Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fucked by major burns

What do Niki Lauda, Hot Lips Houlihan and, now, a growing number of clandestine lab technicians have in common?

Drug cooks with acute burns from P lab explosions are bumping other patients off surgery waiting lists and costing taxpayers millions of dollars, says the Sunday Star Times.

"A 70 per cent burn takes five months of treatment and will cost $700,000 to treat," says Waikato Hospital clinical director of plastic surgery and burns, Chris McEwan. "Its impact on our ability to manage the rest of our patient load is absolutely significant. It may delay the treatment of other patients by a considerable length of time."

The public health system is in enough financial trouble already, without this. So what's the government to do? We need go no further than the government's National Drug Policy to find the obvious answer.
The National Drug Policy aims to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders by encouraging the development of strategies and programmes which prevent and reduce drug-related harm.
Harm minimisation is where it's at. How can we reduce the number of scorched P cooks presenting at A & E departments around the country? The approach that's been tried, and has manifestly failed, is to criminalise the manufacture of methamphetamine and to provide harsh penalties for offenders. But does a threat of a long jail sentence really provide a deterrent to those who are otherwise prepared to risk lifelong disfigurement? Nope. The retail price of methamphetamine, massively inflated under prohibition, promises huge profits to the uncaught and unscathed. And does cramming our overcrowded prisons full of amateur chemists do anything to reduce the availability of P? Nope. The retail price of methamphetamine, massively inflated under prohibition, promises huge profits to the uncaught and unscathed, and the removal of one manufacturer from the market merely provides a business opportunity for another.

So what is the answer? I suggest something along the lines of needle exchanges for opiate users, like this one in Invercargill. Better still, we could follow the "shooting gallery" model adopted in New South Wales.

At a minimum, the government should provide free protective clothing and safety apparatus (and, of course, immunity from prosecution) to those who can prove their clandestine intent and P cooking credentials. This simple measure would, I'm sure, significantly reduce the burden on the public health system of victims of P lab explosions. Of course, to be effective, such safety gear must be used properly. I envisage that the government would also fund some training in proper laboratory procedure.

Staff at ESR model government issued protective clothingAlthough it would certainly cost a great deal more, ideally the government should set up centres in all P-ravaged communities where P cooks can take their dangerous chemicals and drug precursors and go about their business of manufacturing methamphetamine under the watchful supervision of qualified professionals.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Careful with that hydroponic cannabis-growing set-up, Eugene

Meet the latest weapon in the War on Drugs™, according to NZPA.
Among the weapons believed to be found at the address were a paraflare, a fragmentation grenade, thunderflashes, modified thunderflashes to act as a bomb, a large quantity of ammunition and two hydroponic cannabis-growing set-ups.
The defence force is checking its weapon and ammunition stocks...

Missing any grow lights?


Alcohol linked to drunken rampage

War on Drugs™ propaganda has hit a low point in the deep South. There's an article in the Southland Times headlined Ecstacy linked to drunken rampage.

Last weekend some teenagers attended an unsupervised 18th birthday party at Alexandra's Ice Inline clubrooms. The party got off to an auspicious early start when the 18-year-old hosting the party was taken away by an ambulance when he was so intoxicated he couldn't be woken up. Later in the evening, some teenagers started trashing the building, including ripping a basin off a toilet wall, smashing a fire alarm, ripping a phone off a wall and punching holes in walls. Some partygoers who tried to stop the vandalism had bottles thrown at them. The police arrived, closed down the party, whereupon large groups of partygoers made their way down to the pie-cart, leaving a trail of destruction. (This is commonplace behaviour in Alexandra.)

And the ecstasy connection? Three drunk Dunstan High School pupils who were at the party said that two partygoers had taken ecstasy. Senior Sergeant Mike Cook said, "I'm sure it [something more than cannabis] was there," even though police had no evidence beyond hearsay.

And the ecstasy connection? Well, ecstasy produces intensely pleasurable effects – including an enhanced sense of self-confidence and energy, as well as feelings of peacefulness, love, and empathy (users experience feelings of closeness with others, a desire for touch, and facilitation of interpersonal relationships). So, er...

The ecstasy connection? It was mentioned by the Southland Times in an article about a drunken teenage rampage. (Well, something called "ecstacy" was - you need to learn to spell, guys, as well as learn some basic facts about the drugs you try to demonise.)