I’m usually beyond cynical that politicians will ever embrace public policy based on sound scientific evidence (EX: my most recent twitter spat with Dana Rohrabacher), but I’m a bit optimistic that there might be some drastic change in our societal conceptualization of drugs. Unlike even a decade ago, it is becoming acceptable for the square community to acknowledge what everyone’s college stoner roommate proclaimed every time someone from a keg party trashed your house; that illegal drugs like pot or mushrooms are much less dangerous than FDA approved and regulated tobacco or alcohol.
A switch in drug policy from the ridiculous “The War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs” to actual evidence based harm-reduction is probably not on the imminent horizon. However it is encouraging that mainstream media sources like Sanjay Gupta or the Economist feel that it necessary to alert their audiences to new scientific findings that define the specific variations in the effects and consequences of different types of drug use. This slow trickle of relatively positive news regarding the health risks and addictive properties for certain drugs can and hopefully will turn the tide of a generation of misinformation and ridiculously hysterical anti-drug advocacy that defined much of the 20th century.
Nevertheless, something like this is particularly discouraging:
LONG BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT DRUG POLICY
The Long Beach Police Department hiring standard concerning drug usage is as follows:
- Marijuana - any use of marijuana in the last two-years from the application deadline (September 13, 2013) will result in disqualification from the current hiring process. This is not a life time disqualification; just until a two-year period of no marijuana use has passed
- Other illegal drug use (other than marijuana or hard drugs listed below) in the last three-years from the application deadline (September 13, 2013), will result in disqualification from the current hiring process. This is not a life-time disqualification; just until a three-year period of no illegal drug use has passed.
- Any use of hallucinogenic drugs (PCP, LSD, mushrooms, etc.), illegal intravenous drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, etc.), or bath-salts is an automatic disqualification from this process. This is a life-time ban.
All other drug use will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and a determination will be made based on the applicant’s overal qualifications.
Alright so the Long Beach Police Department wants to exclude any applicant who has used one California’s largest cash crops and one of the least harmful drugs on record for two years because of some ephemeral law enforcement related interest. That makes no fucking sense whatsoever but it is not exactly surprising given the federal pressure on California to stop treating weed like it is entirely legal.
What is absolutely insane however is the lifetime ban for hallucinogenic and intravenous drugs while providing a mere three year ban for other illegal (non-pot) drug use. How in fucks name does that make any sense? In fact let’s break it down.
- Take Psilocybin mushrooms, the least dangerous illegal drug according the recent Lancet study, or LSD (the 3rd least dangerous) and you are banned for life from becoming a member of the LBPD. Why? Because fuck you hippie that’s why.
- Do you like Cocaine, Methamphetamine, or Heroin? Have you ever wanted to get super-ripped like your hero Ryan Braun? Well if so make sure you ingested those drugs by smoke, pills, or anal cavity ingestion because if you used a needle for whatever reason you are banned for life. Why? Is it the increased risk that the user may have contracted a blood borne disease like hepatitis or HIV through a dirty needle? Because that is the only real difference in harm between freebasing your heroin and injecting it.
This sort of badly constructed hiring guideline is dangerous. It shows that the very agency enforcing the incredibly muscular (and well-funded) anti-drug laws has absolutely no fucking idea of the reasoning behind their immense power, and that arbitrary and non-sensical distinctions hold more sway within their own offices than any evidence based-developments in social policy. Not to mention the fact that most Long Beach residents would probably rather have a Police Officer working their neighborhood who understands the relative harmless nature of a pot or shroom user compared to a cokehead or boozehound.
But by all means lets continue to exclude otherwise qualified applicants from important civil service jobs because they spent an afternoon in college staring at waves crashing out of a persian rug. That sort of intransigent stupidity just screams responsible government.