Sunday, August 07, 2016

Fox News attacks mild use of herbs — poppy pod tea — more lies, more hype!

With all the media hype about people using heroin and pharmaceutical narcotics, I knew that members of the media would eventually jump on the sale of poppy pods. I've known a few friends who occasionally order boxes of poppy pods. Their pods just happen to be opium poppies. Those poppies are the easiest to use commercially, even when they are not being used for drugs. But my friends grind them up and make a tea. It relaxes them and they enjoy their use. It seems harmless to me and my friends have used this stuff for years.  
Last year a member of Faux (Fox) News found out, that a person can buy such pods from outlet stores that provide supplies for floral  arrangements and other crafts. The article I saw was called "Opiates disguised as crafting supplies easily bought online." This article includes the usual hype that it is possible to buy opium poppy pods as craft supplies. It is true these supplies can be purchased. But not many people who buy them right now, use them for making tea.
The whole article revolves around a professor and his daily use of these pods:

"The beloved husband and teacher suffered a massive coronary. The death certificate lists opium addiction as contributing to heart failure."

Normally opium (and opiate) use does not cause heart attacks. This is true even when people are in withdrawals. The article admits:

"The death certificate lists opium addiction as contributing to heart failure."

But not the main cause or the only cause. When a person dies while using any amount of drugs it seems common for the cause to be listed, officially, as drug use, when if fact drug users die all the time and that doesn't mean it was because of the drug use. There seems to be a media trend of blaming drugs for a person's death just because the person had those drugs in their system at the time of death.
As the article went on, the professors wife received several boxes of poppy pods that were pre-ordered:

"Sally Sears (the author of this piece) opened the first box with renowned drug addiction specialist Dr. Paul Early and he confirmed the flower husks contain morphine and codeine. To put it bluntly, heroin."  

Opium is not heroin. This is a blatantly false statement. Heroin is Diacetylmorphine and is made by exposing morphine hydrochloride to acetic acid. It is not morphine or codeine. This is an example of hype and exaggeration.  
One thing interesting about this article is that the professor had gotten boxes every day:
"As she struggled to settle her late husband's affairs, the grieving widow was stunned as boxes continued to arrive by mail, almost every day."

That stuff is expensive. A half-pound box may cost between $120 to $200. At the rate she described he must have spent at least $500 a week. Most people can't afford that. And he was living on a professors salary.

"Highly addictive drugs, readily available, is always a bad idea," said Early. "Opiates cause a general sense of peace and tranquility."
But that sense of peace and tranquility doesn't last. It soon becomes a hungry monster that's harder and harder to feed."

But not everyone who uses this becomes addicted to it. Most people who do it order it maybe once a month or less. Fox conservatives have shown their hypocrisy with this article. They always complain that government should stay off our backs and out of our lives. They write and talk all the time about liberals wanting to control them. But their attitude is different when it comes to making personal choices about how we chose to live. Drug use has always been unpopular with conservatives, mostly because of religious prejudices and because of fears it will decrease worker's productivity.
But if we are to be a free society  people should be able to live by their own religious standards. People have a right to use herbal plants as they see fit, as either recreation or self medication. There are a lot of herbal plants that may hold some dangers, but most can be used in a relatively safe way.[1] Besides poppy tea, this includes marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and coca tea (which is legal in some countries and can also be ordered online). Not only are these products relatively harmless in their natural form they are less dangerous than alcohol. Alcohol can destroy the liver, impairs judgment to a much greater extent than herbs, can cause withdrawals and it is far more likely to kill a person than opiate withdrawals. Drinking alcohol causes a lot of health problems and yet it is completely legal for someone to use it. For some alcoholics less dangerous drugs, such as marijuana or poppy tea, may help wean them off of drink.

I'm glad this article didn't spur any more hype than it did. As free citizens we need to have the freedom to chose what we use and how we use it. Employers should judge workers on the work they do and not what they do outside of work. Our lives are ours when we are not at work. If people end up addicted to drugs they need to get treatment. That treatment needs to be made available. But let those who use mild forms of intoxicants alone.

[1] See Steve Otto, War on Drugs or War on People?, (Ide House, Las Colinas,Texas) 1995, p. 190.

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