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The problem is that addiction and its successful treatment have very little to do with the actual chemical properties of the drugs concerned and an awful lot to do with the cultural and physiological context in which they are taken.

I'll readily grant that there are psychological and social factors that contribute to the ease with which dependency forms. Nevertheless some drugs do have a shorter and deeper tolerance curve than others, and some drugs do have more severe withdrawals than others. It is, for instance, much easier to go cold turkey on caffeine than on nicotine (although I would not recommend doing so in the week leading up to an exam :-P).

If we desire an evidence-based approach to the legislation surrounding drugs, some consideration of chemical properties is inescapable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 09:45:17 PM EST
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JakeS:
If we desire an evidence-based approach to the legislation surrounding drugs, some consideration of chemical properties is inescapable.

I don't dispute this for a moment and take it as a given.  I suppose I was more trying to steer the discussion in terms of  the general issues around criminalisation/decriminalisation rather than the specific case around each particular drug.

Clearly if we adopt the general view that we should proceed with an incremental evidence based approach to de-criminalistion, then the next step is to consider each drug on a case by case basis, both clinically in terms of its specific effects, drug interactions, contra-indications, etc., and socially in terms of risks of contamination, dirty needles, access, education.

I am not medically qualified, so I am reluctant to get involved in the clinical debate.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 10:28:25 AM EST
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