Saturday, February 13, 2010

Drugs are bad, mkay?

"It's like any drug, like ecstasy and MDMA, that are perceived to be soft drugs because they're not injected," he said.

"They are manufactured using chemicals. They are mixed using all sorts of different materials that can cause harm or death.

This is from an ABC news article about a drug that has become popular in the UK recently. They refer to it as Miaow, but I think it's the same drug that was discussed on Hack on Triple J a week or two ago. On Hack, they discussed the fact that it is perceived as a safe drug because it's legal in the UK - it's used in horticulture or some such.

I remember learning about how incredibly dangerous all drugs were when I was at school. I also remember knowing that the "They are manufactured using chemicals"-type arguments were utter bullshit. Water is a chemical for chrissakes, as is paracetamol, and don't even think about what goes into Coke. This kind of infantilisation of the public is counter productive.

All illegal drugs are dangerous. For a number of them, the main danger is a direct result of them being illegal. If they were legal and regulated, the risks would be well within the tolerated risks of lots of other things that are legal in our society. For others. they are inherently dangerous due to a high risk of addiction. Some also have acutely toxic effects on your body. When will The Powers That Be stop spouting the rubbish at the top of this post, and start honestly assessing the risks of various drugs?

I remember being told that LSD was addictive and various other bullshit stuff. I didn't believe that LSD had any risks at all. Then, years ago, I heard a show on Triple J's Friday morning drug show (which sadly is no more) where people talked about some of the long term consequences they had experienced from LSD. If we had been told at school that it's an often safe drug, but randomly causes long term side effects, I might have believed them. I never used it anyway, but if someone had handed it to me in my teens or early twenties, I'd not have believed there was any risk at all. Honest conversations about drugs help people assess the cost/benefit ratio to using them. Scare mongering leads people to believe that all risks are overstated, and to discount the risks altogether.

It's extraordinarily difficult to believe that drugs are illegal for our own safety, when the authorities will not discuss them honestly.


  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

  2. Ariane,
    recently in the UK the senior drugs advisor was sacked essentially
    for pointing out that the risks of drugs bore no relationship to
    whether or not they were illegal. He also pointed out that horse
    riding was significiantly more dangerous than ectasy. He published
    an interesting paper entitled
    "Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse" at


  3. No wonder he got sacked - I haven't read all of the paper yet, but his first page says all sorts of things about how governments are doing it wrong. That'll piss 'em off every time.

    Thanks for the link - it's nice to see someone is actually approaching the subject with reason.