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Making Drugs Legal

Below is the table of what would be legal, each drug linked to its page. Then comes the outline of how the system would be made safe. Basically, you sell dilute products, mostly drinks, and thus make any overdose similar to overdose on alcohol - you throw up, you have a hangover, nothing worse. You sell buzz drugs only in specially licensed stores, bars, and cafes. These places are full of info and staffed by highly trained and informed people whose job is to keep users safe, not boost sales - so no tipping, and they must be licensed. You track purchases made by people and have the database automatically flag purchase patterns that point to addiction, binging, or mixing risky combinations. Staff gently but persistently encourage people with flags to take practical steps that reduce risk, and they support them in that process. All products are well labelled with all safety information, which must occupy at least half the packaging surface. And there would be a bunch of other safety measures. It would be much, much safer than illegal drugs. Safer even than booze, actually.

*Hover your mouse over the categories for explanations.
Buzz Drugs that can be Safely Legalized
Blue Dot Yellow Dot Red Dot
Depressants Not For Sale
Stimulants Not For Sale
Hallucinogens Not For Sale

A lot of the items on the list probably surprise you. Give them a chance. If your knowledge of them is based on general opinion, a lot of what you think you know isn't true. Drug war rhetoric has caused all kinds of misconceptions. Please just follow the links in their write-ups to the carefully chosen reference material, and you will be convinced.

The street buzzes that wouldn't be legalized would be decriminalized for possession and personal use - buzz use is a health issue, not a criminal issue. The goal is to get people to switch to stuff that is safer and healthier. Why punish people for risking their own health? But selling any buzz drug outside of the legal system would be a crime. If you aren't willing to be regulated, you aren't willing to put people's health first. The biggest penalties would be for selling the buzz drugs that are not in buzz control because they are inherently dangerous - like PMA, for instance.

The buzz control system would allow you to get just as high in just as many different ways as you can with illegal buzz drugs on the black market. This is necessary in order to eliminate that black market. Besides, getting really buzzed isn't a problem as long as you observe the basic necessities of safety, and don't do it all the time. The most potent buzzes will be so much safer than their street buzz drug equivalents, the difference will be night and day. Legal buzzes would easily thump street buzzes for safety, convenience, quality, and price. If drug gangs don't dry up and blow away simply for lack of customers, it will only be because we've been too skittish to legalize all the stuff that ought to be. Once we get it right, those gangs will just disappear.

Buzz drugs will be discussed in terms of how to make them as safe as possible, so the focus will be on the problems that can arise from each one and how much that can be addressed. Please remember when reading that stuff that to get in trouble you'd have to first deliberately ignore clear instructions, and not just briefly in an impulsive moment. There are no planned products that could result in excess doses or overdoses unless you knocked the stuff back with bad intentions for quite some time. Specialty bars that serve the strongest stuff would cut you off before you go too far. The reality is once legality took hold, people who currently abuse alcohol would instead choose one of the other buzzes a large proportion of the time. That would be very good, because those other buzzes are safer than alcohol. Even the most potent buzzes are much easier on your health, and less likely to goad you into dangerous behaviour, than alcohol is - when they aren't sold as dirty, concentrated, unlabelled powders by criminals. All the buzzes that are about to be listed as recommended for legalization are safer both for the people taking them and the people around them than alcohol is.

Dilution for Safety, Buzz Categories

Most buzzes would be sold as drinks about as strong as beer, except the active ingredient would not be alcohol, but a buzz drug. Drinking too much of them would be difficult because their buzz content would be low. If you did drink that much, it would simply make you puke. The amount of fluid in your stomach would make that procedure quick and thorough. Mixing drinks with different buzzes would only make you sick sooner, and probably make your hangover worse. That's all. The vomit reflex is a wonderful thing. Street drugs are mostly snorted or smoked, which means they go in and can't come back out - dangerous. Also they come highly concentrated, meaning that even if they are swallowed your chances of getting most of it back out by throwing up is much lower. Dilute drinks properly leverage our vomit reflex to prevent overdose.

Drink images. Half of all packaging must be covered with standardized safety information. All products are clearly labelled - color shows risk category, letter shows buzz category.

A few buzzes would not be in a drink format. The only such case that needs much discussion is opium. Opium is the anchor buzz of the depressants - the most potent offering, there to cover all hankerings, however extreme, so that nobody turns to drug gangs. It would also be offered in an intense format - smoking, which hits the brain in seconds. Smoking opium is pretty safe, though, because if you smoke too much, you simply fall asleep. You can't smoke opium fast enough to overdose.

If you mixed opium with too much alcohol, that could get you into trouble. The cardinal rule about mixing would be on all packaging, posted in stores, and reinforced by staff - never mix any two buzzes that are yellow or red dot stimulants or depressants. As the image shows, packaging would be dominated by safety info, and the category of the product would be immediately visible. Everything would be classified in two ways - according to buzz type (depressant, stimulant, or hallucinogen) and according to risk category (blue, yellow, or red dot). So if you mixed like that, you would be ignoring clear, emphatic advice. Following that rule would be really all you need to do to ensure your buzz use is safe. (And opium has an antidote, too - naloxone, a puffer of which would come with every package. Squirt it in a nostril, your opium high is gone in under two minutes.)

Categories are also useful in simpler ways. Blue dot buzzes would be taxed lightest and displayed most prominently, to encourage people to mostly use those and limit the rest to every now and then, which is the healthiest approach. Knowing what kind of buzz drug something is (and what that means, which would be explained on labelling and on in-store signs) would mean people pick the right thing for the right job. Want to relax? Choose a depressant. Want a boost? Choose a stimulant. Want a fresh look at things? Choose a hallucinogen. Is today one of those days where you want something pretty bad? Pick something yellow dot, or maybe red dot. When you think about it, why on earth would people always turn to alcohol whenever they need to give their mindset a serious shake? Most of the time it isn't the right tool. Using the right buzz allows you to use less and get more out of it.

None of the hallucinogens would come in drink format. The hallucinogens to be offered have no risk of overdose, they are non-toxic. What you want to do to be safe with hallucinogens is properly judge your dose, so you don't get freaked out by a trip that is too intense for you. Thus all hallucinogens are formatted so they hit you within a few minutes, and packaged so doses are small enough for you to work up in stages to the level where you feel comfortable. Blue category buzzes from plants could be bought as the natural plant material, besides as drinks, because they present no significant risk.

The Regulatory System - Labels, Licenses, Ingredients

Below at left is an example of what a warning label could look like. This one is for methylphenidate, commonly known by the brand name Ritalin, the hardest buzz on the list to establish safe doses for. It is the anchor buzz for the stimulants, the most potent one to be offered. People have a much wider range of sensitivity to stimulants than they do to depressants. Those with higher sensitivity could get into symptoms of mild overdose even if they drank at the kind of rate typical when drinking beer. The label tells them everything they need to know. If they have never had methylphenidate, they should go slow, until they know how sensitive they are to it. If they feel the symptoms on the list, they should stop. Because people drinking buzz drinks would feel the effects of an excessive dose long before they could drink enough to have a true overdose, that is all they have to do. Because the nice big label on the side of their beverage clearly states what to watch for, they can catch it early. They might notice their jaw getting tense, for instance, slow down then, and have no further discomfort. Many will enjoy the buzz enough to ignore early signs, though, and get to the point of feeling rather sick. That isn't a problem, these symptoms aren't dangerous, but they don't feel good. So they could order a 100 ml (4 oz) shot of activated charcoal. What is that? It absorbs and neutralizes chemicals very well, it is often administered in cases of poisoning. They would be made widely available in buzz bars and stores. Or, they could simply do nothing, or even drink more. Still not a problem. They would puke it up in short order.

warning label: First time? Go slow. You may
be sensitive. Sweating, pale, agitated, rapid pulse, dry mouth, clenching jaw? You have had too much. Stop now. You will be okay. If available, take some 
activated charcoal to feel better.
Mixing any 2 buzz drugs that are yellow or 
red risk stimulants, or yellow or red risk depressants, multiplies the risk of overdose.
Does it take a higher dose than it used to, to get the same buzz? 
You have developed tolerance. Keep that down by rotating buzzes. If it continues to rise, take a 3 week break from that stuff.

The other two panels are examples of other important information that can go on labels. As shown earlier, half of the surface area of a buzz drug package would be safety information, standardized by law. That way, it counter-balances whatever marketing is on the rest of the package. Just as is now being done with tobacco and alcohol marketing, all buzz marketing should be required to share space with a mature, responsible voice concerned with health, not maximizing sales. This information of course emphasizes what can go wrong. It would actually be pretty easy to avoid any problems. Along with the warning label and the classification code would be a panel with the one rule about mixing buzzes that should always be followed, and a panel with a word of caution for those who have been leaning on buzz use as a coping tool, the ones on a path to addiction. That section would be a soft sell of practical techniques that can be used to slow down the process of developing tolerance. Tolerance is when your body starts adapting to the frequent presence of a buzz in your system by becoming less sensitive to it, after which you need to take more to get the same buzz. A small amount of tolerance is not a big issue, but the more your tolerance goes up, the more probable that you have a genuine physical addiction, and your body will go into withdrawal if you don't continue taking a buzz. The information in the panel would be just enough to keep the matter in the back of the user's mind, especially after staff in buzz shops and bars have begun to mention it to them, which they would. We'll cover what they'd say in the section on support services. The panel doesn't use the word 'addiction', it doesn't pass judgement. It is just some good advice.

only if you have this photo license card 
would you be able to buy buzz drugs

The reason why staff would have started mentioning methods of preventing addiction is because when you'd buy buzz products, you'd use the card you'd been issued when you got your license to buy them. That card would register all your purchases, made anywhere, on your purchase history in the system database. Your file would be confidential - only you, or staffers that deal directly with you, could view it. If you had a purchase pattern that indicated risky behaviour, a flag would be added to your file - either automatically, based on the program's analysis of your purchases, or manually, by a staffer. When that happened, staff would begin following a standard procedure of opening a dialogue with you, and maintaining it, about making your usage safer. Learning how to do this, and how to teach you ways to control risk and work with you on them, would be the majority of their training. Only by completing that training would they be licensed to staff a buzz shop. Only licensed people could have such a job. Staff in bars, clubs, and cafes selling buzz drugs would require further training and would receive a different license. In addition to what store staff do, servers in such places would make decisions about how much of certain buzzes you should take for a good experience, when and how to cut you off if necessary, and be able to handle anything and everything that might happen in their bar, including emergency first aid. It would be a complex job and they would be professionals.

There would need to be a lot of regulations about ingredients permitted in products. For instance, the amount of THC in typical street marijuana has about doubled in the last 20 years. That really changes the effect it has, especially for those most affected by the way THC provokes paranoia. Is that really a product you want on the shelves? Perhaps a product that strong is within the bounds of reason for marijuana - but you couldn't let the same thing happen with coca leaves. Percentage of active ingredients would have to be regulated for everything, including plants. Another example - street drugs are often cut with other ingredients that heighten their effect. This practise has more recently been applied to legal caffeine drinks, which often contain guarana, taurine, and maybe ephedrine, all of which heighten the stimulant effect. Nobody is paying attention to how this could affect the health of people who drink a lot of energy drinks. Someone should. In general, it should not be legal to sneak in something that augments a high and thereby makes it harder to consume in moderation. A dedicated body that reviews the ingredients in buzz products would be needed.

Next: Buzz Shops