It's that time of the year again. Time to talk about drugs and the war on them because some stoners declared a holiday or something.
A recent article in Harper's Magazine includes the following gem that sums up the modern Drug War's origins. The journalist interviewed John Ehrlichman, one of the Watergate co-conspirators:
At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. "You want to know what this was really all about?" he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
[Oh yes, it continues...]
The War on Drugs has persisted nearly unabated for decades, but signs of change can be seen. The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the "World Drug Problem", called by Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala, began yesterday and ends tomorrow. On the agenda this time around? The legalization of drugs, 18 years after a previous summit declared its goal of ridding the world of illicit drugs. The special session's April 19th start date coincides with "Bicycle Day", the anniversary of Albert Hoffman's first LSD trip. One group, the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn, will be leading a bike ride ending at the United Nations building in New York to promote the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and demonstrate that drug legalization isn't just about majority-approved cannabis.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a global overhaul of drug policies, including a ban on the death penalty for drug offenses and focus on rehabilitation rather than imprisonment. Santos proposes that nations should be more free to reform their drug laws, rather than being beholden to international conventions (such as the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971). He has also announced that following nearly four years of peace negotiations, his government will collaborate with Farc rebels to eradicate coca production within Colombia. President Santos will speak at the UN General Assembly Special Session today regarding his proposals.
Other Latin American leaders such as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are pushing for decriminalization and legalization. President Nieto says that Mexico will soon increase the amount of cannabis citizens are allowed to possess, and legalize medical cannabis. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he wants nations to focus on demand reduction and not just supply reduction. A commission set up by the Lancet medical journal and Johns Hopkins University published a report (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00619-X) that found that decriminalization in Portugal and the Czech Republic has led to significant financial savings, health benefits, less incarceration, and has not significantly increased drug use. On the other hand, nations such as Indonesia and China are against eliminating the death penalty as well as any legalization of narcotics. An outcome document adopted by member states on Tuesday included no specific criticism of the death penalty. Also, UN security guards have reportedly been ordered to confiscate copies of an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon supporting drug reforms signed by over a dozen former heads of state, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, former UN officials, celebrities, business leaders, etc.
Throughout the past year, we have seen extensive reporting of a "heroin epidemic" in the northeastern United States. Deaths due to heroin overdose are today being blamed for a 0.1 year decline in life expectancy among white Americans in 2014. The overdose (of any drug) rate among white adults aged 25-34 is five times the 1999 rate, and the same rate among white adults aged 35-44 tripled since 1999. Advocacy by groups and individuals, particularly the parents of overdose victims, has helped move public sentiment towards supporting drug treatment rather than incarceration. There is greater bipartisan support for allowing the wide distribution of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, and for introducing previously unthinkable public safety measures such as government-run needle exchanges to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.
One measure of success in "post-war" Afghanistan has been the fate of the opium poppy crop, used to produce heroin. In 2014, the poppy plant was Afghanistan's biggest export, valued at $2.8 billion, 13% of the country's GDP. The Taliban have since surged into Afghanistan's southern provinces in order to take control of the growth and export of poppies. 3,000 government soldiers and policemen have died in the past 11 months in Helmand province alone, which accounts for over 60% of the world's heroin supply.
The estimated purity of illicit heroin has crept up in recent years as the price has fallen. However, while heroin might be cheap and plentiful, the heroin epidemic has been spurned on by the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. Opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, and last month the Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines that recommend reducing the use of opioid painkillers. Effective bribes in the form of "speaking fees" given to doctors have exacerbated the problem. Additionally, drug companies have been fined over misleading claims made about their opioid products, such as downplaying of addiction potential.
In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Agency is once again considering whether to reschedule cannabis (a decision will be made by July). Petitions to reschedule the drug have been denied over the years, but the supposed Schedule I criteria, such as "The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," look increasingly strained now that nearly half the nation has legalized medical or recreational cannabis. In an all-too-common example of uncritical irony, an LA Times editorial on the subject notes that Schedule I "[lumps] cannabis in with heroin and LSD," as if LSD wasn't one of the safest recreational drugs and has no medical uses.
Investigating potential medical uses is needlessly difficult and expensive when a drug is listed as a controlled substance. This remains true even for the increasingly accepted drug cannabis, which has led 27 U.S. senators and congressmen to sign a letter to President Obama this week recommending a "fair" review of the Schedule I status of cannabis, as well as the end of the DEA/NIDA monopoly on cannabis supplied for medical research. Research into other controlled substances is slowly being conducted after decades of neglect. A new study (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1518377113) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the effects of LSD as recorded in the brain scans of 20 human subjects. One of the study's authors, the neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, was dismissed from the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) for his analysis (NCBI) showing that alcohol is far more dangerous in terms of both physical and social harms than cannabis, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or ecstacy. The ACMD is under the purview of the Home Office, led by the tyrannical Theresa May.
Other groups are also pushing the research boundaries. For example, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is sponsoring research into the use of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The EmmaSofia organization in Norway successfully crowdfunded nearly $40,000 to promote and manufacture MDMA and psilocybin. The couple behind EmmaSofia, Pal-Orjan Johansen and Teri Krebs, have published studies showing no link between common psychedelics like LSD and an increase in psychosis or suicide (DOI: 10.1177/0269881114568039), as well as investigating the use of LSD to treat alcoholism (DOI: 10.1177/0269881112439253) .
On the campaign trail, a few presidential candidates linger. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders appears to have the strongest pro-cannabis policy positions, supporting descheduling, decriminalization, legalization of medical cannabis, and not obstructing states from legalizing recreational cannabis. Hillary Clinton holds similar positions, but has appeared more cautious about both medical and recreational legalization. Republican candidate Donald Trump has supported medical cannabis, but criticized "trouble" in Colorado which legalized recreational cannabis. Ted Cruz's position on cannabis has evolved from criticizing Obama for allowing Colorado and Washington to legalize it, to supporting states as "laboratories of democracy" while opposing legalization personally. John Kasich appears to broadly oppose legalization, but is also nowhere near to winning the nomination unless his party's establishment chooses to anoint him after Trump fails on the first convention ballot.
Oregon's 25% sales tax on cannabis purchases has resulted in $3.48 million in revenue for the month of January, outpacing the revenue projected for the entire year. However, Oregon's Department of Revenue spent around that amount to refurbish a building and hire employees and security to collect revenue from recreational cannabis businesses, much of it in the form of paper money. The uncertainty involved with banking anywhere in the nation means that cannabis dealers often pay their taxes with large bags of cash. This also means that unless these businesses lie about the nature of their revenue or find a bank willing to risk a federal crackdown, the cannabis businesses are prime targets for thieves.
Colorado's recreational cannabis law has remained intact, despite efforts by Nebraska and Oklahoma to have a case against Colorado heard by the Supreme Court. Colorado's Department of Public Safety has measured an increase in emergency room visits "possibly" related to cannabis from 739 to 956 per 100,000. The authors of the mandated report say that a decrease in stigma may lead to better reporting of cannabis-related ER visits.
Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis on Sunday. On the state ballot initiative front, the only cannabis-related measure confirmed to be on a November 8th ballot is the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize and tax recreational cannabis and allocate the revenue to education. The Massachusetts Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Initiative may require additional signatures if the legislature does not approve the initiative by May 3rd. Florida will see the re-introduction of a medical ballot initiative, which failed in 2014 with 57% support. Other ballot initiatives in states like California and Arkansas may still have months to submit the signatures required to appear on the ballot this year. In a small reversal, Washington state voters may get to decide whether to restrict production and sales of cannabis in certain residential neighborhoods. Last year, Ohio voters rejected a legalization amendment that would have created a cultivation oligopoly.
Finally, I leave you with what's truly important: Loafy, chillin' after curing his munchies (image courtesy of Gravis).
🍄 🌵 Here's last year's article. 💉 💊
...if our local "small government, personal accountability" folks (KHallow, JMorris, Runaway1956, TheFlightyBuzzard) have anything to say about this and what :) After all, it's government overreach, buuuuuut it only affects those goddamn satan-worshipping liberal atheist Commie pinko hippies and the nig...er...colo...Negr--dammit all to politically-correct hell, BLACK FOLKS, so I'm sure there's a conflict here!
I think most of the users you mention support da dergs. There are many libertarians around here but few that really want to regulate morality.
One thing to note is that the states are legalizing cannabis despite a paralyzed Congress that would rather put off the issue for decades, even with high public support. The federal government can swoop in and confiscate cannabis and cash, and that fact has made banking difficult for these businesses. Those potrepreneurs are understandably invested in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Putting myself in some hypothetical user's shoes, if you were worried about minorities rioting or something, I'm not sure you would oppose legalization of cannabis, which has the effect of putting most people deep into their couch cushions. The secret is out, cannabis doesn't turn people into reefer madness berserkers, unlike alcohol which is clearly linked to increases in violence. Of course, there is still a lot of disinformation published about LSD and other drugs.
The best solution to these problems is to reform the Scheduling system so that it doesn't look like a complete joke, and then replace incarceration with containment/treatment (oh, you've been poisoned!). Schedule 1 is a travesty that both lies about a lack of medical uses for certain compounds, and then makes it extremely difficult for researchers to investigate the compounds. There is a monopoly involved, and there is probably more to be said about the pharmaceutical industry preventing changes to the system (think: Marinol, or any expensive drug that could potentially compete with cannabis for a painkiller/antiseizure effect, etc.). Furthermore, recreational use needs to be recognized as legitimate. Alcohol has long been grandfathered in (Prohibition aside) as a drug that is fairly dangerous but demanded by the public. It avoids the scheduling system despite it probably meeting the requirements for say, Schedule III for example. It's the ambiguous nature of "high potential for abuse" that punishes drugs like LSD and mushrooms that are far safer than heroin, alcohol, or even cannabis [unimaas.nl]. And even after reform of the Controlled Substances Act, we don't want to punish consumers or even small-time producers. We should focus on the tax collection angle.
Funny you mention that, in the middle paragraph, since "Ohez noes t3h darkies gun' go wil' an rape dem sum white wimminz on de marry-huwanna!" was PRECISELY the sentiment that got the stuff shitlisted. That, and possibly paper companies' objection to hemp paper and textile companies' objection to hemp clothing.
I personally am within swearing distance of a straightedge lifestyle, the only exception being fewer drinks a year than fingers on on hand, but from a purely harm-based perspective, weed is a hell of a lot safer than any other illegal substance and a lot of legal ones too. It's time we dropped this idiot charade, as you've said.
Azuma - it appears that you know little about how and why Mary J was made illegal. You appear to know what the public knows, which is mostly false. Please note the use of the word "appear" in both of the preceding sentences - you may well know better, but I can't see that from your post.
There were multiple industries involved in the prohibition of cannabis, or, rather, hemp.
DuPont had just come out with the mass production of nylon. DuPont wanted to sell nylon cordage to the Navy, but the Navy was accustomed to using hemp. Sails, hawsers, rope, small stuff, even uniforms - hemp was the best stuff in the world, so DuPont had little chance of selling the Navy on nylon - UNLESS they went to congress, and had hemp outlawed.
At the same time - King Cotton enjoyed a lot of influence in Washington. Hemp fiber clothes were generally on par with cotton, or a little less, for price, but hemp's durability is approximately 7 times greater than cotton. King Cotton wanted farmers to stop growing hemp, and making their own clothes from that hemp, so that the King could sell those farmers trashy, disposable cotton crap.
The pharmaceutical industry was already very much aware of most of the medicinal uses for hemp/cannabis. In those days, there were still a lot of snake oil salesmen, who were more than happy to mix a little alcohol, cocaine, and hemp, and market the stuff as a cure for anything the customer complained about. Snake oil was snake oil, there's no getting around that - but each of those ingredients had known, legitimate uses. Bayer couldn't sell a lot of aspirins, if everyone in the country knew that a couple grains of cocaine, or a hemp tea could cure that headache. We need go no deeper into the legitimate uses of "illicit drugs" than the common headache to see that powerful industry chiefs had their reasons for outlawing hemp.
The prison industry, even then, was more than prepared to incarcerate a sizeable portion of our population, for no other reason than PROFIT. There is no "Dept of Justice" or "Beareau of Corrections" in most places. This was the day of chain gangs, and state farms. Powerful people on the local, state, and national level were PROFITING by incarcerating less powerful people. Then, as now, people were imprisoned for petty bullshit at least as often as other people were imprisoned for serious crime. In another discussion, someone mockingly asked how profit was made off of state prisoners. Just think about chain gangs and state farms - SOMEONE reaps the profit for cleaing the highways, clearing land, and growing marketable merchandise.
There, you can see, were four industries, each of them powerful in their own right, all opposed to the production of cannabis, because they could PROFIT in the absence of cannabis/hemp.
No one in Washington thought for a moment that "Reefer Madness" was for real. That stupid shit was for public consumption, to be aired in theaters and on television for the mindless masses. Pure propaganda, nothing more, and nothing less.
Today, 74 years later, some people in Washington actually believe the propaganda, I'm sure. Others have just grown accustomed to the status quo, and/or any profits they may reap from the "War on Drugs". Whether they believe the propaganda, or not, they don't want to rock the boat. It's easier to do nothing, than to do something that might endanger their re-election campaigns.
I just want you to look at the list of industries I've given you, and try to imagine how many TRILLIONS of dollars worth of business they have reaped over the past 70+ years, by outlawing cannabis.
None of us libertarians or conservatives are the enemy here. The enemy are the powerful, shadowy figures who run Washington behind the scenes.
You didn't see where I mentioned paper and textile companies? I didn't know about DuPont, though; fuckin' figures they're involved in this. Evil sonsabitches.
I have to, unfortunately, disagree with your last line: what passes for "conservative" and "libertarian" these days *is* the problem. The words have been utterly hijacked by the very kind of people you're talking about, and at least, by my estimate, 90-95% of people who use them to describe themselves have no idea of their original meanings or their histories.
You should stop calling yourself a conservative; the word does not describe you any longer. I'm not sure what the right word is, when even "libertarian" has lost its meaning. Everything the greedheads touch turns to shit, often self-parodying, toxic caricatures of itself.
Well, true to accepted tradition, I'm here to comment w/out RFA or most of the comments. I agree with your assessment, Takyon, but I'd add a word of caution re: LSD. Although the potential for "physically addicting" abuse is small, I can tell you anecdotally (I come from Kesey country) that I've run into many people that have crossed a threshold due to LSD and they don't come back. Scattershot thought becomes their norm. The term "acid casualty" became parlance for a reason and it's Very Sad to see. While I have a soft spot for the general values vocalized by Leary, etc. IMO he eventually became much less effective and his influence as a thinker/political force suffered tremendously. Not b/c of reputation, but because of neurological diminishment.
I encourage you to skim the article at least. It's information dense and there are pretty clear delineations between sections.
As for the "acid casualties", you have to wonder what else they're on. Some deaths attributed to niche drugs are really the result of throwing alcohol in the mix. LSD itself is a synthetic drug with dozens of other known synthetic analogues. Who can really say which one is the safest when so little research has been done? Leary himself probably ingested at least 7 recreational drugs (I don't have a list).
Incidentally, I had this link open (I probably have 50 news articles open right now, including the daily news and some waste left over from writing this).
Seeing Opportunity in Psychedelic Drugs [theatlantic.com]
I glanced at it, and noticed the pull quote: "This study assures us that there were not widespread 'acid casualties' in the 1960s.”
So I wonder, who is wrong here? Is there something about "scattershot" thinking that can't be easily quantified by studies of safety? IQ tests aren't perfect. Psychosis tests do look at speech patterns. Should a person be expected to behave in the same way after years of forcibly opening their mind? Do people self-report having trouble thinking in the way they intend to after sustained periods of LSD use?
Hi tak,I think you're right on re: quatification on studies with LSD. There aren't any, really.Maybe we're having a disjunction here regarding the definition of "acid casualty?"What I mean by acid casualty is not death...Deaths are probably near zero. Of course you know the government reports can't be believed, in the same way they say opium poppies come from the east for their big busts, or MDMA deaths are a common, etc.i think what you are suggesting here is that LSD use can have some great spiritual/beneficial/attitude altering effects. This is undeniably true IMO, and I would suggest that most people, under the right circumstances and at the right time, should take LSD. To be blunt and generalizing, the old saying "put everyone on LSD and make them listen to the Grateful Dead" and we wouldn't have war anymore has more that a grain of truth. Simplistic, yes, but ask those who've gone through it.It's sort of a similar thing with Marijuana. See George Carlin for a great routine.Aside from the arguments that I gather are in this article (which again, I haven't read), my personal opinion is that the reason MJ, shrooms, and LSD are so frowned upon is that they expose the user to concepts that are at odds with selfishness, materialism, and a desire to work to buy the next thing. In other words, these psychoactive drugs foster an experience whereby the user achieves a level of understanding that is otherwise unavailable in our society, and in fact it threatens our economic and social structures.But let me get back to my warning re:LSD. Repeated use, IMO, irreversibly leads to serious cognitive handicaps. And if you have a family history of mental illness, a trip or two is enough to put you over the edge, unfortunately.
Should a person be expected to behave in the same way after years of forcibly opening their mind? Do people self-report having trouble thinking in the way they intend to after sustained periods of LSD use?
Can a person discern between the thinking troubles cause by LSD and the ones caused by the sleep apnoea [wikipedia.org] he developed just because he's getting old?
Ok. Colo, I modded you troll because at first glance it seems absurd. But since you're a frequent beneficial contributor here, I want to ask you to say some more..
Waking up every morning feeling more tired that you when you went to sleep, takes about one hour to get connected to the reality.Highish blood pressure, tinnitus - having coffee in the morning just makes the matter worse.Short term memory becomes fuzzy... where the hell did I left my keys?
You'll get there, you only need a bit of patience.
btw, it's c0lo
I believe the question boils down to is it the acid or is it something else and the acid provides a convenient (but wrong) explanation. If those people had never done acid but had the same scattershot thinking, you might say it was excess drinking, too much coffee, or whatever comes to hand.
It could even be that the same traits that lead to the cognitive decline lead to using so much acid. I have seen people you would swear must use every recreational drug known to man daily based on their thinking, and it turns out they never did drugs.
ISTM, people who engage in life-threatening activities or who purposely take their own lives AND are using drugs have a mental condition and are self-medicating.
In this context, I point to that lying piece of shit, Art Linkletter.That high-profile asshole kept repeating that LSD killed his daughter.Even after he had the autopsy results, he continued to bloviate with his bullshit until his death.
a toxicology test later determined that Diane Linkletter had no drugs in her system the day she died. [wikipedia.org]
a toxicology test later determined that Diane Linkletter had no drugs in her system the day she died. [wikipedia.org]
-- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]
Re: your ISTM (yep, hadda look it up) I think your first 1/2 statement assumes that one *knows* that one is engaged in a life-threatening activity. LSD is not life-threatening per-se. Keep in mind the social "pressure" (for lack of a better word) and the minimizing "knowledge" that maybe some people have had a bad trip, but no big deal.
Re: people who take their own lives-- I don't think that subject has a real link to our discussion.
Re: Linkletter, and daughter-- I don't know of the circumstances, but ISTM that you're pointing out a situation where dad had to find an external reason for daughters death.
You're certainly right.The problem is there's been little research at all.Besides the anecdotal evidence that I mentioned above, I'll also point out that a drug will go out of favor once there's a general consensus that it's no longer worth it (or out of fashion, sometimes), in some sense. (but do a google search for a Harper's article which points to a fairly recent lab bust in america that cut off the source of 99% of the acid for a contrary reason.)What I observed over the course of 20 yrs in Kesey country was a social disfavor for acid because people had seen what it had done to overexposed users in the community. Now, whether those were the people who were predisposed to excess wasn't really the concern. The concern was their handicap, and because of the sheer number of them (anecdotally..) the result was social dissapproval.
FWIW, I have sleep apnea. I didn't realize that my thought processes had gotten all foggy and uncertain until after I was treated for it. Now I sleep with a CPAP machine, and go into a panic if it doesn't work for some reason.
I do not know what features of thought you attribute to LSD, but fogginess and lack of ability to concentrate is reasonable for sleep apnea. OTOH, it's more closely connected to weight than to age. When I'm able to drive my weight low enough, I stop needing the CPAP machine. Unfortunately, I've been unable to coerce myself into STAYING at a low enough weight. And perhaps the weight that's "low enough" decreases as I get older (and the muscles get weaker).
That said, anecdote is not the singular of data, and this is purely based on personal experience. Butsleep apnea as the cause may not be an unreasonable suggestion.
hi there, HiThere,
It's interesting that you brought sleep apnea into this conversation. I can tell you what I've seen re: features of thought w/ too much LSD. Lack of ability to concentrate is the BIG one. And if you read personal accounts or "aside" comments of people other than proponents, you'd find they say that besides concentration, the most difficult thing to do is "to put themselves back together again." Jerry Garcia himself mentioned it took him six months at a certain point... So besides lack of concentration, the big thing is what psychiatrists call "de-personalization."
The only other thing I can say in response is that lack of sleep can cause all sorts of cognitive problems. We're only beginning to understand why. Sleep is a mystery unexplained by modern science. But we do know a little about lack of sleep: Confusion, hallucinations, appetite irregularities, moodiness.
Some docs feel very strongly that sleep apnea is one of the major undiagnosed problems with us, currently.
Well, I didn't bring sleep apnea into the thread, I was responding to someone else. But it sure can wreck your thought processes, without you being aware of it.
Putting myself in some hypothetical user's shoes, if you were worried about minorities rioting or something, I'm not sure you would oppose legalization of cannabis, which has the effect of putting most people deep into their couch cushions.
pssst, I'll let you in on a little secret- you've overlooked how the *thinking* that people are doing while on their couches under the influence of cannabis leads, perhaps not to violent riots, but to no end of creative artistic outside the box thinking. The idea of not withholding rights and justice from people based on skin color and gender used to be 'outside of the box thinking'. But go ahead, and forget the secret, and consider us just a bunch of lazy stoners instead of the artists at the helm of the cultural ship of state. Good Luck with that. Peace...
I think you've overlooked the word "most". Most people out there aren't doing anything worthwhile, no matter what they're on.
Uhhhh - hang on a second. I've read your post, and re-read it a couple times now. You're suggesting that human rights activists are all stoned on something? That non-stoners are racists and bigots? That's really far out there, you know. In effect, you're claiming that racists and bigots are people who are in their right minds, and everyone who has ever opposed racism and bigotry are just dope heads.
If you care to elaborate, I'll be happy to read more.