Walk around your typical alley anywhere around, in the noisy Lagos suburbs, the sunny estates in Nairobi or the hoods in Brooklyn and a certain sight is very common: That of young men (more often than not) hoarding their white wraps of marijuana and enjoying a good smoke. It is not an everyday occurrence yet, because most still do it in hiding, but it’s still a vivid and common picture).
I am a young Nigerian male, and I have had my fair share of travels around to know that this phenomenon is very global. Secretly done or not, the proportion of the Nigerian male (and female too!) that indulge in all/any sort of drug (apart from normal cigarettes and clinically recommended tablets) is very high. Which brings to fore the question: Are drugs really illegal? Even in the movies and music videos, our icons have helped no bit. Times without number, we have seen our heroes and favorite musicians, sportsmen or movie stars arraigned and rightly convicted for wrongful possession and/or consumption of drugs. Rightly convicted I said, only because it is STILL illegal to possess or consume most of these drugs. But is that trend about to change? We would try to analyze that together on this page. Just for perspectives, maybe it’s important to note that I don’t smoke. It’s just a topic of interest.
I would like to start by actually listing as many kinds of drugs as we have and some extra information on them.
Antidepressants are a prescription medication used to treat depression and mood disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and other anxiety problems. The problem is that some antidepressant drugs can actually carry serious side effects and when used in combination with alcohol or other depressant drugs, can actually make you more depressed. Likewise, discontinuing use suddenly can cause mild withdrawal symptoms
Barbiturates: There are many different types of barbiturates out there, many of which are prescription, and work by depressing the central nervous system. This can cause sedation and anesthesia. While used to treat seizure disorders, insomnia and other problems, they can be abused. Users often build up a tolerance to them, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects. Overdosing occurs often in those abusing “downers.”
Cannabis is also known as marijuana and has psychoactive effects. It is taken into the body in the form of smoke or vapor and can even be consumed and mixed into food or steeped in a tea. While the jury’s still out on whether or not marijuana is addictive, it is often believed to act as the “gateway” to other more serious substances.
Depressants are a type of drug that works by reducing the function of the central nervous system. Drugs often included in this category are barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
While hallucinogens have been around for years in ceremonies and rituals, they play a role in modern society as well. They work by producing sensory hallucinations in users involving any of the five senses. Common substances that fall within this category include LSD, PCP and Peyote.
As their name would suggest, inhalants refer to a group of drugs that are inhaled in the form of a gas or solvent. Potential inhalants can be found just about anywhere and include common products like nail polish remover, gasoline, glue and aerosol cans.
While the term “narcotics” is often used to refer to any illicit substance, it technically means a substance derived from opium (opiates) or its synthetic replacements. Examples of narcotics include cocaine, morphine and heroin, all of which are highly addictive.
Anabolic steroids are not the same as the kind used in medicine for the reduction of inflammation. Rather, these substances are used to build muscle mass and strength. They typically consist of male sex hormones and can be very damaging when used without a prescription.
Stimulants are a class of drugs that boost alertness and increase the activity of the central nervous system. Examples of this type of drug include amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine and nicotine, all of which are highly addictive.
Tobacco is often smoked in the form of cigarettes or cigars or chewed and contains nicotine, which is a stimulant. It’s a highly addictive substance and has been known to cause cancer and other diseases.
>>Refer to www.thegooddrugsguide.com for more information. (People, you need to read more on Google or Wikipedia about all these drugs, see pictures and statistics on usage and production/using countries and you would be shocked!)<<
Now, I bet you didn’t know half of this before now? Well, I didn’t too! So here we would focus more on the effects and the fight against the use of Tobacco (e.g. cigarette), Narcotics (e.g. opium, cocaine, and heroin) and Cannabis (e.g. weed, Igbo).
Now, very simply and quite understandably, these drugs are damaging because they could be addictive and could also induce one to be in an ecstatic state where crimes become a lot easier to commit. And since the traditional role of governments is to protect its borders, its security and the security of its citizens, it is no surprise that all governments are sworn to the cause of its eradication or drastic containment. In Mexico and Colombia, the war against drugs is taking phenomenal dimensions. Tens of thousands have died. In Mexico, it is estimated that more than 11,000 people have died in drug related crimes since 2005. The only human catastrophe that rivals this data since 2005 is probably the Haiti earthquake. It is saddening. Governments are spending so so much on the war on drugs. Afghanistan for example, where the Americans and their NATO allies have been fighting since 2001 against the Taliban (despite Russia’s earlier disgrace in that country years ago), produces about 75% of the world’s opium! That’s huge! And for years it was (still is) the major source of funding for the Taliban and their extremist elements. Today, it remains a huge source of livelihood for millions of Afghan farmers. America is rightly concerned because globally, this trade yields hundreds of billions every year and is second in income generation only to the oil industry. A UN report said the global drug trade generated an estimated US$321.6 billion in 2003 alone. Also because the main consumers of this deadly drug are the Westerners themselves. Mexico borders America, Colombia is not that far away. That’s why America spends about $52.3billion a year to fight a losing battle. Nigeria would solve its electricity problems for ever with a quarter of that, and to think of it, this is a yearly spend!
Well, a poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War on Drugs was failing. Many countries have been thinking along this line too. The Netherlands is a famous example of this, where drugs are decriminalized and you are only prosecuted when you commit crimes under the influence of drugs. Either way, you would still be prosecuted if you committed crimes under no influence, yeah? So what’s the point? To this end, Mexico decriminalized the use of drugs in 2009. The US was less raunchy in its response (compared to Mexico’s earlier attempt in 2006) by simply saying they were adopting a “wait and see” approach. This may be pointers to the fact that America wants to see if it works to also consider towing the same line.
So, my big question is this? Why are governments still fighting the drug war so hard? The fact is, the drugs trade is still booming. Those who consume drugs still consume it, only in hiding. Those who get addicted still get addicted anyway and either die of overdose or remain senile or less active forever. The damage is all on the individual.
What are the disadvantages of legalizing this? Really? As far as am concerned, I suspect many governments of dubiously siphoning funds through claims of fighting drugs trafficking and usage. I remember the complicity of America’s CIA and FBI in the Iran-Contra feud years back and the very open claims of America’s support of the despot and drug lord, Noreaga.
As for me, I want to look first at the positives of legalizing drugs use. One: You free up millions and billions of funds used in the expensive and low-yielding war on drugs to other sectors needing urgent attention. If I were President, I would spend that money on health advocacy campaigns and proper education so that instead of scaring the devil out of our children on this drug issue, we open their eyes to see the ill and we give them the power to choose rightly. Millions of roads can be paved with these funds, our police can be revamped and better furnished. Ohh, there’s so much we can do.
The US can triple its funding for HIV and other health related issues in Africa. Secondly, it frees up our jails of thousands of nonentities who would probably just die-off in their homes from addiction anyway! Thirdly, it allows the government focus on other more productive areas of crime control and drug usage. Lastly, and most importantly, you put the few but very powerful drugs lords out of business because everyone can now sell and since the market for drugs is huge and lucrative, you create employment for thousands (including the rehab centers that will eventually take the addicts), create a vibrant middle-class and lift millions out of poverty! See? Now, I know why I have always dreamt of being President! Someone give me Barack’s number so I share this great idea with him! Lol.
The point is, as far as am concerned, a drug is a drug. If people are already allowed to take cigarettes (in any amounts), then why not the harder ones? Why should the government regulate this? There are greater evils on this earth to battle than the ones who affect the individuals in question themselves.
I might be wrong. That’s why I enjoin you to take part in this debate. Should we “legalize drugs” like Sean Paul has humorously demanded in his song?
I await your candid and frank views. Let’s have a civil discussion, and please no attacks on any comments. Thanks!