Even though we have laws regarding drugs, I think it fair to say that prohibition does not work! It didn't work with alcohol and it doesn't work with illegal drugs. Try and prohibit something that people think they want and they will go behind your back and get it anyway. With such issues, people resent being told what to do, and in fact are often more likely to do it if you tell them they can't. The simple fact is that if people are determined to do something, they will always find a way and it is very difficult to stop them. People resent having their own freedom of choice denied and have fought wars for the privilege of being able to choose for themselves and be left alone. Freewill is a very important concept, differentiating us from all other life forms on this planet. We should appreciate that we have it and respect it in others. We still fall short on both points.

Education and Psychology
Although it is a fact that people are often more inclined to do something if you tell them not to, it is also a fact that people do generally have the ability to work things out for themselves. In fact we all have to learn to do this in life. However, as in all things, education is extremely important and if people know the facts they are less likely to run into difficulty in any situation. If people are shown the consequences of becoming addicted to red category drugs, they simply will not go there in the first place. Most people who know the truth about such things do not become a victim. Sometimes it is true to say, as with many of us who smoke, or who have smoked in the past, that you don't find out the truth until it is too late and by then you are already a dependent. We then have the unenviable task of trying to kick the habit and all that goes with it. However, it doesn't have to be this way. Where red category drugs are concerned, including nicotine, society has to do more to educate and differentiate. If you asked a child to jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute saying that he or she would feel great flying through the air like a bird, you would not convince them to jump because their education, their upbringing, and their common sense, will tell them that they would splatter all over the ground. Likewise, children must know the sordid truth about red category drugs and they will not do it!

The True Cost To Society
The simple fact is that society's current drug management, or depending on how you look at it, mismanagement, has not stopped heroin and crack problems and has not stopped the crime that goes with it - which affects and costs everybody. Despite the law, people have still been enticed into the world of hard drugs, misled and confused by idiots and unscrupulous people and also by a distinct lack of clarity, discrimination, and differentiation between the various drugs, as well as a notable lack of drug education. Many otherwise innocent people have also been punished for different lifestyle choices, even though what they do is not a 'real' crime and they are not harming any other, and even though what they do is no worse than drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. This causes resentment and a lack of respect for the law, which in this instance, goes against the grain of common sense and what is morally right. Billions of pounds are simply wasted across the globe in mankind's futile attempt to stop people getting what they want and yet you can generally pick up anything you like on any high street, just the same as any other commodity. Literally hundreds of people are killed every week, soldiers, police, civilians, and teenagers, as people fight over their different beliefs, and massive profits that could benefit many desperately needy areas in society instead go to criminals and terrorists alike, who certainly don't miss the opportunity to exploit the market potential. Thousands and thousands of manhours, which could also be better used, are wasted by the police and the judicial system every year, persecuting and punishing people who just want to be left alone and are doing no harm to anyone, except maybe themselves, which, as with alcohol and tobacco, is their right. The mismanagement of drugs has even been responsible for aiding the spread of disease and illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis. We, in our society, pay the cost of all of this.

Ignorance and Safety Measures
When you look at the above, it is quite apparent that, for many reasons, society's current drugs' policies simply do not work. In fact, one can argue that our current drugs' policies have been the actual cause of the damage and the misery and the many unnecessary deaths surrounding illegal drugs, all of which could otherwise have been prevented! When talking about drugs of any sort, including alcohol and tobacco, I think it is fair to say that it is ignorance that kills and not the availability of the drugs themselves. Just because a drug is there doesn't mean you have to take it, or abuse it. Otherwise everybody in the country would be an alcoholic and everybody would be still be smoking tobacco, which is actually one of the most addictive drugs known to man. Even so, many people have given up smoking, and even though society positively encourages drinking alcohol, and many of us appreciate a drink, not everyone is an alcoholic. It is also true to say that not everyone in South America is addicted to cocaine, even though it is everywhere. When people run into trouble with drugs, it is because they do not know the facts and, or, are not observing the safety measures. This of course is true when talking about any potentially hazardous undertaking, even crossing the road. Therefore, again, education and understanding is paramount in the battle to prevent mishap and tragedy.

Individual Choice and Autonomy
Life is full of choices, and we may not always make the right ones, but we do learn something from every choice we make and every resultant experience. To try and prevent people making the wrong choice, we teach and educate them to do the right thing. However, whether society likes it or not, every person is born with, what should be, the fundamental and God-given right to choose for themself in matters which only affect or concern the individual. Society needs to recognise this and stop trying to be everyone's mum. Some people do not wish to drink or smoke, they prefer to participate in alternatives instead, and, if that is a person's wish, they should be entitled to do so. There is something very dangerous about people or states when they presume to know better and lay down the law to the point of persecuting people, after all, where do you draw the line? We only have to look at what has happened in our past, and what is still happening today all over the world, as a result of people or states professing to know better and exercising persecution. And if the state is professing to be thinking of a person's welfare when it penalizes someone for their choice in personal drug use, there are many many areas where society could beneficially allocate its resources towards looking after people in need, without hassling people who choose to enjoy alternatives to tobacco or alcohol, especially when they are doing no harm to anyone else, and especially when such substances are not as hazardous.

No Better Than The Taliban!
Many people also feel that society has taken completely the wrong approach to its drug management because the Government and the people who impose their will on others are completely hypocritical and, in many ways, no better than the Taliban. They feel that our state exercises no more consideration and understanding than the Taliban do, because people in this country have no more freedom of choice in these areas than the people ruled by the Taliban. The Taliban thought that TV and music were harmful, some people think the same about the internet. However, as in many instances, it is the way that you use, or misuse, things that is the crucial factor and not the fact that these things exist in the first place. Our hypocrisy and ignorance is perhaps epitomised in the fact that two of the most insidious, addictive and harmful drugs are freely available to just about anyone, and bizarrely, these are the only ones that are currently 'allowed'.

Take Precautions
If you are going to prohibit the recreational use of drugs to protect people from themselves, you might as well prohibit all dangerous sports and past-times. People pursue these sports and pastimes for exactly the same reasons - to get a buzz and enjoy a different experience. Anyone of them can be potentially dangerous. Cave diving, hang gliding, rock climbing, formula one, etc, the list is substantial. Even crossing the road is dangerous if you don't follow the protocol. Observing similar guidelines, one can liken the use of potentially 'dangerous' recreational drugs with potentially 'dangerous' recreational sports and take the same approach, i.e. make sure that people are educated and know what they are doing. Make sure that they know what the risks are and have the best equipment. Education and understanding of the dos and don'ts are crucial ingredients. Be prepared, know the facts, and avoid the pitfalls!

Ecstasy Needn't Have Killed Anyone
For example, some people like to experiment with ecstasy. There have been a hundred or so deaths from ecstasy in this country since it came about, which is actually a microscopically tiny number compared to the number of deaths caused through smoking and drinking in a single week in the U.K. However, nobody wants to die under normal circumstances and that is not the intended objective. Such an instance is a tragic accident, and a tragic accident that could easily be avoided. Deaths from ecstasy have generally arisen from having a poor quality, contaminated, drug, or an inadequate understanding of the safety precautions, i.e. the dos and don'ts. Two things, which if had been rectified by taking a different approach, could have eliminated any such tragedy altogether. In other words, if society expressed a fairer and more realistic approach, rather than wielding a big ignorant stick, there could have been no deaths from ecstasy at all. Not one! The same applies to the many people have also died from acquiring a heroin problem. Not from the fact that they acquired the problem in the first place but from the fact that they were only able to obtain bad or inconsistent gear, a problem that could have easily been rectified if again society had taken a different approach.

Alcohol and Tobacco Worse
If we want to look accurately at the facts, it is true to say that one of the most insidious, dangerous and damaging drugs, is alcohol. In fact, it actually kills a lot more people than all the other illegal drugs put together. Alcoholic poisoning, health deterioration through alcoholism and over indulgence. And, not forgetting of course the number of road accidents caused by people who have insisted on driving when they are way over the limit. How many deaths? A considerable number! Alcohol, judged on this basis, should perhaps be the drug that is illegal and not the others. It is also interesting that another drug that has killed more people than all the illegal drugs put together, and is also one of the most addictive known to man, is nicotine, i.e. tobacco. Funny that isn't it. Both of these legally available substances have each singularly caused more death and ill health that all the currently illegal drugs put together, and that includes heroin. It is therefore somewhat outrageous and hypocritical that so many people have been persecuted and lashed for freely choosing to indulge in alternative, less addictive, less harmful and less dangerous substances, when smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are socially advocated by being given a privileged and yet highly undeserved place in the 'what is allowed' list. No wonder so many people are so screwed up in their understanding and overview of drugs. One has to conclude that it is this lack of understanding and lack of a responsible, fair and educational approach towards the whole drugs' issue that is responsible for the problems and not, as many people think, the fact that drugs are available. Too many people have been conned and abused by a system that is floundering in the dark ages! It is about time that the system had a rethink.

These are some of the negative effects attributable to the substances society says you are currently 'allowed to enjoy'....

Alcohol Contributes To....
Street violence and disorderly conduct
Domestic violence and abuse
Alcoholism and ill health
Death by alcoholic poisoning
Fifty percent of all crime
Seventy percent of all accident and emergency callouts
Hangovers and vomiting
Wasted NHS resources
Wasted police and legal system resources
Tobacco Contributes To....
Cancer and other serious illness, such as heart disease and emphysema
Minor illnesses such as asthma and coughs
General ill health
Premature death
Serious addiction
Other people smoking
Making you smell bad
Wasted NHS resources
Litter in the forms of cigarette ends on the pavements

Good Points?
Looking at the above, there are not that many good points, to say the least! In fact, when compared to some of the currently illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol start to look a bit like heroin and crack cocaine!

Knowledge And Responsibility
The fact is that you cannot stop the advance of knowledge, and you cannot totally prevent access to things. It is our lesson to learn to be responsible with that knowledge and that access. Just as with nuclear weapons, such things don't have to be destructive just because they exist. At some point, everybody has to grow up and be responsible and the fact is, given the right upbringing and education, all human beings are capable of this - without exception!

More Hypocrisy?
Another point of interest, if we are concerned with healthy well-being and potential loss of life, statistics suggest that salt in our food currently kills an estimated 40,000 people a year in Britain alone. Salt is only one of several legitimised killers that currently manifest themselves as acceptable in our current understanding. What a mixed up and confused outlook we currently have.