Many people feel that as far as human rights go, drug prohibition is not a serious issue. Their reasons range from the fact that drug use is prevailent despite prohibition to idea that drug use itself is somehow intrinsically wrong. Either way, the rights of individuals to choose what substances they ingest is given marginal importance in many social activists’ minds.
Ironically, this fact is one of the most insidious aspects of prohibition. The first step towards demonizing a group of people is to ridicule them and their views. This demonization is such that every country is bound by international treaty to persecute illicit drug users and there is little political will to stop them. Despite the often deadly results of legal drug use, it is somehow acceptable for the state to dictate what is acceptable personal drug use and impose criminal penalties on those who choose otherwise.
Yet, if such sanctions were imposed on other personal practices like sex or religion, or based on race or gender, the issue would be taken more seriously. Our Western governments would be seen would as totalitarian if they supported any racist, religious or homophobic doctrines. Certainly those nations that do oppress their people on these frounds are seen as such.
In a society that has recently seen the failure of alcohol prohibition, it seems unimaginable that ohter intoxicants can be outlawed and its users labelled criminals. Today’s prohibition against popular recreational substances is equally ineffective at lowering availability and deacresing use and drug profits are commonly used to fund actual criminal enterprise. Prohibition not only harms the individual drug user with criminal sanctions, but society as a whole by fueling street gang and drug cartel related violence.
Unfortunately, history has shown that oppressed people are seldom handed their freedom. The struggles for racial and gender equality came after long, hard struggles, and continue to this day. It is the same for users of illicit drugs; society will only treat people equally when they stand up and demand their freedom.
And that’s a serious issue.
That was the text for my segment on Friday’s (Nov 25) Cannabis Culture News. I will try to do one each week, and it looks like I will be the co-host of the show with Jeremiah next week.
You can watch that and more on Pot.tv