Tag Archive: decriminalization


N.O. to H.R.1254

Bill Summary & Status – 112th Congress (2011 – 2012) – H.R.1254

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h1254:

The 112th Congress’ H.R.1254 is blind ignorance put into action.  This bill will criminalize almost 30 specific compounds, while adding obscure and nonspecific wordage like “Unless specifically exempted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of cannabimimetic agents, or which contains their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation” and “the term `cannabimimetic agents’– `(A) means any substance that is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 receptor) agonist as demonstrated by binding studies and functional assays within the following structural classes” and then goes on to list a whole bunch of chemistry that not even I can easily comprehend, as well as a list of almost 30 specific research chemicals to make illegal.

In addition to everything mentioned above, this bill also seeks to ratify the current emergency scheduling process by doubling the amount of time the government can criminalize a compound without serious medical and scientific investigation.  Luckily, I guess, for us, there is a perfect example in the compound 2C-E, which I wrote about last week.  2C-E was responsible for 10 hospitalizations and one death in a rural town in the Midwest.  If this bill were to pass, they could emergency schedule 2C-E and make it illegal to possess and distribute for any reason, and they could do it for two years, without any sort of motive other than “it kills.”

Which is a ridiculous motive.  I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but criminalizing everything that was lethal would result in a pretty boring world.  Cars, gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol, rock climbing, airline travel, and pork products would all be banned.

The kind of language being used in these new bills is shocking to say the least.  I don’t think it’s sane, let alone acceptable, to have politicians discussing chemistry.  None of these people are actually qualified to be deciding what chemicals are acceptable and which ones aren’t.  I haven’t even begun to discuss the fact that most of the drugs on this list are results of criminalization of more popular chemicals from the past.

Mephedrone, MDPV, methylone, MDAI, MDPPP.  All of these chemicals were created in an effort to mimic the effects of two much more familiar chemicals, MDMA and Methamphetamine, or to a lesser extent, amphetamine.  The entire JWH series of chemicals, as well as the CP series and AM series, are synthetic THC mimics.  That is to say, they were created to mimic the properties of a more popular, but illegal drug, marijuana.  Had marijuana never been criminalized in the first place, I doubt the creation of these chemicals would have been necessary, and if they had been created, they would not have been experimented with recklessly and recreationally by teenagers and young adults.  No, they would have been studied by scientists and the benefits, if any, would have been determined and the chemical would either be used or not.  The act of criminalizing naturally occurring plants and chemicals which have proven over centuries of human use to be safe, has led to the creation of literally hundreds of synthetic chemicals that merely attempt to replicate the grandeur of their parent compounds., while being much more dangerous.  And it’s a shock to society, as well.  To have this many drugs invented and ingested in a matter of a quarter century.

Humans were perfectly content smoking their pot, eating their mushrooms and cacti, and drinking their magical teas.  Western culture and fear of the unknown was what forced the creation of more psychedelics each year than total drugs existed for most of human history, and now the very same culture, born out of propaganda and terror, seeks to wage a battle that cannot be won, against an enemy that is reinvented much faster than our own political and judicial systems.  You might think this new list of drugs to ban is quite comprehensive, when in fact it is but a small percent of legal drugs available to people looking with the right kind of eyes, or rather, the right kind of fingers.

An interesting point to mention, all research chemicals, which are the ones that are illegal for human consumption, are created by actual laboratories, and actual scientists.  These are people who went to college, did well, and applied their degree successfully to a product that is 99+% pure.  And that’s a fact.  Many research chemical companies synthesize 99% pure product, or better.  When was the last time you heard of 99% pure cocaine?  Or 99% pure meth?  Criminalizing these chemicals will only breed a community of pseudo-chemists who, using illegal labs to create impure products, will sell the product at a much higher price, all the while reducing the safety of the consumer, and further clogging our judicial and prison systems with victimless offenders.

Education and awareness are the keys to responsible drug use, and preventing overdose.  Harm reduction, that’s what it’s all about, and I would hardly consider imprisonment a form of harm reduction.  Imprisoning people for being curious or having a different idea of what a fun Saturday night might be is a stupid mentality to have, and it’s really sad to see this culture of persecution being encouraged by the people who were elected democratically to their position.

Passing this bill would only increase the money we spend on victimless crimes and “criminals” while ruining people’s lives instead of helping them.  I understand people get upset when a person is hospitalized or killed by a chemical, but educating people and being open minded will go a lot farther than putting people in prison.

To see the status of this bill, please use the following link:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1254

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Waving a White Flag

The following is a response to:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110329/wl_time/08599206193400?xid=huffpo-direct

If this article isn’t standalone proof of the complete failure in the war on drugs, then I don’t know what is.  Seriously man, it’s time to take another look at things, try a new approach.  We’ve been battling the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of drugs for almost a century now and all we have to show for it is increased numbers on all accounts.  More people are smoking pot than ever, cocaine abuse is on the rise again, and more drugs are invented every year.  More felons, more money, more choices, more, more, more.  I can’t honestly say that legalization of addictive drugs like cocaine will have the best possible outcome, but could it honestly be any worse than our current situation?  And in case you didn’t read the article I linked at the beginning of this, these guys are using submarines to smuggle drugs now.

So that’s our current situation.  We are spending an insane amount of money trying to keep cocaine out of America, and now we have submarines to hunt down.  No, really, submarines.  In fact, according to this article, conventional sonar won’t even work most times because of how little metal is used in these cocaine subs.  And yes, I believe the amount of money were are spending on this endeavor is actually insane, especially considering, in spite of whatever ungodly amount of cash we’re throwing at this problem, there are more than two million Americans currently addicted to cocaine and we have the second highest percentage of cocaine users in the world and we are the single largest consumer of cocaine in the world.

And that was before the submarines.

Cocaine is a terrible drug, he said opinionatedly.  Because, after all, that’s just my opinion.  I don’t believe the phrase “terrible drug” exists unless you’re referring to something that really isn’t a drug.  For instance, you could say with absolute certainty, that gasoline is a terrible drug, since it is in fact, not a drug.  The word drug carries with it an inherent benefit, regardless of the side effects.  In my opinion, however, cocaine is one of those drugs that has side effects that far outweigh the benefits.  Of course, one of the bad parts of cocaine use is the cost to the user.  Currently, it would be less expensive to snort pure gold up your nose than actual cocaine.  Add to the cost a strong desire to re-dose, and it’s a lethal combination for the wallet and bank account and furniture.

America’s war against cocaine, another in a long line of seemingly endless and unproductive wars, has failed.  Time to turn in, regroup, rethink our position, and make an educated decision regarding an issue that affects millions of people in this country.  Merely sitting on the sidelines and watching our failed legal system incarcerate these victims is no longer a viable option.  Our country is in a death spiral, for more than one reason, and a serious and honest look at our laws regarding all drugs, not just marijuana, is one of the things we need to reclaim our status as a progressive country.  A good example of proper drug law reform is Portugal.  A 2009 Time article said “in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.”

Sounds successful to me.  As I mentioned before, however, I couldn’t imagine a worse situation regarding drug laws and enforcement.  Ignoring all the damage, both physical and economic, dealt to America, the consequences of our laws are felt in numerous countries including, but not limited to, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and Colombia.  Cartel murders, illegal meth labs, unjust government persecution, and exploitation of labor are just a few of the results of America’s war on drugs.  We are still a superpower country and hold a lot of influence over neighboring countries, and even pressure their governments into adopting similar laws regarding drugs, sometimes in direct contradiction to local traditions.

How many cultures have a history of drug use?  More than you’re probably guessing.  From the Native Americans in modern day USA and Canada, to the Aztec and Mayans of Central America, to the Vikings in Europe, everyone was using psychedelic plants and fungi either as rites of passage or to communicate with spirits or even as a berserker rage battle stimulant, in the case of the Vikings.  Humans, as a whole, have been altering their perceptions and opening their minds for thousands of years, and only during the last 100 or so years have we started to criminalize and stigmatize these practices.  Why do we do it?  Shouldn’t a country composed almost entirely of immigrants and aliens be a lot friendlier to a conversation regarding mind-altering substances?  You would think so.

Alas, that is not the case.  Instead, we’ve opted to hunt down submarines carrying a naturally occurring alkaloid isolated from a plant that our government actually hunts down and eradicates in a country that isn’t even bordering us.  I wish that sentence was a work of fiction, fabricated in the mind of a stoned comic book writer from the 1980s.  But this is where we find ourselves.  Same laws, same government, same unwarranted fears, same problems, but with a bigger budget and a lower success rate.  Something’s got to change.

The following is a response to:

http://www.examiner.com/strange-news-in-national/willie-nelson-to-sing-his-way-to-freedom-from-a-texas-courtroom

Texas, of course, it would be Texas.  When I first read this article I thought for sure it was a hoax, and that I was browsing a sister website for The Onion News.  I think I’d laugh a lot harder about all this if I wasn’t so frazzled by the thought of how much money and how many man hours of work went into this private acoustic Willie Nelson concert.  How many tax dollars went into harassing and embarrassing this beloved American musician?  And they hassled him for what?  For marijuana possession.  A crime, which is barely recognized by over a dozen states in our country.

“Every farmer that I know of, who is worth his salt or who’s just average, is ahead of the experimental stations and research agronomist in finding better ways, changing ways to plant, cultivate, utilize herbicides, gather, cure, sell farm products. The competition for innovation is tremendous, equivalent to the realm of nuclear physics, even.   In my opinion, it’s different in the case of lawyers. And maybe this is a circumstance that is so inherently true that it can’t be changed. “- Jimmy Carter’s Law Day Address May 4, 1974

I could not agree more, and I don’t think it ends at Lawyers, but also includes Politicians.  Everyone is so perfectly content with reevaluating the American legal system on a case by case basis.  Basically, defending the past against the future, clutching to the old ways.  I think the real founding fathers would be disgusted to see how similar our government is to theirs after more than two centuries of evolution and improvement and growth.  In 1775 the population of the 13 colonies was 2.4 million, including slaves and natives living under colonial control.  As of July 2009 the estimated population of the United States was over 300 million.  We are one hundred times larger than in 1775.  Colonial America is smaller than modern day Costa Rica, in terms of population.

One hundred times larger.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.

We have more people in American prison than the entire population of the 13 Colonies in 1775.  The JFA Institute’s study from 2007 says “approximately 30-40 percent of all current prison admissions involve crimes that have no direct or obvious victim other than the perpetrator.”  If the low-ball figure for this study is still valid today, that would mean a reduction in prison population from 2.4 million to about 1.7 million.  700,000 prisoners costs $15 billion every year.  We could save the American people $15 billion every year by merely decriminalizing on a national level.

Legalize it?  Sure, I think we should legalize and tax it, but I understand many people do not feel this way.  Decriminalization is the perfect middle ground.  The tax payers save money, court room time is freed up for more serious crimes, police and DEA can spend their valuable time and efforts on more important tasks, involving much more dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and heroin (both of which are actually safe in pure form and under controlled circumstances, to be completely accurate), and so much more.  The hard truth is that we spend more on prisons and prisoners than we do on education, a black man is almost 8 times more likely to be imprisoned for the same crime as a white man, and there are more than 200 new jail cells created every day in America. (http://www.heartsandminds.org/prisons/facts.htm)

How do you think the founding fathers would feel about that?  Well, other than the black to white incarceration ratio.  Do you think our constitution and legal system is currently working for us now that you’ve considered these facts?  Maybe you do, these kinds of beliefs are akin to religion from a stubbornness standpoint.  I’m not optimistic about changing people’s opinions on key issues, but maybe I can help educate someone who is open-minded enough to accept the facts for what they are, and reexamine the old laws and fears for what they were.  Substance abuse, often times, is a victimless crime.  Sure, intoxication can lead to spousal abuse or car accidents or worse, but emotions can pave the way for any one of those scenarios just as easily.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project we spend $7 billion every year arresting people for marijuana.  Add to that the $15 billion every year to keep them in prison.  These are non-violent offenders of a ludicrous law enacted by biased white men almost a hundred years ago.  It’s time to reevaluate whether or not it’s worth more than $20 billion per year to put our friends, coworkers, siblings, parents, and even grandparents in the ever expanding prison system for a plant that is both scientifically and statistically proven to be not only benign but also beneficial for thousands, if not millions, of Americans.  Certainly, this war on drugs, is not winning.  Surrender is not dishonorable, nor should it be stigmatized, especially when combating inanimate and naturally occurring things.

Hopefully, in the future, maybe later this century, we’ll look back on this time in America and we’ll laugh, like we do about Alcohol Prohibition last century.  “What a silly thing,” we’ll say, “to not only ignore the money making opportunities of these ‘illicit’ chemicals and plants, but to actually spend that much money trying to fight these things, and all the while turning a blind eye to the medical and social impacts; Ha ha!  Ridiculous!”  I’m optimistic about such a scenario, but not always.  Maybe we’ll actually pull a 180 and pay people money for specializing in the creation, distribution, and understanding of these compounds.  Maybe not.  In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, I present Willie Nelson…

The following is a response to:

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20110324/teen-er-visits-due-to-ecstacy-are-on-the-rise

It’s amazing how emphasizing one aspect of a study over another can skew a person’s view on a subject.  This… let’s call it a Press Release… No, how about a Study Summary?  Teen ER Visits Due to Ecstasy Are on the Rise.  That’s an interesting title, and after reading this Study Summary I have a second opinion regarding the title, excuse the pun.  This block of words and numbers could have easily been titled “Everything in Ecstasy Except MDMA is Bad For You.”  Or, another possibility is “Teen  Population on the Rise.”  Or how about, “ER Visits as a Whole Are on the Rise.”  Or another personal favorite “MDMA: Seriously Way Less Dangerous Than Everything Else.”

The United States of America has the fastest population growth rate of all industrialized countries, according to a World Population Data Sheet in July of 2003 from the Population Reference Bureau.  And the National Center for Health Statistics says there are 1.6 million more births each year in the US than deaths.  4 Million new babies per year.  This Study Summary claims an increase of 40% over three years, when there must be at least two or three million new teenagers every year.  People who have ingested Ecstasy, a word I abhor by the way, will typically ingest it again in the future.  There’s a reason there’s no such thing as Ecstasy Anonymous.  MDMA is not easily accessible to everyone; Marijuana and Cocaine are probably much more available and desirable among youths.  Never mind the availability and wealth of alcohol to teenagers.

So, as you can imagine, there aren’t many people who would claim to have used MDMA in 2005 who would not claim the same thing just three years later.  Add to that the, literally, millions of new teenagers discovering something far worse than any drug or drink available locally, the internet.  Yes, the internet can, and probably will, change your teenager in one way or another.  There are a lot of things you can do with the knowledge at your fingertips.  One thing teenagers can use the internet for is learning about the wonders of human inebriation.  However the internet holds more psychedelic majesty than any normal adult would ever care to learn about.

With that being said, MDMA has a certain appeal, especially to young people.  First of all it’s a drug from “this generation” you could say.  Mushrooms have always existed, LSD was the 60s, cocaine in the 80s, and Ecstasy in the 90s.  MDMA is also associated with electronic music, which is still popular with teenagers to this day.  Another point to mention is the lack of any deaths from MDMA, or even Ecstasy, the dirty whore of a sibling.  I’d be interested in seeing the data comparing alcohol overdose to every other substance.  Who can say no to a drug that guarantees a happy experience with a low risk of overdose, when the legal competition is a highly dangerous liquid capable of inducing suicide, homicide, and so much more?

Overdose.  I’ve been using this word a lot.  When I say the term “Ecstasy Overdose” most people are just thinking of the drug, MDMA, street name Ecstasy, causing overdoses.  However, this is not entirely true.  In fact, it’s mostly false.  Ecstasy pills are notoriously impure creations of human greed, containing everything from Methamphetamine to Mephedrone to BZP, Caffeine, or TFMPP.  Fortunately I don’t know this first hand, but most human beings would not voluntarily ingest many of those chemicals, and some Ecstasy pills contain a combination of those chemicals, and even worse, sometimes they contain no MDMA what-so-ever.

So how can you even properly have statistics regarding “Ecstasy” the pill, instead of MDMA the chemical?  It doesn’t seem logical.  And even in the chimera trucker doppelganger candy form we call Ecstasy, it’s only ranked 7th for “most commonly involved illicit drug involved in emergency department visits, behind cocaine, which accounted for 48.5% of the ER visits, marijuana (37.7%), heroin (20.2%), methamphetamine (6.7%), PCP or phencylidine (3.8%), and amphetamines (3.2%)”

MDMA was once a prescription drug that was praised by the psychiatric community for its effects.  As I remember it, it was used to treat terminally ill patients and help them cope with their mortality while allowing them to connect on a more personal level with loved ones, while also treating more common problems like depression.  MDMA is truly a magical chemical, which, when used in its pure form, is very safe and enjoyable for an extremely high percentage of users.  I still make an effort to experience the benefits of Shulgin’s creation at least a couple times per year.

I’d like to end this with another reference from this Study Summary, something you might not have noticed that frightened and confused me on a primal level.  Let’s see that quote one more time…

“Ecstasy was the seventh most commonly involved illicit drug involved in emergency department visits, behind cocaine, which accounted for 48.5% of the ER visits, marijuana (37.7%), heroin (20.2%), methamphetamine (6.7%), PCP or phencylidine (3.8%), and amphetamines (3.2%).”

According to this study, 37.7% of ALL illicit drug-related ER visits are for marijuana.  Seriously?  Seriously… Words cannot describe the emotions rising up within me as I read this series of numbers and letters.  The part of my brain involved with reading is telling myself “Yes, that is what they said.”  Meanwhile, the part of my brain that is aware of the fact that no one has ever died from marijuana ever in the history of written language, no, in the history of spoken word and storytelling, is flaring up something fierce.  A bolt of lightning, not unlike the ones used in pain relief advertisements, is connecting these parts of my brain striking my mind repeatedly over and over, incapable of processing these two facts.  Because, after all, they are both facts.  These people are actually going to the hospital, it’s not a lie.  I would be thrilled to see the marijuana overdose episode of House.

The following is a response to:

http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/03/2c-e_overdose_blaine_one_dead_drug.php

Death is never easy to accept.  Revenge is a predictable byproduct of death, especially unnatural death of someone in their “prime.”  But how do you exact revenge on something inanimate?  Or rather, alleviate the desires for revenge?  How can you achieve peace of mind?  Well, there are two ways to go about such a task.  The first, involves creating awareness of this danger which has been put in the spotlight.  Yes, tell everyone about said danger in the hopes that no one else need be sacrificed.  Pretty simple concept.  The other thing someone could do is condemn the dangerous thing.  Banish it, destroy it, criminalize it, and install a sense of fear into everyone with the ability to listen.

Articles like this one seem more and more common, if you can call them articles.  A serious lack of actual investigation and reporting went into the making of these blocks of text on the internet.  First of all, as you might notice, there is a picture of some powder with the caption “2C-1, the drug being blamed for the overdoses.”  Where to start?  First of all, there is no such thing as 2C-1.  That is not a chemical that exists either theoretically or physically.  I assume they meant 2C-I, which I guess kind of looks like 2C-1, however this article is about 2C-E, so you’ll have to pardon my confusion when it says “the drug being blamed for overdoses.”  Enough of that, let’s keep going down this path, I like where this is heading.

The author immediately goes into chemical background.  I’m sure the same level of detail-oriented craftsmanship can be expected in the body of the text and not just the captions.  “2C-E, is the chemical cousin of a relatively new, synthetic hallucinogen called 2C-I.”  Alright, I know this is splitting hairs, and the word “relatively” is very clearly in the sentence, but 2C-E and 2C-I both had their syntheses published in the 1991 book PiHKAL by Alexander and Ann Shulgin, twenty years ago.  I wouldn’t say to someone “I’m relatively new to videogames” and that’s because I’ve been playing them for twenty years.  Forget it, let’s move on.

“Since it first surfaced in the early 2000s, 2C-I built a reputation as a” – hold it right there.  How can you, as a writer, input into your keyboard a sentence using the words “relatively new” and then immediately follow that sentence with a sentence about it’s already existing reputation from last decade.  I mean come on.

“According Anoka County Sheriff commander Paul Sommer, 2C-E is actually legal.”  Not true.  2C-E is illegal for human consumption.  It is only legal as a “research chemical” which means when you ingest 2C-E it’s the same as ingesting paint thinner.  There are warnings all over the packaging telling you to NOT eat the contents, and for good reason.  One thing paint thinner has in common with 2C-E, is they are both lethal in high enough doses.  But then again, what isn’t?  It’s possible to overdose on nicotine patches, acetaminophen, alcohol, and glue, yet all of them are readily available at a store near you.  Hell, a poor diet will lead to cardiac problems and diabetes, moderation is the key.  In the drug community it’s called “Harm Reduction” and it’s a very serious thing for the hardcore drug geeks of the world.  Harm reduction produces fewer headlines.  Fewer headlines mean less drug laws.  Less drug laws means the ability to buy things like 2C-I and 2C-E and the hundreds of other “legal” chemicals available to, not just Americans, but almost every developed nation.

“It’s not on any controlled substance tables in the United States,” he says. “I guess you wouldn’t even call it a drug. It’s kind of marketed as a research chemical or something like that.”

That’s a hell of a quote.  I’m not sure how I feel about the Sheriff Commander ending his sentence with “or something like that.”  I guess ambivalence and confusion are far better reactions than fear and loathing, but it’s a short road from one to the next, and only a matter of time before one of two dramatic conclusions occurs.

Option A – Decriminalize all drugs and legalize the non-addictive and non-lethal varieties.  The government can tax and over-see the manufacture and distribution of these plants and chemicals, maintaining standards while generating capital.  The prison system becomes less crowded, less money is spent on inmates, and more money is put into public healthcare to assist drug addicts and alcoholics.

Option B – Create a blanket law that outright criminalizes any “substance with recreational and/or psychedelic effects” without needing the emergency scheduling process.

Right now in America for a drug to become illegal, or Scheduled, it must first go through emergency scheduling which requests medical information on the dangers, or possible benefits, of the chemical in question.  After a short period of time, I believe it’s 30 days but I can’t remember, if all goes according to plan, the chemical is placed in the list of Scheduled chemicals.  Because of this, combined with the hard reality that new psychedelics are invented, synthesized, and ingested every year, it’s incredibly difficult for the government to quickly determine which, if any, of the new chemicals are dangerous enough, or popular enough, to require Schedule placement.

So those are you’re options.  Embrace the inevitable, accept the fact that humans have been altering their minds and perceptions for millenia, and plunge in head first, or clamp down even harder and burn more cash fighting the most popular recreational activity in the world, substance abuse.