Legal regulation will increase availability of drugs to young people.
- Young people currently have access to drugs in an unregulated environment. The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of Australia found that 17% of respondents aged 14-19 had recently used illicit drugs.
- The drugs that young people currently use are not subject to any reliable controls. A 2018 study found that heroin seized in the state of Victoria had a purity that ranged between 3.6% and 80.9%, creating a massive risk of overdose.
- The drugs supplied by the black market are often contaminated and of unknown strength. For example, MDMA, a popular drug among young users, has been found in some instances to contain chemicals far more dangerous than intended.
- To obtain drugs, children engage with a criminal subculture, where they may be vulnerable to other forms of risk, or encouraged to escalate their drug use.
- Criminalisation at an early age can have a profound effect on a young person’s life, affecting self-esteem and future opportunities.
- We would all prefer to see young people avoid drugs altogether, but the reality right now is that if they do choose to experiment, they do so in the riskiest possible circumstances.
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