This socially constructed bifurcation of substances established a Drugs Apartheid that outlawed particular drugs so what we have is a 'War between Drugs' that ultimately became a war on people who used substances that didn't have government approval.
Black and Minority Ethnic groups and the discarded working class have been major casualties in this war. Radical drug law reform rooted in scientific evidence and human rights is needed to end the oppressive and unjust drug laws that have caused more harm than good.
While there is some understandable excitement and celebration at seeing prohibition begin to crumble - these are critical, if not dangerous times of change. Using international examples this lecture will outline the need for change, critically evaluate the risks of particular drug policy changes and explore principles to underpin drug law reform.
Utah is considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of marijuana. If the bill passes, the state's wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for the plant, lose their fear of humans, and basically be high all the time. That's according to testimony presented to a Utah Senate panel (time stamp 58:00) last week by an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
How did nature and the human race possibly survive before the the Drug Wars?
Confession: I’ve got a stash of empty 5-Hour Energy bottles behind my desk and several two-packs tucked in my cupboard. I grabbed a bottle at the grocery store the other day, and when I reached for my wallet, I found three partially drained ones already in my purse. Someone saw an energy drink in my editor’s office and knew right away it was mine. “I thought Lonnae had given those up,” he said.
Health Poverty Action has launched a report calling for the global development sector to rethink its approach to the failing War on Drugs.
Entitled ‘Casualties of War: How the War on Drugs is harming the world’s poorest’, the report emphasises how drugs policy is very much a development issue.
Since the mid-twentieth century, global drug policy has been dominated by strict prohibition, which tries to force people to stop possessing, using and producing drugs by making them illegal.
This approach, which has come to be known as the ‘War on Drugs’, has not only failed to achieve its goals – it is fuelling poverty, undermining health, and failing some of the poorest and most marginalised communities worldwide.
Good to see a broad cross section of people recognising the damage and devastation caused by the drug wars: Reform is coming.
17 years ago I argued:
‘The more you prohibit drugs and push them underground, the more conducive the economic and social environment for a lucrative illegal drug trade ...It is difficult to understand how waging ‘war on drugs’ can continue to be justified ...Sooner or later an influential western nation will have to lead the way in a radical rethink of international and national drug policy ...Sooner rather than later, the government must address decriminalisation ...authorities have effectively been waging war against their own socially excluded communities...drug users will continue to be forced into criminal activity, ...a continued policy of prohibition will lead to more dangerous and hostile environments. The illegal drug industry will thrive and becoming increasingly more established and organisationally more business-like.’ (p220-222)
Buchanan, J. & Young L (1998) ‘Failing to Grasp the Nettle: UK Drug Policy’ Probation Journal Vol. 45 No. 4
Switzerland opened the world's first such center in 1986, and has been followed by other countries including the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Australia and Denmark. Not only do these centers help tackle the rate of HIV and other blood-borne viruses among injecting drug users (IDUs) -- from 1993-2006 new cases of HIV among IDUs in Switzerland fell from 498 to 61 -- they virtually eliminate the risk of fatal overdose; in Canada's MSIC in Vancouver (opened in 2003), there has never been an overdose death, for example.
A good example of an evidenced based approach to significantly reduce drug policy harm!
A ballot measure approved by Alaska voters to legalize the recreational use of marijuana took effect on Tuesday. Adults 21 and older are now allowed to possess up to an ounce of pot and up to six plants. Smoking
WASHINGTON -- The federal government is cracking down on drug courts that refuse to let opioid addicts access medical treatments such as Suboxone, said Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Pol...
Patients who received HAT showed better outcomes compared with those not on HAT. The results of this study strengthen the evidence showing that HAT can improve and stabilise the health of long-term heroin users with severe comorbidities and high mortality.
It illustrates how the set and the settings are the main issues not the substance.
It has been observed that "not only does the disease theory of alcoholism fail to correspond with mainstream medicine's concept of a disease, but alcoholism itself resists medical intervention."54 Using a faulty theory and the "treatment" that flows from it is a recipe for failure. AA's self-claimed success rate of 5% represents a failure because about one-third of alcoholics achieve success completely on their own. Attending AA is less effective than not doing so.
It's not surprising that the disease theory of alcoholism has proved to be such a disappointing failure. Those few people who achieve their goal of not drinking (or of drinking in moderation) while attending disease theory 12-step programs such as AA do so in spite of those programs.
The good news is that alternative approaches exist that have been proven to be very effective in helping people reach their goal of either reducing or eliminating their drinking.
"We'd be constantly chasing a bouncing ball, because the products would constantly evolve and change to fall outwith the banning orders," he said.
"All they (the suppliers) do is to change the molecular structure of the compound by the slightest bit."
He said police would like to see the burden of proof altered so suppliers were obliged to show their drugs were safe.
Sounds very similar to what they were saying in New Zealand - who ended up devising a new law that banned every NPS past, present and future - albeit with a hypothetical pathway to approve some substances if proved safe.
If drugs are dangerous - then reduce those dangers, by regulating them, testing them so people know what they are taking, and through social and health education - let people know what the risks are.
Prohibition is the government reneging responsibility while masquerading as intervention, and perversely it makes drug taking much more dangerous for the user and the wider community.
Making personal possession of any drug a criminal offence, is in my view, a breach of the principle of human rights.
Nutt et al’s study is one of the first scientific based assessment of the harms posed by drugs legal and illegal (Although I wish they’d have included caffeine). Whereas in contrast the present legal - illegal separation, and the scheduling of drugs by the UN Single Convention seriously lacks any scientific credibility, indeed if there ever was any science to support it.
So the work published in the Lancet (2007 & later in 2010) is a much needed start scientific - it’s not as this article suggests flawed, it is contested. There will never be a definitive scale of impact/harm, it depends upon the person and their environment, and not just the drug. But Nutt et al’s work is welcomed as a shift towards evidence, reason and science - rather than propaganda, racism and politics.
Also the graph presented within the article above provides an indication of cannabis induced car accidents, and I suspect that data is flawed! I suspect it is showing fatal car accidents where cannabis was present. Cannabis may have been in the bloodstream, but whether the driver was under the influence of cannabis was not established. That data probably misleadingly showed presence as impairment.
It's easy to imagine what would happen were alcohol discovered today, with reports of 'NEW KILLER DRUG' plastered all over the tabloids as terrified witnesses reported seeing "addicts" staggering around the streets, falling down, wailing and vomiting in the gutter.
Filmed on the plains of north-western New South Wales, this documentary looks at one man's fight against the scourge of indigenous imprisonment in his community
Australia’s First Nation People endure Alienation, Poverty, Inequality, Systematic Institutionalised Discrimination so inevitably unemployment, crime, prison, alcohol, drug dependence, suicide, mental health issues, poor life expectancy become endemic problems ...this is essentially a structural problem not a pathological problem.
This is grim watching about injustice at an individual, cultural and structural level.
Slovak media have reported on the proposed decriminalisation of illicit substances several times over the past two years. According to this news, the new law would end imprisonment for possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. Possession of small amounts would instead become a simple misdemeanour. This would apply to all substances presently listed as illicit.
The view of addiction from Rat Park is that today’s flood of addiction is occurring because our hyperindividualistic, hypercompetitive, frantic, crisis-ridden society makes most people feel social and culturally isolated. Chronic isolation causes people to look for relief. They find temporary relief in addiction to drugs or any of a thousand other habits and pursuits because addiction allows them to escape from their feelings, to deaden their senses, and to experience an addictive lifestyle as a substitute for a full life.
At this point, it is too early to say conclusively if the Rat Park view of addiction is right or not, but it is not too early to be sure that the old theory that addiction is a problem caused by addictive drugs is far too simple. Huge amounts of research money have been spent researching the idea that addictive drugs are the cause of addiction and treatments based on that idea have been tried over the world. In the meantime, the once-small problem of addiction has globalized. Moreover, it has become absolutely clear that drug and alcohol addiction is only a corner of a much larger addiction problem!
It is definitely time for a fresh direction in the theory of addiction, and I have a hunch – as well as a hope – that Rat Park might provide the starting point. The next steps from this starting point are explained in my book The Globalization of Addiction: A study in poverty of the spirit. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).
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