As far as I know, I’ve never been addicted to anything. The closest thing would probably be food and water, which I’m told are basic human needs and don’t count. I’m not against weed—by any stretch of the imagination—and I try to keep my distance from pills, tablets and basically anything else the pharmaceutical industry throws at us.
When someone like me wants to talk about drug addiction—a privileged individual who’s never been addicted to any life-altering substances—remember that I’ve never set up shop and paid monthly rent in my local crack-house.
I’m going to discuss the personal side of drug use, but I acknowledge how much money it earns banks, police forces and drug cartels. At least this war’s benefiting someone, right?
So, without further ado, my two cents: I think all drugs should be legalized. Sorry, Pablo Escobar.
Russell Brand’s documentary, unambiguously titled End The Drugs War, captures the weight of this discussion in one hour. In the United Kingdom (where Russell rooms with the Queen and everyone else in England) the national government treats drug use as a crime issue. Users are thrown into jail and given criminal records if they’re caught using substances like Heroine, Crack Cocaine, PCP and Crystal Meth.
Thanks in large party to Brand’s experiences before his recovery—the man’s body was an amusement park—I think that modern drug policy in mostly f**kin’ nuts.
In my opinion, the billions of dollars spent globally on police enforcement of these archaic laws should instead be used on rehabilitation services to treat victims. I’m not suggesting a safe injection site should pop-up on every street corner from Miami to Vancouver, I’m outlining the primary reason the “war on drugs” has failed.
Drug use should be considered a health issue
Drug use is mistakenly being treated as a crime issue by out-of-touch politicians responsible for legislating an issue not even their month-long stay in the Hamptons can solve. In my attempt to support the reform effort, I give you the one time that hardcore drugs touched my life:
There were—and are—more than a few crack-houses near my home during high school. Each day on my morning walk I’d see the nightmarish landscape of filth and decay that decorated every trap house. It’s a familiar site to EVERYONE, so I won’t share with you the usual display of rotting paint, broken glass and general unpleasantness that I witnessed everyday.
Anyway, there was a girl in my grade 9 science class named—for this story’s sake—Lucy. Being an awkward 14-year-old who knew nothing about interacting with the opposite sex, I kept a safe distance. From the intel I gathered through grade postings she was a smart girl. She was thin, pretty and—like me—kept to herself.
Then she started getting thinner…and thinner. Eventually, she attended three class sessions in as many weeks and was expelled. Little wonder where I saw her one day while walking past “Ye Ol’ Fun Shack” one morning, entering the house with a much older male companion.
I’m not sure how child services or the parents involved themselves in the matter but, from my adolescent perspective, thinks looked grim.
The main cause for concern
Don’t get me wrong, that little girl’s descent into the fringes of society is troubling. However, the more troubling issue is how society dealt with it.
While my school did offer her rehabilitation and counselling services. her being expelled parallels how adults in her position are often jailed for using. How is this girl to re-enter society without the help of a miracle? Similarly, how is an addict expected to overcome withdrawal symptoms if the only place they can afford to live is the same crack-house they were busted in?
I don’t claim to have a seven-step plan that would’ve saved fourteen-year-old Lucy from the clutches of addiction. While I recognize that Canada (my home) is fairly progressive when it comes to drug policy, every visit to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver proves that I’m not close enough to the problem to be considered a meaningful voice in the discussion.
The Portugal Experiment
Luckily, the Portuguese government recently decriminalized all drugs, giving us a glimpse at how legalization could affect society.
- HIV/AIDS contraction declined significantly.
- Recreational drug use increased.
- Petty crimes reduced dramatically.
Russell Brand constantly questions the criminal treatment of drug use, given that it’s been waged for a century.
While I’m nowhere near as close to the subject as he is/was, I’d like to back the notion that legalizing drug use is a step towards progress.
(Insert witty and equally thought-provoking sign off here)