Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sorting out our thinking on drugs

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  • debunk, in reply to BenWilson,

    You're quoting the wrong person Ben. This Law is a dog. Compare it with ACC and the RMA. Confusing.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ross Bell,

    I was asking about the practical good. Those are only hypothetical goods that might lead to a practical good. Or they might not, as seems to have happened. Kids still get all these drugs, they market them to each other in the most powerful kind of marketing, peer pressure, and they get frequently poisoned. And there are still all the other alternatives that are illegal which they can and do use.

    Has the law change meant we've actually seen less of this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to BenWilson,

    @Ben
    It's called "growing up" and experimentation is happening everywhere, though mainly alcohol..interesting that reported this morning 50% Australian teenagers not bothering with alcohol - too busy socialising online.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    - Quite a lot of the

    bogan riff-raff

    not getting additional criminal records for cannabis possession (they of course being the ones who may not get away with it, unlike the middle classes who can keep things discreet).

    - Reduced profits for "illegal" drug dealers (a lot of the furore about synthetics is indirectly coming from those with an interest in growing and selling weed).

    - People getting an informed choice about what they put in their bodies

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

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    not getting additional criminal records for cannabis possession

    Is there evidence for a reduction in this happening?

    Reduced profits for “illegal” drug dealers

    Is there any evidence that this is happening?

    People getting an informed choice about what they put in their bodies

    Is there any evidence that people are more informed? Or is it just that they could be, if they were inclined to care, but they aren't?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • debunk,

    Story in UK press a while back of burglars cleaning out bathroom cabinets of drugs and scoffing the lot ..no discrimination. No idea what they were taking ..all just "drugs" .. like "legal high" consumers. Scoffers survived but imagine some common cardiac drugs etc could have buzzy effects...

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    Is there evidence

    Unlikely that any research could have been done, given the law has only been in operation for a short while and few statistics will have been released in the time frame.

    Is there any evidence that people are more informed?

    If all psychoactive substances were illegal (be a bit of a problem for people wanting to buy butane or petrol) then people would have no choice, logically.

    With the current law, there is "some" choice and plenty of information (not least on what actual substance one is ingesting, if one chooses to go down the legal route). It's up to the user whether to avail themselves of such information.

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

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Purchase age restrictions, marketing controls, mandatory poisons centre helpline on labels, out of dairies. And soon, pre-market testing for harm, consumers will know what they’re taking, standards for manufacturing. Lots.

    None of which will help those like the kid Jessie with the rotting gut ,addiction that will air on Campbell live as follow up tonight iirc. He was on the street and underage and found by a Tv crew easily enough but he just wanted to stop (as he protested.) He didn't have it in himself to even go home for help. Cant imagine the likes of him having change for ph calls either.
    Like most teenagers with alcohol, they will get what they want. I am a bit horrified that the law can look at the standard for manufacturing a gut rot but cant see how a bit of weed is not a better option. It's friggin obvious which can have less side effects.
    Plus ,like many reports, they will be cherry picked to shape legislation in the future. Politicians do it all the time.
    Personally I haven't tried these synthetics . Aint going to because of a law change either. :)
    A bit of State funded TV education would be good for the kids looking at understanding their choices and adults

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to debunk,

    cleaning out bathroom cabinets of drugs and scoffing the lot

    You know, for someone who claims to be a post-grad psychopharmacologist there's a slight lack of credibility in your posts.

    I suspect anyone who did that on most people's medicine collections would be very ill from paracetamol poisoning, if nothing else. Commonly prescribed cardiac drugs, OTOH, are usually asymptomatic in overdose.

    Surely you should know this?

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

  • debunk, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I will have a copy somewhere or it will be on the Guardian site. I have been waiting for someone to infer trolling!

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Unlikely that any research could have been done

    In that case, it’s reasonable to withhold judgment about whether that’s actually a good. For a long time, until there are any useful statistics.*

    It’s up to the user whether to avail themselves of such information.

    There’s a point with information where it’s not really useful, though. When it’s a list of chemicals, I can’t really see too many 17 year olds in the legal highs shop Googling the chemicals in the various choices of high, so that they can make an informed choice about which of this week’s batch of drugs they want to do human trials on.

    Certainly it’s good that these chemicals must be listed. But how good? I think it’s bugger all.

    *ETA: And withholding judgment for a long time might even be the purpose to the puritanical. No one can prove that it's not working. Once the proof comes that it isn't, rinse, and repeat. Make a change, and once again, we're in a no-information environment, in which the choice about whether something is a good falls back on general principles, moral judgments. This could go on indefinitely.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Bathroom cabinets, burglars probably have a very good idea which drugs are worth money and which ones they may like. I remember watching Drugstore Cowboy, thinking that was a pretty accurate account of a junkies ingenuity to score. Drugs are about money and highs for most users who are pretty savvy on the effects. I guess these laws may help the novice but a novice at 18, hmmm.?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I was asking about the practical good. Those are only hypothetical goods that might lead to a practical good.

    I think it's a logical contortion to rule out all the things Ross listed as being only hypothetical goods.

    Has the law change meant we’ve actually seen less of this?

    It appears so:

    The illicit drug monitoring system study shows that, after a brief rise to prominence, synthetic cannabis is already declining among drug users.

    There's a caveat in that the study only interviews people who already have access to illegal drugs, but it's a pretty clear trend. I knew people who bought synthetic pot when it was for sale in dairies (I bought some myself once, to know what I was talking about), I don't know anyone who buys it now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    A lot of the kids that the Campbell live crew interviewed were of the opinion that weed was better but the legality of synthetics is why the purchased those. Brown kids were smoking in front of Cops on the street happily knowing they wouldn't be harassed or at least couldn't be arrested.They also expressed the preference to not go to tinny houses.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Pete George,

    It’s worth sharing this comment from Geoff Noller (from another blog post):

    I think that the current raft of problems we’re facing with synthetics are primarily a clear cut case of the prohibition chickens coming home to roost.

    An NZ report in 1973 (the ‘Blake-Palmer’ report) warned that continuing the ban on natural or ‘raw’ cannabis (the Law Commission’s [2011] term) would likely result in a black market – which at that time was barely in existence – and increased use. It proposed education, along with accepting that a generational shift towards drugs other than alcohol might be occurring.

    Fast forward 40 years and…gee, maybe someone should have listened.

    The Psychotic Substances Act represents a further attempt to engage with this issue and is actually a major shift in NZ’s approach to recreational drug taking. Unfortunately, those responsible for it didn’t appreciate the need for education around drug taking that follows from unlocking the lolly jar, so long kept behind the counter.

    As a result we’ve seen possibly thousands of NZ’ers, many of them young and inexperienced, accessing a class of drugs about which they know nothing, far too frequently and heavily.

    What that boils down to is that with access to whatever substances, also comes the responsibility of appropriate use. This is something we all have to own.

    For those interested in synthetics and an assessment of their current impact in NZ, along with comparators, have a look at a recent report here:

    http://www.thestartrust.org/images/pdf/Synthetic%20cannab%20harms%20NZ%20final%20draft-3.pdf

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2011 • 139 posts Report Reply

  • Shulgin,

    If I may be particular.

    In the book PHIKAL by A Shulgin, amongst other things, he shows how small changes in chemical structure, functional groups and so on can have radically different results than what would be predicted by the structure that is often times ridiculously close to another compound. Tiny changes in dose can have very different results in humans from one compound to another a few mg either way can produce very different subjective and physical states. Shulgin was a structured worker, not only did he make the compounds but he tested them on himself. He wrote down the results of his work, and he was very methodical working the phenethylamine backbone. The PHIKAL compounds are not part of the synthetic industry, but it illustrates in a way just how, lets say fragile, matters are, when it comes to minute changes in compounds that look quite similar.

    Now just look at this. This is the reality of the experiment going down in the legal high stores.

    First a vaporizing blend STG-24. That product contains STG-24, at 5mg/g as the active ingredient. What is STG-24? It is something hidden from consumers because it is a “compound” from the supplier Stargate. They say with this product:

    “This product is intended to be vaporised at a temperature of 190 degrees C. Do not smoke this product as it may produce pyrolysis by-products with unknown and unpredictable toxicity. It consists of natural and synthetic ingredients. It produces a psychoactive effect that can last up to half an hour. Smokers who have not tried this blend before, and smokers with a low tolerance, should try a small amount then wait 10 minutes before trying more.”

    So you need some equipment, a vaporizer, you need to understand what you are doing, vaporizing an unknown compound at 190 degrees.

    BUT….

    In the same store is “Giggle” containing same STG-24 at same dose, but is a smoking blend. What temperature do you smoke at? See above warning, same product two different administration methods. Do the smokers have a worse time? What would a rational consumer do?

    One answer is, why bother with a vaporiser when I can just roll that shit up….and smoke it… combust it…at well over 190 degrees….

    Then we have another product containing CL2201 as the active ingredient. Does anyone buying know or care what this is? Well it is actually another JWH compound JWH-398. Does anyone know or care about that? Well we all should because it is a “research” chemical. And this is the indole type RB discusses in other postings. That dose is 40mg/gram. JWH wouldn’t be taking the compound himself, he said so!

    Then we have PB-22 a quinolone derivative at 50mg/gram…does anyone buying care?

    So effectively we have an uncontrolled experiment going on. It is an experiment with youth in large part….no one is around the details especially not P Dunne nor the Ministry of Health.

    We need to change the cannabis laws and get research chemicals off the streets simple as that.

    It is very amusing to see this going on, while as someone said above, the cannabis elephant in the room watches!

    Come on Stargate International....just what is your STG-24??? We know what your game is......markets markets and more markets from the good guys at Stargate!

    NZ • Since May 2011 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Job Rustenhoven,

    synthetic cannabinomimetics (I’m training myself to use that term, because these chemicals aren’t actually cannabinoids)

    Actually most of them are – cannabinoids are simply drugs that bind to your cannabinoid receptors, they don't have to be structurally related to THC. In the same way methadone is a jolly good opioid but not an opiate.

    The endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids that your own body produces don't resemble THC at all, and clearly the same is true of many synthetic cannabinoids.

    Most of these legal high drugs appear to mimic the effects of cannabis by binding to a cannabinoid receptor called CB1. So they are they are synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists with cannabimimetic activity.

    However, you’re not completely wrong to make a distinction between cannabinoids and cannabimimetics. Some cannabimimetic drugs don’t work by binding to CB1 and so can’t be called cannabinoids.

    One called URB-754 apparently produces cannabimimetic activity by inhibiting the work of an enzyme that deactivates your body’s own endocannabinoids.
    http://www.fsijournal.org/article/S0379-0738(12)00434-3/abstract

    The term cannabimimetic seems more useful for law enforcement, as a catch-all phrase that saves legislating for every class of compounds.

    Still, to me it actually sounds more sciency and leads to the impression that we have some deep understanding of their pharmacology.

    It would seem that's often not the case, at least not until long after the drugs hit the market.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think it’s a logical contortion to rule out all the things Ross listed as being only hypothetical goods.

    The lion's share of what's good about them is hypothetical at this point. I don't accept that any of those things are even worth having at all, if they lead to no actual good that I can appreciate. Like actually bringing harm down. If they can't do that, they're a complete waste of time and money, and might even be worse, blocking more useful approaches by appearing to do something that they're not.

    There’s a caveat in that the study only interviews people who already have access to illegal drugs, but it’s a pretty clear trend.

    Correlation is not causation. My own anecdotal evidence is that people who used synthetic pot stopped doing so because it actually sucked. They made the sad but honest evaluation that risking getting busted for cannabis was a lesser evil than how that other stuff made them feel. I tried it myself a few times, and it ranged from average to horrible. Considering that the number of adults who might have made this rational evaluation absolutely crushes the number of new-entrant kids into the market, a correlation could easily be explained by "people got sick of it". Even if kids are actually using it more.

    Which is what most of that article you're linking to goes on to say.

    It showed that in 2012, even before tougher regulations were passed, synthetic products such as Kronic and K2 were far less popular than a year before.

    and

    Lead researcher Chris Wilkins, of Massey University, said synthetic cannabis's popularity may have fallen amid growing awareness of the negative effects, such as vomiting and seizure.

    "I think initially people were curious but they misunderstood what synthetic cannabis is and underestimated the health risks."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    What is Palcohol ?, could we be next?
    A powdered substance, legal high. Of course!

    Science

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Shulgin,

    Still, to me it actually sounds more sciency and leads to the impression that we have some deep understanding of their pharmacology.

    Word up.

    What would a rational consumer do?

    Buy dope, and smoke it if they're normal, vaporize it if they have a sensitive throat, or like doing it in the toilets at work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    This stuff is a obvious logical conclusion to the Substances Act. Who needs the other stuff when this is better? For the Industry as well. If we get them hooked make it cheap alcohol , then the Brewery Cartel will increase its market for the real stuff when the kids grow up. Mark my words ;)
    How timely RB

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    If pot was legalised, half the Police force would be unemployed.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    At 60% alcohol (another patent suggested only 11%), you'd need 18g for a standard drink, so over 100g to get reasonably pissed. That's quite a lot of white powder to smuggle into a game or bar.

    And as the best CiF comment in a while suggests, if they don't get the adsorbent to break down into something soluble it's going to be like drinking booze flavoured spunk.

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

  • Rich of Observationz,

    What's needed is heavy ethanol C2D5OH (or, even better, super-heavy ethanol with C14 and O18, which would be 25% denser than regular ethanol). Though the radioactivity from the C14 might make for worse hangovers [ actually, I'd skip the C14, you'd die. ]

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

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