Reading the Smoke Signals


People around the world do drugs because they like to. In Georgia, people, especially youth, also do drugs because they like to. In the matter of drug use and abuse, myriad questions pop up, some of them perpetually left without answer. For instance, are there ‘good’ drugs like marijuana and ‘bad’ drugs like coke and heroin, or are all of them harmful and debilitating in some way?

Marijuana has lately been the subject of wide discussion in Georgia, the main issue being the its decriminalization and usage liberalization. Marijuana is a dope like any other drug, and dope is dope! How could decriminalization of marijuana help, if it helps at all? If marijuana is a drug, then it is a killer, because drugs kill in general. If marijuana is not a drug, then science should say so and it has to be equated with alcohol and tobacco and legally marketed as any other regular commodity. This will at least cripple the black market that generates huge income at the expense of human lives. Oftentimes, doctors and other specialists thereof qualify marijuana as a mild drug which should be decriminalized, but there is no final competitive medical word that renders marijuana a legally marketable commodity. Until that final word comes, the legalization of any drug will go against the grain in any country. The same here in Georgia: we cannot legalize anything that is not legally a subject of legalization. If we do, we will create a precedent for further legalization of other drugs.

So, drug addiction and distribution have to be punishable offenses. Another question is how punishable. Sending a drug dealer to prison is certainly predictable but sending a drug user to prison would burden the state more. Why should we a give the pleasure of relaxation in a penitentiary to a drug user? This might be too benign a punishment for them. The most optimal penalty would be community service, and the heavier the crime, the harder the labor. Just imagine a solid bunch of drug lovers compelled to clean recreational areas all over Georgia that are strewn with garbage! In a couple of days, the whole territory of the country would be as clean as ever. Plus, imagine the lessons that will be learned!

In liberal democracies like Georgia, where liberalism is gathering even greater momentum, drug addiction is taken much more lightly than it is in autocratic regimes. Nobody needs or wishes to have authoritarian rule back, but a rigorous policy against drug trafficking as well as stronger educational efforts, based on societal vigilance, might tear through the notorious Consumer-Supplier-Protector operative triangle, and do the job that we all need to see done.

Something drastic and effective needs to be done, but it is clear that radicalism in handling such issues of national importance and magnitude is no helper. Some of our youth want to spend a lot of time in dark, smoky clubs where, allegedly, hashish is not a very unbeknown commodity; others of the same generation are uninterested in the night life and abhor drug consumption of any kind. Therefore, the street brawl between those two varying ‘islands’ in our society has become a serious conceptual clash. On top of everything, we cannot let simple marijuana ruin the nation by drugging young people and creating a social conflict possibly conducive to an unexpected catastrophic end.

Is there a way out? Yes and no, but the answer is surely to be found in thoughtful, complex, methodical reasoning over the issue, taking the problem to an optimal legal solution, which is no guarantee anyway that one particular solution, even the wisest one, can suddenly make all of us happy.

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

17 May 2018 21:28