Friday, June 26, 2009
  Say "Yes" To Drugs?

I am well aware that my title may suggest that I am advocating the use of drugs so let me say from the outset that I am not.

However, today is the World Drug Day co-ordinated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Their annual World Drug Report provides one of the most complete assessments of the international drug problem, with comprehensive information on the illicit drug situation. It provides detailed estimates and information on trends in the production, trafficking and use of opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants, based on data and estimates collected or prepared by Governments, UNODC and other international institutions, (and) attempts to identify trends in the evolution of global illicit drug markets.

Consider that the population
Indonesia is c.230 million and then work out how many users of the following drugs and then work out the actual numbers from the given percentages of the population: Cocaine 0.1%, Cannabis 0.7%, Amphetamines 0.3%, Opiates 0.16%.

This week, calling for universal access to drug treatment, Antonio Maria Costa, director of UNODC said, "People who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution." said Since people with serious drug problems provided the bulk of drug demand, treating this problem was one of the best ways of shrinking the market.

However, back in In 2005, Tom Lloyd, a retired UK chief constable, said that prosecuting users is misguided and counter productive; prosecuting dealers without tackling demand or their profits doesn't work.

If the money wasted on misinformation, enforcement and condemnation had been spent on tackling the underlying causes, so many lives blighted by drugs and crime could have been different. There are a number of alternative methods available, but sadly we can't hold a rational public debate.

I agree, especially with "tackling the underlying causes". Prevention is always better than a cure.

Without a fundamental change in society, one that offers both opportunity and equality, then I do not believe that there is much rationality in the government and other authorities here positing Say No To Narkoba.

I well remember a few years back standing at the now inaptly named Harmoni intersection in Jakarta and staring at a banner with these words and thinking that I was breathing in massive amounts of noxious exhaust fumes which were far worse in their long-term effects than the occasional intake of a
non-addictive recreational drug such as marijuana, known as ganja in Indonesia.

Folk are able to choose whether or not to imbibe some recreational substances such as addictive tobacco or alcohol..

I wondered too about the intake of body and mind altering substances which governments have knowingly allowed us to imbibe. There are pharmaceuticals, such as Vioxx, Bextra and, most notoriously, Thalidomide, which have had to be withdrawn from consumer markets because of their serious side effects. There are decreases in fertility as urine 'contaminated' with contraceptive pills ends up in water supplies. There are pesticides and fertilisers spayed and spread on crops which also end up in water tables, ultimately drunk. And the crops end up on our kitchen tables. Meat animals are fed on gods know what and end up giving us BSE, swine and bird flu.

Then there's the full spectrum of food additives, colorants and artificial flavours,
and the excessive amounts sugar and salt in our ready packed snacks and meals. Consider too the proliferation of so-called food and health supplements we consume.

Yet certain remedies, commonly found in plants, are restricted by commercial considerations. Take aspirin, which I won't dignify by capitalising, which is a derivative of salicylic acid commonly found in nature, such as the bark and leaves of the willow tree. Hippocrates knew this 2,500 years ago, although it took until 1900 for the German company Bayer, to patent the name, a patent they lost in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles with the end of World War 1.

Why then, is aspirin not marketed here as a generic medicine? (Incidentally, Heroin® was also a trademark Bayer was forced to give up in 1919.)

Narkoba are generally defined as recreational drugs which have been deemed to be illegal because their traffickers and users can be harmful to society. And this is true.

There are a number of highly addictive chemically produced drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, which are marketed by criminal gangs with financial resources and armies greater than many countries. Indeed, in some countries, these gangs seemingly are the de facto government.
The death toll among gang members competing for supply routes and the gangs' addicted customers is unquantifiable but high, too high. I'm definitely not suggesting the decriminalisation of such evil people, although excuses can be made for many of the addicted.

Heroin is a main source of income for the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it wages war against non-believers in their brand of bigotry. Innocent civilians are numerous victims.

Here in Indonesia, the growing and trafficking of marijuana, known as ganja, by both the military and the Aceh Free Movement (GAM) undoubtedly prolonged the war, which only ended with a genuine act of nature, the tsunami. Unfortunately reports continue to surface of renegade acts of violence linked to the trade. And these would surely cease if marijuana were decriminalised.

Consider the use throughout human history of marijuana as a pain reliever.

Queen Victoria is supposed to have used it for period pains. It was sometimes used in childbirth and a poignant archaeological discovery in the Middle East revealed cannabis remnants near the body of a young woman who probably died in childbirth 5,000 years ago.

Cancer patients have claimed that cannabis helps suppress nausea after chemotherapy and the UK government now allows such use under medical supervision.

I can also attest to its beneficial effects. Twenty five years ago, whilst awaiting the arrival of a doctor to put to rights my herniated vertebra (slipped disc), a friend gave me some 'pot' to smoke. When the doctor arrived, I was smiling.

It has only been for a mere 70 years that the use of marijuana as a recreational drug has been prohibited. Marijuana is also known as hemp. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, and over the centuries the plant was used for food, incense, cloth, rope and up to 25,000 uses.

In America, William Randolph Hearst, the multi-millionaire newspaper proprietor immortalised in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, owned enormous timber acreage, land best suited for conventional pulp. According to Popular Mechanics, 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of forest pulp land, so it was in Hearst's interest to see the Marijuana Tax Act passed in 1937.

At this time, DuPont was patenting a new sulfuric acid process for producing wood-pulp paper, which ultimately accounted for more than 80% of all DuPont's railroad car loadings for the next 50 years. Also, in 1935 DuPont developed a new synthetic fiber, nylon, which was an ideal substitute for hemp rope, and in 1938 they introduced rayon, which would have been unable to compete with the strength of hemp fiber or its economical process of manufacturing.

Hearst's media orchestrated a campaign against blacks and Mexicans, seen as the main users of 'reefer'.

"Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men's shadows and look at a white woman twice."

Here in Indonesia, a little sense is beginning to prevail. In 2002, then President Megawati issued a decree which led to the formation of the National Narcotics Board (BNN) and the development of a national strategy toward the abuse, trafficking and eradication of illicit substances. Despite the existing laws and regulations specifically criminalizing the use of illegal drugs, the strategy clearly stated that "drug users should be referred to drug treatment and rehabilitation (by court order) rather than imprisonment".

In March, the Supreme Court issued a circular reminding judges of this decree. This is a small but positive step toward softening Indonesia's harsh prohibitionist approach.

There's a long way to go, however, before we can all breathe easier.

Further reading

Arguments Pro and Anti Drug Prohibition
The International Drug Policy Consortium is a global network of NGOs that specialise in issues related to illegal and legal drug use.



7:00 am
Alien Thoughts from Home

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Interactive World Time

Indonesian Dictionary

Indonesian Acronyms

Indonesian Slang

Learn Indonesian

Currency Converter

Email Me

The WeatherPixie

5 Day Forecast

Get Firefox!

  • West Sumatra Earthquake Aid Agencies
  • Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
  • Reports on Crashes and Sinkings

  • Living in Indonesia
  • Tempo
  • Bugils News
  • Jakarta Post
  • Jakarta Globe
  • Down To Earth
  • Loads of Advice
  • Inside Indonesia
  • Green Indonesia
  • Hobson's Choice
  • Gunung Bagging - New - clamber volcanoes
  • Indonesian Music
  • Indahnesia Online
  • Maps of Indonesia
  • Indonesia For Kids - blog
  • Green Group Links
  • Faces of Indonesia - blog
  • Photos of Indonesia
  • Indonesian Publications
  • International Crisis Group
  • Indonesian Engaged Travel - blog
  • Outside The Indonesian Box - blog
  • Indonesian Corruption Watch
  • News and Events Aggregators
  • Indonesia's Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Living in Jakarta
  • Culture Shock - Jakarta - 'my' book
  • Bataviase - loads of info in Indonesian
  • Rujak.org - for a sustainable Jakarta
  • Jakarta Kid - stories of street kids
  • Jakarta Events - as it says in the title
  • Map of Jakarta
  • Jakarta Nite Out
  • Jakarta Nite Out - for Francophiles
  • Jakarta 100 Bars - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Java Kini - upmarket magazine
  • Jakarta Urban Blog- as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Green Map
  • Jakarta Daily Photo - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta? Been there!
  • Protecting Jakarta Bay
  • Nightlife - for single guys - check the forums
  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
  • Bali Spirit
  • Bali Expat Forum
  • Nusa Lembongan News
  • I've Been To Bali Too Blog - defunct but still good stuff

  • Education Matters
  • Education 21
  • Performing Monkeys
  • Yayasan Goodwill International

  • Pre-Independence History
  • 1941-1942
  • A Family Tale

  • Del Boy - my multi-talented co-author
  • Hotel Rimbo - a mate
  • Ethos Travel - Son No.1
  • Indo Fair Traders
  • Organic Vanilla
  • Merdeka Coffee
  • Pekerti Nusantara

  • Indonesian Blogs in English
  • Top Blogs
  • Merdeka - aggregator
  • Elyani - good stuff
  • Therry - good stuff
  • Om'Bak - group thoughts
  • Yosef Ardi - business gossip
  • Treespotter - his serious blog
  • Milk Tea Girl - poems and stuff
  • Bitching Babe - another slice
  • Café Salemba - ekonomi +
  • Enda Nasution - The Guv'nor
  • Aroeng Binang - a neighbour
  • Harry Nizam H. - legal practitioner
  • Ethereal Shards - youthful ponderings
  • Muli's Commune - defunct but good links
  • Isman H. Suryaman - not a 'Fool'
  • Rasyad A. Parinduri - ekonomi
  • Tasa Nugraza Barley - returned from the USA
  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
  • Bleu - in Malaysia
  • Anita - in Scotland
  • Maya - in Antibes
  • The Writer - in Denmark
  • Spew-It-All - in Australia
  • Jennie Bev - in SF
  • Rima Fauzi - in Belgium
  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

  • London Blogs
  • Diamond Geezer
  • London Daily Nature Photo
  • London Bloggers Tube Map

  • Other Fave Blogs
  • Aangirfan - who is s/he?
  • Ad Busters - ecological economic sense
  • Samizdata.net
  • Strange Games
  • The J-Walk Blog
  • Environmental Graffiti

  • Charlton
  • Doctor Kish
  • Inspector Sands
  • Forever Charlton
  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
  • Ex-Charlton forward in Belize

  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
  • Blackheath
  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
  • Woolwich Ferry
  • Greenwich Park
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
  • Biscuit of the week
  • 50's British TV Nostalgia
  • Hello Children, Everywhere

  • Enter your Email

    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Locations of visitors to this page


    eXTReMe Tracker

    Listed on BlogShares

    Personal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • May 1998
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • December 2013
  • Creative Commons Licence