Why do people take illegal drugs? That’s a ridiculous question. Why do people smoke tobacco and drink alcohol? Because they are pleasurable, seductive, and available. Do smokers and drinkers lose their citizenship? No. Even though they give themselves serious health problems through their habit, are they cared for and treated at public expense (in UK)? Yes. The legal status of a drug has little bearing on which drugs people like. But the illegal status of heroin (and other drugs) has a profoundly inhibiting effect on public discussion and education about them. And this problem has deep roots. Since President Nixon’s ill-fated declaration of ‘War on Drugs’ in 1971 safely delivered the heroin and cocaine production and transit industry into the hands of the underworld, all wealthy individuals and businesses who off-shore their financial arrangements have an unhealthy shared interest in keeping things they way they are. The privatised prisons in the USA – built specifically to deal with the burgeoning criminalised drug users – are doing very well out of the illegal status of heroin and cocaine. Naturally, they don’t want a public discussion about it, nor do they want to do anything to reduce the problem. For them it isn’t a problem. Some of this was rehearsed at an excellent public meeting organised by Transform Drugs Policy Foundation (Scotland) in a committee room in the Scottish Parliament in the last week of May.
I am doing a Shore Walk from Carrier’s Quarters pub (Bernard Street) from 6.30 pm on Thursday 9 May. We should be back in the pub within the hour. Most of it will be a general introduction to the core of Leith, but outside Shore Bar I won’t resist reading from the sequel to Trainspotting (can’t put the title online ‘cos it might filter out the whole site) p268/9. That’s the bit when Sick Boy turns the heat on Paul Keramalandous, the treasurer of Leith Businesses Against Drugs Forum, of which Sick Boy is a founding member! Never mind the history – let’s stick with fiction. Why don’t you string along?