“Indian officials said..they had seized nearly three tonnes of heroin originating from Afghanistan worth an estimated 200 billion rupees ($2.72 billion) amid the chaos following last month’s takeover of the country by the Taliban.”
“some states legalized it, hoping to put an end to the black market. But legalization hasn’t ended the violence.
Why? Because many states impose so many unnecessary rules.
California is one of the worst.
“The illicit market is approximately two to three times the size of the legal market,” says cannabis industry lawyer Tom Howard in my new video.
Illegal sales thrive in California because politicians make distribution pointlessly difficult.
Howard advises clients who want to open a dispensary, “You have to have a $50,000 safe, a $200,000 security system, and a $100,000 consultant help you make an 800-page application.”
Every single plant must be weighed, tagged, and tracked from seed to sale.
This information is “not being used to benefit anybody,” complains grower Jason Downs. “It’s just a waste of everybody’s time, money.”
While legal sellers struggle, clueless California Gov. Gavin Newsom complains: “Illegal cannabis grows! They’re getting worse, not better.”
His solution: California taxpayers now will spend $100 million to bail them out!”
“Illinois’ rules are probably the worst.
“Only ‘social equity veterans’ in Illinois can get a license,” explains Howard. In other words, new licenses are supposed to go to prior “victims of the drug war.”
But the bureaucrats’ rules are so complex that a full year after legalization, zero new licenses have been issued.
Meanwhile, politically connected people grabbed every existing license.
One billionaire from the Wrigley gum family “paid $155 million for six dispensary licenses,” says Howard. Illinois is “creating a cartel.””
“Other states have bad rules, too.
“Florida and Arizona are millionaires’ clubs,” says Howard. “You have to not only grow it; you have to be able to produce it and process it. You have to own your own dispensary. If you have $40 or $50 million, it’s great.”
Massachusetts requires all dispensaries to black out windows lest anyone see the marijuana. Stores must also check everyone’s IDs multiple times.
Legalization doesn’t have to be stupid.
Oregon and Colorado have reasonable rules, and in Oklahoma, “anyone can get a cannabis license,” says Howard, “provided you’ve lived in Oklahoma for two years.”
“You get a lot more innovation—more entrepreneurs coming into market. Some go out of business, and some do very well….It’s free market capitalism.”
“Substantially reducing the doses of pain medication prescribed for patients on long-term opioid therapy is associated with a threefold increase in suicide attempts and a 69 percent increase in overdoses, according to a study published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study reinforces concerns that the “tapering” encouraged by federal guidelines as a response to the “opioid crisis” causes needless suffering among patients, leading to undertreatment of pain, withdrawal symptoms, and emotional distress.”
“Although the CDC’s advice was not legally binding, and although the guidance said doses should be tapered only when medically appropriate, doctors, lawmakers, insurers, and pharmacies interpreted the agency’s warnings about daily doses exceeding 90 MMEs as a hard limit. “These and other widely disseminated recommendations have led to increased opioid tapering among patients prescribed long-term opioid therapy,” Agnoli et al. note.”
“The CDC is mulling revisions to its advice. “A revised CDC Guideline that continues to focus only on opioid prescribing will perpetuate the fallacy that, by restricting access to opioid analgesics, the nation’s overdose and death epidemic will end,” Mukkamala warned in his letter to the CDC. “We saw the consequences of this mindset in the aftermath of the 2016 Guideline. Physicians have reduced opioid prescribing by more than 44 percent since 2012, but the drug overdose epidemic has gotten worse.””
“After years of steadily moving in tandem, two of America’s worst public health trends diverged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Drug overdose deaths jumped 30 percent last year to 92,500, according to newly released federal data, a sudden surge following years of incremental increases once the opioid epidemic took hold. But suicides actually dropped slightly, from 47,500 in 2019 to 44,800 in 2020.
Those two trends have tracked closely over the past decade, so much so that there is an umbrella term in academia that encompasses both of them (among other things): deaths of despair. Much of the recent stagnation in US life expectancy can be explained by these premature deaths, concentrated especially among young men, and scholars have theorized about the economic and social conditions driving those trends.
That was the situation before Covid-19. So what happened during the pandemic?”
“one underappreciated mistake has been Washington’s long-running effort to suppress the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan and, in turn, the production of heroin and other opioids. The campaign most likely had little effect on the amount of poppy grown. Instead it shifted cultivation to Taliban-controlled territories, bolstering the militia’s revenues.”
“American efforts to suppress poppy cultivation, either through direct eradication or through incentives to grow other crops, failed to account for the basics of supply and demand. Suppression policies focus on shrinking supply, which means a fixed quantity of opium will become more expensive to produce. These policies involve a mix of threats to destroy poppy fields and the provision of resources (such as fertilizers) to encourage farmers to cultivate other crops. But if demand is not very sensitive to price increases, the quantity demanded will change little in response to the reduction in supply.”
“Between 2002 and 2019, according to the federal government’s survey data, the number of Americans who had a “substance use disorder” involving heroin roughly doubled. During that same period, according to the CDC’s data, the annual number of heroin-related deaths septupled, while the total number of opioid-related deaths quadrupled. The war on drugs helps account for that disparity, since it has made opioid use more dangerous”
“Nowadays fentanyl is showing up in black-market pills sold as hydrocodone or oxycodone and even in stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Its proliferation is a response to the very supply control measures that were supposed to reduce drug-related deaths. To the extent that the government succeeds in exerting pressure on the supply of illegal intoxicants, it encourages traffickers to distribute more-potent drugs, which are easier to conceal and smuggle.
Since fentanyl is far more potent than heroin, a package weighing less than an ounce can replace one that weighs a couple of pounds. Synthesizing opioids is also a less vulnerable and much cheaper process than production that relies on poppy crops. Researchers at the RAND Corporation estimate that heroin is at least 100 times as expensive to produce as fentanyl, adjusting for potency.
Black-market drugs were already iffy because of prohibition; the prohibition-driven rise of fentanyl has made them even more of a crap shoot. And these are the substitutes nonmedical opioid users resorted to after drug warriors succeeded in driving down prescriptions of analgesics such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. That shift replaced legally produced, reliably dosed pharmaceuticals with illegal drugs of unknown provenance and composition. The result was predictable (and was in fact predicted): As opioid prescriptions fell, opioid-related deaths rose.”
“Prosecutions for “drug-induced homicide,” which have risen dramatically in recent years, are ostensibly aimed at reducing opioid-related deaths. But as a new investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shows, there are good reasons to think they have the opposite effect. Consider the paper’s description of a typical case:
“In one 2019 case, a Westmoreland County man died from an overdose of drugs he’d gotten from a friend of a friend of a friend. Though the drugs ultimately came from a man called “Bee” in Penn Hills, the three individuals between the victim and Bee were all charged with drug delivery resulting in death [DDRD].
One pleaded guilty to drug delivery resulting in death and received a 5- to 10-year prison sentence. Another pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to a minimum of one year minus one day in jail and a maximum of two years minus one day. The third person is awaiting trial.”
It is hard to believe that such prosecutions of bit players have any impact on the supply of heroin and illicit fentanyl. Furthermore, charging people with homicide when their role in someone’s death was unintentional and incidental or highly attenuated is blatantly unjust. Under Pennsylvania law, Stormie Mauck notes in a 2019 Penn State Law Review article, “drug addicts may face imprisonment of up to 40 years for simply sharing drugs with a friend who overdoses.”
Worse, this strategy makes fatal overdoses more likely by deterring bystanders from seeking medical assistance when it could make a crucial difference.”
“Richardson, who tested positive for an inactive THC metabolite during U.S. Olympic Team Trials on June 19, said she used marijuana in Oregon, where voters approved legalization in 2014, after learning about her biological mother’s death. Had she reacted by having a drink or two, that choice would have had no impact on her athletic career.
But under the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) enforces, THC is considered a “substance of abuse,” so designated because it is “frequently abused in society outside of the context of sport.” Although the same obviously could be said of alcohol, that drug is not considered a “substance of abuse.”
Counterintuitively, Richardson’s infraction had nothing to do with “doping” as it is usually understood, since the USADA concedes that her marijuana use was “unrelated to sport performance.” Nor does her positive test result indicate that she was under the influence of marijuana during competition, since the THC metabolite cited by the USADA can be detected in a cannabis consumer’s urine for days or weeks after the last dose.
Richardson’s cannabis consumption nevertheless had severe consequences. It nullified her first-place finish in the 100-meter trials, making her ineligible for that event at this summer’s Olympics, where she had a good shot at winning a gold medal.”
“The Anti-Drug Abuse Act was one of the most disastrous laws passed in the 1980s by lawmakers posturing as tough-on-crime. It imposed substantially heavier penalties against federal crack offenders, who were predominantly black, than powder cocaine offenders, despite there being little to no pharmacological difference between the two substances. The result was that someone with a small amount of crack cocaine would receive the same sentence as someone with 100 times as much powder cocaine. The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that black people made up nearly 77 percent of all federal crack convictions in fiscal year 2020.”