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TIME TO DECRIMINALISE DRUGS?

Unedited version of column for Scottish Sun on Sunday 9th February 2014

RUSSIAN GAYS- THE HUNTED

Described by Russian society as sick paedophiles the gay community live life in a climate of fear.

The green light to ‘cleanse’ the streets in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics  has been given by ‘hard man’ President Putin who recently passed an anti-gay propaganda law which tries to link homosexuality to child abuse, but in essence criminalises being gay in public.

Vigilantes groups with thousands of members now hunt gays like animals in a ‘safari’;

first they entrap them by inviting victims out on dating websites and then the group will ambush,  abuse, attack, shoot, strip, stab, urinate on gay victims and then go on to post online videos of their sadistic abuse with details of the names and addresses of the victims for millions to watch.

In one case a vigilante who shot a gay man in front of the Police received a suspended sentence for ‘hooliganism’ because in Putin’s Russia there is no such thing as homophobic crime.

Our own PM so proud to display gay friendly credentials on ‘same sex’ marriage opposed calls to boycott the Olympics thinking it better to attend and challenge the prejudice within- I suppose he’s consistent after all that was his view with Apartheid South Africa.

HAVE THE GUTS TO DECRIMINALISE

The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a suspected heroin over dose has seen outpouring of sympathy for a man with everything going for him in life, a career, the love of his peers, three children, an Oscar and millions of dollars.

I’m left wondering why he is pitied as a tortured soul for pumping heroin into his veins, but when addicts described as ‘scum or junkies’ stagger past us we choose to look the other way, watching from afar- the ‘living dead’ never deserving of our pity or pennies.

Politicians quick to shed tears at the death of a young person from drugs continue in their crusade to criminalise addicts, sentencing them to death with zero tolerance policies.

I wouldn’t wish heroin addiction on my worst enemy but stars who dabble in ‘heroin chic’, are immortalised in death whilst ordinary families who lose a child to heroin addiction are never worthy of a mention.

But then they’re not ‘glamorous’ but filthy and disease ridden with nothing to offer us let alone an Oscar nominated film or Grammy winning album.

For those whose retort is ‘good riddance another junkie dead’, I wonder what would they say if a family member had died of alcohol induced liver cirrhosis?

We lost the war on drugs a long time ago, heroin addiction in the United States rose by 102% in the last decade, whilst the UK with an estimated 300,000 addicts is the heroin capital of Europe.

Addiction destroys lives, families and communities but the only parallel I can draw with our stance on heroin is ‘Prohibition’- when the U.S.A banned alcohol from 1920 to 1933.

Crime rose by 24%, addiction rose by 45%, and the Mafia turned cities into battle grounds so that the likes of Al Capone could make millions.

People died from adulterated moonshine as the demand for stronger and more potent alcohol grew and a black market flourished.

In Scottish courts we don’t see the same type of criminality attached to alcohol as Heroin, because it is unadulterated and legally available, whilst making billions in taxes for our Government.

Yet when it comes to heroin, addicts don’t even know what they are buying and the promise of a bigger ‘high’ drives the trade in death.

If we were honest about our war on drugs, we would admit our priority wasn’t saving lives, but about punishing and criminalising addicts and as long as that is the case, drugs will be adulterated, poisoned and addicts will overdose.

We can keep incarcerating but prisons will remain the easiest place to become an addict.

Any political leader with guts would say what they think in private- decriminalise the drugs, treat heroin addiction as a chronic illness not a crime.

If the £15 billion a year spent on losing the war on drugs was spent on homes, rehabilitation, needle exchange, clean heroin, jobs, education and support and training for families of addicts we could win the war, at the moment addicts feel they have nothing to live for other than the next high.

Our politicians need to start putting lives before politics and maybe the next time we ignore that irritating junkie asking us for our change, we should just take a moment to wonder who he or she once was.

GIVE ALEX A SQUARE GO YA BIG FEARTIE?

Always nice to see Cameron PM of the UK invoking the spirit of the union by speaking for it in London, As Salmond would say I don’t know why he’s such a ‘big feartie?’

Why doesn’t he give Alex the square go he wants and may the best man win (Debate!)

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