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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you all enjoy yourselves and have something to be thankful for (like a huge bag of weed). 


I guess I'll have to take down my pumpkin picture now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Drugs You Won’t Believe Are Not Controlled Substances

Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 established the legal precedent for our current drug control policies in the United States.  The law is more commonly referred to as the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), and it is an extensive and complex piece of legislation that dictates restrictions on a multitude of substances.  With so many drugs falling under the control of the CSA, it would seem that the government has covered it’s bases when it comes to potential drugs of abuse.  However, despite the extensive restrictions placed on seemingly every drug one could think of, some have still managed to fall through the cracks.  For this reason, I present to you the reader, ten drugs you won’t believe aren’t controlled substances.
Before we begin, there are some things that I should take the time to clarify.  To start, when I say a “controlled substance,” I mean exactly that, a drug that is subject to restrictions and limitations as dictated by the Controlled Substance Act.  For our purposes, we will not be discussing any drugs that are controlled by the CSA, however some of the substances I will mention may be controlled in other ways.  Ultimately what is implied by a drug not being a controlled substance, is that an individual may self administer the drug as they see fit without needing to jump through any of the legal hoops set forth by the CSA.

10.  L-Dopamine:
            Most drugs of abuse have a profound impact on the reward center of the brain, which is expressed by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Dopamine is the brain’s way of rewarding the body for a job well done.  Weather it be finding food, laughing at something funny, or reaching sexual climax, dopamine is released to inform the individual that what they have done is good, and that if they would like to be rewarded with dopamine again, they can do so by participating that activity again.
            Drugs can also release dopamine, and in particular stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine cause the brain to release massive quantities of dopamine, making the user feel better than they have ever felt in their entire life.  Both methamphetamine and cocaine are controlled substances, and it seems unusual that synthetic forms of the main neurotransmitter that those drugs act upon are not controlled as well.  L-Dopamine is not controlled by the CSA, and is considered a research chemical, and thus it is widely available on the Internet.

9.  L-Adrenaline:
            Adrenaline or epinephrine/norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body, and is typically associated with the “fight or flight” response.  It could be said that adrenaline is the drug of choice for “adrenaline junkies” and those who like to get “high on life.”  In reality, adrenaline might not actually be the cause of the good vibes that adrenaline junkies and “life addicts” experience, and it is more likely that those feelings are caused by dopamine and endorphins.  However, considering that it is the position of the federal government that one does not get high on anything, it seems odd that this one also falls under the category of research chemical.

8.  JWH-018
            JWH-018 is an analgesic compound that acts at cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and produces similar effects as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.  The acronym JWH stands for John W. Huffman, who was one of the developers of the substance.  This drug is sometimes found in “legal highs” that are intended to substitute cannabis.  Such legal highs are often sold as incense, or in the case of raw JWH-018 it is sometimes sold as plant fertilizer.  JWH-018 may be subject to control soon, as it is currently being researched as a painkiller due to its analgesic properties.

7.  Nitrous Oxide:
            Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has a variety of applications including automobile performance, aerosol propellant (commonly used in whip cream canisters), and anesthesia.  If you have ever had a cavity filled, there is a good chance your dentist used this gas to take your mind off the fact that he is drilling through your teeth. 
When inhaled, nitrous oxide produces disorientation, auditory hallucinations, and a profound sense of euphoria.  The downside is that none of these effects last longer than a minute after the gas is exhaled.  However that doesn’t prevent individuals from chronically abusing the drug, and deaths have occurred by asphyxiation when individuals have attempted to use the gas in a confined space such as a plastic bag or closet in order to prolong the effects.

6.  2C-I
This one is a tricky one, as it technically could be considered a controlled substance based on the CSA analogs act, which automatically makes any analog of a schedule I or II drug a controlled substance by default.  On the other hand, if it is not sold for human consumption, it may pass that criterion and be available for sale for some other purpose such as a research chemical.  The drug is similar in structure to that of 2C-B, which is a psychedelic drug and a controlled substance.  Its effects have been described as combination of LSD and ecstasy.  Other than that, the drug is virtually unstudied, and little is known about its toxicity and side effects.

5.  Salvia
            Now we are getting into more familiar territory for most.  Salvia divinorum, or the diviner’s sage, is a powerful psychoactive herb.  Its main psychoactive compound is a powerful k-opioid receptor agonist, or in other words it acts at similar brain receptors that opiate drugs do.  It is often sold as incense, and can be smoke or ingested.  Its effects include, uncontrollable laughter, hallucinations; feelings of becoming one with objects and well… if you really want to see what happens just look it up on youtube. 
The DEA currently has its sticky fingers and prying eyes fixated on salvia, so there is a good chance that it won’t be legal for long, so you know, stock up (seriously though, don’t).  Also, according to Wikipedia, which for our purposes will serve as the culmination of all of humankind’s knowledge, the liquor and tobacco industries are two of the main lobbyers for salvias classification as a controlled substance.  It is kind of ironic that two industries that contribute to some of the most numerous cases of preventable death want a drug to be illegal isn’t it?

4.  Tramadol:
            Tramadol is a synthetic opiate analgesic painkiller.  It is not a controlled substance in the United States, although a prescription is typically required in order to acquire the drug.  The effects are similar to other opiate painkillers such as vicodin, and like all other opiates, tramadol is addictive.  Unlike other opiate however, tramadol has the withdrawal symptoms of regular opiates in conjunction with more dangerous withdrawals symptoms such as seizures, which can be fatal as cardiac arrest can occur.  In addition, tramadol acts as a selective norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitor in the same manor that antidepressants such as prozac do, which means that it has a myriad of unsafe drug interactions.  Don’t mess with this one my few and dedicated readers, its bad news in a little white pill.

3.  Phenazapam:
            This one you probably haven’t heard of, and it’s another one of those drugs that falls through the legal loopholes of “not intended for human consumption,” and “for research purposes only.”  Phenazapam is a benzodiazepine like valium (diazepam) and xanax (alazopram), and it is considered to be about four times as powerful as xanax.  Like all benzodiazepines, phenazapam has the potential to produce amnesia, euphoria, and physical dependence.  Benzodiazepines act on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain in a similar fashion to alcohol.  Withdrawals from benzodiazepines can be fatal due to the potential for seizures to occur after cessation of the drug.

2. Dextromethorphan:
            If you have taken an over the counter cough medicine recently, odds are you have ingested this drug.  Dextromethorphan was used to replace the opiate codeine as a cough suppressant in over the counter cough preparations, when it was determined that the abuse potential for codeine was to great to allow individuals to self administer the drug.  Interestingly enough, dextromethorphan is closely related to two powerful opiate analgesics, levorphanal and levomethorphan.  Levorphanal has the same properties as morphine in terms of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal, although it is about four to eight time as powerful as morphine.
            Of course, dextromethorphan is not an opiate itself, nor does it produce the effects of opiates when used recreationally.  At therapeutic doses used in cold medications, dextromethorphan acts as an antitussive, and relieves cough.  However at high doses far exceeding dose recommendations for cough suppression, dextromethorphan acts as a powerful disassociative psychedelic.  Dextromethorphan is an NMDA receptor antagonist, and has a mechanism of action similar to that of ketamine (special K) and phencyclidine (PCP).
            You may have seen news stories in the last few years describing a group of teenagers getting sent to the hospital after ingesting a whole pack of cold medicine in an attempt to “dex” or “robotrip.”  In other words, they were trying to get high off of cold medicine, and overdosed on the other active ingredients in the drug, typically acetaminophen or whatever nasal decongestant was in the medicine.  Of course, overdoses of dextromethorphan can also occur, and dextromethorphan’s lethal dose is only about ten times greater than its effective dose.

1.  Alcohol:
            "Wait what, alcohol?" 
Yes, alcohol.  Alcohol is subject to other forms of legal control, but it is not a substance controlled by the CSA, and users are free to self-administer the drug as they see fit. 
"Wait, alcohol is a drug?"
Yes, alcohol is a psychoactive drug, and a very, very powerful drug at that.  Alcohol affects the brain in a similar manor to benzodiazepines and barbiturates as it increases levels of GABA in the brain.  GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, and slows neuronal activity.  What this means for the user is that when GABA is released by alcohol, one feels calm and relaxed.
Alcohol use is pervasive in nearly all western cultures, and most of us don’t think a thing of it when we have drink or six.  Alcohol has been used for thousands of years by many different societies, and well, that is pretty much one of the main reasons for it remaining legal.  That and the fact that the last time our government tried to prohibit it’s use, it didn’t go so well.  Many would argue that our experience with alcohol is a perfect example of why prohibiting the use of drugs is generally ineffective.
In every state in the United States, one is considered to be legally intoxicated by alcohol with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%.  Fatalities due to alcohol overdose occur with a BAC of about 0.45% - 0.5%, although some may be more or less susceptible to its toxic effects depending on the individual’s tolerance for the drug.  This means that alcohol’s lethal dose is only about six times greater than its effective dose, making it about as dangerous as heroin in terms of potential risk of fatal overdose, yikes!  Unlike heroin, alcohol use causes far more extensive damage to the body’s organs, as it is a solvent.  The risk of overdosing on alcohol is about three times greater than the risk of overdosing on cocaine, and about one hundred and fifty times greater than the risk of overdosing on cannabis or psilocybin (magic mushrooms), that is, if one was even able to ingest that much cannabis or shrooms.
Alcohol is also addictive, and alcohol addiction is referred to as alcoholism.  According to the Henningfield and Benowitz ratings, of all drugs of abuse, alcohol has the worst withdrawal severity, and produces the strongest physical intoxication, worse than cocaine, and worse than heroin.  In other words alcohol is bar none, the most powerful and dangerous drug one can acquire legal or otherwise.  Now, remind me again, why it is perfectly acceptable to drink alcohol, but it isn’t okay do smoke cannabis?  Oh, right, there is absolutely no rational, logical reason for that prerogative whatsoever.

To sum up, the CSA hardly controls all drugs that could potentially be abused, nor could it, as when one is made illegal, another will quickly take its place.  In addition, many out and out illegal drugs such as cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin are far safer, and much less likely to be abused than society’s current legal drug of choice, alcohol.  In light of this, one must wonder, have I have over looked something about drugs such as cannabis, or do our policy makers have their heads crammed so far up their rear ends, that they can’t see the light of day, let alone the obvious differences in safety between alcohol and many schedule I drugs?

An Additional Note:
In this article I have discussed the availability of a number of rather unsafe substance, and in no uncertain terms should my dissemination of this information be considered permission from me to seek out and abuse said substances.  In fact, this article is meant to serve as a warning as to how unsafe these drugs actually are.  Some of the drugs I have mentioned have never really been tested on humans, or even animals, and there is no possible way to know how dangerous they actually may be.  If you disregard my warnings and attempt to seek out and abuse said substances, let it be known that you’re intelligence is likely on par with a large rock or a bag of hammers.  Seriously, do not even think about messing around with the drugs I have discussed, it could be the last thing you ever do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The First U.S. "Cannabis Cafe" to open in...Portland?

Well this is a bit of a shocker, but the first "cannabis cafe" is to open in this good 'ol fun love'n country of ours, and its set to open in Portland, OR.  Really, Portland?  I mean, I'm not complaining, it's short trip for me, but I really expected it to be California.

All the same, bravo Portland, OR.

Here is a link to the site I got this information from.  I'm not sure if it is the original site or not, and I have not done any extra research whatsoever, but hey, why would they lie?

Anywho, thought I'd let you know.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Crime of Addiction

The use of psychoactive substances is ubiquitous in human society and has been since our early pre-history. Mind-altering substances have the remarkable ability to change the way we think, feel and interact. For bettor worse, we like to use psychoactive substances, and we use them all the time. Most of us don’t see our personal consumption of these substances as being particularly criminal regardless of how additive, harmful, legal or illegal the substance we consume may be. Why is it that some substances that have a particularly high potential for abuse are perfectly legal, while other, less addictive substances are not? For that matter, why is it that we criminalize something that could be classified as typical mammalian behavior? Why is it that the United States criminalizes the disease of addiction?

Humans consume a multitude of substances for a multitude of reasons. We consume everything from an innocent cup of coffee to a cigarette, to antidepressants, sedatives, pharmaceutical stimulants, to the perceptibly less innocent street drugs and everything in between. We consume these substances on a daily basis, mainly for the simple purposes of coping, adapting, and surviving.
Just think about it, most of you reading this probably had coffee or some form of caffeinated beverage this morning. Take a moment to consider this morning ritual that you partake in on a daily basis. How long have you done this and more importantly, why? Is it because coffee is simply the most flavorful and delicious substance known to man? Or, could it be possible that you only drink it for the buzz? Likewise, does alcohol such as beer and wine really tastes that great? Of course not, however we acquire a taste for these substances because we desire their respective effects.

In the universe of drugs there are galaxies of uppers, downers, psychedelics, and dissociatives to choose from, many of them are highly addictive, and most are strictly controlled. It is true that some individuals will try these drugs a few times and walk away, while others will become chronic abusers of the substance, strongly dependent, and hopelessly addicted. Fortunately for those individuals, most reputable doctors consider addiction to be an illness. Additionally there are ways to treat their substance dependence and abuse problems. Unfortunately for those individuals, their addiction also typically makes them criminals by default because for the most part, drug use is seen as a crime by our government.
Sadly, there isn’t necessarily a lot of sympathy for addicts in our society. Like sexually transmitted diseases, many see addiction as disease that is one acquires by choice of action, and a disease of vice. This may be true to a certain extent, however for many addicts, the choice was already made for them by their DNA, and their exposure to mind altering substances in their childhood environment. This idea being contrary to the former motif of addiction being a moral failing, or a disease of choice

Furthermore, by the logic that addiction is a disease that one chooses to acquire, any communicable disease could be considered a disease that one chooses to acquire by virtue of one’s desire to intermingle in society. Imagine that an individual acquires some terrible infection, he or she goes to their doctor and he tells them “too bad, you should have never gone outside, but since you did, you have chosen to get this disease and thus there is nothing I can do to help.” To make matters worse, the drug that person needs to make them feel better is illegal, and if they are caught with or trying to get the drug, they could be arrested and jailed.
In a sense, this is what addicts face on a daily basis. An individual dependant on a substance may feel fine when they have gotten a fix, but when that fix wears off, they will need another, and it won’t be cheap. Withdrawal is a powerful motivator for the addict, as the symptoms of withdrawal, depending on the drug can range from severely unpleasant, to debilitating, to even life threatening. Thus that individual has no choice but seek out their substance of abuse, or face the harsh reality of withdrawal and any other underlying emotional or mental problems that spurred their drug use in the first place.

This is the reality of Americans who are dependent on illegal substances. Their doctors tell them that they are ill, yet their government tells them that they are criminals because of their illness. Their doctor (if they have a doctor, or insurance) may be able to prescribe them medication to stave off withdrawals, but should they have a relapse with their drug of choice, and if they are caught with that drug, they will be arrested, prosecuted, humiliated, and imprisoned, simply because they were sick.

From this point, the addict can expect his or her life to become progressively worse. Not only are they ill, now the individual is a convict, convicted of possessing the drug that is the manifestation of their illness. Being a convicted felon is a terrible thing for an individual to experience. As a convict one may not leave the country, they may not vote, and they may find it difficult to find adequate employment or housing. In addition since they have been convicted of possessing an illegal drug, they are no longer eligible for student loans or any form of government loan or grant, and thus they are deprived of any means of improving their lives.

Now I ask you, is this fair? Is this right? Is this what we as Americans call justice? I think, or at least I hope not. It is time for Americans to encourage their government to change they way that substance abuse is approached. Our nation needs to shift its focus to harm-reduction and education, rather than arrest and prosecution.

One of the major flaws of our nation’s drug policy is our government’s unwillingness to accept the tenets of harm-reduction. First of all, what is harm-reduction? Well, its pretty simple, the basic idea is to reduce the potential for drug users to harm themselves or others in the course of their drug use. This process involves a number of steps such as providing clean hypodermic needles, providing purity testing, even providing safe drugs and a safe environment to use to addicts.
All of this may seem pretty liberal to the citizens of this country, and some may fear that such steps will only encourage more people to use drugs. However, the idea of harm reduction, and the steps that I have mentioned above are not new ideas, in fact they are old ones that have been employed for some time by a small European nation that we call the Netherlands.

Like other nations of the world, the Netherlands is not exempt from drug problems; the difference is how they have chosen to handle the issue. Rather than seeing drug abuse as a moral and legal issue, the Dutch see drug addiction and abuse for what it is, an illness. Likewise, rather than pursing our own corporalistic approach of prosecuting and imprisoning citizens with drug problems, citizens of the Netherlands have adopted the approach of harm-reduction.

This does not mean that drugs are legal in the Netherlands nor is their country comprised of mostly drug users. On the contrary, drugs are still very much illegal, and unlike the United States and many other European nations, drug use is relatively low. This is odd considering that most of us here in the states see the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands as the Mecca of marijuana. However, despite their liberal drug policies only about ten percent of all high school students in the Netherlands have used or do use soft drugs such as cannabis. In the United States almost half of all high school students have tried cannabis in spite of the outrageously disproportionate legal and social consequences.

Of course, I am not advocating the legalization of all drugs, however, our government needs to reassess how effective the war on drugs (and consequently the war against its own citizens) really is. Furthermore, our legal system needs to treat citizens with substance abuse problems as people with psychological and biological illnesses, rather than as criminals. In order to do this, the very thing that makes them a criminal; the possession of a drug, needs to be decriminalized, if not controlled outright by the government.

It is time for the United States Government to start seeing addiction for what it is, an illness, and not a crime. Furthermore, it is time for our nations leaders to realize that although addiction is an illness, it is hardly communicable, and purging drug users from our society is for one impossible (as nearly all of us use drugs), and secondly a waste of time. It is time for our government to stop harassing drugs users, and to start focusing on organized crime and drug traffickers, perhaps then our government would have a drug policy that actually makes a difference.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Limey Scientists Angry After Sacking of Drug Advisor

(United Kingdom) Professor David Nutt of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was fired from his position as a government drug adviser after making statements claiming that cannabis is less harmful than nicotine or alcohol.  He stated that cannabis had been upgraded to a Class B drug while ignoring contradictory scientific evidence, and it had been reclassified for political rather than pragmatic reasons.  In the wake of his dismissal other top scientists have resigned from their positions as government advisers.  So far at least two have resigned, leaving the ACMD without three of their top advisers.  Further resignations may follow which could leave the council unable to function, and worse it could result in   The move has been called an act of thuggery, and there are concerns that it could lead to resignations by scientists in other key advisory positions, resulting in a policy making crisis.

 Click here to read the whole story on the BBC's website.

Well I have to say an even like this would be nothing new or suprising as the government has made it very clear that when it comes to policy making they put very little stock into the opinions of scientists.  If this weren't the case, cannabis would not be a Schedule I substance as it has been demanded by doctors to be rescheduled to Schedule II for decades so that they may have access to the drug's medicinal value.

Rather than listen to what governments and doctors have to say, our policy makers have decided to play doctor, and generate a body of (questionable) evidence that justifies thier policy.  Should anyone question thier policy or supportive evidence, our government, particularly the DEA, simply ignores what they have to say, and in some cases go so far as to claim it isn't true.  If you haven't visited the DEA's page on medical marijuana, you should, its full of so much shit it smells bad.

I suppose that's all I have to say about that.