Pubdate: Mon, 17 Dec 2001
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 The Sydney Morning Herald
Authors: Tony Trimingham, Robert Sharpe


I would have thought that a reduction of deaths from heroin would have been 
welcomed and received bipartisan support.

Kerry Chikarovski has been vocal in opposition to policy reforms introduced 
by the NSW Government in the last couple of years. Opposition is legitimate 
in the political process but her dismissal of the latest figures for 
drug-related deaths last year is very disappointing and hurtful to families 
struggling to survive their loved ones' drug problems.

The reduction of 38 per cent is significant, especially when these figures 
precede the heroin shortage of the current year.

Every death is regrettable and we still need to save more lives. The 
transfer to other drugs by former heroin users, particularly speed and 
cocaine, brings significant other problems and indeed we need to constantly 
revise initiatives to counter new drug trends.

For those of us who fight to reduce deaths from drugs, these figures are 
the most welcome news for some years. All who play their part in combating 
drug problems can take a measure of credit, including all levels of 
government. Let's not score cheap political points on this most sensitive 
of social issues.

Tony Trimingham

Family Drug Support


Bob Carr's Government recently unveiled a "tough" anti-gang package 
(Herald, December 5). The drug lords that the Police Minister, Michael 
Costa, has vowed to smash are no doubt thrilled. Tough drug laws give rise 
to a lucrative black market in illegal drugs, effectively subsidising 
organised crime. That the new act is "strongly influenced by US research" 
is cause for alarm. US Government research on drugs is highly politicised 
and should be viewed with scepticism. American politicians refuse to learn 
from American history. Like the modern drug war, alcohol prohibition 
financed organised crime during the early 1900s, while failing miserably at 
preventing use.

American liquor producers no longer kill each other in turf battles, nor do 
consumers go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin. The crime, corruption, 
and overdose deaths attributed to drugs are all direct results of drug 

Opportunistic US politicians disingenuously use this collateral damage to 
justify a failed policy.

Unfortunately, the former land of the free and current record-holder in 
citizens incarcerated continues to use its superpower status to export a 
dangerous moral crusade around the globe.

Robert Sharpe

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation

Washington, DC, US
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