Saturday, 6 September 2008

Decriminalisation Pushes On

Should someone who has a small quantity of marijuana be open to the threat of jail? What about the tens of thousands of people who go to night clubs every week and take ecstasy? These drugs are much less harmful than alcohol yet drinking dangerous levels of rocket fuel is legal which often results in violence, accidents and self inflicted harm. One of the sad facts of living under drug prohibition is the many laws that penalise the small time recreational drug user or addict. Some countries like the USA can ruin your life for simply possessing less than a gram of cannabis e.g. half a joint.
In the USA, we have laws, both Federal and state, preventing those with any type of drug conviction from EVER obtaining housing assistance, food stamps, welfare, or student loans. This does not apply to murderers, rapists or child molesters--just drug convictions. In addition, in my state, my right to vote was removed." -Kerry Wolf. ARMMAT - Texas
Although the US has the highest drug use in the world, it also has some of the harshest drug laws. Drug screening for potential employees is common place and there is drug testing in some schools. The US government and some states take a strong stance on drug users and often impose an extra burden to an already difficult transition back into society. Once you have a drug record, you may permanently lose some government issued services like student loans, welfare and even the right to vote.
So many times I have seen the women I was incarcerated with lose custody of their kids or get re-incarcerated simply because they could not meet the requirements of probation fast enough, such as getting a job that pays enough money for you to supply yourself with housing suitable for you and several kids, (and no sharing bedrooms for kids of opposite genders or with the parent, so you may well need several bedrooms), plenty of food, clothing, pay all your bills, pay your probation fees and fines, any class fees you are obligated to take, and much more, and you cannot get food stamps or housing assistance, because you might spend it on DRUGS, and if you want to go back to school to better yourself, again, sorry--no student loans for druggies (this varies by state--some states opt out). It just makes it almost impossible for these folks to get back on their feet. -Kerry Wolf. ARMMAT - Texas
Strategies like mandatory sentencing and the 3 strikes rule were supposed to deal with career criminals but instead have plagued the countries and states that have implemented them, especially the US. The US has almost 50% of all people on parole or in prison on drugs charges with nearly one in eight prisoners in jail for marijuana related offences. Prisons are big business for the Americans with 1 in 32 of their citizens in jail, on probation or on parole and 1 in 100 actually in prison. Per capita, they have more prisoners than any other nation on earth including China and Iran. Many countries are now trying to minimise the damage that current laws inflict on recreational users by decriminalising small quantities for personal use. The burden of processing minor drug charges like cannabis possession also has many law officers supportive of decriminalisation. Recently, Argentinan, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner repeated her call to decriminalise personal drug use and instead crack down on traffickers and dealers.
I don't like it when people easily condemn someone who has an addiction as if he were a criminal, as if he were a person who should be persecuted -Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - President of Argentina
Two years ago, the Mexican President Vicente Fox proposed decriminalising drug possession but was forced to back down by the Bush administration. Brazil and Colombia have already decriminalised drugs for personal use and it is a growing trend in Latin America. Though many European countries have already decriminalised drugs for personal use, new, more liberal laws and attitudes are starting to take shape. Recently, Austria has effectively removed the limits on personal use for drugs by totally separating trafficking and using. Although cannabis possession is still not legal but decriminalised in Austria, a man was put on 2 years probation for having 10Kg of cannabis leaves because the judge was convinced he never intended to sell it. One of the problems with decriminalisation is of course, the elephant. That elephant in the room called the drug dealer who is needed to get your drugs. But by using some European ingenuity and a close look at the law, the pot club was born. The first association of cannabis growers was created in Belgium which took drug dealing for money out of the equation. The members combine their efforts to either take turns at growing or having one large crop that has the total maximum allowed per person. A case in Spain was recently tested in court and given the judges nod for 66 members of a Spanish pot club.
Cannabis Clubs in Spain Legal - Belgium Forms 1st Club Recently Canna Zine 18 August 2008 Recently several charitable "cannabis clubs" were founded in Spain. The lawfulness of which are now confirmed, and sanctioned by courts in Catalonia and the Basque region. People join the cannabis clubs to grow cannabis together and distribute it to members of the club at cost price. Only members have access to the growing rooms and the cannabis. In Spain trade with cannabis is prohibited, but possession for personal use is legal. Its a European Dis-Union so far as cannabis is concerned. In Spain you may grow your own supply thus keeping you away from those nast drug-dealing types, but doing the same thing in the UK is liable to see you convicted on a 5 stretch. So what exactly is the point of Europe? A court in Bilbao, the biggest city of the Basque region, cleared four defendants of a cannabis club with 66 members from the prosecution of illegal cultivation of 150 kg of cannabis (fresh whole plants that resulted in 17.4 kg dried cannabis). 39 members use cannabis for medical purposes. ENCOD (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies) , a European organisation for the change of the drug laws regards the Spanish cannabis clubs as a model for other countries. Recently the first association of cannabis growers was created in Belgium. As in Spain the possession of cannabis for personal use in Belgium, is legal. Isn't it about time your government acted out a similar law change?
While some countries consider the well being and rights of their citizens as important, others do not. Recently in the UK, the Brown government upgraded cannabis to a class B drug, up from class C, increasing the penalties for minor cannabis possession from a verbal warning to a maximum of five years in prison. Even though cannabis use dropped while being a lesser class C drug, politics again won out over evidence and facts. But did it win? Those in the front lines away from the leather chairs and back room deals of the so called leaders, had different ideas. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) declared that they would not be changing their tactics and cannabis for personal use would remain a low priority.
Police will not adopt a tougher approach to cases of simple possession of cannabis when ministers upgrade the legal status of the drug to class B, the Guardian can disclose.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) confirmed last night that the current policy of "confiscate and warn" would continue, despite Gordon Brown's determination to reclassify the drug in an attempt to "send a tough message" to young people about its use -Guardian News. U.K.
Australia is another country that is turning the clock back against world trends. Although several Australian states had made progress by decriminalising cannabis, some politicians are trying to revert back to the well worn out path of zero tolerance on all users. It’s a damn shame that politicians and moral crusaders will selfishly sacrifice the futures and careers of our youth for personal gain. With the recent admission to smoking cannabis from several Australian politicians, one has to wonder if it is a matter of what’s good for us is not good for you.


Gledwood said...

Hi how's it going

hey I was researching my drug of choice just now and came (again) upon some stuff about Afghan (brown) heroin "flooding" Australia

you know when you've got Afghan gear because you HAVE to acifidy it with citric acid or (neat) vitamin C

I was wondering whether you've come across this?... IF you have been using. & how does it compare to the usual "white"?

how's the morphine going? I bet it's better than methadone..??

I got "China white" for the 1st time in AGES the other week. it was hard white chunks, cooking to a faint white wine colour. it smelled of vinegar. is this normal in China white? I don't remember it smelling before... anyway this was STRONG.

then I scored again but the batch had been adulterated, it wasn't worth going out of your way for

when i came across proper "white" heroin years ago it was a fluffy white powder

blah blah i hope i'm not boring you here. rsvp!!

Anonymous said...

This is a good site. I found it while posting, and saw your post on Topix under "Methadone".

Thank You for your honesty and education/news concerning these dangerous drugs. You're doing a good thing, and THAT should make you feel worthwhile!

Please take special care of're worth it.


Terry Wright said...

Thanks Lizzy for your kind words.

Very much appreciated.

Howdy Gledwood, long time between chats.

I still haven't seen Afghan heroin or know anyone who has, here in Oz yet. I keep reading about it though.

Australia is mainly supplied from SE Asia especially Burma. 'China White' is standard here but the strength is just average. It always has a vinegar smell which I suspect is the acetic anhydride that converts morphine base to diacetylmorphine (heroin) or diamorphine as you call it in the UK. I read once that you can use vinegar as a replacement for acetic anhydride but is a poor substitute.

I have only ever seen white heroin and usually as rocks although sometimes it has come as a powder. I have only heard stories about 'Mexican Mud' or brown, low quality gear. Having to prepare it with citric acid and injecting it would worry me. It's bad enough with white gear if you miss a vein. [SCARY]

How's your little furry friends doing? You avatar would have to be the cutest little critter I have ever seen.

Drop by again.


Anonymous said...

I wonder... if they removed the criminal laws, would they also clear all the individual criminal records that were tarnished because of legislation which had been based on racism and greed?

Do I sound bitter? Maybe it is because in my past I was caught with less than a gram of weed and have been haunted by it ever since.

Ben Pobjie said...

Hi Terry. Just added you to my blog list, really like what you're doing here. Never used drugs myself, but I find the "War on Drugs" immensely frustrating.

So just wanted to say, good work.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Anon
Good point.

You know there are problems when you can freely buy cannabis in one country and be jailed for it in another.

Thanks Ben.
I am a regular New Matilda reader so I am familiar with your work.
Thanks for including me on your blog.

Gledwood said...

I was puzzled about the vinegary smell because, as you might know "China White" is called "number 4" whereas Afghan brown is "number 3" ~ #4 has been through an extra wash, after the acetic anyhdride, of hydrochloric acid + ether, which makes it unsmokeable (loads of people smoke the brown over here) but dissolvable in water without vitamin C or citric, as you know.

what puzzled me most was how #3, which of course is closer to the acetic anhydride smells really opiumy, whereas #4, which has been washed yet again, smells of the acetic anhydride which by now is 2 stages away...? makes no sense to me

Gledwood said...

re your post btw I agree

heard those stories about police busting Ausralian raves and record numbers of overdoses because people panick and take all they have I mean dur dur DUR! Whatever happened to "harm minimalization"..??

Gledwood said...

also "police triumph: street price of drugs soars after successful raids"

yeah that's YOUR community's stolen property that's funding that police-influenced increase. Dur dur and DUR again!!!

Terry Wright said...

gledwood said...
heard those stories about police busting Ausralian raves and record numbers of overdoses because people panick and take all they have I mean dur dur DUR! Whatever happened to "harm minimalization"..??

Hey, as long as they are sending the right message, who cares about the scumbag drug users.

gledwood said...
also "police triumph: street price of drugs soars after successful raids"

yeah that's YOUR community's stolen property that's funding that police-influenced increase. Dur dur and DUR again!!!

They don't get it. It might stop casual users but if you're an addict, well ... shhhhhhiiiit. Have they forgotten what addiction is? What it makes people do?

If us dumb drug addicts can see it, why can't they?

The cycle:
More police, more raids. Prices go up and crime rises. Criminals are attracted to the big dollars so production goes up. Prices drop again. More users.

More police, more raids. Prices go up and crime rises. Criminals are attracted to the big dollars so production goes up. Prices drop again. More users.

More police, more raids. Prices go up and crime rises. Criminals are attracted to the big dollars so production goes up. Prices drop again. More users.


Maybe this?

Prescription drugs for addicts. Prices go down and crime disappears. Criminals are disappointed there's no big dollars so production stops. Users are in contact with health workers everyday. Less users.

Arrrr, we are sending the wrong message. I forgot.


mistajanderson said...

nice 1 gledwood,for years i have been discussing this with police ''the we must get tough on drugs'' when have been held agaist my will in the lovely police cells in london and do you know what 50/60% of coppa's i spoke to agree to some extent,they are the people on the street every day ,you would think goverment would take their opinion into consideration.ay?but i still think goverment benefits from our misery somehow,dont like thinking like that(conspirecy theorys) and all that,fed up being glass half empty person but only conclusion can cum up with