It’s hardly news, but we are overfishing our oceans and filling them with rubbish and radioactive waste.

Last year, yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen gave a grim account of his ocean voyage from Melbourne, Australia to Osaka, Japan.

The ocean is broken

It was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.

Some of the rubbish that Macfadyen encountered and most of the radioactivity is there as a direct result of the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that ensued. Even so, what we are doing to our oceans greatly worries me.

In the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N is a gyre of marine debris known as the Great Pacific garbage patch (also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex).

The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography, since it consists primarily of suspended particulates in the upper water column. Since plastics break down to even smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average.

We’re talking roughly 5 kilograms of plastic per square kilometer, covering an area of ocean between 700,000 and 5,000,000 square kilometers in size. So, between 3.5 and 25 million kilograms – the equivalent of 5 billion plastic grocery bags. Still just a fraction of 1% of the more than 100 million tons of plastic garbage that floats at sea according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The video above is the trailer to the movie Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

(The North Atlantic garbage patch is a similar patch of floating plastic debris found in the Atlantic Ocean. Here‘s a picture of a man in a boat in Manila harbour in the Philippines. Rubbish, rubbish, everywhere.)

Now, just in case you thought you’d accidentally clicked on a link to Frogblog, why am I telling you this?

Because I’m wondering, what’s the libertarian solution to this particular tragedy of the commons?

As ever: what is to be done? We can’t privatise the oceans the same as we could privatise the whales.

Well, here’s my idea. Get a boat and a trash compactor and sail out to the Great Pacific garbage patch and create a habitable, floating island in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre. Then, start your own country!

The concept isn’t new. It’s called seasteading. The details aren’t new, either.

billionaire adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild announced his plans to visit the trash mass on the Plastiki, a boat constructed from recycled waste and webs of plastic. Now the Plastiki has launched, and a group of architects from Rotterdam have already come up with another way to draw attention to the plastic gyre: a Hawaii-sized island made entirely out of recycled plastic.


That water looks inviting! And now that US President Obama has approved his Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to raise the levels of exposure to radiation deemed safe, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and other radiological incidents, it should be just fine to swim in.

Satanist or reptilian shapeshifter?

It’s often said that Satan’s greatest trick was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.

That’s not quite right.

Satan’s greatest trick was convincing his own followers that he doesn’t exist!

Magister Diabolus Rex Leaves the Church of Satan

Magister Diabolus Rex has resigned his title and membership in the Church of Satan effective January 1 due to the incompatibility of his personal belief in a literally existing “Prince of Darkness” and the fundamental Atheism of the philosophy of Anton Szandor LaVey. We wish him well on his new path.

Readers should be aware that the late Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, was no ordinary atheist. He was, in fact, an Objectivist—a disciple of Ayn Rand.

In two important respects, then, Diabolus Rex obviously isn’t a total fool.

Even so, I think he’s seriously misguided. 🙁

Meanwhile, in other news of this world …


After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last?

LONDON (CNN) – The Sunday Assembly was riding high.

The world’s most voguish – though not its only – atheist church opened last year in London, to global attention and abundant acclaim.

So popular was the premise, so bright the promise, that soon the Sunday Assembly was ready to franchise, branching out into cities such as New York, Dublin and Melbourne.

“It’s a way to scale goodness,” declared Sanderson Jones, a standup comic and co-founder of The Sunday Assembly, which calls itself a “godless congregation.”

But nearly as quickly as the Assembly spread, it split, with New York City emerging as organized atheism’s Avignon.

In October, three former members of Sunday Assembly NYC announced the formation of a breakaway group called Godless Revival.

“The Sunday Assembly,” wrote Godless Revival founder Lee Moore in a scathing blog post, “has a problem with atheism.”

Moore alleges that, among other things, Jones advised the NYC group to “boycott the word atheism” and “not to have speakers from the atheist community.” It also wanted the New York branch to host Assembly services in a churchlike setting, instead of the Manhattan dive bar where it was launched.

Jones denies ordering the NYC chapter to do away with the word “atheism,” but acknowledges telling the group “not to cater solely to atheists.” He also said he advised them to leave the dive bar “where women wore bikinis,” in favor of a more family-friendly venue.

The squabbles led to a tiff and finally a schism between two factions within Sunday Assembly NYC. Jones reportedly told Moore that his faction was no longer welcome in the Sunday Assembly movement.

Moore promises that his group, Godless Revival, will be more firmly atheistic than the Sunday Assembly, which he now dismisses as “a humanistic cult.”

In a recent interview, Jones described the split as “very sad.” But, he added, “ultimately, it is for the benefit of the community. One day, I hope there will soon be communities for every different type of atheist, agnostic and humanist. We are only one flavor of ice cream, and one day we hope there’ll be congregations for every godless palate.”

Nevertheless, the New York schism raises critical questions about the Sunday Assembly. Namely: Can the atheist church model survive? Is disbelief enough to keep a Sunday gathering together?

LOL! Read more here.

CLR Rule #1: Don’t diss other people’s drugs


As regular readers will know, I’m actively involved in the drug law reform (DLR) movement here in New Zealand.

In particular, I’m actively involved in the cannabis law reform (CLR) movement. And I regularly see some of my fellow cannabis law reform activists dissing other people’s drugs. My fellow cannabis law reform activists, how can I put this politely?

Stay off the synthetics and stay off the booze!

Here are some wise words from Vince McLeod, author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: A How-To Guide for Fighting Cannabis Prohibition.

[A] common mistake is to attack alcohol and alcohol users. People who enjoy drinking alcohol are often the same sort of people who would enjoy using cannabis, and they will not support cannabis law reform if activists harp on about the damage done by alcohol. Most importantly, cannabis law reformers are not arguing for alcohol prohibition, so there is little advantage in pointing out the damage caused by it (unless the activist is making the argument that the harms done by alcohol are considered acceptable by society and therefore cannabis ought to be accepted as well).

At all times, the cannabis law reform movement must resist any and all efforts to divide it. There are not enough cannabis law reform activists to survive any kind of factionalisation, and prohibitionists are well aware of this.

The classic way of doing this is to set cannabis users who have different goals against each other. … Do not fall for this … the division and infighting caused … do incalculable damage to the movement.

Another way of achieving this is to set cannabis users off against their natural allies. Alcohol was once prohibited, and many of the same wowsers responsible for that are responsible for cannabis prohibition. Likewise, many of the same people who believe that people should be free to drink alcohol believe that people should be free to use cannabis. For these reasons, the cannabis law reform activist should resist the temptation to attack alcohol and alcohol users, even if the evidence is clear that it does more damage to individuals and society than cannabis does or ever could. It is a strong argument to point out that if society can deal with alcohol it can deal with cannabis, but it is best to leave it at that.

The Cannabis Activist’s Handbook is published by VJM Publishing and is available in paperback or as a Kindle edition from Amazon.


The problem of comorbidity


I once suggested that Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

My unusual suggestion was not well received. One of the usual suspects had this to say.

Richard, your speculation is not a legitimate scientific theory … because demons do not exist, neither do gods, fairies, Santa’s-little-helpers or harpies. You’ve never seen one, heard one, touched one, smelled one nor tasted one, neither can you provide an iota of rationale that there exists such a spirit in the universe.

What was called “demon possession” by religionists is mental illness. You’re giving a psychiatric condition a superstitious definition. You call that scientific?

What is called mental illness by psychiatrists is demonic possession. I don’t call the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders scientific, and neither do many clinical neuroscientists.

Diagnostic Classification Needs Fundamental Reform

The problem with the DSM-IV, our current shared diagnostic language, is that a large and growing body of evidence demonstrates that it does a poor job of capturing either clinical [or] biological realities. In the clinic, the limitations of the current DSM-IV approach can be illustrated in three salient areas: (1) the problem of comorbidity, (2) the widespread need for “not otherwise specific (NOS)” diagnoses, and (3) the arbitrariness of diagnostic thresholds.

Both in clinical practice and in large epidemiological studies, it is highly likely that any patient who receives a single DSM-IV diagnosis will, in addition, qualify for others, and the patient’s diagnostic mixture may shift over time. There is a high frequency of comorbidity—for example, many patients are diagnosed with multiple DSM-IV anxiety disorders and with DSM-IV dysthymia (chronic mild depression), major depression, or both. Many patients with an autism–related diagnosis are also diagnosed with, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The frequency with which patients receive multiple diagnoses far outstrips what would be predicted if co-occurrence were happening simply by chance. Researchers who have made careful studies of comorbidity, such as Robert Krueger at the University of Minnesota, have found that co-occurring diagnoses tend to form stable clusters across patient populations, suggesting to some that the DSM system has drawn many unnatural boundaries within broader psychopathological states.

If the concept of mental illness does “a poor job of capturing either clinical [or] biological realities” then how, exactly, is it an advance over the concept of demonic possession?

Two thousand years ago the Gospel authors were well aware of the problem of comorbidity and, in fact, mention it no less than twice.

In the introduction to the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Luke we read

Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out (NIV)

and in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke we read (variations of) the story of the Gadarene Swine. It’s one of my favourites.

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (NIV)

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (NIV)

We all have demons and we often refer to them in animistic terms.

Me, I’m intimately familiar with the Black Dog. Depression’s a bitch, for sure. Thank God, she’s been sent packing and I haven’t seen her in a while. But my mind’s still holiday home to a menagerie of monkeys.

Psychiatric counselling and psychiatric drugs can and do help those afflicted by so-called mental illnesses … somewhat. So I’m not knocking psychiatrists and psychiatry … much.

So, what about exorcism? I’ll leave that to another psychotic episode.

Cannabis should be given interim product approval


Cannabis should be given interim product approval

Herbal cannabis should be given immediate interim product approval under the Psychoactive Substances Act says Dr. Richard Goode, Vice President of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

His call follows the Ministry of Health’s admission that finalising the safety rules for the legal highs market was “taking longer than expected.”

In 2012 former Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, speaking on behalf of the current National government, promised that “if [manufacturers] cannot prove that a product is safe, then it is not going anywhere near the marketplace. None of these products will come to market if they have not been proven safe.”

“Instead, we are now six months into a an interim period, during which time a dozen or so different synthetic cannabinoids have been approved by the Ministry of Health. And now that interim period looks to stretch to up to a year,” Dr. Goode said.

“The point is that none of these products has yet been properly safety tested. We know nothing of their long-term, chronic health effects. How long do we continue to test these products on consumers before we find out?

“However, we know a great deal about the long-term effects of cannabis, which is the most popular illegal drug in New Zealand. These synthetic highs are specifically designed to emulate natural cannabis, which we know is a benign, low-risk plant substance.”

The ALCP exists to legalise cannabis for recreational, spiritual, medicinal and industrial purposes.

“Let’s legalise cannabis now, so the Ministry of Health can have all the time it needs to get its act sorted, and cannabinoid connoisseurs can continue to get high on the real deal,” Dr. Goode said.

“God made cannabis before man made synthetic cannabinoids. In whom do you trust?”

Dr. Richard Goode
Vice President of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Email: vp@alcp.org.nz
Phone: 021 340057

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party – Truth, Freedom, Justice


Peak Rand

I was saddened to read that Lindsay Perigo’s forum Sense of Life Objectivists (SOLO) has gone down.

Here‘s my SOLO blog. I posted and commented there between November 2007 and February 2013.

In the end, SOLO’s proprietor succumbed to GDS. (He may yet succumb to something momentous.)

I had two main gripes with SOLO and SOLOists.

They misrepresented me. From the outset.

And they misrepresented themselves as advocates and champions of Reason. Typically, SOLOists have no interest in, and no aptitude for, Reason. As my posts here, here and here amply demonstrate.

Anyway, Perigo insists that SOLO is down but not out. It will be back from the dead, perhaps even as soon as next month. I look forward to the resurrected SOLO.

Meanwhile, in other news from beyond the grave …


Philosopher contemplates ACT leadership role

A former lecturer in philosophy at Cambridge University wants to save the ACT Party and take over John Banks’ Epsom seat.

He’s Jamie Whyte, a management consultant, writer and committed advocate of the free market who has been living in Britain.

With Mr Banks on the way out, ACT is in the worst shape it’s ever been in and history hasn’t been kind to the party.

Now Mr Whyte wants to captain the sinking ship.

“Jamie Whyte does well to save himself, but he’s going to do his best to save ACT,” says Mr Whyte.

“I believe in the principles of ACT.”

A philosopher leading a libertarian party? It’s the best news I’ve heard all year!

A free PDF of Jamie Whyte’s Free Thoughts is available from the Adam Smith Institute here.

From what I’ve read so far, Whyte is surely the man to lead ACT back from oblivion.

(He makes some points with which I disagree, e.g., his Times column, I don’t believe that believers really believe, contains a number of egregious errors. Perhaps I’ll point them out to him and explain why they’re errors. I’m sure he’ll listen to Reason.)

Peak Prohibition


There are two kinds of recreational drug in this world.

Illegal ones and “legal highs”. (Once upon a time, New Zealand had a working, regulated “legal highs” market—in opium.)

In the year 1900 there were no illegal drugs in New Zealand but lots of anti-Chinese racist sentiment.

Here’s the story of the ascent of prohibition. (Partly told by the government funded Law Commission in Chapter 4 of the Law Commission’s Issues Paper on Regulating and Controlling Drugs.)

4.7 [The Opium Prohibition Act 1901] contained New Zealand’s first prohibition on drugs. It seems to have been directed primarily at Chinese immigrants. The Government at the time was concerned that the practice of opium smoking by Chinese migrants would spread if it was not banned. The Opium Prohibition Act prohibited the smoking of opium. It also prohibited the importation of opium in a form that was suitable for smoking. Although it did not prohibit other imports of opium, a permit issued by the Minister of Customs was needed before any opium could be imported or exported.

4.8 The Opium Prohibition Act discriminated against Chinese. Firstly, they could not obtain permits to import or export any opium at all. Secondly, the Act allowed the police to search premises occupied by Chinese without a warrant if they had reasonable cause to suspect that opium was being smoked in those premises. In contrast, the police had to obtain a search warrant before they could search other premises. After 1910, a Chinese person could not lawfully buy any opium at all without a doctor’s prescription or an authority from the Minister of Customs, while other people were still free to purchase opium without these restrictions.

4.9 The development of New Zealand’s drug law during the 20th century has largely been shaped by international drug conventions. International action aimed at controlling the distribution of opium and later other drugs began with the Shanghai Declaration in 1909 and the first Opium Convention at The Hague in 1912. New Zealand, along with many other countries, acceded to the Opium Convention after the First World War. The Opium Convention required parties to regulate the importation and distribution of opium and certain other drugs. New Zealand had already consolidated earlier legislation relating to opium in the Opium Act 1908, and implemented the Convention by extending the controls in the Opium Act to the importation and distribution of morphine, heroin, codeine and other opium preparations, and cocaine.

4.10 Later New Zealand also acceded to the International Convention relating to Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs 1924 and subsequent amending protocols. These required parties to impose controls on the manufacture, importation and exportation, sale and distribution of a growing range of drugs. In 1925, cannabis, which was known then as Indian hemp, was added to the list of drugs which countries adhering to the 1924 Convention agreed to control. Further international agreements and conventions during the subsequent years extended the range of substances that parties were required to control.

“The development of New Zealand’s drug law during the 20th century has largely been shaped by international drug conventions” is a very good summary, and so is “a growing range of drugs.”

New Zealand followed the International Convention relating to Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs 1924 by enacting the Dangerous Drugs Act 1927. New Zealand followed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 by enacting the Narcotics Act 1965. New Zealand followed the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 (and an amendment to the 1961 Single Convention) by enacting the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

We’ve suffered under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 ever since. The trend in the number of prohibited drugs has ever been to increase.

1901 – 1 prohibited drug (opium)
1908 – 5+ prohibited drugs (opium and its derivates, cocaine …)
1925 – 10+ prohibited drugs (opium and its derivates, cocaine, cannabis …)
1965 – 100+ prohibited drugs
1975 – 140+ prohibited drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 lists illegal drugs in three main schedules, the First Schedule (Class A), the Second Schedule (Class B) and the Third Schedule (Class C). As new recreational drugs came to market, they were added to the schedules. The number of prohibited drugs continued to increase.

The intent of the schedules to the Misuse of Drugs Act was to classify recreational drugs according to their harm. Penalties for possession and supply were set accordingly. For example, the maximum penalty for supplying Class A drugs is life imprisonment. For supplying Class B drugs it is 8 years inside, and for supplying Class C drugs it is a merely draconian 5 years in the clink.

However, the scheduling of drugs in the Misuse of Drugs Act bears little relationship to their actual risks.

4.31 As has been noted, the Blake-Palmer Committee recommended that drugs controlled by the Act be allocated to schedules that broadly reflect their relative potential to cause harm. Accordingly, drugs controlled by the Act have been classified as Class A, B or C and listed in Schedules 1, 2 or 3 respectively. An amendment to the Act in 2000 clarified that substances classified as Class A drugs are considered to pose a very high risk of harm, while Class B drugs pose a high risk, and Class C drugs a moderate risk. Another amendment in 2000 established the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, with the mandate to evaluate substances, assess their potential for harm against criteria set out in the Act, and recommend appropriate classifications.

4.32 Despite the changes in 2000, the classification of most controlled drugs already under the Act has never been reviewed. Only drugs that have been classified or reclassified since the Act was amended in 2000 have been assessed against the criteria for determining harm. Consequently the current classifications of a number of drugs may not accurately reflect current knowledge and understanding about their risks.

The last sentence is an understatement. There is little rhyme or reason to the scheduling in the Misuse of Drugs Act. For example, one of the safest known drugs is psilocin. It’s Class A.

Let’s be clear. Our political masters have never scheduled drugs according to their potential for harm. We know this, because no drug whose harms are known has ever been classified as posing less than a moderate risk of harm. No drug that poses a demonstrable low risk of harm has ever been classified as such. (Except, briefly, BZP.) Our political masters’ intent in the past has always been to schedule drugs – as A, B or C – regardless of their harm.

In 1986, the designer drug MDMA (the original “ecstasy”) was added to Class B. MDMA was by no means the first designer drug, but it became popular during the mid-’80s when the term ‘designer drug’ was coined. But, with the upsurge in the number of new designer drugs becoming available, legislators realised that they couldn’t keep up.

4.41 Another important amendment in 1988 introduced the concept of a controlled drug analogue. An analogue was defined as a substance that had a structure substantially similar to that of any controlled drug but was not itself listed in Schedules 1 or 2 or in Parts 1–7 of Schedule 3. Analogues were specifically listed in Part 7 of Schedule 3 and were consequently Class C drugs. However, only those analogues included in Part 7 were Class C controlled drugs under the Act. …

The Law Commission has this slightly wrong. Analogues were not specifically listed in Schedule 3. Rather, a formula was provided. For example, amphetamine analogues were covered by listing a number of chemical groups, such as bromo-, iodo-, methyl- and methoxy-. Attaching any of the specified groups at any position on the benzene ring of the amphetamine backbone automatically creates an amphetamine analogue. But what about unusual groups that aren’t listed?

… A subsequent amendment in 1996 amended the definition of Class C drug to include all controlled drug analogues, which dispensed with the need to list them in Part 7.

4.42 This amendment was made to address the emergence of new synthetic designer drugs that had been developed by subtle chemical changes to prohibited drugs as a way of avoiding the provisions of the Act. The definition of analogues has caught a number of substances that would otherwise have had to be separately scheduled.

The molecule below is 2-CT-7.


There are two methoxy groups attached to the benzene ring, but also a propylthio- group which wasn’t specified in the 1988 amendment. So, is 2-CT-7 a scheduled amphetamine analogue, or not, according to the 1988 formula? Is it a controlled drug analogue, or not, according to the 1996 amendment? 2-CT-7 certainly seems structurally similar to amphetamine, but is it really? In 2007, the Ministry of Health

suggested that it would be useful to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act by adding “and/or alkylthio radicals” to sub-section (d) under “Amphetamine Analogues”. Such an amendment would include 2C-T-7 in the definition of an amphetamine analogue.

Why go to the trouble of doing that? Just to make sure? The amendment was made.

4.43 While the inclusion of analogues addresses the issue of subtle changes in a drug’s chemistry, it does not address the emergence of new synthetic drugs with distinct chemistry. Such substances need to be separately assessed and classified before they come under the Act.

Peak prohibition. Are we there yet? You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of peak oil.

Peak oil, according to M. King Hubbert’s Hubbert peak theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.

Peak prohibition is the point in time at which the maximum rate of prohibition (drugs per year) is reached … or it’s the point in time at which the maximum proportion of drugs (number of illegal drugs to number of legal highs) is reached … or it’s the point in time at which the rate of prohibition surpasses the rate at which new designer drugs are invented.

By any yardstick, New Zealand reached peak prohibition in July 2013 with the passing of the prohibitionists’ ultimate wet dream, the Pyschoactive Substances Act. This Act criminalised the importation, manufacture and sale of all recreational drugs not otherwise already prohibited (or otherwise regulated)—thereby addressing “the emergence of new synthetic drugs with distinct chemistry.” In one fell legislative swoop, such substances no longer need to be separately assessed and classified before they come under legislative control.

9 Meaning of psychoactive substance
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, psychoactive substance means a substance, mixture, preparation, article, device, or thing that is capable of inducing a psychoactive effect (by any means) in an individual who uses the psychoactive substance.

The legal definition of psychoactive substance pretty much covers everything—including any “article, device, or thing”—that gets you high. Including brain implants, iPods and Bibles.

For about a week in July 2013, the only legally available non-prescription drugs in this country were

kava (a food)
caffeine (a food)

and a tiny handful of obscure foods that can get you high (e.g. nutmeg).

About a week after the Pyschoactive Substances Act passed, the first interim product approvals were granted. (See here for more.)

Are you still doing the same this year?

What have you achieved now you’re old?
Did you fulfill ambition, do as you were told?
Or are you still doing the same this year?
Should I give sorrow, or turn ’round and sneer?

I know that the prospects weren’t all that good
But they improved, and I’d have thought that you could
Have strived for that something we all have deep inside
Not let it vanish, along with your pride

Now with the aid of your new walking stick
You hobble along through society thick
And look mesmerized by the face of it all
You keep to the gutter in case you fall