The Dope on Drugs Trials

The Dope on Drugs Trials
Posted by FoM on August 15, 2000 at 07:52:18 PT
Drug Studies
Source: BBC
Governments giving perfectly healthy citizens doses of "illegal" substances may sound like something out of druggie folklore. But such trials remain a key part of modern medical research. To many of the drug's "recreational" users, the chance to smoke cannabis for free and without fear of prosecution would be a dream come true. 
What's more, the 15 regular "dope" smokers involved in a recent Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) study can claim to have been doing society a good turn. The trials, carried out at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), were intended to gauge the effects of cannabis on car drivers - an important issue since an estimated 800,000 people travelled with a stoned driver last year, according to an RAC survey. Under the Influence:Although the trial's findings have yet to be published, the UK study is expected to mirror results from the Netherlands and United States, where subjects were seen to be aware of the impairing effect of cannabis and drive "cautiously", though not necessarily safely. Dr Rob Tunbridge, head of impairment studies at TRL, says established cannabis users were sought for the study, but says they were not being rewarded or encouraged for their habit. "The controlled doses were relatively low, at the lower end of what they'd normally come across," he says, adding that subjects were not actually let loose on the open road - it was all done through simulation and tests. Driving Tests:The trials were not intent on seeking another beneficial use for cannabis, but to better understand its effects when misused. But it is by no means the only controversial element of government drug tests, involving questions of law and safety. Dr Michael Wilks, chair of the British Medical Council's ethics committee, says trials are judged on "their absolute ethical basis not whether a drug is illegal or not". "Fully informed consent" is the bedrock for all tests, he says. But high ethical standards of modern trials are a world away from more sinister tests conducted during the Cold War. Cold War Lows:In recent years allegations have surfaced about far from ethical government-backed experiments, using such drugs as the hallucinogen LSD. Many stories about the testing of today's "recreational" drugs are apocryphal, among them the myth that Nazi soldiers were given MDMA - a drug patented by a German company in 1914 and now more commonly known as Ecstasy. However, the substance was later given to animals as part of a US Army-funded experiment following the war. It was found to have little, if no, military potential. Humans were given LSD by both the United States and British military during the cold war. "Fully informed consent" was not high on the list of priorities. At the UK's Porton Down facility, servicemen were used to investigate the drug's "tactical battlefield usefulness". Some sources estimate as many as 144 soldiers were given LSD in tests. It is unclear how much these subjects, or indeed those conducting the studies, knew about their long-term implications. Unsuspecting Subjects:Even more notorious were the MUKULTRA trials carried out by the CIA in the United States. With varying degrees of consent, the agency's chemists gave LSD to colleagues, students, mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes. These "unethical and illicit activities", to quote a CIA audit, were intended to see if LSD possessed "mind-controlling" properties. One subject, a mental patient, was dosed with the drug for 174 days, according to the New York Times. Such activities have fuelled many conspiracy theories and coloured the public's perception of certain drug experiments. However, the CIA's tests had one unexpected side-effect. A 23-year-old graduate, Ken Kesey, was attracted to the agency's study by the promise of $75 a day. The author later became a key figure in America's counter culture and, after Timothy Leary, LSD's most outspoken advocate. Direct Link To Above Article. 2000 BBCRelated Article:Cannabis May Make You a Safer Driver
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Comment #1 posted by Allison on July 22, 2001 at 15:38:23 PT:
I think that pot should be legalized.
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