Of Ragamuffins and Dens: State Legislation, Municipal Enforcement, and Opium Smoking

Social class has as much to do with effective drug demonization as race. This great article doesn’t rewrite the history of anti-Chinese racism in the prohibition of opium, but the class divide caused by criminalization and the speed of the cultural shift from upper class but bohemian acceptability to disgust, classism, and racial segregation of drug use is breathtaking. You see the same pattern throughout the general history of drug prohibition in the 19th and 20th century, with different drugs and in various societies.

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

On May 26, 1888, the Boston Daily Globe reported the death of a young Harvard student named Frank Mills. The front page headline read: “Fatal Opium.” According to the story, having decided that life at Harvard would not be complete without the experience, Mills and three fellow students had ventured into Boston with the hopes of securing some opium. Following suggestions from their classmates the foursome sought out a man known as Nicholas Gentleman who sold opium in the South End. The boys had “refused to go to an opium joint,” as they feared a police raid, but told Gentleman if he would come to Harvard they would “make things all right for him.” He readily agreed after several assurances that Mills was “an old hand at smoking.” That evening Mills continued to claim he was a frequent smoker leading Gentleman to oblige his numerous requests for another pipe. Mills…

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Who Killed Kurt Cobain? Vultures: Courtney Love explains

Ludovico

In 1995, Courtney Love, in a questionable but more honest interview than most, talked about the immediate reason Kurt killed himself: being “ganged up upon” by selfish, greedy jerks who were supposed to be his friends. Courtney and the vultures that surrounded him staged a “tough love” drug intervention. Any idiot could have told them it would backfire. But they didn’t do it for him. They were trying to shove their cash cow toward the bullpen. He was supposed to be touring, he was cancelling left and right, and millions of dollars were at stake over Lollapalooza alone. And here we have a guy who is not only on smack, he wants to sneak off and record Lead Belly covers. He doesn’t want to be a pop star and make us money. That is unacceptable.

It’s a rare, vintage moment of honesty among a crowd that never wants to talk about why Kurt killed himself, or dispel the myth that fame alone did him in. As if fame is some evil goddess. Even in the same interview, Courtney starts to veer toward that official line. Actually, the twisted, greedy pigs around Kurt and in the music industry are the ones who did him in.

These prohibition-minded, temperance movement style drug and alcohol interventions kill people. At best, they can do serious damage. If the management and money men had just let Kurt do what he wanted with his music, since his decisions are what made them all rich in the first place, and if they’d just put Kurt on methadone James Taylor style, maybe he’d be alive today. Maybe not. Who can say? But in the 1990s, tough love interventions were all the rage. Actually, they’re still going on. Even the disgusting A&E show Intervention ran until 2013: 193 episodes, 13 seasons of exploitation and misery.

Mark Goheen, an addiction counselor, put it plainly: “These interventions backfire because it reinforces the idea that [kids’] parents are assholes.” Great way to help some one, right? Be a total prick to them when they’re suffering.

Remember kids, drugs are bad for you, but it’s prohibition that kills.

at 8m18s

Barbara Walters: Could you have stopped it?

Courtney Love: Yes.

BW: Could you have stopped it permanently?

CL: No, but I could have been diligent…

BW: …Why do you think your husband killed himself?

CL: He was ganged up upon…

BW: …Do you feel his death is your fault?

CL: In this instance, yes.

BW: Because?

CL: Because I didn’t need to call for an intervention. I shouldn’t have called for an intervention. I just panicked.

BW: …Because you tried to get him off drugs…it’s your fault?

CL: He thought he was a waste of space. Yes. I told him he had dropped the baby. And I was mean about it… I told him on the phone, ‘you know, you dropped the baby the other day.’ When he was in rehab. You dropped the baby. He was like ‘what!?’ I’m like, ‘you dropped the baby, you dropped Frances on her head.’ She was wearing a big hooded coat, he did not hurt her. And I did not need to tell him that.

BW: And you think that’s why he did it?

CL: I think that’s a major reason…I do, I think that’s a major reason alright? And also, he felt like a waste of space, and a sell out and he’d made everything too huge and it was his fault that everything was too huge. Do you understand what I mean? I mean it came like a Mack truck. First, it was magical. It was so weird. It was surreal and magic in the air. Everybody my age remembers that period when his band got big. And then huge, and then the grown ups knew and then the boomers knew… and he was too famous.

aim

Government shoots celebrity, society blames the gun

Peaches Geldof had heroin in her system when she died. Who’s really to blame for accidental overdoses… hmm… Do you often find yourself accidentally overdosing when you take prescription medication? Oh, man. That Lipitor, it was way stronger this time. No. You accidentally overdose on street drugs that vary in purity. Why do they vary in purity? Because they are made in underground labs by amateur chemists with no potency controls and then sold on to people who cut them depending on their whim. Why is heroin made in underground labs? Because of prohibition.

When a celebrity dies of a drug overdose, prohibition must be defended. Like peachessuperstitious, ignorant shamans warding off evil spirits, society blames the drug itself when it can’t bring itself to blame the victim. If all else fails, they toss out the the devil’s messenger trope, and blame the poor sap who delivered the drug to the willing recipient. But if you died, assuming you’re not a celebrity, they’d just blame you.

If you want to blame someone for the absurd, pointless deaths of those you love and admire, blame your government for caring so little about your lives that they refuse to end a war against their own people. Do they need to be taught this lesson repeatedly? Alcohol prohibition, anyone? Black markets grew, gangsters took over, cartels formed, violence spread, and people died trying to enjoy a cocktail. The prohibitionists know their history. They just don’t care, because it’s not their loved ones who are dying.

Coroner Roger Hatch says the post mortem shows Geldof used heroin shortly before she died … and that the drug is “likely to have played a role in her death.” -tmz.com

Damon Albarn says heroin made him creative and productive

Damon Albarn, frontman for Blur and Gorillaz, is set to release a new solo album, Everyday Robots. He’s now given a rare interview in which he discusses his past heroin use as a creative and productive experience, but he also admits it’s a cruel drug to be addicted to. He describes his habit in one of his new songs, You and Me:

“Tin foil and a lighter, the ship across … Five days on, two days off.”

So he was smoking heroin, not injecting, and he was not using daily. The technical term for this is Damon_Albarn_Performingmoderation. Sure, five days a week could be considered more than moderate use depending on quantity. But what people refuse to understand is that moderate use of heroin can actually exist. There’s been so much demonization of the drug that it’s caused mass cognitive dissonance, even hysteria. Smoking heroin occasionally is not the same as lying in alley with a syringe stuck in your arm. People can’t seem to grasp that, yet they find it easy to understand that having a glass of wine five nights a week with dinner is not the same as drinking a quart of vodka a day.

I hope this turns into something instructive for someone out there, but I imagine Albarn will just be demonized for admitting there are benefits and harms associated with heroin.

As a former junky and as a guitarist, I have to add that to get any creative benefit from heroin (like any other drug), you better use it in strict moderation. Opiate addiction can really sap your creative drive and even deaden how music feels. Again, compare it alcohol: you might be inspired after an evening out with friends talking and having a few drinks. Whereas if you started drinking every day it might ruin you, and soon you could wind up with no friends to talk to and few new ideas to talk about. Then again, according to addiction experts, alcohol is much worse than heroin. And as with any drug, most people who try heroin do not get addicted. The statistics vary by study but tend not to rise above 30 percent.

Damon Albarn’s new album, Everyday Robots, is out April 29, 2014.

Excerpt from the Guardian:

Damon Albarn has given a rare interview about his past heroin use, describing it as an “incredibly productive” time in his musical career.

Although the singer is now sober, the singer addresses his drug use in a new song, which describes how he would regulate his heroin intake to “five days on and two days off”.

“[Heroin] freed me up,” Albarn said in this month’s Q cover story. “I hate talking about this because of my daughter, my family. But, for me, it was incredibly creative … A combination of [heroin] and playing really simple, beautiful, repetitive shit in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I found a sense of rhythm. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice.”

Albarn began using heroin “at the height of Britpop”, after returning home from tour and finding it “in the front room”. “I just thought, ‘Why not?’ I never imagined it would become a problem,” he said.

“I’m happy I found that poetry,” Albarn told Q. “I can move forward now without all the nudge nudge, wink wink innuendo I’ve had in the background for years.”

 

Drug czar uses marijuana study to distract media from crime drop in Denver after legalization

DEA Stormtrooper

The empire strikes back.

With studies showing drug legalization in Colorado has already lowered Denver crime rates, the feds have to do something to protect their lucrative drug war.

According to data from the Denver Police Department, violent crime (including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) fell by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013. Property crime (including burglary, larceny, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle and arson) dropped by 11.1%.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, office of the U.S. “drug czar”, is the anti-drug propaganda arm of the U.S. government. At the ONDCP, it’s actually against the law to tell the truth about drugs, a fact highlighted by a Feb. 4, 2014 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing was originally planned by Republicans to denounce the president, but that backfired when deputy drug czar Michael Botticelli was made to look like an idiot by Democrats defending Obama’s factual observation that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.

Recent events that led up to the timing of the release of the latest federally-funded anti-marijuana study:

1. President says marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.

2. Study is published showing crime rates fell after medical marijuana decriminalization in the 2000s.

3. Crime rates in Denver fall up to 11% in 2014 Q1 after full legalization of marijuana.

4. Feds continue to get angry, crack down on dispensaries in Denver and whine about legalization in D.C.

5. ONDCP hauls out their zillionth anti-marijuana study, after being embarrassed in a Congressional hearing.

6. Worthless news media takes ONDCP study seriously.

7. Tabloids do ONDCP’s dirty workrepeatedly.

8. Reports on the recent study showing crime rates falling after decriminalization get buried by ONDCP propaganda.

At least USA Today, a semi-literate newspaper full of colorful pie charts, is playing it safe, probably under the assumption that anyone who reads USA Today must be stoned:

Gregory Gerdeman, a biologist and neuropharmacologist at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., said he has no reason to doubt the new study’s findings but worries generally about marijuana research funded by federal agencies… “If you’re getting money from the drug czar’s office, that money’s not going to continue if you don’t end up publishing something that at least supports the general story of the danger of drug abuse,” Gerdeman said… “if it were my child, even with this study, I’m more comfortable with young people having a casual marijuana habit than drinking regularly.”

As usual, President Obama says it’s up to someone else to do something about the inequities of the drug laws. Since Congress never does anything they’re not compensated for, that leaves things open for the anti-drug cartels to recapture their market share. After all, drug war is big business for federal agencies, contractors, and private prisons.

This will all come down to money in the end. Capitalist entrepreneurs turned legal drug dealers aligned with states hungry for tax revenues will compete against federal agencies desperate to maintain their funding, all to see who can bribe the most people on Capitol Hill. Welcome to America.

Drugs, Science and Society – Royal Institution Lecture

“Narcotics have been used by humans since the time of the ancient Egyptians, and even today around 300 million people across the world take drugs each year. But what is a drug? And who is it that should decide what a drug is?

In this Ri event chaired by Kate Kelland, EMEA Health and Science Correspondent for Reuters, Sharon Ruston and David Nutt explore the past, present and future of our societal and political attitudes towards drugs. From supposedly “medical” experimentations in the 18th and 19th centuries, to modern-day government drugs policy and the rise of new ‘legal highs’.

In the 1800s, eminent Ri scientist Humphry Davy carried out numerous experiments on the effects of breathing nitrous oxide, testing it on both himself and others. These experiences lead to his claim that this drug could “destroy our pains and increase our pleasures”. Comparing Davy’s trials with those of Thomas De Quincey with opium, Sharon Ruston, Professor of Romanticism at Lancaster University, explores what were clearly some rather blurred boundaries between medical and recreational drug use at this time. Both nitrous oxide and opium have become invaluable medicines, the first as an anaesthetic, the second as morphine — one of our most powerful forms of pain relief. But it seems during these early experimentations that these drugs’ were heralded as much for their pleasurable uses as for the control of pain, enabling humans to access a new world of “sublime perception”.

Such research was aided by the fact that, in Davy’s day, science had little, if any, interference from politics. Times have certainly changed, and the use and classification of drugs has become heavily entrenched in politics. In the second half of the talk psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist Prof David Nutt, explores this complex relationship, considering the challenges posed by politics, media and the alcohol industry in the future of drugs policy. Nutt raises some controversial questions, including whether alcohol is more dangerous than other drugs, and gives his thoughts on what drugs, and society’s view of them, will look like in the future.”

Watch more science videos on the Ri Channel http://richannel.org

Media Goes Meow Meow for Drugs and Severed Penis

Media Circus Meow

Over boys and kittens, knives and penises, lastly through a hogshead of krokodil

There’s a sucker for severed penises and crazy drug stories born every minute, and the circus is finally back in town. What do we have to top last season’s wonderful crocodile show? Nothing less than a psychotic boy with severed genitals, stabbing his mother on mephedrone.

Everyone welcome Rolling Stone to this season’s media circus. The magazine just couldn’t resist being a part of the fun after seeing those lovely crocodiles. They may seem new at this, but it’s right up their alley. However, Rolling Stone has made it clear to me that they want you to answer an important question before they perform, so everyone pay attention:

“WHAT IS MEOW MEOW THE DRUG THAT MADE A TEEN CUT OFF HIS GENITALS?”

-Julianne Escobedo Shepherd,

author of “Are online nudie pics an art form

and “Six movies that will make you never want kids

@jawnita on Twitter

I want you all to get a chance to answer Rolling Stone and Julianne (who, unbelievably, or, perhaps, quite predictably, has taught as an adjunct professor at NYU), but first let’s hear what the other circus freaks have to say:

The Huffington Post says they’re more interested in severed penis than the drugs. They want to remind us about recent events in Asia:

A CHINESE MAN WHO HACKED OFF HIS LOVE MUSCLE IN OCTOBER FORGOT TO BRING IT TO THE HOSPITAL WITH HIM !!!

A MAN FROM TAIWAN CHOPPED OFF HIS OWN MANHOOD AND FLUSHED IT DOWN THE TOILET !!!!

@HuffingtonPost on Twitter | HuffingtonPost on Facebook

Lucy Crossley at The Daily Mail also prefers the penis angle. She enjoys long walks and picturing blood gushing from a boy’s groin. The Daily Mail liked the story so much they couldn’t stop writing the headline.

“STUDENT 19 SLICED OFF HIS OWN PENIS AFTER STABBING HIS MOTHER WHILE HIGH ON MEOW MEOW AND WAS FOUND HANGING OUT OF A WINDOW WITH BLOOD GUSHING FROM HIS GROIN”

@MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Rolling Stone, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to want to be a full-time member of the circus. They want the attention and money without the disgrace of running away from society to abuse rare animals and people with genetic illnesses for fun and profit. Phrases like this have no place in our circus:

“But as with most emerging drugs, there’s an aura of sensationalism surrounding the truth, making clear and concise information difficult to parse. (Recall the Miami bath salts cannibal, who was never proven to have ingested bath salts.)”

Julianne, we can relate. You feel ashamed after writing a tabloid article pandering to drug hysteria with a psychotic penis rampage. You feel ashamed to be in the company of hacks like Lucy Crossley. But you might as well not bother if you’re going to give the game away about the bath salts cannibal. That cannibal has to make a living, and so does the rest of the circus. We know that no one cuts off their own penis on stimulants unless they’re mentally ill.

But the suckers don’t, and you had better keep it that way.

In this way the Daily Mail will challenge the world

Junk Semantics

JUNKIEburroughsACEcover

It really irritates me to see “drug reform” activists use the same prejudiced language as their opponents. These people remind me of early American abolitionists who often espoused just as much racism as the average slave owner. Abolitionists believed slavery was wrong, but that doesn’t mean they all believed in equality and weren’t subject to cultural indoctrination.

If you’re trying to change society, it helps if you actually understand it. And when you’re fighting for social change, you have to combat toxic ideas, not conform to them. Humans have a tendency to cultural conformity. Even so, you would expect people who are trying to change a culture to be able to see that culture’s prejudices. Instead, most people, whether their hearts are in the right place or not, seem doomed to operate within the bounds of conformity to social rules which were established to support the harmful beliefs they claim they’re trying to alter.

So here’s some junk semantics that need to change and the real meanings behind them, or, in some cases, the words we should be using instead.

Drug reform movement = human rights movement; civil rights movement

Drug related crime = prohibition related crime

Discontinuation syndrome = withdrawal syndrome. The term “discontinuation syndrome” was invented by the makers of SSRI anti-depressant drugs to distance SSRI withdrawal from cultural perceptions of drug addiction. 

Chemical dependence = a positive euphemism for physical addiction

Clean = culturally acceptable drug user. a person who may smoke a pack of cigarettes and consume multiple alcoholic drinks per day.

Sobriety = culturally acceptable drug use. a state in which a person uses any and all drugs that aren’t illegal or culturally taboo.

Drug = medication

use = describes taking culturally taboo pharmaceuticals. “He takes Tylenol” versus “She uses heroin.”

Drug user = a person who uses an illegal or culturally taboo pharmaceutical, even when legitimately prescribed by a doctor, if that medical use is not culturally acceptable (for example, “medical marijuana”)

Junkie = Junky: a person whose central nervous system requires opiates to function normally. The preferred spelling removes the diminutive and reappropriates the epithet.

Addiction = chemical dependence. Currently used to describe a diseased mind or a compulsive habit depending on speaker’s bias; has been detached from the physical so that the word is only used to describe “drug users” and not all people who are chemically dependent; in actuality: the state of being physically addicted to (“chemically dependent” upon) a pharmaceutical.

Medical marijuana = marijuana. A well-intentioned euphemism which necessarily implies that the reason a person takes a particular drug should be subject to regulation and that recreational use should be treated differently than “medical use”, which is then defined on culturally subjective terms.

Makes me want to use some medical aspirin.

Prohibition and Prejudice: Demonization of the Drug User

After I quit methadone, people began to treat me like a different person. I unwittingly transcended the untouchable caste of the junky and became accepted as a normal member of this society that so conveniently allows for reinvention. I might as well have been a black man who turned white overnight.

Anti-Mexican racism contributed to the criminalization of cannabis

Anti-Mexican racism contributed to the criminalization of cannabis

Drug users are among the untouchables of the American class system, the melting pot’s social cousins of the Dalit of India, the Romani of Europe and the Burakumin of Japan. In America, like most places, you are treated more or less like a pariah for being on methadone maintenance. Years of negative drug tests will only make you seem to most people a somewhat more trustworthy and less repulsive specimen of your untouchable caste. Get your methadone prescription from a doctor, take the medication for pain (instead of requiring it to be able to function), and miraculously you are considered a normal human being.

Anti-Chinese racism was largely responsible for the criminalization of opiates.

Anti-Chinese racism was largely responsible for the criminalization of opiates.

I quit methadone a long time ago because I was sick of the discriminatory regulations and travel restrictions. I developed medical problems soon after–problems unrelated to methadone or withdrawal. I didn’t know it at the time, but methadone had alleviated the symptoms and functioned as a therapeutic treatment. Now I have to suffer the irony of doctors forever congratulating me for discontinuing the only medication that relieved symptoms they are trying, with little success, to address with drugs and surgeries that are objectively no better, and often worse than being on methadone.

Not many people are aware that opiates treat conditions other than pain, but as late as the 19th century opium was as widely used as aspirin is today. The public today is encouraged to believe the 19th century opium cure-all was quackery. This is a convenient lie that even most doctors believe. Of course, most doctors alive today have very little understanding of opiates. Like most people, they are prejudiced against their use.

Drug prohibition was founded on prejudice. San Francisco enacted the first U.S. opium ban in 1875, motivated by anti-Chinese xenophobia and racism. Similar laws were passed around the world for similar reasons, often by governments and groups with ulterior motives. Before Harry Anslinger demonized cannabis in Hearst newspapers with scare stories about African Americans raping white women, southwestern states were targeting “marihuana” smoking Mexican immigrants. Japan’s right wing government outlawed the same drug when confronted by a red scare and widespread left wing student protests. Many of the students used marijuana, which became a convenient cause for their arrests.

Naturally, these prejudices against targeted groups expanded to include drug users in general. The use of prohibited drugs became synonymous with belonging to a despised race or subculture. Soon, the idea of drugs—the excuse to demonize—became entangled with the act of using the drug, and thus began the demonization of the drug user in general.

Indiana Cops Teach Child What Marijuana Gets You: Assaulted By Police

Welcome to America

“Protect and Serve”? OBEY AND SURVIVE

To better prepare 11-year-old American children for the police brutality they will soon be subject to as bystanders and victims of the War on (some) Drugs, the Brazil, Indiana Police Department apparently thought it would be a good idea to show schoolchildren what will happen to them when they grow up in America, or, in the case of any American who isn’t white, when they turn thirteen.

First, the police demonstrated drug planting techniques on an 11-year-old boy, a lesson presumably designed to both dissuade and frighten the children by making them aware of the criminality American cops will resort to in their war on the people they claim to protect.

Obey and SurviveThe cops then attacked the 11-year-old boy with a dog named Max, furthering the effectiveness of the lesson with a real-life recreation of police brutality.

National reporting of the story prompted the Brazil Police Department to make good out of a bad situation and teach a further lesson. Authorities are now demonstrating to the child how police reports are falsified to blame victims of police brutality.

Police report: “The first male juvenile began moving his legs around as Max searched him. When the male began moving his legs, (this is what) I believe prompted Max’s action to bite the male juvenile on the left calf.”

The lesson has come under criticism, but it clearly is good preparation for life in a country where the police will shoot anyone without hesitation, bystander or suspect, and 67% of the time will get away with it (100% for federal police).

Obey and Survive

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