Friday, May 24, 2013

Opiates in the News

Last Friday the Organization of American States released two groundbreaking reports on the future of drug policy in the Americas. Good coverage from CATO and Transform (links below). The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, headquartered at Simon Fraser University, released a report calling for the legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of "hard" drugs heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Meanwhile also in Canada drug users are suing the city of Abbotsford for preventing the implementation of harm reduction services. In Australia, syringe vending machines could offer 24 hour access to harm reduction equipment.
Ibogaine is in the news again. More news on Senator Joseph McCarthy, a lifelong opiate addict, and his source of morphine. Finally I included an interview with two heroin dependent sex workers from Russia. The article is hard to read, the women are regularly raped, beaten, robbed and degraded. The worst offenders are the police.

Here's the links:

A Look at the OAS Report on Drug Policy in the Americas from CATO

Organization of American States launches groundbreaking report exploring alternatives to the war on drugs from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation

A Public Vote Shouldn't Decide Drug Users' Access to Health Care

Imagine if your city government decided to take a public vote to determine whether you and your family members should have access to health care. Based on what the public decides about your mother and her illness, and not what her doctors, your city government says it will pass a bylaw that prevents her and others in her situation from receiving that treatment in their home community. Maybe they decide that your mother is not entitled to receive the insulin she needs to manage her diabetes. Preposterous and unreasonable? Absolutely. But, this is exactly what happens when municipal governments decide to ban harm reduction services based on public opinion and stigma about drugs and the people who use them.

Decriminalize heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines to fight addiction, B.C. report says

“While countries all around the world are adopting forward-thinking, evidence-based drug policies, Canada is taking a step backwards and strengthening punitive policies that have been proven to fail,” states a summary of the 112-page report from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, headquartered at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.[snip] 
But by far the most controversial recommendation calls for the end to prohibition of not only “soft” drugs like marijuana, but also products like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.
The report notes that at least 25 jurisdictions around the world have moved to decriminalize at least some drugs, with Portugal in 2001 and the Czech Republic in 2010 ending prohibition for all drugs. 
“After decriminalization and similar to Portugal, drug use (among Czechs) has not increased significantly but the social harms of drug use have declined,” the report stated.
“In Portugal decriminalization has had the effect of decreasing the numbers of people injecting drugs, decreasing the number of people using drugs problematically, and decreasing trends of drug use among 15 to 24 year olds.”
VICE on HBO: Can an Obscure -- and Illegal -- African Plant Help Cure Heroin and Opiate Addiction?
Ibogaine is a psychoactive alkaloid naturally occurring in the West African shrub iboga. While it is a mild stimulant in small doses, in larger doses it induces a profound psychedelic state. Historically, it has been used in healing ceremonies and initiations by members of the Bwiti religion in various parts of West Africa. People with problematic substance use have found that larger doses of ibogaine can significantly reduce withdrawal from opiates and temporarily eliminate substance-related cravings.
According to the country’s first de-facto drug czar, Harry Anslinger, McCarthy’s addiction was enabled by the federal government. Anslinger, who served as chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, is credited with successfully demonizing “marijuana” as causing addiction and insanity, murder and mayhem. More than any other political figure, Anslinger was responsible for criminalizing opiates and its users. And his word was gospel when it came to the country’s nascent war on drugs. 
In his 1961 memoir, The Murderers, Anslinger wrote about finding out, in the 1950s, that a prominent senator (whom he left unnamed) was addicted to morphine. When confronted by Anslinger, the politician refused to stop, even daring Anslinger to reveal his addiction, saying it would cause irreparable harm to the “Free World.”  Anslinger responded to this gambit by securing the lawmaker a steady supply of dope from a Washington, DC, pharmacy. (Morphine taken by prescription was, then as now, legal.) 
Anslinger’s acquiescence was a testament to just how feared McCarthy was in his heyday. Few dared to speak above a whisper about his evident alcoholism. “[He] went on for some time, guaranteed his morphine because it was underwritten by the Bureau," Anslinger wrote. "On the day he died I thanked God for relieving me of my burden."
“Who’s going to believe us? We’re not people, we’re animals”

The war on drugs has been going on for the last 50 years.  And yet, there is just as much drugs in the world and just as many drug users.  The war on drugs hasn’t made treatment and care any more accessible.  Its only achievement is that it’s profited the ones in power at the expense of other people’s misfortunes, while filling the lives of the sick and impoverished drug users with even more humiliation and suffering. 
 One of the outcomes of the war is that drug users are treated as outcasts who are denied their basic rights.  They have nowhere to turn for help. And those who are supposed to be protecting them–our so-called “law enforcement” officers–rape, abuse and kill them. The most vulnerable, powerless, and disparaged victims of this war are women.

Assorted Links:

Syringe Vending Machines Proposed in Australia

The Importance of Good Samaritan Laws: Jon Bon Jovi recalls his sadness when his daughter suffered a heroin overdose

American Teens Are Being Trapped in Abusive 'Drug Rehab Centres'

Is the INCB Dangerous to Your Health? 5 Ways the UN’s Drug Watchdog Fails on Health and Human Rights

From Twitter:

OpPoppyField ‏@BobD1984
Fed Govt is the drunken step-dad nobody asked for. Willing to beat and imprison you for using "drugs".I have a father. I don't need a daddy.

 The Colbert Report ‏@ColbertReport
"I'm no fan of drugs, they're immoral. Hey, drug mules, swallow that heroin without a condom. Family values."

 The House I Live In ‏@DrugWarMovie
"There's so much Orwelian euphemism in new laws which are being created. Politician are making laws to feed the monster of profiteering" EJ

 jess cochrane ‏@jkcochrane
"There's nothing about my pee that tells you how I parent." - @LynnPaltrow of @NAPW #warofthewomb #criminalizingparents

 Erowid Center ‏@erowid
Thoughts are free and are subject to no rule.”
— Paracelsus (1493–1541)

Follow me on Twitter @opiophilia for regular updates on articles of interest.

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