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Canada legalises recreational cannabis use (bbc.co.uk)
822 points by pmoriarty 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 406 comments

I was born in Buffalo, no longer there due to lack of tech jobs (that isn’t blue cross blue shield). The Canadian side of Niagara Falls already destroys our side. Much more development. Way more activities to do. Gorgeous view of the falls. All around better.

Now that weed is legalized this will only become more and more apparent. They will attract more individuals from both sides of the border and I bet see much more money coming in leading to more development, etc.

New York had missed out on this opportunity for years and by the looks of it will continue to miss out.

Personally, I prefer the American side more. It has a more park like feel to it where you can enjoy the falls while sitting on the lawn, away from car honks and road noise. The Canadian side seems like an urban jungle with the waterfalls take a side step to tall hotel buildings and casinos.

The Canadian side is relatively developed (vs american side) and an economic engine (tourism, jobs, wines). Your parent commenter's point I believe is that the federal/state/local government has failed the local people in investing and developing a local economy in the area. Both sides have essentially the same resources (the falls), but one side is doing better (economically) than the other.

And the point made by (now) parent is that a preference for less resource exploitation and economic development can be a lifestyle decision, not a failure of governance. Not everyone wants to turn their town into a tourist hub.

Thank you. That was what I was trying to say.

The view from the Canadian side, though, is just superior.

Actually, I think it's Erie.


The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is largely a wine tourist/falls tourist trap and St Catherine's and Hamilton are just areas you drive through to get from Toronto to Niagara Falls, how do you see development in these areas being spurred?

I would offer a contrarian perspective on this development: this isn't good for society.

While for sure we don't want people going to prison for smoking a joint - this also isn't necessarily good for society for corporations to promote recreational legal drugs. Was it a good thing for the tobacco and alcohol industries to basically run amuck in their advertising campaigns all over the world? Are we better as we world for it?

Better thoughts than my own are in this TED Talk on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klafHRlhNg4

Which is funny considering you can order weed to be delivered in New York quite easily. You don't even need to go to a dirty back street or an weirdo flat down town anymore. So basically, the only missing link is the tax money.

Funny story: I'm from the Netherlands and was 15 and on vacation in France. All the kids smoked weed, which they got in the harbor. They were surprised I never did it because it was legal in the Netherlands, all I could say was that you had to be 18 to get it so I couldn't get it.

It's not legal, it's tolerated in law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gedogen)

I which it isn’t. I’ve seen a high school friend falling into that gradually: he started speaking about cannabis to the point it became its only topic of conversation. Then of course he hanged only with people with similar interest. He became weird during the breaks and needed to smoke something, anything. After that when I went to the university he became a small dealer. He got enough money from that activity to rent an apartment and buy all the newest gaming consoles. So he didn’t project himself into the future: no studies, no saving. He finally got into debt because of his girlfriend not paying her part of the rent. Sad story because it was not a dumb guy but the addiction makes him made very bad life choices.

On the macro-scale, cannabis and others drugs are a big factor that fuels France suburb separatism and in some case finance terror attacks. Sorhere is a need for a real prohibition or for a legalization to stop this underground economy.

I see the same happening with Alcohol. Should it also be illegal? Or should we not patronize people in general and help those that seek to escape life via any mind altering substances to the point that they interfere with the rest of society?

I understand the sentiment, but in practical, not ideological terms, is prohibition going to help? Multiple examples, from US alcohol Prohibition era, to the War on Drugs raging for over 30 years now, to inner city hellholes like Baltimore or Chicago, and on the reverse, to success examples of decriminalization like Portugal, do we not have enough empirical evidence that prohibition simply doesn't work?

Same story with a friend of mine.

But I see similar patterns with alcohol, food, video games or TV. Even books. People look for something to cope with life, and as long as we, as a society, don't provide a sufficient support for each others, anything that can be abused will be.

Would making it illegal have prevented this?

I'm Canadian and I think legalization is the right choice, but I think there is some dishonesty on both sides, which is doing everyone a disservice.

The anti-cannabis people will say it's a "gateway drug" and that it will destroy your life, while some elements on the the pro-cannabis side would have you believe it's some sort of panacea. The reality is that it can cause intense anxiety and paranoia in some people, and some people do get addicted to it. As with every other drug, you should tread carefully and have some amount of self-awareness when using it.

PS: I hope that mushrooms will be made legal at some point. They show a lot of promise for use as antidepressants.

Absolutely - this is an example case where the legal status of the drug I don't think would have made a difference, the drug clearly had a profound effect on this individual. Cannabis is by no means a safe drug (no drugs are 100% safe), but it does tend to get painted as either black or white by either side. The politicisation of the issue makes it hard to have a rational discussion around drug risks, and harms, especially in relation to each other (e.g. cannabis is much safer than alcohol by most measures, especially when not smoked). Almost all drugs also have benefits too, including alcohol and even heroin - which has therapeutic benefit for the terminally ill in extreme pain, for example.

Sadly we're a very long way away from a truly rational approach to drug use, not least because we've spent the best part of a century making it a moral issue.

(Mushrooms - one of the safest drugs - were legal in the UK, but were made illegal a few years ago - amid moral panic).

The UK drug laws are, generally speaking, an absolute disgrace. I think if you wanted an example of the ways not to go about it then the UK would be a fine place to study (but not live).

The apex was the dismissing of Professor David Nutt (great name for fans of nominative determinism, by the way) for speaking truth to power.

> but were made illegal a few years ago - amid moral panic).

Everyone started to take the piss which didn't help. Big signs up in shops "MAGIC MUSHROOMS FOR SALE". For years they had been available, under the counter with no problems, but when it became blatant, the end was sure to come.

Which just underlines the way that drug classification decisions are made in the UK: not because there was an uptick in harm, but because it became noticeable.

I agree, but I understand the strategy that was being employed by the pro-legalization crowd to a certain extent. Cannabis had been demonized so thoroughly and for so long that you could say "cannabis is a generally safe substance that should be legal but can have some negative effects" would it would be filtered out to the average non-partaking American ear as "cannabis is dangerous and has negative effects!!!!!"

Are mushrooms illegal? I had no idea.

Correlation != causation. Your anecdote could just as well be about surfing (or anything really). I've known people who started surfing and got so into it that they started traveling in a van and talking about surfing all the time, not working or saving money. Should we ban surfboards to prevent this terrible fate?

> On the macro-scale, cannabis and others drugs are a big factor that fuels France suburb separatism

Do you have a citation for that?

It's immensely frustrating when people deny any possible harm that cannabis can cause. We _know_ that cannabis can cause psychotic illness; that cannabis can surface an underlying illness that wouldn't have been a problem with cannabis use; that cannabis can make existing illness worse; that it can be addictive; that it can make violent people perpetrate acts of violence.

Importantly, this denial is counter-productive. It works against efforts to legalise drugs.

Campaigners need to be honest about the negative aspects of drug use, and provide solutions for these - because there are solutions for all of them.

I agree, but I understand where the "speak no evil" tactic sprung from. See my comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17356507

The parent comment I was replying to seemed to be basing his position on one piece of anecdata and little else, thus my comment. I don't see what in my comment elicited your response but I do agree with your general thesis, with the caveat that I see it as a potentially-necessary response to counteract extensive demonization/fear-mongering by the state and temperance league style organizations. That said, the time for that tactic I feel is over, as the public is now beyond the "reefer madness"-style knee-jerk anti-cannabis bias.

>They were surprised I never did it because it was legal in the Netherlands, all I could say was that you had to be 18 to get it so I couldn't get it.

I'd guess the age never stopped most of those kids

Something legal is less exciting too.

Also if something's illegal then the only way to get hold of it is through the black market, which doesn't do age checks. If it's legal, there's less likely to be a black market and so you have to go through the legitimate, age-checking vendors.

Is the a cultural difference with Dutch people? Are they more, lets say, level headed or pragmatic in nature compared to their French neighbours?

One of the topics that hasn't yet been mentioned (which surprises me, especially for HN), which I believe I saw originally when this legalization was still merely being proposed was how it would affect medical/pharmaceutical research.

With such national legalization, an entire developed nation (with relatively diverse genetic backgrounds, even) will be open to clinical trials.

Besides finally providing ammunition to topple the "no possible medical uses" classification in the US (and presumably other countries), it may lead to discoveries of properties of the lesser known chemicals in cannabis.

It may not, but the possibility is still likely to bring something of an additional boost to Canada's biotech sector.

It turns out that cannabis is, and has been, extensively researched for years, in Canada and elsewhere (researchers could apply for special access). Thanks to this work, we know that there is one, exactly one robust, reliable clinical application of a cannabis chemical that stands out: to treat otherwise hard-to-treat childhood epilepsies. The chemical responsible for this is cannabidiol, which is the most abundant non-psychoactive molecule found in the cannabis plant. The other tested clinical applications include pain relief (works great for some people against some types of pain, continually fails clinical trials in most types of pain, not better than the standard of care), nausea relief (not better than the standards of care), sleep (very variable and low quality clinical data from multiple trials), inflammation (very variable and low quality clinical data from multiple trials) and headache (very variable data, etc). Most of this work has been done on the various non-psychoactive chemicals in cannabis, popular and otherwise, since tetrahydrocannabinol is kind of useless at clinically-relevant doses.

I think we'll find out in a few years that most of the hype around cannabis is just, well, hype.

> (researchers could apply for special access)

I'm aware of the special access, and I'm even aware that it has resulted in actual pharmaceuticals.

The problem with special access is that it has a huge chilling effect. I suspect only the very most motivated (and funded? or just politically protected?) would attempt it.

What about semi-synthetics? I have to imagine it's easier to experiment with synthesis if there's a robust, commercial market for the raw materials, instead of just the special government hothouse (or however it works in the particular jurisdiction).

> not better than the standard of care

I don't think I'd characterize that as a failure, if it's approximatey as good. Even if it's worse but significantly better than placebo, that doesn't seem like anything approaching a research dead-end.

Besides semi-synthetics, which would be a long and hard road, there's also adjunct therapy, or did those studies actually include using cannabis chemicals in addition to the standard ones?

> very variable and low quality clinical data from multiple trials

Any possibility that this was affected by actual or perceived stigma surrounding the source of the chemical being studied? Participants worrying about failing a drug test? (Does this law address that at all?)

> I think we'll find out in a few years that most of the hype around cannabis is just, well, hype.

That's an easy prediction to make about any hype, and I certainly agree. I just think there's more to learn, even if it confirms the null hypothesis, and this will take the foot off the brake in Canada.

To answer some of your questions, one reason why the area has seen so much active research in the past 30 years -- and there's been a lot -- is that the human cellular pathways that respond to cannabis are extremely far-reaching and far more interesting. To this end, there has indeed been a great deal of synthetic chemistry to experiment with and manipulate these pathways.

>Besides semi-synthetics, which would be a long and hard road, there's also adjunct therapy, or did those studies actually include using cannabis chemicals in addition to the standard ones?

Interestingly, you can find examples of both adjunct and comparator studies, which are usually blinded in some way to reduce stigma or bias. (If anything, the bias tends to favor cannabis-consuming patients, since it's hard to hide the fact that the pill you just took in a "blinded" clinical trial is making you high.)

A decent summary of some of the clinical data is here: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabi... .

>A decent summary of some of the clinical data is here

Thanks! That looks extremely informative, and I only had a chance to skim through it so far.

I couldn't help but notice how many (at least half) of the referenced studies were in the past 10 years. That does suggest to me that changing attitudes have more to do with it than legalization.

> Interestingly, you can find examples of both adjunct and comparator studies, which are usually blinded in some way to reduce stigma or bias. (If anything, the bias tends to favor cannabis-consuming patients, since it's hard to hide the fact that the pill you just took in a "blinded" clinical trial is making you high.)

I'm a bit confused by what you mean by "favors" here. Do you mean that an otherwise/previously cannabis-using patient would report more favorable results (and/or fewer negative side effects)? Or that such a patient would more likely receive actually better benefits? Or that they would be more likely to be in the trial in the first place?

Are there clinical trials where the participants don't know what (potential) active therapy they could get is? The ones I've looked at in the US have always said, but I've only looked at a couple very specific conditions.

>I'm a bit confused by what you mean by "favors" here. Do you mean that an otherwise/previously cannabis-using patient would report more favorable results (and/or fewer negative side effects)?

In cases in which the active agent is THC or a similarly psychoactive agent, patients are indeed more likely to report positive overall effects simply because they know they're receiving the active agent; i.e. the placebo effect. This would apply whether they've used cannabis before or not. You don't have this problem with trials of the non-psychoactive cannabis chemicals, which fortunately is most trials.

That certainly makes sense with THC, and ties back to your earlier remark about clinically significant quantities of it.

For some studies, I've seen reference to using an active placebo (so the placebo group feels something), but I realize that can pollute the side effects data, and it may be useless for psychoactives where the effect is publically well-known.

The sheer number of miraculous properties currently being attributed to cannabis leaves me skeptic. It went too quickly from "an anti-emetic/anti-nausea to combat side-effects of cancer treatment" to the secret of vitality and longevity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not ascribing any benefits to it at all.

I'm merely saying that it's under-studied, considering how common it is, due to its legal status and that can now start to change.

Meanwhile in Britain, the former leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague, spoke out and claimed that the war on cannabis had been "irreversibly lost".

He was quickly shut down by Theresa May, who categorically ruled out legalisation or even decriminalisation [1].

I don't understand how politicians can stand up and claim that legalisation would have substantial negatives, when every experiment with legalisation has been a success. It's the same blinkered thinking as the anti-gay marriage politicians claiming that it will cause the breakdown of families, or politicians claiming that universal healthcare in the USA clearly wouldn't work.

Drug prohibition has been a categorical failure in every outcome it was intended to achieve. It has cost governments trillions of dollars and incarcerated millions, funded terrorism and civil wars, and caused the deaths of millions of people from both violence and drug related harm. Plus the harm caused by the demonisation of drugs that have potentially powerful positive effects as part of psychiatric treatment such as LSD and MDMA. All due to some concept that taking "recreational drugs" is a moral failing and hence should be illegal.

At least society in genera has finally come around to realise that drug addiction and drug use are not moral failings (although my parents aren't quite convinced).

Obviously we want to restrict access as much as possible to particular drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamine, which are so harmful and addictive that nobody should be using them, or GHB, where the potential for fatal overdose is so high. But penalising the end user is not the solution. People who want to take drugs will take drugs. I have never met somebody who has decided to not take a drug because it's illegal. Whether it was alcohol when underaged, smoking a joint, injecting heroin, or snorting cocaine. I know plenty of people who don't take drugs as a personal choice or because they get drug tested at work, but never was the law a reason why the abstained. It doesn't restrict supply either. Drugs are easy to find and readily available practically everywhere in the world, all that prohibition does is push up the price, fund criminals, and increase harm due to poor quality control and cut drugs.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-44526156

> Drug prohibition has been a categorical failure in every outcome it was intended to achieve.

The following flavor of comment has been made many times on HN, but since I’m halfway through Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow I’m in the mood for making it again here:

The drug war has been “successful”, because its goal was to incarcerate, disenfranchise, extort, terrorize, and break apart the families of minorities so that America could retain a racial hierarchy after the civil rights movement. This hierarchy is advantageous to the ruling class because they can continue to exploit poor whites economically, keep them off the bottom of the hierarchy, and retain their political support.

When Reagan declared a War on Drugs in 1982, less than 2% of Americans viewed drug use as the most important issue facing the nation. In 1989 that number was at 64%, all without a significant increase in drug usage. (Rates for drug crimes did increase, because criminality was the effect of the War on Drugs, not its cause.)

The last point is unsupportable. The increase in crime rate started in the 1960s: https://cdn.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/2016/07/Violent-Crim.... By 1982, when Reagan declared the war on drugs, violent crime had nearly quadrupled since 1960, and was near the eventual 1992 peak. It had already more than doubled by 1972 when Nixon first used the phrase “war on drugs” (though it wasn’t Reagan that actually waged that war).

An explanation that fits the data better is that drugs were a scapegoat for a distingegrating society and an explosion in crime.

Your link shows violent crime. Parent comment addressed drug crimes. It’s not clear to me how related those two things are.

It's popularily known the rise in violence and gun related homicides in the 1980s-1990s coincided with the explosion of crack cocaine (and a lesser extent heroin) and the proliferation of modern street gangs as we know them today (ie. bloods, crips, bd, gd, etc) in urban ghettos.

It's not difficult to find stats showing the vast majority of victims of violent crime happen in the same neighborhoods where drugs and drug sales coexist. Whether or not it's directly related it's at least a significant driving factor financing violent criminals and intertwined into related cultures as 'respected' professions.

An explanation that fits the data better

Only if you ignore the overwhelming racial bias in enforcement.

How did racial bias in enforcement cause violent crime rates to skyrocket starting in the 1960s when the drug war was initiated in the 1980s?

GP said that the motivation was racial, you said that the motivation was law and order. You can determine motivation better from future actions than from past context, and the actions showed a bias towards incarcerating minorities. If the intent was to prevent crime by reducing drug use, we should have seen similarly tough enforcement among white drug use, which we did not. You are falling into the common post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

OP said that "criminality was the effect of the War on Drugs, not its cause." Maybe I am not understanding his point, but I took that to mean that crime was caused by the drug war, which cannot be reconciled with the data.

I meant that if you were to declare a similar War on Jaywalking, you'd see jaywalking rates skyrocket.

Ah, it was ambiguous (to me) what "The last point is unsupportable" referred to.

This is (imo) a terrible failing in our political thinking.

We narrate our stories using abstractions & personifications, mixing symbolic and regular language. What we end up is more poetry than anything. It sounds good when it expresses our feelings. This is (to quote Monty python) no basis for a system of government (or thought).

What/who's intention was it, that you mention above? Are we talking about actual individuals collaborating knowingly to achieve these goals or is this a "nation weeps" sort of abstraction. What, in less poetic terms does "the real goal" really mean?

How does this explain drug policies in Japan or Azerbaijan?

I mean, I definitely agree that Machiavellian dynamics were involved. Electoral feedback loops. Racism. All these played a role.

But.. when someone insists about the "real reason" without demystifying the abstractions... I think we've left the realm or rational discussion. We're in religion territory.

Forgive me for not having more details on hand right now. So far in my reading of her book, Alexander’s thesis has three main prongs of support.

The first is historical. When we look back at Jim Crow, do we say that grandfather clauses and literacy tests were about improving the quality of citizen engagement at the polls? Of course not. Jim Crow was designed to reaffirm a racial hierarchy within the constraints of the new constitutional amendments. Is it inconceivable that we would get policies designed to reaffirm racial hierarchy in the colorblind constraints of the civil rights movement?

The second is rhetorical. What specific appeals did politicians make to support the War on Drugs? What images did they use?

And the third, as a comment below points out, are the results of the drug war. Was it carried out in a racially evenhanded manner?

The War on Drugs is large enough that there can be no smoking gun tape of politicians conspiring to pull one over on society and do the racism again.


> The paper argues that Japan's 'war on drugs' in the 1980s was a direct result of pressure from the United States to adopt harsher sanctions and from a punitive Japanese public that associates drug use with poor self-control.

I think you'll find a similar story elsewhere

I suspect you will, if you're goal is to find a "connect the dots" narrative eminating from some centre. We can argue about which dots and which lines are more important, but before all that...

What is that centre, in nonsymbolic language? Actual people who consciously designed a plan to terrorise and marginalize minorities? I don't think that's what the op (or the writers he cites) are claiming. I suspect what they mean is more abstract. Something like:

The biases, concious or otherwise permeating society influenced the decision making in such a way as to... IE a personification.

It seems less than coincidental that your second poll was in the late 80's when the crack epidemic was in full swing. Parallel that to the opiate of now, and I think the dramatic swing can be normalized quite a lot.

I know HN likes to simplify complex issues so that they can tie a nice bow on it, but claiming the driver of drug prohibition is incarceration of minorities is a massive and inaccurate simplification.

Were there people who had racist views about drug use? Sure. Is that the main reason why we have drug prohibition? No.

This is a very US centric view but the war on drugs is very international. Cannabis is illegal in most of the world where Americas race relations simply aren't issues, so I really don't buy into this reasoning.

This is good old moral superiority at work.

"This is a very US centric view but the war on drugs is very international."

US basically dictates global policies in the block of countries not part of the soviet sphere of influence during the cold war. US defends it's position in the global community using every trick and leverage available. If something is illegal in the US you can be quite assured they will try to apply leverage to make it illegal everywhere else, especially if it's an issue that requires international co-operation - like the war on drugs, for example.

For example, the international banking system is basically controlled by US policies. Parties, that do not co-operate and obey US authorities can and will be shut out of the large pool of global financial services that is critical to running businesses effectively.

Another effect is the pure cultural force US practices have on the "western block" of countries. Lots of ideas (good or bad) are taken into use in other countries after they become fashionable in the US.

You are quite right prudish moral superiority is of course a facet, but that is not the key here, I think.

Although the US has a lot of influence on international culture and laws the above is simply not really true.

Drug laws in Europe vary wildly between countries, with places like Portgual decriminalising even hard drugs and places like the Netherlands having an open culture when it comes to buying and consuming cannabis and other 'less hard' drugs. Then of course there's the big difference in laws when it comes to drinking; a 16-year old drinking on the street is perfectly legal in quite a few European countries whereas in the US it would get you arrested on multiple charges.

Banking laws are very different as well: I think the recent introduction of MiFID II shows quite clearly that Europe has very different views on regulation. Hell, the new rules on investment research are pretty much opposite to the US ones.

GDPR is forcing numerous US companies into complying with European views on privacy.

OP is quite right in saying that it's a very US-centric view to think drug policy around the world is mainly caused by race relations in the US.

Another point of view is recently-introduced SESTA. It was a law intended to stop sex trafficing in the US. Seems like a nice bill, right?

Well, as a direct consequence of it, sites like Backpage got shut down and reddit banned loads and loads of communities that were used by sex workers in countries across Europe where sex work is as legal as it can get. Sex workers were simply cut off of their usual ways of communicating between each other and attracting customers because of a law in the US.

And the reason that the Netherlands always gets mentioned when talking about soft drugs is because it decriminalized marihuana decades ago. In reality, the way they did that was very impractical and open to loopholes that were commonly abused by the coffee shops. Dutch laws on drugs, at their current state, are way worse then the laws in places where marihuana was decriminalized recently. The reason for that is the pressure from the neighbors, because the ability to buy and grow larger quantities + open borders = more work for Belgium and Germany.

Let's compare Canada and the Netherlands. Canada: you can grow 4 plants and have up to 30 grams with you for recreational use. The Netherlands: you can grow 2 plants and have up to 5 grams with you at all times. In the Netherlands, these restrictions also apply to the supply side, so coffee shops operate mostly in a shady gray area. In Canada, they're introducing licensed supply chain.

> vary wildly between countries

Not really, name a European country where I won't be jailed for having even an ounce of cocaine? Portugal is as close as it gets to sensible drug policy, and they've only decriminalized (as opposed to legalized) small personal-use amounts.

The only drugs that should be regulated are antibiotics :)

> Not really, name a European country where I won't be jailed for having even an ounce of cocaine?

Spain. A couple of years ago I was in Madrid and went out to a bar with some friends. One of them tells me to come outside with him, then he proceeds to prepare some cocaine lines on the roof of a random car parked on the street right outside the bar. When he's about to snort them, some normal looking guys approach us (not in uniforms) and then all of a sudden they flash their badges (they were cops). I thought I was going to jail right there and then.

The cops asked for our ids and then started grilling us about where the cocaine came from, they said that if we gave up our dealer they would let us go. My friend was feeding them random info which they wouldnt buy. Then one of our friends who was inside the bar came outside looking for us. Somehow he realized what was going on at a glance, he walks up to the cops and asks what's going on. The cops tell him they caught us in possession of cocaine. Before they could keep talking, he cuts them off and demands that they write us a ticket and let us go. The cops are a little bit baffled and are about to say something when our friend tells them he's a lawyer, that he knows how these things work and sternly demands again they give us a ticket and let us go.

After that the cops didn't say a word. They just gave a ticket to my friend who had the cocaine (I didn't even get one), confiscated the cocaine and then let us go.

One of the biggest scares of my life.

For an ounce though? I picked that amount because it's not a lot, but it is generally considered to be more than a "personal use" amount.

You're best bet in the US getting caught with that much or more is to just get robbed by the cops, which actually happens all the time.

Have no idea how much my friend was carrying in terms of weight, didn't have a scale with me. Also, it would have probably been in grams not in whatever weird units you guys use in the US.

Jokes aside, it's confusing the way you used the expression "an ounce", given that "an ounce of" something is usually used to express just "a bit of" something.

An ounce is quite a lot but there are several places in Europe where a small quantity of unidentified white powder on you will not cause consequences unless you're a suspected dealer or something. And you won't get searched in the first place unless you're being taken into custody (for some other offense) or suspected for being a danger to others or yourself.

E.g. Berlin is very tolerant. So is Portugal.

Helsinki would be complete opposite. You will be searched for any minor reason and anything found on you will cause consequences regardless of why you're being stopped and searched.

Berlin was arresting people with any amount of weed in certain public parks just a couple years ago, because an awful coalition government thought Zero Tolerance would surely work this time.

Its laws are more or less identical to New York State's - decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, everything else is extremely illegal - just with shorter prison sentences and perhaps slightly looser enforcement.

Banking is a great example. FATCA forces banks all over the world to send financial information on American account holders to the USA.

If a bank has even a vague hint that you might be a US person, they have to send all your personal financial information to the USA, so that the USA can collect tax from you wherever you are in the world.

Not only is this terrible from a privacy perspective. It has cost foreign banks hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. It has cost Australian banks almost half a billion dollars over the past decade.

Yet any time the rest of the world tries to make the USA play by their rules, the US government claims some moral outrage about sovereignty.

Then why would places unaligned with the US follow similar policies? Places like Cuba, Iran, etc?

> US basically dictates global policies in the block of countries not part of the soviet sphere of influence during the cold war.

You are basing yourself on vague feelings of superiority, rather than actual knowledge. Influential, yes. Dictating policy, not at all.

I'm in Portugal, we follow the US lead very often on foreign policy, but only when we agree.

We've taken our own way in drug policy, extradition (we've refused to extradite criminals to the US because of the death penalty), immigration, and in a host of other areas.

Like Germany and prostitution?

And the world did end- not

The parent comment is correct.

It’s not even a controversial position, as it’s been stated publically by the people who crafted and implemented the legislation that this was the stated aim.

And the US demanded that other countries adopt our drug policy laws and they followed our lead.

This cognitive censorship is something to be outraged about - flies directly in the face of the Establishment Clause of the first Amemdment and is deeply detrimental to our democracy.

Even William F. Buckley was against the War On Drugs.

What we ought to pour those resources into is a “War on Trauma” (if we still require branding things as a ‘war’ to garner political support.)

Trauma is what underpins the majority of mental health issues including depression, suicide, and addiction.

Drugs without trauma isn’t a problem, it’s when the drugs become a proxy for self regulation that we run into issues.

> And the US demanded that other countries adopt our drug policy laws and they followed our lead.

I know it's a common meme on HN but I find it hard to believe that the whole world decided to ban cannabis just because the US wanted to. It may have been a contributing/deciding factor in some places but there must be more to it.

I don’t think policy happens in a vacuum. And I imagine the same forces were are work in other counties as well — drug laws are a great way to keep young people and minorities disempowered and to preserve institutional power.

>> A top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman, later admitted: “You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. <<

The world follows the US in all kinds of arenas, often because the US strongarms them into it.

You're both right. The origins are racial ("Chasing the scream" by Hari is another good resource here) and the brainwashing was successful so for a while now we're stuck with the consequences. When the old stupid racists (who voted for Brexit) finally die (not so long hopefully) younger people (more likely to use or know someone who uses) will legalise it. Politicians just reflect society; it's not true that a clear majority of UK voters want cannabis legal so it's not worth May going against the old farts and the media etc.

I would add to this, that there's probably a lot of lobbying at work as well. In my country at least, the lobby groups for that "other recreational drug", alcohol, and the pharmaceutical industry are both very powerful. There are vested interests in not seeing (a) popular recreational use and (b) promising medical applications take hold, precisely because it's something that can just be grown and is difficult to control and profiteer upon. I'll be accused by many people of spouting conspiracy theories but it doesn't require any mental backflips at all to render it plausible so I'm claiming Ogham's.

   ... When the old stupid racists (who voted for Brexit) 
   finally die (not so long hopefully) ...
Over 50% of Great-Britain is stupid and racist? You have a source for this claim?

Regardless of the epithets used to describe them, it's worth remembering that, accounting for turn-out, it was around 37% of the British electorate that voted to leave the EU.

There's no reason to believe that the result as it stands couldn't have been extrapolated across the rest of the population.

My argument is that the number of people who didn't vote doesn't need to be extrapolated: apathy isn't a yes or a no vote, but something else.

Are you sure it's apathy though? There are plenty of other reasons why somebody might not make it to the polling station.

(EDIT: For example the elderly who have been shown to be overwhelmingly pro-brexit could have diffculty)

All polling and analysis since the result bears out that the vote was indeed representative of the population.

> Are you sure it's apathy though?

Perhaps because it was very clearly billed as a non-binding referendum, which would only have an advisory impact at best?

That the politicians took a basically 50/50 result and have used it to _remove_ the EU citizenship of everyone in the UK is beyond taking the piss.

> it was very clearly billed as a non-binding referendum

Was it though? It seems to me that many very clearly consider it to be binding, though ridiculously the actual meaning is ambiguous.

> Was it though?

Errr yes? That was the whole point. The general concept I had of it was along the lines of "Lets see what the general opinion is, so if there's a large majority one way or another we'll know if we need to look into it".

The non-binding bit was so they didn't have to _commit_ to actually doing anything, just in case.

If that was the case it would have been called a plebiscite rather than a referendum.

That it was in actual fact a plebiscite to those who actually understand this nuance isn't relevant to the "Brexit means Brexit" hordes who don't. Or to your friends and neighbours looking on aghast ...

Sure, it isn't just apathy (as in your example). But if you compare the turn-out for the Scottish independence vote in 2014 (~85%) with the EU referendum (~72%), I think it might be a considerable factor.

Another factor is complacency on the part of those that would have voted to remain: polling leading up to the referendum showed a clear remain win.

(I should point out that I'm not suggesting that the result of the referendum isn't pro-Brexit, but that the numbers don't support the case for a so-called "hard Brexit")

Yes, as time goes by it seems as though sense is starting to sink in, though it is still quite close. A year ago I wouldn't have been confident at all.

[0] https://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/if-there-was-a-referen...

[1] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2018/03/29/where-britain-stands-br...

I'd be for a second referendum on an actual agreement for what Britain's relationship with the EU would be, post-Brexit. Some of the options, particularly those favoured by those that voted to remain, are poor.

I think many people right across the continent would probably have similar feelings.

Many are "unhappy" with how the EU is presently being run but nobody would want to "leave".

The confusion around Brexit emerges from just how poorly the referendum was run. It was a choice between "remain" which can only be a vote for the status quo (unsatisfactory for many) and "leave" which is open to so many interpretations as to be useless.

But to call Brexit a "referendum" in any constitutional sense is talking it up a bit. It was a plebiscite. An actual binding referendum against a written constitution would have to provide actual wording; rather than just a single word.

Reminds me of all of the scapegoating of the EU for local policies and outright fiction like banana curve standards.

Ironically the actual things to object to the EU about like their godawful internet policy proposals aren't on the radar.

Anyway UK has parliamentary supremacy so a constitution would be empty words without changing that. I would say that the policy seems very dangerous but constituions are messy in terms of getting ease of change right - especially in such an legal body. Imagine if nasty old bits like not allowing Jews to inherit property got embedded.

Imagine if nasty old bits like not allowing Jews to inherit property got embedded

Seems like a strawman, but I guess if that were the case it would have been amended out years ago ...

Semantics about strawmen applied to history aside it still would have added significant friction to it. Antisemitism was downright fashionable until WW2 and it could have impeded more gradual progress like the first Jewish member of parliament. It can be changed but it is significantly harder and easily can wind up judged "not worth the effort". Just look at how long it has been since the US ratified an amendment to the constitution.

This also smacks of whattabouttery and is more an argument for not codifying antisemitism in your constitution than having a constitution at all ...

I thought this was because Britain didn't have a constitution as such so the don't have actual referendums?

> An actual binding referendum against a written constitution would have to provide actual wording; rather than just a single word.

I don't disagree for any philosophical reason, but this is very easy to abuse for anyone that favors the status quo. The most notable example I can think of is the republic referendum (to remove the queen as head of state) here in Australia. Deciding the form of the republic was done first and the constitutional changes to do just that was the only question put to the public, splitting the Republican vote.

On the other hand the EU has a bit of a reputation for voting until the plebs get it right, so I can definitely see the case for binding referendums.

> I thought this was because Britain didn't have a constitution as such so the don't have actual referendums?

The UK does have a constitution, it's simply not codified into a single document. Parliamentary sovereignty means that Acts of Parliament are part of the constitution, and so any referendum's result cannot be binding, which may partly explain why they weren't seen as part of UK politics up until recently - there have only ever been three national referendums, one on EC membership in 1975, on changing the voting system in 2011, and leaving the EU in 2016.


No easier than a false “remain” “leave” dichotomy ...

How things might have been different if the UK government had used the result as a warning shot to the EU, and a case for reform.

There are a 1.4 million 18 and 19 year olds in the UK that didn't get to vote in 2016.

Likewise there are over 1 million who did get to vote who are no longer alive.

When accounting for the entire country, about 1 in 4 voted to leave the EU, 1 in 4 voted to remain, 1 in 4 didn't know/care and trusted their MPs to do what was best, and 1 in 4 were not allowed to vote because they were too young and must rely on their MPs to do what is best.

Old stupid racists most likely voted for brexit.

Other people also voted for brexit, including young stupid racists, middle aged opportunistic millionaires, people who wanted to vote against Cameron, and other groups.

Overall only 26% voted for brexit, and many of those "old stupid racists" have since died, so no, it's nowhere near 50% of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar that are "old stupid racists".

Well there's been plenty of polls, analysis and investigation since the Brexit result trying to slice and dice and determine what was behind the result and sorry but that's the picture that has emerged.

For what it's worth, I don't think it's as a result of any innate quality of the English psyche, indeed as the birthplace of liberalism and one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Europe such could hardly be the case.

My hot take is that it's emerging from most ordinary people's frustration at how the UK economy has been steered in such a way as to ensure that the benefits of globalisation go to a few while most everybody else has to deal with any negative consequences. Very telling that the core economic hubs were anti-brexit and the "forgotten" parts of the UK were pro-brexit. Scotland notwithstanding of course who would've left the UK a few years before only for the issues of staying in the EU ...

Anyone without a college education is stupid and racist now.

The left has not learned the lessons of brexit and Trump and continue to drive away the working class that they have utter contempt for.

I know plenty of working class brits who are pro EU.

I live there.

The US has unquestionably played an outsized role in shaping international drug policy over the last 100 years. I'm also pretty sure that the 'war on drugs' is a uniquely American phrase, and if it isn't it was certainly coined and popularised there.

"war on <<insert something here that isn't actual war>>" is uniquely American, examples include drugs, obesity, poverty etc. I've never heard this phrase used elsewhere. Why everything needs to be a "war", I don't understand

The war on drugs is "very international" if you describe any and every kind of law enforcement as "war".

Cannabis is illegal in many countries, including one where a past minister of justice told a story about how he'd been offered cannabis by another parent at his children's school. The parent who offered was a senior policeman.

That isn't war.

As opposed to the country leading the charge with a president that "didn't enhale": https://www.google.com.au/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/4711887/b...

America started the war, and pushed it on all its allies.

But if it was all about domestic politics then there would have been no reason to to that.

Except fighting drugs requires international co-operation. Once the officials are legally bound to do something, they will start doing their business as effectively as possible, including, perhaps, feeding back the message to the higher ups that they need international co-operation.

The higher ups cannot say "we don't care" because that would immediately politically de-legitimize the drugwar effort.

Hence, all policies, despite their true intent, have all sorts of unnecessary appendices unrelated to the original goal.

I was responding to the idea that it is not about fighting drugs.

> because its goal was to incarcerate, disenfranchise, extort, terrorize, and break apart the families of minorities so that America could retain a racial hierarchy after the civil rights movement

IF you believe this then trying to solve the problem at its roots you are undermining your own strategy.

> Except fighting drugs requires international co-operation.

You're not wrong (well you arebecause even that doesn't work), but things like cannabis are entirely domestic so no international cooperation required. The harder stuff typically originated from places that weren't close American allies so our cooperation wasn't particularly important.

> things like cannabis are entirely domestic

Not true at all.

The term you're using (war on drugs) is an American notion. No one is claiming that all drug prohibition is due to American efforts but we've been 'successful' in exporting and reinforcing the insane attitude for decades around the world.

This documentary opened my eyes to a lot of issues I didn't know existed. A good starting point that led me to read more about this. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5895028/

Seems like with weed it's just a matter of time but in the case of the conservative government why change it if their older voter base isn't asking for it and a portion of them would have a negative reaction if they did. I guess they think the risk of loosing some of their base is too high.

I love the work of David Nutt, who was fired from the role of Government drug advisor in the UK for trying to change the government's policies. He cited papers about how some drugs are less harmful then alcohol, tobacco and horse riding (equacy). He spoke truth and backed it up with scientific research and the Labour government fired him because it was inconvient.



I recently read David Nutt's Drugs Without the Hot Air, which turned out to be very timely. A fantastic book that really sets out the case for evidence-based classification (and legalisation) of drugs, based on the approach of minimising harm (not minimising drug-use).

The only way for it to come is via the medical route channel, as seen in the recent news story. "Think of the poor suffering innocents"

> Obviously we want to restrict access as much as possible to particular drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamine, which are so harmful and addictive that nobody should be using them, or GHB, where the potential for fatal overdose is so high.

I dont understand this part. The potential for overdose on alcohol is high as well. I can go buy a plastic handle for $10 and if i drink the whole thing tonight i'll probably die. I think the right path is full legalization similar to OTC medicine in the US. You have FDA verification you are actually taking what you think you're taking, no weird fentanyl substitutes or cuttings. You put warning labels on describing dosages and limits. You let people use them and get treatment if they abuse it. It's the same way we treat alcohol, just we are conditioned to think alcohol is somehow way more safe than something like heroin.

There are responsible drinkers and responsible heroin users out there. I know it may sound scary but I don't think there's a major inherent harm to having methamphetamine available over the counter. Some people will abuse it. Some people are already abusing it.

its way easier to overdose on hard drugs than alcohol.

with alcohol, its a slow progress. you keep drinkng and most people pass out / lose their will to drink after they've had enough.

hard drugs are generally a single portion and once its in your blood, its too late. you cant say 'hey, i've got enough for today' once you feel it hitting you. You're already doomed if you've chosen the wrong dosage from the start.

> There are responsible drinkers and responsible heroin users out there

I cant say i've ever heard of anyone ever using heroine responsibly. I'd have to take your word for it, but thats hard, considering how brutal the effects of heroine are on their users.

I think a lot of this can be attributed to these drugs being used in a completely ad hoc manner. There's no usage guidelines on a bag of cocaine. There's no 'Active Ingredient' percentage listed. You dont know what it is. You can't compare it to another until you've had it. Any pill that's an upper is called 'molly'

Somehow the vast majority of people who take legal hard drugs such as vicodin or dilaudid, don't overdose on them. There's a culture built around taking these drugs responsibly according to their directions. We have that very strongly ingrained in our culture about alcohol. I think that same culture would develop if your cocaine came in a box from CVS with proper instructions on when you can take it and what side effects to look for.

Of course people are going to make mistakes. They are going to abuse drugs. But that is happening today. Trying to solve that by keeping the drugs away sounds like the same policies in the war on drugs that we are saying aren't working and leading to legalization

As a (former? never say never) injecting drug user of Heroin, methamphetamine, and quite a few other water soluble substances, I fully agree with the parent comment.

I never bothered getting addicted to Heroin. You have to stick to the rules: never use more than two days in a row and don’t use it consistently, if in doubt half your dose, and never use alone but always with at least one other who knows how to administer breathing assistance until paramedics arrive. Don’t take your dose at the same time as your buddy, wait to see if the first user has trouble staying conscious, 15 to 20 minutes should do it.

Edit: fixed a word

Sensible and honest advice like this saves lives

Yes! And it works in practice:

A friend overdose in my loungeroom one evening. He’d taken a lot of Valium, a little bit of a alcohol, and then half the heroin I sold him. After a 15 minute argument he took the rest of the Heroin. I tried to tell him he’d already taken some but couldn’t remember.

Anyway, he started going a bit blue: Cyanosis. Became progressively and rapidly more difficult for him to speak and stay alert.

Called the ambulance, put him in the stable side position, watched his breathing, he was ok. Ambulance arrived, started administering breathing assistance and naltrexone. They commented he required a lot of naltrexone. He came to, they took him to hospital for observation over night. I rode with him in the ambulance and sat with him in hospital for a few hours.

No long term harm. Still friends, and I like to joke he owes me his life.

Friends don’t let friends die from overdosing on opiates.

Doesn’t that show how much easier it is to overdose on heroin than alcohol?

>Somehow the vast majority of people who take legal hard drugs such as vicodin or dilaudid, don't overdose on them. There's a culture built around taking these drugs responsibly according to their directions.

And yet there are tons of addicts on those:


My understanding of the opioid crisis differs from what you've implied.

Typically, it starts with someone being prescribed opiates. Maybe they use them as prescribed, maybe they don't. If they don't, or they have the kind of genes or psychological issues that make it more likely for them to get hooked, they get hooked. Once they're addicted to the opiate, and discover how much cheaper heroin or fentanyl is on the street, compared to their oxy prescription, they start using them instead, upping their risk a ton.

From there it's all downhill unless the right kind of intervention happens, and the psychological issues underlying that addiction are resolved.

Because I can't edit my comment using this app:

A big contributing factor, I think, is the overprescription of opiates to treat pain when it isn't 100% necessary

I wonder how many overdoses were just suicides

My childhood best friend has been a heroin addict for perhaps a decade.

I’ve tried to help her over the years.

She tried going to an Ibogain clinic in Mexico and was sexually assaulted by a nurse while there. I paid for her to give it a second try for her and her boyfriend (also an addict) but after a few days clean they went back to their old life and relationships and couldn’t stay clean.

Her underlying trauma was sexual abuse as a teenager.

She’s spent most of her adult life living with her parents, using heroin, and committing petty crimes or doing sex work to stay high.

She told me that every time she’s OD’d, she knew she was going to and a part of her kind of took over and did more heroin than she knew she should but she just didn’t care.

She’s been brought back to life several times.

She’s still alive, so that gives me hope she might have some insight or be able to try Iboga again with a better supportive context for integration.

Her 10 year old son is going to have a lot of work to do as an adult to heal from this.

EDIT: as stated above, I belive in drug legalization with tax revenue going to Support free access to trauma healing centers for everyone along with an educational program that helps people understand the link between trauma and addiction.

> legal hard drugs such as vicodin

Isn't vicodin designed in such a way that the secondary ingredient would kill you before you'd get high on the primary one?

It does work that way but I don't know if it was intentional, acetaminophen is a very valid anti-inflammatory and (non-opiod based) painkiller.

I have no idea how Vicodin was designed; however, paracetamol (acetaminophen) wouldn't do that. It is liver toxic in higher doses, and can certainly kill your liver and you eventually, but that takes weeks.

Tylenol aka paracetamol. Take one every six hours, as directed, and you'll be fine. Take two every six hours and you die painfully over the course of the next month. 500 deaths a year in the US alone... despite basically every house in the developed world having a bottle of it in a drawer. And it doesn't even have huge black warning labels with skulls and poison symbols! Street-quality Tylenol would kill people the way street-quality fentanyl does. Probably more.

Something like 10% of users will be addicted to any given drug (less for psychedelics which can actually free people of addiction by helping release the underlying trauma). The majority of drug users of any substance are not addicts.

Overdose is most common from adulterants and from not knowing the dosage one is taking due to lack of purity information.

If your goal is to stop ODs, allowing cheap access to taxed pharma grade Drugs is your first step.

The next step is using the taxes to make access to trauma healing / education free. Trauma is the root cause of addiction, so healing frees one of the need for the addictive behavior.

Somatic based therapies, psychedelic therapy, and an environment that supports healthy living.

I work with people regularly who are able to gently walk away from addictions because they’ve healed the underlying trauma.

The benefit of this is that we will also rid ourselves of the problems we face from other addictive behaviors like sex addiction, status / money addiction, religious righteousness, etc. (See the book The Perfect Pandemic for a detailed breakdown of the various dopamine triggers we humans use).

I disagree. You can easily overdose alcohol with spirits and "pushing the tempo". Many teenagers died during stupid drinking games. If you drink "normally" it would be difficult, but that is the same with other drugs. If you stick to guidelines you should be fine. Problem with other drugs is that you don't know purity and even what's really in them, as each dealer in the chain adds something to get more weight.

On the other hand, even if you don't die right away alcohol's no slouch in the finding ways to kill you and ruining lives department.

> I cant say i've ever heard of anyone ever using heroine responsibly.

I don't think its the sort of thing people will advertise. Apparently only around 10% of users become addicts

Do you have a source for that? I recall reading it was about as addictive as nicotine which I'm sure gets well over 10% of smokers addicted.

I know a person who used Heroin occasionally. He is well and fine, was first officer on some large ship and is now finishing for masters degree which would allow him to work on land related to shipping.

> I dont understand this part. The potential for overdose on alcohol is high as well.

I think that the point about GHB that most people miss is the concept of therapeutic index, a term borrowed from the medical world (I've also seen it called "safety ratio" in the context of recreational drugs, especially since they're not being used therapeutically).

That is, the amount of GHB required to get the desired effect is very close to the amount necessary for an overdose.

> I can go buy a plastic handle for $10 and if i drink the whole thing tonight i'll probably die

Merely being easy to obtain doesn't make it easy to overdose, though. That "if I drink the whole thing" is an important part.

You do not, for example, need to drink 90% of that bottle just to get "buzzed". I suspect that the average person would feel sufficiently drugged well before making it halfway through (as even a fifth, even spread over an evening, is a lot of booze).

With drugs like GHB or ketamine, one needs to do the equivalent of drinking the vast majority of that overdose-quantity-bottle just to get high enough, so it's very easy to go too far accidentally. What's worse, what that amount is, and what that overdose amount is, are weight-dependent, and they can vary at different rates.

That's not to say there's no way of alleviating that risk, or at least reducing the possible harm (like maybe only allowing them in clubs adjacent to hospitals), but simply ignoring the legitimate increased accidental OD risk is unlikely to help.

I assure you, you haven't a clue what you're talking about.

The therapeutic index for GHB is more than adequate, and ketamine is legitimately difficult to kill yourself with, to the point where the deaths I'm aware of were from drowning.

An issue with GHB is that it's distributed in a liquid form that can vary greatly in the amount of water present. When it was available over the counter in the 80s, issues were practically unheard of.

AFAIK, the biggest problem with GHB is its synergy with alcohol. Most GHB related deaths also involve alcohol.

GHB therapeutic index (8) is just slightly lower than alcohol (10). However, being an illegal substance, you don't really know how potent your stuff is. Ketamine is rather high (38).

And BTW, THC (cannabis) as a therapeutic index over 9000. LSD and psylocibin (magic mushrooms) are at 1000, which also makes them virtually impossible to overdose.

> AFAIK, the biggest problem with GHB is its synergy with alcohol. Most GHB related deaths also involve alcohol.

That's a good point. I had forgotten that base assumption in the club scene, though it was generally much less of an issue in the rave scene, at least during the 90s.

> GHB therapeutic index (8)

Thanks. Do you have a reference for that? How does that number change with two standard drinks on board?

> is just slightly lower than alcohol (10).

One of the other properties of alcohol that could make it more difficult to reach a lethal OD, which I already mentioned, is that a symptom of a toxic does is vomiting, which can help prevent it turning into a lethal dose.

This is somewhat enabled by the tendency to consume it over time (although "binge" drinking does happen, of course). Can the same be said for GHB? Presumably not, given your next comment.

> However, being an illegal substance, you don't really know how potent your stuff is.

I think that's an issue for any illegal drug, but it's, arguably, even an issue for alcohol. How many people look at a label to determine proof/%ABV? They're not likely offered the chance with a mixed drink at a bar.

> Ketamine is rather high (38).

Is that medical or recreational? My understanding (possibly incorrect) is that the recreational dose is generally much higher, or at least less spread out over time, which can significantly affect the ratio. Is there any synergy with alcohol here that affects it?

Reading more about "safety ratio", it seems that even just the use of the 50th percentile may not be appropriate to have informed decisions on the relative danger of recreational drugs that are likely to be mixed. ED99/LD1 seems extreme, but maybe not ED80/LD20.

It's hard to kill yourself on GHB.

GHB combined with alcohol or another suppressant is very very dangerous though.

That explains the very strong anti-GHB messaging at alcohol-serving establishments, such as clubs.

So, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that we're considering OD risk of recreational drugs, not on their own in a controlled, clinical environment, but, rather, at a club or party, where a sufficient number of people have at least 1 drink already in them and 1 more on the way plus a few cigarettes' worth of nicotine, that we can generalize that to "everyone".

> I can go buy a plastic handle for $10 and if i drink the whole thing tonight i'll probably die.

I'm intrigued by what a "plastic handle" is, and google isn't helping for obvious reasons. I assume its a slang term but I've never heard or read it before. (I'm in the UK.) Care to elaborate?

A handle is a bottle size in the US, 1.75L. Often made of plastic since its so big it would weigh more in glass, and perhaps because the kind of booze you buy in that quantity ain't luxury.

And, pertinent to the name, such a bottle will often have a handle built in.


Thanks, never seen anything like that in Europe.

Related I think some of the risk factor is vector related along with bodily reactions. Drinking too much leads to vomitting - while in the wrong circumstance potentially lethal it is expelled. One can't sneeze out cocaine or shoot heroin out of your veins autonomously if the body had too much.

Dose standardization does clearly help judging by the nasty side effects of overdosd deaths spiking after pill mills were shut down. It is not a panacea however - tolerance varies as well. It is why trying to get clean can be ironically dangerous. Things start going south and they try their old "standard dose" again after losing tolerance when it is enough to kill a 300lb man with no tolerance built up.

I wonder if legalizing weaned rehab would help. Like say cutting their dose by 25% repeatedly.

On a related note I wonder what role genetics play with it. It would be nice if susceptibility could be read from a genetic test so they could say "Don't worry about restricting opiates for him - he'll get weakened and would always want to get off them asap anyway but he shouldn't drink alcohol when stressed or take cough syrup but should avoid stimulants for their personal addictive potential."

I know personally from legitimate medical usage there are high potential for abuse drugs that for me have me wondering how anyone could consider it fun.

> sneeze out cocaine or shoot heroin out of your veins autonomously

It's an extremely complex system, but notice that prohibition has actually altered the way we consume drugs. For example, coca leaves can be consumed rather harmlessly. But for smuggling purposes, it's concentrated into powder. Then, its black market status makes it a sign of the wealthy and well-connected. This doesn't hold for all substances, but it's worth remembering. You do see a portion of e.g. pot smokers who have to push it really far and do dabs of highly concentrated THC. But then again, many users of pot just vape a little concentrate to minimize lung damange.

> legalizing weaned rehab

absolutely. If people want help getting off drugs, we ought to facilitate it essentially like healing a broken leg. We kind of do this with methadone, but laws make it risky and far from perfect.

> genetics

it is known that certain genes increase likelihood of alcohol addiction. It's probably the same for many other substances, too.

> high potential for abuse drugs that for me have me wondering how anyone could consider it fun. ugh same here. Had to take hydrocodone after surgery for a week. That was one messed-up high for me.

GHB is a tricky drug. Not enough and you feel 100% normal. Too much and you pass out and become unresponsive for several hours.

It's very hard to dose.

> Drug prohibition has been a categorical failure in every outcome it was intended to achieve.

Possibly you don't understand the intended outcomes.

1. Provide for the ongoing growth of the FBI's empire once it became apparent that prohibition was going to end.

2. Provide an easy pretext for locking up blacks and hippies/ anti-war protestors. This according Erlichman, one of Richard Nixon's closest aides. https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-...

Protip: Often the stated reason for a policy is not the real reason.

See also "for the children".

> He was quickly shut down by Theresa May, who categorically ruled out legalisation or even decriminalisation [1].

Britain is the biggest exporter of Cannabis in the world. The 90-acre farm in the UK is owned by British Sugar, which is owned by the husband of the UK's Drugs Minister (facepalm). Second to that, Theresa May's husband works at a firm that is the largest investor in... you guessed it, British Sugar.

Why would Theresa May and the Tory co want to legalise it? That'd mean competition, admitting you've been lying for years, and a big dent in your profits.

I have no doubt that as soon as the Tory government is out, we'll see actual progress (in many other areas too).

Yeah, well it's either that, or the significantly simpler explanation that involves very simple electoral maths: the tories are going to get exactly 0 voters to cross over on this policy, but tons of core tory voters might stay home on election day.

I don't know. A lot of Tory voters today will have medical complaints and be informed enough about medical cannabis to want to try it. Recreational use would be nice, but I'd be less angry with the world if we got medicinal use through. Theresa May by categorically denying recreational use doesn't just show she is doing her job badly, it shows how much she is out of touch with people. Add to this her apology about Grenfell and not being sad enough.

So, this is about legalisation - I can totally see medical rescheduling working (and nobody seems to have countered Sajid Javid's announcement yesterday). It's a step in the right direction, but it's still a while to go to undo most of the ills of the war on drugs.

this is the problem with our current implementation of democracy. it's more of a popularity contest than it is about doing whats right & best. It's bloody hard to think of an alternative that would work better in this front, while also avoiding risks of turning into a dictatorship, though.

hopefully someone smarter than me can think of a way.

And if they did want to legalise it someone else could use exactly the same evidence in the opposite direction! "Of course she wants to legalise it. Her husband owns the cannabis farm!"

We already have many problems caused by alcohol and cigarettes, costing taxpayers billions in unnecessary expenses. I get it, people need to escape reality they live in. We know that some weed smokers end up schizophrenic and that in general smoking weed weakens one's will, so in many cases we end up with grown up children going only after the things attainable by easiest efforts. There are also some legit medical uses that might help a wide range of disorders; those are fine regulated the same way as medical heroin or amphetamines are. However, why open another Pandora's box, add another bunch of disorders to the open, inviting people that would have never used them before, causing them issues? Nobody knows how would their genetic makeup respond to even first absorption of a drug. I.e. the minimal requirement of justice in preventing harm to innocents would be violated.

If you however like post-justice post-truth world, then anything goes. Why not accept all hard drugs, all sexual deviations, all violent or manipulative behaviors then? It's natural anyway, observed in animals daily, isn't it? The hard line must be placed somewhere, or not?

Sugar and fried food cause more health problems than marijuana. Refined sugar can cause serious problems for people with diabetes and is not at all a required part of our diet, so why is refined sugar legal?

300,000 people die every year in the USA due to obesity related issues, compared to 70,000 deaths due to drug overdose. Obesity is the biggest public health crisis in the USA, but is largely ignored as it's seen as a personal choice to die of diabetes.

My purpose in life is not to slave away creating wealth for society until I die. Why does it matter if someone escapes from the world whether by taking drugs, playing in video games, or engaging in kinky sex? Are we supposed to go to work to advance society, then come home, eat dinner, make some more children (missionary position only!), and then sleep?

> all sexual deviations

We're currently in the middle of the long process of realising that a lot of things that were thought to be harmful or ""degenerate"" actually aren't, and that more harm is done in suppressing them; conversely a whole range of ""normal"" behaviour is non-consensual and actually harmful.

Maybe the line should be like they have over in Czechia - weed is illegal but police ignores it for single individuals as necessary evil addressing human weakness, but prosecutes sellers and manufacturers. So the "hard line" is given, i.e. legally the line is not pushed more towards hard drugs as next generation might argue "we have weed legal, why not heroin? It only affects some people!", pushing the line further, damaging more people because some can't or don't want to attain mastery of self-control and delayed satisfaction.

BTW, when you look at the beginning of communism in Russia, they tried these kinds of experiments and it fell like house of cards in ~20 years, leading them to be even more repressive than what their conservatives would be. Our estimates of what is harmful are too often incorrect. I am not saying that the algorithm in law we have now is perfect, but it's definitely organic and a result of many optimization procedures. It could be local optima, there could be much better optimas, but it's hard to predict if a given step leads to another optima or wrecks the whole civilization like the Chinese population addiction during Opium wars.

> It could be local optima, there could be much better optimas, but it's hard to predict if a given step leads to another optima or wrecks the whole civilization like the Chinese population addiction during Opium wars.

Ask yourself, why is it that almost every society on the planet had access to opium during this time period, but it was only the Chinese who suffered government destabilizing consequences as a result of opium availability?

The answer is that opium was weaponized in China by the British. The British government (along with some rather wealthy US citizens) essentially forced opium onto the Chinese population in an attempt to equalize trade deficits. This was effective at not only re-balancing trade in favor of the British, but also weakened the Chinese population considerably, allowing for Britain to more easily control the population.

You know what happened whenever the Chinese government was finally like, "hey this stuff is harming our population, we're going to attempt to curtail the widespread consumption of opium"? The British intervened with full military might, crushing the Chinese resistance and forcing the continued exploitation of the Chinese people. Twice.

The reason opium was so destructive to the social fabric of 19th century China is that opium was weaponized, and as a result it fulfilled the role of any other weapon.

I do believe we need to discourage hard drug use, but criminalization simply isn't doing that.

You mention cigarettes, and cigarette usage has actually been dropping pretty dramatically over the last few decades. This is because instead of prohibition (like was tried and failed with alcohol) the government took the approach of educating people and creating social pressures to get people to stop.

The same could absolutely be done with heroin et al. Create places where people can legally buy and consume heroin (under the supervision of nurses) and all the while advertise how terrible it is and offer addiction counselling etc.

The problem is that such a system would have to be run with the explicit goal of getting people to stop and the US's fondness for running everything privately would be disastrous in this case.

Smokers at least, and im sure it would also apply to alcohol abusers, actually costs less money because they die much faster and easier (conveniently usually just before retirement age), they are offered less health treatment options overall because of their smoking, and they miss out on the most expensive healthcare, old age care when you need two hips, two knees, and 30 medications a day.

The idea that smokers cost money to take care of is pure myth, and in most places they end up paying more in sin taxes to the state than they receive for life medical care costs.

Alright, I was under impression that a typical mid-term oncological care often needed for heavy smokers is still very expensive - were there any recent pricing adjustments?

Pandora's box was opened by the first sprouting seed of Cannabis on earth. The prohibition came after, so if anything we're talking about a pre-justice world, aren't we?

>Why not accept all hard drugs, all sexual deviations, all violent or manipulative behaviors then?Why not accept all hard drugs, all sexual deviations, all violent or manipulative behaviors then?

Because those things cause falsifiable and measurable harm to society. Cannabis use is by all measures benign while its prohibition actually causing real harm.

> Because those things cause falsifiable and measurable harm to society. Cannabis use is by all measures benign while its prohibition actually causing real harm.

There are unfortunately people that could be damaged by smoking weed, irreversibly, if their schizophrenia proclivity gets activated. Also the easy escape from problems is not in society's best interest - see the ongoing shaming for gaming, where boys are pushed into the "real world" to get some society-benefiting work done instead of them having more fun.

We usually have 1-2 generations that act as guinea pigs on effects of new inventions or discoveries. The wild time with LSD, heroin etc. is thankfully over. Not sure why would we want to backtrack on cannabis, even if it is objectively less harmful. Alcohol & cigarettes are objectively less harmful than heroin etc. but we would be better off without them.

> There are unfortunately people that could be damaged by smoking weed, irreversibly

Perhaps peanuts should be made illegal. There are people that can be irreversibly damaged by consuming peanuts.

If we’re goi to be consistent and ban or regulate substances because there might be harm to an incredibly small minority then sadly there would be very very few legal foods, medications, etc. hell we should probably ban strobe lights as well.

On another note you’d probably be disappointed to hear research and use of hallucinogenic substances has been on a sharp rise. So it seems those wild times you’re fearful of are returning.

> wild times you’re fearful of are returning

I am not really fearing them for the sake of myself (well, except for the rise of violence/poverty they might cause). I can actually benefit from it myself by estimating what junkies would be willing to pay for and moving my e-commerce business into that direction, like what many are cynically doing now with older women and pet food. But I pity them, would rather see people achieving their full potential instead of getting their quick fix and wasting rest of the day on silly things. I just think by enabling (even if lighter) drugs, it would have profound effect on progress of our civilization, meaning no advanced space travel ("flying saucers"), no more improved physics, no faster computers, because if everybody is happy from smoking the weed, content with their life, why would they want to push frontiers of civilization? And frankly, I don't want to see USA/Europe end up as India, that has strong historic traditions of hallucinogens intervowen with their culture, together with tantric Buddhism suspected as the main reason of their millennium-long decline and abhorrent societal divisions.

I think you’re making some quite wild assumptions about motivation and impact of the use of various substances.

If you looked at those that literally are making those profound advancements you’re worried about losing, you’d also often be looking at those that moderately and recreational partake in some of these substances.

The people that partake but still excel aren’t as visible as those that don’t get themselves off the couch. You mistakingly assume that it’s purely about escapism and wasting away as a result.

I think you’d be quite surprised at the number of successful, motivated people that don’t feel the need to get a “quick fix” that partake.

Many find it helps creativity for example (and research backs this up). If you’re going to put any stock in research then the assumptions your making about motivation and impact simply doesn’t jive with what’s being observed.

It’s all beside the point anyway. Ultimately we have to decide what the role of the government has in regulating things like this and what metrics it uses to decide. Whatever those are they should be consistent. From my point of view though they’ve been anything but that. With so many prescription drugs being more addictive, more deadly, and often with fewer potential benefits than substances that are restricted even from research it’s hard to reason about.

The majority of the drug policy is less about the science (both medical and social) and more about perception and politics.

A quick aside. If it’s escapism you have an issue with then really the entire entertainment industry should be in your laser sights. Capitalism definitely has a strong embrace of promoting and capitalizing on escapism. Drugs are hardly a significant contributor here.

EDIT forgive the rambling nature of the post.

I think it's inevitable we research what exactly drugs do to people as science progresses; I am strictly against exposing the whole population to it though. What I would be in favor of is to give adults a choice to take those drugs for 20-30 years but require them to be enrolled into a health monitoring system so that the effects could be researched properly and then an informed judgement be made (only for those persons that don't posses known risk factors). So removing the stigma of "junkies" by willing participation (license + mandatory insurance?), regulate it on manufacturing side, but also place an obligation on users to provide some benefit to society as well in better understanding of how human body works. Of course, there would be automatic limitations imposed like participation in sport competitions, high-risk jobs etc.

And ramblings are fine, it's always refreshing to read somebody's unfiltered opinion; even in disagreement it sometimes removes some innate tunnel vision ;-) I agree with what you've written about escapism.

I think that’s a legitimate approach. Though I personally think all substances should be decriminalized (rather than legalized) as in the case of things like heroin addiction the addicts fear of punishment and the stigma keeps people from seeking help and ultimately we should want them to seek help.

Alcoholism would exist with or without alcohol being illegal, the only difference would be that drinking alcohol would be more dangerous for those wishing to drink responsibly and those drinking irresponsibly would have less options to become well.

Regarding these other substances though I wholeheartedly agree real research is needed. It’s one of the really tragic things about the war on drugs actually, that research was completely stopped. Even if you keep a substance illegal, researchers should still be allowed to investigate these things. There’s life changing non mind altering treatment for cluster headaches for example that has been nearly impossible to research until recently and even still it’s never going to see the light of day in this political climate around drug paranoia even though it has zero mind altering impacts (it’s a chemical related to lsd where they modified to remove the altering effect).

I’m pretty ok with substances being banned (albeit not my preference) in general as long as research is allowed to continue and the ban persists based on information produced from that research. I.E. it’s not based on fear mongering but science.

Another aside, one of the main reasons I think decriminalization (for all) and legalization (for some) is pretty compelling is that it makes it a lot easier to regulate to ensure the products themselves are safe. A large number of the safety issues simply comes from people obtaining unsafe/fake products. Though regulation you have consistency. Nowadays with recreational marijuana you can see the lab report for every single product. Back in the day you just had to rely on some shady character telling you “it’s good”.

People are going to be doing these things, keeping them illegal in the way we have been (serious jail times for personal possession) only creates more harm and cost to society rather than alleviate it (the supposed goal). The war on drugs has created a quite insane cost through mandatory minimums and three strikes laws.. if the goal was to reduce cost to society we’d have saved money providing government supplied drugs to addicts. If the goal is to “save” or prevent harm to addicts, locking them up and making them felons seems to be having the opposite effect. They fear seeking help, and once caught up in our penal system it’s hard to escape.

So what part of criminalization is really benefiting us?

> There are unfortunately people that could be damaged by smoking weed, irreversibly, if their schizophrenia proclivity gets activated.

I don't think we need to enforce laws on everyone just to protect a very small minority of people. That would be like making grapefruit illegal because it interferes with some peoples' medications in a potentially dangerous manner.

Your view is justified and valid, but have you considered what happens to those same people you care so much about now? They just get some from street, and it's not only impossible to reliably notify them of any danger, they risk incarceration afterwards as well. That's not mentioning questionable quality of street drugs and substance lottery. You might be tempted to say that without legislation population exposure to the drug may be lower, but I'd argue it's impossible to objectively measure it when people are afraid they get jailed if they somehow slip and let it be discovered they do it. I bet the actual percentage of people using drugs is much higher than you think.

It's difficult to figure out proper approach, I agree. However, there also must be a strong negative reinforcement for the sake of learning - e.g. inserting one's hand into hot flowing lava should scar one both physically and mentally so that this person and anyone seeing them doesn't attempt the same.

I know a guy who was fairly smart and decided to take LSD at university in his "teaching assistant" room, and make notes about his experience. Something went wrong during his trip and he ended up confronting some kind of demons. Previously purely rational person within a year switched to become a seventh-day adventist. Since then I simply couldn't trust his judgement anymore; not because he became religious, but because something really damaged his brain on his first trip.

Another person I knew was a brilliant winner of math and informatics Olympiad. Decided to try heroin once. Dropped out of university the following year, spent a year working in construction, went to a lesser university, dropped out after two years. A talent gone.

Some drugs ("krokodil", meth), seem to give pretty brutal feedback about their use, e.g. literal zombification of humans. There are so many horrible stories...

It's really complicated as a human has to go against their own nature to override brain's pleasure complex, often also against their friends, tribe, customs etc. while the whole world keeps saying: "Just take it, it's normal, everything will be fine", and 10 years later finding themselves one step from abyss. I would rather convey a strong message: "It's not OK, don't ever do it!"

I was born in a pretty rough city of a pretty rough country and it was a popular past-time for my peers to get a hold of some non-prescription meds and overdose on them hard to catch a glimmer of a trip. I'm sure a lot of them damaged their mental & physical health doing that. If those exact drugs were illegal nothing would change, except the label of the drug. I think stopping people by law is pretty pointless and highly ineffective, so maybe alternatives are better.

As I said, those substances are natural, for many people they would be beneficial as well for some specialized uses, like improving one's medical condition. But leaving humans in pure nature "as intended" destroys civilization - regulating behavior is necessary (even if I personally don't like it and tend to think "I know better" when I don't).

I would propose an experiment - let's look into history and see which civilizations propagated and which went extinct or ended up zombified in a non-progressive isolated state. I'd bet there will be quite a few where "substance abuse" went through the roof, and those that restricted it either completely or moved it to a dedicated "crazy week" (Bacchanalia?) prospered and progressed. Seems like hardships are necessary for progress/motivation(?), short-circuiting pleasure centers with drugs doesn't move society towards higher complexity and beauty.

> We know that some weed smokers end up schizophrenic and that in general smoking weed weakens one's will, so in many cases we end up with grown up children going only after the things attainable by easiest efforts.

I'm concerned about things like this too, but ultimately the only way forward is to let some societies experiment with it and face the consequences. I hope it doesn't become a global UN thing.

The irony of Brits saying these things specifically, is that they were one of the first to formally study the social effects of cannabis, as early as 1894 - and before all the Anslinger madness. Here's what they found - note the conclusion especially:

"In regard to the physical effects, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all. There may be exceptional cases in which, owing to idiosyncrasies of constitution, the drugs in even moderate use may be injurious. There is probably nothing the use of which may not possibly be injurious in cases of exceptional intolerance.

In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind. It may indeed be accepted that in the case of specially marked neurotic diathesis, even the moderate use may produce mental injury. For the slightest mental stimulation or excitement may have that effect in such cases. But putting aside these quite exceptional cases, the moderate use of these drugs produces no mental injury.

In regard to the moral effects of the drugs, the Commission are of opinion that their moderate use produces no moral injury whatever. There is no adequate ground for believing that it injuriously affects the character of the consumer.

Viewing the subject generally, it may be added that the moderate use of these drugs is the rule, and that the excessive use is comparatively exceptional. The moderate use practically produces no ill effects. In all but the most exceptional cases, the injury from habitual moderate use is not appreciable. The excessive use may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not clearly marked. The injury done by the excessive use is, however, confined almost exclusively to the consumer himself; the effect on society is rarely appreciable. It has been the most striking feature in this inquiry to find how little the effects of hemp drugs have obtruded themselves on observation. The large number of witnesses of all classes who professed never to have seen these effects, the vague statements made by many who professed to have observed them, the very few witnesses who could so recall a case as to give any definite account of it, and the manner in which a large proportion of these cases broke down on the first attempt to examine them, are facts which combine to show most clearly how little injury society has hitherto sustained from hemp drugs."


I just want to point out that GHB isn’t so dangerous as you point out, relative to the other major drugs (not least of them alcohol). See https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Rational... for a nice graphical summary.

You can go to a liquor store today and purchase a lethal amount of alcohol for about $20. And it’s lawful to advertise the stuff. GHB is less harmful, but it’s illegal.

It's pretty hard to drink a lethal amount of liquor though, it's a lot easier to consume a lethal amount of GHB, probably easier than any other recreational drug (or club drug at least). I also think one of the big concerns with GHB is people spiking drinks. It's incredibly easy to slip into a drink.

At one of the nightclubs I go to, they have fairly prominent signs warning about GHB, and telling you that you will get a lifetime ban if you're caught with it. Most other drugs will just get confiscated (and often consumed by the bouncers), or at worst kicked out for the night.

I'm having a hard time understanding the scale of that graph. Benzos are a 1.75 but cannabis is a 1.5 in regards to dependence? Amphetamines (Adderall) are 1.75 in regards to physical harm, but anabolic steroids are only 1.5?

Depends on where. In a lot of Europe (and afaik also Canada) alcohol purchasing times are heavily regulated to combat binge, especially youth, drinking. For example no alcohol sales past 9pm, no sales before 10am etc.

And you can’t advertise drinking. You can promote brands, but not drinking directly. Which is weird and I don’t know how the line is defined, but it exists in at least some countries I’ve been to.

Well "a lot of Europe" really means Scandinavia. To be precise it is only Norway, Finland and Sweden where alcohol is sold only by one brand of state owned shops.

As far as i know you can drink whatever you want, when you want after you are 18. Notable exception is Germany where from 16 you can drink undistilled drinks like beer and wine. Oh we had lot of fun when i was 16 on our school trip to Germany. Good times.

About advertising i think it applies again to Scandinavia.

Overall i think people have pretty positive drinking habits in europe. Most people try it early and drink quite regulary meaning they can manage it without much problems.

Ontario, Canada is similar: state-run shops have a monopoly on the sale of alcohol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquor_Control_Board_of_Ontari...). They're about to do the same with weed ("in September 2017 the Government of Ontario announced that the LCBO would be the sole vendor of recreational marijuana to the public in that province").

17% of young people (16-20) classify as "heavy drinkers here (Netherlands). I thought our youth were some of the most problematic drinkers in the world, but when looking it up, we actually aren't. It actually improved recently. Still I think that kids should start drinking later and parents are a bit too lax about it.

It is difficult question. For many people it is unfortunately one of the prominent ways how to relax and socialize (even more so in the internet age - most of dates = alcohol).

My experience (not scientific one) is that most of the people i know who have serious problems with alcohol nowdays are almost exclusively those who had very strict parents. Alcohol and drugs were heavily stigmatized in their families and once they are 18 (or out of parents homes) they just go nuts and can't handle it. People who gradually try alcohol tend to have much healthier approach to it.

I don't think prohibition works. Education does.

> About advertising i think it applies again to Scandinavia.

Poland, too, with the exception of beer (and this is still subject to many restrictions).

>But penalising the end user is not the solution

But the UK has seen that penalising smoking, by banning it in public indoor spaces and imposing massive taxes has lead to the massive reduction in people smoking and an increase in peoples health. It's not banned, but such a penalisation is a solution.

(and the UK want to follow this strategy for sugar)

I think this has to do with the psychology of disgust sensitivity. Conservatives tend to have stronger senses of disgust than liberals and especially libertarians. "Smoking weed is stinky/gross/icky, therefore we gotta ban it."

Here's just one article on the link between disgust and political leanings: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/caveman-politics/201...

As a personal anecdote about this, I support decriminalization/legalization for all drugs in all cases, not just pot. I not going to debate that here, but only share that to provide context for the following. Last year I visited Los Angeles. The entire time I was there I couldn't get over how bad everything reeked of marijuana. The AirBnB I stayed at was fine, but as soon as I walked outside and as I toured around the city I simply could not escape the smell of weed. It reminded me of the 80s when there was cigarette smoke everywhere, and it was highly unpleasant. I still support legalization, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that experience had me wavering.

I think this is the first good argument I’ve ever heard for legal strictures on marijuana use. The analogy to cigarettes is perfect and proves the original point about legislation: when it starts bothering other people, there’s room for restrictions. That was always the case for legalisation of drugs: “it’s my body, I’m not putting anyone else at risk.” Well, smoke inside only, don’t have windows open because it stinks. No children around.

I could, honestly, completely get behind that.

> Conservatives tend to have stronger senses of disgust than liberals and especially libertarians.

The evidence for neurological origins of political orientation is definitely something that deserves to be more widely known about. In my experience it is rare to see it discussed, and I wonder if the idea makes people uncomfortable.


> I think this has to do with the psychology of disgust sensitivity. Conservatives tend to have stronger senses of disgust than liberals and especially libertarians

Hague is no other than a former Conservative Party leader.

The Norwegian government is led by a Conservative Party, too - and they're in the process of decriminalizing illicit drug use.

Legalizing cannabis undercuts the opiate industry's monopoly on pain management.

I don't use cannabis but based on what the NHS has to say about it (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/cannabis-the-facts...) it's probably not a great idea to use it for most people. However it is important not to waste tax revenue going about trying to stop people in a heavy handed manner. The biggest issue with it seems to be around driving, much like alcohol. That is a real problem and people should be made aware that they should not drive under the influence.

That document you linked to is laughably outdated and filled with propaganda, not scientific facts.

> I don't understand how politicians can stand up and claim that legalisation would have substantial negatives, when every experiment with legalisation has been a success.

When facing that kind of behavior, I always remind my self that at some point, people advocated against trains because the speed of it would cause eyes damage by watching through the windows and moving that fast from one place to another would have terrible psychological impacts.

While you are referring to a different country...since I was a teenager I basically don't pay attention to laws. I would not go out of my way to break them but I personally don't care if I do. I probably broke three laws since midnight...whoopty Doo.

> Obviously we want to restrict access as much as possible to particular drugs

It's not obvious to me. The fundamental question is, does an individual own their own body? If the answer is yes, then don't try to restrict what I can do with it so long as I don't harm anyone else. If the answer is no, well, then we need to firm up exactly what the arrangement is supposed to be.

I guess it depends on your philosophy of government and society.

If you live in a social democracy with universal healthcare, drugs policy should probably be based around harm reduction. This is why helmets are required on bicycles (in some countries, for better or worse) and you need to wear a seatbelt in the car.

It's your body, but the public has to pick up the tab when you break it.

I don't think that you should be able to go to the pharmacy and buy heroin or methamphetamine off the shelf. The potential for abuse is too high.

However, as I said, people will find drugs if they want them. If I wanted to buy some heroin, I could find some within 30 minutes just walking down the street. I really don't know what the solution is.

Heroin, for one, is not any more dangerous than a lot of prescription drugs we're happy to hand out like candy when it is medical grade in predictable doses.

It's not the most addictive drug around. It's not at all the most dangerous. It's not all that much more damaging than a lot of other drugs we're happy to let people take.

Almost all of the worst damage caused by heroin today is caused by treating it as a criminal justice problem rather than as a public health issue. If people could seek medical advice safely, could get clean drugs, could get alternative forms (e.g. a lot of people end up injecting heroin because oral oxycodone is too expensive on the black market once they get cut off from their prescriptions), it would not solve all of it, but it would solve most of the problems.

So start there if the problem you want to solve is the cost to society. Heroin is mostly a politician-created problem, and at this point there is sufficient knowledge that frankly I consider any politician still supporting the continued prohibition of it morally equivalent to mass murderers. They are knowingly making decisions that kill people in large numbers.

To the extent there still is a problem after legalising these drugs, look at actual health-focused interventions, rather than turning people with a health issue into criminals.

I think this is a slippery slope. Drug legalization shouldn't be about reducing harm to optimize cost effective economics of keeping people alive. If that were true then you would have the power to outlaw anything that isn't healthy in the name of saving public tax dollars. Cigarettes. Soda. Deep fried foods. Watching too much TV. Sky diving. etc.

Drug legalization is about using public funds on other issues besides individual drug users, reducing prison populations for non-violent drug offenders, offering those in need treatment instead of incarceration, removing an income stream for gangs

Drug legalisation is about corporations making a lot of money providing yet another thing to keep a good section of the population docile and in their worker pens.

Why do you need prisons when people will voluntarily imprison themselves?

Conservatism is the instinctive rejection of change. For conservatives, the possible is limited only to what is and what has been. All the rest opens up to unknowns, risks and chaos.

But would it be the gateway to heavier, and illegal/dangerous, drugs?

I've never been persuaded by the "gateway drug" argument - as if you're destined to seek more exotic or intense highs once you've tried one type of drug. If it were true then a huge amount of UK university students would end up as heroin addicts or something.

The only part of this "slippery slope" argument I can believe works in favour of legalisation. That there's got to be some amount of "well I've tried weed, it is illegal and my experience proves that what I was taught about it in school was a lie - why not try coke/mdma/ghb/etc..". I don't know how common this line of thinking is but it's certainly something that was on my mind a LOT after I was smoking weed in uni.

Everyone who's tried meth has drank water.

While true, that’s not going to convince anyone. A better argument, from what I’ve heard, is that the real “gateway drug” is underage smoking.

Drug use is a moral failing, it sounds like you just don't like the morality. Morals are not necessarily what is convenient or fun or pleasurable.

In some interpretations, moderate use is not a moral failing, but heavy or compulsive use is.

All that applies to alcohol as well, so I agree if we're going say that alcohol is legal, then other drugs used in similar ways should be legal as well.

A moral failing according to whom? Why should we listen to your arbitration on morality?

Canada now has a huge head start in the West for business to develop legitimate markets that will have a strong hold for decades. I wonder how many U.S. businesses will move because of this. We all know where the money will be.

California, where marijuana is now legal since last year, has a greater population than all of Canada.

Related to that, each Canadian province has the ability to further regulate marijuana (within guidelines). Thus, there isn't one Canadian market, but a bunch of smaller markets.

I wonder about climate too. CA has way better weather to grow almost anything as evidenced by it's agriculture industry. I would expect Canada's grow season to be much shorter. And obv weed grows well under grow lights, but that costs money so I would expect California to have major economic advantage.

It's much easier to get quality control in a closed environment than outdoors. And legal marijuana is driven strongly by quality as a market force. Illegal marijuana, on the other hand, is more about volume than quality, particularly when you consider interdiction-based losses of entire crops or shipments. So outdoors makes a lot of sense.

Except that it is illegal still depending on who you ask.

Hasn't seemed to stop investment in new companies yet!

This is a great and underrated point. We were handed a huge economic advantage over the US and other western countries in terms of developing the talent and infrastructure to support weed sales.

I know someone involved in the industry in Canada and they flew to Uruguay, the first country to legalise it, to learn from them and create connections. This role will be pioneered by Canada in many ways and it's much different than decriminalization.

There's tons of money to be made long term, not just within Canada but exporting knowledge and systems. I have a feeling this will be influencing many parliaments and congresses around the world to look into doing the same and other partner countries won't be far away.

>>...talent and infrastructure to support weed sales.

It is a plant, a crop like any other. As a practical matter it is no more difficult than farming apples or corn. (It actually grows wild over much of Ontario.) The only specialized infrastructure is that dictated by regulation. Sure, Canada does have a jump on building out the regulatory infrastructure, but that isn't something we can sell. We aren't going to be exporting that infrastructure to other countries because they will have their own regulations demanding a different infrastructure.

As for supporting weed sales, there are "experts" on selling pot in every country in the world. That skillset is well understood. UBC will not see a wave of foreign students looking to lean the mysteries of how to sell weed. We aren't going to see Canadians flying around the world establishing new markets and trade links. This stuff is already being grown in closets from Dubai to Alaska.

I'd suggest that it is closer to hops than apples or corn. The primary metabolic end products are volatile oils contained in a flower rather than carbohydrates produced in a fruit/vegetable.

Metabolic engineering via genetic alteration has much more potential here since the types of oils produced can vary significantly, making the biotech aspects of growth more important than conventionally farmed produce.

The growth infrastructure will have to interface with the same plant and will have significant similarities regardless of the scale and accounting requirements you are limited to by regulation.

It's no more difficult, but farming apples is not the same skill set as farming corn. Yes, many skills will transfer but the details need to be worked out. There are many questions that need answers before being successful -- especially on an industrial scale.

One thing Oregon has spent a ton of time dealing with is how to test pesticide levels, THC, and CBD. There are apparently technical issues that make testing difficult and it sounds like it is still needs improvement. Apparently heavy pesticide use is almost universal in growing marijuana and quite a bit remains in the final product. Developing better pesticides would be one thing a national legalization might help with.

It is my understanding that Canada has world-class expertise in greenhouse cultivation of edible crops, including tomatoes. Many of the out-of-season crops, such as tomatoes available to the US comes from Canada (though here in Phoenix, much of that comes from Mexico).

That expertise has also been exported, to people trying to set up greenhouses in Minnesota (US).

I used to be a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture, basically buying food direct from farmers) that was setting up a new greenhouse every year, mostly for tomatoes and cucumbers - popular crops that are vulnerable to the challenges of Minnesota weather.

As an aside, they also raise heirloom-variety turkeys. Minnesota is the #1 turkey state in the country, great area for it, and 99.9% of the turkey sold is a single breed. The heirloom breeds are rare (and delicious, and expensive) treats.

There's a lot more to the weed market than just plant, harvest, sell. When I was in Seattle, the legal weed stores often stocked close to a hundred different strains of the plant alone, plus a huge array of food, candy, beverages, accessories, etc. Selecting your inventory and dealing with suppliers takes knowledge and skill, just like managing a grocery chain.

A street dealer who may, on a good day, have half a dozen random strains available may have a small head start, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Most plants lie in a group that are harvested differently to other plants. Is it like tea, where different leaves provide different grades, or do flowers and leaves and stalks get separated? Presumably the more woody parts will go to hemp-like products (clothing, paper, beer, whatever!). The industry around that exists already but will presumably be developed ahead of other countries if demand makes for a lot of 'waste'.

Presumably, modern farmer techniques like indoor vertical farming might produce better yields.

The valuable part is the flower. Plants need to be carefully groomed (preferably in a closed environment) to sex them immediately and kill any males, to prevent seeding. (Seeds are a sign of poor quality control.)

Stems, leaves, and trim are probably just composted, although I suppose leaves might be processed to extract oils.

I recently visited Colorado on vacation, and got to visit a few legal dispensaries with my pothead companions (I'm not, but they are). It was a remarkable experience. Everything is totally focused on quality, and product differentiation for the marijuana itself was all about the best possible product with particular desirable characteristics. With few exceptions, price was a flat rate of $220/oz across the state. So maximizing yield is not nearly as important as maximizing quality. This is a connoisseur market. There was also a strong market for edible products (cookies, candies), oils, and other extracts.

It's also mostly an indoor crop. When I was in Oak Creek, a tiny town in the mountains, my host pointed out four different "grow room" buildings, basically urban farming operations.

It was interesting to talk about it with my host's fiance, a retired cop from Detroit (who is a part-time local cop there now). He thinks it's great, and marijuana laws in most states are just wasteful and stupid.

Ontario winters are too cold for any wild / feral plants to survive.

"Despite industrial hemp factories shutting down the plants previously cultivated for fiber, the hemp plants have naturally re-seeded and now grow wild in states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Indiana, and Minnesota."


If anything will convince people that global warming is real, it will be wild pot plants surviving Minnesota winters.

I live in Colorado. We've had fully legal weed for 4 years.

Plus, our govt doesn't restrict sales to govt run stores.

California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Maryland all beat Canada to this. Hilarious that you seem to be oblivious to this.

BTW, California alone has a higher population than all of Canada.

By legitimate do you mean able to bank? Because that's the only real drawback I see in the legalized states. And it doesn't seem to be that big an issue worth losing your US consumer base over, since I assume no way in hell can they export to legal states.

A) Cannabis is already legal in a bunch of states and there are tons of US based start ups in that space already.

B) Because cannabis is a controlled substance, Canadian companies will have no way to participate in local markets in other countries.

There’s a pretty long standing industry in California for medical, and with the recent state legalization, recreational sales. More people and more affluence.

I have a very simple world view which, I guess, could be considered a radically liberal one: everyone can do as they please as long as it doesn't tread on the same rights of another person. You want to inject, snort or sniff something? Go ahead! It's your body, after all. Neither I, nor any government should have anything to say about this. Obviously, you should not operate a vehicle while intoxicated and we need to have a conversation on who pays how much for health care -- but are we going to punish obese people too...? So that's a more complicated conversation but in itself no drug use should be criminal.

Along these lines I only have one question: why only cannabis? (I am Canadian.)

Because of its popularity and its relatively benign effects. It isn't a drug that will induce addiction or cause long term health damage (well... that we know of). And it certainly seems much less harmful than the other psychoactive drug that we have legalized (alcohol).

But I think popularity is probably the biggest factor. Its when you see your own family/friends' family being destroyed by criminal convictions resulting from marijuana use does it create a strong push to legalize the stuff.

> why only cannabis?

You've got to start somewhere. Bear in mind legalization didn't pass with sweeping support, the Conservative right is still largely opposed.

Isn't there some friction here with regards to nationalized health care? Society at large will pay for the poor health decisions of individual citizens.

If cannabis use results in higher health costs.

However, the preponderance of research suggests a null hypothesis at worst and a reduction in cancer rates and opiate dependency at best.

And more: If it results in higher health care costs than the savings realized in law enforcement, judicial proceedings, and prisons.

They're asking about legalizing other drugs with more severe health and societal impacts (potentially meth, heroin, PCP, etc)

I’m honestly curious how many people don’t do drugs solely because it’s illegal? How many people are thinking “I’d love to try meth; if only it were legal!”

Related: I'd take steroids if I could do it legally under the supervision of an endocrinologist, with products that have all the audit-trails of modern pharmacology (rather than "Bob's basement grow juice"). But the alternative seems too risky to me, especially since it's illegal and the consequences of being caught in my case are quite severe.

True but would that have any effect on health care? I was more specifically referring to people using hard drugs because it’s no longer illegal.

Judging from places where decriminalisation has been introduced, there is very little overall change after a small bump immediately afterwards. As you say, most people who want to and aren't prevented from doing so by e.g. work requirements are already doing so given the prevalence of drugs.

If you're going to reason about the effects of this the collective society you must also consider the cost/benefits of continued prohibition to the society as well. We are already paying for the decisions of the state to imprison people under prohibition. Is this cost more or less than the cost incurred to national healthcare of individuals poor health decisions?

Fair point, but you could say the same thing about skiing or any other potentially risky human activity. The point of society isn't to minimize health care costs but to maximize happiness.

In principle, it’s mostly other consumers of canabis who will pay, via a “sin tax”. That’s already the case with cigarettes and alcohol.

I think that would be a classically liberal view rather than a radically liberal one. As in, French Revolution type of classical.

The opposing view is that the people of a country have a responsibility to protect every citizen of their country. By enacting prohibition on certain substances we attempt to protect our citizen from that substance so they can live a more full life.

I do agree that drugs should be decriminalized and that the money we spend on enforcement should be instead spent on public education and rehabilitation to prevent people using them and help people stop using them.

That's also typically the libertarian position (e.g. there shouldn't be victimless crimes).

If you mean Ayn Rand style libertarianism I refuse that. I also believe we should have a society that works together and helps the less fortunate.

> we should

This has nothing to do with libertarianism, most likely the opposite.

> you should not

But (what if) there's a correlation...

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