Since the dawn of human existence we have been putting things into our bodies to see what they do, then repeating be cause we either liked, got addicted, or simply wanted a bigger sample size (yay science). Drugs aren’t even a human phenomenon, cats like catnip, and other animals have been chewing mildly hallucinogenic leaves for millennia. Somewhere in the trail of human history we developed the artificial idea of an acceptable drug, as science developed we were able to categorise them, and more recently the state has taken an interest in substance consumption.
I’m not by any means arguing that many drugs, used in many ways, aren’t harmful to health and society. My core position in that there will never be zero harm as a result of drugs, instead of targeting impractical zero drug futures, it would be more pragmatic, compassionate and successful to think about ways in which we can reduce the harm of drugs. We must recognise the complexity of a human diaspora. No single factor solely relates to the harm caused by drugs. There are no magic theories, that cover the individual and a massive population with equal accuracy, only suggestions that something might help.
I want to propose real policy changes that I truly believe would be better for the post-modern (potentially post-nation-state) near futures, however I would not like to impose, thrust, or otherwise propel my thinking onto others, as someone who sits on the post-left, I’m looking for creative and passionate criticism. I believe, as I do in many fields, that our societies problems are best dealt with via free societal consensus.
My first suggestion is the decriminalisation of substance use. Criminalising someone for choosing to put a chemical into their body, is an entirely ineffective deterrent, while in reality criminalisation adds a sense of adventure and rebellion to the use of substances. People do not need the state to scare them clear of drugs, friends with bad experiences with drugs can be found in many social groups, as the peer pressure that draws people into drugs also steers people away.
My second suggestion is the provision of a regulated and taxed drugs retail industry. The industry must be able to retail any substance as long as it provides clear consumer advise and meets the same standards as food in terms of labelling information. It is much better for the user of a substance to by a clean product with clear advise than to purchase a substance and have to work out how to take it [safely] themselves. The internet is already full of forums where people share their experience of drug suppliers and advice on how they used the substance. Refusing to acknowledge an already professional industry is only serving to deny dignity to those who weren’t able to find advice on their own.
A third suggestion is real drugs education baked into the biology and chemistry curriculum from secondary school onwards. Chemistry underpins everything from the method of taking the drug to the effect on the drug user. Biology can be used to understand the body’s natural stasis and how drugs alter that, the potential harms, but also some of the benefits. A lot of casual use drugs are actually imitations of prescription drugs cut with addictive substances to create repeat demand.
Finally I propose a campaign, to target social change ,by removing stereotypes. Drug users come from all walks of life and each has their own reason for using drugs. We can’t judge peoples human inclinations to put things in their bodies, some use to escape, some use for experimentation, we must accept it just like we are learning to accept LGBTQ+ and non-binary people.