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Drug Use and Responsibility

On some people saying drug use to be a personal right and thus having to be protected by the UN human rights charter.

Does drug use constitute a personal right and is it to be protected?

Surely such an argument has its appealing aspects and its own inner logic. Equally clear is the consequence: to protect drug use as a right each citizen is supposed to have.

Clearly, the drug consumer has to have freedom of decision as to what he or she takes in. With freedom comes choice, and with choice, however, responsibility.

Responsibility now is the tricky point: It not only has its relevance for single persons; its scope extends naturally into the sphere of society, of politics. As put masterly by Aristotle, man is a "zôon politikón" - a social animal. Man cannot exist in isolation without risking desolation. Man needs society to survive, the strength of mankind and its populating the world not arising from individual strength nor intelligence but from man's ability to form groups, societies, cities, states: Society is the environment enabling human beings to survive in nature. Ironically, it is today's all-encompassing society that precisely allows us to shut ourselves off from nature: Invoking the illusion of autarchy. But thrown into the wilderness, a normal civilized man wouldn't survive for long.

Recursively, not only does man need society, but society needs responsible citizens. Rights imply responsibilities. If somebody wants to benefit from society, say, from the market economy, from democracy, from liberalism, this must not remain a selfish act: If the foundation of the government can be considered just and legitimate, it has the right to impose its rules, based upon a general consensus, based upon the needs of those in need of care. Drug use as such is not the issue. The consequences of it, however, hinder the consumers from fulfilling their civic responsibilities. If from drug use and -trafficking criminal action arises, leading to others being hurt, this removes it from the level of the private, making it an issue of all society, making it being a threat, a selfish one, not to be protected.

February 17th, 2000 / February 23rd, 2000 [HTML Version]

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