Friday, 9 March 2012

War on Drugs - part 3

This is an unedited email from Ali Jackson who gave me permission to print.

I thought it was a thoughtful post and again is on the side of legalising.

 I am amazed at how many people have taken the time out to write in length so it deserved to be shown. 

Here it is|

 Even in Afghanistan, a country occupied by the armies of Europe and the USA for a decade the production of opium has not been stopped. The countries of south and central America have been torn apart by violence and the billions of dollars spent by successive administrations in the USA has failed to stop the production of cocaine, marijuana etc. Why is this? It's for the simple reason that when there is a commodity worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year, if there is no legal framework to regulate its supply and distribution then the market is driven into the hands of people who have to use violence and destruction in order to protect and expand their business. They can hardly rely on the law to come to their aid if being intimidated by a rival for example and so an arms race and increasing levels of violence prevail.

The retail end of the market is even more seriously affected by the lack of a legal framework, from the barely existent quality control with substances being cut and the arrival of unknown compounds in the case of so called designer drugs, to the marketing of drugs to young people by retailers who want them as their customers, again totally unregulated.

Think about the ban on advertising junk food during children's tv, an example of a market regulator (ofcom) stepping in to control an aspect of the retailers behaviour because of the perceived potential damage it may cause to public health. On a personal note i think its high time all visual alcohol advertising were banned, it's really not acceptable to advertise an addictive drug on footballers shirts. Try thinking about it this way. The current drug laws are a one size fits all approach, an approach that has been proven not to work in pretty much every aspect of life involving humans because we're all different.

What rounds your day off or gets you looking forward to the weekend will no doubt be different to mine and if you want to jump out of an aeroplane or have a flutter on the horses I won't judge, each to their own. You see, although many would have you believe otherwise the vast majority of people who use drugs use them in the same way as most use alcohol. For pleasure, back to work on Monday, no harm done. Sure, some succumb to the horrors of addiction, we've lost family members to heroin and we've lost family members to alcohol. Deaths that in my view could have been prevented had the resources been available to provide residential care for them along with the appropriate psychological services to deal with their underlying problems. But the money isn't there is it, because it's spent incarcerating people, it's spent on massive police operations and none of the billions of available tax revenue from production and sale is taken by the state. It's simply ploughed into arms, people smuggling and many other criminal enterprises that damage the fabric of our society.

 By legalising and regulating the production and supply of narcotic substances, government agencies would be able to exert much greater control over the market simply because the businesses that operate within it, as with any other business would be able to rely on the law to protect them as long as they adhere to the regulations that relate to their business like paying tax, not selling to minors, quality controls etc. I'm certainly not saying that if all drugs were legalised today all our problems would go away.

Commodities that valuable will take time to be wrested from the hands that currently reap the billions in revenue from them. But in a free society it cannot be morally wrong to use a narcotic substance for pleasure, be it alcohol, cannabis, MDMA, cocaine and yes even heroin. Our governments therefore have a duty of care to we citizens, to educate us about the risks associated with using various substances, to protect us by properly regulating the marketplace and help us when we need by being open and honest and none judgemental enough for people to seek help when they need it and by providing the appropriate services for their recovery.

The vast majority of heroin addicts start their journey because of naivety, peer and social pressures and availability. (The addicts that i know certainly did). When the bloke round the corner who got you into it in the first place is available 24/7 then the steep decent into addiction is inevitable. Armed with knowledge gained from honest and truthful information delivered in an open and non judgemental environment, most would consider even trying heroin to be madness and the few that do would be able to seek treatment early, safe in the knowledge that the will not be judged or stigmatised, just helped.

 For 40 years the 'Drug Wars' have produced some very wealthy people and an awful lot of dead people and for what. To prevent me from acquiring substances that may harm me? Well give me an hour and a phone and can I buy pretty much anything which, paradoxically will be more harmful than if it where legal due to the lack of quality control regulation.

The spate of deaths in Canada caused by PMMA is a very good and extremely sad example of this.

Had these young people bought their party supplies from an authorised merchant they would be alive today, their families and friends would not be grieving and the economy would have not lost some of its future talent to the most sickening of all prohibitionist phrases, collateral damage.

 Come on people, the one size fits all law that we currently reside under makes the world a more dangerous place for everyone. Consider the following statement from a highly placed law enforcement officer in the USA who's name escapes me at the moment: There is no other crime, Not domestic violence, Not sexual assault, Not public corruption nor any other violent crime that we pursue with the endless stream of financial and human resources that we commit to fight the use of illegal drugs. That, frankly, is a disgrace!

 Regards Ali

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