Pubdate: Mon, 01 Oct 2007
Source: Courier-Mail, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 Queensland Newspapers
Author: Matt Cunningham


THREE out of four people arrested and detained by  police in Darwin
are under the influence of illicit  drugs, research shows.

Australian Institute of Criminology data reveals 73 per  cent of
Darwin detainees tested positive to cannabis in  July and August,
steadily increasing from 46 per cent  in January last year.

Another 8 per cent tested positive to  methylamphetamine, the drug
commonly known as speed.

The data, compiled under the AIC's Drug Use Monitoring  in Australia
program (DUMA), shows a steady increase in  the number of offenders
testing positive to cannabis.

Drug Free Australia executive officer Jo Baxter said  there was a
common misconception that cannabis was a  "soft" drug.

"Research now shows just how complex and dangerous this  drug is," she

She said Australian Governments needed to be tougher on  illicit

"Then, and only then, will we begin to get the results  similar to
those countries that have been successful  reducing illicit drug use,"
she said.

But NT police say alcohol is a far bigger problem than  any illicit
drug when it comes to crime.

Officer-in-charge of the NT Police Drug and Alcohol  policy unit Sgt
Scott Mitchell said the statistics for  cannabis use among Darwin
offenders were not  significantly different to the rest of Australia,
but  they were for alcohol.

Our cannabis figures aren't alarming (by comparison)  but there's a
significant difference in the alcohol  figures," Sgt Mitchell said.

DUMA statistics also showed 83 per cent of female  offenders and 82
per cent of male offenders had  reported heavy alcohol use at some
time in the 30 days  before their offence.

This figure was far higher than anywhere else in the country.

"It's that really high level of drinking and offending  that's the
problem," said Sgt Mitchell.

"People when they get drunk do dumb things. They get  into cars and
drive. We know they shot someone because  they looked at their girlfriend.

"Cannabis users, by and large, are fairly mellow."
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