Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.

Drugs are illegal, talking about them isn’t. But perhaps this should change? Recently, there has been increasing support in the UK to legalise drugs. Evidence suggests that the legalisation of drugs would in fact reduce crime and reduce drug related deaths. Obviously, this needs to be done properly, and not by our current government and it’s ham-fisted approach to just about everything. Of course, there will always be those that are against policy change, and those that are in favour of it, especially with a subject title as sensitive and controversial as this. Either way, it definitely needs to be looked into by governments, not just in this country, but in countries around the world. I think if something like this was successful, it could have the potential to be a giant stepping stone in humanity’s social liberal evolution. 
Not very many people are aware of this, but in 2001 drugs were decriminalised in Portugal as part of an experiment to see what affect it would have on a society as big as a county. Decriminalisation means that the taking of drugs doesn’t carry a punishment, however, possession with intent to supply and trafficking still does. What they did was change drugs into a matter of public health, instead of treating it as a criminal matter. 
Instead of punishing drug users, they are offered therapy and medical help to be able to reform. 10 years on, there is evidence to suggest that this has worked. There was an instant reduction and sustained drop in the negative effects of drugs use. However, conflicting evidence suggests that the use of some drugs has actually increased. It could be argued that this ‘increase of use’ that was seen, was merely just an increase in the amount of people who had just tried drugs.
Contrary to popular belief, drugs are illegal in Holland. They just don’t enforce the law onto the Cafe’s that sell them. Their policy on drugs is similar to Portugal’s - to offer aid and support to those that need it. In 1998, the Dutch Government opened special clinics where Heroin addicts can go to satisfy their addictions in safe, clean environments, with the use of clean needles and under the watchful supervision of specialised staff that would be able to offer instant medical support in the event of an emergency. 
As afore mentioned, there will always be those that don’t think that these are good ideas. And I can see how they wouldn’t be. From the outside it can look like drug users are being encouraged to use. But evidence from Holland suggests that Heroin use has decreased.
It would seem that giving addicts proper, sustained support to overcome their problem is the answer, rather than hitting them with criminal charges, throwing them in prison and forcing Methadone down their necks. 
Obviously education needs to be offered along side this support. The education needs to be implemented at schools from an early age. Good education. Implemented into the national syllabus of schools. When I was at school, the only ‘education’ I ever got about drugs was from private workshops that toured the country offering quite an intensive and dramatic lessons on drugs, but these were rare, seen once a year, at the most. But to compliment these, all we got from the school itself was the odd lesson of “Drugs are bad, don’t do them”. Which in my opinion, was shit. Mmmmkay.
Ultimately, it would be good to see all addictive drug use to be eradicated - with people only dabbling their hand for the odd recreational venture. But this isn’t likely in my lifetime.
What I think that a lot of people fail to understand, is the impact of their demand for illegal drugs has on foreign countries. Want to avert your eyes to Brazil? Columbia? Afghanistan?
If drug laws were liberalised here, then they would be ultimately liberalised there too. The only reason why there is a “Drug War” is because they are illegal. Thousands of people are killed in the Drug War every year because countries such as the US put massive pressure on Brazil and Columbia to eradicate the drug trade. Obviously, because these countries don’t want to be on the wrong end of the United States political and military whip they pull out all the stops to remove and disrupt the drug trade emanating from their country. As is always the case with criminal gangs, the harder the government push them, the harder they resist and fight back. It’s a vicious circle that needs to stop. It’s quite abundantly clear that this tactic isn’t working. It hasn’t worked for the past three or four decades, why would it suddenly work now? Has human intelligence not learnt that battles of attrition don’t work - because the weaker side will always go underground and play a game of Guerillas and Super Powers. 
Apparently an interesting read on the subject is offered by a book called: Drug Crazy: How we got into this mess and how we can get out. I can’t vouch for it, as I haven’t actually read it. But I have heard good reviews from a few different sources.

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