Gosh, there seem to be a lot of drugs in the news these days. There’s a study out associating cannabis and mental illness. Meanwhile, drugs destroyed the Tour de France, are one of the main obstacles to peace in Afghanistan, and my home town of Vancouver is itself an interesting little narcotics lab (for what it’s worth, I think the 2003 piece linked there is one of the best things I ever wrote on this blog).
In the original write-up of the study, some researcher is quoted as saying “Experts are now agreed on the connection between cannabis and psychoses. What we need now is for 14-year-olds to know it.” Well, yeah, I was once a teenager being cautioned about the dangers of marijuana, and I’m still kind of mad at my parents’ generation: its officials and authorities told us, time and again, that it led to heroin, that it caused all kinds of diseases, that it was actually addictive. “The really damning research is just emerging” they kept saying. In fact they were lying, and caused a whole generation of people to disbelieve anything grown-ups said about drugs.
I smoked pot in the Seventies and enjoyed it. If it were legal I might do it again, except for probably not; I seem to recall it being extremely time-consuming, and my time is pretty well spoken for.
Maybe when I’m a bit older; I saw my Dad get sucked into the Alzheimer’s vortex, and that’s a bad, bad way to go. I see that there’s reason to think that cannabis’ active ingredient might mitigate or delay Alzheimer’s. I was amused by this quote: “Wenk cautions, however, that WIN-55212-2 still causes psychoactive effects similar to cannabis, and as such is not yet a candidate for human use.” Um, let’s see... the cost of pushing back a brutal ugly slow path to death is getting high from time to time. Yep, I could make that sacrifice.
But still, when the subject comes up with my kids, I’m going to be brutally honest, show them exactly where heroin and crack and meth lead—the facts aren’t hard to come by, and you can see them walking down the street ten minutes’ drive from where I live. On pot, they’ll hear from me about the bad side of going outside the law even when the law is stupid, and how they ought to be focusing on learning and figuring out what their life’s going to be. But I’m not going to tell them it’ll turn them into junkies or psychotics, because we should have learned by now that lying doesn’t work.
And any thinking person can see that law-enforcement efforts against cannabis have been a messy, expensive failure whose main accomplishment is enriching a great many very bad people.
Drugs OK, Then? No · My basic point is the same one I was making in 2003: narcotics are different enough from each other that any phrase involving the word “drug” is probably dangerously misleading: “drug abuse”, “war on drugs”, and so on. It’s the kind of thinking that leads to parents lying to teenagers.
Let’s look at the Tour de France, for example; recently I wrote that it should just be bloody well shut down. Check the comments to that piece; quite a few people are saying “whatever, let ’em take what they want”. That seems all wrong to me; research has shown that these people will trade their health, their life even, for winning this race this year. We can’t let them do that, and turning the competition into lab-vs-lab seems to miss the point in an obscene kind of way. If they can’t fix it, they should stop the race.
Afghanistan · This is a tough one. The guys we’re fighting over there are bad guys, the worst kind of menacing medievalist morons; I have no qualms about trying to wipe ’em out. On the other hand the vast majority, just like everywhere, want to earn their living in peace, and the best way for them to do that is by growing opium poppies. If we try to stop them, maybe we drive them into the arms of the other side; odd, that, since the Taleban, who did not offer good government, did nonetheless temporarily shut down the opium biz.
There are lots of legal opiates, I’ve been thankful for them once or twice in post-op mode myself. But that’s not a solution, because it’s the fact that heroin is illegal that makes the crop profitable. I have no idea what to do. On the face of it, heroin isn’t like pot and it’s hard to be comfortable decriminalizing it. But a reasonable person has to ask, given that all these decades of law enforcement haven’t made much progress, and that the War on Drugs is enriching all the wrong people, and the fact that while heroin is bad, it’s nowhere near as bad as crack and meth and friends, whether our current approach is really, at the end of the day, rational.