April 24th, 2013


Time travel - not for the faint hearted.

Right, now I've had about 16 hours' sleep I feel much more human. Sorry about the weirdly-shaped gap in posts - going from San Francisco to Wellington involves losing an entire day, so for me, Monday's post disappeared into a place where it may end up in a Dr Who episode one day. *cough*

Anyway, I have many things on my mind. Today I will be reading the Psychoactive Substances Bill in preparation for making my submission. We have till the 30th of April to have our say on this. I'll be posting my thoughts on that for those who are interested later this week. But meanwhile, here's the rest of the conference.

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I am so glad I went. It's renewed my desire to be in this field, and to support the changing of the public and state approach to drugs in order to enable ordinary people to benefit from the things being researched right now, and in general from access to psychedelic substances. One of the big messages that came through was that if we want this subculture to become part of actual culture, people need to 'come out'. While psychedelic users are hiding, it's easy to see them as different from other people, to enable the myths that drugs make you a loser, less than human.

Don't believe me that people think drug users are less than human? Read this. It's the results of a questionnaire to see how people feel about the use of animals in testing for the safety of recreational substances under the new Psychoactive Substances Act in NZ. It shows that a majority of people would prefer animals were not used for testing. Fair enough.

However, if you look down the bottom, there is a significant group of people who think that instead, testing should be done on prisoners or drug users. So it's not right to do it to animals, but if you've been convicted of a crime or use drugs, apparently that's ok, because.. because why? Because clearly you are not only less than human, but also less than animals.

More on this later, I've gone on long enough - but that style of thinking makes me very angry, just saying, and it needs to change.

Oh yeah

I also wanted to mention that on the way out of SFO, I opted out of the nudey scanners. In the line approaching security, the scanners were very clear. Pretty much everyone was going through them. However, I asked the first TSA person how to opt out. She very politely explained to me that I needed to tell the next TSA agent, and that it would be best to do it early because sometimes it takes a while to get someone there to do the patdown. Telling them early ensures not being separated from your stuff for long.

I did this, and the lady called on the radio for a female agent to come, then asked me to stand by the gate until the person arrived. When she arrived she asked me to come through, then we waited until my stuff had come through the X-ray machine. I was taken to a screened area, where she explained exactly what would happen and then asked if I wished to go to a more private place. She then patted me down, and after that put her gloves into a swab detector. It took less than 2 minutes and at no point did I feel pushed or coerced. Everyone was polite and they treated me with respect.

Constrast this with Melbourne, where they pull you out of a line to scan you without warning, bark orders at you, give you no option to avoid being nudey scanned, threaten to chuck you out of the airport if you object, and treat your objections as if they are completely unfounded and childish.

Melbourne could take a lesson from San Francisco about how not to alienate travellers, just saying. None of the officials I wrote to about my experience in Melbourne even bothered to acknowledge my complaints. Bottom line: Melbourne airport, you suck and put me off going there. +10 dehumanisation.