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Words at Psychotonic

Pointers to interesting thoughts and/or observations related to drugs. Inclusion here doesn’t indicate my endorsement, only my interest.

Addiction as a Cultural Concept
Stanton Peele; Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Analysis, 1990

Stanton Peele, a psychologist by training, is a noted critic of the standard notion of addiction as an uncontrollable biological disease. This article is as good as any, to serve as an introduction to that view.

Dopey, Boozy, Smoky - and Stupid
Mark Kleiman; The American Interest
Analysis, 2007

A public policy professor at UCLA provides an overview on the state of drug use, drug trade and drug policy in the US. Followed by recommendations for changes in policy & enforcement.

In what sense (if any) is marijuana a gateway drug?
Robert MacCoun; The FAS Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin
Analysis, 1998

According to the author, the gateway drug concept, frequently invoked in the case of cannabis, has not been clearly defined. He puts forward seven versions and then examines them for plausibility.

Interviews on Ecstasy neurotoxicity
Nicholas Saunders, George Ricaurte, James O’Callaghan; Ecstasy Reconsidered
Interview, 1995

Interviews of a pair of researchers who held different views on the matter of possible brain damage due to Ecstasy use. Dr. George Ricaurte, who later gained notoriety for his retracted study on Ecstasy, explains why he believes that MDMA (Ecstasy) damages brain cells. Dr. John O’Callaghan of the EPA, relying on a test for neurotoxicity that he helped develop, is cautious and explains why the data till-date don’t definitively point to neuronal damage.

Opium Made Easy
Michael Pollan; Harper’s Magazine
Journalism, 1997

This engaging article recounts the efforts by the author to grow poppy flowers, the mere act apparently legal under US federal law, and the resulting run-in with law enforcement. Provides a rich flavor of the expression of US anti-drug policies in practice.

Prime-time propaganda
Daniel Forbes; Salon
Journalism, 2000

Details of a discreet US government program wherein networks airing television programmes which included anti-drug messages and themes were financially compensated.

Raich v. Ashcroft - A Guide to the Supreme Court Case
Pete Guither; Drug WarRant
Analysis, 2005

Coverage of a pivotal case in US drugs-related law enforcement. Provides sufficient background & context for the uninitiated.

Report paints picture of global use of cocaine
Claudia Court; British Medical Journal
Journalism, 1995

The World Health Organization alongwith a UN agency conducted a multi-year global study on cocaine use in the early 90s. Publication of the study was suppressed due to pressure by the US, but a press briefing kit was prematurely released. This is the British Medical Journal’s news article based on the kit.

Review of “LSD : Still With Us After All These Years”
Neal M. Goldsmith; MAPS Newsletter
Review, 1995

Two scientists, one an epidemiologist who’s a consultant for NIDA, and the other, a NIDA project officer, examined the data on LSD and presented their findings in a book. The linked article is a review of that book. Of chief interest is the contrast between the government’s description of LSD and that presented in the book. The reviewer summarizes the book in some detail.

Stumbling in the dark
Anonymous; The Economist
Analysis, 2001

In this series of seven articles, the Economist makes some observations on illicit drugs and the trade in them, and recommends a rethink of policies from first-principles.

The Effects of Crack
William F. Buckley Jr., Michael Gazzaniga; National Review
Interview, 1990

The founder of National Review, William Buckley, interviews Dartmouth Professor Michael Gazzaniga on the special status of crack cocaine. The interview touches on generic aspects related to drugs.

The Responsible Parent’s Guide to Healthy Mood-Boosters for All the Family
David Pearce; HEDWEB
Analysis, revised 2007

A long, meandering, opinionated survey of psychoactive substances, both licit & illicit, for their potential use as sustainable mood-elevating solutions. Spoiler alert: none of them, really.

The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs
Robert S. Gable; American Scientist
Analysis, 2006

A semi-rigorous look at the acute toxicity of common legal & illegal recreational drugs, alongwith a discussion of the generic factors that impact the toxic effects of a drug.

Truth about ecstacy’s unlikely trip from lab to dance floor
David Adam; Guardian
Journalism, 2006

Until recently, the story on the genesis of, and early research activity with, MDMA was seemingly based on speculation uncritically reproduced in references till date. Merck, which first developed the drug, reviewed historical sources and sets the record straight.