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Sunday, 19 June 2011

The War on Drugs - How to Marginalise Your Citizens

Not for the first time, reports, panels and experts are trying to tell the US and European governments that, as far as Drugs are concerned, they have got it badly wrong. Expect deaf ears. Politicians are professionally obliged to believe that being Soft on Drugs will endanger them as a species in the same way as would being Soft on Terror - and, in the past, Soft on Communism.

Illegal drugs have been freely available in the US and Europe for decades at least. As a student in the 1960s, I never really got beyond cannabis since I disliked the idea of swallowing pills of unknown composition. So I never tried LSD. But both cannabis and pills of all kinds were around for the taking and you didn't have to be a hippy or a drop-out to come across them.

Drugs are now even more around. In the 60s, alcohol was our drug of choice for discos. Now when young people go clubbing, it is ecstasy or MDNA or cocaine or .. whatever is flavour of the times.

One consequence of the politicians' stance (they are all in this together, remember) is that they have marginalised a significant proportion of young citizens, all of whom are at least weekend criminals: that's what recreational drug use implies.

And once you become a weekend criminal, you are going to be suspicious of those out to get you - the police and those who direct their clumsy efforts, the politicians.

To put it bluntly, for this and other reasons, the political classes of Western countries do not connect with the next generation of citizens. The gap is huge. Like that (but for different reasons) between rulers and youthful ruled in countries of the Middle East.

That is why decriminalising drug possession for personal use (or however it is phrased) might be quite a big step towards reintegrating anyone under 25 (30?) into the politics and civic life of their country.

It may be reintegration that politicians would be most uncomfortable with: their comfort zone is a world which consists of ordinaryhardworkingfamilies and seniorcitizens.

1 comment:

  1. Quick correction - it's MDMA, not MDNA. And Ecstasy is just a commercial term for the same compound.