I am proof that drugs can be a normal and non-problematic part of happy, high functioning people’s lives

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

Tom Sanders

The very first illegal drug I bought, I bought legally. 

Marijuana, aged 15, in a coffee shop in Amsterdam. I rolled the worst spliff of my life (well, it was the first) and smoked it in Dam Square – the equivalent of Sydney’s Martin Place. 

I must have looked like a local, because three people asked me for directions. Other than that, no one batted an eyelid.

It was fun, I loved it, and I continued to smoke weed whilst graduating school, university, and holding down a full-time career in the advertising industry. 

But it was never as easy to buy as that first day. 

Of course, I also experimented with other substances – and always enjoyed an incredible sense of fun, imagination and creativity whilst doing so. 

So far so good, until a sniffer dog at Farringdon Station smelt something. There was a nearby club, Fabric, and I’d been caught up in their sting.

Suddenly, the same innocent drug I’d bought legally all those years before was a heavy weight in my pocket. I was stopped, my details taken, told to report to a certain place at a certain time where I was ultimately fingerprinted, photographed and DNA’d. 

This was happening just as I was due to move overseas – an incredible adventure that suddenly seemed in doubt – and all I could think was why? 

Why did the government want to ruin my life over something as trivial, as natural, and as enjoyable as some weed? 

Ultimately, I was lucky. I was only carrying a small amount (and they missed the pre-rolled behind my ear that I sparked when they let me go 😉

There was no prosecution, and I was able to live and work in a new country.

Many more are not so lucky. Drugs are a health and entertainment issue, not a political or criminal issue.  The conversation around drugs is absurd.

This is just one of the ways the conversation around drugs is rapidly changing. 

Research from Unharm reveals 55% of Liberal and Labour voters want to see marijuana managed in the same way as alcohol. 

It’s long overdue. Of all the drugs I’ve done, alcohol is the one that really messes me up. 

And the final tragedy in all of this?

I am back where I started. I get my marijuana legally. Delivered through the mail, with the government’s permission, in Australia. 

The pendulum has swung back, and the medicinal benefits of Marijuana are finally being understood and accepted. 

I am proud to be one of the people exploring the role of drugs as medical treatment. In my case, as an alternative to the pharmaceutical anti-depressants I have been on since 2015 (aka legally approved drugs).

We are seeing the narrative change, although slowly. Because prohibition and demonisation don’t work. People know that the human brain is not just susceptible to these chemical equations, it revels in them. From the buzz of coffee to the endorphins of cheese, to the numbness of alcohol, to the rush of MDMA. These feelings are natural, desirable and beneficial.

I support the full legislation of all drugs. I believe in personal choice and autonomy. There will be many people reading this who trot out the usual ‘I’ve never taken drugs and I am perfectly happy’ (happily ignoring the fact that caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, guarana are all ‘drugs’). Well good for you. 

You might be, but I’m not perfectly happy. 

I want to take drugs to change the way I think about things. To inspire new connections, forge new friendships, experience life in different dimensions. 

And I am not happy that society keeps trying to prevent this. 

We are better than sending sniffer dogs into pubs and bars just hoping to ruin someone’s night. We are better than ‘randomly profiling’ Indigenous teens. We are better than strip-searching young girls at raves, or prohibiting pill-testing because of misguided, outdated and unproved notions of harm-prevention. 

We are better than this. Australia is better than this.

I used to do drugs. And I will continue to do so.

If you have lived experiences with drugs and five minutes to spare, share your story with Unharm today.

For more real stories like this, head here.