JOHN MENADUE. The ‘war on drugs’ is a disastrous failure.We must find a better way

Jan 11, 2019

Attached is a collection of articles on drug policy reform, which were published as a series on Pearls and Irritations between 6 and 11 August 2018. This series was designed to draw attention to this important issue, and to the failure of our current policies.

Despite the clear failure of the war on drugs across the world our police and border force officers tell us breathlessly time and time again about another record drug haul. Who are they kidding about the success of present policies.?Do they even believe their own propaganda? When will they stop and ask themselves some hard questions. They might even suggest to Ministers that they need to embark on a thorough re think of failed policies.  The stubbornness of politicians is putting more and more lives at risk.

Present drug policies are not working. Drug use with its enormous personal, social and national cost is increasing rapidly. This is despite the very expensive regulatory activities, particularly by police and Border Force. The ‘war on drugs’ has failed not just in Australia but around the world.

We focus on enforcement rather than the health of our people.

There must be a better way. This issue needs substantial and serious discussion. That discussion is sadly lacking today. What can we learn from overseas experience? In 2011, Portugal decriminalised the use and possession of quantities of drugs consistent with personal consumption. Benefits were huge and negatives were minimal.

Our political leaders are cautious, perhaps because of concern that they may be criticised as being ‘soft on drugs’. But, unfortunately the result of our caution is that the trade in drugs is largely left in the hands of criminals and is wreaking widespread personal and social damage.

We hope you find this drug policy reform series helpful in addressing what is widely regarded a major national problem.

Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Mick Palmer, former Commissioner of the AFP, and William Bush and Marion McConnell of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform have all assisted with this drug policy reform series.

Drug policy reform series – consolidated PDF – 21 Aug 18

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