War on drugs: status update

So, most of the world went insane over the issue of drug consumption, about forty years ago. Death penalties, custodial sentences, intense and sustained campaigns of public shaming of drug users, etc.

How is it working out? 

An update, from The Weekend Australian of September 26-27:

Half of drivers caught on drugs

Almost half of all drivers tested positive for illegal drugs, including ice, during a recent police operation in regional NSW, with the rate of motorists using narcotics across Australia many times higher than that of those driving while drunk.

Police have recorded similar figures in several recent operations ranging from far north Queensland to Victoria in recent months, where between one in two and one in seven drivers have been found to be under the influence of drugs.

Senior police commanders and politicians say the results raise serious fears over public safety and confirm how widespread ice, or crystal methampehtamine, has become through the country …

One in every 15 drivers subjected to roadside drug tests by NSW police this year had recently taken cannabis methamphetamine or MDMA, the class of drugs including ecstasy.

Comparable numbers have been detected in Victoria and South Australia, where a week-long operation by police caught four parents who were dropping their children at school in Adelaide while under the influence of methamphetamines. A fifth parent was drunk.

The rate of positive tests in the ACT last year was almost one in six. In contrast, the proportion of drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol during random breath tests in each of these states and territories is much lower, ranging from one in 76 to one in 567.

It’s going well, isn’t it. Note that methamphetamines and MDMA weren’t even around as popular drugs when the war on drugs began.

The failure of the current approach to restricting drug use is complete. Expending more resources on it is a waste of time. However, because the political classes were so sure they were on a winner forty years ago, and to make an easy case on which to base their fascist intrusion into people’s private lives, they made drug use a moral issue. And that moralising of drug consumption means that they find it almost impossible to climb down from their current policy position, despite its complete failure.

Hope is at hand. The complete legalisation, regulation and taxation of marijuana in a few US states, and the approval of medical marijuana in a handful more, is changing attitudes to drug use. The success of those reforms, as well as the success of reforms in Portugal, should result in reforms here in backward, blinkered Australia.


It’s my hope that, one day before I die, I’ll be able to enjoy a joint or two, in the company of friends, completely legally.


About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
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