About

Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Weeks Re-Run: Pharmacological Targets of Drugs by Class

Project Narco: Pharmacological Targets of Psychoactive Drugs by C...: Sedative Hypnotics: CNS depressants or "downers" GABA Receptors - agonism or postive allosteric modulation Glutamate Receptors (NMDA...

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Site Layout

In order to expedite browsing, I've reorganized the page layout on this site. I've categorized all of the "drug vaults", both opioid and non-opioid, into one archive, while I've merged the chemistry & pharmacology archives into one general "science" archive. The opioid safety archive has become the "harm reduction" archive (which includes the opioid dose coversion data), while many of my pieces on addiction have been compiled into an "addiction" archive. My "society, law, policy" page has stayed the same, as have the drug policy timeline (i.e. "history"), and glossary pages.

Questions, comments, suggestions or other inquiries can be posted here or emailed to me personally (meyerderekw@gmail.com).

Cheers.

How Do Opioid Analgesics Work? (Re-Run)

This piece deals primarily with the pharmacological mechanisms of opioids in relieving pain and promoting a sense of well being.


Opioid Analgesic Pharmacology:

Opioid drugs produce their analgesic and euphoric effects by binding to opioid receptors located throughout the brain and spinal cord. There are three primary subtypes of receptor - mu (micro or 'morphine' receptor), delta, and kappa) Most effects of clinical value are mediated via the mu receptor subtype, producing anlgesia and a sense of well being.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cui bono?

If we're to consider how and why the current, age old, misguided approach to drug policy continues, it is necessary to consider who benefits.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Caffeine Vault

Caffeine is a popular psychostimulant that is chemically similar to the neurotransmitter adenosine. It is present throughout nature and occurs in chocolate and coffee beans. Caffeine is widely consumed for its mild psychostimulant effects. Its effects are produced by its binding and blocking (antagonizing) of the inhibitory adenosine receptor in the CNS, leading to an increase in excitatory neurotransmission. 

Caffeine is one of the most widely used and readily available psychoactives in the world and is consumed on a regular basis by a substantial portion of the population (for americans typically in the form of coffee or soda). Caffeine is known to produce physical dependence when regularly consumed, characterized by mild withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation; millions of Americans are dependent on the drug in one form or another (although many moralists or "anti-drug" zealots might not be comfortable in acknowledging this, as it points out their mindless hypocrisy)

Diphenhydramine Vault

Diphenhydramine is a centrally acting compound with anticholinergic, antiemetic, antitussive, and sedative qualities. It is classified as a first generation antihistamine, and is popularly available under the trade name benedryl. In doses exceeding therapeutic labeling, diphenhydramine produces hypnosis, true hallucinations and delerium. These effects aren't particularly pleasant to most subjects, but have led some individuals to take the drug recreationally. 

Cyclobenzaprine Vault

Cyclobenzaprine is a CNS depressant with sedative, skeletal muscle relaxant, and analgesic properties. It is available for medicinal use under the trade name Flexiril. Its mechanism of action is unclear, though studies in rats have shown it to act on the locus coeruleus and promote norepinephrine-mediated inhibition of alpha motor neurons at the ventral horn of the spinal cord. These neurons mediate skeletal muscle contractions. Cyclobenzaprine is structurally very similar to tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, as well as the antihistamine cyproheptadine. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Weeks Re-Run: The Nature of Drug Addiction (A Non-Disease Model)...

Project Narco: The Nature of Drug Addiction (A Non-Disease Model)...: I am becoming increasingly appalled by the vast number of individuals (most of whom oddly enough happen to be self proclaimed "addicts" the...

Origins of Drug Prohibition Laws

In analyzing the merits and morality of our current drug policies, it is important to consider exactly what motivated these laws and policies which kick started 98 years of drug prohibition. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

DMT Vault

DMT is a naturally occuring psychedelic of the tryptamine family. It is present in many plants & mammals, and is available for recreational use. Chemically known as dimethyltryptamine, it is structurally related to the neurotransmitter serotonin, the hormone melatonin, and the psychedelic compound psilocybin. 

DMT products are consumed primarily for their psychedelic, hallucinogenic, or entheogenic properties. When combined with an MAOI to facilitate oral absorbtion, DMT is the main constituent in ayahuasca; a beverage consumed in Amazonian circles for entheogenic purposes. 

Modafinil Vault

Modafinil is a psychoactive compound with CNS stimulant & analeptic properties. It has been used in the treatment of sleep disorders. It is available in the US under the trade name Provigil. Modafinil is included in schedule IV (4) of the DEA list of controlled substances; and thus considered to have "a recognized medicinal use, and a limited potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. 

Though its pharmacology has not been well established, it is believed to act by increasing the synaptic release of catecholamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in the central nervous system - according to numerous studies. Modafinil has also been shown to activate glutamatergic excitatory neurons while suppressing the inhibitory actions of GABA circuits. It differs from amphetamine in that its wakefulness promoting actions are not completely suppressed by the administration of a dopamine antagonist.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One Can Not Under-Emphasize...

Too much Suboxone can very well cause a fatal overdose in a non-tolerant subject. Never give the drug to friends, especially those who are not habitual narcotic users.


Under typical circumstances, buprenorphine is 30x more potent than morphine in low (sub-ceiling) doses. Clinical studies in post operative patients found that parenteral buprenorphine causes the same  degree of respiratory depression as morphine in equianalgesic doses (if not slightly more so). 

Understanding Drug Prohibition (History, Motives, etc)

This essay explains the complex history of our current system of drug policy, and the fundamental legislative and economic changes that first took place to facilitate a repressive climate of social, individual, and intellectual control.

For additional insight, as to the cultural motives of our drug laws, you can read up on the history of drug use in the US.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carisoprodol & Meprobamate Vault

Carisoprodol:

Commonly known by the brand names Soma and Dolaren; Carisoprodol is a centrally acting depressant-type drug known for its skeletal muscle relaxant properties. Its pharmacology has not been well defined; but being an closely related analogue of the sedative drug meprobamate (which is also its main metabolite), it is believed to have central GABAergic properties similar to those of meprobamate - which modulates GABA-a receptor activity in areas such as the thalamus, limbic system and spinal cord. Aside from general sedative-hypnotic properties (similar to benzodiazepines or barbiturates), carisoprodol and its major metabolite produce skeletal muscle relaxation, specifically by suppressing neuronal activity in the reticular formulation and spinal cord.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Superstitions & Logical Fallacies Observed In Group "Therapy"

(1) You're not in "recovery" if you simply stop using drugs. If you're not living your lives by the dictates of a religious character transformation program, which typically involves proclaiming your powerlessness over drugs and handing your soul and will over to a mystical "higher power", you're only a "dry addict" or "dry drunk".

(2) One who surrenders himself to a higher power and religiously attends meeting is "in recovery" - Even in the instance he goes on an occasional drunken bender, "relapse" is claimed to be an inevitable part of the recovery process. Meanwhile, one who is actually succesfull in either using drugs responsibly or abstaining from drug use permanently, unless he perpetually practices the aforementioned recovery doctrine, is still only "dry" or "actively in addiction".

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dangers & Complications of Injection Drug Use



O-desmethyltramadol

Known chemically as O-desmethyltramadol. M1 is an opioid analgesic originally known as the main active metabolite of the weak opioid tramadol. M1 has been marketed as a research chemical and is considerably more potent than tramadol as a mu agonist. It shows additional activity as a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, a 5HT2A antagonist and a muscarinic acetylcholine antagonist.

When sold as a research chemical, M1 typically appears in powder form, or as a mixture with certain herbal blends (kratom, etc).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some Pot Enthusiasts Can Be Almost As Annoying As Anti-Drug Zealots

I mean really... REALLY!?
This entry is a further revised version of a comment I posted at stopthedrugwar.org, in response to a previous poster who strongly hinted that individuals forget about prescription narcotics and other such drugs, and simply smoke pot for all their medical needs. Reading further it will become apparent as to why this sets me off. 

I see many advocating legalized marijuana on the sole basis that pot is less harmful than other drugs; likewise, I see many if not most medical marijuana advocates arguing on the grounds that pot may be similarly effective and less addictive than prescription painkillers. These arguments often go so far as to become ridiculous not to mention annoying. In some cases, "marijuana advocates" resort to the demonization of other drugs in order to glorify pot. These talking points are likely doing more harm than good, to the greater cause of repealing drug laws. 

Barbiturate Vault


General:

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that depress the central nervous system. They are known for their sedative-hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, analgetic, and anaesthetic properties. The name of this class of compounds originates in that they are derivatives of barbituric acid. Though they are largely non-euphorigenic, drugs of this type have a high potential for physical dependence and habituation.

Safety:

Barbiturates are a high-risk drug. Their therapeutic index is slim, meaning there is a narrow margin between the minimally effective therapeutic dose and the toxic or lethal dose. In addition to acute risk factors, barbiturate dependence is characterized by a particularly severe abstinence syndrome upon discontinuation - untreated withdrawal in heavy users is known to cause serious complications and death.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Illusion of Legitimacy In the Healthcare-Cost Argument Against Drug Legalization

"It is bound to be difficult to get the average American to recognize that the drug problem is merely a symptom of a corrupt and inefficient social and economic system."

Though there is no evidence to support it, the prospect of incurred public healthcare costs subsequent to legalized drug access has granted an illusion of legitimacy to the prohibitionist argument. This presents challenges in advocating drug legalization from an economic standpoint. Much remaining support for current drug policy is premised on the assertion that society as a whole should rightfully pay for the healthcare of others (through a mandatory system of income taxes). Those who oppose drug law repeal on the basis of potential healthcare costs are perhaps presenting the only reasonable argument of all prohibition-advocates; but only when we uncritically accept the aforementioned principle of 'all for one, one for all' - wherein an individuals healthcare is paid for by others who may object to his high-risk lifestyle choices. A system built on such socialistic economic principles is irreconcilable with the traditional American ideals of individual liberty, personal accountability and self reliance; The very fact that such a system is so ingrained into our culture as to affect social policy illustrates the intricate web of socioeconomic factors which complicate & impede our ability to rationally approach the issue of drug law reform & repeal.

Resist The Mind Police

The Thought Police
If drug prohibition were to be popularly conceptualized as what it in fact is - an intrusive orwellian system of pharmaceutical and moral tutelage with the ultimate end of regulating the insides of peoples bodies and controlling peoples brain chemistry - then I suspect there would be a great deal more of justifiable outrage, and, more importantly, a greater deal of resistance by the general public. The very concept is an insult to human nature, not to mention the process of evolution itself, which has gone thus far unrivaled in  human history. 

Cheers

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Benzodiazepine Vault

Basic:

Benzodiazepines are widely used in the treatment of acute (and sometimes chronic) anxiety and panic attacks or disorders, muscle spasms, insomnia and sleep disorders, convulsions, seizures and epileptic disorders, and to a lesser extent as adjuncts or potentiators given alongside analgesics in the treatment of pain. Benzodiazepines are often used for their hypnotic properties as adjuncts to surgical anaesthesia.

The first benzodiazepine was chlordiazepoxide, synthesized by chemist Leo Sternbach at Hoffman La Roche in the 1950's & eventually marketed as Librium. It was soon followed by diazepam (i.e. Valium) in 1963.

Some of the more commonly used benzodiazepines (by trade name and ingredient) include Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Versed (midazolam).

Most benzodiazepines are legally classified as schedule IV controlled substances. Use or possession without a prescription is illegal in the US.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Nature of Drug Addiction (A Non-Disease Model)

I am becoming increasingly appalled by the vast number of individuals (most of whom oddly enough happen to be self proclaimed "addicts" themselves) who are convinced that addiction is a "chronic disease" on par with cancer or diabetes. More troubling, many of these individuals lack the critical reason or intelligence to conclude that drug use by "addicts" is a voluntary behavior and a willful choice. Addiction is not a disease. It is not a tumor, it is not a lesion, it is not an infection, it is not an allergy. How mindless can you be (I say this with all due respect).. Especially with zero empirical evidence to support this mythological notion, not to mention an overwhelming consensus by most pathologists and other seasoned scholars that addiction is neither a disease nor is addictive drug use an involuntary behavior. The very idea is metaphysical. The disease model, having been invented and propagated by a self-interested industry of pseudoscientific moralism & abuse masquerading as medical care, has done enormous damage to the lives of drug users and their families.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Protecting Us From Ourselves

I highly recommend the piece below, by Harry Browne.


"In fact, the entire effort to wed morality and politics is based on the assumption that there are immoral or irresponsible people whom the government must control."


Harry Browne: How To Make People More Responsible


Bupropion Vault

Basic: Popularly known as Wellbutrin or Amfebutamone. Bupropion is a mild psychostimulant compound with antidepressant properties. It is used medicinally in the US in the treatment of depression and nicotine withdrawal/cravings. 

Properties: Like other related sympathomimetic phenethylamines, bupropion increases synaptic concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine. Its specific mode of action is norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibition. Bupropion has also been reported to be a dopamine/norepinephrine releasing agent. Additionally, it acts as an antagonist at nicotinic-acetylcholine receptors.

Use: Catecholaminergic properties have made bupropion a popular adjunct to SSRI compounds such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine - It has been assumed to enhance their antidepressant efficacy; more than likely by reducing the symptoms of amotivation, anhedonia, or chronic fatiguge that are common in many patients taking the SSRIs. Bupropion is often useful 'off label' for treating protracted withdrawal in abstinent methamphetamine or cocaine users. Most of the clinically used bupropion products are administered orally, usually in tablet form. Both immediate release pills and long acting (controlled release) pills are available.

Despite its structural and pharmacological similarity to other amphetamine-type psychostimulants, bupropion is not classified as a controlled substance, though its close relative diethylpropion is a schedule IV controlled substance. The reinforcing and dependence producing properties of bupropion are relatively mild compared to other phenethylamines such as cathinone, methamphetamine and amphetamine, and its psychostimulant properties are more stable, drawn out, and less pronounced, especially when the drug is taken orally and/or the controlled release tablets are used. However there are plenty of anecdotal reports involving intranasal and even intravenous administration of the tablets. Many individuals have reported a short-lived euphoric experience, in some cases an initial "rush", similar to amphetamine. Bupropion was able to maintain self administration in a manner consistent with cocaine when given intravenously in primates. Bupropion is known to lower the seizure threshold; and has caused seizures when crushed, snorted, injected, or otherwise taken in doses well in excess of its labeling. However, the incidence of seizures was reported to be 0.35% to 0.44% of all individuals taking oral bupropion in daily doses of 450 mg  or less.

Chemistry: Bupropion is a sympathomimetic phenethylamine and is structurally related to drugs of the aminopropiophenone (cathinone) and amphetamine classes. Chemically, bupropion can be considered a halogenated N-butyl analogue of cathinone. The structural similarities between these compounds is illustrated below.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Fresh Reading On Drug Policy


More On The Confusion Between Causation & Association

The following is derived from an essay found at: Chapter 9: Drugs & Crime, Goode — State University of New York, Stony Brook

"The criminal model argues that it is not addicts who turn to crime but criminals who turn to drugs. Long before they become dependent on heroin and cocaine, those who eventually do so were already engaging in a variety of criminal activities. Persons who eventually become drug addicts and abusers were delinquents and criminals first; only later do they turn to drug use. The type of person who engages in criminal behavior—moneymaking crimes included—is the same type of person who experiments with and becomes dependent on drugs. Addiction has nothing to do with their criminal behavior; they are not enslaved to a drug so much as participants on a criminal lifestyle. Their drug use is a reflection or an indicator of that lifestyle; it is a later phase of a deviant tendency or career. Take away the drugs and they would still commit a great deal of crime; make drugs inexpensive, and they would still commit a great deal of crime; make drugs legal, again, and they would still commit a great deal of crime. Such persons belong in prison, this argument holds; legalization isn't going to reform their criminal tendencies (Inciardi, 1992, pp.l51,160-163)." 


The Disease Model: Its Current Role in Mainstream Science & Policy Discourse (A Short Summary)

It's been over the last several years that proponents of the drug laws have changed the tune of their debating points. This has made recent policy discussion particularly difficult for those who support reforming our drug laws yet remain naive in their understanding of the very nature of drugs and drug use. The shift in the primary pro-criminalization talking points may be the only factor still providing such anti-drug rhetoric any remaining illusion of legitimacy. And how so? Advocates of controlled substance laws have immunized themselves from the arguments of "free market" and "free choice". The doctrines of cultural, social, and market protectionism that currently underlie US drug laws have become dependent upon the bogus premise that habitual drug users (i.e. "addicts") are victims of a medical illness (i.e. addiction) and have been robbed of their capacity for free  will and conscious choice. Simply put, they've exploited the monopolistic interests of the medical profession (who in turn have exploited the needs of drug users), using a perversion of launguage and science to propagate the demonic-possession-like theory of drug use which dictates that drugs are willful & mystical entities capable of "hijacking" the brain and thus forcing the addict to use them involuntarily - a phenomenon having no rightful place in the scientific or public sphere, as it defies metaphysics.

In order to gain ground in promoting a reasonable understanding of drug use and drug problems, we must abandon the superstitious models underlying current scientific and drug-policy discourse.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Environment & Market of "Nerf Coating"

In analyzing the so-called "drug problem", and perhaps more importantly the illogic & futility in the current abolitionist approach, the general population must ask themselves a few key questions; 

Does business or industry have a moral obligation to design, create, and market products in a way which accomodates any imaginable act of incompetence (or self destruction) on the part of those adults who consume their products? 

Our long and troubled history with the "drug problem", I believe makes obvious the fact that under a system of such social, individual, & market micromanagement, the scope & reach of paternalism and environmental engineering (or better put, "idiot-proofing"), has a natural tendency to perpetuate itself to no end. 

Simply put, experience to date suggests that once we set the precedent for the forceful micromanagement of product markets in order to protect consumers from themselves, all reasonable courses of action are abandoned - while the reach of such protectionism becomes unrestrained, gradually growing over time.

On a paralell note, one should consider whether the government has a moral obligation - or even a right - to regulate, censor, control and maintain (in effect, to micromanage) the whole of our public and private environment in a way which accomodates any imaginable act of self destruction, abuse, or incompetence by adults?

Recent generations thus far have seemed to concede that this is not only the right of the government, but it's duty.

This is disheartening. And to me, cause for a level of skepticism and concern which seems to be lacking in all but a few.

Individuals should conclude the following from examining our history with prohibition and proscription; Building a culture on the premise that everyone is an idiot or criminal breeds idiocy and criminality by removing the social pressures which disincentivize such traits; subsequently making them acceptable, even expectable. It also breeds incompetence and a childlike dependence on government, by institutionalizing us into a "nerf-coated" environment in which we develop no skills for coping with, and adapting to, the realities & risks of our environment and the fruits of technology.

Definitive Benefits of Drug Legalization

Thomas Wayburn (Ph.D.) has emphasized a number of practical benefits which drug legalization will offer. Most of which can be accurately foreseen. Share this with your friends or family.


Ending the war on drugs and repealing our misguided drug laws will surely be beneficial in the following ways:

(1) Removing the enormous criminal economic incentive to traffic drugs. 

(2) Eliminating the need of the habitual drug user to lie, cheat, steal and engage in otherwise immoral activities .

(3) Eliminating the violence associated with the high profit, underground, monopolistic criminal drug market.

(4) Taking profits from criminals and promoting legitimate (not to mention regulated) drug commerce.

(5) Removing the sensationalized thrill factor and mystique of taking stigmatized drugs.

(6) Ending the health risks and mortality associated with unknown doses, toxic impurities, unsanitary equipment, unsanitary or unsafe dosing techniques, more harmful substitutes, and the emergence of relatively obscure, non-researched designer drugs

(7) Facilitating a wider range of options for drug users to select the less dangerous compounds which may offer some of the same desired effects as do the more toxic drugs. 

(8) Eliminating the "drug life" phenomenon, a product of criminalization - The phenomenon which dictates that certain drugs are inexorable components of specified undersirable lifestyle "paths" (for instance "tim started smoking pot, he's headed down the wrong road") 

(9) Restoring a level of humanity and normalcy to the lives of many drug users by minimizing the significance of ones' drug of choice in their overall lifestyle. Thus allowing constructive endeavors and socially acceptable pursuits. 

(10) Allowing informed adults to treat many simple ailments (pain, anxiety, etc) without the need for medical professionals, subsequently reducing health-care costs and overload

(11) Ending the invasion of privacy and assault on individual liberties

(12) Eliminating pharmaceutical "McCarthyism"; the invention of new ailments and diagnoses to create new drug markets (This has created a climate of pharmaceutical ambiguity and serves to fuel the "rogue doctor" phenomenon; along with the associated harms of uninformed prescription drug use).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Merits of High Dose Loperamide for Opioid Withdrawal

Basic:

Loperamide, best known as the active compound in Immodium AD, is a synthetic opioid widely used as an over the counter antidiarrheal agent. It was originally controlled under schedule V of the US controlled substance act, due to initial occurences of mild physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms, but is no longer classified as a controlled substance.

Loperamide and other opioids relieve diarrhea by reducing wave-like movements (i.e. peristalsis) of the intestines and allowing time for the body to absorb moisture from intestinal waste. This allows feces to take on a thick, nugget-like form, rather than gooey diarrhea. The constipating action involves the same mechanisms as conventional opioids; loperamide acts as an agonist at mu receptors in the gut. Mu receptor activity in this area produces primarily an anticholinergic response - leading to the inhibition of secretions and smooth muscle functions; or in very high doses, additional side effects such as dry eyes and mouth, sore throat, vision problems, and urinary retention.

Loperamide is highly lipophilic and unable to dissolve in water, which adds to its appeal as a non-prescription compound.  Dissolution of the compound in the gut is very slow. Peak levels are reached in around 5 hours after oral administration. It has a half life of 11 hours. It is metabolized by the liver and excreted via the feces (main kinetic pathway is N-demethylation via cytochrome P450 enzymes).

Use in Preventing Opioid Withdrawal

Loperamide has a limited ability to reach the central compartment when taken in typical doses, so its action on the CNS is insignificant in this setting. Accounting for its limited psychoactivity is its very slow dissolution (~5 hours to reach peak plasma levels), its limited bioavailability (~40%), and a metabolic efflux of loperamide from the CNS (a process in which therapeutic concentrations of loperamide present in central fluid is pumped back out of the central compartment). 

The aforementioned limitations are primarily pharmacokinetic or metabolic in nature and have been overcome with the use of high dosages or the concurrent administration of a metabolic inhibitor of P-glycoprotein (the aforementioned transport protein). Both measures have been found to be somewhat succesful in overwhelming the metabolic function that limits the central activity of the drug. 

With very high doses of loperamide, sufficient to accumulate in the central compartment (spinal cord and brain), marked narcotic effects have been reported. In addition, abstinence suppressing properties have been widely reported in opioid-dependent subjects; who frequently use the drug to reduce, or alleviate altogether, opioid withdrawal syndrome in the abscence of conventional narcotics.

Its effects are unique in some respects but similar to typical opioids in other respects. Most users report a "body buzz" - consisting of a heavy, warm, or weakening sensation in the arms, legs and neck, similar to that produced by poppy tea or plain morphine. Also common is dry and itchy skin, this itching is often particularly intense and may require the use of antihistamines. CNS effects (aside from relief of withdrawal) may include a mild sense of well being or an increase in mood, talkativeness, sedation or sleepiness, analgesia, miosis, emesis and respiratory depression.

It is important to note that loperamide has very limited recreational value; mainly because the risk to benefit ratio in the context of recreational use is extremely unfavorable. The only possibly justified use of such high doses remains temporary alleviation of abstinence symptoms - and even in this case, the risk/benefit merits of this self treatment are questionable.

Risks and Adverse Events:

Such uses of loperamide are not without risk. Loperamine is a synthetic compound of the phenylpiperidine type. Very little is known about its action on CNS and brain tissue, and little is known about the potential for neurotoxicity with either the parent drug or its metabolites, though it shares structural attributes with methadone and meperidine, or more significantly, a neurotoxic meperidine analogue MPTP; a compound linked with irreversible symptoms of parkinsonism. The lack of such known neurotoxic properties with loperamide could very well hinge only on its lack of CNS activity in normal doses - though there have not yet been reports of loperamide-induced parkonsinism to the author's knowledge. However, with its high lipophilicity and slow elimination profile, accumulation of loperamide in the CNS and soft tissue organs could present a real issue, especially in the astronomical dose ranges used in these opioid tolerant & dependent populations; opening up the possibilities of hepatic and renal issues, the aforementioned neurotoxicity, and delayed acute toxicity (overdose). The constipating action itself raises some issues of concern with extended high dose use. 

Deaths have been reported in connection with loperamide, anecdotally and in the literature. One such case described a death in which the cause was ruled as "combined loperamide and ethanol intoxication". There have been anecdotal reports of pancreatitis associated with loperamide. Known adverse events include paralytic ileus or bowel obstruction, toxic megacolon, perforated colon, anaphylaxis, septic shock and death.

Whether or not the short term benefits of high dose loperamide are worth the potential risks, remains up to the individual user. The author however does not reccomend anything of the sort.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cannabinoids and Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoids are a large family of compounds, many with psychoactive properties, that emulate the effects of marijuana by acting at cannabinoid receptors in the brain and periphery. As a general rule of thumb, cannabinoid is to cannabis as opioid is to opium. 

Cannabinoid compounds can be divided into three subtypes based on their origins; Endocannabinoids occur naturally in the body and act as neurotransmitters as do endorphins. Phytocannabinoids occur naturally in plants such as marijuana - from which the term cannabinoid has been derived - (it is important to note that most plant-derived cannabinoids are highly lipophilic; or fat soluble). Synthetic cannabinoids are produced in the lab, and may be derived from a number of molecular families - similar to the classical phytocannabinoid structure or completely different.

There are 2 subtypes of cannabinoid receptor currently known: 

The cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1)

Expressed in the brain and throughout multiple vital organs. It is activated by the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-glyceride (2AG), as well as other exogenous cannabinoids present in marijuana. The CB1 receptor is responsible for most of marijuana's psychoactivity; namely its euphorigenic, analgetic, psychotomimetic/antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects.

CB1 receptors are expressed presynaptically on GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons throughout the brain and when activated, serve to inhibit the release of GABA or glutamate; reducing glutamate activity causes reduced excitation, while reducing GABA activity results in a short term form of plasticity which leads to increased excitation at the post synaptic cell.

Expression of CB1 receptors has been noted in the olfactory bulb, hippocampus, amygdala, ganglia, basal ganglia, thalamic and hypothalamic nuclei - along with other subcortical areas, the cerebellum, periaqueductal grey region and the liver, lungs, and kidneys. CB1 is one of the most widely expressed G-protein coupled receptors known in the brain.

The cannabinoid-2 receptor (CB2)  

Expressed throughout the immune system and hematopoietic stem-cells. 2AG (mentioned above) is the primary endocannabinoid ligand for this receptor. CB2 receptors are responsible for the anti-inflammatory and autoimmune effects of marijuana.

Some Common Cannabinoids:


Endogenous:

anandamide

2-arachidonoyl-glycerol (2-AG)

Plant Derived:

tetrahydrocannabinol - CB1 & CB2 partial agonist

cannabinol - CB1 & CB2 weak agonist

cannabidiol - 5HT1A (serotonin) receptor agonist, indirect cannabinoid antagonist effects

Synthetic:

nabilone - CB1 agonist (not further specified)

JWH-018 - CB1 & CB2 full agonist

JWH-210 - CB1 & CB2 full agonist

WIN-55,212-2 - Potent CB1 full agonist

AM-411 - Potent and selective CB1 full agonist

Medicinal Use:

Pharmaceutical THC (or dronabinol) is government approved in the US for use in treating anorexia in AIDS patients and severe nausea & vomiting in chemotherapy patients. When produced synthetically rather than derived from cannabis, THC is listed as a schedule III substance under the US Controlled Substance Act, placing it in the same category as buprenorphine, hydrocodone & codeine compounds such as Vicodin or Tylenol #3, and some mild amphetamine-type stimulants used as anorectics. The CIII status allows for less stringent regulations on its clinical use; for instance, a prescription for dronabinol can be called into a pharmacy by phone and written with limited refills (5 refills, or up to 6 fills total).

Nabilone is a synthetic cannabinoid which is also used clinically. Unlike Dronabinol, nabilone is a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act, and therefore has heavy restrictions on its use. Nabilone is marketed under the trade name Cesamet, FDA approved for use as an antiemetic (anti-nauseant) in chemotherapy patients or in the treatment of anorexia in AIDS patients.

My Rebuttal of Edmund Hartnetts' Anti-Legalization Propaganda & Debating Manual

(Search keywords: anti drug propaganda, legalization debate, drugs, drug policy reform, prohibition, US drug laws, repeal)


I came across a piece written by a drug-law apologist by the name of Edmund Hartnett. The piece is essentially a prohibitionists propaganda & debating manual and was originally published at policechiefmagazine.org. The manual is intended to serve as a reference for community leaders and law enforcement officials, who continue facing an ever greater challenge in rationalizing the irrational drug-laws which infest our country and undermine our most intimate liberties.

I've presented my critiques to the prohibitionist arguments not so much from a statistical or scientific standpoint, but more of a moral and intellectual standpoint, one of reason and historically demonstrated knowledge. The original article can be referenced HERE. Enjoy. 

"Drug Legalization: Why It Wouldn't Work in the United States" 

Note the desperation in the title - with the demonstated successes of drug liberalization abroad, prohibitionists are now compelled to qualify their irrational position - right off the bat - suggesting that the United States is somehow unique from Portugal or other nations. They would like us to believe that intellectual liberty and self determination - where it applies to drug consumption - is somehow incompatible with american society (a society which was founded upon the very principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility)

By Edmund Hartnett, Deputy Chief and Executive Officer, Narcotics Division, New York City Police Department, New York

The issue of drug legalization is a complex one. Most Americans do not favor it, yet there is a strong and very vocal lobby in the United States that feels that legalization would be the proper course to take. When this vocal minority raises the issue in any community, citizens look to the police chief to speak to the issue. Police chief are encouraged to borrow from this article as they prepare their speeches. 

Proponents’ Arguments 

Proponents of drug legalization believe that the current policies regarding drugs have been harmful to individuals, families, and society as a whole. They strongly oppose current drug laws and policies for a variety of reasons. Some see the laws as an impingement of individual freedoms. Some see them as a colossal waste of government resources citing the opinion that the legalization of drugs could produce millions in tax revenues while at the same time putting drug dealers out of business and ensuring quality controls in the production of drugs. Some feel that legalization would reduce overall crime. Some argue that the laws are a form of institutionalized racism designed to keep minorities as a permanent disenfranchised underclass by keeping them in prison, addicted, or completely dependent on government aid. Others take what they view as a humanitarian approach, arguing that certain substances should be made legal for medicinal purposes. Some have chosen to refer to the issue as harm reduction instead of drug legalization in an apparent effort to soften the issue and give it a more humanitarian tone. Still others view the prohibition against drugs as an inherently flawed and impossible strategy that has exacerbated crime and violence and has contributed to a sense of despair and hopelessness for millions of Americans.

It is also interesting to note that the proponents of legalization include supporters from across the political spectrum, from progressives on the far left to libertarians on the far right. Liberal Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel is adamantly opposed to drug legalization, while conservative icon and columnist William F. Buckley has long been a proponent of making drugs legal. Congressman Rangel has referred to legalization as “a very dangerous idea” that should “be put to rest once and for all.”1

Opponents to Legalization

Although it is clear the majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of keeping the use, sale, and possession of drugs illegal, much of the writing from the antilegalization viewpoint comes from law enforcement and government officials. 

....All of whom are highly incentivized to perpetuate current drug policy, with the multi-billion dollar funding and job security it creates.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once described drug legalization as “the equivalent of extinguishing a fire with napalm.”2 Although many acknowledge that the so-called war on drugs has had mixed success, they believe that the alternative would have catastrophic effects on the nation. 

No one "acknowledges" that prohibition has been a mixed success, they merely believe it has been a mixed success; when in fact it has been a complete failure of vast proportions.

They believe that the legalization of drugs would increase use, lead to more experimentation by youth, and exacerbate the existing deleterious effects that drugs have on society. 

..Though there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest anything of the sort; with the only real model to guide us being our own history, specifically the repeal of alcohol prohibition - which failed to yield any significant increase in alcohol use and was in fact followed by a steady reduction in violent crime & poisonings.

They are of the opinion that government subsidization of addicts would have crippling effects on the economy. They also feel that legalization would help to create a large black market for drugs. 

They must be joking right? Legalization would "create" a black market? Again, there is no evidence for this laughable assertion. Is the author actually suggesting that the transfer of drug business from the current black market to a legal commercial market would in fact create a black market?? As if a black market doesn't already exist, as if destroying the current criminal market would create one?? Does anyone see the humor in this? Again, I'll explain it in terms a child can understand - our experience with alcohol prohibition suggests the exact opposite. Increased legal availability and lower profit margins don't create black markets, and it is intellectually dishonest, utterly delusional, to suggest so. Criminalization, increased market risk, decreased availability and increased profits create black markets. It is irrational to believe that legal availability of drugs and transfer of drug markets to commercial channels would create criminal channels, while ignoring the fact that black markets already do exist as a result of prohibition in the first place. The creation of a low price, high supply, legal commercial market for drugs won't create any more of a black market than has been created for coffee beans, alcohol and tobacco.

Antilegalization proponents also point out that drug dealers and hardcore addicts would not suddenly become productive, law-abiding members of society. The antilegalization point of view is that dealers will still be involved in crime and violence and that users will still need to support themselves by engaging in criminal activity. 

Sure. This in fact more likely suggests such criminal drug users and dealers are criminals not because of drugs, but that they use and deal in drugs because they are criminals.

Basically, they believe that the legalization of drugs would lead to increases, not reductions, in crime because there would be more addicts and because of the aforementioned black market. 

They assume there would be more crime based upon their faulty assertion that drugs somehow compel addicts to unthinkingly commit crimes with no real motive (other than to commit crimes simply because they are drug users and are apparently supposed to commit crimes).

Also, opponents of legalization often cite statistics that show that drug prevention initiatives, drug awareness curricula in schools, and drug treatment programs are working. They point to the fact that there are fewer addicts today than there were 20 years ago.

Drugs and Crime

There are two schools of thought on the issue of drug legalization and crime. Do drugs cause crime? Does drug use inevitably lead to crime? If drugs were made legal, would there be less crime? If the government subsidized addicts, would they still engage in criminal conduct? What would happen to drug dealers and drug gangs if drugs were legalized? Although the issue is complex, both groups agree that drugs and crime are inexorably linked.

To claim that drugs and crime are "inexorably linked" is a vague assertion and a clever abuse of language - first off, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that drugs inevitably lead to crime. Important to note is that the simplistic assertion that drugs are responsible for crime rests on a confusion of cause and correllation - i.e. it is just as likely (if not more so) that criminals tend to use 'criminalized drugs' as it is that drugs cause criminality. Many users of illicit substances have criminal histories which preceed their use of or involvement in illicit substances. Though the following has been explained many times; also important to note is that much of the criminal violence which is currently mindlessly and unthinkingly tied with drugs is instead, an unintended consequence of drug criminalization. To conclude, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that illicit drugs and crime are inexorably linked; it is no more likely for illicit drugs (a term which itself is a sweeping generalization by the way) to be responsible for crime than it is for caffeine and nicotine to be responsible for crime. Alcohol, by its very pharmacological nature, may in fact likely be much more conducive to violent or antisocial behavior than many, if not most, currently illicit "hard drugs", including heroin, cocaine and LSD. If one wants to compete seriously in a drugs debate, one should think a bit more critically and speak rationally, rather than regurgitate mindless generalizations and baseless assertions.

Many legalization supporters believe that property crime, particularly burglary, larceny from persons (purse snatchers, chain snatchers, and pickpockets), auto theft, theft from autos, and shoplifting would decrease by 40-50 percent if drugs were made legal. Similarly, many believe that the terms “drug-related murder” and “drive-by shooting” would become outdated once drugs were legalized. In their view, turf wars would be eliminated because there would no longer be a need to fight for one’s turf.

Additionally, there are those who point out that drug enforcement is a waste of valuable law enforcement resources since statistically most drug users do not get caught. Thus, the deterrent effect of criminalization is lost. 

Further suggesting that a vast majority of users manage to consume illicit drugs while living an otherwise law abiding, productive and succesfull life. And also making the "illicit drugs cause users to commit crime" assertion seem all the more nonsensical - if illicit drugs caused crime, wouldn't far more of these users be getting arrested?

Todd Brenner uses the example of marijuana arrests. In 1987 approximately 25 million people in the United States used marijuana, the most easily detectable drug, yet only 378,000 arrests were made; roughly one arrest for every 63 users.3 

(see my point?) 

His point is that the public would be better served if the police targeted crimes in which they had a better success rate. Also, legalization supporters believe that once drugs were legalized, the government could pay less attention to drug-related crime and spend more time and money on treatment, rehabilitation, education, and job training programs. Other benefits cited would be reduced prison populations, more manageable caseloads for judges and attorneys, and better relations between the public and the police. 

Indeed, criminalizing the personal habits of a large portion of the population turns that large portion of the population into criminals and breeds contempt for the rule of law.

Many believe that traditional organized crime would be seriously affected by legalization. Benjamin and Miller write: “The Mafia would not disappear, because organized crime would be able to survive on other criminal activities, such as loan sharking, gambling, prostitution, and child pornography. But drug legalization would remove the backbone of organized crime’s profits, causing it to diminish in importance.”4

Our best evidence and data regarding illicit drugs and organized crime lies in our history with alcohol prohibition; and more recently, the success of mass decriminalization in Portugal.

Opponents to legalization obviously do not see legalization as a panacea that will make crime go away. 

Which is not even an argument for keeping these drugs illegal; unless we live under a twisted social contract by which all things remains criminal by default and only become our rights once they can be proven to reduce crime or save money...

They see a clear connection between drug use and crime and, perhaps more importantly, between drug use and violence. 

Joseph Califano, the author and a member of President Johnson’s cabinet, stated: “Drugs like marijuana and cocaine are not dangerous because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are dangerous.”5 

The DEA reports that six times as many homicides are committed by persons under the influence of drugs than those looking for money to buy drugs and that most arrestees for violent crimes test positive for drugs at time of arrest.6 

Speaking to a Congressional subcommittee on drug policy in 1999, Donnie Marshall, then deputy administrator of DEA, spoke of drug use, crime, and violence. He said that there is “a misconception that most drug-related crimes involve people who are looking for money to buy drugs. The fact is that most drug-related crimes are committed by people whose brains have been messed up with mood-altering drugs.”7

Legalization opponents are convinced that the violence caused by drug use “will not magically stop because the drugs are legal. Legal PCP isn’t going to make a person less violent than illegally purchased PCP.”8 

A) I've already addressed the trash logic of the assumption that illicit drugs cause crime and violence. Note that at one time (and perhaps still today) crack cocaine was said to be different from cocaine in that it was highly "criminogenic" (i.e. likely to cause crime) - This is funny, considering that crack cocaine is simply a smokeable form of cocaine which acts in an identical manner on the brain. Nothing about the pharmacological action of snorted powder cocaine or smoked "crack" cocaine triggers a tendency toward violence or crime. However it is important to note that crack cocaine has been particularly popular almost exclusively within the inner city, poor, minority community since its introduction to the market in the 1980's - due to its cheap price. Therefore, with its popularity in high crime subcultures, it makes sense that law enforcement would encounter far more crack users than powder cocaine users, the latter of whom predominantly fall into the wealthy, suburban, low crime demographic - this is a solid commentary on the fundamental confusion of cause and correllation which is common in the prohibitionist talking points.

B) The idea that PCP "makes users violent" was largely a sensationalized creation of the media; dating back decades, to a time that PCP use was actually somewhat common. In terms of its pharmacological action on the brain, there is nothing about PCP that increases a user's propensity for violence; any more so than ketamine or alcohol.

Susan Neiberg Terkel echoes these sentiments by saying that legalizing drugs “cannot change human nature. It cannot improve the social conditions that compel people to engage in crime, nor can it stop people from using drugs as an excuse to be violent.”9 

The belief is that drugs, legal or not, often lead to violence. 

(...This again, is the assumption made only by the observation that many who use drugs commit crimes - a logic by which one could also conclude that being black, being latino, living in the city, or receiving welfare leads to crime. Or perhaps that drinking chocolate milk and eating fried chicken leads to crime.)

Erich Goode, a SUNY professor and a proponent of harm reduction, writes: “It is extremely unlikely that legalization will transform the violent nature of the world of heavy, chronic drug abuse very much. That violence is a part of the way that frequent, heavy drug users live their lives; it is systemic to their subculture.”10

Perhaps it's unintentional, but this seems to further support the fact that illicit drug use is merely one of many cultural attributes of certain criminal and/or inner city subcultures, rather than the cause of such criminality. Illicit drug use may serve as a symptom of a complex pattern of socioeconomic hardship - consisting of factors such as poverty, unemployment, inner city living, gang activity, lack of education and social alienation. Criminals don't commit crimes because of illicit drugs; criminals use illicit drugs because they have little regard for the rule of law. Individuals who have no regard for fundamental laws are not any more likely to honor the laws which dictate their intoxicants of choice - the result; many criminals naturally tend to be users of criminalized drugs, just as the black community tends to like rap music and chicken, and smart people like video games. Would it make sense to assume that rap music and chicken causes one's skin to turn black? Or that video games cause high intelligence?

It is interesting to note that the federal approach to drugs and crime is not solely linked to arrest and incarceration. In Congressional testimony in 1999, Barry McCaffrey, then-director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated: “We cannot arrest our way out of our nation’s drug problem. We need to break the cycle of addiction, crime, and prison through treatment and other diversion programs. Breaking the cycle is not soft on drugs; it is smart on defeating drugs and crime.”11

Apparently, the ONDCP believes that "defeating drugs" consists of coercing illicit drug users into treatment to convince them they have a intractable 'illness' (based solely on the fact that their drug of choice fails to meet the standard of social approval) and are helpless to manage their drug use on their own.

Public Health Concerns

Opponents of legalization seem to be just as committed as the prolegalization lobby. 

(With billions of dollars in police funding, thousands of government jobs, and a gigantic treatment industry - all of which are reliant on drug arrests and human desperation, no one should be the least bit surprised of their commitment to keeping these drugs illegal.) 

They believe that the legalization of drugs would have devastating effects on public health, the economy, quality of life, American culture, and society as a whole.

This is a baseless assertion based on no meaningful evidence whatsoever. Considering that a major portion of the current adverse effect on public health is either created by, or excacerbated by, drug criminalization - This criminalization has led to the following: a massive increase in HIV, hepatitis and other such infectious disease; widespread drug contamination and impurity; a major lack of drug education and pharmacological literacy among users; and dangerous fluctuations in potency which compounds the risk of overdose or death.

The advocacy group Drug Watch International points out that drugs are illegal “because of their intoxicating effect on the brain, damaging impact on the body, adverse impact on behavior, and potential for abuse. Their use threatens the health, welfare, and safety of all people, of users and nonusers alike.”12 Legalization advocates contend that the same statement could be made about alcohol.

When one examines these drugs scientifically, from a pharmacological and medical standpoint, the actual physiological hazards posed by such drugs are completely inconsistent with popular 'knowledge'. Few illicit drugs share alcohol's level of physiological danger. And few illicit drugs share alcohol's level of toxicity. From a standpoint of user health and physiological impact; the actual danger of even most so-called "hard drugs" is no where near what popular knowledge insists. Heroin for instance, when used wisely is far less toxic than alcohol and closer in this respect to caffeine, and like other opium derivatives, does not cause damage to the organ systems or nerves, whether used daily for a week or a lifetime. It has no measurable impact on psychomotor & cognitive performance. Marijuana is less toxic than potatoes; there is not a single documented case of marijuana overdose death. LSD and psilocybin are minimally toxic and are directly responsible for few if any actual overdose deaths.

Toxicity and safety however is beside the point. Physiological harm is no grounds for criminal laws against the use of a particular drug. Consenting adults have every right under natural law (as well as traditional constitutional law) to destroy their health with any drug they see fit. Our society and our constitution was based upon the libertarian philosophy that individual liberty takes precedence over all else where it pertains to our laws. Our government may create laws only which restrict an individuals from harming other individuals (by depriving them of life, liberty, or property) - A responsible adult's private use of drugs does not harm others, and the vague 'potential' for harm to others arising from poor decisions (i.e. driving intoxicated) still fails to justify prohibition - "punish the crime, not the personal habits". The sacred protection of individual liberty additionally ensures to protect the individual from "tyranny of the majority" - put simply; unless preventing mutual harm, a majority of the population cannot pass a law restricting the liberty of a minority (or the individual); in other words, the fact that a majority of americans do not approve of legalization means absolutely nothing.

William J. Bennett, former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, responds to that claim, arguing “that legalized alcohol, which is responsible for some 100,000 deaths a year, is hardly the model for drug policy. As Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, the question is not which is worse, alcohol or drugs. The question is, can we accept both legalized alcohol and legalized drugs? The answer is No.”13 
Morton M. Kondracke of the New Republic magazine discusses another comparison between drugs and alcohol: “Of the 115 million Americans who consume alcohol, 85 percent rarely become intoxicated; with drugs, intoxication is the whole idea.”14

Let me interject by pointing out that there is no definitive or meaningful line between the states of "intoxication" and sobriety - the effects of all drugs (including the toxic drug alcohol) occur on a spectrum, in which there is no black and white contrast between sobriety and non sobriety. The aforementioned statement therefore makes no sense and holds no ground.

Legalization opponents believe that our already burdened health care industry would be overwhelmed if drugs were legal. This would come in the form of direct results of drug use (more overdoses, more AIDS patients, and more illness stemming from addiction) and indirect results of drugs (more injuries due to drug-related violence, accidents, and workplace incidents. 

Suggesting that repealing criminalization would lead to increases in AIDS and infectious disease is beyond ignorant; considering diseases spread through sharing equipment - such as HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis - have increased to epidemic proportions in large part due to a lack of education, drug impurities, scarcity of needles, and other prohibitionist policies.

They also believe that legalization would increase the number of emergency room visits, ambulance calls, and fire and police responses. The ONDCP reports that in 2002 direct health care costs attributable to illegal drug abuse were $52 billion.15

With no evidence to suggest an increase in disease, crime, or violence, such concern over ER visits and emergency calls makes little sense. Were this not a ridiculous assertion based on no evidence whatsoever; the argument still holds no ground - there is no justification for keeping these drugs illegal based on concerns over workload for public services.

In addition, legalization opponents disagree with legalization advocates regarding whether legalization would increase drug use. Legalization opponents believe that drug use would increase dramatically if drugs were made legal and easy to obtain. 

William J. Bennett uses the example of crack cocaine. He writes: “When powder cocaine was expensive and hard to get, it was found almost exclusively in the circles of the rich, the famous, or the privileged. Only when cocaine was dumped into the country, and a $3 vial of crack could be bought on street corners, did we see cocaine use skyrocket —this time largely among the poor and disadvantaged.”16 

The DEA also takes issue with the legalization lobby on the link between easier access to drugs and an increase in addiction from a humanitarian standpoint: “The question isn’t whether legalization will increase addiction levels —it will—it’s whether we care or not. The compassionate response is to do everything possible to prevent the destruction of addiction, not make it easier.”17

Drugs Tied to Terrorism

In the aftermath of September 11, it was evident that enormous amounts of money were part of a global terrorist network. Much of this money was hidden in ostensibly legal outlets, primarily banks, investments, and charitable organizations. They were correctly targeted by law enforcement agencies and, in many cases, frozen; thereby denying terrorists access to the money. Many experts believe that terrorists are now using narcotics trafficking to fund their activities. Although much of this activity seems to be centered in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region (sometimes referred to as the Golden Crescent in law enforcement circles), all international narcotics investigations now have to add terrorism to their list of concerns. Legalization would only exacerbate this problem and put more money into the terrorists’ bank accounts.

The DEA has identified links between drug suppliers and terrorism. Their investigations, again primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have shown connections among traffickers in heroin and hashish, money launderers, and al Qaeda members. They also suspect a drug-related connection involving al Qaeda and the train bombings in Madrid. According to DEA, “The bombers swapped hashish and ecstasy for the 440 pounds of dynamite used in the blasts, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1,400 others. Money from the drugs also paid for an apartment hideout, a car, and the cell phones used to detonate the bombs.”18\

The last statement is a flat out lie. There is no evidence to support such an assertion and again, our history shows that drug prohibition causes a massive increase in drug price & profit and incentivizes criminal organizations to take over the criminal drug market. Were it not for international drug laws, drug markets would no different than any other market; drugs would have no more of a link to terrorist organizations than alcohol, coffee, or tobacco products do today. There is nothing inherent in the nature of illicit narcotics that appeals to terrorists or criminals. Drugs are commodities for sale; only the insatiable, unfed demand and the massive profits. The product itself is immaterial.

The only conceivable purpose of this outright propaganda is to establish an association between illicit drugs and "terror" - in the mind of the commonfolk. However this association is nothing more than symbolic, superficial, hyperbolic.

Economy Issues

Legalization advocates claim that if drugs are legal it will be a financial windfall for the American economy. They believe that all the public funds now wasted on the enforcement of drug laws and related matters could then be used for the good of society in areas such as education, health care, infrastructure, and social services. As mentioned earlier, some believe that drugs could eventually be taxed and thus create much-needed revenue. The DEA’s response is: “Ask legalization proponents if the alleged profits from drug legalization would be enough to pay for the increased fetal defects, loss of workplace productivity, increased traffic fatalities and industrial accidents, increased domestic violence and the myriad other problems that would not only be high-cost items but extremely expensive in terms of social decay.”19 

The flaw in this argument is the underlying tinge of socialism which dictates that society pay for the medical care of uninsured drug users. The welfare state has complicated the very fabric of america's socioeconomic structure. This is antithetical to the traditional principles of liberty & personal responsibility upon which our system was built. This aside however, the idea that healthcare expenses & insurance claims will increase proceeding legalization is dependent upon the assumption that legalization would lead to increased drug use and increased drug-related dangers; which makes little sense considering the fact that a) a major portion of drug-related health costs are direct or indirect consequences of the current system in place (i.e. prohibition), b) the complete lack of evidence suggesting legalization would meaningfully increase drug use and addiction rates, and c) the likely decrease in "addiction-treatment" demands due in part to fewer court-mandated rehab referalls and also in part to dependent users being relieved of the current burdens of maintaining an illegal drug habit - which in many cases compels users to seek treatments, including maintenance programs.

Medical Marijuana 

The antilegalization point of view rejecting the use of marijuana to ease the pain of those suffering from a variety of illnesses and conditions may appear harsh and insensitive. Their view is that there are safer, more effective drugs currently available and that there is therefore no need to rely on medicinal marijuana. The DEA states that the “clear weight of the evidence is that smoked marijuana is harmful. No matter what medical condition has been studied, other drugs have been shown to be more effective in promoting health than smoked marijuana.”20

Saturated fats are harmful as well. Using tanning beds is harmful. Smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor is harmful, just as aspirin and ibuprofen are harmful. 

They also believe that many proponents of the use of medicinal marijuana are disingenuous, exploiting the sick in order to win a victory in their overall fight to legalize drugs. They point to studies that show that marijuana smoke contains hundreds of toxins, similar to cigarettes, and that prolonged use can lead to serious lung damage. 

Does it matter whether or not marijuana advocates are disingenuous? Unfortunately, because the idea of taking (certain) drugs for pleasure or self-medication has been demonized by puritan fanatics, smokescreens such as the medicinal marijuana phenomenon are necessarry in order for drug policy reform to have even a chance of gaining any respectable attention.

This, they feel, can only exacerbate existing health problems, especially for people with compromised immune systems. The DEA cites the fact that marijuana has been rejected as medicine by the American Medical Association, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, and the American Cancer Society.21

Should this even be taken seriously? Out of all the widely used LEGAL foods and drugs, law enforcement and doctors are concerned about the toxicity of marijuana? Such an argument reflects the utter desperation of prohibitionists in modern time. As science continues to advance our knowledge, I suspect that all of the drug-demonology and voodoo pharmacology of the half-witted fanatical prohibitionist will become less and less popular. 

There is no question as to whether marijuana has medicinal benefits. It does. But whether or not it possesses such benefits and whether or not it is actually used for these benefits is immaterial to the debate once you consider prohibition from a human rights & privacy perspective (not to mention, a constitutional perspective, or a utilitarian perspective). Adults have every right to use marijuana just as they have every right to use heroin and cocaine as long as they do not deprive another individual of life, liberty, or property.

Harm Reduction

The term “harm reduction” is anathema to the antilegalization lobby. They believe that “harm reduction, a cover-all term coined by the legalizers, is a euphemism encompassing legalization and liberalized drug policy, and can best be defined as ‘a variety of strategies for making illicit drug use safer and cheaper for drug users, at the expense of the rest of society, regardless of cost.’”22 

The passion surrounding the issue of harm reduction is illustrated by Drug Watch International: “Harm reduction abandons attempts to free current drug users and encourages future generations to try drugs. 
It asserts that drug use is natural and necessary. 

Rather than preventing harm and drug use, harm reduction feebly attempts to reduce the misery level for addicts. Harm reduction forsakes a portion of the population, often the poor and minorities, to lifetime abuse of drugs.”23

Opponents of harm reduction see it as a very dangerous message. They complain that, instead of addressing and eventually eliminating the problems of addiction, harm reduction creates a situation that prolongs the agony of the addicted, their families and their community.

Study after study has clearly shown the efficacy of these policies in reducing illness, promoting health, and saving lives. Meanwhile, it is ever more clear that repressive, idealistic drug policies have fueled infectious disease, spawned violent crime and have harmed millions of individuals worldwide. The very fact that prohibitionists would rather pursue idealistic policies which demonstrably undermine public health, breed ignorance and create crime rather than allow adults to live out their personal lives in a safe, informed, and hygeinic manner - should further undermine the legitimacy of their arguments and make many reconsider just whose interests & well being these fanatical zealots are concerned with..

No one should be fooled. The prohibitionist lobby and its messengers have no regard for the health and well being of americans; drug users or non drug users. The prohibitionist lobby is concerned only with their own political power and social control, and the financial interests of themselves & their industries.

Public Reaction

A 1998 poll by the Family Research Council showed that eight out of 10 responders rejected the legalization of cocaine and heroin. The same poll asked whether they would support making these drugs legal in a manner similar to alcohol; 82 percent responded “No.” 

A 1999 Gallup poll revealed that 69 percent of Americans are against the legalization of marijuana. In addition, another Gallup poll showed that 72 percent were in favor of drug testing in the workplace.

However, one of the better indicators of the public’s disdain for drugs is the fact that an estimated 50 million Americans who have used drugs in their youth have now rejected them.24

The U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) reveals some additional alarming statistics. In 2002 an estimated 35.1 million people aged 12 or older reported using an illegal drug within the past year; approximately 3.2 million people were drug-dependent or drug abusers.25 Based on this set of figures, there is still a significant demand for drugs in America and multitudes willing to supply the drugs. It is this demand for drugs that is at the heart of the issue. Speaking from a law enforcement perspective, it is clear that we can make millions of drug arrests, but if we don’t address the demand side of the problem, the best we can hope for is maintenance of the status quo.

Progress in this regard has been achieved and considerable inroads have been made through years of proactive prevention and education efforts. By 1999 the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that drug use in America had been cut in half and cocaine use was reduced by 75 percent.26 Nevertheless, in spite of these promising statistics, the across-the-board nature of the drug problem in America indicates that we are far from declaring victory.

How is public opinion relevant where it pertains to how adults live out their private lives and which substances they consume? It is not. To assert that democratic "mob rule" of a statistical majority can void the rights of an individual or minority is antithetical to the american principle of individual liberty (which by constitutional doctrine, takes precedence over popular discource). The very notion that the intellectual birthrights of adult individuals could be challenged by popular vote is frightening.

Speaking Out

The process of completing this project has led to a reexamination of my personal opinions and values on the issue of drug legalization. I assume that it is normal to be introspective when exploring both sides of a broad and complex problem. As a parent, a citizen, and a law enforcement official, I am clearly a stakeholder in this issue. I was concerned that my views in light of my police background would make me sound like an ideologue. As a public administrator, I hope that I reinforced my opinions against the legalization of drugs with sound logic and analysis.

My research allowed me to see the issue from a broader outlook. I now understand the pro-legalization viewpoint much better. Although I am still strongly opposed to the notion of drug legalization, I realize that, for the most part, they are Americans, from a broad field, who are truly committed to a cause in which they believe. Although they are pursuing a course that is dangerous for America, I respect their passion and edication. But they are woefully wrong on this issue.

I encourage police executives to speak out against drug legalization, and I hope the information in this article has provided some of the resources they need as they prepare to make these speeches.

This entire guide heavily consists of speculation and assertion disguised as science - much in the form of quotes from so-called "experts". The arguments herein rely largely on statistical manipulation, fearmongering, hyperbolic language and mindless catch phrases and punchlines.

My case for today is closed.