The Drugs Problem (cont.)
By Gregory Sams
People have always sought to include drugs in their diets for many non-medical reasons: whether to stay awake longer, or to fall asleep quicker; whether to drown their sorrows or to better understand them; whether to enjoy a banter in the bar with friends, or have mystic communication with a tree; whether to explore their dark side or say hello to the God within. Some drugs are not an escape from “reality” but a gateway to exploring the very nature of reality. Even the humble drug tea was first discovered by Buddhist monks who valued it to help them stay up all night meditating in order to get high. One could imagine how dismayed they would be at the level of tea abuse taking place in modern Britain.
Some of the banned drugs are not just less dangerous than alcohol - they are hardly dangerous at all and can lead to behaviour which could quite possibly be downright good for the individual and society. Cannabis, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms have not even got an annual death toll of one apiece. Ecstasy (MDMA) kills fewer people each year than does aspirin, lightning hits, or beef consumption. And millions of happy users continue to use these drugs with far less damage than that experienced by alcohol drinkers, amphetamine abusers, cocaine sniffers, cigarette puffers or chocolate box gobblers. There is some risk - all drugs carry some risk if abused, even aspirin. But if we wish to enjoy the benefits, then we have to accept the responsibility, just as we take care when we get in our car or on our bike and take to the roads, or check to see how fresh the food is at a self-service restaurant. Much of our life consists of balancing the risks in life with the benefits to be had.
Sunday Times Dec 1996
Getting happy, loving, insightful, bursting with positive energy, able to dance all night or just chilled out, are all definitely nice things to do and I say boo to the prigs who claim that these valuable experiences are invalid when we make use of a drug to assist us in getting to a desired state of mind. Let them keep drinking their instant coffee, using one-hour film processors, flying across the world in hours instead of weeks. Let them eat their frozen dinners, sliced pre-baked bread and take-away fast food, working on computers that can do millions of calculations per second. Let them tune into instant escape from reality on a multitude of TV channels; but accessing happiness, peace, boundless energy or deep feelings of love quickly and without great expense? Oh no, this must be done the long way through years of grief and hard work; or purchased, if we are to believe the advertising, when you select the right brand of automobile, sanitary towel or soft drink.
Contrast the state's complacency regarding what we put into our bodies under the guise of food with its concern against what we ingest to feed our heads (an apt phrase from the Sixties). With food, that basic and essential necessity of life, we can do just about anything we like, eating whatever we like for any reason whenever we want to. We are allowed to consume chemical food additives that have no natural equivalent on planet Earth. The state even assures us that all this stuff is safe, as they did with every now-banned additive when it was still legal.
We are allowed to eat genetically modified foodstuffs - the like of which could only have evolved in nature had you persuaded and enabled a scorpion to mate with a tomato. We can freely consume four times as much food as we need, and more than our body can safely deal with. We can go on doing this as long as we please, consuming beefburgers and soft drinks all the way to our state-provided hospital deathbed if we so choose. In the early 1990's the American Surgeon General attributed 80% of all illness-related deaths to diet-related causes. Yet nobody will jail you anywhere in the world for eating yourself to death.
So who is protecting whom from what? How can the state have the effrontery to control and legislate what we do with our own state of mind? Just what is going on here? Literally, you can go to jail for puffing on a plant that makes you feel happy and loving, gives you no crunching hangover and is safer than crossing the road.
Cannabis is the most risk-free illegal drug in existence, with a recognized safe history going back thousands of years. It is a much happier and safer alternative to alcohol without the effect of making users befuddled and arrogant. If someone's reaction to cannabis is likely to impair their ability to drive, they realize that they are not safe behind a wheel, and that driving is the last thing they want to do in that condition - unlike the drunk who is convinced that he can take on the whole world with total competence. As far as I know, there is no statistical data linking cannabis consumption with actual dangerous driving.