Friday, 3 June 2011

The War on Drugs has failed

I read an interesting article this morning stating the war on drugs has failed. They state that the amount of money, resources and damage caused by trying to stop illegal drug cultivation, manufacture and consumption, is far greater than the damage caused by the drugs themselves.

If you look at this whole drugs business from another angle, it is more to do with control of societies and individual power struggles than it is to do with the different illegal drugs. In fact you could argue the whole title war on drugs is a misnomer, as it does not account for the myriad of drugs that the governments of the world allow its citizens to consume on a regular basis. The war on drugs should really be called the war on specific substances deemed not profit worthy at the turn of the 19th century. If we were really to have a war on drugs then, we would have a war on alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, codeine, high adrenalin sports, dangerous driving, road rage, workaholics, etc, etc; ok I am being a tiny bit facetious, but they are all dangerous drugs. If you use the term drug as meaning, being something a human enjoys but ultimately is harmful if excessively abused, on a regular basis.

I would imagine jumping out of a plane with a parachute on, is as dangerous as taking an ecstasy pill.  Yet one is regulated and made safe, the other is not.

When will we realise that the more you try to stop something, the more people will want to do it. If you look at cigarettes, which in my opinion is one of the worst drugs available and legal in this day and age. What is causing less people to smoke? It is the fact they cannot smoke in public places, it doesn’t ban cigarettes it regulates their usage. And because of this, I bet there has been a massive drop in cigarette use in countries following this policy.

You will never ever get rid of drug use, whether it is the legal kind or illegal, whether it is the substance version or the activity version. I did Go Ape recently and to me that was like taking a drug, it made me feel high as a kite, literally as well as actually. Yet if we take Go Ape as an example, it is just climbing trees, only they make it safer than the way you climbed trees when you were a kid.

I know that is a simple example, but it is true, people like drugs whether they will admit it or not, in fact we all love our drugs, everyone of us takes many different types every day.

Coffee in the morning, how many times do you hear someone say, “Oh I don’t feel awake until I’ve had my morning coffee.”

Then there is the headaches women, they have to have their fill of codeine, and the first cigarette of the day man, or a better one, which I never understood is when someone says, “doesn’t a cigarette taste better after a meal.”

Then there is the common one for stressed out workers, “I need a stiff drink after a hard day’s work.”

Or what about two of the most dangerous drugs that people use and abuse everyday, sugar and salt.  It is hard to imagine the untold damage they both cause especially in western societies.

Even going to the gym for some is a drug, I need to do some exercise, or I will get fat. Or if you are fat, I need another cream cake or MacDonald’s, to make me feel happy. The list is endless, we are all lovers of drugs, and they are all dangerous if taken to extremes, and abused. I remember working in a wine shop, and every day you would get the different types of alcoholics coming in, they all smelled really badly, they had bad skin and looked dreadful, you had the special brew grannies, and the Brandy guzzlers, some were more subtle, they changed their drinks every day. It was sad to see them, but imagine if they were cocaine addicts, they might end up with a criminal record and in some countries thrown in prison, it that right? Should it be a criminal offense?

Some people are always going to be extreme drug abusers, but most people are not, most people don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol or too much coffee, they don’t smoke too many cigarettes, or even eat too much; most people are sensible and are able to realise when they have had enough. In a way the war on drugs is a war on intelligence, it says we are not intelligent enough as a species to know that snorting massive amounts of cocaine isn’t bad for you; or smoking too much cannabis is going to affect your psyche if taken regularly. Some people don’t know this, but most do.

Humans have an amazing ability to hide behind inaccuracies, they see things that are not there, I remember when Ecstasy was first used, and they said the most dangerous drug, it kills people, but it kills one or two people, not hundreds of thousands like alcohol or cigarettes do. We like to exaggerate, and jump on the band wagon; swine flu was an excellent example of exaggeration, which is a different story altogether, though it follows similar lines.

What really needs to be done is to find away to change people’s perspectives on what is a drug and what isn’t. What really does cause you harm, and what likely will not.

Management and control of drugs and their usage will always do a better job than criminalisation and punishment. Plus as soon as you legalise them you remove a massive criminal threat from the world. You remove massive sums of money going into the hands of terrorists and criminals. Surely that would be a good thing to see happen.

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