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Cocaine: The Threesome of Drugs.

by Terry Gotham

Cocaine. Even the word sets people off. Americans who have no intention of doing it know it’s associated with power, money and women (in that order). Movie after movie hypes the drug, tons of this stuff enter the country illegally every week and it’s been used to prosecute raves, venue owners & bring down parties for longer than electronic music has existed. It’s impossible to discuss dance music, parties or burner culture around the globe without bringing up cocaine. Even Burners talk about it being all over the playa, just like the rest of the world. The titrated/processed form of the coca leaf, traditionally chewed slowly throughout the day, has become the drug of choice for the busy, the arrived, the self-important and the “elite.” Even the Pope is bringing the difference between traditional & recreational usage to the forefront with his visit to Bolivia. As I’d said in an earlier article, I believe that people use cocaine as a marker of social status, possibly more than as the medium-grade stimulant it actually is. People who are really into stimulants move on to amphetamines, especially crystal meth pretty quickly, as the cost of maintaining a heavy cocaine habit is prohibitive for everyone not working at Goldman Sachs.  Cocaine has settled one one of the more advanced branches of recreational drug use in the party/burner/dance music community, frequently being paired with other drugs like alcohol, marijuana or opiates. It was sold commercially before the turn of the  last century as a tonic & “stimulating beverage,” but it was banned in 1914. One interesting tidbit is that in the 1860’s, a new beverage began being sold called Vin Tonique Mariani a la Coca de Peroum, Vin Mariani for short. You guessed it. Coke Wine. The potent combination between ground up coca leaves & Bordeaux swept across Europe and the world. Drinkers include Ulysses S. Grant, Sara Bernhardt, Jules Verne, William McKinley, Alexander Dumas & the Pope. The Pope liked it so much that the inventor was awarded a medal. The reason for its success is a little substance Cocaethylene.  This is a drug that shows up after your liver processes alcohol & cocaine, or what people who work in the finance sector of our economy call Wednesday. I mention this because I think it’s important to note that less than 150 years ago and in some circles of privilege & wealth to this day, this was THE THING for people leading the way. tumblr_n9niqqL4ra1qewacoo4_500Do I know people who have spent hours waiting for their little white bundles of joy to arrive? Of course. Do I personally think cocaine is sexy? Not really. Do I begrudge anyone their habit? Only if they can’t handle it, which, admittedly, is most people. Do I think people should do it in the same volume we ingest alcohol, THC, tobacco or caffeine? Hell no, but that’s not my decision or digestive tract. I think we need to start discussing the actual damage controlled substances do, especially potent dopamine system modifiers like cocaine & heroin. This is not to call for more restrictions while I clutch my pearls or to raise the cries of “Won’t you please think of the children,” as that’s not my purpose. I believe we’ve not been able to have a competent conversation about cocaine for 50 years, especially during the wackadoodle years of Reagan & Dubya’s dad. There is a population of people who safely use this stuff, it’s just much smaller than the number of people who crash & burn. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, including heart condition, if you work in the FIRE sector of the economy, socioeconomic status, how much of the year you spend in LA or Miami, self-confidence, genetics & how many sparkle ponies you camp with. I wonder how many more people could use it safely if the drug was pure & quality controlled by the FDA and they had a prescribing physician. I’d love to throw those numbers up next to Adderall or Oxycontin’s, just for kicks.tumblr_nj9mh47rQk1sby569o1_500The crack epidemic of the 80’s & 90’s, if framed properly, can be seen as a cautionary tale, heralding what we’re currently seeing with Molly replacing MDMA. Dealers, in an effort to save money, turned powder cocaine into crack, by cooking it with “who knows what” and selling it to you. People also “stepped on” the powder cocaine people buy, mixing in other substances, which led to overdoses & deaths. Today, you’ve got tens of thousands of people, all across the country, who are less educated, less wealthy, doing the stepped on version of the pure drug they’re seeing. Sound familiar? Just imagine how fucked it would be if the penalties for doing “Molly” were 100x the penalties that were handed down to individuals caught doing pure/crystalline MDMA. That sounds idiotic, but for anyone who doesn’t know, that was the law of the land for more than 20 years. Crack/Cocaine sentencing disparities combined with mandatory minimum sentencing laws send tens of thousands of people to jail for years, even decades, just because they were found with a rock or two on their person. Those disparities still exist, but are only 18:1, which is awful if you think about it for more than a moment or two. Interestingly, during fashion week in NYC, coke is back in, not because it’s so desired, but because all of the mdma/molly is dirty. (Reminder that there’s a lot of work still to be done guys.)These penalties would make sense if it was some potentially “life-wrecking” experience like DMT or Ayahuasca or Peyote, as the DEA tells us. But, as most people find out, it’s a little underwhelming, especially if you’re not a 1% goon with access to bowls of it. It’s just another experience, usually fraught with anxiety and drama between friends. This is why one of the smartest ladies I know has started referring to it as the “threesome” of drugs. Some people are able to have the experience semi-regularly without it ruining their lives, but most people don’t come out winners after those nights. Emotional breakdowns, problems getting it up and weapons-grade paranoia & jealousy are what most people report, the occasional explosively amazing experience not withstanding. Our culture idolizes people who have had them (coke-filled nights, threesomes) because it gives them an air of having “arrived.” But, it’s just more stuff to worry about. Which is the reason why we need to be honest about what damage coke actually does, as opposed to demonizing it as this “one hit = crack addict” propaganda I was raised on.  Just like how high school kids try pot and instantly realize the gov’t has been lying to them, adults try cocaine and think the same thing. There is no way to keep profits from the cocaine trade out of the hands of the worst people in the world while it’s illegal. So where do we go from here? Besides freeing the tens of thousands of non-violent drug offenders (which is a given if you’re a human), how do we move to a place where people aren’t oppressed for using a drug, even one they may not be able to use safely? Use #BlowFF to join ravelrie, Stay Safe Seattle, NY DanceSafe & me on Twitter July 10th at 1:30pm PST to talk about the drug and its effects. There’s a lot more going on than just what you see at the movies and on playa. Let us know what you think.  

12 comments on “Cocaine: The Threesome of Drugs.

  1. To me, it seems the real issues are dirty drugs and violent dealers. Yes, some people will crash and burn on just about anything, for a variety of reasons, and they need help. At the same time, there are many people who can use recreational drugs responsibly. Who should be getting punished and who should be profiting?

    A competent conversation about drug use must begin by accepting that fact that some people like getting high. Should they go to prison for it? I don’t think so. Should violent cartels profit from it. Absolutely not. By making pure sources available to the adult public, with certain restrictions (like alcohol and weed), we, as a culture/species may be able to facilitate safe, responsible recreational drug use without funding criminal organizations.

    Is cocaine a stats symbol? Certainly. Would it remain that way if it were clean, inexpensive and dispensed responsibly? Probably not. The forbidden fruits are coveted because they are forbidden. Treating cocaine and other recreational drugs as just that, something some people do occasionally, for fun, may be the first step in eliminating the violence and profiteering that encourage all of there negatives associated with drug use.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The unnecessarily dangerous people associated with, and drawn to, illegal substances trafficking is why I have learned to avoid it since my first experiences in HS.

      Don’t fool yourself: the “wrong people” and illegal drugs are inseparable. You can reduce your risk through consistent effort, but as long as you are operating outside the realm of law, all normal safety bets are off. I learned that lesson a long, long time ago. Not worth the risk. After decades and trillions of dollars, the US has proven that the only solution is legalization. Until then, using illegal drugs is an operant selection process to thin the gene pool. Pass the single malt this way.

      Like

  2. Never done coke on the playa, although I can see how it would be enjoyable. Maybe plan one night to do it and bring enough for 4 or 5 bumps. Like anything else, would be fun as long as you’re not stupid about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll do a line or two as long as I know the person doesn’t have too much more, or has his dealer on speed dial.

    I used to bring 3 grams out to BM every year, and I finally got tired of having bullshit conversations at 100 MPH while everyone was grinding their jaws, then the inevitable trip back to camp to do more. It was like doing cocaine at Burning Man, rather than being at Burning Man doing cocaine.

    A head full of coke makes people, myself included, weird. Then you have to deal with the hangover and unlike alcohol, you remember EVERYTHING you said so you have the emotional hangover/regret to deal with also.

    A line or two is fine. Maybe people can handle their coke better than I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t understand what your message is. Cocaine is horrible but let people do it? Your anecdotal evidence about how most people crash and burn doing cocaine isn’t convincing, data? I know way more relatively unaffected casual users than addicts/burn outs. I’m not saying it’s good for you but people can do it every once in awhile and be fine. It isn’t nearly as dramatic as you portray it. Drugs are a matter of preference, yours obviously isn’t cocaine. You said you want to have a competent conversation about cocaine, prove it….by doing this line
    ..,.,,,,.,.,.,.,,,.,.,,..,,..,…

    And this one too, buddy

    ..,..,.,.,,,.,,,..,,.,..,.,.,.,..,.,

    And just one more for the road

    …..,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,..,,,,.

    Liked by 1 person

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