The great unspoken reality which lingers under the surface of the drug debate in our society is a simple one: elites and the people in power absolutely have taken illegal drugs at some point in their lives, many of them likely continue to do so, and the drugs they take are probably of a higher grade than the ones you take because they have more money than you.
For some reason, when discussing the extraordinarily punitive nature of Australia’s drug regime, we tend not to talk about that. Journalists, many of whom probably similarly indulge, then broadcast the drug talking points of the government, furthering the double standard which is foisted onto the rest of the country.
That weird compact suffered a bit of a body blow today, thanks to Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, who wrote in a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that she had used MDMA “in [her] 20s and occasionally through [her] 30s and 40s”.
Young people are not fools. They want us, as politicians, to “get real” about illegal drugs. Their parents want us to stop the moral crusade and listen to the evidence.
This means being honest about the nature and extent of drug use and accepting the evidence that a harm minimisation approach, where illegal drug use is treated as a health issue not a criminal one, works.
The fact this even needs to be said is obvious an absurdity, when anyone with two brain cells would realise that running a cocaine spot test on the toilet seats in any given Canberra restaurant frequented by pollies would create a light show you could see from space.
Faehrmann’s piece had a wonderful knock-on effect: it compelled other politicians to address the honestly bang-average question of whether they had ever taken drugs themselves. Unfortunately, because we live in an insane world where no politician can give an answer which hasn’t been run through the demented focus group which lives inside their own brains, we get this deflective bullshit:
SHORTEN: I’ve actually answered this before – I can’t rule out in my university years I might have done something… but what I can do, is since then – especially since I’ve become a parent – it opens your eyes, I’m nowhere near as relaxed about these matters as more evidence comes. So I would make it very clear: I don’t support taking illegal drugs.
Shorten then went on to waffle for a while about pill testing and why he and Labor are basically not giving a concrete answer on pill testing, given fears it will “give a tick” to people breaking the law.
.@billshortenmp on pill testing: I wouldn’t want my child or anyone else’s child to die because we didn’t have a proper approach on pill testing … But it’s illegal for a reason.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 21, 2019
Scott Morrison got in on it too, denying he has ever taken drugs.
Reporter: Have you ever taken illegal drugs?
PM @ScottMorrisonMP: No, I haven’t.
— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) January 21, 2019
I bet Scotty has never even seen a drug. Why, he probably hadn’t even heard of drugs until this very interview.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who – like many of his coworkers – has been facing pressure over pill testing, wasn’t asked about whether he’d ever gotten on the pingers, but he did slam Faehrmann’s editorial.
Concerning: Kate Faehrmann tells young people MDMA is ok despite toxicology/clinical assessment saying MDMA killed 5 young people @ music festivals in 6 months.She also highlighted problems her mum had sadly with legal drugs How then are illegal drugs ok? @NSWHealth
— Brad Hazzard (@BradHazzard) January 21, 2019
Stay tuned for what I can only hope are more prominent politicians being asked about whether they have ridden the proverbial rainbow.