October 8, 2012 by preventyouthdrugabuse
“Our prisons are crowded with people whose lives have been ruined by dependence on these drugs…the current prohibition of illegal drugs is creating more harms than benefits and needs to be reconsidered by the Australian community.”
Drug abuse can ruin the lives of youth. But what good does a prison sentence do to help? Criminalising of particular ‘illicit’ drugs has been and still currently remains the policy in regards to drug use and this has proven to be more harmful to our society than what was anticipated. This statement that the criminalisation of drugs is in fact harmful has been supported by a recent article by Australia21 in a report titled “The Prohibition Of Illicit Drugs Is Killing And Criminalising Our Children And We Are All Letting It Happen”. This report gives insight into why our current prohibition approach to drugs is failing and suggests and provides evidence to support drug regulation.
Our government and police force are putting in their best efforts to fight off drugs, but it seems pretty clear that criminalisation isn’t working, here a couple of examples to show how:
- 1/3 people in Australia use cannabis (according to the NCPIC)
- 18% of secondary school students have used cannabis
- In NSW, 150 approx. are imprisoned each year for drug possession (according Legal Answers, State Library NSW)
- Criminalisation of drugs has pushed the cultivation, production and trade ‘underground’ into the hands of criminal gangs
There are a considerable amount of people using drugs, especially amongst teenagers. Criminalisation of drugs exists yet so many young people still have access to these drugs, that’s why I believe that certain drugs should in fact be legalised and regulated. I think first though it is important to know what is meant by regulation. The Australia21 report defines it as “establishing a strictly controlled legal market for drugs as is the case with pharmaceutical drugs, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.”
Let’s first focus on the user. Imagine if possession of certain substances in small quantities for personal consumption was decriminalised, what a positive impact it could potentially have on society. I know it sounds like a bit of a bold statement, but if regulated properly, the issue involving youth and drugs will not be exacerbated. It would first of all take a lot of strain off the local court system and our prison system – drugs can ruin people’s lives, but sending someone to prison or giving them a criminal record does not assist in helping them to get their lives back on track. Legalising some drugs can allow for support systems to be put in place to assist those with addiction problems as well as laws and measures similar to our Responsible Service of Alcohol policies but for drugs (this was mentioned in a previous blog). It will allow the age of people who access drugs to be controlled, the quantity that they can purchase within a given timeframe, and assistance can be provided easily. Furthermore, similar marketing approaches can be made with drugs as have been made with tobacco – these marketing strategies have actually helped reduce the harm of tobacco amongst society.
Regulating drugs is no simple legislation and no perfect solution, however it is an approach realises that drugs do and will continue to exist whether criminalised or not, and takes a public health approach in an attempt to ensure that if drugs are used, they are not abused.