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Friday, July 14, 2006

Marijuana, Foxglove and the statute of limitations

Thank God for the statute of limitations! I am able to relate some experiences from my past without being in fear of legal repercussions. This is a good thing, in part because I am a different guy now and don't get involved in drug deals. It also allows me to speak freely.

The Foxglove is a flowering plant that is native to Europe but is often found in North American gardens and grows wild in the Pacific Northwest.

"Many of the common names of this plant pertain to its toxic nature (Witches' glove, Dead Man's Bells, Bloody Fingers). Foxglove belongs to the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and the whole plant is toxic. It contains various cardiac glycosides. Symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, irregular heart beat, and delerium or halucinations.

Digitonin is a Digitalis drug derived from D. purpurea. It is used in modern medicine to increase the force of the systolic contractions and prolong duration of the diastolic phase in congestive heart failure. Digitalis drugs lower venous pressure in hypersensetive heart ailments, elevate blood pressure in a weak heart act as a diuretic, and reduce edema. However, the theraputic dose is dangerously close to the lethal dose. Historically, Foxglove was employed by herbalists for a variety of purposes, fom an ointment used for cleansing wounds and reducing swelling to boiling it and using it as an expectorant."
(see above link)

Foxglove can obviously be dangerous and yet it has its uses. In the case of one of my daughters, it helped save her life. She had to take a pediatric form of Digitalis, Lanoxin, in order to live as a little baby and took the medication until the age of four years. Even though Foxglove is poisonous, the extract is a lifesaver for some.

Pot

Marijuana has been promoted as a medicinal herb in treating cancer patients, HIV patients, those with migraines, nerve ailments and other possible uses as well. A fairly recent study, Marijuana and Medicine concluded that clinical trials could be beneficial in certain cases, leading to the common use of marijuana in such cases. There are many organizations devoted to the legalization of marijuana and some of them concentrate solely on the use of marijuana as medicine (most want it legalized, period).

CNN.COM has additional information. Included is this list:

Possible hazardous effects of marijuana

* Reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination such as driving a car

* Increased heart rate

* Bloodshot eyes

* Dry mouth and throat

* Altered motivation and cognition, making the acquisition of new information difficult

* Impairments in learning and memory, perception, and judgment - difficulty speaking, listening effectively, thinking, retaining knowledge, problem solving, and forming concepts

* Intense anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia

* Breathing problems

* Long-term use can result in smoking-related problems such as bronchitis and asthma

* Heavy use of marijuana can affect both male and female hormones.

Animal studies have found that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) can damage the cells and tissues that help protect people from disease.

* Extended use increases risk to the lungs and reproductive system, as well as suppression of the immune system.



60% of children who smoke marijuana before age 15 move on to cocaine!

Me and my Marijane

My own experience does tend to add to the accusation that marijuana is a "gateway drug". I was offered the stuff often enough as a kid but finally tried it when I broke up with my first serious girlfriend. A drug dealer and his buddy threw me a party to "celebrate" breaking up with Kathy and after a couple of beers I tried some pot. I fell asleep. But they convinced me to try again later and I liked the sensations I felt. Soon I was a regular pot smoker. It seemed to add a bit of absurdity to life and flavored all my impressions of the world around me. It made me giddy. I felt more artistic. It made me horny. It gave me the munchies.

Now I'm not so sure that marijuana led me to try anything else anymore than beer made me susceptible to marijuana usage. The practical aspect here is the legality of the drug. Since it was illegal, I had to deal with crooks in order to obtain it. These guys were drug dealers and naturally most of them dealt other drugs, too. I began trying "angel dust" (which can be several things) and uppers like white cross and pink hearts. Later I got into hashish and LSD (and some other hallucinogens) and cocaine and cystal meth. I also found that my friends would ask me to obtain drugs for them, since I had connnections. I segued into becoming a dealer. I eventually became part of a drug gang that manufactured meth as big business, and I became a needle user. Drugs were destroying my life and my health and I just missed finding myself in prison. I certainly found myself in the gutter. I had to change.

Marijuana can free you from inhibitions and color your perceptions. Unfortunately, it is likely more dangerous to your health to smoke pot than it is cigarettes. It is certain that in many individuals the use of marijuana causes them to "blow off" important aspects of their lives and they will lose jobs and families as a result.

I know a guy whose life was ruined or nearly ruined by illegal drugs? No way, man, I know dozens of them! Heck, I'm one of them.

NEVERTHELESS

There is somewhat of a hysterical viewpoint held by many that marijuana must not be legalized for medicinal purposes. Now that, to me, is foolishness! That extract of Foxglove that saved my daughter's life? OD on that and you may well die! OD on marijuana and you pass out and/or get a massive case of munchies.

If marijuana can help a cancer patient keep food down, or alleviate a migraine headache in someone, etc, then what right has the government to keep doctors from treating their patients simply because there are forces out there who are afraid of any kind of legalization whatever.

Therefore this reformed pothead, who will never toke again, is in favor of the medicinal use of marijuana as prescribed by doctors, just as doctors may prescribe tylenol with codeine or a patient may be treated with morphine during and after surgery.

On the other hand, I am adamantly opposed to legalizing such a substance for recreational use. There are already enough legal ways to kill yourself slowly without adding to the list. There are already enough ways to ruin young lives, cause automobile crashes, and so on. I've seen so many people who have had lives ruined by alcohol abuse. As a society, we owe it to ourselves to avoid making another way to disaster legally obtainable.

~~~

Thanks for the prayers and best wishes. I am weakly going forward!

21 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

I first smoked pot aged 12. I was a regular user throughout my high school, college & University, managing to graduate from all three, despite holding down a responsible job from the age of 15 (I lied about my age), and keeping house for my 6 siblings while my mother went through a major llness & surgery, my father flipped completely, turned excessively violent & got himself locked up for few months (then, unfortunately, sent back to us), and my younget brother sprinted headlong towards perpetual criminality (non drug related).

Pot obviously ruined my cognitive skills, and kept me unmotivated & lacking concentration!

I didn't give up until I found I was pregnant. I have every intention of taking it up again when the kids are older - although I probably won't smoke it.

I have never taken cocaine, or any other "hard" drugs, although I do agree that the illegality of pot brings people into contact with the criminal world - I was offered lsd, coke, speed, ecstasy and a lot of mushrooms. I tried speed a couple of times, but just said no to the rest - not compatible with my lifestyle:-)

My father has MS. I think all of us have offered him some pot at some time or the other. There have been some amazing results in the few studies that have been allowed. He has always refused to take anything illegal, and so is left sitting in paralised agony.

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that heroin is used for medicinal purposes, but not pot! What's that all about?

I am in favour of legalisation in theory, but not in the current system. I wrote a utopian world post that alluded to my licensing laws - I think that nearly everything should be legal, but controlled through licenses.

I also know a number of people whose lives have been ruined (or cut short) by illegal drugs. And many for whom the same thing has happened because of legal ones! Equally I know many, many upstanding members of the community who regularly smoke pot.

Any scientific research that could help save lives should be allowed. I really don't understand where the ban comes from!

Anonymous said...

"60% of children who smoke marijuana before age 15 move on to cocaine! "

Where'd you get that statistic? It seems awfully high (pardon the pun).

I found this on the DEA's site (warning: Heavy propoganda):
"For example, one study found that among adults (age 26 and older) who had used cocaine, 62 per cent had initiated marijuana use before age 15."

But that's not the same thing as what you said. I'd also wager that nearly 100% of them used alcohol. I did find almost exactly what you quoted, but that was for teens in micronesia.

However, you have an interesting position, it's much more nuanced than I expected. As a migraine sufferer, it's fascinating to me that this could be a possible route for treatment, though I'm pretty happy with my Maxalt. Then again, I only get two a year, not that I'd wish them on my worst enemy.

I'm mostly in Mrs. Aginoth's (juggling mother) camp, but you probably already knew that. ;)

-scohen

highboy said...

Well said radar. I don't know enough about the medicinal uses of marijuana to support or reject it. I never researched it.

"I think it is absolutely ridiculous that heroin is used for medicinal purposes, but not pot!"

Heroin is used for medicinal purposes now? I never heard of that. I believe you, but could you send a link? I'd like to know just what someone could have the heroin is suppose to cure.

"Where'd you get that statistic? It seems awfully high (pardon the pun)."

That was good for a chuckle.

Juggling Mother said...

Well, ok heroin is rarely used in the western world nowadays, as so many sythetic versions are available, but it still used as a strong pain killer, and experiments sanctioned regarding the active ingredients, as well as derivitives and synthetics such as morphine, methadone & dipapinone (sp?).

It was used for many years though - while pot has been illegal since Victorian times.

Anonymous said...

Radar,
Of all the drugs that you were on, which was the easiest for you to quit?

Also, were you addicted to all the drugs you listed, and which needle drugs did you use?

"On the other hand, I am adamantly opposed to legalizing such a substance for recreational use. There are already enough legal ways to kill yourself slowly without adding to the list. There are already enough ways to ruin young lives, cause automobile crashes, and so on. I've seen so many people who have had lives ruined by alcohol abuse. As a society, we owe it to ourselves to avoid making another way to disaster legally obtainable."

That's too bad, because I think this position ignores present reality. People can obtain these drugs fairly easily, and can ruin their lives right now. In fact, I'd say the illict nature of the drugs makes the ruination they cause worse. Radar, you mentioned something in your post that I thought interesting. You stated that it wasn't marijuana that lead you to other drugs per se, it was the fact that it was illegal. One wonders what would have happened if you didn't have to resort to criminality in order to have a little extra fun on the weekends.

-scohen

Jake said...

A fairly recent study, Marijuana and Medicine concluded that clinical trials could be beneficial in certain cases,

I get the feeling you don't know what "clinical trial" means.

highboy said...

"It was used for many years though - while pot has been illegal since Victorian times."

Yeah, that's pretty ridiculous.

" People can obtain these drugs fairly easily, and can ruin their lives right now."

Don't you think that's rather defeatist? I think it means law enforcemenmt needs to get tougher, not weaker.

"In fact, I'd say the illict nature of the drugs makes the ruination they cause worse."

How so? You mentioned before that you were not for legalizing drugs, but rather for decriminalization. (I think. Correct me if I'm wrong) What I wonder is how you think making drugs either legal or decriminalized, being regulated, will prevent the abuse? Heroin is illegal right now, and people use and abuse it. How would decriminalizing it prevent the same people from abusing it?

If you can make sense of anything I just wrote you'll impress me greatly.

Anonymous said...

"Don't you think that's rather defeatist? I think it means law enforcemenmt needs to get tougher, not weaker."

Actually, I don't think it's defeatist, I think it's realistic. What you're doing in the case of pot is criminalizing the growing of a weed that is capable of being cultivated in every state in the union. That, and the more you crack down on it, the higher the cost, and the more economic incentive you give for people to grow it. Higher costs directly translate to more violence and more police trying to stop it, and on, and on and on. Decriminalization of this drug will entirely remove this incentive, reduce cost and let the cops work on something important than arresting people who are essentially farmers.

I think Radar's life story is actually very interesting. I grew up in Ohio, smack dab in the middle of your home state and Radar's, however, for whatever reason, Ohio has much more lenient laws when it comes to pot. As a concequence, the people who provide it are rarely providing other drugs, as the penalties for those drugs are much more severe than for just pot, whereas in Radar's story, it seems the drug dealers had just about everything. In for an ounce, in for a ton. Net effect, I didn't know anyone that did hard drugs, not that I would have done any anyway. Radar wasn't so lucky.

"What I wonder is how you think making drugs either legal or decriminalized, being regulated, will prevent the abuse"

Very good question, actually. The answer is that I'm not entirely sure, however I have some 'for instances'. When I'm discussing my health with my doctor and she asks if I'm doing any recreational drugs, I can be honest with her rather than lying and saying I don't. For the case of Heroin, perhaps my doctor would monitor me and make sure that I'm not abusing. Perhaps the act of purchaing it would automatically notify the buyer's doctor. To be honest, I haven't figured out exactly what my "sane" drug policy would look like. I'm not saying that decriminalization will stop all abuse, but what I think, and what liberal european drug policies seem to confirm, is that removing the specter of criminality from a health problem helps society as a whole as much as it helps individual people. I fail to see how locking up addicts benefits the addicts, the prison system, or society.

Another problem with certain drugs (cocaine, heroin, meth) is purity. Since the market is illicit, there is a high incentive to cut the drugs with other substances in order to maximize profits (I'm sure Radar can back this up). This cutting can have serious health consequences for users, but the people who do it don't really care about them. Remove the criminality, institute controls, and you eliminate this incentive while simultaneously reducing price and getting an enormous tax windfall (the second largest cash crop in the USA is marijuana). This will benefit the end user's health and should have a positive impact on drug related crime. Remember Al Capone? He was a violent, bloodthirsty drug dealer, but the drug he peddled was alcohol. Back in the 20's it wasn't unheard of to go blind from drinking bootleg alcohol, but now that's a problem confined to appalachia.

I hope that helps.

P.S. I just got back from Six Flags Marine World. I miss the midwest's massive amusement parks like Cedar Point, Kennywood and King's Island, six flags only had four coasters, and none of them were over 200 feet tall. Lame.

-scohen

radar said...

The "60%" statistic came from that linked site I listed.

I know what clinical trials are...the idea is that we would benefit from the trials in that if they prove marijuana is medicinally useful, then hopefully it would be legalized for the purpose of helping with that condition. Some trials have shown (in the case of cancer patients) that it is beneficial and I endorse it being prescribed as medication right now.

I hope I was clear - I endorse the presribing of marijuana for any condition that it has been proven to alleviate. I believe it is foolish to fight against any medication that can help someone. I believe God made every plant to be of some use, even foxglove, as I had mentioned previously and certainly good old marijuana seems to be good for more than making hemp or getting you wrecked at a party.

Yes, it is interesting that I segued from pot to harder stuff largely because it was available from the same guys. But it is also because I sought after new and better "highs" to see if they were superior to pot.

The hardest drugs to quit for me?

1) crystal meth, since I had been injecting it into my body via the needle and using every day. I was at least psychologically addicted and it was a minor hell to go cold turkey....I don't think it was physically addicting to much of an extent. But I can tell you that I felt like I had been beaten up, run over, drained, and without any hope for awhile after I quit shooting up. The depression is a large part of the hellishness. I hurt everywhere!

2) cigarettes!

3) pot, since I liked it so much and it seemed less dangerous than other stuff

4) cocaine. I only snorted and never injected it or used crack. I am quite sure crack would have been much, much harder to shake than the meth

4) LSD and other hallucinogens. I had cut down on them anyway and I could tell there were physical and psychological dangers inherent in their use.

I am fortunate I never injected horse and only smoked it once, incorporated into a doobie. I am fortunate I never encountered crack.

As scohen points out, cutting drugs was a big part of the dealer's job. The stuff we usually used on meth was called "quinine" by the lab guys, although I am not sure just what it was. In a pinch, you could use powdered sugar or milk, but not much, and I was not one of the guys who ever did it. We would use "ditchweed", which was native pot originally used for hemp production, as a way to cut imported marijuana. Ditchweed was also marijuana, but with very little THC/active ingredient that makes you high. We wouldn't cut the stuff we used for ourselves, obviously, because we wanted the best high available. I heard of a dealer who laced his meth with rat poison along with the quinine and claimed he never had any complaints!

Juggling Mother said...

How legalising & licensing will help:

It will take away the "exitement" of doing something illegal
It will take away the danget of impure drugs
It will remove "pushers" - one drug doesn't lead to others by association
It will ensure no minors aquire the drug
It will offer a legal buyer for the drugs, making it uneccesary to go to the illegal buyers (they may well still pay more, but the risk/gain won't be worth it for many)
It will ensure users are monitored while taking the drugs, no accidental overdoses, abusers can be recogniosed early & offered help etc
Laws regarding the use of drugs can be brought in, rather than the pointless & ignored "just say no"

That's just the obvious & direct benifits of legalising licenced premisis to sell drugs. I'm sure there would also be knock on effects around the world, as they say the illegal drugs industry funds the majority of big crime syndicates.

I also think there needs to be a lot more research done into addiction. per se. How come some people take drugs a couple of times and are physically & mentally addicted, and some do the same drugs for years, then one day just stop? I'm very lucky as I fall into the second camp - no withdrawal symptoms when I stopped smoking after 7 years or pot after 15. I had a friend who happily to Heroin for 4 years then stopped, no problem. Yet other people take something once & are completely hooked.

Jake said...

Juggling Mother, I agree with your post except for one thing:

It will ensure no minors aquire the drug

Kids get their hands on alcohol and cigarettes all the time.

Juggling Mother said...

OK, it will help crack down on the use of drugs in minors: if there are less street drugs, less pushers etc. Also if there is a wider acceptance of "correct" drug usage, there will be more public disapproval of "incorrect" usage.

Here in the UK, we are really starting to crack down on underage smoking. We'll have to wait & see wehat the results are, but in my utopian, licensed world, no drugs get let out of the licensed facility, so it would be harder for kids to sneak a cigggie out of their mums handbag as it were:-)

Anonymous said...

"I'm very lucky as I fall into the second camp - no withdrawal symptoms when I stopped smoking after 7 years or pot after 15."

That's most likely due to the nature of the drug you picked, pot doesn't have physical withdrawl symptoms. I sympathize with Radar, from what I've read, Meth is a brutal drug that is extremely difficult to quit. In his post he describes the withering physical dependency and mental anguish he had to endure in order to end his addiction. He also described the total lack of concern for other human beings that some of its manufacturers have. Using rat poison to cut the drug is amazingly inhumane, and something that would cease to exist if we decriminalized drugs.

I also agree with Jake that decriminalization will not totally prevent access to minors, but it should improve things. Right now, drug dealers don't have the slightest concern of how old their customers are, while a merchant, faced with the possibility of losing their license, would care a great deal.

This is a hugely important issue though, if you use a drug during puberty, your body becomes used to the extra chemical and needs it, whereas if you start after puberty, you don't need it in the same way. Look at some of the research into smoking --a smoker that starts between 12-14 years is virtually guaranteed to smoke for life. The tobacco companies knew this, and trained their marketing on this segment of the population --unconscionable and inexcusable behavior. In my "sane" scenario, advertising drugs would be illegal to prevent this from ever happening again. We don't need companies marketing these kinds of products, there should be no encouragement based on profit.

-scohen

Juggling Mother said...

I agree that meth is outrageously addictive, as it crack - Kudos to radar for kicking the habit. The point I was trying to amke is some people seem to get addicted to all sorts of things immediately & some can start and stop on a whim.

Tobacco is fairly addictive, but I had no physical withdrawal symptoms at all when I went cold turkey after 7 years of being a smoker. Alcohol is not particularly addictive, but I've known people become alcoholics after literally a few drinks.

There have been a couple of studies done on why some people seem to have addiction followed by addiction, while others stop taking quite hard drugs & never look back. Mental attitude must have something to do with it, but I'd be interested in finding out if there is more to it than that.

highboy said...

"Look at some of the research into smoking --a smoker that starts between 12-14 years is virtually guaranteed to smoke for life."

Thank God for me. I started at around 16 and just managed to quit a couple months ago.

radar said...

I smoked cigarettes, Kool Filter Kings, at about 3 packs a day and I would try off and on to quit but never succeeded. I liked smoking and couldn't get motivated. Then my doctor (incorrectly) declared that my youngest daughter had developed asthma and that my smoking was tremendously harmful to her. (It turned out she had bronchitis, not asthma, so her distress was only temporary).

I bought a carton of Kools on Friday after work and determined that, while I was awake, I would just keep a cigarette going 24 x 7. I smoked almost the whole carton by Saturday evening and I was gagging on them as I took puffs. At midnight on Saturday I threw the rest of the carton away. For a couple of days the very thought of cigarettes made me want to retch, but soon the thoughts of a cigarette called out to me like sirens. I began chewing gum every time I thought of a cigarette. Soon, I began wanting them badly but I just kept stuffing gum in my mouth.

It took a couple of weeks, in which I had difficulty keeping an even temper and I ate anything not nailed down, but the desire for a smoke began to weaken. After six weeks I declared myself free. But I chewed gum on a regular basis for several years after that.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't think it's defeatist, I think it's realistic. What you're doing in the case of pot is criminalizing the growing of a weed that is capable of being cultivated in every state in the union. That, and the more you crack down on it, the higher the cost, and the more economic incentive you give for people to grow it. Higher costs directly translate to more violence and more police trying to stop it, and on, and on and on. Decriminalization of this drug will entirely remove this incentive, reduce cost and let the cops work on something important than arresting people who are essentially farmers.

I think this person is absolutely correct. The War On Drugs is a LIE. He also makes a good point about purity of certain illegal substances. I have smoked pot for over 10 years, and yes, I have tried other things, but never picked them up as a habit. The notion of pot as a "gateway drug" is absolutely ludicrous. Just more lying propaganda from The War on Drugs. People make their own choices. If Radar can quit his many vices after years of abuse, certainly anyone could after trying it once or twice, as in my case.

Me taking a long drive down a dirt road to get high and relax is no different than Joe Blow downing a six-pack after he gets off work, with the exception that i can drive just fine while stoned, and Joe Blow I imagine would have a little more trouble.

Essentially, the illegal status of marijuana most readily serves to make criminals out of folks who otherwise lead normal lives. I AM NOT a criminal. I have no criminal record of any kind, and my speeding tickets I can count on 1 hand. Yet in the county where I live I could face a year in jail for a small roach in my cars ashtray. LEGALIZE

radar said...

I will admit that there are problems with alcohol and yet we found out that prohibition was much worse. It is also true that even Biblical characters drank wine and it wasn't grape juice (there was a big shortage of refrigerators back in the day), it was an alcoholic beverage. The idea from the Bible is you can drink if you want, but don't get drunk. This is precisely what I do if I drink, just have one or two at most and that is it.

I will admit that if marijuana were legalized, the gateway aspects of the drug would lessen considerably in theory. If you don't have to go to a drug dealer to get it, you aren't going to a guy who, by the way, has some speeders or LSD or cocaine right over here...

Problems -

Will the psychoactive effects of pot cause people to seek even stronger stuff like mescaline or acid anyway? How much of the gateway effect is a result of awakening a desire to self-medicate?

It is far more difficult to test and monitor and regulate the amount of THC in pot, so keeping track of how high you are getting other than by feelings would be difficult indeed.

Unless we have a very valid method of testing for marijuana inebriation, how to determine how high you must be to make driving or operation of machinery dangerous?

Are the psychoactive properties of marijuana dangerous to people with chemical brain disorders/emotional disorders? Can it tend to be dangerous for people with so-called mental illnesses?

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