3 Apr 2012

The Good Policy Pollies Fear

By Ben Eltham
Bob Carr is right - the facts fall firmly in favour of drug law reform. If the Gillard Government was serious about evidence-based policy, decriminalisation would be a no-brainer, writes Ben Eltham
Is there any public policy that has failed more comprehensively than drugs prohibition?

It's hard to think of one. Harsh criminal penalties for illicit drugs have been ubiquitous in most nations since at least the 1960s. Despite this, the global drug trade continues to expand. According to the UN, the global drug trade was worth US$321 billion in 2005, and last year's Word Drugs Report estimated a total of 210 million drug users worldwide. That figure has been steady or trending slightly upwards since the late 1990s. Street prices in most Western countries, meanwhile, are low and falling.

The recent Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy found that "vast expenditures on criminalisation and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption".

And yet, because the drugs trade is criminalised, it has spawned trans-national networks of unprecedented sophistication and violence. In central American nations such as Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, the drugs trade has become so big and so dangerous that it is destabilising entire countries. The melancholy statistics for murders per head of population from the cartel-driven drug violence in Mexico easily approximate those of a serious civil war.

Central America's problems are to some extent unique to that part of the world, where the world's largest market for illegal drugs shares a long and porous border with a much poorer nation, offering many opportunities for smuggling and trafficking. But Australia is scarcely immune to the violent and destructive side-effects of drug criminalisation.

As Dr Alex Wodak of St Vincent's Hospital observes today in The Conversation, "if ... the aim of the War on Drugs was to create a dynamic and vigorous black market, and provide an ever-expanding variety of drugs of increasing purity at lower and lower prices while enriching organised crime, bikie gangs and corrupt police, then drug prohibition has been an overwhelming success."

A number of prominent Australians agree. Foreign Minister Bob Carr, for instance, observes that "An issue that worried me while I was in NSW politics was the police hitting railway stations with sniffer dogs. It was marijuana that was the focus".

Outspoken former New South Wales director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdrey thinks that drug criminalisation only leads to a "proliferation of crime" and "an increase in the corruption of law enforcement".

Harm minimisation works. The example of Australia's spectacularly successful needle exchange programs is a case in point. In the 1980s under Neal Blewett, Australia took a public health approach to HIV/AIDS which included vigorous policy efforts to reduce the level of HIV transmission through shared needles. Australia's rates of HIV prevalence among injecting drug users are around 2-3 per cent. In the US, by contrast, conservative politics and a climate of fear meant that needle exchange and other harm reduction strategies were delayed, and only partially adopted. US rates of HIV among injecting drug users are above 15 per cent. In countries like Thailand and Russia, where injecting use remains stigmatised and criminalised, and where harm reduction strategies have been consistently rejected, those rates are above 35 per cent.

The examples of Portugal and Switzerland, both of which have extensively decriminalised their drug policies with no serious increase in drug use, are well documented. Wodak points out that Switzerland's drug liberalisation resulted in an 82 per cent decrease in new heroin users from 1990 to 2002, "along with reductions in new HIV infections among injecting drug users, drug overdose deaths, crime and quantity of heroin seized".

Similarly, Portugal embarked on an extensive round of decriminalisation a decade ago. The result has been a public drug-use profile largely similar to other Western European countries. In other words, while decriminalisation has been no panacea, it hasn't made drug use any worse either. According to this recent authoritative review by Caitlin Hughes and Alex Stevens, there has been no avalanche of new drug use since laws were relaxed.

As Wodak points out, every dollar spent on needle exchange programs "saves $27 overall, including $4 in health-care costs". Despite this, only 1 per cent of Australia's total state and federal spend on drug policy is spent on harm reduction. Seven per cent goes to treatment, 10 per cent goes to efforts to reduce demand and approximately 75 per cent of all taxpayers' money spent on drug policy goes to enforcement: customs, the police, the courts, and the prisons. It's a mind-boggling waste of public funds.

But, as ever with public policy, the facts are drowned out by a torrent of conservative moralising. Drugs are illegal because making them illegal is popular — with mums and dads in the suburbs, with talk-back radio hosts, with TV current affairs programs, and with politicians themselves. The cautious reaction of senior Gillard government ministers to today's discussion paper by think tank Australia 21 is a perfect example. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, for instance, gives every impression that she would rather like to strengthen available drug laws. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek is apparently unmoved either way.

Drug law reform presents an interesting example for the Gillard government that has staked so much on carbon policy. Julia Gillard and her senior ministers constantly stress the importance of listening to the best available science on climate change in the formation of Australian carbon policy. But when it comes to drug law reform, the evidence is equally stark. Drug criminalisation doesn't work.

Decriminalisation won't solve the problem, of course. Nothing can stop the problem of drug abuse, just as no government policy can stop people committing suicide. Self-harm, of which drug use is one type, is simply a human propensity. All we can do is try and reduce the harm wherever possible. As the decades-long campaign against tobacco shows, when we really put our minds to it, we can help people to quit and, better still, never to take up drug use in the first place. But it would be foolish to believe we can ever eliminate it from our society.

What drug decriminalisation does achieve is to stop making the problem worse. A criminal record for drug use, for instance, is a harm in itself — for no gain in terms of deterrence (often expressed in that wonderful piece of common nonsense, "sending the right message"). A petty user or street dealer with a criminal record simply experiences a further barrier to his or her life chances, making rehabilitation a little bit more difficult.

In contrast, the money spent on the never-ending pursuit of drug dealers and traffickers could be far better spent on things that we know do work: tried-and-true programs of harm reduction and public healthcare. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Try explaining it on talkback radio or at a community meeting, and then you may realise how difficult drug law reform will be.

Bob Carr's uneasy advocacy of drug law reform is indicative. When he was premier, Carr was only too happy to run a vigorous law and order campaign in successive elections, a campaign which saw tougher sentencing for drug trafficking and manufacturing. The result was longer sentences and more people in prison. Predictably, the crackdown had little if any discernible impact on New South Wales' illegal drug use rates, as the findings of the Illicit Drug Reporting System show.

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Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 13:31

Within five years there will be a new political party in Australia to do this kind of stuff.

Can't wait. Gillard has lost her courage and Abbott will never do anything this dangerous. The Australian people are ready for something better.

I hope.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 13:40

As a health worker in the field of blood borne viruses and drug and alcohol, I couldn't agree more. The literature on this couldn't be clearer, but the pressure from the US to its allies to keep up a 'war on drugs ' is intense. One of the main reasons Australia had such a success story with low rates of HIV transmission, apart from giants like Dr Wodak who stuck his neck on the line to start the needle and syringe program, is that it legalized homosexuality and (at least in NSW, sex work), bringing those at risk in touch with health services.
One thing though - I doubt this is really Gillard's call? Surely most of the states will be responsible for amending their criminal codes/acts. There are some offences in the Commonwealth Crimes Act, but the most relevant action will be at state level, no?

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 13:45

I think this is long overdue. The war on drugs is not just a complete failure, it is actually increasing the harms arising from drug use. Bob Carr's comments are interesting in the light of his previous approach as NSW Premier. I remember his approach to the proposed heroin trial in the ACT. His response at the time was that he would only support the trial if there was already clear evidence that it would be a success - overlooking the fact that the trial was designed to produce such evidence. If the evidence existed it would not have been encessary to run the trial.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 14:33


Bob Carr is a piece of shit.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 15:45

Yes this is about time, and funny Bob is the one to raise it as an issue. is he the only secure pollie from main parties who can speak his mind without fear of media and political backlash?

While clearly drug reform is important as a lifetime brand, a virtual tattoo on the forehead, as a criminal for drug possession/use is way over the top, there are a couple of points to consider.

What people do not get about drug reform is that it is not about drugs. it is about money and the black economy.

Where will funds come for black market weapons if not from drugs (OK, sex trade, and whatever else springs up to replace drug business) if the drug business is shut down? Who will the big arms companies sell on black market to then? Who will have weapons to fight then? The legal arms trade then gets threatened. Lots of interested threatened there, including possibly the Vatican whose holdings in such businesses were uncovered by the pope circa 1980 just prior to his death.

What will organised crime do to raise money then? The bikies with their factories? The Italian dope mafia? The dope farmers? Get jobs? Not likely. Interesting how the dope growers voted against legalising dope in California, too much business.

Catherine Austin Fitts gave a lecture in NY some years ago, talking about link between Wall St and drug money. She, and she seemed to know, said that at that time $750 billion of drug funds/year were being funnelled into Wall st via blue chip companies. If drugs (all drugs, so not entirely applicable to this scenario where soft drugs are on table) were legalised then there would be a significant drop in stock value. By now that figure will have blown out to maybe $1-2 trillion/y. Big money.

In a room of 2000 people she posed following question:
Given that most crime, burglaries, muggings, were related to drugs, if drugs were legalised and it became safe on streets, and people could live without fear of being attacked/robbed by a junkie, and the cost of that would be a 15% drop in stock value, who in room would like to legalise drugs? In that room, 3 people raised their hand.

Watching The Wire and the drug trade in urban USA, one has to wonder what these people will sell if drugs were legal. People make way too much money too easily to get a normal job. What will lawyers do? Cops? Prison guards? Customs?

My main point is that legalising drugs may not stop the criminality but maybe shift it elsewhere. The desire to make lots of easy money will not fade with drug laws, merely move on to next market. Kids? Organs?

The upside - if drugs are legal, then there is no money in it, so no need for junkies to find customers in schools/clubs etc to fund their habit. Take the profit motive out and the market will collapse. If people can grow their own, then the big growers will go out of business, or at least profit motive will plummet.

It was interesting what happened in OZ recently re the legal synthetic dope (made as medial marijuana) sold in tobacco shops. For a while 'smoking dope' was legal and it was very pleasant to not have to deal with paranoia. Initially this dope was a far better experience than the 'natural' version with all its super fertilisers and hybrid seeds, yet as the laws clamped down on it the quality/experience deteriorated. Here we had a drug with the negative effects of dope removed (and there are lots of negatives re dope). It was great going into the shop and have an adult conversation about the pros and cons of each brand. And there was nobody dealing it, other than the shops.

A new gestalt, and it was good.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Jane E
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 16:02

I was going to point out that you don't have to pay income tax on income you don't declare, but love23 put in a heap more info connecting the drug trade to the other bully trades.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 16:13

I tried to write a post on this issue, but there are so many tangents it became an impossible pursuit. Exactly why the pollies leave it alone.

Why do most health workers use HIV as an instance when talking about blood borne viruses. Hep C is now the big issue, and the authorities are doing bugger all about it. HIV and AIDS gets the biggest share of funding with almost no infections, and yet Hep C is spreading like myxomatosis in a rabbit colony and gets next to nothing.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 16:18

@MWH: Science is science. There isn't a science of this, and that. You might as well proclaim a science of broccoli. Climate change doesn't have a special set of rules.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. pwinwood
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 16:35

What so many seem to overlook is that the issue is not a problem of supply, but demand. Like it or not, the fact is that a sizeable proportion of the population WANT to obtain and use psycho active drugs. It seems that this is common to all cultures from time immemorial. The simple question is how do we ensure this community need is met with minimal harm broadly. The Government can do what it always does when it wants to control something. Ensure and control supply (quality and strength) and TAX it. Apart from anything else, how much money is currently being surrendered to Organised Crime; some proportion of which could be used for community benefit (including free drug clinics for those who change their mind about drug use).
But where is there a politician ready to take the political backlash that changing the attitudes and practice of decades would entail?
Oddly, it might be that Tony Abbott with an overwhelming majority and a guaranteed two or three terms could (theoretically) be the one. Except of course that Cardinal Pell won't let him!!

Bob Karmin
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 17:25


I'd argue that decriminalisation offers nothing of substance to the address the problems of harm minimisation. You admit as much in the article when you correctly point out harm minimisation already works. I would go further and point out that when it comes to HM, there is very little that can't already be achieved in our society through a well targeted education campaign, discreet medical services and a court system receptive to the notion of rehab. Decriminalisation is a lazy sledgehammer intended to crack a very delicate issue.

Although you may disagree, I think the experience of other countries in this area is of little significance. Particularly when it comes to arguing that criminalisation doesn't work. I'd suggest to you that the Australian social dynamic is not similar to that of Russia or the US. Talking about the perils of drug use is not a taboo in this country either in the home or in the public sphere.

I'd also argue that that you have been selective in your treatment of decriminalisation. It's all good news, with the proviso that the problem (like suicide) will never go away in its entirety. I'd suggest to you that there is a significant downside to decriminalisation and that it further complicates the problem of harm minimisation. This is because decriminalisation may have the potential of exposing the drug trade to full force of the open market. As we have seen too often, well intended policy principles are readily perverted by market forces to serve vested interests. Big Tabacco now fights public health policy in the civil court when it should itself be arguably pursued in the criminal court (if indeed every cigarette is doing you damage).

Ultimately, to get a proper sense of scope of the impact of the drug abuse, you've got get out into the community. Reading international reports just doesn't cut the mustard.

Pay a visit to any emergency ward in any metropolitan city on a Friday or Saturday night. You'll get a chance to observe harm minimisation free market-style, as the place fills up with drink fuelled drama. Ask the doctors on duty what priority they believe should be afforded to decriminalisation.

Also, it is all well an good to draw attention the argument of harm minimisation, but that is only half the story.

I remind you that drug addiction fuels crime. It fuels not only the fancy, organised, 'underbellyesque' sort of crime that we all love and treasure, but drugs are usually the sole 'motive' in the majority of 'everyday' property crime. Robbery. Home invasions. Bag snatching. Car theft.

Maybe when your done at the hospital, make some time to swing by the local court too. Whilst there, you can explain your argument about about the importance of historical trends Sth American government corruption to Berril (62. y.o) who was punched in the face by 19 y.o. heroin user because she wouldn't let go of her handbag at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 17:35


Of course Ben, Old Bob has it right. But only half right. Decriminalisation won't make society any better off, just the drug users, maybe for a while. If Canberra want to go this way but States fear the spin off, let Canberra and its big brother territory, the NT, go it alone while we look on and learn what the benefits are.

My guess is it would be like the alcohol problem some of us see or experience. Alcohol is legal, but the only way for addicts to beat the habit is to stop drinking absolutely. And that is the real problem, how? They can't expect a long and useful life just having the odd one. Free grog won't work either. That usually leads to an untimely end. Most alcoholics are surrounded by 'friends' who cover up for them in a society that permits them to drink on regardless and in many cases pays them a disability pension while they are running downhill. Decriminalising drinking alcohol is not the solution for it already is.

So Bob and Ben, the only way this half thought idea will work is the alcoholic's way, kick out all the props. Stop covering up, stop the pensions, stop being do-gooders to them, but don't stop keeping an eye on them. Then, if they see the light from down in the gutter and decide to change tack, they have a real chance to rejoin society. The other alternative doesn't worry many of these people but at least that way they are not a burden on the rest of society. It is their choice, not Bob Carr's.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. aussiegreg
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 18:53

Drug laws are killers, not just of police and gang-bangers and innocent passers-by when the guns come out but of injecting drug users who overdose because the illegal product is of uncertain purity and therefore of uncertain strength.

If all drugs were legal, doses would be certain (like prescription medications which are also deadly if taken at too high a dose) and overdoses would be rare (as they are with prescription medications).

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 21:15

But how would legalising drugs really help the vicims? Nice to know they would not "overdose" or get aids or hep c. But I would have thought each dose is in fact an overdose? And who would it be pays for their habit then? Us, the poor, silly, silent majority.

The polly who goes this way will have a short career.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Silver Rebel
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 21:32

Silver Rebel

1. Some years ago Canberra was going to commence a heroin trial. The US government sent in a delegation to talk our Federal Government into stopping it going ahead and they succeeded in doing so. Why did our government cowtow??

2. The 'elephant in the room' is alcohol - the most harmful of all drugs and legal. Why is alcohol OK and not other intoxicants.

3. There is a huge industry surrounding drug enforcement especially the prison industry which is becoming more and more privatised and full of vested business interests.

4. Drug use and in particular drug addiction is a health problem. Imagine if all drug law enforcement went into treatment and prevention programs. We would be close to licking the programs.

All drugs should be legalised. No one should be making huge profits from other peoples drug addiction/use. The best way to beat the drug lords and dealers is to decriminalise use. Yes, a total no brainer.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 21:45

Ben Eltham and the "progressive crowd" overlooked one very important thing. Holland tried for many years to relax their drug-laws and allowed many thousands of so-called "coffee-shops" to sell marihuana and hashish, but then found out, that the hard drugs were sold "under the counter" and for the last few years have had to close down lots of those "benign" outlets. To always cave in to people, who just can not live without stimulants is very wrong, as it was shown when the Prohibition was lifted in the U.S. Before the lifting of the ban, the average health of their citizens was much better, than after it was lifted and the carnagage of alcohol has multiplied countless times among the wider community. Before the hare-brained Hippies travelled to countries where drugs were readily available and brought those back to the West, we hardly knew about those dreadful stimulants, but it is obvious, that the modern day generation just is unable to cope without those stimulants and are not happy to just being alive and well. Groups like the Civil Liberatarians and others keep pushing for their agenda for freer life-styles without boundaries and do not care, when the foundations of our society starts to crumble. I feel truly sorry for doctors and their medical staff, with ambulance officers having to cope with drug-addicts, who need assistance and attack them. In my eyes, they should not even have the right to demand medical help, because nobody holds a gun to their heads to demand, that they use drugs in the first place. Our laws should be even stronger to fight the many idiots in our society and for once I am behind Ms. Gillard, when she stated that she was against a relaxation of the existing laws. We do not need any type of stimulant to enjoy our existence on this planet and people who try to push to make drugs legal should have their "brains" checked out by psychiatrists, as legal does not mean, that suddenly less people would use them. In the contrary, like with alcohol, many young children have been "sucked in" by that scourge and will follow the same path with legal drugs. Too much drug money is being used to fund extremists, who love blowing up innocent people and we should think about the repercussions of this mad idea, that we should have to use drugs to get us through the week and party like crazy during the week-ends. It is totally selfish and does not help a healthy society and especially not the many victims of terrorism. Of the approx. one and a half million people in the U.S., who die from preventable death causes, alcohol, drugs and smoking are on the top of the list. Is this truly better, than a "boring" life-style?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. pwinwood
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 00:06

One of the problems people have with getting their head round decriminalisation of narcotic drugs, is that they are NOT dangerous! If you don't believe this you have to do your research in appropriate medical texts. In fact they are far less toxic than the methodone currently used as a substitute.
The fact is that providing it is of known strength and qualilty you can take heroin or morphine all your life without actually damaging your body chemically. True you are addicted but that can be reversed with remarkably ease (Its been done in Israel for years).
I would go so far as to advocate that all these recreational use drugs actually be supplied and sold by Government (grow the poppies in Tasmania)i.e. totally control supply,quality and strength, set an affordable price + a 15% Tax and market it as readily as alcohol is now.
The fact is that then the DRUG PROBLEM GOES AWAY! And along with it the terrible cost of allowing it to remain in criminal hands.
Will someone please explain to me how that situation is WORSE than the current (and last half century) state of affairs? Factually and practically, how is it worse? Then explain away (factually and concisely) the well documented advantages that the Australia 21 panel could see so clearly.
The current war on drugs decriminalisation controversy for the community has nothing to do with drugs. Its about perceptions and its about careers. Notably within the 'drug war' industry. As a previous commentator has correctly observed, that last time Australia thought about dealing with the actual facts of drugs in a sensible war, the FBI sent their no 2 man over to 'strong arm' us out of it. The 'War on Drugs' is far too big a business, particularly in the USA.
But don't worry. Notice how quickly every Goverment minister (apart from courageous Bob Carr) has been to disavow the entire concept of drug reform. I'm sure the Opposition will actually agree with them (for once).

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 01:46

>Within five years there will be a new political party in Australia to do this kind >of stuff.

No need to wait. The Greens are already here and are the fastest growing political party in the country.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. aussiegreg
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 04:42


The victims get to pop into the chemist for their drugs at a tenth or less of present street prices, so they can afford their habit themselves without subsidy from us or committing crimes, and have help instantly on hand when they want to get off them.


The Netherlands tried to be half-pregnant, they should have legalised hard drugs as well.

Many studies have shown that legalising drugs actually leads to a fall in consumption as the "forbidden fruit" allure is taken away, and addicts find it easier to get treatment.

And of course extremists are denied their source of funds for blowing people up since their customers' business depends on drugs being illegal.

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 07:01


The Greens? Hmmmm I wonder if they're not crueled by their naive membership base joining the ranks. I'm thinking more a party of doers. People who have worked and succeeded in various aspects of society.

(and yes I know Bob Brown was a doctor, that's why he had succeeded a little... but the rest - many are flaky)


On a solution to drug supply: the OBVIOUS aspect no one seems to talk about is licensed DEMAND, not supply.

License the users. We require safety inductions to enter a mine or factory, why not a safety induction to use a certain drug?

And yes, this should apply to alcohol and cigarettes. Why not?

People sit a day or 2-day course giving them information on the effect of their drug. Amphetamines will permanently change the risk/reward pathways and take up to 6 months to withdraw from. Ecstasy will disrupt the happiness pathways, and change your memory functions.

Maintain research on these users. Keep improving what we know, and give them annual refresher courses. Give them the results of the tests on THEM and let them know any degradation that has occurred.

Next, only license them for a specific dose level, that they must negotiate with a doctor (like Mandatory Pre-committment for gambling). Receiving a does requires notice in advance to ensure last minute control is not lost, and only planned occasions (like a party or festival) can be accommodated.

There may also be scope to tell employers about usage rates, but this is more controversial and will require broader community acceptance.

Get serious and put the responsibility on the individual, but account for the dangerous and addictive qualities of some drugs - especially on a 'bad day'.

PS If you agree with me PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 07:34

Well said Michael_Wilbur-Ham about the sensible drug decriminalization, real climate change policies etc etc etc of the Greens that are in stark contrast to those of the Liberal-National Party Coalition and the neocon ALP (Another Liberal Party, the Alternative Liberal Party).

Missing from public discussion in look-the-other-way Australia is the impact of the Labor-supported Afghan War on Australia and global opiate drug related deaths. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the US Alliaince invasion and occupation fof Afghanistan rapidly restored the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 to 90% of world market share now.

125,000 people die opiate drug-related deaths each year which means that 100,000 people die such deaths annually due to US Alliance (including Australia) restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan industry, this annual carnage including 360 Australians, 20,000 Americans and 1,800 British.

The pro-war, pro-US imperialism Lib-Labs are complicit in the opiate drug-related deaths of 3,700 Australians, 1 million people world-wide, 200,000 Americans and 18,000 British since 9/11 (for details and documentation see "Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/).

This Lib-Lab- and US Alliance-complicit opiate drug carnage is over 300 times greater than the 3,000 dead on 9-11 ( an atrocity that almost certainly involved the US Government and some experts assert involved the Israelis; see "Experts; US did 9-11": https://sites.google.com/site/expertsusdid911/ ) . Of course the war-related Muslim deaths in the post-9-11 US War on Terror now total about 9 million, half of them children (see "Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide': https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ).

Also forgotten in the public debate about drug policy is the reality that while about 400 Australians die opiate drug-related deaths each year (90% linked to racist, genocidal, Lib-Lab, US and Zionist war policies) , there is a vastly greater carnage due to Lib-Lab-permitted and protected licit drugs: there are about 15,500 smoking-related Australian deaths annually and 3,000 Australians die alcohol-related deaths annually (see Gideon Polya, “Why PM Julia Gillard must go: 66,000 preventable Australian deaths annually”, Countercurrents, 21 February 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya210212.htm ; see also "1 million Americans die preventably each year under racist Neocon & Zionist rule" , Bellaciao, 18 February 2012: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article21696 ).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 09:34

It's not only a shame the way we treat illicit drug users, producers and dealers, it's possibly a violation of human rights.
The evidence points to an ideological, rather than reality-based policies, that so obviously do far more harm than good.
This is highly irresponsible of all the governments who continue to perpetuate these human rights violations.
Alcohol is the only sanctioned drug allowed, denying the users of all other drugs any right to enjoy their drug of choice. This is blatant discrimination and denies the right to a person's choice of drug use. Welcome to the bully state!
The current laws are restrictive, myopic and harsh enough to turn people off their governments and stupid enough to foster disrespect for the way they are treated by their legal authorities, when all they are interested in is getting the equivalent of what to the status quo is 'drunk'.
Drunk with power I say.
Here's to Bob Brown for PM!

Nathan S
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 10:11

For Bob K and grumpyoldman: Decriminialisation is not legalisation.

Dr Dog
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 10:46

There is nothing new here, this discussion has been had to death. It is obvious that drugs should be decriminalised and the focus put on harm reduction.

It is well overdue that politicians and ideological lobbyists stop pretending that science or health or any other practical matter is part of the decision making process when it comes to drugs.

Gilliard did it last night, mouthing platitudes about 'damage' and 'effect on society' in apparent ignorance of the substance of the report she is responding to. It is shameful and once again proves Labor's willingness to hump the leg of the conservatives that hate them regardless.

invig I agree with you 100%. If we legalige we get to regulate, which means not only will users have a better idea of strength and effect but for example dope smokers could have regular check-ups with a phychologist who could register them as not showing any signs of mental illness. The user could bear the cost as part of their drug habit which would be significantly cheaper.

People could choose a drug that suited their specific needs, so that currently aggressive alcohol users may well be better off registered to smoke a joint over the counter at their local hotel than to use alcohol.

The final imperative is the best. We could save billions a year on legal costs whilst reaping massive tax benifits from directly controlling the drug trade. If just a fraction of the funds raised through taxing marajuana could be applied to harm reduction and prevention strategies it would be many times more than we currently spend.

These strategies are proven effective by countless studies and are supported by the vast majority of people who have any genuine connection to the drug use, treatment, law enforcement or education.

Note to the squares. Putting inverted commas around words like progressive makes you look like 'nuts' or 'lunatics'. Yes, Wilhelmus, if your lifestyle is as boring as your politics I would rather be high.

Your lame connection to terrorism is baseless, except in the sense that the war in Afganistan is supporting the herion trade. Your claim that we shouldn't "cave in" to drug users ignores the fact that anti-drug laws are an imposition on user's freedoms, their use is not an imposition on yours.

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 11:25

On 4 April 2012 The academic-based web magazine The Conversation published an article about Australia illicit drug policies by Professor Andrew Jacubowicz (Professor of Sociology and Codirector of Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre at University of Technology, Sydney) https://theconversation.edu.au/back-to-the-future-the-war-on-drugs-we-ne... .

I posted a carefully researched and documented comment on an article in The Conversation about current Australian drug policies but it was subsequently censored out, presumably for containing material The Conversation does not want its readers to read, know about or think about.

The Conversation regularly censors out carefully researched, informed, credentialled comments. I am obligatorily recording such censorship on the website “Censorship by The Conversation”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by ).

This is what The Conversation did not want its readers to read , know about or think about (in contrast New Matilda published near–identical comments):

“Powerful argument for decriminalization as again expertly recommended the other day.

Sadly missing from public discussion in look-the-other-way Australia is the impact of the Labor-supported Afghan War on Australia and global opiate drug related deaths. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the US Alliaince invasion and occupation of Afghanistan rapidly restored the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 to 90% of world market share now.

125,000 people die opiate drug-related deaths each year which means that 100,000 people die such deaths annually due to US Alliance (including Australia) restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan industry, this annual carnage including 360 Australians, 20,000 Americans and 1,800 British.

The pro-war, pro-US imperialism Lib-Labs have been complicit in the opiate drug-related deaths of 3,700 Australians, 1 million people world-wide, 200,000 Americans and 18,000 British since 9/11 (for details and documentation see “Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/).
This Lib-Lab- and US Alliance-complicit opiate drug carnage is over 300 times greater than the 3,000 dead on 9-11 ( an atrocity that almost certainly involved the US Government; see “Experts; US did 9-11”: https://sites.google.com/site/expertsusdid911/ ) and war-related Muslim deaths in the post-9-11 US War on Terror now total about 9 million, half of them children (see “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide’: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ).

Also largely forgotten in the public debate about drug policy is the reality that while about 400 Australians die opiate drug-related deaths each year (90% linked to racist, genocidal, Lib-Lab, US and Zionist war policies) , there is a vastly greater carnage due to Lib-Lab-permitted and protected licit drugs: there are about 15,500 smoking-related Australian deaths annually and 3,000 Australians die alcohol-related deaths annually (see Gideon Polya, “Why PM Julia Gillard must go: 66,000 preventable Australian deaths annually”, Countercurrents, 21 February 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya210212.htm ; see also “1 million Americans die preventably each year under racist Neocon & Zionist rule” , Bellaciao, 18 February 2012: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article21696 ).”

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 11:47

Dr Dog,

Thanks for the comment. I would like to admit my own history of addiction to amphetamines, and so have some idea of what I am talking about. I would have loved the system I proscribed, as it would have made my arc of addiction shorter and less harmful. For so many reasons.


This is not an academic article. Introduce your subject, expand on it, conclude it. References can be embedded using html. Look it up. Learn how to use it.

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 12:02

When prohibition and criminalization are not effective,then alternative policies have to be tried. Then really goes for any issue.

We are winning ever so slowly the war on smoking although smoking will never totally cease.

@pwinwood make the pertinent point: it's all about reducing the demand for recreational drugs of dependency. Maybe that can be best achieved through prescription and medical supervision. If there is no longer any demand, or any worthwhile demand, organized crime will no longer consider it worthwhile to supply.

But as @Love23 quite rightly pointed out, they will find other areas where organized crime pays and will concentrate on those.
It is frightening to read that the biggest business in Italy is the Mafia with a turnover of 140billion (I don't know whether that is $ or Euro) and a profit of 100billion, and of course, all tax-free.

Pollies, business leaders, do-gooders and what have you got, all pride themselves of our globalized one world. When will this one world join forces to put an end to organized crime, reduce it, marginalize it, then end it.
I think Nature has to create a new Homo something (follow-on from homo sapiens) first before that can happen.

David Grayling
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 13:41

What really irks me about this article is the photograph of Bob Carr.

There he was as Premier locking up drug users and dealers as fast as he could and now, ten years later, he's righteously calling for the exact opposite.

Not only that but he's supposed to be the Foreign Minister (even though he has no experience at all and should be on training wheels)!

I'm reminded of Gareth Evans when I see Bob Carr. He was another towering know-all who was turned on by a microphone!

Between Tony, Julia and Bob, Australia is in terminal decline!


Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 14:46

Not the bit surprising to see Big Julie say NAY to any de-criminilisation of drugs last night. She is a reactionary, and did a knee-jerk, the jerk she is! There will be no consideration of this report by the Gillard Government. We can be assured of that.
And yes, the Australian Greens have had a drug de-criminilisation policy for many moons, but I also note that this fact is used as an axe to hew down the party at every chance by the thugs in the Right Wing Press and their pollie followers. So much so that even some of the more forthright speakers in the Greens has been pretty much silenced. You can be hit about the head with stupidity only so much.
Possibly the biggest win for de-criminilisation would be the removal of so much organised crime. I think the War on Drugs has cost the USA trillions of dollars, but this fades into obscurity when you consider the lives lost to the gang violence in Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and other places where the drug Consortiums mass and kill. Oar the USA, where the majority of people in prison are there for drug related 'crimes'. Where there are more prisons built each year than hospitals. Where Private Enterprise runs the prison and works hard to ensure that no one upsets this cozy relationship.
If Governments were to take in hand the growing, the distribution and sale of Mary Jane (at the least) so much crime would just disappear, so much money would be saved, so much money would then go to Government coffers, where it could be used to minimise harm from drugs.
But I know, the Right Wing Press, the Religionists, the Rabbit -mob, are already slavering, and Big Julie and her mob of no-hopers are running as fast as they can in the LauranOrder direction.
There will be no intelligence and common sense shown in Australia. Very rarely is, these days.
And as for Europe, it was generally the incoming Right Wing Governments who started rapidly back-pedalling on drug reform, to calm their nutty backers. It was NOT shown that any of the reforms had not worked, or were proving problematical.
It was just a knee-jerk, just like Gillard, just like Yap Yap in Queensland wiping out 10 years of effort to give something to writers in Queensland in one fell swoop, for a lousy 1/4 of a million dollars. Seems when these Troglodytes regain power, they go back about 30 years to previous policies they they had in when last in power, and bring them back. For them, the world has not moved on, not one little bit.
Poor Fellow, My Country!

Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 15:21

Pwinwood, you quote that drugs are NOT dangerous etc. etc. Thus the many babies born with withdrawal symptoms and everything that the medical profession experiences with drug-addicts are just fairy-tales? Why do you think, that druggies are put on methadone to try to wean them off the real drugs?
Aussiegreg, "many studies etc. etc. as the forbidden fruit allure etc. etc.
Are these studies done by the same type of "experts", who decided that D.D.T. was causing cancer in humans and had it banned in 1972 with the result, that some 58 to 78 million people have died from malaria and typhus? The W.H.O. now had to admit, that there is not one proof of such allegations and only deem D.D.T. a "probable" cause of cancer in humans!The legalisation of alcohol did not stop people from acquiring a taste of that including too many young children and history shows, that when the Caucasians started to introduce alcohol to indigenous peoples here in Australia among the Aborigines and the Americas under the American Indians and Eskimos, whole tribes became slaves to the scourge. Or perhaps "professors" like Tim Flannery and his ilk decided to make up these "studies"? Keeping the "forbidden fruit" will ensure, that only certain groups can get their hands on it, but making it legal, will enable too many gullible/stupid people to sample it for the sake of being one of the crowd and cave in to peer-pressure. I know, that I am not part of the "trendy" and "intelligent" elite, but I am proud to be just one of the ordinary persons with much common sense, who detests the increasing number of "gate-crashings" of parties, or just endless partying that cause so much damage to property and health of the participants and cause hospitals to become over-crowded.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. pwinwood
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 16:16

Wilhelmus. 'Common Sense' is rarely common, and frequently not sense as your letter indicates.
I repeat, narcotic drugs of known strength and pharmaceutical quality are NOT dangerous to health other than to cause CHEMICAl addiction which can be reversed in a week (the SOCIAL addiction might be something else I acknowledge).
Your rambling letter seems to be a totally unfocussed criticism of anything vaguely empirical (scientific) as a means of guiding behaviour. Very well, what are you going to but in it's place?
The current situation of non-management of drugs in society simply results in the WORST of all possible outcomes, combined.
Continuing to support it; that's insanity.
But we do not have polical leaders who goven in the best interests of the nation, but in their own political (career) interests. And there's not a 'cigarette paper thickness' difference between any of them them. (And Yes Wilhelmus, that is a gross and unsubstantiated exageration, but I'm CROSS).

David Grayling
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 16:25

Marga, yours is an insightful comment, sadly a rare event on this forum.

You talk about needing a Neo-Human, one that replaces the current model which is filled with so many flaws it is dangerous.

What we need is a Neo-Human that actually is intelligent, one that is not driven by greed and lust and love of violence, one that is not filled with conceit and self-love.

The question is: will the Neo-Human emerge before the human race destroys itself trying to fulfill some religious nonsense about a Second Coming.

This is the million dollar question!


This user is a New Matilda supporter. aussiegreg
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 18:48

That's a bad link, @jcleeland.

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 08:41

Politicians frequently come up with public policy positions that are much more "statesmanlike" after they retire and stop focusing on winning elections.

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 08:42

@fightmumma. Where are you? Easter holiday break? Exam season?

Dr Dog
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 09:10

Do you have any children David and Marga? Perhaps we could set up some sort of breeding program (consensual of course) with other NM respondants.

Sadly I think we are doomed to failure. The primate self can only change so much from the original model, a brawling, dangerous and sneaky creature with an impressive facility to conceptualise that sometimes tricks us into thinking we can remake reality.

But one sniff of the wrong pheremone, or a perceived threat to our children or authority and we revert straight back to the snarling ape.

Our self appointed silverback, Wilhelmus, seems happy for our children to inhale DDT but will fight to the death to stop them inhaling THC. What a miserable position based entirely on his own sense of infallibility.

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 09:19

"last year’s Word Drugs Report estimated a total of 210 million drug users worldwide"

I think it should be clarified that "drugs" here seems to mean "non-pharmaceutical opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana", i.e. those drugs that law enforcement tends to focus on in western countries, and so excludes psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, etc.), chat, kava, betel, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc., as well as drugs which are produced by pharmaceutical companies but widely abused, such as oxycodone, benzodiazepines, etc., "designer" drugs which are commonly sold in nightclubs such as GHB, mephedrone, methelone, and less common drugs of abuse like PCP.

If you count all psychoactive drugs I would guess the true figure would be a lot closer to six billion than 200 million.

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 22:10

thomasee73...yes I'm still here with my bum glued to a squeaky swivel chair studying body image and eating disorders - ironically connected to the psychologies behind drug abuse too...

well, you asked for it, so technically its your fault not mine...

ok, first I'd like to get this off my chest (all DD of it)...

If any bastard sells my kids drugs legally or not...I'll first use my left hand to firmly grasp him/her/it by the throat, raise my right arm forming the hand into a fist and proceed to execute several straight rights, followed up with some elbow blows a la thai kickboxing style and concluding with collecting up his/her/its drugs and inserting them a la enema style where the sun don't shine...


now I feel better...shouldn't drink so such coffee should I? (another unhealthy but socially acceptable and freely available drug)...

now for some rationality (hopefully)...

1) Figures for needle exchange - these support discussions about reducing HIV not drug use and associated OTHER issues such as psychosocial complexities of drug dependency and self harm

2) Figures on other nations decriminalising drugs support WHAT? Does this provide discerning readers a cross-sectional view of life in these countries as experienced by members of the population? NO it doesn't? Does it highlight crime, assault, domestic abuse, neglect of children, health...and the ramifications of freely available drugs in these domains - no it doesn't - these are already impacted by other social disease in our society such as alcohol abuse and gambling...logic demands this will flow over into drug use even if legalised...

3) Comments about taxpayer funded policies channelled into the law enforcement area are not surprising - our politicians know how to play their game. Please the majority of voters...make Mr Ozzy Citizen FEEL safe...police, prisons, drug dogs, announcing record seized drug weights through a covert drug operation on the 5 o clock news...makes one feel SO safe... "hey...let's call it a "War", yeah that sounds ominous..that'll make Ms Average pleased with the potency of her vote...

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 22:27

4) reeks of carbon tax and pokies "reforms" (am I "nuts" or a "lunatic" yet Dr Dog?...actually don't answer that) (though my cat who is currently "killing" a plastic bag might be...)they all LOOK good on paper, all sound like they'll do something...the pollies think "hey, let's make a tax, let's give it great marketable jargon, use some sciency sounding names, hitch some dr or professor to it...yeah that always looks good...gee we're on fire with this drug problem...(cue the Indiana Jones theme tune). Also reminds me of Redfern and Palm Island riots - don't listen to the people and their REAL worried...police brutality, deaths in custody...nar...MORE POLICE PRESENCE...yeah that sounds SO GOOD...

5) BEN - you can't spend your article mostly about drug laws and then suddenly do an amateurish commentary on the woes of drug use, suicide, self harm... what were you thinking?!! These are multidimensional, complex issues...very poor reporting/commentary for once Ben...and to the poster who had no compassion for people struggling with addiction - shame on you - these are PEOPLE you are talking about, someone's son or daughter, someone's partner, someone's parent...grow a heart...grrrr

6) Carr simply needed his MUG on tv in the public consciousness as much as possible and what better way than to sound "progressive" (:-P to you Dr D) and SOUND different to conservative budgie smuggling, cycle jock rashing Abbott???

7) Denise - WTF? Let's NOT trample all over the "human rights" of fucking paedifiles and allow them to sodomise little children too hey? Or allow human traffickers and sex slave owners to keep up business - it would be impinging on their human rights to deny them making a buck anyway they want...seriously you need to consider the definition, origins and applications for "human rights" and get in the real world!

8) Dr Dog - WTF? abuse of drugs is an imposition on ME and MY family if they shoot up. snort, smoke drugs and then get behind the wheel of a car and kill my family, or go insane and smash my home/sports club or attack me while I'm minding my own business chugging a bourbon and busting a move on a dance floor - that happens whether drugs are decriminalised or not dude...

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 22:40

9) statistics on drug use, obesity, eating disorders, gambling, alcohol abuse, unemployment, debt, homelessness, suicide...are ALL on the rise...WHY????????? Oh..let's just focus blindly, with closed compartmentalised mind on ONE issue, throw police and taxpayers money on it and it will go away...or make drugs freely available and it will all go away...anyone else see the stupidity in this or should I be throwing out my coffee plunger??

10) Ben you are wrong - we CAN do plenty about it and I don't believe in predestination of your doomsday "simply human propensity" bull shit, it just takes more effort, more collective participation, less bureaucracy - all too hard for our neo-liberal bureaucratic conservative politicians who believ we live in an economy rather than a society...no wonder they constantly give us tits on bulls...

Dr Dog
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 07:01

As you say fightmumma, these things will happen regardless. I am not advocating for a change in traffic law, no-one should use anything and drive, and it is sadly impossible to legislate against dance floor stupidity.

But as you say, this happens while you are chugging down a bourbon so you must be aware of the tenuous nature of your position. Would you similarly threaten someone who sells your child a bourbon in a pub after their 18th birthday. I suggest not, because you are comfortable with the regulatory regime around booze, despite the evidence that alcohol is a powerful and damaging drug.

Insanity is less likely under the regulated use I wrote about above, so your sports club would be safer in a drug regulated environment. In terms of the safety of your children I suggest the reduction in criminality associated with use would make them, and us all, safer.

My comment to Wilhelmus was at a more philosophical level though, in the sense that genuine liberty includes making informed choices about what we do with our bodies. These choices may be good for us, but I don't know anyone who only makes those choices.

In this sense the law seeks to impose a limit on that liberty, for the good of others, and therefore the law imposes on the user. The user doesn't impose on the non-using citizen in that they don't tell the non-user what to put in their body.

That doesn't mean that the user isn't responsible for their actions, straight or high. Nor does it imply that we don't try to change people's lives so they will not need to abuse drugs.

Wilhelmus particularly seems to take a moral perspective to his advocacy to keep or increase the penalties for drug use. Like the laws themselves the moral approach is ineffective and oppressive.

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 07:48

Well...NOW you are talking Dr Dog!! And yes, if one of my kids gets handed extreme amounts of alcohol and gets killed in a car accident or bashed on the street til he's a vegetable - I WILL still find the bastard and make him/her/it PAY...I am very much NOT usually a violent or vengeful person...but don't mess with my kids

I actually never mentioned if I think drugs should be legalised or not. I used my references of my own coffee and alcohol use to prove a bit of a hint...our laws identify and address issues with the application of different values and standards. IF (and that's a big if) the figures can show improved circumstances around legalising drugs AND around the overall well being of communities (which Ben DIDN'T do in this article)this would be promising as a correlation type act, to support intelligent decision making about legalising drugs. Legalising it doesn't reduce its effects on the body OR address the issue of WHY people seek it to self destructive extents.

There are already so may self destructive behaviours...you can develop anorexia nervosa and starve yourself to death, you can drink alcohol til you kill your liver, you can sleep around and catch a deadly disease, you can drive your car irresponsibly, you can become obese or never exercise and develop all those baddies like hearts disease, dibetes, stroke...none of those are illegal activities...

Yes aussiegreg, making drugs more standardised like medical drugs might improve quality, but there are a lot of problems with over-the-counter drug addiction too OR with mixing drugs as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and our own lovely young male actor whose name escapes my grey matter at the moment...and I thought you needed to keep having more and more to gain the same hit...which is why people end up over-dosing isn't it? Wouldn't companies end up with legal battles too as people (as with cigarettes) start attacking the makers of the stuff to shift personal responsibility...accountability for health risks?

We already have problems with alcohol abuse, gambling and cigarettes on a society level, legal substances making massive profits and reaping in LOTS of tax dollars. Probably the closest most comparable example we have of what to do is prohibition...and that one more supports legalisation I reckon. If it is in the open it can be discussed and examined more deeply, freely and honestly, we remove the power, status and control of criminal organisations as well...

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 09:21

A world where people could buy speed and ice at a corner shop cheaply – no thanks! I think it would be a terrifying place to live. After a few years you would be looking back at the days when someone in your street used to get broken into every few years and you had to deal with the occasional sniffer dog at a train station as some kind of paradise.

The figures for violence associated with alcohol are bad because it is so cheap and readily available but give someone who is a violent drunk amphetamines instead and see how you like that. At least a violent drunk is slow and somewhat uncoordinated. And that is just a short term result; imagine what living in a town full of people with drug induced psychosis.

Also, it seems to be the assumption somehow that making drugs readily available will somehow mean LESS consumption. Have a look at what happened in the USA in those times when Meth was readily available in a pure form. They had a massive epidemic. IF you make this stuff available you will just make half the population addicts because these things work directly on the reward centers of your brain. That’s why people take them.

OK I have been talking about stronger drugs here but you make dope readily available to adults and it will also become readily available to teenagers the same way that alcohol is now. There is plenty of evidence that cannabis damages memories and causes learning difficulties in school age children. So then you have teen dropouts roaming around going through people’s houses simply because they are not properly socialised yet and the fear factor is a big drawcard. Given that I doubt that you would even get a reduction in petty theft.

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 11:10

I get the impression reading the above that this is the reason Lauran Order Governments get so much support in their insane approach to drug laws.
Fightmumma, please step back and have a look at yourself. Your attitude, although understandable from one very narrow perspective, is the same that keep building more and more prisons, that keeps making more and more draconian laws to bind us.
Drug taking is a disease, and should be treated as a Health problem, NOT a reason to make more draconian laws, to put more in prison, to criminalise a great majority of our youth.
Even you seem to acknowledge that excessive consumption of alcohol, gambling to the point of blowing your life, smoking cigarettes is a human addictive behaviour problem, and should be treated as such. To take your point of view further, it would seem that you would throw all those who drink, gamble and smoke to excess in prison for years. I smell fire and brimstone, a religious zeal, screaming and thumping from the church pulpit, even vengeance on all who would even think of doing any of these things.
Now, I may have read you, wrong, but that is the impression I got.
A very vengeful person, no turning another cheek here, no Christian mercy here, just slam 'em all away in durance vile for the terms of their natural lives, because they have a problem with a human affliction. Oh dear!
We have, the world over, an incredibly societal problem. The human brain and body can no longer cope with the stresses of our now fast paced lifestyle. We are hit with advertisements at every turn to eat more, smoke more, drink more, play more, play harder, because we do not seem to be able to or want to control the mainly American corporations who are making money out of our weaknesses.
The USA is in it's death throes. The whole of the society over there is corrupt, violent, and essentially unmanageable. Of course, it will last a few more years, and in that time, it will take us with it to perdition, because our gutless Governments have tied us so closely to their apron strings.
I still wonder at the barefaced gall of World Media totally ignoring the fact that it was American Banks and financial institutions, let loose in a mad rush to the bottom of a barrel, who kept on pushing for European banks to follow their lead and go totally mad. The USA is now pretty much bankrupt, Europe is well on the way to being the same, and yet we still get so much guff about how wonderful America is from our Media and pollies.
America has had its War on Drugs - it failed terribly, at a horrible cost in lives lost and destroyed, as well as money. But we seem to be still on the same band-wagon.
Mindless, thoughtless, follow the bloody leader over the cliff.
America privatised it's prisons - we privatised our prisons. The same people now own the damned lot, making billions out of our human frailties. No Government should ever privatise prisons. Or water, or air or human services.
Do those who want to throw most of our youth in gaol (privately owned, for profit) really believe this could possible be an answer to a problem. No, but they do not want to think, it is easier to make a knee jerk reaction. Right Wing Governments just love these people, and there are so many of them to vote for their favourite LauraNOrder pusher.
Poor Fellow, My Country!

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 11:26

Dazza of course NO! You ought to know me better by now my friend!! Read no's 3) and 4) again mate - that was sarcasm on my part... I was trying to say that that approach (expanding law enforcement) is entirely ineffective in addressing the problem because they don't even look at the real problems..they just want to look good for voters...as they do with dealing with drug problems
You did read me the wrong way - ME - a religious zealot - don't make me laugh!!

This user is a New Matilda supporter. aussiegreg
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 15:29


Good to see you back on these boards and living up to your username, although I doubt splitting your post into five sequential smaller chunks will satisfy those who object to such lengthy contributions. But of course we can blame @thomasee73 for distracting you from your studies so you brought that thesis-writing energy with you. ;-)

You ask me whether the addict's need to keep increasing the dose to get the same hit is the cause of overdoses and the answer is no, it isn't. Look at all the doctors who are heroin addicts (and there are an astonishingly large number of them) who have access to pure and dose-predictable heroin -- not a single accidental overdose (and only the occasional suicide by deliberate OD). And purity is a lot of the reason your own doctor could be a heroin addict and you be none the wiser -- the chemicals which are used on the street to cut pur heroin to an unpredictable and therefore possibly deadly dose are also often toxic, damaging the addict's physical health in a way pure heroin never will.

You are of course right that over-the-counter medications are already a source of addiction for the Heath Ledgers of this world, and that they choose those mind-altering substances because they are legal, even if doctor-shopping for multiple prescriptions may not be. And if illegal drugs become legal and are regulated in the same way, the Heath Ledgers of this world may well switch to them -- heroin will be much cheaper at the chemist than oxycodone, for example. And yes, Big Pharma will attract the wowser brigade once it starts manufacturing snow and ice. But isn't this a vastly smaller and less deadly social problem than gun battles on the street, endless house-breakings etc, corrupt police and judges and politicians, and loss of respect for a legal system that criminalises pleasure?

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - 17:57

The elephant in the room is that most of us like taking mind altering substances for recreational purposes. We do it in differing degrees, and we handle it in different ways, and some of us end up having problems with it.

The most dangerous drug of all is alcohol. It's legal. Maybe less people would have problems with alcohol if it was illegal and you had to take a risk and buy dangerous backyard quality alcohol which possibly might make you blind, or kill you.

Another dangerous drug, with not so much in the way of pleasant mind altering effects is tobacco. Again, it's legal, but we're moving it towards illegality. And we can see that the hindrances we are putting in the way of using and purchasing tobacco have worked very successfully. The question to ask, is does anybody think making tobacco illegal would be more effective?

Already, with tobacco, we see rising incidences of illegal tobacco sales. It's surely considered a greenfield product by various underground organisations who make money out of this sort of stuff.

There comes a tipping point, I believe, where you can keep substances legal, but make them difficult and socially unacceptable enough to strike a balance between use and safety.

The manner in which we have dealt with marijuana, heroin, and various other drugs is too far beyond that tipping point - in my opinion. I don't know anyone who thinks tobacco use is a good thing for society or for individuals. But I also don't know anyone who seriously thinks it should be illegal.

So why would we treat other drugs any differently? If we can cope with telling children that tobacco is illegal, but it's also something they shouldn't do why are we not able to do the same with other substances that are banned?

The political problem, I believe, is that to decriminalise these substances now looks like backpedaling. And we don't have the sort of mature political institutions in Australia (I count the media in this) that can cope with sensible evidence based backpedaling. The reactionary right would leap on it with guns blazing, and they'd be supported by the mainstream media. It would be political suicide for any political party.

Shame, really, because so many people's lives could be improved if we changed the laws. And so much money could be redirected from the black economy to the legitimate economy. And I'd be able to have more sensical discussions with my children about the use of drugs.

Posted Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 08:02

aussiegreg - of course Heath Ledger!! I dunno about what would happen to the current drug profiteers tho...they might punish customers who buy from chemists by killing/bashing, they might be forced into new areas of crime to still make a profit? As you know, there is a balance in this world and nature hates a vacuum...
jcleeland - yes this is true - there is a double standard. I have fun already trying to explain to my kids why a deadly thing like cigarettes are legal...they think it doesn't make sense. But I just teach them personal responsibility and about consequences...to their own self and to family/community.