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How Heroin Addicts Helped Scientists Link Pesticides and Parkinson's 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-man's-rock-bottom-is-another-man's-eureka dept.
carmendrahl writes "Exposure to certain pesticides, including rotenone and paraquat, has been associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's disease in population studies. But how did scientists come to think of a link between Parkinson's disease and pesticides in the first place? The answer involves the 1980s drug underworld, where criminals were synthesizing modified versions of illegal drugs such as heroin to stay one step ahead of the law. One molecule in some designer heroin cocktails, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), breaks down in the human body into 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+), a nerve cell killer. Heroin addicts exposed to this molecule got Parkinson's-like symptoms. As for the connection to pesticides, MPP+ is a weed killer that was used in the 70s. It also closely resembles the structure of the pesticide paraquat. The saga, therefore, put scientists on high alert to the possibility that pesticides might play a role in developing Parkinson's."
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How Heroin Addicts Helped Scientists Link Pesticides and Parkinson's

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  • by Garridan (597129) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:43PM (#45531625)
    Usually, dumping random chemicals into people is considered unethical. We can't do proper science on pesticides due to strong chemical lobbies, but thanks to our punish-the-sick attitude towards drug addiction, we have a large body of "volunteers" for human trials of unknown chemicals. This is a strong argument for prohibition: "if the illegal drug market goes away, we can't test financially-protected drugs, and non-criminals might get sick!"
    • Remember Athletes!!!! In addition to disguisting junkies, who must be minimizied at every public opportunity; because they are gross pillheads, remember the athletes who used assorted untested drugs to stay one step ahead of drug testing!

      That is all. Pillheads deserve public re-probation; but athletes are heroes of the common man!
  • Book (Score:5, Informative)

    by steveb3210 (962811) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:45PM (#45531641)

    The original researcher wrote a book on his discovery:

    http://www.amazon.com/Case-Frozen-Addicts-William-Langston/dp/0679424652 [amazon.com]

    • Re:Book (Score:5, Interesting)

      by diodeus (96408) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:52PM (#45531729) Journal

      I remember in the 70s hearing about the DEA spraying paraquat on fields of weed found in Hawaii as a "tainting" scare tactic. I wonder if there's a connection there too.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The method of ingestion made that pointless.
        Most people burn that drug to ingest it.

        During Prohibition the government poisoned alcohol. Whoever these folks are who keep coming up with ideas to make something bad worse, they deserve to be in jail.

        • Re:Book (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @06:35PM (#45532185)

          You mean like how they currently add acetaminophen to most opiates (check out your next codeine prescription) so that if you take too much you'll suffer liver damage? If you can't lead a horse to water, just poison every other source of water in the area and that fucking horse better damn well drink the right water... if not it's the horses fault its pissing blood.

          • That's co-codamol, the combination apparently works better as a painkiller than codeine on its own.

            I don't think it's just them cutting the codeine.

            • by ewieling (90662)
              Why isn't acetaminophen also used in combination with asprin, naproxin, or ibuprofen in a single pill? Does it do no good with used with those non-opiate pain medications?

              See: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm239874.htm
              • by Nidi62 (1525137)

                Why isn't acetaminophen also used in combination with asprin, naproxin, or ibuprofen in a single pill? Does it do no good with used with those non-opiate pain medications?

                In the case of Ibuprofen, probably because Ibuprofen usually paired with Vicodin.

              • Why isn't acetaminophen also used in combination with asprin, naproxin, or ibuprofen in a single pill? Does it do no good with used with those non-opiate pain medications? See: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm239874.htm [fda.gov]

                When acetaminophen is combined with aspirin and caffeine, it's called "Excedrin," and is sold over-the-counter in the US. I have no idea if acetaminophen has synergistic effects with other pain relievers. Try google, maybe.

            • Not sure if you're aware of this, but you can get Tylenol at Wall-mart. When you know full well there are addicts that are going to abuse this drug, why add something to it so they not only have to deal with addiction but liver damage as well?

          • by Iskender (1040286)

            You mean like how they currently add acetaminophen to most opiates (check out your next codeine prescription) so that if you take too much you'll suffer liver damage? If you can't lead a horse to water, just poison every other source of water in the area and that fucking horse better damn well drink the right water... if not it's the horses fault its pissing blood.

            Can you provide a source which shows acetaminophen has no medical purpose in those drugs? Those drugs are used in combination in most places I've heard of, so there would have to be a worldwide conspiracy for it to be just a poison.

            A quick search found this: http://www.bmj.com/content/313/7053/321 [bmj.com]. That says that if you want to remove one drug from the combination, it's codeine. Also, up to 10% of white people apparently "immune" to codeine (side note: I do not know the academic field of medicine, and do no

            • Yes, about 10% of Caucasians have 2D6 deficiency and don't convert codeine to it's active form - morphine. In most people, roughly 10% of the codeine is converted to morphine, though a sizable percentage of Ethiopians are ultrarapid metabolizers, and codeine can be dangerous for them - or their children. For example, a lactating woman with normal 2D6 can take codeine and only a small percentage will get into the breast milk, but there was a case where the child was an ultrarapid metabolizer and died of over
              • Wow! My sons Ethiopian. I will be very careful if he ever gets a cough or pain meds. How fortuitous, it's very hard to find information about things like this when your child is adopted from such a foreign genetic/cultural background, and then it just pops up. There are some great things about it but also scary things like this. It took me 2yrs just to learn how to comb his hair. Anyways, thanks!

          • by jittles (1613415)

            You mean like how they currently add acetaminophen to most opiates (check out your next codeine prescription) so that if you take too much you'll suffer liver damage? If you can't lead a horse to water, just poison every other source of water in the area and that fucking horse better damn well drink the right water... if not it's the horses fault its pissing blood.

            You do know that they have opioid-based medications with decreased dosage of acetaminophen right? Like 325mg doses, and some medications are sold without any at all? People who are prescribed opioids for long term pain management are usually given lower doses of acetaminophen. It's not in the medication to prevent abuse. It is there to provide pain relief. They specially formulate things like Oxycontin in order to reduce its abuse through chewing, and other such methods that addicts use to get high.

            • Does it really matter if they do it intentionally or not? It still has the same effect. Liver damage, when the drug is known to be abused. The pharmacist could easily hand out generic acetaminophen right along with it. "Take one of each every 4hrs" very simple, and now the addicts family doesn't have to worry about liver failure along with their loved ones drug problem.

          • Re:Book (Score:5, Informative)

            by rwyoder (759998) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:59PM (#45534059)

            You mean like how they currently add acetaminophen to most opiates (check out your next codeine prescription) so that if you take too much you'll suffer liver damage?

            Indeed.

            "The drug acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in the popular Tylenol, among others, is widely considered safe when taken correctly. Yet, the pain reliever can lead to liver damage that is often severe or even fatal when taken in doses greater than recommended. The problem is, however, that the margin between a safe dose and a potentially harmful dose is slim. Taken over several days, as little as 25 percent above the maximum daily dose - or just two additional extra strength pills a day - has been reported to cause liver damage, according to the [Food and Drug Administration]. "

            Article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/09/acetaminophen-deaths-cast-shadow-on-popular-pain-reliever.html [pbs.org]

        • by sjames (1099)

          And behind the actually burning part, warm smoke volatilizes the paraquat and carries it into the smoker's lungs unchanged.

          And yes, the people who poison the drugs do deserve to do prison time. That includes the stupid tax and licensing laws that make denatured alcohol necessary.

      • by denzacar (181829)

        I heard that there is a small chance that smoking that weed may turn one into a human paraquat.
        There was one rather famous case of that happening back in the nineties.

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      Interesting that this book was published about 10 years after 'Neuromancer' covered the same ground. Gibson must have done his homework well.

  • Demerol, not heroin. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeathGrippe (2906227) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:48PM (#45531683)

    MPP is a byproduct of sloppy meperidine synthesis, NOT heroin. Meperidine is "Demerol."

    • by Nyder (754090)

      MPP is a byproduct of sloppy meperidine synthesis, NOT heroin. Meperidine is "Demerol."

      To be fair, A lot of Demerol addicts turned to heroin since it's cheaper and easier to get. Then if someone produces a "cheaper" Demerol type drug, they would be all over it.

      • Aside from any other effects, prohibition isn't likely to produce either more discriminating or smarter addicts. I'm not in favor of being an opiate junkie but it does make me wonder: what if we said "Fuck it." and replaced all source-local heroin interdiction efforts with cheap synthetics. More junkies? Probably. Total collapse of the syndicates attempting to sell illegal, dubiously pure, product vs. licit, accurately labelled licit opiates? Game over man, game over. I realize that opiate junkies are dis
    • Don't let the facts get in the way of a sensationalist scare mongering news story. We've got Heroin, pesticides and brain damage, it's a trifecta!

  • by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @05:54PM (#45531749)

    Once again the War on Freedom (drugs, terror, etc) spreads its casualties in the strangest ways. The largest danger a heroin addict poses is to himself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Until he stabs someone in a mugging. I'm not for the war on drugs, but you can't gloss over the harm that drug addictions leads to for others.

      • by DMJC (682799) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @06:22PM (#45532025)
        But would he have had to mug anyone, if his hit didn't cost him $100/go? if you legalise, the cost drops, the quality increases, and the risk of OD drops dramatically. You also see massive drops in murders, rapes, and theft. Policy should always be evidence, based not based on people's gut-feelings about drug users.
        • by Nidi62 (1525137)

          You also see massive drops in murders, rapes, and theft.

          So all those gang members, dealers, pushers, and manufacturers, who can currently make thousands of tax free dollars a week will suddenly stop what they are doing and get legitimate jobs, or continue to make drugs that now sell for 1/10 the price? It is more likely that things would get more violent, as these people get into the few remaining highly lucrative illicit business such as human trafficking and prostitution. Murders, thefts, and the like will become more common as the people who used to be invo

          • by femtobyte (710429) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @11:48PM (#45534751)

            Criminal occupations, according to all actual economic studies, are generally not high paying. Sure, there are a few rich guys on top (like every industry); though, even they are hardly rich compared to the "legit" oligarchy. Despite Hollywood portrayals that every criminal swaggers about in a life of luxury and fast cars and diamond-studded-gold-bling-everything, crime actually pays a lot less than minimum wage for the overwhelming majority of participants.

            Providing jobs stops crime. High crime levels pop up in areas with extreme unemployment, and is a symptom of the rot of America's Capitalist system. If the money spent on prisons and police for hunting down druggies were put into hiring people to patch potholes and clean up parks and re-paint schools, there'd be pretty much no one heading into criminal trades. But, paying money to poor people to work isn't nearly as profitable to the rich as getting paid to lock them up (while benefitting from propaganda against the "naturally criminal" poor to slash other social welfare programs).

      • by femtobyte (710429) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @06:25PM (#45532065)

        Comparing my statistical chances of being injured or killed by a stabby druggy, to being injured or killed by a car driver under the influence of alcohol or cellphones, I'd say the intensive focus on drug prohibition is highly misplaced. Also, when people have safe and legal access to treatment options (including maintenance drug supply levels for the most unbreakable addictions), they don't need to stab anyone.

        • Also (in the specific case of opiates) anti-overdose medication is available. It isn't fun (it more or less kicks you from 'high' to 'withdrawal' within a couple of minutes; but it's relatively cheap, easy to administer, and effective. It's also blatantly unrecreational(since its only purpose is to absolutely crater a heroin high) and thus not subject to any sensible abuse. Anyone who is against that is more or less motivated by distaste for druggies, rather than any sort of harm-minimization policy.
      • by Zaelath (2588189)

        The mugging that he needs to do because prices are artificially high and punishment is more emphasized than treatment?

        I never hear this ridiculous straw man brought up in discussions on alcohol.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          That is because alcohol isn't a drug. Its a foreign substance that you take into your body primarily for the feeling produced by its interactions with your body chemistry. See? Totally different from a drug which is a foreign substance that other people take into their body primarily because they are evil nasty druggies who want to get high and mug you.

          Incidentally, I can't stop laughing about the fact that Walgreens became a houshold name...from the money they made prescribing medical alcohol back when the

          • by rex.clts (2791393)
            THIS. The logic that some people fail to hav
          • > That is because alcohol isn't a drug.

            LOL. Wut??
            http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Addictive_Properties [drugwarfacts.org]

            I concur with your point that the majority of people against drugs are hypocrites. 'Sure, Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcoho are all "fine" but those OTHER drugs are "bad".'

            • by TheCarp (96830) <`ten.tenaprac' `ta' `cjs'> on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:44PM (#45533951) Homepage

              Actually i think the majority of people against drugs are not hypocrites. See , to me, being a hypocrite would imply that you actually spent any time whatsoever to consider and evaluate the position and made some conscious decision.

              It is really only hypocrisy when you factor in that everything they know is wrong. Most people have every reason to believe that prohibition lowers addiction rates, for example. Its not true, but if it were, few people could really argue that isn't a good thing, in and of itself. Of course it is; barring any unintended effect right?

              but still... even if it doesn't do that, it helps keep addicts away from normal people, and since addicts are dangerous and unscrupulous, thats good right? It is flawed and untrue on several levels. However, I understand why people who haven't spent much time on the subject believe that its true.

              A lot of people just have never considered these things, have never seen the clear parallels between Prohibition and the drug war. Not so many know about medical alcohol, the horrors of poisoned hooch, or the trouble with drunk kids.

              They don't see what the addicts see. The whole subculture is hidden from them. Not all of it is bad, but it has some terrible elements. It provides a fertile ground for some of the worst psychopaths. Every small time addict slinging product is like fresh carrion for these maggots. I am just a pot head, been smoking for almost 20 years now. In that time, I have seen some choice things. (less now of course its practically legal here, been a civil fine for possession for a bit now...and I am getting older, less social flux, better judge of character)

              - I met a loudmouth prick junkie who liked to play tough guy, who later mugged a friend of mine for his pot at knife point.... on two separate occasions.
              - Several dealers (at least 4) of mine have been robbed, a couple at gun point
              - One was setup to be robbed; smashed his car window and grabbed his bag while he was talking to "new customer"
              - There was the brutal murder of a dealer only 2 hops removed from my circle of friends.

              Its not just a matter of high drug prices pushing desperate people to crime, that is definitely a real problem shown in several places, but.... it also provides a fertile ground for psychopaths who thrive on having a population that can't call the police for protection. Just look at the numbers for drug users and dealers...millions of people. A highly fertile ground for a psychopath to extort and steal with impunity.

              Hell if he is real scum, he can become a CI and get paid to find new targets. Another friend of mine had a CI in his apartment, pretending to be his friend, got raided later. The warrant claimed he had large amounts of coke and weapons. The guy could have gotten killed in the raid by jumpy cops with claims like that.... he was lucky they caught him on his way home. All that was in the house was pot and money.

              I don't know about some other people, but, I think a world where psychopaths who want to rob people have to worry about their victims calling the police, and where high value targets are not afraid to use video cameras to protect themselves is a far preferable world to one where they are allowed to operate with impunity on a population of people with, what could rightly be called in many extreme cases, a medical issue.

              • Interesting definition of hypocrite. Thanks for the interesting POV ! (Maybe there is hope for /. after all ...)

                I concur with your point that people never really have considered the issues. However my point was that there is a typical knee-jerk reaction along the lines of "think of the children" so "we must do SOMETHING" attitude not realizing that Adults themselves are sending mixed messages.

                There ARE different ways to attack the problem as this beautifully written article shows ... see "7. The Harvard

      • by sjames (1099)

        The war on drugs is what leaves the junkie with no other way to get his fix. Otherwise, it would be cheap and he might even be employable. You can't gloss over the harmful effects of the war on drugs either.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Once again the War on Freedom (drugs, terror, etc) spreads its casualties in the strangest ways. The largest danger a heroin addict poses is to himself.

      No, the largest danger a heroin addict posses is to his community. Because the heroin addict is going to be stealing and do whatever to keep it's habit going.

      The best thing a heroin addict could do is OD and die.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @06:31PM (#45532129) Journal

        The only reason a heroin addict might steal and do whatever is because he can't get his fix legally. Opiates can be produced for pennies a dose. It's a lot cheaper for society to maintain addicts on opiates than it is to imprison them, or to deal with the costs incurred by addicts getting an illegal fix. As a bonus, when they don't have to spend all their effort in getting drugs, they can actually take advantage of their tolerance and become productive members of society, holding down a job, going to school, and paying taxes just like everyone else. Heroin and morphine maintenance programs have proven this, but have been shut down for political reasons.

        What's the best thing an opiate addict could do? Found Johns Hopkins Hospital [wikipedia.org].

        • by Nyder (754090)

          The only reason a heroin addict might steal and do whatever is because he can't get his fix legally. Opiates can be produced for pennies a dose. It's a lot cheaper for society to maintain addicts on opiates than it is to imprison them, or to deal with the costs incurred by addicts getting an illegal fix. As a bonus, when they don't have to spend all their effort in getting drugs, they can actually take advantage of their tolerance and become productive members of society, holding down a job, going to school, and paying taxes just like everyone else. Heroin and morphine maintenance programs have proven this, but have been shut down for political reasons.

          What's the best thing an opiate addict could do? Found Johns Hopkins Hospital [wikipedia.org].

          Going to point out that heroin isn't that cheap and what you are talking about is currently a pipe dream in America, no where near reality.

          • by sjames (1099)

            It certainly WOULD be that cheap without all the smuggling and associated risks driving the price up.

          • by Artifakt (700173)

            What's the best thing an opiate addict could do? Found Johns Hopkins Hospital [wikipedia.org]
            There's Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, Austrian physiologist and physician who was an important early investigator of the electrical activity of the brain, and the inventor of several widely adopted medical devices, some still used today, but I think your citation beats mine.

            (I was going to say, with tongue firmly in cheek, "Stopped Professor Moriarty" until I remembered that Holmes' vice was Cocaine not Heroin, but I

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Nyder (754090)

          The only reason a heroin addict might steal and do whatever is because he can't get his fix legally. Opiates can be produced for pennies a dose. It's a lot cheaper for society to maintain addicts on opiates than it is to imprison them, or to deal with the costs incurred by addicts getting an illegal fix. As a bonus, when they don't have to spend all their effort in getting drugs, they can actually take advantage of their tolerance and become productive members of society, holding down a job, going to school, and paying taxes just like everyone else. Heroin and morphine maintenance programs have proven this, but have been shut down for political reasons.

          What's the best thing an opiate addict could do? Found Johns Hopkins Hospital [wikipedia.org].

          here's quote from the wiki page you linked:

          William Stewart Halsted (September 23, 1852 – September 7, 1922) was an American surgeon who emphasized strict aseptic technique during surgical procedures, was an early champion of newly discovered anesthetics, and introduced several new operations, including the radical mastectomy for breast cancer. Along with William Osler (Professor of Medicine), Howard Atwood Kelly (Professor of Gynecology) and William H. Welch (Professor of Pathology), Halsted was one o

          • How is it a crappy argument? The point is that if they weren't illegal people could take drugs and still do great things: like Dr. Halsted did. If you want an example of someone who's taken drugs in the 2000s and done something good with their lives, I could point you to one of many musicians, or come back to the argument that making their addiction illegal is holding them down.

            • by Nyder (754090)

              How is it a crappy argument? The point is that if they weren't illegal people could take drugs and still do great things: like Dr. Halsted did. If you want an example of someone who's taken drugs in the 2000s and done something good with their lives, I could point you to one of many musicians, or come back to the argument that making their addiction illegal is holding them down.

              You can point to a small hand full of people, while I can point to hundreds of thousands of junkies who aren't functional, and are scum of the earth, doing what they can to get their drugs.

              I'm all for legalizing all drugs, but the reality of the USA in 2013 is that they do NOT care about our rights, and the police and other law agencies make too much money off the "war on drugs" to allow it to stop. So keep thinking pipe dreams and don't go crying when some junkies break into your house to steal stuff to

              • the reality of the USA in 2013 is that they do NOT care about our rights, and the police and other law agencies make too much money off the "war on drugs" to allow it to stop

                That's not a good thing.

            • by Nyder (754090)

              How is it a crappy argument? The point is that if they weren't illegal people could take drugs and still do great things: like Dr. Halsted did. If you want an example of someone who's taken drugs in the 2000s and done something good with their lives, I could point you to one of many musicians, or come back to the argument that making their addiction illegal is holding them down.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rock_musicians_who_died_of_drug_overdose [wikipedia.org]

              Start point out the "many musicians" you claim are functional heroin addicts. Can you back up your claim?

          • by sjames (1099)

            Exactly, so make it not illegal again and the heroine addicts might again be able to be productive members of society. It's the laws, not the drugs that make a heroine addict into a junkie.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Notice that the drugs he was addicted to wasn't illegal at the time? So he could get it from a pharmacy or mail order no problem.

            And that's exactly what I'm advocating should be the case today.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        Except that there is no evidence that junkies do this when their drugs are available at reasonable prices. In fact, there is ample evidence (thousands upon thousands of prescription "junkies", the swiss heroin study, portugal) to the opposite.

        So the reality is....the best thing a prohibitionist can do, is die.

        • by Nyder (754090)

          Except that there is no evidence that junkies do this when their drugs are available at reasonable prices. In fact, there is ample evidence (thousands upon thousands of prescription "junkies", the swiss heroin study, portugal) to the opposite.

          So the reality is....the best thing a prohibitionist can do, is die.

          Going to point out again that heroin isn't that cheap and America's stance on making money because of the war on drugs will never allow it to be legal.

          So while you wish that the world was that way, the rest of us are living in the real world.

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            > Going to point out again that heroin isn't that cheap cheap and
            > America's stance on making money because of the war on drugs will never allow it to be legal.

            Its not that cheap BECAUSE of our drug policy. It would be that cheap if not for it.

            Call it the real world if you like.... I call it the cause of the problem. Seriously, the best thing a prohibitionist can do is die... because if enough of them did, we could change that policy and fix the actual problem.

            Blaming the victims and saying they shoul

            • by Nyder (754090)

              > Going to point out again that heroin isn't that cheap cheap and
              > America's stance on making money because of the war on drugs will never allow it to be legal.

              Its not that cheap BECAUSE of our drug policy. It would be that cheap if not for it.

              Call it the real world if you like.... I call it the cause of the problem. Seriously, the best thing a prohibitionist can do is die... because if enough of them did, we could change that policy and fix the actual problem.

              Blaming the victims and saying they should die....is every bit as unrealistic of a solution, and possibly more so. Addicts have existed longer than drug laws. A LOT longer. They will continue to exist longer than drug laws, a LOT longer.

              Let me put it this way.... I can forsee a future day when there are still humans but not drug laws. I can't reverse those and still think I am considering a possible future.

              making drugs legal would solve a lot of problems, except the reason why people are using drugs. I'm completely for them legalizing drugs. But I live in the USA, where the war on drugs is a big fucking money maker for the police. We also have a government that is walking over peoples rights, so what's the point of talking about how it would be if drugs are legal when there is little chance in hell of that happening any time soon?

              Just so you know, i was a heroin addict for 15 or so years, and my insight

              • by TheCarp (96830)

                > so what's the point of talking about how it would be if drugs are legal when there is little chance in hell of that
                > happening any time soon?

                Well couple of reasons.

                1. If we don't talk about it, then the only people talking about it are the prohibitionists; and its NEVER going to happen.
                2. I don't actually think its possible to say how long a change could take. I firmly believe that just weeks or months before something like this happens, the general perception could still be that it will never happe

              • by Anonymous Coward

                making drugs legal would solve a lot of problems, except the reason why people are using drugs. I'm completely for them legalizing drugs. But I live in the USA, where the war on drugs is a big fucking money maker for the police. We also have a government that is walking over peoples rights, so what's the point of talking about how it would be if drugs are legal when there is little chance in hell of that happening any time soon?

                Just so you know, i was a heroin addict for 15 or so years, and my insight is gained from being a junkie and hanging around junkies and the culture that places like methadone clinics produce. Heroin junkies choose to be junkies, they choose to live like they do, and they do NOT care about anything but getting high and stay well. You can feel sorry for them, but they'd rip you off the second you turn your back.

                Well, yes and no. There are indeed heroin addicted people who act as you say, caring about absolutely nothing but how to get their next fix. I've met some of them, and know how they think, and you're right, anything and everything that happens to them is dealt with by asking the simple question, "how can I use this situation to get more dope?" Sadly, it makes life very simple when every choice is mediated solely by that one criteria, and I believe many are drawn to that lifestyle precisely because it is so simple. Morality becomes a simple equation: how much heroin will a course of action net me? For a certain kind of person, that simplicity is as seductive as the drug itself.

                But not all heroin addicts are like that, and it disingenuous to suggest they are. You can be addicted to heroin and still lead a perfectly normal life, to a ripe old age. I was an addict for far longer than you, so if that 15 years on heroin statistic gets you any real credibility, then surely my 30+ years gets me more, right? And I would argue that much of the degeneracy typically associated with heroin addicts is actually driven either directly or indirectly by prohibition itself. You make a group of people with a medical condition into criminals with a wave of a legislative pen, it shouldn't be any surprise that those affected eventually start behaving like, well, criminals.

                Prohibition is always a losing game, causing far more problems than it solves.

                Note: Apologies for posting as AC, but certain realities dictate that I must. Maybe I'm just not as brave as you. If the moderation system works the way I think it does, I'm throwing away moderation to post this, even as an AC. So be it. In a better world I wouldn't have to, but there it is.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Translation: Things are bad because we make them bad,. And I want them to be even worse because it rox when things sux.

            It seems the real problem is people addicted to prohibition. We should have a war on prohibition.

    • The largest danger a heroin addict poses is to himself.

      To be fair, I don't think the DEA et al are even bothering to argue that point anymore. It's illegal cause it's illegal now.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @06:33PM (#45532149) Journal

      Agreed. Prohibitionists pose a greater danger to society than any drugs or addicts.

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        Said the Drug Lord Alice to the Chinese
        • by femtobyte (710429)

          All right, large-scale for-profit drug pushing corporations capable of controlling national policy and propaganda regarding their wares can also be highly dangerous. A great more modern example of this is the US Big Tobacco industry, and their decades of suppressing scientific research that would allow the public to make more informed decisions about the health impacts of smoking. Prohibitionists are bad; megacorporations pushing highly addictive substances are bad. A balanced solution is to allow drug prod

        • by sjames (1099)

          Are you kidding? The drug lords are among the most fanatic advocates of the war on drugs. How are they going to make the serious money if any addict can go to Walgreens and get their fix for pocket change?

          • by femtobyte (710429)

            By making up for boutique price in volume, the same way Walgreens and every other big corporation selling loads of cheap stuff makes money. It's a different business model, but one that works fine --- big alcohol and tobacco megacorporations aren't having trouble keeping the profits rolling in. Now, perhaps the current generation of illegal criminal druglords won't be the ones to profit off a change --- probably the much larger and more vicious cartels of Big Pharma and Big Tobacco legal criminals would fin

            • by sjames (1099)

              In other words, the current drug lords would get cut out. That's what I said.

          • by medv4380 (1604309)
            Someone failed to get the Alice-In-Wonderland-Opium-Wars-World-History reference. As much as you may want to believe that you can just do away with prohibition on "taboo" things and we'll all go to a Winter Cokefilled Land the truth is far worse. Some drugs have been literally been used to destroy countries, and before we just say open the gates of ecstasy lets think about the consequences of the past.
            • by sjames (1099)

              Actually, the opium wars were sparked by prohibition and colonialism. Absent either of those, no war.

              Quite a different situation in a different time.

              It may well be that some restrictions are necessary, but absolute prohibition and the war on drugs is a proven failure that has done a great deal of damage to society.

              • Prohibition was caused because China was imploding in on itself in a drug frenzy. Over 10% of the population was addicted to opioids, and the country was falling into ruin.

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Yet after WWI, a lot of soldiers were involuntary heroine addicts and were also productive members of society. I also wonder if the 10% figure wsn't just more of the same sorts of exaggerations from moral panic like we have today.

                  Of course with modern communications we can educate the population on the significant drawbacks of opiate use.

                  What is inexcusable in our society is when people become addicted from legitimate medical use and then they just get thrown to the wolves. Obne day they're on a prescriptio

  • The saga, therefore, put scientists on high alert to the possibility that pesticides might play a role in developing Parkinson's.

    I'm sure we'll see, as usual, comments from the Big Ag shills telling us there's nothing wrong with pesticides, and that organic is a waste of money, etc etc etc.

    The thing to remember is that all of these studies only study the effect of one or two pesticides at a time. What about cumulative effects of many dozens of different chemicals? The government can say something like "20 ppm of this chemical is safe" and "3ppb of that chemical is safe" but it is rather doubtful that exposure to "safe" levels of 20

  • Hey let's kill these pests by targetting their nervous systems. We could deploy the chemical by spraying it all over the fields.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • by femtobyte (710429)

      Scientists? I think you mean Big Ag executives, who are far from the science lab. The scientists are not dumb; just a bit intentionally ignorant to keep their jobs and support their families --- "just following orders" without freedom to question the broader societal impacts of their work. The executives at the top coordinate their regiments of scientists with the marketing/PR/lobbying departments (often a much larger effort in cost and manpower than the science part) to spread the toxin of the day over eve

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Of course the scientists don't get rich.

        They are dumb. If they do it knowingly to feed their families then they're not only dumb as shit but fucking coward pussys as well.

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          Again: dumb, no. Irresponsibly participating in a sick system without questioning the structure of authority? Yes. Fucking coward pussies? Perhaps --- but no more so than every other upper-middle-class participant in the Capitalist system, turning a blind eye to the perpetuation of large-scale injustice in order to provide a comfortable life for themselves. They are certainly not brave as those who challenge and oppose the system are --- especially those standing up against oppression from positions of weak

  • My stepfather was a banana farmer and exposed to some nasty chemicals. He has parkinsons and blames the pesticides. So reading this seems to support his belief. Just one data point and proves nothing, but personally interesting.

  • Aren't many pesticides designed to disrupt the nervous systems of insects? We are all animals, it stands to reason that it would harm humans too.

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