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Just check out this drug-clock and it may just give you the perspective you need to make up your mind.

The billions of dollars spent on the war on drugs just don’t seem to make much sense, as it only compounds many of the social problems all over the world. The case for legalization of drugs has so many advantages that it is inconceivable why the international community doesn’t re-think their strategies.

Some of the advantages that spring to mind are: Legalization would immediately end the criminal activities that result from the traffic and sale of drugs, which would result in a lot more cops, equipment and infrastructure available to fight ‘real’ crime. The amount of tax-payer money that is spent to prosecute ‘drug-offenders’ and maintain them in jails, could be put to much better use, also reducing the numbers of inmates in already overcrowded facilities. The crimes of bribery and corruption connected with drugs will also end. Drug dealers and the ‘drug mafiosi’ would be out of business and countries could benefit by the cash crops that would be pure and of a high quality. Employment would increase and taxes would enhance the economies of the countries involved. Addicts could be treated without fearing for their independence and the numbers of HIV cases related to drug use would be reduced to virtually zero.

As far back as in October 2000 the Manchester Guardian reported that “…Switzerland is preparing to introduce legislation that effectively would allow the consumption of cannabis, adding to the country’s pioneering but controversial record on drugs policy. The Swiss government said it would draw up legislation next year after consultation among local authorities and community associations revealed that there was widespread support for decriminalising cannabis. “‘Two-thirds of the organisations consulted said they were in favour of this move,’ the interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss said yesterday. “But the same groups opposed any such move on hard drugs, and officials ruled out softer laws on possessing or using such substances. “Switzerland has the most liberal approach in Europe towards the treatment of heroin addicts. Since 1998 it has been providing clean needles and allowing the distribution of heroin to addicts under strict medical supervision.

Since that time, Switzerland has evolved to the point where one is able to buy good quality Cannabis in limited quantities, over the counter. There is more information on the drug policies of various countries in Wikipedia . However, policy on the ‘war on drugs’ begun by the infamous and insidious Richard (Slippery Dick) Nixon in the early 1970s is still being followed by most countries.

There are, however, many organizations around the world that have opted to campaign for a more humane policy with regard to drugs and amending legislation towards reducing the harmful effects that are caused by severe addiction. They view the incarceration of addicts, or those arrested for the possession of illegal substances, to be adding to the social problems of a community and not really addressing the problem of harmful addiction. Here are a few sites that oppose the current drug policies of some of the countries: : http://www.norml.org/ , http://www.drugpolicy.org/reducingharm/ , and http://www.drugpolicy.org/homepage.cfm .

Here in Sri Lanka there was a recent article on the Ayurvedic establishment lobbying for the cultivation of Cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes. It would seem to be a logical step, as many Ayurvedic medicinal preparations contain Cannabis.

Let’s hope that sanity prevails (unlikely though that may be) and some bright spark somewhere in the world, initiates a beginning to the end of the ‘war on drugs’. The world will have a lot less to lose.

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There have been a few posts in reaction to the one on school children indulging in sex and drugs that unearthed some questions on ‘children’s rights’. Having worked some time within the ambit of childcare, I raised  some questions with child-rights authorities of an international organization with regard to children’s ‘rights’. The questions were as follows:

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
Is any form of corporal punishment an infringement of a child’s rights and/or considered to be ‘abuse’?

CHILD LABOUR
If a child chooses to work in order to support his/her parents or him/herself, and is under the age as stipulated by law, does this choice cease to be a ‘right’ of the child?

AGE OF SEXUAL CONSENT/AGE FOR MARRIAGE
Does any child have the ‘right’ to partake in a sexual relationship of his/her choice? At what age does this become ‘right’?

At what age does a child have the right to marry the partner of his/her choice?

EMANCIPATION
At what age does a child have the right to live independently – as he/she chooses?

SEXUAL ABUSE
If a child is raped and does not want to inform the authorities, should this child’s ‘right’ of choice be respected?

VIEWS OF THE CHILD

Does the child have the ‘right’ to disregard his/her parent’s directives/decisions? If not, at what age would the child acquire this ‘right’?

At what age should a child have the right of choice with regard to continuing with his/her education?

Some of us consider that the rights of a child that include calling the cops when a parent chastises him or her, and that results in the parent(s) being charged in a court of law, is going overboard with this whole affair. And some of us see no harm in a teenager indulging in sexual activities of his or her choice. Some see no ‘abuse’ in a child wanting to work to support a dysfunctional family, but there are others who think that children who choose to partake in these activities should not be allowed to do so. The quandary here is who has the right to decide – the ‘authorities’ or the child? And if the child is denied its choice, does he or she have the right to object? If not, what are we talking about?

Of course a definition of ‘child’ must be established, and I do believe that the age to determine this varies from country to country. For instance, the Sri Lanka report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child states that: “The Sri Lankan system has accepted 16 years and 14 years as the ages of discretion for boys and girls respectively, without the reference to the maturity of Sri Lankan children. Accordingly a girl of 16 years old has been judicially considered to be free to decide whether she wishes to sever all connections with her parents and reside in a place of her choice. The Sri Lankan law recognizes the concept of tacit emancipation, according to which permission granted by a parent to a minor child to carry on a business and lives on his/her own confers legal capacity for certain purposes”

Generally, however, I believe that the accepted international standard (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) is that anyone under the age of eighteen is considered to be a ‘child’. And this seems to me to be pretty absurd. I’m sure that when most of us were around that age, we considered ourselves perfectly mature enough to determine who we wanted to have sex with, what we wanted to smoke or drink and where and how we wanted to spend our time. There are so many ‘adults’ who forget what they were up to when they were ‘kids’ and impose all sorts of constraints on young people that would have been par for the course for themselves when they were that age.

There are also other dangers that result from the imposition of child-rights, one of which is the unjust incarceration of individuals who have been falsely accused of child-abuse. Several cases have been documented where children have lied (and later recanted) about being abused by adults that resulted in the incarceration of innocent folk and the subsequent destruction of their lives and those of their immediate families.

So there’s the dilemma. How do you see it? And if you want some answers to the questions I posed above, stay tuned – I’ll let you know how the ‘authorities’ responded.

And it’s not to do with the war, rather some thoughts catalyzed by Naz’s poem, Sidereal.

She knows she’s liberated
None of that inferior shite
For her no kowtowing either
She stands her ground
Watching the innuendo
And deliberate acts
Float on by
And yet she’s pissed
At the violation of her space
…. by a Male

The mome raths outgrabe as the borogroves got all mimsy when she came – like a flood of light piercing oblivion. Was that the reason for his nebulous reasoning, or was it something else about her that got to him? The feelings of remorse he felt every time she left wasn’t to do with her impending absence, rather it was remorse felt at the prospect of her return. So he kissed her goodbye – again – hoping against hope!

The relationship was relatively recent – a chance meeting at ‘Blues’ had led from one thing to another, until she moved in. And that was just up his street – no more fantasizing about a regular bonk and having someone around to help around his pad made all the difference. And although he was more into one-night-stands than getting involved in emotional entanglements, this seemed like it could just work out. But that niggling doubt remained – he put it down to conditioning, thinking it would pass – like everything else. But it persisted.

The slithy toves were gyring and gimbling in the wabe and although it wasn’t exactly brillig, she let him kiss her goodbye, wishing he would brush his teeth before he did, as his early morning breath almost made her gag. And as she made her way out of the apartment, she wondered how long she would have to put up with his bullshit before she was ready to move out. He wasn’t bad in bed, although she pretended like hell that he was better than he really was. And since she was between regular lovers, she figured that the conveniences he provided would be better than the hassle of living alone.

And so they carried on – living the lies they told themselves and each other – playing the game for their social counterparts and themselves.

And so it went – until…

When you leave I’m filled with remorse
That you will soon be back
So I kiss you goodbye
And hope for the best

When you come it’s like a flood
Of light piercing oblivion
It hurts my sensibilities
Is that the reason?