Jug Suraiya writes in The Times of India that it was the criminalization of drugs that killed British teenager Scarlett Keeling in Goa, and then puts forth an almost passionate plea to legalize drugs. He bases his arguments on two contentions (or facts). First, that drugs are less of a health hazard than cigarettes or alcohol. Second, that the legal system is spending an inordinate amount of time trying to enforce the drug laws.
As someone who has (thankfully) kept away from all three vices, I cannot throw in a personal angle in analyzing which of the three – booze, smoke or coke – are more injurious. However the sense that I get from whatever I have seen, heard or read is that drugs are more injurious. Suraiya, in his article, writes that there are studies to prove that the other two are deadlier, but does not cite any; therefore, and for a gamut of other reasons, I consider this argument unsound. I think drugs attack the central nervous system, and this is dangerous. Is this not one of the reasons Don Vito Corleone refuses to get into the drug business with Virgil Sollozzo?
To me personally, the argument about which is more injurious is as naive (the i should have two dots) as trying to reason whether a knife driven through one’s heart will be more dangerous than a bullet through the temple.
The second argument is borrowed from libertarians. Because it takes a lot of effort to enforce drug laws, the legal system cannot focus on other issues. So let us legalize drugs. Yeah, right! So if you wanted to put the lawyers out of business, the way to do it is to legalize all crime – drugs, prostitution, murder, theft… Come, let’s go kill a few folks, and then argue that because the legal system is paralyzed by the number of murder trials, it is better to make homicides legal. (If that were to be done, I would take first aim at Jug Suraiya.)
Back in my Infosys days, I was told that whereas solving a problem was important, addressing the root cause of the issue was even more critical. And then there is this argument that says the legal system should cop out before it is choked.
To create some sort of a social assent for this kind of stupidity, Suraiya says:
Though in the Indic tradition, drugs like charas are routinely used by sadhus and tantriks, and bhang is a staple of Holi.
Not a baseless argument; but definitely base. To look at tradition selectively just to seek out the vices of earlier generations goes against common sense. There were so many good habits and actions that the sadhus preached and practised. And to ignore all of that and just to hold on their negatives is foolish.
Suraiya’s arguments from the economic standpoint might be well-founded. But legitimizing substance (ab)use would only lead to more abuse. It is unfortunate that our world is so irretrievable that the best preventive mechanism we have against drugs is not our own sense of right and wrong, but the legal system. And if that barrier is also removed, we might, in the future, look back upon it as the time we let drugs flood our homes. And so, instead of reading about girls like Scarlette in the news, we would have to contend with them at home.
Let my country awake!
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