Can we have some sort of official ruling on this issue, or just reopen these threads?

Ok I will follow your advice and start a thread here. Though I’m not expecting much to come of it.
Ok I know it is dificult to make a rule across the board, that will cover every possible scenario, but I think it is obvious that these threads should not have been closed. I think Rico was clearly in the wrong in his decision to close the threads, as he totally misinterpreted the current rules on this issue.

I cannot see how in anyone’s opinion either of the closed threads promoted anything illegal. Or if you feel they do I can tell you there are a lot of other threads that need closing:
I don’t see how this doesnt promote drug use, and yet it remains open.

Rico was called on his decision in this thread, and replied to the thread an amazing one time.

These are the threads in question that Rico closed, that most in the pit thread came to the conclusion were closed erroneously:

I think if any mod/administrator looks at the two closed threads, and reads the pit thread they will agree that the threads should be reopened.

Browsing through some of Rico’s posts I came upon this gem that not only is about drugs, marijauna and how long it stays in the body, which magically stayed open, and yet my thread asking how long processed cocaine stays good for, or does it have something like an expiration date, which doesnt even involve someone having to take it, unlike the marijauna thread, but someone also posted a link to a website to circumvent the law and the thread remained open, that is total bullshit.

Threads regarding illegal substances and/acts are tough judgment calls.

On the one hand we want you to be able to discuss most anything here.

On the other, we can’t allow unfettered discussions that go into illegalities, see in the rules "You agree not to post material that in our opinion fosters or promotes activity that is illegal in the U.S. "

We do tend to err on the side of caution.

I glanced through the thread in question earlier, it also seemed to foster an urban legend about officers tasting drugs. No one does that, it’s the stuff of television.

We also try not to contribute to the growth of urban legends, so I could see closing the thread and leave it be.

I would recommend you tease out the parts of the query that can be discussed without running afoul of illegalities or urban legends and start a new thread . . . mindful that if it tips over into one or the other it’s likely to be closed.

That way you can discuss what you need, we can be protective of the board as we need, and everybody’s happy.


In the interest of fighting ignorance, is closing the thread really the appropriate measure? I would think posting cites that debunk the urban legend would do more to fight ignorance than simply stopping discussion.

I completely agree.

But at least a valuable lesson has been learned. The posting rules are so much window-dressing. Moderators can ignore them at their will. It clearly behoves us to study the foibles of each individual moderator and use these as our posting guidelines in future.

There is an urban legend that cops are not allowed to ingest drugs under any circumstances, which they actively promote because it leads many people to believe that you can tell if someone is a cop or not by offering them drugs and seeing if they take it (this is also why the “Cops have to admit they are cops if you ask” legend continues to exist). Undercover police officers are allowed to take illegal drugs if they can claim that they fear their life would be in danger if they refused, or in some cases if it is deemed necessary for their investigation. The people saying that police officers never taste drugs under any circumstances may be trying to promote this urban legend.

Tasting drugs is not something that is done as an official test to see if it is real or not, but tasting is used to discern rough quality by illegal drug buyers with a number of drugs, and a police officer who was making a buy as a part of an undercover assignment might very well taste a sample to maintain cover. I’m sure that a few police officers have used the taste test in non-undercover situations as well to determine what they have confiscated, but it is not standard procedure.

Bolding mine:

With all due respect, I don’t understand how some of the threads in the OP can be shut down while the pot-smoking poll remains open despite the fact that several posters claim that they still indulge in smoking pot and how it mellows them out, etc. This would seem to be “material that . . . fosters or promotes activity that is illegal in the U.S.” Consistency would be nice, as would a specific policy about illegal drugs.

If this board is truly about fighting ignorance, then it seems ridiculous to shut down a thread merely because it has presented an urban legend as fact. By locking it, you prevent anyone else from coming along with informative, ignorance-fighting posts such as Paxton Fettel’s post, above.

My feeling is that either the current rule should be enforced as written, or there should be a new rule saying “No discussions of drugs, period.” The latter seems to be what some mods are enforcing, while still paying lip service to the former. It’s confusing and annoying.

I’m glad you opened this, pool. I did want to get a ruling on this issue, but I was reluctant to bring it to ATMB myself.

For me, this is not about that one particular thread. I have no particular concern about whether it is reopened or not. In my opinion, it was within the rules, but since the question had more or less been answered (drugs taste like crap) little harm was done in closing it.

There is a broader issue here, in that Rico’s stated rationale for closing the thread, made in the current Pit thread, seems to me to contradict the official posting guidelines concerning illegal drugs. If Rico had stated that he closed the thread because it was stupid, or because he thought it had been answered sufficiently and there was a risk that it would attract inappropriate posts, I would not have an issue with it. (I also want to be explicit that I do not mean this as a criticism of Rico, only that that there seems to be a conflict between his rationale and the posting guidelines.)

From the Sticky on Posting Guidelines in ATMB:

Bolding mine.

This is Rico’s stated rationale, from the current Pit thread:

Although tasting illegal drugs is illegal, so is any other method of ingesting them (as well as merely possessing them). Therefore it is impossible to discuss the effects of illegal drugs without technically discussing illegal activity, at least according to Rico’s stated rationale. You can’t really discuss illegal drugs without discussing drug use.

In view of this, I would like to request a formal ruling on which of these two alternatives might be correct:

**1. Discussion of the effects of illegal drugs is permitted. Such discussion is permitted even if the means of ingesting these drugs, whether orally, nasally, rectally, or by injection, is illegal.

  1. Discussion of the effects of illegal drugs is not permitted. It is prohibited because ingesting drugs is itself illegal.**

There may be some other alternative that I am missing here.

This issue is of particular concern to me because as a biologist, and SDSAB Staff Member, this is the kind of question I sometimes can offer an expert opinion on. If one comes up, I would like to know whether I may answer it freely, or should report it.

I also would like to stress that I don’t particularly care which of these two alternatives is decided to be correct. Although I would prefer that discussion of the effects of drugs be permitted, if the admin decides to ban such discussions I have no problem with it. I would suggest, however, that if the latter is the case that the Guidelines be amended to make this explicit.

Wait… I was the OP of that thread and cops didn’t even cross my mind when I started it. It was one of the replies that started talking about cops tasting. Are you seriously suggesting that a thread can be closed if one of the replies advocates an urban legend?

The interesting part, AFAIK, is that drug use isn’t illegal in most US jurisdictions, possession is. Of course, kinda hard to do the former without the latter, but they are distinct. So technically talking about the coke you snorted 3 days ago should be legally OK, but that can quickly devolve into discussion of truly illegal activities.

That is the problem though, mods have been inconsistent with their rulings, as our examples have shown. A poll in which posters talk about current use remains open even though it could be seen as promoting use, while a question about the taste of a drug, and nothing else is closed. Perhaps instead of closing the thread a Mod could just edit the question for the OP so it can stay open, if there is no other option, and the OP wishes to keep it open. I don’t like this solution, but it seems like the only one that could work if there is no consistency.

IANaL but AFAIK being under the influence of a controlled substance can be/is illegal, and having a controlled substance in your body can be/is possession.

CMC fnord!

Straight Dope Staff Report: Why do cops in movies taste cocaine?

So that report debunks cops tasting drugs. Okay, but what about the fact that the op posted this:


To me, the larger issue is that the general default attitude ought to be “When in doubt, leave thread open and discuss with other moderators and/or the board at large”, and not “When in doubt, lock the thread”.

In a really fundamental way, the SDMB is and always has been a “frontier” environment, not a no-holds-barred free-for-all but one in which restrictions are imposed parsimoniously for highly specific reasons.

And this is (IMHO, obviously) as it should be.

How many times does one have to ask for clarification before some admin makes a decision? Jesus!

You misspelled “irrational inconsistency.”

Forgot to post the link for this:

I don’t see anyway in hell that Rico or anyone else could justify why this thread remained open, while mine was closed.

I have a feeling that Rico will be a little gunshy about closing such threads in the future. My hope is that somebody has quietly taken him aside and explained the rules to him.

Thus, no public admission of the error, but no repeat of it either.

We shall see.