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Legalise it, but still criticise it?

Posted by: Derryn Hinch | 2 April, 2012 - 5:25 PM

Eddie McGuire, who is pretty conservative on many issues, had a good column in the Sunday Herald Sun yesterday about how Australia – and the world in general – has lost the war against illegal drugs.

Billions of dollars have been spent on anti-drug campaigns but the drug lords, here and abroad, get richer. Governments miss out on billions of dollars in the taxes they could collect, similar to those they sop up from cigarettes and alcohol.

So maybe the time has come to look at legalising drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Especially marijuana.

*Scroll down and listen to Derryn interview Professor Bob Douglas AO, Author of report "The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen"

I have said many times that it seems ludicrous watching big burly coppers with guns on their hips studiously arresting pot plants. Arresting a natural plant.

Legalising such drugs would at least bring in some controls over the ingredients and users would no longer be buying junk laced with laundry detergent, rat poison, talcum powder and worse. And who knows what goes into ecstasy tablets and ice being manufactured in suburban drug labs?

If heroin addicts were able to buy their fix from a chemist, while being also being required to register and attend drug treatment programs, it may have some effect on the drugs quality and strength. And help kick the habit –rather than being treated like lepers.

In the case of marijuana I’ll concede there appears to be a strong link between pot abuse and schizophrenia but it hasn’t stopped the illegal trade. And many parents today worrying about their teenagers used pot themselves.

It is legal in some parts of Europe and the number of so-called chemist shops serving medicinal marijuana on Hollywood Boulevard in LA is eye-opening.

You can argue that legalising drugs will make them more appealing. Usually it’s the other way around.  Things that are illicit, off limits, illegal, that can be more alluring to young people experimenting with life.

Whatever your views it is time for a genuine national debate which will be sparked by a radical new report coming out tomorrow. It has been compiled by a high profile group of former premiers, health minister and lawyers.

The former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions sets the tone. He says: ‘ I am strongly in favour of legalising, regulating, controlling and taxing all drugs’

PLAY: Derryn interviews Professor Bob Douglas AO, Author of report "The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen"

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Drugs will always be a controversial subject and the laws vary with weed all over the world.It can be bought legally for medicinal purposes in the states only if there is proof that individual is terminally ill or in chronic pain.There are so many types of marijuana some are not always of top quality and it has been known to cause mental issues.Its the low life's out there that go into hospitals to get there fresh needles in their brown bag that makes me sick I say let them shoot up with a dirty needle
    and the sooner they die the better.They should not be legalised it would throw everything into turmoil in more ways than one.

    mandy Saturday 16 June, 2012 - 8:43 PM
  • One aspect of the legalising drug argument is this idea that one approach or the other will stamp out problems deriving from drugs altogether. They won't. It's about minimising the damage. So what's causing less harm? Legalising drugs so they're taxed, the quality is regulated, distributors held accountable, opening of education to go beyond just saying "don't do drugs" and the taxes can provide better health services. OR keep them illegal with all problems Hinch listed, which globally has not succeeded anywhere other than filling prisons and seeing waves of violent crime amongst rival gangs. Portugal decriminalised drugs in an effort to cut HIV amongst needle users and cut the crime rates and it has been a smashing success at reducing both. Statistics also show there was no increase in drug users. Read any independent study on the legalisation of marijuana in the Netherlands and once again, improvements. Guesswork and viewing in simple black and white like "ConcernedMother" is not how you form policy, science based research is how and it all indicates decriminalisation.

    Maurice Saturday 2 June, 2012 - 11:38 AM
  • "What would be the use of critising drugs if they are legal. An ex addict rang you this arvo Derryn saying that if it was legal what was there to stop him getting back on them and you howled him down. In fact you were so vehement about legalising drugs that you began to splutter."

    Speaking as an ex-addict myself, the reason I stay away from drugs is because I've learned that the negatives they cause in my life outweigh the positives, the legality has nothing to do with it, because most people who want drugs can access them illegally anyway.

    If I wanted to go back to using I'd make a phone call and be shooting up half an hour later, so illegality obviously isn't much of deterrent. Legalizing them wouldn't make it easier for me to access drugs, because they're already so easy to access that they might as well be legal. The only difference is that buying on the black market means that I risk ingesting all sorts of contaminants, or overdosing because there's no way of gauging the purity of my drugs.

    Ian Tuesday 1 May, 2012 - 10:01 PM
  • we should def legalise drugs. Laws preventing people from exploring their mind in a responsible manner is the real crime here. Regarding Derryns idea that heroin users should be on some kind of rehab program, in legalising drugs one would hope this would incorporate the drug Ibogaine which has shown remarkable results in treating heroin addiction including 100% physical recovery from long term addiction within hours of treatment. We need more education about drugs and less laws and scare tactics

    steve Wednesday 4 April, 2012 - 7:34 PM
  • The current policy of prohibition is both failing to protect people from drugs and enriching the criminal underworld.

    If you support a policy of prohibition you support a policy that makes criminals richer and makes drugs more dangerous.

    strayan Wednesday 4 April, 2012 - 1:32 PM
  • If they legalise it they can tax it. With the money the government will make they won't need the stupid carbon tax.

    Mark Tuesday 3 April, 2012 - 3:19 PM

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