Newsletter December 2023

We have good news to share as Christmas approaches and another year ends.

Key highlights in Australia include Canberra's groundbreaking move to decriminalize personal drug possession and Queensland's progressive step towards implementing drug-checking. These developments are not just milestones; they signal a seismic shift towards more rational and compassionate policies.

There is a growing consensus among the public and politicians that the current drug laws are counterproductive and not fit for purpose. The upcoming year is crucial, especially with the NSW Drug Summit on the horizon and the topic of cannabis legalization gaining traction in multiple state and federal parliaments.

Let's dive in with the most significant good news for the year!


Firstly, thank you for your continued support for compassionate and rational drug policies. I am more convinced than ever that drug policy reform is one of our time's most significant human rights and social justice issues. The billions of dollars squandered on the futile enforcement of the drug prohibition is a colossal cost to all Australians.

Imagine the transformative impact we could achieve for the less fortunate if we did not waste these vast sums on a foolish quest for a drug-free society.

Reflecting on 2023, we have much to rejoice with significant drug policy developments in Australia and across the globe.

Canberra Decriminalises Drugs

On October 28, the ACT made history as the first Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise the personal possession of illicit drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA. Whoa!

TGA Reclassified Psychedelics

In other exciting news, on the 1st of July, the TGA reclassified MDMA and Psilocybin from prohibited to controlled drugs, opening the door for psychiatrists to prescribe them to treat PTSD and treatment-resistant depression.

OST Added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

On the same day, methadone and buprenorphine prescriptions were covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The historic change has reduced the cost of the medicine to $30 a month, or as little as $7.50 for concession card holders. A big win for harm reduction by treating people with drug issues the same as other Australians.

Drug Checking in ACT and Queensland

Queensland is poised to introduce drug-checking services in February next year, and Australia’s first fixed-site drug-checking service in Canberra was extended for another two years. These landmark initiatives by Queensland and the ACT set a precedent for other Australian states, such as Victoria and New South Wales, to implement similar harm reduction programs. Watch this space!


United Nations Report support the responsible regulation of drugs

There are positive developments worldwide, significantly at the United Nations, where, for the first time, a landmark report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recommended that member states consider legal regulation of currently illicit drugs as a solution to the human rights violations caused by prohibition.

In September, the OHCHHR tabled a groundbreaking report, Human Rights Challenges in addressing and countering all aspects of the world drug problem, calling for drug decriminalisation and the responsible regulation of drugs. That’s right; this is the first time that a high-level UN body has come out in support of the legal regulation of drugs, citing human rights violations as a disastrous outcome of the "Drug-Free World" agenda. For more information, see our website article, UN Backflips on Drug Policy.

United Nations Mid-term Review International Drug Policy Commitments

The stranglehold of the three UN drug treaties on domestic drug policy is being loosened incrementally and irreversibly. Apart from the OHCHR, other UN bodies, like the World Health Organisation, are also challenging the "drug-free world" paradigm. The United Nations high-level midterm review is to be held on 14-15 March 2024 and will serve to assess progress made in the implementation of the international drug policy commitments as set forth in the vacuous 2019 Ministerial Declaration.


Legal Cannabis Sweeping Across Europe

Cannabis reforms have taken over Europe, with Luxemburg, Malta, and Switzerland all legalising cannabis in recent months. Meanwhile, politicians in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Germany are pushing for legalisation that is expected in 2024. When will Australia legalise cannabis?

Fentanyl Expected In 2024

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate 50 times more potent than heroin, responsible for 60,000 overdose deaths in the US last year and, according to the Australian Federal Police, is soon to arrive in Australia.

The 95% reduction in Afghanistan's 2023 opium harvest, as reported recently by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, increases the likelihood of 2024 being the year fentanyl arrives in Australia.

Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl test strips (FTS) provide a quick and easy means of detecting fentanyl, giving results in less than a minute through a simple dip test. They can be the canary in the coal mine, alerting consumers and health professionals to potential danger.

Having adequate supplies of these test strips available through Needle and Syringe Programs could save many lives in the event of an influx of fentanyl into illicit drug markets.

We are one of the few organisations importing Fentanyl test strips into Australia and are making them available to Needle and Syringe services to meet expected demand.

If you or someone you care about is using drugs, please consider purchasing some Fentanyl test strips that detect the presence of Fentanyl and many of its analogues.

We stock these in our shop for your convenience.


Support Drug Policy Australia

A global shift is occurring, but things are not moving fast enough. Overdose deaths continue to rise, and fentanyl is becoming an ever-present threat in Australia.

At Drug Policy Australia, we are committed to advocating for a change to our outdated drug laws to stop any further unnecessary harm. But we need your help.

As a registered charity, we rely on your generous donations to continue our fight for drug policy reform. Your donation will advance sensible, evidence-based drug policies that support justice and human rights.

All donations are fully tax-deductible.

We need to talk.... about REFORM! 

Passionate about drug policy reform? Our new Reformers Club brings like-minded thinkers together to discuss new ideas and strategies for change!

As a reformer's club member, you will be invited to join our online forums, where we will discuss drug reform with Drug Policy Australia directors and other experts in the field.

Our Reformers Club has grown exponentially, bringing together experts, activists, and concerned citizens to strategize and advocate for policy change.

Join the movement. Sign up for the Reformers Club here.

How to Argue the Case for Reform with Friends and Family

Join the fight

Want to talk with your loved ones about drug policy reform but don't have all the answers? Download our free e-book, and equip yourself with the tools to educate your friends and family on the ins and outs of drug reform.

Download the Case for Reform e-book here.

There is a better way!

Our current drug laws are unfairly targeting the most vulnerable members of our community, including young people and Indigenous Australians. In 2021, 1,675 Australians died of an accidental drug overdose. Deaths that could have been prevented.

How many more Australians need to die before our politicians start to take action?

We campaign for a compassionate world where vulnerable individuals are not persecuted, prosecuted and demeaned for their drug use; they are met with care and compassion.

Having recovered from my addiction, I appreciate how counterproductive the current drug laws are. The laws did not help me then; they are not helping the thousands of families who need help with addiction today.

This is why Doctor John Sherman, an addiction specialist with 40 years of experience, and I started Drug Policy Australia.

How You Can Help.

Do you agree that vulnerable Australians with problematic drug use deserve support, not punishment? 

If so, please help us end the persecution of vulnerable Australians who need help.

As a small charity, we depend on your donations to carry out our work. We are endlessly grateful for your commitment and know that every cent counts towards a fairer future. 

Drug Policy Australia is a registered charity, and all donations are tax-deductible.

Finally, we thank you for your continued support and dedication to drug policy reform. Together, we are making a difference, pushing for policies prioritising health, dignity, and human rights. Let's carry this momentum into 2024 and beyond!

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