July 20th, 2007

The War On Drugs

The war on drugs is stupid.  Mainly because it's a war on human nature. The need to get out of one's skull is a fundamental  human need- only a little less fundamental than the need for sex. Like all great Puritan enterprises- like Prohibition for instance- ithe war on drugs was doomed from the start.

By criminalising drugs we criminalise millions of overwise law-abiding citizens- and give thousands of not-so-law-abiding citizens a vast international business to get stuck into. Worse than that, we criminalise the economies of entire nations- eg Colombia and Afghanistan. 

Has the war on drugs achieved anything? Not that I can see. If anything it's been counterproductive. Our society is awash with the damn things. 

I'd legalise everything. Yes, I know drugs are dangerous. So is whiskey.   And, yes- OK- I also know this is pie-in-the-sky talk and we've got ourselves into a position where what I'm advocating is politically unthinkable so I might as well shut up.

But it's not as though drugs have always been criminalised. The war on drugs is a 20th century lunacy. It's akin to all those other 20th century lunacies- like facism and communism- that tried to change the human animal into something it isn't by  action of the state. The Victorians were up to their eyeballs in laudanum and it didn't stop them running an empire and writing great novels. 

In the past people were kept in line by the attitude of their peers.  Just because it was legal didn't mean everybody was doing it.  There was a stigma. Dr Watson didn't think it was clever of Holmes to mainline cocaine.  But at least addicts were pitied not banged up. 

I don't like drugs. I prefer to keep my head clear. For the record I've smoked dope and it made me cough and I've dropped acid and it made things go all funny. 

On the other hand if it hadn't been for the drugs Coleridge wouldn't have written Kubla Khan and Lennon wouldn't have written I Am The Walrus and Philip K Dick wouldn't have written anything.  Drugs do interesting things to the mind. It's sort of accepted that it's OK for artists and musicians to take drugs because it can be filed under research. It's OK for tribal shamans too. 

I'm not saying we should all take drugs. I'm saying we should all have the right to take drugs if we want to. Drug taking is a matter of personal morality. And for the State to intervene in matters of personal morality is despotic and futile.