Pubdate: Mon, 28 Sep 1998
Date: 09/28/1998
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Author: Alex Wodak. MD
Note: Alex Wodak is President Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation

WHY did the NSW Government introduce the new "three strikes"
legislation for drug dealers?

Although this was one of the recommendations made by police royal
commissioner James Wood, another equally clear recommendation - to
establish injecting rooms - ended up with the establishment of yet
another parliamentary inquiry.

Predictably, a 6-4 majority of the committee showed that it did not
have the ticker to take the matter further, even though it could not
fault the logic behind the royal commissioner's recommendation.

The rationale behind the new "three strikes" legislation was to remove
anomalies in the law which drug traffickers were hiding behind.
However, as Wood and many others have clearly pointed out, illicit
drug law enforcement is not working.

Scotland Yard's anti-drug squad former head Edward Ellison said. "It
is no use replacing the engine when what is needed is a new car."

Politicians and the media are stuck in a groove on drug policy. While
the community recognises that we have to find more effective ways of
dealing with the problem, we do not hear new ideas from our political
masters or the media.

Unfortunately, we are only able to restrict supplies of illicit drugs
marginally. And so long as we have high levels of youth unemployment,
there will be strong demand for illicit drugs.

We can effectively and inexpensively reduce the harm caused by illicit
drug use through needle exchanges and methadone programs.

We need to reform drug laws that do not work.

Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation