Pubdate: Fri, 23 Mar 2001
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 The Sydney Morning Herald
Contact:  GPO Box 3771, Sydney NSW 2001
Fax: 61-(0)2-9282 3492
Author: Patrick Ryan


As John Howard rushes to create yet another star chamber, this time for 
drug policy, I am concerned that nothing is being done to record the drug 
habits of the population.

Census 2001 will not ask for any information on the drug consumption habits 
of 18 million Australians.

Thus, we won't know if the rise in drug-related arrests (now 81,000 pa) or 
heroin-related deaths is due to successful drug policy or a significant 
increase in the size of the drug market.

We will not get an opportunity to get accurate statistics on drug usage 
until the next Census. Then we will have to wait another six years to find 
out if we are winning the war on drugs.

By 2013, based on present arrest rates, we will have prosecuted 
(persecuted?) more than 970,000 Australians and blown billions of dollars. 
But will we have markedly changed the drug habits of a nation?

In the upcoming Census, I recommend that Australians list their drug of 
choice instead of their religion, creating the first statistic.

Otherwise, we are just blasting cannon-loads of money into the darkness, 
while the politicians, media and the ignorant yell hurrah.

Patrick Ryan, Redfern, March 21.
- ---
MAP posted-by: GD