Wednesday, 14 March 2012

War on drugs - my 2c

Latest news: http://world.time.com/2012/06/26/uruguay-wants-to-legalize-marijuana-sales-should-the-rest-of-the-world-follow/

 

The Americans will dislike me for saying this, but stop the war. It's a waste of time and money. It created the drug cartels. Just like the Prohibition in the USA created the Mafia. Mexico would have fewer headless people if Pfizer were making E, cocaine, etc. Plus fewer people would be getting sick/hospitalised/dying from poor quality stuff, eg coke cut with rat poison - a common thing here.

  1. Legalise the lot.
  2. Get the massive pharma co's to manufacture.
  3. Make it a legal requirement that you get a prescription from a doctor to get them
  4. You buy them at a regular pharmacy, and have your name written down. People who inject must be given enough clean needles to stop HIV/AIDS spread
  5. Make sure they're much cheaper from a pharmacy than from a street peddler
  6. Make it compulsory for schoolkids to go to rehab centres to see what the consequences are
  7. Make it illegal for under-21s to get scripts without parental consent
  8. Track who is using and what they're using and what quantities
  9. Limit the quantities prescribable
  10. Enforce manufacture quality controls, and create jobs manufacturing the stuff
  11. Massive government campaigns against it at schools
  12. Make it illegal to advertise the products in any way, and sell them with major health warnings on the packets, just like the other legal drugs (cigarettes, alcohol)
  13. Sell in quantities too small to overdose on
  14. Make MJ completely legal for anyone to grow and use, but not sell.
  15. Make home manufacture of anything other than MJ illegal.
  16. Tax the products heavily, just like the other (booze and smokes)
  17. Make exclusions on medicare/medical aid/medical insurance that drug usage entails that you won't be covered for certain things like motor accidents, lung disease, artery disease, etc.
  18. Make it compulsory for females over 12 to have a pregnancy test every time they go to collect.

PS. In case you think I'm a druggie - no. But I can't logically see the difference between tobacco (highly addictive, health detrimental), and alcohol, which causes most family violence and road deaths, and the other stuff. It's all the same. Whether someone's slacking off at work because they're on heroin or slacking off at work because they're drunk on alcohol, there's no difference.

What is the objective? To stop drug cartels, to stop imprisoning users who actually just need psychological help, and to stop risky behaviours like needle sharing, petty crimes to feed habits, etc.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

GMO - my 2c

Amazing how the conspiracy theories come out over this issue. And also amazing how they only cite conspiracy theory sites as evidence in favour of their arguments. Since I've actually got a degree with biochemistry, I must say I can't really see any harm in it. It's no different to what we do with conventional breeding techniques, except sped up. Plus it undergoes stricter scrutiny because of public fears. GM could help with things like drought-resistant crops, for example.

People have all kinds of fears around it. What do you think it is going to do? Give you cancer? Not unless it contains a carcinogen or makes one as a side-effect of being genetically modified. GM means the DNA has been tampered with. Most plant cells are surrounded by a wall of cellulose, which we can't break down except mechanically - ie by chewing or boiling or something. So it's hard to get at the contents of a plant cell anyway unless you process it in some way. Moreover, even if you do digest GM DNA, well, it's composed of the same chemicals as your own DNA - so by definition it must be harmless. The difference is just the sequence of chemicals (GTCA) that make up the DNA. Hence it's a plant's DNA rather than a human's. (Well there are also different numbers of chromosomes, codons, etc., but it's the same chemical structures that make it up). So I can't see how it's going to be poisonous or carcinogenic. People are really neurotic out of ignorance. They need to look at the studies in academic journals before assuming that there's a problem because they don't understand it. It's the same as any other technology: it looks like black magic till you understand it.

The 'organic' food people are usually living in first-world conditions and can afford to pay for hand-grown, hand-manured, hand-picked food, but not all of us live in such countries.

As for patenting - I think companies have a right to patent their research work. I fail to see the problem with that. If people think it is "evil" or "capitalist", maybe they should ask how and why it is that their evil capitalist countries are so cushy and comfortable compared to the rest of the world.

If someone does have a problem with GM recipes being secret, well, then, get a PhD in biochemistry (no easy feat), go work for a university, and opensource your research. Simple.

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