Nimbin-based campaigners for cannabis law reform say this week’s crime data report backs up mounting evidence the war on drugs is a lost cause, but political leaders won’t admit to it.
The Australian Crime Commission’s (ACC) Illicit Drug Data Report says a record number of illicit drugs was seized in 2010–11. The bulk of that, or more than 70 per cent, was cannabis, which accounted for 70 per cent of all arrests.
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party president Michael Balderstone said the ACC report’s statistics ‘back up everything the Australia21 Futures Committee said last month’.
His comments follow a major public forum held last night in Sydney, which debated whether the government should decriminalise drugs, and HEMP’s 20th annual MardiGrass law reform rally in Nimbin last month, which stepped up calls for decriminalisation, especially of medical cannabis.
The Australia21 committee, which included experts on the issue such as former federal police chief Mick Palmer and former NSW premier Bob Carr before he was appointed to the Senate, declared the costly battle against drugs a failure and called for a national debate on ending prohibition.
‘The war on drugs is lost, our leaders just won’t admit it. They need to address the issue and get over their fear of losing votes if the subject is put on the table,’ Mr Balderstone said.
‘As former High Court Judge Michael Kirby said this week, illegal drug use should be above political point scoring and all sides of politics needs to be game to discuss this burning issue.
‘Locally we will not give up following our request for our local politicians to have a public forum for “the conversation” the Australia21 report asked us to have.
‘What an incredible waste of police resources. Chasing a herb that has been used for as long as human records exist and still never managed to kill anyone – unlike the war declared on it.
‘It’s hard to believe, with all the statistics we now have, that we just keep on the same ridiculous, dismal wheel of prohibition. Plus, whatever they are seizing amounts to around 10 per cent of actual consumption the police themselves say, though how would they know? It’s like a bad dream we refuse to wake up from.
‘Cannabis is the easy and safe bust for police. It’s smelly and bulky and virtually everyone ingests it by smoking, which is a total giveaway compared to slipping a pill down. And it’s so easy for police to bust dreamy potheads rather than irascible drunks or raging iceheads.
‘So why do we keep plodding along this wheel of failure Who’s driving it? The old reefer madness was relit by Howard and Co but who fed them the lies?
‘Pharmaceutical companies stand to lose the most if we set free the weed anyone can grow in their backyard, but the alcohol industry too.
‘Early statistics from America indicate medical cannabis dispensaries in your suburb results in a drop in alcohol use and car accidents.
‘Or is the fear of decriminalising us hippies a bigger admittance that they got it wrong? Not just on the drug war, but solar power, permaculture, health food and all the other new-age wisdom that arrived, coincidentally, with the use of cannabis.’
Last night’s public forum at the University of Sydney was organised by The Sydney Morning Herald, in conjunction with Sydney Ideas.