Pubdate: Sun, 16 Aug 1998
Date: 08/16/1998
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Peter Watney

ALMOST a decade ago Michael Moore initiated a study by the National
Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) into a heroin
trial. The Legislative Assembly thought the situation sufficiently
serious to support the initiative.

Three years ago a spate of heroin deaths prompted the formation of
Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, a group largely made up of
respectable hard working people who had lost loved ones to the curse
of heroin and who refuted the popular image of the heroin addict. They
knew the quality of the people they had lost and knew that the demon
that had killed them was a sickness and that they were not criminal

Two and a half years ago the Legislative Assembly approved the
detailed proposals and carefully worked out protocols for a trial,
that would enable clinical quality heroin to be injected in safe
surroundings, under medically qualified supervision, by carefully
selected local addicts, and with records of the medical and social
outcomes to be made available to the world.

Two years ago the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy failed to
approve the trial, but decided to leave it on the table for the 1997
meeting of the Council.

One year ago the Ministerial Council with federal Cabinet approval had
authorised a trial in accordance with the NCEPH protocols only to have
the trial vetoed a week later by the Prime Minister immediately on his
return to duty from a spell in hospital. He demanded more of the same
old zero tolerance, ineffective, law and order campaign and authorised
the odd few extra millions to execute it.

Today the situation is predictably worse, so all that Michael Moore is
able to attempt is the clinical surroundings and trained supervision
without the clinical quality heroin or the research findings that the
trial would have provided.

And even that is better than nothing, provided the Nation's
intellectually challenged leadership does not again exercise its veto.

Peter Watney,