Smoking pot is quite possibly the most popular illegal activity in the world, due no doubt to the fact that governments throughout the globe are almost unanimous in their philosophy that ‘if it feels good, ban it!’
Surveys indicate that about 30% of the Australian population have smoked pot at one time or another. This number would obviously increase to above 50% if it were legally available. So, if a majority of the population would like to smoke it, why, in a democracy is it still illegal? I have often pondered this conundrum. Personally I gave up the stuff long ago. Back in the 70’s (remember them?) we were convinced that legalization was just around the corner, but alas all our dreams went up in a puff of smoke. So here we find ourselves 40 years later and no closer to that dream becoming a reality. The cops are still running around chasing pot growers and pot sellers, despite the fact that the higher echelons of the police force itself feel it is a complete and utter waist of their time and resources.
I think it is fair to say that your average common or garden pot smoker would be a left winger, and for most smokers legalisation is far from the most important issue in their lives, so any left wing party is not going to pick up many extra votes by calling for legalisation. Whereas for those members of the community that oppose drugs, all drugs and every drug, no butts, it is a very emotive issue, a vote changer. There are a significant number of working class people, or ‘working families’ as they are now referred to, who would not vote for a party that otherwise had their best interests at heart, if that party was ‘soft on drugs’.
So the impasse continues ad infinitum.
This analysis can be extrapolated to many other thorny issues that crop up on a perennial basis. Terrorism, boat people, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, killer bees, etc, etc. The core issue of any democracy is surely, who controls the purse strings, the wealthy elite or the rest of us? But somehow the rich have convinced us that other issues are far more important than getting our fair share of our countries abundant riches. The working poor have made a deal with the devil, ‘we will allow you to rule over us, and exploit us and neglect our fundamental wellbeing as long as you keep us safe from drugs, gays, terrorists, hooligans, anarchists, killer bees and every other fear that fills our hearts with dred.
This time-honoured and effective stratagem is called Rule by Fear.
Ben Laycock 2012 www.benlaycock.com.au