Wired: Alt Text: Cleaning Up the Olympics, Genetic-Engineering Style

www.wired.com/underwire/2012/07/alt-text-olympics-genetic-engineering

An interesting proposal to fix the unfair genetic advantage that some people have over other people in the olympics (or any competition at all). He proposes:

“To begin with, Olympic athletes all start out with a completely unfair advantage over those of us who will never snatch, clean or jerk at a world-class level: genetics. Just like supermodels need to be born with the genetic code for high cheekbones and UNIX sysadmins need to be born with the genetic code for answering perfectly reasonable questions in a snotty tone of voice, an Olympic back-stroker must be born of ancestors who had to escape waterborne predators while keeping an eye out for flying predators.

Why not level the genetic playing field?

Here’s the plan: We use genetic engineering to create a human being who is genetically average in every way, clone him — or her, we can flip a coin — and issue one Average Athlete Baby to each country to raise as they choose. Then, 18 years later, every country brings their Average Athlete Adult to whichever world-class city hasn’t suffered enough, and all the AAAs compete. In every event. They all must run a sprint, and a marathon, and shoot arrows and wrestle each other and do whatever “dressage” is. (I don’t know, but it sounds even kinkier than clone wrestling.)”

One problem with such a proposal: Half the world’s population will have better genes than the olympic athletes! That makes for pretty boring sport, where amateurs are better than professionals.

In general, this will clearly be a problem in the future when we start making actually good drugs and nanobots that boost performance. Then amateurs will become vastly superior to ‘undoped’ (not proven to be doping at least) professional athletes. Since that wont work, publicum wise, then sooner or later they are going to have to change their no-doping policy. It is also kind of strange, as the author notes:

“The whole concept of doping is a weird one. Taking a young girl with athletic promise, severing her from any chance of a normal childhood, shipping her off to another country, training her day and night, then subjecting her to the sort of pressure that would crush a seafloor crab into mucus and shards — that’s normal.

Topping off with a little more testosterone than your genome saw fit to give you — that’s abhorrent.”

Even just multiplying one’s own cells also is cheating. At least, if it is done in vitro.

“However, I’m not going to suggest that we just let people dope all they want, mostly because a couple hundred comedians have already trod that one into the tarmac. Instead, I have a plan to restore the Olympics to what they originally were: a chance for Greeks to run around naked. Wait, no, I’m sure the Greeks can handle that one themselves.”

He isnt? But i am! This is another case of prohibitionism.

Also, with doping free, athletes will become much better, and thus more cool to watch.

Two reports about drug legislation that i read

I have been engaged in drug reform policy for some time. This means following whatever latest science is published, or at least trying to. Ofc, since i dont have time to follow the all the relevant journals, what i can do is read the review reports and papers published. I have read two of such recently.

 

www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/

This one is about the effects of The war on drugs on HIV thruout the world. With the conclusion being that it is very bad:

 

Summary is:

The global war on drugs is driving the HIV/AIDS pandemic

among people who use drugs and their sexual partners.

Throughout the world, research has consistently shown

that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug

users away from public health services and into hidden

environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated.

Mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders also

plays a major role in increasing HIV risk. This is a critical

public health issue in many countries, including the United

States, where as many as 25 percent of Americans infected

with HIV may pass through correctional facilities annually,

and where disproportionate incarceration rates are among

the key reasons for markedly higher HIV rates among

African Americans.

Aggressive law enforcement practices targeting drug

users have also been proven to create barriers to HIV

treatment. Despite the evidence that treatment of HIV

infection dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission

by infected individuals, the public health implications of

HIV treatment disruptions resulting from drug law

enforcement tactics have not been appropriately re-

cognized as a major impediment to efforts to control

the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The war on drugs has also led to a policy distortion

whereby evidence-based addiction treatment and public

health measures have been downplayed or ignored. While

this is a common problem internationally, a number of

specific countries, including the US, Russia and Thailand,

ignore scientific evidence and World Health Organization

recommendations and resist the implementation of

evidence-based HIV prevention programs – with devastat-

ing consequences. In Russia, for example, approximately

one in one hundred adults is now infected with HIV.

In contrast, countries that have adopted evidence-based

addiction treatment and public health measures have seen

their HIV epidemics among people who use drugs – as well

as rates of injecting drug use – dramatically decline. Clear

consensus guidelines exist for achieving this success, but

HIV prevention tools have been under-utilized while harmful

drug war policies have been slow to change.

This may be a result of the mistaken assumption that drug

seizures, arrests, criminal convictions and other commonly

reported indices of drug law enforcement “success” have

been effective overall in reducing illegal drug availability.

However, data from the United Nations Office on Drugs

and Crime demonstrate that the worldwide supply of illicit

opiates, such as heroin, has increased by more than

380 percent in recent decades, from 1000 metric tons in

1980 to more than 4800 metric tons in 2010. This increase

coincided with a 79 percent decrease in the price of heroin

in Europe between 1990 and 2009.

Similar evidence of the drug war’s failure to control drug

supply is apparent when US drug surveillance data are

scrutinized. For instance, despite a greater than 600 percent

increase in the US federal anti-drug budget since the early

1980s, the price of heroin in the US has decreased by

approximately 80 percent during this period, and heroin

purity has increased by more than 900 percent. A similar

pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug potency is

seen in US drug surveillance data for other commonly used

drugs, including cocaine and cannabis.

As was the case with the US prohibition of alcohol in

the 1920s, the global prohibition of drugs now fuels

drug market violence around the world. For instance,

it is estimated that more than 50,000 individuals have

been killed since a 2006 military escalation against drug

cartels by Mexican government forces. While supporters

of aggressive drug law enforcement strategies might

assume that this degree of bloodshed would disrupt the

drug market’s ability to produce and distribute illegal drugs,

recent estimates suggest that Mexican heroin production

has increased by more than 340 percent since 2004.

With the HIV epidemic growing in regions and countries

where it is largely driven by injection drug use, and with

recent evidence that infections related to injection drug use

are now increasing in other regions, including sub-Saharan

Africa, the time for leadership is now. Unfortunately,

national and United Nations public health agencies have

been sidelined. While the war on drugs has been fueling

the HIV epidemic in many regions, other law enforcement

bodies and UN agencies have been actively pursuing an

aggressive drug law enforcement agenda at the expense

of public health. Any sober assessment of the impacts

of the war on drugs would conclude that many national

and international organizations tasked with reducing the

drug problem have actually contributed to a worsening of

community health and safety. This must change.

 

www.release.org.uk/publications/drug-decriminalisation-policies-in-practice-across-the-globe

 

This one is about the effect of drug legislation on drug use. Critics of reform often claim that if it was legal to do drugs, or perhaps just not criminal, then people wud take lots of drugs. This is not true the report concludes:

 

The proliferation of decriminalisation policies around the world

demonstrates that decriminalisation is a viable and successful

policy option for many countries. Decriminalisation has not been

the disaster many predicted and continue to predict. As evidenced

in this report, a country’s drug-enforcement policies appear to have

little correlation with levels of drug use and misuse in that country.

Countries with some of the harshest criminalisation systems have

some of the highest prevalence of drug use in the world, and countries

with decriminalisation systems have some of the lowest prevalence,

and vice versa. But this does not end the discussion. More research is

needed; governments and academics must invest more in researching

which policy models are the most effective in reducing drug harms and

achieving just and healthy policy outcomes. More and better data will

bolster the existing research and provide a sound foundation on which

to build and design drug policies of the future.

 

This is pretty similar to what David Nutt argued on his blog: profdavidnutt.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/hypothesising-an-alternative-applying-the-scientific-process-to-drug-policy/

Wiki quotes 01-07-2012

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann#Cognitive_and_mnemonic_abilities

Cognitive and mnemonic abilities

Von Neumann’s ability to instantaneously perform complex operations in his head stunned other mathematicians.[67] Eugene Wigner wrote that, seeing von Neumann’s mind at work, “one had the impression of a perfect instrument whose gears were machined to mesh accurately to a thousandth of an inch.”[68] Paul Halmos states that “von Neumann’s speed was awe-inspiring.”[15] Israel Halperin said: “Keeping up with him was… impossible. The feeling was you were on a tricycle chasing a racing car.”[69] Edward Teller wrote that von Neumann effortlessly outdid anybody he ever met,[70] and said “I never could keep up with him”.[71] Lothar Wolfgang Nordheim described von Neumann as the “fastest mind I ever met”,[67] and Jacob Bronowski wrote “He was the cleverest man I ever knew, without exception. He was a genius.”[72] George Pólya, whose lectures at ETH Zurich von Neumann attended as a student, said “Johnny was the only student I was ever afraid of. If in the course of a lecture I stated an unsolved problem. He’d come to me at the end of the lecture with the complete solution scribbled on a slip of paper.”[73] Halmos recounts a story told by Nicholas Metropolis, concerning the speed of von Neumann’s calculations, when somebody asked von Neumann to solve the famous fly puzzle:

Two bicyclists start twenty miles apart and head toward each other, each going at a steady rate of 10 mph. At the same time a fly that travels at a steady 15 mph starts from the front wheel of the southbound bicycle and flies to the front wheel of the northbound one, then turns around and flies to the front wheel of the southbound one again, and continues in this manner till he is crushed between the two front wheels. Question: what total distance did the fly cover? The slow way to find the answer is to calculate what distance the fly covers on the first, northbound, leg of the trip, then on the second, southbound, leg, then on the third, etc., etc., and, finally, to sum the infinite series so obtained. The quick way is to observe that the bicycles meet exactly one hour after their start, so that the fly had just an hour for his travels; the answer must therefore be 15 miles. When the question was put to von Neumann, he solved it in an instant, and thereby disappointed the questioner: “Oh, you must have heard the trick before!” “What trick?” asked von Neumann, “All I did was sum the infinite series.”[15]

Von Neumann had a photographic memory.[5] Herman Goldstine writes: “One of his remarkable abilities was his power of absolute recall. As far as I could tell, von Neumann was able on once reading a book or article to quote it back verbatim; moreover, he could do it years later without hesitation. He could also translate it at no diminution in speed from its original language into English. On one occasion I tested his ability by asking him to tell me how The Tale of Two Cities started. Whereupon, without any pause, he immediately began to recite the first chapter and continued until asked to stop after about ten or fifteen minutes.”[74]

What the fuck. I hope we saved his genes… We shud make clones of him! That will also be an interesting test of the heritability of genius itself, not just intelligence. Who knows, perhaps geniusness is not very heritable. This seems to be the case. Nevermind that geniuses tend not have children, i’ve never heard of a genius who had genius children. I shud make a list of geniuses with children, and then compare father and son’s achievements.

-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_misconceptions_about_illegal_drugs

Many urban legends and misconceptions about classified drugs have been created and circulated among children and the general public, with varying degrees of veracity. These are commonly repeated by organizations which oppose all classified drug use, often causing the true effects and dangers of drugs to be misunderstood and less scrutinized. The most common subjects of such false beliefs are LSD, cannabis, and MDMA. These misconceptions include misinformation about adulterants or other black market issues, as well as alleged effects of the pure substances.

Long list of myths related to drugs. Interesting reading.

-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin_mushrooms#Spiritual_and_well_being

Spiritual and well being

In 2006, the United States government funded a randomized and double-blinded study by Johns Hopkins University which studied the spiritual effects of psilocybin in particular. That is, they did not use mushrooms specifically (in fact, each individual mushroom piece can vary widely in psilocybin and psilocin content.)[30] The study involved 36 college-educated adults (average age of 46) who had never tried psilocybin nor had a history of drug use, and who had religious or spiritual interests. The participants were closely observed for eight-hour intervals in a laboratory while under the influence of psilocybin.[31]

One-third of the participants reported that the experience was the single most spiritually significant moment of their lives and more than two-thirds reported it was among the top five most spiritually significant experiences. Two months after the study, 79% of the participants reported increased well-being or satisfaction; friends, relatives, and associates confirmed this. They also reported anxiety and depression symptoms to be decreased or completely gone.

Despite highly controlled conditions to minimize adverse effects, 22% of subjects (8 of 36) had notable experiences of fear, some with paranoia. The authors, however, reported that all these instances were “readily managed with reassurance.”[31]

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD#Potential_uses

Potential uses

Bottle of LSD from a Swiss clinical trial of LSD for anxiety in cancer patients, c. 2007.

LSD has been used in psychiatry for its perceived therapeutic value, in the treatment of alcoholism, pain and cluster headache relief, for spiritual purposes, and to enhance creativity. However, government organizations like the United States Drug Enforcement Administration maintain that LSD “produces no aphrodisiac effects, does not increase creativity, has no lasting positive effect in treating alcoholics or criminals, does not produce a ‘model psychosis’, and does not generate immediate personality change.”[22]

Psychotherapy

In the 1950s and 1960s LSD was used in psychiatry to enhance psychotherapy. Some psychiatrists believed LSD was especially useful at helping patients to “unblock” repressed subconscious material through other psychotherapeutic methods,[23] and also for treating alcoholism.[24][25] One study concluded, “The root of the therapeutic value of the LSD experience is its potential for producing self-acceptance and self-surrender,”[26] presumably by forcing the user to face issues and problems in that individual’s psyche.

In December 1968, a survey was made of all 74 UK doctors who had used LSD in humans; 73 replied, 1 had moved overseas and was unavailable. Of the 73 replies, the majority of UK doctors with clinical experience with LSD felt that LSD was effective and had acceptable safety: 41 (56%) continued with clinical use of LSD, 11 (15%) had stopped because of retirement or other extraneous reasons, 9 (12%) had stopped because they found LSD ineffective, and 5 (7%) had stopped because they felt LSD was too dangerous.[27]

End-of-life anxiety

From 2008-2011 there has been ongoing research in Switzerland into using LSD to alleviate anxiety for terminally ill cancer patients coping with their impending deaths. Preliminary results from the study are promising, and no negative effects have been reported.[28][29][30]

Alcoholism

Some studies in the 1950s that used LSD to treat alcoholism professed a 50% success rate,[31][32] five times higher than estimates near 10% for Alcoholics Anonymous.[33] A 1998 review was inconclusive.[34] However, a 2012 meta-analysis of 6 randomized controlled trials found evidence that a single dose of LSD was associated with a decrease in alcohol abuse, lasting for several months.[35]

Pain

LSD was studied in the 1960s by Eric Kast as an analgesic for serious and chronic pain caused by cancer or other major trauma.[36] Even at low (sub-psychedelic) dosages, it was found to be at least as effective as traditional opiates, while being much longer lasting in pain reduction (lasting as long as a week after peak effects had subsided). Kast attributed this effect to a decrease in anxiety; that is to say they were not experiencing less pain, but rather being less distressed by pain. This reported effect is being tested (though not using LSD) in an ongoing (as of 2006) study of the effects of the psychedelic tryptamine psilocybin on anxiety in terminal cancer patients.

Cluster headaches

LSD has been used as a treatment for cluster headaches, an uncommon but extremely painful disorder. Researcher Peter Goadsby describes the headaches as “worse than natural childbirth or even amputation without anesthetic.”[37] Although the phenomenon has not been formally investigated, case reports indicate that LSD and psilocybin can reduce cluster pain and also interrupt the cluster-headache cycle, preventing future headaches from occurring. Currently existing treatments include various ergolines, among other chemicals, so LSD’s efficacy may not be surprising. A dose-response study testing the effectiveness of both LSD and psilocybin was planned at McLean Hospital, although the current status of this project is unclear. A 2006 study by McLean researchers interviewed 53 cluster-headache sufferers who treated themselves with either LSD or psilocybin, finding that a majority of the users of either drug reported beneficial effects.[38] Unlike use of LSD or MDMA in psychotherapy, this research involves non-psychological effects and often sub-psychedelic dosages.[39][40]

Spiritual

LSD is considered an entheogen because it can catalyze intense spiritual experiences, during which users may feel they have come into contact with a greater spiritual or cosmic order. Users claim to experience lucid sensations where they have “out of body” experiences. Some users report insights into the way the mind works, and some experience permanent shifts in their life perspective. LSD also allows users to view their life from an introspective point of view. Some users report using introspection to resolve unresolved or negative feelings towards an individual or incident that occurred in the past. Some users consider LSD a religious sacrament, or a powerful tool for access to the divine. Stanislav Grof has written that religious and mystical experiences observed during LSD sessions appear to be phenomenologically indistinguishable from similar descriptions in the sacred scriptures of the great religions of the world and the secret mystical texts of ancient civilizations.[41]

Creativity

In the 1950s and 1960s, psychiatrists like Oscar Janiger explored the potential effect of LSD on creativity. Experimental studies attempted to measure the effect of LSD on creative activity and aesthetic appreciation.[42][43][44][45] Seventy professional artists were asked to draw two pictures of a Hopi Indian kachina doll, one before ingesting LSD and one after.[46]

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA#Medical_use

Medical use

See also: Effects of MDMA on the human body

There have long been suggestions that MDMA might be useful in psychotherapy, facilitating self-examination with reduced fear.[9][10][11] Indeed, some therapists, including Leo Zeff, Claudio Naranjo, George Greer, Joseph Downing, and Philip Wolfson, used MDMA in their practices until it was made illegal. George Greer synthesized MDMA in the lab of Alexander Shulgin and administered it to about 80 of his clients over the course of the remaining years preceding MDMA’s Schedule I placement in 1985. In a published summary of the effects,[12] the authors reported patients felt improved in various, mild psychiatric disorders and experienced other personal benefits, especially improved intimate communication with their significant others. In a subsequent publication on the treatment method, the authors reported that one patient with severe pain from terminal cancer experienced lasting pain relief and improved quality of life.[13]

Three neurobiological mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of MDMA have been suggested: “1) MDMA increases oxytocin levels, which may strengthen the therapeutic alliance; 2) MDMA increases ventromedial prefrontal activity and decreases amygdala activity, which may improve emotional regulation and decrease avoidance, and 3) MDMA increases norepinephrine (NE) release and circulating cortisol levels, which may facilitate emotional engagement and enhance extinction of learned fear associations.”[14]

The first phase-II double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial into the potential therapeutic benefits of using the drug as an augment to psychotherapy showed that most patients in the trial given psychotherapy treatment along with doses of MDMA experienced statistically significant reductions in the severity of their condition after two months, compared with a control group receiving psychotherapy and a placebo.[15] The authors concludes “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can be administered to posttraumatic stress disorder patients without evidence of harm, and it may be useful in patients refractory to other treatments.”[15]

The possible therapeutic potential of MDMA is being tested in several ongoing studies, some sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Studies in the U.S., Switzerland, and Israel are evaluating the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treating those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety related to cancer.

Small doses of MDMA are used as an entheogen to enhance meditation by some Buddhist Monks.[16]

-

 

Reading material about: evidence-based policy

First read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_policy

Then,

Mad Cows and Ecstasy: Chance and Choice in an Evidence-Based Society by: Adrian F. M. Smith

Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society), Vol. 159, No. 3. (1996), pp. 367-383, doi:10.2307/2983324

Mad cows and ecstacy chance and choice in an evidence-based society

“Most of us with rationalist pretensions presumably aspire to live in a society in which decisions about matters of substance with significant potential social or personal implications are taken on the basis of the best available evidence, rather than on the basis of irrelevant evidence or no evidence at all. Of course, the nature of what constitutes evidence in any particular instance could be a matter for significant debate. But, modulo such debate, most of us have the aspiration to live in a society which is more, rather than less, ‘evidence based’.”

“In particular, there has been the growth of a movement in recent years calling itself ‘evidence-based medicine’, which perhaps has valuable lessons to offer. This movement has its antecedents in the work of people like Archibald Cochrane, who, in the 1970s, were concerned at what they saw as the disappointing level of real effectiveness of medical services, and the mismatch between the resources employed and health status outcomes achieved. Cochrane and others argued that these deficiencies were mainly attributable to the lack of systematic use of scientific method, particularly in evaluating therapeutic interventions through the use of controlled trials.
Part of what the movement is about is described as follows by its leading proponents:

‘Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence-based medicine means integrating individual clinical experience with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research. . . . Without current best evidence, practice risks becoming rapidly out of date, to the detriment of patients’ (Sackett et al., 1996).

From a conventional statistical point of view, what does this amount to? At one level, it manifests itself in the creation of targeted databases of systematic literature reviews of statistical evidence -see, for example, Chalmers and Altman (1995) for a recent overview from a mainly statistical perspective. But this is also accompanied by a commitment to communicating findings in a readily assimilable form to relevant practitioners. One such enterprise, the Cochrane Collaboration, is an international network of individuals and institutions committed to the preparation, maintenance and dissemination of systematic reviews of the effects of health care. The aim is that

‘At the bedside or in the office, physicians should have  instantaneous, up-to-date assistance from an affordable, universally available database of systematic reviews of the best evidence from clinical trials . . . data from the trials would have to be presented in a standardized, graphic, and easily comprehensible form . . . if the only information the physician received was that there was no reliable information . . . that in itself would be extraordinarily useful’ (Bero and Rennie, 1995).

But what is so special about medicine? We are, through the media, as ordinary citizens, confronted daily with controversy and debate across a whole spectrum of public policy issues. But, typically, we have no access to any form of systematic ‘evidence base’ and, therefore, no means of participating in the debate in a mature and informed manner. Obvious topical examples include education -what does work in the classroom? and penal policy what is effective in preventing reoffending? Perhaps there is an opportunity here for the Society together with appropriate allies in other learned societies and the media to launch a campaign, directed at developing analogues of the Cochrane Collaboration, to provide suitable evidence bases in other areas besides medicine, with the aim of achieving a quantal shift in the quantitative maturity of public policy debates”

 

“[the ignoring of rational methods to weigh probabilities (bayes' theorem) in juries] is bad enough, but the legal mentality displayed here has knock-on effects well beyond the confines of the courts. A not insignificant number of Members of Parliament are lawyers. Perhaps as a consequence, the style of debate and enquiry which characterizes much of the working of the UK Parliament and its committees stresses and rewards the mastery of an adversarial style, employed for short-term effect, rather than any long-term commitment to an evidence-based approach. The discussion of our national affairs therefore takes place in an overwhelmingly superficial and silly atmosphere, which runs counter to the more dispassionate forms of evidence gathering and assessment that should characterize a mature democracy. However, there are those e.g. in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology who seek to bring a more scientific and technical focus to bear on parliamentary debates and we should undoubtedly try to do more, as a Society, to aid and abet their efforts”

etc.

It’s a very good read!

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This might also be worth reading:

ESRC UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice: Working Paper 2,

Systematic Reviews: What have they got to offer evidence based policy and practice?
Annette Boaz, Deborah Ashby, and Ken Young – Should I do a systematic review

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www.cochrane.dk/research/index.htm

This link was mentioned in one of the sources. Good thing i checked it out which i only did becus it surprisingly ended in the TLD .dk. However, on the site there are a few papers publicly available. It was a very, very, very good thing i went there becus of curiosity. Otherwise i might have missed the paper: Why we need easy access to all data from all clinical trials and how to accomplish it, Gøtzsche Trials 2011, 12:249
www.trialsjournal.com/content/12/1/249. Why we need easy access, Trials 2011

This is a very important paper for anyone with an interest in medicine, meta-reviews/systematic reviews, science, transparency, corruption etc. to read. I think this paper is so good that i personally wrote the author a thank-you email!

Review of Jeffrey Dhywood’s World War-D

www.amazon.com/against-prohibitionism-roadmap-controlled-re-legalization/dp/0984690409/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332698625&sr=8-1

www.world-war-d.com/

One can support the author by buying ‘the book’ from his site. This applies for the ebook version as well. Alternatively, one can just click here: World war-D Altho i recommend supporting the author in this case.

The book is a decent book on drug prohibition. It has a history (with lots of speculative stuff) of how drug laws came to be, and how the laws have changed over time. It has alot of data about how much the drug war costs the US. Some of the claims are pretty dodgy, especially those that lack sources. It is not an academic book and one shud be skeptical about some of the claims. It is however an easy read. At the end, it has something that much of this kind of material lacks, namely some discussion of how to actually reform the laws. It is still mostly about the US and at an international level. So, someone needs to take a closer look at specific countries’ policies and make concrete recommendations for those countries. I intend to do that for Denmark soon.

A better introduction into why one shud legalize drugs is LEAP.cc’s material, in particular End Prohibition Now! which is also much shorter.

The David Nutt afaer

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Nutt

Kwit in protest and sum koments

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8336635.stm

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8336884.stm

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8353685.stm

Mor bakground

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/4570522/Home-Offices-drugs-adviser-apologises-for-saying-ecstasy-is-no-more-dangerous-than-riding-a-horse.html

“He said: “There is a view – and the Home Secretary takes this view – that you cannot make a comparison and it is misleading because some things are legal and other things are illegal.

“I think there are a significant number of people who agree with me as well that these kinds of comparisons are useful. I certainly didn’t intend to cause offence to the victims of ecstasy or their families. One death is one too many.”

But his earlier comments were criticised by victims’ families. Pauline Sumner, whose daughter Julie died in 2000 in Birmingham after her drink was spiked with half a tab of ecstasy, said: “Maybe Prof Nutt should try losing a daughter to that drug the way I did and perhaps he wouldn’t be so flippant about it in future.“

The stupid. It hurts.

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/29/cannabis-david-nutt-drug-classification

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/29/cannabis-schizophrenia-classification

The ieronikal thing is that the inkreesing strength of the drugs is itself a result of drug policys. The reeson for that is this: the drugs ar ileegal in English, so thae ar prodoosed outsied English and imported. Wen importing ileegal things, it is much beter if the material is as smorl as posibl. Wun wae of doing this is to inkrees the strength of the produkt. This hapens for meny drugs cf. Leap’s End Prohibition Now!.

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/15/david-nutt-drugs-science

The sientifik paepers

Equasy — An overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms

“The current maximum penalties are as follows: Class A drugs: for possession – 7-year imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine; for supply – life imprisonment and/or fine; Class B drugs: for possession – 5-year imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine; for supply – 14-year imprisonment and/or fine; Class C drugs: For possession – 2-year imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine; For supply – 14-year imprisonment and/or fine.”

Thae must be kraezy! Lief sentens for seling MDMA or LSD? Idiots.

The paeper is graet. I wud kwout the gud parts but the problem is that it is oenly a fue pajes long. If i kwoeted the gud stuf, i wud hav to kwoet the entier paeper!

Other paepers

Estimating_drug_harms

Drug harms in the UK a multicriteria decision analysis

Drug liberalization: reading material

Today I have been doing some research on drug policy, specifically, legalization but also decriminalization. I was looking to see if my current views fit the evidence, and it turned out that they did. In fact, I now hold my views even stronger (because I have more evidence to support them).

Instead of writing an essay/blog post arguing the case, it seems to me that it will be easier to just link to the various pieces of text that I read/saw. They, themselves, make the case for me and I need not write material that is unnecessary. I may, however, do a write-up in danish in the future seeing as relatively few of these texts are in danish, and the fact that many people do not want to read lengthy english texts.

The best place to start virtually any research is (english) Wikipedia, and so I did. I was reading up on Portugal (because I watched the film The Mission and it has some historical events in it connected with Portugal) and stumbled upon an article on Wiki about the drug policy of Portugal. I had previously read a bit about it but wanted to know more.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Portugal

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugal_2001_decriminalization_of_drug_use

I clicked around various articles and found a very interesting article about drug liberalization around the world. I had heard that Holland was pretty liberal on that front (which turned out to be wrong, legally speaking and also increasing in both practice and in legislation), but I never heard that Argentina was so liberal. Recently their supreme court ruled that “adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state”. That’s good to hear even if a tad too literalistic for my taste (I support taxes on harmful activities to pay the medical bill for those that end up getting harmed by them).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_liberalization

Then I learned about the Global Commission on Drug Policy who had written a report on drug policies around the world. Here is their executive summary:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed. Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.”

I am not sure how it could be said more clearly; the current policy in the US and similar policies are HOPELESS and TERRIBLE. I strongly recommend reading the whole report, it is not long, 24 pages.

Perhaps after reading some or all of the links I post here, you would want to join or support some organization that lobbies for better drug policies. You can find some here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_reform

I have already donated money to one organization because, among other things, that it has a very nice justification of its policy recommendations (it is the best essay detailing the justification for legalization of drugs that I have read so far) and is very serious in its approach.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_Enforcement_Against_Prohibition

For a shorter article making many of the same points, see a recent article in The Guardian.

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/03/drugs-prohibition-latin-america

And finally, in case you really don’t like reading, there is a documentary on the issue here:

www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/64390

www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/64425/1/

www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/64429/1/