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The Drug Policy Sham 60 Myths, Lies and Misconceptions

By TheBigBadWolf, Apr 13, 2015 | Updated: Apr 14, 2015 | | |
  1. TheBigBadWolf
    The Drug Policy Sham

    60 Myths, Lies and Misconceptions

    Drug law and policy has its roots in fear, ignorance, racism and vested interest. Sadly, little has changed over the years. Drug discourse continues to be shaped more by punitive populism, isolated incidents and moral crusades, than scientific evidence, reason and rationality.
    To encourage a critical debate, I’ve tried to uncover some of the main myths, lies and misconceptions, which underpin, shape and inform drug policy thinking. Unless we expose the flawed notions and beliefs that infest our dominant drugs discourse, we risk producing further misguided drug policies and practices. Although punchy and accessible in style, each point below is carefully considered and can be academically supported – but that’s for another day, or a book!

    1. “There is a clear pharmacological definition for drugs.” There isn’t – what we classify as illegal ‘drugs’ is a 1950s & 60s social and cultural construct with no coherent pharmacological rationale. We fail to recognise alcohol, tobacco or caffeine as drugs – and maybe sugar should also be classified as a drug.

    2. “People who use drugs are suffering from substance use disorder.” Untrue – the vast majority of people using drugs, do so rationally, recreationally and sensibly, but unfortunately we conflate drug use with problematic use.

    3. “Drug users are dirty, immoral and dangerous losers.” An unjustified and hostile stereotype – illicit drug users are a diverse group of people from every walk of life. The drug business can be dirty, immoral and dangerous – but that’s because it’s illegal, extremely lucrative and subject to fierce law enforcement.

    4. “People take drugs because they have problems.” Untrue – most people take drugs because they enjoy the effect, just like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

    5. “Regular drug use inevitably leads to addiction.” Untrue – only a small proportion of people who use drugs develop addiction – just like alcohol.

    6. “Taking drugs damages people.” All substances (legal and illegal) can damage people, and the most damaging drug of all is a legal one – alcohol. However, prohibition makes illicit drugs more dangerous and damaging. In addition, acquiring a criminal record for drugs can be more harmful to life than the drug.

    7. “Drug use fuels crime.” The presence of a drug and the commission of a crime does not equate to a causal connection. The relationship is ‘associated’ rather than ‘causal’. However, there is evidence that prohibition and tough law enforcement fuel acquisitive and violent crime.

    8. “Legal drugs are safer and less harmful.” This is a particularly misleading statement, because alcohol and tobacco are far more damaging than most illegal drugs. However, prohibition makes it difficult to know the strength, ingredients or quality of illegal drugs, which in itself creates an entirely avoidable risk.

    9. “Law enforcement measures affect levels of drug use.” Studies show that in advanced western democracies neither tough, nor liberal law enforcement approaches have much impact upon levels of drug use.

    10. “Addiction is an equal opportunity employer.” Drug use is an equal opportunity employer, but chronic addiction isn’t. While anyone can be affected, chronic problematic drug use tends to disproportionately affect those with disadvantaged and damaged lives that had significant difficulties before PDU and these people lack the resources, opportunities and support to recover.

    11. “Addiction is a brain disease”. Untrue, yes the brain will be affected but loss of control of drugs (similar to internet addiction, gambling, over-eating) has much more to do with social, psychological and behavioural fact than neurological defects. If addiction was a brain disease MRIs would show diagnostic evidence of addiction.

    12. “The government can protect society by banning new drugs”. Banning drugs masquerades as positive action to deal with the ‘problem’ when actually banning drugs has little impact on use and makes production, distribution and consumption more dangerous.

    13. “Once listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act, drugs become controlled.” Technically correct – but once a drug is listed as a controlled drug, it is forced underground and thus becomes completely outside government/social control. So ironically a controlled drug, is by nature, an uncontrolled drug.

    14. “Cannabis is a gateway drug that leads to addiction to ‘hard’ drugs.” Untrue, most young adults have used cannabis and most have not progressed onto using other drugs, nor have they become ‘addicts’. The last three Presidents of the USA all successfully used cannabis without any gateway effect.

    15. “People who use caffeine, tobacco and/or alcohol are not drug users”. Untrue – they certainly are drug users and many are ‘addicts’. These three substances are all drugs, and ironically unlike some illegal drugs – in high dosages caffeine, tobacco and alcohol are toxic and result in death.

    16. “If we lock up dealers we can reduce the drug related violence.” The opposite is true, disrupting supply and removing dealers creates more violence by fuelling market uncertainty, presenting new business opportunities and creating ‘business’ conflict.

    17. “Drug use isn’t a crime issue it’s a health issue.” This may sound like a step in the right direction, but taking a substance isn’t inherently a health issue, anymore than enjoying a coffee or glass of wine is a ‘health issue’. Even problematic drug use isn’t best described as a health issue, it’s more accurately a social, psychological, health and/or legal issue.

    18. “There are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs.” There is no scientific evidence underpinning the misleading categorisation of hard and soft drugs. While some drugs can generally pose greater problems than other drugs to some people, – these generalisations are misleading because the impact of a drug varies from person to person depending upon the set (the person) and the setting (the environment) – it’s not just the substance.

    19. “Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous, and the proof they are dangerous is that they are illegal!” This circular Double-Speak offers no evidence and is used to defend prohibition, but the substances we have called ‘drugs’ are not inherently more dangerous than other substances such as alcohol, sugar, tobacco, fat, caffeine and peanuts. However, prohibition increases the risk, danger and uncertainty considerably.

    20. “Drug testing will tell you if a person is on drugs.” The result is unreliable due to human error, machine error, deliberate and accidental false positives and false negatives. Someone eating a poppy seed bagel could test positive for opiates. Someone who tests positive for cannabis may not have used the drug that day, however, because of the metabolites of the drug the positive result may be detecting cannabis used days, weeks or even months ago. Drug presence does not indicate drug impairment or intoxication.

    21. “Like everything else on the market drugs must be proven safe before they can ever be legalised.” Not true. The safety for other products does not have to be established before approval (for example mobile phones or GM foods). Substances that are damaging or even lethal to some such as tobacco, alcohol, peanuts are legal and promoted, whereas a drug such as cannabis that has medicinal benefits and has never killed anyone is considered dangerous and remains illegal.

    22. “People who use drugs are not criminals they need help.” An apparently benign and supportive statement, however, while taking a drug should not be a law enforcement concern, neither should we problematize or pathologize drug use as a health issue. There is no reason why we should assume a person using drugs needs help.

    23. “Recovery is about becoming drug free.” Recovery is about people who have been dependent on drugs regaining control of their life, but becoming drug free isn’t always necessary to achieve that. Some people sort their life out and continue to use in a non-problematic way, and some take clean legal prescribed substitutes such as methadone or heroin and successfully lead productive and stable lives.

    24. “Harm reduction is about reducing the spread of diseases.” Harm reduction is not just about health – it’s also about reducing social, cultural and psychological harms. Harm reduction is an evidence-based approach that should sit alongside human rights to underpin all drug policy. It’s pragmatic, humane and non judgemental, it engages people where they are at with a view to reducing risk and harm.

    25. “Harm reduction doesn’t support abstinence.” Harm reduction isn’t about getting people off drugs – it’s about working with people to reduce risks. However, in some cases abstinence might be a good way to reduce risks – so harm reduction incorporates abstinence – but only if the person is ready, able, interested and wanting to become abstinent.

    26. “Illegal drugs have little or no use in medicine.” Although this sentiment is enshrined in the much out-dated 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics it couldn’t be further from the truth. Opiates are essential in severe pain management, while cannabis and MDMA have medicinal benefits in the treatment of a growing number of conditions (e.g. MS, PTSD, Epilepsy). Illegality has made medical trials and acceptance extremely difficult.

    27. “People who use drugs need treatment not prison.” Another apparently positive statement however, people who use drugs don’t need treatment or prison anymore than someone who has a double espresso each morning, or the person who enjoys a glass of whisky before bedtime needs treatment or prison. Under the umbrella of ‘it’s better than prison’ all sorts of questionable practices can appear palatable.

    28. “To prevent stigma we need to understand addiction as a disease.” Yes we want to prevent stigma but addiction is not a disease. The most effective way to prevent stigma is to end the drug apartheid and challenge the hypocritical and flawed social construction of ‘drugs’.

    29. “Drug laws affect everyone the same.” This is not true. The chances of being stopped, searched, arrested and prosecuted for drug possession depends greatly on the colour of your skin, your social class, age, location and your social background.

    30. “If we try hard enough we can eradicate drugs.” A fallacy. Forty years of extremely tough prohibition involving masses of time and money for police, armed forces and customs has had no impact upon supply, price or use. They can’t even keep drugs out of high security prisons.

    31. “Heroin is a dangerous drug that damages your body.” Any street drug could be very damaging because illegality means the user hasn’t got a clue what’s in it. But clean pharmaceutical heroin (unlike alcohol) doesn’t cause any permanent damage to the body.

    32. “Crack cocaine in pregnancy leads to permanently damaged ‘crack’ babies.” There is no consistent evidence to support this claim. Longitudinal studies, indicate severe and enduring poverty appears to be the most significant factor that thwarts child progress and development, not parental crack cocaine use during pregnancy. So instead of emotively and inaccurately, focusing upon ‘crack babies’, it would be more appropriate to direct attention towards the plight of ‘poverty babies’.

    33. “Drug testing will help identify people who have a drug problem.” Besides its unreliability – at best drug testing only indicates drug presence, it provides no indication of the pattern, time, place, reason or context of drug use. A positive result indicates drug use not problematic use.

    34. “Law enforcement targets the most dangerous drugs.” Untrue, arrests and drug seizures for cannabis outnumber all the other drugs arrests combined. The war between drugs is largely a war on the relatively benign cannabis while the significantly more dangerous drug alcohol is enjoyed and promoted amongst law enforcement officials.

    35. “People caught with cannabis don’t end up in prison.” Untrue, many certainly do.

    36. “Drug law enforcement targets people who use drugs.” Levels of drug use across the white and black population are similar. However it depends upon the colour of your skin and your social status as to whether you will be targeted. If you are poor and have a minority ethnic heritage you are much more likely to be targeted – stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted and subsequently sentenced – for drug defined crime.

    37. “Heroin during pregnancy will cause permanent harm to the unborn child.” Street heroin is a problem because you don’t know what’s in it. But clean pharmaceutical heroin causes no known permanent damage to a baby. Once recovered from withdrawal symptoms babies will have no permanent harm. However, alcohol taken during pregnancy can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – a permanent condition.

    38. “A drug free world is desirable.” Drugs have been used since records began for pain relief, treating sickness, for relaxation and social reasons. Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco are drugs and arguably cocoa, sugar and fat too. A world without drugs is unthinkable, undesirable and untenable.

    39. “Illegal drugs kill people.” This is misleading because the majority of drug deaths are consequences of prohibition and a draconian drug policy that makes taking drugs uncertain and more dangerous and getting help risky. A lot of deaths could have otherwise been avoided.

    40. “Drug policy is based upon the best available evidence.” For decades research reports, reviews, inquiries, expert groups have provided mountain loads of evidence – but drug policy has repeatedly ignored the best available evidence and instead continued to uphold the principles of prohibition enshrined in the 1961 UN Single Convention. Drug policy is rooted in ideological beliefs and an attempt to seize the moral high ground, rather than science and evidence.

    41. “It’s a war on drugs.” Untrue – drugs have never been more accommodated, integrated or promoted. There is no war on alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar, fat or BigPharma drugs. It is a war on particular drugs that have been outlawed for political, social and economic reasons (not pharmacological or scientific reasons). It’s a ‘War Between Drugs’ enforced by an uncompromisingly tough Drug Apartheid.

    42. “Strict Regulation is the way forward.” Ideally, but it depends upon what regulation looks like. Not if that regulation (as illustrated in the New Zealand Psychoactive Substance Act 2013) means: you are now prohibited and punished for possession of substances not approved by the state (s.71 $500 fine); supply carries a 2 year prison sentence (s.70); all new psychoactive substances not listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act are automatically prohibited and the only way of acquiring ‘approved’ substances is through BigPharma or BigBusiness.

    43. “Every day drug free is a another day of being clean.” This is misleading, is anyone ever (and should they be?) drug free because we take caffeine, sugar, cocoa, aspirin, alcohol? More importantly this statement wrongly insinuates taking a drug is wrong and dirty and without them we become ‘clean’.

    44. “Alcohol occupies so much police time – imagine how bad it’d be if we legalise cannabis.” There is no comparison these are two different substances that impact behaviour very differently. It is rare for anyone on cannabis to be argumentative, aggressive and violent, unfortunately the same cannot be said for alcohol. It’s like saying we’ve seen the damaged caused from sports like rugby, so we have no intention of allowing tennis.

    45. “Legalising drugs is dangerous because more people will use drugs.” In countries where drugs have been legalised or decriminalised there has not been any overall increase in drug use. However, it is dangerous and problematic drug use that should concern us not drug use per se. People who are currently using unknown (purity, toxicity, ingredients, strength) street drugs and risking a criminal record will be in a much safer position.

    46. “Cannabis use by drivers is leading to more deaths on the road.” Unfounded. There is evidence that cannabis is increasingly found in blood samples but this presence of cannabis in the blood stream could arise from use of cannabis days, weeks, even months earlier. Drug presence doesn’t mean impairment.

    47. “Every drug death is further evidence of the dangers of drugs.” Most drug deaths are a by-product of draconian drug policy that could be avoided by a combination of decriminalisation, legalisation, naloxone distribution, safer drug use education, heroin assisted treatments, drug testing kits, drug consumption rooms and less intolerance and stigma.

    48. “The underground criminal business in drugs is enormous so we need tougher law enforcement.” Unfortunately, it is prohibition that has created these conditions in the first instance, more enforcement can only be expected to further increase the power and wealth of the criminal cartels and increase violence. However, decriminalisation and regulation could significantly reduce illegal drug business, and also reduce harms for users.

    49. “Better that someone gets treatment in Drug Court than go to prison.” Anything can appear palatable and justified if presented as an alternative to prison. For the overwhelming majority of non-problematic drug users, coercive treatment is pointless, expensive, and unethical. For the small minority of problematic users, better that people who need help can access that help in the community, following a thorough assessment, and a best-fit treatment plan that has access to a full range of services, rather than having to access an enforced abstinence 12 step programme through the criminal justice system.

    50. “The world would be a better place without drugs.” Drugs are vital in medicine and pain relief, they are also important for relaxing, sleeping, socialising, providing energy, thinking laterally, creatively and artistically. Legal drugs alcohol, caffeine and tobacco are used for these purposes every day, although other (currently illegal) drugs might be safer and better suited.

    51. “People grow out of taking drugs.” While there is evidence that people grow out of criminal activity, the use of prohibited drugs involves criminal risks, so if there is a shift away from illegal drugs at a later age it’s not necessarily the case that people are ‘growing out of drugs’, but perhaps, over time, they learn to avoid the associated criminal associations. There is no evidence people grow out of using the drugs alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

    52. “If strong evidence is provided drug laws will change” Strong reliable evidence is crucial to develop effective drug laws, but most advanced capitalist countries show little sign of being influenced by science and evidence. Instead they seem committed to an ideologically driven position to maintain the privilege of legal drugs by demonising all illicit drugs regardless of the harms caused.

    53. “Society needs to learn to accept drug use” With the massive range of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine products available, combined with the ever increasing range of pharmaceutical drugs, there is no doubt society already accepts, embraces and engages in drug use – on a daily basis! So this statement is misleading and feeds into the faulty thinking that fails to acknowledge legal substances as ‘ drug’ use. Society needs to learn to understand we are operating within a drug apartheid.

    54. “There is no cure for addictionAddiction is essentially a social and psychological condition, rooted in patterns of thinking, behaviour and lifestyle that’s got out of control. It’s not an incurable disease from which people never recover and are forced to live in ‘recovery’. The vast majority of people who become dependent successfully regain control, most of them without professional help. The large numbers who have quit smoking are a good example.

    55. “The only place for taking drugs is in medicine” It is a position you could hold for yourself, but it’s an extreme position that would mean no tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, fizzy drinks, sweets or cakes, most breakfast cereals etc (avoiding the drugs; alcohol, caffeine and sugar). It’s akin to saying the only acceptable reason for consuming food is to keep us healthy. Pleasure, relaxing, getting more energy, feeling sleepy or enhancing our senses are not unreasonable motivations for taking food or substances.

    56. “Drugs like cannabis are illegal” As a result of the 1961 UN Single Convention signature countries have made possession and cultivation of certain substances listed in the Convention a criminal offence. However, the substances themselves are not illegal, which raises the question why plants like cannabis, coca and the opium poppy are not illegal, on what basis can or should the police and armed forces search the countryside to dig up or destroy uncultivated plants.

    57. “The Drugs War has failed” That depends upon what you think the purpose is. If the drug war is understood through a neoliberal lens it has been a great success. It has preserved the privileged position granted to legal drug industry (caffeine, alcohol and tobacco); it has provided the state with considerable powers to control the poor, people of colour, indigenous people and the ‘other'; it has provided great numbers for the burgeoning and profitable penal industrial complex; and it has spawned extensive new testing and surveillance business opportunities in times of recession.

    58. “People choose to buy alcohol, caffeine and tobacco, but illegal drugs are pushed on people” This notion is deeply flawed. Most people are exposed to illicit drugs through friendship networks, whereas, legal drugs such as alcohol are actually pushed on people via advertising and sponsorship, and they are further pressured to use alcohol by powerful cultural norms to ‘celebrate’, ‘have fun’ and ‘join in’. So, if anything people are more likely to be ‘pushed’ into legal drugs.

    59. “Drugs are dangerous, that’s why we need regulation” Adopting prohibition arguments to draw people towards decriminalisation or regulation, only serves to perpetuate myths and misinformation. Drugs are not dangerous per se, and regulation can be so strict, it looks more like new prohibition.

    60. “Maybe we were wrong about cannabis” Don’t just isolate cannabis, drug control is wrong about all illicit drugs. It’s right that cannabis should be legalised and free for individuals to cultivate for personal use, but isolating cannabis and inviting this drug to enjoy the power and privilege in a corrupt system, only perpetuates the drug apartheid, it potentially weakens the opposition to it. So while cannabis should be legalised, the commitment needs to be focused upon exposing and dismantling the entire drug control system, so that all drugs are decriminalised and ultimately regulated, rather than select particular drugs to privilege and promote.

    © Copyright 2015 Julian Buchanan, with friendly permission of the author.


  1. Diverboone
    Amazing article, I only wish the supportive evidence for each of the 60 were available with the article. I can not see a flaw with any of the 60 theories/opinions, but to support the position of each the supportive evidence is a must. Over all a great find and article BBW
  2. julianbuchanan
    Glad you like it -I could support each of the claims - I just haven't had the time.
    If anyone has any points to debate I'm happy to engage

    For more critical drug policy blogs and articles just look me up on google (not allowed to post links here as I'm a newbie)


    Julian Buchanan, Associate Professor, Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
  3. zuubuu
    Great Post, the author already had me with
    - there's no way more straightforward to sum up the nonsense of the war on drugs.
    Thanks for sharing that one!
  4. Diverboone
    Great article Mr. Buchanan. The question is how do we the general public to understand that these are Myths, Lies, and misconceptions. Many of these myths have been so well socially constructed into our way of lives and beliefs that even many researchers in the scientific community accept them as fact.
  5. julianbuchanan
    I think you are right in saying that backing up the points with evidence is important - and I will do that when I get the time - but I also think that most people need reason, discussion and explanation rather than references. They need help to see outside the box, to see the issue from a different angle.

    I'm convinced that drug policy change will occur when the debate is taken out to the masses, to the public, rather than be won via research, reports, articles, inquiries. Here's why:

    Power, Democracy and Drug Reform: Challenging the War on Drugs

    The so called ‘War on Drugs’ never existed. There has never been a campaign against drugs. Society and governments appreciate the benefits and pleasures derived from drugs. Drugs have never been as popular as they are now. The overall availability, promotion and use of pharmaceutical and legal highs such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugar, has never been greater. These drugs escaped under the radar of the prohibitionist drug discourse that conveniently excludes them.

    What we have is a drug war, a war between drugs, or more accurately, a process best understood as a politically driven Drug Apartheid; an arbitrary separation, not of people, but of drugs, where alcohol, tobacco and caffeine enjoy privilege, power and promotion, while ‘controlled’ drugs – portrayed as unpredictable, threatening and dangerous – are subject to propaganda, misinformation and marginalisation. Society has been successfully indoctrinated, at a personal, cultural and institutional level, to believe this unfounded, unscientific and deeply damaging social construction of ‘drugs’.


    Anyone seeking to expose or challenge the drug apartheid, risks being ridiculed, and is vulnerable to public humiliation, as experienced by Professor David Nutt. The unwarranted and ill-founded attack on David Nutt was no isolated incident. Further, to deter any association with outlawed drugs, armed forces, customs officials, and police invest massive energy and resources, while magistrates and Judges impose some of the severest sentences available to the courts for drug violations. Such is the power of the drug apartheid, that a criminal conviction for using the ‘wrong drug’ results in life-long consequences for travel, employment, housing, relationship and opportunities. The ever increasing business opportunities and technologies, spawned from the drug apartheid, drug testing (urine, blood, hair, sweat, saliva, and waste water!), has enabled the oppressive regime to extend beyond law enforcement agencies, to the civil arena, so that surveillance, monitoring and sanctions to maintain the drug apartheid are now carried out by employers, benefit agencies, schools, colleges and even in homes by parents on their children.

    This untenable and indefensible position, of outlawing some drugs and privileging others, was enshrined in the 1961 UN Single Convention, a law that is rooted in moral and politically ideology from the 1930s, 40s & 50s. The decision to isolate a group of substances was never based upon science, reason or evidence. Yet ironically, since it’s inception, drug reformers have tried to end this drug war by confronting ideologically driven politicians, governments and NGO’s with evidence inquiries, research and debate.

    This drug reform effort, has for five decades (1960-2010), resulted in no significant drug law or policy change by any major advanced western capitalist country. The vast array of campaigns, reports, research, presentations, inquiries, reviews, and publications have for decades been consigned to a vacuum, while the increasingly wealthy and all powerful multi-national companies, with a vested interest in maintaining the drug apartheid, have worked closely alongside politicians and government agencies, to maintain drug policy inertia through propaganda, procrastination, misinformation and distortion.

    The latest US opinion poll (the General Social Survey), that explores support for cannabis legalisation, indicates that for almost 40 years (1970-2007) public interest in legalising cannabis changed little, fluctuating between 16% and 33% during that period. However, in the seven year period since 2007, support for legalisation has risen rapidly from 31% to 52%. How do we make sense of this dramatic shift?

    One influential contributing factor over this period, has been the global and widespread increased access to the internet, and the mass engagement with social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Scoop.it, LinkenIn and YouTube. Social media provides an alternative source to information, evidence and peer exchange, and has I believe, played a significant part in enabling the wider public to gain access to independent, research based knowledge and reason, necessary to critically consider and question the basis of the Drug Policy Sham. In particular, the widespread dissemination of research evidence, facts and case stories (such as Charlotte Figi), about cannabis to the public, has resulted in long overdue, and much needed calls for decriminalisation and legalisation, to allow people suffering with life limiting illnesses, that fail to respond to medicine, to explore possible benefits from cannabis, and sensibly too, to allow recreational use of cannabis. Personal possession of cannabis should never have been outlawed, but neither should personal possession of any substance. The risks associated with personal consumption of any substance is a health and social care issue, not a law enforcement issue (if it’s an issue at all!).

    The public acceptance of cannabis is a very significant shift, indeed, it could mark the ’tipping point’ – the start of the process that could see the end of the drug apartheid. But let’s be clear here, cannabis reform in the US is not occurring because fifty years of research, evidence and debate has finally persuaded politicians the drug war was a mistake, and the politicians are seeking legislative change. No, cannabis is being embraced, essentially because public insight and awareness has significantly increased since 2007, and there has been a shift in public opinion, that has resulted in serious electoral pressure upon politicians to enact cannabis law reform. The drive is coming from the grassroots, it’s not being led by politicians, instead governments are being forced to change.

    In an era where the interests and activities of multi-national companies and politicians are becoming increasingly enmeshed. An era where democracy seems unresponsive to the needs of the vulnerable, and shows little interest in the protection of the common good, another four decades of inquiries, reports, reviews towards incremental change, would be a grave strategic mistake. The leverage for drug reform will be found not in trying to persuade politicians or the UNODC to lead the way, but rather, by winning over mass public support, and utilising social media to develop well informed evidence based, community movements, to disseminate accurate information, share case studies and rally a public outcry to demands change.
    Despite this encouraging drug law reform development, in respect of cannabis, the attempts towards genuine global drug reform could easily be thwarted. If, as drug reformers, we are not clear in our arguments and strategies for reform, which should be firmly rooted in protecting human rights and promoting harm reduction, cannabis will simply be invited to join the other privileged legal drugs in the drug apartheid. This could be a positive outcome for: big business, who can extend their repertoire and profit from the commercial sale of cannabis; for the state, who can profit from taxes, as well as continue to utilise drug laws as a key control mechanism for stopping, searching, arresting and punishing the poor, indigenous and minority ethnic groups; and the business enterprises spawned from the drug wars, (the industrial penal complex, the drug testing industry and the drug treatment industries). In this pivotal period for drug reform, simply privileging cannabis and failing to address the fundamentally flawed system of drug control would amount to colluding with a corrupt system.

    Some drug reform entrepreneurs may attempt to hail privileging cannabis as an incremental step in the right direction, but the widespread and growing public support for decriminalisation, (and ultimately the regulation of all drugs), could be dissipated by this tokenistic gesture to invite cannabis to sit around the table of the powerful. While alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and maybe cannabis enjoy privileged status, the scourge, oppression and madness of a drug apartheid, remains an affront to human rights, a system of punishment and control that will continue to haunt this generation and future generations to come, one that will be remembered shamefully in history. The international system of drug control is deeply flawed and damaging to individuals, communities and countries. It needs naming, exposing and dismantling. There can be no minor adjustments, or so-called incremental steps to accommodate the status quo, abolition is what is required not compromise. This period of history will be recalled for the needless self-inflicted harm, imposed across the globe by a drug apartheid, in which drug laws and drug policy have caused considerably more harm than the drugs ever could.

    Julian Buchanan
  6. TheBigBadWolf
    I see that julianbuchanan hits a point here, while I know that even I could come up with sources to back up the claims in the OP, and I guess, Diverboone, you could do the same, it is an article rather than anything study-like, but that's not the point I wanted to mention - what the spot is he is hitting on is that through today's interaction over teh intertubezTM we have a much easier way of informing people of the truths about psychoactive substances - in any respect, not to forget the one of harm reduction - and as we are discussing on here we already reached, at the time of me writing this, reached 84 people who were interested and read this thread.
    The internet, and with it mainly the so-called "social media" help with it, if, yes if we only use it as a multiplicator tool.

    Today I had a talk with an acquaintance of mine, cigarette smoker, who has absolutely no clue about any of the forbidden fruit we so love to satisfy our sweet tooth on, she asking me that she didnt see the difference between people who take a substance on their own and people getting that substance prescribed by their doctors (mainly about my methadone 'therapy') and the only answer I could give her was that I am obviously not allowed to prescribe myself opiates whereas my doctor is. (and would theoretically even be allowed to prescribe it to themselves, but that was not point of the talk)

    People, even those who never had contact with people using mindaltering substances, have a head to think.

    Those who tend to believe what they ever believed will not accept any plausible sources anyway - I mean about half of American population believe that man didnt put foot on the moon...

    What is important in my experience is to be a new role model for "the substances-users".
    It may sound funny, but what can impress nearly everybody is to be different than the stereotypes poured onto general population.

    I've had many hours long discussions about drugs and whether the policy towards the topic was right - in many of these I have only revealed at the end that I am one of these lousy junkies and I earned very many "what? You?" because they equated drug user with nodded off junky with needle still stuck in his arm when said junky just had shattered their view on -well, their whole view on the topic.

    And if they need a source for all-to unbelieveable claims (none of the above mentioned) I can still link them to D-F. ;)

  7. Diverboone
    WOW! BBW I preach this theory and mind set to my drug using friends/peers all the time. I believe if we ever want to change the socially construction stereotypical stereotype of an illicit drug user, we have prove the stereotypes wrong. The best way to do this is by being responsible for our own actions.
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