Apart from the fact that she she starts the programme by answering the second - as yet unasked - question first (and we all thought the panellists didn't know the questions in advance...), she continues in a generally confused vein throughout. Classically with Nadine, she counters the appalling story this week about the abuse of adults in the care system by revealing a personal anecdote about visiting an A&E department and having to face a nurse with piercings and tattoos, who didn't carry out tasks requested by a doctor within 15 minutes. Quite how this compares to violent assaults on patients that are now the subject of criminal investigation, Nadine doesn't make clear and nor does she explain exactly how many private hospitals operate an A&E department for comparative purposes. They don't, because trauma care is fiendishly challenging, ruinously expensive and impossible to schedule. Indeed, in most private hospitals, if the wheels really come off during your treatment, you will be bluelighted to the nearest NHS hospital to get the full range of emergency treatment that they can offer, not just the cherry-picked care that the private provider chooses to sell.

I'm still trying to work out why the Tory party allows her out on her own - although delighted at the quality of work she does in making the argument for Labour.

One of her finest moments is when she sallies forth on the issue about drug legalisation, quoting 'facts' she has gleaned from a cursory reading of the website of the National Drug Prevention Alliance - not one of the big players in the drugs field, it has to be said. They don't appear to commission much in the way of research, rather they try to act as a well-meaning resource page. Anyway, here's Nadine:
"...they startled me when they told me that the 'cut' of cannabis that teenagers are smoking now... is actually 50 times more potent than it was even a year ago, because of the different drugs that are coming in and being put into it and it only takes the teenager one 'spliff' or one 'joint' or whatever they refer to it now to smoke and they will never reach their full academic potential, because it is so dangerous..."
The problem with this is that it is utter cobblers, hysteria reminiscent of Reefer Madness.

With regard to one joint ruining lives, the NDPA's own website makes this comment, dating from 2002 (emphasis added)
On only one joint a month, mental ability may be compromised. Even this level of usage could possibly result in lasting impairment.50% of  THC (the main psychoactive ingredient) is still present in the brain cells 5 or 6 days later, and 10% after a month. This badly disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Few children using cannabis, even occasionally, will achieve their fill (sic) potential.
A rather different view from Nadine's simplistic mispresentation. As for her claims about the rocketing strength of cannabis, I'm not sure how NDPA would be aware of this, as they don't carry out the analysis or research themselves. The most recent major study was for the Home Office in 2008 and it revealed that the most common form of cannabis on British streets was domestically-produced sinsemillia, which had a median potency of 15% THC (the active component), compared with 13.98% median potentcy for a similar study in 2004. Although this is significantly higher than the imported resin (5%) and herbal cannabis (9%) which used to form the largest part of the market, this hardly marks a 50-fold increase in a year. Earlier studies suggested that rumours of a super-strength version dominating the market were incorrect - just 4% of samples had a potency over 20% and the highest sample tested hit 24% THC content.

Making objective comparisons with drugs used 30 or 40 years ago is impossible, as detailed records of strength simply weren't maintained then, so comparisons are based on anecdotal evidence at best. Even using THC content is flawed, as it ignores the effects of CBD, which is also present in cannabis and actually moderates the effect of THC. It is probably reasonable to extrapolate that as domestically-grown cannabis now dominates the UK market and that it has a higher THC content than resin or imported herbal cannabis, then it is likely that the strength has increased over the decades as imports have lost market share, but figures of 50 times are simply unsustainable claims, even over the decades, let alone over the past year.

I'm all in favour of an open discussion about how we deal with drugs, their effects and the associated criminality, but it needs to be had on the basis of sound data, not the utter drivel that spews from Nadine Dorries' mouth. Simple scare stories don't work with young adults, they just serve to make parents and other authority figures look out of touch with reality and that just destroys credibility. I'm not making an argument for or against legalisation - just for the application of fact to discussions.

Fortunately for Nadine, her credibility is already laughably low.


Steely Dan said...

It would appear that the Tory Party have decided they need their own Sarah Palin figure ...

Dave Cross said...

In fact, David Raynes from the NDPA phoned in to Any Answers to distance the organisation from Dorries' distortion of their data.

Anonymous said...

hope every reader knows she was only an RN and not an SRN. I have a relation who can't comprehend the absolute tripe she comes out with and he is a Surgeon.
What concerns me is her lies and her fabrication of statistics.
We in Liverpool laugh but at the same time don't know how she has managed to stay an MP ( and we know her from personal experience)
One day someone will pull the rug from under her.