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December 21, 2004

Pete Doherty and the Trail of Destruction

A report yesterday by Kirsty Wark for the BBC program Newsnight profiled Pete Doherty, whom Wark describes as a "hugely talented songwriter and poet" and "the creative force behind the Libertines - whose music has been described as 'rock'n'roll for the 21st Century.'" But in August, Doherty was kicked out of the band, just as their second album was coming out, because "his drug addiction [was] so destructive, the rest of the group could no longer take it." Doherty reportedly has very serious problems with heroin and crack cocaine.

Would a saner distribution system -- e.g., a legal one -- and an ending of the criminal status of the addiction make people with those levels of the problem less disruptive? In many cases, yes. In Doherty's case, maybe, maybe not; it's hard to say in any individual case. Certainly Doherty and other addicts would be at less risk of overdose and death. Still, fair enough; if he's causing hell to other people then that is not something that should be soft-pedalled, certainly not for a celebrity who has everything.

That said, the following observation by Wark tells only half the story:

When I asked him about the trail of destruction and violence that accompanies heroin's journey from the poppy fields to his body -- particularly the plight of mainly female drug mules -- I don't think he'd given it any thought.

The other half of the story is have the politicians given much though to their policy -- prohibition -- that together with continued drug use literally causes the existence of the trail of destruction? Ending prohibition won't automatically help the drug mules find other jobs, but at least they won't be pushed into the hands of unethical drug traffickers.

I know I've linked to this in the blog just within the last few days, but it's an important one, of especial relevance to Britain -- Rx Drugs, the 1992 report by 60 Minutes on the Liverpool heroin maintenance clinic, does a great job of illustrating how much of the harmfulness of addiction to heroin including the destructive behavior of some addicts is attributable to prohibition.

Newsnight has a comment page you can use to write to the them. Also, I don't know if there's a way to use it to comment on this story or not, but BBC has a Have Your Say page for viewers to ask questions and participate.

Also on the celebrity topic, and of some relevance to Britain though an American, is Danny Sugerman, manager for The Doors and co-author of the famous Jim Morrison biography, is also author of "Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess," an absolutely riveting account of his own descent into addiction and eventual touch-and-go recovery. Danny gave Drug War Chronicle an interview four years ago.

Posted by dborden725 at December 21, 2004 02:30 PM

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