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PsychoactiveEthan61 karma

i am passionate about this issue, not least because the ignorance, misinformation and deliberate lying by govts about nicotine vaping reminds me so much about what drew me to drug policy reform in the 1980s. The more one looks at the scientific and other evidence, the more one concludes that harm reduction, decriminalization or legal regulation and health-focused strategies are the way to go. But the public, mainstream media and politicians all head the other way.

Take just a few examples of widespread ignorance and misinformation about nicotine vaping. According to polls:

Most Americans believe that vaping nicotine (with ecigs or heated tobacco products) is as or more dangerous than smoking. But all the evidence says exactly the opposite.

Most Americans, and even most doctors, believe that nicotine causes cancer. But there is virtually no evidence that nicotine actually causes cancer. Nicotine is the drug that can hook you but it's a relatively benign substance apart from that. What causes cancer is primarily consuming nicotine in cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco.

Most Americans believe that EVALI -- the vaping related illness that killed about 70 people back in 2019 (right before the pandemic) and put a few thousands in the hospitals - -was a consequence of using nicotine e-cigarettes. In fact it had virtually nothing, indeed perhaps nothing at all, to do with vaping nicotine - and was caused almost entirely by a few knuckleheads inserting Vitamin E acetate into THC vape cartridges in order to make more money. What those knuckleheads didn't know was that Vitamin E is perfectly fine to swallow but quite dangerous when heated and inhaled. As soon as that situation was remedied, the problem went away. But the CDC, remarkably, still refused to acknowledge this fully

Put it this way, if all of the 30-35 million cigarette smokers in the US, or the 1.1 billion cigarette smokers worldwide, were to suddenly switch entirely to e-cigarettes and other nicotine harm reduction devices like heated tobacco products (eg IQOS), SNUS and nicotine pouches, it would represent one of the greatest advances in public health in US and global history. And that would still be the case even if millions of young people started vaping nicotine - although we'd of course prefer they didn't.

Check out Cilive Bates' Counterfactual online for great information, as well as https://gsthr.org/ - Here's my interview with Clive from September:

PsychoactiveEthan58 karma

I don't like the complete commercialization, and I especially don't like the potential Budweiserization and Malborization of cannabis. I'm a sort of "small is beautiful" kind of guy and would much prefer a microbrewery sort of model.

But I also recognize that we live in perhaps the most dynamic capitalist society in history, so I always knew, as we were advocating to end cannabis prohibition, that the major downside of success would be the sort of commercialization we're seeing now, and that will likely get only worse with federal legalization.

So I think it's good that states, and federal bills, are trying to remedy some of this with provisions and efforts to help folks who have been in the illicit industry, as well as those who were harmed by the drug war, to get first dibs and various forms of assistance to help them succeed in the legal market.

But I'll also say that what drove me to advocate for legalizing cannabis all along was my desire to reduce and end the 750,000 people getting busted each year for weed (90% for possession) and the vast numbers losing their driving licenses, scholarships, govt benefits and even homes, children and freedom simply for consuming marijuana. The great thing about legalization is that it's making a huge difference in reducing these injustices. Sadly, no great reform happens without some people being worse off, and some trade-offs are inevitable.

PsychoactiveEthan40 karma

Depends where you live but typically the best thing to do is get involved locally. See if there are any local or state groups working to reform drug policy; or organizations working on broader or related issues that have some stake in a drug policy issue. And be willing to work on sub issues -- re harm reduction, or reducing criminalization, or psychedelics, or the overdose issue, or cannabis reform.

And, apart from that, you're doing the right thing but trying to read and learn as much as possible. And, of course, listen often to my podcast PSYCHOACTIVE!

PsychoactiveEthan18 karma

I think the psychedelic renaissance is overall a very good thing for broader drug policy reform - so long as people involved in that renaissance don't go out of their way to demonize other psychoactive drugs or advocate for tougher penalties on other drugs.

Generally, anything that helps to de-stigmatize and decriminalize one drug that's been illegal for a long time has a spillover effect vis a vis other criminalized drugs, and also provides possible models for moving from prohibition to decrim to legal regulation. I'm pretty sure we would have seen the progress on psychedelics reform (and especially the decrim as distinct from research./medical side) or on all drug decrim if we haven't progressed so successfully and quickly in recent years on cannabis reform.

I think we have some chance to make progress re opioids, eg., when one sees a significant reduction in restrictions on methadone maintenance due to COVID, or when one sees ever growing support for harm reduction. (See today's article in the NYTimes re drug czar Gupta embracing harm reduction these days.)

What would really help is some leveling and injection of greater common sense and science and reason into thinking about psychoactive drugs. Too many prescription pharmaceuticals still get favored over potentially more effective but still illegal substances, for all the wrong reasons. (See the book, White Market Drugs by David Herzberg.)

PsychoactiveEthan12 karma

It's eventually going to be mostly the mega companies but some places will carve out places for traditional growers. Legislation in Jamaica, and Colombia, and part of the US, have tried and others will as well - but it's hard to make it meaningful in practice because eventually most consumers, apart from those perhaps who live in traditional growing areas, are going to switch to legal suppliers.

I also think there's a good possibility that this will continue to evolve. Let me give an example. When I first moved back to NYC (where I was born) n 1992, there were lots of coffee shops; then Starbucks put most of them out of business. But now I walk around and see more non-chain cafes than ever before. I think something similar happened with beer markets, where following the repeal of alcohol Prohibition, a few big companies took over the entire market with fairly homogeneous products but now every year we see the microbrewery share of the markets steadily growing. That's a likely model for cannabis.