Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Keeping our heads on "bath salts"

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  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I mean, we are a real country with a proper government who are presided over by the Queen of England, for God’s sake, not some loud foreign chap with a penchant for to much gold braid on his uniform

    Not like the Netherlands or Portugal you mean?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Ray Gilbert, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Still remember that broadcasting in the UK. True television gold

    Meanwhile you have to ask the question - How did Russell know?

    Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Anyway, I'm not saying that the new regime is perfect, or that it can't be messed up by politicians, but it's better than randomly banning everything that pops its head up.

    I think the big problem is going to be the MoDA as it stands. It would be stupid to have an MDMA analog that met the low-risk test and then have to ban it because it's technically banned under the MoDA.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If you want no regulation or quality control of drugs, that’s up to you.

    So the black market supplies quality controlled drugs? In my opinion there should be more emphasis placed upon personal liability (seller) and personal choice (consumer).

    However that doesn’t mean no regulation. I’m in favour of a complete ban on advertising and displaying any psychoactive substance and with access to businesses selling said goods restricted to those over 18. That would mean plain packaging and no booze, for instance, in supermarkets or dairies. That kind of regulation is enforceable and effective imo.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ray Gilbert,

    Meanwhile you have to ask the question – How did Russell know?

    Christ. They're throwing it at everything now, aren't they?

    With all the usual guff:

    Today police said they believed McMurdo, who has previously been charged with growing cannabis, was dealing MDVP known as "bath salts" at the time of his death.

    The drug was new to New Zealand but was widely known in Scandinavian countries and parts of the United States, police said.

    A North Shore man had to be tasered twice and then heavily sedated after taking the drug earlier this month.

    In Toronto, two police officers suffered broken bones in their faces, hands and wrists after being attacked by a man who had taken the drug recently. There have also been reports in the United States of a man skinning himself after taking it and another stabbing himself and throwing his own intestines at police.

    This doesn't seem accidental on the part of the police.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Scott Chris,

    So the black market supplies quality controlled drugs?

    No, the opposite. The only reliable means of quality control is regulation. Like we do for food.

    In my opinion there should be more emphasis placed upon personal liability (seller) and personal choice (consumer).

    It’s just that you have rather less chance of making a sound personal decision if you have no idea what you’re buying.

    The practice in the Netherlands (where MDMA is illegal but tolerated in personal-use quantities) of allowing pill-testing at parties seems sensinble to me. Make it a health issue, not a moral one.

    However that doesn’t mean no regulation. I’m in favour of a complete ban on advertising and displaying any psychoactive substance and with access to businesses selling said goods restricted to those over 18. That would mean plain packaging and no booze, for instance, in supermarkets or dairies. That kind of regulation is enforceable and effective imo.

    I don’t think that degree of regulatory action is culturally possible in case of alcohol. And I honestly don’t think supermarkets are where under-age liquor sales are happening. That’s going on in R18 neighbourhood liquor shops.

    But the British drug reform charity Release has some quite well-developed ideas around non-commercialisation of legalised drugs in general. Part of the problem with BZP was the irresponsible marketing of the cowboys who got on to selling it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And I honestly don’t think supermarkets are where under-age liquor sales are happening.

    But think of the messages you're sending by selling booze at supermarkets! People might get the warped idea that wine and beer go well with food.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Russell's outline of the risks of MDPV got me to thinking around the importance of having real and unbiased information on drugs, especially recreational drugs.
    Wouldn't be very helpful to have a web site sharing lots of people's experiences and info on the wide range of stuff out there now?
    There is plenty in this space for legal psych medications , Drug Watch and for the wider range of medications Ask a Patient.

    The legal prohibition approach really doesn't help inform those with a skeptical view of the government and medical fraternity's opinions.

    Remember Woodstock and the Brown Acid warning . How about that approach from thousands via the web?

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Wouldn't be very helpful to have a web site sharing lots of people's experiences and info on the wide range of stuff out there now?

    Erowid

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    In my view, it's highly likely that no drug (well, maybe caffeine) will get through the new process.

    A doctor or pharmacist could clarify here, but my understanding is that the licencing process for new 'medical' pharmaceuticals balances risk and benefit, so that a new drug for terminal cancer can be much more hazardous than a treatment for man flu. Even then, pretty much all new products start out as prescription-only requiring a doctor and pharmacist's monitoring.

    On this basis, a substance with negligible benefits and limited experience isn't going to be released for general sale through unqualified channels.

    Then there's the fact that any substance, even placebo, will produce side effects. (It would be an interesting experiment to compound some inert food additives, sell them through Cosmic Christchurch, and observe how many hospital admissions they generate).

    One would hope they'll set a higher benchmark, such as 'no worse than alcohol tobacco' or 'no worse than commonly used illicit drugs'. But I doubt it - I think the "I'd ban alcohol if I could" attitude of Jim Anderton is far to prevalent amongst our rulers.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think that degree of regulatory action is culturally possible in case of alcohol.

    Yes alcohol is preciousss and we wants it my preciousss.

    Thing is, if all drugs were legal people wouldn’t need to resort to sniffing propane or suffer the allegedly horrendous come down wrought by ‘bath salts’. (not to mention the apocryphal sanguinary munchies….)

    Crap drugs are a bi-product of crap regulation. The market, if allowed, would select the best drugs.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    One mans trash is another mans treasure.
    Without a test kit on hand , regulation wont ensure that MDMA is that or is MDA that,
    Is that coke , crystal meth or is that speed, ephedrine? Is that speed really now poor mans coke. How can one tell.?
    It will have to be made by pharmaceutical companies to ensure accurate manufacture and then we will be back to a black market to allow all peeps interested to partake or we will have to push legislation through to allow doctors to prescribe on the community services card. And lets face it, with methadone legal, we still had illegal homebake as a replacement for the real thing (which just is so far away thus expensive, to get here).So good luck with that as I cannot see us becoming the new Amsterdam.
    It is an interesting test case to be seen. I await, really quietly ;)

    And how about that lil' bit of paper, such a pretty picture, must be LSD, yeah ok :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Scott Chris,

    Thing is, if all drugs were legal people wouldn’t need to resort to sniffing propane or suffer the allegedly horrendous come down wrought by ‘bath salts’. (not to mention the apocryphal sanguinary munchies….)

    MDVP’s main problem seems to be the tendency to compulsive redosing, which is always going to end in tears. Its effect on the vascular systems isn’t great either. And perhaps as a well-informed consumer you’ll know that. But you’ll have no show whatsoever of telling one legal white powder from another legal white powder – absent any regulation there’s nothing to stop your vendor bulking out the good stuff with something else.

    This isn’t the approach we take with anything else – food, medicines, dietary supplements, even alcohol.

    Crap drugs are a bi-product of crap regulation. The market, if allowed, would select the best drugs.

    Depends on what you mean by “crap drugs”. Freebase cocaine and methamphetamine are pretty freakin’ awesome from an immediate user perspective – you’ll probably want to trade again. Just a disaster from a public health standpoint.

    From a public health perspective, there are various things you’d be looking for in a regulated psychoactive drug: absence of acute severe threats to health,or severe chronic health effects, low potential for addiction, a predictable dose-response curve (unlike, say, GHB, where the gap between pleasantly wasted and pulmonary arrest isn’t all that large and varies greatly between users) – and ideally, little or no potential for overdose.

    Cannabis does pretty well on those criteria, unless you have the gene for cannabis-induced schizophrenia, which raises your risk a bit. It’s not at all out of the question that there are other drugs that pose a low health risk.

    Would that get rid of all unlicensed drugs? No. It would lower the use of the ones you don’t want to have to deal with. And even in the case of your non-blessed psychoactive drugs, hard prohibition isn’t the answer. Portugal hasn’t legalised illicit drugs, it’s medicalised them. You will still probably have to go to court and – if the the court decides to send you – for treatment and counselling. It’s the medicalisation that has lowered drug harms there, particularly in the case of IV drugs. But that's different from licensing those drugs to be sold in shops.

    We do some of this already here. There’s only one reason that people go to needle exchanges – to get clean gear to take IV drugs. Given their way, the police would probably want to follow them all home and bust them. But we do not let the police do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Without a test kit on hand , regulation wont ensure that MDMA is that or is MDA that,
    Is that coke , crystal meth or is that speed, ephedrine? Is that speed really now poor mans coke. How can one tell.?

    Do you test the nurofen you buy for your sore back? Otoh, does anyone have a test kit that will tell them exactly what's in their pills and a powders now? No one does. We just have to suck it and see.

    It will have to be made by pharmaceutical companies to ensure accurate manufacture and then we will be back to a black market to allow all peeps interested to partake or we will have to push legislation through to allow doctors to prescribe on the community services card.

    Many of the new psychoactive substances are already made in commercial labs, by drug companies. I don’t think we’d see prescriptions unless there was an actual therapeutic value – just like we don’t see alcohol, tobacco or caffieine prescribed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    to have and to hold...

    Users become overwhelmed with
    a sense of well-being and safety...

    so just remember folks
    as we've said before
    only users, lose drugs...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Russell Brown,

    MDVP’s main problem seems to be the tendency to compulsive redosing ...

    Because its effects are weak and short-lived - it is an incredibly underwhelming experience. Hence the need to keep doing it.

    People have been trying to duplicate the effects of coke, smack, acid and ecstasy over the years and most of them fail miserably. In addition, they are frequently more harmful than the Real McCoy.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to vangam,

    Because its effects are weak and short-lived – it is an incredibly underwhelming experience. Hence the need to keep doing it.

    If that’s your experience, fair enough. But a notable proportion of the erowid experience reports on MDVP are strikingly bad.

    This one:

    My g/f and I went through 1.5gms of this pure hell powder over a period of 4 days. I first read about this chemical in the news and thought wow just like blow huh? I read further online and found a local shop that carried it and picked up a gram.

    We both started with a 5mg line and over the following 4 days consumed between 5mg and 10mg lines every 1 to 2 hours. We ended up picking up another gram after day 2. It started out nicely enough with the near exact feeling of blow but that’s where the good similarities between the two substances ended! We never planned on being up for 4 days without food that’s for sure so its very addictive and in our opinion extremely dangerous. We both usually get paranoid from blow and this has that negative side effect as well. The extremely bad thing about this substance for both of us were the extreme hallucinations both visible and audible of all things we were fearing from the paranoia. At the end of day 4 I dumped the last half gram to stop the complete insanity and the g/f got extremely angry with me and she didn’t want to stop she went and got more that’s when I left for home.

    Another difference between blow and this is the fact that after stopping I still couldn’t sleep for 36 hours and that’s after taking 20mg of xanex and the g/f had the the same problem when she finally stopped 2 days later. This was the worst chemical we’ve ever tried and we have done quite a few. We could have lost everything we had including our sanity due to 4 days of chaos for me and 6 days for her. She also almost died in my opinion after taking 50mg of xanex to try to sleep after her 6 day binge. We both agreed we would never do this again and only wished we had never heard about it in the first place!

    In short its very addictive, the comedown is the worst of any substance we have tried, the paranoia and extremely vivid audible and visual hallucinations combined made for hell on earth. We lost our sanity for many days. Be warned if your crazy enough to play with this and be prepared for the possibility of some rather severe consequences!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • david westcot,

    Great to see some real journalism in this area – media coverage is commonly worse than pathetic or as with the bath salts beat up – reefer-madness redux! Bottom line for a rational discourse [ a what ??!!! says john Key ] is the concept of evidence -base & relative harms ; the gold -standard here is the Lancet 2010 ISCD report `Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis`. This clearly & unequivocally shows the emperor has no clothes – multicriteria ,social,personal ,addictivness,economic etc. Alchohl comes out on top well ahead of ALL other drugs with 72 pts. worth of harm vs. the most common `bath salt`[mephedrone ] at 13 , MDMA at 9 [ yes thats 9 pts to boozes 72 ! ] , Shrooms at bottom of chart 6 pts, pot gets 20pts. The gross & unconscionable hypocrisy that sees the state with the power to smash youre door & throw U into a cage for the sin/crime of passing some of said shrooms [classA] to a friend is grotesque – a throwback to the inquisition for sure – this when alchohol is manifestly & provably sooo much more harmful & massively ,commercially pushed .This is an unbelievably pathetic joke of a policy. Good on NZ for trying a work-around [clearly a rational policy would see the v. low harm hugely roadtested MDMA as the legal party pill / therapeutic agent ] with largely untested psychoactives . Realpolitic ensures this to be the reality for the forseeable future – UN Conventions, U.S. govt pressure etc. A further factor in this debacle is the effect of the criminalisation & demonisation on the public discourse – large nos. of health professionals effectively gagged .It will be v. interesting to see how this plays out – for sure The Great Protector [USA] won`t be too happy with the situation! Of course whatever happens there will always be idiots doing binging behavs. as in above post – & with stimulants of any sort that is av v. bad gameplan ,so legal or not I`m sure there will continue to be plenty o grist for the reefer madness mill !

    dunedin • Since Jun 2012 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Scott Chris,

    The market, if allowed, would select the best drugs.

    The market?.....oh! you mean people.
    Well there's your problem.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Do you test the nurofen you buy for your sore back? Otoh, does anyone have a test kit that will tell them exactly what’s in their pills and a powders now? No one does. We just have to suck it and see.

    Russell, I don't take nurofen, could be bad for my brain.
    One day, after telling my doctor that I was a bit weary of taking more drugs for blood pressure maintenance, he replied
    " Think of it this way Sofie, you've tried many others, some you probably don't quite know what they were, many illegal, what's one more?"
    That sorted that out . I hope it all gets sorted even if it boils down to a Claytons version of drugs for those that want them. But I just hope they decriminalise marijuana.
    Yes I await with interest, I'm repeating myself now. (why do I think of The Streets at this moment? ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But a notable proportion of the erowid experience reports on MDVP are strikingly bad.

    Couple of thoughts on that wee anecdote:

    Firstly it doesn't ring true. Has the smell of the social engineer all over it. (a more subtle approach than claiming angel dust makes one think one can fly admittedly) Quote: Be warned if your crazy enough to play with this and be prepared for the possibility of some rather severe consequences!

    Thanks Ned Flanders.

    Secondly, if MDVP is really such a poor substitute for cocaine then in a free drugs market no one would use it. Let's face it, chemical hedonists will single mindedly persue their hobby with whatever substance is available until they either burn out or straighten out. May as well let them have the good stuff, knowing what it is and dispensed by professionals who can provide medical assistance and advice.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Scott Chris,

    Thanks Ned Flanders.

    Erowid experience reporters generally are not Ned Flanders types, at all. There was one report in that vault I thought didn’t ring true, but I tend to trust the editors to filter out bogus accounts.

    Secondly, if MDVP is really such a poor substitute for cocaine then in a free drugs market no one would use it.

    Quite possibly. But let’s note that two of the top five drugs in David Nutt’s Drug Harm Index are cocaine. (The top one, by miles, is alcohol, and tobacco is No.6.) And it’s basically impossible to use methamphetamine for an extended period without suffering some sort of cognitive loss or even psychosis. So it’s not crazy to look for something less harmful than cocaine and methamphetamine to bless. Nutt himself is quite big on less harmful alternatives to alcohol.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to david westcot,

    Hey David, see that button on the right of your keyboard marked <Return>?

    You can use it to break your thoughts into paragraphs. Makes them more readable.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I've tried MDPV. Russell's erowid selection is spot on, from my experience. It's strong at first, tapers fast, which encourages continual redosing, and has a fucking awful comedown. I chucked the leftover.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • david westcot,

    Just wonderin.......can anyone enlighten as to why the NZ media is so largely bereft of any real investigative journalism on drug policy [The Guardian in contrast is on the case] . Is it journalistic ignorance, editorial bias, love of tabloid scaremongering, percieved lack of public interest or all these & more. Difficult for any change to progress in the face of such widespread ignorance of the issues, politics ,& evidence-base one would have thought. BTW Rich of Obs. I will try harder on the paragraphs !

    dunedin • Since Jun 2012 • 13 posts Report Reply

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