Overweening Generalist

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Drug Report For January 2012 (Late Edition)

Okay, so I'm late. What are ya gonna do, fire me? I'm a volunteer here, and besides...what's that? Why am I late? I was too stoned to make it here on time. I ain't gonna lie to ya. You know how it is; it warps your sense of time. You're like on a meditation, a real strong one. You're free from the "mind-forged manacles" that Blake talked about. Yea, I don't need cannabis to get there, but it helps. I like what one Rastafarian said once:

"Man basically is God but this insight can come to man only with the use of the herb. When you use the herb, you experience yourself as God. With the use of the herb you can exist in this dismal state of reality that now exists in Jamaica...When you are a God you deal or relate to people like a God. In this way you let your light shine, and when each of us lets his light shine we are creating a God-like culture." - from The Rastafarians: Sources of Cultural Dissonance, by Leonard Barrett, p.108, found in Erik Davis's Nomad Codes, p. 245 (I venture to guess about 75% of fans of Robert Anton Wilson would LOVE Erik Davis's book, but it's your call.)

Only I'm not that hard-core about it. And Berkeley isn't Jamaica, no matter how bad our economy is now. Leonard Barrett's book came out in 1977. A crapload has happened since then. That seems like 200 years ago to me, even though the calendar says 35 years ago. But: if we were free to be godlike in the way this Rasta-Man asserts, here in 2012 Unistat, would our culture improve? I tend to think yes. Which brings me to Obama and pot laws, crazy-making stuff.

Brief Note on Cannabis and Its Grey Status in Most States
Before the Barackstar got elected he said, famously, that "Of course I inhaled. That was the point." And he supposedly told Attorney General Eric Holder that pot laws, medical marijuana, and what the states do would be a low priority. And he seems to have lied. Some of you are way all over this story, or set of stories. I don't want to recap the Obama Admin's shift from early 2008 to now, but it's pretty ridiculous on all counts, if you ask me. I don't see what their argument is. I don't think they have a decent justification for cracking down in states where people have voted to legalized or decriminalize medical pot. This is a huge can of worms for me, and won't go into the minutiae, and believe me, I could if I wanted to...
                                                             Jack Herer strain of cannabis. 

So: in talking to my friends about WTF and the current state of cannabis affairs vis a vis The Feds, I find that cannabis hero the late Jack Herer (who has a strain of wicked bud named after him), author of the underground classic The Emperor Wears No Clothes, has had a big influence on the conspiracy theory that Dupont, Monsanto, and Big Biz thinks legal pot would cut into their interests. That's the short story; you've probably heard it and maybe think it's about right. But not long ago I wrote to Dr. Dale Gieringer (PhD, Stanford) of NORML, asking why he thought cannabis was still illegal.

Here's my Q and his A:

Dear Dr. G-

Would you please direct me to your writings that address the deepest reasons why pot is still illegal? I recognize you as one of the deepest thinkers on the subject and would greatly appreciate any and all recommendations for reading on this particular topic.

[Dr.G responds]:
My views on the subject are expressed in the conclusion of my article, " Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California" http://www.canorml.org/background/caloriginsmjproh.pdf
(page 32f).
The blame for the marijuana laws rests squarely on the drug cops and the law enforcement bureaucrats who created them.  They wrote the laws, they enforce them, they have built their careers on the notion that they are necessary to protect the public from making bad drug decisions, and they are the major force lobbying legislators and Congress to keep the drug war rolling.
Okay, this makes sense to me. I'm not saying the Big Biz model is wrong; it's probably influential. And I think in 1937, when Johnny Law first really cracked down hard on pot, the Big Biz model was probably stronger then. But the cops need to justify themselves. It's SNAFU to the nth. 

The question is: how and when will we finally extricate ourselves from this monstrous idiocy? 

Sugar Demonization
Okay, before you've had your 22 teaspoons of sugar for the day, swallow this one: Recently researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have determined that sugar is practically like tobacco and alcohol, maybe even heroin - I'm putting non-sugary words in their mouth - but get a load of this article.

One of the lead researchers acknowledges that everyone will cry "Nanny state!" but that they're trying to get rid of the nanny state here, because the FDA has every sugar you can name on its GRAS list (Generally Recognized As Safe). The food industry can put as much sugar into anything they want; I guess I see the argument. If I squint. 

Chronic epidemic diseases are heavily linked to sugar, which is so addictive, the researchers say, that sugar needs to be regulated and taxed, with age limits on who can buy it and where and when it can be advertised. They say we're all so strung out on sugar that public education campaigns are hopeless: public policy must be used with "brute force."

Echoes of the tobacco lobbyist's arguments from the food and beverage folk were predictable. But I think they do have a good point when they say, yep, we put a lot of sugar in the stuff you buy 'cuz the Unistatians love that stuff, BUT: the real problem is that people are more sedentary these days. "Inactive lifestyles," is what they charge.

I also find the anti-sugar researchers' point persuasive that, 20% of obese people have a normal metabolism and no ill health effects, while 40% of "normal weight" people have metabolic problems from sugar use, leading to heart disease and diabetes, both of which take a huge toll on health care costs. Sugar is the difference here. Not plain "obesity." Interesting...

The 22 teaspoons of sugar per day (Hey! How about taking those 22 teaspoons as soon as you get up in the morning, then go cold turkey the rest of the day! On second thought: don't.) comes from the anti-sugar researchers, who I think are probably right about sugar as an addictive drug that leads to all kinds of problems. But I have a very hard time seeing anything done about this. If some cute kids shanghai me outside the Quik-E-Mart and ask me to score some sugar for them, I probably will. And you just know they'll be stealing it if a Good Guy like me doesn't come along. And then the cop/law/prison/parole complex will get the Sugar Fiends to further justify their bloated salaries. A 17 year old gets 8-10 for committing an armed sugar holdup. Said he and his friends just "wanted to party." And a DA with a stick up his ass the size of a Louisville Slugger sends the kid to the Big House. Fat slob prison guards with egregious pensions will be laughing and eating Reese's Peanut Butter Cups right in front of the Sugar Fiend Inmates, their chocolately saliva dribbling down their sequence of chins, their revolver handles getting sticky. Gawd, we're one fucked-up society.

                                        O! Those evil powdery substances! Why can't we control?

Will it get that bad? At this point, regarding the demonization of sombunall drugs, I'll believe anything.

If anyone has the taste for more on this sugar mania, I'll throw two articles at you, HERE and HERE. Both of those articles make the compelling point that sugar substitutes are even more dangerous than sugar itself. 

This sugar issue leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I do think we all ought to eat less, period, and certainly eat less sugar, and exercise more. But I'm not for the State getting heavily into trying to make us do "the right thing." 

Regarding my first bit on pot, coupled with the second drug deal, sugar, I'm reminded of the observation that Professor Carlin once made: you can always tell when the really good pot has hit the town you live in, because when you go to the grocery store, the cookie aisle is littered with half-opened packages, crumbs and whole cookies all over the floor, etc.

Drugs In The Water and...Air Supply?
Well, you've decided to exercise some self-control and, in lieu of smoking pot (well, waking and baking) and eating sugary foods, you've started doing yoga every day, and you're cycling. Good for you. You're clean! Isn't it great? 

Now, if only you didn't have to drink water or breathe air. (Wot?)

It's all-too-easy to find articles on what's in our tap water: antibiotics like Keflex, antidepressants like Prozac, cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor, pain killers and tranquilizers like Vicodin and Valium, birth control pills, seizure and chemotherapy drugs, farm animal steroids and hormones, and all kinds of industrial cosmetics, solvents, and detergents. Yum! I got a contact high just writing this paragraph. Not a good kind of contact high, either. 

No one - certainly not the EPA, which the Republicans want to gut - knows what the trace effects of this incredible drug cocktail have on us. The Germans seem out in front on this. I think we ought to really look into the effects of this. We do know that there are more drugs in the tap water near retirement communities...for reasons I don't think I have to go into.

How does this happen? Well, all the wonderful stuff we ingest doesn't metabolize completely in our bodies; some of it we excrete, it goes to the sewage treatment plant, and is not removed by the system, and...lah dee da...it ends up in your glass of water you're using to wash down your Ibupofen or birth control.

Glass half full?: Next time you're feeling lousy, do the cheap thing and drink a very big glass of tap water! Sure, you don't know what you're getting or how much, but you just might get something good.


We do know that aquatic life suffers the most from our drug habits: marine biologists have noticed small ocean, river, and lake life evince both male and female aspects they didn't have 20 years ago. Earthworms and plankton have definitely been affected. Some male fish, affected by hormones, have become "feminized." 

Hey! Maybe there's a way to get the Republicans worked up: if you gut the EPA, we're all gonna turn GAY! Now where's your John Wayne/Ronnie Ray-Gun rugged Murrrkin masculinity? But I digress, as is my wont...

Some sources say your carbon-activated filter gets rid of some of the drugs, but not all. A New York Times article says don't get your hopes up. Boiling water won't help. Bottled water? Please. 25% of it comes straight from the tap, and the companies that sell the stuff admit they ain't testing for drugs..

Bottom line: until we know more, don't flush your expired meds down the toilet. For now, let 'em go to the landfill, where they'll leach into the water supply from there, but at least it's localized. 

Couple more sources for this item: HERE and HERE. Have fun! Oh and not that you asked, but it's impossible to know if your foreign-made pharmaceuticals were safe to begin with.

Tap Water: suddenly it sounds like a good name for a heavy metal band.

Now the air: Some of us worry about ozone, smog, particulate matter, and pollen. Now let's worry about drugs! (Or not.It's up to you.) How do you find out where people are smoking a lot of pot or cocaine? Well, it's time-consuming and expensive and you're not quite sure how accurate your findings are, but you look at police reports, do public surveys and ask people to fill out anonymous questionnaires. Until now.

Researchers in Italy have found a much cheaper and probably far more accurate way to find out this information: test the air. Yep, our instruments are getting that good. So far, they don't think the trace amounts of cocaine or pot are of any concern to residents, but I'm going to go way out on a limb and predict they find an "unusually high" amount of cannabis in the ambient air in San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, and Vancouver.

So what have we learned? That if you hold your breath forever and don't drink any tap water, you'll be "clean"! 

I'll try to make it on time next month...or is it this month?


ARW23 said...

Great post! (Perhaps not so great!?) Now I am paranoid.

michael said...

I think we can all relax, knowing we're going to die one day - possibly pretty soon - and then all the paranoia and worry and stress will be gone.

Isn't that comforting?

ARW23 said...

Thanks for that comforting note man. It helps me sleep deep. And it reminds me of "Letter to Menoeceus" written by Epicurus:"Death, the most dreaded of evils, is therefore of no concern to us; for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present we no longer exist." (How simple!)

michael said...

I'm glad you were comforted, and I like all those classically Stoic "why worry about death" quotes (although IIRC, Epicurus was stoically epicurean?)...anyway.

What was it Woody Allen said about death? "I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens."?

Woody also talked of immortality, paraphrasing from memory: "Some people want to achieve immortality through leaving great works. I'm different. I'd like to achieve immortality through...not dying."