Portugal model worth considering

People ask if I think decriminalization of illicit drugs is the way to go.

I say absolutely yes. Just look at how far prohibition of alcohol did not get us.We live in the dark ages about addictive disease and hold misguided beliefs about drugs and their use.All our thoughts regarding drugs are either formed by society or marketing boards - just look at reefer madness.During that era, society (meaning us) once believed smoking marijuana drove teenagers into chaotic murderous rampages.This was cleverly marketed to society (again us); it was a lie about how crazy THC could make us, and as such, it became a strictly held belief.

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Big pharma marketed valium to doctors as "mother's little helper," making claims it was the best new medication to allow stressed women to cope.Not deemed addictive they said, so back then, as a whole (again, meaning us in society) we believed this horrible lie and many women became addicted to drugs.

Cigarettes is another example of how blind sighted we were.Tobacco companies with great advertising and political power made us believe that smoking was good for our health.It calms your nerves is what we were told.I even remember being allowed to smoke in my high school class, it was "guidance" class, one which was deemed to be socially progressive. Remember airlines had smoking sections in the back. We as a society think we're so darned smart now. Remember this when we talk about the criminalization of drugs.

Oxycontin was touted by big pharma as having less abuse potential than other heavy narcotic drugs out there.We (by our doctors) were fooled into that.Now millions of people turn to street drugs and die of fentanyl overdoses everyday because government cracked down. I ask myself who allowed this in the first place - big pharma had to get approval somewhere to get this drug into us.

But before you blame big pharma, government, doctors and tobacco companies, remember this - weare the ones who believed such things as refer madness, we are the ones who willingly smoked (just look at the vaping craze which people engage in right now).We bought into societal lies, even the ones which are currently being told about the need to criminalize drugs. Aactually drugs are not criminalized, it is the addicts, the ones who are using, they are the ones who are suffering with this.

If you believe addicts should be thrown into jail, remember again the prohibition of alcohol. Had you been living back then, you would then be deemed as a law-breaking, misguided soul.Based on your knowledge today, do you think you and millions of others who imbibe in a glass of wine or jug of beer should be placed into shackles and thrown into jail?

Prohibition of alcohol did not stop alcohol use.It added only more legal costs. Imagine how much money could be spent on treatment, prevention and help if policing costs/jails/courts weren't required with all this.

The Portugal model of decriminalization is a stellar example.People often fear drug use will escalate with decriminalization. What studies and research have shown is that illicit drug use actually decreased in that country.Even with the legalization of marijuana, initial reports show that THC consumption has actually gone down.

So the next time we get on the bandwagon about how harmful legalization can be, please remember how misguided we all were when we (as a society) believed such lies and propaganda as we did back then.

Despite how different we think we are from the eras of reefer madness and alcohol prohibition, I contend we have absolutely not changed because if we had, decriminalization would not be a thing.

- Questions for Ann? Send your submissions (anonymously, if you choose) to columns@pgcitizen.ca and we'll pass them along.

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