Indonesia is pretty strict when it comes to drugs.
Yes, that is a real sign in the airport. People are thrown into jail ranging from 4 years to life to death for possession, using drugs, or trafficking and police are allowed to search and arrest you based on a tip, which happened to this poor British guy, who is waiting to hear how long he will be in jail for smoking a joint in his home. Yesterday, that article was shoved in Amy’s face and she was told “Don’t do drugs! This is why!” and then it was taped to the mirror in the staff room.
With all the strict penalties for drugs, however, drug use still exists. Heroine was never on my radar until I came here. Conversations about heroine use that I’ve had here have varied from people sharing stories of their past addiction and how they overcame it to people asking me I need any because they know a guy who will give me a good price. The answer to the latter is obviously a very confident NO. People are getting around the system and drugs are in Indonesia, that I am sure of. And that makes me question the effectiveness of these punishments as well as the Indonesian government’s ability to enforce these laws — remember, 400 million people live on Indonesia’s 13,000 islands.
So why shouldn’t you do drugs in Indonesia, or anywhere in the world, really? I think answering that question with a list of punishments that you will receive if you get caught is ineffective, especially here. I’ve already told you of the population, but the police are a whole different story. Indonesia’s police system is known throughout the country as being incompetent and corrupt, and the little experience that I’ve had with them has been enough to confirm those opinions. But still, when I hear people talking about drug use, they talk about the risk of getting caught. They leave out the health effects, the brain damage, the addiction, the expense, and danger of the drug business.
Throwing someone in prison for a decade because they were smoking a joint isn’t solving the drug problem in Indonesia and it never will. Drugs need to be understood and talked about by everyone, so they understand that the risk of getting involved with drugs is much higher than jail time.