Saturday 20 December 2008

Why Drugs Are Illegal

It is well to state some things up front, for the record, just so no one says I haven't.

I have a criminal record for drugs related offences, specifically, possession of Ecstasy with intent to supply.
This happened sufficiently long enough ago for it not to actually affect my day to day life.
For the record, I have no criminal record for any other offences of any type, indeed the only other laws I ever broken, relate to purchasing of alcohol when I was underage, breaking speed limits and recently- smoking cigarettes in a pub.

Like many people who would otherwise be law abiding citizens, I have fallen foul on this particular law. Taking 'drugs' is illegal. Possessing a sufficient quantity for it be reasonably assumed you are buying bulk to sell on to your mates, very much so. Which was what I was doing. I don't deny that. Nor, actually do I apologise for it.

I think the law on the subject is an ASS. I think drug laws bring the whole legal system into disrepute. Because no matter what argument you come up with about the perceived damage drugs may or may not do, you still have to justify why adults can't make that decision for themselves. And there is no justification for denying adults that decision.
I would even take that as far as heroin. I wouldn't touch the stuff myself, but if people want to, let them. They've been warned. They know damn well the likely consequences. If their addiction then leads them to commit crime, then punish them for those crimes. But; no victim no crime.

It's a bit like witchcraft. Time was when the main argument against witches was they used their witchly powers to commit crimes. And the thing is, most of these witches DID believe they were witches. In the sense that they were practising witchcraft, that bit was usually true. Thing is, in reality it wasn't harming anyone. Because in fact, witchcraft doesn't actually work. It wasn't until 1737 that someone had the bright idea; let them do they want. If they want to dance naked round fires worshipping Satan, let them. If they kill people, try them for murder. But if their 'witchcraft' doesn't actually lead to them committing other crimes, let them be.

Heroin aside, the vast majority of people who use recreational drugs, commit no other crimes aside from breaking drug laws.

Again, for the record, I personally believe that in the cases of Cocaine, Ecstasy and Cannabis, certainly, like with Alcohol, there are pros and cons. Alcohol can be very damaging. But on the whole, it seems to give more to society, than it costs society. My personal experience is that Cocaine, Ecstasy and Cannabis actually offer far more rewarding experiences, and have far less disruptive consequences. In the case of these three drugs, I don't merely support their legalisation, but were they to be legalised, I'd recommend their use.

The question I think, we really have to ask ourselves, is WHY the law is the way it is?
Because it's a very odd position for a free society to take.
And the answer is, history.

None of these things were illegal in the nineteenth century. It is in the temperance and prohibitionist movements of the end of that century that we must look.
Even Opium wasn't illegal in Victorian London, don't forget.

It was in the '20s that the prohibitionist mindset achieved it's victories. Some historians suggest that it was a curious consequence of women getting the vote. Prohibitionist movements were often supported strongly by women, in those days far more often the victims of drunken violence than they are today.

And the twenties saw their new found political power give a boost to the prohibition lobby.
In the US, an amendment was passed prohibiting the sale of Alcohol.
But even in the UK, the movement reached it's peak. The Prohibitionist movement actually won a seat in parliament- defeating Churchill.
And the laws on Alcohol sale had been getting gradually tougher.

It's not generally realised, but most of the stringent anti-drugs laws start at this time. It was merely that the main stimulant used in the west then, was alcohol. So at the time, it was the one received most attention. But both Britain and America outlaws Cocaine, Opium and Cannabis at this time. And the reality was, nothing much was known about Cannabis- or Hatchis as they called it then- except it was kind of Eastern, made people chilled out, so was thought be much the same as Opium. Pure ignorance really. But with American campaigners making films called 'Reefer Madness' involving youngsters getting stoned and going on murder sprees, the unknown toke had little chance.

The Mexicans, incidently, knew better. Did you know 'La Cucuracha' is about a cockroach who has run out of pot to smoke?

Anyway, several international conferences in the twenties had created an international framework against the drug trade.
Which continued long after America had given up on prohibition of Alcohol. And the rest of the world learned from that.

So, one can see the mindset that brought drug prohibition IN.
But why does it continue?

The real answer, has nothing at all to do with anyone giving a damn about your health.
The real point is about protecting something. And that's not your streets. Your streets certainly WOULD be safer with no drug dealers, part of the crime drug laws create. And those dealers wouldn't be on the streets if the drugs were sold in a licensed shop.

The point is, if they legalise Cannabis, then we'll ask why Ecstasy is illegal, seeing as the evidence against it is somewhat shaky. And then, if logic gets its why and Ecstasy is legalised then Cocaine and Heroin being illegal is harder to justify.

And they CAN'T be legalised.

Especially not Cocaine.

In fact, the one they DON'T want to legalise, is Cocaine. Which is why they portray it as so much more damaging than it is. It's the one they don't want to legalise.

No country will dare legalise Cocaine, for fear of upsetting the US.
It is vested US interests retain things as they are.
The Monroe doctrine.

The way the US maintains its economic power over much of the Americas, is very simple. It has come to find the 'war on drugs' suits it fine.

Colombia's biggest legal export, is coffee. It's biggest ACTUAL export, is Cocaine. The US retains effective control of countries like this by maintaining a perpetual civil war. It arms an urban creole elite and supports their creole Apartheid, against a First Nations MAJORITY, because First Nations peoples ARE a majority in most of these countries, by continuing to prevent the majority of the people from actually engaging in the form of agricultural production that would bring most wealth to the country. Of course, they continue to do so.

Marxist Organisations like FARC are blamed for encouraging the Cocaine trade, indeed, using it to fund themselves.
But FARC get the real point. There at the 'coal face of the drugs trade', if you like, it's not a war against drugs. It's war by an American supported creole elite to keep control of the country as a US puppet state, rather than becoming a true democracy, governed by the majority of the people.
Of course FARC support the Cocaine trade. The Cocaine trade would be a vital part of a free, Democratic Colombia, free from us control.

A Colombia run by First Nations Majority rule, where peasant farmers grow prosperous by freely providing for the west one of its most coveted luxury items- Cocaine.

The US decided to fight the mother country by throwing her imports into the sea. Now it maintains supremacy over the other countries by doing the same to their exports.

The War on Drugs isn't about anything other than the US being able to keep the world economy the way it likes it. And to make sure that as much of the Americas is run the way it wants it, as it possibly can. By US supported creole elites.

Drug laws are about control- about telling you how you can and cannot spend your time and money.
But they're also about making sure that American vested interests keep 'Latin' America as 'Latin' America and that brown-skinned peasant farmers don't mean that actually, First Nations people get back one of the continents that got stolen from them.


Anonymous said...

1. Why would you assume that most people aren't aware of the impact on from the prohibition movement? It's taught in school. Primary and Secondary.

2. The old USA trying to control hold South and Central America through banning drugs is tale oft told. Its also been the sub-plot in a few hollywood blockbusters.

3. I can see why you would like cocaine - it would feed your idea of grandeur. Even better, it would make you feel invincible whilst playing out your fantasies.

4. I think that a large majority of medical professionals, sociologists and criminal lawyers would disagree with your conclusions on the health, community impact and crime levels associated with drug use.

You may not be sorry for dealing drugs, and that is cool. But as a result you will not be able to travel to countries like America, Australia, much of Asia due to drug convictions. I'd be feeling sorry about that.

To tell you the truth, I don't see much harm in legalizing marijuana. But chemical drugs - nope. I've used plenty in my day to know the effects first hand.

Anonymous said...

Uhm, dude, first, I might ask what you were smoking when you wrote this post, seeing as how it repeats itself completely.

As for your commentary, I'm going to have to primarily disagree. I think you make a good point about the problems of why adults can't make such decisions for themselves, but when you say you'd "recommend" that people use them then you lose me entirely. All drugs, including medical drugs, have potential dangers. I generally believe it's better to minimize the taking of all drugs, and Cocaine and ecstasy are certainly far from safe drugs. Meth and Heroin are even worse. I think we'd even benefit from cutting way back on alcohol consumption.

Anonymous said...

All the drug use I personally see falls into two fairly even categories. A lot of moderately responsible, productive people I know enjoy the odd toke now and then in social gatherings (including my dad, step-dad and 'step-mom' - a habit they never picked up until their mature years). Also - all the stupidest people I know - who lead ridiculous destructive lives full of artificial drama and rampant dishonesty - all take drugs heavily and daily.

I can almost understand people assuming that it is the drugs that makes one destructive and stupid. Of course the realities of cause and effect are seemingly too much for most people to acknowledge but I can not deny the apparentness of such a connection.

I have to laugh at drug laws and many many other laws that in one sense seem basically to serve to protect stupid people from themselves - which I suppose inhibits the natural selection process which in theory inhibits human evolution. And I can see why governments depend on stupid people. I'm sure I need not explain that to you of all people.

On the other hand, imagination, creativity and the arts are absolutely central to human evolution for about a thousand reasons and I find very interesting the theory that it was the (inadvertent or otherwise) consuming of natural hallucinogens etc that unleashed the evolution of human imagination/creativity. And there is certainly no shortage of connections between writers and alcohol; drugs and musicians.

So I have a rather central view. All things in moderation.

Anonymous said...

I lost a sister to heroin so I don't agree with all that you say. Drugs cause misery, pain and kill people, they destroy families and are the major cause of crime.

What I do believe in, is democracy and I think you would find that most people would vote against legalising certain drugs in a referendum.

What I don't understand is why we just don't set fire to the poppy fields in Afghanistan. I don't think that the cocaine we get in the UK is from cocoa leaves, its purely pharmaceutical, in which case we should be destroying the laboratories where it is synthesised.

I Live in Spain however where personal use of "grow your own" is legal which is sensible.

Its a matter of degree and what's deemed acceptable behaviour to the majority.

Rarely do you find that someone has picked a fight when he has smoked a joint but alcohol which is legal, causes lots of anti social problems.

Anonymous said...

From my point of view the situation looks like this:

The people who take drugs know full well the consequences, but are not willing to accept the consequences, and therefore as a group (obviously individuals come to their own individual conclusions) expect the rest of society to pick up the pieces. Whether that is by becoming unwell and expecting the NHS to treat them, or by expecting the welfare state to pay their rent and for their food, or expecting the state to look after their kids because they cannot.

This wasn't a problem in Victorian times because the state was not a comfort blanket for people who did not earn more than they produced. Those people were looked after by charity or remained in poverty. Now that the hard-working, non-drug taking majority pay for the mistakes of the addicted minority, those who pay the piper wish to call the tune.

Which would you prefer? You can't have a libertarian society where someone else picks up the tab.

Anonymous said...

crushed, your story had blocks of repeats in it.

Hmm, I don't know enough about the laws and legalities of drugs let alone what happens when you take them BUT -

1.I do know the statistics on violence against women and children and it fucking flies up the scale when drugs and alcohol are involved. That makes me angry. But how do you limit the amount people can legally buy and consume of a non-prohibited substance?

2. I'd rather sit with a bunch of pot smokers than a bunch of drunks. Any day..and yet you can cop a heavy fine for smoking the stuff.

3. Drugs, particularly ice, cocaine, speed and heroin have a lot to do with violence on the streets and this scares me. I hate the fact that my kids are going to grow up and go to pubs and clubs and not know what the other person is 'on' and their reactions etc. That really scares me we have so much uncontrolled and unpredictable substances just going around.

4. You can put many cases of child neglect down to the parents being drug addicts. They put the baby down and they can't remember the last time it was fed or changed.

No point to this, it's just my thoughts on drugs and alcohol. I readily agree that by legalising drugs we aren't going to suddenly get a whole influx of new addicts nor are we going to fix the problem outright.
I think public education is the key..lots and lots of it. More ads, more scare tactics, and harsher preventative measures in the area of child protection when dealing with drug addicted parents. Take the babies off them, no kid deserves a crappy life with a parent who puts the drug before the welfare of their family.

Anonymous said...

I have seen too many people go down in life because of drug use. Yes, there are those who are able to use recreationally and have it make little to no impact on their day to day lives, however, for the most part hard drugs ruin people. Go to any area in your urban domain that is plagued with drug dealers and abusers and take a serious look. Communities torn apart, gun voilence, overdoses...the list goes on. I have lost some very close people to drugs. The bad out weighs the good my friend.

For the record people on blow suck. The incessant rambling , gum smacking, white spots hanging from their thanks.

Anonymous said...

La Femme- I think most people are aware of it, but not of the history behind the flawed thinking.

I think it is a powerful reason in the thinking, yes.

Cocaine delivers a sense of empowerment, yes. I'm not sure there IS a better feeling than the one that Cocaine delivers. Hence why people are prepared to pay for it. In my view, it's one of the greatest discoveries mankind ever made.

I actually think, no, a majority of people who work with drug use day to day realise legalisition would reduce the problems in many ways. and most experts know that only a minority of USERs are ABUSERs.

Well, I hardly dealt drugs! It was social supply. And no, I certainly don't think it was evil, or even morally wrong.
Yes, it is a bit of a pain I can't get into the US.

Charles- I pressed copy and paste twice it seems...
It was early morning when I posted it, I hadn't slept, I'd been up for two days partying, someone was telling me to get a move on and I must have pressed it twice.

All these things have pros and cons. It should be up to the individual to decide whether he thinks its worth it.

FWG- I agree, everything in moderation. Most users are moderate I think. It's abusing, not using drugs that is the problem.

Yes, I often think of that. How much art and culture has been the result of it. Kubla Khan for example.

I do think they can have a positive role to play and I think a culture where mankind didn't ever use artificial stimulants would be poorer.

Sue- I certainly don't think heroin is a good thing, it's a scourge on society. But it being illegal doersn't seem to help, it just seems to make it worse.

Cannabis, I agree, really there's no logic to it being illegal.

Blue Eyes- Only a tiny minority of drug user are a problem.
And if drugs were legal, they'd pay for themselves, just like smoking does.

You assume that drug users do not pay their way. In fact, the vast majority of illegal drugs in the UK are almost certainly bought by professional people. I would say the typical profile of the users of most drugs aside from heroin is that of a professional male under forty. Heroin is unique in that it is used mainly by the underclass.

Speaking as a taxpayer, I support legalisation because I think my taxes would go down as a result.

The only bill we pay is the costs of trying to fight a war that can't be won.

Kate- I like your first point. Yes, I think it's far harder to actually look at the real harmful aspects whilst we have blamket prohibition.

I think yes, we do need to make sure children can't get it. But we'd be able to do that better if we weren't wasting time stopping adults getting it. And since outlets would be open- and licensed- one could ensure children didn't get it.
And yes, we'd always be sure we knew what was being sold. That danger would be removed.

Reeny- yes, drugs create problems.

But we have all that in a society where they're illegal.

So it's not working.
Surely we might as well try out and seeing if it actually works better if we legalise.

We'd probably find a slight increase in overall drugs consumption, I agree.
But we'd probably find binge use got less common.
And with quality being assured, we'd probably find a huge decrease in people being admitted to hospital because of drugs. Less drug related crime, and a huge amount of police time freed to deal with real crime.

Anonymous said...

Just some thoughts

1) You say that people taking drugs doesn't always lead to crime, and therefore no victims are made. I say that drug using can alter personality to the point where your family becomes affected by it, and thus your family becomes the victim. The change may be small, and thus have little affect, or it can be major, such as increased violent behaviour, in which case the effect would be major and emotionally (and probably physically) traumatic.

On the other hand, you might not have a family, in which case there is no real victim, unless there is a crime involved.

2) Like you said, people should have a choice in what drugs they want to take. I don't society should dictate what drugs to take and what not to take. However, there needs to be more information available about the effects to health that drugs have. I know Australia has several anti-drug campaigns, but their effective-ness comes from showing the effect of drugs on real people. For one example, smoking, on our cigarette packs there are picture of gangrene, gum disease and blocked arteries caused by smoking.

3) Like the Buddha said, the middle path. I.e. moderation. As long as drugs are not abused, it theoretically shouldn't cause that many problems

4) I disagree with your condoning of cocaine. Personally, I don't think taking drugs is all that great. I've had alcohol and while it's great to loosen up, I'm already a pretty open person, and a little control would be beneficial. I think with certain people, they need all the inhibitions they can get.

5) While cannabis does seem like a mild drug, it's the smoking part that annoys me, whether it's cannabis or tobacco. I know that there are non smoking areas, but people smoke on the streets. They have every right to, but I find it irritating because I have asthma attacks whenever I breathe in smoke.

6) If you take drugs all the time, don't have kids. It's as simple as that.

7) If drugs became legalised, and sold in shops then they could be standardised. However, you wouldn't be able to stop underaged use. I'd know. I've been drinking since I was fifteen.

Anonymous said...

i understand what you are saying...and am not ignorant to history...however, if you really look at things, the government just wants control...if not why the fuck do we have seat belt laws...motorbike helmet laws...neither of those effect ANYONE at all except the person riding the is all about control and making the best decision for the populace whom they don't believe can make that decision for themselves...

Anonymous said...

As an alcoholic in recovery, a lot of this post distressed me. I don't have an objection to the legalization of pot, although I've never tried it, but some of the other substances ate highly addictive, and personally having gone down that road, wouldn't wish it on anyone. Saying that "most people use in moderation" strikes me as wishful thinking for lenient laws. There are many people who qualify as addicts who claim social and recreational use. Just because they are not admitting the destruction to their health and lives doesn't mean it isn't an issue. I fear free and easy access to drugs like cocaine and heroine gives implied approval of use, that they must be safe. Kids who might otherwise be detered by laws would be more willing to try.

I also disagree about greatness being achieved through chemical means. I think all feeling can be reached without the false inducement, and frankly thing it is a lame way to go about upping your self esteem. I have reached more authentic highs in the past three years than any drunk. The sense of invincibilty I used to feel was a charade, and deep down I knew it. The only way to maintain that farce would be to constantly Medicare myself to hang on to the lie. It was a juvenile way to live. And anyone who likes to use great artists and thinkers as addicts as an example of greatness through drugs - most history will tell you their work while under the influence was shit.

I understand your need for the freedom to decide for yourself. I get itchy when told what I can and cannot do. But fighting over my right to poison myself seems like a misdirection of effort.

Anonymous said...

The War on Drugs isn't about anything other than the US being able to keep the world economy the way it likes it. And to make sure that as much of the Americas is run the way it wants it, as it possibly can. By US supported creole elites.

A concise and accurate summary.

The chemicals under control are essentially arbitrary, and some of them (such as marijuana) have been shown to be largely beneficial. Science, in this case, doesn't matter to those who hold the reins.

That being said there are serious addiction issues that others commenting here have noted, too. Wholesale legalization of drug use without comprehensive mental care is a mistake. There is a valid argument to be made that illegalization of drugs limits their availability, and hence limits their sphere of influence.

But I still think the current state of affairs is just stupid. People like "La Femme" who base their judgements purely upon personal experience are not to be trusted. I bet that I could find 10 people who use "chemical drugs" on an occasional basis and nevertheless lead fulfilling lives -- just because she couldn't handle the experience doesn't mean that others could not.

Anonymous said...

8xxyz8: Really? I am a criminal lawyer and have worked in the courts for close to ten years. I have also spent years working with homeless people in through non-profit organisations.

I have campaigned strongly for non-detention options for people on drug charges, where they shown to suffer addiction.

I feel that sufficiently qualifies me to hold an opinion, fuckstick.

Anonymous said...

My government cares little about what it's citizenry actually do, that's why they are giving middle class institutions like our auto industry such a hard time about nationalizing them in even a small way... which is especially infuriating when they bail out--with no questions asked--the upper class institutions of investment firms and the banks (who support everyone, yes, but who is it that gets rich from banks? The rich, of course. But that's another discussion).

The drug war is about control of the lesser nations in this hemisphere. And it is about keeping wealth here in the industrial nations, and not allowing it to be distributed among anyone who is different from the wealthy rulers of white culture.

It's all hypocrisy to me. Alcohol is more than capable of doing all the damages that are associated with most of the illegal drugs, yet it is kept legal. Why? Because it's a white drug, and we profit from it more than anyone else does. And it is known in the minds of our leaders that recreational substance is good for people--in moderation, of course.

Other than the political agenda behind drug legislation, what I don't like is that my own judgment is superseded by Big Brother's judgment. If I want to sit quietly at home writing and smoking a joint or 2, that's my business. But like you, I am viewed as a criminal for thinking that way. The only crime I have ever committed is possessing a bag with less than one quarter ounce (probably around 5 grams) of Marijuana. At the very least, it helps me sleep. But of course, in the view of law makers, I should go to a doctor and get put on a legally sanctioned drug for that, and not self-medicate. But doctor prescribed drugs are just as bad, anything can be addictive, and these are no exception.