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Project Blueprint: 'Not sufficiently robust'

Mark Easton | 16:04 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Home Office must have hoped no-one would notice. Quietly, without press release or even a statement, two weeks ago ministers published a long and eagerly-awaited evaluation of drugs education in schools [423Kb PDF].

blueprintWhy, one might ask, did they not want to trumpet the conclusion of a major research project which took six years of work and close to £6m of our money? After all, "Project Blueprint" had been hailed as the most important UK assessment of what works in trying to stop children taking drugs.

The answer is that the science had been so bungled that the research was almost useless. Here is the key finding:

The original design of the Blueprint evaluation was not sufficiently robust to allow an evaluation of impact and outcomes, and consequently the report cannot draw any conclusions on the efficacy of Blueprint in comparison to existing drug education programmes.

What?

Yes, a significant programme to assess whether a new way of preventing young people using illegal drugs actually worked could do no such thing. It emerges that they had failed to follow two of the most basic rules of such research:
• Make sure your sample is large enough
• Make sure you have a control group for comparison

The evaluation of the Blueprint approach was done in 23 schools in four areas of England with another six local schools acting as a control. But it quickly became clear that the methodology was flawed, as the researchers admit:

It was originally intended that the local school sample would act as a comparison group so that the efficacy of the Blueprint programme could be tested. However, analysis during the development of the evaluation concluded that to be able to detect differences between the two samples would require a sample of at least 50 schools. This was considered beyond the scope of the evaluation, both in terms of the resources it would require and what was appropriate for the evaluation of an untested approach.

So, at some point during the years of research, Home Office ministers must have been told of the problem at the heart of the Blueprint project. It would appear they were asked for more money to make the findings robust, but refused. Rather than pulling the plug on the whole evaluation, however, the process was allowed to struggle on in the hope that some broader comparisons might still be valid. It was to prove a vain hope.

While it was still planned that the local school data would be presented alongside the Blueprint school data, to enable some comparisons to be drawn between the two samples, recent academic and statistical reviews concluded that to present the data in this way would be misleading, given that the sample sizes are not sufficient to detect real differences between the two groups. Instead, findings from the local school data are presented separately in the report to provide some context to this work but do not act as a comparison group.

The Home Office is putting a brave face on this evidential disaster. In a statement sent to me, a spokesman said:

"The Blueprint programme has helped to raise and improve our understanding about the delivery of drug education in schools. The data gathered from Blueprint schools has been extremely useful in improving our understanding about what children and young people want out of drug education lessons."

However, even the arguably Panglossian statement admits that:

"Blueprint has clearly highlighted some of the key challenges to delivery of evidence-based drug education."

Well, yes. The challenge for the £6m evaluation was to demonstrate whether this new system of drug education - going beyond the classroom to involve parents, local media, trading standards (to try and stop shops selling glue and aerosols to children) and other agencies - worked better than traditional methods. However you dress it up, the evaluation failed to answer that fundamental question.

Home Office statisticians are anxious to distance themselves from the affair. One source made it clear to me that the evaluation was commissioned by the drugs "policy team" rather than by science and research.

There is also anger and frustration among those working in the drugs prevention field who already feel that the Home Office cares more about raids and treatment than it does about stopping people taking drugs in the first place.

Andrew Brown, co-ordinator of the Drug Education Forum, described the evaluation report as "hugely disappointing". He told me that "there was a great deal of expectation that we would get something really useful out of it", but that instead, practitioners will have to rely on American research which may be of limited value in the UK.

Eric Carlin, who sat on the Advisory Group to the Blueprint project, has an interesting blog post on the subject. Do read the thread, which contains some conspiratorial theories.

To some, this failure fits into a wider problem with Home Office evaluations. You may recall the rows over the "Tackling Knives Action Programme" (TKAP) revealed by this blog earlier in the year.

On that occasion, as now, the absence of a robust control group was deemed to have rendered some of the data "unsafe" [76Kb PDF].

And there is academic criticism suggesting Home Office ministers have form when it comes to cherry-picking bits of evaluations they like and ignoring the bits they don't.

For instance, the introduction of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs) in 1998 is examined in a 2007 report, "Survival of the Ideas that Fit: An Evolutionary Analogy for the Use of Evidence in Policy":

"Before the DTTO was rolled out across England and Wales, a study of three pilot areas was commissioned which concluded 'we could hardly portray the pilot programmes as unequivocally successful' (Turnbull et al., 2000: 87). The response in terms of policy was typical of the 'farming' mechanism. The negative findings were not publicised and the roll-out went ahead."

It is a similar story with another Home Office plan - the "Reducing Burglary Initiative". Professor Tim Hope at Keele University says the episode "illustrates what might happen when responsibility for validating policy - that is, for establishing 'what works' - is placed in the hands of (social) science, but the evidence produced is not, apparently, congenial to the particular 'network of governance' that is responsible for the policy".

If there is an upside to this story, it is that Blueprint evaluation has had to be honest and up-front about its limitations. Almost two years late and smuggled out though it may have been, the report suggests that statistical integrity is beginning to count for a bit more inside the Home Office.

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:41pm on 17 Sep 2009, badgercourage wrote:

    Mark

    As various of us have pointed out time and time again, the government is not interested in evidence unless it supports what they have already decided to do - Blunkett's talk of "evidence-based policy" was so much BS from the start. What we have is policy-based evidence, where research is only valued if it says the things Ministers and SpAds want to hear.

    The only upside from this fiasco is that some researchers will have learned a bit more about how not to do research and the importance of using a long spoon when dealing with the government. Oh, and most of that £6m. will have been spent on salaries of young researchers and overheads contributions to research teams...

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  • 2. At 4:48pm on 17 Sep 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    If ever there was proof that the governments initiatives and plans werent working this was it. The very fact that they admitted to the HO that it wasnt going to work and they still carried on giving them money anyway is just dispicable.

    I wonder if its projects like this, that Brown will be chopping when he gets rid of waste from the budget. I'm going to sign off for a while now, as this has actually got me worked up and I don't want this to be moderated out for using offensive yet justified language to describe the "people" running our country.

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  • 3. At 4:50pm on 17 Sep 2009, arny wrote:

    Excellent. How refreshing. If only more studies admitted they were in fact inconclusive. I hope whoever decided to take this honest approach is amply rewarded and promoted.

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  • 4. At 5:01pm on 17 Sep 2009, SteveRolles wrote:

    excellent piece Mark.

    People are right to be furious. This is symptomatic of the politicisation of f drug and drug policy research. Anyone half decent stats graduate could have seen that the methodology was shot full of holes from the outset - yet on it went. Indeed i personally raised public concerns about the controls and methodology with the project coordinators on several occiassions over the last few years. There is no excuse for these problems only emerging some way into the project. That defies credibility and people should rightly be suspicious that this is merely an excuse to cover up findings didn't fit what ministers wanted to hear.

    This was always about politics and never about proper objective research and analysis. Given the lack of enforcement involved in this side of policy why were the home office even involved, rather than Health or Eduction depts?

    Just think what brilliant research could have been undertaken with that 6 million in the right hands. That is the real tragedy here - on top of the scandal. Many, many people were waiting for this project to report on this hugely important issue - yet they heve been delivered nothing, not even a negative result (which would still have been useful). Literally Nothing - all the process guff in the reports is entirely meaningless without any health outcomes, or impact evaluation. An utter disgrace - for which there must be an appropriate reckoning.

    I hope the rest of the media pick this up and investigate further, indeed a full official investigation must be convened immediately into how this entirely avoidable disaster has been allowed to happen.

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  • 5. At 5:56pm on 17 Sep 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    Shocking, but sadly not surprising.

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  • 6. At 6:17pm on 17 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 6:19pm on 17 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    oh and one last thing a free poster a bit of history.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 8. At 8:04pm on 17 Sep 2009, yewlodge wrote:

    Seems like the Home Office have been taking lessons from the MOD. Spend a load of money, deliver it late and no damn use anyway! Chinook Helicopters, SA80 rifle, snatch landrover replacement, submarines, MOD IT system etc. There are a total of at least 20 absolutely damning MOD project reviews on the Public Accounts Committee Website this year alone!

    Everyone is talking in worrying terms about budget cuts and yet right across Whitehall we see in total hundreds of Billions being wasted on loads of projects. You could cut the lot with no consequences at all, they don't deliver anything worth having anyway!

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  • 9. At 9:57pm on 17 Sep 2009, Define_real wrote:

    You have to laugh though don't you? Don't you?? This bunch of clowns/spivs/monkeys with their trim haircuts and flash suits masquarading as 'labour' have really stitched this joint up good and proper, and make no mistake. They couldn't run an orgy in a brothel. I cannot believe anyone still falls for em, surely not! I thought Thatcher was dreadful, but 'blimey' Blair and Brown between them have really gone to town with their entourage of fools. 6 million quid of our money, and they plead poverty to properly equip our troops.. Disgraceful.. I hope you're reading this Home Sec.. I really do!

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  • 10. At 10:56pm on 17 Sep 2009, MK_Steve wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 11:10pm on 17 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark Easton:

    Why, one might ask, did they not want to trumpet the conclusion of a major research project which took six years of work and close to £6m of our money?

    Also, the other reasons could also be that; The report only contain stats and numbers...

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 12. At 11:18pm on 17 Sep 2009, tarquin wrote:

    Good stuff, Mark - you have to got to be the best reporter the BBC has right now

    This isn't surprising after the knife and gender stats, I think what it does show is that all governments get tired and are weaker with age because they can't admit their mistakes, regardless of political affiliations they need to be sent packing

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  • 13. At 11:43pm on 17 Sep 2009, MK_Steve wrote:

    What are the qualifications of those given £6m to do the Blueprint project? According to the government's report it was ISM at University of Stirling. Look it up and be prepared for a shock. Can't say more as I'll get moderated again. I've never heard of a large scientific research study being managed by someone without a PhD or even a higher degree, science or maths qualification. Is it any wonder it hit the rocks?

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  • 14. At 01:33am on 18 Sep 2009, hack-round wrote:

    Well not as surprising or as shocking as it ought to be because we have come to expect nothing else from this useless government who somehow seem to maintain a high opinion of themselves, even when their best friends tell them.

    There have of course in politics always been; lies, very bad lies and statistics –modified for the moderators.

    This government have taken the art of manipulation of the stats to a whole new dimension I seem to remember the cry was once education, education, education.

    That unfortunately by the time it got to the front line in the schools finished up like Chinese whispers as administration, administration, administration, with teachers ticking boxes and beavering away working at the Ofsted et al paper mountain game no time left for teachers to educate the children on maths and English sorry that should be numeracy and literacy, sorry no it is mathematics and language no wonder there is no time for drug education or any other knowledge transfer for that matter so thank goodness for the internet.

    If Blueprint had done its study on line it might have had some success after all where are we debating the crucial issues of life these days. In the surreal world of the internet where it is virtual but never quite real, so it is safe?

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  • 15. At 05:17am on 18 Sep 2009, brian walker wrote:

    It might help to know who performed this "evaluation" just to ensure that they are banned from government business.

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  • 16. At 08:50am on 18 Sep 2009, ecarlin wrote:

    Mark, I think it's important that you've picked this up. When Blueprint was being set up in the first place there were other methodological problems with the research being discussed within the field, such as how useful it would be to limit the scope of the research to secondary students only when, from what we know from the USA, helping to manage the transition from primary to secondary school seems to be extremely important in influencing behaviour. That doesn't feature particularly highly here.

    I still want to hear a satisfactory answer from the Home Office about when they realised that the research wasn't going to deliver evidence about outcomes and why the decision was then made to continue, in spite of the project's failure to achieve its main aim. We still badly need better UK research evidence about how best to deliver drug education so that it can help protect young people - and not just based on outcomes such as evaluation reports that say young people and parents appreciated/enjoy it. We need the kind of evidence that Blueprint was supposed to deliver about impact over a period of time on knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour.

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  • 17. At 09:41am on 18 Sep 2009, fillandfrowpist wrote:

    In agreeing with #1 I find it disturbing that we feel we can rely on anything the Government produces. We know, for fact, that much Government work is to justify its performance targets, and that it will "use" whatever data it can (even deeply flawed material) to justify the action it WANTS to take rather than the direction it MUST take to meet the required INTENTION.

    Even within white papers, produced after fairly comprehensive consultation, there is a sense that minsters emphasise the material that backs them and trivialises that which doesn't. It does not help that there are many "consultancy and research" companies queuing up for Government contracts knowing that if they do a "good job" they'll be favoured by more work.

    In principle the expression "not sufficiently robust" is an understatement - the headline should be "what a waste of OUR money" and heads should roll.

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  • 18. At 09:50am on 18 Sep 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    Failure and drug policy are two words that go together like strawberries and cream. when will people learn, when will they stop throwing our taxes down the drug prohibition drain. How can we educate children, when most adults are totally misguided about drugs. Legalise.

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  • 19. At 11:04am on 18 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    somthing for primary schools and politicians :)

    http://www.itsjustaplant.com/

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  • 20. At 12:34pm on 18 Sep 2009, Freeman wrote:

    Well done Mark. Interesting and saddening case. I have come to expect little more from this government and the civil service. Where is Guy Fawkes when you need him?

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  • 21. At 2:35pm on 18 Sep 2009, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    Good grief. So this is where my hard earned tax money goes is it? It seems it was obvious from an early stage that this bit of 'research' was flawed - so what do our highly educated betters do - throw more money at it in the hope that something might pop up. The best way to stop young people taking drugs is to talk to them about the issue honestly and get FRANK right out of the picture.

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  • 22. At 2:47pm on 18 Sep 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    SteveRolles

    'Just think what brilliant research could have been undertaken with that 6 million in the right hands.'

    The right hands being TDPF, even better idea for the Home Office, project TDPF...

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  • 23. At 6:15pm on 18 Sep 2009, Crim_blogger wrote:

    All be told this is pretty poor attempt at an evaluation, in terms of research design, study execution and analysis. Given that it was a new way of doing things, why didn't the HO run it as a randomised trial (which they talk about a lot but don't do very often)? Even doing that has its problems, notably spill-over effects if areas are close to one another, but with the emphasis placed on this by the government it seems like an expensive missed opportunity.

    Mark - do you know if the data will be made publically available? It could be logged with the UK data archive as an anonymous dataset then someone might actually be able to use it in the future, rather than it sitting in the "data cemetary" that is the Home Office. After all, we (the taxpayer) paid for it!

    Keep up the good work!

    p.s. £6 million for an evaluation of this size/quality is an absolute scandal!

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  • 24. At 6:28pm on 18 Sep 2009, Crim_blogger wrote:

    p.s. As for the HO statisticians 'distancing themselves' from it - sorry, no dice. How can one arm of the HO distance itself from another? If the HO is going to commission huge pieces of research like this, surely it makes sense to ensure that one of the (many) RDS researchers has a look at it first!?

    This sort of story makes me want to stop being a researcher.

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  • 25. At 8:01pm on 18 Sep 2009, stanilic wrote:

    What is so depressing is the pointlessness of it all, particularly given the importance of the task.

    I nearly choked the other morning when I heard that heroin addicts were less likely to behave criminally if they got a proper fix from their doctor rather than self-administered methadone. This is what was being done in the Sixties before the Dangerous Drugs Act was implemented. It worked reasonably well then so why did it change?

    I can only conclude we have spent over forty years fiddling pointlessly at the misuse of drugs. We need effective social policies that are practical and which produce results; not any more bureaucratic fumbling.

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  • 26. At 9:47pm on 19 Sep 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    NuLab Government version of life - - - On the ground reality
    Crime in general has fallen over last - - - Crime in general has risen
    12yrs year-on-year
    Violent crime is at an all time low - - - Violent crime is at an all
    time high
    Police detection of criminals is - - - Police detection of criminals
    improving with modern technology, has fallen year-on-year since
    e.g. cars, CCTV, speed cameras PCs no longer do foot patrols
    Modern NHS - GP services have - - - Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses
    improved with 'target-setting' and Patients report no
    significant improvement to
    Medical practise or Patient
    care
    National Curriculum and OFSTED have - - - Nat Curric and OFSTED have
    been a boon in developing/improving stagnated initiative and
    education standards increased stress on Teachers
    and Pupils for no real gains
    Supporting a largely unregulated Free - - - Record Unemployment, falling
    Market enterprise system for Banks, House prices, collapsed Share
    Stock market etc. enabled G.B. to values, projected record cuts
    no longer suffer 'stop - go' and the in Public spending, raised
    cyclical 'boom - bust' of the past Taxes reveal otherwise
    Membership of the European Union is - - - EU membership has led to
    beneficial to the G.B. Citizens record illegal Immigration,
    out-sourcing of jobs to non-
    EU areas, severe reduction of
    UK Parliament power and
    Citizens subject to European
    Court that supplants GB Law
    UK Parliament is responsive to UK - - - Political Correctness, ID
    Citizens, a good example of Democracy cards, EU Referendums etc.
    and MPs work in the Public's interest and Expenses...

    The contrasts between Jock Brown's Government hype and Public experience are limitless: The reality is the 6 million quid spent on Research for a known defunct Drugs Report is no different than the 12 MOD Helicopters still defunct after 600 million spent on them!
    Tragically, in each case, lives are lost and it is the same when one looks at Police and Crime, Health services, Education, European Union... all these wasted efforts by a NuLab Government without a shred of decency or concern for anything but hanging on in power.

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  • 27. At 07:55am on 20 Sep 2009, MK_Steve wrote:

    I can't name the University (I got moderated) but it's in the report (linked by Mark above). The ISM blueprint project team are easily looked up. In my opinion, directing this sort of scientific study requires a person with more than just ('hypothetically..' for the moderator!) a Bachelors degree... in English (see for yourself). The academics (it pains me to use the term in this case) should be accountable. The govt has messed up, sure, but the University involved should also be named and shamed, as it has swallowed up £6m of our money and not delivered.

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  • 28. At 08:08am on 20 Sep 2009, MK_Steve wrote:

    Pop "Institute for social marketing" into a well known search engine to find that...

    The director of the ISM got an OBE in this years honours list!! Also see the deputy director (blueprint manager).

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  • 29. At 10:30am on 20 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    MK_Steve
    What do you expect from an authoritarian democracy some of the most troubled counties in the world when it comes to drugs have realised that this war were society is the combatant can not be won.
    Even dictatorships of 25 years think its now unconstitutional to harm and threaten people for their alternate drug uses.

    Poor hate upon a proportion of society and that society will fight back you only have to look at the current explosion in Canada and the USA over Mark Emery he has but a few weeks of freedom left before he goes to prison for 5 years for people buying his seeds. The fed government want to put him away for the rest of his natural life.

    I find it very hard to believe that there are people with such hatred for another person and the way they live that they seek to remove them from society. The time is well upon us to stop this government induced hate which at its heart is no better than the laws against gays in the 40's and 50' against the black throughout the early 20Th century. Many of the most remarkable intellects of our time have been drug users many "NICE PEOPLE USE DRUGS"(release). A vast proportion of our ruling power used drugs.

    WE have racists
    We have homo-phobics
    We have religious Hate
    We have Druggist's

    We don't accept the first three forms of hate and have developed a huge array of law to deal with those that practice such hate, so why do we continue with the 4Th leaving the power with those that hate. How many more young soldiers will be lost on foreign soil to support this ideology of Hate.

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  • 30. At 10:41am on 20 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    How marijuana became legal
    Medical marijuana is giving activists a chance to show how a legitimized pot business can work. Is the end of prohibition upon us?

    http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/11/magazines/fortune/medical_marijuana_legalizing.fortune/index.htm

    seems Obama has it right

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  • 31. At 2:18pm on 20 Sep 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    My apologies to all for my #26.

    Somehow the BBC Published version has jumbled every sentence!

    Somewhere in it is a comparison of NuLab Gov view versus the Public reality of largely wasted 12 years.

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  • 32. At 9:56pm on 20 Sep 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    WELL SAID GREG DYKE!
    WELL PUT GREG DYKE!
    EXCELLENT POINTS FOR DEBATE GREG DYKE!

    AT LAST, SOMEONE POINTS OUT THE BBC IS NOT REPRESENTING THE BRITISH LICENSE FEE PAYERS!
    AT LAST SOMEONE POINTS OUT THE BBC IS IN LEAGUE WITH THE POWERS THAT BE AND WHOLLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE INTERESTS OF THE BRITISH CITIZENS!

    As it has become increasingly evident in the last few hours that the BBC Editors have decided to ignore Mr Greg Dyke's cogent comments on the weakness and failings of BBC Political coverage of the Westminster village-CivilService establishment, AND HAVE DECIDED not to provide any PUBLIC ACCESS TO COMMENT ON MR DYKE'S VIEWS I just thought I would try to get my support for his observations placed in public (at least until BBC Moderators remove it).

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  • 33. At 11:22am on 21 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 34. At 11:29am on 21 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Her son is the product of the ideaology of this very report I find this sooo funny at the ripe old age of 21 he will have been feed all the nulabour mantra on drugs and there implications LOL so he makes a well informed choice and snorts his brains out... OMG so funny. Opps oww just fell of my chair ....

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  • 35. At 11:41am on 21 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Ex-minister's son on drugs charge
    The 21-year-old son of former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has been charged with possession of cocaine.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8266295.stm

    just in case :P

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  • 36. At 3:48pm on 21 Sep 2009, forgottenukcitizen wrote:

    So there you have it then.
    Another 6 million pounds of our money down the pan to pay a bunch of pen pushers to come out with dodgy statistics those are no use to anybody at all.

    The real question you should be asking is whether the Government had any real intentions of taking the report on board anyway?
    Lets face it, NuLabour has a nasty habit of stumping up large amounts of our cash for enquiries, projects etc & then ignoring the conclusions & advice if it does not match their own opinions.

    We have already seen this with Brown upgrading cannabis to a classs B drug, when the Governments own independent authority advised it should remain class C.

    Evidence based policy my ….

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  • 37. At 6:25pm on 21 Sep 2009, Ernie wrote:

    It doesn't matter.

    It doesn't look at the wider problem of reducing to the harm caused to society by drugs and drug policy. In the case of the softer drugs it is the legal status and enforcement of prohibition that is the cause of the damage to society, not the drugs themselves.

    But even then, it doesn't matter, because the government have already decided on how to deal with drugs based upon political expediency and posturing about how tough they are. Research that agrees with them is hard to come by, but is screamed from the rooftops even when it only appears to validate their position. Contrary evidence is suppressed and ignored.

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  • 38. At 9:47pm on 21 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Several points ....
    1) if any group taking £6 million of taxpayers money admits that it messed up the research through its own incompetence, it should return the money.

    2) there seems to be alot of poor research in many fields. If you haven't read "Bad Science" yet, do. It's a real eye-opener.

    (for the mods - I earn no money from recommending this book. You should read it too!!)

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  • 39. At 00:57am on 22 Sep 2009, TheEnglishman wrote:

    29. At 10:30am on 20 Sep 2009, CommunityCriminal wrote:
    MK_Steve
    A vast proportion of our ruling power used drugs.
    ================
    and here was I thinking the only other thing all our ruling incompetents had in common was being Oxbridge Graduates.

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  • 40. At 1:43pm on 22 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    See? Nice people do take drugs

    Patricia Hewitt's son, arrested for taking cocaine with friends, is one of thousands of young people criminalised for drug use


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/22/drugs-patricia-hewitt-son-cocaine

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  • 41. At 2:13pm on 22 Sep 2009, Khrystalar wrote:

    Sorry... Run that by me again?

    So; they spent £6m of taxpayer's money, took six years, and the only solid conclusion they actually came to was that the study itself was a damned silly idea in the first place? And they realised it was a bad idea right at the start, before they'd spent the money?

    And now we see in the news that, because of the dire state of public finances, there isn't enough money and we have to make firefighters redundant?

    Sorry, but does anybody else have a really, REALLY serious problem with that state of affairs? Why the hell do we let these people - our government, the opposition, our elected officials - get away with this???

    Sure, £6m is a drop in the ocean compared to what we need, right now. But this is, surely, only one of a VAST number of hugely expensive and largely pointless consultancy projects and studies which bring no real benefit to anyone except those being paid to produce them.

    How many REAL jobs could be saved from the public spending cuts which are inevitable at this point, based on just that 6m alone?

    How about some future government sets down - in legislation - the way things need to work with regards to taxpayer funding. At the start of the budgetary year, we first of all pay for the public services this country relies on; the police, nurses and doctors, firefighters, teachers, etc.

    Then we take care of the benefits system, with priority going to British citizens who've paid tax all - or most - of their lives. (Everyone else can wait).

    Then - assuming there's any money left - we pay out on any action which needs to be taken for economic reasons, such as subsidies for businesses or bailing out bankers who were too stupid and incompetent to keep an eye on what loans they were buying, selling, and granting.

    And then - and ONLY then - and only if there's any money left at all... THEN those in charge can organise another useless £6m report, or set up another quango consisting of their old school friends and second wives.

    And if there isn't any money left after doing the first two (or even the first ONE)... then, tough luck. We'll just have to do without.

    I can't see any government, in the near future, doing that though.

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  • 42. At 11:48am on 23 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    5 Things the Corporate Media Don't Want You to Know About Cannabis http://www.alternet.org/media/142815/5_things_the_corporate_media_don't_want_you_to_know_about_cannabis

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  • 43. At 5:06pm on 23 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    On the last article of 5 things I find the fact that were Drug education is high across 60 regions the use of drugs rises higher than none drug education flooded regions. Funny that don't you think...

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  • 44. At 7:56pm on 23 Sep 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    @ CommunityCriminal

    I suppose it depends what that education is doesn't it. If what the kids are being taught are the lies normally spouted then use will increase because of rebellion.

    I wonder what the results would be if the TRUTH were told. Would usage increase or would the kids treat it like an everyday substance and not really be bothered about it?

    If they stop making a huge fuss over anything negative involving cannabis we might see use decrease even more than it already has. Sorry but shouting a about mental health problems and madness and all the other bunk they spout really does nothing for the education of youngsters. It only serves to make them more curious.

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  • 45. At 8:20pm on 23 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    iNotHere your quite right all this scare talk over a flower makes for rebellion and riches I just did a break down on the price of green on the other blog. the profit on class c cannabis for 10 pounds in weight at universal UK wide price of £90 an ounce was only £1900 ish today under class b and an average of £220 an ounce its a whopping £32.600.00 for the same amount with smaller higher priced deals. No wonder all the youngsters are snorting coke. A real mess when addictive class A drugs are falling in price and cannabis is rising in price.

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  • 46. At 9:14pm on 24 Sep 2009, Always Blurting wrote:

    I often believe that drug-taking, for some, is genetic. Around puberty (15-16n years old) I noticed that only some of my classmates developed an interest in drugs (cannabis and ecstacy), irrespective of their family or socio-economic background.

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  • 47. At 11:12pm on 24 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    #46
    "some of my classmates developed an interest in drugs (cannabis and ecstacy), irrespective of their family or socio-economic background."

    To true and regardless of all the education on drugs.

    "I often believe that drug-taking, for some, is genetic. Around puberty (15-16n years old)"

    it might very well be I often wonder if the rise in the use of cannabis has direct correlation to removal of hemp from our diets over the last 100 years. thus making some people more prone to using cannabis once they come into contact with it through the body's natural cravings, considering that the human endocannabinoid system is in full swing building the ever learning brain and developing the body's systems at this age. could these people have a genetic endocannabinoid problem that the body its trying to balance.

    Its a far reaching idea I know but considering what they are finding cures for from cannabinoid therapies in cancer diabetes obesity degenerative diseases its an option open to consideration especially when you look at the rise in these disease's and the removal of hemp from the food chain.

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  • 48. At 11:48pm on 24 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    hemp in our diets.

    http://www.marijuanalibrary.org/HT_Hempseed_0492.html

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