Monday, June 05, 2006
I used to be this thin. Sigh.
The Mexican Way
Next week President Fox of Mexico will sign legislation giving his country some of the most liberal drug laws in the world. Virtually all recreational narcotics will be legalised.
Unsurprisingly, this news has been greeted with a mixture of outrage or faux-understanding, mainly from people who don't know what the hell they are talking about - i.e. non drug users.
I, however, was a serious drug addict. And this is my divided opinion on the subject.
In the round, I think it's a good idea - perhaps the only idea that will work long term. In the 40s and 50s, Britain used to have a heroin maintenance regime of its own, where addicts were legally supplied drugs. We had maybe 1000 addicts back then. In the late 60s we reversed the policy, under pressure from America and the UN; now we have at least 200,000 addicts. So, yes, maintenance and liberality "works" in comparison to other methods; it certainly lowers crime, as addicts don't have to steal to fund their habits.
But on a personal level I am less convinced. I finally quit drugs five years ago - and one of the things that helped me give up was that heroin was very hard to obtain. That is to say, if I weakened momentarily - which I did in the early stages of recovery - it was normally quite difficult to score. This time-lag gave me the opportunity to rethink my foolishness, and abstain. But if I could have simply walked in a clinic and got high, I'm not sure that I would ever had quit properly.
The upshot? In adopting a Mexican regime we could be condemning lots of people to long term addiction. Yet we will be ridding society of a serious scourge, and lots of crime. I don't envy politicians who have to think through the dilemma.
Posted by sean at 11:46 pm