The fact that people talk about "Drugs" as if they were saying "cucumbers" just goes to show that the government propaganda is working. Everything you get from the doctor, plus every recreational or medicinal substance you embibe, is a drug.

It's about time a distinction was made between different kinds of drugs, the public was informed about their respective dangers and benefits, and a re-evaluation was conducted of our inherited attitudes towards different substances.

For example: more people die every year as a consequence of alcohol than of heroin. Did you know that? Drunk driving and drunk fighting are a big factor in that, as well as various domestic accidents like people passing out with the gas stove on and causing a fire or drowning in the bath or whatever. And of course there are the various alcohol-induced illnesses.

Yet who would have the guts to say that alcohol should be made illegal? The Prohibition was a fucking joke, right? There you go, inherited attitudes. Many Americans come fom European countries where drinking is the culture, never mind a part of it, and taking alcohol off the menu is unthinkable to them. Some kinds of alcohol - fine wines, malt scotch - are even considered symbols of refinement, of style and of good taste.

In the same way many people have inherited, rather than developed, their attitudes towards marijuana, E's and tobacco but were not informed of the fact that each of these three substances is in a class of its own, their influences are different and they have no relation whatsoever to most of the substances that are really harmful to the individual and to society. With such an uninformed public, there can be no itelligent public debate.

By that I mean a debate which can relate to every drug as of its own, without mass hysteria and spin doctoring, and without making the confused assumption made above that if it's ok to legalize some drugs, what the hell, let's legalize 'em all.

Simply making crack cocaine or heroin legal will not solve any of the problems which they cause in themselves - addiction, loss of mental faculties, malnutrition through loss of appetite etc. A support network will need to be established to deal with those problems on an individual basis and supply the sufferers with a clean, safe source of the drug until such a time as they are ready to come off it themselves.

Another problem with a blanket legalization of all drugs is that people who take drugs socially (in clubs, at raves and parties etc) are often thrill seekers. For them, legalizing all this stuff will completely take the fun out of it. This is a good thing, I hear you say, for less people will take drugs all in all. Not so. The people who've made their fortunes producing and selling synthetic drugs are not stupid, they will keep coming up with newer and nastier stuff until you have exaclty the same situation as today, with the introduction and the "trendification" of more and more synthetic drugs, exotic mushroms, hallucinogenic plant extracts (belladona, peyote etc.) and so on.

Yes, it's high time we emancipated hemp. The poor plant is God's gift, for chrissakes - it is medicinal, an excellent source of industrial fibre, prime cattle feed and what not. It's been demonized for long enough with no reason other than to give fundamentalist politicians a platform to run on.

I'd even say, legalize Ecstasy - it's fairly benign when not cut with rat poison, so a well-controlled production line will probably cut down on its ill effects significantly. Legalising heroin and providing addicts with a clean drug will stop them getting pustulous infections, dying of blood poisoning and overdosing by mistake. A source of free clean needles will go a huge way to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Nevertheless, from here to the legalization of mind-altering substances in principle there is still a long distance.