I’m banging on that old drum again. Well it is the season around these parts for banging on drums and the din will get louder in the coming week as the annual 12th July celebrations peak. But this drum resonates through the lives of families struck by tragedy.
The unexplained deaths of eight young people in the past month have been attributed to the misuse of drugs, and ecstasy in particular. Local television carried a news item showing ecstasy pills emblasoned with the Rolex logo identified as the suspect. The finger of blame is being pointed at paramilitary organisations in the loyalist redoubts of Sandy Row and East Belfast where seven of the deaths occurred.
The Health Minister confirmed the suspicion in his statement to Stormont, promising action in support of the war on drugs: this from the man who proposed poisoning the water supply with fluoride. Detective Chief Superintendent Roy McComb said the police could not win the war on drugs without the help of local communities. The Chief Constable added a cautionary note on cocktails of prescription drugs and alcohol. But there has been no conclusive evidence as the forensic results are not yet available.
I would ask and advise Mr. Mc Comb and the Minister to pay attention to current thinking throughout the world on the unwinnable war that is the ‘War on Drugs’ This divisive language is selective in ring fencing targeted drugs, and demonising the users, while excluding those that are socially acceptable which can do untold damage to health.
Lots of proscribed drugs are in circulation and consumed as recreational drugs. It is common to catch a whiff of weed or hash among revellers, or a group of smokers. It has become the norm for clubbers to take ecstasy or acid on a weekend. Even Police officers are known to indulge, as has been shown in a recent disciplinary action of a PSNI officer. War, what war? Seems the authorities are way behind in their thinking and approach. There is no excuse as all the information and shades of opinion needed are only a keyboard away. Legalise or decriminalise and lets stop the pretence and, more importantly, the unnecessary deaths.