The days are long and the sun is trying to push through the haze, promising warmer weather and maybe even a summer up ahead. I love the long days and the fact that I can walk to our pub and back in full daylight. I could see Camp already parked at our usual table in the corner and he waved when he saw me approaching. How long have we met like this over a couple of pints? It seems like years, before, during and now, after the pandemic.
‘Did you see the announcement that BC is decriminalizing small amounts of hard drugs, a first in North America and highly overdue, I might say.’ Camp said as soon as I sat down.
‘Yes, I did read about it. Two and a half grams of coke, heroin, fentanyl or amphetamines with no risk of arrest or criminal charges and the drugs cannot be confiscated.’
‘A step in the right direction. Over 10’000 people have od’d since 2016 in BC. These were not criminals but victims of a volatile drug supply, mostly off the streets, mental health, addiction and cultural problems.’
‘Half the prison population in the US is serving time for drug related offences. So much for the war on drugsand thanks to Nixon declaring drugs ‘enemy No. 1’.
‘Along with decriminalization there should be an amnesty for jailed offenders but I don’t think that’s on the books.’
‘The Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Croatia, Ecuador, Portugal and Switzerland have all decriminalized drug use and possession for personal use and also invested in harm reduction programmes. Consequently, injected drug use in those countries has dramatically dropped. Remember the infamous ‘needle park’ in Zurich? It’s all gone and the whole scene has vanished. It’s a mystery to me why we haven’t followed and learned from those jurisdictions earlier.’
‘It takes political will,’ Camp said. ‘All countries that have legalized or decriminalized drugs have seen disease rates drop as well as fatal overdoses. Decriminalization saves lives, that much is obvious and it’s supported by police and the medical community.’
‘And it also takes procurement crime off the streets if drugs can be obtained from a clinic or physician. Ever since Canada legalized marijuana, consumption has not increased by much and has not kept up with over-production. Consequently, the price of pot has dropped dramatically. Also, everybody grows their own, including me. It’s a pretty plant and grows like a weed. ‘
‘I used to indulge but these days I prefer a couple of pints or a bottle of wine,’ Camp said. ‘After having smoked cigarettes since I was a teenager until I was in my forties, I try to save my lungs these days. Smoking anything is not on my menu plan.’
‘Smoking cigarettes is pretty well a thing of the past. I recall walking into pubs where you couldn’t see end to end from all the smoke. Imagine smoking on flights, in restaurants and in public places. Hard to imagine that was the way it was.’
Vicky was right on time exchanging our empties and I had to ask. ‘Did you ever smoke Vicky?’
‘You mean cigarettes? Nope, not my thing and I couldn’t afford it anyway.’
‘What about pot?’
‘Makes me sleepy and lazy. I prefer a Margarita or a mango Daquiri.’
‘Sensible choice,’ Camp said.
Fine, about time, but what about psychedelics? Not just “magic mushrooms” but clinical pure LSD? I wrote several essays about psychedelics that are in my essay collections Stardust (2021) and Meteors (2022 in press). The problem seems to be that politicians fear their constituents may become insightful, instead of just overdosing and dying.
Great post, Bruno, THANK YOU! There is a lot of push back on this first step, but I understand that it is incremental as we get harm reduction and programs in place. Time for WISE patience… Cheers, Barbara