The so-called ‘War on Drugs’

The following is a guest post by Alan Salt, Vice-President of the Hemp Embassy.

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I’m the current Hemp Embassy Vice-President, a drug user of thirty eight years experience, who decided eighteen years ago to limit himself to cannabis and try no more new drugs, ever. I came to Nimbin in 1974 and initially lived as a shareholder at Tuntable Falls on the Co-Ordination Co-Operative, which taught me why we have private property. I also learnt about self-appointed, self-promoting “leaders” who thrust themselves before cameras claiming to speak for all, and using our community to leapfrog into newspaper pages and political office. That taught me why voting developed. Unfortunately voting does not always affect outcomes. I learnt about governments that empty their mental clinics on the promise of outpatient services that never arrive, and tell them to go to Nimbin where they are “more likely to be accepted”. Shortly after comes a revival of “reefer madness” rhetoric to avoid the blame for putting these people out on the streets by sheeting their madness home to “drugs”.

The “War on Drugs” and “Zero Tolerance” are propaganda worthy of Goebbels, that endorses active discrimination against drug users and makes a virtue of intolerance. It might as well be code for “Feel free to druggy/hippy bash” because as criminals their word won’t stand up in court.

New South Wales missed its chance to break with the institutionalised corruption of its Police when Ryan was sent home, and the rotten old guard was re-instated. Since 2006, in collaboration with the local National Party member, Richmond Local Area Command has devoured public funds in paramilitary show policing via assemblies of weaponry and force, playing directly to the media. Policing for media cameras works to portray an image of good policing rather than being good policing. It lies and deceives.

The “War on Terror” too is little more than an orchestrated fear campaign to justify the centralisation of political powers and the denial of individual human rights. When voters are sheep, they can expect to be governed by wolves. The bigger a government the narrower its intent. Nice dividend on our stocks, shame the boy came home in a box. I just hope it does not all come to some monumentally stupid “final solution”.

Personally, I think all drugs should be legalised and regulated. While that may not seem anything like a “perfect” solution to some, to me it seems the most sensible and least costly answer on all levels. Prohibition merely magnifies the problems, and expense without positive result.

Do me a favour, all of you. Gentlemen, please attend MardiGrass in your suits and ties, and ladies, please wear your twinsets and pearls. Hippies are obviously not enough.

13 thoughts on “The so-called ‘War on Drugs’

  1. I gave up caffine this week. It was my drug of choice but I’ve gone cold turkey. The first 48 hours were hellish. The headaches quite intense. But the worst of it seems to have passed and I’m now a hot chocholate man. I suspect that I’m the most prudish liberal on the block. 😉

    Properly understood (or maybe just understood one way instead of another) the philosophy of “zero tolerance” is a good policing measure. It is not incompatible with more warm and fuzzy notions such as “community based policing”. Zero tolerance simply means that every breach of the law should carry a consequence. It does not mean that every breach of the law should entail 30 years hard labour. Zero tolerance means when the cops pull you over with a blood alcohol limit outside what the law allows you won’t be allowed to drive home simply because you seem like a nice bloke or a because the cop thinks it’s a petty issue. However community based policing means that whilst they detain you they make you a nice cup of tea (or hot chocolate) and make sure that the wife and kids know where you are and that you get home to them as soon as the proper measures have been taken. Zero tolerance simply means cops should not turn a blind eye. It does not mean punishment should be draconian. Of course good policing of bad laws will still create bad outcomes but the problem then is with the laws and not the method of policing.

    Alan – thanks for a great post. I hope we hear more from you. And I hope the Hemp party manages to get back on the ballot for the next election.

  2. Media reports on the latest big drug seizure got me thinking about this topic.
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24151027-5013404,00.html

    I am always suspicious when law enforcement organisations bring out their heads for a bit of public bragging. Both the AFP and Customs were unable to contain themselves over this one. The AFP particularly needs to turn public opinion in its favour after screwing up the Haneef business and now stonewalling the judicial inquiry.

    I then wonder how much it cost to catch these naughty drug importers. A year’s investigation involving dozens of agents, thousands of phone taps and no doubt massive overtime all add up to a very expensive charge on taxpayers.

    Then there are the laws that allow these public servants to snoop around, tapping phone lines, covertly spying on people and then arresting a whole lot of people, some of whom will ultimately not be charged or convicted. Inevitably they will have also listened to and watched people who were not involved in drug importation.

    And after all that I struggle to think what the benefit will be. The price of ecstasy and cocaine might rise perhaps, due to reduced supply. But what is the benefit to the community of that, exactly? There will be no change in the number of people who want to buy the stuff. Perhaps there will be few more burglaries to help pay for it, but not likely. It wasn’t heroin they found.

    So I find myself in general agreement with Alan. I don’t like drugs at all. I don’t take them and I wouldn’t recommend anyone did. But I also don’t like the loss of liberty or the waste of public resources in the pursuit of suppressing them.

    [Alan, ignore Terje’s last comment. Single issue parties are a waste of time – join the LDP.]

  3. My view is legalize the drugs that put you to sleep and ban the ones that make you violent. I think, that puts me in the camp that supports dope and is against alcohol, but I’m not certain. The reason for this view is simple, I have less chance of getting beaten up. If someone wants to get doped up sit down and sing good luck to them, but drunk and violent, that is a problem.

  4. The sad thing about hemp is that it contains cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that remarkable properties that are relevant to treating dementias, neuropathic pain, Multiple Sclerosis, atherosclerosis(maybe), inflammation, and is good at killing tumours, partcularly amongst the worst type: brain cancer. And to top it off, hemp oil has abundant small chain omega 3’s, ratios better than or equal to Flaxseed. Here in Australia we are still denied access to a cheap safe compound that could have multiple clinical applications.

  5. Terje, why on earth give up coffee? It is very rich in antioxidants, in fact two studies, one from Norway and the other the US, found coffee consumption most closely paralleled antioxidant status, and this in comparison with red wine and vegetables. Coffee also appears to confer some gut protection, has neuroprotective qualities, and may even help in sugar regulation(dicey).

  6. The “War on Drugs” did achieve 3 important changes … drugs are now stronger, cheaper and more available.

    it also created the 2nd largest industry on this planet worth $400,000,000,000 per year. Larger than legal drugs and oil. Not one cent of it is taxed.

    Next time you hear “we must be tougher on drugs”, remind yourself, we are already tough on drugs and as penalties grow, so does the problem. The US having some of the toughest drug laws, now have the world biggest drug problem, HIV/AIDS is 10 times Australia’s rate and 1 in 200 are in prison for drug charges. Incidentally, the US addiction rate has been steady at 1.3% since they first recorded this information in 1900. It is still 1.3% and has never changed.

    As someone once said, a sure sign of stupidity is trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

    The “War on Drugs” was lost many years ago.

  7. The decision as to whether a war is won or lost depends what you hoped to win. The governing powers won more rights to intrude, and it is a campaign that can go on indefinitely, giving them the false odour of sanctity. This is not a war to be ended! For governments, it is a win-win situation. If they have a ‘win’, they get publicity, and if drugs flood a country, they win more powers to deal with the crisis!
    If you were in Government, why would you ever want this war to end?

  8. John – I’ve had gut problems for a couple of year on and off and I’m experimenting to see if caffine is part of the problem. Plus coffee makes me eat so I’m seeing if abstainance can help me regulate the calories.

  9. nicholas gray, couldn’t agree more.

    Lets say it was the 1960’s and I was deeply concerned by the issue of drugs. Somebody comes along and says government should begin a war on drugs.

    I say, fine, but how are you going to do it, how long should we try it for, when will we know we have won or lost, and what exactly are we trying to achieve in order to reach it ?

    Those answers are still not available today.

  10. It is not what “Zero Tolerance” might pretend to mean that matters, but what the media, public and police assume it to mean. If every breach of the law should carry a consequence, George Bush junior should still be in jail for the drug taking indiscretions of his youth.

    “Truth in sentencing” (NSW in 1989) saw murderers released from jail and minor offenders given longer sentences, yet it sounded like a good idea to the public at the time.

    “Community Policing” meetings in Nimbin have just been information gathering by police. They did not act on the communities frequent requests for late night patrols to stem amphetamine fuelled violence or a police presence at hotel closing time, but used the meetings to claim support for their own daytime cannabis street policing agendas. No tea and bikkies here, or any attempt at a uniform application of the law.

    Whatever the disingenuous political descriptor, it is the actual outcomes that more correctly define. Wars on Nouns are dumb. They are, in Joe Haldeman’s words, “Forever Wars”.

  11. Friend of mine was recently removed from his flat, taken to the station and charged with amphetamine possession. Why? Because he had small container with trace amount of powdered milk in the bottom.
    The police were originally there looking for someone else but that doesn’t mean we can’t have guilt by association until proven innocent.

  12. Powdered milk?!?! What sort of sick person is this friend of yours? Milk always tastes best when natural!
    And, purely in terms of strategy, they should only fight one war at a time. The WAR on POVERTY has been around for a long time, but I still see plenty of poor people! Wipe out all the poor first, and THEN wipe out every drug!

  13. Friend of mine was recently removed from his flat, taken to the station and charged with amphetamine possession. Why? Because he had small container with trace amount of powdered milk in the bottom.

    There is a very big difference between being charged and being convicted. The police often assume you don’t know that, but the fun begins when they arrest someone who knows it as well as them. Knowledge is power.

    And you don’t have to prove your innocence. They have to prove the powdered milk is prohibited.

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