Free the Weed or Ban the Woo

3:00 PM / Posted by David Hartery /

Much shorter post than last time. Just a quick thought.

We ban headshops selling “legal highs” in Ireland because we don’t know what is in them and the owners are misleading as to their effects and efficacy.

Yet, all over Ireland people are free to purchase and consume alternative medicines of all sorts without a problem. Homeopaths and Chiropractors are free to operate out of any premises, purveyors of dubious Chinese medicine can claim to cure cancer in take-aways – and yet no action is taken. Where are the angry grannies ringing into Joe Duffy and threatening to burn down the Health Food shops?

These “medicines” and “treatments” are conclusively proven to be no better than placebo. We continue to allow these quacks to profit from exploiting the vulnerable. Why do we ban drugs and things that teenagers buy in headshops? To prevent someone making a stupid decision that could harm them now and remove choice in the future, to prevent against 3rd party harms (like anti-social behaviour or stealing to feed the habit) and to stop them from becoming a drain on the state as they wallow in addiction and take millions of dollars to treat from complications. I’m going to examine each of these in turn.

Firstly, to stop people doing stupid stuff. Sometimes people make decisions that even by their own metrics are stupid. Subjectively stupid that they regret doing. So we stop them, as much as possible from doing stupid stuff that would have lasting consequences. We place restrictions on risky behaviour, we don’t let you cut your own arm off, we don’t let you consent to cannibalism or becoming a slave. Because down the line, this choice takes away future choices. The NHS in the UK recently released a report where it (and I’m paraphrasing) said “Homeopathy is of dubious scientific merit, but we will keep it anyway in the interest of patient choice”. The thing is, in this instance, like taking the first hit of crack cocaine, this is a choice we shouldn’t allow. Because when you have cancer and you choose homeopathy, it isn’t a choice that allows you a lot more choices.

Secondly, 3rd party harms. In short, your friends and family have to watch you drink water instead of something that can actually help you. Then if by some random luck you spontaneously get cured, you become a walking anecdote for the success of these treatments, perpetuating the harm to other people. Those are two harms to other people of your choice to use CAM. I could think of more, but I digress.

Thirdly then, becoming a drain on the state. In instances where the state is funding CAM, it is already a drain on the state. The taxpayer is ultimately funding the ultimate white elephant, even more useless than an 80,000 seater football stadium in a one street town is funding millions for “doctors” to give people glasses of water. Secondly, if you don’t take real treatments and then get worse, the cost of treating you increases. So not only has the state paid for you to receive pretend medicine, it has now paid for you to get pretend medicine AND more real medicine than you would have needed had you got the good stuff in the first instance.

So what is my conclusion. CAM is just as harmful to choice and society as illegal narcotics. So either free the weed or ban this sick filth.


Sean on August 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM

You assume that politicians use things like principles and rationality when making decisions. This is clearly false. Head shop products are banned because enough influential constituents complained about them. They complained because their static view of morality told them head shop products are drugs and drugs are bad, mmmkay. This is the sum total of public discourse in this country. If these issues were really approached rationally, there would many things that would be legalised and probably regulated like in the Netherlands. Freedom is an illusion, man...

Comment by David Hartery on August 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM

"You assume that politicians use things like principles and rationality when making decisions. This is clearly false"

Can't disagree with that.

Lost all my faith in the Irish public sphere around the time of the civil partnerships bill.

Comment by Dr. Nancy Malik on August 4, 2010 at 7:14 PM

Real is scientific homeopathy. It cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails. Nano doses of evidence-based modern homeopathy medicine brings big results for everyone

Comment by David Hartery on August 5, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Evidence based homeopathy is an oxymoron. No such thing exists.

No clinical study ever has ever said that homeopathy works any better than placebo.

Comment by Automatic Writing on August 5, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Which of course means that all homeopaths are at best deluded charlatans and at worst confidence tricksters.

MedTek on August 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Dr. Nancy Malik is not a doctor. She's "licensed medical professional" (homeopath) in India.

Automatic Writing has it just right.

Comment by skepticat on August 5, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Good post, thanks. I agree with all the comments too (apart from the nancytroll, obviously).

Comment by Dr. Nancy Malik on August 16, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Studies in support of Homeopathy published in reputed journals

1. Scientific World Journal

2. Lancet

3. Neuro Psycho Pharmacology // Bacopa Monnieri for memory

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