Magazine article Newsweek International

Human Rights for the World's Drug Users : Fed Up with Being Stigmatized and Persecuted

Magazine article Newsweek International

Human Rights for the World's Drug Users : Fed Up with Being Stigmatized and Persecuted

Article excerpt

It is understandable that drug use provokes fear and uncertainty. It is absolutely right that we hold an informed and rational debate about it. But the voices of drug users are rarely heard. Prohibition drives us, the drug users, underground. The stigma associated with being a public drug user is so great that many break cover only when compelled to do so, by health, social or legal problems. When we are asked to speak, it is often to play out scripted roles, as victims or villains, repenting of our past indiscretions. Politicians and the media wish to portray us only as hopeless, lost and in need of redemption.

Frankly, we've had enough. There's a small but growing movement of users who are no longer willing to sit back and have our human rights infringed and our culture denigrated. For many of us, drug use is a dynamic and exciting social activity and forms a key part of our culture. As such, drug use is clearly protected by the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.

Some may argue that drug-related risks are self-inflicted. However, we would not oppose the acute treatment and rehabilitation of those injured while playing sports. Many sports in fact carry higher statistical risks of death and injury than many forms of drug-taking. When a dance-drug user takes ecstasy, he's statistically 700 times less likely to die than a parachute jumper. This is despite the fact that prohibition escalates and enhances the potential health and social risks of drug use. Where drug users face difficulties, they would be better managed in a climate free of judgment and punishment. …

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