Yesterday saw the publication of the first of three parts to this current blog entry investigating some of the major consequences of Prohibition. ‘The Black Market’ followed one of the first effects that Prohibition causes – that of promoting illicit/illegal activity.
Today’s blog entry – ‘Going Underground’ – follows what happens when people are forced to enjoy their habit out of the glare of the public spotlight.
Time allowing, tomorrow’s entry – ‘The Virtual World’ – will conclude the series.
In yesterday’s blog entry, I discussed the Black Market and how it grows and thrives in a Prohibitionist world. Now comes the opportunity to discuss the ways in how that Black Market is used.
We already have a clear indication of what happens when something is prohibited in society. It can found in the world of illicit drugs.
Drugs, of various types, have been around for as long as the human race has evolved. Early man quickly discovered that using certain plants in certain ways had beneficial and enjoyable benefits to the user. Some drugs developed that eased pain or cured disease, whilst others developed that simply provided pleasure. I am not going to discuss ‘ The Pleasure Principal’ in this blog. That subject has been covered frequently and far more eloquently in other blogs to be found around the internet (including on the NNA Website). Suffice to say, that drugs of pleasure have been around for a very long time.
Two of the most common (legal) drugs in today’s society are obviously caffeine and nicotine. But even the so-called illicit drugs were perfectly legal until relatively recent times. In fact, cannabis/marijuana and even drugs such as LSD (acid) were legal in my lifetime as they were not finally made illegal until the late 1960’s. The Victorians were voracious and ubiquitous drug users and the term ‘The Opium Den’ really came into the English language as a phrase during the Victorian era, though the phrase was probably coined long before that. Many prominent Victorians are reputed to have been heavy drugs users (including Royalty) and indeed many fictional Victorian characters (such as Sherlock Holmes) were regularly depicted as drug users, such was the commonplace occurrence of those times.
Then, in the late 1960’s, various Governments started Legislating against recreational drugs as they realised how popular they were becoming amongst the populace. There is little doubt that some drugs are far more insidious and dangerous than others. Cannabis is a good example of a relatively benign drug. It has a great many qualities as a source of pain relief (a fact not unnoticed by many MS sufferers), but also provides a huge amount of pleasure. I will admit to having sampled cannabis joints in my younger years and found the effect to be not only pleasurable, but akin to getting drunk on alcohol – but without the inevitable hangover the following morning. On the other end of the scale, we have the highly addictive and destructive heroin, which causes much damage and crime in society.
The problem was that when the Governments, egged on by Public Health, decided to act on drugs, they chose to come down with a ‘hammer to crack an egg’ approach. That is, they came out with a blanket ban on a whole range of drugs rather than treat each on its merits. The result was to drive the entire drugs market underground and a continual war against this has been fought ever since, costing an absolute fortune in law enforcement and crime prevention. It is a mistake they continue to make as more and more drugs are added to that list.
Has drug use gone down since legislation was brought in during the 60's ?
Absolutely not. Drug use continues to skyrocket and thus proves that prohibition of drugs has simply not worked. The more enlightened countries that are slowly lifting such restrictions are now seeing the benefit.
But is tobacco next ? How about nicotine ? Alcohol ? Sugar ? Salt ?
True, you will tell me that all of those substances are legal to be consumed, and you would be right. But it is also true that the only reason they are all still legal is because the Governments around the world make so much money from them, and we all know that money is a Government’s main addiction (power is the other one).
However, let’s take tobacco as an example. Whilst it may still be a legal product, it is being increasingly marginalised. Already smoking has been pushed out of pubs, clubs and other public spaces. You have not been able to smoke on public transport for a very long time and all work premises are now also smoke-free. In the latest twist even our own cars have become targets for becoming smoke-free as a new (unenforceable) law was brought in to ban smoking in any vehicle carrying children. The latest pushes are to ban smoking in public parks and beaches. Some in public health would even like to see smoking banned outside of pubs, especially in beer gardens. The places a person can actually enjoy a legal product such as tobacco, are becoming so restricted that smokers have no choice but to retreat to the sanctity of their own homes or private social gatherings to enjoy and indulge their habit (I refuse to call it an addiction as I do not believe it to be so).
Aah, but what about the Vapers you ask ? Vapers can still enjoy their product where smokers cannot. That may be true in many instances, but as a Vaper I can assert that even the places where one can vape are slowly being eroded. Whilst there is currently no legislation banning the use of vape-products in public enclosed spaces, some Governmental bodies have tried to go down that route (Yes, I am looking at you Welsh Government) – unsuccessfully. Indeed some countries in the world have actually gone as far as banning vape-products altogether. So Vapers, do not make the mistake of believing we are immune to such bans. More and more places are banning the use of vape products in the mistaken belief that there is actually some harm to be had from them – despite no credible evidence to prove so. It is only a matter of time before another Public Health ‘charity’ tries again to persuade Government that they should be banning their use.
And it will not stop there. Alcohol is on their list, as are fizzy drinks. Soon there will be calls for complete bans on sugary products or those high in salt content. The list is neverending as each Public Health ‘charity’ or organisation will seek to reinvent themselves to ensure that the gravy train keeps on rolling in the money.
The net effect is that bans will drive such behaviour underground, just like it has with the drugs ‘problem’. Just like drugs, people will start buying products on the Black Market (discussed yesterday) which will be products that have no guarantee of content or safety. They will be forced to smoking/vaping/drinking ‘underground’ by retreating to the sanctity of their homes to enjoy the product. Once such products reach the level of being sold on the black market and consumed behind closed doors, then that is when Public Health will completely lose the battle, whether they realise it or not. Because when such products are consumed behind closed doors, there is no limit on how much can be consumed. There is no control on how it is consumed. There is no control over who might be present when it is consumed. Most importantly, they will lose the ability to know how many people are consuming those products. So their skewed ‘reports’ on consumption will truly hit complete fantasy-land as they will have no way to measure consumption and, as with drugs, people will simply deny they use them when asked.
If Public Health think they have a major health problem on their hands now, then it is nothing compared to the problems they are going to encounter once all of these habits have gone underground. Once underground, the whole sphere becomes an unregulated, uncontrolled badlands and the consequences could be horrendous.
Will Public Health learn from their mistakes in the war on drugs ?
I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. There is far too much money at stake for them to learn from their experiences.
And as we are all well aware, it is not about health with these people is it ?