Hans Rausing's Sister Speaks Out

By McCarton Ackerman 01/23/13

In the wake of a family tragedy, Sigrid Rausing says that drugs are already effectively decriminalized for the wealthy. 

Hans and Eva Rausing

Sigrid Hausing, the sister of Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing, has weighed in with some outspoken views on drug laws and the super-wealthy, in the light of her brother and sister-in-law's fatal struggles with addiction. In a guest column for The Guardian, she outlines her support for decriminalization and claims that the wealthiest addicts, like Hans and his late wife Eva Rausing, are already largely immune to the legal consequences of drug use. She vividly details her brother's decline, culminating in his arrest last July after police found his wife's body in the bedroom of their $93 million London mansion. Despite their extreme wealth, the couple's addictions reduced them to living in squalor in a single bedroom, Sigrid notes. Their staff were banned from entering the room and she claims that her brother had been prescribed lethal quantities of morphine. "Wealthy addicts, gripped by paranoia, eroded by drugs, frantic to keep their supplies flowing, are almost untouchable," she writes. "Possession alone is unlikely to send you to prison if you are wealthy, because you are deemed unlikely to be dealing. Families look on in despair, but the fact is that their addicts already live in a world where drugs are largely decriminalized." Hans Rausing was convicted of preventing Eva's lawful burial and received a 10-month suspended jail term; he is currently being treated for drug addiction and a mental breakdown.

Sigrid Rausing calls for addiction to be defined and treated as an "emotional illness" rather than a crime. "It's important to remember that most drug-takers are not addicts, and that the human cost of the war on drugs globally is enormous," she argues. "If addiction was more securely defined as an emotional illness, and more separated from the activity of taking drugs, it should be possible to decriminalise drugs." She also supports forced treatment for addicts who commit crimes, citing studies that indicate that addicts who are committed to treatment have the same odds of recovering as those who choose treatment themselves. "Spending time in a culture of recovery, with other recovering addicts, in a community of solidarity and responsibility, is the best treatment: every addict in the room understands that whether you are there voluntarily or not makes not the slightest bit of difference," she writes. "They have all hit rock bottom, one way or another. Giving up drugs, for an addict, is always an act of surrender."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.