Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Out of sight, out of mind: how we forgot about synthetics

14 Responses

  • Katharine Moody,

    Stuart Nash on this;

    After Tuesday's sentencing, new Police Minister Stuart Nash said the Government would review legislation around psychoactive substances "as a matter of priority".

    "I strongly suspect that when the law was passed no one envisaged the level of harm these psychoactive substances were going to cause the community," he said.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/98395961/pair-get-home-detention-for-importing-ultrapotent-drug

    Given that lives are being lost, I'd hope the importation/dealing in these should be treated as involuntary manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide as a minimum.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Given that lives are being lost, I’d hope the importation/dealing in these should be treated as involuntary manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide as a minimum.

    There would have to be a victim – and in this case there isn't, because the package was intercepted.

    The PSA wasn't designed for this kind of thing, and importation penalties should be aligned with those for the most dangerous illicit drugs (which the Misuse of Drugs Act does a lousy job of ranking). I'm encouraged that no one's talking about cranking up penalties for use and possession though. There's no sense in re-victimising victims.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    involuntary manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide

    No such crimes exist in NZ law: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/128.0/DLM329302.html

    [we do not live in the USA, or the movies]

    Also, why is the best way to deal with a tragedy to create others?

    And drug taking is a voluntary act. In many years of hanging out with dodgy people, nobody has ever "pushed" me to buy their drugs (and I think you'll struggle to find a court case where this was proved as an aggravating circumstance against a dealer).

    See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Kennedy

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    importation penalties should be aligned with those for the most dangerous illicit drugs

    That makes sense if it’s as good as it might get.

    I attended the funeral of a friend’s daughter the other week – drug overdose and the thought was a suspected suicide, but with the type of unknown cuts/poisons on the street, how could we ever know? Her distraught father when I spoke to him following his return from identifying her body, commented on Hone Harawira’s suggestion that we introduce the death penalty for importation and manufacture of this shit.

    Can’t say I’d necessarily oppose it if it was considered by our legislators – and that’s an admission by me that I’m horrified by. I simply can’t face the fact that every primary school child of today will no doubt become prey at some stage in their lives to these heinous individuals.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    And drug taking is a voluntary act. In many years of hanging out with dodgy people, nobody has ever “pushed” me to buy their drugs (and I think you’ll struggle to find a court case where this was proved as an aggravating circumstance against a dealer).

    This recent synnies tragedy seems to meet that description:

    Texts found on his phone revealed that in the three days before Jones died, a drug dealer had messaged him almost 100 times trying to entice him to buy synthetic cannabis.

    Jones resisted, telling the dealer no, he was in rehab.

    Furthermore he was sick at home with a cold and not interested.

    That night, alerted to where Jones was and while his mother was out, the dealer showed up at the house and gave him a bag of synthetic cannabis.

    On Friday September 1 he dropped his mother and sister off at work, went home and tried to get high again.

    He was effectively dead in seconds.

    There's a spectrum of drug supply – from people buying for friends to people who really don't care about causing harm – and the law does a really bad job of distinguishing different circumstances. And I think it's idle to to declare that all drug taking is voluntary. People get trapped.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Her distraught father when I spoke to him following his return from identifying her body, commented on Hone Harawira’s suggestion that we introduce the death penalty for importation and manufacture of this shit.

    Can’t say I’d necessarily oppose it if it was considered by our legislators – and that’s an admission by me that I’m horrified by. I simply can’t face the fact that every primary school child of today will no doubt become prey at some stage in their lives to these heinous individuals.

    Sorry, but no fucking way. That’s an unacceptable road to go down.

    One thing that really struck me writing the story the post is about is that in the end, it’s not about this or that drug – or, rather, that there’s a group of drugs used by people, with some justification, to block out their lives. Sometimes it’s prescription drugs, sometimes street drugs. And poor people get the worst of them.

    The fact is, every primary school child will not "become prey" to people dealing these particular drugs. Many will use illicit drugs and the very large majority will come to no harm through that.

    There is a particular problem with the current generation of synthetic cannabinoids. One is the way they lock people in. The users I've talked to talk about doing a couple of cones, going unconscious (or dissociated) for an hour or two then waking up and immediately needing more. It's vicious.

    The other is their sheer potency, which is a deadly problem when the product is dosed by idiots in suburban garages. That's why people are dying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There is a particular problem with the current generation of synthetic cannabinoids. One is the way they lock people in. The users I’ve talked to talk about doing a couple of cones, going unconscious (or dissociated) for an hour or two then waking up and immediately needing more. It’s vicious.

    The other is their sheer potency, which is a deadly problem when the product is dosed by idiots in suburban garages. That’s why people are dying.

    Yes, and it's that aspect of these particular substances - combined with the spate of recent deaths - and discussions with those attending these overdose events in the community, that makes me think again in ways that are against the principles I used to hold. As I said, I'm horrified by my own thoughts, but then how else do we defend the innocent and vulnerable?

    I accept what you say about the 'large majority' (although I do wonder whether that is more true yesterday than it might be today and going forward), but as someone at the funeral said, "this has to stop right here and right now". And I asked myself, how many funerals has that same phrase been used at?

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    I accept what you say about the ‘large majority’ (although I do wonder whether that is more true yesterday than it might be today and going forward)

    In that the drugs baby-boomers took were generally safer and more reliable than the drugs their children and grandchildren are getting, yup.

    And in many cases, the more dangerous drugs appeared because the safer ones were forced out of the market in one way or another.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yup for sure, Russell, that's it in a nutshell. And as a baby boomer, I feel inadequate and helpless where protecting the grandchildren is concerned. Like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was the reason for my desperation to get the baby boomers out of power at this election just past and such is my hope now that the generation of my children will solve it for theirs.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In that the drugs baby-boomers took were generally safer and more reliable than the drugs their children and grandchildren are getting, yup.

    And in many cases, the more dangerous drugs appeared because the safer ones were forced out of the market in one way or another.

    And reading of the opioid overdose epidemic in the States, Big Pharma has lobbied heavily against the DEA taking it to task on the matter.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That’s an unacceptable road to go down.

    Too right, death penalties are a whole bunch of cray. Let's not.

    And in many cases, the more dangerous drugs appeared because the safer ones were forced out of the market in one way or another.

    Well they became popular, and remain popular, for that reason. They may well have been invented regardless.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I simply can’t face the fact that every primary school child of today will no doubt become prey at some stage in their lives to these heinous individuals.

    I’ve been saying that about alcohol marketing company’s using supermarkets point of sale, to normalise the stuff to the point kids probably think it’s food.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Well they became popular, and remain popular, for that reason. They may well have been invented regardless.

    Very, very few people take NBOMe in preference to LSD – as opposed to taking it because it's been sold to them as LSD, or because it's all they can get.

    Similarly, last summer Know Your Stuff noticed a pattern with presentations of powders and crystals the holder presumed to be MDMA but which turned out to be cathinones (including new cathinones no one could identify) – almost invariably the holders were young. Older people's samples tended to be as presumed, while the kids were getting shit drugs.

    The cathinones, including mephedrone, only turned up on the market because the UN managed to crack down on saffrole, a key MDMA precursor. But yeah, there is now some preference for mephedrone in its own right – it tends to be better for chemsex, for example, and I think there was also some research showing cocaine users switching in Europe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

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