‘Legal on Monday, go to jail today’

Just as the promoters of the income tax swore in 1913 it would never be more than a few percent — and then only on millionaires — so the “Progressive” congressional pimps of the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act said it was just a truth-in-labeling measure, that the government would NEVER get between doctors and patients, telling them what they could and could not prescribe and use — let alone make them take the cocaine out of Coca-Cola.

But by the time the nation was finally giving up on alcohol Prohibition as pointless, counterproductive, and a huge boon to organized crime (paging Joe Kennedy), all such sheep’s clothing had been discarded. By the 1930s a macabre cadre of racist sheriffs and about-to-be-unemployed Prohibition agents had formed a line to testify before Congress that marijuana, cocaine, and opium — favored drugs of America’s black, Hispanic, and Asian minorities — should be banned outright because they were “the devil’s drugs,” allowing minority males to seduce white women, etc.

Come the 1960s, the stepsons of this same tawdry gang filled America’s newspapers (and, again, the halls of Congress) with terrifying tales of hippie children “stoned on LSD” staring into the sun until they went blind, jumping off of cliffs because “they thought they could fly” and other tall tales curiously lacking in documentation. Bang! went the gavels. Twenty years in prison for small quantities of non-addictive drugs that never killed anyone, restricting with racist rules even the sacred religious rituals of traditional American peyote users.

(A member of the Native American Church is now barred from legally sharing his peyote sacrament with his child, if the child cannot prove to the government’s satisfaction that he is “of at least 50 percent Indian blood.” Meantime, responsible experimentation with the possible therapeutic affects of this and many other non-addictive hallucinogenic drugs is substantially crippled.)

Haven’t we had enough of this crap, by now?

Yes, most drugs and medicines present dangers if used by naive subjects unaware of their dosage, purity, and potential effects, “side” or otherwise.

But government interventions in self-medication — especially for adults — are counterproductive as well as blatantly unconstitutional, not to mention a gross violation of basic human rights.

Even if you’re more of a statist than I am — if you believe some state-sanctioned medical “authority” should calmly study drug effects to place them on some scale of “dangerousness and potential for abuse,” with chocolate being near the “least concern” end of the scale, aspirin a little higher, alcohol about two-thirds of the way towards “extreme caution” (way more likely to cause social damage than tylenol with codeine), and heroin and “crystal meth” up there where the strictest controls should be invoked to block child access … you should STILL be outraged by what happened in Nevada last month.

“For a couple of years now, the hands of local and state law enforcement were tied when it came to the deadly designer drugs known as ‘bath salts,’” reported Reno’s KOLO-TV on Feb. 17. (http://tinyurl.com/7a7b799.)

“While federal law prohibits their manufacture, sale or possession, Nevada had no such law. That was until Wednesday. Last month the state pharmacy board banned four chemicals known to make up ‘bath salts.’ Yesterday the state legislative commission approved that ban,” the breathless newsreaders continued.

“Now something that was legal on Monday here in Nevada, you can be arrested for today.”

“Bath Salts come in innocent enough looking packaging. But contained inside are crystals which can be mixed with alcohol, injected in veins or smoked. The result is a feeling of euphoria. But it will also include heart palpitations, disorientation, and sometimes extreme paranoia and violence,” the TV pharmacology experts went on.

“‘Here locally in Reno we have had a person that burned how a house as a result of that paranoid. I believe in the county they had a domestic violence stabbing, so there have been deaths associated to this nationally. So it’s a problem. Now we have the tools to deal with it,’ says Lt. Scott Dugan with Reno Police.”

Well, alrighty then!

Quick, based on this report: What drug are we talking about? Heck, what FAMILY is it in? An opiate? A stimulant? An hallucinogen?

Since the Nevada Constitution allows the Legislature to meet for only a fixed number of weeks during even-numbered years — barring anyone from enacting any new laws when the Legislature is not in session (which it most certainly is not) — how on earth is it possible that “Now something that was legal on Monday here in Nevada, you can be arrested for today”?

Proponents will doubtless argue the “law” was passed long ago; this is a just a “procedural regulatory step” by a pharmacy board already authorized to add drugs to its various verboten lists. But why, then, was a vote of the “legislative commission” required? Come on.

The Reno-Gazette-Journal reported Jan. 20 that the Nevada Pharmacy Board had “approved an emergency order” outlawing the sale and use of the products “that opponents say can cause heart palpitations, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violence. KLAS-TV reports that Las Vegas police saw 72 cases last year involving the six primary chemicals in the so-called bath salts.”

Las Vegas police last year saw tens of thousands of cases in which consumption of alcohol caused “heart palpitations, disorientation, paranoia and violence” — not to mention scores of fatal traffic accidents. Nobody banned alcohol.

What are the penalties? Years in prison, or a $25 fine? Who decided they’d do more good than harm — since drugs driven underground can actually become EASIER for kids to acquire?

For the record, at least one drug this report APPEARS to be talking about (there are six, remember) is Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties which acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), which would mean its effects are similar to those of Ritalin, but reportedly stronger. It’s been reported as a designer drug since around 2004, sold as MDPK, MTV, Magic, Maddie, Super Coke, and — more recently — Vanilla Sky, Purple Wave, and White Lightning (which, for the record, is actually corn whisky aged without benefit of a charred barrel to impart color.)

MDPV is the 3,4-methylenedioxy ring-substituted analog of the compound pyrovalerone, Wikepedia reports. Developed in the 1960s, it has been used for the treatment of chronic fatigue and as a diet pill, but caused problems of abuse and dependence. Despite its structural similarity, the effects of MDPV bear little resemblance to other methylenedioxyphenylalkylamine derivatives such as 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA), instead producing primarily stimulant effects. In short, it’s more likely to make you aggressive than contemplative.

The Review-Journal reported Feb. 15 “Action by the Legislative Commission, a group of 12 legislators, makes these chemical substance Schedule 1 controlled substances. Possession or sale of them could bring a one- to four-year prison term and $5,000 fine.”

Thanks for a few actual facts.

Even better, the newspaper reported “During a legislative hearing in January, a drug counselor said the illicit drugs can make users scream and go literally out of their minds.”

Wow. “Literally”? Sufis and other Holy Men have long reported an ability of the consciousness to leave the body during meditation. Where were the users seen to go by the drug counselor after their disembodied spirits left their minds? To a dollar matinee? Around the corner for a cold one?

Chemists will continue to develop new drugs — and to find new uses for old ones. A sane society would set up an efficient, transparent mechanism to study and report effects as quickly as possible, while creating incentives for manufacturers to properly label what they’re peddling — the opposite of the current “ban everything and throw-the-book-at-’em” approach, which throws distribution of psychoactive substances to a criminal element with few incentives to guarantee their customers purity, reliable dosage control, or truth in labeling.

Yet instead of thoughtful pharmacological analysis, we still get some cop who doubtless sincerely means to “protect the children,” but who probably couldn’t draw a benzene ring, telling us “Here locally in Reno we have had a person that burned down a house as a result of that paranoid. I believe in the county they had a domestic violence stabbing. … So it’s a problem.”

Based on that kind of “evidence,” more teen-age drug users will be packed into prisons like sardines, subjected to ongoing sexual assaults by hardened criminals for years at a time, for trying a drug related to the very Ritalin with which our schools now dope up their “hyperactive” young charges by the fistful?

Whoopee! War on Drugs Forever and Ever, Amen.

2 Comments to “‘Legal on Monday, go to jail today’”

  1. Rubicon Says:

    The city I live in(Strongsville,Ohio), just banned “bath salts” also. What a joke. How about putting that time/energy into actually educating teens about the dangers of mis-using this product?

    Libertarians “won me over” long ago reguarding the drug issue. I don’t use drugs because I think there unhealthy. However-If Ohioans could buy 31 different typs of marijuana at the local Giant Eagle food store, maybe people would stop using “Frankenstien monster” drugs like bath salts & meth.

    I’m huge on “Gun Rights”. I’ve learned that it’s truely fair to be Huge on “All/everybody elses Rights”.

  2. Lava Says:

    It’s about time you realize that it’s not about rights. It’s restricting trade to the benefit of legislators’ friends, requiring you to purchase only their drugs.

    The law forces Indians to be racists. If you’re white you can come to our church but not receive the sacrament. It also is ludicrous when some of their children will be too white and others ‘red’ enough. The laws of enrollment in the tribe itself require only 1/8 Indian blood, descendent of someone listed on tribal registers, or things along that line.

    Rubicon, if beer were the only drink besides pop, I would rather you give a child beer. The energy drinks we allow children free use of are so bad adults shouldn’t be drinking it. I don’t even know how they CAN.