1 July 2009

There is no war on drugs. There is only a war on people.

This year, I went to Mardi Grass in Nimbin. I thought it was about time I protested our illogical and damaging drug laws.

I went as a tribute to a couple of people I know. One was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and died six months later. The other was his sister, diagnosed six months after his death, her cancer thankfully now in remission.

Both of them used marijuana as part of their treatment. I had always heard that it was good for cancer; but I finally saw its effects first hand. It was incredible. Both the cancer and the chemotherapy were hell. It was heartbreaking to see my friends so sick. And it was amazing to see how much marijuana helped ease their symptoms in a way no other treatment they were given could. When my friend couldn't keep her chemo drugs down, couldn't even keep the anti-emetic drugs down, pot helped her do it. That was a vital part of her treatment. When she couldn't eat, pot helped her. When she wanted to die from the pain, pot helped her.

Her brother kept smoking pot until he died. He had asked the hospital if there was a legal way he could obtain it for medicine or get a script, but they said no. He became a criminal by accessing the only medicine that worked, because the government won't grant any access to it, even to a dying man. The workers in the hospice where he stayed at the end of his life became criminals too, because they knowingly let him use this medicine whilst under their care. His friends became criminals for getting this medicine to him. And after his death, I, some of my friends, and some of my family became criminals to get this medicine to his sister when she developed cancer.

That, my friend, is the crime. There is no war on drugs. There is only a war on people. Many of them are sick people. And our politicians are the criminals for denying them medicine that works.

And I had never really realised that it is a war until I went to Mardi Grass.

For most people who take forbidden substances, the laws are an inconvenience, but we wouldn't think of it as a war. But when you see hundreds of people gathered in protest, and you see police gathering, and then pouncing, and then attacking people and beating them and dragging them off bleeding while everyone stands around, mutinous, calling out a bit of opposition but each thinking it could be me next if I call too loud, and you look around at the faces and you think I know these people, they're good people, they don't want to cause trouble, and half of them are sick, and they're just trying to have a quiet smoke for fucks sake, and you're the fucking police, you're supposed to protect us, not bash us! weeell, you start thinking this feels like a war . A war on US. Us, the people.

The only violence I saw during the Mardi Grass protest was police violence, perpetrated on people for such crimes as holding a can of beer while sitting on a park bench, sitting in the park smoking joints, or telling the police they don't like their bully-men tactics.

And yet these are the same police who would call my terminally ill friend a criminal for using medicine.

So I lent my presence to Mardi Grass this year. And I won't stop fighting until the war is won.