Drug Classification - No Highs
Now I’m for the legalisation of all drugs. But I do get tired of the comments made in the campaigning by those who support the legalisation of ‘soft’ drugs but shy away from asking that everything be legalised.
Their claims tend to be based on the assertion that ‘cannabis is not as harmful as heroin etc therefore it should not be criminalised’. Its use is sometimes said to be virtually harmless, even beneficial for relaxation. But the endorsers of cannabis wilfully ignore the fact that cannabis use can induce schizophrenia in a significant minority of people. I know a few people myself who have had a psychotic episode after smoking cannabis and it is not a joke. To admit to this is not lining up with the forces of prohibition, it is simply being responsible and stating a fact. I would look pretty daft if I was to allege that ALL drugs were harmless as an argument for legalisation, or to openly praise the use of heroin or cocaine.
Alcohol has recently been said to be physically as harmful as heroin. This I can believe, as we are all too aware of the harm excessive alcohol use can do to the body, besides the negative social consequences of this legal drug. But recently the medical research council alleged that ecstasy is ‘several thousand’ times’ less harmful than heroin (see link). ‘Several’ thousand? Really? I somewhat doubt this. I doubt that this research was thorough enough. How can such a sweeping claim be verified? Not enough is known about the possible long term effects of ecstasy use, due to the illegality of the substance. And if the claim was true it would have to be deduced that ecstasy is also several thousand times less dangerous than alcohol, which seems a pretty long shot.
Such nonsense obviously gets sprouted because the soft drugs lobby are too cowardly to call for the legalisation of all drugs, including heroin (pharmaceutical name being diamorphine, a powerful painkiller used for serious injuries and terminal illnesses).
Ecstasy (MDMA) was, like LSD, a psychoactive drug initially used during psychoanalysis. Street Ecstasy is not pure MDMA, anymore than street heroin is the same as pharmaceutical diamorphine. Pure MDMA may be many times less harmful than street heroin, but such a comparison is pointless as pure MDMA is almost as elusive as pure diamorphine. Like street heroin, ecstasy is cut with all kinds of crap which obviously make the drug more dangerous than it would be in its pure form. Compare the risks of both drugs in their pure form and the results would look a touch different.
It is also worth noting that the risks of drugs vary. Heroin or diamorphine is not a psychoactive drug so it is not linked with psychosis in the same way that cannabis (or LSD) is. Although it can affect mental health its biggest risk in its pure form is its highly addictive quality. Psychoactive drugs have a far greater risk of causing psychosis in those who are susceptible, yet they are not addictive in the same way as opiates (morphine and derived offshoots). But these facts are distorted due to the way prohibition has created a bogeyman in the form of heroin as a yardstick to measure the risks of other drugs by. The fact that the risks of psychoactive drugs are different from those relating to opiates become obscured, and this is of no help to anyone. Neither is it of any help to pretend that cannabis is harmless while ‘heroin screws you up’ as an attempt to get the State off the backs of cannabis users.
Any debate or research into the harmfulness of various drugs is bound to be skewered by prohibition and its effects. The long term effect of any drug (in its pure, not adulterated form) can only be known in detail through long case studies, and prohibition has made this impossible to do. The soft drugs lobby will do well to remember that this applies to cannabis as much as any Class A drug. In Holland an increase in suicidal ideation has been noted since the law on cannabis was relaxed.
Having said all this I remain convinced that prohibition does more harm than any conceived benefits. I have witnessed its effects myself. Legalising all drugs will allow their use to be monitored and regulated, and more will come to be known about the long term effects (besides the fact that it will be safer for users, who need no longer use adulterated substances or commit crimes to feed expensive habits, so it would be less of a strain on society).
We only know about the effects associated with alcohol as it has always been legal.
Being for the legislation of all drugs, including heroin, does not equate with a cavalier attitude towards the harm they potentially cause. It can equate with a responsible approach that wishes to ensure people know and are aware of the possible risks. This is why the ‘cannabis is good’ brigade annoy me so, as they are not promoting responsible drug use.