Pubdate: Wed, 20 Apr 2016
Source: Star, The (South Africa)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers 2016


THE FIGHT to free societies around the world from the burden of 
illegal drug dealing is a contradiction in terms: a war against the 
drug dealers, but also a campaign of care for those in the thrall of addiction.

But it's clear that the United Nations and governments around the 
world have run out of ideas as the international illegal drug trade 
continues to grow, despite the so-called war on drugs which the 
global body has championed for at least two decades. And so we 
commend the UN for convening a special session this week to try to 
examine what has gone wrong with its grand plans, why and what to do 
next with what is an ever-ballooning crisis.

At its heart, this session appears to be about drug users, not 
dealers, with the question being whether they should be punished or 
rehabilitated. South Africa must not sit on the sidelines on this. 
Our problems with dealing are enormous and likely out of control.

It's all very well to demonise drugs, but by doing that we push them 
further underground and inadvertently hike the market value for 
contraband, for which some addicts will pay any price. While we could 
never condone a laissez faire approach, the reality is that illegal 
drugs are a bigger industry than the legitimate pharmacological 
industry, and, as we've seen particularly in the Western Cape, this 
can result in a never-ending spiral of violence.

We have a particularly urgent concern to find another way forward to 
stem the illegal drug trade. Whoonga, nyaope, tik and other noxious 
fixes are helping to bring our young people to their knees. We need 
only look at the frightening picture which Statistician-General Pali 
Lehohla painted this week of a largely doomed Born Free generation to 
see that much more needs to be done.

Perhaps instead of allowing especially young drug addicts to occupy 
the lowest rung in our societal ladder, we need to offer them our 
unqualified support in order to craft a different outcome for us as a 
nation. Let's hope the UN's efforts this week help us to do that.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom