It’s not the first time: sanity from Great Britain in the drugs debate. The Liberal Democrat party – currently in government – is expected to pass a motion calling for an independent inquiry into the decriminalization of drug possession at its fall conference. This is supported by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The motion is based on Portuguese drug reforms (blogged about those here and here) enacted a decade ago, which through decriminalization have succesfully pushed back problematic drug use, whilst leaving alone unproblematic users. Drugs are considered a health issue instead of a criminal one, except in the case of big-time dealers.
That is not to mention the Global Commission on Drug Policy, consisting of the former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, former UN Secretary Kofi Annan, former EU High Representative Javier Solana, former US Secretary of State George Shultz, Richard Branson and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, among others. It’s noteworthy that a lot of politicians come out in favor of drug decriminalization after their tenure.
Drug reform advocates could be about to secure a significant victory in their campaign to liberalise the law after a Liberal Democrat motion for full decriminalisation was submitted.
The party is likely to overwhelmingly back the motion to establish a panel to urgently consider the decriminalisation of personal drug use at its conference this autumn.
The move would likely prompt friction with the Lib Dems’ Conservative coalition partners, whose rank-and-file membership are strongly opposed to any change to drug laws. The party would need Conservative support before the panel could be established.
David Cameron’s record as a backbencher was distinctly liberal when it came to drug reform. He called for heroin ‘shooting rooms’ and a public health approach to drug use before taking the leadership.
Drug liberalisation views are surprisingly popular in Westminster circles, but it has been considered politically impossible for several years, mostly due to fear of the tabloid reaction and the views of ‘middle-England’ voters.
Former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth quickly came out against the “disaster” of drug regulation after leaving his front bench position.
Nick Clegg is understood to be distinctly relaxed about the motion, however, suggesting the Lib Dem leadership will not back down in the event of a yes vote.
There is “increasing evidence that the UK’s drugs policy is not only ineffective and not cost-effective but actually harmful, impacting particularly severely on the poor and marginalised”, the motion reads.
“Individuals, especially young people, can be damaged both by the imposition of criminal records and by a drug habit, and… the priority for those addicted to all substances must be healthcare, education and rehabilitation, not punishment.
“One of the key barriers to developing better drugs policy has been the previous Labour government’s persistent refusal to take on board scientific advice, and the absence of an overall evaluative framework of the UK’s drugs strategy.”
The demand comes amid unparalleled change internationally on drug laws, with several highly-respected figures and institutions calling for a more liberal policy on narcotics.
The Global Commission on Drugs Policy, headed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan recently called for world governments to consider regulating the drug trade.
Under decriminalisation, people caught with drugs would no longer be given fines or jail sentences but rather treatment and counselling. Dealers would still face the current legal penalties, however.
A similar policy was recently adopted in Portugal, and led to surprising results, with some sources suggesting cannabis use has decreased by 50%.
The Lib Dems have a long track record of an evidence-based policy on drugs and called for the legalisation of cannabis in 2002. But with the party now in power, their vote is likely to play a much more significant role in the public debate.
The motion will be put forward by Ewan Hoyle, founder of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, and backed by Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson
In the 1970′s philosopher Terence McKenna developed the “Stoned Ape Theory”of human evolution. McKenna argued that the evolution from Home erectus to Homo sapiens was facilitated by the addition of the mushroom psilocybe cubensis (magic mushroom) to the diet of our ancestors. According to McKenna the improved visual acuity caused by the mushrooms gave an evolutionary advantage to Home erectus. It also helped developed linguistic thinking among humans, he explained.
Will Carsola and Duncan Trussell were inspired by McKenna and created a “trailer” for an animations series called Thunderbrain, based on the “Stoned Ape Theory. Can’t wait for this series to air!:
Really looks more like a candy box than anything else…
The Dangerous Drugs—Identification Kit contains harmless facsimiles of the more commonly abused dangerous drugs. The Kit was designed to be used primarily as an instructional aid in educational and training programs directed toward combating the existing narcotics and dangerous drugs problem. It consists of a plastic container which is transparent and durable. Plainly visible within the container are facsimiles of amphetamines and barbituates, reproduced with exacting fidelity in terms of color, size, shape, and other distinguising characteristics.
Na de hele mediabombarie rondom het verscheiden van Herman Brood, vandaag tien jaar geleden, valt er eigenlijk nog maar weinig toe te voegen. Brood, een van de weinige écht non-conformistische, vrije geesten die bekend zijn geraakt in dit land. Het laatste decennium is Nederland opvallend veel van dat soort helden kwijtgeraakt… Simon Vinkenoog, Gerard Reve, Jan Wolkers, Ramses Shaffy, Sugar Lee Hooper, Brood, ja zelfs André Hazes. Iconen die, als je het maatschappelijk klimaat in dit land nu bekijkt, uit een hele andere tijd lijken te stammen. Een tijd dat Nederland nog wel vrij, origineel en individualistisch was. Het lijkt decennia geleden.
We wrote about Portugal’s succesful drug decriminalization experiment before, and a couple of days ago this success was once again confirmed. At the press conference marking the tenth anniversary of the law, Portuguese health experts have shown that drug addiction has hugely declined, that drug-related infections have declined, and that drug-related crimes have declined.
The facts: the number of frequent hard drug users has declined from 100,000 in the early 1990s to 50,000 now. The reduction in numbers of infections and crimes is deemed “spectacular”.
In short, along almost every conceivable line, decriminalizing drugs has been a success. It should be stressed that Portugal’s policy does not consist of decriminalization alone: the core is treating drug use as a health problem instead of a crime. People getting caught with a sufficient amount of banned substances have to appear before special addiction panels rather than a criminal court. Here, it is determined whether a person is a casual user or an addict. Personal possession was decriminalized, allowing police authorities to focus on large-scale drug trafficking.
Conservative politicians need to recognize this objective, measurable success. The facts are clear for all to see: drug criminalization does. not. work. It just doesn’t. Battling drug use through criminal law alone only results in stigmatization, unnecessary financial costs, people’s lives wasted in jail and a neglect of the health problem. Moreover, it fails to distinguish between casual users who are no problem to society at all, and addicts.
Read more about the empirical success of Portugal’s drug policy here and here. Also see Glenn Greenwald’s report on the effects of drug decriminalization in Portugal.
Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.
“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.
The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.
Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.
“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”
Portugal’s holistic approach had also led to a “spectacular” reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes, he added.
A law that became active on July 1, 2001 did not legalise drug use, but forced users caught with banned substances to appear in front of special addiction panels rather than in a criminal court.
The panels composed of psychologists, judges and social workers recommended action based on the specifics of each case.
Since then, government panels have recommended a response based largely on whether the individual is an occasional drug user or an addict.
Of the nearly 40,000 people currently being treated, “the vast majority of problematic users are today supported by a system that does not treat them as delinquents but as sick people,” Goulao said.
In a report published last week, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said Portugal had dealt with this issue “in a pragmatic and innovative way.”
Drug use statistics in Portugal are generally “below the European average and much lower than its only European neighbour, Spain,” the report also said.
“The changes that were made in Portugal provide an interesting before-and-after study on the possible effects of decriminalisation,” EMCDDA said.
Many of these innovative treatment procedures would not have emerged if addicts had continued to be arrested and locked up rather than treated by medical experts and psychologists. Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time. None of this is possible when waging a war.
The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world.
And finally, one last reference to the recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which has come to the same conclusions.
Purely symbolic and without any chance of succeeding, of course, but still good: a bill to end the federal ban on marihuana and let states decide whether to legalize it has been introduced in Congress today. It’s been done in a bipartisan effort, notably, by the liberal Democrat Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and libertarian Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The proposed legislation would reduce the federal government’s role in marihuana enforcement to fighting cross-border smuggle, and allow people to grow, use and sell marihuana in states where it is legal. It’s the first bill to end federal criminalization of personal use of marihuana introduced in Congress since 1937.
This bipartisan effort comes just three weeks after the report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which rightly called the international War on Drugs a costly disaster, and called for an end to the criminalization and marginalization of drug users, encouraging governments to embark on policies stressing the public health aspect.
What a stretch from the situation in the once-rational Netherlands, where the far right-wing government is advised to declare certain brands of marihuana ‘hard drugs’ (comparable to heroin and cocaine), close dozens of coffee shops, and is planning to implement a nationwide system for the registration of marihuana purveyors…
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) will introduce legislation on Thursday to end the federal ban on marijuana and let the states decide whether to legalize it.
“The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal,” according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for pot legalization. “The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.”
More than a dozen states allow the sale of medical marijuana, but the practice is not legal under federal law, leading to confusion and clashes between local and federal authorities.
This despite the Obama administration’s announcement two years ago that it would not arrest or prosecute medical marijuana users or suppliers who are not violating local laws — a reversal of the Bush administration’s policy that federal drug laws should be enforced even in states that had legalized medical marijuana. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he will clarify the Justice Department’s position.
The bill by Frank and Paul comes 40 years after President Richard Nixon first declared a war on drugs. Last week, to commemorate the anniversary, a group of former law enforcement officials unveiled a new report detailing the failures of the government’s long battle against illegal drugs and denounces the Obama administration’s current drug policies.
“Since President Nixon declared ‘war on drugs’ four decades ago, this failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost, yet drugs today are more available than ever,” said Norm Stamper, former chief of police in Seattle and a speaker for legalization-advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
It’s official now: the global War on Drugs has failed. So says the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a transnational body consisting of the former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, former UN Secretary Kofi Annan, former US Secretary of State George Shultz, Richard Branson and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, among others.
Their report states that “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”
The report also calls for an end to the “criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others,” and for governments to experiment with ways to regulate drugs so as to undercut organized crime and improve public health.
But tell all this to the tenaciously stupid governing parties in the Netherlands today (Christian Democrats and conservative liberals, of course), who are taking a country that for forty years has been on the vanguard of a sane, rational drugs policy now back into retrograd repression.
While in the rest of the world, increasingly voices are heard calling for an end to a hyper-costly, completely failing War on Drugs; while in more and more countries in Europe, with proven success possession and use of small amounts of drugs is decriminalized, and public policy starts to revolve around health issues; in the Netherlands, the government is closing down coffee shops and implementing a nationwide system for the registration of drug users. It’s not hard to see what the next step will be.
And of all of this out of a mistaken sense of ideology. Because they don’t like you to take drugs. It would be saddening if it wasn’t so maddening – and maddeningly irrational.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes several former heads of state and UN officials, has released a report calling the global war on drugs a failure.
“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” the report reads. “Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”
Among the members of the commission are former presidents of Columbia, Mexico and Brazil, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, among others.
The report calls for an end to the “criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others,” and for governments to experiment with ways to regulate drugs so as to undercut organized crime and improve public health.
“Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime,” the report says. “Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights - and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation.”
In a comment to The Guardian, a spokesman for White House drug tsar Gil Kerlikowske disagreed with the report’s conclusions.
“Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available – as this report suggests – will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” the spokesman said.
Wow, this is cool. Everyone who’s read Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Testor just knows a little bit about the origins of the 1960s counterculture knows that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, while on their legendary LSD-fueled road trip from San Francisco to New York, taped the whole thing. In fact, filming it was sorta essential to the experience -- just like rigging the Furthur bus with all kinds of sound equipment was.
Now unfortunately, afterwards nothing was ever done with the film material. Until now. I’m pretty excited about this, because apparently, some people have gotten together and created a documentary about the 1964 Magic Trip based on loads of original raw material never seen before. This means that all those characters -- Kesey himself, Neal Cassady (the driver in On the Road and (!) the bus driver), Babbs, Mountain Girl, Ed McClanahan, Sandy Lehman, etc. -- are in there. And it’s in color too.
Wow. I wonder if the Merry Pranksters’ encounter with the other psychedelic pioneers of that time -- the East Coast based Harvard professor Timothy Leary and his followers -- is in it as well. Apparently, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are in it too.
Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s MAGIC TRIP is a freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s fabled road trip across America in the legendary Magic Bus. In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Gibney and Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.
Check out this enthralling short documentary about the hippie love-in in Los Angeles on Easter Sunday, 1967, entitled ‘God respects us when we work, but He loves us when we dance’. Full of flowers, children, hippie girls, dances and psychedelic folk!
Hippies and flower children dance and create rituals at the historic Los Angeles “Love-In” of Easter Sunday, 1967. This ‘60s classic documents a once-in a lifetime phenomenon, preserving all the fashions, energy and idealism of the first “alternative lifestyles.” Psychedelic special effects!
The “rave” phenomenon is not confined to the twenty- or twenty-first century. According to this nice article at Frontier Psychiatrist, in sixteenth-century Europe the spectacle of throngs of people dancing madly in a trance (influenced by music as well as psychedelics) through the streets could be witnessed as well. In fact, the phenomenon seems to go back as far as the fourteenth century, the earliest dancing raves being reported in 1374.
Shows once again that attempts to repress this activity will always be ill-fated, heh.
Sometime in mid-July 1518 a woman stepped into one of Strasbourg’s streets and began dancing. Within a week another thirty four had joined her. By end of August, it is said that 400 people had experienced the madness, dancing uncontrollably around the city.
Local physicians were consulted. They excluded astrological and supernatural causes, declaring it to be a ‘natural disease’ caused by ‘hot blood’; treatment: more dancing. In an echo of the raves that would prove so popular five hundred years later, two guildhalls and an outdoor grain market were cleared so the afflicted could dance freely and uninterrupted. Musicians were provided.
When dancers began to die the governors rethought their strategy. A new diagnosis was made; the dancing was now attributed to a curse sent down by an angry saint. In contrition gambling, gaming and prostitution were banned and the dissolute banished. When this proved ineffective the dancers were despatched to a mountaintop shrine and divine intervention was requested. In the following weeks the epidemic finally abated.
The first major outbreak of dancing mania is thought to have taken place in Aachen, Germany on June 24 1374 after which it spread quickly through France, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Outbreaks virtually always struck close to earlier similarly effected sites. Maastricht, Trier, Zurich and Strasbourg each experienced two or more episodes. Thousands of people danced in agony for days or weeks, screaming of terrible visions and imploring religious leaders to save their souls.
It seems unbelievable today, but there is no question that these epidemics did occur. Dozens of reliable chronicles from several towns and cities describe the events of 1374.
No consensus exists as to the condition’s aetiology. One theory is that sufferers had ingested ergot, a mould that grows on stalks of ripening rye and can cause hallucinations, spasms, and tremors. Epidemics of ergotism are known to have occurred in mediaeval Europe when people ate contaminated flour. But it is unlikely that those poisoned by ergot could have danced for days at a time and nor would so many people have reacted to its psychotropic chemicals in the same way. Others suggest that the dance was staged and part of a ritual of a banned sect, whose worship could take place under the guise of uncontrolled dancing. This explanation is questioned by those who believe that there is no evidence that the dancers wanted to dance, citing contemporaneous evidence that the dancers showed expressions of fear and desperation.
A convincing explanation comes from the historian John Waller who posits psychological distress as a predisposing factor, cultural contagion as a trigger and pious fear as a perpetuating factor. He considers that sufferers were predisposed to the trance like states by high levels of psychological stress commonplace due to the travails of the Middle Ages. The 1374 dancing plague, for instance, spread in the areas most savagely hit earlier in the year by the most devastating flood of the 14th century.
This in itself is not sufficient to explain why so many danced to their deaths. Here cultural conditioning is important: anthropological field studies and accounts of possession rituals show that people are more likely to enter a trance state if they expect it to happen and that entranced participants behave in a ritualistic manner shaped by the spiritual beliefs. In the times of the dancing mania there were common beliefs about wrathful spirits able to inflict a dancing curse. In this milieu once one particularly disturbed person started to dance others were likely to join.
The prolonged course of the epidemics were also shaped by prevailing belief. Alongside those who may have been truly entranced, numbers were swelled by many people who took part due to fear, or just to be like other people. Dancing was thought to be both the affliction and its cure, although this now seems almost certain to escalate rather than ameliorate. This central role of belief is also apparent in the speed with which epidemics abated once victims had prayed at appropriate shrines or had undergone elaborate exorcism rituals. Finally further evidence for supernatural belief’s central role is that the demise of dancing mania by the mid-1600 coincides with its fall from influence.
Dancing mania was confined to a specific period, but some have identified modern-day activities that display some of its characteristics. Raving features characteristics of dancing mania. For example, raves may involve activities that onlookers consider odd (such as partying all night), the use of drugs to bring on hallucinations, and participants who are part of a subculture. If we do accept the psychological distress explanation, then viewed from this distance perhaps dancing mania’s main message to us now is that symptoms of psychological distress and mental illness may not be fixed but can heavily influenced by the cultural environment and prevailing belief structures.
The Awl has a very cool and interesting interview with Eddie Einbinder, author of the book How to Have Fun and Not Die, about responsible drug use, which won the New York Book Festival’s grand prize in 2008. At the release of the second edition in May, Einbinder will also debut a related documentary.
For his book, Einbinder travelled across the US exploring various party scenes. He’s an advocate of drug use, but in an adult and responsible way: that is, measured, and one at a time (that is, never in combinations). How to Have Fun and Not Die is therefore full of tips and tricks for the ‘safe’ use (between brackets because to some extent it’s never safe) of several drugs, including the most tricky ones.
Einbinder does this proceeding from a public health perspective – you can’t prevent drug use, so you better make it safe (while of course not encouraging the use of the really dangerous stuff). For similar, older endeavours in Dutch, by the way, check out veteran psychonauts Gerben Hellinga’s and Hans Plomp’s voluminous website Uitjebol.net; and of course there are test centers in the Netherlands, which are lacking in the US, hence the need for such a book.
The interview with Einbinder is pretty entertaining, so here it is:
Tell me about this trip you just got back from.
I was in upstate New Hampshire, somewhere really rural, for six days at a gathering for people to just, well, do drugs in peace. There was a lot of DMT, MDA, acid, mescaline…
What are DMT and MDA?
DMT is as serious a hallucinogen as acid, but it only lasts ten to 15 minutes. MDA—also known as “sass rocks”—is like MDMA, but less emotional and more hallucinogenic and stimulating.
It’s hard to draw the line sometimes, you know, between work and play for me.
I can imagine. So did you do a little bit of everything while you were there?
No, no, no. I was watching a lot of people doing things. I did try Ether for the first time. Ether gives you a horrible headache. It’s useless. Don’t do it. Oh, and I numbed my gums with some sass rocks. Other than that, I was just drinking, getting high on hash, and playing dominoes a lot.
How old were you when you had your first drug experience?
That’s oddly not a common question. I tried cigarettes the summer I was 11. That was probably one of the more emotional drug experiences I’ve had. My 12-year-old girlfriend introduced them to me. That year I also started dipping. I was in that palace in the woods kids make for themselves as a retreat to hook up, do drugs, and eat deli sandwiches, when I packed a lip for the first time. I probably weighed 90 pounds and I was given no guidance, so I kept it in way too long—30 minutes maybe—and I passed out. I was totally unconscious. I woke up and thought, I’m definitely never dipping again.
Did you ever dip again?
Yeah. In the summer of 2003. There were 80 of us living in the woods in conjunction with a minor in Environmental Studies in the Northwest.
How’d take two go?
I remembered why I don’t like dipping much.
What other memorable drug initiation experiences come to mind?
Trying acid for the first time at 19 was a big deal. I tried coke at 20 in college at Lehigh. I have a pretty mindful approach to trying things. I believe in moderation, and knowing your limits. And doing something with a purpose rather than out of habit, or to get a fix.
Can pleasure be a purpose?
Sure. It’s about having good relationships with drugs.
So what inspired you to pursue your special brand of drug education?
It was on that trip to the woods in 2003 I mentioned that I realized that my friends and I were not putting the necessary amount of thought into our drug use. I thought to myself, why haven’t I Googled “most common ways kids are going to die today,” and put it up on my fridge? I was right that there are some blanket rules that can seriously up your odds of surviving. If you can take one sentence from the lecture I give, it should be that the vast majority of overdoses result from two or more substances at once in your body. That right there, on top of keeping in mind that what’s billed as either heroin or coke or ecstasy includes multiple substances—whatever they’re cut with for profit—is key. When people do a drug respectfully, in the way it’s meant to be done, they rarely die.
What have been the best resources for researching the new book and making the movie?
ER doctors are great. I realized that in 2006 when a girl I dated ended up hospitalized. She’d been doing a lot of coke that summer, as well as Ambien, and Valium. And drinking. I’ve since developed several relationships with ER doctors who keep me informed about what kids are overdosing on. Watching drug use firsthand is important, too. Oh, and dentists. You should talk to your dentist about meth mouth. They have the most horrible stories.
Are you ever treated like an outsider by the kids you observe?
Nope. I only ever get to observe because I’m welcomed in the first place. The participants are people who understand that my message is to educate.
And these people want to be on camera taking drugs?
They sign contracts six weeks prior to filming, when sober. This is not Girls Gone Wild. No one’s face will be fuzzy.
Are you ever an active participant during filming?
No, not while filming. Things would veer off track. It’s a more structured setting.
What do your parents think about what you do?
As long as I’m working hard, they’re fans. They realize—like most rational teachers and doctors and people I speak to—that this is absolutely necessary. I’m trying to promote honest, open health education. They understand that.
What are your thoughts on addiction?
I feel lucky I’ve never been addicted to anything. I think it’s probably genetic. Only 1.3% of Americans are addicted, though. It’s the minority. Most people are just casual drug users who might accidentally overdose, which is what we’re trying to prevent.
Do you get any backlash? If so, where from?
Institutions. It’s one of the most upsetting issues to me. Colleges are running businesses. They’re trying to ensure the safety of the school’s reputation more than the welfare of their student body by refusing to acknowledge that drugs are being done and refusing to educate kids on the safest ways to handle drugs.
Do you think people are naive to the differences between black market and prescription drugs?
People think prescription drugs are much safer. Though the misuse of prescription drugs is black market. There’s a dealer at most high schools nowadays. And kids steal them from their parents. Prescription pills have replaced weed in a lot of areas because they’re so accessible and there’s nothing easier than swallowing a pill. It’s like vitamins! It’s everywhere, and it’s causing a lot of problems. I talk a lot about how marijuana is not at all a transitional drug. People like to label weed as “the gateway” drug, but that’s a farce. I think it’s actually prescription pills that make for a smooth transition to other drugs. Adderall to coke. Oxycontin to heroin.
If you were charged with designing an effective drug awareness campaign, what would it look like?
It certainly wouldn’t have an awful, misleading slogan like “Hugs not drugs” or “Drugs are bad.” Those messages don’t work for the same reason abstinence sex-ed is ineffective. You have to be open and honest. Educate. I’d create a mandatory year-long course based on the lecture I give with a textbook version of my book. And I’d show my film, which depicts real situations supplemented with dialogue about safety measures. It also incorporates commentary from lawyers and doctors about legal and medical ramifications. We’re looking to get some interviews with people in positions of extreme opposition, too.
Like the dude who prosecuted Paris Hilton for cocaine possession and was then caught purchasing crack?
At what age would you educate your own kids about drugs?
Most professionals say by middle school it’s advisable, so at least by then. I don’t think I can say without knowing my child. It will have more to do with his or her behavior and level of curiosity.
What’s your favorite drug?
Alcohol’s the easiest thing to continuously have fun on and not get too crazy.
How about other than alcohol? Weed?
No. I’m useless on weed. Hash is a favorite. It’s an incredibly chill high and I’m still able to have a good time and be social. On the other extreme of alcohol, I think LSD can be one of the more rewarding experiences one can have.
How about uppers?
I’ve been into them before.
Is there a drug you haven’t tried?
Me neither! Want to do it together when we’re 75?
Maybe 90. After nicotine, heroin is the drug with the most potential to become addictive. And who wants to trust themselves injecting something?
So when’s the last time you purchased a drug?
Truthfully, since I’ve gotten into this work more formally, I haven’t purchased a drug.
Are they given to you?
If I am doing something, it’s because I’m going with the flow. So yeah, it’s usually given to me.
So you’re not a frequent drug user?
If you leave me alone to write for a week, the only thing I’d do is tea. I’m really into tea these days.
[Laughs] You’re mocking, but tea is a drug. And it’s a good one.
What do you think compels a person to try a drug?
Boredom, and because it’s the cool thing to do.
What’s the coolest drug to do right now? What’s trending on college campuses?
Alcohol will probably always be the biggest problem on college campuses because of its social acceptance. As I was traveling west in 2009, I heard more and more about Salvia and DMT. But your traditional popular drugs are still prevalent, like cocaine, mushrooms, and acid. And weed is absolutely everywhere.
One of the strategies you suggest to marketing representatives hired to sell your book at schools is to throw a Celebrity Overdose party where people dress up as dead celebrities. Who would you dress up as at such an event?
I’m pretty sure it’s never happened. But I think John Belushi would be the most fun to portray.
Cause he was a party animal. I’m just picturing Animal House.
Do you think you’ll encounter a problem continuing this work as you age?
I’m able to do whatever the fuck I want right now, which works well. But I’m well aware that as I get older, I might not be able to blend into the college crowds as much. I’ll figure it out. There’s a lot to be done.
Who funds your work?
The work funds the work. Speaking fees. The book. There are some private investors in the film.
Any parting words?
Yeah. I think cocaine’s a bigger issue for 20-somethings in finance than it is on college campuses. The social scene surrounding finance in general lends itself to those drugs more than any other environment I’ve witnessed. Like certain religions use psychedelics. Oh, and the people trying to pass legislature for random drug testing on campuses in New York state are moronic.
So say a group of prominent British public figures, including former heads of MI5, the Crown Prosecution Service, the BBC, the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council. The group also includes Members of Parliament and members of the House of Lords, including Conservatives. Together they have formed an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, which calls for new drug policies in the United Kingdom based on scientific evidence.
Since Britain’s prisons, like those in the United States, are overcrowded and full of people convicted on (small) drug charges, it’s possible that the parliamentary group’s calls will receive a ‘sympathetic audience’ in Whitehall, where the government is trying to cut the numbers and costs of the prison population.
In that respect, they can look to Portugal, where a rather succesful experiment with decriminalization of drug possession has reached its tenth year. Here, there has been a 63 percent increase in drug users getting treatment, and a 499 percent increase in amount of drugs seized (by focusing on the big fish).
Either way, present UK (and US) policy – the full criminalization of drug possession and use – is a very costly disaster. A big societal issue that some people should finally start to think rationally, rather than ideologically about.
Leading peers – including prominent Tories – say that despite governments worldwide drawing up tough laws against dealers and users over the past 50 years, illegal drugs have become more accessible.
Vast amounts of money have been wasted on unsuccessful crackdowns, while criminals have made fortunes importing drugs into this country.
The increasing use of the most harmful drugs such as heroin has also led to “enormous health problems”, according to the group.
The MPs and members of the House of Lords, who have formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, are calling for new policies to be drawn up on the basis of scientific evidence.
It could lead to calls for the British government to decriminalise drugs, or at least for the police and Crown Prosecution Service not to jail people for possession of small amounts of banned substances.
Their intervention could receive a sympathetic audience in Whitehall, where ministers and civil servants are trying to cut the numbers and cost of the prison population. The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, has already announced plans to help offenders kick drug habits rather than keeping them behind bars.
The former Labour government changed its mind repeatedly on the risks posed by cannabis use and was criticised for sacking its chief drug adviser, Prof David Nutt, when he claimed that ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.
The chairman of the new group, Baroness Meacher – who is also chairman of an NHS trust – told The Daily Telegraph: “Criminalising drug users has been an expensive catastrophe for individuals and communities.
“In the UK the time has come for a review of our 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. I call on our Government to heed the advice of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that drug addiction should be recognised as a health problem and not punished.
“We have the example of other countries to follow. The best is Portugal which has decriminalised drug use for 10 years. Portugal still has one of the lowest drug addiction rates in Europe, the trend of Young people’s drug addiction is falling in Portugal against an upward trend in the surrounding countries, and the Portuguese prison population has fallen over time.”
Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1983 and 1989, said: “I have no doubt that the present policy is a disaster.
“This is an important issue, which I have thought about for many years. But I still don’t know what the right answer is – I have joined the APPG in the hope that it may help us to find the right answer.”
Other high-profile figures in the group include Baroness Manningham-Buller, who served as Director General of MI5, the security service, between 2002 and 2007; Lord Birt, the former Director-General of the BBC who went on to become a “blue-sky thinker” for Tony Blair; Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, until recently the Director of Public Prosecutions; and Lord Walton of Detchant, a former president of the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council.
Current MPs on the group include Peter Bottomley, who served as a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher; Mike Weatherley, the newly elected Tory MP for Hove and Portslade; and Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge.
The peers and MPs say that despite governments “pouring vast resources” into the attempt to control drug markets, availability and use has increased, with up to 250 million people worldwide using narcotics such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin in 2008.
They believe the trade in illegal drugs makes more than £200 billion a year for criminals and terrorists, as well as destabilising entire nations such as Afghanistan and Mexico.
As a result, the all-party group is working with the Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, to review current policies and scientific evidence in order to draw up proposed new ways to deal with the problem.
Vorige week berichtten wij over het lovenswaardige experiment dat de gemeente Utrecht van plan is te beginnen met legale wietteelt. Geheel binnen de kaders van het gedoogbeleid, waarbij thuiskweek tot vijf planten is toegestaan, wil de gemeente kleine thuistelers bij elkaar brengen en, zonder er een cent aan uit te geven, hun krachten bundelen teneinde de toevoer aan lokale coffeeshops – de zogenaamde ‘achterdeur’ – te rationaliseren en reguleren.
Om nog maar eens de voordelen van dit beleid, dat niet op ideologie maar op een nuchtere afweging van feiten gestoeld is, op te sommen: je controleert zo het thc-gehalte en de kwaliteit van wiet, hetgeen de volksgezondheid bevordert, en je haalt wietteelt uit de grootschalige criminaliteit. De spagaat van het huidige gedoogbeleid is dat kopen en gebruiken mag, maar dat aanlevering gecriminaliseerd is. Een paradijs en miljoenenmarkt voor criminelen, uiteraard, waar we vanaf moeten.
Met wiet roken is niets meer of minder mis dan alcohol gebruiken. Erop tegen zijn is gebaseerd op ideologie. Drooglegging is per definitie onzinnig en contraproductief beleid. De intentie van het gedoogbeleid, ooit, in de jaren zeventig was om wiet roken voor de thuisgebruiker mogelijk te maken, middels kleinschalige coffeeshops. En de gemeente Utrecht wil juist naar die situatie terug! (Waarbij ze ook nog bezig zijn met beleid ontwikkelen voor probleemgebruikers.)
Maar wat doet regent Opstelten van het reactionaire kabinet-Rutte? Die zegt, uiteraard na vragen van een CDA-Kamerlid: VERBOTEN. Het is “niet mogelijk” om hier “toestemming voor te geven”. En aangezien Koning Opstelten “toch niet van gedachten gaat veranderen”, heeft “overleg geen zin”.
Omdat Opstelten “toch niet van gedachten gaat veranderen”, heeft overleg “geen zin”.
OK… Ik zeg we’ll see about that, regent. Als ik de gemeenteraad (GL-PvdA-D66) was zou ik lekker doorgaan met dit experiment, en mij aan een dergelijke bruuskering niets gelegen laten liggen. Hebben we nog wetten en regels in dit land, en is er nog sprake van coöperatie tussen verschillende bestuurslagen in het belang van de burger? Laat Opstelten dan maar eens juridisch hard maken waar staat dat kleine telers zich niet in een vereniging mogen aaneensluiten. Als het probleem hem erin zit dat het niet in één ruimte mag (en dát zal dan ergens moeten staan), fine, dan doen we het toch vanuit meer ruimtes? Los van deze juridische finesses is het, gezien recente geweldsincidenten in Noord-Brabant, de hoogste tijd dat regulering van de achterdeur op de agenda komt, waarbij alle opties serieus moeten worden overwogen. De gemeente in Utrecht neemt in die context een goed initiatief, dat meer verdient dan een regentesk ‘Njet’.
Ik ben benieuwd naar het vervolg. Light Sound Dimension houdt je op de hoogte.
De gemeente Utrecht mag geen eigen wietkwekerij opzetten. Minister van Veiligheid en Justitie Ivo Opstelten (VVD) gaat burgemeester Aleid Wolfsen (PvdA) daarop wijzen. Dat heeft Opstelten dinsdag aangekondigd tijdens het wekelijkse vragenuur in de Tweede Kamer.
“Het is niet mogelijk om hier toestemming voor te geven”, zei Opstelten op vragen van CDA-Kamerlid Coskun Çörüz. Opstelten voelt weinig voor overleg met Utrecht, zoals het gemeentebestuur wil. Overleg heeft geen zin, omdat hij toch niet van gedachten zal veranderen, zei Opstelten.
Utrecht kondigde vorige week aan dat de stad een eigen kwekerij wil. Die moet gaan vallen onder een besloten vereniging, waarvan de leden wiet kunnen gebruiken die in de kwekerij voor eigen gebruik is geteeld.
Het idee achter het experiment is dat iedereen voor eigen gebruik in principe vijf wietplantjes mag kweken. Dat past binnen het gedoogbeleid, zegt Utrecht. Door de teelt te laten plaatsvinden binnen een besloten vereniging kunnen leden ieder vijf plantjes inbrengen, hoopt de gemeente.
Volgens Opstelten past het plan helemaal niet binnen het huidige gedoogbeleid. Bij meer dan vijf plantjes in een kwekerij stelt het Openbaar Ministerie vervolging in.
The CIA originally tested LSD on (sometimes unknowing) subjects as a mind control drug. While that didn’t really work out, newly discovered breeds of fungi show that apparently some sort of connection can still be made.
Four new species of fungi discovered in the Brazilian rain forest have the ability to take over the brains of ants, turning them into mindless zombies. Employing mind-altering chemicals, the fungi let the ants carry them up very specific branches in the sun, then kill them. How they do this is still a mystery; but the fungi are related to the fungi that LSD comes from. After that, the fungi turn the dead ants into spore-producing factories…
Four new species of brain-manipulating fungi that turn ants into “zombies” have been discovered in the Brazilian rain forest. These fungi control ant behavior with mind-altering chemicals, then kill them. They’re part of a large family of fungi that create chemicals that mess with animal nervous systems.
Usually scientists study these fungi as specimens preserved in a lab, said entomologist David Hughes of Pennsylvania State University, co-author of a study March 3 PLoS ONE. “By going into the forest to watch them, we found new micro-structures and behaviors.”
Once infected by spores, the worker ants, normally dedicated to serving the colony, leave the nest, find a small shrub and start climbing. The fungi directs all ants to the same kind of leaf: about 25 centimeters above the ground and at a precise angle to the sun (though the favored angle varies between fungi). How the fungi do this is a mystery.
“It’s related to the fungus that LSD comes from,” Hughes said. “Obviously they are producing lots of interesting chemicals.”
Before dying, ants anchor themselves to the leaf, clamping their jaws on the edge or a vein on the underside. The fungi then takes over, turning the ant’s body into a spore-producing factory. It lives off the ant carcass, using it as a platform to launch spores, for up to a year.
Of the four new species, two grow long, arrow-like spores which eject like missiles from the fungus, seeking to land on a passing ant. The other fungi propel shorter spores, which change shape in mid-air to become like boomerangs and land nearby. If these fail to land on an ant, the spores sprout stalks that can snag ants walking over them. Upon infecting the new ant, the cycle starts again.
Kijk, dit vind ik nou mooi. Terwijl voor het overige een gure, rechtse wind door het land waait, gaan we in de vrijzinnige oases Amsterdam en Utrecht gewoon door met zinnig beleid. Het college in Utrecht (GroenLinks-PvdA-D66) bereidt een experiment voor met legale wietteelt. Daarbij wordt het mogelijk gemaakt om in een besloten club, op een gereguleerde en gecontroleerde manier, wiet te telen. Voordelen: je beschermt de volksgezondheid door voorlichting en het naar beneden brengen van het thc-gehalte, en je haalt de teelt uit de criminaliteit. Voor probleemgebruikers (want die zijn er) is de gemeente ook bezig met het ontwikkelen van beleid. Sanity.
Volgende week donderdag is er trouwens een debatavond in Trianon, georganiseerd door de gemeenteraadsfracties van PvdA en D66, over de toekomst van het coffeeshopbeleid. De partijen willen een ‘open discussie’ voeren over lokale experimenten met het reguleren van de achterdeur.
En voor de potentiële kwekers: bij de Movie Max op de Nachtegaalstraat ligt al tijden een koop-dvd te verstoffen over ‘Hoe teel ik wiet’. Kun je voor een klein prijsje denk ik wel meenemen.
De gemeente Utrecht gaat wietgebruikers de mogelijkheid geven om binnen gesloten clubs legaal cannabis te kweken. Dat maakte de gemeente donderdag bekend. Omdat de plannen voor het experiment nog in een vroeg stadium verkeren, is over de concrete uitwerking nog weinig bekend, aldus een woordvoerster.
De gemeente wil volwassen recreatieve gebruikers de mogelijkheid bieden om in kleinschalige verenigingen op een gereguleerde en gecontroleerde manier wiet te telen. Het belangrijkste doel daarvan is volgens de voorlichtster het beschermen van de volksgezondheid, door gebruikers invloed te geven op de kwaliteit van de cannabis. Ander bijkomend voordeel in de ogen van de gemeente is dat de hennepkweek daarmee ook uit de illegaliteit wordt gehaald.
Er zullen zo’n honderd tot honderdvijftig gebruikers bij het experiment worden betrokken, zo verwacht de gemeente. De bedoeling is dat het experiment nog deze collegeperiode van start gaat.
Wethouder Volksgezondheid Victor Everhardt: ‘De gemeente wil ruimte voor deze experimenten met het oog op het verminderen van de schade van cannabisgebruik voor de gezondheid. Ook hopen wij hiermee de criminaliteit en overlast rond cannabis te beheersen.’
Het college wil ook het beleid veranderen met betrekking tot risicogroepen voor cannabisgebruik, bijvoorbeeld mensen die in behandeling zijn voor schizofrenie. Het doel van dit experiment is het excessief cannabisgebruik om te buigen naar gecontroleerd gebruik, aldus de gemeente. ‘Dit heeft plaats onder medisch toezicht of onder toezicht van een instelling voor geestelijke gezondheidszorg. Het cannabisgebruik onder medisch toezicht maakt onderdeel uit van het behandelplan voor deze groep.’
After a ridiculous 15-second speech sitting in a golf cart with a humongous umbrella on Monday, and a crazy rambling 1,5 hour performance in a golden robe with a model airplane above his head on Tuesday, Libyan dictator since 1969 and mass murderer billionaire (he’s got billions stored in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands) Muammar al-Gaddafi is set to give a speech again today. Watch it live here. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so horrendous.
- Update: I am amused to hear that Gadaffi keeps blaming ‘hallucinogenic pills’ for the current unrest.
- Update 2: It gets even better, I hadn’t noticed this at first. Gadaffi blames Osama bin Laden for putting ‘hallucinogenic pills in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe’. Man o man. The only one who’s on hallucinogenics is Gadaffi.
En toch, als we de politieke klasse moeten geloven, zijn andere middelen véél gevaarlijker en dodelijker en bovenal immoreler. Een biertje drinken daarentegen – of tien – is de normaalste zaak van de wereld.
Alcohol is verantwoordelijk voor bijna 4 procent van alle sterfgevallen wereldwijd, bijna 2,5 miljoen mensen. Dat is meer dan aids, tuberculose of geweld, liet de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie vrijdag weten. Alcohol is doodsoorzaak nummer één onder mannen van 15 tot en met 59 jaar.
Door stijgende inkomens zijn inwoners van Azië en Afrika meer gaan drinken. Daarnaast is overmatig drankgebruik een probleem in veel ontwikkelde landen, aldus de organisatie van de Verenigde Naties.
Volgens de WHO nemen de meeste regeringen te weinig maatregelen tegen de uitwassen van overmatig drankgebruik, zoals verkeersongelukken, geweld, kanker, verwaarlozing van kinderen en wegblijven van werk. Overal nuttigen mannen vaker gevaarlijke hoeveelheden alcohol dan vrouwen.