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Dark post - sorry to the new people - Tactical Ninja

Jan. 2nd, 2017

12:13 pm - Dark post - sorry to the new people

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I have been advocating for drug law reform since 2008. If anyone is interested in why, here is a post I wrote when I made the decision to do it (with bonus NIN lyrics).

In the last couple of years, my focus has been on pill testing/substance checking at events as a way of reducing the harms associated with drug use. It's pretty simple - in an illegal market there is no real quality control and people are not able to know for certain when they ingest something that it is actually what it's supposed to be. We use chemical reagents or infrared spectroscopy to tell people what's in their sample and they can then make an informed decision about how they treat that substance.

I can say with conviction and also with the data to back it, that users of drugs make sensible choices when they have information about what their drugs actually are.

This is what I was doing over New Years, with the help of some friends who are passionate enough to risk being arrested alongside me. I can tell you exactly how many people were able to avoid ingesting something that wasn't what it was supposed to be because of us. How many people who might have died, but didn't.

I will be telling the authorities that.

I can also tell you that if I told you the name of the event, they could be shut down because the law makes them criminals as soon as they admit they know people use drugs at their event.

So providing harm reduction services is essentially illegal. To avoid legal risk they are supposed to turn a blind eye and let people risk death. This is stupid and wrong and there is absolutely no logical reason why we should allow this ridiculous situation to continue.

I will be telling the authorities that too. It won't be the first time.

When we got back into internet range, the first email I opened had news of a good friend and a member of our harm reduction crew, who has been struggling with mental health and addiction problems for several years. I had known he was in a relapse cycle, and over the holidays he took a deliberate overdose of a legal substance and now he is going to die.

There is a lot that can be said about the inability of people with mental health and problematic drug use issues to get the help they need, about the artificial stigma associated with drug use that means users are criminalised instead of helped, about how support agencies are underfunded, about how problematic drug use is most strongly correlated with trauma and social isolation and how our law exacerbates that in the most vulnerable people and the stigma makes them feel even more alone. But you're smart enough to figure that out for yourself, right?

My friend has a heart bigger than Texas. He wanted to expand on our testing service and set up a project that looks after people who are having difficult experiences with drugs. He wanted to use his own struggle to benefit others because he knows what it's like to struggle alone, and he wanted to provide the emotional support that is so lacking for people with problems in this society.

Now, he can't, and he'll never be able to, and I place the blame for a lot of that squarely at the feet of those who continue to perpetuate the stigma around drug use and made him feel so alone in his struggle.

I will be telling the authorities that too. They are doing it wrong and people I love are getting hurt because of it. No more.

Comments:

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From:clevortrevor
Date:January 1st, 2017 11:45 pm (UTC)
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I'm just so so sorry.
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From:mac_arthur_park
Date:January 1st, 2017 11:49 pm (UTC)
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You're doing good, necessary work. Thank you.
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From:ghost_light
Date:January 2nd, 2017 12:11 am (UTC)
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*hugs* I am so sorry.
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From:richaarde
Date:January 2nd, 2017 06:07 am (UTC)
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If there is one good thing I can say about marijuana legalization here in the US, it is that there is now hard evidence to show that people's fears about the drug were unfounded.

It's like peeling apart an onion, one layer at a time. Society and, eventually, the law will come to a better understanding, but it will take a lot longer than we'd like.

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From:mockduck
Date:January 2nd, 2017 03:31 pm (UTC)
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Ack, I'm sorry.

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From:meathiel
Date:January 2nd, 2017 05:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm so sorry for your friend.

I think you do good work - I hope it'll be acknowledged one day.
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From:siduri
Date:January 2nd, 2017 07:18 pm (UTC)
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I am sorry to hear this. Your work is so valuable, it really is.
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From:raincitygirl
Date:January 2nd, 2017 08:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm very sorry about your friend, and also about the fucked up drug laws in NZ and other countries. No need to reply.
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From:warriorsavant
Date:January 3rd, 2017 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Years back, there was a crisis of marijuana being tainted with paraquat, a weed-killer. My brother, who was an attorney with the health department (social service?) of the state, wrote a legal brief supporting labs doing anonymous testing of samples. A form of harm reduction in the strictest sense. Marijuana was illegal, but the penalty wasn't death, which could have resulted from ingesting/smoking it if too much paraquat. Sadly, the state legislature wasn't interested.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 3rd, 2017 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Sadly it's still true that many people think it's ok for breaking the law by ingesting a drug to be a potential death sentence.

In NZ we don't have capital punishment but we do have people who think drug users deserve to die - not rapists and murderers, just drug users.
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From:warriorsavant
Date:January 3rd, 2017 10:17 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps they should move to the Philippines, since their current President seems to agree with that.
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From:tcpip
Date:January 4th, 2017 02:16 am (UTC)
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Appropriate news just in from The West Island

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-03/drug-testing-calls-after-rave-overdose-scenic-rim/8159864
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From:tatjna
Date:January 4th, 2017 02:27 am (UTC)
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I had heard about that. Just one in a string of deaths in Australia, and the Australian government is making it worse with their zero tolerance bullshit.

They are afraid of pill testing increasing the number of people who use drugs when the fact is that these people are using them anyway, and every death is proof of that.
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:January 11th, 2017 08:04 pm (UTC)
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So sorry about your friend
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From:kehleyr
Date:January 14th, 2017 12:23 pm (UTC)
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I'm so sorry about your friend <3
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