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UK police chief: To reduce crime, we must end the war on drugs

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Making drugs legal – but controlling supply – would stop the flow of money to crime gangs and destroy their power.

Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary
The Observer, Saturday 28 September 2013 21.00 BST

As a police officer for nearly 34 years, I have witnessed the worsening problems of drug addiction – whether it's to controlled substances or legal drugs, such as alcohol. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has prevailed throughout my time of service, but it would appear not to have had the impact that optimistic legislators planned.

Throughout those 34 years, I have recognised that it is an indisputable truth that drugs are bad. Occasionally, a retired colleague advocates a change, but mostly politicians, professionals and the media collude in the fiction that we are winning the war on drugs, or if not, that we still have to fight it in the same way.

Their message has been successful in winning support. Indeed, I recently joined a debating society event at the University of Durham, during which I argued for the decriminalisation of Class A drugs. I felt that our team was funnier, as well as better-informed and more erudite than the opposing team, who were advocating maintaining the status quo. Imagine my surprise, my chagrin even, when the students overwhelmingly voted in favour of maintaining outright prohibition.

So, are we really winning the "war on drugs"?

Well, if the war on drugs means stopping every street corner turning into an opium den and discouraging the mass consumption of laudanum – as happened during the 19th century – then it has succeeded. But if the war on drugs means trying to reduce the illicit supply of drugs, then it has comprehensively failed.

B.C. doctors given Health Canada approval to prescribe heroin

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ANDREA WOO
The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER — After years of petitioning by health officials in British Columbia, Health Canada has authorized some B.C. doctors to prescribe heroin for select patients who have failed to respond to conventional opioid addiction treatments. But within moments of the authorization, Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose blasted the department’s decision, saying it flies in the face of the Conservative government’s anti-drug policy, and vowed to ensure it never happens again. Health Canada on Friday authorized doctors to prescribe heroin to around 15 patients, The Globe and Mail has learned. The doctors had applied to Health Canada under its Special Access Programme (SAP), which grants doctors access to non-marketed or otherwise unapproved drugs for patients with “serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or unavailable,” according to a description on Health Canada’s website.

Health Canada on Friday authorized doctors to prescribe heroin to around 15 patients, The Globe and Mail has learned. The doctors had applied to Health Canada under its Special Access Programme (SAP), which grants doctors access to non-marketed or otherwise unapproved drugs for patients with “serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or unavailable,” according to a description on Health Canada’s website.

Let's Get Frank about Drug Use and Prevent Future Music Festival Tragedies

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Drug Policy Alliance

This past weekend, the final day of the three-day electronic dance music festival Electric Zoo held on Randall’s Island in New York City was canceled. The official press release from the city on Sunday, September 1, didn’t give many details, but stated that “the causes of death have not been determined, however, both appear to have involved the drug MDMA (ecstasy, or molly).” It’s a sad, and yet not unfamiliar headline. Especially so for someone like myself, who has been a fan of electronic music and attending events for over ten years now. One can only hope the lessons from this experience can prevent future tragedies.

Electric Zoo is a far cry from the relatively small parties that used to be called “raves.”

CDC Issues Alert On Deadly New Designer Drug, Acetyl Fentanyl

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Forbes

I rarely use sensational headlines but this one deserves the term, “deadly.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued an alert on a peculiar cluster of designer drug overdose deaths that will appear in tomorrow’s August 30th issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

In March and early April this year, Rhode Island public health officials noted an unusually high number of drug overdose deaths, with 21 cases in one month relative to an average of nine. Ten deaths were associated with what was originally thought to be the prescription opioid drug, fentanyl.

Fentanyl is most often used in chronic pain management in the form of transdermal patches (Duragesic), “lollipops” (Actiq) or for intravenous, outpatient anesthesia owning to its short duration of action. As a recreational street drug, fentanyl is often called, “China White.”

However, subsequent detailed analysis by the CDC and Rhode Island public health officials revealed that the drug was a chemical relative called acetyl fentanyl.

Obama administration to allow recreational marijuana laws to stand

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LA Times

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced Thursday a limited pullback on federal enforcement of marijuana, saying it will not interfere with new state laws that permit recreational use of marijuana.

The Justice Department said it will not seek to veto new state laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and it will not bring federal prosecutions against dispensaries or businesses that sell small amounts of marijuana to adults.

A department official stressed, however, that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that U.S. prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce the law against those who sell marijuana to minors and to criminal gangs that are involved in drug trafficking.

LSD and Other Psychedelics Not Linked With Mental Health Problems, Analysis Suggests

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Science Daily

Aug. 19, 2013 — The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person's risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.

Researcher Teri Krebs and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Neuroscience, used data from a US national health survey to see what association there was, if any, between psychedelic drug use and mental health problems.

The authors found no link between the use of psychedelic drugs and a range of mental health problems. Instead they found some significant associations between the use of psychedelic drugs and fewer mental health problems.

Holder plan would ease mandatory stiff sentences for some drug offenders

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Chicago Tribune

The Justice Department plans to change how it prosecutes some non-violent drug offenders, so they would no longer face mandatory minimum prison sentences, in an overhaul of federal prison policy that Attorney General Eric Holder will unveil on Monday.

Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

"I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department's charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences," Holder is expected to say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks provided by the Justice Department.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed

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source: CNN

(CNN) -- Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

UK - Those killed by PMA are victims of the war on drugs

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In Swindon a young man lies in hospital critically ill after taking a green pill stamped with a dollar sign. Last weekend a 15-year-old girl in Oxford died after taking a drug she thought was ecstasy. Just days earlier there was the inquest into a teenage gym instructor so badly injured after suffering spasms during an overdose, police initially thought he had been murdered.

Already this year about 20 people have been killed after taking what they thought was ecstasy, with seven deaths in Scotland over the past two months alone. These fatalities exceed recent annual tallies of ecstasy-related deaths – for all the scaremongering, ecstasy is a comparatively harmless drug, less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Sadly, in many cases the pill popped turns out to be the far stronger PMA, which takes longer to kick in, so users may take another, with catastrophic results.

These unfortunate youngsters seeking the thrill of intoxication are victims of prohibition. They are dead because our nation continues to wage a war on drugs launched four decades ago by a crooked US president; a war that drives users underground and prevents regulation of products ingested by millions each weekend. If it was contaminated olive oil killing the nation's kids, there would be an outcry; instead, those victims are "druggies", blamed for their own deaths.

How Addiction Treatment Killed Cory Monteith

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Source: The Fix

From his first rehab in his early teens to the intervention staged by Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy in March, the star was failed in every possible way by an abstinence-only recovery culture.

By Maia Szalavitz

Glee star Cory Monteith's tragic death on July 13 was preventable. Now that more details have emerged about what led up to his fatal alcohol and heroin OD, that conclusion is inescapable. As an adolescent, he was sent to many potentially traumatizing “troubled teen” schools—and as an adult, he received addiction treatment that did not follow government guidelines for effective care and did not provide potentially lifesaving harm reduction information.

Meanwhile, the media is doing its usual best to obscure the problem and keep stereotypes about addiction alive. Portraying Monteith as the “new face of” and pretending as though the drug hasn’t long been used by both celebrities and the middle class, the networks and online media are recycling the idea that heroin is just starting to escape the ghetto and affect people who don’t look like an addict “should.” That’s not news.

But what is important—and is not getting enough attention—is the fact that Monteith has just joined fellow heroin addict Kurt Cobain as yet another famous and beloved victim of tough love and, as Anne Fletcher wrote in The Fix on Monday, anti-maintenance stigma.

Cannabis springs up all over German town after campaigners plant thousands of seeds

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Daily Mail

Cannabis plants are sprouting up all over a German town after pro-marijuana supporters planted tens of thousands of seeds last month.

Supporters of the group A Few Autonomous Flower Children spread several kilograms of seeds around the university town of Gottingen last month.

They say they are protesting its 'demonisation' in Germany's 'restrictive drug laws'.

Scores of the plants have sprouted all over the town this week to the fury of the local police and council.

Ignoring drug advisors, the UK will ban khat

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BBC News

The herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the government, against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, saying there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems.

But Home Secretary Theresa May has decided to ban it, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated.

Khat will be treated as a class C drug, like anabolic steroids and ketamine.

The Home Office said the ban was intended to "protect vulnerable members of our communities" and would be brought in at the "earliest possible opportunity".

Welcome from Rick Doblin and MAPS

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Dear Bluelight & MAPS community,

As the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), I'm honored and excited to welcome you to the MAPS Forums on Bluelight. MAPS and Bluelight have grown together over the years and have been mutually supportive, with this new partnership signifying a new depth in our work together.

MAPS' work has two main goals, which go hand in hand: discovering ways to use psychedelics and marijuana safely and beneficially, and educating people about how to reduce the harms associated with their use. Open, scientifically-informed conversations about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana pushes back the stigma that has built up around them, and allows us to create new, more just policies and a safer, more open cultural attitude to psychedelics, marijuana, and human consciousness in general.

Do Antidepressants Impair the Ability to Extinguish Fear?

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Science Daily

June 10, 2013 — An interesting new report of animal research published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that common antidepressant medications may impair a form of learning that is important clinically.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs, are a class of antidepressant widely used to treat depression, as well as a range of anxiety disorders, but the effects of these drugs on learning and memory are poorly understood.

In a previous study, Nesha Burghardt, then a graduate student at New York University, and her colleagues demonstrated that long-term SSRI treatment impairs fear conditioning in rats. As a follow-up, they have now tested the effects of antidepressant treatment on extinction learning in rats using auditory fear conditioning, a model of fear learning that involves the amygdala. The amygdala is a region of the brain vitally important for processing memory and emotion.

They found that long-term, but not short-term, SSRI treatment impairs extinction learning, which is the ability to learn that a conditioned stimulus no longer predicts an aversive event.

Introducing Bluelight's Donations Portal!

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Attention Bluelighters!

I want to thank all of you for your patience while we’ve been gearing up for Bluelight's first ever donations campaign. I know I speak for The_Love_Bandit and the Admin team when I say we wanted to create a solution that offered the most to our members.

Long ago, we could have created a simple "click and donate" function, but it was our desire to allow all Bluelight donations to be 501(c)(3) tax deductible. Perhaps not many members will claim their donations on their taxes, but we believe it says something about the caliber of Bluelight as a community.

It is with great enthusiasm and pride that I announce we have reached such an arrangement with our friends at MAPS.org, who have graciously agreed to facilitate Bluelight’s donations under their 501(c)(3) umbrella. On behalf of all of us on Bluelight staff, I am happy to announce the launch of the Bluelight Donations Portal.

The war on drugs is about the disposal of excess Americans; "a holocaust in slow motion" says Wire creator David Simon

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The Wire creator David Simon eviscerates the dystopia creating war on drugs

David Simon surged into the American mainstream with a bleak vision of the devastation wrought by drugs on his home town of Baltimore – The Wire, hailed by many as the greatest television drama of all time. But what keeps him there is his apocalyptic and unrelenting heresy over the failed “war on drugs”, the multibillion-dollar worldwide crusade launched by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

When Simon brought that heresy to London last week – to take part in a debate hosted by the Observer – he was inevitably asked about what reformers celebrate as recent “successes” – votes in Colorado and Washington to legalise marijuana.

“I’m against it,” Simon told his stunned audience at the Royal Institution on Thursday night. “The last thing I want to do is rationalise the easiest, the most benign end of this. The whole concept needs to be changed, the debate reframed.

“I want the thing to fall as one complete edifice. If they manage to let a few white middle-class people off the hook, that’s very dangerous. If they can find a way for white kids in middle-class suburbia to get high without them going to jail,” he continued, “and getting them to think that what they do is a million miles away from black kids taking crack, that is what politicians would do.”

If marijuana were exempted from the war on drugs, he insisted, “it’d be another 10 or 40 years of assigning people of colour to this dystopia.”

Pledge to the Community

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Dear Bluelight & MAPS community,

As the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), I'm honored and excited to welcome you to the MAPS Forums on Bluelight. MAPS and Bluelight have grown together over the years and have been mutually supportive, with this new partnership signifying a new depth in our work together.

MAPS' work has two main goals, which go hand in hand: discovering ways to use psychedelics and marijuana safely and beneficially, and educating people about how to reduce the harms associated with their use. Open, scientifically-informed conversations about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana pushes back the stigma that has built up around them, and allows us to create new, more just policies and a safer, more open cultural attitude to psychedelics, marijuana, and human consciousness in general.

Research Standards

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Science Daily

June 10, 2013 — An interesting new report of animal research published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that common antidepressant medications may impair a form of learning that is important clinically.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly called SSRIs, are a class of antidepressant widely used to treat depression, as well as a range of anxiety disorders, but the effects of these drugs on learning and memory are poorly understood.

In a previous study, Nesha Burghardt, then a graduate student at New York University, and her colleagues demonstrated that long-term SSRI treatment impairs fear conditioning in rats. As a follow-up, they have now tested the effects of antidepressant treatment on extinction learning in rats using auditory fear conditioning, a model of fear learning that involves the amygdala. The amygdala is a region of the brain vitally important for processing memory and emotion.

They found that long-term, but not short-term, SSRI treatment impairs extinction learning, which is the ability to learn that a conditioned stimulus no longer predicts an aversive event.

Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines

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Last year, we asked Bluelighters to help in fund an amazing project from Oliver Hockenhull - the film Neurons to Nirvana. Unfortunately, despite achieving their 'kickstarter' targets, funding fell through. Regardless of this setback, the team at Mangusta Productions have managed to get the film to the release stage! But they still need a small fund to create a marketing and distribution plan, and allow them to spread the truth about psychedelics globally.

Why Do We Treat Heroin Addicts Like They Deserve to Die?

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Alternet, Eric Sterling
April 5, 2013 |

In the 1980s, Hilary Rosen was lobbying for the City of San Francisco's programs of health care for gays and lesbians (and drug users) with HIV and AIDS, she writes in the Washington Post Friday, March 29, 2013. Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) warned her that she should not be lobbying to help "those kind of people," meaning gays and lesbians, she wrote.

I recall a similar situation in those days. I was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee and attending a hearing of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control regarding heroin use. A Member of Congress said encouragingly at one point,"We don't have to worry about heroin anymore. They're all going to die of AIDS."

That chillingly indifferent phrase epitomized the ability of some people to dehumanize the un-favored "others:" gays, lesbians, drug users. In their eyes, if "those people" die, not only is their death not a tragedy, it is a good thing.

This is the powerful belief system that underlies outbreaks of genocide - there are amongst us "others" who endanger us, and we would be better off without them. This belief system is alive today.
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