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An Opinion-Altering Look at Mind-Altering Drugs

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

An Opinion-Altering Look at Mind-Altering Drugs

Andrew Ryan

Governments have placed all kinds of regulations over what mind-altering substances the population can consume for centuries. Currently, it is legally okay to smoke tobacco (naturally-occurring, mind-altering, very addictive), but it’s not okay to smoke marijuana (naturally-occurring, mind-altering, slightly addictive). It is legally okay to drink alcohol (naturally-occurring, mind-altering, addictive), but it’s not okay to eat psychedelic mushrooms (naturally-occurring but mind-altering, not addictive).

Some users take it to the extreme and become reliant on certain mind altering substances, but most use different substances as a tool to spice up their lives; to take a different view on their perception of reality (see: nearly every musician/artist/word smith/scientist that has changed human society for the better), or just relax themselves in an uneasy environment (see: most musicians/artists/word smiths(probably not scientists) that you may have read about). A whole bunch of- especially young- people use chemical groupings to make for a super fun party time. More intense, more interesting, more empathetic… it’s all just an extension of everyday self; an exploration of our existing emotions. An attempt to understand, or even just be at peace with, our humanity. A right of passage if you will.

Regardless of your stance on this issue, the reality is that there will always be a market for illegal drugs, and there will always be people who want to tap into this niche market for financial gain, as with every industry in human society. And I happen to have met a few people involved in the trade.

What most of society knows as “drug dealers” are quite unlike the dealers that I have come in to contact with. From what I can tell, the three people I talked to for the sake of this article are quite unlike drug dealers we are used to thinking/hearing/reading about. They are simply girls and guys that do the same shit we all do, but just happen to make a little bit (or a lot of) money from the desire most people from the age of 15-50 have to get wasted. I spoke to them a little more in-depth about their profession this evening. Here is the surmise.

These people deal mainly in the supply of a herb, and occasionally delve into the exchange of other things for cash. But generally, herbs rules everything around them.

“One’s condition on marijuana is always existential. One can feel the importance of each moment and how it is changing one. One feels one’s being, one becomes aware of the enormous apparatus of nothingness — the hum of a hi-fi set, the emptiness of a pointless interruption, one becomes aware of the war between each of us, how the nothingness in each of us seeks to attack the being of others, how our being in turn is attacked by the nothingness in others.” – Norman Mailer

And on that note, here are the thoughts of the people I spoke to who earn their money selling pot/speed/coke/ecstasy/other things to people who go searching for them, summarised in a totally anonymous way.

When asked if they believe that what they do for a living separates them from the majority of society, the general consensus is yes. It is quite obvious; they function outside of societal “norms”. Yet, they fulfil the wants of most people who function within societal norms. It was acknowledged that their profession encourages a slightly higher amount of social interaction as opposed to others, but it depends on the nature of the individual as to how intent they are with their salesman-ship. But, more often than not, if you deal drugs, anyone who knows you will attempt to get close to you in order to score some sort of substance.

The other side of this trade is the lack of necessity in dealing with regular day job sort-of-things. Why do they feel they should work this trade? Who do they think they are?? Why do they feel they can get away with it? One said “I’m lazy.” One said “I’ll do what the fuck I want.” One said “ Charisma and other attributes”. The same could be said with any industry that holds salesmanship and customer service in high regard. I can use these three responses as justification for being a bartender, or a writer, or a photographer, because, at it’s base, it comes down to selfish individualism. One has to make money, and one has to find what they are either good at, or comfortable with, or both, in order to succeed. Success is necessary in capitalist culture, and an opiate is necessary within that, so that higher powers have control, be it religion, drugs, or consumerism.

When confronted with the notion of a drug dealer, a lot of people think of some guy standing on a street corner, waiting for some fucked up junkie to be all “Hey man, got anything?”. But these three had some ideas about the convention of their trade. They are the same as you, the same as me, only slightly more paranoid because they have to deal with all the aspects of illegal dealings (gangsters, drug lords, prostitutes, police), when we only have to deal with one aspect (maybe the police if we’re noticeably fucked up on a weekend, and really, is it that bad?). But, realistically, who isn’t pushing some intoxicating idea? And these people actually look better. Are more visually intriguing. “People say I’m good looking.” That’s more than your average suburban dealer can say. For better or for worse.

Why do they do it? Because it is good money, and it is self employment. Regardless of the legality of their chosen money making scheme, they are still pursuing an ideal we all hold dear, that is, to have money to do the things we want to to. Go travelling, buy property, raise a child… one person may stand behind a bar for years, getting people drunk so that they have stories to tell to their friends in their home country, or getting them so wasted that they punch their best friend, or to just have such a great birthday that they can’t remember anything (me, bartender = legal profession), or working in the mining industry, cutting the planet into pieces and killing wildlife for the sake of human industry (oi, where’s the sustainability at?), or work in a fast food joint that is contributing to the western-world-wide epidemic of obesity, it is all the same shit. We’re all earning cash to fund our needs/desires.

Given this, one thing we all know for sure is that drug dealers DEFINITELY make money. Maybe more money than the average slave-of-the-man a week, depending on the season. But given their fiscal status, are they more likely to be wasteful with dollar-dollar-bills-y’all? Again, it depends on the individual. One that I spoke to said that it had nothing to do with happiness. Which implies a lack of connection between money and said happiness. Which I interpret to be a pretty good attitude. This attitude doesn’t buy gold teeth or stupid cars, that’s for sure. One said “Wasteful? It’s a lifestyle.” Which implies an embrace of consumerism, and an equal acceptance of western culture as we have been raised to know it. But this person also revels in the aforementioned self employment aspect. They are at school and are learning a foreign language on top of this, and it is probably a far better option than some badly paid cafe/bar job, or hard-earned-taxer-payer-money Centerlink funded existence. The other person made blatant their desire to consume booze and clothing with their earnings, but this individual is the only one that admits to the fluctuations in seasonal business, something that must be a common bane in the existence of any drug dealer. This person also has a rich daddy. But that is (kind of) besides the point.

The point is that drugs are always going to be a part of society. People need them, governments need them, and if anyone should be punished for the existence of drugs… I mean… “drugs”, is the planet Earth. Luckily, we’re punishing it enough already, so go ahead and make stupid uneducated votes for political parties that will do nothing to help your species prosper.

I can’t believe it was a hung parliament. But I can believe it. Watch this. Peace.