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June 20, 2006


Postponement I know I promised at the end of yesterday's entry (Set-up) that it was intended to set the stage for deconstruction of Professor Mark Kleiman's latest pronouncement on methamphetamine; and that's still my intention. But when I started looking at the subject in detail, I found some other things I have to get off my chest before dealing with the specific items by Kleiman and King which one would have to read to understand my comments. There's a certain ironic history here;  my first contact with Dr. Kleiman was  in 1995, when he and Sally Satel, MD  co-authored a scare piece in the LAT on the 'methamphetamine epidemic.' and I had a letter published I chiding them for their 'intellectual constipation.' The gambit worked well enough to have the Times to publish my letter; it also prompted Kleiman to (foolishly, as it turned out) join a drug policy discussion list to do battle; ironically, it was just before I left for an unusually long European vacation which- given the primitive quality of e-mail  then available- also made me miss his entire presence on the list without the opportunity to exchange even one e-mail.

I have since read Kleiman's book and, when blogs became popular, I belatedly discovered he was already an avid, prolific, and highly opinionated blogger. The sum of those discoveries  tended to confirm a number of suspicions I'd already developed about drug policy analysis and those who practice it:  we (I must include myself)) have all been victimized to a variable extent by a fundamentally stupid policy which has, nevertheless, survived for nearly a century because it's so fiercely defended;  despite its perennial (and abysmal) failure to accomplish any of its stated goals.

In fact, knowing, and being able to grasp, all that didn't prepare me for the true extent of our drug policy's perversity- and what is, most likely,  the single most important reason for its improbable success: the cognitive function which has enabled humans to dominate all other biota to the extent we have is irretrievably influenced by the emotions we all share with other animals. Human emotions can-- and do-- override logic to a considerable extent. It is those emotions which have now backed us into a corner by allowing us to overpopulate the planet to an unsustainable degree with little recognition and even less discussion of the huge dangers posed by our present numbers.

I will stop right here long enough to say that this realization came only after I'd had the chance to interview thousands of admitted pot users and then analyze their data in a customized data base. The most inescapable conclusion of that experience relating to drugs is that we humans are so impelled to deny the importance of our own emotional responses in our decision making that we have made-- and continue to defend-- a number of implausible judgements about drugs and drug use.

It's even more important to realize that the same denial mechanisms obscuring the realities of drug use can be easily seen at work in all human relations, whether they involve our neighbors or people in nations halfway around the globe. We are all possessed of identical brains with the same metabolic requirements They are subject to the same emotional stimuli and prone to respond in similar fashion to similar stresses. If for no other reason, the similarity of responses by inmates in our maximum security prisons to those of  'detainees' at Guantanamo should have us all buzzing in alarm.

Instead, we remain in denial. Key revelations, like the recent suicides of detainees seem to have been largely ignored in favor of the latest political calculus.

I am certainly aware of the 'heresy' my work with pot smokers has led me to embrace; yet the coherence of the principles revealed-- along with their  applicability to most human interactions–– is so undeniable I must describe them to others. A blog  seems made to order for doing just that...

Doctor Tom


Posted by tjeffo at June 20, 2006 12:11 AM