Opinion: I don’t believe it’s the manufacturers or the products themselves that are solely responsible for causing issues.
I think a lot of it came down to marketing and education and the way that people abused these products. Keep reading.
MDMA or Methamphetamine, taken on occasion, aren’t particularly harmful or destructive chemicals, we know this. However the minute you start taking something daily, multiple times a day, you are going to run in to issues.
It’s very short sighted for anyone to put all of the blame on the government and the legal highs industry.
Synthetic Cannabis has been sold for almost a decade. There was a huge synthetic cannabis culture that was absolutely fine for years, it wasn’t until the media blew it up, mainstream New Zealand decided it was ok to abuse the shit out of it and we got stuck on a certain range of cannabinoids that may not have been the most ideal for the time. I think CL-2201 had the most potential.
Peter Dunne and the Ministry of Health have already taken products from shelves that had reports of adverse reactions. If there are really major problems out there, why aren’t people reporting them? My understanding is that there have not been many negative side effects reported, at least not to the same extent that the media portrayed.
The media covered only the WORST looking stores and areas for their stories, and in reality, most of these people are going to return back to the neighborhoods and go in to hiding, so Middle-Class White New Zealand can feel ok about the underlying drug problem in this country again, so long as it’s hidden, out of sight out of mind.
No one would blink an eye if they were handed a few MDMA pills, a bag of cocaine or a bag of speed, everyone is happy to consume these other drugs, including RC’s designed to mimic LSD and Mephedrone. But how many of these drugs are made in GMP Registered Facilities? Probably none sold on the street.
Who do we blame if someone becomes addicted to their stash of Methamphetamine, MDMA or LSD and takes it every day, who do we blame if someone get’s hooked on Magic Mushrooms every day during Shroom season? Because it’s certainly not the fault of the drug itself … at least not in this community.
Personally I think that when it comes to a product such as synthetic cannabis, people are taking it for a reason. Sure there are a large group of kiwis that simply want a small, RECREATIONAL buzz one or two nights of the week, maybe just to watch a movie or relax with some friends instead of drinking alcohol. This is great, if everyone used wisely and occasionally we wouldn’t be running in to these social and health issues that appeared to have cropped up. But not everyone is a casual user. Many people, just like alcoholics and pharmaceutical drug abusers will use a substance, outside of this recreational window.
Both Natural and Synthetic Cannabis offer people something else, something more than a recreational buzz. Often they are taking it as a form of pain killer, anti depressant or as a form of ADHD medication. I know many people with ADHD that have trialed the amphetamine / ritalin based drugs that doctors prescribe, they are expensive and they make people feel like shit. Most of the people interviewed on Campbell Live during his 2 week stint were people in low socioeconomic areas that were essentially self medicating, almost everyone said it made them happy or “slowed them down”.
We live in an anxiety inducing, fast paced world now and it’s only getting worse. For many people it’s an escape. Just like alcohol.
People are taking synthetics for a reason. That reason is that they can not get affordable and legal access to cannabis. So then we need to look at cannabis, people want to take cannabis for a reason, or any number of reasons. Even though most people will happily fall in to the “occasional use” category, there is a huge subset of the population that will fall in to the “always use” category. We need to understand why, and then say, look, these people are self medicating, they are going to use “something”, let’s give them something that is natural and known to be extremely low risk.
We NEED to legalize natural cannabis, and fast. We also need to educate people, that you will induce psychosis and you will have a hard time with school if you abuse natural cannabis. We need to get real.
I think this is where the lines got blurred with synthetic cannabis and the real thing. Recreational and occasional use of synthetics is more than likely, pretty damn low risk, but when people start abusing the stuff like it’s going out of fashion, we are going to run in to health and social issues. The same thing happens with alcohol and will likely happen with natural cannabis, and any other drug that is legalized. I’ve always been of the belief that legalizing something reduces it’s harms. I am dead against prohibition but at the same time I’m also dead against drug abuse. How do we as a society move forward and away from the war on drugs, whilst preventing people from taking that as a cue to get fucked up all the time because it’s “legal”?
Harm Reduction is about more than creating drugs that create less harm, it’s also about creating a taxable, regulated market, assisting with people that are addicted or have health issues because of drugs and it’s about helping people make educated decisions about the drugs they consume and HOW / how often they consume them.
I strongly believe that there were a few companies in the industry that are causing 90% of the problems and would have continued to do so. At least now everyone has to stop and PROVE that they can do things right.
I just hope that we can wake up as a country and legalize cannabis, then work on some lower harm alternatives to pills and powders.
Follow up reply by Drael;
Well said neo. Yes, it is no coincidence that the place portrayed in the media is a hotbed of violence, unemployment and poly-drug abuse (including booze). I am reminded of rat park. Also of the experiments where drug addicts preferred to take money over more drugs.
Also I agree with your few companies thing. Even with the actives that I personally question, most companies kept the dosing moderate. And it was these minority products – wrong actives, too high dose, that the disenfanchised sought out to fuel their escalating tolerance levels. Arguably, if cannabis _oil_ was legal, or the hash plants, or hash, or the newer extracts, the same would have occured. Which is why if cannabis is legalised (or mdma, or mushrooms, or bzp or anything), like alcohol there should be doseage limits. And indeed thats what we get with synths, in the end.
People are abusing drugs as self-medication. And they are doing that because they are fundamentally unhappy. It doesn’t matter what drugs they can or cant access personally, legal or illegal – thats the symptom, not the cause.
And that, like the problem of depression, suicide, is one of these deeper more complex problems, that society refuses to look at properly – because its societies precious sacred ways that tends to cause it.
Is that town going to be a paradise now that the synths are gone? Nope. Is everyone who is a heavy synth addict just going to stop abusing all drugs? Nope. Are new addicts going to stop becoming so to other drugs? Nope.
Its a tokenistic mentality that society has to its problems. Constantly looking for the “feeling” or illusion of having fixed something, without ever putting in the self-examination or hard work to actually fix anything. Blame someone. Point a finger. Make a law. Change the way your standing, or wear a different hat. Anything but true examination of the issues, and real hard work of change.
If we legalise cannabis, we will still have to address education, social mores. We still need to raise the education about alcohol, and let people know that is equally associated with psychosis, as well as linked to violence, overdose, liver damage and accidental injury.
It is doubtful to me that synthetics were, per user, causing more issues than booze. And this is part of the blinding that is the issue – people see new drugs and they morally panic – they create a stir that creates a hyperbolic dialogue about the minority of negative incidences – one that stands in direct contrast with how they treat the familiar, such as tobacco or booze.
The sad truth is that drug abuse, like suicide, is too complex a topic that it will be properly addressed anytime soon in our society – wed need to tackle poverty, societal isolation, centralisation, the pessimistic empty worldview of modern society – and more. Total shift/upheaval.
And the irony is, that many protesting synthetics, are daily users of alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis – and while not as over the top abusers as these small minority, not without their own functional life problems, or mood issues! (Heck, they wouldn’t get so emotive, so easily, and loose track of the middle line a lot of the time, if they didn’t have their own little balancing act going on – indeed the ban everything crowd has a lot in common with the lets take everything crowd – they are both looking for an outlet)
The best we can hope for is a legalised soft drugs market, so that the escape artists don’t really mangle themselves as often.
And maybe, just maybe, we can also look at these problem communities, jobless small towns, and anonymous poverty striken city suburbs, and find a way to slightly increase community wellbeing, bring people together, address small issues……at least, if we have less labour and national in power, that might happen!
It’s an interesting conundrum, because ethically people should be completely free to ingest what they choose. But our society lacks the balance of vision to deal with that freedom. The trouble is, that legal, or not legal, if someone wants something, they will do it. And the problem is in the wanting of the unhappy, not in the specific actions they take. This is the reality, that all refuse to stare in the eye. Its not the specific people, its not the specific laws, its not the govt, the legal high companies, the drug dealers, the substances themselves – its our whole societies overall inner emotional state. Whether we are PTA moms with three kids and a dog, or crack addicts waiting for a fix – we have unaddressed emotions that lead to poor vision and poor choices, and the spread of those same unaddressed emotions is caused by that same poor vision, and poor choices, often “invisibly” to those concerned.
The emotions come first, then the actions, and our society is too stoic, too cowardly to face what we all contain within ourselves.
In that respect, drugs may eventually actually help. Something will need to happen to make us reflect apon the world we create internally, and externally, and stop pointing fingers, but realize that we are all connected, that events and actions do not get created from nothing, that everything comes from something else.