Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Drug Dilemma: Informational and Regulatory Failure on a Massive Scale

Feb 13, 2011 2:29 pm

The Drug Dilemma: Informational and Regulatory Failure on a Massive Scale

Perhaps no group is more “captured” by their ideology than “doctrinaire” libertarians. One example is with respect to drugs, where the standard argument is that everyone ought to be free to use such drugs as marijuana, cocaine and opium. Our esteemed leader, David Beito, for example, on March 14th, posted a video link here at L&P, see below, in which Cong. Ron Paul made the case for legalizing marijuana.

But what about other drugs created by Big Pharma? Where do we draw the line, if at all?

Yesterday, The Washington Post recounted the increased use of PCP and the increase in violence associated with that drug. What are the Police, the Insurance companies if involved, and other entities in our Society to do about this, one might ask?

Today, The Post revealed a suppressed, “Study 15,” about the effects of another drug, Seroquel.

The web site offers the following description of PCP:

“PCP (phencyclidine) is classified as a hallucinogen and has many of the same effects as LSD, but can be much more dangerous. In the 1950's, PCP was investigated as an anesthetic, but due to its severe side effects, its development for human use was discontinued. PCP is known for inducing violent behavior and for inducing negative physical reactions such as seizures, coma, death. There is no way to predict who will have a bad reaction to the drug. Maybe this is because PCP has so many faces--it acts as a hallucinogen, stimulant, depressant, and anesthetic---all at the same time. In its original state, PCP is a white crystalline powder. PCP is available in tablet, liquid, and powder forms and is either ingested orally or smoked by applying the liquid form to tobacco or marijuana cigarettes or by lacing these and other cigarettes, sometimes containing herbs such as mint or parsley, with PCP powder.
STREET TERMS: include Wet, Illy, Angel Dust, Supergrass, Killer Weed, Embalming Fluid, Rocket Fuel, Hog, Wack, Squeeze, Water, Dust, Oxone, Zoot, Peace Pill, and Elephant tranquilizer. Killer Joints, and Crystal Supergrass are names for the combination of marijuana laced with PCP."Smoking wet" and"wetting it up" are two terms for smoking cigarettes or joints dipped in PCP. PCP is known as Space Base when mixed with Crack.
EFFECTS OF USE: A moderate amount of PCP often causes the user to feel detached, distant and estranged from his surroundings. Numbness, slurred speech and loss of coordination may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. A blank stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated gait are among the more observable effects. Auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders, and amnesia may also occur. In some users, PCP may cause acute anxiety and a feeling of impending doom, in others paranoia and violent hostility, and in some it may produce a psychoses indistinguishable from schizophrenia. PCP use is associated with a number of risks and many believe it to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse.”

So, according to libertarian theory, is such a drug, increasingly associated with violence, to be freely available along with marijuana? In Milton Friedman’s memorable phrase, are we all to be “Free to Choose” whatever drug suits our fancy?

With respect to a drug like Seroquel, the total failure of the Federal Drug Administration to regulate the drug, and its cooperation with Big Pharma to suppress an adverse study about the drug, is nothing new. What are we to do about this kind of failure of drug information and regulation, in a way at the same level of the failure of banking and Wall St. financial regulation that has brought the whole global economic community a growing sense of crisis?

The FDA’s failure to explore the effects of another drug, was documented yesterday at Lew The number of these is legend.

Over the years this failure of Drug regulation as well as the manipulation of the studies of such drugs is on a par with the massive failure to properly regulate the Fed, theSEC or Wall St.

Jack Ruby & Preludin:

With two of my students, I happened to be in Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963, not too far from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For many years I taught a course using that event to teach historical methodology. This included examining Jack Ruby’s shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald as well.

Ruby mentioned the fact he was taking a “harmless” diet pill, available without prescription. At his later trial, his sister commented on his odd behavior during the previous summer while using that drug. Some years later while doing research in Washington for the Congress, I secured permission to examine the FDA’s records on this drug, Preludin. I was interested when several colleagues on the Congressional staff mentioned that in their opinion, among regulatory agencies, the FDA was perhaps the biggest “whore” in Washington.

Well, Prelude and was a prescription drug, with a long history of causing psychosis under stress. Among the records that I found, were a number of such cases, one for example, where a young man on the diet pill, preparing to take the law exam, had to be placed literally in a straitjacket for three weeks.

One semester, in my class of 85 students, six of them were taking Preludin on a prescription from their doctor, and none of them had been told the possible side affect of this supposedly harmless diet pill. I doubt that the doctors knew very much of its history either.

We now have enormous numbers of such drugs, with very little understanding, with or without manipulation of studies by big Pharma and the FDA, about the effects of the interaction of such drugs on the physical health of the person taking the drugs, or the way in which their behavior may become modified in ways very detrimental to our society.

I consider it highly unlikely that any of this will be solved in the near future, certainly not by those with a view that anyone should be free to take any drugs that they desire from marijuana on down the line, including the various drugs that continue to be pumped out by Big Pharma.

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