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Notes from the May, 2000 Conference of the
California Association of Toxicologists

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MAPS wanted to get a couple of people to the meeting of the California Association of Toxicologists and so at the last minute Richard from (now CCLE) and I decided to fly down to LA on thursday evening to attend the day of their meeting dedicated to raves and rave drugs.

I had no idea what to expect. I could picture anything from foaming-mouthed hard line Drug Warriors to practical problem solvers to nerdy scientists. The organizer of the event was apparently interested in having (willing to have?) a few people from the 'harm reduction' community there and had agreed to allow Emanuel from DanceSafe a 5 minute slot to talk about his pill testing.

Overall I found the event very uplifting and positive. I spent a bunch of time during the social periods talking to attendees and ended up spending a great deal of time with one particular group of criminologists and toxicologists, perhaps some of the younger people there (young being 25-40). Generally the people I talked to were not rabid War On Drugs types at all, there were some who were "anti-drug", but this didnt seem to translate into an absolute belief in the current policies and most (all?) people I ended up talking to more than briefly expressed that they thought the current system had real problems and needed change.

One of the toxicology labs apparently has an office copy of PIHKAL and several of the people from the lab have read the book, so that was a fun topic of conversation.

As far as what these people mean to harm reduction, I dont know.

I think its possible that people working in these toxicology labs could very well be sympathetic to the goals of our groups: trying to collect data and figure out whats going on with the deaths. The toxicology associations might be good places to find someone who is willing to put in some time in reviewing data. Other than that, I dont think that toxicologists or criminologists are necessarily focused on the anthropology of use, so harm reduction seems to fall outside many of their areas.

Soo.. here is a blow by blow description of the event, basically all of my notes typed out and fleshed out with what i remember of it.. I keep remembering little snippets of data I want to include and then forgetting many of them before I actually get them written down.. ah well. I've decided to just let it live as it is instead of spending a lot of time editting it, I hope the casual style is readable as is. Feedback welcomed.

Thanks to the organizers for putting this on and being open enough to welcome me, emanuel, and richard.

Also, take a look at Richard's review of the conference here.


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