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Memories of the 28th Century

Prohibitionism

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Again, I harken back to that time I wasted last Friday in a meeting regarding access to medical facilities, etc. Some of the many things mentioned in passing included smoking cessation and alcohol and drug addiction programs, which were briefly mentioned as things that the medical industry must address, as if there is anything necessarily wrong or unhealthy with the use of tobacco and various other addictive drugs. Each substance is different, but, as a general matter, they are not unhealthy, regardless of what the medical profession may think. I suppose itís like the man with a hammer. They want to treat people for normal and ordinary behaviors, because they were told to. Humans have been using intoxicants of various types for as long as there have been humans and probably long before that. Humans are not the only animals that use alcohol, and in addition to elephants and chimpanzees using alcohol, there is archeological evidence of the use of psychoactive plants as well. (see link at bottom)

With use of psychoactive materials going back hundreds of thousands of years it seems unrealistic to regard such behavior as aberrant or as a disease that should be cured. In fact, it appears that alcohol is healthy for nearly all people, and nicotine is the most powerful antidepressant that is known. Other plant materials is also advantageous to people and not just as food, but, as with nearly everything, there are people who canít safely use them due to their make up. Perhaps it is the tyranny of the minority that has led to the restrictions on the use of many intoxicants. But it is quite unjust that standards to save a few are forced on the many; most people can use intoxicants safely and do not become addicted, because they donít like intoxication all that much and hate addiction, but there is a minority that does not have that same natural tendency to become bored with intoxicants. The difference probably is in the production of some neurotransmitters and in the numbers of receptors for some neurotransmitters If someone has many receptors of a chemical but produces little of it, then there will be a desire to fill the empty receptors and that person may use drugs to fill those sites.

Even though complete information has been available for years, apparently there are people who donít know yet. By themselves addictive drugs do not lead to poor health or disease (unless one considers addiction a disease). There are receptors in the brain into which the various addictive drugs fit. If they didnít fit into receptors, then there would be no effect and no addiction. While some addictive drugs just happen to be similar in structure to neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain, the brain also produces small of some euphoriants and analogs of addictive drugs. For example, the opiates are analogs of endorphins, which are naturally occurring euphoriants, and THC, an active chemical in marijuana, is produced in the brain.

It is not harmful to consume chemicals that are already produced in the human body, so it should not harmful to consume opiates and marijuana; although consuming anything in excess can create problems. For some reason some people think that recreational drugs will lead to death, even when they are used in reasonable quantities; although that simply isnít true. To support such assertions the death rates of drug users are often cited. That would be meaningful, if the drugs were the cause of death in most cases, but murder, malnutrition, and diseases are the more frequent causes, and many users of banned drugs have underlying physical or mental conditions for which they are medicating themselves, and those underlying conditions are often the causes of death. The fact that opiates are illegal also leads to many deaths

Drug users have a difficult time in the job market, because they are seen as unreliable. That is one of several economic disabilities they face. Users have to pay a premium for the risks to distributors. Together the economic problems they face lead to poor nutrition and poor health, and they are often forced to commit crimes to survive. So they are full-time criminals, forced into a life of crime, because nanny government doesnít like what they do. If the prohibitionist laws were eliminated, then people would be able to buy drugs legally. Drugs that would have been processed and tested by real businesses, rather than criminal gangs, and the risk premium would be gone, so the users could pay a fraction of present prices for a better product. The unfortunate part of this is that it would put many people out of work. I doubt that anyone has figured out how many people are involved in all aspects of the illegal drug industry, but it certainly has to be in the hundreds of thousands, including transporters, enforcers, retailers, bosses, narcotics police, public defenders, jail and prison guards, probation officers, drug counselors, etc. Some new jobs would be created, but typically the one delivering the heroin and marijuana to the corner store would already be delivering other things, but there would be some new jobs in agriculture, storage, and processing.

For full legalization to be truly effective we would have to be careful that any taxes would be reasonable, unlike what has been done with taxes on tobacco, an unfortunate product that has been falsely blamed for many deaths and diseases that had different causes.

The active chemical in tobacco, nicotine, is the most effective anti-depressant that is known. It can be delivered in tiny doses that can take effect within less than a minute of taking the dose. Nicotine uses several receptors, and it does not through the re-uptake process as quickly as most drugs and neurotransmitters The persistence seems to be lead to the growth of additional receptors.
Alas, many deaths are attributed to tobacco that should not be, and that has led to the plant being demonized by many. For example, lung cancer is a genetically programmed response to some materials or damage that goes wrong. Tobacco smoke is one of many irritants that can trigger the onset of lung cancer, but it is simply one of many substances that trigger cells to reproduce uncontrollably; the actual cause is inherited in genes.

In addition to the direct benefits of tobacco use, it also has beneficial effects in regard to Alzheimerís disease and Parkinsonís disease. There had been anecdotal evidence that smoking led to a lower incidence and to a slower development of Alzheimerís disease. Now there has been at least one clinical study that found that Alzheimerís can be cured (reduction in plaques and improvement in memory) with Cotinine, which is produced as nicotine is metabolized. http://www.thirdage.com/news/alzheim...ive_04-28-2011

In addition, there is a strong negative correlation between smoking and Parkinsonís disease, and the correlation was stronger for current smokers than for former smokers, which suggests that there is a causal link, rather than just correlation, but it does not appear that the mechanics of the relationship have been determined.

Smoking tobacco seems to have a few other benefits, but the other benefits in this article appear to be correlations only without an actual causal link having been found. http://www.livescience.com/15115-5-h...g-disease.html
Smokers incidence of Parkinsonís is 60% lower than non-smokers
http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7389/561

Please note that I am not advocating that anyone in particular use any naturally occurring chemicals that have effects on humans, and I didnít forget the details about alcohol and various other drugs, but tobacco has a more interesting story, because it has been demonized more than the others, and its good effects are at least as important and even surprising. Besides, everyone knows how good and useful alcohol, marijuana, opium, and various other substances are. Personally, I have not had any tobacco for some years now; I think it was 2009, but I sometimes feel a desire for a cigarette. After writing this there is a slightly larger chance that I will have another.

Prehistoric drug use
http://www.jrmooneyham.com/prehistor...r-matters.html
LSD patent:
http://www.erowid.org/archive/rhodiu...lsdpatent.html

Updated 10-03-2013 at 03:10 PM by PeterL

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