And certainly, my early encounters with "users" did little to disabuse me of the idea that drugs were bad, m'kay?
But it was subsequent encounters with people who drank that made me start to question my blindly-held views. Some people who drink become more sociable, some people shut up, some people become loud and some become utter cuntstains when they've had a couple. And so on.
I also noticed that some people appeared to be desperate for a drink by the time they got home and some people could take it or leave it.
"Maybe," I thought, "maybe drugs affect different people in different ways? Maybe they're not automatically a bad thing for every single person who uses them?"
(This was all in the days before I discovered libertarianism, when my gut reaction to drugs is "who cares?" OK, it's a bit more nuanced than that, but not much.)
But being politically and socially conservative from a very early age, I started out fully supporting stupid ideas like "war on drugs" and hefty criminalisation.
Consequently, it was a big leap of faith for me when faced with arguments of legalisation. But the libertarian idea that it's your own body to do with as you will is pretty fundamental. The idea that someone who isn't living your life and doesn't have your experiences is also someone who is telling you what is best for you is, after all, pretty fucking cheeky, to say the least.
I guess for me the biggest problem with legalisation in the current version of society is that the "left hand" of rights is not matched by an equivalent "right hand" of responsibility.
So, in situations like this, we have the rather insane situation where someone has a) taken illegal substances and b) is not responsible for the consequences of this:
A DRUG addict whose amphetamine habit gave him kidney stones received £27,000 in compensation because his condition was not treated properly in prison, a Yorkshire police officer has revealed.
I'm not entirely clear why the prison service has a particular duty of care to support something brought on by someone's personal decisions. I suspect that the relatively low award reflects the judge's unease in this case.
He [the policeman] learned of the compensation award when the criminal was arrested for possessing £70 worth of amphetamines earlier this year.
Why are we arresting someone for possessing £70 worth of amphetamines? Really? is there not something better the police can be doing than arresting someone for wanting to get off his tits?
Are there not prison places that could be better used keeping violent scumbags off the street?
Would we not be better off legalising drugs, deregulating them and allowing big pharma (and small pharma) to legally flood the market with cheap, high quality drugs? They could be taxed like booze to cater for externalities. People who wanted drugs would not be ingesting unknown mixers like dog shit or talcum powder or Vim -- the sorts of substance that often cause more damage than the drug itself. Prices would be lower, so a great deal of any consequent property crime would be nullified. Plus, in Portugal, where they have completely decriminalised all recreational drugs, drug use has actually dropped slightly.
As our policeman says without a trace of irony:
the case made him "wonder where our priorities lie".
This whole situation is completely fucked up:
- The guy takes drugs -- A personal choice.
- Drugs are illegal -- Why? There is no upside to the war on drugs.
- He gets arrested for a piffling offence -- Why? What an enormous waste of taxpayer money, from the policing cost to the jail cost PLUS all this welfare and compensation crap!
- He goes to prison -- for wanting to get off his tits. Insane.
- He has a condition brought on by his personal choice -- But he doesn't have to bear the consequences of that decision, taxpayers do!
- He is on benefits -- Why am I paying to keep someone in drugs so he can be off his tits on my money, rather than on his own fucking money?
It's all completely fucking wrong.