THE BLOG
16/12/2014 00:31 GMT | Updated 14/02/2015 05:59 GMT

An Open Letter to Russell Brand

Dear Mr Brand,

It has come to my attention that you're no longer making me laugh. For the last few years I've enjoyed your comedy, especially the quip about Bush being a retarded cowboy.

I've watched your style evolve and sometimes I grew bored, wondering whether you were going to use your celebrity for something more than bollocking politicians and mocking the masses.

In recent weeks my interest in your career has hit home.

This is because you're finally having the conversation I've been fighting to have since I was 15.

I thought I'd finally gotten somewhere when I published a horrifically written, incredibly scathing article about my hometown. The piece went viral and I was interviewed by the BBC but no one wanted to have that conversation: the one about how my home city has fallen victim to heroin and is fast developing an interest in crystal meth.

Politicians don't want to deal with it because it's scary and to a certain extent I understand; the world of problem drug use is an inherently alien and scary place.

But you and I both know that it doesn't have to be like that.

The difference between recreational and problem drug use is something that was never spoken of in my education and yet by the age of 16, when my class were finally given the 'Just Say No' talk, most of my classmates and myself had already been exposed to the likes of cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine.

The talk was two years too late and I know many of my classmates have since fallen victim to the circle of deprivation that goes hand-in-hand with a majority of problem drug users.

Those involved in this cycle - both as users and as spectators - accept it like it's a norm, but it's not a normal thing. It's a psychological defect, a mental health issue that doesn't have to lead to homelessness and criminal activity. Recreational drug use doesn't have to turn into addiction and yet we just roll over and accept it.

I'm 21-years-old (Dec 2014) and am finishing my final thesis on recreational drug use amongst students. The qualitative theoretical nature of my dissertation has uncovered results which suggest normalisation theories on adolescent drug use do play out in reality.

In layman's terms: most teenagers will experiment with drugs and those that don't are not opposed to recreational drug use. This means that my generation's politicians could be the ones that finally make that leap into decriminalisation.

However, my core interest lies in the global war on drugs. I've interviewed those on the front lines. My article with Richard Cabral landed me interviews with a number of ex-cartel and ex-gang members, all of whom are ready to tell their stories of how prohibition has destroyed a whole generation of Hispanics across the USA and Latin America.

Your campaign is beautiful and I am a firm supporter but the truth is that even if our tiny little island nation legalises every narcotic, psychedelic and hippy plant there will still be hundreds of thousands of kidnappings, mass murders and mutilated, decaying bodies left in the streets across Central, South and North America.

My argument for mass-legalisation is this: those who are going to harm themselves through overdosing will still end up in a hospital bed, or worse. We only have to look at alcohol misuse to see that. Yet thousands of lives would be saved through a legal open-market competition in the business of drugs. Instead of kingpins, we'll have businessmen. We might even save lives because we'd have quality control.

Just like most people don't want to buy battery-farmed animals, recreational drug users don't want to buy poorly-made products cut with glass or synthetic substances. The moment we legitimise this $321.6 billion industry (UN, 2003) we cut out the middle-man and people stop killing each other.

This is why I'm not laughing any more. Your celebrity has finally made people talk about something I intend to dedicate my life to studying, documenting and campaigning for.

It might all be a phase for you and next week you'll have something else juicy and taboo to talk about but for me, this is it. I will be having this conversation for a long time, maybe even the rest of my life. Unlike you, I'll probably be ignored. What does a five foot four, blonde Welsh girl know about the world of drugs, right? By this time next year I'll have graduated with a degree that I've dedicated to researching drugs, I'll have witnessed the terror on the front lines of this war.

So if you take anything away from this letter, it's just a thank you. Thank you for making my job a serious topic for discussion, thank you making people modernise their beliefs on this once ostracised subject.

It'd be interesting to talk to you about, to hear your take on the points I've made though I understand these chances are slim. For now, I'm happy that anyone reads this article because at least one more person will know that we're in the middle of World War Three and it's more violent, more corrupt and more dangerous than most could ever imagine.

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