Check out the screen grab below and note the juxtaposition of the horrifying death sentence imposed upon two young men in Malaysia for 'trafficking' what was under 500 grams of cannabis each, with the completely legal aggressive promotion of another -arguably far more socially damaging- drug.
The cannabis story is bad enough. These two men, both in their twenties at the time of their arrest are about to have ropes put around their necks, have their spinal cords severed and their lives ended. All for a crime that in the UK would probably not get you more than a few hours of community service, or a caution if you get a decent lawyer and have no previous.
Now before we hear the usual line about 'they knew the law and took the risk', I know that. But the law itself is morally offensive, it is ineffective and its enforcement is illegal under international law. Not only have the UN's human rights agencies called for a moratorium on all use of the death penalty, but specifically, no non-violent drug offences meet the criteria of 'most serious crimes' that would - by any legal interpretations of international law - qualify for the death penalty. Importing an amount of cannabis that weighs - as fate would have it - almost exactly the same as a standard can of Guinness is certainly not a 'most serious crime'. (for more discussion see IHRAs publication 'The Death Penalty for Drug Offences').
Ironic banner ad / news feature mismatches are a common internet phenomenon but it is still striking when the yawning gulf between illegal and legal drug policy is so blatantly exposed. There on the same page as the sickening and tragic story of cannabis enforcement brutality is an animated advertising promotion to 'win 10 pints of Guinness'. Alcohol is of course a psychoactive drug just as cannabis is. Its toxic, it can be addictive, and it causes a range of brain and organ damage for those who don't consume it sensibly. It kills lots of people (as it happens; far more than cannabis in population or per capita/user terms). Yet I'm quite sure you could bring an oil tanker of Guinness into Malaysia and not face the death penalty.
Related blog posts:
Transform submission to the DoH consultation on Alcohol Policy
The fault lines in current drug policy