- -  Day # 223  + +

EU > Bulgaria > Tarnovo

Drugs and pleasure

Tarnovo, BG (View on map)

Young Bulgarians are probably just as fond of drugs as their European neighbours. Whatever is available in Amsterdam is also available in Bulgaria, but consuming illicit substances is better not done out in the open. Just the possession of a few grams of marihuana is sufficient to get yourself sentenced to a few years in prison. Here`s some Bulgarian opinions on the subject.

Martina (22):

`Certain types of drugs should be decriminalised`
While some countries make a distinction between soft drugs (cannabis) and hard drugs (heroine, cocaine), Bulgaria puts all of that on a big pile and labels it `drugs`. Cigarettes and alcohol are not included in the list, even though it`s actually these two that make more victims than everything that actually bears the drugs label.

Alcohol and nicotine
Martina (22, photo) tells me that every family who owns a piece of land is likely to brew their own wine. Or rakia, a grape-based drink that is consumed in shots and can contain up to 80% of alcohol, or even more. `We don`t drink vodka here, because we`re not Russians`, Martina cares to specify. `The EU is trying to ban the illegal home breweries in Bulgaria. They want people to apply and pay for licenses, but they are having a hard time. Producing home-made drink is part of the culture. It serves as a source of pride to the families as each family`s drinks has a distinct taste. And Bulgarians do consume a lot of alcohol. When I lived at home, we used to start every evening meal with salad and rakia. Personally, I find drink driving unacceptable but it for sure happens a lot.`

Martina started smoking cigarettes at the age of 14 and now considers herself addicted: `My mother smokes a lot, so does my sister and my uncle too. My sister managed to quit smoking when she was pregnant, which I will try to do as well should I expect a baby. She started smoking soon after, and I would not be sure if I`d do that, too`, she continues: `Many people smoke in Bulgaria. I think the EU will have another hard time trying to ban smoking from public places. Right now, many restaurants divide their surface over smokers and non-smokers on a 50/50 basis. I think that should be enough. We should not become too European in Bulgaria.`

Martina occasionally smokes marihuana when she`s among friends, and thinks it would be a good idea if soft drugs would be decriminalized: `I wouldn`t say they need to be legal, because that would make things a bit too easy. But the authorities are exaggerating now. Legally, you are allowed to carry 20 grams of marihuana if it`s for personal use. However, if a police officer catches you with as little as 2 grams, he will refuse to accept any claims that you are going to smoke it yourself. You will be treated as a dealer, regardless of the amount you carry.`

Krassi (22) thinks that people should try everything in life at least once: `I did not try heroine, but everything else, I did. It`s not very difficult to have access to drugs in Bulgaria. You just need to know the right people. If you know the right people for marihuana, you will also find the people for cocaine or XTC. It`s easy to find them in Sofia or in touristy areas like Sunny Beach on the Black Sea Coast. Anywhere around Bulgaria, discotheques usually have a dedicated drug seller, who is protected by the management. He has to pay a little contribution to a senior local police officer, who will tell his clerks to leave the dealer alone. As you see, it`s all about money and knowing the right people. But even then, you have no guarantees for the quality.`

Iglika (21) doesn`t understand why there is so much fuss abo]ut marihuana. `Alcohol is a much bigger problem in Bulgaria. My dad is an alcoholic and many men over 40 are. Young boys take 2-litre bottles of beer with them on train journeys and many older people drink during their working hours. For some reason or another, alcohol is cheaper than food. It`s poses a big threat to the Bulgarian society and it`s all legal.`

Iglica thinks that marihuana is much less harmful than alcohol: `I smoke quite frequently. It helps me concentrate and it opens my mind. I like writing and whenever I smoke, it`s always easier to observe other people, to come up with new ideas and to enjoy socialising. I also enjoy sex more after I smoked, it makes me much more aware of what I am feeling.`

Iglica also explains that another health threat requires much more attention than the fight against light drugs. Ironically, the threat in question is caused by doctors and pharmaceutical companies. `Many Bulgarians already start taking antibiotics before they even go see a doctor. They will ask for a friend`s advice of what he took when he was feeling bad, and simply show up at the pharmacy to buy the same. Regardless of whether that medicine will actually treat the specific illness. Then, when they do go see a doctor, they expect to get prescriptions for three up to five different medicines. The standard combination at least includes antibiotics, vitamins and aspirins. Doctors make money on every medicine they prescribe, so it`s again a matter of financial gains.`

Against legalization
Despite the wide support for legalization of soft drugs, there are also plenty of people against such measures. Desislava (22) thinks that it would not be a good idea, because `there are already to many people bumming around and doing nothing.` Desislava admits that she occasionally smokes a joint, but she sees no point in allowing others to do the same. Her friend Silviya (19) thinks that it would be a nice idea to only allow mentally stable people to use marihuana, she would not know how to implement such a solution in practice.

Julian (32) is completely against legalization of whatever intoxicating substance: `I used to smoke cigarettes but I was suspecting that it caused me to fall ill. When I went to the doctor and explained her that I thought smoking was the source of my health problems, she lit a cigarette and said: `See, I am not dying.` From that moment on, I didn`t ever want to smoke again. I never tried drugs and I would not want to try it. All drug addicts once started by taking so-called harmless drugs. It`s just a starting point for the stronger stuff. That`s the sole purpose why drugs are produced in the first place.`

Julian enjoys drinking beer and wine, but he sees a big threat in the aggressive promotion of alcoholic products: `It`s a competition between the strength of advertisements and the drugs mafia against the weakness of the human nature. I think people should be protected from that.` Julian does not see any advantage in the Dutch way of tolerating soft drugs. `The Netherlands is a country in moral decline. They should motivate their people to do something useful with their lives instead of smoking joints. I agree with the principles of freedom, but only if they are used in a constructive way. Drugs are destructive by nature and people should be protected from them.

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