Friday, April 07, 2006

jonesing for america

although marijuana was made illegal during the depression to discriminate against mexican migrant workers (because the mexican cultural idiom is oriented more towards marijuana than alcohol, and marijuana prohibition gave the federal government a way to deport mexicans, thereby preserving scarce jobs for americans), and has historically been kept illegal by lobbying efforts on the part of the paper and pharmaceutical industries (because hemp pulp is a more effecient than tree pulp for making paper, and the pharmaceutical industry doesn't want people to be able to produce their own medications in a backyard garden), drug policy in america is predicated on the assumption that controlled substances can be classified according to their neurochemical effects. this assumption, however, fails when the nature of the brain as an open system is taken into consideration.

the brain is a complex system comprised of individual neurons, but is just as much a system of formal connections between neurons; just as the concentration of various neurochemicals has an effect on the function of the brain as a network system, the function of the brain as a network system has its own effects on the concentration of various neurochemicals.

a simple analogy is this: just as the behavior of a human typing on a keyboard affects various electromagnetic charges in a computer, people also respond to input from the computer, so the electromagnetic charges in a computer also have an effect on a human typing on a keyboard; these effects are not prefectly reflexive, nor entirely dependant upon oneanother.

it is more than likely that many potentially beneficial drugs are controlled or outlawed simply because it is difficult to quantify their effect on cognitive processes, while their effect on biochemical processes defies description in terms of traditional mathematical models. such unquantifiable behavior is common in complex open systems, as described in depth by stephen wolfram in his text a new kind of science. this is a result in part of godel's incompleteness theorem, which states that a formal system cannot be both self-consistent and also able to express all truths about itself; when one set of relationships (as between neurons) is formalized (as in a mathematical description), that formalization is not necessarily translatable into any other formal system (while also preserving the desired behavioral descriptions, such as self-consistency, or truth).

american drug policy would benefit from more subjective controls in experimentation, which take into consideration the way different individuals' cognitive systems are attenuated. morphine, one of the first substances deliberately cultivated in human civiization, is still one of the most effective medicines known to man. marijuana, also among the oldest of cultivated crops, is largely unexamined in its potentially beneficial cognitive effects. moreover, the decriminalization of marijuana may do quite a bit to reduce the demand for more damaging drugs such as mdma and salvia divinorum.

it also seems likely there are more than a few americans who would have a more healthy homelife if they were able to come home from work and smoke a joint in front of the television, rather than drink a six pack and take out their aggression on their liver or their family.

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