Archive for War on Drugs

DRUG WAR FACTS SPEAK VOLUMES FOR THE IDIOCY OF CURRENT DRUG POLICY

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , , , on October 6, 2013 by drjgelb

What can you do to encourage rational drug policy development?

Read the “Drug War Facts” book or Website so that you can take on discussion or debate on drug policy with confidence. Armed with the facts means emotive, hysterical and exaggerated arguments are totally unnecessary. The facts are so compelling as to shine a bright spotlight on the ideological, harmful and moronic drug policies known collectively worldwide as the “War on Drugs”. Here’s an idea to contemplate: A criminal named Richard M Nixon declared WAR ON DRUGS in 1970, without support from the vast majority of Medical experts. He possessed a vast knowledge and understanding of American History and was very familiar with the catastrophic impact of policies of Alcohol Prohibition imposed by the U.S. Government between 1920 and 1932. In those 12 short years, the American Mafia took control of every aspect of the Alcohol industry, from brewing, to transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sales, entertainment venues and bars and ensured public access to these venues by whatever means necessary……be it bribing law enforcement to look the other way, or constructing elaborate tunnels beneath city streets to link mob owned bars and clubs without putting patrons at risk of arrest and prosecution. And with such a monopoly, how much profit did the Mafia earn during “Prohibition”?

$2 Billion in 1920’s dollars!! Worth today an estimated $350,000,000,000!

This money bought the Mafia unprecedented Police co-operation and protection as well as political influence at the highest level, for the next 75yrs and supported a criminal enterprise that became, in New York at least, a rival underground government many times more deadly than that of the worst banana republic.

So here are the latest figures regarding the U.S. State & Federal war on its citizens:

WHAT’S NEW AT DRUG WAR FACTS – VOL. 3, NO. 9, OCTOBER 2013

ISSUE IN FOCUS: DRUG ARRESTS

The FBI recently released its Uniform Crime Report for 2012. They estimate that of the total 12,196,959 criminal arrests in the US that year, 1,552,432 were for drug violations. They further report that 82.2% of those, or 1,276,099 drug arrests, were for possession. To put these numbers in context, in 2012 US law enforcement also made an estimated 521,196 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,646,212 arrests for all property crimes.

In 2013, Professor Harry Levine of CUNY-Queens College estimated that on average, a marijuana possession arrest in New York City takes about 2.5 hours of police time. New York state essentially decriminalized simple marijuana possession in 1977.

[http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/3187#sthash.jnpMxMoa.dpbs]

If each drug possession arrest in the US took only 2.5 hours of police time, then it would mean 3,190,247.5 hours of police time were wasted in 2012 arresting drug users just for the crime of using drugs – not trafficking, not manufacture, just possession.

Next, consider this set of numbers. According to the FBI’s new UCR, quote: “In the nation in 2012, 46.8 percent of violent crimes and 19.0 percent of property crimes were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.” End quote. Those clearance rates are typical, in fact that’s the best property crime clearance rate in at least a decade and a half.

[http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/3493#sthash.0n5HWbtd.dpbs]

Marijuana arrests totaled 749,825 in 2012, down slightly from 2011’s total of 757,969. Marijuana possession accounted for 658,231 arrests – again slightly down from the 2011 total of 663,032. Looking at the year-to-year changes in arrest figures doesn’t reveal much, but examining data from several years can reveal trends. For example, in 2001, the U.S. had 1,586,902 criminal drug arrests out of a total 13,699,254 arrests. Of the drug arrests. 19.4 percent were for sale or manufacture, while the remaining 80.6% were for possession. In 2012, as I noted earlier, the 1,552,432 criminal drug arrests were 17.8 percent sale or manufacture and the remaining 82.2 percent were for possession. Back in 2001, 9.7 percent of all drug arrests were for sale or manufacturing of heroin,
cocaine, or their derivatives and 40.4 percent were for simple possession of marijuana. In 2012, only 6.1 percent of all drug arrests were for sale or manufacturing of heroin, cocaine, or their derivatives, and 42.4 percent were for simple possession of marijuana.

From 2003 through 2007, the US saw a rapid escalation in drug arrests. In 2003, the number jumped to 1,678,192 from 1,538,813 in 2002, then to 1,746,570 in 2004. Drug arrests in 2005-2007 topped 1.8 million per year, peaking in 2006 at1,889,810 drug arrests. The decline started in 2008, when US law enforcement made only 1,702,537 drug arrests.

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/235#sthash.V2SF6wK6.j2I3uzQy.dpbs

Advertisements

“DEFELONISATION” – NEW WORD, NEW WORLD?

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , , on October 5, 2013 by drjgelb

Today, comes news from “stopthedrugwar.org” that adds a further increment of hope to the mounting pile slowly accumulating on politicians’ doorsteps.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2013/oct/02/defelonization_next_step

“Defelonization”–The Next Step in Winding Down the Drug War.

Defelonization (with an “s” in Australia!) of drug possession is starting to take hold across the country. California looks set to join the list of states easing up, and Washington state could be next. Thirteen states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have already passed laws making simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony, and the momentum appears to be growing. A bill in California to do something similar has passed the legislature and is currently sitting on the governor’s desk, and efforts are afoot to push a defelonization measure through the Washington legislature next year.

An overcrowded California prison (supremecourtus.gov)

Such measures are designed to ease prison overcrowding, ease pressures on budgets, and help drug users by avoiding saddling them with felony convictions. They also reflect increasing frustration with decades of drug prohibition efforts that have failed to stop drug use, but have resulted in all sorts of collateral costs. In California alone, even after Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) prison realignment scheme, more than 4,000 people remain in state prisons on simple drug possession charges. At $47,000 per inmate per year [8], that comes out to more than a $200 million annual bill to state taxpayers. Under current California law, people convicted of a drug possession felony can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. More than 10,000 people are charged with drug possession felonies each year, although many of them receive probation if convicted.

California state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) moved to redress that situation with Senate Bill 649 [9], which passed the legislature on the final day of the session. The bill is not a defelonization bill per se; instead, it makes drug possession a “wobbler,” meaning it provides prosecutors with the flexibility to charge drug possession as either a felony or a misdemeanor. “Our system is broken,” said Lynne Lyman, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance [10], which supported the bill. “Felony sentences don’t reduce drug use and don’t persuade users to seek treatment, but instead, impose tremendous barriers to housing, education and employment after release — three things we know help keep people out of our criminal justice system and successfully reintegrating into their families and communities.”

Even Republicans got on board with the bill, helping to get it through the Assembly earlier this year.

California state Sen. Mark Leno (wikipedia.org); “I am proud that we got bipartisan support in the Assembly,” Leno told the Chronicle. The bill currently awaits Gov. Brown’s signature, and although his signature is not required for it to become law, Leno said he believed the governor would act on it, and he urged supporters to let the governor know now that they want him to sign it. “Anyone can go to the governor’s web site [11] and offer support through an email communication,” Leno said. “I am always hopeful he will sign it.”

While Californians wait for the governor to act (or not), activists and legislators in Washington are gearing up to place a defelonization bill before the legislature there next year. Sensible Washington [12], the activist group behind the effort, says it has lined up legislative sponsors for the bill and will pre-file in December for next year’s legislative session. State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) will be the primary sponsor of this proposal in the House. Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver), Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle), and Chris Reykdal (D-Tumwater) have all signed on as official cosponsors, with more to be announced soon. Sensible Washington hopes to have a companion bill filed simultaneously in the Senate.

Under current Washington law, the possession of any controlled substance (or over 40 grams of cannabis) is an automatic felony. Under this new proposal, the possession of a controlled substance — when not intended for distribution — would be reduced from a felony charge, to a misdemeanor (carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days, rather than five years). Laws regarding minors would not be affected. “Removing felony charges for simple drug possession is a smart, pragmatic approach to reducing some of the harms associated with the war on drugs,” said Anthony Martinelli, Sensible Washington’s communications director. “The goal is to stop labeling people as felons, filling up our prisons and ruining their lives in the process, for possessing a small amount of an illegal substance.”

He elaborated in a Tuesday interview with the Chronicle.

“We support full decriminalization, like the Portuguese model, but defelonization is a big step forward, and we feel that the public and lawmakers are ready for it,” he said. “We have to find a way to deal with the dangers of the war on drugs. Another reason is the massive disparity in our cannabis law — an ounce is legal, but an ounce and a half is a felony. This would remove felonies for cannabis possession, but we don’t think anyone should be hit over the head with a felony for personal drug possession.”Martinelli said Sensible Washington and its allies would be spending the next few months preparing to push the bill through the legislature. “We will be building public and legislative support, continuing to work on garnering media attention, activating our base, and getting more lawmakers on board,” he said. “We’re really trying to form a bipartisan coalition and get other organizations involved as well.”

One of those groups is the ACLU of Washington [13]. Sensible Washington and the ACLU of Washington were bitter foes in the fight over the state’s successful I-502 marijuana legalization initiative — Sensible Washington opposed it as a half-measure that endangered medical marijuana, a claim that ACLU and other advocates contested — but appear to be on the same page when it comes to this sentencing reform. “We support the decriminalization of drug use”, said Alison Holcomb, criminal justice project director for the ACLU of Washington. “We’re looking forward to working in collaboration with Sensible and its allies to achieve that goal.” Martinelli said he could now announce that the proposed bill has picked up its first Senate sponsor, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D), to add to its growing list of House sponsors.

Missing from that list of House sponsors is one of the most prominent drug reformers in the House, Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, but that’s not because he opposes the idea, Goodman told the Chronicle Tuesday. “As chair of the committee, it’s important for me to be an honest broker to get legislation through,” Goodman explained. “My position as chair is weakened if there is a potentially controversial issue and I’m seen as being on one side of it. It’s not that I oppose it, and I certainly will hold a hearing on it and move it, but my role is more to facilitate negotiations on provisions of the bill without being an interested party,” he said. “It is an idea that is certainly worth pursuing”, he said. “We need to reprioritize. The tough penalties we impose on people for merely possessing drugs is so arbitrary compared to the penalties for other offenses where there is direct physical harm perpetrated against others,” Goodman said. “And by now, we all acknowledge that drug possession is not merely an indiscretion, but might be linked to behavioral health issues. Our approach should be to facilitate therapeutic interventions. We have deferred prosecution programs already, but only for alcohol. Those arrested for drug possession are not eligible because it’s a felony. If we could make deferred prosecution available for drug cases, we could make much more headway on the problem,” he said. “And doing so would only codify what is already often existing practices”,he said. “Many or most courts and prosecutors are already pleading down felony drug cases to misdemeanors because of budget constraints and space limitations in the jails,” Goodman noted. “We can change the law to conform with that practice without an additional threat to public safety. Beyond that, we could remove the prejudicial effect of a felony conviction when it is so evident they hinder people from reintegrating into the community.”

While Sensible Washington and its allies are moving full steam ahead, passing the bill could be a multi-year effort, Goodman warned. “I anticipate prosecutors saying that if we set a certain possession threshold, drug dealers will make sure they possess no more than that amount and will play the system,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to find a threshold or divide possession cases into degrees. I hear the concern, but I’m not sure what the solution is. But this is a next important phase of drug policy reform: cranking down the drug war yet one more notch and doing what’s rational and fiscally responsible.” “There is lots of work to be done. We’ll see how this plays out in the legislature. It’s probably going to need more lobbying and more background discussion among more legislators,” he predicted. “So far, it’s not a real prominent topic, so it might end up being a work in progress. But who knows? It might catch on fire, and we’ll get a quick consensus.”

Defelonization News Feature State & Local Executive Branches State & Local Legislatures Washington Initiative 502
StoptheDrugWar.org • P.O. Box 18402 • Washington DC 20036
Phone (202) 293-8340 • Fax (202) 293-8344 • Email • Privacy Policy
Source URL: http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2013/oct/02/defelonization_next_step
Links:
[1] http://stopthedrugwar.org/user/psmith
[2] http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/803
[3] http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/255
[4] http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/92
[5] http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/156
[6] http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/45
[7] http://stopthedrugwar.org/taxonomy/term/246
[8] http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/laomenus/sections/crim_justice/6_cj_inmatecost.aspx
[9] http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0601-0650/sb_649_bill_20130912_enrolled.pdf

Nazis Used Meth: Five Things to Know About One of the World’s Favourite Stimulants

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , on June 22, 2013 by drjgelb

Below you will find a complimentary article to my previous post. Both appeared on ALTERNET this week and both are important in understanding why the War on Drugs is such a failure……….because it is so dishonest! One must keep in mind that the WOD was set in motion by Richard Nixon for ideological reasons. Nixon feared that drugs would embolden American youth to rebel against the Status Quo and thus threaten the political elites.

http://www.alternet.org/nazis-used-meth-5-things-know-about-one-worlds-favorite-stimulants

Nazis Used Meth: 5 Things to Know About One of the World’s Favourite Stimulants

As one who writes in defense of recreational “hard” drug users, I am frequently irked by the anti-drug sensationalism presented in supposedly objective news articles. An example is the recent front-page article in the Huffington Post, “ Nazis Took ‘Meth’ Pills to Stay Alert, Boost Endurance During World War II, Letters Reveal.”

Pairing methamphetamine with the Nazis is a double-the-evil masterstroke of front-page flair. It comes from a journalistic tradition that has similarly paired crack with black welfare queens in the mythic crack-baby epidemic, and cannibals and mephedrone in the nonsensical bath-salts cannibalism phenomenon. (Both the crack-baby and the bath-salts cannibalism stories have been debunked; see here and here.)

The basis of the Huffington Post article is that the Nazis gave their troops the drug Pervitin (pharmaceutical methamphetamine), in World War II. This is true, but the rest of the article is a lesson in spin.

1. Nothing New Here

First, the letters did not reveal anything new. Nazi use of Pervitin has been widely known for over seventy years. The letters themselves were old news as well. The only thing new was someone at the Huffington Post read Der Spiegel and realized Nazis plus meth equals web gold.

2. American Kids Are Prescribed Almost the Same Thing

Methamphetamine is a type of amphetamine that has essentially the same effect on the central nervous system as dextroamphetamine. Dextroamphetamine is in Adderall. The substantial difference between street methamphetamine and Adderall is not from their pharmacology but from dosage and administration. Adderall users take small doses by the ingestion of pills. Street users inject or smoke large doses. Injecting and smoking provides a shorter, but more intense, reaction to a drug. The Nazis distributed small doses in pill form, just as American doctors do today to our nation’s youth—with negligible addiction risk.

3. Allied Forces Did and Still Do Almost the Same Thing

During World War II over 72 million “energy tablets” were dispersed to the British military, and an even larger amount went to US forces. Amphetamines assisted in stopping Erwin “Desert Fox” Rommel and the German army in Northern Africa at the Second Battle of El Alamein where the British 24th Armoured Brigade fought without sleep for four straight days while losing heavy casualties.

Ironically, the American military went with amphetamines instead of methamphetamines because the former provided a better “subjective lift in mood.” In lay terms, the US chose amphetamine because it gave a better high, and they continued to use it. Decades later the US military’s usage of amphetamines per soldier in Vietnam dwarfed the usage of both the Germans and the Allies in World War II.

The amphetamine Dexedrine is still used by Air Force pilots today. In 2003, Colonel Peter Demitry, chief of the US Air Force surgeon-general’s science and technology division, said that Dexedrine, “has never been associated with a proven adverse outcome in a military operation. This is a common, legal, ethical, moral and correct application.” If the distribution of amphetamines caused significant troop addiction, it is doubtful the military would continue to use it.

4. Everyone Already Knows That Meth Is Bad

The requisite morality message that methamphetamine is bad is delivered in the article by saying its usage leads to the symptoms exhibited by extreme cases. Most people who try methamphetamine do not continue to use it regularly, much less become horribly addicted, and as someone who has spent time with middle-class methamphetamine users I can assure you meth mouth is as foreign to them as it is to diet-soda drinkers. (See meth/diet-soda mouth here.)

5. JFK Probably Did Meth, Too

The article points out that Adolf Hitler was given shots of methamphetamine by his quack doctor. The Nazis have not been alone in this regard. America’s President John F. Kennedy had the same done by his quack doctor, Max “Dr. Feelgood” Jacobsen. Jacobsen even accompanied Kennedy to his 1961 summit meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is unclear what type of amphetamine Jacobsen used in Kennedy’s mood-boosting shots, but an autopsy of another one of his patients revealed organs littered with methamphetamine.

Kennedy performed well despite his use of speed, as did the Nazi soldier in the Huffington Post article who wrote home begging for methamphetamine. (To see what Huffington Post defines as begging go here.) The Nazi soldier was Heinrich Boll. After the war Boll went on to write over 50 books and win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. This should not be surprising because, as the drug policy historian Edward M. Brecher has written, a large portion of the population was using amphetamines with little apparent misuse in the 1940s and 1950s. It was available without prescription until 1954 and was widely used by truck drivers and students to stay awake. And as fellow meth-media critic Jack Shafer has pointed out, the abuse that did occur was usually done swallowing pills of known potency and purity … unlike the smoking and injecting of adulterated amphetamines the drug war has now engendered.

Nothing in my article should be interpreted to belittle the tragedy of methamphetamine addiction, but to focus only on anecdotal stories of those suffering from extreme addiction produces a bizarrely skewed perception. If the only drinkers portrayed in the media were severe alcoholics, alcohol would be just as appalling to those with no experience with it. (It would arguably be even more appalling than meth if it too was forced onto the black market. Alcohol prohibition’s equivalent of makeshift meth labs produced alcohol that caused blindness, paralysis and death.)

By equating methamphetamine with Nazis, the Huffington Post has added to the sinister lore surrounding meth. This non-stop demonization and sensationalizing keeps the drug war going. It encourages people to believe that the locus of addiction is in the evil substance and not the user. It encourages people to believe that incarcerating every user and everybody in the supply-chain is better than helping the addicted with their underlying afflictions.

The drug war has had no effect on addiction rates, but it has cost Mexico alone over 50,000 lives in the last six years—over 10 times as many American lives lost in the Iraq war. It has turned large sections of our cities into wastelands and resulted in the mass incarceration of America’s black men. It has eroded the Bill of Rights like nothing else in America’s history. It is high time that someone sensationalized these evils.

Everything Americans Think They Know About Drugs Is Wrong: A Scientist Explodes the Myths

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , on June 22, 2013 by drjgelb

Today I just had to reblog the opinion pieces below that bring a new perspective to the entire issue of the War on Drugs.

http://www.alternet.org/drugs-addiction

Everything Americans Think They Know About Drugs Is Wrong: A Scientist Explodes the Myths

What many Americans, including many scientists, think they know about drugs is turning out to be totally wrong. For decades, drug war propaganda has brainwashed Americans into blaming drugs for problems ranging from crime to economic deprivation. In his new book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, Dr. Carl Hart blows apart the most common myths about drugs and their impact on society, drawing in part on his personal experience growing up in an impoverished Miami neighborhood. Dr. Hart has used marijuana and cocaine, carried guns, sold drugs, and participated in other petty crime, like shoplifting. A combination of what he calls choice and chance brought him to the Air Force and college, and finally made him the first black, tenured professor of sciences at Columbia University.

Intertwined with his story about the struggles of families and communities stressed by lack of capital and power over their surroundings is striking new research on substance use. Dr. Hart uses his life and work to reveal that drugs are not nearly as harmful as many think. For example, most people who use the most “addicting” drugs do not develop a problem. Rather, Dr. Hart says, drugs are scapegoated for problems related to poverty. The policies that result from this misconception are catastrophically misguided. AlterNet spoke with Dr. Hart about his life and research.

Kristen Gynne: What are some of the false conclusions about drugs you are challenging?

Carl Hart: There are multiple false conclusions. There is a belief, for example, that crack cocaine is so addictive it only took one hit to get hooked, and that it is impossible to use heroin without becoming addicted. There was another belief that methamphetamine users are cognitively impaired. All of these are myths that have have been perpetuated primarily by law enforcement, and law enforcement deals with a limited, select group of people—people who are, in many cases, behaving badly. But to generalize that to all drug users is not only shortsighted and naive, it’s also irresponsible. The impact of that irresponsible behavior has been borne primarily by black communities. Nobody really cares about black communities, and that’s why this irresponsible behavior has been allowed to continue.

It’s also true that we’ve missed critical opportunities to challenge our basic assumptions about drugs. If drugs really were as damaging as we are led to believe, a respectable society should do something to address that problem. But the thing is, the very assumptions driving our drug policy are wrong, and must be questioned.

KG: How does the lack of people of color in academia or research affect our understanding of drugs?

CH: I’d just like to be clear, I don’t say people of color, I say black people, because people of color can mean a number of other [races]. I’m talking about black people who, like me, when we go back to our communities and we ask about people who we grew up with, the response is, “Well, they got caught up with a drug charge, they’re upstate. They’re doing some time” or, “Oh, he’s doing better now that he got out of jail. He can’t really find a good job, but he’s doing his best.”

It would be nice if we had black scientists, more black people in science, to incorporate these kinds of experiences as they think about the questions they investigate. The problem is it’s so homogenous that critical questions about our community are ignored because they’re not seen as being important.

KG: And the result is that they don’t comprehend environment, or the other variables that are affecting someone’s decisions or behavior, and miss the mark?

CH: That’s exactly right. It’s that if you don’t contextualize what is happening with drugs in the country you might get the impression that drugs are so bad they’re causing all these people to go to jail: “Let’s find out how drugs are exerting these awful effects.” Now, you have just completely disregarded context in which all of these things occur, and that is what has happened in science. If you don’t fully appreciate the context, and you think that drug users are awful, then you don’t think about how a person takes care of their kid, takes care of their family, goes to work, but they also use drugs. If you don’t think about all of those contextual factors, you limit the picture and that’s what we’ve done.

It’s not that science lies. Science doesn’t lie. But when you look at your research with a limited view, you may erroneously draw conclusions about drugs, when in fact other variables you might not understand are what’s really at play.

KG: You talk about how people are always blaming problems on drugs, when those issues really spring from the stress of poverty. What are some examples?

CH: I think crack cocaine is the easiest example In the 1980s, as I was coming of age in my teens and my early 20s, people—black people, white folks, a number of people in the country—said crack was so awful it was causing women to give up their babies and neglect their children such that grandmothers had to raise another generation of children.

Now, if you look at the history in poor communities—my community, my family—long before crack ever hit the scene, that sort of thing happened in my house. We were raised by my grandmother. My mother went away because she and my father split up. She went away in search of better jobs and left the state, but it wasn’t just her. This sort of thing, this pathology that is attributed to drugs, happened to immigrant communities like the Eastern European Jews when they came to the Lower East SIde, but people simply blamed crack in the 1980s and the 1990s.

Another example is that, since the crack era, multiple studies have found that the effects of crack cocaine use during pregnancy do not create an epidemic of doomed black “crack babies.” Instead, crack-exposed children are growing up to lead normal lives, and studies have repeatedly found that the diferences between them and babies who were not exposed cannot be isolated from the health effects of growing up poor, without a stable, safe environment or access to healthcare.

KG: What about the idea that drugs can turn people into criminals?

CH: The pharmalogical effects of drugs rarely lead to crime, but the public conflates these issues regardless. If we were going to look at how pharmalogical drugs influence crime, we should probably look at alcohol. We know sometimes people get unruly when they drink, but the vast majority of people don’t. Certainly, we have given thousands of doses of crack cocaine and methamphetamine to people in our lab, and never had any problems with violence or anything like that. That tells you it’s not the pharmacology of the drug, but some interaction with the environment or environmental conditions, that would probably happen without the drug. Sure, new markets of illegal activity are often or sometimes associated with increased violence, or some other illegal activity, but it is not specific to drugs like people try to make it out to be.

Other than crime, you have myths that drugs cause cognitive impairment, make people unable to be productive members of society, or tear families apart. If the vast majority of people are using these drugs without problems—and a smaller proportion of users do have problems—what that tells you if you’re thinking critically is it can’t be only the drug, or mainly the drug. It tells you it is something about the individual situations, environmental conditions, a wide range of factors.

There are many accepted “facts” that turn out to have been erroneous assumptions, even some produced by science, for it takes humility, self-doubt and constant vigilance for the effects of conflicts of interest, to remain objective.

All too frequently, those with the loudest, most dogmatic and least objective views hold sway (The Dunning-Kruger Effect), derailing progress and wasting scarce resources.

The article above may give you reason to pause and consider the author’s comments in light of the dismal failure that is current drug policy. If politicians fail to suspend assumption and false beliefs in lieu of an unbiased & objective examination of the evidence, necessary findings & conclusions that must underpin decisions re drug policy, will be missed and the consequences of taking dead-end detours in this arena will serve only to perpetuate the current disaster for future generations.

THEY’RE SHEDDING “KROKODIL” TEARS!

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , , on June 9, 2013 by drjgelb

Overseas, the synthetic opioid “Krokodil” has been banned……in which country, I can’t recall but there are so many new compounds being rushed onto the street that a new one is out in the time it takes to spell “prohibition”!! Our legislators and policymakers will one day hang their heads in shame for shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, instead of leading the charge to drug policy reform! The article quoted another out of touch, cold-hearted clone, towing the company (government) line. They stick to it until addiction knocks on their door or the doors of their kids…….Then they suddenly see the light as they pull all possible strings to keep their family members out of jail……..pathetic really!!

“Dear Sir,

Another synthetic compound, made in filthy conditions where each batch contains anyone’s guess of combinations of toxic chemicals and social & medical harms rapidly appear & ravage the lives of young users.

And the typical response of governments, law enforcement & so-called drug policy experts?
More useless, dangerous, criminalising and irrational prohibition!! Why can’t the truth be told? That prohibition has a long historical record of failure, as predicted by all we know of human psychology. What I find remarkable is that prohibition proponents are able to continue to dismiss experts with a wave of the hand or as the Premier of our State wrote to me in response to my call for a supervised injecting facility similar to the over 650 existing world facilities, that whilst he is in power, we “will never, ever” have such a facility and that the death of heroin addicts is not as serious as “sending the wrong message to our youth”.

With ethics like that & lacking compassion commensurate with our current understanding of addiction as a disease of brain dopaminergic reward systems, it’s no wonder progress has been at a snail’s pace. Scientists, medicos, psychologists and all professionals educated about the drug problem at the coalface, must unite and demand an end to the war on drugs and begin the determined introduction of decriminalisation, rehabilitation, education & regulation as the four pillars of future drug policy in as many countries with the courage to bite the bullet and dismantle the status quo.

If this overview is rejected, it can be guaranteed that all other drug-control strategies will fail as prohibition continues to funnel huge profits to the variety of criminals involved – traditional, corporate and governmental.”

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Jerome Gelb
Psychiatrist

I NEED SOME HELP TO CHANGE ATTITUDES & MAKE PROGRESS

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , on May 22, 2013 by drjgelb

Prominent experts in Addiction are calling for the establishment of a Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) in Melbourne. The State Government isn’t listening. I wrote to a Professor involved in Addiction research who is advocating for a SIF, possibly in Richmond, an area where IV drug use is prominent.

“Dear Sir,

When the current VIC Government came to power, I wrote to the Premier & Police Minister requesting that serious consideration be given to the establishment of a supervised injecting facility (SIF) in Melbourne, based on evidence of their efficacy internationally (over 600 facilities) and in Kings Cross.

I received a shocking, prejudiced & ignorant response from the Victorian Government. Apart from stating “Never, ever” to the very idea, the response made two key points:

1. It would send the “wrong message” to Victorian youth”.

2. The response acknowledged that Government policy re SIF would lead to more overdose deaths than would otherwise occur but this was a price the Government was prepared to pay to protect young Victorians!

I rebutted these excuses in my reply to the above, quoting research done in Australia & Canada & pointing out the views on this matter by leading AOD researchers & clinicians. I got NO response whatsoever from these miserable politicians!

My question to you is, are you able to bend the Government’s ear to this issue & convince them that it’s a no-brainer that’s long overdue!

85% of politicians today are lawyers. They craft the legislation, determine whether alleged breaches of the law have occurred, choose to prosecute or not, try the charges, judge defendants, impose penalties that can include long term deprivation of liberty & administer Corrections. They review legislation & propose reforms when & how they wish. Other lawyers determine whether or not reforms will or will not be implemented. When things go badly wrong, a senior lawyer is often tasked with leading an inquiry into what went wrong and why, from which more recommendations flow. The above circus, in which one privileged profession has assumed the vast bulk of available power & influence on how our country is run, is ironically called a Democracy!

This bizarre situation has led to experts being ignored and or overruled by politicians with the massive conflict of interest of requiring public support to remain in power, influence & wealth.

Why my little statement on Civics? ……..to emphasise that I will understand if you, like me, have tried and failed to be taken seriously & have had your expertise ignored or dismissed.

If you have not attempted or recommended the establishment of a SIF, perhaps you could tell me why not?

Finally, given the extreme unlikelihood of our political system changing anytime soon, let’s hope that the mooted Heroin Vaccine, arrives very soon. With Addiction still not considered a “disease” by some experts (NOT the American Society of Addiction Medicine), the Government and much of the public, we continue to allow stigma & bigotry to blight the lives of its victims. Worse still, thousands of sick citizens are incarcerated in prisons, their freedom lost, due to the predictable behavioural symptoms and consequences of the disease of “Addiction” and the failed, irrational policies of Prohibition.

Please reply – I don’t know what to do next to effect change. Assisting in the sounding of the alarm has been Step One, even if the Government simply hits the “SNOOZE” button but I’d much prefer to facilitate meaningful attitudinal & practical change.”

“Why Good Parents Should Support Drug Legalisation”

Posted in WAR ON DRUGS with tags , , , on May 2, 2013 by drjgelb

I’ve followed this debate on the “Drug Talk” mail-list with interest & just want to make a comment that’s possibly stating the obvious but is worth noting nonetheless.

As stated clearly in the 2012 consensus statement of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the definition of addiction is:

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

http://www.asam.org/advocacy/find-a-policy-statement/view-policy-statement/public-policy-statements/2011/12/15/the-definition-of-addiction

The above is a condensation of the full 8page statement.

Primary in the definition is the phrase “a primary disease”, putting to rest fallacious notions of personality, weakness, personal choice, willpower & all the other stigma producing concepts that are to be consigned to the dustbin of history, as has already happened with many other incorrect theories of human behaviour. The disease model of addiction is no longer a “theory”. Primary Research is rushing headlong into the task of determining the genetic defects underlying the disease & as is the case for most non-infective disease, treatment of addiction will evolve towards
various forms of genomic defect correction or amelioration. Successful treatment of addiction will result in dissolution of the symptoms of the disease, including those that are the source of so much of the stigma, discrimination & vilification of addicts today.

Approximately 10% of regular users of any psychoactive substance become “addicted” to that substance, the remainder able to start & stop the substance without developing the addiction syndrome.

Prohibition of substances is a very ineffective way to treat addiction as the majority can use or not use the substance as their whim dictates, whilst those addicted will go to extremes to obtain their substance of choice, regardless of legal sanctions.

Prohibition criminalises addict (diseased) & non-addict (recreation, pleasure, personal choice) alike, costs the state enormously, wastes precious resources better spent on treatment & simply does not work in reducing consumption.

Education, regulation & easy access to treatment have been phenomenally successful tools in reducing tobacco consumption & would be equally valuable if applied to alcohol and drugs now considered illicit.

Despite governments’ cynical exploitation of the “war on drugs” to gain “tough on crime” votes, the relentless march of scientific progress will reveal the cruelty of so many current approaches.

%d bloggers like this: