Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tabloid Dopiness

Promoting the Lie that Marijuana is Shameful:
A Tabloid's Shameful Promotion of Pharamacratic Inquisition/Criminal Mercantilism

A tabloid's shameful 'reporting' upon a man's preference,
and his exercise of the 1st, 2nd and 9th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution

Elvis Presley exemplified dopiness by believing that a drug's safety had something to do with its legal status: e.g. it's illegal for being dangerous or legal for being safe.

That's why he would not smoke Marijuana, but instead end up dead from taking massive amounts of pharmaceutical opiates.

After all, Elvis Presley was quite gullible- as is anyone swallowing the lie of Marijuanna Prohibition.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The "Effectiveness" of the (Criminal) Rockefellor Drug Laws


Joseph R. Lentol: Chairman
Public Hearings
The Rockefeller Drug Laws
Statement of Douglas A. Willinger 1993




A common argument against the drug prohibition laws is that they are ineffective. Critics say these laws have not reduced crime, drug abuse, or any of the other undesirable things now associated with the trade and use in illegal psychoactive drugs. Its defenders nonetheless contend that these laws are effective, noting that in the absence of law enforcement, more illegal drugs would be used. Before answering whether these laws are effective at dealing with the supply and demand sides of the drug issue, let us ask: effective at exactly what?

Prohibitionists see these laws as an effective method for reducing the supply of illicit drugs. If something is illegal there is less of it. Thus, if we want to reduce (or eliminate) something, make it illegal.

Whether or not one agrees with the prohibitionist view, there is no argument that more, not less, trade and use of illicit drugs has occurred with these laws' intensification since the latter 1970s. Indeed, drug abuse rose dramatically through the 1980s, particularly with the phenomenon of ultra-concentrated stimulants, such as crack. Further episodes of increased abuse with various amphetamine derivatives such as "ice" are almost promised.

Whether prohibition intensifies the problems or holds it back though remains a point of debate. While abuse unquestionably rose through the latter 1970s and 1980s, prohibitionists typically retort that this problem would have been even greater in these efforts' absence.

Properly answering this requires the adaptation of a broader perspective. While prohibition can seen as something that intensifies or reduces drug trade/abuse related problems, correctly perceiving these policies' effects are difficult when one is only viewing slightly different variants of the same policy, such as differing allocations of law enforcement and medical treatments, or differing jail sentences for the various prohibition related offense. Accurately perceiving the laws and their effects requires a wider view giving us something different to compare existing policy with. Since we are talking about drug prohibition, the proper contrast would be with a time when the now illegal drugs were not illegal. That requires us to pull ourselves back to view a longer period of time, back before the turn of the century when these substances were legal.


While the list of controlled substances is lengthy, popular attention focus upon the most popular ones: Cannabis, the Opiates (primarily heroin), and cocaine. Unlike other controlled substances, these are primarily natural plant substances, or alkaloids contained within the natural plant (Cocaine, for example, is an alkaloid of the same pharmacological family as the alkaloids caffeine and nicotine, both of which occur naturally in minute amounts in Coffee beans, Tobacco and tea leaves). As such, these substances have long histories of use to varying degrees medicinally, ritually or regularly with varying implications predating prohibition.

Cannabis, also known as Hemp, and since the 1920s/1930s as "Marijuana", was widely used medicinally, i.e. for menstrual pains. Various social groups and religious sects have used it for its psychoactive properties, in ways similar to that of wine and other alcoholic beverages its intoxicating properties traditionally seen as delightful (does anyone remember Hashish Candy?) For reasons founded in politics and the press, this perception changed by 1937 when Cannabis was effectively criminalized as the result of press campaign against it christening it with its purported Mexican slang name Marijuana as a play upon anti-foreigner prejudice. More recently though, "Marijuana" has been found useful for glaucoma patients (for reducing eye-pressure) and for chemotherapy sufferers and AIDS patients (for combating nausea and increasing the appetite). While removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commissioner Harvey Anslinger in 1940, the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) own Administrative judge, after an exhaustive review of all the scientific research, ruled (in a 1989 case over whether its use in medicine should be legal) that Cannabis is "one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man." [Its continued persecution testifies to the number of unethical if not mentally defective persons who acquiesce if not make money from its demonification through such criminal activities as law enforcement and drug "treatment"].

Opiates, also known as narcotics, have been used in medicine since the time when Greece was a major power. Originally, this meant Opium sap, applied topically or taken internally was used as an effective pain-killer. The 1800s brought the isolation of its alkaloids, such as codeine and morphine, and also the development of more direct modes of administration as with the invention of the hypodermic syringe. This amplified morphine's pain-killing properties, its pleasant effect, and its tendency to reduce the body's internal endorphin production (thus amplifying its physical addictiveness), and its possible potential for abuse. In response, the 1900s brought the development of synthetic opiates, ostensibly in the hope of developing one that was non-physically addictive. While this goal continues to elude medical science, opiates remain valuable medicines, with each one, from opium, to heroin, to the synthetics, best suited for each particular application.

Cocaine, a natural alkaloid found in the leaves of Erythroxylum Coca plant, has a dualistic effect, serving as a central nervous stimulant and local anesthetic. First isolated around 1860, and made available in pure form in 1884, cocaine was used for a wide variety of purposes in a wide variety of ways with a wide variety of results from beneficial to disastrous: (the latter being the case with cocaine injections, and to a lesser extent, with cocaine sniffing powders). Today, the concentrated drug the only basic form of the drug available under prohibition is used by doctors as a local anesthetic. At times it has been used for other purposes, such as treating pain or arthritis, as was the case respectfully with Dr. Milton Reder of New York City, and a California clinic where slowly absorbed cocaine restored joint movement to a woman suffering a severe case of arthritis which conventional medical treatments were to no avail.
Siegel, Ronald; Intoxication, 1989: 308-311

Less known today to most people is the cornucopia of medicinal benefits afforded by the use of the non toxic natural substance: Coca Leaf. An herb containing 14 alkaloids, numerous vitamins (including, in different varieties, A and C) and essential oils, Coca leaves have been used in Andean cultures for several thousand years. Chewed in leaf-form, or drank as a tea, Coca is used to treat high altitude sickness, nausea, general debility and numerous ailments, including those of the gastro-intestinal tract. More recently since 1988 Coca has been available in the form of a number of products for its therapeutic effects.

As a stimulant that has been taken in ways that directly paralleling that of licit substances, cocaine provides the clearest text-book example of how our drug laws affect drug abuse through the supply and demand sides of the equation. Most ironically, it is also the illegal drug that has evoked the most concern over the past decade and a half.


Two decades after the enactment of the Rockefeller laws, and eight decades after the enactment of the Harrison Act, our perspective must cover the past century back to the enactment of New York's first cocaine related law. This history clearly shows that any perspective must be broad not only in years, but in the many ways this stimulant has been used. In sharp contrast to today, consumers in those days prior to prohibition had a choice between all forms of the drug, from sniffing powders and injections, to drinking beverages like the original Coca-Cola. Indeed, if our concern is drug abuse [rather then criminal mercantilism], any discussion of cocaine must start with defining its different forms. Hearing the term "cocaine," makes cocaine hydrochloride (HCI), the white powder, the highly concentrated form of the alkaloid commonly snorted, come to mind. Cocaine sulfate, another form of concentrated cocaine that is smoked, is what we call crack. There is no doubt that these forms of cocaine are generally undesirable. While they have been used by many in a controlled and relatively responsible manner, there abuse liability is undeniable. Though not physically addictive, they can be nonetheless intensely habit forming and/or toxic. This is especially so with smoking concentrated cocaine (i.e. crack), due to the pharmacological factors of rapid intake and metabolism that gives a quick, intense, but fleeting "rush."

To invert the paradigms for a moment, what about non-concentrated cocaine© that is, cocaine used like caffeine? From what the press repeated through the mid-1980s, this appeared irrelevant: was not it pounded and pounded again into the public consciousness that cocaine was simply bad no ifs ands or buts. Indeed, this was a major theme of Mark S. Gold's 1983 book 800 COCAINE.
The reader will discover that certain ideas are repeated throughout this book. This is deliberate. It is done to emphasize what I consider the key issues concerning cocaine: That it should not be regarded as a benign recreational drug. That it should not be regarded as a benign recreational drug. That its use can exact a terrible toll. That it can cause addiction. That there is no "cure" for cocaine addiction except permanent and total abstinence from its use. That i is better to say a firm "NO" to the drug than to have to deal with its destructiveness once it takes hold.
Given this presense as a universal truth, Gold's conceptualization of cocaine was grossly over simplistic for being oblivious to the pharmacological factors of cocaine's various forms. Non-concentrated cocaine is clearly not concentrated cocaine. While this stimulant can be intensely habit-forming and toxic in more directly administered doses, due to the intense, brief effect, dilute cocaine has a milder yet longer lasting effect without the "crash" and subsequent abuse potential. The two are no more alike then drinking Coffee and snorting pulverized NoDoz.

As the rashness of the 1980s slips behind us though, the differences between dilute and concentrated cocaine is finally being acknowledged by a variety of sources, including Dr. Mark S. Gold, author of the 1983 book 800 COCAINE, and founder of the Fair Oaks, New Jersey based hot-line of the same name. Five years later, Gold writes:
... it [regular Coca leaf chewing] is much safer than pure cocaine administered by more efficient routes. It is clear that the obsessive self-destructive addiction liability of cocaine increases with the purity of cocaine and the efficiency of its administration [intranasal cocaine HCI, and to a far greater degree, freebase and crack smoking]... the behavior effects of cocaine are [clearly] dose dependent. Verebey, K., Gold, M.S.; "From Coca Leaves to Crack: The Effects of Dose and Routes of Administration in Abuse Liability; Psychiatric Annals, September 1988, Volume 18, Number 9: 514-515
This re-awakening of our consciousness about dilute oral cocaine is not limited to those in the field of what is now called drug treatment. According to Mark A.R. Kleiman of Harvard, drug advisor to President Clinton Daedalus, Summer 1992):
If all cocaine taking involved low-dosage oral forms of the drug, cocaine might be no more controversial than its chemical relative, caffeine. It is the administration of the purified chemical, either as a powdery hydrochloride salt, which can be snorted or injected, or as an anhydrous base (freebase or crack) which can be vaporized and inhaled, that has twice given cocaine an evil reputation.
To bring the paradigm fully around, what about the parent substance: Coca? It is known that South Americans have consumed Coca leaves for thousands of years, with none of the harms of concentrated cocaine's abuse, and with a great deal of benefits. Indeed, as Dr. Ronald Siegel notes in his 1989 book Intoxication, Siegel, ibid: 300
Coca leaf stands out amongst the stimulants, licit and illicit, as the easiest to control and the one least likely to produce toxicity and dependency.
Indeed, history prior to prohibition strongly buttresses Dr. Siegel's view, particularly that of Vin Mariani. Vin Mariani was a wine of Coca, sold in one pint bottles, each containing an extract of Coca representing two ounces of the leaves.

Those concerned about drug abuse would be interested in noting that the half-century of Coca use in Europe and North America is consistent with the finds of researchers as Siegel, Gold, or Kleiman. While criticism of cocaine came within months of the isolated drug's mid-1880s debut, Coca, particularly Coca wine received continual praise throughout its half century of widespread use, even from strong temperance advocates. According French Army Surgeon in Chief Dr. Libermann:
I have also employed it [Vin Mariani] in cases, happily rare in our army, of chronic alcoholism resulting from the abuse of brandy, absinthe or strong liquors. Vin Mariani produces all the excitement sought by drinkers, but had at the same time a sedative influence on their nervous systems. I have frequently seen hardened drinkers renounce their fatal habit and return to a healthy condition.

Mariani, Angelo; Coca and Its Therapeutic Applications,1892: 54-55
Praise of Vin Mariani and Coca went all the way to the top in 1898 when Pope Leo XIII gave Angelo Francois Mariani Vin Mariani's creator and entrepreneur a gold Papal medal citing Mariani as a Benefactor of Humanity for rendering Coca to the world. [Pope Pius X did likewise with Mariani in January 1904 (just months before the anti-Coca campaign erupted in the US through the AMA/APha and USDA through Knights of Columbus Harvey Wiley, in concert with Knights of Malta William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire).

In short, while concentrated cocaine should be discouraged, diffuse cocaine whether taken through chewing Coca leaves, drinking Coca tea (e.g. Peruvian Mate de Coca), Coca wine (described by a leading researcher of cocaine and cocaine/alcohol toxicology in the February 26, 1992 Journal of the American Medical Association as a "benign indulgence"), or the original Coca-Cola is not such a concern particularly for a society that allows Coffee and Tobacco.

Today's controversy is not whether cocaine use can be as safe as caffeine if used as caffeine. Rather, the question is what are prohibition's effects? More specifically, what has prohibition done to supply? What has it done to demand? Answering these questions naturally requires us to look at the supply and demand sides of the market at every major step of policy change. This history reveals 5 major steps:

Poison Control Laws.

These required clear labeling of concentrated cocaine as poison, sometimes with symbols as skull and crossbones.

Prescription requirements for isolated cocaine.

These banned possessing cocaine in its pure forms. Cocaine HCI could only be possessed upon a doctor's prescription. The first of these laws were passed in Oregon in 1887.

Prescription requirements for cocaine period.

These laws extended the early bans on the popular sale and possession of cocaine to include anything containing any amount of cocaine (with no regard to questions of toxicity or abuse potential), without a doctor's prescription (which itself was often not allowed to be refilled under these laws). The first of this sort of laws were passed in Arizona in 1899. These were the laws that outlawed Coca.

Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906.

Although not a prohibition act, this Act did more than require the proper labeling of cocaine-containing products; it gave the U.S.D.A. (through its Bureau of Chemistry) the virtual power to move against the sale of certain substances without setting any objective criteria. For this reason amongst others, the Pure Food and Drug Act was the U.S.D.A.'s carte blanch to move against Coca leaf (upon confirming the impracticality of its commercial production in the U.S. in 1904), while promoting Tobacco.The Harrison Act of December 17, 1914. On the surface a "tax" law, this Act essentially Federalized the State laws prohibiting Coca by requiring non-refillable prescriptions© which in turn were only allowable at the whims of what the Treasury Department (the agency charged with enforcing Harrison) and the AMA/APha (the guilds given a degree of influence over the government's definition of legitimate medical practice) deemed fit.

As only Coca, not the isolated drug was available prior to 1884, our analysis must start here. Prior to that time of course, cocaine use broadly speaking was exclusively indirect, being taken through Coca products, such as Vin Mariani. While the mid 1880s brought a great deal of attention to the hydrochloride, and with it, accounts of abuse and cries for its control, dilute cocaine use, primarily through the Coca beverages remained the overwhelming choice of consumers, continuing to grow in popularity through the latter 1880s, the 1890s, and even into the early 1900s. Although a time of growing medical interest in refined white powder drugs, where medical journals displayed more and more accounts of the use of refined drugs, consumer interest overwhelmingly remained with the natural product, as it generally does with any natural stimulant. Numerous new products were introduced, including Coca-Cola. Such products were used for a wider range of medical uses; more people began choosing it as a regular stimulant; indeed, William Martindale, President (1899-1900) of The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and author of ten editions of The Extra Pharmacopoeia, predicted that Coca would ultimately replace Coffee and Tea! Andrews, George; Solomon, David; The Coca Leaf and Cocaine Papers; 1975: 43

Of particular popularity was the use of Coca products sold as Tobacco substitutes. French Army Surgeon in Chief Dr. Libermann reported that he had:
... used Vin Mariani to save smokers of exaggerated habits, from nicotinism.
A few glasses of Vin Mariani taken in small doses, either pure or mixed with water, acted as a substitute for pipes and cigars, because the smokers found in it the cerebral excitement which they sought in tobacco, wholly preserving their intellectual faculties.
Mariani, ibid: 557__
Indeed, Coca as a Tobacco substitute was a widely promoted idea through the waning years of the 19th century: an idea promoted into the 20th century© though not very far, given the U.S.D.A. campaign to end Coca's "indiscriminate sale and use." It must be pointed out that this did not take place in the absence of laws directed at cocaine.

Poison control laws

Äs enacted during the latter 1800s ensured that people possessing white powder drugs knew the hydrochloride's toxicity. Restrictions upon the hydrochloride (such as Oregon's 1887 law), more intrusive, were of little consequence because of the traditional consumer preference for natural substances. Indeed, as Daniel K. Benjamin, former U.S. Labor Chief of Staff and Professor of Economics at Clemson University, and Roger LeRoy Miller, Research Professor of Economics at Clemson, and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami wrote in 1991:
Prior to 1914, cocaine was legal in this country and used openly as a mild stimulant, much as people use caffeine today. Cocaine was even an ingredient in the original formulation of Coca-Cola. This "extensive" type of usage small, regular doses spaced over long intervals© becomes more expensive when a substance is made illegal. Such usage is more likely to be detected by the authorities than is "intensive" usage (a large dose consumed at once), because the drug is possessed longer and must be accessed more frequently. Thus, when a substance is made illegal there is an incentive for customers to switch toward usage that is more intensive. In the case of cocaine, rather than ingesting it orally in a highly diluted liquid solution, as was done before 1914, people switched to snorting or even injecting it after the passage of the Harrison Act [emphasis added]. Benjamin, D.K.; Miller, R.L.; Undoing Drugs; Beyond Legalization: How We the People, Can Retake America From the Drug Dealers, Drug Addicts, and Drug Enforcement Agents; 1991
Just the same, the change in the proportion of dilute cocaine users versus concentrated cocaine users between the very early 1900s and 1915 (when the Harrison Act took effect) did not take place in a vacuum. Whereas as Coca leaf shipments grew right up until 1906, one can not disregard the influence of changing policies upon changing supplies. Such changes in policy were of course the enactment of the new State anti-cocaine laws aimed against Coca products, as well the U.S.D.A. campaign to outlaw Coca's interstate commerce through various proposed P.F.D.A. amendments against "habit-forming" substances (which of course were not applied to Tobacco). While earlier poison control laws and cocaine hydrochloride (HCI) restrictions did not affect Coca supply, such newer laws against cocaine per se certainly did.

First passed in Arizona in 1899, such laws were passed in a flurry of State legislative activity through the early 1900s up until 1913, when every State but Texas and Vermont banned oral preparations containing any amount of cocaine without a prescription (a requirement itself that often precluded re-fillable prescriptions). Connecticut for example, banned Coca wine in 1905; New York, apparently in 1907 with what was known as the Smith Act, passed on June 5, 1907.

Such laws virtually wiped out the Coca market: one could no longer purchased Coca teas, wines or colas. Most importantly, these more restrictive laws were immediately followed by a rapid growth in the market and use of cocaine HCI, which was found easy to smuggle into States with such laws. From about 1905 onwards, accounts of the popular use of cocaine HCI soared, as did the number of crimes committed (the murder rate for instance tripled after 1907). One new phenomenon was the smuggling of cocaine HCI through all sorts of media including hollowed out books into those States that had outlawed the stimulant in all forms. In such a legal climate this made sense, for smuggling small envelops of white, crystalline powder was infinitely easier then bringing in bulky bottles of Coca wine. All of this should have been taken as proof that evidence that these laws were disastrous.

As the States moved against the supply of Coca beverages, a new market emerged to circumvent this: the market in cocaine HCI. Whereas one previously went to the soda fountain, this was replaced by the "peddler" of powders: the new supply and demand for cocaine users. Clearly the emerging policies of repression were fueling the very problem used as their justification.

Nevertheless, this was presented a reason -- excuse -- to Federalize these policies, even though the 1912 Hague Opium Conferences, then erroneously cited by State Department official Hamilton Wright as obliging the U.S. to ban Coca, clearly exempted substances containing no more then 0.1% cocaine. Chapter III, Article 14 of that conference specifically exempted dilute cocaine:
"the contracting powers pledge themselves to apply their laws and regulations governing the manufacture, importation, sale, and exportation of... preparations... containing... more then 0.1% cocaine."
By the time World War I started, the U.S. was well on its way of starting its longest war ever. The House of Representatives would pass the Harrison Act sponsored by Upper East Side New York Representative Francis Burton Harrison in 1913; the Senate passed it in 1914, with Woodrow Wilson signing it into law that December 17.


Existing laws clearly convolute the market and convolute use in ways leading to greater and greater abuse. What had happened was the market shift. Consumers, finding their supplies of Coca cut off with (Step 3) the enactment of State laws banning cocaine in all forms, and (Step 4) the U.S.D.A.'s campaign, lets be frank: to make the world safe for Tobacco began switching to cocaine HCI (or cigarettes). I invite anyone to check out the long term growth in Tobacco cigarette sales, shown in a graph on page 230 in Edward Breecher's classic 1972 book Licit and Illicit Drugs.

New consumers, who by every indication would have been satisfied with Coca, were instead introduced to the concentrated drug, its black market and of course its abuse potential. Cutting of the supplies of Coca not only created the lucrative illicit market in cocaine (and heroin) HCI, prohibition glamorized the very types of potentially dangerous drug use that would have never occurred to virtually anyone: how many people snort, smoke or inject purified caffeine, nicotine or alcohol? Nonetheless, we as a nation have chosen to ignore this, by creating overly simplistic myths that confuse the issue and prevent us from seeing how prohibition encourages drug abuse. It is commonly written that prior to being found dangerous, cocaine was seen as a wonder drug, a prior belief thus dismissed as delusion. In fact the delusion was that the different forms of the drug are unimportant indeed irrelevant to the real issue of drug abuse, as if there were no differences between using natural plants and their highly refined derivatives (or synthetic “equivalents”). No one thinking about this is not going to believe that snorting NoDoz is the same thing as drinking caffeinated Coca-Cola. No one here would care, if asked, to knowingly adopt policies that promote drug abuse. Nevertheless this is exactly what we have done with our laws against cocaine. Through banning this stimulant in any form regardless of the pharmacological issues of health and drug abuse we have unquestionably inverted supply and perverted demand.

This is also applicable to the story of opiates. Previously people smoked opium; they did not inject heroin. To broaden our perspective more recently outside the U.S., this story has been repeated all over South-East Asia in the wake of numerous bowing to U.S. pressure. While reasonable people can debate policy about substances with true potential for abuse, even for adults, such as cocaine HCI and the sulfate (crack), refined heroin, or (in an altogether different sense), PCP, the mercantilistic policies of banning Coca and subsidizing Tobacco (while deluding ourselves with the false notion that policy is mainly concerned with health) will certainly leave an indelible blot on our nation's history. While debate centers around prohibition's effectiveness at thwarting the illicit drug trade, prohibitionists in fact have unwittingly created and perpetuated the problem. Asides from increasing crime and drug abuse, prohibition's other main effectiveness is destroying the supply of those substances that are not a worry, and creating the market and profits in those that are. Prohibitionists will one day have to answer to history for their addiction to false concepts and their narrow perspective that makes this© and themselves momentarily look good. So will those that refuse break free of the misconceptions underlying existing policy and see and think the issue through for themselves.


Many of the following suggestions must also occur at the federal level. Nevertheless, New York has a golden opportunity to lead the way in meaningful drug-abuse reduction policy innovation by courageously eschewing our "Rockefeller" type of laws by doing the following: Repeal the prohibitions on natural plant forms. Allow their sale, possession and use where appropriate, such as preparations that present the natural substance in a way mimicking the effects of the natural plant's use. History shows that prohibition unequivocally causes a shifting away from natural plant forms to concentrated forms which are easily abused by precipitating the emergence of the dominant market in white powders. Given the costs of drug abuse, why would we want to do this?

Cannabis as medicine/ Cannabis as an social relaxant for adults.

Allow development of oral forms, and safer forms of smoking. Repeal the prohibition on water pipes and other accessories that reduce the risk of smoking: why make something more harmful than it need be? There is evidence that Cannabis serves as an alcohol substitute; anyone personally acquainted with both these substances can not justify the prohibition of the one with zero deaths and the legal status of the one with 110,000 lives annually. Because of the possible hazards of smoking, particularly with large amounts of low quality produce, the development of Cannabis products must not be stymied. Just the same, outlawing Cannabis product advertisements is equally as senseless particularly when advertising for alcoholic beverages is allowed. This hardly means the government would not have any involvement, but let it be limited and honest. Age restrictions for the purchase and possession of Cannabis for instance are reasonable. Confusing the dangers of alcohol with those for Cannabis such as blaming "Marijuana" for accidents when a train engineer smokes a joint while drinking enough beer to give them an alcohol blood content way over the legal limit, on the other hand, is not only dishonest, it is utterly irresponsible.


Allow doctors the full range of choices, permit medical professionals to prescribe as they see fit the right painkiller for the particular situation; repeal the prohibition upon medical heroin. Allow the OTC sale of Opium with reasonable age restrictions. Let the natural repulsion against needles come into play and discourage the sale of syringes and white powder drugs outside of hospital/pharmacy settings (Who here knows of needle freaks who looked forward to getting shots as children?)

Coca for humanity.

There is no legitimate excuse for outlawing Coca leaf. Allow its general sale like Coffee, tea, etc, with possible age restrictions for the more potent preparations, such as some Coca wines. In contrast to white powder drugs (and arguably alcohol and Tobacco), there is no argument whatsoever for prohibiting advertising for Coca leaf products. As a society of stimulant users, and as a government which claims to act in the public interest, we would possess no logic by prohibiting the advertising the most benign natural stimulant while allowing that for others© especially when advertising is crucial to alert the public to healthier alternatives. Since we need to reverse the current use of concentrated cocaine, why stymie the best way of bringing this about?

Use existing resources more efficiently; target them against the real threats. If the idea of drug prohibition is to be salvaged at all, keep only the more harmful substances illegal, and establish some sort of objective standard to be applied against these substances, whether they be cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, heroin, THC, or Coca, Coffee, Tobacco, Opium, Cannabis, or anything else, including pharmaceutical (these for instance take anywhere from 14,000 to 27,000 lives annually, whereas alcohol abuse takes over 150,000, Tobacco addiction over 400,000, and all illicit drug abuse takes 3,800 to 5,200© of which zero are attributed to Cannabis. Direct resources against their sale and unauthorized manufacture© in particular, to minors, if such prohibitions are to remain.

Education, not indoctrination.

Educate to show the differences between different drugs, different forms, and of course use and abuse. Ensure the highest quality of health care research ensure that medical research does not become politicized. Abuse is enough of a problem; our limited resources are best directed against abuse. Would anyone suggest that we chastise social drinkers in order to fight alcoholism? Drug abuse is enough of a problem: it does not need to be exacerbated by myths, half-truths and lies, nor should we allow political opportunism to subvert a legitimate fight against drug abuse. It should go without saying that research on drugs, their use and abuse must be objective; the public interest demands nothing less. Politicizing it has no place on the honest drug-abuse fighter's agenda. What after all is more important, health or dogma? Truth or nonsense?

Cocaine Prohibition: Its Effects, Quantitative and Qualitative

Douglas A. Willinger 1992


Since 1914, the meaning of cocaine policy has been the prohibition of the (non-medically prescribed) production, sale, and use, of cocaine, regardless of its form or consequences. Cocaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the leaves of certain varieties of Erythroxylum Coca. In addition to being an effective local anesthetic© the only one found in nature, cocaine serves as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. As such, cocaine is a member of the same family of drugs as caffeine and nicotine, alkaloid-stimulants found respectfully in Coffee beans and Tobacco leaves. Cocaine however is classified by statute most differently, as a "narcotic." While that word has generally evolved into a catch-all phrase for officially disapproved drugs, the controlled Substances Act of 1970 defines cocaine and the Coca leaves that contain as "schedule II" substances. These are defined by that Act as substances said to have a high potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical treatment in the U.S., and a high potential for abuse, of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.


By definition, cocaine prohibition aims at the reduction or elimination of cocaine's production, sale and use. Because of the perception that cocaine is intrinsically a bad drug, prohibition in turn is viewed as "good" policy. Hence it is assumed that restricting cocaine's use necessarily serves the general welfare.

Questions of prohibition's effectiveness, as exemplified by the October 11, 1992 Presidential debates are answered in the affirmative by references to prohibition's effects at reducing cocaine use: to the President, prohibition is responsible for lower reported levels of cocaine use amongst high school students; to his Democratic Party candidate, prohibition, particularly the criminal justice system© saved his "recovering addict" brother's life; to the Texan alternative, prohibition is the best protection for unborn children from their drug addicted mothers.

None of these men need mention that their support for prohibition rests upon selective observations- if not down right falsehoods: George Bush need not mention that cocaine abuse(such as the use of crack) is up; William Clinton can ignore the high costs of protecting people from themselves in liberty and tax dollars, to say nothing of the philosophical ramifications; Ross Perot need not even concern himself with the recent findings that cocaine itself does not cause birth defects, lest he concern himself with the children rather then the headlines. Clearly, prohibition does not necessarily reduce cocaine usage; indeed it can be said that cocaine prohibition fosters the drug's abuse. Through the 1980s, the U.S. alone increased its drug law enforcement efforts several fold, in police efforts, prosecutions, and tax dollars. Seizures of contraband drugs, property, along with arrests, prosecutions, convictions and prison terms were at an all time high, as are all the problems now associated with cocaine's trade and use. Prohibition supporters could be expected to challenge this implication: that prohibition is not a bulwark but a catalyst for many of today's problem. Nonetheless, if existing policy. If this is the sort of policy that merits our political leaders' unequivocal support, then they have set very low standards for such an important issue. Perspectives of drug policy may differ, yet there can be little disagreement that such policy should serve the public interest, and that current policy frankly falls short.

Perhaps the same thing could be said of the dominant way of viewing prohibition. These usually focus upon isolated quantitative indicators, while almost always remaining wedded to such basic notions that cocaine is a bad drug, and prohibition is good policy. Objectively, furthering the public good should really be the mission of any rational drug policy purported to serve the general welfare. If prohibition's effects upon the public good are truly our base line measurement of its success, judging it solely by selected primary effects upon cocaine production, sale or use cheats the public when that policy is not synonymous with serving the general welfare. Because a law's isolated success does not automatically mean that it serves the social good, an infinitely superior assessment of cocaine prohibition approaches the question of its utility, quantitatively and qualitatively. One way of ascertaining prohibition's effects, for example, would be asking if it resulted in fewer users, and if so, whether this is socially beneficial? The answers, which can be found by comparing periods of cocaine prohibition with those when cocaine was legal, may give us a valuable insights into the true nature of existing policy and to the sense of intensifying it. Quantitatively, we could call cocaine prohibition a success if we focus only upon its primary goals of reducing cocaine's sale and use. In both the amount of the drug consumed and the percentage of the overall population using it, use is far less then if it had never been criminalized. Since prohibition makes cocaine less conveniently available then legal stimulants, relatively few people use it relatively infrequently, relative to the use of its licit counterparts. While a majority of the population take caffeine primarily through beverages such as Coffee, Tea and soft-drinks, and a significant minority take nicotine through Tobacco products and nicotine addiction maintenance devices as chewing gums or skin patches, only a small faction take cocaine.

Qualitatively though, prohibiting cocaine has been a disaster, whether measured by its effect upon cocaine production, how it is used, or the ultimate results of this where abuse becomes likely. Prohibition does not reduce cocaine production, regardless which aspect of "cocaine production" is addressed: its natural synthesis within Coca leaves, or its unnatural extraction and refinement into concentrated form. Indeed, under the latter definition, cocaine production has tremendously skyrocketed, along with the ill social effects we have come to expect with this influence upon the drug's trade and use.

Coca eradication© the effort to thwart cocaine's natural synthesis© has been an exhaustive, expensive, arduous waste. While Coca leaf has been described as delicate, the Coca plant is anything but. A sturdy shrub ranging in fully grown size from a 2 to 30 feet, Coca must be uprooted by hand or poisoned with generally toxic chemicals in order to be effectively destroyed (setting the plants on fire for instance is ineffective, for burnt Coca will re-spout). With thousands of acres of Coca cleared through such labor intensive or environmentally destructive means, these efforts have been virtually for naught; for in contrast to the difficulty of Coca eradication, Coca cultivation is relatively simple, given the right climate. Numerous tropical and semi-tropical regions possess this; hence Coca has been grown outside its indigenous Andean habitat, for instance being cultivated in Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, parts of Argentina, and even outside of South America, as far as Hawaii, Indonesia and even West Africa.

Eradication's failure from a cost-benefit analysis is eclipsed by its role in setting the stage for how the drug is now made available and how it is used. While people have always use intact plant substances as stimulants, such as the use of Coffee, cocaine prohibition redefines the dominant mode of cocaine production as its refinement from Coca into the concentrated drug, cocaine hydrochloride or cocaine sulfate. This result, is a damning indictment of how prohibition redefines cocaine use. Although relatively fewer people take cocaine, those that do use it, use it in worse ways. While a smaller percentage of the population ingest cocaine, whether medicinally or social-recreationally, habitually or occasionally, then they otherwise would had Federal prohibition had not been enacted, post©1914 events indicate that use has indisputably shifted towards potentially dangerous forms and modes of administration, and away from those that are arguably more benign then the customary consumption of caffeine now. Prior to the Harrison Act banning cocaine outright, and the earlier State laws aimed at suppressing the market in Coca leaf, cocaine was primarily taken indirectly through beverages made from Coca leaves containing no more then 36 milligrams of cocaine alkaloid per fluid ounce. 1

A. Cocaine in the "caffeine" paradigm.

While today's abuse of cocaine extracts a higher immediate social toll per abuser then its licit counterparts, cocaine's use in the context reserved for caffeine may be more benign then that licit stimulant's use through drinking Coffee or Tea. Taking cocaine occasionally or regularly through cocaine-containing beverages as the original Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and Vin Mariani (a Coca leaf wine invented and popularized by Angelo Francois Mariani from 1863 to 1914) is in fact characterized favorably by scholars of this mode of administration for cocaine. Edward Breecher, author of Consumers' Union's landmark 1972 Report Licit and Illicit Drugs, wrote that "in reviewing the historical record on Coca beverages, there is little if anything indicating that they were more threatening to health then Coffee." Joseph Kennedy, the anthropologist who wrote the 1985 book Coca Exotica: The Illustrated History of Cocaine, a comprehensive history of the use of Coca leaves and isolated cocaine, concluded that such cocainated beverages were virtually abuse-proof," recommended that they be made widely available, so as to preserve consumers' right to choice while minimizing cocaine abuse.

In noting the harmlessness of this mode of diffuse cocaine use, Kennedy observed that this was evident not so much from recent research, but from Coca's 3,000 year history, for most scientific studies have focused upon refined cocaine, the drug of abuse, rather then cocaine the caffeine substitute. Fortunately however, a number of medical researchers have worked towards closing this research gap through the latter 1980s, amongst them Dr. Ronald Siegel of the UCLA. Regarded as one of the most knowledgeable pharmacologists, who has studied the world's popularly employed stimulants, Siegel states that of "all the stimulants, natural or synthetic, licit or illicit," Coca stands out as the "easiest to control and the one least likely to produce toxicity or dependency." In a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1986, Siegel noted that South American Indians have drank Coca leaf tea "for hundreds of years with no ill effects and some medical benefit." 2

More recently, JAMA reports that Steven Karch of the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, a researcher of cocaine and cocaine-alcohol toxicity, rates these traditional modes of Coca consumption, as well as last century's practice of drinking "cocaine-laced wine" a "benign indulgence." 3

Those accustomed to the negative portrait of cocaine displayed through the 1980s may want to have their attention drawn to the frame this "painting" now hangs in: its paradigm. By popularized definition, cocaine is a drug likely to lead to compulsive use and toxicity: a perception based upon the context the media, the state and the medical guilds view it, as a concentrated drug, a white powder (cocaine hydrochloride) or rock (cocaine sulfate) taken intranasaly, by injection or smoked. This perception however is not applicable to cocaine in the paradigm traditionally reserved for caffeine. Taken in this way, orally and diffusely, relatively moderate amounts of the drug (in comparison to cocaine's abuse in its current forms) are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream from the mucosal, stomach and upper intestine membranes. Such doses give a long-lasting effect said to ebb so gently that there is none of the post-stimulatory depression now associated with cocaine known for inducing the infamous "coke craving." Additionally, cocaine's property as an local anesthetic probably serves as a significant factor in discouraging excessive imbibing due to its anesthetic action upon the nerve endings in the stomach whereas the drinkers appetite for more is inhibited. This anesthetic-inhibiter action is a likely reason why cocaine-containing Coca beverages where widely regarded as a socially desirable substitute drink for alcoholics throughout the 1870s and 1880s. 4

How the paradigm shift occurred.

Prohibition, which locks cocaine into its current paradigm, was but the culmination of a chain of events where perceptions lead to the actions that converted cocaine from a delightful alternative to caffeine to a potentially dangerous, seductive white powder poison of abuse. Cocaine's isolation from Coca around 1860, its commercialization as an isolated, concentrated drug circular 1884, the medical shift from Coca leaf infusions to cocaine hydrochloride/sulfate and the subsequent market shift after 1900 were all events catalyzed by certain narrow way of thinking that placed dogmas over reason.

How people thought© particularly with their perceptions and reactions© is crucial in regards to the public's support for prohibition. Imagine, if you will, a scenario where other substances of cocaine's category inhabit its familiar context. Instead of being popularly consumed as components of Coffee, Tea or Tobacco, caffeine and nicotine are white powders that people took up their noses, whereas the public simply sees these plants as illicit drug sources: for remember, in this reality, they are illegal. Since these drugs are popular and illegal, a lucrative black market abounds, where their per gram weight is higher then that of gold (Tobacco, for example was more expensive then gold during the 1600s when it was illegal throughout much of Europe). As stimulants, each has an abuse potential with ill effects more similar then dissimilar then that of refined cocaine. Taken in concentrated form, they would give spectacular but brief effects likely to lead to compulsive use. As such, caffeine and nicotine have toxic potential, both acute and chronic. As one illustration of this: laboratory rats injected with large doses of caffeine become highly agitated, to the point of biting off their limbs in an extreme manifestation of formication: the toxic symptom whereas one may feel like bugs are crawling under their skin. This, of course is commonly attributed only to cocaine because cocaine has only available in concentrated form for nearly eighty years. In our inverted alternative world, caffeine develops this reputation for the same reason: for being available only in refined form, each is popularly conceptualized as a drug of abuse; however, this is so because they are strictly illegal.

If one were to wake up to this sort of world, one might scream at the absurdity, as would a Vin Mariani drinker from the latter 1800s upon viewing today's cocaine scene. That people do not see today's situation with cocaine this way is a result of how things are perceived. Since most people perceive things merely according to what they see and how they are told, they can be conditioned to accept the current situation as normal. Such is one of the main effects of dogmas.

Today's scenario with cocaine sustains the dogma that it is necessarily a problematic drug: pictures of the out of control cocaine sniffer, or the pregnant crack-addict can only reinforce this perspective. Yesterday's controversy over cocaine however, also provide an excellent insight of how narrow perspectives focused upon one context of cocaine usage have blurred the paradigms and created a great deal of confusion. As we shall see, this was inevitable when people, rather then viewing and perceiving something in all of its dimensions, instead fix upon a simple belief usually from one's first impression© that they become proud of: whether it be Sigmund Freud or Mark S. Gold. When pride prevents them from admitting such erroneous presumption, this as cocaine's post 1884 history indicates© can have disastrous results.

The early debates about cocaine featured three operative dogmas: that cocaine was a good drug, that cocaine was a bad drug, and that refined drugs were superior to unrefined herbal preparations. Each of these had their truth. As an ingredient of Coca, cocaine was clearly a good drug, clearly superior to caffeine in Coffee or nicotine in Tobacco in a number of regards. Unlike either of these licit stimulants, cocaine was non-physically addictive, inducing no withdrawal.

During the 1980s, in a misguided focus upon the drug's identity rather then its perverse modes of use, the depressive rebound of relatively large amounts of intranasal, injected or smoked cocaine was widely mis-cited as "withdrawal" by the popular press. In the moderate doses taken through Coca beverages, cocaine increased the heart rate to a lesser degree then a comparable dose of say caffeine for a given increase in mental acuity, making it a safer stimulant for those with heart conditions. This of course is very applicable with cocaine when taken in concentrated form, as Sigmund Freud's friend Ernest von Flieschl and the U.S. anesthesiologist William Halstead found. Given cocaine by injection respectfully as a morphine substitute and as a nerve block, both men became strongly habituated to the injections, even while suffering the ill effects of cocaine poisoning.

Logically one could have expected a resounding criticism of cocaine hydrochloride's introduction into medicine and a recommendation that, as far as cocaine was concerned, that asides from its application as a local anesthetic, as first used by Dr. Carl Koller for eye surgery in 1884, we continue to use Coca in most instances. As Coca had been employed safely and successfully in the European and North American medical professions for over twenty years with none of the abuse liabilities of isolated cocaine, the abuse of the latter© particularly when taken by injection© no more indicted cocaine per se© and by extension Coca then poisoning someone with massive doses of pure caffeine would condemn caffeine and Coffee.

Nevertheless, prevailing way of perceiving things led to the blurring the paradigms, as Coca's safety was beaten in the headlines by the dangerous of isolated cocaine's abuse. Within the medical community, this perception was undoubtedly catalyzed by the popular idea that herbal medicines were "old fashioned," while refined drugs were "modern." Hence "cocaine," rather then the abuse or the use of refined cocaine, was targeted as the problem. In later years, when virtually no one dared to defend the alkaloid by name, the reluctance to do so would only confirm the misconception that cocaine© and therefore Coca© was unequivocally pernicious.

This paradigm shift, started during the 1880s, but took thirty years before coming to full fruition. Through the 1890s, even after 1900, cocaine continued to be overwhelmingly consumed through Coca beverages containing modest amounts of the alkaloid: a past time of sufficient popularity to have possibly influenced the christening of that decade as the Gay Nineties. While there were press accounts of cocaine hydrochloride's intranasal abuse, upon being merchandised as a sniffing powder for treating catarrh (not a good idea!), these were isolated enough to be newsworthy. The statistically significant shift towards refined cocaine only came on the heels of the great anti-cocaine crusade of the early 1900s and the subsequent laws against cocaineª containing beverages such as Coca-Cola. A campaign that was interestingly most intense in the south-eastern U.S. where Tobacco was economically entrenched (Coca after all was widely promoted as a Tobacco substitute that gave smokers "the excitement they sought, while preserving their intellectual facilities”, 6 it came on at full strength with the intervention of United States Department of Agriculture. Following soon on the heals of its experiments with the cultivation of Coca and other "drug" crops (including Hemp and Opium, but apparently excluding Coffee, Tea, Tobacco or any of the crops customarily cultivated for fermentation into alcohol) on the Potomac flats to explore the feasibility of their commercial cultivation in North America, 7 ; a campaign against Coca leaf was initiated through USDA Bureau of Chemistry head, and the first FDA administrator Harvey Wiley. Known primarily for his efforts to protect the public from "dangerous" substances, notably certain food preservatives, Wiley was famous for researching the acute toxicity of such substances through the use of human test subjects, who were fed food laced with certain preservatives and monitored for symptoms of toxicity.

While Wiley has been lionized for his efforts at safeguarding the public's health; nonetheless, the reasoning particularly its lack of any relevance to health matters© behind his campaign to illegalize Coca, and the FDA's early decision to exempt Tobacco products from regulatory review has generally gone un-noted by historians, none of whom apparently dare touch upon these decisions where Coca was condemned for being "habit-forming" while Tobacco products (particularly cigarettes) were quietly "grandfathered." From a perspective grounded in concern for public health, none of this made sense. No one, even at the turn of the century would deny that Tobacco was not usually "habit-forming." Publications of the time were full of reference to its habit-forming, indeed addictive properties, whereas Tobacco consumers found it difficult or impossible to quit. As society has long tolerated, indeed sanctioned the daily use of natural stimulants though, Tobacco's addictiveness indeed being one of the most reinforcing and indeed the most physically addictive substances known, more so then heroin has not been a bar to its acceptance. Indeed, if cigarettes were harmless, there would be relatively little concern over their addictiveness; rather it is their ill effects upon health that made it a popular target for remedies (of which Coca was widely recommended for) to help the Tobacco addict quit. Even then Tobacco was recognized as a health threat, for debate on this issue hinged upon the question whether Tobacco was harmful or harmless. On the contrary, any debate about Coca concerned the degree to which it was beneficial. By 1902, over 7,000 physicians had endorsed the use of Vin Mariani, and even those that were not favorably disposed to it merely saw Coca as not very beneficial, and not as a health threat.

Wiley would have undoubtedly have had a good illustration of the relative toxicity and lack of such of Tobacco and Coca if he had even tested them the way he did food preservatives. As Tobacco is one of the most toxic plant substances known© a single seed can kill a bird, while a cigar contains enough nicotine to fatally overdose three men© a simple experiment of Coca leaf and Tobacco chewers forced to swallow one quid of their leaf of choice would provide an example of the irrelevance of twentieth century drug policy to health matters. While the Tobacco chewer would be in great pain, spitting up blood (if not kneeling over permanently), the Coca chewer would feel a mild pleasant sensation in the stomach, and a slight mood elevation while taking in harmless amounts of cocaine, and sizable portion of one's daily recommended nutritional requirements for vitamins B1, C, and riboflavin.

Actual health matters asides, the USDA, its new spin off, the "Pure Foods & Drugs Administration," the American Medical Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association lead a campaign to pull Coca products of the market. From 1907 onwards, model legislation was submitted to the legislatures of each of the States with this goal. In marked contrast to earlier anti-cocaine laws, such as that of Oregon's in 1887, which were directed only at the pure drug or preparations containing it in higher concentrations, these newer laws purposely eliminated any allowances for low amounts of cocaine found in Coca. Through the years leading to 1914, the States passed such laws with an increasing frequency.

Two things happened in the ensuing climate. The first was the dramatic decline of Coca leaf imports. From 1906 to 1907 for instance, Coca leaf imports fell by 50%, as prohibitive State laws, and numerous Federal prosecutions forced Coca manufacturers to give up, or take rear-guard actions that could have been interpreted as admissions that the government's cases had merit. Some manufacturers removed the cocaine from their products altogether, while others down-played the alkaloid's presence. Mariani & Company for instance ran advertisements insisting that Vin Mariani was not a cocaine preparation (rather it was a coca preparation), hence the law did not apply to it. Even though this was technically true, this approach could have been taken as evidence that cocaine per se was something to be ashamed of, and was nonetheless only good until the next time the Illinois State legislature could meet and close this loophole. The manufacturers of Koca-Nola, an U.S. soft-drink, on the contrary, declared their product "dopeless." As cocaine was [generally] not associated with "dopey" behavior that gave opiates or even marijuana this nick name, this approach too was technically true. Since though the popular press was applying that term to cocaine however, this approach could have been interpreted as a lie, while reinforcing the new dominant perception of cocaine as something to avoid altogether.

The other main development of this age was cocaine hydrochloride emergence as a growing menace. This of course is the well known white powder form customarily sniffed that "cocaine" is known as today with all its potential ill effects upon individual and societal stability. In noting the growing market in this powder-form of the drug in 1907, The New York Times established the perception that the new laws, such as New York's Smith Act, were not to be blamed for spurring this shift in drug's form and use, even as the concentrated substance was rapidly displacing the bulky 17 ounce bottles of Vin Mariani that had previously dominated the market, for the Times with other major U.S. papers interpreted this as reason to intensify such laws by calling for their federalization. This culminated with the Harrison Act of 1914. Named for its Congressional sponsor, New York Representative Francis Burton Harrison of Manhattan's Upper East side/Harlem district, this act continued to allow the over the counter sale of medicines containing small amounts of narcotics, yet banned such sales of anything containing any amount of cocaine. Although subsequent Treasury department records make it virtually impossible to ascertain how much Coca was prescribed by doctors afterwards, because they lump Opium and Coca products and derivatives together, no Coca products were available to consumers through licit or illicit channels in the U.S. by March, 1915 when that act took effect.

The same of course can not be said about the concentrated article, cocaine hydrochloride, the object of a lucrative black market trade ever since.

C. Intensifying the Shift: The Road to Crack

Prohibition receives praise for confining cocaine use to a relative small fraction of the popularity. While an estimated 65 million and 150 plus million respectfully consume nicotine or caffeine, a mere 5 million take cocaine. Existing policy of course only focuses upon a drug's identity, and not the results© whether actual or potential© of the substance popularized under the respective policy. No where was this more apparent then with the actions of the FDA and the DEA during the 1980s with regards to Mate de Coca and crack. Representative of both extremes of cocaine use, the stories of these substances are rich in irony for illustrating prohibition's true effectiveness.

Prohibition is certainly effective at keeping consumers away from Coca tea. The stuff had been imported into the U.S. since the early 1980s, when the Peruvian government Coca monopoly ENACO 8 began marketing it as a decocainized product, which was and is legal under existing "narcotics" legislation. In actuality, the tea was not decocainized, a reality which was determined when the tea was assayed in late 1985© early 1986 when it was found useful in satisfying the cravings of those habituated to intranasally administered cocaine. Upon finding that the tea contained cocaine© roughly 5 milligrams to a single-serving bag, the DEA moved to pull the tea off the market, even though nothing indicated that this had threatened the public health in any way.

Opposing [certain] drugs for their legal status rather then their actual effects was the norm for the eighties, as evident by the expenditure of U.S. law enforcement resources upon a British tourist who possessed a bag of Coca tea. On August 24, 1986, Kumar Ashwani Korpal, 27 of Withhington, Manchester was arrested at Kennedy International Airport after he declared 30 cents worth of Coca leaves (two and a half ounces at Cusco, Peru prices) to customs officials. Told by a tour guide that bringing Coca leaves onto U.S. territory could be done "without any problem" if he declared his tea, Korpal was actually in violation of the law, under which the possession of Coca leaves was effectively a more severe crime then possessing an amount of isolated cocaine equivalent to that contained in the leaves: while the .7 grams of cocaine alkaloid contained within the 2.5 ounces of leaves would constitute a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year of incarceration, possessing over 2 ounces of the leaves themselves is a felony punishable by as much as eight years to life! Korpal could not have picked a worse time to have been caught: remember that mid 1986 was the summer of drug war hysteria that came upon the heels of Len Bias's fatal cocaine over dose that June. In a rare instance when the law was indisputably violated, the grand jury nonetheless did not indict Korpal, possibly because their sensibilities were violated by the law. To Queens District Attorney James Santucci, the fact that the Coca leaves were "contraband" though apparently mattered more then the fact that they were benign(or that he had wasted the taxpayers' dollars by even pursuing such a case). In response to the grand jury's action, Santucci declared his intent to pursue like prosecutions against tourists bring Coca leaves into the country, with the full weight of the law:

"They're not souvenirs. They're contraband... If discovered, you will be arrested, jailed and arraigned. You will face grand jury action with every possibility that the result will be far different then what happened in the first case."

[By this, DA Santucci declares his intent to commit the crimes of kidnapping and extortion to enforce laws of criminal mercantilism that subvert people's health and that violate the 1st and 9th amendments of the U.S. Constitution]

One can not know whether demagoguery or ignorance prompted Santucci's support of the waste of law enforcement resources on such as case while the New York Metropolitan area was facing the media-heralded crack epidemic of 1986. Did he actually thing that Korpal was endanger himself with Coca tea, let alone presume he would soak the leaves in solvents to produce less then three quarters of a gram of cocaine powder, let alone mix this with baking soda for sale as crack in Washington Heights?

The irony of these action however should be no mystery. While the FDA, the DEA and Customs are able to stop Coca, and may gloat over the ease by which they can pluck boxes of teas off supermarket shelves or bags of tea from hapless tourists, they can not stop cocaine. Six years after the crack menace first hit the headlines, crack's use has risen: an unpleasant reality now masked by government reports of reduced "cocaine use" (whereas that term is redefined exclusively as intranasal cocaine use). Although fewer people reportedly sniff cocaine, greater numbers now smoke it, with an overall rise in overall cocaine use.


Removing prohibition would certainly go far to remove the negative pressure upon cocaine's trade and use that guarantees today's perverse situation. Rather then having a situation where cocaine is available and used exclusively as a concentrated, potentially dangerous substance, cocaine would be available in the contexts where it once again was available as a sort of benign alternative to caffeine.

Some people may contend that this would not necessarily result in much of a social benefit. Although it is difficult to deny that a significant portion of today's cocaine market would be ceded to the re-incarnated market in Coca products, several objections have been raised, particularly by an article by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 9 Although none of them claim that switching cocaine use towards Coca use is a bad idea, there are fears that this could encourage today's type of cocaine use by making the alkaloid available to more people. With regards to cocaine in general, Mark A.R. Kleiman writes:

If all cocaine-taking involved low-dosage oral forms of the drug, cocaine might be no more controversial then its chemical relative, caffeine. It is the administration of the purified chemical, either as a powdery hydrochlorite salt, which can be snorted or injected, or as an anhydrous base (freebase or crack) which can be vaporized and inhaled, that has twice given cocaine an evil reputation.

Kleiman nonetheless dismisses the "obvious regulatory restrict cocaine to dilute forms designed to be swallowed," concluding that, “as bad as our current cocaine prohibition is, I cannot invent a version of legal availability for cocaine that would not be worse.” His reasons represent an essential fear that people could extract the cocaine (and use it as it is now used), and that those who would otherwise not be interested in trying cocaine in its current embodiment would be introduced to the drug through the beverages and then "graduate" to the concentrated drug. 10

Accordingly, dilute oral cocaine would replace some use of the concentrated drug, against a probable backdrop of rising snorters, smokers and injectors. Whether the absolute numbers of the latter did occur, would depend upon the relative magnitudes of two opposite effects Kleiman mentions: the expansion of the total market, and the substitution of weaker for stronger forms (each would “depend primarily on consumer preferences rather then on official regulations).

It is surprising that Kleiman realizes this, given his disregard for traditional drug use patterns, and his advocacy of policies certain to thwart the expansion of the markets in Coca products at the expense of isolated cocaine. In any licit drug market in history involving plants, people have always preferred the natural substances out of custom and taste. Of course, as prohibition has already reinforced if not established the use of isolated cocaine, Kleimans concern is not altogether without merit. His reflex though to flirt with elaborate regulatory schemes – to speak metaphorically of applying more coats of paint when a good sandblasting is in order – lead Kleiman to unwittingly take certain policies for granted that would reinforce prohibition’s perverse effect upon cocaine use: absolute bans on advertising on advertising the currently illicit substances. Although it is tenable to advocate such a ban on advertisements for hard – re, white powder – drugs, Kleiman fails to make this distinction, hence advocating an absolute ban on promoting Coca products. Indeed, while such restrictions may be conceptualized as bans upon billboards for crack, this concept often takes form as an absolute ban on anything that is now currently illegal.

Opposing advertising may be politically correct – usually because of alcohol and Tobacco – but also the ironic effect of this would be banning the promotion of the most benign stimulant – Coca just when it is needed the most. Nonetheless, it should serve as a potent reminder of the danger of letting the State decide which speech to ban, and is a damning indictment of the Supreme Court’s dubious decision to exempt economic speech from the Constitution’s explicit provision against Congress passing any such law. In view of the desirability of shifting or converting the cocaine market back to Coca, this policy makes absolutely no sense.

But then again, what really makes sense with existing drug policy? Although drug prohibition may be presumed to have something to do with the effects of drugs, we know this is not the case. If it was about addiction, as with that which results in physical withdrawal, then Coffee, let alone Tobacco would be illegal along with the opiates. If it were about psychological addiction, then everything but bitter tasting medicines taken occasionally would be illegal. If it were about the health effects of long term chronic use, caffeinated beverages might be legal, though there is little or no doubt that [Virginia Bright Leaf] Tobacco would be a schedule I controlled substance for having a high potential for abuse and about no recognized medicinal virtues. Coca leaf in contrast has a long history of medicinal use, is more benign then Coffee, is not physically addictive, hence the fact that it would likely be used as a daily stimulant would not be a cause of alarm, but rather one of its advocates would contend, be a cause to celebrate.

Of course this will sound like heresy to those conditioned into assuming that drug prohibition ever had the public’s health as its key goal: this conditioning occurring because people view cocaine in its current context – where it is indisputably something we would be better off with less – and because they view cocaine in the context it has been placed by prohibition. Only when people realize the circular evil of this century’s crusade against cocaine, and divorce themselves from any pride standing in the way of this realization, will they find themselves able to stop this.

Douglas A. Willinger July 1992

1 Swann, John, Science and Regulation; The Establishment of the Drug Laboratory of the USDA Bureau of Chemistry, unpublished. Presented at the History of Science Society in Madison, Wisconsin, November 3, 1991

2 Siegel, Ronald, letter, “Cocaine in Herbal Tea,” JAMA, January 3, 1986, Vol. 255: 40

3 Randall, Teri, “Cocaine Deaths Reported for Century or More, JAMA, February 26, 1992, Vol. 267: 1046

4 Personal observation.

5 During the 1980s, in a misguided focus upon the drug’s identity rather than its perverse modes of use, the depressive rebound of relatively large amounts of intranasal, injected or smoked cocaine was widely cited as “withdrawal” by the popular press.

6 Mariani, Angelo “Coca and its Therapeutic Applications,” 1892: 55

7 “ Uncle Sam’s Poison Farm,” The Boston Sunday Globe, January 10, 1904

8 Empresa Nacional de la Coca

9 Kleiman, Mark A.R. “Neither Prohibition Nor Legaliztion: Grudging Toleration in Drug Control Policy,” Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer 1992: 53

10 ibid 74-75

Friday, July 25, 2008

Drug Policy 'Environmentalism' From The 'Asses

Eco-chic Columbia Govt jesuitical front group ignores effects of prohibition

'Crusader' for the status quo
Ana Maria Caballero

The woman above reportedly heads an organization from the government of Colombia called "Shared Responsibility." This organization has a campaign to guilt-out environmentally conscious users of cocaine over the consequences of its illicit production, including that of its parent substance, the plant Coca.

"Shared Responsibility" acts as if this happens in a vacuum: that this is intrinsic to the drug and to the plant, without regard to the prohibition laws that push growers further into less-cut areas (to evade detection from criminal law enforcement), and of the refinement of the drug (encouraged by laws equating whole coca with refined cocaine).

Those that read this article see this:


1. ubetchaiam | 07.18.08

Ms.Cabellero ought to put her efforts into the insane ‘war on drugs’; when ‘drugs’ are illegal’ it only ads to the so called allure. One only has to look at Denmark and the usage of hash and marijuana. Though such is legal in certain areas, the majority of the population are not users or enthralled with ‘getting away with something’.

Best to legalize in a controlled, regulated manner those substances mankind seeks out to alter their experience of ‘reality’.

2. onlein | 07.18.08

I agree with the comment about legalizing or decriminalizing drugs; the war on drugs is insane. But I’ve long thought that the increased awareness approach should also be used. It seems, though, that many well-educated, knowledgeable Americans use cocaine while covering their ears in an I-can’t-hear-you manner when it comes to the increased awareness message. Come on. Be adults, be menschen. Using this illegal drug supports terrorists as well as destroys the environment. If you can’t stop, get help. Then someday, if drugs are legal and produced in an environmentally friendly way, you can go back to using.

3. Charles Duwel | 07.18.08

The drug warriors must be getting desperate. If you look at it rationally - not required for drug warriors - it’s the drug WAR that is the problem. It only took folks about 10 years to figure out that the alcohol war was a disaster, with the drug war it’s 60-70 years and counting. Their failures keep causing mounting problems all over the world and they still refuse to actually think about what they are doing. It’s is fun to watch such monumental stupidity but it’s getting a little old. Time to stop. After all, what is the goal of the drug war? To make sure that people only get high and [possibly] ruin their lives with alcohol? This makes no sense to me.
Also consider that the constitution requires equal treatment by the law - if anyone cares. I happen to know the Supreme Court does not.
But then they’ve always had a problem with equal treatment by the law.

4. Pete Guither | 07.18.08

Initiatives like this one, are pretty obviously PR moves to cover up the failure of the drug war. If someone stops using cocaine to save the environment, it’s unlikely to have any impact — the likelihood of influencing enough users to make a dent in the black market profits is miniscule. The smart environmentalist cocaine user knows this. However, the environmental damage could be stopped in an instant by regulating and controlling cocaine, taking almost all the black market profits out of it, and eliminating the incentive for going into the rain forests to grow coca leaves. It’s time for the Colombian and U.S. governments to have a serious discussion about alternatives to the destruction of prohibition.

5. Kirk Muse | 07.18.08

Growers of legal products don’t grow their crops in
clandestine locations. Do tobacco growers grow the crops
in national forests or on somebody else’s land? No.

Criminalize tobacco and the situation would soon change.

6. LM | 07.19.08

It would seem that the “war on drugs” is just another facet of our nation’s preoccupation with control and its ludicrous attempt at changing habits by altering the supply side of the equation, rather than the demand aspects. It’s not just coca, by the way; I work in an academic research institution in Afghanistan, and am witnessing how US (and for that matter, UK) policy is hurting people here. I recently returned from a quick field visit to Balkh in the north, where an enforced ban on poppy cultivation during this severe drought year has brought the rural economy to its knees, prompted a large exodus of enviro-economic refugees to Iran and Pakistan, and initiated a plea from local people to Turkmenistan to allow Afghan livestock to relocate there temporarily so that the flocks can perhaps survive. Poppy is not just opium here - it provides edible oil from the crushed seeds, which are also eaten (as poppyseeds are in the US), and the presscake left over from oil extraction becomes a high-protein feed for livestock during the long, harsh Central Asian winter. So the only question remaining, really, is if next year will see poppy resurgence or anti-government insurgence. If it’s insurgence, we no doubt will label it as “Taleban,” which goes to show how little we understand about the rural economy here. Poppy is a low-risk crop in a high-risk milieu, one that - unlike illicit coca - is environmentally less onerous than alternative crops; poppy uses just 1/6 of the water that wheat needs, for example, and also absorbs much more local labor. The irony is that according to the Senlis Council, there’s a global shortage of morphine, and legalizing poppy cultivation - even if in small pilot projects for the time being - would therefore be a win-win situation.

7. FatSean | 07.19.08

Make it legal for adults to use, and let the free market drive fair-trade and sustainable cocaine production.

This woman is high! When supply is so restricted, but demand never stops, does she really think this is going to do a damn thing?

I agree with the other posters, work on getting the legality fixed and everything else will fall into place.

8. thehim | 07.19.08

I’m sorry, but the blame here goes on the governments who insist on trying to eradicate this market despite the fact that doing so has been clearly demonstrated to be both impossible and unnecessary. If cocaine was decriminalized and tightly regulated, criminals who have no concern for the environment would not be in charge of its production and you could easily protect the environment. Stop deflecting the blame onto people who have no control over the real problem.

9. erik | 07.19.08

Author, you time would be better spent speaking of the evils of the drug war. You do realize that farmers are required to go out in the middle of no where to farm this drug, correct?
If the US government didn’t “force” the Columbian government to spray obvious locationed-crops with poison, this would not be an issue.

10. Ted | 07.19.08

I found this article to be uninformed in the basics of the economic and social policy regarding coca.

There are tens of thousands of square kilometers of arable land in that region to grow this high-demand (globally) primary crop. An informed reporter would ask what is driving the crops into these ecologically-sensitive areas. That is simple- it is the multi-billion dollar policy to destroy production, forcing production of this cash crop out of perfectly good farming areas.

Also, if the production abruptly ceased, the foothold that the US military holds in South America would lose its purpose. By having an ongoing drug war, the US has a “valid” reason to keep military asset near to Venezuela.

The US government has no intent on actually ending this “conflict”, and is the primary reason these crops are that deep in the jungle.

If the coke-snorting elite in America cared about the jungle, they would pressure their government to stop spraying Round-up on the arable lands.

11. name | 07.19.08

43 sq feet per gram? what kind of BS statistic is that

12. Brandon Bowers | 07.20.08

Weak. Completely ignores the fact that if cocaine were legal, farmers could purchase land on which to grow coca, just like tobacco farmers currently do.

13. dave | 07.20.08

Great points, guys — especially from Ted and name.

I’d just like to add that this article would be weak as an editorial but is pathetic and unethical as the news article it is supposed to be.

The Christian Science Monitor needs to retract this piece. If not, it deserves to lose all credibility.

The article’s reporter, apparently a high school intern for the White House, has completely bought into whatever press release she got from the office of the U.S. or Columbian drug czar.

Just because something is a green issue — which this is not — doesn’t mean a reporter shouldn’t have to do some fact checking and basic reporting.

The #1 source in this story, which is challenged in no way by the reporter and called a “Crusader” in the photo caption, works for an arm of the Columbian federal government.

Suspicious assertions are presented as fact, including:
“And slash-and-burn clearing for coca farms is one of the country’s largest sources of air pollution. The clearing also accelerates global climate change, which is shrinking Colombia’s mountaintop glaciers.”

And, as name pointed out:
“43 square feet of forest are cleared to produce one gram of cocaine”

Are you serious?

Well, if the reporter got it in a press release, I guess it has to be right.

The "'Christian' Scientists' Monitor" is neither christian or science.

"Shared Responsibility" is just another jesuitical front group that belongs on the ash heap of history.