Seeing as how I just got back from a festival, it seems it would be appropriate to post a thing or two about drugs.
On Thursday last week scientists revealed that they can detect traces of cocaine (as well as cannabis, caffeine and nicotine) suspended in the air in Rome.
This is the first study to find cocaine in a city’s air – but not the first to implicate that Romans love their snow. Scientists found two years ago that Italians in the Po Valley collectively do so much blow that about four kilos of it flow down the River Po on average every day, which they say translates into about 27 doses per 1,000 “young adults.”
I love to think of young people in the holy city being so coked up that the pontiff himself has to breathe it in every day.
This however is the funniest part of the story about blow in Roman air:
The concentration of drugs was heaviest in the air around Rome’s Sapienza university, though the National Research Council’s Dr. Angelo Cecinato warned against drawing conclusions about students’ recreational habits.
Come on. Dude. We all know that students, with their work schedules and hedonistic mindsets – love the white stuff (and the green stuff, and, well, all other kinds of stuff). Ever spent time in a university library bathroom late at night during exam time? Every time you hear a toilet flush, if you listen closely, you can hear somebody inhale sharply.
On to Amsterdam (what entry on drugs would be complete without mentioning Amsterdam?). Students (note that I say students, not scientists) have invented a powdered form of alcohol that can legally be sold to children.
Whimsically dubbed Booz2Go, when mixed with water the powder creates a bubbly, lime-green drink, about 3% alcohol.
Let’s be honest – is 3% alcohol going to hurt the kids any more than the crap they drink everyday in pop (i.e. soda to Yanks, fizzy drinks to Limeys)? Sugar, caffeine, and riboflavin, oh my! Click here for a pretty good piece from The Independent about how pop could cause subtle cell damage due to some of the additives. And really, without the additives, how healthy is it for them to drink all that caffeine and sugar?
Aside: I took a course in endocrine physiology in university (which was quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever studied). My professor told me (although I never did the research to verify this) that the most addictive substances – by far – are nicotine and caffeine, not cocaine or heroin or alcohol as you might expect. Now, I can’t vouch for nicotine’s addictiveness, but I’m sure many of you can. And I sure as hell am one cranky bitch if I don’t get my morning coffee.
Moving on: I suppose it’s time to say something about the war on drugs – that wonderfully successful, well-executed attempt to eliminate drugs from our city streets. Apparently – surprise, surprise – it’s not going well.
Here, let’s enjoy some fun stats (who doesn’t enjoy stats?)
Amount spent by US in the last 15 years fighting cocaine production in Latin America: $15 billion
Price of cocaine in the US in 1981: $600
Price of cocaine in the US today: $135
That was fun! Let’s do another one.
Amount of opium produced in Afghanistan in 2000: 3,275 metric tonnes
Amount of opium produced in Afghanistan in 2006: 6,100 metric tonnes
Amount budgeted by US for eradicating poppy production in Afghanistan: $780 million
Amount required to purchase all of the Afghan opium crop for production of morphine (which the World Health Organization says there is a dire shortage of): $600 million
Ah, nothing like some nice, good numbers to put it all in perspective, eh?
Whatever way you cut it, humans are messed up about drugs. We love to take them, but at the same time, we hate ourselves for taking them. We completely destroy ourselves taking them, and yet, we can’t stop taking them. So we go to ridiculous efforts trying to stop ourselves (and others) from taking them – but to no avail, we keep taking them.
What is the solution? I have no friggin’ idea. If anybody did we wouldn’t be in this mess.