Friday, October 09, 2009

Confronting the fear of legalisation

The demonisation of recreational drugs has been a sustained and well-funded campaign going back to the days of Reefer Madness and beyond. As a result, many people have an acute fear and loathing of illicit drugs, which divides them from users who have tested the truth and found the War on Drugs to be largely based on scaremongering.

Last night Dr Norm Stamper, ex Police Chief of San Diego and Seattle and who now campaigns for regulated legalisation, spoke in Sydney about this.

"I agree in principle to what you are saying," said one listener, "but how can any government possibly consider the legalisation of a drug like methamphetamine [ice]?"

Dr Stamper told the story of a person he met who had been an ice addict for ten years before getting clean, and who was similarly horrified at the prospect of legalising it. Dr Stamper replied by asking where had the addict obtained his drugs every day for ten years, and pointing out that this continuous availability showed prohibition had failed. The man hadn't thought of it that way, and neither do prohibitionists want you to see it like that.

But, as Dr Stamper pointed out, "It doesn't matter what the drug, the principle is the same."

Listeners at the Centre for Independent Studies last night went through the usual litany of objections, the next one being a concern that regulated legalisation would tempt more people to try such drugs. Dr Stamper referred to the recent Zogby Poll which asked 1,028 people this very question. Only 0.6% said 'Yes'. After all -- as I keep asking people -- if heroin was legal would you start sticking a needle in your arm? So-far the answer has been 100% 'No'.

Another scary drug is LSD which, while inspiring the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Martin Sharpe, has also messed with the brains of various 'acid casualties' -- all under prohibition of course. Yet the drug is making a research renaissance as Swiss and US clinicians find its guided use can produce excellent results in treating cluster headaches, depression and post-traumatic stress, often removing the cause of the problem rather than just masking the symptoms like legal antidepressants. Such research was shut down in the 1960s when acid was made illegal. So much for the evidence base of the War on Drugs.

Warning: Don't try this at home, especially with a new 'super LSD' available on the black market in Australia called DOI which police claim produces a three-day trip.

Pictured: Dr Norm Stamper speaking at a meeting in Parliament House last week.

1 comment:

Antinomian said...

One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under prosecution of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as life is flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. Canadian Marc Emery sold seeds that enable American farmers to outcompete cartels with superior local herb. He’s being extradited to prison, for doing what government can’t do, reduce U.S. demand for Mexican.

Only on the authority of a clause about interstate commerce does the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) reincarnate Al Capone, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Administration fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. America rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment. Father, forgive those who make it their business to know not what they do.

Nixon passed the CSA on the assurance that the Schafer Commission would justify criminalizing his enemies, but it didn’t. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use, period. Drug juries don’t seat bleeding hearts.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. John Doe’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with his maker.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law must hold that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.