Adam Vink, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, UQ
In response to the torrent of articles regarding the anti-drug efforts at Splendour and the blanket police presence utilised, I’d have to say the taxpayers’ dollar is being poorly used. The whole event is a perfect example of just how the war on drugs is a futile effort and until drug prohibition is re-evaluated, and misguided youth, like me, are educated in safe, sensible drug use the money is just going to burn quicker.
Let’s do some statistics. 730 people and 30 cars were searched, with 421 of those people found to be in possession of drugs that are currently illegal.
That means at least 50 per cent of people searched were carrying drugs. Roughly 20,000 people attended the festival. If we only assume 25 per cent of people were in possession of illegal drugs that leaves more than 4,500 people at the festival in possession of unregulated, possibly dangerous substances.
Wouldn’t it be better if those people got their stuff from a reliable source, like a legal pharmaceuticals company? And wouldn’t it make sense to teach them how to use the drugs safely, like we do with the standard drinks system, instead of letting them guess and hope?
In an NBN News article (‘Hundreds Caught with Illegal Drugs at Splendour in the Grass’, July 30) Tweed/Byron Local Area Commander, Superintendent Stuart Wilkins reportedly said, ‘We were kept busy over the four days but once again drug- and alcohol-related incidents dominated our time… this culture of drug-taking at music events needs to stop!’
Now, I’ve read plenty about the alcohol-related violence and brawling but nothing about the violence fuelled by illegal drugs, and especially not by people getting stoned.
I say, give the police a break. They don’t need to be wasting their time busting people just because they’re carrying illicit substances. Why not teach them how to use the drugs sensibly, just like we do with alcohol and eliminate the cause, instead of constantly fighting the problem?
Furthermore, Stuart Wilkins is asking for a miracle. The drug culture isn’t going anywhere and, again, Splendour in the Grass is a perfect example of that.
Let’s say the police did manage to completely eliminate the guilty 50 per cent of attendees and the whole event was drug free. Will those people go next year? I doubt it. More likely, they’ll all find a new festival where the police force is less overwhelming, continue to enjoy music while passing the doobie and Splendour in the Grass will become just another binge-drinking exercise instead of the fun and friendly hippy festival we all know and love.
I sincerely believe in the goodness and wisdom of us, the human race. I really do. But examples of large-scale drug war like this still have the ability to make me second-guess myself. I believe the key is education. Teach the people to self-moderate, be safe and be responsible when under the influence, because no matter how hard the police try, people will take drugs.