Out of Joint

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New at Reason: To the countless injuries inflicted by the drug war, we may now add an insult: Our government is selling skunk weed. Jacob Sullum reveals the drug warriors' mind-boggling efforts to avoid providing marijuana for research purposes.

NEXT: Dept. of Budget Priorities

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  1. http://www.sci-con.org/editorials/20030603.html


    Psychedelic drugs are not addictive. Even enthusiastic proponents of psychedelics take them infrequently due to the intensity of the ?trip.? Animal research indicates that Homo sapiens is the only species that will voluntarily take a psychedelic drug again after having experienced the effects. Although laboratory animals such as rats or monkeys will readily self-admininister most other drugs abused by humans, including cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, nicotine and alcohol, they find psychedelic drugs highly aversive (Yokel, 1987).

  2. Last I heard there’s a thriving private-sector marijuana industry in this country. Surely pot researchers should have no problem obtaining good weed. Pot dealers have been known to do a lot of business in the vicinity of major research universities… 😉

    Oh, wait, they want to announce their research results in publications other than High Times. OK, this could be a problem… 😉

  3. “…and the moose was returned safely to the forest by state game officials.

    Next on HealthWatch, is the government knowingly administering more dangerous versions of an experimental drug to volunteers in a study? Channel 27’s Health Editor Jorge Casablanca has the answers.”

    There’s your angle.

  4. This is just another area of biomedical research in which the best-funded and best-trained scientists in the world (those in the US) will be scooped by their foreign counterparts because of irrational government regulation.

    See also: stem cell research, cloning

    Brian
    (Disgruntled American biologist)

  5. The problem is that small publications such as Reason cannot combat the enormous spin machine that is the US Government and its puppet media.

    Bleet, bleet, bleet go the sheep.

  6. brian: irrational government regulation? as opposed to the rational kind, right?

  7. to anon @ 3:17 PM:

    Dude, that is like so heavy. You, like, just totally blew my fucking mind man. That is like some heavy Korn lyrics type shit dude. You better keep that shit under wraps before the man hears and the heavy shit starts coming down is all I gotta say. All right, later, I gotta just chill for a minute and like digest that shit. Woah!

  8. Yeah, I read somewhere – some business mag like Fortune or something – that Sweden is developing an amazing biotech industry based on stem cell research and the like because their scientists aren’t being held back by the fundies like they are here. Probably the biggest industry of the 21st century, an industry we could own like we do many others, but won’t. All those people who like to rag on Europe will get to see them hand our cloned ass to us. . . at least in this field.

  9. fundies like the greenies?

  10. Eric Deamer: whats Korn got to do with it?

  11. Touche. My use of the word “irrational” was superfluous. And unnecessary. Not to mention redundant.

    It must be Friday…

  12. Skunk is good. I think you mean ditch weed.

  13. someone’s been smoking some schwag…

  14. I’m of the opinion that Reason writes pot articles for no other reason than to keep using that hilarious picture of the monkey with the joint.

    Mind you, I approve of that motivation.

  15. Good news for George Bush, the US won’t lose credibility over the lack of finding WMD’s in Iraq, the US already lost credibility when it started the war on drugs over 30 years ago.

  16. Brian,

    You’re right, but look on the bright side. Odds are that they’ll be banning animal testing in the EU in about a decade or so, so we’ll have a leg up in many other research areas.

  17. Sean,

    That’s a very good point. I attended a conference in Europe last year, and some of my German colleagues were absolutely amazed at the experiments those of us in the States are allowed to do.

    Still, that’s cold comfort. Call me idealistic, but I’d rather all scientists be able to work at their highest potential…it makes us all better in the long run.

    Of course, if so much of science weren’t funded by government, this might be less of an issue, but let’s not get into that here. Really, let’s not.

    Have a great weekend, folks!

  18. Well, since you brought it up, government science brought us nuclear energy, put a man on the moon, oh and let see, what else? Oh the Internet! Now put that in your pipe and smoke it 😀

  19. Animal testing will be all but obsolete in a decade anyway.

  20. ^uh its been obsolete since the late nineteenth century joe

  21. Animal testing obsolete? Well, then my job is going to get a whole lot easier. Could you let me know where I can get a computer model of the mammalian nervous system, fully functional from system to synapse? Thanks

  22. exactly.
    now TECHNICAALLY, sean, wouldn’t AIDS, cvancer etc research whatrever be easie4r if you tortured HUMANS to death?

    so why not do that then?

    oh yeah… recognition that lfie is, and has a right to exist that needs no justification.

  23. Hopefully our next president will encourage this sort of development. The research could be conducted in Canada. I contacted the Dean campaign about this issue about a year ago. I had heard that Dean was opposed to lifting prohibition. He has modified his stance since, so hopefully some good research will be forthcoming if he gets elected. This should be a matter of ethics for a physician like him.

    I was intrigued by Jacom Sullum’s mention of vaporizers as an alrernative to smoking. Anything that can reduce the damaging effect of smoking, which is one of the main objections to medical marijuana, should be welcome.

  24. “Call me idealistic, but I’d rather all scientists be able to work at their highest potential…it makes us all better in the long run.”

    Which would include using some humans as involuntary test subjects – it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t be useful, and it did prove highly valuable to folks like Pavlov (he got to do ply his various experiments and theories of conditioning and physiological studies of humans under stress thanks to the USSR taking an interest in the value of his work).

    But there is no free lunch – everything is a trade off. Some people just aren’t comfortable with making advances through what is pretty much the intentional infliction of pain, suffering, and often death to sentient, intelligent, living creatures, especially when the present is at least otherwise reasonably livable. In America there is still an artificial wall placed between humans and all the other animals – and strangely, you can pretty much thank Christianity and such religious conservatives for that, as they really don’t like things like evolution for similar reasons (they really don’t like being told that gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos are in the same small family as humans, and that we have far more things in common than we have differences). Man, they say, is uniquely special in some way (such as having a “soul” – but the details seem to change over time and vary from individual to individual, and the philosophy has persisted and spread beyond the religion itself) that all animals are not, and this makes man superior and uniquely entitled to various moral protections. Indeed, “animals” is a class that is very rarely meant to include humans – even though humans are, quite litterally and scientifically, animals.

    Now, that really IS ironic – any and all scientific advancements made due to animal testing are at least in part due to Christian conservatives and their die-hard opposition to certain parts of science. If not for them perhaps no one would be able to use animal testing anymore, as the dualism and distance between “man and beast” might very well have fully collapsed under the weight of science by now if it weren’t enshrined as central tenets in popular religions.

    And there of course is still the facts that the suffering and torture willingly inflicted on mental patients (which, given the times, probably included dissidents, criminals, and other such undesirables) made possible by the USSR’s lack of concern or recognition for individual’s rights that brought about considerable advancements in science in those and related areas, and that it was Nazi scientists responding to Hitler’s proclivities that figured out that smoking causes lung cancer.

    Indeed, if one, or at least some, are permitted to act without any moral or ethical concern or empathy, they will surely bring about all sorts of productive things. The question is, would one actually wish to live in a world like that? Is it actually permissable to deny individuals rightful dignity because one might like the result, and would it actually be wise, in a purely functional ‘greedy’ sense, to allow such a thing?

  25. i don’t think it is illiteracy so much as a different starting point.

    most of the population of the world, much less the united states, does not believe they have the right to do with their body as they wish. without that fundamental starting point all the college degrees in the world mean nothing in this particular instance.

    it’s sort of like sodomy laws. whether one is into sodomy or not (more fun than it oughtta be) the idea that the government can tell you what you and another adult or adults should and should not do with your genitals is patently offensive to anyone who regards themself as something more than a piece of meat in the machine.

    out of curiosity where did you get the illiteracy numbers from?

  26. Gabriel: The matter of heating marijuana rather than smoking it is another instance of where illegalizing things that are presently self-harming goes wrong, because research and development into reducing the harm and risk in things generally requires the kind of investment and, dare I say it, legal protections that simply do not, and will not, exist in black market operations.

    In short, if psychodelic drugs had not been illegal for the last, say, 100 years, then one would think it almost certain that some drug(s) would have been found or invented by now that have the desired effects, and yet are largely safe and free of the particularly nasty side effects (those being mainly physical dependance and certain vague health risks I always hear about but never seem to get around to being clearly and believably scientifically substantiated). Another major risk and occurance, that of accidental overdose, would also have likely be largely solved by now, as reliable and safe devices, such as pre-packaged heroin injections in safe doses (assuming heroin would still exist as a generally used drug, instead of some better, safer, non-physically dependent one). After all, if cars were banned because they weren’t safe back in the days of the Model T, how likely is it that in the modern day they would be anywhere NEAR as safe as they are now?

    But of course, therein lies the disengenuous nature of so many who use the “risk and danger” arguments: they don’t WANT drugs to be safe, because then they quite reasonably conclude that many more people would use them, when they simply think that drug use is in and of itself wrong (as with O’Reilly’s “mind altering substance” opposition – even though ALL substances, and experiences, are mind altering, else you wouldn’t even be able to remember them, or ever experience a change in emotion). In short, risk is more FUD campaign and misdirection than anything else, for at least a large and portion of those who oppose the use of drugs for pleasure or recreation.

    It is a highly effective smoke-screen however, permitting one to appear Pro-Life rather than the more factual Anti-Pleasure, and as far Americans buy into it.

    On a similar issue, and one I’ve been dying to point out, some 50,000,000+ (million) Americans are functionally illiterate (ie, they would be lucky to be able to read a street sign), and some 40,000,000+ more do not read at above a 6th grade reading level (conveniently the reading level most newspapers are written at, if I recall correctly). The problem, of course, is that the reading of legal documents, such as insurance forms, and the identification of logical fallacies generally only begins at a 10th-12th grade reading level, and the more complex fallacies in complicated arguments require reading levels that are pretty much as high as you can go – and even then one usually needs to work together with others to spot them all.

    Not really all that hard to fool people when you write/speak at a 6th grade reading level, where most of your readers are, yet the ability to identify logical and conceptual errors require a far higher level of ability and refinement. I deeply ponder just how widespread the effect of this state of the nation goes…

  27. “recognition that lfie is, and has a right to exist that needs no justification”

    If this is a justification for eliminating animal testing, then it also works for weeding the garden, making a salad or using antibiotics. All of these things lead to the destruction of life for our own benefit. All animals (yes, including humans) exploit other organisms for their own benefit, we are just one of the few that has found more reasons than just food source.

    “now TECHNICAALLY, sean, wouldn’t AIDS, cvancer etc research whatrever be easie4r if you tortured HUMANS to death?”

    No, actually, it wouldn’t. Given housing requirements, gestation period and genetic variability, humans make a pretty shitty animal model. Perhaps human trials would be started earlier in the research process if it were allowed, but humans would be a poor choice to do most of the early research effectively.

  28. “If this is a justification for eliminating animal testing, then it also works for weeding the garden, making a salad or using antibiotics. All of these things lead to the destruction of life for our own benefit. All animals (yes, including humans) exploit other organisms for their own benefit, we are just one of the few that has found more reasons than just food source.”

    i disagree. heres why: animals are in some cases sentient. or could be said to be. they are self aware, also. plants are not. the sentience is where i makethe cut off- so meat and poultry, i don’t eat, but fish and arthorpods, i do.

    “No, actually, it wouldn’t. Given housing requirements, gestation period and genetic variability, humans make a pretty shitty animal model. Perhaps human trials would be started earlier in the research process if it were allowed, but humans would be a poor choice to do most of the early research effectively.”
    then why did the nazis do so? there was a New Yorker articl recently about how, since so many people in Africa have AIDS, it might be easier to fidn a cure if they gave aids drugs to various people with aids, and figured out whether the drugs killed them or not. so i know that in aids at least your argument is untrue. and as to cancer and other diseases, it simply defies logic to claim that in discovering how to cre a disease tht affects humans, it is better to not test humans, and test squirells or whatever, instead. that simply does not make sense. which is why for most drugs the FDA requires extensive testing on consenting humans before the drugs are released into the market.

  29. “housing requirements”

    LOL@ this. you think lab rats are jst doing great confined in cages 4 times bigger then they are? they test chimps, don’t they ahve roughly the same housing requirements as humans? just put them in cages and let them shit on each others heads like with chickens or rats.

  30. Your blog has been taken over by people opposed to animal testing and Wal Mart. Resistance is futile. All your blog are belong to us.

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