On Sunday, we were all recipient to the terrible news that yet another young, talented actor has died. I knew Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the fantastic bad guy from Mission Impossible, others knew him as a remarkable oscar winning actor and director, a crucial member of popular franchise The Hunger Games, or, most importantly, as a much-loved father and husband. It is heartbreaking to think that a family have been left behind, and that three children have lost their father. It is a great shame that the world has lost the talent of an actor described as "one of the finest actors of his generation." But whilst it is entirely necessary to mourn such a great loss, it is also important to ensure that what killed him is not ignored.
Drug abuse is a huge problem, and, as we have seen, it is a killer. Sadly enough, Mr. Hoffman is not the only young actor to have fallen prey to addiction: for many, the death of thirty-one year old Cory Monteith is still fresh in the mind. Deaths of these kinds can only be described as a tragic waste. But, rather than concentrating on the loss of life and love, the publicity of these sad events could - and should - be used in a far more meaningful way. Instead of focussing entirely on mourning - which, of course, is very important in itself - we should be made very much aware of the consequences of substance abuse.I am all too aware of a public movement that is encouraging the legalisation of cannabis. Recently, we have seen Colorado legalise the drug, and the state is likely to reap huge financial benefits from taxing the drug. And, whilst it may seem that the occasional smoke is harmless and may actually offer some benefits, regular use of marijuana is an entirely different story. Many believe and will testify that cannabis is a gateway drug, if only because it exposes the user to the drug industry. For me, that is a big enough risk in itself. If the use of marijuana can encourage that of far more dangerous drugs like Heroin - Monteith, and, likely, Hoffman's killer - then that risk far outweighs any benefits. Not only that, but long term, regular use of cannabis is without its perks. It can cause respiratory problems likened to a smoker's cough, and is linked to a plethora of mental illnesses - depression, anxiety, schizophrenia. I can't possibly see how the legalisation of this drug for recreational use is in any way beneficial: it is sure to encourage regular use, something which can only cause an increase in cannabis-related health problems, and, possibly, the use of other drugs that have recently killed much-loved public figures. At the end of the day, the world has lost yet another person to drug abuse. Whatever your opinion on drugs, perhaps it is time to take a moment to consider the consequences of drug use, and whether they're really worth it, in the end.