Say to those who eat hashish in ignorance,
The worth of a man is a jewel,
The ornament of a man is his mind.
Why, then, you fools, do you sell it for a piece of grass.
This ancient Arabic proverb dates from the 12th century and recognises something that opinion makers in Australia today have yet to come to grips with. Marijuana, which, like hashish, is a by-product of cannabis, is a mind-destroying drug. How appropriate then that the word, assassin, itself derives from this Arabic word, hashish.
Governments in Australia have long since lost the plot. They profess to be concerned about violence, particularly violence against women, including rape and similar assaults of a sexual nature, yet they facilitate, by way of permissive regulation, the distribution of violent videos, many of which portray unspeakable bestiality. On the one hand, they profess to be concerned about youth suicide, but, on the other hand, they allow ‘convenience’ abortions to be funded by taxpayers and seek to introduce euthanasia, that is, the ‘convenience’ putting down of old people, sending out a message that life isn’t really anything special. And there have been countless ‘Task Forces’ established to come up with some sensible recommendations on limiting the alarming spread of illegal drug use in the community, particularly amongst young people. Having spent the millions that these bureaucratic juggernauts devour, what is the outcome at the end of countless hours of testimony, research and expert opinion. Why, make it easier for people to get drugs, of course!
Australia is experiencing an epidemic of illegal drug use, and the push by ‘experts’ and drug liberalisation activists for decriminalisation and allowing easier access to drugs, will only make it worse. Indeed, the very jargon of these ‘experts’ is so ambiguous as to lull citizens into a false sense of security. We now have, for example, the term ‘recreational use’ to describe the abuse of dangerously addictive and destructive drugs. Put another way, snorting cocaine or smoking marijuana is just like playing football or netball. This, of course, is a lie and denies the vast body of evidence that should persuade governments to crack down even further on drug dealers, traffickers and financiers and provide more resources for public education. After all, if, in official government and health communications, we describe the use of marijuana as ‘recreational’, we can hardly wonder that young people feel free to try it out.
The evidence is overwhelming that easier access to drugs leads to more drug related deaths. We need look no further than our own needle distribution programme, which was introduced in 1990 as a means of limiting the spread of AIDS. The rate of overdose deaths in Australia at the start of that programme was 18 per million of population. In 1998, after several years of the needle distribution programme, the rate had risen to 41 per million of population, an increase of 227%. Overseas studies reveal the same trends, particularly the much-vaunted Swiss heroin trials, which provided addicts with heroin under carefully supervised conditions. Those addicts in the programme, and there were only 1146 out of a total of 30,000 drug addicts in Switzerland, experienced a death rate of 3%, compared to 1.4% in the addict population generally, for the five years of the trials. Similarly, in Sweden, where drugs were prescribed to addicts for self-administration in an experimental programme, Professor Nils Bejerot had this to say in his findings at the conclusion of the trial:
‘Our studies demonstrate that a permissive drug policy leads to the rapid spread of drug use. When there are plenty of drugs and the risks are small, even addicts who have been off drugs for many years may relapse. A restrictive drug policy may not only check the spread of addiction, but even bring about a considerable reduction in the rate of current consumption in the addict population.’
Surely, this speaks for itself.
The notion that marijuana is harmless is another fallacy put forward by those who seek to liberalise our drug laws, foolishly playing into the hands of dealers and traffickers. Marijuana is a mind altering drug and, in an ironic manifestation of the confusion that infests governments at all levels, we see, on the one hand, attempts to make the use of an illegal drug easier, while, at the same time expressing horror at the increased use of mind altering prescription drugs. There is a clearly established association between marijuana use and mental disturbances ranging from distorted perception, to hallucinations, dementia and schizophrenia. This has been validated in a recent study of Swedish conscripts which indicated that the use of marijuana was not only responsible for triggering an underlying psychosis in predisposed patients, but the relative risk of developing schizophrenia among consumers of marijuana was six times greater than in non users. Short term memory loss, too, is a well documented feature of marijuana use and has serious implications for students, where previous learning is essential for the understanding of future lessons. Research also establishes that significant impairment to the female reproduction system, male reproduction and lungs can be caused by marijuana use.
Why then, do we seek to make it easier?
The answer to that is that the ‘individual right’ has replaced the ‘common good’ as the ethic of our times. We are encouraged to live in a moral vacuum, where there is no sense of absolute right or wrong and the ‘common good’ has no status against the ‘individual right’. In the field of drug abuse, this means compassion for the user, while ignoring ‘common good’ aspects, such as the destabilizing effect on families, the impairment of succeeding generations, the anti-social and criminal behaviour of the drug affected person, the loss of economic contribution and the drain on public resources.
But the burning question must surely be, why take drugs?
Probably the answer lies in that same moral vacuum which has been created by legislating our traditional values out of existence. Where once there was hope and a future, many feel that now not to be the case. The abandonment of moral standards in our society has cost us dearly and will continue to do so. Most of the social ills of today can be laid at the door of moral disarmament, if you can call it that. Drug abuse is only the manifestation of a deeper problem, which is a malaise of the spirit that produces despair rather than hope, bitterness rather than joy, selfishness rather than generosity, anxiety rather than peace, fear rather than assurance.
Any drugs policy that ignores these realities will make little real impact.