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August 31, 2006

Hometown boosterism

The New York Daily News explains why New York has largely avoided the recent spate of fentanyl-related drug overdoses that has claimed the lives of more than 200 Chicago residents since April 2005:

New York may have avoided the scourge so far because the city is a major hub for illegal drugs, which means the local supply tends to be purer, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said.

It's nice to see that the NYDN has its priorities in order. Local boosterism trumps the war on some drugs every time.

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One of many arguments that can be made for the legalization of drugs. As awful as it sounds to most people, there would be great benefits, and a reduction in overdoses is just the beginning of them.

Legalizing fentanyl or other injectable opiates, maybe, maybe not. Injectable opiates should perhaps be available on a prescription basis to people who are addicted. If someone prefers heroin or fentanyl to methadone, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to get it. Methadone’s major advantage just being that it can be taken orally and because one dose lasts all day, the administration of the dose can be monitored in a clinic. If someone is addicted to opiates (which can be determined with an injection of nalorphine), they arguably have a medical condition which symptoms can be treated with drugs, i.e. dope. If they’re given just enough for themselves, they might share or sell a little, but they won’t be the source of an epidemic. This should of course be coupled with broader patient services like health care, counseling, job training, and the like. It would be expensive and many junkies simply prefer the life and the rush of the needle, but it’s cheaper than trials and incarceration. In any case, I prefer junkies getting dope in a clinic rather than from a dealer using money they got from selling stuff they swiped from me.

I know they’ve tried something like this in the U.K. and the results were apparently mixed. Many addicts could get jobs and live lives not much different from insulin injecting diabetics, but it didn’t stop the illegal trade in opiates. I have no idea how seriously or not the approach was taken, how funded, what agencies, how integrated with law enforcement, etc. Legalized opium dens might work. You could go there and get legally hammered, but you wouldn’t bring any out to sell. Smoking opium also has a decided health advantage over street heroin: no needles, reducing risk and spread of communicable disease and the repeated assaults on the user’s immune system from the crap dope is cut with. Which latter includes stuff like talcum powder which gets lodged in capillaries in places like ones eyes.

Only a small proportion of the population is likely to get addicted to opiates even if it were freely and readily available. The proportion would certainly be larger, probably much larger, than the current fraction, but I doubt that it would ever even approach say, four percent. Think about it. How many people do you know who don’t like narcotic analgesics because of their (very) common side effects: dizziness, dysphoria, nausea, constipation, sleeplessness, grogginess, and worse, like vomiting and hallucinations? Also, you need to stay pretty much continuously wasted for many days or weeks to actually develop a dependency. If you’re one of those folks that honestly does enjoy a fistfull of vicodin or percocet, and here I must confess I’m one, do you really like it enough to stay stoned for days and days on end? Most people don’t, what’s more, most people find the high boring. Most of us are not Rush Limbaugh.

In the nineteenth century opium, and it’s tinctures laudanum and paregoric, were available at any druggist’s yet we weren’t beset by armies of addicts. While I would be very careful of who has access to injectable narcotics, I do think we could loosen up a bit. I don’t see why I can’t go to a pharmacy and just get some god damned meperidine or hydrocodone or something when I’ve got a sore throat or broken bone that’s making my life hell. Yes, I can get it with a doctor’s prescription, but when I’m sick as death I don’t feel like going through the hassle.

If you want to have a narcotic analgesic at hand for when you get influenza or break a bone, or whatever, you can grow opium poppies in the back yard. I’ve done it for years. Florists sell the seed pods, seed can be bought on line, or you can just collect seed pods from plants you find. While not common, one does see opium poppies (as opposed to Iceland, oriental, or corn poppies) growing here and there along streets and in gardens. Making actual smoking opium requires a lot of poppies –like enough to attract attention- and is a lot of trouble. If however you just want an effective analgesic available, you just freeze a few bags of the unripe, milky pods. It makes a very vile-tasting tea which can, however, be choked down with sugar and nutmeg. You’re hardly likely to pursue this as an avenue to addiction, but if you, for instance, crush a toe or two under a falling cinderblock wall, as I did last year, you’ll be glad you put a few pods in the fridge.

Wouldn't that be detected in a drug test? In that case, many people holding semi-professional jobs are rather locked out of that remedy.

Don't even get me started on drug testing. How exactly you can read the fourth amendment (The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. . .) and interpret one's bodily fluids as not being among one's person or personel effects is beond me.

Don't even get me started on drug testing.

I agree, but unfortunately, legal rights don't extend to employment contracts. You can be fired for speaking out, despite the 1st. Submitting to drug tests is just one more condition of employment. Some companies are now trying to enforce smoking bans--as in you may not smoke at all anywhere if you want to work for them. (Their excuse? Health insurance.)

And what's this fentanyl stuff? I'd never heard of it until it was a plot point on some TV show I saw last night.

Granted, an employment contract is not the same as a police investigation, and airline pilots and train engineers should be subject to more rigorous scrutiny than others, but still . . . When you think about it, snooping around in another person’s urine is really more than just intrusive, it’s perverse.

Chicago boosters will want to stress that it, too, is a hub. Fentanyl supply has always been spotty & localized, fentanyl ODs much more so. To get OD clusters you’ve got to have incompetent people cutting it, & cutting is almost always done (again) locally. It’s not in the dealers’ interest to undercut (underdilute) it, since it kills customers, uses up the supply faster (price & weight per bag are much more standardized than quality), & draws police attention, as in this case. Better to cut strong but not too strong. It’s far from an urban myth that a few ODs can be good advertising, a form of quality signalling, but I’ve never heard of a dealer intentionally killing anybody to signal quality. The vast majority of users who get slipped fentanyl get it in properly cut form & don’t OD. If it’s cut to be stronger than average bags, addicts like it, but cut for comparable physiological effect, the effect is inferior, one of the least attractive opiates. Reader, stay away.

Physicians now use buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone/Subutex) as well as Methadone in substitution therapy. Results seem to be as good or better, & it's administratively much more convenient & has much less potential for abuse (as a mixed agonist/antagonist).

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said "that in most of the deaths, the fentanyl was made illicitly" Having seen Charlie Rose have a one on one with Comm. Kelly, i would say that Ray is serving NYC well in the finest sense of the word. The paper article pinpoints the balloon in numbers and a bubble can be drawn around that topography. The fact that the word is getting out from the street health observers via Ray is commendable. 100,000 guesstimate doses of Eight Ball Delux (or its local street name)
may be from a syndicate in the distribution bubble zone of hot cap deaths. A human tragedy in any country. Staying on focus of the paper article, it would seem to me that the alert to the street is as neutral and stright forward as can be stated.

KH, one of the great privileges of blogging is learning new things from commenters. Thanks.

I don't want people to get the idea that I support the war on drugs. On the contrary.

I just think it's funny to hear a little inadvertent sanity from the New York Daily News, which devotes hundreds of column inches every year to silly drug bust stories. "Investigators seized (X) pounds of (Y) with a street value of (Z), which is a significant accomplishment in the war on drugs."

The traditional media coverage of the war on drugs is absurd in the same way that diet magazines are. Why would anyone buy a year's subscription to a weight loss magazine when every issue promises a scheme to lose 20 lbs in 30 days. Doesn't the fact that people need subscriptions say something about the gimmicky diet approach to weight loss?

Likewise, you'd think that city editors would cease to consider these drug busts as news. Or at least that they might wonder at some point about how the police have been striking the same "critical blow" (no pun intended) against drugs for years and years.

You can grow your own fresh Opium.It takes a lot of pods and the plants are very delicate until they get an inch or so tall.the best seeds come from Canada such as Turkish Commercial and Afghan Special.The seeds are legal to buy unlike Marijuana seeds.You can make a good "high time" tea from the dried pods.You can't tell the difference between Papaver Somniferum poppies and the regular kind.This whole addiction thing is blown way out of proportion.As long as you do Opium on lets say,weekends,you will never develop a tolerence or habituation.You won't chase the dragon.You can't OD,only nod off to sleep.Unlike it's refined products Morphine and the even harsher Heroin which has a very narrow safety of margin,Opium can be used safely your whole life.

"You can make a good "high time" tea from the dried pods."

Maybe you can, I can barely gag the stuff down. Milky pods make a tea that's a bit more palatable.

Sort of apropos, when I was in high school, I lived next to a place now called Annadel State Park in Northern Calif. where Chinese stonecutters once hewed paving stones (most bound for San Francisco) from basalt. If you rummaged around through the poison oak in the old tailings piles, you could find rusted quarrying equipment and 19th century household articles, among which the holy grail was little opium bottles. There was no opium left in them obviously, but local collectors coveted them. I never found one, but I saw a few that others had.

"You can't tell the difference between Papaver Somniferum poppies and the regular kind."

Papaver somniferum is the regular kind, that is, the kind whose seeds you find in your muffin. I know a lot of the cooking poppy seed now comes from Tasmania and Turkey where they let the plants grow till the pods are dry or almost dry. (They must be using a variety that has pods that don't open when mature.) They then harvest the whole plant, recover the seed, and process the rest as "opium straw", extracting morphine and codeine. India also produces poppy seed along with legal opium produced the traditional latex way. I’ve never tried to germinate poppy seed from the supermarket, assuming it has probably been heated to kill the embryos. I don’t know though.

An interesting Indian website describes the legal production there along with typically obstreperous and counterproductive demands from the US government. - www.uwmc.uwc.edu/political_science/opiumprod.html

General information on poppy & opium here –
www.plantcultures.org/plants/opium_poppy_production__trade.html

More stuff-
/www.poppies.org/

Dried "Hens and Chicks"pods make a good tea.You can get them by the box for $150.000 US over the internet,all legal like.No need to grow your own.Grind them up to a fine powder in a coffee grinder then steep the powder in a fine strainer.The tea is very nasty tasting and needs to be mixed with Lemon juice and Honey.Then gulp the tea down quickly.Some people get constipated and nauseous on Opium tea,but the nod phase of the tea is worth waiting for.As long as you don't do it all the time,you'll be fine.

Anybody out there know much about Amsterdam,Holland?I've been there twice back in the 70's.Has it changed much since then?I used to see people sleeping in the underpasses and no one would bother them.Is there a good
bar district to go to?Near the town square I believe.Are the hostels still open and are they more expensive now?How cold does it get there in the winter time?I used to get drunk at the Heineken brewery,can you still do that?Please advise.

Let's go back to some of the most horrifying facts about the drug war; incarcerating people and ruining their lives for what they are mostly just doing to themselves and no one else - they wouldn't be out on the street contributing to the underground economy if they didn't have to hide.

We are so sick in this country when it comes to acceptance of human nature; humans have been having a need to rearrange their realities since as far as we can go back - why are we in denial about what we are? I have been hiding my need to party on opioids every now and then all my life because of fear of the law and the social taboo in mainstream society against doing it - never mind the people who cast judgement on me are as addicted to something as everyone else is (william bennett and his gambling problem, anyone?), just how long are we going to continue with this senseless WAR AGAINST OURSELVES?

I grandi vecchi delle dittature mondiali si spengono. Fidel è grave e ieri è morto Pinochet, ironia della sorte nella

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