Drugs, Anyone? & other essays


Exactly what are we talking about when we use this word?

Drugs may be roughly defined as non-nutritive or low-nutritive substances that cause notable chemical and psychological alterations of ordinary psychosomatic functioning. The word ‘drugs’ as it is used in slogans of recent times such as ‘Drugs are killing our kids’, ‘Just say no to drugs’, etc., is unrelated to such a definition, since it means ‘(horrible!) illegal drugs’, and is meant to imply that legally available drugs are not drugs, as overtly expressed in the common journalistic phrase ‘drugs and alcohol’. If all illegal drugs were legalized, ‘drugs’ in this sense would cease to exist, and such a phrase would become completely unusable, since it would automatically be seen to be as nonsensical as it really is.

One must not imagine, however, that this linguistic confusion is caused by the heat of battle in the War on Drugs. It is a way of allowing the addicts of tobacco, alcohol and coffee, amphetamines (those legally obtained, of course! since the others are sinful), barbiturates and the rest of the phamaceutical offering, that is, the vast majority of the population in modern society, to feel indignant and self-righteous when they view around them the devastation caused by ‘drugs’ or ‘narcotics’. This way of naming things also helps to promote the generalized hysteria which prevents people from thinking logically about the questions involved. So then, let’s try to find some essential questions and some logical answers.

Who profits from prohibition? Those who sell large quantities of the prohibited drugs of the moment, is it not so? What insures them their great profits? Prohibition. If marihuana were not prohibited, there would be no reason – none at least in terms of production costs – that it should be more expensive than tobacco. As prohibition, when viewed without hysteria, is seen to be the handmaiden of illegal ‘trafficking’ – a strange word this, the opposite of a euphemism: a scandalism, let us say, for the common word ‘trade’ or ‘commerce’ – it follows that prohibition exists for the sake of creating and maintaining the markets in illegal drugs, which are controlled by people with governmental connections in every country where illegal drugs are sold; and that the Mr. Big figures such as Escobar and Noriega are in fact merely the competition of the official monopoly, as is every traveler who attempts to bring in a kilo of two of hash from Morocco. (Significantly, we rarely if ever read of the persecution or fall of an American or European ‘drug king’: it would seem that they are all greasy South Americans, Turks and Arabs, as if the only local people involved in the terrible practice of marketing ‘drugs’ among our innocent youth were certain small-time dope dealers who receive the gear from their Latino-Muslim contacts and sell it to the ‘addicts’. Who, once identified by this term, cease to be innocent youth and become the shit from the bottom of the ocean who should be locked away for the rest of their lives.)

Those who find my deduction extreme must explain why it is that, while the proclaimed object of this prohibition is and always has been to ‘wipe out drug use’ and create a ‘drug-free society’, the drug use in question has done nothing but expand since the introduction of the ban (and the publicity, or let us say, unpaid advertising of those drugs in the news media that resulted). Yet still the prohibitionists insist that stronger police measures are the only possible key to ‘solving the problem’. One can hardly believe, however pessimistic one might be, that the stupidity of the world’s legislative assemblies, though one could look in worse places for stupidity, extends to applying in all sincerity the same ‘useless’ methods for seventy years to ‘solve’ (maintain) a ‘problem’ (business) that obviously gets ‘worse’ (more profitable) with their continued application.

It is worthwhile to consider the case of the first 20th-century drug prohibition in the US, that of alcohol. This was an idealistic scheme to save the American Family from doom, promoted by a conservative feminist group called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It was effected by an amendment to the US Constitution, approved in 1919 and repealed in 1934 by means of referenda. The results of this prohibition were the following:

  1. Considerable increase in the consumption of alcohol.
  2. Stimulation of existing mafias and creation of new ones to serve the alcohol market.
  3. Enormous increases in the prices of alcoholic beverages.
  4. Production of low-grade, even poisonous alcohol, consumption of which caused a hundred thousand deaths and a million irreversible injuries.

When alcohol again became an item legally sold, many illegal business organizations of the prohibition era lost their market. Fortunately for them, marihuana was prohibited three years later, and things began to pick up. Since the implementation of the second prohibition, the following effects have been observed:

  1. Enormous increase in consumption of the prohibited drugs.
  2. Stimulation of existing mafias and creation of new ones to serve the market in prohibited drugs.
  3. Astronomical increases in the prices of prohibited drugs.
  4. A great number of deaths and irreversible injuries due to adulteration with rat poison and other toxic substances: this is the famous ‘overdose’, a cozening word which implies that when you go scrounging around garbage-filled back alleys to buy heroin, you’re likely to find very generous salesmen, who will give you dosages much higher than the standard 5-7% heroin found in the white powders sold under this name on the black market.

Now how did the development of this astonishingly successful multinational business come about? Could it be that back in the 30s Mr. Big, or various Mssrs Big, went to a few members of Congress and encouraged them with gifts to promote that second prohibition, and foment an ‘anti-drug’ campaign that would get sales moving?

Is there any other possibility?



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