January 8, 2008

Time can pass and time can heal
But it don't ever pass the way I feel

Kara Walker, Darkytown Rebellion, 2001, projection, cut paper and adhesive on wall

* Top cop calls for drug legalization. excerpt:

"Few senior cops can boast such an electrifying record as Richard Brunstrom. He recently stunned himself with a Taser gun to prove the police device was not dangerous. Then he broke into his own headquarters at night to highlight a lack of security. And last week Brunstrom’s sanity was questioned after he proclaimed that the illegal drug ecstasy was 'a remarkably safe substance' – safer than aspirin.

"Some maintain that a congenital predilection for self-publicity has propelled North Wales’s chief constable on his relentless campaign to install ever more speed cameras, for which he earned the sobriquet 'the mad mullah of the traffic Taliban." Now he has the tabloids frothing at the mouth over his zeal to legalise all drugs.

"How does it feel, I ask, to be Tasered with 50,000 volts? 'Very uncomfortable,' Brunstrom admits. He did it for 'ethical reasons' to demonstrate that the police’s reassurances were true. So presumably he’s taken ecstasy for the same reason? 'Never. I don’t take illegal substances. I’ve never touched cannabis in my life. I don’t smoke. I drink a little bit of alcohol but not to excess.' He says that more people die from taking aspirin than ecstasy.

"'Why are heroin and cocaine illegal and not lighter fluid? It is demonstrable that tobacco and alcohol are more addictive and more dangerous than cannabis, yet they are not illegal. The question is not whether I am mad, but why these things are illegal.'

"Brunstrom refers to 20 substances listed in a 'hierarchy of harm' printed in The Lancet last year. The league table is headed by heroin, closely followed by cocaine, with alcohol in fifth place, tobacco ninth, cannabis 11th and ecstasy 18th. If ecstasy, as he stated on Radio 4’s Today programme last week, was 'far safer than aspirin' how does he respond to the parents whose children have died after taking a pill?
"Invoking numerous sources, he claims the war on drugs is unwinnable. 'It is not possible to run a democratic country and stop drugs getting in,' he insists. 'We reckon, on the best evidence we’ve got, that we stop between 10 and 12% at best of the drugs imported into the UK.'

"His assertions on heroin would give most antidrugs campaigners cold turkey. Despite heading his 'hierarchy of harm,' he says it is 'not particularly dangerous,' although highly addictive. 'If taken sensibly, heroin has no known adverse medical effects.'

"Brunstrom contends that prescribing heroin to addicts has been proved to reduce their criminal activities: 'Because most of their criminal behaviour is driven by the need to gain cash and buy more drugs.'

"He rates cannabis as 'demonstrably less dangerous and addictive than tobacco,' but concedes that crack cocaine makes people 'extremely violent.'

"Unable to cite any precedents for the legalisation of drugs beyond the recent case of Portugal, he says the experts know what is likely to work. Of course, a similar confidence inspired legislation on 24-hour drinking.

* Pre-order Dean Wareham's upcoming book, Black Postcards.

* In DC? Plums + obetrol (first show ever!) + guests (TBA), at the electric maid (268 carroll st. NW at the takoma metro stop), 12 january 2008 8pm $5

* "[I]wonder if the attention given to coffee isn't surpassing the attention produced by coffee." -- David Berman


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