I don‘t have a big problem with drug-taking, per se.
It‘s a little awkward when your friends have taken something and are on a completely different buzz than you, but on the whole, I accept the choices of others. I don‘t try to alter their way of enjoying themselves.
Yet middle-class recreational drug use has a dirtier side to it that we don‘t think about, simply because we don‘t have to.
In buying the occasional pill, powder, or joint, middle-class people like me support drug gangs. Those very same gangs that destroy the lives of a lot of at-risk groups in New Zealand. We – those who buy a bit of cocaine for a dance party or a casual bag of MDMA for a night in with mates – ensure that gangs survive and thrive.
I grew up with an uncle who was in and out of prison for drugs and drug-related crimes. I‘ve seen the first-hand effects of drugs on whanau since I was a young child. I remember the violent nights and the handcuffs, the overdoses and the detoxes. None of it is pretty. All of it is a good way to scare a kid straight.
Most people are shocked to hear this because, all things considered, I otherwise had a privileged upbringing. Few like to acknowledge that drugs affect families at every end of the socio-economic spectrum.
Drugs in 2018 have become a bourgeois pastime. In mainstream middle-class circles, coke has always been popular among the “suits”.
Ecstasy (and similar psychoactives) are what everybody does at music festivals, and marijuana is for easy-going Friday nights with Netflix and a bottle of red.
Other particular drugs go in fads, but I‘ve been particularly perturbed by how many of my middle-class Kiwi friends have tried methamphetamine of late. Here I‘ve been thinking two decades of negative media stories about “P” had been enough to completely disinterest my generation in such a nasty drug.
The vast majority of people I‘ve met who enjoy drugs do so with full control over their decisions and consider them only occasional indulgences. Like I said, I take little umbrage with this.
Save for a bit of marijuana here and there, I‘ve never done any other drugs. Not because I‘m afraid of being out of control, or even because the illegality of them scares me.
No, I haven‘t taken them because their purchase would put money directly in the hands of those in society I loathe.
When you purchase a “tinny” or a few bumps to share with friends, you pay cash.
Normally you have to go do a drug house (or have a third party do it for you). That cash directly supplies gangs with the resources they need to push their product onto those more vulnerable than you. It allows them to target poorer people and those with addiction; people for whom drugs are not a choice for partying but in inherent lifestyle.
That cash, which goes untaxed, is also used for drug-taking and alcohol within a gang‘s wider community, permitting violence and other crimes to breed whilst also forcing younger people within those communities into inherited loops of disadvantage.
Britain‘s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick recently said that much of this could be changed if the middle-classes stopped their drug use.
It‘s those with care about “global warming, fair trade, environmental protection and organic farming”, she said, that fail to see the harm illegal drugs do on the rest of society. They see no problem with a little recreational coke at the weekend, nor understand the “misery throughout the supply chain” that they support to get that Saturday night treat.
Although this argument has been done to death since the election last year, I remain extremely ashamed that New Zealand has still failed to decriminalise marijuana, and not simply because I support everyone‘s right to legally smoke recreational pot with a tax-funded healthcare system around it.
More importantly, I want it decriminalised so gangs can be defunded. So recreational smokers and vapers don‘t have to go into the dangerous “tinny houses” where far worse things happen than the dealing of weed.
It‘s clear that politicians and others from an older generation of power in New Zealand can‘t hear this argument. I therefore want to put the onus on drugs‘ wider societal effects on the middle-class individuals who purchase them: our friends, whanau, colleagues and associates.
I don‘t want to shame you, or guilt you, or tell you what to do. But every time you buy yourself a little party favour, I want you think about where it came from. I then ask that you consider how many lives might‘ve been destroyed to get it to you.