• Drug Wars: A battle fought only with ourselves

    Drug Wars: A battle fought only with ourselves

     July 30, 2020 ·   · 1 reaction

    There is nothing simple about drug use and it is essential to have a sense of perspective.

    Drug use is widely considered to be an overpowering social ill, a perennial threat. Yet in truth, the picture is ambiguous in the extreme. As the historian, Lucy Inglis comments in Milk of Paradise: a History of Opium, many of us will end our lives being given morphine to dull pain. 

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  • Australians now support legalising cannabis and pill testing

    Australians now support legalising cannabis and pill testing

     July 16, 2020 ·   · 2 reactions

    A growing number of Australians support the legalisation of cannabis, while almost three in five back the idea of pill testing, according to a new national survey.

    The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey also shows Australians are drinking and smoking less, but some illicit drug use is on the rise.

    Importantly, this national snapshot, released on Thursday, shows the Australian community is becoming more open to less punitive measures around drug use.

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  • Pushing away our Poison - Brain Training Provides Hope to Beat ICE Addiction

    Pushing away our Poison - Brain Training Provides Hope to Beat ICE Addiction

     October 17, 2019 ·   · 2 reactions

    Between 2017 and 2018, 62% of the 130,000 individuals presenting to drug and alcohol treatment were there because of problems relating to either alcohol or methamphetamine (‘ice’) use. Unfortunately, relapse after treatment remains the norm, with a national study showing that only 52% of treatment-seekers substantially reducing or quitting their substance use a year later.

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  • Inside the Bloody Drug War, by Antony Loewenstein

    Inside the Bloody Drug War, by Antony Loewenstein

     August 17, 2019 ·   · 2 reactions

    Antony Loewenstein will be appearing at the Melbourne Town Hall on the 9th September to launch his new book, 'Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs'. The evening will also feature a panel discussion with community leaders including Fiona Patten, Julian Burnside, Laura Turner, Mick Palmer, Greg Barns and hosted by ABC Radio journalist, Jon Faine. Antony Loewenstein will speak about the issues raised in his book and be available afterwards for a book signing.

    When I started writing about the war on drugs many years ago, I soon realised its connection to the other bogus war in the last decades, the war on terror. Both conflicts are unwinnable and yet countless governments around the world invest billions of dollars annually into a militarised battle that’s done nothing to address the reasons so many people consume drugs.

    Instead, drug use and abuse are soaring around the world, including in Australia, and the results are clear to see; overdoses, dirty and untested pills consumed at music festivals and ever-present stigmatisation around anybody who uses illicit substances.

     

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  • Let's admit Drug Use can be Fun!

    Let's admit Drug Use can be Fun!

     May 23, 2019 ·   · 3 reactions

    Millions of Australians use, or have used, illicit substances at some point in their life, while millions more are regular users of legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco or sleeping pills.

    While some people become heavy users of alcohol or other drugs as a way of coping with past trauma or mental illness, this is not the story for millions of others. Young (and older) people use drugs and alcohol for fun, enjoyment and socialisation.

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  • It's Time for a Summit on Drug Decriminalisation

    It's Time for a Summit on Drug Decriminalisation

     April 15, 2019 ·   · 5 reactions

    In describing in her findings arising from a wide ranging inquest into six fatal opioid overdose events, current illicit drug policy as “futile” and likely to exacerbate drug related harm, the NSW Deputy State Coroner, Harriet Grahame, urged the NSW Government to have the courage to commit to conducting a summit on drug decriminalisation.

    On any reading of her findings, it seems clear that these are opinions directly driven by the facts as presented at the inquests and the coroner’s frustration, in the face of this evidence, at the continuing refusal or inability of the government to do more to stem the frequency of overdoses across the State.

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  • UN Changes Course on Drug Policy - Prioritises Human Rights

    UN Changes Course on Drug Policy - Prioritises Human Rights

     April 10, 2019 ·   · 3 reactions

    It's 110 years since international cooperation on drug control began. In February 1909 the International Opium Commission in Shanghai saw governments from around the world come together to address what was dubbed “the opium question”, by proposing a global plan to suppress illicit opium use and markets. The meeting kicked off a century-long project of ever increasing international collaboration to eradicate illicit drug use and markets, culminating in the three United Nations drug treaties adopted in 1961, 1971 and 1988.

    Since the 1970s, and the start of the “war on drugs”, these efforts have been marked by the increasing use of laws focused on punishment, policing, prisons and even the military as core tools of drug enforcement. Alongside this there has also been an escalation of human rights violations linked to drug control.

     

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  • United Nations Supports Decriminalisation of Drugs

    United Nations Supports Decriminalisation of Drugs

     March 28, 2019 ·   · 2 reactions

    The United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB), comprising 31 heads of UN agencies and associated programs, has released a policy statement endorsing the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use. The same document also outlines a broader intent to shape international drug policy in terms of public health, human rights and sustainable development.

    The 'directions for action' provided in the statement include a pledge 'to promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use'.  This represents a significant advance from the UN's previous position.

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  • Removing Cannabis from the Equation

    Removing Cannabis from the Equation

     February 02, 2019 ·   · 3 reactions

    “Why are the police proceeding with this?” was my question. My client said what she had in her pocket barely registered on the police station’s weighing machine. 

    One of my first cases as young lawyer was plea bargaining for a PhD university student arrested for a small amount of cannabis because she happened to be talking to a person ‘of interest’ to police. Other people are unlucky too. 

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  • History not Harm, Dictates why some Drugs are Illegal

    History not Harm, Dictates why some Drugs are Illegal

     February 01, 2019 ·   · 4 reactions

    Nicole Lee, Curtin University and Jarryd Bartle, RMIT University

    Drug-related offences take up a lot of the resources within Australia's criminal justice system. In 2016–17 law enforcement made 113,533 illicit drug seizures and 154,650 drug-related arrests.

    Harm-reduction advocates are calling for the legalisation of some drugs, and the removal of criminal penalties on others. And there's public support for both.

    But how did some drugs become illegal in the first place? And what drives our current drug laws?

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