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ONDCP: Better drug users who OD die than treat themselves

Old 01-28-08, 11:42 AM
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ONDCP: Better drug users who OD die than treat themselves

Via Reason.com

Some truly astonishing behavior at ONDCP:

Public health workers from New York to Los Angeles, North Carolina to New Mexico, are preventing thousands of deaths by giving $9.50 rescue kits to drug users. The kits turn drug users into first responders by giving them the tools to save a life.

[...]

The nasal spray is a drug called naloxone, or Narcan. It blocks the brain receptors that heroin activates, instantly reversing an overdose.

Doctors and emergency medical technicians have used Narcan for years in hospitals and ambulances. But it doesn't require much training because it's impossible to overdose on Narcan.

[...]

John Gatto, executive director of the Cambridge program, says such dramatic results are unusual in the world of substance abuse treatment and prevention.

"In the work that we do, oftentimes the results are very intangible," Gatto says. "This is amazing to be involved in something that literally can save people's lives. Why wouldn't we do it?"

Indeed. Why wouldn't you?

But Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.

"First of all, I don't agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That's No. 1," she says. "I just don't think that's good public health policy."

Madras says drug users aren't likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn't as likely.

Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user's motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.

"Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services," Madras says.

Digest that for a sec. Better to let a heroin user die than administer a product that, in some cases, may remove the threat of overdose death from people who use heroin to excess. This is the mentality of your modern drug warrior. We're fighting drug use not because it's dangerous or harmful, but because they believe drug use is, in and of itself, immoral.

Today's drug war isn't about saving lives, it's about saving souls. It's the same mentality that led some family values types to oppose the marketing of Gardasil. Remove the threat of cervical cancer from premarital sex and, golly, some girls might have more premarital sex. If a few have to learn an important lesson by dying of cervical cancer, so be it.

Via Mark Kleiman, who adds:

Why not just go all the way and poison the heroin supply? If withholding Narcan in order to generate more overdoses in order to scare addicts into quitting were proposed as an experiment, it could never get past human-subjects review. But since it's a failure to act rather than an action, there's no rule to require that it be even vaguely rational.

Kleiman is hyperbolizing. But it probably won't surprise you to learn that there are idiots out there who aren't.
This is really sad. Narcan shouldn't be sponsored by the government or anything, but banning it is at the least a violation of Dr. Madras' hippocratic oath and at worst, criminal.
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Old 01-28-08, 03:33 PM
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Here's a picture of it:



I would think that with all that red, white, and blue, the politicians would be in favor of it. But no - they are being unpatriotic instead.
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Old 01-28-08, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
Here's a picture of it:



I would think that with all that red, white, and blue, the politicians would be in favor of it. But no - they are being unpatriotic instead.


I read about this the other day and haven't stopped wishing unspeakable ills on Dr. Madras since.
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Old 01-28-08, 05:55 PM
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Business as usual for the nutsy drug warriors. Things haven't changed since 2000:

http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/1660.html

The murder of Peter McWilliams
by Richard Cowan (30 Aug, 2000)

The feds killed McWilliams as surely as if they had put a gun to his head.

Peter McWilliams R.I.P. 1950-2000

The death of Peter McWilliams, 50, best selling author, poet, photographer, publisher, libertarian crusader, medical marijuana activist, AIDS patient and cancer survivor is first and foremost a human tragedy. But when someone so talented dies, we can never know how much more that person may have given the human race. All of us are the poorer.

Peter was just that talented. His best-selling poetry and self-help books were an inspiration to many people in times of sorrow. His book, Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do, was quickly recognized as the ultimate defense of personal freedom. That fact makes the circumstances all the more ironic and bitter.

He was found dead in his bathroom, apparently having choked to death on his own vomit. Peter was one of the roughly 40% of those patients for whom the anti-viral drugs being used to treat AIDS can cause violent nausea. He had found that only marijuana relieved this nausea and made it possible for him to use the medications that controlled his AIDS.

Consequently, after the success of California's medical marijuana initiative in 1996, McWilliams decided to publish a book about the plant that had saved his life. He hired medical marijuana activist, Todd McCormick to write the book and to experiment to see which strains worked best – and grew best. This meant a lot of plants, and that opened the door for federal "conspiracy" charges. Think about it, a conspiracy to provide the sick and dying with something to help them in a state where the people had voted for just that. What a crime!

Although punishment is supposed to begin after the accused has been convicted, the federal government seemed intent on punishing – even killing – Peter from the time of his arrest. Even though he posed no flight risk, he was held for almost two months, until he could raise $250,000 bail. And the feds did everything possible to block that. When his elderly mother pledged her house, the prosecutors called and told her that if he smoked marijuana, she would lose her home!

As a result, his AIDS viral load, which had been "undetectable," soared to dangerous levels. Peter was also very fragile psychologically. Aggravated by his health and legal problems, he often suffered from debilitating bouts of depression. Certainly, he was badly damaged by being in federal detention, and he knew from that experience that he could not survive very long if he were sent to prison.

The federal government did everything possible to be sure that he would not get a fair trial. They began by denying the relevance of the state law, despite the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Bill of Rights.

When it realized that a "medical marijuana conspiracy" would raise issues that might make it difficult to get a jury to convict a person with AIDS, they changed the charges and accused him of simply conspiring to grow marijuana.

Then they moved to deny him the right even to mention having had cancer and AIDS – or make any reference to medical marijuana. This denied him the Anglo-Saxon common law right of claiming a "necessity" to break the law, because doing so prevented a greater harm. Surely growing a plant that saved your life would be such a necessity.

Confronted with the inability to defend himself, Peter had no choice but to take a "plea bargain," such as it was, and so he confessed to the crime of having hoped to make money in America. He was awaiting sentencing when he died.

Thus, to prosecute a dying man for plotting to grow a plant, the federal government trampled on the laws of California, the Bill of Rights, and Common Law.

The fact remains that if an individual did what the federal government did to Peter McWilliams, deliberately deprive him of medicine that would save his life, that person would be indicted for murder.

But Peter was no ordinary person. By killing him, the federal government proved that they would stop at nothing.

If they can get away with killing a world famous author…

Well, can they?
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Old 01-28-08, 11:29 PM
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He had found that only marijuana relieved this nausea and made it possible for him to use the medications that controlled his AIDS.
This just does not sound medically correct. There are many stronger anti-nausea medications available.
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Old 01-29-08, 12:11 AM
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Any side effects? Cheaper than marijuana? Honestly, do you agree with the drug laws?
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Old 01-29-08, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bhk
This just does not sound medically correct. There are many stronger anti-nausea medications available.
You don't understand, this thread is not about the correctness of facts. It is about the wonderfulness of MJ, and how the government is is a horrible monstrous creation of Satan, representing unmitigated evil.

It is similar to global warming.

Last edited by OldDude; 01-29-08 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 01-29-08, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bhk
This just does not sound medically correct. There are many stronger anti-nausea medications available.
I'm not a doctor and you are but I thought medications do not always work the same for all people.

In any event, why should the government be able to dictate what people can or cannot put into their own bodies? I think homeopathy is a crock but I don't think the government should ban homeopathic "remedies" or have the power to do so.

Last edited by movielib; 01-29-08 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 01-29-08, 07:49 AM
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Hardly shocking in the least - business as usual from the ONDCP.
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Old 01-29-08, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
You don't understand, this thread is not about the correctness of facts. It is about the wonderfulness of MJ, and how the government is is a horrible monstrous creation of Satan, representing unmitigated evil.

It is similar to global warming.
actually this thread is about how there exists a useful drug that is effective in preventing death during heroin overdose. The government is actively seeking to prevent users from obtaining this drug because it would 'send the wrong message'.
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Old 01-31-08, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
actually this thread is about how there exists a useful drug that is effective in preventing death during heroin overdose. The government is actively seeking to prevent users from obtaining this drug because it would 'send the wrong message'.
It would seem to me that the best way to prevent death during heroin overdose would be to refrain from shooting up in the first place.
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Old 01-31-08, 05:02 PM
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No, that's the best way to prevent getting high.
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Old 01-31-08, 05:12 PM
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The best way to avoid lung cancer is not to smoke, but you won't see it going away. If a similar drug could save you from that, they would be billionaires.

Forgetting messages, you have to let people be stupid with their own lives, and there is nothing wrong with trying to improve things no matter how stupid they are.
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Old 01-31-08, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by foggy
It would seem to me that the best way to prevent death during heroin overdose would be to refrain from shooting up in the first place.
And of course the Constitution gives the federal government the power to prevent people from using drugs that may be harmful to them.
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Old 02-01-08, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
And of course the Constitution gives the federal government the power to prevent people from using drugs that may be harmful to them.
Yes, it does. They're called "drug laws."
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Old 02-01-08, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
Yes, it does. They're called "drug laws."
The Constitution trumps laws. Did you sleep through that part of civics class?
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Old 02-01-08, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
The Constitution trumps laws. Did you sleep through that part of civics class?
No. The Constitution, however, is the instrument which allows our government to make laws in the first place.
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Old 02-01-08, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
No. The Constitution, however, is the instrument which allows our government to make laws in the first place.
What does that have to do with your (inaccurate) comment?
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Old 02-01-08, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by movielib
I'm not a doctor and you are but I thought medications do not always work the same for all people.
There are more than once class of strong anti-emetics available.

In any event, why should the government be able to dictate what people can or cannot put into their own bodies?
Yes. If the govt. has to pay for the consequences of what people put in their bodies.

I think homeopathy is a crock but I don't think the government should ban homeopathic "remedies" or have the power to do so.
There I disagree with you. Allowing quacks treat serious medical conditions in the name of libertarianism doesn't do any good and does quite a bit of harm to society in general.
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Old 02-01-08, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
There are more than once class of strong anti-emetics available.
A few problems with those

- they're usually delivered orally - kind of a problem when you're so nauseous you don't want to swallow *anything* and probably would just vomit it right back up.

- drugs like phenergan zonk you out like a zombie.

I'll admit I don't know enough about these "strong anti-emetics" but I sure haven't seen any used in the hospital that a) work and b) leave you functioning.

DISCLAIMER - I've never smoked pot, ever, and have no interest in doing so, but think that if people can drink alcohol they sure as hell ought to be able to smoke pot.
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Old 02-01-08, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Yes. If the govt. has to pay for the consequences of what people put in their bodies.
What are the costly consequences of people smoking pot?
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Old 02-01-08, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
What does that have to do with your (inaccurate) comment?
My comment was not inaccurate. You may have misunderstood it, however.
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Old 02-01-08, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
My comment was not inaccurate. You may have misunderstood it, however.
Mmmm.... no, I didn't. You originally said:

Originally Posted by Vibiana
Yes, it does. They're called "drug laws."
in response to this:

Originally Posted by Birrman54
And of course the Constitution gives the federal government the power to prevent people from using drugs that may be harmful to them.
The Constitution gives specific powers to the federal government. The fact that Congress sometimes passes laws outside of the scope of the Constitution does not mean that Congress has been given the power to do so- quite the opposite, in fact.
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Old 02-01-08, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
There are more than once class of strong anti-emetics available.
I defer to your superior knowledge in the field. However, why is it impossible that for this particular individual, pot was the only thing that worked for him? If you ever read any of his books (admittedly, I only read one - Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society - because I'm not a reader of self-help books which are mostly what he wrote) you certainly don't get the impression that he was a person who just wanted to get high rather than using it to deal with his AIDS.

Yes. If the govt. has to pay for the consequences of what people put in their bodies.
That shouldn't happen either. Two wrongs don't make a right.

There I disagree with you. Allowing quacks treat serious medical conditions in the name of libertarianism doesn't do any good and does quite a bit of harm to society in general.
Perhaps you haven't noticed that homeopathy and dozens of other quack "remedies" are not illegal today in our decidedly nonlibertarian society. I can see not allowing parents to inflict such nonsense on their children who lack the capacity to consent but I am not going to tell adults they have no right to be stupid in their own treatment.

Last edited by movielib; 02-01-08 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 02-01-08, 03:22 PM
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So I guess you think the FDA should not intervene in the distribution of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies? After all, by your reasoning, we all have the right to put any drug we want to in our bodies no matter if it's harmful or not ...
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