Rob Ford! Now that I have your attention…

by Travis Erbacher

Forgive me for trying to mine something worthwhile out of the Rob Ford situation, but I can’t help but think that a very obvious and revealing point is being entirely ignored. As with all stories related to illicit drugs, nearly every Ford story has to start with a pun of some sort. Puns are apparently as close as the Canadian media can come to serious drug policy journalism. As someone who has opposed prohibition for years and has witnessed first hand the medias lack of seriousness surrounding drugs, it fails to surprise me that the fifth estate is guffawing like a group of ninth grade boys, as if they didn’t know that cunnilingus existed before Rob Ford spoke it into existence.

The sexual harassment allegations are worthy in their own right of serious treatment, perhaps by people better suited to do so than myself. What I wish to address is Ford’s excuse for why he did smoke crack, and how this perfectly represents how insane the war on drugs mentality is.

“Probably in one of my drunken stupors” has now entered the Canadian lexicon as a hilariously bad excuse made by an out of control man who has no ability to take responsibility for his actions. Why did Ford think this excuse would be at all legitimate?

When viewing the attitude towards drugs of the Conservative government in particular, and prohibitionists in general, it does actually make perfect sense and work as an excuse for the occasional smoking of crack cocaine. Lets first take the excuse itself. Rob Ford was so drunk that he didn’t even know what he was doing, and he gets this intoxicated very frequently. The prohibitionist sees little problem with this, as long as the drunk isn’t hurting others. Now, someone smoking cannabis, or hell, even crack, in the privacy of their own home and never causing anyone any harm, that is a terrible evil that must be stamped out. But getting so drunk you don’t even know what you’re doing, that’s okay because it’s legal and its only alcohol.

Why should this attitude be at all surprising to us? We do, after all, have a Prime Minister who responded to the question “have you ever smoked marijuana” with the answer “I was offered a joint once, but I was too drunk to take it”. Once Mr. Harper was done with answering that question he was ready to go back to protecting your children from the evil marijuana. Don’t worry, the PM doesn’t use marijuana occasionally in a responsible manner, he gets blind drunk. Sleep tight Canada, knowing your leader has his head screwed on straight and his priorities in order.

You see, it’s not how you use drugs, or for what reason, but rather what drugs you use.

It’s a sad indictment of our society that Rob Ford couldn’t say “Yes, I’ve smoked crack cocaine a few times in the past. I liked how it made me feel, I had a good time, and I haven’t used it in about a year or two. I never became an addict, I never had any issues with it and I’m not currently and never have used it on a regular basis”. To the prohibitionist that is a FAR worse admission than “probably in one of my drunken stupors”. None of this is surprising: when you base policy on decades or centuries old lies and misinformation and hysteria instead of science you end up believing all kinds of stupid things, and looking like a morally confused fool.

Let’s be clear here: it’s prohibitionists and not those who want to end the war on drugs that have a twisted view of morality. Ford’s excuse is that he smoked this less physically damaging drug because he was so incredibly intoxicated on a more dangerous legal drug that he didn’t even know what he was doing – a situation that could easily end violently with serious loss of life and livelihood for many. And he thought that would make it better in the eyes of the Canadian people.

There are several misconceptions here that underpin such an amazing statement.

First, no matter how intoxicated I get, alcohol is legal so it’s not a drug and therefore not drug abuse. In fact, it’s even something to joke about! (“I was too drunk to take it!”)

Second, illegal drugs cannot be used, they can only be abused. All use of illegal drugs is therefore drug abuse. (Except when its the mayor, or say, a certain prohibitionist conservative mp?

Third, and perhaps most importantly, zero tolerance means zero tolerance for first nations, students, women, people of colour, homeless people, and the working class… but never “zero tolerance” prohibitionist politicians.