Researchers Find Ties Between Africa’s Khat Use and Liver Disease

Africa Times:

A team of medical researchers are calling attention to the links between liver disease in sub-Saharan Africa and the role of chewing khat, the plant commonly known as miraa in East African nations.

With the high frequency of khat consumption in Africa, its not surprising that it is leading to liver disease for some people. Khat is essentially a plant cathinone, and too much of it is bound to cause problems for the body. It makes complete sense that the liver would get hit pretty hard if you’re chewing it all day every day.

Study Finds Tough Cannabis Policies Do Not Deter Young People

Mattha Busby, writing for The Guardian:

There is no evidence that tough policies deter young people from using cannabis, a study has found.

Analysing data about cannabis use among more than 100,000 teenagers in 38 countries, including the UK, US, Russia, France, Germany and Canada, the University of Kent study found no association between more liberal policies on cannabis use and higher rates of teenage cannabis use.

Go ahead and add this one to the growing pile of existing evidence demonstrating that harsh drug laws and scare tactics don’t actually keep kids away from drugs. In fact, they often do the complete opposite.

The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit

Mark Joseph Stern, writing for Slate:

The Supreme Court struck an extraordinary blow for criminal justice reform on Wednesday, placing real limitations on policing for profit across the country. Its unanimous decision for the first time prohibits all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, including the seizure of property, on people accused or convicted of a crime. Rarely does the court hand down a ruling of such constitutional magnitude—and seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. The landmark decision represents a broad agreement on the Supreme Court that law enforcement’s legalized theft has gone too far.

It’s rare to see a unanimous decision come out of the Supreme Court. This is excellent news for civil asset forfeiture reform. And it’s been a long time coming. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the law is crystal clear now—some things remain undefined:

But Wednesday’s decision leaves some questions unanswered. The court has already ruled that when the federal government seizes money or property, the fine must not be “grossly disproportional to the gravity of [the] offense.” Presumably, this same standard now applies to the states. But when is a forfeiture grossly disproportionate? Does Indiana’s seizure of Timbs’ Land Rover meet this standard? Ginsburg didn’t say, instead directing the Indiana Supreme Court to evaluate the question. Prepare for a flood of litigation urging federal courts to determine when civil asset forfeiture crosses this constitutional line.

‘Kitty Flipping’ and the Psychonaut Obsession With Mixing Drugs

James Nolan, writing for VICE:

Mixing drugs is not a good idea. Most recently, Lil Peep's fatal cocktail of Xanax and fentanyl – along with cocaine and a slew of other opioids – was a reminder of what can go wrong when we treat our bodies like Year 7 science experiments. However, in 2019, with marathon club nights not uncommon, and rollover house parties picking up where they leave off, it may now be more novel if only one drug is used over the course of a session.

Cue the increased popularity of "flipping" – taking two or more substances (one usually a hallucinogen, one usually MDMA) at timed intervals to synergise their effects. A brief etymology explainer: when you take a psychedelic like shrooms, you trip. When you take MDMA, you roll, so a trip plus a roll equals a flip. Thanks to the dark net, substances like DMT and 2C-B – drugs that are integral to some flips, but hard to find on the street – are more readily available, while the popularity of drug talk on message-boards like Reddit has allowed many to discover these flips, hype them up and ultimately tick them off their lists like saucer-eyed stamp collectors.

Again, mixing drugs is not a good idea. In fact, it's often an actively bad one. But for those who are going to do it anyway, it's important to have as much knowledge about what you're putting in your body as possible. […]

I spoke to some of these "flippers" to find out whether there's more to this phenomenon than simply young men and women wanting to get as fucked as they possibly can.

One or two of the drug combinations included in this piece do seem a little foolish to me, and of course combining multiple types of drugs together can result in a variety of problems, but I don’t agree with the blanket advice that “mixing drugs is not a good idea.”

That’s because some of my most transformative experiences in life were catalyzed by consciously experimenting with polydrug use. And I know that I’m not the only person in the world who has benefitted from this practice. There’s a difference between approaching drug combining with proper preparation and respect and simply attempting to get as fucked up as possible. Denying that the former is possible and realistic only tells one side of the story.

However, with that said, drug combining can indeed be incredibly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, potentially even causing permanent psychosis or death. Last January I wrote a piece for Psychedelic Times about how to use TripSit’s ‘Guide to Drug Combinations’ chart. If you’re interested in experimenting with drug combining, I’d advise you to check it out. But whether you’re already deep into polydrug use, poly-curious, or adamantly against it—get educated and be safe out there.

The Deadly Worst Case Scenario for America’s Xanax Obsession

Maia Szalavitz, writing for VICE:

Prescriptions go up. Overdoses skyrocket. People start to freak out. In response, US government officials and physicians clamp down on the medical supply of the drug in question. But that seems to only make things worse: An illegal substance – many times more powerful than those commonly given to patients – hits the streets as the death toll stubbornly continues to climb.

If this sounds like the story of the American opioid crisis, culminating in recent years with the proliferation of super-deadly fentanyl, that’s because it is. But it’s also the story of the Scottish response to an eerily similar problem with the anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines (a.k.a. benzos), which include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam), among others.

Americans like benzos, too.

Cutting back on prescriptions only exacerbates the problem.