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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Cognitive and political liberty are interdependent. Cognitive liberty is safeguarded by the policies and rights constructed by the political process; whilst the freedom to political thought and expression are themselves, fundamentally, cognitive liberties.

The use of psychedelics had an integral connection to political thought. This is evidenced by well documented political associations of the LSD using community of the 1960s and 1970s. During this period the community, certainly in The United States and in Europe clearly leaned towards libertarian, egalitarian, and pacifist positions. Was this political leaning merely the result of dangerous and irrational mind-addling with LSD, or do the political viewpoints arrived at from psychedelic experience still carry legitimacy?

The ‘Occupy Movement’ movement has a few focusses: there is a large throng of anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist protesters, there are many who are focussed on the corrupt machinations of the banking industry, and there are those who protest against the vast inequalities that mire our society and the planet.

Each of these issues, whilst explicitly political and economic, also relate to cognitive liberty as a concept. The military-industrial-consumer-capitialist system permeates every facet of our lives; we are born and raised in front of television adverts, sold the same music, given the same economy-focussed education. The laws we live by are moulded by economic necessity, shaped to make profit for some at the cost of the 99%. At birth we are given a number.

The vast inequalities in our society also bare significance for the issue of cognitive liberty. Wealth affects the education you receive, the jobs you end up working your life away with; wealth affects the range of experiences you have access to. A rich retired banker has a lot of freedom to go and do as he pleases, he is free to have a comfortable existence wherever he wants on the globe: whilst millions strive in abject poverty, their minds dedicated mainly to feeding themselves and surviving. It stands to reason that if the wealth were more fairly distributed in the UK and America it would, quite simply, empower a greater number of people, and their cognitive liberty with it.

Now let’s look at some quick facts about wealth inequality:

It really doesn’t take a genius to realise that redistribution of such densely hoarded wealth would, in simple utilitarian concerns, cause a greater good for a greater number of people. The world is rife with famine, war and disease: wouldn’t it do more good if the billionaire’s yacht money went to ending them?

Revolution is as old as civilization. Thousands of years of civilization are marked by ocassional class uprisings, they are typically followed by massacres (See ‘A People’s History of the World’). Where revolutions have succeeded, rarely has the underclass been well-educated enough to rule. The current movement is thus significant since it occurs in countries with a highly educated (by historical standards) population. Further, this revolution is unique in its context within a technologically highly-networked society: the Occupy Movement is already a global phenomenon.

What surprises us, as it may have surprised you, is how little the Occupy Movement is being discussed by the mainstream media. This despite both the popular support for the movement, and the clear significance of what it represents. Since the mass-media has such a clear link to the minds of the population that are subject to it, cognitive liberty issues lurk in the background.

What is also interesting is that the sheer silence on the issue from the established political elite. Not Cameron, Clegg or Obama has been asked a single question on the issue; none of them have said a word. What does this silence represent? Are you really living in a democracy?

Cognitive Liberty UK would like to express gratitude for all the brave men, women and children who have supported The Occupy Movement and hope the endeavor will continue to have good-consequences.

On the 14th of September 2011, the Houses of Parliament saw a different kind of visitor, most of whom had probably broken a law – in the last 24 hours. It is fighting against this very law that brought us all together. I was proud to be in the heart of Westminster in the Jubilee Room when the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit’s study Taxing the UK Cannabis Market, commissioned by Clear, was released.

The IDMU were commissioned by Clear to investigate the current size of the UK cannabis market in order to estimate potential tax revenue if cannabis was to be regulated. This is of tremendous importance in current times, with the recession affecting almost every aspect of public spending, never has there a time when the British Government more needs the money that a regulated cannabis market could bring.

The Jubilee room was full and bustling with Medical patients and Recreational users alike, when Peter Reynolds, Leader of Clear, took to the floor. He was followed by Matthew Atha of the IDMU, then Paul Flynn MP – who I must take this opportunity to thank, without him we would never have had the opportunity to release the report in such an austere setting! He was followed by Dr Susan Blackmore and then finally by Jim Duffy from LEAP UK- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

I won’t go into detail over what they all said, as you can see the video for yourselves on Youtube, I would fully recommend watching it, and seeing for yourselves how ground-breaking this particular press conference was. For those of you who haven’t heard about Clear, we are Britain’s newest political party, Clear is the only political party dedicated to ending the prohibition of cannabis.  We aim to shed more light on the truth about the ridiculous policy of prohibition.

Cannabis gives hope to thousands of sick people who need it as medicine, but let us quickly come back to the reason we were all gathered in a building from where vast areas of the known world were governed. The Report came to the conclusion that if Cannabis were to be regulated an average 6.7 billion pounds could be injected into the empty coffers of our struggling economy. A boost which I personally think is vital to saving many essential services in the UK.

Never before has there been a better time to show the government just how much money they are literally throwing down the drain. Cannabis is known to have been used for over 5000 years by humans, it is my opinion, one which I share with many experts globally; that it’s about time things got back to the way they are supposed to be.

Please join Clear today and help end the Prohibition of Cannabis in the UK. 

Sign a petition to make MP’s discuss the issue here.

Article written by Clark French

No drug that has been made illegal in the UK has EVER been decriminalised. Consequently, a massive part of the fight to maintain cognitive liberty is preventing new chemicals being added to the list of controlled substances.

Legal highs currently include a whole range of wonderful entheogens, alongside this is an ever-expanding range of new chemicals allowing experiences that previous generation simply had no access to. In many ways, this is a golden age: any psychonaut can order shamanic herbs, witch potions, or the latest scientific breakthroughs from the four corners of the earth with a view to exploring and expanding their mind.

In 2010 we saw mephedrone get banned, we can blame the government and the media, but in truth it was the then-users of mephedrone who share much of the responsibility. This article discusses what we can do to stop currently legal drugs being made illegal.

1) Keep it on the down and low

If you find a drug or entheogen you like, there’s no need to scream and shout about it. If you set a drug up as ‘a big deal’ then the establishment will treat it as a big deal. If you find a drug you like, tell your friends about it, but under no circumstances tell the police, members of the news-media, or any other people in positions of authority about it. Basically, there’s a witch-hunt going on, and you are the witch! Act accordingly.

2) Use responsibly

It was irresponsible use of mephedrone that lead to it entering the public sphere. Don’t mix legal highs with dangerous drugs like alcohol: alcohol is always a recipe for disaster and when things go wrong it will be the legal high that gets pounced on by the media. Don’t give your legal highs to friends who are already drunk, or to friends who wont be able to handle them. Research legal highs thoroughly before use, many of them aren’t party drugs so don’t use them as party drugs!

3) Sell it Responsibly

If you sell legal highs, do your best to keep them out of the hands of people under 18. The media like nothing more than to write a story on some kid getting messed up by a chemical; playing on the fears of their parent-readership is how they make their living. It is because most voters are parents that the laws end up being paternalistic.

3) Keep it out of the media

When it comes to keeping drugs legal: no news is definitely good news. Politicians are eager to make a name for themselves by looking hard on drugs to win over voters: any drug that enters the media will become target to such political opportunism. Refuse to talk to the media about any bad drug experiences, disrupt the process of fear-generation. Make sure currently legal drugs do not become embroiled in any scandals, deaths etc. If you work in the media, do your best to keep new drugs out of the spotlight, if they are forced into the public domain, represent them fairly instead of emphasising only the risks.

4) Fight Proposed Changes

When new drugs do enter the media spotlight, when politicians start to think there is a career-furthering opportunity to look tough on drugs, that is precisely when voices need to be heard objecting to new laws. In recent years our friends in America have successfully fought to keep Salvia Divinorum legal, if it weren’t for their hard work it is likely that Salvia would be illegal in the UK right now.

5) Damage Limitation

Legal highs may have risks, just like all human activities. Since we know there’s a massive double-standard that gets applied when things go wrong and chemicals are involved: it’s better to downplay negative consequences than to make a big deal out of them. If you have a bad time, just shut up and don’t do it again –  don’t ruin it for every one else!

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In the name of cognitive liberty each of us has a duty to protect the freedom of all other citizens in the UK. Understanding the political and media processes that lead to drug-banning is vital if you wish to keep your favourite legal high legal.

“The Home Office has quickly rejected a call from the government’s official drug advisers to decriminalise the personal possession of all illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has said it would be better if the tens of thousands of people caught with illicit drugs were sent on drug education and awareness courses rather than punished with fines and other penalties, up to imprisonment.

The call by the ACMD made earlier this summer echoes the vote by the Liberal Democrat conference to endorse a similar decriminalisation approach to personal possession. Portugal became the first European country in 2001 to replace criminal penalties for possession with administrative fines, similar to parking tickets, combined with treatment and education courses.”

Source – The Guardian

The Home Office mandate is to create a safe, just and fair society. Clearly laws the punish individuals for committing no moral wrong, using them as examples to try to deter others (an approach that obviously isn’t working) in the name of a social engineering project, is not just. It is not fair to that individual, nor is it fair to the wider population to use the criminal justice system to bully them out of exercising their God-given right to cognitive liberty. As for safety they say:

“We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.”

News flash: heroin and crack are already destroying lives, their criminal status contributes to the problem by pushing supplies underground, and making usage more dangerous than it needs to be, and making criminals rich in the process. Decriminalisation has been shown to reduce use in Portugal.

The Home Office continues to ignore >the clear evidence< that some drugs are less harmful than tobacco and alcohol and that some drugs (LSD for example) pose minimal risk. The fact is that drug laws fail to deter use; through their application the laws themselves “destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities”.

The home office fail to acknowledge the many benefits that come from using some of the drugs currently banned.

If drug laws are about protecting people from harm, why don’t they cohere with scientific evaluation of drug-harms?

“Those caught in the cycle of dependency must be supported to live drug-free lives, but giving people a green light to possess drugs through decriminalisation is clearly not the answer.”

Psychedelics do not cause dependency. In fact, LSD therapy can be used to treat drug (alcohol) dependency. Those who fall victim to the drugs that do cause dependency are clearly not given the treatment they need in prisons they simply have their lives derailed by being punished for having done nothing morally wrong. Drug addicts are pushed away from treatment by the current system.

“We are taking action through tough enforcement, both inland and abroad, alongside introducing temporary banning powers and robust treatment programmes that lead people into drug-free recovery.”

Good for you. Well done for continuing to enforce a strategy that clearly doesn’t work. You are paternalistic fascists who have no regard for the liberties of the people you claim to be serving. Putting recreational drug users in prison and miring their employment prospects with criminal records is clearly a great way to make them tax-paying citizens, it’s a great way to help them. (end slow clap)

The Home Office is stuck in the past. It is locked in by politics and self-interest so that it cannot take a fresh perspective on the issue: it is forced to regurgitate the increasingly unconvincing misinformation and propaganda that governments have been spewing out since the 60s. Your policies are not working: drug use continues, you cannot take people’s cognitive liberty away no matter how hard you try.

It is so obvious that the Home Office are too blinkered to see the double-standards underpinning their attitude towards drug policy. It is a double standard because they wouldn’t dream of criminalising mountain-climbing, horse-riding or other high risk activities, even if they carry a greater risk than certain drugs. People wouldn’t settle for having their freedom taken away and yet, blinded by fear and misinformation, people take it as a given that the government should deprive them of their most fundamental freedom, the freedom of sovereignty over their own mind.

Once again, the basic issue of cognitive freedom hasn’t been mentioned by The Home Office or the mainstream media.

How many people are making their livings by prosecuting and locking up people who have committed no moral wrong? Are politicians doing what is right, or what is easy? Is the Home Office really making an objective analysis of the situation based on the latest scientific evidence? If not, on what are they basing their claims?

Since the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs consists of scientific experts, why are the home office ignoring them? If they are ignoring them,why does the ACMD exist in the first place?

Basing our drug policy on scientific evidence is a simple, reasonable and fair request. The coalition government need to acknowledge that drug policy, in its current form, is not in line with scientific evidence and provide a justification for their choice to continue to ignore it.

58% of all forces in England expect to reduce spending on policing illicit drugs according to a new UK Drug Policy Commission Survey.

As police forces across the UK are forced to tighten their purse-strings, common sense prevails in an analysis of how best to use the resources they have.

 

 

The survey suggests that:

• 51% expect to reduce the time they spend on drug-related activities. A third of the forces that responded said they expected drug-related activities to fare worse than any other area of policing.

• 45% expect reduction in test purchasing; 44% expect reduction in forensic testing; 38% expect reduction in drug-related covert surveillance operations.

• Many forces also face reductions in local partnership work, with 38% expecting to do less drugs works with community groups, and a third expect less work with local authorities. Officers expressed concern that this could lead to knock-on effects as gaps were created that some might expect the police to fill. A third of forces said they were going to reduce the drugs education work they do with schools.

• Just over a quarter also reported that their use of drug dogs would be curtailed.

What this means, in effect, is that the police will be solving murders, rapes, investigating gun-crime, sex-trafficking, and the many crimes that actually cohere with moral discrepancy. Prior to this the police had been using the surplus of resources at their disposal pretending to be Orwellian Thought Police who tell people what they can and cannot experience with their own minds.

The move may reflect that growing number of police officials who are taking a stand against prohibition. For information see ‘Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) UK

Every hour spent enforcing drug-prohibition is an hour spent curtailing your cognitive liberty, every pound spent is a pound of the public’s own money being used to oppress themselves.

‘ Wasting Police Time ‘

This post features a classic episode of BBC Radio 4’s fantastic moral debate and discussion programme ‘The Moral Maze’. The episode features a sophisticated analysis of the ethics of drug legalisation, representing both sides of the debate through a panel of moral thinkers who interview a series of expert witnesses.

Many thanks to Aaron from Hastings for uploading this recording to youtube, allowing non-UK listeners to have access to it.

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