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Dr. Peter Ferentzy Headshot

The War on Drugs is Failing, so Let's Ban More Stuff!

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LEGAL HIGHS
alamy

The good people at HuffPo have asked me to write about this timely topic: should the UK ban all substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs?

While I could offer an erudite response, today I'd rather keep it simple. The war on drugs has failed to stop drug use, and has caused more trouble than drugs could ever do. Now the idea is to "update" these policies with more repression.

I recall as a child watching the Three Stooges on TV. Bald-headed Curly might pull on a water pipe and cause leakage in the bathroom. His solution was to pull even harder and cause a flood. Oh, jumping up and down and smacking himself on the head while making strange noises also helped: he'd fall and hurt himself.

Then he'd get up, and tug at the object repeatedly with all the strength he had... No f'n pipe was gonna get away with making him look foolish!

If any of this reminds you of current suggestions for drug policy in the UK, that would imply not only that you are a perceptive reader, but also a lot smarter than your politicians.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs would start to ban any substance that mimics the effects of illegal substances. The stated model for this is the US Analog Act, given the spanking job the Americans are doing over there.

As someone who has been researching into addictions for two decades, my main critique is that these new suggestions lack teeth. Other things must be banned. Glue can get you high, inhaling car exhaust from a tailpipe isn't bad and, oh yeah, beer seems to have that effect.

Meanwhile, let's make more and more money off of pathological gamblers by building new and better gaming machines designed to get people hooked.

After all, drug addicts aren't as profitable as gamblers. Despite their best efforts, physical limits inhibit their potential as consumers. But a gambler can play his home away overnight, so that's the way to go.

Alright, I'm being a little glib.

Two points to consider:

1) Other behaviors are just as dangerous as drugs, so why single out drugs?

2) There will always be new ways to get high, and plenty of old ones too.

If you think that something like a "war on drugs" was a good idea to begin with, and also that it can be won, then by all means keep it up. I advise you to watch many episodes of the Three Stooges, and to learn all that you can from your mentor, Curly. If you think that the war on drugs is a joke, then you will take issue with this new approach to the same old insanity.

I have come to believe that advocates of drug prohibition really do need help, and I did my best to offer just that in my most recent HuffPo column.

So I've said what I have to say. Wake up already: the 20th century was wrong! Let's get past it all, and start fresh.