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SOCIETY ENGLISH As a reminder, the global market value of illicit drugs is estimated at $ 500 billion. If you are really curious about where this money ends up, have a browse through the topics menu of the UN Office On Drugs and Crime: arms smuggling, terrorism, human trafficking, poaching, cybercrime, corruption and so on. It doesn‘t take much imagination to build a direct connection between the line of coke you snort and forced prostitution of minors. HELPING DRUGS USERS IS TRICKY Advice and contact points for drug users and addicts face a particular dilemma. Most drug prevention professionals know that people don’t stop using drugs by simply telling them: ”Don‘t use drugs because they‘re illegal and unhealthy“. The task is rather to convey consumption strategies and to limit individual damage in the event of drug abuse, for example in the form of safer use. Anyone who has ever been confronted with a destructive dependency in a friend or family member knows that defending public morale will not get you anywhere. Currently, any form of drug counselling and education inevitably takes place in the context of crime. So the question is how effective this work really can be. And how much positive potential goes to waste through criminalization and social ostracism of certain substances. 6 FLIES DEAD AFTER 30 MINUTES In 1952, the chemist Albert van Schoor investigated the amphetamine MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. He carried out toxicological experiments with flies and noted: ”After 30 minutes, 6 flies dead“. A scientific publication did not follow up on his observation. If you look around long enough, however, you will find numerous study-based writings that prove the harmfulness of MDMA and the like. Regular and excessive consumption of amphetamines attacks brain tissue. Improper use can lead to hyperthermia (overheating), which can be fatal. Cocaine consumption can have massive physical and psychological consequences, lead to immune deficiency, severe weight loss and damage to blood vessels, liver, heart and kidneys. Heroin poisoning can cause unconsciousness, breathing problems and circulatory 58 CHECK NRW #2 failure due to the slowing of the heart. If you fall unconscious while on heroin, your reflexes are switched off, which is why there is a risk of choking on vomit. Much is being said about the dangers of illegal drugs. So why are people willing to accept those? LEGAL VS. ILLEGAL Expansion of consciousness, talking to God, finding inner peace, just getting high, enhancing sexual experiences, numbing instant pain. The list of reasons why drugs appear in almost every culture in the world is long. They even play a role in western church culture. Frankincense, for example, contains the active ingredient Incensole. It has a similar effect on wild mice as antidepressants and anxiolytics. In the resin of the frankincense species Boswellia papyrifera, Incensol and its acetate can even make up a total content of up to 10% and more. That‘s pretty potent. Millions of Christians regularly leave Sunday mass sedated through frankincense, which is then called pious. And millions of stoners are afraid of being caught intoxicated by the police. Because that‘s called criminal. But joking aside: a non-scientifically-based drug policy harbors very real dangers: for our health as well as for our society. DRUG-CHECKING The body of a sixteen-year-old ballerina reacts differently to an ecstasy pill than the body of a forty-year-old sumo wrestler. Nevertheless, both of them buy a pill from a dealer in a club that evening and take it. Have they consulted Foto: Max

SOCIETY their doctors beforehand? Hardly likely. Are both taking a risk that could seriously endanger their health? Certainly. As the chance that so-called drug checking will be offered on site in the club is pretty slim. With drug checking, illegally acquired substances can be checked for their ingredients before consumption. The first offer for this was set up in the Netherlands more than 25 years ago. It is now officially offered in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France and other countries. The psychiatrist Dr. med. Felix Betzler, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Charité in Berlin, told the Deutsches Ärzteblatt: “From a medical point of view, drug checking makes perfect sense because we know that consumption is taking place anyway. Our interest in the sense of harm reduction is of course that the consumers know as much as possible about the risks.” SAFETY FIRST! At the global level, a movement has made itself heard in recent years that makes very specific demands. The Global Commission on Drug Policy was founded in January 2011 by a group of personalities from America and Europe. The organization calls for a new global drug policy that is based on scientific knowledge and takes compassion, health and human rights into account. FIVE PRACTICAL APPROACHES TO SCIENCE-BASED DRUG POLICY RECOMMENDED BY THE GLOBAL COMMISSION ON DRUG POLICY: 1. People‘s HEALTH AND SAFETY must be a top priority. 2. CONTROLLED ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL MEDICINE must be guaranteed, especially painkillers in palliative medicine. 3. The CRIMINALIZATION AND IMPRISONMENT of people who use drugs should end. It does not change the prisoner‘s drug problem and destroys lives all over the world. 4. A RETHINK IN DEALING WITH THE PROSE- CUTION of drug smugglers and organized crime must take place. The energy put into prosecuting and punishing consumers should be used to bring down powerful and well-connected criminal organizations. 5. The DRUG MARKETS should be REGU- LATED and control should be given to governments. Governments should take responsibility for ensuring that potentially dangerous drugs are distributed to users in a controlled manner instead of leaving drug trafficking to organized criminal groups. CULTURAL PHENOMENON In addition, the Global Commission on Drug Policy suggests that psychoactive substances should be classified based on their addiction potential and other effects on the body. To this day, this has not been the case: some substances are legally available because they are considered useful (medication) or culturally important (alcohol), while others are considered destructive and are strictly prohibited. This rather arbitrary distinction is more radically as well as humourously put by activist and founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, Dr. phil. Ethan Nadelmann: “IF OLD WHITE MEN EXPERIMENTED WITH COCAINE AND TEENAGERS REGULARLY WITH VIAGRA, THEN COKE WOULD ALREADY BE AVAILABLE ON PRESCRIPTION.” PORTUGAL AS A GOOD EXAMPLE? In July 2001 Portugal passed a law decriminalizing the possession of drugs, whether cannabis, ecstasy or heroin. Since then, possession is no longer a criminal offense, but rather just an administrative offense such as wrong parking. In 2015, the drug-induced death rate in Portugal was five times lower than the E.U. average. In the same year it was confirmed that social spending on substance abuse per capita has decreased by 18% since 1999. The number of HIV infections from injecting drugs has been reduced to 18 cases per year. (ts,mb) CHECK NRW #2 59


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blu, hinnerk, gab, rik, Leo – die Magazine der blu Mediengruppe erscheinen monatlich in den Metropolen Deutschlands. Die nationale Reichweite der Magazine ermöglicht den reisefreudigen Lesern Zugriff auf alle Informationen immer und überall. Themenschwerpunkte sind neben der regionalen queeren Szene, Kultur, Wellness, Design, Mode und Reise. Unsere Titel sind mit der lokalen Community jahrzehntelang gewachsen und eng verbunden, was durch Medienpartnerschaften mit den CSD-Paraden in Hamburg, Berlin, München und Frankfurt sowie zahlreiche Kooperationen, wie der Christmas Avenue in Köln, seinen Ausdruck findet.