Did The Government Just Ban Cheese Sandwiches?

Last week’s Queen’s Speech contained the standard Tory fare, and prompted the usual, largely justifiable anger. Yet the interesting stuff was tucked away at the bottom of the 21 point list. Undoubtedly, the outright weirdest point on the list was at number 20, the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which promised to outlaw all “legal highs”.

The tabloid press has done a good job of convincing people that legal highs are a threat to humanity, and the standard “hang ’em all!” comments can be found on social media. But in reality, legal highs are just drugs that haven’t been banned yet. Coffee, alcohol and tobacco are all legal highs: and two of those substances are responsible for around 99% of all known drug deaths, both legal and illegal.

Government after government, Labour after Tory after Labour, has banned legal highs for no reason whatsoever. In 2005, the last Labour government banned magic mushrooms. This, despite the fact that the drug has probably been used for thousands of years, causes no known harm, and probably has multiple medicinal uses. Labour also banned mephedrone for no particular reason other than media outcry: as I blogged here, it was later discovered that legal mephedrone availability had led to a steep decline in cocaine use. This has now probably reversed. Substance after substance, often more beneficial than harmful, has been banned. Among all the bans, other potentially important substances have been attacked, notably cannabis, LSD, ketamine and ecstasy. This kind of act is simply cultural vandalism, and is our reward for electing puritanical dullards to represent us.

Science has made a mockery of all these bans. For every banned substance, a dozen new ones reach the market. The legal process can’t keep up with the technology. So, some Baldrick-like Tory policy-maker came up with a cunning plan! Why not just ban ALL recreational drugs? That way, anything that reaches market is instantly illegal by virtue of being a drug. Somehow this piece of outstanding idiocy made it into the Queen’s Speech, and probably soon into law.

Why is this thinking so stupid? Because we are chemical beings, and infinite substances have a “psychoactive effect”, including our foods. Try fasting for a day then eating a piece of dry bread: your mood will be rapidly uplifted as the starch reaches your system and is metabolised. Starch, our main source of energy, is a drug – as is its faster-acting sister, sugar. And that’s just the beginning. Cheese contains opiates – substances related to morphine and heroin. Did the government just ban cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers?

Worry not! The new law will, apparently, make exemptions for drugs already in daily use, including caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and foods: these exemptions merely underline, rather than do away with, the ludicrous nature of the law. Now, if one puts one’s pills in a cheese sandwich, do they count as food?

And, of course, existing medicines will also be exempt. But if I use paracetamol as a hangover remedy, am I using it medicinally or recreationally? If I take Viagra for a sex party rather than to remedy impotence, is it now a legal high? Hilariously, the drug at the forefront of this ban – laughing gas – is also a food additive (it’s used to whip cream) so is still freely available on Amazon.

Here’s the thing: virtually everything we put into our bodies is a drug, and many drugs have recreational as well as other uses. This is why the entire anti-drug narrative has always been nonsensical: it simply attacks mankind’s chemical nature. We’re all drug users, every one of us.

This legislation does, at least, do away with one big lie: every drug that’s ever been banned to date has been labelled dangerous, whether it really is or not. The new law at least finally admits that our worthless drug laws are not based on harm, but on morality. They don’t measure a substance based on its ability to hurt us, but on its potential for being enjoyable. Finally, some honest politics!

One wonders why they didn’t go beyond drugs and ban everything fun. But then they would have ban their own creation of idiotic laws, because one suspects certain politicians get a masturbatory thrill from trying to micro-manage our private lives so carefully.

7 thoughts on “Did The Government Just Ban Cheese Sandwiches?”

  1. I suspect that the reason “legal highs” exist is because cannabis is illegal? Funny thing, I have been shown evidence these legal highs are much more dangerous than cannabis. But the UK seems to be tripping its balls off on Reefer Madness.

    The US is actually way ahead of you; look at Colorado, Washington, DC, Alaska, Oregon (may have forgotten one, really gaining steam over there). This is how it should be treated, legal but strictly regulated with age restrictions.

    We still live in a society that doesn’t consider alcohol drinkers drug users, which isn’t true, of course. Backwards.

    1. Yes, there’s no doubt that there would be less interest in new, unknown drugs if a handful of illegal drugs were instead decriminalised. Cannabis is chief among those, as are MDMA and a few others. Not only would that stem the demand for new substances, but it would almost certainly reduce alcohol consumption too. And generate new tax revenues. And cut prison populations. And reduce drug overdoses. But our politicians have rarely been known for their intelligence or bravery.

  2. Isn’t the definition “anything that stimulates the Central Nervous System”? In that case, films – be they comedies, horror, weepies, sic-fi – should be banned along with art and music. Are we being ruled by the Taliban?

  3. Even by Theresa May’s standards, this is a ludicrously bad piece of authoritarian drivel. Potentially the bill bans:
    Alcoholic drinks (other than those which don’t contain alcohol)
    Shower gel, perfume and aftershave
    And many other everyday items. All it really does is to limit the competition from other drugs to the big alcohol and tobacco companies (who probably pushed for it), to the detriment of public health.

  4. Only four comments. I guess the “real” left is too busy whining about trivial crap like “micro-aggressions” and sexy video game females.

    Gag me with a shovel, not a spoon.

    Moving to Colorado next year. 😛

    1. Of course, the biggest problems caused by banning drugs are:

      Prohibition doesn’t work — it leaves distribution and control in the hands of the most vicious criminals.

      It makes it more difficult for proper medical research into possible positive uses of the raw materials, e.g., cannabis as a painkiller for MS sufferers, or as an anti-cancer drug.

      It wastes the time of police and government officials (customs etc.,) chasing the crimes. It also gives police the opportunity to plant drugs on innocent people.

      People whose life is in danger due to the use of an illicit drug are less likely to admit to doctors at a hospital what is causing their illness.

      People who do not take these substances are in danger from anti-social behaviour (robbery) by people desperate for a fix or to pay off their dealer.

      The only thing I take is a small amount of alcohol. But I see the effects of prohibition all around me.

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