Food?  Drug?  Medicine?  Herb?


Name Your Poison

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

- Rudyard Kipling

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society.
If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs,
we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

- P J O'Rourke

Below is the Table of Contents:
There are 20 pages in this section.

These articles illustrate different aspects of the herb/drug/medicine/food problem.  What emerges is the feeling that if you take something which gives you an advantage (whether physical or social), and that advantage is denied me (even if only because I shun the risks entailed), then we have a drug which, in fairness, should be strictly controlled, expensive to buy, or else banned.  The same is true if there's a disadvantage involved - that is, if I'm likely to become disadvantaged enough to possibly require money from you for my repair (with fast food and coffee still exceptions - expect them to be regulated someday).

From my journal Saturday 4 June 94 (underway halfway between Nabouwalu Bay and Suva):

From the April 1994 issue of Mensa Bulletin, in a letter to the editor by David Jon Krohn entitled "Legalised Drugs":

The Amsterdam classification of drugs includes coffee, tea and chocolate in the "softest" group.  The active ingredient, caffeine, affects some users in a recognisable way.  These are often taken with sugar (which some believe is also a drug).  Caffeine changes behaviour (witness the office whose coffee machine is down); users seek it regularly; there are recognisable withdrawal symptoms.  The "soft" group also includes marijuana, LSD, peyote and fermented alcohol.

The "hard" group includes distilled alcohol; the highest "hard" category contains the drugs heroin and crack cocaine.

Fermented alcohol (beer, wine) is ranked lower than distilled alcohol (whiskey, aquavit).  Cocaine appears on three levels in different forms - it is made from a lower-level drug (coca); it falls in the middle; with further treatment (and possibly adulteration) it ranks as a higher drug - crack cocaine.  Heroin is made from opium and outranks it on the list.  Hashish is made from marijuana and ranks higher.

Better drug laws would enable governments to disseminate more accurate information (less biased by distorted legislation whose passage was prompted by special-interest groups).  People could be encouraged to learn that drug abuse in any form is an admission of failure to function optimally, that addiction need not be to a drug taken by mouth, nose or needle - anything (objective or subjective) causing pleasurable chemical changes in the brain, if the body comes to depend on it and hurts without it - including chocolate, tv, evangelical meetings, voluntarily working with AIDS patients, masturbating, or reading romance, adventure or science fiction novels - is addictive in susceptible persons.

In the 23 July 1994 issue of The Economist (an article entitled "Lonely Pleasures"), I read that the pinball game known as pachinko is the single most popular recreation among Japanese white-collar workers - a mindlessly simple game to play: flip balls and hope they fall into holes.  If they do, you win more balls or a prize.  There once was an element of skill, but this is eliminated in modern games played on a computer.  It's a sad game, played alone.  Essayist Tsutomu Hayama writes:

The amount of space allocated to each player is extremely small but Japanese are accustomed to a confined space.  At the pachinko parlour they sit in front of a machine, absorbed and fascinated.  Movement and sound are diverting and enable players to experience a blank state of mind and enjoy a sense of detachment, completely heedless of surroundings.

Realising that experimentation with drugs (one of the many ways of achieving altered states of consciousness) is common enough to be called "normal" - at least during young adulthood - should the use of those drugs having the desired effect but with the lowest abuse potential be encouraged (or at least allowed)?  Progress comes from trial and error.  Should people, where possible, be allowed to shape their own lives?

Bodybuilding and Other Athletic Pursuits - winning can have a very high price...
The Green Economy - the fellers all like it...
Smoking Marijuana Does not Cause Lung Cancer - And some other stray facts.  And people...
     Starbucks Generation - employer-approved wiring
The Eight Million Dollar Couch - Sanitation workers picked up a sofa on East 137th Street in New York, and when they placed it in the back of the truck to be compacted, white powder was released...
The Latest Rave - methamphetamines, ecstasy, and the new drug, paramethoxyamphetamine [PMA]
A Case of Cold Ones - alcohol may be costing you more than you think.
Don't Be So Hyper! - pushing pills is big business in schools...
Black Market Prescriptions - parents selling Ritalin
Parent Approved Drugs - the questions is why.  Oh - and one other thing: addiction to knowledge...
Politically Approved Drugs I - was Nixon a drug addict?
How Drug Companies Spin Doctors - Reports provide drug reps with up-to-date feedback on just how effective they've been in persuading their doctors to prescribe the 2 or 3 drugs each rep pitches.  They are schooled for weeks in a variety of sales techniques, memorising tightly crafted speeches and volumes of data on their products; some are even trained in personality profiling to help them guess whether a physician is more likely to respond to reams of scientific research or to schmoozing...
Politically Approved Drugs II - putting someone in control
Politically Approved Drugs III - kava use in the Pacific Islands
Nicotine - about half of the cigarette smokers who have a cancerous lung removed will continue to smoke...
Cooked Food - Smells of cooked food entice eating in people not normally hungry.  So, for many, does even the sight of products containing refined sugar (candy, sodas), refined flour (French bread, croissants, pastas), or both (pastries).
Television Addiction - self-described addicts are more easily bored and distracted.  They used tv to distract themselves from unpleasant thoughts and to fill time.  Other studies show heavy viewers are (surprise!) less likely to participate in sports and more likely to be obese...
Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Addiction - Every single day, for hours - forsaking work, school, whatever - plugging away getting experience that soared far beyond the average user's.  We were indestructible...
Living Better Through Chemistry - Some people smell fear in potential business partners.  Others smell a rat.  But individuals who smell a the chemical oxytocin become unusually trusting of others in financial transactions.  Dopamine agonists, on the other hand, can cause compulsive gambling in susceptible people...
In Conclusion - If control must be imposed from without, it will always entail great cost to administer because the number of people who need controlling is quite large.

Drug prohibition is really, says Richard Glen Boire, who holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from UC Berkeley, "a war on consciousness itself - how much, what sort we are permitted to experience, and who gets to control it.  More than an unintentional misnomer, the government-termed "war on drugs" is a strategic decoy label; a sleight-of-hand move by the government to redirect attention away from what lies at ground zero of the war - each individual's fundamental right to control his or her own consciousness.  Why are entheogenic-induced states of consciousness prohibited while those prompted by the constant advertisements and come-ons to buy consumer crap, vacuous television-watching, endlessly grinding it out on a soul-destroying job, and a permanent wartime economy, to take just several egregious examples of a culture empty and superficial through and through, considered acceptable?  I believe because the powerful and privileged are afraid of the alternate realities these substances can show us."

Boire adds significantly: "Those who have never experienced the mental states that are now prohibited do not realise what the laws are denying them."  Mary Jane Borden calls opposition to drug prohibition part of the "age-old fight against bigotry."  She maintains that the struggle against "chemical bigotry" is part and parcel of the ageless struggles against the bigotries of racism, sexism, colonialism, and imperialism, and for democratic rights.

Source: Under The Influence : The Disinformation Guide to Drugs by Preston Peet (Editor) from a review by Tracy McLellan (Chicago)

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