as if inside our skulls, instead of the brain, we felt a fish, floating, attracted by the Moon.
Monday, April 26, 2010
the drug war in a nut shell
I'm anti-prohibition. This is probably obvious.
I'm in the camp that believes we should legalize all drugs, hard or not. A lot of people think this is ridiculous and dangerous, and I want to explain why it's not. At least, it's far less dangerous than keeping them illegal.
For one, think back to your childhood. Remember D.A.R.E? Remember "just say no" and "don't do drugs"? Because all drugs are treated equally by health education programs for kids, kids don't get good information. We're all told that coke is bad, heroin is bad, ecstasy is bad, pot is bad... Because some of the drugs out there really aren't so bad, eventually kids are going to try them. You can't eliminate a technology or an invention once it's been made. It works the same for guns. Banning something doesn't keep it from existing, and it'll always be there, so somewhere along the road the child who was told "just say no" is going to try marijuana.
This kid will have a little pot with his friends in high school, decide it's actually pretty good. He's had alcohol before at one of his parents' parties, and he's smart enough to know that, based on how he's feeling right now, pot is just as safe as alcohol, if not safer. (Now, we know for a fact it's safer, but play along with my naive-as-hell-teenager story.) This kid's been drunk a few times, and he knows what it's like to feel out of control and drugged when he's had a few too many beers. He feels that, even though he's pretty stoned out of his mind and laughing way too loud at adult swim right now, he's not out of control. His morals and self control are the same, he just feels a little silly. He'll think back to "just say no" and laugh.
Now, I know not all teenagers are naive, many of them (especially in western Mass, it seems) know a lot about drugs. They have relatively open minded parents who've educated them about which drugs are safe, which drugs one has to be careful with, and which drugs to stay away from entirely. But for the sake of my argument, this kid comes from smalltown, USA with hard ass parents and no drug education outside of his 8th grade health class.
He thinks, hey, weed isn't so bad! Adults are just lying to us. I wonder what else I'm missing out on! He'll move on to something a little more intense, but still keeping within his comfort zone. He's naive, not stupid. He tries mushrooms cause he's heard they're natural and pretty safe. He eats a handful and has the time of his life. Hey, he thinks, mushrooms are ok! I wonder what else is out there. He eventually tries acid, ecstasy, adderall he got from a friend... Eventually he's at a party in college and someone offers him methamphetamine. He says, hey, why not. I mean, D.A.R.E. told him not to, but what do they know? He's done adderall, which is amphetamine, and that was totally fine, so why not meth! He takes a hit and is overcome with happiness. He buys a baggie of the stuff to take home. Once it wears off he finds himself staring at the bag on his desk, aching to do more, to feel that good again. He decides to go for it; it's saturday night, he's got the day off work tomorrow, nothing to lose.
He doesn't know how it happens, but all of a sudden there he is, buying another baggie of meth. He can't seem to stop doing it, but he doesn't really care because it feels so good. He was worried about school but meth makes him unstoppable; he can work for hours and hours. He doesn't need to sleep anymore.
Eventually it stops getting so good. Instead of euphoric and productive, he starts getting paranoid, jittery and mean. He stops going to class, he quits his job. All he cares about is meth.
Blah blah blah, a meth addict is born.
So basically, what I mean to say is, prohibition-style drug education does not work. It's the same as abstinence only sex education. Teenagers are going to do it anyway, and we need to educate them on how to be safe when they do. Tell them what drugs are, what they do, how they work, how neurotoxic they each are, and how to handle a drug overdose, etc.
Now, I don't think that all drugs should be legalized and sold in convenience stores. That's just stupid. I think that things like pot and LSD (and maybe even things like heroin) should be sold how pot's sold in california right now. Licensed vendors who specialize in their product is the way to go. One should need a valid photo ID, and for harder drugs, there should be limits on purchase size, and one should maybe even need to present medical documents to prove health and sanity. Things like coke and meth should not be treated lightly. I also think that the providers should have the full authority to deny purchase. ("But what about the raging lunatic meth addict who pulls a gun on the shop keeper," someone asks. Well, that plays into my stance on gun control, which is a whole 'nother can of worms. In short, I think the shop keeper should have a shotgun under the counter and be fully prepared to use it.)
I think there should be laws about drugs similar to cigarettes and alcohol; don't do it on the street, don't do it in public places. If you're going to do heroin, at least do it in the comfort of your own home, not on the sidewalk.
I think that police should have the authority to arrest anyone carrying an amount of a drug over the allowed limit, but said person should not go to jail. They should be evaluated by a psychologist and, if need be, sent to a free, public rehab facility.
I think consenting adults should have the right to do what they want to themselves. Nobody else. If someone wants to have sex with whips, it's ok. If someone wants to drink, smoke, and do coke, so be it. It's their choice. As long as substances are controlled in a smart way, education is provided from a young age (as in, don't start teaching kids about drugs when they're 14, start when they're 10 or 12), and help is available for those who need it, we'll be ok. Just look at portugal.
What's not ok is making everything illegal. What's not ok is putting the drug trade in the hands of an unregulated market run by criminals looking to make money. We need to end the war in mexico before it gets to america (it already has, of course, but I'm worried it will only keep spreading).
Fuck the cartels, fuck the gangs, fuck the criminals cutting their product with even more dangerous shit.
And it's not just the "hard" drugs that are cut with more dangerous ingredients. Did you know that ecstasy pills rarely contain MDMA? They're usually a cocktail mix of BZP, caffeine and several other things that produce similar side effects, except they're way more neurotoxic. LSD is almost never LSD, as LSD is difficult to make and expensive, just like MDMA. Instead of letting teenagers take PCP thinking it's MDMA, we should regulate the market and make sure everything is pure. Don't you want to know for sure what it is you're putting into your body?
My father lives in orange county. He told me that once he stopped in a cafe for coffee in a neighborhood that was right on the border between two gang territories. While he was sitting, drinking his coffee, a couple cars pulled up down the street and a bunch of guys got out and started shooting at each other. They were on opposite sides of an intersection shooting for a while, and then got in their cars and drove off. No one was actually shot, and no one in the area was hurt, and no one called the cops. He asked the woman behind the counter about it, and she shrugged and said, "No big deal. It happens all the time. Usually they don't actually hit anybody. We just go indoors if we hear gun shots. The cops have given up."
Meanwhile, somewhere in new york, a 23 year old kid is put in jail for a year and forced to pay a $1000 fine because he was pulled over and had 2 oz of marijuana in his glove box that he smokes on friday nights to relax after a long week working at the car shop.
I think my father put it best, when he was telling me why he believes all drugs should be legalized:
"If you take away the drugs, gangs are just a bunch of kids running around in costumes playing cops and robbers. There would be no point to it anymore."
Day 09 — A photo you took