Last night we attended Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) UK’s podcast ‘Stop and Search’ featuring Rufus Hound and JS Rafaeli. This month’s event, titled ‘Drugs: That’s Entertainment’ took another look at the failings of prohibition and the suffering that drug enforcement causes.
To kick things off, we were treated to a preview of ‘The Culture High’, now available on Netflix. The excerpt explained how addiction itself isn’t the cause of the problem, it’s the addict trying to solve their problems. Trauma fuels addiction as people turn to substances to escape what has happened to them. Cannabis doesn’t follow this trend, and cannabis users do not behave like conventional ‘addicts’.
We also saw another preview of Dale Beaumont-Brown’s Grassroots film which is premiering next month at Norwich film festival. We’re looking forward to watching the documentary, and will post a feature in ISMOKE down the line.
What followed was a great conversation between the guests about current drug policy as they shared stories highlighting the failings of drug prohibition.
Rufus Hound, Actor and Comedian, starred in the Oscar longlisted documentary The Culture High. Since working on the film Rufus has become a great friend to LEAP UK and drug law reform. He gave us a bit of background about how he met Jason and the written interview which turned into him featuring in grassroots – he was on a show for ITV4 with Richard Bacon in which he said if he could change one thing he would legalise all drugs.
Rufus also spoke about humanity’s history, and how we’ve been exploring our minds throughout human history using a variety of substances. He has the firm belief that anything which changes mental state should be considered a drug, including alcohol and caffeine.
Talking about his industry (comedy, acting), Rufus mentioned how a lot of his friends are addicts, but are completely fine and live productive lives, because they are middle class.
Drugs can be seen as a way of manipulating poor people, as mentioned in this bit of dialogue from the evening:
Rufus: British Drug policy – if you’re rich – enjoy those drugs. If you’re poor – fuck you.
Jason reed: it’s like We (society) think that certain things are fine (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine) and others aren’t (cannabis, other drugs).
Rufus: The whole thing (prohibition) is fucking nonsense.
Also discussed were Neil Wood’s memoirs “Good Cop, Bad War” which are due out this year. Neil Woods is LEAP UK’s Chairman and a former undercover drugs cop for over a decade, and he always has shocking stories to tell about his time undercover and the damage prohibition is causing. The writer JS Rafaeli, Author of Neil’s memoirs and musician had some excellent points to make on his experiences with drugs and the harms caused by prohibition.
An interesting fact about the book is that it is being serialised by The Mail On Sunday – when slightly confronted by an audience member about this JS said he’s happy that it’s going through the Daily Mail, because then it will reach their readers and a new audience. As the book is an insight into prohibition’s failures from the perspective of an ex-police officer, this could be a good thing and help win some of their readers over.
One particular statement that stuck with me was when JS mentioned that Drug use is almost fetishised in today’s society. People build drugs up into more than they are – either by glamourising or demonising, creating a tension between desire and prohibition.
Overall the podcast was a sensible debate on drug policy and provided plenty of food for thought. Rufus and JS were excellent, as was the regular pundit Neil and Jason Reed as the host.
LEAP’s argument simply makes sense. If you can help somebody who needs it rather than criminalising them for self-destructive behaviours, why would you want to do anything else? From a humanitarian perspective the logic is crystal clear – drug prohibition and the ‘war on drugs’ is a complete failure, and causes much more damage than it alleviates.
Rufus also urged the audience to have conversations with people they know who aren’t yet on the same page – the best thing each of us can do to help is to educate the people around you. In our experience, once you get people past a certain level of education they start to see sense.
We’ll be back with another feature about the next LEAP event. Watch this space!