Well you are not going to change drugs: so that just leaves us with which problem to deal with.
We are going to have to get our heads around the fact that we are always going to have a drug problem – the only question is which drug problem we want to have to deal with. We are going to have to make a few changes, because what we are currently doing isn’t working. (I am talking about the illegal drugs, not the sort you buy from the chemist with a prescription from the doctor)
What we are doing now is making our problems worse, at this point we are dealing with drug related problems that are of our own making and that has to stop. Our “Drug” problem has now grown to be less to do with the drugs and the users, and is much more to do with the business of drugs, the gangs and the money involved.
Lets get rid of the problem of the business of drugs and revert to just looking after the problems of the consequences of drug abuse. That isn’t going to go away, but if that’s our only problem, then we are quite capable of putting the necessary resources into dealing with that and keeping that situation manageable.
The quick answer is a very short and simple answer. Legalise drugs. The long answer is a bit more complicated of course, but it still comes down to the same thing. Legalise drugs. No doubt there are a lot of people who are horrified at that whole idea, and for lots of good and worthy reasons I am sure. But it still doesn’t change the reality, that the only answer you are going to get that mitigates the drug problem as much as possible, is to stop making the use of drugs illegal. Because the side effects of illegal drugs are far and away more destructive than the original problem. Once again we had a situation where we had a issue we weren’t happy about, we wanted to do something about it, we passed a law saying you are not allowed to do it, and surprise, surprise, people ignored it and still kept on doing it anyway. The law changed nothing except to criminalise a lot of people and precipitate a lot of unintended consequences. So instead of taking the time and effort and paying the costs of thinking carefully through what actually needed to be done, as well as recognising the limits of what we are able to do, we went with the simple solution, no, make that the simpleton solution.
We have already had the experience of Prohibition to show us the fallacy and futility of that approach, and yet we have still gone ahead and repeated that same mistake all over again. Actually in a way the problem is worse because we never really dealt with the alcohol problem either. In spite of the problems we have with the illegal drugs, that is still swamped by the problems we still face with the legal ones. At least we don’t have the criminal associations with alcohol though, thank heavens for small mercies. Instead we just have a binge drinking culture and an army of alcoholics. We pontificate and bewail the facts, but we don’t actually do anything about it. If we were actually doing something about it we wouldn’t have the social problems that we do, to anything like the extent that they exist.
So, there are a few topics to explore; legalising drug, what does that actually mean – and – dealing with drug users, what would, could, should we do. What I would do, would have to be carried out within the context of a Revolution however, because I don’t believe you would be able to get my agenda carried out within our current system. The status quo is incapable of moving far enough, fast enough, or having a big enough impact to change our current situation. A lot of that has to do with our current conception of rights, we have got the right to do whatever we want to ourselves and no-one should be allowed to interfere with that. Actually in a way I agree with that, except when that impacts on the rest of us. That is also a principle that the current system would espouse and yet that isn’t what actually happens is it. People continue with their destructive behaviour and end up damaging others. All too often they are back at it the very next week or even day because there is insufficient responses for unacceptable behaviour. What is said and what is done is not the same thing and everyone actually knows it too. Through the laws and the legal precedents we have a situation that the principles of the law are defeated by the practise of the law. If you think that it is possible to tweak the system or pass a new law that will solve the problems of the old laws then you are living in a dream world. That’s not how law works, particularly when it is the law that has created the system and problem in the first place. Our problems might be unintended consequences, but they are not an accident. There is a direct causal link between the situation we have and the laws that prescribe it. Those laws must be removed if we are to deal with our problems and they must be replaced with a whole set of new rules that deal directly with the real issues.
Heres one real issue: people who are drug addicts are people who are addicted to drugs, they love their drugs, drugs are the most important thing in their lives and until they change their mind about that, there is no dealing with them, you cannot reach an agreement, have a quid pro qo, or offer an alternative. There is one and only one priority, getting more drugs. Be it alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, heroin or P, an real addict loves that more than anyone or anything. Treating them as a rational, responsible adult is pointless. Then there is the next tier of addict, who isn’t completely insensible, but they definitely are in denial – they don’t have a problem, they just use socially and they definitely don’t love it more than their family, children and friends. They could stop if they wanted to or needed to, but there isn’t any need to because they don’t have a problem…! So they will go on using because it isn’t hurting anyone, right up until they crash the car because they are wasted and then Oops, look at that, they have managed to injure or kill someone, fancy that, who could have imagined or foreseen…? Apart from all the rest of us that is??!! But what have all the rest of us done about it? Nothing effective that’s for sure. Then there is the next level, mostly youths, they don’t really drink or use habitually, instead their pattern is to occasionally binge on their drug of choice. Then they go picking fights, throwing up in the street, urinating in someone else’s doorway, vandalising property and generally being unsociable. As well as of course, completely over doing it and ending up paralytic, comatose, or dead of an overdose. Nothing new in any of that though of course, that is what we have all has been fighting forever, and yet we are still no further forward on any of this either, hmmm…!
Heres another real issue: Apart from tobacco and alcohol, we have pretty much made every other drug illegal, we haven’t stopped people using them of course but they are definitely now illegal. So that moves the whole situation on into a whole new realm of consequence. We get to sanction people under the law, for breaches of that law. Interestingly, the law in principle is applied uniformly to everyone who is in breach of the law. So if you grow a Pot plant in your back yard for your own use, you are just as liable to criminal prosecution as a major league dealer or grower. The potential exists to end up in jail, that you might not do so actually has more to do with the prisons being too full rather than anything else. So, if you are already someone who has been a part of the penal system and have a criminal record for whatever, then what is the reason not to be involved in a criminal activity, particularly if you are already an addict and there is a mountain of money to be made. You could end up going back to jail, but if you get properly organised, then the odds on that are actually pretty slim. And therein lies the logic of the drug gangs. They exist because there is money to be made by organising like that. Effectively we have payed them to be a criminal gang and a gang of criminals. Whatever we may say or choose to believe, whatever the laws we may pass, if the end result is not what we desired then we have created our own problem. If our problem is gangs, and their behaviour is motivated by the money that can be made because of the law we have passed, then the problem is not them, it is us. If you do not want someone doing something, then first make sure you are not paying them to do it.
Hopefully a bit of a clear idea of what the problem is, also helps us in determining what the clear solution is. We don’t have to be too smart in one respect though. At the very least we know what not to do, stop doing what we are currently doing. By making drugs a legal issue we have also made it an illegal issue. Stop. Make them legal and the illegal issues go away. That is not to say that drugs then become an open slather situation, rather it is about treating them as a social and medical issue with appropriate regulation. It is also about treating it as a human behavioural problem and not about banning an inanimate object. Banning the inanimate is always a signal of a failure of intellect, comprehension and regulation. Unfortunately there are certain personality types that instinctively cry out for more regulation, more restrictions and more punishment. They should be automatically barred from ever having a voice in policy, because they patently can’t add two plus two. None of this is a mystery, unexamined or incomprehensible, so why are we still battling these same issues. These issues should have been sorted fifty years ago, the fact that they haven’t is an indictment and a travesty. Actually it also makes you wonder if there isn’t more than a little corruption involved too, because there is definitely a lot of money involved. Whether it is just human nature, ossified laws or corruption that creates and sustains the problem, there needs to be an en-mass block removal of the current standard practises and a replacement with new rules and procedures. And do it now, as soon as possible, the costs are too high across too many areas to maintain the status quo.
This thesis will be continued in the next post – “Drugs Practically”