Russell Brand talks to author of Chasing The Scream
In a very interesting episode of ‘The Trews’, ex-addict Russell Brand speaks to passionate drugs expert Johan Hari, author of ‘Chasing the Scream’. Like Brand, Hari was personally affected by addiction in his family, and set off on a journey to investigate the history and ramifications of the ongoing ‘war on drugs’. The results are fascinating, and lend weight to the argument that what addicts need is support and rehabilitation, not criminal records and prison sentences.
Hari argues that anti-marijuana propaganda began in the 1930s at the end of alcohol prohibition, and was based on blatant lies. He adds that much of what we believe about addiction is false and dates back over half a century, despite new research continuously proving the war on drugs to be a total waste of time and resources.
Hari demonstrates his point by using Portugal as a case study. This small country had the highest rate of drug addiction in Europe in the late nineties. They had been trying the American model for years, and it wasn’t working. In 2000 Portugal decided to decriminalize everything, from cannabis to heroin, and transferred all the money usually spent on the justice system to drug rehabilitation treatments, re-connecting addicts with society, subsidizing jobs and helping ex-addicts set up businesses. The results have been amazing: drug addiction is down considerably, and injecting drugs has reduced by a staggering 50% in the past 14 years. Brand mentions that he’d spoken to Portuguese policy makers and that “even the right-wingers wouldn’t go back to the way things were.”
Hari sums up his opinion by stating bluntly: “What we are doing now is a fucking disaster,” and calls for drug policies “based on love and compassion, not hatred and violence.”