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posted by takyon on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the longer-than-81-blunt-papers dept.

takyon writes:

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. 💉 💊

 
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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @02:13AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @02:13AM (#334998)

    Merry fucking Christmas.

    Wait, wtf? Did you get sold some bad weed, AC? Just chill out, man. It happens to everybody. Come on over to my place, AC, meet the fellas. I've got some purple haze I bought--legally, at this place with a huge selection just north of Denver--I've been holding on to just for today, my friend! How'd I get it three states away without being caught? That's my little secret, but I bet those full blown bears that had 20 cars must've been all in all pulled over--and I counted a grand total of 3 people--3 separate cars, one to a car each, man!--who weren't fucking black, I'll bet they'd fucking--I don't care what they fucking do! I had to buy ¼ oz each day for four days, they even had me sign this thing each fucking time! But I just sail through all these profiling bastards with a whole fucking ounce of pure, American grown, organic purple haze.

    Eh, I should stop talking to myself. It's not anything like that, dear reader. I can assure you I have no way to obtain even bad weed, much less purple haze or whatever is "good weed." I don't fucking know. Nobody I talk to on the internet, thousands of miles away, who are all high as kites right now, even knows what fucking cultivar they're smoking. They know the guy who knows the guy who knows the guy, and they assure me that the guy sometimes has very high quality shit but not always. Some of these guys who know other guys who know other guys aren't even thugs; instead they're discreet, honest, never try to "push" anything professionals. Sometimes one of the guys who knows the guy doesn't even smoke weed or do any drugs, not even Tylenol.

    As fate would have it, I happened to check the results of the New York primary. Granted, I'd been drinking, but I was so distraught by what I saw I either didn't take one of my meds, took a double dose of one of my meds, or something. Maybe took one of the roommate's meds while sleepwalking. For whatever reason, I've been a little "off" today, bouncing between depressive and manic states, mostly manic completely at random. This has never happened to me before. My balance has also been subtly affected.

    So, I assure you, I am not high, or at least if I am experiencing a neurochemical state that might constitute as an "altered state of mind" (which may be adequate, I've only experienced mania before in utterly random and totally isolated incidents, and even then I'm not sure I can even accurately call it mania--more like being uninhibited like being drunk while being completely sober and possessing the judgement yet that I wouldn't worry about telling somebody "hold my tea for me and watch this!") that it is not a consequence of using cannabis.

    I might accept a transcendental explanation that, because of my desire to obtain the right cultivar of cannabis flower that might do for me what HU-210 did for me back before the DEA caught on to that chemical... I lost weight effortlessly... I felt motivated to do things to improve myself, and I did them, because I got high... ran at least 1 mile per day, often more... strength training 3 days per week, nothing macho, just to stay healthy and to be able to lift the occasional 50 lbs object and carry it 100 ft... I worked with my credit union, and they got me a debt consolidation loan at an interest rate I was flabbergasted to learn even existed for a nobody consumer and I hadn't even done a slight bit of haggling or negotiation to get it... sometimes it's like some people report of anti-depressants: you haven't started doing anything differently that you're aware of, but suddenly it's other people who seem to change their opinions of you, as though the anti-depressant was secretly emitting mind control waves making everyone around you, even strangers, favor you.

    Some of you read my comments and I'm sure go "did that person forget to log in today?" I didn't forget to log in. My sanity has slipped further and further away from me as I realize how truly financially fucked I am, how truly fucking futile and fucking hopeless it is to even contemplate moving to Colorado in under 5 years, fully realizing that in 5 years, some other personal disaster will fucking happen and I'll be fucking stuck in this fucking meaningless piece of fucking shit dead fucking end job for 3 fucking more years, for 4 fucking more years, for 5 fucking more years, for fucking ever fucking years. Not unless I'm OK with letting somebody else go completely homeless with me. The logical thing to do is to keep fucking showing up for my fucking meaningless fucking job that doesn't fucking pay me enough to begin to save in a fucking meaningful way until I lose my fucking mind, in a very real and very fucking clinical sense.

    Sometimes, the cisgendered hunnies fuck you in ways you'll never know, behind your back, when mysterious, inexplicable unlikely coincidences happen. You know that they know that you know that they fucked you over because you're not a good little sex object for them. What I know is that I would rather attempt self-surgery and give myself fucking orchi and staple those fucking treacherous, useless fucking things that used to be ovaries before the fucking jews did whatever they fucking did to me in the womb to give me the body of a boy just to fucking see what would fucking happen, well jews, i hope you have your answer. this fucking happens. i would rather staple those fucking abominations to one of your fucking cisgendered hunnies' unmutilatable fucking pussies than fucking let it produce dihydrotestosterone ever. fucking. again. you fucking jews should have left my (male) genitals intact, fuckfaces! You fucking mutate me in utero, then you fucking mutilate my genitals, and guess what? you fucking contaminated your fucking experiment in what would happen if you fucking took somebody who fucking /deserved/ to be cisfemale just as i'm sure i'll one day take a genetic test that will show i don't have a fucking y chromosome in my fucking body at fucking all you fucking jews and it'll fucking prove what you jews did to me.

    But sometimes, the cisgendered hunnies fuck you in a big way. Alimony, child support: those are the classic methods. As cisfemales make greater strides towards an Animal Farm-like kind of equality, where some genders are just fucking created more fucking equal than other genders... *clears throat* greater strides towards an Animal Farm-like kind of equality, where some genders are more equal than other genders, they can new ways to fuck their perceived enemies over. I don't know what I ever did to become an enemy of the cisgendered hunnies. At best, I pissed off an Illuminati Nazi Jew (laugh a bit, it's a joke, son) by showing that I just am a woman, no matter what body horror you subject me to. In this case, in classic capitalist fashion, I did not have perfect information about the market. I experienced something that constituted a medical emergency in my mind, at least something concerning enough to me that I asked my good friend to drive me to the emergency room, and she obliged. When I tried and failed, due to aphasia-like symptoms that were quickly setting in, not to mention my inability to even write my own name longhand, they rushed me into... into... "care." Not intensive care, nothing like that. But they probably did exactly the right thing. They stuck a saline IV in me quicker than I could say "Geronimo!" (Why do we invoke that warrior when we're about to go over a cliff anyway? I never understood that, but then again, damn it Jim, I'm an armchair sociologist and gender studies postdoc of the school of hard knocks, not an armchair historian!)

    At any rate, after 5 days of intensive laying in bed while my body adsorbed a solution of salt and water that is mixed to match normal blood sodium levels, my blood sodium level began to approach normal. That was the only thing wrong with me. My blood sodium level was a tad low. I told you, I'm going to fucking live until I'm 100 no matter how many bad habits I have! But the cisgendered hunnies--I should have never trusted them--they assured me my insurance would pay for the whole stay UNLESS i fucking checked myself out before the doc said it was ok.

    Wow, what a fucking idiot you are, AC. Really? Really? Seriously? Really? Did you fucking fall for that. You fucking knew better, AC! You fucking knew that you deductible had gone up and up and up and up and fucking up THANKS OBAMA! Your insurance wasn't going to cover jack shit, and now you know, AC!

    But no, I haven't had any fucking weed today. <sarcasm>mermermer "anybody who wants it can already get it" mermermer</sarcasm> NO THEY FUCKING CAN'T YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE DIE IN A FUCKING FIRE! If you want some fucking proof I'm not high, I fucking remember to not only use my nice fucking blinkers in traffic today (always top up your blinker fluid, folks!) but to fucking place my sarcasm tags fucking properly there.

    THANKS OBAMA! THANKS NIGGER I DIDN'T VOTE FOR TWICE! AND FUCK YOUR PASTY WHITIE CRACKER ASS, ROBOROMNEY, FOR COMING UP WITH THAT FUCKING IDEA. No, nevermind, nobody fuck Roboromney's ass. The idea is too disgusting. There'd probably be santorum coming out of it when you're done! Yuck! Not me! I do not volunteer!

    I forget where the hell I was going with this.

    I should probably delete 90% of what I just vomited into this buffer. 99%. Delete the 99%! HEIL CLINTON! er, oops ^.^ HEIL CLINTON! HEIL FÜHRERIN!

    Yep, my sanity has slipped. That little green sanity gauge next to the red health gauge and blue magick gauge on my avatar's upper left is currently at 0. That's right, folks. If I take any more sanity damage, at this point, I take health damage. That's the rules of the game. And it's a game the likes of which I've never played before or since. Eternal Darkness by unlikely studio Silicon Knights. Er... crap... I knew I shouldn't have touched that necronomicon. Eh, c'est la vie. I'll just cut a deal with Xena while she's having a flashback to her necromancer phase when she was training under Alte, head down to Jacksonville, FL, and everything will be groovy.

    (Oh, right, I was going to explain why I'm wishing you a merry fucking Christmas on 4/20. The Merry Christmas jihadists are prowling the town tonight. They're looking for the usual suspects: homosexuals, women they've determined are actually men, anybody with hair too long or too short for their assigned gender and maratial status really. They've got us communists who consistently vote Libertarian figured out. During December, they've figured out they get up in our faces, stop us from doing evil activities such as earning our own money and purchasing dinner one evening, and by shouting "MERRY CHRISTMAS" in our faces, they'll cause us 5D8 damage, which is better than shouting "Ni!" Ni! only does 4D6 damage and also has the unfortunate side-effect that if the target person is an old woman and the person shouting Ni! is a passer-by, it does an additional 2D4 damage. Well, today, being 4/20, means that any god-fearing soul can automatically determine, using the same criteria as during Christmas to find out who is personally trying to make Christmas illegal, who is trying to summon the devil by smoking the devil grass, say true ye ken, and messing with them. This is a warning to all asshole Christian SUV drivers: if you try to race me off the line because my car looks slow and I look like one of them homersexerler commies who smokes the devil grass, you WILL be fucking humiliated.)

    HEIL FÜHRERIN!

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  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday April 21 2016, @02:31AM

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 21 2016, @02:31AM (#335003) Journal

    Jesus unicycling Christ, Kurenai.

    Now listen, after your dismissal of me (and a good 99.99%+ of the female population) as "cisgendered hunnies" I'd be perfectly justified in telling you to go warm your toes in the Malebolge. But I won't, because it's obvious you are Having A Bad Time (TM) right now, and I'd like to help if possible.

    PM me if you want my email address or the irc server/room of some places I hang out and you want to talk. They're all trans-friendly. Let's see if we can't get you 1) in a better place mentally, short term and 2) onto some aid program that can help finish whatever the doctors, who may or may not be Jewish, started on your wedding tackle.

    To the rest of you reading this: Kurenai is not trans because she is insane; rather, constant rejection and fear have a way of causing someone insanity, and being trans does NOT help with that. The entire planet's pretty much against you from the start.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...