New Strategies for New Psychoactive Substances Policy Day in NYC

This post is really just a repost of an informal brain dump after the conference today that I posted on Facebook, so it’s a lot more informal than other blog posts… I want to get information out there fast, and I will write more of an analysis article over the weekend. I am excited and exhausted by today.

I’m both encouraged and a little discouraged at the monumental amount of work that we, as sensible people, who want sensible drug policy, have to do here in the US to really fix the damage a system that has existed since the 1880’s and just gotten more complicated and mixed up in racism, economic class disparity, and pretty much every “ism” and “phobia” the US has had since even before slavery ended… is going to take – there are some really really intelligent multi-disciplinary teams working on this… from all walks of life, and across almost all political spectrums. Its encouraging to see that, and if anyone that solve it, it is those people.

The sheer magnitude of it is really hard to even comprehend though, I thought the troubled teen industry and private thought reform places were bad enough and pervasive, that’s only a small part of this, and it’s really sometimes too much for my brain to actually fit around.

A large amount of people were familiar with – specifically Straight Inc. and the spinoffs, which was heartening. I felt years ago that we were voices in the Wilderness, and very few would hear our voice. I am seeing our voice, especially with the help of Maia Szalavitz actually having been magnified. The very problem of who the government has turned to as experts in these fields are mostly quacks who won’t even entertain any loosening on Prohibition because it benefits them to keep it going is a known piece of the puzzle.

The magnitude of the “NSP” (mostly research chemicals of all types) problem is a lot bigger than I thought… I’ve seen small pieces of it and was horrified, but our response to it now is heartening, the understanding that data collection, working with law enforcement, decriminalizing possession and use, getting users on board with anonymous data collection. Working with the community to make things better, we are seeing this in Wales. and I was really impressed by the WEDINOS program … if anything that would get me to leave the Computer arena, it would be getting a chance to work on something like that… I think it’s exactly the type of thing I envision what would happen if Law Enforcement, DanceSafe and EcstasyData and being able to collect data on substances found in a given area, keep up on trends, educating users… it’s like amazing. I can’t say enough about that, it’s like everything I could want to see in a harm reduction program that is research based.

I met some really awesome people coming from really awesome places from sociologists to pharma people to activists to historians to journalists… it was really incredible to see. I need to do more of this… I got burned out, and I need to really control my burn, but it’s something I’m really passionate about and its not retraumatizing ALL the time …. (sometimes…. when Maia described Straight Inc and spinoffs, I almost cried… that was tough to hear, because sometimes I look at it as if it was just part of what I went through to get here, and then realized I would be and am outraged it is still happening – nobody deserves that….

I think that might be everything, I did have some questions written down sort of as thought provoking things that came up, and I was good, I didn;t monopolize, and everything I said I thought were things that added to a big picture, and people said it made them genuinely think.

But some were answered in the course of the discussion, and some may have gone unanswered, this is largely from the harm reduction portion, because I am fascinated with the idea of reducing harm to add freedom.

A harm reduction specialist working in the South Bronx, when talking about the K-2 usage reported wildly different effects across batches… I had this question:

Are the possible reasons why we have seen so much varied response to these drugs, the fact that both synthetic cathinones and synthetic opioids have also been found adulterating synthetic cannabinoids?

More General:
Cannabis vs. Synthetic cannabinoids, cost – why? is it the legality or ease of testing of cannabis use that drives K2/Synthetic Cannabinoid use?

and one point I brought up is that a lot of the resistance to ending the drug war doesn’t just come from policy-makers who have outlived their usefulness (if they were ever useful at all… looking at DuPont here… who still has his hand in the cookie jar) but also from the fact there are large parts of our country, our state even driven by the corrections industry, the law enforcement incentive to seize property, the people that their jobs would be severely effected by an end to the results of the drug war. Abstinence only type rehab centers have a lot riding on it, and many are policy-maker types – so called “experts” – this leads to a really bad environment for fixing anything – something has to give.


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