Judge Jim Gray – Judging The Drug War

Food for thought…I have never, ever, in my life indulged in illegal drugs – not even marijuana.


Because as illegal substances, there is no way of knowing if they are adulterated with poison….

But, I do think that ‘drug laws’ are an abomination:  they are an admission that we are the slaves of the State – if the State did not own our bodies, it would not have the jurisdiction to govern what we do or do not choose to put into them.

Now – aside from the ‘recreational’ drugs, there is another, to me, more important implication of drug prohibition and the related legislation:  the only people who can legally ‘prescribe’ medication are people whom the government permits to do so.

And these are people educated in government controlled facilities, largely funded by drug manufacturers.

This is a glaring conflict of interest.

I am not saying that every MD out there is in the pockets of Big Pharma.  Far from it.  But, the education they receive is not well-rounded…and there is no other field that competes against the ideas – or, indeed, complements them.

No, I am not saying that homeopathy and such are credible – just that the only things that get research money for proper scientific examination are in a very, very narrow field.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:  the ‘placebo effect’.

Currently, it is regarded as no more than a nuisance:  patients think they are getting medicine and so get better…even in cases of legitimate disease that is not just a figment of the patient’s imagination.  So, studies control for it in order to evaluate the efficacy of drugs.

But, turn this around:  if there is a way to ‘trick’ the body into healing itself using no harsh chemicals – why are we not studying this in the most rigorous scientific manner possible?  A cure with no side effects is nothing to sneeze at…

That is just one tiny little example.

Another one is from my own experience:  I have some rather rare health issues which most likely stem from having spent the first 13 years of my life 7 km downwind from a chemical plant in a socialist worker’s paradise (where the people who regulate the chemical plants – the government – are the same people who own them – the government – and there is no governing body over them to bring them into compliance with even the pitiful regulation they do have on the books….).  So, some informed friends did some digging in the scientific literature and found a precedent for treatment of conditions like mine.

Awesome, right?


I cannot get that treatment, because it is ‘not common’ and, whole a whole slew of MD’s I brought it to believe it would likely make it possible for me to live again a semi-normal life (no longer bed-ridden and all that pain), they will not prescribe it because ‘it is unusual’ and ‘prescribing it might make the OHIP – the government bureaucracy that oversees the MDs – suspicious enough to audit the MD who prescribed it, which would be too much of a bother….much better not to help me return to being a productive member of our society…

So – when we talk about drug prohibition, do keep in mind that we are not just prohibiting narcotics and halucinogens – we are prohibiting people from accessing legitimate medication needed for the treatment of real-life medical problems!

Because, like it or not, if I were to go out and seek health-restoring medications for myself, I could end up in jail for life on an ‘illegal drug’ conviction.

Not all drugs are ‘recreational’….but they are all equally illegal!

And that does not even scratch the surface of incentivizing police forces to focus on drug busts and the accompanying property forfeiture instead on preventing property and violent crime…




Reason TV: 3 Policies More Racist Than Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy

And there are so many more…

Milton Friedman – Too Many Laws


Penn’s Obama rant


A tiny step in the right direction for Columbia

Perhaps it is not a giant leap, but a tiny – yet important – step for Columbia:

‘The Colombian House of Representatives Wednesday passed the first draft of a bill that seeks to legalize illicit crops.’

‘Representative Hugo Velasquez Jaramillo, who proposed the bill, explained that although the cultivation of plants would be legal under the new legislation, the processing and trafficking of drugs would remain subject to criminal sentencing.’

It would be unreasonable to expect Columbia to go further than this – for now.  The fear of US reaction to even this must be felt…

But, letting the highly destructive US-led prohibitionism dictate the drug policy of many countries has only had disastrous consequences.

Not only is prohibitionism anti-freedom (in a very real sense, it claims greater property right over the citizen’s own body for The State than the citizen’s own claim to self-ownership), it enriches and strengthens organized crime.  In some countries, this undermines governance to such a degree that civil liberties cannot be exercised at all!

Obviously, it is in no-one’s interest (except, of course, the organized crime groups and the ever-more-militarized police forces which grow to combat them) to continue with drug prohibition:  the evidence is there for all to see.  Still, I doubt that most people are willing to look…

But, let’s not spoil the moment:  Columbia has taken a step in the right direction.  Let’s hope more countries follow – and that this is just a small step in a long march towards eventually abolishing all drug laws!


The Real Breaking Bad: How the Drug War Creates Collateral Damage


If the USA declared a ‘War on Drugs’, do ‘international rules of war’ apply?

One of my favourite thinking games is taking words and looking at all the different layers of meanings in them – along with why certain of their meanings form the dominant interpretation at any given time.

Hours of fun – and anyone can play!

For example, I absolutely love the word ‘authority’:  it means quite literally, that we – as a culture – accept that ‘power’ flows exclusively from Thor.  Au Thor-ity.  Coming from Thor.  (This is particularly amusing when coupled with the term ‘divine’ – as in, ‘divine authority’.  If someone claims their god has ‘divine authority’, whether they are aware of it or not, they are literally saying that their god derives all of its power from Thor…which is fascinating when monotheists who deny the very existence of Thor do it.  Yes, it does not take a lot to amuse me…)

One thing I find very annoying are the ‘grand declarations’ of ‘war on …’ – especially ones that do not really have proper meaning.  For example, ‘The War on Terror’ is a nonsense-statement.

‘Terror’ is a feeling – a state of mind.  To wage a war on it would mean trying to make people feel better, perhaps by medicating them into a state of non-fear.  It certainly does not mean waging a physical war, with soldiers and guns.

Declaring war on terrorist organizations would make more sense…

Now, how about ‘The War on Drugs’?

Again, the jingoism of the slogan is non-sensical, at best.  ‘Drugs’ are not something that is capable of fighting back, it is just stuff.  Inanimate objects.   It makes even less sense to claim to wage a war against inanimate objects than it does to wage a war against a state of mind.  It does, however. bring up the image of one ’tilting at windmills’…

Except, of course, that the term ‘War on Drugs’ does not mean a war on drugs as such it means a war on the organizations that handle certain drugs currently prohibited by the government.

Ok – so we have deciphered what the ‘Drugs’ in the statement means:  organizations which are involved in the production and distribution of substances classified as ‘illegal’ by the US government. (Yes, I am intentionally not addressing why these laws are ‘illegal’!)  So, what does the word ‘War’ mean?

This is, by far, the more interesting part of the phrase.

What, indeed, is meant by the word ‘War’?!?!?!?

Typically, ‘wars’ are fought by armies – not police forces.  Yet, the ‘War on Drugs’ is being fought by non-military police officers.  That is curious, to say the least.  (Some would claim it is illegal – but that is a differen discussion.)

It would, of course, explain why the various police forces across the USA are becoming increasingly militarized: sometimes, it seems that cops are more military-like than the military itself!  This would, indeed, be a more-or-less necessary outcome if the police were, indeed, waging ‘a war’… at least, according to my understanding of the ‘conventional’ meaning of the word ‘war’.

So, let us look at whom the ‘war’ is being waged against:  the ‘drug gangs’.  Are these, in any way, shape, or form ‘an army’?

A good case could be made that ‘drug gangs’ are, indeed, ‘armies’.  If my memory serves me right (I have lost all of my bookmarks again, so I am not including links – please, check up on me!), according to international laws, ‘an army’ is defined as an organization must have:

  1. a well defined chain-of-command
  2. defined markings/insignia worn by its members to make them recognizable and differentiate them from civilians

Drug gangs most definitely satisfy this definition.  Their chain-of-command is very well defined.  And, all gang-members do wear specific ‘colours’, or symbols, which identify them clearly and unambiguously as members of that particular gang.  Many gangs go a step further than most conventional armies – they not only wear their gang insignia, they have them tattooed into their very skin, so no disguise is possible!

In other words, the ‘drug gangs’ are more of an ‘army’ (under international law) than ‘terrorist organizations’, which do not wear identifying insignia and pride themselves in hiding among the civilian population.  Honestly, the ‘War on Drugs’ adheres more closely to the definition of ‘war’ under international laws than ‘War on Terror’ does – yet the ‘War on Terror’ has been used, successfully, to justify (internationally) at least two extra-territorial wars that the US got involved in.

So, why is this an issue I bother thinking about?

Well, it does have some very interesting LEGAL implications….

If this is, indeed, a ‘War’ – then the ‘international rules of war’ automatically kick in!!!

It means that each and every person arrested in the USA under the ‘drug laws’ MUST be treated as a prisoner of war – and is not subject to any criminal laws!!!

Yes, please, do think about it!

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that no enterprising lawyer has not thought of this yet…

The US government cannot have their cake and eat it, too. (OK – ‘the cake is a lie’….but that does not take away from my point!)

The US government has openly declared ‘A War’ on all organizations even peripherally involved in the drug trade.  These drug organizations straddle national borders.  This means that the international ‘rules of war’ most definitely kicked in once US made their declaration of war!!!

Under international ‘rules of war’, if you capture ‘a soldier’ from the opposing side, even if that person had indeed brutally killed many, many people, they cannot be tried as ‘murderers’!  Rather, they must be given all the privileges attached to Prisoners Of War!

To re-phrase: because the US government has openly declared ‘War on Drugs’, is it now violating the Geneva Convention every single time it applies criminal law to anyone arrested on any drug-related charges?

Please, think about it!!!

Marijuana-smoking athlete should be stripped of medals

Over the last little while, I have been amused at the discussions generated by an admission from an athlete that he smoked cannabis.

This, in a nutshell, is the situation as I see it:

  1. Michael Phelps, an athlete with 8 Olympic blood medals, is photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
  2. Following the publication of the photo, he admits to cannabis use.
  3. This creates negative publicity:  from dismay over an again-tainted role model (he faced a drunk-driving charge earlier), to the discussion of ‘recreational use of cannabis’, to calls that he be stripped of his medals.
  4. The athlete issues an apology.
  5. Public debate continues – but not only does it not look like the athlete will not be stripped of his medals, it looks like he will be eligible to continue to compete in athletics!


While I have some very strong opinions (sic) about the use of illegal drugs – recreational or otherwise – this is not the post where I would like to explore them. I’ll be glad to oblige later.

The ‘legal status’ of cannabis should not be the main focus of public debate about any athlete admitting to smoking cannabis.  The debate should be about how to treat an athlete who admits to using a performance-enhancing drug, after the competition is over…

After all, cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug!

There are several active chemicals in cannabis which have medicinal effects. One of the two main ones is Beta-Caryophyllene, an anti-inflammatory which may be very useful in fighting immune system diseases.  Yet, I would like to focus here on the other one – cannabidiol, which turns into THC under some conditions and into quinine under others. THC is the ‘active’ ingredient in cannabis, which gives people the ‘high’ associated with its use.

THC, of course, is known to trigger the release of dopamine – the very word from which ‘doping’, as in ‘using performance-enhancing drugs’, comes!

In a very real way, by triggering the release of dopamine, THC affects the endorphins (natural pain-killers) and serotonin levels in the brain, both immediatelly and in the long term.  These two effects, in my never-humble-opinion, classify it as a ‘prformance-enhancing-drug’!

Cannabis creates a temporary high – that is true, and that is why it is illegal in many jurisdictions.  THC blocs pain-perceptions by causing the brain to produce too much dopamine, which numbs one to pain and causes a euphorea.

Even after the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use is gone, not all of this chemical is metabolized.  Some of the THC gets stored in a person’s fatty tissues, where it stays inactive for weeks – perhaps months.  When a person is in a situation of great pressure or stress, their body releases adrenalin (and related hormones).  This ‘under-stress-hormone coctail’ triggers a chemical reaction which causes the stored-up THC to be released into the body.  And, yes, this has the same physical effect on the body as if the person had just toked up!

In other words, cannabis can produce the immediate, ‘short-term’ effect of a ‘dopamine high’ even months after it was used.  It’s called a ‘marijuana flash’.

Also, it has been medically demonstrated that people with low serotonin levels feel pain much more easily and much more acutely.  (This is especially true of people suffering from depression.)  When the serotonin levels are increased, the person’s long-term pain threshold goes up significantly.

Cannabis effectively raises the serotonin levels in that brain.  That is why it has consistently been found effective in treating medical conditions involving dopamine-serotonin balance:  migraines, melancholia, loss of appetite, nausea, pain –  both topical and systemic, insomnia…and is used in treating very serious psychiatric conditions, like dementia and schizophrenia.  This very real, long-term effect is why cannabis has been prized since the times of ancient Egypt!

So, let us consider these effects on an athlete who had, in the past, used cannabis.

The athlete now has an overall higher tolerance to pain than is natural – so he can push himself harder during training than his peers.  This will necessarily result in achieving an artificially high physical condition, one the athlete could not have attained without the use of cannabis.  Even if there were no THC left in his body by the time of the competition, the athlete would still have used performance enhancing drugs to achieve his physical condition, making any competition unfair.

Perhaps even more importantly, if there are still even small amounts of THC in the athlete’s system, the stress of a high-level contest, the ‘competitive juices’ that flood an athlete’s body, will ‘flush them out’.  Now, this athlete has a flood of extra dopamines in his blood stream!

In a very real sense, the athlete’s own body released the ‘stored-up dope’!

Unless I am greatly mistaken, competing while ‘doped up’ is against the rules…

Now, back to Mr. Phelps:

Since he has admitted to cannabis use, he had – knowingly or unknowingly – used drugs to enhance his performance. Therefore, it would be unjust to other athletes if he were allowed to compete again.

The only question remains:  did he use cannabis BEFORE he won 14 Olympic medals?  If the answer is ‘YES’, then he must indeed be stripped of each and every one of them.  Even if unintentionally, he was ‘doping’…

It has nothing to do with ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ drugs.  It has nothing to do with making ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices.  It has everything to do with fair play!

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