Friday, November 25, 2011

The War on (benign) Drugs

The Wire (there he goes again) is, amongst other things, an argument for the legalisation of drugs by way of a scathing critique on the so-called War on Drugs, which Noam Chomsky says "has little to do with drugs but a lot to do with distracting the population, increasing repression in the inner cities, and building support for the attack on civil liberties".

Legalising a drug like heroin has always seemed foolish to me. Even Bunny Colvin couldn't convince me otherwise. Heroin ruins lives, and that's all the reason I need to make its possession and distribution a criminal offense. But then I read this:

Heroin is not a poison. Contrary to popular belief, pure heroin, properly handled, is a benign drug. In the words of a 1965 New York study by Dr Richard Brotman: 'Medical knowledge has long since laid to rest the myth that opiates observably harm the body.' Contrary to popular belief, it is rather difficult to kill yourself with heroin: the gap between a therapeutic and a fatal dose is far wider than it is, for example, with paracetamol. It is addictive -- and that is a very good reason not to use it -- but its most notable side effect on the physical, mental and moral condition of its users is constipation. The truth is that all of the illness and misery and death which are associated with heroin are, in fact, the effect not of the drug itself but of the black market on which it is sold as a result of this war on drugs.

Maybe Bunny was right all along.

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