Hans Lovejoy, editor
While the NSW government grapples with perhaps the worst state budget deficit ever this week – along with neverending scandals revolving around their lack of a moral compass, greed and hubris – there’s a bill making its way through Parliament that should concern those interested in the neverending and ridiculous ‘war on drugs’.
The Drug Supply Prohibition Order Pilot Scheme Bill 2020 [NSW] was recently introduced to parliament, which if passed, would allow a police officer ‘to stop, detain and search a person… who has been convicted of a serious drug offence, without the requirement for a warrant’.
As it’s a pilot scheme, the presumption of guilt and lack of basic civil rights would apply to those living in Bankstown Police Area Command and the Coffs-Clarence, Hunter Valley and Orana Mid-Western Police Districts.
The NSW Law Society told The Guardian that if passed, it could lead to people previously convicted of lower-level drug offences being harassed by police. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said in their submission that the 10-year period within which police can apply for an order may, ‘have the unintended impact of interfering with rehabilitation efforts’.
By contrast, in the wake of the US election, the state of Oregon decriminalised the possession of small amounts of hard drugs: cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamines.
According to www.washingtonpost.com, marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 2015, and ‘Oregon also joined the District of Columbia in decriminalising psychedelic mushrooms’.
The November 5 report reads, ‘Proponents of decriminalisation say it offers a remedy to a costly campaign that has done little to improve society but has wreaked havoc on minority communities’.
The Post continues, ‘In favouring rehabilitation over incarceration, proponents say the measure prevents recovering drug users from being stigmatised by employers, lenders and landlords for years — and gives them the ability to pull themselves out of a cycle of drug-related criminality’.
‘We have been criminalising people for at least 50 years, and what we know is that it hasn’t gotten us any closer to having our loved ones get the care that they need, at the scale that it requires’, said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, which spent more than $4 million backing the Oregon measure. ‘Criminalisation is not a deterrent to use, and it’s not a humane approach’.
According to www.oregon.gov, in its first year (2016), the state reaped $73m in marijuana state tax.
It’s unclear how clamping down endlessly on drug users improves social outcomes. But taxing Oregon’s supply sure does pay well.