Added: Russel Oller - Date: 01.01.2022 17:26 - Views: 41305 - Clicks: 5518
We should all be concerned about our laws on illegal drugs because they affect all of us — people who use drugs; who have family members using drugs; health professionals seeing people for drug-related problems; ambulance and police officers in the front line of drug harms; and all of us who pay high insurance premiums because drug-related crime is extensive.
But what can we do? Some people feel that we should legalise drugs — treat them like alcohol and tobacco, as regulated products. Why legalise? One of the arguments for legalisation is that it would eliminate or at least ificantly reduce the illegal black market and criminal networks associated with the drug trade. Other arguments include moving the problem away from police and the criminal justice system and concentrating responses within health. Governments could accrue taxation revenue from illegal drugs as they currently do from gambling, alcohol and tobacco. The strongest argument against legalisation is that it would result in ificant increases in drug use.
We know that currently legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, are widely consumed and associated with an extensive economic burden to society — including hospital admissions, alcoholism treatment programs and public nuisance. So why create an environment where this may also come to pass for currently illegal drugs? But suppositions can be made about the extent of cost-savings to society. Indeed, some of our research on a regulated legal cannabis market suggests that there may not be the ificant savings under a legalisation regime that some commentators have argued.
But these are hypothetical exercises. Decriminalisation An alternative to legalisation is decriminalisation. But, in essence, decriminalisation refers to a reduction of legal penalties. Decriminalisation largely applies to drug use and possession offences, not to the sale or supply of drugs. Arguments in favour of decriminalisation include its focus on drug users rather than drug suppliers. The idea is to provide users with a more humane and sensible response to their drug use. Decriminalisation has the potential to reduce the burden on police and the criminal justice system. It also removes the negative consequences including stigma associated with criminal convictions for drug use.
There are also concerns that it may lead to increased drug use but this assumes that current criminal penalties operate as a deterrent for some people. The moral arguments noted above also apply to decriminalisation — lesser penalties may suggest that society approves of drug use. Many countries, including Australia, have decriminalised cannabis use: measures include providing diversion programs all Australian states and territories , and moving from criminal penalties to civil penalties such as fines in South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
And research on diverting drug use offenders away from a criminal conviction and into treatment has shown that these individuals are just as likely to succeed in treatment as those who attend voluntarily. Despite the largely supportive evidence base, politicians appear reluctant to proceed along the decriminalisation path. Some commentators have speculated that this is because of public opinion — decriminalisation is regarded as an unpopular policy choice. But public opinion is largely in support of decriminalisation, where it concerns cannabis though not decriminalisation for other illegal drugs.
The other reason for equivocal policy support, I believe, is a lack of clarity about the issues. Many people equate decriminalisation with legalisation, but as detailed above, they are very different in policy, intent and action. Decriminalisation is also sometimes incorrectly confused with harm reduction services, such as injecting centres or prescribed heroin programs. The Australia 21 Report released last week to stimulate informed public debate is an important step foward. In order for the debate to progress, we need clarity of terms, and dispassionate presentation of what evidence we have.
Every policy has both risks and benefits and we need to talk about these. Search form. Home Blogs z's blog Decriminalisation or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform Decriminalisation or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform debate by Professor Alison Ritter. The moral argument against legalisation is that it would send the wrong message. The moral argument against decriminalisation is that it suggests society approves of drug use.Arguments against legalizing drugs
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Decriminalisation or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform debate