Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jun 1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: B. McConnell


WHEN it is all said and done the debate about illegal drugs is not really
about drugs and it is not even about the addicts and their families, the
irrelevant victims.

The debate is about money, greed and power. The legal side of the illegal
drug trade in Australia employs thousands of people and is worth billions
of dollars. It includes the criminal-justice system (lawyers, police,
Customs, prison workers, judges), the health and the drug-user
rehabilitation industry, the media (how many days go past when there is not
a drug story in the news), Members of Parliament who use the drug debate to
be elected, and the drug-use-prevention industry, to name but a few.

And then there are those engaged in the illegal side: the major financiers,
producers, manufacturers, traffickers, dealers, those who are corrupted to
turn a blind eye and those who are corrupted to facilitate in some way.

Nobody knows precisely how much money is involved but start with the 1997
Access Economics' turnover figure of $7 billion for the drugs only, and
then work upwards. With so much money at stake and so many who stand to
lose, who can be surprised that there is so much opposition to real reform
of the drug laws?

B. McCONNELL President, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart