Sunday, March 31, 2013

Aussies & Drugs

"Drugs, drugs, drugs. Line up and get your drugs, kiddies!"

It's an issue that's been beaten to death, but an issue that will be with us for as long as 'illicit' drugs themselves will be with us.

Just like every other issue that gets debated in a democratic country, there's the for and the against, all with good arguments, but as with all debates, there's no clear winner with a clear answer.

Let's look at our most prolific and most destructive drug: alcohol.

Yes. Booze!

Alcohol costs the Australian economy in health costs and damage to the community in the realm of tens of billions of dollars - it's cheap, it's legal, and it's tightly integrated into the Australian culture.

Young, old, rich, poor, we all love a tipple. So despite the calls for tighter regulation and higher taxation to lessen the impact of our most beloved booze, the industry is seemingly too powerful to challenge.

It sends politicians of all strains running.

Now, what about something 'illegal' - like marijuana.

I confess, I last tried marijuana at a party way back in 2004, and a couple of times before that over the course of a year - I can see its appeal, but I've also witnessed how it can become addictive, and with myself personally, it made me feel 'dumbed down' and sluggish for days after, despite what its adherents claim.

But yes, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale.

I just plumb didn't 'dig it', and I refused all offers from friends of a toke thereafter.

That's not to say I don't 'like' the people that consume it - I'm yet to meet one violent high person (unless they're drunk as well), and one could argue that it is vastly less destructive than our good friend alcohol.

However, there is a stigma that certain sections of society that smoke it.

A poor person smoking marijuana is 'bad'.

"AGAINST THE WALL! Test his piss! My tax dollars aren't paying for THAT!"

A suave, young, creative university hipster student however smoking marijuana is 'good'.

"He's only young, and so what if my tax dollars support his university placement, he's talented and needs it to develop his art; they're our future leaders!"

So if you're not 'cool' enough to smoke marijuana, perhaps you shouldn't; however if you're in your mid 40s for instance, unemployed, and smoke dope all day, maybe we should test your piss.

Hmm, maybe I just perpetuated a stereotype.

And then of course there's stuff like heroin, because marijuana is for pussies, anyway right?

Warring Mexican drug cartels, which are costing their own country dearly, flood city streets with the likes of meth, heroin and cocaine, and the kiddies think it's cool.

That's an area of the drug spectrum I know little of, so perhaps I should take to the streets and ask the cool kiddies in flat-brimmed cap hats what the latest, hip, cool, funky drug is.

Maybe it's cat pee, ala South Park's 'cheezing'.

Who knows.

What I do know, is that if something is illegal, it becomes dark and mysterious, and something that certain sectors of society will want to try; in the case of drugs, a massive black market opens up.

Imagine for a moment if marijuana was decriminalised.

Imagine further if the government could collect taxes from its sale - it already collects taxes from the sale of tobacco and alcohol - so no one in positions of power can claim moral superiority when they already skim the fat off the human misery those two drugs cause.

It would take away some of the profit and power of our dinkey-die dope growers, and perhaps turn them into legitimate businessmen, if it could be properly regulated.

Of course, the moral panic in this country over things such as marijuana and gay marriage always prevails over plain common sense, so unfortunately, no progress will be made in the near term.

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