Firstly, Australian prohibition on the use of illicit drugs has failed miserably. I mean, every year 400 Australians die from illicit drug use, while others suffer the consequences; unsafe injecting practices, infection— HIV. Cocaine use has increased by 27% and cannabis by 8.5%. The list goes on. There’s a problem? So why hasn’t the government come up with viable solution?
The point is, the government is looking at this through a completely jaded lens. It’s a social issue. It’s not a criminal one.
Let’s look at the main facts:
- By making the supply of illicit drugs illegal, production and consumption have been driven underground. Facilitating the development of a criminal industry.
- Drugs such as heroin have beneficial medical uses. In Zurich, heroin uses decreased from 850 in 1990 to 150 in 2002. A direct result of the implementation of prescribed heroin. See, treatment does work.
- The cost of this problem is $8.2 billion (04-05).
- Our current policy is based on three points. Supply reduction, demand reduction, harm reduction. With a heavy, heavy emphasis on criminalisation.
The fact is. This. Isn’t. Working. The National Drug Strategy is heavily focused on legislation and punishment, although this obviously has had little success. So much money is being poured into catching offenders, often first time offenders with hardly any cannabis in their pockets, (can you imagine? Get caught with a little pot and your employment opportunities plummet, travel, gone…). It’s pretty irritating, we spend so much money on the prohibition of drugs, but we have some of the highest rates of drug use in the world. Come on, the problem almost hits you in the face.
How about the government re-open the debate to Australian society? It’s a big issue, so why aren’t we involved? It affects us, so why aren’t we asked?
There are so many options to reduce this problem, “prescription controls, pharmacy controls, taxation, and licensing producers, wholesalers and retailers. None is likely to ever completely eliminate the black market but all offer a good chance of reducing substantially the size of the black market” (Australia 21: 2012). At least this is a step in the right direction! Enough legislation slapping, try inciting social change.
Check out more on the issue, read the Australia 21 report:
Visit Australia21, http://www.australia21.org.au/publications/press_releases/Australia21_Illicit_Drug_Policy_Report.pdf
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