Kasippu is homebrew, moonshine, illicit liquor. It’s pretty noxious but also very popular in Sri Lanka, definitely accounting for more drinking that booze. We have toddy taverns but most hardcore drinkers go for kasippu, served often in like plastic bags, drunk in poverty and desperation. It’s terrible tasting, potentially quite dangerous, and socially toxic. I also think, as Minister Sarath Amunugama suggests, that it should be legalized.
Whatever the ills of an illicit substance, if there’s high demand, banning it simply doesn’t work. It just forces the substance underground and associates it with criminality, corrupting everyone involved. I think the best thing for almost any substance is to legalize and regulate it, thus giving some element of control. For drugs, including alcohol, I think they need to be treated as a public health issue.
In response to Amunugama’s suggestion that taxing kasippu would increase tax revenue, Udaya Gammanpila went on a rant saying he’d want to sell the tooth relic and mine Sigiriya next, but that’s just hyperbole. It’s easy to say that something is bad and we should ban it, but that logic fails when you ban it and people keep doing it, a lot. At that point banning is least responsible option, ignoring a problem and periodically swatting at sick human beings and throwing them in jail. As it is kasippu is distributed through a lot of political and police corruption. Legalizing would get it out into the open and theoretically enable the government to begin to understand and treat the problem of addiction.