- Drugs are dangerous, but our current approach maximises their risk. We need control and oversight to protect users and minimise the harm done to society in general.
- Legal regulation will ensure that users receive the safest possible product, with professional advice and information to guide their behaviour. They will be more aware, not less, of the dangers posed by their choice to take drugs.
- ‘The Iron Law of Prohibition’ dictates that a substance will tend to increase in potency when outlawed, as criminals attempt to evade law enforcement and get the best possible return for their efforts. Examples include alcohol prohibition in the US, which saw whisky and moonshine supersede beer; or the emergence of crack-cocaine in the 1980s; and now the increasing prevalence of fentanyl as an alternative or additive to heroin. This trend is a significant cause of death by overdose and other adverse health outcomes.
- Prohibition encourages drug consumption in unsafe environments and by dangerous means. A good example is intravenous drug use, whose grave risks necessitate sterile equipment and, preferably, medical supervision.
- Taking drugs without knowing their exact contents is highly dangerous, but commonplace in the current environment. As a consequence, when a user does become unwell, medical professionals often have great difficulty treating them because they have no idea what they ingested.
- Further to placing the drug trade outside regulatory oversight, criminalisation creates a pressure-cooker atmosphere that attracts the most unsuitable actors and encourages their worst possible instincts. Users are at the whim and mercy of an erratic, unscrupulous and often violent criminal culture.
- Enforcement budgets drastically reduce the money available for public health spending. In 2016, the Australian government spent $1.1 billion on enforcement, more than double the entire budget for harm reduction, prevention and treatment.
- Users often avoid seeking medical help or advice because of the negative stigma surrounding drugs, not to mention their legitimate fear of arrest.
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