Monday, June 23, 2008

Bad ice and hillbilly heroin make a joke of prohibition

A possible new kind of 'ice' and news stories about 'hillbilly heroin' underline the ineffectiveness of prohibition in controlling drug use or minimising harm from drugs.

A local retailer is most upset because both an employee and a relative appear to have been badly mentally affected after briefly smoking something sold to them as 'ice'. He claims there is a new chemical variety on the streets which has sent both people into acute psychosis, hearing voices and acting irrationally. The employee is now retrenched and the relation, a young mother, is in danger of losing her two children. 

Meanwhile ABC Radio's AM this morning reported on the abuse of pharmaceutical opioids such as MS Contin, quoting a Kings Cross drug dealer who dresses respectably and 'doctor-shops' for prescriptions. The painkillers are then onsold to addicts for injection. They may prefer heroin but tolerate this 'hillbilly heroin' because it lasts longer and costs a lot less.

Such drugs currently make up 46% of injections at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, with heroin down to 36%, while 'ice' accounts for only 6%.

Meanwhile the US reportedly has developed 'killer funguses' to spray all over the planet in order to wipe out the opium poppy and cannabis. The stupidity is that, all things being equal, the natural drugs being targeted are less dangerous than the artificial drugs described above, and even if the Yanks did poison the planet, people would just switch to other more harmful alternatives – the 'balloon effect'.

And the 600 kg of pseudo-ephedrine which disappeared from under the noses of several international police forces in the recent Mark Standen case demonstrates how the high profits of drug-trafficking under prohibition will always beat the police who can be either outsmarted, corrupted or both. That's a potential $21 million worth of ice out there wreaking havoc in one case alone.

Under a legal and regulated model only the safest drugs of any variety could be licensed, and possibly rationed, and priced low enough to make the black market unprofitable and irrelevant. 

Harm would be reduced and we wouldn't risk poisoning the planet with weapons of mass destruction. And another $21 million worth of ice would not even be in the pipeline.


The Editor said...

Prohibitionist warrior Harry Clarke had a rant on an email list recently supporting Miranda Devine:

'On-ya Miranda, the vast bulk of Australians support you. We don’t want our kids using drugs and don’t believe the propaganda from the drug treatment industry that overwhelming favours measures that will encourage the consumption of dangerous drugs.'

An AOD professional on the list replied:

'Thanks for that thought Harry – when we get to the Promised Land and no one uses drugs your point of view will become valid. Until then i.e.: in the real world – people will continue to use drugs – and it is our choice whether we want them to do so in the least or the most dangerous way.

If you want to maximize the harms associated with illicit drug use then by all means line up behind Miranda Devine – if you want to minimize those harms then just get real. Virtually everybody uses consciousness altering drugs of one kind or another – indeed the percentage of people who abstain from every mind altering chemical known are such a tiny fraction of the community that they could well be considered pathological!

Anyway I’ve got things to do in the real world. Like helping people!'

It never ceases to amaze me how the worst propagandists always accuse the other side of being propagandists, no matter what evidence or argument they posit.

Like the Jehovah's Witness pamphlet I read years ago that showed readers how to identify propaganda – and every point it made applied 100% to itself. It's called doublethink.

Terry Wright said...

"Such drugs currently make up 46% of injections at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, with heroin down to 36%, while 'ice' accounts for only 6%."

Ice is so low because there is no epidemic. It's a myth.

The abuse of legal meds is a real worry to me considering I am on a massive dose of morphine and a known (ex) heroin addict. If the government panics, which is likely, I may be switched back to methadone which would be unbearable.

Don't these pinheads realise that cracking down on one drug just moves users to another. It's always amazed me that they congratulate themselves when they have big drugs busts and then give the impression that the drugs removed from the system means some users will go without because of their efforts. There some serious lack of logic in our drug policies.

The Editor said...

"Ice is so low because there is no epidemic. It's a myth."

Partly though it's because more ice is smoked than injected. The sex workers in the Cross prefer coke to ice I am told. Local social workers tell me they see plenty of 'ice' psychosis.

Interesting too that there are far fewer ODs from pharmaceuticals than heroin (due to the known quantity of ingredients in a regulated substance).