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Drug Problem or Drug Solutions: Columns From the Whitstable Times

CJ Stone is an author and columnist, with seven books to his credit. He lives in Whitstable and currently writes for the Whitstable Gazette.


1. Reclassification


On the 29th of October 2003 cannabis was reclassified as a class C drug in the United Kingdom. This doesn't mean that it is became legal. It simply means that, as a consequence, possession of small amounts of cannabis are now less likely to result in a prison sentence; but it is still up to the discretion of the individual Police Authority to determine the exact policy.

In other words, whether you go to prison or not is dependent on which part of the country you happen to live.

At the same time, Michael Howard was refusing to say whether he ever smoked it or not, which implies (to my mind at least) that he probably did. Otherwise, why not simply say "no"?

You may wonder what all the fuss is about. There can't be all that many people under a certain age who haven't tried it. And while for people of my generation there was a degree of deliberate rebellion in the act, for younger people it is merely an everyday part of growing up, like going into a pub for the first time, or taking your first driving lessons.

It seems there is a certain amount of confusion around the subject. Is it dangerous? Well, yes. Excessive use has been known to cause a form of psychosis amongst those with a tendency to mental illness. But then again, excessive drinking and smoking is dangerous too. So is excessive eating or excessive speed while driving. No one is suggesting making driving a crime because some people have a tendency to go over the speed limit are they? For that matter, excessive home-decoration is a known killer, more people dying from domestic accidents than all the drug related deaths put together.

Maybe we should make DIY illegal then? There are probably countless hen-pecked husbands out there who are already relishing the prospect.

Mind you, there may be other, much more compelling reasons to keep cannabis illegal. In my experience it has a tendency to make you stupid. Anyone who has sat in a room full of dope smokers will know what I'm talking about. All those meaningless sentences: "Yeah man, yeah, far out, too much, yeah." The inane giggling at nothing in particular. The long periods of dopey silence. That's why they call it "dope": it turns you into one.

Also dope smokers have a problem with short-term memory loss. They tend to forget what they were talking about halfway through a sentence. As for making practical arrangements: well forget it. They live in another time dimension than the rest of us, always at least two hours late, too entranced by the cosmic imminence of the moment to notice what time it actually is.

Well I'm being facetious here. And the fact is that there are serious political and social implications to the continued prohibition of what is, in all other respects, a very useful crop, not least to third-world farmers. Just to give you one glaring example: Afghanistan, once the source of a particularly prized and almost insanely strong black resin, is now the source of a large percentage of the world's heroin instead.

I use the word "prohibition" deliberately, just to remind you of one particular legal experiment back in the thirties. And the fact is, that reclassification of cannabis does nothing to take it out of the hands of the same criminal gangs who, in that earlier era, made huge profits from their control of illegal alcohol.

It's called "supply and demand." Where there is a demand, there will always be a supply. What matters is who controls that supply, and for what purposes.

2. Human rights


I never touch the cannabis myself, having had my own vaguely psychotic experiences back in the seventies. I decided I didn't like it any more and gave it up overnight. This was after three years of smoking it all day, every day, from morning till night, and I didn't miss it in the slightest, and have never missed it since.

My sincere belief that cannabis ought to be made legal has nothing to do with the intoxicating effects, however. It has to do with the arrogance and absurdity of legislating against anything that grows out of the ground. It would be like making parsley illegal.

There are also human rights implications, to do with the criminalisation of such large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Ask yourself this: why is there more crime on this planet now than there used to be? Part of the reason, surely, is that we have made more things illegal.

Most of the arguments for the continued prohibition of cannabis are, in my view, actually arguments for its legalisation.

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The fact that cannabis may harm teenage boys, for instance, is an argument for an age limit to be set on its use and, by definition, you cannot put legislative constraints on something that is beyond the law.

Prohibition of cannabis has had the same effect that prohibition of alcohol had in an earlier era, that is it has brought vast revenues to the gangsters, while, at the same time, hugely inflating prices.

I cannot imagine that those who argue for prohibition are intending to encourage gangsterism, and yet that is precisely the effect. Gangsters thrive wherever there is a profit to be made from illegal substances.

This is made worse by the fact that cannabis is so much more than just an intoxicant. It is also a food, a medicine, a building resource, a source of fibre for paper and cloth, a source for biomass and oil, a source for biodegradable packaging, good for the soil, good for the air, good for the planet.

It has a recorded history going back over two thousand years, and has probably been used, in one form or another, ever since human beings first began to work and to build.

It grows in almost every climate and almost every condition, on mountains and in deserts, in the tropics and in the temperate zones, all over the Earth.

Wherever human beings have migrated, there you will find cannabis.

What I find most intolerable is the arrogance of certain people in power, who think they know better than the rest of us what is good for us and what is not.

Legislation against cannabis is actually legislation against nature and against history.

It is legislation against farmers.

It is legislation against our future survival on this planet.

Me: I'm just fed up with being told what to do by people who really don't know all that much.

3. Diamorphine

Currently there is a shortage of diamorphine in the UK. Diamorphine is the world's most powerful painkiller, used in the treatment of people dying of cancer and other dreadful diseases. The current shortage means that many people may be suffering undue pain and indignity in the final stages of their lives.

Diamorphine is the clinical name for heroin. As diamorphine it is legal on prescription. As heroin it is a Class A controlled substance. Anyone caught possessing heroin can get up to a seven year prison sentence. Our prisons are overcrowded with heroin addicts and awash with heroin.

Meanwhile the British army are fighting and dying in Helmand province in Afghanistan in order, apparently, to eliminate opium production. About 87% of the world's opium is grown in Afghanistan.

Diamorphine is a semi-synthetic derivative of opium. In other words the British army are in Helmand province in order to eradicate something that we are short of in the UK.

This is only one of the many contradictions inherent in the drug trade. Here is another.

Wars are about the control of commodities. The war in Columbia is about control of cocaine. The war in Afghanistan is about control of opium. By limiting the supply we increase the value. In other words, by attempting to eradicate heroin production we actually encourage it.

So - you have to ask - who's purpose does this serve? Who has most to gain from the restriction in the amount of heroin available?

In case you can't work it out: it is drug dealers who gain, the warlords and drug barons. It is drug dealers who reap the huge profits that are generated by turning an abundant and cheap commodity into a rare and expensive one.

What you probably don't know is that for many years the CIA were also directly implicated in the world heroin trade, as shown by Dr Alfred McCoy in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.

In other words the supply of heroin has been historically facilitated by the very organisation charged with its destruction.

Due to its controlled status, diamorphine is also becoming increasingly expensive to produce legally. This is because there are obvious security issues around its production.

You can't just set up a heroin factory like you can a sweet factory. You have to have a large security force to protect it. So, although the NHS is spending about the same amount on diamorphine as it spent two years ago, the drug companies are actually providing it with about a third less.

So we have a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. We have poor farmers fighting to prevent the loss of their only cash crop. We have warlords and drug barons. We have a shortage of expensive-to-produce diamorphine. We have large profits being made by drug companies and security companies. We have people dying in unimaginable pain. And we have junkies on our streets and breaking into our homes in order to get the money to pay for what is, in fact, an abundant substance in nature.

Hasn't anybody noticed yet? Current drug policies aren't working.

4. White Lightning


So this is my view. I think that cannabis should be legal, and that heroin should be treated as a medical rather than a criminal problem. Different drugs have their different purposes, and most of them are the by-products of nature in any case. The idea that we should spend our time legislating against what grows from the earth seems to me to be the height of insanity.

But there's one other drug that I want to talk about: alcohol.

Now I'm an old drinker myself. I've spent more hours in pubs than I care to remember, and most evenings I will have a can or two cooling in the fridge, ready to open should the occasion arise. Which it usually does: around ten-past-ten, just as I'm starting to get irritated with the inanities of the Ten O'Clock News, while waiting for Newsnight to start.

I've also taken, or watched the consequences of, almost every drug, legal or otherwise, that the world has to offer. And what I have to say now is: that alcohol is as dangerous, as addictive, and as life-destroying as any of them.

The reason I'm saying this is that I have just had a direct experience of someone whose problems with alcohol bear comparison with the worst excesses of heroin addiction.

I won't name any names. I'm sure most of you have known people like this. As for the rest, what I'm about to describe can be understood as a particular example of what I take to be a general malaise: the problem of a whole generation of lost and disillusioned youth who, for lack of any other stimulant, have turned to alcohol as a cheap, mindless and meaningless thrill.

I say "cheap" and I mean it. The joy of alcohol is the joy of the old-fashioned pub, with its atmosphere, and its company, with its camaraderie and its banter. But pubs are expensive, and there's a lot of very cheap and very nasty alcohol out there. Specifically there are those white ciders, like White Lighting or Diamond White, usually around £3 for three litres: seven and a half percent proof. That's about 50p a pint and twice as strong as anything you would find in a pub.

Actually to call them "cider" is almost a breach of the Trade's Descriptions Act. If these brews have ever even been close a cider-apple, it was probably very early in the process. Since then, who knows what other ingredients they've added, what other peculiar chemicals they've mixed in to make the hit even stronger?

This is the stuff that the kids are drinking; and not in the pub, where social pressure can usually keep the lid on the worst excesses of alcohol. No: they're drinking it in the street, or at home, and in vast quantities, and this is real trouble in the making, a real danger to our community.

So you think that a few dope-smokers lolling about in their front-room listening to Jimi Hendrix is a problem? Or a few people dancing the night away to juddering rave-music and being all lovey-dovey on Ecstasy? You ain't seen nothing yet.

So I watch a nice, mild-mannered, middle-class lad from a good background turn into a ravening monster overnight; I watch a young man (hardly older than my son) with good prospects, with a job, a girlfriend and a flat, lose everything in the space of less than six weeks because he can't even look at alcohol without it turning into a life-threatening bender, and I think that if there's a case for regulation of drugs then this is it.

White Lighting should be available on prescription only.

5. Binge drinking


Alcohol prices went up by 6% above the rate inflation in the budget, supposedly to combat binge drinking.

That's 4p on a pint of beer, 14p on a bottle of wine, and 55p on a bottle of spirits. So, now, I can already hear the binge drinkers thinking to themselves. "Fourteen pence on a bottle of Chardonnay. Clearly I will have to drink more responsibly from now on."

Anyone who imagines that this is the way that drinkers think is either self-delusional or stupid or both.

The price of alcohol is NOT the cause of binge drinking. The cause of binge drinking is the discrepancy between the price of drink in the supermarket and the price in the pub.

Alcohol from the supermarket is still very, very cheap.

I went up to Tesco to check. There was a special offer on Carlsburg: an 18-pack for £6.49. That's 18 cans of medium strength lager for the price of two pints down the pub. If that's not an encouragement to drink at home then I don't know what is. Even assuming you were planning to go out, you'd be likely to down a few cans of lager before you stepped out of your front door. Most binge drinkers are tanked up long before they hit the pub.

And Carlsburg is at the sophisticated end of binge drinking culture. If you are really interested in experimenting with the lifestyle then I would suggest cider: preferably one of those white varieties like White Lightning, 7.5 proof, strong enough to turn your brains into noodle soup.

The problem is in the quality of the alcohol, not the price.

The French get cheap alcohol, but you don't see many of them falling over on the High Street, waving their legs in the air and showing their knickers.

Wine in France is relatively cheap, but consumed with a certain savour and intelligence. The French drink from childhood, and have never felt the need to introduce licensing hours or limitations on their drinking.

If price was the cause of binge drinking then the British would already be the most responsible drinkers in Europe.

This is also one more nail in the coffin of the traditional British pub. This from a government led by Gordon Brown, the man who wants to promote "Britishness" and who would have us all taking an oath of allegiance to the Queen whether we want to or not.

The joke here is that these exhortations to patriotism come from a man who, under Tony Blair, presided over the transformation of the British Armed Forces into a mercenary army ready to serve the interests of a handful of foreign corporations in their quest to grab the Earth's resources.

How patriotic is that?

He was also - as Chancellor of the Exchequer - responsible for the on-going sell-off of our public services, most of which have been knocked out at bargain basement prices in the corporate takeover of these Isles.

It's no wonder young people want to get drunk. They've had their future sold from under them. There's been a "For Sale" sign on the door of the nation for nearly thirty years now.

Britain. Sold to the highest bidder. Too drunk to care.


© 2008 Christopher James Stone


ChrisB on March 27, 2011:

A fantastic article. One of the more lucid, reality based case in point I've come across.

d.c.gallin on December 13, 2010:

Fantastic hub, more please

Erin Holladay on July 07, 2010:

A lot has changed in terms of politics since this hub was first written. Studies have been done to really sway sides on this topic. Great hub however.

kj8 from Australia on February 01, 2010:

Great hub!

shoroq on March 15, 2009:

lovely.... great article,,, :)

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on February 13, 2009:

Bibbi, I might well have a go at that soon.

bibbi from Brussels-Rome on February 12, 2009:

In general I agree with all you said on this issue. Marijuana is both a social and political issue. It is known that especially during the turbulent teenage years, what is forbidden attracts naïve, but first of all curious and adventurous young minds. As I live in Brussels I can get to Holland even by foot. Holland is with no doubt the Paradise, or lets say the Garden of Eden of Cannabis. The legalization of this drug helped the government to control the traffic and the quality of the product. The mafia hiding behind this green plant is slowly burning in this peaceful country of Northern Europe. It is true that this radical enlargement of horizons created a wave of "Drug Tourism", and the feeling that even the nature is stoned in this country. What I admire however, is the fact that there are no taboos surrounding this drug in Holland. I guess that the situation will start to change in a few years as tourists are literally colonizing all the Coffee Shops. I would like to propose you something CJ Stone. Why don't you write a hub on whether to legalize or not prostitution. Dangerous but powerful subject.

Mary Tinkler from Gresham on October 16, 2008:

Better late than never.....great post. I feel the slow acceptance and legalization of MJ is a somewhat genrational thing....people who understand its nearly benign qualities will be making the rules as the older generations drop out of power.

Here in Oregon we have over 80,000 medical marijauna patients and affiliates (growers & caregivers). Recently one license holder went WAY WAY over the limits and abused the rights. Huge operation, traffic, guns. Got busted. Just stupid, because the limits are clear. However not much could be done in the way of prosecution. The idiot was out of compliance and so lost his license to grow, but that is all. That pissed off the authorities. Of course the police now want all those patients' status as licensees made public in state records....want to have the right to walk into homes and check for compliance. Logically since pot is still blackmarket goods to everyone but the patients, up till now those records have been that patients don't have nefarious types home-invading to steal their medicine and plants. The police would like to make them all targets!

Al I know is I never heard of a person beating up their spouse after they had too much to smoke. Keep the prozac, smoke a j.

Amanda Severn from UK on September 12, 2008:

I've never had a problem with alcohol, thank God, but I have had several close friends who have, and I lost one very special friend to alcohol at only 32. Having sat next to hospital beds on numerous occassions watching people I care about with tubes up their noses, their bellies impossibly distended on their emaciated frames suffering from liver disease or pancreatitis I feel qualified to say that alcohol wreaks far more havoc than cannabis. If only we knew the true story behind how this whole government/revenue thing works, and how much pharmaceutical money goes into party funds. That would be an eye-opener indeed.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on September 07, 2008:

Cheers DJ

DJ Funktual from One Nation Under a Groove on September 07, 2008:

Best hub I ever read. Thank you for all thic CJ. So glad to have met you.

privateye2500 from Canada, USA, London on August 28, 2008:

I SO agree with you and I have thought for a long time that the USA, Canada, UK etc...should make BOOZE illegal and make pot Legal. Boozing is SO much more dangerous for yourself AND other people!!

How many pot smokers get into high-speed vehicle crashes while stoned, crash and kill people? ummmm - None!!

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on August 24, 2008:

Yes, great stuff, and all true. In Saudi, where alcohol is illegal, western ex-pats brew and distil their own, in the compounds, and more often than not behave like complete morons. But in places like Qatar or (most of) UAE, the 4 & 5 star hotels have bars and as a result people drink and socialise normally. It's a local lesson on the failure of prohibition.

In a few days time, Ramadan starts, and all Qatar's bars close for the month. I don't miss the alcohol but it's a pain to have nowhere to go to meet your friends. I like bars, always have.

Tony Sky from London UK on August 23, 2008:

Excellent hub CJ!

As an ex dealer and prolific smoker, i like your points about cannabis and the futile legislations!!

Legalising it will not work and the only solution we have in the UK is to be as lenient as possible if caught with persoanal use or even small time dealing! and concentrate more on the other drugs such as crack, and heroine that does ruin lives!!

I have never had a drink or drug addiction but have been to 100s of AA and NA meetings and the stories i heard at the N.A meetings were nothing in comparison to the sad and terrible stories from the A.A meetings!!

I would love to add much more about another angle to this subjest whci, no doubt will be arriving ina future hub!:)

Haydee Anderson from Hermosa Beach on August 19, 2008:

excellent lens. I have nothing more to say.

ColdWarBaby on August 18, 2008:

Well done Mr. Stone!  This is so good because it is SO passionate.  I haven’t been reading Hubs lately because I’ve been so discouraged by the prevalence of so much stuff that seems focused explicitly on generating revenue.  I come back after a few days and find all this sociopolitical commentary that I seem to be ostracized for.  I don’t really care why this so.  As long as I can find work of substance such as this I will be happy that someone is being heard.

Please carry on.

Jonno.Norton on August 18, 2008:

Spot on CJ, I couldn't agree more. And it's even more unfortunate to have ones own country sold out from underneat. I'm pretty sure we never even had our own country here in the states. We've been owned, incorporated, and profiting for *whomever* since the 1700s. Our own Revolutionary War was, in some people's educated opinions, a farce to convince the people of these united states that they should keep working, keep producing, keep buying. "Yes of course you have your own country, now produce and buy, produce and buy!"

It's all rot to me, and you're completely right: Legalize, regulate, educate. We could be taxing drug sales, have drug rationing cards, prescriptions for drugs that have medical uses. We could have a much better system, and make money for social projects from it.

Like you said, it used to be a rebellion thing when you were doing it in the 60s. I was doing it in the 00s and there was little rebellion in the act. It's just you hear so much about it, and it's shrouded in mystery in some ways. Some people say it's terrible, some people say it's great and do it all the time. From a non-user's perspective, it's very alluring. You wonder what all the fuss is about, and when you finally try it it's hard to remain objective about how you feel about it. Education is key, in short. Real, truthful, trustworthy education on the topic.

Ok, that's as far down this rabbithole as I'm willing to travel. Great hub, CJ, as usual you've got me inspired and thinking =)

Gail Jewel on August 18, 2008:

From my own expereince of trying cannabis and alcohol. Alcohol has caused me more trouble then I can write here ;financialy, emotionaly, relationshiply (is that a word. As humans we are always looking at ways to enliven our existence. Trick is finding healthy productive ways in which to do this. Also people in our society need to be educated (somehow), on The Truth. Big pharamceutical companies are making money out of our ignorance. What's required is a collective effort to sort out this mess. There isn't one simple answer, to solving our societal problems relating to the use of drugs/alcohol, or any form of addiction. Your hub is 100% spot on. Thank You.

Ananta65 on August 18, 2008:

A great hub, CJ. You know what bothers me with the policy regarding drugs? It’s hypocryte. In the Netherlands it is. Legislation regarding xtc hasn’t changed, yet the attitude towards it has. Few years back, the police wouldn’t search too hard for the drug on dance parties, knowing that users of xtc are a lot less violent and aggressive than users of alcohol. Either you enact AND enforce a law, or you don’t.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 18, 2008:

Hi marisue, I posted a reply to this yesterday but for some reason it disappeared. As usual agree with your husband. There are lots of cops in the UK who agree with him too. I heard a real story from a cop. he said he was involved in busting someone for dope. The guy had a good job, a home, a family, but he went to jail, and after he got out he lost all of that, and ended up as a bum on the street. This is what the cop said: "It wasn't dope that did that to him, it was the us."

Thanks Jerry. Thanks for popping by.

Shane Dayton from Cedar Rapids, IA on August 17, 2008:

Excellent hub! This is a great point. Logically outlawing marijuana when alcohol and tobacco are legal makes no sense at all. Great argument, well put together! Thanks for sharing.

marisuewrites from USA on August 17, 2008:

Hi CJ, as a cop my husband was for drug legalization, because it IS so much easier to control, takes most of the profit out of it (there will always be those who smuggle it in) and it could be treated as the medical and psychological problem that it is.  Of course, he was in the minority.  Some vehemently opposed his views.  The government here is useless in the fight against drugs and alcohol, I'm sure there is money in both for them.

You covered this subject in an excellent manner, we are with you in the disgust; I hate to have this to share, but it is obvious our countries are alike in this struggle.  As always, I appreciate everything you write, no matter the topic! =))

I empathize over the rehab, never been, is there one for stress? LOL I seem addicted to that. I could never listen to someone whine forever - I am too much into fun and solutions. sigh, it's not that I'm unsympathetic, but if I'm in the middle of Hell, must I listen to someone elses? LOL oops, guess that sounds selfish.

I do want to help people, but there are always those whiners that sit on the front row and suck all the air out of the room. blyuuuck!

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 17, 2008:

Think that's bad? I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror... and I'll be damned if I hadn't gotten cuter!

pgrundy on August 17, 2008:

Oh good, I misunderstood you. I'm glad you're not drinking. I was so self-absobed fantasizing about rehab it completely slipped by mind that OTHER people would be talking about THEMselves too. Ick. Yes that would be distasteful.

But enough about me. What do YOU think about me?

Just kidding. I'm not that bad. Almost though.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 17, 2008:

No Pam, I'm not drinking now, I just miss the social life that's all. My body won't let me drink any more, but my mind still gets the urge. God, but I couldn't do rehab. I'm way too interested in myself to want to listen to anyone else whining. That's my job.

pgrundy on August 17, 2008:

Hi CJ--It's Sunday morning here, my favorite time ever. I am sitting in my pjs with the newspaper and my laptop feeling free to do absolutely nothing. God I love that.

I agree with you about the junkie-frustrated-romantic thing. But I've always admired romantics. Yes, there's lots of self-destruction and drama but that's what makes such lives occasionally beautiful. I'm glad Bill is off it though--30 years off it now.

As for booze, God, I can't tell you an easy way. I went to AA. It was really hard, and I had to listen to people whine about the horrors of rehab, and there I was, trying to sober up in the midst of yet another abusive relationship. So they're all like, "Eeeuw rehab is so hard you have to sleep on BUNK BEDS" and I'm going home to this guy who screams and throws things at me for going to AA because of course all that happens at AA is people hook up for cheap sex, it couldn't possibly be about the booze. That guy didn't like me sober at all, and once I sobered up I also realized he was a real asshole, so that was that.

But getting sober? Yikes. In spite of the whiney rehab-ers (rehab sounds like a dream vacation to me---30 days of talking about myself to a captive audience and no call center while someone else does the cooking? Where do I sign up?!! How I do I get in? It costs like 30K now though...) in spite of all that, there are some very wise people in AA who have been through hell and come out the other side whole and will do anything to help you.

What you do at those times of day/week/weekend is go to a meeting or call another AA person. In the beginning I went to a meeting a day, sometimes two or three. If you really want to stop just show up there and they'll do anything to help you, but it's a bitch the first month or two. I recall eating a lot of sweets to get through.

Bill says most people who got off junk with methadone become alcoholics, it's very, very common. Don't know if that applies or not to you, I just remembered it just now. Good luck to you. You're way too cool a guy to ruin your innards and brain cells with alcohol. It feels good to be off it. I honestly don't miss it, but I keep an image in my mind of my ugliest self to keep from reaching for 'just one' again. I know where that goes.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 17, 2008:

I love a good cocktail. So many variations and flavors and choices. And, oddly enough, what kept me from becoming an alcoholic was I knew that if I become one I'd eventually have to stop drinking... forever! That did it for me. Then as I've grown older, my interest has tapered.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 17, 2008:

Funny thing is heroin addicts are perfectly nice once they've got their heroin. They are mostly frustrated romantics in my experience. I'm still struggling with alcohol to be honest. I packed up nicotine approaching 4 years ago and don't miss it at all, but drink was always my social life, and I still can't figure out what to do with myself at certain times of the day/week/weekend. Any advice?

pgrundy on August 17, 2008:

<Heroin addicts are monsters when they need their heroin. They will do anything to get it. They will lie, steal, cheat, rob a granny, nick from their mum's purse. Nothing is too low or too mean for them.>

Bill says exactly the same thing about his junkie days. It's really romanticized in Beat literature though. I think it's becoming 'fashionable' again unfortunately.

I had to do the whole 12-step thing to get off alcohol. I don't miss it. It's hard to miss sleeping in fields in your own vomit.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 17, 2008:

Constant Walker. I think that if some of the nicer drugs, like Ecstasy, were more easily available, people wouldn't want to take the really horrible ones like meth. Also, having been told a load of lies about cannabis and Ecstasy, youngsters are disinclined to believe any warnings at all. Again, it's down to proper education, and proper information, plus there's a certain kudos attached to the idea of flirting with danger. Most heroin addicts have had to work really really hard to become addicts.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 17, 2008:

No argueing with that. I've also been around alcohol from an early age, having worked in bars since I was a teenager. I have to wonder if a kid raised on wine with meals could as easily die of alcohol poisoning - having built up an immunity.

Some drugs, such as meth, are so addictive and so devastating. I would love to see them done away with forever, and more effort put into doing that, but clearly our current tactics aren't achieving that goal.

Perhaps a small army of mercenaries for just that purpose with worldwide carte blanche would do the trick. The Donald needs to put one together. Legalize the drugs which can be useflu and cut the gangs off at the knees, and go after those - wherever they - who are making the trash drugs and do away with them once and for all.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on August 17, 2008:

ConstantWalker - you make your own point: binge drinking is lethal - alchol in moderation is not for most people. Drink was never forbidden in my home: I just didn't like it very much - if we very rarely went out for dinner I would have a glass of wine I guess I was maybe 15? Yes I have got absolutely plastered and made myself ill - but it was neve a forbidden guilty pleasure like we set it up for kids now - I personally would decriminalise all drugs - get the gangs out of it and you solve most of the problems

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 17, 2008:

Thanks for the comments folks.

Lissie, no you wouldn't want to be around anyone addicted to heroin. I know cos I tried. Heroin addicts are monsters when they need their heroin. They will do anything to get it. They will lie, steal, cheat, rob a granny, nick from their mum's purse. Nothing is too low or too mean for them. But you wouldn't want to be around alcoholics either would you? Me: I prefer being sober these days.

Medellen: you say there are enough controlled pharmaceuticals for pain management, but morphine is still the best, the most natural.

Constant Walker, yes I've heard a version of that story myself: a teenager reachng a certain birthday and then drinking himself to death. It's fairly common. But it's odd that the newspapers aren't full of scare stories as they are about the other drugs, that there's no campaigns against alcohol etc etc.

Me, I think proper control, proper management and proper education are the only solutions to the drug "problem", all things that only work when the drugs are legal.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 16, 2008:

Lissie. Binge drinking can be deadly. I've heard of several accounts in which teenagers died from this very thing, and an ex co-worker's world was altered forever when his only son drank himself to death at his 16th birthday party. He drank down a fifth of vodka, laid down in the garage and died. Just like that.

Teenagers aren't being told of the deadly possibilities.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on August 16, 2008:

I must admit I would rather be around people who are addicted to dope or heroin than ones who are addicted to alchohol or ice - they are the violent and dangerous ones. The comparison with France is so obvious but never appears to be spoken about in the English speaking world - Australia is all worried about the young binge drinking - apparently its irresponsible for parents to buy alchohol for kids- Im sure glad my parents never knew that!

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on August 16, 2008:

Cj, you're absolutely, 100%, no arguments, Amen Brother!, balls-on, correct.  Thing is, do we, The People, that is, have any chance in hell of changing any of it?  I can't imagine that we do.  Not when there's so much money going into the pockets of so many with so much power...

But, then again, ...we overcame alcohol prohibition.

I'll take a Capt and soda, please.  Easy ice with a twist of lime.  Thanks, man... and keep the change.

madellen from British Columbia, Canada on August 16, 2008:

Excellent article. I did not know that Afghanistan was an ' opium war' so to speak.

I still think there are enough controlled pharmaceuticals for pain management though.I know it is prescribed in BC Canada for nausea relief after chemotherapy. As a street drug , its laced with so much of whatever , that together with alcohol abuse is linked to adverse social and cognitive effects, specially among youth. But you are certainly right, excess, access and addiction are the key issues here.


pgrundy on August 16, 2008:

CJ, this is so excellent. You'll get no argument from me on any of it, you nailed it. Some thoughts I had while reading your thoughts:

Heroin is actually less damaging physically than alcohol. The damage done by heroin addiction comes from the dangerous attendant lifestyle--malnutrition, needle-sharing, poor decision making (shooting up crap for example because good heroin can't be had), reckless sexual behavior, dangerous risk taking for money (ie robbing places), and so forth.

Alcohol on the other hand directly destroys brains cells and does physical damage that cannot be reversed--it's SUCH a bad drug, and few people realize it because it's so socially acceptable and so easy to get. End stage alcoholics often die because they hemorrhage internally--they literally die in a pool of their own blood, everything bleeds and there's no stopping it even if you get them to the hospital. That's if they are lucky and they don't get wet brain first and turn into a walking zombie.

Not that I think people should choose heroin over alcohol, it's just ironic is all. I do wish we had some heroin at the call center. That would help ever so much.

Hemp is such a useful plant it's completely criminal that it's outlawed. It's insanity. Great hub. Thank you.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 16, 2008:

Cheers listenup. Glad you liked it.

JamGenee, yes diamorphine is heroin by another name, one of the opiates and actually very very useful as a drug, being, as i said, the most powerful painkiller on the planet, and absolutely necessary in the treatment of chronic pain. It's basically just morphine, but it gets into the system faster. The joke here is I heard a doctor on the radio a while back talking about morphine, how useful it was, how necessary, and then adding that he didn't consider it addictive, which knocked my socks off a bit, given how "addictive" heroin is considered, which means (if he's right) that the cure for heroin addiction has been here all along. Just give them morphine.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 16, 2008:

Wow! Ten thumbs up on this one!

It's never made sense that pot is illegal (or semi-illegal, depending on where you live and who you know), when alcohol is not. On this side of the Pond, people incarcerated for only *possession* of pot are understandably testy that those who sell and imbibe alcohol are not behind bars with them.

Personally, before I quit both, I much preferred getting stupid *occasionally* from smoking pot over making a total ass of myself *daily* drinking alcohol.

I wasn't aware diamorphine is a derivative of opium, but you're right that those who profit most from the policies of prohibition are drug dealers. Which includes Big Pharma, the biggest dealers of all, who take advantage of the mindset that when pushed...uh, a doctor, medicine isn't "drugs" in the same sense as pot or Xtacy.

listenup on August 16, 2008:

Right On! Great article.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on August 16, 2008:

Cheers funride. I think that the drug dealers are responsible for drug policy since it is they who gain the most from prohibition.

Ricardo Nunes from Portugal on August 16, 2008:

Hi CJ, great work on this very well research and put together hub. I loved to read it and I agree with all your conclusions and I would like to add another reason for some light drugs remain illegal - the drug dealers would have much more difficulty selling them after they become legal and I do believe that drug dealers still have lots of influence on politics (just to avoid saying they are all the same people). You got a big thumb up from me ;)

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