LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
I enjoyed reading Chow Chung-Yan's informative article on the medical and recreational use of marijuana worldwide (On a High, This week in Asia, April 23-29, 2017).
He notes Ronald Reagan's crusade against marijuana which led to the "war on drugs", arguably the most socially destructive policy of the 20th century.
"Marijuana was listed together with heroin and cocaine as the most dangerous drugs -- even though there was no evidence suggesting that its effect could be anywhere as hazardous as the other two.
To this day, there is no single proven case of death caused by marijuana overdose. The drug dependency rate of marijuana is low. Only 9 per cent of marijuana users will develop withdrawal syndromes after they quit, on par with caffeine."
And yet the U.S. "War on Drugs" continues and we slavishly follow it here in Hong Kong. For example, our police recently arrested two people with five marijuana plants.(Couple arrested over Discovery Bay cannabis farm, Trending, March 4).
I recently attended the 50th anniversary of my high school Class of '67 in Australia. Every one of we now elderly men had experimented with smoking pot in the nineteen sixties. By our 50th reunion we had become husbands, fathers, grandfathers. We had been (some still were) farmers, teachers, headmasters, lawyers, doctors, diplomats, businessmen, novelists and artists. None of us smoked tobacco anymore and none of us took marijuana. And none of us was any worse for our experimentations 50 years ago.
Imagine instead if the police 50 years ago had arrested us. We would have been jailed and imprisoned. The cost to the state would have been enormous. The cost to each one of us enormous: ruined lives with no hope of professional careers. All for a drug now recognised as medically beneficial, nowhere near as hazardous as cocaine and heroin, and with no proven death caused by its consumption.
Chow's insightful article attests to the need for our laws to change before more lives, more police time and more money are wasted.