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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Editorial: Pill testing not enough

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Aslan Shand, acting editor

Governments around the world are out of step with advice from experts on how to tackle illegal and recreational drug use. From the police to border control and health experts, the call has been going out long, loud, and clear: drug policy needs to be rethought. The ‘hard on drugs’ approach isn’t working.

The recent report commissioned by the Western Australian government asked experts from across the fields of science, medicine, and policing for recommendations on how to deal with the WA drug crisis. Yet once again the Labor government rejected the report’s call for a major rethink on drug policy, according to the ABC.

The report stated, ‘There needs to be a comprehensive public consideration of the ways we treat currently illegal drugs in our community, which recognises the limitations of criminalisation and imprisonment of drug users and considers alternative non-prohibition models’.

Most have tried drugs

The reality is that the majority of people have tried, or know someone who has tried, an illegal substance at some point in their lives. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of senior high-school students have taken an illegal drug.

For the majority of people who have tried or continue to take illegal substances, this is not a problem. For most, a toke on a joint, a line of coke, or a little bit of MDMA isn’t an issue – they still have highly functional lives and continue to contribute to society.

In fact they are your politicians, doctors, lawyers, police, financial advisers, local business owners, and the myriad of other people you interact with and trust on a day-to-day basis. And there’s no reason that your trust in them should change; they are not about to do anything that will damage you or your relationship with them. They are not drug addicts. After all, not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic.

Addiction can come in many forms, from sex and gambling to drugs and more. Let’s call on our politicians to stop pandering to the imaginary majority, as they did when they had a referendum on abortion in Ireland and gay marriage here in Australia. Let’s call for both our drug-taking and non-drug-taking politicians to make all drugs legal and safe to use.

The benefit of this shift in mindset on drugs will bring a multi-billion-dollar industry within government control. This will save lives, not only by eliminating contaminated drugs, but also by undermining the role of violent, lawless drug cartels. It will ensure we can shift drug policy out of the sphere of law enforcement and into health, so that people with a drug addiction can get the help they need when they need it.

As Tom Lloyd, former chief constable of Cambridgeshire police and international drugs policy adviser, told the British Home Affairs select committee drug conference in 2015: ‘If you don’t have a drug problem then the last thing you need is a conviction; if you do have a drug problem then the last thing you need is a conviction.’

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  1. The ‘hard on drugs’ approach is working extremely well if you are a beneficiary of the 3rd largest industry on the planet; illicit drugs. If the aim is a reduction of availability then it’s a massive fail. No matter how big the busts they claim there is never a shortage of supply. Research suggests less than 2% of all trafficked drugs are ever seized.
    Prohibition is a massively remunerative fraud.

  2. it’s instructive to see how prohibition turned out in the US (1920/33). When it finally came to an end more people were drinking alcohol than when it started, and organised crime had become a huge industry which had corrupted the police force. History is repeating itself!


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