My last two blogs have looked at two of Australia’s biggest problem drugs. MDMA and crystal meth. Both these are currently prohibited substances, yet still they run rampant in society. So what can we do about them?
There are two possible paths that can be taken to reduce current trends of injury, crime and fatalities that have been seen on a regular basis in relation to both of these drugs.The idea of legalising and regulating a drug like MDMA may sound stupid at first, but when delving a little bit deeper into the concept its an idea that may well see a huge decline in the illegal drug trade.
Take Portugal for example, in 2001 it introduced a radical new drug reform decriminalising all drugs. Drugs were still illegal but instead of jail time, fines and referral to treatment were recommended. “In the years leading up to the reform, the number of drug-related deaths had soared, and rates of HIV, AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B and C among people who inject drugs were rapidly increasing.” (George Murkin)
The aim was to de stigmatise drug addiction and allow people to take action and control of their habits. Portugal’s numbers in many drug health related problems declined. And above fears that drug use would increase, figures dropped. From 2001 to 2012 adult rate of continuation between the ages of 15-64 dropped from 45% below 30%. Drug induced deaths lowered from 80 a year to below 20.
The idea isn’t to decriminalise all drugs, but MDMA when produced properly is meant to be a harmless drug. If the government was to regulate MDMA production and making pure tablets without harmful substances in a laboratory, it may allow for a huge decrease in deaths or illness from taking these poisonous MDMA tablets that contain anything but the one ingredient people want to have. If these products were safely sold with a list of ingredients it may just be a way to reduce a number of drug issues.
Dealers for one would lose huge portions of their business. Why would you buy something from a dodgy homemade lab when you could spend more money and buy a safe pure product? It seems like a open and shut case. If you asked 100 people if they would try my homemade panadol tablet for free or spend a dollar and have one made from the chemist. I think the answer to that one obvious.
You wouldn’t have a beer brewed that has unknown ingredients by an unknow
n person in an unknown town when you can buy a slab of VB for $45, so why do people take the same risk with illicit drugs? Because with drugs like MDMA the government hasn’t looked into a policy idea such as this, the ethics behind the thought of legalising drugs is too risky. But just like the infamous ‘moonshine period’ when people were making their own alcohol and many were falling ill from dodgy recipes, its the same principle. Regulation becomes the preventative measure. If some drugs such as MDMA were professionally made with the correct ingredients and dosage, its possible that a huge reduction in deaths from things such as overdoses would take place.
For a drug like ice which is simply catastrophic in all its effects. Harsher punishments should be implemented. Manufacturers and dealers must receive harsh penalties and longer sentences. There is no other way to look at it. Families and friends of drug addicts would want to see those who introduced their loved ones to ice and fed their addiction for personal gain, behind bars for a long time. And with the implications ice has with the amount of violence and deaths it seems logical.
As I’ve previously mentioned I do not condone drug use and I do not condemn people who use them, but if peoples lives are saved by better education and new policies then think its important that its people are aware of the current issue at hand and the possible action plans that can be implemented. A balance between regulation and harsher convictions may be a solution to Australia’s current drug problems.
Allison Ritter, National Drug and Research Centre,
‘Decriminalisation or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform debate,’ Retrieved May 8th 2016
George Murkin, 2014, ‘Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal: Setting the record straight’ July 11. Retrieved May 7th 2016
Zeeshan Aleem, 2015, ’14 Years After Decriminalising All Drugs, Here’s What Portugal Looks Like, February 11. Retrieved May 8th 2016