Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Where is the success of the CDSA?

As I walk around Surrey I see the real evidence of failure everywhere I look. People ravaged by hard drug and alcohol use are numerous. The malls are full of zombies bereft of humor looking for something they can't seem to find. You can see this everywhere in Canada as well as the world. Has no one in government stopped to asses their policies and where they are leading society? Do we only come out in happy drunken revery for sporting events and the rest of the time we slink around under a crap consumerism marketer's spell? I can see why people who have been to jail more than once don't seem to fear it. Too bad they settle for such a small valueless trade-off to access their return holidays. I see tattoos on their arms claiming to want wealth or they will have death. In my opinion they settle for neither.

I suppose that the model of materialism driven by corporations via an addiction to consumerism is not very rewarding in itself. People must feel cheated by the so called rewards of this society to turn to substance abuse in the numbers they are. There must be something in the equation that isn't adding up as per claims made. Also the model of criminal sanction, harsh as it may be, doesn't seem to control the problem. It appears that the criminal prohibition of some drugs replacing control and regulation is what is actually making a lucrative enterprise out of drug distribution, especially the most addictive/harmful substances. While building up the police state response to match the increasing violence of powerful organized crime the problem gets continually worse.

By classifying such drugs as MDMA as being extremely harmful contrary to the evidence it makes their profit margin much more rewarding as the demand increases with publicity. Do you not see the increase in the trade happening right before your eyes? Do the Christian /religious right wingers only want increased punishment at the expense of an ever increasing more violent trade in these substances as the outcome? Does only their moral stand matter, not the proliferation of drug abuse to an ever younger market? Once the young start using these substances, no matter how safe compared to alcohol or tobacco they are, they will have learned to choose substance abuse rather than real life. They do that in respect to alcohol and tobacco today, and in the dangerous numbers that they access Ecstasy, Marijuana, and even crack or crystal meth. One of the reasons youth start smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol before they are of legal age is because the are classed as "legal" drugs and therefor seem to be more acceptable in society's eyes to youth. To actually tackle the major problems we face in relation to substance abuse we must make a dramatic change in our approach to the problem. We must understand that this is a mental health not a moral/criminal problem.

The gateway drug abuse problem is our misunderstanding of why people are reaching out to access altered states in the first place. For adults to drink alcohol and watch a hockey game is an adult right as it should be to walk through the park on LSD. Neither activity differs substantially in the context of normal behavior unless either substance is misused and others are placed at risk. Who will think of obeying a law when either substance is within reach and the choice depends on what altered state one wishes to enjoy. The choice involving LSD will likely bring about a deeper introspection and spiritual connection from which personal growth and mental expansion might occur. The same goes for Marijuana compared to alcohol or tobacco. The fact is no amount of criminal interdiction will eradicate the human desire to achieve these altered states and that has been proven over millennium of drug use by every society of humans that has ever existed.
The only interdiction that has proven to work is that treatment of the social context in which substance use is respectfully considered and given its rightful space in the lexicon of human activity. When the use of such substances as LSD and MDMA is elevated to a spiritual learning development, then we will see people who seek to learn accessing it. The party goers will dread the intensity and supercharged experience, while people who wish to get a grip on their inner selves, their propensity to addictions of all kinds, including materialism can safely without being classed criminals expand their understanding. Certainly these psychedelic substances which have the power to raise awareness can lead to a resurgence of spirituality to ward off the empty effects of consumerism for those who seek them out. There is nothing to fear here, rather the reintroduction of safe respectfully accessing these altered states could actually begin to fill the empty pews in churches again with true seekers of the almighty rather than withered closed minded self righteous bigots who always seem to think that it is their duty, not God's role, to judge their fellow man.

Had a great visit with a councilor/advocate whom I can relate with. He is an old warrior in a state of peaceful growth who has been in recovery for over a quarter of a century and in this field for about 15 yrs. What endeared him to me was has sophisticated Zen-like views on life and the fact that he has about 300 acid trips under his belt. What we talked about was the fractional effects of addictions on an individual and how to move on we must rebuild, reconstitute ourselves, not necessarily in a new way, giving up old goals, but on a revamped personal foundation. A continuous growth/exploratory mission should I accept it. He had great insights with examples from his life and I felt close to him in my understanding of life. Plus he had some practical help with referrals to job oriented and life skills advocacy. We spent two hours in a wide ranging discussion and I did catch some glimpses of hope. He saw corporations as an expression of a human trait, which I found interesting, as I see government/justice as an expression of human genetics. I find his grasp of human addictions very interesting and feel that he has something to teach me that I need to learn to move forward on more that the legal harm understanding. He doesn't seem to be a phony. There appears to be a treasure trove of understanding and perhaps real help for me in his counseling. What we also agree on is that addictions are not a moral choice, therefor criminal law would have nothing to do with solving addiction problems. This understanding seems to be the pervasive majority viewpoint of today's mental health professionals.

This is from the Drug Equality Alliance website:
Unconscious social norms v conscious law:

As a species, humans are social animals in the process of evolving consciousness. Social animals unconsciously adopt social norms by means of imitation of role models. This ensures social coherence based on consensus – copy others and you’ll fit in. Likewise interacting human individuals may unconsciously imitate each other’s body language, ‘mirroring’, as means of social coherence. Unconscious consensus norms may be irrational, unconnected to objective evidence and reasoning, and may be unfair, applied selectively to the powerless but not to the powerful, as in scapegoating. Social animals are ruled by the powerful, based on survival of the fittest and self-interest (e.g. selfish genes).

Unlike animals, humans have the ability to make conscious decisions based on objective rationality (the objective assessment of all relevant factors and how they are linked logically by cause and effect) and subjective fairness, (the subjective balancing of value judgments since a decision or action may be good for one group but bad for another). Humans can then establish conscious rules or laws that define how their social group will operate, the limits to social behaviour. Conscious laws can be far more efficient than social norms because they can adapt to our changing society far quicker than unconscious social norms. Human societies are evolving from being based on the rule of the powerful majority, determined by social norms, towards being based on the rule of conscious law, determined by rationality and fairness.

Given their incomplete evolution of consciousness, humans find their decision making inevitably influenced by both unconscious social norms and conscious social laws – ‘if everyone drives above the speed limit, so will I’. The design of laws may be irrational and unfair if they are overly influenced by unconscious social norms; alternatively laws consciously designed to be rational and fair may be interpreted and applied irrationally and unfairly.

The relevance for drug regulation is this: the discrimination between consumers & traders of legally-available drugs and consumers & traders of 'controlled' drugs is based on unconscious social norms and the rule of the powerful majority whereas the law itself, the Misuse of Drugs Act, is consciously intended to be evidence-based, rational and fair. So our fundamental claim is that the law is not implemented in accordance with the law but in accordance with social norms that favour the majority at the expense of minorities.

The relevance for drug regulation is this:
Through the Misuse of Drugs Act Parliament has given Government the legal power to restrict individual rights for the sole legal purpose of reducing harm to society from drug consumption.

There is no indication in the MDA text that Government should exercise their legal power unequally between drugs used by the majority of voters and drugs used by minorities. Government appears biased, using its legal power for a political purpose (gaining the support of the majority of voters) rather than the legal purpose (reducing drug harm).

Global Commission on drug policy
"The war on drugs has failed to cut drug usage, but has filled our jails, cost millions in tax payer dollars, fuelled organized crime and caused thousands of deaths. We need a new approach, one that takes the power out of the hands of organized crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals,” said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom. “The good news is new approaches focused on regulation and decriminalization have worked. We need our leaders, including business people, looking at alternative, fact based approaches. We need more humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs. The one thing we cannot afford to do is to go on pretending the “war on drugs” is working."

Yet in Canada there is no hope as long as the Harper dictatorship implements the America drug war in compliance with its Washington masters. Not any concerns for Justice, or the harm being perpetrated on its own communities, or the safety of individual Canadians, guides our government. Only jingoistic "drugs are bad" statements are offered Mr. Harper, as if propaganda were relevant in this vital issue. The fact is his party only gained 2% in the polls in the last election while a whopping 60% voted for something different from the crap we are being dealt by the former major parties. Idiots are in power goose stepping to right wing ideology already on the wane in the USA, let alone the world. Tough on crime bill slated to be passed in September will help put more violent crime on the streets of Canada.

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