Smoking blends: narcotics or fun?

Soft drugs are not legalized in Russia. However, substances similar to them in terms of the effect are freely marketed and sold. Sometimes dealers manage to add illicit drugs to these substances.

Last week the Federal Drug Control Service officers detained members of the Altai Barnaul groups wanted for selling illegal smoking mixtures. The smoking mixtures contain a synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018, whose impact on the body resembles that of marijuana. The drug is included in the list of substances banned by Federal Drug Control Service. Barnaul police watched over the activities of the groups since the beginning of 2011. Two forty-year-old residents who own a completely legal business of installing burglar and fire alarm systems decided to arrange a profitable second source of income. Large batches of the substance ready for sale were obtained from the neighboring region. In Barnaul the smoking mixture was packed in bags and sold to anyone willing to buy.

These smoking blends are illegal, and their distributors will be punished. However, there are allowed mixtures whose effect is not that different from the effect of cannabinoids. Clearly, if sellers do not want problems with the law, they will not include illegal drugs in their smoking mix. However, if they want customers to buy their goods, then they will try to make them more effective. The websites that sell such mixtures have the following ads: "You will not notice how reality ceases to exist for you, and only joy, happiness and complete satisfaction will remain." Or even more bluntly: "The effect of this legal smoking mixture lasts for 4-5 hours. It is very similar to the well-known substance" (a drug derived from cannabis pollen). It is somewhat bizarre that soft drugs are prohibited, but the ersatz, as close as possible in terms of effect to these drugs, is sold at every corner. Gradually, despite the failure to legalize soft drugs, people are getting used to their everyday presence in their life as if it is the norm.

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At the end of May, 2011, the International Commission on Drugs under the auspices of the UN issued a bitter statement that the global war on drugs was lost. According to the commission, currently there are approximately two hundred and fifty million people using drugs, nearly ten million are addicted and millions are involved in the cultivation, production and distribution of raw materials or drugs themselves. On this basis, the UN concluded that legalizing soft drugs and stopping the prosecution of drug addicts would be more effective than a war against spreading the drugs. Is this true? What would easy availability of narcotic substances mean for addicts and potential addicts?

The experience of Holland shows that after the legalization of cannabinoids the situation only gets worse. Local officials and ordinary citizens all the more loudly express concern about rising marijuana use among teenagers as well as rising crime and the development of the so-called "drug tourism". The number of organized criminal groups in the Netherlands has increased tenfold. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that criminals on drugs commit six times as many murders, four times as many attacks and almost fifty per cent more burglaries compared to those who commit crimes in order to get money for a dose. As for those already addicted to heavy drugs, no forceful measures would help to improve the addicts' condition.

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Why would they? A sterile environment does not facilitate the devastating damage from the drugs themselves. In the late 1980s, Swiss authorities decided to experiment in Zurich and organized a public park where addicts could openly use heroin. Health workers handed out sterile syringes and condoms free of charge, and offered outpatient care, counseling and treatment when necessary. In its "best" days it was attended by thousands of drug addicts. Every day up to 15 thousand needles were distributed, the number of people in need of medical care was increasing. In 1990, 30 deaths from overdose were recorded in the park, in 1991 - already 78. As a result, the park was shut down.

Virtually all doctors agree that the path to heavy drugs begins with soft drugs. Why open this path? They say that road services intentionally impose speed limit restrictions 15-20 kilometers below the speed at which drivers would drive. When asked why, they explain: "If we put a sign with the restriction 60 km / h, drivers will still drive at 80. But if the restriction is 80, they will drive at a hundred." One can easily imagine what would inevitably follow the legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, the penetration of the "substitutes" in the form of smoking mixtures and similar products is if not a step, then half a step in that direction.

Yana Filimonova

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov