Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Copyright: 1999 Canberra Times 
Author: Andrew Byrne, MD
Note: Dr. Byrne is a General Practitioner, Drug and Alcohol, Redfern
Note: Headline by MAP editor


COLLIS Parrett again criticises current drugs laws as being "hopelessly
contradictory", yet he gives us no new practical suggestions.

Despite some historical inconsistencies, drug laws can be based on sound
principles. For tobacco, alcohol and other traditional drugs, controls are
based on experience from here and overseas. For more recent arrivals like
ecstasy or cocaine we must learn the best approach by trial and error.

Parrett contends that safe injecting rooms will increase mortality. This is
not logical, nor has it been the case in Switzerland where such successful
facilities have been accepted for eight years and there has been no
explosion of drug use as predicted by Mr Parrett.

In 1900, when popular opiates were freely available from pharmacies,
mortality was about 5 per million a year, the same as Swiss rates today.
Our rate is now over 50 and still rising more than 1000 preventable deaths
of young Australians who were still unable to cope with Mr Parrett's ideal
of enforced abstinence.

Dr ANDREW BYRNE General Practitioner, Drug and Alcohol, Redfern

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