Doing Drugs (Policy)

Join Anna Ross at 8.20pm, Saturday 12th August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss the politics of doing drugs.


Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a PhD Candidate in my 3rd year and have spent the last 10 years studying and working in areas that cover drug policy issues, and having babies.

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

My research is looking at narratives (stories) and what impact the stories we tell ourselves from experience and other people has on how we view drug policy and drug use. Importantly I am exploring the overarching narratives in drug policy communities, and trying to understand why there is resistance to moving from a criminal justice response to drug use, to a health based response.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

Drug use has long been labelled a ‘deviant’ activity, with people who develop dependency on drugs often stigmatised and demonised. Drugs are bad, dangerous and a corruption of youth. They are so bad that we have had a ‘War on Drugs’ since the early 1970’s, and imprison millions of people around the world for possession and use of these illegal drugs.

Yet despite this drug use is a normal activity amongst many social groups, and it is estimated that approximately 90% of people who use drugs do so without developing any long terms problems. Indeed, cannabis is one of the most widely used illegal drugs, to the extent that it is increasingly becoming legalised in the US and in other nation states such as Uruguay and Canada.

The justification for criminal sanctions is based on harm to the individual and society, yet independent indexes of the harm caused by drugs shows that the current classification of drugs does not reflect the actual harms caused.  Psychedelics, for example, are evaluated to be the least harmful drug of most illegal and legal drugs; neurologically, physically and socially. Yet psychedelics sit in the highest category of harm; Class A with up to life imprisonment for supply, and Schedule 1, no therapeutic benefits. So the question is, what is it about drugs that makes them dangerous, is it the drug, or is the people who use them?

Why is the topic important to you?

As a lifelong recreational drug user, and someone who has worked, studied and socialised in the drugs community I am deeply passionate about addressing the fundamental problems that have resulted from the prohibition of drugs. I view drug use as a personal choice and one that becomes problematic due to a number of factors. In many cases the harm that results from criminal sanctions far outweighs the potential harms of the drugs. The criminal sanctions for drug use serve to mask the real reasons for the harms, and this may be why the laws are not so easy to challenge. However, using stories which explore drug use the structures which maintain this framework can be challenged and explored.

Describe your show in 3 words

Drugs, stories and an accordion.

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

You will learn about some of the common myths associated with drug related harm, and get an opportunity to discuss and share your own experiences with drug use (either personal or from family and friends). You will also hear stories from the Scottish drug policy community and sing along to a few tunes on drug use.


Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe