A quick fisk

Our subject for this one: Mandy Saligari: Why Legalisation of Drugs Won’t Work in Huffington Post UK.

According to her bio “Mandy Saligari is the Clinical Director and founder of Charter Day Care, Residential and Counselling treatment facility in Harley Street, London where she also practices as an addiction and relationship therapist.” And that explains a lot.

Now, for a reasoned and polished critique, go down to comments at that article and read the 6 part rebuttal from Transform. They do a very nice job.

But that allows us to have a little fun. Let’s take a look at one passage from Mandy’s piece:

But to me it doesn’t make sense and I am tempted to invite Nick Clegg to experiment on his own kids first as for me the law has a duty to represent a line in the sand that reflects a moral code. It’s what we in the therapy business call an ethical code, or ‘best practice.’

It’s what people in the legal business call “nonsense.” Every single day in my job I deal with making decisions based on “best practices,” and none of them are criminal laws.

It’s a bizarre notion — the idea that none of us would really know what to do morally or as a way of living our lives without laws telling us. It’s almost like setting up our secular criminal justice system as a kind of quasi-religion that substitutes for such things as intelligence, parenting, education, and community.

As a parent I appreciate the law’s support in indentifying and providing clear boundaries around practices that are unhealthy, damaging or dangerous to my young, whether that’s related to e.g. guns, knives, theft, bullying, drugs, drink driving etc.

Really? That’s what the law does? Hmmm….

Stoves are dangerous to our young. Are they illegal for everyone? No, we actually teach our children that stoves are hot (without threatening them with legal sanctions) and mostly keep them safe until they’re ready to make pancakes with us.

Coffee is unhealthy for young kids. Illegal? No.

Sky diving. Table saws. Cars. Walking outside late at night. Drano. Electrical outlets. Aspirin. All things that are unhealthy, damaging or dangerous to our young. All legal.

Read the rest of the article (and Transform’s rebuttal) for clear indications that she has no real understanding of the differences between decriminalization and legalization and their relative impacts.

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34 Responses to A quick fisk

  1. Duncan20903 says:


    I really think that the recovery pros have carte blanche in disseminating their hysterical rhetoric. Most if not all of the DWR regulars realize that the addictionologists advocating for continued prohibition are voting their pocketbook. I would expect that the Know Nothings in the peanut gallery think them noble and ethical because obviously repealing the laws against cannabis would result in a much higher number of potheads therefore increasing the phrenologists’ income substantially.

    I’m sure that a lot of people are aware of the billion dollars plus tobacco settlement breaking the tobacco industry’s perfect record of winning when sued for causing people to get sick. The primary catalyst that enabled the ambulance chasers to win that suit was that one of the big tobacco vendors turned snitch. The company that did so was on its deathbed and got excluded from having to pay. The company went teats up and was bought out of bankruptcy by RJR. That purchase included the exemption the bankrupt company received from having to pay into the settlement fund. Now that’s a dictionary picture example of the word irony, no doubt.

    What we need is a snitch that can prove the perfidy of the Federal government in its public policies vis a vis cannabis prohibition and the government will fold like a cheap suit of clothing.

    ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-

    Why is it that so many people believe that re-legalization is a liberal issue?

    So when did NPR transmogrify into Republicans?

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Well I was trying to do you a favor but since you’re a masochist I’ll flog you because I’m no sadist.

        Easing Of Marijuana Laws Complicates Parents’ Advice To Kids

        But whether your child is 9 or 19, conversations about drugs are even more important to have now, says Dr. Leslie Walker, a pediatrician and chief of adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She says marijuana is the No. 1 drug that sends teenagers to her substance abuse clinic.

        Dr. Walker that the drug potentially poses more risks to kids and teens because their brains are still developing. That could also leave them more vulnerable to addiction. “You put something like marijuana into the mix of a developing brain and, for some kids, it’s going to be the first time they’ve had a drug that’s going to cause lifelong addiction for them,” says Dr. Walker.

        Instant, lifelong addiction! Just like heroin, meth, cocaine, drinking alcohol, major league baseball and oral sex!

        Do you suppose that some how there’s been a breach in the very fabric of reality causing us to be interacting with people from a parallel universe? No, that can’t be it. Their reality bears no resemblance to our reality. If they were from a parallel universe that should exist in another phase of reality most everything would appear to be the same as in ours. Perhaps they’re from a parallel anti-universe? Does it matter?
        Umm yes, as a matter of fact the true masochists begs, “beat me, whip me, make me write bad checks” and the true sadist will refuse because the sadist knows that pain, humiliation and financial submission gives the true masochist pleasure. It hurts so good

        • Windy says:

          Speaking of ridiculous claims about instantaneous lifelong addictions, have any of you ever watched Drugs, Inc. on Nat Geo?

          Hubby was watching Doomsday Preppers yesterday afternoon. I was busy in the kitchen, so when he left home to do something, I didn’t go in to the living room to change the channel or turn off the TV. Following the DP show, an episode of Drugs, Inc. came on, they were doing the show on gangs and distribution. I left it on and listened.

          Near the end of the show, they had a cop with a big bag of crystal meth of large flakes, he made the claim that it takes just one use of that drug for people to be hooked for life. I’ve snorted that drug, quite often and quite heavily at times (when I was younger, not lately, at my age it might not be good for my heart) and I never got hooked, neither did most of our friends who also did it, in fact I only know one person who could not stop and is still doing it, he’s also homeless because of it. No one on the show corrected that cop’s claim, so they are passing along misinformation.

          I was going to write the network and berate them for that misinformation, but I’ve been so busy getting ready for Christmas, I have put it aside for now. But now I’m wondering how much more misinformation they’ve been putting in that series. The very first one I saw (also the only other episode I’ve seen) was on Ecstasy and was pretty good, they even went into how it is being used, clandestinely, by some psychologists to treat trauma and PTSD.

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      That NPR story claims, fatuously, that up till now it has been easy talking to our kids about drugs; now that’s about to change.

      Excuse me, but I find that the closer we get to a sane policy, the *easier* it is to talk to my kids about pot and other drugs.

      Want to make talking to your kids about drugs difficult? Let’s lump them all in one category and refuse to make any distinctions between their relative risks, that’ll do the trick!

      • kaptinemo says:

        Before the Reagan lie-yer-@$$-off-about-drugs phase of ‘drug education’, in my junior high and high school back in the mid-1970’s we received these little orange-and-white booklets on drugs – ALL drugs, including alcohol, which was explicitly named as a drug – in which the factual information about them was made available. No judgements, no pamphleteering, no attempts at brainwashing, ‘just the facts, ma’am’.

        Because of that, I had greater respect for my teachers and school staff, as it was obvious that they didn’t try to ‘snow’ me. (Not when so many kids already knew the truth about illicit drugs, anyway, via actual experience.) As a result, I didn’t use despite all the opportunities. I had better things to do (like serving in a rough-and-tumble elite paramilitary SAR squadron).

        But the choice, as always, was mine to make, as it is for every kid. But because I wasn’t lied to, I chose at the time not to indulge.

        And I daresay I was not alone as a kid. BS your kids, about anything, but especially about illicit drugs, and you sow the wind. When they’re old enough to know you’ve lied to them, you’ll bitterly regret the whirlwind you’ve sown.

      • darkcycle says:

        Well, in MY case legalization means I don’t have to explain to my kids why they need to avoid pot more than their white counterparts. I don’t have to explain why they will likely go to jail and have their lives ruined by a felony conviction when the white kids they are smoking with get a slap on the wrist.
        As far as I kin’ see, makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

      • Maria says:

        Honesty, open, and sober (pun intended) conversations always make for an easier time than bullshitting, hemming and hawing, and hiding.

        Also, just judging from my own friends, if you hide the fact that you drink a glass of wine in the evenings and then try and convinces your kids that alcohol is an evil thing that will destroy their life if they touch it then you’re definitely going to have a hard time with “The Drug Talk.”

        I hate it when parents blame laws for their inability to be mature adults.

  2. Servetus says:

    A ‘line in the sand’ is an arbitrary demarcation designed to create a binary choice where something more complicated exists. It’s the excuse Robert DuPont gave when asked why marijuana should be included in the registry of prohibited substances: a line had to be drawn somewhere.

    The non-thinking aspect of a line-in-the-sand attracts know-nothings because it’s much easier to know nothing and to invent false equivocations with crimes that have actual victims. Gone are the variables and complications that include biologically driven behavior; a corrupt, abusive government authority; a creative society having the capacity to exceed the norms; and a moral authority in the country that is anything but moral.

    In the psych biz, involvement in drug treatment is often considered a career dead end. If a psychologist can’t do anything else right as a psychologist, drug treatment looms as a professional refuge for many of the control freaks and purists who risk being replaced by counter-addiction pills in the near future.

    While there are also a number of good treatment programs and professionals, it’s no big surprise that an obvious values-voter such as Mandy Salagari stresses her moral agenda in lieu of actual results and actual drug victims. Her profession is one destined to be subsumed into the regular medical profession once it’s finally conceded that addiction is a medical problem rather than a moral issue demanding punishment and persecution.

    • darkcycle says:

      Really, there’s rather a lot of professional hostility to addiction treatment among most psychologists. ANd even MORE among psychiatrists (whose entire reason for existing is to write copious quantities of psychoactive meds). You don’t see a lot of slop over, or at least I didn’t.

  3. pfroehlich2004 says:

    Uruguay backtracks on marijuana legalization :(:


    Guess it’s up to us to lead the way!

    • claygooding says:

      I wonder how much the Uruguay politicians received from the ONDCP or if all it took was trade sanction threats.

  4. claygooding says:

    Chris Williams ended up with a 5 year sentence and no seizure of his property in Montana,,by making a deal not to appeal his conviction?????

  5. kaptinemo says:

    Pardon the pun, but we’re ‘smoking them out’ with regards to the prohib’s underlying rationales behind their (publicly) sweet words of (seeming) wisdom. And when stripped of the usual canards and strawmen, their rationales are largely emotional…as in their authoritarian, stick-up-the-arse selves showing how p*ssed off they get when you do what they tell you not to.

    They have no answers for when the institutions they esteem so highly are so heavily corrupted by the DrugWar. For example, the bankster Elite who’ve gotten mind-bendingly rich off of the drug trade are supposed to lead by example in the prohib’s narrow-minded little world.

    But…they are instead those most benefiting by doing exactly what the self-appointed morals proctors say not to. The laughter in the boardrooms of the major banks on the planet must get deafening when they think of the fools supporting drug prohibition.

    The fact of their ultimate impotence to impose their belief-generated goals on others, despite their self-imposed ‘mandate’, must lead to crushing cases of cognitive dissonance. To relieve that, they lash out at those they think they can still berate with some effectiveness, not realizing that we caught on to the game much sooner than they have (if ever), and knew the game was crooked almost from the get-go.

    So the Johnny-Come-Lately prohibs wind up lecturing those they shouldn’t because they are ignored by those they think should be paying them mind. Worse, for the prohibs, as the old saying goes, “The Internet is forever”. Their ramblings and rantings will continue to auto-damn them long after prohibition ends.

  6. Francis says:

    But to me it doesn’t make sense and I am tempted to invite Nick Clegg to experiment on his own kids first as for me the law has a duty to represent a line in the sand that reflects a moral code.

    What “experiment” is that? The experiment of NOT pointing a gun at his children and locking them in a cage if he discovers them in possession of certain “drugs”? I’m guessing he’s already conducting that experiment. I think most of us are. I have an idea. How about you try leaving our kids (and us!) the hell alone, and we’ll return the favor?

  7. Byddaf yn egluro: says:

    This just in:

    A NETWORK of allegedly corrupt Customs officers has reportedly been helping to import millions of dollars worth of drugs through Sydney airport with organised crime figures for several years.

    The Australian Federal Police is expected to make an announcement today confirming the sting, which has snared between 15 and 20 Customs officers.

    The allegedly corrupt officials reportedly have links to crime figures including underworld boss Alex “Little Al” Taouil; drug traffickers including Joseph Harb, who pleaded guilty to bribing another trafficker and conspiring to import the precursor chemicals to cocaine; and members of the Comanchero bikie gang and Middle Eastern crime groups.


  8. ezrydn says:

    Anyone ever see the movie, “Idiocracy?” If not, you should. Then, a lot of this BS would make “some” sense. Baked, you’ll really enjoy it.

  9. Pete says:

    “I like money.”

  10. Opiophiliac says:

    Well thank God for the Transform Foundation. These guys (or gals I don’t know the identity of the comment writer) know their stuff and demolish this article with logic and common sense.

    “Addiction is an illness and should absolutely be treated as such but to focus on the drugs as if they represent addiction is the first mistake.”
    But its not treated like any other illness. Name one other illness where the “treatment failures” end up in prison. Or where patients are encouraged to give up their will to a “higher power” and make “moral inventories.” How well would that work for a real disease, for example cancer. How many AA meetings would it take to shrink a tumor?

    “Of course if you take enough of an addictive substance you are likely to become addicted…”
    You claim to be a drug treatment expert but get some basic facts wrong. There is no magic threshold that someone crosses where their drug use suddenly becomes addictive. So what you can do a gram of heroin and be a casual user but after 5 grams are suddenly an addict? Ridiculous. Reminds me of a young woman who once told me that anyone who takes more than 10 hits of LSD goes insane (or maybe I really am crazy as I passed that threshold a long time ago).

    “Instead meet them with a challenge, a boundary, support, education and opportunity – give them treatment, mentoring and tough love, and invite them to stand up and live.”
    “Tough Love” is a platitude that people use to make themselves feel better when being callous. Its the same thinking that says locking up drug users is for their own good. This is pushed to the extreme with the AA/NA concept of “hitting bottom.” The idea being that if you make drug users lives as miserable as possible (by say kicking children out of the family home onto the streets or cutting off all communication until the person is “clean”) they will give up their drug use. Unfortunately for too many people their “bottom” is death. “Tough love” is killing people.
    “I believe the government should focus on such impenetrable areas to reform relating to education of emotional intelligence, building a valuable sense of self, creating and encouraging practical opportunities, challenging poverty through motivation and experience, creating communities through supporting families. I believe in a grass roots approach that will take time but that is sustainable as it fosters a healthy culture. It would mean cooperation and collaboration between the political parties for the greater good. I want a miracle.”
    Ahh, the “root causes” argument. If we could just get to the root causes of addiction and drug use in society we wouldn’t have any of these drug problems (also there would be no need for prohibition). After we have world peace, cured every disease, and the lions lay down with the lambs, then people will stop wanting to get high. This is pure fantasy, every human culture than has had access to psychoactive substances has used them. This also assumes the only reason people use drugs is out of despair and escapism.

    While Saligari waits for her miracle my fellow drug users are dying, rotting in jails and prisons and generally getting beat down by prohibition. We can’t wait any longer.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      In my experience the problem user of substances on the naughty lists and drinking alcohol don’t tiptoe into self debauchery. One major point about addiction is that people who suffer it actually do suffer. They’re not happy about their lives, not even a little bit. IMO addicts are born, not made and the Rat Park study is evidence that supports my assertion.

      I don’t touch drinking alcohol because the 5 times I got drunk when I was 17 had me scared senseless because of the blackouts. I never was a guy who did well with hard drugs. Ever since I was 18 I’ve wondered from time to time what would have become of me in the absence of cannabis. I do believe I would have become a skid row bum wallowing in my own filth in some nasty alley behind the liquor store.

      Back in the 1980s/early ’90s there was quite a push to criminalize being HIV+. In some jurisdictions it’s a felony for an HIV+ person to engage in sex. In other, more enlightened jurisdictions it’s a felony to do that without informed consent from your partner. Also a number of places adopted a felony prostitution law if the sex worker is HIV+. I don’t think I have a problem with the last example. Well at least if they excepted transactions with informed consent. A couple with both (or more) partners HIV+ can throw the rubbers overboard and swap bodily fluids to their hearts content from my POV.

      • Opiophiliac says:

        The “rat park” experiment was conducted by Bruce K. Alexander. Alexander actually argues against the notion that addicts are born (genetic causes). The whole article is quite good an worth reading, whether or not you agree with his conclusions.

        Rise and Fall of the Official View of Addiction

        4. Genetic research provides no substantial evidence of a genetic predisposition to addiction. This contradicts the 3rd foundational element of the Official View [A major portion of people’s vulnerability to addiction comes from inherited genetic predispositions].

        Addiction, like all other human activities is influenced in various ways by the shared genetic endowment of the human species and by the particular genetic complement of each individual. Therefore, evidence of some genetic effects on addiction is not surprising. However, neither the experimental evidence that hundreds of genes can influence the likelihood of addiction in some species and in some situations, nor the reports of substantial heritabilities of alcoholism from human adoption and twin studies comprise evidence of an inherited predisposition to addiction. Genes can effect various risk factors. For example, a gene that affects the sensitivity to a particular drug may make an experimental subject more or less vulnerable to addiction to that drug. A gene that affects one of the qualities expected in a particular human group, the absence of which predisposes a person to social exclusion, can increase the probability of addiction in the persons that carry the gene. These kinds of genetic effects could have measurable effects on the frequencies of some addictions in some situations, but they comprise no evidence at all for a genetic predisposition to addiction in general.

        Moreover, there are many reasons to question claims of heritability of addiction of as high as 50% that have come from some human adoption and twin studies. These claims are being vigorously disputed by many biomedical researchers on a variety of grounds.[81] For example, there is no way to control for prenatal and perinatal stressors produced by alcoholic parents whose children serve as subjects in adoption studies. Such factors could have a major effect on future addiction which would be incorrectly counted as genetic variance, under current experimental designs.

        One note about HIV+ couples (when both partners are HIV+), it is still recommended that these couples use protection as there are different genotypes of HIV and you can be infected with multiple strains. This is also true of Hep C.
        As for HIV+ prostitutes, if prostitution was legal sex workers could be screened for STDs and condoms could be made mandatory. Much like drugs legal regulations would make prostitution a much less dangerous activity for all involved.

  11. allan says:

    remember after the election, the lull in prohib rants? But now they’re all over the place. And they’re sounding more shrill and desperate. Of course it’s Sabet and Kleiman that are leading the charge, because they’re better at obfuscating.

    And ditto what Kap said just above about the ’74 cancer study in VA. That alone should destroy any validity the CSA has remaining. And the govt registering cannabis patents… frosting on the (green) cake. How could cannabis be patented for medical applications if it has no medical use?

    Interesting to watch the emperor’s non-existent clothing actually unravel.

  12. Duncan20903 says:

    This one is from the “who’da thunk it?” category:

    Seattle police ease rules on previous marijuana use for applicants

    SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department is loosening rules on past marijuana use by job applicants, officials announced Tuesday. Until this week, applicants were immediately disqualified if they had smoked marijuana within three years of applying for a position. The new rule reduces that to a year, the department announced through its blog.

    I want to know, who the heck is going to clean up all of these darn dominoes?

    • allan says:

      in geology terms I believe we are witnessing the rapid development of an alluvial fan. (An alluvial fan is a fan- or cone-shaped deposit of sediment crossed and built up by streams or debris flows).

      When I saw that yesterday my thought was that even if the feds do crack down on WA and CO these are the sorts of things they can’t undo. And every one of these, is as you say Duncan, another domino falling.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Make the (long string of violently expressed unprintables) prohibs clean up their mess!

      When I was a private in the Army, I had to line up every morning after PT and hand-pick up the trash in a nearby field. I came to the Army’s kind of syllogistic logical conclusion that there were people who make messes and people who were forced to clean up after them. The former earned my undying enmity. The prohibs took that enmity and exponentially expanded it.

      Which is why I keep harping on about the necessity for a reckoning after we win. Because the b@st@rds will be back, even after we win, if they are not made to (partial pun intended) ‘police up’ their own mess. Like a pup that hasn’t been housebroken, they need to have their faces rubbed in that mess…which is comprised of all the kind of offal a dead body leaves behind. Offal they created.

      Otherwise, like some 21st century apologists for 19th century slave-owning, they’ll claim at some time in the future that things weren’t that bad under prohibition. Because, as a line from an old movie went, “…it is the doom of men to forget.”

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