Don’t get me wrong; I’m on the right side of the law

AT the outset, let me put my cards on the table, so as to banish all doubt, that it’s not in the least my brief – god forbid! – to press a suit for the legalisation of this particular controlled substance or, for that matter, any other.

That would be quite an ask, I’m sure you’ll agree, as it may – and most likely will, given my own checkered past – bring down about my ears the righteous wrath of civil society; as well as draw the long arm of the law on the short and curlies of my now defunct tail.

Such a bleeding heart standard bearer may be fine and dandy for cloud cuckoo land (read Amsterdam, Colorado, Montevideo), but not in the down-to-earth real world, thank you; though some might say, more’s the pity.

Be that as it may, this plaint/cause of mine is far less extreme; more merciful, shall we say?  My plea is to treat this vice, plus its impulsive victims, with kid gloves, not run them through the gauntlet of the law, and take, as we do now, a sledgehammer to a snail.

To avoid misunderstanding, I must spell out the clear-cut difference between the decriminalisation of an act (of potting), on the one hand, and the amendment/repeal of an Act, on the other.  The former is more oriented to interpretation and implementation, and less to do with any chop-and-change, of a law.  It’s in these first aspects alone that one proposes another tack from the path we’re on.

Advocating a soft touch, as opposed to the prevalent heavy hand

BY incarcerating our young potheads – first-time users, for the most part, caught up in a passing phase – we’re sending a generation behind bars over the use of a recreational drug.

A bit of a bleak and forbidding scenario, wouldn’t you say?  More so, I’d say, by GNH standards.

In my humble opinion, this whole over-the-top clampdown is, like, so ham-fisted – now there’s a word to encapsulate the universal workings of the law!  It recalls a recent case – cause-célebre, actually – of that poor sap, the sacrificial-goat-like gaylong (a monk in the making), who copped an exemplary two-year spell in the can, or some such lopsided sentence, to vindicate our legislators, I daresay, all for a few wads of chewbaccy.

This one affair, and the dust raised that’s yet to settle, put paid to the then Tobacco Act, and led to a more amenable amendment in the end.  Pity the plight of so many unsung boys (and girls) put away for smoking pot hasn’t led to like second thoughts on drug legislation.

A little leeway, or rope, if you please, for teenage angst 

YOUTH, as we all know, though some tend to forget, is the time of our life to break new ground; to rebel, at times blindly, against the establishment; and for impetuous experimentation.  Exposure to the big bad world, out of school bounds, tends to make frisky young folk try out stuff, no matter how ill advised, even self-destructive, these actions may seem to us elders.

They’ll see the error of their ways, by and by, via an instructive process known as ‘learning through natural consequences’.  And, in a while, like so many of us old dudes did once upon a time, they will grow out of these puerile capers.

Grown-ups went through similar teenage shenanigans – those old and alive today were young (and wild) once.  Even so, we act holier-than-thou now, and take the moral high ground, when our newfound wisdom is but for the benefit of hindsight.

Seems to me a bit – no, it’s highly – hypocritical of us not to cut our youngsters some slack, but come down on them instead like a ton of bricks, over some peccadillo like pot.

Have a heart, is what, in short, one’s trying to say.

The way it used to be in Bhutan, some forty or so years ago 

WHEN I first came here way back when, in the mists of the mid-‘70s, Bhutan was  – if you’ll pardon the expression – a potter’s paradise.  Know what I’m sayin’?

Well nigh underfoot was grass – not the one cows chew on; or maybe they do, I don’t know; ‘cause there are times I get high on milk (ha!).  Step out of doors on to the street, even high street in the nation’s capital, and there it was, smack on Norzin lam, popping up in profusion, all over the shop.

There was no law back then against its use, or, if you choose, abuse.  One would smoke the weed almost at will: on streets, in bars, at dos.  Yet, and this is curious, come to think of it, the number of users was miniscule.  One could count these sweet-leaf smokers on the fingers of both hands and, if one had a mind to, keep tabs on them.

Then again, those were halcyon days; life was laidback, simple.  A whole lot less choc-a-bloc was Thimphu, and rural to urban migration, all but a trickle.  Classrooms weren’t crowded; school was cool.  One knew all the shopkeepers down Main Street, at least to nod at.  The Swiss Bakery was the hangout, and tongba the poison of choice.  Vehicles, and their drivers, were few and far between, and whether private or official, (cabs too), known to one and all.

Sounds surreal but it’s true!

To be continued

Next Week: The ironic roots in yesteryears of the drug problem today

Contributed by 

John Chiramal, Changzamtog, 


Given the gravity of our drug abuse problem, separating sheep from wolves might be a good place to start to lighten up