Imagine being able to reduce the number of people who have long-term health consequences from experimenting with drugs at a young age by waving a magic wand. Reduce the number of deaths. Reduce the number of addicts. And that you wouldn't even have to legalize drugs completely or use draconian punishments because of that. Think that it is not possible? It is! And very easily:
This is only a part of english translation: currently in Czech republic it is practically illegal to provide quality-tests for any drug. One can only buy tests online or use expensive and slow testing in a state's laboratory.Personally, I believe that the full legalization of drugs - based on example of the direction of some US states- would be the best starting point from both a moral, economic and utilitarian point of view. Prohibition does not work - and it doesn't matter how socially acceptable we impose it.
Social acceptability is an indicator we cannot ignore. So let's talk about the intermediate step - so if we will not fully legalize drugs, how can we avoid unnecessary deaths from prohibition the most?
Every time when You will see the news that a young man died after experimenting with drugs due to a bad dose or especially poor drug quality, We must keep in mind that this death could be prevented. Just few small changes would lead to cultivating of the drug market and a cost reduction for the treatment of possible unsuccessful experiments. A bed day in the ICU can cost an average of 23 thousand crowns (one thousand of Euro), other specializations then go into the next tens of thousands.
We expose young people to the greatest risk
How many of you know that you can ask for test of quality of some drugs that you "buy on the street" in the Czech Republic as well? The information is not very well known and the approach to testing is complex. You will pay 1800 Crowns for laboratory analysis - not a cheap level in Czechia.
There are orientation tests for the most common drugs (MDMA, ecstasy, methamphetamines) in the price of units up to lower tens of Euros. It is possible to order them online, it is possible to have them "with you" in case of need for emergency and in case of failure of stable customer-supplier relationships situations or if purchase from the street is made.
But how many eighteen-nineteen-year-old experimenters will buy, pay, have a drug test kit delivered (home, to their parents!) Online? How many of them can arranged or afford a laboratory test?
In my opinion, testing the quality of a substance is a significant harm-reduction process, yet it is not common at all in the Czech Republic. The Czech drug prevention / harm-reduction system thus ends when a young experimenter decides to try a drug.
So in the most risky moment:
- inexperienced userwho doesn't know how he will react to the drug,
- obtains the drug from - for him - unverified source (friend is not proven source!),
- it is often about impulsive decision,
- it is often about combination of multiple substances and reduced judgment,
- It is often the user who does not know "how to watch himself" and hot to recognise the risky situation in himself (how could he do that?).
For this critical situation, there is a risk reduction solution that we do not use in the Czech Republic. Every life killed due to a drug experiment, every health complication due to the unexpected content of the substance, every "fraud" of the dealer on the "young chick" is a form of a tax, a cost, for that in the Czech Republic, drug testing is not a commonly available issue at the moment when it is most needed.
Insurance tests, tests behind the bar, tests everywhere
Let's make street drug testing such a common think that it will be available to every drunken teenage experimenter even at 2 o'clock in the morning for a party or club:
- let's make test kits paid by health insurance. Purchase possible without prescription, for a "citizen" or an insured person's card with a % subsidy from a health insurance company. Free for people under 26 / ISIC card holders. Do you find the "drug for ISIC" funny?
Not me. Who else should have it available for free than the most risky group of first-time users? Let's discuss, for example, the limit of "1 test per week / person" and not whether the tests should be available at all.
Subsidies from the health insurance company will provide market supply and package leaflet in v Czech language into which we can put any harm-reduction information we need to communicate to the young users;
- make them available in pharmacies (non-stop pharmacies in big cities!) so then insurance companies can combine it with the pharmacist's obligation to instruct the purchaser about the risk of use - for example, that you should drink a lot in case of ecstasy (but beware of too much water), how to know when the substance does not suit me etc.,
- let's put tests on the emergency room. Again, equally paid from health insurance (for example, "at ISIC" or up to 26 years), the possibility of either self-collection and self-test, or (for a fee of 90 crowns for emergency, which is a common fee for emergency in Czechia) to have a test performed by a doctor / nurse in the emergency room. An emergency doctor / nurse is a qualified person who, for example, can ask about current health complications and to warn the potential user of a specific risk, eg a combination with current medication. Have you heard of serotonin syndrome?
- Let's put tests into the clubs. Let clubs / bars sell basic self-tests for the full - unsubsidized - price. In addition to another source of income, it can be used to promote social responsibility and AFAIK few operators or bartenders are happy when it is to him, right next to him, that a young first drug user collapses. Let local governments, which rent space to some bars / clubs, require the sale of tests such as part of the lease;
- let's give tests to city police and the state police, let's train them in testing. If someone requests the police to perform a drug quality test, subsequently, possession of the drug must not be a criminal offense or misdemeanor. As part of harm-reduction, police officers should not subsequently lustrate the person. After all, to do this in the next part of the article.
After all - what is better: let the insurance company pay tens of thousands per person and the day after a failed experiment on possible intensive care, or donate a cheap few-euro test?
After all, it is not a consumer problem that healthcare is a socialized field. He, as an individual, pays for (or through his parents) his health insurance from his wage automatically in Czechia. Any next management of health care payments is not his problem, but the problem of political discourse (yes, we need private health insurance companies, but this is not a consumer's problem). Yes, the socialized health insurance system increases risky behavior. Yes, insurance companies need to be involved to compensate for this risky behavior!
Let's make possession for personal use completely legal
I don't want to get into a discussion here, huh is or is not greater than a small amount of the substance (holding small amount of illegal drug is somehow semi-legal in Czech republic), however holding a small amount of the substance there must be no offense and must be completely legal. Just by legalization or decriminalization of holding 1-2 tablets of ecstasy for a young inexperienced user, we remove the police taboo and open the way to the possibility of allowing to test street drugs anytime and anywhere.
- holding a small amount of substance must be legal,
- The police must not have the right to seize a small amount of a substance,
- a small amount of the substance must not be an offense,
- police officers must be trained to take a positive approach to testing - this is absolutely and absolutely essential!
- police officers with each street test must be able to give basic harm-reduction advice to the most common street drugs.
In other words: let's really start to serve and protect.
Let's cultivate the drug market, let's protect consumers
By testing the quality of the drug and fully legalizing the possession of a small amount of the substance, we get several side effects:
- we cultivate the drug market, because fewer dealers, sellers or "friends" seldom dare to sell the drug that is mixed with something or even "doubled", because, thanks to the proposed cultivation, it can be figured out very easily and quickly,
- thereby bringing market elements to the illegal market: consumer protection,
- the whole logic of the drug market begins to turn and, instead of being controlled by sellers or cartels, begins to be controlled by consumers,
- which in practice means that when your teen decides to try a drug, he or she will be in a stronger position than he or she is currently and it can save his or her life. Because they're just likely to try. If you say no, you are lying to yourself;
- a stronger consumer position leads to better drugs and better awareness. Thanks to that Health insurance companies will save tens of thousands of crowns per person per day.
Let's say no to drug fascism!
How the drug market works is practically a form of corporatism - drug cartels are comfortable with restricting the entry of competition (prohibition), because it increases their profits due to higher prices and lower quality.
There is no competition. The one who has to beg is the consumer. Drug users are thus in the hands of dealers from the earliest experiments.
Even the least experienced and least frequent users, who are socially least risky, are most in a defensive position towards retailers. It's like a bank: if you owe it 100 thousands, it's your problem. If 100 million, it's a bank problem. The current situation only works for large retailers and large resellers. It protects drug cartels and force to pay users for it with their health, more precisely by their health insurance..
So in the current situation, we all subsidize the drug business from our salary to the largest drug producers. This will compensate for the correction of the seller-consumer roles.
The end of the taboo
With such an intermediate step in legalization and decriminalization, we will achieve safer experimentation, strengthen the position of the consumer and thus protect the lives of the most vulnerable users.
We will also stop subsidizing long-term business through our health insurance. However, it also has its own:
Safer experimentation would probably increase the rate of experimentation at a young age, but this will lead to:
- lower abuse at an older age (fewer long-term addicts and socially excluded people)
- preparation of society for social acceptance of given substances
- the resulting possible legalization
- and thus an end to drug prohibition, which would lead to global breaking up drug cartels.
Isn't it time to finally move on? Isn't it time to start protecting those who really need it?