The problem isn’t big tobacco finding a new way to get the next generation hooked on a different variant of their deadly product after so many years of seeing smoking rates decline; neither is it youth’s unique penchant for finding the hottest it, stupid, reckless trend that could kill them. No the problem was and is a repeating one, poor regulation of a consumer product by agencies meant to do just that, utter obliviousness by creators about their own product, let alone how people would use it once placed in their hands. Leading to an ignorant public who doesn’t understand the importance of licensed vape devices and the fluid cartridges that go in them, thus the illness linked to death, double lung transplants and odd lung diseases, but just ban vaping.
From the original e-cigarette commercials talking about expelled water vaper and lack of nasty, intrusive smell usually associated with traditional cigarettes one could forgive the public for not realizing there was even ever nicotine in them similar to that old PSA of the woman obviously trying to quit smoking sitting in her living room in a bathrobe and hair curlers watching TV while holding a carrot taking bites of it as if she were taking drags from a cigarette, something to sooth the compulsion of smoking, something to do with your hands until you completely kick the habit that doesn’t add the calories of eating unhealthy foods, only less improvisational and more effective. It wasn’t until the testimonial type ads of former smokers and their loved ones talking about the improvements to their lives now that they were vaping rather than smoking we saw the warning the devices and cartridges did indeed contain nicotine; those were from now defunct Juul. Well before there was a vaping related lung illness forget deaths from the popular trend there were different concerns, vaping devices that had injured people similar to damaged phone batteries igniting in people’s pockets and purses causing serious facial burns and up to 2 deaths from lesser quality mechanical mods available for use that still performed the function of highly advertised e-cigarette brands at a fraction of the cost. Its use among teens had caught the watchful eye of their peers and a few parents wondering if Juul-ing as they called it was safe, not to mention looking askance at them doing it in class behind teacher’s backs, the fact the vape pens looked like USB thumb drives, could even be plugged into a computer to charge the device for use adding to the perception it was designed to fool unsuspecting adults; asking questions about what’s in the vape pens, how worried they should be about this new thing their children were doing, should the put a stop to it. Going over the heads of feeling duped parents is vape pens were initially designed to be discrete for adults in not alerting everyone around you in a restaurant, public gathering you are a smoker/former smoker the same way feminine product companies have designed individual rappers to not give away what’s in them so that when a teen asked to be excused to the restroom with something in their hand either not allowed to carry a purse or not feeling like dragging it with them, they aren’t announcing to their potentially male teacher, the entire class ‘I need to change my pad/tampon, I need to put on/insert pad or tampon’ or did we forget those embarrassing moments we had in school? Discrete feminine products often more compact to better fit in a pocket, marketed to active women and girls involved in sports, vape pens modeled on the same concept that had the side effect of making it easier for teens to conceal. It’s a mirroring situation with their marketing, uncovered supposed evidence Juul marketed to kids as young as 8, 39 states currently investigating their marketing alleging they were marketed solely to minor teens (because who else besides them would want a flavor apart from menthol or tobacco) pointing to the packaging looking like candy or chewing gum, ads for next generation vaping products beyond Juul featuring young people looking chic and placed on websites where teens congregate, ads in Seventeen magazine for example. But again it may have been a happy side effect for the vaping company not their direct intention or ignoring of an unexpected emerging trend; which coincides with what the creator of Juul said in an interview with CBS News that he was sorry teens were using his product, it was never meant for them rather former smokers and that he didn’t want his kids, both teens, using the product, appealing to teens that if they aren’t smokers or former smokers don’t seek out the product. Given, CEO’s lie, big tobacco did it for years to equally avoid regulation of their products and punishment for hiding the negative and deadly effects of tobacco products they knew about for decades but deliberately shielded from the public and regulators for the sake of their insatiable profit margin; yet if only momentarily taking him at face value, it speaks to the ignorance detailed in this article’s subheading about who would do what with their product and not only theirs but similar products designed to be their competitors, a profound ignorance of the history surrounding tobacco and how big tobacco was so successful at getting both a nation and the globe addicted to their specific products. To say nothing of the lesser talked about but undeniable factual reality of youth smoking that still exists with cigarettes they steal from their parents, grandparents, older siblings, other relatives, long known, the increased likelihood of a child smoking in adulthood if their parents do; plus there too remains a contingent of stores in every community that simultaneously sells tobacco and is bad, lax at carding teens for cigarettes, nor are all tobacco products said cigarettes, in certain regions of the country chewing tobacco continues to be popular and, if you have an underage person who is attempting to quit either form of tobacco shouldn’t they also have access to vape products like Juul always put forward as a cessation of smoking, meaning stop smoking for people who need things broken down into the monosyllable, aid. Leaving off entirely that until roughly August of 2019 there was no real system to card teens for vapes, to curb if not prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and even then it only applies to the products sold by Juul because they are the company who implemented specialized barcoding on their products forcing cashiers to check ID’s to sell them; Juul who did take the step of pulling their flavored vape products before there was any kind of ban passed by law, though easily seen the damage was well on its way to already done. Following up from there, is it so hard to see a smoker attempting to quit utilizing flavored vapes to stave off the common weight gain that usually comes after, either because food tastes better when not inhibited by smoke or they have a greater apatite because their body is in a healthier condition? Considering the prevalence of obesity and the fat shamming that has always taken place in our culture, but in recent years has been ramped up under the guise of health concern, is it so difficult to see those who struggle with weight being enticed by flavored vapes that smell like food, mimic eating in certain ways without consuming calories, probably another source of its popularity among teens as a cheap form of potential weight control. But ‘Juul marketed to kids’ feeds the alarmist narrative setting the stage for what was quick to happen attempts to ban vaping entirely or in part before fully understanding the crux of the problem or what was best to be done about it. Next came the illnesses people showing up in hospitals with acute respiratory distress, close to death and doctors mystified by the cause, X-rays described as looking like chemical burns, rare lipid pneumonia, one teen who needed an emergency double lung transplant to survive; common denominator vaping, not singularly tobacco and menthol flavored e- cigarettes but THC products as well possibly attributed to the vitamin E oil mixed in such products to make them last longer, go farther. Otherwise healthy teens collapsing at school ending up in the hospital, in a coma, going from a persistent cough routinely associated with walking pneumonia to knocking on death’s door within hours, bouncing back from near death experiences some with lifelong complications; later down the road of unraveling why vaping, a background cultural trend, had suddenly become so deadly, it would be, could the problems with vapes be where they are made, lingering question if we were facing another instance of overseas contamination, things wrong with domestic supply? On those heels came the deaths, otherwise healthy, stable people with few or no chronic conditions, certainly not in the respiratory category, turning up dead, autopsies revealing similar lung damage to chain smokers, the noted X-ray findings, information so jarring because it was suddenly killing largely young people who had never previously smoked losing their life to a trend, more and more deaths attributed to the newest clearly dangerous cultural phenomenon most alarming when taking young lives, but overshadowed is, it did kill several adults, middle aged persons fully capable of comprehending their actions and making their own choices just trying to quit smoking, find a healthier alternative to smoking if not completely eradicate it from their lives. Eventually discovered was a thriving illegal vaping market featuring cartridges you have no idea what’s in them and no way of ascertaining what’s in them without the assistance of a testing lab and because the practice is so new easily looking like the brand name, licensed market products further bolstered by professional, attractive looking websites, online and social media presence adding to their seeming legitimacy; here where you find the ones that use cartoon characters, look like candy and chewing gum. NBC’s Today Show investigation not singularly showing an elaborate low sophistication while astoundingly effective black market but showcased too an absolute glut of places where the reporter could buy discarded legal vape packaging and empty cartridges no ID and no questions asked able to, as she stated, fill with whatever cheap substance you want and pass it off as the real product; something that should be actively if not easily shut down because it can’t be legal to sell even discarded packaging to help anyone make a counterfeit product, if it isn’t against any current law that is something to be fixed as immediately as possible. Arguably not soon enough but sooner than it otherwise might have been doctors began getting their hands on vape cartridges to test the contents not only to see what variously effected patients had been inhaling but broadening their scope to market products available for purchase in vaping circles and what they found was nothing short of scary. A laundry list of toxins including ones in known classification groups of carcinogens, pesticides, vitamin E oil that is dangerous if inhaled via vaping, not only in black market, counterfeit, illegal vapes sold on the street for significantly cheaper prices but in name brand products; in addition, analysis found problems with the vape devices themselves, compounding the lurking hazard described above of ignition of named mods leading to disfigurement, burn injury or death, investigators found that while vape pens had recommended temp settings and ones that would warn you while charging if it became too hot, not only were people able to crank up the heat on their vape device beyond recommended parameters but were routinely doing so, the large vape clouds, puffs of what looks like smoke popular with teens. Result, superheated chemicals that changed from their original make up causing them to be potentially dangerous to the lungs remembering the rare lipid phenomena and things that looked like chemical burns on X-ray and with the added risk of creating carcinogens out of otherwise harmless chemicals when used at lower temperatures. At which point the question becomes what is the licensing process for products to be put on the market whether it’s a brand of candy, frozen dinner option or new chewing gum, various brands of mouthwash strips that dissolve on the tongue let alone companies like Blu and Juul, since a basic google search classifies them as tobacco entities and these are products that contain nicotine, further one is marketed as a smoking cessation aid. Thus it should have been under the jurisdictional control of the FDA like Nicorette and other nicotine gums meant to aid people in kicking their smoking habit, new strips that parallel mouthwash ones fulfilling the same purpose, lozenges that function like cough drops only instead of delivering throat soothers, mild pain numbing and cough suppression it delivers small amounts of nicotine to ease cravings, following dosing instructions to ween yourself off; instead the agency had to be ordered by a judge to investigate vaping and vaping products to render a ruling on its safety. Piling on to the problem in 2 ways because of the above mismanagement of a drug substance they should be charged with monitoring, the FDA has no idea if the flavoring used is safe to breathe coming in direct contact with the lungs like cigarettes versus essential oil room diffusers and deodorizers, fresheners; unsurprising seeing as this is the identical FDA who has a disturbing habit of approving a variety of prescription drugs only to have to pull them off the market after horrendous side effects, death, genital gangrene, amputations to hit the, we’ll call them lowlights. An FDA who oversaw the approval process for medical devices that fast became abysmal failures from faulty hip replacements causing pain, necessitating removal sometimes meaning holes where joints are meant to be, to vaginal, hernia mesh that never worked and caused a litany of complications for patients, the filters intended to prevent blood clots that were not only wholly ineffective but had a habit of breaking apart and migrating to other parts of the body creating potentially lethal obstructions, clots, increasing risk of heart attack or stroke they were meant to mitigate. Nexium, the popular heartburn, drug may well cause permanent kidney damage, with use per the package dosing instructions, a new gout medication that can have up to lethal side effects when there really wasn’t anything wrong with the old one, the drug maker simply wanted to amass dollars for their personal wealth. Advertised joint cream deemed totally useless according to class action lawsuits, the ongoing saga of Johnson & Johnson, when they knew what about the deadly asbestos tainting their product causing dozens upon dozens of female cancers as they used it for personal feminine hygiene decade after decade before knowing the danger, a California scheme to do needless spinal fusion surgeries with fake non- medical grade screws and other equipment kickbacks going to doctors, the spinal cord stimulation implants purported to alleviate back pain more apt to cause it, leaving people hoping to regain activity levels debilitated and disabled, the dangers of surgery centers, usually same day surgeries, supposedly simple procedures brought into the spotlight for one’s role in killing actress Joan Rivers, if not under the control of the FDA then should be under the watchful eye of someone at the federal level. Worse here isn’t merely FDA incompetence but that they weren’t even looking in this case while they did have the time to ban an online trending cancer treatment/cure the ‘dietary supplement’ cesium salts containing a dangerous formation of cesium chloride a cheap knock off of the radioactive cesium based on the chemotherapy treatment, the online peddled version far from the same inducing potential seizures, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), fainting and does nothing to impact the disease. They did have time to scrutinize and remove the weightless drug Belviq citing its possible cancer risk, and send a warning letter to the hand sanitizer company Purell to stop saying it protects against the new corona virus or reduces the number of missed school days sans any evidence to back that up. And as this article was under development, issue warnings to televangelist Jim Baker and disgraced conservative talk show host Alex Jones already deplatformed from social media for numerous violations of their terms of service for calling the Sandy hook school shooting a hoax and inciting various instances of violence based on his conspiracy theories, most notably the listener who self investigated a pizzeria thought to be involved in a child sex ring ran by the Clintons, yes those Clintons, (needless to say it didn’t exist and the duped person upon this realization surrendered to police peacefully) for peddling a colloidal silver based product to combat the since named COVID 19 pandemic. Though not only is there no proof of it doing so, in fact no proof of such silver having any health benefit whatsoever it is prone give the skin a grayish blue tint similar to the effects of methylene blue sometimes found in fertilizer from the long term build up in the body and can make it harder for a person to absorbed vitamins, minerals, receive the positive, intended effects of antibiotics. Finally along an adjacent timeline of FDA activities while vaping illnesses multiplied and were seemingly ignored by the agency concluding with issuing a so called black box, highest warning for the class of sleep drugs that includes well known Ambien and all of it’s years long documented side effects causing car accidents, getting people banned from flying thanks to erratic behavior exhibited under its influence. Outraging shouldn’t be that vaping exists or that its not so secret intent was to get people addicted to tobacco’s active ingredient nicotine rather the idea that thanks to the FDA’s misplaced priorities and inattention it appears to have been successful with the harmful side effect of death and injury. Moreover practical reality dictates as e- cigarettes are regulated currently, being totally accurate not regulated, you can get more information about what’s in your mouthwash than what’s in your, bought legally, vape pen/cartridge and is the height of absurdity. Also discovered in vaping products previously banned food additives, begging the obvious next question, where did the company get the banned additives and how did they come to be in vape pods without any regulatory agency taking notice; we know that to make meth cookers buy things like bulk quantities of motor oil and drain cleaner, bought copious amounts of cold pills prompting purchasing restrictions to curtail the making of the illegal substance. We know that illegal opiates are cut with fentanyl not hard to imagine gotten unscrupulously from a doctor at a hospital or a pharmaceutical manufacturer, supplier for a cut of the street market value. Those looking to make explosives use the contents of hardware and gardening stores making it next to impossible to ban or regulate them to such a degree they won’t be used nefariously, problems in the UK with violence led them to ban guns only to see a run of knives and escalation in knife crime prompting some retailers there to suspend sales of kitchen knives after attack events. Point being banned food additives, the one mentioned in the Salon piece banned only a year previously a testament to how slow American regulatory agencies are, our foods containing a multitude of things banned in Europe and other parts of the world for years, attainment should have raised red flags far before flavored vapes went on the market. Thirdly here, why was it banned, was it linked to endocrine disruption like BPA, was it known to cause ADHD symptoms in some kids like food dyes have been linked to or was it banned specifically as it pertains to vaping because it has been tested for ingestion as food or drink but not as an inhalant; important to know because if it is the latter it opens up a whole section of testing needing to be done that could find they are safe as inhalants and there is no need to worry or differentiate between ones that definitively shouldn’t be used in that way and ones where it doesn’t matter. Too, use of banned food additives is a patently lazy and unnecessary shortcut with what we know in the field of gastronomy changing food, dining into a next level experience; the same could have easily been done with vaping if they had put in the time and effort. Addressing a lesser but still important track in regards to FDA regulation that should have been placed on e-cigarettes from the beginning, there should be rules for safe disposal of the cartridges so unsuspecting people from the garbage collector, to the homeless person, to the kid putting trash in the community dumpster doesn’t garner accidental exposure to copious amounts of nicotine without their knowledge, people who threw away an only partially used cartridge for whatever reason, who threw away their half full mechanical mod cartridge perhaps on accident touched by any of the above and more with who knows what consequences should the cartridge somehow break in the trash, in shipping, perhaps why it was tossed, also unnoticed by the FDA. And while they did restrict access to e-cigarette products and vapes to those under18 in 2016, that the vaping illness sweeping across the country wasn’t seen until late 2018 into 2019 suggests what it did was push teens to the thriving illegal market where there is zero regulation and no protection for the unsuspecting consumer. Obvious too is for a product meant to be a stop smoking aid creators got greedy selling devices and cartridges for $60 and over when the person may well be trying to quit for the financial reason they can’t afford the habit any longer complete with all the taxes and fees slapped onto them in an effort to price them out of use by the public, a strategy that has never worked and probably never will. A strategy with cigarettes that has been blamed for deaths of persons like Eric Garner who was initially questioned by police on suspicion of selling loose, the street/slang term for untaxed cigarettes, and when he supposedly became combative with police is when he landed in that fatal chokehold. While as stated the mechanical mods sell for much less and the counterfeit pods were about $20 at the illegal gathering featured in the CBS News piece, in California no less, where everything costs more, all leading to the unshakable fact of making them easier for teens to get their hands on, exact opposite of the desired outcome.
Public and government reaction swift and on par with what we’ve come to expect meaning absolute panic cities, states and municipalities quick to ban so called favored vapes as detailed in the introduction, supposedly marketed to teens exclusively. Entire states temporarily banning vapes, even president Trump weighing in announcing a possible federal ban on flavored vaping based on the roughly 52 deaths associated with the phenomenon, banning trend well exceeding our boarders already in place in Singapore, Brazil, Hong Kong and India putting them in place according to the dates on provided videos. European health organization the only one to take a stand against blatant hysteria calling out the WHO’s (world health organization) vape warnings accusing them of spreading blatant misinformation about both risks and benefits. Seeming to have merit since vaping illness is unique to the US and has not happened in the UK and France, the other top 2 vaping countries with wide markets; thirdly in a somewhat surprising twist it isn’t the product made in China, despite sparse regulation major companies developing their own standards, rather the counterfeit U.S. knockoffs that present a public health threat, expert analysis laying blame at the feet of poor, absent regulation for the occurring illnesses and deaths stemming from the new tobacco tend. No one ever stopping to think they should have been safe, not only limited to a safer alternative than cigarettes but a much more benign habit than most drug use, a thing parents didn’t want their kids doing because it looked silly, because they didn’t know enough about it, at worst because they saw it as an addiction, but considering food too looks like an addiction according to brain scans conducted over the last 2 plus decades and fast food restaurants as well as potato chips and cookies remain on the market, soda linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes is still sold how much does that really resonate with the average citizen, when former New York mayor turned late democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg tried to ban the big gulp to enormous pushback and a strike down from a judge? Mandates to list calorie counts on food offerings in restaurants, fast food or otherwise, only marginally changed people’s behavior confirming blog author’s theory people don’t eat out seeking health food they go to indulge in favorites; people who eat out frequently do so in more upscale, sit down or buffet style places that offer both variety and healthy options, the latter where you serve your own plate controlling portion size. When yes video game addiction has been recognized as an addition by the WHO, American addiction centers .org and there is a push to include it in the latest volume of the DSM, the diagnostic manual of psychological disorders yet brain scans supposedly supporting this theory are identical to the ones ‘indicating’ fast, sugary and fatty foods are addictive. Keeping in mind this very blog dismantled the Nightline stories profiling 5 different families grappling with the disorder including a young man so attached to his gaming PC because he built it himself, and parents who didn’t understand his ADHD diagnosis, see that his school had him on an IEP (individualized education program) to manage it, worse thought a wilderness therapy camp was the solution; followed by a second family whose daughter had a laundry list of hitherto unknown mental health problems of which her phone/social media addition was just the tip of the iceberg causing watchers of the segment to wonder how they didn’t notice more than their child’s phone usage was wrong. Dealing with younger kids a mother waited until the scans screamed addiction to enroll their son (the only one of 3 children showing the ‘symptoms’) in summer camp to give him something else to do besides games and failed to follow basic tenets of getting kids off games without a fight laid out by Common Sense Media. Here looking for natural breaks like say just having completed a level, failed to listen when the child said he would finish watching whatever it was (watching not playing) then go outside to play with his brother seeing if he followed through on that without being reminded, totally ignorant of the ability to pause a game to say take out the trash then go back to it or save a game in a particular spot then return to it next time you want to play. A parent with a kindergartener who asked an expert to come to her house because of the younger child’s tantrums around technology and waited for advice to enroll her kids in after school activities, was ignorant that if you want the second grader to read more put the reading material on the tablet and problem solved, consider interactive reading things like leapfrog to entice them, noticed the 5 year old’s tantrums went down with less technology while blog and author attributed that to the 5 minute activity transition warning parents give to especially toddlers (which she was just a year ago) probably not given with the tablet, or that she was so adamant about having the tablet when mom insisted on dragging both kids on errands sans engaging in car songs or other non-tech activities to keep them occupied while you drive down the road. Lastly an adult man with 4 kids who provides well for his family and whom tech is his profession but the wife felt abandoned to the game, always putting the kids to bed herself, was tired of trying to engage with him, competing for his attention with the game, never thinking maybe 4 kids was overwhelming, the in-law family get togethers too much for an introverted personality, never trying to find games they could enjoy together, nor did blog and author buy the problem solved picture presented when he was willing to put away the game entirely and ‘reconnect’ with his family. Further a look inside a posh treatment center done by CBS Evening News highlights A- who wouldn’t be able to ‘give up’ video games here with so much else to stimulate them B- showed a teen girl who turned to video games/social media when there were a host of family problems meaning it could have just as easily been drugs or alcohol she used to cope and a young man who felt pressured by his family to be perfect turning to both drugs and tech to cope, who was planning on deleting his existing social media because it didn’t represent him not due to addiction. So called addiction a symptom not the underlying problem almost always true with gambling and the rest of the things understood that can become addictions, vaping one perhaps worth letting go because nicotine is not a carcinogen, poisoning like with marijuana adverse side effects can happen at a slightly higher chance than the latter yet remains rare and unlikely; indeed only seen in counterfeit cartridges bought on the street. Never mind asking why it’s not safe, why did we not learn our lessons from cigarettes, that instead of going with a standard tobacco/menthol base flavor, flavored ones made from already safe food products, preservatives known to prevent immediate food spoilage even legal vape products either took a page out of big tobacco’s book and added all these chemicals or weren’t paying enough attention to the quality controls and they were put in while being manufactured overseas, how we ended up with an endless stream of blood pressure medication recalls, not because the active ingredients in the medications had harmful side effects but that potentially carcinogenic byproducts were finding their way into the pills produced almost exclusively in China, same happening with the generic version of the popular heartburn drug Zantac showing nearly identical dangerous impurities. Another question never asked that should be, would standard cigarettes be less harmful if not classified as ‘safe’ if they removed all the excess chemicals and did the same as suggested with vaping products: tobacco plus safe preservative that keeps freshness, potency and quality, nothing else; because, researchers admit the reason rolling your own cigarettes doesn’t provide any health benefits is because loose tobacco used in this fashion is slathered with the identical chemicals as the ones you buy in packs and cartons. You can hardly blame the teen who underwent a double lung transplant after vaping or the one who woke up from a coma having almost lost her life saying don’t vape; nor the woman who nearly lost her son after he engaged in the trend and will have breathing difficulties for the rest of his life sounding off about how the vaping industry is getting around the flavor ban (now selling one time use ‘puffer bars’ that are not refillable and cost less than $10.) But unfortunately it puts out the perception that everyone who vapes will end up like those interviewed, that woman’s son; which would be analogous to saying everyone who rides a motor cycle will crash and suffer either horrific injuries or death, not true. And teens can see it for themselves, with their own eyes which will only cause them to continue vaping because they know adults are lying to them. Aside from that, the bad news for this poor parent and any parent looking to prevent her story from becoming their and their child’s is that it’s extremely unlikely the nicotine in the vape cartridge did that to him, it wasn’t likely the flavoring that did that to him rather the menagerie of toxic chemicals uncovered in vaping consumables; the double lung transplant patient has a twin brother who is still vaping despite desperate warnings from his mother and lucky to be alive brother, has said a tentative maybe to getting help for his ‘nicotine addiction’ having none of the problems his brother encounter while vaping. Meaning they both need to be in depth studied by doctors to determine if there is something different about where each bought their vape machines, vape machines they each used, is there something different about the types of cartridges used, is there something different about the sick twins body that made him more susceptible than his brother or members of the general population; critical questions that won’t be answered banning vaping, the anti-vaping ads the FDA did get around to generating and presenting to the masses. Worth questioning too is why she (the mom decrying the industry work around) thought a flavored vape ban would stop her kid, any kid from getting something to get high or achieve whatever pleasure they were getting out of it knowing the brief history of teen drug trends from huffing/inhaling paints and paint thinners to get high, robo-tripping drinking half a bottle, entire bottles of cough syrup or mouth wash al-la Robitussin (where it got its name) to get high, cocktails like Sizzurp and Lean they accused Trayvon Martin of being on (a mixture of codeine-based prescription cough syrup, soda and, often, Jolly Ranchers candy) to explain away why he was shot to death while unarmed by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman, which he wasn’t using, remaining something kids try. Aptly titled pharma parties where kids steal medications from their parents or grandparents medicine cabinets, place them in a large bowl and spend the night sampling them to get high, enjoy the effects; particularly dangerous since teens mistakenly believe abusing prescription medication is less harmful, carries less potentially lethal consequences than street drugs because it is medication. Regulators can’t remove all K2 derivatives (synthetic marijuana) from the public sphere, make it illegal for citizen use because creators keep changing the chemical, molecular, content formula to outsmart such bans preceding the K2 overdose scene in New York that looked like a clip from zombie apocalypse; new illicit drugs come into being faster than even those who monitor such things for a living can keep up, how we got bath salts (and no not the ones you put in your tub), not just heroine but fentanyl laced heroine law enforcement can’t touch without hazmat gear, the newest iteration gray death is a hodgepodge of heroine derivatives, fentanyl and everything else they could possibly cut it with exceedingly deadly to the touch. Prime reason alcohol continues to be legal is because prohibition was an unmitigated disaster that not only gave rise to the mob, organized crime we’re battling to certain extents to this day, but was utterly ineffective, speakeasies went up almost immediately, people were making bathtub moonshine well before prohibition and well after, ending in more harm and little good as people refused to have their small freedoms usurped by individuals, entities playing morality police as far back as the 1920’s. Moving away from drugs specifically are the litany of things teens and people are dubiously encouraged to try usually via the internet, there was the cinnamon challenge, the thigh gap challenge, the collar bone challenge, the belly button challenge, the duct tape challenge all dangerous for different reasons from giving vulnerable teens a distorted body image to resulting in eating disorders, resulting in various levels of injury even death when inhaling powdered cinnamon, skin grafts or possible suffocation from the duct tape one; when the factual truth is your thigh gap, however big or not it is, has nothing to do with weight, whether you are fat, out of shape but the natural couture of your hip, whether or not you can balance some number of quarters in the hollow created by your shoulder and collar bone is about the natural formation of your body, not how fit you are, if you meet some changing subjective beauty ideal, the belly button challenge more about flexibility than BMI, body size, physical health, meeting social standards on those topics, helped along if you happen to be double jointed or have a condition causing looser joints and cartilage called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, not something to wish for. Recently the internet was abuzz with a supposed NASA standing broom challenge that you could stand your broom straight up on end because of the gravitational pull on the particular day, except the link was one of a litany of fake things found on the modern day graffiti littered bathroom wall known as the internet, NASA never said that and it’s simple physics you can do that every day it’s a matter of arranging the broom accordingly, though you may ruin your broom bristles for its actual intended purpose, cleaning. The very latest ‘virus challenge’ apparently involves licking a plane’s toilet seat and no one can stop harping on spring breakers who refuse to practice the recommended social distancing to fight the corona virus pandemic; welcome to the 21st century and the downsides of the internet/social media, where have you been? At what point does someone say to the woman in that video, as tragic as her story is, part of being a parent to teenagers is being up on what’s going on out there, educating yourself then having educated conversations with your teens about what their peers, friends, classmates are doing, what they could be tempted, asked to do and a critical thinking approach as to why not to do X, Y or Z versus the usual tact when parents talk at their children about issues along the lines of don’t let me catch you doing___ fill in the blank, I better not hear about you doing… Part of being a parent is monitoring what your kids are doing with their cash from allowance to the proceeds of a summer job, results of doing neighborhood odd jobs and having clear rules about what you will and won’t allow under your roof, pertinent to our topic, no vaping. Speaking of alcohol, from the exampled limitations of making something illegal for use en mass, caveats aside, of the two substances, vaping and liquor which one should be banned when 2 new studies reveal that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink, does not do some kind of harm to the body and that 70% of the public don’t know that alcohol consumption is a major risk factor in developing cancer, probably owing to the relentlessly touted studies on wine and heart health. Before compiling the deaths caused from said cancer brought on by drinking, the cirrhosis of the liver almost exclusively from alcohol use and abuse, eventually spelling death for sufferers, the number of motor vehicle accidents attributed to driving while intoxicated causing permanent injury or death; versus the 54 linked to vaping and roughly two and a half thousand illnesses of varying seriousness as of the New York Times reporting mid December 2019, the latest data easily publicly accessible via news, 68 as of February 2020 according to the CDC’s website, the last know update as of this article’s publication. The social implications, alcohol’s role in deaths on college campuses from drinking games that spill over into binge drinking, the self injury that occurs when participants become falling down, stumbling drunk, rape both on college campuses and throughout the population too routinely involves a common denominator, alcohol. Alcohol’s long and yet prescient history in domestic abuse, broken homes, inability of family bread winners of either gender to get or consistently hold down a job, a litany of assaults from bar fights to holiday 9-1-1 calls when uncle so and so, cousin X got drunk and…now there’s property damage, a police report, injured parties, too frequently dead ones due to their other ever present companion firearms; on the other side vaping, when not from counterfeit, toxic products leads to kids being so called nic-sick (suffering low level nicotine poisoning) inducing vomiting, sweating, exhibiting moodiness and other behaviors adults associated with ‘withdraw’ but could also be applied to any teenager sans the presence of addiction or apply to any of the might be addictive things from video games to doughnuts. For a drug, a dangerous teen trend pretty innocuous side effects; sane reaction to a kid vaping and vomiting is to suggest they cut back, check the quality of their product, inquire why they are doing it if getting sick is the only result. Another factor in favor of leaving vaping in place and making alcohol illegal, if choosing between the two, is the problem with vaping isn’t the core product but the additives put in with the active ingredient nicotine versus the fermentation needed to make the various beverages known as alcohol that does harm to the body in the smallest amounts. However, by the logic employed in both banning vaping entirely, temporarily or just flavors and the implications of what this mother is saying she wants from the industry, done to the industry to control it and keep vapes from her kid, again we should have banned motor vehicles of any kind not implemented safety features, we should ban NASCAR racing not do what they did in using the tragedy of a famous racers brutal, gruesome death to enact changes to car designs and safety parameters so that the most recent major wreck saw the driver yes in the hospital but able to walk away days later, go back to his family whole and intact including 2 small daughters. We should ban all air travel for the average person not the flawed, dysfunctional 737 max and correct the institutional problems that saw it remain in service after one crash, how it came off the line into circulation period with it’s documented deficiencies, the training not mandated; mindsets that would have us all believe the problem with Kobe Bryant’s death inducing crash was using a helicopter not the pilot flying through milk thick fog or the company not registered to fly on instrumentation, the warning system they lacked because the FAA refuses to mandate them for such aircraft. The problem with small planes is their size not poorly trained pilots with personal planes sans safety features, a pilot who crashed in New York not trained to fly in fog/weather but was permitted to take off in, you guessed it, fog and bad weather, amateur pilots who don’t have enough hours and training to successfully pull off the flights they are attempting. We should ban window blinds in homes with small children not alert parents to the danger they can and will choke themselves on the cords if left within reach/ not supervised around them, show them how best to keep cords out of little one’s reach or offer alternatives ideal for homes with babies and toddlers made sans the problematic cords, exactly what lawyers were pushing the consumer product safety commission to do, right down to educating store staff of retailers that sell blinds, their offerings for dwellings with small children. We should ban clothes dressers in homes with kids too not go after companies like Ikea for building something so lightweight it tips over if not filled to the brim, not including the wall securement kits with the purchased furniture making it an item you must either write the company to receive or purchase separately, all things the home product giant was criticized for, the major ones leading to a lawsuit and recalls, a several million dollar settlement to at least one family whose child died. How is it this activist mother, motivated by the near death of her son, knows about puffer bars but doesn’t see the fix to vaping staring her in the face, petitioning regulators and lawmakers to implement that; what is blog author getting at, what a PhD in chemical engineering who studies drugs and toxins effect on the pulmonary system said: build a better vape starting by analyzing if the additives approved for ingestion are safe to inhale. Extrapolating from there removing all unnecessary chemicals and additives that do not either promote the cessation of smoking or give flavor, if it doesn’t do one of those 2 things it’s not included; continuously building on what other experts have noted, vape devices that you can’t crank up past the recommended temperature to avoid the molecular changes turning fluids into cancer causers. Equally designing vape pens specifically that provide the wanted big plumes of vaper sans the current danger and in addition to all that going with the cheap puffer bar options lowering the price of known e-cigarette brands to compete unto eliminating the illegal market found in California and elsewhere across the country thus largely preventing the illness and death. Finding out how the UK and France regulated their vapes never having our problem and imitating that.
Instances transpiring around vaping and our national reaction bad news for progressives who advocate ending our war on drugs, they argue a decades long failed initiative filling our prisons, treating drug addiction, prior to the opioid crisis, like a character flaw not another facet of a health problem and generally ruining lives by legalizing, taxing and regulating all drugs in some available form; that would have hugely beneficial ripple effects internationally ending things like the Mexican drug war, the Latin American and elsewhere drug trade stabilizing countries in a way not seen in going on 50 years because the cartels, the drug gangs no longer have power, possess a stranglehold on duly elected governmental power. Added to our own dubious, blatantly racist history of both deciding which drugs to ban and which ones to allow long before there were pharmaceutical companies pulling the strings large or small; usually based on which immigrant population was consistently coming to the United States in a given decade whether it was the Chinese and fear of their opium dens projected impact on innocent, fragile white girls in particular, hatred of Mexicans and their marijuana well before the crackdown on ‘pot’, one of the slang terms for the natural substance, was an outgrowth of giving prohibition law enforcement, DEA workers something to do, a continuing job after its repeal according to Eric Schlosser’s book Refer Madness. Because while the theory is sound judging by countries a-la Amsterdam, Portugal who’ve had legalized substances for years and managed to remain functional countries, avoided their societies devolving into chaos, plus we have our own budding, largely positive experiences in states that have elected to legalize recreational marijuana, at the same time government still lags behind leaving it on the list of schedule one, the most rigorously controlled, carrying the stiffest legal penalties meaning jail or prison terms for both users and dealers, drugs at the federal level; they have the legalize then tax part down to a frankly terrifying science and don’t hesitate to regulate now legal dispensaries in such red tape it’s a wonder they ever open at all, unable to utilize banks because their product is illegal at the highest juncture of legislation and law enforcement. It obviously isn’t the type of regulation we need, not solving the relatively minor problems cropping up with the advent of legalization and slow decriminalization of other rethought about drugs, providing a blueprint for handling or eliminating given problems without going back to the substance dark ages where anything certain entities don’t agree with again becomes illegal. And do we want the FDA, that FDA, described above regulating what substances can and cannot be publicly distributed in terms of newly legalized drugs available in an over the counter situation; an FDA whose transgressions against the American public they were created and mandated to protect includes slow responses to food contaminant outbreaks, an antiquated paper tracking system that takes days to track them back to their source company, vegetable, fruit source if they can. Devastating illnesses even death of children and the elderly going unpunished, un-fined because they can’t provide evidentiary proof of said source, when they could fitting the all too recurring pattern, it was traced back to a farm that had been a repeated source of contamination in the past still permitted to operate, not shut down regardless the number and severity of violations. Presenting a double blow to progressives whose main mission is to bring America up to par with the rest of the westernized nations on the globe on the issues of healthcare namely a nationalized, single payer healthcare system that provides all but elective procedures free at the point of service, social safety net programs, sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, vacation time, as the face of work continues to shift toward automation edging out starter and other jobs, the pandemic forcing people to avoid work and stay at home preventing spread of the virus and overwhelming of hospitals experiments with UBI, an allotment of cash given to each citizen monthly from adulthood onward, made known and popular here by once presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Other countries forays into their own versions of UBI met with undeniable success quelling many of the fears here it would incentivize people not to work rather both here and abroad keeping people above a certain poverty level; when attempted in cities across America allowing people to pay off credit card debt, tackle student loans, one woman to fly to see her father she hadn’t seen in nearly 2 decades and a woman on social security to have the security of buying healthy food, making it a little easier to get by. Looking at generating a prepared workforce and pulling from what employment experts have been saying since the early 2000’s that the 4 year undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma coupled with the increasing employers demanding masters degrees held alongside the growing cost of that education, skyrocketing student debt graduates can never seem to pay back because the solid jobs promised are just not part of our economy anymore except in rare niche sectors, a call for free in state college for 2-4 years. Seeing the ever changing state of work Bernie Sanders presidential campaign gained immense popularity with the idea of a federal jobs guarantee providing job training and job opportunities to any American who wants to work, seeks to gain skills unto obtaining in demand jobs. And to this articles subject, criminal justice reform centered around for our purposes the freeing of all non-violent drug offenders the glut of our prison populations but especially those serving years long sentences, up to decades for miniscule amounts of personal marijuana possession both considering the positive research that has been amassed and the changing public opinion on the plant. A national push to retroactively release those serving sentences for marijuana in states, municipalities that have legalized its recreational use or decriminalized the amount someone was convicted for having; highlighting while a certain set of individuals are making money running now legal shops and dispensaries others are still languishing behind bars for doing something now legal, selling something, even in large quantities, now legal disproportionate disparity along color lines. Funny we should mention the penal system noting vaping has garnered a unique role inside select jails officials choosing to use it in managing inmate withdraw from other substances since they are taking people directly from the streets awaiting court dates, case adjudication, sentencing; beneficial not only in curbing miscellaneous drug withdraw or as a substitute for the cigarettes they were smoking on the outside, but also a bridge between them getting off other drugs long term to holding the possibility of quitting smoking upon sentence completion. Made possible by a jail guard looking to solve a problem he saw daily of agitated inmates coming down off a variety who knows what leading to erratic and hard to control behaviors for staff and behavior beyond the control of the incarcerated sans unavailable medical intervention, who fashioned his own e- cigarette with an outer casing that could not easily be whittled down into a shank (sharp object to injure self or others) and whose ignition couldn’t be used to start fires which the guard then turned into his own company and distributed the product to 33 jails now using it. But vaping has no positives whatsoever and should be banned to protect vulnerable, stubborn youth who can’t possibly understand what’s good for them; interesting since they were the ones telling news interviewers the vape detectors in school bathrooms were unlikely to be effective along with flavored vape bans, like the mother in the above paragraph, aware of the puffer bars and likely their local illegal market, and while they didn’t know anyone who had gone successfully from smoking to vaping to perhaps nothing and didn’t believe their parents to know anyone many of their teachers did, proving it serves its initial intended purpose. Vaping’s tragic trajectory in 2018 to 2020 has vast ramifications well beyond probable derailing of significant progressive agenda pieces and goes directly to the science, further quelling the secondary serious conversation we need to have in America about which drugs are to be considered illegal, tightly controlled, those that need to be sequestered for use in a hospital or clinic setting following the framework of kidney dialysis or chemotherapy administered by nurses on a hospital floor and which ones can to be limited to prescriptions given to patients on a temporary basis, people trusted to follow the dosing instructions on the label. And which ones can be relegated to an over the counter status with dosing instructions, side effects and warnings to stop taking if… otherwise left to the users’ discretion like Aspirin. Forming debate all due to the promising research into currently deemed illicit drugs used in clinical setting meaning in a doctor’s office or hospital like facility to treat severe PTSD, phantom limb pain in conjunction with traditional therapies weighed against side effects of both approved prescription drugs as well as over the counter offerings. Ketamine known on the street as special K and putting people in so called K holes of unresponsiveness has the proven capability to pull severely depressed patients back from the brink of suicide when no other medication made a significant dent in alleviating symptoms, making them safe enough to leave a psychiatric facility setting, acting as a bridge to keep patients alive long enough for more standard medications to work through their system and being to manage symptoms; like with much of what will be discussed here, is for short term use eliminating many of the dependency worries often brought up. MDMA the active ingredient in the street drug ecstasy showing promise for treating PTSD a veteran saying you don’t get panic attacks; even the long 6 to 8 hour sessions under the influence conducted for research purposes is potentially feasible because said treatments are needed much less often than traditional talk therapy alone done up to 3 times a week or pills usually taken daily; less drugs meaning less opportunity for side effects, there is always someone with the person during sessions and situations meticulously documented. The drug’s effect allowing vets to finally be able to talk about their traumatic experience and simultaneously achieve progress in dealing with it; nor is it long term, the time between the featured vet in video one about MDMA’s last suicide attempt and therapy completion was 16 months no more thoughts or attempts; results mirrored in other study participants showing 68% saw elimination of their PTSD and 32% saw huge reductions, but even if they had to take it consistently to keep their optimum mental health not only do we owe it to those who served their country we get much more functional citizens who can contribute to society and have good qualities of life absent all the negatives of self medicating and unregulated street drug use by providing a right, effective way to do it. Psilocybin better known to the lay populous as magic mushrooms may be the longest acting drug from a single dose yet to be found or so it seems for cancer patients who still saw reductions in their anxiety levels 5 years after being administered the drug; also proven through study to be safe for use as medicine for depression, while inducing documented effects associated with the drug hallucinations, synesthesia (crossing of senses allowing people to ‘smell sound) and a warped sense of time there were no negatives found in those who participated including a noted lack of withdraw symptoms often associated with traditional depression or other psychiatric medication as well as street drugs. LSD another infamous illegal drug from the war on drugs era has similar results to its name and researchers are starting to understand why and how, by changing brain activity and creating different pathways across previously broken networks in the brain caused by mental health disorders. Opening the question could it be a better alternative to current anti-psychotic and Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder medications that leave people with tardive dyskinesia uncontrollable muscle movements, ticks or shakes, could any of these, removing the sometimes debilitating side effects causing sufferers not to want to take their medication, stay on their medication potentially solving a repeat problem of those with the severest cases of mental health problems failing to stay on their medication because they don’t like the way it makes them feel, can interfere with creativity art, or writing capability? And yes the MDMA talk therapy combination is in a phase 3 clinical trial slated to be complete in 2021 yet many of the studies are happening outside the US and are agonizingly slow in getting human trial research approval from the FDA less because they are concerned about safety, the proper evidence being presented to take the chance on such a trial, even because they are in bed with so called big pharma (more on that later below) and chiefly because they don’t want to give up old paradigms about illicit drugs and their detrimental impact on society helped along by no shortage of conservative politicians who don’t believe in science, who routinely cut funding for it and research from the federal budget, the FDA, the CDC, government health agencies. In fact, true to unfortunate form, in more recent years is the FDA’s crackdown on Kratom another plant based natural substance used by some to enhance focus deemed illegal owing to a single digit number of deaths of persons who took Kratom and was also mixing it with other known to be much more harmful drugs at the time of death. An intriguing move since they are lock step in mindset with people who believe child behavioral disorders are made up despite the science, Kratom could easily be an alternative to stronger pharmaceuticals, the so called psychotropic drugs used to treat ADHD at least for the milder symptom sufferers; it at least deserves the study one would think they jump to initiate. And would be much less likely to be denigrated by subsets of the public as the cause of mass shootings thanks to powerful active ingredients altering still forming brains, independent shooters who were diagnosed with significant mental illness before their rampage or upon evaluation post capture, lastly examination of past behavior, when shooters did not survive, pointing to known mental illnesses for which they should have received help but often did not. Those shooters who had stopped taking their medication for conditions like depression, applicable to at least one college campus incident, the man whose girlfriend called to warn police before he ultimately shot a New York police officer in the head sitting in her police van he was acting erratically, wandering the neighborhood and off his medication, but apparently without an exact location there was little they could do. Everything written to this point underscoring before we clamor to legalize all drugs in a medicinal or publicly available form and in conjunction with fixing vaping we need to top down reform the FDA into an FDA that relies on science and rigorous study, an FDA that does what the American people already thinks it does in independently testing drugs and medical devices instead of what the class action lawsuit lawyer for the Ring of Fire, a The Young Turks Network independent media show, explained with a rudimentary sentence, that they don’t do such testing rather review the documents submitted by the manufactures and supposed independent testers, reviewers, materials often ghostwritten by past or present members of the company, doctors being paid in some facet by the company relying on equally ghostwritten articles in medical journals to make their decision without reviewing the medical records of patients taking the drug/using the devices, conducting interviews with them to get firsthand experiences good or bad from their medication/procedure, track case outcomes far enough into the future to determine its safety, to be abundantly clear about who should and should not have been prescribed medicine X, received procedure Y. Had they done that little bit, we already assume they are doing, they would have at the very least been able to strengthen the guidelines for which patients make the best candidates for spinal cord stimulators and which ones are off limits representing too great a risk to the function and mobility they already possess or give doctors a better understanding of how to be honest and realistic with their patient setting proportionate expectations. Recent years have brought mounting complaints about over the counter medicines, to vitamins and supplements people wrongly assume are monitored by the FDA, findings strongly suggesting they should be, that it is one of the numerous gaps in our food and drug oversight system, reports of cosmetic side effects have skyrocketed red flagging the need for more regulation of the beauty product industry considering it wasn’t until earlier this year they agreed to contemplate routine testing of cosmetics and talc products for asbestos, the latter doubtlessly brought on by the above mentioned Johnson & Johnson fiasco. Prompting utterly redundant phrasing in the reading by now, the question how is it possible that vitamins and more and more dubious herbal remedies have managed to escape the scrutiny of if not the FDA then some federal government oversight agency up until now, why are we well into the 21st century and still facing an argument about how and should we regulate beauty products, vitamin and herbal supplements? Pulling this back to vaping also found in the recreational marijuana market is proper labeling and communicating to the public how to understand that labeling; many adverse reactions landing people in the ER for pot consumption involve edibles and people who ate pot incorporated brownies, candy, gummies, had one saw no effect and kept adding them sometimes by the handful without waiting for it to kick in leading to a ‘sudden’ onset paranoid reaction freaking the user out, sending them rushing to the ER. It is a similar set up with digestive irritation reported by physicians of pot consumers instead of asking them what they were trying to achieve with the pot usage and being educated enough about the market to suggest they try X something else or just cut back the tone is always alarmed wariness like legalization was a mistake and the people they see are paying a deep price-hardly. Vaping is the same way, better labels can and should include mechanical mods hold enough fluid containing the nicotine in X number of individual cigarettes, puffer bars have the nicotine equivalent of Y cigarettes Juul, Blu and other name brand name e- cigarette cartridges contain the equivalent of Z cigarettes based on the size and type of cartridge because that is a metric both teens and adults can understand and process when it comes to their vape consumption owing to the fact people smoke cigarettes one at a time. Enabling people to say oh is that how much is in there then I don’t want to smoke all of it at once, I want the puffer bar to last 2 days or a week, correlate well no wonder I’m getting sick I was using so much more than I thought I was; things not taking place without the information given to potential users. Imagine if we had an FDA that could do that, that could look objectively at what needs to be done to make substances available to the public and insist on those guidelines instead of either ignoring the problem as they initially did with vaping or getting into interagency squabbles with entities like the DEA as it pertains to marijuana, recalcitrant mindsets that wouldn’t dare think about legalizing magic mushrooms or ecstasy, what do you mean Ketamine did this? Imagine they mandated the same child proof packaging for marijuana as they did for over the counter pain relievers, cough syrup, mimicking what they did with laundry pod plastic bags after children began mistaking it for candy including PSAs to the public warning of the danger, for various edibles keeping both kids and pets safe versus pointing to a relatively small number of incidents with no lasting damage, it might be added, and shouting see this is why legalization is bad? Imagine what would have happened or not happened if the FDA actually did what Americans assume it does and had paid proper attention to the vaping situation enough to see and shutdown the illegal market of dangerous vape counterfeits making vaping illness an exclusively American problem as detailed in the previous paragraph directly tied to absent regulators. Imagine vaping PSAs that remind users to check the legality of their vapes by going with known brands, a website or link on the FDA’s site containing a list of all known counterfeit vape names, brands, packaging, tips on how to tell if the social media presence or website for a brand is licensed or not. Why weren’t they front and center advising cities, states, municipalities to do this instead of blanket banning vaping of flavors thereof; citing credible studies on people’s behavior when faced with either action, which one was more likely to lead to the desired public action of people using only legal, safe vapes? For that matter until all lesser vape devices can be pulled off the market and replaced with better temperature controlled ones you can’t push past recommended levels a PSA explaining just as the lab tech did to the reporter why it’s a bad idea to do so, if known any safe way to produce those big puffs be it changing the brand of device, type of cartridge, tricks on how to use it to achieve solely that the way those who smoke marijuana learned from experienced users how to make and them utilize a bong. Instead we got a mad rush to ban vaping; instead we got blame big tobacco hooking our kids when they really had less to do with it than we think, ban flavors that are only attracting kids without a definitive answer on that either way.
Proving what blog and author have discussed repeatedly the abysmal job we do as a nation of educating the public well beyond a lack of pre-school availability, what is or isn’t taught in k-12 public school, private too for that matter, in science, history, math, social studies/government, but educating the public on threats and dangers effecting them from recalls of defective products to found unsafe drugs, be they by prescription or largely over the counter. Public service announcements about everything from date rape to child abuse, domestic violence, help for struggles with substance abuse, help for your troubled teen minimally effective; the fact we need a change in youth campaigns, safety initiatives to curb alcohol use, recreational drug use, addiction apart from the opioid crisis. Like the gaping holes in America’s approach to sexual education based in our puritanical religious roots and patriarchy’s control of the female body that preaches abstinence until marriage, covers only the most rudimentary definition of sex between a man and a woman, referencing only vaginal sex, leaving off experimentation trends in oral or anal sex popular among teens because it doesn’t lead to the peached against boogey man, dooms day scenario pregnancy, never or rarely mentioning LGBT youth issues or sexual abuse suffered by a growing number of people zero to 18 let alone as an adult; and every time forward minded school districts try to update sex education to the modern era, include things they know teens have encountered or will there is apoplectic pushback from parents about you intend to teach my kid what! On the other side are the schools in the south, in the so called ‘bible belt’ that instead of something as simple as letting the school nurse handle the sex ed. school assembly with permission to give inquiring students, who directly ask for it, when visiting the nurses office, information on where they can obtain birth control, the address/phone number of the local free or STD screening clinic in a place with both high STD and pregnancy rates apt to bring in biased guest speakers al-a Pam Stenzel to give rousing fire and brimstone talks heavy on the moralizing and light on fact. Chastising young people not to say they are a virgin if they’ve ever had any kind of oral sex, confusing teens saying their parents hate them if they’ve place them on birth control while trotting out worst case scenarios about products with lawsuits against them, none the standard pill given to teens sometimes to treat medical conditions not merely forestall pregnancy. Said approach ignoring any forethought the ‘don’t do it you’re a teenager’ mantra doesn’t tell them what things to consider, what steps to take when they are ready to have sex, birth control options when you want to enjoy sex but are not ready to shoulder the responsibility of children, when you’ve had the number of children you wish to have but still want to be sexually active with your husband, wife/partner. Extrapolated opinion backed up by a recent survey of women who confirm birth control kinds, types, how to use it, where to obtain it is still being by and large left out of sex talks either absent from sex ed. curriculums in school or missing from information given to girls by their mothers, female relative/role model taking on the task. Statistical evidence that if we were truly interested in preventing the twin problems of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases/infections we would teach teens about condoms, birth control and types of sex beyond what older adults would call conventional so they can at minimum be honest with their doctor and receive correspondingly appropriate treatment and testing, which overwhelmingly delays when teens choose to willingly have sex and drastically increases their use of safer sex practices. Since alcohol is legal and young persons will become legally eligible to drink between high school graduation and college graduation the idea needs to be an education course/campaign on high school and college campuses reaching past don’t drink your underage and will face legal jeopardy, don’t drink and drive also telling them about when you are old enough to drink, when you are tempted to join your underage peers here are facts you need to know to drink responsibly, why blog author supported at least the concept of the campus pamphlet female bodies and alcohol because pointing out the physiological differences between men and women in general and then when introduced to alcohol is pure fact not sexism or victim blaming when it comes to topics like rape. To drink responsibly as an adult they need to know the difference between beer, wine, mixed drinks and straight hard liquor, each effect you differently, whether you drink on an empty stomach or eat while drinking and how much you eat compared to how much you drink will impact how you feel, more importantly how fast you feel the effects and how impaired you become; drinking responsibly doesn’t mean the falling down drunk, stumbling around, throwing up described by one of the accused then convicted Steubenville teen rapists as routine, at parties he attended, if not normal. Who went on in the same interview to describe what he thought rape was equivalent of someone jumping out of an alley and attacking a girl/woman, forcing her to have sex; his words and their forthcoming conviction not an indictment of our so called ‘rape culture’ as much as an indictment of adults who won’t be honest and clear about what consent is/looks like, what sex is/all it can encompass, a full and complete picture of what rape is and real life scenarios where you have crossed the line, are open to both legal jeopardy and social retribution. Currently more woman are dying from alcohol use, the slightest amount of alcohol abuse because to this day we still don’t understand how deeply alcohol effects them differently than men, where it may take years for a man’s body to show signs of the substance disorder it can happen with women in a matter of months or a single year as the woman featured demonstrated; her explanation on the social acceptability of drinking specifically drinking to relax, relieve stress, as a coping mechanism lends further credence to the statements above on which one to ban vaping or alcohol, case that if anything it should be alcohol. Similarly with drugs, the message can no longer be all drugs are bad, all drugs are the same, stay away from any illicit drugs not only owing to increasing research indicating those statements aren’t true, if they ever were, the proliferation of access to the internet putting this information into young people’s hands as well as an unvarnished history of how certain drugs ended up on the illegal list and others didn’t with blatant racial and racist connotations to boot; if they have tried drugs , their friends, peers, classmates have tried drugs they know from experience, accounts of their social group’s experience the statements adults are peddling aren’t the truth therefore won’t listen to them. Better would be to provide them with guided information about drugs, the difference between pot, psychedelic ‘magic’ mushrooms and harder drugs like heroine, the latter being much more addictive upon a single use, why meth is both so dangerous and so addictive, what it is about Krokodil that leaves your limbs literally rotting off and the fact if you start taking it you are likely unable to stop, if you survive it will be missing from one to all of your limbs. Thus the measured, proportional, rational response, way to handle vaping is applying the same principles to vaping, the man in the parent testimonial video after paragraph 2 showing how companies and kids are getting around bans talks about the misleading nature of the 5% nicotine label tricking, especially young consumers, into believing it’s a small amount instead being more than 3 times what is permitted in the UK or the EU (though what the comparison has to do with the United States is unclear) and the equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes, one presumes in America, but the comment was left dangling; his rattling off of those numbers as if they are supposed to mean something also assumes a level of understanding about product labels that doesn’t exist, likely has never existed in youth or adults alike whether you think back to the mouthwash example or the single use vape pen you or your teen use. Further it bears repeating nicotine is not a carcinogen, was never the carcinogenic factor in cigarettes, doesn’t seem to damage the lungs if superheated by a vape device and if the nic-sickness fellow teens, adults are seeing in young vaper’s is withdrawn not poisoning, a subject up for scientific, medical, addiction specialist debate, you have a much lesser problem than the most anti-vaping alarmist person thinks. Returning to labels people usually don’t read in the first place and their indecipherability if they do it mimics the revamp of food labels under the Obama administration spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama to more accurately reflect how people consume food, a whole 12 oz. can or 20.oz. bottle of soda or juice deemed a serving size not stopping at the previous 8 oz., similarly a whole muffin, bagel or toaster pastry versus a half now deemed a serving size, snack size bags of chips popular in kids lunches, at least when we were young, deemed a complete serving not just X number of chips; calorie counts in much bigger print and an additional category titled added sugars all to get people eating healthier. Another one in the works is an overhaul of the food dating system for perishables especially; advocates for a remaking pointing to the confusion between use by dates, best by dates, sell by dates and so on leading to billions of dollars in annual food waste, painfully ironic when parts of the world don’t have enough and others here at home depend on food pantries. Our advocate for tobacco free kids sounding off on e- cigarette labeling firstly works for a plainly biased organization with a clear agenda whether or not you think it’s a good one, does not appear to be either a doctor or a marketing expert making his assessment of the situation next to useless. Secondly agreed to be put in Newsy interview footage alongside that woman talking about her son or did nothing to dispute the segments composition despite her son’s vaping began when he was a senior in high school meaning he could have already turned 18 legally an adult, not a kid, able to buy tobacco in most areas across the country; was at minimum 17 which across the board nationwide is an age where if suspected of a violent crime will immediately be charged as an adult, no debate, no hearing. Recall it was absolute sacrilege that the Steubenville defendants were kept in Juvenile court despite being 16 and considering the severity of their alleged crime, a sign to many of the oft talked about rape culture and how rape isn’t taken seriously when it involves athletes seen as gods by those in communities like Ohio’s. Average person particularly in a community of color, black or brown able to name case after case where young men, boys were tried as adults for much less, were tried and convicted, much later found innocent, think the Central Park 5, the tragic case of Cyntoia Brown who while she did commit the ‘crime’ of killing her pimp/john was underage and forced into prostitution by this person, at the time of both crime and trial was significantly delayed mentally and in terms of educational knowledge and may or may not have had noticeable mental health problems, plus only shot the man in fear for her life thinking when she did so he was going to kill her. Last we checked that was called self-defense or isn’t that what got George Zimmerman acquitted by a jury, the only reason Michael Dunn was ultimately convicted in the murder of Jordan Davis and the charges related to the other teens in Davis’ car when he didn’t like their ‘loud thug music,’ subsequently thought he saw a gun when he went to confront them ‘forcing him to shoot his permitted weapon’ is because of his unquestionably racist jailhouse writings among other things painting his cold blooded killing of Davis as a public service. But the featured teen can’t make his own decision on vaping, he needs to be protected like he’s several years younger than he is, who is it whose infantilizing who these days; nor does the president of the non-profit dedicated to tobacco free young people appear to fully comprehend that those young people do grow up and make decisions as adults we society and their parents might not agree with but cannot stop because they aren’t illegal and shouldn’t be, the practical cold hard truth you cannot legislate a person’s every move including vaping. Neither are the puffer bars now on the market offering flavors the thing that injured her son and she has no proof either way they could potentially injure teens/users the way her son was. Now maybe that is because they are so new and we have yet to see the effects of this new iteration to hit the populous of vapers out there, it could also be because it is an actual product made by legitimate manufactures thus it, in all probability, doesn’t have near the level of toxicity found in the counterfeit market, remembering it takes years of smoking to do lasting damage, vape damage happening in a fraction of that time, even the problematic things found in legal vapes could be absent because the industry has learned what the public will not tolerate and has adjusted accordingly; are either of them remotely sure exactly what it was he was vaping considering the prevalence of the illegal market and how little people know about distinguishing between them and legal products, probably not. Thirdly Mathew Meyers, president of the campaign for tobacco free kids, his ability to look good in a suit and speak articulately without really comprehending what he’s talking about, salt and pepper hair giving off an air of the distinguished again equally fails to understand how closely people do, or more aptly don’t, read labels on over the counter medications, products a-la mouth wash or vape pens, a bottle of Tylenol; at most they read the directions on how much to take, leaving off how small the print is, the reality many bottles are designed today with peal back labels to even reach instructions or the fact makers are required to put them there not make them easy to read, provide any context to what the numbers and percentages mean apart from dosing guides, skipping many of the warnings if they’ve taken it before, either pour an inarticulate amount of mouthwash into a paper cup or if living alone take a swig from the bottle, swish and spit as part of a morning or nightly routine ‘because who needs to read the label on how to use mouthwash I’ve been doing this since I was a kid.’ It probably took a cough syrup advertising that it is formulated not to do what so many do, raise blood pressure, fundamentally dangerous for people taking lifestyle and dietary precautions to control elevated blood pressure or actually medicated for high blood pressure, to look at the stuff in their medicine cabinet, how many people know that if you use something like Visine AC for your itchy allergy eyes, with the coming of spring, you should consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure, not many including the millions of Americans who have it and also utilize over the counter allergy eye drops. Tying this to how to deal with vaping, assuming his numbers are correct, an assumptive bet this blog wouldn’t readily take, oh if only there was someone to tell them or their parents that, easily publically available information bullet point style explaining that; build upon the truth PSAs on tobacco demonstrating the shrinking portion of the economy it represents, the shrinking number, until vaping, of smokers/users there were nationally, provide a visual comparison of the tobacco/nicotine in 1 cigarette versus the one time use vaping cartridge so teens and adults both understand. If only there were an agency that could pull the deceptive 5% nicotine products off the market and say to vape cartridge/one time use makers that the maximum you are allowed is that currently permitted in cigarettes (one time use, the amount of nicotine permitted in 1 cigarette) on the US market, if exported subject to applicable laws and guidelines in the receiving country; a sensible limited restriction that doesn’t involve a blanket ban of a product when used legally and responsibly as intended is relatively harmless. Why are the mechanical mods and such allowed that you can fill with an undefined, indiscriminant amount of liquid permitted instead of forcing them to be put in one dose, serving size at a time so people have a better idea how much they are using, how often to avoid the rare instance of nicotine poisoning? Extrapolating on the drug labels we already have, the ones desired for marijuana products if you want vape users, including teens, to stop essentially ODing on it mimic a bottle of aspirin that in addition to a laundry list of don’t take if’s, before taking consult a doctor if you also take Y prescription medication, if you have Z medical condition (s) the don’t exceed X number of pills in 24 hours; why can’t it say don’t exceed fill in the blank____ number of cartridges in 24 hours, why didn’t legal ones say that off the bat, a simplistic way to distinguish the 2 to boot. Aspirin still another by that logic case, when the medical community started to see a rash of insaid (active ingredient pain reliever) overdoses particularly in senior citizens usually coming from mixing over the counter and prescription pain relief they didn’t rush to yank it off the market for consumer use rather pushed to clarify the label to include the medical as well as brand name so that the public became informed lessoning the problem. A situation likewise demonstrated with marijuana and the subsequent issues legalizing areas suddenly find themselves dealing with from an increase in motor vehicle crashes and deaths, to children ending up in ER’s having gotten into their parents edibles, veterinarians seeing a parallel issue with people and their pets, usually cat or dog having done the identical thing; except unlike the latter the former as a commenter on the CBS This Morning segment pointed out there are too many variables that need to be considered but were left out, the interviewed officer said it himself that the drivers he pulls over have mixed marijuana with booze or other drugs, following thought being so how do you know definitively it was the marijuana that caused the impairment or the bulk of it and not either the mixture of it with other things or the other substances involved depending which others were involved and how much of each were involved. Short answer you don’t, and just like our tobacco free kids anti-vaping non-profit president missed the news segment also missed the key to stopping this is education framed similar to the Washington state PSA telling people when they aren’t stoned and when they can fully process the information not to smoke one or more joints, eat half bag of edibles then immediately jump behind the wheel, not to mix marijuana and other things then get behind the wheel mystified as to why you got pulled over; how many prescription medication advertisement tell potential users not to drive or operate machinery until you know how it will affect you, why can’t we say the same thing regarding marijuana aimed particularly at new users who don’t yet know what they are doing. To do what progressives suggest once legalizing drugs, as part of regulation proper labeling of products we see failing now with marijuana derivatives like edibles refer back to paragraph 3 and the dosing instruction like label parameters, outlined advice on the package that when consuming edibles wait so long between eating them to feel the effects the same way we would expect it to take around 30 minutes after taking aspirin for it to start providing relief and wouldn’t keep taking more pills by the mouth full no less until we felt something. Not to put anymore regulations on dispensaries but ensuring they inform blatantly novice and first time users how to consume their purchased products safely. Marijuana use linked to heart problems such was the title of the news segment but the man profiled was African American a race/ethnicity known for increased heart problems and also occasionally smoked regular cigarettes making it unclear which one, the pot or the standard tobacco, that might have led to his heart issue, nothing mentioned either about his family history if he knew it in part or completely on both sides of his family; the broader point of the story was marijuana use in places now legal to consume recreational pot interfering with prescription medications for blood pressure, cholesterol spelling out the onus is now on researchers to find which market blood pressure, cholesterol and other medicines don’t interact with marijuana, advise doctors and produce labels that say don’t take with marijuana. Reiterating to the public the vital importance of being open and honest with your doctor that you do consume marijuana products and in what form, how often and how much so they can make the best medical decisions for you based on complete information; doctors to reassure patients that it’s legal but you need to know what they are taking all that they are taking. Even where it isn’t yet legal adopting a policy as long as you don’t bring illicit substances to your appointment if you tell me you use something I’m not going to turn you into the police merely explain the danger, offer you treatment prompting the necessary honesty; funny what we all thought we had with our physicians. Not to mention advising patients with certain conditions not to smoke pot including those with heart problems particularly if they are to the point of requiring medication for it, the same way those with asthma as a rule shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, marijuana or vape due to their underlying condition; again funny the personalized, individual care we thought we were getting from our doctors, the general pillar guidelines almost no one finds controversial. Worth questioning too are the cited study findings indicating that marijuana use increases blood pressure and heart rate, alters heart muscle and adds to your chances or arrhythmias (developing irregular heartbeats) when marijuana has never been classified as a stimulant rather a system depressant and at best it seems which broad category it belongs in depends on the strain the person is smoking so do those experiencing listed problems need to change what type they are smoking, is that what led to the profiled man’s heart attack? Does age also play a role in all this because the man was 55 at the time he had his attack yet the segment talks about weed’s possible involvement as if he were maximum 35; do we need new, developed guidelines specifically for middle age and older adults pertaining to pot consumption, perhaps advising lower consumption as you age switching the type you use as you get older to avoid the adverse effects laid out in the study cited by the news, and wouldn’t it be nice if government entities would take the shackles off just this kind of research?
Vaping is not the enemy, marketing is not the enemy shortsighted, one dimensional thinking is, vaping is not the enemy, problem solving that doesn’t just bend toward authoritarian exclusion but wades right into the midst of it is, from thinking we can raise better kids bringing back corporal punishment despite 50 plus years of research review demonstrating how bad it is on a child developmentally, up to the point of literally shrinking the amount of brain volume they have directly proportionate to how much they were spanked; simultaneously reducing the number of synapses, neuro connections in their brains all for better self-control they will never achieve due to the cataloged reductions, but yay spanking. And ‘of course’ being sure they never watch TV, play video games, have a smart phone until age 18/while under your roof independent they should learn to manage devices and time at home in a place phycologists have long said should equally be a comfortable place to fail; that total exclusion of everything from foods to technology leads to distorted habits in adulthood weather it’s soda for breakfast or flunking your first semester of college being inundated with all these new fun, exciting things and no foundation for management, but the technology is what’s bad, not adult approaches to it, the bad habits they pass to their offspring. Authoritarian exclusion that thought banning the big gulp was a way to combat obesity or carding kids for soda, into their teens mind you, was a way to ensure their health, curb their sugar intake; thankfully the last one was never even attempted and the former was, as mentioned, ultimately struck down by a judge. The idea posting calorie counts on restaurant foods was going to what, put ‘the fast food joints on every corner’ out of business, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of human behavior; food restriction ideas perpetuated by doctors who began calling the increased rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, certain cancers lifestyle related illnesses in a misguided and ultimately backfiring effort to get people to eat less fast food, lose the fried chicken and exercise more. Despite the things not known about even today, why for instance it’s harder for people now, going back as far as the late 90’s and early 2000’s to lose weight than it was for those in the 80’s to maintain weight control eating the same amounts of food categories i.e. protein, fats, vegetables; investigations of shows like the Biggest Loser, created and popular to feed the decade’s new found health obsession, shockingly finding out why contestants often gained back all their weight and more among other scandals resulting in the original ranch’s shutdown; uncovered, doctors for the show were aware their methodology could result in damaging slowing of their metabolism but hoped it wouldn’t be as pronounced as projected and ultimately manifested, essentially using them as guinea pigs. For all the decrying of the current generation as lazy, unmotivated and useless in many past metric respects catalog who it is who plainly doesn’t want to do the work, to give people as much freedom as possible in what is supposed to be a democratic society. People, parents who would rather whop their kid(s) ass than spend a moment or 5 trying to understand why their kid is acting out, did the thing that they did, listen to what happened at school and realize they were merely defending themselves against fellow classmates or bad teachers either one, who go into social media comment forums and advertise they choose spanking over privilege removal/restriction as punishment because the latter makes them feel like prison wardens, as opposed to barbarians in the former instance one might ask, to say nothing of it isn’t about you; we probably all remember the Facebook posted beating of Demecio Powell and his mother who dared someone to call social services, they did and after seeing the video her, the family friend and her boyfriend were all arrested for their participation in the plainly seen abuse. Football player Adrian Peterson who made headlines after graphic photos and descriptions showed the whooping he gave his son with a switch from a tree, marks seen nearly a week later including on his genitals, leaves shoved into his mouth, testimony to child advocates ‘daddy Peterson hit him on his face’ keeping in mind his son was 4 and was being ‘disciplined’ for shoving his sibling over a videogame; MSNBC guest Goldie Taylor recounting her childhood experience with the uncle who raised her, the corporal punishment she received at school, from a neighbor then her guardian all for the ‘crime’ of forgetting to turn in her homework, blatant overkill, back when we had a ‘better’ society. People society wide who still believe the ‘alphabet soup of disorders’ regarding child behavior, chief among them ADHD, is a made up excuse for bad, weak, wussy parenting, never mind the brain scans everyone is willing to believe when it shows addiction to bad for you foods, video games likewise show smaller than normal regions of the brain of those determined to have ADHD explaining medically, neurologically the seen behavior, predictably the larger the abnormality the more drastic the behaviors. The medical/scientific fact that intermittent explosive disorder is most closely associated with brain injuries incurred in car accidents possibly happening in utero or during birth for children suffering no other known head trauma, blog and author who has quoted the gym teacher noting that when he removed kids from the social structure, social demands of the classroom and let them engage in physical activity ODD symptoms go away supporting his conclusion it is an offshoot of autism and should be treated as such; forget those holding similar mindsets used to say the same thing about Tourette syndrome which is a neurological disorder, who thought the same thing when it came to placing dunce caps on kids or making them stand in the corner to try to motivate them to learn better, apply themselves because they firmly believe it was all the children were lacking, not a myriad of learning disabilities experts have identified and provided parameters to manage so students can learn in spite of their diagnosis. Blog followers will remember the ½ to 2/3 of one southern state prison who when screened were discovered to have dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by letters looking backwards, upside down or jumping all over the place on the page which understandably makes reading and math difficult because they transpose letters and numbers; identified inmates who while they knew they couldn’t read well, had a horrific time in school, suffering the self esteem consequences leading to the statistically predictable life of crime and subsequent incarceration, had never been screened in school, had never received any substantial help to try and improve their reading/math skill even absent a specific diagnosis, what the advocate who went into the prison was pushing for in their state, nationwide on a legislative level. Go back a few short years and how many thought epilepsy and brain tumors that cause seizures was demon possession, current religious zealots, yes in America, who believe the same about autism to the point of literally poisoning their kids with so called cures off the internet largely consisting of scarcely diluted chlorine bleach, look at the people buying the hocked silver products purported to cure COVID 19. Reread parts of the previous paragraph about the education campaigns that were slow to come in the wake of legalizing marijuana reminding people not to smoke, eat, consume it and then immediately drive, the preparation and training that wasn’t given to law enforcement to correctly identify weed users impaired enough to be pulled over and ticketed for DUI; ignored entirely that regular marijuana users behind the wheel are far safer than those who have consumed too much alcohol, Colorado the first legalizing state to provide a course on marijuana to teens giving them the education about the substance they need to stave off the comparatively minor problems resulting from legalization. The unmistakable truth said law enforcement officers would much rather be able to breathalyzer people for weed, any drug, altering substances the way they do alcohol and say oh you have X in your system, that’s illegal and slap the cuffs on you, say you have this much weed, alcohol in your system, that’s over the legal limit and slap the cuffs on you. Except neither marijuana nor vaping work like that, regular users of weed are less of a threat behind the wheel than occasional and new users are, which if they were smart would be their targeted focus for PSA’s and effective educational campaigns, moreover the biggest problem for cities, municipalities is they don’t have a plan to deal with the specific issue, officers or leaders uninterested in creatively coming up with any that ensure safety while maintaining freedom; too busy either shouting the debunked line marijuana is a gateway drug or calling vaping this generations ‘gateway dug’ and they’ll be doing the talked about gray death next, which is proven myth, at least on the latter’s count seeing as all anecdotal evidence says teens who vape stick to that, not gravitating to so called harder drugs. Mindsets prevailing throughout society because we would rather do 2 things pick the path of least resistance at all the wrong times and choose moralizing issues over solving problems from the sex ed. examples to vaping; speaking of a simple plan, if you get a DUI for marijuana/any newly legalized drug part of your sentence, a first offense diversion where there were no injuries, should be an education course on whatever that drug is, best practices when consuming it, best research, scientific based estimates about when, how long after consumption you can drive and do so safely. The underlying why we have an opioid crisis isn’t just big pharma who were lying to doctors about its addictive properties, who were pumping more pills into select communities than there were residents, doctors like Lisa Tseng who kept supplying addicts with prescriptions to the point they were stumbling into pharmacies clearly high, beyond impaired with orders for more pills, the despair deaths devastating the rust belt from the drug because they feel they have no future in their community, no resources to move, are too old to start over in life, it’s that we are abysmal at dealing with pain from a medical perspective of basics like taking it seriously. Especially if you are a person of color, happen to be black or Latino, managing the chronic variety in a meaningful way to give sufferers of slipped, bulging and crushed disks in their back or neck a measure of relief forget a quality of life; Prince who died from ODing on opiates suffered relentless pain after a double hip replacement post years of platform shoes and intense dancing in both rehearsals and performance fueling the article asserting he didn’t die of drugs rather pain. Oh and, while we’re on the subject of opioids, that Kratom the FDA is so absolutely bent on making illegal because it caused a handful of deaths when mixed with other drugs at the time of said deaths, is also a popular means for people to wean themselves off opioids; so, for all the FDA knows, what miniscule investigation they likely did, if any independently, those people died not only from the other drugs they consumed but from the consequences of medically unsupervised opioid withdraw probably similar to alcohol DT’s, self detox that can be lethal if not medically monitored. But funding for treatment beds in the middle of an opioid epidemic, that’s a hard no by people who still want to apply concepts like tough love and boot straps, call it a character flaw despite the surgeon general in 2016 who said the exact opposite looking at both new research and the origins of the opioid crisis in America. Secondarily one of the overarching reasons marijuana has remained illegal, a schedule one, most tightly controlled drug is we would rather moralize situations according to puritanical religious value systems a majority find antiquated and inapplicable to today’s dilemmas, than do what the science and practical trial and error says works to eliminate or mitigate a problem; while saying we don’t have enough research to render a definitive scientific answer on marijuana, politicians who use that as an excuse to say they can’t support national legalization. Yet if they were serious about getting research driven answers to inform their decision they would fight to have it removed from the schedule one list exactly so said research can take place blocked by its status; in fact the DEA has said it would review applications for marijuana grow sites dedicated to research but applications have been submitted since 2016 and have seen no movement on their cases. Needle exchange for IV drug users for the benefit of the rest of the public when said users don’t spread their HVI, hepatitis C to both fellow drug users and non-users alike because communicable diseases don’t care about your moral standing in a community, your perceived moral superiority just where it can spread, which is what happened in Mike Pence’s Indiana when he instead wanted to pray on the concept before signing documents for the exchange, delay infecting several dozen; especially asinine thinking in the wake of an opioid epidemic where people received a legitimate short term opiate painkiller prescription post wisdom teeth removal, sports injury surgery, on the job injury and 2-3 doses in they are addicted without even knowing it, then once they can no longer get it from their doctor pushed to the cheap street drug heroine. The same often called Christian fundamentalist Mike Pence who has now been named to head America’s corona virus response as it fast becomes a global pandemic which has unfolded about like astute persons thought it would, an unmitigated disaster when A –paired with Donald Trump’s regularly on display stupidity and B- considering Pence’s own denial of science coupled with his equal adherence to boost strap metaphors. Returning briefly to the needle exchange concept and its benefits for curtailing disease amongst a population least apt to know if they have something because they are illicit drug users and often homeless, couch hopping and low cost, free testing to such marginalized persons as laughable to policy makers as the idea of a needle exchange illustrating all the more reason to have it; keenly relevant when directives from the CDC advise every American adult to be screened for hepatitis C in part due to the opioid crisis and baby boomers who may or may not have received a blood transfusion before 1950 and screening for the disease in donated blood. Needle exchanges wildly successful at both curbing disease and retuning functional citizens to society evidenced when one such facility began operation and it saw 200 people show up to use the designated safe injection site in a single community alone, imagine what would happen if implemented nationwide, dare we dream globally; further willing to accept an opportunity for offered help/treatment, indicating ideally they won’t be using a safe site or drugs again, emphasis on taking the help not just a clean needle to shoot poison into their body. Who remembers the manifestation of prostitution statute in Arizona basically making it against the law to dress and act like a ‘prostitute’ according to the definition of local busy bodies, namely a church organization who partnered with law enforcement to enact the modern day version of civilizing the heathen more than actually curtailing prostitution, the concerns generated from it. Or heaven forbid legalizing sex work so that there are clear rules and parameters for all involved including regular testing and safe practices like birth control and mandatory use of condoms for clients and workers; disputes over money, payment and services rendered are settled in a court of law not in the streets so pimps or human traffickers A don’t use force to put those underage into a life that is difficult to escape and B they don’t confiscate the passport/I.D. of legitimate of age worker and all their money trapping them essentially into sexual slavery. In the instance of Arizona harassing and forcing into a religious diversion programs trans people who were not prostitutes, were not selling their bodies in any fashion for money, gifts or favors rather being their authentic selves dressed as the women they feel themselves to be and making sure no one mistook them for anything else, expressing at worst their gender fluidity in visible form, as if the religious community has ever been tolerant of LGBT persons or issues. Case against the most prominent face of the new ordinance eventually thrown out on technical grounds vacating her conviction but leaving her having to fight to get the original phony charges expunged, public information on the fate of the law not found however the states habit of LGBT discrimination ongoing as in 2019 their supreme court greenlit the right for businesses to deny services to LGBT persons calling it of all things free speech. Arizona hardly alone then or now just one of a litany of states who have nothing better to do apparently than harass LGBT persons, in fact in 2016 it was the battle of the bible thumpers, as salon.com aptly named it, seeing them try to pass so called religious freedom legislation that would not only permit rampant discrimination of LGBT persons by businesses, employers, landlords on religious grounds but in Mississippi might force women to wear makeup if their boss tells them to in order to present themselves as feminine enough for their employers religious compunctions. The whole bathroom bill debate about who can pee where as it pertains to public toilets stemmed from North Carolina’s legislators not wanting to expand LGBT anti-discrimination statutes statewide versus the individual towns, municipalities that had adopted such anti-discrimination language into their local laws; and we all know how that turned out, the governor lost his reelection bid and the most controversial parts of the law were repealed along with dozens of venues and construction bids, business ventures refusing to continue scheduled projects in the state, additionally when other states tried to follow in North Carolina’s footsteps they were met with largely similar backlash. Likewise all of no one has likely forgotten so called sodomy/crimes against nature laws targeting teens originally because of language in state laws saying it didn’t apply to minors as well as narrow definitions of rape not specifying what to do about non-traditional forms of sex leading to stories mirroring the proceeding from 2011. “Being forced to register as a sex offender can have devastating, life-long consequences for those who are charged under “crime against nature” laws. Ian Doe, a Louisiana resident who was kicked out of his house at age 13 for being gay and turned to sex work in order to survive, explained how being labeled a sex offender has undermined his ability to find a job and secure medical care DOE: And because of this charge, I can’t get a decent job now. I can’t do anything because of the charge … I’ve been everywhere trying to get employment. I’ve been — the minute they find out that I’m a sex offender or I’m a registered sex offender, they tell me “no thank you” or they’ll call me back or they’ll get back with me, and they never do. … I don’t believe that I deserve this kind of — this kind of punishment. I did four years in prison for this. While I was in prison for this crime, for this crime that I didn’t even do that –all I said was “fifty dollars,” and they put me away for four years. And while I was in there, I was raped by an officer, a federal officer of the law that worked at the prison who was dealt with. I also was infected with HIV. I go into prison, and I get infected, and while — and now I’m out here dealing with my health. I’m dealing with trying to get a job. … I don’t believe I deserve to be punished like this. I believe that this should be changed for many reasons. But for one, we don’t deserve this. I mean, it’s because all the lack of a judgment of one police officer to do something, so if he wants to put a prostitution charge or if he wants to put a “crimes against nature” charge on you. There’s no crime committed.” It’s right there in his testimony where he got his HIV not from prostitution, not from willing homosexual sex, but from rape in prison, again not from a fellow inmate but from a guard who should have been charged and prosecuted for not only the brutal crime of rape but the abuse of power from his position of authority over the imprisoned who not only are people too but hearing Doe’s account he was innocent of the alleged prostitution he was serving time for, arresting officer having heard him utter the phrase $50 and assumed because he was openly gay or was known for prior solicitation, having been kicked out of his house for his sexual orientation, he was engaged in prostitution at that given moment, that part unclear. Adding insult to injury they wanted to put him on the sex offender registry not because he was underage at the time and prosecutors had a similar reaction to him as they did to teens willingly sexting pictures of themselves, not because he was over age and the ‘client’ he was with was knowingly underage, he was trying recruit anyone into prostitution, let alone underage, was acting as a pimp for other prostitutes and all the abuse that implies, he committed rape or any sexually sadistic crime on a person underage or otherwise, no simply for the unconventional sex they thought he was having. As if gay persons are the only human beings who enjoy the presumed anal sex, forget the number of women who according to surveys admit to liking that type of sex or the deeper feeling greater sensation of the sex position commonly called doggy style or the anti-gay conservative politicians who’ve been caught with gay prostitutes, soliciting sex acts in men’s rooms, but blog and author digress; interesting is they had time to try and put now HIV positive Doe on the sex offender registry but seemed to do nothing about Doe’s parents’ child abandonment when they threw him out of their house at 13 for nothing other than his stated sexual orientation which could be little more than questioning curiosity at that age forcing him into sex work at all to survive. In light of COVID 19 Louisiana might have wanted to spend their time focusing on the physical health of their citizens curbing habits like cigarette smoking, underscoring the need to make vaping as safe as possible seeing as they quickly became a hotspot for the virus and associated deaths as much because of Mardi Gras as underlying health conditions making it deadlier on the state than anywhere else in the country currently especially in communities of color there known for a host of underlying health issues, but until February this year vaping was the scourge on everyone’s mind.