Hamas Softens Its Stance On Israel

For the first time, Hamas announced that the radical terrorist group would work towards coexistence with Israel and support a Palestinian state in the West Bank, even as their leader called it a “stage”, the AP reports from Ramallah:

In an apparent change in long-standing policy, a top Hamas leader said Friday the militant group would accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as a long-term truce with Israel. …
“Hamas has announced that it accepts a Palestinian independent state within the 1967 borders with a long-term truce,” Sheik Hassan Yousef, the top Hamas leader in the West Bank, told The Associated Press, referring to lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Yousef said the Hamas position was new and called it a “stage.” In the past, Hamas has said it would accept a state in the 1967 borders as a first step to taking over Israel. Yousef did not spell out the conditions for the renewable cease-fire nor did he say how long it would last.
“For us a truce means that two warring parties live side by side in peace and security for a certain period and this period is eligible for renewal,” Yousef said. “That means Hamas accepts that the other party will live in security and peace.”

This represents a stunning change of direction for Hamas, which swore to boycott the upcoming Palestinian elections as it considered the PA an Israeli construct and a PLO sellout. Of course, Hamas has been hammered by Israel over the past year or more, with their new policy of total war on Hamas leadership creating a revolving door at the top. With their top men getting killed, Israeli intelligence obviously getting excellent information on their security, and the flow of funds decreasing due to the American efforts to stem the flow of cash to terrorist organizations, Hamas needed to adapt in order to survive.
No doubt that this is an encouraging sign, as is Hamas’ offer to explore a truce for the Palestinian election and beyond. However, two points should be kept in mind. First, Yousef’s characterization of this new approach as a “stage” recalls Yasser Arafat’s widely-recognized strategy of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank only as a pretense for pushing Israel into the Mediterranean. The “stage” remark may have just been a sop to more radical Hamas factions, but Yousef has to take some concrete steps to assure Israel that his offer isn’t another Arafatish Trojan horse.
Next, Hamas is not the only terrorist operation in the West Bank and Gaza. Islamic Jihad also operates rather freely, especially in Gaza, and the Hamas offer may just provide a front for it to join in negotiations while Islamic Jihad continues its terror operations against Israel. If so, any Israeli response to this provocation would allow Hamas to claim itself a wounded party and act in kind. This won’t fool anyone except the Palestinians themselves, but that’s the target marked for Hamas.
On another note, the AP reports that Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak has also changed his tune regarding Israel’s Ariel Sharon:

Hamas’ statement came as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak described Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the Palestinians’ best chance for peace.
Mubarak’s comments could mean warming relations between Israel and an important Mideast peace mediator at a crucial time. It was a marked departure from past comments from Mubarak and other Egyptian officials blaming Sharon for the escalation of violence in the territories.
“I think if they (Palestinians) can’t achieve progress in the time of the current (Israeli) prime minister, it will be very difficult to make any progress in peace,” Mubarak told reporters.

After more than twenty years of Arab vilification, Mubarak’s endorsement of Sharon’s government may be even more amazing than Hamas’ reversal. Again, Sharon’s unilateral proposal to withdraw from Gaza may be paying some diplomatic dividends, and no doubt Mubarak could have had an impact on Hamas’ new direction; at the least, he could have threatened to cut off any support for their organization if they didn’t start playing ball. Mubarak doesn’t need to see any more Tabas in the short years he has left.
I also think that Mubarak realizes that, like Nixon going to Red China, only Sharon has the credibility on the Israeli right to deliver a peace plan. With Sharon’s political troubles at home, he also sees that if Sharon is to have the opportunity to deliver, it has to be very soon.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! I share Glenn’s view about the big “if”. However, if peace ever does come, it will have to start with the big ifs. Verification and progressive ties are the keys to determining whether this is a genuine shift in policy or a momentary shift in tactics.

Who Hired Cornelia Spinner?

Washington DC often complains about its Constitutional status as a protectorate of the federal government and its inability to produce representation to Congress. The city has long campaigned for statehood, a move resisted by a Congress loathe to go through an amendment process and blocked by Republicans who see no need to give Democrats two easy seats in the Senate. Washingtonians don’t make their case any easier with their inept management of their city government, either; they notoriously continued to elect Marion Barry to leadership positions despite the repeated embarrassment he caused in office.
The Washington Times reports this morning on another scandal to hit DC. The former director of their education office, who resigned in scandal after an audit found fraudulent travel reimbursements and misuse of federal funds, managed to get another job in education with the city at a six-figure salary — and no one can figure out who hired her:

The former director of the D.C. State Education Office (SEO) who quit five months ago amid charges of mismanagement was rehired within months to another city government post with a six-figure salary.
Cornelia V. “Connie” Spinner resigned June 30 as director of the education office, where city auditors uncovered improprieties in travel expenses and misuse of federal grant dollars. But she was hired Aug. 16 for a $105,393-a-year job running an adult-literacy program, which the city moved that month from SEO jurisdiction to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). …
The new job provided Ms. Spinner with fewer responsibilities but a paycheck nearly matching the $105,579 per year that she gave up at the education office. She went from running an agency with an $81 million budget, about 50 employees and 7 programs, to overseeing a single program with a $2 million budget and about 21 employees.

After Spinner’s miraculous — and pricey — resurrection to a city management post, the mayor’s office spent a day trying to determine who hired her back. Mayor Anthony Williams’ spokesperson, Sharon Gang, announced that it wasn’t them and they had no authority to hire anyone into the position:

“Here’s what I found out,” Ms. Gang said. “When it was determined that the adult-literacy program would be more appropriately housed and run by UDC, Connie Spinner was hired as a university employee to run the program. She has prior experience in the field of adult education and is qualified to administer the program from UDC.”

She has prior experience with funds disappearing, too, which one would think should have an impact on whether a candidate is “qualified” to administer any government program. Apparently, in DC at least, creativity is coveted more than honesty and competecncy.
As for the UDC, no one over there wants to take credit for providing Ms. Spinner with a chance at rehabilitation, either:

“Ms. Spinner came to the university to run the adult-literacy program in the same capacity she held when the program fell under District control,” [UDC spokesman] Mr. Andrews said. “The university hired her because she came with the grant that supported the program.”

Perhaps DC should hire Ms. Spinner as a procurement agent instead of an education manager. She managed to only lose $200 while whittling her budget responsibilities by 96% and cutting her staff by almost 60%. She should negotiate my terms of employment!
The incompetence of the DC leadership structure should warn Americans from giving DC politicians any higher status than they’ve managed to achieve. If DC continues to elect drug addicts and appoint incompetents and frauds, none of whom can even keep adequate HR records to determine who hired whom for key management positions, they’re clearly incompetent to join Congress. And let me tell you, that’s an insult that hurts.
UPDATE: The salary difference was $200, not $2,000 as I originally wrote. I’ve corrected the post. (Hat tip: krm)

Bush Picks Up Myers’ Support For Intelligence Bill

George Bush has decided to make another push to get the intelligence-reform bill through Congress, and he now has new support to undercut objections from GOP House members that have blocked its passage. Joint Chiefs chair General Richard Myers, whose objections have been used to stall the bill from coming to the house floor, announced yesterday that a Congressional conference session addressed all of his concerns and that he now supports its passage:

An Oct. 21 letter written by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has until now been used by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to strengthen opposition to the measure on the ground that it could harm the country’s war fighters. …
“The issue that I commented on, I understand, has been worked satisfactorily in the conference report,” Myers said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. “That part has been accommodated,” he said, adding: “I haven’t seen the specific language.” …
Bush will reportedly also attempt in his letter to deal with the opposition of House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who has pressed for the inclusion in the measure of a number of immigration and law enforcement provisions, some of which were opposed by Senate members and were dropped from the compromise bill.
Bush’s letter, the administration and congressional sources said, will express support for several of Sensenbrenner’s proposals but will say he is pleased that the more controversial issues were dropped for consideration next year.

It would appear that Bush has cut the legs off of Duncan Hunter and probably James Sensenbrenner and will get House speaker Denny Hastert to finally produce the bill for a vote. I believe that the reforms included in this bill will prove damaging to intelligence analysis rather than beneficial, and in the immediate aftermath of the election, I don’t see the necessity for rushing it through Congress. The additional bureaucracy it creates will only impede the flow of information to the President and narrow down the options available to him even further than our existing structure does.
However, with Myers withdrawing his objections, I don’t see Hunter being able to stand up to an undeniable majority in the House who want to vote on the bill. I expect it to pass Congress in the next week or so and for Bush to sign it into law before Christmas. Congress and the White House, having created this bureaucratic behemoth, will have to watch it carefully to ensure it does not create new breakdowns in intelligence analysis — or we may find ourselves waiting on another commission report to explain why Washington DC suddenly disappeared in a flash of light.

Ukrainian Rada Presses To Abandon Iraq

In an unpleasant side effect of an otherwise delightful progression of open democracy in Ukraine, the newly-emboldened Rada demanded that the Kuchma government withdraw Ukraine’s 1600-troop contingent from Iraq, an unwelcome development so close to the Iraqi elections:

Ukraine’s parliament voted to demand the withdrawal of the 1,600 Ukrainian troops from Iraq, the Interfax news agency reported.
The lawmakers voted by 257 out of 397 present in the 450-member chamber to ask outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to pull out the Ukrainian contingent serving in the US-led coalition force in Iraq.

The demand mirrors opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s campaign position on the war and demonstrates the level of support and courage the Orange Movement has gained in the assembly. As a vote of no-confidence for Kuchma, it’s pretty convincing — roughly a 5:3 ratio of those members in attendance and a 55% majority overall. It gives more evidence that the credibility of the Kuchma government has crumbled.
The vote may cause the ardor for a Yushchenko victory in the political crisis to dim in the White House a bit; it certainly provides an opportunity for Vladimir Putin to smirk an “I told you so” to George Bush. However, as I wrote before, Bush has remained steadfast in his policy of supporting democracy, wherever that road leads. The Ukrainians give the Iraq situation a doubly ironic twist, though, in that they stuck with the effort to democratize Iraq as long as democracy remained an illusion for the Ukrainians. The moment that they’ve grasped democracy in their hands and have a good chance of retaining it, they vote to abandon Iraq to terrorists and unreconstructed Saddam loyalists.
Crazy world.

Palestinian Leadership Opposes Barghouti

In a sign that the Palestinians may finally be getting serious about making peace and establishing a stable state in the West Bank, leading Palestinians spoke out against the announced candidacy of Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist mastermind currently serving multiple life sentences in Israel. The New York Times reports in tomorrow’s edition that influential Palestinians openly rejected Barghouti’s entry into the presidential election:

Senior Palestinian figures in the main political group, Fatah, closed ranks on Thursday against the on-again off-again presidential candidacy of the popular Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.
The old guard was joined by some prominent younger Fatah militants of Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, who once saw Mr. Barghouti, 45, as their leader, but now criticize him for putting himself above Palestinian unity.

Outspoken opposition from Israel, including a refusal to release Barghouti and to use him as a negotiating partner, surprises no one. More surprising was the rejection by Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. But the reactions of leading Palestinians have proven most shocking, as they reject a chance to put Israel in a highly defensive position by forcing Barghouti on them. Instead, they’ve reacted almost angrily at Barghouti’s late candidacy and intent on pushing him to withdraw:

Senior Palestinians said there would be new efforts to persuade Mr. Barghouti to withdraw his candidacy. Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister, said, “He might later on decide to withdraw in favor of the Fatah candidate, Mahmoud Abbas, to whom he has already pledged his support and total cooperation.”
Hatem Abdel Kader, a Palestinian legislator who is close to Mr. Barghouti, said, “We will do all we can in coming days to convince Marwan to remove his candidacy to avoid a split in Fatah.”
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, who ran Mr. Arafat’s cabinet and is a member of the Fatah central committee, said Mr. Barghouti would have to quit Fatah if he ran as an independent.

Clearly Mahmoud Abbas gets the support for his ability to open doors with Israel, even with the hated Ariel Sharon. This may well vindicate Sharon’s insistence on a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Even if internal Israeli politics derail or delay the pullout, Sharon’s signal made it clear that he and Israel are ready to deal with the right Palestinian leadership to finally resolve the four-decade standoff. It also vindicates the Bush Administration’s refusal to meet with Yasser Arafat, as his own organization after his death appears to be pressing for a complete reversal of Arafat’s strategy, showing that Arafat himself had been the chief obstacle to a peace agreement.
Unfortunately, if Fatah cannot convince Barghouti to withdraw, the Palestinian electorate may not share the Fatah ambition to cut a deal with Israel as quickly as possible. Barghouti enjoys tremendous popularity as a living martyr for the cause, while Abbas did little to affect the suffering of Palestinians during his short tenure as prime minister. With Fatah’s endorsement and the Hamas boycott, Abbas may squeak it out — but such a result would call any mandate for negotiations into doubt. Abbas needs a landslide, and Barghouti would at the least rob him of that. Expect to see more explicit calls for Barghouti’s withdrawal over the next few weeks.

The Protocols Of The Soulless Of Groningen

Hugh Hewitt addresses the Groningen Protocol debate in his latest Weekly Standard on-line column, “Death By Committee”. Hugh has led what little media attention that Groningen Academic Hospital’s announcement of killing four babies has generated, and he marvels at the sharp outbreak of widespread apathy he sees:

Incredibly, the nation’s elite media has turned a collective blind eye to this story, though the Los Angeles Times did, on the day following the Drudge headline, find time to put on the paper’s front page, above the fold, the story that Salmon and Steelhead May Lose Protection, but not a column inch of ink for a radical leap past Kevorkian land into the regions of Mengele.
LAST WEEK I marveled at the casual manner with which the Target Corporation announced that the Salvation Army could no longer place its kettles and ring its bells outside the giant retailer’s 1,500+ stores. It was a callous and Scrooge-like act, one that I and thousands of others found sufficiently appalling as to oblige us not to shop at the store this season. I noted the irony of a retailer grown fat on Christmas gift sales tossing the charity most closely aligned with the public’s image of Christmas spirit.
How foolish to imagine that actions such as Target’s would offend greatly when protocol’s such as Groningen’s pass without comment before the eyes of editorialists and talking heads.

The reason that the Groningen Protocol fails to rouse much interest relates more to its banality than anything else. We have been killing unborn humans legally for over thirty years in the United States, sublimating any sense of value in their humanity for the expediency of casting off responsibility for them. One can argue that Roe v. Wade caused this, but to be honest, the US had moved inexorably to legalize abortion through legislation before the 1973 decision. If it were set aside today, Congress and most states would immediately ratify abortion, albeit with varying restrictions.
The lack of widespread horror following Groningen’s announcement betrays a world where human life only matters for its commercial value, not as a sacred or unique gift. Even the revelation that Groningen proposes to kill children it deems too inconvenient to live despite their parents’ wishes, up to age 12, fails to shock a world desensitized to humanity and wrapped up in its so-called secular “humanism”.
The more I consider the Groningen Protocol and the lack of any protest to it, the more pessimistic I become about the capacity for the world to recover its soul. A few days ago — in fact, the day before this story broke — I watched an excellent movie called Judgement At Nuremberg. An adaptation of a fictional play about the Nazi trials, it used the very real atrocities of forced sterilization of “undesirables” and the slaughter of those the Nazis deemed undesirable to underscore the banality of those who stood trial at the dock. Richard Widmark and Spencer Tracy portrayed Americans whose exposure to these atrocities forever changed them.
Nowadays, it’s just another story off the wire.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have not just reached a slippery slope — we have hit a greased chute, which is what depresses me more than anything else. Now that Groningen has commenced killing the undesirables and the world has answered with a shrug, we will now hear from the chorus of statists telling us that in an era of limited resources, we need to make these hard decisions for the benefit of the families involved and the greater good of society. That child who may never walk or talk will be such a burden on his family, they’ll say; the parents are too close to the situation to make an informed decision, so we’ll make it for them — for their own good, of course. And the time wasted on keeping him alive could be used to save other lives. We’ll all sound so reasonable while we march living human beings to their death, without their consent or desire, when inconvenience is their only crime.
In twenty years, most of Europe will have their own home-grown Groningers, and the ghouls here in America will scold us for not being as sophisticated as the Dutch, the French, and so on.
We’ve crossed the Rubicon, my friends. The only hope we have will be to make friends with the committee that decides our worth to society.

Giving Conservatives A Bad Name

An Alabama lawmaker apparently wants to confirm every stereotype available of conservatives, Christians, and the South by proposing a sweeping ban of books that contain gay characters. Rep. Gerald Allen wants such literary materials pulled from public libraries and universities that use public funds:

An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.
A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.” …
Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.
“I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them,” he said.

Allow me to weigh in with the proper conservative position, which is that the Alabama GOP ought to find Allen a properly padded room somewhere and hand him a copy of William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. (Hey, it’s linked on the right column of my blog.) It’s one thing to object when public schools use Heather Has Two Mommies as required reading for primary-school children, but to declare a ban on gay characters in all literature available to the public is insane. I’m shocked that an American lawmaker wouldn’t already know that.
Not only is Allen’s proposal unconstitutional and politically inept, it’s just plain mean-spirited and wrong. Conservatives and liberals should both condemn Allen and his initiative. (via Memeorandum)

Tenet Joins Fight Against 9/11 Intelligence Reform

As the debate grows on the 9/11 intelligence-reform bill and the voices of political correctness face increasing challenge, George Tenet added his own voice to the opposition. The Washington Post reports that Tenet objects to severing a national intelligence “czar” from the operatives who collect and analyze the data with an extra level of bureaucracy, a point I made at the time the commission released its report:

Former CIA director George J. Tenet yesterday criticized an intelligence restructuring bill’s plan to create a director of national intelligence, saying it would separate the new intelligence chief from direct control over the case officers and analysts who are overseas and “taking risks.” …
A senior administration official echoed that position privately yesterday, asking “who will brief Congress and the president” under the new proposal? “Since the CIA director would continue to supervise all-source intelligence analysis within the government,” said this official, who has long intelligence experience, the proposed director of national intelligence would be “a new layer” in the process.

When the 9/11 Commission delivered its report to Congress and the American people, a number of politicians — chiefly John Kerry — insisted that Congress and the President enact their recommendations in total and immediately. The media and the 9/11 families have pressured the government ever since to do so. However, blue-ribbon panels do not render infallible judgments, and in this case, the recommendations made appear much more likely to cause more problems than they could possibly resolve.
Taking Tenet’s point first, the new intelligence czar position which the commission arrogantly directed to be the primary advisor to the President winds up putting at least one more layer of bureaucracy between the President and the people doing the intelligence collection and analysis. Instead of restructuring the alphabet soup of agencies currently doing this work, the commission just slapped a layer of directors on top of the whole mess and put one person in charge of it all. For a Congress who expressed concern that George Bush did not get enough dissenting opinion, placing two more layers of filtering between the analysts and the PDB only makes this problem worse, not better.
This does not take a rocket scientist to figure out. As bureaucracies grow in either the private or public sector, the people who get farther removed from the ground work hear less and less of the truth. The solution for better analysis is never more management, but more and better analysts with increased access to the decision-makers. The private sector learned this twenty years ago and streamlined their bloated management structures to accommodate it. Unfortunately, the 9/11 Commission consisted of nothing but lifelong bureaucrats who see extended management structures as the solution for all problems.
As I wrote before, we should thank the 9/11 Commission for their hard work and especially for their excellent reconstruction of the events of that terrible day. We should not, however, implement their recommendations simply because they made them. We need to proceed very carefully before we do serious damage to our intelligence and response capabilities.

UN Lacks Authority For Comprehensive Iran Inspections Regime

In a blow to the entire concept of inspections regimes, UN diplomats admitted to Reuters that the UN lacks any authority to inspect areas not explicitly declared by Iran as nuclear sites. While nations collect intelligence detailing Iranian nuclear activities at new locations and the stripping of those facilities that have been declared by Iran, the UN can do little but ask Iran for permission to see for themselves:

Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog would like to visit a secret military site in Iran that an exile group said was a nuclear weapons site, but they lack the legal authority to go there, U.N. diplomats told Reuters. …
The New York Times reported Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes satellite photographs show that high explosives are being tested and that procurement records show equipment has been bought that can be used for making bomb-grade uranium, citing unnamed diplomats. The intelligence came from several sources, including nations that are members of the IAEA, the Times reported.
But the military sites the inspectors would like to inspect — the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran and Lavizan II in northeastern Tehran — are legally off limits to the IAEA, which only has the right to monitor civilian nuclear programs.
“The IAEA simply has no authority to go to sites that are not declared nuclear sites,” a diplomat close to the IAEA inspection process told Reuters. He said that the IAEA had not asked to inspect Lavizan II, although they would like to.

This demonstrates the problem with inspection regimes in general: they only work when confirming compliance by a nation which disarms willingly. Unless the UN implements an inspections regime in Lichtenstein or The Vatican, nations are too large for inspectors to confirm disarmament with any confidence under existing rules. Saddam played this shell game with the UN inspectors for years, and the UNSCOM teams had more latitude than the IAEA has with Iran. If anyone feels safer because the IAEA has the right to inspect only those facilities that the Iranian mullahs designated as nuclear research sites, raise your hand.
No one? No one?
Inspections work in Libya because Libya wants to show that they’ve disarmed, and for good reason. Moammar Gaddafi saw what happened when the Anglo-American coalition lost patience with Saddam and decided to conduct final inspections in force. The Western nations, prior to that, had spent the better part of two decades trying to convince Gaddafi to renounce terrorism and drop development of WMD, but he only took it seriously when he saw the consequences of further defiance: getting pulled out of a spider hole is not Gaddafi’s retirement plan.
If the West wants to convince the Iranians to comply with the nonproliferation treaty, then the EU has to step aside and allow the process to move quickly through the rest of the nonproductive steps — like the UNSC — so that the threat of action can be made clear to the mullahcracy. Just as in Iraq, the delay only allows Iran to build its defenses and stockpile its weapons. Given the US and Israeli viewpoint that Iran cannot be allowed to go nuclear, allowing Iran to stall the West only makes war more likely, not less.

Cannabis Use Leads To Higher Risk Of Psychosis

The Guardian (UK) reports that a new study of habitual marijuana users run a higher risk for psychosis, which in younger smokers could result in a 25% increase in the onset of mental illness:

Some young people who smoke cannabis are at real risk of developing psychotic mental illness, according to a major study announced yesterday.
The new survey of 2,500 young people aged 14 to 24 will be discussed at the start of an international conference today on cannabis and mental health convened by the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
It shows that regular cannabis smoking increased the risk of developing psychosis by 6% over four years.
But there was a substantially greater impact on young people who had already been identified by psychiatrists as having the potential to become psychotic. Regular cannabis smoking raised their risk of developing psychotic mental illness by 25%.

This new study will have an impact on the debate raised by the challenge to California’s medicinal-marijuana use law at the Supreme Court, although it has no impact on the legal issues at play there. This dispels the prevailing notion of marijuana as a benign intoxicant. Although the study doesn’t put it in the same category as heroin or crystal methamphetamine, any drug having a 6% side effect of psychosis would get pulled from the market, let alone a 25% increased risk with younger users.
Of course, the researchers who performed this study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands claim that these significant side effects argue for marijuana’s legalization, so they can then warn people not to use it:

One of the authors of the study, carried out by researchers from the Netherlands, said that although cannabis triggered psychosis in a minority of people, this was a good reason to legalise it, not ban it, so that government can promote advice and information, as it does on alcohol.
Jim van Os, a professor in the department of psychiatry and neuropsychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where cannabis is legal, said a ban would be hard. “It is going to be very difficult to tell the whole Dutch population to stop using cannabis because it is bad and you will develop psychotic illness. But perhaps it is better to say if you have a family history or mental instability you are perhaps particularly at risk of negative consequences of cannabis use.

These days, in the Netherlands at least, if you have a family history of mental instability, chronic cannabis use is the least of your worries. You’d be lucky to survive childbirth if you’re unfortunate enough to be born at the Groningen Academic Hospital. Beyond that silliness, an argument for legalizing a drug precisely because it has significant risk to cause psychosis merely to educate people about its dangers sounds like the worst kind of circular thinking. Why wouldn’t the Netherlands be able to educate its citizens about marijuana’s dangers apart from its legalization? And if it requires legalization to spread the truth about its side effects, why not just legalize heroin and crystal meth as well?
Like so much of the rhetoric on both sides of the marijuana debate, this appears to be a lot of smoke designed to hide the facts. The Maastricht study reveals some significant dangers to marijuana users, if the methodology holds up. The focus should remain on the science instead of the psychobabble used by reefer apologists.