Australian politicians cut back on the bullshit about ecstasy

Australian politicians cut back on the bullshit about ecstasy

Members of parliament and the police admit to past drug use

VicesMarch 22, 2019 By Reilly Capps

Politicians know all about the ecstasy of hypocrisy.

Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all smoked pot — and Obama snorted coke — yet all kept drugs illegal.

"I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried,” Bush said.

Well … why not? You're the president.

John Hickenlooper planted weed in a flower pot on his windowsill junior year of college. Yet he opposed legalization while governor of Colorado.

Do as I say, not as I grew. 

"That level of hypocrisy, like you haven't done (drugs), at a campsite or with friends on the weekend, but now you're trying to regulate that nobody else should be able to do this?" said Shannon Hughes, PhD, assistant professor at Colorado State and an expert on drug culture.

But, lately, on the other side of the globe, it's a whole other world when it comes to politicians and drugs.  

"There's a major debate going on in Australia right now around authorizing state-funded pill testing at festivals — they've had a lot of deaths at festivals this past summer and the previous summer," said Mitchell Gomez, executive director of DanceSafe, a drug harm reduction nonprofit. "And a bunch of younger Australian politicians have started coming out as ecstasy users. Major national politicians saying, 'I used ecstasy in college, it's not that dangerous if you know what you're doing, we should just teach kids how to use ecstasy.' And some of them have even started pushing that there should be legal, regulated access. And it's moving quickly. They're literally saying we should distribute MDMA in pharmacies. That's the direction the conversation is going in the last few weeks. It's really refreshing."

First, a member of parliament from the Green party — basically, the hippies — admitted to rolling on ecstasy up into her 40s. She said it was awesome.

"Young people are not fools," wrote the pol, Cate Faehrmann. "They want us, as politicians, to get real about illegal drugs."

Photo - Cate Faehrmann

[Aussie member of parliament Cate Faehrmann, in green, started a trend in Australia where politicians are admitting to using drugs. Here, she's pictured with fellow members of parliament pushing for harm reduction, including considering more pill testing at festivals. Photo from Cate Faehrmann's website.]

What a huge change! In 2014, Australian public television pointed out that while 40 percent of Aussies said they'd done drugs, "you'd be hard pressed to find a politician, professional or any high profile person who would admit to it."

But in the past few months, after Faehrmann came out, more politicians are coming clean about riding dirty — including some very non-hippie-types. The justice minister in the capitol admitted to using ecstasy once. The chief minister said he once tried a pot brownie. And even the police minister — the dude arresting everybody for cannabis — said he tried cannabis in the '70s.

Their point was: Hey, I tried drugs once or twice, let's be nicer to folks using drugs now.

This openness has created a concrete change in Australian law … yet. But the foul stench of hypocrisy is clearing. And this political openness has helped swing public debate in favor of pill-testing — that is, booths at festivals where partiers can check whether their ecstasy is ecstasy, not bath salts or fentanyl or polyjuice potion. Since Faehrmann, a grip of Aussie doctors wrote a letter in favor of pill testing. Two docs wrote elsewhere that having pill testing at festivals is like having seat belts on cars or helmets on bike riders. And leading drug reformers are calling for selling MDMA in pharmacies.

In America, too, the bullshit is decomposing — if slowly. None of the candidates for president in 2020 — not even Trump — want cannabis to be illegal. And many of the Democratic hopefuls say they've gotten lifted. Senator Bernie Sanders said he smoked twice. Senator Kamala Harris said she inhaled "a long time ago." And, though she hasn't said, you just know Elizabeth Warren partied like the rowdy, foxy degenerate she is back in high school in Oklahoma.

Of course, no major American politician, far as I can recall, has copped to drugs beyond weed — to, say, snorting crushed-up ecstasy while taking amyl nitrates for frictionless sodomy. But life moves pretty fast. Hypocrisy is a glass house. At some point we'll find out that the emperor has no clothes — because he took his pants off while tripping.