On Aug. 27, the Executive Yuan announced that it would make cannabis the main target in the government’s fight against drugs and adopt three major strategies to tackle it.
The authorities are to be commended for their determination to deal with the problem. Cannabis users are by no means few in number. Many of them have high social status or returned to Taiwan after studying overseas, and most of them started smoking cannabis while at university.
Many think that cannabis is no more harmful to health than tobacco, so they think it should be tolerated as it has been in the Netherlands, or legalized as in Canada and some US states.
There was a case of a student who fell in with the wrong crowd. One day, after a student society event, he and his friends went to his rented apartment to smoke cannabis; the student later died.
After taking the student to the hospital, his friends tried to avoid any further involvement, so it was not until the student’s mother went to the rented apartment to tidy up that she found that her son had been smoking cannabis. She did not dare to agree to an autopsy to confirm the cause of death, possibly because insurers do not pay death benefits when someone dies because of narcotics use.
Later, she expressed hope that the university could strengthen its guidance against illegal drug use by students.
In the past few years, cannabis use has increased at universities. Some students lead a decadent nightlife and have plenty of money to spend. They are out of their parents’ control and it is not easy for the police to monitor them, so they can easily be influenced by their peers to fall into bad habits, such as smoking cannabis.
In addition to its announced “triple reduction policy” to decrease supply, demand and harm of cannabis, the government should ensure that students receive stronger guidance about the harmful effects of cannabis, as well as making greater efforts to detect its use, to improve students’ understanding of the issue to prevent them from unwittingly becoming victims of cannabis.
Chen Hung-hui is a former university military instructor.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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