Drugs During Your Travel Adventures
Whether it is due to personal interest or not, drugs come up when traveling. Sometimes it is in the form of some sketchy character approaching you on the street at night. Sometimes it is in the form of a joint being passed around in a local discoteca. Maybe it is even through your active search for something new and exciting. Now while I am perfectly aware that some people would write from the perspective of a self-justifying user, Drugs During Your Travel Adventures taking a rather straightforward stand. I am here to say, if it’s not legal, don’t do it.
So let’s start with some common sense. If you are arriving to a destination with the intention of experimenting with drugs, know the laws. For example, even Amsterdam has its limitations with regards to the consumption of marijuana. Know where the boundaries are and do not cross them. This plays directly into my very black and white rule. If you are in a country where it is illegal, why risk it? I understand that there are some places where things like marijuana are “illegal”. For example, in many parts of South American and Africa you frequently see people smoking joints in public areas like streets or clubs. Regardless, the law states that consumption and possession is illegal. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it a good idea. As the old saying goes, if your friend told you to jump off of a bridge, would you do it? Consider some of the potential ramifications. Many places are laden with tourists snapping pictures. Imagine that you are caught in the background engaging in illegal activity and that photo later gets back to you, even circulates via social media. Proof of you engaging in illegal activities could seriously hamper your ability to get a job later down the road. The internet has made nothing private and everything incriminating.
Furthermore, in these areas where drugs appear to have a gray standing, keep in mind that doesn’t apply to everyone. This translates to a basic understanding of a natural divide between law enforcement and citizens. Just because the citizens are down with public consumption and it typically goes unpunished, doesn’t mean that there aren’t officials who don’t mirror this attitude and aren’t actively looking to punish such behavior. If someone walks down the street smoking a joint for twenty days that does not conclude that the factors will be the same on the 21st day; meaning that a cop who does not mirror the sentiments of the user could approach him/her and arrest him without further ado. Do you really want to be in a foreign prison because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something that you justified too laxly? To be clear about the credibility of this statement, every year is it reported that 100s of Americans are arrested overseas for drug charges. Remember that saying you didn’t know isn’t going to be good enough.
Keep in a mind a few things about legal systems abroad. For starters, many countries do not offer a jury trial or provide defendants with the option of paying bail in exchange for release pretrial. Confinement prior to a trial can last for several months and arresting and/or convicting officials may not provide bail. Furthermore, punishments for conviction may be far more severe than the defendant’s home country. Some countries, depending on numerous factors such as the type of substance and the amount, can even result in the death penalty.
Let’s also consider your safety and long term health risks. Now while I am not a huge fan of the idea of traveling sans insurance, I do it. I know, it’s stupid, but I really cannot afford it. What should happen to me if I consume something, have an adverse reaction and land myself in the hospital with a big ole bill? Well, I’m screwed. That is the end of my trip right then and there. That is assuming that I manage to even land myself in the hospital. Consider the many unlucky experimenters.
A bad source can be traumatizing if not deadly. People accidentally overdose on drugs every year. In recent years a form of synthetic marijuana has become increasingly popular in the United States. It’s in the form of incense and isn’t sold for the purpose of smoking. It goes by names such as K2 and Spice. The substance has been associated with several deaths and long term side effects such as permanent damage to kidneys. It has been said to cause heart attacks in people as young as their teens. The drug, while not legal to smoke, is sold in gas stations. Young people, eager for new experiences, assume that the drug is safe to consume since it is easily bought legally and since many know friends who have smoked it and reported that they had no problems.
Now I understand that some of you aren’t going to listen to a single word that I say. So for those stubborn readers who insist on experimentation while traveling, I would like to offer you some gentle advice.
At the very least, if you simply must engage in drug use, please consider your source. That man coming up to you on the street trying to sell you cocaine probably isn’t the safest vendor. At the same time, don’t go asking the desk staff at your hostel for the down low on local providers. Remain as covert as possible. By the sheer fact that you are foreign, you are making yourself a more likely target for judicial punishment.
Racism is real, regardless of whether you choose to accept it or not. You are charged more based on your skin and your accent. You are subject to the scrutinizing of locals based on stereotypes. Blend as you may try, there will always be aspects of your skin, your voice, or your general appearance that will deceive your origin. Know where you are. Know what you look like. Be smart. Be safe.
(This article was created with the assistance of Tina Stelling, Her Website is www.tinastelling.com I welcome you all to check it out.)
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