Drugs are bad mkay

So before the zero people who read this have a go at me for not posting for ages and how blogs need tender loving care and constant attention for them to work…

1) I went on honeymoon (it was amazing)

2) Then I got really sad about the state of our world and how we are really up shit creek (non Aussies who certainly aren’t reading this: up shit creek = screwed, in trouble, fucked)

3) This sadness meant I coped by watching alot of Black Sails (hello, get on it people) and Bitten (the werewolf version of Days of our Lives – errrrmagerrrrrd) and taking up then quitting healthy eating

But now I’m back, namely because a very cool friend posed a question about legalising drugs and I opened my mouth to rant and then realised I needed to do alot more research before I became what I hate: an ignorant opinionated fuckwit.

opnionated fwit

So now I bring to you a post on drugs!

My friend actually asked what my opinion was on legalising drugs – but when I started thinking about all this, in my mind this question was too hard to answer without having an in depth look at drugs, their effect on us, the laws around drugs and all that shit. Therefore, I’m kind of being a pain in the ass and changing the topic to the decriminalisation of drugs.

In Australia, over 26,000 people were surveyed in 2010 for a Federal Government drug survey. The survey showed some key things: positive and significant reductions in daily smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and a small overall rise in illicit drug use (and if you’re whingeing about my sources, piss off or go click the hyperlink, I’m not footnoting here, its a goddamn blog).

So, what the hell does this all mean? Let me get my opinion out the way first (lame you say, oh well, you are on my site!), and then we can go over to the legalities and the decriminlisation of drugs.

I have often had people accusing me of being judgemental and intolerant of drug use. I think for some of those years, I was judgemental – after all, as a 15 year old, opinionated, loud, attention seeking girl – I wanted people to go somewhere else to smoke (not in MY FACE) and get high. Eventually, I learned to differentiate between evil people (rapists, serial killers, law makers who restrict abortion) and people who took drugs (my best friend, hot guys on a night out, my uni lecturer, all the cool movies at the time). My stance on drugs for me didn’t change, and I also didn’t hang out with my friends when they were high – I wasn’t on the same wavelength, and they didn’t want me there.

unicorn

I have seen, read and heard the arguments about the impact recreational drug use doesn’t have – many people have told me I’m wrong to think it affects health and wellbeing, and they quote all the reasons why it is awesome and all the famous genius people who have saved human kind whilst high. I don’t disagree with any of that – and I try not to judge people for wanting to have fun and get high.

But there is also a different side to the story. I have witnessed dope having an adverse effect on people around me. I have alot of friends who smoke dope regularly, and more who smoke it heaps and heaps. Most of them are totally fine, but some have suffered for it. A friend of a friend has been almost ruined by it – and seeing him suffer and struggle means I can’t agree when people say it is harmless and has no impact on long term brain function, how we feel about ourselves and our mental health.

I’ve had major ‘discussions’ with people who eat healthily and treat their bodies as temples in the gym, who then go and take pills all weekend. Really? You’re claiming white bread will ruin your body and mind but ecstasy chased with diet soda and vodka won’t? Get fucked!

Further to my personal opinions, I think the discussion on legalising dope for its recreational use is short sighted in a global sense. I don’t think this is the biggest issue – I think utilising hemp products for many other uses is much more important than whether someone can roll a spliff and have a legal puff on the weekends.

Right, now I’m outed as a straight laced do gooder, I don’t expect or need others to share my opinion. All I ask is what you ask of me, that you don’t ignore the medically proven negative effects drugs can have, and in turn I won’t ignore all the medically proven positive effects some illicit drugs.

Last year at the 2013 Federal Election (where Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party formed government) the Drug Law Reform Party (DLRP) ran for seats advocating for a Royal Commission into Illicit Drugs to explore the the health, economic and social costs and the impact on crime and corruption that drugs have. I think a Royal Commission is a fantastic idea! The issue with the DLRP though was that it already decided what it wanted from the Commission. The DLRP already had policy stating it wants Australia to legalise the production and sale of drugs like New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland and Colorado and Washington have tried – this is all explained here, and where alot of my information for this blog originated.

Perhaps the Royal Commission would also have this as a recommendation, but we actually need to be less prescriptive with our research!

The very cool and forward thinking countries above moved away from strict drug guidelines with varying degrees of success. Comparing countries is pretty darn hard but a good way to try and predict the impacts on slow moving Oz.

As this very cool website says, it is crucial to distinguish between providing a drug for therapeutic purposes, decriminalisation (which reduces legal penalties for drug personal use) and commercial legalisation which would allow the substance to be sold to the public, like alcohol and tobacco. Switzerland provides heroin as part of treatment for people dependent on opiates, but has not legalised drugs for the wider population. Portugal decriminalised personal use of illicit drugs but continues to prohibit production and trafficking; Colorado and Washington are in the process of legalising cannabis though the details are not yet clear; New Zealand is planning to legalise synthetic substances if they prove to be safe, although none are yet tested.

WHAAAAAT?

So a case study: Portugal has been dabbling in the drugs and law thing for 12 years. It eliminated criminal penalties for drug users. Since then, those caught with small amounts of marijuana, cocaine or heroin go unindicted and possession is a misdemeanor on par with illegal parking. Experts are pretty pleased with the results, but some still have concerns about normalising drug use, especially as they are now seeing the next generation of kids coming through high school knowing exactly how many pills they can carry without getting in shit. Is that the point of this whole thing? To encourage teens to not get busted with pingers? I think not.

In America, the land of creative and colourful law making (ha!), they have a War on Drugs (dum dum duuuuuum!) This scary war is based on harsh enforcement measures such as long prison sentences, mandatory minimum sentences for first time offenders, pretty crappy theories on providing methadone and other pharmacotherapies for drug dependent people, and the refusal to provide needles and other equipment for people who inject drugs.

Wow – way to kick people whilst they are down! Thankfully, this is not the same here in laid back Oz. In Australia, we focus on extensive treatment programs (read: methadone), community based needle exchanges, and initiatives to prevent prison time for offenders. In some states people who are charged with drug possession offences, and have no record of violence, can avoid convictions if they attend a treatment program (check the link above, this is all there set out by Australian Drug Foundation’s Head of Policy, Geoff Munro in response to a request from The 7PM Project for analysis of the Drug Law Reform Party’s election platform).

In 2012, a national report into illicit drugs recommended decriminalising ecstasy and dope under a government controlled program aimed at helping curb addiction.

Read – contrary to popular belief socially (ie FB posts about legalising dope because it is awesome), the aim isn’t to encourage people to use it, it is to manage addiction.

The 52 page report proposed to establish a government supplier for dope and pingers. The report lists the following which you can also read in detail from link above.

The drugs would be available to people over 16, who would then be supported by counselling and treatment programs. The report also recommends similar programs for heroin users. Professor Bob Douglas says it is clear prohibition is not working, and Australia needs to have a serious debate about legalising controlled drug use.

One of the arguments for legalisation is that it would reduce the black market and criminal networks associated with the drug trade. Other arguments include moving the problem away from police and the criminal justice system and concentrating responses within health. Again – from a health point of view, drugs are still bad! We could also collect tax revenue from drugs as we already currently do from gambling, alcohol and tobacco.

The alternating research says that calculations assuming drugs – namely dope, heroin, cocaine, and could be made legal, and the price paid by consumers would remain the same is silly. Further, creating a legal market for drugs would create a powerful industry that will try to reduce regulation and public accountability, just as alcohol and tobacco producers and retailers oppose every attempt to control them (see more here, as suggested by this still awesome site).

The strongest argument against legalisation is that it would result in significant increases in drug use. We know that currently legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, are widely consumed and associated with an extensive economic burden to society – including hospital admissions, alcoholism treatment programs and public nuisance – this is all in the survey I mention off the top. So why create an environment where this may also come to pass for currently illegal drugs?

The moral argument against legalisation suggests the use of illegal drugs is amoral, anti-social and otherwise not acceptable in today’s society. The concern is that legalisation would “send the wrong message”.

An alternative to legalisation is decriminalisation, which means a reduction of legal penalties. This can be done either by changing them to civil penalties, such as fines, or by diverting drug use offenders away from a criminal conviction and into education or treatment options (also known as “diversion”), which is what Australia currently does.

Decriminlisation doesn’t address the black market and criminal networks of drug selling. The moral arguement about the message we send about drugs also applies here.

In Oz, we have already decriminalised dope: we have diversion programs (all Australian states and territories), and have moved to civil penalties (such as fines in SA, ACT and NT – dem be da smart states). According to the research here, the case study of Portugal suggests that drug use rates don’t rise under decriminalisation, and there are measurable savings to the criminal justice system.

So what do we do? Where do we go with all this?

From my delving into the internets and thinking about all these issues, I guess I’m still coming back this: I don’t believe anyone, whether they be 60 or 16, should be encouraged to use drugs that can be harmful. It is such a complex issue and we haven’t even gone into the legal drugs – alcohol and tobacco is legal but grog kills 3,000 Australians and puts 70,000 into hospital each year. You all know from first hand baking experiments and weekend benders that drugs don’t have to have a negative effect. But how many of you also know that these same experiments and benders can lead  some people to addiction, mental health issues and more?

For me, the decriminalisation of illicit drugs seems sensible – and it seems to be in line with what we already try and do in Australia. That is, recreational use isn’t criminalised and the support network via health and medical funding is geared towards support and treatment rather than a strike system and leaving people isolated without help. This system is also less preachy and less uptight about recreational uses for drugs and seeks more to educate and work with the community – kind of like how we deal with underage drinking!

So – who knows – this post has contributed to nothing except making people hungry, bored and frustrated – please leave constructive comments below if you feel the urge, respectful discussion is always welcome (we don’t need to relive stories from your glory days, we are talking law making, not the perfect hash cookie…)

 

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8 Responses to Drugs are bad mkay

  1. Good points… LUV the memes!
    My major comment is on mental health, which you briefly touched on.
    – The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that an estimated 3.2 million Australians (20% of the population aged between 16 and 85) had a mental disorder (https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/)… that is a HUGE chunk of the population!
    – Studies in Britain have found that taking eccies can cause brain damage and a higher incidence of depression (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/16/1047749663424.html), with the damage remaining for 7 years!
    – Studies in america have found that taking eccies decreased the amount of serotonin in women, impeding; appetite, sleep, memory, learning, temperature control, feelings of well being, muscle contraction, cardiovascular function, endocrine regulation, regulating aging, bone metabolism, and wound healing (http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1151061&resultClick=3)

    So I would argue that given the percentage of the population ALREADY suffering from a mental disorder recreational drugs such as ecstasy should never be available. However I am always a fan of more research! There is simply not enough currently available.

    Conversely, other drugs such as hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” may in fact be helpful to 20% of our population. A single dose was enough to bring about a measureable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the participants in a new study, according to Johns Hopkins researchers (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/single_dose_of_hallucinogen_may_create_lasting_personality_change). Lasting change was found in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness (I can think of a lot of pople who would benefit from that). Whilst I still dont agree with public consumption, again based on the fact there is not enough research, use for terminally ill patients for improving depression and anxiety seems like a good next step.

    • krik16 says:

      Yes Ashlyn! I have heard the magic shrooms research before – cool! The mental health issues are so important, and it is frustrating to see on social media the apparent lack of understanding and thought about how to combat this…

  2. kaye says:

    Great anvassing of the issues. Thank you

  3. kaye says:

    try canvassing

  4. Keg says:

    lots of valid points kristie and a very interesting topic.
    Here’s a few things that i believe should happen. First Marijuana, should definitely be legalised.
    There’s so many benefits to this plant, and more so the non hallucinogenic part.

    Pros of hemp –

    -1 acre of hemp will produce as much paper as 2 to 4 acres of trees.Better quality, durabilty, less chemicals etc.
    -Hemp seeds contain a protein that is more nutritious and more economical to produce than soybean protein
    -can grow anywhere very easy, faster to grow
    -Hemp seed oil can be used to produce non-toxic diesel fuel, paint, varnish, detergent, ink and lubricating oil
    -can be used in housing,food,nutrition, fiber, fuel.
    the list goes on. these are just the useful parts of the plant, usually male which doesn’t produce the thc which is what delivers the high.
    -tax revenue

    http://hempbasics.com/shop/hemp-information

    THC – it makes you happy.
    -its safe. how many people have you heard die from a marijuana over dose? none. That’s because the LD50 (lethal dose that will kill 50% of people)
    is 1500 pounds smoked in 20 mins. good luck smoking that much reefer!
    just like alcohol though, you should not be allowed to drive, work, etc under the influence.
    -medicinal use. no need to say more
    -less criminal activity
    -its not an abusive/violent drug, like alcohol. most people are chilled and dgaf.
    -opens up creativity, focus, perception, awareness, love

    cons of hemp – none?

    cons of thc
    – society values? i think this has been looked at as such a bad drug for so long that its not accepted still. in australia anyways.
    but i see this is starting to fade. people need to be better educated of this drug and understand it better.
    -one thing im not too sure of. abuse of thc and how it can actually send people into derp mode for good.
    I’ve seen this happen with a family friend, major abuse of marijuana and now hes off with the faries. This happened after losing his wife and kids
    through a divorce. So to me im not certain that what he is atm was caused strictly from marijuana abuse, or actually caused by the mental trauma of losing
    his family.
    I say this because hes the only person i know whose gone bad, i know alot more people who smoke more than him who are perfectly fine.
    Maybe some people have a chemical disposition to thc that dont cope well?
    -makes you hungry for junk food

    i could go on more for pros and cons. but at the very least, hemp should be made legal. Nothing negative from hemp and so much to gain.
    im uncertain of the negative effects of thc, but im certain is not even close to the damage that alcohol or tobacco causes.
    its been classed as a drug for so long that its seen as ‘bad’, either way teenagers are going to get a hold of this drug.
    abuse of thc seems to be the only issue i can come up with, so educate people better so they can make the right decisions with it.

    i don’t feel any other drug should be legalised. However i feel there should be more drugs used for medicinal purposes.
    mdma and psilocybin should 100% be used for ptsd. again im uncertain of how much if at all it is used medically in aus, but ive never heard of it so probably
    not enough.
    also the use of ayahuasca to treat people addicted to opiates, oxycodone etc. doctors in USA are taking patients over to mexico where its legal to administer the drug
    and curing people with chronic addictions within a one week session.

    so many benefits from drugs like this are seen as bad because they are hallucinogenic. More education and better understanding to everyone, including the people
    in charge so stuff like this cant be cock blocked when it can be used to really help people in need.

    Maybe our PM should have a bong and a few mushies, and see there’s more to life than being a right winged cunt!

  5. Keg says:

    Lots of valid points kristie and a very interesting topic.
    Here’s a few things that i believe should happen. First Marijuana, should definitely be legalised.
    There’s so many benefits to this plant, and more so the non hallucinogenic part.

    Pros of hemp –

    -1 acre of hemp will produce as much paper as 2 to 4 acres of trees.Better quality, durability, less chemicals etc.
    -Hemp seeds contain a protein that is more nutritious and more economical to produce than soybean protein
    -can grow anywhere very easy, faster to grow
    -Hemp seed oil can be used to produce non-toxic diesel fuel, paint, varnish, detergent, ink and lubricating oil
    -can be used in housing,food,nutrition, fiber, fuel.
    the list goes on. these are just the useful parts of the plant, usually male which doesn’t produce the thc which is what delivers the high.
    -tax revenue

    http://hempbasics.com/shop/hemp-information

    THC – it makes you happy.
    -its safe. how many people have you heard die from a marijuana over dose? none. That’s because the LD50 (lethal dose that will kill 50% of people)
    is 1500 pounds smoked in 20 mins. good luck smoking that much reefer!
    just like alcohol though, you should not be allowed to drive, work, etc under the influence.
    -medicinal use. no need to say more
    -less criminal activity
    -its not an abusive/violent drug, like alcohol. most people are chilled and dgaf.
    -opens up creativity, focus, perception, awareness, love

    cons of hemp – none?

    cons of thc
    – society values? i think this has been looked at as such a bad drug for so long that its not accepted still. in australia anyways.
    but i see this is starting to fade. people need to be better educated of this drug and understand it better.
    -one thing I’m not too sure of. abuse of thc and how it can actually send people damaged for good.
    I’ve seen this happen with a family friend, major abuse of marijuana and now hes off with the faries. This happened after losing his wife and kids
    through a divorce. So to me im not certain that what he is atm was caused strictly from marijuana abuse, or actually caused by the mental trauma of losing
    his family. The marijuana that society sees as a drug, could be his only escape from a harsh reality and into his own peaceful place.
    I say this because hes the only person i know whose gone bad, i know alot more people who smoke more than him who are perfectly fine.
    Maybe some people have a chemical disposition to thc that dont cope well?
    -makes you hungry for junk food

    I could go on more for pros and cons but at the very least, hemp should be made legal. Nothing negative from hemp and so much to gain.
    I’m uncertain of the negative effects of thc, but im certain it’s not even close to the damage that alcohol or tobacco causes.
    It’s been classed as a drug for so long that it’s seen as ‘bad’, either way teenagers are going to get a hold of this drug.
    abuse of thc seems to be the only issue i can come up with, so educate people better so they can make the right decisions with it. It’s been over a decade since
    I’ve been to high school and I hope things have changed, but I remember nothing on the subject of drugs. If there was it was not sufficient enough. My only learning
    experience was watching other kids smoke pipes in tech studies class and blowing the smoke up the machine ducts, and getting away with it.
    Why is marijuana drummed into kids heads as something so bad by their parents, do the parents truely know what they are talking about. Have they experienced it?

    Regarding the mental health side of things, and snippets taken from http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/mentalhealthproblems/alcoholanddrugs/cannabisandmentalhealth.aspx

    “research has strongly suggested that there is a clear link between early cannabis use and later mental health problems
    in those with a ==genetic vulnerability== – and that there is a particular issue with the use of cannabis by ==adolescents==.
    It seemed that, the more cannabis someone used, the more likely they were to develop symptoms.
    Why should teenagers be particularly vulnerable to the use of cannabis? No one knows for certain, but it may be something to do with brain development.
    The brain is still developing in the teenage years – up to the age of around 20”

    How many teenagers do you think are aware that smoking at a young age could potentially cause this harm? The studies don’t really go into detail about
    the amount consumed for these mental health effects to take place. But by the sounds of the above quote of “the more used the more likely they are”, most
    of the harmful effects people seemed to be worried about are from abuse of this drug. Like any drug, abuse of course will be harmful.

    Some of our greatest enjoyments in life are a creation of drugs, many if not most of the best artist, all huge drug users who wrote their music inspired and under
    the influence of drugs. Then performed on drugs, while we enjoy. Paintings, art work, writers, comedians, professional sports players. its a commonly known fact in the NBA
    players smoke weed before games because they play better, better awareness, touch, sense.
    No one ever complains about this?

    I don’t feel any other drug should be legalised. However i feel there should be more drugs used for medicinal purposes.
    mdma and psilocybin should 100% be used for ptsd. again im uncertain of how much if at all it is used medically in aus, but ive never heard of it so probably
    not much.
    also the use of ayahuasca (pronounced iowaska) to treat people addicted to opiates, oxycodone etc. doctors in USA are taking patients over to mexico where its legal to administer the drug
    and curing people with chronic addictions within a one week session.

    I find it very discouraging when many people want to use drugs such as marijuana, psilocybin, dmt (the active ingredient in ayahuasca) for their own spiritual
    purposes but cant. The amount of positive feedback from doctors and people who want to get in touch with their spiritual side, in touch with other peoples spiritual side
    is ridiculous. I bet if you me these people you would be shocked at their outlook on life. How these are the people who actually care, about themselves, others, and the planet.
    To stop someone who is seeking to better themselves and life in general, that is harmless to others, is wrong.

    All of the above in short. I think marijuana could work well legalised, everyone, not just the younger generation needs more education on this drug.
    I think the most worrying issues involved could be avoided with age restrictions and no drug abuse. (just like alcohol)
    Drugs which aren’t harmful to others and self beneficial should be at least decriminalised.
    More education.
    More use of hallucinogenics medically

    And finally our PM should have a bong and a few mushies, and see there’s more to life than being a right winged cunt!

  6. Ani says:

    So I was integrated to see where the research took you and smugly I’m not surprised. I have a hard time reconciling my ideas that the general population needs to be able to make their own choices and the idea that one of those choice options is very very bad for you. To me this argument reminds me of the bike helmet one to an extent, many people believe it should be personal choice. They happen to be wrong 😉

    I was interested in your legal information here, it’s good to see that very sensible people are making choices about health for people who can’t.

  7. Keg says:

    Krik16- see I think after reading all of the above you’ve made the case for the decriminalisation of marijuana for recreational use but you’ve listed all the things that can happen from a mental health point of view – so I don’t think it should be legalised. Decriminalisation will mean that using it won’t mean jail time, but it also means it won’t be encouraged either. Of course you can pull examples of successful people who use dope and are fine, that was one of my points in the blog, but we all know people who aren’t ok also. And whilst solely blaming dope isn’t the answer, the correlation between mental illness and dope is proven and not something we can write off. Re your last comment – I have no response to bongs and mushies, but it made me lose my shit!

    keg – Mental health is the only issue. All the studies show that people who who are most affected are those who smoke frequently under the age of 15, they have a higher chance of developing a psychotic disorder, depression or these later in life. This isn’t a legal issue, they shouldn’t be smoking this young regardless.
    People who have a family background of mental illness – and so probably have a genetic vulnerability anyway – are more likely to develop schizophrenia if they use cannabis as well.

    So the biggest problems we have in regards to mental health are young users, people who are vulnerable and abuse. Which I beleive will stay this way if it’s legal or not. Education will help fix those problems, I dont think making it legal would make it worse. Make the penalty for underage users harsher.

    kirk16- I totally disagree, legalising something makes misuse and abuse easier, more accessible and can actually make the education and medical support more difficult. Further, I don’t accept that the research says only u15 kids who abuse dope will have mental illness.

    keg- I never said “only”, its the people who are most likely to be effected by mental issues, depression and anxiety, are kids under the age of 15. Thats fact. Every single study mentions this. Next is abuse of the drug. Regardless of legalities these are things that need to be the focus point, especially use amongst kids. Greater understanding of this drug can go along way to preventing these issues, as its already a problem and its illegal. I find it interesting out of everything I originally wrote you mainly seem to focus on the fact it shouldn’t be legal because of mental health, while i agree this is the major issue, it wasnt gone into much depth in your original post, which makes me feel you already have a pre determined outlook on this subject. My argument is that possibly alot of the issues we have with mental health can hopefully be prevented with better education. Focusing on underage use, and abuse. With an end picture that society will be able to use this plant for all the benefits its has, rather than it just seen as a drug and not used at all.

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