The Power to Make Us Think

Last Thursday I attended the screening of Sam Branson’s documentary Breaking The Taboo, about the failure of the war on drugs in the world. The documentary takes the stand that decriminalization of drugs is important and that the USA should follow the steps of countries such as Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Holland in this matter. If it was the case, then the drug cartels wouldn’t make money anymore but the state would, because drug consumers would go to hospitals to get drugs as well as counseling. The point here is that rather than putting people in jail and treating them as criminals, it would be better to take a more human approach and help them in dedicated clinics. We are also having the same debate in France, the country where I am from.

Sir Richard Branson, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and Daniel Romero, a former drug addict who spent around twenty years in prison for the possession of drugs were at MOPA for the debate. Daniel Romero insisted on the fact that jail dehumanized him, and that many people who get out of jail are more addicted to drugs that before they went in. He got helped in a hospital for two years and he is now done with drugs.

Mayor Bob Filner insisted on the fact that we shouldn’t only speak about decriminalization. It’s important to point out the fact that drug consumers should be helped in hospitals as well for congressmen and constituents to better accept the idea.

Someone in the audience disagreed with the idea of decriminalizing the use of drugs. This person was addicted to drugs in the past and thinks that his son is therefore predisposed to drugs; and this would mean he could have access even more easily to them. I personally think that Sir Richard Branson’s idea of decriminalization is not a bad idea, because even if there are laws against it, people still find ways to get drugs, and I don’t think people are real criminals if it is only for their personal use. A more human approach is necessary.

But more importantly, whether people agreed or disagreed on what this documentary stated, the best thing about this event is that it made them think about this issue in the first place.  So many people in the audience had something to say about it, and there wasn’t enough time to take all of the questions. This proves that art and, in the case of MOPA, photography and films have the power to make us think about important issues and reflect on ourselves. Museums can also be places for debate.