February 8, 2012

Week Thirteen -- Deep

I've solidly returned to my political non-fiction this week for Trifecta, seeing as I am all hot and bothered about prohibition this week. And for the record, while I had my own addiction issues, back in the day, I am incapable of enduring the outcome of drugs legal or not. But I believe our societies would do well to return to the social regulation of them, as we practiced since the days of the cavemen.

3:  difficult to penetrate or comprehend : recondite


This evening I went to a meeting at Vancouver's "Ground Zero", our downtown east side, aka Hastings and Main. Never a dull spot, the Carnegie Centre has been on this corner since the 1902. Since my mother cared for the elderly drunks (as she puts it) as a student nurse visiting rooming houses there, my youthful experiments in underground theatre performances and cheap surplus store clothing shopping, and that cause-hungry father, piously marching shouldering a Jesus on a cross, this place has been a magnate for lost souls.

Or is it?

In the discussion following the presentations, so many people stood -- some sober, some wasted, some in between -- everyone loquacious in their way. All had information to share and a common concern: prohibition and the cost of the "war on drugs" on our peoples.

Which bears the question: Are these people actually lost?

The deep issues that divide the people in power and those who occupy the least monied Canadian postal code appears today to be one of basic intelligence: understanding, respect and democratic principles versus entitlement and; birthright versus born poor. Many of these people have lost all: lives, friends, family and dignity thanks to the politicians’ extreme stance on currently-illicit drugs (which helps populate private-for-profit jails).

And to those callous enough to suggest that drug use is the lone reason children are apprehended from these individuals, reconsider. Many themselves were apprehended, in foster care as kids. Their pain is historically society’s unpaid debt.

If elected government officials are not corrupt or at the mercy of their unmovable dogma, if they care about the welfare of citizens, then the wisdom of those who live and work in the trenches must guide them. Decriminalize and then legalise drugs. Assign custody to a healthy, well funded public health system. Do it with caution, and provide a healthcare that includes dental and mental health services.

You could start by taking the money from the jails.


Extra links:

Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council

Carnegie Centre

Oh and finally, a reminder: Vote Trifecta for a Bloggie! Every day. Because you love Trifecta as much as I.


  1. Which class of drugs do you want to see decriminalized?
    "You could start by taking the money from the jails." Excellent idea!

    1. The talk I attended last night was a open-ended talk. As someone who does not take drugs (I can barely drink) my experience with addiction was a harsh case of bulima that mirrored a friend's heroin addiction -- the drive for the hit of chemicals that hit when you "use", the need to numb, the desperation for sleep. It was only when I decided to work with my coping mechanism rather than denying it and feeling ashamed was I able to face the cause roots of my pain and work on my issues.

      Once working on my issues the need for numbing decreased notably until I no longer got the same relief from my habit. It is 20 years since I haven't struggled with my eating disorder, proving that the saying "Once an eating disorder (alcoholic, drug addict) always." For some of us (and I have spoken with many), we use to escape the pain, not to avoid resolution. The shame (and in the case of illegal drugs, the criminalisation) only serves to exacerbate the issues, rather than alleviate the problems. (You know, in my opinion.)

      One suggestion I liked was to bring back the natural products, derived from plants and used since the days of the cavemen and women (apparently). Some of the things being cut into drugs at the (South American drugmaking) source now, like levamisole. Levamisole, currently called a drug used on animals, was originally a prescription drug used on cancer patients. (Just a note: apparently this is rampant, like in 90% of cocaine today. So if you use it, consider your alternatives.)

      According to someone last night, there exist a couple of labs in South America that were left with the bill after it was decided that the drug was too dangerous to be considered an effective treatment. So ... once legal drug labs is still manufacturing a product that apparently cuts perfectly into a traditional drug, rendering it cheaper, a drug that releases dopamine and triggers your nicotine receptors, but ultimately causes the body irreparable harm.

      Legalising and making these classes of drugs more "pure" and less toxic, and regulating them through a solid public health service, rather than allowing the corporations take them over from the Hells Angels, has shown in countries like Portugal (since 2001) to have been beneficial to the public.

      Obviously I am only presenting what I saw last night as best I can, as opposed to being a particularly knowledgeable expert in this subject matter. I am really interested in sparking conversations so that we may be ready when the "powers that be" consider changing the way we do things.

  2. This is an interesting topic. I have always been of the mind that legalizing drugs would be a win win for the government and the populace and that the problem was stupid morality and Christian values intervening where they don't belong.
    Safer drugs, more affordable, less drug related crime, creation of new jobs, more money in the government's pocket. What's the problem?
    And how are drugs any different than alcohol? Alcohol is one of the most damaging substances to the body over time.
    I love your political non-fiction posts. You thought criminal, you.

    1. Thank you LLcoolJ. Oh how I wish you had been there so that I wasn't the only puddle on the floor listening to people speak. It was inspiring and also a solid reminder that people in addictive states are also intelligent feeling people. It is so default to discount them because of appearances.

      I'm waiting for them to post the evening online, there is this one amazing presentation by a public health official who's "come to the light side". I think you'd be inspired.

  3. Thanks for joining us for this week's Trifecta. Like Lucid Lotus, I enjoy your non-fiction posts. They work because you couch them in descriptive, well-constructed language. This is an interesting debate, one that gets bandied about quite frequently. I'd be interested to see what the other readers have to say about it. Hope you come back on Friday for the weekend challenge.

    1. Thanks for the support in my explorations of your challenges. Opinion writing is a really important part of what I want to stay fresh on, mostly because it helps me get my thoughts out.

      Working on the final product (as opposed to simply puking my addled thoughts out) makes for a very interesting exercise.

      I can't lie, I wish for more comments, I wish I could get a better feel for how people outside of LotusLand (aka Vancouver) think of this, users, abusers and abstainers alike. But I get that it appears a dangerous topic and there exists plenty of which to fear.