April 18, 2010
I came across this article lurking somewhere around the bowels of the telegraph website. It is perhaps the most telling example of the failure in debate that has now resorted in the continuing assumption that the only way to tackle the issue of drug policy is through maintaining a black and white façade of prohibitionist nonsense.
This new ‘legal high,’ referred to as MDAI has been identified by the Kings College London based Psychonaut Research Unit as a contender for the next legal high craze. IT costs twice as much as M-Cat to produce and like M-Cat has been rushed onto the market before significant research has been done to test for any potential dangerous side effects.
It would also be helpful at this point to remind the reader that to date M-Cat or ‘Miaow Miaow,’ as it has come to be known as, has in fact not actually been implicated as the sole cause of a single death, despite the assertions of the shouty shouty right-leaning rags. Steve Rolles, of ‘Transform,’ a leading institution and source of expertise on drug addiction and law, referring to the publicised death of Gabi Price, writes this upon one blog:
‘The only link between the death of Gabi Price and mephedrone was made by some ill informed reporting in the Daily Mail, and the Sun and the Telegraph that reported that this was a drug death before the coroners report was published. The coroner in reality found no drugs in her body and that she died of broncho-pneumonia following a streptococcal A infection (see here http://bit.ly/7td8FN ). Such is the nature of drug story reporting that none of the newspapers that ran the original story printed a correction or follow up.
It is also the case that the unregulated vendors of this drug reported a leap in sales when the (false) Gabi Price death story received free advertising (it works, its legal, its cheap, you can buy online) from the massive national tabloid coverage (and the broadcast coverage that followed).
This is undoubtedly a dangerous drug, and serious public health and regulation policy concern - particularly regarding young people, but that does not excuse inaccurate reporting that I hope you will correct.’
This is the crux of the issue, I am not advocating that anybody put any unknown substance into their body without first weighing up the potential implications and consequences. What I am suggesting is that it is unsurprising that so many young (and older) people are so disillusioned with government drug policy that still conforms to the isolationist and uncompromising ideology of Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs.’ Furthermore, when the press are so keen to promote the governments line without research or even time to allow a coroners report to be published, evidence of emotional manipluation of the public is clearly present.
In this country there are crimes which cause far greater upset than those brought about by dependence on drugs. Murder, rape and child abuse destroy lives far more dramatically than addiction yet there is no high minded rhetoric of a ‘war on rape.’ The branding of an ongoing ‘war on drugs,’ is a crux leaned upon by those who wish to stifle any progressive debate on the subject. It is a term that aims to indentify all drug users, whether they be addicts, doctors, lawyers or any other professional as part of the seedy underbelly of society. This is a false narrative, a narrative that has been reinforced in the run-up to the general election by a government desperate to grab hold of a bit more of the ‘daily mail’ vote. Cannabis, by way of an example is reported to have been used by possibly 7.5% of the population within the last month, 12% in the last year. This ‘de facto’ criminalisation of up to one tenth of the British population perhaps serves to explain why drugs and crime are so closely associated. This is because drugs are crime, to be using is a crime. By being a user, one is automatically a criminal. Further branding of drugs as directly linked to terrorism is also a non sequitor. Cannabis is the most popular illegal substance used in the UK, yet it is now estimated that up to 80% is ‘home-grown’ in factories around the UK, mostly by south-east asian criminal gangs. There has never been any proven link between these organisations and the extreme Islamists that threaten Western society. The meme, like all the prohibitionists statements is an emotive and manipulative way of impressing upon those citizens who have no contact with drug culture, that those who do are not only junkie losers, but also potentially dangerous traitors.
Prohibition never works, it did not work with regard to alcohol in 1930’s America. It cannot work with regard to Europe’s issues with drugs. I am not advocating on this page wholesale legalisation of all narcotic. However, I am keen to see debate on the subject no longer blocked by high minded but often misleading rhetoric. The disillusionment of the governments Drugs Advisory Council that has resulted in so many resignations in the last year or so perhaps highlights the level at which any debate on the subject has been quashed. Did you know that following a request from the government for the Advisory Council to reinvestigate the Cannabis issue, the Council returned 21 recommendations to the government. The government accepted 20 of these recommendations…. What was the 21st, apart from the one that was conveniantly ignored? - ‘‘after a most careful scrutiny of the totality of the available evidence, the majority of the Council’s members consider – based on its harmfulness to individuals and society – that cannabis should remain a Class C substance." The government chose to ignore this and place Cannabis at class B, thus making the potential punishment for a cheeky smoke up to 5 years in prison even for those who have never otherwise committed a crime in their lives.
The Advisory Council did not advocate the use of Cannabis and were very careful to state that smoking it clearly carried negative effects on health. However it is the fact that such an independent panel of experts who had been asked to examine the issue were so summarily sidelined when it came to their response. Like the M-Cat debacle, the Cannabis review was instigated because of a media delusion that a stronger form of skunk that has become popular in the last two decades was significantly more damaging than 1960’s ‘hippy weed.’ The Council were used a show to grant the governments obviously predetermined stance on the issue a token element of legitimacy. The war on drugs is a dangerous façade that has implications negatively affecting social freedom, organised crime and the quality of life for millions of Brits. I would never tell you, reader, to put something in your body that could potentially confuse or damage it, but I would also firmly state that if you do your own research – and make your own choices, no sensationalist news rag, or government that has evidently manipulated the data and science, should tell you how to think.