Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Useless, Feel-Good, Legislation

Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to expand the list of items considered drug paraphernalia to include certain small glass tubes. The bill is HB99.

The code of Alabama already bans the following:

"(a) Definition of "drug paraphernalia". - As used in this section, the term "drug paraphernalia" means all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of the controlled substances laws of this state. It includes but is not limited to:

"(1) Kits used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, or harvesting of any species of plant which is a controlled substance or from which a controlled substance can be derived;

"(2) Kits used, intended for use, or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, or preparing controlled substances;

"(3) Isomerization devices used, intended for use, or designed for use in increasing the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance;

"(4) Testing equipment used, intended for use, or designed for use in identifying, or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness, or purity of controlled substances;

"(5) Scales and balances used, intended for use, or designed for use in weighing or measuring controlled substances;

"(6) Dilutants and adulterants, such as quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose and lactose, used, intended for use, or designed for use in cutting controlled substances;

"(7) Separation gins and sifters used, intended for use, or designed for use in removing twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, marihuana;

"(8) Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons and mixing devices used, intended for use, or designed for use in compounding controlled substances;

"(9) Capsules, balloons, envelopes and other containers used, intended for use, or designed for use in packaging small quantities of controlled substances;

"(10) Containers and other objects used, intended for use, or designed for use in storing or concealing controlled substances;

"(11) Hypodermic syringes, needles and other objects used, intended for use, or designed for use in parenterally injecting controlled substances into the human body;

"(12) Objects used, intended for use, or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marihuana, tetrahydro cannabinols, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into the human body, such as:

"a. Metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic pipes with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls;

"b. Water pipes;

"c. Carburetion tubes and devices;

"d. Smoking and carburetion masks;

"e. Roach clips: meaning objects used to hold burning material, such as a marihuana cigarette, that has become too small or too short to be held in the hand;

"f. Miniature cocaine spoons, and cocaine vials;

"g. Chamber pipes;

"h. Carburetor pipes;

"i. Electric pipes;

"j. Air-driven pipes;

"k. Chillums;

"l. Bongs;

"m. Ice pipes or chillers.

So....according to section 'a' things like sunlight, dirt, water, guano and so forth are illegal if you are using them to grow say ....a pot plant. That is nothing less than INSANE!

Yesterday this was added to the long list of items that are banned.

"n. Glass tubes which are hollow, cylindrical items made of glass which are smaller than three-quarters of an inch in diameter, shorter than 12 inches in length, and which are not sealed with glass at both ends."

I have never fully understood the reasoning behind these pieces of legislation. Banning anything like pipes is useless. It doesn't do anything to curb or stop drug use. Banning a glass pipe will not prevent a crack addict from ingesting the drug anymore than banning bongs, vaporizers and rolling papers will prevent a pot smoker from smoking pot. Drug users can be very creative, see. Why, I've even known pot smokers to use toilet paper tubes with aluminum foil, soda cans and in extreme emergency cases...gasp....a tampon paper!! I believe crack smokers are known for using light bulbs in the absence of a tube. Are they going to ban Charmain, Reynolds Wrap, soda cans, tampons wrapped in paper and light bulbs? I think they will if we let them. I wish they would stop wasting time and taxpayer money to pass things like this that do nothing to address the root problem of drug use (prohibition is the real problem) and restrict the freedoms of everyone and not just those who smoke crack.

If they really want to reduce the number of crack cocaine addicts in the state of Alabama and the crime (burglary, robbery) and negative health effects of addiction to hard street drugs then they would be considering legal prescription drug substitution like Adderol, Ritalin and Desoxyn to addicts in a controlled medical setting. I have been advocating the use of prescription stimulants for meth addicts for some years now. If those prescription drugs are good enough to give to millions of school age kids to make them sit down and shut up then why not try them on those addicted to street stimulants to make them quit robbing their neighbors?


-Sepp said...

They will be going after apples, pears, carrots and, potatoes next since my group used to fashion some imaginative smoking devices from those things too...of course nobody was ever caught with them since we ate the evidence afterwards :-)! If they want to go after crackheads, simply throw some rocksalt into the street and round up the scumbags who run out and start sifting through it...too easy.

Loretta Nall said...

I disagree Sepp. I do not advocate the continued prohibition of any substance. That obviously isn't working and never will. If they wanted to address the problems caused by crack cocaine addiction then they should be looking at what Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is doing. I have been advocating that approach for meth addiction here in Alabama for a few years. See my addendum to this post at the end.

Locking up people for using crack cocaine will not stop other people from using crack cocaine and, with the ease of availability of drugs in prison, it likely won't even stop the arrested person from using crack cocaine while in jail. Locking people up just costs taxpayers money, creates worse criminals and does nothing to address the root causes of addiction or to prevent it.

So, what is the point?

The Alabama Moderate said...

"n. Glass tubes which are hollow, cylindrical items made of glass which are smaller than three-quarters of an inch in diameter, shorter than 12 inches in length, and which are not sealed with glass at both ends."

As someone pointed out over at Between the Links... Thermometers.

Anonymous said...

I just read the bill and saw some reference to the forfeiture law in Alabama. I wonder if that is really the reason that they are trying to get this enacted. It seems like the wording in this bill would criminalize just about any type of container, etc. and that it would be up to the LEO to decide if the item was being used for something illegal. I think if I were a defense lawyer, I would already be getting my arguements ready to fight this bill.

Loretta Nall said...

I would not be surprised if it had something to do with the forfiture laws. Rarely do these folks do anything without an alterior motive.

On another note I'd like to report that Rep. Patricia Todd cast the sole NO vote for this bill. I spent most of today at the state house with a medical marijuana patient and we stopped in to talk to Ms. Todd. While there this topic came up and I told her my thoughts on it. She asked me to let my readers know that she voted against it. I will write more on this subject in a different post.

-Sepp said...

I think the Vancouver Mayor is biting off more than he can chew since he's planning on spending the citizens money on an experiment. The idea may sound nice...(feel-good legislation if you will) but, giving away 'scrip substitutes for crack and heroine will simply replace one problem with another. When his plan gets too expensive and is abruptly cut off, he'll have a city full of immigrant junkies with no free fix available. Then what? The Netherlands are a good example of a nice idea gone bad. Another example is the methadone clinics here in the USA. Most are used by junkies who simply have no cash to buy actual heroine and use it as a substitute until the real mcoy is again available.
Crackheads are a different story altogether. Unless you keep them permenently sedated, nothing stops them. Jailing them may not stop them from getting crack but, it does stop them from stealing everything that isn't nailed down to include claw hammers to pry up the nails.
I'll disagree with you about prohibition on crack and heroine.

Loretta Nall said...

If people are using the methadone clinics to aquire their medicine then that is a good thing. It keeps them off of the streets and lowers rates of robbery, burglary and accidnetal death by overdose. That was the intent.

You need to always remember that crack cocaine and heroin addicts are human beings just like you are. Not one of them, as a child, day-dreamed of growing up to be a hard core drug addict. Not one. They do not belong in jail, especially if the only reason is because we want to prevent them from using a substance.

Here is a funny thing about drug substitution.....we do it all the time with legal stuff. For instance, using Wellbutrin to help people quit smoking. Every stop smoking commercial I see on TV now promotes a pharmaceutical replacement. Alcoholics are often given anti-anxiety and anti-siezure medication when they are coming off alcohol. It helps to prevent DT's.

If we have pharhmaceutical drugs that reduce cravings for stimulant addicts, cause fewer negative side effects than street drugs, that can be administered in a controlled medical setting and will help reduce crime and health problems associated with street stimulant use then why not give it a go? It is safer all the way around for the addict and for the community in which the addict resides. Isn't that what we want? Safer communities?

Sam Sullivan is doing a wonderful thing. His approach is innovative and backed by science. As far as I know his is the first program so I am not sure what you are referring to when you refer to the Netherlands program. The Netherlands did some of the research which indicates this approach may be very beneficial so whatever they were doing must have worked and not failed as you stated.

Also, this is not funded by Canadian taxpayer money. This project is being privately funded so the public really has no room to gripe. And...even if it were taxpayer money it would never equal the value of lives destroyed and lost that current prohibition policies are leaving in their wake.

-Sepp said...

Well, if I were less informed on this topic, I'd probably agree. My best friend since probably second grade somehow got hooked on heroine. The methadone clinic served only to curb the craving when the real thing was unavailable or, unaffordable. It did nothing else but to serve as a replacement for a fix he couldn't have and, was far from a path to getting off the drug. When we offer nothing but an easy substitute to a drug like heroine or, crack, we're not solving the problems that come with them but, just offering an easy temporary fix until the money is there or, the real thing is again available. I watched a mathmatical genius...and I mean a true genius get his plug pulled because after serving 3 months in jail, he got out and shot that crap in his arm and died from it.
Jamison M. Snyder 1971-2006
Further proof that the good die young.