By Lola Brittain / Tribune

The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) turns fifty today. In the half-century since its implementation, the act has perpetuated a false reality that renders a selected list of drugs the cause of society’s ills.

I use the term ‘drugs’ here for convenience, but that in itself is troublesome. Loaded with moralistic implications, it is a linguistic construction that feeds into the binary drawn between substances that are approved by the state, like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, and those that are not—cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and so on—which makes it part of the problem that the MDA represents.

That problem is the attempted eradication of certain psychoactive substances. Introduced in the wake of the global shift towards a prohibitive approach to substance regulation, the MDA is a mechanism of control that aims to govern the use and distribution of substances considered ‘dangerous or otherwise harmful’.