She routinely have patients motivated to quit, who make big progress during treatment, who manage to turn their life around, they've broken contact with the "drug community", they might even have gotten to a point where they can hold a job, and have gotten a job, some might have started a family, they're essentially on the home run.
Then BAM!, out of the blue, the glacially slow moving judicial system calls them to court, and charge them for their past transgressions from ~2 years ago. If they're really unlucky they got caught with 2-3 days (of personal use) worth of drugs - enough to qualify them as a dealer and several years in jail.
Nothing ruins a successful treatment and break from your past like getting knocked into jail with your old pals for a few years. It happens again and again and again, it's GIANT waste of resources.
It took two years three months to sort it out in the courts. Fortunately I got referred to a barrister who managed to get the charges dropped. I got all my cash back from the police, that was a pleasant experience.
Point being, in those two years and three months I cleaned myself up, got a job and was ready to buy a house, but still had the charges hanging over me. My god, what a stress.
Drug policy reform is extremely difficult to carry out well, mostly due to the social impact it has on both the populace and governing bodies - adjustment doesn't happen immediately and are likely to be bumps in the road. From the sound of the article, it sounds like Norway is headed in the right direction, though it may take everyone a bit to get on the right path. Still, this is already happening elsewhere in the world, and I think it will continue to happen more as time goes on.
I don't know many details of Norway's drug policies (nor Portugal's, for that matter), but it makes sense that decriminalization + treatment, when implemented well, will generally far exceed incarceration when it comes to overall effectiveness and impact on reducing drug abuse, crime, and deaths.
I hear people are pretty happy in Norway (compared to the states, at least), but police harassment is never any fun - I hope things improve there.
Don't be fooled, the lack of progress is almost exclusively a product of vested interest in enforcement and this vague intellectual question of "how?"
We generally have very few special interests groups, however the narcotics police have formed their own political group that constantly writes for news papers, joins debates and speaks to the politicians, and their agenda is similar to the reefer madness stuff from the US every time someone remotely threatens their jobs (via deregulation / legalisation).
This _is_ a step in the right direction though.
On the other side we have growing wealth gaps and people drinking and combining it with whatever pill is the cheapest on the corner. The government has a monopoly for selling alcohol, which is created to protect the people from the harms of alcohol and on the other hand needs to gain profit and sell more of the product.
Drugs might become a problem for a person, but how the society reacts to them currently is not really helping anybody.
Yes, there is a lot of moralizing about drugs and alcohol, but it is slowly getting better.
Yes, the head of Helsinki drug police (not a national position) being on trial for such a series of crimes looks ridiculous, but on the other hand, it shows that the system does something when things go bad.
Edit: and looking at the queues waiting to get free food is definitely showing that the amount of poor people in the country is going up.
Food queues turn up if there is free delivery of food. There was certainly much more poverty (I mean poverty of the "difficulty to make end's meet" kind) in times before the current food queues. But there is no longer a social stigma in picking up food from queues, and similarly the last-resort income support is nowadays increasingly treated as a universal basic income, even if the law wasn't intending it so.
The actual problem is that it is increasingly hard to lift oneself up from (relative) poverty through work because the job market eliminates entry-level jobs.
On a diffrent note, Norway has a huge problem with drug-related deaths: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-19/which-european-nati...
Still racial profiling, but maybe not as bad as being stopped for "only" being black.
I think in Finland official taxis say "TAKSI" and have a yellow sign on the roof, so maybe they might suspect any unofficial-looking car with a driver in the front and the sole passenger in the back as being an Uber.
Not really true. However, you do need a taxi license, and many/most Uber drivers didn't have one.
If you're an Uber driver (unlicensed taxi) then things are different. A driver in front (of any colour) and a single adult passenger at the back, starting off from the airport in an Uber-looking car, might get attention.
A licensed Taxi is very unlikely to be stopped by the police in Helsinki, and lots of taxi drivers are black or other immigrant background.
There is something odd in this story, doesn't sound at all typical.
A handful of states stopped putting minorities into prison for marijuana. It's hard to argue that any of the states have applied a reasonable standard of justice for anyone convicted of these crimes prior to the laws changing.
I live in a legal state, and I honestly can't imagine living someplace that still prohibits marijuana use by adults... I use edible marijuana pretty frequently while cooking and reading. As far as I can tell, it's just nice and improves my quality of life, like good food or good sex.
The very idea of criminalization is so asinine that it's hard to wrap my head around.
The map in this article is particularly illuminating: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decriminalization_of_non-medic...
Anecdotally, I’ve found it quite easy to get these cases dismissed. They frequently don’t test the alleged substance because it’s too expensive for the state. So, the judge ends up dismissing the case due to lack of evidence.
Most states are still as bad as or worse than Norway, though. In terms of laws and regulation, US states are more like separate nations in many ways.
Indeed, though less so than before the civil war.
Thus Brexit is an interesting test case for seeing if EU is able to "disassemble" without bloodshed.
When you say "drug dealer", most people think of some gangster type who makes a lot of money by exploiting poor addicts. But that's not the reality.
If you use drugs, and you don't have a job, selling a bit of the stuff is the most obvious way to make some money. So a lot of drug users will become drug dealers as well. I think that these people need help as well; putting them in jail doesn't help anyone.
But it can get even worse. Imagine that you are a drug user, and you need some drugs. So you ask a friend, who is also a drug user, if they have any left, and if you can buy it off of them. Boom, they're a dealer now as well.
So in reality, a large part of drug users are going to be drug dealers as well. If you decriminalise drug use, but keep prison sentences for dealing, a lot will hinge on the question what makes someone a dealer.
If we agree that consuming drugs is fine, then why are we simultaneously trying to put dealers and distributors in jail? What’s the point?
The other aspect not mentioned in the article is that in Portugal dealing in ‘paraphrenalia’ is not an offence. This is important because it allows charities and clinics to provide clean needles, dramatically reducing drug related infections. Aside from these policies greatly reducing drug use overall, it’s this change that is responsible for a magnified effect in reducing the infection and death rates.
To me that's a quick path to where legal systems go to die.
The problem of organised crime has more to do with legal prohibition of a good that enjoys widespread demand, than with that good being a drug. See gambling or prostitution or corruption in construction. I remember some article about 'sand mining mafias' in India. Sand!
Gangsters aren't particularly good at doing business, and will be out-competed by professional outfits when the law allows.
That's interesting - it points to something special about drugs. Most people I know without jobs eat, but they're not inclined to become grocers to make a little on the side. It seems there's some scarcity introduced because dealing is illegal. The unintended consequence of legalization might be the elimination of the casual dealer.
Drugs criminalized, USA:
185 deaths/million people/year
Not criminalized, treatment focused Portugal:
6 deaths/million people/year
This is a much more complicated issue than numbers from two countries could possibly tell.
Supply of drugs has also historically been limited according to the following article that goes over drugs in South Korea at length:
The quantities listed in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Singapor... seems higher than what a user would have on them.
But at least they manage to make their prohibition policy actually effective: drugs are hard to get, and not a lot of people are actually behind bars or executed for trading.
(Compare with eg the US which incarcerates a lot of people, but the drug trade goes on regardless.)
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that there are many variables to consider, and a lot of them are less obvious, or less quantifiable.
I think our society would greatly improve from more mercy, and I miss that from growing up in Norway.
It seems many in the USA instead of trying something different when their opinions fail double down, because they believe conviction and force will somehow defeat actual evidence that it is just a terrible idea.
So punishments and pressure on police to take drug related crime extra seriously has for a long time been disproportionate to the impacts them have relative to other crimes.
Christians are the ones most preaching moderation, which might continue to attract some youngsters who see all the ridiculous things going on re alcohol and don't want to be part.
Can be hard to explain sometimes that one does not drink for reasons other than religious or medical - the concept is a bit foreign.
We imprison far too many people in the US for minor drug offences, but it's definitely not in order to reintroduce slavery...
1) Incarcerates people at a higher rate than any country besides Seychelles
2) Abolished slavery for all persons except prisoners:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted..."
Between local, state, and federal prisons, we're looking at roughly 500,000 imprisoned for drug-related offenses. Yes, the labor of these people is a trivial portion of the overall economy, but it still produces huge profit for those running the show: CoreCivic has a market cap of ~$2.6 billion. They exist to extract value from the lives and labors of the people who their institutions keep under lock and key.
There is a direct incentive for these corporations to increase the number of prisoners in the system, and they leverage their power to pursue that incentive, lobbying for and even drafting legislation that enforces three strike and mandatory minimum rules. They are actively pushing governments to imprison more people, and profiting from the resulting state sanctioned slavery.
It's still a hugely profitable business on its own for those involved, so that comparison is kind of beyond the point. Pimps profits also make for "a negligible part of the economy" but their profession is a thing.
>Prisoners do work, sure, but that's to pass the time.
They get to spend time outside prison and interact with people who aren't prisoners or guards. I could imagine volunteering for that if I was a prisoner. That doesn't make using prisoners as cheap labor OK, especially for dangerous jobs, but it doesn't surprise me at all that prisoners would rather do that than sit in a cell.
It's easy to make volunteers out of people if:
1) Their living conditions are so bad in your hellish prisons that that most alternatives seem like heaven.
2) you control their living conditions and can make their life hell if you want to "motivate" them to volunteer.
3) A crappy legal system hands them some of the harshest terms in the world in some of the more BS prisons, and having them volunteer for such work can give them more "points" towards getting our earlier.
What I'm getting at is, volunteering for an inmate is not necessarily the same thing as volunteering is for a free man -- or even the same thing as a prisoner in a place without medieval prison conditions and vindictive attitude towards prisoners volunteering.
Whether that is good, bad or indifferent is a whole different matter, but I think it is safe to say that it is a thing.
AFAIK, Slaves would be categorized as capital expense, which is different than labor and would use a different measure for economic output.
When slavery was a thing It was not negligible. It made up a good portion of the southern economy.
I doubt 1 in a million products are made by prisoners.
There are a lot of young dems and republicans that are at also against the current war on drugs - mainly as it pertains to marijuana, but still .
Glad to see Norway making headway in the right direction here. Hopefully my countries (Germany and USA) can follow suite at some point, rather sooner than later.
Finally, when will the USA and other countries start using metrics, data, experiment, and testing to drive policy instead of following public opinion or philosophical / moral stances that are based on nothing and which are continuously being invalidated or minimally given ample evidence for optimization by any data allowed to accumulate?
Reason 2: opiates poured into the population via healthcare system for some reason (because pain bad, lobbying good)
Reason 3: People who are drug addicts have universal healthcare, whereas I'm guessing a lot of drug addicts are lacking good insurance in the US. Not the people who have taken overdoses are rejected from the emergency room in the US - but preventive care, free treatment for addiction, regular health checkups etc. are probably less common among addicts where they don't have universal healthcare.
And among the worst offenders are the liberal states of Sweden, Norway, Denmark etc..
So - having extreme anti-drug laws combined with nationalist/patriotic crazy authoritarian government is the policy to go with?
I'm kidding .. but you see that it's hard to look at that chart and make out more than Apples to Oranges.
It's also worth pondering how Eastern Europe has a tiny fraction of the problem that West seems to have, except for Estonia, which seems of the charts. It really is a tricky graph.
E.g. death due to X tends to depend greatly on what the policy is on autopsies and other checks, and whether or not there's any pressure on coroners to speculate about cause of death vs. just pronounce a generic reason.
In Norway for example, an autopsy only happens rarely unless there is a reason to expect foul play, mostly because it's seen as expensive and unnecessary. As a result, a lot of "natural causes" or "heart failure" can obscure more specific causes that will only be recorded if accompanied by e.g. police observations.
Then, even if you do tests, there's the question of how you record deaths where there are multiple possible causes. E.g. you might have heart failure possibly due to a combination of alcohol and other drugs. Depending on your reporting system you might put it down in any number of different ways.
Then on top of this, you have to consider what make people use, not just what potentially make people not use. It could be the differences in legal system, or just that other societal differences makes fewer people predisposed to want to use in the first place.
All of this basically makes it impossible to compare country to country and conclude that changes in a single area such as law enforcement makes a difference.
The reason we look to Portugal is not primarily because it looks good compared to other countries, but because it performs well compared to itself prior to decriminalisation, and because it was a recent change.
Really? That's interesting. In neighbouring Finland, an autopsy is standard practice whenever the medical cause(s) of death is not completely clear.
Anyway, it's a relevant point that you make about death being caused by multiple factors, and crediting the causes in statistics is a game that can be played.
Found that out when my dad died in 2000, and we asked for one - we didn't expect foul play but he'd struggled with alcohol problems in the past and for closure we wanted to understand if he'd gotten back into drinking and that might have been why he died (he had heart problems and were on drugs that would have made combining them with alcohol a likely cause).
The coroners office made it very clear that that since it was clear he died from his heart stopping and there was no immediate reasons to suspect that there were any external factors that'd make a difference to the primary reason of death and no suspicion of foul play, an autopsy was out of the question unless we were prepared to cover the full costs (which were fairly steep).
That he may or may not have taken his heart medicine or may or may not have combined it with alcohol was to them irrelevant as long as it didn't change the main cause and they had no reason to see the distinction as relevant.
If there was doubt about the major cause, such as e.g. if he'd had a head wound or something else that might have indicated another cause, it might have been different.
This might very well also vary from coroners office to coroners office in some countries depending on capacity. This was in Oslo, so would have been one of the busiest areas.
I hear that word used a lot over here in the UK, usually by people on right of the political spectrum, but the word sounds rather pejorative to me. I presume the people using it mean "users of drugs, excluding alcohol" in order to differentiate themselves from the users of the other drugs.
And, I think this is confused labeling. Substance abuse alone does not make anyone a danger to you.
So, substance abuse:
a) person goes to a daily job, drinks a bottle of wine in the evening, does some coke, goes to sleep. repeats ad infinitum.
b) person has a really bad addiction, needs money, so he robs you
I presume your talk about fear and judgement was more about scenario b rather than a, but both are about a person with substance abuse problems. The thing we don't actually like in b) is the stealing, not the substance abuse per se.
If we did that, it would be rational, and an improvement. The unfortunate truth is that we tend to judge people for being outsiders, so while alcohol causes much more harm to others than heroin or crack cocaine (citation below), “we drink alcohol so it must be fine”.
Same with terrorists: if the killer is one of “us” they are “a troubled lone wolf”, if the killer is one of “them” then “that just goes to show how nasty they all are”.
Same with child abusers: “stranger danger” is what people worry about, but most documented abuses are committed by close relatives.
(Relative harm: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_harmfulness#/media/File...)
Why this need to judge?
It is particularly odd given a country where such a high proportion claim to be Christian, and perhaps ought to follow the instruction to leave it to their God to judge people.
More people using drugs isn't automatically undesirable, as more people abusing drugs is.
Too often drug use is equated with drug abuse, but it need not be so. It's possible to use drugs and not have them affect your life negatively, or even have them affect your life positively (as in the case of the various psychedelic therapies out there to tread everything from PTSD to depression, using psychedelics to enhance one's creativity or for problem solving, or arguably psychedelic use in sacramental/religious contexts).
Another thing to consider when looking at raw statistics that might show an increase in drug use is that people are more likely to honestly report their drug use if they think they won't be punished for it, and conversely are more likely to lie about it if they thought they might get punished or stigmatized for it. In the case of Portugal, their non-punitive approach increases the odds that people will be more honest about their drug use, so the apparent increase in drug use might be just surveys finally reporting the truth about already-existing drug use. Real drug use there might have stayed the same or even decreased while showing an increase on paper.
Rates of injecting drug use have decreased.
Drug use in adolescants have decreased.
Rates of harm have decreased dramatically.
I question the measurements of harm, which I believe in the Portuguese case is in terms of diseases/hospitalizations/deaths. Everyone knows high-functioning people who have alcohol or drug problems, who will probably not show up in such measurements of harmful use, but who nonetheless suffer personal and family problems due to their habit.
Also, this article, though a little dated, seems to contradict your claim about drug use in the last 12 months.
>While people reporting drug use over the course of their lifetime has gone up, somewhat significantly in the last decade in Portugal, people reporting drug use over the last 12 months of their lives has actually gone up only slightly.
And again, Portugal didn't have much of a drug culture to begin with. Where drug use is a much greater and ubiquitous cultural phenomenon, like in the US, it is very plausible that decriminalization would lead to significantly increased use.
There's not much point continuing the conversation if you're going to cite 6 year old radio interviews between journalists who don't bother to cite their sources.
With any luck, the next goal will be legalisation and most drugs being sold by either pharmacies or the state-run stores (Vinmonopolet) which already have a monopoly on selling alcohol at over 4.75% by volume.
Replacing the dirty drugs addicts currently consume with pharmaceutical-quality stuff will work wonders for our drug-related deaths statistics - not to mention the improvement in quality of life for those affected and the hit the current criminal suppliers will take.
If they just need a counter, I'm guessing Vinmonopolet will do just fine even though their stores tend to be small with well-used space. If they allow for coffee shops/bars, it might be split much like alcohol: Weaker or set strength pre-rolled joints available at grocery stores much like cigarettes and beer and unrolled pot/hash at the liquor stores.
Being politicians they do not follow this at all times, but they are quite far from your typical right wing party elsewhere.
In this case, I hope they follow Venstres lead in this matter and just legalises it. Venstre (Left) is not really a left wing party either, they just entered the government with Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet (Progress party), the party most to the right of the ones in parliament.
This proposition is also supported by SV (Sosialist Left Party), one of the most left wing parties in the parliament but not by the workers party (AP) nor the christians or the farmers.
Knowing Nordic history with alcohol, I'd say they're on the right path to treat their addicts and keep drugs at bay.
If you want a healthy society, help society get healthy.
Consider: I hold university degrees in two STEM fields and earn a decent salary in the private sector. My wife is currently finishing up her education and is receiving a very basic student loan/scholarship. We have two young children to support.
However, my friend and his girlfriend, who were out of work this year, were receiving more in government welfare put together than I was getting paid after tax, and they don't even have children. It frustrates me that the government is taking my hard earned and much needed money and giving it to my lazy friend, who uses it to gamble and buy useless luxury goods. And I know several other examples of people in my age group who complain to their doctor about being "depressed", so they can start living on welfare. In my eyes, these people are undeserving, and a symptom of a broken system.
I think we are at a good middle spot. There are some problems in both end of the society spectrum but as far as I know deaths by overdose are not as large as they used to be.
There are also some other points where I think the law/jurisprudence can be improved (e.g. harm reduction supplies such as accurate scales can be considered as evidence of trafficking), but still, overall the law doesn't impose excessive penalties on drug users, and of course is better than most other countries in the world.
For breaking what law? There are good reasons we make it tough to arrest politicians for their political decisions.
Certain things - MDMA, LSD, GHB - should be legal and regulated. They are all things that have the potential to make lives of many people significantly better. They certainly made mine better.
Drugs should be manufactured in a reliable way, researched, and educated about.
Two millilitres too much of GBL and you pass out, a bit more with GHB. Of course if you can keep it in control, you can have lots of fun. But I wouldn't list it with MDMA and LSD, which are tremendously more safe than GHB.
I'm going to assume they'll have measured doses with the precision of a prescription drug. It'll probably be cut with some food-grade and safe substance to make it easier to measure as an alternative. If dosage is dependent on body mass, the store employee measures this before dispensing your dose. There is a strict limit on the number of doses a person can safely buy.
We've seen this in the Berlin gay community. People don't know how to dose GBL, almost nobody knows how to cook GHB. It's common to have an ambulance coming to the clubs every weekend to pick up another overdose.
GHB feels like a better alcohol when done right, but it is notoriously hard to dose right. You might not feel anything after 45 minutes of the first dose, drink more and pass out.
Then again, if it proves to be too dangerous in legal setting, perhaps we could work on researching a safer alternative with similar effects.
There’s so much misinformation around this topic, I really have no idea whether cocaine is actually a drug that can be used to benefit, Aleister Crowley certainly claimed so, or meth, or who knows.
On the crowley note: My time spent in occult circles tells me something similar. Some folks benefit, some folks don't and it has just as much to do with their particular slant on Thelema or other path as it does with their personality and reaction. Though I will say LSD, shrooms, DMT, pot, tobacco and alcohol seem to be the more common "helpers".
Now you could argue that it may also make someone else's life better, but we can't yet make any official research on the topic due to the legal framework against drugs.
On the misinformation clause - I can't say there's much misinformation on the dosages and expected effects on the hard reduction websites. They do their job well.
The kind of stuff that deserves to be regulated, is the stuff that has known health issues (including strong physical addiction, as e.g. opiates do).
94. DE VIRTUTE EXPERIMENTIAE IN HOC ARTE.
(On the Virtue of Experience in this Art)
Not Sleep, not Rest, not Contentment are of the Will of the Hero, but these Things he hateth,
and consenteth to enjoy them only with Same of his weak Nature. But he will analyse himself
without Pity, and he will do all Things soever that may free and fortify his Mind and Will. Know
that the Technick of the Right Use of this Magick with Poisons is subtle; and since the Nature of
every Man differeth from that of his Fellow, there entereth Idiosyncrasy, and thine Experience
shall be thy Master in this Art. Heed also this Word following: The Right Use of these Agents is
to gain a Knowledge preliminary of thine own Powers, and of High States, so that thou goest not
altogether blindly and without Aim in thy Quest, ignorant of the Ways of thine own inner Being.
Also, thou must work always for a definite End, never for Pleasure or for Relaxation, except thy
wilt, as a good Knight is sworn to do. And thou being Hero and Magician art in Peril of abusing
the fiery Agents only, not those of Earth, Air or Water; because these do really work with thee in
Purity, making thee wholly what thou wouldst be, an Engine indefatigable, a Mind clear, calm,
and concentrated, and a Heart fierce aglow.
(I live in Norway, and follow the drug policy closely.)
>“The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision: those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment.”
In relative terms, this is progress. The question is, how will they treat the "ill" with their cannabis "substance abuse problems"? One can only marvel at all the overdose deaths they'll be racing to prevent.
Using them is decriminalised, which among other things enables medical professionals to help drug users without risking prosecution for aiding and abetting, and helps break the cycle of prison and criminal records that trap drug users in their behaviour pattern.
> "The short story is this: Henrik got his apartment raided by
police do to a confiscation of LSD in a mail order that they
were able to link to him.
The police originally wanted a 5 month prison sentence, but
through three court instances we managed to present enough
evidence to convince the court to reduce precedence for
LSD-related cases quite substantially. The Supreme Court
decided on 45 days of community service."
When a person is found in possession of a small amount of drugs, the drugs are confiscated and the person is interviewed by a psychiatrist, a social worker and a lawyer. Following this, a number of sanctions can be put in place such as a ban on visiting certain places, a foreign travel ban and a small fine, in line with the country’s minimum wage.
Regulated legalization gets rid of the criminals.
When we medicalize drug use, the guidelines disappear. People who are involuntarily committed to mental institutions arent prescribed dates for release, they can remain institutionalized for life. If we go down the path of medicalization, we might see some drug users forced into rehab, and then into the equivalent of parole where they return to society but are administered mandatory drug tests periodically. And then back into rehab, cycling forever.
I don't want to be too alarmist. Portugal's been doing this for a while, and I haven't heard of anything like this happening. But drugs like heroin and cannabis were illegal in the United States for decades before the war on drugs started. All it takes to get from current Portugal to my hypothetical scenario is for the political stars to align and suddenly we're calling for a revamp of the drug rehabilitation institutions to have a lower relapse rate, and now we're on the road to life sentences for heroin users. And it's harder to convince people that it's wrong because now we're helping them, not punishing.
If we get rid of drug crimes our only hope is to ramp up the terrorism fears.
Just subsidize the cost of drugs for those that can't afford them, and problem solved.
A fraction of Trump's tax cut should do the job.
We can greatly reduce drug-induced petty crime by legalising (most) drugs - some will call that a surrender; I won't.
We war on:
"warred on" should have the same general meaning as "shat on their own desk"
End the war on drugs. Stop tearing families apart for non violent offenders and victimless crimes.
Dissolve the DEA. Return the money to the tax payers. Lower taxes.
Stop the savagery. Portugal and now Norway. Hopefully the sane nations continue to grow.
I don't have to have anything physical or digital to control coins on the blockchain I just need to have a way of accessing my private/public keys.
One example would be a brain wallet, nothing but a phrase in my memory.
so this is a good move from the parliament to preserve compatibility of offenders with enlightened society