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Mild Greens On Effects Of Prohibition

Paul Holmes (Prime 13April) revealed to New Zealand a different side to the ruling paradigm of all and any drug use leading all of weak moral fiber to hell in a cart full of bovine excreta.

Douglas Sellman from the highly regarded Christchurch based Addiction Center revealed that most users, despite the highly addictive qualities ascribed to "P" or pure methamphetamine go on to lead perfectly normal lives. We hear now that addition rates run a poor second to the harms and costs of legal alternatives such as alcohol and tobacco. Further, that cannabis was seen as largely benign even in this enlightened dialogue speaks volumes for taking a more measured evidence based approach to drug use, and more importantly, distinguishing misuse and abuse as a health issue, not a criminal and/or justice one.

Holmes's leader to the story was a family funeral for a loved Son and Brother as Dad and Daughter portrayed the tragic scenario of what happens to someone hooked on 'P'. They spoke of an adventurous risk taking teen compelled and stood over to burgle and plunder. Driven house to house inflicting harm and offense (theft and damage), the life and death of this young man demonstrates all the worst characteristics of intolerant prohibitory practices. Would this 'at risk' and criminalized young man ran from his doctor as he did from Police?

"This drowning of an eighteen year old happened under the prohibitors watch" says MildGreen law reform advocate and a founding director of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, Blair Anderson, "it isolates, marginalizes and maximizes harm, where a post prohibition health-based intervention ring fences any negative consequences to the consumer."

In 1974, New Zealand's mostly younger woman, driven by body image issues and a certain feel good factor consumed more than a 100 million 'stimulant' ATS's, amphetamine type diet suppressing 'herbal extracts. Addiction was an issue but managed under the tried and proven best practice 'British system' of patient-doctor relationship. Diet pills and other stimulant drugs had been pharmacueticalised (made pure) from the variable quality ephedra plant. Ephedra had a long 'chinese herbal' tradition as an effacious decongestant and hunger suppressant.

There are MP's sit in the house today, who have had a 'pure' amphetamine history, but their contemporary experience was not criminalised. Notably too, the compulsion to burgle, run from the police and drown is clearly absent from the record despite high but otherwise manageable addiction rates, says Mr Anderson.

The following year [1975], New Zealand adopted, largely at the behest of the United States of America and the UN the now in disrepute, Misuse of Drugs Act.

Tomorrow is D.A.R.E day in America (note:1). President 'do as I say, not as I have done' GW Bush is lauding its architects and advocates despite any evidence base that it or other of his zero tolerant programs work. (Evidence shows that abstinence only drug and sex education programs put young people in real jeopardy see note:2.)

America provides a poor example if we are looking for a way out of this mess. Drugs have never been cheaper, purer or more prevalent since America first criminalized, for political and racial reasons chinese opium in the Philippines 100 years ago. That act marked America's first international power play as it asserted its influence post the Spanish War and its been riding the same horse ever since. The 'Texan tough justice' governor of death row policies and the spanish history is just rich irony as the drug hawks now have to account for a reason to uphold the law if in Indonesia this day, Ms Shapelle Corby's trial judge adjudicates she be shot by firing squad... for what? Unknowing possession of someone else's weed. D.A.R.E. tell me that is justice.

(1) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050405.html
(2) http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opros134215531apr13,0,102273.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines

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