|We Should Be Warning You About the Evil of Drugs|
Posted by FoM on July 14, 2001 at 16:02:15 PT|
By Hope Humphreys
I could be the darling of the drugs tsar, one of his trump cards. I could be produced with a flourish for every anti-drug slot in the media, like Leah Betts's mother. I could be feted by Tony Blair, honoured by the Home Secretary.
The agony I suffered when my student son was arrested and sent to prison could be used as another powerful message for young people to avoid the "evil of drugs". Look at all that pain you might cause your parents. If drugs don't kill you, you could be locked up for years, scarred with a criminal record for life.
So, learn from my misfortune, listen to the tsar, the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, your mother, and above all obey the law!
That would have been the simple thing to do. But it would have been wrong, and it would have been despicable. The more I found out about what my son and his friends were doing, the more I realised that it was people like me who were aiding and abetting the worst problems caused by drug use. Because of ignorance and fear, we are refusing to face up to reality. Silently, we continue to allow others to deal with a problem that concerns us all. We recklessly avoid the evidence that they are making a complete mess of it.
My son, a university student, was arrested in 1995. He and his friends, unknown to my husband or me, were recreational drug-users. I vaguely suspected that my son might smoke cannabis, but I did not think it was something he did frequently, nor that it was widespread among his friends. They used to take it in turns to acquire cannabis. One day, when my son was buying some for everyone to use together, the man who was selling also offered him 50 tabs of ecstasy. He just said yes, and it was left in a pot in the living room. But ecstasy is a class A drug, and so, when he was prosecuted and convicted of possession with intent to supply, there was no alternative but a prison sentence.
It was a complete shock. At first I thought it meant my son was a drug addict. Then I realised that he had a problem, not with drugs, but with the law.
In the past six years, I have made it my business to find out everything I can about drugs and how the law deals with them. It became obvious to me that the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act is outdated. It is dangerous and harmful, both to addicts and to recreational drug-users. It inadvertently grants the monopoly of drug supply to criminals. The use of illegal substances has widened and proliferated. More people are in prison because of drugs, or suffering and dying than ever before. At the same time, more people are enjoying drugs and coming to little harm.
Prohibition has been staggeringly unsuccessful. It is inevitable that it fails as a policy because it denies the most fundamental thing of all: human nature. It's not just that forbidden fruits are tempting. It's more that forbidden fruits can be fun, and the risks are sometimes part of that fun. If we avoid the truth of this premise, we risk losing the attention of the young. If we are more interested in control than in safety, we don't deserve to be listened to.
Recreational drug use and addiction are different. They do not go hand in hand, as is so often claimed. Most recreational drinkers do not become alcoholics. It is unhelpful to have different principles for treating legal and illegal addiction. Some drug addicts will now not be sent to prison, but will be offered drug rehabilitation programmes instead. But, unlike alcoholics, they will continue to have the big stick of punishment held over them. If they test positive for drugs they will be locked up.
This ignores the fact that addiction is an illness. Not all addicts can be cured, so how can more punishment be seen as the solution? Nor is there any evidence that punishment acts as a deterrent. Britain has some of the harshest penalties for drug offences in Europe and yet we also have the most drug use.
It has been difficult for us to stand up against the status quo, to question the law. Many believe that because something is the law, it must be right. But a law which produces more and more victims, a law that would make criminals of 70 per cent of people under 25 is a bad law.
At first, I felt alone and helpless. I had the support of family and friends, and everyone who knew my son was appalled by what had happened to him. They just could not believe he had been sent to prison for two-and-a-half years. Then I discovered there was a group called Transform, with the sole aim of getting effective drug laws. We joined, and its membership is growing rapidly.
My son's punishment was far worse, far more dangerous, than the crime. Thousands of youngsters are being given criminal records for minor drug offences. This blights their lives, stopping them travelling to certain countries and barring them from many careers. An unlucky few get sent to prison to be brutalised by inappropriate, inhumane treatment.
But the most encouraging thing has been the Police Foundation report in March 2000. Chaired by Dame Ruth Runciman, it was an independent study by experts into the effectiveness of the Misuse of Drugs Act. It recommended that certain drugs need to be reclassified so that their dangers are reflected accurately. It notes that if alcohol and tobacco were to be judged by the same criteria, they would be class A and class B. Class A is the most dangerous, and includes heroin and crack cocaine.
The Runciman committee found cannabis to be less dangerous than tobacco, and recommended that it be downgraded to class C. The report recognised that the social sharing of drugs, without profit, was not the same as drug dealing. For us, this was not only an important endorsement of our feelings, but a triumph for common sense.
The media gave the Police Foundation report a great deal of attention. They believed it showed practical ways of improving the law and making it relevant. But the Government did not. The report was dismissed immediately because implementing any of the recommendations would "give out the wrong message". Ten months later, the Home Office officially confirmed this rejection.
The Police Foundation report was a big disappointment to the Government, failing to endorse its strategies. The experts that took part in the inquiry had no need to be politically correct in order to be re-elected. It was not its remit to spin government propaganda. This is why the Runciman committee deserves to be listened to, and taken seriously.
The Government pours an ever-increasing amount of money into an industry aimed at combating the use and supply of illegal drugs. Its henchmen, led by the tsar, and including law-enforcers, drug education teams and health workers, do its bidding. But it is run like the Mafia. You keep your job, you get your funding, as long as you don't question the law or the Government's strategies.
People are afraid to speak out because they have too much to lose. However, I can say what those in power do not want to hear: I have nothing to lose. It is a privilege to campaign on this issue and I will continue to do so.
Complete Title: We Should Be Warning You About the Evil of Drugs. After All, Our Son Was Sent To Jail Because of Them. But We're Not Going To. And This Is Why...
Newshawk: Jack D.
CannabisNews Articles - UK
|Comment #6 posted by jorma nash on July 15, 2001 at 22:10:31 PT|
that families of Drug War victims are typically ashamed to have
instead of screaming to high heaven about
articles like this are all too rare.
it's why organizations such as the November Coaliton
the Antis love to talk in broad, faceless generalizations,
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Comment #5 posted by lookinside on July 15, 2001 at 08:25:41 PT:|
|it swings one way and then the other...bush is adding|
impetus to the right...when it swings back, goodbye, war on
if the current administration refuses to accept reality, the
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|Comment #4 posted by dddd on July 15, 2001 at 01:09:29 PT|
|Superbly put Kap......|
..I have a new outlook of hope for those of us who reside
..After going through the trauma of realizing what happened
...I think that the shrubsadministration is so contorted and radically
(all this was a convoluted and verbose way of making a simple point,,
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|Comment #3 posted by Doug on July 14, 2001 at 18:23:17 PT|
|to watch the news coming out of Great Britian these days. A couple of years ago there was the Independent's campaign against the WoD, which looked very good until the newspaper's editor, Rosie Boycott, left. After that we didn't hear much about the campaign. But it seems to have had some effect! Everyday brings more positive news from England, news that I really didn't expect even two months ago. I could see change happening in Canada or New Zealand, but never in Great Britian. But now, almost literally overnight, it appears disticncly possible that large scale change will happen in England soon. In fact, as witnessed by the events in Brixton, it already has. This shows that change, rapid change, is possible in the most unexpected places.|
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|Comment #2 posted by mayan on July 14, 2001 at 17:41:42 PT|
| You are so right,as usual, Kapt. I'm afraid that here in the states it will take nothing short of totalitarianism to wake the sheeple up. By then it will be to late. We are obsessed with our toys & manipulated by the corporate media & everything is just peachy. It truly makes me want to vomit.|
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on July 14, 2001 at 16:44:17 PT:|
|The more I found out about what my son and his friends were doing, the more I realised that it was people like me who were aiding and abetting the worst problems caused by drug use. (Emphasis mine) Because of ignorance and fear, we are refusing to face up to reality. Silently, we continue to allow others to deal with a problem that concerns us all. We recklessly avoid the evidence that they are making a complete mess of it.|
There it is. As clear and succint as you can get. One of the main reasons why the DrugWar, despite all the glaringly obvious evidence that it does not work, trundles along like Juggernaut, destroying lives and debasing nations.
Because the Mom and Pops of the countries most affected have chosen to bury their heads in the sand. For example: here in the States, how many DARE stickers do you see every day?
Do you think the parents who religiously display those stickers have any idea what their children are taught? Of course not; they are just relieved that someone else is taking the responsibility to speak to their children about drugs.
But I daresay that most would be horrified to learn of DARE's intel gathering activities, using children to spy on their parents. The conditioning of accepting such behavior as normal and natural. The outright lying.
Until Soccer Mom and Daddy Portfolio have their child denied a college school loan because of being caught with a joint - or as this unlucky woman's son was, thrown in the slammer with murderers and pervs - they'll blithely continue to scratch themselves and sheep-bleat "Just say Noh-oh-oh!" in unison. Until enough Joe and Josephine Sixpacks wake up - as this British version of one did - to the real dangers of the government War on (Some) Drugs, we get the same old tyranny.
At least in Britain they are starting to wake up. Whereas here, it might require something considerably more noisy and less restrained to accomplish the same result.
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