Pubdate: Tue, 9 Mar 1999
Source: Canberra Chronicle (Australia)
Page: 4
Fax: +61 2 6239 1345
Author: Jim Coates


WHILE I welcome the Prime Minister's decision to bring forward the
funding of community-based agencies conducting drug rehabilitation
programs, the current Federal Government policy of zero tolerance for
drug use hasn't worked even though there has been an increase in the
amount of illicit drugs seized by police and customs officials in the
last year.

The rapid increase in the number of people using heroin, cocaine,
amphetamines and other illicit drugs over the last few years along
with the escalation of drug-related crime and deaths through drug
overdoses is evidence of its failure.

The emphasis should be changed further towards harm

This will include the expansion of rehabilitation clinics for people
wanting to get off drugs and for those who want to keep using them,
the provision of safe injecting rooms should be tried along with a
trial of the prescription of heroin to a select group of registered
users which is supported by the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

These would reduce the number of heroin deaths and reduce the need for
persons using heroin to resort to crime to finance their habit.

Who would stand to lose from such a policy? The drug pushers and crime

Who would stand to gain? The community as a whole through the
reduction of the harm illicit drug use causes.


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