What does irresponsible mean anyway?

I’m a parent. As a parent, I’m responsible for the welfare and upbringing of a child. I have been told that advocacy for responsible use of recreational drugs, for decriminalisation of many currently illegal substances, and for education of my child about substances that are currently illegal, is irresponsible. Apparently, I should not be encouraging my child to break the law and take risks with health, and by educating children about substances other than the legally sanctioned ones, I am doing this and thus being an irresponsible parent.

So lets compare a legal drug with an illegal one shall we?

Alcohol risks harm not only to the user but to those around them, is addictive with withdrawal symptoms that can kill you, you have to keep dosing with it in order to feel the effects throughout a normal evening socialising, it’s hard to judge the dosage of, it can kill you by overdose, it kills around 1,000 people a year in this country, and it has a misuse risk rate among users of approximately 25%.

Compare this with, say, LSD, a Class A drug. It’s not associated with violence, it’s not addictive and therefore has no withdrawal symptoms, one dose lasts 8 or so hours, it has well tested measured effective dose rates, it’s virtually impossible to overdose on, and it has been associated with a total of two deaths in New Zealand, which were both found to be in association with other drugs.

Here’s a graph you’ve probably seen before – the drugs harm graph. It shows there are only four drugs available that are considered by experts to be more dangerous than alcohol. Yet those who say they have my welfare and that of my child at heart, find it necessary to reduce our choice of intoxicant to this – we may use alcohol, or nothing.

But, I am the irresponsible one for wanting my child to have a wider choice of safer substances and a better education in their use.

I am happy to be an irresponsible parent if it means my child has a better chance of surviving.

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