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Why we need an Amy’s law for drugs

TRAGIC:Amy Winehouse highlights the needless suffering of many affected by drugs

REMEMBER THE (fantastically overrated) film American Gangster? The one where Denzel plays a drug baron in the exact persona he played Malcolm X.

Anyway, the end of the movie (in which police storm a drugs factory and kill at will) reminds me of the demise of Amy Winehouse. They’re both drug fuelled, tragic, completely pointless and, to some degree, avoidable.

The recent sad death of Amy Winehouse will be treated as the isolated death of an immensely talented singer whose decline, if not her death, was fuelled by drugs. Or at best this will become a debate about addiction, which would only be discussing half of the problem.

POLICY

The problem is this: there are many Amy Winehouses. Most of them would make rubbish jazz singers. Many of them are not physically dead. However each one is as tragic as the demise of Winehouse herself. The misery of most of these people (as well as their families, loved ones and communities) is not created by drugs, but by drug policy, by the futile laws prohibiting the insatiable demand and supply of drugs.

Drug policy has pointlessly criminalised millions of people, torn families apart, left people in despair and destitution, created dependencies (which are then ruthlessly exploited), boosted the global prison population to a peak and left many dead. But to be fair, drug policy has had its benefits: it has helped sell newspapers, elect politicians, enrich gangsters, provide entertainment fodder and create an environment where those who are affected by it – the users, the sellers or their loved ones – are thought of as lesser than those who are not.


FILM: Denzel Washington in American Gangster

If everyone who had used or sold drugs was punished to the full extent of the law many of the most talented people in history would be tainted by convictions or languishing away in prison.

Even Barack Obama would be doing porridge and worrying about dropping soap.

See how ridiculous it sounds? Yet it is happening. Take the tragic case of Chris Lewis, a former England cricketer. He is 24 months into a 13-year sentence for smuggling cocaine. The average sentence for rape on the other hand is eight years. This is the definition of lunacy!

FUTILE

Countless professors, experts, government advisers, etc have all highlighted the futility of international drug policy. In fact the odds are you’ve read this article in some form or fashion a hundred times. And they all say the same thing: we have a manmade disaster on our hands in the form of drug policy. What can we do about it?
If the tabloids really wanted to do the nation a self-redeeming favour they’d seize the moment and start a campaign in memory of Amy Winehouse called Amy’s Law.

CAMPAIGN

Amy’s Law would not technically be a law, but a demand that drug laws be relaxed. And Amy’s Law would demand that a much more common sense approach to drugs enforcement be implemented, such as the legalisation of narcotics, taxing the profits from them, regulating the quality of drugs available and better treatment for addicts. In short, adopt the policy that is used for the vicious drug called alcohol.

Surely this has to be better than the current policy which involves ostracising people.

If animals can inspire people to create successful campaigns to ensure that they not be held in cages and forced into the circus, aren’t some of the more vulnerable and drug addicted human beings worthy of a campaign too?
We must do a lot better than make a spectacle out of addicts.

They’re human beings after all.

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