Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

Eric Carlin is the latest expert to resign from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which was set up and is usually ignored by the Government. He decided to quit the group after accusing Home Secretary Alan Johnson of giving press conferences stating that currently legal high mephedrone would be made a Class B controlled drug before the committee had even finished considering its recommendations - making him the seventh expert to leave since ex-chairman Professor. David Nutt was sacked for having the gall to tell the Government that their policies regarding cannabis were wrong.

In a letter to the Home Sec, he states: "I am not prepared to continue to be part of a body which, as its main activity, works to facilitate the potential criminalisation of increasing numbers of young people." He later told Radio 5 Live, "I think to most people's judgement, the relationship between the ACMD and government has broken down."

"We need to fundamentally re-frame this, and deal with it as a public health issue, not primarily as a criminal justice issue.

"What we fundamentally need to do is get to the root causes of why is it that our 14, 15-year-olds are getting off their faces?"

He's right all round - the Government have proved themselves unwilling to listen to the ACMD, which is why Prof. Nutt was sacked. What's the point in assembling a panel of experts, with the intention of having them serve in an advisory role, if you then ignore them? Do the Government only like advice that tells them what they're already doing is right?

So why are many people - of all ages, not just that most maligned of all social groups, 14 and 15 year olds - "getting off their faces?" It's not that they want to escape the harsh realities of everyday life (many regular drug-users are from privileged middle-class backgrounds and don't have any harsh realities in their lives) - that's heroin addicts who do that, and heroin addiction is a very, very different thing to recreational drug use. It's not peer-pressure either - teenagers aren't quite so susceptible to that as some parents like to imagine, which is why they're so well-known for being stubborn.

The answer is really rather simple. Recreational drugs can be a lot of fun. Smoking a few spliffs with your mates leads to utter hilarity 99% of the time. An E or two can make all the difference between a mediocre night out and several hours of shiny-eyed bliss on a dancefloor. Dropping acid and spending the day falling about in a field with a group of friends and laughing at the trees is fertile ground for lifelong friendships. If you've ever taken drugs, you'll know what I mean.

Like most people, by the time I reached 25 or so I was beginning to get a bit bored of drugs. The idea of settling down somewhere and having nice furniture/decent food/the big television cliche and a flat that didn't smell of unwashed clothes and bodies appealed to me a great deal more. So, in common with 99.9% of people who have ever taken drugs, I stopped taking them. Just like that.

People get off their faces chiefly because they want to. They enjoy it, and they've been doing it for thousands and thousands of years. They're not going to stop taking drugs any more than they're going to stop eating food they like the taste of, playing games they like, watching TV programmes that interest them. This needs to be recognised, and information supplied that states not "DRUGS ARE BAD AND IF YOU TAKE THEM WE WILL PUNISH YOU" but "Some types of drugs generally aren't all that bad, but you can still get in a bit of a mess with them if you're not careful. So, if you are going to take them, this is how to do it as safely as possible. Oh, and if you do feel you're in trouble, let us know about it and we'll help you." That way, people who take them won't be afraid to get any help they might need.

It's obviously really, isn't it?

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