For more information, read my blog post My Drug Period: lessons learnt from researching War on Drugs & Rat Park
To learn about my personal experiences with drugs, read my short essay Breaking the Silence on Responsible Drug Use.
And @Chris, it’s not true that drugs don’t give positive and fun experiences, they do. What you said shows that you have almost no knowledge of how drugs work. Most of them don’t give you halucinations at all. On another note, all the “happy time” is generated by your brain, even the happy time you get by playing board games with friends, and yeah one can get addicted even to board games if he likes them too much.
I agree very much with this besides one point. You mentioned about drugs giving positive and fun experiences. This is a lie. What you are feeling are hallucinations stimulated by your brain. It gives you the temporary feeling of happiness and that nothing else matters. However, when it’s over, you want to feel it again. This is how an addiction starts. The “happy time” that you feel is fake, created by your mind.
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Nailed it……..govt. has no place in this. The human race will keep on keep’in on, just as it has done for thousands of years. It’s called survival of the fittest, and culling the herd. Wonderful illustrations!! Keep ‘em coming. We need more folks like you!!
I like how you presented the issue. The illustration work is outstanding. I especially like the detail on the typewriter.
The fundamental problem here, is not the war on drugs, nor was it the war on alcohol, nor is it the war on terror, etc. The deepest, most problematic issue of which all of the above (and many more) derive from, is the trust in government to regulate human actions and interactions. Once we stop depending on the government and instead, let society be free to make mistakes, watch what can happen. Excellent comic, by the way.
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Well put into discussion!
Indeed we need maturity. Thank you for providing such a brilliant contrast.
Amazing clarity of thought… A solid argument that pulls no punches. Bravo!
Nice comic, you should accept bitcoin for the tip. I can help you integrate it if you’d like.
While undoubtedly true – one can’t simply gloss over the fact that harder drug addiction does have a physical component, which is harmful no matter how legal the drug.
Really nicely presented comic, great use of the medium!
The intelligent debate can only be had in a rational and educated
” clear thinking ” context. The similarities you draw are very true, and we can look at societies where recreational drug use is legal. But i think you will find those same countries have better education generally, which contributes massively to the sensible use of recreational substances, including alcohol.
The worst stories surrounding drugs and alcohol use seem to be from more ” unequal ” societies.
So i would like to go one step further and submit that it is not even
“prohibition” that is the root, but in fact the socioeconomic condition of millions of peoples lives. That is the wider issue, not everyone who smokes weed becomes and addict, but i reckon if they have a lower socioeconomic position the chances are higher. Not exclusive.
The environment you are raised in plays a massive role in addictive behavior and how value systems are formed, so improving social equality and raising education levels with contribute a great deal more then making laws or prohibitions OR even lifting those prohibitions,…that alone is just not enough.
I’d like to also comment that the grape and the grain, wine and beer, were created to enliven company and go together with food. They make people more interesting.
Where as drugs make people less interesting to be around, so drug culture, even at the recreation level doesn’t really contribute anything to society, so again i think its a social value problem, why are people choosing to sit in a room and smoke bongs, rather then go out to dinner or lunch and have a few drinks?? The difference is one event can be enjoyed openly be many and is a natural element of our social cohesion.
So to conclude, i agree with the criticism of the war on drugs, but i also think legalizing drugs themselves would do cause a lot of trouble initially too, as a poorly educated population has a new legal high to play with. etc.
Simply, end the war on drugs, spend the budget for it on better education and safe outlets of “regulated” substances. Being careful not to promote the legal high and maintain a socially acceptable value towards being drunk, or having a legal high.
If only we weren’t so corrupt to our core, we could be an amazing species (Not all of us are bad, but a small percentage are, and they’re in power)
Wonderful comic – very beautifully illustrated in clear, understandable, and well-researched terms, with an appropriate sense of fairness to both sides of the argument. Well done!
END THE WAR ON DRUGS!
OH MY GOD, THAT IS SO TRUE AND WHAT A COMIC AWESOME MAN! AWESOME
if you think about it, you could say the same regarding food and medication. Where does it come from? Where has it been made? Why is it necessary this way (maybe sometimes it is, but not on the grand scale we see today, or not for as long as it is taking now)? Even if a company prints their name on the package and it’s got all the legal documents to bring it on a market, can we really trust it? Should we trust something within a package made by people/robots?
I have a question about Friedman finding the use of these laws ‘well-intentioned’, and it is, are any man-made laws well-intentioned or made to prolong a man-made order (system) in existence? Because, what if that system is keeping the rich rich and the poor poor…?
I don’t even know if I’m asking them right or if I know enough, maybe someone out there could help…
Great comic. Here’s an animation I made in 2010 saying much the same thing.
excellently done, it is sad to think of all the money that has been wasted on this war. if drugs had been legal for the last 50 years the pharmacists in the industry would have made them super safe by now – 50 years is a long time to research ways to mitigate the negative side effects.
Fabulous summary Stuart! Sally, Legalization vs Criminalization is a faulty argument. How about Criminalization vs De-Criminalization? See Portugal’s decades long effort to offer Help vs Cages… Wonderful, life affirming alternatives exist that need no new resources if we are ready to treat our fellow humans with dignity and respect! Such discussions for positive change, as Stuart says, are long overdue!
Loved this and Rat Park a lot. Bought multiple copies so you could have $10.
Brilliant comic! And I agree with the major point you’re trying to make.
However, I would also like to point out that many legalized medical drugs, which are regulated by law in terms of both manufacturing and distribution, are also being abused. And there are drug addicts who SOLELY use prescription drugs. It may be less like to find prescription drug addicts on the street (for the reasons outlined in the comic), but these people are still much more likely to be dysfuntional and require help.
I think that legalization of all drugs would definitely remove power from crime organizations. However, I do not think it would solve the problem of drug abuse.
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but I dislike Milton Friedman as protagonist
Thanks, real good stuff, I’ll put a link somewhere in my network ( BTW I came to this comic because somebody distributed your work about 1984/BraveNewWorld which is excellent too)
Omg, that work is from him too? That was amazing too.,
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There are some nice ideas in there, but it gets a little sentimental at times.
The comic begins to advocate drug use, instead of simply promoting the removal of prohibition, and doesn’t appear to be sympathetic to the adverse effects that can be caused by drug usage.
I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but really I’m not sure if pulling the “drugs are amazing and wonderful, kids!” thing is really going to benefit the cause.
While I agree, nothing infuriates me more is a stoner who think only weed should be legal because it’s harmless, I think the author was trying to illustrate use is not abuse. A lot of anti-drug campaigns try to frame drug use as abuse.
As a social worker at the pointy end of drug use .. I hope that in my lifetime the knuckleheads in power will get it … with much so evidence about the benefits of decriminalisation I am saddened by the ignorance of policy makers in Australia who refuse to even enter the conversation with a rational argument… thanks for the amazingly accurate portrayal… much love & respect
Most excellent analysis of the War on Drugs. I will post a link on both Facebook and my “regular” web site http://webstation19.8k.com.
Sadly I think most who read it will be those who already know the facts (the old problem of preaching to the choir)
I also like the two dollar notion (see http://webstation19.8k.com/2dollar.htm)
Peace freedom and Tolerance
Good on you. you should do more.along the same lines.
I am a full-time medical cannabis activist and patient advocate. I really enjoyed your work and have shared it several places. Respect!
Mr. Sturart Sir,
you opened my eyes in the most beautiful and subtle way
i left school for 4 years not fully understanding my drive toward the decision , when i read your comic the 2009 “Challenged” and it hit me the whole challenge trip and since then i am pacing toward what challenges me.
beside the amazing music you introduced me too i can’t stop listening to “Pink frost”:)
thank you again and cheers from Egypt Cairo and long live the internet.
Is there a way to translate this amazing comic into Spanish so Spanish-speakers can understand in such an easy and creative way the effects of the war on drugs?
I would say it is very important for our countries to get the message for we’re the most affected by this dumb war yet the least informed.
Is there’s a way to do it without infringing anyone’s intellectual property rights, let me know and I’ll find the time to do so.
Thanks and kudos!
Can’t you translate it and send the author the translations so he can make the comic?
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Alexander. Most “hard” drugs have only been made illegal since WW2. In any case, the pharmaceuticals (LSD, Ice, Meth, Speed, Ecstacy) didnt really exist before the War. So that destroys that argument.
In countries that have traditionally banned alcohol, smoking Hashish is, or has until quite recently was, legal. Contrary to the myth, there are many high functioning people who use Heroin and Cocaine. Drugs and Alcohol have hardful side effects and sensible moderation is recommended. But Prohibition doesn’t work on either alcohol or drugs.
brilliant very clear and comprehensive and disentangled from evaluation just the facts ma’am
Arguments well played.
The cartoons are brilliant, but I have to disagree with the comparison between Prohibition and Drug Legalization. The two are very different. Prohibition was introduced when alcohol was legal, whereas other drugs have been illegal for centuries. This is a very important distinction. Whereas during prohibition society at large thought alcohol was socially acceptable (as it had existed in American culture for such a long time), this is not the case with drugs. Most people today view drugs as socially transgressive, attributable both to cultural attitudes (associated with their deleterious effects) and their illegality. Bear in mind that drug illegality serves as a deterrent in itself:
1) Drug illegality serves as a deterrent to society at large, as it signals to people that the government will not endorse drug use because of their harmful effects.
2) If you endorse and make drugs legal, they will become more socially acceptable. Individuals will not feel as much shame about taking them, so drug use will increase.
3) An increase in drug use will inevitably lead to higher rates of addiction, crime, unemployment, and poverty. As is the nature of highly addictive, mind altering substances that remove a person’s abilities of judgement and self-control.
4) Illegality = drugs less widely available, less socially acceptable, with more pressure on addicts to seek treatment. Legality=drugs more widely available, more socially acceptable, less pressure on addicts to seek treatment.
Drug Illegal= Expensive law enforcement, potential for corruption and mismanagement of treatment, but overall less drug use.
Drugs Legal= Massively icreased drug use, disastrous socio-economic consequences, more lives ruined.
Ultimately, the question of whether drugs should remain illegal can be answered with another simple question. Would people be more likely to take drugs if they were commercially available, and would this lead to increased rates of addiction? Unless you have godly faith in humans abilities of self-control and prudence, the answer is a definitive yes.
The answer is far from a definitive yes. In fact, one might argue it is a definite no.
Alcohol is freely accessible and there are so much more people in the world who can handle alcohol responsibly than there are those who abuse it.
Keeping something away from people either by law or any other means makes the stuff more exiting and desirable. Not to mention all the complications you get from forcing it into illegality.
To remove the taboo is to remove a large part of the attraction. To make something ‘mundain’.
What will happen when you legalize drugs is the same as what happened with the removal of prohibition; it will lead to a decline in users and a decline in negative effects such as mis-use, crime and questionable quality and a rise in responsible use and moderation.
Drugs are a doorway to a world of beauty, creativity and inner peace which of course needs to be regulated in some way by government, just as there are rules on how to drive a car, or ride a bicycle.
But the main thing I take away from this comic, this discourse in general is that the way government has chosen to position themselves regarding drugs is exactly what is causing all the mess today. They’re doing it exactly wrong and that is kind of hilarious if it wasn’t so incredibly sad…
Alexander, your argument is flawed from the outset. Drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines and cocaine were all freely available in the US in the 20th century. The rest of your comments are for the most part equally absurd. How can you possibly argue that drug legalisation will result in an increase in crime? Generally speaking, significant crime relates to drugs’ illegality (cartels, gang wars etc) and exhorbitant price (property crime, muggings etc). If both were gone, how does crime increase? You’re not a legislator I hope?
There are always going to be drugs and there will always be people who will use them. Having punishment and zero tolerance is unrealistic and in the long run irresponsible.
As Blind Freddy can see, prohibition has only worsened the situation.
Take away the hysteria and misinformation and educate the public about drugs and allow the individual to decide if they want to partake based on the factual pros and cons, just as people do now with alcohol.
If you’re going to take a drug and abuse it by taking it too much, too often and in in too strong a dose, it will bite you back, so don’t blame the drug, be responsible and use it wisely.
Fantastically well put. There needs to be more honestly about chemicals. There could have been so many lives saved if we’d only have been told the truth.
I’ll admit, i have mixed feelings about legalization of drugs, but i did enjoy the comic, and i do agree that instead of having a zero tolerance policy, it would be nice to see people approach the issue with a neutral attitude and an open mind. I think that a lot of the reasons we are so quick to lock someone up for using drugs is revenue. The state and private contractors make ungodly amounts of money off of the prison system. I have a friend in state prison, doing 2 years for drug charges and violating probation (caught smoking pot in her home) and was denied by the judge any sort of program or assistance to help her. Instead we’re spending over $30,000 per year to lock her up, and when she gets out, like so many others, she will probably go back to smoking pot. As i said earlier, i’m not endorsing or condeming the drugs, but i thing that if our system was set up differently, people who did want to quit would be better able to do so. Locking up someone away from thier 7 year old daughter for a non-violent crime doesn’t seem right. People who commit violent crimes, such as rape murder, etc can actually get less time than drug users. Anyways, my two cents. Oh and incidentally, i do drink from time to time, and i’ll admit, there’s a good chance i still would even if it was illegal. I hope we get more people that are willing to discuss this like rational adults, not holding to one extreme or the other. Thank you.
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This should be read by absolutely everyone.
great insight. I have a new perspective on drug laws now Stuart. Brilliant artwork throughout.
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Absolutely awesome. Well summed up, informative and easy to digest.
Great! Nice characters
This is great work! You explained this idea very effectively! I’m loving it!
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great work, keep it up!
BTW agreeing with Milton Friedman is tough for me, but your comics helped me find a tiny bit of appreciation for the neo-liberal bastard lol
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Excellent. Did you mention the 2 + million people in prison, with the great majority in for trumped up “drug laws”. I had a friend in jail and he said ,where he was, …That 80% were black men on drug charges and the average age was 25(guess). This a huge crime and a deplorable way to run a country. PS I’m a gifted and creative Video Producer/Editor. Bill
I’m an economist, and I am sharing this with my students.
Loved your comic. I would love to see this done for bitcoin. see howtobitcoin.info if you dont know what bitcoin is. Let me know if I can help.
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Good job exposing the truth about drugs. I like that you called it “Rat Park”. That’s my favorite science experiment.
truly excellent work, well done
Drugs should be a medical issue and not a War. I see a day when there will no longer be two types of Canadians. Then and only then will we All be truly free and not just those YOU wish to be free. Legalize, Quality Control, Tax it. Stop the witch hunts, ex: making a fire in the apt. below mine, then the fireman whom tell the cops about a couple of plants in my Bedroom closer, then the detectives who go through ever part of my life. The only place they didn’t check, yet, were the rings around Uranus.
Many countries like Portugal are already reaping the benefits of decriminalization. Drug use is a symptom of disenfranchised society. Drug laws are a symptom of heavy-handed authoritarianism.
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yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa i want legal speed niggggaaaaaaaaaaaa
weed and psychodelics are for lazy pussies
You’re enforcing your own negative stereotype – the very same stereotype that keeps drugs illegal. You realize that, right?
Stuart, that comic was so honest, and eloquently written. and you make a good point which so many people have failed to recognise, which is separating the social effects of drug criminalization, from what the drugs actually do. It’s time to stop this madness, our society enforcing rigid emotionally charged dogma on our natural inclination to experience altered states of consciousness, it’s time to have a rational, honest discussion on how drug prohibition is negatively affecting our society, and making criminals out of people who choose to use them.
First, I want to say thank you for such a beautiful point. I have never lived during a time where drugs were legal. I’ve been around the block by now. I’ve dropped acid, rolled on X, the whole deal. Was it fun and mind opening? Sure was. Now I spend my days as a manager for a big retail cooperation and my nights smoking pot – oh, and I’m a published author. Im a fully fuctioning, successful, happy American man. I’m also a criminal. If I’m ever caught with WEED, a drug that i recreationally use in my own house, without hurting anyone, without causing problems, I’ll lose everything I’ve ever worked for. I can kiss my future goodbye because the logging companies would rather destroy the world to make money than allow hemp to be used as a cost effective alternative to paper, rope, clothing, bedsheets.. There’s not a day that goes by that I dont fear and hate the lies made into laws regarding drug control. You can overdose on alcohol. Anyone know the dosage limit on marijuana? There isn’t one. Oh, what about acid? How many deaths do you think we’re actually avoiding by deeming it illegal? You dont overdose on LSD. You dont jump off roofs thinking you can fly (that’s called Darwinism). You sit on your butt in a warm living room with friends and laugh your ass off at nothing. The next day, you go back to work.
Thank you for this incredible comic.
Everyone, you owe yourselves a favor. Smoke a joint. Roll on X. Drop acid. Go look up the negative health risks from doing any of those just once (you’ll be looking forever. They dont exist. All you need is a little self control and a friend to join you.)
Great work! I really liked the scroll feature.
Stuart, the link to ‘Buy PDF’ is missing from this comic (War On Drugs).
Everyone else, remember to support this guys next project “Rat Park”. Based on his other items I believe that it will be a welcome addition and perspective to the conversation about drugs and addiction.
effing ineffably brilliant. Respect and love: a work of beauty and genius – Dr Nuke, the Pseudo-Imposter (AnonyNot)
Wonderful, pretending legalising alcohol stopped it killing people or causing crime. Of course, you don’t need to let facts ruin a good internet meme, but:
1) 36% of violent crimes in the US are committed while the perpetrator has consumed alcohol. Department of Justice, ’06
2) Alcohol is the world’s most harmful substance in terms of burden of disease: it accounted for 3.6% of all deaths worldwide in 2009, and 4.6% of disability adjusted life years. It eats up around 1% of global GDP. WHO, plus The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9682, Pages 2223 – 2233, 27 June 2009 .
Super good point, Saul. I’m actually strongly in line with you on that sentiment. As the son of a criminal defense lawyer, however, I can promise you that our draconian drug laws do nothing but exascerbate the problem. Seriously, the amount of poor, ignorant and hopeless people that we throw into our prisons for no crime but possession is abhorrant. If we took a more educated view on drug addiction (including alcohol) and started treating users as humans instead of meat for the grinder, I think we’d do wonders for our society (and national budget, btw).
Saul, you may be missing the point here. If alcohol were illegal now, would those statistics really change that much? And if so, would they go down, or would they go up? And how many additional deaths would result from the alcoholics who would then be considered outcasts?
My uncle died from alcohol abuse. I would hate to imagine the kinds of people he would have had to deal with to get his alcohol if it were illegal. He would have likely died much sooner from the crime activity involved with people who deal in black market substances, rather than dying of the actual alcohol consumption. And in addition to his own well-being, his family would be put in danger.
If alcohol were illegal, my loving uncle would have been an outcast. He would be looked down upon and shunned for being addicted to a taboo, and instead of looking at him as the amazing artist and builder that he was, they would only see the alcoholism the lead to his death.
The people who commit violent crimes under the influence of alcohol are likely to be susceptible to violence anyway. Legalizing alcohol would mean that those people remain who they are, and the people like my uncle and his family wouldn’t have to live in fear of, or have to have anything to do with, the violent people.
I have never before done any “recreational” drugs, nor do I condone their use. But I do condone open-mindedness and the removal of personal bias when voicing one’s opinion.
Saul – thanks for providing another great argument for legal regulation of drugs – we have to find alternatives for people’s natural desires for drug intoxication – when most only have access to alcohol and pharma-meds
Cool! Try to sign the petition to vote 3rd party: change.org/petitions/people-of-the-united-states-of-america-vote-for-a-third-party-candidate-2
Would love a comic of this in print. Or great as a poster.
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Great stuff! Would the comic be available for print?
I loved it ! Very concise and thorough laying out of the basic tenets in support of legalization. I’ll be sharing this for sure.
Truth must be told and this is an excellent manner of telling our American truth. Please continue with all the energy and speed you can muster. Our country is decline for this idiotic concept and the refusal to enact immigration law.
We leave our children a veritable mess, cluster-fucked by ignorance.
You see, the problem I have with people using drugs is how they waste their time doing it in high school.
Fantastic approach brother, just keep spreading the love
Flattr.com !! I want to flattr you.
I´ve almost cried man!
greetings from brasil
typical, the kind of facile argument that can only come of a brain that’s been fried by dangerous psychedelics.Just Say No.
You said it chuzz, reason and creativity are obviously consequences of “a brain that’s been fried by dangerous psychedelics”.
Typical, the kind of retarded use of prefabricated phrase used by an ignorant twat
@chuzz is this a serious reply? If it is then I’m terribly sorry for the kind of close minded household that you were raised in and probably participate in today.
Love it, made the arguments easier to understand. Keep em coming, well done
Will your Rat Park comic be based on the work of Bruce Alexander? Also I love your work and am eager for more. What a great way of educating people. You rock dude.
That was awesome totally inspiring !
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Great work Stuart. You’ve made an important argument very accessible. The war on drugs doesn’t make sense, and you’ve shown its consequences well.Interesting the parallels between the move from beer to spirits under alcohol prohibition and the tendency for the illegal drug trade to produce stronger drugs. Good luck. Ruaidhri, Dublin
nice one stuart…..
Great work – hop to see more in future. Posting a link to this – hope funding comes through.
Terrific, well done. Great how well a cartoon as good as this one works, conveys the message really well.
I just gotta say, I love it ! ..and thank you so much for giving others a new point of view on this type of subject… also thank you for putting time & creativity into it, this is great in so many ways!!
I don’t use drugs nor do I advocate their use, but I think this comic is very brave and makes more sense than other legalization arguments. Well done, and fight the good fight.
Nice comic. But please avoid re-implementing horizontal scrolling, or better yet make it a vertical comic! Seriously, it’s painful to read right now.
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well done mate!
Hemp Hemp Hooray!
Great piece, we need to start legalising and regulating.
The argument is a bit simplistic. I’m hooked on toast and jam and I wish someone would make that illegal.
Stuart, this comic is fantastic! It is well drawn and very easy to understand with exceptional factual evidence about drugs and the history of drugs.
I commend you on this work and effort and I hope you can keep continue to make these.
Nice video Stuart – and yes, your comics are very much worth investing in… I’ll certainly chip in! You could also look into getting sponsorship from business (heaven forbid! ;-)), NGOs etc…
I thought that the comic on the war on drugs was very informational and easy to understand. I have researched the subject before but the story and facts that you provided is very effective in educating many different types of people who all bring different perspectives on the war on drugs. personally I agree that the war on drugs was a bad idea to begin with and I hope to see it end soon. I think that Texas Senator and former american presidential nominee Ron Paul has some great ideas about stopping the war on drugs. However when I try to tell my friends, family and colleagues that I believe drugs should be legalized I get some extremely strange looks but hopefully by doing my research and investigating the war on drugs more I can better explain to them why I believe that drugs should be legal.
I’m so fed up with having to deal with kids half my age trying to rip me off! Sensible laws for sensible people please, and a growth (excuse the pun) industry during recession!
the horizontal format didnt work well, i would rather scroll vertically with the mouse instead of having to click each button to scroll and unpredictable amount
the comic itself is alright, the message appears to be truth. i am not a fan of the art style.
Ode to our Canadian Cannabis Flag
Written for Jodie Emery
Be proud of this flag, for its red, white, and true.
I show respect and love by flying it for you.
The red marijuana leaf on white with red bars,
Honors our forefathers, who look down from the stars!
The people who lived here before corrupt men came
Used the power of pot; the plant had earned fame.
The sweet smoke was used for pleasure and life.
Our eleven fingered leaf honors life without strife.
Red bars represent sea to shining sea,
For all in between, who aspire to be free!
Marc Emery and his BC3 did what was right!
Canadian Cannabis Culture lovers put up a fight!
When you see our flag, stand up so tall.
Lies will die off but truth will not fall.
Love and awe, Lora B
Good painted Comic. Thanks from Switzerland. We also have this bad law, cause of the Nixon-Law. USA fight everywhere on “War on Drugs”. Also in my country. If USA would change, World would change.
nice work. thanks. it would make sense also to show: Why Nixon wanted in 1971 the “War on drugs”? The reason was, Nixon wanted to dissolve the Hippies by define LSD and Cannabis as an illegal thing. With this law, Nixon could criminalize the opposition, the Hippies and so it was easier for Nixon to hold the Vietnam-War.
Anyway nice work, cool painted, many thanks from Switzerland (and sorry my bad English). I will prepare now a Joint and have pleasure. Shit on the law, I have my own law.
Brilliant, very well done!
I am author of “World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization” http://www.world-war-d.com/ and would like to get in touch with you to see how we can work together. “World War-D” is quite academic with 448 pages and 500+ footnotes, but I am working on a lighter version for the general public, more visual and less cerebral. I think your contribution there would be brilliant.
One point that the prohibitionist propaganda has totally wipped out: Contrary to popular belief – or conventional wisdom – for all psychoactive substances (except psychedelics that have no addictivity), only 10 to 20% of users will become abusers or addicts. The % is lowest for cannabis (6 to 8% depending on who you believe)and highest for heroin and tobacco. Sigmund Freud easily gave up his cocaine habit but could never give up smoking (which eventually killed him). Cocaine is in par with alcohol at around 10%. Prohibition pushes users towards abuse and addiction instead of preventing it, and encourages binge use.
You make several interesting points in this work, nicely done. The debate you talk about is very similar to the debate in the Netherlands (where I live) these days. Some people, especially on the right wing, are taking a tough stance on marihuana, which is semi-legal in Holland.
Here, you are allowed to grow marihuana in small volumes for private consumption, but it’s not legal to sell it. Only official retailers (coffeeshops) can sell weed legally. There aren’t a whole lot of problems related to weed here. It’s not cool or exciting to buy it, because anyone can buy it. As a Dutch teenager, you don’t impress your friends by buying or using it.
I think the points you make also apply to things like prostitution. It is a frequent observation that illegal prostitution leads to more and more brutal exploitation and trafficking of women working in this sector. Again in Holland, prostitution is legal, which attracts a lot of foreign criticism. However, most people here feel it’s the best solution: the demand for the service is there, and it’s best to regulate the supply in the best and most humane way. No point in turning prostitutes into criminals, i.m.o..
Hey man, I just had a look at your work for the first time and I really like it. Kudos on what you do! I work at a youth-led, Mexico-based NGO that works on the topic and we would love to translate your drug policy piece into Spanish and perhaps even print some editions in said language. If this is something that interests you, please drop me a line and we can take it from there.
Awesome..you made some great points all with which I agree. Not sure where I stand with legalisation!! But deffo should decriminalise and stop labelling users as criminals and street level dealers as ‘evil dealers who prey on children’. I actually cannot believe the government pass up the chance of earning more money and extra opportunity for corruption!!
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Oh my goodness. When your business card said ‘all things’ I never imagined this was one of them.
Hopefully this is the first step toward more progressive and truth based education. Much better than: drugs are bad, mkay.
Great comic and I loved your pitch for Rat Park, Stuart. Looking forward to seeing how it comes together!
AND…lets unpack the reasons people feel the need to take drugs… habitually, after experimentation, the reasons why there exists the alcoholic culture we live in… I agree, prohibition is not the answer, but neither is a more than marginal percentage of people ‘on’ drugs (including alcohol) good for society as a whole… why do people turn to drugs? Why do people anaesthatise themselves to their reality on a frequent basis? And the really frighteningly addictive nature of the ‘harder’ (i.e. more addictive) drugs really needs to be seriously thought about before being decriminalised… not saying they shouldn’t – I understand the arguments against, but these are hardcore addictive substances!!! Its a tough question, but if you are going to decriminalise, let alone legalise, it should be coupled with early, ongoing childhood education to educate kids before they become teenagers on the issues surrounding drugs. (IMO) People need to be educated about the negative affects of drugs – like the increase risk of schizophrenia and lowered IQ for ongoing pot use etc…
Sam, not all illegal drugs are hardcore addictive substances – Cannabis isn’t (psychological addiction is a fishy term that can apply to almost anything enjoyable and really only means lack of personal control and responsibility) , psychedelics aren’t. MANY use cannabis as a legitimate therapeutic substance whether it be for pain, anxiety, sleep, appetite or to relax! There’s NOTHING wrong with wanting to relax on a substance. Even psilocybin mushrooms have been shown to cure cluster headaches which are so bad that they cause suicide in some. Legalising drugs would take the rebellious aspect away for teenagers. And as for your argument about ‘being careful’ with decriminalisation let alone legalisation, I don’t think you’ve read this cartoon carefully enough. NO money would be spent on busting people for drugs. The money made by selling them could be put back into the healthcare system. Those who use them wouldn’t be stigmatised, drugs would be cheaper and they wouldn’t need to steal and live on the streets.
You still have the issue of people trying to escape the reality of their everyday lives, using drugs as a psychological/social crutch… you say there’s nothing wrong with wanting to relax on a substance… I say there are other ways to relax and de-stress, which don’t harm your body, or society. As for psychological addiction – what does it matter what sort of addiction it is? Psychological or physical/chemical, it’s still addiction, with potentially negative consequences for that individual (and lets not forget there that some people are more prone -genetically- to addiction). My problem with the habitual drug users out there is that drugs are used as an escape from their emotions/problems etc but taking drugs doesn’t fix anything -it wastes time and detracts from your ability (unless perhaps they’re psychedelics being used for spiritual insight) to do anything to improve your reality… anyway, just my opinion…
Thank you for noting the difference between most drugs and psychedelic drugs. There is a world of difference that most people don’t see or understand.
Sam, it’s true that some people use illegal drugs to escape their problems. What makes your argument a fairly weak one is that people do many other things to escape their problems as well. Alcohol is a popular example. It can be addictive and drunk people do stupid and dangerous things everyday that harm society. A few months ago, in fact, a drunk driver hit my 14 year old brother and broke both of his legs. Coffee (and caffeine in general) is addictive. So are cigarettes, sugar, and sleeping pills among many other legal things. Addiction to all of these things could have negative consequences that impose costs on society. There may be other ways to relax besides smoking cannabis, but the fact of the matter is that smoking cannabis a very pleasurable way to do so. And the studies regarding how dangerous cannabis is are largely inconclusive for various reasons. Finally, psychedelic drugs aren’t always about attempting to escape reality. These drugs also offer a different way to perceive reality. Changing your perception of the world isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be enlightening. Your concerns seem to stem largely from the dangers of addition in general. That’s something that can be cured through group therapy sessions and the like (i.e. AA). Not through criminalization.
Congratulations on your prohibition comic. We live in an era dominated by the view that the free market is the least worst way to resolve policy. Yet the strongest advocates for the free market are often the very same people supporting the notion that we should live in a drug free world. We need more people using different forms of expression to help establish a post prohibition world. Best wishes. Alex Wodak AM
So clear and logical – which makes it even more frustrating that it is an actively oppressed argument. The taboo society gives to drug use is only damaging to the normal people who are users. A real distinction needs to be made in the law for what is actually criminal (which is still undoubtedly a lot in the drug world), and what is just someone having personal safe enjoyment
Awesome! I’ve been having dicussions with more than one ex girlfriend, non of them seem to understand. Only the “bad” issues are known, not the good stuff.
Prohibition is evil, end prohibition for a safer future!
Excellent graphics and text. Entertaining as well as informative. Brilliant use of Milton Friedman’s seminal argument.
I love it! So true and wise. Prohibition is quite immoral.
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