We're All After a Quick Fix 

We're All After a Quick Fix 
Posted by CN Staff on July 31, 2002 at 19:46:49 PT
By Libby Brooks
Source: Guardian Unlimited
Drugs do work. Current government policies on their use and misuse do not. On this at least, surely, everyone can agree. Illegal drugs work in the sense that they provide immediate and manageable pleasure to a user group the majority of whom will never spiral into addiction and death. But the increasing polarisation of the debate around decriminalisation and legalisation has left us with no space in which to examine the nature of this desire for artificially altered consciousness. Why do increasing numbers of people - especially young people - take drugs, and why should they stop? 
As far as the prohibitionist lobby is concerned, all drug use is problematic, instigated by peer pressure and sustained by addiction. People who take drugs are breaking the law, and violating social and moral norms. Thus the 34% of 16- to 59-year-olds who say they have taken a drug during their lifetime are deemed aberrant. But it is deeply unhelpful to lump use of all classes and kinds of drug together. Of the above age group, 27% have taken cannabis, a relatively safe though not altogether harmless substance. But only 5% have taken cocaine, 1% heroin and 1% crack - hence the proportion taking substances most likely to lead to problematic usage remains low. Perhaps responding to this, David Blunkett recently downgraded cannabis, allowing police forces to concentrate resources on tackling more dangerous class-A drugs, and on treating addicts. This change in the law will hopefully signal a conceptual reclassification too, viewing drug misuse as a health rather than a criminal-justice issue. It is estimated that for every pound spent on treatment £3 are saved on law enforcement, yet two thirds of the money available to tackle drugs is being spent on prohibition. But establishing an overt culture of use for any drug is a subtle and arduous process - look at the slow change in attitudes towards drink driving, or the muddled responses to the largely successful Lambeth experiment (a modified version of which came into force yesterday). The answer is not to pathologise drug use or stigmatise addiction but to understand it. If one differentiates between those who take drugs because of the state they're in and those who do so because of the state it gets them into, a different picture emerges. The desire to transcend the everyday is a fundamental part of the human condition. We are all sensation junkies, and throughout our lives we tirelessly pursue that which we desire: love, sex, sensual pleasure, escape. Ultimately, people take drugs because it makes them feel good. That's not so surprising in a society where the majority of our social interactions are based around a degree of self-medication - be it food, drink or spliffs. Unhappiness responds well to alcohol, tobacco and certain street drugs. A minority also take illegal drugs to help them feel better, which is arguably where misuse begins. It's a subtle but crucial distinction. You don't have to be genetically predisposed to addiction, socially excluded or have a family history of mental illness to take drugs because they stop you feeling bad - but you'll be more likely to. This much is obvious if you agree that drug misuse is symptomatic. But it is also true that you don't have to be unhappy to take drugs because they make you feel good. This is more complex. Unhappiness is seen as a modern epidemic. Some psychiatrists express concern about the relentless expansion of the boundaries of what constitutes depression. Clearly, clinical depression is a debilitating and frightening state, but depression has also become a catch-all phrase which takes in the dysphoria that is surely a necessary component of having a whole emotional life. There is a huge difference between a healthy public discussion of once private anguish and the situation where we define ourselves through what we suffer. To be human is to be journeying, and not always joyfully. But these days all good things come not to those who wait but on demand - love, conception, physical perfection, spiritual contentment. Consumer capitalism is increasingly commercialising our private world, co-opting the language of emotion. Orange mobiles offer optimism. L'Oreal provides self-esteem. Insidiously, it becomes harder to articulate the worth of things with no market value - genuine emotions, spiritual struggle, personal responsibility, our humanity. It is inevitable that illegal drugs feed into this culture of self-medication - sometimes levening, sometimes devastating. To open the conversation as to why we need not blithely sanction their use, or attempt to normalise what should be a growing public health concern. But it can allow room to talk about how our society manages unhappiness. And how we negotiate responsibility for our desires and choices in a world where it's now possible to sue a fast-food joint for making you fat. Note: Widespread drug use is inevitable in our consumer culture. Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.htmlSource: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Libby BrooksPublished: Thursday, August 1, 2002Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters Articles:Young See Law Change as Green Light for Cannabis and Drugs - Special Report: The Nation Users Relax with New Law To Let Pot Smokers Off Lightly
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Comment #4 posted by SpaceCat on August 01, 2002 at 11:09:23 PT
Coffeeshop rhetoric
All this talk of reducing the numbers, etc. might seem disturbing to our hyper-sensitive prohib detectors across the pond, but you can't walk two blocks in central Amsterdam without tripping over a coffee shop. I've always suspected from experience that there were WAY more pot smokers than the feds are willing to admit, and the fact that such a large number of shops appear to flourish (albeit with little overhead, judging by the major lack of aesthetics in most shops)suggests there are lots of us out there. No wonder we scare the government!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on August 01, 2002 at 09:11:46 PT
Thanks Nuevo Mexican 
Hi Nuevo Mexican,Here you go. It was a good article.
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Comment #2 posted by p4me on August 01, 2002 at 07:40:18 PT
Press release on Dutch Coffeeshops
Link to the report, by Intraval :
Pressmessage, to all media: Numbers of Cannabisshops in Holland decreased 1% since the year 2000.A 4% decrease in the 4 major cities, from 426 to 413.The latest figures on the Dutch tolerated cannabisshops ( July 30,2002) show a small decrease in numbers overall, and a bigger decrease of these outlets in the Big 4, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Overall, The Netherlands are now supposed to have 805 leisure business with a permit to sell cannabisresin and –buds, paying taxes over the sales of cannabis is obligated for these registered retailers.
Out of 504 cities and city-counties, only 105 allow cannabisshops, the rest of them maintain the zero-option, mainly because of local party politics.
The policy has national guidelines, but the final decision on to have or not to have cannabisoutlets in their city or county, is in the hands of the Mayor involved.
They can interpretate the national policy to their liking, no CDA Mayor will allow cannabisshops, the zero-option is their party’s policy. That means that no city/county with a CDA Mayor, will allow cannabis to be sold through regulated outlets.The estimated number of cannabisshops in 1997 was 1179, the report shows a decrease in numbers of 32 %, compared to the figures in the newly released report.
The report includes an index of the cities and their number of registered cannabisoutlets, in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
These figures do not include the so-called cannabis delivery services, who operate freely, even in cities with the intended numbers of cannabisshops. Haarlem, for instance, has 16 cannabisshops, the number the city wanted as a maximum, coming down from 22 in 1994. These outlets are checked by the authorities, about 4 times a year, at random, and show all of them are doing well for the last 5 years. 
Yet, Haarlem allows 4 delivery services to offer and sell their cannabis, they advertise with stickers on traffic-lights and through ads on local cable tv!
The AHOJG rules, that are the national guidelines for coffeeshops, do not allow advertising, the A stands for that, but that does not seem to go for hash on your doorstep.The report was forwarded to the Dutch Parliament, by the new Justice Minister, Donner, a former senator for the CDA, wich is the biggest party in the Netherlands at the moment.
The leader of the CDA, and present Prime-Minister, Balkenende, stated he would try to get all cannabisshops closed, before the elections. After being elected he intended to ‘only’ bring down the numbers of cannabisoutlets, wich has been succesfully executed by the former Purple government, over the last two periods of governing the country.
Balkenende’s last attempt to go after the cannabisshops exist in getting these businesses
away from schools (200 meters?) and to close the coffeeshops in the borderareas, for they attract cannabistourists from surrounding countries, like the whole of Europe.
The ‘200 meter from a school-rule’ has also been executed by the Purple coalition, under the J of the ahoJg rules in the previous 8 years, so Balkenende wants to take credit for something that has been done by the former Parliament, he is serving water after wine.
The ‘bordershop’ issue will not be executeable, the Netherlands as a country is to small to impress foreign customers with that, they will just drive on to the next city with coffeeshops, so it will only increase the mileage of the visiting potheads from Europe, a little.
There is no mention of Balkenende’s intended hard line on cannabisshops in Donners letter, offering the research report to the government, he only states that the monitoring, in the present form, will be the basis for the further policy for cannabisshops.
The CDA has just been bragging about closing all coffeeshops, before the elections, as I predicted, nothing of this stance has remained intact, it appears to be a big hoax.We will compare the index of the Ministery of Justice with the one we made in the Global Hempmuseum, as we strive to know what the exact numbers of cannabisshops are, for the last two years.
Cannabis will be available in the Netherlands, as it has been for 3 decades now, Balkenende’s bluff has been called, by his own Minister of Justice, of all people…
It seems our ‘Dutch Harry Potter’ is not able to ‘magic’ the Dutch cannabisshops away, as was stated in the British press, the fairy tale ends here.Nol van Schaik,
Chairman for the Global Hempmuseum, Haarlem, the Netherlands.
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Comment #1 posted by Nuevo Mexican on August 01, 2002 at 00:27:58 PT
Wow! Here's an article on the Gov, FOM!
Thought you might want this, this man is great! And he's the Governor!? Almost makes up for having Smirk for presi-dunce! Nothing like a contrast! 
Governor, teens discuss drug issues 
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