Julie Netherland

Responding to K2 With Facts Instead of Fear

This morning New Yorkers awoke to news in the New York Times and New York Post that on Tuesday dozens of people in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn had severe reactions to a batch of K2, a commonly used name for synthetic cannabinoid products.  This most recent outbreak follows a spate of emergency room admissions last summer centered on K2 use in East Harlem and unfortunately illustrate all too clearly the continued failure of our prohibitionist and punitive drug laws.  The outbreak also serves as an important cautionary tale of basing policy on fear instead of facts.

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Making Drug Policy More Evidence-based: the Role of Scientists and Other Scholars

A few years ago Nicholas Kristof, an op ed writer for the New York Times, penned an opinion piece titled Professors, We Need You! Nowhere is this truer than in drug policy where scientific evidence seems to have little to do with how policy gets made. Despite a robust research base and a plethora of talented scholars working on drugs and drug policy, much of our drug policy flies in the face of both reason and research.

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Leading Medical Experts Call for Drug Policy Overhaul, Including Decriminalizing Drugs and Exploring Legal Regulation

As policymakers weigh “what to do about drugs,” they almost always focus on the potential harms of drugs and almost never on the harms of our drug policies themselves. But earlier today an esteemed group of researchers issued a comprehensive report on public health and international drug policy that documents in meticulous detail the catastrophic health consequences of the global war on drugs. Coming together as Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, twenty-six scientists conducted a comprehensive review of the literature and concluded that our drug control policies:

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World AIDS Day: We Must Do More to Help People Who Use Drugs

As we commemorate World AIDS Day today, we need to remind ourselves that today is more than remembrances and reflections. As we look back to honor those who have died, we should also look forward and take action to prevent more needless deaths. World AIDS Day is a call to do better.

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The Danger of Drug Scares: Why It's Time to Turn Down the K2 Hysteria

In case you missed it, the walking dead are taking over East Harlem. The New York Times referred to an area of high K2 use in East Harlem as "a street of zombies;" the New York Daily News (citing NYPD Commissioner Bratton) claims "Synthetic marijuana gives people abnormal strength, makes them dangerous" and the New York Post, quoting Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, says "Our city streets are being taken over by zombies from a scene in 'The Walking Dead;'" and (again relying on accounts from Commissioner Bratton) the Post claims that "Weaponized weed triggers nude psychotic rampages." These stories are filled with misinformation, and the accounts of nude, psychotic rampages have already been debunked. But the fear and the imagery remain.

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