19 July 2007

Blowing back on politicians and dope

Another stage in the ongoing saga over politicians admitting they smoked dope at university a couple of days back... Jacqui Smith, Alistair Darling, even the notorious Opus Dei plant Ruth Kelly had been at it once upon a time.

Contrary to popular belief it was possible to go to uni in the 80s/90s and not smoke gear... based on my experience it just depended who you hung out with really. If you were with a reasonably relaxed crowd who weren't either people who never left the bar (the darts team?), postgrad South Africans who were never off the rugby pitch, or the square science students who used to pack their own lunch box to take to the lab every morning, there was normally a plentiful supply of drugs, both soft and indeed hard, available.

Even if you hung out with the smokers you could 'just...say...no' in the Patrick Bateman sense. One of my mates at uni - let's call him Thomas Jerome Newton on account of his David Bowie fixation - simply refused 'a toke' for 3 years straight. He just didn't want to know, and in retrospect, I salute his courage and indefagitibility. For TJN, it simply wasn't a part of The Good Life in the way that hard drinking, or sugar free Tab Clear (a well known soft drink of the time) was.

So it wasn't inevitable to end up with a spliff in your hand, but I must say it was extremely enjoyable. Which is why all these politicians saying "I smoked it... it was wrong... I regret it... I am a terminally boring asshole who would probably lose an election to ITV Digital's 'Monkey' [sadly missed!] under a fair electoral system" are taking out of their bottom.

Why can't we have a sensible conversation about cannabis use in this country (or most countries?) Why is the government looking into reclassifying dope from class C to class B?

We're told it's because super-skunk, or whatever hydroponic concoction is avaiable on the street, is 40 times stronger than the stuff these ministers were smoking in the 70s and 80s. Personally I can well believe that prolonged exposure to the really heavy stuff could be hazardous to mental health. But if alcohol was a banned substance (and I'm sure some ministers would love to ban it), we'd be having exactly the same conversation. There would be super-strength spirits, illegally distilled in labs, doing the rounds. They'd be several times stronger than the homebrew cider that ministers were drinking in the 70s and 80s, and we'd be looking to reclassify alcohol to class B...

The long and the short of it is that these bozos are too thick to realise that it is the illegality of marijuana which causes super-strength derivatives to be doing the rounds. If the stuff was licensed and produced on a commercial, quality-controlled basis, reasonably priced, no-one would bother with skunk (except maybe as a home growing project.) We'd be better off because we wouldn't have to live in fear of being charged by the police for smoking a plant which can be grown wild in any British garden. The government would secure a wodge of tax revenue. And the consumer would be guaranteed a quality product.

I just wish some politicians would have the guts to campaign for full legalisation. There may be some doing that in the Lib Dems or maybe on the libertarian right of the Tory party - I don't follow the debate closely enough to know - but we never seem to hear from them when the matter is discussed in the news.

With the debate over drugs as dumb and ludicrous as it is now, is it any wonder 40% of the population don't bother to vote?

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