“If we are to reduce the pernicious effects of black market drugs on the Australian community, control of the drug supply system must ultimately be diverted from criminal to civil and government authorities. We must evolve a new approach that acknowledges the powerful economic forces of the drug market, but which is acceptable to the community, and is achievable politically.”Australia 21, in a 2012 report to the Australian government
a new model
LEAP Australia takes the view that the current total prohibition approach toward drug policy has failed and we need to adopt new ways to manage drug use in our community.
Moves are already underway in Australia that reflect concerns about the impact of drug prohibition. In 2012 Australia21, a non-profit organisation whose core business is research and development on issues of strategic importance to Australia in the 21st Century, released two reports on drug policy drawn up after meetings with prominent members of the community.
Terminology can be confusing. The words ‘decriminalization’ and ‘legalization’ are often used in ways that seems to imply that they are interchangeable, however they are not. Decriminalisation is the policy of removing criminal penalties for minor drug offences, such as the possession and use of currently illicit substances. Whilst there has been some very positive results in countries that have decriminalised drug use, It does not remove the black market.
Legalisation is the process where drugs are no longer illegal and the manufacture, production and sale is given over to private enterprise. LEAP does not support this approach as we have seen how the promotion and marketing of currently licit substances such as alcohol and tobacco can increase their use and lead to increased damage to communities.
Regulation would mean strict government control of certain drugs, under responsible regulatory system:
- strongly regulated production levels – e.g. government produced or tightly regulated private production
- non-profit government production or a high proportion of private production profit going back to government
- a high level of harm prevention messages/approaches with increased access to treatment services
- health/treatment-related information provided directly with sale/provision
- no advertising or sponsorship
- sales/provision only to adults
- no widespread retail sale – e.g. in supermarkets, convenience stores
- sale of lower-risk products by specialised government-licensed retailers
- provision of highest-risk products (e.g. opiates) under supervision of medical practitioners
limits on amounts consumers may purchase/are provided with, and tracking of amounts obtained for certain drugs.
LEAP believes that the approach that will reduce the negative consequences of drug use and lead to a far better outcomes for our community is the regulated and controlled availability of currently illicit drugs.
what regulation of supply means
Tight government standards for production including:
- type of drug preparation and administration methods with lowest risk of harm
- potency of dose is low risk
- purity – restrictions on contaminants/additives
- prices of products set at levels high enough to discourage heavy use but low enough to prevent a black market
- flexible legislation/regulation to allow swift adjustment in a newly emerging area.
Regulated markets would:
- promote low-risk drugs
- offer drugs of standardised purity
- offer safe use or dependence advice
- refer their customers to treatment
- refuse to sell to minors.
Eliminating prohibition would mean:
- Less drug-related crime
- Less violence in the community
- Fewer criminal profits
- Reduced prison population
- Less pressure on criminal justice system
- Reduced funds for other criminal activities
- Huge financial savings
- Reduced money laundering
- Less stigma, discrimination and improved health
- Less corruption and human rights abuse
- Reduce ‘legitimizing’ of drug networks.