In yet another late night conversation with my housemate/now life partner, inevitably I found myself embroiled in a discussion about drugs. Whether I love them or hate them is not the point, and not the focus of this discussion. Everyone has had some sort of experience with narcotics, and of course everyone has brought away from these experiences different ideas, especially about the place that they should have in our society. As a teenage tearaway I had the usual attitude towards drugs, especially cannibis, which was that they should be legalised (how very unoriginal). However, as time went on and I was able to see first hand how these plants, pills and powder effected the people around me, my liberal leaning wavered somewhat. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for personal choice (and believe me I had no problem with defiance), and in an ideal world we should all be allowed to do whatever tickles our giblets, but it seemed to me that legalizing these intoxicants would send out the wrong message to usually law-abiding youngsters.
I'm very dubious when it comes to politics, and I definitely don't have a lot of faith in the people in powers' ability to control such a situation with any degree of rationality. The effects of drugs can be huge, both positively and negatively, and peoples' lives can be changed beyond recognition over night by even a slight indulgence. My view was (although that I do aspire to be flexible and listen to others' viewpoints) that it would be wrong for drugs on mass to be decriminalised, due to the widescale effects that this could bring. I would now like to openly change my mind on this subject, due in part to the discussions that I have had with my friend on the subject, and perhaps deeper ponderance. Drugs should be legalised. Obviously this is not a move that I think should be instantly implemented, nor one that should be undertaken lightly, but it is definitely a decision that needs to be made. In order for there to be a greater understanding (a concept that seems to bewilder the majority of people, I have found) about the effects that drugs can have on the people that take them, and consequentially the people around them, we must strive to provide a more comprehensive education for everyone, other than the "certain death" rhethoric that seems to plague every story about narcotics. The effects of drugs are not all bad. If they were then surely the tales of the first adventurers to consume them would have served up a much more hard hitting message than any that could be formulated by some sociologist with a governmental advertising budget. These positive aspects of drug-taking should be shared with everyone, closely followed by a more comprehensive guide to the downsides of drug-taking. To simply patronise the next generation with videos implying that one line of coke is going to hook you for life or that one disco biscuit is going to send you straight to the morgue is no longer sufficient. In order to really win this "war on drugs", we must stop pretending that they are not a part of every day life, and indeed every day people, and promote knowledge on the subject. If this education is not provided, and resources are applied only to stopping distribution, then how are we really going to be able to help the people whose lives are being massively effected by drugs? To demonize something that, quite frankly, EVERYONE is going to try in one form or another, is to cause further segregration, fear and ignorance in our society. The general public has to appreciate that drugs are something that happens to people (cheers Jez), and they don't necessarily have to be people who live in a recylcing bin or whose parents didn't love them enough. The hypocrisy in this area is quite unbelievable, but then again not really. How are we going to overcome these fears that have been imposed on us without a radical rethink of how to approach them? It should not just be left up to Frank when it all goes wonkily, pear-shaped at 6 in the morning.
People are going to take intoxicants regardless of what laws are in place to stop them from doing so (I mean shit, its not as if the vitamin D provided by the sun in this country is going to give us a spring in our step). Curiousity is the mistress that pinches everyones backside and, in a time where the government is desperate for us all to sheath-up, shouldn't we all be equipped with the information thats going to afford us the opportunity to make an informed decision? Without such knowledge and understanding, the unfortunate people who suffer from drug addiction or battle with drug-related mental illness will continue to be ostracised and outlined as creating a problem for the whiter-than-white general public. The media has a lot to answer for in this debate (but thats another subject altogether), but surely there has to be a counter to all the misinformation that is being bandied around...
Don't get me wrong, I would never advocate drug-taking or encourage people to parttake in such activities but I do believe that people should at least be allowed to make up their own minds about it. If the government was to make the decision (something that will never happen, but this is my party so I'll cry if I want to) to legalise all drugs, then time could be spent instilling a base of knowledge in people, aside from the unfortunate circumstances of raving-casulty Lea Betts, and less time filling out arrest reports. Drugs have a myriad of effects, both positive and negative, and it should be a priority of the powers to be to make everyone aware of them. The unknown is a lot darker prospect.
2 years ago