Monday, 12 May 2008

Random drug-related thoughts

These will be very quick, and in response to news items from the ABC:

Conference told drinking needs to be "denormalised". Apparently, society needs to change the way it views drinking before rates of binge drinking will be diminished. Umm... well, duh! But good luck in actually doing anything.

Drug expert supports proposed new liquor changes. The changes proposed are in Western Australia and will involve locking down night-clubs two hours before closing time so that once people have left, they can't go back in. This includes, I speak from experience, stepping out the door, remembering that you've left something in the cloak room and not being able to go back in and fetch it. The expert in question is a researcher from the National Drug Institute (is it really?) at Curtin University, and he says that ... Hang on, the article is a bit confusing about what he does say. It says that he says that drinking is a bigger problem than illicit drug use (which I agree with, just by the way), and that longer and longer trading hours are associated with an increase in violence, but we're not talking about reducing trading hours, are we? Two hours before closing time is not when people decide to go out. They're already in there and hammered by that time. The comment leading the article is not supported by the quotes within said article. Strike one for quality journalism. There is, however, a lot of quoting from the Australian Hotels Association, saying that the industry will be destroyed. This seems like a slightly overblown reaction to me, but I have two questions (well, one question and a suggestion):
  • Has it worked in Queensland. We have now had this in place for, oh, I don't know, a while now. Has it worked? Has there been less violence in pubs and clubs, outside pubs and clubs, on the street? There's enough police in Fortitude Valley every night of the week that surely they will have noticed a change, and arrest records are, after all, records. Has it worked?
  • Let's consider, as an alternative, and I don't want to be snide or facetious here, but let's just consider enforcing the laws about letting inebriated people buy more alcohol. I have no wish to walk in the shoes of bar-staff and I don't know what their experience is, but if they don't feel safe or able or obliged to cut people off, then there are serious problems with training, licencing or security staffing.

Coroner finds non-sniffable petrol caused boy's death. Ah, Opal. So-called "non-sniffable" petrol, with fewer aromatic substances so that it's harder to get high and cause seriously nasty lasting neurological damage. There are a few concerns here, including: What's it doing to your car's engine? What's it doing to your fuel-economy? Does it work? Why the fuck are we inconveniencing motorists instead of addressing the social issues? But now here we have a boy who tried so hard to get high by sniffing that he suffocated himself. To death. I'm sorry, I thought that wasn't supposed to be possible. Reality check: Opal is still a form of petrol. That means that it floats on water, is highly combustible (which is the point, after all) and is a really savage solvent. When the Coroner said that promoting Opal fuels as non-sniffable is "misleading" he was probably being diplomatic.

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