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Dare I hope it? The Accuweather 15-day forecast says this terrible cold will stop this coming Wednesday, then temperatures will climb steadily for the following ten days . . . with temps in the upper forties from February 18 through February 22. At that point, we’ll be a week from March. Am I seeing light at the end of the worst winter of my adult life? * * * * * * * My hand hovers over my collection of lettuce and spinach seeds. * * * * * * * Well, that’s a bummer: “Fact: Ugly People Don’t Go to Heaven.” The writer points out that children saint books use drawings that make all the saints look beautiful. It’s a good observation. I’d never noticed it, but maybe that’s because those saint drawings look a lot like my mirror. * * * * * * * Even though most of my readers have never met me, I trust they sense the self-deprecating sarcasm in that last sentence. * * * * * * * The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman makes most people think we need stiffer drug laws. Russell Brand says it’s just the opposite:

Addiction is a mental illness around which there is a great deal of confusion, which is hugely exacerbated by the laws that criminalise drug addicts.

If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.

This is an important moment in history; we know that prohibition does not work. We know that the people who devise drug laws are out of touch and have no idea how to reach a solution. Do they even have the inclination? The fact is their methods are so gallingly ineffective that it is difficult not to deduce that they are deliberately creating the worst imaginable circumstances to maximise the harm caused by substance misuse.

People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.

Countries like Portugal and Switzerland that have introduced progressive and tolerant drug laws have seen crime plummet and drug-related deaths significantly reduced. We know this. We know this system doesn’t work – and yet we prop it up with ignorance and indifference. Why? Wisdom is acting on knowledge. Now we are aware that our drug laws aren’t working and that alternatives are yielding positive results, why are we not acting? Tradition? Prejudice? Extreme stupidity? The answer is all three. Change is hard, apathy is easy, tradition is the narcotic of our rulers. The people who are most severely affected by drug prohibition are dispensable, politically irrelevant people. Poor people. Addiction affects all of us but the poorest pay the biggest price.

“The poor pay the biggest price” of our drug laws? If you’re a serious Catholic, you need to think hard about that . . . especially in light of the early emphasis of Pope Francis’ pontificate.