Ars Technica reports on research into separating the pain-relieving power of tetrahydrocannabinol from its more commonly-appreciated psychoactive properties. You know, because “improving” natural drugs has always worked out so well for us in the past.
I suppose it’s the hallmark of a congenital cynic to suspect that research like this is focussed on finding new things to patent and peddle as safer (and more lucrative) alternatives to something that pretty much anyone can grow for themselves, rather than any genuine concern that folk getting a little baked from their pain relief might suffer ill effects…
Did you know that alcohol prohibition ended in the United States seventy-five years ago this month? Me neither; following on neatly from the Swiss legal heroin program story comes news of a US organisation called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, whose name should tell you exactly what they’re advocating: legalised regulation of all drugs. Here’s their pitch:
After nearly four decades of fueling the U.S. policy of a war on drugs with over a trillion tax dollars and 37 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses, our confined population has quadrupled making building prisons the fastest growing industry in the United States. More than 2.2 million of our citizens are currently incarcerated and every year we arrest an additional 1.9 million more guaranteeing those prisons will be bursting at their seams. Every year we choose to continue this war will cost U.S. taxpayers another 69 billion dollars. Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and far easier to get than they were 35 years ago at the beginning of the war on drugs.
They’ve got a lot of facts and figures there, that’s for sure… and they’ve also just released a report that claims ending the war on drugs will boost the US economy by at least $76 billion a year, in addition to putting criminal cartels out of business.
LEAP are far from the first to make similar claims, of course, but their point about the economic effects is well timed and calculated to appeal to the status quo. Whether it will have any effect of the entrenched ideas of policy makers remains to be seen… over here in the UK, our government is trying to reclassify cannabis on the same level as methamphetamine, so I’m not exactly hopeful for a spontaneous outbreak of common sense in the halls of power. [image by aforero]
Sounds a bit topsy-turvy, doesn’t it? But it’s quite true – in a national vote last weekend the Swiss decided to make a controversial legal heroin program a permanent part of the country’s healthcare infrastructure, but rejected decriminalising cannabis. [image by Todd Huffman]
It’s a mixed blessing, I suppose. Hell knows the ‘war on drugs’ in the UK and the US has done absolutely nothing to eradicate the problem, and I guess if people are going to take smack then I’d rather they weren’t burgling my stuff to pay for it (as has happened). But it seems odd that people who can see the pragmatism in that idea seemingly can’t see the logic behind abandoning attempts to control the cultivation and consumption of a slightly psychoactive plant.
What say you, readers – should it be “no victim, no crime”, or should the law do its best to protect people from their own potentially self-harming choices?
Research suggests drugs similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may help reduce memory impairment due to Alzheimer’s, from Physorg:
The research suggests that the development of a legal drug that contains certain properties similar to those in marijuana and hemp might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Though the exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, chronic inflammation in the brain is believed to contribute to memory impairment.
Any new drug’s properties would resemble those of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, but would not share its high-producing effects. THC joins nicotine, alcohol and caffeine as agents that, in moderation, have shown some protection against inflammation in the brain that might translate to better memory late in life.
This following news THC could also be used as an antibiotic, and that cannabis is believed to be less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.
[from Physorg][image from Wikipedia]
Prohibiting the use of heroin and crack is stupid. Prohibition of cannabis is stupid and hypocritical, as further confirmed by a report (link is to background to the report) from the Beckley Foundation:
“Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,”
The Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, claimed only two deaths worldwide have been attributed to cannabis, while alcohol and tobacco use together kill an estimated 150,000 people in Britain alone.
“Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment,”
Ending prohibition isn’t like ending climate change – it’s a comparatively straightforward way of solving Mexico’s drugs problems, our drugs problems, and generally making the world a better place.
What does this have to do with science fiction? I hope that prohibition will seem like the product of a dystopian science-fiction novel someday, and join slavery and the divine right of kings on the trash-heap of history.
[via Physorg][image from aforero on flickr]