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The War on Drugs

A UN consideration?

pot2Richard Branson made headlines yesterday with his declaration that the UN was about to announce a recommendation to end the war on drugs, however this seems to have been a misunderstanding because the UN was only talking about decriminalising the possession of small amounts of drugs as a partial solution to help stop the spread of HIV.

Drug use is seen by many as an antisocial epidemic, but for the majority of people, it’s just another crime or taboo so why do people use drugs?

In ancient tribal cultures, drugs were used to open the windows of perception and develop altered states of consciousness. The Shamen were able to connect with the movement of life and lead the tribe to the best hunting grounds or determine the nature of different plants and their healing uses.

The common people, the workers bored by the drudgery of life turned to mild stimulants such as coca leaf, kat, cannabis and alcohol. Apart from alcohol, most drugs had a benign effect on the users and social life although there is no doubt that people wanting to get things done would be frustrated by people failing to perform their duty to the community.

Unfortunately alcohol even though it is universally accepted today and available to everyone despite token regulations, this is the most dangerous drug because it blinds people to fundamental realities. It divides people from themselves and each other, and it is one of the leading protagonists in creating today’s world of terror by fuelling religion and greed.

“Today tablets are also labelled ecstasy. If there was a drug that you can take and be ecstatic for the rest of your life, what is the problem, let’s take it. But the problem is that it just gets you high for some time, then dumps you in such a bad way and in the process ruins you completely. If your intelligence still functions and it enhances you in every way, I don’t see what’s wrong with drugs. But that’s not what the drug does.

With drugs and addiction, both the body and the mind shrink. The physical capabilities will shrink and the mental capabilities will shrink. As a human being you are not enhanced, you are destroyed. However, devotion makes you hugely enhanced. You can do things that you never thought you could because there is no limitation on you.” Sadhguru

Drugs are a major problem for every society and there are many reports citing that the international trade in illegal drugs is facilitated under the protection of the United States military industrial complex. Therefore they can be no end to the war on drugs unless every country takes a new stance.

Portugal was the first country to decriminalise illicit drugs and one of the first savings was the vast amount of money and resources that went into trying to police the drugs trade. With the money they saved, they invested in treating addicts, the result has been an overall decline in illicit drug use.

Even within the United States, individual states are legalising cannabis and since doing so, they have found that the crime rate has fallen and because cannabis is taxed, the state has more money to spend on community services.

Richard Nixon declared the first “war on drugs” because the Nixon White House had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. They couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, they could disrupt those communities.  Nixon’s invention of the war on drugs as a political tool was cynical, but every president since — Democrat and Republican alike — has found it equally useful for one reason or another. But at the same time the CIA and US military was key in providing and profiting from those drugs.

At present there are some cracks opening up in the war on drugs because everyone can see there is no amount of police action and enforcement that can stop the trade. For every avenue of supply that is closed, another two open up. There is no doubt that some drugs are harmful but with decriminalisation and greater social equity, fewer people will turn to drugs in the first place because people turn to drugs when they are deeply unhappy.

Links:
The Guardian
Drug use in Portugal
The War on Drugs, how it began and why?
Cannabis, an ancient building material
Hempcrete in construction

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