Posts tagged “harm reduction

Amsterdam Not So Dope Anymore, Plans in Motion to Ban Cannabis Smoking for Tourists By End of Year

Amsterdam is extinguishing their famed tolerance for marijuana smoking. While they aren’t banning pot smoking entirely, the Dutch Cabinet will be limiting coffee shops to 1,500 memberships. The idea is the coffee shops will have to choose their regular customers over tourists for membership slots.

The best memories I never had were in Amsterdam. If you haven’t been I suggest you put your bong down, wipe the neon orange from your fingertips, get off the couch slowly so you don’t spill bong water all over your floor,  and book yourself a ticket ASAP.

Once you book your ticket write it on a post-it, and stick it to your bong–immediately–so you don’t forget.

Classic Amsterdam, Trip in 2003

According to the Associated Press:

The Dutch Cabinet says it will push ahead with plans to force anyone wishing to purchase marijuana at the country’s weed cafes to first obtain an official pass — a move designed to curtail tourists from buying the drug.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he plans to begin rolling out the system in the country’s south later this year, an area popular with French and German buyers, before moving on to Amsterdam’s famed tourist cafes later in his term.

Justice Ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen said Friday the supreme court must still rule on whether foreigners can be blocked entirely.

Regardless, he said the plan will prevent cafes from issuing more than 1,500 permits in all, forcing shop owners to choose between tourists and their regular customers.

Reading material left in our hotel room, Amsterdam 2003

Ban, or no ban,  the rest of the world could definitely take a queue from the Netherlands on their harm reduction drug policy. Wikipedia sums the Netherlands drug policy, ever so nicely:

The drug policy of the Netherlands officially has five major objectives:

  1. To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.
  2. To reduce harm to users.
  3. To diminish public nuisance by drug users (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighbourhood).
  4. To combat the production and trafficking of recreational drugs.[1]

Most policymakers in the Netherlands believe that if a problem has proved to be unsolvable, it is better to try controlling it and reducing harm instead of continuing to enforce laws with mixed results. By contrast, most other countries take the point of view that recreational drug use is detrimental to society and must therefore be outlawed. This has caused friction between the Netherlands and other countries about the policy for cannabis, most notably with France and Germany. As of 2004, Belgium seems to be moving toward the Dutch model and a few local German legislators are calling for experiments based on the Dutch model. Switzerland has had long and heated parliamentary debates about whether to follow the Dutch model on cannabis, most recently deciding against it in 2004; currently a ballot initiative is in the works on the question. In the last few years certain strains of cannabis with higher concentrations of THC and drug tourism have challenged the current policy and led to a re-examination of the current approach; for eg. ban of all sales of cannabis to tourist in coffee shops from end of 2011[2][3]

While the legalization of cannabis remains controversial, the introduction of heroin-assisted treatment in 1998 has been lauded for considerably improving the health and social situation of opiate-dependent patients in the Netherlands.[4] In 2010 research shows that the “heroin-junkies” have disappeared from the streets of the Netherlands and the treatment is upgraded from a test-trial to standard treatment for otherwise untreatable addicts. Also, the number of heroin addicts has dropped by more than 30% since 1983.[citation needed]

Pass the Dutchie…Wait Dutchies, don’t pass this ban!!!


Australian Mardi Gras 2011 Theme Let’s You Fill in the Blank ::Say Something::

Australian 2011 Mardi Gras was riveted together with performances and spirit unlike any other I’ve seen in the world. From the parade to the parties, the momentum kept building.

The theme this year was a blank speech balloon like those used in comic books. The idea behind it was for people to ‘say something’ by filling the balloon with your personal message for Mardi Gras and GLBTQ rights.

Whether it be gay rights,  trans rights, bullying, gay marriage, you could say anything you wanted.

It was explained to me, like many large events, that no matter what theme gets chosen–year after year–someone’s point of view always gets left out. However, this year there was no way to not be included as the theme was completely customizable and open ended. Pretty brilliant in my opinion.

A man named Kabi thought of the Say Something theme.  I had the pleasure of hanging with during my time with the Wet Ones Swim Club and then at the Mardis Gras 2011 Harbor Party. I can say he is as brilliant as he is humble. Not to mention he is a snappy dresser.

Kobi and I and the Harbor Party

Kobi and I and the Mardi Gras Party

From the Say Something 2011 Mardi Gras site:

Bio
Kabi has been volunteering for the Parade since 1988 when he made the Cupie dolls’ angel wings that accompanied the Order of Perpetual Indulgence’s infamous Fred Nile head in the Parade of that year. Kabi and his group ethel yarwood enterprises have since created some of the most memorable and iconic Parade entries of the past 23 years. They have collected 8 Parade awards for their efforts and entertained whilst contributing to the fame and prominence of the Festival.

Here he explains the reason and purpose for the 2011 season concept.

Say Something
The equal rights movement for gays and lesbians in Australia was ignited because in 1978 activists took to the streets of Sydney to bravely Say Something about the criminalisation of our sexuality and the oppression of our culture. From this seed of the 78’ers dissent, The Sydney Gay Mardi Gras was established. Through the combination of art, politics and courage we have employed this platform to Say Something about ourselves, our struggles and our triumphs, our losses and our gains.

Over the ensuing period, through its many forms and structures, this protest has grown into a world renowned festival encompassing multiple disciplines of the arts, parties, community gatherings and the Parade. Saying Something is a thread that runs through the entire festival. Writers Say Something to their readership. Speakers, performers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, film directors, artists of all persuasions want to Say Something to their audiences to share an idea, an experience, to connect.

The very fact that 70,000 proud community members assemble at the Fair Day/Launch including our supporters, friends and family really Says Something about the power of the tribe, the strength of kinship.

The parade offers the community and sponsors the opportunity, and lays down the challenge, to pass commentary about issues affecting the local and international GLTQ family, and use our uniquely camp, larrikin view of the world to highlight and lampoon topical issues. Whether a single entrant or a marching mass of muscle marys, we will have an impact that resonates beyond the moment if we actually Say Something.

Additionally we will endeavour to exploit the digital age of the interweb. We will present to you new and exciting formats in which to participate in this campaign so that your messages can be instantly broadcast around the world.

So Say Something about injustice.
Say Something to your mother.
Say Something critical.
Say Something funny.
Say Something with passion.

Say Something to the cute visitor that will have him or her return to our shores again.

Say Something about equality.

Just get out there, this is your chance to Say Something.

Find them on Facebook.

Here’s Kylie Minogue’s Mardi Gras 2011 Say Something Message:


Nothing is Sweeter Than Saving Lives ::Donate to the Trevor Project:: for Valentine’s Day

The Trevor Project deserves our support. Instead of buying a valentine gift for yourself, or someone else, make a donation and help end suicide among LGBTQ youth. This is guaranteed to taste sweeter, and last longer, than a box of candy.  Not to mention, it’s much lower in calories.

The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including their nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.

Trevor Project Valentine Challenge

Nothing is sweeter than saving lives

It Gets Better Video San Francisco Video:


Lindsay Lohan Under Investigation, Again ::Theft:: You call this a comeback, girl? C’Mon

I rooted for Britney Spears, silently, and I’ve rooted for Lindsay Lohan, not so silently.

No one loves a makeover, or a good comeback story, better than me. I’ve watched countless episodes of the Swan and even more episodes of Extreme Makover: Plastic Surgery Edtion.

Unfortunately, Lindsay can’t seem to get it together.

One month after being released from Betty Ford Clinic she is being investigated for the theft of a $2,500 necklace.

Lindsay even got fired from the Linda Lovelace biopic of the famed porn star from Deep Throat.

I guess someone needs to remind Miss Lohan, poor people buy things. The necklace wasn’t part of a gift bag.

Even still, I’m hoping she pulls outta of this nose dive. Perhaps Celebrity Rehab: All-Stars Edition will be the break she needs.

The party never stops for Lindsey...


Death of Beloved SF Institution: The Eagle Earmarked for Super Modern Condos

Earlier this week I saw a post on Facebook talking about the sale of the SF Eagle. Today it became all too much of a reality, when another reader sent me mock-ups for the building proposed to go on the site of the Eagle.

According to Socketsite, renderings for “1600 Harrison” have sat perched in the Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects portfolio. The site also reports there have been rumors the Eagle has been up for sale since the beginning of 2010.

For those of you that may not know the Eagle, it’s an institution here in San Francisco and one of original watering holes for the gay community that remains intact.

If we don’t stand up to this gentrification our entire GLBT history will be lost and our social circles crushed. It’s not just a bar. It’s part of our communities fabric.

I’m not sure what we can do, but will keep you posted if I find out anything more.

If anyone has more information, please let me know.

The beloved Eagle as it looks today

Rendering for Modern Condos to go on the site of the Eagle -- as Reported on Socketsite


Attainable Fashion Helps GLBT Youth @ Risk of Suicide – 100% Goes to the Trevor Project

I wanted to point you in the direction of  fashion for a good cause. Picture this royal purple T with no sleeves. Get sassy with your scissors, as I will surely do, and rock this at the gym or your favorite bar.

Not only does this T-Shirt carry a powerful message, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Trevor Project–helping GLBT Youth at risk of suicide get through today so they can understand for themselves, it does get better!

It’s only $15 bucks, so stock up for the holidays.

Cut off the sleaves to show off your guns

 


13 weeks, 12 steps – My Personal Re-Brand of Sobriety

One thing is certain, I’ve never staid sober for any length of time during my 18 years in San Francisco. Yes, I’ve stopped drinking for a month. However, the reality is drinking is just one toy in a box of fun that I’ve dragged around for more than half my life.

Today is my 13th day of no booze or illicit substances of any kind. I nearly slipped last night, without even thinking about it, as I threw a Vicodin in my mouth to try and ease the pain in my legs from an especially ferocious workout.

Moistened by my tongue, but not ingested, the white demon is now disintegrating in my composter. Hopefully, this is what Gavin Newsom had in mind when he made composting mandatory in SF, and imposed the strictest recycling laws in the nation.

12-step inspired, but I’m not good at following directions
Perhaps Mr. Newsom sent out an instruction guide on composting, or it’s somewhere on the Internet. I didn’t even look.

The reality is I’m not good at following directions of any kind, as I’ve been painfully reminded while trying to assemble a myriad of items from IKEA. So while I’m inspired by the idea of a 12-step program, I know deep down going to meetings or reading their literature will only confuse my personal journey.

So the one big takeaway: I’m going to stay sober for 13 weeks and do it my way.

I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been easy.
My biggest concern of being sober, aside from the word ‘sober’, having some really negative connotations if you look at the definition, is that I’d have to give up the things I enjoy so much about San Francisco—the parties, the disco, and the carrying on.

while sober sure doesn't sound fun, i know people who make it fun

Then I remembered, when I’m partying I don’t always remember. It’s completely a blast, however there are sections that are typically fuzzy, browned out, or in the worst case blacked out.

If I enjoy these times so much, then why am I doing things that makes me forget them?  So for 13 weeks I’m going to engage with the community, and my life, in a new way.


A Salmon Swimming Upstream, Day 13 of Sobriety

The last 13 days of sobriety have not been easy. Like watching a salmon swim upstream, I don’t know that I’m going to make it. What I do know is that there is a pool of creativity and new experiences waiting for me at the end of this journey. Ironically, if a bear (that would be me) doesn’t eat my intention (me staying sober) all should go according to plan.

the moment after this was shot, the bears looked into each others eyes and forgot abou the salmon

So far, I’ve discovered the city in a light I had never seen it before. This by far has been my greatest inspiration to keep going.

And even though the word sober still isn’t something I like the ‘true’ definition of, I’m sticking with my personal re-brand of sobriety and see where it takes me.

Perhaps, sobriety will become my new bad habit and zeitgeist addiction.


French Use of Sex To Sell Anti Smoking Backfires

In pulling together my ‘what’s the next zeitgeist addiction’ post, I discovered this controversial anti-smoking campaign unleashed in France, February 2010.

I may be late to the party on this one, but felt like sharing as it blew my mind.

Sex sells, but selling anti-smoking with sex???

The photos speak for themselves.

From the French AP:
A provocative anti-smoking ad campaign featuring teens in a subservient sexual position has sparked a storm of controversy in France, with the country’s family minister calling Wednesday for the advertisements to be banned.


What’s the next zeitgeist addiction?

The only offensive things left on planes are garlic breath, babies not on Benadryl, and flight attendants.

I miss smoking.
Sure smoking was unsanitary and unhealthy, it was also the zeitgeist of an era. Living for pleasure. Pleasure being addiction. And no one caring.

Not so coincidentally, anyone who has been to Zeitgest, a bar in SF, have likely seen all the above. Bad stuff can be really fun.

So what’s next?
While math is not a strong suit, physics are incomprehensible to me. I do know, however, through dating and a multitude of abuses for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

Make people stop drinking at 2 am, binge drinking happens @ 1.30 right before everyone jumps in their cars. Continually overreact to your three year old, who just learned the word FUCK at preschool, you will likely never get them to stop saying it. The other option, ignore it, don’t react, and eventually–typically one week–it goes away.

Tell kids they can’t drink and they become alcoholics at higher rate of kids in countries where alcohol consumption isn’t an issue, regardless of age. Legalize drugs and watch crime rates drop. Criminalize drugs, give them three strikes as they do in California for even non-violent crimes, and watch the prisons fill beyond capacity without a reduction in non-violent crimes.

Why ‘Just Saying No’ Doesn’t Work

This is a partial expert is from an awesome site called Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. It helps explain the issue, and the power or harm reduction.

Over the past few decades numerous approaches have been tried to detour drug use. The reality is it’s fun and not as bad as authorities say. Early methods emphasized information provision and scare tactics. In the 1980’s America embraced “Just Say No” campaigns. The success of any of these approaches has been questionable at best.

I as many, feel that a major limiting factor of these approaches has been a faulty assumption — namely, that all drug use is unhealthy and therefore that the goal of drug education should be the elimination of all drug consumption.

A harm reduction approach could offer a greater chance of mitigating the negative consequences of drug abuse in the future, because it considers the realistic dynamics of human drug consumption in our past.

Harm Reduction, Sign Me UP!
So while I don’t know what’s going to happen as a result of banning smoking all over the world—including France for god sakes–I’m looking forward a new bad habit and some form of harm reduction so I can enjoy it even longer.


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