Day 883: A Breath of Fresh Air


For somebody with my fun-seeking personality traits it may come as a shock to some of you that I’ve never knowingly taken an illegal drug.

The closest I’ve got was haplessly sharing a ‘Happy Pizza’ in Cambodia back in 2002: coming from the country that also has a ‘Happy Rifle Range’ I (rather naively) thought it would be the Cambodian equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.  Well it wasn’t for kids and I didn’t get a toy, but do I have to concede: it did make me happy.

So despite all the travel, all the gigs, the random house parties and music festivals I’ve attended over the years, nobody has ever seen me smoke a joint, snort a line of cocaine or declare I can fly after taking acid.  I don’t need acid to fly, I have Ryanair.

Okay, some people may have seen me in a nightclub sweating like a madman and hugging random strangers while simultaneously attempting to chew my own face off, but that’s just how I dance.

If I get a little agitated when some narcotic is being passed around in my presence, it is not because of the existence of said narcotic, but because of the looks I get from my peers when I politely decline.  A kind of ‘do you think you’re better than us?’ look which I don’t really deserve.  Of course, I do think I’m better than them, but that’s only because my healthy arrogance leads me to believe I’m better than everyone… it has little or nothing to do with what they choose to suck into their own bodies.

So it may come as a further shock when I say that I am 100% in favour of the ending of prohibition and the legalisation of ALL drugs.  As soon as possible.  Obviously not to make my life easier, I don’t grow them, deal them or take them: but to make this world – the only planet we’ll ever know – a more peaceful place for everyone.  Everyone.

And, guess what?  There’s a whole bunch of powerful people who FINALLY agree with me…


But (I hear you scream) drugs ruin people’s lives!!  Yes.  Yes they do.  But then so does falling in love with the wrong person, getting pregnant at 16, your boss being an utter bastard, eating too much, not eating enough, bad tattoos, plastic surgery, adultery, modern architecture, World of Warcraft, RELIGION!!! …but none of these things are illegal in the Free West.

Although Modern Architecture possibly should be.

I hope you don’t think I’m being unduly flippant here comparing drug addiction to adultery.  Look at the suicide statistics: drugs (if involved at all) are almost always a secondary factor after relationship breakdowns, mental illness or peer group isolation.  ‘They ruin people’s lives’ is an inept an excuse for keeping the status quo as when people say ‘There’s no point in getting rid of Hitler / Stalin / Pol Pot / Idi Amin / Trujillo / Pinochet / Milošević / Saddam Hussein / Colonel Gaddafi / Mugabe / Bono – because somebody else will just replace him.’  Don’t get me started on that one.

Humans do tremendously dangerous things in their everyday lives – they drive cars, climb ladders, breathe in all kinds of germs on The Underground, get drunk, change lightbulbs, eat undercooked meat, climb aboard a jet plane or take leaky wooden boats over high seas with no radio.  We can’t (and shouldn’t) stop them doing these things, but we can all work together to make these risky propositions a little less fraught – health and safety guidelines, for example.  The same should be true of drugs.

Mentally competent adults living in a free society should be able to claim 100% ownership of one thing: their own bodies.

Your own body should be the one thing that is inherently YOURS.  Whatever bonkers thing an educated, mentally competent adult wants to do to their own body – so long as it harms no others – should be the alpha and omega of human rights.  If we can’t claim ownership of our own faces, arms, legs, hearts and livers then we are nothing.  Your body is the one thing that every human – from the shoeless orphans of Kinshasa to the privileged toffs of Cambridge – has dominion over from birth, and that’s an authority that no other human should be able to take away.

We can’t get away with saying that everyone who has ever taken drugs is insane.  If that were the case, over a QUARTER of the British population would be certifiable.  And that’s just the people who didn’t lie on the survey.  There are millions of functioning cocaine users all over the UK.  Chances are you’re sitting less than 50 metres away from one RIGHT NOW.

Of course there is plenty of “well, I should be allowed to do what I want with my body, but other people – you know, stupid people – shouldn’t” being bandied around, but even with a monster ego like mine I couldn’t even think something as arrogant, well, not with a straight face.

But I come now to the crux of the argument: making something legal does not make it ‘right.  There are enough people out there who disagree with abortion – fair enough, nobody is going to force them to have one.  People don’t like horror films, fine – don’t watch them.  I can’t stand Russell Brand: happily I have a remote control.  When drugs are legalised – and I’m confident this is something that will happen in my lifetime – I will continue to pass on the joint to the next person.  I don’t smoke, I have never smoked, I hate smoking and I’m not going to take up something I detest just because it’s legal.  Did legalising homosexuality make otherwise completely heterosexual people gay?  Of course not.  I’m never going to degrade myself my snorting a line of legal cocaine any more than a holiday to Spain is going to make me want to fight a bull.

‘But we need to protect the children!’ and on that point, Mr. and Mrs. Knee-Jerk Reaction and I heartily agree.  But do the maths.  Governments around the world waste TRILLIONS of dollars trying to stop drugs entering their countries and locking up dealers.  Turn that around.  With legalisation, regulation and taxation governments would not only make billions in tax, they would save billions by cutting the prison population by up to THREE-QUARTERS, all but eradicating drug-related crime, as well as the massive savings that would be made on things like policing, customs and legal aid.

All that extra wonga could be spent on IMPORTANT THINGS like education, health care, and stopping terrorists blowing stuff up.  It could be spent not on protecting a 21 year old accountant from himself, but on educating kids on the real dangers of drugs (like the problems cannabis can cause to a developing brain) and on severely punishing people who give or sell drugs to minors.  Hell: there’d be enough empty cells to throw them in.

At the moment the only people befitting from the status quo are the drug dealers.  If anyone can suggest to me a criminal activity that is as profitable or as easy as dealing drugs I’m all ears.  A note to would-be jewel thieves: you’re in the wrong business, mate.

And don’t give me that hackneyed old crap about some drugs being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than others.  The ongoing Mexican Drug war last year resulted in the cold blooded MURDER of more people than ANY OTHER WAR CURRENTLY BEING FOUGHT IN THE WORLD TODAY.

And where does most of the cannabis – soft lovely squishy friendly hippy cannabis – that’s in the United States at the very moment come from??

Mexico, of course!!  Hey stoners!  That’s a f–k load of blood you’ve got on your hands!  Well done you!

The time has come for us all to band together for the good of ourselves, our communities, our civilisation… and support this movement to rid the world not of drugs (because that is proving impossible) but of drug lords. And the only way to do that is by legalising the whole stinkin’ lot of them.

Yes, I agree that drugs are not the best of ideas, but all we are doing with this daft prohibition business is making a bad situation worse.  Drugs exist.  They always have and they always will.  While vast numbers of humans on this planet want to try them, we’re never going to stop them.

If I want to dick around with the chemical composition of my own brain, (MY brain, not yours) no farmer in Colombia, mother in Mexico, kid from Moss Side or policeman in Baltimore should have to sacrifice their lives to the process that makes that possible.

I decided at a young age to never take drugs – not for religious reasons, not for health reasons, not because I’m a party pooper, but because the whole dirty business – and it’s nothing but a business – made me feel profoundly uncomfortable.

Perhaps I saw a future in which I could stand up against hypocritical politicians such as Barack Obama and David Cameron and point out just how much blood they have on both hands.

Their left hand for giving money to drug dealers when they were younger – something they both admit – and their right hand for supporting the profits and business practices of today’s drug lords by keeping drugs illegal.  Whose interests are these bastards representing?  Us?  Or the drug lords… and the global trail of death and misery that they leave in their wake?


Even as the war on drugs continues to pile up the casualties, drug rehab program options for addicts everywhere continue to increase.

One thing is for sure: my hands are clean. I’m putting them up in the air and surrendering. The war against drugs has been lost. It’s time to declare war against the drug lords: a war we can win without firing a single shot.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. chelsie

    Sure prohibition has been less than effective and I have no solution to the “Drug War” or to the business that has become drugs, BUT I have absoulte confidence in stating that the legalisation of drugs would be A VERY BAD THING. I think the one thing that came through in your argument (which i agre with in principal) is that people should be capable of making their own decisions. The problem in your argument is that there are countless people in the world who make very bad decisions-for many different reasons but to name a couple- mental illness and poor education. And the fear I have is that when people are making bad decisions, there is the inevitable risk that bad decisions lead to bad consequences not just to the individaul but the community at large. Alcohol and drug fuelled violence is scary. I see it in my work. Until we can address the underlying issues as to why people use and abuse drugs, scary things will happen. In the meantime, I don’t know what the answer is. It seems like one of those scenarios where I just know what the answer isn’t!

    1. Graham

      Hi Chelsie! Thanks for commenting!

      I feel like I addressed a couple of your points in the piece: the one about people making poor decisions especially. The thing I would like to say about alcohol and drug fuelled violence is “Glastonbury”. Everybody at that festival is off their cake on something or other, but the incidents of aggression and violence are remarkably low.

      The underlying issues that you mention: things like poverty, poor education or mental illness are not generally *caused* by drugs and alcohol, they are exacerbated by them.

      Our taxpayers money would be better spent addressing these underlying causes, not fruitlessly chasing drug dealers just for another kingpin to take over their racket as soon as they’re behind bars. Legalising drugs is the only workable solution to the mess we are currently in – the greatest minds of our age can’t come up with a better solution. I’ve gone out of my way to explain my personal distaste for drugs, I would much rather live in a world where they didn’t exist, but we don’t and they do.

      Everyone who wants the stuff can get it anyway – all legalising drugs would do would cut out the middle men: the drug dealers.

      The bottom line is that legalising the damn things will save a LOT of lives. Nobody is killing each other over bags of Viagra.

  2. chelsie

    Glad you’re back online by the way! Look forward to the next chapter.

  3. Graham

    HELEN POWER WROTE: Sooooo. You know I agree with you in lots of ways *but* do you really think drugs could be legalised in such a way that didn’t, at least in the short to middle term, lead to quite a lot more blood being spilt in the race to provide them? Is it not a little idealistic to hope that all of a sudden they’ll start being produced by the good guys? Certainly it’s unlikely that the west would suddenly be able to commercially farm heroin cheaper than, say, India, where opium farming is government subsidised but still suffers from a brutal black market.


    GRAHAM HUGHES WROTE: Historically the only example I can think of is what happened at the end of Prohibition in the States, and in that case all of the criminals did one of two things: moved into other black markets, such as gambling or prostitution, or went legit – nobody continued buying Canadian Club, watering it down and selling it at 20 times the market price!!

    Once the bottom falls out of a market, they’ll look at other avenues of revenue – sadly (for them) no other criminal activity is as lucrative – with the exception of being a banker or working for FIFA.

    There is no way that dealers could significantly undercut the price of legitimate suppliers – there are no moonshine millionaires! At the moment heroin is illegal in India and therefore of course there is going to be a black market for opiates.

    But once it ALL goes legit – and legitimate businesses take over the supply – the black market (especially at the production and distribution level) will, if history is anything to go by, cease to exist.

    The problems will be reduced to people buying cheaper drugs from other countries, or the internet, or trying to get drugs on prescription and then selling them on at knock-down prices, but like the black market in cigarettes and Viagra, it would be exceedingly buyer beware – and the mega-profits that drug dealers can currently look forward to would be a thing of the past. The white gold rush would be over.

    I don’t think that the world will suddenly become a golden glittery Shangri-La as a result of the legalisation of drugs, but I do know that the current situation is untenable and that the ‘War on Drugs’ is unwinnable. Fear that things might get worse should not hold us back – from where I’m standing, they couldn’t get any worse.

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