Drug Possession: The Criminalization Of Youth

The words we use matter. Be it ‘junkie’ instead of ‘addict’ or ‘she had a few drinks’ versus ‘she took drugs’ the words chosen shape the emotional response.

The callous attitude which wants us to maintain criminal penalty for petty drug possession is not one premised in practicality or reasonableness. It is an ideological belief  that sees drug users as impure and addicts as a subhuman scourge who block the way into Brown Thomas.


For these people, a young person having their stomach pumped from excessive alcohol intake is ‘a naïve teen that went too far’ a 24-year-old sitting at a field listening to their favourite band caught smoking cannabis is a ‘criminal’ to be put in handcuffs, humiliatingly escorted out of the venue by police and given a criminal record scarring her life prospects forever.


This is the reality of criminalizing possession that many overlook. A bizarre, wholly ineffective and disproportionate response to curbing harmful levels of drug use. I’ve worked at the last two major music festivals in Dublin this summer and I can tell you that the prohibition on underage drinking bares no influence on a 16 year old’s decision to drink damaging quantities of alcohol. Should they all be treated as criminals too? Should we as a society see them as crooks to be punished or as young people vulnerable to peer pressure and making mistakes?


A criminal record is for life. Believing in decriminalization is not about being pro-drugs, it’s about looking past ideological constraints and rationally examining what is the best means to manage drug use.


Portugal has shown that decriminalisation results in a decrease in drug-induced deaths and an overall decrease in drug use among 15- to 24-year-olds.

What the writer in last week’s Irish Times seemed to be legitimately concerned about was a culture of excess which young people are particularly exposed to. I’m sorry to inform him that the overindulgence in hashtags is not indicative of the overindulgence of hash.


And perhaps instead of blaming the culture of excess on a youthful catchphrase ‘#livingmybestlife’ (who actually says that?) the constant assault of advertising from our phones to the plethora of posters plastered across our streets prompting us to ‘treat ourselves’ to  ‘buy 12 for the price of 6’ or to ‘live life to the fullest’ manipulating and exploiting our insecurities and desires plays a greater role in that culture of excess than the government’s official position on weed?


We’ve seen this kind of regressive emotional response a thousand times before. The patronizing call to ‘THINK OF THE CHILDREN’ and smear young people as out of control maniacs is typical of a moral panic. In 1972 Stanley Cohen published a seminal work titled ‘folk devils and moral panics’ in which he demonstrated how media in the 1960’s were dramatically amplifying the deviance of the youth subcultures ‘mods and rockers’ to present an enemy to their readers outside the core values of society and as posing a threat to social order itself.


Stoking the flames of moral panic and decrying how decriminalization will be seen as a free pass to engage in dangerous drug use may sell newspapers but by attempting to obstruct much-needed reform it will also destroy lives.




What Would Elon Musk Be Working On If He Was 22?

Inventor, Entrepreneur and Englineer discusses what he views as the most important work to be doing if he was a young person in 2017.

Musk has been at the centre of the conversation around artificial intelligence and sustainable energy consumption over the past 15 years. He is ranked the 21st most influential people in the world and his current company SpaceX are working on a project to eventually allow humans to colonise Mars.

What Do Humans Really Want?

Are humans just naturally lazy, comfort and pleasure seeking beings? Or do we really want dignity and fulfilment?

in this riveting excerpt professor Noam Chomsky discusses how the billions upon billions of dollars spent on advertising has been used to psychologically manipulate are ideas of what we want.

Tracing trends from the industrial revolution of the 1800’s to the educated poor in the 1930’s, Chomsky argues that what we really want is a sense of belonging and dignity in our work, not evermore accumulation and consumption of products.

What are your thoughts?





How Do You Know if You’re An Artist?

How do you know if you’re an artist? Do you actually need advice or do you just want reaffirmation of what you already know?

This is a riveting collection of words from some of the worlds best artistic minds such as Marina Abramovic and Wim Wenders.

Stop Thinking You Need Motivation.

Mel Robbins in this interview for Impact Theory explains why she believes motivation to be a debilitating concept which holds people back. She argues that people get fixated with the idea that “one day” they will do the things they really want to do and all that is missing is courage and motivation.

In reality however, it will always be difficult to do things which create risk in our lives and this belief in motivation contradicts the way in which are brains are designed.



Why Millennials Can’t be Happy 

Simon Sinek explores the reasons why Millenials are getting a bad reputation. From growing up with a toxic addiction to social media to the sense of entitlement which is cultivated in today’s youth through instant gratification and pampering.

This talk is a riveting insight into the potential damage of overuse of social media at a young age and poses some stark questions about how young people today will cope with the harshness of the working world.

Has Western Feminism Been Hijacked By SJW’s?

In this piece Jo Rogan speaks with Jordan Peterson to discuss some of the ideological misgivings of how Feminism is being framed and used to discuss things which aren’t about gender equality in America and the West.

While it is perhaps unfair to have a real discussion on this without a woman on the panel, the debate raises some key concerns about the dilution of Gender Equality and increasing victimology as opposed to female empowerment. 

What do you think?