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Thread: Recreational drugs, NZ style.

  1. #1 Recreational drugs, NZ style. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Reference : New Scientist, 8 March 2014, page 41

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of potential recreational drugs out there in the commercial wilderness. Everything from the traditional tobacco and alcohol and caffeine, to fringe cannabis, illegal cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine etc., and on to less well known drugs such as mephedrone, benzylpiperazine, and synthetic cannabinoids. Not to mention less well known plant drugs as psilocybin and khat.

    Up to the present, there has been a kind of arms race between drug makers and regulatory authorities. The drug makers sell a new drug and the authorities ban it and start locking people up. Then a new drug pops up, and a new ban is needed.

    Here in New Zealand, the government decided to try something new. Regulation in the traditional sense has failed. So a form of legalisation is being tried. All recreational drugs are classified as illegal until a license is issued. That license comes when a new drug is tested scientifically and shown not to cause appreciable harm. At this stage, the drug can be sold openly and legally. Of course, if ongoing surveillance shows it causes significant harm, the license will be revoked.

    This approach has been welcomed by the drug makers. Though NZ is a small market, just here there are millions to be made. If the system proves good, and other larger nations follow suit, the profits to be made will be in the billions. So a number of drug makers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on safety testing for their wares.

    This new approach will not cause currently illegal drugs to be legalised, though that may be reviewed in the future.

    So whaddyathink? A good approach? A revolution in drug control, or an idiotic way of dealing with an intractable problem?


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    As far as i know, there are no recreational drugs. There are toxins in plants, that work like this, but they were not created by us, just purified. And the other drugs that are created, are just either failed medicinal drugs, or slightly successful medical drugs with heavy side effects.

    However, changing the idea of drugs like this, is beneficial. It makes drugs far easier to monitor, and i think people will rather buy the cheap, legalized types of drugs, that do not cause harm, then the hard to get, expensive, illegal drugs with possible heavy side effects.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    But those drugs that don't really harm you also don't get you "high". So when a drug is tested and found OK to use most people won't buy it because it won't get them "high". Every type of recreational drug today has some kind of harmful affect and humans but we still use them knowing so. Whhen young I took drugs to get high , today I use them to get by.
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    Yes I think this seems a sensible approach, I would much prefer the idea of reputable drug companies making tested, safe and reliable recreational drugs for the consumers than it being left to, as is the case at present in most countries, self styled illegal want to be chemists/drug dealers/barons/pushers ect.. to supply them with a product.

    Billions of pounds are spent every year on illegal drugs that most people haven't got a clue what's really in them or how safe they are, it criminalises people puts them into the criminal world and can lead to drug addictions to harder and more dangerous drugs such as heroin and the like. If a new form of proper testing and legitamisation for safer recreational drugs proves workable then many illegal drug users can be brought out of the world of criminality and would also be able to get correct and sensible medical advice about what is or isn't safe for them as individuals. Right now as things stand many recreational drug users have no idea of the real harm the drugs they are taking could be causing them and they don't tell their doctors because these drugs are illegal, obviously legalising safer drugs would enable doctors to more honesty from their patients.

    Also, this side should not be overlooked, is the money involved, criminal gangs are making so much money from illegal drugs which all to often then goes on to fund further criminal activities. With legitimate companies providing legalised recreational drugs much of the money involved could be passed on to help fund further research and also taxes introduced could provide funding for people unable to afford healthcare costs.

    It seems to me that whilst no drugs are, or probably ever will be for that matter, entirely safe, as there will always be some risk and usually with prescribed medicine it's a trade off between potential risk and the possible benefits, we could make safer alternatives to the illegal recreational drugs currently on the market.

    We know that millions of people take recreational drugs around the world on a regular basis and this isn't about to change any time soon, however what could change is the type of drugs they are taking, where they are buying them from and where the profits involved actually end up, this is if we use a sensible approach to towards recreational drug use with a determined policy to make it safer and out of the control of the criminals.

    Also since many of these new drugs keep appearing the market faster than governments can ban them, and certainly well before any sensible testing could have been properly carried out, a blanket ban but with licences then issued for safer tested products does seem a very possitive, productive and sensible approach.
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    The only part of the proposal I disagree with is not reviewing the status of current drugs.

    My own view is that we should use alcohol and tobacco as the models for all drug regulation. Set standards which determine concentrations of the active ingredients and determine the nature of the harms possible from its use.

    License it, stipulate accurate labelling, tax it taking into account its potential for harm, control/restrict/ban advertising and control/restrict the sales. Licensing of course makes money for the government. All of a sudden, currently illegal drugs would become sources of revenue for governments rather than a drain on resources. Employing the customs and excise staff instead of police and prison personnel is an improvement - for everyone.
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    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    All recreational drugs are classified as illegal until a license is issued. That license comes when a new drug is tested scientifically and shown not to cause appreciable harm.
    Several questions spring to mind:

    Are they making tobacco and alcohol illegal?
    How easy is testing going to be if all untested drugs are illegal?
    Which substance can't cause appreciable harm if high enough doses are consumed?

    I think it is the kind of legislation which looks liberal/progressive but can be interpreted in whichever way suits the government.
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    Red Panda

    Tobacco and alcohol retain their previous status, as legal, regulated, and taxed products. Other drugs, currently illegal, are not being reviewed right now, but such a review is probable in the long term.

    I do not know what the testing standards are, but some of the drug suppliers are busy testing, so they must have those standards. Different drugs have different levels of harm. For example, ecstasy is very low in harm, despite having caused a small number of deaths under extreme circumstances. Cannabis has killed, but is more harmful in terms of its effect on the human brain, which is harmful but not lethal. Heroin is much more harmful. Alcohol is often touted as the worst drug, but that is in terms of overall harm to society. Such total harm depends not just on the harm to the individual, but also depends on how many individuals use it. It is more harmful than heroin only because nearly every adult uses alcohol, and very few use heroin. On a person by person basis, heroin is much, much worse. My own view is that tobacco should be labelled worst, due to the fact that it kills millions of people every year, while alcohol kills a lot fewer.
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  9. #8  
    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    I do not know what the testing standards are, but some of the drug suppliers are busy testing, so they must have those standards. Different drugs have different levels of harm. For example, ecstasy is very low in harm, despite having caused a small number of deaths under extreme circumstances. Cannabis has killed, but is more harmful in terms of its effect on the human brain, which is harmful but not lethal. Heroin is much more harmful. Alcohol is often touted as the worst drug, but that is in terms of overall harm to society. Such total harm depends not just on the harm to the individual, but also depends on how many individuals use it. It is more harmful than heroin only because nearly every adult uses alcohol, and very few use heroin. On a person by person basis, heroin is much, much worse. My own view is that tobacco should be labelled worst, due to the fact that it kills millions of people every year, while alcohol kills a lot fewer.
    But it is the vagueness of the legislation that I would have a problem with.
    Can you name a substance that is not harmful is sufficient doses?

    I don't see how that new law would - in practise - be any different from current laws.
    They will deem as harmful any drug they wish to ban.
    But will continue to tacitly support other harmful drugs (i.e. alcohol / tobacco).

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    So whaddyathink? A good approach? A revolution in drug control, or an idiotic way of dealing with an intractable problem?
    I think it is a distinction without a difference.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Red Panda

    Tobacco and alcohol retain their previous status, as legal, regulated, and taxed products. Other drugs, currently illegal, are not being reviewed right now, but such a review is probable in the long term.

    I do not know what the testing standards are, but some of the drug suppliers are busy testing, so they must have those standards. Different drugs have different levels of harm. For example, ecstasy is very low in harm, despite having caused a small number of deaths under extreme circumstances. Cannabis has killed, but is more harmful in terms of its effect on the human brain, which is harmful but not lethal. Heroin is much more harmful. Alcohol is often touted as the worst drug, but that is in terms of overall harm to society. Such total harm depends not just on the harm to the individual, but also depends on how many individuals use it. It is more harmful than heroin only because nearly every adult uses alcohol, and very few use heroin. On a person by person basis, heroin is much, much worse. My own view is that tobacco should be labelled worst, due to the fact that it kills millions of people every year, while alcohol kills a lot fewer.
    You have a really bad habit of posting un-supported supositions skeptic. Not very skeptical really.
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  11. #10  
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    From a quick scan of Google, more people die from alcohol than heroin.
    Would that make alcohol more harmful than heroin?
    I guess it depends on which politician you ask.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Giant Evil

    You have not been following other threads. I started an entire thread based on evidence from New Scientist of people killed by cannabis. Take a look.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Giant Evil

    You have not been following other threads. I started an entire thread based on evidence from New Scientist of people killed by cannabis. Take a look.
    Hmm... I see that thread has become a discussion of "Riddick". I should go let them know about the animated feature that lies between "Pitch Black" and "Chronicles".
    If there was a way to at least access the abstract of whatever study was being mentioned in the pop-sci article that you had mentioned, then maybe there would be something I could comment on.

    I attempted to find an apropriatly authoritative source for the LD50 of cannabis, I hear it is listed in the Merck manual but is based on studies from the early 70's.
    Here is the mention; Thc Ld-50? | Marijuana.com
    Probably the same studies that were referenced by Judge Young in his opinion; http://cannabis-science.com/content/...ge%20Young.pdf

    Sorry, but a mention sourced from a pop-sci news source does not buck the status quo.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Giant Evil

    "Pop sci" is a somewhat unpleasant and inaccurate description of New Scientist and of Sciencedaily, which are the main news science mags I reference. They are not peer reviewed, hard science, I agree. But neither are they "pop sci". They are designed as news magazines, to keep interested people up to date with ongoing scientific research, new knowledge, and the odd educational article, to increase science knowledge. They do this very well, and generally are very accurate in their descriptions. You can have faith that what they report is good science.
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  15. #14  
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    Well, New Scientist being specialized probably has a higher accuracy standard for science as opposed to say, the New York Times. But even at that, think Higg's Bosun transmogrified to The God Particle!
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Well, New Scientist being specialized probably has a higher accuracy standard for science as opposed to say, the New York Times.
    New Scientist is frequently wrong/inaccurate/badly worded.
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  17. #16  
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    ^I had heard that about New Scientist myself. When I said New York Times I assumed that they tended to favor right-wing punditry. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Let me substitute The National Enquirer in for New York Times.
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  18. #17  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    There is not a journal in the world that never makes a mistake. That includes hard science peer reviewed journals. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, for example, had a peer reviewed paper published in The Lancet (arguably the world's leading medical journal) on MMR vaccines and autism, which was total bulldust. The Lancet later apologised for publishing it.

    New Scientist has a number of Ph.D. qualified scientists on its writing staff. They are not idiots, and they (mostly) write good, solid science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Well, New Scientist being specialized probably has a higher accuracy standard for science as opposed to say, the New York Times.
    New Scientist is frequently wrong/inaccurate/badly worded.
    New Scientist used to be a lot more interesting and reliable than it is now. I bought it every week for 20 years, maybe more. My perception of it going a bit off track was probably once Jeremy Webb took over as editor. A lot more iffy stuff seemed to get through the different 'newsworthy' filter.

    I look at the online version sometimes when each issue comes out, but I rarely buy the magazine any more. I certainly wouldn't get a paid, full subscription.
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