Monday, 31 August 2009

Mexico Decriminalises All Drugs (for small amounts) - The Start of a Trend in South America?

Last week, the Mexican government signed into law, the decriminalisation of small amounts of drugs including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines, cannabis, LSD etc. The law slipped through quietly with virtually no media uproar or condemnation as the country remained focussed on the bigger drug war involving the cartels. Most surprising was the lack of response from the US government. In 2006, an almost identical bill passed by congress was not signed by the Mexican president, Vicente Fox at the last moment after pressure from the Bush administration. The US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske remains unusually quiet compared to his hard core predecessors and when questioned, said he will, “wait and see”.

A few days later, Agentina’s supreme court ruled that penalising people for using cannabis when it didn’t effect anyone else, was unconstitutional. Is this the start of a new trend in South America that rejects the strict prohibitionist strategies of the last 40 years? Is South America leading a revolt against the US stranglehold on the UNODC and world drug policies? Has South America had enough of being a scapegoat for the US and their insatiable hunger for illicit drugs? But not all countries in South America are in a hurry to distance themselves from Washington. A few weeks ago, Colombia signed an agreement with the United States allowing them to use local military bases for continuing drug operations. Columbia already has a strained relationship with neighbouring countries over it’s US ties and a move to allow the DEA and the CIA to use their military bases has been deplored by most South American leaders. Venezuela and Ecuador currently do not have diplomatic relations with Columbia.

Argentina And Legalizing Pot
The Week
August 2009

Argentina follows Mexico toward decriminalizing marijuana. What does this mean for the war on drugs?

The war on drugs is getting complicated, said Jacob Sullum in Reason. Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that it’s unconstitutional to punish adults for private marijuana use, a big step toward decriminalizing the drug. The ruling is based on the “privacy clause” of Argentina’s constitution—private pot use doesn’t “offend public order or morality”—but it comes just days after Mexico eliminated criminal penalties for holding small amounts of drugs. And Brazil and Ecuador are close behind.

That’s not a coincidence, said Alexi Barrionuevo in The New York Times. From Mexico to Argentina there’s “an urgent desire to reject decades of American prescriptions for distinctly Latin American challenges,” including drugs. In February, ex-presidents of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia called the U.S. “war on drugs” a “failure,” and urged Latin America to adopt the less-punitive “drug policies found in some European countries.”

The report from the three leaders may be a “big factor” in the Argentine ruling, said Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy, as well as the region’s “major rethink on drug policy.” But it “remains to be seen” if it will have any impact north of the border. U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is taking a “wait-and-see attitude,” but President Obama has too much on his plate to “touch drug policy right now.”

Latin American leaders, especially in Mexico, wish he would, said Katie Hammel in Gadling. But while a drug policy that focuses “more on reducing harm to drug users and society” wouldn’t be a new approach to the war on drugs, I don’t see it happening “any time soon” in the U.S. Meanwhile, I’ll “stick to booze.”

Thursday, 27 August 2009

How to Cure Devine Madness - Call Dr. Wodak

At last! A sensible drug related opinion piece from the Sydney Morning Herald NOT written by Miranda Devine. Instead, we are treated to some much needed wisdom from Australia’s leading advocate for drug reform, Dr. Alex Wodak.

I would be safe in saying that many readers are sick of reading selectively researched and totally biased dribble from the Devine Miranda. You see, Dr. Wodak is an expert in his field and relies on medical facts, science and human compassion. This is a stark dichotomy compared to Miranda Devine. Appealing to the ignorant masses or stroking the ideological G-spot of anti-drug zealots may be Devines forte but it just uncovers her real agenda ... her belief that drug use is a moral issue and drug users need to be punished. Ironically, it’s Devine who regularly accuses Dr. Wodak and other medical professionals as having an agenda under the guise of that evil scourge called Harm Minimisation. The very policy that has saved millions of lives, given hope to desperate addicts and aims to treat people humanely. According to Devine, these “elitists” who support Harm Minimisation have a secret agenda to legalise drugs and they must be stopped. But what Devine and other prohibitionists conveniently overlook is that drug reformers simply want a system that works better than the current "War on Drugs" strategy. And their reasoning is simple ... drug use and addiction is a medical/social issue, not a law & order problem stemming from a moral decision to use drugs. It’s the likes of Miranda Devine who simplify an extremely complex issue to what they consider is right or wrong, good or bad, righteous or sinful, holy or evil. No wonder one side consists of doctors, specialists, medical experts, scientists, researchers, welfare workers, academics, realists, human rights supporters etc. and the other side is made up of moral crusaders, the religious right, modern conservatives, evangelists, born again Christians, politicians, the ignorant, neocons etc. Who would you trust?

Tide Turns In Favour Of Drug Reform
By Alex Wodak
Sydney Morning Herald
August 2009

One hundred years ago, the US convened the International Opium Conference. This meeting of 13 nations in Shanghai was the beginning of global drug prohibition.

Prohibition slowly became one of the most universally applied policies in the world. But a century on, international support for this blanket drug policy is slowly but inexorably unravelling.

In January, Barack Obama became the third US president in a row to admit to consumption of cannabis. Bill Clinton had admitted using cannabis but denied ever inhaling it. George Bush was taped saying in private he would never admit in public to having used cannabis. When Obama was asked whether he had inhaled cannabis, he said: ''Of course. That was the whole point.''

Obama has candidly discussed his drug use. ''Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow [cocaine] when you could afford it.'' He has also admitted the ''war on drugs is an utter failure'' and called for more focus on a public health approach.

In February, a Latin American drug policy commission similarly concluded that the ''drug war is a failure''. It recommended breaking the ''taboo on open debate including about cannabis decriminalisation''. The same month, an American diplomat said the US supported needle-exchange programs to help reduce the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases, and supported using medication to treat those addicted to opiates.

In March, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs met in Vienna as the culmination of a 10-year review of global drug policy. A ''political declaration'' was issued which, at the urging of the US, excluded the phrase ''harm reduction''. This omission caused a split in the fragile international consensus on drug policy and resulted in 26 countries, including Australia, demanding explicit support for harm reduction in a footnote.

In April, Michel Kazatchkine, of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, argued in favour of decriminalising illicit drugs to allow efforts to halt the spread of HIV to succeed. The same month, a national Zogby poll in the US provided evidence of changing opinion on the legalisation of cannabis: 52 per cent supported cannabis becoming legal, taxed and regulated.

In May there was movement on several fronts. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said: ''I think it's not time for [legalisation], but I think it's time for a debate.'' He was supported by a number of other American politicians, while Vicente Fox, a former Mexican president, said he was not yet convinced it was the solution but asked: ''Why not discuss it?'' The Colombian Vice-President, Francisco Santos Calderon, is already convinced. ''The only way you can really solve the problem [is] if you legalise it totally.''

Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he wanted to banish the idea of fighting a ''war on drugs'', while the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said criminal sanctions on same-sex sex, commercial sex and drug injections were barriers for HIV treatment services. ''Those behaviours should be decriminalised, and people addicted to drugs should receive health services for the treatment of their addiction,'' he said.

In Germany, the federal parliament voted 63 per cent in favour to allow heroin prescription treatment.

In July, the Economic and Social Council, a UN body more senior than the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, approved a resolution requiring national governments to provide ''services for injecting drug users in all settings, including prisons'' and harm reduction programs such as needle syringe programs and substitution treatment for heroin users. This month, Mexico removed criminal sanctions for possessing any illicit drug in small quantities while Argentina is making similar changes for cannabis.

Portugal, Spain and Italy had earlier dropped criminal sanctions for possessing small amounts of any illicit drug, while the Netherlands and Germany have achieved the same effect by changing policing policy.

It is now clear that support for a drug policy heavily reliant on law enforcement is dwindling in Western Europe, the US and South America, while support for harm reduction and drug law reform is growing. Sooner or later this debate will start again in Australia.

Alex Wodak is director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital.

Related Articles:
The Ballad Of Alex And Miranda
Miranda Devine Vs. Reality
A Devine Nutter & That Booklet
Miranda Devine - Bitch Slapped by the Doctor
Are Flat Earth Journalist Intelligent? No ... Just Dangerous

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Canadian Gov Reneges on Funding for 2nd Phase Heroin Trials (SALOME)

I had just finshed writing about the success of the latest study by the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) when I stumbled on a news article titled, “Rehab centre upset after Quebec pulls funds for heroin study”. Slightly confused, I quickly read the article and discovered that the fucked up Harper government in Canada were again playing god with people’s lives and putting their ideology before science. Just days after the New England Journal of Medicine published the positive results for Canada’s latest heroin trial, the Harper Government has pulled funding for the second phase of the study called SALOME.

What is the NAOMI clinical trial? (Phase 1)
The North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) was a randomized trial aimed at testing whether medically prescribed diacetylmorphine, the active ingredient in heroin, was more efficient than methadone therapy for individuals with chronic opioid dependence who were not benefiting from other conventional treatments. The results show that patients treated with injectable diacetylmorphine were more likely to stay in treatment and more likely to reduce their use of illegal drugs and other illegal activities than patients treated with oral methadone.
-SALOME Clinical Trial Questions and Answers

What is the SALOME clinical trial? (Phase 2)
The Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness is a clinical trial that will test whether diacetylmorphine, the active ingredient of heroin, is as good as hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), a licensed medication, in benefiting people suffering from chronic opioid addiction who are not benefiting sufficiently from other treatments. Also, this study will test if those effectively treated with these 2 injectable medications can be successfully switched and retained to the oral formulations of the medications.
-SALOME Clinical Trial Questions and Answers

It has always surprised me that the conservative Canadian government actually agreed to fund this study but to pull out as soon as the first study produced such positive results raises my suspicions. Were they expecting the trial of heroin assisted treatment (HAT) to fail? Was the promise to fund the 2nd phase just empty rhetoric with the expectations that they would never have to fund part two of a failed study? Considering that the government has just recently introduced new harsher laws for small time drug users including mandatory sentencing and the success of the latest heroin trials, how can we not be suspicious of the Harper Government’s motives.

Rehab Centre Upset After Quebec Pulls Funds For Heroin Study
The Gazette
By Aaron Derfel
August 2009

A Montreal drug-treatment centre is accusing the provincial government of playing politics in killing funding for a three-year study to treat heroin addiction.

The cancellation of the $600,000 grant follows the publication this week of a study showing that giving heroin to hard-core addicts at the centre's supervised clinic leads to higher rates of recovery.

"We're very surprised because all the discussions that we had with the (Social Services) minister in the last few weeks were very positive," said Eric Fabrès, the centre's co-ordinator of quality services. "We can't understand why the minister has changed her position. ... But we find it very peculiar that at the moment that we published the results in the New England Journal of Medicine, the minister decided to withdraw her support from the project."

The study, titled the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), sought to analyze whether heroin-assisted therapy offers more benefit to addicts who want to kick their habit than standard methadone treatment.

The researchers monitored 251 addicts in Montreal and Vancouver. In Montreal, addicts were given heroin at the Centre de recherche et d'aide pour narcomanes.

The study found that among addicts who received heroin by injection, 88 per cent completed the recovery program, compared with a 54-per-cent completion rate for those who took oral methadone.

But researchers also discovered that 10 per cent of addicts who took Dilaudid, a legal prescription opiate known as hydromorphone, did as well as those on heroin.

For the second phase of the research, titled SALOME (Study to

Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness), scientists wanted to compare heroin and Dilaudid for a three-year period.

The rationale is that if Dilaudid is truly as good as heroin in helping diehard addicts recover, it would solve the legal problem of having to use heroin, Fabrès said.

"But without the funding, the project is dead," he added.

Geneviève Trudel, political attaché to Social Services Minister Lise Thériault, said the decision to cancel the grant was simply cost-cutting.

Related Articles:
Canada Provides the Final Proof Needed for Heroin Assisted Treatment
Quebec's landmark heroin study in jeopardy
SALOME: Clinical Trial Questions and Answers

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Canada Provides the Final Proof Needed for Heroin Assisted Treatment

Once again, a trial of prescription heroin for long term addicts has proven to be superior to other treatments including Methadone Maintenance Treatment(MMT), buprenorphine and abstinence programs. The results of the study from the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) in Canada has been eagerly awaited as the final proof that heroin assisted treatment (HAT) is indeed a viable and effective solution. Of course, it’s just conversation unless more countries implement it as part of their drug treatment policy & health plans. I especially want the Australian government to look at the evidence and continue on from where the ACT trials abruptly ended. There’s no John Howard anymore to veto an almost unanimous decision and no Major Brian Watters to misrepresent the ANCD. More importantly, there is now more evidence than ever before and a almost universal acceptance that HAT is the most effective treatment for long term heroin addiction.
Study Backs Heroin to Treat Addiction New York Times By Benedict Carey August 2009 The safest and most effective treatment for hard-core heroin addicts who fail to control their habit using methadone or other treatments may be their drug of choice, in prescription form, researchers are reporting after the first rigorous test of the approach performed in North America. For years, European countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands have allowed doctors to provide some addicts with prescription heroin as an alternative to buying drugs on the street. The treatment is safe and keeps addicts out of trouble, studies have found, but it is controversial — not only because the drug is illegal but also because policy makers worry that treating with heroin may exacerbate the habit. The study, appearing in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, may put some of those concerns to rest. “It showed that heroin works better than methadone in this population of users, and patients will be more willing to take it,” said Dr. Joshua Boverman, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Perhaps the biggest weakness of methadone treatment, Dr. Boverman said, is that “many patients don’t want to take it; they just don’t like it.” In the study, researchers in Canada enrolled 226 addicts with longstanding habits who had failed to improve using other methods, including methadone maintenance therapy. Doctors consider methadone, a chemical cousin to heroin that prevents withdrawal but does not induce the same high, to be the best treatment for narcotic addiction. A newer drug, buprenorphine, is also effective. The Canadian researchers randomly assigned about half of the addicts to receive methadone and the other half to receive daily injections of diacetylmorphine, the active ingredient in heroin. After a year, 88 percent of those receiving the heroin compound were still in the study, and two-thirds of them had significantly curtailed their illicit activities, including the use of street drugs. In the methadone group, 54 percent were still in the study and 48 percent had curbed illicit activities. “The main finding is that, for this group that is generally written off, both methadone and prescription heroin can provide real benefits,” said the senior author, Martin T. Schechter, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Those taking the heroin injections did suffer more side effects; there were 10 overdoses and six seizures. But Dr. Schechter said there was no evidence of abuse. The average dosage the subjects took was 450 milligrams, well below the 1,000-milligram maximum level. About 663,000 Americans are regular users of heroin, according to government estimates. The researchers said 15 percent to 25 percent of them were heavy users and could benefit from prescription heroin. That is, if they ever were to get the chance. Heroin is an illegal, Schedule 1 substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and serves no legitimate medical purpose. That designation is unlikely to change soon, researchers suspect. In an editorial with the article, Virginia Berridge of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded, “The rise and fall of methods of treatment in this controversial area owe their rationale to evidence, but they also often owe more to the politics of the situation.”

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Propaganda Files - The Netherlands

Enough Lies: The Netherlands Drug Policy Does Work
FACT: Compared to the Netherlands, which allows purchase and possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, the United States had double the rate of marijuana use overall, with nearly three times as many youths trying marijuana by age 15.
-Marijuana Policy Project 2008
I have just read another article explaining why cannabis legalisation won’t work. And their proof ... The Netherlands. Prohibitionists and moral crusaders portray The Netherlands, especially Amsterdam as some sort of amoral hell where the streets are lined with prostitutes and everyone has to step over strung out junkies in the gutter. A demised nation lost in a selfish orgy of forbidden flesh and rampant drug use. Jeepers, even I wouldn’t go there.

Organisation: Various
Campaign: The Netherlands Drug Policy / Cannabis “Coffee Shops”
When: 1976 -

Propaganda: 9/10
Laugh Out Loud Rating: 7/10

... However, I have lived in the Netherlands for a five-year period. And frankly, I don’t want to see what takes place there happening here. The city of Amsterdam is awash with drugs and crime. Indeed, drug-related crime is four times the rate of the US. You can’t walk down a street of central Amsterdam without being accosted by drug pushers and addicts. I lost count of how many times our push bikes were stolen by the druggies to help support their habits. I don’t want that cesspool of crime, drugs and violence to be replicated here.
-Bill Muehlenberg: CultureWatch

This is of course so far from the truth, it only incites humour in those who aren’t ignorant or are well travelled. The Netherlands is actual conservative compared to other western countries and has some amazing countryside including the beautiful city of Amsterdam. The lifestyle is uniquely European which might be a tad confronting for those used to massive shopping malls and other US influenced cityscapes. Yes, there are druggies, prostitutes and other public inconveniences that the non European drug warriors like to focus on but there needs to be some perspective. Compared to the large US slums, Vancouver's downtown east side or Kings Cross on a Saturday night, Amsterdam is a like a walk through a flowery suburb of the North Shore of Sydney. I remember reading about a journalist looking for crack cocaine in Amsterdam where it took him 35 minutes to find with the help of a local addict. He was only able to find one dealer of any drug and he had to get it from someone else. The same task would take 5 minutes in any major US city. The journalist reported that he encountered no junkies lying in gutters but instead was entertained by a local church music ensemble. What struck him most was how clean and family orientated the streets were compared to his experience back in the USA.
You can't walk down the street in Amsterdam without tripping over junkies
-US Drug Czar

I've visited their parks. Their children walk around like zombies
-Lee Brown - Head of the US Office for National Drug Control Policy

Bill O'Reilly - The Poster Boy for Anti-Drug Conservatives
Fox News monkey-man, Bill O’Reilly is joined by a fellow Fox News monkey-woman and some GOP strategist for what must be the most ludicrous description of The Netherlands ever seen on T.V. The story is actually about how the radical left have exploded since Barrack Obama became president of the USA but The Netherlands are put on display as what can happen if conservatives values are overlooked for liberal freedoms. I must point out to any extreme right wing nutters reading this that the perceived image of The Netherlands portrayed by the 3 casuistic hosts is laughable.

Click here for a quick rebuttal of Fox’s claims.

Anne Bressington
Anne Bressington once claimed that the term, "War on Drugs" was coined by the legalisation movement to get people on their side. So you can only imagine what she has said about The Netherlands. Here are some of her gems:
In 1993 the National Intelligence Report (AFP) stated that the streets had been flooded with a new hybrid of cannabis known as “mad weed”. It was called madweed because in Europe it was responsible for psychotic episodes even after one time use. It originated in the Netherlands and the THC content tested as high as 30%.
-Anne Bressington Media Release(Dec. 2006) - Adelaide Is “Cannabis Capital Of The World”
We are like the Netherlands, she says; we may not have cannabis cafes but if you know the right places all you have to do is ask. “I did a tour of Hutt Street this morning,” she said. “I saw people shooting up next to a charity drop-in centre, they score, go into an abandoned paddock next door and they’re all sitting around shooting up. I was told if I wanted drugs to go to the compound, the Caltex station in Hutt Street at 10 a.m. but be there a bit early because its pension day so there will be a bit of a line-up. It’s frightening.”
-Penelope Debelle - "Accidental” MP Finds Her Feet (Article about Anne Bressington) (2004)
What is it that politicians and some doctors do not understand about drug policy? In Sweden where drug use is one third of other European countries and where less than 2% of their youth use drugs like cannabis and amphetamines we could look to them for solutions. Instead we continue to replicate the Netherlands policies that have failed dismally.
-Anne Bressington Media Release(Dec. 2006) - Politicians At Raves & Doctors Giving Up On Drug Abuse
Very soon we are going to hear Dr Caldicott and his crew go ‘We must look to the Netherlands for our drug policy’ because we have even outstripped the Netherlands. We have doubled the Netherlands’ drug use in this country. Who would have ever thought? Do not be fooled by the Netherlands having half the drug use that we have because it has an almost legalised, decriminalised system. It is because in this country we have gone to sleep at the wheel. We have taken our eye off the ball and we have allowed this problem to disintegrate to a point where our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives are affected and it is not going to get better if we do not change what we do.

Dr Caldicott himself has admitted that one of the costs of having harm minimisation in this country is that we will have more people using drugs, but best to have them using drugs and keeping them alive than having them die in the gutter. Now, I do not quite get the logic.
-Anne Bressington: House Of Representatives Standing Committee On Family And Human Services - Impact Of Illicit Drug Use On Families (May 2007)

Maybe Anne Bressington should spend more time researching her claims.
Despite tough anti-drug laws, a new survey shows the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world.

The World Health Organization's survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use. For example, Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%),
In contrast, in the Netherlands, which has more liberal drug policies than the U.S., only 1.9% of people reported cocaine use and 19.8% reported marijuana use.
-CBS News (July 2008)

Closing The Coffee Shops
When the media started reporting that The Dutch were closing some coffee shops, the anti-drug warriors went berserk. This was the great news they had been waiting for. After having to lie for nearly 30 years, they finally had some proof that The Dutch experiment had failed.
We’ve been even doing work with the Dutch, who are usually thought of as the opposite side of us on marijuana or cannabis, where they are talking about higher potency causing acute health problems that they are seeing in the Netherlands. So they too now have been taking steps to reduce the number of coffee houses, to treat the especially higher potency cannabis almost as a different drug in their system.
-US Drug Czar, John Walters

The fact is that coffee shops are being closed down because of “drug tourism” from neighbouring countries and because of new laws that restrict coffee shops being too close to schools. It was mainly the border towns and cities that wanted to close up the coffee shops, usually under pressure from other countries. Interestingly, some people couldn’t wait for the news and made claims The Dutch were “winding back” their drug laws 10 years prior.
If the Netherlands is winding back its drug laws, does that not tell us something? Does it not tell us that the Netherlands has conceded that it got it wrong. It is now trying to regroup from the previous untenable position. It is now trying to counter the cancer it released into the community in the best way it can by winding back the previously very liberal drug laws.
-The Hon. M. J. Gallacher - NSW Parliament (1997)

Cannabis is illegal in The Netherlands but the Dutch Ministry of Justice applies a gedoogbeleid (tolerance policy) which is an official set of rules guiding the judicial system to how offenders should be dealt with legally. This allows cannabis to be sold via designated “coffee shops”, the personal possession of up to 5 grams and the growing of 5 plants or less. This loophole is necessary to get around the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of which they are a co-signer. To implement any drug policy or law, countries must work within the UN’s strict guidelines. For example, Australia’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre(MSIC) and the heroin assisted treatment (HAT) programs in some countries contravene UN drug policy so they are declared as medical research, which is allowed. Similarly with The Netherlands - cannabis remains illegal but they choose to be tolerant under certain conditions. These strict conditions include age restrictions, quantity limitations and quality control. Hard drugs are not tolerated.

Although marijuana sales are regulated and taxed in the Netherlands' famous coffee shops under Dutch "pragmatism" policies, the sale or manufacture of marijuana officially remains a crime under Dutch law. The current conservative Dutch national government has attempted to shut down the coffee shops, but without popular support for such a move has had to settle for tightening regulations on the marijuana outlets and gradually reducing their numbers.
-Drug War Chronicle

Although certain conservative groups want to remove the Dutch coffee shops, there is still overwhelming support from the public, the police and politicians. What we don’t hear about is the growing support to legalise cannabis ... even when half of the countries' judges support it.
THE HAGUE, 08/10/08 - Over half the magistrates in the Netherlands consider cannabis should be legalised. So reports Vrij Nederland weekly, following a survey among the judiciary.
-NIS News Service - Dutch Judges: Legalise Cannabis (October 2008)

It seems the only people opposed to the Dutch coffee shops are a small group in the Netherlands and countries that have dismal results from applying the very drug policies they are trying to push on the Dutch.

UN Tweak Drug Statistics And Facts
By Marten Blankesteijn

The United Nations manipulate statistics to suggest that the liberal Dutch drug policy doesn’t work. This statement comes from Tim Boekhout van Solinge, criminologist at the University Utrecht.
‘It is no coincidence. The UN wants to propagate the idea that things are getting out of hand here. This idea is wrong: The Netherlands, on the contrary, are doing very well.’

To substantiate his claim Boekhout van Solinge mentions the 2000 World Drug Report, which stated that The Netherlands harbored the most addicts of all EU members at that time. ‘The UN had reduced the list of 15 to 13 countries by counting the Benelux as one country.

This was a questionable simplification, because by doing so the country with the largest number of addicts (Luxemburg) was added to the country with the smallest number (The Netherlands).

These numbers were not properly linked to total population estimates, instead averages were calculated. That’s how the Benelux ended on top of the list of drug addicted countries. The message for the public was clear: Dutch drug policy is not working.’

The UN are outspoken supporters of the war on drugs, the war against growers, dealers and users that should lead to a drug free world.’ Experts have been clamouring for years that this battle can never be won’, says Boekhout van Solinge. ‘Things are just getting worse.’

In the mean time the UN see Sweden as the lighting example. Since 1977 harsh measures are used in a relentless drug hunt. And this has been a great success – at least, that’s what UN reports say: Sweden has the smallest number of blowers in Europe. But even the Swedish facts are polished to fit the UN message. ‘The reports ‘forget’ to mention that The Netherlands have fewer addicts. Nor is there any reference to the 8% of Swedish students that sniff glue. That Sweden tops the European list in drug mortalities, is also conveniently omitted. When talking drugs, the UN is not a reliable club. These reports have little to do with science.

There are more international organisations that fumble with opinions and research to justify the war on drugs. Says the criminologist: ‘On a conference of the World Health Organisation on cocaine all experts agreed that an overwhelming majority of cocaine users are in perfect control of their use, which led them to conclude that cocaine wasn’t that much of a problem. This conclusion was never made public under pressure of the American government.’

Another example? ‘A WHO report on cannabis paints a dramatic picture of the drug. But when you examine the documents and research used as a basis for the report, you learn that specific research was conducted to estimate what would happen if cannabis would be used as much as alcohol and tobacco are used.

The remarkable conclusion of this research? Cannabis would still be the least harmful.

But this information was kept from the summary

More from the Propaganda Files

Related Articles:
How Low Can You Go? (The Dutch Disease)
McCaffrey: Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics
Going Dutch

Again ... Substitution Treatment More Effective than Abstinence Programs

This is just a friendly reminder for those who want methadone treatment cut back or stopped - methadone and buprenorphine have once again been shown to be more effective for treating opiate addiction than rehab, detox and 12 steps programs.
Thumbs Up For Methadone and BNX
Pharmacy News
August 2009

Buprenorphine-naloxone and methadone have received endorsement as the most effective opioid replacement therapies.

A paper published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) confirmed that buprenorphine-naloxone (BNX) was less likely than buprenorphine alone to be injected by both opioid replacement therapy patients (ORT) and injecting drug users.

Meanwhile a new Cochrane review confirmed that methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) was more effective than "cold turkey" methods in treating heroin dependence.

The MJA study found that in the year after its introduction in Australia, BNX was injected less frequently and by fewer regular injecting drug users and ORT clients than buprenorphine, particularly when differences in the availability of medications were taken into account.

Some individuals did nonetheless regularly inject BNX.

BNX is a combination of a partial opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist for treating opioid dependence, which was specifically developed to limit injection.

"Given that BNX has not only overtaken market sales of buprenorphine, but is also generally available as takeaway medication (unlike buprenorphine), the deterrent effect of the combination product may be even greater than the comparisons in our study suggest," the study's authors wrote.

"This finding has important implications for public health, given the potential for severe consequences of buprenorphine injection."

The Cochrane reviewers looked at 11 studies and found that MMT retained patients in treatment and decreased heroin use better than treatments that did not use ORT such as detoxification, offer of drug-free rehabilitation, placebo medication and wait-list controls.

However, MMT did not have a statistically significant superior effect on mortality or criminal activity, the reviewers found.

Monday, 10 August 2009

DEA Shoots Themselves in the Foot

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has long had the reputation as a paramilitary police squad. Their arsenal of crime fighting goodies include tanks and other armoured vehicles, helicopters, military grade weapons including hand-grenades and rocket launchers. But they also have a reputation for something else ... bungling things up. There are dozens of stories about the DEA turning up at the wrong house and shooting some poor innocent sod or arresting whole families only to discover they had dodgy information. In an attempt to clean up their image, they attend public meetings or local schools to help us learn more about those evil drug users and how the DEA is there to stop them. Surely they can’t stuff this up as well?

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Diary: What Does Heroin Feel Like? (Part I)

Diary: A pending work project was finally given the go ahead which means we might be able to buy that huge plasma TV we have wanted for so long. This makes Mrs Wright very happy. Conveniently, I am due for my next fix which is also partly reliant on me bringing in a big job. Even more convenient is that Mrs Wright has gone out tonight with some friends so I’m home alone.

Just as I finished having my long awaited fix, I suddenly had an urge to write down what I was about to experience. I thought I might just write what comes to me and edit it later. After reading what I wrote, I was a bit surprised about how little there was. It felt like I was writing non stop for at least an hour. It all seems a bit bland so I am just going to show what I wrote without editing.

It’s 8:09pm on this Friday night. I have just had half a gram of heroin.

I’m writing this out in point form and I will edit it later. I want to catch my feelings and emotions whilst high on heroin.

I’m internally calm but a little shaky on the outside.

As I start I ask myself if my mind is blank and I get a quick flash of an empty room sized skull from the inside.

As soon as I finish injecting, I start to tidy up after myself. My mind is fixed on waiting for the rush which of course never comes anymore.

First I rinse out the syringe by sucking up water and squirting it back out. I recap the syringe and put it back where it belongs. I can feel the heroin now especially in the back of my throat. Any rubbish or scraps of filter, paper, medical swabs etc. is put into the 4 tissues laid out as a mat. After rolling it up, I put it in an old cigarette packet and toss it in the bin.

I block my ears which gives me a feeling of being safe. It creates a hum which reminds me of the cold rain while being comfortably warm in bed.

I suddendly realise that this feeling is the opposite of cannabis. My thoughts aren’t deep or scary and there’s no worry about where they might lead. I simply close my eyes and stretch which blocks my ears and my mind is clear again.

I notice that my typing is faster and more accurate.

I have a similar feeling to taking speed - optimistic, adventurist (within the confines of my room), happy.

As the high wears off, I try to trigger a mini rush by stretching, blocking ears etc. I start to get a bit restless by tapping feet, jiggling my leg.

My mind wanders from time to time.


My leg is shaking up and down - like nervous energy, Now both legs.

I close my eyes and relax.

Thinking about what I’m writing and what to write next.

Time for a drink.

It feels good to get up and stretch my legs. I get a bottle of lime soft drink from the fridge and return.


Feeling good and mostly relaxed.

You have to work at it to make heroin work for you.

Close one eye and start to nod off slightly. (20 seconds)

Another smoke.Another drink.

Thinking about what to write. Sudden wave of boredom.

Holding my breath and scratching my head - seems to bring on a wave of slight euphoria(effects of the heroin). I realise I have done this quite a bit since I started.


Running out of ideas. Main effects have worn off a lot.

Slight dream about viewing space from the edge of the atmosphere in a crane like pod. With someone I don’t know.

Another drink.

Slightly dreamy when I close my eyes.

I think that’s it. I might just spend some time on the internet looking up those sites you always bookmark but never get around to visiting.

Yes, pleasantly relaxed.


After Thoughts
Sunday (2 days later): Boy, it sounds much more boring than it really was. I think I might have nodded off a few times for about 5-30 seconds which I didn’t record. I think I also better explain the “blocked ears” comments. When you yawn, your ears block which is often accompanied by a stretch when your tired. It feels like effect of adjusting to the air pressure when going on a plane or to a mountain retreat. This can be replicated by clenching your jaw which puts pressure on your throat and blocks your ears.

I must say I’m really surprised at how coherent my writing is. Since heroin is converted into morphine in the brain and morphine is well known to create vivid, intense dreams, I was half expecting to write a collage of mumbo-jumbo, morphine infected nonsense (morphine derives it’s name from Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams). The only semi-dream I wrote down sounds weirder than it actually was. Usually dreams are wrapped in emotions and that’s one of the reasons why they are hard to recall and sound so boring yet bizarre when explained to someone else.

The one comment that stands out to me is, “You have to work at it to make heroin work for you”. Heroin is not like other drugs that completely overtake your senses and there is nothing worse than someone or something disturbing your experience. Using heroin mostly requires peace and quiet to get the most out of it. This makes heroin an anti-social drug for regular users. Alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy etc. are much more fun with other people and a social event to attend. I could think of nothing worse than being in that situation when taking heroin and it would just be a waste. The added difficulty for me was my heavy dose of prescription morphine. My opiate receptors were already full of morphine and the heroin had a hard time breaking through. It is the same for those on Methadone Maintenance Treatment(MMT) or buprenorphine. An often used workaround is to postpone your substitution medication until the afternoon and use the heroin in the morning while your brain is almost free from yesterday’s opiates. Heroin crosses the blood/brain barrier much faster than other opiates like morphine and especially methadone. This is why heroin gives you a rush. When you’re mostly free from other opiates, heroin works particularly well but other slower working opiates, take much more time to cross over from your blood to your brain and linger around without much of the high. I suppose it’s somewhat like eating. If you’re really hungry, food tastes so much better but if you have been snacking all day and you don’t have much of an appetite, food will not taste as good. Ideally, you would fast all day and when you finally got to that favourite restaurant, the food will be delicious.

The next day(Saturday), Mrs Wright asked out of politeness, if I had a good night. Normally I would dodge the subject and mumble something about being “just okay” but this time I told her it was very pleasant. And it was. It was the most relaxed I had been for months. After the first hour or so and the feeling of heroin bliss subsided, I actually got to feel human. It was a just like taking a night off from my tense, always compromising life.

Related Articles
Diary: What Does Heroin Feel Like? (Part II)
Diary: What Does Heroin Feel Like? (Part III)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Calvina Fay Lies Again

Recently, Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation(DFAF) appeared twice on Fox News in the US, debating the proposal to legalise cannabis in California. When viewing both appearances consecutively, some interesting factors unravel before your eyes. Although the first debate exposes most of her claims as false, she happily repeats them again for her second appearance 5 days later. This raises some serious issues of ethics and honesty. Calvina Fay lied and although it was pointed out to her, she repeated the lies less than a week later whilst debating the same issues on the same TV network. Why would a major TV network like Fox News allow Fay to reappear in a TV debate after she had blatantly lied in her first appearance? Did Fox News even bother to check her claims? But why would they? It’s not like Fox News are renown for their integrity or truthfulness. What about Fay? She represents America’s largest anti-drug group, Drug Free America Foundation(DFAF) and her fallacious comments surely must worry them? Reading through their website, it appears that the lies and misinformation put forward by Fay are also the official stance of DFAF. To find out more about DFAF and how they actually started out as a cult called Straight, Inc., go to The Straights website.

Calvina Fay on Fox News - RE: MPP's Ad to Legalize and Tax Marijuana Bruce Mirken. (08/07/2009)

Lies and Deceptions:
  • Marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol
  • Taxing marijuana would not bring in at least a $billion dollars in tax revenue
  • The tax revenue would not offset the health costs (repeating that it costs $44 billion for substance abuse and not explaining that’s for all drugs including alcohol)
  • Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
  • Marijuana is “extremely linked to schizophrenia and mental illnesses”
  • People don’t drink alcohol to get drunk but every recreational user smokes marijuana only to get high

"Crisis in California" - Calvina Fay Debates Rob Kampia (13/07/2009)

Lies and Deceptions:
  • Taxing marijuana would not bring in at least a $billion dollars in tax revenue
  • The tax revenue would not offset the health costs (repeating that it costs $44 billion for substance abuse and not explaining that’s for all drugs including alcohol)
  • Prohibition hasn’t failed
  • Organised crime would not be affected
  • Make it easier for organised crime to sell drugs
  • Citing child abuse and children in foster care as a cause of drugs without separating marijuana as the cause.
  • People don’t drink alcohol to get drunk but every recreational user smokes marijuana only to get high


Many people believe the myths that were put forward by Calvina Fay, are facts. And why wouldn’t they? Governments all over the world have been pushing these myths for decades and a willing media has played along with sensational headlines and extreme stories of drug related drama, scaring parents into needlessly sending their teens to a drug treatment program. But after nearly 40 years of increasing drug problems and no decrease in drug use, questions are being asked about the effectiveness of the "War on Drugs". As the years roll by, there are more and more people being added to the list of those who have experienced drugs but the major problems they had constantly been told about were not coming to fruition. Like all long held beliefs based on myths and lies, science, research and reality are their nemesis. The problem is that anti-drug warriors are fanatical zealots and will say or do anything to keep their agenda alive. This has lead to a sharp increase in junk science and targeted research in an effort to appear credible. This junk science is being combined with the old myths which is often enough to keep the fantasy alive and the masses fearful of drugs. Ironically, it is strangely similar to those often quoted warnings about Satan who uses lies mixed in with the truth to deceive us.

Unfortunately for DFAF and other professional weirdos, technology gave us the internet. Instead of relying on the MSM to give us information, we can track down the truth in minutes. Every single point that Calvina Fay raised in the debates were wrong and if you had any doubt, the truth was available in your spare bedroom via a computer screen and a internet connection. This has changed everything and one has to wonder how long the anti-drug warriors can continue their campaign of deceit.

Marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol
  • Marijuana is not physically addictive.
  • Number of alcohol-induced deaths(2006) in the US, excluding accidents and homicides: 22,073. Marijuana - none.
  • Alcohol is involved in 40% of US traffic deaths.
  • Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs, and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect can lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring thousands times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death. This “thousands times” is actually theoretical, since there has never been a recorded case of marijuana overdose.
-Safer Choice

Taxing marijuana would not bring in at least a $billion dollars in tax revenue
What would you choose to be more qualified to predict tax revenue? A financial report by tax experts, accountants and economists or the opinion of a known liar, propagandist and zealot? Bad news if you chose the second option, most people will trust the financial report. Poor Calvina. Scary predictions and public fear will only get you so far.

A bill to tax and regulate marijuana in California like alcohol would generate nearly $1.4 billion in revenue for the cash-strapped state, according to an official analysis released Wednesday by tax officials. The State Board of Equalization report estimates marijuana retail sales would bring $990 million from a $50-per-ounce fee and $392 million in sales taxes.
-CBS News
Milton Friedman leads a list of more than 500 economists from around the U.S. who today will publicly endorse a Harvard University economist's report on the costs of marijuana prohibition and the potential revenue gains from the U.S. government instead legalizing it and taxing its sale.
-Milton Friedman: Legalize It!

Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
Although marijuana can be a gateway drug, it is not because of the factors argued by Calvina Fay. Her beliefs are that it’s the pharmacological qualities of marijuana that cause users to progress to hard drugs. She believes in the fairy tale that dope smokers want to try something harder so if they try dope first, they will naturally progress to heroin or cocaine. The reason why marijuana might be a gateway drug is purely because of prohibition that force all drug users underground where users of soft drugs mix with users and dealers of hard drugs.

Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug. In other words, the people who support prohibition are using the bad effects of prohibition as justification for prohibition. The conclusion of all the research is that we have a "gateway drug policy". It is the laws that create the problem.
-US Institute of Medicine on Medical Marijuana

The popular gateway theory or “Stepping Stone” analogy was created in 1937 by Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in a desperate attempt to save face. Since then, nearly every major scientific study has debunked his gateway theory.

First, there is no drug that will magically give you a craving for other drugs you have never had. That is a belief in witchcraft, not science.

Hemp was George Washington's primary crop, and a secondary crop for Thomas Jefferson, so hemp has been around in America for a long time, without apparently causing much destruction in society. Each sailing ship carried several tons of hemp in its rope and sails, so cultivation of hemp was a major industry. Even though cannabis was widely grown, there were no allegations that it led to harder drugs.

In 1910, they believed that the certain steppingstone to opiate addiction was "eating Mexicanized food". The fundamental idea comes from America's puritanical history. It is the idea that pleasure is sinful, and small pleasures lead to cravings for larger pleasures. In this example, those who crave spicy food will inevitably crave larger pleasures, such as opium.

In the 1920s, some states outlawed marijuana because of the belief that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana - just the opposite of the modern myth.

Cannabis had been widely known and used in many medicinal compounds for hundreds of years, so there was ample evidence in the 1930s to know whether there was a connection between marijuana and harder drugs.

In 1937, Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, testified before Congress that there was no connection at all between marijuana and heroin.


The reason marijuana had to be outlawed, he said, was because it caused insanity, criminality, and death. One example he gave was of two young lovers who became so crazed after smoking a joint that they eloped and got married. Marijuana causes people to become so crazy that they get married. The other reasons he gave were no more sensible. The hemp industry representatives who testified were uniformly surprised and mystified to hear that a dangerous drug could be made from this widespread and common crop. The American Medical Association testified that they knew of no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug.

In 1944, the La Guardia Committee Report on Marihuana confirmed Mr. Anslinger's statement -- there was no connection at all between marijuana and heroin.

In 1951, the story changed. Harry Anslinger was testifying for the Boggs Act about why he needed more money and men to enforce the marijuana laws. Just before he testified, the head of the Federal addiction research program testified that they knew for certain that all of the reasons that had been given for outlawing marijuana in 1937 were entirely bogus. They knew for certain that marijuana did not cause insanity, criminality and death. Anslinger was left with no reason for tougher laws so he made up -- on the spot, with not a shred of evidence -- the assertion that marijuana is the certain stepping stone to heroin addiction. He directly contradicted his own testimony from 1937. It has been the basis of US marijuana policy ever since.

Since that time, the Federal drug enforcement officials have tried to support this myth with the idea that most heroin addicts started with marijuana, and statistics which seem to show that marijuana users are more likely to have used cocaine. The first assertion would get a failing grade in any freshman Logic class. The second can be explained by the fact that people who engage in one risk-taking behavior are likely to engage in other risk-taking behaviors. It, too, would earn a failing grade in freshman Logic.

In 1970, the Canadian Government did their largest study ever of the subject, and found no connection between marijuana and heroin.

In 1972, the US Government did their largest study ever of the subject, and found no connection between marijuana and heroin. This was also the conclusion of the largest study ever done by Consumers Union, published the same year.

Every major study of the marijuana laws in the last 100 years has concluded that the only connection between marijuana and heroin is that they are both prohibited and, therefore, sold in the same black market.

The most recent study of the subject was the report of the US Institute of Medicine on medical marijuana. They reported:

Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug.

In other words, the people who support prohibition are using the bad effects of prohibition as justification for prohibition. The conclusion of all the research is that we have a "gateway drug policy". It is the laws that create the problem.

-Schaffer Library of Drug Policy: How did the marijuana gateway myth get started?
  • Rand study casts doubt on claims that marijuana acts as "gateway" to the use of cocaine and heroin.
  • Marijuana use per se not a 'gateway' to illicit drug use, study says

Marijuana is “extremely linked to schizophrenia and mental illnesses”
This is by far, the most contentious issue with cannabis but one fact remains - although drug use has doubled many times over since the 1970s, cases of mental illness has not increased and even declined slightly. If cannabis was such a important factor in causing long term mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, the 190 million reported cannabis smokers would require thousands and thousands of special new hospitals just to deal with them. The “ticking time-bomb” apocalypse that was promised so many times in the 80s and 90s has fizzled out as cannabis smokers from over the last 3 decades are still not filling up our institutions.

People don’t drink alcohol to get drunk but every recreational user smokes marijuana to get high
A great example of how terminology can obscure the facts - drunk versus high. Just one drink can cause a mood altering effect and so can one puff or one cone of marijuana. Going to a bar for a quick drink with friends might fit the analogy that “people don’t drink to get drunk” but one standard drink usually does have some mild pleasant effect. And how often is just one drink consumed? A more appropriate analogy might be, “people don’t drink alcohol to get drunk ... they drink to feel the effect of alcohol”. Whether they are conscious of this is another issue. A common response might be, “I just want to relax” or “ I want to wind down” which really says, “I want to feel the mood altering effects of alcohol”. Drinkers have the choice to limit their intake to suit the desired effect. The same goes for drug takers, especially pot smokers. Someone who wants to “wind down” or relax after work will only use enough cannabis to achieve the desired effect. Calvina Fay’s argument suggests that there is no low level of being high, just “stoned” or that cannabis smokers have no control over the degree of being high. Of course, this is just crap.

Alcohol Facts:
  • If one takes one drink in an hour the alcohol concentration in the blood is .02% – .04% and the physical/psychological effects are: No overt effect, slight mood elevation.
  • If one takes two drinks in an hour the alcohol concentration in the blood is .05% – .07% and the physical/psychological effects are: Warm relaxed feelings, slight decrease in reaction time and muscle coordination.
  • If one takes three drinks in an hour the alcohol concentration in the blood is .08% – .11% and the physical/psychological effects are: Euphoria, balance, speech, & hearing slightly impaired. Increased confidence; decreased coordination.

From a drink/drug driving study:
In other words, people who use cannabis may be more aware of the fact that they're impaired after they have used, compared with people who drink alcohol and who do not feel impaired after just a drink or two, even though their driving ability has been lessened. Any use of a controlled substance, even just one beer or other social drinking, can impair driving ability for a short time afterward even though an individual may not perceive themselves as impaired.
-Drug War Distortions

Prohibition hasn’t failed
It seems that most people don’t agree with Calvina Fay. According to a 2008 Zogby Poll just prior to the last US election, 76% of likely voters believe the War on Drugs is failing. So do many opinion writers in the major media outlets throughout the US.

Organised crime would not be affected / Make it easier for organised crime to sell drugs
Nearly every single analysis of the "War on Drugs" and drug prohibition acknowledges that the main problem is organised crime. Even the head of UNGASS, Antonio Marie Costa said in the latest World Drug Report that organised crime and a black market were the side effects of current prohibition policies. In fact, I have never seen the suggestion before that organised crime wouldn’t be effected by removing prohibition let alone benefit from it. Where does Calvina Fay get her information from?

The tax revenue would not offset the health costs
As pointed out by both Rob Kampia and Bruce Mirken, the $44 billion figure that Fay keeps bringing up includes all drugs, not just cannabis. Bruce explained that it was mostly alcohol that made up the $44 billion amount. I don’t have the exact figures but logic tells me that the cost of marijuana to the health system isn’t very much. This might be seen as a cop out but frankly I’m sick of proving Calvina Fay wrong. Anyway, what about the savings from other factors e.g. no court for possession means huge savings, the police resources saved, the decreasing prison population, the cost of parole etc. Whatever ... bored now.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Collateral Damage

They used to be called innocent victims of war but thanks to the amazing miracle of public relations, these innocent victims are now called collateral damage

Technically, collateral damage is not only reserved for those killed or brutalised during war but any unintentional damage including property. Most people though, know it to mean unnecessary deaths during a war especially the innocent. Property and the injured are usually overlooked. And face it, any collateral damage still breathing after an attack involving the latest weaponry used in modern warfare was probably better off being killed in the first place. I recent saw a documentary that said citizens killed during war now stands at about 90% of the total dead. Before WW1, it was about 10%. Mmmm, so much for precision weaponry and the obfuscatory rants by Donald Rumsfeld.

I wonder what the collateral damage is for that never ending war called the "War on Drugs"? Let’s see: victims of shoot-outs between street dealers, those caught in police drug raids, those caught up in the war between the Mexican cartels vs. the Mexican government, the farmers and citizens effected by Plan Columbia, Afghanis, the recipients of the death penalty, suicides, the prison population worldwide, medical marijuana patients, victims of drug related crime, families of drug addicts, HIV/AIDS/Hep C sufferers, drug mules, users, drug dealer’s wives, drug dealer’s children, those who are as a deterrent by the courts, those with chronic pain etc. The "War on Drugs" touches everyone in someway. Whether it’s just having to make way for police with sniffer dogs at the local nightclub or having your government installed by the US to help their operations eliminating coca plantations. You might be arrested for having medical marijuana you purchased legally or you might be shot accidently from a drug deal gone wrong. It may as severe as your daughter going into a coma and dying from contaminated pills or simply watching adult politicians ignoring scientific evidence and climbing over each other to prove who’s “toughest on drugs”. Everyday, it creeps more into your life. 
As the public start to realise the complete failure of the "War on Drugs", more extreme measures are being executed from both sides of the law. Mexico is a perfect example. The international black market for drugs is so huge that organised crime has more power than the government. Instead of tackling the source problem of prohibition that creates this power and wealth, the government stepped up it’s law enforcement operations to include the military. In retaliation to having their members arrested or killed, the drug cartels flexed their muscles and went on a terror campaign to get the upper hand. They rolled out decapitated heads onto a dance floor in a major nightclub, set up an ambush where they massacred a dozen drug enforcement officers and left them in a pile on the side of a road and even announced the deaths of certain officers over the police radio before killing them a few hours later. The response ... the government called in more army personnel to crack down even harder. On it goes... 

Closer to home, the amphetamines problem followed a similar path. As we saw in the TV show, Underbelly, the more police who zoned in on the manufacturers, the more violent they got. Then there was the crack down on cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine which is a core ingredient in street amphetamines. First they restricted sales of one packet per person but the illegal manufacturers organised “buying groups” who would visit multiply chemists each day. in 2006, products containing pseudoephedrine was rescheduled as a "Pharmacist Only Medicine" (Schedule 3) which meant it was only sold with approval of the pharmacist. Then they created a registry and refused sales to suspicious buyers which of course lead to break-ins and robberies. The latest trend is to ram-raid a car through the chemist shop window. When is someone going to be shot or stabbed, if it hasn’t happened already? What about those who are simply sick and need adequate medication - will they be refused their cold tablets? So what’s next? There is already talk of banning pseudoephedrine in Australia and some chemists have stopped selling products with pseudoephedrine all together. History tells us that organised crime will come up with a solution and the only losers will again be the public. The lesson is: when it comes to illegal drugs ... crime will find a way. Instead of removing prohibition - the source of profit for the black market, the "War on Drugs" mentality continues with the fanciful view that the war is winnable. And as the stakes get higher, the collateral damage grows.
Daughter Of Drug Agent Seized, Raped
Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Nikko Dizon
July 2009

MANILA, Philippines—A young daughter of a government agent involved in fighting drug syndicates was abducted at the weekend and later found drugged and sexually abused in a heinous attack that provoked Malacanang to warn late Sunday night: “This is now a war on drugs.”

The girl, a minor, is “still in shock” and is confined in a hospital, a top government official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, asking not to be identified because the family had asked him not to talk about the matter with the media.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a statement that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed herself in January the country’s “anti-drug czar,” had been told of the attack.

“The President has just been informed … We will mobilize all forces to help the family involved,” Remonde said.

Before Malacañang issued its statement, law enforcers said they were looking at a certain drug syndicate supposedly with political connections as the possible perpetrator of the attack.

The Inquirer decided not to identify the agent or the office where he works to protect the family’s identity and the girl’s interest.

A Philippine law on violence against women and children prohibits the publication of any identifying information about the victim or a family member without the family’s consent.

The tragedy that befell the family appears to show how audacious drug syndicates have become in the Philippines, which ranks fifth in the world in terms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) seizures in the last 10 years.

Officials have put the value of the illegal drugs trade in the country at a high estimate of P300 billion and a low estimate of P150 billion a year.

The girl’s tragedy also strikes a grim parallel to what has happened in other countries where drug cartels and gangs have turned drug trafficking into a frightful, flourishing business.

In Mexico alone, nearly 10,000 drug traffickers, state agents and civilians have been killed in drug war-related incidents since 2007, the Los Angeles Times has reported. Some victims were beheaded.

‘This is narco-politics’

“Without discounting other suspects, I think this is the handiwork of a drug syndicate which was the subject of a recent crackdown … just by assessing previous incidents following the bust,” the top official told the Inquirer.

He described the syndicate as “well-connected politically.”

“This involves narco-politics. May kalaliman ito (This goes deep) assuming the angle we are pursuing is right. But we’re bent on considering that angle,” the official said.

Another theory is “baka napag tripan ng barkada (a gang might have taken a fancy to the girl) but that is speculative,” an Inquirer source said.

Sketchy reports indicated that the girl went missing on Saturday night. She was recovered at around 6 a.m. Sunday near a military facility in Luzon, the official said.

There had also been a previous, but failed, attempt to abduct the young girl, the official said.

Both the rich and poor

Illegal drugs have become an insidious, pervasive menace in the Philippines, sucking into their vortex both the rich and the poor.

Of the country’s 3.4 million drug users, 1.8 million are regular users while 1.6 million are occasional users, law enforcers said.

The 2009 World Drug Report released by the United Nations recently said the Philippines was fifth after China, the United States, Thailand and Taiwan in terms of shabu seizures from 1998 to 2007.

“The Philippines remains a significant source of high potency crystalline methamphetamine used both domestically and exported to locations in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania,” the report said.

It said that while many countries manufactured shabu, China, Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines accounted for most of the production.

Foreign chemists

The report noted that the illegal drug was often manufactured in industrial-size laboratories operated by transnational organized crime syndicates and staffed by foreign chemists.

The UN report said that in 2007, a notable increase in the seizure of methamphetamine-related manufacturing facilities in the Philippines was reported with nine significant laboratories and 13 chemical warehouses seized. This rose to 10 laboratories in 2008.

The report identified interregional trafficking routes as being from Burma to Bangladesh and India; from Hong Kong, China, to Australia, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand; from the Philippines to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States; and from East and Southeast Asia to Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The report said that global markets for cocaine, opiates and cannabis were steady or in decline, while the production and use of synthetic drugs was increasing in the developing world.

Cannabis or marijuana remained the most widely used drug around the world, although estimates were less precise. With a report from Inquirer Research

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