RTFA: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=6c7_1232290490

This footage was prepared recently by a citizen-journalist / advocate in Vancouver. Contrary to what one might think, it’s a pretty good PSA for crack addicts wanting to manage their addiction … and it’s apparently legal, too.

When it comes to drug legalization, there are a few approaches. Harm reduction, for example, makes the argument that the purpose of public policy is to reduce harm, and that any policy that creates more problems than it solves isn’t actually successful. There’s decriminalization, which is essentially driven by voter initiative. There’s rescheduling, which seeks to alter the definition of a drug so that it no longer meets certain criteria for enforcement. There’s the medicinal movement, which seeks to alter access to certain drugs on the basis of their beneficial qualities. One of the features that all of these techniques share is that they directly address currently illegal drugs, and attempt to directly argue that these drugs should not be illegal.

…and then there’s this guy from Vancouver, who has created a Jonathan Swift-esque Modest Proposal, of sorts. Essentially, our Vancouver Videographer has created a tutorial that illustrates how to take plain coffee, combine it with a household cleanser, and end up with a super-pure, smokable form of caffeine. Essentially, his challenge to policymakers is this: criminalize coffee. Naturally, after coffee is criminalized will inevitably come the next food that can be purified, and so on… This is the argument of absurdity (reductio ad absurdum); how ridiculous could we theoretically make policy before policy has become too absurd to take seriously?

Some people will doubtless be shocked that the Vancouver Videographer suggests selling it on the school playground with the name “black magic,” but he insists that it must be sold with the disclaimer that it is legal to sell. Of course, anyone who is shocked by the suggestion is clearly missing the point of the video. In A Modest Proposal, Swift never advocated for cannibalism, and he would probably have been disgusted if people actually ate the children as a result of his proposal. On the contrary, people ought to be shocked by what is currently criminalized.

Personally, I love this message, but I’m not about to freebase some coffee. I would suggest that a more direct route to smokable caffeine would be to purchase chemically pure caffeine, rather than using the coffee method depicted in the video. I’ve heard that United Nuclear is a good source, but I’ve never purchased from them, and I make no warranties. Although this does have me thinking about some possibilities, let me reiterate: making freebase caffeine isn’t the point of the video.

I’d venture that all anyone really needs to hear are the words “freebase caffeine” and they are less than an hour from actually making it a reality. The knowledge is already out there, and a video tutorial isn’t a necessary step to making your own freebase caffeine. Any process that can be explained in 120 seconds is childishly simple, so it’s not like this video is the groundbreaking source of some “great new technique.”

What is groundbreaking, however, is the suggestion that we could criminalize everything simply by showing how easy it is to transform it into a “scary form.” Hot peppers, for example, are well known for their accompanying endorphin rush – perhaps peppers aren’t too far behind coffee? In fact, someone could just walk down the aisles of a supermarket and identify which products, fruits, and vegetables have any conceivable potential for becoming “scarier.” Why not create an act stipulating that nothing, whatsoever, can be sold in a store unless it has first been confirmed that it could never be made into a scary form?

Because it is absurd.

If it is plain to see why this line of reasoning is absurd, then we need to work backwards to figure out where this absurd line of reasoning began, and then remedy the situation so that it is no longer absurd.

[UPDATE 2009-01-20]
Since there is question about whether or not anyone has ever done this, I submit for your evaluation the following Erowid report:

I recently bought a bottle of ‘stacker 2′ pills. I really like these pills taken orally but I find that the excessive amount of caffeine (200mg) is a bit much for me. It also contains several vitamins, herbs, etc–but most importantly, ma huang extract (standardized 25mg ephedrine). I decided to do what the cigarette companies do to tobacco in order to convert the nicotine salt into a freebase–soak it in ammonia. I opened up one of the capsules onto a glass dish, added 5ml household clear ammonia via medicine dropper, ‘cut’ with razor blade until capsule contents were fully saturated, and let soak for approx. 1 hour. Next, I evaporated the ammonia in the microwave, scraped up sticky goo (light brown in color, almost rubbery but sticky when rolled into a ball), and smoked through my trusty bowl. That was bout two hours ago. Since then, have taken about 7 hits of the pharmaceutical-tasting lump…

Obviously, RTFA. I take two things from this report:
1) the guy lived
2) the caffeine was hard to disambiguate from the ephedrine (which he also freebased).

So, this doesn’t strictly mean it’s safe to do, but there is more that you can read about the topic…

[/UPDATE]

  • characterzero

    Ban all lettuce from our salads and sandwiches, it contains the scheduled LSA, thanks IDM

  • farkinga

    Ever heard of the carbon tax? …they won’t get you on the way in,
    but they will charge you for what you exhale! Hyperventilating won’t
    be a cheap high for long!

  • fumf

    hyper-ventilating gets you high too… damn sinful oxygen!

  • placidwater

    free basing is for losers. what ever happened to good old fashioned intravenous administration? pussies.

  • http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/ Douglas Willinger

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/20

    I have been writing about this for years since 1987 when I became conscious of the evil of cocaine prohibition and the dopes who say that 'cocaine' is a bad drug rather then what it got bastardized into.

    The above link contains links to my various papers, including the three published by the DPF during the early 1990s.

  • yet another

    looking for something scary .. ban almonds and peaches because cyanide can be made from them .

  • http://www.white.co.uk/implants.html Henry

    Why not prohibit substance that will affect badly to your healthy body? I love to live and I love to be healthy.

  • http://www.smithmountainhomes.com smith mountain lake

    Drug is always the danger for human health so if we avoid harmful drugs then it is better for our health. Very good article.

    Thanks

  • http://www.indianprofits.com/ Jeevan Saral

    Now all the things around are bad and people are getting worse with the problems that are created.

  • http://www.koekkener-koekkener.dk/ Køkkener

    ^ that is true ;)

  • JoeAnne11

    I could never agree with drug legalization. It scares me only when I hear about the idea of legalized marijuana and things like that. I think about my children and I do not want to see them high or stoned all the time, with the reason that drugs are legal.

  • farkinga

    @JoeAnne11:

    Thanks for your comment. You discussed two things here: legalization
    and use.

    I completely understand where you're coming from when you say you
    don't want to see your kids using drugs. On that basis, you should
    seek the most effective way to prevent them from using drugs. You
    need to recognize that the best way to accomplish that goal is to
    support regulation. Your kids will have access to cannabis long
    before they have access to alcohol, and this is the sole reason:
    alcohol is regulated and cannabis isn't.

    Call it legalization if you want, but regulation is the best way to
    eliminate black markets while simultaneously limiting access to legal
    adults. Prohibition fails on both counts. In fact, the strongest
    opponents of legalization are drug dealers, because they would have to
    get jobs if their products were legalized. As a parent, you need to
    say, “I will no longer support drug dealers. Instead, I will support
    regulation.” That's right – it's you and the drug dealers, united by
    a common interest.

    Really, I don't think you support drug dealers, but you need to
    realize that your actions actually do have that effect.

    Try this for me: think about your kids trying alcohol, and then try to
    argue that we should criminalize alcohol in order to prevent them from
    trying alcohol. Of course, there is a constitutional amendment
    repealing the prohibition of alcohol, but ignore the constitution for
    a moment. Do you think we would be better off with alcohol
    prohibition, and the organized crime and violence that came with
    it? …or, are you more comfortable with the knowledge that we saved
    lives by legalizing alcohol, and you now enjoy the additional comfort
    of knowing your kids will be old enough before they can try alcohol?

    To sum it up, it's fine to say you don't want your kids to try drugs.
    However, that is totally different from saying you don't want anyone
    anywhere to try drugs, and you need to recognize all of the
    consequences that precipitate from that difference.

  • joeannehasnoclue

    How fucking sad are you people? Marijuana is a plant, like lettuce. Seeing as marijuana is no longer just that, it isn't good anymore. Legalize it and have set growers and then you're smoking good shit.

  • http://www.easyrecovery.co.uk data recovery

    Caffeine is really harmful for health and if banned it would be a good news.

  • Vote For Legalisation

    What so if it was legal they would be high or stoned all the time? Kinda like alcohol is legal and they are drunk all the time? Inconsiderate Bitch. Think of all the beneficial effects of medicinal marijuana.

  • DrugLord

    Some people should really visit some rehab programs to see addicted people there. After you see them, I dare you to go smoke or take any drugs if you still have the courage for that.

  • farkinga

    Thanks for commenting. I wonder if you've ever seen anyone recover from a car crash? Pretty terrible sight. Makes you want to never start driving a car in the first place.

    Ever see a South American democracy collapse? You should. After you see that, I dare you to vote in 2012 (if you still have the courage).

    Here's a real idea for you: accept a little moderation into your life. You CAN drive a car without ending up in a painful recovery process. Some people will get into terrible crashes, and often times, the crash is a result of bad decisions that person made. This doesn't mean the car is bad, and it doesn't mean the person is bad. It doesn't mean we should criminalize the car so that no one can use it, and it doesn't mean we should put the driver in jail (unless they actually killed someone with their car). We don't arrest the car dealer or the manufacturer, and we don't criminalize street-building and associated industries.

    Cars are dangerous and can kill people. …and yet we live with the risk, because the benefits outweigh the risks, as we currently perceive them. Funny, that, since our perceptions are changing such that many of the cars we found acceptable in the 1970s are far too polluting for current tastes.

    So here it is: drug addiction is bad, m'kay? This isn't the argument we're having, because we don't disagree about it. The argument we're having is about abstinence or prohibition, and you seem to believe that witnessing examples of gluttonous overindulgence (i.e. the recovering drug addict) will somehow challenge people to not try in the first place. It's a noble thought, and the very fact that you think this is an effective deterrent suggests that you have no idea how many people can casually use drugs without becoming dependent.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that god is your drug. If you're born again, then you might recall how long it took you to become addicted. It wasn't overnight, was it? You kindof had to work on your addiction – buy into it as a lifestyle – and someone had to invest some time in you before you became an addict. Now, you might think to yourself, “I wish everyone were addicted to god!!!” but you recognize how much work is involved in actually making everyone an addict. Don't fool yourself – it takes a lot of work to become addicted to other drugs too. I know from experience. I tried for months to become addicted to cigarettes, and I hated it so much that it “never took.” Oh well.

    I know the temptation is to read these words and dismiss them, but if you actually care about your position, then I'm basically reaching out to you, saying: revise your methods. Most of all, reject fear as a tactic – fear of drug rehab is a terrible argument in the first place. I hope I made it sound absurd enough by comparing it to cars and democracy, but here's another one. “Look at this person dying from Ebola. It's terrible. Never visit Africa, or else you might end up like this!”

    Let me close with a link to harm reduction. If you care about people, then read about this.

  • Anonymous

    What's the point of smoking with ammonia? Ammonia is volatile and it irritates the lungs. Use baking soda or better yet sodium carbonate, it'll work the same.

  • Jacksamuelsen

    This guy isn't exactly Jonathan Swift. People didn't read a Modest Proposal and then eat babies. Who do you really think is watching this video? For an average teenager trying freebase caffeine once isn't absurd and the availablity only makes it more tempting. The guy comes off glib, not like he's making satirical commentary. Either he's just sharing a cheap high, a hoaxer, or really misguided.