Drugs R US If We Were Honest 

Drugs R US If We Were Honest 
Posted by FoM on September 19, 2000 at 07:27:13 PT
By Salim Muwakkil 
Source: Chicago Tribune
Deep in the hearts of Americans there lurks an almost religious belief that drug use is not just illegal, but inherently evil and immoral. If rationality guided our drug policies, most of the illegal substances now generating billions of dollars in underground profits would have been decriminalized and drug treatment centers would be wherever they're needed. But our society's attitude about (certain) psychoactive substances is oblivious to rational critique; our demonization of drugs has fanatical and cultlike dimensions.
The cold reality is that we'll never be free of these drugs. Indeed, drugs are us. Serotonin, endorphins, Adrenalin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc. are mind-altering chemicals produced by our own bodies. These powerful substances produce such dramatic changes in mood and behavior, there's little doubt they would be illicit were they not endogenous. Our circulatory systems are very efficient drug pushers.Perhaps if we better understood our biological connection to drugs, we'd realize the need to avoid punitive social policies that command us to terminate our intimate relationship with drugs. And it is quite intimate; humanity evolved from herbivorous ancestors, whose diets regularly included plants with powerful psychoactive agents. Virtually all pharmaceutical agents (legal and illegal drugs) originally derive from wild plants and fungi.Much of this information is available in Daniel M. Perrine's 1996 path-breaking book, "The Chemistry of Mind-altering Drugs: History, Pharmacology and Cultural Context."Scientists believe that our neurological system accommodated and, in some cases, incorporated these substances as our bodies became more complex. Studies have found evidence of that co-evolution with the discovery of neurological receptor sites for most of the psychoactive drugs we now demonize. Those substances produce specific chemical transmitters that fit receptors within us like keys do a lock. Marijuana, cocaine, opiates (heroin, morphine and codeine), "psychedelic" drugs like LSD and mescaline and even amphetamines have their own private receptor sites in the network of neurons that enable humans to think and feel.Vitamins provide a good analogy of this evolutionary process. Produced in nature outside the human body, vitamins now are necessary for optimal human metabolism and well-being. Since our contemporary diets lack many of those essential substances, we've created an entire "health-food" industry devoted to nutritional compensation.Similarly, modern humanity no longer ingests the drug-rich plants that once typified our primal diets (and helped design our nervous systems), so we use external substances to compensate.That's why the desire for drugs is such a universal need. Human beings can't "just say no" to physiology. We resist this conclusion because it humanizes rather than demonizes drug use and undermines the "bogeyman strategy" that motivates this nation's ridiculous war on drugs.But it also is clear that certain drugs are demonized while others are lionized. Commercials for BuSpar, for example, a new drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, tout the substance's miraculous powers to reduce anxiety. Similar drugs, Prozac being the most prominent, are aggressively being marketed (pushed?) to anxiety-ridden Americans.These drugs are not seen as chemical solutions to human problems, they have redefined human problems as chemical imbalances.Our natural connection to drugs also increases our tendency to abuse them, which is undesirable. However, to discourage abuse, we recklessly exaggerate the dangers of certain drugs and criminalize their use. Rather than reducing the social harm caused by drug abuse, these misguided policies serve to exacerbate the problem.I won't bore you by listing the negative effects and perverse incentives of our drug policies, though the list is expanding ominously. But even that lengthening list has failed to prevent drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey from ratcheting up the idiocy another notch. We've exported our prohibitionist logic and $1.3 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia, where we're opening another front in the destructive drug war.I'm arguing for rationality in our drug policies, but that line of argument apparently has little persuasive power over people who believe drugs are the work of supernatural demons or other theological bogeymen. Perhaps if we began to understand our drug policies as a series of fruitless assaults on human nature, we would assist rather than punish drug-abusing citizens. Perhaps we would bring our policies more into accord with those of several European countries that have learned to accept drugs as a part of humanity's biological heritage and decided to reduce the harm of abuse instead of denying reality.E-mail: salim4x aol.comPublished: September 18, 2000 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Copyright: 2000 Chicago Tribune Company Contact: ctc-TribLetter Address: 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066 Website: Forum: Archives:
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Comment #4 posted by m segesta on September 21, 2000 at 07:40:59 PT:
laughed too hard
Nemo---"After you, Ladies and Gents of the DrugWarriors, after you. But then again, perhaps that has already taken place."Way too funny!M
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on September 19, 2000 at 16:27:37 PT:
Beware the Lobotomy Police!
I have an old Time/Life book published in the mid-1960's. Time and Life collaborated to produce several volumes all devoted to such subjects as diverse as astronomy and psychology. It was a very ambitious undertaking, and although very dated by today's standards, much of the information which was both presented and discussed is still relevant to today's society as it was back then. Which I suppose was a testimonial to their achievement.In the book, THE MIND, there was a picture from the Dark Ages of a supposed healer who was cutting open the forehead of some poor unfortunate soul with a hammer and chisel. The 'healer' was preparing to remove something deemed to be 'The Stone of Folly' which was considered to be the font of all insanity. The caption read: The Mad Treating the Mad.Compare this with today; McCaffery has recently discovered the wonders of forced treatment. No doubt to populate the soon to be bankrupt private prisons that he expected to fill with you and me. The antis' pretentions of medical ability bear a frightening resemblence to that medieval quack with the chisel.It would not surprise me in the least were McCaffrey and company launch themselves into a new bit of insanity; demanding that everyone in the US undergo lobotomies to remove the endogenous endorphin, anandamide, alcohol etc. receptors from our cortexes. I can just see the commercials; "This is your brain...on brains?"After you, Ladies and Gents of the DrugWarriors, after you. But then again, perhaps that has already taken place.
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Comment #2 posted by observer on September 19, 2000 at 10:53:04 PT
Human Brains Manafacture Illegal Drugs
The cold reality is that we'll never be free of these drugs. Indeed, drugs are us. Serotonin, endorphins, Adrenalin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc. are mind-altering chemicals produced by our own bodies. These powerful substances produce such dramatic changes in mood and behavior, there's little doubt they would be illicit were they not endogenous. Our circulatory systems are very efficient drug pushers.Moreover, our own bodies, in order to function normally, contain controlled substances that are, in fact, illicit.Having touched on the subject of Constitutional vagueness, it is important to stress that scientific research continues to reveal new plant (and animal) species containing illegal compounds. Since controlled substances such as DMT, morphine and codeine appear to be general mammalian neurotransmitters, dog and cat (or other mammal) owners are technically in unauthorized possession of illicit drugs all the time. As we will see in Chapter 5, there are at least 98 species of mushrooms now known to contain illegal psilocybine, and another 60 species can safely be assumed to contain these compounds. This book mentions some 250 plant species known to contain illicit drugs. Some, such as the forage grass Phalaris arundinacea, are common articles of commerce which can be purchased inexpensively by the truckload; some, like the psilocybian mushrooms, grow adventitiously all over the world. Since one would have to be expert in plant taxonomy and phytochemistry, and would have assiduously to study the latest research reports in order simply to know which plants are illegal, plants which might grow unbidden on one’s property at any time, it can be said that the laws interpreted as proscribing these plants are “unconstitutionally vague” -- it is not immediately obvious to the ordinary citizen, nor indeed to anyone, just what is illegalized by these laws. With the advent of the “Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act” of 1986, all plant and animal species can be said to be illegal, at the whim of the government. Short of being an expert in several scientific fields and devoting considerable time and effort keeping abreast of the latest phytochemical and botanical research, some of which is published in German (Gartz 1986c), Spanish (Guzmán 1983), French (Heim & Hofmann 1958), Italian (Festi 1985; Fiussello & Ceruti-Scurti 1972; Samorini & Festi 1989), Czechoslovakian (Pouzar 1953), Norwegian (Kvambe & Edenberg 1979; Nordbo 1979) or other languages, there is no way for any citizen to be certain (s)he is not in illegal possession of a proscribed drug (see Boire 1995 on vagueness issue). Pharmacotheon : Entheogenic Drugs Their Plant Sources and Histories, Jonathan Ott, 1996 (2nd ed.), p.45 
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan on September 19, 2000 at 09:41:31 PT:
Bravo to our friend Salim. My fear is that his name is so ethnic, that the powers that be will be examining his immigration status so that he might be deported as a pernicious influence on existing US domestic policy. That is how they think. It does not matter how compelling nor accurate the message is. Rather, if it challenges the dominant paradigm, the messenger ends up a target.
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