Talk of decriminalising or legalising drugs as mooted by Transform and Release is rooted in a fictitious construct about how the law operates. They are seeing the whole thing in reverse, ascribing legal status to objects; this is impossible. One result is that the entire system of addressing negative outcomes connected with human actions associated with drug misuse is lost. The envisaged regulatory system of controlling human actions has been replaced with an indivisible illegality imposed on some persons concerned with some drugs, this via the misnomer that (some) potentially harmful drugs are illegal and some are legal. Tom Lloyd was right in his oral evidence to point out that this is nonsense, but he did not touch upon the profound significance of the replacement of the legal subject (person) with an object (drug). Simply put, we are avoiding the elephant in the room, we completely misconstrue the Misuse of Drugs Act with catastrophic consequences for all.
The expression ‘war on drugs' masks the true focus of attack, which is people who use some drugs (and indeed the possibility that any one of us might one day wish to), it is people who endure a perpetual climate of suspicion and stigmatisation irrespective of the need for the administrators to demonstrate any of the anti-social mischief. Concurrent over and under regulation of different classes of drug user thwarts the proper application of the law and progress in this arena. When we think of a war on people, it seems unconscionable to talk about winning it, its unjust and unconscionable; the various punitive policies are arbitrary.
Via objectification, the whole human rights discourse and libertarian considerations are obscured. Many consider that this is a war upon our possibilities to benefit from open objective research into remarkable molecules. Civilisation mandates that we have inalienable rights as human beings, rights to know what is. We think, we are conscious, we are chemical - controlling body chemistry is something that should be done with anxious concern for the limitations we impose on the experience of being. Why is personal chemistry any business of the state whilst persons experiment peacefully and do not endanger others? My message is that by misconstruing the problem we lost ourselves to pernicious censorship of the self. The state refuse to recognise legitimate uses for thousands of molecules both naturally occurring and synthetic; all proportionality of interference has been lost to a double-speak concerning a supposed war on illegal objects. There is no threshold for interference into some people’s lives, they are deemed fair game before a significant anti-social outcome can even be foreseen.
We might contemplate a ‘war’ targeting the worst outcomes of drug misuse, and develop best policies concerning harm reduction and prevention. Yet we ended up in this mess by failing to differentiate between good, acceptable and bad outcomes for some drug users, after all, ‘it‘ is supposedly illegal. Yet there is no law against using any drug except opium. The law is supposed to regulate property to curb misuse, not to deny all use in almost all circumstances for controlled drugs. Information is deemed to be lacking in credibility because it is so lacking. Most people misusing drugs are completely ignored by the administrators of the law, a policy borne of “cultural and historic preferences“# that declares them lawful within the purview of the very law supposed to address such misuse, this by merit of them being associated with supposedly ‘legal drugs’ - the law is drafted to be neutral, people are not supposed to be exempt!
In the resultant artificial divide between different classes of persons using different drugs, some people are awarded privileged property rights, and others are denied their rights absolutely. This is maintained via the abuse of power inherent within the misadministration of outcome-based neutral primary law. Using a ‘smoke and mirrors’ deception, that the law controls drugs not persons, the government cannot recognise the Misuse of Drug’s Act’s true form to address antisocial outcomes via the flexible regulation of different persons with respect to different drugs#. Rather their policy protects vested interests in drugs, this by according sacrosanct status to some persons, resulting in the irrational policy that presumes that some drug taking is presumed more worthy, even holier than other possibly potentially less harmful consciousness modifying practices.
The flip side of the ’illegal drugs’ myth is the myth of ‘legal drugs’ - the lie that some people are exempted from the law. The majority would not tolerate sufferance of imprisonment for having a peaceful home brewing interest - yet a cultivator of cannabis loses their liberty. This is perverse social engineering towards poor drug choices.
Darryl Bickler is a co-founder of the Drug Equality Alliance and a solicitor formerly practicing in criminal law and human rights.blog comments powered by Disqus